Getting to know Michael Powell #author #singer #historical #military #fiction

My guest today is a multi-talented man who enjoys writing historical and science fiction. Please help me welcome Michael Powell! Let’s take a gander at his bio and then move on to the fun stuff, shall we?

Michael Powell was a Choral Exhibitioner at Christ Church Oxford and intended to become a professional singer but became a computer programmer to pay the bills in the meantime. Over the years, he alternated between the two careers. He authored a number of successful software products and, at the same time, performed professionally as a soloist in concerts and operatic performances around the UK and abroad.

In the 1980s he was commissioned to write articles for the UK national and specialist press on software-related subjects and wrote two books about Contracting (one largely written during rehearsals for Britten’s “Rape of Lucretia” at the Aldeburgh Festival).

In 1993 he met his wife, Kerstin. They bought a boat in Greece and have visited most of the Greek islands and the Turkish Mediterranean coast.

During their travels, they discovered the island of Leros where they bought a house in 2014. He became fascinated with the wartime history of the island which inspired him to write his first novel, “Four’s Destiny” and the sequel “Cheese and Chalk”.

His eclectic lifestyle has enabled him to continue to pursue his various careers wherever he happens to be.

Website * Facebook * Amazon * Twitter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Michael: During the 1980s.

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

Michael: Immediately as a journalist, but you never stop working on your skills (such as they are).

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

Michael: Max Hastings, Iain Banks, Louis de Bernières

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Michael: I was temporarily unemployed when a company I had established was taken over and I was forced to step down. That prompted me to write a satirical piece for a computer magazine, which led to more regular commissions.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Michael: Journalism about IT-related subjects.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Michael: Fiction – some historical, some science fiction. Because I am interested in people’s experiences in conflict and in where science and technology are leading.

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

Michael: I just did it. Press sub editors helped.

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

Michael: I’d still like to find out how to market my work!

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

Michael: Initially a number of journalists with whom I was in contact during my work in software products companies.

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

Michael: I live much of the year in the Greek island of Leros, where each year there is a commemoration of a little-known World War II battle. That led me to think about the young men who fought on both sides who were brought together and destroyed by this cataclysm. English, Italians, Greeks and Germans fought and died here for very little benefit. I pictured one young man from each of these nations and wondered in what circumstances they could have met before the war and how their different lives would have been led until that fateful event.

“Four’s Destiny” melds real historical events in the period 1912-1943 with a fictional account of the short lives of four young men caught up in the maelstrom of war. At its core is the Greek Dodecanese island of Leros, the site of a largely unknown battle in World War II. The destinies of the four overlap tragically in that battle as the Italian nation overthrows Mussolini and casts in its lot with the Allies against the Nazis.

Excerpt:

Rolf Muller led his squadron of Ju88 dive bombers from the German controlled airfield in Megara on the Greek mainland towards the Dodecanese Islands. “A different target today, lads,” he told his crew. “We’re finished with Kos, now we’re going after Leros. It’s only a small island, but it’s bristling with guns and we’ve got to close it down.”

The twin-engined planes droned across the Aegean, passing areas already under German control. A further group of islands, laid out in a north-south line, materialised out of the haze on the eastern horizon, shimmering in the bright sunshine. Below them, the sea, gently ruffled by the mild winds which blew at that time of year, remained calm and peaceful.

“There it is!” said Rolf, indicating an island which looked as if it had been squeezed between a giant’s fingers to create two deep bays on each side, with narrow peninsulas in between. Dropping down to a lower height, he led the approach to the south-western bay, skimming tall, rugged hills until a deep inlet appeared below. “We’re in luck!” he cried as he spotted two warships at anchor, “two targets in sight.” 

He took his plane soaring up high above the bay and tilted it over to set it into a steep dive, aiming at one of the ships. As he did so, he saw puffs of smoke appear from the guns of the other vessel. His target was not yet responding and, coming closer, he saw men running to their stations, like panicking ants. “Too late, my friends” he thought grimly.

Buy links: Amazon US * Amazon IT

Sounds like a fascinating and haunting story, Michael. What a situation to find yourself in, too. Thanks for sharing it with us!

Thanks for reading! Happy Holidays!

Betty Bolte

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 Ruth A. Casie #author #historical #romance #action #adventure #RomSus #amwriting #books

My guest today is a fellow lover of the Outlander series, so please help me welcome Ruth Casie! Let’s take a gander at her bio and then find out more about her inspiration for writing her best-selling stories.

Ruth A. Casie, a USA Today bestselling author, writes historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romantic suspense with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her own hero, three empty bedrooms, and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her “voice,” she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager. What is her favorite job? Without a doubt it’s writing romances. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures.

5 Things About Ruth.

1.  She filled her passport up in one-year.

2.  She has three series.  Historical Romance: The Druid Knight Series (time travel), The Stelton Legacy (fantasy), and Contemporary Romantic Suspense: Havenport Romances (small town). She also writes stories in the Pirates of Britannia Connected World.

3.  She did a rap to “How Many Trucks Can a Tow Truck Tow If a Tow Truck Could Tow Trucks.”

4.  When she cooks she dances.

5.  Her Sudoku book is in the bathroom. She’s not saying anything else about that.

Website * BookBub * Instagram * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Ruth: I grew up in a creative household. My Dad was a dentist. My Mom worked in his office. Their hobby, besides collecting silver and crystal at auctions, was oil painting.  My hobby was getting in their way. Mom painted brilliant still-lifes while Dad was wonderful with seascapes. I was bad even at stick figures. My forte was making up stories and coercing my older sister (not an easy task—she’s fifteen years older than me) to act them out with me.

The stories in my head never stopped. But writing them down… no. As a matter of fact, I’m sure my high school English teacher is spinning in his grave at the idea that I’m a published author of nearly twenty books. I started writing in the Fall of 2009.

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

Ruth: When I finished writing my manuscript I had no idea what to do with it. I looked for a support group for guidance and found two groups, Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Liberty State Fiction Writers. Published authors in both groups were helpful and encouraging. I also found my critique partner, Jen. We still run our stories by each other. But I digress… My manuscript was polished and ready for pitching within a year. (I had a lot to learn.) I finished my first draft Spring 2010. I was under contract with Carina Press right after the first of the year, 2011.

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

Ruth: After I learned that I had to edit the draft before I could present it to anyone (yes, I was that naïve), I took a class in how to self-edit your story. It was given by Eliza Knight. She became my mentor. Her editing plan as well as sensual writing and story development techniques provided a good groundwork for my writing. While I do not write as “hot” as she does, the technique is still valuable.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Ruth: I started writing when a good friend told me she wanted to write a romance story. I     offered to help, beta read, brainstorm, anything she needed. The idea of being involved in a story from inception fascinated me. I was an avid historical romance reader. At the time I was still working for the bank and flying overseas for business. I read to fill my time on flights and evenings.

My friend and I bounced around story ideas. We came across two themes that we liked. She challenged me to write my story. We could sell the two books as a set. The idea was intriguing. With only time to lose, I started sketching out my story that spring and four months later had a 100K word finished historical fantasy novel.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Ruth: I started writing historical fantasy. My first book was Knight of Runes, a time travel romance. I enjoy historical romances with lords, knights, Druids, and magic. You can make anything happen. That said, I got together with three other authors (we’re close writing friends) and decided to write an anthology, four standalone stories around one theme. I was the only historical author and needed to decide what I would do. I decided to write contemporary romantic suspense. We created a small Rhode Island coastal town, Havenport, and wrote our stories. We have since pulled the stories out of the anthology and published them on our own.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Ruth: Creativity. After twenty-five years of working at an international bank as a product manager where you did not get high marks for creative writing, writing romantic fantasy, time travel in particular, was mind expanding and fun. As an empty nester, I came home each night and added to my story and worked on weekends. I was enthusiastic and excited about each plot twist and “great line” I wrote. I spoke to my characters, which drove my husband crazy as well as a state policeman when he stopped me for speeding. But that is another story entirely!

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

Ruth: Eliza Knight was my mentor when I wrote Knight of Runes, and we still catch up when we can. I have taken classes with Donald Maass, Michael Hauge, and Damon Suede to name a few. Up until the recent pandemic, I attended the RWA National Conference and even served as Workshop Chair. I also attend the New Jersey Chapter conferences. While I attend some workshops, I get the recorded workshops and spend time networking and catching up with people I only see once a year.

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

Ruth: Knight of Runes was published by Carina Press. I remember asking Angela James, the acquiring editor, what I should do to market the book. She said write the next story. Her answer frustrated me. How was I going to sell books if no one knew who I was? I didn’t take her advice, instead I spent a lot of time and money (that I didn’t have) on marketing the book.

Sales were good, but I had nothing else to sell. Fans I had taken so much time to cultivate were asking for more stories but I didn’t have any. Looking back, I wish I had listened to Angela and written more stories sooner.

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

Ruth: All the authors whose books I read on those international flights and who kept me company at dinner and afterwards are the authors who inspired me: Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, Julia Quinn, Diana Gabaldon, Judith McKnight, Johanna Lindsey, Eliza Knight, Kathryn LeVeque. But it’s not only about romance. There is this action-adventure side that excites me inspired by Clive Cussler, Dan Brown, and Tom Clancy.

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

Ruth: I read Outlander and loved the story. The concept was as intriguing as Jude Devereaux’s Knight in Shining Armor. When my friend asked me to write my own story, I found myself creating a time travel romance. The result was Knight of Runes, a story about a woman, Rebeka, who falls back in time to 1605 and meets her soulmate, Lord Arik. I followed it with Knight of Rapture. In this story, Rebeka is tricked back into the 21st century and Arik must go through time to rescue her.

She was his witch, his warrior, and his wife. He was her greatest love.
Four centuries couldn’t keep them apart.

When Lord Arik, a druid knight, finds Rebeka Tyler wandering his lands without protection, he swears to keep her safe. But Rebeka can take care of herself. When Arik sees her clash with a group of attackers using a strange fighting style, he’s intrigued.

Rebeka is no ordinary seventeenth-century woman—she’s travelled back from the year 2011, and she desperately wants to return to her own time. She poses as a scholar sent by the king to find out what’s killing Arik’s land. But as she works to decode the ancient runes that are the key to solving this mystery and sending her home, she finds herself drawn to the charismatic and powerful Arik.

As Arik and Rebeka fall in love, someone in Arik’s household schemes to keep them apart, and a dark druid with a grudge prepares his revenge. Soon Rebeka will have to decide whether to return to the future or trust Arik with the secret of her time travel and her heart.

Excerpt:

Rebeka stood taller, planted her staff on the ground in a quiet emphatic fashion and stared squarely into his eyes. “I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”

Arik shifted his attention to her, taking her in fully. He was used to facing men eye-to-eye. Most were intimidated and unable to hold his stare. He gave her his fiercest look, expecting her to look away, and was stunned when she stared back at him in the same manner. Arrogant. There was also a spark of something he couldn’t pinpoint. An instant chemistry of recognition and challenge. He quickly hid his feelings, a practiced talent.

She wasn’t as adept. He saw the recognition in her eyes before she won control of her reaction. She registered confusion, a sense of disbelief and white-hot anger.

She probably came up to his shoulder. He marveled at how the gold and copper flecks in her mahogany hair reflected in the sun. Although her hair was bound, wisps fell in gentle waves, framing her oval face. Her skin looked soft to touch and was vibrant and healthy even through the bruises. Her mouth was full and inviting, her white teeth perfectly straight. Her deep-set eyes, an extraordinary shade of violet shot through with flecks of silver, held his attention. He saw intelligence in them and passion. The intelligence was a surprise. The passion, well, he stirred that in many women.

Buy links: Amazon

I love a good time travel romance! That’s why I enjoy Outlander so much. This one sounds really intriguing, too. Thanks for sharing, Ruth!

Happy reading!

Betty Bolte

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 Lynda Rees #author #historical #romance #suspense #childrens #novels

Please help me welcome a natural storyteller turned author, Lynda Rees! She’s a woman with a mission but I’ll let her fill you in on the details. Right after we take a look at her bio, that is!

Lynda Rees is an award-winning story teller from Kentucky. Born in the Appalachian Mountains the daughter of a coal miner and part-Cherokee Indian, Lynda grew up in Northern Kentucky when Newport prospered under the Cleveland Mob as a gambling, prostitution and sin mecca. Fascination with history’s effect on today works its way into her written pages.

Having traveled the world working with heads of industry, foreign governments and business managers during a corporate marketing and global transportation career, this free spirited adventurer with workaholic tendencies, followed her passion for writing.

Both debut novels are award winners.Gold Lust Conspiracy is her historical novel debut and a RITA Finalist. Lynda’s debut romantic suspense, Parsley, Sage, Rose, Mary & Wine of The Bloodline Series; is set in Kentucky horse country. The Bloodline Series now consists of 10 books. Lynda’s Middle-Grade Children’s Mysteries, Freckle Face & Blondieand The Thinking Tree, are co-authored with twelve-year-old granddaughter Harley Nelson of California, Kentucky.

Lynda hopes you enjoy her stories and you become life-long friends.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?  

Lynda: I’ve been writing since I could spell and put pen to paper. I had a 36-year corporate career with P&G in Marketing and Global Transportation. I wrote everything from business proposals, system design, employee classes, advertising copy and training manuals. I’ve been published for the last six years and have twenty-one books in publication in ebook, print and audio. Many of them are published in six languages.

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

Lynda: Once I determined to publish my work, it took three years to understand the industry, learn the business of publishing and what publishers want in a manuscript. I studied craft and the industry. At the same time, I researched for my first book, a romantic historical novel about a woman’s struggle to survive during the 1890s Alaskan Gold Rush. Then I started selling the book, until I made connection with a publisher, and Gold Lust Conspiracy was born.

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

Lynda: I write a mix of Janet Evanovich’s comedy with a dash of Robyn Carr’s small town appeal, a tad of Adelaide Forrest’s mobster mystery and a bit of Lucy Score’s billionaires. Most of my books are set in Sweetwater, Kentucky, a melting pot of souls of all kinds.  The community is loaded with billionaire racing moguls, political influence, FBI agents, U.S. Marshals, a silver-haired sheriff, gay attorneys, professional and amateur females determined to protect their own. If the reader likes fresh-start stories, mobster history, enemies-to-lovers, quirky characters, female sleuths, a hint of comedy with suspense and romance, they’ll want to read my books.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lynda: An internal need to tell stories—I can’t shut the voices in my head up. They’re screaming to get out.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lynda: My first novel was Award-Winning Historical Novel Gold Lust Conspiracy. My second launch was Award-Winning Contemporary Mystery Parsley, Sage, Rose, Mary & Wine, Book 1 of The Bloodline Series, set in horse country of Kentucky.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lynda: I can’t get through the day without putting words onto the screen. It’s part of who I am.

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

Lynda: I joined Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death, Mystery Writers of America, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and Sisters In Crime. These professional organizations are the lifeblood of authors.

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

Lynda: Writing for publication is more than simply telling a story. There’s magic in drawing a reader into the lives, minds, and hearts of characters, into a world outside of their daily existence.

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

Lynda: Louisa May Alcott wrote my favorite children’s book, Eight Cousins. I learned to read with my grandfather and the Bible. Danielle Steele is an all-time favorite, as are Debbie Macomber and Janet Evanovich.

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

Lynda: Hart’s Girls is my attempt to use entertainment to bring awareness to the public about a despicable, growing trend. Human trafficking is a highly profitable, major industry of epidemic proportions, and it happens right under our noses. Many don’t realize their young ones are being preyed upon. Awareness is the key to combatting the frightening, growing trend. Hart’s Girls is in ebook, print and soon to be in audio format.

Human trafficking puts innocent children at risk in all neighborhoods. FBI Special Agent Reggie Casse and U. S. Marshal Shae Montgomery resent each other’s intrusion, when they must join forces to stop abductions around Sweetwater, Kentucky. Antagonism turns to attraction they can’t act on without putting lives in danger. Shae thinks Reggie is planning her wedding with another. Shae’s ex wants her man back. Investigation leads to powerful players. Shots are fired. Will they get past their differences and have each other’s backs?

Buy links: Amazon

I think you’re right about bringing awareness to the human trafficking. I admire your willingness to take on this important subject, Lynda! I once wrote a novel with white slavery/human trafficking as a theme but that story will never see the light of day because it was written a long, long time ago… I hope many people will read your book and perhaps learn more about the reality in our country.

As the holidays quickly approach, I hope and pray you’ll be safe and well! Happy reading!

Betty Bolte

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 Suki McMinn #author #contemporary #paranormal #romance #mystery

As this year keeps kicking butt and taking names, please help me welcome an author who is trying to add a bit of humor to the world. Suki McMinn writes contemporary stories with a touch of humor thrown in. Let’s take a peek at her bio and then find out more about her, shall we?

Suki McMinn writes contemporary and paranormal fiction, romance and mystery. After working as a model and commercial actor in Los Angeles and a newspaper columnist in North Carolina, Suki now lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband and dogs and spends her summers in Tryon, North Carolina. She’s a member of the Desert Rose chapter of the Romance Writers of America and a founding member of Tryon Writers. Her cozy mysteries begin with The Vampire of Waller County. Drop Dead Gorgeous starts her adult paranormal romance series. Suki also writes nonfiction as Susan McNabb.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Suki: I started writing when I was 49. I’d earned an English Lit degree years before, but didn’t start to write until I discovered fanfiction along with the freedom to fail with a pen name. I got braver and fell in love with writing.

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

Suki: I think it was about four years after I started to post fanfiction stories that I found a publisher for my first novel, Drop Dead Gorgeous. In that time, I published 70 fanfiction stories and began multiple works of original fiction.

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

Suki: Oh my goodness, too many to count. Most of my fanfiction is based on the Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris, so she certainly was a big influence, but I was also inspired by many wonderful fanfiction writers who were writing in the same fandom. Of course, there are many authors I love: Jane Austen, Anne Rice, Charles Frazier, but I also have to give credit to the unknown writers who shared my love for fanfiction.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Suki: A friend coaxed me into taking a free weekly women’s writing workshop, and I discovered fanfiction at about the same time. Pretty soon, I found I couldn’t make the workshop because I was too busy writing. I was obsessed quite quickly.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Suki: I experimented with my fanfiction stories. Some were paranormal, some were historical, dark and dramatic, light and funny, short stories, long multi-chapter ones. It’s just a wonderful playground for new writers to find their footing.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Suki: I always want a romance in the story, no matter what. And I love writing humor. Making a reader laugh is a great reward. Many of my stories have paranormal aspects, but not all. My current work in progress is a contemporary romantic comedy. No vampires.

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

Suki: All of the above. As a new writer, I was hungry for knowledge about the craft of writing, publishing, marketing—all of it. I joined writers groups, found workshops and classes at libraries, conferences, online. There’s always more to learn, and I love meeting other writers. I could spend all day talking to writers about writing.

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

Suki: What I want other new writers to know is that they will find a lot of rejection. I can’t say I didn’t know this when I started writing because I’d been in the modeling and acting world for many years. When a writer friend tried to gently warn me about rejection, he asked what I did for a living. When I said I was an actor, he laughed and said, “Never mind.” So, here’s my message to all new writers: you’ll hear no a lot. Step over the no’s and keep going.

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

Suki: I’ve mentioned that I love many authors, and that includes my fanfiction family of writers. I was inspired by their stories and often found contests to enter, prompts we could share, all sorts of ways to hatch new story ideas.

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

Suki: I attended a writers’ conference class on the hero’s journey. I’d been wanting to place a story in a small town, much like the one in which I’d recently lived in North Carolina. I had a main character in mind, and the workshop gave him a purpose, so I jumped in with the challenge to send him on a proper hero’s journey. I made him a biter for good measure.

What if a simple drug could turn a human into a vampire? And what if that drug fell into the hands of a man bent on creating his own army of monsters?

Dr. Jim Samuels set his sights on the sleepy town of Hogback, North Carolina, tucked into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains and full of the kind of simple-minded fools he needs to execute his plan.

What he doesn’t count on is Nathan Waller: kind and hard-working, the last Waller in Waller County, dedicated to his community and the girl who holds his heart.

When Nathan interferes with Dr. Samuels’ scheme, he puts everyone he loves in danger. Can he save sweet Holly McReady in time? Can he step up to be the hero of Waller County?

Halloween in Hogback will never be the same, and neither will Nathan Waller.

Excerpt:

Nathan was the tallest person in the newspaper photo by more than a foot, even without his witch hat. The headline read, “Hogback prepares for Halloween Stroll,” and showed Nathan with three other Stroll committee members, all old enough to be his grandparents.

“Hey, you made the front page again,” Dana said, pointing to the paper on the counter in front of him. “You’re not scheduled to work this morning. Want some coffee?” She poured him a cup before he answered. “Shouldn’t you be in Asheville?”

“Yeah, I missed class again,” he said. “The Prius is dead.” The check-battery light had been glaring at him the entire two years since his mother had passed the car along to him. If he was lucky, it would only need the smaller, cheaper battery, not the big one. Of course, he didn’t have the money for either.

“Is your mom working?”

“She’s cleaning a house over in Thickety Branch today.” He’d taken rides from her too many times anyway. “I’m starting to wonder if college in Asheville was a mistake. Maybe I should have just gone to Skyuka Community College up the road.”

“There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind,” she said.

“How’s the book coming along?” Mr. Marshall asked from the end of the counter.

Nathan smiled and gave a thumbs-up, then burned the roof of his mouth with his coffee.

There was no book.

Buy links: Amazon

Book or no book, that sounds like quite a hook to a good story! Thanks for giving us a sneak peek at your small town vampire story, Suki!

Halloween is almost upon us! How are you celebrating this year? We’re putting out goody bags of candy in a black cauldron for the visiting witches and goblins and others to pick up as they swing by. If you’re wanting to stay home with a good book, try Suki’s vampire story or any of the stories in either the Secrets of Roseville or Fury Falls Inn series. You’ll have a hauntingly good time with any of them!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Betty Bolte

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 Lynn Collins #author #contemporary #romance #HEA

Getting to know Lynn Collins #author #contemporary #romance #HEA

My guest author today has really experienced what it’s like being a published author in today’s marketplace. But I’ll let her tell you more about her experience and her inspiration. Please help me welcome, Lynn Collins!

Lynn Collins is the romance pen name for New York Times bestselling mystery author, Lynn Cahoon.

Lynn Collins claims to be the daughter of Barnabas (Dark Shadows) and says she grew up in a dark, dank castle on the moors, waiting to be rescued. Finally, as all good heroines do, she rescued herself and now writes about happily ever afters in small town settings.  Someday she hopes to write the next big gothic romance. She lives with her cat.​

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lynn: My first romance short was published in 2010 – both with the Trues (True Love/True Experience) and Women’s World. My first full length book was published in 2012. I accepted a contract to be one of the authors to launch Crimson Romance, at the time, a new ebook (and POD) publisher. I’ve now gone through losing my editor in chief, losing my editor, and being sold to a Big 5 publisher. And I’ve also gotten my rights back and republished these from Cahoon to Lynn Collins which I’m self-publishing.

My Lynn Cahoon books are traditionally published with Kensington and are cozy mysteries.

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

Lynn: I started writing again during my divorce and did several MFA classes in fiction, non-fiction and publishing. It took me a while to commit to writing, but once I survived cancer, I was focused. And what you measure, gets done.

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

Lynn: Writing style – Stephen King, Robyn Carr, A good story well told.  😊

Publishing – Bob Mayer. He taught me to never take no for an answer and to repurpose our writing as much as possible. His books on writing are gold for anyone who wants to make writing their business.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Lynn: I’d always wanted to be an author, but didn’t see a ‘program’ in the college handbooks. So I put it on the back burner. When I was faced with a life-threatening disease, I needed to set some life goals. Writing was the one thing that kept coming up and I’m glad it did.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lynn: I started with romance although I tried a little bit of everything then I’d stop at chapter four and start something new. Finishing a book was a big step even though I haven’t attempted to sell that book at all.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lynn: Building new worlds. I really love setting up new communities. The characters have become my friends. I think about what they do in between the books.

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

Lynn: There was a girl on the bus when I was in school. She wrote stories, then illustrated the stories with pictures cut out of the teen magazines that we loved. I loved her stories. It was the first time I had known an author.

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

Lynn: It’s my story and I should make the decisions on what my characters are going to do.

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

Lynn: Top Secret Santa was a call out for an anthology. Writing a Santa mall story was fun and reminded me of home.

She needed the elf job. Then Santa walked out. Now, she has a line of screaming kids and no one to wear the suit or sit on the chair.

He was just trying to be a good Samaritan and return a lost gift card. And if he was lucky, get a pretty girl’s phone number. He’d been out of the dating world for a while. But playing Santa? That was extreme, even for an ex-Army Ranger.

If you love a good meet cute combined with a Christmas twist, Top Secret Santa is for you. Buy today and complete your Castle View romance series collection. Note: Top Secret Santa can be read as a standalone.

Excerpt:

~ Two strangers, each starting a new life, realize that visiting Santa really is about Christmas magic . . . ~

“Merry Christmas to me. Not.” Noelle North sat at her usual table at the Food Court by the fifties themed hamburger place where she ate most nights she worked. She’d finished her dinner, and now was going through the mail she’d grabbed out of the mailbox as she’d hurried to work a few hours ago. Fingering the gift card that had fallen out of her Christmas card from her parents, she stared at the card. The scene on the lime green card showed a beach scene with a reclining Santa in a swimsuit and an iced drink in his hand. Merry Christmas from Florida.

Her cell phone jangled, and she glanced at the display before she answered. Apparently, the envelope must have had an invisible tracker telling her parents when she’d opened the card. “Hey, Mom, how’s the new house?”

“Hot. Your dad’s working on getting the air conditioning set right. I think he’s just being a cheap skate. You sure you won’t fly down next week? We’d love to see you.” Her mom’s voice echoed over the phone line. “I’m setting up a taco bar and serving margaritas for Christmas Eve dinner.”

“I have interviews scheduled starting right after the first and through the next two weeks. Longer if it takes more time.” Noelle glanced down at the green and red elf hat on the table. And there was that little problem.

Buy links: Amazon

One of these days, I’m going to write a Christmas story but the inspiration hasn’t struck yet. Lynn’s story sounds like a fun, light-hearted romance perfect for the holidays. We need some love and light this year, don’t we?

Thanks for sharing, Lynn! And I hope many of you will grab a copy of Top Secret Santa today!

Happy reading and Happy Allhallows Eve!

Betty Bolte

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 Victoria Oliveri #author #historical #fiction #romance #novels

Can you believe we’re halfway through October already? As the holidays quickly approach, I’d like to introduce you to yet another author who has been writing all her life. Please help me welcome Victoria Oliveri! A quick peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her inspiration and stories.

International bestselling author, Victoria Oliveri, is a life-long researcher and re-enactor whose studies and travels have given her volumes of ideas for her historical novels. 

As a full-time author, she spends her days writing, editing, and researching when her pets are not nagging to be fed or paid attention to. She enjoys chatting with fellow authors for impromptu brainstorming and discussions of the craft, and when she has the time, she goes on the occasional road trip to refill her creative well.

Website * BookBub * Twitter * Pinterest

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Victoria: I’ve been writing since I was in grade school, much like many other authors. I began publishing in 2006, and to me that was when I became a real writer. Writing is one thing, having to deal with the business side of that demon is another. It really tests your courage and your ability to keep at it despite criticism and trying to drown out your own self-doubt.

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

Victoria: Many years. I was always involved in writing at school, majored in Journalism in college and held so many jobs where all that I’d learned was utilized.

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

Victoria: There are so many. Ursula le Guinn, Jane Austen, William Gibson, Jackie Collins… so many writers, so many genres.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Victoria: My inner voices. I was always a storyteller, it runs in my family, and writing is just a way to record it all.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Victoria: Short stories. As a kid I wrote picture books for my friends, as I got older, I wrote stories of teen girls with a love of horses and boys that don’t deserve them. I guess I haven’t grown out of that LOL

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Victoria: It has never been a love of genre for me, but the love of the character and the story. If you have passion for what you’re trying to say and a vivid imagination, it doesn’t matter what it is in my book, as long as you write about it. I’ve written historicals, science fiction, and now contemporary. I love it all.

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

Victoria: Mentors, great teachers and lots of reading. Growing up I had a handful of great teachers who let me express myself as often as I was able. I was in a few special creative classes and AP English. There are a lot of craft books and how-to books out there, but in my opinion, you have to learn the basics before you go looking for help. Read a lot. Read the genres you want to write. Make note of how the author builds characters and scenes. Believe it or not, all my years of playing Dungeons and Dragons in the 80s taught me a ton about world building, some of which I still use to this day. You can learn from everything around you. Listen to conversations and the cadence in people’s voice to figure out how to do dialogue. Watch an action movie and try to describe what you’re seeing to learn to write action scenes. You have to find your own voice that way.

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

Victoria: Nothing. Honestly, when I started into the publishing world it was before the internet blew up and all we had was email. Manuscripts had to be printed and mailed to publishers in boxes. Everything I knew then is completely antiquated now, and I had to learn and relearn things over the years as the industry has changed. One thing I will say to people who don’t like social media or technology… suck it up or choose another occupation. Both are intrinsically tied to what we do. And start your mailing list early. Even if you don’t have a book out, get the word out, get your readers interested because they will be the only thing to sustain you.

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

Victoria: Again, so many. Ursula le Guinn has always been a favorite. She pushed boundaries and everything she wrote was so thought-provoking, got people talking. When I write, I don’t want my readers to say “Oh, her heroes are hot”, I’d want them to say “I’m still thinking about that emotion she churned up in me” months after they read the book.

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

Victoria: History has always inspired me, which is why I love to write historical romance. I started to write this book during a snowstorm, sitting at my desk watching the world get buried in white outside my window. For me it was easy to imagine things transpiring and how the outcome would be affected by not only the elements, but the characters emotions and decisions. It’s the main reason I look forward to writing every day. I’m a reader just like everyone who picks up my books. As I write, I want to see what happens too. 😊

A determined Governess who needs to support her family, an eager gentleman who is moving blindly through his life, and love like the blizzard that blindsides them both.

Excerpt:

“So, you’ve been in love before to know this?” he asked, reaching for his own cup and taking a sip.

“No, I haven’t,” she said, suddenly looking away.

“Then how would you know how one would feel if you’ve never felt it yourself?”

“It is obvious. Have you never seen two people in love before?  It is as if the world starts and ends between them.”

“That type of love is fleeting. For newlywed couples the look of love follows them everywhere for the first few months, but it subsides eventually.”

“That is not true. My parents were deeply in love until the day my mother passed. So, I have seen it,” Arabella bit out.

“Then your parents are very lucky to have found one another because that sort of long lasting attraction is very rare, and I am sorry to inform you that the real world is not like that so you will be forever searching for something that simply does not exist.”

“I did not know you were such a pessimist,” she said with a grimace. “Of all your brothers, I thought you were the romantic one with a heart.”

That remark hit him sideways and his eyes darted to hers as he quirked his head.

“You think I have no heart because I do not believe in love as it is written in novels?  That’s the most absurd thing you’ve said yet,” he said with a laugh

Buy links: Books2Read

There’s something about being snowed in that gets people to talking and opening up, isn’t there? This story sounds intriguing. I hope many will pick up a copy to read and enjoy. Thanks for sharing!

Betty Bolte

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 M.L. Broome #author #steamy #contemporary #romance #fiction #books

Please help me welcome M.L. Broome to the interview hot seat! Let’s find out more about her and then get right to the interview and her intriguing book.

M.L. Broome is a bohemian spirit with a New York edge. She writes high-octane contemporary romance with a touch of angst and plenty of steamy goodness. Her characters are bitingly real, earning their happily-ever-after only after some emotional ass-kicking and personal growth.

When M.L. isn’t writing or holding one-sided arguments with her characters (spoiler alert—they always win), she loves losing herself in nature on her North Carolina farm, one of her rescue buddies by her side.

She adores dressing up and kicking back, a glass of whiskey with an equally stunning view, and experiences that make the soul—and senses—tingle.

For all the latest releases and exclusive goodies, subscribe to M.L. Broome’s newsletter today at https://www.mlbroome.com.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * BookBub

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

M.L.: I think it’s an extension of a lonely childhood. Seriously! I was an only child, and my parents were fairly hands-off, so I was left to my own devices. During those evenings, I created countless kingdoms and characters—something I still do today. For me, there’s nothing like falling into a world of my own creation. What a great escape, when the real world is often ugly and hard.

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

M.L.: There is so much that I’ve learned in the last fifteen months, and every day, I’m learning more about the industry. Here are my biggest pieces of advice:

  • ●       Write what you want to read. Yes, there are a ton of trends and you can write to market and have great success, but if you aren’t passionate about what you’re writing, the readers won’t be, either.
  • ●       Follow your gut. If something seems off, be it a person or company, it likely is. Do your research and never be afraid to part paths with someone who no longer has your best interests at heart.
  • ●       Learn self-promotion. I suck at it, but I’m learning it’s vital to stand out in a saturated market.

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

M.L.: True events. Alchemy Unfolding is a reverse age-gap, and I lived it. Now, the story is not an autobiography, but it gives an up-close view of dating a younger man in a society that is still only grudgingly accepting of the fact. I also wanted to write about a nice guy. I’ve read countless stories where the hero is a total jerk! I wanted a romance where the hero was such a decent human being, not perfect, but perfect book boyfriend material.

Addy has her life all planned out—until she walks in on her long-term boyfriend shagging his secretary. Life plans? Right out the window.

It doesn’t matter that she isn’t in love with Clint. They had goals and a non-refundable deposit on an upwardly mobile condo.

Now, she has a choice—forgive the adulterous liar—or not. She chooses not. Throwing caution to the wind, she accepts a nursing job in San Diego, thousands of miles from her life in Manhattan.

Addy’s on a new coast, and for the first time in her life, without a plan. Her only goal is to work and soak up the fun in southern California, which is precisely what she’s doing when she stumbles across Josh’s path.

Josh is that rarest of combinations—gorgeous, kind, and utterly besotted with Addy.

Only issue? He’s thirteen years younger, and that’s a chasm Addy isn’t sure she can cross.

Throw in a jealous friend hellbent on calling her Mrs. Robinson and the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend, begging for a second chance, and Addy isn’t sure which end is up.

She has to choose—continue living her life according to the rules or toss out the rule book and create a new version of her life.

Excerpt:

Josh shrugs, grabbing his keys from the table. “You can go willingly, or I can turn you over my knee. Your choice.”

I’m obviously still drunk. And hearing things. “Are you threatening to spank me?”

Josh leans in, his lips centimeters from mine. “Not at all, Addy. It isn’t a threat. It’s a promise.”

My new friend just threatened to spank me, and I hate how tempting that idea sounds.

With a grumble, I plop into the chair, throwing on my sneakers. “I don’t really think I’m up for a spanking right now.” If he’s going to force me to trek with him up a mountain, I don’t want him to think I’m drooling over him. No matter how little he believes me.

As per usual, the man is one step ahead of me in our verbal spar. “Too bad. Maybe later, you’ll be in the mood.”

Buy link: Amazon

Love the banter between them, M.L.! Sounds like a fun read!

Thanks for sharing and happy reading!

Betty Bolte

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 Kathleen Williams Renk #author #professor #fiction #nonfiction #historical

Please help me welcome historical fiction author Kathleen Williams Renk to the interview chair today! Let’s peek at her bio and then we’ll get right to the good part…

A retired professor who has published creative nonfiction, short stories, and scholarly books and articles, Kathleen Williams Renk taught British and Women’s literature for nearly three decades in the U.S. and abroad.  While teaching at Northern Illinois University, Williams Renk spent three summers in Oxford, U.K. teaching in the NIU@ Oriel College, Oxford study abroad program and five summers teaching in Dublin at Trinity College through the NIU Media and Culture in Ireland study abroad program.

She’s long been fascinated by the origins of feminist philosophy and its connections to the Enlightenment and the Romantics. Vindicated is her first novel. She is currently writing a historical fiction novel entitled “In an Artist’s Studio” about the Victorian poet Christina Rossetti and her sister-in-law, the painter and poet Lizzie Siddal. Dr. Renk studied fiction writing at the University of Iowa with the Pulitzer-Prize winning author James Alan MacPherson.  She’s published fiction in Literary Yard, CC & D Magazine, and nonfiction in Page and Spine, and Iowa City Magazine; she also self-published a memoir, Orphan Annie’s Sister, about her mother’s childhood in a Bohemian Orphanage in the 1930s.

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Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Kathleen: I’ve been a writer since I started graduate school in English at the University of Iowa in 1986.  During most of my academic career, I published scholarly articles and books.  I’ve only recently returned to writing fiction, which I did when I was in the Master’s program in English at Iowa.  Once I started and completed the doctoral program, I no longer had time to write fiction.

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

Kathleen: My first journal article appeared in 1994, so about eight years.   

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

Kathleen: I studied, wrote about, and taught British, Postcolonial, and Women’s literatures, so I’d say the most influential authors for me are A.S. Byatt, Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, Jean Rhys, Pauline Melville, and Emma Donoghue.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

Kathleen: If you mean writing fiction, I decided to return to it once I was retired and no longer was required to write scholarly books and articles, although I am publishing a new scholarly book with Palgrave Macmillan in August 2020, entitled, Women Writing the Neo-Victorian Novel: Erotic “Victorians.”

Betty: What type of writing did you start with? 

Kathleen: In terms of creative writing, I began with fiction, but also wrote creative non-fiction.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Kathleen: I love writing historical fiction, because it allows me to still conduct research but then use the research to create a narrative and characters and to imagine “what if” stories.

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

Kathleen: I studied fiction writing at the University of Iowa with James Alan McPherson.  The most important writing activity though is to keep writing and reading.  You hone the craft by continual revision and never giving up on trying to publish.

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

Kathleen: I had no idea how much you discover in writing anything, whether it’s an argumentative essay or a piece of fiction.  That was and still is a pleasant surprise.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?  Most recently, I’ve been fascinated by Emma Donoghue’s work,  especially her The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits, a collection of short stories based on real, sometimes historical women in Britain, Ireland, and Scotland from the Middle Ages until contemporary times.  It’s akin to a history of women and the challenges that they faced and the obstacles they overcame.  She says that the stories are based on “scraps of history” and I like that idea. 

Donoghue’s work has prompted me to write novels about little known women who had an impact on the arts or history.

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

Kathleen: Ever since I read William Godwin’s memoir of his wife Mary Wollstonecraft, I’ve thought about the odd circumstances of her death in 1797 and how the physicians attempted to remove the retained placenta, which killed Wollstonecraft 11 days after she gave birth to Mary Shelley.  Initially, I wrote about Mary Wollstonecraft’s final days in her voice and in her husband’s but then developed a complete novel about Mary Shelley and the ways in which her feminist mother influenced her.

Mary Godwin is a teenager with a formidable pedigree.  Both of her parents are philosophers but it is Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother she never met, who haunts her waking and dreaming worlds.  Reading about her mother’s life and death inspires Mary to keep a journal.  Just as the tumult of her parents’ relationship comes alive in her imagination, she meets emerging poet Percy Shelley.  Even though he is married and his wife is pregnant, Shelley threatens to kill himself if Mary will not elope with him.  It’s possible that Shelley is mad, but their intellectual and creative affinities convince her that she is his Child of Light.

Passionate and intellectual, Mary struggles with the demands of her volatile husband and their circle of friends, including her stepsister Claire and George Gordon, Lord Byron.  But as she writes Frankenstein, she also muses about her encounters with her creature and the philosophical questions of life, death, and the creation that undergird her novel.  Justifying their unconventional life and enduring personal tragedies, Mary follows in her mother’s footsteps, as she contemplates a woman’s place in literature and the world.

Excerpt:

31 August 1797

I hear them murmur, “Bring in the pups to suckle. Perhaps that will loosen the afterbirth.” I want to shout “No!  Bring me my baby,” but my tongue is tied. I am hot and thirsty, but no one offers me water. “Please,” I beg them in my mind. And then nothing. I drift out of my body. I search for my daughter.

Even though we have prestigious surgeons in attendance, I begin to think that these surgeons are fools. One wears his powdered wig askew, looking like a pantaloon. I inquire what their objective is in healing my dear wife Mary, and all they say is that they need to remove the remainder of the afterbirth, which is stuck. They think that bringing pups to suck on my wife’s breasts may make her womb contract sufficiently to release the last bits of the placenta, and thus cure her of her fever and blood poisoning. I watch incredulously as they try to coax the pups to nurse on the human teat. If Mary were truly here in full force, if she were cognizant, she would be appalled and would be calling the surgeons out for their ludicrous plan. I feel such shock in seeing my brilliant wife so lethargic and ill that I suffer mental paralysis in regard to the correct course of action. I try to believe that the surgeons possess reason and logic and know precisely what they are doing. I must have faith in their abilities and knowledge. Surely they have seen other such cases and understand the remedy.

Buy links: Amazon * Cuidono * B&N

I’ve studied Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, so this one sounds very interesting to me. Thanks for sharing about your inspiration and your story, Kathleen.

Happy reading!

Betty Bolte

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 Mark Turnbull #Author #Historical #Fiction #British #CivilWar #Historian

Please help me welcome to the interview hot seat a fellow Historical Novel Society author, Mark Turnbull! A quick peek at his bio and then we’ll dive right into the questions. Ready? Let’s go!

After a visit to Helmsley Castle at the age of 10, Mark Turnbull bought a pack of ‘top trump’ cards featuring the monarchs of England. The card portraying King Charles I fascinated him.

Van Dyck’s regal portrait of the King and the fact that he was executed by his own people were the beginnings of Mark’s passionate interest in the English Civil War that has lasted ever since.

In the absence of time travel, he thoroughly enjoys bringing this period to life through writing. He has written articles for magazines, newspapers and online educational sites. He has also re-enacted battles with The Sealed Knot and for several years edited the Historical Novel Society’s online newsletter.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Mark: I finally published my first book, a historical novel, in 2019. In 2020, I have been lucky enough to sign a contract with Sharpe Books for a series of novellas and have started writing the first. Between my novel and the contract for the novellas, I also completed a non-fiction book and am currently searching for a publisher for that one.

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

Mark: 33 years, but not continuously! I guess you could say that I started to write when I was around 7 years old and I still have a copy of some handwritten short tales that I penned about a children’s television show I used to watch. My plot and grammar left a lot to be desired, but that was my first stab at writing! What really gave me the desire to seriously attempt to become an author was my fascination with the War of the Three Kingdoms (more commonly known as British Civil War or English Civil War) which I discovered at the age of 10. I first started writing a novel set in this era ten years later and continued writing and editing, and then repeating this process. It was a long road and a steep learning curve, but I kept at it. I then began to exchange chapters with one of my friends who had also started working on a book and expanded my own scope by also writing articles about the civil war. The key, I found, was to keep on writing and reflecting. I started afresh with my novel and began rewriting it in 2009, after ten years of working on my writing skills, and between getting married and having two wonderful daughters, I continued as much as I could. In 2019, I decided to self-publish my finished novel and was extremely pleased and encouraged when it received two awards; The Coffee Pot Book Club Award and Chill With a Book Readers Award.

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

Mark: Many authors have influenced my writing style over the years, but the main one would have to be my good friend, Keith Crawford, who has written a historical fantasy, as well as a Roman novel. For over ten years we held a weekly book club and read each other’s chapters to develop our writing. In the early days, we would adapt a mutual approach towards certain aspects such as scene setting, and then looked at our dialogues, before finally sifting out the clutter; basically, anything that was not needed, or just didn’t further each of our books. We certainly scrutinised every inch of our manuscripts. By writing, editing, writing more, and then further extensive editing, we began to find our own paths and styles. He would read many varied authors in between, such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Ken Follett, and mirror aspects of their style which he appreciated. One of the books that I read was Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost, and I enjoyed how scenes were vividly brought to life, as well as the way he injected humour into his story. I did limit the number of books I read so as not to skew the natural development of my own style and came out of the other end of these book clubs having realised just how personal writing style is – very much a journey of discovery! This prompted me to begin writing my book afresh and to make sure that my head and my heart was part of every chapter. If I couldn’t see it, feel it, and be part of it, then my style would be wooden. Something clicked for me in this rewrite; I felt as if my writing started to flow more naturally and my style came along with that.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Mark: The answer is quite simply discovering my passion for the 17th century, Wars of the Three Kingdoms, at the age of 10.  That very quickly instilled in me a desire to one day write about it!

I’d always had a love of history, but the British Civil War spark came when my parents took me to Helmsley Castle, North Yorkshire. Like most children, I couldn’t wait to explore the gift shop and bought a pack of cards that displayed images of the monarchs of England on one side, and some details about their lives and reigns on the other. I must admit that some of the earlier ones with their grey tombstone effigies were rather dull, but above all others, the card of King Charles I stood out. The image was Van Dyck’s Charles I at the Hunt and I was immediately struck by Charles himself, the artistry, clothing and colours. When I read about his reign and found out that he had been executed that really did spur me on to find out more. It was like a historical whodunnit and I was eager to discover how this had come about. The more I learned about the history, the more I wanted to be involved with it and write my own book.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Mark: I started by writing a novel. In essence, this developed over the time into Allegiance of Blood, which I published in 2019, 20 years later. The 17th century and the civil wars in England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland form the topic for all my writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. It’s a very overlooked period of history, but one which was absolutely pivotal and includes momentous events and drama galore. It surprises me that there are only a few films set in the civil wars, and not more novels about it. Perhaps being neighbours in history to the popular Tudors is one reason.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Mark: I must admit to a preference for reading non-fiction but writing fiction. I enjoy learning from a good non-fiction, and then taking the facts and creating a world which I can visualise and become part of, as well as being able to get up close to the characters of the era and further appreciate what made them tick. It’s as close as I can get to time travel. It’s great to be able to recreate a bygone world that other people can also enjoy, and to keep the history and characters of the past alive in this way. I do like writing short stories, and during research for my books, whenever I come across an event which deserves to be further explored, I write a short story about it based on the historical facts. I’d one day like to publish all of these within one book to further allow study and enjoyment of the wars. Additionally, I have written a non-fiction which examines the opening of the civil wars in every region of England and Wales. Writing non-fiction was very different, but equally enjoyable.

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

Mark: Apart from the book clubs already mentioned, I have attended the Historical Novel Society’s conferences, where established authors discuss the various aspects of writing with delegates in mini working sessions. Hearing their views and tips was priceless. Many years ago, when I had only just started writing, a few of us set up our own postal book club, where we would mail each other chapters. This meant that our work would gain feedback from three very different readers before returning to us and this was all vital and very helpful with learning to write and gaining critique that was essential to my development.

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

Mark: What a great question! There’s so much I could put here, but I think the main thing would be knowing what I would need to do to be able to write and publish a book. It is daunting not knowing where to start, or where to go to next, so maybe a plan of approach would have helped guide me in the right direction. The other thing would be knowing that it would be ok in the end!

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

Mark: The first non-fiction civil war book I bought was Christopher Hibbert’s Cavaliers and Roundheads. It is a superb book, because the style is very informative, yet it also gives personal snippets and anecdotes, which helped me relate to the history and imagine it. For me, it’s these small, very personal facts, that often bring an entire battle, campaign or era to life and Cavaliers and Roundheads was a book I read many times. At the end, there are mini biographies of the main personalities which explained what happened to them in later life and this showed me just how much more there was to learn about the civil wars and beyond.

The first fiction I came across was at a church jumble sale. Margaret Irwin’s novel, Royal Flush, is the story of Minette, King Charles I’s youngest daughter. The whole style of the novel drew me quickly into that world and helped me begin to understand descriptive writing and storytelling as well as fuelling my growing interest in attempting a book of my own. Of course, it’s now an aged novel of a different style to those available today.

I’m also inspired by all of the other 17th century authors, and especially Andrea Zuvich (‘The Seventeenth Century Lady’) who brings the period to life through her weekly social media themed ‘Stuarts Saturdays’ which generate interest and discussion. Andrea’s latest book, Sex and Sexuality in Stuart Britain, has just had a fabulous review by Deborah Swift, an author who she had admired even when she was still dreaming of writing her own book. Inspiring, indeed!

Sir Francis Berkeley strives to protect his family from the English Civil War. Aside from the struggle between King and Parliament, the allegiances of family, friendship and honour prove just as deadly. Francis is drawn into a 17th century world of espionage and politics and fights in some of the war’s major sieges and battles. His bid to reunite his family opens up conflicts of a more personal nature. Can the Berkeley’s survive a parliamentarian onslaught as well as their own feud?

Excerpt:

She’d cried enough tears to fill the German Ocean and after her second attempt at crossing it, Henrietta Maria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, had finally made it home after a year’s absence. The anchor of her ship splashed into Bridlington Bay on the Yorkshire coast, despite bleak forecasts in both weather and horoscope. But never once was she put off by anything, especially when she had set her mind to it, and more so, when it meant being reunited with her husband.

With quick steps she danced across the deck of the Dutch flagship and ran to the rail to examine every inch of the English landscape. Beneath the scrubbed planking were arms, ammunition, money and men that she had brought all the way from Holland to aid her husband. One year of scrimping, saving and bartering, as well as anxiety and frustration during her war waged against Dutch officials and their government, who were not best pleased at her presence in their midst.

“May you scatter my enemies, Oh Lord, and be both my guide and safeguard.” She fired one of her renowned scowls westward, where in the expanse of ocean her Parliamentarian pursuers lurked.

“Your Majesty.” The Dutch Admiral Van Tromp gave a sigh of one ready and willing to hand a particularly petulant and demanding child back to its parents.

“My thanks for your good care of my person.” Henrietta usually spoke her mind, but in this, the hour of her victory, she put her true feelings aside.

Buy links: Amazon

Thanks so much for sharing your book with us today, Mark! It sounds like quite an interesting tale worth reading. Best of luck with it!

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Megan Kelly #author #contemporary #western #romance #amreading #fiction #books

Today I’d like to introduce you all to another fellow RWA member. Megan Kelly has been writing long enough to feel comfortable as an author. But let’s let her tell you more. Here’s her official bio and then we’ll dip into the questions.

Megan Kelly writes heart-warming contemporary romance set in small towns. After selling four books to Harlequin, she ventured into self-publishing. Her “Love in Little Tree” series celebrates Montana cowboys, while her other romances are set in fictional Midwest towns. Quirky secondary characters often steal the spotlight, but romance is always center stage. Fortunately, she has a very supportive husband and two kids who don’t remember a time when Mom didn’t write. She lives in the St. Louis area, where the weather has an imagination (and sense of humor) of its own.

You can sign up for her Readers’ Group newsletter on her website page at megankellybooks.com.

Website * Facebook

 Betty: When did you become a writer?

Megan: Every day when I sit down to write I’m a different, hopefully evolving writer. I’ve been a storyteller since childhood. My Barbie and GI Joe had many romance adventures dreamed up in my eight-year-old mind. LOL But I first *felt* like a writer when I finished a full manuscript—and it was something I’d want to read.

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

Megan: I learned so much from being a member of Romance Writers of America. I had submitted several manuscripts and entered many contests as well as attending workshops and joining a critique group. It took thirteen years between taking my writing seriously (a key step) to getting THE CALL that Harlequin wanted to publish my book. RWA allowed me access to business as well as craft workshops, so when THE CALL came, I was ready!

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

Megan: I loved the emotional, sweeping historicals of Laura Kinsale and Kathleen Woodiwiss. Carole Mortimer, Betty Neels, Kathleen Korbel, and Nora Roberts introduced me to contemporaries. I love the humor of Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Kristan Higgins.

Everything I read influences my writing, whether it inspires me to entertain like the authors mentioned, or it serves as a cautionary tale when I read something not well written or a story not well told.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Megan: I had read a lot of “old” books from the 1980s where the hero was a pig and the heroine a doormat. This didn’t mesh with how I viewed romance. At the end of the book, the hero almost always said, “I’ve loved you since I met you,” and I would go back to look for any hint of that in his words or actions. I knew I could write a better ending (where he’d grovel a lot). Then I decided I could write a better book (where he wouldn’t need to and where she wouldn’t have put up with that).

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Megan: I have old notebooks with opening scenes of contemporary romances that never went anywhere. I recently found lots of (very bad) rhyming poetry. I’ve always been drawn to mystery and romance, so I started writing contemporary romance for the reasons noted above.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Megan: I used to primarily read historical romances because I found the eras and events fascinating. Very much an alien world I wouldn’t want to have lived in (no a/c, no electricity, no microwaves—pretty much in that order). However even then, I wanted to write contemporary romance because it’s harder to navigate a relationship with ever evolving societal rules. *In general,* male and female roles were clearly stated in the past. During the 1960s, women stepped out from behind men, changing both gender’s roles. Note: my books focus on the male/female relationship, but I acknowledge there are diverse romance possibilities.

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

Megan: I truly feel I learned first by reading. The “old” books mentioned above were quality writing and publishing. When I learned of the local RWA chapter in St. Louis, I absorbed every workshop program they held. I attended other chapters’ conferences and their workshops as well as RWA National’s conference. I forced my way through Dwight Swain’s “Techniques of the Selling Writer,” which is great but heavy with knowledge. Most importantly to my writing, for many years, I would re-read Debra Dixon’s “Goal, Motivation, and Conflict” before I started a new manuscript.

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

Megan: I wish I’d known how much of my essence was being a writer. That I hadn’t doubted I could do it and held myself back. While I still have that pesky internal editor making me doubt every word I write, I no longer doubt that I’m supposed to be a writer.

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

Megan: I love Kathleen Korbel’s romances. She is also known to us as Eileen Dreyer, writer of suspense and historical romance. If you haven’t read “A Rose for Maggie,” rush to your bookseller and buy it. I started reading romances as a teenager, and her hero, Joe, is still my favorite. Then the writers I’ve mentioned by name, plus any writer who sweeps me away.

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

Megan: I was sitting in a writing workshop, mind wandering. Two sisters popped into my head. One a bride, one her twin who had feelings for the sister’s fiancée. The bride tricks her sister into the wedding dress and then rushes out of the church. Then the workshop ended. So I had to write the story to find out what happened.

LEFT IN THE LURCH…
Rancher Jack Walker eagerly anticipates marrying the quiet, lovely artist who has agreed to be his wife and stepmother to his six-year-old daughter. Their union will mirror the peace and security of his previous marriage.

AT THE CHURCH
Veterinarian Lexi Marshall is tricked into her twin sister’s wedding dress minutes before the bride disappears out the back door. Now Lexi must tell Jack there is no wedding. But instead of “guess what?” she says, “I do?”

ACCIDENTALLY MARRIED
Covering for her sister by marrying Jack is a big mistake. But even Lexi’s confession can’t untangle the mess after she learns he could lose his ranch if they divorce.

Legal problems aside, how will they handle the attraction simmering between them? 

Excerpt:

Lexi stared at the beautiful wedding dress her twin sister held toward her. Lovely satin shimmered and beckoned, and pearls gleamed in the light of the church’s dressing room. Their mother’s veil lay on top, luring her closer with its lace and pearls.

“Go ahead,” Grace said. “Try it on.”

Lexi shook her head in denial of the gown’s promises. “I know what I’d look like. I’ve seen you in it.”

“It’s not just how it looks. A wedding dress feels different than any ordinary gown you’ve ever worn.” Grace arched a brow. “Although no one would say you wear many dresses, let alone gowns.”

A grin crossed Lexi’s face. Grace traveled the world painting, gaining renown for her outdoor scenes and use of color and texture. Lexi’s work as a vet kept her happy with her life in eastern Montana. As the crow flew, Little Tree lay three hours northeast of Billings, but it felt like a world away from everywhere.

“There’s no time,” Lexi protested.

Grace grabbed her purse and pulled out the watch Jack had given her for an engagement present. He’d hoped to curb Grace’s lack of regard for schedules. She glanced at it, sobered for a moment, then turned to Lexi. “There’s just enough time. Besides, if we run late, they’ll wait for the bride, right? Come on, sis, share this moment with me.”

Buy link:  Amazon

I love how the inspiration for this story came while in a workshop, Megan! Workshops can prompt a lot of good ideas and this one sounds like a great premise for your story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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