September and October are busy months for me. Almost every weekend is booked. We just returned form camping in Hagerstown, Maryland and Lancaster Pennsylvania. I'll post some pictures in the about me section. Both places have amazing historical significance. I'm also gearing up to go to the NJ Romance Writers annual conference in October.
If you've been following the blog, one of my favorite things to do, is sit around the fire. Camping increases every year. I think people are looking for a place to rest, recover, and restore family balance. According to koa.com of who I'm a member, new records are being reached. Since I can't take you all with me, I'm bringing a part of it to you. So, wherever you’re joining us from, open a campfire video 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.
Now, enough about me. Today I’m welcoming, Emily Heebner author to the Around the Campfire. I love Up-State NY. The wine trails, the mountains, the people, so Seneca Lake is on my growing to-be-read list. What’s your preference coffee, tea, cocoa, or wine?
Tea, please. English Breakfast with a splash o' milk.
Ah, another tea drinker. Did you know it's estimated that 25,000 cups of tea are drank every second? My favorites are Earl and Lady Grey. So, Emily, now that we're settled tell me, have you ever camped, or as I call what I do, Glamp?
We used to tent camp in Idyllwild when our son was growing up. One year we were up on Black Mountain, very remote. We all gave my husband a hard time about the solar shower he'd brought along. It was a plastic bag that could hold five gallons of water and hang from a tree. After three days in the wilderness, that solar shower felt fabulous! I'd rough-camped before as a college student with my dad and sisters in the Adirondacks, so gorgeous. And as a teen with my friend's church group. We slept under tarps and got rained on. A real mess but it was summer and we were young. We had a blast.
Lol, you don't appreciate the value of a shower until you can't get one. It sounds like you all had a wonderful time. I googled both www.idyllwild.com/ and the Black Mountains; there are a few by that name and all breathtaking. North America has so much to see and experience. So, tell us about your latest project.
Seneca Lake is a YA historical romance novel, just released by The Wild Rose Press. It's my first published book so I'm thrilled. The story involves high school senior Meg Michaels who falls in love with a Seneca Indian farmer. But her grandparents want her to marry into a wealthy family. I researched the bigotry against Native Americans in upstate New York for the story. Local people really did look down on the Senecas and farm workers who were exempted from military duty during WWII. I have family in the region, and have always known that the Iroquois were forced to relocate as far back as the Revolutionary War. After WWII they were pushed around again with the building of highways, parks and dams.
The history of the world is rife with the evil we do to each other. I believe as writers we have a huge responsibility to shine the light onto it, and as much as it is in our power, to do something about it. Edmund Burke once said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” "Sorry," I say leaping from my soap box. Okay so enough serious stuff... Do you have a tagline?
Should Meg choose the attentions of a wealthy GI or defy her family and follow her heart?
You think it would be an easy choice, but things often aren't that simple. It will be interesting to follow her decision making. How she balances the two. One of the most asked question for me. Is when is your book coming out? Even I didn't understand the time frame of publishing. How long has your journey been?
It took about two years to finish writing the book.
Good for you. That may seem long to some, but actually it's quite reasonable in the book world. What challenges have you faced during writing? How did you get through it?
Marketing has been a steep learning curve. I actually hired a marvelous marketing student to get me started with my website and Facebook. Time is the other challenge. Because I teach, it's tough to find long, focused blocks of time. It seems I finally get on a roll writing and it's time to stop and go to work. But I also believe that limitations can be helpful to creativity. The fact that I know I have to stop at a certain time pushes me to get words down on the page. Another help is working with a good writing group. Needing pages to show strong writer/readers every two weeks really pushes me get the work done.
What a fabulous idea! Marketing students. I'll be calling the local community college this week. Thank you for that gem. A lot of authors have many projects at different stages. How about you? Anything you’re itching to get to?
Absolutely. I plan to write the sequel to Seneca Lake which is currently in the planning stages. I absolutely love the research phase! I'm also working on a New Adult romance novel that takes place during the AIDS epidemic, a story I began writing prior to Seneca Lake. Coming back to it fresh is exciting. I see new possibilities.
Many times as authors we look to the past for inspiration then into the future for hope. Let’s time travel, is there something you would tell your beginning self? Any advice or encouragement? Warnings?
Honestly, I wish I'd listened to my high school English teacher Mr. Blaisdell and Professor Lamar Herrin who both encouraged me to pursue creative writing over theatre. I wound up seduced by the romantic, social, athletic aspects of acting. But I think a life in writing and English departments might have suited me better. Especially as a parent, writing is something you can fit in at any hour or any place. Whereas theatre locks you into an evenings/weekends performance schedule when the rest of the world is home.
Live and learn, right. But youth is the time to experiment and take risks. Look where you are now. A published author with multiple worlds to revisit for inspiration. So, we know that your a writer and a mom. Who else is Emily when you’re not writing, what are your hobbies or passions?
Reading, walking in the woods, swimming, museum crawls, spending time with family and friends.
Can you describe yourself in three words?
Engaged, proactive, motivated.
Those are great attributes. Not only for a writer but for a person. Do you have a tattoo or special piece of jewelry? What is it and can you tell us the meaning behind it?
My wedding ring is my husband's great grandmother's gold band, on his dad's side. I love the throughline of that, the continuity of the family line. My father-in-law passed away in April, so the ring is more dear to us than ever.
I'm sorry for your loss. What a special connection you have though. Speaking of special connections, what is your “Kodak Moment.” A time you catch in a picture. One you never want to forget.
My mother pinning me at our sorority initiation. She had been in that same sorority at the very house where we both ended up living during our college years at Cornell. It was a total surprise. I had no idea she'd be there and do that, all dressed in white. She died early at age 59, so the initiation was a metaphoric and metaphysical moment. I think of her so often and usually it's the picture of her at that exact moment.
Another loss, I'm so sorry. But the memory is amazing. Mothers have a special way of surprising us. Supporting us. That leads to the next question. Are there any mentors, authors, or books, other than yours, you would like to give a shout-out to? Or what were childhood books you loved?
So many. Carolyn Howard-Johnson, whose workshop at a library in Glendale brought me back to writing seriously. Lollie Ragana at UCLA Extension. Bernadette Murphy, Sharman Russell, Jackie Stallcup, Rick Mitchell, Kate Haake. Lincoln Blaisdell, Dan McCall, Robert Morgan, Lamar Herrin, Bill Trzeciak.
Final question. As a writer, what does success look like to you?
When a reader is moved, truly engaged, or even challenged by something I've written, that's success for me. In terms of publishing, I'm excited to continue learning and growing. It's amazing to have an audience of readers I've never met before. A great joy. Connecting online with readers or at author events is absolutely rewarding and feels like "success."
Thank you so much for joining me around the campfire today, Emily. 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.
1944 and high school senior Meg Michaels has always obeyed her grandparents' wishes, till now. They're urging her to give up her dream of Cornell University and accept a ring from wealthy Hank Wickham before he deploys overseas. But Meg has studied hard and yearns for something better than life in the rural Finger Lakes. Plus Meg's suddenly fascinated with her childhood friend, Arthur Young, a handsome Seneca Indian farm worker. When Meg and Arthur nurse a sick puppy to health, their friendship transforms into love. But locals look down on "injuns" and resent the fact that Arthur's farm job exempts him from military duty. While the war rages in Europe, Meg and Arthur must fight their own battles at home…
The sky was a silent, black dome specked with glitter and shredded clouds. Arthur stood at the top of the road that led downhill to the lake. His hands were thrust inside his pants pockets. Li’l Pete ran back and forth, sniffing dried weeds in the snow. Meg guessed Arthur’d been watching from the upper barn window for Gramps’ truck to arrive back from Aunt Lizzie’s. His leather collar was turned up under his loose hair. He shrugged his shoulders and shook his head, as if to send stray hairs away from his mouth and eyes. “Happy Harvest Festival,” she told him, rising on her toes to give him a quick kiss on the lips. The taste of his toothpaste made her wish she’d brushed her teeth, too. She felt the warm breath from his nose. “Pumpkin pie, hey?” They giggled. “I saved you one of my apples. The crusts came out just right this year.” She draped Ron’s skates over his shoulder while Li’l Pete pranced in circles around their boots. When he pawed her leg, she reached down to scratch him behind the ears. “Where’s Greta?” “Ate too much, is what she said. I think she thinks it’s too cold out.” He winked. “You aim to catch me when I fall?” “It’s easy, really.” They crossed their arms behind each other’s back, hugging the waist to set up resistance against the sloped, icy road. “It’s like dancing except you cut into the ice with your blades.” Li’l Pete trotted along beside them but slipped on his bottom. He scrambled to stand, but all four legs slid out again and he lay splayed on his belly on the road. Arthur laughed and picked him up and carried him on his hip. “Let’s go, big fella. If we fall and crack the lake, she’ll get mad, you know, and swallow us whole.” He shook his hair again and looked over at Meg. “Then we’ll turn into lake trout. If you catch us one day, you might eat us for supper and not know it.” From out of the fields below, a pickup truck bumped and skidded onto the road, flashing its lights and weaving back and forth up the hill. Arthur and Meg quickly jogged out of the way, into the snowy field. Laughter squealed from the back of Al Wickham’s pickup. The horn honked again and again. “Out of the road, Injun! This ain’t your country! Chicken liver deadbeat!” An empty beer bottle flew out from the back of the flatbed. Arthur ducked in time for it to miss his head. Li’l Pete snarled and barked as the truck swerved on the ice, then shifted to a lower gear and lumbered to the top of the hill.
Movie Recommendations in honor of Up-State NY
About 3 hours from Seneca Lake is
Ballston Spa, NY. A famous scene from The Way We Were was filmed there.
Emma Willard School in Troy NY familiar to those who enjoyed Scent of a Woman.
I scanned the internet looking for a recipe for something NY State and campfire friendly how about NY Salted Potatoes. www.allrecipes.com/recipe/141785/syracuse-salt-potatoes/
Y'all can boil water so we're good to go.
"Love yourself and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done." Lucille Ball. Lucy-Desi Museum and Center for Comedy in her hometown of Jamestown, N.Y. Guess what 3 hours from Seneca Lake. LOL.
And now for someone completely different... Robert Heimall is an artist, writer, producer and all around good guy. We met many years ago and worked together through our church in the mission field. Recently he has a book published from his time as an artist at Arista Records. Oh, the things he's seen and the people he knows. His is a spiritual journey as well as professional. Don't miss this one folks.