Getting to know Eileen Joyce Donovan #author #military #WWII #historical #fiction #histfic #books #novels

Today’s guest author is a fellow historical fiction author who has been writing all her life in one form or another. Please help me welcome Eileen Joyce Donovan to the interview hot seat! Here’s a quick peek at her bio and then we’ll learn more about her and her writing.

Although born in New York City, where she spent most of her life, Donovan has lived in six states and visited most of the others. She earned her MA in English at Northern Arizona University. In one way or another, she’s been writing her entire life, whether it was imaginative stories for friends, or advertising copy for industrial clients.

But she never felt her stories were “good enough” to be published. At the persistent urging of her late husband, she finally agreed to seriously edit and revise one of them and take the plunge. Although accepted for publication, the book never made it all the way to print. However, this gave her the courage to pursue her dream of becoming a published author.

Years later, her persistence paid off and her debut historical fiction, Promises, was released in 2019 from Waldorf Publishing and won the 2019 Marie M Irvine Award for Literary Excellence. She is also a contributing essayist to various themed anthologies.

She lives in Manhattan, New York and is a member of Authors Guild, SCBWI, Women’s National Book Association, and The Historical Novel Society.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Eileen: I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. I guess that’s part of my Irish storyteller heritage. In the past, I enjoyed making up stories I told to little children I babysat about stray stuffed animals or dolls, or the adventures of runaway fire engines and trains. Of course, as I got older, I started writing some of the stories down, but never considered them good enough to be considered for publication. After college, I worked for an advertising agency and started writing many of my clients’ ad copy. Since my clients were business-to-business ones, the copy was technical and very different from my adolescent fantasies. But it showed me that I could write something that was publishable, which eventually led me to revert to making up stories again and pursuing publication for them.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Eileen: As an English major in both undergraduate and graduate school, I guess I’ve always worked on my writing skills. And, of course, when you’re teaching writing at the college level, you’d better be sure your skills are first-class. But as far as writing fiction for publication, I guess I really hunkered down on those skills when I began to seriously consider writing for publication. I started attending writing conferences, read tons of writing craft books and blogs, and joined local critique groups so I could have objective eyes evaluate my work. I’d guess, although strict attention to dates and lengths of time are not my forte, I did that for about four years before my debut novel. But I still do all those things. I don’t think you can ever stop learning about your craft and improving your skills.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Eileen: That’s a tough one. I really don’t know who I would put in that category. I guess I’d have to credit Sara Donati and Kate Morton as two strong influencers. It was reading their books that made me realize I wanted to write historical fiction. Before that, I was floundering through different genres, none of which felt right. But now I feel that I’ve found my niche and intend to stay there.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Eileen: Amazingly enough, something that has absolutely nothing to do with historical fiction. It started when I was reading a book of Victorian fairy tales, Beyond the Looking Glass. I’ve always been a lover of fairy tales and had an extensive collection of them. However, this book had tales I had never read or even heard about. I couldn’t believe they had just disappeared when they were so wonderful. So, I decided to rewrite them for a 21st-century audience. Three of the books were accepted for publication; however, due to “circumstances beyond my control” they never made it to print. But that encouraged me enough to continue writing.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Eileen: Children’s stories, fairy tales mainly. I guess I thought they would be easier to write than adult fiction. Boy, was I wrong. But the research I did for those stories led me to my true love of historical fiction.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Eileen: I enjoy bringing characters to life and trying to see what their lives will be like and how they will cope with the conflicts they encounter. Since I’m a “pantser” I’m never completely sure what my characters are going to do, so I’m solving their problems right along with them. And sometimes, they seem to run away from me, and where I thought they were going turns out to be somewhere else entirely.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Eileen: All of the above. And my critique groups. I can’t say enough about how helpful they have been in honing my skills and supporting me in my efforts.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Eileen: I wish I fully understood how difficult it can be to get published and how much time it takes to go from contract to actual printed book-in-hand. I expected it to be a difficult process, but not as lengthy as it is. I guess I also wish I had realized how many rejections I would have to endure before someone said, “This is the one.” But, all that said, I wouldn’t stop writing for the world. In fact, I’m still going through the same agent querying process (and rejection emails) for my present manuscript. I sold Promises directly to a traditional publisher without an agent. I’m not sure I would do it that way again, but with all the acquisitions and mergers, I may.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Eileen: Oh, there are so many.  I’ve been in love with books since I was three years old and I think everything I’ve read has inspired me to create my own stories. I just needed someone to push me into believing in myself enough to sit down and write them. My late husband did just that, and I thank him for his faith in me every day.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Eileen: I watched a documentary on PBS, “Lost Children of the Empire” about British children who were exported from Great Britain to the British colonies in Canada, Australia, South Africa. In the beginning, this was done by private, mostly religious, groups and most of the children were orphans and homeless. living on the streets. However, that morphed into taking children away from prostitute mothers, destitute families, criminal parents, etc. Although the people in charge of these programs felt they were doing a service to the children by sending them to a better place and a better life, this was often not the case. The children were frequently abused and some died while in the care of their new “parents.” This emigration program spanned the years from the late 1800’s to 1968. After seeing this program, it stayed on my mind for about three years. No one I talked to had ever heard about it so I decided I should write about it and bring it to light, focusing on when the government took over during World War II and formed the Children’s Overseas Reception Board. The focus was to keep the children safe, but the abuses were the same. Of course, Lizzie and Colin are from my imagination, but their ordeal is based on facts gleaned from extensive research into this program.

In Promises, 13-year-old Lizzie and her 9-year-old brother Colin are on their way from England to Canada in 1940. Nightly German bombings convinced their mum to enroll them in a government evacuation program. They’re told this short holiday will be filled with trips to the Rocky Mountains, the chance to meet cowboys and Indians, and promises are made to return them to England when the war is over.

When one of Colin’s friends is swept overboard, Lizzy’s doubts about this adventure begin. Arriving in Nova Scotia, they are placed with Mr. and Mrs. Harris, who work them like slaves – Colin as a hand on his lobster boat, and Lizzie as a servant victimized by Mrs. Harris’s abuses. Can she rescue Colin and herself from the Harrises? Will she keep her promise to her mum to protect him?

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

“Farming or fishing?” The matron’s hand waited to grab the right stamp. “Come on, come on! We don’t have all day for you to decide.” Her bulldog face glared out at Colin and me from behind the heavy metal desk.

            She terrifies me so much I can’t even answer her. This is not anything like the grand adventure I thought it would be.

            “Well?” she barked.

            “I like fishing, Lizzie,” Colin’s tiny voice whispered. He squeezed my hand so tightly it hurt. I looked down into my little brother’s eyes and saw fear and confusion. I wanted to grab him and run back home to Mum.

            “Fishing it is,” the matron said, and stamped our papers with a force that shook the desk and made us jump. “Next!”

            Another matron attached a baggage tag to our collars: “Children’s Overseas Reception Board (CORB)” with our names, a number (mine was #158, Colin’s was #159), and our destination – Halifax, Nova Scotia. A different matron herded us to long wooden benches in the corner of the cavernous room. The ceiling must have been three stories high and the walls were dirty gray concrete. One wall was missing. The open space led directly to the docks and the sea. Workers and seamen roared out orders to get the ships loaded while the squawking gulls circled above looking for scraps of food.

            “Girls to the left, boys to the right.”

            “No!” Colin screeched. “Don’t leave me, Lizzie. I’m scared.”

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What a powerful story to tell, Eileen. Thanks for bringing that story to life and to light. And congratulations on the award, too!

Thanks as always for reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

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Martha Washington’s Feelings about George’s 2nd Inauguration #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I found myself pondering the upcoming inauguration which sent me back to when I was researching and writing Becoming Lady Washington and how Martha felt about her husband being president. I realize the times then and now are very different, but there were people then who didn’t want George to be president while many more did. But how did his wife feel about it?

She was proud of the fact that he’d been chosen, don’t misunderstand that point. And she was very aware he felt it his duty to accept for the sake of unifying the country. But as I wrote in Becoming Lady Washington, she watched her husband ride north to New York to assume his new role and:


I was only a little ashamed to admit that everybody could tell I reluctantly had agreed to the idea of my aging husband taking on such a major role. Despite my efforts to keep my worries to myself. His eyesight was failing, his teeth needed to be replaced again, he fatigued easily which left him prone to illness. Yet he prepared to abandon the luxury of home for the good of his country. Doing his duty as I performed mine by beginning the tasks necessary to go with him, back to a situation I supposed would be much like winter camp.


Only she discovered very quickly she hadn’t walked into an army camp situation at all:


Before long I became abruptly aware that being the president’s wife was far different from being the general’s. My hope for a camp-like situation crashed against the reality of the limits proscribed by my husband and his blasted advisors. That coupled with the endless stream of callers made this experience much different from the encampments. I’ve always ensured my attire and hair suited the occasion. Yet I found myself reluctantly submitting to having my hair set and dressed by a hairdresser who came to the house each day for the specific purpose. Apparently Sally’s attentions no longer met the demand.

George informed me upon my arrival that my first reception would be in two days, on Friday beginning at eight o’clock in the evening. Men and women dressed formally would be permitted to attend in the upstairs drawing room. I chose to sit on the sofa, while Tobias or David escorted the guests to me. Around me blazed dozens of candles in the chandelier, while spermaceti-oil lamps rested on tables scattered about the room. George greeted each person after they’d curtsied to me. Light refreshments waited on the tables as the guests mingled and enjoyed chatting with each other. Bob escorted the guests to their carriages when it was time for them to leave. The stiffly formal affair each week lasted too long for my taste, but I had no choice. The president’s wife, unlike the general’s, was a public figure like no other.

I’d also be hosting formal dinner parties on Thursdays at four. I balked at the formality, preferring a more relaxed and inviting attitude. However, I soon learned how little my opinion mattered. Guests were invited by hand-printed invitation and expected to arrive punctually as George signaled the start of dinner on time each week. Government officials, members of Congress, and foreign dignitaries attended. Most didn’t know each other and many had no desire to. I understood, believe me.


She balked at the restrictions and the requirements, but she did carve out the role of First Lady (though she wasn’t called that) and did so with grace and aplomb. However, when he was re-elected she made bones about how she felt in her letters. As I describe in the book, this is how she felt on his second inauguration day:


My prison sentence began again in the Senate Chamber of Congress Hall on March 4, 1793. Four more years loomed before me as I watched George, in his black velvet suit with diamond knee buckles and dress sword with its ornamented hilt, be sworn in by the Honorable William Cushing. I wore a simple yet elegant gown and tried to think positive thoughts, to keep my countenance pleasant. If it weren’t for love of my old man and desire to do my duty to honor our love, I’d have insisted on staying at Mount Vernon among my family. Knowing I couldn’t change the situation, I reminded myself of the positive aspects of our public life.


Despite her dismay, she put on a smile and continued to be the gracious wife of the President of the United States for four more years. She supported him every way she could because she loved and honored him.

Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Getting to know Marilyn Pemberton #author #history #historical #fiction #biography #books

My guest today has a very interesting background before she tried her hand at writing fiction. Please welcome Marilyn Pemberton! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll learn more about the inspiration for her most recent book.

Marilyn Pemberton retired from being a full-time IT Project Manager in October 2019. During research for her PhD, Marilyn “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer. Marilyn wrote her biography, Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2012). There were still many gaps in her knowledge and she decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life – The Jewel Garden (Williams & Whiting, 2018). This novel was a semi-finalist in the Chanticleer 2019 International Goethe Book Award for post 1750s Historical Fiction.

Marilyn’s second novel, The Song of the Nightingale: a tale of two castrati, (The Conrad Press, 2019), was inspired by a program on Radio 3. It is a historical novel, set in 18th century Italy that tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. It is a story of passion, revenge, jealousy, love and redemption. It won the Fiction category of the 2020 International Rubery Book Award.

Marilyn is currently working on the second book of a trilogy that will tell of three generations of women who are story-tellers but who face sometimes insurmountable obstacles to getting their her-stories heard.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Marilyn: Having finished my English O-levels in  the late 1960s, the first thing I wrote that was not for work or my degrees was a book of little known fairy tales that I put together with a short introduction in 2010 (Enchanted Ideologies: A Collection of Rediscovered Nineteenth-Century English Moral Fairy Tales) when I was 56.I then wrote a biography of Mary de Morgan (Out of the Shadows: the life and works of Mary De Morgan), which was first published in 2012.  My first fictional book, which I suppose got me hooked on the writing of historical novels, was published in 2018, when I was 63. So I am very much a late starter.  I’m still not sure I consider myself as a writer, though.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Marilyn: When I knew I wanted to write a fictional book, The Jewel Garden, I was worried because I hadn’t written anything using my imagination for 40 years or more, so I joined a writing group in nearby Nuneaton. I used to read them bits of the novel and they were all very supportive, which helped my confidence no end. Ann Evans, the leader, also made us write short stories and poetry and to write in genres outside of our comfort zone, which I found immensely challenging but also very satisfying. Being part of a writing group made me realize that I did still have an imagination and that I could use it to write words that other people enjoyed.  I was in the group for about three years before The Jewel Garden was finally published.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Marilyn: To be honest I don’t think my writing style has been influenced by any author.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Marilyn: My obsession with Mary De Morgan! On completion of my PhD (as a very mature student) I had found so much about Mary De Morgan that I decided to write her biography. Then, because there were so many gaps in my knowledge about her, I decided to write a fictional account of her life. By now, I was well and truly hooked by the writing bug!

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Marilyn: I feel I am repeating myself here. The first book I had published was an academic collection of little-known fairy tales, followed by a biography. Then came the fiction books – all of which have been historical. I love to read crime but there is no way I could ever write it.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Marilyn: I love writing my novels. I love being lost in a world of centuries ago. Very occasionally I will write a poem if there is the right trigger, but I don’t consider myself a poet, although people have said my writing is poetic. I have absolutely no interest in writing a novel set in contemporary times.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Marilyn: Although I joined a writing group I don’t think it actually taught me how to write – but it did encourage me to write. I have never felt the need to read a ‘help yourself’ book on writing. I have been to a few writing conferences but I went more to hear from literary agents than to learn any skill.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Marilyn: How difficult, time-confusing and soul-destroying marketing is. Like most authors, I enjoy the writing, not the prostituting of oneself in order to tempt just one person to buy your book.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Marilyn: My interest in the telling and retelling of stories and the difficulties of women being heard is definitely as a result of my obsession with Mary De Morgan, who was a Victorian writer of fairy tales. The current trilogy I am writing is all about women telling tales in a world deaf to the female voice.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Marilyn: Having written the biography of Mary De Morgan, I realised that there were still some gaps in my knowledge, despite years of research: why did she never marry, why did she travel to Egypt, how did she become the directress of an Arab girls reformatory? So I decided to write a fictional account of her life, written in the first person by Hannah, a fictional character, who becomes a life-long friend of Mary. I address all the unanswered questions, using my imagination.

It was a time when women were starting to rebel against Victorian conventions and to strive for their independence. This is a story of Hannah Russell’s physical, emotional and artistic journey from the back streets of the East End of London to the noisy souks and sandy wastes of Egypt; from the labyrinthine canals of Venice to the lonely corridors of Russell Hall in Kent. Hannah thinks she has found love with Mary De Morgan, a writer of fairy tales and one of William Morris’s circle of friends. But where there is devotion there can also be deceit and where there is hope there also dwells despair.

Excerpt:

It had been 1882, when I was twenty two and Mary ten years older. By then I had known Mary for two years and had already fallen in love with her. I had wanted to give her something special for her birthday. Over a week of dreary, wet winter days, when Mary had been out of town visiting some distant relations, I created a watercolour garden for her. The flowers were all based on real ones, but I let my imagination run free and mixed winter jasmine with spring cherry blossom; summer delphiniums with autumn roses. The blooms ranged from alabaster to deep purple, and I added even more colour by painting exotic butterflies that balanced on the edge of the petals, looking as if the slightest breeze would blow them off the paper. I had the painting framed and I was pleased with the end result.

On the day of her birthday, February 24th, I invited her around to my house for tea. She arrived promptly at three o’clock and we chatted happily over bite-sized sandwiches, dainty cakes, an assortment of pastries and numerous cups of tea. She asked me what I had been doing whilst she was away and I suddenly felt rather shy. I handed her the painting, which I had wrapped in brown paper and waited nervously for her to open it. Mary, impatient as ever, tore off the paper, giggling excitedly like a small child rather than a thirty-two year old woman, but when the picture was revealed she suddenly went silent and her face paled.

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I find it very interesting that Marilyn wrote a biography and a novel about the same person! I’ve thought about writing a biography of Martha Washington after penning the novel Becoming Lady Washington, but there are already two biographies about her so have not. Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Marilyn!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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To Market, To Market in 1821 Huntsville #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

Sometimes research happens without any planning on my part. A couple of years ago I went to downtown Huntsville to visit the owner of a unique local bookstore. I merely wanted to introduce myself as a local author and ask him to carry my books in the store. But I came away with something much more useful and interesting!

Shaver’s Bookstore is located in the Railroad Station Antiques & Interiors store on the second floor. By the way, the antique store is in the historic Lombardo Building which is on the National Register of Historic Places, so I was happy to see what they had on display. Shaver’s carries an eclectic mix of titles, many from local or regional authors. However, most are nonfiction titles, so my fiction didn’t fit in like I had hoped.

My copy of Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823

While I was browsing, waiting for Mr. Shaver to finish helping a customer, I spotted a large sketch of Huntsville. The scene is of the downtown square in 1823, two years after the time period of my Fury Falls Inn historical supernatural fiction series. The sketch is the result of a historian researching the archives for descriptions of the buildings and streets of the city. There is actually an entire book, Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823, written by the historian, Sarah Huff Fisk, to accompany the sketch. What a gold mine! I love coming across sources in a kind of surprise offering from the universe. I hadn’t yet started writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1) so this was welcome information to have.

Naturally, I bought both the book and a copy of the sketch. I refer to them both as I write the stories in the Fury Falls Inn series. In fact, the third book which I’m in the process of writing, Desperate Reflections, includes a scene at a store downtown and the market place. Both required referral to the text and the image to make sure I had my facts correct and could have Cassie and Flint going to the right places to purchase cloth and then foods.

Closeup of the sketch of the artist’s conception of downtown Huntsville in 1823.

I learned from Ms. Fisk that, “The store directly south of the inn was designated ‘No. 5 Cheapside’ in all the ads placed by its 1820 and 1821 occupant, P. Yeatman & Co., who not only offered for sale ‘Salt, Stripe Linseys, and Leghorn Bonnets,’ but reminded the public (who in those years following the closing of so many banks must have been very confused as to what money was good, if any) that their store operated an:

EXCHANGE – The subscriber continues to exchange Tennessee and Huntsville notes, and to allow the highest premium for GOLD AND SILVER. Drafts on the Eastward, New Orleans, and Natchez Notes.

Yeatman’s was located in one of the row houses at the bottom right in the picture.

As for the market, Ms. Fisk had a detailed section all about the Public Market House. She mentioned that Wednesdays and Saturdays were the usual market days, held in the 1817 building near the northwest corner of the courthouse. What might a shopper find at the market?

“Town residents in general welcomed the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables, fish, tame and wild fowls, lard, tallow, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, meal, honey, nuts, apples, pears, grapes, wild fruits or berries for preserving, freshly-butchered meat, wild game, and other items as the seasons changed.”

That’s quite a large variety, don’t you think? That list was very helpful for me because in Desperate Reflections there is a cooking competition and I needed to know what foods were available in the area in the early 19th century. In the picture, the market was located at the upper left in and around the two-story Market House.

It’s also fun to study the people and animals in the artist’s rendering of what life might have looked like back then. She included a great deal of details including the modes of transportation and games the kids played as well as the kinds of jobs and businesses.

Thanks in advance for your support and interest in my books. And as always, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Getting to know Erica Taylor #author #historical #regency #romance #fanfiction

Please help me welcome a fellow historical romance author, Erica Taylor! See if you can spot the similarities between our backgrounds…

Erica Taylor is a mother of two and military wife married to her high school sweetheart. Raised in the mountains of Colorado, she holds a BA in History from the University of Colorado. Erica has been writing stories since she can remember, picked up her first romance novel while on a beach vacation as a teenager, and fell in love with falling in love, with sexy heroes and the feisty women who challenge their lives.

Erica loves anything Harry Potter, Doctor Who, or Star Wars, can spend hours in Home Goods with a Starbucks and truly believes a cat makes a home. Erica can often be found writing during baseball practice or piano lessons and is not afraid to let dinner burn if it means getting the story out of her head.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Erica: I started writing fan fiction in high school and college and I feel like I never stopped! For me, writing historical romance is along the same lines as fan fiction— I love history and romance and playing in the regency world. 

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Erica: I worked less on writing skills and more on historical knowledge before becoming published. It wasn’t until after I’d signed my first publishing contract I discovered the world of writing craft and learned about pacing, tropes, character motivation, etc. 

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Erica: Julia Quinn, Gaelen Foley, Mary Balogh. 

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Erica: Writing in general, it was just the need to put words to paper. Writing historical romance started after I’d read a particularly bad story and I thought “I could do so much better.” And I hope I’ve done that. 

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Erica: Harry Potter fan fiction!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Erica: The escape and the fantasy of it. Figuring out how two people fall in love just as they are themselves. Plus I love the research involved!

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Erica: Craft lectures at conferences mostly. Other than just figuring it out as I went along. 

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Erica: All of the craft I learned after the fact!

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Erica: I’m inspired every time I pick up a book.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Erica: I liked the idea of two damaged, messy people finding each other and helping each other heal. It’s not a “love cures all” story, but more finding someone who gives you what you need when you didn’t even know you needed it. They aren’t whole and perfect by the end but together they are much stronger. There is also an element of saying goodbye to someone as they go off to war, and it’s probably the only thing in my books I’ve pulled from my actual life. 

Lady Norah Macalister is perfection: beauty, charm, grace, elegance—all a carefully constructed lie. No one would ever suspect her of anything scandalous, and no one is the wiser when a terrible secret threatens to destroy her.

Major Trevor Hayward has unraveled after a decade at war with Napoleon—or so everyone believes. When his cousin is murdered Trevor finds himself the prime suspect. Placed under house arrest at the home of his oldest friend, Trevor doubts those investigating his cousin’s murder will see past his marred reputation.

Refusing to accept her fate, Norah is determined to punish those who have wronged her. Her plan is ruthless, and she will see it through, even if she must manipulate those around her to avenge the wounds of her past. Norah is the most confounding woman Trevor has ever met, but he cannot deny, try as he might, that his best friend’s little sister is all grown up. When she is the only one who can prove his innocence, Trevor has little choice but to agree to her risky plot to destroy a mutual enemy.

While Trevor and Norah collude and execute Norah’s plan, succumbing to the spark between them brings their secrets to light. Can they play with fire and not be burned? Or will the madness of their scheme be the downfall of them both?

Excerpt:

London, England
April 1815

​The first thing Lady Norah Macalister thought as the dark-haired man walked through her front door was, He doesn’t look insane.

Major Trevor Hayward did not notice her as he dropped his hat and gloves to the butler, giving Norah a moment to contemplate his arrival and what to do next. His appearance was untimely, as her companion was not someone Major Hayward would want to see. He looked ragged, Norah admitted silently, with dark circles under his deep brown eyes, and his hair needed a trim. It was not long to his shoulders, or cropped short, but a length in between, hanging over his ears and rather unkempt. His clothes were slightly ill fitting, the brown of his coat drooping over his shoulders. He appeared to have lost a stone or two in weight since she had seen him eight months prior, not that he’d remember seeing her then. The last time she had laid eyes on Major Hayward, he had gone quite mad; it was not a sight she would soon to forget.

The sharp intake of breath from Norah’s companion standing directly behind her drew his attention, and his gaze snapped to where the two ladies stood on the staircase.

For a long moment, Major Hayward stared at Norah, his gaze cold, before flickering to the person behind her. If possible, his gaze grew even colder, harder, his eyes narrowing as he recognized the woman standing behind Norah.

“What are you doing here?” Lady Laura Pythe demanded, exuding disdain.

Major Hayward seemed to share her disgust. “I should ask you the same thing, cousin.”

Buy links: Books2Read

There are some serious sparks flying in that opening to An Enchanting Madness! Thanks for sharing that teaser with us, Erica!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Sally Brandle #author #romance #suspense #contemporary #fiction #books #kindle

Let’s kick the new year off with a bit of suspense, shall we? Please welcome Sally Brandle to the interview hot seat! Here’s a bit about her background and then we’ll talk about the inspiration for her latest story.

Multi-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories. Sally left a career as an industrial baking instructor to bring to life stories motivating readers to trust their instincts. Her two rescue pups and kitty are her companions during long spells of writing. Afternoons are spent trail riding on her thirty-year-old Quarter Horse. The Hitman’s Mistake opens her Love Thrives in Emma Springs series of stories (without intimate scenes). Torn By Vengeance, Book 2, continues showcasing friendship, courageous women, and the men who deserve their love. The Targeted Pawn, Book 3, features a second chance for a life filled with love for humans and their furry friends.

Website * Facebook * Blog * Pinterest

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Sally: I began writing romantic suspense stories, which are my favorite books to read. After penning seven novels in my small-town Montana series, Love Thrives in Emma Springs, I wrote a couple of romantic suspense books with a science twist. Note to self: romances involving science breakthroughs aren’t topping the charts.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Sally: I enjoy crafting a female heroine facing challenges she can overcome by trusting her own gifts. Throw in rescue animals who help along the way and a motivated villain, and I’ll be busy pitting them against one another for months. I’m no shrinking violet. I succeeded for thirty years in a career dominated by men. I like to believe that my male characters are realistic. In the day job I learned a bit about how men think, react, and feel. I live with a husband and two adult sons, so the education continues.

Currently I’m finalizing edits on a book in a new genre—historical fiction or fictional memoir, with an authentic heroine. It begins in 1939 and is based on the incredible and romantic story of my Dutch American friend, Iris, who recently turned 97. She’s my nomination for the female poster child of the Greatest Generation. On Iris’s eighteenth birthday, 12/8/1941, Queen Wilhelmina of Holland declared war on Japan, setting in motion a series of events affecting her in a wonderful and then horrible manner. A movie scout once told me to connect a novel to a film, and what came to mind was a true version of a Jumanji film. Iris rode her horse in the jungle with a pet monkey, had a French Countess grandmother, and bicycled from a WWII Indonesian POW camp every day to give a high-ranking Japanese colonel a shot. Survival depended on her abilities to think fast and keep a positive outlook. Next year is the 80th Remembrance Day of Pearl Harbor and my plan is to publish The Sapphire Promise in 2021.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Sally: I’m continuing to learn the craft of writing through my editor, Sharon Roe. Eight years of conferences, classes, and wonderful beta readers and critique partners gave me a great start before I contracted my first book. Years ago, I paid for a workshop given by a successful author. He looked out at the hundred or so of us in attendance and made a declaration that stuck. To paraphrase, he mentioned that most of us were diligently taking notes. Ninety percent of us would never review the notes or put into practice the tips we would learn. I edit my books with my weaknesses in mind. My beta readers tell me each book I finish is better, and that keeps me striving to learn more.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Sally: All my books can be read independently. I’d written other books in the series when my dental hygienist insisted that I needed to finish the story of two characters who met in The Hitman’s Mistake. She was correct, so I got started. The incident affecting the heroine’s initial view of men in this story is based on what happened to a best friend and I when we were fifteen and naive. We often rode our bikes around an island where we’d see cute dudes parked in cars, looking to meet girls. A couple of slightly older guys invited us onto their jet boat, moored nearby, for a ride. The day was hot, and it sounded like fun. Decades later my friend and I can still recall the shock and horror when they cut the engine on the boat in the middle of the polluted river. In real life and the story, their vile intentions didn’t play out, but the emotional impact stuck. Writing it proved to be cathartic to me, and it set up a great dynamic with my heroine and a compassionate doctor.  

Look over your shoulder. He’s watching.

Corrin Patten is solidly on a path to make partner in a prestigious Seattle law firm when an ominous threat from her past turns deadly. She can handle circumstances necessitating a temporary move to the backwater town of Emma Springs, but its charming physician is another matter, as she’s issued a permanent moratorium on men.

Dr. Kyle Werner revels in trust from patients he regularly treats in a community he’s never wished to leave. Yet, Emma Springs lacks one thing, a woman to share his perfectly bucolic life. He’s read about pheromone attraction, but never experienced desire until meeting Corrin. They make an unbeatable team, but convincing her that his interest is sincere while they dissect layers of deceit requires the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel. Can they defeat the wealthy stalker bent on mistaken revenge against Corrin and destruction of the peaceful Montana setting?

If you thrive on tenacious heroines, sizzling attraction, and a shadowy villain with a grudge, you’ll love this prescription for thrills.

Excerpt:

Set up: Corrin’s arrived in Montana to find she’s just missed the friend she’d come to help. Kyle’s more than happy to assist her.

She dragged down the hem of her skirt, and stared out her side window. A silver car sped toward them from the right, traveling well over sixty.

The same kind of car from earlier. Corrin lowered the visor as a precaution and watched the lone driver as he sped past. Her pulse spiked.

Bloody hell. Paunch Guy from the airport again. She clutched her shaking hands in her lap.

“Where’s the fire?” Kyle shook his head, then met her eyes.

Those baby blues could sway any jury, on any count, any day.

“Miranda told me you became her rock, the friend who kept cool and collected. Are you certain you’re okay?” he asked.

The car faded into the distance. Only a stupid coincidence, but Kyle readily spotted her unease. She tore her eyes away. “You’re witnessing my frustration. I can’t believe I travelled here and missed Miranda. She must be terrified. I won’t relax until she’s safe.”

He glanced at her hands. “She’s being protected by a top FBI agent and my best friend. We grew up together like brothers. I’d trust Grant with my life.” He accelerated onto a two-lane paved road.

Relax your fingers and breathe, she instructed herself, and concentrated on empty pastures out the window.

She’d known country naivety, too. Her nose wrinkled at the memory of smelling cow manure on the trek home from school. ‘You’re not scheduled to testify against a mob boss. The agent better protect her or he answers to me.”

Buy links: AmazonUS

Thanks so much for sharing the inspiration for Torn by Vengeance, Sally! It looks like a compelling story, too.

Thanks for reading, folks! Happy New Year!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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Getting to know Cathy Perkins #author #mystery #sleuth #suspense #scifi

It’s always fun to find out where inspiration comes from, isn’t it? My guest today shares some examples of where hers originated. Please help me welcome Cathy Perkins!

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd.

Website * Facebook * BookBub

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Cathy: I’ve always been a reader and I think the two go together. I remember writing a sequel to My Friend Flicka and a sci-fi action adventure when I was about eight. Lots of life happens later, I started writing novels about ten years ago and love it.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Cathy: The first two novels I wrote are safely tucked away in boxes under my bed. At the time, I’m sure I secretly thought they were terrific, but, yeah, not so much. I learned a lot writing them though and continue to learn as much as I can about the craft of writing. With the third novel, I was ready to show it to people, who then encouraged me to enter RWA contests. The novel, The Professor, won and was published in 2012.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Cathy: This probably isn’t how most people start, but I had a long-term consulting job in a city about 90 miles from my home. I’d listen to music and daydream during the commute. Pretty soon, the daydream developed dialogue, characters and a setting, and I thought, hmm, this is turning into a good story. That particular book lives in a box under the bed, but I was hooked on writing, creating worlds and characters.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Cathy: My first few novels were dark suspense. The research for the last one of those stories gave me nightmares, so switched to lighter amateur sleuth stories. I’m having a lot of fun with Holly Price’s adventures (in eastern Washington state) and have just started a new series set in Washington’s Cascade Mountains.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Cathy: Can I say everything?

With the initial idea comes the digging for “why?” Why the villain did the crime and why the heroine got involved. I find the motivation factors so intensely into the narrative drive of the story and the development of the characters. That’s the next step, of course—brainstorming, building out the characters, including how they talk and view the world. Then again, playing with the chemistry between Holly and JC in So About the Money was a lot of fun!

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Cathy: As I mentioned above, I’ve always been a reader. I think you can pick up nuances of good writing without realizing it. Once I screwed up my courage and showed friends my first story, they encouraged me to continue writing. I heard about a week-long writing retreat sponsored by the RWA Lowcountry chapter. I learned so much at their Masterclass, I joined the South Carolina Writers Workshop when I returned home, hoping to learn more. On my, those guys were so patient with me and offered terrific feedback. Other writers encouraged me, so I kept writing and learning and more of my books were published.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Cathy: So many authors have inspired and assisted me. I’ve found the writing community is terrific. For a specific example, I was chatting with Joelle Charbonneau one night, kicking around ideas for a new series. “Write something you know about, like where you live,” she advised. I laughed and noted “An exciting day on the Christmas tree farm (where I live) means I hang out and watch the deer and the geese on the beaver pond.”

There was a long silence, then she said, “How many people can include all that in one sentence?”

That series releases next spring with the lead title, The Body in the Beaver Pond.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Cathy: Inspiration can hit in the strangest places. My husband and I were hiking along the Snake River, in a game management area called Big Flats (which happens to feature in So About The Money). We had to push through some tangled foliage at the shoreline. Being a mystery writer whose mind really can go strange places, I glanced over my shoulder and said, “Wouldn’t this be a great place to find a body?”

Fortunately, he laughed.

That germ of an idea kept growing. Why would the heroine be out at Big Flats to stumble over the body? How did the body end up beside the river in the first place?

Buy links: Amazon

I loved reading My Friend Flicka as a youth. Actually, any and all horse stories! Black Beauty, The Black Stallion, and Misty of Chincoteague were all favorites. But it never occurred to me to write a sequel to any of them. Cathy’s original ideas translated into very original stories, too. I hope you’ll give her books a read!

Thanks for reading! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Betty Bolte

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Patricia Simpson #author #paranormal #historical #histfic #romance #readindie #books #fiction

Please help me welcome my guest author today, Patricia Simpson! She is a fellow RWA member and lover of paranormal and historical stories. Let’s look at her bio and then get to know her a bit better.

Patricia Simpson is an Amazon bestselling writer from the Bay Area of California. She has won numerous awards, including multiple Reviewer’s Choice Awards from Romantic Times as well as a Career Achievement Award. Her debut novel, WHISPER OF MIDNIGHT, was a finalist in the prestigious RITA awards of Romance Writers of America. One of her more recent novels, SPELLBOUND, was nominated Best Indie Paranormal of the Year. After a long career with TOR, Silhouette and HarperMonogram, Patricia is now enjoying creative freedom as an indie author.

Patricia is fascinated by the possibility of life beyond the traditional human experience, and invariably designs one of her main characters to be less (or more) than human. Every chance she gets, she explores paranormal and historical sites and often travels with her Scottish husband, whose job takes him around the world. When not traveling, Patricia produces two podcasts: FREAKIN’ PARANORMAL and FABULOUS WRITING TIPS.

When not writing, Patricia loves to sing karaoke, redesign living spaces (10 houses and counting—one of them on TV!) and walk her two little pooches.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Patricia: In my early teens, I wrote (and illustrated!) the famous “The Day He Opened the Coffin.” (The most provocative title I’ve ever come up with in my entire writing career!) I became an “official” writer when my novel Whisper of Midnight was published by HarperCollins in 1993 and was a finalist in the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA Awards.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Patricia: Although I have written extensively since I was a teenager, I took ten years to learn the craft as an adult. I wrote and pursued publication while working part-time at a major university and raising two daughters.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Patricia: Jane Eyre – I love Gothics, strong women, and a love story that culminates on the very last page.
Interview with a Vampire – I fell in love with Anne Rice’s brooding vampire Louis with this book.
The Bible – Believe it or not, the biblical world has inspired most historical and paranormal elements/questions in my books.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – A Scot who wrote the definitive vampire story. What’s not to love? 

Albanian Wonder Tales – This collection included “The Boy Who Took the Letters to the Dead,” a story that was highly influential on my young mind. That story fired my “what if” way of thinking.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Patricia: My family moved to Montana when I was nine. Living in a gorgeous but remote area provided me with a lot of creative time. Just getting around Montana involved hundreds of hours in a VW bus with no radio reception or CD player. I spent a lot of time making up stories in my head as the scenery flew by. Our television time was restricted (my parents made us pick two shows a week, and that was all we could watch). I look back on that “hardship” as one of the greatest gifts my parents gave me. Because of my strict upbringing, I became a producer of creative content instead of a consumer.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Patricia: I was fascinated by Egypt and India when I was young, so I set my adventure stories there. Later, I focused on the American Revolution. In junior high, I was writing 120-page novels (longhand!). I asked for a typewriter for Christmas and never looked back.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Patricia: I love to write stories that include mystery or suspense in a gothic setting, usually with a slow-burn romance. I am partial to Scottish heroes or heroes that have a paranormal “affliction.”

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Patricia: I started reading “Writer’s Digest” when I was a teenager. Then as an adult, I consumed countless how-to-write books. I attended workshops and conferences sponsored by Romance Writers of America, where I learned the mechanics of writing. I took writing/screenplay classes from Dwight Swain, Michael Hauge and Aaron Sorkin.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Patricia: Knowing most writers make 5 cents an hour is a daunting prospect if a person expects to make a living. But making money is not the primary reason I write and never has been.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Patricia: Phillipa Gregory, Lucile Morrison, Bram Stoker, Daphne DuMaurier, Pat Conroy, Tom Robbins, Ken Follett, Barbara Kingsolver, Anne Rice

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Patricia: My latest book in The Londo Chronicles, PHOENIX, came about as a product of the apocalypse that was due to arrive at the end of 2012. That looming cataclysm got me to thinking about an end of the world scenario…what might happen after a few stragglers survive a nuclear winter, what their world might look like, and what kind of social structure would emerge. The two sisters in the series are modeled after my daughters and their contentious relationship.

When vampire Overseers execute Eva Wilder Paar’s commissioner husband for treason. she is stripped of everything and forced to return to her dreary job in Londo City. But as Eva waits for her train, she recognizes her estranged sister in a line of prisoners. She knows the horrible fate her sister will face, and all because of her own rash decisions long ago. Eva has to do something. But what? Stay and rescue Joanna? They could both be killed.

Eva must find the courage to battle the vampires who have overrun her tiny seaside village, uncover the horrific secret of the Port Pennwood processing facility and vanquish the evil that stalks her sister and now her. 

This could be Eva’s chance to redeem herself—or the worst decision she’s ever made.

 Excerpt:

Eva took a moment to assess him and decided the best recourse was to check his eyes for signs of consciousness. If he was conscious and breathing, he wouldn’t have to be resuscitated. That would suit her just fine. She brushed away the curtain of wavy hair that shielded his face and took a look at him.

She sucked in a breath.

Below the curve of her hand was the face of the most handsome man Eva had ever seen. His profile was perfectly formed, from his intelligent brow and strong sharp nose, all the way to his full, masculine lips and chin. His black hair, so uncommon in Londo, was wild with wind and sand, and his sideburns cut across his lean jaw, accentuating the tendons of his throat. He wasn’t much older than she was, but even in his current condition, he possessed a simmering strength that put her on her guard. She was alone on a beach with a man who could easily overpower her—when and if he ever woke up.

Eva sat back on her heels, poised to jump to her feet. A snippet from her schooldays flitted through her mind.

Strangers bring dangers. Beware, call out, report.

She wasn’t sure what to do: stay and help him or run for her life. This man exuded danger, not only from a personal safety standpoint but also from the way his physical beauty struck her to her core. She knew how susceptible she could be to a handsome man—or any man that paid attention to her.

Buy links: Books2Read * Amazon * Audible

I share Patricia’s love of the American Revolution time period, too. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Betty Bolte

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Wrapping up 2020 without a Bow #MerryChristmas #HappyHolidays #HappyNewYear #Fiction #ReadIndie

As Christmas quickly approaches, I’ve decided to take some time away from my blog to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next one. I have some writing craft exercises I want to try, for example, in an ongoing effort to improve my storytelling ability. You’ll still see my guest author interviews over the next couple of weeks, though. There are some pretty amazing authors yet to meet!

The trees are decorated—we actually bought two this year. One is in the usual place in the living room and the new one is in the foyer. I can see both from where I sit in the living room, which is a magical experience I hope to repeat next year. Hanging the ornaments always evokes memories of my mother who died right before Christmas 1989 because I have so many of her ornaments in my collection. Snowflakes and ceramic bells and more that each fill me with love and fond memories.

This year seems more emotional and reminiscent than years past. I even started longing for egg nog, something I haven’t consumed since long before my dad passed in 2011. He loved to spike egg nog with liquor, though I’m not sure what he used. His had a bite to it that I don’t think I liked. But I bought a quart at my local grocery store and a pint of Jack Daniels’ whiskey. My first tentative sip reassured me that I do like it even to this day. The splash of whiskey served to cut through the custardy drink and smoothed out the taste to something light and delicious.

This year will also be the only time—I refuse to have a repeat—that I won’t see my daughter in person for Christmas. I’ve insisted that she and her new husband not risk traveling across Georgia to Alabama even for the holidays. I want them to have a long and happy life together and he’s in the high risk category just like my husband and I are. So we’ll open gifts, which I’ve already shipped and they’ve received, via Facetime. Which is better than nothing but still… At least we’ll be able to share in the joy of seeing each other open the gifts. Next year will be in person somewhere, either at our house, theirs, or at one of our timeshare weeks.

My wish for everyone is a safe, happy, and loving holiday season no matter which holidays you celebrate. So let’s put a wrap on the lumpy coal-filled box that is 2020, but don’t put a bow on it. Hide it at the back of the tree and put a “don’t open or relive” tag instead. We’ve learned a lot of lessons this year that we can apply going forward, so don’t forget those, either. Mainly so we don’t ever and nobody else will ever have to learn them again.

Raising a glass of egg nog to you all! Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! And a very Happy New Year! See you in January!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I send out most every month, including news like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers, along with recipes and writing progress. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Laney Webber #author #romance #books #librarian #GayRomance #storyteller

My guest author today is a fellow book lover and life-time writer. Please help me welcome Laney Webber! Let’s peek at her bio and then find out more about her and books.

Laney Webber writes small town contemporary lesbian romance. She has lived in four of the six New England states, but now calls Vermont home. When she’s not making up stories, she also works as a librarian in a small rural library and has the privilege and joy of helping other people find books to read. Laney and her wife like to explore New England and find new places to set their little camper. She will talk to anyone, any time, any place, about books.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Laney: As long as I remember I’ve had stories in my head, waiting to be told. I wrote my first story when I was about 7 or 8 years old on a quasi-typewriter that had a dial you turned for each letter. I’ve taken some long breaks from writing – when my kids were young for example.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Laney: I’ve approached learning about writing and practicing from several different angles. I’ve taken short writing courses, attended a year long online program, and taught creative writing in an adult enrichment program. And I read. I read a wide variety of fiction and non-fiction and I read books about writing.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Laney: My published work has been contemporary romance novels, and I respect the styles of Radclyffe, Melissa Brayden, Gerri Hill, and Sarah Dreher. I’ve also been influenced by Phillipa Gregory and Victoria Holt, the first romance authors I read.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Laney: Books and reading have had such a profound influence on my life, both as a child and as an adult. Books showed me that there was a much larger world than my own little world on the street where I grew up. Books took me to other places and often made me feel what the characters were feeling. Books taught me how to do things, like raise chickens and build a log house. They also were a comfort during hard times. Finding lesbian romance novels in my thirties gave me the strength to come out and showed me that I was not alone and gave me great hope.

I often said to myself that I was going to write a book “someday.” And I wrote a little here and a little there, but it wasn’t until I helped a 90 year old woman put together her memoir and get it published, that I began to take myself seriously as a writer. Helen (the 90 year old woman) said to me, “Nancy, I put this off for forty years. And now, I have so many other stories to tell and I don’t have time. Don’t wait. Start your book and write it, now.”

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Laney: I started with poetry, believe it or not. I love poetry and the challenge to capture an emotion in words. I entered the Writer’s Digest poetry competition and won honorable mention.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Laney: This may make me in the minority of writers, but I love the editing process. I get excited when I look at this big mess of a novel I have with my first draft and I explore it like you’d explore a rundown house, looking for ways to make it beautiful.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Laney: I wish I knew that the thing that stopped me from completing a project was that for me, I need to just keep moving forward. I can’t stop and start editing or fixing things. As bad as the writing may be, first draft – I have to keep that writing train moving. Discovering this, made the difference between a 15 page project that never got finished, and two published romance novels in the past two years.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Laney: Alan Bradley, the author of the Flavia de Luce series. He started writing in 1994 and wrote screenplays and memoirs, then in 2007 a bidding war ensued for his mystery novel, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. He was 69 years old.  His story continues to inspire me as I am an older author. You aren’t too old to write a book and get it published. Ever.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Laney: As a bookish person, I love reading books that are also about books in some way, so I set the book in a used bookstore and the main character manages the store. I also love second chance romance, because that story is a reality in my life.

Jannika Peterson arrived in Grangeton, New Hampshire, with a broken heart and a new job managing the local bookstore. She has a gift for pairing readers with the perfect books, but her matchmaking skills don’t extend to her love life. Love doesn’t stand a chance against her well-protected heart.

Eighteen years ago, Lee Thompson was Jannika’s summer camp counselor, and Lee has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the unusual name. Still healing from her wife’s sudden death, Lee hopes her new job in a new town will help her to begin a new chapter. 

When Jannika and Lee reunite, their instant connection feels like a gift, but neither is ready for a second chance at love. Unable to deny their attraction, will they finally get on the same page when it comes to love?

Excerpt:

Jannika had a love/hate relationship with boxes of used books. Along with moldy and dirty books, she had found a cat turd, a handmade icon of a saint, a half bottle of perfume, melted candles, and a filthy baby shoe among other non-book items. She could usually tell at first glance if she needed the box of vinyl gloves behind her desk. After a few months at The Pageturner, she began to take photos of her book box goodies. She wasn’t sure what she was going to do with the photos but collecting them took her mind off the ick factor.

“Put these here on the desk and let’s have a look.”

In Jannika’s mind an intimacy existed between most people and their books. She stepped with care into the space of the relationship of book and person. She thought it was like trying to put your hand through a bubble and not have it burst, but have the bubble absorb you into itself, making you part of the relationship. She could tell who wasn’t quite ready and would try to persuade them to take at least some of the books and wait a while if possible. She also could tell who was ready or needed to part with their books. But she couldn’t grab the box from them. To her that would be ripping a loved one from the arms of another.

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I have to agree with Laney’s love of stories that involve books in some way. They are a huge part of my life, too. Thanks, Laney!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Betty Bolte

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

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