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.

Getting to know Annmarie Banks #author #alchemy #historical #fiction #medieval #fantasy #magical #realism

Please help me welcome to the interview hot seat author Annmarie Banks! Let’s take a quick peek at her bio and then we’ll find out more about her writing inspiration and stories.

Annmarie Banks spent the first twenty years of her professional life as a bookseller specializing in out-of-print and antiquarian books. She currently resides in the state of Arizona.

Since then she has studied many books about the history of the quest for knowledge. Early Western scientists were alchemists and philosophers who were forced to learn about the secrets of Nature by hiding in locked rooms poring over encrypted documents. Their struggle was so fascinating to her that she wrote the book she had always hoped to find on the shelves of the bookstore, but never did.

Website * Goodreads

Betty: When did you become a writer? 

Annmarie: I wrote and illustrated my first book in kindergarten.  It was called “The Kitty Cat Got Lost” and was inspired by “Are You My Mother?”  which really was a terrifying book for a 5-year-old.  My mother kept the stapled booklet, and I still have it 50 years later.  More recently, I finished my first novel in 2001 and found a publisher for it ten years later.

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

Annmarie: I have been a reader from Dr. Seuss on.  I have a bachelor’s in English, and so as part of my coursework wrote thousands of words.

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

Annmarie: The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), The Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkien)

Betty: What prompted you to start writing? 

Annmarie: I became increasingly dissatisfied with the novels I was reading.  They were predictable in plot, and clichéd in content.  I worked in a bookstore, so had access to an amazing diversity of titles, but could not find what I was looking for, so I wrote it myself.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with? 

Annmarie: I have always been interested in characters who stepped up to go beyond the roles society placed on them.  This type of development crosses all genres, but I found it more often in science fiction.  The wonders of discovery and the delight in learning something I did not know before as a reader always excited me. 

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?   

Annmarie: I truly enjoy spending time in my mind with the characters I create.

They become like friends and family, and while it might seem like I am their god, and with a click of the keyboard have them live or die, in reality they take on lives of their own, and often surprise me with what they have to say.

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

Annmarie: As a ravenous reader of a variety of fiction and non-fiction, as well as my course work in college made it easier to transition to writing professionally.  Currently I am a technical writer, so I have that experience as well.

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

Annmarie: I came from the bookselling world, so was familiar with the publishing industry.  I knew that distributing my work would be a challenge, but the internet made it both easier and more difficult.  Easier because I can set up a website with links to my books, more difficult because there must be a million similar websites!

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

Annmarie: Bradbury, Tolkien, Bradley, Gabaldon, Heinlein, Lackey, McCaffrey.

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

Annmarie: I read the history of printing and manuscripts as part of my job buying and pricing antiquarian books. The stories of the earliest writers and the struggles they faced trying to get the message of science and philosophy and magic out to other seekers was fascinating.  The risks they took to preserve and find these forbidden manuscripts was compelling!  The powers that be worked tirelessly to suppress new ideas and to destroy any writing that did not align with the Church’s teachings.  This sounded like the beginning of an adventure, and what if what was written in those manuscripts was true?  What a great ride!

1494 Barcelona. Thousands of books and manuscripts are lost to the flames as the Black Friars attempt to purge Europe of the ancient secrets of the gods and the bold new ideas that are ushering in the Renaissance. Words are Nadira’s life. She is pursued as passionately for her rare skill as a reader of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew, which makes her valuable to men who pursue the Hermetica to exploit its magic. Kidnapped by Baron Montrose, she is forced to read from the Hermetica. Within its pages are the words that incite the Dominicans to religious fervor, give the Templars their power, and reveal the lost mysteries of Elysium. As Nadira begins her transformation from servant to sorceress, will she escape the fires of the Inquisition, the clutches of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI and the French king, Charles VIII?

Excerpt:

A strange look passed over the nobleman’s face. “When my brother spoke to you, what language did you hear?”

“He spoke to me in Greek, sir, and in what you call Moorish.”

Montrose exchanged a glance with his friend. “Do you read and write these languages as well?”

“Yes, my lord.” Nadira answered, puzzled.

“Do you read and write any others?”

“Latin and English. Some French. Hebrew.”

Montrose frowned at Sofir. “Where did you get this girl? Hebrew? Jews do not educate their women.”

The old man’s left eye twitched and Nadira felt him stiffen. “Surely you have made an error, my lord. I am a Christian. I attend mass twice a week. Ask my neighbors if you doubt me.” Sofir’s voice quavered. “And she is no Jew either. She was sold to me years ago with her mother, both of them Barbary moors.”

Montrose cocked his head, suspicion in his eyes. In two long strides he was upon her and had her right arm in a painful grip. He twisted her wrist with one hand while opening her palm with the other.  Her fingers had been ink-stained for years; she could not remember a time when they were not.  He was not exactly hurting her, though the grip was uncomfortable.

Montrose released her hand, but shifted his grasp to her upper arm. “We want to take the girl with us.”

Buy links: Amazon

The history of alchemy and natural philosophy are indeed fascinating! I’m intrigued by the concepts behind this story, Annmarie. Thanks for sharing!

I touched on alchemy in Haunted Melody (Secrets of Roseville Book 2) with Max as a modern day chemist dabbling in the use of it to try to save his brother’s eyesight. I had done some research into the history of alchemy in college which provided a fair understanding of how it evolved into chemistry. That story is set around Halloween, so this time of year is a good time to read 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 Lainee Cole #author #contemporary #romance #mystery #poetry #books #fiction #amwriting #amreading

My guest today is a fellow author from a group project, but I’ll let Lainee Cole tell you more about all of that after we take a look at her bio. Ready? Here we go!

Lainee Cole is a Midwestern girl who writes in the company of a husband always trying to talk to her. Lainee’s goal is for her stories to make readers laugh and cry, give them hope, and encourage them to believe in the power of love. When she’s not writing or reading, Lainee enjoys spending time with family and friends; hiking, camping, and traveling with her husband; and consuming daily doses of chocolate.

Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Lainee: I’ve been a writer as long as I can remember! I’ve been working on several romance novels for more years than I should admit, but I found myself rewriting my rewrites and quickly going nowhere. With my kids grown and out of the house, I finally became serious about finishing those novels and publishing them in the last five years. Finally!

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

Lainee: My writing style has been influenced by the many Harlequin and Silhouette contemporary romances I’ve read over the years, as well as by authors such as Sherryl Woods, R.C. Ryan, and Kat Martin. I’m a sucker for continuity series books, and these authors do them well! Future author goals for me!

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Lainee: As a young girl, I started with short stories featuring the horses I dreamed of owning. Then in junior high and high school, I wrote poetry. I was rather embarrassed when my friends starting sharing my poems with everyone else, including the boys I wrote about! Around the same time, my best girlfriends and I started trading Harlequin romances back and forth. But it wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I started writing romance. I definitely found my home here!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Lainee: I most enjoy writing sweet contemporary romances. While I occasionally like to pick up something heavier, I really enjoy light reading. I want to get lost in the books I read. I want to fall in love with the characters and ride along as they journey to their happily-ever-after. I hope to entice readers to do the same with my books.

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

Lainee: All of the above! I learn best by doing, and I enjoy learning. Craft books are a great place to start, as are classes. Conferences are exciting and exhausting at the same time, but offer some great resources. A couple of trusted mentors have been great at nudging me when I need nudging. Contests can be a source of feedback, too, as long as you remember they are subjective. But the best way to learn to write is to keep writing; keep trying different methods until you find what works for you. I feel like I learn something new with each new writing project!

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

Lainee: I used to be a voracious reader. I’ve slowed down a bit now, devoting more time to my own writing. Susan Mallery, Maggie Shayne, Sherryl Woods, Linda Lael Miller, R.C. Ryan, and Kat Martin are authors I admire and whose books inspire me to keep writing. I’ve recently enjoyed books by Jane Porter, Kaylie Newell, and Minette Lauren, finding new inspiration in their stories.

Author Lynn Crandall is one of my best friends. I love the depth of her writing! She has been instrumental in my growth as a writer. She is always encouraging but I also trust her to provide honest, constructive criticism or suggestions when I need them.

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

Lainee: While surfing the internet, I stumbled on some pictures of hidden stairways and rooms. I’ve always been fascinated with castles and the idea of hidden rooms, so I really wanted to include one in my book. About the same time, I learned of the Common Elements Romance Project through authors I follow on Facebook. The idea was for participating authors to write and self-publish their own book, but the book was required to include five common elements: a lightning storm, lost keys, a haunted house (really haunted or rumored to be), a stack of thick books, and a person named Max. Over seventy authors participated in the project, which you can learn more about here: https://commonelementsromanceproject.wordpress.com/. It was the perfect fit for my hidden stairway/room story with just a touch of mystery!

After the perfect storm that devastated her family, Emerson Lane fled the suffocating small town of Twin Creeks, her uncle, and her crush on Max. Seven years later, she returns home to make amends with her uncle and help him with the town’s Centennial, only to learn that also involves working with Max.

Sheriff Justin “Max” Lomax has had enough of small-town life and his overbearing bully of a grandfather. He plans to resign and move to the big city as soon as the Centennial celebration is over. There’s only one problem. Emerson Lane has returned. Seven years ago, he felt sorry for the young girl who’d lost her family, but now she’s all grown up and he’s tempted to explore new possibilities.

In the week before the Centennial, storms abound—both emotional and literal. As Emerson and Max unravel mysteries of the past, they just might find their future.

Excerpt:

Emerson held fast to the small twinge of satisfaction. Taking charge fed her illusion of being in control, and it was better than falling apart. Especially in front of Max.

She urged Irene into a chair at the table, then set the lantern on the island and reached for the folded note. Neither Max nor Irene said a word, but she could feel them watching her.

IRENE was scrawled across the paper in her uncle’s familiar handwriting. With her heart in her throat, she unfolded it. CONFIDENTIAL. Called away on urgent business. Tell anyone asking, I’m not to be disturbed. Counting on Emerson and Max to handle displays. Hope to return for Centennial. W.

“That’s it? But—” Her pulse pounded in her ears, drowning out everything else. I don’t want to work with Max!

She bit her inner lip and reread the note. Uncle Wayne was really gone. And he wanted her to work with Max.

She dropped it back on the island.

“Candles,” she muttered, checking the island drawers. She needed time to think. “We need candles.”

Max wasn’t part of her ‘making peace with the past’ plan. She’d come home to mend fences with Uncle Wayne. A pang of sadness pierced her heart when she found tapers in the center drawer, in the same place her aunt had kept them prior to her death.

Buy links:  Amazon * Books2Read

Thanks, Lainee, for sharing that intriguing excerpt of Storms of the Heart. I’m going to have to get my own copy since I also love hidden passages and rooms. Sounds like my kind of story!

My contribution to the Common Elements Romance Project is Charmed Against All Odds (Secrets of Roseville Book 5), which is up for a Rone Award next month. I enjoyed telling Roxie and Leo’s story so much, and apparently readers enjoyed it as well.

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 Regina Kammer #author #historical #contemporary #erotica #romance #librarian #historian

Today I’m welcoming a fellow Common Elements Romance Project author, Regina Kammer. I’ll let Regina explain more but let’s look at her bio before we get to the meat of the interview.

Regina Kammer is a librarian, an art historian, and an award-winning, best-selling, multi-published writer of provocative historical romance and contemporary romance with a touch of history. Her short stories and novels make history sexier, whether the era is Roman, Byzantine, Viking, American Revolution, or Victorian. She’s even sexed up contemporary settings, Steampunk, and Greco-Roman mythology. She began writing historical fiction with romantic elements during National Novel Writing Month 2006, switching to erotica when all her characters suddenly demanded to have sex.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Regina: Like many bookish young adults, I wrote stories, plays, and epic poetry in my teens. I put all that aside in college and graduate school, probably because I was writing so many research papers. I got the bug again decades later, in 2006, when I read about National Novel Writing Month in my college alumni magazine.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Regina: In 2005, I had a super long commute to my job via transit, so I was reading tons of books. I had just finished reading a book I thought was absolutely terrible – the history was wrong, the romance was flat – and I audaciously thought “I could totally write a better novel!”

So, after reading about National Novel Writing Month, I started to do a bunch of historical research in preparation for November 2006, with the idea in mind that I would write that historical novel.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Regina: Teenage me started writing historical fiction inspired by the books I had read. Somewhere in my files I have notebooks with stories based on Caddie Woodlawn and 1940s-set Ellery Queen mysteries.

Jump ahead to 2006, and adult me did a very similar thing. I had read all of Jane Austen’s works, in order, and was greatly intrigued by the concept of entailed property in Pride and Prejudice. I started researching British property law and decided I would write historical fiction with romantic elements set during the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act of 1882.

Well, I was greatly surprised when my characters took over and my story transformed into historical erotic romance!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Regina: I prefer to write historical romance, although I have also written contemporary romance. As a historian myself, I enjoy research, and I love how what we think we know about history is being challenged. I also like the speculative nature of historical writing, using history as the spark to set a plot in motion.

Many of my contemporary romances include history, usually because a character is a historian. So I even have to do historical research for my contemporary romance stories.

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

Regina: I come from an academic background of writing art historical research papers and theses. That sort of writing is very different from fiction, and usually includes a lot of background information. So, of course, my early fiction efforts (unpublished) were heavy with backstory!

Other technical aspects of fiction writing I did not know about were point-of-view, especially deep third POV. So, again, early works were filled with head-hopping and filter words.

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

Regina: I am passionate about historical and environmental preservation, and we’re living in a time when so much of our natural landscape is threatened. I set Resistance: A Common Elements Romance in a fictional national historic park where both the park’s history and its resources are threatened.

I had been working on a story for a boxed set with the requirements that it be a contemporary romance involving a military or ex-military hero. When the boxed set project was put on hold, I still had a half-finished book. I was thinking about pitching it to publishers when I heard about the Common Elements Romance Project. I joined the Project and edited my story to include the five common elements.

Resistance has a very, very contemporary story line. I wrote it almost in real time in 2018. Every day brought changes to the political landscape and my story reflects much of that.

Even though Resistance is a contemporary romance, the story incorporates a lot of history. The hero, Kace Jaager, was an archaeological field commander in Iraq during Operation Desert Storm tasked with preserving cuneiform tablets. The fictional national park, Fort America, has a unique and very American history – I won’t give that away.

Resistance is my final contemporary romance. I have too many historical romances waiting to be finished!

Passions flare when duty confronts ambition…

Kace Jaager, former Army archaeologist, now Superintendent of Fort America National Park, has a duty to preserve and protect the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the United States.

Madison Danes, ambitious CEO of Danergy Mining & Hydraulics, has a government contract to conduct fracking at Fort America National Park.

Sparks ignite as ideologies collide. Yet uncontrollable attraction compels a truce in bed. Opposites may attract, but can they put politics aside to form a more perfect union?

Resistance is an enemies-to-lovers contemporary seasoned romance with a 53-year-old silver fox hero and a 42-year-old heroine in her prime. The short novel is part of the Common Elements Romance Project, where over seventy romance authors have come together to write stories with five things in common. Stories are not connected in any way, except for having five elements: a lightning storm, lost keys, a haunted house, a stack of thick books, and a person named Max.

Excerpt:

He studied the framed photo in his hand, a gift from a reporter friend. A casual action shot of him in Iraq dressed in camouflage—shirt unbuttoned, sleeves rolled up—examining an artifact, his hair—back when it was brown—windswept, desert sandstone hills and army jeeps in the background. He looked a bit like a romantic archaeological adventurer in an action flick.

The kind of guy chicks would swoon over.

He placed the photo prominently on his desk. All was fair in love and war, and this was going to be an all-out war. If he had to use a sexual stratagem, so be it. At the very least, an image of him in his army days might soften the heart of a conservative businesswoman.

A quick rap on the door precipitated Becky’s entering. “Kace—”

Ms. Danes pushed passed, her exotic perfume flaring his nostrils. He swept his reading glasses into the top drawer of his desk.

“I’m here on official business. Mr. Jaager is expecting me.”

Kace waved at Becky. “It’s all right.” He nodded when Becky motioned as to whether to close the door.

Ms. Danes plopped her purse on an empty sliver of desk and rummaged in its depths. She produced a thumb drive. “Everything’s here. Just plug and play.”

He grabbed it, his fingers sliding along her slick lacquered nails, a frisson of interest nagging his crotch.

Buy links:  Amazon * Apple * B&N * EdenBooks * GooglePlay *

Kobo * Smashwords * Books2Read

Sounds like quite a conflict to overcome, and one that is very timely, so that should be a great story! Thanks for sharing it today, Regina.

As a reminder, my contribution to the Common Elements Romance Project is Charmed Against All Odds (Secrets of Roseville Book 5), which is a contender for a Rone award this fall. Visit https://www.bettybolte.com/paranormal-romance to find out about all the books in that series.

But don’t overlook Regina’s story either! There are many romance novels across all genres to try associated with the Common Elements Romance Project. Several of my guest authors also participated.

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 Janet Wertman #author #historicalfiction #renaissance #Tudors #mustread #histfic #fiction #bookstoread #fiction #nonfiction

My guest today is a fellow lover and author of historical fiction. Please help me welcome Janet Wertman, author of several interesting books I’m sure you’re going to want to check out! Let’s look at her bio and then dive into the interview.

By day, Janet Wertman is a freelance grantwriter for impactful nonprofits. By night, she indulges a passion for the Tudor era she has harbored since she was *cough* eight years old and her parents let her stay up late to watch The Six Wives of Henry VIII and Elizabeth R.  Janet’s Seymour Saga trilogy – featuring Jane the Quene, The Path to Somerset, and The Boy King – has been critically acclaimed as masterful and engaging, her dialogue as exceptional.

Janet is deep into writing the first book of her next trilogy, which takes up where the Seymours left off to chronicle the life of Elizabeth I. Janet also runs a blog where she posts interesting takes on the Tudors, and she’s part of a group of HNS novelists from Southern California who formed a Librarian Speakers Bureau to offer interesting panels and discussions.

Website  * Facebook * Instagram * Pinterest

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Janet: I tried to write my first book at around twelve, but never made it past the first chapter. It was when I was about 25 that I started to write the book that would end up morphing from the story of Anne Boleyn to the story of Jane Seymour. Of course, it wasn’t until I was 36 that I had a burst of energy and got 150 pages written … only to find that someone else had just published my exact book (The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, using a dual timeline – what are the odds?). After that setback, it wasn’t until 51 that I finally got serious.

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

Janet: I already had decades of reading books about the craft of writing, but when I began in earnest I embarked on three years of intensive skill-building to get to the publishing stage. It started when I sent my manuscript off to a developmental editor, secretly hoping that she would say “This is perfect just as it is.” Instead, she gave me my “Harper Lee moment” (so named after the episode where Harper Lee’s agent told her she was telling the wrong story…). The editor explained that I was prioritizing the objective story over the characters’ stories, and that I would never have a character arc until I slashed the number of point-of-view characters (I had read that scenes should be written from the POV of the character with the most at stake and I took that to heart and gave voices to twelve people). These were concepts I had read about but never saw how they applied to my writing. I completely restructured the book, joined a critique group, and read as many books on writing as I could find. 

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

Janet: I consider James Clavell’s Shogun the finest book ever written. Multiple points of view, mind you (which is what gave me the idea) – but he gave every one of them an arc (which is why the book is more than a thousand pages long). Perfect structure, with every action leading into the next. Compelling descriptions that use every sense and tell you things on several levels (in one scene, Blackthorne is describing his English wife, and he points to one of the room’s wood posts to show the color of her hair and they all suck in their lower lips at such an amazing thing).

I have also been heavily influenced by the French classics; this gives my prose a bit of an old-fashioned tone that works well to tell Tudor stories.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Janet: I knew for years that I had that first book inside me, and had played around with varying degrees of seriousness, but nothing ever really gelled. And then I realized that there was more to the story – that to really tell it required a trilogy. That’s when it all came together. It made perfect sense to me, based on an analogous lesson I learned from karate: when you’re trying to break a board, aiming *at* it will dissipate your energy too early. If you want to break a board, you have to aim beyond it. If I wanted to write a book, I had to plan for a trilogy (and by the way, I have a couple more trilogies planned for the future to keep me going!).

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Janet: The stark nonfiction of legal contracts! I was a corporate lawyer for fifteen years, one of the few forums (technically “fora”…) that appreciated skill at crafting really long sentences. Then I moved to grantwriting, which was still nonfiction but has its own arc (beginning with the need, moving on to describe the programs and how the organization responds to that need, then culminating with the crescendo of results). Then I added a blog, which also was still nonfiction, but nonfiction in full service to story. Finally, I made it to fiction!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Janet: Fiction, even though I insist on keeping my fiction as accurate as possible. I don’t know that I have it in me to fully create a story from scratch: I feel so much better figuring out what the story has to be given actual events. Years ago, I heard the phrase, “Limitations are an asset” – that when architects are given specific constraints, they create a Fallingwater, but when they are given a flat, giant plot and unlimited money, they produce little more than a large box. For my writing, I feel like the limitations of the actual events give me a chance to craft the perfect story.

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

Janet: Craft books are important, but you need more in order to really apply their principles. I see critique groups as the most valuable path to progress: there is no easier way to notice writing mistakes than when someone else is making them. Too, there is tremendous value in having multiple people react to your writing: when five people all agree that something does or does not work, you really need to listen – even when they disagree, there is a common thread that gets you to the answer. Plus, nothing that will keep you on track like the accountability of having to submit a new scene each week!

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

Janet: I wish I had known how much authors enjoy having their readers get in touch with them. It is a true joy to have people tell me they enjoyed my books, it is a real pleasure to get questions about the topic. I feel like if I had known that, I might have reached out more to my own favorite authors.

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

Janet: We’re back to James Clavell! Though he also made me nervous that I would never measure up…

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

Janet: It was tough to pick this with The Boy King launching soon and taking up all the oxygen in the room! But Jane fits best with this blog since it skews romantic and is the first in the series. Even though the books are more than capable of standing alone, there is actually an overarching story spanning the three works. The trilogy is bookended by Mary, who is important in the prologue to Book One and central to the epilogue to Book Three. And there are references in each book to scenes from the previous ones – and while I was careful to make sure you had all the information you needed, there is something fun to knowing all the details (there is a decades-old line from a movie or a book or an advertisement and I wish I could give the credit but all I can remember is the line itself, “Makes you feel inside”). Besides, The Boy King is still a month away from its publication date. Readers can start Jane now, and get all the way through the series without having to wait too long!

The Tragic Romance of Jane Seymour

England, 1535. At 27, Jane Seymour is increasingly desperate to marry and secure her place in the world. When the Court visits Wolf Hall, her family’s ancestral manor, Jane has the perfect opportunity to shine: her diligence, efficiency, and newfound poise are sure to attract a suitor.

Meanwhile, King Henry VIII is increasingly desperate for an heir. He changed his country’s religion to leave his first wife, a princess of Spain, for Anne Boleyn — but she too has failed to provide a son. As Henry begins to fear he is cursed, Jane Seymour’s honesty and innocence conjure in him the hope of redemption.

When Thomas Cromwell, an ambitious clerk whose political prowess keeps the king’s changing desires satisfied, sees in Jane Seymour the perfect answer to the unrest threatening England, he engineers a plot that ends with Jane becoming the King’s third wife. For Jane, who believes herself virtuous and her actions justified, miscarriages early in her marriage to the king shake her confidence. How can a woman who has committed no wrong bear the guilt of unseating her predecessor?

Excerpt:

November 1, 1536 … 11 a.m.

Jane had dismissed her ladies until supper. She didn’t want to hear their chatter. Truth be told, she didn’t want to hear Anne’s or Edward’s prattle either, but she had no choice. To dismiss them too would signal that something was wrong, inviting more of the gossip that constantly surrounded her. Especially this week, after her public shaming.

“It is stunning.” Anne Seymour Beauchamp looked down at the blood-red ruby ring the King had just given Jane to celebrate the news of the rebels’ capitulation and to reiterate his deep and everlasting love. Anne’s eyes glittered. “Just stunning.”

“Take it, it’s yours,” Jane declared, trying to pry the band off her finger without success.

Despite the excitement behind his wife’s eyes, Edward put a cautionary hand over Jane’s. “No, no, Jane. It is yours. It is a magnificent gift from your loving husband. You must wear it proudly to show his forgiveness.”

His forgiveness. She was the one who needed to forgive. Her deep regret over her action had quickly ceded to hurt over her husband’s outburst – an emotion she couldn’t show to him, as it would only inflame him and drive them further apart. Penitence was the only acceptable reaction in this situation.

“I prefer my betrothal ring, a more honest ruby,” she said. “This one once belonged to the woman I wronged. It makes my skin crawl.”

“The Boleyn never wore such a ring,” Anne said, then quickly rushed to add, “And you never wronged her.”

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * KOBO

Thanks for sharing your experience and inspiration, Janet! I’m sure your stories benefit from your approach to storytelling and your enthusiasm for the time period.

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 Sheila Myers #author #professor #American #historical #fiction #histfic #books

My guest today brings her professional skills to her historical fiction. Please help me welcome Sheila Myers to the interview seat! Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll get to know her better.

Sheila Myers is a Professor at Cayuga Community College in Upstate NY where she teaches aquatic science, ecology and coordinates the Honors Study program.

Myers began writing a trilogy on the family of the robber baron, Dr. Thomas C. Durant, after spending time at one of the Adirondack Great Camps built by his son William, on Raquette Lake, NY. She has published a trilogy: Imaginary Brightness (2015); Castles in the Air (2016); and The Night is Done (2017). The Night is Done won the Adirondack Center for Writing Best Book of Fiction (2017) and a starred Kirkus Review (2020). Using her skills as a scientist, Myers’ curiosity has taken her to numerous libraries and museums in the United States and England, tracking down new information about the infamous Gilded Age family. Her research journey is chronicled on the website http://wwdurantstory.com

Website * Twitter * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Sheila: Several years ago

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

Sheila: I have been working on my writing skills as I go. You never stop learning, right? I did not get a degree in writing but instead have honed my craft through practice. I’ve written over seven novels. A few are out on submission and a few still sit on my computer laptop. In addition, I have attended several workshops on craft and the industry.

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

Shelia: Ernest Hemingway at first but then I realized how stilted his language is if you don’t have the finesse. I really enjoy anything by Ann Patchett.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Sheila: I have been writing in journals for years and always wanted to write a novel. One day at my book club meeting a friend said, why don’t you just start writing then? So I did. I spent one summer writing every day until I had a 65k word novel – it was my first novel titled Ephemeral Summer, a contemporary coming of age story with ecological themes. I didn’t tell anyone I wrote it and I self-published it in 2014.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Shelia: I enjoy the flow. When I sit down to write and the world melts around me and I lose track of time I have had a good day.

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

Shelia: I have attended a lot of craft workshops both online and in person (pre-Covid days). Writer’s Digest Conferences, Historical Novel Society Conference, Iowa Writers Workshops (online), Mystery Writers Association Conference, and Women Fiction Writers Association webinars.

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

Shelia: Not to listen to everyone’s advice to the point of confusion because many times you find contradictory advice about writing. You need to find your own voice.

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

Shelia: Ann Patchett, Geraldine Brooks.

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

Shelia: The Durant Family Saga is about a famous New York family that pioneered the Adirondack Wilderness. While I was writing the first book in the trilogy I discovered that the patriarch “Doc Durant” was a main character in the TV series Hell on Wheels. I hadn’t realized until I started researching his life how instrumental he was in developing the Transcontinental Railroad. The Durant family saga is comparable to a soap opera. I could not make up their life stories if I tried. There is bankruptcy, divorce, affairs, lawsuits over inheritance, jealousy, greed, and tyranny. It is a Gilded Age TV series like the modern day TV show Dallas. I’m pitching the story to agents now for a TV series calling it Downton Abbey meets Hell on Wheels for a possible sequel to Hell on Wheels.

It’s 1931, William West Durant and his sister Ella, heirs to a bygone fortune, are in the last decade of their lives and contemplating their legacy. William returns to visit the estate he once possessed in the Adirondacks to speak with the current owner, copper magnate Harold Hochschild, who is writing a history of the region and wants to include a biography of William. Simultaneously, Ella is visiting with an old family friend and former lover, Poultney Bigelow, journalist with Harper’s Magazine, who talks her into telling her own story.

William recounts the height of his glory, after his father’s death in 1885 when he takes control of the Adirondack railroad assets, travels the world in his yacht and dines with future kings. However, his fortune takes a turn during the Financial Panic of 1893 amid accusations of adultery and cruelty.

Ella’s tale begins when she returned from living abroad to launch a lawsuit against her brother for her fair share of the Durant inheritance. The court provides a stage for the siblings to tear each other’s reputation apart: William for his devious business practices and failure to steward the Durant land holdings, and Ella for her unconventional lifestyle. Based on actual events, and historic figures, The Night is Done is a Gilded Age tale about the life altering power of revenge, greed, and passion.

Excerpt:

Chapter One
Eagle’s Nest, Adirondacks 1931
Harold Hochschild

I came upon him, standing in my garden overlooking the lake. His silhouette reminded me of a young tree without its leaves, tall and lean, bowed in places from the wind. He was staring into the distance at the frothy white caps, or perhaps the two loons bobbing up and down on top of them.

I thought he might be lost, or maybe a father of one of the workmen or servants. I called to him, he turned toward me and I walked closer to ask what or who he was looking for. As I approached he swept his arms to encompass the acres of woods and cabins of Eagle’s Nest and said, “I used to own all this.”

It was William West Durant.

Stunned, I lost my sense of propriety and forgot to reach for his hand in greeting. He extended his and I took it in mine. Finally I said, “Forgive me, I was expecting you tomorrow.”

He eyed me quizzically and a frightened look came over him. “I hired a cab at the station. I may have gotten my dates mixed up. That happens sometimes. Your caretaker said he would tell you I arrived.”

“And that he did,” I said, although I never was told; I’d been taking my morning walk and hadn’t spoken to any of my staff. “It’s quite likely I got the date down wrong myself,” I said to allay his embarrassment.

I led William to the porch of the building he had constructed long ago, the one my father acquired in 1904 along with the land and passed on to me and my siblings. We each sat down on the porch, quietly contemplating what to say next. Finally, he turned to me.

“I understand you want to learn more about me and the homes I built here in the Adirondacks.”

I nodded. “I’m writing a history of the region and speaking with you was at the top of my list.”

“Yes. Indeed.” Pleased to hear this, he crossed one long leg over the other and settled back in his chair. It came to me that this was a man entirely comfortable with his surroundings. There was no awkwardness or doubt over his position with me. Although, he had no airs about him.

He coughed and his shoulders shook.

“Are you cold?” I asked.

“Slightly,” he admitted.

“Well let’s go inside then. I have coffee waiting. Will you join me?”

He smiled appreciatively and followed me into the great house.

We went into my library and I observed him out of the corner of my eye as he sipped his coffee, restraining myself from peppering him with the many questions I had. He was wearing a beige suit made of fine linen from another era, the lapel of his jacket too large to be modern. I noticed the frayed cuffs on his well-tailored pants. Even so, he had once had impeccable taste in clothing.

I was reminded of a recent visit to a camp nearby that was on the auction block. The owners had passed away and their descendants wanted nothing to do with it. Knowing the previous owners’ propensity to hire local carpenters to build hand-crafted furniture, I thought I might be able to pick up a few pieces for the guest rooms at Eagle’s Nest. When we entered the camp, probably built in the 1890s, furniture was strewn about the main parlor for viewers, dust clinging to everything like old memories. My eye was drawn to an armoire in the corner. It was a handsome piece made of maple, and stately in an unadorned fashion; a piece that would serve its purpose with pride no matter what situation or arrangement it found itself flung into. The façade was unscathed by time. Even with the slight dings and scratches to its exterior, it remained dignified.

I cleared my throat. “Would you mind if I retrieve my notes? There are many things I want to ask you but my memory will work much better if I can read my notes.”

His shoulders relaxed. “Of course,” he said. He knew what I wanted from him because he had been asked so many times before: A personal account of how he went from one of the wealthiest land owners in the region to a clerk in a hotel.

Buy links: Books2Read * Amazon

Thanks for stopping in today, Sheila! Your book sounds like a fascinating read and I hope many will read it. Any takers?

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Amanda Jayde #author #spicy #paranormal #romance #mustread #fiction #books

We start writing stories because we have stories to tell. Those stories can begin from a huge array of sources. Amanda Jayde is my guest today and her stories stemmed from what may be a surprising source for some. Ready to meet Amanda?

Amanda Jayde has been telling stories for years. Urged on by one of her close friends, she entered an erotic story competition sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine and much to her surprise she became a finalist and her dream of becoming published was born.

She left her hometown of The Bronx, NY, to move to a decidedly warmer climate and slower lifestyle in a small town in Florida. She usually has one story completed, one in various stages of completion, and one or two in her head, and when she’s not writing you can find her curled up with a book.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Amanda: I started writing fan fiction waaaaay back in the early 2000’s that was when a friend told me about a contest Romantic Times was having for short stories. I had always played with the idea of trying to get published and with a little push entered the contest. I became a finalist and attended my first convention. That was 2004 or so. I continued to toil away at it and got my first book published in 2010.

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

Amanda: YEARS. LOL, I am still working on it.

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

Amanda: All of the books I’ve published have been paranormal and I love Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Marie Moning, JR Ward in that genre.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Amanda: I loved to read as a kid, and that helped me want to tell stories. I started with fan fic because I loved the idea of what if. The feedback I received there made me want to write my own stories.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Amanda: LOL, fan fiction – it was western fan fiction which is so far away from what I currently write. I may one day go back to those old stories and rewrite them maybe release them as free reads.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Amanda: I do love Paranormal, you can make your world as close to reality as you want or build a new fantastical version of it. It’s fun to take these established character types and make them your own. Plus I love making people fall in love.

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

Amanda: I took a class a long time ago that Barnes and Nobel offered for writing and then I bought craft books and read a LOT. I still will buy books on writing because I think you can always learn to be better.

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

Amanda: How crazy it can make you. Trying to find that perfect blurb, the right cover, slaving over each decision you have to make on top of finding the time to write. It’s maddening, but I love it.

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

Amanda: Sherrilyn Kenyon was a big inspiration, I met her a few times and she was always so supportive when we spoke. There are lots of fantastic writers on Twitter that are also supportive in general – Romancelandia can be a great place to live in.

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

Amanda: I wrote a short story for a charity anthology (which is now released as part of this series) and there was a throwaway line in there about the heroine’s cousin who’s been cursed and I thought I would reeeeeeally like to tell her story someday, so I did a quick plot and shelved it to work on my shifter books (which are currently unavailable). Then about 18 months ago a new opportunity to join a collective of authors popped up to write common elements themed stories and I thought I could use my witch idea, turns out that due to the parameters for that story I couldn’t so instead I used my common elements book to start the series and that led to this one so here we are!

Emily Caswell has secrets. Witches, curses, death–she’s lived with them all, but the one thing she’s wanted above all else is the one thing she can’t have. Love. She thought her life was just fine if a little lonely, but if this was the price to pay, she could accept it. Until the one person who held her heart, the boy she once loved, returns.

Ex-Navy SEAL Greyson Caulfield is coming home. Forced to retire after an injury, he is returning to civilian life. Back to his family, his best friends, and to face the one that got away. His one regret in life was how things ended with Emily, but now that he’s back maybe he can set things right again.

When love means courting death can these star-crossed lovers find a way to be together? And if death doesn’t drive them apart, then the secrets Emily is keeping just might.

Excerpt:

For the first time since realizing he was back, Emily allowed herself to get a good look at him. He’d always been tall, he’d grown to six-foot-four by the time he’d graduated high school, but now he seemed even bigger. Not taller, just broader, his time as a SEAL had bulked him up, the muscles outlined beneath his thin royal blue tee-shirt evidence of that. The decade away had matured him. There was a hardness to his features she’d never expected to see, but as he looked down at her, she saw a glimpse of the boy she’d loved within the man he’d become. It was there in the softness of his gaze and the slight upturn of his lips.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” She said quietly. Thankful that her voice didn’t quiver.

“It’s been over ten years, Em, are you still angry about what happened on prom night?”

“You broke my heart, Grey, made me feel like a complete idiot. You betrayed me. Can you blame me for not wanting to rehash the past?” She said, jumping at the chance to push him away no matter how ridiculous her reasoning was. She needed to get away until she could find some time to put all of this and what it meant into perspective.

He seemed surprised by her admission. “I see.” He stepped away from her car. “Don’t let me keep you then.”

Emily looked down the street Grey had gone. For eleven years, she’d been free from the fear that their love would cause her death, and now that he was back, what could this all mean?

Buy links: Eden BooksBooks2Read

I’ll bet there’s some fireworks about to happen in Bewitched! Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Anna St. Claire #author #historical #romance #mystery #regency

My guest today is a lifetime writer and now novelist. Please help me welcome Anna St. Claire! Let’s get to know her from her bio and then see what she has to say about her inspiration for writing.

Anna St. Claire is a big believer that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. She sprinkles her stories with laughter, romance, mystery and lots of possibilities, adhering to the belief that goodness and love will win the day.

Anna is both an avid reader and author of American and British historical romance. She and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two dogs and often, their two beautiful granddaughters, who live nearby. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, and Mimi—all life roles that Anna St. Claire relishes and feels blessed to still enjoy. And she loves her pets – dogs and cats alike.

Anna relocated from New York to the Carolinas as a child. Her mother, a retired English and History teacher, always encouraged Anna’s interest in writing, after discovering short stories she would write in her spare time.

As a child, she loved mysteries and checked out every Encyclopedia Brown story that came into the school library. Before too long, her fascination with history and reading led her to her first historical romance—Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, now a treasured, but weathered book from being read multiple times. The day she discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss’ books, Shanna and Ashes in The Wind, Anna became hooked. She read every historical romance that came her way and dreams of writing her own historical romances took seed.

Today, her focus is primarily the Regency and Civil War eras, although Anna enjoys almost any period in American and British history.

Website * BookBub * Facebook * Amazon

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Anna: I started writing as a child and majored in journalism as an undergraduate. When I owned my medical spa, I learned all about all the procedures through research and wrote a weekly column for the paper regarding skin care. After that, I decided to pursue my writing dream – to publish a book. Authoring a book had always been on my list of things I wanted to accomplish, long having had a Civil War romance in my head. (Embers of Anger, Book one in my Embattled Hearts Series). I’m pretty hooked on Regency Era books and am now writing my seventh and eighth regency stories.

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

Anna: I majored in writing, so it’s always been second nature to me. However, my dissertation on wellness and preventive strategies was my first publication. (Yea…not a story I spend a lot of time reading, myself.) Yet, with a background in journalism, I had to change my writing style when I decided to write a historical romance. I worked almost a year and a half on the first novel, Embers of Anger, before finally getting serious and publishing it in 2018. I am still really proud of that series. The second one is halfway finished. (There will be three in all.)

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

Anna: I loved all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s stories, especially Ashes in The Wind. I think I’ve read that one at least five times—however, not as much as Gone With the Wind, which I have read a dozen times. There are too many historical romance authors that I enjoy to name. They know who they are, though.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Anna: It was kind of like the Forrest Gump story – when he started running. One day I started writing. I hope to write much longer than he ran, though. <snort> I enjoy creating characters and their stories, and find myself lost in sketching a story out or working on one.

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

Anna: I have several people to thank for this. I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy, but my mother was an English teacher in middle school. She more than anyone influenced my interest and skill in writing. Mom helped me learn how papers were put together, and taught me to plot, character sketch, and write from the heart. My mother still writes and has a wonderful conversational writing technique.

One other influential person was probably my English teacher in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Yes, it was a small school of 500 students and she taught me all three years…how lucky was that? It was a good thing I liked her! One regret I have is that she didn’t live to see me actually write a book and publish it. She died of complications from Breast Cancer about ten years ago.

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

Anna: I wish I had a better grasp and more patience for the marketing techniques. That has been my biggest hurdle. And it is a work in progress.

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

Anna: There was one in particular – Elizabeth Johns. She is the one who pushed me off the ledge and made me do it. She still supports and encourages my writing.  Others that have been particularly encouraging and supportive have been Madeline Martin, Meara Platt, and Laura Smith.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today? Anna: This is one of those books that when I started writing it, it just sort of took off. The characters wrote much of it for me. I enjoyed it because it gave me license to write the historical with modern day dilemmas. I used my own puppy as a secondary character. Shep is on the cover. I love to use my beloved pets, as well as other animals like donkeys, parrots, and horses in the stories.

Maggie Winters had everything she always wished for — betrothed to the man of her dreams, a loving home, and a new puppy. But it all changes when her parents die and her new guardian sweeps Maggie from town and forces her to marry a stranger to pay his debts. When she suddenly finds herself a widow and free of an unhappy marriage, can she finally find the love she’s dreamed of?  

Lord Maxwell Wilde still loves Maggie Winters, despite his years abroad in service to the Crown. They had planned to marry until she disappeared from his life, leaving only a scribbled note in her wake. Returning home late from an assignment in the middle of a sudden storm, he finds a badly injured woman lying in the road. He saves her only to realize he has rescued the woman he had never forgotten. 

Hearts are in play as danger beckons them into a treacherous game. Do they dare grab a second chance at love?

Excerpt:

Thunder boomed above him. A second later, a sharp crack of lightning lit up the dark sky. Gripping the reins of his horse, Maxwell Wilde, Earl of Worsley, fought to stay seated as his mare reared and struggled. The lightning illuminated a woman lying in the road just ahead. Had the lightning not struck, he most certainly would not have seen her.

The scant light showed a small-framed woman curled into a fetal position, wearing a soiled blue dress. A small shaggy white dog pawed her arm, whimpering and licking her face. Large drops of rain pelted both of them but did not affect the dog’s loyal persistence.

“Whoa, Willow.” Max slid from his mount and walked over to the woman. At his approach, the dog at once became protective, giving a guttural growl. It forced Max to stop and rethink his goal.

“Easy, boy.” He lowered his hand to the dog and allowed him to sniff it. The dog stopped growling and eased himself down, curling his furry white body next to the woman’s head—protecting her—still whimpering and licking her face. Max took a deep breath, careful not to anger the dog and not wanting to injure it. The dog was unmistakably attached to the woman. Feeling more confident the dog would not attack him, he lowered himself onto his haunches to get a better look at the woman.

Gently, he swept wet, muddied blonde tresses from her face. Recognition was swift and tumultuous. “Bloody hell! Meg, what happened? Why are you out in this storm, of all places? Why are you here?” Questions flooded his brain. He fought the gut-wrenching impulse to pull her close. When she did not answer, he picked up a limp hand and noticed rope burns around her left wrist, anger registering. “You are bleeding.” He moved her damp blonde hair away from her forehead, revealing a deep gash from which blood still oozed. Fear gripped him. He stared at her motionless body until he saw her chest barely move. Good. She was breathing. “Thank goodness you are still alive.”

Her eyes opened and closed. Her throat worked, but she did not speak. She needed a doctor. Max needed to get her to safety and leave before she engaged his heart yet again.

He had washed his hands of Maggie Winters when she ran away and abruptly married the Earl of Tipton three years past—when she and Max were planning to wed. Anger churned in his gut as he thought about the day he found out, and it renewed his confusion, pain, and anger. She had disappeared without a word—merely a scribbled note delivered to him. Without thinking, he reached inside his waistcoat pocket and touched the folded missive. No one had heard from Maggie in years.

Buy links: Amazon

The Earl She Left Behind is free on KU.

There you have it! What a cool story, too. Thanks for sharing, Anna!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Judy Mollen Walters #author #womensfiction #amreading #books

My guest author today is a writer who tackles some difficult issues within her stories in order to help others cope or understand them. Please welcome Judy Mollen Walters! Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll dive in.

Judy Walters is the author of eight novels. Her latest is The Lies You Want to Hear. She writes about strong women who are struggling either with their own or a family member’s medical or difficult life issue. She is also an essayist who writes about her family, parenting, and writing in publications such as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, theweek, SheKnows, and many others. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and enjoys when her adult children come for visits.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Judy: I’ve always been a writer, since I was a young girl. I think it all solidified in fourth grade when I overheard a teacher telling my father I was gifted in this area.

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

Judy: I wrote four crappy novels that I will never show ANYONE, which was my “practice”. The fifth time was the charm for me, and that became my “first” book.

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

Judy: Jodi Picoult, Lisa Genova

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Judy: An idea came to me one day when my younger daughter was 3 and in preschool three days a week. I started using that time for writing. (That daughter is now 22.)

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Judy: Short stories and essays.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Judy: Novels, because I never know where the character is going to lead me. 😊

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

Judy: I had a really good editor who sat me down and said that my novel was only half finished and I needed to learn to write a different way. She walked me through the steps and finally, I had a good book!

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

Judy: How hard it is to get published.

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

Judy: Really, it was just something I always did, so while I have authors whose work I really enjoy, none of them really were that inspiration because I was already doing it.

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

Judy: This novel is about a mother of a six-year-old who is struggling with anorexia and bulimia. While I don’t have an eating disorder, I do have disordered eating, which means I don’t eat properly for fear of gaining weight, or I eat too much or too little or in an odd way. I was wondering what it would be like to have an actual, serious eating disorder. Most people see eating disorders as something teenage girls have, and although of course the condition is prevalent in that age group, most people don’t realize that adults can have it, too. I want people to know about those adults who are struggling.

Busy wife and mom Dani Goldberg lives in a secret world that’s threatening to collapse around her.

In THE LIES YOU WANT TO HEAR, it’s the world of eating disorders, and as much as she doesn’t want to be there, she can’t force herself to run away from it.

She’s also a volunteer coping with her role as PTO President while she tries to become pregnant with her second child. With every stressful day, she falls more deeply into her disordered eating world.

Her sister Jess wants to save her, but she doesn’t quite know how. She’s busy, too – as a lawyer and single mother. And those things need to be priorities. But so does Dani. As she watches her sister die a little more each day, she wonders how she’s going to save Dani from herself.

But in the end, it will all be up to Dani. Can she do it? Or will she fall off the cliff altogether, leaving everything she loves – her husband, daughter, sister and nephew – behind.

Excerpt:

Dani looked at the clock as the meeting wore on. School would be out in a few minutes, and Madison would be furious if Dani wasn’t there on time. She tried to listen to Mrs. Jennings.

“So you’ll be able to come set up Reading Night beforehand?” Mrs. Jennings asked. “I know that breaks into time with your family. I’m so sorry.” She looked genuinely concerned. The principal was like that. She cared about everyone, and she wanted them to be happy. Dani looked around the small office. There were a couple of plants and flowers on her desk and on the floor – gifts from parents trying to get in her good graces.  Her desk was a mess of papers, her computer, and God knows what else. Dani was lucky that Mrs. Jennings let her be in here at all.

“Okay,” Dani said. “I’ll do it.” She smiled at Mrs. Jennings and took the last bite of her cupcake. It had started out delicious, but her stomach sort of roiled when she thought about the calories in it. She couldn’t not eat it, though. Mrs. Jennings had given it to her especially.

“I have to go,” she said, jumping up, feeling her hips jiggle. “The bell is going to ring.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Jennings said. “Give Madi a hug for me, and here let me give you one, too.” She came around from her side of the desk and hugged Dani, and that made everything better.  She thought Mrs. Jennings might love her.  That would be nice, she thought as she floated out of the office. 

Buy link: Amazon

It can be difficult to know which authors influenced a writer because most writers I know read widely. It’s not a single voice so much as the collective expectations of specific genres that influences.

Thanks for stopping in today, Judy!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Linda Covella #awardwinning #author #teen #YA #romance #fiction #historical #amreading #books

Please help me welcome Linda Covella, author of children’s and young adult stories, to the interview hot seat! Let’s look at her impressive bio and then get right to the good stuff.

Linda Covella’s varied background and education (an AA degree in art, an AS degree in mechanical drafting & design, a BS degree in Manufacturing Management, and a technical writing certificate) have led her down many paths and enriched her life experiences. But one thing she never strayed from is her love of writing.
Linda has published four award-winning novels for teens and a non-fiction picture book.She has been a member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) since 2002. She lives in Santa Cruz with her husband, Charlie, and very spoiled dog, Ginger. No matter what new paths Linda may travel down, she sees her writing as a lifelong joy and commitment.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * YouTube

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Linda: Even as a kid, I loved to write. But I never thought of writing as a career. Instead, I ended up with a few degrees—art, business, mechanical drafting, manufacturing management—while I decided what I wanted to do with my life. When I started writing professionally as a freelancer, I wrote about food, business, finance, just about anything that came my way. But when I wrote and published articles in some children’s magazines, that’s when I realized children’s writing is the genre for me.

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

Linda: I took elective creative writing classes in college. Around 2000, I became serious about professional writing and started doing freelance work while working my regular fulltime job. For the next several years, I took online writing classes and started working on my fiction writing. My freelance writing turned into some editing jobs. And I read, read, read: books on writing and novels in all genres, but particularly books for kids and teens since they were my target audience. It was a long road of learning, querying, and rejections, but I didn’t give up! I published my first novel in 2014.

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

Linda: That’s always a tough question to answer since I read a wide variety of genres and have read hundreds (thousands?) of books since I was young. Here’s a list of some of my all-time favorite books, a mixture of children’s and adult:

  • A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli
  • Bell Canto by Ann Patchett
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
  • The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
  • Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
  • Coraline by Neil Gaiman
  • The Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Linda: My mother was a big influence. She was a children’s librarian, an artist, and loved music and singing. She not only gave me my love of books and reading, but taught me to embrace all things creative. So I had that creative bug. I started out in college as an art major, but turned to other pursuits; I knew making a living as an artist would be difficult! I still had art as a hobby, and later turned my creativity toward writing, another creative outlet.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Linda: I was writing stories even in 2nd grade J and into high school. I liked writing fantasies and fairytales, but am not interested in that genre now. Professionally, as a freelancer, I started with articles on a wide variety of topics. I always loved historical fiction, and that was the genre I chose for my first novel, Yakimali’s Gift. I followed those with my Ghost Whisperer books and my virtual reality adventure Cryptogram Chaos.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Linda: As I mentioned above, I love being creative, and writing is one outlet for that. But, also, as a children’s author, I love sharing with kids and teens my love of books: the worlds they open, the things they teach, the feelings they express.

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

Linda: My lifelong love of reading has definitely been a factor in my learning to write. I took creative writing classes in college, as well as online writing classes throughout my career.

I also read craft books. Some favorites are On Writing by Stephen King, On Writing Well by William Zinsser, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Take Joy by Jane Yolen, Story by Robert McKee, which is actually about screenwriting but can be applied to fiction writing.

The Emotion Thesaurus is an excellent resource on how to convey emotion without resorting to clichés. And of course the classic reference Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.

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

Linda: How important a critique group is. For the longest time, I was reluctant to join one, nervous and shy about sharing my work. Finally, I and another writer I met in an online children’s writing class started a critique group with four other children’s writers. That was one of the best things I’ve ever done to improve my writing. I not only learned from their critiques of my work, but also learned by critiquing theirs. We were all newbies, so we also helped each other to learn the ropes of the business side of writing, querying, etc. As well as learning to not take criticism and rejection personally, but to learn from it.

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

Linda: Years ago, I wrote a children’s story where kids tell how their ancestors came to America throughout the history of the United States. When researching how and when different immigrants arrived in America, I discovered the Anza expedition. I was really surprised I’d never heard of it before or that it hadn’t been taught in school, especially since I grew up in California. I love and believe in our country’s diversity, and this was one of the historical events I wanted people to know about, and I wanted to focus on the children’s and women’s experience on the journey.

In 1775 Mexico, New Spain, 15-year-old Fernanda Marquina, of Spanish and Pima Indian ancestry, can’t seem to fit into the limited female roles of her culture. Fernanda grabs any opportunity to ride the horses she loves, dreaming of adventure in faraway lands. But when a tragic accident presents her with the adventure she longed for, it’s at a greater price than she could ever have imagined. With her family, Fernanda joins Juan Bautista de Anza’s historic colonization expedition to California.

On the four-month journey, Fernanda makes friends with Feliciana, the young widow Fernanda entrusts with her deepest thoughts; Gloria, who becomes the sister Fernanda always wished for; and Gloria’s seductive brother Miguel, gentle one moment, angry the next and, like Fernanda, a mestizo—half Indian and half Spanish. As Fernanda penetrates Miguel’s layers of hidden feelings, she’s torn between him and Nicolas, the handsome soldier pursuing her.

But propelling Fernanda along the journey is her search for Mama’s Pima Indian past, a past Mama refused to talk about, a past with secrets that Fernanda is determined to learn. The truths she discovers will change the way she sees her ancestry, her family, and herself.

Excerpt:

Fernanda pressed her heels into the horse’s sides. “Faster, pretty one, faster. We want to feel the wind in our hair, no?”

The horse flicked its ears then galloped across the plain toward the river, kicking up stones from the hard ground. Fernanda leaned closer to the horse’s neck, her long braid slipping over her shoulder. The animal’s smell of grassy manure and sweat filled her with the thrill of riding. It had been too long.

Her body rocked forward and back with the rhythm of the pounding hooves. Water streaked from her eyes as she raced across the desert, dodging barrel cactuses and mesquite bushes. Her rebozo loosened and slipped to her shoulders; then the shawl untied completely and was gone. Fernanda glanced over her shoulder and saw it flutter to the ground. A laugh burst from her chest, and watching a hawk glide, dive, and then fly high into the sky, she thought, I feel as free as that bird!

The power of the horse flowed through her, charging her with the desire for adventure, her heart soaring beyond Tubac to worlds far away, worlds full of golden riches, handsome men, and green hills that rolled on forever. Worlds where she would ride, explore, and each day discover something new.

Before realizing how far she’d gone, she saw her family’s adobe hut. She tightened the reins, stopped the horse, and squinted toward the house. Her soaring heart dropped like the hawk diving to the ground. There, in front of the hut with her hands on her hips, stood her mother. Fernanda braced herself against the scowl she was sure to see on Mama’s face when she returned. The scolding words she was sure to hear.

Buy Links:  Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  IndieBound

What a fresh idea for a story, Linda! I think young readers will really identify with Fernanda as she faces her mother’s chiding. Thanks for sharing that excerpt and telling us about your inspiration for writing.

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.