Martha Washington’s Birthplace #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

With each book I write I do research. The extent and kind will vary depending on what I need to know to write the story accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. The longest book I’ve ever written, and the one that I had to do a ton of research to write, is my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington. Why June 2? Because that is Martha’s birthday. So today I’m going to talk about where Martha Dandridge was born.

Her parents, John and Frances Dandridge, welcomed her to their home called Chestnut Grove sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on June 2, 1731. Chestnut Grove was located alongside the Pamunkey River in Kent County, Virginia. It was a two-story frame house with three rooms on each floor. Not a big house for a plantation in those days. You can see a sketch of what the house looked like here.

Historic marker about Chestnut Grove

My hubby and I visited the area back in 2015 when I first started researching to write Martha’s life story. Well, at least from her teenage years! I wanted to see the lay of the land and at least try to imagine what it would have looked like when she was a girl. It was disappointing to find we couldn’t even get close to the site as it’s private property. So online research and pictures had to suffice to inspire my imagination. Here’s a short excerpt from my book where she sees the house:

“As we neared Chestnut Grove, I studied the main house as the boat angled toward the dock. The central sturdy door had been made from poplar, like the window casings. At either end of the good-sized clapboard house rose two brick chimneys poking through the white oak shingled roof. A variety of flowering bushes and plants softened the appearance of the brick-and-board structure. Around it, smaller buildings stood: the kitchen, laundry, smokehouse, privy. Chestnut Grove was the only home I’d ever known. If I’d succeeded in my mission, the two-story frame house would become my childhood home. I’d move away, to a new home, a new husband, a new life.”

But just like Martha’s life, that was only one the beginning. Knowing where she was born and grew up was one piece of the history I needed to learn more about, then understand, and then put myself in her shoes. I really wish the home hadn’t burned down in the early 1900s so I could have seen it for myself. It’s far easier to feel like I’ve walked in my character’s place when I can roam around the same spaces she did. See what the view from the windows would have been. Hear the sounds of movement by others.

I’ve worked hard to write her story in order for others to find out what a remarkable woman she was in her own right. Not just as the wife of a great man. In fact, after all I’ve learned about Martha I don’t believe George would have reached the heights of greatness he did without her support and love.

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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

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

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

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Getting to know author Edie Cay #author #historical #regency #fiction #romance

Today’s guest takes into the secretive world of female Regency pugilists and reveals her own not-so-secret publisher side. Please help me welcome Edie Cay! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then we’ll find out how she got started writing and what keeps her motivated.

Edie Cay has an MFA in Creative Writing and other degrees. She is a history buff, an avid traveler, and an eager reader of all genres. She has lived all over the United States, but currently calls California home. Under her other name, she has published articles and participated in documentary filmmaking. She is a member of the Paper Lantern Writers, a historical fiction author collective, as well as a member of the Historical Novel Society. A LADY’S REVENGE is her first published novel.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Edie: When I was ten. I wrote a book series which took one sheet of 8.5×11” paper, cut into pieces. Each book was 14 pages long, done by hand with colored pencil. I employed other children to write in the series and help me make the books. Each book cost ten cents.

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

Edie: I published my first short story in college, while I worked on my Bachelor’s degree in English. After that, I pursued my MFA in Creative Writing. I continue to read craft books, style books, and reading all genres helps to keep me aware of what is my style and what is others’.

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

Edie: Margaret Atwood—she is very direct. I was more lyrical early on, and then became so very curt and short, because I was emulating Hemingway, and now I am attempting a happy medium, which I think is more Atwood’s style.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Edie: When I was nine, a teacher had us write stories for class assignments. I haven’t stopped.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Edie: Short stories. I think maybe about a worm?

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Edie: I enjoy building a world the most. I always start with characters, figuring out what motivates them, why they do what they do.

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

Edie: I have a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, an MFA in Creative Writing, and I continue to take online classes about specific topics, including Writing the Other, and classes from RWA’s Beau Monde Academy. I go to conferences when I can, and I read craft books.

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

Edie: To just get out of my own way.

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


Edie: I wanted to write a romance to help me with plotting. I was (and still am) writing a historical novel that is literary or upmarket women’s fiction, and I was flailing with plot. So I thought genre would be a good exercise. I picked Regency because it was the most popular historical time period. I started writing, and I wrote a novel. It was full of inaccuracies, because I had done cursory research. But in that novel, I met Lydia. And I knew her snark came from somewhere. She had a heart underneath all that coldness, and I knew she had a secret. But what? So I did more research, read a ton more books, and I found that she was a boxer. She just had to be.

Lady Lydia Sommerset is an earl’s daughter. At the ripe age of twenty-five, she still wears the lavish gowns and dances the dainty steps of the haute ton as if she were pursuing a husband; but  her goals are far more personal. Instead, she pursues her tormenters: the men who bet that taking a girl’s virginity—her virginity—really can cure a brothel’s plague. She has her cousins and sister to aid her, but no one can understand what it feels like to be helpless. Pugilism, England’s manliest pastime, is her only relief. Training in secret with a female boxer keeps her sane, but when her instructor is hired away by one of the men she is seeking to destroy, she is in a bind. Her new teacher, a former prizefighter with a ready joke and a quick wit might do more than just correct her technique.

John Arthur is made of money. A street kid who dazzled with his fists, he now impresses as a miracle worker on the London Stock Exchange. But a man can’t forget a boyhood spent in the gutter. Easy-going and affable, John Arthur knows he shouldn’t tangle with bluebloods. He should be happy with a full belly and coin-filled pockets. But when he finds a woman who finds boxing as vital as he does, his life gets suddenly complicated.

Caught between revenge and finding love with a man who might truly understand her, Lady Lydia must commit to opening her heart or closing it forever.

“We haven’t been introduced,” Lady Lydia said, as if she were speaking to a child. It was like she knew all the tones that could put off a person and didn’t mind using them.

“Walk with me for just a moment, here, in public, with chaperones.” He gestured to her sister and the driver. “And that will surely remedy our acquaintance.” He offered her his arm.

“That isn’t how it works.” She folded her arms across her chest. “Perhaps if you had better breeding, you would know.”

If this had been a turn-up, all bets would be against him. “I’ve spent my life taking chances, my lady. I always weigh the risk to benefit. Making your acquaintance, however I can get it, is worth the risk. And knowing me is always a benefit.” He meant to give another non-threatening grin, but he was in earnest. This was the grin that marked him as rubbish. The Quality didn’t smile—they didn’t need to. But it was the winning bits of his domino box that made folks relax and trust him.

She narrowed her eyes and watched him for a moment. It was only then that he remembered his black eye. He must be a wretched fright for a lady like her. No wonder she wouldn’t talk to him.

“Agnes, get in the phaeton. We’ll walk a single block, sir. Make your case. Vasily will follow us.”

“But—” Lady Agnes protested.

“Done,” John said, feeling like this was the hardest bargain he’d driven all year.

Buy links: Books2Read

I’m intrigued by the worm story, Edie! Was it an inchworm, perhaps? I’m also intrigued by a woman boxer during the Regency. That’s a pretty cool historical fact to uncover. Thanks for stopping by and enlightening all of 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!

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

Discovering the woman who was my mother #familyfirst #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading

I have many stories about my mother from my own life. I mean, who doesn’t when you’ve lived with your family for 18 years or more. Things like Mom sitting under a shady tree reading the newspaper while Dad took me and my sisters to the beach to splash around. Helping Mom in the kitchen to make the holiday turkey and mashed potatoes. Oh, her mashed potatoes! Christmas shopping all day on Black Friday, laughing and having a grand time. Mom sipping on a beer in a glass, munching on Utz potato chips. We talked sometimes, though rarely, about her life as a teen and young woman. I wish I’d asked more questions, though.

When I first started reading through my father’s correspondence, 6 years after he passed in 2011, I was a bit nervous about what I might find out about him. I was surprised at how much I learned about my mother as a young, flirty, fun woman.

I mentioned before that she signed many of her letters as Mary Lou, but that nobody in her family ever called her that. I’m wondering if Dad started calling her that since he was from the Deep South. I have no way of knowing for certain. I was also surprised to see line drawings and jokes included in the letters. The interactions I had with my mother didn’t hint at that side of her. For example, she mentions in a March 1948 letter the following riddle:

Friday evening we went over to a very lovely restaurant in Silver Springs, Md. A large fireplace plus crackling logs were in each room. Above the one fireplace was this riddle. Can you make it out?
            If the B m t put :
            If the B ◊ putting :

Now, I pondered that for some time without figuring out its solution. It wasn’t until she wrote to him later and shared the meaning that I had any idea. One hint as you read the solution: the “:” punctuation symbol reads as “coal on”. So here’s what Mom wrote in her letter:

The answer to the riddle is
If the grate be empty put coal on
            (If the B m t put : )
If the grate be full, stop putting coal on.
            (If the B ◊ putting : )

My mother’s handwritten letter including the riddle.

In my novel, Notes of Love and War, I reverse this trait to have Charlie sending the jokes and riddles to Audrey. She professes to not be very good at solving them, too. I used different riddles and jokes, too, which were fun to research and debate which ones I thought worth including.

So tell me how much you remember about your mother. Did you talk to her about her younger years? If your mom is still alive, what questions do you have for her?

Thanks for stopping by. 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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

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

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

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Olivier Bosman #author #historical #mysteries #LGBT #fiction #books

Today’s guest is a writer after my own heart. Olivier Bosman likes to visualize the scenes before writing them, as I do. But let’s let him tell you more!

Born to Dutch parents and raised in Colombia and England, I am a rootless wanderer with itchy feet. I’ve spent the last few years living and working in The Netherlands, Czech Republic, Sudan and Bulgaria, but I have every confidence that I will now finally be able to settle down among the olive groves of Andalucia. I am an avid reader and film fan (in fact, my study is overflowing with my various DVD collections!) I did an MA in creative writing for film and television at the University of Sheffield.  After a failed attempt at making a career as a screenwriter, I turned to the theater and wrote and produced a play called “Death Takes a Lover” (which has since been turned into the first D.S. Billings Victorian Mystery). The play was performed on the London Fringe to great critical acclaim. I am currently living in Spain where I make ends meet by teaching English.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Olivier: I started writing twenty-seven years ago. Initially I wanted to be a screenwriter or a playwright, as what I most enjoyed writing was dialogue. But screenwriters are often employed to adapt somebody else’s book or tinker on somebody else’s story, and I wanted to create my own characters and tell my own stories, so I started writing novels five years ago.

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

Olivier: I’ve always taken my writing seriously. I did an MA in creative writing for film and television and I have attended many workshops to improve my writing. I was a little insecure when I embarked on my first novel, as prior to that all I had written were plays and screenplays, so I joined a writing group where we critiqued each other’s completed manuscripts, and I have a learned a lot from that.

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

Olivier: Screenwriting has very much influenced my style. I picture the complete scene in my mind before I write it and lot of the story is told through action and dialogue, rather than narrative prose.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Olivier: An innate desire to make up stories, I suppose. I’ve been making up stories ever since I was a child.

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

Olivier: I wish I had found out about self-publishing before everyone else did. With so many authors publishing their own books, it has become quite difficult to get noticed.

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

Olivier: Wilkie Collins inspired me to write Death Takes a Lover (the first D.S Billings Victorian mystery). In fact, I first wrote it as a play. I was looking for a genre that would work well in the theatre, and after reading The Woman in White I found it: Victorian Gothic. It was the right mix of chills, thrills and melodrama to a keep an audience entertained on a cold, dark autumn night.

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

Olivier: I was explaining what my play (Death Takes a Lover) was about to someone. I told him that it was about a gay Quaker detective with a morphine addiction who had to investigate the suspicious death of a house maid in an isolated mansion in the Yorkshire Moors. My friend said I should turn it into a detective series. And that’s exactly what I did. Rather than adapting Death Takes a Lover into a novel (I did do so later) I decided to introduce my character properly. Give him a back story and a cast of supporting characters which would reappear in subsequent books. The Ornamental Hermit is the first of the D.S. Billings Victorian Mysteries. There are four books in total (plus the play, which has since been turned into a novella). DS Billings delves into a new mystery in each book, but his personal life, his trials at coming to terms with his demons, carry on.

Dimly lit cobblestone streets. Sinister looking men in top hats lurking in the fog. The first three books in the DS Billings Victorian Mysteries Series have been bundled together to chill you to the bone. Detective Sergeant John Billings is an honest and hard working man who has risen swiftly through the ranks to become one of Scotland Yard’s youngest detectives. But in his private life he struggles with the demons of loneliness, morphine addiction and homosexuality. In these mysteries he will lead you on a thrilling journey into the darkest recesses of Victorian society.

“He’s been ill for some time.”

Mrs. Forrester sat next to Billings. Her eyes were still gleaming with the joy of seeing him after all these years.

“He’s never been the same since Sebastian went missing. It’s his heart. I blame it on the stress and expense we incurred in finding Sebastian. Do you know how much money we paid those incompetent detectives in Cumberland? We should have employed you. They profited from us!” She let go of his hands. “They milked us. Combing the hills, dragging the lakes. That’s what hurts the most. That in the midst of our desperation, our grieving, somebody else tried to profit.” She took off her gloves and stared out at the bare trees which lined the cobbled streets of Chelsea. “We got a letter,” she added.

“A letter?”

“From him. From Sebastian. He’s back in Oxford. He sent us a letter.”

“I thought he was dead.”

He realised his clumsiness immediately and cursed himself inwardly.

Mrs. Forrester ignored the gaffe. “We were in Oxford last week. Mr. Forrester, sick as he was, insisted he’d come with me.”

“How did you find him?”

“We didn’t. We waited for a whole week at that tea room he’d suggested for our meeting, but he didn’t show up. And we had no way of locating him. So we went back home. Mr. Forrester thinks it may have been an impostor.”

“An impostor?”

“Mr. Forrester is dying, John. I told you that. There’s a large inheritance at stake. Anyone can pretend to be Sebastian. It’s been ten years.”

Buy links: Amazon

Thanks for stopping by, Olivier, and sharing about your writing, your inspiration, and your latest books.

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

Puppy Love – Mom’s real-life dog Frisk #dogsarefamily #collie #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been talking about the letters my parents shared and how they inspired my upcoming release, Notes of Love and War. But the story is not just based on the letters. I also include some references from my parents’ real life story that reflect life in the 1940s in Maryland.

Having spent so much time with my mother while she was dying from metastatic breast cancer, I was able to talk to her about her life. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but we did spend quite a bit of time shopping and hanging out at home over my childhood to young adult years. And then I spent even longer with my father as he lived with me, my husband, and children for 17 years after Mom passed before moving into assisted living until he died 4 years later. We still talked frequently as long as he was able to, though, so I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. Lots of family stories and memories as a result.

One of Mom’s fondest memories was about a dog. Mom’s favorite pet growing up was Frisk, a blue merle collie. She talked about how smart and loyal he was. I have lots of pictures in the family albums of the two of them, or just of Frisk, scattered throughout the many other pictures of vacations and family gatherings.

Mom and her collie Frisk sitting on the grass together.

This picture is one that shows the coloring of a blue merle since all my photos are in black and white and I really wanted you to have an idea of how beautiful they are.

A blue merle collie with its distinctive white chest and legs, with a mix of tan, sable, and gray on its face, back and haunches.

So while writing my story, I decided to pay homage to Mom’s love of Frisk by including him in a fictional manner. As far as I know, Frisk didn’t live with Mom but lived on her grandfather’s farm. I’m the youngest of 5 children and all of my grandparents except my maternal grandmother had died before I was born. Mom was 42 years old when I was born; 60 when I graduated high school. So by the time I first remember my grandmother when I was a child she didn’t have any pets around the house. Probably because she was probably in her 60s by then. I don’t know if that was always the case, but in my lifetime I never saw any there. So I’m going to stick with my memory of what my mom said about Frisk being out on the farm.

However, in Notes of Love and War, Frisk is right at Audrey’s side whenever possible. Here’s a short excerpt to show you what I mean.


Audrey trotted the last few strides home to the front gate of the fenced yard. The hinges on the gate reluctantly let her through, their protest both loud and strong as she shut it behind her. Then she strode up the sidewalk leading to the steps to the front porch. Frisk galloped around the corner and came to let her love on him. He danced beside her on the sidewalk, joy plain on his face. She was glad she’d come home, too.

She’d toyed with how to approach her big assignment all afternoon, and it was only as she stepped off the streetcar and started the last leg of her trip to the sanctuary of home that she’d sorted the best way to proceed. She wanted to jot down her plan as soon as possible. Scurrying up the few steps to the shadowy porch, she was startled when Rae pushed open the door for her, waiting impatiently until Audrey slipped inside. Frisk yipped once as the door closed, shutting him outside.

“Audrey…”

“Wait.” Audrey opened the door again, cold air flowing past and chilling her bare legs. “Come on, boy.”

Frisk trotted inside and went to settle on his bed by the snapping fireplace. He seemed content to be inside in the warmth. Audrey turned away from the dog and regarded her sister.

“You’ve got a letter.” Rae’s eyes gleamed with intrigue and curiosity. “From him.”

“Who?”

“That soldier fella, Charlie.” Rae waved the letter at her, the airmail postage evident by the red and blue stripes along all four edges of the envelope. She slid a polished nail under the edge of the flap. “You’re lucky you got home when you did.”

Audrey quirked a brow at her sister. “You wouldn’t dare.”

A shrug and grin suggested Rae’s nefarious intent as she handed it to Audrey. “Open it before I do.”


Notes of Love and War will release in July 2020 but it’s available for preorder now. I’m super excited to share this story with you all, too! It combines some family memories with espionage and music. I hope you’ll enjoy the snippets I share occasionally between now and then to whet your appetite to read Audrey and Charlie’s story.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

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

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

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Lexi George #author #editor #paranormal #romance #fantasy

My guest today is Lexi George who also writes under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. Lexi is a fun lady to get to know, so settle back and let’s see what has inspired her to be the wonderful author she is…

Lexi George writes snarky paranormal romance for Kensington Books about hunky, immortal demon hunters and the Southern women they love. There are five full-length novels in the series, plus a novella, and she is hard at work on the latest, Demon Hunting with a Southern Sheriff. She also writes fantasy under the pen name Alexandra Rushe. A Meddle of Wizards, the first book in the Fledgling Magic series, was released in January of 2018. The second book, A Muddle of Magic, came out in October of the same year.

Website: www.lexigeorge.com * www.alexandrarushe.com

Facebook: Lexi * Alexandra

Twitter: Lexi * Alexandra

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lexi: I’ve always written something, starting with bad poetry in the third grade and progressing to really, really bad poetry in high school and college. My day job for nearly thirty years was as an appellate attorney, which means I wrote briefs for a living, but I didn’t begin seriously writing until my first child was four. That child is now twenty-eight. Gulp!  

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

Lexi: I started my first novel, a fantasy about a young woman’s adventures in a magical land, in 1995. I didn’t have a clue about the craft of writing, but I was having enormous fun. I wrote and wrote. Finally finished the darn thing in 2005 and started querying agents. Much to my dismay, not one of them recognized my brilliance, and I received over 100 rejection letters. Sobering, to say the least. Discouraged, I decided, the Universe was telling me to try something different, so I turned to my other love, romance. I joined a writer’s group and RWA and took craft classes and wrote and wrote and wrote. I was fortunate enough to get a contract with Kensington in 2010, and Demon Hunting in Dixie was released the following year.  

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

Lexi: Georgette Heyer, for sure, and David Eddings, an old-school fantasy writer. I adore Heyer’s sly wit and memorable secondary characters. Eddings Belgariad series greatly influenced my writing style. As a result, I tend to write an ensemble of characters in both genres.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lexi: Loneliness, I suppose. I was in an unhappy marriage and working and raising small children pretty much on my own, so I turned inward for companionship and escape.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lexi: I dove right in with a full-length novel, the fantasy I mentioned. It probably would have been better if I had started with short stories and moved up to full-length novels, but the story that came to me could not be told in a few words.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lexi: I really enjoy dialogue, especially if the character talking is being lewd or snarky. Great fun. As a writer, I have trouble with what I call “filler” phrases, those physical descriptions moving a character from one point to another. Much easier for me if they just talk! And sex scenes are the worst for me!  I spend days writing them and fretting that I haven’t reached the right emotional level.

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

Lexi: Not to take myself seriously. New writers tend to think their words are golden. Someone (I think it was Ray Bradbury) said the first million words you write are practice. I would also tell my younger self to toughen up. Rejection sucks, but you WILL be rejected, and readers will say rude things about your baby, and there ain’t a damn thing you can do about it. It comes with the territory.

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

Lexi: Oh, so many! Too many to name, but I remember sighing over Loretta Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels,and The Belgariad and Lord of the Rings were my great fantasy influences. I laughed until I had tears running down my face when I read Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money. That book greatly inspired the zany antics in Demon Hunting in Dixie. As a matter of fact, I remember pitching the book as “Stephanie Plum if she lived in the Deep South and had a Southern mama.”

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

Lexi: Duncan and Cassie are secondary characters in book four, Demon Hunting with a Dixie Deb, and it only felt natural to continue their story! Duncan is something of a misfit among the Dalvahni. He has a sense of humor, and his brother warriors don’t know what to make of him.

Cassandra Ferguson McKenna, aka the Witch of Devil River, has only one thing to say to her demon-hunting ex: We are never ever getting back together. Sure, Duncan Dalvhani may be the hottest thing this side of the Mason-Dixon line. He’s got a body to die for—which is hard to ignore when he skinny dips in her river every day—and swears he loves her. But as a demon hunter, Duncan is the sworn enemy of a demonoid sorceress like Cassandra. Give him another chance to break her heart? Witch, please. But when Cassandra is attacked by a werewolf, Duncan not only comes to her rescue, he helps her take on a band of magic-drunk moonshiners, fire-breathing demons, shifty shapeshifters, and a pet Sasquatch named Sugar. Welcome to Alabama. But when a portal opens up for even more hellaciousness, Cassandra has to admit that Duncan is slowly opening her heart—to a whole new world of unearthly delights . . .

“Go away, Duncan,” Cassie said. “We’re no good for each other.”

“I could go away, I suppose, but I would only return.” His mouth twisted in an expression of self-mockery. “I fear I am a pathetic creature where you are concerned.”

Cassie gazed at him in mingled panic and exasperation. There was nothing pathetic about him. The harder she resisted, the more he would take it as a challenge. So, where did that leave them? An affair was the logical solution to their problem, in a hair-of-the-dog that-bit-you kind of way.

“Let’s have sex,” Cassie said, taking the plunge. He blinked, and Cassie felt a ping of satisfaction. She’d thrown him. Good. “Friends with benefits, you know?” She gave him a bright smile. “Want to go for a roll in the hay?”

“You wish to engage in coitus with me?”

“Yup, plain, uncomplicated sex,” she said. “Two consenting adults enjoying one another’s bodies. No mushy stuff. No jealousy or insecurity. Sex, and no strings, and then we move on.”

“Agreed, but with one condition.” His eyes were flinty. “I do not share. I have exclusive use of your body while the agreement holds.”

 “Of course,” she said, striving to sound nonchalant, though her stomach was doing a roller-coaster free fall. He’d called her bluff, damn him, and she wasn’t sure how she felt about that.

He turned and strode away.

“Wait,” Cassie said. “Where are you going?”

He stopped in the doorway and looked back. “To the kitchen to prepare a repast.”

“Don’t you want to talk? About . . . you know . . .” Cassie gazed at him in frustration. “Our agreement?”

“Talking is overrated, and I would have you rebuild your strength. I mean to make the most of our bargain.”

He walked out, leaving Cassie rooted to the spot.

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Wow, that sounds like such a delicious read! Thanks, Lexi, for stopping in and sharing that drool worthy excerpt 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!

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

Novel letters that reflect reality #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

To continue with the connection between the real letters my parents wrote to the fictional ones in Notes of Love and War, let’s take a glance at how I wove some of those hints I spoke of into the story letters.

Here’s the letter from last week from my mother to my father. Note the bolded part where she practically shouts how she feels about the weather where he lived.

Original letter from my mother to my father.

“My Dear Friend,

Today had been so warm! Right now no one, I don’t believe, could talk me into visiting Florida. Hot weather and I are better enemies!

Murray, how’s the work coming along? Keep learning, Friend, and building on that solid foundation you’ve laid! I know that whatever you do, will be done to the best of your ability! Keep it up and I’ll be pulling for you!

And about that receptionist you’re looking for – there’s a friend of mine who has always wanted to be a receptionist. She would be just the one for the job except she doesn’t like Florida’s warm weather! Goodness here I am complaining about the weather again –

The funny part about it, I have been thinking, just a little, about looking for a job as receptionist. I’m getting tired of sitting at a desk punching keys. Nine years is enough of that. Oh and another thing, what would the starting salary be? After all that is an important thing to consider.

I sure was sorry to hear about your tennis rackets being stolen. Why don’t you ask Santa and maybe next Xmas you’ll find one in your stocking. It worked this Xmas for me. Try it!!

Murray, there’s an old saying ‘Action speaks louder than words.’ If I’m to be your girl, seems to me the best thing for you to do is to prove it. – How about coming up the last week of April? Could you manage to be here on Thursday April 27?

This warm weather has really brought the frogs out! I love to hear them at night time. Seems to put me in a dreamy mood!

Friend, don’t let your dreaming run away with you – concerning us. Just remember that I have made no promises of any kind!

But I do think you should come up so we can see each other and know how we stand – that is, whether we want to continue along the “boy and girl” lines or – just pals!

Your Friend

Mary Lou”

And like I pointed out, my mother made no bones about the fact she doesn’t like hot weather. So I have Audrey adopt this same viewpoint, since she’s used to much more variable weather in Maryland than the hotter, more tropical climate of southern Florida.

[Here’s a quirky aside: I’ve never heard anyone call my mother “Mary Lou” yet she signed her letters to Dad that way. I even asked Mom’s sister about the nickname and my aunt said she was only ever called Mary. Well, apparently not!]

The following letter is taken from the pages of Notes of Love and War and is from Audrey to Charlie… She’s planning to move to Florida after they marry and trying to keep a brave front. I’ll bold her comment about the hot weather to make it easier to find…

Saturday afternoon
July 22, 1944

Dearest Charlie,

My love for you is beyond measure. I know we’ll be happy together as soon as we’re married and start our life as husband and wife. I’ve started working on my trousseau. Mama and I went shopping for pretty fabrics and patterns, and the dining room has become my sewing parlor. The table is always smothered with bolts of cloth, ribbons and trim, and other sewing paraphernalia. Rae helps me with fittings and hemming.

As for our honeymoon, as long as we’re together it will be perfect. If I must choose, though, someplace warm since we’re going in December. The Keys sound nice and we could visit Hemingway’s home in Key West where he wrote To Have and Have Not. That would be fun. I do enjoy his books! Have you read his novels? But honestly, my darling, anywhere we can spend time alone together will make me happy.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do with your photography and studio. You must choose what makes you happy and provides the level of financial security that works for you. We shall be fine. We can budget our money and still have a wonderful life together. Go and be the photographer you choose to be! That’s the important thing to me.

I’m nearly finished with the interviews of the musicians in the women’s symphony. Just a couple more who have been difficult to coordinate calendars with, but I expect to catch up to them eventually. My boss has been complimentary about my articles, so that’s something that gives me hope for that promotion I told you about.

You’ll be relieved to know that Rae has taken it upon herself to give me cooking lessons. She said she didn’t want you to starve! I know you wouldn’t. I can make a mean peanut butter and honey sandwich! Kidding! Well, maybe not. But we won’t starve, either way. Tonight she’s going to teach me how to make fried chicken. Or try. The last time I attempted it, the outside was perfectly golden brown and delicious looking, but the inside was raw. Cross your fingers for me!

Frisk is eager to go for a walk since the day is waning and the temps starting to cool off. It’s been very hot here, and you know I’m not fond of the heat and humidity of summer. I much prefer spring and fall, to be honest. But of course I have to take all four seasons, not just two of them. Mother Nature insists!

Charlie, I love you and am honored to be planning our wedding. I’ve arranged for the church, my family’s parish, for the ceremony. The minister said around Christmas the sanctuary is already decorated. That will save us some money that we’d normally spend on flowers and ribbons that we could use for our honeymoon, right? Do you care when around the 25th of December that we wed? Let me know your thoughts.

I must end, though I’m sure I could think of more to tell you about the symphony, the newspaper office, and other family doings. But then you’d be bored with my little observations and musings, so I’ll refrain. I want you to always be happy and content.

All my love,
Audrey

As I read over the letter from Audrey, I can see other echoes from my mother’s many letters. The fact that she’s trying to learn to cook, and planning the wedding date for when they don’t have to spend money on decorations, and even the discussion about what Charlie should do about his career path. They’re not the same exact issues, but they are similar and thus reflects the inspiration I pulled from the letters between my parents.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

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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