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Friday, February 25, 2011


Thanks so much to the ladies at Long and Short for having me here today.

Just a little about me: I was born in Manchester, New Hampshire. After graduating from Central High, I joined the US Army. I spent 11 years in the military, 7 in Germany. While in the military, I earned a BS in Political Science from California Baptist University in Riverside, CA in 1995. I left the Army in 1997 and settled in California, but my favorite football team is still the New England Patriots. I work for LAPD as a 911 dispatcher. I've been married for 19 years. I have two boys, Andrew, 8, and Joseph, 4.

My visit to Budapest, Hungary

My latest release, The Count's Lair, takes place in Budapest, Hungary. Picking Budapest as the setting of the story was easy for me – I visited the city in late September 1997.

At the time, I was in the US Army and deployed to Taszar, Hungary in support of Operation Joint Guard. They offered me a chance to go to Budapest on a USO Recreation weekend. How could I refuse?

My hotel was on Margaret Island, in the middle of the Danube. The weather was mild, the leaves were just starting to change – it was the perfect time of year to explore.

Budapest is filled with many architectural achievements – the SzĂ©chenyi Bridge, (one of the earliest chain bridges built in the 1840's), the Parliament Building (built in 1896) and Fisherman's Bastian. I fell in love with the Bastian. It has resonated with me ever since.

The Bastian was built from 1895-1902 on Buda Hill overlooking the Danube, Margaret Island, and Pest. It's over ½ mile long with seven towers – each tower representing one of the original Magyar tribes that settled in the area. It's named after the fisherman who were assigned to guard that land in the middle ages.

Fisherman's Bastian helps to accentuate the setting in The Count's Lair, Book 2 in the Budapest Moon series. The story takes place in Budapest, Hungary during Christmas time 1901. Count Anton Varga harbors a dark secret, but he's in love with a talented pianist, Lady Amelia Andrassy. He'll give her 3 clues to his secret. What will Amelia do when she discovers what he's hiding?

Question for you: I'd love to hear about a place you visited that resonated with you.

Enjoy this small excerpt:

She flashed him a tender smile. "Well, my mother was musical. She played piano and sang. My sister likes to sing. My father would take us out into the woods, and we'd pick our tree. He'd cut it down, and we'd bring it home. We all decorated it with glass ornaments, garland, and popcorn. My mother would take us caroling with her church choir. We'd even bake special foods for the holiday."
 "What? Yorkshire pudding and rib roast?"
 "How did you know?"
He chuckled. "You grew up in England, if I remember correctly."
"I did grow up in England."
"Near London, right? Ester?"
"It's Esher -- just outside of London."
Again, he chuckled. "I'm sorry. I know you told me--"
"Before you left."
"Yes, before I left."
She stepped away from him, as if forcing distance between them for not remembering. He grabbed her wrist. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be," she said quietly.
"Perhaps you can help me to enjoy the Christmas season," he suggested. "Let me take you to the Kris Kringle Market in Budapest."
Her eyes danced with delight at the suggestion. "I'd like that. When?"
He frowned. "A week from now."
"A week?"
"I have to go to Sopron. I'm finishing the improvements to the estate."
"Oh." She withdrew her hand.
Silence grew between them. He frowned. He wished he could escort her back to Budapest, but he couldn't. The full moon commanded his actions for the next week.
"Amelia, please, let me take you."
"Can I trust you, Anton?"
"Yes." He stepped next to her, radiating warmth. A small smile graced her lips, as if she'd been infused with hope from his heat. She looked up into his eyes. He wrapped his arms around her. Their combined auras made him blink.
"Is something wrong, Anton?"
"No." He cocked his head, poised to kiss her. "Do you sense this?"
"This what?" she whispered.
"This spark? This heat? Amelia, a week isn't so long, is it?"
"No, I'll wait."
He drew her close, slowly pressing his lips against hers, caressing them like a reverent pilgrim. She softly leaned against his hard body. Their kiss ignited a flame in his loins, but it was too early to fan it. He would go too far. Rather abruptly, he disengaged from her soft mouth.


The Count's Lair is available as ebook for Kindle, Barnes and Noble 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:






Diane Craver said...

Love the excerpt of The Count's Lair! Great trailer too! Hope you sell tons of books, Steph!

Mona Risk said...

Nice excerpt, Steph. I enjoy so much your pictures of Budapest. they give me a taste of Hungary untill I visit.

StephB said...

Thanks so much for popping in. I'm glad you like the trailer. I've started making my own trailers now and this one was fun, but time consuming.

When you go, let me know. I'd love to hear your thoughts on Hungary.


Etienne's Stories said...

You asked about places that resonante with you. For me, it was my first trip to England. At that point in time I had spent all of my adult life immersed in the research of my family history, and to spend a weekend in the tiny village in Sussex (it was more like a crossroads and consisted of a petrol station, a post office, a pub, and little more) from which my gr-gr-gr-grandparents and their three sons had emigrated in 1830 was amazing. I attended Sunday services in the parish church in which they were married in 1809, and the entire weekend will remain vividly in my memory forever. I met up with friends from home in London two days later, and we did all the usual tourist stuff, but that paled by comparison to that weekend.

StephB said...

Thank you so much for sharing your story. I can imagine sitting in the pew and closing my eyes, watching the ceremony being performed.


Linda Swift said...

Hi Steph. I enjoyed your excerpt and the video/trailer. Lovely scenery. My husband and I spent almost two years living in England and it was the most unforgettable time of my life. I left a part of my heart there. I wish you success with all of your books. Linda

Hywela Lyn said...

Hi Stephanie

Loved the pictures of Budapest, and what a great excerpt! Loved the video too - as you say, they're time consuming to make but so rewarding when they're done!

I've never been to anywhere as exotic as Budapest but one place that's very evocative to me is an old Mansion in Wales, called 'Nanteos' (Valley of the Nightingale) . I used to keep my horses there and in front of the stables was a little copse, with a grass bank leading down to the paddocks. When I'd finished riding and caring for my three horses, I used to sit on the grass and write. There were little gravestones there with the names of all the pets of the Powell family going back over the years. I often think of that magical mansion (the Holy Grail was reputed to have been taken there by the Knights Templar) and its beautiful grounds and stables - not to mention its three ghosts!

Stacey Joy Netzel said...

Very interesting post and great excerpt! The great state of Colorado, expecially the Rocky Mountains resonates with me. I'd love to live there, but since I can't, many of my characters do.

StephB said...

I haven't been to England, but I'll get there. It's so rich in history.

Lyn, what a fascinating story, Sweetie. How cool is that about the Holy Grail. The picture you painted sounds like it would be a wonderful backdrop to writing.

Yes, I know that feeling. For me, there's no place like New England usually if I'm working with American characters they have their roots in New England.

Thanks everyone for sharing.