Let’s Play! Sports and Games 18th century style #games #sports #pastimes #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

People always need ways to distract themselves and entertain themselves. People in the 18th century were no different in that regard! I’ve mentioned before some of the activities they enjoyed then, like dancing, but what else did they do for fun and socialization?

Well, they played instruments like the harpsichord and flute. Sang songs. Martha Washington received a song book from George as a gift, for example. They read novels and histories. Martha read a wide variety of books, which included her bible.

Man playing a flute.

They rode on hobby horses as children. They went for horseback rides and carriage rides, opportunities for both exercise and to visit with friends and family. I read recently where pregnant women were encourage to take a carriage ride with gentle motion as a form of exercise. Men and ladies also got together for horse races and dog races routinely up until the American Revolution when that was stopped as being to royal like, too British. Racing commenced after the war ended though.

A horse pull-toy and book.

They also played badminton and cards and dominoes, as seen in this picture I took (I believe in 2015 at the Dewitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum of Colonial Williamsburg). I can imagine them playing card games like whist sitting around a table with their friends. Maybe a glass of Madeira at their elbow.

Display of games of cards, dominoes, and badminton

How are you entertaining yourself nowadays? What board or card games do you play?

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Available for preorders now! Releases 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 Steve Wiegenstein #historical #literary #fiction #author

My guest today writes thought-provoking and engaging historical fiction. But let’s let him tell you all about his writing. Please help me welcome Steve Wiegenstein to the interview chair. We’ll peek at his bio and then get to the interview.

Steve Wiegenstein grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, the setting for much of his writing, and worked there as a newspaper reporter before entering the field of higher education. He is an avid hiker and canoeist who hits the trails and float streams of the Ozarks every chance he gets. Steve lives in Columbia, Missouri, where he teaches English. He is the author of three historical novels: Slant of Light, This Old World, and The Language of Trees, and of a forthcoming book of short stories. He is at work on the fourth novel of his series.

Website * Facebook * Blog * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Steve: I started writing short stories in high school, admittedly very clumsy ones, and then worked in journalism during and after college. I was writing for newspapers by the time I reached my sophomore year in college, so I guess I could say that I’ve always been a writer!

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

Steve: I spent a couple of years working on short stories and trying to find my authentic voice and subject. Working on my writing skills is an unending process, though, and in a very real sense I am still working on those skills thirty years later!

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

Steve: Stylistically, I’ve always been a fan of Scott Fitzgerald and John Williams, two writers who used a plain, “classical” style but were able to pull out distinctive rhetorical flourishes when the situation called for it. Another pair of influences in a less noticeable way are Emerson and Thoreau. One thing I’ve noticed about their writing is that they both have a practice of making sharp turns in their subject. These seemingly unpredictable and random changes of subject turn out to make sense upon reflection, but surprise and shock us at first.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Steve: It’s hard to say. I’ve just always felt that I’ve had stories to tell, ideas to communicate, and writing was the natural vehicle for me to do that. If I was better at music or art, I might have gone down those paths, but you work with what you’ve got!

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Steve: Schlocky, woodsy stories that were essentially bad imitations of Jack London. Blessedly vanished from the earth.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Steve: There are different sorts of enjoyment, I think. Writing short stories is fun, because you can really focus, finish a story within a few weeks, and feel a sense of immediate satisfaction. By contrast, writing a novel can feel like endless work (I mean seriously, they take years). But the satisfaction when one is completed is immense.

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

Steve: I was an insanely voracious reader as a kid. I think I picked up a lot of techniques and strategies just by osmosis. But going to journalism school and then working in newspapers for several years really taught me the discipline I needed and gave me some important habits, especially for the editing stages.

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

Steve: Not exactly “knew,” but I wish I had kept at it more steadily! There were periods in my career when I focused more on “day-job” work, academic presentations and the like, but looking back on it now I wish I had stayed more focused on my creative writing instead. That’s the work that I hope will last.

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

Steve: My mom was a freelance writer who wrote feature stories for newspapers and magazines, and one of my fondest memories as a child is watching her set up her typewriter and notes on the dining room table, focus her attention intently on her subject, and laugh with delight when she came up with a particularly good phrase. I trace my love of writing right back to her.

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

Steve: My novel series deals with critical moments in American history as seen through the lens of a small village in the Missouri Ozarks. In the earlier books I dealt with the run-up to the Civil War and the aftermath of that war, but in this one I was interested in the Industrial Revolution. In the Ozarks that revolution came by way of what was known as the “timber boom,” a period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when big financial interests came to the region and applied industrial methods to timber harvesting. The result was a huge economic change and an environmental catastrophe that is still being felt today. I’ve always felt that this was an under-told story, and it’s an era that appeals to my personal interests in economics, society, and the environment, as well as providing the backdrop for a great story.

The inhabitants of Daybreak, a quiet 19th-century utopian community, are courted by a powerful lumber and mining trust and must search their souls as the lure of sudden wealth tests ideals that to some now seem antique. And the courtship isn’t just financial. Love, lust, deception, ambition, violence, repentance, and reconciliation abound as the citizens of Daybreak try to live out oft-scorned values in a world that is changing around them with terrifying speed.

Excerpt:

Josephine pulled the shutters, darkening the house, but wasn’t ready to sleep yet. She felt restless, filled with aimless energy that she didn’t know how to burn. She took her shawl from its peg and stepped into the night.

The tang of woodsmoke from cookstoves and fireplaces seasoned the evening air, and the first stars salted the sky. In the still air she could hear the distant clack-clack of the northbound line, up from Texas with a load of cattle, no doubt. It was a good six miles to the railroad as the crow flew, but she could hear the banging of the cars, and a moment later the screech of a whistle as it passed a crossing. Cattle going north, emigrants and orphans going south. Bodies in motion.

She walked away from the sound, up the road toward the river, her mind cluttered. Charlotte liked to sit by the river, always had, and Josephine could understand why. It had a balancing effect, the movement and silence, the faint murmur concealing deep power. Sitting by the river reminded her of lasting things and suspended the oppressive sense that she would rather be anywhere than in this valley, caring for a damaged mother, waiting for her to die so that the next chapter in her own life could begin. Even the cattle had a destination.

Buy link: Amphorae Publishing

We share both a love of story and a life-time of writing, Steve. Thanks so much for joining me today and sharing about your writing process and the story behind the 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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Nancy Lee Badger #author #contemporary #timetravel #paranormal #scottish #romance

I have a special treat for you! My friend and fellow author, Nancy Lee Badger, has a new time-travel fantasy romance out today! I couldn’t wait to share this one with you all, so welcome to a special edition of my author interview series. Let’s meet Nancy and then we’ll dive into the interview.

Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island, where school field trips to lofty museums were the norm. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire, where Nancy volunteered as an EMT and firefighter while working full-time. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 9-1-1 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved with her husband to North Carolina, where she writes full-time.

Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She loves to travel and attend Scottish Highland Games and is never far from her laptop. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places. Connect with her here:

Website * Twitter * Facebook * BookBub

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Nancy Lee: I started back in 2006, the week my son arrived home after a tour in Iraq. The words just started flowing.

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

Nancy Lee: It took another 4 years seriously writing, until a publisher released my first book.

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

Nancy Lee: Hannah Howell’s Highlander stories started it after meeting her at a New Hampshire RWA chapter conference, then I met and started reading Sabrina Jeffries and Katharine Ash. They live nearby!

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Nancy Lee: I have always thought about writing. I did some essays in grade school and had poems printed in a college paper. I even did restaurant reviews for a local paper. I wanted to do more.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Nancy Lee: An idea and an ending. The characters come to me as I go. Sometimes I don’t name them right away. Names are important, so I want to get that right. I have read novels where I could not pronounce the name! The basic plot constantly changes by the time the 3rd draft is finished.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Nancy Lee: The escapism. I had a very intense job as a 911 operator when I started writing a manuscript. It calmed me during the breaks between calls, and I was excited to hurry home after a 10-hour shift to type it all up.

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

Nancy Lee: I joined Romance Writers of America to find agents and publishers, then the Raleigh-area chapter the month we moved here from New Hampshire. Their monthly meetings, on-line courses, and RWA conferences were fantastic places to learn and network. This is a lonely profession, otherwise.

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

Nancy Lee: How much I had to learn! Once someone else reads and edits your work, you don’t realize how bad your grammar or spelling is. A good editor is worth every penny.

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

Nancy Lee: It wasn’t just one author, but the many authors of the early Harlequin books from the 80’s and early 90’s. I read tons of them until I had an epiphany. I said “I can write something better than this!” Not true, once I learned how hard it is, but I keep getting better.

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

Nancy Lee: My sisters, Kim Beegle and Lynn Erla Beegle, were the ones who pointed me to the nearby NC Museum of Art. The 164-acre complex opened my eyes and gave me ideas. It was only after I walked the vast grounds, and through the visually appealing Rodin Garden, that the Warriors in Bronze series was born.

An English lass grows up in a Scottish coven only to awaken in a strange new world with sculptures, a handsome man, and a hate-filled demon. Falling in love while saving the world was not the plan!

Excerpt:

Swallowing her fear, Marigold took a deep breath, and pushed away from the tree trunk. With quiet precision, she slipped her dirk from the hidden pocket she’d conjured in her leggings. Simply holding it gave her the courage to push aside the feathery branches, step out into the night, and face the demon.

Zinerva stood too close for comfort, but she did not appear threatening. In fact, she twirled in a circle and started to laugh.

What be ye wearing, whore?

“Stop calling me that. I am no whore. My name is Marigold Keats and ye and I share a history, I suspect.”

The demon sauntered closer, and then circled around her in a dance to music she heard only in her own head. Her gaze flowed up and down Marigold’s body.

Ye dress odd for a wh . . . I mean, a Sassenach witch. Be this a better label?

How could the demon know her true identity? Only Gwen and Helen’s spirit friend were privy to the information and they promised not to share it with others. If Sam ever discovered her true origin, he would never look at her in the same way again.

“I am me, nothing more. At least I am still alive. Considering yer dull as dishwater black ensemble, what is wrong with my clothes?”

A sizzle brought her attention from the demon’s pale as milk face and flaming eyes to her raised hand. Zinerva winked as she held up a red bolt that flickered and smoked, brightening their pondside meeting place.

Buy links: Amazon * Amazon UK * Amazon CAN * Amazon AUS

Wow, Nancy, that sounds like a wonderful story! I hope you have a fantastic book birthday for Heaven-sent Flame. Thanks for stopping by today to share your inspiration and new book!

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.

Shall We Dance? Dancing lessons 18th century style #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Last week I described how Martha Washington, or rather young Patsy Dandridge, may have been courted by Daniel Custis. I also shared how I chose to set the scene in Becoming Lady Washington by introducing Daniel at the ball where Patsy was presented to society. Today I want to talk about dancing in the 18th century.

Dancing was vital to the middle and upper classes of Virginia society. Dance instructors traveled from one plantation to another to instruct the young people on the traditional and popular dance steps and also of the proper form and frame. Not only was dancing an excellent type of exercise, it also provided a means for socializing in acceptable ways. Families would gather at the plantation where the itinerant dance instructor would visit for several days at a time. I can imagine the youth flirting while they learned the steps, and in between!

George Washington loved to dance! It’s unclear to me whether Martha did as well, but she must have known how in order to meet the societal expectations of the time. You can watch a video produced for Mount Vernon showing the dancing and the music they danced to. That site contains a lot more about dancing in the 18th century, so if you’re curious, hop on over there to learn even more.

On my research trip to Williamsburg in 2015, one of the activities my husband and I enjoyed was taking a group dancing lesson. We learned to do circle dances, how to greet your partner, and how to move in unison around the circle. The music was provided by a flute player in period costume. Our instructor was a woman, also in period costume.

A flute player at Colonial Williamsburg

It was during the lesson that the instructor talked about why a man would greet his partner by extending one leg forward and bowing over it. In Becoming Lady Washington, I portrayed this small factoid from Martha’s point of view after Daniel has asked her to dance at the ball:


“I’d enjoy dancing with you.”

He held out a gloved hand with a smile on his lips. “Miss Dandridge.”

I accepted his arm and followed him onto the floor as the musicians started a new tune. I intended to thoroughly enjoy myself. The weight of the elder Custis’ glare threatened to make me stumble, but I ignored him, keeping my attention instead on his charming son. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my parents exchange a look before turning to witness the dance. Daniel extended one leg to bow—a movement designed to demonstrate the strength of his legs—as I curtsied and lowered my eyes. Daniel’s leg proved nice, indeed. Returning to a standing position, we regarded each other for a beat as the music wrapped around us. The dance soon drew my entire attention and had my feet flying. My heart raced with the touch of his hand guiding me to perform a turn in first one direction and then the other before parting for several steps.


See how I wove in my own experience learning how to dance into Martha’s point of view? It’s those kinds of details that I believe enliven the history. By experiencing the movement and sound, I was able to hopefully bring the history to life in my story.

Until next time, thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Available for preorders now! Releases 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 Sally Brandle #author #contemporary #romance #suspense #fiction

My guest today shares a couple of my own loves: dogs and horses. Of course, we also share a love of writing great stories and always striving to be better at it. Let’s meet Sally Brandle and fine out more about her, shall we?

Multi-award winning author Sally Brandle weaves slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories. Sally left a career as an industrial baking instructor to bring to life stories motivating readers to trust their instincts. Her rescue Aussie is her companion during long spells of writing or afternoons spent riding on the wind with her nearly thirty-year-old Quarter Horse. The Hitman’s Mistake opens her Love Thrives in Emma Springs series of stories (without intimate scenes). Torn By Vengeance, Book 2, continues showcasing friendship, courageous women, and the men who deserve their love. The Targeted Pawn, Book 3, features a second chance for a life filled with love for humans and their furry friends.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Sally: My mom saved stories I’d written in the fourth grade, but I began to write seriously about ten years ago. I truly felt successful when the local King County Library System recently bought five copies of each of my books!

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

Sally: Working on writing skills is a continuous process. The key seems to be taking classes from successful people and then applying them to your work—my perseverance paid off after about eight years of classes and workshops, when I contracted with Soul Mate Publishing.

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

Sally: I enjoy any story from Jayne Ann Krentz, a gifted and generous local Seattle author. Years ago, at a workshop where a few of us brought manuscripts needing help, she suggested I cut my first five pages and begin with the elevator scene in The Hitman’s Mistake. Her advice rocked and now I check for an exciting ‘elevator scene’ in the opening pages of each story.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Sally: A swap shelf at a bar in balmy Costa Rica provided romance novels to read while lying in a hammock on vacation. Problem was, many were not well written. I offhandedly shared my opinion with my husband, and he dared me to write a better one.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Sally: I began by writing eight contemporary romantic suspense novels and then outlined two back-in-time stories and a couple of historicals. All my books are sensual without intimate scenes. I may contract a science-faction series next. Good science in very, very bad hands…

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

Sally: I’ve used the Snowflake Method and Libby Hawkers Seat of Your Pants books to outline, which saves time and energy. My object is to write a great book and be internally satisfied. Using good tools helps.

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

Sally: A friend of mine would have loved to know his Native American heritage, but his grandmother would never divulge her tribe or information he could’ve used for research. I reversed the scenario and made my hero very proud of his Blackfeet Nation lineage. Needing a sensitivity reader put me in touch with Thomas Smittle, an Oglala Lakota tribe member, who realized his gift in working with horses through the Mustang Inmate Training Program. After his release he acted in the movie, The Mustang, (2019 R Rated) directed by Robert Redford. His story inspired me, and I’m working it into my next book, tentatively titled, The Romantic Mule Thriller.

Threats forced her to flee Seattle. Honor binds him to Montana. A second chance at love tethers them together.

Elon Hardy’s romance skills are rusty after a loveless marriage ends, but upon meeting hunky rancher, Rane Calderon, sparks blaze hotter than her welding torch. To support her collegiate sons, she’s determined to acquiesce to the bullheaded, female-phobic boss until her divorce finalizes from her deceitful husband.

A woman Rane trusted ruined his life, and at forty, he won’t be fooled again. Blisteringly mad he’s hired a female bearing a man’s name, he fights attraction for the curvy, determined brunette while thwarting efforts to build a private prison atop his Blackfeet ancestors’ burial ground. 

“Sally Brandle has taken the worst of humanity and pitted that evil against the best of humanity, the ability to love and trust. A sweet, second chance, mature romance against all odds! Easy to read, filled with action, truly vile characters and characters that you cannot help but root for! Nothing graphic, this love story doesn’t need it!” Tome Tender 5 Star Review

Excerpt:

Elon smiled. Angel needed an advocate. “Just tell me where to park my car and oh…I, ah, have a dog.”

“Your car’s ok where it’s parked. Didn’t realize you brought a guest,” he said, in a voice turned soft as suede.

The calm before the storm? “Hadn’t planned to adopt a pet. A jerk tossed her from a truck on the highway an hour ago.” She clenched her fist. “I won’t abandon Angel. That’s what I named her.”

His boots scraped the floor as he pulled them in. He rose to his full height. “Angel can bunk inside, or I’ll find her a temporary doghouse.”

“I won’t let her bother you.”

“Dogs never do. If she needs kibbles, ask for Fred. He’ll find someone headed to town.”

The man did have a heart. For the first time today, she smiled. “Thank you. I’ll find something to feed her tonight,” Elon said.

Rane leaned over her, close enough to show dark stubble on his perfectly sculpted jaw. The guy’s black lashes appeared thick as paint brushes. His eyes glowed a deep shade of russet.

Flutters swirled in her belly. She blinked several times and leaned back.

With one fist braced on the papers, his chest stiffened into a shield. “Animals I trust, Ms. Hardy. Women are another story. A month’s trial, then we’ll talk.” He straightened and walked out, leaving a trail of spice-scented annoyance.

Amazon

Sounds quite tempting, Sally! Thanks for sharing about your writing inspiration and a peek at your book!

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.

Martha Washington’s First Courtship #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

While I love to research for my stories, I do not claim to be a professional historian and I don’t write nonfiction histories. But I do read them, and try to vet my sources as best as I can. Even the professional historians run into blanks in the historical record. For a novelist, those blanks become opportunities. Let’s look at a couple of those that I exploited in Becoming Lady Washington.

First let me say that I relied heavily on Patricia Brady’s excellent biography Martha Washington: An American Life. Brady is a professional historian and has written several other biographies. I used this one as a kind of “roadmap” for laying out my story. If you want to read a factual account of Martha’s life, I highly recommend Brady’s book. Now, to the historical gaps…

Daniel Custis by Gabriel da Vinci

Martha’s first husband was Daniel Custis. We know that he lived in the same area as Martha, near Chestnut Grove, Martha Washington’s childhood home. According to Brady, “During the eleven years that [Daniel] had lived in New Kent County, running one of his father’s plantations just a few miles down the Pamunkey from Chestnut Grove, Patsy had come to know him well. His life had crossed her family’s at countless points—court days, militia musters, social events, church (he served on St. Peter’s vestry with her father), the Public Times at Williamsburg—and he had obviously noticed the little girl growing into a lovely young woman. At thirty-seven, he was only a year younger than her mother, but the age difference between him and Patsy was not an impediment; young girls often married older men.” (p28)

The gap here is just how and when he decided to court the pretty young woman. I found no mention of the where or in what manner they began to court. So I had to invent the beginning of their relationship based on what I did know. Picking and choosing from the proposed locations where they would have crossed paths, I decided to use the Public Times and Martha’s coming out to society ball as the best option for my fictional account. Here is a deleted scene from an early draft where I had fun imaging how she’d prepare for her presentation to society:


Over the next several weeks, we explored the nuances and construction of the perfect gown, along with other articles of clothing to make the desired impression of me and my eligibility. I never realized just how many decisions had to be made. Silk? Muslin? Satin ribbons? Bows? High waist or dropped? Off the shoulder or low neckline with a fichu? Then the shoes… Definitely I wanted heels to make my petite frame stand a bit taller, and thus easier to dance with. But what color? Style? New buckles? Then there was the very serious question of the perfect hat.

Christmas and then Twelfth Night arrived and passed in a whirl of fancy dinners with a continual stream of family and friends visiting. The giddy chatter and plans continued with Aunt Unity, as well as my mother, until the festivities ended. Then I sat down with Mother to make the decision and send to London for the gown of my dreams, and of course a new gown for my mother. After the order had been sent, I faced months and months of worry and anticipation. Would the London agents be able to locate the yellow silk taffeta brocaded with flowers in the latest fashion with fine gold satin ribbons? Who would make the dress? What about the sequin studded yellow satin shoes with Louis heels? Would it all fit, if the items even survived the hazardous ocean voyage? And then the most fearful question of all: what would I do if the order didn’t arrive?

My contingency plan centered on the remake of my mother’s best dress gown. Mother had ordered the gown from London. I fancied the flowered pattern in the English silk damask, the rich burgundy pattern against the cream background emphasizing the fact that I was entering society in high fashion. Since Mother is a little bit bigger than me, there was enough fabric to work with. We’d taken in the waist and shortened the flounced skirts by drawing them up with ribbons. Aunt Unity gifted me a delicate kerchief to soften the neckline. The result? The perfect dress for dinner with the governor and his wife. Or if need be, for my debut at the royal ball.


This scene didn’t make the final cut because I decided to skip the preparations for the ball and just show her attending. That is where Daniel makes his move, by the way. The entire account is based on the research I did into what clothing meant, what it said about the wearer, in the 18th century, and having visited the museum in Williamsburg where they have gowns from that era on exhibit.

You’re probably wondering what the other gaps are…the second one is there is little in the biography regarding what their courtship might have looked like. What did they do? How frequently would he wait upon her? Chaperone or not? (Probably!) What is known is that Daniel’s father, John Custis, did not approve (to put it very mildly) to the courtship, or engagement, let alone marriage. Brady tells us, “John Custis flew into a blind rage and demanded that his son forget Patsy Dandridge.” (p29) This went on for a long time, by the way. So that’s a huge gap to fill in a story. How did Patsy (Martha’s pet name) react? I tried to put myself into her shoes, and knowing how she behaved later in life, thought about how she’d have either already been or how she adapted to the situation. Either would serve as a lesson on how to negotiate and manage in the future. So, knowing what I do about courtship during the 18th century, I made up what they did and what they talked about to give the reader a sense of who she was and how she handled herself during emotionally stressful times.

There’s one more gap I want to talk about. That is, since we know Patsy and Daniel did marry, how did John change his mind? Brady tells us, “Never one to wait around helplessly, Patsy somehow contrived to talk with the crusty old tyrant herself. Just how she managed it, we don’t know. Like many bullies, Custis was impressed by strength of character: he actually found the spunky little lady engaging.” She also tells about a lawyer friend of Daniel, James Power, visiting John and learning that he now approved of the union. Power wrote in the letter that John was “as much enamored with her character as you are with her person, and this is owing chiefly to a prudent speech of her own.” (p32) Okay, so how did she in that day and age manage to speak to the old man who lived in Williamsburg? Again, we don’t know but this is a very revealing moment as to the kind of person Martha was. So I had to imagine how she might have gone about making the meeting happen. Is it factually accurate? No. Do we know what the “prudent speech” was? Again, no. So I stepped into her little shoes and tried to imagine what I would have done in her situation. Would you like a little excerpt to see what I decided to do?


“Are you certain this is a good idea?” My brother Jacky’s deep voice carried to my ears over the steady beat of the Pamunkey against the skiff’s quivering hull and the twitter of song birds in the trees and bushes. I clutched the wooden seat beneath me as I bit my lip to keep my unease inside.

As he went through puberty, his tenor had lowered in steps, creating an often fickle pitch to his voice until it reached its current manly tone. I would never tell him, but sometimes I had mentally played with the sound like a musical piece. I heard music in everything, the shouts of the overseers, the birds flitting by, the soughing of the wind, even the river after a heavy rain. I breathed in the warm spring air. The scent of wildflowers blooming along the banks mingled with the pleasing aroma of the river. I’d finally settled on my favorite dark green dress for our secret mission. Its classic lines and somber colors, along with the cute hat with its half veil and plume, made me feel confident and mature. Well, except for the fact that I really did not like being in a boat. Of any size.

I glanced at my brother’s worried expression and chuckled, though I quaked inside at my own audacity. I had thought about what I’d do if Daniel’s efforts failed. After two long years had passed, my patience ended. Two years of growing more and more fond of Daniel, and longing to become united to him as his wife and start a family. I’d had to summon all my nerve, determination, and anger to devise the plan my brother and I now engaged in. Taking the boat meant a quicker journey, but oh I wish we could have ridden. But then my father would have known what we were up to. “It’s the only way I can conjure which has any hope of success to secure a future with Daniel.”

“You should have told Father of your plan. He’ll be upset.”

“He won’t even notice we’re gone, what with his concern regarding Mother’s well-being.” Our mother was due to have another baby within the next couple of months, child number seven. Would it be a brother or sister? Either way, I’d love the little one as much as I loved all of them. I had been born first, followed by Jacky a year later, then William two years later, Bartholomew three years after that, Nancy two after Bat, followed by Frances five years after my favorite sister was born, and now this new addition, whoever it might be.

After I married Daniel, we could start our own family. I envisioned having quite a full house, perhaps seven or eight children. The joys and laughter we’d share would rock the house. I could picture it in my mind as if it were a fond memory. For now, I enjoyed the company of all of my kinsfolk. Jacky, in particular, had become my favorite brother because of his eagerness to engage in our secret missions.

I winked at him with a toss of my head. “Besides, I have you as my escort, my protector. What is there for him to worry over?”

Jacky huffed. “The fact that we’re going into Williamsburg without his knowledge or permission?”


What I love about writing fiction is looking for those kinds of opportunities where I can illuminate my subject and their situation using my knowledge and imagination combined. I try to make the scene authentic to the times to the best of my ability and education on the times in which they’re living. Ultimately, my aim is to tell a good story that’s entertaining, emotional, and enlightening. You’ll have to let me know if I’ve succeeded…

We are living through some historic times ourselves, folks. I imagine previous generations that suffered and struggled through a pandemic felt much like we do today. The catch phrase here in north Alabama is “stay safe; stay separate; and sanitize.” My heart goes out to everyone as we find our way through this pandemic crisis. Please listen to and follow the guidelines from the health experts so we can shorten the duration as much as possible. Take care of you and yours and I’ll do the same.

Thanks!

Betty

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

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

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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

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

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

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Getting to know G. S. Kenney #author #romance #scifi #fiction #books #amwriting #amreading

My guest today writes stories that are out of this world, quite literally! I’m pleased to introduce G. S. Kenney to you all. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll slide right into the interview.

Author G. S. Kenney writes romantic speculative fiction novels. Her first science-fiction romance novel Freeing Eden, published by Soul Mate Publishing, was a 2018 RWA Golden Heart® finalist. The Last Lord of Eden, the second novel in the Ascent of Eden series published by Soul Mate, is now also available.

G. S. Kenney started reading early, and never stopped. In kindergarten, drawn in by a book with a picture of three witches at a cauldron, she learned to read by starting with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Now she writes stories of her own (and still loves Shakespeare). Interested in many fields, she studied the “Great Books” at St. John’s College, architecture at Harvard, and financial planning at Boston University. She has also conducted post-doctoral research in psychology at the Center for Creative Leadership in Greensboro, North Carolina, and for many years developed software systems.

Website *  Facebook * Instagram * Twitter * Goodreads

Betty: When did you become a writer?

G. S.: My family moved to Texas when my children were little, and I began working for American Airlines, where my first assignment was managing the development and installation of a yield-management system for a truck-rental company in Miami. I flew into Miami every Tuesday morning and returned Thursday in time for dinner, which meant that I spent two nights every week in a hotel in Miami, away from my family. I’d been making up stories for my children pretty much since they learned language, and I found in those lonely hotel rooms that the stories I was constantly developing in my head were a lot more interesting than the stories on the television. So I began writing them down. That was over twenty years ago, and I’ve never stopped writing stories since.

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

G. S.: A long time! I didn’t even try to get published at first. Between parenting and working full time at a job that included travel, I had my hands full. I wrote for my children and their cousins. They loved the stories, and that was enough for me. I wrote and wrote, and I got better through the practice.

Eventually, though, the kids went off to college, and I stopped working in tech. I polished up some of the later (and, trust me, better!) stories and began making submissions. That’s when I discovered that the stories my children and their cousins found fascinating still left something to be desired from a professional publishing perspective. Years of coursework, writing groups, and beta readers, and many rejections later, Freeing Eden finaled in the Golden Heart contest, and I found a publisher as well.

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

G. S.: Ah. That’s a good question. My style is definitely still evolving, and there are many influences.

This is the part where I have to mention that I attended St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, a small liberal-arts college with a four-year entirely fixed curriculum centered on reading and discussing the seminal books and ideas of Western civilization. I’ve read a lot of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature, and initially developed a style that reflects the elegance of that period: omniscient point of view, large words and long sentences, and entirely too many semicolons.

I still love reading books from that period, but the style is not well suited to my subject matter, futuristic science fiction with more than a dash of romance. Neither is the style of the mostly white-male-scientist writers of mid-twentieth-century—Asimov, Sturgeon, and the rest—who fostered my love of science fiction.

I’m trying for a more intimate style, more character-focused, often (but not entirely) deep point of view—what the romance genre is so good at, but I want to do so without entirely shaking the elegance and descriptiveness of the older styles. Do I create a unique blend that works? I hope I do.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

G. S.: Two things—one positive, and one negative. The positive prompt was definitely my children, who, when they were little, couldn’t get enough of my stories as fast as I could make them up. The negative prompt was television. I was traveling for work back then, two nights a week every week alone in a hotel room. Of course TV is different now, but back then, I couldn’t find anything on the hotel TV even half as interesting as the stories in my head. So instead of watching TV, I wrote down the stories I was already making up anyway. You’d be amazed how much time for writing that frees up.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

G. S.: YA science-fiction, very soft scifi just *this far* (forefinger and thumb less than an eighth of an inch apart) from fantasy, and sometimes actual fantasy, suitable for children.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

G. S.: I most enjoy writing the scenes that come easily—and believe me, they don’t always! These are the scenes that seem to want to write themselves, and all I have to do is keep up. The ones I might be writing, for example, after I should have gone to bed already, but I know that if I stop now, I’ll lose whatever muse it is that is making the scene real.

But perhaps you mean, what genre do I most enjoy writing. My background is definitely science fiction, but I don’t prefer to write the very hard stuff full of, say, spacecraft based on deep research into the current state of NASA developments. I’m definitely a “people” writer. Futuristic environments and scenarios are tons of fun to create—and I like to do a good job of it—but their purpose, for me, is to highlight the human side of the story. So I have gravitated toward science-fiction romance, and that’s the genre of my Golden-Heart-finalist book Freeing Eden, and to a lesser extent, The Last Lord of Eden, its sequel.

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

G. S.: First and foremost, through reading! Second, through actually writing. Novels are different from the stories you just think through in your head. Those stories start somewhere and keep going as long as you can keep making them up, and end when you can’t think of new things to add to the chain. I wrote a couple of books like that when my children were little, and I guarantee you, you’ll never see them. Once I’d written a few books like that, only then did I realize I needed to sharpen my craft. So, yes, for years I took online courses (mostly those sponsored by RWA chapters), read craft books, and yes, had the generous help and feedback of some friends who were further along the writing path than I was.

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

G. S.: I wish I’d started trying to publish much earlier in my writing career. Even though my writing wasn’t as good back then as it is now, I think it would have been a lot easier to find an agent and a publisher, and to establish a reputation as an author.

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

G. S.: I often say that Alfred Bester was my most inspiring author. I was in love with science fiction as a child, and his novel The Demolished Man quite took my breath away. It won the first Hugo award in the 1950s. And The Stars My Destination was also wonderful. I have, in fact, re-read both of these fairly recently, and I believe that despite some outdated cultural aspects, they hold up beautifully.

To save his planet, he’ll destroy his family.

To save him, she’ll do anything it takes!

The world of Eden is in crisis. Politicians throughout the galaxy demand the psychic-power producing drug that grows only on Eden. And the demand is skyrocketing.

Adopted son of Eden’s previous warlord, peace-loving Kell has inherited dominion over the planet and is determined to keep it free. When he discovers that the warlord’s brother and a powerful drug lord have teamed up to seize Eden’s priceless harvest, Kell will stop at nothing to prevent them–even if it means he must become a death-wielding champion.

To protect her from this danger, Kell must distance himself from Zara, the woman he loves. But when his efforts are not enough to save his beloved planet, Zara will do anything to bridge that distance. Can she succeed in time?

Excerpt:

Erik son of Magnus son of Leif had become aware of a commotion in his outer office, but he was ignoring it. As Kestra’s longtime senator to the Interplanetary Federation, he chaired the powerful Negotiation Management Committee, which would be meeting in less than an hour. He needed to be thoroughly prepared—especially today, since the man claiming to be the new Lord of Eden had been subpoenaed to appear first thing after lunch. The committee had to present a united front. He sighed and halfheartedly thumbed through the pile of papers in front of him. Where to start?

The noise grew louder, impossible to ignore any longer. He commed his assistant. “Sten, could you please keep it down out there? I—”

There was a crash, a shriek, and the door opened.

Erik’s heart pumped adrenaline; his head buzzed with it. He stood, fumbling ineffectually with the desk drawer—the locked desk drawer, he realized—where he kept a laser.

A stranger stood in the doorway, a young man. He was half-turning toward the three people opposing him and brandishing a whip of all things, effectively enough to keep all three at bay. He radiated anger and grim determination along with an odd hint of uncertainty, all of this amplified greatly, of course, by the andreatin Erik regularly consumed.

Erik took a deep breath and relaxed. How delightfully archaic. Rather like Reuel. The new young warlord from Eden, no doubt. “You must be Kell. Don’t just stand there. Come in. You’re going to, anyway.”

Buy link:  Amazon

Thanks so much, G. S. for stopping by today! I like your approach to writing science fiction!

Thanks so much for reading today! I hope you’re finding some good books to curl up at home with during this global crisis. There are a few of my books available to read for free. Find out more here. And as always, 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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.