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

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

Front page of an issue of Coconotes camp newsletter

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

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

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

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

Mailing envelope from my dad to his mother

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

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

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

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

Hoppy Easter and thanks for reading!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

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

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

Kedar: About 15 years.

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

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

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

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

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

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

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy spring and happy reading, everyone!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next time. Happy reading!


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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 E.V. Svetova #author #YA #fantasy #mythical #mystery

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

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

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

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

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

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

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

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

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

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

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

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

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

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

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Buy links: Books2Read

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

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


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

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

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

Betty Bolte’s Easter Egg-Stravaganza Giveaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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Getting to know Suanne Schafer #author #womensfiction #historicalfiction

Life experiences can inform an author’s work in many different ways. Today’s guest author has used hers as well. Please help me welcome Suanne Schafer! Let’s find out about her background and then move right into the interview.

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Now a retired family-practice physician whose only child has fledged the nest, her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her imagination and her writing. Originally, she’d planned to pen romances, but either as a consequence of a series of failed relationships or a genetic distrust of happily-ever-after, her heroines are strong women who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them.

Suanne’s short works have been featured in multiple magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. She has two published novels with a third on the way. A Different Kind of Fire explores the life of a nineteenth century bisexual artist living in West Texas while Hunting the Devil explores the heartbreak and healing of a biracial American physician caught up in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Suanne is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Besides stints as a travel and medical photographer and a family practice physician, she served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for an on-line literary magazine.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Suanne: I was planning my post-retirement life and wanted something to do that would keep me mentally challenged once I left my medical practice. I became nostalgic for long summer days at my grandparents’ West Texas ranch when I’d hole up on the back porch and read Tarzan books by the hour. I figured if Edgar Rice Burroughs could write nearly eighty novels in his thirty-nine-year writing career, I could crank out a novel. So I re-read all twenty-seven Tarzan books as well as the one finished posthumously by Joe Lansdale, and Tarzan Alive, a pseudo-biography of Tarzan by Philip Jose Farmer. Then I started writing. I quickly learned writing wasn’t as easy as I assumed. I did a Google search for writing schools and came up with Stanford University’s Novel-Writing program It was a good choice for me since it was all online. I “met” people there I am still in contact with, and we often exchange beta-reads and editing. I retired from medicine in 2015 and have been writing full-time since.

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

Suanne: I wrote for about a year before starting the Stanford program. I completed it in 2½ years. The program is quite comprehensive, and I’m convinced it saved me years of random attempts to learn about writing. That said, I believe we authors should perpetually attempt to improve our skills.

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

Suanne: My favorite books include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The Gabriel Allon spy series by Daniel Silva

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The clarity of these authors’ prose and their subject matter all appeal to me.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Suanne: I started with a female Tarzan book about an anthropologist working with the Maasai in Tanzania. Reading it now, it is wayyyyyy too long, has tons of point-of-view shifts, unresolved plot bunnies—it’s so bad, I can’t get past chapter one.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Suanne: I started out wanting to write romances but had difficulty with the happily-ever-after—maybe because I was in the midst of a divorce. Now I write women’s fiction with elements of thrillers in which the protagonist is pushed to her utmost and intersects with men who might—or might not—love her.

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

Suanne: As mentioned above, I completed the Stanford program. I am also fortunate to have discovered SARA (San Antonio Romance Authors). This is an incredibly supportive group of authors with both online and in-person critique groups. One of the members can always be counted on for a beta-read or be available to critique.

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

Suanne: I wish someone had warned me how mind-numbing and emotionally debilitating the process of querying is, and once a book is published, how difficult promotion is.

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

Suanne: Hunting the Devil came from my experiences raising a biracial son and traveling to Africa.

When Dr. Jessica Hemings volunteers for a medical mission in Rwanda, she becomes entrapped in the maelstrom of Rwandan politics and the enmity between Hutus and Tutsis. Her Tutsi features plunge her into the Rwandan Genocide. Dr. Cyprien Gatera, Jess’s superior and a Hutu radical, commandeers her clinic, slaughters her patients and her adopted sons, then forces her to treat his wounded. She escapes and survives three weeks in hiding before finding refuge at Benaco refugee camp in Tanzania.

There, Jess vows revenge. She searches for Gatera with the help of Michel Fournier, a French lawyer-turned-war-correspondent, and Dr. Tom Powell, her long-time ex-lover. When an unknown informant passes information to Jess about her nemesis, she returns to Rwanda, despite warnings from the Belgian Secret Service that Gatera plans to assassinate her. In their final showdown, Jess must decide if revenge is best served cold—or not at all.


Jess’s hands were filthy. But that didn’t matter. She had no treatment, no surgical instruments, no antibiotics. Despite years of medical training, she couldn’t save the boy. He was doomed to a painful death. She ran her hands over his head. His whimpers lessened at her touch. The Hippocratic Oath flashed though her mind. Do no harm. If she stayed to care for him, she risked recapture. He was too big for her to carry. Transporting him to safety would inflict more pain without improving his prognosis. Yet she couldn’t abandon him. Though he had little time left to live, he shouldn’t suffer. Only one option remained.

She wiped tear streaks from the boy’s face. “I promise you’ll join your family soon.” Visions of her year-old twins flashed before her. No! If she thought of them right now, she’d go insane. She shoved those memories into the deepest vault of her mind and slammed the door.

Jess closed her eyes, placed her hand over the boy’s mouth and nose, and pressed firmly into his round face.


The raucous cry of a go-away bird jerked Jess back to the present. She opened her eyes. Looked down. Her hand remained clamped over the boy’s face. With her other hand, she felt for his pulse. Nothing. She slumped in relief. A lifetime had passed—literally—in a moment. She lifted her hand and stared at her shaking fingers. Trained to save lives, she’d just—

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 Thanks for sharing that riveting story, Suanne! It sounds like a heart- and gut-wrenching read that will illuminate what it was like during that time.

Spring is right around the corner and I can’t wait! Grab a book and a cold beverage and head outside as often as possible. Thanks for reading!


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Martha Washington and International Women’s Day #American #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m sure we can all name women we admire and women who have made immense differences in the country and the world with their actions and loving attention. I admire many who are smarter, braver, and more daring than I could ever be. The world is a better place for them!

I suppose one of the most inspiring examples of a strong woman who faced unprecedented and unique challenges is Martha Washington. In researching her life and times, it was brought home time and time again how she faced the death of a loved one with grace and dignity and love. Until the death of the love of her life brought her to her proverbial knees. Even then she managed to press on through the grief and the ensuing loneliness after George was buried in his tomb.

But she did much more than survive her loved ones’ passing on. She helped bolster George, gave him a firm foundation from which to lead the fledgling country to victory during the American Revolution. Then kept him grounded and nurtured as the country’s first president and all of the many, many confrontations and hurdles he faced.

All while managing a large “family” both at home at Mount Vernon and in the field during the war, overseeing the management of the war camps during the winter months and then the presidential house in two different cities. She forged the path of the role of First Lady, establishing the acceptable protocols and etiquette. It’s never easy to be the first, but she used all of her training and experience as plantation mistress to organize an efficient household no matter what the other circumstances might have been. Keep in mind this meant making clothing, linens, medicines, foods, drinks, maintaining the household garden, and managing the imported foods and drinks kept under lock and key. It meant educating the children in history, math, reading and writing, as well as dance, art, music, and horticulture. She had to have her finger on the pulse of the entire operation in order to ensure a smooth and efficient household.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know she wasn’t the perfect woman. She was raised within a belief system that is long dead and buried and needs to stay there. And of course she employed the help of her indentured servants, slaves, and paid servants. Given the constraints and expectations of women in the 18th century, I think she did very well at pushing the boundaries and demonstrating how capable and intelligent women are and can be when given the chance. She found a way to balance the feminine ideal of the times with a business acumen that did her proud and kept her family together. She found a way to combine societal expectation with her personal goals and make a new path forward.

So on this special day, I wanted to give a shout out to her, but also to all the inspiring women who lead the charge toward finding a better tomorrow for every woman.

Thanks for reading!


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Visit for more on my books and upcoming events.

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

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

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

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Getting to know Jacie Floyd #author #contemporary #romance #womens #fiction

Jacie, thank you for being my guest. Please tell my readers about yourself, and the book you are sharing with us today.

Throughout her life, Jacie Floyd resided in the solidly Midwestern states of Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. Going to school, finding her ideal mate, raising two perfect children, and following her husband’s career relocations from state-to-state kept her more than busy. Despite numerous jobs and professional attempts of her own, nothing career-wise ever stuck. In her heart of hearts, she longed to follow her dream of being a full-time writer. So, in 2014, she enthusiastically ditched the unfulfilling day job and freezing mid-western winters to live and write in sunny Florida… Until the possibility of grandmother-hood became a reality, frequent air travel became impractical, and the idea of living so far from her children became unbearable. So a recent relocation to Louisville, Kentucky has absorbed much of the past six months, and winter has been a horrible reminder of why she left the area in the first place. The promise of her first grandbaby in May more than made up for what is, hopefully, her last major move. But she will continue to write her books about love, laughter, and happily-ever-after.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jacie: Hi Betty! Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about my books and writing life on your blog! ‘Becoming’ a writer can be defined by many different milestones. In high school, I made my first attempts at writing poetry and short stories. I joined RWA in 1997. Finished my first full-length novel in 1999. I won my first Golden Heart (a major award for pre-published authors) in 2001. Published my first book in 2014. But, honestly, I think I was born a writer. The compulsion to write either consumes you or it doesn’t.

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

Jacie: Oh, so many. I was an avid reader from birth. Of the early romance authors, the one who most impacted me and my writing was LaVyrle Spencer, because she wrote both historical and contemporary. Even then I knew that Contemporary novels would be my lane. She wrote clear, precise, emotional stories about real people in challenging, but identifiable situations. Then came Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Cruise, Kristin Hannah, Avery Flynn, and Kristin Higgins, and so many more. The humor and fast pace of these authors’ books wins me over every time.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jacie: When I began writing with an eye to publication, it was always contemporary romance for me. Initially, they were sweeping stories with soap-opera cliff-hangers and over-the-top drama. My style has changed greatly since then.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Jacie: The actual fingers-on-keyboard, butt-in-chair act of writing brings me great joy: creating characters, putting words in their mouths and emotions in their hearts. If I could sit at my desk and make up fictional characters, all-day-every-day, I’d be completely happy.

Betty: How did you learn to write?

Jacie: A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else? Allowing for the fact that ‘learning to write’ is a never-ending journey, extensive reading has always been a major influence. I’ve taken numerous creative writing classes. For many years I was part of a critique group, and now I have an editor with a keen eye for plot loopholes and overwriting. Mentoring others is invaluable at this stage in my career. But the best education is just figuring it out by sitting down and writing.

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

Jacie: Better time management. Writing and publishing are two different jobs, but I wish I had known that I’d need to learn how to do both. At the same time.

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

Jacie: ALWAYS ALLIE is the first book in a new series (The Billionaire Brides), but it’s a spin-off of The Billionaire Brotherhood. While I loved writing about the amazing men of the brotherhood, I kept having the urge to flip the trope and make some man have to deal with a powerful woman for a change. As the sister of the hero in the first Billionaire Brotherhood book (WINNING WYATT), Allie’s story always intrigued me. So THIS is the story of a female executive who’s strong, confident, sexy, and wears stilettos. 

Allison Maitland Spencer is the billionaire president and CEO of Wyatt Enterprises. Following in her legendary mother’s footsteps as a strong, independent woman, she always gets what she wants—in business. Focused on her corporate responsibilities and raising her challenging teenage son, she doesn’t have time or energy for romantic relationships.

But when Buck Cooper, her high school sweetheart, returns, she’s reminded of sweet memories and tempted by the possibility of passion-filled nights. The seductive tech developer seems determined to reclaim her heart.

Their off-the-chart chemistry is a welcome distraction, but his past baggage and current secrets fill Allie with doubts. Is his pursuit based on desire or a plot to take over her company? Buck has easy answers for all of Allie’s questions—except the one about their future.


As Allie maneuvered through the well-dressed crowd, goose bumps pebbled her skin. Her nipples hardened beneath her silk dress and lace camisole. Good Lord! Where had that reaction come from? Totally inappropriate. And unexpected. How long had it been since she’d experienced such a visceral response from an unknown source? Or even a known one?

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and turned her head to view the guests populating the surrounding area. Mingling. Laughing, Hugging. Nothing nipple hardening about any of it.

Angling her body slightly, she perused the men thronging the bar. Young men, old men. Men with new money, men with inherited money. Men with no money who hoped to be wealthy someday. Men who would hit on her because she was rich or because she was powerful. Men who’d be intimidated for the same reasons. Athletes, executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and adventurers. Typical for any elite social event.

None of them captured her attention or instigated the awareness prickling down her spine. Until the crowd cleared, and then… Yes, her brain whispered with satisfaction. Yes! her body shouted with excitement.

That one. Tall, hard, chiseled, and broad-shouldered. A body that begged to have the tuxedo ripped off it.

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I’m sure it was a major adjustment moving from the warmer Florida climate to the much colder Kentucky one. ALWAYS ALLIE sounds like a great read. Thank you for sharing it with us today.

Until next time…

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.

Who took my plane??? Airplane Repo and Romance #airplane #romance #paranormal #fiction #books #amreading #kindle #sales

One of the more unique premises for my stories came from a question I asked my Facebook fans. What jobs or careers haven’t been written about very much? The answer that kicked my imagination and curiosity into gear was airplane repossession agent. A bit of online searching yielded some interesting facts about this career choice. The qualifications and opportunities were fairly easy to discover.

The more I delved into the job description, the more excited I became because the guy who would do such a job was the perfect match for Beth Golden, a bored craving adventure bookseller in a small town. Thus the character of Mitch Sawyer sprung into my mind.

Did you know there is a reality TV series based on airplane repo, by that name even? I watched as many episodes as I could, taking notes all the while. The situations the repo agents find themselves in are indeed scary and pointed out the kinds of training, education, self-defense, and protection the agents need to have. Turns out it’s a very dangerous job, too. Mainly because you can’t hook up a tow truck and take back the plane; you have to make sure it’s airworthy and then fly it out without being stopped by the person who defaulted on the mortgage. A typically macho male person who is never happy with his plane being taken. Flying it out can be tricky depending on where the plane is: inside a hangar; on the lake with its pontoons; in the middle of several other planes. The repo agent needs to be able to protect himself and get the job done safely. This is why Beth decides to take Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and learn to shoot a pistol, so she can help a reluctant Mitch in his work.

In one episode of the show, I saw a situation that I tailored in Veiled Visions of Love. In the TV episode, the repo agent pretends to be taking a flying lesson as a gift from his female coworker so he can take the plane up and then take control of the plane to repossess it. You’ll find a similar setup in my story, with Beth acting like she’s paying for Mitch’s first flying lesson, when he is actually an Air Force fighter jet pilot. He knows what he’s doing, in other words. I loved the idea of the couple working together to repo the plane and give Beth a taste of the thrill of the chase and capture of the plane. The problem is she becomes addicted to the thrill, much to Mitch’s dismay.

Here’s a short excerpt from the book:

“Ready for your flying lesson, Mitch?” She winked at him, one hand going to her hat to settle it back in place. Already acting the tourist. Patting the purse, she canted her head with a smile. “I’ve got the paperwork right here.”

He nodded, unable to trust his voice for a moment. She’d be a great distraction to the other men if his reaction served as an indicator. For now, their safety depended on him. Later he’d let his imagination out to play. He tamped down his clamoring libido and focused on the task at hand. Time to slip into his own newbie tourist character.

Mitch pasted a goofy smile on his face and made a show of enthusiasm as they turned toward their targets. “I can’t believe you’d do this for me, Miss Beth. Thank you so much.”

They approached the two men who rose in unison from their folding chairs. Mutt and Jeff looked like they were upstanding citizens but Mitch’s file on them proved otherwise.

Mutt, otherwise known as Byron Carter, renowned for his extravagant life style he rarely paid for. Making money on one project to pay off the last flop, only to fail at the new endeavor and having to try yet another. The old rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul merry-go-round of finance. Only the current attempt involved an expensive plane the real owners, the bank, wanted back. Now.

Jeff, or Ned Wright, was not the sharpest pencil in the holder. Some questioned whether there was any lead at all. The man was adept at following orders, though, making him the perfect partner for someone like Carter.

They’d taken the plane but didn’t make the payments for the past six months. Time for the good ol’ boys to learn a little lesson from a certain pilot. He kept the false smile in place as he stopped in front of the two men. No sign of weapons but they could have them concealed in one of several ways. Like he did.

“Hi, there.” Beth started talking, drawing their appreciative looks. “I bought a flying lesson package for me and my friend here to take a little hop in your airplane. Are we too late?”

“No, ma’am, you’re right on time.” Carter held out a hand to Beth and then to Mitch. “I’ll be taking you both for a thirty-minute flight right after we sign the releases and take care of the final flight prep. Follow me.”

Mitch grinned at Beth, ensuring for himself that she was still on board with the plan as they’d discussed. She winked at him and hurried after Carter.

Veiled Visions of Love is on sale (the Kindle edition) for $.99 this week only! I hope you enjoy Beth and Mitch’s story. Thanks for 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.

Psychic Beth Golden longs to live the life of a heroine in a suspense novel but knows she’ll die of boredom working in the bookstore in the small town of Roseville. Until a pilot rolls into town on his motorcycle with a secret mission. When he introduces her to a whole new world of daring and romance, she’s captivated by a lifestyle filled with unexpected and dangerous surprises.

Major Mitch Sawyer, currently serving in the Reserves, has lived all over the world and wants nothing more than to have his own home with a wife and family. Forced to complete one more airplane repo job before he can afford to resign his commission and make his dream a reality, he entices a sexy book lover to help him by becoming an undercover biker chick. Only Beth’s hunger for excitement endangers both herself and an innocent bystander. Can he protect them—and his heart—before it’s too late?

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