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.
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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.
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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