Getting to know Clive Hagon #author #historical #fiction

My guest today comes to us from across the pond, as they say. Please welcome Clive Hagon, an author of historical fiction that taps into Greek myths and legends. First, I’ve asked Clive to tell us a bit about himself, then we’ll move into the interview. Take it away, Clive!

The casual observer would be forgiven for believing that my life has been devoted to gambling, womanizing, and dining well. This is only partially true, for my vocational passion has been to unravel the meaning of classical Greek literature.

I cannot claim formal structure to my studies but, since witnessing Peter Hall’s production of The Oresteia on the London stage in 1981, I have been intrigued by the significance of the play, and all the components of the Epic Greek Cycle. My lifestyle has provided me with the opportunity to devote significant time and energy to the unraveling of these mysteries, and the time now is right for me to begin to create my contribution. I am currently working on an historical fiction concerning the early life of Agamemnon.

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Clive: I have always expressed my creativity in writing, poetry mainly, as well as short stories. Until now none have been submitted for publication as they were written for my own pleasure or, in the case of the poetry, women.

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

Clive: Charles Dickens (anything). Franz Kafka (everything). Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Clive: Writing is, for me, a satisfying medium for telling stories. I enjoy being the storyteller.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Clive: My favorite writing activity comes when I write poetry to a woman with whom I have fallen in love. The reason, I think, is self-evident.

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

Clive: Mr. Dunn, (name changed) a schoolmaster, (many, many years ago) insisted that a gentleman should learn how to express himself clearly and concisely in both spoken and written forms. Full of post-world war II vigor, he was prepared to thrash these virtues into all the young gentlemen that came unto his educational care, especially those who emerged from the vast social housing estates that had sprung up, new to the district. I learned at an early age that the pen was less painful than the cane.

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

Clive: In relation to Pelops. The Making of the King, nothing. The journey from where I was before I began writing Pelops, to where I am now, has taken me to information, myth, legend, and learning that I had previously never imagined. In research for the novella, I have gained a startling insight into the nature of the origin of civilization in the western, modern, world. I would not change a thing.

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

Clive: Oliver Postgate. He told stories on television back when I was a child. Ivor the Engine, and Noggin the Nog, were those that I fondly remember. I enjoyed in my childhood mind the rhythm of the sounds, and the images that the sounds created. I strive now to create rhythm with the written word, and to create images in the readers mind.

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

Clive: The background research for the Agamemnon project led me to the task of deconstructing the legend of Pelops. In so doing, I realized that what I had before me were the threads of a tale which could be woven into an engaging fiction. A logical step in the process of understanding the deconstructed remnants of myth and legend provided me with a wonderful story.

A fictional narrative based on the legendary ascension of Pelops to the throne of Pisa.

He awoke, refreshed and calm, to the aroma of warm bread and goats’ milk, and the sound of the horses who had returned to the yard. The old man had gathered the breakfast, and the two men sat in silence as they ate. Without a word, Pelops then hitched the horses to the chariot and led them to the entrance. He turned back to look at the old man, who sat at the table, quiet and still, as Pelops had first seen him.

Pelops spoke. “You are the only friend I have in this world. I will miss your company.”

The old man thought long. “You are my only friend too.” he eventually replied. “I know not what the future holds, neither for you, nor for myself, but I do know that we have both benefited from our friendship. If in the future, you need a quiet place to rest, you will find a home here.”

“Thank you” said Pelops, and bowed his head, overcome with an irrational concern, that the blind man would see his tears.

Please note. Due to the COVID-19 lock down currently in force in Europe, the launch of Pelops. The Making of the King has been temporarily postponed. If you would like to receive information concerning the revised launch date, please email bronzehouse@aol.com with the subject title ‘Pelops. The Making of the King’ and I will inform you of the date as soon as it is known to me. Thank you. Clive Hagon.

Take care of yourself and your family, Clive. I can only try to imagine the depth of research you must have done in order to write the story of Pelops. I’m sure your book is worth waiting for!

My heart goes out to everyone during this global health crisis. Stay safe, stay home if you can, and wash your hands… I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the first responders and healthcare workers on the front lines fighting this pandemic. Your efforts and dedication are vastly appreciated!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Free Reads and the Story behind the title Notes of Love and War #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #free #books #novel #kindle

Before I get into how I decided on the title for my July 28 release, I’d like to share a few free reads for all of you staying at home as a result of the global pandemic of COVID-19 and looking for ways to fill your free time. I understand how the sudden change could be both unnerving and boring for those people who don’t spend much time at home. It’s my small way of helping out during this crisis.

First, you can download a free ebook of Undying Love here. This book is the first book in the Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series, featuring ghosts and witches. Undying Love was the first romance I sold to a small press in 2014 under the title of Traces, by the way. They published the book in ebook only but after two years the rights reverted back to me and I chose to indie publish it with its new title, along with the second book in the series, Haunted Melody (formerly Remnants). I like the new titles much better, don’t you? There are five books total in this series; the others are The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds.

Second, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited at Amazon, you can read my historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, as part of your subscription. This series is set in Charleston, SC, during/after the American Revolution while the city was besieged by the British. If you don’t currently subscribe, I’m told that Amazon is offering a 2-month free trial subscription right now. Just be sure if you don’t want to be charged to cancel the subscription before the end of the trial period. There are four novels and one novella in this series. The novels are Emily’s Vow, Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise, with a prequel novella of Elizabeth’s Hope (not in KU).

Now I’d like to share with you the reason for the title of Notes of Love and War. Last week I talked about my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington, and how the title reflects the story. Notes will release July 28, two days after my father’s 100th birthday, if he were still alive. I chose that Tuesday because the primary inspiration for the story came after reading my dad’s correspondence with my mom during/after World War II. So the “notes” in the title is a nod to the letters they wrote to each other in their courtship phase, the “love” part of the title.

The main female character in the story is Audrey Harper, a journalist who has a degree in music appreciation and journalism, and who ultimately becomes a music critic for a fictional newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during WWII. So I’ve included a good bit about the music industry and community and venues in the story, another use of “notes.” Naturally, I also included the titles of some songs popular during the war, like the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.

Audrey meets Major Charles Powers at a Christmas party during the war. They become pen pals and exchange friendly letters for several years before they realize they belong together. So there are the “notes of love” referenced in the title.

Actually, letters, telegrams, and V-mail are letters exchanged throughout the book to reflect the forms of correspondence used in the 1940s during the war. Perusing the contents of hundreds of letters and V-mail plus the greeting cards and postcards in my dad’s collection gave me a solid foundation to use to write fictional letters, etc., in my story. Reading them also taught me about my parents as people before they became parents. The kinds of concerns and opinions they shared. It really was very interesting reading!

So Notes of Love and War seemed a fitting title for a novel about a music critic during WWII who discovers spies in her city all while falling in love via letters with a soldier. The cover artist pulled together those elements in the cover design, too. You’ll see a music score, a spy glass, a bomber plane, and letters reflected in the image below.

It’s hard to be patient for my summer releases, but I chose the dates to coincide with important dates relevant to each title. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take me up on my offer of a free read of some of my other stories. Enjoy! Stay safe, stay home if you can, and we’ll get through this. 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.

Available for preorders now! Releases July 28, 2020…

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Jen FitzGerald #author #fiction #contemporary #romance #M/M

My guest author today is one I wish I had met in person by now. I have known Jen FitzGerald through online forums for a few years now, and I’m happy to introduce her and her writing to all of you. Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll get to the interview.

Jen FitzGerald has loved romance since her Winnie-the-Pooh days. Christopher Robin and Winnie-the-Pooh have always been platonic soulmates. As a teen, Jen cut her romance teeth on Silhouette’s teen romance line and Danielle Steele books concurrently. She’s still an avid reader, but these days, Jen has added writing romances of her own to her list of fun things to do.

Jen lives in Fort Worth, Texas, with her husband and dog. Their three children are now adults and out terrorizing the world at large instead of them. When not working her day job, Jen spends a lot of time reading, writing, watching hockey, and perusing her social media platforms of preference. She also enjoys music, cross stitching, and chatting online with writer friends.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jen: I’ve been writing for over a decade. Started off writing (JAG) fan fiction many, many moons ago.

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

Jen: I’ve only been (self) published since Thanksgiving of 2017, so over ten years. But in that time, I wrote a ton of fan fiction and churned out four or five books.

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

Jen: I read so much and so fast that titles and author names don’t stick in my head for very long. Characters resonate with me for sure and so the fan fiction I read inspires and awes me on a daily basis. I re-read favorites a lot, hoping that my work will improve by sheer osmosis.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Jen: The notion that I could do better than what I was reading. Little did I know how hard it really was.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jen: Romantic MF fan fiction.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Jen: I struggled with this question a bit. It’s a bit wide open and Betty suggested I have fun with it, but I really couldn’t come up with anything to make y’all laugh. So the real answer is that I fell in love with reading Male/Male romance about 2013/2014 and eventually tried my hand at it. I’ve been firmly entrenched in the genre ever since. As for why…well, the whole fantasy of two sexy men expressing their love for one another aside, there are a lot of different issues facing people who fall under the queer umbrella. That added a bit of a challenge to my writing.

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

Jen: Mostly books and programs through my local writers group. Conferences when I could afford them. And reading–lots and lots of reading.

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

Jen: I don’t think there’s really anything. It took me such a long time to publish, and publishing had changed so much from the time I first started attending writers group meetings. I had a grasp on everything in as much as one can before making the decision to self-publish over trying to get into traditional publishing. The rigors and the deadlines scared the pants off me for a long time, although I definitely do better with outside deadlines now-a-days.

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

Jen: As I mentioned, I started off writing fan fiction and I still read a ton of it, so my writing is heavily influenced by it.

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

Jen: A group of friends and I were sitting around after our writers group meeting one afternoon, and someone said, “What if we all…?” The idea resonated with me and percolated, and the next month, after writers group meeting, I asked if anyone wanted to pursue the idea. Everyone was onboard so we hashed out the idea and I dove right in to writing. The original group idea fell apart, but I had a book and a town and a plan, so off I went. There are now six books in the series, and I’m hoping for at least one more.

Amputee Scott Hudson returns home to Ten Rigs and takes over the local animal shelter. For six months Ben Thompson has watched Scott work wonders with the kennel and the dogs, admiring his focus and dedication. Can Scott overcome his injury and all that it entails, physically and emotionally, to find love with Ben?

Scott walks in a circle as he works to catch his breath and Ben follows him with his gaze. The man is fit, that’s for damn sure. Six months of minor construction work and building maintenance as well as kennel cleaning and dog wrangling have kept him in shape. Ben knows for a fact that he works out too. Just then, Scott lifts the bottom of his tee shirt and wipes his face with it. Ben’s eyes are drawn to the barely outie belly button and the smattering of dark hair that surrounds it and trails southwa—

“Thompson, you really need to keep your man crush off the court,” says Dooley.

Ben wrenches his eyes away from Scott’s abdomen to catch Dooley’s smarmy smirk before snapping his gaze to Scott’s. He feels the weight of five pair of eyes, but doesn’t care. He only has eyes for Scott, who, at the moment, only has eyes for him. Everyone else fades into the background. Scott’s eyes have gone wide and the color on his face has deepened although probably only Ben realizes the man has just blushed. Ben holds his gaze for what seems like minutes and then finally shrugs. His feelings haven’t really been a secret, although he’d have much rather revealed them to Scott in a less public forum. But the knowledge is out now and there’s no taking it back. Ben doesn’t want it back, truth be told. He’s tired of waiting for the right moment that never seems to come.

** The book is free and, as a side note, all the nookie happens in the epilogue if that’s not your cup of tea.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Apple * Google

Thanks for sharing a bit about your path to publication, Jen! There are definitely many roads that writers can follow to achieve the dream of publication.

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Let’s talk about the story behind the title Becoming Lady Washington #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Writing a book takes a long time and a lot of thought. The title that is attached to the story should also be well considered and reflect some aspect of what the reader should expect from the book. I had a working title for my June release of Martha Washington’s story: The Life of Lady Washington. But I wasn’t happy with that one. It didn’t say enough about what one can expect.

When a child is born its future is unwritten and unknown. Parents have their hopes and dreams for their child, but we never can know what the future holds. Even for ourselves, as individuals, we make decisions and choices and handle situations with an eye toward where we want to end up, but unforeseen opportunities or roadblocks or what have you can change everything. All we can do is try to educate ourselves toward the future we hope we’ll have and then be ready to adjust as needed.

My one-sentence description of Becoming Lady Washington is “How a simple girl from a middling plantation ends up America’s very first First Lady.” I’m fairly certain that when John and Frances Dandridge welcomed Martha into the world they expected her life would mirror her mother’s to some degree. But that wasn’t to be the case. Not entirely, anyway. My goal in writing Martha Washington’s story was to show how she unknowingly prepared to be a general’s and then a president’s wife.

Obviously, she couldn’t know where her path in life would take her. Certainly, she assumed she’d be a wife and mother, most likely on a plantation in Virginia. So her lessons as a child and young woman would have focused on domestic skills: sewing, mending, fancy stitching, cooking and baking, gardening, candle making, caring for her younger siblings, making simples (medicines) to treat illnesses, and a myriad of other tasks.

These fundamental home management skills her mother taught her as a girl. As she grew into womanhood, the lessons she learned and the situations she faced during her first marriage to Daniel Custis added to her tool set. Then she faced the unexpected adjustment to widowhood and managing the enormous estate left to her and her children. Followed by how she had to change from staying home on the plantation in Virginia—she never traveled out of the state until years after she married George Washington—to having to decide what to pack to provide for herself and family on long trips to other states.

All throughout her long life, Martha Washington kept her sense of humor, sense of duty and honor, and her caring ways for her family and friends. All of these tools in her toolbox helped to guide her decisions and actions through the American Revolution and her husband’s presidency. She was his bulwark and true love. She really was the woman behind her man.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

I hope you enjoy reading it and learning more about our first First Lady. Thanks!

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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 Sara LaFontain #author #contemporary #fiction #romance #books

Did you know that many authors start out in a different profession? I’ve met so many who were professors, medical personnel, and, like today’s guest, lawyers. But let’s let Sara LaFontain tell us about her background and what inspired her to become an author.

Sara LaFontain writes Women’s Fiction love stories, featuring unreliable narrators, flawed characters, and people finally finding happiness.

Prior to becoming a writer, Sara held a variety of jobs including wildlife tour guide, purveyor of fine chocolates, cafeteria worker, English teacher, domestic violence victim advocate, and family law attorney. She holds a BA in International Studies from Bowling Green State University, and both an MA in Latin American Studies and a JD from the University of Arizona. All of this means that she is overeducated and has spent far too much money on textbooks.

Sara lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband and two children. When she isn’t writing, she’s rock-climbing, knitting, gardening, and bragging about desert winters.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Sara: I like to think I’ve always been a writer. When I was a child, I wrote terrible poetry and cliché stories involving elves and dragons. As an adult, I found myself limited to non-fiction, such as grad school papers and legal briefs. There was still a fiction writer inside of me though, one that started but never completed several books.

That changed in 2016, when I decided to take a break from my legal career and actually finish a novel. It took me nearly two years, but I published That Last Summer in August 2018, finally making the transition from writer-in-my-mind to writer-in-reality.

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

Sara: Writing skills are a lifelong development. I’ve always written, just not necessarily anything worth showing to others outside of academia or the courtroom. Most of my creative writing endeavors remain out of sight out of mind.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Sara: A few years ago, I was getting burnt out trying to balance my career with parenting two young children. I reached the point that I knew I needed to take a step back from something, so I wanted to close my law practice. But I was hesitant to stop working entirely, because I didn’t know how to fill my time while the kids were in pre-school and kindergarten. I just remember my husband looking at me like I was an idiot and saying “You’ve always wanted to be a writer.

Why don’t you just…write?” That was my lightbulb moment. I finally had the time and support to pursue my dream. I promised myself I’d give it until my youngest was in first grade, and then I’d re-think things. She’s in first grade now, and I’m working on my next series, and absolutely loving my new career. I’d say it was the right choice (write choice? Haha, check out my books for more of my amazing wit).

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Sara: I actually started a non-fiction book, back when I was practicing law. I worked as a legal coach, guiding family law clients in self-representation. I wanted to write a book about how to find a lawyer to represent you. But honestly, it was boring, and I lost interest. And if even the writer doesn’t want to read it, that doesn’t bode well for readers.

Then I decided to write the kind of book I like. I want to read fun stories where people overcome bad situations and find happiness. I want smart protagonists, a little bit of drama, and ultimately, a happy ending. So that’s what I do now.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Sara: My favorite parts of writing are dialogue. I like writing witty conversations, the kind of things that people wish they could say in real life, but don’t come up with until too late. I’m also a big fan of writing group scenes, interactions between multiple people, with different personalities playing off of each other.

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

Sara: I learned through reading. I’ve always been a bookworm. Reading good books taught me what to do, and reading terrible books taught me what not to do.

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

Sara: I wish I had known more about the amazing writing communities out there. I started my first novel during NaNoWriMo, and read through the forums, but never participated or interacted with other authors. It wasn’t until after I published my first book that I discovered the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association, a group that I have learned so much from and am so thankful for. Anyone reading this and thinking about embarking on a writing career, please go out and find your people. There is so much support available, if you look for it.

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

Sara: My books are standalone novels in a series. This particular book takes a character, Matteo, who appears as a background character in the first book. He’s a good guy, a bit lonely, and he battles an anxiety disorder that effects his ability to connect with others. I like him, he’s complex and interesting, and I didn’t want him to stay lonely forever. So I wrote No Longer Yours, and found him someone special, someone equally wounded, and let them bring out the best in each other.

Cherry Waites led an idyllic life, until she found out about her husband’s year-long affair. Broken-hearted, she flees to remote Whispering Pines Island, where her only friend is a Corgi. Well, there’s the Corgi’s owner too, but he’s awfully cute. No, not cute! Rude. He’s awfully rude. And annoying. And somehow, always there when she needs him.

Cherry Waites has just arrived on Whispering Pines Island, where she’s starting her life over again. Unfortunately, the first person she meets is Matteo, and they do not get off on the right foot.

Excerpt:

She took a step backward for a better view, but something yelped under her foot, and she almost lost her balance.

“Christ, lady, watch where you’re going!”

“I’m so sorry!” She had nearly stepped on a small corgi. Its owner knelt down, to smooth its fur and glare at her. He looked out of place here, with his shaggy sun-kissed blond hair and his Hawaiian shirt and cargo shorts. Vacationer from California maybe?

“Be more careful,” he snapped. “Lucky for you Tristan moved out of your way.”

“It’s okay, he’s probably just having a bad day. It has nothing to do with you,” she told herself, then realized she had spoken out loud.

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, I’m not mentally ill. I promise. I’ve just driven two days to get here and had nobody to talk to so I guess I’ve developed the habit of talking to myself. Don’t worry, I’m not some crazy person wandering the streets.” She laughed to show that she was joking, and expected him to smile back. After all, small towns were friendly, and she hadn’t actually hurt his dog. She reached out to pet the corgi, but the man scooped him up in his arms before she could.

“Well I’m glad to know you aren’t mentally ill. Wouldn’t want anyone like that walking around, would we?” He stormed off, and she watched him go, chagrined. She hoped her first encounter wasn’t a portent of what was to come.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks for sharing your insights into your writing process, Sara, and the sneak peek at your story. Your main characters will have their work cut out for them to find a path forward to being a couple, which should make for interesting reading, too.

Happy reading, everyone!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha Washington’s Cookbook #Receipts #Recipes #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

One of the most treasured gifts Martha Washington received after her first marriage (to Daniel Custis) was her mother-in-law’s cookbook. (You can see pictures of the original book at that link.) Now, Martha never knew her mother-in-law, Frances Custis, because the poor woman had died years before. However, this book contained a collection of recipes for everything a wife and house mistress would need to make. From simple medicines (aka simples) to breakfast cakes and side dishes and meats to desserts (aka sweet meats).

I think of this compilation as one woman’s private collection of tried and trusted recipes. I know that when I married my husband, whenever I talked with his mother about cooking or indeed shared a delicious meal, we inevitably exchanged recipes. Or tips and tricks for cooking and baking and preparing a tasty meal. In particular the ones my husband liked the most. For my own mother’s part, she’d been teaching me how to cook from the time I was old enough to handle a mixing bowl. I’m glad I paid attention while she was alive as she died a couple years after I married my hubby. Having all those years to observe and ask questions makes a huge difference in being able to interpret and adjust recipes. It’s how we learn and grow when we’re starting out. Or at least, that’s how I did!

I recently found myself thinking how some of my most cherished memories are related to experiences with food and beverages. My dad was a certified bartender (I still have his certificate!) and created his own recipe for a “Solomon Manhattan” which I have in my recipe box in his handwriting. Additionally I cherish the handwritten recipes passed down to me by my grandmother, great aunt, mother and my mother-in-law. I’ve prepared them many times and some I’ve revised to suit our evolving tastes. When my son and daughter went on the French-American Back-to-Back exchange program in middle school, we prepared a booklet of our family’s favorite recipes to send to their host families in France. So some of our go-to recipes have been shared in France as well.

Cover of Martha Washington's Book of Cookery with portrait of George Washington eating a cherry.

When I saw that it had been transcribed and annotated I quickly ordered my own copy. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats is on its way to my home where I intend to try many of the recipes. I’m always on the lookout for simple, straightforward recipes with healthy ingredients. Not that I expect every recipe in the book will be healthy, but I will tinker with the ingredients and processes to make them so. I’ve tried out many 18th-century recipes in years past and have blogged about them, so I imagine I’ll continue that tradition once the new cookbook arrives. I’m also looking forward to learning more about what the cooking methods were then and how they’ve evolved into today’s technology and techniques since the editor kindly annotated the cookbook.

You may be wondering why this topic is so important to me. Is it because I enjoy cooking? Sort of. Is it because I love research? Yes. But more importantly, when I wrote both my A More Perfect Union historical romances and Becoming Lady Washington, both set in the 18th century, I endeavored to depict the cooking methods as they existed then. To do that, I had to delve into the way foods were cooked using which devices and methods.

I also made sure to include only foods I could verify were available in that time period and location(s). Availability was impacted by growing season, climate, and inflation during the American Revolution. Some foods I had assumed would be eaten didn’t even exist in America until centuries later (such as zucchini), so it was a good thing I did my research!

Outside of telling a meaningful and entertaining story, I strive to make my stories authentic and accurate to the historical reality. I may not be perfect with that regard; in fact I imagine I probably missed correcting some words that weren’t actually used during the time period of my stories. But I have done my utmost to tell a good, authentic, accurate story.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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 Elsa Winckler #author #fiction #contemporary #romance

Learning from those who do what you would like to be able to do is a great way to absorb the nuances and expectations of others in that line of work or athletic endeavor. My guest author today has done just that! Meet Elsa Winckler! First a look at her bio and then we’ll find out who inspired her and what attracts her to writing romance.

Elsa has been reading love stories for as long as she can remember and when she ‘met’ the classic authors like Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Henry James, The Brontë sisters, etc., during her Honours studies, she was hooked for life.

She married her college boyfriend and soul mate and after 45 years, 3 interesting and wonderful children and 4 beautiful grandchildren they are fortunate to live in the picturesque little seaside village of Betty’s Bay, South Africa

She likes the heroines in her stories to be beautiful, feisty, independent and headstrong.  And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity. They are, of course, also gorgeous!  Her stories typically incorporate the family background of the characters to better understand where they come from and who they are when we meet them in the story.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Elsa: In 2008 when I entered an Afrikaans writing competition. I was fortunate enough to win it and the prize was the publication of the story. I was hooked.

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

Elsa: I actually jumped right in without any thought to writing skills! I’ve been reading love stories since my teens, so it somehow came naturally to me, but since then, I’ve learnt so much and I’m still learning every day.

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

Elsa: I’ve probably read every single Mills & Boon during the 1980s and 1990s, so I knew what I liked as a reader and that’s what I try to do – write the kind of stories I would like to read.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Elsa: The writing competition.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Elsa: Romance. I also write Inspirational romance and have one children’s book published (in Afrikaans).

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Elsa: Romance. I love happy endings. I’ve been married to the same stubborn, at times infuriating but always loving husband for 45 years, so it makes it easy to believe that true love really exists J.

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

Elsa: I learnt about writing by reading literally thousands of books in every genre but mostly romance. Reading, I think, is still the best way to learn what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been to conferences and learn daily from fellow romance authors. The one book I can recommend, is Stephen King’s On writing. Everything you need to know about writing, is in there.

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

Elsa: How to handle a rejection! I’m still not very good with that J.

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

Elsa: Every single Mills & Boon author! I also love Nora Roberts, Jane Ann Krentz and Sandra Brown, Sarah Balance, Lilliana Hart, Jane Porter, Lauren Blakely to mention a few.

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

Elsa: It’s the last book in a series about the Cavallo brothers, billionaire tycoons with a string of boutique hotels in South Africa and the Seychelles. We’ve been to the Seychelles many years ago and I left a little bit of my heart behind. To have one of the Cavallo hotels in the Seychelles, was an obvious choice. The brothers work hard, play hard but have a difficult time trusting woman.

Darryn Cavallo is a seasoned photographer and quite used to being surrounded by gorgeous, half-naked women without breaking a sweat but he isn’t ready for the powerful feelings fashion model Hannah Sutherland elicits the minute he sets eyes on her. He’d once made the rookie mistake of falling for a model and it had ended badly, so when another photographer implies he’s also been with Hannah, Darryn uses it as the perfect excuse to walk away.

But when they meet again, Darryn can’t ignore his instincts—Hannah is in danger. Lies and threats make targets of them both, and faced with a situation of pure terror, Darryn is forced to realize he’ll do anything to protect her. And to keep her with him, always…

Lifting her face up to the sun, drinking in the fragrance that was the Seychelles, Hannah lifted the layers of pink tulle of the skirt she was wearing and twirled. Sandy, the makeup artist and the hair stylist laughed.

“I was wondering when you’d do that,” Sandy said. Looking over her shoulder, Sandy grinned. “Looks like our photographer caught you in the act.”

Hannah looked up into a pair of dark brown eyes that were watching her over the lens of a camera. This had to be Darryn Cavallo. The rumors were true—he was drop-dead gorgeous. Tall, muscled, with tousled, ink-black hair. Wow.

She didn’t wait to be introduced to him, didn’t wait to listen to his instructions. With her eyes locked on him, she slid into a pose. He stared at her for another minute before he lifted the camera.

And then her body started moving to a beat only audible to her and the photographer. Without any conscious thought, she posed and turned, instinctively knowing exactly what he wanted her to do.

The air around her stopped moving, breathing became difficult, any minute now she was going to go up in flames. Every cell in her body was reacting to him.

Buy links: Amazon * B&NKobo * iTunes

Sounds like a great story, Elsa! Thanks for sharing with us your thoughts on writing!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.