Making a Bread Bowl #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

It’s often easy to assume something we eat today has either always been available or is a new innovation when in fact the opposite is true. That’s what I learned about today’s topic: bread bowls.

Apparently, bowls have been made out of bread for a long time. I thought they were something invented during my life time but discovered in this article about plating food they’ve been around since the Middle Ages. Good news for my cook in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn who uses them to serve his renowned chicken chowder to the inn’s guests.

But how do you make a bread bowl? The article above cited that they used scooped out dried bread to make a trencher or bowl. What about in modern times? Of course, the recipe and technique needed to be something that could have been done in the 1820s, the time period of my story. So I looked for simple ingredients and steps and found what I was looking for at BreadWorld.com. I don’t detail the ingredients in my story, by the way, because those details didn’t enhance the story. But I did use the techniques.

In my story, Cassie Fairhope makes the bread bowls for Sheridan as you can see in this short excerpt:


The sticky mass of bread dough shuddered with each pounding. Cassie lifted an edge and folded it over, mashing her hands into the springy substance again and again. Kneading dough helped relieve her self-deprecation and grief. Something had to help release the tension coiled inside her gut.

“Don’t try to kill the bread dough.” Hannah chuckled from her side of the large work table where she shredded a roasted chicken into bite-size pieces. “It can’t fight back.”

“Ha, ha.” Cassie folded the dough and punched it down. Then divided it into pieces to shape into several small round loaves. Leave it to Hannah to poke the sore spot in her heart.

Cassie glanced over to the Marple sisters, their plain hickory brown dresses and white aprons displaying the amount of effort they put into their work, busily scrubbing potatoes and carrots. She appreciated the hard-working older sisters who lived down the road and showed up every morning at dawn to help ready the fruits and vegetables for the day’s menu. A large black kettle hung over the fire, steam rising in a steady column up the chimney. The chicken chowder had become a favorite for the midday repast. Sheridan would arrive before long to combine the ingredients with his signature touch of herbs and spices.

Hannah pinned her with a slight frown pulling on her brows. “I was joking. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”

Cassie patted a piece of dough into a slightly flattened ball and then pulled on the top to make a knob which would serve as a handle for the lid of the bread bowl. Pressing her lips together to prevent saying something she’d regret, she placed the loaf on the wooden paddle in preparation to slide the dough into the heated brick oven. Even with the windows open, the heat from both the cook fire and the hot bread oven had everyone glistening with perspiration.

Snagging another lump of dough, she shot a quelling glance at Hannah. “It’s been a difficult day.”


Once the bread is baked to a crusty goodness and cooled, then she’d use a sharp knife to cut off the top third of each loaf and hollow the bottom out. Then the chowder would be put inside and the top replaced to keep the contents hot until it’s served.

I haven’t tried this myself, but I am tempted to. Perhaps this fall when the temps cool around here from the 90s… I used to bake bread for my family rather than buying it but lately my time is better spent researching, writing, and reading.

Have you baked bread? Are you tempted like me to try making bread bowls?

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Meet Aly Grady #contemporary #romance #author #happilyeverafter #books

Please help me welcome a contemporary romance author Aly Grady! Here’s her official bio and then we’ll dive right into finding our more about her books and her writing process.

New England born and Mid-west living with my husband, who puts up with me, and my teenage children, who roll their eyes at me, and our fur kid, Cody, a labradoodle that can’t stand to be separated from me.

I began writing as a challenge. When I surprised myself and wrote the first draft of a complete story I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. It was suggested I seek out a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I did and with the help and guidance of my chapter I’ve written a total of five books.

You can find out more about her at www.alygradybooks.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Aly: I currently have five books published. Four in print and a Christmas novella that is digital only. Written – well, I have two completely done in various stages of editing and three more stories in various stages of the writing process.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Aly: I write Romance. I’m a girly girl at heart and the image of Cinderella dancing off at the end of her story with her Prince Charming is my ultimate fairytale. I want that for everyone. SO, I make the fairytale and happily ever after come true in all my stories.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Aly: My latest release with a relationship of convenience theme. It’s a twist on a marriage of convenience.

Caroline’s flight home for Christmas is cancelled. Frustrated with the weather, a stranger sits next to her in the terminal.

Colin is travelling home for the holiday as well, minus one tiny detail. He told his family he was bringing his girlfriend home. A girlfriend that doesn’t technically exist.

His phone rings. He answers. He begs.

Can Caroline be Colin’s Christmas miracle and pretend to be his girlfriend to his entire family?

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Aly: I write in many different places. Most often I’m on my couch. Revising/editing require more concentration for me so I’m usually at my desk.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Aly: I’m most active in the morning or very late at night.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Aly: I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about self-publishing. From there, I contacted a person that was mentioned and that person led me to my first development editor who led me to my cover artist and formatter – so basically it happened by accident.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Aly: My greatest strength… hmm, I’m always doubting myself but I’d say that I can talk to anyone and that conversation skill flows into being able to write dialog.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Aly: Oh, I most certainly come up with situations first.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Aly: My family has always been my number one priority so I write when I can. My husband travels A LOT so I’m a part-time single mom doing double duty with the kids. Both boys are driving now so that is a huge help. As a matter of fact – one drove himself to his summer tennis clinic which allows me time for me!

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Aly: I’m a huge stressball when it comes to my kids. Oldest just graduated from high school and I’ve not been able to concentrate on anything but that. Joy of joy is that my kids are only a year apart in school so I get to do all the worrying all over again.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Aly: I have participated in NaNoWriMo. It was crazy fun and at the end I had my first draft for “A Home For Love”. I sat in the parking lot of a tennis facility with my laptop writing words. It was so intense and I remember in the middle of it thinking it was like a video game tracking the word counter. I had a well thought out story idea which helped me stay the course.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Aly: Right this moment I’m not reading anything. I just finished with graduations and I’m on a deadline to finish editing.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Aly: I gravitate toward Historical Romance. I’d never dare write it, but I love all the detail.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Aly: So, yes, I’m that person. I have all the Harry Potter books that I’ve reread at least three times. I also have the Twilight books that I’ve reread a number of times. Then I have the Chronicles of Narnia series that I’ve read and reread and reread. Yes, children’s books. Why? Probably because they’re easy reading. The worlds that each story is set in is crafted well. It’s an escape to read them. On a more serious note, I’ve reread The Book Thief. When my children had to read it for school I described it as a sad but happy ending. That one is gut wrenching because while the narrator isn’t in the story, the story has been true. It’s probably one of the only real-ish stories that I’ve reread.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Aly: I don’t usually read when I’m mid writing.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Aly: I recently went back to work at a “day job”. My kids are heading off to private universities and me home alone with the dog seemed like an ideal time to seek outside the home interaction.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Aly: Publishing a book is a process with many pieces. Just uploading a book to Amazon isn’t enough. The biggest part of the publishing piece is getting the writer’s name and book title out in front of potential readers. It’s that advertising piece that many writer’s, myself included, fall short on.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Aly: Keep writing. If you have a story to tell, then you should tell it.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Aly: I have a contemporary romance novel I’m editing that revolves around a high school reunion.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Aly: I have a fun story idea that I’ve started for a YA mystery. I love mystery and the who-done-it concept so I’m taking my time because I don’t want to develop it incorrectly (read that as “get it wrong”).

Thanks so much for stopping in to talk about your writing, Aly! It’s interesting how each author has a different process and emphasis. It’s a matter of finding what works by trial and error sometimes.

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.

Learning to Shoot a Flintlock Pistol #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

After an attack at the Fury Falls Inn in my story, Flint Hamilton decides he needs to defend the property. He asks the deputy sheriff for his help in learning how to shoot a flintlock pistol accurately. In order for me to be able to portray what he learns, I had to do a bit of research. Thank goodness for online sources I could access to understand the process!

By the way, it is a happy coincidence that I chose to name my character Flint and then he wants to use a flintlock pistol. He’s named Flint because he has a solid sense of responsibility and conscience. So like the rock he’s named for, Flint is a hard man to fool and is dedicated to protecting those under his care.

Back to figuring out how to shoot a flintlock pistol. I went to the science website, How Stuff Works, where Marshall Brain details the parts and the process of shooting this type of gun. Loading and firing the pistol is rather complicated to detail but I imagine once you’ve learned how, doing so would flow rather easily.

According to Marshall Brain, the flintlock consists of four main parts: a hammer, mainspring, frizzen, and pan. The hammer is powered by the mainspring. The hammer’s purpose is to hold a piece of flint and make it move quickly to create a spark off of a piece of steel, the frizzen. The pan holds a little bit of gunpowder awaiting the spark to detonate it. These four parts work together to fire the lead ball (bullet).

There are seven steps Brain lists for loading and firing the pistol. Since I’m writing from Flint’s point of view, I needed to key on the steps as he would. But without boring my readers. Here’s how it unfolds in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn:


“Careful with that thing.” Parker waved a hand toward the flintlock pistol in Flint’s hand. “You said you’re not so good with it.”

Flint pointed the muzzle away from the deputy with a smirk. “That’s why you’re here. So teach me how to handle it and shoot straight.”

“First you need to load it properly.” The deputy held out his hand until Flint handed him the weapon. “Do you know how?”

He seemed to recall it took some special steps, and if you fouled them up then the contraption could explode in your hand. His father had tried to teach him how to handle a pistol years ago. After several near catastrophic missteps, he’d decided Flint would be safer using a rifle or even a musket. They weren’t quite as tricky as the smaller weapon, at least for Flint. But now Flint wanted something smaller he could carry with him instead of the larger, bulkier guns. Still, he approached the weapon with extreme caution.

“It’s been a while. Remind me.” Flint folded his arms while Parker talked him through the process. He forced himself to pay attention as the deputy explained and demonstrated each step, making the entire process look easy. Flint knew better.

Half-cock the hammer to pour in some gunpowder down the barrel. Wrap a lead ball with a bit of cloth and ram it down the barrel on top of the gunpowder. Add some gunpowder to the pan and snap the frizzen on as a cover. Fully cock the hammer and then squeeze the trigger to fire the gun. For each shot of the pistol, he had to do every step. With any luck, he wouldn’t need to do it at all. But he must be prepared.

“Your turn.” Parker handed him the gun. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Shoot the bull’s eye. Or try, anyway.”

With a grunt, Flint clumsily loaded the pistol. He raised the gun to point at the target, then steadied his shaking hand by briefly supporting it with his other one. Dropping the second hand, he aimed at the center red circle and jerked on the trigger. The blast of sound rang in the confines of the cavern, slowly echoing into silence. The odor of gunpowder lingered longer. Parker strode to the paper target and examined it. He spun around to smirk at Flint.


While Flint isn’t perfect on his first shot—he missed the target—he improves rapidly. I’ve fired a modern pistol but not any from the 1800s, so I appreciate the information Marshall Brain shared. I learned enough about how the pistol mechanism functions to be able to weave it into my story to help put the characters in context with the time in which they live. As I’ve said before, I am writing historical stories not to teach a history lesson but to entertain. 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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Getting to know Victoria Alexander #historical #romance #author #regency #mustread #fiction #books

I have a real treat for you today! I’m happy to have Victoria Alexander in the interview seat today. She’s an amazing best-selling author of historical romance and if you haven’t read her books, then you should seriously check out her stories. Let’s find out more about her as an author and a writer, starting with her official bio.

Victoria Alexander was an award winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She turned to writing full time and is still shocked it worked out. The #1 New York Times bestselling author has written 37 full length novels, 11 novellas and has been published in more than a dozen different countries.

Victoria grew up traveling the world as an Air Force brat. Today, she lives in Omaha, Nebraska with a long-suffering husband she kills off in every book and two bearded collies in a house under endless renovation and never ending chaos. She laughs a great deal—she has to.

You can find out more about her at www.victoriaalexander.com or follow her on Facebook.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Victoria: 48 published works—37 novels, 11 novellas

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Victoria: I’ve written some paranormals but I mostly write historicals—Regency and Victorian. I love the 19th century! From the beginning years with its rules and traditions to the progress of the last half of the century. We went from horses to trains, candles to gas to electricity. For most of the 19th century progress was in the air. I think it was a really exciting time. And when it comes to fiction—I find it magical.   

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Victoria: My newest release is The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After (on sale Aug 27th). I never seem to start out with a theme—they tend to evolve. This book is about second chances. It’s the story of two people who had to marry to avert scandal and then go their separate ways. Six years later they’re forced together again.

The story is actually set before the other three books in the Lady Travelers series. The epilogue takes place after the other books so Happily Ever After kind of wraps around the whole series. It is probably the last book in the series. At least for now.

Before there was a Lady Travelers Society there was just one lady traveler

Some marry for love. Some marry for money. But Violet Hagan’s quick marriage to irresponsible James Branham, heir to the Earl of Ellsworth, was to avoid scandal.

Though her heart was broken when she learned James never wanted marriage or her, Violet found consolation in traveling the world —at his expense, finding adventure and enjoying an unconventional, independent life. And strenuously avoiding her husband.

But when James inherits the earldom it comes with a catch—Violet. To receive his legacy he and Violet must live together as husband and wife, convincing society that they are reconciled. It’s a preposterous notion, complicated by the fact that Violet is no longer the quiet, meek woman he married. But then he’s not the same man either. 

Chasing Violet across Europe to earn her trust and prove his worth, James realizes with each passing day that a marriage begun in haste may be enjoyed at leisure. And that nothing may be as scandalous—or as perfect—as falling hopelessly in love. Especially with your wife.

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Victoria: I have an office off my living room—about as far away from the rest of the house as I can get—and I do all my work there. My house is just over 100 years old and even though I have high efficiency windows it’s just not enough. So in the summer I have at least one fan going and in the winter I need 2 space heaters just to keep my fingers warm. But wherever there isn’t a window, there are bookshelves so I’m surrounded by research and inspiration. It’s not especially tidy—okay—it’s never tidy but it is cozy and a great place to write and I love it!

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Victoria: I can’t think of any rituals although I do often set a timer and turn off all distractions—tv, internet, email, on-line games etc. until the timer goes off. Then I can take a break. I do always have something to drink—hot tea in the winter (warms me up) and usually ice tea in the summer. I play music sometimes but it’s always instrumental. Songs with words are too distracting and I tend to sing along which is a bit of a problem. As for time of day—it really varies from book to book. With some books my best time to write has been early morning. With others, I haven’t been able to get into writing until late afternoon.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Victoria: Persistence and support from writer friends. I kept sending out my first book to publishers and getting rejections. But while I was trying to sell that one—I started the next. By the time I sold, the second was almost finished.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Victoria: Dialogue and humor. I’m one of those people who talks to herself in the car. That seems to be a big help in writing dialogue. And while I have written some angsty scenes, I much prefer to make people laugh rather than cry. There’s not nearly enough laughter in the world.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Victoria: It really depends. Sometimes it’s situation and the characters develop for that particular story line. Sometimes it’s character. I have a couple of characters from previous books that I’d like to write stories for but coming up with the right story for an already established character isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Victoria: I do try to keep regular hours so I’m usually at my computer Monday-Friday, from about 8:30 to 5:00. And while I try to focus on writing, I am frequently distracted. Sometimes by legitimate things like research and writing blogs. Sometimes—okay more than I want to admit—by fantasy vacations and ebay.   

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Victoria: I’ve been having some repairs done around the house. Really hard to write with people you don’t know running around your house!

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Victoria: Nope. I’ve always wanted to but frankly my life is filled with the pressure of deadlines and commitments. Adding one more thing makes me want to run screaming into the night.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Victoria: The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Victoria: I don’t have just one favorite. I love contemporaries—preferably funny—as well as women’s fiction, erotica, young adult and paranormal.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Victoria: Honestly, I don’t reread a lot anymore. I have a kindle full of books I haven’t gotten to and a house full of books I still haven’t read. So there’s always something new. But I am planning to reread all of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s books because I’m not sure which ones I haven’t read yet.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Victoria: Actually, I rarely read historicals at all. It’s the world I work in and I’m very critical. Which takes all the fun out of it.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Victoria: I write full time. Well, I try to write full time.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Victoria: Authors don’t have nearly as much control as readers think we do.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Victoria: You have to understand writing is hard and there’s nothing that makes it easier. And every book is harder than the last—as it should be. It means you’re challenging yourself. If writing is what you really want to do—learn everything you can about writing and then do what you want. What you feel is right for the story you want to tell.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Victoria: I’m looking at something different. I’m just not sure what yet.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Victoria: I love writing 1st person. I’d like to do more of that.  Honestly, I have a million ideas so I’m exploring at the moment. It’s kind of an adventure and I’m excited about what comes next.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Victoria! We have a few things in common that I didn’t realize until you so graciously answered my questions. We both write full time, drink iced tea, have a ton of research books, and love historicals, for instance.

I hope everyone is enjoying getting to know my fellow authors, some of whom I’ve met in person, and some, like Victoria, who have helped me in my writing career. Writing, like Victoria said, is not easy. It’s wonderful to have a supportive network of other writers to turn to for answers to questions and for a pep talk when needed.

Now, go find a good book to read. Support your favorite authors! 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 www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

The Historic Huntsville Hotel #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

Last week I talked about the Bell Tavern in downtown Huntsville which existed for several decades before burning in a major fire. In its place, a “modern” hotel was built in 1858 and called the Huntsville Hotel. Just for the sake of completeness of my research on this topic, I’d like to share a little bit more about the hostelry business in Huntsville in the 1800s.

The Huntsville Hotel is described “the town’s first real hostelry.” Which is a true statement because the word “hostelry” means “an inn or hotel” and the city appears to have only had taverns before the hotel was built. The new hotel elevated the expectations for service and accommodations.

I think if you look at the photos included in the above link you can see the exterior of the building, with four stories with ironwork trim, is both welcoming and speaks of elegance in its architecture and style. The interior image of the main parlor also shows refined furniture and furnishings with the appearance of leather armchairs, a decorated fireplace, and drapes at the windows. The hotel had a doorman to welcome the guests arriving by horse-drawn carriage and coaches.

The Huntsville Hotel was the site of “lavish parties and grand balls” for many years, including during the Civil War. When the area suffered from a Yellow Fever epidemic, many people went to the hotel “seeking refuge during the summer months when the illness was at its peak.” It was also the site of theater and music productions. One sign of its amazing success is the addition of 65 rooms in 1888 which enlarged the hotel to the point of meeting with the City Hall property on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton streets.

Like its predecessor, the Bell Tavern, the Huntsville Hotel burned to the ground. But it took two separate fires to complete the job. The first fire occurred in 1910 and the second “nearly a year later” on November 12, 1911, when “the entire block was destroyed.” A new hotel is under construction as I write this article, due to open in 2020, on the same site. I wish them much better luck!

While I mention that there is a hotel in Huntsville in my series, it’s obviously fictional since history suggests the first hotel wasn’t built until 1858. But that’s fine with me because hotels existed elsewhere so it’s feasible, if not historically accurate, to have a fictional one in my stories.

After all, I am making up stories not to teach a history lesson but to entertain. 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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Meet Heather Redmond #author of #mystery #cozymystery #mustread #fiction #books

My guest today is none other than Heather Redmond, who also writes romantic suspense under the pen name of Heather Hiestand. But today we’ll focus on what Heather Redmond enjoys writing. What is that, you may ask? Let’s meet her and then dive into the interview to find out!

Longtime Washington State resident Heather Redmond is a committed anglophile, Dickens devotee, and lover of all things nineteenth century. She writes two mystery series, A Dickens of A Crime, featuring young Charles Dickens in the 1830s, and a new cozy mystery series, the Journaling mysteries, set in Seattle which debuts Halloween 2019 in the UK and Feb 1, 2020 in the US. Her latest Dickens title is Grave Expectations, book 2 in the series, and Journaled to Death is book 1 of her cozy series. She also writes as Heather Hiestand.

Find out more about her and her books at www.heatherredmond.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Heather: As Heather Redmond, I have two books published, but five under contract at the moment. Heather Hiestand has been around for fifteen years so the publication list is in the dozens.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Heather: That changes from year to year! Right now, I’m writing two genres of crime fiction as Heather Redmond, historical mystery and cozy mystery. As Heather Hiestand, I’m writing romantic suspense.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Heather: My A Dickens of a Crime series is based on both author Charles Dickens’s life as a young man in London and much more loosely on his novels. My current release, Grave Expectations, is set in the summer of 1835 when he lived in Selwood Terrace and worked at the Morning and Evening Chronicle. I took themes and motifs from his novel Great Expectations. Themes like “the dead don’t stay dead” and “the tug of past life on the present” and motifs like “spiderwebs.” I also wanted to look at the Jewish experience in London because of my own family history so some of my characters are coming from different aspects of Jewish society in London at the time.

In this clever reimagining of Charles Dickens’s life, he and fiancée Kate Hogarth must solve the murder of a spinster wearing a wedding gown . . .
 
London, June 1835: In the interest of being a good neighbor, Charles checks in on Miss Haverstock, the elderly spinster who resides in the flat above his. But as the young journalist and his fiancée Kate ascend the stairs, they are assaulted by the unmistakable smell of death. Upon entering the woman’s quarters, they find her decomposing corpse propped up, adorned in a faded gown that looks like it could have been her wedding dress, had she been married. A murderer has set the stage. But to what purpose?
 
As news of an escaped convict from Coldbath Fields reaches the couple, Charles reasonably expects the prisoner, Ned Blood, may be responsible. But Kate suspects more personal motives, given the time and effort in dressing the victim. When a local blacksmith is found with cut manacles in his shop and arrested, his distraught wife begs Charles and Kate to help. At the inquest, they are surprised to meet Miss Haverstock’s cold and haughty foster daughter, shadowed by her miserably besotted companion. Secrets shrouded by the old woman’s past may hold the answers to this web of mystery. But Charles and Kate will have to risk their lives to unveil the truth . . .

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Heather: I have an office in my house and I write there or on a chair in the living room. I mostly write at home.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Heather: I mostly write when my house is empty. School hours or child sleeping hours.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Heather: I sold my first mystery short story to Sisters in Crime for an anthology, Murder Across the Map. That first experience was instrumental in my career as it gave me hope during a long road to publication. I had a couple more years to wait before I sold my first novel.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Heather: I think plotting was always my strength. That lends itself well to the mystery genre where twisty, ever changing paths of investigation is key to reader enjoyment.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Heather: I’m writing series-based mysteries, so I’m always thinking about what the characters that already exist are doing. I have casts of friends and family to keep in touch with. For the A Dickens of a Crime series, I also pick one of Dickens’s novels to concentrate on. I reread it and take a look at the themes and motifs and use them to lead me into a plot. For my new cozy series, the heroine owns her own journaling business and is also a hospital barista, so my plots are grounded in those experiences.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Heather: During school days, my focus is on the writing. During the summer, it’s stolen moments.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Heather: I always struggle in the summer because of having a child underfoot all day. I war between keeping up the obligations of a job and mom time.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Heather: I have participated and even “won.” However, I’m not always in a drafting phase exactly on November first and if I have to tend to other obligations, I don’t have enough time to write 50K and do other things like edits, plotting and so forth.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Heather: I am giving a library presentation on “Writing Exciting Mysteries” on August 3rd, so I’m prepping for it by rereading the fantastic novels I preselected for the presentation, so the library could have them on hand. I’m also listening to A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George on audio.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Heather: My guilty pleasure long before I wrote it was cozy mystery. Current favorites are authors like Marty Wingate, Kellye Garret, Vivien Chien, Krista Davis, and Ellie Alexander.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Heather: Because of this presentation, I’m delighting in my keeper shelf right now. Authors on it include Agatha Christie, Lindsey Davis, Rhys Bowen, Elizabeth Peters, and Margaret Maron. But I rarely read a book more than once. I can go twenty-five years between rereads.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Heather: I’m actually a very eclectic reader, so I doubt too much sticks from my reading, even if I’m writing in the same genre. I always have multiple books going at once, including tons of middle grade fiction that I’m reading with my child.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Heather: Writing is my day job.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Heather: I wish they knew that very few of us are even making minimum wage. We can’t afford to hand out a lot of free books and tchotchkes that are far from free to us.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Heather: The first thing is to finish your first book before you worry about anything in the industry. The second is to make sure you’re getting some kind of professional feedback before you publish it, whatever your path might be.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Heather: I am pitching the next Dickens book, drafting the third book in my Kent Confidential romantic suspense series (as Heather Hiestand), and drafting my second cozy mystery.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Heather: Cozy is my newest endeavor, and was actually started one hundred percent just for fun during some down time in the spring of 2018. So that’s my latest experiment. My agent didn’t expect it to sell so easily, so experiment became a new career path for me very recently! It’s great to try new things.

Thanks, Heather, for sharing about your stories in all your genres and pen names!

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.

Bell Tavern of Huntsville #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

The idea for a haunted roadside inn in my Fury Falls Inn series developed over several months of pondering. If you’re a fan of my books, one fact I hope you’ve discovered is that for my historicals—actually, for all of my writing—I strive to make sure the story’s details are authentic and at least plausible if not exactly found in the history books. With that in mind, I had to know whether an inn could have existed where I wanted in northeast Alabama in 1821, the time period of the series.

The first consideration I’ve already discussed: whether enough people were traveling into the area who would need accommodations or lodgings for a brief period of time. I had to know where the roads were in Madison County before I could choose the right location. Then I was curious about what types of hostelries existed in the Huntsville area. Which leads me to today’s topic: the Bell Tavern.

While I haven’t been able to find out much about the original tavern as far as its appearance, I do know it was owned by Walter Otey who arrived in Huntsville in the early 1800s. His wife, Mary Walton Otey, must have helped in the Bell Tavern when she wasn’t busy raising their nine children. Most likely even the children helped out with the daily chores associated with keeping the place clean, preparing and serving meals, keeping fires burning for warmth, etc.

Mention is made regarding the many people who traveled to Huntsville who would stay at the Bell Tavern. Since it was located on the northwest corner of the courthouse square, I imagine during the formative years of the state that delegates and lawyers among others must have enjoyed the hospitality offered at the tavern. Although the deliberations were held in the Constitution Hall, those who had traveled into town might have stayed at the Tavern.

Walter Otey died in 1823, which left the tavern to his wife to manage. I imagine, though the record I’ve uncovered doesn’t provide details, she would likely have been glad to find a buyer for the business. There is reference to the property having “endured many changes in ownership” before Alexander Johnson took possession of it in 1855. Mr. Johnson suffered from some very bad luck because a “major fire” reduced the Tavern to having only “a few rooms for guests” for some period of time before being torn down and replaced with a “modern hotel” on the site. Thus The Huntsville Hotel was built, which will be the topic of next week’s article.

So, look for potential visits by my characters in the series to the Bell Tavern since it was still in existence at the time of my stories. I’m still in the planning stages of some of those and don’t know yet whether they’ll stop in for a pint or not. Or perhaps copy some of the hospitality for use at the Fury Falls Inn. Anything is possible at this point…

Thanks for reading both my blog and my books!

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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