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. This is the time of year when you walk outside it's crisp, and the smell of smoke from fireplaces invite you to stay out as long as possible. Then, inside at night, curl up with a good book, a soft blanket, and a warm cup of something. 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 fellow Wild Rose Press author ML Erdahl to the Around the Campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Like any true Seattlite, the answer is coffee. Our town runs on it. However, a glass of wine or herbal tea at night always goes down well.
Coffee it is. I don't start my day without it. Seattle is one of the pins on my map of places to visit so maybe I'll fit right in. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I’ve done overnight backpacking in national forests and parks, tent camped all over the entire western United Sates, and done some glamping in my parents fifth wheel. This outdoor life was the inspiration for my main character’s job as a wilderness guide.
It's amazing the beauty of heading out into the country and seeing all she has to offer. I'm East Coast and soon be heading west. How great it is you can take your life experience and it inspires your writingt project. What’s the title and genre?
My new release is a cozy mystery, “Winter Takes All.” A murder ruins wilderness guide Crystal Rainey’s first snowshoe hike, endangering her new dream job and budding romance with her fellow guide, Conner Oakes.
Sounds exciting! I had to look up cozy mystery. From what I understand they are fun, often humorous, mysteries that downplay violence. Usually, about a woman gets caught up in a situation and ends up puzzle solving. Do you have a tagline?
So many suspects, so little time.
I love it. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Oh, wow. I had the beginning of the story shoved in a drawer, but once I got serious about finishing it, the whole process took three long years to publication.
Readers and new writers often don't understand how long it can take. What are your challenges as a writer. Did you ever hit the place where you threw your arm up in the air and said nope this is not going to work? If so, how did you get past it?
Countless times have I done just that (Designing my web page comes to mind!). There are so many unfamiliar paths that I didn’t know I’d be taking when I started this process. Not only am I an author, but I’m a web page developer, a marketer, and an editor. To get past it, I have to go through several phases. After I throw what my wife likes to call a “pity-party” I start into my first learning phase, stop for another what-am-I-doing moment, and then throw myself back into it.
You're a man who wears many hats but has a plan. It's also wonderful to have an understanding spouse who gives out tough love. Next question, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I’m pretty focused on my wilderness guide series right now. I’m so busy juggling marketing my new release and finishing the editing of my second novel in the series, I can’t imagine taking on another project at this point.
Focused. Good for you. It's something I can be lacking. Looking over your shoulder into the past, is there something you would tell your beginning self?
This is an easy question for me. I wrote the first version of my book without ever once cracking the spine of a book on the craft. When I had finished my first draft, I was left with a mediocre book with nuggets of gold. That’s when I taught myself how to write by studying books on fiction. I had to completely re-write the first version into the incarnation it is today.
Wow, I did the same thing and it's sure hard to go back and fix it. Now the fun questions. If they made a movie about your life what would the title be and who would play you?
If it’s my choice, I’m picking someone who makes me look good. I’m going with Matthew McConaughey and would title it “Making it up as I go along.”
Do you have a tattoo? If not and you were to get one, what would it be?
No tattoos, yet. If I did, it would probably my wife’s name on my arm. Nothing too spicy to see here :).
None for me either. Your wife is a lucky woman. What was the best vacation you ever took?
My wife Emily and I camped on Orcas Island for a week and a half. Every morning, we would set out from the campsite with our terrier Zoe on a new trail in the wilderness or would canoe on the nearby lake. At night we would relax by the campfire, playing games and eating s’mores.
I looked up Orcas Island and it looks gorgeous. Here's a link http://orcasisland.org/camping/ Games are truly a camping thing. My husband and I play an on-going game of 500 Rummy. We're at about 50,000 points. Years ago, there was a commercial which talked about a time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
I remember holding my wife’s hands as we said our vows to each other. Her hands were trembling slightly, as were mine, but the moment was magic.
That is a perfect answer. I wonder how many of our guests today have a particular memory of their wedding they'd like to share with you and me in the comments? Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what author inspired your imagination enough to write.
I have received so much useful guidance from so many people, I couldn’t hope to name them all. I’m a member of the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writing Association), and the writing conference they hold each year is chock full of classes by exquisite writers designed to hone your craft. My editor, Ally Robertson, gave me hard truths in a kind way to make my book the best it could be. My fellow Wild Rose Press authors share wisdom to help navigate the crazy world of marketing and promotion.
It often takes a village to publish a book. What does literary success look like to you?
Aside from a million dollars in sales?
LOL. Yes, aside from the millions.
I want people to read my novel and feel like they escaped on a wild ride. I want a reader to turn the last page and immediately download my next book to continue the adventure.
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.
Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year's resolutions haven't changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company's detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it's too late.
Not the most auspicious start to my guiding career, Crystal admitted to herself.
Conner sat back down, took a grateful swig of the coffee and sighed. "This could have gone better," he said stating the obvious.
"What happens next?" Crystal asked.
"We wait until dawn, see if he turns up, and escort everyone out of here. Hopefully, Philip is waiting for us at the lodge, and we can drive this whole miserable lot back to the city a day early. In the meantime, I suggest we follow everyone's lead and try to get a little shuteye."
Conner's radio crackled with Sam's voice, "We've found the missing man from your group, Conner. He's at the bottom of a cliff. I'm sorry to say this search and rescue operation has become a search and recover."
Conner paled at the news.
"What does 'search and recover' mean?" Crystal asked.
"It means he's dead.”
Barnes and Noble
ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he's not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.
In the meantime this weeks movie recommendations are older but good Seattle stories.
Sleepless in Seattle
Words can inspire, thoughts can provoke, but only action truly brings you closer to your dreams.
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.
Welcome to the Campfire Do to unforeseen circumstances, today's scheduled guest is unavailable. So, I'm taking over my own blog. ?
Welcome to the Campfire.
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 fire below is one of my favorites. I see a baby dragon in it. What do you see? Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. If you use this link for the newsletter I'll enter you to win an E book of Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake.
My usual first question to a guest is regarding their choice of beverage.
I'm a coffee in the morning-two cups thank you-girl. In the afternoon it's tea. Usually Earl or Lady Grey and I'm also fond of Constant Comment. And around the campfire at night? In vino veritas. In wine lies the truth.
The second question is about camping or glamping.
And yes to both. I've rough camped in my youth with nothing but a sleeping bag. Then tent camping. One of my very best friends and I camped at Lake Wallenpaupack as teenagers. I remember several things about that trip. The water was so cold when I jumped in I came up screaming. It rained incessantly and we ended up sleeping in the car because the tent leaked. The neighbors, also confined to the tent enjoy rigorous games of Yahtzee. They shouted Yahtzee loud and often. Over the years I've enjoyed the use of pop-up campers and then RVing with my sister in her Class C named Stella. As my DH and I get closer to retirement we talked about the future and how we want to spend it. Our home in New Jersey is a blessing and we don't want to give it up. Much of the layout includes outside. During the year, most of our time is spent outside, so buying an RV wasn't much of a stretch. We love our Jayco Eagle named 2Hoots. She's a big girl. Yes, I do drive her. Only in the forward direction.
What is my latest project.
Rock House Grill is the first book in my Impact Series. It's a contemporary romance with some suspense elements. My past includes many years as an Emergency Medical Technician and owner of a coffee shop and small restaurant. These combined experiences are the foundation of the story. One man's choices. One woman's impact. Rock House is about how the choices we make don't affect only ourselves but those around us. How even though we make mistakes and with the help of family and friends, there is hope.
My most asked question is How long did it take you from conception to publication?
In 2015 I took the NaNoWriMo challenge fifty thousand words in thirty days.
After a lot of editing, re-editing, and then more editing, Wild Rose Press showed interest. Then after another round of editing, re-editing and more editing, Rock House Grill was contracted. Guess what? More editing. I do have a cover now. We are hoping for a early 2020 release. So the answer is a long time.
Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar released in 2016 after four years.
What are my challenges? Most writers face a myriad of challenges. Time, not having enough of it, and then the length of the process are daunting. Recognition is another. I tell people I'm number three billion-two hundred million- seven thousand-sixty five on the best seller list. Marketing is another tough nut to crack.
The next question is about other projects. I have several at various stages of development. With Rock House simmering, Jazz House is moving along in it's first draft. The second Shield-Mates book Kisa, is in the same shape- partial draft. My heart longs to finish the first book I ever began Aimhirghin, Kingdom at a Crossroad.
Is there something I would tell my beginning self? It's easier to start a book than to finish it. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing, because it's much harder to go back and fix things, than doing it right in the first place. Comma's are my arch nemesis. Pay attention in English class.
Now the fun questions
Favorite type of movies? Action adventure. I'm a huge Avengers fan and my favorites are Guardians of the Galaxy. "I am Groot." Lord of the Rings my inspiration for writing Fantasy.
What was the best vacation I ever took? Years ago, there was a commercial which talked about a “Kodak Moment.”
I went to Maine on a camping trip. Pop-up trailer. We stayed at Acadia National Park. One day we went into Bar Harbor and joined a whale watching charter boat. After a freezing hour and a half trip out into the North Atlantic the boat stopped. I couldn't believe how calm the water was. The sky a silver gray matched the ocean and you couldn't tell where one began and the other ended. Only a few minutes passed and whales breached the surface. Right off the side a mother and calf were so close I couldn't believe it. They played and rolled on the surface. I turned to the guide with a huge smile and said, "This must be what Heaven is like." She just smiled.
Mentors, authors, or books, I would like to give a shout-out to? So many people are involved in a writers journey. All the way in the beginning Margo Karoly and the Romance Writers critique group put me on a path of better writing. Through that, Rosalie Redd became my first critique partner extraordinaire. Then Renee Wildes from the critique group saved Rock House. I have a wonderful editor named Elf who rocks.
What does literary success look like to me? The day I received my first copy of Felice. The day I signed my first publishing contract. The day I read my first review. I think if you follow your dream, no matter the outcome, you are a success. Even if you try and fail, at least you tried.
Here are some of my successes.
Don't forget to stop by next week when Cozy Mysteries writer and fellow camper ML Erdahl joins me around the fire.
This weeks movie recommendations
Lord of the Rings Trilogy. If you haven't watched them for a while it's time.
Guardian's of the Galaxy
Recipes for the Campfire don't need to be hard. Campbell's makes a packet you can pour over your roast and veggies. Diced carrots, peas, and potatoes in the Dutch Oven with the roast add the package cook low and slow over the fire and voila. I like adding mushrooms, too. Delicious.
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. This week will probably be the last one away at a campground since we'll be winterizing the RV and getting ready for the Holidays. I do have a driveway camp planned with relatives in early November. We'll cook out around the fire and pretend we're at a faraway location. Imagination is a wonderful thing. So, wherever you’re joining us from relax let your imagination go and 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 the Campfire is welcoming Keta, an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
I have always loved coffee; can’t imagine life without it. That’s kind of sad, huh? I think a lot of writers drink plenty of coffee to keep their minds stimulated and help them contend with all the late-night writing binges.
Coffee it is. I'm a coffee in the morning person and tea in the afternoon and evening. Since we are sitting around the virtual campfire tell us, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I haven’t camped as an adult. I’m not much for sleeping in a tent or on the ground, and I must have my hot shower every morning. Not much fun, am I? lol. When I was about 12, my family took a camping vacation to Yellowstone National Park. One night a bear came snuffling around our tent (on the ground). I heard him and the next thing I knew, he took a swipe at the side of the tent. I have no idea why he did that, but I was terrified. We followed all the rules, put our garbage in the proper place away from the camp site, our food too, but for some reason those bears were still snooping around. I don’t believe I’ve camped since, and I confess, I’ve never liked bears—don’t even like to watch them on T.V. or a movie.
Camping is not for everyone and I can imagine how scary that must have been. Many national parks no longer allow camping without hard sides anymore because of this. One night I remember rural camping in Minnesota. My friend and I ended up sleeping in the men's room. LOL, turned out it the noise was only raccoons. You are a multi-published author and have won awards for your writing, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest project is an Urban Fantasy anthology with 8 other marvelous authors. A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil anthology released on September 24. You can download from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TK6LLCP/ (Also available from Kindle Unlimited)
Scary stuff. Perfect for the coming weeks. Do you have a tagline?
Devils, demons and their lethal hunters will draw you into their conquests, twisted deceptions, scorching heat, and yes, even love.
If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition? It’s the most asked question for me.
My story in the anthology is titled I Spy A Demon. I think it’s about 36,000 words and took me 4 months to write it. I did have a few interruptions in between because I also edit for some other authors. So I wrote most of the novella and then stopped for a week or two for an editing job, went back to the story and then took one more break for an editing job. In total, about 4 months.
I've heard writing short stories and Novellas are more difficult than full novels. They have to be quicker and more intense compared to a novel which can build both world and character development. What challenges have you faced during writing. How did you get through it?
I don’t usually fall prey to writer’s block, but marketing is another matter. I lost my author assistant who had been with me for two years not long ago. Unfortunately, she passed away very unexpectedly and did so much for me I’m lost without her. She was not only a good friend but an awesome assistant. I’m not very good at technical stuff, so I relied heavily on her for many, many tasks. Right now, I’m kind of floundering, looking for a new assistant, and will be thrilled if she’s as talented as Babs Hightower.
I've heard of her. She was a great person and resource to so many and will be missed by them. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend. I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Yes, I do! Don’t all authors? I have a western series I started some time ago and only completed the first book in the series, Chasing The Dead. I need to get back to the Bannister Brothers’ books since readers have been asking when the next book will be published. I also stuck in one or two contemporary romances after that first book in the series, so that put me off schedule for a time. And then the anthology came along. I do plan to write book two in the western romance above, and then possibly a follow-up to I Spy A Demon.
You're author with a great history and future, so let's time-travel. Is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Are we talking about writing here? Or just life in general?
For writing, I would just say learn everything you can about the craft, whether that’s through classes or reading many books about writing. With all the books released every day, competition is stiff. Writers who take the time to learn the craft, the basic rules, have a leg up, I think.
Great advice either way. Knowledge is key to all our endeavors whether writing or life. Okay, fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
I’m an animal lover so I donate both my time and support to a local animal shelter. Ten years ago, I rescued Emma LaPounce, my furry companion from the shelter. It seems her family moved out of town and left her behind. When I visited her at the shelter several times, she was so upset and depressed, and she didn’t want much to do with me or anyone. I finally had a talk with her. I said, “Listen, you’re coming home with me, and I’ll take very good care of you so you better find a way to like me.” The talk must have worked because we’ve been best friends ever since. I can’t imagine how people can just abandon these helpless creatures because it really does affect them. And they have so much love to give back. Emma has had a very good life with me and is a wonderful cat. She’s now 17 years old and still going strong.
Good for you. My rescue Hali sends you and Emma LaPounce a hale and hearty woof. The door opens waiting for you to enter. If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room what would it be?
Can I choose two? I have very eclectic taste in music (books too). I listen to many different eras and styles. The first one I’d choose is a fun, little song by Trisha Yearwood – She’s In Love With The Boy, and the second one I’d choose is I Will Wait For You by Mumford and Sons. But…as I said, I listen to a lot of different music – love anything from Phantom of the Opera, Andre Bocelli, Sara Borellis and the soundtracks from movies.
You can. And I'm with you. The only music I can't stand, is screaming or screeching the lyrics. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Most definitely To Kill A Mockingbird. I love everything about it; the writing, the setting, the characters, the lessons we learn…just everything. I read it every year.
A true classic. If we peeked into your life what weird talent do you have?
I can carry a tune if I have too. I don’t think that’s so weird, but it is an unusual talent.
As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success is being happy with the end product of whatever it is you’re writing. Success is accomplishing a big task—writing a book. Success is having a reader email you and tell you they loved your book or that it changed their life in some way. That’s all the success I need.
What a wonderful and thoughtful answer. Keta, 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 hosting me. I really enjoyed your questions!
About I Spy A Demon
When twins Cecily and Calder Sizemore’s parents are killed in a car accident, they’re adopted by the Frost family—Gus, Mae and their sons, Marcel and Elliott. Over the years, Cecily’s love for Marcel evolves into anything but sisterly.
Cecily always knew something was amiss in the Frost household. Little things belied the calm, peaceful ambiance Mae did her best to portray. Calder tried to warn her things were not as they appeared, but she didn’t want to believe him. When Calder begs her to leave Des Moines, start a new life away from the secrets, away from the Frosts and away from Marcel, she takes his advice and her shattered heart and moves to Minnesota.
Now she’s been called home for her beloved brother's funeral. There's more to the story than meets the eye. Discrepancies in how her twin died lead her back to Des Moines, and back to Marcel―the boy who stole her heart, the man whose very presence turns her blood to liquid fire. Marcel has always kept dangerous secrets, but this time, Cecily is determined to uncover the truth about the Frosts… and the truth about how Calder really died.
She’ll find out what really happened to her brother, even if it’s her last act in life.
* * *
"We therefore commit Calder Sizemore's body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust...."
The cloying scents of damp earth and lilies spiraled up Cecily's nose. Overhead, a pitiless sun bore down on the mourners gathered around her brother's casket—familiar faces she’d known forever, lived with and loved. She fought back the bile rising in her throat and prayed the minister would come to the end of the service before her knees buckled.
To her left, stood Mae Frost, her mother's best friend and the woman who had raised her and Calder after their parents died. As if Mae could read her thoughts, the woman squeezed her hand, an unspoken sign of moral support and unconditional love. She would expect nothing less from Mae, and had received nothing less for the past twenty years. If Mae's husband, Gus, were here, she would receive the same outpouring of love from him. In essence, Gus was in attendance, not above the ground but below. And now Calder would rest beside the man through all eternity.
"And so, shall we ever be with the Lord."
Dear God, when will he say 'Amen?
She stared at the burgundy coffin with its hideous spray of red roses, yellow lilies and white orchids while a thousand questions tore through her brain. How could she go on without Calder, the other half of her soul, her womb mate, the one person who had always been there through the highs and lows of her life? What was he doing in St. Louis when he died and who was with him at the end? She had to know what kind of an accident had taken his life.
That's the word Mae used—accident—when she called her in Minnesota to deliver the dreadful news. 'We've booked a morning flight to Des Moines,' she'd said. 'The ticket is in your name and waiting for you at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Delta Airlines ticket counter.' Numb with shock and grief, Cecily had pressed Mae for details but the woman circumvented her question. Why should she be surprised? The entire Frost family held Masters’ Degrees when it came to dodging and ducking topics they didn’t wish to discuss. ‘We’ll be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive,” she’d said and then ended their conversation.
This time, she wouldn't allow them to circumvent her questions. She'd find out how her brother really died, with her last breath if need be.
★ Author Blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
★Facebook Author Page https://www.facebook.com/KetaDiablo.Author/
★Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Keta-Diablo/e/B002BODURI/
★Goodreads Page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2620426.Keta_Diablo
Rumor has it Keta is also a lover of Owls. So today's movie recommendations are Owlishly good salutes to our feathered friends.
Harry Potter of course had Hedwig and others, hoo delivered mail.
Blade Runner (really, you say) Yes. the Book on which the movie was based referred to the owl as one of the first creatures to go extinct. Tyrell had a robot one and a statue in his office.
Last weekend I missed my Dutch Oven. I went out to the 2Hoots, the name of my RV and dug it out. Here's the magic of what ended up in our bowls. When asked I call it Gumbo-ish.
Make a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of flour. Whisk until caramel brown. Add 1 medium diced onion and bell pepper along with 2 stalks of chopped celery. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until the veggies are softened. Add chunks of sausage. I used Italian turkey. A 14 oz can of diced peppers an then added 4 cups of beef broth. I would have used chicken but didn't have any. A tablespoon of Cajun spice. My husband doesn't like rice so I added small chunks of potato. If you skip the taters you can serve over rice. Simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half. 10 minutes before serving add peeled and de-veined shrimp. I made biscuits to go with. Served 6.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
It's hard to believe October is here. For many campers it's nearing the end of the season. RV's are being winterized. Campgrounds closing for the winter. Here at Welcome to the Campfire we are going to gleefully go into the winter months. One time, while living in Minnesota, a friend and I went camping in the dead of winter. The temperature neared -10 degrees Fahrenheit. We did have a camper but no heat. Sleeping bags, thermoses, and conversation kept us awake and warm. This past week we camped in Vermont with friends and the temps dropped into the 30's. The campfire roared and we had our RV. Cozy and comfortable. No matter where you are I hope you'll join in the spirit of camping. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to receive information on up coming releases, contests and signups for the 2020 Campfire blog opening.
Today I'm welcoming Viviana Mackade a multi published author of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Fantasy.
Hi, and thank you for having me! It’s been so long since I did a campfire!
What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
All of them, depending of the circumstance. Morning is for coffee, and it’s a no-brainer. Tea, earl grey, is for the afternoon, around 3 pm, for a gentler kick that will keep me until bed time. Cocoa is for Sunday evenings, to fortify for the coming week. And wine, white or rose, is for a hard day’s dinner. Wait… Where are the Margaritas????
LOL, I'm sure we can mix up a pitcher or Margarita's for us. And I'm with you about the rest. Don't even talk to me until I've drained my first cup of coffee in the morning. Since I've had my second cup let's get down to it. Have you ever camped?
My husband and I used to camp a lot. Tent, in the Italian alps. It was always cold, it was always uncomfortable, and I loved every and any minute of it. We’d like to go back to camping and doing it down here in Florida. Maybe this winter, when the heat is not trying to kill us.
The Italian Alps! How exciting and beautiful that must have been. We have friends that work at the https://www.floridastateparks.org/Alafia. You should check it out. It appeals to me and we may go the following year in March. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest book is Guns For Angels, a romantic suspense that I re-released after I got the rights back from the publisher.
I love romantic suspense and it's great you have your rights back. According to https://www.authorsalliance.org/ "A right of reversion is a contractual provision that permits authors to work with their publishers to regain some or all of the rights in their books when certain conditions are met." Many authors are working on this. I love the description on Guns for Angels. From NY to sunny Miami, Ann and Mark run into a maze of lie, betrayal, and death, where love is the only, terrifying certainty. And when truth unravels, they will have to risk all to survive. If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition? It’s the most asked question for me.
It took me a while, I’d say a year. Four months for writing it, and then the critiques, and then finding the publisher, and then the editor’s edits.
What challenges have you faced during writing. How did you get through it?
Ann and Mark have to find out what happened to Ann’s sister, and why there are people out to kill her and destroy Mark’s Team. It was very detail-oriented story, where they had to find clues. Keeping track of those details, and let the story unfold in a logical way was a challenge.
I can imagine. Some authors have spread sheets or book bibles to keep track. I'm trying to start one for myself. Now you have the rights back, and several other published works, is there anything you’re itching to get to?
Oh, gosh… so many. Aside all the barely-there plots that wait, I’m currently writing a fantasy, which is the piece I’m focusing on the most. Then an urban fantasy, or a contemporary with dash of paranormal. And a big-a$$ed quartet, a fantasy with a main couple in each book, but a main storyline that spans 4 books. I’m itching to finish the fantasy to get to it. I’m itching so bad.
I'm the same. To many ideas to little time. And speaking of time I'd love to time travel with you. Is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
It takes time, tears, stubbornness. There will be a lot of self-doubt and discouragement. Just keep going, because the only way to fail is to stop.
My favorite Dory quote is Just keep swimming. Words of wisdom for anyone getting started, as well as "seasoned" writers. It's not an easy road but so very worth the travel. Okay, fun questions. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Reading. And then, um, reading. Uh, and reading. Yeah. That’s all me. Wild and crazy with all these many daredevil things I love to do.
It's smart. Author's need to read. It keeps you current, engaged and gives you a break. 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?
The Outsiders by Eric Church. It’s a reminder of many, many things (about me, about life) and there’s little I can’t do after hearing that song.
Love it. Talk the talk and walk the walk. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Robinson Crusoe. I read it when I was ten in the backseat of my parent’s car on our way to Croatia for our summer vacation. It was roughly a 12 hours journey, and I spent it all reading that book. Then I re-read it throughout the entire vacation, and a couple more times afterward.
And here you are writing about adventure. It's wonderful the impression a classic like that will make on a child. Confession time. What weird talent do you have?
I remember songs’ lyrics, poetry, lists (like the 7 Kings of Rome, the Popes, presidents, regions). When I hear a song, and I can sing it word by word the next time I hear it, it drives my husband insane.
I want that talent. I can listen to a song for years, singing along then read the lyrics. Not even close. Support is important to writers. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what were childhood books you loved?
Besides my husband, there’s a Yahoo group called The Critters. It’s made by author in various stages in their careers, and we’re all there to give each other a hand. There are critiques, advice, help in advertisement, or just an ear for when you need to vent. It was the first group I was part of when I decided writing was not going to be simply a different past-time but something more, and I wouldn’t be here without their support. Shout out to you, Daryl, and all the Critter out there.
The internet can be a force for good or evil. I'm the beneficiary of several on line groups. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success is when the readers give you their trust and their time, and chose your story to get lost in.
Viviana, 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.
My sister was all the family I had. She was taken from me and now, someone wants me dead, too. Not sure why.
I’m sure I’m not going to give my life up, though. I’m not going to let them get away with my sister’s murder.
The new me will try, anyway.
You see, when she was alive I could live in brightness and peace. Now I have to accept the darkness within me. After all, isn’t life about balance? Ironically, the man who can teach me how to embrace the shadows is broken, hopeless, and angry. Mark is also the only one I trust to lead me through my heart’s night, and back into the light.
The one I trust to keep us alive.
A favor to a teammate: pick up two girls in trouble, take them to the Team’s safehouse. Should have been easy. It was not.
Then someone killed one of my team, one of my brothers. Now it’s personal.
They want me, too. I can deal with that. But they want Ann. The only person who cut through me, who woke me, who grabbed my hand and guided me back into life one smile at the time.
I’ll be damned if I let them have anything.
Not. One. Damned. Thing.
Ann swallowed hard as stench scraped her throat.
In truth, the real issue was the absence of any pleasant smell, like clean breeze from an open window, lemony traces of cleanser or, at least, the fake ocean fragrance of an air freshener. Instead, the room was stifling, filled with heavy, stale air and old, cheap perfume that hanged around in sickly sweet clouds. The hotel room didn’t stink though, so she blamed her strong reaction to stress.
Whatever the reason, she pressed a hand on her twisted stomach and stepped closer to the man. He might be huge, too physical, and unmoved by normal human-to-human interactions, but he smelled just fine. It was either retching or keeping close to him and his soapy scent–the first good thing in a horrific night.
Maybe the Universe was getting on her side again.
Nice try, Ann conceded, but way not enough and badly executed. For as good as his scent was, she couldn’t spend the night with her nose pressed against his shirt. “Hey, can we open a window?” she asked.
“Of course not. Will you bite my head off if I ask why?”
“You wanna people sneaking in and cutting your throat?”
His lips curved into a sardonic smile. “There’s your answer.”
He marched to the window, checked the derelict locks. “It’s not gonna stop them,” he said more to himself than to her. “But it’ll give me time.”
“What do I do if they come?” Ann asked, forgetting her trouble with the room for a moment.
“Stay close to me and out of my way.”
“That’s… that’s tricky.”
“Make it work.”
From the middle of the room, she followed his inspection feeling more relieved each time he nodded. Even his cursing someone called Mouse was, somehow, reassuring. “If that stupid ass doesn’t call, I’ll throttle his skinny neck with my bare hands.”
His long, violent mumbled monolog went on, but its soothing quality disappeared when she realized she needed a restroom. She eyed the stains on the once beige, now dirt-brown walls–a real touch of class.
Okay, she needed the toilet, but what if Mr. Cholera was using it? It seemed like the place for it. Or even worse, ugly, hairy, dark spiders, creeping down the ceiling as she was sitting on the toilet. She would pass out, and the man would find her with her panties around her ankles, her eyes rolled back, and a rivulet of drool from her mouth. So cool.
She tried to focus on the bed and not on spiders, but the headboard leaned on the left and the blanket sported stains impossible to define. The perfect breeding ground for bed bugs.
Ann felt her eyes sting furiously. She wanted to go home, to her clean, spider free home, and call her sister. She wanted to hear Mary saying something, anything.
Mark’s voice, mockingly reassuring, reached her a split second before tears did. “If you’re worried about sharing the bed you can relax, angel. I’m not in the mood.”
“I wasn’t… never mind. I need to use the bathroom.”
She had opened the bathroom door when the meaning of his words emerged from the fog and wiped away her attempt not to lose it.
Remaining in the bedroom, she slammed the bathroom door in front of her with all her strength. She had the deep satisfaction of seeing him snap into action, gun in his hand and fire in his eyes. He was ready to fight, but she charged first. “Do you really think I would be in the mood? Let’s put aside for a second what happened to my sis… what happened tonight. Even on my best day I wouldn’t be in the mood with a jackass like you. I don’t like angry men. I need the toilet.”
This weeks movie recommendations
In honor of Viviana's instant memorization of song lyrics
The Soloist with Jamie Foxx
Rain Man with Tom Cruise
Viviana shared with me her son's love of marshmallows. So here's a recipe from one of my favorite tv chefs Alton Brown
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King
For some more magic, join me next week around the Campfire with award-winning and best-selling author, Keta Diablo who writes in several genres, Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance
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.
Thanks for joining us today. We are a couple of weeks into sharing stories around the campfire and I'm having so much fun. Whether your a city slicker or country folk there's something that pulls us in a fire. My sister and I would go to the Finger Lakes Wine Fest each summer and we were the only ones with a campfire going at night. Two would grow to for would grow to eight. One night we had about fifteen people who started as strangers become friends. Whether it’s away in a campground, or at home in front the chiminea, some of the best conversations have been with a cozy flame and sparks drifting up into the night sky joining the stars. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open the campfire video below and relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below. If you would like to keep up with Welcome to the Campfire and information, follow me on any of these social media links. And don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. So, without further ado, drum-roll please...
“Light a campfire and everyone’s a storyteller.” – John Geddes
Today I’m welcoming, Linda Griffin, author around the campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine? I'd offer the gorilla something but there's no banana's here tonight.
Coffee or tea is fine, but my first choice would be Swiss Miss Indulgent Collection Dark Chocolate hot cocoa!
Wow! That’s specific. LOL! But it does sound delicious. I don’t have any on hand, but I do make cocoa from scratch. Thanks for braving the wilds and visited. Have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
My only camping experience was at sixth grade camp. I don’t know whether schools still do that, but we spent a week living in cabins and learning about ecology. I did enjoy it, but I wouldn’t be a good camper. I like my little luxuries, such as hot water and soft beds (although a two-minute cold shower I had on a train trip was surprisingly refreshing!) Plus I’m decidedly unhandy. I‘m good with words and numbers, but nothing in three dimensions, so I wouldn’t be able to pitch a tent or start a campfire. If I were to take up camping though, I would favor the Pacific Northwest.
I totally understand. I love the outdoors and traveling. You have to check out my rig, though. I'm definitely not roughing it. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
The Rebound Effect is romantic suspense. It’s a cautionary tale of love and betrayal and the HEA may not be what the reader expects.
Sounds interesting. For those of you who don’t know, HEA means Happily Ever After. There’s also the HFN, Happy for Now. Do you have a tagline?
Whirlwind romance—cure for a broken heart, or prescription for trouble?
That’s very provocative. The average person often doesn’t understand how hard it is to catch someone’s attention in one or two sentences. I think you nailed it. If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition?
I think there were a few weeks from the original trigger until I started writing, but I was jotting notes in my notebook while traveling, and scenes from our visit to the Oregon coast found their way into the story. It took about two months to write, followed by several rounds of revisions.
Did you ever hit the place where you threw your arm up in the air and said nope this is not going to work? If so, how did you get past it?
Not with this one. I did get stuck with Seventeen Days, my first Wild Rose Press romance. It languished for years, and then I read an article in Writer’s Market about writer’s block, which encouraged me to write some scenes out of order and jettison the scene I was stuck on. That worked, but sometimes there’s no solution, or at least hasn’t been yet
I’ve done something similar. Head to the end and wrote backwards. Since I know I want that HEA you spoke of, then I try to figure out how to get there. Many writers have multiple projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I have a lot of beginnings that I may or may not be able to finish, and a lot of finished short stories that haven’t found the right home. I’m also waiting to hear whether Guilty Knowledge, a police procedural/interracial romance will be my next Wild Rose Press publication. It may be a little out of their line, but I would love to work with my wonderful editor, Nan Swanson, on it. Unlike many authors, I really enjoy the editing process. There were a couple of scenes in The Rebound Effect that were definitely overwritten, and she helped me rein them in. Our efforts were rewarded when Kirkus Reviews called one of them “legitimately frightening.”
That’s a fantastic review. Good luck with Guilty Knowledge. So, that’s the future. Let’s look over your shoulder now, is there something you would tell your beginning self?
Richard P. Brickner, in his memoir, My Second Twenty Years, says that a novel is an ocean to its author, but a mere drink of water to a reader. That idea has helped me keep things in perspective. Nobody else is going to care as much as you do about your ocean, and a lot of readers won’t be thirsty for your particular drink of water, but it shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the swim.
What excellent words. I think we can apply them to more life in general. Okay, since camping is off the list, what do like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to read and do research, not always related to my writing. I also enjoy movies, Scrabble, and travel. I’ve been to forty-seven states and three other countries. Hawaii is next on the list, planned for late October.
Forty-seven! I’m jealous. And unfortunately, I can’t take the RV to Hawaii. But good for you. We live in a beautiful world and need to stop sometimes and appreciate it. Can you describe yourself in three words?
Klutzy, independent introvert
I think many writers are introverts. You have to be comfortable in solitude to get your work done. In my mind it goes hand-in-hand with independent. Do you have a “Kodak Moment.” A moment in time you’ll never forget.
There are so many, but one that stands out at the moment is visiting Helen Keller’s home in Alabama. The Miracle Worker is one of my favorite films, so it was a thrill to see the old pump where Helen had her epiphany and stand in the front yard, where Annie Sullivan shouted “Mrs. Keller! Mrs. Keller! She knows!”
I just got goosebumps thinking about that scene. What amazing women. And what an amazing memory. Do you have any Annie Sullivan’s in your life? Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
My sister is also a writer, although she’s never been published, and her stories had a major effect on my writing when I was a teenager. Another early influence was Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series. My novels are nothing like hers, but I still hear a few echoes of her style in mine.
Maybe one day we’ll see a novel co-written by the both of you. Final question. What does literary success look like to you?
I love it when readers say they liked a particular character, scene, line, or plot twist and it’s one of my favorites too. My wildest dream of success would be a TV series starring the detective team from Guilty Knowledge.
Linda, 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.
Here’s a peek into The Rebound Effect
In the small town of Cougar, struggling single mother and veterinary assistant Teresa Lansing is still bruised from a failed relationship when Frank McAllister sweeps her off her feet.
Frank is a big-city SWAT officer who moved to Cougar only four months ago. He's handsome, charming, forceful, very sexy, and a bit mysterious. He had his eye on Teresa even before they met and is pushing for a serious relationship right away.
Teresa finds his intense courtship flattering, and the sex is fabulous, but she doesn't want her deaf six-year-old son to be hurt again. Her former fiancé cheated on her when he got drunk after being unjustly fired, but he loves her and her son, and the whirlwind romance is complicated by his efforts to win Teresa back. And then there's the matter of the bodies buried at Big Devil Creek…
She reached inside the robe to rub his shoulders. She was feeling something new now, something tender, loving, intimate, possessive. She kissed him. She wanted to give in to this sense of well-being, of the inevitability of a future together, of love, but wasn’t it too soon?
“Teresa,” he said, again as if her name was a special endearment. “I want to sleep with you. I want to hold you all night.”
“It sounds very romantic,” she said, “but what if I snore? What if I need you to let me breathe a little?”
“Breathing is overrated. I never want to let go of you again.” He kissed her, and then he lifted her in his arms. It had never happened to her before—Gene hadn’t even carried her across the threshold on their wedding night.
“Frank!” she cried, laughing, but a little scared—what if he dropped her? He was strong, but she wasn’t very light. He didn’t drop her—or he did, but deliberately, from about an inch above the cool, clean sheets of his bed. They were both laughing, and he started kissing her randomly, here and there. This can be a lot of fun, she told herself. Enjoy it while it lasts. “Remember when you asked if it was too soon for me to date?” she asked.
“Yeah, and you said it depended on the definition.”
“It turns out it was too soon,” she said, “and now it’s too late.”
You can find more about Linda and all her books at
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Griffin/e/B07H5QFRC9
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18396185.Linda_Griffin
Amazon e-book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SS8SGT1
Amazon print https://www.amazon.com/Rebound-Effect-Linda-Griffin/dp/1509226591/
Nook : https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rebound-effect-linda-griffin/1131957492?ean=2940161516799
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-rebound-effect-linda-griffin/1131957492?ean=9781509226597
This week's recommended movies
The Miracle Worker 1962 starring Ann Bancroft and Patty Duke
And having a little fun with Linda and not roughing it...
Overboard 1987 with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell
And my sort of recipe for Hot Cocoa.
Start with the basic recipe on the box. In my opinion if you're going to do it, go all the way. Instead of straight skim milk I'll add half and half. Vanilla and cinnamon to taste and if you want add some hazelnut instead. I've also used left over coffee to replace part of the dairy.
Do you want the real campfire experience? Make it s'mores. Toast a marshmallow and slip it onto your cup. Crumble some graham cracker crumbs on top and Voila, s'mores hot chocolate.
Thanks again for stopping by. Next week Author Emily Heebner will be joining us around the Campfire.
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth