One of my favorite things to do, is sit around the fire. Whether it’s away in a campground, or at home in front the chiminea, some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame and sparks drifting up into the night sky joining the stars. Today I'm blogging from gorgeous Weston Vermont. This is our second trip here and let me tell you. Stunning. So, wherever you’re joining us from pour yourself a cuppa and relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. In the next couple of months the newsletter will have deleted scenes, scavenger hunts with prizes and games, all to introduce my 2020 release of Rock House Grill.
I'm pleased to welcome science fiction, fantasy and young adult author Susan Royal. Thank you for taking the time to spend with us. Do you have a preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Coffee or cocoa for sure. If it’s too hot for that, it’s too hot to be sitting around the campfire
Hah, you'd be surprised at the temperatures I've insisted on have a fire around. Tell us, do you have any camping experience, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
Tent, trailer, RV. Honey I’ve done it all. As a kid, my sisters and I slept on army cots next to the Guadalupe River. When hubby and I were first married, we sometimes threw a mattress in the back of the pickup and slept under the stars. We camped out all over Texas hill country, east Texas, and Arkansas.
My kind of girl. One day we hope to hit the Southwest. The pictures are stunning in that part of the country. I'm interested in your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I’m writing the third installment of my time travel series. Working title: To The Past. Fantasy and action with liberal doses of romance. The kind of book I love to read.
Time travel is so much fun to read. You can go anywhere anytime. Do you have a tagline?
Not yet. I’m still working on it.
I think you have your tagline already in your description. Fantasy and action with liberal doses of romance. Who wouldn't pick up a book like that. How long did it take from conception to fruition? It’s the most asked question for me.
I had the opening scene of Not Long Ago written for at least a year before I went any further with it. It could have gone in a thousand different directions, but the romantic in me knew I had to explore the connection between the man and the woman who saw each other by accident through the coffee shop window. From there, it morphed into the kind of story that’s always fascinated me – time travel.
It's amazing how an image or a thought takes off in an author's mind and grows to a full fledged novel. What challenges have you faced during writing and how did you get through it?
I decided if I was ever going to realize my dream of being published, I had to write a book. From beginning to end. I didn’t have a clue. I just wrote. I joined Critique Circle, a great learning experience. I read everything on writing I could find. I went to writing conferences. Wrote, edited, rewrote. Submitted got rejected, resubmitted. Kept learning, kept trying, and never gave up.
Wow, hard work, determination, and willingness. Often people have dreams but aren't willing to put in the hours. Good for you. Anything you’re itching to get to?
I want to continue my time travel series. Who knows how far into the future (past?) the story will lead me. I also want to write urban fantasy. And finish the young adult paranormal I started years ago.
I love that-"the story will lead me". Since you brought it up, let’s time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Start writing little sooner in life than I did. That’s about it.
A Chinese Proverb says A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I think fear holds many people back. When I started I kept my laptop in lock-down so not even my husband could see. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Photography, painting, reading, music, junking, re-purposing, up-cycling, sewing, movies, shopping…I have way too many irons in the fire.
Re-purposing and up-cycling are some of my favorites as well. I wonder if our campfire friends can tell us about their projects in the comments. Describe yourself in three words?
Stubborn, impatient, determined
We must be twins. But you need those qualities to get it done, right? On a quite personal level, do you have a tattoo or special piece of jewelry? Can you tell us the meaning behind it?
I wear my husband’s wedding band. I took it off his hand the day he died and have worn it ever since.
I'm so very sorry for your loss. What a beautiful thing to help you with honoring him. Life passes so quickly. Do you have a“Kodak Moment.” A day or a time which you'll always remember?
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to have my Kodak moment, one I revisit often. It was a brisk, clear night with ground fog creeping across the fields beyond the house.
My grandson, Caleb, was seven at the time and full of energy. He was twirling around in circles beside the fire and asked me to dance with him.
“Oh, honey, I can’t,” I said. “It’s dark out here, and I can’t see. I might fall down.”
“Take my hand, Granny. I won’t let you fall.”
And that’s how I ended up, dancing with my grandson under the stars on a beautiful fall night.
That is so beautiful when I read it tears blurred my vision. It is so poetic and could be a scene in a movie. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
Ray Bradbury. He was one of my inspirations to become a writer. I started reading his books when I was a child. Nobody paints a picture with words like he did.
He was an amazing and successful author and screen writer. That said, what does success look like to you?
Lots of reviews and fans who email me, asking when my next book is coming out because they can’t wait.
So many readers don't understand the importance of reviews to authors. The review doesn't have to be long and detailed. A simple, I read the book. I liked the book. And one or two sentences why. Easy Peasy. Susan, thank you again for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
Readers don't forget to stop by next week when Viviana MacKade author of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary and Fantasy will join me around the Campfire
Falling in love with someone from another world. How romantic. But Griffin and Erin are faced with overwhelming challenges. He thinks she’s impulsive. She thinks he’s controlling. And when Griffin is charged with escorting an old rival on an overnight journey to Castle Llewellyn, Erin puts her foot down. Will they ever learn to live with each other?
A noise sounded in the alleyway behind me, echoing in the growing shadows that signaled the end of the day. I froze in my tracks.
Common sense argued it must be a stray cat prowling around outside the tavern kitchen in the hopes of finding something to eat. Maybe a night bird stalking its prey. Or the clumsy steps of someone who couldn’t hold his liquor. That’s all.
What if it wasn’t any of those things?
My attempt to ignore it failed miserably. A million possibilities raced through my mind while I strained to listen.
The sound came again, closer this time. And loud enough to identify. Gravel crunching. Stealthy footsteps rapidly moving in my direction. Not an animal. Or some farmer stumbling around in the dark, trying to find his way home.
Probably the knight I’d seen at the tavern. Damn the luck! He must have recognized me and followed. I’d only wanted to sneak away from the castle for a little while. Get some fresh air. Have some down time.
Halfway through my first mug of ale, the knot of nerves in my stomach had relaxed, leaving me feeling almost normal. Until I glanced up to see a familiar face.
Deroc, the stocky young man with the loud voice wasn’t just an acquaintance. We had a history. While the other patrons might see nothing more than a squire with a few coins to spend, he’d see right through my disguise and know it was me.
Lady Erin, wife of Sir Griffin. And in this world, it wasn’t proper for someone like me to frequent taverns. Not alone and certainly not at night.
His arrival left me with no other choice but to slip out the back door and hurry back to the castle, praying he was too busy ogling the barmaids to pay close attention. He must have recognized me and followed.
When Deroc showed up, he’d insist on escorting me back to our quarters. If I refused, it would only make things worse. He’d go straight to Griffin and spill his guts.
Either way meant trouble. Might as well go back with him and face the music. It’s not like I had any other choice.
After waiting a few minutes, I began to wonder. Where was he? Why hadn’t he confronted me instead of lurking around in the shadows like some stalker? Was he trying to teach me a lesson?
Indignant, I whirled around and glared into the lengthening shadows. “If you’re trying to scare me, you might as well give it up. I know you’re there.”
“As you wish, my lady.” The harsh, raspy voice didn’t belong to Deroc. Or anyone else I knew.
Xander's Tangled Web (YA Fantasy)
From Now On (time travel, adventure, romance)
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
This weeks movie recommendations are in honor of Ray Bradbury and based on his books.
Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (film)
Vermont campfire recipe vtstateparks.com/assets/pdf/garlicky-beef-meatballs.pdf
Certainly looks yummy?
We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out. Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing
One of my favorite things to do, is sit around the fire. Whether it’s away in a campground, or at home in front the chiminea, some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame and sparks drifting up into the night sky joining the stars. The past couple of weeks we've been to local campgrounds as well as Camp May, NJ. Each place has it's own vibe. Some are quiet, some boisterous but each time someone new comes across out path. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open a campfire video and relax. I hope you enjoy meeting today's guest and our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Also, if you would like to keep up with Welcome to the Campfire and other information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Today I’m welcoming, Claire Gem author to the Around the Campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Depends on the time of day…can’t start the day as early as I do without coffee, and lots of it. But as the day wears on and I’ve drank my quota of water for the day (which I detest, because it’s boring but necessary), pop open that wine bottle!
Sounds like we'll get along quite well. Morning coffee is a must have. And a glass of wine to relax, especially around the fire, is sublime. So, let's pop a cork and have at it. Around the campfire we've talked to many folks with different camping stories. What's your tale? Good? Bad?
My husband and I went camping one time—ONE TIME—in our forty years of marriage. He got paid for some work he did with a tiny little tagalong camper. I was seven months pregnant with my daughter, and the camper wasn’t much bigger than a modest sized bathroom. The pipes leaked. There were holes in the screens, and we came back from fishing to a camper filled with mosquitoes! Needless to say, we haven’t camped like that again. The scenery, though, was amazing—it was in upstate New York, near Lake George. Lake G is still my favorite vacation spot, but now we “camp” at the Marriott . . .
I'm constantly shutting the screen door on our 5th Wheel. Bugs are a no-no. So, the Marriott it is. Well at least the view was good. Now, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest release is called Electricity, and it’s another in my Haunted Voices series. It’s not really a series, since each book is standalone and they aren’t related in any way other than genre, one I call supernatural romantic suspense.
Sounds intriguing. I read your Civil Hearts book and thoroughly enjoyed it so I can't wait to read Electricity. Do you have a tagline?
Contemporary, Romantic, Soul-Freeing. Welcome to Haunted Voices.
Come. Let me tell you a ghost story.
I love a ghost story, especially around the campfire. Thanks to my Kindle, I can read in the dark. If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition?
Electricity is set in an abandoned building that exists, to this day, on the campus where I work. It’s the only one that hasn’t either fallen down or been renovated. The property used to house a state mental asylum. As you might suspect, it’s pretty creepy, and I walk or drive by it every day. About four years ago I convinced an accommodating facilities manager to take me through the building. I’ll never quite forget the vibes. Some very disturbed souls lived and died there. I knew their story needed to be told. I didn’t begin the book until earlier this year and within 3 months, the first draft was complete.
How amazing. I worked in a prison for many years and if the walls could talk...And look at you, the walls did speak to you in some way. You have several books out now, can you tell us what challenges you face during writing? Maybe give helpful hint at what works for you?
My biggest challenge is one of my own making: I am a pantser. I don’t outline. As a result, I get an exciting idea and sit down to write the book, get about 1/3 of the way through, and then I’m lost. I’m slowly learning that although outlining a book is the quickest way to kill my creative muse, I now try to write a synopsis—including the ending. It’s a lot easier to stay on track when you know how the story ends.
What a great idea. For those who don't know what a pantser is, it's a fly by the seat of your pants technique. An author starts writing and let's the story flow from them. I may try the synopsis first. There's a bunch of ideas waiting for my attention that I'd like to get to. I know this is a new release for you but as a multi published author, I would wager you have something waiting in the wings.
I’m the same way! But I’ve been sidelined now for the past few months since I fell at work and suffered a badly broken arm—my right arm. I’m right-handed. I haven’t been able to type until very recently, and it’s harder now because of possible nerve damage. I was about 1/3 of the way through my next HV novel, TimePeace, when this happened. It’s going to take some discipline to go back now and read what I’ve written, from the beginning, so maybe I can pick up where I left off.
Oh, no. I'm so sorry. Arm and hand injuries are awful for anyone, but a an author, how devastating. We'll all pray and hope for a full recovery. Hmm, the title TimePeace is a great lead in to the next question. Let’s time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Don’t waste thousands of dollars earning an MFA! Sure, those three letters look nice behind my name, but really haven’t done much more for me. I learn the most from reading and listening to audiobooks, in my own genre and others. I read craft books. And I’m a professional reviewer for InD’Tale Magazine, which has really trained me how to analyze the books I read for review.
MFA is Master of Fine Arts. I'm a high school graduate. Everyday I learn more about the craft. I think you're right about reading the work of others helping. Also there are so many books to help. My latest favorite is The Emotion Thesaurus.
Okay, fun questions. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
I’m a cat lover and actually used to raise Persians for show. I don’t do that anymore, but I do have a lovely Persian kitten whose show career will start very soon. I love the cat shows. It’s low-key competition, and a great place to socialize. Out of town shows provide my husband and I with a mini-vacation.
"Meow," says my cat Baby to your's. I've seen cat shows on Animal Planet and wonder how the cats remain so calm. Sounds like fun and so interesting. 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?
Believe it or not, it would be Adiemus by Karl Jenkins. If you’re not familiar, look it up. I listened to and sang along with that song for over a year, thinking it was in Latin or some language I didn’t understand. Turns out, it’s not in any language at all! It’s a language Jenkins invented to move the spirit, which is does, without making any literal sense at all. Fascinating.
I you-tubed it. It is hauntingly beautiful. Music had the ability to change us at many levels. Lift us up. Give courage. Calm us. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
A toss-up between Black Beauty and the Little House on the Prairie series.
Hooray! Black Beauty is one of my favorites. I recently picked up an old copy in an antique store. The Little House books seem to be a favorite of many children. Both authors are amazing story tellers. Do you have a “Kodak Moment”?
I actually did catch it in a picture, which I’m attaching. It’s of my daughter and I (who is my bestest best friend) during a visit when we’d just come home from cruising the mall and were on our way out for a happy hour. Life just doesn’t get any better than it was that day.
It's a beautiful picture. You both look so happy. How wonderful to have your daughters support. Most writers need a support system. Tell us, are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
When I grow up I want to be able to write like Nora Roberts. Her Boonsboro Trilogy is my favorite romance series of all time.
I think, and I'm sure others will agree with me, you're doing fine. A few weeks ago I was close to Boonsboro on a camping trip. Nora is many authors idea of success and it leads to my final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Being able to stay home and write every day. I still hold a full-time job (at least, I did before I broke my arm!) and balancing work, a writing career, and family is challenging. If one of my books could someday show up on the NYT bestseller list, I will know I’ve “arrived.”
Well, Claire, maybe Electricity will be the book to take you there. Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I'm sure we all wish you a speedy recovery. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
She’s an electrician starting over with her son. New job. New town. New life.
He’s a coworker who’s interested in more than her ability to run conduit.
The building they’re rewiring was once an insane asylum…but it appears some of the patients never left.
Mercedes Donohue pulled up roots in Atlanta when her marriage imploded. She’s come back to New England, to the place where she was born. Mercy’s focus is to stabilize her teenage son’s life—he took the breakup pretty hard—and to establish her place, gain the respect of Progressive Electrical’s team.
She never expected so many sparks to fly so soon, both on the job and after hours.
Daniel Gallagher has been alone since his fiancé’s death. He’ll never feel that way about any woman again, and certainly won’t try with another independent, strong-willed one. Then Mercy short-circuits his plans.
Although the asylum closed its doors over thirty-five years ago, Mercy & Daniel quickly realize the abandoned building is very haunted.
If you like a heart-melting romance laced with healthy dose of supernatural thrills and chills, you’ll love Electricity.
Reagan tipped his head back towards Mercy in silent insolence, one eyebrow raised.
“I’ll be here to get you at ten. I have my cell phone if you need me. I don’t expect a hug, but ‘goodbye’ would be an unexpected gift.”
Reagan mumbled something that sounded vaguely like goodbye and slammed the door in Mercy’s face. No hug. She sighed, closed her eyes, and laid her forehead down atop the steering wheel. This was getting harder every day.
It was then her eyes flew open as she thought, cell phone. Where the hell did she leave it? She groped in the multiple pockets of the overalls that she hadn’t even bothered to change out of before going to dinner. She reached around for her purse, tucked behind her seat, the one she never carried to work. No phone.
Damn it, she thought. I’ve left it at the job.
Not that it was a big deal. The campus was only a mile away, and she knew security was on duty all night. All she had to do was stop in at their make-shift office in the little brown house, ask for access permission to Gravely Hall and find her phone. No big deal at all.
It was almost dark by the time she pulled up to the Campus Police building. The sleepy-looking young officer who accompanied her back out into the parking lot seemed almost grateful for the distraction. He tailed her car in his cruiser to Gravely Hall. Mercy followed him up onto the mildewed steps as he used a key from a huge metal ring to open the padlock.
“Do you have a flashlight, Miss?” The young patrolman stepped aside as the door opened, seeming reluctant to accompany Mercy into the old building. The long shadows of evening had already stamped the interior into dense gloom.
“Yeah, no problem,” she grinned at the greenhorn cop. “I’ll be back in just a minute.”
The musty smell and odd air quality seemed amplified in the growing darkness. Mercy strode confidently toward the broad staircase at the end of the great hall and snapped on the flashlight she always kept hooked to a loop on her overalls. She must have left her phone in the small anteroom, she thought. She must have laid it down after Reagan called her earlier that afternoon and failed to pick it up when she was packing up her tools.
Access to the lower level was at the far end of the great central room, and some pale light still slithered in through the greenish glass panes of the windows near the head of the stairs. As she descended the creaking boards, a smothering calm increasingly muffled all sound. Mercy felt an instinctive impulse to reach for a light switch, but of course, there was none, at least none in working order.
In the waning glow of daylight seeping in through the high basement windows, she could make out the shapes of the porcelain tubs, standing in a sentinel row. A damp shiver ran up and down her back. Mercy straightened her shoulders and cleared her throat.
I’ll just go directly into the anteroom where I’d been working, she thought, and retrieve my phone. Then I’m outta here.
She’d gotten to the open doorway of the small space when she heard the sound. A water sound, almost like waves lapping at the edge of a pool. Or on the sides of a bathtub: that soft sound of liquid kissing its solid prison walls. The tubs along the back wall weren’t even connected to a water source anymore. They’d been dry and littered with small chunks of dusty debris when she and Daniel worked around them earlier today. Some still wore their mildewed, leather coverings.
Mercy hurried directly toward the room she’d last worked in, her light flashing wildly through the mostly empty space. She aimed the beam into the gaping hole of the toilet, but it was as dry as it had been earlier in the day. Struggling to ignore the increasingly loud sloshing sound, reverberating now louder and louder all around her, she located the black wedge of her cell phone. It was lying abandoned on the concrete windowsill. She snatched it up, clutching it tight to her chest. The hard-plastic case felt reassuring in her grasp.
As she crossed the central room, the water sound echoed in the space around her, seeming to get louder with every step. Her heart hammered in her chest, and she quickened her pace. Almost there.
Resonating above the sloshing sounds, she could swear she’d heard her name. Mercy jolted to a stop and spun around. The sound had come from behind her, it seemed. Or had she imagined it?
It must be the security officer. He must be calling from the head of the stairs.
“Hello?” Mercy called out. Her voice reverberated so loudly it startled her. “I’ll be right up,” she called again, and flashed her light beam in a path straight toward the stairs.
The voice came again, louder now. Wheezing and feeble, it sounded like that of a very old man, or a very sick one. Had one of the homeless sought refuge here for the night? A jumble of thoughts tumbled through Mercy’s mind, panic obliterating the logical portion.
How would anyone even know her name?
A veil of clammy perspiration blanketed every inch of her skin. Dank basement air threatened to seep right through her. Clutching her phone to her chest, she jabbed the flashlight beam wildly with her other hand, back and forth across the wide expanse of the room. The ray glanced off the white porcelain shapes, transforming them into hulking ghosts standing in ominous formation.
“Who’s there?” she shrieked. Her voice echoed and bounced back to her in empty coldness.
This third time the voice was faint, fading, melting into the mysterious water sounds that ebbed like the receding of an ocean wave. Silence ballooned around her, black and deafening, enveloping all sound except for the wild pounding of her pulse in her ears. Mercy fought the panic rising into her throat and broke into a full run toward the steps. To the exit, where the officer was waiting for her. Toward safety.
She stumbled twice on the stairs, dropping to one knee the second time, her phone clattering from her grip. Mercy scratched frantically on the wood riser, scuffing her knuckles on the rough edge and driving splinters and grit under her nails as she snatched the instrument up. When she stepped at last onto the old tile of the ground floor, she took a deep breath and slowed her steps, basking in a wash of relief to see the shadowy silhouette of the security guard in the open doorway. His flashlight beam snapped across her face, blinding her.
“Everything all right, Miss?” The officer stood stiffly just outside the door of the building. It was almost as though he’d been afraid to step over the threshold.
“Yes. Yes, I’m fine.” Mercy’s voice was trembling, but she cleared her throat in an effort to hide her panic. “I found my phone. Thank you. Thank you for letting me in.”
You can buy Electricity here: amzn.to/2ZZ6JC5
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2nabvbm
Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO-vB7WDZhEQ8U4YpC937ng
This week's movie recommendations
In honor of cat buddies everywhere Aristocats.
And the tricky mother daughter relationship movie Terms of Endearment
Don't forget to check back next week where my guest is Viviana MacKade author of ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, CONTEMPORARY, AND FANTASY
We never know the love of the parent for the child till we become parents. Henry Ward Beecher
One of my favorite things to do, is sit around the fire. Whether it’s away in a campground, or at home in front the chiminea, some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame and sparks drifting up into the night sky joining the stars. So, wherever you’re joining us from, (sorry no video this week) I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Okay, without further delay…
Today I’m welcoming, Robert Heimall to the Around the Campfire. This interview will be a little different. Bob is a close friend and artist with an amazing story and book. His work is non-fiction. I think you will enjoy him and the remarkable world he shows us. So let’s get started with the important thing first. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa?
Coffee it is. Have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp. If so, tent, trailer, RV? Where? Did you like it? If not, and no judgment here, would you like to someday? Where? Bob I know you’re a beach person so I can move the fire to a beach setting.
No camping! In my book I recall living in a homemade camper in Mexico for 4 months. Never again – Lord willing.
LOL! Seems people either love or hate camping. There is no middle ground from what I'm finding out. So, tell us about your project. What’s the title?
Cover Stories: “Tales of rock legends and the albums that made them famous”
It's a beautiful book and getting great reviews. I know this has been a long work of love for you can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition?
On a short-term mission trip to Dominican Republic 10 years ago, I met a lady from Atlanta GA who was a literary agent. I gave my testimony of “sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll” and conversion to Christ at a breakfast during our group’s morning devotional time. Later while at the work-site we both discussed my idea of writing my memoirs from the record business and how I eventually became a missionary.
Bob does what we call short-term missions. He is was also part of the missions committee at our church. Tell us about the challenges you've faced during the development and even now post publication. How did you get through it?
My biggest challenge was revealing some very dark episodes of my life during 60’s – 70’s while still maintaining my “Christian Witness’ and how those things might affect my wife and kids and church and mission. One of the main things that made it a 10 year long project was trying to get copyright clearances for record companies that no longer existed and were part of big corporate conglomerations now. I tried through attorneys (fees $$$) email, phone calls, etc. etc. and it literally took me 3-4 years AFTER I finished MY writing! When I finally got the OK to print, I had to go back and update some stories due to the passing of some of the artists and newly acquired relationships with others.
Everyone has those dark episodes. It takes courage and conviction to bare yourself to others. I know getting permissions is tough. My book in development had named some songs, my editor had me take them out. So a word of warning, be careful authors. Let’s time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Yes, 10 years ago when my agent sent the book proposal to many top publishing houses, we were told “Coffee Table Books were no longer selling! They loved the concept but wouldn’t sign me for that type of publication. Since 90% old the book was full color art of my album covers, I did not accept that verdict and kept trying for 3-4 years through different agents, ghost writers and self publishers ($$$)
Patience and Perseverance are a recurring theme with all the authors I've interviewed. You have to stick with it. Don't give up. Good for you. Writing isn't your only thing though. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Oil painting. Photography. Sitting on the beach. Surfing
I've seen and love your pictures especially of the Jersey Shore. Can you describe yourself in three words?
Creative. Narcissistic. Spiritual.
Interesting mix. I get the first and last but I do suppose to be an artist and a creative person a bit or narcissism is needed. Do you have a tattoo or special piece of jewelry?
Sharks tooth and coral beaded necklaces I wore 60’s 70’s. No tattoos.
What is your “Kodak Moment.”
Haitian Rescue Mission 2010 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti at Temporary rescue Hospital set up to treat victims. I was photographing everything that went on and will never get those images out of my mind. (amputations, chests cut open, etc, etc. it's difficult to look at the photos I took)
The other Kodak moment was a positive: sitting on sunken floor sofa in penthouse of NYC Hilton hotel drinking and passing a joint with Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendriz and Janis Joplin sitting next to me. Thinking I finally had ARRIVED (made it to the big time!)
Wow! What amazing talents they were. One of my favorite movies had a line about a candle that burns twice as brightly...It reminds me of those artists. Most writers need support. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what were childhood books you loved?
My main mentors were Impressionistic artists: Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet. The FAVORITE writer I love since I started reading a lot 40 years ago is James Lee Burke. His writing is literally visual to me. No one “paints a picture” or “an atmosphere” better in my opinion I make it a point to read every one of his books.
Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Certainly not book sales, though they would be very much appreciated in my semi-retirement. my love of Art and early art lessons and great teachers/mentors in High School gave me the tools I needed to succeed! I did not like or take college prep courses like algebra, geometry, etc. I loved art, metal shop wood shop and auto shop, all classes that promoted and trained for the “Trades”. My highlight: That with God’s help I was able to earn a living with 2 successful careers in Art and Softball both of my passions (without a college education/degree)
Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today, Bob. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub. In your case what does the back cover or inside flap say. Do you have an exert from your work. Any reviews I can post. Any testimonials about the book. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
8 customer reviews 4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
4 star4 star (0%)0%
2 star2 star (0%)0%
1 star1 star (0%)0%
FB: Robert L. Heimall
This weeks movie recommendations are in about Rock Stars
Bohemian Rhapsody with Rami Malek is a newer movie I thought amazing.
The Rose with Bette Midler.
Recipe for the week.
I made this in a Dutch Oven over the campfire
Don't forget to join me next week where my guest is Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Time Travel with Romance Author, Susan Royal.
Rock and roll music, if you like it, if you feel it, you can't help but move to it. That's what happens to me. I can't help it.
ELVIS PRESLEY, attributed, The Book of Rock Lists
September and October are busy months for me. Almost every weekend is booked. We just returned form camping in Hagerstown, Maryland and Lancaster Pennsylvania. I'll post some pictures in the about me section. Both places have amazing historical significance. I'm also gearing up to go to the NJ Romance Writers annual conference in October.
If you've been following the blog, one of my favorite things to do, is sit around the fire. Camping increases every year. I think people are looking for a place to rest, recover, and restore family balance. According to koa.com of who I'm a member, new records are being reached. Since I can't take you all with me, I'm bringing a part of it to you. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open a campfire video and relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Now, enough about me. Today I’m welcoming, Emily Heebner author to the Around the Campfire. I love Up-State NY. The wine trails, the mountains, the people, so Seneca Lake is on my growing to-be-read list. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Tea, please. English Breakfast with a splash o' milk.
Ah, another tea drinker. Did you know it's estimated that 25,000 cups of tea are drank every second? My favorites are Earl and Lady Grey. So, Emily, now that we're settled tell me, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
We used to tent camp in Idyllwild when our son was growing up. One year we were up on Black Mountain, very remote. We all gave my husband a hard time about the solar shower he'd brought along. It was a plastic bag that could hold five gallons of water and hang from a tree. After three days in the wilderness, that solar shower felt fabulous! I'd rough-camped before as a college student with my dad and sisters in the Adirondacks, so gorgeous. And as a teen with my friend's church group. We slept under tarps and got rained on. A real mess but it was summer and we were young. We had a blast.
Lol, you don't appreciate the value of a shower until you can't get one. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time. I googled both www.idyllwild.com/ and the Black Mountains; there are a few by that name and all breathtaking. North America has so much to see and experience. So, tell us about your latest project.
Seneca Lake is a YA historical romance novel, just released by The Wild Rose Press. It's my first published book so I'm thrilled. The story involves high school senior Meg Michaels who falls in love with a Seneca Indian farmer. But her grandparents want her to marry into a wealthy family. I researched the bigotry against Native Americans in upstate New York for the story. Local people really did look down on the Senecas and farm workers who were exempted from military duty during WWII. I have family in the region, and have always known that the Iroquois were forced to relocate as far back as the Revolutionary War. After WWII they were pushed around again with the building of highways, parks and dams.
The history of the world is rife with the evil we do to each other. I believe as writers we have a huge responsibility to shine the light onto it, and as much as it is in our power, to do something about it. Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” "Sorry," I say leaping from my soap box. Okay so enough serious stuff... Do you have a tagline?
Should Meg choose the attentions of a wealthy GI or defy her family and follow her heart?
You think it would be an easy choice, but things often aren't that simple. It will be interesting to follow her decision making. How she balances the two. One of the most asked question for me. Is when is your book coming out? Even I didn't understand the time frame of publishing. How long has your journey been?
It took about two years to finish writing the book.
Good for you. That may seem long to some, but actually it's quite reasonable in the book world. What challenges have you faced during writing? How did you get through it?
Marketing has been a steep learning curve. I actually hired a marvelous marketing student to get me started with my website and Facebook. Time is the other challenge. Because I teach, it's tough to find long, focused blocks of time. It seems I finally get on a roll writing and it's time to stop and go to work. But I also believe that limitations can be helpful to creativity. The fact that I know I have to stop at a certain time pushes me to get words down on the page. Another help is working with a good writing group. Needing pages to show strong writer/readers every two weeks really pushes me get the work done.
What a fabulous idea! Marketing students. I'll be calling the local community college this week. Thank you for that gem. A lot of authors have many projects at different stages. How about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Absolutely. I plan to write the sequel to Seneca Lake which is currently in the planning stages. I absolutely love the research phase! I'm also working on a New Adult romance novel that takes place during the AIDS epidemic, a story I began writing prior to Seneca Lake. Coming back to it fresh is exciting. I see new possibilities.
Many times as authors we look to the past for inspiration then into the future for hope. Let’s time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Honestly, I wish I'd listened to my high school English teacher Mr. Blaisdell and Professor Lamar Herrin who both encouraged me to pursue creative writing over theatre. I wound up seduced by the romantic, social, athletic aspects of acting. But I think a life in writing and English departments might have suited me better. Especially as a parent, writing is something you can fit in at any hour or any place. Whereas theatre locks you into an evenings/weekends performance schedule when the rest of the world is home.
Live and learn, right. But youth is the time to experiment and take risks. Look where you are now. A published author with multiple worlds to revisit for inspiration. So, we know that your a writer and a mom. Who else is Emily when you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Reading, walking in the woods, swimming, museum crawls, spending time with family and friends.
Can you describe yourself in three words?
Engaged, proactive, motivated.
Those are great attributes. Not only for a writer but for a person. Do you have a tattoo or special piece of jewelry? What is it and can you tell us the meaning behind it?
My wedding ring is my husband's great grandmother's gold band, on his dad's side. I love the throughline of that, the continuity of the family line. My father-in-law passed away in April, so the ring is more dear to us than ever.
I'm sorry for your loss. What a special connection you have though. Speaking of special connections, what is your “Kodak Moment.” A time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget.
My mother pinning me at our sorority initiation. She had been in that same sorority at the very house where we both ended up living during our college years at Cornell. It was a total surprise. I had no idea she'd be there and do that, all dressed in white. She died early at age 59, so the initiation was a metaphoric and metaphysical moment. I think of her so often and usually it's the picture of her at that exact moment.
Another loss, I'm so sorry. But the memory is amazing. Mothers have a special way of surprising us. Supporting us. That leads to the next question. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what were childhood books you loved?
So many. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, whose workshop at a library in Glendale brought me back to writing seriously. Lollie Ragana at UCLA Extension. Bernadette Murphy, Sharman Russell, Jackie Stallcup, Rick Mitchell, Kate Haake. Lincoln Blaisdell, Dan McCall, Robert Morgan, Lamar Herrin, Bill Trzeciak.
Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
When a reader is moved, truly engaged, or even challenged by something I've written, that's success for me. In terms of publishing, I'm excited to continue learning and growing. It's amazing to have an audience of readers I've never met before. A great joy. Connecting online with readers or at author events is absolutely rewarding and feels like "success."
Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today, Emily. I would appreciate you leaving us a blurb and excerpt from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
1944 and high school senior Meg Michaels has always obeyed her grandparents' wishes, till now. They're urging her to give up her dream of Cornell University and accept a ring from wealthy Hank Wickham before he deploys overseas. But Meg has studied hard and yearns for something better than life in the rural Finger Lakes. Plus Meg's suddenly fascinated with her childhood friend, Arthur Young, a handsome Seneca Indian farm worker. When Meg and Arthur nurse a sick puppy to health, their friendship transforms into love. But locals look down on "injuns" and resent the fact that Arthur's farm job exempts him from military duty. While the war rages in Europe, Meg and Arthur must fight their own battles at home…
The sky was a silent, black dome specked with glitter and shredded clouds. Arthur stood at the top of the road that led downhill to the lake. His hands were thrust inside his pants pockets. Li’l Pete ran back and forth, sniffing dried weeds in the snow. Meg guessed Arthur’d been watching from the upper barn window for Gramps’ truck to arrive back from Aunt Lizzie’s. His leather collar was turned up under his loose hair. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, as if to send stray hairs away from his mouth and eyes. “Happy Harvest Festival,” she told him, rising on her toes to give him a quick kiss on the lips. The taste of his toothpaste made her wish she’d brushed her teeth, too. She felt the warm breath from his nose. “Pumpkin pie, hey?” They giggled. “I saved you one of my apples. The crusts came out just right this year.” She draped Ron’s skates over his shoulder while Li’l Pete pranced in circles around their boots. When he pawed her leg, she reached down to scratch him behind the ears. “Where’s Greta?” “Ate too much, is what she said. I think she thinks it’s too cold out.” He winked. “You aim to catch me when I fall?” “It’s easy, really.” They crossed their arms behind each other’s back, hugging the waist to set up resistance against the sloped, icy road. “It’s like dancing except you cut into the ice with your blades.” Li’l Pete trotted along beside them but slipped on his bottom. He scrambled to stand, but all four legs slid out again and he lay splayed on his belly on the road. Arthur laughed and picked him up and carried him on his hip. “Let’s go, big fella. If we fall and crack the lake, she’ll get mad, you know, and swallow us whole.” He shook his hair again and looked over at Meg. “Then we’ll turn into lake trout. If you catch us one day, you might eat us for supper and not know it.” From out of the fields below, a pickup truck bumped and skidded onto the road, flashing its lights and weaving back and forth up the hill. Arthur and Meg quickly jogged out of the way, into the snowy field. Laughter squealed from the back of Al Wickham’s pickup. The horn honked again and again. “Out of the road, Injun! This ain’t your country! Chicken liver deadbeat!” An empty beer bottle flew out from the back of the flatbed. Arthur ducked in time for it to miss his head. Li’l Pete snarled and barked as the truck swerved on the ice, then shifted to a lower gear and lumbered to the top of the hill.
Movie Recommendations in honor of Up-State NY
About 3 hours from Seneca Lake is
Ballston Spa, NY. A famous scene from The Way We Were was filmed there.
Emma Willard School in Troy NY familiar to those who enjoyed Scent of a Woman.
I scanned the internet looking for a recipe for something NY State and campfire friendly how about NY Salted Potatoes. www.allrecipes.com/recipe/141785/syracuse-salt-potatoes/
Y'all can boil water so we're good to go.
"Love yourself and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done." Lucille Ball. Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy in her hometown of Jamestown, N.Y. Guess what 3 hours from Seneca Lake. LOL.
And now for someone completely different... Robert Heimall is an artist, writer, producer and all around good guy. We met many years ago and worked together through our church in the mission field. Recently he has a book published from his time as an artist at Arista Records. Oh, the things he's seen and the people he knows. His is a spiritual journey as well as professional. Don't miss this one folks.