Good morning campers! Hope you had a great week. I'm coming to you from a wonderful campground in Columbia New Jersey called Camp Taylor. Later today I'm expecting my sister and Nick, as well as Rich and Kelly good friends. The ribs will be cooking low and slow all day and I hope to hear the wolves from the Lakota Wolf Preserve periodically. Hali is channeling her inner wolf in case a howl goes up. I had an amazing week with blogs and Facebook takeovers. If you want to check it out, head over to my about and guest blog page. But today isn't about me it's about my lovely guest. So let's shake off the dust of the week. Grab a beverage and enjoy our discussion.
Today I’m welcoming to the Campfire Marilyn Barr. She is a fellow Wild Rose Press Author and I'm excited to have her at the campfire. Thanks for coming by Marilyn, what’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine? The camp fridge is like the Starship Enterprise, you speak it, you get it. Ginger tea please, after my morning coffee I rely on green or ginger tea to keep my internal fire going.
Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
My family glamps every November in the Smokey Mountains. We rent a cabin with an indoor pool and shut out the rest of the world. We hibernate like the three bears. In my paranormal romance series, the Strawberry shifters are in an alliance with a North Carolina mountain pack. This pack is nestled in the Smokey Mountains, and I use my glamping adventures to describe living there. The Smokey Mountains will be the travel destination for one of the Paulino boys when he’s old enough to be looking for love. I’m so excited to write about them.
How wonderful. I love when a location inspires a story and the Smokey Mountains are gorgeous. Tell us about your latest project. What book are you talking about today and what’s on the horizon?
On June 3rd, the first Strawberry Shifters novel, Bear with Me was released. Readers are now able to visit Strawberry, KY with the pack’s newest residents: the Luther family. Grant, Alison, and their son Henrik have relocated to the tiny town to follow Grant’s career dreams. He is the new Director of Regulatory Affairs at Bergan Pharma. While a more cautious person may question why an upstart pharmaceutical company is located in the middle of nowhere, Grant is just happy to have the chance to drive the company to stardom.
The second Strawberry Shifters novel has already been submitted to The Wild Rose Press. The loveable jokesters who run Bergan Pharma’s IT department are the main characters in Strawberry Shifters Book 2: Round of Applause. However, Round of Applause is a Yuletide book so its release date will not be until this holiday season.
I'm excited! Shifter stories are so much fun. Do you have a tagline? Life Motto?
On social media look for #Strawberryshifters as my tagline, but my personal life motto is “Dum Spiro, Spero”. Cicero’s famous quote means “Whilst I breathe, I hope”. My son and I battle a genetic autoimmune disease as well as neuro-diverse challenges just like our #ownvoices characters in the Strawberry shifters series. I hope to show the strengths and challenges of living with sensory processing disorder (SPD) through Alison Luther. I gave her the same flavor of SPD as myself with heightened hearing, taste, and smell but with muted touch, vestibular stability, and visual acuity. When she experiences the terror of an unidentified foreign food texture when she eats, it is from my experiences when eating mixtures. No s’ mores for me, thank you though. Combined with my ulcerative colitis, eating any meal is like being a contestant on Fear Factor.
Oh, my. That's a tough row to hoe. I'm shoving the s'mores back in the cabinet. Using your life experiences make stories so much deeper. I'm sure not only myself, but all the reader wish you both the best. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
In December of 2018, my husband dared me to write a paranormal romance novel. I hadn’t written fiction since high school but have background experience in technical writing. At the time I was reading 300 to 500 pages of paranormal romance a day and I believe he was trying to get out of buying another bookshelf.
I wrote Bear with Me, Round of Applause, and was almost finished writing Go Scorch Yourself in four months. My spouse learned never to dare me to do anything and I learned I loved writing paranormal romance as much as I love reading it. My friends were kind enough to let our book club read Bear with Me and loved it enough to also read Round of Applause and Go Scorch Yourself. They convinced me to try the query process, so I sent out one query and waited for a reply.
By June of 2019, I was losing hope on my one query attempt and started to scout out where to send my next letter. I was very naïve about the query process. I met my favorite author Lora Leigh at a reader to author meet up. I decided to wear a self-designed Strawberry Shifters t-shirt with a plea for an agent on the back. I got more laughs from my shameless self-promotion than agent attention, but I did get career-launching advice from Lora Leigh. She told me to query a small press directly and enjoy being an author, instead of waiting on an agent. I was a fan of a couple of Wild Rose Press authors and decided to query them. Bear with Me went into contract November of 2019.
I appreciate your bold gesture. And congratulations on landing in the Wild Rose Press Garden. It's a great publishing house and the authors in the garden are amazing. Tell us, are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
I would like to give a special shout out to my adopted hometown neighbor, JR Ward. While I was editing Bear with Me, I went to her presentation at our local library and was lucky enough to meet her. By having the speediest dialing, I was one of the first 30 participants to RSVP, winning a ticket to the pre-lecture reception. She talked about having the courage to write how the story in your head instead of the story desired by the market, the publisher, or the haters.
She autographed my idea book with the advice “only listen to your rice crispies”. She gave me the courage to keep the spice level of the Strawberry Shifters at the hot level of the books I like to read. One of the themes of Bear with Me is the balance of power in a marriage needs to be equal in all areas: emotional, financial, intellectual, and sexual. Taking the naughty scenes out or cooling them down would diminish the journey. I had to develop the courage to share them for which I credit JR Ward.
Good advice and an amazing thrill for you. Now that your published, what does literary success look like to you?
I have to admit, I am in it for fans. I can’t wait to sell books at a convention booth, signing autographs, and talking about Strawberry with readers. The ultimate sign of literary success for me would be fan art! I have zero artistic talents and in awe of anyone who does. The first fan to approach me with their rendition of Grant or Alison will probably be met with gushing happy tears. Be warned!
Life Hacks for Authors. Do you have any tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others. I’m also interested in how you have been managing your life and writing with COVID-19.
My son was diagnosed as immunocompromised and too sick for school in 2013, so we have had years to adjust to social distancing. My best tips involve using space and technology to work for you instead of against you. First, we have UV sterilizers for phones and tablets to avoid smearing them with disinfecting wipes several times per day. Putting the phones in the sterilizer for an hour at night not only keeps them from passing germs but gives us an hour of alone time…
Secondly, summer in Kentucky means farm-fresh produce, meat, and dairy which we prefer. After soaking produce in very dilute white vinegar to decontaminate them, I freeze, can, and pickle enough to last the winter. Lastly, but also concerning food, we have a grocery wiping station set up in the garage with wipes, gloves, paper towels, indoor-only cloth grocery bags, and new plastic bags if some of the packaging falls apart during decontamination. The equipment stays in a bin in the garage waiting to be used to avoid having to find everything when you get home from the grocery.
Before COVID, we evaluated immunity risks based on crowd level, air quality, cleanliness, food, and activity. The zoo is a better choice than a movie theater just because of the ability to spread out, minimal eating so you can wear a mask, and fresh air with the sun’s UV rays. Letting Mother Nature help keep you safe with her air-purifying plants and sunlight is an excuse to reconnect with the green spaces in your area. While my family does not rough it, we love an isola-cation like glamping here with you.
Wow you really were prepared for this. Thank you for sharing it. And now the fun questions
What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme
My husband travels overseas for work several times per year. I asked that he brings back a mug from each destination. In a few years, I have amassed a collection of mugs from around the world. My favorite is my Canada mug because my spouse was able to purchase on our vacation without my knowledge. While we were suffering through security on the way home, he vanished. I struggled through the line with my nine-year-old and our gear. My husband reappeared when it was our turn to go through the scanners. The rogue let me gripe about it to him the whole trip home and throughout our first days back. It wasn’t until I unloaded the dishwasher that I found the mug and pieced together what he did. He had been laughing internally for nearly a week while I nagged him.
Teach me something I don’t know in two sentences.
The oldest myths of people shifting completely into animals are stories about dolphin shifters. The Indus wrote about Ganga and Makara, the Olmecs wrote about Boto Encantado’s many lovers, and next summer Smoother Than Spumoni will introduce readers to Suzie Larkin and her mystery mate.
What’s your favorite cartoon and why?
Growing up in the 1980s, I was a major fan of the Smurfs. Watching Smurfette navigate being the only -ette in the village helped me navigate being the only girl in my engineering classes. My son is a huge smurfs fan as well. We watch the Lost Village from a blanket fort most weekends.
If you could eat anything in the world right now, what would it be?
I brought pizza dough and foil so we could fire pizzas over the campfire if you don’t mind. Even though I am mildly allergic to tomatoes, I could live on pizza. I make pesto sauces of every green leafy herb and veggie imaginable to substitute for marinara. I freeze it to make pizzas all winter long. No extravagant toppings are necessary although I do love piling on fresh herbs from my garden atop a cheese pizza.
What's the last thing you really geeked out about?
I was reading about Kirlian photography and how it captures the energetic discharges differently from healthy organs and cancer infected organs. As much as I love reading about shifters and vampires, the strange behavior of subatomic particles in the body is more bizarre. I have a master’s degree in Particle Physics and still geeked out over medical testing and interventions based on sub-molecular principles. I write about pharma nerds because I am a pharma nerd married to another pharma nerd.
LOL! Marilyn, it's be not only fun but educational to have you here today. I wish you and your family a safe and healthy future. Please leave us some information about where we can learn more about you and your books.
Thank you for allowing me to visit your blog. As a new author, extra exposure means the world to me. I appreciate this opportunity and want to make the experience working with me the best possible. If you need additional information, please ask.
Blue eyes, dimples, and silky brown hair; Grant Luther has all of Alison's
When he asks for one last chance to save their marriage, she agrees to relocate their family to isolated Strawberry, Kentucky in pursuit of his career dreams. Grant views Alison's sensory issues as limitations and protects her from outside threats. When he finds his new job includes changing him into a shifter in a war against the soul-sucking Sluagh he vows to keep the changes a secret. What he doesn't know is Alison has been hiding a magical secret of her own. One that makes her a target of the Sluagh.
Will Alison emerge from Grant's shadow to protect her family? And can Grant learn that being different can be a strength not a weakness?
Book Excerpt: “You look perfect. I mean perfectly healthy. I mean mostly uninjured,” she stammers. She places her tiny hand over her eyes. Feeling braver than ever, I walk right up to her. I gently remove the hand from her face and hold it to my own. “See, I’m fine,” I whisper as I gently rub my thumb over her tiny knuckles. Her eyes lift to mine and lock our gazes. I have always found the golden color of her eyes fascinating but never studied them up close. They are light brown with a golden star in the middle. I am literally star gazing as she takes in the injuries to my face. We stand there for about a minute, lost in time. I wonder if she is thinking about when we first started dating, the hard times that followed, the present, or the future. I search her face for clues but don’t want to break the spell by opening my mouth. I decide to put said mouth to better use by lowering my head toward hers.
Barnes & Noble
Marilyn Barr currently resides in the wilds of Kentucky with her husband, son, and rescue cats. When engaging with the real world, she is collecting characters, empty coffee cups, and unused homeschool curricula. She has a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, biodefense microbiologist, high school science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant, and advocate for the autistic community.
She would love to hear from readers via her website: www.marilynbarr.com.
Amazon author profile
Good morning, campers! Today's guest is also a friend and local to my area author. Last week Judy helped me celebrate my book releases. I've also read her A Timeless Kiss which has much of the history of my local area combined with a wonderful romance. So please help me welcome Judy with a hearty Huzzah. What can I get you?
A cup of tea and cookies, my favorite snack food.
I'm sure to have those things around. You know my 5th Wheel is like the replicator on Star Trek's Enterprise. One up of Earl Grey, Hot and some shortbread cookies coming up. So, Judy, tell us have you ever camped.
My husband and I had a motor-home and we crossed the country twice and have visited 44 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. One of the most moving experiences we had was when we visited Mount Rushmore and they honored all the service men and women in the audience and asked them to come up on stage.
We started out camping with our children when they were young. My daughter was three months old. We had a 27 foot trailer in a campground and we went there every weekend. We took them tent camping to Cape Cod and Providence. Both of them became Scouts so they learned about making S’mores at an early age.
Wonderful! How exciting to see this great country of ours and honoring our service men and woman outstanding. How have you been handling events of the recent pandemic? Has you writing been affected? To what extent?
We had plans to do some traveling this summer, a fun trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan, but plans were cancelled. AS for writing, I’ve gotten a lot done since we’re all kind of homebound. Someone asked if I plan to incorporate Covid 19 into a story. At this point. I don’t think people should have to be reminded about the tragedy going on in the world.
Sorry about your trip, we're holding our breath regarding an upcoming New England trip. It's great you've hung on to your muse. I get you about the Covid story line. I'm working on a manuscript that had the flu in it before the pandemic and I'm chewing on how to handle it. Can you please tell us a little about your project. Title, Genre, Inspiration
My books are contemporary romance, romantic suspense and seasoned romance. My inspiration is what goes on around me. Since I’ve traveled so much, I’ve incorporated places I’ve visited. I’ve a US Park Ranger series that takes place in National parks since I’ve visited quite a few. My son manages a hotel in Florida and I’ve set a series in his hotel. I also love to write about mature characters, 35 and older. I’ve a four book romantic suspense series about four couples who are 50 years old. The series is based on Cape May, NJ, but I created my own town, Beacon Pointe. I created another small town, Laurel Heights, based on the Pennsylvania Highlands just outside of Pittsburgh.
Do you have a tagline or life motto?
My tagline and motto is: Love Never Dies After all, I married my high school sweetheart and I never had another boyfriend. We met in the 9th grade.
That's so sweet. It's rare these days for couples to stay together so long. I wonder if there are others reading today who will tell us how long they've been together and any pieces of advice. Speaking of advice do you have any Life Hacks for Authors? Tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
Since I’m an Indie author, I feel one of the most important things you should have is a great editor and proof reader. I have both. Don’t skimp. Readers are very intelligent and you will be called out if a book is full of errors.
Excellent advice! Now the fun questions
(Cracked me up)
Foil Wrapped Dinner – Girl Scout Style
Cut up chicken breasts, potatoes, carrots, peppers and onions. Sprinkle with BBQ sauce. Divide into individual servings. Place on the grill and cook for about a half hour, or until veggies are tender. Flip once or twice to make sure veggies aren’t sticking. I usually spray the foil before filling. Fast and easy.
Yum and easey-peasey. Thanks for being part of the Campfire today Judy, and before you leave can you tell us more about your books and where to find you.
New Release – Pre Order https://amzn.to/3fCiwu0
How do you open your heart for a new love when it’s frozen? That’s the dilemma Margaret Taylor has been facing since losing her beloved husband. Demands as a Judge and the Mayor of Laurel Heights, has left very little time for being just Margaret. She signs up with a tour group to take the dream vacation she and her husband planned to go on, a land and sea tour of Alaska.
Over the year’s she’s received threats and has recognized them as all part of the job. When she receives three life-threatening notes, her family urges her to cancel her vacation. She refuses.
Her much needed vacation takes an unexpected turn when she recognizes one of the other people in the tour group. Why is Brent Saeger walking around free? He was sentenced to life in prison for murder.
Brent Saeger believes that life was guided by fate and one should never do a “favor” because it came with unexpected consequences. His favor for the CIA landed him in prison for murder. Fate had another undercover operative in the right time and place that proved Brent’s innocence.
Working for Adams Security and Investigations, he gets a special assignment. He’s to go undercover and protect the owner’s mother-in-law, Margaret Taylor. She’d be more receptive to meeting an old friend. He can’t tell her his real purpose for being there.
Fate once again sucker punched him. Protect his Maggie May. That shouldn’t be a problem since his heart has been frozen since she fell in love with his best friend.
A romantic suspense with twists and turns that will keep you turning pages to the very end.
Judy Kentrus, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense.
I’ve always been a romantic at heart and married my high school sweetheart. I make my home in the Poconos of Pennsylvania. After raising our two children, I followed my dream to publish my books. I also love to travel and many of my stories incorporate where I’ve been. When I’m not at my computer giving couples their happily-ever-after, you can find me in the kitchen, baking, especially cookies. I’ve been dubbed the cookie queen by my family and friends. My stories are fun, sexy, romances that will make you laugh, cry and fall in love.
Hi, Susan thanks for being such a trooper and jumping in at the last minute. Being flexable is definitely part of the campers personality. As Sheldon Cooper would say, "May I offer you a beverage?"
Cocoa and only cocoa!
Great choice. There's nothing better than sitting around the fire with a cup of liquid heaven. I even make my own. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
When our boys were little we camped with my in-laws, first in a pop-up and later in a RV.
That's how many begin. I spoke with my son last night to firm up a trip with the Grands. Tell us about your latest project.
By Promise Made should have an official publication date within two or three weeks. It is set when Mary, Queen of Scots was four years old and many in power threatened her life. Hugh Cullane and Katherine Payne are pledged to protect her. Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen's guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.
Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.
Sounds intriguing! How long did it take you from conception to publication? It takes me about a year to complete the book to send to the publisher. Publisher editing takes several months more.
It can be a long process that many are unaware of Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? This may sound hokey, but since working with Wild Rose Press, I am so impressed by the many other authors at Wild Rose and the quality of what they write.
I don't think it's hokey at all. Since becoming a member of the Garden, I am amazed at the supportive authors, editors and Rhonda, R.J. and Lisa. I'm also blessed with my own editor, Elf Felder. Please share with us what you thing literary success looks like.
It may not be on the best seller list, but to hear that people I don’t even know enjoyed what I wrote makes my day like no other.
Amen to that. Do you have any Life Hacks for Authors? Also the pandemic is at the front of most peoples minds what's helped get you through?
None of us have enjoyed this recent pandemic and subsequent quarantine, but we’ve endured as best we could. Some days went well. Others truly sucked. I think I would have gone over to the dark side, if I didn’t have some 400-year-old friends to keep me company.
Hugh Cullane and Kit Payne in my second novel, By Promise Made, got me through the lock down of March and April. Working on the edits was at times tedious, but I got to watch Hugh and Kit fall deeper into their adventure and their romance. It’s hard to explain to non-writers how much I actually love them! The book should be out very soon, and I can hardly wait to share their story in print.
It's astounding how an author can get so immersed in their story and characters. And I think, especially in the romance genre we can help our reader a bit of escape, entertainment and hope when they read our books.
Now onto our fun questions
By Promise Made isn't avialable yet but if the blurb above intrigued you maybe you can whet your whistle with
Vicious gangs of reivers roam Scotland during the tumultuous reign of James V, and one of these gangs, led by a man with a red stain on his face, threatens all that Robin holds dear. The man steals Robin's ear and then nearly steals his life, but Robin will not let him take anything else, not his home, not his family, and not the woman he loves. Even when accused of murder and facing the hangman's noose, Robin will remain steadfast above all else.
As long as she lives, Suannoch will carry her half of the shilling she and Robin split when they pledged their devotion to each other. Even after she is forced into an unwanted betrothal, their unwavering love is stronger than anything trying to keep them apart. After Robin's arrest, Suannoch vows to rescue him or bring his body back, because where they have chosen, steadfast will they be.
Susan Leigh Furlong is a lifelong writer about people who were so busy living their lives they didn’t know they were living history. With research and imagination her favorite thing is to drop her hero and heroine in the middle of true historical event. She has written two non-fiction books about her hometown and co-authored a play about the twelve disciples at the Last Supper. Her first book from Wild Rose Press, Steadfast Will I Be, was published in June 2019. The second book, By Promise Made, has a coming-soon publication date.
Although raised a big city girl, she now lives in small town Ohio with her husband and two cats, Calvin and Hobbes.
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