Happy Tuesday everyone! Thank you for popping in today. You know how sometimes you just click with someone? Well today my guest is one of those people. One of the questions I ask my interviewees is "who is your support?" The answers vary but Ginny is part of a group I hold dear to me. A small collection of authors who write very diverse story across multiple genres. We get together on Zoom, or via email to gripe, support, make each other laugh, toss out ideas about writing, marketing etc. Ginny is one of those special people and I can't wait for you to meet her.
Hey, Ginny👋 I'm so glad you joined me today. While I do my hostess duties, why don't you settle in and tell everyone who you are.
Hi. I’m Ginny Frost. I write steamy romances about small towns and true love. I’ve written eight books over two series with fun, romance, and small-town life. I got into this gig because I kept writing love stories for books and movies that didn’t meet my standards. I totally threw a love story into Lord of the Rings, The Outsiders, and many other stories. I love the moment when two people fall in love. It’s like a drug.
Currently, I’m living in domestic bliss with my very own sailor/kind ogre. My hubby epitomizes true love for me. We have two teens who are in that five-year-growing-pain stage. We also have an evil orange cat who talks too much. On the bright side, the cat has stopped biting people’s faces. There’s growth there.
LOL! I'm glad the feline is now a cat version of vegan. I know you keep busy with other things as well. Other than writing what fills your hours.
Outside of writing, which consumes my thoughts most hours of the day, I’m a part-time library clerk and avid cross stitcher. I know, I know. Cross stitching isn’t cool. But I’ve never been cool, and stabbing something 1000x times is excellent therapy. I made over 100 bookmarks during Lockdown. Lately, I’ve been making bookmarks to go with my novels—drinks for the Oakwood Tavern series and snow-related items (snowmen, snowflakes) for my Stonewater Stories series.
I am so not a crafty person. I'd be a voodoo doll with pins sticking out of me. Tell us more about your sailor/kind-ogre supporter and any other folks you count on.
I have amazing support for my writing career, not only from my wonderful husband but three, yes three, writers’ groups. Each of these groups have their own quirks, structures, and support systems. I can go to any of them and get help or pats on the back. Thank you, former CR-RWA members, Workshop Wednesday folks, and my Roses.
You're quite a prolific writer but when you close the keyboard what books are you reading?
When I’m not writing, I’m reading. (I really have the best job to fulfill my bibliophile needs.) I read just about everything except poetry. Some of my favorite authors are Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, and MC Beaton. I find their novels mix romance and comedy well. My Stonewater Stories series come closest to modeling these talented authors.
Sounds like other books inspire you. How about people?
Locally, two author friends inspire me. One author, Autumn Jones Lake, inspires me to write the books of my heart and keep working in this tough career. (She throws down at least three books a year—three outstanding books.) My other local inspiration is Kathryn R. Biel. There is nothing that woman cannot do. She writes two funny romances a year and makes cover art and writes blurbs and has a full-time job, and has teenagers. I could go on and on. (Oops, I did.)
Books have always been a part of my life. Here’s a cute (or sad) story about books, one that has stayed with me since first grade. Our reading group read Charlotte’s Web, and I thought that meant I could get chapter books from the library. The librarian said no, and she refused to let me check out Freddy Goes to Space. I was so angry, so defeated. After that, I borrowed The Fourteen Bears in Summer and Winter over and over again. That book was a comfort to me. As an adult, I found the book again. It’s a reminder to never, as a librarian and a teacher, stifle a person’s interest in books, never judge what they read, and celebrate the written word in all its forms.
My favorite book as a teen was The Outsiders. I read it over and over but was disappointed at the lack of women in the book. I started writing fanfiction for it, giving each brother a love story. As an adult, both my children read it for school, and SE Hinton even replied to one of my tweets. That book, that author, will always be an inspiration to me.
Let's dig in to you as a person. Mugs and t-shirts tell a lot about their owner. What's your favorite?
I’m supposed to write a short answer about my favorite t-shirt. I could fill the blog with my t-shirts. I’m a fangirl for various shows, movies, books, and games. I have an entire laundry basket full of shirts. I love to wear them out and about as an invitation to conversation. My favorites are “Today must be Thursday. I never go the hang of Thursday,” Singer Salvage, “Keep Calm and Don’t Blink,” and one that has 22 Privet Dr, 221-B Baker ST, KAZ-2Y5, and Police Box in blue.
I love the Thursday one. Ginny you write a very helpful writers blog called Apps for Writers here's the link appsforwriters.blogspot.com/2022/ Can you share about the best money you've spent on writing?
Over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of money on my writing career. (I’m not griping. It’s just a fact.) But honestly, the best money ever spent on my career was forked out by my husband. One Christmas, right after I really committed to a writing career, my husband sent me on a scavenger hunt. He titled it “For the Writer of Books.” At the end, I found a brand-new laptop, my first ever. He’s the best.
Aww! I luv him. What about reviews?
With eight books to my name, I have to confess, I never look at reviews. Part of it is fear, but another part is knowing you can’t please anyone. I’m not sure what I could do with negative comments. I can’t really fix it as the book is published. I know I can learn from them, but it could also make me sad. Yes, I’m a wimp.
Very true. How do you get the names for your characters?
I love listening to authors talk about how they get names for their characters. Some research through historical documentation. Some use baby name books and sites. I just let my characters tell me their name. As I write, it either works or it doesn’t. Then I write the next book.
Ginny, thanks so much for spending time with us. I hear your celebrating Christmas In July by putting your holiday story on sale. Also a little birdie told me you have a short story for anyone who signs up for your newsletter. Can you leave us a peek at Christmas Sparks and where we can find out more about you?
Christmas Sparks Stone Water Stories Book One
Kindergarten teacher, Margaret Porter, is looking forward to the best Christmas holiday in years. Without her irresponsible ex-husband causing chaos, she and her two children can finally have a fun, peaceful celebration. Everything looks picture perfect until her living room catches fire. Volunteer firefighter, Ryan Kramer, never knew what hit him when he rescues a reluctant and quick-tempered Margaret from her burning home. But it’s more than sympathy for her situation that gets under his skin. Her sassy, no-nonsense attitude bowls him over. Margaret finds her family rescued by Ryan again and again. Something about him speaks to her soul, and she discovers it hard to resist him. Unlike her careless and manipulative ex-husband, Ryan’s nothing but wonderful throughout the entire ordeal. As Ryan investigates the damage to Margaret’s home, he discovers his family’s business, Kramer and Sons, worked on the fire-ravaged room. Did shoddy work by his family put a single mom and her two kids out in the cold at Christmas? Can Margaret see beyond his last name and fall for him too?
Get your copy today
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KQDJXSK
Follow the Author
Return To Wylder
Is it ever to late to come home?
The untimely death of EJ Hampton’s father kills her dream of practicing law with him in her hometown of Wylder. Heartbroken, she now has two weeks to organize the practice for sale. When she meets her father’s millionaire client Dylan Addison, he is demanding and entitled—yet his charisma captivates her.
Dylan is under pressure to renovate the Wylder Hotel before his father pulls the plug on his project. He needs EJ’s expertise, but she is bent on returning to her life in San Francisco despite the fireworks between them.
EJ walks a tightrope trying to balance Dylan’s needs against her own, but doing so is far more complicated when emotions get in the way.
Get your copy today
D. V.'s Review 🦉🦉🦉🦉🦉
*I received this book as an advanced reader in exchange for a fair review.*
Some people are made for cities, and others for places like Wylder, a quintessential small town in the USA state of Wyoming. The world-building of this engrossing read, plopped me down in places that felt familiar to me. All the characters, even the secondary ones we meet, all play a part in the main characters’ lives, as most communities do.
Despite long-held dreams of joining her father in his local law firm, EJ Hampton is instead an Attorney in a prominent San Francisco law firm. Tragedy drove her from Wylder, and tragedy brought her home.
Dylan Addison is the son of a big-city developer whose heart is revitalizing rural towns and making a difference in people’s lives while winning the respect of his successful father.
Though this is a shorter read, 147 pages, the author takes the time to build this slow-burn romance into a sensual encounter between characters who are growing to love and respect each other.
I highly recommend this book. And read it in one sitting under the canopy of my maple tree in a small town.
This is part of a series of Romantic stories published by The Wild Rose Press that take place throughout time in a fictional town called Wylder, Wyoming.
My love of reading dates back to my childhood when I would borrow at least four books from the library every week. During the summer, I would sit in the house and read, until my mother, totally frustrated, would send me outside to play and lock me out. I always found my way back in. However, I must confess, I hated to write. In every English and writing class throughout college, I dreaded trying to be creative. As a friend from law school so aptly put it, “The reason why we’re here is because we don’t have a creative bone in our bodies.”
Despite my dislike of creative writing back then, I embraced legal writing, and was first published in Volume 5 of the Fordham International Law Journal. My article was entitled “In re Mackin: Is the Application of the Political Offense Exception an Extradition Issue for the Judicial or Executive Branch?” I would advise you against reading it, for you will surely fall asleep.
While practicing law as a divorce attorney, I decided to try for some balance in my life and began writing romance. Thankfully, I found my creative bone. Instead of only drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, I started to spend my free time creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through my contemporary romance novels.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America and New Jersey Romance Writers and have received many honors for my work including the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award, the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers Award, and the NEST (National Excellence in Storytelling) Award. I finaled in the New England Reader’s Choice Contest, the NJ Romance Writers Golden Leaf Contest, The RONE awards, and Colorado Romance Writers’ Beverley contest.
Follow the Author
Welcome to my fire Robecca. While I do the hostess thing why don't you introduce yourself.
Hi! I’m Robecca Austin. Thank you so much for hosting me on Around the Fire. I am an author of historical regency and contemporary billionaire romance books. Most of my books, especially my contemporary stories tend to be on the steamier side, between heat levels 2 and 3.
In addition to being an author, I’m a mom of two, wife, and dog owner. But on days where chaos rules, I’m a mediator, problem solver, and coffee drinker. But I enjoy every minute of watching my family grow.
Like most woman you wear many hats. But tell us what you enjoy doing when you’re not working?
When I’m not crafting the next story, I love taking my dog for long walks. He’s a German Shepherd so he does require about 1-2 hours of exercise daily. I also love reading and pulling weeds from my lawn and garden. I know the latter is a bit odd, but pulling weeds is mindless, and I can let my mind wander over my story in progress.
We sound very much alike. Despite Hali being a Cur, Shepherds are my favorite breed of dog. When I garden I turn on classical music. Much of authoring is solitary but many of us need others, who is your network or support team?
As an author, I have different networks for different aspects of my life. My family is very supportive, but I swear their eyes get glossy when I talk about writing business. Like many other authors, I have family that buys my books but don’t read them, and that’s perfectly fine. Their support doesn’t have to be one-dimensional for me to appreciate it.
For daily writing, I have writing partners that understand the ingredients of a story. These authors keep me on task, and I love them for it.
LOL, my sister is waiting for my books to become movies. Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
I do not! But that would be amazing if I did.
I love hearing about where others live and what variety neighborhoods have. What's it like where you live?
I live in an older neighborhood, where many of the residents are seniors. We have some young families too, and I’m excited to see the kids playing street hockey. Their energy adds so much vitality to the neighborhood.
I’m lucky to be within walking distance from the coffee shop, as it makes a great writing place when I need a change of scenery.
Do you have a favorite keepsake?
During my son’s year in grade one, the students held a tea party for the mothers for Mother’s Day. It was fake tea (water, delicious water) and cold cookies, but boy did I sip that tea with my pinky up as if I were one of my regency characters. Not a parent in the room had ever had water…I mean tea as luxurious as what they served that day. At the end of the tea party, my son gave me a beaded keychain he’d made. I still have it and will keep it even after the beads fall apart.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
I have a first-class appetite so never having to pay for food I don’t have to cook is the only right answer.
We love games in our house. Do you play? What games do you like?
Monopoly is my favorite board game. Every game always starts honestly, but if my husband is the banker…forget it. Capitalism has yet to meet my family when it comes to our knock-down brawl for Park Place and Boardwalk hotels.
What was your first job?
Making sandwiches at Subway. Mind you, this was over twenty years ago. Back then sandwiches were discounted and we could stuff them with as much meat as we wanted (this was before I became vegetarian but with the same appetite).
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I research as I write unless I need details to get started that give me insight into the world or background of my characters.
Reviews for an author are both a blessing and a curse at times. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
When I first started writing, I read reviews often, but as I published more books, I read them less. No author loves all their reviews. I see reviews as a space where readers communicate with other readers, and that space gets no judgment from the author side of me.
Robecca, it's been wonderful getting to know you. Before you head out on that long walk with your fur-baby, will you treat us to a peek at your latest book and where our other guests can find out more about you?
The Duke's Lesson In Love
After a disastrous love affair, Lord Gilleasbuig was content living a life outside of London’s spotlight until a series of accidents threatened to leave his estate without an heir. Lucky for him, he had a son he could claim and protect.
After all, how difficult could it be to fetch his estranged son from an orphanage with too many children to care for?
Except, the breathtaking Miss Sadie Fields, who had cared for the child since birth, was a force to be reckoned with. She was furious at Gill for shirking his duties but he was irresistibly drawn to her fire.
Determined to prove himself a good father and win Sadie’s trust, Gill offered her a chance to continue watching over her charge. When she agreed, Gill was eager to return to his boring secluded life, but danger continued to shadow him.
While dodging danger in an unconventional arrangement, a more permanent union risked disappointing his son and losing his last chance at love.
The Duke’s Lesson in Love will be Available in Kindle unlimited on July 7th
Buy Link: https://books2read.com/The-Dukes-Lesson-in-Love
More about the Author
Robecca Austin is the author of happy ever after romance stories. She enjoys crafting tales of sassy heroines and passionate heroes that have a soft center.
She writes historical romance and billionaire romance stories.
You can find her outside enjoying nature and lots of sunshine when there are no bugs. When she's not writing her next novel, she's busy battling Cystic Fibrosis and hugging family. She lives and works in Canada.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/robeccaaustin/
Historical Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/ezc8nm9z
Contemporary Newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/yd4mbvcr
A word from D. V.
Hi, everyone. Today is a special spotlight on one of my favorite people's newest release. Angel Light Angel Dark. I am about halfway through the story and let me tell you tension is high, characters are intense, and the world building fantastic. I'll be posting a review shortly. But so far Annette's newest paranormal romance it hitting all the right places.
About the Author
Originally from Baltimore, MD, Annette Miller married an Air Force man a year out of high school, getting the chance to see Germany and most of the United States. Always a fan of science fiction, fantasy, and horror novels, she didn't discover romance until her oldest son was two. Then, she couldn't get enough. Her husband retired from the military and after reading so much paranormal and seeing all the hero movies, she decided romance and superheroes went together. That's when her Angel Haven series was born and the rest, as they say, is history.
Annette has been a member of the Romance Writers of America and the New Jersey Romance Writers since 2001. She is currently the president of Writing In The Bluff,a romance writing group in Memphis, TN. She is also a member of Malice In Memphis, a mystery writers group.
Her third book, An Angel's Heart, finaled in the American Fiction Awards in July, 2018. Her novella, www.cupid, placed fourth in the International Digital Awards in October, 2017. Her fourth novel, Angel in Shadow, finaled in the American Fiction Awards in August of 2020. Her novella, Praline Dreams, place 1st in the OKRWA International Digital Awards in November 2020.
Angel Light Angel Dark
Two dimensions, two souls, one destiny.
Felissina Markhov escaped her anti-matter dimension to avoid marriage to a usurper king. Landing on Earth through a wormhole, she was taken in by the Angels superhero team. Her powers, normal for her people, make her one of the elite heroes on Earth. Since her arrival, she’s been trying to find a way back to her dimension to free her province. A traitor from her world appears and attacks her, making her time on Earth grow short.
Martin Long’s powers keep him apart from the rest of humanity. Fear has built in him as they’ve spiraled more and more out of control. When he saves a woman from an attacker, a strong attraction surges between them. However, touching her could show him a future he doesn’t want to see.
Forces are converging as the two of them are forced to fight new enemies in order to be together.
Get your copy here
Find out more about the author.
Whether I'm sitting around the campfire, the firepit, or my fireplace the best thing is being with interesting people and having stimulating conversations. Sometimes it's learning about new people and sometimes it's catching up with old friends. Today is one of the old friend days. J. Arlene is back with me today and I hope soon she'll be an old friend of yours.
Thanks so much for stopping by the fire today, J. Since we're at camp today I'm breaking out the smores. So while I gather all the ingredients why don't you begin and introduce yourself. Who you are other than your bio? What interests besides writing do you enjoy?
Thank you for having me here on Around the Campfire. However, the first question is a difficult one. It would be so much easier if someone else answered it. Looking at me from the inside, I seem to be a rather chaotic character, always racing off in some unplanned direction, then screeching to a halt in utter confusion.
I live in a small French village and, yes, I write romances. However, I also write non-fiction books about Eastern European history, therefore I do an incredible amount of research in the French national library as well as in the libraries and archives of other countries.
I’m also a contemporary artist who creates critical scenes of daily life, then puts them in little boxes. And I write Fake News — snide stories of events that never took place, gossip about inexistent people, and completely false legends. At the moment, there are some twenty or thirty of these stories on trees and walls in a village that is four kilometers from where I live. Since this other village happens to be very beautiful, many people come to visit, and as they walk through the streets, they read these tall tales. Despite their absurdity, many actually believe they are true. Several newspaper articles have been written about them, and two days ago, I was told that a writing group will be coming out in July to discuss them.
I LOVE that! It's so whimsical and sly. Who are your cohort or go to people?
I write in English in a French-speaking country. This certainly has disadvantages. Bernard, my partner doesn’t speak or read English therefore, since I use him as a sounding board for much that I write, I have to translate. Yes, I get the idea across, but it’s impossible for him to judge the style. I do have one friend, Jean Livingstone, who is a Scottish musician. She lives in quite another part of the country, but is willing to read my romance manuscripts and offer suggestions. A most invaluable critic is the author Dee S. Knight who has read several of my drafts and given me valuable suggestions that I take seriously. Otherwise, my non-fiction publisher, Katie Isbester at Claret Press is my best guide.
Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I’m a passionate reader of non-fiction. Books that have certainly touched or influenced me are all of Robert A. Rosenstone’s books as well as Charles King’s Midnight at the Pera Palace, Stephen Morris’s Black Tea, Neal Acherson’s Black Sea, and Kapka Kassabova’s Street Without a Name. These, however, are just a few of my favourites. There are so many others!
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent.
I am a fairly poor musician, but I keep honking away with great determination. I sneak into several empty local village churches with excellent acoustics — all of them are from the 13th century — with my collection of beautiful 18th century oboes, set up my music stand and puff away at Renaissance and Baroque music. Sometimes people drop by to listen. So far no one has complained, thrown me out, or hit me with rotten eggs.
LOL, I bet you are better than you are letting on. What is your neighborhood like?
I live in an incredibly dull village in the west of France. There are 400 inhabitants. There are no shops. One exciting and major local event is Mr. Bourdet pushing his wheelbarrow across the main square. Otherwise…zilch. My house, a 17th century former inn on the square, has become a museum, and it is open to the public several times during the year. This does create some (minor) flurry. Other than that, it’s back to Bourdet and his wheelbarrow for excitement.
Please give Mr. Bourdet our regards. I'm so happy you sent the picture of your house. I'll post it below for our other guests. Do you have a particular object like a piece of jewelry or a keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
When I was around twelve, my father and his friends were taken in by a very charming con man who worked hand-in-hand with an art forger. They managed to sell quite a few fake masterpieces before disappearing. Before their subterfuge was discovered, this trickster gave me a very beautiful necklace — heaven knows where it came from. It was an old European piece, with a complicated wreathing of gold leaves studded with tiny pearls, a flowery centre with a small diamond, and one long pearl droplet. How easy for me to imagine it had been worn by a princess in some dark forbidding castle. What is particularly amazing is that, despite my itinerant life — I’ve always shifted from country to country —, the necklace is still with me.
How wonderful. I'll imagine with you it was worn by some great lady. What's your worst household chore?
All household choses are anathema to me, which is why Bernard and I have a half-hearted cleaning blitz once a month. The rest of the time, things…well…they just degenerate...
Thank you for spending time around the fire with me today. Before you put more stories in boxes or pull out the oboes will you leave us a bit about your newest book and where we can find out more about you?
A Room in Blake’s Folly (published by The Wild Rose Press)
J. Arlene Culiner
If only the walls could speak…
In one hundred and fifty years, Blake's Folly, a silver boomtown notorious for its brothels, scarlet ladies, silver barons, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town. Although the old Mizpah Saloon is still in business, its upper floor is sheathed in dust. But in a room at a long corridor's end, an adventurer, a beautiful dance girl, and a rejected wife were once caught in a love triangle, and their secret has touched three generations.
About my new release, A Room in Blake’s Folly
Have you ever been in an old hotel and wanted to know its history? Perhaps because I live in a 17th century inn, I always try to imagine the people who stayed here. Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they know? What sort of lives did they live? What were their passions?
In my new book, A Room in Blake’s Folly, there are five different love stories, and all of them are centred on one back room of the old Mizpah Saloon. The first story begins in 1889 with the romance between Westley Cranston, an adventurer, and Sookie Lacey, a dance hall girl and former prostitute. But love rarely follows a straight path. Times change, life goes on, and new relationships form. By 2022, Blake’s Folly, has become a semi-ghost town of abandoned shacks and weedy dirt roads, but that almost-forgotten romance between Westley and Sookie still has the power to influence local inhabitants.
What others are saying about A Room in Blake’s Folly
Rich detail and scintillating dialogue transport the reader through the decades between 1889 and 2022 of this surprising saga. With flowing descriptive phrases (“… the walls had a yellowish hue that only time could bring,”) Culiner effectively intertwines the characters and descendants of Blake’s Folly. And although overhunting and pollution mean environmental change, the charm of this old world community remains intact. Cheers for this book!
Lisa McCombs for Readers’ Favorite
J. Arlene Culiner’s original historical novel A Room in Blake’s Folly is a delight. Through research or intuition (probably a combination of both), she manages to bring each era in Blake’s Folly to life, both via language and through period detail. The book is not exactly a romance, but rather a chain of romances. In each episode, there’s the possibility of love. Not everyone, however, finds a happy ending. Her characters are distinctive individuals, many of whom are somewhat at odds with society – outcasts, outsiders, and survivors. They are often, but not always sympathetic. A Room in Blake’s Folly is a skillfully crafted tale. I recommend it highly.
Author Lisabet Sarai
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If you wondered about the official bio
Writer, storyteller, photographer, and social critical artist, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.
Author Website: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com
Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner
Amazon Author Page : https://www.amazon.com/author/jarleneculiner-quirky-romances
Thank you for your continued support. I appreciate each of you taking the time to check-in and see wassup. Doing a bit of a happy dance here. There will be some Glamping in my immediate future after a dry spell since we returned from Florida. Huzzah! I'll be camping in Pennsylvania near my grands. I haven't seen them for a while and can't wait. Speaking of family, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to my niece Lindsey. She and her fiancé Fred will be tying the knot this fall.
And, last but not least, The Wild Rose Press has offered me another contract for a book similar to Rainbow Sprinkles. Next spring Sophia's Magic Beans will take us back to Lake Unami for a sweet treat about a single mom, her adorable daughter, and a man who's lost his way. With the help of some old friends you've met, a guardian angel and two Bassett Hounds I can't wait to see it on your shelves.
Now until next time
“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flowers explodes, and every sunset is different.” ~ John Steinbeck
So I turned another year older this weekend and I'm running with that as my excuse. Pat's visit was supposed to be on Saturday. But all good things are worth waiting for and I believe you'll be thrilled to meet today's guest.
Welcome, Patricia. I'm so glad you joined us today. While I preform my hostess duties, why don't you start and tell the others about what interests you enjoy.
I read historical fiction. Having a PhD with a minor in American history, My Dear Hamilton is one of my favorites. My mother was a Latin teacher, and my sister and I grew up on the Roman and Greek myths—so it’s not surprising that I also love novels based on mythology. Madeline Miller’s Circe is one of my current favorites. I also enjoy memoirs (Tara Westover‘s Educated, Harry Belafonte’s My Song), and books about nature (anything by Janisse Ray).Finally, as a writer of romance, I still love such classics as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and, yes, Gone with the Wind.
As for hobbies, I’ve always loved photography, and whenever I travel, a camera is usually in my hand or hanging on a strap around my neck. I have to admit that lately, my phone seems a lot easier than my Nikon to carry around!
My DH and I also are history buffs who love to travel and I agree about the phone Speaking of Pete he's an amazing cheerleader for me. Who is your support system?
My sister Dorothy Altman and my friend Jane Marston are the first persons I sent drafts of my current novels to. Both are talented writers themselves and give excellent advice. Being fellow English teachers, they also are my first editors as well. Actually, my sister and I have served each other in this role since childhood. We remember excitedly waiting for the other one to finish typing the latest page of the current novel or story she was writing to see what was going to happen next .
I have a sister named Dorothy too! Do you have any particular books or authors who are your inspiration?
Almost anything I read shapes me and my work in some way, but here I’ll talk about two novels that made think more about the mysterious process of writing fiction. In Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, the main character, writer-researcher Lyman Ward, alternates between telling his own story and the biography of his grandmother, and we soon realize we are seeing not the actual life of the grandmother, but Ward’s very personal interpretation of her. Similarly, in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Quentin Compson and his friend Shreve imaginatively recreate the figures Charles Bon and Henry Sutpen—but at the same time they (I think) shape these figures with their own stories. To me, the two novels suggest the inescapable biographical element of the magical process of creating fiction.
I'm sorry to say I haven't read either of those books. Stegner's sounds extremely intriguing. You are a talented multi published author. Do you have any other fun or outrageous talent?
I type very fast with two fingers. I started typing that way as a child on my father’s typewriter and have never been able to move beyond that. My husband, who types properly, with all his fingers, always is amazed I type so fast. When we were in graduate school writing our dissertations in our separate offices, he would sit there hearing me clatter away on my old manual typewriter and think, “She’s going to finish her dissertation first.”
So people we meet and books we read help shape us as authors. I believe our surroundings do as well. What is your neighborhood like? What makes it special?
My husband I have lived in our old (1883) house on Dearing Street in Athens, Georgia, since 1996. Our “next door neighbor” is known as The Tree That Owns Itself, a sizeable white oak with eight feet of land around it that legend says are its property. It was grown from an acorn from the magnificent old tree which nineteenth-century a Dearing Street resident supposedly so loved that sometime between 1820 and 1832 he willed to it that eight feet of land. Old postcards of that tree (by then 100’ high) proclaim in capital letters, “THE ONLY TREE IN THE WORLD THAT OWNS ITSELF”—with sometimes a corner of our house showing on the edge of the picture. Today’s tree, renowned like its parent, is visited every day by tourists, students, and walkers, who often ask us to take their picture while they stand in front of it.
That is an amazing story. Trees hold history. I have a huge maple in my yard that my mother in law planted. and I think one of the most memorable trees I've seen is the Burnside Sycamore the witness tree at Antietam. What is your favorite T-shirt with graphic or meme
My favorite sweatshirt, a warm hooded navy blue one, was given to me by my sister-in-law. Emblazoned across the front in large letters it says, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my next novel.”
Love it! Who is the most interesting person you’ve recently read about?
I recently read Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song. I was fascinated not only by the recounting of his amazing meteoric rise as an iconic singer (“Day-O,” “Jamaica Farewell,” “Scarlet Ribbons”), but by the descriptions of the prejudice he encountered, the way he broke many racial barriers, and his key role in the civil rights movement.
We all start somewhere, what was your first job?
For two summers I worked in in a glove factory in my hometown of Johnstown, New York doing something called “blackedging.” The black leather used in making many gloves had a white underside, and when the fingers were stitched, that underside showed at the edges. My job, along with several other women, was to sit at a table with a brush and jar of black dye and paint those white edges to match the rest of the glove.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
The total eclipse of the sun in 2017.
LOL, now I have Bonnie Tyler in my head. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
In writing romantic suspense, I’ve had to look up information on legal matters, guns and police work, death and dying, physical and mental conditions, and even on details like what cell phones were like in 2009, the year my current novel, The Student in Classroom 6, takes place. I mostly do research not before writing the book, but during the writing process, as questions come up.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Often I just pick a name out of the air. A couple of times I discovered such a name came from subconscious memories. In The Student in Classroom 6, I’d named the fictional head of the University English department "Dr. Flatt." My editor said he needed to have a first name, and I randomly chose the name "William." It seemed to fit and had a nice ring. I didn't think of a friend from years past with the last name Flatt, whom I’d always thought of as “Bill.” When I realized what I’d done, I wrote to him and confessed. To my relief he replied, “It is an honor to have a character in your novel named for me.”
Patricia, thank you for being such an engaging guest around my fire. Before you head out, please let our other guest know where they can find out more about you and pretty please a peek into your book? And to our other guests, make sure you scoot to the end and see the picture of Patricia and her special friend.
The Student in Classroom 6
Although a faculty member has been killed on campus and the murderer is still at large, English instructor Katherine Holiday never suspects the criminal might be one of her students. In fact, there’s a man in her adult evening class she wishes she could know better.
Seeing no need for a college degree, Tyler McHenry, a partner in his father’s successful tree service, writes fiction for his own pleasure. No one at the University needs to know his personal reasons for enrolling in a first-year composition course. Still, he finds himself fascinated by the pretty teacher, who believes his writing should be published.
What others are saying.
“…With a killer on the loose and her job on the line, Katherine Holiday knows better than to act on her feelings for the sexy, intelligent student in the back of her college classroom. But the attraction is too strong to ignore. The Student in Classroom Six is a fast-paced romance with a dangerous edge that is easy to read and hard to put down…” Lori Duffy Foster, author, Lisa Jamison Mystery Series
The novel provides an excellent portrayal of a college town, classroom teaching, romantic love, the conflict of parental dreams and reality, and the death of a parent. The possibility of murder lurks. But who is the murderer?— goodreads review
SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS
Good Morning and Happy last day of May. Yesterday was my birthday! It was the 34th anniversary of my 29th birthday. Growing up I always thought the Memorial Day parades were in my honor. 'Twas a fantasy you see. And I do love my fantasy books. That said, it's a pleasure to welcome a new-to-me author to my blog. I love getting to know new authors and hope you do too!
Helen, thank you so much for joining us today. While I pour us a cuppa, why don't you start and tell us all who you are other than your official bio?
Let me think. Most of my readers don’t know that I originally wanted to be a pilot and even studied for a pilot’s license. However, back then women in the right seat, let alone the captain’s chair, were a rarity so I gave up that dream. I have background in two quite different areas: history and computer science. I’ve participated in archaeological digs and directed a local history museum. Stepping out of my comfort zone was attending historical re-enactments in period costume and riding in a World War II-era jeep as part of a convoy of military vehicles. For the one I wore a long skirt and hid more modern items such as camera and keys in a wicker basket. For the other, I was in olive drab fatigues.
My DH, Pete, would love to sit and talk history with you. He adores reenactments and even thought about joining a group at one time. What other interests besides writing do you enjoy? For instance, what do you read or hobbies you have?
I've dabbled in various types of handcrafts over the years. Painting and photography also sneaked in, especially during my time as a correspondent when I had to provide the photographic images to accompany the articles. Time restrictions and arthritis have reduced the amount of time devoted to knitting, crocheting and beading, as has the amount of time, effort, and energy given to my role as a caregiver. I don’t read while I am writing. When I do read, science fiction and fantasy fill my to-be-read pile.
I totally get that. I used to crochet, sketch, and paint. My hand strength and co-ordination are not the same. Who is your network or support system?
I have been fortunate to have a supportive family. One shares her time and talent as a proofreader. A story I love doesn’t pertain to my fiction, but to my non-fiction. When my mother-in-law walked around town shopping or running errands, she carried one of my local histories in her purse with the cover showing. She used the opportunity as friends and even more than a few strangers asked about the book to sell them one.
For many years, Liberty State Fiction Writers, both as a group and their conference, provided writing support, and education. In-person writing groups are not available where I currently live. Either their genre doesn’t match mine or their membership costs are outside the budget. Online groups help fill the gap with Marketing for Romance Writers among a short list of favorites. A fellow author and editor, Judy Griffith Gill was a great support and helped my writing go to a new level.
First, your MIL sounds wonderful. I, too, have found a fantastic online community. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
There is a special love of Anne McCaffrey, especially her Talents Universe series. Barbara Hambly and Katherine Kurtz influenced my writing with their sharing of magic. E. E. Doc Smith and Louis L’Amor pulled me in with their storytelling mastery.
Anne McCaffrey has to be in my tops list too. What is your neighborhood like? Are there any places you frequent? What makes them special?
I live in what is technically a city, but it has a small town feel. A grocery store, hardware store, and two parks are all within walking distance of my house. In a change from my previous home of thirty years, we have a large yard with enough trees to keep the cardinals, chickadees, and hummingbirds happy all year long. Flags line the main streets for Memorial and Veteran Days. An autumn festival brings out local crafters and civic organizations for a fun day. December brings an event that would not even be thought of in our previous town. Being in a more southerly clime, the weather is warm enough to be out after dark, but cool enough to give a holiday feel for the Christmas Parade.
It sounds wonderful. That hometown feel in a larger city is difficult to balance. I hate dusting. What's your worst household chore?
Doing dishes. Cooking wouldn’t be too bad if dirty pots and pans didn’t come with it.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
While a few sites that require travel by air or train are on my bucket list, I would trade Hawaii and the British Isles for being able to eat out anywhere I wish for free. That said, I would have to keep my gym membership to get rid of the extra weight.
LOL maybe I should add that to the question. Eat free and not gain an ounce. What was your first job?
If you don’t count being paid during baling season on the family farm, my first job was working candling eggs at a neighboring farm.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
Not counting hurricanes, or their evil twin Superstorm Sandy, the most amazing natural thing I’ve seen is Niagara Falls.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Most of the research for FIRE AND AMULET involved collecting images to help me visualize the settings such as Merlin’s Well below Tintagel Castle for Trelleir’s secret glen. Fingal’s Cave on the Island of Staffa, Scotland served as inspiration for the hatching cave. Plotting the storyline was another matter. As a rule, I am more of a plotter than a pantser. A detailed storyline from start to finish never happens. The creation of scene storyboards of various detail from bullet points to full draft invariably gives way to the characters. At that point the storyboard format shifts into full-fledged draft.
Interesting. How do you select the names of your characters?
Some characters tell me their names right away. Others play coy and make me hunt them among the lists of Gaelic (or whatever nationality and culture the story is about) names or appropriate dictionaries until I see one that fits. And although it is customary for fiction to state “any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental” that may not be totally true. I’ve reached the stage in life where my caregiving responsibilities encompass up to four generations. To help engender the love of reading in the younger ones, I’ve taken their names and modified them, either by translation into another language or modifying the spelling. This does cause a problem, not with the named, but their parents. Not everyone can appear in every book and the clan keeps growing. The newest just made his appearance a scant three months ago.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The most difficult part of FIRE AND AMULET to write involved Trelleir’s secret. The reader had to be told so they knew early on. My problem came when the secret was revealed to Deneas. How would she react? Her actions had to be realistic, but the betrayal couldn’t disrupt the desired ending.
Intriguing. Helen, thanks so much for being my guest Around The Fire today. Before you head out, will you please leave some extra peeks into your book and where readers can find you?
Fire And Amulet
Helen B. Henderson
Through the power of love, eyes can see what magic obscures
Trelleir is a true dragon whose magic allows him to take on human form. The last of his kind, he longs for companionship. However, his only friend is not only a human female, but a slayer. Sworn to kill all dragons, including him.
Summoned by the village council, Deneas is sent on a quest to kill any and all dragons, and cannot return without proof of her success. Finding the mythical creature and avoiding its deadly talons and fire are not her only problems.
Another slayer follows with orders to kill her. As she retraces her slain mother's footsteps, she learns the world is not what it seems.
The pull of someone seeking him tore Trelleir from his somber reflections. Only one person could be the source of the summoning, Deneas.
He had protected her since her birth when the non-verbal thoughts of the babe registered as little more than faint cries. Now that she had reached adulthood the mental connection between them increased to the point where he swore he could hear her thoughts.
He pictured her in his mind’s eye, sitting on the rock wall he and Adais had built as a border around her private garden.
Deneas’ face was turned towards the heavens.
He knew she searched for a dragon. The urge to leap into the darkness, to fly to her, tore at his control.
“Go to her,” whispered the wind.
What others are saying.
5 Stars A Brilliant Adventure What a grand adventure and hopefully the start of a new series. The characters are interesting and well motivated. Enjoyed every word of the story and hated to reach the ending. Well written and a great fantasy concept.
Get your copy today!
Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/fire-and-amulet-helenhenderson/1141304944
Angus Robertson https://www.angusrobertson.com.au/ebooks/fire-and-amulet-helenhenderson/p/9780228620952
More Sites at Books2Read https://books2read.com/fire-and-amulet/
More about the author.
Although the author of several local histories, and numerous articles on the topics of American and military history, antiques and collectibles, Henderson’s first love is fiction.
Her work in the museum and history fields enables a special insight into creating fantasy worlds. The descendent of a coal-miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer, her writing reflects the contrasts of her heritage as well as that of her Gemini sign.
Her stories cross genres from historical westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of the Dragshi Chronicles and The Windmaster Novels.
In her books, she invites you to join her on travels through the stars, or among fantasy worlds of the imagination.
Find her on online at:
Excerpts of her work, writing tips, thoughts on the writing life, and information on new releases can be found at https://helenhenderson-author.blogspot.com.
Released APRIL 2022 by BWL Publishing
COVER ARTIST – Michelle Lee, Stardust Creations
Hi, everyone! I'm so glad you stopped by. Guess who today's guest it? ME! I'm commandeering my blog today because there's so much going on in the next few months. From video chats to personal appearances D.V. is going to be like the French-Canadian mouse who constantly steals food and is known for his catchphrase, "Savoir-Faire eez everywhere ... Any of you of a certain age will get the reference, the rest, you know what to do, google it.
I am excited to report that Agent Sam Carter And The Mystery At Branch Lake is not only free for five days, it's ranking #5, #13, and #26 in several categories. You can grab a copy today. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0785LCHWH/
You already know Jazz House is coming out August 31st. When Rock House Grill and Rainbow Sprinkles released we were in the middle of a pandemic. My party was held outdoors both in person and virtual on Facebook and I hope to do that again on Thursday September 1st. There will be games, drawings, and trivia. Stay tuned for details.
So, what else is happening? Not much except I'm working on the Shield-Mates series. Felice has been reedited and received a new cover. She'll be re-released in September 2022 and in November Kisa the second book will debut. Then in 2023 the next two Shield-Mates will be introduced. Orsolo and Rhian. I can't wait.
This summer and fall, I have several appearances. Check the information below and mark your calendars. I hope to see you there.
You may also notice on my welcome page the Agent Sam Carter Mysteries have received an update too! Shh, don't tell but there will be a new story for Sam and company as well. As that gets closer I'll fill you in on the details so don't forget to signup for my monthly email at https://mailchi.mp/18125bb60cc5/dv-stones-news-bulletin
If this isn't enough I'm also working on two other projects. One for my publisher titled Sophia's Magic Beans and second and independent book in collaboration with other authors. I'll be talking about that soon but I'm really excited to be stepping into a historical action adventure romance.
Until next time remember...
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Dr. Seuss (American children’s author, political cartoonist, illustrator, poet, animator, and filmmaker)
Hi everyone and welcome to my fire. It was a great weekend. Pete and I celebrated our 28th Anniversary! I have spent almost half my life with this man and wouldn't trade it for anything. If you know us, we're not fancy people. To celebrate we went prowling about Upstate NY visiting antique shops and markets. I bought some gorgeous mushrooms among other things at https://auntieelsfarmmarket.com/ and enjoyed a Shepherd's Pie lunch at http://www.curleyscorner.com/ Well enough about me I have to share that I am a very visual person. I love doing graphics and visiting art museums.
Welcome, Linda. Thanks for sharing my fire today. I have to tell you the first time I saw this book cover I was enthralled. Bridges is definitely on my To Be Read list. Whoever said you can't judge a book by its cover wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer. Most times you can. So while I grab us a couple of cups of coffee, will you tell our other fire guests who you are other than your bio?
I’m still the skinny little girl who liked to look things up in the encyclopedia and would rather read than eat and the teenager who had a new story idea every day. My years as a reference librarian honed my research skills, and reading book reviews for fiction orders helped shape my idea of what a novel should be.
Remember those big tomes, the encyclopedia? I was so proud to own a set. What interests besides writing do you enjoy? For instance, what do you read or hobbies you have?
I love to travel and have been to 48 states—just Connecticut and Rhode Island to go—and three foreign countries. I particularly like taking road trips with my two sisters and my oldest niece, who are the best traveling companions ever. We’ve been slowed down a bit by the pandemic but did manage some interesting times in the state of Washington last fall. I also like to play Scrabble, and I’m not so much really good at it as very, very lucky. I like to read a variety of genres and subjects and have a long TBR list. Although fiction will always be my first love, I enjoy good writing of every kind, and lately I’ve been reading a lot of memoirs.
We have a sticker map on our camper and are filling in the states. Who is your network or support system?
My sisters were my first readers and still support my writing. I also have a friend, a former colleague, with whom I began a regular correspondence seven years ago, and she has read a lot of my work and gives me the best feedback I’ve ever had. Fortunately, she likes my jokes!
My sis is my best bud too. Who or what books or authors are your inspiration?
I loved Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series, which I began reading in junior high school, and I can see echoes of her style in my work. Another early influence was my older sister, who wrote the kind of stories I wanted to write while I was still penning corny, cliched Westerns. I greatly admire Joyce Carol Oates and would like to be more like her, and recently I was blown away by Peter Rock’s My Abandonment.
Do you have any fun or outrageous talent?
It probably isn’t much fun for anyone else, but I can recite all of the Academy Award best picture winners, all 94 and counting.
LOL, you're like the Rain Man for movies. Tell me, what is your neighborhood like?
I live in a very eclectic neighborhood of mostly quiet residential streets. It’s a great place for a morning walk. Two of my walking partners have been on the injured list, but I’ve had some wonderful ambulatory conversations with a friend and neighbor who is of Indian ancestry and grew up in Fiji. Although it’s nice and quiet here, we are only a block away from a main thoroughfare, so it’s very convenient too. I also like hanging out in historic Balboa Park with its variety of gardens and museums. My favorite restaurant is Casa de Pico, especially the grilled fish tacos and a drink called a California Freeze.
It sounds wonderful. What is your favorite mug?
I have a mug that a friend gave me, white with a very pretty blue inside and on the handles, and the words “I WRITE What’s your Superpower?” I also like the one that shows cows “in the reading moo-oo-d.”
Do you have a favorite childhood book or writing that inspired you to become an author?
Half Magic by Edward Eager was a big favorite. My mother got it for me through the Children’s Book of the Month Club when I was in fourth grade, and I read it enough times that I can still recite the first few pages by heart (“It began one summer about thirty years ago and it happened to four children...”). I was inspired to become an author or “book maker” long before that, as soon as I figured out that somebody created the words I was reading. I dedicated one of my books to “Dick and Jane, who first ignited my passion for the written word.”
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
Chocolate fudge layer cake with dark chocolate fudge frosting! With a big glass of cold milk.
What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?
My older sister had me convinced that she spent her nights at the Western Rangers Camp and the letters I received from one of the rangers, always signed Che-e-e-e-e-rio, were genuine.
That's hysterical. What was your first job?
Watching a baby while his mother was hanging clothes on the clothesline in the backyard. I was four years old, and I earned a whole dime.
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
Logical thinking and how to evaluate sources of information. Algebra teaches logic, but seems to have fallen out of favor, even with math teachers.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
The calving of glaciers from the deck of a cruise ship in Alaska’s Inland Passage.
Linda, thank you so much for sharing my fire. Before you head out on your next adventure will you tell us more about your new release and where we can get more information about both Bridges and you?
After four romantic suspense titles, this one is an old-fashioned, slow-burning sweet romance, and the only body that turns up is at the grandfather’s funeral!
In 1963, Neil Vincent, a middle-aged World War II veteran and “Christian atheist,” is working at Westfield Court as a chauffeur. He spends most of his spare time reading. Mary Claire DeWinter is a young, blind Catholic college student and reluctant heiress. To secure her inheritance, she has to marry within a year, and her aunt is pressuring her to marry a rich man who teased and bullied her when she was a child. Neil and Mary Claire shouldn’t even be friends, but the gulf between them is bridged by a shared love of books. Can they cross the bridge to more?
Here's what others are saying
“Their friendship and budding relationship were written wonderfully…Overall, the story was sweet, emotional, and touching as both Neil and Mary Claire overcome the bridges standing between them.” – Still Moments Magazine
Get your copy today!
Want to know more about the author?
Amazon Author Page
Your Host D.V. Stone
Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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