Martha Washington Slept Here: Longfellow House #history #Cambridge #Massachusetts #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Martha Washington surprised me in many ways as I learned about her life in order to write Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel. One way is that despite the lack of traveling she did in her youth, she more than made up for it once she married George. In fact, she went to him every winter when the army went to their winter camp. The location of George Washington’s Headquarters are mostly in the northeast of America if not solely in that quadrant of the original 13 colonies which became states. I have visited most of those headquarters, by the way, walking the same floors and halls and gripping the same hand rails as Martha and George must have.

The first winter headquarters she traveled to was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775. The house is known as the Vassall-Craigie-Longfellow House, which is now run as a historic site managed by the National Park Service. For more on the history of the building and the people who occupied it, click here or here. The house is a Georgian-style mansion built in 1759 by John Vassall, Jr., a loyalist during the American Revolution who eventually moved first to Halifax and then to London in 1776. It is located at 105 Brattle Street. I wish I had been able to visit this beautiful structure while I was touring the others, but I simply couldn’t fit it into my already packed trip to Maine and back.

Mcloughlin Bros., Inc., Copyright Claimant. Home of Longfellow Cambridge, Mass. , ca. 1904. March 8. Photograph. https://www.loc.gov/item/2013645321/

Keep in mind just how very far Martha had to travel in the winter to be with her beloved husband. Back when the journey took weeks not days. During her various trips she made use of a coach-and-six, a sleigh, and even boats and ferries. All because George wanted her at his side and that’s where she knew she belonged.

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

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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Martha Washington and her daughter’s epilepsy #history #medicines #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

During this past week’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of the release of Becoming Lady Washington, I read an excerpt from the book dealing with the many treatments they tried and which failed to help Martha’s daughter with epilepsy fits. It brought to mind just how far the world of medicine has come over the last 250+ years.

I am not a medicine historian by any means but I have read a good bit about how people tried to fight off diseases in the 18th century. Here’s the excerpt I read on Wednesday, with the various kinds of treatment mentioned in bold italics:


Mount Vernon – 1768

One afternoon in September, George searched me out, finding me in the hall where I sewed in the brighter light the area afforded to my work. I set aside the stitching to attend to what he was about to convey. I braced myself when I noted his serious expression. “What is it?”

“I need to speak with you.” George placed a chair nearby and sank onto its wood seat. “I’ll be leaving in the morning to attend the assembly, but I shouldn’t be gone but a month or two. Did you wish to accompany me?”

Oh, how I’d adore to travel with him to Williamsburg, as it would give me the opportunity to visit with my mother and kinfolk. But not with Patsy ill so frequently. My heart simply was not interested in the gaiety of the balls and dinners and the whirl of society in the colony’s capitol.

Dr. Rumney was a necessary but not entirely wanted guest. Each time I sent for him, desperate to find a solution to my daughter’s increasing fits, I prayed for strength and peace. Allowing myself to lose my composure would not help any one. Better to keep calm and seek out ways to comfort and encourage my daughter.

I smiled at George, a small rueful grin as I shook my head. “I desire nothing more than to be at your side, but I cannot leave. I do not trust any one else to attend our daughter. She’s not up to traveling, either. The journey and upset might undo any strides Dr. Rumney has made.” George’s eyes held a wealth of compassion and concern, but I wouldn’t stand between him and his obligations. I could handle the household in his absence. More importantly, I trusted he’d come home if I needed him. “Go and do what you have to. Only do not stay away a moment longer than your business requires. I will be anxious for your return.”

George enclosed my hand in his. “I give you my promise to return as soon as possible.”

Two months passed while I did my utmost to remain positive. But Patsy continued to need the doctor’s ministrations. I kept one eye on her and one on the door, waiting for George’s return. He wrote to me weekly, sharing the gossip and that he’d been asked to lead the Virginia Militia. My pride for his stellar reputation and the resulting trust placed in his hands bolstered my flagging energy. I’d do nothing to give him cause to be less proud of me than I was of him. When George trotted his stallion up the lane in November, Billy at his side like an appendage, I met him at the door to guide him to where Dr. Rumney yet again administered nervous drops and musk to Patsy.

I caught a sharp appraising glance from George, but didn’t give him chance to comment on my admittedly haggard appearance. I’d attempted to correct the ravages of months of worry, but apparently had not succeeded. A fact unsurprising when I considered the keen judgment he possessed. Whether appraising the conformation of a horse or determining the trustworthiness of a servant, he missed nothing. Hurrying him to Patsy’s room, I trusted speed would blur the edges enough to avoid further commentary. No matter what else, at least George returned home to help me shoulder the burden of worry.

“How long has the doctor been here?” George asked quietly, his voice rumbling in the passage.

“This time? An hour or so.” I kept my voice low as we turned the corner.

“I know you’re worried, as am I. We will do all we can, Patsy.” George pulled me to a halt outside the closed chamber door and embraced me, a lazy bear hug that stole my breath for a few moments. Blissful moments snug within the protection of his arms. He eased me away from him and pecked a kiss to my lips. “How frequently has Dr. Rumney been summoned?”

“Weekly.” I clung to his hands, needing their strength and stability, and craned my neck back so I could search his expression. “He continues to use purges and bleedings. Ointments and drugs of various kinds. But it’s all guessing. He told me they do not know what causes these terrifying visitations on a person’s body.” A sigh clawed its way from me. “It’s a terrible thing, to watch your child suffer and be unable to alleviate or remove the cause.”

The last fit had been the worst I’d ever seen, and the absolute hardest event to witness. She’d started to shake uncontrollably, biting her tongue until it bled, and then dropped unconscious. I had eased her to the floor with a bump. She’d slept in my arms for nearly ten minutes before she roused. Ten long, agonizing minutes of staring at her closed eyes and willing for her to be well. I’d sent for the doctor posthaste. I shuddered at the memory. We must find an answer.

“Let’s see what he has to say today.” George opened the door and ushered me inside the sunny room.

Patsy sat in a chair by the window, dark eyes in a pale face, lips brushed with pink, brunette curls hidden under a kerchief, a colorful lap blanket warming her legs. Dr. Rumney turned from where he’d been stirring yet another dosage of nervous drops into warmed sherry. Not that it had worked previously. Surely something would cure her ailment. The tension coiled inside of me would take a miracle to release. A miracle for Patsy.

“Welcome home, Colonel.” Dr. Rumney tapped the spoon on the edge of the glass and laid it on the table. “I do believe we may be making a bit of progress in managing your daughter’s symptoms.”

George strode forward and shook the doctor’s hand. “That’s good to hear, doctor. We’re naturally very concerned about the increased frequency of the attacks.”

“It’s not my fault, Father.” Patsy frowned slightly. “I try to stop them but I cannot.”

“We know it’s outside of your control, dear.” George glanced from Patsy to me and then the doctor. “We’ll keep looking for a way, anything with any hope of success will be tried. Understood, Dr. Rumney?”

“Of course.” Dr. Rumney hurried across the room and handed Patsy the glass. “Drink this and let’s hope it will help abate the events, or at least lengthen the time between them so you can play the spinet again.”

I clasped my cold hands in front of me. After the years of increasing frequency and violence in her spasms, of doctor visits, and a slew of treatments, what more could we try? “Perhaps if we took her to take of the waters at Warm Springs?”

Dr. Rumney put various tools and bottles back into his bag and snapped it closed before addressing me. “I’ve never heard of any one recovering from the falling sickness by doing so, but if it comes down to it, we might try that as a last resort. In the meanspace, continue giving our lovely patient sips of the musk twice a day as prescribed. If you have any further concerns, send for me.”

“Thank you, doctor. I’ll walk you out.” George ushered the doctor from the room, casting a last glance back at me with an encouraging smile.

“Mama, please don’t be sad.” Patsy reached out a hand, wiggling her fingers until I wrapped them with my own. “Would you like for me to play your favorite song?”

I lifted her hand to press a kiss to the fingers. The same fingers that had reluctantly pressed the ivory keys for years. “Yes, I would like that very much.”


The treatments included in this passage were not the only ones they tried. In fact in Patricia Brady’s excellent biography Martha Washington: An American Life, she states:

“Epilepsy was untreatable by any medical knowledge of the day. The Washingtons spent much time and money consulting a variety of doctors (at least eight of them over the years), trying changes in lifestyle, mountains of medicines, and treatment with ‘simples,’ that is, herbal remedies. Dr. William Rumney, an Englishman in practice in Alexandria, treated Patsy regularly for five years, coming down to Mount Vernon every few weeks to examine his patient and bring capsules, powders, pills, and decoctions. Throughout her ordeal, antispasmodics such as valerian and musk were the primary medicines prescribed—to no avail. At one point, poisonous but often used mercury and severe purging were ordered, Martha nursing and watching her daughter throughout. Another time, a blacksmith came and put an iron ring on Patsy’s finger, based on an English folk belief that such rings prevented seizures. Later, they spent a month at Warm Springs, hoping the waters might be beneficial.”

During the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia later in the century, 1793, they resorted to firing guns in the air and lighting fires in the streets along with wearing amulets around their necks to ward off the evil disease. Lots of folk medicine ideas were based on fear and hope not science.

One last reminder. Just for a few more days, both in honor of Memorial Day and Martha’s 290th birthday on June 2, I’ve discounted the ebook of Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel from its regular $4.99 to $2.99 (I would have made it $2.90 if I could have!). This is a limited time sale so get your copy today!

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful summer of reading and relaxing ahead.

Betty

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

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

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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Martha Washington and Memorial Day #American #holiday #MemorialDaySale #MemorialDay2021 #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Happy Memorial Day in America! Although some people object to it being a happy occasion, given that the point of the day is to remember those military personnel who have passed away in service to this country, the day also kicks off the unofficial start of summer. Time for picnics, swimming, cookouts, and outdoor activities of all kinds. But I think that is one absolutely right way to honor our fallen veterans in addition to decorating their graves and flying the Stars and Stripes.

I believe that Martha Washington would have approved of the concept of honoring the fallen soldiers even though the first claims of an official Memorial Day didn’t occur until long after she died, actually about the time of the American Civil War. This is according to an account in America Celebrates! A Patchwork of Weird and Wonderful Holiday Lore by Hennig Cohen and Tristram Potter Coffin. Cohen and Coffin include an article by Ernest C. Klein which summarizes his research into trying to determine the origin of the holiday. He cites an astounding 25 different claims ranging from 1862 to 1868. But the concept of putting flowers on graves has been around a very long time so surely Martha wouldn’t find a reason to object.

Martha lived among the soldiers during the months that the army was in winter encampment. I say “among” as in the same camp although she obviously lived in a house with George, which also doubled as the location of his winter headquarters. With all she is reported to have done to ensure their welfare and comfort, from knitting socks to rolling bandages, surely she would have agreed to pay respect to those who died fighting for our freedoms. By the way, this fact of her involvement at winter camp was only one of the surprising things I learned about her in the course of researching her life and times to write Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel.

What is the best way to not only celebrate a holiday but also pay our respect to those who died for us? I believe that we honor the men and women who sacrificed their lives for us by living our lives freely and openly all while thanking them for their bravery and service. My husband will be sure to put out the American flag and we’ll probably grill some ribs and have some potato salad and such. You know, typical American type of meal, or at least for my family! I am well aware that food is one very diverse way in which we all celebrate differently. Traditional foods we eat in the summer include anything grilled, corn on the cob, potato salad, sliced tomatoes and onions, and watermelon. Although I’d rather have a brownie, truth be told!

This week, both in honor of Memorial Day and Martha’s 290th birthday on June 2, I’ve discounted the ebook of Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel from its regular $4.99 to $2.99 (I would have made it $2.90 if I could have!). This is a limited time sale so get your copy today!

And if you haven’t joined my Facebook fan club, Betty’s Novel Ninjas, you may want to do that today as well because on June 2 I’ll be throwing a bit of a birthday party in the group. I’m celebrating her birthday and the one-year birthday of my novel, after all. And I’ve got some giveaways, fun games, live readings, and even some recipes to share with you all. Come join the fun! You don’t have to stay all day but pop in and out as you have a few minutes to spare.

Thanks for reading! Happy Memorial Day!

Betty

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

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

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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Hauntings and Haunted Houses #research #ghost #haunted #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

Childhood experiences really do make a lasting impression. Some good, and some bad. One of my early experiences was visiting the neighborhood “haunted” house. I don’t know that it was actually haunted so much as abandoned. It stood on the corner near my home. It was a two-story rectangular building. My parents told me not to go in it. Which of course piqued my curiosity. Every time I walked passed it, I wondered why it was abandoned, empty, off limits. What could possibly be in there? One afternoon a friend and I decided to find out.

I was probably 11 or so years old. Definitely younger than 13 which is when we moved from my first childhood home to a new one several miles away. We gathered our courage and tiptoed through the open front door into a dark dusty place. There was furniture here and there. I distinctly remember a sofa in the living room with pillows on it. One of those pillows had a dark spot on it. Blood? I can feel the thrill of fear that swept through me with the thought that someone had been murdered right there.

We kept going from one murky room to the next, peeking into someone’s past but not knowing whose. We eased up the fragile steps to the second story, or at least we started to. I don’t remember what happened next except that we suddenly decided we really shouldn’t be in that house. I do not know if we heard something or felt something or both. What I do know is that we got out – fast!

On another occasion, my parents were offered to stay in an old house on the Eastern Shore of Maryland for a weekend. I was young enough to not be told every detail of how this was arranged or why. We, my parents, my closest in age sister, and I arrived after dark, though, to an unfamiliar and decidedly spooky Victorian style house. I’d bet my dad said something about it being haunted in some way or another. He was known for telling ghost stories from time to time.

There were no lights on, inside or out, and Dad said he’d go in and turn them on. We waited for some little time on the wraparound porch for him to open the door and let us in once he found the light switch. As we stood there, my imagination was firing on all cylinders. Every sound was scary, someone going to attack, or a ghost about to make its presence known.

Suddenly, someone appeared beside me with an eerie light illuminating his face as he snarled. I screamed and clutched my mother. Then realized it was my dad! He’d snuck up on us and shone a flashlight under his chin as he made a scary face and sound. At the time, I was not a happy daughter but I eventually found the humor in the scare. My dad was always joking and pranking, let me tell you!

I suppose those experiences explain why I enjoy telling ghost stories now. It’s fun to get a little scare or thrill from contemplating the unknown, the other, the inexplicable. I hope you enjoy the Fury Falls Inn series which features a ghost or two along with witches and witchcraft. The first book, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, is on sale for only $.99 at Amazon (Kindle) through the end of May.

Thanks for reading! Happy hauntings!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. 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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Spellcraft in Fiction, Or How to Write A Spell #research #magic #magick #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

So, to continue the discussion on basic magic knowledge and skills, let’s talk about spells. (You can read about the basics of magic and Cassie’s wand if you missed those posts.) Now, I’ve written many kinds of documents and texts: poems, essays, articles, technical reports, performance appraisals, newspaper columns, and of course books. But in Desperate Reflections, I needed a spell for Abram to use with his special ring. How does one write such a bit of prose?

So once again I referred to my experts: Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Both have great advice on how to approach spellcraft, if you’re interested in learning more about it. Since I wasn’t looking to write an actual working spell, but one that approximated such a bit of text, I mainly looked at the way language was used and tried to incorporate bits of the meter and flow as well as reverence to the Goddess.

Sabin gave some succinct guidance on writing a spell. She says, “If you choose to write your spell, first think of your goal. Find a way to state your goal clearly in words, either with rhyme or without. Then build the ritual around this center statement of intent. Incorporate the correspondence you’ve chosen, either directly into the words or into the greater ritual.” She goes on to provide a Sample Spell and how to perform the ritual associated with it, which gave me greater insight into how I might write a spell myself.

De Angeles includes many different spells in her book, so I spent some time reviewing them. I was looking for similarities between them so that when I attempted to write a spell specific for my story it would seem authentic and possibly even effective. I borrowed a couple of modified lines from her spells but made up the first two lines in my spell for my purposes. Her spells are much longer and involve specific ritualistic steps. Let me share part of one of de Angeles’ spells, in this case for a Fetch, so you can see what I mean:

“I call upon the powers of Earth,
By Aradia, by Cernunnos!
Come to my circle to guard and to guide!
Blessed be the powers of Earth!
This Cup is the symbol of Woman and Goddess,
This Blade is the symbol of Man and God.
Cojoined, are They, in the way of Creation!
Life within Death, Death within Life.
Blessed be the fruit of the Vine! […]
By the ancient awesome law of Three;
As I do Will so mote it be!”

Here’s where Abram learns the spell from his mother Mercy:

Mercy shimmered into view a few feet from him. “Abram, before you try to shift let me tell you about how you can use the ring to help you succeed.”

He sucked in a shaky breath at her sudden appearance. “Very well.”

“Close your right hand.” She demonstrated with her ghostly hand until he did as instructed. “Then say,

‘I summon the protections of this ring
To guard me and aid me in my intent.
By Earth, By Sky, By Sea
By the ancient Law of Three,
As I Will, so mote it be.’”

“What will that do?” He needed some reassurance of the intent and outcome behind the spell before he’d follow her instructions. Even though he had become adept at adjusting to quick changes, the more he knew beforehand the smoother his adaption to the new direction.

“This spell protects your true nature so you can return to it when you’re finished.” She drifted a little to one side, pressing her lips together. “It doesn’t increase your ability but it does provide a layer of protection.”

He frowned at the idea of casting a spell. Of acknowledging his witchy inheritance. “I don’t know…”

“You do want to be able to shift back into your true self, right?” Her arched brows and slight shake of her head made him feel like a fool.

He steeled his courage. “Of course.”

“Then memorize the spell so you can invoke it when you feel threatened and uncertain.” She smiled at him and then shimmered. “I’ll see you later.”

Now, the spell I wrote is supposed to be used in conjunction with a ring, so don’t try using it, okay? <grin>

Desperate Reflections is out and available! Enjoy!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Which Wand for a Witch? #research #magic #magick #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

Last time I talked about how my characters in the Fury Falls Inn series have to learn the basics of magic. For Cassandra Fairhope, she also needs to learn about her wand and how to use it. Now, after doing a bit of research I can tell you that there are a wide array of opinions on what wood to use, whether to use a fallen limb or cut a fresh stick, whether to decorate it with sigils or other symbols, and more. I needed to decide what wood her wand would be made from so I consulted my two references for their views on wood choices as well as the Grove and Grotto site that provides in-depth information about a lot of wand woods.

Sabin’s advice for people who want to follow Wiccan ways is slightly different from de Angeles’ guidance for people who want to practice witchcraft. Sabin says the wand is “a fancy stick” used to focus energy. She also recommends knowing how to focus energy without using a tool such as a wand for instances where you don’t have one at hand. She says the most common woods for Wiccan wands include oak, ash, and willow. But she adds that a wand can be made of anything including copper or silver or bone among other options.

De Angeles insists that the wand must be made by hand, whether it is “simple or carved, inscribed, or painted with the sigils of magic.” She identifies two types of wands, one that is “permanent” used for your rituals and one that is “created for specific purposes” and then “buried after use.” She provides the length, too. It should be “from (approximately) the tip of your middle finger to the inside of your elbow.” She lists the traditional sacred woods as willow, hazel, oak, rowan, hawthorn, blackthorn, birch, beech, applewood, and elm.

So what kind of wand did I choose for Cassie to use in my series?

I scanned the list of woods at Grove and Grotto to get more information as to meanings and properties of various woods. I was looking for qualities and properties that meshed with what Cassie’s world view and desires are. Then I had to make sure the wood was readily available in Alabama so she would pick up a branch of the tree and use it for her wand. After all, the series is set in 1821 and while international trade was huge even then, it would be far easier to pick from available woods instead of importing a more exotic one. So I visited Flora of Alabama to find out which kinds of trees grow there.

I settled on cherry because of its availability and its specific properties. Especially, “harmonious, feminine energy, good for healing, love magick, unity, and community.” Those aspects of the wood’s properties would call to Cassie at an instinctual level.

You’ll notice I didn’t follow either Sabin’s or de Angeles’ advice as to which wood to use. That’s because I really believe in going with your instincts and I think Cassie would be drawn to something more domestic and relevant to her world. Cassie is a unique individual and so is her wand.

Here’s a short snippet from Desperate Reflections where Cassie’s aunt is giving her the first lesson in how to use a wand. In fact, it’s the first time Cassie finds out she has a wand of her own that’s been locked away in one of her mother’s trunks…


Cassie yanked the keys from her pocket before she could change her mind. Soon the lid was up and the array of jewelry boxes, old books, and keepsakes were exposed. Hope leaned over the open trunk, reaching in to lift first one then another of the heirlooms to inspect. Thankfully, replacing each as she sifted and sorted through the collection.

“Aha!” Hope rummaged deeper into the trunk, and then held up a twisted piece of reddish-brown wood. “I found it.”

“What is it?” Surely that thing wasn’t for her. Something else must have been calling to her.

“Why, your wand, of course.” Hope handed it to her, handle first, a scowl descending on her features. “My sister didn’t even let you keep the wand you made as a girl?”

“I didn’t find out I was a witch until a few weeks ago.” She tentatively accepted the tapered wand. The smooth wood warmed to her touch, humming softly, much like a kitten purring in its sleep. “I don’t recall making it.”

“I was there the day you found the fallen limb of a tree and held it up with such joy on your face.” Hope shifted to aim a bemused expression at her. “Your father shaped the handle into that slow twist and then let you sand it smooth with your little hands. I think you were two or so at the time so it’s quite understandable you don’t recall doing so.”

Gripping the handle of the wand, she gave a tentative flick of the blunt tip in the air. Nothing happened. “How does it work?”

Hope chuckled and shook her head slowly. “Not like that. You must have a purpose and intent in mind when you use it to direct your will.”


Tomorrow, May 11, Desperate Reflections will release! I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think of the story. It’s the third story in a six-book series, so three more to go!

May a good story take you to new imaginative places! Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Book Sale in Honor of a New Release #sale #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #romance #books

It’s May and that means my next release is only days away! So I’ve decided to put the first two books in the series on sale for the month of May to encourage readers to catch up on what they may have missed. Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series Book 3) will release on May 11, 2021, and it’s chock full of surprises, secrets, magic, ghosts, and food! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series now is your chance to grab a Kindle copy of each and save money at the same time.

Here’s what the first two are about:

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. 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…

Only $.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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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…

Only $1.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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Of course, you know there will be more: magic, ghosts, secrets, and food! Pre-order Desperate Reflections to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Now back to writing book 4 in the series… Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Some Basics of Magic and Witchcraft #research #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

I was talking with a friend and fellow author the other day about the process of writing a series. Obviously the biggest difference between writing a single book and a series of connected stories is that there needs to be an overarching story for the entire series. In the case of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series that means 6 stories with an ever-growing cast of characters. The core story in the series is about the Fairhope family coming back together to defend against a common threat. But each story has its own internal story arc as well. Writing this series has been a challenge for me in several ways.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the series which you can read about here. When I wrote that post I had just released the second book in the series, Under Lock and Key, and by then had a better feel for where the series story was heading. Then I wrote the third book, Desperate Reflections, which is up for pre-order now (see below) and will release on May 11, 2021. When I finished writing that story I realized I needed to have a high-level outline of the remaining three books in the series in order to ensure that I wrap up all the of the threads running through these stories. So I took some time to brainstorm all of the events and revelations I could identify that needed to be included in upcoming stories. I feel far more confident that I’ll address the currently open questions as a result! But let me tell you it really stretches my imagination in ways I’ve never done before.

My witchcraft reference books

Another challenge with this series is writing about magic and witches and warlocks. See, I am not a witch nor do I practice magic. Which means I had to do some research to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those people who do practice some form of magic or have special abilities. So naturally I turned to books written by practicing witches to find out more about what life is like for them. Specifically, Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Although they each approach their practice from slightly different perspectives, they agreed on a good bit. These two books also provided the theories and philosophies behind the practical aspects of witchcraft. That is something I intend to weave into my characters’ knowledge as well.

In this series, my main heroine Cassandra Fairhope discovers she comes from a family of witches. She’s surprised by the news but takes to the idea of practicing magic even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Well, neither did I! So I tapped my research books for guidance on the basics she and later her brothers would need to know.

From my reading, the most basic step before performing a spell or ritual is to ground and center in order to protect yourself as you work with the energy around you. According to Sabin, grounding and shielding are both important visualizations to know how to do. Sabin says, “These techniques will allow you to have more control in your energy work by giving you ways to get rid of excess energy and protect yourself from unwanted energy.” I paraphrased her description of the technique she teaches her students to use as a meditation in Desperate Reflections when Abram is reluctantly learning how to ground and center:


“Now, ground and center.”

“How do you expect me to do both?” Abram sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor that evening, hands resting on his knees as he tried to follow his sister’s instructions. He gazed at her, wondering if she believed the mystical nonsense she’d spouted over the last several minutes. “And what do you mean by center?”

“Relax and breathe. Picture a glowing golden taproot connecting your spine to the earth beneath you.” Cassie perched on the edge of a chair in front of the fireplace in the parlor, her expression serene and gentle. “Close your eyes and concentrate.” She paused for several seconds as he let his lids drop. “Can you see it?”

He inhaled slowly, struggling with the conflicting desires to dismiss her guidance as utter rubbish or to follow her instructions and see what might happen. Despite his reservations, the image of a thick, strong taproot like that of an ancient pine tree formed in his mind’s eye. “Now what?”

“Feel the earth’s energy flowing gently and warmly to the base of your spine.”

A slight tingling warmed his hips as he sat with his eyes closed, seeing the energy like a glowing golden stream flowing up along the taproot and into his body. Squeezing his eyes tight to ensure he didn’t open them and lose the image, he waited for her next directions.

“Now feel the energy flow through your legs down all the way to your feet. Then let it flow up your spine and through your arms and hands.”

“It’s so warm. I didn’t expect to feel that.” He flexed his fingers then relaxed them on his knees. The gentle warmth surged through his entire body, filling him with a sense of peace and security but mostly a surprisingly deep connection to the earth.

“That’s perfect. Now, push the excess energy back down the taproot but keep your own energy alive inside.” Her soft voice drifted to his ears and assisted him in easing the unnecessary energy back into the earth through the golden taproot. “When you’re done, open your eyes.”

He pictured the last of the excess energy evaporating into the ground even as a sense of completion and readiness filled him. He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “That was amazing.”


Interpreting the experience from the guidance of a practicing witch helps me imagine how my characters might also have the experience and their reactions. Hopefully with some sense of authenticity despite my own lack of personal experience. I can’t include every aspect of the philosophies and techniques used but I will try to set the stage and the context for my characters and thus for my readers to also have a better appreciation and understanding.

There’s more magic to come, too. Check out Desperate Reflections below and be sure to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Charms in order of the hunt:

#1: Book

#2: Friends

#3: Handshake 

#4: Theater masks

#5: Arrow

#6: Feather

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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