Good morning! Before I welcome today's guest to my actual campfire, I want to give you a camping update. As many of you know, my dear husband Pete retired. We've been looking forward to this Retirement Camping Trip. Last night we arrived at the https://koa.com/campgrounds/niagara-falls-new-york/ The nice thing about traveling with your own rig is the control you have for social distancing. We are entirely self contained and can enjoy our trips not worrying about masks and dirty restrooms etc. Over the next to weeks we'll be hitting New Hampshire/ Bar Harbor, Maine/ Boston, Mass./ Mystic Ct and then home. I have to take a rapid Covid test before returning to work. Almost seems silly. I'll be away from people, only to return home and go to a doctor's office where there are sick people. Take the test, I'm sure it will be negative but will I get infected during my time in the waiting room? Who knows.
Anyway this is the plan for the next couple of days. See a Great Lake for the first time. Watch the Falls. Go to a winery and pick up some local vintages. Hike with Hali. Cook over the open fire. Sit around the campfire. Check in on my Guest Blog, Reviews and so much more page, for pictures and stuff. follow my social media, or sign up for my newsletter. Thanks for popping by the campfire and now here's my guest now...
Hi Maria! Here's a blanket. It's a little chilly today. What can I get you, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine? The camp fridge is like the Starship Enterprise, you speak it, you get it.
Since it’s morning, I’ll take coffee. After 5, it would definitely be wine.
Girl after my own heart. Here you go. I do have some pumpkin spice if your in the mood. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
Nope. I’m not much for bugs, wild animals, scary nighttime sounds, or dirt. I don’t like to be cold either. On the other hand, I do like campfires (as long as I can go inside before bedtime), talking to friends for hours, and staring at a starry sky.
That's exactly why I have a 5th Wheel. Indoor plumbing, heat, and a bug free environment. Tell us about your latest project. What book are you talking about today and what’s on the horizon?
Today, I’m talking about “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz”. It takes place in the small factory town of Roebling, NJ in 1951. I loosely based my heroine (Katie) on my mother, who had grown up in Roebling, and was a ballroom dance teacher in Trenton, at Arthur Murray’s Dance Studio. The hero (Chaz) is a Roebling cousin who has come back home after college to work in the family business. Katie and Chaz reconnect at Katie’s mother’s Ice Cream Shoppe which was based on my grandmother’s confectionery and ice cream store. My fond memories from the early 60s of that shop came flooding back with this book. I interviewed my mom about the shop as well as her time teaching ballroom dance for my blog. The interviews are on my website at http://www.mariaimbalzano.com I also have a book coming out on October 21st. It’s part of The Deerbourne Inn Series published by the Wild Rose Press. It’s called “A Song for Another Day.” The hero is a singer/songwriter/musician who wants to break into the Nashville country music scene. The heroine is a singer/dancer who aspires to a role in a Broadway musical. They meet over the summer in Willow Springs and fall in love, but their careers are taking them in different directions. This book is available for pre-order on amazon.
I've read Blueberry Swirl Waltz and gave it a 5 Owl review. Here's the link if our guests are interested www.goodreads.com/book/show/53256993-the-blueberry-swirl-waltz?ac=1&from_search=true&qid=B0R37e4Vfh&rank=1#other_reviews Do you have a tagline or a Life Motto?
Not a tag line, but a life motto. I have two daughters (who are now young adults), but when they were younger and had a problem at school, or with a boy, or with a girlfriend, I would tell them, “We are not mush women. We are strong and independent and capable of handling any problem.” They always laughed at me when I said this, but today they are amazing women who are definitely not mush women.
I love that! I wonder who many "NON" Mush Women are with us today? Hand's up and be counted. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
If we’re talking about my first published book (which was published in 2013), it took fifteen years. I had a lot to learn (and I was working and raising two daughters). For “The Blueberry Swirl Waltz” it took about six months.
Wowza! Fifteen years. Can we say perseverance? Most writers have a posse. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to?
When I first decided I wanted to write a book, I had no idea where to start. A flyer crossed my desk for a legal seminar called “How to Write Your Book in Fourteen Days – A Lawyers Guide).” It was given by Steve Manning. That half day seminar helped get me started, since all I had in my head was an idea. To this day, I use that guide to blueprint each new book.
Thanks for that information. I'm sure many will be looking it up especially me. I'll make it easy. Here's the link to the book. www.amazon.com/Write-Book-Anything-Days-Guaranteed/dp/0969261314 Will you share with us what literary success look like to you?
As long as I’m happy doing what I’m doing, I count that as successful. I recently retired from the practice of law. I was a divorce lawyer for over thirty years. Writing romance full time instead of battling it out in the courtroom makes me extremely happy.
Good for you. Being able to do what makes you happy is an amazing privilege. Do you have any Life Hacks for Authors. Tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
I believe the most important parts of writing a book are 1) outlining your story (my outline is a blueprint for every scene, every chapter) and 2) editing. Once I’ve tackled the inciting incident, the conflicts between the characters (internal and external), two turning points, and the black moment in my blueprint, the book is easy to write. The edits are then the most important and most time consuming exercise, but critical to making your book shine.
Wow, I'm more of a Pantser but finding with writing my second Impact Book I need more structure. You sound very organized. I guess it's the lawyer in you. Now, on to the fun questions. 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?
When my first book got published, my husband took our family out to dinner and presented me with a gift. It was a diamond ring with five small round diamonds in a row. I call it my book ring. I had written five manuscripts and the fifth was the first one to be published.
What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme?
I have two favorite wineglasses. One says “Oops! Did I buy wine again instead of milk?” The other says, “Home is where mom is.”
What's your favorite candy, cookie, pasta?
I love M&M’s. I’ve convinced myself that only having a handful isn’t so bad.
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?
Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones. It gets me dancing, and I love to dance.
What’s your favorite fairy tale?
Cinderella. I love the rags to riches trope, especially where ball gowns are involved.
Maria, Thank you for spending time around the fire with us today. Before you leave, could you tell us where we can find your books, you, and maybe a sneak peak at Blueberry Swirl Waltz?
After a family crisis, Katie Hathaway must return home to help out in the family's ice cream shop. She leaves behind her dream job of teaching ballroom dance to spend her summer scooping ice cream and mixing milkshakes.
Chaz Hollander, Katie's high school crush, has also returned to town to work in his family's business. After Katie treats him to a blueberry swirl sundae, he invites her to the town's upcoming dance. The only problem is he has two left feet.
When Katie starts giving Chaz dance lessons, their chemistry ignites, and the postponement of her dream doesn't seem as ominous. But financial woes and a suspicious business deal cast a shadow on their budding relationship.
Here's a little exerpt
She’d thought she left this small town behind, yet here she was on the Fourth of July, standing on a patch of grass she’d walked over at least a hundred times while growing up. But this time, she was an observer, a silent owl using a tree for cover, taking it all in.
“Would you mind sharing your space with me?” Chaz’s intimate whisper rained through her veins, as his breath tickled the sensitive spot below her ear.
She peeked over her shoulder, and he was so close her blood effervesced. “I suppose I could. This is a very special spot that I reserved weeks ago.”
“I’d be honored if you’d consider it.” His magnificent smile sealed the deal.
“Consider it shared.”
Buy Links for The Blueberry Swirl Waltz
Barnes and Noble (Nook) www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-blueberry-swirl-waltz-maria-imbalzano/1136868420?ean=2940162717799
Apple Books https://books.apple.com/us/book/the-blueberry-swirl-waltz/id1508636829
Google Play https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Maria_Imbalzano_The_Blueberry_Swirl_Waltz?id=zubmDwAAQBAJ
BookSprout Review Link https://booksprout.co/arc/37947/the-blueberry-swirl-waltz
September is here. Can we have a moment of silence for summer. It was a strange one certainly. Hubby and I have been on a few camping trips. Last weekend was amazing and we met such great people. We fell in love with Darla the dachshund next door in particular. This weekend were home in New Jersey and it's great to have a fellow Jersey Girl around the fire. Below is one of our latest fires. I hope you enjoy not only the fire but the great conversation around it. Be kind. Be safe. Be the sort of person you'd like to call friend. Now without further yapping from me...
Today I’m welcoming contemporary romance author and fellow Garden State homegirl, Jennifer Wilck, to the fire. Glad you could join us Jennifer, what’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, wine? The camp fridge is like Aladdin's lamp, you speak it, you get it.
Oh gosh, I have to choose? Well, since we’re sitting around the fire looking at the stars, I’ll have cocoa, please.
One cup of my secret recipe for cocoa coming up. While my brew is bubbling, tell us, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
Ha! Well, yes. My husband used to go camping with his family when he was young, so we started camping when we were first married. However, our ideas of what’s acceptable for camping out are very different—he’s more of a “put everything you need in one backpack and sleep on the ground” and I’m definitely “where’s the hotel and tile shower,” so we compromised. We had a nice tent, an air mattress or two, and comfy pillows. My two favorite trips were 10 days through the Smoky Mountains, although we never went more than two in a tent (we’d break it up with a stay in a hotel for my sake), and then several years later with friends at a wolf preserve. It’s been a while since we last went, and I wouldn’t mind trying it again.
Oh my I wonder if it was the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia NJ? That's one of my favorite places. But in the meantime, tell us about your latest project. What book are you talking about today and what’s on the horizon? My latest project is Whispers in Washington, a contemporary Jewish romance that’s part of the Ticket To True Love series. The TTTL series is a multi-author anthology. All the stories incorporate a ticket of some kind—mine are parking tickets—and a small town in the Poconos with a natural spring that supposedly helps you fall in love. It was a little tricky fitting all that into my story, but it was fun to do! I was so honored to be asked to join the group—there are some really good authors in it—and Whispers in Washington comes out September 29.
Just came back from a Pocono's camping adventure, so you have my attention. Do you have a tagline? Life Motto?
I think the tagline on my website represents me pretty well: Love, Laughter, and Happily Ever After. Because really, life is so much easier to handle when you laugh and love.
I love that and it's so true! How long did it your book take you from conception to publication?
I just had to look that up. For Whispers in Washington, it will be almost exactly a year. Wow, that flew by!
Very few writers can go it alone. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to?
Well, I’d like to send a big thank you to JB Schroeder, Eli Collier and AJ Scudiere/Savannah Kade for inviting me to be a part of the Ticket To True Love series. They’re wonderful writers in their own rights and they were so helpful with all my questions.
Jennifer, tell us. What does literary success look like to you?
It’s a balance between writing what I love, attracting a following of devoted readers, and being able to make those readers laugh, cry and escape the world for a little while.
I agree. Touching the life of a reader and giving them something away from the onus of our busy lives are important. Do you have any Life Hacks for Authors. 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.
I think my best tip is keeping a schedule to help with time management. Regardless of what’s going on, I try to divide my day up into writing, marketing and household activities (which vary constantly). Especially during quarantine, when things are so uncertain, knowing that on Wednesdays I always do X, Y, and Z keeps me productive and semi-sane. And especially when I’m having a hard time motivating, setting a word count—even a short one—or doing writing sprints—enables me to get the WIP done.
Being organized certainly is helpful . Thank you for sharing. Now the fun questions
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?
A fuzzy dice (the kind that hangs from the rearview mirror)—my husband won it for me when we were dating, and he put my engagement ring in it when he proposed.
What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme.
“They whispered to her, you cannot withstand the storm. She whispered back, I am the storm.” I’ve seen this as a meme, on T-shirts and mugs, and I love it.
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?
Family game nights during the COVID quarantine. None of us were where we expected to be, but my husband and two college kids were here with me laughing and trying to beat each other at Dominion.
Teach me something I don’t know in two sentences. The trick to making light and airy matzah balls is to boil them in seltzer, rather than regular water. Otherwise they come out heavy and sit in your stomach like a rock.
Favorite childhood book?
The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe series
Last movie you saw?
Jennifer, thank you so much for joining me around the fire today. I'd love for you to leave some information about your book and where readers can find out more about you.
Naomi's life has been destroyed…
When Naomi Adelman’s crooked politician husband was arrested, her life, and that of her daughters, was destroyed. Divorced and rebuilding her life, Naomi is wiser, stronger, and determined not to let anyone hurt her or her family again. Her new life doesn’t include falling for her charming and good-looking neighbor.
Max bet everything and lost...
Max Bruder bet his entire career on the Adelman story and lost everything. So, he figures that karma has smiled down on him when Naomi moves in next door. This is his chance to revitalize his career. Except the closer he gets to her, the deeper he falls for her. And soon, the line between interview subject and lover blurs.
If they fall for each other, they may jeopardize their chance at a future.
When Max’s true motive is revealed, will Naomi be able to forgive him? And will Max be able to stop the whispers to protect her before it’s too late?
“Problem?” Max asked. They’d stopped in front of their building.
She turned so fast, her hair caught on the stubble at his jaw. “No.” She brushed the hair away from his cheek, the slight textured stubble rubbing against her palm and sending heat straight to her belly. His lips parted, and he leaned forward.
Would he kiss her? Did she want him to? She shouldn’t, she barely knew him, but her skin tingled, her breasts tightened and her breath came in short gasps.
He didn’t kiss her. Instead, he reached his free hand out and stroked the side of her head, smoothing her hair in place. “Yes,” he whispered.
She frowned, and tried to hide her disappointment. “Yes, what?”
“Your hair is as silky as I wondered.” He let his hand glide down her neck to her shoulder, and the contact brought out goose bumps. “Are you cold?” he asked.
She didn’t know how to answer. Was it okay for her to say, “no, I’m attracted to you?” Or should she say “yes”?
As if he understood her dilemma, he let go of her hand, slid his arm behind her shoulders, and drew her into the warmth of his body.
The man was a furnace and she wanted to groan in pleasure. They stood toe to toe, his hand running up and down her spine, her breasts pressed against his hard chest. Would he kiss her? Should she kiss him? Her brain short circuited and desire flooded through her. All she could do was focus on the warmth flooding her, the soothing sound of his humming something she couldn’t quite catch, and the zings of desire running throughout her body.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/whispers-in-washington-jennifer-wilck/1137178511?ean=2940163042593
Hey Pamela I'm so glad to welcome you to the Campfire. What can I offer you? The campfire fridge is like Mary Poppins' bag, it has everything. And my recommendation today is pumpkin spice coffee.
Hi Donna! Thanks for having me at the camp. Hey...my favorite campfire beverage is coffee in the morning and a wine cooler or homemade margarita in the evening so...depends on what time of day we're chatting LOL!
Well time is relative at camp so we'll start with coffee and see where it takes us. While I'm filling the cups, can you tell us about your favorite camping memory?
Favorite camping story.... oh my.... I have SO many to tell! Most of my 'camping' trips are actually vacations. Sometimes long ones. For instance in 2017 we took a West Coast trip.... 15 states and 15 National Parks in 7 weeks. That was a fantastic trip but I love the long weekends up at Toledo Bend Lake or Sam Raybur when we can do some fishing too, especially when my cousin and her husband join us. Those are the weekends we laugh the most - a lifetime of memories in a weekend. :-)
And how about any new adventures?
My latest adventure was travelling to Troy, Alabama for the Dixie Majors World Series baseball tournament. My travelling partner’s grandson played for North Charleston who actually won the series last year in Monroe, Louisiana!
How have you been handling events of the recent pandemic? Has you writing been affected? To what extent? Oh, this pandemic is a crazy thing isn’t it? I’ve handled things pretty well. The hardest part was back when this all started in March and not being able to attend my granddaughter’s 16th birthday party. My daughter face-timed us though, so that helped. The second hardest thing is this virus has impacted my weekly nights out on the dance floor – it has been way-too-long since we’ve done that although we have danced a few on the carport LOL! My writing has flourished though that’s probably not due to the pandemic, but to the fact that I’ve finally found my groove again after years-over a decade really-of not being able to focus on writing. Since getting My Heart Weeps files up for pre-order, I’ve completed another novella which is in the editing stage and am working on yet another.
Sorry about missing the sweet 16 but we're glad your writing again. Please tell us a little about your latest project. Title, Genre, Inspiration
My Heart Weeps is an inspirational women’s fiction novel that follows one woman’s journey through grief into new life and parallels my own. This book actually took eight (8!) years to compete! It was way too up-close and personal to get through all at once.
Sometimes writing can be so hard but also cathartic. I happy you worked through it. Do you have a tagline or life motto?
My tagline is “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and I try to live my life by my own motto which is a combination of common sense and scripture: Don’t mock what you don’t understand and judge not lest ye be judged.
Good words. I remember a line from the Narnia Chronicles. Safe?" said Mr. Beaver "Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. and life isn't safe. But we try to make it good.
Are there and tips, tricks, or anything you specialize in that you would share with others.
You know, I’ve never really thought about this… Tips and tricks – zilch LOL! I just live life as it comes along. I guess one piece of advice I would share is: Take a Breath! I’ve been on a spiritual journey for years and one thing I’ve found that helps in the stickiest situation is to simply take one or several deep breaths. Stress is a byproduct of a busy mind – you heard that right, a busy MIND not a busy life. Peace is an internal thing and begins with having peaceful thoughts. When my mind starts circling around a subject or the many things on my ‘to do’ list for the day/week/month, I tell myself all-the-time… Just take a breath, Pam, you’ve (or God’s) got this. Breath in PEACE to the slow count of four, hold for a 4 count, then breathe out STRESS to the slow count of five. This simple technique has helped me be calmer and more peaceful in some very trying circumstances. Try it sometime!
There used to be a poster in my office that said "The faster I work, the Behinder I get." I'm also familiar with the breathing technique similar to what you describe called four square breathing. Now the fun questions.
What is your favorite mug or teacup if neither T-shirt with graphic or Meme.. .
I have a huge mug that says…. Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.
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?
Visiting Churchill Downs in 2018 would certainly be on the top of my list (after birth of grandchildren of course) and visiting Boonsboro, MD (Nora Roberts’ town) would be #2.
Favorite childhood book? Or writing that inspired you to become an author.
My favorite childhood books were the Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. What inspired me to become a writer was reading one-too-many insipid little romances. I love the romance genre but at the time I was pregnant and after throwing more than one book across the room in disgust figured I could do better. A might arrogant to say the least, LOL! But that’s what got me started. I’ve since found writing and writing well are two different things.
Would you rather have unlimited international first-class tickets or never have to pay for food at restaurants?
Oh, this is easy! International first-class tickets because I LOVE to travel and dream of going to Italy, Ireland and Jerusalem someday.
Did you ever win something? What?
I’m sure I’ve won a few things in my life but what stands out the most is winning $2000 at a casino. I’m not a huge gambler and I actually won with “free play” money. What’s so amazing about it is that I wanted to attend a spiritual workshop with a few friends, and I mentioned to God that I’d love to be able to pay their way. “That’d take about two-thousand dollars though….” Well, guess what? Yep, I won that money shortly afterward and was able to treat three of my friends to the workshop. The fourth couldn’t make it so I sent her the money. God never ceases to amaze me.
If someone came up to you and said, “Hey, do that thing you do!”, what thing would pop into your head, first? DANCE! I love music and I love to be out on the dancefloor…. Waltz, two-step, jitterbug, line dancing. Regardless how tired I am or stressful my day, I always get my second wind when it comes to dancing.
What subjects should be taught in school, but aren’t?
Oh my, I think one of the most important subjects should be Budgeting and Balancing a Checkbook and perhaps Wise Saving/Investing. In this day and age when every penny is tracked online, and credit card debt is beyond belief, young people have no idea how to balance a checkbook or budget their income and these life skills are imperative with the way our economy fluctuates and the future of Social Security always hanging in the balance.
Thanks for being part of the Campfire, Pam. It's so wonderful getting to know you better. Would you leave us information about your book and how to find out more? There's also some exciting news about a giveaway at the end of this post.
Title: My Heart Weeps
Blurb: After thirty years married to the man of her dreams, Melena Rhyker is devastated by her husband's death. Relief comes in the form of an artist's retreat at the Crossed Penn ranch in Utopia, TX. She rediscovers a forgotten dream as her artistic talent flourishes into that of a gallery-worthy artist. Will she have the courage to follow the path she was destined to travel?
Garrett Saunders has been on the run most of his life. Abused and abandoned as a child, he escapes the clutches of a past filled with pain and shame, and hides from his calling as a Native American healer. His years as a CIA agent aid in overcoming his childhood and honing his talent and skill as a fine art photographer.
Follow their journey as two people who come from totally different backgrounds, but share gifts of gigantic proportions, find meaning and purpose in the Texas Hill Country.
My Heart Weeps is on sale for a limited time @ 99cents and FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
Purchase Link: https://bit.ly/MyHeartWeeps
Author bio: Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.” Sign up to receive Pam’s newsletter and get a FREE short story!
Website address: http://www.pamelathibodeaux.com
Face Book: http://facebook.com/pamelasthibodeaux
Twitter: http://twitter.com/psthib @psthib
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/1jUVcdU
Pam is giving away 1 Ebook, 1 Autographed Print Book, 1 Audio Book, a $15 Amazon Gift Card, a 1-month Audible membership and a SURPRISE Giftpack to 6 lucky people! (1 prize per winner) Names will be collected throughout the tour which ends Sept. 30th. Winners will be notified, and prizes awarded by October 10th so be sure to leave your EMAIL Address!
Blog Tour Dates/Stops:
8/11 Gail Pallotta’s Peering Through Life’s Window
8/13 Liz Flaherty’ Word Wranglers Blog
8/15 Clare Revell’s The Word Can Wait Blog
8/18 Southern Writers Suite T Blog
8/18 Alina K Field’s Simply Romance Blog
8/20 Penelope Marzec’s Bookish Thoughts Blog
8/25 Jana Richards’ Romance Story Board Blog
8/27 Beverly Bateman’s BLOG
9/1 Valarie Goree’s Facebook Page
9/5 D. V. Stone’s Campfire Blog
9/9 Jacqueline Seewald’s BLOG
9/11 Linda Rondeau’s Snark & Sensibility Blog
9/14 Patricia Kioyno’s Four Foxes, One Hound Blog
9/18 Diane Burton’s BLOG
9/22 Alicia Dean’s BLOG
9/25 Jeny Hickman’s BLOG
9/30 Linda Nightingale’s Author…Musings Blog
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
God Bless you Pam.
And before we go, remember summers not over and it's never to late for ice cream. The One Scoop Or Two Series is still going strong. Even when the chill of fall and winter is upon us, you can always escape to the beach or the lake with one of these tasty treats. Check them out at www.amazon.com/s?k=one+scoop+or+two+wild+rose+press&i=digital-text&crid=2KJT8J0VT82EZ