Martha Washington’s Birthplace #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

With each book I write I do research. The extent and kind will vary depending on what I need to know to write the story accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. The longest book I’ve ever written, and the one that I had to do a ton of research to write, is my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington. Why June 2? Because that is Martha’s birthday. So today I’m going to talk about where Martha Dandridge was born.

Her parents, John and Frances Dandridge, welcomed her to their home called Chestnut Grove sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on June 2, 1731. Chestnut Grove was located alongside the Pamunkey River in Kent County, Virginia. It was a two-story frame house with three rooms on each floor. Not a big house for a plantation in those days. You can see a sketch of what the house looked like here.

Historic marker about Chestnut Grove

My hubby and I visited the area back in 2015 when I first started researching to write Martha’s life story. Well, at least from her teenage years! I wanted to see the lay of the land and at least try to imagine what it would have looked like when she was a girl. It was disappointing to find we couldn’t even get close to the site as it’s private property. So online research and pictures had to suffice to inspire my imagination. Here’s a short excerpt from my book where she sees the house:

“As we neared Chestnut Grove, I studied the main house as the boat angled toward the dock. The central sturdy door had been made from poplar, like the window casings. At either end of the good-sized clapboard house rose two brick chimneys poking through the white oak shingled roof. A variety of flowering bushes and plants softened the appearance of the brick-and-board structure. Around it, smaller buildings stood: the kitchen, laundry, smokehouse, privy. Chestnut Grove was the only home I’d ever known. If I’d succeeded in my mission, the two-story frame house would become my childhood home. I’d move away, to a new home, a new husband, a new life.”

But just like Martha’s life, that was only one the beginning. Knowing where she was born and grew up was one piece of the history I needed to learn more about, then understand, and then put myself in her shoes. I really wish the home hadn’t burned down in the early 1900s so I could have seen it for myself. It’s far easier to feel like I’ve walked in my character’s place when I can roam around the same spaces she did. See what the view from the windows would have been. Hear the sounds of movement by others.

I’ve worked hard to write her story in order for others to find out what a remarkable woman she was in her own right. Not just as the wife of a great man. In fact, after all I’ve learned about Martha I don’t believe George would have reached the heights of greatness he did without her support and love.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. Like I said, it will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Puppy Love – Mom’s real-life dog Frisk #dogsarefamily #collie #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been talking about the letters my parents shared and how they inspired my upcoming release, Notes of Love and War. But the story is not just based on the letters. I also include some references from my parents’ real life story that reflect life in the 1940s in Maryland.

Having spent so much time with my mother while she was dying from metastatic breast cancer, I was able to talk to her about her life. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but we did spend quite a bit of time shopping and hanging out at home over my childhood to young adult years. And then I spent even longer with my father as he lived with me, my husband, and children for 17 years after Mom passed before moving into assisted living until he died 4 years later. We still talked frequently as long as he was able to, though, so I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. Lots of family stories and memories as a result.

One of Mom’s fondest memories was about a dog. Mom’s favorite pet growing up was Frisk, a blue merle collie. She talked about how smart and loyal he was. I have lots of pictures in the family albums of the two of them, or just of Frisk, scattered throughout the many other pictures of vacations and family gatherings.

Mom and her collie Frisk sitting on the grass together.

This picture is one that shows the coloring of a blue merle since all my photos are in black and white and I really wanted you to have an idea of how beautiful they are.

A blue merle collie with its distinctive white chest and legs, with a mix of tan, sable, and gray on its face, back and haunches.

So while writing my story, I decided to pay homage to Mom’s love of Frisk by including him in a fictional manner. As far as I know, Frisk didn’t live with Mom but lived on her grandfather’s farm. I’m the youngest of 5 children and all of my grandparents except my maternal grandmother had died before I was born. Mom was 42 years old when I was born; 60 when I graduated high school. So by the time I first remember my grandmother when I was a child she didn’t have any pets around the house. Probably because she was probably in her 60s by then. I don’t know if that was always the case, but in my lifetime I never saw any there. So I’m going to stick with my memory of what my mom said about Frisk being out on the farm.

However, in Notes of Love and War, Frisk is right at Audrey’s side whenever possible. Here’s a short excerpt to show you what I mean.


Audrey trotted the last few strides home to the front gate of the fenced yard. The hinges on the gate reluctantly let her through, their protest both loud and strong as she shut it behind her. Then she strode up the sidewalk leading to the steps to the front porch. Frisk galloped around the corner and came to let her love on him. He danced beside her on the sidewalk, joy plain on his face. She was glad she’d come home, too.

She’d toyed with how to approach her big assignment all afternoon, and it was only as she stepped off the streetcar and started the last leg of her trip to the sanctuary of home that she’d sorted the best way to proceed. She wanted to jot down her plan as soon as possible. Scurrying up the few steps to the shadowy porch, she was startled when Rae pushed open the door for her, waiting impatiently until Audrey slipped inside. Frisk yipped once as the door closed, shutting him outside.

“Audrey…”

“Wait.” Audrey opened the door again, cold air flowing past and chilling her bare legs. “Come on, boy.”

Frisk trotted inside and went to settle on his bed by the snapping fireplace. He seemed content to be inside in the warmth. Audrey turned away from the dog and regarded her sister.

“You’ve got a letter.” Rae’s eyes gleamed with intrigue and curiosity. “From him.”

“Who?”

“That soldier fella, Charlie.” Rae waved the letter at her, the airmail postage evident by the red and blue stripes along all four edges of the envelope. She slid a polished nail under the edge of the flap. “You’re lucky you got home when you did.”

Audrey quirked a brow at her sister. “You wouldn’t dare.”

A shrug and grin suggested Rae’s nefarious intent as she handed it to Audrey. “Open it before I do.”


Notes of Love and War will release in July 2020 but it’s available for preorder now. I’m super excited to share this story with you all, too! It combines some family memories with espionage and music. I hope you’ll enjoy the snippets I share occasionally between now and then to whet your appetite to read Audrey and Charlie’s story.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

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Novel letters that reflect reality #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

To continue with the connection between the real letters my parents wrote to the fictional ones in Notes of Love and War, let’s take a glance at how I wove some of those hints I spoke of into the story letters.

Here’s the letter from last week from my mother to my father. Note the bolded part where she practically shouts how she feels about the weather where he lived.

Original letter from my mother to my father.

“My Dear Friend,

Today had been so warm! Right now no one, I don’t believe, could talk me into visiting Florida. Hot weather and I are better enemies!

Murray, how’s the work coming along? Keep learning, Friend, and building on that solid foundation you’ve laid! I know that whatever you do, will be done to the best of your ability! Keep it up and I’ll be pulling for you!

And about that receptionist you’re looking for – there’s a friend of mine who has always wanted to be a receptionist. She would be just the one for the job except she doesn’t like Florida’s warm weather! Goodness here I am complaining about the weather again –

The funny part about it, I have been thinking, just a little, about looking for a job as receptionist. I’m getting tired of sitting at a desk punching keys. Nine years is enough of that. Oh and another thing, what would the starting salary be? After all that is an important thing to consider.

I sure was sorry to hear about your tennis rackets being stolen. Why don’t you ask Santa and maybe next Xmas you’ll find one in your stocking. It worked this Xmas for me. Try it!!

Murray, there’s an old saying ‘Action speaks louder than words.’ If I’m to be your girl, seems to me the best thing for you to do is to prove it. – How about coming up the last week of April? Could you manage to be here on Thursday April 27?

This warm weather has really brought the frogs out! I love to hear them at night time. Seems to put me in a dreamy mood!

Friend, don’t let your dreaming run away with you – concerning us. Just remember that I have made no promises of any kind!

But I do think you should come up so we can see each other and know how we stand – that is, whether we want to continue along the “boy and girl” lines or – just pals!

Your Friend

Mary Lou”

And like I pointed out, my mother made no bones about the fact she doesn’t like hot weather. So I have Audrey adopt this same viewpoint, since she’s used to much more variable weather in Maryland than the hotter, more tropical climate of southern Florida.

[Here’s a quirky aside: I’ve never heard anyone call my mother “Mary Lou” yet she signed her letters to Dad that way. I even asked Mom’s sister about the nickname and my aunt said she was only ever called Mary. Well, apparently not!]

The following letter is taken from the pages of Notes of Love and War and is from Audrey to Charlie… She’s planning to move to Florida after they marry and trying to keep a brave front. I’ll bold her comment about the hot weather to make it easier to find…

Saturday afternoon
July 22, 1944

Dearest Charlie,

My love for you is beyond measure. I know we’ll be happy together as soon as we’re married and start our life as husband and wife. I’ve started working on my trousseau. Mama and I went shopping for pretty fabrics and patterns, and the dining room has become my sewing parlor. The table is always smothered with bolts of cloth, ribbons and trim, and other sewing paraphernalia. Rae helps me with fittings and hemming.

As for our honeymoon, as long as we’re together it will be perfect. If I must choose, though, someplace warm since we’re going in December. The Keys sound nice and we could visit Hemingway’s home in Key West where he wrote To Have and Have Not. That would be fun. I do enjoy his books! Have you read his novels? But honestly, my darling, anywhere we can spend time alone together will make me happy.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do with your photography and studio. You must choose what makes you happy and provides the level of financial security that works for you. We shall be fine. We can budget our money and still have a wonderful life together. Go and be the photographer you choose to be! That’s the important thing to me.

I’m nearly finished with the interviews of the musicians in the women’s symphony. Just a couple more who have been difficult to coordinate calendars with, but I expect to catch up to them eventually. My boss has been complimentary about my articles, so that’s something that gives me hope for that promotion I told you about.

You’ll be relieved to know that Rae has taken it upon herself to give me cooking lessons. She said she didn’t want you to starve! I know you wouldn’t. I can make a mean peanut butter and honey sandwich! Kidding! Well, maybe not. But we won’t starve, either way. Tonight she’s going to teach me how to make fried chicken. Or try. The last time I attempted it, the outside was perfectly golden brown and delicious looking, but the inside was raw. Cross your fingers for me!

Frisk is eager to go for a walk since the day is waning and the temps starting to cool off. It’s been very hot here, and you know I’m not fond of the heat and humidity of summer. I much prefer spring and fall, to be honest. But of course I have to take all four seasons, not just two of them. Mother Nature insists!

Charlie, I love you and am honored to be planning our wedding. I’ve arranged for the church, my family’s parish, for the ceremony. The minister said around Christmas the sanctuary is already decorated. That will save us some money that we’d normally spend on flowers and ribbons that we could use for our honeymoon, right? Do you care when around the 25th of December that we wed? Let me know your thoughts.

I must end, though I’m sure I could think of more to tell you about the symphony, the newspaper office, and other family doings. But then you’d be bored with my little observations and musings, so I’ll refrain. I want you to always be happy and content.

All my love,
Audrey

As I read over the letter from Audrey, I can see other echoes from my mother’s many letters. The fact that she’s trying to learn to cook, and planning the wedding date for when they don’t have to spend money on decorations, and even the discussion about what Charlie should do about his career path. They’re not the same exact issues, but they are similar and thus reflects the inspiration I pulled from the letters between my parents.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

Audrey Harper needs more than home and hearth to satisfy her self-worth despite being raised with the idea that a woman’s place is in the home. Working as a music critic for the city newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during the Second World War, she’s enjoyed both financial freedom and personal satisfaction in a job well done. When she uncovers evidence of German spies working to sabotage a secret bomber plane being manufactured in her beloved city, she must choose between her sense of duty to protect her city and the urgings of her boss, her family, and her fiancé to turn over her evidence to the authorities. But when her choices lead her and her sister into danger, she is forced to risk life and limb to save her sister and bring the spies to justice.

Set against the backdrop of the flourishing musical community during the 1940s in Baltimore, Notes of Love and War weaves together the pleasure of musical performance with the dangers of espionage and spying.

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What color stone for a special ring? #amwriting #reading #PNR #CommonElementsRomanceProject #fiction #books #paranormal #wicca #jewelry #magick #magic #witchcraft #research

Last week I talked about which finger to wear a special ring on for members of the Order of Witchery Lore in Charmed Against All Odds (Book 5 of Secrets of Roseville. As before, I poked around at Wicca Spirituality and relied upon the information they shared about The Magick of Wiccan Jewelry.

So the next question I had was what should the ring look like? Should it be a simple oval or facet cut of some kind? Something rather innocuous which didn’t call attention to itself? Or no. It should clearly establish their membership in a special community. Quickly identify their belonging. So I went with the shape which was obvious to me. An owl. A great horned owl, to be specific. Just like the one used by the Golden Owl Books and Brews bookstore sign and logo. You can see it displayed on the cover of each of the books in the Secrets of Roseville series in the upper left-hand corner. (Note: The full meaning of the symbolism of the owl with the crossed sticks is explained in Book 2, Haunted Melody.)

But what color stone? Diamond? Ruby? Onyx? Thanks to Wicca Spirituality I was able to find exactly the right color whose meaning underscores the mission of the Order.

Some colors I could dismiss without a lot of thought because of the ambiance I hoped to create. So pink, orange, and yellow were swept aside. I wanted something darker, stronger, with an underlying support to the overall theme of my story. Nothing happens in fiction without a purpose, right? So I looked more closely at red, green, blue, indigo, purple, and black. To my mind, these colors are more powerful and significant. Keeping in mind the purpose of OWL as archiving the vast knowledge of witchcraft, I examined the qualities each color emphasizes.

According to Wicca Spirituality they have the following qualities.

  • Red: Excitement, passion, vigor, strength.
  • Green: Stability, vitality, prosperity, generosity.
  • Blue: Tranquility, sincerity, patience.
  • Indigo: Wisdom, insight, spirituality.
  • Purple: Self-esteem, spirituality, transformation, nobility, enlightenment.
  • Black: Mysterious, containing potentials, restful or fearful.

Now, I’m a huge fan of red and blue, but neither of those colors seemed to bolster the idea behind the OWL archives, that of storing knowledge for the use and betterment of others. Green doesn’t either, sadly. Purple was a close second with its spirituality and enlightenment. Black didn’t make the cut though because the archives shouldn’t be mysterious, restful or fearful.

Indigo, though, suits the bill quite nicely. It’s the ultimate winner since it combines wisdom with insight, something very useful for archivists and blends it with spirituality. There’s also something about the name of this color that is intriguing. So indigo fits the intent of the Order and makes a ring which will stand out.

Here’s a snippet from Charmed Against All Odds where Roxie first spots an OWL member following her:

She searched their surroundings with a quick skim of her gaze, until she noticed a figure standing on the porch of the visitor center. In the exact spot they’d recently stood. No other car but Leo’s occupied the parking lot. She squinted at the shadowy being. Nothing odd about jeans and tee shirt, low-heeled boots, floppy hat, and wooden hiking staff in hand. She’d guess it was a man but why was he keeping to the darkness of the porch? Something mystical pervaded her mind the longer she stared at him. Then he pressed his right hand to the center of his chest and she saw the glint of gold. She summoned her telescopic ability and zoomed in more closely on his right hand as he lifted it to press to the center of his chest. He wore only a gold pinky ring, luminous despite the shadows of the deep porch. She squinted to bring the center stone into clear focus. An indigo owl. She’d seen the symbol before. Not associated with the park, she was certain. Where then? The shadowy figure pointed toward the path beside her with a soft gleam of a smile. The niggling concern in her mind bloomed into shock.

Next week, remind me to talk about why I chose gold for the metal of the ring. It was a debate, let me tell you!

Speaking of reminders… Remember that Charmed Against All Odds is part of the Common Elements Romance Project, a group of books being released between October 2019 and January 2020. All the authors have agreed to include the same 5 elements in each romance, encompassing all subgenres of romance, too! The 5 elements are: a tall stack of books; a man named Max; a haunted or reported to be haunted house; a lightning storm; and a lost set of keys.

The Common Elements Romance Project will kick off with a week-long Facebook launch party this week, all week long! I will be giving away a special charm bracelet during my genre day—Thursday, 9/26—that has the first two charms Roxie and Leo find. The adjustable gold bracelet has the open book and Friends charms, so whoever wins it will always have a “book friends” charm bracelet from me. Good luck!

This “Book Friends” charm bracelet will be given away as part of the Common Elements Romance Project Facebook Launch Party on 9/26/2019!

And as a bonus gift, for everyone who pre-orders Charmed Against All Odds, I’ll give a free ebook copy of Book 1, Undying Love! Simply share a picture or screenshot of your order and I’ll send you a link where you can download your gift as a thank you for ordering Roxie and Leo’s story! (If you’ve already read Undying Love, let me know and we’ll work out a different story as a thank you gift!)

I’m so excited to have two releases coming soon! October 1 The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn will kick off my new supernatural historical fiction series Fury Falls Inn. Then Charmed Against All Odds will release on Veterans Day, November 11, 2019. I’ll have book signings in both October and November, so check out my Appearances page on my website for details. At my November signing, I will have paperback copies of Charmed Against All Odds before you can buy them in the store, too! I hope to see you at one of my signings to support the independent book stores as a thank you for hosting my book birthday celebrations!

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Charmed Against All Odds releases November 11 and is available for pre-order now!

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Wedding bells are ringing, but not for Roxie Golden. If she can survive another round of wedding plans, then her life can return to normal. She’s perfectly happy running the bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then one stormy day, her ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift neither of them wants.

Leo King wants to flee the small town for the big city. Forget about the shame he brought upon himself when he abused his magical powers. First, to satisfy his warlock father’s final wish, he must deliver the mysterious box to Roxie’s bookstore.

But when Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, their plans and their lives are changed forever. Trapped in a reluctant partnership with the woman he once loved, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

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Why do we say “one lump, or two?” Sugar cones and nippers #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of years, then you know I love to cook. I also love to try new recipes and even spent several months in 2017 revamping colonial recipes to modern ingredients and cooking methods. One thing I’ve learned is that techniques as well as the packaging of ingredients has changed over time. Today’s topic, sugar cones, is one case in point.

You’ve heard the expression, “Would you like one lump or two?” when someone is serving tea. Nowadays, we most likely picture a cube of sugar, with neat flat sides. Have you ever wondered why those precisely formed little cubes would be called “lumps”? I mean, when I hear the word lump, that’s not the image that comes to my mind. Turns out, there’s a reason for that.

I came across the Old & Interesting site where Lel Gretton talks about “how people equipped their homes in previous centuries, and how they handled household tasks.” Turns out that granulated sugar wasn’t invented until the Victorian era. Prior to that, sugar was shipped in large cone-shaped loaves. Gretton talks more about the history and preparation of sugar on his site, if you’re interested in learning a little more.

What I was mostly interested in was how people would have broken down the solid cone into a usable portion. Customers could buy an entire loaf or a piece of one, but then they had to break it up to actually use the sweet stuff. To do so, they would need to break the sugar into chunks with chisel and hammer. Then they could use the nippers to break it into lumps the right size for their cuppa. Nippers could be handheld or on a stand, too.

Here’s a brief excerpt from The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn where Cassie is tasked by the cook, Sheridan, with the job of preparing the sugar:

“What do you need me to do?” She tied on an apron and hurried to the work table.

“Good morning to you, too.” Sheridan shook his head at her but maintained the wide grin.

Abashed, she shrugged once. “Good morning. Now, what can I do?”

With a chuckle, Sheridan pointed to lumps from a broken up cone of refined sugar in a metal bowl. A stack of small white porcelain bowls and a small steel sugar nipper waited beside it. “You can finish nipping the sugar into those bowls to set out on the tables.”

Mindless task but necessary. A task reserved for the mistress of the property because of needing to guard the expensive luxury of cone sugar. So where was her ma? Perhaps Cassie qualified as an adequate substitute having nearly reached eighteen years of age. Pleased by the thought whether right or wrong, she lifted the scissor-like tool and started nipping the large chunks broken off the large cone by a mallet into smaller lumps as asked. She worked silently, dying to ask about Flint but afraid of Sheridan’s answer. Feared her ma had poisoned the information well against her. Her ma likely warned Sheridan to discourage Cassie’s interest in Flint. She’d probably told everyone on the property. Which made Cassie reluctant to ask but anxious to know. After half filling a bowl—no need to tempt people to use more than necessary of the luxury—she set it aside and pulled the next one closer. Glanced at her friend and mentor and decided to take the chance.

“Sheridan, have you seen Flint this morning?” She kept her eyes on the sugar nippers instead of peering at the cook.

“He’s been in. Why?” He cracked an egg on the edge of the bowl and dropped the contents into the bowl.

“I thought I heard him come down earlier but didn’t see him.” She flashed a glance at Sheridan and then back to her task. “Just curious what he’s doing today.”

“Now, listen here.” Sheridan pressed his palms onto the wooden table to lean toward her as she lifted her gaze to meet his. “I told you before your father doesn’t want you getting involved with Flint Hamilton. Told him that, too.”

So there you have it. The reason why we call the cubes lumps. And a little bit more about how different and difficult life used to be.

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn is available for pre-order and will release on October 1. You can read a longer excerpt at www.bettybolte.com. I’ll be at Second Read Books in Decatur, AL, 11:00-2:00 CDT on October 5 to sign my new release, too. Come out and see me if you’re in the area. I’d love to meet you!

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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Making a Bread Bowl #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

It’s often easy to assume something we eat today has either always been available or is a new innovation when in fact the opposite is true. That’s what I learned about today’s topic: bread bowls.

Apparently, bowls have been made out of bread for a long time. I thought they were something invented during my life time but discovered in this article about plating food they’ve been around since the Middle Ages. Good news for my cook in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn who uses them to serve his renowned chicken chowder to the inn’s guests.

But how do you make a bread bowl? The article above cited that they used scooped out dried bread to make a trencher or bowl. What about in modern times? Of course, the recipe and technique needed to be something that could have been done in the 1820s, the time period of my story. So I looked for simple ingredients and steps and found what I was looking for at BreadWorld.com. I don’t detail the ingredients in my story, by the way, because those details didn’t enhance the story. But I did use the techniques.

In my story, Cassie Fairhope makes the bread bowls for Sheridan as you can see in this short excerpt:


The sticky mass of bread dough shuddered with each pounding. Cassie lifted an edge and folded it over, mashing her hands into the springy substance again and again. Kneading dough helped relieve her self-deprecation and grief. Something had to help release the tension coiled inside her gut.

“Don’t try to kill the bread dough.” Hannah chuckled from her side of the large work table where she shredded a roasted chicken into bite-size pieces. “It can’t fight back.”

“Ha, ha.” Cassie folded the dough and punched it down. Then divided it into pieces to shape into several small round loaves. Leave it to Hannah to poke the sore spot in her heart.

Cassie glanced over to the Marple sisters, their plain hickory brown dresses and white aprons displaying the amount of effort they put into their work, busily scrubbing potatoes and carrots. She appreciated the hard-working older sisters who lived down the road and showed up every morning at dawn to help ready the fruits and vegetables for the day’s menu. A large black kettle hung over the fire, steam rising in a steady column up the chimney. The chicken chowder had become a favorite for the midday repast. Sheridan would arrive before long to combine the ingredients with his signature touch of herbs and spices.

Hannah pinned her with a slight frown pulling on her brows. “I was joking. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”

Cassie patted a piece of dough into a slightly flattened ball and then pulled on the top to make a knob which would serve as a handle for the lid of the bread bowl. Pressing her lips together to prevent saying something she’d regret, she placed the loaf on the wooden paddle in preparation to slide the dough into the heated brick oven. Even with the windows open, the heat from both the cook fire and the hot bread oven had everyone glistening with perspiration.

Snagging another lump of dough, she shot a quelling glance at Hannah. “It’s been a difficult day.”


Once the bread is baked to a crusty goodness and cooled, then she’d use a sharp knife to cut off the top third of each loaf and hollow the bottom out. Then the chowder would be put inside and the top replaced to keep the contents hot until it’s served.

I haven’t tried this myself, but I am tempted to. Perhaps this fall when the temps cool around here from the 90s… I used to bake bread for my family rather than buying it but lately my time is better spent researching, writing, and reading.

Have you baked bread? Are you tempted like me to try making bread bowls?

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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Learning to Shoot a Flintlock Pistol #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

After an attack at the Fury Falls Inn in my story, Flint Hamilton decides he needs to defend the property. He asks the deputy sheriff for his help in learning how to shoot a flintlock pistol accurately. In order for me to be able to portray what he learns, I had to do a bit of research. Thank goodness for online sources I could access to understand the process!

By the way, it is a happy coincidence that I chose to name my character Flint and then he wants to use a flintlock pistol. He’s named Flint because he has a solid sense of responsibility and conscience. So like the rock he’s named for, Flint is a hard man to fool and is dedicated to protecting those under his care.

Back to figuring out how to shoot a flintlock pistol. I went to the science website, How Stuff Works, where Marshall Brain details the parts and the process of shooting this type of gun. Loading and firing the pistol is rather complicated to detail but I imagine once you’ve learned how, doing so would flow rather easily.

According to Marshall Brain, the flintlock consists of four main parts: a hammer, mainspring, frizzen, and pan. The hammer is powered by the mainspring. The hammer’s purpose is to hold a piece of flint and make it move quickly to create a spark off of a piece of steel, the frizzen. The pan holds a little bit of gunpowder awaiting the spark to detonate it. These four parts work together to fire the lead ball (bullet).

There are seven steps Brain lists for loading and firing the pistol. Since I’m writing from Flint’s point of view, I needed to key on the steps as he would. But without boring my readers. Here’s how it unfolds in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn:


“Careful with that thing.” Parker waved a hand toward the flintlock pistol in Flint’s hand. “You said you’re not so good with it.”

Flint pointed the muzzle away from the deputy with a smirk. “That’s why you’re here. So teach me how to handle it and shoot straight.”

“First you need to load it properly.” The deputy held out his hand until Flint handed him the weapon. “Do you know how?”

He seemed to recall it took some special steps, and if you fouled them up then the contraption could explode in your hand. His father had tried to teach him how to handle a pistol years ago. After several near catastrophic missteps, he’d decided Flint would be safer using a rifle or even a musket. They weren’t quite as tricky as the smaller weapon, at least for Flint. But now Flint wanted something smaller he could carry with him instead of the larger, bulkier guns. Still, he approached the weapon with extreme caution.

“It’s been a while. Remind me.” Flint folded his arms while Parker talked him through the process. He forced himself to pay attention as the deputy explained and demonstrated each step, making the entire process look easy. Flint knew better.

Half-cock the hammer to pour in some gunpowder down the barrel. Wrap a lead ball with a bit of cloth and ram it down the barrel on top of the gunpowder. Add some gunpowder to the pan and snap the frizzen on as a cover. Fully cock the hammer and then squeeze the trigger to fire the gun. For each shot of the pistol, he had to do every step. With any luck, he wouldn’t need to do it at all. But he must be prepared.

“Your turn.” Parker handed him the gun. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Shoot the bull’s eye. Or try, anyway.”

With a grunt, Flint clumsily loaded the pistol. He raised the gun to point at the target, then steadied his shaking hand by briefly supporting it with his other one. Dropping the second hand, he aimed at the center red circle and jerked on the trigger. The blast of sound rang in the confines of the cavern, slowly echoing into silence. The odor of gunpowder lingered longer. Parker strode to the paper target and examined it. He spun around to smirk at Flint.


While Flint isn’t perfect on his first shot—he missed the target—he improves rapidly. I’ve fired a modern pistol but not any from the 1800s, so I appreciate the information Marshall Brain shared. I learned enough about how the pistol mechanism functions to be able to weave it into my story to help put the characters in context with the time in which they live. As I’ve said before, I am writing historical 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…

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read