Discovering the woman who was my mother #familyfirst #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading

I have many stories about my mother from my own life. I mean, who doesn’t when you’ve lived with your family for 18 years or more. Things like Mom sitting under a shady tree reading the newspaper while Dad took me and my sisters to the beach to splash around. Helping Mom in the kitchen to make the holiday turkey and mashed potatoes. Oh, her mashed potatoes! Christmas shopping all day on Black Friday, laughing and having a grand time. Mom sipping on a beer in a glass, munching on Utz potato chips. We talked sometimes, though rarely, about her life as a teen and young woman. I wish I’d asked more questions, though.

When I first started reading through my father’s correspondence, 6 years after he passed in 2011, I was a bit nervous about what I might find out about him. I was surprised at how much I learned about my mother as a young, flirty, fun woman.

I mentioned before that she signed many of her letters as Mary Lou, but that nobody in her family ever called her that. I’m wondering if Dad started calling her that since he was from the Deep South. I have no way of knowing for certain. I was also surprised to see line drawings and jokes included in the letters. The interactions I had with my mother didn’t hint at that side of her. For example, she mentions in a March 1948 letter the following riddle:

Friday evening we went over to a very lovely restaurant in Silver Springs, Md. A large fireplace plus crackling logs were in each room. Above the one fireplace was this riddle. Can you make it out?
            If the B m t put :
            If the B ◊ putting :

Now, I pondered that for some time without figuring out its solution. It wasn’t until she wrote to him later and shared the meaning that I had any idea. One hint as you read the solution: the “:” punctuation symbol reads as “coal on”. So here’s what Mom wrote in her letter:

The answer to the riddle is
If the grate be empty put coal on
            (If the B m t put : )
If the grate be full, stop putting coal on.
            (If the B ◊ putting : )

My mother’s handwritten letter including the riddle.

In my novel, Notes of Love and War, I reverse this trait to have Charlie sending the jokes and riddles to Audrey. She professes to not be very good at solving them, too. I used different riddles and jokes, too, which were fun to research and debate which ones I thought worth including.

So tell me how much you remember about your mother. Did you talk to her about her younger years? If your mom is still alive, what questions do you have for her?

Thanks for stopping by. 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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Dear Charlie… or courtship through letters #WWII #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

I mentioned last week that one of the reasons I wrote Notes of Love and War, set in Baltimore during WWII, was to try to capture what it might have been like to fall in love through letters written during a war. The only way I know what it was like is by reading my parents letters to each other during and after the war and trying to read between the lines. My mother was very forthright but also I could sense a hesitancy to speak her mind. But I did see hints of it.

Those hints helped me to imagine Audrey Harper’s personality and how she’d approach difficult conversations while trying to get to know Charlie Powers better through their correspondence. Let me show you a couple examples of my mother’s letters to give you a clearer image of what I mean.

Letter from my mother to my father in 1948.

The following transcription of the letter in the picture comes from a friendly letter dated March 23, 1948. Note this is after the war, but they’d been writing as pen pals for years before. However, in one of my mother’s letters she confesses that after my father became engaged to another woman, she threw away his letters! He apparently must have done the same thing, because the first extant letter I have is dated November 1945 from my mother to my father. This is after my dad had been discharged from the army and the war was over for all intents and purposes. So let’s pick up with this:


“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”


Knowing what I do about their future, let me point out some hints. The first big one is her commenting twice about the weather, and emphasizing the heat and how she doesn’t like it. This becomes one of the key reasons why my dad moved to Maryland instead of insisting on her moving to Miami after they married: he knew she didn’t like hot weather.

The second hint is her asking about changing jobs to do something different than what she’s been doing for nine years. Dad’s letters talk about how she won’t need to work after they’re married, but she’s laying it out for him in this letter that she intends to do so.

Both of these points I’ve incorporated in my story but with a bit of a difference in how they are addressed by each of my characters. Please keep in mind that while I’ve pulled insights and concerns from my parents’ letters, Notes of Love and War is definitely not their story! For one thing, as a fellow author pointed out to me, I really didn’t want to try to imagine my parents’ intimate moments. Better to leave that to fictional characters!

Another interesting tidbit popped up in a letter Mom wrote after she’d become engaged and was planning their wedding. Dad was still living and working in Miami when she wrote this letter on September 8, 1948. I’ll only include the most relevant snippet this time and leave out the mushy-ness. <grin> She wrote in part:


“Honey what songs do we want sung at our wedding? There’s one I would like sung after we are pronounced Man Husband and Wife –– ‘Bless be the tie that binds

            Our hearts in Christian love

            The fellowship of kindred minds

            Is like to that above.’

Do you approve of this being sung?”


This blew me away to read! I mean, to me my mother was always very circumspect, feminine, and traditional. This seems far more feminist and progressive to me for her in 1948! To equate the married pair as “husband” and “wife” instead of he being “man” and she his possession. Instead they belong to each other. And yet she’s still seeking his agreement if not permission to have one of her favorite hymns sung at their wedding. What conflicting views, to my mind. Or perhaps she’s showing a willingness to work with him, to compromise, in order to have a partnership—look at that ‘fellowship of kindred minds’ line—in their marriage.

I’ve read through all the letters in my possession, absorbing as much of their mindset, their concerns, references to music and plays, and to family doings, in order to create an echo of that culture and situation in Notes of Love and War. Please let me know if you think I hit the mark!

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Why I wrote Notes of Love and War #WWII #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

“Where did you get the idea to write…?” This is a common question I receive from my readers. So I thought I’d share the genesis of a book I wrote that is very near and dear to my heart. Notes of Love and War was inspired by, though most definitely is not the story of, my parents’ courtship correspondence before, during, and after World War Two. Let me explain.

After my father died in December 2011, my grief and sorrow lingered for years. He was one of my champions and best friend all of my life. Six years passed before I could bring myself to go through his accumulated letters and papers. Part of my reluctance stemmed from knowing that those letters included dozens if not hundreds that were exchanged between my mother and father before they married. My oldest sister had forewarned me they were somewhat “racy” but what exactly did that mean? Just how personal were the contents?

Stacks of my dad’s letters… and this doesn’t include all the Victory mail during the war!

I sorted them out by year, then by month and day. And there are a lot of letters! Then I read them. One by one, with growing interest as the insights into my parents when they were young (early to mid-twenties) played out in my hands. The jokes, the concerns, the sharing about their daily struggles with finances and family matters. The songs and books they enjoyed. Hints of intrigue and private moments shared and cherished. The resulting overarching concept of how they grew to love each other through their letters became an idea I wanted to explore in a fictional setting. I wanted to replicate the intimacy evoked through their words but also through the handling of a piece of paper that could physically, tangibly transmit those thoughts into the hands of another. The sense of intimacy coming from holding the same piece of paper as your lover which leant a shared moment of contact over long distances.

Letters sorted by year, not including those between my parents nor V-mail.

My mother’s letters proved far more enlightening to me than my father’s. Why? You’d think I’d have been more keenly aware of my mother’s attitudes and desires, one woman to another. To an extent I had spoken with my mother about her life as a young woman, just not nearly as much as I wish had in my later years. I knew, for example, that she’d been engaged to another man during the war but that they’d ended their engagement and he went on to New York to become a lawyer. But…what I didn’t know, what Mom had never told me, was that the man’s mother had something to do with them breaking up. Mom hinted about it in one of her letters to Dad, but never disclosed what exactly. Talk about getting my imagination spinning! What would a mother have to do to break up an engagement? Perhaps I don’t really want to know.

Dad, likewise, had frequently and at some length talked to me about his life and the decisions he made, including those related to moving from Miami, Florida, to Baltimore, Maryland, in order to marry my mother. His comment to me, which is echoed and substantiated within the letters, was that his job in Miami fell through and he knew that Mom wouldn’t be happy in the hotter climate and so far from her family. (An aside: my mother’s side of the family has lived in Maryland for many generations. I was also born and raised in that beautiful state.) So he decided to move north to make her happy. This self-sacrifice for the woman he loved with all his heart resonated with me, as both his daughter and an author of romantic fiction.

So the initial kernel of interest in writing what has evolved into Notes of Love and War came from wanting to recreate that intimacy developing through letters. Of getting to know one another through what they shared about themselves on paper. Of course, that’s not enough of a premise to build a novel-length story, but it’s a strong foundation.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll share other elements that I’ve woven together to create the framework for the story. Elements such as spies and journalism and music, each based in the actual history of Baltimore and Maryland during the 1940s. I hope you’ll enjoy reading about my journey through my hometown history as imagined in my novel.

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Which wood for a wand? #amwriting #reading #PNR #CommonElementsRomanceProject #fiction #books #paranormal #research

One of the fun aspects for me when writing a new story is finding out about new-to-me subjects. I’m curious by nature, so it’s something of a treasure hunt to go looking for the details to include in my stories. The meanings behind the “props” my characters use. For example, what kind of wand would Roxie have? She itches to use it in Charmed Against All Odds:


“My tea is cold.” Paulette screwed up her face as she set her cup on the low table in front of her.

“So, go put it in the micro for a few seconds.” Zak squeezed her shoulder with one large hand. “Lazy.”

“Am not. I don’t want to miss a thing.” Wrinkling her nose, Paulette turned away from her husband to pin her hopeful gaze on Roxie. “Would you mind?”

“Of course not.” Suppressing the bounding of glee inside, Roxie flourished her wand, aimed it at the flowered mug. She flicked the tip of the wand at the cup. Steam rose from the warmed liquid. “Try that.”

Paulette lifted the mug and took a sip, aiming a grateful grin at her cousin. “Perfect.”

Grant had one beefy arm around Tara as they sat on the loveseat facing the fireplace. His storm gray eyes held a hint of skepticism, the scientist in him still doubting his wife’s abilities as well as her sisters. Despite having proof. Objective, irrefutable evidence and yet he continually showed that he doubted his own observation. Roxie pursed her lips as she studied the man. Ere long he’d have to acknowledge the abilities of the witch he’d married.

“What do you know about the quest spell, Roxie?” Beth sat on Mitch’s lap in one of the chairs flanking the fireplace.

Mitch, too, tended to be reticent about the three sisters and their magical talents. Even though he would soon be a member of the family of witches with their individual gifts. Still, he’d only been part of the group for a couple of months. Over time, she hoped he’d come around fully to believe in them. Like Max and Zak.

“Enough to know that Leo and I may need all of you to help.” She slid her gaze to take in the rest of the group.

Max and Zak had married the Golden sisters’ cousins, Meredith and Paulette, respectively. The owners of the Twin Oaks plantation and B&B, the sisters had been instrumental in freeing the two ghosts who once haunted the place. Luckily, the ghosts were friendly and not scary. A whole different kind of magic might have been necessary in such a case. Roxie’s wand fingers itched at the thought. It had been too long since she’d had a solid reason to seriously wield her wand. Warming her cousin’s tea did not satisfy the itch. She put her wand away with a reluctant sigh.


I had to go digging for what kind of wood her wand would most likely be made of. There are many to choose from with their own unique properties and affinities, I found out. The list at Dragon Oak includes alder, apple, ash, basswood, beech, birch, cedar, cherry, elder, elm, hawthorn, hazel, hickory, honey locust, holly, ivy, lilac, maple, oak, Osage orange, poplar, sassafras, vine, black walnut, and willow. After reading through the descriptions, I chose ash for Roxie’s wand. Why?

Several of the properties tie into Roxie’s family heritage and her personal abilities as a witch. With her Irish ancestry, the fact that ash is a sacred tree of Celtic Astrology struck a chord. The more importantly ash “aids in communication, intelligence, wisdom, and promotes curiosity” which are all important to Roxie. And it’s also the “wood of the writer, poet, and scholar” which Roxie is as well.

I looked a bit further into ash wood wands over at British Originals to see what they had to say. Turns out “ash wands cling to its one true master” and so shouldn’t be handed down to another witch. Also Roxie’s stubborn nature makes her an ideal candidate for an ash wand since “witches…best suited to ash wands are not lightly swayed from their beliefs or purposes.”

I do find it fascinating that so much thought has gone into understanding the inherent properties of individual woods and how people can use them to suit a given purpose. I do not fully understand it myself, but is an interesting aspect of the woods available. To think of how they possibly impact us without our being aware of the subtle influences they generate.

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 is now available!

Charmed Against All Odds is also part of the Common Elements Romance Project. More than 75 romances—historical, sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, suspense—which include the same 5 elements. Those elements are a guy named Max, a lost set of keys, a tall stack of books, a haunted house, and a lightning storm. Visit the website for a listing of all the books by subgenre and for monthly giveaways.

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.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo      Apple

Charm #6: Feather or quill #amwriting #reading #PNR #CommonElementsRomanceProject #fiction #books #paranormal #jewelry #research #relationships

Book birthday! It’s finally here! Charmed Against All Odds is now available! Which means I’ve hit the 20 published books milestone. That’s nonfiction and fiction titles, too. Hubby and I are going out somewhere nice tonight to celebrate, because I never thought I’d have so many published and even more to come. I’ve got plans…!

Now, on to the enchanted charm bracelet featured in Charmed. Each charm represents a characteristic I feel is important in order to have a solid relationship with the one you love. I’ve shared the reasons for why I chose an open book, a Friend charm, a handshake, a Comedy and Tragedy Theater masks, and an arrow charm. The sixth and final charm is a feather or quill.

Charm #6: Feather or Quill

The quill is an old-fashioned tool for writing with ink to communicate with someone. Letters were the most used form of communicating with people at a distance. If you’ve been following my career or my blog, then you may realize that I adore the 18th century as a time period to write about. My A More Perfect Union series is set in Charleston, South Carolina during the American Revolution in 1782. At that time the quill was the best tool for writing.

Communication is extremely important in any relationship, from professional to personal. Clear personal communication depends on several of the other characteristics I’ve talked about in my previous posts about the charms: honesty, trust, friendship, and being open to learning about the other person’s opinions and experiences. I suppose to some extent those characteristics also apply to professional communication as well. Let’s look at each a bit more closely.

Honesty feeds the content of your conversation or letter, whatever mode of communication you’re using. If your message is not telling the truth as you see it, then doubt and allegations of lying may follow (as opposed to a misinterpretation or honest mistake). To have a solid relationship, therefore, when you speak or write to your significant other, it’s important to be honest.

You also must trust the other person, and they trust you, in order for your message to be accepted. If you can’t trust the other person for whatever reason, likely your communication will be more guarded, perhaps hedging your words more to protect yourself. This can weaken the bond between you and your significant other.

I include friendship here because if you’re in a loving relationship friendship is most likely at the foundation of the link between you. And it seems to naturally evolve from the first two characteristics of trust and honesty.

Finally, being open-minded is important to have a good communication because if you’re not then you’re probably not hearing, listening, or receiving the real message being sent. Errors in intent or meaning may then occur because the close-minded person has already decided how they will react to the perceived message. Probably negatively since they’ve stopped accepting what’s being conveyed. Actively listening or reading with an eye to understanding the other’s point of view will smooth any misunderstandings that may arise through a garbled message. We all mistakes sometimes in how we phrase something or our interpretation of what’s happened and then make assumptions.

Case in point. I came home from a quick trip to Texas on a stormy Sunday evening. My son’s car wasn’t parked where he normally parks, on the left side of the driveway. Instead he’d parked in my spot on the right side. I knew he and my hubby were aware I was almost home and I was glad to see I could park closer to the sidewalk and run inside from the rain. I thought he’d moved his car out of courtesy. In fact, he’d thought I wasn’t going to be home so had parked in my spot so that my hubby could run an errand (he parks in the garage on the left side of the driveway). So I had totally misunderstood the situation but was still happy to have a shorter distance to get inside. (Don’t think badly about the fact I park outside and hubby parks inside. He’s the one that has to get up and go to work each morning while I walk into my office, so I suggested he park in the garage so he doesn’t have to face the weather and such.)

One other point I’d like to make about communication. You must communicate with your significant other. Not talking, sending an email, a letter, a paper airplane with your message will almost definitely lead to a breakdown in your relationship. We’re very imaginative beings so when something confuses or annoys or upsets us we can find any number of “reasons” which may or may not be the real underlying cause. It’s far easier to have a conversation and clear up the mystery or misunderstanding than to let it simmer until it explodes into a fight. Even if that conversation is difficult to have—and trust me my hubby and I have had several in the 38 years we’ve known each other, including 32 years married—working out the differences can bring you closer together. You’ll see the other perspective and hopefully understand the other point of view, and vice versa. Then you find a compromise.

I do hope you’ll read Charmed Against All Odds and then let me know what you think of Leo and Roxie’s story.

I’m heading out for a nice dinner with my loving, supportive, sometimes frustratingly stubborn husband. And as always, 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 is now available!

Charmed Against All Odds is also part of the Common Elements Romance Project. More than 75 romances—historical, sci fi, fantasy, contemporary, paranormal, suspense—which include the same 5 elements. Those elements are a guy named Max, a lost set of keys, a tall stack of books, a haunted house, and a lightning storm. Visit the website for a listing of all the books by subgenre and for monthly giveaways.

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.

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo      Apple