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. Sometimes silly, sometimes serious conversation go on around our fires. So, wherever you’re joining us from, click on the campfire video below 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. Okay, without further delay…
Hello, Colleen. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
COFFEE!!!!!! So black and thick even coffee connoisseurs shudder
Lol, no fancy drinks for you. But whether fancy or not, 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?
In a tent – from the massive army tent my grandfather gave us that humiliated us in campgrounds where most families had progressed to the more modern, sleek and colorful, practical tents…to something tiny and pinched, suitable for only one or two that a bear had no respect for, making me yearn for my grandfather’s thick, green canvas I’d been ashamed of as a girl. Camping evolved in location from alongside the tiny creek in the family’s timber, to lake campgrounds, then to the Rocky and Sierra mountains. As a kid, I thought there was nothing like it, but of course it wasn’t me trying to perk coffee with grounds by fire or manage biscuits in a skillet. And smelling like fishing worms or sweat didn’t bother a child who did what she could to avoid daily shower routines anyway. Now I prefer camping as a fond memory, something I refuse to sour by trying it again.
So, Colleen I can tell you’re a writer from your camping description, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
Oddly enough, my current WIP (work in progress) carries the title of that creek my family used to camp next to when I was young. Hush Puckena, a tiny branch that doesn’t even make it onto maps. Even though the title is factual, this historical novel is pure fiction, building a romanticized reputation for that creek during the Civil War as a place where the clandestine remained hidden for years.
How interesting. My husband and I are history buffs. He especially Civil War. Do you have a tagline?
My current WIP doesn’t have a tagline yet, but my personal tagline is “Fiction with a heart.” If you look at the taglines of my previous books, you can see why – “My story has been whispered behind doors and hands, always by others. This time it’s Mine to Tell.” Or, “The need for love…to find that someone she is meant for, the one who will stay forever…” Also, “Husband needed. Purely business arrangement, able to take orders without taking over…” And, “She couldn’t love her enemy, because he did…”
Those are great. People often don’t realize how difficult a tagline is to create. 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 current WIP took a while to conceive and is nowhere near fruition yet. I had just given birth to a finished novel and needed time to transition from it and its characters to something of a whole new personality. That said, in general, most of my books from conception to fruition take a year. One much longer, but a year is my norm.
Each story has its own pace. Did you ever hit the place where you threw your arms up in the air and said, nope this is not going to work? If so, how did you get past it?
I have completely deleted only one full novel in my life. It wasn’t that the storyline was bad, but I wrote it at the wrong time. Reference my answer above about conception. Like a real family, a parent/body takes a breather, long or short, between children. I didn’t rest between books like I needed to, but pushed myself into the next before I was ready. On an even darker note, I also had a ‘throw up my arms’ moment about writing as a whole. It came with a critique that was veiled personal criticism. The damage was done before I discerned the difference between offerings that helped move my writing forward or those that just plain attacked me. It took time for my compulsion to write to surface again. But with the experience I was able to discern more clearly valuable suggestions, painful or not, and make sure when I reviewed or critiqued that my focus was for the good of the writer or reader I addressed.
I’m so glad you shared this. Many writers get discouraged. I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
When a story idea strikes me, I make a note of it. I have a jillion of them but I have yet to go back to any of them and follow through. Who knows why…but I keep jotting them down. When I do write, I tackle one project at a time. I write from inner inspiration, a connection to the heart of my character as they suffer through something, and in order to pour that suffering onto a page, I have to remain in touch with it so it can speak to me as I write.
I kind of envy your focus. With several books published and more in the works, looking over your shoulder, is there something you would tell your beginning self?
What I told myself in the beginning has carried me through to today. Again, reference one of my earlier answers, the one about throwing up my arms. Before I ventured into the writing world, I thickened my skin. I faced that not everyone would like my work, and that was okay. Also, that what I thought was brilliant, wouldn’t necessarily be so, and I had to accept that other eyes saw truths about my stories that I didn’t. I reapply that mantra almost daily. It helps me stick to my commitment of learning to write well, and brings good fruit from suggestions that though painful, move my work forward.
Do you hear that folks? Toughen up. Not everyone is going to like you. It’s okay. Now the fun stuff, do you have a tattoo? If yes what is it? If you feel brave, where? Does it have a story you feel you could tell us? If not and you were to get a tattoo, what would it be?
Nope, not a tattoo person. Maybe a necklace instead? A book, a pen, something of spiritual significance since I try to listen for the right words in my heart.
I don’t either but often admire them on others and the significance behind them. Your books are from different times and places, what about you. Where was the best vacation you ever took? Why?
Oddly enough, a group trip to New York City. Who would have thought a long bus ride with complete strangers could turn out to be the trip of trips! Somehow, we were all well matched in our interests, our enthusiasm, and our respect for the group. It was marvelous!
I’m originally from Brooklyn. I see New Yorkers as exactly that. Years ago, there was a commercial which talked about a “Kodak Moment.” It’s a time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
I was ten, it was my birthday, and I was standing curly-headed and possibly too animated at the edge of a bluff in the timber near the family home. I lost my balance and toppled forward. It was a long drop, but before I went completely over the edge, something grabbed me. It lifted me upright and balanced me on my feet again. I glanced around but no one visible was there. I stood still after that, and the Kodak Moment of what felt like hands saving me has vividly remained.
Wow, your guardian angel was on duty and we are so glad for that. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
As far as other authors and their books, I adore Louise Penny! She writes insight to the human soul in her mysteries, almost turning the genre into literary fiction. I also enjoy Laura Strickland’s fabled characters in her fairy tales retold. I have no direct mentor, but I learn from others’ works whether it be written, told, or acted.
Final question. What does literary success look like to you?
Every single one of my books has a purpose beyond entertainment. There is a reason for each one, and if that reason speaks to the reader and they can identify with it, my work is done and done well. Beyond that heart goal, being accepted by a traditional publishing house also meant success to me. It was an affirmation that I in particular needed.
Colleen L Donnelly, 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.
Make sure you keep scrolling for this weeks movie recommendations and recipe. Don't forget to stop by the campfire again next week when we interview YA author and Line-Dancer, Susan Antony
My first book, “Mine to Tell,” was an Amazon #1 Bestseller and has been enjoyed by so many, I will include its blurb and excerpt here.
Annabelle Crouse is determined to reopen her great-grandmother’s boarded-up house—and her shunned life. Many years earlier, after an unexplained absence, Julianne was relegated to a separate home by a rigidly unforgiving husband, and the Crouse women have suffered the disgrace of her assumed guilt ever since.
Despite her family’s strong disapproval, Annabelle is driven to pursue her mission through cobwebs and dust, finding the clues and the coded story left behind by her great-grandmother—Why did she go? And why did she return? Annabelle has to know.
Only one person, a man she grew up with but never noticed, stands with Annabelle as she discovers the parallels between her story and her great-grandmother’s—two women, generations apart, experiencing what love truly is.
“Mine to tell,” Kyle said suddenly. It was a jolt. I was yanked from my mental tumble into a pit of unredemption. Alex looked up too, a quizzical expression on his face. “Julianne left a story behind,” Kyle continued. “Some of it speculation and rumors by people who don’t know, and the rest of it by her own hand. It was a love story. One that was countered with suffering.”
We were all quiet. I looked at him, my heart melting as I heard his masculine voice speak of love and suffering. I wanted to lean across the table and hug him, but I was too afraid.
Alex leaned back in his chair. “What my father went through didn’t feel like love when we were little.”
“But maybe it was,” Kyle persisted, his tone smooth and even. “Does love always turn out the way we want it to?” Then he looked at me. “Julianne Crouse was a fine woman. We haven’t finished her story, but she suffered, and she was fine indeed.”
Tears came to my eyes. “Thank you,” I squeaked. Kyle stood and walked around the table to me. He helped me stand as he thanked them for their time. He retrieved Julianne’s picture, took my hand, and together we went to the door. Alex and his wife following us.
“I hope you’re right,” Alex said, running his hand through his thin, brittle hair as we stepped outside. “My father had some things to come to terms with, but he was a good man. A better man later in life, when he told us he was sorry. I never knew for what.”
Mine to Tell http://amzn.to/1PNJo4S
Asked For http://amzn.to/1TyflEu
Love on a Train http://amzn.to/1m9eYCx
The Lady’s Arrangement http://amzn.to/2qj7DE2
Out of Splinters and Ashes https://amzn.to/2K0WTHt
Movie Recommendations in honor of Guardian Angels
It's a Wonderful Life. I know it's hot but did you know the movie was shot during a heat wave in the summer of 1946
The Preachers Wife. I'm a huge Whitney Houston fan so, yes, another winter movie to cool you off.
Find this weeks recipe here
Have a great week!