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. Though our RV is winterized for the season, we still enjoy a fire in our chiminea. Last weekend we even had guests over for a Driveway Camp. So, wherever you’re joining us from, pour your favorite beverage 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.
Today I’m welcoming, Karen Hulene Bartell, fellow Wild Rose Press author. Grab a camp chair here's a blanket for the chilly November day. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
A Cab would be lovely, Donna. Thanks!
A glass of red wine around a campfire is one of my favorite things. But I may have a pinot noir. Cheers! Have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
No, never. One week, when I was thirteen, my parents took me camping. I slept in a sleeping bag on the ground (in Mississippi in July) and hated it. Previously unknown (seemingly gargantuan) insects crawled all over me. I swore I’d never go camping again – but sitting around a campfire, sipping wine, chatting with you before checking into a hotel with a hot tub, fluffy towels, and clean sheets is wonderful. Thank you for inviting me!
Oh no, that's awful. Bugs are one of the reasons this girl no longer sleeps outside. And in Mississippi-no way. Though I will tell you once when I was about 12 yo, my friends and I did that in a NJ field and the next morning my face was one giant mosquito bite. Thank goodness there's no bugs around our virtual fire. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest release through The Wild Rose Press is The Keys: Voice of the Turtle, a paranormal fantasy, replete with two ghosts and love the second time around.
I love a ghost story. Those are especially made for around the campfire. Can you put the novel into one sentence?
I sure can. Sail through time as you discover buried treasure and solve a 400-year-old mystery!
One of the most asked questions for me is-How long before the book comes out? Readers and new authors are often surprised at the timeline.
Yes, that is a good question because of the many variables involved with writing and publishing. January 2017 is the earliest date I find for my notes, which is the first step of my writing process. The release date for The Keys: Voice of the Turtle was August 2019 – so it took me nineteen months from start to finish.
That is a chunk of time. Dedication and perseverance, as well as imagination are essential parts of an authors internal makeup. What challenges have you faced during writing?
Marketing has always posed the greatest challenge to me. I just “push through” it, that is, force myself to do it. It’s akin to choking down medicine.
For those unaware, most authors even with a publishing house behind them are responsible for much of the marketing burden. Publishers assist, guide, and help, but mostly its up to you. This is especially hard for independent or self-publishing. Karen and I have Wild Rose Press behind us and they are amazing at teaching and pointing us in the right direction. Remember, one of the best things you can do to help an author is if you enjoy their book, give it a review. A few well chosen word make a big impact. So, Karen, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Yes, I’ve been editing my next release through The Wild Rose Press, entitled Wild Rose Pass, a frontier romance. I’ve also been writing an urban paranormal entitled, Kyoto, Voice of the Turtle, and I just came back from a trip, which has set my imagination on fire that I’m “itching to get to.”
That's exciting! I bet many of your readers are rubbing their hands in anticipation. Now, let’s step into D. V.'s Portal to the Past, (I just made that up. Do you like it?) is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Write every day. Besides instilling good habits, it keeps the story-line going in your imagination even when you’re not writing. Some of my best ideas come to me when I wake, which leads me to believe my mind has been working on the plot while I’ve slept.
Great advice. Some writers keep a tablet by the bedside to jot down ideas they awake with. I was in a seminar recently that talked about writing everyday even if it's jotting down ideas in your phone while waiting for an appointment or in line at the store. I wrote a song once while cashiering at a job between customers on a slow day. Okay, fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions? Or do you have any pets?
I love to travel─try new things, eat local (but different) foods, and meet interesting people. My husband and I have three rescued cats and a rescued CAT-ahoula Leopard dog.
I think that's what I enjoy about camping so much. We've met amazing people in our travels. Oh, and my rescues Baby and Hali say meow and woof respectively to yours. 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?
Land of Milk and Honey
I looked it up. Eddie Fisher 1962. youtu.be/JEujRoTXAZk What a joyful and uplifting song. Great choice. Karen, most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Ooh, I love Aesop's Fables. I'm going to have to read them again. My favorite is The Wind and the Sun. I wonder what other people have as favorites from the fables? Next question, what's the last movie that made you cry?
Hmmm…guess I don’t cry during movies. Only music can make me cry.
Someone playing the violin can bring me to tears. What is your “Kodak Moment”? It’s a time you catch in a picture and never want to forget.
I have many such moments─a mental album full─but the most recent was an autumnal scene driving through Minnesota. Its background was vermilion maple trees, their leaves lit as if on fire by a setting sun, and its a foreground was hundreds of plump, orange pumpkins waiting impatiently in the field for Halloween.
Sounds idyllic, and if I didn't know you were an author I'd be able to tell from your description. I lived for several years in Brainerd MN. It's beautiful country. Most writers need support. Is there anyone you would like to give a shout-out to?
My husband is and has always been my greatest supporter.
I hear you. My DH is my rock and biggest supporter. Former Malawi president Joyce Banda once said My dear husband has been the driving force behind my success and rise to whatever level I am now. My story and legacy is incomplete without his mention. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success would be the complete financial freedom to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. Wanderlust is in my soul 😉
Karen, thank you so much 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.
Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today. I’ve enjoyed our little chat!
Oh, before I forget Karen has given us a great recipe. Keep scrolling down for Keya’s Conch Chowder Recipe it sounds amazing
The Keys: Voice of the Turtle by Karen Hulene Bartell
Hours after arriving in the Florida Keys to help her cousin Keya create a turtle preserve, Ruth discovers a washed-up body and not one, but two apparitions—Maita, the angry victim's spirit, and Bart, a swashbuckling ghost. Ruth's curious ability to connect with the ghosts may help them move on, but how?
Keya is in a probate battle over her turtle-nesting beach. Land-hungry relatives want it bulldozed and developed. Like Ruth, she has a special gift—she can talk to animals. Between Ruth's help and Keya's unique ability, they work to save the property, but is it too late?
Can Keya save her beloved turtles? Can Ruth find Maita's murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? There's more than meets the eye to Keya's land. Add in a dashing sailor who believes in her, and Keya may have more than she bargained for…
Conveying this land to the turtles would be my way of leaving the world a better place.” She turned toward Ruth. “Does that make sense?”
Ruth nodded and gazed at Keya as if for the first time. Her cousin’s intentions were clear. “But legally, how can you will the property to the turtles?”
“Easy. I leave it to the Turtle Refuge.” Keya laughed inwardly as they meandered along the beach. “And this is where you come in. When you’re writing the brochure, add a few paragraphs about planned giving and charitable bequests…” Her words broke off as Keya stared as if in a trance.
Ruth looked at her. “What’s wrong?”
Her hand shaking, Keya pointed to a shady patch of beach half hidden by sand dunes. A lifeless hand lay tangled in seaweed, its fingernails broken and bloodied.
Racing behind the sandbanks to help, Ruth skidded to a halt, her heels digging into the sand. A woman’s bloated body lay staring at the sun, her eyes opaque and unseeing. “Do you recognize her?”
“No.” Keya shook her head as the cat gingerly approached, sniffing and meowing. But Earnestine said she smells familiar.”
“Knock, knock,” called a man’s voice.
Ruth flinched. “Who’s there?”
Saturday's fun stuff
Keya’s Conch Chowder Recipe
3 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
4 large tomatoes, diced
½ teaspoon of ground allspice
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme, minced
1 (16-ounce) can clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 quart vegetable broth or water
1 medium potato, diced
1 pound fresh conch meat, cleaned and chopped
½ cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 fresh lime
6-8 sprigs of parsley, minced
Using a large stock pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until browned, about five minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat.
Add the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers and stirring occasionally, sauté over medium-high heat until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the Cayenne and garlic and sauté for about a minute.
Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the clam juice, lemon juice, water, and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil.
Place the allspice, bay leaves, and thyme in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie closed with string. Place in the spice packet in the soup, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
Sir in the conch and white wine and cook over medium heat until the meat is tender, about another 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the spice packet.
Add the lime juice and parsley, stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve hot! Yields 6 to 8 servings.
D. V.'s movie recommendations for this week
You can't talk about the movies and the Florida without
1948's Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall.
Even though not in the Keys, how about...
1985's COCOON with an amazing cast including Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch, and Linda Harrison.
Don't forget to stop by next week when Welcome to the Campfire will be hosting Valerie Ullmer
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 relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below.
If you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter
Today I’m welcoming author Ann Everett to the campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Since I’m a southern girl so it has to be sweet tea. However, on a cozy night, cocoa is yummy.
I have recently been introduced to the lovely beverage, so guess what? I have it. Now on to camping.Did you ever tackle the great outdoors over night?
When my children were young, once a year, we’d travel to my uncle’s cabin at Toledo Bend Reservoir located on the Sabine River between Louisiana and Texas, for a family reunion. The summer that stands out in my mind is the night we were sleeping outside in a tent with our two kids and five of their cousins. About 3 AM, it came what we like to call…a frog strangler. It rained so hard water gushed into the tent. Talk about an evacuation!!! We grabbed bedding and kids and made a run for cover! By the time we made it to the porch, we were all soaked. What a fun time!! If we’d had cell phones back then, I’m sure someone would have recorded it because it was like a scene out of a summer camp movie!
Hah, I never heard that expression, frog strangler. That's hysterical. I love, when what some people would call a camping disaster, turned into such a great experience. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I write steamy romance and romantic mysteries. For years, members of my local critique group asked me to publish versions without the steam. For the past year, I’ve been working on that. I just released the first ‘clean’ version of my romantic mystery series, with the second re-release due for publication November 1. I also released a new steamy romance, along with a ‘clean’ version of it. I write under two pen-names. Ann Everett writes the steam. Emma Ames writes the clean!
It's so nice you are diverse. Some like it hot while other don't. Good for you giving options to readers. Do you have a tagline?
It used to be— Sass, Sizzle, Suspense—Texas-style.
However, when I had my website redone, I didn’t include that. I do still use it in other places so I should probably have my web person put it back. LOL.
You should. It's very catchy. One of the questions and often comments is about how long the process is for a writer. Some are quite prolific while others like me not so much. What about you?
Generally, it takes me a year from conception to publication. I’m not a fast writer. How I wish I was! Even the re-write of the romantic mystery I mentioned took me 6-7 months, and the story was already written!! I just had to re-edit, get a new cover, title, and format it.
What challenges have you faced during writing. I.e. Writers block, editing, marketing, time. How did you get through it?
I suffer from all of the above! I don’t call it writer’s block. I call it laziness. Some days, I just can’t make myself sit at the computer. However, even though I’m not typing, I am thinking about the plot, scenes, dialogue, etc.
Marketing is hard because it continues to change. What worked for me ten years ago, no longer works today. Just keeping up with the trends is a big job.
Editing is a pain. I belong to an online critique site where I post all of my first drafts. Once I finish a book, I take all the critique I’ve gotten from members there, and that helps me whip the book into shape concerning plot and logic. I usually have 10-12 readers who read the story from start to finish, so their input is super helpful. Once I incorporate all of those changes, then I run the manuscript through several editing programs, after that, a read-aloud program. Once all of that is done, it’s ready for a real editor. Luckily, by that time, the MS is in pretty good shape, other than minor grammar and punctuation issues.
I don't know if it's laziness. There's some days the muse just need off. And you're right about marketing. So much information seems overwhelming and finding the one that works is a daunting task. Speak about daunting your editing process is amazing. Are there any other projects you’re itching to get to?
As mentioned before, I’ve just finished one rewrite project, one new book, and now I’m working on the second rewrite. I also have a new story percolating in my head. I hope to start it soon.
I don’t normally work on more than one project at a time, however, this year, I’ve really taken on more than I should. Along with writing a new book, and rewriting one, I’m also judging a short story contest for a major website. Plus, I’m usually critiquing at least 6-10 books on The Next Big Writer, and I work part-time. That’s a lot for me!
Holy Mackerel! Maybe you should replace the sweet tea with espresso.😉 I'm opening the door to D. V.'s time machine. Hop in and let’s time-travel. Any advice, encouragement, or warnings you would tell your beginning self?
Believe in yourself more. Start writing at a younger age.
Perfect. I saw a sign in our local park the other day which said "Always be a yet." I'll post the picture below the interview. Okay, now for some fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
I like DIY projects, decorating, and baking. I also read and critique a TON of books, mostly unpublished.
DIY, how fun. My DH and I love to find stuff and turn trash to treasure. To give something a new identity which brings me to the next question If your were a superhero who would you be? It could be existing or you make up. Why?
Is the invisible Man a superhero? I’m not sure, but I’d love to be invisible…oh, the research I could get!!
Sure, you naughty woman. If you use your power for good. Lol. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
I didn’t read much when I was young. I grew up in a town with only 300 people and we didn’t have access to books when school wasn’t in session. And when it was, most of what I read was assigned reading. As a kid, I read a lot of biographies like Albert Schweitzer. Boring—right? I did read Nancy Drew mysteries, so I’d have to say they were my favorites.
I don't know what I would have done without my books growing up. But it sure looks like you're making up for it now. What is your favorite T-shirt or Meme?
Any sarcastic meme is a winner with me!
I speak fluent sarcasm as my 2nd language. Most writers need support. Are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
I highly recommend joining a local critique group or an online site. I belong to https://www.thenextbigwriter.com They also have a sister site, https://www.booksie.com for younger writers. Those on The Next Big Writer are more mature, and I think more serious about their writing. The members there are fantastic. I’m also a member of a local group. I love readers who don’t pull any punches, and tell me when something I write is good—or total crap.
I'm going to check the sites out. It's important to have honest and constructive critiques. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
The thought of having my stories—my words—still in the world long after I’m gone gives me a sense of peace. That means a great deal to me, so I suppose being remembered is my definition of success even if it’s only by my 17 fans!! LOL.
Anne, Thank you so much 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.
Also, Ann gave us a recipe today so after the book information don't forget to scroll further for
Oh So Sweet Green Beans
Swan, a Bluebird, Texas Romance
A small-town girl rising to fame.
Swan Malone never imagined leaving Bluebird, Texas, but when her college cheerleading gig leads to fame, and her first film becomes the top-grossing movie of the year, she realizes dreams really do come true. However, not everything in her life is as good as a fairytale.
A soldier barely hanging on.
Nothing could have prepared Army Sergeant Teague Shanahan for what he endured while held hostage in enemy hands. Battered and scarred, he returns home hoping to put his life back together but finds he’s still a prisoner of his past—too broken to be fixed, even by the woman he loves.
Welcome to Bluebird, Texas
Where a girl with stars in her eyes fights to save a man with demons in his soul.
HOT or NOT
Swan, a Bluebird, Texas Romance is a steamy contemporary romance. (HOT) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1689130423
No Good Without You, a Sparrow, Texas Romance is the same story without the steam. (NOT)
Chase dropped his suitcase, wrapped Swan in a bear hug, and spun her around. “Is that any way to greet your favorite leading man?”
“Put me down.”
He released her. “Oh, come on, you know you’re glad to see me.”
Swan peered outside, scanned for reporters, and slammed the door. “How’d you find me?”
“Tracked your phone.”
“White pages app. Tracks anyone’s location.”
“Thanks a lot. You brought the paparazzi to town. My mom called and said her street’s packed with photographers.”
“Sorry. That’s why they’re there instead of here. I lost them when I arrived in Dallas. Found a fan to take me to rent a car.” He eyed Tiffany and stuck out his hand. “Hi, I’m Chase Collins, Swan’s co-star and fake lover. Although I’d be happy to make it real. All she has to do is say the word.”
“Tiffany Harper. You’re even more gorgeous in person.”
Had Chase grinned any bigger, his face would’ve split. “Thank you, Tiffany.”
She pursed her lips. “Prime coyote.”
“Thanks again,” he said.
Swan frowned. “Not a compliment.”
“Pretty sure it is. She thinks I’m clever. You know. Wily. Like Wile E. Coyote. Right, Tiff?”
“Oh, good grief.” Swan wanted to knock the smirk off his face. “He only thought he was clever. Road Runner outsmarted him every time. Remember?”
“Wile was playing straight man to Road. It’s called acting.”
“Oh, dear Lord. I give up. Again, why’re you here, Chase?”
“I missed you.” He looped an arm around her shoulders. “Besides, you’ve talked about your family so much. I wanted to meet them.”
Swan drew a deep breath and reminded herself he was all alone. She shrugged away. Guilt stabbed her gut. So, he’d stay a day or two. What was the big deal? Maybe he’d be a nice distraction for Tiffany. Give her a chance to hone her new coyote detection skills.
“You can stay a couple of days, but if we’re in public, none of the kissy-kissy, smoochy-smoochy stuff. Got it?”
“Got it. No PDA, but in private…” He puckered and came at her with fish kisses.
She pressed one palm over his mouth, and the other against his chest. “Behave or leave.”
He removed her hand and kissed it. “I’ll be nice. Just having a little fun. It was a long drive. I’m starving. Have anything to eat? Oh, and where do you want my luggage?”
Swan threw her hands in the air. “Whoa! You’re not staying here. We have a nice little motel down the road, and they always have a vacancy unless it’s during the Bluebird Festival.”
“I want to come back for that. Sounds like fun. But for this trip, I have to stay here. You already said your mom’s house is staked out. We can’t go there, and the motel will be the second place they look.” He gave the room a once-over. “Looks like Tiff has plenty of room. What is this, a 3/2? We’ll each have a bedroom. You’ll never know I’m here.”
He sauntered to the back door like he owned the place, and Swan tamped down the urge to trip him—or hit him with a skillet. She hated he was right. No way she could go to Mom’s. His voice brought her back from plotting his murder.
“Nice backyard, Tiff. Own a dog? You should. Plenty of room for him to run.”
“I’m making plans for that area,” Swan said.
He puffed out his chest. “Let me guess. Break out the grill for some Texas BBQ. Right?”
“Not exactly. My plan includes you—and a shovel.”
Tiffany giggled, and Swan loved the sound. It was the first time her friend had smiled since Thacker’s text.
“Oh, Swanee, you’re so funny. You know you love me,” Chase said.
He was right. Everybody loved Chase because underneath his cocky, flirtatious attitude, beat the heart of an orphan man-child still looking for affection and acceptance. “You aggravate me, Chase. This house is only a 2/2. I’m in one bedroom, and Tiffany is in the other. So, guess where you’re sleeping?”
He swung his attention back and forth between the two women, then settled on Swan. “I prefer to sleep with you because we’ve already been intimate.”
Swan didn’t know who looked more surprised, Tiffany or her. “We have NOT been intimate!”
“Yeah, we have. We’ve French kissed, and that’s much more intimate than sex because it allows both partners to penetrate at the same time.”
Swan clamped her hands over her ears. “Don’t say that word! There was no mutual invasion. Your tongue was the only attacker, and that was during a movie scene, which if you recall had to be redone, because you weren’t supposed to use your tongue.”
“What word? Penetration?”
“La-la-la-la-la. I can’t hear you.”
Chase doubled over laughing. “See, this is why I’ve missed you so much, Swanee. You make me happy.” He grasped her wrists and pulled her hands away. “I won’t say it anymore. Let’s eat. Sleeping arrangements to be decided later.”
Check out Ann's other books and keep up with her at any or all of the following places.
Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/author/ann.everett
Goodreads profile https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5195211.Ann_Everett
Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-everett
This is a quick and easy, somewhat fancy tasting side dish if you’re grilling steaks or any other meat around the campfire. I’ve never found a kid who doesn’t like them.
Oh So Sweet Green Beans
Dice 4 slices of bacon and brown in a Dutch oven or heavy pot, then drain the grease.
Add 2 undrained 14.5-ounce cans of green beans, whole or sliced
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer until hot through and through. Usually takes about 15 minutes.
Today instead of a movie recommendation here's the sign from the park.
Next week Karen Hulene Bartell, author of The Keys, will be joining me around the Campfire.