Impressions of The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho #historical #fiction #books #novels #fiction #amreading

The latest book I’ve read for my Historical Fiction Around the World series is The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, an author from Malaysia and England. This book is on the shorter side, under 160 pages. It’s set in a pre-industrial mythical China but otherwise the time period is undefined. In fact, the story seems largely portable as related to time and place. No explanatory information is included, such as a glossary or maps.

The author has a light touch with storytelling in a good way. The tale is easy to grasp and the characters interesting if somewhat vaguely portrayed. I don’t feel like I know very much about any of them, including the main character. That said, Cho deftly painted the layers of the characterization so that I feel like I gradually knew everything I needed to know without weighing down the pace with unnecessary details and history. That’s an art unto itself!

The author wove together the historical aspects with mystical and religious themes as well as contemporary topics we all can recognize playing out around us today. I’m a fan of the mystical and the inexplicable nature of life and belief systems. Cho embodied them in her characters.

I enjoyed this quick read even though sometimes I personally was a bit confused as to what was happening. Chalk that up to my inexperience with the place and time and belief system described. But the characters and the plot are thought providing as well as entertaining.

Next up is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, a Korean author. However, I’m going to take a week off for a vacation with my husband, and be back with my thoughts on that story first thing in February.

Until then, 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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Impressions of Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe #historical #fiction #books #novels #fiction #amreading

I’ve finished reading Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. This story is fairly short, only 209 pages. A short Glossary of Ibo Words and Phrases is included at the end of the book. The paperback I read has “50th Anniversary Edition” on the cover, too. That tells me this story has been around for a long time and enjoyed/read by many people. The author has written at least 20 other works of fiction and poetry. Achebe is quite a good storyteller and appears to be quite beloved by many readers. If he’s a new author for you, you might give him a try with either this story or any of his others.

As far as Things Fall Apart goes, I found it interesting to experience the culture of the society of the story. The story seems to be about how a strong, ambitious clansman could not adapt to the societal changes wrought by newly arrived white men. Thus the title.

One thing about the story that bothers me is the essential endorsement of the brutality of the clansmen toward their dependents (women and children, in particular). The traditions included, to my 21st-century eye, appear harsh and caveman-ish. I don’t mean to be negative about the story. Moreso that I wonder what other men interpret about the culture of the story and society depicted for present-day men. What is Achebe saying with his story? What do readers glean from it?

Since the story written from a man’s perspective about a man’s experience, women and children are decoration and a backdrop for men’s needs and actions within the tale. This is not unexpected nor unwarranted by any means! I found it interesting to see the world through a man’s experiential lens. I tried to “become” the main character to some extent in order to understand his motivations and reactions to the people and events around him.

Achebe’s writing style in this story left me rather startled and confused at times as he glossed over events with a sentence or passing comment by the characters. Actions happened “off stage” of the story in places where I would have expected to be a witness to them. That’s just me, probably. Or maybe a difference in storytelling technique and expectations? Or both, of course! One of the reasons I embarked on this Historical Fiction Around the World quest is to learn about the similarities and differences in storytelling techniques used by writers from around the world.

Up next is The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, an author from Malaysia and England.

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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Impressions of The Wreath by Sigrid Undset #historical #fiction #romance #books #novels #fiction #amreading

Last week I shared my first thoughts about The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally. The story is about a young Norwegian girl named Kristin and how she grows into a strong-minded, assertive young woman in a time when such an attitude was not readily accepted by her family. Indeed, she was expected to do what her father dictated. The path she chooses is fraught with obstacles and challenges, too.

Now mind, the story takes place in the 14th century so there is a lot different about the society in which she is raised and which she resists from our present-day worldview here in the USA. Indeed, in many ways this story, first published in 1920, foreshadows our current existence in some ways. Kristin takes the reins of her life to steer her way through all obstacles and barriers, much like many women do today. She faced the same kinds of threats that women today do, as well: dismissal, subjugation, lewdness, overbearing men, even rape. (Why is it that men keep that weapon in their arsenal?)

One thing that reading this story brought forcibly home to me is that people do not change at their core despite new places, technologies, situations. Still, we tend to view each other as either an opportunity/known entity or a threat, and act accordingly. The characters within the covers of The Wreath seemed to reflect mostly the unsavory aspects of humanity. There were, to be fair, some religious people and kind people too, but most of the prominent figures had an ulterior motive of one kind or another at work. Even Kristin dealt underhandedly with her family all while rationalizing her choices up until the bitter end. Most likely the subterfuge people employ is still true today, as well.

I did enjoy the story overall after I’d adjusted to the different narration style and the unfamiliar names of people and places. But isn’t that part of the wonder of reading historical fiction from around the world and from different time periods? The opportunity to experience something different from my day-to-day life and activities. The concerns expressed by the people in The Wreath, while familiar and relatable, are also unique and otherworldly. This is the first story of a trilogy but I don’t think I’m interested enough to continue reading. Others probably will find it worthwhile, though!

Next up on my Historical Fiction Around the World series is Nigerian Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Off to the library I go!

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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Initial Thoughts on The Wreath by Sigrid Undset #historical #fiction #romance #books #novels #fiction #amreading

Happy New Year, everyone! Every new year brings a bit of hope to my heart that things will get better both personally and professionally. I’ll do what I can to see improvements where possible!

Let’s kick off 2023 and my continuing series of Historical Fiction Around the World with my first thoughts about The Wreath by Sigrid Undset, translated into English by Tiina Nunnally. The Wreath is the first of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy. This story, first published in 1920 and translated into 80 languages, is set in the 14th century in Norway and is written by a Denmark-born but Norwegian-raised author. Ms. Undset received a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1928.

I’m about a third of the way through the story, and am enjoying it now that I’m acclimated to the language and the narrative style. Undset weaves a compelling tale and paints a beautiful and vivid landscape for her story. My brain had to make an adjustment to both the proper names used throughout and to the rather inverted syntax the author employs. What do I mean by that?

The proper names, such as that used in the trilogy title, are of course reflective of the country’s language. “Lavransdatter” translates to daughter of Lavrans, for instance. Other Norwegian terms are explained in context if not defined outright in the dialogue. While it took a moment to adjust, I soon fell into the pattern of the naming conventions.

The “inverted syntax” I referenced also comes from the differences in language used. I enjoy “hearing” the cadence of the language from a Norwegian influence. Much like when I visit other countries with a strong lilt to their speech, it’s nice to experience the different emphasis and musicality of the language even if merely on the page. I think the way we phrase our thoughts reflects our culture in subtle ways, which can be revealing in and of itself. But I digress!

Altogether, I am fully invested in finding out what Kristin will do next, what social mores and expectations she will confront and perhaps defeat for her own best interests, and where the author is going with this tale. I imagine I shall finish reading it this week and will report my complete impressions next time.

So once again, Happy New Year! And 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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Now available on NetGalley! Thank you for reading and reviewing Hometown Heroines!

Wrapping up 2022 with a Bow and a Sale #historical #fiction #contemporary #fantasy #romance #books #novels #fiction #amwriting #amreading

Before I get to my topic for today, I’m excited to announce that my ebooks are available as part of the Smashwords 2022 End of Year Sale! This is a chance for you to get my ebooks, along with ebooks from many other great authors, at a promotional discount. All, yes all, of my titles are free only at the Smashwords Store through the end of 2022!

If you wouldn’t mind lending a hand to me and the other indie authors taking part in this sale, please share this promo with your friends and family. Just let others know about it, anyone who would love a chance to find their next favorite book! I’d also ask that if you like what you read of my stories that you share with others what you enjoyed about them by recommending them to a friend, leaving a brief review, and/or asking your library to include my books in their collection.

Another place you might find your next great read is at the Shepherd site where you can “Discover the Best Books.” They invited me to create a recommendation list, which I did in order to share books I’ve enjoyed with others. Mine is “The Best Historical Fiction about Emotionally Strong Women,” which includes 5 titles I’ve previously talked about here on my blog. Might be worth browsing other authors’ recommendations, too.

Now let’s get back to my regularly scheduled topic! I’ve been working on my author business plan for 2023 with an eye to what I want to write, where I want to go, and more. It’s gotten me thinking about my life plans in addition to my business ones. Striving to find a balance between work and play, so to speak. I found myself pondering how fast this year flew by.

Do you remember when the weeks leading up to Christmas, or whatever holiday you celebrate, seemed to drag by? I vividly remember staring at the tree wishing and wondering what Santa would bring. I’d count down the days, some years with an Advent calendar with its cubbyholes filled with chocolate or small gifts. But count them down I did. I knew my family didn’t have a lot of extra money laying around so would put all my hopes on my being a good girl so Santa Claus would deem me worthy of the many gifts I longed for. Not that I was a saint by any means but I tried to do as my parents wanted and expected. I still got my share of spankings, though!

With each passing year I find time is going by more quickly. I mean, didn’t 2022 just begin a few weeks ago? I had lots of things I planned to do this year but didn’t manage to pull off. Partly due to the fatigue associated with the cancer surgery and radiation treatments, I realize. Still, time just flew by and suddenly it was December. I’m left wondering at the cause of why time seems to speed past now. Perhaps I’m trying to do too much so don’t have “enough time” to get it all done. It’s not like one person is allotted more time than another, it’s about how we use the time, right? My goals typically center around my writing: researching a topic, drafting a novel, marketing existing works, etc. But of course there are all the usual activities I need to accomplish as well: reading, cooking, shopping, household management, family time and obligations, etc.

Or maybe time passes more quickly because it takes me longer to do things. I take a bit more time to think things through before I act. But heck, just getting up from my chair after sitting for a lengthy span can take a bit of time, too! Maybe a few seconds here, a minute there, adds up to swallow time I used to be able to make productive and now is just transitionary between tasks.

Or maybe the biggest difference is that I don’t live in the moment like I did as a child. A day then was a long time, during which I’d play, read, eat, laugh, love, and be a kid. For example, I remember feeling like it would be forever until Mom came home from work so I could ask her a burning question.  

Now my head is filled with plans for tomorrow and the week/month/year after. I’m not living for today but for the future which then arrives before I’m prepared for it. I think in 2023 I’m going to try to live for the day more often by taking time for my other interests besides my stories. I don’t want to neglect my writing but allocate some fun time in my days alongside time to create stories.

I’ve drafted a 2023 business plan which includes researching two new novels and perhaps a nonfiction title as well. Writing the historical romance will come first as I don’t think it will take as long to research for it. The historical fiction title will take much longer to prepare to write and may lead to a spinoff nonfiction book. I think those projects will give me enough to focus on with new writing for the next year, possibly two or three. Then add in marketing my existing 19 titles available for your reading pleasure and I think I have enough business to keep me busy.

This is my last blog post for 2022, but I’ll be back in 2023 with more historical fiction impressions, guest author interviews, and miscellany topics of interest to me and, I hope, to you.

Thanks for following and for reading! I appreciate my readers whether of my blog posts, my short stories, my newsletters, and of course my books!

Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Happy Holidays! And of course, 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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

My Impression of With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’m happy to report that I have finished reading With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, and ultimately it was a good read. If you missed them, you can read both my first impressions as well as more insights I shared last time. This very long story is not for the faint of heart or the squeamish, let’s be clear. Why, you may ask?

With Fire and Sword accurately depicts how the battles depicted in the book are fought. Sienkiewicz does not shy from vivid details of the horrors of war and the gore and violence that accompany hand-to-hand combat. I can’t tell if this is a cautionary tale about those horrors, or an honorific to the men who fought for what they believed in versus those who only fought to gain or hold onto power. One parallel I kept seeing is the disregard for human life during these battles and those in Ukraine today. It also should be noted that much of the fighting in this story takes place in Ukraine in the 1600s. I found myself wondering at the similarity in both the logic and the nerve the soldiers in the tale demonstrated which seems to reflect today’s events. Another example of how although times and technologies may change, humanity really doesn’t all that much?

Another aspect of this story I found intriguing is the sense of an extended quest narrative woven throughout the battles and bloodshed. Two of them, actually. The first more gruesome one is the vow one noble makes to sever three heads in one blow to honor his ancestors. The second one is the pursuit of a singularly beautiful princess who is ultimately moved hither and yon much like a pawn in a chess match. Throughout the story, several different men secrete her away or chase after her, longing to marry her. Her beauty strikes men dumb until they adjust to being in her presence. But she only has eyes for one noble, despite being kidnapped and hidden from him.

Sienkiewicz knew he was writing a bloody account of warfare so he included some comic relief in the person of one of the nobles. Zagloba exaggerates his deeds, trash talks those around him including his friends, and speaks his mind even at the most inappropriate moments (according to his friends and fellow soldiers). He’s opinionated about everything but most especially food and mead. But he does provide a chuckle here and there to offset the cruelty and mayhem.

I’ll say it again: this is a very long story! I appreciate the research and the time it took the author to put onto paper the life of the soldiers and nobles during this awful time in history. He’s done a good job of describing the setting so I could picture (most of the time) the battle scene or the conversation or whatever with ease. He delves into the heart of the characters to bring forth their deepest fears and desires for me to witness.

I’m glad I read it but at the same time I don’t think the vivid awful imagery will leave me alone for quite some time. This is not my typical historical novel that I enjoy reading due to the focus on the battles and bloodshed. But it also provides a look at the life of the soldiers during the war, which is what I care about more than the strategies and officers and such. “Seeing” how they lived during the war is interesting, in other words.

I’m going to take a couple weeks away from this Historical Fiction Around the World series to do some research for the next novel I want to write. Look for the next installment in the new year.

Until then, happy reading! Happy holidays!

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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

More Thoughts on With Fire and Sword by Henryk Sienkiewicz #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

Before I dive into my ongoing thoughts about this story, I’d like to share that the 3rd Edition of my award-winning historical short story collection, Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure, releases tomorrow, December 6. I’ve added back in the photos from the 1st Edition that were dropped by the 2nd Edition publisher. You’ll find a new Foreword by an Army Historian, too. I did a bit more digging into some of the more esoteric questions in the girls’ biographical information and added some new insights into their lives. I’ll give more details about the book below this post for those of you who want to know more. Now onto today’s post…

Last time I gave you my first impressions of With Fire and Sword by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, which is turning out to be easier to read than I first thought. I have found this adjustment period to be true whenever I read classical literature or any writing from previous centuries (except the 20th, of course!). Inherently, the language—word choice, cadence, nuance—has changed since then. Reading this novel set in the 7th century Ukraine and written in the 19th century would undoubtedly require a bit of a mental adjustment as to the expectations with regard to the vocabulary and phrasing.

Oh, I should share that Hoopla updated their app and now when I return to the story the app takes me back to where I left off in this lengthy tome. Makes it much nicer to pick it back up!

Comparing the bloody, devastating war of the 7th century to the present war in Ukraine is also rather depressing. I have a sense of “some things never change” for the Ukrainian people. I want them to change! I wish for peace and security for every single person impacted by the awful war. The destruction in the past came about from direct hand-to-hand fighting, fires (intentionally set), and disease/injury. Destroying everything in their path, the fighting armies inflicted physical and emotional ruin. I’m doing some research into the Reconstruction Era in Alabama, and the scenes Sienkiewicz describes in this novel are reminiscent of the destruction at the end of the Civil War in Alabama. The things people do to one another… It’s shocking and yet repeated throughout history. Why do we do this to each other?

The more I read, the more I enjoy the story and want to return to find out what happens next. The novel is very long and has a lot of characters, some with similar long names. I sometimes mix up who is who, but the actions and thoughts of each soon sort that knot out. Writing about historical events can be hard to do clearly since so much was happening at any one moment. All the players, as it were, each doing their own thing but those actions combining to yield a certain result. I don’t know how many of the characters are real personages from the past and how many are invented characters. Maybe I’ll see if I can find out more about the actual history between now and next time.

I think I’m about one third through the story. I will do my best to finish it before the next blog so I can wrap up my impressions of this interesting war tale.

Until then, 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.

Announcing the 3rd Edition of this inspiring collection of historical fiction about 19 real-life girls who made a difference in their hometowns. Winner of the 2014 Gold Medal for Young Adult Fiction awarded by Children’s Literary Classics, among other awards.

What would you do if you heard a train crash through the trestle during a violent thunderstorm? How would you suggest to a presidential candidate that he change his appearance in order to be elected? If your family was under attack and surrounded, what would you do to save them? Could you refuse to help someone hoping to better themselves or would you help them?

These are just a few of the situations these girls found themselves in and rose to the occasion, saving the day in more ways than one. Through their bravery, their daring, and their sense of adventure, each used their skills, talents, and insights to meet the need before them.

If you’re a fan of the American Girl series or merely enjoy reading about heroic girls, you’ll love reading about these historic figures in American history.

Books2Read      Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo

Halloween Flash Fiction: Haunting Beauty #amwriting #amreading #Halloween #Halloween2022 #shortstory #flashfiction #fiction #haunting #ghosts

October has finally come around bringing fall’s cooler temps and Halloween! In honor of which, Poised Pen Productions is hosting a flash fiction giveaway with a prize filled with books, gift cards, and swag. More on that in a moment, but first I’d like to tell you about my flash fiction written specifically for the occasion.

Last year I challenged myself—okay, my local writers’ group challenged each of us—to write a short story. That story, “The Perfect Birthday Gift,” appears only in the What A Day! Short Stories by Southern Authors anthology which released in April. It’s also linked to the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series, so you may want to get your own copy to read that exclusive story. (Hurry! The anthology will only be available through October 5! You can buy your copy here)

This year I was asked to write a flash fiction story for Halloween. Something under 1000 words. Now keep in mind I typically write novels, ranging in word count from 70,000-120,000. So, what the heck? The short story in the anthology was just under 5,000. Could I write a spooky story under 1,000? After some pondering, I drew from two events in my childhood—exploring a haunted building (or so I believed at the time) and having my dad scare us at a Victorian-style rental one fall—to write a 650-word romantic spooky story.

Writing short is much harder than writing long when you’re used to space to delve and explore actions, reactions, and motivations behind the characters. But writing short also hones the ability to cut to the essence of the narrative, sharpening the focus on what is important to the tale being told.

You can enter the giveaway simply by signing up with your email, and you’ll be given options for earning additional entries. Good luck!

My contribution follows:


Haunting Beauty

© 2022 Betty Bolte

A thump sounded overhead, then another. Footsteps? I shuddered. “We should…go.”

The ancient house moaned, wind whispering past like voices of ghosts in the dark.

“Not yet. I want to see where it happened.”  Cam grabbed my hand, and I squeaked in alarm. “Come on, Georgie.”

I planted my feet, but he tugged harder and drew me close. My heart raced so in my chest I could only hear its thundering in my ears. I stumbled along beside my fiancé toward a back room, stepping over a dropped pillow with what looked suspiciously like dried blood on its embroidered front. No, maybe catsup. I swallowed back the fear rising in my throat. Probably blood.

“They say she died in bed. That’s probably the bedroom, don’t you think?” Cam eased us closer to the scarred door, mostly closed as if trying to keep secrets from escaping but failing miserably.

“I…” I swallowed again instead of revealing the depth of my fear. He’d talked about invading the abandoned house for months to satisfy his morbid curiosity about the decades-old mystery surrounding the remotely situated farmhouse like fog. We do everything together, which I’m usually happy about. Even proud. This Halloween night? Not so much.

A thud behind me had me twisting around to stare into the dusky light of the hallway. Cam squeezed my hand and then let go as he strode briskly down the hall and with a flick of his hand told me to stay put. Alone. “Cam?”

“Shh.”

“Cam!”

He disappeared around the corner. I sucked in a shaky breath and tried to keep my knees from knocking together. I folded my arms across my chest as I stared down the empty hall. Suddenly, a light flared at the far end, illuminating a monstrous face floating in the darkness. Floating toward me slowly, inching closer with its open maw and glowing eyes. I screamed and the face vanished.

Cam guffawed. He clicked on his flashlight and swept the light over my face. “Gotcha.”

He sauntered up and I punched him on the shoulder. “Not funny.”

He pulled me into his warm, comforting embrace and held me tight for several moments. Kissing me lightly, he gazed into my eyes. “I’m sorry. I won’t do that ever again.”

I nodded and snuggled into his chest. “Thank you.”

He’s such a good man. Smart. Loving. Playful. His entire family loved to prank each other. If I weren’t so nervous about being in this reportedly haunted house, I would have laughed at myself. But something about the chilly and foreboding atmosphere of the place had every nerve on edge.

“Let’s just take a peek and then we’ll go have pizza. Okay?”

I nodded and squared my shoulders. “With extra cheese and jalapenos.”

“Jalapenos?” He noted the stubborn lift of my chin. “Fine. You win. Come on.”

Gripping his hand, I followed him through the squealing door as he pushed it open. He stopped just as the door bumped into something, sweeping his flashlight over the area. The bed occupied the center of the far wall, its mattress bare and…stained. The broken-out window let the sighing wind breathe through the bedraggled lace curtains.

“Looks like she really did die in bed.” Cam strode closer to the marred mattress, dragging me reluctantly along. He pointed to the largest dark red blotch. “I bet that’s where she bled out, too. It’s terrible to think about it.”

“See enough?” I hoped he had. I was more than ready to leave.

“Yeah.” He swept his light around the room one last time and then froze. “Uh…”

I looked where he aimed the light, shining on a young woman’s otherworldly figure in a white nightgown, blazing gold orbs for eyes, dangling dark tresses shifting in the eerie wind. She summoned us with a mesmerizing sweep of her ghostly fingers.

I screamed then turned and ran without looking back. Cam’s footsteps followed me down the hall and out the door. We tumbled into his Jeep and sped down the driveway, never to forget the haunting beauty.


This was fun to write, but did you enjoy it? What challenges have you made for yourself?

Happy fall! Happy Halloween! 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.

Did you know… You can order signed paperbacks of any of my books at The Snail on the Wall   book store!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (#1)

Under Lock and Key (#2)

Desperate Reflections (#3)

Fractured Crystals (#4)

Legends of Wrath (#5)

Homecoming (#6)

A Birthday Surprise for Myrtle Marple #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #HistFic #languagefan #shortstory #fiction #books #novel

Only 9 more days! That’s how long you have to nab your copy of the short story anthology What A Day! And if you’re a fan of my Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series (details below) you really want a copy of the anthology. Let me explain…

My local writers group decided to put together an anthology of short stories as a fundraiser. We centered each of the stories on a special day, a “red letter day” for a specific character. Our plan was to only make the anthology available for a limited time and then we’d each reclaim our rights to our stories to use however we choose. All told, there are 11 short stories by a variety of published and newly published authors in various genres. I chose a low-profile character in my popular historical fantasy series and what happens on her birthday.

In “The Perfect Birthday Gift” you’ll get to know kitchen maids Myrtle Marple and her sister Meg much better. For that matter, they learn more about themselves, too! In the Fury Falls Inn, which is haunted, these two gray-haired women work helping prepare the food for the busy dining room. But on Myrtle’s 21st birthday, which falls between the fourth and fifth books, they receive a surprise guest bearing gifts. The effects of those gifts are mentioned in the fifth book of the series, Legends of Wrath, and later called upon in the sixth book of the series, Homecoming, both of which just released last month to wrap up the series. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you so I am refraining…barely…from sharing! It was such a delight writing their story.

You won’t find this short story anywhere else for at least 6 months, so if you’re curious then I highly recommend you pick up a copy of What A Day! soon. A little birdie told me it’s coming off the market after October 5.

Southern hospitality is alive and well. In this anthology you may find a little old, a little new, and perhaps some mysterious doings. How about a ghost — or was it a ghost pepper? Was that a witch, a sprite, an elf, or a seer? You may be looking for a beautiful garden, a mint julep, or a jazz festival. Come on down! Bless your heart, you may never want to leave.

What A Day! is a collection of stories about special, memorable days in the lives of an eclectic, quirky mix of characters. You’ll enjoy fantasy, romance, historical, and more by best-selling authors like Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones as well as newer authors, none of which you’ll want to miss! Come laugh, cry, gasp, and smile your way through these fun, light-hearted, suspenseful, and intriguing stories.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Apple      Kobo

I actually edited about half of the stories in the collection but of course they’ve each been thoroughly edited before being included. We all wanted to produce a quality product containing entertaining stories! There’s fantasy, romance, mystery, and even a bit of mayhem in the mix. And since each is under 5000 words, they won’t take long to read either.

Let me know what you think of my short story. I haven’t written many recently, although I did write a flash fiction Halloween story this fall. That one is “Haunting Beauty” and is only 650 words, my shortest short story ever! I’ll share that with you for Halloween…

Happy fall! 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.

Did you know… You can order signed paperbacks of any of my books at The Snail on the Wall   book store!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic.
A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (#1)

Under Lock and Key (#2)

Desperate Reflections (#3)

Fractured Crystals (#4)

Legends of Wrath (#5)

Homecoming (#6)

Musings on Generations Equating to Time Span #amwriting #amreading #HistFic #languagefan #fiction #books #novel #genealogy

Before too long, maybe even next week, I’m going to write a 15K story that is linked to Cassie and Flint Hamilton of my Fury Falls Inn series, which you may know is set in 1821 north Alabama. This currently untitled story will be included in a Rescued Hearts anthology along with 10-11 others that will release next fall, to benefit Hidden Acres Animal Sanctuary in Georgia. I’ve been doing the research, reading and interviewing falconers in Alabama, about Harris Hawks which are the featured rescued animal in my story. I’ve chosen a raptor because of Cassie’s familiar, Allegro, being a Merlin falcon. It seems fitting that her descendants would carry on her love of raptors.

The story will be set in the present day but featuring descendants of Cassie and Flint. Which got me pondering how many generations would there be between 1821 and today.

Now I love doing genealogy research and building my family tree on Ancestry.com as well as making timelines in a document so I have ready access to the information without having to seek it out again. So when I wanted to determine the number of generations, I went to my tree and counted back in my own ancestry. For my family, it would be something like 5 generations, which told me the relationship of the present-day character, too. Flint Hamilton would be this character’s great-great-grandfather. But wait! There’s more!

A spin off to my musings along this line is the advertising statement I’ve heard all of my life. Something like “Such-and-such company has served the community for generations.” It got me wondering about how you equate a span of years to a group of people. Mainly because in my family, among my siblings, there are 12 years between when my oldest brother was born and when I was born. So even our single generation of siblings spans 12 years. Not every family has 5 children, of course, so how does one compute the number of years associated with one generation?

According to my handy OED (Oxford English Dictionary), “In reckoning historically by ‘generations’, the word is taken to mean the interval of time between the birth of the parents and that of their children, usually computed at thirty years, or three generations to a century.” So it’s averaged at 30 years per generation, which in my particular case works out exactly 30 years between when my parents were born and my oldest brother’s birth, which is ironic to me. But what the OED definition/explanation tells me is that I need to have 6 generations back, not 5, to be the typical span of time. So, Flint is now this character’s great-great-great-grandfather. I always knew Flint was a great man, but that’s a lot of greats!

The next step I need to do is identify the intervening generations of parents/grandparents in case I should ever want to write another story spinoff from that series. Hmm… Maybe I should make a family tree for Flint and Cassie’s descendants for fun and future reference. Probably just on paper though. I wouldn’t want anyone else using Ancestry.com to think they’re related to my fictional characters! Now where can I find a sheet of paper large enough to draw a family tree?

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.

Did you know… You can order signed paperbacks of any of my books at The Snail on the Wall   book store!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn (#1)

Under Lock and Key (#2)

Desperate Reflections (#3)

Fractured Crystals (#4)

Legends of Wrath (#5)

Homecoming (#6)