Spellcraft in Fiction, Or How to Write A Spell #research #magic #magick #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

So, to continue the discussion on basic magic knowledge and skills, let’s talk about spells. (You can read about the basics of magic and Cassie’s wand if you missed those posts.) Now, I’ve written many kinds of documents and texts: poems, essays, articles, technical reports, performance appraisals, newspaper columns, and of course books. But in Desperate Reflections, I needed a spell for Abram to use with his special ring. How does one write such a bit of prose?

So once again I referred to my experts: Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Both have great advice on how to approach spellcraft, if you’re interested in learning more about it. Since I wasn’t looking to write an actual working spell, but one that approximated such a bit of text, I mainly looked at the way language was used and tried to incorporate bits of the meter and flow as well as reverence to the Goddess.

Sabin gave some succinct guidance on writing a spell. She says, “If you choose to write your spell, first think of your goal. Find a way to state your goal clearly in words, either with rhyme or without. Then build the ritual around this center statement of intent. Incorporate the correspondence you’ve chosen, either directly into the words or into the greater ritual.” She goes on to provide a Sample Spell and how to perform the ritual associated with it, which gave me greater insight into how I might write a spell myself.

De Angeles includes many different spells in her book, so I spent some time reviewing them. I was looking for similarities between them so that when I attempted to write a spell specific for my story it would seem authentic and possibly even effective. I borrowed a couple of modified lines from her spells but made up the first two lines in my spell for my purposes. Her spells are much longer and involve specific ritualistic steps. Let me share part of one of de Angeles’ spells, in this case for a Fetch, so you can see what I mean:

“I call upon the powers of Earth,
By Aradia, by Cernunnos!
Come to my circle to guard and to guide!
Blessed be the powers of Earth!
This Cup is the symbol of Woman and Goddess,
This Blade is the symbol of Man and God.
Cojoined, are They, in the way of Creation!
Life within Death, Death within Life.
Blessed be the fruit of the Vine! […]
By the ancient awesome law of Three;
As I do Will so mote it be!”

Here’s where Abram learns the spell from his mother Mercy:

Mercy shimmered into view a few feet from him. “Abram, before you try to shift let me tell you about how you can use the ring to help you succeed.”

He sucked in a shaky breath at her sudden appearance. “Very well.”

“Close your right hand.” She demonstrated with her ghostly hand until he did as instructed. “Then say,

‘I summon the protections of this ring
To guard me and aid me in my intent.
By Earth, By Sky, By Sea
By the ancient Law of Three,
As I Will, so mote it be.’”

“What will that do?” He needed some reassurance of the intent and outcome behind the spell before he’d follow her instructions. Even though he had become adept at adjusting to quick changes, the more he knew beforehand the smoother his adaption to the new direction.

“This spell protects your true nature so you can return to it when you’re finished.” She drifted a little to one side, pressing her lips together. “It doesn’t increase your ability but it does provide a layer of protection.”

He frowned at the idea of casting a spell. Of acknowledging his witchy inheritance. “I don’t know…”

“You do want to be able to shift back into your true self, right?” Her arched brows and slight shake of her head made him feel like a fool.

He steeled his courage. “Of course.”

“Then memorize the spell so you can invoke it when you feel threatened and uncertain.” She smiled at him and then shimmered. “I’ll see you later.”

Now, the spell I wrote is supposed to be used in conjunction with a ring, so don’t try using it, okay? <grin>

Desperate Reflections is out and available! Enjoy!

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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Which Wand for a Witch? #research #magic #magick #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

Last time I talked about how my characters in the Fury Falls Inn series have to learn the basics of magic. For Cassandra Fairhope, she also needs to learn about her wand and how to use it. Now, after doing a bit of research I can tell you that there are a wide array of opinions on what wood to use, whether to use a fallen limb or cut a fresh stick, whether to decorate it with sigils or other symbols, and more. I needed to decide what wood her wand would be made from so I consulted my two references for their views on wood choices as well as the Grove and Grotto site that provides in-depth information about a lot of wand woods.

Sabin’s advice for people who want to follow Wiccan ways is slightly different from de Angeles’ guidance for people who want to practice witchcraft. Sabin says the wand is “a fancy stick” used to focus energy. She also recommends knowing how to focus energy without using a tool such as a wand for instances where you don’t have one at hand. She says the most common woods for Wiccan wands include oak, ash, and willow. But she adds that a wand can be made of anything including copper or silver or bone among other options.

De Angeles insists that the wand must be made by hand, whether it is “simple or carved, inscribed, or painted with the sigils of magic.” She identifies two types of wands, one that is “permanent” used for your rituals and one that is “created for specific purposes” and then “buried after use.” She provides the length, too. It should be “from (approximately) the tip of your middle finger to the inside of your elbow.” She lists the traditional sacred woods as willow, hazel, oak, rowan, hawthorn, blackthorn, birch, beech, applewood, and elm.

So what kind of wand did I choose for Cassie to use in my series?

I scanned the list of woods at Grove and Grotto to get more information as to meanings and properties of various woods. I was looking for qualities and properties that meshed with what Cassie’s world view and desires are. Then I had to make sure the wood was readily available in Alabama so she would pick up a branch of the tree and use it for her wand. After all, the series is set in 1821 and while international trade was huge even then, it would be far easier to pick from available woods instead of importing a more exotic one. So I visited Flora of Alabama to find out which kinds of trees grow there.

I settled on cherry because of its availability and its specific properties. Especially, “harmonious, feminine energy, good for healing, love magick, unity, and community.” Those aspects of the wood’s properties would call to Cassie at an instinctual level.

You’ll notice I didn’t follow either Sabin’s or de Angeles’ advice as to which wood to use. That’s because I really believe in going with your instincts and I think Cassie would be drawn to something more domestic and relevant to her world. Cassie is a unique individual and so is her wand.

Here’s a short snippet from Desperate Reflections where Cassie’s aunt is giving her the first lesson in how to use a wand. In fact, it’s the first time Cassie finds out she has a wand of her own that’s been locked away in one of her mother’s trunks…


Cassie yanked the keys from her pocket before she could change her mind. Soon the lid was up and the array of jewelry boxes, old books, and keepsakes were exposed. Hope leaned over the open trunk, reaching in to lift first one then another of the heirlooms to inspect. Thankfully, replacing each as she sifted and sorted through the collection.

“Aha!” Hope rummaged deeper into the trunk, and then held up a twisted piece of reddish-brown wood. “I found it.”

“What is it?” Surely that thing wasn’t for her. Something else must have been calling to her.

“Why, your wand, of course.” Hope handed it to her, handle first, a scowl descending on her features. “My sister didn’t even let you keep the wand you made as a girl?”

“I didn’t find out I was a witch until a few weeks ago.” She tentatively accepted the tapered wand. The smooth wood warmed to her touch, humming softly, much like a kitten purring in its sleep. “I don’t recall making it.”

“I was there the day you found the fallen limb of a tree and held it up with such joy on your face.” Hope shifted to aim a bemused expression at her. “Your father shaped the handle into that slow twist and then let you sand it smooth with your little hands. I think you were two or so at the time so it’s quite understandable you don’t recall doing so.”

Gripping the handle of the wand, she gave a tentative flick of the blunt tip in the air. Nothing happened. “How does it work?”

Hope chuckled and shook her head slowly. “Not like that. You must have a purpose and intent in mind when you use it to direct your will.”


Tomorrow, May 11, Desperate Reflections will release! I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think of the story. It’s the third story in a six-book series, so three more to go!

May a good story take you to new imaginative places! 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Book Sale in Honor of a New Release #sale #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #romance #books

It’s May and that means my next release is only days away! So I’ve decided to put the first two books in the series on sale for the month of May to encourage readers to catch up on what they may have missed. Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series Book 3) will release on May 11, 2021, and it’s chock full of surprises, secrets, magic, ghosts, and food! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series now is your chance to grab a Kindle copy of each and save money at the same time.

Here’s what the first two are about:

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. 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…

Only $.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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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…

Only $1.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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Of course, you know there will be more: magic, ghosts, secrets, and food! Pre-order Desperate Reflections to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Now back to writing book 4 in the series… Until next time, 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Some Basics of Magic and Witchcraft #research #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

I was talking with a friend and fellow author the other day about the process of writing a series. Obviously the biggest difference between writing a single book and a series of connected stories is that there needs to be an overarching story for the entire series. In the case of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series that means 6 stories with an ever-growing cast of characters. The core story in the series is about the Fairhope family coming back together to defend against a common threat. But each story has its own internal story arc as well. Writing this series has been a challenge for me in several ways.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the series which you can read about here. When I wrote that post I had just released the second book in the series, Under Lock and Key, and by then had a better feel for where the series story was heading. Then I wrote the third book, Desperate Reflections, which is up for pre-order now (see below) and will release on May 11, 2021. When I finished writing that story I realized I needed to have a high-level outline of the remaining three books in the series in order to ensure that I wrap up all the of the threads running through these stories. So I took some time to brainstorm all of the events and revelations I could identify that needed to be included in upcoming stories. I feel far more confident that I’ll address the currently open questions as a result! But let me tell you it really stretches my imagination in ways I’ve never done before.

My witchcraft reference books

Another challenge with this series is writing about magic and witches and warlocks. See, I am not a witch nor do I practice magic. Which means I had to do some research to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those people who do practice some form of magic or have special abilities. So naturally I turned to books written by practicing witches to find out more about what life is like for them. Specifically, Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Although they each approach their practice from slightly different perspectives, they agreed on a good bit. These two books also provided the theories and philosophies behind the practical aspects of witchcraft. That is something I intend to weave into my characters’ knowledge as well.

In this series, my main heroine Cassandra Fairhope discovers she comes from a family of witches. She’s surprised by the news but takes to the idea of practicing magic even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Well, neither did I! So I tapped my research books for guidance on the basics she and later her brothers would need to know.

From my reading, the most basic step before performing a spell or ritual is to ground and center in order to protect yourself as you work with the energy around you. According to Sabin, grounding and shielding are both important visualizations to know how to do. Sabin says, “These techniques will allow you to have more control in your energy work by giving you ways to get rid of excess energy and protect yourself from unwanted energy.” I paraphrased her description of the technique she teaches her students to use as a meditation in Desperate Reflections when Abram is reluctantly learning how to ground and center:


“Now, ground and center.”

“How do you expect me to do both?” Abram sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor that evening, hands resting on his knees as he tried to follow his sister’s instructions. He gazed at her, wondering if she believed the mystical nonsense she’d spouted over the last several minutes. “And what do you mean by center?”

“Relax and breathe. Picture a glowing golden taproot connecting your spine to the earth beneath you.” Cassie perched on the edge of a chair in front of the fireplace in the parlor, her expression serene and gentle. “Close your eyes and concentrate.” She paused for several seconds as he let his lids drop. “Can you see it?”

He inhaled slowly, struggling with the conflicting desires to dismiss her guidance as utter rubbish or to follow her instructions and see what might happen. Despite his reservations, the image of a thick, strong taproot like that of an ancient pine tree formed in his mind’s eye. “Now what?”

“Feel the earth’s energy flowing gently and warmly to the base of your spine.”

A slight tingling warmed his hips as he sat with his eyes closed, seeing the energy like a glowing golden stream flowing up along the taproot and into his body. Squeezing his eyes tight to ensure he didn’t open them and lose the image, he waited for her next directions.

“Now feel the energy flow through your legs down all the way to your feet. Then let it flow up your spine and through your arms and hands.”

“It’s so warm. I didn’t expect to feel that.” He flexed his fingers then relaxed them on his knees. The gentle warmth surged through his entire body, filling him with a sense of peace and security but mostly a surprisingly deep connection to the earth.

“That’s perfect. Now, push the excess energy back down the taproot but keep your own energy alive inside.” Her soft voice drifted to his ears and assisted him in easing the unnecessary energy back into the earth through the golden taproot. “When you’re done, open your eyes.”

He pictured the last of the excess energy evaporating into the ground even as a sense of completion and readiness filled him. He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “That was amazing.”


Interpreting the experience from the guidance of a practicing witch helps me imagine how my characters might also have the experience and their reactions. Hopefully with some sense of authenticity despite my own lack of personal experience. I can’t include every aspect of the philosophies and techniques used but I will try to set the stage and the context for my characters and thus for my readers to also have a better appreciation and understanding.

There’s more magic to come, too. Check out Desperate Reflections below and be sure to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Until next time, 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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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…

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

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…

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple