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.