Getting to know Linda Ballou #author #historicalfiction #histfic #adventurer #traveller #blogger

Please help me welcome a fellow historical fiction author, Linda Ballou, who had the enviable job of living in the Hawaiian Islands to conduct her research! Let’s take a peek at her bio and then find out more about her.

Adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou, is the author of three novels and numerous travel articles appearing in national publications. Wai-nani, a New Voice from old Hawai’i, is her ultimate destination piece. It takes you to the wild heart of old Hawai’i, a place you can’t get to any other way. Hang on tight for a thrilling ride from the showjumping arena to the ethereal beauty of the John Muir Wilderness in The Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon. Her latest effort, Embrace of the Wild, is historical fiction inspired by the dynamic Isabella Bird, a Victorian-age woman who explored Hawai’i and the Rocky Mountains in the late 1870s.  Linda’s travel collection Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales is an armchair traveler’s delight filled with adventure to whet your wanderlust. Linda loves living on the coast of California and has created a collection of her favorite day trips for you in Lost Angel in Paradise. All of her books are available at www.LindaBallouAuthor.com and online distribution sites in print and e-book format. She spotlights her travels on www.LostAngelAdventures.com.

Author Social Links: Facebook * Twitter

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

Linda: Ka’ahumanu was a woman in history that stirred my imagination. Brave, athletic, strong, passionate, caring, and centered in herself, I saw her as a role model and forerunner to the modern woman. She became the inspiration for my character, Wai-nani. I was first introduced to this character in history in the 70s –a time when women were breaking out of accepted molds. Her literal journey follows the rise of Kamehameha the Great, but her more important mythological journey takes her to her truth and discovering the extent of her powers.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Linda: Wai-nani (Ka’ahumanu) embodies all that was good in ancient Polynesian society. Athletic, assertive, and brave she stands beside her warrior-king husband sharing in his joys and sorrows for forty years. Like all Hawaiians, she is a water baby—finding strength, solace, and wisdom in the sea. Her greatest pleasure is swimming with her wild dolphin friend, Eku. Throughout her life, she rails against the “kapu system” that calls for human sacrifices, separate eating-houses for men and women, and severe penalties for the slightest infractions of laws imposed upon the common people by ruling chiefs and priests vested with the power of gods. She triumphs and becomes the most powerful woman in old Hawaii. I tried to bring this powerful personage in history to life for modern readers.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Linda: When I was 28, I took one blissful year off and spent it on the north shore of the Island of Kauai. I took a job as a cub reporter on the local paper. It happened that they ran a 200th-anniversary issue spotlighting the arrival of Captain James Cook on Kauai in 1778. This is where ano ano, the seed, was planted and the story took root in my heart. Historical accounts often speak of the savage Hawaiians stabbing the great navigator in the back. This prompted me to learn more about what was happening in the Hawaiian culture at that time. What I learned disturbed me. Indeed, they did kill the good captain. It is also true that Cook’s men trespassed on sacred ground, trampled on religious beliefs and ate the natives out of house and home. Ka’ahumanu and Kamehameha were there. I determined to tell the story of Cook’s demise and what followed through her eyes.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Linda: Getting into the mindset of the warrior prophesied to unite the warring Hawaiian Islands required relinquishing traditionally held values and attempting to absorb the ways of the ancient Polynesian view. He was inward, meditative, and sometimes sullen, but always brave and determined to fulfill his destiny.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Linda: Research for this story spanning twenty years became a beautiful obsession for me. I visited all the places described in the story to absorb the ancient mana, or spiritual energy resting there for those who chose to receive it. I read all of the oldest chronicles written by natives who were taught to read and write by missionaries. I interviewed a healing kumu in Hilo and spoke with elders about Hawaiian beliefs many of which are relevant today. Martha Beckworth’s Hawaiian Mythology was my greatest resource for the facts about the ancient Hawaiian culture. The Hawaiian language is difficult for westerners, so I added a glossary of words I used in the text and changed the names of the characters to make it easier for western readers to relate and become engaged in the story.

I have a playlist on youtube that answer the most common questions I receive about the ancient Hawaiian culture

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Linda: At least three. I conferred with my editor, a Hawaiian scholar, and got beta reader opinions before daring to publish this story which is sacred to the Hawaiian people. I was told by the Hawaiian scholar that my story was charming, but if a haole (white foreigner) published this fictionalized account of the Hawaiian story, I would receive 200 years of bad luck. This set me back on my heels for at least a year. In the end, I took Anais Nin’s words to heart and moved forward.

And then the day came

When the risk to remain

Tight in a bud was more painful

Than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Linda: The actual writing perhaps three years, but the depth of research was a twenty-year excuse to be in the Islands. Typically, it will take me a year, or so to write a novel.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Linda: I read materials relevant to the subject I am writing about the night before enlisting my subconscious to the task while I sleep. Then I write first thing in the morning before being interrupted by the demands of the day. If I get 500-1000 words out I think I’m doing great.

Betty: Every author tends to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Linda: I tend to gush over the beauty of a place. I have to tone this down so that my work is not too flowery. Many readers view me as a nature writer. I take that as a compliment.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Linda: I wrote a piece titled Jack London and Me. It is about the many connections I have to this man and how our paths have crossed. Jack lived life with daring and bravado. He was also very generous to others. He is considered the master of adventure writing. I admire his writing as well as his zest for life. I visit his Beauty Ranch where he rests in the Valley of Moon as often as I can to pay my respects to a great man and wonderful writer.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Linda: I live in what I call the “Cottage of Content” in the Santa Monica Mountains. I am surrounded by trees and watch my birds flit through the canopy while I write. I am happy here away from the fray. After lunch, I take a meditative walk in the mountains. When I return, I sit on my deck, feet on the rail, reading what I wrote that morning and reflecting on how it can be better. That is a perfect writing day for me.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Linda: I have sold real estate all my adult life. I am listed as an independent contractor on my tax returns. This position affords me the freedom to back off, or hit it hard. It has served me well over the years. It has given me the freedom to travel and write about my adventures. I have achieved a delicate balance between selling real estate and my writing projects and feel blessed to have both worlds.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Linda: Publishing Wai-nani is my proudest achievement. It was by far the most difficult and complicated work that I have done. Writing it in the first person meant I couldn’t use any modern words like plastic. I had to be very careful about being accurate in my depiction, still, I knew there would be push back from some Hawaiians. I am happy to report I have good reviews from long-term Hawaiian residents, and blooded Hawaiians as well. I love this story and have no regrets.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Linda: I would love to join Jack and Charmian London for one of their dinners with the many fascinating friends they invited to the Beauty Ranch. To ride with them through the redwoods and swim in the lake Jack created is a fond fantasy of mine. We wouldn’t talk about writing, I would ask him about his many adventures, especially his time in the Islands. He was loved by the Hawaiians for the way he told their stories.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Linda: One reader told me “Your book was my salvation. It took me out of myself while I was going through a bad patch.” This kind of feedback is not uncommon. It makes me feel the time I spend writing is worthwhile. I sell houses to keep a roof over my head, I write stories to soothe my soul and to connect with other human beings.

Born into the royal class, Wai-nani rails against harsh penalties for women meted out by priests and ruling chiefs invested with the power of gods. Her rebellion takes her on a journey that puts her squarely into the eye of a political storm.

She meets Makaha, inspired by Kamehameha the Great, an inward thinking youthful warrior who is prophesied to unite the Hawaiian Islands. This is the beginning of a tumultuous forty-year love affair. Makaha accepts the challenge to end years of tribal wars and gives Hawaii a golden age. Wai-nani must decide if she will stand beside him before, during, and after his rise to power.

Like all Hawaiians, Wai-nani is a water baby finding sustenance and solace in the sea. Her best friend is a dolphin named Eku who swims with her on her mythological journey. She tells us what was happening in her beautiful world when Captain Cook arrived bringing new weapons and spreading disease in his wake. Wai-nani follows the rise of Makaha to power, but when he dies she breaks from his old ways. Beloved by the common people she defies death-dealing priests to lead them to freedom from the harsh, 2,000-year-old Polynesian “Kapu” system that called for human sacrifice to pagan gods.

Buy Links: Amazon * B&N * Bookshop * Website

Thanks for sharing the backstory of your story, Linda!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Liz Alterman #author #editor #suspense #fiction #YA #novel

My guest author today is also a fellow freelance editor. Please help me welcome Liz Alterman to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a gander at her bio and then find out more about her writing process and inspiration.

Liz Alterman is the author of a young adult novel, He’ll Be Waiting, a memoir, Sad Sacked, and a forthcoming domestic suspense novel, The Perfect Neighborhood. Her work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington Post, McSweeney’s, and other outlets. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and three sons where she spends most days microwaving the same cup of coffee and looking up synonyms. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading.

Author Social Links: Twitter * Instagram

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

Liz: Decades ago, someone shared a story about helping out a friend. Though that favor seemed simple and straightforward, it took a very strange turn. I used that concept as a starting point and built the plot around the interconnectedness of our actions and how they can have a ripple effect—for better or worse.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Liz: The situation, that idea of simple favor going terribly wrong, definitely inspired me to write the novel. Then I had to come up with relatable but flawed characters who would make those choices to end up in those circumstances, which was both fun and daunting.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Liz: I wrote the first 50 pages prior to attending the wonderful Leopardi Writing Conference. While there, I had the opportunity to share those early chapters with an amazing editor as well as fellow writers, who shared their feedback and insight. On the flight home, I immediately began revising the opening and reconsidering the ending. In short, I’d say I wrote at least three drafts before I felt like the story was complete.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Liz: The story took about a year to write, which I’ve learned is about the typical length of time it takes me to write and edit a novel. Until recently I’d been working full-time so I had to carve out time in the early morning or evening for my personal projects. I’ve almost completed a new project and I’m excited to begin sharing it. That has taken about a year as well.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Liz: I like to eat something crunchy—it seems to help me think. I also like to reread the most recent section I’ve written to try to get back in the flow of the story.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Liz: I’m trying hard to rethink my characters’ gestures and scale back on all the head shaking, nodding, and shrugging before they all end up with neck problems :).

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Liz: I will write anywhere—in the car on a napkin if inspiration strikes, while taking a walk by typing (sloppily) into the notes app on my phone, on the back of a CVS receipt, where you can write an entire chapter, they’re so long!

I love to read in bed before I fall asleep. That’s my favorite way to end the day. But I’m happy to read anywhere if I have the chance.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Liz: I’m a freelance writer and editor and I truly enjoy it because it’s brought me the opportunity to meet and interview really interesting people and learn about an array of new things.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Liz: My greatest achievement has been not giving up in the face of so much rejection along the way.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Liz: I’d love to have dinner with Judy Blume. Her MasterClass is one of my favorites and I’m in awe of her long and successful career as well as her ability to write for readers of all ages. She also comes across as a true writer’s champion so I’m sure she’d have plenty of wisdom and encouraging words to share.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Liz: I define success as continuing to come up with new ideas and staying motivated to keep writing even on the days when I don’t feel like doing it. I love the moments when you write a sentence or come up with a plot twist that surprises you. For me, those are magical and feel like the biggest reward.

What would you do to remember? What would you give to forget?

When Tess Porter agrees to pick up her boyfriend’s college pal at the airport on a snowy December night, she has no idea she’s about to embark on the most dangerous ride of her life. Two days later, the 17-year-old wakes up in a hospital with broken bones, unable to remember how she got there. Her parents are acting strange, and neither James, her boyfriend, nor her best friend, Izzy, has visited. As she struggles to physically recover, Tess wrestles with haunting questions: What happened? Will her memory ever return? And what if she’s better off not recalling any of it?

Buy Links: Bookshop * Amazon * B&N

Writing a chapter on the back of a CVS receipt?! I will have to try that! Thanks, Liz, for sharing a bit about your process and inspiration.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Sherrie Lea Morgan #author #paranormal #mystery #ghost #novels #novellas #amreading

Please help me welcome a fellow author who loves paranormal as much as I do! Sherrie Lea Morgan is such a sweet person with a lot of wonderful stories to share with you. Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out the secret to her success.

Sherrie Lea Morgan constantly searches for ghost walk tours in her home state of Georgia. There isn’t a haunted house she refuses to enter. Bouncing off story ideas with her twin sister is a pastime of hers, as her dog Bennett refuses to respond to her questions. When not working her current manuscripts, she enjoys spending time with her family. Although her children refuse to join her paranormal movie thrills, they are supportive in her obsession of all things scary. Of course, they are always willing to travel with her. She endeavors to show her readers a different view of ghosts in her paranormal books. Sherrie Lea also works to weave other paranormal gifts in her novellas.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

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

Sherrie: The song “I’ll Be True to You” by the Oakridge Boys.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Sherrie: I think obviously my main character, Shannon, as she’s been there since Book 1.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Sherrie: A pair of pearl earrings and the need to find out who they belonged to. Plus, as Book 9 of the series, I had to come up with something.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Sherrie: The doctor because he was such an unlikeable character in a previous book. It was a challenge to sway my readers to sympathize with him.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Sherrie: Most of my research was done for the series and not one specific book. I did, however, need to verify which metaphysical term I intended to focus on and integrate it into the story. For each of the books of this series, I’ve sort of introduced a term that is reflected in Shannon’s gifts.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Sherrie: Really? Um…how mad would folks be if they found out I only do one really, really, really messy draft? I mean, I usually run about three rounds of edits before I send it off to the editor. So, maybe 4 before the editor and one more clean up round before being published.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Sherrie: It’s been a while since I wrote this one. But most of my novellas take around two weeks to write as they’re typically under 30,000 words.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Sherrie: I dictate using a voice to text program and while I’m doing that, I have music playing in my headset. For example, because this book’s storyline was inspired by the song I mentioned above, I listened to it on repeat several times while intermixing with what we used to call “easy listening” music. I grew up doing homework to this on the radio.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Sherrie: Just, nod and I think maybe 3-8 others that I can’t remember. =)

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Sherrie: Hmm. This is hard. I have role models for life and those for writing. I admire their courage and creativity.

Betty:  Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Sherrie: My desk is where I do all my writing and revisions. To do reading for enjoyment, I love Audible during long rides. Otherwise, I can read anywhere and always carry a book in my purse.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Sherrie: My day job is writing, and I love it.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Sherrie: Hearing someone say they love my characters and wanting to ask more questions about them.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Sherrie: The person who wrote the epic poem Beowulf because no one knows who it is.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Sherrie: My definition of success is knowing someone enjoyed my stories. That’s it.

A heart that waited. Another that didn’t. Can Shannon heal their past?

The number of trinkets left in Shannon’s box is dwindling, but when she takes the gloves off for a pair of pearl earrings, her vision of a pair of star-crossed lovers tugs hard at her heart. Her search takes her from virtual Internet byways to concrete highways landing in Augusta, where she hopes to pick up the psychic trail. As she stitches the pieces together, the threads of unfinished business get tangled up with her own. And lead her to a crossroads that could either heal, or cause more heartbreak.

Buy Links: Amazon

I love stories that revolve around intriguing jewelry or found boxes in the attic full of mysterious treasure. Thanks for sharing you inspiration and process, Sherrie Lea!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Alison Glick #author #researcher #teacher #literature #novelist

I am happy to introduce my next guest author to you all! Please help me welcome Alison Glick! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing and the story she has brought today.

Alison Glick traveled in the early 1980s to Israel, where she lived in a kibbutz and in a town near Haifa. After studying Middle East History at Temple University, she returned to the region and lived in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Yarmouk Refugee Camp in Syria for six years, working as a teacher, human rights researcher, and freelance writer. Alison’s writing has appeared in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Arab Studies Quarterly, and Mondoweiss. The Other End of the Sea is her first novel.

Author Social Links: Instagram * Facebook

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

Alison: That’s a bit of a convoluted story. For a long time, I resisted writing about anything connected to the Middle East. I tried and failed to write about other things in my life—my family, other things happening in the world. No matter what I wrote about, somehow things came back to the Middle East and my experience there.

 In an essay-writing workshop I took several years ago, the teacher’s feedback on my piece was, “I’m not sure what this is but it’s not an essay. It might be a book chapter. I think you need to write a book.” So, finally, I gave up resisting and started what I thought would be a memoir, because I always thought of myself as a non-fiction writer. When he saw the manuscript, my editor at Interlink Books encouraged me to fictionalize it. He thought my literary writing style would lend itself to telling a story that was broader, more universal than that of a memoir, which is technically more bound by what “really” happened. One of my goals was to write a book that would be read by someone who didn’t know much about the Middle East, or who was curious about exploring other ideas. I think a novel is more likely to be picked up by such readers.

 At first the thought of reworking the manuscript as fiction was terrifying because of how I had defined myself as a writer. Once I embraced the fear of the unknown and decided to trust the process (and my editor), the experience was liberating. I could create characters, tweak scenes in ways that added to the narrative, and craft a story that I hope appeals to readers beyond those interested in the Middle East. I drew on my experience in the region and on relationships I had with people, so it was also important to do what I could to respect the privacy of those individuals. Creating a work of fiction allowed me to do that, and to write a love story that reflects the experiences of others in very different situations.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Alison: The character of Rebecca Klein arrived developed in many ways, mostly because her narrative arc is based on my own experiences in the Middle East. But one of the most meaningful byproducts of reworking the book to be fiction was being able to rethink the meaning of my own experiences and actions, refracting them through the point of view of other characters in the story, particularly Zayn and Amira – Rebecca’s husband and daughter, respectively. Developing these characters, their arcs, and writing the denouement gave me the gift of resolving certain personal conflicts in a way that only strengthened relationships with loved ones.   

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think so?

Alison: I chose to stay with first-person narrative as a way to bring and keep readers in the story who otherwise might be hesitant, anxious and overwhelmed by the politics and history in the novel. This made Zayn’s character particularly difficult because telling the story of a relationship that is unraveling, for a variety of difficult reasons, in the voice of one character could easily have made the other the “villain.” But it was particularly important for me that his character be seen as a sympathetic one to the very end, so I had to relay his character’s point of view and inner life largely through Rebecca’s thoughts and actions. I hope I was able to achieve this; I think I did.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Alison: In creating the origin story of Zayn’s family, I researched villages that were destroyed and whose inhabitants were driven out by the advancing Israeli army in 1948. Depending on where the villages were located, their inhabitants became refugees either in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or outside of Palestine. There were many such villages that met this fate throughout the country, so getting the political geography right was important. I also researched some of the immigration issues that were an important factor in what ultimately happened to Rebecca and Zayn’s marriage.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Alison: While writing this book, I would read the work of someone whose writing style I really admired before sitting down at my desk, just so I would have in my head the reverberations of what good writing sounded like. Not that I was interested in imitating that writer – what’s the point of that? Rather, it was a habit that was akin to stretching and warming up before exercising – you’re preparing your mind and body for the real work ahead. Speaking of exercising, one ritual I had on Fridays (when I had a 4-day work week), was to go to an early morning exercise class, then drive to a nearby coffee shop to write for as long as I could. This became an end-of-the week treat for me – until the day my car was towed for parking in the lot too long!

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Alison: In this book it is a telling list: face flushed; throat tightened; beads of sweat; thud; like prey     

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Alison: In writing, Tobias Wolf, because his memoir, This Boy’s Life, exemplifies a memoir writing style that does not sacrifice literary craft. And in writing and life, Arundhati Roy because her prose is exquisite – whether she’s spinning a fictional world in the Indian subcontinent or writing an essay about COVID that simply slays – all the while being a fierce activist for social justice everywhere.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Alison: I live in a row home in Philadelphia, which is a type of house that isn’t known for bringing in much light. So, I’m very fortunate that my home office has a skylight above and a slim window to my right (as I write this, I’m looking out onto the greening Tulip Poplar on this beautiful spring day). When I emerge from the intensity of writing about life in the Middle East, it is good to be able to look up and see the blue sky or hear the mourning doves cooing in their nest.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Alison: I’m currently working as an administrator and project manager in a Progressive Pre-K-6th grade school, and I love it! I occasionally have the opportunity to substitute teach and being around these interesting young people is invigorating (if sometimes exhausting!) on many levels. I’m fortunate to have warm colleagues who care so much about educating children as whole human beings. And they have been incredibly supportive of my writing by giving me time and promoting my book events. Could you ask for more?

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Alison: Writing a book that brings readers who may not know much about the Middle East into a world they can identify with – a world where people court, fall in love, face challenges, laugh and cry together.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Alison: Oh, there are so many! While he is not with us anymore, I would have loved to have dinner with James Baldwin. He is someone who, like Roy, wrote so prolifically and beautifully in different genres, while steadfastly remaining a social justice activist. It would be interesting to talk to him about living and writing outside the United States, and about his controversial writings about Jews and Blacks in the U.S., much of which is misunderstood, I believe.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Alison: I am successful as a writer if I’m able to bring to life stories that cause people to re-evaluate how they thought about something or someone. If I’m able to write in a way that leads someone to say, “I guess that person who I thought was different from me – maybe was my enemy – isn’t”, then I am a success.

Summer, 1981—Following the death of her father, Becky Klein, an adventurous, naive young woman from the Midwest, sets out for the Middle East, in search of her Jewish roots. She discovers something more, in a Gaza garden near a refugee camp by the sea. There she befriends the garden’s owner, a Palestinian activist who has served time in Israeli jails. As their relationship grows, Rebecca finds herself drawn into a story of roots unlike the one she had imagined.

The West Bank, Cairo, Yarmouk, Benghazi, Beirut—before long, their romance careens across a region in flames, child in tow, wrestling with conflicting maps of love, family and home.

Buy Links: Interlink Books * Bookshop

Thanks, Alison, for sharing your story and your writing process with us. I appreciate you stopping by and wish you all the best with your writing!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Patricia Schultheis #author #fiction #nonfiction #historical #Baltimore #mustread #story

Please help me welcome my guest today to the interview hot seat! Patricia Schultheis has written a collection of stories set in my home town of Baltimore, Maryland. Let’s get to know more about her and then dive into the interview to find out about her inspiration and writing process.

Patricia Schultheis grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the middle of three daughters in a Polish-American family. Struck by polio when she was six years old, she became an introspective, moody child who found great solace in reading. After graduating from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven in 1965, she moved to Baltimore, where she taught school, got married, began a family and had a career in public relations. 

 After having had several dozen free-lance articles published while working full time, she turned to writing fiction in her mid-fifties following the death of her beloved older sister. Her observations about Baltimore’s deeply inscribed cultural moirés became the foundation for her award-winning short story collection, St. Bart’s Way, published by Washington Writers’ Publishing House in 2015. Schultheis also is the author of Baltimore’s Lexington Market, published by Arcadia Publishing in 2007, and of A Balanced Life, a memoir published by All Things That Matter Press in 2018. She now divides her focus between fiction and lyrical nonfiction, and book reviews.

A widow, she continues to live in Baltimore, a city whose slow adaptation to change and sometimes quirky outlook reflects her own. She is the mother of two grown sons and five grandsons.

Author Social Links: Website * Email

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

Patricia: “The Haint,” as I describe below, was inspired by an installation at a museum and a rumor, but the whole collection of St. Bart’s Way came about almost by accident.  I was new to writing fiction, so sometimes I would write a story about upper middle-class white people in Baltimore and situate them on St. Bart’s Way.  At other times I would write about people living somewhere else like 19th century Richmond, or upstate New York.  I never set out to write a collection, but then I saw an ad for the Washington Writers Publishing House contest and realized that enough of my St. Bart’s Ways stories had been published individually to makeup a collection. So I submitted and won.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Patricia: That’s an easy one: Henri in “The Haint.”  I had a vague idea of the story I wanted to write, but, then, one evening, I was reading Had a Good Time, Robert Olen Butler’s collection of short stories based on postcards, which also are included in his book.  One postcard featured an old Black man standing by a picket fence, his face contorted with righteous rage, and I knew Henri immediately.  I know his anger and voice.  I literally got off my couch, went to my computer and began writing because I didn’t want to lose the sound of Henri’s voice in my head.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Patricia: Two things sparked the idea for “The Haint,” the first story in St. Bart’s Way.  In Baltimore’s Visionary Art Museum, I read a reference to a haint in the text accompanying an installation and jotted it down in my writing journal.  Then, my husband became the archivist for the restored old mill town where we lived in West Baltimore, and he told me of a Black man who killed himself when he was dispossessed of his property so the mills could expand. My husband was never able to verify whether or not that story was true, but I fused that rumor with what I had learned about haints at the museum.  The other stories in St. Bart’s Way came from simply observing my fellow Baltimoreans.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

People intrigue me, so I apprehend most of my characters fairly easily.  On the other hand, the architecture of a story really devils me.  But to your point, as I look through St. Bart’s Way, I think Paul Maggio in “Other Men’s Sons” seems more of a vehicle for exploring divorce, disappointment in a child, and mortality rather than a fully developed character.  I read where Edward Albee once advised writers to put characters in unlikely situations and then notice how they respond.  If a writer can’t say what their character would do if suddenly confronted with a flat tire on a two-way road in the Upper Peninsula or a diagnosis of cancer, then that writer has   more work to do.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Patricia: Except for searches on Google, for example to find out about the Nazi occupation of Hungary, which was critical to “The Assembly,” I didn’t have to do much research. I’m fortunate to have been able to observe Baltimore’s white middle class for several years.  Most of them are devoted to their families, work hard, and take their civic responsibilities seriously. And, for the most part, they are not prejudiced, at least not overtly. However, like many white Americans, they are unaware of the nation’s foundational sin in regard to Black Americans.  That’s why  “The Haint” is the first story in St, Bart’s Way.  I wanted to show that eventually history, whether personal or national, demands a reckoning.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Patricia: For short stories, I don’t do “drafts” as such.  Rather, I have a strange approach, which I’m happy to share.  I always sense the emotional plain on which I want a story to end.  Not necessarily the final action, but the emotional place where I want the character and, by extension, the reader to have reached.  So, every day, I begin at the beginning, fiddling with the language, the imagery, the sentence structure, but also delving deeper into the story’s emotional truth.  By the time I reach the end of whatever I’ve written previously, I’m immersed in my story and ready to move ahead, maybe just a few paragraphs. But they’re good paragraphs.  This isn’t to say that I don’t revise at all. I do, but not in the sense of a totally new “draft.”  I also like to set the story aside before submitting it, and maybe send it to a few friends to see what they think.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Patricia:  I’m a slow writer, and, for me, writing is work. I have friends who can write for hours, but I’m done at about three. So, a story can take me two or three months.  That said, I don’t have very many unpublished stories laying around.  I have some, but not many. Book reviews and essays are another matter.  They generally come faster, and that’s good because those genres emit and engage the reader in a different kind of energy than fiction does.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Patricia: I don’t have any rituals as such, although having coffee nearby helps. Also, and again I’m happy to share this with other writers, if my mind is especially preoccupied by something, I read poetry or the Bible to clear it. The distant, incantatory tone of the Bible can remove me from my dithering self and ready me to enter the realm of my story.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Patricia: I overuse the word “And.” And I’ve capitalized that for a reason, because I tend to affix it to the beginning of my sentences to show continuation of a character’s interiority.  And that’s usually unnecessary. And I’m grateful to those editors who catch me overusing it.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Patricia: I recently realized that I’m influenced by whichever writer I’m reading at the moment.  Their rhythms simply get into my head.  However, I’m enormously humbled by David Means, who elides time in his stories in a way that’s simply masterful.  I also admire Stewart O’Nan, whose language is lyrical and who treats working-class characters with respect and empathy.  I also have enormous respect for Hemingway.  A few years ago, I was going to Paris and read his A Movable Feast in preparation.  Now, A Movable Feast is about Hemingway’s early years as a writer in Paris, but he began it after he had won the Nobel Prize.  Sadly, he never finished it, and what we have is a draft, which reveals a throughline from his earliest days to his last.  From the beginning to the end, he made an enormous effort to get every word just right.  A Movable Feast  included pages showing Hemingway’s edits, and, just as he recalled doing when he was a struggling beginner, he continued to attend to every detail, every word choice, every bit of imagery, and punctuation mark.  A Movable Feast showed me that great writers respect the medium they work in.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Patricia: Originally, my special place was a second-hand electric typewriter set on my dining room table. (My kitchen was too small for a table.) Now, I’m very fortunate because I have an “office,” as my dedicated place to write.  When I moved out of my house after my husband died and went looking for condos, I was surprised by how many newer buildings lacked substantial walls on which to build a bookcase.  As soon as I saw the unit where I live now, I knew exactly where my bookcase would go. The same for my desk.  I keep a notebook in my car to jot down ideas as they come, but I “work” at my desk.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Patricia: I no longer have a day job, but for many, many years I worked in various public relations jobs.  I wanted to be a journalist back then and would run out on my lunchtime to interview someone for one article or another. I didn’t begin writing fiction until I was in my fifties, and by that time my children were through college, so the financial pressures eased.  I was working then for a software firm, which was near my house, and I’d write a paragraph or two before going to work.  That’s how it began. When I lost my job, and my beloved older sister died, I set journalism aside and began writing fiction in earnest.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Patricia: To be honest, given that I grew up in an era when women from my socio-economic background aspired to be schoolteachers or nurses, it’s somewhat amazing that I’ve been published at all. I’ve always been attracted to language, but so were many others whose lives went in other directions. I believe that for me it was a matter of persistence, and enduring many rejections, which still come. Having said that, I believe my greatest achievement is still to come.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Patricia: I really don’t know who that would be, and that’s probably good for them, whoever they may be, because I get stressed out preparing for dinner parties, and they’d probably have a miserable time.  I do, however, find that the company of other writers is very beneficial.  I belong to two groups on Zoom, one of them a critique group, and find that it helps me relax to be in the company of my fellow scribes.  They also give great advice.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Patricia: That’s a very interesting question, because you climb one mountain, and guess what?  There’s another mountain. So, yes, I’d love to have another book published.  Writing is time consuming and hard work, so I take each new acceptance as a sign that I’m not wasting my time.  The same goes for awards: each one tells me “You’ve got what it takes.  Keep going.”

St. Bart’s Way is a fictional street in Baltimore developed after the First World War when streetcar lines were extended to the city’s leafy outer reaches.  From its founding, the neighborhood surrounding St. Bart’s Way was the home of the city’s professional class who wanted gracious, comfortable houses in which to raise their families.  Above all, however, these doctors, lawyers, and bankers wanted homes standing for permanence and lives lived to right purpose.

But at the root of the community lies a corrosive falsehood: the land surrounding the streetcar line was obtained fraudulently, and today that dishonesty continues to taint the lives of the families living in the community’s fine homes, families who mistakenly think their lovely houses with their multiple fireplaces and mullioned windows can provide sanctuary from a chaotic world.

In one way or another, the characters in this collection arrive at a point in their lives where they question the commitments they have made, the prices they have paid, and the lies they have told to others and themselves. They also discover that nothing can shelter them from the consequences of their choices. In that sense, these thirteen stories are linked thematically.

Buy Links: TheIvyBookShop * Amazon

Sounds like some interesting stories in your collection, Patricia. Thanks so much for stopping in to share more about them with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know MaryEllen Beveridge #author #amwriting #literature #fiction #shortstories #familylife #amreading

I’ve recently dipped my toe into writing short stories, so I am happy to introduce my next guest author to you all! Please help me welcome MaryEllen Beveridge! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing and inspiration.

MaryEllen Beveridge received an MFA with honors from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines including Pembroke Magazine, The Carolina Quarterly, Other Voices, Notre Dame Review, Cottonwood, Crab Orchard Review, Louisiana Literature, and War, Literature & the Arts. She is a two-time nominee for a Pushcart Prize. A previous short story collection was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and another was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award. MaryEllen is a former member of the faculty at Emerson College, where she taught fiction writing and literature. Her first story collection, titled After the Hunger, was published in 2020.

Author Social Links: Instagram

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

MaryEllen: I’m sharing the first story in the collection, titled “Needle at Sea Bottom.” In it, the protagonist, Edna, attempts to redefine herself following her husband’s stroke. I knew a woman in a similar situation—her husband had suffered a devastating stroke—and I wanted to explore how a character would attempt to restructure, and possibly rebuild, her life following this unimaginable event. In this story her husband has become in effect a stranger, and her idea of marriage and home, and the trajectory of her life, have changed radically.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

MaryEllen: The protagonist, Edna, though I felt as if in writing about her I was following her journey, her quest, as it unfolded over time. That is, her situation, her circumstances were known; what evolved for me was how she confronted them and was changed by them.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

MaryEllen: The situation, definitely; the idea of a sudden devastating illness changing a marriage, changing each spouse’s life.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

MaryEllen: Frank, Edna’s husband because of course his engagement with her has become so limited. Also, Roger Llewellyn, the tai chi instructor, because he wanted to remain unknowable to his class, to remain a mystery.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

MaryEllen: I researched stroke and its effects. I took a tai chi class and fortunately was given a number of hand-outs that were helpful in writing the story, especially the names and positions of the tai chi moves. I also try to be conscious of naming things, of making each object vivid. So I have collected a number of books I use for research.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

MaryEllen: This story was first published in Notre Dame Review in 2017, so my memory is a bit hazy. But I always write numerous drafts. I work hard to get language right, one of my preoccupations as a writer.

Betty: How long did it take you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

MaryEllen: This is a longer story, 22 manuscript pages, a little over 7,000 words. As a few years have gone by since I first wrote it, I can’t remember exactly how long it took. But I’m a slow writer; I have to really think about my characters.

Betty: What ritual or habits do you have while writing?

MaryEllen: I write in my small office. No radio programs or music. No coffee or other liquids I could spill. Phone off. I try to be, as they say, dressed and ready. My bookcase contains books I can use for research if needed, and books by authors I admire—it helps keep the environment conducive to work. I also have a dictionary and thesaurus nearby. I usually have a sheet of paper and a pencil for any notes I need to take–ideas I don’t want to lose as I’m working on the story.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

MaryEllen: “Just” is the big one. Also, “very.” Thank goodness for word search, you can go right to the overused words and change or eliminate them.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

MaryEllen: Ernest Shackleton. He was a visionary, and courageous, and his remarkable achievement in saving all of his men after their ship was lost in Antarctica, the daring and brutal adventure of it, seems to me to have been an interior achievement too. What makes the man. Who is the man. Also, Virginia Woolf, because she encourages women to abandon conventionality, to take risks. In her essay “Professions for Women” she writes that she had to kill a phantom, the Angel of the House, “in self-defence,” in order to become a writer—the Angel being the voice that tells us we must “never have a mind of [our] own, but…to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others.” “The struggle was severe,” she tells us. But she won.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

MaryEllen: I write and revise at my desk; I read in a big chair.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

MaryEllen: I am a former faculty member at Emerson College. I enjoyed it enormously—the students, fellow faculty members, and the opportunity to read and discuss books on that level.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

MaryEllen: Perhaps the greatest gift—being able to enter into the environment of books, of literature, as a reader, teacher, and writer.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

MaryEllen: Virginia Woolf because I so admire her mind. I especially admire To the Lighthouse—its structure, its concerns about women’s lives.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

MaryEllen: I’m grateful to have published books. Before then I had published short stories in literary magazines. Having a book brings one to another level of confidence.

In these 13 stories, the protagonists find themselves living outside cultural mores and expectations as they confront the central questions of their lives. If they see themselves on some level as living in a post-modern world, their actions are driven by the need to recognize and accept its actuality and at the same time to seek order and meaning within its challenges and limitations. Their evolving states of consciousness are explored in their relationship to the physical world, particularly the natural world and the domestic setting. The search for a home often preoccupies them, whether this home is a true place or a place within. The stories offer a window into the inner lives of girls and women that reveals both their richness and invisibility.

Buy Links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks for swinging in for a chat, MaryEllen!

I mentioned that I’ve recently written a short story, but what I didn’t say is that it’s included in the What A Day! Short Stories by Southern Writers anthology that just released on April 5! I took the time in my story, “The Perfect Birthday Gift,” to get to know two of my Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series characters, sisters Meg and Myrtle. You can learn more about all 11 stories in the book at www.heartofdixiefictionwriters.com/what-a-day/ and buy your copy at https://books2read.com/whataday!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Tempe from Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton #author #ghosts #historical #fiction #histfic #nonfiction #shortstories #childrensbooks #podcaster

Let’s welcome Tempe to the interview hotseat! She’s coming straight from author Yvonne Battle-Felton’s novel Remembered. We’ll look at Yvonne’s bio and then meet Tempe. Ready?

Author of Remembered, I am a writer, academic, host, creative producer, and podcaster. Remembered was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019) and shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize (2020). Winner of a Northern Writers Award in fiction (2017), I was commended for children’s writing in the Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize (2017) and have six titles in Penguin Random House’s The Ladybird Tales of Superheroes and The Ladybird Tales of Crowns and Thrones. I teach creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University where I am a Principal Lecturer and Humanities Business and Enterprise Lead.

Writer of nonfiction and fiction, short stories, novels, children’s adventures, and children’s nonfiction, I love stories in all its forms and aim to create spaces for diverse characters on and off the page, screen, and stage. Host of Write Your Novel with Yvonne Battle-Felton, a write-along podcast series developed with New Writing North, I create and host literary and storytelling events and opportunities.

Author Social Links:  Twitter * Instagram

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Tempe: I was a special child. I know other people like to believe that about themselves but for me, it’s the truth. They named a day after me and everything. It’s the De-haunting. It marks my being born and breaking the curse. For years, me and Sister helped Mama around the cabins and helped the other slaves with jobs here and there. As kids, we had the run of the place as long as we stayed away from the House. Seems like anything bad that happened, happened after I stepped foot on that front porch.

Betty: What kind of schooling did you have? Did you enjoy it?

Tempe: You know, sometimes I wish I could have gone to school. But, I was a slave and Walker wouldn’t allow none of his slaves to learn to read or write unless it did him any good. What learning I got was passed on from other people handing it down to me. Kept some of the best stories we ever heard in that book Sister totes around with her. They’re all pressed up together. Some written in words, others wrapped up in memories. It’s the only book I ever had. Only one I ever needed too.

Betty: When did you have your first kiss and with who? How did it go?

Tempe: My first kiss was with Edward. We were sitting near the river, feet dangling over the edge of the bank, toes skimming the water, sinking wishing stones to see which wish sunk first. It had started to rain. Not one of those can’t-make-your-mind-up plop, plop rains that don’t last hardly long enough to make it worth it to run inside but the washtub spilling over, gushing all over the floor type of rain that most people know better than to get stuck in. We were both wet, clothes sticking to our skin but didn’t neither one of us want to be anywhere but right there. It was cold and I was shivering. We huddled close to warm up but wet skin don’t really dry wet skin. So, we shivered together for a while. I’m not going to tell you what I told Mama: that we kissed just to stay warm. So, between you and me, we kissed and it felt so good that we did it quite a few times before we ever got caught.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest achievement? Why?

Tempe: Making sure my baby would never set foot on Walker soil a day in his life. My son was born just after the slaves were set free but Walker didn’t tell us nothing about it. As far as Walker was concerned, my baby would be a slave all his life just like me, my Mama and my Mama’s mama. That’s not what I wanted for my boy. I’d die before I let that happen.

Betty: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Tempe: That has to be the time Edward came to the house looking for extra work and Mama sent him away because we didn’t have anything to pay him with. Sister and me had been sick all day. But, when Mama came in to tell us, I just couldn’t believe it. There she was standing smack in front of the only chance I had to have Edward to myself—this is before the kiss, mind. I hopped up, didn’t even roll my pallet up or anything though according to Mama it didn’t seem like I was as sick as she had thought. I couldn’t help myself, I recited everything that someone as strong, capable and handsome as Edward could fix around the house and wouldn’t you know it, she hadn’t sent Edward home at all. He was out back and heard everything I said!

Betty: If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Tempe: That’s a tough question. I don’t regret the way I died but I do wish I could have lived long enough to watch my boy grow up. So, I guess if I could change one thing, we would have run away much sooner. Maybe even before Mama left.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Tempe: My greatest fear is that my son won’t know his way back Home. Not home like the streets he lives on but home, where you go back to when you’re dead. See, if my boy doesn’t know where he came from, he won’t know where he’s going. His soul’s liable to end up wandering and lost, aimless and rootless all because he wouldn’t know his past if it walked up to him. So, my greatest fear isn’t just him not knowing who I am. It’s him not knowing who he is. I don’t suspect anyone other than Sister knows it.

Betty: How much of your true self do you share with others?

Tempe: Less than a thimble full. I tell Mama a pinch, Sister a pinch, and Edward a pinch. The rest, I keep for myself. You know why? I learned even without being told (that didn’t stop Mama from telling me) that if someone asks how I feel about being a slave, so and so getting sold away, belonging to Walker, that the truth, my true self, ain’t hardly what they want to hear. They want to hear that they in the right and you—even though it ain’t true—are in the wrong. Mama says that sometimes my feelings sort of flicker across my face and when that happens it makes her scared that Walker will see it and send me away or—and I can’t tell which is worse—keep me for himself. So, even after all this time, I keep my true self—the one who wants to be free, happy, safe, in love—mostly to myself. That’s the only way I can see to keep it safe.

Betty: Are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Tempe: You know, I didn’t really get to know most of my family until after I died. That’s how I got to really know Mama and even my Father. I had never met him when I was alive. Growing up, Sister and Mama and me have always been close. I know it looks like I give her a hard time, but she’s my little sister and I love her almost more than anything. That’s why I still visit—even if it is only to bring bad news.

Betty: If you could change yourself in some way, what change would you make? Why?

Tempe: It sure would be nice to be alive. Not to be young again but to grow old. I’d love to grow old with Sister—she calls herself Spring now. So, I’d love to grow old with Spring and to live long enough to die of old age.

It is 1910 and Philadelphia is burning.

The last place Spring wants to be is in the run-down, segregated hospital surrounded by the groans of sick people and the ghost of her dead sister. But as her son Edward lays dying, she has no other choice.

There are whispers that Edward drove a streetcar into a shop window. Some people think it was an accident, others claim that it was his fault, the police are certain that he was part of a darker agenda. Is he guilty? Can they find the truth?

All Spring knows is that time is running out. She has to tell him the story of how he came to be. With the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings, and reconstructed memories, she must find a way to get through to him. To shatter the silences that governed her life, she must remember a painful past to lead Edward home.

Buy Links: BlackstonePublishing

Sounds like a haunting tale to be sure. Thanks, Tempe, for stopping in and sharing with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Shelley Justice #author #contemporary #romance #fiction #books

My guest today embodies the spirit of never giving up and believing in yourself. And all wrapped up in a sweet and fun woman! Come on and meet author Shelley Justice and find out exactly what I mean. First, here’s a glance at her bio and then we’ll meet her and her latest book release.

Shelley Justice is a Southern belle who lives with her husband and two children in northern Alabama. Her love for the written word inspired her to start writing when she was thirteen years old, and she’s been living in her imagination and crafting stories ever since. In addition to being a bookworm, she is a self-proclaimed TV addict with a special affinity for dramas. She also loves romantic movies, especially of the black-and-white variety.

Author Social Links:  Facebook * Instagram

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

Shelley: This is a part of my series, and Brick is a popular character among readers of the series. When I began, I never intended for him to have a book all his own, but the more I wrote in the series, the more I liked this character and wanted to explore his story.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Shelley: Both of the main characters, Brick and Hope, were fully developed when I started writing. I liked the idea of an opposites attract trope for these two, and it worked well.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Shelley: Hope owns a bridal boutique and designs her own wedding gowns. This was inspired by my love for the television show Say Yes to the Dress.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Shelley: The antagonist. I won’t say who this person is because there’s a reveal close to the end. But this character was sort of a “throwaway” character, as I call them, one meant to add something to a more important character and then the throwaway character is gone and probably forgotten. It wasn’t until the midpoint of the book that I realized this character needed a more prominent role in the story. It meant having to go back and add some hints in what I’d already written, but I was glad I did.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Shelley: I didn’t do a lot of research before I started writing. I usually wait until a particular question comes to mind, and then I disappear down a rabbit hole of internet searches. There are some characters who work as commercial realtors, so I had to do some research into their licensing and qualifications.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Shelley: Two read-throughs and edits of the whole thing, start to finish. Multiple edits of particular scenes as I was writing. Something would occur to me, and I’d either go back and work it out in another scene so I could move forward, or I would make a note to edit that scene once I finished. Sometimes I have to edit as I go, otherwise I get stuck on something and can’t concentrate enough to move on.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Shelley: About three months. Maybe a little more. Since I write part-time, it usually takes me three or four months to write a first draft, but that’s if the characters cooperate. I’ve had one or two in the series to take longer because the characters wouldn’t follow the story I had in mind. The longest amount of time it’s taken me to complete a first draft has been over a year.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Shelley: I start with a list of characters and descriptions. Sometimes I find photos of random people online to provide me a visual of what the characters look like. Then I just start writing and see where the words take me. Sometimes I’ll have an inkling of how I want the main characters to meet, but the rest comes when it comes.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Shelley: That is a BIG one. Smile or look/gaze/stare is another. I have an eye fetish I’ve discovered. LOL!

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Shelley: My mentor, Maryann Jordan, is one I look up to. She and I have become great friends, and she’s been so patient in answering my endless questions about her writing career and her process. She’s published over 70 books and doesn’t have plans to stop. That’s a goal I’d like to shoot for. I also look up to Dolly Parton. She’s a Southern gal with sass and style and a don’t-care attitude that I wish I had. But I love her work with the Imagination Library and with literacy.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Shelley: Because I write part-time, I write everywhere. In the car, in the living room piled up on my recliners, in waiting rooms, you name it. Revising I prefer to do while I’m at home. Reading is something I do everywhere. If I’m bored, then I look for something to read usually.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Shelley: I work in marketing for a community college. I never thought this would be a career I enjoyed, but I do. I have time for writing, but I’m able to be creative. I’ve also met some incredible people along the way.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Shelley: Actually, publishing that first book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was thirteen, but it never seemed to be the right time. I allowed my doubts about whether my writing was good enough or whether anyone would want to read it keep me from considering publishing an option. I don’t know how many times I almost talked myself out of doing it, but I have so many supportive people in my “tribe” who wouldn’t let me give up. It’s only been two years, but I’ve learned so much since that first book.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Shelley: Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. That book has always been a favorite of mine, and her story has always fascinated me. She’s an author from Alabama, which is my home state as well, and she just always seemed like someone who would shoot straight from the hip, as my grandmother would say. I admire people like that.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Shelley: I have set goals for my writing career, but I don’t believe meeting those goals would mean success for me as much as they would be a source of personal pride. Success for me is a single image I’ve had in my head a long time – to be in a library, to see my book on a shelf and to hear one reader (who doesn’t know me personally) to recommend the book to another reader. Knowing I created something that someone enjoyed enough to recommend it would be a humbling and joyful moment.

Hope Robertson has carefully thought out every aspect of her life. That plan does not include losing her mind, and she had a to-do list to prove it. Someone is disrupting her orderly life in ways so subtle no one believes they are anything more than just flukes. But she has no time for chaos, so she heads to the security firm next door for help.

After a successful military career, Brick Coffey landed at Knight Security and Investigations, and discovered a job he loves. He never imagined he could need or want more in his life — until he sees her. One quick look through the boutique window, and Brick can’t forget the vision dressed in a brilliant white wedding dress. He knows she is out of his league, but when she hires KSI to protect her, he can’t stay away from her.

Hope is French food and fine wine. Brick is barbecue and beer. He’s everything she thinks she doesn’t want. She’s everything he didn’t realize he had been missing. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her because when this case is over, he plans to show her they are more right than wrong.

Buy Links: Amazon

Thanks for swinging by, Shelley! I’m glad you didn’t give up and followed your heart. Your readers thank you, too!

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Introducing Bertha Woods from The Banker’s Wife by Tina Susedik #author #romance #historical #western #suspense #fiction #amreading

My guest today is a strong female character from Tina Susedik’s The Banker’s Wife. Sometimes survival means doing something we regret and yet wouldn’t change. Let’s meet Bertha Woods and find out more about her choices. Take a quick peek at Tina’s bio and then we’ll jump right in.

Tina Susedik is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling, multi-published author with books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, military books and romances. Her favorite is writing romantic suspense where her characters live happily ever after with a lot of problems to overcome to get there. Tina also writes spicier romance as Anita Kidesu. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin where winters are long, summers short, and spring and fall beautiful.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Pinterest

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Bertha: A mix of joy and anger. I was the happiest when I was at Mamaw and Papaw’s farm where I could fish, learn cook, sew, and knit. Even though I had to help with chores, most of the time I didn’t have to wear shoes and was allowed to ride astride my horse. The saddest was when I had to go back home and have to deal with my mother and society. I hated the balls and soirees, wearing corsets, acting prim and proper.

Betty: What kind of schooling did you have? Did you enjoy it?

Bertha: I had twelve years of schooling. I was then to teach at a country school, but I was forced to marry before I had a chance.

Betty: When did you have your first kiss and with who? How did it go?

Bertha: James Woods. I thought it was pleasant, but it didn’t ignite any sparks like I read about in my dime novels.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest achievement? Why?

Bertha: I think it was turning back into the person I was before my husband changed me. He was a not a nice man at all.

Betty: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Bertha: Having James kneel before me at a country dance and propose to me while the man I loved watched.

Betty: If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Bertha: Do what I wanted and not what my mother forced me to do. I would have taught and probably married Sy Anderson.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Bertha: My greatest fear was that I would never be loved. I think Mamaw knew.

Betty: How much of your true self do you share with others?

Bertha: Not much. James saw to it that I had no friends.

Betty: Are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Bertha: I’m close to Mama and Papaw, but not Mother and Father. I wish my mother would have let me be me, but her machinations will never make that possible.

Betty: What characteristics are you looking for in a potential lover/spouse?

Bertha: Kind, caring, loves to joke around, accepts my ideas and thoughts. Treats me as a partner, not something he owns.

Betty:How do you like to relax? What kind of entertainment do you enjoy?

Bertha: I relax by knitting. I love to dance, but once we were married, James never wanted to.

Betty: If you could change yourself in some way, what change would you make? Why?

Bertha: I wouldn’t be such a harpy. I would stand up for myself, even if it meant retaliation from James. I’d be friendlier.

Betty: What do you think you’re good at? Bad at?

Bertha: I’m good at knitting and, when given the chance, cooking. I’m bad at making friends.

Betty: What items do you carry in your pockets or handbag?

Bertha: In my small reticule, I have a handkerchief and the few coins James gives me.

Betty: What foods and beverages do you routinely have in your refrigerator?

Bertha: I don’t know what a refrigerator is. Since James or my mother never let me cook, I have no idea what is in the icebox.

Alone. Always alone. Alone because she’d killed him. She was a murderess, and the worst part was her remorse was the size of a flake of gold.

Married to a man she didn’t choose, Bertha Woods is unprepared for her husband’s cruelty turning her from a sweet, innocent girl who is happiest out on the farm, to a cold-hearted, lonely, society harridan. Always thinking of her first love, for twenty years she bears his scams, beatings, and hatred until she takes matters into her own hands.

Can she return to being the kind-hearted, happy woman she once was? Will she ever find love and happiness with the horse trainer who enters her life?

Travel back to Deadwood, South Dakota in 1879, and meet the characters who live and work with Bertha Woods, The Banker’s Wife.

Purchase links: Amazon * Books2Read

Thanks for stopping by to tell your story, Bertha. And thanks to Tina for encouraging you to come join me today.

Happy reading, all!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Grace Colline #author #regency #historical #romance #professor #artist #fiction #amreading

Ready for a romance on the high seas? Please help me welcome author Grace Colline! She’s written an entraining love story aboard ship. Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing process and the story she’s brought today.

After moving to Georgia in 2002, I became busy as a foster mom and department chair at another community college and writing kinda fell off the map for a while even though my husband kept at me to keep writing. I also pursued my love of fiber arts (using a spinning wheel to make yarn from wool and other fiber) and so the phrase “spinning a yarn” has a double meaning for me.

Enter my daughter, Crystal who is also a writer. She was determined to get me writing again and in August of 2019 presented me with several romances and informed me that I had six weeks to write a book to pitch at the upcoming Moonlight and Magnolias writing conference in October. So, I wrote one. Then another. Then I finished writing a couple novels that had been sitting around for years. Now I am back to working at getting my novels published.

My husband and I have adopted three children, and I am now an online professor leaving me lots of time for writing. I write just about every day, and spinning seems to help the muse along.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook

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

Grace: I had written a story where a minor character loses the girl, and he kind of demanded his own story!

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Grace: Captain Desmond Coulter arrived having been introduced already in An Inconvenient War.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Grace: Character—as I said, Captain Coulter wanted his own story.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Grace: I had the hardest time with the captain’s sister—she was very similar to myself and so I kept second-guessing myself.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Grace: I had to do a lot of research on square-rigged ships, their anatomy and how they sail to try and be as authentic as possible.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Grace: I tend to write a complete draft the first time around and then go through the editing process once or twice before sending it to my editor.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Grace: It took about two months, which is pretty standard for me.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Grace: LOL! I eat a lot of chocolates and do a lot of spinning on my spinning wheel so at the end I have a lot of yarn to knit with.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Grace: Look and then, I have to do a search for these before sending off to the editor!

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Grace: Jane Austen—she did so much for literature with just a few books. I can only imagine what she would have accomplished had she lived longer.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Grace: My chair for all three—I have a bad back so it is my most comfortable place.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Grace: I am an online Biology professor for a community college. I only work part-time, and I enjoy it—though I would love to write full-time.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Grace: I have written a science fiction novel that is a love story…not a typical romance. It is with an editor right now, and has been about twenty years in the making.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

Grace: Jane Austen or Catherine Tinley. The former for obvious reasons, the latter because she is a contemporary Regency novelist and I would love to learn all about her—how she started, research, etc.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Grace: Initially I just wanted to see my books in print. However, I do want to one day make a living at this, so there is that goal waiting out there for me still.

Captain Desmond Coulter knew there was something wrong with the newest cabin boy—but he didn’t expect to find a girl in disguise. Now the Tempest is miles out to sea, and he is quickly becoming captivated by her warm smiles and vivid green eyes. It’s more and more difficult to think of her going back to London without him…

Eleanor Warburton knew only that she had to escape her father, the admiral’s, clutches and his terrifying plan to marry her to the most illustrious suitor. She had been willing to do anything, even disguise herself and sneak aboard a random ship. But now her father is threatening to bring forth his mistress and humiliate her mother…what is she to do?  To follow her heart means to destroy her mother—if only she could find a way to catch the captain and free herself at the same time.

Buy Links: Amazon

I’m not much of a sailing fan, but I am intrigued by romances at sea. Thanks for sharing your behind-the-scenes look at your process, Grace!

Happy reading!

Betty

Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter