Wowza! It’s the end of February already. The weather in Northern Florida has been outstanding. Mostly sunny and warm. After all those winters in New Jersey, I am so blessed to enjoy it in the warmer climate. We’ve been surrounded by fantastic people though several are heading home this week. We’re going to miss Michelle and John, and Bill.
Sharing meals has become an event around here. The latest was Taco Friday we hosted. A group of other campers brought sides and we sat around the campfire until late talking about everything. Bill has been treating us to some of his mother-in-law’s recipes. Michelle made a breakfast casserole one morning and John? Well he eats. Sunday we made those three good-by Taylor, egg, and cheese sandwiches. Yep, we found “Taylor” ham in Tallahassee at a Publix. We’re all making plans for next winter. It's a wonderful aspect of camping. The people, no matter where they come from unite to become the camp.
Oh, I almost forgot. Check my social media pages tomorrow for a link to an Op-Ed I wrote for Blue Magazine. The links are in the sidebar.
Now on to today’s guest at Around The Fire. Please help me welcome Joan Ramirez back to the fire
Hi Joan. I’m going to pour some tea while you introduce yourself. If you would please tell our visitors who you are
I’m an ESL teacher, photojournalist, entrepreneurial trainer, and now, historical author.
You have a pretty diverse list there and sound quite busy. But in your downtime from work, how do you like to spend your time?
I love doing ballet, yoga, horseback riding, and travel --though not for the last 2 years due to COVID.
Do you have a support system?
I’m blessed with great friends in my support system.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?
I love to read historical suspense and WWII European theater history.
As a student of history, what do you think should be taught more about in schools?
MORE should be taught about the Holocaust in school--all grade levels.
Such a terrible time in history. I agree. When we don’t talk and study about the darker side of history, it can become forgotten and, as a people, repeat it. Joan, what was the hardest scene you ever wrote?
My hardest scene to write in this book was when the little girl disappeared. It ripped my heroine to shreds with worry.
How about we go a little on the lighter side? What is your favorite mug?
My favorite coffee mug: Keep Calm and Keep Going.
Let’s pretend time-travel is possible. Where and when would you go?
If I could time travel, I’d go on a pirate ship. I love that period in time.
Avast ye landlubbers. I love International Talk Like a Pirate Day. This year it’s on Monday, September 19. Mark your calendars. Have you ever won anything?
I won a beautiful scarf for winning a writing contest from Japan.
Last question. What’s the best money you’ve spent as a writer?
Investing in a p/c upgrade was a wise decision.
Joan, thank you so much for joining me at the fire today. Before you leave, can you tell us about your book and where to find out more about it and you?
Per the author, this story is tender and spicy.
Nothing in Margo Simmons’s life comes easy. She can’t claim the inheritance on a condo apartment her uncle has left to her until she is gainfully employed in a job for a year. She meets the man of her dreams but anguishes over a loving relationship because he is still emotionally tied to his deceased wife. With great difficulty, she becomes the guardian to a recently orphaned child she had been tutoring. Margo evolves from an insecure, newbie elementary teacher into a woman determined to fulfill the secret desires locked in her heart. My story speaks to anyone who has suffered a loss and had to start over.
Read more about Joan who also writes as J L Regen
JL lives in the New York metropolitan area, is a published photojournalist, has short suspense stories online, and has taught special education and English as a Second Language to students around the globe. This is her first contemporary romance. She has also published three nonfiction books.
JLR holds a Master of Science in Business, Medical, and Technical Journalism as well as two others in ESL and Education. She has published on a variety of topics from cochlear implants to the economy and has conducted workshops –domestic and foreign–on the nuances of business communications for managers and start-up companies. She is the leader of her own enterprise with training programs for entrepreneurs–all levels and recently published two books–Jamie is Autistic: Learning in a Special Way and Go for It Leadership Handbook for All Students.
Blog at https://writerjr1044.wordpress.com/
Plants And Books And Dragons Oh My!
Hi, everyone! Can you believe it’s the 3rd week in February? I’ve had some great adventures here in the Sunshine State.
I have a new saying, “You can take the Jersey Girl out of the Garden State but you can’t take the garden out of the Jersey Girl. February in Northern Florida is like spring in NJ. I love plants and gardens. Often on our travels we visit Arboritums and Botanical Gardens. Well, here I am, and my fingers began to itch. Off I went to the local thrift store and dollar store. Now I’m the proud mama to several tomato plants and herbs as well as a few flowers and bushes. Here’s to hoping they all travel well when I head back north.
Remember when I reported going to the Manatee Festival and meeting my author friend Randy Overbeck? No? Well, Randy and his lovely wife were doing a book signing at Crystal River, the location of his book Scarlet at Crystal River (The Haunted Shores Mysteries Series Book 3). I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It’s on my TBR list. My very long TBR list. What’s TBR? Oh, it means To Be Read.
And here's the latest. Some of you know Rock House Grill came out as an audiobook. Well, it’s already received 5Star ratings. If you’re interested, here are the links
I did finish a few books this week. Yay!
Eat Your Heart Out By Shirley Goldberg
*I purchased this book during an author event and signing in Tampa, Florida.*
Sometimes you read a blurb and then realize there’s so much more to a book. Often funny, occasionally poignant, and very real.
There are several paths in this work about mature characters. Love and loss. Breakups and online dating. Struggles with weight and self-image. Work, and its stresses, especially for teachers. I hear stories from my relatives who are teachers, and Ms. Goldberg seems spot on.
Eat Your Heart Outs is about friends, lovers, adult children, and real-life laughter and
Friends to the End by C.L. Colyer
*I received a copy of this book via Netgalley.*
I love a ghost story, but this was so much more. The story follows Zach, who’s moved to a new town and school. If it’s not enough of a struggle doing this, he’s also dealing with the loss and guilt over that loss of his best friend. Zach meets a new group of friends, and their adventures remind me a bit of Goonies.
At times it’s funny. At times a tearjerker. Then we are off on an adventure with these amateur ghost hunters, and it becomes scary.
I like the characters, world-building, and pacing. This book is for mid-graders, but I think everyone will enjoy it.
Oh, and before I forget, grab yourself a copy of Randy’s book.
Crimson at Cape May: a Cold Case Murder Mystery, a Ghost Story, a Teen Runaway in Trouble (The Haunted Shores Mysteries Series Book 2)
No matter how far you run, you can never really escape a haunted past.
Darrell Henshaw—teacher, coach, and paranormal sensitive—learned this lesson the hard way. Now, with his job gone and few options, he heads for Cape May to coach a summer football camp. The resort town, with gorgeous beaches, rich history and famous Victorian mansions, might be just the getaway he needs.
Only, no one told him Cape May is the most haunted seaport on the East Coast.
When a resident ghost, the Haunted Bride, stalks Darrell, begging for help, he can’t refuse and joins forces with Cassie, another sensitive. As Darrell and the street-wise teen investigate the bride’s death, they uncover something far more sinister than a murder.
Can Darrell and Cassie expose those behind the crimes before they end up becoming the next victims?
And what am I working on? This is from a manuscript I began years ago. The title is The Last Dragon Queen. Yep, I’m returning to my fantasy roots. It’s growing and developing into a Shield-Mates Book. Here’s a rough draft peek. Let me know what you think?
Mount Ignis, Near The Sea of Turpe
Isola’s mother, Dalinda, dragged her away from the smoke and carnage into the cavern––. “Hurry, daughter.”
“Mother, what’s happening?” She scrambled to keep up, tripping over shards of a green clay pot.
“There’s no time to waste.” Her mother glanced over her shoulder before heading into one of the smaller, less used tunnels leading to the top of Mount Ignis. It was worn from the feet of the females who primarily it. But in recent years, the tube grew dusty with cobwebs from lack of use since so few female dragons remained. “You must leave. Right now.”
“Leave? Go where?”
Her mother stopped and pinned her to the wall. “He’s lost his mind. They all have.”
Who?” Isola stood as tall as her mother now so she could look straight into violet-colored eyes so much like her own. “Nagendra has killed your father, the king, and made Hyidae his second in command.”
Bile rose in Isola’s throat. Though she had no great love for her father since coming to adulthood. Nagendra made several requests for mating with her. Her father continued to refuse him, calling him a fool and the ruin of dragon-shifters.
“Where am I supposed to go? How am I to live?”
Isola, we’ve discussed this.” Her mother reached past Isola into a fissure in the wall, pulled out a brown leather bag, and thrust it into Isola’s arms. “You head east. Keep your face covered. There are veils in the bag.”
She took Isola’s hand and tugged her up the narrow incline. Make for Domovine. I know it’s far, but you may be safe there. Hide your magic. You remember how?”
They reached the small opening surrounded by dripping icicles in the apex of Mount Ignis. Dalinda peeked out first. “Good, the snow has melted. Keep to the trees.”
“Come with me.” Isola grasped her mother’s shoulders. “We’ll both escape.”
“No, daughter.” Dalinda shook her head. “I must stay and see if I can redeem these evil days. Justice must be served for your father and those killed.”
“They will kill you too,” sobbed Isola. “Please, come with me.”
Mother took her into her arms. “My days have been numbered since we were banished from Dar do to Nagendra and his power-thirsty followers.”
“Together, maybe we can find our way back there?” Isola knew she grasped at dust floating in the air.
When Nagendra killed King Dar’s father, their entire weyr of dragon-shifters, already shrinking from lack of females, were sentenced to banishment. Driven from Dar, they made their way across the Sea of Turpe. Pregnant with Isola, her own mother had nearly fallen into the waters from exhaustion.
No.” Her mother hugged her. “That life is no more. You are the last of the noble dragon line. Here,” she reached out, “take this and guard it well. It was my Shield. Now it’s yours. Before giving it to another, make sure he is worthy. Isola, you are the last Dragon Queen.
Really, let me know what you think. I love dragons. Check out Agent Carter and the Mysterey at High Pointe Tower. This isn't my first time embracing the dragon.
Welcome back to the Fire, J. Arlene Culiner. An author, musician, and traveler you don't want to miss.
Welcome back to my Fire! I'm so glad you could join me. It's a little rainy in Northern Florida but it's to be expected. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow said," The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain." It's so true. Around a campfire the other day someone complained about the rain. I couldn't agree. I love a sunny day being outdoors, but I also love a rainy day, a cup of tea, and a good book. Occasionally I'll stand in the doorway to simply watch it fall. Though I'm in Florida at this time, I think about the snow falling and how pretty and quiet it is. So today is a good day. We have a wonderful guest who has returned with new stories and adventures. So, my friend, why don't you start by telling our visitors a little about you.
Who you are other than your bio?
I think my bio sums everything up nicely, although perhaps it does make me look a bit flighty. Yes, I have spent my life shifting from one country to the other, but I’ve often done it in an original way: on foot. I’ve walked alone with my dogs and slept in fields, and had quite a few adventures. I’ve also traveled on slow trains, getting off in unusual places, exploring countries where I can’t speak the language and where I don’t know a soul.
That sounds both exciting and frightening. What interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I play several instruments in different orchestras and bands. I play the oboe, both modern and baroque, the English horn, the baroque tenor and baritone oboes, the flute, and the tuba.
Music is important to me. I listen to almost any genre but alas, I can't play anything. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I don’t have one author or one book that inspires me. I have hundreds. I read all across the board — history, Eastern European history, Russian literature, French literature, and English literature. I adore non-fiction and have been reading far less fiction in the last years. Some of the most delightful writers are non-fiction writers. Do you want a name or two? Okay…W.G. Sebald, Robert A. Rosenstone, Neal Acherson, Stephen Morris.
Lol, that's four. Often I have trouble containing the numbers. Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I’m apparently a good storyteller. People keep asking me to tell my absolutely true stories at events. (I have a sneaking suspicion that I exaggerate a lot.)
Oral storytelling is almost a lost art. How wonderful that you carry on such a long tradition. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in a small village in France. There’s nothing going on. There are no shops. Occasionally a tractor passes through. Ho-hum. There is a main square with a 13th-century church and houses that date from the 16th to the 19th century. There are wonderful bats, quirky pigeons, and many other lovely birds that I delight in. Sometimes people cross the square on foot. That about wraps it up. Yawn.
It sounds charming and peaceful. I think that's a lovely way to live. We can travel for adventure, but home should be a place of rest. Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I have a very beautiful, very old necklace, probably from somewhere in Eastern Europe. It came from a man who dealt in stolen paintings, who was also a smuggler. He gave me the necklace when I was twelve (he was trying to con my father and his friend into buying forged art.) Who knows what the history of the necklace is? Beautifully delicate, golden leaves enfold tiny pearls. I have been robbed so many times in my life, and somehow this necklace has always managed to stay with me. How very nice.
What! Robbed more than once! That's awful. I will say the necklace sounds intriguing and would make an excellent story. Let's jump to some fun questions. What is your worst household chore?
I hate all household chores. I don’t own an iron. My partner and I just let everything slide. Then around once a month, we have a blitz.
What's an iron?😜 Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Never have to pay for food at restaurants? What an incredible idea. Yes, please, that’s what I’d like. Imagine all the unusual things you can eat and the delicious things fine chefs create — things you normally can’t pay for. And, I do hope the offer includes wonderful wines, sparkling wines, cider, and champagne.
Of course the beverages are included. Often they make the meal. How do you select the names of your characters?
Funnily enough, my characters’ names just pop into my head. It’s as though everyone is there and waiting for me to tell their story.
I know what you mean. In one of my books, Gloriana Jones simply got in my head and wouldn't leave. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes, I do read my book reviews. I particularly appreciate those that are well written (unfortunately, that isn’t always the case.) I take very seriously what my readers have to say. If they don’t like a character and I find their reason valid, I certainly keep that in mind for my next book or when I’m about to issue a revised edition. For example, in my romance, Desert Rose, a few people found Rose hard to like because she was so flirtatious. I will be putting out a new version of the book in a few months, and I have enlarged the story so that people will understand why Rose is the way she is.
J. Arlene, thank you so much for spending time at my fire. Before you head out on one of those amazing adventures, will you leave a bit about your book and where to find out more about you? Bonus for visitors I found podcasts today's guest records. She sounds exactly how I imagine. soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
J. Arlene Culiner
San Francisco, 1971: hippies in the streets, music and revolution in the air. The evening Marek Sumner opened his door to the wild-looking Felicity Powers, he knew nothing would ever be the same. But even love and passion couldn’t keep them together. Forty-three years later, having lived in the world’s most dangerous places as an aid worker, Felicity is back, still offering love, passion, and adventure. Now a well-known author, Marek loves his calm life in an isolated farmhouse, and he knows their relationship would never work : he and Felicity are just too different. Besides, why risk having his heart broken a second time? But Felicity is as fascinating and joyful as ever, and the wonderful sexy magic is still there too. Can love be more delightful the second time around?
I may gush here but hopefully it won't sound like it. . . I am a child of the early 70's. . . A flower child you might say . . . so Marek and Felicity and the conversations they had both with each other and with their younger selves made complete and total sense. While I was reading this book I was thinking about Paul (a beautiful guy from my past). . . 40 years ago. . . what would he be like today. So very easy to put myself in Felicity's place.
I am rating this 5 stars because it is well written and ends in such an awesome way . . . because you know both characters very well by the end. Well done. DLarios
Get your own copy
Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
Follow the author
Web site: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com
More about the Author
Writer, photographer, social critical artist, musician, and occasional actress, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe alone on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave-dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
Happy Valentine's Day! Hope you're having a great one. Yesterday was the Super Bowl. I don't do football. Or basketball. Or hockey. Or soccer. Are you sensing a trend here? I did make food for the Super Bowl party at the campground. Meatball sliders and I made ice cream in my old fashioned maker. Then I shipped hubby off to the party and turned on the Food Network. Ahh...
Today a special announcement went out in my newsletter. If you missed it, pop on over to mailchi.mp/f666100b2c6c/a-romantic-adventure-awaits-you-shay-and-adens-special-love-story and signup. I'll make sure you get a copy. And if you missed my announcement of Rock House Grill going audio, www.amazon.com/Audible-Rock-House-Grill/dp/B09S247QGL/ there you go. Now enough about me. I'm excited to bring you Karina Bartow for her first visit to the fire.
Hi, Karina, I'm so glad you could join us today. While a pour us a cuppa please why don't your get started by telling us who you are beyond the bio.
I’m Nin Nin to my nephew, Jordan, with whom I share a special relationship. I was seventeen when he was born, so I’m a cross between an authority figure and an annoying sibling. I take my role very seriously!
Say hey Jordan for me. So, other than being the special person, what else interests you besides writing
I enjoy shopping, especially for shoes. I’m also a big baseball fan. Naturally, I’m an avid reader, mixing it up between love stories and mysteries.
Sigh, I hate shoes and have been know to by the same shoe in different colors to end the process. When I retired I donated all but a few pairs cuz you can't always wear flip-flops. You've been writing for a few years. Who is your network or support system?
My parents and sister have played a big part in my endeavors, as have several close friends. I also have a former teacher who’s become like a writing coach, and she’s supported me more than I could’ve imagined.
Who or what books or authors inspire you?
Nicholas Sparks. I appreciated his simple style and how he could touch a reader's heart, especially in A Walk to Remember. Once I read that, I knew I wanted to at least try to write a novel.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I have Cerebral Palsy, so I guess my talent is typing thousands of words with my one semi-functioning hand. It’s not very captivating, but some people find it impressive.
That's amazing. It's taking what you have and doing your thing. Not letting circumstances control you, but you controlling them. I believe you live in Ohio. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I’ve lived in the same rural community for my whole life, and it’s pretty much all farmland in my area. We have a couple small towns not far, so we can take care of our shopping and all that. My alma mater is the most special part of it, as I made many good memories there. A lot of people supported me in my pursuit to walk on my own, including the football coach and his team. They even asked me to lead them out onto the field before their last game of the season.
Small towns and rural life is truly special. The way the community comes around and supports individuals. Have you had any adventures lately? Conferences, conventions, vacations? Tell us a bit about what made it special to you.
Like most people, I’ve stuck close to home since the pandemic began, but thankfully, we squeezed in a trip to Arizona in February 2020. I love that part of the country, and since we mainly went for spring training, we were able to attend a couple baseball games—some of the only few with fans allowed the entire season. It was special no matter what, but it became ever more precious with the chaos that ensued a few weeks later.
I've never been to that part of the country. It's definitely on my to camp list. Now for a bit on the lighter side. What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme.
The one that my honorary niece gave me, which says, “Shoes make the woman!”
If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be?
“Tubthumping” (also known as “I Get Knocked Down”)
What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?
In an effort to protect her sand dollar collection, my sister convinced me there was a dove in the center of them that would fly out if I broke one.
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Yes, they’re the highlight of my winter! My family and I enjoy classics, like Clue and Monopoly, as well as Sequence and Ticket to Ride.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with?
Davy Jones of the Monkees. Not to brag, but he also gave me my first kiss—on the cheek, of course.
Many of us of a certain age just swooned. How about some writing questions?
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
To start with, I research the setting and try to visit it if I can. Then, I research subjects as they come up. I’m not a big one for pre-writing exercises; I just fly with it.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I have a variety of methods most of which are secret! On certain occasions, I use a quality the character has and try to form the name with it. In my new novel, Brother of Interest, the neighbor’s last name is Paletta because it means “Scoop” in Romanian—which is appropriate since she’s always digging for a scoop of gossip.
That's great! Thank you for being a guest at the fire today. Karina, your newest book is coming out this Wednesday the 16th. Can you tell us a little about it, where to find it and more about you?
Brother of Interest
(Unde(a)feted Detective Series Book 2)
Heat Rating: Sweet
Minka Avery thought her days of hunting down fugitives were behind her…until her brother becomes one!
There’s nothing more heart-warming than a brother and sister’s bond—or is there?
In Minka Avery’s case, her relationship with her brother, Robin, has been strained for years, but never more than it is in Brother of Interest.
For the past fourteen months, Minka's been basking in the joys of new motherhood, a far cry from the life she had as a deaf police detective. She sometimes misses the rush of chasing criminals, but she finds more excitement than she ever wanted when Robin ends up at the top of the list of suspects in a high-profile assault investigation.
She may not have a badge anymore, but the sister and law enforcer in her impel her unofficially explore the matter on her own. Will she find her runaway brother? Will the evidence she unearths exonerate him...or point to his guilt?
Get a copy
The Wild Rose Press | Amazon | Walmart | Books-A-Million
More about the Author
Karina Bartow grew up and still lives in Northern Ohio. Though born with Cerebral Palsy, she’s never allowed her disability to define her. Rather, she’s used her experiences to breathe life into characters who have physical limitations, but like her, are determined not to let them stand in the way of the life they want. Her debut novel, Husband in Hiding came out in 2015, followed by Forgetting My Way Back to You, 2018. She may only be able to type with one hand, but she writes with her whole heart!
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February 11th, 2022
Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher, said, “Change is the only constant in life.”
I’m a firm believer in this. One time a former employer asked me why I always wanted to change things, I answered. “I like moving and not being stagnant. If it doesn’t work, then we can always go back but if it does, think of the possibilities.”
Since contracting the measles when I was 7 years old, I’ve been hearing impaired.
If I’m in a place with a lot of background noise, everything becomes “buzzing”. I tend to back off and isolate myself in large groups, not understanding what they are saying. If the noise isn’t too bad, I can lip-read to an extent.
My family and friends have gotten used to me and my “positioning”. Going out with friends for dinner, I pick either end of the table on the opposite side, so my good ear is toward the group. Walking down the street often breaks out into a dance of me and whoever shuffling positions. I prefer to drive, so everyone is on my right.
One time I went to the doctor because my right ear was bothering me. Trust me, when one doesn’t work, you are on it when something starts up with the other. Unfortunately, when he tried to remove the problem (TMI alert), earwax further pushed down, and I became almost totally deaf. It was a Friday, and the ENT couldn’t see me until Monday. One of my worst fears happened. The entire world was shut out. Monday came, and the problem was resolved, but the experience still haunts me.
I think that’s why I avoided audiobooks. If I have a bud in my left ear, the world is shut out. It’s not true, but it was my perception.
In the past few years, our life began to have many changes. Before with my hubby and I working full-time, travel was limited. But after we bought our camper, as my sister says, the world became our oyster. Traveling for hours, sometimes for several days, left a lot of downtimes. So, why not. I was in a safe environment. Pete usually drives, and if anyone knows him, he has a booming voice, so no problem hearing him. I went out and bought a set of comfortable earbuds.
Since then, I’ve been hooked, and it followed that Rock House Grill would be my first audiobook. Hearing Shay and Aden’s story brought to life by the incredible Emelie Pla brought tears to my eyes.
I don’t wear headphones when I’m driving. I will confess when I’m taking a walk and “vant to be alone”, I’ll put both in even though the left ear one isn’t needed; I tend to be left alone. Shh, don’t tell on me.
If you love audiobooks or have hesitated to try one, I hope you’ll give Rock House Grill a whirl. Here’s the link
What about you? Does something hold you back? I’d love to chat about it with you.
Around The Fire welcomes fellow Wild Rose Press Author Darlene Fredette and celebrates her new release!
Hello, All. It's been a chilly week for many of you including those of us below the Mason/Dixson line. For those of you who aren't familiar, the line. Historically, it came to be seen as demarcating the North from the South in the U.S. It was surveyed between 1763 and 1767 by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon in the resolution of a border dispute involving Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware in Colonial America. Okay, that's your bit of trivia for today so if it comes up on one of my favorite shows, Jeopardy, you know and can buzz in. Today's guest and I have become better acquainted over the past months via Zoom. We enjoy a tiny group where we discuss all things writing and life. Feeling isolated? Reach out to some folks with some of the same but also different thoughts and ideas and invite them to join you. With todays technology a lively group of friends is only a click away. Now onto Darlene who comes to us from far above that line...
Who you are other than your bio? What interests besides writing do you enjoy?
Wife, mother, dog mom, author, and artist. I’ve rediscovered my love of painting. I follow a sea glass artist who tried an acrylic paint pour and I’ve been hooked ever since.Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I can do a pretty good British accent, lol.Jolly good! We'll do the rest of the interview with a Brit's accent. What is your neighborhood like?
I live in a quiet neighborhood in the City of Lakes. The area received the nickname due to its many lakes. There are countless woodsy parks, which are great for walking the dog. I live in one of two sister cities, separated by a large harbour with tons of history.
If they made a movie about your life, what would the title be, and who would play you?
My life isn’t been that interesting to make a movie, but I’d jump at the chance to have one of my books written into a movie. Redford Falls makes a great setting!
Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I wear a silver cross necklace with two diamonds my daughter gave me, and a gold ring with three clusters of diamonds shaped into flowers that my husband gave me on my fortieth birthday.They both sound lovely. What is your favorite mug or teacup?
Last year for my birthday, my husband bought me glass cups with two layers. I have a cup of hot chocolate every evening, so the cups get lots of use.Years ago, there was a commercial that talked about a “Kodak Moment.” It’s a moment in time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
Looking for a Christmas tree with my father. It was our yearly tradition and every time a catch the scent of a fir tree, it reminds me of those long-ago days.Did you ever win something?
Many years ago, I won a contest on the radio. You had to guess the name of the song in the first three notes. I was the first caller with the answer ‘Angie’ by the Rolling Stones. I won a Revlon kit of women’s beauty supplies.
My husband, Pete, has a talent like that. He can name the song in the first notes. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Each book is usually already mapped out in my head. I then research various professions or places on the internet. Research time varies. I might be in the middle of a scene and go check to find a few interesting facts or to make sure I have right colouring of a particular animal in the story.
Darlene, thanks so much for sharing my fire. Before you head out will you share something of your new release and where to find more information about it and you?
Finding Home Again
Book 5 of 5: A Redford Falls Novel
Released today February 07, 2022 by The Wild Rose Press
A missing dog, a potential poisoning, and a suspicious death. Will Jordan and Logan find their happy-ever-after before another mysterious accident occurs?
Caretaker of a historical home, Jordan McKenzie, promised to keep a secret, but doing so gets harder by the minute, especially when an innocent kiss misses its intended target. Entangled in a web of mysterious mishaps, she discovers a surprising family connection. Is putting her trust in her boss' handsome nephew a risk worth taking?
Chef, Logan Crane, returns to Redford Falls hoping to claim an inheritance to open a restaurant, but he side-lines his plan after meeting Jordan. When past secrets intermingle with a present attraction, will Logan open his heart to the possibility of a future in Redford Falls…and with Jordan?
A look inside...
“That kiss was meant for your cheek. You moved.” Jordan pulled on her helmet then waved a hand for Miska to jump into his seat. She tossed Logan his helmet. “You weren’t supposed to kiss me.”
“A beautiful woman plants one on me and I’m not to respond?” He stepped beside her and ran a finger down her cheek. “Unfortunately, I can’t tell your boyfriend our outing was strictly platonic anymore. Because I kissed his girl, and I liked it.”
Blushing, Jordan nudged her shoulder against his before getting into her ATV and driving away.
Logan shouldn’t have kissed her—and he shouldn’t have flirted. But dang it, he truly enjoyed both—and given the opportunity, he would do both again.
More about the author
Darlene resides on the Atlantic Coast of Canada where the summers are too short, and the winters are too long. An avid reader since childhood, Darlene loved to develop the many stories coming to life in her head. She writes sweet contemporary romances with a focus on plot-driven page-turners. When not working on her next book, she can be found with her husband, her daughter, and her yellow Labrador. Darlene’s favourite pastimes are reading, painting, and taking summer daytrips to the Valley to soak in the small-town feel.
Universal Purchase Link: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/2021/04/my-books-purchase-links.html
Author Web Site: http://darlenefredette.blogspot.com/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Darlene-Fredette/e/B005NAF660/
Finding Home Again Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/2_STxHh37A4
Greetings fellow earthlings! Oh, and if any of you are aliens then, ghIlab (Klingon). Thanks for joining us from wherever you are. I can't believe it's February already. It's the month of Love. If you want to get in the mood, after spending time with today's guest, head over to my Bonus Content page and read a very special Valentine's story. That said, don't forget to signup for my newsletter. On the 14th I'll be sending a special announcement. mailchi.mp/1172dfb299fb/d-v-stones-around-the-fire.
Now that that's all taken care of, please help me welcome fellow Jersey Girl, you know we don't pump our own gas, Ruth A. Casie
Hi Ruth! I'm so happy you came back to the fire. I hear you have some exciting news. I don't want to miss a thing so while I get us a warm beverage why don't you tell everyone who you are?
I am the proud mother of three wonderful children. I have written that sentence at least three times. Children. They all have children of their own. Our older daughter is a pre-k teacher who did an awesome job with remoting teaching. She has a daughter who is 16 and a son 13. Our younger daughter has just started her own cottage baking cookie business. She made cookies for Anna St. Claire and I with our signature and book covers for the reader’s event we went to Romancing the Gold Coast. She and her husband have a daughter who is 4. Our son is the youngest is a cyber security engineer and if I knew what he did he’d have to kill me. His ring on my phone is Secret Agent Man. He and his wife have a new baby who turned 3 months last week.
Lol, I have a cousin like that. Plausible deniability. I don't want to know what you do. Ruth, what interests besides writing do you enjoy?
I am working on a new Regency series, so a lot of my recent reading is research driven. For The Lady and the Spy, I was researching codes used in the 1800’s, spy codes. That was an education. For the next book in the series, I’m researching the industrial revolution and Luddites.
When I’m not reading or researching, I spend time with our grandchildren. It’s been difficult to see our son, his wife and their new baby. They live in Boston and we live in New Jersey. Our two daughters and their families live close by. During the holidays, my Boston brood came home. IT WAS WONDERFUL. Here are the grandchildren. (Note from D. all photos are below because my site won't let me insert where I want. If anyone knows a Weebly workaround please let me know.)
I may like to think I'm a rock or an island but we all need someone. Who is your network or support system?
This is tough question. There are so many people who have and still do contribute to my career. My first critique partners Emma Kaye, Nicole S. Patrick, and Lita Harris. The writing groups I belong to New Jersey Romance Writers, Hudson Valley Romance Writers, Washington Romance Writers DC, Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Regency Fiction Writers (aka Beau Monde)
My publishing twin, Julie Rowe. Our first novels were published by Carina Press and were released on the same day. We have stayed very close friends. Eliza Knight who was my mentor. Kathryn LeVeque my editor and role model.
There are my readers, librarians, friends, and family. I don’t think anyone does it alone.
That is an impressive list. You are a lucky lady to have them beside you. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in Teaneck, a northern New Jersey town about five miles outside of New York City. We are a town of roughly 40K people. The township was created in 1895, but the first buildings date back to 1704. Our area was prominent during the Revolutionary War with George Washington and his troops passing through Teaneck on their hasty retreat from the British.
Cedar Lane is our main street in town and the crowning shop is Bischoff’s Confectionery. It is an old-fashioned ice cream soda fountain experience complete with red leather spinning stools. I LOVE the cherry vanilla ice cream.
Yum! I brought my ice cream maker to Florida. I'm planning some cherry vanilla. We'll save you some. Now, Tell us more about you. Have you had any adventures lately? Conferences, conventions, vacations?
While I have been to Zoom conference this past October I went to my first in person event in 18 months, Romancing the Gold Coast in Glen Cove Long Island. This was a two-day reader’s event with games and crafts, an elegant tea and delicious ball. Many of us were in costumes which made the event even more special. I met fans I only knew by name and saw authors and librarians I hadn’t seen in a long time. Here is a look that Anna St. Claire and I decorated and hosted. We had cookies with our book covers on them and the tea wallets (in the tea cups) had tea bags and squares of wrapped chocolate.
That sounds like so much fun! As an author I love things like that. I wish more readers would come out and meet us. Most authors don't bite and even if I do, I'm vaccinated. Literally for rabies. Ruth, do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
I have a pin that is very special to me. My grandmother gave it to me when I graduated from college. I had never seen it before. It’s a beautiful diamond and platinum antique pin. After all these years of not having anyplace to where it, I finally found the event and dress to wear it, on the Regency costume I wore to the Romancing the Gold Coast reader’s event this last October.
That must have made your Grandmother look down and smile. What is your favorite mug or teacup.
My most favorite mug is the one that says, Nana. It’s just the right size and it keeps my coffee hot.
Favorite childhood book, or writing that inspired you to become an author?
My favorite childhood author was Walter Farley and his Black Stallion series. I had read Nancy Drew. I didn’t really like the Hardy Boys. But there was something about this series that hooked me. It a triumphant tale of a boy and a wild horse. Alec is on ship and the stallion is being transported. There is a storm at sea. Alec saves the horse. They both make it to a deserted island where they have adventures and are eventually rescued.
I too loved the Black Stallion. It's a beautiful and timeless piece of children's literature. If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Easy answer… Cherry vanilla ice cream from Bischoff’s Confectioners in Teaneck, New Jersey.
Worst household chore?
The worst household chore ever is the laundry for one simple reason. I cannot reach the bottom of the washer to remove the clothes. Therefore, (*smiley face*) my husband does the wash. Actually, laundry could be my favorite.
Ha, I just pictured you with your feet poking out the top of the washer😝 If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?
I would love to travel to London in the Regency era about 1825. I am currently writing a Regency romance and I am immersed in the era down to the clothes.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I would take unlimited international first-class tickets and travel, travel, travel. I want to see places I write about again and again.
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Sometimes I play Scrabble with the family or Chutes and Ladders with the grandchildren. I am currently learning Mahjong. It’s a board game without a board.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with?
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize for Economy 2001. Full disclosure. Joe is my sister-in-law’s brother. I cannot claim the gene pool. Joe and his wife Anya are gracious and wonderful, but I will admit to being a bit star struck. At a family gathering, he sat with me and asked about my writing, when my next book was being released, and he asked with interest not as a conversation filler. He found it mind boggling that I self-published several of my books.
On the writing side, I had real fan-girl moments when I met Diana Gabaldon, before Outlander was on television. We didn’t talk for long, but she gave me words of advice. I had just read Tasha Alexander’s first book in Lady Emily Mysteries. I was the conference chair that year for the New Jersey Romance Writer’s and had to invite speakers. I loved her book so much, I contacted her and she attended. It was great.
Oh wow, I bet their are a few folks, including me, that are pea green with envy. Diana is amazing. If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, do that thing you do!” what thing would pop into your head first?
Make a brisket.
Can I tell you, I love a brisket. So tender and flavorful. I'm sure our other visitors would like to know more about your writing, like how do you select the names of your characters?
I start with names I like and many times, most times actually, as the story develops, their name changes.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read my reviews. The good and the bad ones. When my first book was published I read the reviews excited that someone actually read my book, Knight of Runes. One review threw me for a loop. It wasn’t about the story. I could understand not pleasing every reader, but this review was a personal attack.
Such a shame. Unfortunately there are unhappy people who seek to steal our joy. I try to brush it off. Like the song by Ricky Nelson says https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PECmjB9df0wsay "You see, ya can't please everyone, so ya got to please yourself." What was your hardest scene to write?
I was writing the second book, Knight of Rapture, in my Druid Knight series. This is a time travel romance. In this story, the heroine has been tricked to go back to her time in the 20th century. The love of her life, our hero has to go find a way from the 17th century into the 20th century to save her. He finds her and tells her he will never leave her. The villain has been devious. If our hero stays in the 20th century, his estate will vanish and so will the heroine. The only way to save her is to return to the 17th century. But she cannot return.
I cried when Arik realized that with all his magic there was nothing he could do. He had to leave her. I cried when I wrote that scene and I cried when he actually left her. I cheered because she was made of stronger stuff and found a way to follow him. I still cry when I reread those scenes.
Sniff. Now that were all crying, thanks Ruth, lol can you leave us a bit about you newest release? I hear it's coming soon. But before we do here are the pictures Ruth sent.
Coming February 17, 2022
The Lady and the Spy
Ruth A Casie
Her mind kept telling her to stop loving him, but her heart couldn’t let him go.
With each encounter her heartbeat quickened.
With each encounter his need for her grew stronger.
Lady Patrice Montgomery Edgemont always did what was expected of her and look where that got her, married off by her father into a loveless relationship. She solved the puzzle that was prospective husband number two, another of her father’s choices and quickly made him a distant memory. Lady Patrice is not playing games. She is through with men.
Nikolai Baranov is the son of a Russian grand duke and spy for Tzar Alexander I. When his father and associates are killed, Nikolai doesn’t play games. The only thing worth winning is revenge for his family.
When a blizzard blankets Sommer-by-the-Sea, Lady Patrice is the only one who can help the mysterious wounded Russian she finds in her hunting lodge. It will take Nikolai’s skill as a spy and Lady Patrice’s expertise at solving puzzles to play through and win the game, a happily ever after.
Her mind kept telling her to stop loving him, but her heart couldn’t let him go.
Heat Rating PG
Buy Link Amazon KU
Storyteller | Blogger | Creative Thinker | Dreamer | Good Sport | Teammate
Hi – I’m Ruth A. Casie and I write historical and contemporary romance. You might be wondering what I’m about. Sit back and let me tell you.
I’m happiest when I’m telling stories either chatting in a group or writing them down. I love to put my hero and heroine in tough situations and dare them to work it out—together, always together. They haven’t disappointed. Oh, they complain but in the end their love and relationships are stronger than ever.
My stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. They will keep you turning the pages until the end. I hope my books become your favorite adventures.
Here are five things you probably don’t know about me.
1. I filled my passport up in one year.
2. I have three series. The Druid Knight stories are a historical time travel series. The Stelton Legacy is historical fantasy about the seven sons of a seventh son. Havenport Romances are stories set in a small coastal town in Rhode Island. I also write stories in the connected world the Pirates of Britannia.
3. I did a rap to “How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow If a Tow Truck Could Tow Trucks.”
4. When I cook I dance.
5. My Sudoku book is in the bathroom. I’m not saying anything else about that.
6. I'm a USA Today bestselling author.
Send me a note at Ruth@RuthACasie.com to find out about my hobbies.
Your Host D.V. Stone
Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
Amazon Author Page