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.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Inoculation and Disease in the 18th Century #research #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Before I get to today’s topic, I’d like to share that I’ll be interviewed on StarStyle Radio about Becoming Lady Washington. I understand the interviewer, Cynthia Brian, does an excellent job with interesting questions, too. Am I nervous? A bit, since this airs on the Voice of America with over a million listeners… Here’s what you need to know if you’d like to listen:

Tune into the radio program StarStyle®-Be the Star You Are! with host Cynthia Brian on Wednesday, November 18, 2020 from 4-5pm PST (6-7 CST). You can listen from your computer by going to http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

If you miss the live show, you can find it archived at that site with photos and descriptions at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

It’s only a few days from now and I’m excited to find out what she’ll ask. I hope you’ll tune in and let me know what you think. Now, on to today’s topic.

During this difficult time in world health, I have found myself frequently comparing our situation to that of people in the 18th century when so many devastating and deadly diseases abounded. Back then we didn’t know or understand how bacteria or viruses spread. We knew that when people who were sick spent time around others, the others were likely to be infected as well. But how exactly?

I’ve read about people setting up smudge pots in the streets to try to ward off yellow fever in Philadelphia. Shooting rifles in the air, too. Or wearing a pouch filled with herbs and mustard and other things. Anything to try to protect themselves. Given the number of people who died during the outbreak there in 1793, they were not successful. But they seriously didn’t know how to fight it. Here’s a short snippet from Becoming Lady Washington where Martha Washington is pondering the dire epidemic in the city:


By August, the city officials changed their story, admitting an epidemic ravaged the populace. Apparently, the refugees from the slave uprising in the West Indies brought more than rum and sugar on the ships sailing up the Delaware. They’d brought yellow fever, too. More than ever, I worried about George. He’d been under such strain during the last several months, would he be able to fight off the disease should he contract it?

The fever and its horrid effects—vomiting blood, bleeding from ears, nose and eyes, as well as delirium and jaundice—spread to our part of town. The number of deaths each day multiplied. The stench of tar burning in barrels placed around the city choked me, but they were necessary to ward off the disease. Likewise, men shot guns into the air to scare off the spread of the sickness. Lists of possible ways to ward off the fever were printed in the paper. I loathed hearing the rumble of a wagon, accompanied by the gravedigger calling “bring out your dead” in a booming, sorrowful tone. More than ever, I wanted to go home, away from the crowded living conditions that surely contributed to the raging epidemic.


Inoculation became available earlier in the 18th century for some diseases. Smallpox, for example. This process requires a person to be injected with a small amount of the live disease in order to stimulate the body’s immune system to fight it, thus providing a defense against it. Martha Washington’s brother Jacky died from smallpox when he was a teenager because Virginia didn’t allow people to receive the treatment. Here’s a short excerpt showing her brother’s losing battle:


Summer heat surrounded me as I hovered over my brother. The pungent odor of the medicine fought the smell of disease, combining to make me cough and my stomach to churn. Tucking the quilt into place over Jacky, I prayed for a miracle. I’d never seen any one so sick before, so weakened by a virulent attack of the dreaded smallpox.

“Don’t go…” Jacky’s scratchy voice emerged from dry lips.

His bloodshot eyes implored me to stay, but Mother had insisted I let him rest. Besides, I hated seeing his body covered in the raised flat blisters of pus. Hated seeing him feverish and aching. The pain he must be in, to writhe and moan for days. He’d complained of his back hurting, his head aching, of bone-deep fatigue. Mother had some experience with treating the often deadly disease, so I would follow her lead. And pray.

“I’ll be back soon.” I gathered the soiled linens off the chair where I’d placed them earlier. “You rest, like Mother advised, and you’ll pull through.”

He closed his eyes and rolled his head side to side. “I pray you’re right, but at the moment I have serious doubts.”

I clutched the bedclothes to my chest. Memories of riding together and playing pranks on our kinsfolk floated through my mind. If only the new smallpox inoculation didn’t kill as often as it saved, mayhap my brother wouldn’t be so sick. The Virginia assembly had banned the use of the inoculation, believing it spread the disease. Something certainly spread it, because it seemed to be everywhere. Fortunately, not every person who contracted smallpox died. If a person only had a mild case they’d be immune to it from then on, though they were marked for life by pox scars.

“You mustn’t think that way. You’ll be up and about before you know it.”

“You’re right.” He opened his eyes and stared at me for several moments. “I’m so very tired. I think I will take a nap.” He struggled onto his side and closed his eyes again.

I fought the panic rising in my chest, pushing into my throat. My young, strong, full of life brother couldn’t die. Even in repose, Jacky’s face held lines of tension, pain, and fatigue. I couldn’t do anything more at the moment. Helpless but not hopeless, all I could do was try to ease his pain, lower his fever, and help him sip water from a cup. I had no magic or miracle to heal him. Tears sprang to my eyes as I slipped out the door and pulled it closed.


Today we have vaccines to inoculate people against a variety of diseases. A vaccine uses an innocuous form of the disease, either a dead or weakened form of the disease targeted, rather than the full strength. A vaccinated person still gets the benefit of the immune system activating to build a defense to the disease but without the risk of having the live disease threatening their system.

I realize there are people who do not believe in vaccines. I know that Martha Washington longed for a way to prevent her loved ones from contracting any of the dreaded diseases prevalent during her lifetime: malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, etc. Indeed, when her son, also named Jacky in honor of her deceased brother, desired to go to Baltimore, Maryland to have the smallpox inoculation, she wanted him to be protected but didn’t want him to risk his life. Here’s a snippet from the book:


I skimmed the careful script on the linen pages trembling in my fingers. Jacky desired to travel to Baltimore in order to subject himself to the smallpox inoculation. The procedure was legal there, unlike in Virginia. If only he could have it done closer to home, then I wouldn’t mind to quite the same extent.

I thought of my brother, Jacky, and the horrible death he’d suffered because he didn’t have the opportunity to be administered the inoculation. But what if my son received the inoculation and died? The procedure involved inserting a pustule of the disease from an infected person into a cut in the arm. He dared risk his life to avoid contracting the dreadful disease. How could I agree when he may well be the only heir if Patsy succumbed to the epilepsy? Could a mother survive her son’s death, when the mother had given her permission for the potentially lethal procedure? Then again, how could I deny my son’s request when the results could prove beneficial to people in general? His act served an altruistic purpose, a desirable trait in a young man.

I sighed and picked up a pen. A few minutes later I sprinkled sand over the newly inked words granting permission to fix them in place on the page. As well as in my heart. I couldn’t deny my son anything.

Then later when she faced the choice of being inoculated herself, she had to consider the options available:

George nodded and the corners of his mouth twitched before resuming a solemn expression. “I must beg you to favor a request.”

I raised a brow and sipped my drink, intrigued. “I will certainly consider doing everything possible to please you. Pray continue.”

“The incidence of smallpox within the ranks of the army greatly concerns me. With you in camp and going out among the troops you may contract the disease. I want you here with me, as I know is also your desire. So it is a dilemma. Thus I ask you to consider going to Philadelphia to be inoculated.” He lifted his glass and held it aloft, torn between sipping and waiting for my response.

My brother’s death from the terrible sickness lingered in my memory. Would Jacky have lived if he’d received the medicine? My son had the inoculation and he had survived the introduction of what was a small amount of the virus. Apparently with no ill effects. Would I, though?

George sipped, ever patient as I pondered my answer. I should say something to let him know I was thinking about his surprising request. “Do you believe it is safe?”

He nodded again. “The doctors assure me they are refining the methods for achieving success to make the inoculants immune to the disease. After I had smallpox in Barbados when I was there with Augustine, I’ve not contracted it though I’ve been around people who have had it. With good fortune the resulting pustules will be few and your illness mild, leaving you immune to the affliction.”

“Surely I was exposed to it when my brother had it.” So maybe I was already somewhat immune to it. Having another small dose would ensure my health against the disease and I’d be permitted to stay with George. A compelling reason for agreeing. “Very well, my love. For you I will comply with your request.”


Now, I do realize this is my interpretation of how she felt about things in her life, based on her letters to family and friends and to my understanding of her relationships. Martha witnessed many family members suffer and die from diseases during her life. I can only imagine how thankful she’d be to have a way to prevent her loved ones from dying.

My husband and I volunteered for the Pfizer vaccine trial that is currently underway in hopes we can help bring about a vaccine for everyone as soon as possible. The more people who do get vaccinated once it’s available, the sooner we can end the pandemic and move on with our lives.

Wishing you all health and happiness as we enter the holiday season. Please stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones. Martha would want you to.

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.

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.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Inflation and Scarcity in 18th-century Charleston, South Carolina #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

There is a scene in Elizabeth’s Hope (A More Perfect Union prequel novella) where Elizabeth and Emily go to the market to buy something for dinner. I want to talk today about some of the background for the following scene:


They strode into the cluster of makeshift tables holding the various foods and wares offered for sale. Chatter vied with the cries of the gulls and babies, the hawking of vegetables and meats as well as candles and baskets. The aromas of hot roasted peanuts and cool bayberry filled the crisp fall air. A gentleman sauntered along the sandy street leading his water spaniel, a good-size dog with curly caramel colored hair, his pink tongue lolling. A lady browsed the offerings, her pet monkey dressed in a tiny British uniform perched on her shoulder. A typical day in some ways, but with the ominous shadow of the enemy blanketing the discourse and exchanges. Wandering along, she stopped in front of the eager fish monger.

“How fresh are the oysters?” She indicated the bowl filled with the gray-shelled mollusks.

“Caught this morning.” He lifted the shallow bowl to angle the contents for best viewing. “How many do you want?”

She eyed him with one brow lifted. “How much are you asking?”

He quoted a price that had her lifting both brows. She haggled with him until the eagerness in his eyes dimmed. After a few more offers from either side, they settled on a price for two dozen. As he wrapped her purchase, she sighed. They needed to eat, but where would she find the money to buy new shoes for herself let alone for her sister? Until she could do so, her faithful maid Jasmine must continue to wear the worn out ones she’d been putting up with for months. Elizabeth’s heart hurt at not being able to maintain the standards they had always aimed to achieve. How they dressed and presented themselves bespoke their class without words, a station in life her father had labored to achieve.

Until the war ended, the soaring costs and scarcity of everything would surely continue to get worse. Right along with the deprivations and deceptions necessary to survive as best they could. She let her gaze drift around the market square, noting the British soldiers standing in clusters, watching the people like hungry birds of prey. Beady eyes following their every move. Waiting for any careless patriots to reveal themselves so they could pounce and exact their vengeance for placing them in such a precarious position.


Before the American Revolution, Charles Town (now spelled Charleston), South Carolina, was a bustling and important sea port. Ships arrived every day from distant ports in the West Indies and Caribbean and others carrying exotic fruits and spices among many other delicacies. The pre-war bounty can be better appreciated from the following excerpt I came across during my initial research for this series:

“From her plantation or in her Charleston home, Harriott would not have lacked for good food and drinks. At Hampton she had gardens, poultry, and livestock together with game and seafood from nearby fields and rivers. In Charleston there were certainly a kitchen garden, a poultry yard, very likely a cow or two, the daily market, and a wealth of imported delicacies from the West Indies and Europe…Milk and cheese were generally lacking except to the well-to-do. The pork and barnyard fowls, fed on corn and rice, were rated good, but the beef, veal and mutton were but ‘middling’ or inferior because…the cattle and sheep were not fattened but rather slaughtered direct from the thin pastures. From nearby fields and waters…there was a plentiful supply of venison, wild turkeys, geese, ducks, and other wild fowl. Terrapin were found in all ponds, and at times ships arrived from the West Indies with huge sea turtles. Fish were often scarce and expensive, but oysters, crabs, and shrimp could be bought cheaply. Vegetables were available and were preserved for winter months. Travelers noticed that the ‘long’ (sweet) potatoes were a great favorite and there were also white potatoes, pumpkins, various peas and beans, squashes, cucumbers, radishes, turnips, carrots, and parsnips among other vegetables. Rice was the colony’s great staple and it was served with meats and shellfish and used to make breads, biscuits, flour, puddings, and cakes. Corn served all classes to make Journey cakes and the great and small hominy. Wheat was grown by some of the Germans in the interior, but better grades were imported from Pennsylvania and New York. Lowcountry dwellers grew and enjoyed a profusion of fruits: oranges, peaches, citrons, pomegranates, lemons, pears, apples, figs, melons, nectarines, and apricots, as well as a variety of berries…Wealthy planters and merchants were not limited to locally produced foods. From northern colonies came apples, white potatoes, and wheat…as well as butter, cheeses, cabbages, onions, and corned beef. The West Indies, the Spanish and Portuguese islands, and Europe sent cheeses, salad oils, almonds, chocolate, olives, pimentos, raisins, sugar, limes, lemons, currants, spices, anchovies and salt. Boats arrived in Charles Town frequently from the West Indies with many kinds of tropical fruits. As for beverages, only the slaves, the poorest whites, and hard-pressed frontiersmen drank water. The average South Carolinian more likely drank a mixture of rum and water, spruce beer, or cider, and in the frontier areas peach brandy and…whiskey…”
A Colonial Plantation Cookbook: The Receipt Book of Harriott Pinckney Horry 1770, edited with an Introduction by Richard J. Hooker [University of South Carolina Press:Columbia SC] 1984 (p. 14-17)

But during the British occupation of Charles Town, things got very bad indeed:

“Soaring prices and the scarcity of food plagued citizens of the lowcountry. Paper bills issued by the Continental Congress and the State of South Carolina to finance the war effort and largely unbacked by gold or silver soon caused rampant inflation. An item selling for a shilling in Charles Town in 1777 might cost 61 shillings by 1780. A member of the wealthy and powerful Manigault family at Charles Town agonized in March, 1777: ‘We have been greatly Distressed for want of many Necessarys of Life.’ A few months later a military officer trying to secure supplies at Charles Town wrote his superior: ‘We have had quite a lot of trouble to obtain [provisions] because of the cost. Everything is a thousand percent more expensive since the War.’ As prices of meat and grain soared, one resident of Charles Town complained in early 1778 that ‘worm eaten corn is now sold which, at other times, would be judged only fit for beasts.’”

Patriots, Pistols, and Petticoats: “Poor Sinful Charles Town” during the American Revolution, by Walter J. Fraser, Jr. [University of South Carolina Press: Columbia, SC] 1976 Second Edition (p. 100)

I’ve tried to convey the dismay my characters felt when forced to pay high prices for what they considered staple foods as a result of the war-time situation they were living through without belaboring the point for too long. Keeping Elizabeth’s reaction to her reality in line with how I believe she’d handle the predicament. It’s an interesting line to walk when writing about the historical context of the story. I want to give the reader the sense of the times without making it into a history lesson. Not everybody enjoys reading history books, after all. So what do you think? Did I succeed? Should I have added more of the actual history to the scene?

I’m pleased to share that Elizabeth’s Hope is now available in audiobook format! My first audiobook, but the rest of the series will be following along shortly. Are you an audiobook fan? Or do you prefer another format? I’d love to know your thoughts!

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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

Books2Read      Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple  

Audiobook Retailers:

Audible    ListenUp Audiobooks     Audiobooks.com    Nook Audiobooks   Downpour    Scribd    Kobo

Inspiration for Writing a Series #amwriting #Alabama #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

For many people, especially non-writers, trying to understand where the inspiration for a story comes from can be a puzzle. But trying to grasp how to imagine an entire series of stories can be even harder. So I thought I’d share today how I maneuvered my thoughts to create the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of a historical marker I pass when I’m heading to one of my RWA chapter meetings. It’s beside a two-lane by-way in a small, historic town in north Alabama. The marker reads:

Valhermoso Springs

“Vale of Beauty”

The restorative qualities of the mineral springs here attracted settlement in the early 1800s. Variously known as Chunn Springs (after Lancelot Chunn) and Manning Springs (after Robert Manning), the spot was named for early developers of the resort where a hotel and surrounding cabins were erected between 1815 and 1823. By 1834, when the first post office was established, it was called White Sulphur Springs.

Jean Joseph Glers acquired the hotel and surrounding property in 1856, renaming it “Valhermoso Springs.” Into the 20th century, travelers from all over the world came to the hotel and springs seeking relief from rheumatism, insomnia, consumption, and ailments of the skin, kidneys, stomach, and liver. The hotel closed in the 1920s and was destroyed by tornado in 1950.

Historical marker for Valhermoso Springs, Alabama

Now, this sparked an idea for having a story set in a resort in the 1800s. I specifically chose 1821 because of two reasons. First, the timing worked to include the ancestral characters from my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, thus tying the two series together in a subtle way. (Did you catch that hint?) Second, I discovered that Alabama became a state in 1819 so my stories could include the early history of my adopted state. I imagined at first having the individual stories focus on different sets of romantic couples and how they came to the hotel, what conflicts they may have to overcome, etc. Something along the lines of the 1983-1888 TV series, Hotel, starring James Brolin and Connie Seleca. (Man, did I love that series!)

The more I thought about the idea, though, the more I wanted to combine my three favorite genres of fiction: historical, supernatural, and romance. I enjoy delving into the history of a place or people and then recreating the past within a story to help readers experience what that time or those people were like, what they had to face, the limitations on their options, etc. The supernatural elements—ghosts and magic—intrigue me since I’ve had experiences that cannot be logically or perhaps even scientifically explained. I’ve also been told about inexplicable happenings and sightings by others, friends and strangers alike. And finally, I believe in love and romance and hope everyone finds their version of happily ever after.

So, all these musings finally led me to wanting to write stories that take place in a haunted roadside inn, which became the Fury Falls Inn. (Note that a “fury” is another name for a “harsh, domineering woman” which fits Mercy Fairhope’s character perfectly.) I decided not to use an existing historical place because it can be limiting. For example, since I don’t know much about the real hotel in Valhermoso Springs, making it a haunted inn might cause some concern or offense to those people who live there. So instead I chose to invent an inn along Winchester Highway north of Huntsville, rather than southwest of that city. The falls and springs the inn features are purely fictional as well. But I liked the alliteration of Fury Falls and the subtle double entendre of the name.

The first book in the series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, is the story of how the inn became haunted and sets up the remaining stories’ conflicts and mysteries. The next several stories will feature Cassandra Fairhope’s brothers returning at her request and the surprise revelations they must face and adapt to. Book 2, Under Lock and Key, is now available and I’m writing book 3 to release in the spring of 2021.

Imagining the overarching story line for 6 books was a challenge, let me tell you! I’ve never planned out a 6-book series before. Now I have the fun of really getting to know each of the brothers and developing the story to weave their desires and needs toward a satisfying and unexpected conclusion in the last book. I’m not going to rush it, but I do hope to release books 3 and 4 next year, and 5 and 6 in 2022. Wish me luck!

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

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

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

Mapping Charleston for Fictional Characters #Charleston #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

I’ve been talking about the historic sites I’ve toured as research for the A More Perfect Union series. You can read about the Heyward-Washington House and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon if you missed those posts. Today I’m going to talk about the map I used to layout where my characters live in Charleston.

My son actually helped me enlarge the map of the historic district from a reference book. I taped it to a piece of poster board. Then I copied photos from the Historic Walking Tour guide book and taped those in the approximate location I wanted the various characters to live. I also included the inspiration photos of what the characters look like. So then I had the ability to know what streets they’d be walking or driving on and approximately how long it would take to go from one place to another.

My map of where my characters live and work and worship

You’ll also notice that I added the location of the beef market, newsletter office, St. Michael’s church, and the location of Captain Sullivan’s shop for my reference. All of this visual aid is for the express purpose of being able to accurately reflect the travel of my characters. This is the first of several maps/layouts I’ve made when writing a story/series. I’ve done floor plans, for instance, for the Fury Falls Inn so I have a good idea of where the rooms are and what they’re used for.

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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

Books2Read      Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple  

Touring the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon #Charleston #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

Last week I talked about the Heyward-Washington House which I toured on my first visit to Charleston. Today I’d like to talk about the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon which I specifically returned to Charleston to tour because I had questions I couldn’t answer with online resources. It was a very good thing I insisted on going back, too!

Image of the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon (Library of Congress)

In Emily’s Vow, the first novel in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, I drafted a scene where she is taken prisoner by a loyalist major and kept in the Provost Dungeon. I’d looked at the virtual tour provided by the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon site, but I couldn’t determine how the prisoners were held in the dungeon. How did you get into the dungeon? What did the inside of the dungeon look like in the late 18th century? Were the prisoners shackled? Chained to the wall? Were there cells? How many prisoners would have been kept there? So many questions without answers!

Hubby and I made a quick overnight stop in Charleston on our way to Myrtle Beach so I could hopefully find answers to several questions related to Emily’s story. Our tour was led by a former history teacher and he really knew a lot about the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon. Thankfully, he knew about how the building had evolved over the couple of centuries of its existence, which answered all my questions, too.

You may be wondering what those questions may have been, so I’ll share three of them with you to give you an idea of what I learned and how it changed the story—from setting to action.

In the original draft (pre-publication), I had written, “Biting her tongue to keep from saying something she would regret, Emily endured the pushing and pulling into the Old Exchange, through the outer office, and down the dark stairs to the basement jail.” However, what I learned is that there wasn’t an outer office. You entered the dungeon through doors facing the street which were several steps down from the street. That’s not the case today because of the buildup of the road surface. So when you visit today, you actually go up the steps to the Exchange and then down some stairs at the back of the building that have been added for that purpose.

When you get downstairs into the dungeon, it’s pretty dark and cool. I had written in my scene that “She stumbled on the uneven wooden floor and the ropes around her wrists bit deeper. At least she had not fallen onto the hard surface.” First, the floor is actually brick and even, not uneven wood. The tour guide told me that only three women prisoners were ever held in the dungeon and then only for a couple of hours to “terrorize” them into revealing where there patriot husband/father/etc. was so they could imprison them instead. So I had to only keep Emily in the dungeon for a short period and then have her moved to a different place and detained in order to stick to the historical facts.

Finally, I had imagined there were cells, so had written, “Silently the man left, glancing over his shoulder before the heavy door closed behind him.” But the basement wasn’t divided at all. Instead it was one large room with posted guards. The prisoners were given straw to lay on and of course since it’s located near the harbor there were rats and mice and who knows what else sharing the dungeon with them.

Because of this learning experience, I try to visit the historical sites and tour them whenever possible. Especially when the site is a setting in one of my stories. Online resources can be limited in providing the evolution of the property so that I can depict it accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. See what you think in this short excerpt from Emily’s Vow:


Biting her tongue to refrain from speaking her mind, Emily endured the pushing and pulling down the steps into the Provost. Once used as the Harbor Master’s office and for storing the goods being shipped in and out of town, now only pirates and those who defied the king resided within the odoriferous walls. At one time the building had enjoyed the respect of the town. Now it reeked of the pungent odors of urine, spoilage, and decay. She gagged at the overpowering smells assailing her senses.

“Welcome to your home away from home.” John paused in the large communal prison.

Dim light leaked through the small windows situated near the ceiling. Several other prisoners stared at them from where they sat on the cold red brick floor or lay on beds made from piles of straw, but kept their distance. The scrabble of claws in the deeper regions of the space skittered chills down her back. John peered at her for a moment, a slow smile creasing his face. His leer frightened her and she shivered.

She stumbled when the soldier pushed her forward, the ropes biting deeper. He tugged at the knot and the rope slipped off her wrists. She rubbed the red skin on each wrist to ease the pain.

“You are dismissed,” John said to the soldier, keeping his gaze on Emily. Green eyes cold as a dead fish appraised her while he waited for the other man to heed his order.

Silently the man left, glancing over his shoulder before walking away.

Emily swallowed but maintained eye contact with John. He had a heart once, a deep compassion for animals and people. But, he had hurt her in the market, likely because of the sudden embarrassment when Tommy pulled his wig askew. She raised her chin, portraying a confidence she barely felt.

“First, I must search you for any contraband you might be hiding.” His eyes glittered in the dim light. He pushed his sleeves up as he walked toward her. “This won’t hurt. You may even enjoy it. Like old times.”


And in fact, in the new edition of Emily’s Vow that will publish next month, I’ve added a couple of new scenes at the second “prison” where she’s held against her will. I’ll talk more about Emily’s Vow next week. In the meantime, if you haven’t read Elizabeth’s Hope, now is your chance to begin the series. More about Elizabeth’s Hope is 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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

Books2Read      Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple  

Visiting an Historical Georgian House #Charleston #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

Researching for the A More Perfect Union series of historical romances was a delight! My husband and I made two separate trips to Charleston, South Carolina in order for me to experience the historic settings and do some fact finding. I fell in love with the city and would go back again in a heartbeat!

Betty and hubby in Charleston, SC

On our first trip we stayed in a bed and breakfast in an historic home, The Rutledge House. Then we did the walking tour of the American Revolution era buildings and homes. The day was chilly but sunny so we ventured up and down one street after another, reading the guide book descriptions and the signs on the buildings. I made a point of touring the Heyward-Washington House in order to get an actual sense of the sounds and smells of an 18th century built house. More pictures of the inside of the house are available at the above link; I wasn’t permitted to take pictures inside the main house.

The rear view of the Heyward-Washington House with the kitchen on the left

The experience of walking the floors and climbing the steps, visiting the rear separate kitchen, all inspired the Sullivan family home in the series. Their home is not a replica of the Heyward-Washington House but certain aspects are similar. The front pair of windows in the parlor, for example. The wood floors that resound with the beat of shoes on their polish surface.

The kitchen out back is very similar to the one in my series as well. I try to imagine using the various tools hanging or resting around the fireplace. The danger of fire was very real which is why the kitchen was separated from the dwelling. Women in long skirts near a cooking fire surely was a recipe for disaster.

I’m re-issuing Elizabeth’s Hope, after revising it and sprucing up the story using my shiny new writing tools. I hope you’ll give it a read and let me know what you think. I’ll be republishing each of the remaining books one per month, each all freshly revised with a few new scenes as well. Stay tuned for more as each book is ready to share.

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.

Introducing the lives, loves, and dangerous times of the men and women in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series! This prequel novella takes place when Charles Town, South Carolina, is about to face the British enemy during the American Revolution.

CAUGHT BETWEEN DUTY AND LOVE

Joining the revolutionary army was the honorable thing to do—but Jedediah Thomson hadn’t realized how long he’d be away from the lovely, spirited Miss Elizabeth Sullivan. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city, making it dangerous to get to her.

Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; and most of all for Jedediah, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away.

And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….

Books2Read      Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple  

Saying goodbye to McCrady’s Tavern #research #American #history #ReadIndie #AMorePerfectUnion

Earlier this year I shared my research trip to Elsing Green Plantation which closed to the public last year. I was sad to read about the death of one of the owners and even sadder that the beautiful historic property was no longer open. Today I’m going to share the sad news about a tavern that had been in operation since George Washington was president. When I visited their site to write this post I found this message:

A favorite restaurant closed!

This is very sad to me. McCrady’s Tavern is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places as it had been in operation since 1778. When I was doing the research for my American Revolution historical romances, the A More Perfect Union series, my husband and I spent a weekend in Charleston. I was ecstatic to find out about this historic tavern. What a cool and interesting place to go!

The four novels in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series

We went there and had a fine meal and I just enjoyed being within its walls, knowing George Washington had also been entertained there on his southern tour of the states in 1791. I would have been even happier had Martha joined him on the tour but she had declined as the travel was too difficult and tiring to her by that time in her life. As a result, I included McCrady’s in my A More Perfect Union stories as a frequent meeting place for my characters.

Me standing outside of McCrady’s Tavern

I hope that someone will reopen the famous and historic tavern. It is, to me, a national treasure not to be shut down and forgotten.

Over the next five months I’ll be reissuing and republishing the five stories in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series. I’ve revised all five of the stories to improve them using my more mature writing skills learned since 2014 when the first and second books, Emily’s Vow and Amy’s Choice were published. Those were followed by Samantha’s Secret and Evelyn’s Promise. Then I decided to write a prequel novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, that shares Elizabeth and Jedediah’s hopeful yet doomed romance. One reader called it a lovely story but suggested that it would be better to read Elizabeth’s Hope last, as a result. Other readers were fine with reading them in chronological order and enjoyed each of the stories.

The prequel novella for the A More Perfect Union series

Next week I’ll talk a bit more about Elizabeth’s Hope. Until then, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple