Round 2: Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

As I mentioned last week when I shared Sheridan’s menu, I have two excellent cooks who have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). The winner’s menu will be added to the Fury Falls Inn’s offerings, so it’s important to each man to prove their worth. This week I want to reveal Matt Simmons’ menu and a couple of the recipes that go with it that I’ve actually made and adapted to suit my and my husband’s tastes.

In my story, Matt has elected to offer a menu that is from other countries. So he makes East Indian Curry, a Salmagundi salad, and French Green Pea Soup. I’ve made Salmagundi several times, and tailored it down to serve two people. The recipe for the salad includes chicken, but you can omit that if you’d like. I hadn’t made the curried chicken before, so I tried that recently and adjusted it down from what the recipe says would serve eight people (using two whole chickens, I might add) to serve two people, with some leftover if you’re not big eaters. While my husband was a tad reluctant to try the curry because he doesn’t enjoy spicy food, he enjoyed it as much as I did since I didn’t use much of the curry powder. (By the way, I didn’t take the time to make my own curry powder despite having a recipe to do so which employed a mortar and pestle. Instead I simply bought a jar of it at the grocery store. I know, I’m being lazy…)

Neither my husband nor myself would enjoy pea soup, so I’m sorry but I’m not going to offer that recipe here. If you’re curious, though, send me an email (betty@bettybolte.com) and I’ll share that one privately from the cookbook I’m using.

I think Matt’s combination of the curried chicken and the salad would be a very good one, from my taste buds’ point of view. I think I will make them together in the very near future. I’ve also made a scaled up version of the salad to take to a pitch-in lunch for one of my writing chapters which was a big hit, as well. You know, way back when we could actually get together in person!

So without further ado or disclaimers, here are two recipes from me to you that I really enjoyed making and eating. I hope you enjoy, too!

Betty’s Salmagundi for 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T Italian dressing
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 2 cups salad mix
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, but into bite sized pieces

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken into a shallow pan. Pour Italian dressing to coat and then cover the pan before putting into the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool before cutting into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl, layer the salad, spinach, chicken, and the remaining ingredients.

Serve as is, with dressings on the side, or drizzle Italian dressing over the salad before serving.

Betty’s Curried Chicken for 2

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • Curry powder to taste
  • 1–2 T Flour
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chicken stock, unsalted
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish with parsley and chutney

Instructions

In a small sauté pan, soften garlic and onions in 1 T oil. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir. Reserve.

In a large bowl, dust the chicken with enough flour to coat.

In a large sauté pan, brown the chicken in 1 T oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sour cream, chicken stock, and curry sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice. Garnish with parsley and chutney.

By the way, I’ve made apple orchard chutney years ago which I think would be good on this. I need to dig out that recipe for next time. I used store bought chutney this time which was also tasty so you have options as to what kind of chutney you use.

Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. I’ve completed the final draft and sent it out for a second read by a few beta readers. Then I will polish the final, final draft based on their feedback before getting it ready to publish in a few months. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. Her plan? Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

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

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

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

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

Watercress Salad

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

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

Molasses Vinaigrette

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

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

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

Betty

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

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

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

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

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You ate what? Wild edible plants in Amy’s Choice #AmRev #histfic #historical #romance #HistoricalRomance #fiction #books

I imagine by now, if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ve realized a couple of things about me. First, I love to try new recipes, adapt old ones, and cook/bake in general. Second, that I am a huge fan of research and history. When I can combine those two? I’m in heaven! Then I write about what I’ve learned, putting it into my stories to bring it to life for my readers. Take for example the following excerpt from Amy’s Choice (A More Perfect Union Book 2). Oh, and before I get into the excerpt, Amy’s Choice is on sale this week for only $.99 at Amazon! Grab your copy before the sale ends on February 12!

So, in the following snippet, Amy and Samantha have ventured into the woods behind Amy’s sister’s house in the countryside surrounding Charleston, SC, in search of foods to include in their stew that is cooking back at the manor:

They walked along in silence for several minutes, Samantha constantly searching the underbrush for edible plants. Amy wished for a less active imagination at least for this one night. Stories of ghosts blended with her memories of the incidents she’d experienced in her life, occasions that confirmed the existence of spirits.

A spiderweb slipped across her face as she ducked a tree branch. Amy brushed at the nearly invisible thread spun by the unseen traveling spider. “Oh!”

“Chin up, Amy.” Samantha ducked under another limb and chuckled. “I won’t let anything harm you.”

“What do you expect to find growing in November anyway?” Amy trudged along, glancing to either side of the trail as slight rustlings sounded at her feet. Bursts of wind eddied leaves along the trail, hinting at ghostly footfalls behind her. A blur of motion drew her attention. Too big for a songbird and too silent for a man. A shiver wiggled down her back.

“Perhaps some lamb’s-quarters but most likely a good bit of chickweed to add nourishment to the rabbit.” Samantha paused and looked about her. “I wish it were spring, when there would be more variety of appetizing plants.”

“How do you know so much about these wild plants?” Amy glanced over her shoulder as another whirling dervish of leaves rose up behind her.

“My time with the Cherokee shaman taught me many things about survival,” Samantha murmured. “Ah, white pine will help us season the stew.”

“A pine?” Amy blinked in astonishment, noting the swift change in subject. “How?”

“The bark adds a very pleasant smoky flavor.” Samantha pushed through the low bushes to reach the tree in question and carefully pulled off some loose bits of bark and laid them in the basket before returning to the path. “That should do.”

“I never would have thought a tree would be part of my supper.” Amy shook her head as she trailed after Samantha’s retreating figure. “Your knowledge is impressive.”

“The woods are full of wonderfully nutritious plants if you know when to harvest which parts of them.” Samantha held a low branch for Amy to grasp, avoiding a nasty slap in the face. “Timing is the key.”

Now please know that I am not claiming to be any kind of expert on harvesting wild plants, and I’ve likely mischaracterized just how you go about harvesting and eating them. I’m sorry if that is the case! My goal is to tell a good story, not teach others about wild plants. With that caveat, let’s look at why I chose those three wild plants for them to be searching for. The simple answer? Because they had the widest chance of being available in the fall in the South.

Chickweed grows worldwide and most any time of the year if conditions are right, according to John Kallas, PhD, in his Edible Wild Plants: Wild Foods from Dirt to Plate. It’s also highly nutritious, containing bunches of iron, zinc, and potassium, and tastes good to boot if you know how to harvest it properly.

He also sings the praises of wild spinach, or lamb’s-quarters, sharing that it is better than spinach in how much fiber, beta carotene, vitamin C, riboflavin, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese. It also grows across the entire country, so the chances of it being where Samantha could find it were good.

Then you have that surprising (to me) ingredient of white pine. I mean, it’s not something I would have even guessed would be edible. But according to Will Brendza of the Skilled Survival site, it most definitely can be eaten and even save your life. If you’d like details on how to prepare and consume pine tree parts, visit Eating Pine – How to Eat A Pine Tree To Survive. He goes into great detail about making pine tea and how to cut and eat pine bark. Knowing that pine trees grow in the South, too, it seemed like a fitting ingredient for Samantha to harvest.

Of course, the other consideration before making my choices was which plants had been in the country during the time period (1782) of my series. All of these fit that criteria, as well.

So there you have it. A peek at my thought process and research for my stories.

One more thing to share with you all! The A More Perfect Union historical romance series is now available in audiobook format! I’ll include the link to Amy’s Choice audiobooks below.

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.

When Amy Abernathy’s childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence without a word of goodbye, Amy picks up the pieces of her heart and chooses independence. When Benjamin returns unexpectedly, Amy flees to the country to help her pregnant sister and protect her heart.

Benjamin Hanson knows he hurt Amy, but he also knows he can make it up to her after he completes his mission. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he’s never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from the vengeful British occupation.

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Audiobooks:
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Fury Falls Inn vs. the Willard Hotel Which is finer? #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

While writing the third book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Desperate Reflections, which is coming out later this spring, I needed a fine, high class hotel in the Washington, D.C. area for my main character to compare to the haunted inn in my series. (Note: the inn does not fare well in this comparison.) As usual, I searched my memories for any possibilities and came up with the Willard Hotel.

The Willard Hotel in 1902. Photo: Library of Congress

Why the Willard? Well, I know it’s old because my parents honeymooned there after their wedding in 1948. It’s still in operation today. In fact, my brother-in-law met his wife while working there as an accountant a couple of decades ago. So there are two links to this hotel in my mind. Not only did family stay and work there, but it’s also now one of the finest hotels and is even listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. But how old is it?

Great! A research question! Turns out there has been a hotel of one kind or another at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW since 1816. A Colonel John Tayloe III built six buildings which he then leased out to Joshua Tennison, who called his new lodgings the Tennison’s Hotel. After several name changes and operators over the next few decades, it was finally purchased by Henry Willard and named the Willard Hotel in 1847.

Given that this series is set in 1821 north Alabama, I used the reference to Tennison’s Hotel in what they called the Territory of Columbia (until 1847) as the finer hotel than the inn could ever become. Especially from Abram Fairhope’s elevated and elitist sensibilities.

If you get a chance, you might want to swing by the Willard someday just to see how beautiful a building it is. And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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On Knowing Martha Washington #research #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Last week I mentioned that I would be interviewed by Cynthia Brian on the Be The Star You Are! radio broadcast. If you missed the live show, you can still hear the replay at https://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/126745/soil-and-leaves-becoming-lady-washington-cyberbulling-rising. It was a quick and interesting 30-minute conversation and I hope you’ll listen to it, too.

One of the questions Cynthia asked me was about how I could know so much about Martha if she burned her personal correspondence with George. She also said that Becoming Lady Washington read like an autobiography, a huge compliment to my mind.

Answering her question thoroughly would take a little while, so I gave a shorthand answer during the show. But I wanted to share here with you all a little more about how I went about really getting to know about her life and times, her attitude and concerns, and everything going on in her world.

The first thing I did in order to begin finding out more about this truly remarkable woman was to buy two biographies about Martha to read. They both provided good information, but I relied on Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady far more because it was so well researched and documented.

Two important references for getting to know Martha Washington: “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington and Martha Washington: An American Life

Then I created a timeline table where I listed key events by date. These events came from Martha’s life but also George Washington’s. I even included events I discovered by researching Dolley Madison’s life because Martha and Dolley’s lives intersected several times. Every source I used informed this timeline, too. My list of references is 7 pages long in 10-point font, by the way. It includes book titles (physical ones on my shelves and online archives), articles found online, information from National Park websites and other sites for historic places, and government sites with related information. Every time I found an event that impacted her life I added it to the timeline along with the source.

One of the most important books for really knowing how she thought, felt, reacted, acted, etc., was “Worthy Partner”: The Papers of Martha Washington edited by Joseph E. Fields. Although only 5 letters between Martha and George survive today, the collection of correspondence in this volume includes letters between Martha and many other friends and relatives and business contacts. This is where I could really get inside her head, so to speak, to hear her voice in the cadence of the words she used and to glimpse the concerns and desires she held dear.

I hope you’ll listen to the interview linked above and also read Becoming Lady Washington to also get to know and understand our first First Lady.

Thanks for 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Fence enclosing what could be a corral or garden

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Betty

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

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

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

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

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Sending Letters in a Time of War #Baltimore #WWII #research #history #ReadIndie #NotesofLoveandWar

Letters during WWII kept soldiers fighting oversees aware of what was happening at home. How their families and loved ones were faring. Letters remained a vital part of communication even after the fighting ended. But the interesting thing to me is the many forms of communication that I found in my dad’s collection of correspondence.

Not only penned letters on stationary, but also telegrams, post cards, greeting cards, and the most intriguing Victory Mail (V-Mail). There is a complete history and explanation at that link about the format and uses of V-Mail. Including a tutorial of sorts on how letters should be written to be upbeat and positive to bolster the reasons for why the men were fighting. It’s an interesting online exhibit to poke around in.

I’ve been slowly working my way through transcribing my dad’s correspondence so I thought I’d share a few examples of the kinds of ways he sent and received letters. Note that I started with the year they married, 1948, as that has the bulk of the exchange since they were getting reacquainted after not contacting each other in years. As you can see in this photo of all his letters, sorted by year, month, and day, there are a lot of letters to get through.

Hundreds of letters! Not even counting the V-Mail…

My mother’s stationery varied over time but here’s an example from July 1948:

Upon occasion, Dad started typing his letters on the letterhead for the photography company he worked for:

Dad sent a postcard to my mother in September 1948, but included within the folded letter in an envelope:

Mom sent Dad a telegram to confirm when she’d arrive in Miami in June 1948 for a visit with him, bringing her sister along for the vacation:

But seriously look at the number of V-Mail letters my dad received! They are each a little bigger than a playing card, or maybe about the size of a tarot card.

V-Mail letters to my dad. The first one is from his mother.

The V-Mail letters are from his friends, fellow soldiers, brothers and sisters, and mother. I didn’t find any letters between father and son, though. Which isn’t surprising because they really didn’t see eye-to-eye. Dad harbored some hard feelings toward his father to the last of his days.

In Notes of Love and War, you’ll find letters, telegrams, and V-Mail being exchanged between Audrey and her brother, father, and Charlie. The formats within the book are designed to reflect, though not exactly replicate, each form of communication. It’s more apparent in the paperback than ebook, of course, since the medium allows for anchoring the text to the page in ways that a digital book cannot. My aim was to provide a feeling for the varying kinds of communication and thus lend a sense of the times to modern day readers.

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.

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

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

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The Infamous Owl Bar at the Belvedere #Baltimore #research #history #Speakeasy #ReadIndie

Remember how much I love to go to historic sites to do research? It’s even better when I can do so with great friends and food and drink is involved!

While researching for Notes of Love and War, I wanted to visit the Baltimore Streetcar Museum to actually ride on a 1940s era streetcar (which I did but that’s a story for another time). I invited my dear friends to meet me and my husband for lunch and then go to the museum. She asked around for recommendations since she lives in Maryland and we found ourselves going to the famous (or infamous) Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

I didn’t know anything about the Owl Bar but I had heard of the Belvedere. It’s an elegant and distinguished building catering to the elite of society. If you’re interested in its history, you can read more and see some photos of it here. In fact, many celebrities have stayed at the hotel and probably dined at the Owl Bar while there.

Before going into the bar for lunch, we paused to look at the Celebrity Wall. The wall features photos of the many celebrities who had visited. Now, the fact that celebrities were so prone to frequent the site made me wonder whether my father might have also gone to the Owl Bar when he was in town visiting my mother before they married, or perhaps upon occasion after they married and settled down in the area. See, my dad has met a host of celebrities in his life. Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack Benny, and even Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh who starred in Gone with the Wind to name a few. In his 1999 memoir, Through the Lens, he even included a section where he listed the ones he remembered meeting.

So I can only wonder if he might have gone to the famous Owl Bar to check out who he might see. I wish I could ask him about it, but he passed in 2011. So many questions I would love to have answers to after delving into his personal correspondence a couple of years ago! But just pondering the possibility while looking at the pictures started me realizing that I may indeed be walking where he might have been. A chill swept through me at the thought, one that would be repeated several times that day.

I can imagine the Owl Bar would have drawn him in with its intrigue. See, it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Apparently, they kept two owl figures on the bar. If they were lit, then alcohol was available. A silent yet effective way of letting the patrons know whether it was safe to order a beer or whiskey. We enjoyed our meal and the experience of the bar. I’m glad we went and I’d go back (but they’re currently closed until further notice). It was rather fun to try to imagine the place filled with people (at lunch time there weren’t that many people in the bar) all having a good time with music perhaps playing. It was the kind of place I could see my dad clearly feeling at home.

While the Owl Bar and the Belvedere are not included in Notes of Love and War, it did provide me with a feel of the city and its surroundings. I hope my sense of the environment and imaginings about what it might have been like in the 1940s during WWII is conveyed throughout my story. Let me know after you read it, won’t you?

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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Writing Lessons Learned while Revising a Series #amrevising #amwriting #amediting #ReadIndie #writingcommunity

Let’s talk about how a writer learns and grows over time, shall we? I recently decided to have my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, narrated as audiobooks (more to come on that endeavor very soon). Which provided the perfect opportunity to look at revising the stories to make them better. Boy, was that an eye-opening experience!

Before I get into the details of that, I’d like to announce that the second book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Under Lock and Key, will release in October and is currently up for preorders. You can find the description and links below. Isn’t the cover cool? I hope you’ll enjoy the story!

Now on to today’s topic. I know that my writing skills have improved with time, but sitting down to read the first ever historical romance was humbling to say the least. Emily’s Vow was written in 2012-2013 and published in the fall of 2014. So figure 8 years ago I wrote that book, again the first historical romance I wrote and published. I followed that one with Amy’s Choice which released the same month, October 2014. So I was not surprised to find those two needed the most work to bring them up to snuff.

Before I did any revisions, I made a point of reading the reviews to see what readers had grumbled about with the stories. Then I made sure I addressed those issues as I went through making sometimes wholesale changes to scenes and characterization. In fact, I added two new scenes in Emily’s Vow to address some gaps in the story logic.

The next two, Samantha’s Secret and Evelyn’s Promise, were released more recently so didn’t need nearly as much revision, but still there were changes and deletions made, additions inserted, some sentences rearranged. I didn’t see a need for new scenes in any of the stories other than Emily’s story.

One writing crutch I cringed over was my overuse, or over-dependence, on smiles, nods, shrugs, glances. I found myself chastising my earlier self with “stop nodding and smiling.” Of course, people do nod and smile and other facial and shoulders/arms/hands gestures, but more variety was desperately needed!

Another crutch that I reduced was the number of internal “spoken” dialogue (typically appearing in italics). I really leaned heavily on that in Samantha’s Secret, but it’s been weeded out as much as possible.

Overall, the stories remained the same but only told with more skill (I hope, anyway!). I’ll be sharing more about each of them as they’re available, so stay tuned!

I hope you’ll also check out Under Lock and Key and preorder your copy today! Thanks in advance for your interest and support!

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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The Arabbers’ Role in Baltimore’s History #inspiration #arabbers #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

I’ve shared previously about the excellent history book I used as research for writing Notes of Love and War. Within the pages of Home Front Baltimore was mention of the arabbers (pronounced ay-rabbers) in Baltimore. These merchants were new to me, but apparently not to my brother who still lives in Maryland. So I did some more research to learn more about them, and let me tell there is much of interest surrounding these unique men.

All they need to bring merchandise, produce, meat/fish, home furnishings, or any other portable item to the people of the city was a horse, a colorfully decorated wagon, and sturdy shoes. From what I read, arabbers were in many major cities along the eastern seaboard of America beginning in the 1800s. They were very important for residents who couldn’t travel to a store or who may have been ill. After all, the store came to them, along with a cheery conversation with the men and perhaps a friendly pat for the horse. The horses are usually bedecked in plumes or feathers, with jangling harness. The men developed their own individual “look” for their wagons and created a catchy attention-grabbing jingle that would help the customers know who was approaching their front door. The residents know and trust these salesmen, too.

Here’s a short snippet where the arabbers are mentioned in Notes of Love and War:

“Audrey half-jogged down the crowded sidewalk, weaving past people bustling along wrapped head to toe, scarves and gloves barriers against the cold. The melodic chant of an arabber drifted over the murmur of conversation around her. A patient horse in jingling harness pulled the man’s colorful wagon, piled with heads of broccoli and cauliflower as well as lemons and grapefruit. She smiled at the black man leading the horse by its bridle, a jaunty plume between the animal’s ears. Rae, in her silver muskrat fur coat and black beret, waited at the corner for Audrey, tapping one pump-clad foot.”

There are still arabbers in Baltimore today. Not nearly as many as leading up to World War II and throughout the middle of the 1900s. A quick search as I was preparing to write this blog also revealed how important a role they are playing during this pandemic. They are distributing not only food to those who can’t go to the store for one reason or another, but also information on how to prevent transmission of the virus.

There was a photographic exhibit last year, too, that attracted many visitors. And you can view a photo gallery at the Facebook page for the Arabber Preservation Society. These men and their horses have provided a vital service to many for generations, and I’m glad I included them in the city description within my novel to help preserve their history and bring awareness of their service to my readers.

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.

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.

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

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