Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I have two excellent cooks who are going to have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). So that means I got to choose some 19th century recipes to try out, which of course means adapting and tweaking them to something my husband and I might enjoy. Let’s start with the older cook’s menu, shall we?

Sheridan Drake plans to serve Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Huckleberries, Polenta with cheese, Watercress salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and creamed corn. So I decided to make most of his menu for dinner recently. All except the creamed corn which I know my husband and I do not enjoy. The results were mixed. The duck and the salad were excellent! The polenta? Fail! The recipe I used overstated the water requirement so I ended up with soup instead of polenta. Even after cooking it for 2 hours we couldn’t begin to eat it. I may try again, maybe.

Picture of plated meal: Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce, Watercress Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and leftover tortellini with Alfredo sauce as a replacement for my failed attempt at polenta…

But I do want to share the duck and the salad recipes so you can try them, too. Today, duck breast is expensive to buy at the grocery. I was surprised to find that my local Publix actually carried them frozen. Back when this recipe was created, though, you simply went hunting for ducks so they were not costly at all back then. The original recipe calls for huckleberries, but since I couldn’t find those easily I substituted blueberries which are apparently similar.

I chose the watercress salad and vinaigrette from the menu of a tavern-style dinner my husband and I went to in 2019 which was a reenactment of the dinner Huntsville, Alabama, threw for President Monroe when he surprised the city with a visit in June of 1819, months before statehood. Watercress is something that Alabama is known for, so I knew it would be included in my book as well. The salad at the dinner included goat cheese and blackberries, with an elderberry and molasses vinaigrette. I was delighted to find a bag of watercress at my Publix, too. All washed and ready to use. I had bought some grated parmesan and romano cheese to use in the failed polenta, so I used that instead of goat cheese (again, it’s not our favorite), and some of the blueberries from the sauce for the duck. The nI just used some of our favorite salad toppings to finish the individual salads.

I located a recipe for molasses vinaigrette at bettycrocker.com and then followed it except I used Dijon mustard instead of coarsely ground mustard. The resulting dressing is delicious, too!

Here are the successful recipes based on what I actually did instead of the original ones. If you try them, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!

Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 duck breasts, bone out, with skin
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper, ground
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 2 shallots diced
  • ½ cup port wine
  • ½ cup beef stock, unsalted
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries

Instructions
Score the skin on the duck breasts. Sprinkle both sides with garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat the broiler with rack in the top third of the oven. Using nonstick saute pan, melt 1 T butter and olive oil until froth subsides. Brown the duck breasts skin side down; do not turn. Reserve the saute pan and its oils. Place breasts in oven safe pan and broil 7-10 minutes, until flesh is opaque. Remove and reserve breasts in warm place.

Using the saute pan, add the shallots, port wine, and stock to deglaze the pan on high heat, until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add the blueberries and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve the sauce over the duck breasts.

Watercress Salad

  • Fresh watercress leaves
  • Sliced radishes
  • Pecan pieces
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Shredded cheese

Place about 1 cup of leaves in each individual bowl. Top with a few sliced radishes, pecans, blueberries, and add a sprinkle of cheese.

Molasses Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 T Dijon Mustard
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • ½ t black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until well blended.

Enjoy! Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, 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.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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A Look Back and Ahead #histfic #historical #paranormal #romance #supernatural #fiction #books #mustread #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. My mother, too. Mainly because I finally got around to sorting out what my dad kept in two footlockers. I found a lot of interesting papers and photos that I’ll need to deal with one way or another. I’m looking forward to what family history I’ll glean from several new sets of letters, for instance. But overall, the experience has me thinking about my own history and future.

To date, I have written and published 28 print books, and have 5 audiobooks in the works. One of those, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel novella to the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, is already available for your listening pleasure. I’m working on the third book in the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series, Desperate Reflections, which I plan to release later this spring. Bringing my total published fiction to 29. I don’t count my audiobooks as separate titles, but additional formats for those titles.

That count does not include my and my husband’s joint contribution of chapters in Macmillan’s series on how to use dBase V back in 1995. We had chapters in four different books. That was my only computer software book related writing/editing I’ve done, though I have worked as a technical writer/editor documenting how to use software for various companies as a freelancer. I also worked as a freelance technical writer/editor and then as a full-time employee of SAIC supporting the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for several years.

My dad was very proud of me when I achieved my goal of being a published book author with the release of the first edition of Hometown Heroines in 2001. He couldn’t even read the book, though, for the tears of joy he shed when he held the book in his hands. I had been published prior to that momentous event in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines multiple times. I even had my own column, The Sandwich Generation, where I shared stories about life with two kids and my elderly father living with me and my husband.

While I am not a blockbuster author, I am pleased with my backlist of stories to share with readers. The A More Perfect Union series was my first, and it’s set in one of my favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution and the occupation of the city by the British. The Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series is set in a fictional town that is based on the small town I lived near while I wrote it: Fayetteville, Tennessee. This series is my first series that includes witches and ghosts, and I had such fun writing it! There are two standalone historical fiction novels as well, Becoming Lady Washington and Notes of Love and War. Both of those released during the pandemic in 2020 (June and July, respectively) to great reviews. And now I’m working my way through the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series which is set near where I live now, Huntsville, Alabama, featuring a haunted roadside inn and its resident ghost and witches and magic. Getting to know the history of the state of Alabama has been a bonus as I’ve researched life here in 1821. You can read excerpts of each of my books at www.bettybolte.com/books.

What’s next? The first thing I’m going to do is finish the Fury Falls Inn series, which entails writing three more stories to finish the family’s tale. I’ve been pondering putting my colonial adapted recipes into a cookbook. I’ve considered writing a book on writing based on all that I’ve learned over the years. I want to finish writing Dolley Madison’s story, too. A Civil War Christmas story is on the back burner but may be moved up later this year. Then there’s an American Revolution trilogy I’ve been thinking of spinning off from the AMPU series. What do you think I should do after I finish the FFI series next year? Suggestions? Requests?

But one thing I do know for certain. I need to finish going through and cataloguing my dad’s papers and photos and deciding which are of historical value and worthy of donation to a museum. Which should be preserved in albums for future generations of my family. What family history needs to be saved into the family tree I started decades ago and need to update. I have far more projects than time!

My priority, though, is writing the best story I can for my readers. I thank you for reading! Now I need to get to work…

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.

In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal…

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser–a former beau–promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer–the only man she’s ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family’s reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

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To Market, To Market in 1821 Huntsville #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

Sometimes research happens without any planning on my part. A couple of years ago I went to downtown Huntsville to visit the owner of a unique local bookstore. I merely wanted to introduce myself as a local author and ask him to carry my books in the store. But I came away with something much more useful and interesting!

Shaver’s Bookstore is located in the Railroad Station Antiques & Interiors store on the second floor. By the way, the antique store is in the historic Lombardo Building which is on the National Register of Historic Places, so I was happy to see what they had on display. Shaver’s carries an eclectic mix of titles, many from local or regional authors. However, most are nonfiction titles, so my fiction didn’t fit in like I had hoped.

My copy of Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823

While I was browsing, waiting for Mr. Shaver to finish helping a customer, I spotted a large sketch of Huntsville. The scene is of the downtown square in 1823, two years after the time period of my Fury Falls Inn historical supernatural fiction series. The sketch is the result of a historian researching the archives for descriptions of the buildings and streets of the city. There is actually an entire book, Civilization Comes to the Big Spring: Huntsville, Alabama 1823, written by the historian, Sarah Huff Fisk, to accompany the sketch. What a gold mine! I love coming across sources in a kind of surprise offering from the universe. I hadn’t yet started writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1) so this was welcome information to have.

Naturally, I bought both the book and a copy of the sketch. I refer to them both as I write the stories in the Fury Falls Inn series. In fact, the third book which I’m in the process of writing, Desperate Reflections, includes a scene at a store downtown and the market place. Both required referral to the text and the image to make sure I had my facts correct and could have Cassie and Flint going to the right places to purchase cloth and then foods.

Closeup of the sketch of the artist’s conception of downtown Huntsville in 1823.

I learned from Ms. Fisk that, “The store directly south of the inn was designated ‘No. 5 Cheapside’ in all the ads placed by its 1820 and 1821 occupant, P. Yeatman & Co., who not only offered for sale ‘Salt, Stripe Linseys, and Leghorn Bonnets,’ but reminded the public (who in those years following the closing of so many banks must have been very confused as to what money was good, if any) that their store operated an:

EXCHANGE – The subscriber continues to exchange Tennessee and Huntsville notes, and to allow the highest premium for GOLD AND SILVER. Drafts on the Eastward, New Orleans, and Natchez Notes.

Yeatman’s was located in one of the row houses at the bottom right in the picture.

As for the market, Ms. Fisk had a detailed section all about the Public Market House. She mentioned that Wednesdays and Saturdays were the usual market days, held in the 1817 building near the northwest corner of the courthouse. What might a shopper find at the market?

“Town residents in general welcomed the opportunity to buy fresh vegetables, fish, tame and wild fowls, lard, tallow, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, meal, honey, nuts, apples, pears, grapes, wild fruits or berries for preserving, freshly-butchered meat, wild game, and other items as the seasons changed.”

That’s quite a large variety, don’t you think? That list was very helpful for me because in Desperate Reflections there is a cooking competition and I needed to know what foods were available in the area in the early 19th century. In the picture, the market was located at the upper left in and around the two-story Market House.

It’s also fun to study the people and animals in the artist’s rendering of what life might have looked like back then. She included a great deal of details including the modes of transportation and games the kids played as well as the kinds of jobs and businesses.

Thanks in advance for your support and interest in my books. And as always, 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.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Inspiration for Writing a Series #amwriting #Alabama #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

For many people, especially non-writers, trying to understand where the inspiration for a story comes from can be a puzzle. But trying to grasp how to imagine an entire series of stories can be even harder. So I thought I’d share today how I maneuvered my thoughts to create the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of a historical marker I pass when I’m heading to one of my RWA chapter meetings. It’s beside a two-lane by-way in a small, historic town in north Alabama. The marker reads:

Valhermoso Springs

“Vale of Beauty”

The restorative qualities of the mineral springs here attracted settlement in the early 1800s. Variously known as Chunn Springs (after Lancelot Chunn) and Manning Springs (after Robert Manning), the spot was named for early developers of the resort where a hotel and surrounding cabins were erected between 1815 and 1823. By 1834, when the first post office was established, it was called White Sulphur Springs.

Jean Joseph Glers acquired the hotel and surrounding property in 1856, renaming it “Valhermoso Springs.” Into the 20th century, travelers from all over the world came to the hotel and springs seeking relief from rheumatism, insomnia, consumption, and ailments of the skin, kidneys, stomach, and liver. The hotel closed in the 1920s and was destroyed by tornado in 1950.

Historical marker for Valhermoso Springs, Alabama

Now, this sparked an idea for having a story set in a resort in the 1800s. I specifically chose 1821 because of two reasons. First, the timing worked to include the ancestral characters from my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, thus tying the two series together in a subtle way. (Did you catch that hint?) Second, I discovered that Alabama became a state in 1819 so my stories could include the early history of my adopted state. I imagined at first having the individual stories focus on different sets of romantic couples and how they came to the hotel, what conflicts they may have to overcome, etc. Something along the lines of the 1983-1888 TV series, Hotel, starring James Brolin and Connie Seleca. (Man, did I love that series!)

The more I thought about the idea, though, the more I wanted to combine my three favorite genres of fiction: historical, supernatural, and romance. I enjoy delving into the history of a place or people and then recreating the past within a story to help readers experience what that time or those people were like, what they had to face, the limitations on their options, etc. The supernatural elements—ghosts and magic—intrigue me since I’ve had experiences that cannot be logically or perhaps even scientifically explained. I’ve also been told about inexplicable happenings and sightings by others, friends and strangers alike. And finally, I believe in love and romance and hope everyone finds their version of happily ever after.

So, all these musings finally led me to wanting to write stories that take place in a haunted roadside inn, which became the Fury Falls Inn. (Note that a “fury” is another name for a “harsh, domineering woman” which fits Mercy Fairhope’s character perfectly.) I decided not to use an existing historical place because it can be limiting. For example, since I don’t know much about the real hotel in Valhermoso Springs, making it a haunted inn might cause some concern or offense to those people who live there. So instead I chose to invent an inn along Winchester Highway north of Huntsville, rather than southwest of that city. The falls and springs the inn features are purely fictional as well. But I liked the alliteration of Fury Falls and the subtle double entendre of the name.

The first book in the series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, is the story of how the inn became haunted and sets up the remaining stories’ conflicts and mysteries. The next several stories will feature Cassandra Fairhope’s brothers returning at her request and the surprise revelations they must face and adapt to. Book 2, Under Lock and Key, is now available and I’m writing book 3 to release in the spring of 2021.

Imagining the overarching story line for 6 books was a challenge, let me tell you! I’ve never planned out a 6-book series before. Now I have the fun of really getting to know each of the brothers and developing the story to weave their desires and needs toward a satisfying and unexpected conclusion in the last book. I’m not going to rush it, but I do hope to release books 3 and 4 next year, and 5 and 6 in 2022. Wish me luck!

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

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.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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How does your garden (fence) grow? #Alabama #research #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

When I started researching to write the Fury Falls Inn series, my husband and I visited Burritt on the Mountain in Huntsville, Alabama. This historic site reconstructs what houses and farms looked like in the 1800s, including from the beginnings of the state in the 1820s. That is the time period of my series, so I paid particular attention to the buildings and structures.

Fence enclosing what could be a corral or garden

I was impressed by the height and sturdiness of the fences around different areas. They looked strong enough to climb over without any fear of them collapsing. I decided to use a similar fence in my series to surround Cassie’s garden. Here’s a snippet that describes her garden and the fence protecting it in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (Book 1):


The rows of vegetables and flowers provided one kind of escape. She could lose herself while working with the soil, encouraging life from the rich dirt. Tending to the flowers. Raking the ground into mounds to plant seeds and bulbs. Pouring water on the new plants poking their green leaves up toward the sun and sky. Dragging the weeds out, roots and all. Cleaning up the debris and minding the tall, wooden-slatted deer fence and gate to keep them strong. With the large herds roaming the mountains and valleys, she’d had to resort to drastic measures to prevent them from eating her harvest.

The tall rail fence surrounding the sixty-foot square of ground had proved itself in keeping the deer on the right side of the fence. She’d had one of the stable hands fit rails tight together at the bottom to deter smaller critters like rabbits and possums from eating on her young plants. Not that they frequently ventured so close to the busy inn with its passel of dogs, but it would only take once to destroy all her hard work and make Sheridan’s job much more difficult. The other reason she enjoyed working in the garden stemmed from the fact her ma didn’t much cotton to working in the dirt, so Cassie could escape her criticism for a time.


You’ll notice that I modified what the fictional structure looks like as opposed to what is in the pictures because I think that’s what I would have done were it my garden. (Not that I’m a gardener, but I have worked with plants.)

Cassie’s garden is very important to her sense of well-being, so it appears in every book in this series.

Book 2 is Under Lock and Key and releases tomorrow, October 6, 2020. Early reader reviews have been very positive, one fan stating “I couldn’t put it down.”

If you haven’t read The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, grab your copy now while it’s on sale for $1.99 at Amazon. And please get your copy of Under Lock and Key while you’re there. There’s more info about Book 2 below, too.

Thanks in advance for your support and interest in my books. And as always, 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.

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

What’s in a (character’s) name? #amwriting #reading #histfic #historical #fiction #books #history #research

Naming a character is harder than naming your first born child. For one thing, you only have one first born child, but writers have many characters to name. But it’s more than that. Naming a child means either being creative, choosing something new and different, or honoring another beloved family member or two.

There are many resources available to help a writer choose the perfect name for their characters. I’ve used The Writer’s Digest Character-Naming Sourcebook to pick out names by heritage and by meaning. I’ve used Census records lists of most popular names for a given decade. History books, baby name lists, phone books. No matter what resource you use, or if you make up names out of your imagination, it’s most important to have a name that reflects your character’s personality, purpose, or importance in the story(ies) he or she appears in.

For the Fury Falls Inn series, I chose names that I hope will reflect on the character’s role. I gave Cassandra Fairhope, or Cassie, her name because first I think Cassandra is a beautiful name, but second because I associate the name with witches. I imagine the Goodwitch series may have most recently influenced that association, but it’s still, to my mind, the perfect name for the girl in my series.

Her mother is Mercy Fairhope, qualities she once possessed but in the opening story has very little left of either mercy or hope. So her name shows the contradiction in her personality. And it rolls off my tongue so sweetly, too.

Her husband is Reginald Fairhope, or Reggie, and I gave him this name because I wanted a strong name with a lovable nickname for Mercy to call him. And by the way, Fairhope is the name of a town in Alabama, and since my series is set in that beautiful state, I hope the town won’t mind sharing its name with my family of characters. (Pun intended!)

As for the Cassie’s four brothers, I used a rather unusual source for popular regional names: the Early History of Huntsville Alabama 1804 to 1870 by Edward Chambers Betts. I found this book both informative and fascinating. I jotted down male first names, as well as some interesting last names from lists of men who signed a charter or contract sometime before my story time period begins. I only made a specific note of the interesting and unusual names.

First names I noted were Ruggles, Silas, Abram, Giles, Ephraim, Ezekiah, Moses, and Daniel. I’m going to have to come up with a character I can name Ruggles! I love that name so much. I just didn’t think it fit the somewhat gothic atmosphere of my series. Many of these names are strongly associated with the bible, which didn’t suit my characters either. So I settled on the four boys being named Giles, Abram, Daniel, and Silas, oldest to youngest. Those four sound like good, strong men but a bit unusual, too. And yes, I know that Daniel and Abram are also biblical but not nearly as overtly as Ezekiah and Moses.

Are you curious about the interesting last names I gleaned from the Betts’ book? I have used at least one of these in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn. They are Drake, Barber, Alcott, Crane, Knapp, Hull, Stoddart, Fisk, and Hale. The inn’s cook, Sheridan Drake, is one that comes to mind.

Naming characters takes time and consideration. If I’ve chosen a name because of its specific meaning, like Tara in the Secrets of Roseville series, I record in my character profile what the meaning of the name is. Tara is the anglicized Irish form of Teamhair which means “elevated place” in Gaelic. The important point here being that it’s an Irish name for a family with Irish heritage. But also in some way the idea of place or earth seemed to be associated with her talent of healing through touch. Physical connection. I can’t really put it into words why those are associated in my head, but they are.

What’s your favorite character name? Why?

Quick reminder! It’s only one month until The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn releases. You can pre-order your copy today and have it in your inbox first thing on release day!

I appreciate everyone who subscribes to and reads my weekly blog. I strive to share something worth reading, something interesting or curious. Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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The Historic Huntsville Hotel #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

Last week I talked about the Bell Tavern in downtown Huntsville which existed for several decades before burning in a major fire. In its place, a “modern” hotel was built in 1858 and called the Huntsville Hotel. Just for the sake of completeness of my research on this topic, I’d like to share a little bit more about the hostelry business in Huntsville in the 1800s.

The Huntsville Hotel is described “the town’s first real hostelry.” Which is a true statement because the word “hostelry” means “an inn or hotel” and the city appears to have only had taverns before the hotel was built. The new hotel elevated the expectations for service and accommodations.

I think if you look at the photos included in the above link you can see the exterior of the building, with four stories with ironwork trim, is both welcoming and speaks of elegance in its architecture and style. The interior image of the main parlor also shows refined furniture and furnishings with the appearance of leather armchairs, a decorated fireplace, and drapes at the windows. The hotel had a doorman to welcome the guests arriving by horse-drawn carriage and coaches.

The Huntsville Hotel was the site of “lavish parties and grand balls” for many years, including during the Civil War. When the area suffered from a Yellow Fever epidemic, many people went to the hotel “seeking refuge during the summer months when the illness was at its peak.” It was also the site of theater and music productions. One sign of its amazing success is the addition of 65 rooms in 1888 which enlarged the hotel to the point of meeting with the City Hall property on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton streets.

Like its predecessor, the Bell Tavern, the Huntsville Hotel burned to the ground. But it took two separate fires to complete the job. The first fire occurred in 1910 and the second “nearly a year later” on November 12, 1911, when “the entire block was destroyed.” A new hotel is under construction as I write this article, due to open in 2020, on the same site. I wish them much better luck!

While I mention that there is a hotel in Huntsville in my series, it’s obviously fictional since history suggests the first hotel wasn’t built until 1858. But that’s fine with me because hotels existed elsewhere so it’s feasible, if not historically accurate, to have a fictional one in my stories.

After all, I am making up stories not to teach a history lesson but to entertain. 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.

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

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

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

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Bell Tavern of Huntsville #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

The idea for a haunted roadside inn in my Fury Falls Inn series developed over several months of pondering. If you’re a fan of my books, one fact I hope you’ve discovered is that for my historicals—actually, for all of my writing—I strive to make sure the story’s details are authentic and at least plausible if not exactly found in the history books. With that in mind, I had to know whether an inn could have existed where I wanted in northeast Alabama in 1821, the time period of the series.

The first consideration I’ve already discussed: whether enough people were traveling into the area who would need accommodations or lodgings for a brief period of time. I had to know where the roads were in Madison County before I could choose the right location. Then I was curious about what types of hostelries existed in the Huntsville area. Which leads me to today’s topic: the Bell Tavern.

While I haven’t been able to find out much about the original tavern as far as its appearance, I do know it was owned by Walter Otey who arrived in Huntsville in the early 1800s. His wife, Mary Walton Otey, must have helped in the Bell Tavern when she wasn’t busy raising their nine children. Most likely even the children helped out with the daily chores associated with keeping the place clean, preparing and serving meals, keeping fires burning for warmth, etc.

Mention is made regarding the many people who traveled to Huntsville who would stay at the Bell Tavern. Since it was located on the northwest corner of the courthouse square, I imagine during the formative years of the state that delegates and lawyers among others must have enjoyed the hospitality offered at the tavern. Although the deliberations were held in the Constitution Hall, those who had traveled into town might have stayed at the Tavern.

Walter Otey died in 1823, which left the tavern to his wife to manage. I imagine, though the record I’ve uncovered doesn’t provide details, she would likely have been glad to find a buyer for the business. There is reference to the property having “endured many changes in ownership” before Alexander Johnson took possession of it in 1855. Mr. Johnson suffered from some very bad luck because a “major fire” reduced the Tavern to having only “a few rooms for guests” for some period of time before being torn down and replaced with a “modern hotel” on the site. Thus The Huntsville Hotel was built, which will be the topic of next week’s article.

So, look for potential visits by my characters in the series to the Bell Tavern since it was still in existence at the time of my stories. I’m still in the planning stages of some of those and don’t know yet whether they’ll stop in for a pint or not. Or perhaps copy some of the hospitality for use at the Fury Falls Inn. Anything is possible at this point…

Thanks for reading both my blog and my books!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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General Andrew Jackson in Huntsville #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

Researching historic events and people can be quite revealing at times. One person who created tension and discord based on his actions was Andrew Jackson. I’ve written a bit about him before but would like to elaborate a little more about his ties to Huntsville.

Image courtesy Library of Congress

The first mention I found in my sources of the early history of Alabama refers to when he was General Jackson. According to the Early History of Huntsville Alabama 1804 to 1870 by Edward Chambers Betts (1909; revised 1916) and History of Alabama and Incidentally of Georgia, Mississippi from the earliest period by Albert James Pickett of Montgomery (1851), one of Jackson’s first visits to the city was in 1813 on his way south from Nashville, TN, toward Horse Shoe Bend.

The reason for his involvement was because of some “distressing” news… A massacre at Fort Mims. You can read more about the Fort Mims massacre here.

“The arrival of an express, at Nashville, with letters from Mr. George S. Gaines to General Jackson and the governor, conveying the distressing intelligence of the massacre at Fort Mims, and imploring their assistance, created great excitement, and the Tennesseans volunteered their services to avenge the outrage.” [Pickett, p293]

“On October 13, 1813, General Andrew Jackson, and his command, after marching from Fayetteville to Huntsville in five hours, halted at what is now the intersection of East Holmes and North Lincoln streets, for rest over night, having learned on arriving here that the report of the ‘rapid approach of the Indians was exaggerated.’ General Jackson and his command the next day continued their march through the country of hostile Indian tribes to Horse Shoe Bend, where that sanguinary battle was fought with the Creek Indians. Nor was their departure unattended, for the county had contributed liberally of its men; four companies from Huntsville, one the “Mounted Rangers,” under the command of Capt. Eli Hammond and a fifth company from Hazel Green, with Captain Jack Mosley as its commander, had joined General Jackson’s forces here.” [Betts, p30]

“General Jackson, at the head of a large force, passed through Huntsville, crossed the Tennessee at Ditto’s Landing, and joined Colonel Coffee, who had been despatched in advance, and who had encamped opposite the upper end of an island on the south side of the river, three miles above the landing. Remaining here a short time, the army advanced higher up, to Thompson’s Creek, to meet supplies, which had been ordered down from East Tennessee. In the meantime, Colonel Coffee marched, with six hundred horse, to Black Warrior’s town, upon the river of that name, a hundred miles distant, which he destroyed by fire, having found it abandoned. Collecting about three hundred bushels of corn, he rejoined the main army at Thompson’s Creek, without having seen an Indian. Establishing a defensive depot at this place, called Fort Deposite, Jackson, with great difficulty, cut his way over the mountains to Wills’ Creek, where, being out of bread, he encamped several days, to allow his foraging parties to collect provisions. The contractors had entirely failed to meet their engagements, and his army had, for some days, been in a perishing condition.” [Pickett, p293]

The army marched on south to fight the Creeks in southern Alabama. Andrew Jackson had become quite popular during the War of 1812 and his role in and around New Orleans. By the time the first Alabama legislature met in Huntsville in the fall of 1819, he’d distinguished himself, but not everyone applauded his actions. But he did have his fans in Huntsville.

“And it is not inappropriate to record here that the Huntsville Masonic Lodge was the first chartered in the State; having operated continuously under a dispensation from the Grand Lodge of Kentucky, granted it in 1811. A legend of the times proclaims that General Andrew Jackson, while on his frequent visits to Huntsville, often attended the meetings of the lodge, held in its present temple, situated on Lincoln street at the corner of Williams street.” [Betts, p40]

“During the session of the legislature, General Jackson visited Huntsville, with his horses, and was enthusiastically engaged in the sports of the turf, then an amusement indulged in by the highest classes.” [Pickett, p436]

There was even at some point a “celebrated contest between the horses of Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and James Jackson, of North Alabama, at Huntsville.” [Pickett, p427] James Jackson (1782-1840) was born in Ireland, came to America in 1799, and is “well-known as one of the founders of Florence [AL] and surrounding Lauderdale County.” By the way, James is also claimed to be, at the Encyclopedia of Alabama link above, “the first breeder and importer of race horses in the United States.” That claim can’t be true since one of my American Revolution sources cited—and I have confirmed in person at the South Carolina Historical Society—the South Carolina Weekly Gazette issues of October 31 and November 21, 1783 where two “thorough bred” stallions and two blood mares arrived on a ship from England in Charleston Harbor. Since James didn’t arrive in America until 1799, he couldn’t have been the first importer let alone breeder of race horses.

While General and later President Andrew Jackson may be a controversial figure in American history, one thing can be said about his visit among others. Huntsville can boast about the many high-ranking and important people who have stayed within the city limits throughout its history.

I have learned a lot about the history of Alabama while researching for and writing my next release, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, along with the ongoing research for the remaining five books in the Fury Falls Inn series.

Thanks for reading both my blog and my books! I appreciate your time and interest.

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Surprise Visit by James Monroe in Huntsville 1819 #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

Don’t you love serendipity? A couple of months ago, my hubby pointed out an article in the Huntsville Times about the June 1 celebration at the Alabama Constitution Hall Historic Park in honor of its grand reopening after a renovation. What made it so fortuitous was the relevance to the book I was writing at the time. I hadn’t heard anything about it until he showed me the article and I looked up more details online.

Included in the day of festivities was the reenactment of the surprise visit President James Monroe paid to Huntsville, a reenactment based on details found in the Alabama Republican article reporting on the festivities surrounding his visit. The present day evening event featured a reception, reenactment of the arrival, and tavern style dinner. Since I was in the throes of writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (available for preorder now before it releases October 1, 2019), set in northern Alabama in 1821, this 1819 reenactment and meal would hopefully provide useful insights and experiences. So despite the significant (to me) expense of $100/plate, my hubby and I decided to attend.

The timing of the celebration was to coincide with the date that President Monroe actually arrived in town. On June 1, 1819, he and two companions, “Mr. Governeur his private secretary and Lieut. Monroe of the Army,” arrived and registered at the Huntsville Inn. Shocked town leaders quickly “appointed a committee” to greet the president and to arrange for an appropriate dinner in his honor for the following day. I can only imagine how a-flutter the town leaders and their wives must have been! To suddenly be faced with entertaining the president. From all accounts, they did the town proud. I’d like to share my observations of the reenactment and dinner with you all.

First off, when hubby and I arrived to enter the grounds for the outdoor reception, the man greeting us was obviously someone of importance. I didn’t know him, of course, since this is not the sort of crowd I usually hobnob with. I noted with a touch of humor how everyone seemed to know him, and he seemed to greet everyone by name. (I even jokingly told hubby we were “the riffraff” since we didn’t know anyone there.) When we finally stood in front of him and he quickly adjusted his welcome. But not before I noted the hesitation as to how to address us, unknowns as we were. (And still are, for that matter!) He recovered quickly and we went inside to mingle. Or rather to wander about, drinks in hand, observing the other well-dressed and/or costumed people. We chatted with a few folks and essentially waited for what I anticipated would be the highlight of the reception: the moment when President Monroe arrived.

The time came and the crowd was summoned to stand by the side entrance driveway. Excitement rippled across the faces of the people, gathering and craning to see the procession. I expected an entourage of some sort. Imagined the President of the United States would have a contingent with him. Possibly security riders, secretaries, scouts. I imagined twenty to thirty men. Horses, bedecked coaches, maybe wagons of supplies? Boy, was I wrong!

In my weak defense, I had not taken any time whatsoever to delve into the history of the moment. Not even a quick internet search. I’d been busy with researching for and writing my book, which occurs after 1819, and not focused on the earlier history to the details of that day. But what I surprise his surprise visit caused for me!

President Monroe only had two outriders with him. A party of three. That was the extent of his entourage. The three men rode about the countryside assessing the “state of society, and of improvement in agriculture, manufactures & c and also to enquire into the conditions of the Indian tribes.” I guess you don’t need a whole lot of folks to do so.

The arrival of President James Monroe in Huntsville.

The three reenactors were in approximations of the period attire and horse tack, but of course I’m not the authority so don’t know for certain. Hubby asked one of the riders who said his tack was similar but not authentic. This was somewhat disappointing to me for a moment until I realized most of the folks in attendance wouldn’t necessarily care one way or the other. (I was harkening back to the obvious amount of time and attention the military men and women reenactors, both active duty and civilian, for the U.S. Cavalry Association’s annual competition put in to recreate the most authentic uniforms and harness/tack for their mounts spanning 100+ years of service. But of course, they’re striving to preserve the Cavalry history on an on-going basis, not for a single event, and competing for most accurate turnout, so it’s worth their attention to the details.)

Soon after the arrival of the president, we mosied across the street for dinner inside a large banquet hall in the Early Works Children’s Museum. The tables were elegantly dressed and ready for the large crowd. They even recreated the mismatched dishes and glass ware like the original diners had to use. I did find it humorous that the rest of the “riffraff”—about ten people who didn’t buy entire tables of ten places but only in couples—were all gathered at one long table separated by a “passage” from the rest of the tables.

Dinner guests at the banquet in honor of President Monroe.

The menu included some new temptations. Starting with the salad: watercress is not something I’ve eaten very often since moving to this area. Though Alabama is known for its watercress. Each course featured something unique to the area, or at least unique in my experience of offerings from northern Alabama. I was most surprised by the dessert, as I thought the menu listed three options. In fact, all the ingredients comprised one tasty cake!

Open wine bottles on the table enabled everyone to choose to their taste, and then to have something in hand for the series of 24 toasts following the meal. That was yet another interesting note: the toasts came after the meal. In my experience in the 20th and 21st centuries, the toast(s) always come before. If you read the Alabama Republican article, it mentions that “after the cloth was removed” the toasts were made, indicating that the dinner dishes had all been cleared away. All the toasts are listed in the referenced article if you’re curious.

Individuals in the audience had been selected to read a toast and then everyone else would “hear, hear!” I’m not certain if they wouldn’t have said “huzzah” back in 1819 or not. I know in the 1770s the cheer was “huzzah.” After the War of 1812, though? I guess it could easily be perceived that the people desired to separate themselves from anything that smacked of British tendencies.

All in all, we had an enjoyable evening out with a room full of a couple of hundred strangers. Experiencing the food, the music, the attire as well as the language of the speeches and toasts gave me a pretty good feel for what living in those times must have been like. Especially after having tramped all over the reconstructed historic buildings earlier in the day. A kind of immersive experience, I might say.

I’ve noted before, I really enjoy going to historic sites, trying to put myself into the shoes and mindset of people from earlier periods in American history. Heck, in history itself. I also enjoyed seeing the castles in Scotland and the Parthenon in Greece. Trying to understand the cultures and intent of other peoples is something I do. I hope my understanding of past times and events reflects in my characters and the stories I tell, too.

Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read