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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Southern Storms Spring into Undying Love #SecretsOfRoseville #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #books

Once you live through a scary event it can really color how you view related occurrences for the rest of your life. I’m speaking specifically about the April 2011 swarm of tornadoes that swept across northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. Most of the damage occurred in northern Alabama, but an F0 took out a pine tree next to our farm house in southcentral Tennessee. We lost power for the day, but it was back by dinner time. Hubby and I left our teenage children at home and went to work, where we spent most of the morning in the storm shelters in the basement of our respective office buildings. Listening to tornado sirens going off every so often all the time. Watching the weathermen/women track the multiple tornadoes sweeping across the state. I can’t tell you how concerned I was that we’d left our very capable, nearly adult teens at home alone. We did touch base with them via phone, of course. They were fine. I was the one having the issues!

When there was a break in the chain of storms, the powers that be let us out of the shelters. I picked up my hubby at his office and we headed home. We stopped on the way to pick up batteries and ice but then went straight home. It was a long day, let me tell you! Hubby finally made a dash to the pizza place to pick up our dinner, but raced a tornado warning home. Thankfully, it veered away from our house. By the time he got home, the power came back on. We were lucky, but Alabama was not. Significant damage was done to the power grid, which left the northern region without power for at least a week. Which meant we couldn’t go to work and since we didn’t bring our work laptops home, couldn’t work from home either. Since we lived in Tennessee we had power, but people just south of us in Alabama—a mere half mile away—did not.

At that time, the spring of 2011, my dad was still alive and living in an assisted living facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Because we were not residents, we could not go visit him because they’d instituted a curfew and you had to prove residency in order to enter any given area. He was barely able to talk on the phone, but I could call the nurses and they would take a phone to him so I could check in with him. It was difficult, but I knew it would only be for a short period of time. That experience gave me some measure of insight into how care givers and family dealt with not being able to see their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that must have been very, very difficult!

So what does this have to do with my stories? Well, when I was writing Undying Love (originally titled Traces when first released in April 2014) I included a tornado hitting the Twin Oaks plantation since it’s set in the spring of the year and in Tennessee. Actually, the fictional town of Roseville is modeled on the small town of Fayetteville, Tennessee, near where I lived then. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:


The double front doors stood open, creating a picturesque backdrop to the array of delicious foods. Grizabella had been relegated to Meredith’s room until the luncheon ended so Meredith wouldn’t worry about her venturing outside, checking out the food, or tripping someone. Before very long, the crowd thinned. The dark storm clouds continued to gather overhead, lightning fracturing the sky. Finally, the last of the mourners paid their condolences, ate their last mouthful, and drove away. The thunder and lightning drew nearer, carried by the increasing wind whipping through the trees and blowing the tall grass so it danced under the onslaught.

“Quite a view from here.” Max had sneaked up on her so quietly she hadn’t heard even a floorboard creak.

“I’ve always loved being on the porch, drawn to it for reasons I only now understand.” She gazed out over the vista, the rolling hills boasting copses of trees, the lake churning in the wind, the road winding its way across the valley and disappearing to the left. The sky turned from dark gray to silver with a green cast, as though growing ill from its own increasing ferocity. She turned away from the storm to contemplate Max, drawn to him, too, for very different reasons. Reasons she must deny herself in order to protect them both. He’s my lawyer, not my lover. “I guess it’s time for you to head to town for the vote, right?”

His expression turned grim. “Why are you pushing me away?”

Before she could formulate a response, the tornado siren blared at the same time the weather radio sounded. Together, they gaped out over the valley in time to see the funnel cloud come into view and take aim on Twin Oaks.

“Oh no!” Meredith cried. “Where’s everybody? We need to take cover.”

“Get down to the basement,” Max said. “I’ll get the cat. Go!”

“I’ll find everyone.” She closed the double doors and then raced down the hall, searching for her family.

They found her, emerging into the hallway from side rooms as she ran toward the kitchen. Brock’s stalwart expression calmed Meredith’s rising panic. Her mother and sister exhibited concern but not fear.

“The tornado is coming this way. Go to the cellar. Now!” She shooed them before her, aware of Max’s heavy footsteps above as he hurried to retrieve her cat.

His offer to find Grizabella and keep her safe warmed Meredith’s heart. His longer stride made it faster for him to retrieve the cat than for Meredith. As long as he hurried, they’d all make it to the safety of the storm shelter.


It seemed logical to include the tornado but little did I realize I was tempting fate!

I set up a Facebook launch party event with other authors helping me celebrate the release of then Traces in April 2014. Note it’s the same month as when the swarm of tornadoes attacked three years earlier. It was nearly the same day of the month, too. That should have forewarned me but did I listen? Um, nope. I carried on, obliviously. Until the afternoon of the release party brought with it severe weather in the form of thunderstorms and, you guessed it, tornado warnings!

I managed to stay online for this virtual book launch through most of the planned event. Then we lost power so I was unable to interact with the partiers any longer. But I had told my co-hosts that I might lose power due to impending storms so they were able to pick up the party ball and carry on. The next day I went back to the group event and let everyone know we were fine and to touch base with everyone who had been kind enough to attend my first romance book launch party. But wow! What a memory, eh?

If you haven’t read Undying Love yet, the Kindle edition is on sale for $.99 through April 7. Grab your copy today and enjoy!

Happy Easter! 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.

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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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!

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.

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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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!

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.

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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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.

https://contest.app.do/betty-bolte-s-easter-egg-stravaganza-giveaway


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!

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.

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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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!

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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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!

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Betty’s Salmagundi for 2

Ingredients

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

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

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

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

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

Betty’s Curried Chicken for 2

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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

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

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

Serve over hot rice. Garnish with parsley and chutney.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Watercress Salad

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

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

Molasses Vinaigrette

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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