Free Reads and the Story behind the title Notes of Love and War #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #free #books #novel #kindle

Before I get into how I decided on the title for my July 28 release, I’d like to share a few free reads for all of you staying at home as a result of the global pandemic of COVID-19 and looking for ways to fill your free time. I understand how the sudden change could be both unnerving and boring for those people who don’t spend much time at home. It’s my small way of helping out during this crisis.

First, you can download a free ebook of Undying Love here. This book is the first book in the Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series, featuring ghosts and witches. Undying Love was the first romance I sold to a small press in 2014 under the title of Traces, by the way. They published the book in ebook only but after two years the rights reverted back to me and I chose to indie publish it with its new title, along with the second book in the series, Haunted Melody (formerly Remnants). I like the new titles much better, don’t you? There are five books total in this series; the others are The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds.

Second, if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited at Amazon, you can read my historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, as part of your subscription. This series is set in Charleston, SC, during/after the American Revolution while the city was besieged by the British. If you don’t currently subscribe, I’m told that Amazon is offering a 2-month free trial subscription right now. Just be sure if you don’t want to be charged to cancel the subscription before the end of the trial period. There are four novels and one novella in this series. The novels are Emily’s Vow, Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise, with a prequel novella of Elizabeth’s Hope (not in KU).

Now I’d like to share with you the reason for the title of Notes of Love and War. Last week I talked about my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington, and how the title reflects the story. Notes will release July 28, two days after my father’s 100th birthday, if he were still alive. I chose that Tuesday because the primary inspiration for the story came after reading my dad’s correspondence with my mom during/after World War II. So the “notes” in the title is a nod to the letters they wrote to each other in their courtship phase, the “love” part of the title.

The main female character in the story is Audrey Harper, a journalist who has a degree in music appreciation and journalism, and who ultimately becomes a music critic for a fictional newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland, during WWII. So I’ve included a good bit about the music industry and community and venues in the story, another use of “notes.” Naturally, I also included the titles of some songs popular during the war, like the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.

Audrey meets Major Charles Powers at a Christmas party during the war. They become pen pals and exchange friendly letters for several years before they realize they belong together. So there are the “notes of love” referenced in the title.

Actually, letters, telegrams, and V-mail are letters exchanged throughout the book to reflect the forms of correspondence used in the 1940s during the war. Perusing the contents of hundreds of letters and V-mail plus the greeting cards and postcards in my dad’s collection gave me a solid foundation to use to write fictional letters, etc., in my story. Reading them also taught me about my parents as people before they became parents. The kinds of concerns and opinions they shared. It really was very interesting reading!

So Notes of Love and War seemed a fitting title for a novel about a music critic during WWII who discovers spies in her city all while falling in love via letters with a soldier. The cover artist pulled together those elements in the cover design, too. You’ll see a music score, a spy glass, a bomber plane, and letters reflected in the image below.

It’s hard to be patient for my summer releases, but I chose the dates to coincide with important dates relevant to each title. In the meantime, I hope you’ll take me up on my offer of a free read of some of my other stories. Enjoy! Stay safe, stay home if you can, and we’ll get through this. 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.

Available for preorders now! Releases July 28, 2020…

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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Let’s talk about the story behind the title Becoming Lady Washington #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Writing a book takes a long time and a lot of thought. The title that is attached to the story should also be well considered and reflect some aspect of what the reader should expect from the book. I had a working title for my June release of Martha Washington’s story: The Life of Lady Washington. But I wasn’t happy with that one. It didn’t say enough about what one can expect.

When a child is born its future is unwritten and unknown. Parents have their hopes and dreams for their child, but we never can know what the future holds. Even for ourselves, as individuals, we make decisions and choices and handle situations with an eye toward where we want to end up, but unforeseen opportunities or roadblocks or what have you can change everything. All we can do is try to educate ourselves toward the future we hope we’ll have and then be ready to adjust as needed.

My one-sentence description of Becoming Lady Washington is “How a simple girl from a middling plantation ends up America’s very first First Lady.” I’m fairly certain that when John and Frances Dandridge welcomed Martha into the world they expected her life would mirror her mother’s to some degree. But that wasn’t to be the case. Not entirely, anyway. My goal in writing Martha Washington’s story was to show how she unknowingly prepared to be a general’s and then a president’s wife.

Obviously, she couldn’t know where her path in life would take her. Certainly, she assumed she’d be a wife and mother, most likely on a plantation in Virginia. So her lessons as a child and young woman would have focused on domestic skills: sewing, mending, fancy stitching, cooking and baking, gardening, candle making, caring for her younger siblings, making simples (medicines) to treat illnesses, and a myriad of other tasks.

These fundamental home management skills her mother taught her as a girl. As she grew into womanhood, the lessons she learned and the situations she faced during her first marriage to Daniel Custis added to her tool set. Then she faced the unexpected adjustment to widowhood and managing the enormous estate left to her and her children. Followed by how she had to change from staying home on the plantation in Virginia—she never traveled out of the state until years after she married George Washington—to having to decide what to pack to provide for herself and family on long trips to other states.

All throughout her long life, Martha Washington kept her sense of humor, sense of duty and honor, and her caring ways for her family and friends. All of these tools in her toolbox helped to guide her decisions and actions through the American Revolution and her husband’s presidency. She was his bulwark and true love. She really was the woman behind her man.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

I hope you enjoy reading it and learning more about our first First Lady. Thanks!

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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

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

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

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Martha Washington’s Cookbook #Receipts #Recipes #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

One of the most treasured gifts Martha Washington received after her first marriage (to Daniel Custis) was her mother-in-law’s cookbook. (You can see pictures of the original book at that link.) Now, Martha never knew her mother-in-law, Frances Custis, because the poor woman had died years before. However, this book contained a collection of recipes for everything a wife and house mistress would need to make. From simple medicines (aka simples) to breakfast cakes and side dishes and meats to desserts (aka sweet meats).

I think of this compilation as one woman’s private collection of tried and trusted recipes. I know that when I married my husband, whenever I talked with his mother about cooking or indeed shared a delicious meal, we inevitably exchanged recipes. Or tips and tricks for cooking and baking and preparing a tasty meal. In particular the ones my husband liked the most. For my own mother’s part, she’d been teaching me how to cook from the time I was old enough to handle a mixing bowl. I’m glad I paid attention while she was alive as she died a couple years after I married my hubby. Having all those years to observe and ask questions makes a huge difference in being able to interpret and adjust recipes. It’s how we learn and grow when we’re starting out. Or at least, that’s how I did!

I recently found myself thinking how some of my most cherished memories are related to experiences with food and beverages. My dad was a certified bartender (I still have his certificate!) and created his own recipe for a “Solomon Manhattan” which I have in my recipe box in his handwriting. Additionally I cherish the handwritten recipes passed down to me by my grandmother, great aunt, mother and my mother-in-law. I’ve prepared them many times and some I’ve revised to suit our evolving tastes. When my son and daughter went on the French-American Back-to-Back exchange program in middle school, we prepared a booklet of our family’s favorite recipes to send to their host families in France. So some of our go-to recipes have been shared in France as well.

Cover of Martha Washington's Book of Cookery with portrait of George Washington eating a cherry.

When I saw that it had been transcribed and annotated I quickly ordered my own copy. Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery and Booke of Sweetmeats is on its way to my home where I intend to try many of the recipes. I’m always on the lookout for simple, straightforward recipes with healthy ingredients. Not that I expect every recipe in the book will be healthy, but I will tinker with the ingredients and processes to make them so. I’ve tried out many 18th-century recipes in years past and have blogged about them, so I imagine I’ll continue that tradition once the new cookbook arrives. I’m also looking forward to learning more about what the cooking methods were then and how they’ve evolved into today’s technology and techniques since the editor kindly annotated the cookbook.

You may be wondering why this topic is so important to me. Is it because I enjoy cooking? Sort of. Is it because I love research? Yes. But more importantly, when I wrote both my A More Perfect Union historical romances and Becoming Lady Washington, both set in the 18th century, I endeavored to depict the cooking methods as they existed then. To do that, I had to delve into the way foods were cooked using which devices and methods.

I also made sure to include only foods I could verify were available in that time period and location(s). Availability was impacted by growing season, climate, and inflation during the American Revolution. Some foods I had assumed would be eaten didn’t even exist in America until centuries later (such as zucchini), so it was a good thing I did my research!

Outside of telling a meaningful and entertaining story, I strive to make my stories authentic and accurate to the historical reality. I may not be perfect with that regard; in fact I imagine I probably missed correcting some words that weren’t actually used during the time period of my stories. But I have done my utmost to tell a good, authentic, accurate story.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. It will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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

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

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

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Martha Washington’s Birthplace #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

With each book I write I do research. The extent and kind will vary depending on what I need to know to write the story accurately and authentically to the best of my ability. The longest book I’ve ever written, and the one that I had to do a ton of research to write, is my June 2 release, Becoming Lady Washington. Why June 2? Because that is Martha’s birthday. So today I’m going to talk about where Martha Dandridge was born.

Her parents, John and Frances Dandridge, welcomed her to their home called Chestnut Grove sometime between midnight and 1:00 a.m. on June 2, 1731. Chestnut Grove was located alongside the Pamunkey River in Kent County, Virginia. It was a two-story frame house with three rooms on each floor. Not a big house for a plantation in those days. You can see a sketch of what the house looked like here.

Historic marker about Chestnut Grove

My hubby and I visited the area back in 2015 when I first started researching to write Martha’s life story. Well, at least from her teenage years! I wanted to see the lay of the land and at least try to imagine what it would have looked like when she was a girl. It was disappointing to find we couldn’t even get close to the site as it’s private property. So online research and pictures had to suffice to inspire my imagination. Here’s a short excerpt from my book where she sees the house:

“As we neared Chestnut Grove, I studied the main house as the boat angled toward the dock. The central sturdy door had been made from poplar, like the window casings. At either end of the good-sized clapboard house rose two brick chimneys poking through the white oak shingled roof. A variety of flowering bushes and plants softened the appearance of the brick-and-board structure. Around it, smaller buildings stood: the kitchen, laundry, smokehouse, privy. Chestnut Grove was the only home I’d ever known. If I’d succeeded in my mission, the two-story frame house would become my childhood home. I’d move away, to a new home, a new husband, a new life.”

But just like Martha’s life, that was only one the beginning. Knowing where she was born and grew up was one piece of the history I needed to learn more about, then understand, and then put myself in her shoes. I really wish the home hadn’t burned down in the early 1900s so I could have seen it for myself. It’s far easier to feel like I’ve walked in my character’s place when I can roam around the same spaces she did. See what the view from the windows would have been. Hear the sounds of movement by others.

I’ve worked hard to write her story in order for others to find out what a remarkable woman she was in her own right. Not just as the wife of a great man. In fact, after all I’ve learned about Martha I don’t believe George would have reached the heights of greatness he did without her support and love.

Becoming Lady Washington is available in hardback, paperback, and digital formats for preorder now. Like I said, it will publish on June 2 in honor of Martha’s 289th birthday.

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.

Available for preorders now! Releases June 2, 2020…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My mother’s handwritten letter including the riddle.

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

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

Thanks for stopping by. Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

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Puppy Love – Mom’s real-life dog Frisk #dogsarefamily #collie #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been talking about the letters my parents shared and how they inspired my upcoming release, Notes of Love and War. But the story is not just based on the letters. I also include some references from my parents’ real life story that reflect life in the 1940s in Maryland.

Having spent so much time with my mother while she was dying from metastatic breast cancer, I was able to talk to her about her life. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye but we did spend quite a bit of time shopping and hanging out at home over my childhood to young adult years. And then I spent even longer with my father as he lived with me, my husband, and children for 17 years after Mom passed before moving into assisted living until he died 4 years later. We still talked frequently as long as he was able to, though, so I’ve been very fortunate in that regard. Lots of family stories and memories as a result.

One of Mom’s fondest memories was about a dog. Mom’s favorite pet growing up was Frisk, a blue merle collie. She talked about how smart and loyal he was. I have lots of pictures in the family albums of the two of them, or just of Frisk, scattered throughout the many other pictures of vacations and family gatherings.

Mom and her collie Frisk sitting on the grass together.

This picture is one that shows the coloring of a blue merle since all my photos are in black and white and I really wanted you to have an idea of how beautiful they are.

A blue merle collie with its distinctive white chest and legs, with a mix of tan, sable, and gray on its face, back and haunches.

So while writing my story, I decided to pay homage to Mom’s love of Frisk by including him in a fictional manner. As far as I know, Frisk didn’t live with Mom but lived on her grandfather’s farm. I’m the youngest of 5 children and all of my grandparents except my maternal grandmother had died before I was born. Mom was 42 years old when I was born; 60 when I graduated high school. So by the time I first remember my grandmother when I was a child she didn’t have any pets around the house. Probably because she was probably in her 60s by then. I don’t know if that was always the case, but in my lifetime I never saw any there. So I’m going to stick with my memory of what my mom said about Frisk being out on the farm.

However, in Notes of Love and War, Frisk is right at Audrey’s side whenever possible. Here’s a short excerpt to show you what I mean.


Audrey trotted the last few strides home to the front gate of the fenced yard. The hinges on the gate reluctantly let her through, their protest both loud and strong as she shut it behind her. Then she strode up the sidewalk leading to the steps to the front porch. Frisk galloped around the corner and came to let her love on him. He danced beside her on the sidewalk, joy plain on his face. She was glad she’d come home, too.

She’d toyed with how to approach her big assignment all afternoon, and it was only as she stepped off the streetcar and started the last leg of her trip to the sanctuary of home that she’d sorted the best way to proceed. She wanted to jot down her plan as soon as possible. Scurrying up the few steps to the shadowy porch, she was startled when Rae pushed open the door for her, waiting impatiently until Audrey slipped inside. Frisk yipped once as the door closed, shutting him outside.

“Audrey…”

“Wait.” Audrey opened the door again, cold air flowing past and chilling her bare legs. “Come on, boy.”

Frisk trotted inside and went to settle on his bed by the snapping fireplace. He seemed content to be inside in the warmth. Audrey turned away from the dog and regarded her sister.

“You’ve got a letter.” Rae’s eyes gleamed with intrigue and curiosity. “From him.”

“Who?”

“That soldier fella, Charlie.” Rae waved the letter at her, the airmail postage evident by the red and blue stripes along all four edges of the envelope. She slid a polished nail under the edge of the flap. “You’re lucky you got home when you did.”

Audrey quirked a brow at her sister. “You wouldn’t dare.”

A shrug and grin suggested Rae’s nefarious intent as she handed it to Audrey. “Open it before I do.”


Notes of Love and War will release in July 2020 but it’s available for preorder now. I’m super excited to share this story with you all, too! It combines some family memories with espionage and music. I hope you’ll enjoy the snippets I share occasionally between now and then to whet your appetite to read Audrey and Charlie’s story.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Novel letters that reflect reality #Baltimore #historical #fiction #books #inspiration #amwriting #amreading @Baltimore_City

To continue with the connection between the real letters my parents wrote to the fictional ones in Notes of Love and War, let’s take a glance at how I wove some of those hints I spoke of into the story letters.

Here’s the letter from last week from my mother to my father. Note the bolded part where she practically shouts how she feels about the weather where he lived.

Original letter from my mother to my father.

“My Dear Friend,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Friend

Mary Lou”

And like I pointed out, my mother made no bones about the fact she doesn’t like hot weather. So I have Audrey adopt this same viewpoint, since she’s used to much more variable weather in Maryland than the hotter, more tropical climate of southern Florida.

[Here’s a quirky aside: I’ve never heard anyone call my mother “Mary Lou” yet she signed her letters to Dad that way. I even asked Mom’s sister about the nickname and my aunt said she was only ever called Mary. Well, apparently not!]

The following letter is taken from the pages of Notes of Love and War and is from Audrey to Charlie… She’s planning to move to Florida after they marry and trying to keep a brave front. I’ll bold her comment about the hot weather to make it easier to find…

Saturday afternoon
July 22, 1944

Dearest Charlie,

My love for you is beyond measure. I know we’ll be happy together as soon as we’re married and start our life as husband and wife. I’ve started working on my trousseau. Mama and I went shopping for pretty fabrics and patterns, and the dining room has become my sewing parlor. The table is always smothered with bolts of cloth, ribbons and trim, and other sewing paraphernalia. Rae helps me with fittings and hemming.

As for our honeymoon, as long as we’re together it will be perfect. If I must choose, though, someplace warm since we’re going in December. The Keys sound nice and we could visit Hemingway’s home in Key West where he wrote To Have and Have Not. That would be fun. I do enjoy his books! Have you read his novels? But honestly, my darling, anywhere we can spend time alone together will make me happy.

I’m not going to tell you what you should do with your photography and studio. You must choose what makes you happy and provides the level of financial security that works for you. We shall be fine. We can budget our money and still have a wonderful life together. Go and be the photographer you choose to be! That’s the important thing to me.

I’m nearly finished with the interviews of the musicians in the women’s symphony. Just a couple more who have been difficult to coordinate calendars with, but I expect to catch up to them eventually. My boss has been complimentary about my articles, so that’s something that gives me hope for that promotion I told you about.

You’ll be relieved to know that Rae has taken it upon herself to give me cooking lessons. She said she didn’t want you to starve! I know you wouldn’t. I can make a mean peanut butter and honey sandwich! Kidding! Well, maybe not. But we won’t starve, either way. Tonight she’s going to teach me how to make fried chicken. Or try. The last time I attempted it, the outside was perfectly golden brown and delicious looking, but the inside was raw. Cross your fingers for me!

Frisk is eager to go for a walk since the day is waning and the temps starting to cool off. It’s been very hot here, and you know I’m not fond of the heat and humidity of summer. I much prefer spring and fall, to be honest. But of course I have to take all four seasons, not just two of them. Mother Nature insists!

Charlie, I love you and am honored to be planning our wedding. I’ve arranged for the church, my family’s parish, for the ceremony. The minister said around Christmas the sanctuary is already decorated. That will save us some money that we’d normally spend on flowers and ribbons that we could use for our honeymoon, right? Do you care when around the 25th of December that we wed? Let me know your thoughts.

I must end, though I’m sure I could think of more to tell you about the symphony, the newspaper office, and other family doings. But then you’d be bored with my little observations and musings, so I’ll refrain. I want you to always be happy and content.

All my love,
Audrey

As I read over the letter from Audrey, I can see other echoes from my mother’s many letters. The fact that she’s trying to learn to cook, and planning the wedding date for when they don’t have to spend money on decorations, and even the discussion about what Charlie should do about his career path. They’re not the same exact issues, but they are similar and thus reflects the inspiration I pulled from the letters between my parents.

Happy reading!

Betty

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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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