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. This is the time of year when you walk outside it's crisp, and the smell of smoke from fireplaces invite you to stay out as long as possible. Then, inside at night, curl up with a good book, a soft blanket, and a warm cup of something. 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.
Today I’m welcoming fellow Wild Rose Press author ML Erdahl to the Around the Campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Like any true Seattlite, the answer is coffee. Our town runs on it. However, a glass of wine or herbal tea at night always goes down well.
Coffee it is. I don't start my day without it. Seattle is one of the pins on my map of places to visit so maybe I'll fit right in. Tell us have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I’ve done overnight backpacking in national forests and parks, tent camped all over the entire western United Sates, and done some glamping in my parents fifth wheel. This outdoor life was the inspiration for my main character’s job as a wilderness guide.
It's amazing the beauty of heading out into the country and seeing all she has to offer. I'm East Coast and soon be heading west. How great it is you can take your life experience and it inspires your writingt project. What’s the title and genre?
My new release is a cozy mystery, “Winter Takes All.” A murder ruins wilderness guide Crystal Rainey’s first snowshoe hike, endangering her new dream job and budding romance with her fellow guide, Conner Oakes.
Sounds exciting! I had to look up cozy mystery. From what I understand they are fun, often humorous, mysteries that downplay violence. Usually, about a woman gets caught up in a situation and ends up puzzle solving. Do you have a tagline?
So many suspects, so little time.
I love it. How long did it take you from conception to publication?
Oh, wow. I had the beginning of the story shoved in a drawer, but once I got serious about finishing it, the whole process took three long years to publication.
Readers and new writers often don't understand how long it can take. What are your challenges as a writer. Did you ever hit the place where you threw your arm up in the air and said nope this is not going to work? If so, how did you get past it?
Countless times have I done just that (Designing my web page comes to mind!). There are so many unfamiliar paths that I didn’t know I’d be taking when I started this process. Not only am I an author, but I’m a web page developer, a marketer, and an editor. To get past it, I have to go through several phases. After I throw what my wife likes to call a “pity-party” I start into my first learning phase, stop for another what-am-I-doing moment, and then throw myself back into it.
You're a man who wears many hats but has a plan. It's also wonderful to have an understanding spouse who gives out tough love. Next question, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
I’m pretty focused on my wilderness guide series right now. I’m so busy juggling marketing my new release and finishing the editing of my second novel in the series, I can’t imagine taking on another project at this point.
Focused. Good for you. It's something I can be lacking. Looking over your shoulder into the past, is there something you would tell your beginning self?
This is an easy question for me. I wrote the first version of my book without ever once cracking the spine of a book on the craft. When I had finished my first draft, I was left with a mediocre book with nuggets of gold. That’s when I taught myself how to write by studying books on fiction. I had to completely re-write the first version into the incarnation it is today.
Wow, I did the same thing and it's sure hard to go back and fix it. Now the fun questions. If they made a movie about your life what would the title be and who would play you?
If it’s my choice, I’m picking someone who makes me look good. I’m going with Matthew McConaughey and would title it “Making it up as I go along.”
Do you have a tattoo? If not and you were to get one, what would it be?
No tattoos, yet. If I did, it would probably my wife’s name on my arm. Nothing too spicy to see here :).
None for me either. Your wife is a lucky woman. What was the best vacation you ever took?
My wife Emily and I camped on Orcas Island for a week and a half. Every morning, we would set out from the campsite with our terrier Zoe on a new trail in the wilderness or would canoe on the nearby lake. At night we would relax by the campfire, playing games and eating s’mores.
I looked up Orcas Island and it looks gorgeous. Here's a link http://orcasisland.org/camping/ Games are truly a camping thing. My husband and I play an on-going game of 500 Rummy. We're at about 50,000 points. Years ago, there was a commercial which talked about a time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget. What is yours?
I remember holding my wife’s hands as we said our vows to each other. Her hands were trembling slightly, as were mine, but the moment was magic.
That is a perfect answer. I wonder how many of our guests today have a particular memory of their wedding they'd like to share with you and me in the comments? Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what author inspired your imagination enough to write.
I have received so much useful guidance from so many people, I couldn’t hope to name them all. I’m a member of the PNWA (Pacific Northwest Writing Association), and the writing conference they hold each year is chock full of classes by exquisite writers designed to hone your craft. My editor, Ally Robertson, gave me hard truths in a kind way to make my book the best it could be. My fellow Wild Rose Press authors share wisdom to help navigate the crazy world of marketing and promotion.
It often takes a village to publish a book. What does literary success look like to you?
Aside from a million dollars in sales?
LOL. Yes, aside from the millions.
I want people to read my novel and feel like they escaped on a wild ride. I want a reader to turn the last page and immediately download my next book to continue the adventure.
Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year's resolutions haven't changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company's detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it's too late.
Not the most auspicious start to my guiding career, Crystal admitted to herself.
Conner sat back down, took a grateful swig of the coffee and sighed. "This could have gone better," he said stating the obvious.
"What happens next?" Crystal asked.
"We wait until dawn, see if he turns up, and escort everyone out of here. Hopefully, Philip is waiting for us at the lodge, and we can drive this whole miserable lot back to the city a day early. In the meantime, I suggest we follow everyone's lead and try to get a little shuteye."
Conner's radio crackled with Sam's voice, "We've found the missing man from your group, Conner. He's at the bottom of a cliff. I'm sorry to say this search and rescue operation has become a search and recover."
Conner paled at the news.
"What does 'search and recover' mean?" Crystal asked.
"It means he's dead.”
Barnes and Noble
ML Erdahl lives amidst the trees of the Pacific Northwest, where he pens humorous cozy mystery novels set in the wilderness he has spent his lifetime exploring. The only thing slowing him down is when his adorable rescue dogs, Skip and Daisy, demand to be petted and cuddled on his lap while he types. When he's not wandering the mountains, you can find him gardening, reading, or searching for the best coffee in Seattle with his wife, Emily.
In the meantime this weeks movie recommendations are older but good Seattle stories.
Sleepless in Seattle
Words can inspire, thoughts can provoke, but only action truly brings you closer to your dreams.
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 joining us from relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below.
If you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter.
Today I’m welcoming author Ann Everett to the campfire. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Since I’m a southern girl so it has to be sweet tea. However, on a cozy night, cocoa is yummy.
I have recently been introduced to the lovely beverage, so guess what? I have it. Now on to camping.Did you ever tackle the great outdoors over night?
When my children were young, once a year, we’d travel to my uncle’s cabin at Toledo Bend Reservoir located on the Sabine River between Louisiana and Texas, for a family reunion. The summer that stands out in my mind is the night we were sleeping outside in a tent with our two kids and five of their cousins. About 3 AM, it came what we like to call…a frog strangler. It rained so hard water gushed into the tent. Talk about an evacuation!!! We grabbed bedding and kids and made a run for cover! By the time we made it to the porch, we were all soaked. What a fun time!! If we’d had cell phones back then, I’m sure someone would have recorded it because it was like a scene out of a summer camp movie!
Hah, I never heard that expression, frog strangler. That's hysterical. I love, when what some people would call a camping disaster, turned into such a great experience. Tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I write steamy romance and romantic mysteries. For years, members of my local critique group asked me to publish versions without the steam. For the past year, I’ve been working on that. I just released the first ‘clean’ version of my romantic mystery series, with the second re-release due for publication November 1. I also released a new steamy romance, along with a ‘clean’ version of it. I write under two pen-names. Ann Everett writes the steam. Emma Ames writes the clean!
It's so nice you are diverse. Some like it hot while other don't. Good for you giving options to readers. Do you have a tagline?
It used to be— Sass, Sizzle, Suspense—Texas-style.
However, when I had my website redone, I didn’t include that. I do still use it in other places so I should probably have my web person put it back. LOL.
You should. It's very catchy. One of the questions and often comments is about how long the process is for a writer. Some are quite prolific while others like me not so much. What about you?
Generally, it takes me a year from conception to publication. I’m not a fast writer. How I wish I was! Even the re-write of the romantic mystery I mentioned took me 6-7 months, and the story was already written!! I just had to re-edit, get a new cover, title, and format it.
What challenges have you faced during writing. I.e. Writers block, editing, marketing, time. How did you get through it?
I suffer from all of the above! I don’t call it writer’s block. I call it laziness. Some days, I just can’t make myself sit at the computer. However, even though I’m not typing, I am thinking about the plot, scenes, dialogue, etc.
Marketing is hard because it continues to change. What worked for me ten years ago, no longer works today. Just keeping up with the trends is a big job.
Editing is a pain. I belong to an online critique site where I post all of my first drafts. Once I finish a book, I take all the critique I’ve gotten from members there, and that helps me whip the book into shape concerning plot and logic. I usually have 10-12 readers who read the story from start to finish, so their input is super helpful. Once I incorporate all of those changes, then I run the manuscript through several editing programs, after that, a read-aloud program. Once all of that is done, it’s ready for a real editor. Luckily, by that time, the MS is in pretty good shape, other than minor grammar and punctuation issues.
I don't know if it's laziness. There's some days the muse just need off. And you're right about marketing. So much information seems overwhelming and finding the one that works is a daunting task. Speak about daunting your editing process is amazing. Are there any other projects you’re itching to get to?
As mentioned before, I’ve just finished one rewrite project, one new book, and now I’m working on the second rewrite. I also have a new story percolating in my head. I hope to start it soon.
I don’t normally work on more than one project at a time, however, this year, I’ve really taken on more than I should. Along with writing a new book, and rewriting one, I’m also judging a short story contest for a major website. Plus, I’m usually critiquing at least 6-10 books on The Next Big Writer, and I work part-time. That’s a lot for me!
Holy Mackerel! Maybe you should replace the sweet tea with espresso.😉 I'm opening the door to D. V.'s time machine. Hop in and let’s time-travel. Any advice, encouragement, or warnings you would tell your beginning self?
Believe in yourself more. Start writing at a younger age.
Perfect. I saw a sign in our local park the other day which said "Always be a yet." I'll post the picture below the interview. Okay, now for some fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
I like DIY projects, decorating, and baking. I also read and critique a TON of books, mostly unpublished.
DIY, how fun. My DH and I love to find stuff and turn trash to treasure. To give something a new identity which brings me to the next question If your were a superhero who would you be? It could be existing or you make up. Why?
Is the invisible Man a superhero? I’m not sure, but I’d love to be invisible…oh, the research I could get!!
Sure, you naughty woman. If you use your power for good. Lol. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
I didn’t read much when I was young. I grew up in a town with only 300 people and we didn’t have access to books when school wasn’t in session. And when it was, most of what I read was assigned reading. As a kid, I read a lot of biographies like Albert Schweitzer. Boring—right? I did read Nancy Drew mysteries, so I’d have to say they were my favorites.
I don't know what I would have done without my books growing up. But it sure looks like you're making up for it now. What is your favorite T-shirt or Meme?
Any sarcastic meme is a winner with me!
I speak fluent sarcasm as my 2nd language. Most writers need support. Are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
I highly recommend joining a local critique group or an online site. I belong to https://www.thenextbigwriter.com They also have a sister site, https://www.booksie.com for younger writers. Those on The Next Big Writer are more mature, and I think more serious about their writing. The members there are fantastic. I’m also a member of a local group. I love readers who don’t pull any punches, and tell me when something I write is good—or total crap.
I'm going to check the sites out. It's important to have honest and constructive critiques. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
The thought of having my stories—my words—still in the world long after I’m gone gives me a sense of peace. That means a great deal to me, so I suppose being remembered is my definition of success even if it’s only by my 17 fans!! LOL.
Anne, Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
Also, Ann gave us a recipe today so after the book information don't forget to scroll further for
Oh So Sweet Green Beans
Swan, a Bluebird, Texas Romance
A small-town girl rising to fame.
Swan Malone never imagined leaving Bluebird, Texas, but when her college cheerleading gig leads to fame, and her first film becomes the top-grossing movie of the year, she realizes dreams really do come true. However, not everything in her life is as good as a fairytale.
A soldier barely hanging on.
Nothing could have prepared Army Sergeant Teague Shanahan for what he endured while held hostage in enemy hands. Battered and scarred, he returns home hoping to put his life back together but finds he’s still a prisoner of his past—too broken to be fixed, even by the woman he loves.
Welcome to Bluebird, Texas
Where a girl with stars in her eyes fights to save a man with demons in his soul.
HOT or NOT
Swan, a Bluebird, Texas Romance is a steamy contemporary romance. (HOT) https://www.amazon.com/dp/1689130423
No Good Without You, a Sparrow, Texas Romance is the same story without the steam. (NOT)
Chase dropped his suitcase, wrapped Swan in a bear hug, and spun her around. “Is that any way to greet your favorite leading man?”
“Put me down.”
He released her. “Oh, come on, you know you’re glad to see me.”
Swan peered outside, scanned for reporters, and slammed the door. “How’d you find me?”
“Tracked your phone.”
“White pages app. Tracks anyone’s location.”
“Thanks a lot. You brought the paparazzi to town. My mom called and said her street’s packed with photographers.”
“Sorry. That’s why they’re there instead of here. I lost them when I arrived in Dallas. Found a fan to take me to rent a car.” He eyed Tiffany and stuck out his hand. “Hi, I’m Chase Collins, Swan’s co-star and fake lover. Although I’d be happy to make it real. All she has to do is say the word.”
“Tiffany Harper. You’re even more gorgeous in person.”
Had Chase grinned any bigger, his face would’ve split. “Thank you, Tiffany.”
She pursed her lips. “Prime coyote.”
“Thanks again,” he said.
Swan frowned. “Not a compliment.”
“Pretty sure it is. She thinks I’m clever. You know. Wily. Like Wile E. Coyote. Right, Tiff?”
“Oh, good grief.” Swan wanted to knock the smirk off his face. “He only thought he was clever. Road Runner outsmarted him every time. Remember?”
“Wile was playing straight man to Road. It’s called acting.”
“Oh, dear Lord. I give up. Again, why’re you here, Chase?”
“I missed you.” He looped an arm around her shoulders. “Besides, you’ve talked about your family so much. I wanted to meet them.”
Swan drew a deep breath and reminded herself he was all alone. She shrugged away. Guilt stabbed her gut. So, he’d stay a day or two. What was the big deal? Maybe he’d be a nice distraction for Tiffany. Give her a chance to hone her new coyote detection skills.
“You can stay a couple of days, but if we’re in public, none of the kissy-kissy, smoochy-smoochy stuff. Got it?”
“Got it. No PDA, but in private…” He puckered and came at her with fish kisses.
She pressed one palm over his mouth, and the other against his chest. “Behave or leave.”
He removed her hand and kissed it. “I’ll be nice. Just having a little fun. It was a long drive. I’m starving. Have anything to eat? Oh, and where do you want my luggage?”
Swan threw her hands in the air. “Whoa! You’re not staying here. We have a nice little motel down the road, and they always have a vacancy unless it’s during the Bluebird Festival.”
“I want to come back for that. Sounds like fun. But for this trip, I have to stay here. You already said your mom’s house is staked out. We can’t go there, and the motel will be the second place they look.” He gave the room a once-over. “Looks like Tiff has plenty of room. What is this, a 3/2? We’ll each have a bedroom. You’ll never know I’m here.”
He sauntered to the back door like he owned the place, and Swan tamped down the urge to trip him—or hit him with a skillet. She hated he was right. No way she could go to Mom’s. His voice brought her back from plotting his murder.
“Nice backyard, Tiff. Own a dog? You should. Plenty of room for him to run.”
“I’m making plans for that area,” Swan said.
He puffed out his chest. “Let me guess. Break out the grill for some Texas BBQ. Right?”
“Not exactly. My plan includes you—and a shovel.”
Tiffany giggled, and Swan loved the sound. It was the first time her friend had smiled since Thacker’s text.
“Oh, Swanee, you’re so funny. You know you love me,” Chase said.
He was right. Everybody loved Chase because underneath his cocky, flirtatious attitude, beat the heart of an orphan man-child still looking for affection and acceptance. “You aggravate me, Chase. This house is only a 2/2. I’m in one bedroom, and Tiffany is in the other. So, guess where you’re sleeping?”
He swung his attention back and forth between the two women, then settled on Swan. “I prefer to sleep with you because we’ve already been intimate.”
Swan didn’t know who looked more surprised, Tiffany or her. “We have NOT been intimate!”
“Yeah, we have. We’ve French kissed, and that’s much more intimate than sex because it allows both partners to penetrate at the same time.”
Swan clamped her hands over her ears. “Don’t say that word! There was no mutual invasion. Your tongue was the only attacker, and that was during a movie scene, which if you recall had to be redone, because you weren’t supposed to use your tongue.”
“What word? Penetration?”
“La-la-la-la-la. I can’t hear you.”
Chase doubled over laughing. “See, this is why I’ve missed you so much, Swanee. You make me happy.” He grasped her wrists and pulled her hands away. “I won’t say it anymore. Let’s eat. Sleeping arrangements to be decided later.”
Check out Ann's other books and keep up with her at any or all of the following places.
Amazon author page http://www.amazon.com/author/ann.everett
Goodreads profile https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5195211.Ann_Everett
Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-everett
This is a quick and easy, somewhat fancy tasting side dish if you’re grilling steaks or any other meat around the campfire. I’ve never found a kid who doesn’t like them.
Oh So Sweet Green Beans
Dice 4 slices of bacon and brown in a Dutch oven or heavy pot, then drain the grease.
Add 2 undrained 14.5-ounce cans of green beans, whole or sliced
4 Tablespoons butter or margarine
6 Tablespoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Simmer until hot through and through. Usually takes about 15 minutes.
Today instead of a movie recommendation here's the sign from the park.
Next week Karen Hulene Bartell, author of The Keys, will be joining me around the Campfire.
Welcome to the Campfire Do to unforeseen circumstances, today's scheduled guest is unavailable. So, I'm taking over my own blog. ?
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 joining the stars. The fire below is one of my favorites. I see a baby dragon in it. What do you see? Also, if you would like to keep up with Around the Campfire and information, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. If you use this link for the newsletter I'll enter you to win an E book of Agent Sam Carter and the Mystery at Branch Lake.
My usual first question to a guest is regarding their choice of beverage.
I'm a coffee in the morning-two cups thank you-girl. In the afternoon it's tea. Usually Earl or Lady Grey and I'm also fond of Constant Comment. And around the campfire at night? In vino veritas. In wine lies the truth.
The second question is about camping or glamping.
And yes to both. I've rough camped in my youth with nothing but a sleeping bag. Then tent camping. One of my very best friends and I camped at Lake Wallenpaupack as teenagers. I remember several things about that trip. The water was so cold when I jumped in I came up screaming. It rained incessantly and we ended up sleeping in the car because the tent leaked. The neighbors, also confined to the tent enjoy rigorous games of Yahtzee. They shouted Yahtzee loud and often. Over the years I've enjoyed the use of pop-up campers and then RVing with my sister in her Class C named Stella. As my DH and I get closer to retirement we talked about the future and how we want to spend it. Our home in New Jersey is a blessing and we don't want to give it up. Much of the layout includes outside. During the year, most of our time is spent outside, so buying an RV wasn't much of a stretch. We love our Jayco Eagle named 2Hoots. She's a big girl. Yes, I do drive her. Only in the forward direction.
What is my latest project.
Rock House Grill is the first book in my Impact Series. It's a contemporary romance with some suspense elements. My past includes many years as an Emergency Medical Technician and owner of a coffee shop and small restaurant. These combined experiences are the foundation of the story. One man's choices. One woman's impact. Rock House is about how the choices we make don't affect only ourselves but those around us. How even though we make mistakes and with the help of family and friends, there is hope.
My most asked question is How long did it take you from conception to publication?
In 2015 I took the NaNoWriMo challenge fifty thousand words in thirty days.
After a lot of editing, re-editing, and then more editing, Wild Rose Press showed interest. Then after another round of editing, re-editing and more editing, Rock House Grill was contracted. Guess what? More editing. I do have a cover now. We are hoping for a early 2020 release. So the answer is a long time.
Felice, Shield-Mates of Dar released in 2016 after four years.
What are my challenges? Most writers face a myriad of challenges. Time, not having enough of it, and then the length of the process are daunting. Recognition is another. I tell people I'm number three billion-two hundred million- seven thousand-sixty five on the best seller list. Marketing is another tough nut to crack.
The next question is about other projects. I have several at various stages of development. With Rock House simmering, Jazz House is moving along in it's first draft. The second Shield-Mates book Kisa, is in the same shape- partial draft. My heart longs to finish the first book I ever began Aimhirghin, Kingdom at a Crossroad.
Is there something I would tell my beginning self? It's easier to start a book than to finish it. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing, because it's much harder to go back and fix things, than doing it right in the first place. Comma's are my arch nemesis. Pay attention in English class.
Now the fun questions
Favorite type of movies? Action adventure. I'm a huge Avengers fan and my favorites are Guardians of the Galaxy. "I am Groot." Lord of the Rings my inspiration for writing Fantasy.
What was the best vacation I ever took? Years ago, there was a commercial which talked about a “Kodak Moment.”
I went to Maine on a camping trip. Pop-up trailer. We stayed at Acadia National Park. One day we went into Bar Harbor and joined a whale watching charter boat. After a freezing hour and a half trip out into the North Atlantic the boat stopped. I couldn't believe how calm the water was. The sky a silver gray matched the ocean and you couldn't tell where one began and the other ended. Only a few minutes passed and whales breached the surface. Right off the side a mother and calf were so close I couldn't believe it. They played and rolled on the surface. I turned to the guide with a huge smile and said, "This must be what Heaven is like." She just smiled.
Mentors, authors, or books, I would like to give a shout-out to? So many people are involved in a writers journey. All the way in the beginning Margo Karoly and the Romance Writers critique group put me on a path of better writing. Through that, Rosalie Redd became my first critique partner extraordinaire. Then Renee Wildes from the critique group saved Rock House. I have a wonderful editor named Elf who rocks.
What does literary success look like to me? The day I received my first copy of Felice. The day I signed my first publishing contract. The day I read my first review. I think if you follow your dream, no matter the outcome, you are a success. Even if you try and fail, at least you tried.
Here are some of my successes.
Don't forget to stop by next week when Cozy Mysteries writer and fellow camper ML Erdahl joins me around the fire.
This weeks movie recommendations
Lord of the Rings Trilogy. If you haven't watched them for a while it's time.
Guardian's of the Galaxy
Recipes for the Campfire don't need to be hard. Campbell's makes a packet you can pour over your roast and veggies. Diced carrots, peas, and potatoes in the Dutch Oven with the roast add the package cook low and slow over the fire and voila. I like adding mushrooms, too. Delicious.
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. This week will probably be the last one away at a campground since we'll be winterizing the RV and getting ready for the Holidays. I do have a driveway camp planned with relatives in early November. We'll cook out around the fire and pretend we're at a faraway location. Imagination is a wonderful thing. So, wherever you’re joining us from relax let your imagination go and 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.
Today the Campfire is welcoming Keta, an award-winning and best-selling author who writes in several genres: Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
I have always loved coffee; can’t imagine life without it. That’s kind of sad, huh? I think a lot of writers drink plenty of coffee to keep their minds stimulated and help them contend with all the late-night writing binges.
Coffee it is. I'm a coffee in the morning person and tea in the afternoon and evening. Since we are sitting around the virtual campfire tell us, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
I haven’t camped as an adult. I’m not much for sleeping in a tent or on the ground, and I must have my hot shower every morning. Not much fun, am I? lol. When I was about 12, my family took a camping vacation to Yellowstone National Park. One night a bear came snuffling around our tent (on the ground). I heard him and the next thing I knew, he took a swipe at the side of the tent. I have no idea why he did that, but I was terrified. We followed all the rules, put our garbage in the proper place away from the camp site, our food too, but for some reason those bears were still snooping around. I don’t believe I’ve camped since, and I confess, I’ve never liked bears—don’t even like to watch them on T.V. or a movie.
Camping is not for everyone and I can imagine how scary that must have been. Many national parks no longer allow camping without hard sides anymore because of this. One night I remember rural camping in Minnesota. My friend and I ended up sleeping in the men's room. LOL, turned out it the noise was only raccoons. You are a multi-published author and have won awards for your writing, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest project is an Urban Fantasy anthology with 8 other marvelous authors. A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil anthology released on September 24. You can download from Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TK6LLCP/ (Also available from Kindle Unlimited)
Scary stuff. Perfect for the coming weeks. Do you have a tagline?
Devils, demons and their lethal hunters will draw you into their conquests, twisted deceptions, scorching heat, and yes, even love.
If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition? It’s the most asked question for me.
My story in the anthology is titled I Spy A Demon. I think it’s about 36,000 words and took me 4 months to write it. I did have a few interruptions in between because I also edit for some other authors. So I wrote most of the novella and then stopped for a week or two for an editing job, went back to the story and then took one more break for an editing job. In total, about 4 months.
I've heard writing short stories and Novellas are more difficult than full novels. They have to be quicker and more intense compared to a novel which can build both world and character development. What challenges have you faced during writing. How did you get through it?
I don’t usually fall prey to writer’s block, but marketing is another matter. I lost my author assistant who had been with me for two years not long ago. Unfortunately, she passed away very unexpectedly and did so much for me I’m lost without her. She was not only a good friend but an awesome assistant. I’m not very good at technical stuff, so I relied heavily on her for many, many tasks. Right now, I’m kind of floundering, looking for a new assistant, and will be thrilled if she’s as talented as Babs Hightower.
I've heard of her. She was a great person and resource to so many and will be missed by them. I'm sorry for your loss of a friend. I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Yes, I do! Don’t all authors? I have a western series I started some time ago and only completed the first book in the series, Chasing The Dead. I need to get back to the Bannister Brothers’ books since readers have been asking when the next book will be published. I also stuck in one or two contemporary romances after that first book in the series, so that put me off schedule for a time. And then the anthology came along. I do plan to write book two in the western romance above, and then possibly a follow-up to I Spy A Demon.
You're author with a great history and future, so let's time-travel. Is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Are we talking about writing here? Or just life in general?
For writing, I would just say learn everything you can about the craft, whether that’s through classes or reading many books about writing. With all the books released every day, competition is stiff. Writers who take the time to learn the craft, the basic rules, have a leg up, I think.
Great advice either way. Knowledge is key to all our endeavors whether writing or life. Okay, fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
I’m an animal lover so I donate both my time and support to a local animal shelter. Ten years ago, I rescued Emma LaPounce, my furry companion from the shelter. It seems her family moved out of town and left her behind. When I visited her at the shelter several times, she was so upset and depressed, and she didn’t want much to do with me or anyone. I finally had a talk with her. I said, “Listen, you’re coming home with me, and I’ll take very good care of you so you better find a way to like me.” The talk must have worked because we’ve been best friends ever since. I can’t imagine how people can just abandon these helpless creatures because it really does affect them. And they have so much love to give back. Emma has had a very good life with me and is a wonderful cat. She’s now 17 years old and still going strong.
Good for you. My rescue Hali sends you and Emma LaPounce a hale and hearty woof. The door opens waiting for you to enter. If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room what would it be?
Can I choose two? I have very eclectic taste in music (books too). I listen to many different eras and styles. The first one I’d choose is a fun, little song by Trisha Yearwood – She’s In Love With The Boy, and the second one I’d choose is I Will Wait For You by Mumford and Sons. But…as I said, I listen to a lot of different music – love anything from Phantom of the Opera, Andre Bocelli, Sara Borellis and the soundtracks from movies.
You can. And I'm with you. The only music I can't stand, is screaming or screeching the lyrics. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Most definitely To Kill A Mockingbird. I love everything about it; the writing, the setting, the characters, the lessons we learn…just everything. I read it every year.
A true classic. If we peeked into your life what weird talent do you have?
I can carry a tune if I have too. I don’t think that’s so weird, but it is an unusual talent.
As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success is being happy with the end product of whatever it is you’re writing. Success is accomplishing a big task—writing a book. Success is having a reader email you and tell you they loved your book or that it changed their life in some way. That’s all the success I need.
What a wonderful and thoughtful answer. Keta, thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
Thank you so much for hosting me. I really enjoyed your questions!
About I Spy A Demon
When twins Cecily and Calder Sizemore’s parents are killed in a car accident, they’re adopted by the Frost family—Gus, Mae and their sons, Marcel and Elliott. Over the years, Cecily’s love for Marcel evolves into anything but sisterly.
Cecily always knew something was amiss in the Frost household. Little things belied the calm, peaceful ambiance Mae did her best to portray. Calder tried to warn her things were not as they appeared, but she didn’t want to believe him. When Calder begs her to leave Des Moines, start a new life away from the secrets, away from the Frosts and away from Marcel, she takes his advice and her shattered heart and moves to Minnesota.
Now she’s been called home for her beloved brother's funeral. There's more to the story than meets the eye. Discrepancies in how her twin died lead her back to Des Moines, and back to Marcel―the boy who stole her heart, the man whose very presence turns her blood to liquid fire. Marcel has always kept dangerous secrets, but this time, Cecily is determined to uncover the truth about the Frosts… and the truth about how Calder really died.
She’ll find out what really happened to her brother, even if it’s her last act in life.
* * *
"We therefore commit Calder Sizemore's body to the ground, earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust...."
The cloying scents of damp earth and lilies spiraled up Cecily's nose. Overhead, a pitiless sun bore down on the mourners gathered around her brother's casket—familiar faces she’d known forever, lived with and loved. She fought back the bile rising in her throat and prayed the minister would come to the end of the service before her knees buckled.
To her left, stood Mae Frost, her mother's best friend and the woman who had raised her and Calder after their parents died. As if Mae could read her thoughts, the woman squeezed her hand, an unspoken sign of moral support and unconditional love. She would expect nothing less from Mae, and had received nothing less for the past twenty years. If Mae's husband, Gus, were here, she would receive the same outpouring of love from him. In essence, Gus was in attendance, not above the ground but below. And now Calder would rest beside the man through all eternity.
"And so, shall we ever be with the Lord."
Dear God, when will he say 'Amen?
She stared at the burgundy coffin with its hideous spray of red roses, yellow lilies and white orchids while a thousand questions tore through her brain. How could she go on without Calder, the other half of her soul, her womb mate, the one person who had always been there through the highs and lows of her life? What was he doing in St. Louis when he died and who was with him at the end? She had to know what kind of an accident had taken his life.
That's the word Mae used—accident—when she called her in Minnesota to deliver the dreadful news. 'We've booked a morning flight to Des Moines,' she'd said. 'The ticket is in your name and waiting for you at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Delta Airlines ticket counter.' Numb with shock and grief, Cecily had pressed Mae for details but the woman circumvented her question. Why should she be surprised? The entire Frost family held Masters’ Degrees when it came to dodging and ducking topics they didn’t wish to discuss. ‘We’ll be waiting for you at the airport when you arrive,” she’d said and then ended their conversation.
This time, she wouldn't allow them to circumvent her questions. She'd find out how her brother really died, with her last breath if need be.
★ Author Blog: http://ketaskeep.blogspot.com
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★Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/Keta-Diablo/e/B002BODURI/
★Goodreads Page https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2620426.Keta_Diablo
Rumor has it Keta is also a lover of Owls. So today's movie recommendations are Owlishly good salutes to our feathered friends.
Harry Potter of course had Hedwig and others, hoo delivered mail.
Blade Runner (really, you say) Yes. the Book on which the movie was based referred to the owl as one of the first creatures to go extinct. Tyrell had a robot one and a statue in his office.
Last weekend I missed my Dutch Oven. I went out to the 2Hoots, the name of my RV and dug it out. Here's the magic of what ended up in our bowls. When asked I call it Gumbo-ish.
Make a roux with 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/4 cup of flour. Whisk until caramel brown. Add 1 medium diced onion and bell pepper along with 2 stalks of chopped celery. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until the veggies are softened. Add chunks of sausage. I used Italian turkey. A 14 oz can of diced peppers an then added 4 cups of beef broth. I would have used chicken but didn't have any. A tablespoon of Cajun spice. My husband doesn't like rice so I added small chunks of potato. If you skip the taters you can serve over rice. Simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half. 10 minutes before serving add peeled and de-veined shrimp. I made biscuits to go with. Served 6.
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
It's hard to believe October is here. For many campers it's nearing the end of the season. RV's are being winterized. Campgrounds closing for the winter. Here at Welcome to the Campfire we are going to gleefully go into the winter months. One time, while living in Minnesota, a friend and I went camping in the dead of winter. The temperature neared -10 degrees Fahrenheit. We did have a camper but no heat. Sleeping bags, thermoses, and conversation kept us awake and warm. This past week we camped in Vermont with friends and the temps dropped into the 30's. The campfire roared and we had our RV. Cozy and comfortable. No matter where you are I hope you'll join in the spirit of camping. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and be the first to receive information on up coming releases, contests and signups for the 2020 Campfire blog opening.
Today I'm welcoming Viviana Mackade a multi published author of Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, and Fantasy.
Hi, and thank you for having me! It’s been so long since I did a campfire!
What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
All of them, depending of the circumstance. Morning is for coffee, and it’s a no-brainer. Tea, earl grey, is for the afternoon, around 3 pm, for a gentler kick that will keep me until bed time. Cocoa is for Sunday evenings, to fortify for the coming week. And wine, white or rose, is for a hard day’s dinner. Wait… Where are the Margaritas????
LOL, I'm sure we can mix up a pitcher or Margarita's for us. And I'm with you about the rest. Don't even talk to me until I've drained my first cup of coffee in the morning. Since I've had my second cup let's get down to it. Have you ever camped?
My husband and I used to camp a lot. Tent, in the Italian alps. It was always cold, it was always uncomfortable, and I loved every and any minute of it. We’d like to go back to camping and doing it down here in Florida. Maybe this winter, when the heat is not trying to kill us.
The Italian Alps! How exciting and beautiful that must have been. We have friends that work at the https://www.floridastateparks.org/Alafia. You should check it out. It appeals to me and we may go the following year in March. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest book is Guns For Angels, a romantic suspense that I re-released after I got the rights back from the publisher.
I love romantic suspense and it's great you have your rights back. According to https://www.authorsalliance.org/ "A right of reversion is a contractual provision that permits authors to work with their publishers to regain some or all of the rights in their books when certain conditions are met." Many authors are working on this. I love the description on Guns for Angels. 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. If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us how long it took from conception to fruition? It’s the most asked question for me.
It took me a while, I’d say a year. Four months for writing it, and then the critiques, and then finding the publisher, and then the editor’s edits.
What challenges have you faced during writing. How did you get through it?
Ann and Mark have to find out what happened to Ann’s sister, and why there are people out to kill her and destroy Mark’s Team. It was very detail-oriented story, where they had to find clues. Keeping track of those details, and let the story unfold in a logical way was a challenge.
I can imagine. Some authors have spread sheets or book bibles to keep track. I'm trying to start one for myself. Now you have the rights back, and several other published works, is there anything you’re itching to get to?
Oh, gosh… so many. Aside all the barely-there plots that wait, I’m currently writing a fantasy, which is the piece I’m focusing on the most. Then an urban fantasy, or a contemporary with dash of paranormal. And a big-a$$ed quartet, a fantasy with a main couple in each book, but a main storyline that spans 4 books. I’m itching to finish the fantasy to get to it. I’m itching so bad.
I'm the same. To many ideas to little time. And speaking of time I'd love to time travel with you. Is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
It takes time, tears, stubbornness. There will be a lot of self-doubt and discouragement. Just keep going, because the only way to fail is to stop.
My favorite Dory quote is Just keep swimming. Words of wisdom for anyone getting started, as well as "seasoned" writers. It's not an easy road but so very worth the travel. Okay, fun questions. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Reading. And then, um, reading. Uh, and reading. Yeah. That’s all me. Wild and crazy with all these many daredevil things I love to do.
It's smart. Author's need to read. It keeps you current, engaged and gives you a break. 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?
The Outsiders by Eric Church. It’s a reminder of many, many things (about me, about life) and there’s little I can’t do after hearing that song.
Love it. Talk the talk and walk the walk. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Robinson Crusoe. I read it when I was ten in the backseat of my parent’s car on our way to Croatia for our summer vacation. It was roughly a 12 hours journey, and I spent it all reading that book. Then I re-read it throughout the entire vacation, and a couple more times afterward.
And here you are writing about adventure. It's wonderful the impression a classic like that will make on a child. Confession time. What weird talent do you have?
I remember songs’ lyrics, poetry, lists (like the 7 Kings of Rome, the Popes, presidents, regions). When I hear a song, and I can sing it word by word the next time I hear it, it drives my husband insane.
I want that talent. I can listen to a song for years, singing along then read the lyrics. Not even close. Support is important to writers. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what were childhood books you loved?
Besides my husband, there’s a Yahoo group called The Critters. It’s made by author in various stages in their careers, and we’re all there to give each other a hand. There are critiques, advice, help in advertisement, or just an ear for when you need to vent. It was the first group I was part of when I decided writing was not going to be simply a different past-time but something more, and I wouldn’t be here without their support. Shout out to you, Daryl, and all the Critter out there.
The internet can be a force for good or evil. I'm the beneficiary of several on line groups. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success is when the readers give you their trust and their time, and chose your story to get lost in.
Viviana, thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blub and exert from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
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.
Ann swallowed hard as stench scraped her throat.
In truth, the real issue was the absence of any pleasant smell, like clean breeze from an open window, lemony traces of cleanser or, at least, the fake ocean fragrance of an air freshener. Instead, the room was stifling, filled with heavy, stale air and old, cheap perfume that hanged around in sickly sweet clouds. The hotel room didn’t stink though, so she blamed her strong reaction to stress.
Whatever the reason, she pressed a hand on her twisted stomach and stepped closer to the man. He might be huge, too physical, and unmoved by normal human-to-human interactions, but he smelled just fine. It was either retching or keeping close to him and his soapy scent–the first good thing in a horrific night.
Maybe the Universe was getting on her side again.
Nice try, Ann conceded, but way not enough and badly executed. For as good as his scent was, she couldn’t spend the night with her nose pressed against his shirt. “Hey, can we open a window?” she asked.
“Of course not. Will you bite my head off if I ask why?”
“You wanna people sneaking in and cutting your throat?”
His lips curved into a sardonic smile. “There’s your answer.”
He marched to the window, checked the derelict locks. “It’s not gonna stop them,” he said more to himself than to her. “But it’ll give me time.”
“What do I do if they come?” Ann asked, forgetting her trouble with the room for a moment.
“Stay close to me and out of my way.”
“That’s… that’s tricky.”
“Make it work.”
From the middle of the room, she followed his inspection feeling more relieved each time he nodded. Even his cursing someone called Mouse was, somehow, reassuring. “If that stupid ass doesn’t call, I’ll throttle his skinny neck with my bare hands.”
His long, violent mumbled monolog went on, but its soothing quality disappeared when she realized she needed a restroom. She eyed the stains on the once beige, now dirt-brown walls–a real touch of class.
Okay, she needed the toilet, but what if Mr. Cholera was using it? It seemed like the place for it. Or even worse, ugly, hairy, dark spiders, creeping down the ceiling as she was sitting on the toilet. She would pass out, and the man would find her with her panties around her ankles, her eyes rolled back, and a rivulet of drool from her mouth. So cool.
She tried to focus on the bed and not on spiders, but the headboard leaned on the left and the blanket sported stains impossible to define. The perfect breeding ground for bed bugs.
Ann felt her eyes sting furiously. She wanted to go home, to her clean, spider free home, and call her sister. She wanted to hear Mary saying something, anything.
Mark’s voice, mockingly reassuring, reached her a split second before tears did. “If you’re worried about sharing the bed you can relax, angel. I’m not in the mood.”
“I wasn’t… never mind. I need to use the bathroom.”
She had opened the bathroom door when the meaning of his words emerged from the fog and wiped away her attempt not to lose it.
Remaining in the bedroom, she slammed the bathroom door in front of her with all her strength. She had the deep satisfaction of seeing him snap into action, gun in his hand and fire in his eyes. He was ready to fight, but she charged first. “Do you really think I would be in the mood? Let’s put aside for a second what happened to my sis… what happened tonight. Even on my best day I wouldn’t be in the mood with a jackass like you. I don’t like angry men. I need the toilet.”
This weeks movie recommendations
In honor of Viviana's instant memorization of song lyrics
The Soloist with Jamie Foxx
Rain Man with Tom Cruise
Viviana shared with me her son's love of marshmallows. So here's a recipe from one of my favorite tv chefs Alton Brown
“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” — Stephen King
For some more magic, join me next week around the Campfire with award-winning and best-selling author, Keta Diablo who writes in several genres, Western Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance and Contemporary Romance