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

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

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

Author Social Links: Facebook * Twitter

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then the day came

When the risk to remain

Tight in a bud was more painful

Than the risk it took to blossom. Anais Nin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for sharing the backstory of your story, Linda!

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Twitter * Instagram

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Bookshop * Amazon * B&N

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Blog

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Amazon

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Instagram * Facebook

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

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

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Interlink Books * Bookshop

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Website * Email

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: TheIvyBookShop * Amazon

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

Author Social Links:  Facebook * Instagram

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Amazon

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

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Pinterest

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase links: Amazon * Books2Read

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

Happy reading, all!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Amazon

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Let’s meet Liz – the protagonist from Sisters of the Vine by Linda Rosen #author #womensfiction #historicalfiction #novels #amreading

My guest today is one of Linda Rosen’s characters from her second novel, Sisters of the Vine. Please help me welcome Liz to the interview hot seat! Let’s take a look at Linda’s bio and then we’ll find out more about Liz.

Linda Rosen’s books are set in the “not-too-distant past” and examine how women reinvent themselves despite obstacles thrown their way. A central theme is that blood is not all that makes a family– and they always feature a piece of jewelry! Her debut novel, The Disharmony of Silence, released in March 2020 and her sophomore novel, Sisters of the Vine, one year later, from Black Rose Writing. Linda was a contributor to Women in the Literary Landscape: A WNBA Centennial Publication for the Women’s National Book Association and has had stories published in online magazines and print anthologies. She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Women’s National Book Association where she is Selections Coordinator of the Great Group Reads committee which curates a list, published annually, of novels and memoirs perfect for book clubs.

Social Media: Facebook * Instagram * Goodreads * BookBub

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Liz: I had a happy childhood. My parents adored each other. Everyone should have a marriage like theirs. I was close to my older brother and my little sister. Even when she was a pain, she was fun. And then, everything changed in my senior year of high school. My mother got cancer and…well, she died before I graduated and I sort of became Kristin’s mother. Daddy didn’t want me to but I couldn’t help it. She was my little sister and he couldn’t do everything a mother would do, like go shopping with her, one day buy a prom dress. That’s why I didn’t want to go away to college. like we had planned. But I did. My father insisted. And, that’s another story.

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

Liz: I had a great time in high school, even junior high and elementary school. I had tons of friends and was a decent student, Bs, a few Cs in math, and an A, now and then. And, as I said, I went away to college. That’s where I met Rick – the other story I mentioned. I fell head over heels in love with him and he was graduating, getting a teaching job and wanted me to marry him. So, I quit college after freshman year. Totally against my father’s wishes. And, to be honest, for a really long time, I felt very guilty about it. I wanted, no, I had to make it up to him, to prove I could be something he’d be proud of, even without a college degree.

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

Liz: Now that’s a nice memory. I was in fourth grade, maybe fifth, and was on my friend Spencer’s screened-in porch. I think we were hiding from other kids. All I remember is lying on our stomachs and Spencer turned his head to me and said something. I looked at him and he kissed me. On the lips! Then he kissed me again, real slow. It was so nice. I don’t remember anything after that. Probably nothing happened, not until junior high school when I made-out with my boyfriend, not Spencer, for the first time. We were in my basement when my parents weren’t home. Oh, those innocent days. Great memories.

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

Liz: Making my first bottle of wine. Rick thought I’d never be able to do it without him. He was sure the vineyard would fail and I’d go running home, penniless, to my father. I showed him! And, made my dad proud of me.

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

Liz: When I got my hand stuck in the wine press, for sure. I should have known better. That was so scary. I almost lost an entire batch of wine, aside from my hand!

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

Liz: People probably expect me to say I would have stayed in college, but if I did that I’d never have the gorgeous vineyard and winery I have today. I wouldn’t be the successful business woman that I am. Or have the most special friends a girl could have. They’re more than friends, they’re sisters. So, what would I change? Maybe to have woken up earlier and not been so blind about my husband.

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

Liz:  Failure. I failed at one thing. And I never want to fail at anything else, ever. I’m pretty sure Bobbi knows. We don’t have to talk about it. It’s there, with me, every day.

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

Liz: Good question. If you ask my sister, she’d say I don’t share anything but Bobbi, my best friend and assistant, would disagree. I can talk to her. And to Sandra and Susan. The grapes are their babies, too. They’ve crawled into their hearts, got under their skin. Even if I don’t say anything, they know what’s going on. They know the real me. We’re family.

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

Liz: Even though I don’t see my brother often, we’re close. He helped me deal with Rick, when I needed it most. And my dad, we are incredibly close. I can count on him for anything at any time. I just wish I hadn’t disappointed him so. And yes, I have a good relationship with my sister. She’s of a totally different generation from me, much more feminist than I ever thought I was and I’m learning a great deal from her. At first, I thought she was nuts, but I realize how right she was, and is. And my non-blood family, my sisters of the vine? I wouldn’t change anything. Well…maybe a little.

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

Liz: Actually, I am not looking for anyone. I did have a boyfriend, after my marriage broke up, but he couldn’t understand me. My family, human and plant, come first, before any man. Someone would have to be able to deal with that. Sure, it’d be nice, but I don’t think I’ll ever find a guy who can take second place, or, actually, third.

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

Liz: Relax? I’m not sure I know that word. Though it would be nice. I don’t have time for entertainment, other than television at night with a glass of wine. Maybe one day…

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

Liz: I wish I had been a better mother. Now my kids are grown and they are becoming wonderful adults. I hope the fact that I spent so much time in the vineyard and on my business, leaving them home alone way too often, hasn’t hurt them. And I hope Bethany is a better cook than I am.

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

Liz: I’m good at making and selling wine, talking to customers, growing grapes. I also think I’m good at mentoring women. I’d like to do more of that one day, when my business grows. I want to help other women grow and attain their dreams. What am I bad at? Marriage.

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

Liz: I spend most of my time in my office or vineyard so I rarely carry a handbag. Though, recently, I’ve been out promoting our wines to stores and restaurants so I have bought a beautiful soft leather shoulder bag. It holds my wallet, keys, checkbook and pen, and business cards, of course. There could be some tissues and hard candy floating around in there, too. And any articles about my winery that might help make the sale with a prospective vendor.

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

Liz: This is embarrassing. My kids would say there’s nothing but that’s not true. We have lots of frozen foods, like TV dinners, pizza and pot pies. There’s always eggs in the fridge, easy for the kids to make, and American cheese, Coke, orange juice and milk for cereal. I guess you can see that I’m not much of a cook. We don’t go hungry though. There’s always hamburger helper and tomato soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. And wine.

Eight Hundred Grapes meets A League of Their Own. The story of one woman’s determination to keep the land she loves and the sisterhood formed around her. And, yes, there’s wine! As best-selling author Hannah Mary McKinnon says, “SISTERS OF THE VINE is not only a beautiful tale of self-discovery and reinvention, but one of female triumph, too. Filled with characters you’ll love, and some you’ll love to hate, this feel-good story will have you raising your glass to the heroine and her delightful crew.”

Buy links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks to Linda for letting Liz come by and chat with us today! There is something about a story set at a vineyard that I always find appealing. Maybe it’s just the wine…

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

Getting to know Juliane Weber #author #historical #fiction #histfic #Ireland #mustread #amreading

My guest today is a scientist turned novelist. I’ve heard of many lawyers, doctors, and nurses but few scientists who’ve turned to writing fiction. I hope you enjoy meeting Juliane Weber! Let’s take a look at her background and then find out more about her.

Juliane is actually a scientist. She holds degrees in physiology and zoology, including a PhD in physiology. During her studies she realized, however, that her passion lay not in conducting scientific research herself, but in writing about it. Thus began her career as a medical writer, where she took on all manner of writing and editing tasks, in the process honing her writing skills, until she finally plucked up the courage to write her first historical novel, Under the Emerald Sky. The book is the first in The Irish Fortune Series, which is set in 19th-century Ireland around the time of the Great Famine.

Juliane lives with her husband and two sons in Hamelin, Germany, the town made famous by the story of the Pied Piper.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Twitter

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

Juliane: Thank you, Betty, for inviting me onto your blog today!

I had thought about writing a book for many years before actually doing it. The only thing I knew for sure, though, was that I would write historical fiction, as this is my favorite genre to read. Besides that, I had no idea when or where my hypothetical novel would take place and really fell into the eventual setting quite by accident. While googling interesting times in history, I came across the Irish Potato Famine and was immediately drawn to this setting, as I loved the idea of the 19th century and of Ireland with its beautiful scenery, its myths and legends, as well as writing about a time in history that hasn’t been written about quite as much as some others. And so, the idea for Under the Emerald Sky was born.  

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Juliane: Both my main characters, Quin and Alannah, arrived mostly developed and slipped quite easily into their roles in each scene. I had a little more difficulty with Alannah’s brother, Kieran. Although I did know a lot about him from the start, it took a bit of time to really figure him out. The somewhat villainous character of Herbert Andrews was the most challenging, as he kept doing all sorts of things that didn’t even make sense to me. Once I understood his devious mind, though, it all started coming together!

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

Juliane: When I first decided on 19th-century Ireland as the setting for my book, I did quite a bit of reading to get a broad idea of what I was dealing with. This nearly made me give up on the whole thing, actually, as it was no mean feat wading through the complex layers of social, political and agrarian factors that contributed to the disaster that was the Great Famine. I stuck with it, though, and once I had a good general idea about the historical background, I concentrated on doing specific research as scenes required it, looking up particular things in reference books, historical records, scientific papers and so on. I find this kind of targeted research more effective than trying to deal with everything at once, as that can be quite overwhelming!

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

Juliane: I don’t really write drafts as such. I tend to write fairly slowly, fiddling with each scene until I feel that it’s the best that I can make it. Once I’ve written all the scenes I feel are needed in the book, that’s it (aside from the general editing, of course).

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

Juliane: I like to read a bit of what I wrote the previous day to get back into the right mindset when I sit down to write.  

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

Juliane: I’m a big fan of Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series of books. She’s a scientist turned novelist, and her story inspired me to also try my hand at writing a novel, being a scientist myself. I would love to have a chat with her about her experiences – and of course to tell her how much I love her books!

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

Juliane: I used to carry my laptop around the house and write wherever I could, but I have become a little more sophisticated in that I now have an office in which to write and revise! As far as reading is concerned, on a nice summer day I love to sit outside on the terrace in the sun, otherwise I’m more than happy with the couch.

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

Juliane: At this point in my writing career, success is as simple as having a reader really enjoy my book. Of course, not everyone will love (or even like) what I’ve written but receiving glowing reviews and having readers recommend my book to others makes me feel like I’ve done something worthwhile. I feel a sense of achievement when someone tells me that the story moved them and that the characters stayed with them long after they finished reading. It’s those reactions that make me love a book myself, and so I’m thrilled when I’m told that I’ve achieved the same with my writing.

It’s 1843 and the English nobleman Quinton Williams has come to Ireland to oversee the running of his father’s ailing estate and escape his painful past. Here he meets the alluring Alannah O’Neill, whose Irish family is one of few to have retained ownership of their land, the rest having been supplanted by the English over the course of the country’s bloody history. Finding herself drawn to the handsome Englishman, Alannah offers to help Quin communicate with the estate’s Gaelic-speaking tenants, as much to assist him as to counter her own ennui. Aware of her controlling brother’s hostility towards the English, she keeps her growing relationship with Quin a secret – a secret that cannot, however, be kept for long from those who dream of ridding Ireland of her English oppressors.

Among the stark contrasts that separate the rich few from the plentiful poor, Under the Emerald Sky is a tale of love and betrayal in a land teetering on the brink of disaster – the Great Famine that would forever change the course of Ireland’s history.

Buy Links: AmazonUS * AmazonUK

Thanks so much for sharing your writing process with us, Juliane! I’ve read this story and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter