Tasty Tuesday: Potato Pierogies from Sophia Kimble #dinner #recipe #romance #books

pierogiPlease help me welcome Sophia Kimble with her delicious recipe for potato pierogies, a recipe from her husband’s grandmother. Sophia has some tempting stories to share as well. Take it away, Sophia!


Pierogies are a popular Polish dish, and were traditionally served as a meatless main course during Lent. However, you can add just about any filling you’d like. In my novel, Protect Her, Krzysztof Pietka is a 3rd generation immigrant from Poland, hero, and, of course, gorgeous. His matka (mother) makes pierogies in the book. In the second book, Avenge Her, they also enjoy this wonderful dish.

I’m giving you my husband’s babci (grandmother’s) coveted recipe.

Dough recipe:

6 cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp salt

4 eggs (beaten)

1 ¾ cup cold water

1 stick melted and cooled butter

Mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make a well in center of flour, add eggs, butter, and one cup of water. Work into dough, adding 2 Tbsp on water at a time until dough is smooth and round. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for ½ hour.

Filling:

7 ½ pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces

1/3 cup sour cream

1 ½ sticks butter

2 small onions

Salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until done. Drain. Add 1 stick of butter, and sour cream. Beat with hand mixer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add more sour cream as needed until smooth consistency.

Peel and chop onions. In saucepan, sauté onions in ½ stick of butter for about 5 minutes. Add to potato mixture.

Roll dough onto well-floured surface until an 1/8 inch thick. Cut into circles with glass or cookie cutter. (Dough is bouncy, so after you cut into circles, you may need to re-roll until thin) Add about a Tbsp. of potato mixture to middle of dough circle. (The amount will vary depending on how big your circles are. Fill it as full as you can without potato squishing out the edges when you close.) Wet edges of dough with small amount of water. Fold circle in half and seal edges together. (Very important to get a good seal, if you don’t the potatoes will leak into boiling water.)

Add about 6 pierogies to boiling water at a time. When they bounce to the surface, remove with slotted spoon and smother in melted butter. (This keeps them from sticking to each other.)

Tips:

*While potatoes boil, make dough.

*Keep a large pot of water boiling during the whole process. Make about a dozen, boil, then make a dozen more, and so on. Or enlist some help and get an assembly line going.

*Once you’ve boiled them, you can eat them, but they are much better fried in butter until golden brown.

*These freeze extremely well. Just defrost and fry them up when you want.

*Serve with sour cream.

anne-perryAbout the Author:

Sophia Kimble has always wanted to be an author, but for years, life got in the way. She wouldn’t change a thing about how her life turned out, though. Her family keeps her laughing and loving. Her wonderful husband and two extraordinary children stand beside her every step of the way and make this journey called life worth living.

Sophia has worked as a nurse for twenty years, but has put that career path aside to devote her time and imagination to writing down the stories that keep her up nights.

She takes her love of the paranormal, history, and genealogy, and weaves them into tales of family, fated love, and supernatural occurrences.

Connect with Sophia at http://sophiakimble.com

avengeher_w9799_2_850Avenger Her – The Druid’s Curse Book 2

As a Highland Warrior cursed with immortality, Malcolm Campbell fought many battles, but staying away from a beautiful witch is proving to be the greatest of his life. But when a blizzard traps them together in his castle and dark energy shrouds his home, her closeness ignites buried desires and tests the vow of celibacy he made to his wife’s broken body centuries ago.

Izzy Alexander embraces being an empath and a witch—until she falls for a man she can never have, a man who hates the very essence that is her. When Tarot cards mysteriously appear, and Izzy experiences disturbing visions featuring their godchild in company with a demonic visitor, and the impending deaths of her sister and brother-in-law yet again, she secretly uses her powers to uncover the dark threat.

Without acceptance and trust, love is impossible. Somehow, Izzy and Malcolm must learn to do both before black magic claims another victim.

By letting go of the past, they can ensure their godchild’s future and break the inevitable cycle of death each life time. As a storm rages, desire burns—and ancient evil lurks.


Wow, that sounds like a truly awesome story, Sophia! And you’ve made me hungry to boot. Guess it’s about time for lunch, eh? Thanks for stopping by!

Next week, I’ll feature another author and her recipe for a good story! See you then!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

www.bettybolte.com

The Winding Road to Success #writerslife #amwriting #business #plans

successI love to write. To put words on a page that express exactly what I want to say. I’ve written a lot of different documents, too. Fiction, like short stories and novels, as in my historical romances and paranormal romances. Those are the most fun to write, by the way!

But also nonfiction, like essays and reports. Books for young adult readers on school clubs and horse sports, too. Then there’s the technical documentation that I’ve edited—as in rewrote—to make clearer and convey the precise meaning needed. But there’s one document that I’ve created that is a living one: my business plan.

Did you know that authors need a business plan? I didn’t until last year when I drafted my first one, though didn’t adhere to it. That was a mistake, especially now that I’m going to indie publish my next paranormal romance series.

I think many readers picture an author in rather romantic terms. Kind of like Castle or the author character in Romancing the Stone, where life is exciting and adventurous and the writing comes easy. The words flow onto the page like milk on cereal. And in no time a book is published and the author sits back and watches the money roll in. I wish!

In reality, writing a novel takes a lot of time and effort and many people to transform the manuscript into a book. The longer the book, the longer the writer has to sit in a chair and write. Some books take a couple months, others six to eight months. Then the revisions begin, which can take another month or more, depending on how fast an author can make them. Many authors I know work full-time jobs, too, and have young families and a spouse to factor into their time. Add in time for edits by a professional editor and then more revisions. Cover art has to be created for both the digital and the print editions. The book has to be formatted to upload to the various retail sites. And there’s more but I don’t want to bore you with all of that.

business-planSo it became very necessary to create a plan—my business plan—as to what my goals are for this series that will see the first book launch in January. I had to take the time—which for me was nearly one solid week—to figure out exactly what I needed to do to research and write each book, how long it would take, and then map out when I had to have the many tasks completed to reach my launch day goal. I also had to factor in trips for signings, conferences, and vacation with my husband (he deserves my undivided attention from time to time, too) which would delay or prevent any progress on writing a manuscript.

But after this painful process, I emerged with a comprehensive plan for when I need to complete a first draft, second draft, and then have beta readers and my editor read the story and provide feedback. When I need the covers done, the formatting done, and when I need to start planning the book launch celebration. I feel empowered by doing all of this.

One of the quarterly tasks on my business plan’s schedule is to review my business plan to make adjustments when and where necessary. Making the plan was great for my confidence in my ability to succeed in this new endeavor for me: indie publishing. But I also realize that it’s not engraved in stone and that unexpected circumstances or opportunities may require changes be made to accommodate them. That’s me being flexible.

You may remember that a few weeks ago I had some serious doubt about whether I could pull this off. Having a plan I can modify when I need to really helped me see a road, albeit perhaps a bit winding, to the kind of success I’ve defined for myself. It calmed me down and helped me move forward.

How do you plan for success? Or do you? What do you think?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! I love hearing from my readers!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

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Tasty Tuesday: Strawberry Pretzel Salad #recipe #dessert #fiction #author

Today I’m happy to welcome my friend and fellow author, Amy Boyles. She’s here to introduce you to her favorite dessert recipe and to her super fun series, Bless Your Witch. Take it away, Amy!


pic-of-strawberry-pretzel-saladHey y’all, if you haven’t tried Strawberry Pretzel Salad, boy are you in for a treat. It’s like eating a slice of heaven topped with a little more heaven. Seriously. It’s sweet, it’s savory, and salty, all good things in food, and even better if we’re talking about qualities to be found in a good man. That’s if you ask the heroine of my Bless Your Witch series, Dylan Apel.

Not that she has time for men, as she’s too busy learning how to be a witch. Dylan’s a good ole’ Southern gal who likes her tea sweet, her biscuits smothered in sausage gravy, and her shrimp cooked with a side of grits. Of course, she would still have time for potlucks if she weren’t so busy trying to avoid being murdered in the first book in the series, Scared Witchless.

Which reminds me, Strawberry Pretzel Salad is perfect for any kind of get together—a party, church function, even a holiday—it is without a doubt a solid-hit sort of dish—the kind where everyone goes home happy and two pounds heavier.

Oops. There goes that diet I’ve been trying to start since New Year’s. Oh well. If you’re like me and haven’t started shedding those pounds, what’s one more dessert going to hurt? Nothing! So get started putting together this recipe. I promise, you wont’ be disappointed. And if you’re like my sweet Southern sister witches, be sure to have a nice tall glass of sweetened iced tea on stand by. It’ll make this dish all the merrier, especially since the blistering dog days of summer are coming up. So get to swinging on your front porch, slap a slice of dessert on a plate, and watch the sun shrink into the horizon as you enjoy yummy goodness.

Strawberry Pretzel Salad:

Total Time: 42 min

Prep: 30 min

Inactive: 2 min

Cook: 10 min

What y’all need to round up (also known as Ingredients):

2 cups crushed pretzels

3/4 cup melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar, plus 3/4 cup sugar

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping

2 (3-ounce) packages strawberry gelatin dessert mix

2 cups boiling water

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen strawberries

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple

Whipped topping or whipped cream, to garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

For the crust, mix the pretzels, butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar. Press this mixture into a 9 by 13-inch pan and bake for 7 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese and 3/4 cup of sugar. Fold in the whipped topping, and spread over the cooled crust. Refrigerate until well chilled.

In a small bowl, dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, and allow to cool slightly. Add the strawberries and pineapple, and pour over the cream cheese mixture. Refrigerate until serving time.

To serve, cut slices and serve with a dollop of whipped topping.

About Amy Boyles

authorpicAmy Boyles grew up reading Judy Blume and Christopher Pike. Somehow, the combination of coming of age books and teenage murder mysteries made her want to be a writer. After graduating college at DePauw University, she spent some time living in Chicago, Louisville, and New York before settling back in the South. Now, she spends her time chasing two toddlers while trying to stir up trouble in Silver Springs, Alabama, the fictional town where Dylan Apel and her sisters are trying to master witchcraft, tame their crazy relatives, and juggle their love lives. You can find Amy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amyboylesauthor or email her at amyboylesauthor@gmail.com. She loves to hear from readers.

scared-witchlessBook Synopsis

Dylan Apel is having one heck of a summer. She just learned she’s a witch—and she’s hardly the only one in town.

She knows her hand-made clothing is special, but magical? Discovering that she’s a witch is bad enough, but when Dylan realizes there are folks who’ll kill to possess her witchy powers— that’s enough to make a girl want to hide out in the back of her boutique. Only problem is, Queen Witch is in town, itchin’ to make sure Dylan learns to cast spells, and this witch won’t take no for an answer.

Dylan must learn fast—someone just killed her best client with a poisoned gown meant for Dylan. Was it the tall, mysterious hottie in black, who’s suddenly everywhere she goes? After all, the first thing Roman Bane says is he doesn’t like witches. Is he here to save her, or kill her?

Dylan is barely getting a handle on her new powers when she finds herself surrounded by witches bossing her this way and that, local police nosing about, and wary clients—death by clothing is not good for business. And the solstice is coming … a time when witch powers are at their peak. Can Dylan survive the chaos long enough to figure out her new life?

Reading =Fundamental Necessity #writerslife #amwriting #books

owl-with-booksI’m a little concerned about an apparent trend in America. A recent Pew Research Center survey stated that book reading by adults has declined 6% from 2011, and that adults reading novels fell 14% in the same period. I find this troubling, not only as an author of books but also from a fundamental view of the importance of reading.

I realize I’m not an average reader. I read for research, information, and pleasure across genres and subject matter. I’ve studied literature and how to write it, largely from studying at college and reading books on the topic. At any given time I have a lot of books around me, flagged and marked up with highlighters and pencil.

What concerns me about the idea that fewer adults are reading is that the written word is how we share our thoughts and ideas for others to consume. To ponder and think about for as long as it takes for the information to make sense. That may be instantaneous or it may take several minutes, or we may have to return to the page again after we read something elsewhere that sheds light on the matter. I do that frequently, by the way!

In our current fast-paced, instant gratification culture we have many ways to access the information we seek. Not all are created equal in my opinion. I understand that there are many how-to videos on YouTube, for instance. I have watched a few when I needed to know how one of my characters would have performed a certain task. The problem for me is that I live in the country and I can’t stream or download a lot of videos because we’re on a satellite internet system and we’d be put in bandwidth abuse jail if we tried. The same thing applies to any kind of streaming on my TV for the same reason. Thus books are very important to me.

I also think reading a book strengthens our attention span muscle. When we only receive our information in sound bite length snippets, we don’t, and actually can’t, fully understand the whys and wherefores of the event making the news. Maybe at times we don’t really care about the backstory of the accident or the rise to fame of some celebrity. But we might if we knew more about how and why those things came to pass.

You all know that I write stories that include American history elements, whether I’m writing contemporary paranormal romance or historical women’s fiction. But you may not know that I hated taking history classes in school because they were taught using only the facts: names, places, dates. The textbooks rarely expounded on the lives of the people who were not fighting in the wars or running the government. Which gave me the impression that everything must have ground to halt except for the battle or the coup, etc.

But that’s not true at all! That’s what I’m trying to show in my historical fiction (romance or women’s fiction) and even in my paranormal romances – that people continued to live and love, get married, have babies, mourn the death of a loved one who died from malaria or scarlet fever, etc. In fact, it was through reading historical romance and fiction that I fell in love with history and the influence on our present way of life that historical events have made.

For example, the torturous and rough paths/roads of the 18th century for wheeled vehicles to travel led to better and smoother roads by the early 19th century. The need to reduce the time and expense of moving products to markets led to canals being built and then the railroads. The trip from Mount Vernon in Virginia to Philadelphia took George Washington almost 2 weeks to make in bad weather on even worse roads. The trip today when I drove it last year was only about 2.5 hours.

Story is very important to our survival, too. Stories teach us. Through morals in some. Through example in others. What to do, what not to do, and the repercussions of each so if we’re ever in a similar situation we know what options we have. Nonfiction as well as fiction work to provide the story of other’s experience.

So to me reading is truly fundamental. We read all the time and all the place. Like instruction manuals, nutrition labels, recipes, newspapers and magazines, blogs like this one, news online from a variety of sources, maps, road signs and more. We need to know how to interpret what we’re reading, how to understand the story being told to us and what it means to us as individuals and as a society. Reading supports our education and our day to day lives.

That’s my thoughts. What are yours? Do you agree? Disagree?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! I love hearing from my readers!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tasty Tuesday: Evelyn’s Hot Cross Buns #recipe #histfic #romance #books

Hot cross buns
Hot cross buns

I’m kicking off a new series today that I’m calling Tasty Tuesdays. What, you may be asking, is tasty about Tuesdays? Well, in the coming weeks and months, you’ll get to sample a variety of foods along with why they are important or meaningful to a variety of characters by a diverse set of authors. Some of the authors you may know already, while some others will be new to you. You may find some new books you want to read, too!

So to start this journey through stories and recipes, I’m going to share Evelyn’s emotional attachment to Hot Cross Buns stemming from childhood traditions, ones she intends to continue for the sake of her infant son. Peggy is an indentured servant freshly arrived from Ireland and is missing her own family. Here’s a short excerpt from her story, Evelyn’s Promise:

Evelyn’s decision to have Peggy bake buns earlier in the day had proven fortunate. While she held a tradition of making hot cross buns for Good Friday, the notion had popped into her mind to indulge the whim. Along with the steaming cups of chamomile tea they served to satisfy their hunger. Her newly assembled family sat in the modified carriage house, chatting and poking fun at each other. Little Jim had fallen asleep on the folded quilt beside her chair. Arrayed before her sat Jemma and Peggy, with Nathaniel to her right. Everyone had expressed delight at the unusual treat.

“Remember to hang one of the buns in your new kitchen.” Peggy bit into the warm bread with a cross made with strips of unleavened pastry dough.

Evelyn shrugged as she tilted her head to one side. “Why would we do such a silly thing?”

Peggy leaned forward, a conspiratorial grin lighting her eyes. “Some believe hanging a hot cross bun in your kitchen prevents fires and ensures all the other loaves of bread bake properly.”

Nathaniel laughed as he crossed his ankles, relaxing against the chair back. “Sounds like superstition to me.”

“Aye.” Peggy cackled and rose to her feet to stir the cook fire. “It is a bit of whimsy indeed. But none of the kitchens in our town in Ireland ever had a fire they didn’t want.”

“I’d say that’s merely a coincidence.” Nathaniel selected another bun and waved it in the air to punctuate his observation. “My parents’ home never had a kitchen catch fire either and they didn’t adhere to such nonsense.”

Jemma started the rocking chair in motion, her gaze flitting from one person to another. “Will you make them for Easter as well? Seein’ as how you made ’em today.”

“I believe so since it’s not until the twentieth of next month.” Evelyn picked up a bit of sewing she’d started and planned to display in her new house. “I’ll make enough to share with everyone as part of the day’s celebration.”

Can you tell that Nathaniel needs some convincing about traditions? <grin>

Like Evelyn and Peggy, the memories associated with baking cookies and pies and such for holidays are some of the fondest ones I possess. Both baking with my mother while I was a child, and then with my own daughter even through today. In particular, working together to make cutout sugar cookies en masse for Christmas! We bake a lot of cookies to enjoy and to give away.

What about you? What memories do you associate with baking?

Next week, I’ll feature another author and her recipe for a good story! See you then!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Evelyn's PromiseEvelyn’s Promise

Determined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams is determined to make his fortune on the New Frontier. But during a visit to Charlestown, his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathanial to make the hardest decision of his life.

www.bettybolte.com

Dealing with Doubt #writerslife #amwriting #books

sad-retrieverBeing a writer means that I have a strong imagination. Which is great for creating stories but also means I can swing into doubt and even discouragement easily. Yes, I try to look on the positive side of events, but I can still see the negatives. Keeping them at bay is typically rather easy for me, but then some days – like this past Friday – it’s downright impossible.

I really hate being in doubt about what I should be doing with my writing. I’d just made a business plan that detailed my goals and milestones and deadlines for the next 2 or 3 years in detail. Then faith in my own writing stopped me in my tracks.

Without going into the agonizing details of why, I want to share what I did to pull myself together in hopes you may find some help for the next time you experience such crippling doubt and uncertainty.

The first thing I did was to contemplate quitting writing altogether. Just stop. (Yes, my dear readers, I was that upset and worried.) I could work on other projects waiting for my attention. Like my cross-stitch and crocheting. I have a TON of those projects calling my name, so I could finally cross them off my mental to-do list. Then there’s my guitar that I even bought new strings for back in January and played a few times. It’s back upstairs gathering dust so I could focus on my writing. I could give it some attention again, too.

But then I thought of my readers and realized I can’t stop writing stories for you! I refuse to let my fans down. So I pulled myself up by the bootstraps, as they say, and told my husband we needed to talk. I needed a new plan. With him. No distractions, just us and a pad of paper and a pen.

Which we did Saturday morning. He is my most avid supporter and fan and he did in fact listen as I poured out my worries and fears. And together we made a plan for going forward that we can both live with. It took putting numbers on paper – I hate math! – so that he could understand what I’m thinking and how much it will cost to begin indie publishing a new series next year. We needed to agree to take this leap and its inherent risks.

Then I went to my local RWA chapter Heart of Dixie monthly meeting and shared my fears with my friends. The discussion and support bolstered my resolve and cleared any lingering doubts I harbored. I am forever grateful to my chapter for their unwavering encouragement and enthusiasm as I navigate the publishing path!

Having a plan is important to me. I’ve been a planner all my life! What had caused my serious self-doubt was fear that the plan I’d so carefully laid out would lead nowhere. Would lead to my husband and worse, my fans, seeing me as a failure as an author. My faith in the plan has been restored, thanks to a heartfelt discussion in order to understand all the moving parts and pieces involved in making that plan lead to success as I define it.

So be on the lookout for more on new releases coming out in the new year. I can’t wait to share the new covers and titles with you all!

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

 

Between the Lines: America’s First Museum #research #history #amwriting

My character Nathaniel Williams earns some extra money in Evelyn’s Promise by helping to move items into the collection of America’s first museum, founded in 1773, at the Daniel Cannon house on what is now Queen Street, Charleston, SC. (I used the present day name in my book only to avoid confusing present-day readers. In fact, in the 18th century the street was known as Dock Street because of a dock at the east end, the part of the street which is now known as Vendue Street.) But how did I know where the museum collections were kept during this time period?

I asked the Charleston Museum folks, of course. Carl Borick is the Director of the museum, and he was very helpful in answering my questions about where the museum was housed in 1783 and after. In fact, he provided a wealth of information, which I used some of in Evelyn’s Promise.

According to Mr. Borick, there was no dedicated building for the museum until the 1820s. In the time period of my series, the collection was maintained by the Library Society, but the society burned down in 1778:

Among the items lost from the Museum were “a pair of elegant globes, mathematical and other instruments, and many specimens of natural history.” After the fire, the remaining collections of both the Museum and Library Society would have been moved to the Daniel Cannon house on Queen Street in Charleston. This house was probably a Charleston double house (two-story) constructed primarily of brick. Not much was done with either organization during the Revolutionary War.

250px-Charleston_County_Courthouse_2013In 1785, the museum moved to the State House, a masonry building still standing in the city and known as the Charleston County Courthouse.

The collection included some really amazing artifacts from what Mr. Borick shared. Including a case of insects from Surinam, an Indian helmet from the Sandwich Islands, part of a human thigh bone with oysters growing out of it, the head of a turtle from Calcutta that weighed 700+ pounds (whole turtle, not just the head), an Indian hatchet, and a rock crystal from Greenville, SC. Early collectors contributed things from all over the world that “reflected the cosmopolitan nature of the major port city that was Charleston.”

Knowing this, I tried to capture the essence of the city and its people in each of my four stories in the series. Besides, I really enjoyed my visits to the city to do my own research as to the feel of the place, the taste of the food, and the smells of the ocean and gardens the city is known for.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Evelyn's PromiseIf you’re interested in buying your own copy of Evelyn’s Promise, you can find her story at the following links. Thanks!

B&N: http://bit.ly/1SCcwTJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1nW5AEd

Amazon ebook: http://amzn.to/1nifyz4

iBooks: http://apple.co/1UVyy1p

Google: http://bit.ly/1XbQsyc

Between the Lines: She wrote what? #American #women #history #research

Ann Frobel CW DiaryThe inspiration for the A More Perfect Union series of historical romances came from reading early American literature. An essay by Judith Sargent Murray, specifically, in which she argued for equal education for girls, and argued against the mistaken notion that females would become sick with too much education. Looking back on how our understanding of human capabilities has morphed over time, it’s difficult to imagine anyone would believe the brain couldn’t learn without making the person—female, that is—ill.

One symptom of this idea is the denial of women to write for publication without being criticized for “manly” behavior. But by the end of the American Revolution women had started to write for publication. Even young slave Phillis Wheatley wrote poems and had them published.

One thing I’ve noticed in my research is the expansion of available written materials for women’s lives over the last 240 years of our country’s existence. What’s interesting to me is that the earliest written record is usually in the form of letters between women and their friends and family. Few colonial women had the time, the materials, or perhaps even the interest in documenting their day-to-day existence in a diary. I can think of one that is famous for the very fact that it was written by a lady in South Carolina during the Revolution. Add to the dearth of materials available the fact that these women often had a sense of privacy they held dear. Which often led women to burn their letters before they died, like Martha Washington is known to have done. (Sadly…)

Mary Chesnut CW DiaryBy the time of the Civil War, however, it’s easier to find the histories of women. For example, both Mary Chesnut, wife of a Confederate general, and Anne Frobel, a Virginia lady, kept diaries specifically to document their lives during the conflict, recognizing that others may actually want to know what they had to endure after the fact. Which they were indeed correct to presume!

I found myself pondering the expansion of women writers of all kinds over the centuries. From writing letters, to keeping diaries, to writing essays and novels and nonfiction books, to the vast array of writing we enjoy today. Even this blog is an example of a woman voicing her thoughts to others. I think all this stems from women having more education, less manual labor around the house, more “leisure” time as a result. (Note that although I’m calling it leisure time, we all know that most people fill every waking hour with something to do!) And of course, the materials are always at hand, whether it’s paper and pen or some form of keyboard. But also because women are people who have a voice and thoughts worth sharing.

So I thank those courageous women like Judith Sargent Murray who stood up to be counted and helped to open the door to the world of writing I enjoy today.

Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

My American Revolution series of romances begins with Emily’s Vow, which was a finalist in the 2015 International Book Awards contest. The stories each feature a strong woman who declares her own independence for a variety of reasons, but ultimately they each find and fall in love with their soul mate. You can purchase the 4-book series for Kindle, or for Nook. They are also available in paperback if you prefer. Happy reading!

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Between the Lines: What a Family Tragedy #women #history #research

Winnie Mae MurphreeWhen I was researching for Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure back in the 1990s, I ventured out into many different cemeteries. It’s always a somber moment to locate the grave of a person, whether you knew them or not. The older tombstones often included a message, a poem, or a few heartfelt words revealing how much the person was loved or would be missed.

Winnie Mae Murphree is remembered for her heroic act, along with her sister Celia, in capturing Union soldiers in Alabama and turning them over to the Rebel army camped nearby. I Murphree Historical Markerwanted to find where she is buried, but when I did I also found that her husband, Asa Bynum had faced a terrible personal tragedy the year Winnie passed.

Winnie died from unknown causes on November 29, 1899. But two of their children also died around the same time. Maud had died a week before Winnie, on November 13 (or 18), 1899, at 16. Albert died December 3, 1899, at 20 years old. My heart still aches for poor Asa having lost three family members within a month.

Murphree TombstoneI wonder what caused them all to die in such a short span. I can’t locate anything about an epidemic in Texas during that time. I found some mention of pneumonia and smallpox but not during the end of 1899. Could it have been an accident? Was Albert still living at home at the time? I don’t know. If anyone does know, please tell me. I’d love to find out what happened.

If you’d like to see more pictures related to Hometown Heroines, you can find them on my Pinterest board. Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from my readers, so please feel free to comment below.

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Literary Classics International Book Awards - Youth Award Winning Book
Literary Classics International Book Awards – Youth Award Winning Book

Interested in your own copy of Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure? You can find it in ebook and/or paperback at the following sites:

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Between the Lines: Skeletal Remains Reburied #research #fiction #romance

 

Firor Graves
Some of my Firor ancestors’ graves.

I love to do research, especially into American history. But for my contemporary ghost story, Traces, I had Meredith find the skeleton of one of her ancestors. Then I had a question: what would she be required to do after finding it? In other words, what authorities needed to be informed? Could she bury the bones in the family cemetery on the fictional plantation property? Or did she need to do something extra to get permission to do so?

 

I dug around (pun intended!) online, reading the information on various Tennessee government sites related to regulations for graveyards and such. But I couldn’t figure out the answers to my specific questions.

Then I stumbled upon a government site that listed a contact person I thought might be able to either answer my questions or point to me someone who could. Pay dirt!

I was referred to the TN State Archeologist who was able to clearly and concisely answer my questions. Here’s what I asked:

Would the person discovering the remains call the sheriff if the site of the find is in the county? Would the sheriff then call the ME to come collect the bones, etc.? How long from the time of the call to the local police would it be before the police or ME showed up to collect the remains? Hours? Days? What happens to the remains once collected: carbon dated? DNA? Other tests? Finally, once the remains are returned to the family, is there any special permit or anything needed in order for said family to bury the remains in the family cemetery on their property?

Mike Moore then gave me the specifics to my questions. In the county, the sheriff would be notified, and he’d call the ME; sometimes the notification is reversed. Since human remains are involved, they show up the same day. No permit is needed to rebury skeletal remains. As for the kinds of tests, he said:

Medical examiner will try to determine age and sex of individual, and note any obvious trauma or pathology.  Radiocarbon dating is not conducted in a modern forensic case (this particular analysis is conducted on carbonized wood, nutshell, corn, and at times shell recovered from prehistoric Native American sites).  DNA testing could be done, but probably not unless there was a specific need due to expense and time involved. Not sure what other analysis/tests they may do, perhaps contact a medical examiner’s office to ask that question.

So, armed with this knowledge, I could portray in the story how Meredith and Max dealt with the skeletal remains of the Lady in Blue and know that it was as accurate as I could make it. After all, I didn’t want someone to think they could do something that might have been illegal if I had not done my research.

Digging to find the facts to provide the proper context for any story I write is one of my main focuses. In this case, I chose to have Max know the proper response since he’s a preservation lawyer, rather than have Meredith bungle around trying to sort it out. I wanted to keep up the pace of the story and the focus of the situation on their relationship and not the legalities involved.

Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopIf you’d like to find out more about the Lady in Blue, you can get your copy of Traces at any of these places. Note that it’s available in paperback also at Amazon and B&N. Happy reading!

LSBooks: http://bit.ly/1fp2brP

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ivVTpS

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Kobo: http://bit.ly/1tUDIic

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