Getting to know Kitty Felde #author #fiction #childrensmysteries #podcaster #journalist

Please help me welcome my first children’s book author, Kitty Felde. I think you’ll find her very interesting and refreshing, so let’s take a gander at her bio and then get to know her better.

Kitty Felde is an award-winning journalist, podcaster, and writer of children’s mysteries set on Capitol Hill.

She is also host and executive producer of the Book Club for Kids podcast – named one of the top 10 kidcasts in the world by The Times of London. The show has won the DC Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities and the California Library Association Technology Award.

Her award-winning debut novel Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza (Chesapeake Press, 2020) is the tale of the 10-year-old daughter of a member of Congress who solves the mystery of the Demon Cat. It’s been adapted to the dramatic podcast The Fina Mendoza Mysteries.

Book 2 in the series State of the Union was released in August. A mysterious bird has pooped on the president’s head during the State of the Union address. Fina must find that bird and learn its secret message.

Kitty is a veteran public radio journalist, named “Radio Journalist of the Year” three times by the LA Press Club and Society of Professional Journalists. She hosted Southern California Public Radio’s daily “Talk of the City” for nearly a decade. She covered Capitol Hill for nearly another decade. Kitty’s also an award-winning playwright.

Author Social Links: Twitter * Facebook * Twitter2

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

Kitty: I covered lots of State of the Union addresses over my years as a reporter on Capitol Hill. I loved that night of the year! The Capitol is even more lovely at night. Everyone dresses up special and has dinner and probably lots of wine, so everyone’s in a really good mood. It’s fun to lean over the balcony railing to see generals and Supreme Court Justices and all the Senators smushed into the House Chamber. And something always happens: Justice Bader Ginsburg falls asleep, a congressman yells “you lie!” at the president, there’s always a chance the first lady will stumble down the steep stairs.

I wanted to take everyone with me on one of those nights. To introduce the pomp and circumstance to kids. In this day of bitter partisanship, I want to inspire the next generation to think about public service. To see themselves in the future as a lawmaker. Or at least to show up at the polls and vote!

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Kitty: Fina’s older sister Gabby just showed up. Her voice was clear and distinct. She’s probably more like me than Fina.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Kitty: There was a woman who worked in the Capitol snack bar who used to wear a different wig every single day. For months, I thought it was a different person every day. I had been to the Bahamas one time, taken away from the town up into the hills where neighbors would gather in someone’s yard that had been turned into a restaurant. I could imagine a character like my wig lady dreaming of opening such a restaurant of her own. So she became Bahamian. And the Bahamian island of Andros, there’s a myth about a mysterious bird with long legs, the face of an owl, and the tail of a lizard named Chickcharney. That was the beginning of “State of the Union.”

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Kitty: I think Papa (Congressman Arturo Mendoza) is a tough one. He dearly loves his girls. And his mama. But he’s also very protective of his inner life. He’s still grieving for his late wife and feeling great responsibility for his constituents back in LA. So it was hard to get inside his head.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Kitty: I know a lot about Congress and the U.S. Capitol building and all the people who work there. But I keep finding things I DON’T know about. Luckily, people who work for the Architect of the Capitol helped me with statues and construction and such. The House Historian was happy to share back stories. And the House Chaplain’s office was thrilled to take me “behind the altar.” The US Capitol Historical Society has been most helpful with tales of ghosts and scary things in the Capitol. (Aside from insurrectionists…)

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Kitty: I’m not sure about the number of drafts. I have a terrific critique group and we tackle a chapter at a time. Maybe four drafts?

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Kitty: “State of the Union” is the second book in the Fina Mendoza Mystery series, so I already knew the characters and the setting and the “format” of the book. Book one took about five years. Book two took about a year. Book one (Welcome to Washington Fina Mendoza) took longer not only because I didn’t know what I was doing (it was my first book!) but also because I didn’t have the confidence to send it out in the world.

I am more confident now. And I have a roadmap for the series. There will be 5 books and a podcast season for each book. I know some of what is coming next, but not everything. But I want to finish the series! So I’m expecting the next books will take less than a year.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Kitty: Tea. Pots and pots of tea. Walks when I’m stuck. And short bursts of writing on a consistent basis.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Kitty: You know, more than repetitive words, my downfall is punctuation. Where does the period go? Should I use a dash or an ellipse? Why CAN’T I use capital letters to make a point? I’m hopeless.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Kitty: Years ago, I wrote to an author to gripe about some small thing in one of his books. He wrote back, outraged at my critique. I realized that he was feeling the way I did back when I was an actor and got a bad review. So I wrote back. We were pen pals for year. It was because of Ron Powers that I even imagined that I was good enough to be a writer.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Kitty: My husband and I have an agreement: he gets the second bedroom for his office and I get the rest of the house. That said, my writing desk (an antique secretary that I’ve had since I was 12) is in the bedroom. It’s where I write first drafts. Then I print out pages and get out of the house. Pre-covid, I’d sit in coffee shops or libraries and work. Now I sit in my car at parks.

For reading, I have a cozy nook in the living room. Or if it’s particularly fine day, I camp out underneath the sycamores in the front yard.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Kitty: I was a public radio reporter for three decades. I started my first book early in the morning those days.

These days, I produce the Book Club for Kids podcast as my “day job.” But it doesn’t require a 40 hour a week schedule. I edit on Mondays and tape author interviews, conversations with my young reviewers, and collate celebrity readings from the books whenever they come up.

I enjoy talking to young readers about what they love (and hate) to read. It helps me with my own writing. But more than that, the things that resonate with kids is SO different from what I get out of a book. And those conversations about those “left turns” are what inspire me.

For example, a trio of 7th grade girls explained to me that dystopian novels are popular because the protagonist is a girl and the boys treat her with respect. Okay.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Kitty: I remember one of the first comments I got from a little girl who said she thought the book was going to be scary. She proclaimed it “not too scary.” That was the kind of kid I was: I wanted the kind of book this is, one that’s not too scary and full of family and heart.

I love the opportunity to go into classrooms and not only introduce kids to Chickcharney and the Demon Cat and Fina and the Mendoza family, but also to introduce them to Washington and the way government works, to hopefully inspire them, or at least to introduce basic civics.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Kitty: Ngaio Marsh. She was a theatre maven like me and writes those lovely mystery novels set in Britain and New Zealand (where I spent my honeymoon). She’s not as smarty pants as Dorothy L. Sayers (who I also love, but feel I’m missing a lot because I never went to school in Oxford) with a good sense of humor. I’d love to talk about plotting a mystery. And about how she managed to be SO prolific!

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Kitty: I’d love Fina to get picked up by Netflix or Nickelodeon and turned into a TV series. But success for me is getting my books into the hands of young readers, visiting classrooms, answering questions, and writing more books to spend more time with Fina Mendoza. And maybe someday, I’ll get a letter from an angry fan who will turn into a pen pal and maybe even run for Congress someday.

A mysterious bird poops on the head of the president during the State of the Union address. Can Fina Mendoza, the 10-year-old daughter of a congressman, outsmart the Secret Service, the Capitol Police, and most of Capitol Hill to find that bird…and learn its secret message? Fina is assisted in her investigation by a pair of congressional dogs – a giant orange Briard named Senator Something and a tiny mutt called Saint Sebastian. While Fina’s father is working on immigration reform legislation with his House colleagues inside the Capitol, her grandmother is nearly arrested outside with a group of activists.

Buy Links: Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Bookshop.org

What a fun concept, Kitty! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your books and your writing process with us.

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!

Evolution of a College Name #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I know I’ve mentioned many times just how much I enjoy doing research. Especially if I can actually go to an historic site. But that’s not always necessary. Today I want to talk about the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I chose this college as Daniel Fairhope’s place of employment in 1821.

In Fractured Crystals, Daniel works at the East Tennessee College in Knoxville. However, according to the history on Wikipedia, the original name was Blount College when it was charted in 1794. Then it was recharted in 1807 as the East Tennessee College. In 1809, the first president and only faculty member, Samuel Carrick, died and the school closed. It wasn’t until 1820 the college reopened and needed to find a larger location to handle the growing number of students. In 1828, the college relocated to Barbara Hill, today known as The Hill.

I share that history to say that technically my character was employed by the school in 1821, when it was known as East Tennessee College as I say in the story. But he couldn’t have actually worked there for very long since it didn’t reopen until 1820. Now, the article doesn’t say exactly when in 1820 the school reopened, so there is that wiggle room, right? And the fact that there were growing pains would mean they’d need more teachers, so they’d likely hire Daniel despite his young age at the time.

I always find it fascinating to learn about the evolution of a place and its name. The reasons for the changing name of the college seem straightforward to me. The UT historic timeline states the college was originally named for the territorial Governor William Blount. Blount College also has the claim to fame of being the “first public university chartered west of the Appalachian Divide, one of the first coeducational colleges in America when five women were admitted in1804, and may have been the first school in the country open to students of all religions when most colleges were affiliated with Christian denominations.”

Sounds like quite a solid start to a fine institution, doesn’t it? I’m glad I chose this school for my story, too.

Have you preordered Fractured Crystals yet? I hope you enjoy the story. I had fun writing 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.

FRACTURED CRYSTALS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

RELEASES OCTOBER 12, 2021!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. A place where Daniel Fairhope’s family kept life-changing secrets from him.

His sister’s magic is coveted by two powerful, angry witches intent on her willing compliance with their demands. Worse, a witch hunter is on the loose, determined to rid the area of all witches. Struggling to cope with those threats, Daniel discovers his own unique and powerful ability as well as those of his estranged brothers. Abilities they’ll need to unite to protect their sister and the family secrets. But these challenges all pale in comparison to convincing the captivating woman he meets at the inn to trust him before she breaks his heart.

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Getting to know John Layne #author #western #historical #fiction #novels #books #amreading

My next guest writes in a genre I love to watch, as in old western movies while I’m revising or proofing. I’m happy to introduce to you author John Layne! Let’s take a moment to find out about his background and then delve into his inspiration and process. Here’s his bio:

John is an international, multi-award winning author of Western Fiction and long-time veteran of law enforcement beginning his police career in Houston, Texas, in 1981. He has held numerous positions in his 40 year career, including Detective for the past 26 years. He is currently a Sr. Detective for a state-wide law enforcement agency in North Texas.

​His professional writing career began in the sports industry where he penned articles for national magazines and online publications. He held the position of sports editor for two years where he wrote on professional, collegiate, and amateur athletics. ​

He grew up watching western movies and reading stories of the Old West. His theatrical influences include actors John Wayne, James Stewart, and Clint Eastwood as well as directors John Ford, Henry Hathaway, Howard Hawks, and Andrew McLaglen. He drew literary inspiration from Louis L’Amour, Robert B. Parker, C. J. Box, and Lee Child. His passion for history and the classic western genre inspired him to write short stories and two novels on the Old West along with his first feature file screen play, all classic westerns set in 1877 Texas.​

John is an avid sports fan and horse enthusiast. He is a member of The Authors Guild, Western Writers of America, Western Fictioneers, Wyoming Writers Inc., and the Oklahoma Writers Federation.

Author Social Links: Facebook * Instagram

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

John: The Western genre is my favorite and a pure passion of mine. I grew up with the Western and love it today more than ever.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

John: U.S. Deputy Marshal Luxton Danner. I thought out his character before the writing began.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

John: Actual historical research. The border towns along the Red River were under siege from outlaw bands at the time of the story.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

John: The villain Tuff Jenkins. The story didn’t permit enough time and space to expound upon his background.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

John: Weeks of historical research from both the Texas Historical Society and the Oklahoma Historical Society along with the history of the railroads and the period societal norms. Everything from political positioning to the accurate descriptions and names of clothing the characters wore.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

John: This is a tough one. Actual drafts was probably 3, but there were numerous re-writes and editing that followed before my publisher and I was satisfied.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

John: My first book, Gunslingers took nearly 4 years from start to release. Red River Reunion took a solid year from start to release. With most of the research completed and the characters identified and defined, book two went much quicker. I would say that one year is now typical for me as long as I’m writing this series.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

John: I always go back and read the prior three chapters before I begin a new writing session. This allows me to immerse myself into the story and re-engage with the characters. I also need it to be quiet. I don’t write with any type of background sound or noise.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

John: During my drafts, I tend to use “than” and “had” within my sentences. When I go back for my re-writes, I usually delete most of those words because they really aren’t needed or I restructure the sentence to sound better.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

John: I have been influenced by a number of people over the years. I always note actors John Wayne, James Stewart, Maureen O’Hara, and Clint Eastwood. Film directors John Ford, Howard Hawks, and Henry Hathaway. Literary models include Louis L’Amour, Robert B. Parker, C. J. Box, and Lee Child.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

John: My home office is my sanctuary. I have it decorated to perfection and I do my best work there.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

John: My day job is currently a police detective and has been for the last 40 years. Let’s just say I’m ready to write full time now.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

John: Actually just getting one book published. I was fortunate that my first manuscript caught the attention of a publishing company and agent. My first two books have been recognized with a combined 13 literary awards.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

John: This is a tough one, but I’ll go with Louis L’Amour. Years after his death, he’s still considered the King of the Western genre.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

John: Well, since I’m still in hot pursuit of wealth and fame, I’ll go with admiration. Not of me, but my work. I hope my readers and fans admire my work. That would define success for me, but I sure would like a best seller also! (Laughing)

In 1877 U.S. Deputy Marshal Luxton Danner and Texas Ranger Wes Payne are dispatched to the Red River border of Texas and the Indian Territory to protect settlements on the Texas side of the river. The settlements were constant victims of outlaw raiders that hid out in the Indian Territory because there was no law enforcement there. Danner and Payne embark on an adventure to rid the area of outlaw superiority and reclaim the town of Range for the settlers.

Buy Links:Website * LabradorPublishing * Amazon * anywhere books are sold.

Thanks for sharing your writing process and resulting story, John. Sounds like a great read and I bet doing the research for it was fascinating.

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!

Getting to know Laury A Egan #author #mystery #romance #suspense #magicalrealism #literaryfiction #books

My guest today is an accomplished publishing professional who has turned her attention to her first love, writing. Please help me welcome author Laury E. Egan! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing process and her stories.

Laury A. Egan is the author of The Swimmer, The Outcast Oracle, A Bittersweet Tale, Jenny Kidd, The Ungodly Hour, Fabulous! An Opera Buffa, and Fog and Other Stories. Her novels range from psychological suspense, comedy, mystery/romance, young adult, to literary fiction. Four volumes of poetry have been published in limited edition: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond; and Presence & Absence. She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter

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

Laury: After reading Death with Interruptions by José Saramago, I wanted to incorporate some magical realism in my writing and also to continue a trend toward more literary fiction. Although the main character, Bess Lynch, is nothing like my wife, who was also a therapist diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer, the subject, and the idea of writing about a psychologist’s struggles, were inspirations. Having been the primary caregiver and witnessing the arc of the disease through its unfortunately inevitable outcome, I also wanted to create a more positive ending, one told from a secular perspective. 

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Laury: The unconventional mystery in The Swimmer surrounds Stephen, the most enigmatic of the primary characters. He says he’s gay, yet Stephen becomes involved with Bess, and his past and present lives are shadowy. Although Stephen is the embodiment of the story’s magical realism, I could see him clearly from the beginning and knew how he would behave. His dialogue and behavior required almost no revision.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Laury: The end-of-life situation provided the “what-if” spark, which, in turn, led to the setting—Truro and Provincetown—where I thought a woman who wanted to make major decisions might travel to be alone or, as Bess describes the area, “the farthest I could journey out to sea without leaving land.”

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Laury: The protagonist, Bess Lynch, was the most challenging. As a therapist, she is used to being a caretaker, yet at this crucial point in her life, she needs to accept care. Many of Bess’ most valued attributes are suddenly challenged, so she is a character in extremis, one who must reassess her relationships with her husband and son, wrestle with her identity, and make decisions about how she will live and die. Bess is a nuanced, introspective woman, and I needed to follow her through the stages of her awareness as she reacts to the other players. In many ways, she’s a heroic figure—brave and honest—an easy part to write, yet she’s also bombarded with new realizations about her flaws—more difficult to write.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Laury: Because I had first-hand experience with my wife’s pancreatic cancer and her symptoms, treatments, and surgeries, I consulted my notes and double-checked some medical information online. Every person who has this cancer will respond differently and will be given different protocols, plus I mention in the book that details are accurate for 2013-2015 and new approaches have been developed since then.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Laury: By “drafts,” I include editorial rounds and polishes. So, by my count, there were 54 revisions, which is more than usual (typically I do 25-30 rounds). Because this was my first foray into magical realism and novel-length literary fiction, however, I wanted to make this maiden voyage successful. I also struggled with some of the family dynamics and tended to make Bess, the psychotherapist, too controlled and reserved, both tendencies similar to mine. As one reader said, wouldn’t Bess lose her cool? Yes, she would!

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Laury: I began writing the novel in August 2016 and completed the first draft in November, so this book tumbled out in a very short amount of time. The reasons for the abbreviated writing time were a linear plot, which requires less mental juggling; dealing with a limited cast; and a manuscript that was modest in length. Then I began the revisions, which took far longer and involved integrating suggestions from several readers. I was delayed by another title in production, and finally submitted The Swimmer to publishers in the fall of 2018. The contract with Heliotrope Books was signed in August 2019, but because the publisher was skipping fiction in 2020, the book was postponed until April 2021. As for the typical length of time a novel takes, well, they are all different. Some are good children and enter the world smoothly, whereas others get put in the corner and reexamined much later when I can view the novel objectively and see its merits and failures. An example of this is a psychological suspense which I’ve excavated from 2003. In recent months, I’ve cut over 11,000 words and am doing major revisions.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Laury: Because I started my professional writing late in life (though my career was in publishing), I feel serious pressure to produce now, to make up for “lost” time.  As a result, I usually work seven days a week, mostly starting at eight in the morning and finishing after five. For better or worse, I have few distractions, so this work ethic is easy to maintain. In many ways, I’ve become what I do, or as Andrew Carnegie (my university’s founder) wrote, “my heart is in my work.”

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Laury: Ouch. You put your finger on an issue that drives me berserk: repeated words. I frequently do “find” searches for some specific offenders, but often I do a round of reading looking for unnecessary insertions of “that,” “just,” and indirect softening phrases like “kind of”—oh, my, they get the red pencil busy! Each book tends to have a unique set of repetitive words depending on the genre, setting, and subject. It’s astonishing how impoverished the English language—how many words are there for “kiss,” for example?

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Laury: My mother was a very accomplished artist/painter who worked all day, five days a week. She was disciplined and dedicated and created for the process and not for financial remuneration. She believed in excellence and taking no shortcuts to get there. 

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Laury: I work at a desktop computer in a guest-room office. I could sit facing my ocean view, but this space keeps me focused on what I’m doing. That said, I always have paper at hand wherever I am. When I’m writing the first draft or in the throes of early rounds, I find that quiet time before sleep or while driving can produce epiphanies or reveal plot snags. If I don’t make notes immediately, I’m terrified of forgetting.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Laury: Although writing was my first passion, I veered into visual arts (graphic design and photography) for college and for the main part of my career. I still do some fine arts photography and teach the subject privately, but I’ve phased out my book design business over the last twenty years. While I enjoyed working with authors, editors, and production staff; creating the design of the entire book from manuscript to jacket and binding; I’m even more pleased being on the opposite side of the publishing desk and passionately believe writing was what I was meant to do. I’m very fortunate to be able to concentrate on my work. I’m also pleased when I have a chance to design my own covers, such as The Swimmer.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Laury: Whether this is a plus or a minus, I write diverse fiction, from psychological suspense to comedy to literary novels. I also think of myself as a “bridge” writer—one whose readership spans between straight and LGTBQ+ readers, with some titles exclusively falling on one side or the other, or some, like The Swimmer, mixing straight and gay characters. This fluidity feels comfortable and reflects my personality, so when I achieve this quality, I’m happiest. I also enjoy incorporating a poetic or literary style in books that might be deemed genre titles (suspense and mystery) and satisfying my fascination with psychology by creating in-depth characterizations.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Laury: I would love to share a bottle (or two or three) of champagne with Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Imagine the conversation between the two women! My next book (late 2021), Wave in D Minor, is about a composer writing an opera featuring these writers, which meant considerable research reading their journals and letters so I could create scenes and short snatches of lyrics. Even if armed with all this information, I would be too intimidated to talk to Woolf and Vita-Sackville West and would only ask questions. I’m sure the conversation would be as sparkling as the champagne.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Laury: I don’t define success as a writer the same way as I did my career as a book designer, in which I won numerous national awards and earned a decent income. Writing has always been my identity. It is who I am and has now become my life. Being widowed, without family, and dealing with partial disability, writing is my greatest pleasure. That said, reaching a higher level of “discoverability” would be wonderful.

The Swimmer: A fresh twist on a triangular relationship. A novel about compassion, generosity, love, selfishness, grief, bravery, and sacrifice.

Psychotherapist Bess Lynch makes a sojourn to Cape Cod to deal with her impending demise from pancreatic cancer. At the beach, she encounters an incandescently handsome man, who is mourning the loss of his husband to leukemia. They find solace in a tender affair until Bess’ son arrives and detonates the fragile calm. The dynamics between these three characters play out against Bess’ awareness that her cancer is metastasizing and her concerns about dying with independence and grace. With touches of magical realism, the novel rises above the somber subject into a lyrical elegy about kindness, love, and dignity.

“Egan’s story is for anyone contemplating the meaning of death, life, and everything in between: fear, regret, desire, hope, acceptance. A novel written with deep compassion and beautiful storytelling.”

—Lori Ostlund, author of After the Parade

Buy Links: Amazon

Signed copies available from the author: www.lauryaegan.com

Drawing from personal experience to write such a touching story must be satisfying. Thanks for sharing it with us, Laury!

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!

Nothing but Time: A Pocket Watch Timeskip Story #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’m happy to share that book 4 of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series, Fractured Crystals, is now available for pre-order. See below for more about the story and links to order your copy today.

One of the themes in this story is time, specifically Daniel Fairhope’s ability to timeskip using a very special pocket watch. So, I thought I’d share what this antique watch looks like, or at least the images I used while writing Fractured Crystals.

I found the pocket watch online at the 1st Dibs website. I chose it as the model for my story because of its age and unique design. It’s described there as “a rare Georgian Verge pocket watch.” The watch was designed and signed by Abraham Colomby, a Swiss maker and retailer who died in Geneva in 1776. When this jewelry store offered the watch for sale (at $5,950, though it’s no longer available) it was still keeping time despite being crafted in 1760. Imagine that for a moment: it has been working for something like 261 years! Blows me away. The workmanship Mr. Colomby brought to bear on a watch.

I love the design of this fancy watch! The rose cut diamonds surrounding the front crystal face and the enamel portrait of a lady on the back, also surrounded by diamonds. Apparently, there are 142 rose cut diamonds in all. Now I did modify the watch a bit to add a second button for my timeskip purposes, but mostly I left it alone.

Here’s a short excerpt when Daniel first encounters the watch in Fractured Crystals:


Giles chuckled at the slight and Daniel shot him a quelling look. Giles merely shrugged and pulled a pocket watch from his front jeans pocket. The gold case with its ring of gems glinted in the evening light, a long chain securing the timepiece to his brother’s pocket. Everything around Daniel came to a standstill as he stared at the beautiful, captivating, entrancing watch. His brother studied the time and then glanced up at him, his smirk shifting into a puzzled frown.

“What’s the matter?” Giles held the watch on his palm, his gaze on Daniel.

“May I see it?” He needed to hold it. His fingers itched to grasp the gold object with a circle of small diamonds around the crystal. “Please?”

Giles regarded him for a long moment and then nodded. “I don’t know why, but now that you ask I feel like it’s the exact right thing to do.”

Giles released the chain’s clasp and then dropped the pocket watch lightly on Daniel’s outstretched palm. The name Abraham Colomby, the watch’s maker, graced the white face of the watch in a flowing script. The metal case warmed to his touch and a sense of peace and rightness filled him. A truly unique sensation. As if the watch had come home to him. He turned it over to stare into the painted coquettish eyes of a young woman in a fancy pink gown and large purple hat with white feathers arching above it on the back. On one side of the watch a nub of a stem bumped the pad of his thumb.

“Where did you get this?” Daniel asked Giles, meeting his brother’s surprised expression.

“In the trunks in Ma’s attic. At the time, I thought I wanted it for its utility but now I get the impression there was more to it.” Giles folded his arms over his massive chest, his eyes serious as he met Daniel’s gaze. “You look like you’ve found your true love, my brother.”

No, not his true love. Something more. A deeper connection. Daniel inspected the watch, turning it slowly in his hand. “I… It’s mine. I know it is, but I don’t remember ever seeing it before.” He frowned down at the gleaming gold metal and then glanced at his mother. “Do you know?”

“Well of course it’s yours, Daniel. You are a Timeskipper after all. I’ve kept it safe for you until your return. Or rather, Giles has kept it under his protection as Guardian.”


I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Daniel and getting to know more about the secretive Fairhope family as well. I’ve heard from several readers how anxious they are to read this story after reading the first three in the series: The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, Under Lock and Key, and Desperate Reflections. Fractured Crystals is coming soon!

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.

FRACTURED CRYSTALS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

RELEASES OCTOBER 12, 2021!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. A place where Daniel Fairhope’s family kept life-changing secrets from him.

His sister’s magic is coveted by two powerful, angry witches intent on her willing compliance with their demands. Worse, a witch hunter is on the loose, determined to rid the area of all witches. Struggling to cope with those threats, Daniel discovers his own unique and powerful ability as well as those of his estranged brothers. Abilities they’ll need to unite to protect their sister and the family secrets. But these challenges all pale in comparison to convincing the captivating woman he meets at the inn to trust him before she breaks his heart.

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Getting to know Janyce Stefan-Cole #author #womensfiction #mystery #contemporary #thriller #books

How about a little murder mystery to kickstart the weekend? Please help me welcome as my guest author Janyce Stefan-Cole! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out whodunit…

JANYCE STEFAN-COLE is the author of the novels, HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD (Unbridled Books) and THE DETECTIVE’S GARDEN (Unbridled Books) and is included in: Rattapallax Magazine issue 36, The Broadkill Review, The Laurel Review, and The Open Space. “Conversation with a Tree” won Knock Literary Magazine’s Eco-lit prize and was republished in the anthology, BEING HUMAN; Editions Bibliotekos. Also: Fiction Writers Review, Pank, The Healing Muse, Main Street Rag, American Book Review, WG News + Arts, and the anthology, DICK FOR A DAY; Villard Books. Visiting novelist, Texas University of the Permian Basin.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook

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

Janyce: The Detective came to me first, as does happen but not always. I knew Emil was an atheist, and that atheists are “the most religious in the world”. My husband is an inherited atheist, so perhaps some of him features in protagonist, retired homicide detective, Emil Milosec. Also, I wanted to write in the male voice, and do so convincingly. A mystery presents itself in the form a severed female finger. The garden is Emil’s refuge; his deceased wife Elena, very much alive in Emil’s heart, created the garden in what had been a dump of a backyard at their Brooklyn brownstone. Emil has dug a hole with intentions of planting the apple tree his wife had long wanted in the garden. He discovers the severed finger there and, in an instant, his refuge is spoiled. He must discover who “planted” the finger and why. This takes him, first in memory, then actually to his boyhood home of Slovenia. There is revealed what his mind had refused to accept, and can no longer avoid: Emil Milosec, the law-defending, self-certain detective faces himself and finds a murderer.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Janyce: Emil Milosec, and his neighbor, Franco Montoya.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Janyce: I would say both character and setting. The garden is of course a metaphor for Eden. The irony being an atheist is its inhabitant.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Janyce: Emil is very complex, and he is a male, while I am female. I had to grasp a consistent male voice, and I had to break through a very reticent character. Elena is, of course, deceased from the story’s beginning. I had to bring her alive just enough to let the reader know how deeply she affected, still affects Emil.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Janyce: Happily, I have been to Slovenia, so was able to project that city believably. I had to research weapons, and certain police procedures. And I had to find certain words in Slovenian—that was tricky. I read the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament because Emil the atheist is at the same time very Old Testament. He argues with The Bible; the deity found in it.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Janyce: I wrote a story in 1999, “The Pepper Patch”. There is a pepper patch in Emil’s garden. His neighbor, Franco Montoya gave the seeds to Emil’s wife Elena, who planted them knowing Emil hated peppers. The story introduced me to Emil and my other main characters. I began to write a novel, Outside Eden, which evolved after perhaps three drafts to, THE DETECTIVE’S GARDEN.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Janyce: If you exclude the short story that led to the novel, I’d say three years, a bit more. Yes, the length is pretty typical. I average between three and four hundred manuscript pages. I don’t plan the number of pages.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Janyce: Solitude! I must pretend I am utterly alone in the world of my book. That means no phone calls or emails. I try to be at the desk by nine AM where I stay, no matter what, until lunch. Afternoons the world usually steps in, though I try for an afternoon session at the desk.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Janyce: Nod (he/she nodded) might be one. And then, is another I have to watch out for. Also, starting a sentence with and. For some reason I like to start sentences with and. I carefully rein that in.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Janyce: Not really living role models but many authors. Lewis Nordan was a wonderful Southern writer I got to know at an art colony. He was the real deal, and I looked up to him but was, happily, too bashful to make a complete annoyance of myself. We became friends. I don’t know that he actually took my writing seriously at the time.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Janyce: I have a wonderful studio in Brooklyn. Not quite quiet enough but I make it work. It is my lair. My sister gave me an apple green chaise that I read on. My husband, also a writer, works downstairs at the opposite end of the house. So I feel safe and physically isolated when I write.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Janyce: Thankfully, I haven’t had a day job in years. Last job was as a clerk for Time, Inc. I live modestly.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Janyce: Greatest achievement is having written three novels, so far. I was told in workshop, at one of the art colonies I attended, that I was writing a novel. Before that I’d not had the nerve or confidence to think I could write a novel. Others convinced me I could.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Janyce: I’d take tea with Charlotte Bronte because she was such a supreme storyteller. Likewise, Louise Erdrich. I’d like to have sat at a Paris café with Mavis Gallant. I’d gladly sit at the knee of Dostoyevsky. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man had a profound effect on me in my late teens; I’d like to thank him. Alice Munro, Michael Ondaatje, Jean Ryhs of Good Morning Midnight, any Orhan Pamuk book. The list goes on…

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Janyce: Success that I have been able to write well, to find a voice that turned out to be mine.

THE DETECTIVE’S GARDEN: A Love Story and Meditation on Murder

Brooklyn, 1995: hipsters are moving in, developers smell blood, and a housing bubble begins that will turn a sleepy semi-industrial waterfront into towers of glass and steel. Ex-homicide Detective Emil Milosec figures he’s safe in his garden, until a grim discovery in the pepper patch one hot June morning raises the possibility of real estate terrorists. He’d thought he was done detecting iniquity but now he’s back on a case. Originally from Slovenia, he’s the perennial outsider. So was his wife, the beauty from Trieste, Elena Morandi, who has died too young, taking her secrets with her. A cast of locals flavors the story, but it’s the ex-cop’s journey into his own darkness that makes the tale. A heat wave, a gun, a smattering of science: A bit of Shakespeare, tablespoons of the Old Testament, and hints of Sophocles yield a contemplative, noirish brew.

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Thanks for sharing your story premise and a bit about your writing process, Janyce!

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!

Martha Washington Slept Here: Rockingham #history #Princeton #NewJersey #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

The last of the war-time headquarters was in Princeton, New Jersey, or more precisely Rocky Hill, at a house known as Rockingham. According to the Rockingham site, the house was built around 1710 with two rooms and a lean-to. Judge John Berrien added on to the house in the 1760s, making the house first known as the Berrien Mansion. The original location of the house had it on a hill overlooking a river, but it has been moved several times to its current location.

George managed the final tasks of the army over several month in 1783. In fact he wrote to his nephew George Augustine Washington the following on August 18, 1783 from Newburgh: “I shall set off for Princeton tomorrow… I carry my baggage with me, it being the desire of the Congress that I should remain till the arrival of the Definitive Treaty…which…is every day expected.” He had no idea just how long he’d be cooling his heals upon his arrival, but from reading his correspondence during this period of time he became evermore antsy for the treaty to arrive so he could finally put finish to the war and go home to his beloved Mount Vernon. He had rarely visited his home over the duration of the hostilities beginning in June 1775 when he left for the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Remember from last week’s post that he had to move on to this location even though Martha was still laid up with a fever back in Newburgh, NY, until she recovered in late August 1783. When she arrived at Rockingham, she found a two-story clapboard house overlooking a river. My hubby and I were fortunate to be able to tour the home with the caretaker and ask questions. Martha’s bedchamber, he said, was upstairs while George slept downstairs. I’m not sure I believe that, though, since the couple was very close and loved each other. The stairs leading to the second floor were rather narrow and steep, so I find it unlikely she’d want to have to traverse them frequently. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, but the house is furnished with reproductions of furniture and furnishings of Washington’s time spent there.

On October 31, 1783, George Washington and Congress were informed of the signing of the final treaty declaring that the American States were now independent from Britain. Can you imagine the huge sigh of relief he must have let it out at such wonderful news? He could finally go home! Only not just yet. There were a couple more details that had to be handled. It was at Rockingham that George wrote the Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States, which were delivered to the Continental Army at West Point, and probably his farewell speech he gave on his way home to Virginia.

Martha left for Mount Vernon early in November while George stayed behind. On December 4, 1783, he officially bid farewell from his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. Then he headed south, first stopping for a time in Philadelphia to wrap up personal and public affairs. But while he longed to be home, he understood his role in the new country’s future. In a letter to John Ewing dated December 13, 1783, from Philadelphia he wrote: “Tho the military Scene is now closed, and I am hastening with unspeakable delight to the still and placid walks of domestic Life; yet even there will my Country’s happiness be ever nearest to my heart—and, while I cherish the fond idea, I shall retain a pleasing remembrance of the able support the Public has often received from the learned Professions; whose prosperity is so essential to the preservation of the Liberties, as well as the augmentation of the happiness & glory of this extensive Empire.” Keep in mind Martha was probably anxiously awaiting him at Mount Vernon by this time.

I find it very interesting that there are no letters from Martha during this entire period. I would think she corresponded with her family and friends at least occasionally, but none are included in the compiled collection of her papers I have on hand. Was she busy with household concerns or ill? I don’t know. It’s only my speculation. I would hope that George had written to her as well, though if you recall one of the things Martha did before she died was to burn all but a few letters between her and George.

He wrote at least a dozen letters while in Philadelphia before telling George Clinton on December 15, 1783, “I am within a few Minutes of setting off for Virginia—passing thro’ Annapolis—where I shall stay two or three days only…”

He passed through Wilmington, then Baltimore, and finally stopped in Annapolis, Maryland, by the 20th of December to officially resign his commission to quash any rumors that he wanted to reign as king. One of my sources claims that Martha went to Annapolis to hear the speech. She might have as her son’s wife’s family lived in that area and she may have wanted to visit with them. But after being on the road so long, I have my doubts that she’d want to travel during December.

In George’s correspondence online his official resignation is dated December 23, 1783 in which he opens with, “The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.” In a subsequent letter he noted that the resignation went into effect at twelve that day. You can read his Address to Congress on the day of his resignation, too.

His satisfaction and relief are so apparent in every letter of his that I read it’s obvious to me he wanted nothing more than to retire to private life again. He and Martha looked forward to spending quiet days at Mount Vernon entertaining their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Out of the public eye and safe from any further hostilities or vitriol.

And yet we all know how well that worked out, right?

In case you’ve missed the other posts, I’ve covered these sites:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.

Back to Pennsylvania and the John Penn House in Philadelphia from 1781-1782.

Next to last war-time HQ was at Newburgh, NY during 1782-1783.

That wraps up my Martha Washington Slept Here series of the American Revolution headquarters sites.

Until next time, may your reading take you many places!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting to know Michael J. Coffino #author #attorney #storyteller #fiction #ghostwriter

My guest today has quite a background to share with us, one that informed his debut novel. But first let’s look at author Michael J. Coffino’s bio and then talk to him about what inspired him to write his first novel.

Before becoming a full-time author, ghostwriter, and freelance editor, Michael Coffino had two parallel careers in the San Francisco Bay Area: one in the courtroom, the other in the gymnasium. He was a business litigation and trial attorney and legal writing instructor for four decades and concurrently devoted twenty-five years as a basketball coach, primarily at the high school level.

He has authored or co-authored nine books, including Truth Is in the House, his debut novel (Köehler Books, July 2021).

Michael grew up in the Mott Haven and Highbridge neighborhoods of the Bronx. He earned a BS in Education from the City University of New York, and in 1976 moved to California, where he earned a JD degree from the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law.

Michael plays guitar, holds a black belt in karate, is a workout junkie, hikes regularly in the hills and mountains of California and Colorado, and plays pickleball. He lives in Marin County, California, and has two adult sons, both teachers and basketball coaches.

Author Social Links: Website * Instagram * Facebook

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

Michael: I set out to write a work of fiction to honor and celebrate my Bronx upbringing. I thrived growing up in the Bronx and remained proud of how we kids built a subculture removed from the clutches of traditional institutions like school, church, and family. My plan was to collect anecdotes from childhood friends and build a narrative from there.

But the first interviews I did propelled me down a different path after learning about a twin-homicide that resulted from a racial confrontation in a local neighborhood bar. I was in the military when it happened, and by the time I got discharged, my family had moved to another part of the Bronx. It took fifty years for me to learn of the tragedy, which took the lives of two boys I knew. I fixated on the event and began to explore a narrative about race.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Michael: Both main characters—Jaylen Jackson and Jimmy O’Farrell—are composites of different people in my life and each undertakes a journey to try to identify their core values and who they can be. Whether either can develop fully or mostly, and live enough to do so, is a subtext of the narrative.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Michael: Once I learned about the explosive tragedy at the local neighborhood bar, I dug deeper and came across a gang attack in a nearby neighborhood, also the product of racial tensions. I decided then to connect the two disparate events using two main characters—one white, the other black—as vehicles to explore the racial themes. From there, the book grew, more organically than by design.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Michael: It might seem counterintuitive but as between Jimmy and Jaylen, I found myself understanding Jaylen better and connecting with him easier. Some might find that odd, a white man connecting more with the black character than the white. But during my most conscientious years growing up in the Bronx, when my neighborhood had become integrated, I hung out with many guys reflected in the Jaylen character. I also think I instinctively conjured up more empathy for Jaylen Jackson; down deep I wanted to know him better. That is not to say I didn’t know or relate to Jimmy O’Farrell. I knew lots of “Jimmy O’Farrells” growing up. But the emotional engagement I had between the two was different.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Michael: I interviewed thirty people for anecdotes, inspiration, and factual authenticity—among them, former Bronx residents, educators, journalists, attorneys, firemen, law enforcement, medical personnel, and US military war veterans. Most I didn’t know; they were either referred to me or found via an internet search.

I also read countless books and watched countless videos and documentaries to pinpoint historical details and provide additional support for story authenticity. I didn’t want readers to suspend belief. I wanted them to identify with the time, place, and the emotive power of the narrative and its historical context.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Michael: Well, if my computer draft file is any guide, about twenty in varying degrees, although in terms of full-length rewrites, I’d guess about five to seven.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Michael: It took less than a year, probably about 8-10 months, which includes working on other projects and servicing a few law clients. I tend to finish manuscripts in that time frame, especially memoir, which I co-author and ghostwrite for clients. I typically have three full manuscript projects going on at once. I like the balance of different projects. It keeps me fresh and mentally engaged.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Michael: I do have a ritual. I rise typically between 5 and 6 am (and sometimes earlier), make coffee, massage my hands with Melt therapy balls, and read for thirty minutes or so to awaken my mind. After reading, I start writing, typically until about 8:30 when I turn to my exercise of the day, whether a hike, playing pickleball, weights, or doing core work on a mat. After exercise, I return to the keyboard and write until late afternoon, in the range of 5 pm. Throughout the writing sessions, I take breaks whenever I feel the onset of diminished concentration.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Michael: I plead guilty. Some of my knee-jerk usages include: “indeed,” “embrace,” “what’s more,” “to be sure,” and “albeit,” mostly stubborn hangovers from law practice.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Michael: My children, two adult young men. They are wise beyond their years and have an unabashed tendency to pepper me with reality checks. Beyond them, I have always had deep admiration for George Carlin and Muhammed Ali, Carlin for his unapologetic irreverence and incisive wit, and Ali for his courage and understated brilliance.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Michael: I primarily write on a PC at a desk in a home office. When traveling, or needing a change of pace at a café, I write on my laptop. When not revising on the screen, with pen on paper, I relocate to my dining room table. I reserve my reading for two large comfortable chairs in my home, one in the living room and the other in the bedroom.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Michael: Writing and editing constitute my day job, although I still practice law here and there. I enjoy the legal work—it is intellectually challenging and helps pay the bills. But it doesn’t compare to the thrill of writing professionally.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Michael: I didn’t become a fulltime writer until five years ago. Since then, I have written nine books, some co-authored or ghostwritten. While I am immensely proud of Truth Is in the House, my early collective body of work—spread across several genres—is my greatest achievement (so far).

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Michael: Of the writers I admire, Oscar Wilde is at the top of the leader board. But, alas, he is long gone. To have sat with him, and engaged his intellect and sardonic edge, would have been a thrill. Today, it would have to be Richard Russo. Of all the fiction writers I’ve read, Russo has the most developed ability to capture the nuances of human imperfection and frailty in storytelling. I would cherish discussing character development, dialogue, and scene creation with him.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Michael: As it is for many authors, monetizing a writing career is no small feat. Long-term traditional success from a financial standpoint would of course be nice. But more than that, success to me as a writer means turning out stories on a consistent basis that provoke and entertain a wide berth of audience. Storytelling is a delightful activity, and to do it in a way that pleases others, that makes them cry, laugh, or otherwise emotionally engages them, would be the pinnacle of writing success.

As a young boy in the late 1950s, Jimmy O’Farrell emigrates with his family from Ireland to Manhattan to bask in the dawn of a new life. Thousands of miles away, the family of Jaylen Jackson seeks to build a life amid Jim Crow culture in Mississippi. Struggling to come of age in a racially divisive world, both boys as teenagers suffer separate horrific tragedies that shape their characters and life missions. Jimmy seeks to define what it means to stand for someone when the chips are down, while Jaylen embarks on a journey to gain respect beyond the color of his skin.

Fleeing the past, both families land in neighboring Bronx communities in the 1960s, where Jimmy and Jaylen’s lives first intersect on the basketball court and then in the Vietnam jungle. Repeatedly tested as men of different races, their friendship later faces its toughest challenge outside a Bronx bar—with fatal consequences.

Truth Is in the House is an epic and provocative tale that plumbs historical and modern racial themes and explores redemption, forgiveness, and the power of connection through the human spirit.

Buy Links: Amazon * B&N

Sounds like a very powerful story, Michael. Thanks so much for bringing the story and its themes to our attention today.

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!

Martha Washington Slept Here: Hasbrouck House in Newburgh #history #NewYork #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

The next stop on the Martha Washington Slept Here tour is in Newburgh, New York, the headquarters from March 1782 through around July 1783. The Hasbrouck House had a good view of the Hudson River and was conveniently located near town. George and Martha left Philadelphia in late March 1782 to move the HQ to this location, which was apparently a very tight fit for George’s household and “family”—the military aides supporting him.

In July 1782 Martha left New York to go home to Mount Vernon. On the way through Pennsylvania, the Assembly presented her with a coach and when she arrived back in Virginia, the city of Williamsburg gave her gold medals and the freedom of the city. Keep in mind that at this point in the American Revolution the war was practically over, though skirmishes continued in various places and Charleston was still besieged by the British. (The British left Charleston mid-December 1782, an event depicted in my A More Perfect Union historical romance series at the end of Samantha’s Secret (#3). The lavish gifts bestowed on Martha showed the people’s great esteem of her and her husband in the effort to win freedom for the country.

George stayed in Newburgh, eventually realizing he wasn’t going to be able to go home as he’d hoped. In October, he wrote to Martha asking her to return to the camp. So in November, she got in her coach and headed north. Little did she realize just how long she’d be away from home! Naturally, upon her return to camp she slipped into familiar routines of socializing, sewing, and she reportedly even planted a garden.

In February 1783, they marked the fifth anniversary of alliance with France by George pardoning all military prisoners. I suspect Martha attended the release or at least was in the room when the freed prisoners came to thank George. I think she’d want to celebrate along with her husband in every way possible on such an auspicious day.

It wasn’t until April 18 that the day’s General Orders announced the cessation of hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain. Only then could George begin the work involved in ending the army’s engagement and sending the enlisted men and officers home. That effort would take several months and include another change of the headquarters location.

But that summer of 1783 Martha became very ill with a fever. While she suffered and slowly recovered, George was forced to move the headquarters to New Jersey. From what I’ve read of her illness, she seemed to suffer a great deal over the hot summer months. As soon as she was well enough in late August, Martha also moved to New Jersey, the topic of next week’s post.

In case you’ve missed the earlier posts, so far I’ve covered these camps:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.

Back to Pennsylvania and the John Penn House in Philadelphia from 1781-1782.

I often find myself thinking about the life Martha led and how different it must have wound up being from what she’d imagined as a girl growing up on a middling plantation. She went from obscurity to renowned and reverenced by a nation. What a concept, eh?

Until next time, may your reading take you many places!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting to know Michael Meyer #author #storyteller #action #adventure #crime #thriller #fiction

Please help me welcome a self-proclaimed storyteller, Michael Meyer, who found the courage to write a book and then another. Welcome, Michael! Let’s listen to what he has to say about his background and then we’ll find out more about his book.

I was a sales and marketing professional in the hospitality industry for more than forty years, working primarily with upscale properties/companies. I dabbled with writing in college; however, I had neither the money nor the patience to pursue a college education. I left school and moved to Key Largo to help support our family (more on that later). It was there I realized what a wild, funky, and fantastic world was available to provide education, entertainment, and enrichment in all of its splendor, pain, and madness.

I am not an author as much as a storyteller. Throughout my life, I have met many veterans of many wars. I have worked with them and had the pleasure of supporting them and their families through Serving Our Troops – a local group of Saint Paul people who serve the troops and their families a meal when they deploy and midway through their tour, 100% free.

As a result, I have heard their stories, opinions, and learned for good or bad war changes everyone. Exit Strategy offers a glimpse into two divergent psyches and interweaves today’s most challenging issues. It is the first of three, with Brian Kelly serving as the protagonist. I hope people enjoy it.

Author Social Links: Twitter

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

Michael: It was something I had rolling around in my head, and eventually, I had to put it on paper.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Michael: Brian Kelly, he is parts (good and bad) of me and others who have played a role in my life thus far.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Michael: I was terminated from a former employer after leaving a previous employer where I had worked for twelve years. The previous employer was a friend and mentor, but I felt my contributions were being taken for granted and spinning my wheels. He died not long after I left.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Michael: The Olsens, because they were pure fiction. They were created from several people’s personality characteristics, both good and bad, yet no one I actually knew. I wanted Jenny to be complex. Part girl next door, part vamp, part loving wife, and one hundred percent a bad-assed combat vet. Born of the significant personal trauma experienced during her tour in Iraq.

I also enjoyed creating Carmen, who was also one hundred percent pure fiction. I enjoyed giving her a fascinating backstory, which I further developed in the sequel.

General Knapp was based on several people. I wanted him to be crass, yet, you could see him being a good guy. Then he says or does something so despicable, you want to see him meet his end.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Michael: I needed to research a lot of geography, weaponry, and psychology as well as the military because I have never served. I spoke with many friends who had served, not as an interview, but as they retold stories. You can see the pain, horror, comradery as they retell their memories.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Michael: It’s my first book, and my first and worst mistake was once I started writing, the story came to me pretty quickly, so I felt compelled to get it on paper. As if it would disappear. Converting it to something that resembled English was tough because I had so many errors. I hired an editor, a total waste of money. I gave it to my two daughters, both graduates of mass com and journalism from Big Ten universities, who eventually began editing each other’s edits. At one point,  I had ten drafts; finally, I started on page one and rewrote the entire manuscript using an outline or storyboard and the character list.

In my second book, I took my time,  created an outline for each chapter, developed the characters in advance, and bought Grammarly Pro!!!!!

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you?

Michael: Seven years! My god, I hope not. Actually, my second came together in three years, but I was still working full-time and editing the first one.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Michael: None, that I’m aware of.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Michael: He/she “sat forward, leaned back,” also “as a result/resulting”

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Michael: My mother, she raised nineteen of us and also wrote. She was published in magazines and the Cincinnati Enquirer but never attempted a novel. It was her dream; I dedicated Exit Strategy to her.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Michael: We have a three-season porch with an adjoining deck; I use those until the winter gets too cold.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Michael: I am winding down my hospitality industry career. Currently consulting for the company I mentioned earlier. I have loved every minute of it. The hotel/resort sales business is one of the few where you live like a millionaire on someone else’s budget. I worked for a five-star resort in the Keys, moved to Minnesota (after hurricane Andrew), and worked for the top upscale hospitality company I could find. Traveled the country, the Caribbean, and Central America and had an absolute blast.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Michael: Book 1 – I have always been a good storyteller, but to actually decide to write a manuscript and sit down and do it. Going through all of the edits, making countless mistakes, going through numerous rejections (more than 500), and finally, having the gall, courage, the chutzpah to self-publis has been a monumental achievement.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Michael: Ernst Hemmingway, he was just a cool guy. He went to bull fights, fished the Keys, hung out in Key West, and wrote like a poet warrior. We have so many things in common, as I have done many of those same things. I would love to hang-out for one day. Grisham would be another. Clancey is a good storyteller but an absolute jackass. Flynn was a good guy, lived near-by, and told me to go for it! May he rest in peace.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Michael: First, I laugh, as I don’t have a writing career YET! Even so, I have already enjoyed success. I started doing this because when I regaled people with stories, or they read my articles in industry pubs, they would say you need to write a book. So I did. Then people read it, and they told me grammar aside, it was terrific. When is the sequel? Not out of consideration, but they truly meant it. That they enjoyed and truly wanted to know what happens next is my definition of success – everything else is gravy.

Exit Strategy begins with one of today’s most vexing problems, mass shootings, this one taking place at an elementary school on the first day of the new school year. Immediately, law enforcement from throughout three counties descends upon the school, joined by local FBI Special Agent John Regal. Over the next several hours, they work to evacuate the students and reunite them with their families.

The perpetrators are introduced during a charity golf tournament that took place a week earlier. It is here where we learn that nothing is really as it seems. While the shooting is taking place, a local racetrack casino is robbed of $50M, setting up a hunt for suspects that encompasses the United States, Caribbean, and Australia, leading to a conclusion that will literally blow you away and set up the sequel.

Nearly all of the main characters are veterans of the last sixty years of war. The book delves into the travesties endured, and how it shapes the futures of each character. It’s told in the third person and is a quick read at 250 pages.

Buy Links: * Apple * B&N * Amazon

Thanks for stopping by and sharing the inspiration of your story and a glimpse at your writing process, Michael.

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!