Getting to know Julia O. Greene #Author #Fiction #Fantasy #Speculative #Contemporary #Romance

Today’s guest author hails from the Midwest and brings a fresh perspective to her stories. Please help me welcome Julia O. Greene to the interview hot seat! Take a peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her.

Julia O. Greene is a pen name for Susan Stradiotto who is typically a fantasy and speculative fiction author. As the material she writes doesn’t serve the romance audience, she decided to pay tribute to her grandmother in her contemporary fiction. Susan lives in Eden Prairie, Minnesota with her husband, three children, and a crazy Bernese Mountain Dog named Delaunay. Stories of all kinds are her passion, and she has always been a voracious reader, lover of worlds, and hoarder of books. Her infatuation with well-developed characters sometimes rivals relationships with real people.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Julia: I’ve been a writer all my life but became serious about writing as a career in 2017.

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

Julia: This is a hard question to answer because I’ve been passionate about reading and writing ever since I can recall. But if pressed to say when I started honing the skill, I’d go with 2017.

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

Julia: There are several from different genres.

  • From women’s fiction, Lianne Moriarty.
  • From paranormal romance, J.R. Ward.
  • From fantasy: Jacqueline Carey and N.K. Jemesin.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Julia: In the eleventh grade, my English teacher challenged us to go all out on a creative writing assignment, and I believe that’s what started my love of storytelling.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Julia: Fantasy with tons of worldbuilding. My real inspiration here was a trip I took to Italy and Greece.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Julia: Fantasy and Romance, or really anything with a happy ending. While I adore conflict in fiction, I want the resolution to be good for my main characters. This life is so short, I really feel people need to seek out their happiness.

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

Julia: I’d have to say, “The Brute-Force Method.” I wrote, looked for feedback, researched the feedback I received, purchased craft books, and wrote some more. I learn every time I receive an edit back or feedback from a critique. Ongoing honing and learning are something that really jazzes me up about the process of writing.

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

Julia: The timeline for getting a book to market and what it means to adequately market a book. I’ve learned a ton since I published my first book in 2018, and it’s getting more and more fluid. I actually took a year off from publishing just to build a backlog of content so that I can continue writing while publishing and not lose that momentum.

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

Julia: The favorites I mentioned above plus Stephanie Meyer. I wrote a fan fiction about Alice and Jasper after reading the Twilight series. That, however, will never see the light of day.

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

Julia: When I wrote An Orchid Falls, it was inspired by a friend who actually went through a divorce. My aim was to give her the happy ending she deserved, even if it was in a fictional form.

Divorced. Single Mother.

Words that Calli never imagined she’d use to describe herself, but today, she would sign those fateful papers and bring the words to life—her life. Her career is going well enough. With the financial arrangements in the decree, she’d be able to maintain a solid middle-class status. Her plans for the future are set…keep on keeping on. Maybe one day, her mother could accept her divorce. Maybe one day she’d be comfortable alone. Maybe one day, her life would turn out how it was supposed to be with Bennett. But for today, she’d go to happy hour and celebrate her freedom with her friends.

The variable Calli’s calculations don’t include: restaurateur, Dominic Moretti.

Food. Fitness.

The two pleasures in life that Dom thrives upon. Moretti’s, his first love, his upscale flagship restaurant in Minneapolis, has grown to one of the most in-demand venues in the Twin Cities. When he isn’t traveling for business, he enjoys overseeing the floor as his alter-ego: restaurant manager, Nic Moore. In his other foodie ventures, he operates as the better-known Dom of The Dinner Shark on Food Network. All work and very little play keep his accounts bulging at the seams, and he thoroughly enjoys a city-boy bachelor’s lifestyle.

The secret ingredient he has yet to factor into his perfect recipe: Callista Lindley.

Excerpt:

Not stepping out of his arms, she turned her head and looked up at him with her big, deep browns—eyes he could lose himself in for hours if it weren’t for the pull of her lips. He leaned in and kissed her softly. “Merry Christmas.”

Buon Natale,” answered Calli.

Dom raised a brow. “Joyeux Nöel.”

Feliz Navidad.”

Fröhliche Weihnachten.”

Calli chewed the inside of her lip and looked around, searching with her eyes. A light went on. “Felicem natalem Christi.”

Dom dropped back his head and laughed. Coming back face-to-face, he asked, “Latin?”

“What can I say, four years in high school and two in college. Oh, I have one more. Feliz Natal.

“Ah, yes. Portuguese. I only know two more, so you almost had me. God jul?” He phrased as a question to see if she could guess.

She pressed her lips together and shook her head.

“Norwegian. Come on, living in Minnesota, you never learned that one?”

“Nope, sorry.”

“And . . . Glædelig Jul, Danish.”

“I guess you win.”

“But you have the romance languages, hands down. Speaking of . . . ” He brushed her hair away from her neck, inhaled her floral-vanilla scent, and kissed under her ear.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Indiebound

Sounds like a delightful story! I may be a bit biased since my cat’s name is Calli, short for Calliope though. Thanks for sharing with us, Julia!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Jenna Jaxon #author #historical #romance #HistoricalFiction #suspense #GetReading #Storytelling

My guest today shares several of my favorite things! She reads and writes historical romance/fiction, for one. See how many other similarities you see as we get to know Jenna Jaxon. Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll dive in.

Jenna Jaxon is a best-selling author of historical romance, writing in a variety of time periods because she believes that passion is timeless. She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager. A romantic herself, Jenna has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise. She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories.

She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets–including two vocal cats, one almost silent cat, a Sharpei-beagle mix (Sharp-eagle), and a very curious bunny.

When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre as a director. She often feels she is directing her characters on their own private stage.

Jenna equates her writing to an addiction to chocolate because once she starts she just can’t stop.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jenna: I have been a writer practically since I learned to write. In third grade I penned my first masterpiece, a story called Miss Priss Finds A Kitten. I’ve loved writing ever since and relished all my creative writing assignments in high school and college. But I started writing romance in 2009, after six months on a gluten-free diet gave me a huge boost of creativity. I finished a book by Kathleen Woodiwiss titled Everlasting, set in my favorite period—Medieval—closed the book, said aloud, “I could write something like that,” sat down and began to write the book that would become Time Enough to Love. I haven’t looked back since.

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

Jenna: I began writing in 2009 and my first short story was published in 2011, followed by my first novel in 2012. But I consider myself always learning how to better my writing. Of course, I’ve been honing my writing skills all throughout my school days, including a 400-page dissertation for my Ph.D., so the short answer is “a very long time.”

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

Jenna: Two authors have had a great influence on my writing style. The first was Kathleen Woodiwiss, whose books I devoured as soon as I began to write. The second was Jo Beverley, whose books I stumbled upon while reading an anthology of romance novellas that included a novella by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Ms. Beverley’s works (and I read them all as quickly as I could get them) showed me the depth and breadth of characters and made me fall in love with the Georgian period.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Jenna: Strangely enough, I began writing because I became gluten intolerant. Once I realized I had to go on a gluten free diet in the summer of 2008, I was diligent about it. Six months into the diet I felt a huge rush of energy and creativity. At the time I was teaching theater and had already directed a production in the fall semester. So I had no creative outlet for all this energy to flow into. Reading Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Everlasting (her final romance) prompted me to begin writing and the rest, as we say, is history.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jenna: I jumped right into writing historical romance (I was a history major in college, so that was rather easy to decide.).

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

Jenna: A Countess of Convenience is the first book of my new Captivating Countesses series. Each book of the series will feature a heroine who first appeared in book 3 of my House of Pleasure series, Only A Mistress Will Do. One of the major secondary characters of the book was Dora Harper, who was betrothed to the hero (but does not end up marrying him). So many people wanted Dora to have her own book, I started thinking about her story soon after Mistress was published. But there were several other women in the book whose stories begged to be told, so I came up with the series title, and began creating romances for each of the four heroines. The heroine of A Countess of Convenience is Judith Harper, Dora’s sister-in-law who we hear is ill and bed-ridden in Mistress (we don’t actually see her at all). But Judith whispered to me that she had a story to tell, so I listened, and she became one of my countesses. Dora’s story will be the next in the series, the romance titled Almost A Countess.

Following a tragic accident, an unconscious Judith Harper is returned to her childhood home only to awaken to a horribly changed world: her husband is dead and her child has been given to her in-laws to raise.

As Judith regains her strength, she makes plans to reclaim her child, but to her dismay, the law of the land might not grant her guardianship unless she can show herself to be the better choice, which means she may need to marry again and quickly. Not only is Judith not ready for another husband, but she is newly widowed and will be part of a scandal should she wed before her year of mourning is up.

Still, if she hopes to have her daughter with her once more, she will have to make a marriage of convenience, but to whom?

John, Lord Haxby has loved Judith since childhood, and because of that he let her marry another eight years ago. Now she is free of her odious husband, he hopes he can persuade her that he is the only man who can make her truly happy. However, he discovers Judith is more than interested in Lord Fitzhugh, the man who saved her life. Can he stand aside once more and watch the love of his life make a grave mistake, or will he step up and show the woman he loves he is not a convenient solution to her problem, but the perfect solution?

Excerpt:

“Why have you come here?”

“To apologize to you, John.”

“Apologize for what, my dear?”

“For teasing you earlier.”

Of all the things that might’ve come from her lips, those words were the last ones he’d have imagined. “Teasing me?”

“When I asked if there was something I could do for you.” Her voice had dropped so he could scarcely hear her.

“Ah.” As if the fire suddenly blazed anew, sweat popped out on John’s brow and his cock surged forward as if eager to answer the question. “I believe I take your meaning. Think nothing of it, my dear.”

By God, he wished he could think of anything else.

“But I shouldn’t have flirted like that, John.” She stared directly into his eyes. “We have already discussed the…possible necessity of our marrying. In asking that, I may have given you an erroneous idea about my…feelings for you.” Abruptly, she dropped her gaze.

Of course, he’d assumed she’d meant an amorous tryst but had known the offer had come from her nervousness or a need for some kind of physical contact. But since she’d brought the subject up… “Then why did you ask, Judith?”

Her tiny gasp filled him with his usual protective instincts, and it was on the tip of his tongue to tell her not to worry, it was all forgotten. Yet something held him back, some part of him that wanted desperately to hear her answer.

“Because I wanted to know what it would be like to kiss you.”

Buy links: Amazon

It’s always intriguing to have an off-stage character start telling their story, so much so that you have to write the book. Thanks for sharing your book with us, Jenna!

Happy reading, folks!

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 Kedar Patankar #author #fiction #warfiction #historybuff #environmentalist #scriptwriter

I have a guest author today who is also a screenwriter. Please help me welcome Kedar Patankar all the way from India! Let’s take a look at his bio and then find out about his works.

Kedar Patankar is a writer of movie scripts (with one of them in pre-production right now, & another in the dialogue-writing stage), a web series, a novella, short stories & a blog.

Every month, he leads a team of enthusiasts (he calls the group ‘The Trash Talk’) to clean plastic trash from centuries-old forts. Every month, he also visits a remote village to teach ‘spoken English’ to about 40 kids to help them gain confidence & enhance their future prospects.

He has spent twenty years in the USA, obtained two master’s degrees from a top US university, worked in high-tech world of computer chips in Minneapolis and Silicon Valley, and now lives with his family in Pune, India.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Kedar: I have been playing with it since early 2000s. (movie scripts, story ideas, blog, etc.) but self-published my first novella in 2015.

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

Kedar: About 15 years.

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

Kedar: Known International Authors like John Grisham, Arthur Conan Doyle, along with a couple of Indian authors like Ranjit Desai and Inamdar.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

Kedar: My paternal and maternal grandfathers were great story-tellers.  I grew up reading and listening to a lot of stories.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Kedar: Started with light-hearted script about an arranged marriage followed by a script about an immigrant family in London.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why? 

Kedar: I like to write a variety of genres including drama, historical, comedy, etc.   I am most interested in creating unique worlds and unique characters which are relatable.

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

Kedar: Working in partnership with experienced writers helped. Also books like Story by Robert McKee are great sources.

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

Kedar: That it’s very difficult to get noticed since there are so many people out there able to self-publish.

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

Kedar: My grandfather who was in Indian Army told me these stories about soldiers posted at the border. That is the inspiration behind this novella.

March, 2011 – In the pine forest that marks the No Man’s Land along the volatile India-Pakistan border, leopards roam freely across enemy lines, instigating fear into a pair of rival soldiers who are each guarding an illegal post & trying desperately to follow the strict orders they’ve been given: Don’t shoot.


Lt. Sharma is a 25-year-old Indian rookie, fresh out of military training school & longing to return home; Captain Khan is a war-weary Pakistani veteran whose only desire is to be left alone with his thoughts. When the men are suddenly forced to acknowledge one another’s presence, their nerves begin to fray and their tempers fly high. Sharma & Khan launch into a fierce duel of wits and egos that can only end when one of them dies.

Buy links: AmazonUS * AmazonIN * Apple

McKee’s book is on my keeper shelf and I’m overdue to read it again to refresh my take on what he has to say. Thanks for the reminder, Kedar!

Happy spring and happy reading, everyone!

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 E.V. Svetova #author #YA #fantasy #mythical #mystery

I think you all will enjoy meeting my next guest! Please help me welcome E.V. Svetova! A quick peek at her background, which is fascinating by itself, and then we’ll get to find out more about her and her writing.

I was born in Moscow when it was the capital of a now extinct empire, and I had a chance to experience both the security and the subjugation of the totalitarian state. In retrospect, it was a winning combination of a happy childhood and a subversive youth. When the country I knew disintegrated like planet Krypton in front of my eyes, the shockwave of that explosion blew me across the world. I’ve landed on the island of Manhattan and have considered myself a New Yorker ever since.

These days, I live at the edge of the last natural forest on the island with my husband, a digital animator, sharing our old apartment with an ever-expanding library and a spoiled English bulldog.

I studied psychology as an undergrad and later received a Master’s in humanities from NYU. My creative nonfiction was published in a few literary magazines; a young adult fantasy https://evsvetova.com/books/print-in-the-snow. Print In The Snow won an IPPY gold medal; the manuscript http://evsvetova.com/books/over-the-hills-of-green, Over The Hills Of Green was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. I am a member of WFWA.

Website * Facebook * Instagram


Betty: When did you become a writer?

E.V.: I’ve been writing stories before I knew how to write. My first books were hand-drawn comics, and, for some reason, the pages turned right to left. I think I still have one of those little books.

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

I’m an eternal student. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but only became a published author in my late forties.

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

E.V.: I grew up with classical Greek mythology; folklore and fairytales have always been my prime fare. That informed my affinity for speculative fiction in general. As a teen, I’ve been force-fed the Russian and other European classics, and as a result I am a nerd snob. I love science fiction and fantasy, and I adore magical realism. My absolute favorite writers, besides some obvious Russian classics, are Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin and Gene Wolfe.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

E.V.: Well, those voices inside my head needed to be shut up somehow.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

E.V.: Probably some fairytales with me as the protagonist – I was a kid, so it’s forgivable.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

E.V.: I am absolutely fascinated with the way language works, the way it affects the reader, transforms us and transports us. It’s the ultimate magic to me.

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

E.V.: I don’t remember ever not taking a workshop, or a class, or not reading a craft book. I think, I’m like those people addicted to therapy, except my therapy is studying the literary process. Since I’m not a native English speaker, I always had to work a little harder. I was privileged to work with a true master, Jacob Miller, whose literary workshop I attended for years. Besides being an amazing teacher, he is a student of the Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky, so there is a deep cultural connection as well.

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

E.V.: I wish I was prepared to the degree of rejection one faces when entering the publishing world. It’s truly soul-crushing.

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

E.V.: If I read a book and feel inspired to write afterwards, that means it hasn’t awed me and feel I can do better. After reading my literary idols I feel like not wanting to write at all, that’s how simultaneously sated and discouraged they make me – because how can I ever dream of approaching their level? So, no, I don’t look for inspiration in other people’s work. Nature, visual arts, even film, but not books.

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

E.V.: This novel Over The Hills Of Green came to me when I had a high fever, laid up with a flu. The whole story just played before my eyes like a movie. The characters are from a story, Print In The Snow, that I wrote in my late teens in Russian and later translated into English, and it is a natural continuation of the earlier adventure.

Otherworldly and mundane collide when a young New York psychologist takes on a charismatic patient who may be delusional or may literally come from the Otherworld of her suppressed childhood nightmares.

Driven to solve the intriguing case, Anna Reilly tries to unwind the thread of John Doe’s story, but instead becomes entangled in an uncertain relationship that challenges her sexuality, sanity, and her very sense of reality. When he inexplicably disappears, Anna’s professional and personal life comes undone, leaving her unsure whether she is expanding her mind or losing it, and whether the androgynous John is a mystical guide or a psychopathic con artist. Finding him will either provide her with the keys to the mysteries of the universe or complete her break from reality.

OVER THE HILLS OF GREEN is the second book in The Green Hills series. The first award-winning book, PRINT IN THE SNOW, sets in motion the events that change young Anna’s life forever.

Excerpt:

Anna never had any more of the vivid dream-memories Yaret’s closeness had brought. The dreams she could recall were now mundane, easily traced to the sensory impressions of the previous day. In her waking hours, though, she kept seeing things, and not just the usual monsters in the dark. Every so often, an elm leaf, mottled like an inscribed parchment, would blow in from nowhere and lie at her feet in the middle of a busy intersection; a shadow made by a torn wire fence of a construction site would create a geometric, almost runic pattern in the dust; a seagull, too far away from the shore, would leave lines of wet scribble-like tracks on the polished granite cornice of the hotel down the street. In moments like those, it seemed to Anna all she needed was to see with true sight, and she could read the messages the universe was sending her. Of course, Anna rationalized that is was no more than her human brain utilizing its natural acumen at pattern-discernment, yet, sometimes, she would take off her glasses, and the cityscape, reflected in her nearsighted eyes as a painting in broad careless strokes, was rich with meaning so profound it didn’t require interpretation.

Buy links: Books2Read

Thanks so much, E.V., for sharing that story with us. Anna’s mundane dreams sound like most of mine, although I have had a few, um, interesting ones of late.

I hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Suanne Schafer #author #womensfiction #historicalfiction

Life experiences can inform an author’s work in many different ways. Today’s guest author has used hers as well. Please help me welcome Suanne Schafer! Let’s find out about her background and then move right into the interview.

Suanne Schafer was born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War. Now a retired family-practice physician whose only child has fledged the nest, her world travels and pioneer ancestors fuel her imagination and her writing. Originally, she’d planned to pen romances, but either as a consequence of a series of failed relationships or a genetic distrust of happily-ever-after, her heroines are strong women who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them.

Suanne’s short works have been featured in multiple magazines, literary journals, and anthologies. She has two published novels with a third on the way. A Different Kind of Fire explores the life of a nineteenth century bisexual artist living in West Texas while Hunting the Devil explores the heartbreak and healing of a biracial American physician caught up in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Suanne is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Besides stints as a travel and medical photographer and a family practice physician, she served as an editor for a mainstream/romance publishing house and fiction editor for an on-line literary magazine.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Suanne: I was planning my post-retirement life and wanted something to do that would keep me mentally challenged once I left my medical practice. I became nostalgic for long summer days at my grandparents’ West Texas ranch when I’d hole up on the back porch and read Tarzan books by the hour. I figured if Edgar Rice Burroughs could write nearly eighty novels in his thirty-nine-year writing career, I could crank out a novel. So I re-read all twenty-seven Tarzan books as well as the one finished posthumously by Joe Lansdale, and Tarzan Alive, a pseudo-biography of Tarzan by Philip Jose Farmer. Then I started writing. I quickly learned writing wasn’t as easy as I assumed. I did a Google search for writing schools and came up with Stanford University’s Novel-Writing program https://continuingstudies.stanford.edu/writing-certificate/writing-certificate. It was a good choice for me since it was all online. I “met” people there I am still in contact with, and we often exchange beta-reads and editing. I retired from medicine in 2015 and have been writing full-time since.

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

Suanne: I wrote for about a year before starting the Stanford program. I completed it in 2½ years. The program is quite comprehensive, and I’m convinced it saved me years of random attempts to learn about writing. That said, I believe we authors should perpetually attempt to improve our skills.

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

Suanne: My favorite books include The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

The Gabriel Allon spy series by Daniel Silva

Brokeback Mountain by Annie Proulx

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The clarity of these authors’ prose and their subject matter all appeal to me.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Suanne: I started with a female Tarzan book about an anthropologist working with the Maasai in Tanzania. Reading it now, it is wayyyyyy too long, has tons of point-of-view shifts, unresolved plot bunnies—it’s so bad, I can’t get past chapter one.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Suanne: I started out wanting to write romances but had difficulty with the happily-ever-after—maybe because I was in the midst of a divorce. Now I write women’s fiction with elements of thrillers in which the protagonist is pushed to her utmost and intersects with men who might—or might not—love her.

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

Suanne: As mentioned above, I completed the Stanford program. I am also fortunate to have discovered SARA (San Antonio Romance Authors). This is an incredibly supportive group of authors with both online and in-person critique groups. One of the members can always be counted on for a beta-read or be available to critique.

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

Suanne: I wish someone had warned me how mind-numbing and emotionally debilitating the process of querying is, and once a book is published, how difficult promotion is.

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

Suanne: Hunting the Devil came from my experiences raising a biracial son and traveling to Africa.

When Dr. Jessica Hemings volunteers for a medical mission in Rwanda, she becomes entrapped in the maelstrom of Rwandan politics and the enmity between Hutus and Tutsis. Her Tutsi features plunge her into the Rwandan Genocide. Dr. Cyprien Gatera, Jess’s superior and a Hutu radical, commandeers her clinic, slaughters her patients and her adopted sons, then forces her to treat his wounded. She escapes and survives three weeks in hiding before finding refuge at Benaco refugee camp in Tanzania.

There, Jess vows revenge. She searches for Gatera with the help of Michel Fournier, a French lawyer-turned-war-correspondent, and Dr. Tom Powell, her long-time ex-lover. When an unknown informant passes information to Jess about her nemesis, she returns to Rwanda, despite warnings from the Belgian Secret Service that Gatera plans to assassinate her. In their final showdown, Jess must decide if revenge is best served cold—or not at all.

Excerpt:

Jess’s hands were filthy. But that didn’t matter. She had no treatment, no surgical instruments, no antibiotics. Despite years of medical training, she couldn’t save the boy. He was doomed to a painful death. She ran her hands over his head. His whimpers lessened at her touch. The Hippocratic Oath flashed though her mind. Do no harm. If she stayed to care for him, she risked recapture. He was too big for her to carry. Transporting him to safety would inflict more pain without improving his prognosis. Yet she couldn’t abandon him. Though he had little time left to live, he shouldn’t suffer. Only one option remained.

She wiped tear streaks from the boy’s face. “I promise you’ll join your family soon.” Visions of her year-old twins flashed before her. No! If she thought of them right now, she’d go insane. She shoved those memories into the deepest vault of her mind and slammed the door.

Jess closed her eyes, placed her hand over the boy’s mouth and nose, and pressed firmly into his round face.

Go-away-go-away-go-away!

The raucous cry of a go-away bird jerked Jess back to the present. She opened her eyes. Looked down. Her hand remained clamped over the boy’s face. With her other hand, she felt for his pulse. Nothing. She slumped in relief. A lifetime had passed—literally—in a moment. She lifted her hand and stared at her shaking fingers. Trained to save lives, she’d just—

Buy links: Amazon * B&N

 Thanks for sharing that riveting story, Suanne! It sounds like a heart- and gut-wrenching read that will illuminate what it was like during that time.

Spring is right around the corner and I can’t wait! Grab a book and a cold beverage and head outside as often as possible. Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Jacie Floyd #author #contemporary #romance #womens #fiction

Jacie, thank you for being my guest. Please tell my readers about yourself, and the book you are sharing with us today.

Throughout her life, Jacie Floyd resided in the solidly Midwestern states of Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. Going to school, finding her ideal mate, raising two perfect children, and following her husband’s career relocations from state-to-state kept her more than busy. Despite numerous jobs and professional attempts of her own, nothing career-wise ever stuck. In her heart of hearts, she longed to follow her dream of being a full-time writer. So, in 2014, she enthusiastically ditched the unfulfilling day job and freezing mid-western winters to live and write in sunny Florida… Until the possibility of grandmother-hood became a reality, frequent air travel became impractical, and the idea of living so far from her children became unbearable. So a recent relocation to Louisville, Kentucky has absorbed much of the past six months, and winter has been a horrible reminder of why she left the area in the first place. The promise of her first grandbaby in May more than made up for what is, hopefully, her last major move. But she will continue to write her books about love, laughter, and happily-ever-after.

Website * Facebook * GoodReads * BookBub

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jacie: Hi Betty! Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about my books and writing life on your blog! ‘Becoming’ a writer can be defined by many different milestones. In high school, I made my first attempts at writing poetry and short stories. I joined RWA in 1997. Finished my first full-length novel in 1999. I won my first Golden Heart (a major award for pre-published authors) in 2001. Published my first book in 2014. But, honestly, I think I was born a writer. The compulsion to write either consumes you or it doesn’t.

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

Jacie: Oh, so many. I was an avid reader from birth. Of the early romance authors, the one who most impacted me and my writing was LaVyrle Spencer, because she wrote both historical and contemporary. Even then I knew that Contemporary novels would be my lane. She wrote clear, precise, emotional stories about real people in challenging, but identifiable situations. Then came Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Cruise, Kristin Hannah, Avery Flynn, and Kristin Higgins, and so many more. The humor and fast pace of these authors’ books wins me over every time.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jacie: When I began writing with an eye to publication, it was always contemporary romance for me. Initially, they were sweeping stories with soap-opera cliff-hangers and over-the-top drama. My style has changed greatly since then.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Jacie: The actual fingers-on-keyboard, butt-in-chair act of writing brings me great joy: creating characters, putting words in their mouths and emotions in their hearts. If I could sit at my desk and make up fictional characters, all-day-every-day, I’d be completely happy.

Betty: How did you learn to write?

Jacie: A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else? Allowing for the fact that ‘learning to write’ is a never-ending journey, extensive reading has always been a major influence. I’ve taken numerous creative writing classes. For many years I was part of a critique group, and now I have an editor with a keen eye for plot loopholes and overwriting. Mentoring others is invaluable at this stage in my career. But the best education is just figuring it out by sitting down and writing.

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

Jacie: Better time management. Writing and publishing are two different jobs, but I wish I had known that I’d need to learn how to do both. At the same time.

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

Jacie: ALWAYS ALLIE is the first book in a new series (The Billionaire Brides), but it’s a spin-off of The Billionaire Brotherhood. While I loved writing about the amazing men of the brotherhood, I kept having the urge to flip the trope and make some man have to deal with a powerful woman for a change. As the sister of the hero in the first Billionaire Brotherhood book (WINNING WYATT), Allie’s story always intrigued me. So THIS is the story of a female executive who’s strong, confident, sexy, and wears stilettos. 

Allison Maitland Spencer is the billionaire president and CEO of Wyatt Enterprises. Following in her legendary mother’s footsteps as a strong, independent woman, she always gets what she wants—in business. Focused on her corporate responsibilities and raising her challenging teenage son, she doesn’t have time or energy for romantic relationships.

But when Buck Cooper, her high school sweetheart, returns, she’s reminded of sweet memories and tempted by the possibility of passion-filled nights. The seductive tech developer seems determined to reclaim her heart.

Their off-the-chart chemistry is a welcome distraction, but his past baggage and current secrets fill Allie with doubts. Is his pursuit based on desire or a plot to take over her company? Buck has easy answers for all of Allie’s questions—except the one about their future.

Excerpt:

As Allie maneuvered through the well-dressed crowd, goose bumps pebbled her skin. Her nipples hardened beneath her silk dress and lace camisole. Good Lord! Where had that reaction come from? Totally inappropriate. And unexpected. How long had it been since she’d experienced such a visceral response from an unknown source? Or even a known one?

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and turned her head to view the guests populating the surrounding area. Mingling. Laughing, Hugging. Nothing nipple hardening about any of it.

Angling her body slightly, she perused the men thronging the bar. Young men, old men. Men with new money, men with inherited money. Men with no money who hoped to be wealthy someday. Men who would hit on her because she was rich or because she was powerful. Men who’d be intimidated for the same reasons. Athletes, executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and adventurers. Typical for any elite social event.

None of them captured her attention or instigated the awareness prickling down her spine. Until the crowd cleared, and then… Yes, her brain whispered with satisfaction. Yes! her body shouted with excitement.

That one. Tall, hard, chiseled, and broad-shouldered. A body that begged to have the tuxedo ripped off it.

Buy links: Amazon

I’m sure it was a major adjustment moving from the warmer Florida climate to the much colder Kentucky one. ALWAYS ALLIE sounds like a great read. Thank you for sharing it with us today.

Until next time…

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Claudia Shelton #author #contemporary #romance #suspense #mystery #thriller

I’ve known my next guest, at least online, for many years now. Please help me welcome Claudia Shelton! First a peek at her bio and then we’ll move to the fun part…

Award winning author Claudia Shelton has already proven herself a contender in romantic suspense books that cross over into the mystery-suspense-thriller genre. Whether sexy protector agents or small-town family settings, her fast-paced stories keep the reader guessing all the way to the end. Now, with the release of the first book in her new Nature’s Crossing series, she’s entering the contemporary mainstream romance genre (a crossover between contemporary romance and women’s fiction). The ongoing small-town saga is nestled in south-central Missouri, somewhere between Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake, and Mark Twain National Forest.

On a personal note, Claudia considers herself a music lover and water person, plus she enjoys anything to do with nature. In fact, the Nature’ Crossing series allows her to bring all of those things closer. Her main priority, though, is spending time with family, friends and her two sweet, conniving rescue dogs, Gidget and Daisy.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * BookBub * Newsletter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Claudia: I began writing seriously in 2006. Finished my first book in 2008.

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

Claudia: My debut novel was Risk of A Lifetime – released 2014 with Entangled Publishing. However, I had short stories published prior to that.

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

Claudia: I’ve been a reader all my life, so I feel that there isn’t just one author influence. Writing and styles and stories change with the times, so the combination of all that has come before, mixed with the stories waiting in my mind at the moment, will always influence what I write. In my humble opinion, I feel that five years from now, I could write the same premise of a story…yet the book would be different than what came out last year. Times change and so do books.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Claudia: I just did! And, of course once you start, the characters, settings, and storylines begin to bombard your mind.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Claudia: My first published books were Romantic Suspense. But the first book I ever wrote was A Week at Most which is a mixture of contemporary romance/women’s fiction/and just a tiny touch of suspense. The manuscript sat on my shelf for over ten years before I reworked the story and published the book in November 2020.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Claudia: That’s an interesting question. One I don’t really have an answer for because there’s so much that feels good in the moment.

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

Claudia: Craft books. Critique groups. Workshops.

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

Claudia: There is no absolute right or wrong when it comes to storytelling. Just write the book!

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

Claudia: Catherine Mann, BJ Daniels, Robyn Carr, Sherryl Woods, Cherry Adair and many, many more. I thank them all.

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

Claudia: The outdoors and being close to nature have always been special to me. And I love my memories of small-town life and country living, music in the air, and swings on the front porch. The Nature’s Crossing series is a feel-good setting which called to me.

If you like the Virgin River or Sweet Magnolias series, you’ll want to read A Week At Most, first book in the new Nature’s Crossing series.

Big-city newscaster Ashley Lanovan never envisioned herself divorced, unemployed, and house sitting for friends during the holiday season. After adjusting to small-town culture shock, she realizes that her priorities have been misplaced for the past ten years and feels inspired to energize the struggling community. But a holiday getaway to Washington, D.C., gives her even more reason to call Nature’s Crossing her home.

Mark Garmund is ready for a change in careers. He’s seriously considering the National Park Services job offer in the area of Nature’s Crossing. Now, he’s got his eye on ten acres with towering pines, a park-like setting, and one sprawling house he could call home. Meeting Ashley has triggered emotions he’d rather not face, and a few he would sure like to pursue. But first he has to earn her trust.

Excerpt:

Ashley put together a platter of fruit, cheese, and salami, then tossed crackers in a bowl and finished off the tray with two glasses. The klutz in her feared she might trip on the stairs, so she lowered it through the dumb waiter, retrieving the food once she was down the steps.

As Mark opened the patio door for her, he took the tray as she stepped out into the back yard that had become a wonderland. Flowers sprouted from a watering can placed on the picnic table, lanterns cast a warm flickering glow, and soft jazz floated in the air. Two chairs bordered the wood-filled fire pit. He’d been busy.

“I don’t think you were planning on going to the dance.” Ashley marveled at the finesse he showed in lighting the wood.

He shrugged and poured them each a glass of wine. “You’ll never know, will you? You said no.”

“By the way, don’t forget to take your clean fishing vest. I can get it from my suitcase.”

“Thanks. But I’ll pick it up the next time I’m through town.”

She wouldn’t break the mood by telling him she’d be gone by this time next week.

His grin told her his question even before he asked. “Why’s it in your suitcase?”

What was she supposed to say? That she’d hoped he’d come for the vest? She wouldn’t dare tell him she tried it on twice. Already his flirty tone played with her. “After I washed it three times and got the stink bait smell out, I needed to keep it someplace.”

The cold night air overtook her. She shivered slightly. A sweater instead of the blouse would have been a smarter choice.

“Are you cold?” he asked.

“No.” She shuddered again. “Maybe a little.”

“Won’t take long for the fire to get going. You’ll warm up fast then.” He pitched more wood on the blaze.

Her teeth chattered together lightly.

Mark removed his leather jacket. Facing her, he wrapped it around her shoulders. “There, that should help.”

It had been a long time since she felt lost in a man’s coat. A long, long time. She smiled as the fresh aroma of his ocean breeze cologne, mingled with the scent of leather against her skin.

Buy links: Amazon * Kobo * Apple * B&N * Google

I love being out in nature, too! Thanks so much for sharing your inspiration for this story and your writing, Claudia!

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 Elizabeth Caulfield Felt #author #historical #mystery #fiction #amreading

Today’s guest author brings a lifetime love of words to her writing. Please help me welcome Elizabeth Caulfield Felt to the interview seat! Here’s a look at her credentials and then we’ll dive right in.

Elizabeth Caulfield Felt teaches composition classes and children’s literature at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Her novels include Charlotte, which won an award from the UWSP Graduate Council; Syncopation: a memoir of Adele Hugo, published by Cornerstone Press; and The Stolen Goldin Violin, a children’s mystery that takes place on the campus of UWSP during the American Suzuki Institute. Elizabeth is a book reviewer for the Historical Novel Society and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Apple

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Elizabeth: As long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil, I’ve written stories.

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

Elizabeth: Oh, my! Having announced I started writing early, the answer to this is many, many years! I was an English and French major in college, so took many literature and writing classes. I belonged to writing groups, joined writer organization and went to conferences, read books, and wrote, wrote, wrote. I was first published in 2005, decades after writing my first story.

Betty: There are as many approaches to writing as there are writers. What does your writing process look like?

Elizabeth: Writing is a struggle for me. I want to be a writer, but I never want to write. I love having written, but the work of writing is such difficult work, with so little reward. I’ve given up many times. However, even during the times I stop writing, I never stop getting ideas for stories. I spend many of my waking hours playing around with characters and plot lines in my head. After a certain point, I need to get these ideas on paper. I guess that’s my process. I think about a story for a long time before I decide to sit down at the computer, picking word after word after word. When my fingers meet keyboard, I know all the important plot points of the story and my characters are already well developed friends.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Elizabeth: I don’t remember; I started writing so young. My first published work was a creative thesis, Charlotte, which is historical fiction. Next was a children’s mystery, The Stolen Goldin Violin, then another work of historical fiction, Syncopation. I’ve written a young adult fantasy trilogy that I’m querying, and my work in progress is a contemporary realistic novel about a writer in Scotland. I don’t have a favorite genre; when I have an idea I cannot ignore, I go to work.

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

Elizabeth: Hmm. This is a hard one. My mother wrote seven wonderful novels and wasn’t able to get them published. So, I knew getting published was difficult. What has surprised me is how many people think writing is easy, that getting published is easy, that if you self-publish you can get rich, that they have a book idea I’d want to hear about…. These types of conversations drive me crazy! By nature, I’m a quiet, polite person, so I usually nod and move on, but geesh! Writing is hard! Getting published is like winning the lottery! I have more book ideas than I’ll ever have time to write about!

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

Elizabeth: The idea for this novel came when a lot of pieces of my life all fell together. In high school, I took French and memorized the poem “Demain des l’Aube” by Victor Hugo. I lived and studied in France for a year and at some point watched the Francois Truffaut film Adele H. At university I wrote a research paper about Victor Hugo and decided I didn’t like him anymore. (He didn’t think much of women.)  Many years later, when I was nearly finished with my first novel, a group of friends were reciting poems they knew by heart. “Demain des L’Aube” flowed forth my memory, as if I’d read it the day before. It is a beautiful poem, and I was sad that it had been written by a man I no longer respected. Then I remembered Truffaut’s film about Victor’s daughter Adele. What if she had written that poem? My research about the Hugo family began, I located a copy of Adele’s journal, and three years later, Syncopation: A Memoire of Adele Hugo was completed. 

Adele, the scandalous daughter of Victor Hugo, describes life with the famous French author, playwright, poet and politician, a man who brought liberty and equality to “everyman” but felt no desire to do so for “every woman.” Adele, an accomplished poet, pianist, and composer, craves a freedom that the nineteenth century and her father will not allow. Her memoir blurs the fine line between truth and madness, in a narrative that is off-kilter, skewed, syncopated.

Excerpt:

To life there is a rhythm one knows from the womb. It begins as the beat of a mother’s heart–slow and steady and safe. An infant finds the pulse in its own heart and continues the rhythm in its needy sucking. The toddler pitter-pats to the rhythm, and the sound of the servants starting the day carry it through. The pulse is in the wind and the laps of the waves from the Seine; birds sing it and squirrels chitter it; the very soil under our feet moans and groans to its pounding.

Firecrackers exploded when Adèle was born. July 28, 1830 was the in middle of the three-day revolution protesting the tyrannies of King Charles X. With such a birthday, Adèle was born for glory and fame.

The Hugo house was on the newly constructed rue Jean-Goujon, the wide fields of the Champs-Elysée as their backyard. The family had everything one could desire: parkland to explore, books to read, a small black piano, and each other.

And then one day, as a unit, this perfect family gasped. Those who survived missed a half-beat from the breath of life. If it had been a whole note, they could have perhaps fallen back into the rhythm, but it was a half-beat. They syncopated. They moved out of step, off-kilter. Forever more, they would run and jump and dream and scream, but they would be unable to slip into that easy rhythm, that regular beat that keeps time for the world.

Buy links: Smashwords * B&N * Kobo * amazonUS *amazonUK

It’s always interesting to have a peek at the coming together of moments and experiences to form a new story. Thanks for sharing that with us, Elizabeth!

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 Renny DeGroot #author #historical #fiction #novel #nonfiction

My guest today is joining us from Canada with a riveting tale to share with you all. Please help me welcome Renny deGroot to the interview hot seat! Here’s a glance at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her story.

Renny deGroot is a first generation Canadian of Dutch parents. She was born in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Her debut novel, Family Business, was shortlisted for the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. Her second novel, After Paris, has been well received by fans of Historical Fiction and her latest novel Torn Asunder has garnered several readers’ awards including an IndieB.R.A.G Medallion, a Five Star Award from the Coffee Pot Book Club (U.K.), A Book of the Month Premier Award and joint runner up for Book of the Year 2020 from Chill With A Book (U.K.), a Readers Favorite Honorable Mention (Hist Fic) in the 2020 International Book Contest and a Readers’ Pick badge from the Miramichi Reader (Canada).

In 2019 Renny was commissioned to produce a coffee-table non-fiction book about the military history of her former regiment, called 32 Signal Regiment, Royal Canadian Corps of Signals: A History.

Renny spent ten years in the Canadian Forces, retiring as a Warrant Officer.

Renny has a BA in English Literature from Trent University. She lives in rural Ontario with her Great Pyrenees and Golden Retriever, and vacations at her cottage in Nova Scotia.

Website * Facebook * Twitter

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Renny: I was fortunate enough to get the ‘golden handshake’ from my full-time job in 2010 which gave me the freedom to dedicate myself to my writing. Prior to that I dabbled, but I really view my birth as an author from the moment I began full time.

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

Renny: I am a real fan of the classics and continue to go back to them when I am in need of a ‘comfort read’. I am especially inspired by Charles Dickens with his ability to tell important stories and do it in such a way that engages and entertains. Who doesn’t cry at the end of A Tale of Two Cities? He takes the notion of societal transformation and applies it at a personal level with the idea that people can change, and all people have good in them at some level. I work to apply the same method to my writing. I had a manuscript review done of Torn Asunder by the amazing Barbara Kyle during which she told me I had ‘window pane writing’. This comment delighted me because for me, telling a good story is always the first priority. It’s only by truly engaging the reader, that one can have any success in getting one’s message across.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Renny: I started with angst-filled poetry as a teenager (I had a few poems published in school year books that I now flip past quite quickly when looking at the old photos!). I went on to short stories when I took some creative writing classes at Ryerson, and I still occasionally will work on that format (I came in 1st in my group in round one of the NYC Short Story Contest 2 years ago), but my real love is now the novel. I love the scope and leeway I have in evolving the characters and story.

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

Renny: I lived in Ireland for a while and fell in love with the history and drama with which the country is steeped. I thought it was a perfect setting to look at the idea of how we influence others.

Thank you so much for having me here today Betty! I’ve enjoyed thinking about these questions and the journey I’ve taken to get where I am today. The support of bloggers is so vital to indie authors, and I appreciate this opportunity.

Opening in Ireland 1916, Emmet Ryan becomes an inspiring journalist during one of the country’s most turbulent times, but he has no idea that his words have the power to destroy those he loves the most. An Irish multi-generational family drama of divided loyalties.

Excerpt:

Emmet joined his father and two brothers cycling home. They burst in on their mother with a clatter of noise.

She wiped her hands on her apron and smiled at Emmet. “You found them all, then?”

Emmet’s father put a hand on her shoulder. “Kathleen, make up some packages of sandwiches for each of us. We’ll be leaving again in a few minutes and I don’t know when we’ll be back.”

She put her hand to her mouth. “It’s not true. You’re not really going to fight?”

“We are. Is there any food ready right now that we could have a quick hot meal?”

She stood with her hand still pressed to her mouth and then glanced over to her youngest son. “Not Emmet as well?”

Emmet felt his chest swell when he heard his father. “Emmet’s old enough to make his own decision.”

She came near him and reached out her hand as though to hold him fast, but Emmet nodded. “Me too, Mam.”

She wiped her eyes with a corner of her apron and then went to the cooker. Her voice was thick with tears and defeat. “The spuds aren’t ready, but you’ll each have a cut of ham on bread with onions and gravy before you go anywhere.”

For a mixed media reading by one of Canada’s leading Irish tenors, click here: https://youtu.be/QHiA7Jtc-GA

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/TornAsunder

My all-time favorite Dickens novel is Our Mutual Friend, which was his last completed novel. It’s dark and ironic and clever all wrapped into a fascinating tale. I just received a new copy of A Tale of Two Cities to read for Christmas. It’s been a long time since I read it and I want to see if I like it and understand it better as an adult. Thanks for stopping in, Remmy!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! And as always, thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Getting to know Ana Brazil #author #historical #fiction #mystery #romance #books

My guest today is an award-winning novelist. Please help me welcome Ana Brazil! Let’s peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her.

Ana Brazil is the author of the historical mystery Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper, winner of the 2018 Independent Book Publishers Association Gold Medal for Historical Fiction. Ana’s current work-in-progress features a bodacious vaudeville singer beset with murder, mistaken identity, and multiple romances in 1919 San Francisco.

Ana is a long-time student of history and earned her master’s degree in American history from Florida State University. She also worked as an architectural historian in Mississippi. After many years in software development, Ana is ecstatic to write historical fiction full time. Ana is an active member of the Historical Novel Society and Sisters in Crime, is the Events Chair for Sisters in Crime Northern California, and is a founding member of the Paper Lantern Writers historical fiction collective.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Pinterest

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Ana: Probably when I was twelve. That’s when my mother died and I found great solace in writing poetry. Very bad poetry, of course, but it was verse that helped me express my sorrow and loss. Getting my feelings down on the page led me to read “real” poetry, and to appreciate the rhythm and power of the written word. I also started reading a lot of historical fiction in my teen years—like Dickens, Austen, and Alcott—and I found great stories to be a great refuge.

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

Ana: My novel Fanny Newcomb and the Irish Channel Ripper was published in November 2017, although much of it was finished about ten years earlier. Every job I’ve ever had had a “writing component.” Sometimes I wrote promotional brochures; sometimes I wrote instructions on how to turn off a database. But I always worked to improve my writing and storytelling. So in actual years, I’d probably written 40 years before my first novel was published.

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

Ana: Great influences: One of my early influences was Anne Rice, especially The Mummy. Her characters, sense of drama, and pacing are really stunning. Plus, she wrote a lot about New Orleans, a city that I love.

Not-so-great-influence: I read a lot of Charles Dickens during my teens and picked up his “cataloging” technique. You know, the “glorious pile—frowning walls—tottering arches—dark nooks—crumbling staircases” type of writing. Good for Dickens; not so good for me. I continually have to remind myself that “cataloging isn’t writing.”

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Ana: A love of reading, of course! I enjoyed reading historical fiction so much that I kept thinking, “What would happen if this character and this character intersected with each other? What kind of conflict would they create? What kind of resolution would they get to?”

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Ana: I went from poetry (again, bad poetry!) to attempts to write short stories to writing a novel and—just a few years ago–to writing real short stories.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Ana: I love writing short stories because they are short and contained. But I love writing novels the best because I get to take a heroine through a life-changing journey.

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

Ana: My love of reading also helped me learn how to write. From reading fiction and non-fiction, historical and contemporary, literature and genre, I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t. I also really benefit from being in critique groups, especially since I ask my fellow critique group members to be really, really honest.   

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

Ana: I have a small independent publisher (Sand Hill Press Review), so there was a lot of time between signing the contract and publication date. I wish that I’d had a second Gilded Age New Orleans mystery to quickly follow the first publication. Lesson Learned: keep writing, writing, writing even when you’re submitting for publication.

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

Ana: I’ve been inspired by Julia Spencer-Fleming, who writes characters who have good hearts and try to do the right thing.

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

Ana: I was in the Tulane University archives in New Orleans going through boxes of clippings and photographs from the 1880s and 90s, all research for my master’s thesis. Inside those boxes I found information about the most interesting women…all of them trying to make the city of New Orleans a better place by doing good works like starting social settlements, teaching in kindergartens, and protecting animals. I was also a big fan of detective fiction and eventually I had the revelation “if these brilliant New Orleans women could solve social problems, I bet they could probably solve a murder as well.” And so Fanny Newcomb was born. And yes, her last name is a tribute to Newcomb College in New Orleans.

A Jack the Ripper copycat is terrorizing the women of Gilded Age New Orleans.

Desperate to know if her favorite student was a Ripper copycat victim, tenacious and quick-witted Fanny Newcomb turns detective.

Fanny’s hunt launches her into New Orleans’ darkest enclaves, saloons, and houses of prostitution. She questions authority, seeks out clues, and digs into long-protected secrets. Fanny’s search alienates her friends, alarms the police, and antagonizes her would-be fiancé. Her efforts infuriate the Ripper copycat, who vows to murder another of Fanny’s students by the end of the week.

Fanny persists, and even appears to succeed in her investigation, until the night her curiosity plunges her into a desperate confrontation with the Ripper copycat.

Can amateur detective Fanny Newcomb stop the Irish Channel Ripper before he murders again?

Excerpt:

Fanny Newcomb sucked the blood from the knuckle of her right thumb. Her fingers were stiff and reddened; her nails were torn. Her cuffs were rolled up to her elbows and she’d undone the top three buttons of her bodice. She dabbed the glow from her forehead with her crumpled handkerchief and surveyed her opponent. The battle had just begun.

     The Hammond typewriting machine was not entirely uninjured. The A, P, and W keys were snarled tightly and buried deep in the carriage well. The typewriter was immobilized.

     Fanny’s pride was bruised but her spirit was unbowed. “You’re just a machine,” she sneered. “Wires and plates and copper and keys. I’m smarter than you are. It might take me a while to figure you out but I’ll do it.”

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Sounds like a terrific story and I love the inspiration for it, too. Thanks so much, Ana, for sharing it with us!

Happy reading!

Betty

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