On Monday, an Army Blackhawk helicopter made an emergency landing at Koko Head Elementary School. While the maintenance crew repaired the helicopter, the air crew invited the entire school to tour it! It was a unscheduled opportunity for school children to learn about the Army.
Today we have a scheduled opportunity to meet Army veteran turned romance author Stephanie Burkhart.
|Brandenburg Gate - separating East and West|
Kim: Tell us about your military service – what was your favorite place, food, and experience in Germany.
Steph: Gosh, Kim, I went all over Germany. I was stationed in Muenster from 1986-1988, Fulda/Bad Hersfeld 1989-1992 and Hanau 1995-1997. I visited several cities: Dortmund, Giessen, Berchtesgaden, Garmish, but the one city that really resonated with me was Berlin.
In 1988, I won soldier of the quarter for my battalion and because of that, I got a chance to take the Berlin Orientation Tour. I left Bremerhaven on the Berlin Duty Train. It was in July 1988 and I saw the wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate and thought, how sad it was that a nation had been split in two. That trip inspired my sweet military romance, Destination: Berlin. (which is under my pen name, SG Cardin)
I arrived in Germany for my second tour on 10 NOV 1989 – the day after the wall fell and the vibe was incredible. Ladas and Travants (East German cars) dotted the autobahns. There was a feeling of hope and discovery…and then some disillusionment because East/West Germany had such a big divide between them – the culture, the economy, and the way of life.
Berlin, I would say is my favorite German city, and my experiences there have resonated with me ever since.
Favorite food? Greek food in Germany! Oh my gosh, it was just so authentic over there. I really miss the style of Greek food I got in Germany.
|Once used to smuggle East Berliners to freedom, |
the Trabant is now a tourist vehicle.
Kim: How did the military prepare you, teach you, and inspire you to write?
Steph: Well, I had a passion for writing since I was 6, but it was my trip to Berlin in 1988, that I mentioned above, that really drove me to write a novel.
Kim: Tell us about working as a 911 dispatcher. Is writing a de-stresser for you?
Steph: Well, after being in the army, nothing really stresses me out anymore! Writing does help me keep an even balance. You do hear some intense calls though.
Kim: What is your favorite "cop" book, TV show or movie? Have you found any that are accurate?
Steph: That's a toughie! With kids in the house the TV is always on Nickelodeon, Disney, or Cartoon Network. I really like Kira Sedgewick's "The Closer" but I don't think it accurately reflects the LAPD. The acting is great and the stories resonate. One of my all time favorite cop shows was NYPD Blue. I miss that one.
Steph: NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it occurs every year in November. The goal? To write 50,000 words in a month. That averages out to 1600 words a day, which can be challenging if you're a working full time mom, like me. This last year, I did all my prep work, research, maps, character bios, outlines in October so come 1 NOV I was ready to write – and write I did. I eeked out 50,206 words by the end of the month. It was quite a challenge. I did most of my writing at work on my downtime. It's easier for me to channel out the background noise there.
Kim: Tell us about your road to publishing?
Steph: Well, I published Destination: Berlin w/iUniverse in 2001. It's a good, solid, sweet romance, but has suffered in that I was not marketing savvy back then. I'm getting better at marketing now. Then I joined Writing.com and I started entering the Writer's Digests competitions. To my surprise, my mainstream short story, "Spontaneous Decision" won 8th place in the 2008 competition. I started querying small presses in 2009 because I wanted to work with them. You usually have great editorial support w/them (at least I have) and with the author support network, it's allowed me to learn more about marketing. I've also self published a time traveling romance, Across the Fickle Winds of History, and just recently I had a children's book, "The Giving Meadow" published with 4RV. I like to write different genres and different romantic subgenres. I try not to limit myself in that regard.
Kim: Tell us about your upcoming release, THE COUNT'S LAIR.
Steph: The Count's Lair is Book Two in the Budapest Moon series. It's a paranormal romance that takes place during Christmastime in Budapest, Hungary, 1901. Count Anton Varga has a dark secret, but he's in love with a beautiful and talented pianist, Lady Amelia Andrassy. He'll give her 3 clues to help her figure out his secret. Can she accept him as he is or will his secret drive them apart?
Here's a small excerpt:
Amelia went inside. The room was cast in obsidian shadows by a single candle that was burning on her dressing room table. The air was laced in mulberries. She grew warm. Her heart beat faster. Her defenses cracked. "Anton?" she whispered.
He stepped out of the darkness behind her, placing his hands on her upper arms, pressing his chest against her back. His lips brushed against her ear, sending a shock wave through her. "You look wonderful tonight, Amelia."
She dared to close her eyes and enjoy his embrace. "Anton."
"Yes, it's me."
Warm feelings of longing stirred, only to be quickly doused with the sting of anger at his sudden departure. She stepped out of their embrace and spun around to glare at him. "How dare you."
He backed away, confusion pooling in those murky eyes of his. "I thought—"
"You thought what?"
"You wanted to see me."
"It's been two months since I last saw you and you didn't even try to seek me out. I had no idea if you were dead, alive, or just too busy with your life to think of me."
His expression softened. "I'm sorry. I had hoped to avoid the look in your cool eyes just now."
She let out a quick breath, exasperated. "You're infuriating."
"So I've been told."
She crossed her arms, struggling to keep her crumbling battlements up. He had a lot to explain. The candlelight cast dark almost satyr-like shadows over his chiseled face. If his explanation made sense, she'd will her heart to believe him. "So, Anton, how do you explain your absence? I thought I'd found a friend."
He drew in a deep breath, pausing. His eyes grew translucent. "I am sorry. I had a lot to think about. I thought you would understand. I wanted to give you time to mourn your husband properly."
"I also wanted to clear my head."
YOU TUBE BOOK TRAILER:
The Count's Lair is avail as ebook for Kindle, B&N Nook, Sony Ereader, and Kobo. You can also download a copy from the Publisher's Website at:
You can find me on the web at:
Mahalo, Steph, for joining us at SOS Aloha! Steph is giving away a PDF copy of THE COUNT'S LAIR to one randomly selected commenter.
Also, I have Army key chains to readers haven't already received one. To claim you key chain, send your mailing address to email@example.com.
Kim in Hawaii
I've written about Hickam Air Force Base, Pearl Harbor Naval Base, and the Marine Corps Base at Kaneohe Bay. We also have four historic Army installations on Oahu:
- Tripler Army Medical Center
- Fort Shafter
- Wheeler Army Airfield
- Schofield Barracks
All are registered as National Historic Landmarks since played a vital role during the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941.
I've attached photos of Army survivors of that surprise attack - Robert Newkirk, Herb Weatherwax, and Robert Kinzler (photo credit to full.indy.com, life.com, and flickr.com).