What shape piano? Grand? Upright? Square? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #American #piano #music #history

I grew up with an upright piano in my family home. I never took lessons but I did learn to play it. I taught myself after learning to play a viola at school for the ensemble and orchestra. I played viola from third grade all the way through school. Even auditioned for and was selected to play in all-county and all-state orchestras while in high school.

But piano was something I “fiddled” with on my own. I could pick out a tune to sing along with, similar to how I could play along on a guitar which I also essentially taught myself to play. Not that anyone would want me to play either of those this minute since I haven’t played in a while now. I’ve been focusing on my writing and research but I do have both a guitar and an electric keyboard in the house tempting me most every day.

When I decided that Cassandra Fairhope would play the piano in my Fury Falls Inn series, I did some research to determine the kind of pianos available in the early 1800s in America.

Standard shapes and sizes of pianos include grand, baby grand, and uprights of various dimensions. As I poked around at the Antique Piano Shop I came across one shape that was new and intriguing to me. Especially since the Shop claims it’s “one of the earliest pianos every manufactured in America!”

Image shared from the Antique Piano Shop site

This is a square piano made by Chickering and Stewart, which is undergoing restoration at the Antique Piano Shop. Jonas Chickering was the first official piano manufacturer in America, and James Stewart was his partner during the first four years of his business. After a few changes in partnership, Jonas included his sons in the business in 1853, which then became known as Chickering & Sons. The company was based in Boston, Massachusetts and is “known for their award-winning pianos and music instruments of topnotch quality.” Chickering and Sons is now a piano brand of the American Piano Company (Ampico), according to Total Piano Care’s history of the company.

This piano was built in 1823 (according to the Antique Piano Shop) and is made of Honduran Flame Mahogany Wood in the Early American style. I think it’s a beautiful piece of furniture and wonder what it sounds like. I’d love to “fiddle” with the keys on this pretty baby!

On a side note of research: It’s interesting to me that Total Piano Care lists the serial numbers and dates of manufacture for “all” of the Chickering & Sons pianos, starting with 1824 as the earliest date. Not the 1823 claimed by the Antique Piano Shop. Perhaps the first pianos Chickering and Stewart produced didn’t bear serial numbers so that’s why this piano is dated 1823?

I am claiming a bit of poetic license by including this style of piano in my 1821 series, but how could I resist? Not only is it pretty and unique, but it also restores a piece of American history through the sharing of its existence in my stories. So please forgive me for not being entirely accurate this one time.

Do you play piano? Have you heard of a square piano? Have you played one? From the description of Chickering’s quality and numerous awards for his pianos, I imagine it would have a lovely sound. Makes my fingers itch to play again! How about you?

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Getting to Know Tari Lynn Jewett #author #womensfiction #romance #socialmedia #mustread #fiction

Ready to meet a fascinating author? Tari Lynn Jewett writes both romantic comedy and women’s fiction. From her experience, I bet she can weave some intriguing tales, too! Here’s a bit about her before we get to the interview.

Tari Lynn Jewett lives in Southern California with her husband of thirty years (also known as Hunky Hubby). They have three adult sons, all who live nearby. For more than fifteen years she wrote freelance for magazines and newspapers, wrote television commercials, radio spots, numerous press releases, and many, MANY PTA newsletters. As much as she loved writing those things, she always wanted to write fiction…and now she is.

When she’s not writing, you can find her at the beach, in her sewing room, or curled up with a good book. She’s also been known to play a mean game of pool.

Tari believes in happily ever afters…because she’s living hers.

Learn more about her at www.tarilynnjewett.com and connect with her on social media:

Facebook: Tari Lynn Jewett

Instagram:  Tari Lynn Jewett

Twitter: Tari Lynn Jewett

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Tari: My first book #PleaseSayYes was published in a boxed set in February, 2018, and I rereleased it as an individual book in February, 2019. The 2nd book in the series will be out in June of this year.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Tari: I write both romantic comedy and women’s fiction. I love both genres, women’s fiction gives me the opportunity to explore darker, edgier topics, and to try to work my way through those topics to resolution. The romcom’s are light and fun, and while they often have a message, they’re an easy escape for me, and hopefully for the reader as well!

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Tari: In the #HermosafortheHoliday series, the over-arching theme is social media, how it has changed, enhanced and challenges our daily lives.

So, you think social media has taken over your life?

Lucy Vaughn, aka @LucySchoolmarm, can’t believe her eyes when she wakes on New Year’s morning to find a message from a secret admirer on her favorite social media site, and everyone sees it!

Each day he posts a photo giving her a clue as to who he is with a message letting her know he intends to ask her out for Valentine’s and the hashtag #PleaseSayYes. Before she can decide what to do, the posts go viral, and the whole world weighs in on whether she should say yes or no.

Should she take a chance?  Will social media bring them true love, or keep them from finding each other? Only chocolate, wine and advice from her girlfriends can help her now.

#ValentinesIsComing #SecretAdmirer #PleaseSayYes

Amazon      Barnes & Noble      Apple      Kobo

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Tari: Our youngest son moved out last summer, it took me until January to finally turn his room into my ‘library’. The walls are lined with books, and it’s where I usually write, and always revise/edit. However, I do like to take my laptop out to the patio and write outside, and when I need to get away, my favorite place to go is a little place called The Great Room Café. It’s a good place to write, with outlets, excellent food, and they don’t mind if you stay all day long.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Tari: I’m a morning person, so I usually write in the morning. I do listen to music, but it depends on what I’m writing. If I’m working on my 1920’s women’s fiction I’ll put some 1920’s tunes on Pandora while I write, but if I’m writing romcom, I listen to light energetic pop music.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Tari: I actually say I’m an ‘accidental author’. I started writing non-fiction years ago as a hobby. I walked into the local newspaper editor’s office with some samples for a parenting column (no appointment) and asked to talk to the editor…she gave me the column. I did the same thing a few years later and got a law column. I don’t know that that would work these days. Then when I was a divorced mom with a preschooler I was fired from a job, came home and the editor of The Toastmaster called and asked if I could have an article to her by Friday. I didn’t have a job so I could.

I earned more money for that article than I had at my job, so I kept writing for magazines and newspapers. I got a food column in a newspaper because of a wrong number phone call…yes, this is true.

So I wrote non-fiction for 15 years while my boys were little, and just wrote fiction for myself. I met Rebecca Forster, bestselling author of legal thrillers during those years, and later she would become a mentor, along with Caitlyn O’Leary, bestselling author of Navy Seal romances. In addition, I’ve been a member of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America for 8 years, and learned so much from that amazing organization. I also have an incredible online writer group #CharmedWriters. So much support, education and cheerleading in that group, and amazingly talented authors.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Tari: I’d like to think it’s my characters. They’re real to me, and because of that I hope they’re real to readers.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Tari: Characters come first for me, and I let them tell me the setting and story.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Tari: When my boys were small I had to write whenever I could squeeze it in, usually late at night. Now I write during the day from about 8am to 3pm.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Tari: Learning how to navigate the waters of indie publishing!

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Tari: I do, but it’s not my best writing time of year. From Halloween to New Year’s, I’m all about the holidays, so I don’t get much done in November.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Tari: I just started Black Wings, by Megan Hart.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Tari: It depends on my mood. I love women’s fiction, historical, romance, classics, and lately dystopian. Really, I just love a well written book.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Tari: Oh my gosh, like I said, I have a library now filled with books! I don’t often reread a book because I have so many in my TBR pile, but every now and then I’ll reread something really special, maybe once every year or two.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Tari: Sometimes I do, I don’t specifically choose to read or not read the genre I’m writing, I just read from my TBR pile, or something that I’ve heard is good.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Tari: I’m now writing full time! Woo Hoo!

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Tari: How fast it’s changing, and how much it’s changing, and that we’re all learning as we go. And how important they are to what happens next.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Tari: READ, read, read, join a good writer support group, take classes, learn your craft, and most importantly, put your Butt in the Chair and write.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Tari: Aside from the next book in my romcom series, I’m working on a historical women’s fiction novel, set here in Los Angeles, here’s my ‘elevator pitch’ for Fascinator:  She always did the right thing…until she didn’t. It’s the roaring twenties and former Rose Queen and oil heiress Violet Conrad appears to have it all, until she discovers that her husband, Miles isn’t who he appears to be, and is suddenly thrust into a world of lust, drugs, and rum runners. How many secrets can she keep before somebody dies?

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Tari: I’d like to experiment with dystopian. It’s terrifying, but it’s also something I’ve been drawn to lately.

What an interesting person and the theme of your latest book, social media and its effects on people, sounds both interesting and timely. Thanks for joining me today, Tari!

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 my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Dog required if you live in a Dogtrot House? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #architecture #Alabama200

Do you know what a dogtrot house is? If you live in the South, you very well might! Since I am originally from Maryland (which is still technically south of the Mason-Dixon Line…) this wasn’t a style I was familiar with. Yet I had actually been in a “dogtrot” house—my aunt and uncle’s home outside of Baltimore.

The concept today is known as a breezeway, where two separate sections of the dwelling are connected by a floor and roof, and possibly doors/windows at either end. But in the 1800s, the space was left open at either end to encourage airflow for homes in the South. Keep in mind there wasn’t any air conditioning yet in that time so building a space where the family—and the dog—could dine on hot evenings, or simply sit and work on whatever project needed doing was a huge benefit.

When my hubby and I visited Burritt on the Mountain a few months ago, I came across the name of this style of residence and decided to incorporate it into my new series.

In my Fury Falls Inn series, I have chosen this basic style made into a two-story structure. It’s also far more refined since it’s constructed of brick and stone instead of logs and chinking. The owners, Reginald and Mercy Fairhope, want to make a statement about the desirability of the inn’s lodgings and menu. Reggie strives to make the furnishings and the appearance of the place welcoming and inviting to travelers and locals alike. So he takes off to oversee the crafting of the furniture he envisions, leaving Flint Hamilton to take care of the inn and Reggie’s wife, Mercy, and daughter, Cassandra. A tall order for the young man!

I really think this style is fascinating and would evoke a sense of the past in a modern home. As well, it would allow for a cool place to hang out with family and friends without being subjected to the hot sun. My aunt and uncle’s home had a finished breezeway connecting the main house to the two-car garage. The breezeway was enclosed with doors to the backyard, the garage, and the kitchen, and windows across both front and back. My cousin and I spent one very hot summer sleeping on that breezeway. Fond memories from my teen years, let me tell you!

So, have you ever seen or lived in a dogtrot house? Would you want to?

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

Meet Brenna Ash #historical #contemporary #paranormal #romance #author #Scottish #PNR #mustread #fiction

Today I’d like you to meet a lady after my own heart especially with her addictions! Brenna Ash loves two of my favorites, coffee and chocolate. And writes some wonderful tales of Highlanders falling in love as well as her latest release about a gargoyle-human guardian. But I’ll let her tell you all about her stories. First, here’s her official bio:

Brenna Ash is addicted to coffee and chocolate. When she’s not writing, she can be found either poolside reading a book, or in front of the TV, binge-watching her favorite shows, Outlander and Sons of Anarchy. She lives in Florida with her husband and a very, very spoiled cat named Lilly.

You can learn more about her at www.brennaash.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Brenna: I’ve written 5 books, published 2 and have many more in the works.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Brenna: When I first starting writing, I wrote Scottish Historical and paranormal romance. Scottish Historical is hands-down my favorite genre to write. The beautiful settings, the Highlanders, the accent. I just love everything about it. With Paranormal romance, there’s no limits. I can let my imagination really run wild and build the world around the story. But, the first book I published was actually a contemporary romance. I love the book and the story, but once it was published, my heart and mind pulled me back to Historical and Paranormal, and that’s what I’ve been focusing on the past couple of years.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Brenna: To look outside the box. When you let down your guard and allow the world in, you’ll see all the amazing things you’ve been missing.

He needed to remind himself he was only there to protect her…

By day, Gregor Magnuson is a bodyguard to the stars, responsible for keeping Hollywood’s elite safe. By night, when he’s not defending the mortal world, he’s tasked with capturing wayward demons and returning them to the otherworld where they belong. This gargoyle-human hybrid is part of an elite warrior guard, the Dark Moor Guardians. After letting his heart get in the way of a previous job that ended in disaster, Gregor swore he’d never make the same mistake again.

Krista Wallingford is Hollywood’s reigning scream queen and a hopeless romantic, who has no idea Supernaturals exist. When a rogue skin walker becomes obsessed with her, Gregor is hired as her new security detail. Krista has a long history of getting involved with the wrong guy and the relationships never end well. She suspects Gregor is one of those guys. Yet, she can’t deny the magnetic pull she feels the instant she lays eyes on her new bodyguard.

Gregor feels that pull as well, and he soon finds himself wanting to protect Krista for more than the lucrative money he’ll be paid. Could she become part of his world or will her newfound knowledge of a supernatural world be too much to take?

Amazon     Books2Read

Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Brenna: I’m lucky enough to have a home office that I work out of, so most of my writing and revising is done there. Sometimes I just want to escape the confines of the house and I’ll grab my laptop and go outside and write by the pool or head to a nearby cafe and settle down with a mocha and get my words in.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Brenna: I create a soundtrack for each book I write and I listen to that on repeat while I’m writing the book. I post the soundtracks on my website and load them up to Spotify.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Brenna: So many people played a hand in my becoming published. I’ve belonged to RWA (Romance Writers of America) for many years and my local chapters, first in Maine, and then when I moved, my Florida chapter helped me tremendously. The willingness of members to share their information and expertise was invaluable to me throughout the whole process. I also have a few writers that I’m incredibly close to and we talked about the book, the process, what worked and didn’t work. They pushed me when I needed it and talked me down when I felt like I was going crazy.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Brenna: I think my greatest strength is dialogue. My editor says I ‘do creepy really well’. Which I found funny since I don’t write suspense.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Brenna: Usually, it’s a character that triggers the story.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is it more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Brenna: I work a full-time day job which requires me to be on call most days, so my writing time is usually late in the evening. But really, for the most part, I try to fit writing in whenever I can.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Brenna: I’ve been struggling with the plot of the current book I’m working on. I had fully plotted it out, but then when I started writing it, the plot didn’t work, so I had to go back and replot and re-outline the whole story.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Brenna: I don’t. I used to and I found it so stressful that now I just write on my own and if I happen to hit 50,000 words for that month, I’ll give myself a pat on the back.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Brenna: I just finished The Wrong Kind of Love by Lexi Ryan and loved it. It’s the first book in a series and once I finished it, I turned around and added all the other books in the series to my TBR pile.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Brenna: I have three favorite romance sub-genres to read: Scottish Historical, Paranormal and Contemporary. I pretty much read anything and everything, but those are my favorites.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Brenna: I have quite a few books on my keeper shelf, which is actually a whole bookcase. On there, you’ll find historicals by Kinley MacGregor and Karen Marie Moning. Paranormals by JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon, along with books by Janet Chapman, Maya Banks, Tracey Garvis Graves, Jude Deveraux and Bertrice Small. I don’t reread the full books, but I often go back and revisit favorite passages.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Brenna: I do.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Brenna: Keep writing and write the story you want to see out there in the world. Don’t be scared of what others may think.

Betty: Any hints of what your next writing project might be?

Brenna: I have two projects that I’m working on. Both are Scottish Historicals and will be part of my upcoming Highland Mercenaries series.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Brenna: I have a Romantic Suspense/Thriller that I started writing a few years ago, but shelved it about halfway through. I’d like to get that one out in the world at some point.

I love the variety of genres you write, Brenna. Your ambition to write a romantic suspense is amazing to me. I wish you all the best success in your career!

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 my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Lunch by any other name is…what, exactly? #amwriting #histfic #supernatural #historical #fiction #research #words #etymology

In writing historical fiction, one of the rather confusing issues I struggle with is what to call the midday and evening meals.

As a frame of reference, my family members have always had four kinds of meals: breakfast (in the morning); lunch (around noon); dinner or supper interchangeably (6:00 or 7:00 p.m.); and snacks (midmorning or midafternoon).

A delicious Sara’s Dagger sandwich from Attman’s Deli, Baltimore, MD

But I know these terms are not the same for everyone today, let along throughout history.

The definition of breakfast in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is straightforward and not disputed (that I’m aware of):

1.1 That with which a person breaks his fast in the morning; the first meal of the day.

The confusion stems from terms for dinner and supper. According to the OED, dinner is defined as:

1. a.1.a The chief meal of the day, eaten originally, and still by the majority of people, about the middle of the day (cf. Ger. Mittagsessen), but now, by the professional and fashionable classes, usually in the evening; particularly, a formally arranged meal of various courses; a repast given publicly in honour of some one, or to celebrate some event.

For example, my research shows that George and Martha Washington ate dinner at or about 3 p.m. with supper in the evening, around 7:00 p.m.

So, the afternoon meal in my 1821 Fury Falls Inn series of stories should be called dinner.

Then what is supper? Given that my family has used both dinner and supper to refer to our evening meal? Back to the OED I went. Supper is defined in the OED as:

1. a.1.a The last meal of the day; (contextually) the hour at which this is taken, supper-time; also, such a meal made the occasion of a social or festive gathering. Often without article, demonstrative, possessive, or the like, esp. when governed by a prep. (to have supper; at supper, to supper, for supper, after supper).

   Formerly, the last of the three meals of the day (breakfast, dinner, and supper); now applied to the last substantial meal of the day when dinner is taken in the middle of the day, or to a late meal following an early evening dinner. Supper is usually a less formal meal than late dinner.

That clarifies these terms, but what about the midday meal of lunch? When did that become the accepted term instead of dinner?

The OED says:

[Perh. evolved from lump n.1, on the analogy of the apparent relation between hump and hunch, bump and bunch. Cf. ‘Lounge, a large lump, as of bread or cheese’ (Brockett N. Country Words, ed. 2, 1829).

   It is curious that the word first appears as a rendering of the (at that time) like-sounding Sp. lonja slice of ham. luncheon, commonly believed to be a derivative of lunch, occurs in our quots. 11 years earlier, with its present spelling. In sense 2 lunch was an abbreviation of luncheon, first appearing about 1829, when it was regarded either as a vulgarism or as a fashionable affectation.]

†1.1 A piece, a thick piece; a hunch or hunk. Obs.

2. a.2.a A synonym of luncheon n. 2. (Now the usual word exc. in specially formal use, though formerly objected to as vulgar.) Also, a light meal at any time of the day.

The term lunch didn’t become accepted until after 1829, 8 years after the time period of my series. Therefore, I shouldn’t refer to the midday meal using that term. So when you read my series, keep these facts in mind. There are three meals served at the Fury Falls Inn: breakfast, dinner, and supper.

One other note. Snacks have been around a long time. The OED cites it used in 1685 to mean “A mere taste, a small quantity, of liquor” but in 1757 it’s used in the sense of “A mere bite or morsel of food, as contrasted with a regular meal; a light or incidental repast.” So if you find Cassie or Flint snacking from time to time, it’s fine. I checked.

Speaking of lunch, it’s about that time as I finish writing this post. Before you go, though, check out the cover (below) of the first book in the six-book Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of the Fury Falls Inn, coming October 2019. I love this cover so much; almost as much as the story!

Thanks for stopping by! Cheers!

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

Getting to know Fran McNabb #author of #contemporary #suspense #historical #romance #mustread #fiction

Today I have an author who writes both contemporary and historical sweet romances. Fran McNabb is an award-winning author, but I’ll let her tell you more. Here’s her brief bio:

Fran McNabb grew up along the beaches, bayous and islands of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and uses this setting in many of her novels. She received both her BS and an ME from the University of Southern Mississippi. After spending two years in Germany, she and her husband returned to the Coast where she taught English and journalism until taking an early retirement. She now lives on a quiet bayou harbor with her husband. She spends her time writing, reading, boating, and painting.

As an award-winning author, Fran has writing credits which include four romance novels with Avalon/Montlake (two contemporary and two historical romances), two romantic suspense novels with The Wild Rose Press, and three Indie contemporary romances, as well as a cookbook and numerous articles in magazines and newsletters. Find out more at www.franmcnabb.com.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Fran: Presently I have nine available.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Fran: I write tender romances, or as they are sometimes called, sweet romance. I started my publishing career in 2006 with Avalon Books, a library publisher whose trademark was family-friendly romances so I kept that brand and still write “sweets” today.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Fran: I write character driven books. My stories have heroes and heroines who face personal obstacles as they struggle to find a second chance at life or love.

Hope is easily lost and hard to regain. In A SOLDIER’S HONOR a military major struggles to regain his honor stripped away when he is railroaded into prison. Now in a work-release program at a nursing facility, he falls in love with his nurse supervisor. Together they help each other find the courage to live and love again.

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Fran: I live on a bayou harbor and my sunroom faces the water. I love sitting in there or out on the back porch to revise or to just think and get inspiration, but when I write, I tend to find a place in the house without distractions. I’m easily pulled into the beautiful views, the activity of the boats, and the wildlife on the bayou.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Fran: I’m a morning person and I find my brain functions much better in the morning than in the afternoon.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Fran: I taught English and journalism so it was natural for me to write, but I knew nothing about publishing until I joined RWA in 1998 and my local chapter, Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA in Mobile. Even though I don’t live there, I drove there faithfully for years. The members were my inspiration that got me to actually send off a manuscript. I’m still best friends with several of the “old members.”

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Fran: I feel my strongpoint is characterization. I once had an editor who remembered one of my heroes two years after she rejected my manuscript. I was honored even though she never bought the book. I love presenting workshops on developing character.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Fran: Most of the time it’s setting that gets me thinking about a new book. A prime example is my historical WINDSWEPT. I visited the wrecker museum in Key West, and when I walked out I told my husband, that was my next book. Another one is ON THE CREST OF A WAVE. My grandfather ran the ferry boats to Ship Island where a Civil War fort still stands. As a child, I spent quite a lot of time there and even lived out on the island an entire summer when my parents worked for the family. It was natural for me to write the book that had a setting I loved.

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Fran: Because I’ve been writing for so long, I sometimes feel “burned out” and have to get with other writing buddies to find the motivation to sit down and write. I also love to paint and I find I spend as much time painting and that in itself takes away from my writing time.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Fran: No. I have never participated, but admire those authors who do. I don’t like to be forced to write in a timeframe.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Fran: I just finished reading The Doctor’s Second Chance by Missy Tippens, a Love Inspired romance.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Fran: Sweet Romances which include both contemporary and historical.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Fran: Even though it is not a romance, my all-time favorite book is EXODUS by Leon Uris. I read it twice and love the hero Ari. In fact, I think all of my heroes that I write have a little of Ari in them.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Fran: I’m a retired English and journalism teacher.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Fran: I don’t think readers know how difficult or how time consuming it is to write and edit a book and to find a publisher or to self-publish. When I talk with reader groups, I like to go through the process of writing a book, making sure they understand what all is involved. Most of the time, someone will come up after a talk and tell me they had no idea how difficult it is.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Fran: I think new writers must be willing to learn what is involved in the writing process, to learn the craft of writing and be willing to take constructive criticism. Going to conferences and attending workshops are important to both new writers and to published authors. No matter how many books an author has published, there is always something to learn.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Fran: I’ve been working on a series set in Key West. I love the Keys and have one book set there already (WINDSWEPT), but it’s historical. This series is contemporary and I hope to have the first book finished soon.

It was great getting to know you better, Fran! I wish you all the best with your writing career!

Betty

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White Traders in the Mississippi Territory #amwriting #histfic #research #Alabama200 #history

I’m musing today about how people seek out better opportunities for themselves and their families. The History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia and Mississippi From the Earliest Period (1851) by Albert James Pickett is a fascinating historical document. I learned so much about the development of the state of Alabama and many of the people involved.

One of the questions I originally wanted to answer when I read the book is, when did white people move in to Alabama? I knew it must have been after the American Revolution. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, most likely as well. I also wanted to know how contentious—I didn’t know specifics, though I am well aware of the general nature of the conflicts involved—was the actual displacement of the Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Cherokee? I was surprised to find out that white folks had moved in about when I’d thought.

I talked a few weeks ago here about one massacre at Ft. Mims resulting from the taking of lands and property, combined with foreign nations’ prodding. But were there any peaceful transactions between the natives and the Americans pushing into the area?

The answer, it turns out, is there were some friendly exchanges.

For example, Pickett states that in 1792 (9 years after the end of the American Revolution) there were only a few white inhabitants around Montgomery County, Alabama. But that “All over the territory of Alabama and Mississippi, wherever an Indian town of importance was found, white traders lived.”

These traders would purchase from the Indians “bees-wax, hickory-nut oil, snake-root, together with various medicinal barks” as well as a mean rum called taffai in small kegs and “poultry of all kinds in cages made of reeds” and send them to “Augusta and Pensacola on pack horses, and to Mobile and New Orleans in large canoes.” Pause and consider that last sentence for a moment.

Imagine walking/riding from anywhere in Alabama to Pensacola, Florida, or Augusta, Georgia. For kicks and grins, I checked mileage from my home in Huntsville to Pensacola: 348 miles. To Augusta is 332 miles. Also consider the roads were not paved like they are today, but were mostly dirt/mud depending on weather conditions and rocks. Across mountains and rivers, probably a few swamps, through forests and all kinds of terrain in between. On average, when I take a walk around my neighborhood I walk at a pace of 3 miles per hour. If I were able to keep up that pace, which is highly unlikely over the previously referenced terrain, it would take 116 hours. If I walked 8 hours per day, another unlikely length of time, it would take me 14.5 days to walk to Pensacola. More likely, I’d imagine such a trip would take closer to 3 weeks than 2 weeks. My poor feet… Whew! I’m tired thinking about such a trek.

Also take into account the fact of more hostile encounters between whites and the Creeks, for instance, which would make such a long trip fraught with danger for everyone concerned. In fact, Pickett states that in 1792 “Creeks committed many depredations, pushed their hostilities to the very doors of Nashville” from the Montgomery area.

By December 1801, however, with the influx of people into the Mississippi Territory (later the state of Alabama), one party from North Carolina made the perilous trip through Knoxville, Tennessee, where they made flat-boats and “floated down the [Tennessee] river to the head of the Muscle Shoals [in northwest Alabama], where they disembarked, at the house of Double-Head, a Cherokee Chief.” They continued on foot with all of their “effects upon the horses” south to St. Stephens, a distance on today’s highways of 292 miles. But in 1801 there was “not a solitary direct path” for them to follow. “After a fatiguing march, they reached the residence of Levi Colbert, a celebrated Chickasaw Chief, who gave them the necessary directions.” I share this as one piece of evidence that some of the interaction between the various groups were peaceful and helpful in nature. I’m also blown away by the determination and persistence the emigrants demonstrated in their move from North Carolina to southern Alabama.

It’s fairly common knowledge how events transpired for the Creeks, Cherokees, Chickasaws, and Choctaws. If I could change history, go back and prevent such tragedy and hate and destruction I surely would.

I do take some tiny comfort that not everybody fought each other but traded together, worked together, helped each other. If we, today, can strive to do the same, without judgment or intolerance, the world may benefit. I hope, anyway.

Would you make such a journey as the folks from North Carolina did for a chance at a better/different life? I find myself comparing their trek to that of the refugees from South America into Central and North America. The similarities and the differences. History repeating itself in some ways? What do you think?

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 my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.