Getting to know Lynn Collins #author #contemporary #romance #HEA

Getting to know Lynn Collins #author #contemporary #romance #HEA

My guest author today has really experienced what it’s like being a published author in today’s marketplace. But I’ll let her tell you more about her experience and her inspiration. Please help me welcome, Lynn Collins!

Lynn Collins is the romance pen name for New York Times bestselling mystery author, Lynn Cahoon.

Lynn Collins claims to be the daughter of Barnabas (Dark Shadows) and says she grew up in a dark, dank castle on the moors, waiting to be rescued. Finally, as all good heroines do, she rescued herself and now writes about happily ever afters in small town settings.  Someday she hopes to write the next big gothic romance. She lives with her cat.​

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lynn: My first romance short was published in 2010 – both with the Trues (True Love/True Experience) and Women’s World. My first full length book was published in 2012. I accepted a contract to be one of the authors to launch Crimson Romance, at the time, a new ebook (and POD) publisher. I’ve now gone through losing my editor in chief, losing my editor, and being sold to a Big 5 publisher. And I’ve also gotten my rights back and republished these from Cahoon to Lynn Collins which I’m self-publishing.

My Lynn Cahoon books are traditionally published with Kensington and are cozy mysteries.

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

Lynn: I started writing again during my divorce and did several MFA classes in fiction, non-fiction and publishing. It took me a while to commit to writing, but once I survived cancer, I was focused. And what you measure, gets done.

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

Lynn: Writing style – Stephen King, Robyn Carr, A good story well told.  😊

Publishing – Bob Mayer. He taught me to never take no for an answer and to repurpose our writing as much as possible. His books on writing are gold for anyone who wants to make writing their business.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lynn: I’d always wanted to be an author, but didn’t see a ‘program’ in the college handbooks. So I put it on the back burner. When I was faced with a life-threatening disease, I needed to set some life goals. Writing was the one thing that kept coming up and I’m glad it did.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lynn: I started with romance although I tried a little bit of everything then I’d stop at chapter four and start something new. Finishing a book was a big step even though I haven’t attempted to sell that book at all.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lynn: Building new worlds. I really love setting up new communities. The characters have become my friends. I think about what they do in between the books.

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

Lynn: There was a girl on the bus when I was in school. She wrote stories, then illustrated the stories with pictures cut out of the teen magazines that we loved. I loved her stories. It was the first time I had known an author.

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

Lynn: It’s my story and I should make the decisions on what my characters are going to do.

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

Lynn: Top Secret Santa was a call out for an anthology. Writing a Santa mall story was fun and reminded me of home.

She needed the elf job. Then Santa walked out. Now, she has a line of screaming kids and no one to wear the suit or sit on the chair.

He was just trying to be a good Samaritan and return a lost gift card. And if he was lucky, get a pretty girl’s phone number. He’d been out of the dating world for a while. But playing Santa? That was extreme, even for an ex-Army Ranger.

If you love a good meet cute combined with a Christmas twist, Top Secret Santa is for you. Buy today and complete your Castle View romance series collection. Note: Top Secret Santa can be read as a standalone.

Excerpt:

~ Two strangers, each starting a new life, realize that visiting Santa really is about Christmas magic . . . ~

“Merry Christmas to me. Not.” Noelle North sat at her usual table at the Food Court by the fifties themed hamburger place where she ate most nights she worked. She’d finished her dinner, and now was going through the mail she’d grabbed out of the mailbox as she’d hurried to work a few hours ago. Fingering the gift card that had fallen out of her Christmas card from her parents, she stared at the card. The scene on the lime green card showed a beach scene with a reclining Santa in a swimsuit and an iced drink in his hand. Merry Christmas from Florida.

Her cell phone jangled, and she glanced at the display before she answered. Apparently, the envelope must have had an invisible tracker telling her parents when she’d opened the card. “Hey, Mom, how’s the new house?”

“Hot. Your dad’s working on getting the air conditioning set right. I think he’s just being a cheap skate. You sure you won’t fly down next week? We’d love to see you.” Her mom’s voice echoed over the phone line. “I’m setting up a taco bar and serving margaritas for Christmas Eve dinner.”

“I have interviews scheduled starting right after the first and through the next two weeks. Longer if it takes more time.” Noelle glanced down at the green and red elf hat on the table. And there was that little problem.

Buy links: Amazon

One of these days, I’m going to write a Christmas story but the inspiration hasn’t struck yet. Lynn’s story sounds like a fun, light-hearted romance perfect for the holidays. We need some love and light this year, don’t we?

Thanks for sharing, Lynn! And I hope many of you will grab a copy of Top Secret Santa today!

Happy reading and Happy Allhallows Eve!

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!

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Getting to know Victoria Oliveri #author #historical #fiction #romance #novels

Can you believe we’re halfway through October already? As the holidays quickly approach, I’d like to introduce you to yet another author who has been writing all her life. Please help me welcome Victoria Oliveri! A quick peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her inspiration and stories.

International bestselling author, Victoria Oliveri, is a life-long researcher and re-enactor whose studies and travels have given her volumes of ideas for her historical novels. 

As a full-time author, she spends her days writing, editing, and researching when her pets are not nagging to be fed or paid attention to. She enjoys chatting with fellow authors for impromptu brainstorming and discussions of the craft, and when she has the time, she goes on the occasional road trip to refill her creative well.

Website * BookBub * Twitter * Pinterest

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Victoria: I’ve been writing since I was in grade school, much like many other authors. I began publishing in 2006, and to me that was when I became a real writer. Writing is one thing, having to deal with the business side of that demon is another. It really tests your courage and your ability to keep at it despite criticism and trying to drown out your own self-doubt.

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

Victoria: Many years. I was always involved in writing at school, majored in Journalism in college and held so many jobs where all that I’d learned was utilized.

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

Victoria: There are so many. Ursula le Guinn, Jane Austen, William Gibson, Jackie Collins… so many writers, so many genres.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Victoria: My inner voices. I was always a storyteller, it runs in my family, and writing is just a way to record it all.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Victoria: Short stories. As a kid I wrote picture books for my friends, as I got older, I wrote stories of teen girls with a love of horses and boys that don’t deserve them. I guess I haven’t grown out of that LOL

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Victoria: It has never been a love of genre for me, but the love of the character and the story. If you have passion for what you’re trying to say and a vivid imagination, it doesn’t matter what it is in my book, as long as you write about it. I’ve written historicals, science fiction, and now contemporary. I love it all.

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

Victoria: Mentors, great teachers and lots of reading. Growing up I had a handful of great teachers who let me express myself as often as I was able. I was in a few special creative classes and AP English. There are a lot of craft books and how-to books out there, but in my opinion, you have to learn the basics before you go looking for help. Read a lot. Read the genres you want to write. Make note of how the author builds characters and scenes. Believe it or not, all my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 80s taught me a ton about world building, some of which I still use to this day. You can learn from everything around you. Listen to conversations and the cadence in people’s voice to figure out how to do dialogue. Watch an action movie and try to describe what you’re seeing to learn to write action scenes. You have to find your own voice that way.

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

Victoria: Nothing. Honestly, when I started into the publishing world it was before the internet blew up and all we had was email. Manuscripts had to be printed and mailed to publishers in boxes. Everything I knew then is completely antiquated now, and I had to learn and relearn things over the years as the industry has changed. One thing I will say to people who don’t like social media or technology… suck it up or choose another occupation. Both are intrinsically tied to what we do. And start your mailing list early. Even if you don’t have a book out, get the word out, get your readers interested because they will be the only thing to sustain you.

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

Victoria: Again, so many. Ursula le Guinn has always been a favorite. She pushed boundaries and everything she wrote was so thought-provoking, got people talking. When I write, I don’t want my readers to say “Oh, her heroes are hot”, I’d want them to say “I’m still thinking about that emotion she churned up in me” months after they read the book.

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

Victoria: History has always inspired me, which is why I love to write historical romance. I started to write this book during a snowstorm, sitting at my desk watching the world get buried in white outside my window. For me it was easy to imagine things transpiring and how the outcome would be affected by not only the elements, but the characters emotions and decisions. It’s the main reason I look forward to writing every day. I’m a reader just like everyone who picks up my books. As I write, I want to see what happens too. 😊

A determined Governess who needs to support her family, an eager gentleman who is moving blindly through his life, and love like the blizzard that blindsides them both.

Excerpt:

“So, you’ve been in love before to know this?” he asked, reaching for his own cup and taking a sip.

“No, I haven’t,” she said, suddenly looking away.

“Then how would you know how one would feel if you’ve never felt it yourself?”

“It is obvious. Have you never seen two people in love before?  It is as if the world starts and ends between them.”

“That type of love is fleeting. For newlywed couples the look of love follows them everywhere for the first few months, but it subsides eventually.”

“That is not true. My parents were deeply in love until the day my mother passed. So, I have seen it,” Arabella bit out.

“Then your parents are very lucky to have found one another because that sort of long lasting attraction is very rare, and I am sorry to inform you that the real world is not like that so you will be forever searching for something that simply does not exist.”

“I did not know you were such a pessimist,” she said with a grimace. “Of all your brothers, I thought you were the romantic one with a heart.”

That remark hit him sideways and his eyes darted to hers as he quirked his head.

“You think I have no heart because I do not believe in love as it is written in novels?  That’s the most absurd thing you’ve said yet,” he said with a laugh

Buy links: Books2Read

There’s something about being snowed in that gets people to talking and opening up, isn’t there? This story sounds intriguing. I hope many will pick up a copy to read and enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

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 

Introducing Liz Barrett Foster #author #editor #EatLikeaWriter #nonfiction #pizza #books #fiction #ChildrensBooks

Recently I answered an interesting weekly question over at Eat Like A Writer regarding how the pandemic has impacted my writing. (You can read all the responses here.) Little did I realize I might meet a kindred spirit! Please let me introduce you to a fellow author who also loves all things cooking! Let’s take a quick peek at her bio and then I’ve asked her to answer some questions based on her own website, Eat Like A Writer. Ready?

Liz Barrett Foster is the editor of Eat Like a Writer (eatlikeawriter.com). She’s an award-winning journalist, editor and author. Hailing from Michigan, she lived in Los Angeles for 19 years before landing in the south. A journalism graduate from Cal State Northridge, she’s written for an array of food and beauty magazines, authored a nonfiction pizza book about pizza and self-published a children’s mystery book about peanut butter.

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

Liz: English was always my favorite subject in school. I was on the staff of my high school newspaper, took creative writing classes, and even earned my bachelor’s degree in journalism. However, I don’t feel like I learned to write in school. I was taught the fundamentals of grammar, sentence structure, and the rules of good journalism in school, but it wasn’t until I was working my first magazine job that I finally started getting a real writing education.

I was working at a beauty publication called Dayspa in Los Angeles. My managing editor, Linda Kossoff, would go through my stories with a red pen, marking what needed to be moved and changed. We would then sit down together, before I made the edits, and she would explain why she made the changes to my work. It was in that job that I learned how to make stories tighter and words flow better. I still believe it’s important for editors to show writers what they change, and why, so writers can learn from their mistakes.

Betty: That’s a very good point. A good editor will explain the reasons behind the edits so that the writer can learn from them. It’s a conversation, in essence. So, what type of writing did you start with?

Liz: As a teenager, I used to write a lot of poetry, mostly about boys. You can imagine. Every time I fell in love (which seemed like every other day back then) I wrote a new poem. More poems surfaced with every new heartbreak. I saved most of the poems in a binder, and I pull them out every few years to remind myself of those early days of writing.

Betty: I think I have a folder around somewhere that has some early writings in it but I haven’t had the nerve to pull it out in years. So, good for you! Looking back can be a scary business. What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Liz: That’s a good question. So much has changed over the years with social media entering the picture, etc. But, I think if I would have understood the benefit of creating a brand around my writing from the beginning, it could have opened a few more doors for me along the way.

Betty: Having a brand is supposed to help readers find you. So is having an established genre or field you write in so that readers know what to expect. What prompted you to switch from writing about the beauty industry to writing about food?

Liz: I wrote about beauty and food simultaneously for several years after I moved from Los Angeles to Mississippi. But, I started to feel pulled in too many directions. I enjoy both industries, but they are very different when working with public relations professionals, operators, magazines, etc. I realized that to focus my time and energy, I would need to choose one. Since I was the editor of a pizza magazine at the time and had established a lot of connections in the food and restaurant industry, I chose food.

Betty: I think I would have done the same, honestly. I love cooking and baking and tinkering with recipes. I’m curious. You’ve written two books to date, one nonfiction and one a children’s picture book. How is writing nonfiction different from writing a picture book? Do you prefer one over the other?

Liz: These two books were completely different in every possible way. I worked with a traditional publisher on the nonfiction book and self-published the children’s book. The nonfiction book went through many, many, many changes, edits, revisions, etc. There were also rounds of photo and recipe gathering, nondisclosure/permission contracts to sign from everyone included in the book, and generally a lot of fact checking throughout. With the children’s picture book, once I had the story written, it was mainly a back and forth with my sister about the illustrations, which she drew by hand. I enjoyed the feeling of control I had with the children’s book, since I was self-publishing, but it was also a lot of pressure to get everything right, all on my own.

Betty: What inspired you to write Pizza: A Slice of American History?

Liz: I used to be the editor-in-chief of PMQ Pizza Magazine, the nation’s No. 1 pizza trade publication (yes, there’s a magazine all about pizza). Working in the industry for several years, you get to know a lot about pizza, and you meet a lot of pizzeria operators. The pizza book kind of fell in my lap, as luck would have it. A pizzeria operator I knew had been approached by a publisher about writing a pizza book. He, in turn, suggested that they contact me. I had not considered writing a book, but was flattered, and, of course, did not turn down the opportunity.

Betty: When opportunity knocks, it’s best to answer! I’ve written nonfiction work-for-hire books years ago, some of my first nonfiction. But I always wanted to write adult fiction. You chose a children’s picture book as your next project. What inspired you to write The Peanut Butter Bandit?

Liz: The Peanut Butter Bandit was a story I had in my head for several years. My husband Benjy loves peanut butter. I was always finding spoons and forks in the sink with peanut butter on them. When I’d open the peanut butter, sometimes I’d find marks from a fork scraping the inside. I started calling Benjy the peanut butter bandit. Finally, I decided it would make a cute children’s book, with the kids wondering where the strange marks were coming from in the peanut butter. I teamed up with my sister Shannah Barrett for the illustrations and we released the book just before Christmas 2018. (Buy your copy here: https://amzn.to/3dhZtoy)

Betty: The Eat Like a Writer site combines food and writing topics. What is your goal for the site?

Liz: You always hear how you should write about what you love, right? So, I sat down and really thought about what I enjoy. I looked through my social media photos to see what I post about, looked through my book collection, etc. I started to see a theme. I enjoy food, writing, and how other people start/grow their careers. All I needed to do was blend those ideas together. I realized that writers don’t really get a chance to connect with readers (or other writers) in a personal way very often. Why not connect them through the universal language of food? Eat Like a Writer was born. My goal is to continue to showcase the world’s writers, giving them an outlet to connect with readers in a more personal way with travel stories, recipes, and exclusive recommendations.

Betty: What are you currently working on with your writing?

Liz: My mom calls me Bizzy Lizzy because I always seem to be working on something new. That’s the nature of this business. When the Coronavirus came to town, many journalists had to shift their focus. I lost a couple of my biggest clients. For a short while, I wrote about the pandemic and how restaurant operators were navigating the situation. Now, in addition to Eat Like a Writer, I’m contributing regularly to the National Culinary Review and two websites: the food-focused Mashed.com, and Stacker.com, which breaks down expert analysis.

Betty: What advice do you have for others who are debating whether to write a book?

Liz: I think that if you have a story in you that needs to be told, you should absolutely write a book. If, however, you are thinking of writing a book to make money or become famous, sleep on it. No matter how many gurus try to tell you otherwise, writing a book is not easy. I spent almost the same amount of time on my children’s book as I did my nonfiction book, neither of which made me rich or famous. They did, however, give me a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day. I was able to send the ideas and stories that were swirling around in my mind for months or years out into the world. Ask yourself why you want to write a book. Be honest with the answer. Think about why you enjoy reading, and what you expect to feel when you finish reading a book. The answers to those questions will set you on the right path.

Good advice indeed! Thanks so much, Liz, for swinging by to tell my readers more about your fun and interesting Eat Like a Writer site! I hope everyone will visit and see if it’s a site of interest to them as well.

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.

Getting to know M.L. Broome #author #steamy #contemporary #romance #fiction #books

Please help me welcome M.L. Broome to the interview hot seat! Let’s find out more about her and then get right to the interview and her intriguing book.

M.L. Broome is a bohemian spirit with a New York edge. She writes high-octane contemporary romance with a touch of angst and plenty of steamy goodness. Her characters are bitingly real, earning their happily-ever-after only after some emotional ass-kicking and personal growth.

When M.L. isn’t writing or holding one-sided arguments with her characters (spoiler alert—they always win), she loves losing herself in nature on her North Carolina farm, one of her rescue buddies by her side.

She adores dressing up and kicking back, a glass of whiskey with an equally stunning view, and experiences that make the soul—and senses—tingle.

For all the latest releases and exclusive goodies, subscribe to M.L. Broome’s newsletter today at https://www.mlbroome.com.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * BookBub

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

M.L.: I think it’s an extension of a lonely childhood. Seriously! I was an only child, and my parents were fairly hands-off, so I was left to my own devices. During those evenings, I created countless kingdoms and characters—something I still do today. For me, there’s nothing like falling into a world of my own creation. What a great escape, when the real world is often ugly and hard.

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

M.L.: There is so much that I’ve learned in the last fifteen months, and every day, I’m learning more about the industry. Here are my biggest pieces of advice:

  • ●       Write what you want to read. Yes, there are a ton of trends and you can write to market and have great success, but if you aren’t passionate about what you’re writing, the readers won’t be, either.
  • ●       Follow your gut. If something seems off, be it a person or company, it likely is. Do your research and never be afraid to part paths with someone who no longer has your best interests at heart.
  • ●       Learn self-promotion. I suck at it, but I’m learning it’s vital to stand out in a saturated market.

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

M.L.: True events. Alchemy Unfolding is a reverse age-gap, and I lived it. Now, the story is not an autobiography, but it gives an up-close view of dating a younger man in a society that is still only grudgingly accepting of the fact. I also wanted to write about a nice guy. I’ve read countless stories where the hero is a total jerk! I wanted a romance where the hero was such a decent human being, not perfect, but perfect book boyfriend material.

Addy has her life all planned out—until she walks in on her long-term boyfriend shagging his secretary. Life plans? Right out the window.

It doesn’t matter that she isn’t in love with Clint. They had goals and a non-refundable deposit on an upwardly mobile condo.

Now, she has a choice—forgive the adulterous liar—or not. She chooses not. Throwing caution to the wind, she accepts a nursing job in San Diego, thousands of miles from her life in Manhattan.

Addy’s on a new coast, and for the first time in her life, without a plan. Her only goal is to work and soak up the fun in southern California, which is precisely what she’s doing when she stumbles across Josh’s path.

Josh is that rarest of combinations—gorgeous, kind, and utterly besotted with Addy.

Only issue? He’s thirteen years younger, and that’s a chasm Addy isn’t sure she can cross.

Throw in a jealous friend hellbent on calling her Mrs. Robinson and the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, begging for a second chance, and Addy isn’t sure which end is up.

She has to choose—continue living her life according to the rules or toss out the rule book and create a new version of her life.

Excerpt:

Josh shrugs, grabbing his keys from the table. “You can go willingly, or I can turn you over my knee. Your choice.”

I’m obviously still drunk. And hearing things. “Are you threatening to spank me?”

Josh leans in, his lips centimeters from mine. “Not at all, Addy. It isn’t a threat. It’s a promise.”

My new friend just threatened to spank me, and I hate how tempting that idea sounds.

With a grumble, I plop into the chair, throwing on my sneakers. “I don’t really think I’m up for a spanking right now.” If he’s going to force me to trek with him up a mountain, I don’t want him to think I’m drooling over him. No matter how little he believes me.

As per usual, the man is one step ahead of me in our verbal spar. “Too bad. Maybe later, you’ll be in the mood.”

Buy link: Amazon

Love the banter between them, M.L.! Sounds like a fun read!

Thanks for sharing and happy reading!

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 

How does your garden (fence) grow? #Alabama #research #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

When I started researching to write the Fury Falls Inn series, my husband and I visited Burritt on the Mountain in Huntsville, Alabama. This historic site reconstructs what houses and farms looked like in the 1800s, including from the beginnings of the state in the 1820s. That is the time period of my series, so I paid particular attention to the buildings and structures.

Fence enclosing what could be a corral or garden

I was impressed by the height and sturdiness of the fences around different areas. They looked strong enough to climb over without any fear of them collapsing. I decided to use a similar fence in my series to surround Cassie’s garden. Here’s a snippet that describes her garden and the fence protecting it in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1):


The rows of vegetables and flowers provided one kind of escape. She could lose herself while working with the soil, encouraging life from the rich dirt. Tending to the flowers. Raking the ground into mounds to plant seeds and bulbs. Pouring water on the new plants poking their green leaves up toward the sun and sky. Dragging the weeds out, roots and all. Cleaning up the debris and minding the tall, wooden-slatted deer fence and gate to keep them strong. With the large herds roaming the mountains and valleys, she’d had to resort to drastic measures to prevent them from eating her harvest.

The tall rail fence surrounding the sixty-foot square of ground had proved itself in keeping the deer on the right side of the fence. She’d had one of the stable hands fit rails tight together at the bottom to deter smaller critters like rabbits and possums from eating on her young plants. Not that they frequently ventured so close to the busy inn with its passel of dogs, but it would only take once to destroy all her hard work and make Sheridan’s job much more difficult. The other reason she enjoyed working in the garden stemmed from the fact her ma didn’t much cotton to working in the dirt, so Cassie could escape her criticism for a time.


You’ll notice that I modified what the fictional structure looks like as opposed to what is in the pictures because I think that’s what I would have done were it my garden. (Not that I’m a gardener, but I have worked with plants.)

Cassie’s garden is very important to her sense of well-being, so it appears in every book in this series.

Book 2 is Under Lock and Key and releases tomorrow, October 6, 2020. Early reader reviews have been very positive, one fan stating “I couldn’t put it down.”

If you haven’t read The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, grab your copy now while it’s on sale for $1.99 at Amazon. And please get your copy of Under Lock and Key while you’re there. There’s more info about Book 2 below, too.

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…

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Kathleen Williams Renk #author #professor #fiction #nonfiction #historical

Please help me welcome historical fiction author Kathleen Williams Renk to the interview chair today! Let’s peek at her bio and then we’ll get right to the good part…

A retired professor who has published creative nonfiction, short stories, and scholarly books and articles, Kathleen Williams Renk taught British and Women’s literature for nearly three decades in the U.S. and abroad.  While teaching at Northern Illinois University, Williams Renk spent three summers in Oxford, U.K. teaching in the NIU@ Oriel College, Oxford study abroad program and five summers teaching in Dublin at Trinity College through the NIU Media and Culture in Ireland study abroad program.

She’s long been fascinated by the origins of feminist philosophy and its connections to the Enlightenment and the Romantics. Vindicated is her first novel. She is currently writing a historical fiction novel entitled “In an Artist’s Studio” about the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti and her sister-in-law, the painter and poet Lizzie Siddal. Dr. Renk studied fiction writing at the University of Iowa with the Pulitzer-Prize winning author James Alan MacPherson.  She’s published fiction in Literary Yard, CC & D Magazine, and nonfiction in Page and Spine, and Iowa City Magazine; she also self-published a memoir, Orphan Annie’s Sister, about her mother’s childhood in a Bohemian Orphanage in the 1930s.

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Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Kathleen: I’ve been a writer since I started graduate school in English at the University of Iowa in 1986.  During most of my academic career, I published scholarly articles and books.  I’ve only recently returned to writing fiction, which I did when I was in the Master’s program in English at Iowa.  Once I started and completed the doctoral program, I no longer had time to write fiction.

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

Kathleen: My first journal article appeared in 1994, so about eight years.   

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

Kathleen: I studied, wrote about, and taught British, Postcolonial, and Women’s literatures, so I’d say the most influential authors for me are A.S. Byatt, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, Jean Rhys, Pauline Melville, and Emma Donoghue.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

Kathleen: If you mean writing fiction, I decided to return to it once I was retired and no longer was required to write scholarly books and articles, although I am publishing a new scholarly book with Palgrave Macmillan in August 2020, entitled, Women Writing the Neo-Victorian Novel: Erotic “Victorians.”

Betty: What type of writing did you start with? 

Kathleen: In terms of creative writing, I began with fiction, but also wrote creative non-fiction.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Kathleen: I love writing historical fiction, because it allows me to still conduct research but then use the research to create a narrative and characters and to imagine “what if” stories.

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

Kathleen: I studied fiction writing at the University of Iowa with James Alan McPherson.  The most important writing activity though is to keep writing and reading.  You hone the craft by continual revision and never giving up on trying to publish.

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

Kathleen: I had no idea how much you discover in writing anything, whether it’s an argumentative essay or a piece of fiction.  That was and still is a pleasant surprise.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?  Most recently, I’ve been fascinated by Emma Donoghue’s work,  especially her The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, a collection of short stories based on real, sometimes historical women in Britain, Ireland, and Scotland from the Middle Ages until contemporary times.  It’s akin to a history of women and the challenges that they faced and the obstacles they overcame.  She says that the stories are based on “scraps of history” and I like that idea. 

Donoghue’s work has prompted me to write novels about little known women who had an impact on the arts or history.

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

Kathleen: Ever since I read William Godwin’s memoir of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, I’ve thought about the odd circumstances of her death in 1797 and how the physicians attempted to remove the retained placenta, which killed Wollstonecraft 11 days after she gave birth to Mary Shelley.  Initially, I wrote about Mary Wollstonecraft’s final days in her voice and in her husband’s but then developed a complete novel about Mary Shelley and the ways in which her feminist mother influenced her.

Mary Godwin is a teenager with a formidable pedigree.  Both of her parents are philosophers but it is Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother she never met, who haunts her waking and dreaming worlds.  Reading about her mother’s life and death inspires Mary to keep a journal.  Just as the tumult of her parents’ relationship comes alive in her imagination, she meets emerging poet Percy Shelley.  Even though he is married and his wife is pregnant, Shelley threatens to kill himself if Mary will not elope with him.  It’s possible that Shelley is mad, but their intellectual and creative affinities convince her that she is his Child of Light.

Passionate and intellectual, Mary struggles with the demands of her volatile husband and their circle of friends, including her stepsister Claire and George Gordon, Lord Byron.  But as she writes Frankenstein, she also muses about her encounters with her creature and the philosophical questions of life, death, and the creation that undergird her novel.  Justifying their unconventional life and enduring personal tragedies, Mary follows in her mother’s footsteps, as she contemplates a woman’s place in literature and the world.

Excerpt:

31 August 1797

I hear them murmur, “Bring in the pups to suckle. Perhaps that will loosen the afterbirth.” I want to shout “No!  Bring me my baby,” but my tongue is tied. I am hot and thirsty, but no one offers me water. “Please,” I beg them in my mind. And then nothing. I drift out of my body. I search for my daughter.

Even though we have prestigious surgeons in attendance, I begin to think that these surgeons are fools. One wears his powdered wig askew, looking like a pantaloon. I inquire what their objective is in healing my dear wife Mary, and all they say is that they need to remove the remainder of the afterbirth, which is stuck. They think that bringing pups to suck on my wife’s breasts may make her womb contract sufficiently to release the last bits of the placenta, and thus cure her of her fever and blood poisoning. I watch incredulously as they try to coax the pups to nurse on the human teat. If Mary were truly here in full force, if she were cognizant, she would be appalled and would be calling the surgeons out for their ludicrous plan. I feel such shock in seeing my brilliant wife so lethargic and ill that I suffer mental paralysis in regard to the correct course of action. I try to believe that the surgeons possess reason and logic and know precisely what they are doing. I must have faith in their abilities and knowledge. Surely they have seen other such cases and understand the remedy.

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I’ve studied Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, so this one sounds very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing about your inspiration and your story, Kathleen.

Happy reading!

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.

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Mapping Charleston for Fictional Characters #Charleston #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

I’ve been talking about the historic sites I’ve toured as research for the A More Perfect Union series. You can read about the Heyward-Washington House and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon if you missed those posts. Today I’m going to talk about the map I used to layout where my characters live in Charleston.

My son actually helped me enlarge the map of the historic district from a reference book. I taped it to a piece of poster board. Then I copied photos from the Historic Walking Tour guide book and taped those in the approximate location I wanted the various characters to live. I also included the inspiration photos of what the characters look like. So then I had the ability to know what streets they’d be walking or driving on and approximately how long it would take to go from one place to another.

My map of where my characters live and work and worship

You’ll also notice that I added the location of the beef market, newsletter office, St. Michael’s church, and the location of Captain Sullivan’s shop for my reference. All of this visual aid is for the express purpose of being able to accurately reflect the travel of my characters. This is the first of several maps/layouts I’ve made when writing a story/series. I’ve done floor plans, for instance, for the Fury Falls Inn so I have a good idea of where the rooms are and what they’re used for.

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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

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Getting to know Mark Turnbull #Author #Historical #Fiction #British #CivilWar #Historian

Please help me welcome to the interview hot seat a fellow Historical Novel Society author, Mark Turnbull! A quick peek at his bio and then we’ll dive right into the questions. Ready? Let’s go!

After a visit to Helmsley Castle at the age of 10, Mark Turnbull bought a pack of ‘top trump’ cards featuring the monarchs of England. The card portraying King Charles I fascinated him.

Van Dyck’s regal portrait of the King and the fact that he was executed by his own people were the beginnings of Mark’s passionate interest in the English Civil War that has lasted ever since.

In the absence of time travel, he thoroughly enjoys bringing this period to life through writing. He has written articles for magazines, newspapers and online educational sites. He has also re-enacted battles with The Sealed Knot and for several years edited the Historical Novel Society’s online newsletter.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Mark: I finally published my first book, a historical novel, in 2019. In 2020, I have been lucky enough to sign a contract with Sharpe Books for a series of novellas and have started writing the first. Between my novel and the contract for the novellas, I also completed a non-fiction book and am currently searching for a publisher for that one.

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

Mark: 33 years, but not continuously! I guess you could say that I started to write when I was around 7 years old and I still have a copy of some handwritten short tales that I penned about a children’s television show I used to watch. My plot and grammar left a lot to be desired, but that was my first stab at writing! What really gave me the desire to seriously attempt to become an author was my fascination with the War of the Three Kingdoms (more commonly known as British Civil War or English Civil War) which I discovered at the age of 10. I first started writing a novel set in this era ten years later and continued writing and editing, and then repeating this process. It was a long road and a steep learning curve, but I kept at it. I then began to exchange chapters with one of my friends who had also started working on a book and expanded my own scope by also writing articles about the civil war. The key, I found, was to keep on writing and reflecting. I started afresh with my novel and began rewriting it in 2009, after ten years of working on my writing skills, and between getting married and having two wonderful daughters, I continued as much as I could. In 2019, I decided to self-publish my finished novel and was extremely pleased and encouraged when it received two awards; The Coffee Pot Book Club Award and Chill With a Book Readers Award.

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

Mark: Many authors have influenced my writing style over the years, but the main one would have to be my good friend, Keith Crawford, who has written a historical fantasy, as well as a Roman novel. For over ten years we held a weekly book club and read each other’s chapters to develop our writing. In the early days, we would adapt a mutual approach towards certain aspects such as scene setting, and then looked at our dialogues, before finally sifting out the clutter; basically, anything that was not needed, or just didn’t further each of our books. We certainly scrutinised every inch of our manuscripts. By writing, editing, writing more, and then further extensive editing, we began to find our own paths and styles. He would read many varied authors in between, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Ken Follett, and mirror aspects of their style which he appreciated. One of the books that I read was Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost, and I enjoyed how scenes were vividly brought to life, as well as the way he injected humour into his story. I did limit the number of books I read so as not to skew the natural development of my own style and came out of the other end of these book clubs having realised just how personal writing style is – very much a journey of discovery! This prompted me to begin writing my book afresh and to make sure that my head and my heart was part of every chapter. If I couldn’t see it, feel it, and be part of it, then my style would be wooden. Something clicked for me in this rewrite; I felt as if my writing started to flow more naturally and my style came along with that.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Mark: The answer is quite simply discovering my passion for the 17th century, Wars of the Three Kingdoms, at the age of 10.  That very quickly instilled in me a desire to one day write about it!

I’d always had a love of history, but the British Civil War spark came when my parents took me to Helmsley Castle, North Yorkshire. Like most children, I couldn’t wait to explore the gift shop and bought a pack of cards that displayed images of the monarchs of England on one side, and some details about their lives and reigns on the other. I must admit that some of the earlier ones with their grey tombstone effigies were rather dull, but above all others, the card of King Charles I stood out. The image was Van Dyck’s Charles I at the Hunt and I was immediately struck by Charles himself, the artistry, clothing and colours. When I read about his reign and found out that he had been executed that really did spur me on to find out more. It was like a historical whodunnit and I was eager to discover how this had come about. The more I learned about the history, the more I wanted to be involved with it and write my own book.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Mark: I started by writing a novel. In essence, this developed over the time into Allegiance of Blood, which I published in 2019, 20 years later. The 17th century and the civil wars in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland form the topic for all my writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. It’s a very overlooked period of history, but one which was absolutely pivotal and includes momentous events and drama galore. It surprises me that there are only a few films set in the civil wars, and not more novels about it. Perhaps being neighbours in history to the popular Tudors is one reason.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Mark: I must admit to a preference for reading non-fiction but writing fiction. I enjoy learning from a good non-fiction, and then taking the facts and creating a world which I can visualise and become part of, as well as being able to get up close to the characters of the era and further appreciate what made them tick. It’s as close as I can get to time travel. It’s great to be able to recreate a bygone world that other people can also enjoy, and to keep the history and characters of the past alive in this way. I do like writing short stories, and during research for my books, whenever I come across an event which deserves to be further explored, I write a short story about it based on the historical facts. I’d one day like to publish all of these within one book to further allow study and enjoyment of the wars. Additionally, I have written a non-fiction which examines the opening of the civil wars in every region of England and Wales. Writing non-fiction was very different, but equally enjoyable.

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

Mark: Apart from the book clubs already mentioned, I have attended the Historical Novel Society’s conferences, where established authors discuss the various aspects of writing with delegates in mini working sessions. Hearing their views and tips was priceless. Many years ago, when I had only just started writing, a few of us set up our own postal book club, where we would mail each other chapters. This meant that our work would gain feedback from three very different readers before returning to us and this was all vital and very helpful with learning to write and gaining critique that was essential to my development.

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

Mark: What a great question! There’s so much I could put here, but I think the main thing would be knowing what I would need to do to be able to write and publish a book. It is daunting not knowing where to start, or where to go to next, so maybe a plan of approach would have helped guide me in the right direction. The other thing would be knowing that it would be ok in the end!

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

Mark: The first non-fiction civil war book I bought was Christopher Hibbert’s Cavaliers and Roundheads. It is a superb book, because the style is very informative, yet it also gives personal snippets and anecdotes, which helped me relate to the history and imagine it. For me, it’s these small, very personal facts, that often bring an entire battle, campaign or era to life and Cavaliers and Roundheads was a book I read many times. At the end, there are mini biographies of the main personalities which explained what happened to them in later life and this showed me just how much more there was to learn about the civil wars and beyond.

The first fiction I came across was at a church jumble sale. Margaret Irwin’s novel, Royal Flush, is the story of Minette, King Charles I’s youngest daughter. The whole style of the novel drew me quickly into that world and helped me begin to understand descriptive writing and storytelling as well as fuelling my growing interest in attempting a book of my own. Of course, it’s now an aged novel of a different style to those available today.

I’m also inspired by all of the other 17th century authors, and especially Andrea Zuvich (‘The Seventeenth Century Lady’) who brings the period to life through her weekly social media themed ‘Stuarts Saturdays’ which generate interest and discussion. Andrea’s latest book, Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain, has just had a fabulous review by Deborah Swift, an author who she had admired even when she was still dreaming of writing her own book. Inspiring, indeed!

Sir Francis Berkeley strives to protect his family from the English Civil War. Aside from the struggle between King and Parliament, the allegiances of family, friendship and honour prove just as deadly. Francis is drawn into a 17th century world of espionage and politics and fights in some of the war’s major sieges and battles. His bid to reunite his family opens up conflicts of a more personal nature. Can the Berkeley’s survive a parliamentarian onslaught as well as their own feud?

Excerpt:

She’d cried enough tears to fill the German Ocean and after her second attempt at crossing it, Henrietta Maria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, had finally made it home after a year’s absence. The anchor of her ship splashed into Bridlington Bay on the Yorkshire coast, despite bleak forecasts in both weather and horoscope. But never once was she put off by anything, especially when she had set her mind to it, and more so, when it meant being reunited with her husband.

With quick steps she danced across the deck of the Dutch flagship and ran to the rail to examine every inch of the English landscape. Beneath the scrubbed planking were arms, ammunition, money and men that she had brought all the way from Holland to aid her husband. One year of scrimping, saving and bartering, as well as anxiety and frustration during her war waged against Dutch officials and their government, who were not best pleased at her presence in their midst.

“May you scatter my enemies, Oh Lord, and be both my guide and safeguard.” She fired one of her renowned scowls westward, where in the expanse of ocean her Parliamentarian pursuers lurked.

“Your Majesty.” The Dutch Admiral Van Tromp gave a sigh of one ready and willing to hand a particularly petulant and demanding child back to its parents.

“My thanks for your good care of my person.” Henrietta usually spoke her mind, but in this, the hour of her victory, she put her true feelings aside.

Buy links: Amazon

Thanks so much for sharing your book with us today, Mark! It sounds like quite an interesting tale worth reading. Best of luck with it!

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.

Touring the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon #Charleston #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

Last week I talked about the Heyward-Washington House which I toured on my first visit to Charleston. Today I’d like to talk about the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon which I specifically returned to Charleston to tour because I had questions I couldn’t answer with online resources. It was a very good thing I insisted on going back, too!

Image of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (Library of Congress)

In Emily’s Vow, the first novel in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, I drafted a scene where she is taken prisoner by a loyalist major and kept in the Provost Dungeon. I’d looked at the virtual tour provided by the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon site, but I couldn’t determine how the prisoners were held in the dungeon. How did you get into the dungeon? What did the inside of the dungeon look like in the late 18th century? Were the prisoners shackled? Chained to the wall? Were there cells? How many prisoners would have been kept there? So many questions without answers!

Hubby and I made a quick overnight stop in Charleston on our way to Myrtle Beach so I could hopefully find answers to several questions related to Emily’s story. Our tour was led by a former history teacher and he really knew a lot about the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Thankfully, he knew about how the building had evolved over the couple of centuries of its existence, which answered all my questions, too.

You may be wondering what those questions may have been, so I’ll share three of them with you to give you an idea of what I learned and how it changed the story—from setting to action.

In the original draft (pre-publication), I had written, “Biting her tongue to keep from saying something she would regret, Emily endured the pushing and pulling into the Old Exchange, through the outer office, and down the dark stairs to the basement jail.” However, what I learned is that there wasn’t an outer office. You entered the dungeon through doors facing the street which were several steps down from the street. That’s not the case today because of the buildup of the road surface. So when you visit today, you actually go up the steps to the Exchange and then down some stairs at the back of the building that have been added for that purpose.

When you get downstairs into the dungeon, it’s pretty dark and cool. I had written in my scene that “She stumbled on the uneven wooden floor and the ropes around her wrists bit deeper. At least she had not fallen onto the hard surface.” First, the floor is actually brick and even, not uneven wood. The tour guide told me that only three women prisoners were ever held in the dungeon and then only for a couple of hours to “terrorize” them into revealing where there patriot husband/father/etc. was so they could imprison them instead. So I had to only keep Emily in the dungeon for a short period and then have her moved to a different place and detained in order to stick to the historical facts.

Finally, I had imagined there were cells, so had written, “Silently the man left, glancing over his shoulder before the heavy door closed behind him.” But the basement wasn’t divided at all. Instead it was one large room with posted guards. The prisoners were given straw to lay on and of course since it’s located near the harbor there were rats and mice and who knows what else sharing the dungeon with them.

Because of this learning experience, I try to visit the historical sites and tour them whenever possible. Especially when the site is a setting in one of my stories. Online resources can be limited in providing the evolution of the property so that I can depict it accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. See what you think in this short excerpt from Emily’s Vow:


Biting her tongue to refrain from speaking her mind, Emily endured the pushing and pulling down the steps into the Provost. Once used as the Harbor Master’s office and for storing the goods being shipped in and out of town, now only pirates and those who defied the king resided within the odoriferous walls. At one time the building had enjoyed the respect of the town. Now it reeked of the pungent odors of urine, spoilage, and decay. She gagged at the overpowering smells assailing her senses.

“Welcome to your home away from home.” John paused in the large communal prison.

Dim light leaked through the small windows situated near the ceiling. Several other prisoners stared at them from where they sat on the cold red brick floor or lay on beds made from piles of straw, but kept their distance. The scrabble of claws in the deeper regions of the space skittered chills down her back. John peered at her for a moment, a slow smile creasing his face. His leer frightened her and she shivered.

She stumbled when the soldier pushed her forward, the ropes biting deeper. He tugged at the knot and the rope slipped off her wrists. She rubbed the red skin on each wrist to ease the pain.

“You are dismissed,” John said to the soldier, keeping his gaze on Emily. Green eyes cold as a dead fish appraised her while he waited for the other man to heed his order.

Silently the man left, glancing over his shoulder before walking away.

Emily swallowed but maintained eye contact with John. He had a heart once, a deep compassion for animals and people. But, he had hurt her in the market, likely because of the sudden embarrassment when Tommy pulled his wig askew. She raised her chin, portraying a confidence she barely felt.

“First, I must search you for any contraband you might be hiding.” His eyes glittered in the dim light. He pushed his sleeves up as he walked toward her. “This won’t hurt. You may even enjoy it. Like old times.”


And in fact, in the new edition of Emily’s Vow that will publish next month, I’ve added a couple of new scenes at the second “prison” where she’s held against her will. I’ll talk more about Emily’s Vow next week. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Elizabeth’s Hope, now is your chance to begin the series. More about Elizabeth’s Hope is below.

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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

Books2Read      Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple  

Getting to know Megan Kelly #author #contemporary #western #romance #amreading #fiction #books

Today I’d like to introduce you all to another fellow RWA member. Megan Kelly has been writing long enough to feel comfortable as an author. But let’s let her tell you more. Here’s her official bio and then we’ll dip into the questions.

Megan Kelly writes heart-warming contemporary romance set in small towns. After selling four books to Harlequin, she ventured into self-publishing. Her “Love in Little Tree” series celebrates Montana cowboys, while her other romances are set in fictional Midwest towns. Quirky secondary characters often steal the spotlight, but romance is always center stage. Fortunately, she has a very supportive husband and two kids who don’t remember a time when Mom didn’t write. She lives in the St. Louis area, where the weather has an imagination (and sense of humor) of its own.

You can sign up for her Readers’ Group newsletter on her website page at megankellybooks.com.

Website * Facebook

 Betty: When did you become a writer?

Megan: Every day when I sit down to write I’m a different, hopefully evolving writer. I’ve been a storyteller since childhood. My Barbie and GI Joe had many romance adventures dreamed up in my eight-year-old mind. LOL But I first *felt* like a writer when I finished a full manuscript—and it was something I’d want to read.

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

Megan: I learned so much from being a member of Romance Writers of America. I had submitted several manuscripts and entered many contests as well as attending workshops and joining a critique group. It took thirteen years between taking my writing seriously (a key step) to getting THE CALL that Harlequin wanted to publish my book. RWA allowed me access to business as well as craft workshops, so when THE CALL came, I was ready!

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

Megan: I loved the emotional, sweeping historicals of Laura Kinsale and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Carole Mortimer, Betty Neels, Kathleen Korbel, and Nora Roberts introduced me to contemporaries. I love the humor of Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Kristan Higgins.

Everything I read influences my writing, whether it inspires me to entertain like the authors mentioned, or it serves as a cautionary tale when I read something not well written or a story not well told.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Megan: I had read a lot of “old” books from the 1980s where the hero was a pig and the heroine a doormat. This didn’t mesh with how I viewed romance. At the end of the book, the hero almost always said, “I’ve loved you since I met you,” and I would go back to look for any hint of that in his words or actions. I knew I could write a better ending (where he’d grovel a lot). Then I decided I could write a better book (where he wouldn’t need to and where she wouldn’t have put up with that).

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Megan: I have old notebooks with opening scenes of contemporary romances that never went anywhere. I recently found lots of (very bad) rhyming poetry. I’ve always been drawn to mystery and romance, so I started writing contemporary romance for the reasons noted above.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Megan: I used to primarily read historical romances because I found the eras and events fascinating. Very much an alien world I wouldn’t want to have lived in (no a/c, no electricity, no microwaves—pretty much in that order). However even then, I wanted to write contemporary romance because it’s harder to navigate a relationship with ever evolving societal rules. *In general,* male and female roles were clearly stated in the past. During the 1960s, women stepped out from behind men, changing both gender’s roles. Note: my books focus on the male/female relationship, but I acknowledge there are diverse romance possibilities.

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

Megan: I truly feel I learned first by reading. The “old” books mentioned above were quality writing and publishing. When I learned of the local RWA chapter in St. Louis, I absorbed every workshop program they held. I attended other chapters’ conferences and their workshops as well as RWA National’s conference. I forced my way through Dwight Swain’s “Techniques of the Selling Writer,” which is great but heavy with knowledge. Most importantly to my writing, for many years, I would re-read Debra Dixon’s “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict” before I started a new manuscript.

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

Megan: I wish I’d known how much of my essence was being a writer. That I hadn’t doubted I could do it and held myself back. While I still have that pesky internal editor making me doubt every word I write, I no longer doubt that I’m supposed to be a writer.

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

Megan: I love Kathleen Korbel’s romances. She is also known to us as Eileen Dreyer, writer of suspense and historical romance. If you haven’t read “A Rose for Maggie,” rush to your bookseller and buy it. I started reading romances as a teenager, and her hero, Joe, is still my favorite. Then the writers I’ve mentioned by name, plus any writer who sweeps me away.

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

Megan: I was sitting in a writing workshop, mind wandering. Two sisters popped into my head. One a bride, one her twin who had feelings for the sister’s fiancée. The bride tricks her sister into the wedding dress and then rushes out of the church. Then the workshop ended. So I had to write the story to find out what happened.

LEFT IN THE LURCH…
Rancher Jack Walker eagerly anticipates marrying the quiet, lovely artist who has agreed to be his wife and stepmother to his six-year-old daughter. Their union will mirror the peace and security of his previous marriage.

AT THE CHURCH
Veterinarian Lexi Marshall is tricked into her twin sister’s wedding dress minutes before the bride disappears out the back door. Now Lexi must tell Jack there is no wedding. But instead of “guess what?” she says, “I do?”

ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED
Covering for her sister by marrying Jack is a big mistake. But even Lexi’s confession can’t untangle the mess after she learns he could lose his ranch if they divorce.

Legal problems aside, how will they handle the attraction simmering between them? 

Excerpt:

Lexi stared at the beautiful wedding dress her twin sister held toward her. Lovely satin shimmered and beckoned, and pearls gleamed in the light of the church’s dressing room. Their mother’s veil lay on top, luring her closer with its lace and pearls.

“Go ahead,” Grace said. “Try it on.”

Lexi shook her head in denial of the gown’s promises. “I know what I’d look like. I’ve seen you in it.”

“It’s not just how it looks. A wedding dress feels different than any ordinary gown you’ve ever worn.” Grace arched a brow. “Although no one would say you wear many dresses, let alone gowns.”

A grin crossed Lexi’s face. Grace traveled the world painting, gaining renown for her outdoor scenes and use of color and texture. Lexi’s work as a vet kept her happy with her life in eastern Montana. As the crow flew, Little Tree lay three hours northeast of Billings, but it felt like a world away from everywhere.

“There’s no time,” Lexi protested.

Grace grabbed her purse and pulled out the watch Jack had given her for an engagement present. He’d hoped to curb Grace’s lack of regard for schedules. She glanced at it, sobered for a moment, then turned to Lexi. “There’s just enough time. Besides, if we run late, they’ll wait for the bride, right? Come on, sis, share this moment with me.”

Buy link:  Amazon

I love how the inspiration for this story came while in a workshop, Megan! Workshops can prompt a lot of good ideas and this one sounds like a great premise for your story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

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