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