How Charm-ing! Choosing symbolic charms for #CharmedAgainstAllOdds #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #magic #charms #amreading #amwriting #books

Every story I write presents a new challenge. Some are involve defining unique characters, others unique settings or time periods. But in Charmed Against All Odds I gave myself a task like never before. I didn’t actually realize the degree of difficulty I’d assigned myself either. Let me explain…

In Charmed, Roxie and Leo are reunited. Great. A simple second chance at love story, right? Yes and no. What made it complex is that I needed to delve deeply into their young love story, the one when they were in high school before they had a disagreement so huge they split up. Then I also had chosen to have them go on a kind of treasure hunt, looking for enchanted charms to assemble on a bracelet. I really loved that concept! It’s the reverse of something I pondered years ago when going through my deceased beloved mother-in-law’s jewelry and came across a charm bracelet with charms I didn’t know the story behind. I recognized most of them, but then there were a few that raised my eyebrows… But that’s a story for another day.

Having identified the concept of a search for charms, you may have guessed what happened next. The big question then proved to be the one that caused the most work. Which charms and what is the story behind each of them? I had to relive Roxie and Leo’s teenage romance and reflect the growth of their love for each other through the back story and the choice for each charm they searched for. A symbol of where and when they fell in love.

It took several days to gather everything to be able to write their dual love story: the past and the present romances plus the specific charms. It was a good exercise to stretch my creativity and really write something unique. This story was a finalist in the Ind’Tale’s Rone Awards last year. I strive to bring something new and fresh to each story I write so my readers are entertained and so that I’m continuing to grow as a writer.

I’ve blogged before about each of the charms I chose, so if you’re curious about the reasons for each you can hop over to those posts. I’ll share the links below.

The Charms in order of the hunt:

#1: Book

#2: Friends

#3: Handshake 

#4: Theater masks

#5: Arrow

#6: Feather

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.

Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.

But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

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Getting to know Julia O. Greene #Author #Fiction #Fantasy #Speculative #Contemporary #Romance

Today’s guest author hails from the Midwest and brings a fresh perspective to her stories. Please help me welcome Julia O. Greene to the interview hot seat! Take a peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her.

Julia O. Greene is a pen name for Susan Stradiotto who is typically a fantasy and speculative fiction author. As the material she writes doesn’t serve the romance audience, she decided to pay tribute to her grandmother in her contemporary fiction. Susan lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a crazy Bernese Mountain Dog named Delaunay. Stories of all kinds are her passion, and she has always been a voracious reader, lover of worlds, and hoarder of books. Her infatuation with well-developed characters sometimes rivals relationships with real people.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Julia: I’ve been a writer all my life but became serious about writing as a career in 2017.

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

Julia: This is a hard question to answer because I’ve been passionate about reading and writing ever since I can recall. But if pressed to say when I started honing the skill, I’d go with 2017.

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

Julia: There are several from different genres.

  • From women’s fiction, Lianne Moriarty.
  • From paranormal romance, J.R. Ward.
  • From fantasy: Jacqueline Carey and N.K. Jemesin.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Julia: In the eleventh grade, my English teacher challenged us to go all out on a creative writing assignment, and I believe that’s what started my love of storytelling.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Julia: Fantasy with tons of worldbuilding. My real inspiration here was a trip I took to Italy and Greece.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Julia: Fantasy and Romance, or really anything with a happy ending. While I adore conflict in fiction, I want the resolution to be good for my main characters. This life is so short, I really feel people need to seek out their happiness.

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

Julia: I’d have to say, “The Brute-Force Method.” I wrote, looked for feedback, researched the feedback I received, purchased craft books, and wrote some more. I learn every time I receive an edit back or feedback from a critique. Ongoing honing and learning are something that really jazzes me up about the process of writing.

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

Julia: The timeline for getting a book to market and what it means to adequately market a book. I’ve learned a ton since I published my first book in 2018, and it’s getting more and more fluid. I actually took a year off from publishing just to build a backlog of content so that I can continue writing while publishing and not lose that momentum.

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

Julia: The favorites I mentioned above plus Stephanie Meyer. I wrote a fan fiction about Alice and Jasper after reading the Twilight series. That, however, will never see the light of day.

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

Julia: When I wrote An Orchid Falls, it was inspired by a friend who actually went through a divorce. My aim was to give her the happy ending she deserved, even if it was in a fictional form.

Divorced. Single Mother.

Words that Calli never imagined she’d use to describe herself, but today, she would sign those fateful papers and bring the words to life—her life. Her career is going well enough. With the financial arrangements in the decree, she’d be able to maintain a solid middle-class status. Her plans for the future are set…keep on keeping on. Maybe one day, her mother could accept her divorce. Maybe one day she’d be comfortable alone. Maybe one day, her life would turn out how it was supposed to be with Bennett. But for today, she’d go to happy hour and celebrate her freedom with her friends.

The variable Calli’s calculations don’t include: restaurateur, Dominic Moretti.

Food. Fitness.

The two pleasures in life that Dom thrives upon. Moretti’s, his first love, his upscale flagship restaurant in Minneapolis, has grown to one of the most in-demand venues in the Twin Cities. When he isn’t traveling for business, he enjoys overseeing the floor as his alter-ego: restaurant manager, Nic Moore. In his other foodie ventures, he operates as the better-known Dom of The Dinner Shark on Food Network. All work and very little play keep his accounts bulging at the seams, and he thoroughly enjoys a city-boy bachelor’s lifestyle.

The secret ingredient he has yet to factor into his perfect recipe: Callista Lindley.

Excerpt:

Not stepping out of his arms, she turned her head and looked up at him with her big, deep browns—eyes he could lose himself in for hours if it weren’t for the pull of her lips. He leaned in and kissed her softly. “Merry Christmas.”

Buon Natale,” answered Calli.

Dom raised a brow. “Joyeux Nöel.”

Feliz Navidad.”

Fröhliche Weihnachten.”

Calli chewed the inside of her lip and looked around, searching with her eyes. A light went on. “Felicem natalem Christi.”

Dom dropped back his head and laughed. Coming back face-to-face, he asked, “Latin?”

“What can I say, four years in high school and two in college. Oh, I have one more. Feliz Natal.

“Ah, yes. Portuguese. I only know two more, so you almost had me. God jul?” He phrased as a question to see if she could guess.

She pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Norwegian. Come on, living in Minnesota, you never learned that one?”

“Nope, sorry.”

“And . . . Glædelig Jul, Danish.”

“I guess you win.”

“But you have the romance languages, hands down. Speaking of . . . ” He brushed her hair away from her neck, inhaled her floral-vanilla scent, and kissed under her ear.

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Sounds like a delightful story! I may be a bit biased since my cat’s name is Calli, short for Calliope though. Thanks for sharing with us, Julia!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

What’s in a Name (or Title)? #historical #HistFic #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #amwriting #books

Choosing the title for a book is a challenge for many authors. I know I wrestle with many options before finally deciding one suits the story. I have come to the point in my career where I choose the name of a book based on my objectives for it as well as the content of the story. The titles for the American Revolution historical romance series I wrote are one case in point.

I tried on three or four different sets of titles for those books before landing on the final ones. They parallel in structure and in content, too. The A More Perfect Union series includes Elizabeth’s Hope (novella), Book 1 Emily’s Vow, #2 Amy’s Choice, #3 Samantha’s Secret, and #4 Evelyn’s Promise. From the titles you know who the main heroine is and the theme of the story. These stories are closely coupled, though you can read them individually and still enjoy the story. In fact the first three novels span October to December 1782. Evelyn’s Promise picks up in January 1783 and continues through the spring. Since the stories are so connected, it makes sense to have the titles also be linked. (In case you’re curious, another set of titles I liked but didn’t choose for the first three novels was for Book 1 Sunlight and Sacrifice, #2 Moonlight and Muskets, and #3 Starlight and Stitches. They include one set of themes and some nice alliteration but they didn’t feel right to me.)

For my paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, I purposely did not make the titles parallel in any way. When I started the series I didn’t know exactly how many stories it would embrace. But I want readers to get the sense that they are individual stories just from their titles. From their titles, I want the reader to have an inkling as to the paranormal aspect of the story and the main theme as well. Most of the titles in this series came easily. Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, and the last one Charmed Against All Odds. But the fourth book’s title was a tussle. Veiled Visions of Love went through many iterations and word swapping before I settled on it.

Let’s look a bit closer at each title in that series so you can see my thought process at work.

Undying Love is about a haunted plantation, Twin Oaks, and Meredith’s personal haunting by the memory of her dead husband and child and how she comes to terms with her grief. Her never-ending love for them both but also the Lady in Blue’s love for her family.

Haunted Melody is also set in Twin Oaks, with a different ghost this time, and Paulette’s rediscovery of her love of singing. There are many songs referenced in the story, too.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow was a bit trickier. It’s about a geologist (the stone part) and a witch who can heal through her hands (the touch part) and is a nod to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. The concept of the enchanted hollow or valley comes from an old Irish myth I read years ago, too. Essentially, a beautiful woman is enchanted to look like a hag until she learns humility. When a traveler offers her something to make her feel better, only then is she released from the spell. The geologist and healer are trapped in Raven Hollow until they can break the spell holding them there.

Veiled Visions of Love is about a psychic woman who can read others emotions and feelings except for the man she falls in love with. Thus her sight of him is “veiled” or obscured. But I had played with so many other words for “hidden” or “obscured” that just didn’t sound right. I love the alliteration in the final title but it took some time to finally get there.

Charmed Against All Odds came to me while driving home from a writers’ retreat in the northern mountains of Alabama. The song Against All Odds was playing on the radio, and the lyrics described the situation in my story almost perfectly. The lover who returns but is afraid of being rejected only to be welcomed by his ex-lover. The “charmed” part comes from the theme of an enchanted charm bracelet and the charms that the couple must locate to assemble the set and learn their true destiny.

I have two standalone titles as well. Both are historical fiction but in very different time periods. The first is Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel, set in the 18th century in Virginia and other states. This story is told from Martha Washington’s point of view, the only novel I’ve ever written in first person. It tells about how she learned what she needed to know in order to become the woman who would support George Washington’s roles as general and then first president.

The second historical fiction title is Notes of Love and War, set during World War Two in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an epistolary style novel, including letters and telegrams, but the term “notes” also refers to the fact that the main character is a musician and music critic. She is only given that role after the male music critic was drafted to fight in the war.

I think from this discussion you can get a good idea of my process for choosing the titles for my stories. Hopefully, as you read my books you’ll be able to discern the basis for the titles, too.

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

His desire for a home led him straight to her heart…

She craves more. More adventure. More drama. More excitement. Beth Golden knows without a doubt that she’ll die of boredom working in the family bookstore in small town Roseville. She’s resigned to her fate. Until a handsome biker rolls into town with an air of confidence and mystery. When he introduces her to a whole new world of daring and romance, she’s captivated by a lifestyle filled with unexpected and dangerous surprises.

Mitch Sawyer has one more job to complete before he can finally settle down. He has lived all over the world and wants nothing more than to have his own home with a wife and family. A dream he’ll be able to afford after this final airplane repo job when he can resign his Air Force commission. He reluctantly allows Beth, the sexy and entrancing book lover, to help him by becoming an undercover biker chick. Only Beth’s hunger for excitement endangers both herself and an innocent bystander.

Can he protect the woman and young boy—and his heart—before it’s too late?

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Southern Storms Spring into Undying Love #SecretsOfRoseville #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #books

Once you live through a scary event it can really color how you view related occurrences for the rest of your life. I’m speaking specifically about the April 2011 swarm of tornadoes that swept across northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. Most of the damage occurred in northern Alabama, but an F0 took out a pine tree next to our farm house in southcentral Tennessee. We lost power for the day, but it was back by dinner time. Hubby and I left our teenage children at home and went to work, where we spent most of the morning in the storm shelters in the basement of our respective office buildings. Listening to tornado sirens going off every so often all the time. Watching the weathermen/women track the multiple tornadoes sweeping across the state. I can’t tell you how concerned I was that we’d left our very capable, nearly adult teens at home alone. We did touch base with them via phone, of course. They were fine. I was the one having the issues!

When there was a break in the chain of storms, the powers that be let us out of the shelters. I picked up my hubby at his office and we headed home. We stopped on the way to pick up batteries and ice but then went straight home. It was a long day, let me tell you! Hubby finally made a dash to the pizza place to pick up our dinner, but raced a tornado warning home. Thankfully, it veered away from our house. By the time he got home, the power came back on. We were lucky, but Alabama was not. Significant damage was done to the power grid, which left the northern region without power for at least a week. Which meant we couldn’t go to work and since we didn’t bring our work laptops home, couldn’t work from home either. Since we lived in Tennessee we had power, but people just south of us in Alabama—a mere half mile away—did not.

At that time, the spring of 2011, my dad was still alive and living in an assisted living facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Because we were not residents, we could not go visit him because they’d instituted a curfew and you had to prove residency in order to enter any given area. He was barely able to talk on the phone, but I could call the nurses and they would take a phone to him so I could check in with him. It was difficult, but I knew it would only be for a short period of time. That experience gave me some measure of insight into how care givers and family dealt with not being able to see their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that must have been very, very difficult!

So what does this have to do with my stories? Well, when I was writing Undying Love (originally titled Traces when first released in April 2014) I included a tornado hitting the Twin Oaks plantation since it’s set in the spring of the year and in Tennessee. Actually, the fictional town of Roseville is modeled on the small town of Fayetteville, Tennessee, near where I lived then. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:


The double front doors stood open, creating a picturesque backdrop to the array of delicious foods. Grizabella had been relegated to Meredith’s room until the luncheon ended so Meredith wouldn’t worry about her venturing outside, checking out the food, or tripping someone. Before very long, the crowd thinned. The dark storm clouds continued to gather overhead, lightning fracturing the sky. Finally, the last of the mourners paid their condolences, ate their last mouthful, and drove away. The thunder and lightning drew nearer, carried by the increasing wind whipping through the trees and blowing the tall grass so it danced under the onslaught.

“Quite a view from here.” Max had sneaked up on her so quietly she hadn’t heard even a floorboard creak.

“I’ve always loved being on the porch, drawn to it for reasons I only now understand.” She gazed out over the vista, the rolling hills boasting copses of trees, the lake churning in the wind, the road winding its way across the valley and disappearing to the left. The sky turned from dark gray to silver with a green cast, as though growing ill from its own increasing ferocity. She turned away from the storm to contemplate Max, drawn to him, too, for very different reasons. Reasons she must deny herself in order to protect them both. He’s my lawyer, not my lover. “I guess it’s time for you to head to town for the vote, right?”

His expression turned grim. “Why are you pushing me away?”

Before she could formulate a response, the tornado siren blared at the same time the weather radio sounded. Together, they gaped out over the valley in time to see the funnel cloud come into view and take aim on Twin Oaks.

“Oh no!” Meredith cried. “Where’s everybody? We need to take cover.”

“Get down to the basement,” Max said. “I’ll get the cat. Go!”

“I’ll find everyone.” She closed the double doors and then raced down the hall, searching for her family.

They found her, emerging into the hallway from side rooms as she ran toward the kitchen. Brock’s stalwart expression calmed Meredith’s rising panic. Her mother and sister exhibited concern but not fear.

“The tornado is coming this way. Go to the cellar. Now!” She shooed them before her, aware of Max’s heavy footsteps above as he hurried to retrieve her cat.

His offer to find Grizabella and keep her safe warmed Meredith’s heart. His longer stride made it faster for him to retrieve the cat than for Meredith. As long as he hurried, they’d all make it to the safety of the storm shelter.


It seemed logical to include the tornado but little did I realize I was tempting fate!

I set up a Facebook launch party event with other authors helping me celebrate the release of then Traces in April 2014. Note it’s the same month as when the swarm of tornadoes attacked three years earlier. It was nearly the same day of the month, too. That should have forewarned me but did I listen? Um, nope. I carried on, obliviously. Until the afternoon of the release party brought with it severe weather in the form of thunderstorms and, you guessed it, tornado warnings!

I managed to stay online for this virtual book launch through most of the planned event. Then we lost power so I was unable to interact with the partiers any longer. But I had told my co-hosts that I might lose power due to impending storms so they were able to pick up the party ball and carry on. The next day I went back to the group event and let everyone know we were fine and to touch base with everyone who had been kind enough to attend my first romance book launch party. But wow! What a memory, eh?

If you haven’t read Undying Love yet, the Kindle edition is on sale for $.99 through April 7. Grab your copy today and enjoy!

Happy Easter! Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Meredith Reed inherits the family plantation after the tragic loss of her family and now must decide its future. Max Chandler has found his soul mate in beautiful yet aloof Meredith, but she threatens to destroy the property he cherishes. Can Meredith learn a lesson from the spectral lady in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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Getting to know Jenna Jaxon #author #historical #romance #HistoricalFiction #suspense #GetReading #Storytelling

My guest today shares several of my favorite things! She reads and writes historical romance/fiction, for one. See how many other similarities you see as we get to know Jenna Jaxon. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll dive in.

Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling author of historical romance, writing in a variety of time periods because she believes that passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories.

She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets–including two vocal cats, one almost silent cat, a Sharpei-beagle mix (Sharp-eagle), and a very curious bunny.

When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna equates her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jenna: I have been a writer practically since I learned to write. In third grade I penned my first masterpiece, a story called Miss Priss Finds A Kitten. I’ve loved writing ever since and relished all my creative writing assignments in high school and college. But I started writing romance in 2009, after six months on a gluten-free diet gave me a huge boost of creativity. I finished a book by Kathleen Woodiwiss titled Everlasting, set in my favorite period—Medieval—closed the book, said aloud, “I could write something like that,” sat down and began to write the book that would become Time Enough to Love. I haven’t looked back since.

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

Jenna: I began writing in 2009 and my first short story was published in 2011, followed by my first novel in 2012. But I consider myself always learning how to better my writing. Of course, I’ve been honing my writing skills all throughout my school days, including a 400-page dissertation for my Ph.D., so the short answer is “a very long time.”

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

Jenna: Two authors have had a great influence on my writing style. The first was Kathleen Woodiwiss, whose books I devoured as soon as I began to write. The second was Jo Beverley, whose books I stumbled upon while reading an anthology of romance novellas that included a novella by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Ms. Beverley’s works (and I read them all as quickly as I could get them) showed me the depth and breadth of characters and made me fall in love with the Georgian period.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Jenna: Strangely enough, I began writing because I became gluten intolerant. Once I realized I had to go on a gluten free diet in the summer of 2008, I was diligent about it. Six months into the diet I felt a huge rush of energy and creativity. At the time I was teaching theater and had already directed a production in the fall semester. So I had no creative outlet for all this energy to flow into. Reading Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Everlasting (her final romance) prompted me to begin writing and the rest, as we say, is history.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jenna: I jumped right into writing historical romance (I was a history major in college, so that was rather easy to decide.).

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

Jenna: A Countess of Convenience is the first book of my new Captivating Countesses series. Each book of the series will feature a heroine who first appeared in book 3 of my House of Pleasure series, Only A Mistress Will Do. One of the major secondary characters of the book was Dora Harper, who was betrothed to the hero (but does not end up marrying him). So many people wanted Dora to have her own book, I started thinking about her story soon after Mistress was published. But there were several other women in the book whose stories begged to be told, so I came up with the series title, and began creating romances for each of the four heroines. The heroine of A Countess of Convenience is Judith Harper, Dora’s sister-in-law who we hear is ill and bed-ridden in Mistress (we don’t actually see her at all). But Judith whispered to me that she had a story to tell, so I listened, and she became one of my countesses. Dora’s story will be the next in the series, the romance titled Almost A Countess.

Following a tragic accident, an unconscious Judith Harper is returned to her childhood home only to awaken to a horribly changed world: her husband is dead and her child has been given to her in-laws to raise.

As Judith regains her strength, she makes plans to reclaim her child, but to her dismay, the law of the land might not grant her guardianship unless she can show herself to be the better choice, which means she may need to marry again and quickly. Not only is Judith not ready for another husband, but she is newly widowed and will be part of a scandal should she wed before her year of mourning is up.

Still, if she hopes to have her daughter with her once more, she will have to make a marriage of convenience, but to whom?

John, Lord Haxby has loved Judith since childhood, and because of that he let her marry another eight years ago. Now she is free of her odious husband, he hopes he can persuade her that he is the only man who can make her truly happy. However, he discovers Judith is more than interested in Lord Fitzhugh, the man who saved her life. Can he stand aside once more and watch the love of his life make a grave mistake, or will he step up and show the woman he loves he is not a convenient solution to her problem, but the perfect solution?

Excerpt:

“Why have you come here?”

“To apologize to you, John.”

“Apologize for what, my dear?”

“For teasing you earlier.”

Of all the things that might’ve come from her lips, those words were the last ones he’d have imagined. “Teasing me?”

“When I asked if there was something I could do for you.” Her voice had dropped so he could scarcely hear her.

“Ah.” As if the fire suddenly blazed anew, sweat popped out on John’s brow and his cock surged forward as if eager to answer the question. “I believe I take your meaning. Think nothing of it, my dear.”

By God, he wished he could think of anything else.

“But I shouldn’t have flirted like that, John.” She stared directly into his eyes. “We have already discussed the…possible necessity of our marrying. In asking that, I may have given you an erroneous idea about my…feelings for you.” Abruptly, she dropped her gaze.

Of course, he’d assumed she’d meant an amorous tryst but had known the offer had come from her nervousness or a need for some kind of physical contact. But since she’d brought the subject up… “Then why did you ask, Judith?”

Her tiny gasp filled him with his usual protective instincts, and it was on the tip of his tongue to tell her not to worry, it was all forgotten. Yet something held him back, some part of him that wanted desperately to hear her answer.

“Because I wanted to know what it would be like to kiss you.”

Buy links: Amazon

It’s always intriguing to have an off-stage character start telling their story, so much so that you have to write the book. Thanks for sharing your book with us, Jenna!

Happy reading, folks!

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.

Reflecting on Army Camp Life on Guadalcanal #WWII #research #history #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

When my dad died about 10 years ago, I inherited his papers and photographs and other items important to him. He kept them in two metal trunks, one black and one green, plus a couple smaller plastic file/tote boxes. I treasure each one and have shared some of his things with other family members who also value them. One of the most interesting collections I came across recently is a set of Coconotes newsletters of life and activities in the army camp, the 20th Station Hospital, where he was stationed on Guadalcanal.

Front page of an issue of Coconotes camp newsletter

These newsletters are important and interesting to me because not only do they describe the concerns, events, USO performances, sports, etc., happening on the island but many of them actually list my dad as first the associate editor and then as editor of the publication. In reading through the contents, I could see how he put his mark on the contents as well. He served as associate editor June-July 1944, then as editor until the middle of November 1944. At that point, he was due to receive a direct commission so he was sent to Hawaii to receive it. (Only, the promotion fell through because they lost the paperwork. A story for another time, perhaps.)

Several of the papers include articles he wrote and sketches he drew to illustrate them. His signature is on the cartoons, too. I have always known my dad was also a writer. I’ve read many of his short stories, poems, limericks, and even a song he wrote and had put to music. If I knew he edited these newsletters, then I had totally forgotten until I rediscovered them in his trunks.

This article called “SNAFU” is not about what that term typically refers to, but is about the need to save money for the future rather than spending it now. Specifically, SNAFU means Spending Now Averts Future Use. I can well imagine he made that up, knowing his penchant for humor and for saving money. I also found a small notebook he carried while on the island that has a list of the money he sent home to his mother to save for him. So I know this topic was dear to him.

I mentioned that the contents changed under his leadership. The earlier newsletters included on the back page a list of jokes and cartoons. The later ones included a summary of the news at the various front lines of the war. Of particular note is the fact that a new copyright notification appears on the masthead and there is a note from the official censer that the soldiers could not mail the newsletter home. Having said that, it’s rather ironic that I found the set of newsletters in a large envelope my dad mailed home to his mother…

Mailing envelope from my dad to his mother

Are you curious about the kinds of things they did during the war? Well, the two or three Red Cross nurses hosted events throughout the week, including bingo, craft lessons, donut day, dances, and holiday dinners. In the October 17, 1944 issue, there is an announcement that the “20th to Celebrate Two Years Overseas” with a supper party including grilled steak with all the fixings and beer. This was a very special dinner, from all appearances. The nurses also provided mending services for the soldiers. To keep fit, the soldiers played baseball, including having tournaments with other island teams. Volleyball and swimming were also favorite activities, as well as hiking and fishing.

I am amazed at the number of jokes included in each issue. Some of which are no longer funny, but most of them have stood the test of time, in my opinion. I wonder where they culled them from. Or did they make them up?

Another surprise was the number of poems about life on the island and in the army that are included throughout the issues in my possession. One man in particular wrote many poems for the newsletter. I did a quick online search to see if he continued a career in poetry but his name didn’t yield any results. I may see if I can poke around more to find out what became of him. He had quite a talent!

I’m in the process of documenting their contents and my husband is scanning them into pdf files for archival purposes. Once their digitized, then I can share them with the rest of my family, too. I intend to offer the collection of newsletters and a few other specific items that I think have historical value to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. They already have an oral history interview with my father from 2009, and he’s listed in their Honor Roll registry. But the contents of these newsletters provides a different view of life during a world war, so I think they should have them for safe keeping.

Hoppy Easter and thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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Getting to know Kedar Patankar #author #fiction #warfiction #historybuff #environmentalist #scriptwriter

I have a guest author today who is also a screenwriter. Please help me welcome Kedar Patankar all the way from India! Let’s take a look at his bio and then find out about his works.

Kedar Patankar is a writer of movie scripts (with one of them in pre-production right now, & another in the dialogue-writing stage), a web series, a novella, short stories & a blog.

Every month, he leads a team of enthusiasts (he calls the group ‘The Trash Talk’) to clean plastic trash from centuries-old forts. Every month, he also visits a remote village to teach ‘spoken English’ to about 40 kids to help them gain confidence & enhance their future prospects.

He has spent twenty years in the USA, obtained two master’s degrees from a top US university, worked in high-tech world of computer chips in Minneapolis and Silicon Valley, and now lives with his family in Pune, India.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Kedar: I have been playing with it since early 2000s. (movie scripts, story ideas, blog, etc.) but self-published my first novella in 2015.

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

Kedar: About 15 years.

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

Kedar: Known International Authors like John Grisham, Arthur Conan Doyle, along with a couple of Indian authors like Ranjit Desai and Inamdar.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

Kedar: My paternal and maternal grandfathers were great story-tellers.  I grew up reading and listening to a lot of stories.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Kedar: Started with light-hearted script about an arranged marriage followed by a script about an immigrant family in London.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Kedar: I like to write a variety of genres including drama, historical, comedy, etc.   I am most interested in creating unique worlds and unique characters which are relatable.

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

Kedar: Working in partnership with experienced writers helped. Also books like Story by Robert McKee are great sources.

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

Kedar: That it’s very difficult to get noticed since there are so many people out there able to self-publish.

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

Kedar: My grandfather who was in Indian Army told me these stories about soldiers posted at the border. That is the inspiration behind this novella.

March, 2011 – In the pine forest that marks the No Man’s Land along the volatile India-Pakistan border, leopards roam freely across enemy lines, instigating fear into a pair of rival soldiers who are each guarding an illegal post & trying desperately to follow the strict orders they’ve been given: Don’t shoot.


Lt. Sharma is a 25-year-old Indian rookie, fresh out of military training school & longing to return home; Captain Khan is a war-weary Pakistani veteran whose only desire is to be left alone with his thoughts. When the men are suddenly forced to acknowledge one another’s presence, their nerves begin to fray and their tempers fly high. Sharma & Khan launch into a fierce duel of wits and egos that can only end when one of them dies.

Buy links: AmazonUS * AmazonIN * Apple

McKee’s book is on my keeper shelf and I’m overdue to read it again to refresh my take on what he has to say. Thanks for the reminder, Kedar!

Happy spring and 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.

Choosing A Period-Appropriate Book for a Character to Read #research #history #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I love to include places I’ve visited as well as classic authors and their books in my fiction. So in writing Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3; Coming May 2021!), I looked for a “new” book Cassandra could read in the gazebo in 1821. My first thought was of Sir Walter Scott’s book, Waverly, because I was pretty sure he was writing around the turn of the 19th century. And I own a treasured copy of it. So I went in search of my copy to confirm its publication date. Now, my copy is special to me because I bought it while on a university hosted study abroad trip. It was a summer course for essentially the entire month of July 1995 in Great Britain entitled Literary Landscapes and Journeys of the Mind. That was the first and only time I have traveled abroad without family with me. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience, too. If we ever sit down over a cup of coffee together, ask me about it. <wink>

Here’s a short snippet from my upcoming release of Desperate Reflections where Cassie is reading:

She looked down at the book in her hands. Abram had let her borrow his copy of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverly. Apparently, he had easy access to many books in the cosmopolitan world he lived in. He’d recommended it to her as a distraction and a great romantic tale. She opened the cover and noted it had been out for seven years, but it was entirely new to her. The story of an idealistic young man who fought for the Jacobites in 1745 Scotland seemed like a good way to not think about what was happening around her. To not think about what might happen when her aunts arrived. To not think about what other family secrets lurked in the shadows. Turning to the first page of the story, she ignored everything else.

Or tried. The rattle of wheels and thump of hooves tempted her to see who was coming and going. The smell of cake baking in the bread oven wafted past, teasing her nose. Her stomach rumbled, making her wish it was closer to dinner time. Another tweak to her empathic senses made her glance up, seeking the cause. Inwardly she shrugged. She wouldn’t actually see what caused the sensation. She returned her wayward eyes to the page and tried to absorb its contents, the reasons for why Scott had chosen the title name for the main character. She read the passage again but finally gave up with a sigh and let her gaze wander as she closed the book. So much for losing herself in an enchanting tale.

One of the many literary linked places we visited was Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Now he is not my all-time favorite author but I have read, enjoyed, and studied his work, making visiting his house a treat. The castle is absolutely stunning! I fell in love with his library which was immense and beautiful.

We had a brief tour on our way to Rydall Hall. I bought my copy of Waverly from the gift shop at Scott’s impressive home. My task assigned by my professor was to write a journal about my experiences, impressions, thoughts, hopes, whatever. That was the best idea ever because I have an immense notebook of my daily take on what we did and saw and experienced. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually write anything about Abbotsford in my journal despite having taken pictures of what I saw there. But I vividly remember how stunned I was by the library!

If you’re on NetGalley, Desperate Reflections is now available for download and to review. Look for it to release on May 11, 2021!

Can you believe it’s almost April already? This year is flying by for me. I guess I better get back to work.

See you next time. 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.

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. Her plan? Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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Getting to know E.V. Svetova #author #YA #fantasy #mythical #mystery

I think you all will enjoy meeting my next guest! Please help me welcome E.V. Svetova! A quick peek at her background, which is fascinating by itself, and then we’ll get to find out more about her and her writing.

I was born in Moscow when it was the capital of a now extinct empire, and I had a chance to experience both the security and the subjugation of the totalitarian state. In retrospect, it was a winning combination of a happy childhood and a subversive youth. When the country I knew disintegrated like planet Krypton in front of my eyes, the shockwave of that explosion blew me across the world. I’ve landed on the island of Manhattan and have considered myself a New Yorker ever since.

These days, I live at the edge of the last natural forest on the island with my husband, a digital animator, sharing our old apartment with an ever-expanding library and a spoiled English bulldog.

I studied psychology as an undergrad and later received a Master’s in humanities from NYU. My creative nonfiction was published in a few literary magazines; a young adult fantasy https://evsvetova.com/books/print-in-the-snow. Print In The Snow won an IPPY gold medal; the manuscript http://evsvetova.com/books/over-the-hills-of-green, Over The Hills Of Green was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. I am a member of WFWA.

Website * Facebook * Instagram


Betty: When did you become a writer?

E.V.: I’ve been writing stories before I knew how to write. My first books were hand-drawn comics, and, for some reason, the pages turned right to left. I think I still have one of those little books.

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

I’m an eternal student. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but only became a published author in my late forties.

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

E.V.: I grew up with classical Greek mythology; folklore and fairytales have always been my prime fare. That informed my affinity for speculative fiction in general. As a teen, I’ve been force-fed the Russian and other European classics, and as a result I am a nerd snob. I love science fiction and fantasy, and I adore magical realism. My absolute favorite writers, besides some obvious Russian classics, are Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin and Gene Wolfe.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

E.V.: Well, those voices inside my head needed to be shut up somehow.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

E.V.: Probably some fairytales with me as the protagonist – I was a kid, so it’s forgivable.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

E.V.: I am absolutely fascinated with the way language works, the way it affects the reader, transforms us and transports us. It’s the ultimate magic to me.

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

E.V.: I don’t remember ever not taking a workshop, or a class, or not reading a craft book. I think, I’m like those people addicted to therapy, except my therapy is studying the literary process. Since I’m not a native English speaker, I always had to work a little harder. I was privileged to work with a true master, Jacob Miller, whose literary workshop I attended for years. Besides being an amazing teacher, he is a student of the Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky, so there is a deep cultural connection as well.

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

E.V.: I wish I was prepared to the degree of rejection one faces when entering the publishing world. It’s truly soul-crushing.

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

E.V.: If I read a book and feel inspired to write afterwards, that means it hasn’t awed me and feel I can do better. After reading my literary idols I feel like not wanting to write at all, that’s how simultaneously sated and discouraged they make me – because how can I ever dream of approaching their level? So, no, I don’t look for inspiration in other people’s work. Nature, visual arts, even film, but not books.

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

E.V.: This novel Over The Hills Of Green came to me when I had a high fever, laid up with a flu. The whole story just played before my eyes like a movie. The characters are from a story, Print In The Snow, that I wrote in my late teens in Russian and later translated into English, and it is a natural continuation of the earlier adventure.

Otherworldly and mundane collide when a young New York psychologist takes on a charismatic patient who may be delusional or may literally come from the Otherworld of her suppressed childhood nightmares.

Driven to solve the intriguing case, Anna Reilly tries to unwind the thread of John Doe’s story, but instead becomes entangled in an uncertain relationship that challenges her sexuality, sanity, and her very sense of reality. When he inexplicably disappears, Anna’s professional and personal life comes undone, leaving her unsure whether she is expanding her mind or losing it, and whether the androgynous John is a mystical guide or a psychopathic con artist. Finding him will either provide her with the keys to the mysteries of the universe or complete her break from reality.

OVER THE HILLS OF GREEN is the second book in The Green Hills series. The first award-winning book, PRINT IN THE SNOW, sets in motion the events that change young Anna’s life forever.

Excerpt:

Anna never had any more of the vivid dream-memories Yaret’s closeness had brought. The dreams she could recall were now mundane, easily traced to the sensory impressions of the previous day. In her waking hours, though, she kept seeing things, and not just the usual monsters in the dark. Every so often, an elm leaf, mottled like an inscribed parchment, would blow in from nowhere and lie at her feet in the middle of a busy intersection; a shadow made by a torn wire fence of a construction site would create a geometric, almost runic pattern in the dust; a seagull, too far away from the shore, would leave lines of wet scribble-like tracks on the polished granite cornice of the hotel down the street. In moments like those, it seemed to Anna all she needed was to see with true sight, and she could read the messages the universe was sending her. Of course, Anna rationalized that is was no more than her human brain utilizing its natural acumen at pattern-discernment, yet, sometimes, she would take off her glasses, and the cityscape, reflected in her nearsighted eyes as a painting in broad careless strokes, was rich with meaning so profound it didn’t require interpretation.

Buy links: Books2Read

Thanks so much, E.V., for sharing that story with us. Anna’s mundane dreams sound like most of mine, although I have had a few, um, interesting ones of late.

I hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Touch of Irish Heritage Plus an #Easter #giveaway #SecretsOfRoseville #StPattys #StPatricksDay2021 #amreading #books

Since it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day, let’s chat about the Irish heritage of the main characters in my Secrets of Roseville series, shall we? This is most clear in the first book, Undying Love. Like me, sisters Meredith O’Connell Reed and Paulette O’Connell can claim ancestors from Ireland. However, Meredith struggles with those roots and how they may impact her plans.

Before I tell you more about her feelings and plans, let me share that I’m doing an Easter giveaway if you’re interested in winning a signed copy of Undying Love (Book 1 of the Secrets of Roseville series). Here are the details and the link to enter:


Betty Bolte’s Easter Egg-Stravaganza Giveaway

Includes: (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, a signed paperback of Undying Love, a signature wine tumbler, and other cool Easter swag. Enter now for your chance to win!

One (1) winner will be chosen at random on March 25th * 18+ to enter * Continental USA only * Betty Bolte is solely responsible for this giveaway. *Picture for illustration purposes only.

https://contest.app.do/betty-bolte-s-easter-egg-stravaganza-giveaway


So, Meredith returns to her grandmother’s plantation manor, one she’s inherited after her beloved grandmother died. But she doesn’t plan to live there. Only, Meg, the housekeeper, prompts her memories of how much her grandmother loved Twin Oaks and especially a certain tree of Irish legend. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:


“I can’t believe after all the time you’ve spent here, the joy you felt staying here, that you’d turn your back on your heritage.”

“I’m a city girl now.” As good an excuse as any other. Meredith ran a hand through her hair, slipping the ponytail holder off with a sigh of relief.

“That’s by location, not heritage.” Meg gripped her shoulder and squeezed until Meredith met her eyes. “Your Irish blood will speak to you, remind you of the legacy the land represents. Both past and future for the O’Connell family.”

“I haven’t heard an Irish brogue in my head yet.” Meredith grimaced. “Don’t know that I want to, come to think of it.”

“You know it’s a matter of time. You’ll always come home to the one thing that has bound this family and Twin Oaks together for generations.”

“What do you mean?”

Meg leaned toward Meredith and pointed out the window, indicating an area to the right of the cemetery. “Have you forgotten the fairy tree?”

Meredith’s eyes widened as she followed the direction of Meg’s finger, finally sighting the old hawthorn standing alone in the middle of the meadow. She’d forgotten all about it. Or perhaps ignored it on purpose. The fairy tree. Her grandmother loved the ancient hawthorn and the myths associated with it. Despite the fact they only technically existed in Ireland, Grandma insisted on protecting the little tree as though it were from their ancestors’ homeland. To her grandmother, the fairy tree symbolized the unity of the O’Connell family, across time and space, no matter what befell them. She claimed the tree alone protected the many generations of O’Connells.

She stared at the hawthorn. Roads had been relocated in Ireland because a fairy tree happened to grow in its path and the workers dared not harm it. Good men trying to provide for their families had died who had cut down a fairy tree. The tree’s one mission, according to Grandma O’Connell, was to keep Twin Oaks safe from all harm. What should she do?

“I wasn’t planning to cut down all the trees, Meg.” She stared out the window at the little tree, wishing it and her grandmother’s traditions away. No luck there, though. “In fact, I wasn’t planning to harm any of the trees and bushes.”


I learned about this tradition while touring Ireland with my husband and father-in-law many years ago. The tour guide pointed out a particular tree that they’d actually diverted the road project around for the very reasons above. I was fascinated by the concept, intrigued enough to include it in my story. I think it’s indicative of the nature of the Irish mindset, which is pretty cool. I loved Ireland! I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Have you been to Ireland? What did you think of the country, if so?

Happy St. Patty’s Day! Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Meredith Reed inherits the family plantation after the tragic loss of her family and now must decide its future. Max Chandler has found his soul mate in beautiful yet aloof Meredith, but she threatens to destroy the property he cherishes. Can Meredith learn a lesson from the spectral lady in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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