Getting to know Claudia Shelton #author #contemporary #romance #suspense #mystery #thriller

I’ve known my next guest, at least online, for many years now. Please help me welcome Claudia Shelton! First a peek at her bio and then we’ll move to the fun part…

Award winning author Claudia Shelton has already proven herself a contender in romantic suspense books that cross over into the mystery-suspense-thriller genre. Whether sexy protector agents or small-town family settings, her fast-paced stories keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. Now, with the release of the first book in her new Nature’s Crossing series, she’s entering the contemporary mainstream romance genre (a crossover between contemporary romance and women’s fiction). The ongoing small-town saga is nestled in south-central Missouri, somewhere between Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and Mark Twain National Forest.

On a personal note, Claudia considers herself a music lover and water person, plus she enjoys anything to do with nature. In fact, the Nature’ Crossing series allows her to bring all of those things closer. Her main priority, though, is spending time with family, friends and her two sweet, conniving rescue dogs, Gidget and Daisy.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Claudia: I began writing seriously in 2006. Finished my first book in 2008.

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

Claudia: My debut novel was Risk of A Lifetime – released 2014 with Entangled Publishing. However, I had short stories published prior to that.

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

Claudia: I’ve been a reader all my life, so I feel that there isn’t just one author influence. Writing and styles and stories change with the times, so the combination of all that has come before, mixed with the stories waiting in my mind at the moment, will always influence what I write. In my humble opinion, I feel that five years from now, I could write the same premise of a story…yet the book would be different than what came out last year. Times change and so do books.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Claudia: I just did! And, of course once you start, the characters, settings, and storylines begin to bombard your mind.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Claudia: My first published books were Romantic Suspense. But the first book I ever wrote was A Week at Most which is a mixture of contemporary romance/women’s fiction/and just a tiny touch of suspense. The manuscript sat on my shelf for over ten years before I reworked the story and published the book in November 2020.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Claudia: That’s an interesting question. One I don’t really have an answer for because there’s so much that feels good in the moment.

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

Claudia: Craft books. Critique groups. Workshops.

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

Claudia: There is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to storytelling. Just write the book!

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

Claudia: Catherine Mann, BJ Daniels, Robyn Carr, Sherryl Woods, Cherry Adair and many, many more. I thank them all.

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

Claudia: The outdoors and being close to nature have always been special to me. And I love my memories of small-town life and country living, music in the air, and swings on the front porch. The Nature’s Crossing series is a feel-good setting which called to me.

If you like the Virgin River or Sweet Magnolias series, you’ll want to read A Week At Most, first book in the new Nature’s Crossing series.

Big-city newscaster Ashley Lanovan never envisioned herself divorced, unemployed, and house sitting for friends during the holiday season. After adjusting to small-town culture shock, she realizes that her priorities have been misplaced for the past ten years and feels inspired to energize the struggling community. But a holiday getaway to Washington, D.C., gives her even more reason to call Nature’s Crossing her home.

Mark Garmund is ready for a change in careers. He’s seriously considering the National Park Services job offer in the area of Nature’s Crossing. Now, he’s got his eye on ten acres with towering pines, a park-like setting, and one sprawling house he could call home. Meeting Ashley has triggered emotions he’d rather not face, and a few he would sure like to pursue. But first he has to earn her trust.


Ashley put together a platter of fruit, cheese, and salami, then tossed crackers in a bowl and finished off the tray with two glasses. The klutz in her feared she might trip on the stairs, so she lowered it through the dumb waiter, retrieving the food once she was down the steps.

As Mark opened the patio door for her, he took the tray as she stepped out into the back yard that had become a wonderland. Flowers sprouted from a watering can placed on the picnic table, lanterns cast a warm flickering glow, and soft jazz floated in the air. Two chairs bordered the wood-filled fire pit. He’d been busy.

“I don’t think you were planning on going to the dance.” Ashley marveled at the finesse he showed in lighting the wood.

He shrugged and poured them each a glass of wine. “You’ll never know, will you? You said no.”

“By the way, don’t forget to take your clean fishing vest. I can get it from my suitcase.”

“Thanks. But I’ll pick it up the next time I’m through town.”

She wouldn’t break the mood by telling him she’d be gone by this time next week.

His grin told her his question even before he asked. “Why’s it in your suitcase?”

What was she supposed to say? That she’d hoped he’d come for the vest? She wouldn’t dare tell him she tried it on twice. Already his flirty tone played with her. “After I washed it three times and got the stink bait smell out, I needed to keep it someplace.”

The cold night air overtook her. She shivered slightly. A sweater instead of the blouse would have been a smarter choice.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No.” She shuddered again. “Maybe a little.”

“Won’t take long for the fire to get going. You’ll warm up fast then.” He pitched more wood on the blaze.

Her teeth chattered together lightly.

Mark removed his leather jacket. Facing her, he wrapped it around her shoulders. “There, that should help.”

It had been a long time since she felt lost in a man’s coat. A long, long time. She smiled as the fresh aroma of his ocean breeze cologne, mingled with the scent of leather against her skin.

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I love being out in nature, too! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration for this story and your writing, Claudia!

Happy reading!


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Round 2: Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

As I mentioned last week when I shared Sheridan’s menu, I have two excellent cooks who have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). The winner’s menu will be added to the Fury Falls Inn’s offerings, so it’s important to each man to prove their worth. This week I want to reveal Matt Simmons’ menu and a couple of the recipes that go with it that I’ve actually made and adapted to suit my and my husband’s tastes.

In my story, Matt has elected to offer a menu that is from other countries. So he makes East Indian Curry, a Salmagundi salad, and French Green Pea Soup. I’ve made Salmagundi several times, and tailored it down to serve two people. The recipe for the salad includes chicken, but you can omit that if you’d like. I hadn’t made the curried chicken before, so I tried that recently and adjusted it down from what the recipe says would serve eight people (using two whole chickens, I might add) to serve two people, with some leftover if you’re not big eaters. While my husband was a tad reluctant to try the curry because he doesn’t enjoy spicy food, he enjoyed it as much as I did since I didn’t use much of the curry powder. (By the way, I didn’t take the time to make my own curry powder despite having a recipe to do so which employed a mortar and pestle. Instead I simply bought a jar of it at the grocery store. I know, I’m being lazy…)

Neither my husband nor myself would enjoy pea soup, so I’m sorry but I’m not going to offer that recipe here. If you’re curious, though, send me an email ( and I’ll share that one privately from the cookbook I’m using.

I think Matt’s combination of the curried chicken and the salad would be a very good one, from my taste buds’ point of view. I think I will make them together in the very near future. I’ve also made a scaled up version of the salad to take to a pitch-in lunch for one of my writing chapters which was a big hit, as well. You know, way back when we could actually get together in person!

So without further ado or disclaimers, here are two recipes from me to you that I really enjoyed making and eating. I hope you enjoy, too!

Betty’s Salmagundi for 2


  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T Italian dressing
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 2 cups salad mix
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, but into bite sized pieces


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken into a shallow pan. Pour Italian dressing to coat and then cover the pan before putting into the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool before cutting into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl, layer the salad, spinach, chicken, and the remaining ingredients.

Serve as is, with dressings on the side, or drizzle Italian dressing over the salad before serving.

Betty’s Curried Chicken for 2


  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • Curry powder to taste
  • 1–2 T Flour
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chicken stock, unsalted
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish with parsley and chutney


In a small sauté pan, soften garlic and onions in 1 T oil. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir. Reserve.

In a large bowl, dust the chicken with enough flour to coat.

In a large sauté pan, brown the chicken in 1 T oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sour cream, chicken stock, and curry sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice. Garnish with parsley and chutney.

By the way, I’ve made apple orchard chutney years ago which I think would be good on this. I need to dig out that recipe for next time. I used store bought chutney this time which was also tasty so you have options as to what kind of chutney you use.

Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. I’ve completed the final draft and sent it out for a second read by a few beta readers. Then I will polish the final, final draft based on their feedback before getting it ready to publish in a few months. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!


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!

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

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Getting to know Elizabeth Caulfield Felt #author #historical #mystery #fiction #amreading

Today’s guest author brings a lifetime love of words to her writing. Please help me welcome Elizabeth Caulfield Felt to the interview seat! Here’s a look at her credentials and then we’ll dive right in.

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt teaches composition classes and children’s literature at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Her novels include Charlotte, which won an award from the UWSP Graduate Council; Syncopation: a memoir of Adele Hugo, published by Cornerstone Press; and The Stolen Goldin Violin, a children’s mystery that takes place on the campus of UWSP during the American Suzuki Institute. Elizabeth is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Elizabeth: As long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil, I’ve written stories.

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

Elizabeth: Oh, my! Having announced I started writing early, the answer to this is many, many years! I was an English and French major in college, so took many literature and writing classes. I belonged to writing groups, joined writer organization and went to conferences, read books, and wrote, wrote, wrote. I was first published in 2005, decades after writing my first story.

Betty: There are as many approaches to writing as there are writers. What does your writing process look like?

Elizabeth: Writing is a struggle for me. I want to be a writer, but I never want to write. I love having written, but the work of writing is such difficult work, with so little reward. I’ve given up many times. However, even during the times I stop writing, I never stop getting ideas for stories. I spend many of my waking hours playing around with characters and plot lines in my head. After a certain point, I need to get these ideas on paper. I guess that’s my process. I think about a story for a long time before I decide to sit down at the computer, picking word after word after word. When my fingers meet keyboard, I know all the important plot points of the story and my characters are already well developed friends.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Elizabeth: I don’t remember; I started writing so young. My first published work was a creative thesis, Charlotte, which is historical fiction. Next was a children’s mystery, The Stolen Goldin Violin, then another work of historical fiction, Syncopation. I’ve written a young adult fantasy trilogy that I’m querying, and my work in progress is a contemporary realistic novel about a writer in Scotland. I don’t have a favorite genre; when I have an idea I cannot ignore, I go to work.

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

Elizabeth: Hmm. This is a hard one. My mother wrote seven wonderful novels and wasn’t able to get them published. So, I knew getting published was difficult. What has surprised me is how many people think writing is easy, that getting published is easy, that if you self-publish you can get rich, that they have a book idea I’d want to hear about…. These types of conversations drive me crazy! By nature, I’m a quiet, polite person, so I usually nod and move on, but geesh! Writing is hard! Getting published is like winning the lottery! I have more book ideas than I’ll ever have time to write about!

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

Elizabeth: The idea for this novel came when a lot of pieces of my life all fell together. In high school, I took French and memorized the poem “Demain des l’Aube” by Victor Hugo. I lived and studied in France for a year and at some point watched the Francois Truffaut film Adele H. At university I wrote a research paper about Victor Hugo and decided I didn’t like him anymore. (He didn’t think much of women.)  Many years later, when I was nearly finished with my first novel, a group of friends were reciting poems they knew by heart. “Demain des L’Aube” flowed forth my memory, as if I’d read it the day before. It is a beautiful poem, and I was sad that it had been written by a man I no longer respected. Then I remembered Truffaut’s film about Victor’s daughter Adele. What if she had written that poem? My research about the Hugo family began, I located a copy of Adele’s journal, and three years later, Syncopation: A Memoire of Adele Hugo was completed. 

Adele, the scandalous daughter of Victor Hugo, describes life with the famous French author, playwright, poet and politician, a man who brought liberty and equality to “everyman” but felt no desire to do so for “every woman.” Adele, an accomplished poet, pianist, and composer, craves a freedom that the nineteenth century and her father will not allow. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is off-kilter, skewed, syncopated.


To life there is a rhythm one knows from the womb. It begins as the beat of a mother’s heart–slow and steady and safe. An infant finds the pulse in its own heart and continues the rhythm in its needy sucking. The toddler pitter-pats to the rhythm, and the sound of the servants starting the day carry it through. The pulse is in the wind and the laps of the waves from the Seine; birds sing it and squirrels chitter it; the very soil under our feet moans and groans to its pounding.

Firecrackers exploded when Adèle was born. July 28, 1830 was the in middle of the three-day revolution protesting the tyrannies of King Charles X. With such a birthday, Adèle was born for glory and fame.

The Hugo house was on the newly constructed rue Jean-Goujon, the wide fields of the Champs-Elysée as their backyard. The family had everything one could desire: parkland to explore, books to read, a small black piano, and each other.

And then one day, as a unit, this perfect family gasped. Those who survived missed a half-beat from the breath of life. If it had been a whole note, they could have perhaps fallen back into the rhythm, but it was a half-beat. They syncopated. They moved out of step, off-kilter. Forever more, they would run and jump and dream and scream, but they would be unable to slip into that easy rhythm, that regular beat that keeps time for the world.

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It’s always interesting to have a peek at the coming together of moments and experiences to form a new story. Thanks for sharing that with us, Elizabeth!

Happy reading!


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Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I have two excellent cooks who are going to have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). So that means I got to choose some 19th century recipes to try out, which of course means adapting and tweaking them to something my husband and I might enjoy. Let’s start with the older cook’s menu, shall we?

Sheridan Drake plans to serve Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Huckleberries, Polenta with cheese, Watercress salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and creamed corn. So I decided to make most of his menu for dinner recently. All except the creamed corn which I know my husband and I do not enjoy. The results were mixed. The duck and the salad were excellent! The polenta? Fail! The recipe I used overstated the water requirement so I ended up with soup instead of polenta. Even after cooking it for 2 hours we couldn’t begin to eat it. I may try again, maybe.

Picture of plated meal: Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce, Watercress Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and leftover tortellini with Alfredo sauce as a replacement for my failed attempt at polenta…

But I do want to share the duck and the salad recipes so you can try them, too. Today, duck breast is expensive to buy at the grocery. I was surprised to find that my local Publix actually carried them frozen. Back when this recipe was created, though, you simply went hunting for ducks so they were not costly at all back then. The original recipe calls for huckleberries, but since I couldn’t find those easily I substituted blueberries which are apparently similar.

I chose the watercress salad and vinaigrette from the menu of a tavern-style dinner my husband and I went to in 2019 which was a reenactment of the dinner Huntsville, Alabama, threw for President Monroe when he surprised the city with a visit in June of 1819, months before statehood. Watercress is something that Alabama is known for, so I knew it would be included in my book as well. The salad at the dinner included goat cheese and blackberries, with an elderberry and molasses vinaigrette. I was delighted to find a bag of watercress at my Publix, too. All washed and ready to use. I had bought some grated parmesan and romano cheese to use in the failed polenta, so I used that instead of goat cheese (again, it’s not our favorite), and some of the blueberries from the sauce for the duck. The nI just used some of our favorite salad toppings to finish the individual salads.

I located a recipe for molasses vinaigrette at and then followed it except I used Dijon mustard instead of coarsely ground mustard. The resulting dressing is delicious, too!

Here are the successful recipes based on what I actually did instead of the original ones. If you try them, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!

Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce


  • 2 duck breasts, bone out, with skin
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper, ground
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 2 shallots diced
  • ½ cup port wine
  • ½ cup beef stock, unsalted
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries

Score the skin on the duck breasts. Sprinkle both sides with garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat the broiler with rack in the top third of the oven. Using nonstick saute pan, melt 1 T butter and olive oil until froth subsides. Brown the duck breasts skin side down; do not turn. Reserve the saute pan and its oils. Place breasts in oven safe pan and broil 7-10 minutes, until flesh is opaque. Remove and reserve breasts in warm place.

Using the saute pan, add the shallots, port wine, and stock to deglaze the pan on high heat, until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add the blueberries and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve the sauce over the duck breasts.

Watercress Salad

  • Fresh watercress leaves
  • Sliced radishes
  • Pecan pieces
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Shredded cheese

Place about 1 cup of leaves in each individual bowl. Top with a few sliced radishes, pecans, blueberries, and add a sprinkle of cheese.

Molasses Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 T Dijon Mustard
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • ½ t black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until well blended.

Enjoy! Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!


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!

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Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Getting to know Renny DeGroot #author #historical #fiction #novel #nonfiction

My guest today is joining us from Canada with a riveting tale to share with you all. Please help me welcome Renny deGroot to the interview hot seat! Here’s a glance at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her story.

Renny deGroot is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. She was born in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Her debut novel, Family Business, was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her second novel, After Paris, has been well received by fans of Historical Fiction and her latest novel Torn Asunder has garnered several readers’ awards including an IndieB.R.A.G Medallion, a Five Star Award from the Coffee Pot Book Club (U.K.), A Book of the Month Premier Award and joint runner up for Book of the Year 2020 from Chill With A Book (U.K.), a Readers Favorite Honorable Mention (Hist Fic) in the 2020 International Book Contest and a Readers’ Pick badge from the Miramichi Reader (Canada).

In 2019 Renny was commissioned to produce a coffee-table non-fiction book about the military history of her former regiment, called 32 Signal Regiment, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals: A History.

Renny spent ten years in the Canadian Forces, retiring as a Warrant Officer.

Renny has a BA in English Literature from Trent University. She lives in rural Ontario with her Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever, and vacations at her cottage in Nova Scotia.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Renny: I was fortunate enough to get the ‘golden handshake’ from my full-time job in 2010 which gave me the freedom to dedicate myself to my writing. Prior to that I dabbled, but I really view my birth as an author from the moment I began full time.

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

Renny: I am a real fan of the classics and continue to go back to them when I am in need of a ‘comfort read’. I am especially inspired by Charles Dickens with his ability to tell important stories and do it in such a way that engages and entertains. Who doesn’t cry at the end of A Tale of Two Cities? He takes the notion of societal transformation and applies it at a personal level with the idea that people can change, and all people have good in them at some level. I work to apply the same method to my writing. I had a manuscript review done of Torn Asunder by the amazing Barbara Kyle during which she told me I had ‘window pane writing’. This comment delighted me because for me, telling a good story is always the first priority. It’s only by truly engaging the reader, that one can have any success in getting one’s message across.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Renny: I started with angst-filled poetry as a teenager (I had a few poems published in school year books that I now flip past quite quickly when looking at the old photos!). I went on to short stories when I took some creative writing classes at Ryerson, and I still occasionally will work on that format (I came in 1st in my group in round one of the NYC Short Story Contest 2 years ago), but my real love is now the novel. I love the scope and leeway I have in evolving the characters and story.

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

Renny: I lived in Ireland for a while and fell in love with the history and drama with which the country is steeped. I thought it was a perfect setting to look at the idea of how we influence others.

Thank you so much for having me here today Betty! I’ve enjoyed thinking about these questions and the journey I’ve taken to get where I am today. The support of bloggers is so vital to indie authors, and I appreciate this opportunity.

Opening in Ireland 1916, Emmet Ryan becomes an inspiring journalist during one of the country’s most turbulent times, but he has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. An Irish multi-generational family drama of divided loyalties.


Emmet joined his father and two brothers cycling home. They burst in on their mother with a clatter of noise.

She wiped her hands on her apron and smiled at Emmet. “You found them all, then?”

Emmet’s father put a hand on her shoulder. “Kathleen, make up some packages of sandwiches for each of us. We’ll be leaving again in a few minutes and I don’t know when we’ll be back.”

She put her hand to her mouth. “It’s not true. You’re not really going to fight?”

“We are. Is there any food ready right now that we could have a quick hot meal?”

She stood with her hand still pressed to her mouth and then glanced over to her youngest son. “Not Emmet as well?”

Emmet felt his chest swell when he heard his father. “Emmet’s old enough to make his own decision.”

She came near him and reached out her hand as though to hold him fast, but Emmet nodded. “Me too, Mam.”

She wiped her eyes with a corner of her apron and then went to the cooker. Her voice was thick with tears and defeat. “The spuds aren’t ready, but you’ll each have a cut of ham on bread with onions and gravy before you go anywhere.”

For a mixed media reading by one of Canada’s leading Irish tenors, click here:

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My all-time favorite Dickens novel is Our Mutual Friend, which was his last completed novel. It’s dark and ironic and clever all wrapped into a fascinating tale. I just received a new copy of A Tale of Two Cities to read for Christmas. It’s been a long time since I read it and I want to see if I like it and understand it better as an adult. Thanks for stopping in, Remmy!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! And as always, thanks for reading!


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You ate what? Wild edible plants in Amy’s Choice #AmRev #histfic #historical #romance #HistoricalRomance #fiction #books

I imagine by now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve realized a couple of things about me. First, I love to try new recipes, adapt old ones, and cook/bake in general. Second, that I am a huge fan of research and history. When I can combine those two? I’m in heaven! Then I write about what I’ve learned, putting it into my stories to bring it to life for my readers. Take for example the following excerpt from Amy’s Choice (A More Perfect Union Book 2). Oh, and before I get into the excerpt, Amy’s Choice is on sale this week for only $.99 at Amazon! Grab your copy before the sale ends on February 12!

So, in the following snippet, Amy and Samantha have ventured into the woods behind Amy’s sister’s house in the countryside surrounding Charleston, SC, in search of foods to include in their stew that is cooking back at the manor:

They walked along in silence for several minutes, Samantha constantly searching the underbrush for edible plants. Amy wished for a less active imagination at least for this one night. Stories of ghosts blended with her memories of the incidents she’d experienced in her life, occasions that confirmed the existence of spirits.

A spiderweb slipped across her face as she ducked a tree branch. Amy brushed at the nearly invisible thread spun by the unseen traveling spider. “Oh!”

“Chin up, Amy.” Samantha ducked under another limb and chuckled. “I won’t let anything harm you.”

“What do you expect to find growing in November anyway?” Amy trudged along, glancing to either side of the trail as slight rustlings sounded at her feet. Bursts of wind eddied leaves along the trail, hinting at ghostly footfalls behind her. A blur of motion drew her attention. Too big for a songbird and too silent for a man. A shiver wiggled down her back.

“Perhaps some lamb’s-quarters but most likely a good bit of chickweed to add nourishment to the rabbit.” Samantha paused and looked about her. “I wish it were spring, when there would be more variety of appetizing plants.”

“How do you know so much about these wild plants?” Amy glanced over her shoulder as another whirling dervish of leaves rose up behind her.

“My time with the Cherokee shaman taught me many things about survival,” Samantha murmured. “Ah, white pine will help us season the stew.”

“A pine?” Amy blinked in astonishment, noting the swift change in subject. “How?”

“The bark adds a very pleasant smoky flavor.” Samantha pushed through the low bushes to reach the tree in question and carefully pulled off some loose bits of bark and laid them in the basket before returning to the path. “That should do.”

“I never would have thought a tree would be part of my supper.” Amy shook her head as she trailed after Samantha’s retreating figure. “Your knowledge is impressive.”

“The woods are full of wonderfully nutritious plants if you know when to harvest which parts of them.” Samantha held a low branch for Amy to grasp, avoiding a nasty slap in the face. “Timing is the key.”

Now please know that I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on harvesting wild plants, and I’ve likely mischaracterized just how you go about harvesting and eating them. I’m sorry if that is the case! My goal is to tell a good story, not teach others about wild plants. With that caveat, let’s look at why I chose those three wild plants for them to be searching for. The simple answer? Because they had the widest chance of being available in the fall in the South.

Chickweed grows worldwide and most any time of the year if conditions are right, according to John Kallas, PhD, in his Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. It’s also highly nutritious, containing bunches of iron, zinc, and potassium, and tastes good to boot if you know how to harvest it properly.

He also sings the praises of wild spinach, or lamb’s-quarters, sharing that it is better than spinach in how much fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. It also grows across the entire country, so the chances of it being where Samantha could find it were good.

Then you have that surprising (to me) ingredient of white pine. I mean, it’s not something I would have even guessed would be edible. But according to Will Brendza of the Skilled Survival site, it most definitely can be eaten and even save your life. If you’d like details on how to prepare and consume pine tree parts, visit Eating Pine – How to Eat A Pine Tree To Survive. He goes into great detail about making pine tea and how to cut and eat pine bark. Knowing that pine trees grow in the South, too, it seemed like a fitting ingredient for Samantha to harvest.

Of course, the other consideration before making my choices was which plants had been in the country during the time period (1782) of my series. All of these fit that criteria, as well.

So there you have it. A peek at my thought process and research for my stories.

One more thing to share with you all! The A More Perfect Union historical romance series is now available in audiobook format! I’ll include the link to Amy’s Choice audiobooks below.

Happy reading!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

When Amy Abernathy’s childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence without a word of goodbye, Amy picks up the pieces of her heart and chooses independence. When Benjamin returns unexpectedly, Amy flees to the country to help her pregnant sister and protect her heart.

Benjamin Hanson knows he hurt Amy, but he also knows he can make it up to her after he completes his mission. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he’s never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from the vengeful British occupation.

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Getting to know Ana Brazil #author #historical #fiction #mystery #romance #books

My guest today is an award-winning novelist. Please help me welcome Ana Brazil! Let’s peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her.

Ana Brazil is the author of the historical mystery Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper, winner of the 2018 Independent Book Publishers Association Gold Medal for Historical Fiction. Ana’s current work-in-progress features a bodacious vaudeville singer beset with murder, mistaken identity, and multiple romances in 1919 San Francisco.

Ana is a long-time student of history and earned her master’s degree in American history from Florida State University. She also worked as an architectural historian in Mississippi. After many years in software development, Ana is ecstatic to write historical fiction full time. Ana is an active member of the Historical Novel Society and Sisters in Crime, is the Events Chair for Sisters in Crime Northern California, and is a founding member of the Paper Lantern Writers historical fiction collective.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Ana: Probably when I was twelve. That’s when my mother died and I found great solace in writing poetry. Very bad poetry, of course, but it was verse that helped me express my sorrow and loss. Getting my feelings down on the page led me to read “real” poetry, and to appreciate the rhythm and power of the written word. I also started reading a lot of historical fiction in my teen years—like Dickens, Austen, and Alcott—and I found great stories to be a great refuge.

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

Ana: My novel Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper was published in November 2017, although much of it was finished about ten years earlier. Every job I’ve ever had had a “writing component.” Sometimes I wrote promotional brochures; sometimes I wrote instructions on how to turn off a database. But I always worked to improve my writing and storytelling. So in actual years, I’d probably written 40 years before my first novel was published.

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

Ana: Great influences: One of my early influences was Anne Rice, especially The Mummy. Her characters, sense of drama, and pacing are really stunning. Plus, she wrote a lot about New Orleans, a city that I love.

Not-so-great-influence: I read a lot of Charles Dickens during my teens and picked up his “cataloging” technique. You know, the “glorious pile—frowning walls—tottering arches—dark nooks—crumbling staircases” type of writing. Good for Dickens; not so good for me. I continually have to remind myself that “cataloging isn’t writing.”

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Ana: A love of reading, of course! I enjoyed reading historical fiction so much that I kept thinking, “What would happen if this character and this character intersected with each other? What kind of conflict would they create? What kind of resolution would they get to?”

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Ana: I went from poetry (again, bad poetry!) to attempts to write short stories to writing a novel and—just a few years ago–to writing real short stories.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Ana: I love writing short stories because they are short and contained. But I love writing novels the best because I get to take a heroine through a life-changing journey.

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

Ana: My love of reading also helped me learn how to write. From reading fiction and non-fiction, historical and contemporary, literature and genre, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I also really benefit from being in critique groups, especially since I ask my fellow critique group members to be really, really honest.   

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

Ana: I have a small independent publisher (Sand Hill Press Review), so there was a lot of time between signing the contract and publication date. I wish that I’d had a second Gilded Age New Orleans mystery to quickly follow the first publication. Lesson Learned: keep writing, writing, writing even when you’re submitting for publication.

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

Ana: I’ve been inspired by Julia Spencer-Fleming, who writes characters who have good hearts and try to do the right thing.

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

Ana: I was in the Tulane University archives in New Orleans going through boxes of clippings and photographs from the 1880s and 90s, all research for my master’s thesis. Inside those boxes I found information about the most interesting women…all of them trying to make the city of New Orleans a better place by doing good works like starting social settlements, teaching in kindergartens, and protecting animals. I was also a big fan of detective fiction and eventually I had the revelation “if these brilliant New Orleans women could solve social problems, I bet they could probably solve a murder as well.” And so Fanny Newcomb was born. And yes, her last name is a tribute to Newcomb College in New Orleans.

A Jack the Ripper copycat is terrorizing the women of Gilded Age New Orleans.

Desperate to know if her favorite student was a Ripper copycat victim, tenacious and quick-witted Fanny Newcomb turns detective.

Fanny’s hunt launches her into New Orleans’ darkest enclaves, saloons, and houses of prostitution. She questions authority, seeks out clues, and digs into long-protected secrets. Fanny’s search alienates her friends, alarms the police, and antagonizes her would-be fiancé. Her efforts infuriate the Ripper copycat, who vows to murder another of Fanny’s students by the end of the week.

Fanny persists, and even appears to succeed in her investigation, until the night her curiosity plunges her into a desperate confrontation with the Ripper copycat.

Can amateur detective Fanny Newcomb stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he murders again?


Fanny Newcomb sucked the blood from the knuckle of her right thumb. Her fingers were stiff and reddened; her nails were torn. Her cuffs were rolled up to her elbows and she’d undone the top three buttons of her bodice. She dabbed the glow from her forehead with her crumpled handkerchief and surveyed her opponent. The battle had just begun.

     The Hammond typewriting machine was not entirely uninjured. The A, P, and W keys were snarled tightly and buried deep in the carriage well. The typewriter was immobilized.

     Fanny’s pride was bruised but her spirit was unbowed. “You’re just a machine,” she sneered. “Wires and plates and copper and keys. I’m smarter than you are. It might take me a while to figure you out but I’ll do it.”

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Sounds like a terrific story and I love the inspiration for it, too. Thanks so much, Ana, for sharing it with us!

Happy reading!


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A Look Back and Ahead #histfic #historical #paranormal #romance #supernatural #fiction #books #mustread #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. My mother, too. Mainly because I finally got around to sorting out what my dad kept in two footlockers. I found a lot of interesting papers and photos that I’ll need to deal with one way or another. I’m looking forward to what family history I’ll glean from several new sets of letters, for instance. But overall, the experience has me thinking about my own history and future.

To date, I have written and published 28 print books, and have 5 audiobooks in the works. One of those, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel novella to the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, is already available for your listening pleasure. I’m working on the third book in the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series, Desperate Reflections, which I plan to release later this spring. Bringing my total published fiction to 29. I don’t count my audiobooks as separate titles, but additional formats for those titles.

That count does not include my and my husband’s joint contribution of chapters in Macmillan’s series on how to use dBase V back in 1995. We had chapters in four different books. That was my only computer software book related writing/editing I’ve done, though I have worked as a technical writer/editor documenting how to use software for various companies as a freelancer. I also worked as a freelance technical writer/editor and then as a full-time employee of SAIC supporting the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for several years.

My dad was very proud of me when I achieved my goal of being a published book author with the release of the first edition of Hometown Heroines in 2001. He couldn’t even read the book, though, for the tears of joy he shed when he held the book in his hands. I had been published prior to that momentous event in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines multiple times. I even had my own column, The Sandwich Generation, where I shared stories about life with two kids and my elderly father living with me and my husband.

While I am not a blockbuster author, I am pleased with my backlist of stories to share with readers. The A More Perfect Union series was my first, and it’s set in one of my favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution and the occupation of the city by the British. The Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series is set in a fictional town that is based on the small town I lived near while I wrote it: Fayetteville, Tennessee. This series is my first series that includes witches and ghosts, and I had such fun writing it! There are two standalone historical fiction novels as well, Becoming Lady Washington and Notes of Love and War. Both of those released during the pandemic in 2020 (June and July, respectively) to great reviews. And now I’m working my way through the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series which is set near where I live now, Huntsville, Alabama, featuring a haunted roadside inn and its resident ghost and witches and magic. Getting to know the history of the state of Alabama has been a bonus as I’ve researched life here in 1821. You can read excerpts of each of my books at

What’s next? The first thing I’m going to do is finish the Fury Falls Inn series, which entails writing three more stories to finish the family’s tale. I’ve been pondering putting my colonial adapted recipes into a cookbook. I’ve considered writing a book on writing based on all that I’ve learned over the years. I want to finish writing Dolley Madison’s story, too. A Civil War Christmas story is on the back burner but may be moved up later this year. Then there’s an American Revolution trilogy I’ve been thinking of spinning off from the AMPU series. What do you think I should do after I finish the FFI series next year? Suggestions? Requests?

But one thing I do know for certain. I need to finish going through and cataloguing my dad’s papers and photos and deciding which are of historical value and worthy of donation to a museum. Which should be preserved in albums for future generations of my family. What family history needs to be saved into the family tree I started decades ago and need to update. I have far more projects than time!

My priority, though, is writing the best story I can for my readers. I thank you for reading! Now I need to get to work…


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal…

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser–a former beau–promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer–the only man she’s ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family’s reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

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