Happy 4th of July Saturday, Campers! So crack open the beverage of choice, mine is coffee right now, and sit for a spell. This is not your usual Welcome To The Campfire blog. This is my first Saturday of the month take over. So heeeeere's Donna. Thank you Ed McMahon. If you don't get the reference, google is your friend. If you do, then comment below. Don't cheat. If you comment with the correct answer, I'll draw a name and the winner will get an Ebook of Rainbow Sprinkles.
On the camping front as you may have read, we visited the beautiful state of Kentucky in May. June we were dry docked because 2Hoots, my 5th Wheel was in the shop. July is here and I've been doing some driveway camping. Yes I love my trailer that much. I'm hosting a party in her this week, but more of that later. Near the end of July we're heading to one of my favorite campgrounds, http://www.camptaylor.com/ One of the best parts of it is the Lakota Wolf Preserve https://www.lakotawolf.com/ at night you can hear the howls.
Then stars a whirlwind of trips. We'll be hosting friends at another close by camp https://koa.com/campgrounds/delaware-water-gap/ Then visiting with the Grands at https://koa.com/campgrounds/honesdale-pocono/ You know then September is right around the corner and so is https://campthegreatdivide.com/ and that's where you find the Fork in the Road. Literally.
If you've been keeping up with me, you may already know my sweet husband, Pete, retired in June. We're celebrating with a 2 week road trip, including Niagara Falls and then down along the coast of New England. I can't wait! Keep an eye out for my RV Bunch flag. Here's a couple of pictures from last years trips including the Fork.
So, as I mentioned I'm hosting a party in the camper. It's Rainbow Sprinkles RELEASE DAY on July 8th. And since COVID-19 shut me down for Rock House Grill's release We'll be celebrating both live and virtually on Facebook. Don't worry we'll be careful with face covering and distancing. I hope you can join me. There will be prizes, games, and giveaways. My inspiration for Rock House Grill's character John has agreed to join us and be interviewed around the campfire. Here's a fun video invitation I created https://youtu.be/VwXbA5aq1eU If you're interested in joining us for the party click here
If you like camping, I'm happy to report that fans of Agent Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake will get more of Agent Sam, Sheriff Holly, Uncle Martin, and now Aunt Dee. The group is now in New Jersey. Their camping vacation takes a turn into another G.A.S.P. case to solve. So stay tuned for a Fall release of Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery of High Pointe Tower.
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Welcome to the Campfire Blog Peek Through the Window
Other Books by
D. V. Stone
Rock House Grill
One man’s choices. One woman’s Impact
Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar
One foolish thought. One brutal act. Instead of a peaceful alliance––war.
Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake
A Mid-grade paranormal
I'm excited about today's guest. However, before we settle around the campfire, I have some news for you. Rainbow Sprinkles release is right around the corner. Since I didn't have a release party for Rock House I'm planning on celebrating the two. So, on July 8th at 7 pm I am having a real at my house, as well as a virtual party on Facebook. I would love for you to join us. There will be giveaways, games, and a special guest interview with my friend Andy who was the inspirations for John, a character in Rock House Grill, as well as my sister to who Rainbow Sprinkles is dedicated. I hope you can join me and my friends. Here's the linkhttps://www.facebook.com/375747643036438 I hope to see you there.
Now, let go of what's distracting you. Deep breath in. Smell the fire? Let go of your worries and troubles for a bit. Let your imagination go. Remember summers as a kid? Outside cooking? The sounds of children playing? Splash! Someone just canon-balled into the lake. Hear the birds? Come on. Have a seat around the fire and relax. That's what the campfire is for.
Today I’m welcoming Sadira Stone to the Campfire. Sadira and I are both in the Rose Garden of Wild Rose Press. We jokingly call each other cousin. (Stone and Stone, you get it) What can I get you? The campfire pantry and fridge is like Hemione Grangers bag, it has everything.
I’d love a coffee laced with Kahlua and a S’more!
I love Kahlua! So, tada! Here you go. Tell us have you ever camped. Where and what was your experience? Tent, camper, RV? Or if not, what’s your greatest outdoor adventures? This could be a good or bad experience.
I did lots of camping in France during the twenty-seven years I lived in Germany. French camping is a very civilized affair: grass plots separated by hedges, with a camp shop and café where you can get an adult beverage and crispy pommes frîtes (fries) while watching the kids play mini-golf or splash in the pool. My favorite camping trips were in the Loire Valley, where everyone who was anyone built a château during the Renaissance. Lots of wineries there, and the best farmers’ markets!
Ahh, that sounds wonderful. We are not rustic campers any longer. Wineries are usually in our itinerary wherever we travel. Let's talk about something a bit serious for a moment. How have you been handling events of the recent pandemic? Has you writing been affected? To what extent?
I’m finding it hard to concentrate. Whereas B.C. (before Covid-19) I could write 2,000 to 3,000 words on a good day, now it’s a good day if I pass 1,000 words.
Many of us are struggling with the same issue. Often I feel like Doug from the movie Up. Squirrel! It's good to have others to talk and commiserate with. Please tell us a little about your project.
My publisher, The Wild Rose Press, put out a call for beachy summer reads involving ice cream. I immediately remembered a scene from Würzburg, Germany. There’s a lovely formal garden behind the Baroque palace, and in summer an older Italian gentleman sold gelato there. He’d always greet my daughter and me with a hearty “Ciao, bella!”
That was the genesis for Gelato Surprise, a steamy contemporary romance novella about a divorced mom who must spend her annual beach vacation alone for the first time—after her dastardly ex whisks the kids away on a Disneyland trip, leaving her stuck with the full cost of their rental in a (fictional) kitschy Washington State beach town. In her favorite gelato shop, she meets the owner’s Bellissimo nephew, and…Mamma mia! The trouble is, she’s 42 and must return to her suburban drudgery. He’s 31 and has only two weeks to convince her that their age difference doesn’t matter, and the spark they share is so much more than a summer fling.
The One Scoop or Two is a wonderful series. I'm a firm believer in age doesn't matter as long a both are adults and there is a connection. My hubby is a younger than me. Do you have a tagline or life motto?
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here, we might as well dance.
One of my favorite songs is by John Michael Montgomery called Life's a Dance. You've several titles under your belt. What kind of tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others?
When it’s time for your final edit/proofread, print out your manuscript, grab some pencils, and go read it aloud in a totally different setting from where you usually work. I like to proofread outdoors, and the neighbors or park-goers get to listen to me reading dramatically, with different voices for each character. Doing this, I find problems I never would have noticed on my computer screen. It’s fun too!
That's great advice. Every time I get my manuscript back from my editor Elf, she tells me READ IT OUT LOUD.
Now the fun questions.
Chicken Shwarma on the grill:
Marinate boneless, skinless chicken thighs for at least a few hours in lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt, pepper, ground cumin, paprika, a little turmeric, a pinch of cinnamon, and red pepper flakes to taste. Throw in some thickly-sliced red onion too. Grill, then slice and serve with the usual kebab fixings: pita bread, tahini sauce or yogurt-garlic sauce, chopped cucumber & tomato, olives, chopped parsley, feta cheese, hummus, harissa, etc. Also good on rice.
My goodness, that sounds wonderful. You know I've never cooked with tumeric and hear wonderful things about it. I'll have to add it to my spice rack. Sadira, thanks for being part of the Campfire. Please leave us some information about you and you book.
Forty-two-year-old divorcée Danielle Peters ends up alone on her family's annual beach vacation. Maybe time to herself is exactly what she needs. That and gelato from her favorite ice cream shop. But when the owner's intoxicating, young nephew offers more than sweet treats, she's tempted to indulge in a hot, summer fling before returning home.
Thirty-one-year-old Matteo Verducci craved a fresh start to mend his broken heart, and he's found almost perfection in Ocean View, where he scoops gelato by day and crafts furniture by night. But when a sexy older woman stops to sample his wares—Mamma mia! He only has two weeks to convince her their passion is more than a delicious surprise.
Buy Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Apple Books Kobo Google Play Books
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira's been spinning steamy tales in her head. But it wasn't until 2017 that she tried her hand at writing one. Now she's a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.
Today I’m welcoming Gayle Irwin to the Campfire. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine? The camp fridge is like the Star Ship Enterprise, you speak it, you get it.
Today, I feel like a glass of Pinot Grigio – it’s a warm Wyoming day!
Pinot is one of my favorites. Let’s pop that cork. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
My parents and I camped often when I was a child. Dad invested in a pickup truck and over-the-cab camper after we tried tent camping when I was three and four years old. The end of sleeping on the ground came after a major rainstorm flooded the tent. Now, I’m more into “glamping” – staying at the cabin my husband and I own or staying in cabins in other settings, such as around Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks or other places we enjoy visiting, including Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah. Today, I don’t camp very often – but my husband and I are blessed to own a cabin on some forested acres in the mountains of Wyoming. We use a woodstove for the chilly nights, and the flames from the fire not only warm my physical body, but also my heart and mind. Hearths and campfires play important roles in my romance novels, Rescue Road, released last fall, and Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, which released in May 2020.
Campfires – I grew up with them. During my childhood years, my parents and I camped every summer! Whether locally in Iowa or on major vacations out-of-state and into Canada, camping and campfires were a significant part of my world.
Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
Yes, and you can see that scene on the cover. Finding Love at Compassion Ranch is the story of Erin and Mike, who knew each other in high school. They haven’t seen one another since, which is more than 30 years. Both lost their spouses and after they connect once again at Compassion Ranch, which is a sanctuary for former research animals, sparks ignite. This is a second-chance romance story, and of course the animals at the sanctuary also receive a second chance – in fact, Erin ends up adopting two cats (I put that in specifically when I decided to release the book around June 1; June is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month). Both books, Rescue Road, which released last year and is the first book in this line I call the Pet Rescue Romance series, and Finding Love at Compassion Ranch, are clean, contemporary western romances.
Rescue is a passion of mine. All my furbies have been adopted. My doggo, Hali came to us last year from a rescue run out of Mississippi. Do you have a tagline?
A ranch like no other …
For some authors like me the time spent in a manuscript is quite extensive. How about you? How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Whereas Rescue Road took a few years to complete because I changed ideas mid-stream, Compassion Ranch only took me three months to write because I knew the direction I wanted to go after Rescue Road released. My primary female character, Erin, is a secondary character from Rescue Road; she’s the sister of that book’s primary character. The story takes place five years after the end of the first book. Erin has lost her husband and has been visiting her sister in Montana. While there, she learns of Compassion Ranch, a sanctuary for former research animals, and she decides to volunteer in route to her home in Florida. The story is based on an actual place called Kindness Ranch, located in eastern Wyoming (I place the sanctuary in western Wyoming near Yellowstone National Park, as I’ve planned for the first four books in the series to be set in that area). My husband and I have visited and stayed at Kindness Ranch, and it’s one of the animal rescue organizations I support financially with my book sales. I wanted to highlight the unique and incredible work done there while creating a second-chance romance story.
What a inspiring story, Gayle. Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out. www.kindnessranch.org/ I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I’m working on a Christmas novella for the series titled In the Shadow of Mount Moran, taken from the name of one of mountains in the Teton range of western Wyoming near Grand Teton National Park. Again, I’m using a secondary character (very secondary!) from Rescue Road, a woman named Rachel who rescues dogs, and I’m placing her at a dude ranch during the holiday season where she embarks upon adventures such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. After her 20-year marriage dissolves due to her husband’s infidelity, she seeks refuge in the winter wonderland near Grand Teton National Park where she meets a tour guide and finds a lost dog. After all, it is a pet rescue romance!
Life Hacks for Authors. Gayle, do you have any tips, tricks or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
I’ve started doing Facebook Live readings. Due to book event cancellations, like Wild Deadwood Reads in South Dakota (I had planned to go there this month for the first time but because of COVID-19 the event cancelled) and bookstores not having author signings, I’m taking to online readings and events. I plan to host my next one, which I’m calling “Visit Yellowstone Virtually with Author Gayle M. Irwin” on Monday evening, June 29 at 7 pm Mountain time. I find these readings fun and I love to introduce people to my work through this medium!
Also, connect with other writers whether online or through a local writer’s group. This is a great way to bounce ideas off other people and receive feedback on your work. Sometimes you may even glean a new idea for a chapter or scene. That happened to me with Finding Love at Compassion Ranch – because of another writer’s suggestion, I incorporated horse therapy into Erin’s healing process, something I never thought of before my friend suggested the idea.
Those are great ideas! I'm definitely going to check it out on the 29th. Please shoot me an email with the link the day of so I can share on my social media. Now on to the fun questions
Gayle, thank you so much not only for joining us today but for the important rescue work you're part of. Please let us know where we can find your books and learn more about you and your passion for animals.
Here’s a campfire scene excerpt from that story:
That evening, Mike and Erin rode horses into the high pasture. Shadow tagged beside Cisco, who carried two saddlebags. Their dinner was packed on one side, consisting of baked chicken, roasted zucchini, and cucumber salad. Mike also had slipped in a bottle of Pinot Grigio and utensils, along with stoneware dishes and glasses, all wrapped in cloth napkins. A blanket awaited in the other saddlebag for comfort while sitting on the ground.
A fire crackled amid the ring of rocks Mike had gathered. As Erin sat next to him, gazing upon the meadow, warmth enveloped her. The horses stood nearby, munching on grass. Shadow lay to her right. The blaze took the chill from the late summer evening, but Mike’s presence, with his arm draped across her shoulder, also warmed her physically and emotionally. The meal and wine filled her stomach as well as her heart and mind. Erin realized she hadn’t felt this relaxed and comfortable in more than a year, since Daniel’s diagnosis. Now, here she was, in a beautiful part of the world amid an animal rescue sanctuary, doing positive work and experiencing the love of a kind, caring man.
Mike’s whisper close to her ear disrupted her thoughts.
She looked at him and then in the direction on which he focused his eyes. A herd of ten elk, cows, and calves captured her attention. Her eyes widened as she inhaled deeply.
“Oh, wow!” she whispered.
Shadow responded either to their voices or to the smell of the animals, for she suddenly sat up.
“Easy, girl,” Mike said in a low, but firm tone. “Stay.”
Erin captured the dog’s leash, affixed to her red collar, in her hand.
“Thanks,” Mike acknowledged, still speaking in a soft voice. “We’re seeing females with their young. The males will start coming out, and they will be bugling soon.”
“What does that mean?” Erin asked in a quiet voice.
“Usually in early September the bulls, male elk, come into what’s known as the rut – the mating season. They make this incredible noise, called a bugle, that announces to other bulls it’s time to fight for females. It’s an amazing sound and an incredible experience to witness.”
“I’d love to see that sometime.”
Mike’s gaze turned to her. “Whenever you want to come back in September, I’ll bring you back up here, and we’ll do just that.”
She smiled and snuggled into his shoulder. After a quick pat to Shadow’s head, Erin returned her gaze to the majestic wild creatures. A contented, soft sigh escaped, and she felt Mike’s embrace tighten around her.
And here’s an outdoor scene from Rescue Road:
Rhiann sat across from Levi at a bistro-style table. She marveled at how he arranged this so quickly—candlelight, a bottle of Pinot Grigio, Italian food, table and chairs, white tablecloth. The nearby stream hummed a melody while the stars and full harvest moon cascaded a natural chandelier. Her ankle-length denim skirt, the three-quarter-sleeve-length blue and green blouse overlaid with a cobalt cardigan helped keep the night chill at bay.
She looked at Levi dressed in black jeans that hugged his frame, a red long-sleeved shirt with a black and silver bolo at the collar, and a woolen black and gray jacket. Stylish, rugged, and handsome, Rhiann thought, admiring Levi for the hundredth time tonight. Thoughtful, kind, romantic, genuine—how did I get so lucky? I wouldn’t trade this for any evening with Dallas Patterson, and I’m thankful I didn’t.
She smiled. He must have noticed, for she heard him say, “Are you enjoying yourself?”
“How could I not?” she responded, looking into his eyes. “You did all of this for me.”
“For us,” he said, his hand enfolding hers. “We met here. I thought it would be nice to come back, but in a special way. And we have a dog, a different one, but one to help bridge the memory of three weeks ago.”
She watched him look down at Jax, laying on a blanket at their feet. Rhiann shook her head in wonder. “You are something, Levi Butler.”
He kissed the top of her hand. “So are you, Rhiann Kelly.” He raised his wine glass and, upon withdrawing her hand from his, she followed suit. “To us, wherever that journey takes us,” he said.
She simply smiled and clinked her glass to his. After they each sipped their wine, Rhiann took a few more bites from her food.
“Wherever did this delicious lasagna come from?”
“Marnie’s—it’s one of her specialties.”
“She makes wonderful food,” Rhiann said.
“She was a chef in Baltimore,” Levi stated. “Once she discovered Montana, she sold her business back east and stayed. That was twenty years ago, from what I’m told.”
“I can see why. I’ve been here less than a month and I’m already hooked.”
“Hopefully, that also has to do with the company you’ve been keeping the past few days?” His gray eyes twinkled.
“Oh, I love spending time with Trisha. She’s been such a joy to reconnect with,” Rhiann responded, trying to sound nonchalant.
“Trisha, uh? No one else?”
“Umm, let me see. Oh yes, there’s this EMT guy …”
“Do I know him?”
Rhiann grinned. “You might have heard of him—Phil Kimball. He keeps a great dog named Max and is training him to be a therapy dog.”
“Oh yes, I have heard of that guy. I hear his supervisor is a pretty fine fella, too.”
“Really? I might have to meet him sometime.” Rhiann’s eyes sparkled at him
Gayle M. Irwin is an award-winning author and freelance writer, being recognized by Wyoming Writers, Inc., and the Wyoming Press Association for several of her works. She is a contributor to seven Chicken Soup for the Soul books and the author of many inspirational pet books and stories for both children and adults. Her first novel, a clean, contemporary pet rescue romance titled Rescue Road, released November 8, 2019; the second book in that series she calls Pet Rescue Romance is titled Finding Love at Compassion Ranch – the book released in May 2020. Gayle subtly weaves important life lessons within the lines and pages of her stories, including the importance of pet rescue and adoption. An animal advocate, she volunteers for various dog rescue and humane society organizations and donates a percentage of all book sales to such groups. Gayle resides in Wyoming with her husband and their adopted animals. Learn more about the author, her writing endeavors, including a weekly blog, and her pets, and receive free stories and resources by visiting her website: www.gaylemirwinauthor.com.
For Finding Love at Compassion Ranch:
For Rescue Road:
Social Media Links:
My Author Facebook page:
Today I’m welcoming Viviana MacKade back to the Campfire. I remember you’re a fan of Earl Grey, and since the weather is warmer there’s a blender of Margarita’s in the fridge. Unless you’ve got a new favorite, and the campfire fridge is like Hemione Grangers bag, it has everything.
I do, actually… It’s not a new favorite, really, as much as me being high maintenance these days. Can the tea be decaff, and the Margarita virgin? Waiting on a little girl here… it’s no coffee and alcohol time.
Oh my goodness! Congratulations! It's a life changing event whether the first or fifth. Tell us have you had any new camping adventures? If I recall you thought you may venture out again.
We, South Florida, *could* go out but as I’m A) almost 7 months pregnant and B) immunocompromised (I have MS), it’s still stay at home for us. My husband is the one venturing out for grocery shopping and work, but we do go to the beach or hiking. We just do it when there’s less people around. And my husband and boy do roast marshmallows outside sometimes. Does it count?
Absolutely! My neighbor just this week had a little girl. I can appreciate your concerns especially with extenuating circumstance. You need to by hyper-vigilant. Viviana, how have you been handling events of the recent pandemic? Has you writing been affected? To what extent?
Writing was hit hard. With my kindergartener to homeschool and generally at home, my time was cut in less than half. One hour a day. Way less than half. Then there’s the emotional side of it. I tried, but honestly my mind is just not there no matter how hard I push myself. So, sadly, there has been no writing. I wanted to finish the first draft of my current story before my girl arrived, but it didn’t happen. The damn bloody virus happened. I did a lot of plotting thought, so when I’m back (after baby girl), I’ll have stories to either finish or start. I’ll have work!!!
I'll bet there's many reading who are nodding in agreement, and cheering you on. The circumstances of the past few months are weighing heavily on people. My heart goes out to you. On a brighter side, a little bird mentioned you have big genre news. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre? What challenges have you faced, or has it been easy to change gears?
I stepped into fantasy from the home-sweet-home suspense genre. I have no title yet for the story. It’s very loosely based on Norse mythology and there’s a lot of adventure in it. And I also have a trilogy that I’m burning to start, no title as well. Plus, two stories made of 2 books each (different characters, one long story) to edit.
As a fan of the fantasy genre, I'm looking forward to you finishing and publishing. Do you have a tagline or life motto?
A very Elvis-inspired one: a little less conversation and a little more action. Too many people spend way too much time talking and talking. Blah blah blah, oh my lord. Nothing gets gone that way. So, you think it (through and fast), and then you do it. It has made my current stalling situation very hard, but from it I learned that sometimes life is bigger than you and the only thing you can do is damage control (hence, all the plotting) and wait.
Thank, Vivian, now I have an ear-worm, LOL! I guess it could be a lot worse than Elvis. Do you have any tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others?
I’m a hybrid, meaning I’m in between a plotter and a panster. Whatever you are, the book that helped me in a way that’s too big to say is Foolproof Outline by Christopher Downing. It changed my game. I’m plotting my trilogy with it, and it’s a whole new level. I advise all to buy it and use it all or in part. Personally, I don’t go too much in details because I like letting the character lead the way, but I love having a big picture drawn so I know where and what they move within. Just like Scrivener, it’s a solid investment.
Perfect. I'm going to look into the book. Now here are some getting to know you, getting to know all about you... Anyone get the reference?
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
A stake. Rare. I can only have overcooked meat now and I used to eat it raw, cool in the middle… Lord, I’m drooling….
Worst household chore?
Unloading the dishwasher.
If you could time travel, where would you go and when? Why?
I’ve always said I’d go back and meet some of my heroes. Churchill, Cavour, Boudicca… Now? I want to jump a year from now to see how we got over this mess.
What ridiculous thing has someone tricked you into doing or believing?
My husband, who knows me way too well, knows he can make me do a lot of things by triggering my curiosity. The latest was try to do a Brazilian wax. Which, of course, I did because at that point I wanted to try. The first time was a nightmare. I swore I’d never do it again. But. (Damn buts). It was kind of comfortable… so I started do it myself at home. So much better.
Most campers play board games. What games do you like?
I don’t like board games. There. I said it. I despise Monopoly and Risiko, and everything that belongs to the family. I think I’d like Trivial Pursuit though.
Who is the most interesting person you’ve met and talked with?
My husband. I wouldn’t have married him if he wasn’t just that. We might fight, and sometimes I might not like him 100%, but he’s the only one who stimulates my mind and never bores me.
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
Taxes, and how health insurances work.
Viviana, thank you again for joining us at the campfire. I wish you all the best with your little ones. It is a trying time for many but I think more so for folks trying to bring a new baby into the world. I hope and pray the things happening now, will be a springboard for a new and better future. And before you go, we'd appreciate knowing more about you, your books, and where to find both.
GUNS FOR ANGELS by Viviana MacKade
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.
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.
They entered a narrow hall, its bare walls painted in a subdued magnolia. At their left, an old, dark wooden staircase led upstairs. The veil of dust on the handrail carried fresh scars where hands had touched not long ago. A strange smell saturated the house, one Ann didn’t have a name for. It was out of place and mean. It reminded her of the last moments in her house, when those men had broken in shooting and screaming. Could fear smell? Could death?
At the end of the corridor, a door opened into a tiny bathroom. At its side, another door was ajar. The afternoon sun filtered through the crack, as if the room strained to contain all the light in it.
Mark’s face was detached, set into a mask as he prodded the door with his fingertips. More light poured into the hall.
Her heart rate rocketed as they waited at the door’s side. Ann wanted to scream to fill the silence.
Seconds ticked away. Drenched air mingled with fear ran down her neck in rivulets of sweat. Mark gestured her to stay and took a step inside the room.
She peeked from behind him, saw it was empty. A laugh crawled through the ball of fear at the base of her chest, asking to be freed, but her elation didn’t live long.
“There’s trouble in this house,” Mark told her in a tense whisper after looking around in the empty room. He walked out, moved toward the stairs with light strides.
Lightheaded, Ann followed him holding the piece of paper he’d given her as if her life depended on it. Funny that it might just be the case.
And they say paper and ink are useless, nowadays, she mused to herself.
At the top of the staircase, Mark opened the door with his foot; when nothing happened he stepped inside. Ann stayed behind him.
The upstairs was as big as the whole house. Ann let her eyes run over the filing cabinets, all lined up like little soldiers along the low walls, dutifully closed against prying eyes. An open skylight looked up into the blue sky where a lonely cloud plodded away, but no air came in from it to ease the heat. The walls were plain white up here, amplifying the light and the room’s emptiness.
A body lay on the floor. It swam in blood.
Ann’s mind didn’t recognize it at first, didn’t understand it, but at some point her brain caught up with her eyes. Her senses floated away to the sound of her own blood withdrawing from her head, the outline of her surrounding faded into white. A commanding, familiar voice called her but it was muffled, and too far away. When the white completely closed in, she let go.
Ann. It was Mark’s first thought when he saw Mouse’s body.
When he turned to take her away, to spare her other memories she shouldn’t cash in, it was too late. He would protect her from any harm but he had no power against what she saw.
She paled, her eyes lost focus, and then she went down
Author bio and links:
Beach bum and country music addicted, Viviana lives in a small Floridian town with her husband and her son, her die-hard fans and personal cheer squad. She spends her days between typing on her beloved keyboard, playing in the pool with her boy, and eating whatever her husband puts on her plate (the guy is that good, and she really loves eating). Besides beaching, she enjoys long walks, horse-riding, hiking, and pretty much whatever she can do outside with her family.
The best way to know me is through my website (and the books I host):
Amazon Author page
Happy Saturday. I'm sitting around the campfire by myself this morning in contemplation. Today is my birthday and i'm thinking about a lot of things. Where did the past year go? What changes have occurred? Where I want to go and be. The campfire is good for that. Staring into the flame. Tossing on some "magic fire". Here take a peek.
So, the past year. Exactly one year ago I was in the hospital in acute respiratory failure. My beloved and I had just returned from upstate NY where we'd visited the Lucille Ball museum. We'd had a wonderful time but the morning of our return, I woke up and snarled at poor Pete for making noise. Everything went down hill from there. I'm not going to go into detail, but the five days in the hospital were not fun. The things that made my days pass? Writing and Editing. My final day in the hospital I had the staff rolling their eyes. They said I could go home if I was able to keep my oxygen stats in the 90s. In my a private room, because the sickness Para-Influenza, was contagious. I set myself up with the lights dimmed, jazz playing from Pandora and a standing desk. By the end of the day I was outta there.
But I wasn't the only one having a bad time. My granddaughter at the same time was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and in a different hospital. She was only six years old. Don't worry. She's doing very well. What did we both looked forward to? Camping.
That weekend following our discharge we took our 5th Wheel up to Honesdale KOA, one of our regular places to drop the landing gear, and we had a quiet, but great time. You see, even with the trouble, when you have family and friends somehow it's easier.
We continued to take trips. Our next adventure was with friends at the Pocono KOA with friends, then onto Maryland. We had several more weekends in Pennsylvania with grands, then spent a long weekend in Cape May NJ. While my DH attended the Fireman's Convention, Hali and I rented a golf cart and drove around the campground. We squeezed in a final trip to Vermont with friends then poor 2HOOTs, my fiver, had to be tucked away for the winter.
Ahh, winter. It was a long one. Just as we were looking forward to our first weekend at Otter Lake in Pa, you know what happened. Dum da dum dum dum-Covid-19. Everyone's life changed. By March 18th I was furloughed and isolated. Remember the hospital stay? Well my lungs still hadn't recovered completely. I go every six months or so for a follow up CT scan, so house arrest it was. Ugh. I have to say though, I am blessed. Pete continued to work. I live in a lovely place. And I had my dog. Things got a little hairy, literally. I can't remember when my hair has been so long. My friend Ginny dropped off a face mask and it has OWLS on it.
April Rock House Grill released and I cried when I opened the box and saw my first copies. We were supposed to celebrate at Camp Taylor with my sister. Nope. No celebration. Then, the book signing with a group of NJ authors had to be cancelled as well as an 'Author Talk' at my public library.
I continued to keep busy. A Peek Through the Window blog, joined Welcome to the Campfire. I wrote, I edited. Reviewing books became a part of my days. Rainbow Sprinkles became a reality and is part of a series that has a little bit for everyone. I'm hoping when it releases in July you all can take it to the beach safely.
So, another year has passed. I got the call to return to work this week. I'll tell you I was a bit nervous. I had a nightmare that night. But it's okay. It's different. I have different hours and work between two different offices.
Circumstances change us. We learn and adapt.
In the early 1980's I worked in the prison system during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Medicine changed, our lives changed, many of us lost someone. But we survived, and life resumed. A new normal. We'll laugh again. Cry again. Eat out in restaurants again. And dang it, get our hair cut again. Which brought this song to mind www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_IYAvaa8cU
We'll never be the same. But we'll be okay.
And here we are. May 30th. My birthday. I won't tell you what year, but here's are hints.
This girl and I were both born
Alaska and Hawaii became states
Walt Disney released Sleeping Beauty but the Top Grossing Movie was Ben Hur
The 30th was celebrated as Memorial Day
Rod Serling's Twilight Zone
Michael and Mary were the most popular names
The Best Selling Books were
1. Exodus by Leon Uris
2. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak
3. Hawaii by James Michener
4. Advise and Consent by Allen Drury
5. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
6. The Ugly American by William J. Lederer and Eugene L. Burdick
7. Dear and Glorious Physician by Taylor Caldwell
8. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
9. Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
10. Poor No More by Robert Ruark
Until next time...
Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
3 John 1:2
Good morning, campers. At my fire there are no mosquitoes, no-see-ums, or COVID cooties. We can snuggle up and even hold hands. The fire is always just right and you are so welcome here. So, grab a cuppa and maybe some snacks. Here we go...
Take a deep breath. Let it out. Release the troubles of life for a few minutes. Can you hear the bullfrog in the camp pond. Some ducks are paddling past. Breath. At my campfire there's no smoke-eye. Stare into the fire for a minute. Hear the crackle. Yeah? Then you're ready to meet our guest.
Today I’m welcoming Amy Craig to the Around the Campfire. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
I prefer dark coffee with half and half for cold morning embers. Come sunset, Manhattan (not an Old Fashioned!) is my favorite indulgence.
Well, my daughter-in-law gave me some French Roast so coffee it is. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
My husband and I were active campers and backpackers before the kids arrived. While dating, we hiked the Sierra Nevada mountains with our black lab. On the first night, my legs and body ached, but I perked up when he pulled a bottle of champagne from his backpack. Finally? After so many years of dating! Nope, not a proposal. Just a sweet surprise (he proposed later that year).
Aww, what a nice guy. And one day maybe I'll haul my camper to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Can you share with us your latest project? What’s the title and genre?
I’m working on the edits for two novels, A Winter Rose and Lost in LA. Both contemporary romance novels have strong heroines, but Winter Rose focuses on a flower farm and a hero with a prosthesis. Lost in LA has a coming of age yoga instructor and a fake romance. I think Lost in LA will make it to market first, December 1, 2020, but A Winter Rose should follow in 2021.
Do you have a tagline? A personal one~ Make time for edits!~ For the books? Not yet!
One of the most common questions I'm asked is How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Writing first drafts took about four months, but as I learn more about my craft, I realize the bulk of my editing time will go toward fixing rookie mistakes.
You have many things going on. But is there anything you're ’re itching to get to?
I have an outline for a new book, but I won’t let myself touch it right now. It’s fermenting while I work through these edits! I may not write it in the long run. Part of the plot involves adultery and forgiveness. Is it worth all the effort when so many readers will say that’s a no go? I have another book finished, but I need to re-work the first act and highlight the romantic tension I envision for the characters.
Hmm, maybe a no-go in romance but Woman's Fiction, Literary Fiction, why not? There are so many other genres. It could even be inspirational. Who are the folks you look to. Are there any mentors, authors, or books,you would like to give a shout-out to? A few indie authors who started around the same time I did and are making their way through the writing words: Lucy Hudson and Anya Pavelle. Lucy writes romance novellas and Anya writes dystopian fiction.
Amy, what does literary success look like to you? People enjoying my stories!
Now the fun questions.
I have two sweet romances available on Amazon. Both are $0.99 May 23 - May 25.
Mila risked her career to claim the executive director position at Marina Ranch. The upscale retirement community attracts the best of Biloxi, but nothing prepared her for a local firefighter's protective instincts or the way her stomach drops when he walks into the room.
A Corporate Courtship:
Mayor Gloria Holding and British executive Alexander Hayworth are struggling to keep their relationship professional while they work to revitalize a facility in Stoneblock, NJ. She knows everything about her constituents and he likes to keep his distance.
Follow my social media pages for updates and more deals:
Happy Saturday. I hope you're all doing well and staying safe. A little bit of housekeeping before we get to today's exciting guest. I'm so glad that some of the states are opening up for camping. Most of us have common sense and understand how to take precautions. I think camping is one of the safest ways to keep our distance. Since we are a self contained unit, we don't have to use the camps facilities so this week enjoyed a stay in the gorgeous state of Kentucky. This was a trip planned a year ago for our 26th anniversary. So I want to give a shout out to my dearly beloved, Peter. You are my love and my friend. My greatest supporter and cheerleader. Here's to 26 more.
Okay, this is the part where we set the mood. Grab a cuppa something. Sit back. Put your feet up. Take a deep breath. Smell that? It's a mix of fresh cut grass and wild onions. There's some wood from the campfire mixed in. Take another breath and listen to the birds. I think I hear a mourning dove. I the distance there are some quiet voices of families spending time at their sites. Oh, someone yelled, Yahtzee. Board games are big at camp. There you go. Let the worries go for a while. It's just us, a fire, and the outdoors. Oh, here comes Helen...
Hi, Helen. Thank you for joining us at the campfire. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine? It's always 5 o'clock at camp.
Tea daily, wine occasionally, cocoa sometimes.
Here you go. A cup of tea to get us started. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I camped as a child in a military-issue pup tent with my parents up in Cloudcroft, New Mexico. Not the most spacious or comfortable camping, and cattle roamed freely, so my mother worried we’d be stepped on in the dark. I remember the crisp air and the scent of wood smoke. In college I camped with my fiancé in a spacious tent we set up in a county park by a lake. Much nicer, and we had a camp stove, but we didn’t cook anything fancy, just pork’n’beans and hot dogs. Nowadays, I’d have to Glamp because I like my comforts.
Glamping is the best way for me. The weathers been a little rocky this week. Record cold and some wind and rain. the 5th Wheel keeps us toasty and dry. Helen, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
Fantasy romance Lord of Druemarwin, sequel to my debut novel The Prince of Val-Feyridge, both inspired by my fascination with fairy tales and Lord of the Rings.
I know I liked you. LOTR is one of my favorites and inspired my fantasy, too. Can you give a a one sentence idea about you book?
In a world of lies and betrayal, can they trust each other?
How long did it take you from conception to publication?
I think I started it back in 2013 and contracted it to The Wild Rose Press in early 2019, so 6 years.
I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I just finished my first self-published book, a children’s fantasy, Frederick Fly-Catcher, and put it up online. I have two fantasy romance novellas in progress and a half-dozen unpublished romantic suspense works I may or may not resurrect at some point.
Busy lady. Writing is often a solitary life but we know we need others. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to?
First credit has to go to the authors I read throughout K-16+ years in pursuit of my master’s degree in English. They taught me to love story-telling and allowed me to absorb story structure intuitively: Shakespeare, Tolkien, Hemingway, LeGuin, Twain, etc. Once I started reading for pleasure, I discovered the romantic suspense genre—Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Crusie, Elizabeth Hoyt, Jayne Ann Krentz, etc.—and the fantasy genre—Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, Artemis Fowl, The Dresden Files, etc. They taught me about characterization and pacing and dialogue, and so much more. And when I decided to write for publication, I found my ‘tribe’ in my local area Romance Writers Association. They are my support group, and we help each other navigate the often uneven road of publication.
A truly amazing list of authors. I've found my own tribe in NJRWA and other Wild Rose Authors. Can you share what literary success look like to you?
Growing up, I thought writing books was something done only by people who lived in far-off places because I’d certainly never personally met an author. When I started writing in earnest, I thought I’d never crack that sought-after publishing contract with a legitimate publisher. And then one day I did. And now I have 4 books with my name on them for sale alongside books by all those far-off, famous authors and my mentors. That looks pretty darn sweet to me.
It sure does! Do you have any Life Hacks or tips for Authors.
Own your personal process; accept it, nurture it, trust it. Don’t reinvent yourself to fit someone else’s advice if your gut says uh-uh.
Now the fun questions.
LORD OF DRUEMARWIN - PAGES FROM THE HEART Winner in Fantasy Romance, #2 Crown of Tolem series
Lady Raell can fight, ride, and argue politics as well as her brothers. Only being mistress of her father's household keeps her in skirts. In Naed, the new Lord of Druemarwin, she has found devotion, a kindred spirit, and a marriage promise. But when a forgotten and unwanted betrothal comes to light, she has no choice but to run.
Amidst sweeping revolution, Naed must rally his people, fend off assassination attempts, and fight against claims he's a traitor. Then he discovers everything about his lineage and family is a lie. And his beloved belongs to another.
With lives and a kingdom at stake, Raell and Naed must find a way to protect the innocent and save their love.
The Wild Rose Press
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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 from, whatever troubles today brings, Relax for a few and sit with us around the fire. 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 please help me greet our guest, Alana Lorens. Alana has been a published writer for more than forty years. She practiced 30 years as a family law attorney, which has informed many of her books, including those from the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series and she's also a Wild Rose Press author. And as any good host should, may I offer you a beverage?
A nice Irish Coffee would suit quite well, thank you.
So funny you should request that. My son and his wife gave me an Irish Coffee kit for Christmas this year, here you go. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I have been a camper for years! First camped in the Florida Keys with my ex in the back of his pickup truck in the early 1980s. Then we got several tents and took the kids camping in the Keys for many years, and after we moved to PA, to Cooks Forest. With my next husband we got an RV and then I took several cross country trips with a daughter and a friend. Loved it. Certainly much more comfortable in an RV.
I'm so happy to have another "happy" camper with us. I never realize so many had bad experiences when they were young that turned them off to the experience. And of course the mode of choice makes all the difference. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
Tender Misdemeanors—it’s a romantic suspense novel
Can you tell us about it in one sentence or two?
They can’t help falling in love—but should the cost be murder?
Love, mystery and crime. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
This story took about five years, but that’s because I went through a divorce in the middle of it and got myself very off-track. Actual writing time was approximately eight months.
I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Haha! Always. I try to keep a document in the files where I stick snippets of this and that, hoping I remember to get back to them if I ever finish what I’m working on in priority status.
My current projects are a contemporary high-school reunion romance, and a science-fiction romance with two humans and a gender shifting alien.
So many stories, so little time😉 Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
I have a superior critique group back in Erie, PA, a subdivision of Pennwriters called Fellowship of the Quill. The writers are dedicated and diverse, and each person knows a little something about something special. For example, I was the lawyer in the group, so anyone who was writing about legal matters could ask me whether their piece rang true. When I moved south a few years ago, that was one of the things I missed most—but they’re meeting on Zoom now because of social distancing, so I can actually participate again! One good development from Covid-19.
It's important for writers to have a community. And now the internet offers so many options. Tell us, what does literary success look like to you?
I’d like to say I want a best-seller. I mean, what author doesn’t? But I’d be satisfied if people read the books and like them. That’s why I write them. Believe me, it would be an easier gamble to just buy lotto tickets if what I was looking for was a pile of money.
Life Hacks for Authors. Do you have any tips, tricks or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
We all know the famous saying, Write What You Know. As a family law attorney who practiced for 30 years in Florida and Pennsylvania, I have to say that it certainly gave me a lot in insight into people’s emotions and motivations. I saw some really good people go through some really bad situations, especially when domestic violence was involved. I learned that sometimes, there is no happy ending. Many times, what defines a happy ending depends on the people involved. It’s like your question above on literary success. I have writer friends who have created wonderful manuscripts but if they can’t get an agent and traditional publishing, they just shelve it. I’d rather proceed with small press (or others do with self-publishing) and at least get my books out there for people to enjoy.
Now the fun questions pick 5 or if you like more but no more than 7.
If they made a movie about your life, what would the title be and who would play you?
What the $&$%^#& Were You Thinking?
And probably Kathy Bates
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?
Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. It always gives me a pick me up!!
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Oh this one is easy—I live in Asheville, NC, which is foodie HEAVEN. So many good restaurants, but a little pricey for the tourists, you know what I mean? It’s sad right now, seeing so many of the small, family-owned places struggle—I wish I could save them all!
Did you ever win something? What?
I did—about five years ago I was playing bingo at Archie’s Seabreeze right on the beach in Fort Pierce, Florida and I won just over a thousand dollars on a game. We were headed to Universal Studios the next day, so needless to say the kids got their Wizarding Wardrobes!
What was your first job?
Waitressing at a Big Boy restaurant. All my friends used to come out and hang on the weekends and sabotage my stations by switching the salt and peppers, and pouring ketchup is the cream…oh geez. But it was fun to work with a couple of other friends—someone to sympathize with!
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
EVERYONE should have to take classes in adulting—cooking, sewing, fixing appliances, easy car fixes, money management, critical thinking, and especially learning that it’s okay to be alone. This would save so many bad impulsive relationship problems.
If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, do that thing you do!”, what thing would pop into your head first?
Definitely dropping a sarcastic line on someone!
Alana, thanks for being part of the Campfire. Please leave us some information about you and your book. Also, where we can find out more about you.
Thanks so much for having me!!
Caryn Orlane has law enforcement in her blood; her father was a cop, and his father, too. She's a federal agent in northwest Montana, protecting the old forests and keeping the peace.
Levi Bradshaw also believes in protecting the forests, but has a very different MO. He's the leader of a group of eco-warriors, determined to save the trees of the Bitterroot by legal—and illegal—means.
When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. When their worlds turn on them, they only grow closer. If they don’t work together, can either survive?
Author Bio: Alana Lorens has been a published writer for more than forty years. She practiced 30 years as a family law attorney, which has informed many of her books, including those from the Pittsburgh Lady Lawyers series. Currently a resident of Asheville, North Carolina, she loves her time in the smoky Blue Ridge mountains. One of her novellas, THAT GIRL’S THE ONE I LOVE, is set in the city of Asheville during the old Bele Chere festival. She lives with her daughter, who is the youngest of her seven children, two crotchety old cats, and five kittens of various ages.
You can find out more about today's guest below
Barnes & Noble:
Website : https://Alana-lorens.com
Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Alana-Lorens/e/B005GE0WBC/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1
Sometimes we all need to escape for a while. It's why I love to read. It's why I love to camp. These days taking off for the campgrounds are not in the cards but we can enjoy this virtual time around the fire. Today's guest has been with us before but she's got a brand new book out. But before we get to the interview how about setting the mood.
Are you wearing comfy clothes? I have my favorite hoodie on. It smells like the campfire. Do you hear the snap and pop of the flames? Spring peepers are out filling the air with their singing and chirping. Poke the fire. Let's add another log and may be some magic. Take a deep breath and push the worries of the week into the background. It's been tough, but you're tougher. We're all country around the fire. No, I don't care you're city. This is my fire and you are temporarily anointed country. Grab a cuppa something comforting. Deep breath again. Good I see you relaxing.
Now, let's all say "Hey" to Karen. I'm pleased to have her back and I know you will be too. What can I offer you to drink?
Today, I feel like a cup of steaming coffee.
We always have the pot on at camp. Today's brew is Sumatra Mandheling. Remind us, have you ever camped, or Glamped? I know your characters spent some time sleeping on the ground.
Once, when I was thirteen, my parents and I camped in a pup tent along the Mississippi. I hated it – never saw so many HUGE bugs and spiders in my life. I love the outdoors, but only until the sun goes down. Then I want a hot shower, clean sheets, and a soft bed.
Ugh, spiders. I hate them. I have a can of Spider/Scorpion spray in my house and in my camper. Tell us about your new project. What’s the title and genre?
WILD ROSE PASS was just released this month by Wild Rose Press. It’s a Historical Romance set in 1880s Texas.
Do you have a tagline?
I do. Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.
How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Three and a half years. This “baby” has taken a long time to birth.
I've read Wild Rose Pass. I can imagine the time spent in research alone must have been daunting. Can you elaborate a bit on research?
Writing Wild Rose Pass was a stretch for me. Not only is this frontier romance devoid of ghosts / the paranormal, it’s set a hundred and forty years in the past. Every reference had to be made from the perspective of that era: language, dress, food, roles, and social structure. Slang had to be researched for authenticity. (Words I wanted to use, for instance, sometimes were not coined until the Twentieth Century.) Ladies’ fashions and the officers’ uniforms of that time period had to be researched. (Following the Civil War, the Army had a surplus of uniforms, but only in extra-large or extra small sizes. As a result, soldiers often improvised, and uniforms did not live up to their name.) Food availability on the frontier differed from food availability on the East coast. (Canned foods were available, I learned, but fresh vegetables and fruit were in short supply.)
Women of military families often married career officers. Fraternization among the enlisted men and the officers’ families was frowned upon if not penalized. I researched dusty quartermaster reports in the library at Fort Davis, Texas, and books dating from the mid-1800s about manners and correct comportment. I’ll tell ya’, writing Wild Rose Pass was not only a stretch, it was an education😊
That's amazing. I probably would not have done well back then. What's next for you? I'm sure you have something planned.
Yes, I have one manuscript with my editor at Wild Rose Press that I’m waiting to hear back on—KYOTO: TALE OF THE FOX, and I’m currently in the early stages of writing the sequel to WILD ROSE PASS, with the time-frame mostly in the 1880s-1920s.
How exciting! I can't wait. Karen, tell us, what does literary success look like to you?
Literary success, to me, is a solid income, a please-Lord, prosper-my-hands, pay-the-bills income.
Life Hacks for Authors. Can you share any Tips, tricks or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
I call it playing dolls. I like to bounce off ideas (usually with girlfriends, but not always) the way we used to play dolls. First, they go here. Then, they do that. You remember!
What a fabulous idea. I bet that can get the creative juices going.
Fun questions time.
If they made a movie about your life, what would the title be and who would play you?
LOL – the title would be “And She Tried,” and Sandra Bullock would play me.
Do you have a special object like a piece of jewelry or keepsake of some sort? Can you tell us what makes it special to you?
Yes, my husband bought me a Journey Necklace to celebrate when I earned my PhD at age 59. From Kindergarten to earning my post-graduate degree had been a long journey.
What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme
I live and sleep in t-shirts, but my current favorite is one, picturing wild horses.
Years ago, there was a commercial that talked about a “Kodak Moment.” It’s a moment in time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
The night I met my husband is my favorite moment. It was in a packed college bar, and he was sitting alone at a huge table, while my friends I sat cramped at a table the size of an LP record. I suggested we switch tables, but instead he joined our group, and one thing led to another.
Favorite childhood book? Or writing that inspired you to become an author.
Grimm’s Fairy Tales – I loved the imagery those stories evoked.
Karen, thanks so much for hanging with me around the fire. Please leave us some information about your book and where we can find it and more about you too. And visitors make sure you scroll down, Karen has left us a recipe.
Wild Rose Pass by Karen Hulene Bartell
Cadence McShane, free-spirited nonconformist, yearns to escape the rigid code, clothes, and sidesaddles of 1880s military society in Fort Davis, Texas. She finds the daring new lieutenant exhilarating, but as the daughter of the commanding officer, she is expected to keep with family tradition and marry West Point graduate James West.
Orphaned, Comanche-raised, and always the outsider looking in, Ben Williams yearns to belong. Cadence embodies everything he craves, but as a battlefield-commissioned officer with the Buffalo Soldiers instead of a West Point graduate, he is neither accepted into military society nor considered marriageable.
Can two people of different worlds, drawn together by conflicting needs, flout society and forge a life together on the frontier?
Reining his horse between catclaw and prickly-pear cactus, Ben Williams squinted at the late summer sun’s low angle. Though still midafternoon, shadows lengthened in the mountains. He clicked his tongue, urging his mare up the incline. “Show a little enthusiasm, Althea. If we’re not in Fort Davis by sunset, we’ll be bedding down with scorpions and rattlesnakes.”
As his detachment’s horses clambered up Wild Rose Pass, the only gap through west Texas’ rugged Davis Mountains, Ben kept alert for loose rocks or hidden roots, anything that might trip his mount. A thick layer of fallen leaves created a pastiche of color shrouding the trail from view. He glanced up at the lithe cottonwood trees lining the route, their limbs dancing in the breeze. More amber and persimmon leaves loosened, fell, and settled near the Indian pictographs on their tree trunks. When he saw the red- and yellow-ochre drawings, he smiled, recalling the canyon’s name—Painted Comanche Camp.
“How far to Fort Davis, lieutenant?” called McCurry, one of his recruits.
“Three hours.” If we keep a steady pace.
Without warning, the soldier’s horse whinnied. Spooking, it reared on its hind legs, threw its rider, and galloped off.
As he sat up, the man groaned, caught his breath, and stared into the eyes of a coiled rattler, poised to strike. “What the…?”
Flicking its tongue, hissing, tail rattling, the pit viper was inches from the man’s face.
A sheen of sweat appeared above the man’s lip. “Lieutenant—”
Barnes & Noble NOOK Book
Barnes & Noble Paperback
About the Author:
Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivational keynote speaker, wife, and all-around pilgrim of life. She writes multicultural, offbeat love stories that lift the spirit. Born to rolling-stone parents who moved annually, Bartell found her earliest playmates as fictional friends in books. Paperbacks became her portable pals. Ghost stories kept her up at night—reading feverishly. The paranormal was her passion. Westerns spurred her to write (pun intended). Wanderlust inherent, Karen enjoyed traveling, although loathed changing schools. Novels offered an imaginative escape. An only child, she began writing her first novel at the age of nine, learning the joy of creating her own happy endings. Professor emeritus of the University of Texas at Austin, Karen resides in the Hill Country with her husband Peter and her “mews”—three rescued cats and a rescued *Cat*ahoula Leopard dog.
Connect with Karen:
Amazon Author Page
Ingredients 3/4 cup cornmeal 3/4 cup white flour 1/2 cup mesquite meal 2 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste 2 large eggs, beaten 1-1/2 cups milk 3 tablespoons honey (or agave syrup) 6 tablespoons melted butter or corn oil In a large bowl, whisk the cornmeal, flour, mesquite meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, honey, and butter or oil. Fold the egg mixture into the cornmeal mixture and stir for one minute. Note—the batter will be lumpy.
Pour the batter evenly into a cast-iron skillet and cover. Place the pan directly on top of the hot coals. Place more hot coals on top its flat lid. Bake twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until just barely cooked through and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and remove cover.
To bake in an oven: Preheat to 425 degrees F. Pour the mixture into a greased, eight-inch baking pan. Bake for twenty to twenty-five minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature before serving. Serves eight to twelve.
D.V. Stone rated it 5-stars. It was amazing
Copy of book provided by request via Netgalley
From the opening line to the end, the author paints a vivid picture of the old west. I appreciate the time and effort that must have gone into the research for this book. And while historical, Wild Rose Pass brings the characters alive.
Read the full review here www.goodreads.com/user/show/66610371-d-v-stone
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 to join the stars. In these days of isolation, distancing, and worry, give yourself a break. Whether you’re city or country. Whether you camp or are an indoor kinda person. Join me and my guest around our virtual campfire.
Take a minute. Deep breath in, hold, release. Now do it again, but this time imagine the smell of wood from the campfire. Hear the crackle and watch the sparks float up. Can you smell that? Someone is cooking and it's your favorite thing. Maybe barbecue ribs or aromatic onions and garlic. Marshmallows and chocolate. The people a the next camper are listening respectfully to some classic rock. Kids on bikes ride past laughing. Are you there yet? Good.
Please help me welcome DARCY CARSON to the Campfire. Darcy is a fellow Wild Rose Press author and I'm excited to have her. She writes about one of my favorite kind of fantasy creature, dragons. May I offer you a beverage?
My go-to drink is water, then diet soda.
I have water in the water cooler. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp. If so, tent, trailer, RV?
As a kid, we always camped in a tent.
All over Washington state. that’s what people did for vacations when i was a kid.
I know quite a few people for there. It's a beautiful state. Did you like it?
Heck no! rattlesnakes, sand in my food, and almost being blown off a cliff sort of ruined the idea of camping being fun. The being blown off a cliff was probably the worst two hours of my life. The rangers kept the park open and watched the car’s head lights weave along the mountain side. They expected to recover the bodies the next morning. I shudder just thinking about that trip.
Oh boy, not fun. We're glad you survived. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I’m working on the third book in the dragons’ return series, entitled She wakes the night that I’ll be submitting to my publisher in the next week or so. it’s a paranormal romance, and there is a big, bad black dragon.
I love dragons and follow your Facebook Dragon information. Do you have a tagline?
Not really. but let’s see if i can come up with one right here and now…Once a tree, now a healer, Trell Langois has no intention of staying in one place.
Good job! I like it. Taglines blurbs and synopsis' are some of the hardest things to write. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
That depends on the story. mine run between 80-90k and take six months to a year to write.
Darcy, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
We’re writers. ideas are always popping into our heads. I'm also writing historical romance fiction. I have one out about Ireland in the 1660s. I’m working on a regency and two anthologies.
Wow, busy lady. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to?
Probably the people who deserve a shout-out is my critique group and critique partner. They’ve stood by me and put up with the bad writing for years. so to: Lisa Wanttaja, Melanie Macdonald, Marcella Burnard, Lynn Price, Deeanna Galbraith, Melinda Rucker Haynes and Pam Binder.
Hooray for critique partners and group. What does literary success look like to you?
Being able to have my books published.
Life Hacks for Authors.
My favorite tip is never give up. Persistence pays off. And don’t be afraid to cut during the editing process.
Now the fun questions pick 5 or if you like more but no more than 7.
Warrior woman, Becca d’Firn, has a problem. People in her village are dying from a mysterious plague. She needs a wizard to save them. Cress, a wizard, has a quandary of his own—he needs to free his sister from a thousand year old spell. Becca doesn’t trust men, but what choice does she have? She knows nothing about the art of healing or dragons the size of fireflies.
Darcy is an award winning author, who was a born reader. Having a mother who worked in a library helped. She didn’t know that there were fines attached to books she kept reading over and over for decades. She won The Emerald City Keeper award for romantic comedy. She penned five novellas with Amazon’s Kindle Worlds the first one winning Rivers of Ink first place. She has been nominated for numerous RWA chapter writing contests, winning and placing in several. She went on to self-publish a paranormal romance, MAGIC IN THE AIR, set in Seattle about the magic police. She is currently writing for The Wild Rose Press. Her first book, HE WALKS IN DREAMS, is a fantasy romance and the first in the Dragons Return series. WOMAN IN THE WOODS is the second book in the series. Dragons come naturally to Darcy as she had a childhood friend named Pepper-Piper, who was a dragon. She also writes historical romance.
Prior to publishing, Darcy worked for a major airline manufacturer as an executive secretary. But don’t ask to identity an airplane. They all look the same to her. Darcy’s hobbies include jewelry making. Stringing beads is very relaxing, zen-like. No thought required. She loves reading, traveling, shopping and going to the casino to give her money away. She lives in Renton with her husband, Bill, and a pampered prince of poodle named Bandit.
This weeks recipe is for one of my most requested. Ribs. Low and slow.
This never fails me except to run out. It's easy but does take ahead of time thought.
Whatever your favorite ribs are. I tend to get what's on sale
Pat dry your rib. Then I rub them with grape seed oil. Season them liberally with Montreal Steak Seasoning. Cover with plastic and put in the fridge with weight on top. I like to do this overnight
To cook them. I sear the ribs over a high heat on the BBQ. Get them a little brown but be careful not to cook them. No you have a choice. They do well in a dutch oven, wrapped in foil over the fire, or even wrapped and leave them on the grill. Turn the heat way down. Around 300 degrees. Check them in about 3 hours. They want to fall off the bone.