guest blog; Vicky Burkholder; The Ruby Key

Guest Blog Goodness–Vicky Burkholder

It’s my pleasure to welcome Vicky Burkholder to the blog.  Here are a few questions to help you get to know this awesome writer!

Most writers I’ve known say that writing is invigorating, while some say that it’s their therapy. How does your writing serve you? Do you express your life through the story or does the theme come from your vision? For me, writing is an adventure. I get to experience issues and problems (real or imagined) through my characters. If I’m particularly angry with someone (like a nasty boss), I can make them the villain or victim and kill them off. I can be strong and independent and deal with all sorts of nasty stuff without actually having to do it. My characters are, in some ways, extensions of myself, but they have the nerve to do things I would never do.  🙂

Who or what inspired you to write? My dad. When I was very young, I was considered a “slow reader”. Back then, we didn’t have enrichment classes so my dad took it upon himself to show me the wonders of the written word. Though not highly educated himself, he was an avid reader. He would take me on his lap and read to and with me. He’d do word games with me – for instance, if we were in the car and waiting somewhere, he’d find a billboard and point to a word in it and tell me to find as many words with those letters as I could. Or he’d do crossword puzzles with me. He found things I was interested in and books that would go along with those interests – like horses (what little girl doesn’t love horses?). He bought books about horses, both fiction and non-fiction. He did crossword puzzles with me. In short, through my love of him and my interests, he taught me to love the written word. And in a year, I moved up from the “slow” section to the top of the class.

What are your five “desert island” books? Probably a Boy Scout handbook (come on, I’m nothing, if not practical!), a science fiction book (like Anne McCaffrey’s Crystal series), a good mystery (like Laura Bradford’s Amish mystery series), a good romance (like Nora Roberts, especially her paranormal romances), and a good fantasy (like David Eddings). You will note that these are all paperback books. I’d choose differently if I could take my electronic reading device, but on a desert island, I’m not sure that would work well (though I suppose I could use the handbook to figure out how to create electricity to power up my devices!)

What is the best way a reader can express their gratitude for the experience they had reading your work? By giving good reviews and buying my other books. That’s always the best way to help an author. And by spreading the word to other readers!

What advice would you give a new author? Grow a thick skin. This is not a business for the weak of ego. You are going to get bad reviews. You’re going to get rejected – a lot. You’re not going to get rich quick (except in very very rare cases). You need to be able to bounce back. Yes, give yourself a day or two to rail at the fates on the bad stuff, then get right back in there. You can’t let the negativity that is part and parcel of this career get you down. If one bad review or rejection makes you quit, then you need to rethink being a writer. Because unless you’re just doing it for yourself, you’re going to get hurt. BUT, if you keep at it… if you keep trying… if you keep learning and improving, someday you may get that acceptance or that great review and the sales will start coming in, and it will all be worth it. Perseverance is the key.

 And here’s some linkage for you to check out Vicky’s books!

FB: authorvictoria

Twitter: Vicky Burkholder

therubykeyBlurb: (from The Ruby Key)

For centuries, four women have held the keys to Lemuria, a land where magic is real. They and their Protectors are all that stand against The Brotherhood, a group of exiles who want to return to Lemuria and take control of the gateway between realms.

Phoebe, Keeper of the ruby key, lost her lover and Protector, Ryan, to murder. The Powers That Be saddled her with a dorky salesman. That is, until Zack arrives on the scene. With his Scandinavian good looks, he is the essence of what a Protector should be, but he is a loner and wants nothing to do with magic. Magic is what got his brother killed. Phoebe wants nothing to do with him as a protector, but he draws her in ways Ryan never did.

Edward is the epitome of a British gentleman and shows Phoebe the genteel side of life, but Edward has a past, and an agenda. He is the leader of the Brotherhood and if he controls Phoebe, he will control everything—and destroy it all.

The past, present, and future all come crashing down to one moment. Only Phoebe can make the choice—and her choice will determine the fate of several worlds.

They lost the battle once before. This time, will love really conquer all?


Zack Lindstrom took the only ramp off the highway he’d seen in thirty miles. At the bottom was a narrow, two-lane road bounded by forested mountains on both sides and a single sign pointing left—LITTLETON 5 mi.

Left he went. The town wasn’t on any map or GPS he could find, but he had a friend there, so there he was going. He’d just be glad to get off his bike for a while. Pennsylvania was a haul and a half from Maine, where his last job had been. Being a floating agent for a security and protection company sometimes had its disadvantages—like never staying in any one place more than a few weeks at a time. Technically, he had a room at headquarters in Chicago, but for the most part, he lived on the road and liked it that way. No ties. Nobody to answer to except himself—and his bosses when he was on a case. Right now, though, he was on extended leave and hoping to look up an old friend.

Bent over, he was racing around a blind curve when another bike came straight at him. He swerved to miss the other biker, barely controlling his skid. The other rider wasn’t so lucky as the bike hit a patch of loose gravel and went over, sparking and screeching. Zack killed his engine, jumped off, and approached the unmoving rider. The rise and fall of an obviously female chest told him she was alive. He didn’t see any blood or limbs at odd angles, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t injured.

He touched her shoulder. “Hey. Are you okay?”


Zack reached for his cell phone only to discover that his battery was dead. A quick check of her pockets turned one up. He hit “Emergency,” surprised when the phone dialed a number instead of 9-1-1.

“Phoebs? What’s up?”

“Um, hello? I’m sorry, I don’t know who I’m talking to, but there’s been an accident. I found this phone on the woman—”

“Don’t move. We’ll be right there.”

The call disconnected and Zack stared at it. He hadn’t even had time to tell the woman on the other end where they were. He shrugged. Maybe they had phone GPS or a “find friends” app. He went back to his bike and pulled out an emergency kit and set flares at both ends of the curve, then went back to the woman, still lying in the middle of the road. Should he move her? Probably not, he decided.

He knelt next to her and pulled off her gloves. When he touched her hand, a red spark jumped from her to him, sending a shiver through him. Shocked, he sank down to sit in the road. He hadn’t felt the stirrings of his “other” self since Trevor died. He’d buried that side of himself after his brother’s accident several months ago. So who was this woman that she brought it out in him? He shook his head. He didn’t believe anymore. Not after…another shake and he brought his attention back to the woman.

He didn’t know her, had never met her. Though from what he could see from the tight leathers she wore, he wouldn’t mind getting to know her a little better. She had legs that went on forever, a narrow waist, and breasts the size made for cupping and loving. He’d love to see what her face looked like, but didn’t want to risk removing the dark helmet in case she had a neck injury.

She moaned. He picked up her hand. “It’s all right. Relax and try not to move. You’ve been in an accident.”

She struggled to sit up and he helped her. “You really shouldn’t move. You could be hurt.”

“I’m fine.” She pulled her helmet off and Zack looked into the most amazing sky blue eyes in the most mind-blowing, beautiful face he’d ever seen. She had short, spiky hair the color of sunshine. His fingers itched to sketch her, a habit he had. The funny thing was, though he would swear on a stack of Bibles that they’d never met, she looked familiar to him. As if he’d met her before. She stared at him with a frown.

“Do I know you?” she asked.

“I don’t think so. Name’s Zack. Are you all right?”

“Yeah. Just pissed that I spilled.” Her eyes opened wide. “My bike—is it all right?”

Zack went over to the bike, righted it and checked it over, then he started it. It easily roared to life. He cut the motor and walked it over to where the woman sat. “A few scratches and dings, but nothing serious.”

Just then, he heard a car—several actually—coming and hoped his flares warned them to slow down. The cars slowed to a stop and doors slammed and he looked up to see a petite, very pregnant, gorgeous woman in a long, flowing skirt and loose top running toward him and the woman. Two other cars also spewed people who headed for the rider. The women congregated around the rider while the men stood back, but looked as if they were on alert.

“Phoebe! What happened? Is she hurt?”

The skirted woman knelt on the road next to Zack and stared at him. He felt as though she looked through him, peeling away all the layers and checking each one out. When she nodded, he felt ridiculously relieved.

Then she pulled a triangular pendant from her neck, as did the other two. The first one connected them all somehow and ran the pyramid shape over the other woman.

“What the…? What is this? Some kind of Star Trek episode?”

“I’m okay, Cass. Just fuzzy.”

“Zack? Zack Lindstrom?”

Zack looked up to see the last person he’d expected to see standing in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere. “Nic? What the hell? What are you doing here?”

Zack rose to his feet to face the man he’d come here looking for.

“You called Cass, my wife.” He pointed at the pregnant woman.

Zack nearly choked on his tongue. “Your…wife? You?” He glanced at the petite beauty. He and Nic had been in the same unit in the Middle East and Nic had been a true loner. Zack would never have looked at him as the marrying kind. Especially not one as tiny as she appeared. He’d have pegged Nic for the one on the road—long, leggy, and built for sex.

Nic laughed and ran his hand over his head, a gesture Zack remembered well. But there was something else Zack remembered as he checked Nic over. The last time he’d seen Nic, he’d been covered in blood, barely alive, the victim of an IED. He’d heard Nic had shipped stateside and would probably never walk well again. This man was definitely walking well.

“Nic?” Both men turned as Cass called out to him. “Phoebe’s okay, but we should get out of the road.”

“I told her the folly of riding that death trap.”

Zack looked around Nic to see a suit-wearing, short, balding man standing next to an older-model sedan. The man glared at Zack, then shifted his gaze back to Phoebe. “If she will not listen and adhere to my advice, I will be hard pressed to protect her.” He sniffed.

Zack stared at him. The man had actually sniffed and raised his snoot into the air as if he were some high and mighty snob. Zack caught an eye roll from Nic and the other man with him.

“Zack, this is Greg. And the…man…back there is Wynton.”

Zack nodded at both men, but understood immediately that Wynton was not one of the “group”—whatever it was. The guy’s name was as snooty as he was, but they were definitely a group. He could tell that much.

“Nic, I’m going to drive Phoebe to the…to her place. Can you bring her bike?”

“Sure. Meet you there.” Nic turned to Zack. “Come with us? We’re heading to town, to Phoebe’s place.”

“Um, sure.” Zack settled onto his bike as the cars turned around and headed down the hill. He watched as Nic easily strode over to Phoebe’s bike and climbed on. A minute later, Zack followed him down the winding hill and into a nice-looking small town. Huge maple and oak trees with new spring growth lined the main street that was fronted by a mixture of small stores, eateries, churches and bars. It was late Monday morning and, while not bustling, it was busy enough for a small town early morning.

He followed Nic and the cars to a side street that led to a small, enclosed parking lot off an alley. Two sides were lined with what looked like the back doors to several shops and the far end was closed off by a building with a large garage door. The cars and bikes took up the few remaining spaces in the lot. Zack watched as everyone piled out of their vehicles and headed for one of the doors.

“Join us?” Nic said as he pulled off Phoebe’s helmet. “I’d love to know what you’re doing here.”

Zack nodded. “Got any food in there? I’m a tad on the hungry side.”

Nic smiled. “I think we can scare up something. Come on.” He wrapped his arm around Zack and guided him toward the door. “So what the hell are you doing in Littleton?”

“Believe it or not, looking for you.”

Nic cocked his head at him. “Well, it looks like you found me. Come on in and let’s see what we can find to eat.”