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

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

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

Letter from my mother to my father in 1948.

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


“My Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Friend

Mary Lou”


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

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

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

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


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

            Our hearts in Christian love

            The fellowship of kindred minds

            Is like to that above.’

Do you approve of this being sung?”


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

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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Breakfast Martha Washington Style #colonial #foods #recipes #research #historical #fiction

Years ago I began researching colonial life with a particular fondness for recipes from the 1700s. At the time I was writing my historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, set in Charleston during the American Revolution and so I wanted to have an all-encompassing view of the life and times. Food is a very natural and important part of survival. You may recall I’ve spent a good deal of time sampling and converting colonial recipes to ones we can enjoy today. In fact, the stewed pears have become one of my hubby’s favorites!

The covers for the 5 books in the A More Perfect Union series.

As part of learning about Martha Washington before writing Becoming Martha Washington: A Novel which is planned for release this summer, I tried making sausage and flapjacks that George would enjoy. In fact, Martha included the sausage recipe in her own cookbook.

Before I started, I checked with my hubby to see if he felt brave and daring. After all, while in general we both enjoy the same things, sometimes the recipes don’t turn out as expected. I chose Oxford Kate’s Sausage (1749) and Slapjacks for Ichabod Crane (1796) out of my favorite historical recipe book Our Founding Foods by Jane Tennant. While I realize that 1796 for the slapjakcs is rather late compared to the earlier date for the sausage, I’m guessing that the recipe didn’t change significantly from 1749, just that it wasn’t deemed necessary to write it down before the end of the century because it is such a simple one. But not one I’d have thought of, let me tell you!

I wonder how frequently the Washingtons dined on these sausages. I also wonder if they enjoyed them or adapted the recipe in some way to suit their palates, like I’ve done. For one thing, beef suet is not readily available in the United States today, so I had to find a substitute. I imagine they harvested their own fats/greases when they slaughtered animals on the plantation, so they didn’t face the dilemma of finding an appropriate ingredient.

Let’s start with the sausages. The Tennant recipe called for a food processor, which I do not own, and I’m pretty sure the cooks in Martha’s kitchen didn’t either. A quick online search revealed several other ways to make sausage: 18th Century Recipes: Sausages the 18th Century Way  which shares how the British made them, and Smokehouses which included the fact that pigs were only butchered in cold winter months and then their meat smoked. So why does the recipe call for fresh pork? Makes me wonder again about what might have been included in the actual recipe. But my concerns about seasonal availability aside, let’s see how breakfast turned out.

Ingredients and finished sausages and slapjacks. Yum!

For the sausages I had to make several changes to the original recipe, including shredded butter in lieu of the beef suet, and garlic powder instead of mace. (Mace is a strong spice which neither of us enjoy.) The original recipe called for 2 Tablespoons each of salt and pepper, which I thought was too much, so I cut those back to 2 teaspoons pepper and 1 Tablespoon salt. I bought ground pork and ground beef, both lean, to use; though I could have used venison instead of the beef. The result was very good, and made much more than the recipe said it would. My hubby and I will have many more breakfasts with Kate’s Sausage since the recipe said it yielded 12 and I actually made 26! I could eat only one for breakfast, it was so filling!

After seeing how much sausage I had, I decided to cut the slapjack recipe in two, since the cakes are the size of a medium frying pan. Again, I couldn’t eat a whole one, but I ended up having the second half and another sausage for breakfast the next day. The slapjacks were also good, but I messed up on the eggs when I was halving the recipe and put in 2 instead of 1, which made the batter thicker than optimal. We enjoyed our slapjacks with butter and maple syrup, although George preferred his with honey.

I hope you enjoy the following recipes, and maybe make some adaptations of your own. After all, recipes for me are starting points, something I modify to suit our tastes and preferences.

Betty’s version of “Oxford Kate’s Sausage”

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 lb. lean ground pork
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, frozen and shredded
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 Tablespoon ground sage
  • 4 eggs, slightly beaten

Instructions

  1. Blend seasonings together in a small bowl.
  2. Crumble meats together into a large bowl.
  3. Sprinkle seasonings over meat.
  4. Add eggs and shredded butter.
  5. With your hands, mix together until all ingredients are well blended. Roll sausage out into logs the size of the length and bigness of a finger. Grease a deep frying pan and heat to medium. Add butter to cook the sausage in, be sure the butter is “boiling” before you add the sausage. Cook until brown.

Yield: 26 sausages

Slapjacks (Full recipe)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups ground corn meal
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Butter to fry
  • Maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add milk, butter, honey and eggs. Mix until well blended.
  2. Heat frying pan to medium, add butter to fry cakes. Pour about ½ cup of batter into the center of the pan to spread evenly across the heated surface.
  3. Cook until bubbly, then turn over with a large spatula and cook a minute or two on the other side. Remove from pan and keep warm while frying the rest of the slapjacks using this method.

Yield: 6 slapjacks

What do you think? Want to try these? I love the fact that there is no artificial anything in these recipes, which is one of the reasons I wanted to look into adapting colonial recipes to begin with. To find some new-to-me recipes to add a bit of variety to my diet.

And heads up, folks! Stay tuned for more information about two new historicals I’ll be releasing in June and July. I am really happy to be able to bring these stories to my readers for many reasons which I will share over the next few months. Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

Visit www.bettybolte.com for more on my books, including the A More Perfect Union historical romances.

Don’t forget about my latest historical! The first in my new Fury Falls Inn series! Book 2 is planned for release in October 2020…

Cover of The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

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…

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Charmed Against All Odds is now available!

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

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Surviving the Walls of Jericho #amwriting #reading #PNR #CommonElementsRomanceProject #fiction #books #paranormal #research

Do you like to hike? I love going to a park and hiking through the woods, up hills and down, listening for birds and looking for wildlife. Just being outside lifts my heart and stirs my imagination. In Charmed Against All Odds, as in others of my stories, my characters go hiking or for a walk outside. In my latest book, Leo recalls an important day when he and Roxie went hiking at the Walls of Jericho Trail in Scottsboro, Alabama. Years ago, I went with my husband and two kids to do the same thing.

It’s a beautiful place but it’s not an easy hike. The trail leads down to a river and waterfalls, and when I say down, I mean it. It’s pretty steep and winding around trees and rocks and roots in the path. At the bottom is a tree bridge with a handrail to cross the river. There is a posted warning that you shouldn’t hike down to the bottom during or after it rains because the river rises too high to cross. Which means you could be trapped in the valley until the waters recede.

Tree bridge at the Walls of Jericho Trail

There are two waterfalls, although by the time we made it to the first one, I was struggling so much that I didn’t climb over the rocks to be able to see it. And if I thought I was struggling then, I hadn’t even realized how I’d struggle hiking back to the car!

Trees and rock wall at the Walls of Jericho Trail

Remember how I said it was a steep descent? Well, to return we had to go up that same steep incline. I was literally taking a few steps and then having to pause because my heart was racing so hard climbing up. I think I remember that it was a one mile vertical drop and the incline was nearly vertical. Which explains the winding path because you couldn’t walk straight down without sliding and tumbling. Or at least my over-active imagination could envision such an ugly descent…

Creek at the bottom of the Walls of Jericho Trail

Obviously, I made it back to the car and survived the hike. But I haven’t ever gone back because if it was tough in 2008 when I was 11 years younger, it wouldn’t be any easier today!

The trail is lovely with lots of green trees and undergrowth.

So Leo remembers how they’d underestimated how hard a trail it is and how they’d had to struggle back up the trail and to his old car. And what that meant to them. To me, I felt like I’d survived an ordeal rather than have an enjoyable time. But I did it nonetheless. I can’t say I conquered the trail, not by any stretch of my imagination. But despite my lack of physicality and strength, I still managed to finish the hike without anyone having to call 911. Which trust me was an accomplishment!

Do you like to hike? Do you enjoy a challenge? Do you want to test your mettle at the Walls of Jericho? Or are you like me and rather take an easier trail to enjoy nature?

Thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

Charmed Against All Odds is now available!

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo      Apple

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

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

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

Charm #6: Feather or Quill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Betty

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

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

Charmed Against All Odds is now available!

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

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Charm #5: Shooting Straight to the Heart #amwriting #reading #PNR #CommonElementsRomanceProject #fiction #books #paranormal #jewelry #research #relationships

My next book is Charmed Against All Odds, and it releases in 1 week! I’m really very excited about this story, which is Roxie and Leo’s story. Writing their story was a challenge since they must complete a quest spell in order to learn their true destiny. The challenge for me was that I had to figure out what the clues would be and what they would mean to my characters. Which meant lots of prewriting before I started writing the actual story.

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

Now, on to the enchanted charm bracelet…

I’ve been talking about the charm bracelet featured in Charmed. Each charm represents a characteristic I feel is important in order to have a solid relationship with the one you love. I’ve shared the reasons for why I chose the first charm, an open book, the second one, a Friend charm, the third, a handshake, and the fourth, a Comedy and Tragedy Theater masks charm. The next charm they must find is an arrow.

Charm #5: Arrow

Why, you may be wondering. Well, I think it’s very important to be honest with everyone, including yourself. Definitely when you’re in a loving, long-time relationship you want to be truthful with your significant other. And yes, it can be difficult to be totally honest! But I do believe it’s important to speak the truth.

I’m not talking about being cruel with your honesty. Not at all. If someone asks your opinion, and you don’t like whatever it is they’re asking your opinion about, then please consider your response before you blurt out something hurtful. I’ve always tried to phrase my criticism gently or with some kind of suggestion for improvement (to my way of thinking). I expect my hubby and my loved ones in general to be honest in return.

Now, I will say that a very dear friend of mine once asked me while we were out shopping if I liked the hat she was trying on. I gave her my honest answer: it looked good on her but I wouldn’t buy it. She put it back and later told me she hadn’t bought it because I said I wouldn’t buy it. What she failed to realize is that I don’t wear hats. Not unless it’s in the single digits and I have to put something on my head or freeze. But decorative ones? No, thanks. But then I felt bad that she’d denied herself the hat she liked because of my inadequate response. I should have just said it looked cute on her and left it at that. I don’t recall now, decades later, if she asked me if I’d buy it, and then I replied I wouldn’t, so she put it back. That may be the case. Either way, I learned something that day as well about how to respond to such questions going forward.

One lesson I learned as a young woman is one that has stayed with me, and which has guided my choices on whether to delve deeper or not. You know, do I ask whether something I’m wearing looks nice? Or what hubby thinks of some other aspect of my person? Or even something about my stories, if I’m still working on something. Anything intensely personal which may sting if criticized. The lesson, or realization, is that if I think it will hurt to hear a negative answer, then I don’t ask the question. I keep my mouth shut. That way neither of us are put into an awkward situation when we want to share honestly with each other.

When my dear father started living with us (he did so for 17 years), he asked me to not tell my hubby something my dad had said about my husband. Since it concerned my hubby, I wanted to make clear to my dad that his unkind words were not appreciated. My response was, we tell each other everything. We are a team, partners in our married life. We are honest with each other to the best of our abilities. The message was hopefully clear to him. I do not keep secrets from my husband. Besides that, I could see how condoning or encouraging my dad to tell me such things would put me in the middle between the two men in my life. Not a place I ever wanted to be, even though there were many times I did find myself right smack dab in the middle. But that’s another story…

While I am open and honest with my husband, I will not reveal a secret to him which doesn’t concern him. I value my friends and family and their privacy, so if they ask me to keep something in confidence then of course I will.  That’s not the same thing as hearing someone disparage my husband and then ask me to keep it to myself. The decision as to whether to tell my husband rests with me at that point.

It’s my firm belief that if two people in a relationship don’t feel comfortable sharing their day-to-day stuff, their decisions, their futures, their lives, then they probably shouldn’t stay together. Honesty seems to me to be the foundation of trust. If you’re not sure whether your partner is telling you the truth, can you trust them? Without trust, how can you relax and be yourself with the other person? The rest of the characteristics I’m talking about all rely on each other.

So, that’s why I included the arrow charm, with the imagery of being honest and true with your significant other, your spouse, even your friend. It’s also vital that you are honest with yourself. Understand the impact and the effect of the decisions you make, both for yourself and those you love. Note that decisions can be as small as what you’re going to drink with dinner or huge like where you’re searching for your next job. The first choice may have no impact on others, while the second one could have life-changing ripple effects.

Five charms down, one more to go! And it’s a really, really important one, too.

So what are your thoughts on these characteristics? Do you disagree? Have others you’d like to add to the list?

As always, thanks for reading!

Betty

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

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

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo      Apple