#Sharing #Blogging & #Writing #Love Around the #Campfire With Delicious S’Mores of a #CoverReveal & #Giveaway

While on a brief family holiday in the North Woods of Wisconsin I find myself blessed with another award from fellow writers JI Rogers and Ann Marie Swaim. I do hope you will check out their stories and sites—they never cease to amaze me!


Let’s settle in around this campfire, well stocked with boxes of crackers and chocolates, marshmallows and cider, and talk as the cedar’s smoke soothes us from a long summer’s day in the water.

Do me a favor—keep Bash away from the extra kindling, please.

What’s your favorite water sport? To play and/or watch.

Apart from kid-watching, you mean?


Look, my son Biff’s over there in the yard now. You hear him with that soccer ball? He’s throwing at the campsite’s sign and yelling, “I tackled it! Home run points!”

That should tell you how involved we are with sports in my family.

What book would you recommend that everyone read?


My answer hasn’t changed in years: Diana Wynne Jones’ Reflections on the Magic of Writing. There is so so so SO much here to unpack. She’s got lots to share about craft in the way only Jones can: with firm experience and wicked humor. She’s also open to sharing her thoughts on the stickier points of being an author, like conflicts with publishers and horrible school visits. But what I love the most is her openness about her life. She had a nasty childhood during World War II, and learning how she battled such dark years with stories made me feel like I could battle my own depression with stories, too.

What book do you wish you never read?

The fourth and final book of the Twilight saga, Breaking Dawn.

And that’s all I’m going to say about that, because if I start, I will not stop.

What can move you more, images or words?

This is a tough one. Often I daydream in words, but I find myself more often moved by images around me. I can see something—a peculiar clump of trees stranded in a corn field, for instance—and a story just, well, comes. I wonder what’s in the trees, and can imagine a long-forgotten cabin, walls cracked and falling in, mold creeping in from every side, bat scat and raccoon refuse littered about…save for one corner, where a trap door remains, pristine and perfect, waiting for just the right curious hand to open it…

Who in your life (living or dead) provided you with the best inspiration?

You know, a year ago, I’d probably have said my dad. After all, he and I spent hours together going over my stories, polishing them to perfection for school.

Now, I answer: my children.

It’s not so much because of the yarns Bash spins—just as he does now, turning his chocolate into a superhero to save his marshmallow from falling into the fire. The stories he spins have certainly inspired me in the past.

No, it’s that I have children. My children need me sane.

I am their caregiver. I am their lap, their hug, their kiss goodnight. I am their maker of macaroni and cheese. I am their bedtime reader. I am their music finder, movie player. I am their clean underwear finder and silly face laugher. I cannot be any of these things unless I have a clear head and steady heart. How do I get these? By dumping all the nastiness of me onto the page before it infects them.

Biff, Bash, and Blondie are my drive to write on. I write to be what my kids need me to be.

What I need me to be.


What has been the hardest struggle to overcome to keep on blogging?

So often I worry that what I’m writing isn’t worth reading. Why should anyone care what I think about this composer/author? Who really wants to read m’ramblins’ about raising children?

Speaking of which, mind Blondie doesn’t eat another hot dog, that crazy little carnivore. Biff, stop throwing marshmallows into the fire!


In the Writer’s Digest article “Bare Your Soul,” Maria Walley makes an excellent point about the power of vulnerability:

Your writing will make you vulnerable. After all, we’re taking the innermost parts of ourselves—our ideas—and translating them into words intended to provoke thought and, in some cases, emotion.  It can be painful to do, but it’s also what makes good writing worth reading. It’s what make stories resonate.

Over the course of three years, I’ve learned that artists don’t just struggle with craft, but with Life. They’ve got their own issues with kids. Their battles own with grief. Their injuries with abuse, with depression. When I feel like I have nothing to say as a writer, then I write as a parent, a child, victim. There is always a part of me that has something to say. It’s just a matter of finding that part.

 What do you feel is the best blog post you’ve written to date and why?

Oh man. Um…let me get the kids into the cabin first. I need to move my chair, too…the smoke always finds me, draws tears from my eyes.

 “The Machete and the Cradle” is the very first post I published on Jean Lee’s World, and it deals with just how dangerous my postpartum depression became during my children’s early years. It’s a time I cannot think upon without cringing from myself. I look at my sons now, poking each other with a koala and a bunny while nestled into their Planes: Fire and Rescue sleeping bags, and to think how close I came to abandoning one of them…


But I overcame that shame in the shadows, and managed to find the words to cast those shadows into the fire. This burning is one of the most difficult things I ever did, and considering where I and my family are now, it is most definitely one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Do you plan your blogs in advance and schedule their release or just blog by the seat of your pants? Or a combo?

It’s a combo. Sometimes I get a fire of ideas I want to share and I whip out a month’s worth of blogs in one afternoon, while other weeks (especially this past summer) I’m up late Wednesday night typing for Thursday’s post.

When you’re being creative, do you prefer quiet or some form of sound (music, audiobook…) in the background?

Always music, always! I get frustrated when I don’t have the right music to write, so much so the story gets muddled in my head. 95% of the time I use instrumental music, but every now and again a song with lyrics hits the atmosphere just right, especially when the words speak to the characters’ feelings.

Favorite composers include Alexandre Desplat, Mychael Danna, Ennio Morricone, Hans Zimmer, Daniel Pemberton, Peter Gabriel…obviously, I can go on.

Cat, dog, or other?


If your home was on fire and you could only save one book, which would it be?

I wouldn’t go for a typical book. I’d grab whatever creations my children made: the boys’ drawings, Blondie’s stories. Those will always mean more than any other book. There could be a signed copy of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in my house, and I’m still goin’ for the kids’ work, because THOSE can never, ever be found anywhere else.

If you had to choose one of your current projects to tell a group of strangers about, what would it be?

As the stars take hold of the sky behind the plume of fire’s smoke?


Campfires are the perfect place to share the darker stories. Be they the fantasies of my childhood, like Dark Crystal or Witches, or the epics beloved by my father like Highlander and Dune, we sit here with the dying embers surrounded by countless dancing shadows of tales. Anyone, anything could be prowling around out there, beyond the fire’s reach, just waiting for its moment to sit, be seen, be heard.

My Fallen Princeborn Omnibus dances among such shadows. It comes from the hidden lands of magic, escaping from shapeshifters cursed and gifted, wielding weapons wicked and beautiful. Not only do these stories come for the thrill of the spirit and heart, but to help define what it is to be a family.

I hope that, after all is packed back into the truck and we’ve returned to civilization’s  plumbing, you’ll stop by for my cover reveal and ARC giveaway.


I’m giving away 1,000 copies of Stolen through BookFunnel and Instafreebie starting September 1st. Yup. One THOUSAND. That be a whoooole lotta copies! But this is my first novel, and I’m keen to hear how readers see the world I’ve seen in my head for years. Next week, as I sit us all down in the cluttered living room for punch and a slide show from my vacation, I’ll start the countdown to the cover reveal of Stolen and the giveaway. Don’t be late!

Now, before I look into the cabin to see who’s jumping on top of whom for a comy circus show, I’d like to nominate 11 more artists for the Liebster Award. Wander this endless campground and stop by their sites sometime. Their fires each burn with unique passions in art, photography, music, writing. Rekindle your own creativity with a shared s’more and smile.

Questions to pick my nominees’ brains on creatin’ and stuff:

  1. What would you consider to be your earliest creative work that foreshadowed the passion to come? Be it taken on a disposable camera, doodled in a school book, or tooted on a kazoo, those school-day scribbles count for something!
  2. If you could gain you favorite living artist’s permission to create an homage of their work (for example, writing a fan fic story with your favorite character), who would you approach and what character would you write with?
  3. I’m always looking for strategies to fight back the distractions. How do you focus yourself in the sea of Life’s Noise to create?
  4. What are the three most inspirational places you’ve ever visited?
  5. Time for the dead artists now! If you could sit down for a cuppa or a pint with any dead artist, who would it be and why?
  6. What’s one stereotype people always apply to you because of who you are/where you’re from? Just for an example—I grew like a corn stalk when I was a kid, so EVERYONE assumed I was really good at sports like basketball. Guess what I suck at? ALL SPORTS. Because I live in Wisconsin, people around me just assume I’m a fellow Green Bay Packers fan. Guess what I hate watching? FOOTBALL.
  7. If there’s one book on craft in your passion you’d recommend to every fellow artist in your field, what would it be?
  8. Favorite grilled food? The answer should be bratwursts, but because you’re friends, I’ll try to keep an open mind. 🙂
  9. Okay, I’m not, I repeat, NOT, a huge Disney fan, but even I’ve got a few favorite Disney films, like Something Wicked This Way Comes. What’s your favorite Disney film? No, Pixar doesn’t count.
  10. And speaking of films, what’s one movie you’re kind of embarrassed to admit you like, but you just can’t help yourself? (Krull, since we’re sharing.)
  11. Share your current endeavors! C’mon, you deserve a chance to plug your work. 🙂

I hope to inform my nominees over the next few days.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

59 thoughts on “#Sharing #Blogging & #Writing #Love Around the #Campfire With Delicious S’Mores of a #CoverReveal & #Giveaway

    • Hey, nights of a kid’s elbow poking one in the face produce just as many random thoughts. I’m amazed I could answer my own questions after herding this brood through the county fair and the beaches and chainsaw demonstrations and the beer garden.
      And I’ve officially decided random thoughts make the BEST thoughts…because they’re all I’ve got right now. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Omg, I started clicking on the nominees links and what did I find? Myself! Thank you so very much! Unfortunately I am not doing the awards anymore as I barely manage my posting, but I will mention your blog in my next post 🙂 Thank you again, I am absolutely humbled xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think that is a natural trait of writers; thinking we write crap. That is what makes blogging wonderful. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I hit the publish button thinking I have written something mediocre, and the comments by my followers tell me otherwise.,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My darling , what an awesome post in so many ways. I remember your early posts and just look at the journey you have travelled since in your life. So proud of you. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx and thank you for the lovely nomination xxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved these questions and your answers. As ever, brave, original, funny and poignant. And honest. I love your writing! I’m reading Fallen Princeborn: Stolen right now… I’ll have the questions for your interview by early next week. Sadly this week, I’ve been afflicted by migraine-type headache that WILL NOT LEAVE. It’s making thinking like wading through treacle:(. Have a lovely holiday – the pics of the family are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Can’t wait to read your questions. We’ll have to fine-tune our plan for YOU later on, methinks, when you’re healthy and I’m not scrambling for my own start to the school year. They up and changed the course material AGAIN, so I have to start from scratch. Again. GAAAAH!

      Liked by 1 person

      • *Groans* Yes… I recall those happy moments alllll too well – though I’m also caught on the horns of my success, given I have a cadre of loyal students who have continued with me since I started teaching Creative Writing at Northbrook some 10 years ago, so I always need to come up with new material…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed your viewpoint on writing. Me I tend to write when a thought can’t be left alone. I truly need an editor though. Keep writing. You are blessed with family and a gift of writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! Yes, those nigglers really get under my fingernails and won’t leave me alone until I can put them SOMEwhere. I usually try to type them, but they’ve also found their way to notebooks and post-it notes. Then, when I’m finally trying to scrape a layer of kid stuff off the floor, I come across a post-it note. “Ooo, a surprise for me FROM me!” 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely post, Miss Jean, though you’ve left me craving S’mores and campfires, and there are burn-bans galore all about. Ah well…
    1,000 copies- wowza!!!! I’m eagerly anticipating the next short story installments. The River Vine is deliciously creepy- I’m glad to see some heroes(maaaybe…) emerging among all of the villany as the stories continue, otherwise corn fields would never feel safe again!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you dearly, my friend! Those corn fields will always creep me out. Just like church balconies at night…gah, they always look like giant mouths!
      Yes, I’m pretty stoked about the giveaway. Feel free to spread the word! 😛 xxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jean. I enjoyed reading all of your answers and thoughts.

    Thanks for the nod. But I have to decline participating in the award process. I go into details about that on my About page.

    Anyway, I’m flattered that you thought of me, and hope that you aren’t offended.
    Take care —

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry, Jean, I don’t do these awards, but thanks for considering me! However, I do like your questions so I shall be answering them in a post soon, just because I want to! And of course I’ll give you due credit. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Five Quick YA Reads For the End Of Summer – The Naptime Author

  10. You certainly set a high bar: thoughtful, intriguing and honest. Sounds, & looks, like you’ve had a great short break, and clearly come back refreshed.

    Thanks for nominating me, you’ve set some great questions. I’ll put my thinking-cap on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Woohoo! I’m just glad you found the notice, because of course I totally forgot to inform people, darnit! And thank you kindly for your words. I’m not sure I’d consider myself refreshed, but the creativity’s a’brewin’ once more. Now if the library would just get me my books on hot air balloons and the Franco-Prussian War, I could start on my next short story… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, you know what they say, a change is as good as a rest. Clearly, you’ve recharged.

        Franco-Prussian war sounds interesting – do you know of an Edwardian author called Arnold Bennett? He wrote a novel called ‘The Old Wives Tales’ which includes a section set in Paris during the siege, and a hot air balloon!

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, I don’t know that one, but I do know…shoot, what was it called…Queen of the Night? About an opera singer in Paris whose true past is about to be revealed from an anonymous source. A good novel, if I could just remember the gosh darn author…

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Dear Jean, congratulations on your award!
    It it always a pleasure to read you, especially from the old continent. Thank you for nominating us, we really appreciate, as well as discovering other nominees (the ones we didn’t know).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much! It always warms my heart when I learn my own writing can connect with others. It can be such a solitary task sometimes, so these awards are a great reminder that writers have a community, too!


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