Hello, everyone! I'm back in New Jersey just in time for my second pollen season of the year. Huzzah! We left Florida in the high 80s and arrived in NJ in the 40s. In between I felt like a mail carrier Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. We hit it all especially in Virginia where we had snow, sleet, and rain. It's good to be back though. The daffodils, hyacinth are in full bloom and Pete got to mow the lawn. We already had a fire in the firepit as well as on the deck with the propane one.
I'm excited to introduce you to today's guest. Her sweet inspirational book asks and answers this question. Can the comfort of campfires, hayrides, and sweet kisses bring these two lost souls together?
Hi, Liz welcome to the fire. While I grab us some warm beverages, why don't you introduce yourself and tell us Who you are other than your bio?
Thanks for having me around the fire. There’s a cool pavilion built on the footprint of an old tobacco barn in Life’s Too Short for White Walls that has fireplaces on both ends. I swear I got warm just writing scenes that took place there.
I’m a wife, a mom, a nana. I’m more political than I ever thought I’d be, less social, and…settled. I love my life.
That fireplace scenario sounds wonderful. What interests besides writing do you enjoy? For instance, what do you read or hobbies you have?
I sew, and I quilt. However, the only time I can really do that is when the writing isn’t going well, which means, blessedly, that I haven’t been doing much of it lately. I travel whenever I get a chance, with very little concern about where I’m going.
Ah, a fellow sojourner through life. Who is your network or support system?
It’s so funny that long after I thought the time for developing deep friendships had passed, writer Nan Reinhardt teamed up. We travel together, share writing days together, roll our eyes at our husbands together, and depend on each other for all kinds of brainstorming help. In addition, I’m part of a few writing groups with whom I share much coffee and commiseration.
Nan sounds like a great companion to share the road and writing with. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I wrote because of Louisa May Alcott. Like many before me, I AM Jo March. Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s writing voice has always been a force for me. Not that I sound like her or even want to, but I want to give a reader the kind of feeling I get from reading Ms. Seidel’s stuff.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
Well, I wish… I do make really good chili.
Yum, chili is one of my favorites to cook in a Dutch oven over the fire. I'll have to get your recipe. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
We live in the cornfields. The nearest neighbors are a quarter-mile away, but we’re all friendly when we see each other. My church, however, is right across the road, so if I play hooky, there’s no hiding the fact even if I wanted to!
There is a nearby coffee shop, the Black Dog, that we frequent a lot. My husband is a musician, and they play there, plus Scott Johnson, the owner, and a few of us created a writers’ group that is so much fun! Gallery 15 is another place we go, where Sarah and Ron Luginbill support all the arts. I’ve read aloud an open mic a few times there, something I never even thought of doing but is really kind of fun. I think applause is somewhat addictive, whether you deserve it or not.
Those places sound great. 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?
At my younger son and daughter-in-law’s wedding, my granddaughters and some other little girls were standing around the bride—they got married in our backyard—and they had stripped nearly every bloom off my snowball bush. Just as someone snapped the picture, they threw the petals into the air over the bride. I could still cry over how beautiful Laura and all those little girls were in that moment.
Do you have a favorite childhood book?
I have a lot of favorites, but my sister had a whole set of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy books. I read them over and over. Just as with Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s voice, I remember how they made me feel.
What is your worst household chore?
Dusting—it always comes back!
Do you play board games? What games do you like?
I love board games. I never win, but I still love them. I don’t even have favorites. I think it’s because I like sitting around the table with people and laughing a lot.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
Watching my oldest grandchild be born.
What was your hardest scene to write?
In a book long ago, a beloved character died. It was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever written. I grieved right along with everyone else in the book. Years later, I still think about her.
Our characters are often like our children. We create them. Nurture them. Learn about them intimately. So losing them can be quite difficult. Liz thanks so much for sharing my fire. Before you leave would you tell our reader where they can find out more about you and your book?
Life’s Too Short for White Walls
Still reeling from her divorce, Joss Murphy flees to Banjo Bend, Kentucky, where she'd been safe and happy as a child. The family farm is now a campground. Weary and discouraged, she talks owner Ezra McIntire into renting her a not-quite-ready cabin.
With PTSD keeping him company, Ez thrives on the seclusion of the campground. The redhead in Cabin Three adds suggestions to his improvement plans, urging color and vibrancy where there was none.
Neither is looking for love, yet the attraction they share is undeniable. Can the comfort of campfires, hayrides, and sweet kisses bring these two lost souls together?
B & N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/lifes-too-short-for-white-walls-liz-flaherty/1140917290?ean=2940160796727
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/gb/book/lifes-too-short-for-white-walls/id1606569657
Bio and social links:
Retired from the post office, Liz Flaherty spends non-writing time sewing, traveling, and doing whatever else she wants to. She and her husband Duane live in the old farmhouse in North Central Indiana they moved to in 1977. They’ve talked about moving, but really…40-plus years’ worth of stuff? It’s not happening. It would require removing old baseball trophies from the attic and dusting the pictures of the Magnificent Seven, their grandchildren.
She’d love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org or please come and see her at:
Around The Fire returns to New Jersey
Hi, everyone! After almost four months in Perry, Florida, I’ve returned to the north. If you follow me on social media, you know we left camp in the 80s wearing shorts and t-shirts. By the time we hit the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, things were a tad different. Like the postal carrier creed—neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night. Yep, we were in it all. Pete did a great job navigating 2HOOTS while I followed in Snowball. During the trip, I listened to Jan Karon’s Mitford books. Many years ago, I read and loved them. Listening is a whole different thing. I recommend both print and audio series if you like inspirational books.
Arriving home in The Garden State gave me a chance for a second spring. We left Perry as it was turning to summer. Pollen, bugs, and humidity were slipping in. I don’t do well with either of those. Not that New Jersey doesn’t’ have exactly that during the summer. If you read Rainbow Sprinkles, I wrote about the three Hs—Hazy, Hot, and Humid.
Florida was good for my work and reading. I finished several books and enjoyed the local life. Fests happen all the time in the Sunshine State. We went to the Manatee Fest and the Fiddler Crab Fest. The Bluegrass Fest was rainy, so we decided to stay at camp. Crystal River gave me an up-close with manatees. If you didn’t eat Somewhere, you could eat Nowhere. Pete’ enjoyed Grumpy’s Diner while I plowed my way through seafood at the Crazy Crab.
The downside was pizza. You just can’t get a straight-up pepperoni pizza in the area we were. Also, believe it or not, there wasn’t any ice cream parlor to be had. Not even a DQ. Tragedy nearly ensued when we couldn’t find a Dunkin closer than forty-five miles. Say what you want about Walmart; at least we could buy the coffee there and make it at camp.
Flea markets, vintage stores, and antique shops were in abundance, and you know Pete, and I, enjoy poking through those. I post some of my favorite finds on Facebook for #whatsitwednesday, so follow me and check it out.
Leaving Perry, Florida, KOA was bittersweet. We made lots of friends and spent many nights around the campfire with people from all over the US and Canada. So many are coming back next year, and we look forward to returning as well.
We dropped our landing gear at home on Monday, the day after Easter. Hali leaped from the truck and sniffed and prowled, reclaiming her homestead. My sixteen-year-old cat, Baby, stretched and yawned before assuming her regular sleep spot. To my surprise, she made a great traveling and camping cat.
One of the reasons for us returning in April was the Wine, Romance, and More event held at the brookhollowwinery in Columbia, NJ. There were fifty authors from all different genres signing books and fellowship with other writers and especially readers. Agent Carter and the first edition of Felice moved off my table at an amazing pace. I even had an author assistant. Thanks, Desi M., for pitching in and pitching my stories.
NJ is putting on a show with foliage. The forsythia is blazing yellow. Bulb plants like daffodils and hyacinth are coloring my yard with yellow, pink, and purple. Tulips are ready to pop, too.
After collapsing from travel exhaustion, one of the first things we did was set up our deck. The second was a fire in the pit, and then Sunday, a propane fire on the deck. You can take the girl out of the campground, but you can’t take the campfire out of the girl.
I will wrap up by letting you know what I accomplished this winter. First Jazz House went to the final-final galley. I wrote and submitted another story along the lines of Rainbow Sprinkles and waiting to hear back. Felice has been re-edited and will be released as a second edition this fall. Kisa will be going to the editor on August first. A top-secret book I’m cooperating with other authors will be going to another editor in October. So as you can see, I’ve been sitting on my laurels eating bonbons.
I enjoyed catching you up. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the sections labeled um… comments. Or you could always email me if you’re shy.
Here's a few highlights from our time...
I love that today’s special guest wrote about St. Augustine. Hubby and I returned just last night from Florida. We visited St. Augustine last year. My cousins live there. While I pour us a chilled beverage, why don’t you get us started, M. S., by telling our visitors who you are other than the official bio.
Thanks so much for letting warm myself at your fire! I was—until I’d had enough—a perennial student (did you ever watch the movie The Librarian? That was me). I hold a BA from Vassar College, a diploma in Arabic Studies from the American University in Cairo, and Masters in Anthropology and in Library Science from the University of Chicago. Among other posts, I’ve been a librarian, a nonprofit president, a Congressional aide, and a speechwriter. I’ve lived or traveled on five of the seven continents. Antarctica is not really on my bucket list, but Australia is!
I finally came back home to DC in 1980 and landed a temp job on Capitol Hill which turned into a professional staff position. While it was thrilling to be involved in creating legislation, it was the brushes with celebrities that blew me away. Charlton Heston graciously allowing this breathless legislative assistant to have her picture taken with him. Or standing in the Rose Garden when Margaret Thatcher came to visit Ronald Reagan. There were embarrassing moments as well, as when Paul Newman called my husband and I answered the phone, “Joe’s racetrack and speedway, place your bets.” I distinctly remember the puzzled pause at the other end of the line.
I started publishing in 2009 and have released fifteen romantic suspense or murder mystery novels, with two more on the way. I have two fabulous grown children and an incredible granddaughter and currently divide my time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and a tiny village in Maine.
Huh, I’m sort of speechless. That rarely happens to me. Ask my husband. Wowzah! What an exciting and unique life. I’ll bet you have tons of stories to tell, and this was only the iceberg. What do you like to read? Which books or authors are your inspiration?
I don’t read as much now as I did before I started writing—mainly thrillers and mysteries. As a child and adult I was a voracious reader—especially of those books called “classics,” figuring it was a classic for a reason. I devoured English writers—Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Evelyn Waugh—for their delicate, precise prose, and the mystery writers—Christie, Sayers, Allingham, and Marsh—for their deceptively simple puzzles. I loved biographies as well—a more interesting way to learn history.
I’m a voracious reader and also enjoy biographies. One of my favorites was Gracie A Love Story by George Burns. What is your neighborhood like?
My husband died in 2010, and after hours spent staring at my bedroom ceiling, I picked myself up and moved to Florida. My complex—on a Gulf coast key—is full of fascinating characters retired from all walks of life. It is an intellectually diverse population with one common element—we love the constantly blue Florida sky. My neighbors perfectly blend the art of being socially welcoming while sensitive to one’s need to be alone.
I’m so sorry for your loss. I am, however, in awe of someone who is able to put their life together and find their place again. Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
The ability to wiggle out of any public speaking engagement. Oh, also: I had vegetable, fruit, and herb gardens at my house in Virginia, and learned to make all kinds of pickles, relishes, jellies, and preserves. Here in Florida, I’m experimenting with recipes from my Meyer lemon, my Beautyberry, my fig and maybe someday my passionfruit vine and my grapefruit tree. I think of it as free food 😊.
I love gardening. When I was in Perry, Florida, tomatoes went into containers and traveled back with me in the shower of the camper. Herbs in the front of my DH’s truck. 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?
Sitting on my desk is a ceramic statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh. Underneath him runs a mouse. It depicts the Indian tale of the mouse who became so proud he made the gods angry, so Ganesh sat on him. It had pride of place on my father’s desk while he wrote his books, and on mine now. Not sure why.
Favorite childhood book?
I loved the Oz books & collect them now. When I finished my BA thesis at Princeton I went to the library and borrowed all the Oz books they had.
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
A tin of the finest Russian beluga caviar, with toast points, chopped boiled egg, and sweet onion. Washed down with a bottle of Bollinger brut.
Did you ever win something?
I suffer from a strange malady—I can have a thousand chances to win $2 and still fail. I once spent three hours in a charity bingo event. Several hundred people attended. There was only one person who never got a bingo. Guess who. I have only won one thing—a sixteen-pound Butterball turkey. The day after Thanksgiving.
Lol, I won a turkey once. My aunt dropped it on her foot and broke a toe. So, it really was a loss. What was your first job?
If you don’t count the lifeguard gig and research assistantships in the Library of Congress, National Academy of Sciences, and the American Museum of Natural History, then I’d cite the first real job with benefits: a publishing assistant for the magazine Electric Light & Power.
How do you select the names of your characters?
That’s one of the more entertaining aspects of writing. Sometimes—not often—the character chooses her own name and I can’t dislodge it no matter how many “find & replace” I insert. In many books I choose a theme related to the story. In Whirlwind Romance, every character had a 17th-century English name. In Hidden Gem, the heroine is named after an obscure island, because her father loved maps. Usually the names are in place by the third chapter.
M.S., thank you so much for joining me today. You are such an interesting person. Before you head out to either the garden or another adventure, will you leave us with some information about your new release and where to find more about it and you?
The Secret Of St. Augustine
M. S. Spencer
Barnaby and Philo’s story begins with very bad chili and a dead body.
Barnaby is in St. Augustine, Florida, to teach a college seminar, and plans to use The Secret—a treasure hunt book—as a framework for his class. He enlists Philo Brice, owner of an antique map store, to aid him in seeking clues in the historic sites of the ancient city.
Together they face murderers, thieves, thugs, and fanatics, heightening their already strong attraction to each other. Can they solve the puzzle and unearth the treasure before the villains do? Philo and Barnaby pursue several twisting paths and false leads before arriving at a startling conclusion.
Hidden Gem: the Secret of St. Augustine
The Wild Rose Press, April 4, 2022
Cozy mystery/Romantic suspense
418 p.; 96,570 words
Barnes & Noble
Sitting around the fire is for both old friends and new. We're on our way back home after living for 4 months in Florida. Pete and I shared many fires with new friends. Now heading home, we look forward to catching up with our old friends. Today's guest returns to us with a new release. Judythe, please introduce yourself while I pour us a nice beverage. The the folks who you are other than your official bio.
I’m a mother to three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother to two (another due next month). They are the joy of my life.
Wow! You need a big table for those holiday get togethers. So, other than grands what What interests do you enjoy? For instance, what do you read or hobbies you have?
I’m a gardener, singer, and I love doing jigsaw puzzles and playing bridge.
My garden is portable this year. Started the tomatoes in Florida and hope they make it back to NJ. The have support stakes helping them. Who are you're support stakes?
My husband is my chief cheerleader, copy editor, and plot partner. I am also blessed to have several ultra-supportive writing friends who inspire me and help me burst through the writer blocks.
Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
JoAnn Ross’s books have always inspired me. Mary Buckham and Donald Maass have grown my craft skills and been encouragers.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I’ve long been called a jack of all trades, master of none. And it’s the truth. Not sure it’s a talent, though. I love trying new things and will always say yes to a challenge.
It's absolutely a talent. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
We live in a small community of farmers that is rapidly becoming cityfied. Trees are disappearing, replaced with subdivisions whose houses sit on postage stamp lots. It’s sad and exciting. Our little group of homes sits on a hill in a grove of oak trees. We’re far enough from main roads that our immediate area will remain unchanged. I’m so glad, too, because our home is a designated Wildlife Habitat, and the animals will have a safe place to come.
I call them house farms. I'm glad you have your little oasis in the midst of it. 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 am an antique dealer as well as an author. The Victorian era (1837 until 1901) is my favorite era. The Victorians were sentimental, and acrostic rings were popular during the era. The rings used the initials of gemstones to stand for letters. Put together, the gemstones would spell a word. These were basically little love letters full of passion and affection.
An acrostic ring hallmarked 1830 that I found has become a precious keepsake. My ring spells DEAREST. D – Diamond, E – Emerald, A – Amethyst, R – Ruby, E – Emerald, S – Sapphire, T – Topaz
That is very cool. I had no idea. Do you play board games? What games do you like?
Board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Chutes and Ladders, and Parchisi are favorites with the grands. Personally, I love adult card games, especially Bridge, but I’m always up for a game of Go Fish or Battle with the wee ones.
Hubby and I enjoy grownup cards. My grand are getting older and now we play UNO with them. What was your first job?
My first job is almost embarrassing, considering all the robocalls we all receive these days. I worked in a phone pool soliciting for charities and fundraisers.
LOL! I had that job too. It's the only job that fired me for not generating anything. I'm a fan of research on my books. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I usually have a solid base knowledge of the background for all my stories. Things that pop up as I write tend to be the ones that lead me down the rabbit hole of research. I can spend hours finding the perfect restaurant or house plan, or dress.
How do you select the names of your characters?
My character’s names come from family and friends…with their permission, of course. Sometimes the personality of the character matches their name, and sometimes the character’s personality is more how I see the family member or friend than how they see themselves. So far, no one has protested. It’s a sneaky way to get family and friends to read my books to see how their characters turned out.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I do read reviews but rarely dwell on them. If a bad one has good points, then I, for sure, take the criticism under consideration. I just wish more readers wrote reviews.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
I’ve spent lots more on workshops, and craft writing retreats with outstanding authors, editors, and agents. I prefer the small setting to the larger conference arena. The investment was worth it. I’ve never regretted all I learned or the friendships I made.
Judythe, thank you for stopping by the fire today. Before you head out on your next adventure will you leave a bit about your new book and where to find you? And I hear you have a picture of the "Dearest" ring you described.
When Love Trusts
HEAT LEVEL: Clean and Wholesome, PG-13
A second chance at first love
Growing up together in a small Texas town, Josh Fitzpatrick and Mara Burke always had each other’s backs, right up until Mara dated—then dumped—his best friend. A relationship built on love and trust… until it wasn’t.
Now, an Army sniper home on medical leave, Josh’s wounds go deeper than the shrapnel dug from his thigh. Nightmares torment him. No one knows he’s responsible for a senseless tragedy and the death of his fellow soldiers. While his body recovers, he wrestles with guilt and waits for news of possible disciplinary action.
Mara’s a single mom and administrator at a home for boys, still hiding the terrible secret that created the ten-year chasm between them.
When the boy’s home needs volunteers after a fire, Josh steps in. The sparks from their youth soon ignite a new passion, but will sharing their secrets be enough to overcome the pain and hurt that lies between them?
REVIEW for When Love Trusts
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for When Love Trusts!
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2021
I’m a huge fan of Ms. Morgan’s Fitzpatrick series!! Well, of all her books! And When Love Trusts is another winner. I love how her characters are so real to life with problems, with pasts, with a love of family, and sense of honor. Josh and Mara shared their childhood together and have never forgotten what they meant to each other. But when they reunite, SO much that has happened since they parted ways holds them at bay. I found the patience of these characters to be something everyone should aspire to possess. I enjoyed all the characters, seeing characters from the other books, and meeting a few new ones. Heartfelt and gritty I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the next.
Get your copy today
Amazon Kindle: https://amzn.to/3pdkqrN
For more about the author follow her on social media
Remember the slogan "Make Love Not War"? How About This One. Love Wins! Around The Fire with N. N. Light & Starfish
What can one person do?
There was a story I heard years ago. A man walked along the beach. He spotted another man picking up a starfish and putting it back in the water. The first man looked around. Hundreds of starfish were beached. He shook his head in disbelief when the second man picked up another of the creatures and walked back to the shoreline. The first man called out to the second man, "What are you doing? You can't save them all."
The second man place the starfish in the surf and went to retrieve yet another.
"But I can save this one." He lifted one into the air.
The second man paused. Then he too scooped up a stranded animal and returned it to the water.
My guest today is like the first man. Will you be like the second? Please? Thanks. D.
I’m so thrilled to be a guest on this blog. Thank you so much for hosting me.
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