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I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I spent it at my sister's house with other friends and family. DH had to work and so did my son. I have so many projects going on my head is spinning. But let's take some time to slow down and enjoy the fire. As you know, one of my favorite things to do even though at this time of year my fire is electric, I still enjoy the holidays sitting in my library with friends and chatting. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame, real and virtual. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open a campfire video, pour yourself a preferred beverage, and relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below.
Today I’m welcoming, Romance Author, Dee S. Knight to the Around the Campfire. Hi Dee. What’s your preference, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine? I can pretty much conjure up anything.
Coffee, please, black. It doesn’t wake me up in the morning or keep me up at night. I just like the flavor when it’s good and hot. Thanks for having me here!
I wish I could say that. If I have coffee after 6 p.m. no sleep happening for me. Have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
I went tenting once with my parents. Wasn’t all that fond of it—a skunk wandered through in the middle of the night! But we did like camping, so my folks bought a pickup camper which we used a lot. After my hubby and I got married, we bought a very small pull behind unit and loved going up into the Virginia mountains with it. A couple of years ago, we rented a Cruise America to hit Yellowstone and travel to see family. I love camping out!
How funny is that, a skunk passing through. It'll clear out a campsite. Virginia is wonderful and one of our go to places It's beautiful. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I just finished Book 2 of the Good Man series, One Woman Only. It’s erotic romance, for those who like some spice with their love stories.
Do you have a tagline?
It takes a woman—the right woman—to make Jonah see that a "good man" can always be a better man.
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.
Oh my gosh, I wish you hadn’t asked! Let me start by saying that I have conceived an idea and had a 90,000-word book finished in a month. But this book…? It was a year and a half from start to finish. Don’t know why. I like the characters, I like the story line, I just couldn’t get through it. I’m hoping to have Book 3 done by the end of the year, so we’ll see. Really, writing means keeping one’s posterior in the chair at the keyboard and your mind on the story. I didn’t do that with this book for some reason.
Sometime it's hard. Life gets needy at times. I'm a firm believer in things working out the way they are supposed to, despite our ideas and plans. The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry is a quote tweaked from a Robert Burns story. Writers often have many challenges, how about you?
Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever had writer’s block, or not in the typical way. I almost always know where I want to go in a book, and I always have ideas of how to get there. For me, it’s the mechanics of getting the words to paper—or to hard disk. Another book that took a long time was Passionate Destiny. I started it years ago in January or February and by the beginning of November had to tell myself I would get it done by Thanksgiving or give it up. I finished in time, but just barely. The problem was nothing more than making myself get words down. It’s easier for me to edit than it is sometimes to write fresh. During the time it took me to write Passionate Destiny, I wrote a whole other book and a novella, so maybe it is just plain holding an interest in the current story-line!
Marketing…! Bleh! I think it’s something I would enjoy if I just knew how to do it! But I really don’t, and I feel like I spend a lot of time on it for not much return, you know?
Preaching to the choir, sister. Marketing is the elusive unicorn. Once you think you spotted it, she slips away and you're left wondering what happened. Seems you have a lot of things going on. Anything you’re itching to get to?
Yes! For years I’ve had two other series in mind. They are non-erotic and would be (will be?) written as Anne Krist (who has a book already called Burning Bridges, that will be republished in the next few weeks). All of the books are pretty well-formed in my mind, and one is outlined loosely. But I have to finish the Good Man series first, thus the push to finish Book 3 by the end of the year! Like everyone who writes, I have a few unfinished manuscripts withering away on the hard drive. I might get to them someday. Maybe. Hopefully. lol
I think you'll get there. You seem like a pretty determined lady. Okay, time to load up on D. V.'s portal to the past and. time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Start writing romance when you get off the road!!!
My husband and I drove a tractor-trailer for years, and when we got off the road I began doing sort of typical jobs. I consulted, I trained, I taught, and did some admin work in between. If I had started writing back then, when there were fewer romance writers maybe the chance to get in the market would have been better. I at least would have discovered much earlier something I love to do!
What an interesting job. You must have met a lot of interesting character out there on the road. I too began writing in later life as well. I guess we all find that place and time eventually. I'm sure your readers are glad you did. Okay, time fun questions. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Reading. I like cooking, though with just two of us I don’t do it as much as I used to, and I admit to watching a fair amount of TV, especially HGTV and ID channels.
Which superhero would you like to be?
Superman was always my favorite comic book hero because he could fly (even into outer space!), move heavy objects (like furniture!), go fast (vacuuming would pose no problem!), and because he looked sexy as heck as Clark Kent.
Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
I read all of the Nancy Drew books and then devoured Hardy Boys. Outside those, I loved Black Beauty.
Black Beauty is one of my top favorites too. What is your favorite mug?
Years ago I made up mugs on Café Press with book covers, and I still use those. They hold 12 oz of my favorite beverage—which isn’t always as innocuous as coffee!
I occasionally enjoy a shot of Kahlua in my mug of coffee too. Most writers need support. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, you would like to give a shout-out to?
I’ve had the support of friends and family all along the way, but I have also made some very special author friends. I think we all support each other, which is a blessing! So for years, I’ve known and enjoyed Cheryl Norman, Leigh Wyndfield, Terri Schaeffer, Jasmine Haynes, and Kayelle Allen—wonderful authors, all. In recent years, I’ve become best buds with Jan Selbourne, who is a wonderful historical writer, and we have a blog and newsletter together, as well as Alice Renaud, Suzanne Smith, Callie Carmen, Gibby Campbell, Patricia Elliott, Carol Schoenig, and well, the whole group at Black Velvet Seductions. We really support each other, and it’s great because writing is typically such a solitary endeavor. Thanks for letting me say a public thanks to these wonderful friends and authors!
You're welcome. I like giving shout outs to special people. You seem like you have and excellent and solid group behind you. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
I have received letters from readers telling me how much they enjoy my books, and I guess that’s the affirmation we all look for, the note that says, no, we weren’t an idiot to take up this task of writing. Of course, royalties are always good!
When you put your art out there, no matter if writing, painting, or whatever, having acknowledgement is important and gratifying. Oh, and hooray for royalties. Dee, 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 today!
It's been my pleasure. I enjoyed our time together. Best of Luck!
As one of a set of triplets, Jonah always feels the need to make his individuality known. So where his brother Daniel is serious and completely focused, Jonah shuns commitment. Where his genius brother Mark is hailed in the scientific world, Jonah hides beneath a car, tinkering. Thing is, being different isn't all it’s cracked up to be. It takes a woman—the right woman—to make him see that a "good man" can always be a better man.
Excerpt [This excerpt includes Jonah and his brother Daniel, hero of Book 1, Only a Good Man Will Do, and Daniel’s new stepson]:
Jonah hit Saturday hard. He started with a five-mile run, something he used to do every day but had slacked on over Thanksgiving. He needed to stay in shape so he could enjoy the Christmas feast his mom was known for. No question that the older he got the closer he came to the "done-lop" problem—where his stomach "done lopped" over his belt. Sure, he was only in his mid-thirties, but flab could take over without warning.
After his run and a shower, he checked in with his uncle. The garage was closed on the weekends, but if Zeb had work that needed attention, Jonah would stay in town and help.
When Zeb said nothing was scheduled, Jonah asked, "Want to run up home with me, visit with Mom and Dad? I'm coming back tomorrow, and you know they have plenty of space at the house. You can meet Daniel and his new family."
"Maybe next time. I have some tinkering to do around here, and Clemson is playing this afternoon."
"Okay, then. If you don't need me, I'll see you tomorrow, I guess."
"Drive safe, son. Tell your mama and daddy hello for me."
The day couldn't have been more perfect for driving if Jonah had ordered it up. Slightly cloudy but with some sun. A nice breeze flew in the passenger’s window, which was down a couple of inches, and hurried to the driver’s window, open about the same amount. The air would be chillier the farther into the mountains he drove, but for now, conditions were perfect.
An old Travis Tritt song came on the radio and Jonah added his baritone to Travis' as Ginger opened up and sped through the lowlands and toward the North Carolina mountains surrounding Lucky Strike.
Most people associated the name of his town with the cigarette, but anyone who did so was wrong. The town was named when an eighteenth-century farmer found a large emerald while plowing his field. He promptly gave up on farming and instead dug for precious stones. When North Carolina stopped being a colony and started being a state, the town of Lucky Strike—the "lucky strike" being the emeralds the now wealthy farmer had found—was formed, and consolidated the land where the farm had been.
As a kid Jonah had never given the town's name a thought except to how it had looked as part of the school name on the back of his letter jacket. Now, he liked the quaintness of the place, the way he relaxed once he hit the town limits after being in "the cities," meaning Asheville or Charlotte. As an adult he'd come to appreciate his hometown in a way he never had as a child. And his appreciation was never greater than when he spotted his parents' house.
He pulled in the driveway behind Daniel's old Volvo. Man, that thing had seen better days, but Daniel seemed to love it. At least with Daniel living close, Jonah could help keep the thing in tune and running.
"Speak of the devil," Jonah said, as Daniel exited the house with his son, Timmy.
"Jonah!" Timmy screamed his name and came running for him. Jonah scooped the boy into his arms, laughing.
"What has you so excited, huh?"
The boy’s dark eyes sparkled and his mouth held a wide smile. "My dad got the job you told him about and the school is really cool and we're going up next week to look for a new house for all of us and I might even get a dog."
"A dog? Wow! No wonder you're so excited."
"I know. And right now, we're going to get ice cream for dessert because gramma is making supper and she said she wanted some ice cream. What kind do you like, Jonah?"
"Vanilla for me."
Timmy scrunched his face into a scowl. Vanilla?"
"Well, with lots of chocolate sauce on it."
The boy smiled again. "That's okay, then." Then he twisted to throw a disparaging look at Ginger. "Except Dad says your heap is in the way. What's a heap? I thought you drove a car."
Jonah looked to Daniel who stood laughing softly at Tim's rant. He raised his brows and said meaningfully, "I don't drive a car, Tim. I drive a classic, original 1965 GTO. It's very special. Her name is Ginger. Wanna go for ice cream in Ginger?"
Tim twisted toward Daniel so fast, Jonah almost dropped him. "Can we Dad? Can we take Ginger?"
With a wry smile, Daniel took Tim from Jonah. "Not this time. We have your car seat in our car. But later we can go out if your Uncle Jonah says it's okay."
If possible, Tim's eyes grew even larger. "You're my uncle? I've never had an uncle before."
"Now you have two of them. Me and Mark. Remember Mark from the wedding?"
"Is that the man who kept talking about math and stuff?" Tim asked Daniel.
"That’s him." Daniel held out his hand to shake and Jonah took it firmly. "What brings you home this weekend?"
"Wanted to see Mom and Dad now that all the hoopla is over. Zeb said to tell you hi and that he'll be up with me for Christmas to meet everybody."
"It'll be good to see him."
"So I guess congratulations are due for the new job? When do you start? I thought you had to finish the year up in New Hampshire."
Timmy squirmed to get down, so Daniel set him on his feet. "Don't go near the street."
"Okay, Dad," Tim shouted as he took off across the front yard, arms spread wide like an airplane.
"It seems that while we were here over Thanksgiving, the headmaster filled my spot. They don't acknowledge that Eve and I created a scandal, and they aren't accusing us of creating a scandal—"
"But they want any possible scandal gone far, far away."
"You got it." Daniel shrugged. "Once I spoke with the president of the school down here, I was ready to make the move. We went down to Asheville to meet her and look over the campus the day after we got back, and they offered me the job later that afternoon. We're ready to start our new lives. I have enough money to tide us over, and it’s only a few weeks before I start in Asheville, in the new year."
"Asheville is a good place to live. I'm glad things are working out for you."
"Eve and I will be going after the weekend to find a temporary place to live while we look for a house, and to get Tim enrolled in school. Then we'll be there, getting used to the town and getting a feel for the school."
"You'll do great, Daniel. They're lucky to have you."
"Thanks." Daniel stole a glance over Jonah's left shoulder. "Looks like you might be lucky, too."
Jonah turned to see what Daniel was talking about, just in time to see Kelly's RAV4 turn the corner. His heart rate skipped with that little bit of contact. Damn it. She didn’t even see him. Didn't wave or honk the horn. And still his heart knew her. And wanted her.
Just like other parts of his anatomy.
"Don’t you have to move this heap that's blocking my classic? If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say she was coming from her home and going towards The Emerald. It is lunch time."
"She might not be going to the diner."
"Right. She might not be. But don't you have to move that heap anyway? Check it out, dude. Jeez, do I have to tell you everything?" He turned. "Come on, Son. Let's go get some boring old vanilla ice cream."
Tim came flying across the yard. "Can I have chocolate, Dad?" he shouted.
"You can have anything you want," Daniel said, and gave Tim a big kiss as he lifted him into the air.
Tim wiped it off and scrunched his face again. "Boys don't kiss, Dad."
"Oh, yes they do." And he smothered Tim in kisses until the boy shrieked with giggles.
Jonah had to turn away. He loved that Daniel had found such happiness but seeing him like this filled Jonah with a feeling he'd never known before. Jealousy. And he didn't like it.
"Okay, see you guys soon," he called over his shoulder.
"Good hunting," Daniel called back."
"Is Uncle Jonah going to hunt something? Is it a bear?"
He didn't hear Daniel's reply. Instead his mind zeroed in on one goal. Finding Kelly Shepherd.
Buy link: One Woman Only is on KU: mybook.to/OneWomanOnly
A few years ago, Dee S. Knight began writing, making getting up in the morning fun. During the day, her characters killed people, fell in love, became drunk with power, or sober with responsibility. And they had sex, lots of sex. Writing was so much fun Dee decided to keep at it. That's how she spends her days. Her nights? Well, she's lucky that her dream man, childhood sweetheart, and long-time hubby are all the same guy, and nights are their secret. For romance ranging from sweet to historical, contemporary to paranormal and more join Dee on Nomad Authors. Contact Dee at email@example.com.
Today's character is a car guy. And my guest drove truck. So, here's this weeks movie recommendations for you auto enthusiasts and over the road drivers.
1977's Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds and Sally Field.
1992 My Cousin Vinny starring Joe Pesci, Marisa Tomei and Ralph Macchio.
May your walls know joy. May every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility. –unattributed
Hi everyone. Do to my own craziness this weeks Welcome to the Campfire went out on 11/23 instead. Let's not consider the twenty-third a mistake. Instead, we're going to call it a dress rehearsal. As such, this is not a rerun. (My blog. My rules. ;)
As you know, 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 and during the winter months even though it's electric, my fireplace. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had, have been with a cozy flame, real and virtual. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open a campfire video, pour yourself a preferred beverage, and relax. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Please feel free to leave comments or questions below.
Today I’m welcoming Romance Author, Debby Grahl, to the Campfire. And any good host is sure to offer a beverage so what can I get you Debby, coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Donna, thanks for having me today. I have to say I love coffee and enjoy a glass of red wine.
On your website I spotted a picture of one of my favorite wine companies though I prefer the Merlot to the Cabernet. But I think I have a cab around here somewhere. In the meantime the coffee pot is always on. Can you tell our visitors about any camping experience you've had?
My husband and I met doing Civil War reenacting. We used to sit around a campfire and sing songs from that era. We now have an outdoor fireplace where we drink hot spiked cider with friends.
My husband and I are history buffs. My sister and brother-in-law is also a reenactors. Good for you. Camping in period tents can be rough, I'm impressed. I know they go no matter what the weather. Yum, and grown up hot, count me in. You are a multi-published author. Can you tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
I’m working on a Carolina series. The first, Mountain Blaze, a contemporary romance, takes place outside of Ashville, NC and is under consideration from The Wild Rose Press.
I'm a Wild Rose author and think they are fabulous. Best of luck in is signing with them, Mountain Blaze is an intriguing name. By the way, I love, love Ashville. Next year we hope to camp near there and tour the Biltmore Estate during the Christmas season. Do you have a tagline for the novel or motto for you?
Debby Grahl, author of Mystery, Magic, and Romance.
Nice. It's tight and tells exactly who you are and what you do. It's difficult to get that across in a few words. Time keeps ticking. Too much. Too little. How much time did your book take?
I had to do a couple of rewrites, so Mountain Blaze has taken about eight months.
Wow that's great. I'm not a fast writer, and even slower with the editing process. Debby, can you tell us what challenges have you faced during writing. How did you get through it?
I have a disease of the retina called Retinitis Pigmentosa which causes gradual vision loss. I lost the ability to read in my early twenties, but even when I had sight, seeing the printed word was always difficult for me. Reading a book would take me twice as long as a person with normal sight. I became frustrated with this and began to make up my own stories. It wasn’t until the invention of computer screen reading software that I was able to put my stories into print.
That's is an inspiration to all of us. I applaud you. You took what you had, and found a way to accomplish your dream. One of my favorite quotes is by Christopher Reeve. “A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” That's how I see you. I'm hearing impaired, but don't know how I would handle loss of vision. Now, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
At this point, I’m excited to finish the Carolina series. The other two books are in progress. I also have a short time-travel story, The Silver Slipper, that I’d like to make into a full-length novel.
Busy lady. And by the way, your book covers are gorgeous. Here we go, it's time to get aboard D. V.'s Portal to the past. Is there something you would tell your beginning self? Advice? Encouragement? Warnings?
I would definitely take online writing classes. Like many beginning authors, I thought you just wrote the book and sent it off. I learned quickly there’ are many no-no’s in writing. For example, I sent the first twenty-five pages of my first book to an editor who was offering a free critique. She wrote me back and said I had a good story if I could write it -- ouch! She also said she outlined all my mistakes in red. To my chagrin, most of the pages were in red.
Yup. I did the same thing. I'm still trying to make one of my first books into something readable. Good story. Bad writing. Stupid commas are still the bane of my existence. Okay, fun questions. When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
We live on Hilton Head Island, so I enjoy biking, walking on the beach, and beautiful sunsets. I also love to travel, England and New Orleans being my favorite places. My home state is Michigan, and I go home each summer and have fun with my family. We always have a campfire by the lake.
That sounds divine. What a beautiful place to live. Michigan is on my camping bucket list. 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?
Oh my, this is tough. I don’t think I can choose from all the rock, blues, and country songs I love, so I’m going to go with, Let It Snow.
Interesting pick for a beach girl. We're going to talk more after the fire. Most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
What is your “Kodak Moment.” It’s a time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget.
I can’t describe the joy I felt when I held my first published book.
I bawled like a baby when I received mine. Many don't understand the time, effort, and self an author invests in their books. I would guess with the vision obstacles you've overcome, it was an especially sweet moment. Most writers need support. Are there any mentors, authors, or books you would like to give a shout-out to?
I’ve had the good fortune to become friends with the author Heather Graham. I was a huge fan of her books and a total groupie. Heather is a wonderful warm person who holds a writers’ conference in New Orleans each year. The proceeds go to organizations in the city that promote reading and literacy.
Giving back to the community is such an important honor. To promote reading and literacy is especially needed. Without reading and writing it's difficult to navigate the world today. Tell us about your body of work and your success as an author.
I’ve been very fortunate in finding publishers who like my stories enough to offer me contracts. I have three romance novels, The Silver Crescent, Rue Toulouse, and His Magic Touch; one mystery cozy, Decorated to Death; and short stories in four anthologies: The Haunted West, Never Fear / Christmas Terrors, and from the Island Writers’ Network: Eb and Flow, and Reflections.
Debby, thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today. I would appreciate you leaving us a blurb and excerpt from your work. Don’t forget to add where we can purchase your book and how we can find out more about you below.
It’s Mardi Gras time in New Orleans. Attending a masquerade ball, wealthy fashion designer Caterine Doucette, dressed as a shimmering ice princess, has her cool façade shattered when she encounters Bayou-born ex-cop Remi Michaud, disguised as the darkly handsome pirate Jean Lafitte. Their true identities hidden, the princess and the pirate come together in an explosion of passion and desire. But when fantasy turns to cold reality, Caterine panics and disappears into the night, unaware this man will soon be sent to rescue her from a killer and will capture her heart.
Orphaned at a young age, Caterine grew up in the home of her beloved grandmother, Miss Dauphine Doucette. Despised by her Doucette relatives for the devotion she received from her grandmère, Caterine suffered years of envy and disdain. The young Caterine learned quickly how easily the love she had to give could be thrown back in her face.
After Miss Dauphine turns over ownership of the century-old fashion house, Ma Chérie, to Caterine, an attempt is made on her life, for there are those in the Doucette family who will stop at nothing to possess what they feel is their rightful inheritance.
Not knowing whom to trust, Caterine goes into hiding. Miss Dauphine, convinced someone in her own family is behind the attack, hires Remi, now working for a private security company, to track her down and unmask her would-be assassin.
Learning that the affluent Caterine Doucette is the beautiful princess he held in his arms at the ball, Remi is torn between his growing desire for her and painful memories of another rich socialite’s betrayal. Caterine finds herself falling in love with Remi, but old embedded pain leaves her afraid to open her heart.
Down in the Big Easy, Caterine and Remi must learn to trust one another if they are to survive in a world of family greed and ruthless revenge.
With a wicked grin, he whispered, “When it comes to pleasing a lovely lady, I try to do everything well.”
Caterine couldn’t hold back a smile. “Oh, I’ll bet you do.”
They had stepped away from the dancers and accepted glasses of water from a passing waiter. “Now, monsieur, shouldn’t you introduce yourself?”
“My apologies for being so remiss.” He stepped back and gave her a gallant bow. “Jean Lafitte at your service.”
She grinned. “A pirate. I should have known.”
“Do you not like pirates?”
“I can’t say I’ve ever met one, but I’ve heard they can be rather dangerous.”
A slow smile spread across his face. “A little danger can be exciting, Princess.”
Again he was standing close, filling her senses with his seductive voice and spicy cologne. The heat from his body had Caterine imagining being held in his arms on a sun-drenched beach while turquoise water lapped around their feet. His mouth was now inches from hers. “Come away with me, and I’ll show you.”
Come away with him. Oh, yes, how she’d love to run away with this pirate. Caterine’s fevered imagination now had them in each others’ arms on the deck of a gently rocking ship under a star-strewn sky. When his lips brushed gently across hers, the image changed to show him lowering her onto a bed of soft down. At the sound of his low chuckle, she blinked rapidly to wipe away the erotic scene.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
He smiled at her as if he could read her mind. “I said you look a little flushed. Would you like to go out onto the gallery where it’s cooler?”
She took a nervous step back and stammered, “It is rather warm in here, isn’t it.”
His knowing smile widened. “Exceedingly so. Shall we?” He took her hand and led her through the nearest open door.
You can find out more about Debby and how to follow her below.
This weeks movie recommendations are...
Pippi Longstocking the original film is 1969 with English dubbed. However there is a 1988 version.
Nights in Rodanthe is a 2008 American Romance filmed in North Carolina. It stars Richard Gere and Diane Lane.
This weeks recipe is for Hot apple cider with a kick you can do this in a slow cooker and imagine the smell in your house.
Welcome to the Campfire is taking next weekend off. Don't forget to stop by on November 30th with Author, Dee S. Knight
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. Though our RV is winterized for the season, we still enjoy a fire in our chiminea. Last weekend we even had guests over for a Driveway Camp. So, wherever you’re joining us from, pour your favorite beverage and relax. 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, Karen Hulene Bartell, fellow Wild Rose Press author. Grab a camp chair here's a blanket for the chilly November day. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
A Cab would be lovely, Donna. Thanks!
A glass of red wine around a campfire is one of my favorite things. But I may have a pinot noir. Cheers! Have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp.
No, never. One week, when I was thirteen, my parents took me camping. I slept in a sleeping bag on the ground (in Mississippi in July) and hated it. Previously unknown (seemingly gargantuan) insects crawled all over me. I swore I’d never go camping again – but sitting around a campfire, sipping wine, chatting with you before checking into a hotel with a hot tub, fluffy towels, and clean sheets is wonderful. Thank you for inviting me!
Oh no, that's awful. Bugs are one of the reasons this girl no longer sleeps outside. And in Mississippi-no way. Though I will tell you once when I was about 12 yo, my friends and I did that in a NJ field and the next morning my face was one giant mosquito bite. Thank goodness there's no bugs around our virtual fire. So, tell us about your latest project. What’s the title and genre?
My latest release through The Wild Rose Press is The Keys: Voice of the Turtle, a paranormal fantasy, replete with two ghosts and love the second time around.
I love a ghost story. Those are especially made for around the campfire. Can you put the novel into one sentence?
I sure can. Sail through time as you discover buried treasure and solve a 400-year-old mystery!
One of the most asked questions for me is-How long before the book comes out? Readers and new authors are often surprised at the timeline.
Yes, that is a good question because of the many variables involved with writing and publishing. January 2017 is the earliest date I find for my notes, which is the first step of my writing process. The release date for The Keys: Voice of the Turtle was August 2019 – so it took me nineteen months from start to finish.
That is a chunk of time. Dedication and perseverance, as well as imagination are essential parts of an authors internal makeup. What challenges have you faced during writing?
Marketing has always posed the greatest challenge to me. I just “push through” it, that is, force myself to do it. It’s akin to choking down medicine.
For those unaware, most authors even with a publishing house behind them are responsible for much of the marketing burden. Publishers assist, guide, and help, but mostly its up to you. This is especially hard for independent or self-publishing. Karen and I have Wild Rose Press behind us and they are amazing at teaching and pointing us in the right direction. Remember, one of the best things you can do to help an author is if you enjoy their book, give it a review. A few well chosen word make a big impact. So, Karen, I have a myriad of projects at various stages of development, how about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Yes, I’ve been editing my next release through The Wild Rose Press, entitled Wild Rose Pass, a frontier romance. I’ve also been writing an urban paranormal entitled, Kyoto, Voice of the Turtle, and I just came back from a trip, which has set my imagination on fire that I’m “itching to get to.”
That's exciting! I bet many of your readers are rubbing their hands in anticipation. Now, let’s step into D. V.'s Portal to the Past, (I just made that up. Do you like it?) is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Write every day. Besides instilling good habits, it keeps the story-line going in your imagination even when you’re not writing. Some of my best ideas come to me when I wake, which leads me to believe my mind has been working on the plot while I’ve slept.
Great advice. Some writers keep a tablet by the bedside to jot down ideas they awake with. I was in a seminar recently that talked about writing everyday even if it's jotting down ideas in your phone while waiting for an appointment or in line at the store. I wrote a song once while cashiering at a job between customers on a slow day. Okay, fun questions
When you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions? Or do you have any pets?
I love to travel─try new things, eat local (but different) foods, and meet interesting people. My husband and I have three rescued cats and a rescued CAT-ahoula Leopard dog.
I think that's what I enjoy about camping so much. We've met amazing people in our travels. Oh, and my rescues Baby and Hali say meow and woof respectively to yours. 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?
Land of Milk and Honey
I looked it up. Eddie Fisher 1962. youtu.be/JEujRoTXAZk What a joyful and uplifting song. Great choice. Karen, most Authors have a love of books from an early age. What is your Favorite childhood book?
Ooh, I love Aesop's Fables. I'm going to have to read them again. My favorite is The Wind and the Sun. I wonder what other people have as favorites from the fables? Next question, what's the last movie that made you cry?
Hmmm…guess I don’t cry during movies. Only music can make me cry.
Someone playing the violin can bring me to tears. What is your “Kodak Moment”? It’s a time you catch in a picture and never want to forget.
I have many such moments─a mental album full─but the most recent was an autumnal scene driving through Minnesota. Its background was vermilion maple trees, their leaves lit as if on fire by a setting sun, and its a foreground was hundreds of plump, orange pumpkins waiting impatiently in the field for Halloween.
Sounds idyllic, and if I didn't know you were an author I'd be able to tell from your description. I lived for several years in Brainerd MN. It's beautiful country. Most writers need support. Is there anyone you would like to give a shout-out to?
My husband is and has always been my greatest supporter.
I hear you. My DH is my rock and biggest supporter. Former Malawi president Joyce Banda once said My dear husband has been the driving force behind my success and rise to whatever level I am now. My story and legacy is incomplete without his mention. Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
Success would be the complete financial freedom to travel anywhere at the drop of a hat. Wanderlust is in my soul 😉
Karen, 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 inviting me to join you today. I’ve enjoyed our little chat!
Oh, before I forget Karen has given us a great recipe. Keep scrolling down for Keya’s Conch Chowder Recipe it sounds amazing
The Keys: Voice of the Turtle by Karen Hulene Bartell
Hours after arriving in the Florida Keys to help her cousin Keya create a turtle preserve, Ruth discovers a washed-up body and not one, but two apparitions—Maita, the angry victim's spirit, and Bart, a swashbuckling ghost. Ruth's curious ability to connect with the ghosts may help them move on, but how?
Keya is in a probate battle over her turtle-nesting beach. Land-hungry relatives want it bulldozed and developed. Like Ruth, she has a special gift—she can talk to animals. Between Ruth's help and Keya's unique ability, they work to save the property, but is it too late?
Can Keya save her beloved turtles? Can Ruth find Maita's murderer or help Bart solve his 400-year-old mystery? There's more than meets the eye to Keya's land. Add in a dashing sailor who believes in her, and Keya may have more than she bargained for…
Conveying this land to the turtles would be my way of leaving the world a better place.” She turned toward Ruth. “Does that make sense?”
Ruth nodded and gazed at Keya as if for the first time. Her cousin’s intentions were clear. “But legally, how can you will the property to the turtles?”
“Easy. I leave it to the Turtle Refuge.” Keya laughed inwardly as they meandered along the beach. “And this is where you come in. When you’re writing the brochure, add a few paragraphs about planned giving and charitable bequests…” Her words broke off as Keya stared as if in a trance.
Ruth looked at her. “What’s wrong?”
Her hand shaking, Keya pointed to a shady patch of beach half hidden by sand dunes. A lifeless hand lay tangled in seaweed, its fingernails broken and bloodied.
Racing behind the sandbanks to help, Ruth skidded to a halt, her heels digging into the sand. A woman’s bloated body lay staring at the sun, her eyes opaque and unseeing. “Do you recognize her?”
“No.” Keya shook her head as the cat gingerly approached, sniffing and meowing. But Earnestine said she smells familiar.”
“Knock, knock,” called a man’s voice.
Ruth flinched. “Who’s there?”
Saturday's fun stuff
Keya’s Conch Chowder Recipe
3 slices of bacon
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon Cayenne pepper, optional
4 large tomatoes, diced
½ teaspoon of ground allspice
3 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme, minced
1 (16-ounce) can clam juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1 quart vegetable broth or water
1 medium potato, diced
1 pound fresh conch meat, cleaned and chopped
½ cup white wine
salt and pepper to taste
Juice of 1 fresh lime
6-8 sprigs of parsley, minced
Using a large stock pot, fry the bacon over medium heat until browned, about five minutes. Remove the bacon, leaving the fat.
Add the onions, celery, carrots, and bell peppers and stirring occasionally, sauté over medium-high heat until soft, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the Cayenne and garlic and sauté for about a minute.
Stir in the diced tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
Add the clam juice, lemon juice, water, and diced potatoes. Bring to a boil.
Place the allspice, bay leaves, and thyme in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie closed with string. Place in the spice packet in the soup, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.
Sir in the conch and white wine and cook over medium heat until the meat is tender, about another 25 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and discard the spice packet.
Add the lime juice and parsley, stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings to taste and serve hot! Yields 6 to 8 servings.
D. V.'s movie recommendations for this week
You can't talk about the movies and the Florida without
1948's Key Largo, starring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall.
Even though not in the Keys, how about...
1985's COCOON with an amazing cast including Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch, and Linda Harrison.
Don't forget to stop by next week when Welcome to the Campfire will be hosting Valerie Ullmer
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.