Getting to know MaryEllen Beveridge #author #amwriting #literature #fiction #shortstories #familylife #amreading

I’ve recently dipped my toe into writing short stories, so I am happy to introduce my next guest author to you all! Please help me welcome MaryEllen Beveridge! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing and inspiration.

MaryEllen Beveridge received an MFA with honors from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her short stories have appeared in literary magazines including Pembroke Magazine, The Carolina Quarterly, Other Voices, Notre Dame Review, Cottonwood, Crab Orchard Review, Louisiana Literature, and War, Literature & the Arts. She is a two-time nominee for a Pushcart Prize. A previous short story collection was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and another was a semi-finalist for the Iowa Short Fiction Award. MaryEllen is a former member of the faculty at Emerson College, where she taught fiction writing and literature. Her first story collection, titled After the Hunger, was published in 2020.

Author Social Links: Instagram

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

MaryEllen: I’m sharing the first story in the collection, titled “Needle at Sea Bottom.” In it, the protagonist, Edna, attempts to redefine herself following her husband’s stroke. I knew a woman in a similar situation—her husband had suffered a devastating stroke—and I wanted to explore how a character would attempt to restructure, and possibly rebuild, her life following this unimaginable event. In this story her husband has become in effect a stranger, and her idea of marriage and home, and the trajectory of her life, have changed radically.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

MaryEllen: The protagonist, Edna, though I felt as if in writing about her I was following her journey, her quest, as it unfolded over time. That is, her situation, her circumstances were known; what evolved for me was how she confronted them and was changed by them.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

MaryEllen: The situation, definitely; the idea of a sudden devastating illness changing a marriage, changing each spouse’s life.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

MaryEllen: Frank, Edna’s husband because of course his engagement with her has become so limited. Also, Roger Llewellyn, the tai chi instructor, because he wanted to remain unknowable to his class, to remain a mystery.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

MaryEllen: I researched stroke and its effects. I took a tai chi class and fortunately was given a number of hand-outs that were helpful in writing the story, especially the names and positions of the tai chi moves. I also try to be conscious of naming things, of making each object vivid. So I have collected a number of books I use for research.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

MaryEllen: This story was first published in Notre Dame Review in 2017, so my memory is a bit hazy. But I always write numerous drafts. I work hard to get language right, one of my preoccupations as a writer.

Betty: How long did it take you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

MaryEllen: This is a longer story, 22 manuscript pages, a little over 7,000 words. As a few years have gone by since I first wrote it, I can’t remember exactly how long it took. But I’m a slow writer; I have to really think about my characters.

Betty: What ritual or habits do you have while writing?

MaryEllen: I write in my small office. No radio programs or music. No coffee or other liquids I could spill. Phone off. I try to be, as they say, dressed and ready. My bookcase contains books I can use for research if needed, and books by authors I admire—it helps keep the environment conducive to work. I also have a dictionary and thesaurus nearby. I usually have a sheet of paper and a pencil for any notes I need to take–ideas I don’t want to lose as I’m working on the story.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

MaryEllen: “Just” is the big one. Also, “very.” Thank goodness for word search, you can go right to the overused words and change or eliminate them.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

MaryEllen: Ernest Shackleton. He was a visionary, and courageous, and his remarkable achievement in saving all of his men after their ship was lost in Antarctica, the daring and brutal adventure of it, seems to me to have been an interior achievement too. What makes the man. Who is the man. Also, Virginia Woolf, because she encourages women to abandon conventionality, to take risks. In her essay “Professions for Women” she writes that she had to kill a phantom, the Angel of the House, “in self-defence,” in order to become a writer—the Angel being the voice that tells us we must “never have a mind of [our] own, but…to sympathize always with the minds and wishes of others.” “The struggle was severe,” she tells us. But she won.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

MaryEllen: I write and revise at my desk; I read in a big chair.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

MaryEllen: I am a former faculty member at Emerson College. I enjoyed it enormously—the students, fellow faculty members, and the opportunity to read and discuss books on that level.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

MaryEllen: Perhaps the greatest gift—being able to enter into the environment of books, of literature, as a reader, teacher, and writer.

Betty: What other author would you like to sit down over dinner and talk to? Why?

MaryEllen: Virginia Woolf because I so admire her mind. I especially admire To the Lighthouse—its structure, its concerns about women’s lives.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

MaryEllen: I’m grateful to have published books. Before then I had published short stories in literary magazines. Having a book brings one to another level of confidence.

In these 13 stories, the protagonists find themselves living outside cultural mores and expectations as they confront the central questions of their lives. If they see themselves on some level as living in a post-modern world, their actions are driven by the need to recognize and accept its actuality and at the same time to seek order and meaning within its challenges and limitations. Their evolving states of consciousness are explored in their relationship to the physical world, particularly the natural world and the domestic setting. The search for a home often preoccupies them, whether this home is a true place or a place within. The stories offer a window into the inner lives of girls and women that reveals both their richness and invisibility.

Buy Links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks for swinging in for a chat, MaryEllen!

I mentioned that I’ve recently written a short story, but what I didn’t say is that it’s included in the What A Day! Short Stories by Southern Writers anthology that just released on April 5! I took the time in my story, “The Perfect Birthday Gift,” to get to know two of my Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series characters, sisters Meg and Myrtle. You can learn more about all 11 stories in the book at and buy your copy at!

Happy reading!


Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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Getting to know Tempe from Remembered by Yvonne Battle-Felton #author #ghosts #historical #fiction #histfic #nonfiction #shortstories #childrensbooks #podcaster

Let’s welcome Tempe to the interview hotseat! She’s coming straight from author Yvonne Battle-Felton’s novel Remembered. We’ll look at Yvonne’s bio and then meet Tempe. Ready?

Author of Remembered, I am a writer, academic, host, creative producer, and podcaster. Remembered was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction (2019) and shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize (2020). Winner of a Northern Writers Award in fiction (2017), I was commended for children’s writing in the Faber Andlyn BAME (FAB) Prize (2017) and have six titles in Penguin Random House’s The Ladybird Tales of Superheroes and The Ladybird Tales of Crowns and Thrones. I teach creative writing at Sheffield Hallam University where I am a Principal Lecturer and Humanities Business and Enterprise Lead.

Writer of nonfiction and fiction, short stories, novels, children’s adventures, and children’s nonfiction, I love stories in all its forms and aim to create spaces for diverse characters on and off the page, screen, and stage. Host of Write Your Novel with Yvonne Battle-Felton, a write-along podcast series developed with New Writing North, I create and host literary and storytelling events and opportunities.

Author Social Links:  Twitter * Instagram

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Tempe: I was a special child. I know other people like to believe that about themselves but for me, it’s the truth. They named a day after me and everything. It’s the De-haunting. It marks my being born and breaking the curse. For years, me and Sister helped Mama around the cabins and helped the other slaves with jobs here and there. As kids, we had the run of the place as long as we stayed away from the House. Seems like anything bad that happened, happened after I stepped foot on that front porch.

Betty: What kind of schooling did you have? Did you enjoy it?

Tempe: You know, sometimes I wish I could have gone to school. But, I was a slave and Walker wouldn’t allow none of his slaves to learn to read or write unless it did him any good. What learning I got was passed on from other people handing it down to me. Kept some of the best stories we ever heard in that book Sister totes around with her. They’re all pressed up together. Some written in words, others wrapped up in memories. It’s the only book I ever had. Only one I ever needed too.

Betty: When did you have your first kiss and with who? How did it go?

Tempe: My first kiss was with Edward. We were sitting near the river, feet dangling over the edge of the bank, toes skimming the water, sinking wishing stones to see which wish sunk first. It had started to rain. Not one of those can’t-make-your-mind-up plop, plop rains that don’t last hardly long enough to make it worth it to run inside but the washtub spilling over, gushing all over the floor type of rain that most people know better than to get stuck in. We were both wet, clothes sticking to our skin but didn’t neither one of us want to be anywhere but right there. It was cold and I was shivering. We huddled close to warm up but wet skin don’t really dry wet skin. So, we shivered together for a while. I’m not going to tell you what I told Mama: that we kissed just to stay warm. So, between you and me, we kissed and it felt so good that we did it quite a few times before we ever got caught.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest achievement? Why?

Tempe: Making sure my baby would never set foot on Walker soil a day in his life. My son was born just after the slaves were set free but Walker didn’t tell us nothing about it. As far as Walker was concerned, my baby would be a slave all his life just like me, my Mama and my Mama’s mama. That’s not what I wanted for my boy. I’d die before I let that happen.

Betty: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Tempe: That has to be the time Edward came to the house looking for extra work and Mama sent him away because we didn’t have anything to pay him with. Sister and me had been sick all day. But, when Mama came in to tell us, I just couldn’t believe it. There she was standing smack in front of the only chance I had to have Edward to myself—this is before the kiss, mind. I hopped up, didn’t even roll my pallet up or anything though according to Mama it didn’t seem like I was as sick as she had thought. I couldn’t help myself, I recited everything that someone as strong, capable and handsome as Edward could fix around the house and wouldn’t you know it, she hadn’t sent Edward home at all. He was out back and heard everything I said!

Betty: If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Tempe: That’s a tough question. I don’t regret the way I died but I do wish I could have lived long enough to watch my boy grow up. So, I guess if I could change one thing, we would have run away much sooner. Maybe even before Mama left.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Tempe: My greatest fear is that my son won’t know his way back Home. Not home like the streets he lives on but home, where you go back to when you’re dead. See, if my boy doesn’t know where he came from, he won’t know where he’s going. His soul’s liable to end up wandering and lost, aimless and rootless all because he wouldn’t know his past if it walked up to him. So, my greatest fear isn’t just him not knowing who I am. It’s him not knowing who he is. I don’t suspect anyone other than Sister knows it.

Betty: How much of your true self do you share with others?

Tempe: Less than a thimble full. I tell Mama a pinch, Sister a pinch, and Edward a pinch. The rest, I keep for myself. You know why? I learned even without being told (that didn’t stop Mama from telling me) that if someone asks how I feel about being a slave, so and so getting sold away, belonging to Walker, that the truth, my true self, ain’t hardly what they want to hear. They want to hear that they in the right and you—even though it ain’t true—are in the wrong. Mama says that sometimes my feelings sort of flicker across my face and when that happens it makes her scared that Walker will see it and send me away or—and I can’t tell which is worse—keep me for himself. So, even after all this time, I keep my true self—the one who wants to be free, happy, safe, in love—mostly to myself. That’s the only way I can see to keep it safe.

Betty: Are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Tempe: You know, I didn’t really get to know most of my family until after I died. That’s how I got to really know Mama and even my Father. I had never met him when I was alive. Growing up, Sister and Mama and me have always been close. I know it looks like I give her a hard time, but she’s my little sister and I love her almost more than anything. That’s why I still visit—even if it is only to bring bad news.

Betty: If you could change yourself in some way, what change would you make? Why?

Tempe: It sure would be nice to be alive. Not to be young again but to grow old. I’d love to grow old with Sister—she calls herself Spring now. So, I’d love to grow old with Spring and to live long enough to die of old age.

It is 1910 and Philadelphia is burning.

The last place Spring wants to be is in the run-down, segregated hospital surrounded by the groans of sick people and the ghost of her dead sister. But as her son Edward lays dying, she has no other choice.

There are whispers that Edward drove a streetcar into a shop window. Some people think it was an accident, others claim that it was his fault, the police are certain that he was part of a darker agenda. Is he guilty? Can they find the truth?

All Spring knows is that time is running out. She has to tell him the story of how he came to be. With the help of her dead sister, newspaper clippings, and reconstructed memories, she must find a way to get through to him. To shatter the silences that governed her life, she must remember a painful past to lead Edward home.

Buy Links: BlackstonePublishing

Sounds like a haunting tale to be sure. Thanks, Tempe, for stopping in and sharing with us.

Happy reading!


Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

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Introducing Sir Edward Latham – Character Interview with author Loretta Goldberg #historical #fiction #mustread #books #amreading #amwriting

Australian-American Loretta Goldberg earned a BA in English Literature, Music and History at the University of Melbourne. She came to the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship for piano performance. After careers in music then financial services, she sold her financial services practice to focus on writing. She is on the steering committee of The Historical Novel Society, New York Chapter, where she started the chapter’s published writer public reading series at the Jefferson Market Library, New York, now migrated to Zoom. Commuting between NYC and Chester, Connecticut, she lives with her partner, enjoying extended family, friends, colleagues and animals.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook

Sir Edward Latham: Lady Elizabeth Bolte, Lady Betty? My manservant Joris told me you were sitting in my study, having the password to enter our rooms. That you wished to ask me questions. The password again if you would be so good? Joris is an incomparable servant but can reverse letters into curious muddles.

Betty Bolte: Ah, of course. ‘That long blond is Gloriana’s best man in France today.’ Sir Edward, thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me.

Sir Edward Latham (thinking): The password is right, but I don’t remember any agreement! Is this a dream? The stranger on my carved wooden guest chair displays the confidence of status through wealth or rank. My morning small beer tasted bitter. My servant girl, Marie, Joris’s wife, is an herbalist. She concocts tonics to keep my instincts sharp. She fears that my advanced age of forty-eight has dulled my sense of danger, putting my household at risk. Civil war rages in France, so anticipating who wields power is vital. My instincts haven’t dulled whatsoever—my current unraveling of a plot in Brussels proves that—but I take Marie’s potions to calm her anxiety, she a new mother and fragile. Mayhap her tonic brought me this visitation. Claviceps purpurea, a toxic fungus described by Paracelsus, produces fantastical waking dreams.

Betty Bolte: Sir Edward, don’t be afraid. I come in friendship What do you think is your greatest achievement so far? And why?

Sir Edward Latham: My greatest achievement is easy to describe, Lady Betty. But should I? 

(Thinking) She smiles encouragingly. My greatest achievement. Is Satan tempting me to the sin of pride? I must be wary. Now, the Bolte family exists. Saxon farm holders from Lancashire, they acquired land and rank. Her given name of Betty is after my Queen, the great Elizabeth, Gloriana. But I cannot place her dialect. No burr, a crisp delivery with an upward lilt at the end of her sentences.

She’s not an enemy informer, because her appearance and smell are so unfamiliar my guard is up. She’s of middle years, fleshly padding beneath her skin filling her out pleasingly. But her teeth are white and even, her gums pink like a new-blooming maiden. How can that be? No tooth soap or tooth-drawer could preserve a mouth to the years this woman seems to have attained. Her hair is a springy grey, bare of no jeweled ribbon or bonnet, against fashion. Her smell is not of lead paint, thick fabrics beaten clean, but of a mild soap I don’t know. By contrast, her perfume is less subtle. It’s a solid sweetness of orange, gardenia and peach flowers, a forwardness I associate with, well, not nobility. Rosewater, burnt orange peel and marjoram, with an earthy touch of truffle, are the spicy/sweet individually complected scents women of rank like. We men, too, have individual scents. Most odd is that I’ve seen her necklace of blue and transparent glass beads before, on a similar woman. Well, benign visitation or fungi hallucination, I sense no danger. I’ll play along. I point at my quills, inkhorn and paper. Does she want to write my answers? No. She shakes her head, touching a little glass rectangle on her lap.

Betty Bolte: Sir Edward, let’s begin. What is your greatest achievement? And why?

Sir Edward Latham: Preventing the Spanish Armada from landing on English soil last year. Lady Betty, I am Queen Elizabeth’s, Gloriana’s, best intelligencer abroad. I didn’t start that way. When she made England’s religion Protestant, which was her Divinely anointed right, I couldn’t live as a covert Catholic. Others felt different, which I respect. A life of discreet worship didn’t seem right either. By God’s grace I am gentry, with a duty to defend society against anarchy.

I worked for European Catholic rulers against Dutch and French Protestant rebels. I soon learned how cruel and stupid are these Catholic Princesses. Offensive and defensive weapons are balanced today, so there’s no winning or losing, just more broken bodies and grieving hearts. That can’t be pleasing to the Almighty who created us all. When Philip II of Spain, the mightiest Catholic king, marshaled forces to invade England I became a double agent. I use my access to both sides to importune for peace. Monarchs resent criticism, but peace is my mission.

From the Spanish admiral’s house in Lisbon I got Spain’s original plan for 500 ships to land 60,000 men in England. I got it by trickery. Even in these days of strife, Lady Betty, men’s hearts are often more mutable than the violence of their causes. Bribes, pride in being a keeper of secrets that can only be demonstrated by sharing the secrets, a dainty conscience about a master’s cruelty—we all face judgment day—non-brutish methods can unravel astonishing plots.

Elizabeth had only 120 ships to defend her coast. Fortunately, the Spanish plan shrank to the 130 ships that sailed from Lisbon last year. They were to meet an equal force in the Spanish Netherlands. If those forces could join up they’d be invincible. By God’s grace I helped to prevent their linkage. I fostered in the minds of Spanish ship captains the illusion that the English had a diabolical new weapon we don’t have. Illusion split apart thousands of tons of enemy wood, iron and munitions, not force of English arms. I saw it in Calais.”

Betty Bolte: Sir Winston Churchill said that the truth is so precious it must be protected by a bodyguard of lies.

Sir Edward Latham: I know nothing of Churchills. They’re not a notable family like the Boltes. But the words make sense. The diabolical weapons we don’t have are Hellburners. They’re big ships with thousands of pounds of explosives and every kind of stone, metal and weapon that can crush, shred or impale, trapped within a stone pyramid on deck. This pyramid is designed to explode sideways and not up. No man lights the fuse. A timed clock does the work. This is utterly new. One Hellburner wreaked havoc on Spanish forces besieging Antwerp. Over 1,000 killed in a second, rubble and body parts strewn over a mile and a half. Ever since 1585 Spaniards quake at the word Hellburner. The inventor of this terrible machine fled to England. He was seen there in Sir Francis Drake’s company by Spanish spies. The Spaniards have almost a mystical fear of ‘El Draco,’ who has raided Spanish lands with seeming impunity.

Elizabeth wouldn’t risk her limited powder on an innovation. But for the enemy to think Drake had Hellburners was the goal. I wafted the notion into receptive ears at the Madrid court, which became Royal warnings to Spanish commanders.

Lady Betty, it’s not given to many men to see the fruits of panic by illusion. Almighty God graced me with this privilege. I was on the water in a rowboat in Calais, peering up at the towering castles of Spanish warships, bristling with cannon and crammed with crews. Days of fighting in the English Channel hadn’t dented the impregnable formation of the Spanish fleet.

Around midnight, when the tide favored the waiting desperate English fleet, Drake sent six traditional fire-ships bigger than Hellburners at the anchored Spanish fleet, which had orders to stand firm. “Hellburners!” was the universal shriek as the fire-ships glided closer. It became a general signal to flee. Armed merchantmen pulled up anchors, blundered into each other, frantic yelling of “Pole apart! Axe!” The formation disintegrated, waterborne castles cutting cables, most abandoning anchors. Wobbling stern lanterns mapped their course to open sea.

It was Divine malice, Lady Betty, this mismatch between the Armada’s physical might and the illusion that ripped it up. Without anchors, the monstrous castles on water couldn’t re-group, and would be at the mercy of any wind. A king’s treasure in iron plunged to the sea bottom. The English fire-ships burned out harmlessly, doing no physical damage. As we know now, a north wind blew the Armada around Ireland, where most of the ships were wrecked. Yes, nurturing a brainsick piece of folly is how I helped to shape the great battle of last year.”

Betty Bolte: That sounds like an example of how a slender lever applied right can topple a boulder. Moving to the personal, are you close to your family? Do you wish your relationship with them was different in any way? If so, how?

Sir Edward Latham: Why would you ask about anything as small as one sinner’s heart? My kin are Catholics but accommodate to Protestant rule. I revered my father and am close to my sister, Katherine, who lives. Mother died when I was a child. How I missed her warm hugs. In the days when I had no permission to be in England, I visited Katherine secretly. If I have a wish, it is that my three brothers would accept my choice as Katherine did, and as I respected theirs. But some turbulent times do not admit of tranquility.

Betty Bolte: When did you have your first kiss and with who? How did it go?

Sir Edward Latham: An even stranger question. Evaluate a kiss? Certainly, my wet nurse and nanny gave me many kisses though I have no memory of them. As adults we kiss on the lips freely. But I think you mean the dance of the two-backed beast? Lust, my first bedfellow. Alas, I must demur. Some magnificent bedfellows have honored my bed, whose dignity I revere. You showed me a book about me: The Reversible Mask, an Elizabethan Spy Novel. Do I have a chronicler? The cover is shiny paper, not leather. How can such a flimsiness last? But its image depicts the comet of 1578 over Constantinople. I was there then, had a very great friend, an Ottoman slave serving the Sultan. If I have a chronicler, my notorious loves will be there. About such matters I am stitch-lipped, resisting even the sweetest, most probing, needing tongue.

Betty Bolte: What characteristics are you looking for in a spouse?

Sir Edward Latham: That sounds like the Protestant new-fangled notion of a companionate marriage. For us Catholics virtue and property determine unions. I left that prospect behind.I’m too much the nomad to settle. Indeed, my life is precarious. My loyal household is my beloved family. Are you remembering my words? You write nothing.

Lady Betty turns the glass rectangle around. I see my words, ‘You write nothing.’ What is this? Terror braids my gut, bile rises, I want to vomit. But the close stool is in my bedroom upstairs. I gulp the bile down. It’s a dream. I’ve seen innovations before and survived.

Betty Bolte: How would you describe your childhood?

Sir Edward Latham: You ask questions as if you are not of this earth. What is childhood? We sprawl from the womb, squalling protests amidst a spew of afterbirth. We are scrubbed, wound in swaddling cloth and handed to a wet nurse. We learn later whether the mother who gave us life died from childbed fever. Alas, too many do. As soon as we’re ripped from breast milk, we’re undersized adults, wearing itchy little ruffs, eating little portions of meat, bread, cheese, washed down by much-watered wine.

Betty Bolte: What kind of schooling did you have? Did you enjoy it?

Sir Edward Latham: Our family had a wonderful governess for letters and numbers, then a tutor in fighting arts, riding and jousting, rhetoric, Latin and Divinity. Others go to the grammar schools. Some go to Oxford or Cambridge to be lawyers, scholars or physicians, a few on scholarship. Gentry like me go to Oxford and Cambridge to be groomed as courtiers. Her Majesty visits both. She loves long Latin debates. Those who wish to serve her must pay attention, no matter how much they drank the night before, because she looks for slack mouths and will ask, ‘What did you think of the riposte before the last?’ Woe is the dreamer with no cogent reply. Her Majesty never forgets!

For me, the learning, riding, dancing and lute playing were, and will always be, a joy. But the specter of misfortune hovered equally—plague, a fall from royal favor, fire, yet another change in State religion. There were five gyrations of State religious doctrine before I was eighteen, each bringing possible death for non-conforming. You know my family are Catholics. But when my poor mother died when I was four, King Henry VIII had an anti-Papist policy. I don’t know if my mother got the sacred last rites. To ensure I have access to last rites from a priest in good order with Rome I went abroad. That aside, even in tranquil times, we youths have a sense of somber waiting, if our fathers die young, to assume responsibilities at a tender age.

Betty Bolte: What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

Sir Edward Latham: The true worst I cannot bear to reveal. That night when the enchanting Lady Barbara, greatest singer of the century and my bedfellow, named my deepest fantasies. How? But that’s the nature of genius. I’ll give Lady Betty a more suitable one.  

Ah, a scene out of low theatre comedy, but true.Being chased and insulted bystreet urchins in Constantinople, brazen thugs hurling filth and rotten fruit at me. I was dressed for an audience with the assistant secretary to the Grand Vizier. Fortunately, I’d thought to wear an old cloak I could throw away. They were shouting ‘Dung-sucker’ and other curses because, in truth, I had a foul smell from an adventure the night before. I was going to the baths before the audience.

Have you hobbled miles inside the skin of a two-humped Bactrian camel? Yes, my manservant Joris and I pretended to be a camel. I needed to get inside a warehouse guarded by the Sultan’s ferocious deaf mutes, to see artifacts and papers I suspected were there. We borrowed the camel skin from St. Peter’s and St. Paul’s Catholic church in the European quarter of Galata, where it was used in the procession of the Three Wise Men. We were pretending to make a delivery, so a heavy box swayed on top of us.

My great friend Ibrahim enlisted two boys from his household to guide us. Inside the camel was miserable. We stooped under the humps, camel skin pinned around our legs, shoulders bruised by the box. Oh, the stink! Old hair, dried tissue, dander and curing chemicals made us lightheaded and desperate to sneeze. I doused the camel with ox piss, hoping to discourage scrutiny by the guards, who were known to be fastidious. Joris and I were roped at the waist, so when our guide rapped my thigh, my step jerked Joris into motion.

The whole caper nearly ended disastrously. At a thump on the neck, I stopped suddenly. Joris kneed me. Our load wobbled. I heard heavy footsteps, hawking phlegm, spit, a high whine. We pushed our shoulders up, feeling our guide steady the box. My breath out was one of the happiest of my life. We got in and out safely. It was a neat piece of inquiry. Everything I was sent to Constantinople to discover fell into place. A secret alliance and trade treaty between the Sultan and a European monarch I had early knowledge of. But our stinks took scouring after scouring to lighten. Even now I think I can sniff the residue. Truly, Lady Betty, dross is the companion-lover of all our ambitions.

Betty Bolte: I am glad I wasn’t there. How do you like to relax?

Sir Edward Latham: Not being a Bactrian camel. How about if I show you? It’s a good day to walk. I’ll show you Boulogne. King Henry VIII attacked it in 1544, held it for five years. I dine at a harbor tavern, The Swooping Gull. There’s interesting military detritus on the way. The vegetable and fish market in the main square is still open. As we exit the archway of the old walls I can point out new stones where Henry’s cannon breached the fortifications and his engineers tunneled under the wall. On the switchback path down to the lower town, there’s a rotting hulk the French sank during their blockade, which was useless. One sunk ship doesn’t make a barrier. Plague forced Henry to terms.

The Swooping Gull is famous for waterzooi, and Friday is the best day to go The tavern has a curious ritual, rather romantic, which I sense will be to your taste, something St. Francis of Assisi would bless. Before dinner, a swarm of gulls–yellow-legged, black-backed, white-herring patterned, grey-winged—rise into the air, mingling promiscuously, circling nothing, but in military order. An old fellow emerges from the tavern, a sack tied to his chest. At the jetty he thrusts his left arm into the air, holding today’s catch between his second and third fingers. A single gull swoops to retrieve the piece, while the fellow’s right hand pulls a replacement from the bag, left hand meeting it and rising for the next gull. All moves serene and the gulls exquisitely courteous. No gull tries the ground because the fellow never drops anything. Nor do the gulls mistake finger for fish. The legend is that the longer they feed the tastier the meal will be. It’s a better brag than any placard.

I stand, arm extended. I’m still comely, with chiseled features, flaxen, grey-tipped hair and a ready smile over yellowed, but not rotted, teeth. Unusually tall, I’m neither flabby nor gouty. Today I’m clothed in the Tuscan style, wearing a white cambric shirt with blackwork at the cuffs and collar, a black velvet doublet with vertical and horizontal slashes showing russet satin, and discreet silver thread trim. My upper stocks have slashes over russet and black hose. With no shoulder puffers or padded codpiece, my figure is discernible. My boots have leather tassels as fine as fronds. I move out from my desk. Lady Betty stands too, in a fine red wool dress with grey leather patches.

I hear her great sobbing sigh, long and long, see her reaching hand.  “They don’t make clothes like that anymore. Gorgeous fabrics, so lush, so opulent and elegant it hurts!”

I reach out a hand to help her. I meet a vibrating wall of scorching air. My body trembles with sound I cannot hear but know is in me, battering. All goes black. When light returns Lady Betty is gone. I return shakily to my desk, cone out. My guest chair has no residue of her perfume. I rub my clothes. No Tuscan finery, but black wool hose, black linen breeches, loose white shirt and a black jerkin, my letter-writing clothes. But I remember where I saw that bead necklace: on a woman with the same shaped eyebrows coming out of a glover’s shop in Oxford during my student days. A hint of sweet orange wafted above the horse dung. I thought her the goodwife of a steward at a provincial estate. Wherever she’s gone she’s been here before. Did this visitation even happen?  Do I have a chronicler? Ah, asking about a chronicler is the sin of pride. I ring for Joris to send for my priest.

Intrigue, lust and war combine in this debut spy thriller, meticulously researched in events and settings. Young Catholic courtier, Sir Edward Latham, has a brilliant future in Protestant Elizabethan England. His loving family made the necessary accommodations. He cannot. Patriotism and religion wage war in his heart. He throws away title, kin and land to serve Catholic monarchs abroad in missions that propel from Paris to Constantinople and places between. But wandering doesn’t quiet his soul. When war threatens his beloved homeland patriotism prevails. He becomes a double agent for Queen Elizabeth. Life turns complicated and dangerous as he balances protecting country and Queen while entreating both sides for peace.

Buy Links: Amazon or any good bookstore.

Where did he go? He was sitting right there in the interview chair and then—poof!—he disappeared! I suppose he had to get back to work. I hope you enjoyed meeting Sir Latham!

Happy reading, all!


Best-selling Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

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Getting to know Tammy Euliano #author #books #medical #thrillers #physician #teacher

My guest author today writes her stories based on personal experience and of course an active imagination! Please help me welcome Tammy Euliano. We’ll peek at her bio and then find out more about her latest book.

By day, Tammy Euliano, MD, is a Professor of Anesthesiology and Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University of Florida where she cares for patients, teaches medical students and residents, performs research, and invents cool stuff. She’s been honored with numerous teaching awards, more than 100,000 views of her YouTube teaching videos, and was featured in a calendar of women inventors (copies available wherever you buy your out-of-date planners).

By night, she plays games with her family (now remotely), plays tennis (badly), cuddles her dogs, reads, and writes medical thrillers. In her writing, she is intrigued by ethically blurry topics and enjoys positioning characters on all sides of a debate, each with a well-reasoned position…or humor…or dogs.

Vacations are for exploring our amazing world. She has dragged her family of five to all the major US national parks, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Costa Rica, the Caribbean, the Galapagos, the Mediterranean, Europe, and New Zealand. Trips are spent soaking up the history and culture while also experiencing nature, often in extreme fashion.

Author Social Links: Facebook * Instagram * Goodreads

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Tammy: The idea of managing the end-of-life has fascinated me since way before any kid should think about such things. We had a debate in my 5th grade class about the fate of Karen Ann Quinlan, a young woman in a persistent vegetative state whose parents wanted her ventilator disconnected, while the State of New Jersey disagreed. I don’t recall what side my 10-year-old-self argued, but the question never left me. Medical technology and the ability to keep the body alive has far out-paced our ethical ability to deal with the implications.

In medical school and residency, the question resurfaced repeatedly, while watching families’ extended mourning in the ICU, and anesthetizing patients for innumerable procedures despite little to no hope of a meaningful recovery. Meanwhile, the absurd cost of medical care in the US frequently made the news, especially expenditures in the last few months of life and final hospitalization.

Actually getting words on the page took a bit longer. After writing an introductory anesthesia textbook with my mentor, we decided to continue our teamwork with a novel. Sadly he fell ill and passed away, but I had the bug and found the time to start Fatal Intent.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Tammy: Definitely Dr. Kate Downey, the protagonist. She’s quite a lot like me. Shocking for a debut author, I know. Though a few years my junior, ahem, we share careers as anesthesiologists who specialize in obstetric anesthesia and teach medical students and residents, sometimes using a simulated operating room environment.

Our personalities overlap a bit, or did when I was her age, but there the similarities end. Instead of my tragedy-free life to date, she suffered the loss of her parents and now the traumatic brain injury of her husband. Boy, are we authors cruel, or what? I have to keep reminding my husband that Kate is not me, and he is not her comatose husband, Greg. As for her dog, I’m afraid mine is just as energetic, spoiled, and completely untrained…times two.

Betty: Which story element sparked the idea for this story: setting, situation, character, or something else?

Tammy: The situation. Long intrigued by end-of-life issues, the seeds of a plot began germinating in my head (kind of a gross image, really). Over time, the story world and its characters began invading my real life, popping to mind at all hours, sometimes quite inconveniently.

Betty: Which character(s) were the hardest to get to know? Why do you think?

Tammy: The villain, of course. Initially I imagined him wholly evil, then realized he was sort of doing a good thing, just in a bad way, then decided he needed to be evil-er both to raise the stakes and to make it clear what should happen. It was fun trying to get into his head and understand his motivations.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Tammy: Since it’s set in my real-life world, not as much as I’ve had to for other books. I did read up on some medical details, how home deaths are managed, and end-of-life laws around the world. Google is my go-to, but I’m fortunate to have connections throughout the medical world to get answers to my questions. Also, there are Facebook groups of lawyers, doctors, and police who will answer questions with their expertise.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Tammy: This story took at least three years to write, though that included realizing I didn’t know how to write and starting over multiple times as I learned what not to do. It’s sequel took less than a year, and I’m hoping the next will be shorter still. I’ve developed some skills, though have much more to learn!

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Tammy: I’m fortunate to have two great writing locations, one at my house, and one at a lake house we visit on weekends. At both I have a laptop stand and can write standing up outside where my dogs conveniently bring me balls to throw…well, not exactly BRING, but hide somewhere under a bush nearby to keep me awake. Another habit is using a large white board to make a mind map of my plot and finally, having characters write me a hand-written letter about their lives and motivations. It makes them more three-dimensional in my mind. As a friend reminded me, “Each character is the hero of his/her own story, even the villain.”

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Tammy: I pay attention to “just,” but use “but” way too much. And smile and nod are always a problem, as are look and gaze. I try to picture the movie version and those words just (oops) seem right. I need to continue to read great writers critically to learn how they get around such seemingly insurmountable stage direction.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Tammy: I’m a physician, an academic anesthesiologist specializing in obstetrics, to be specific. Besides caring for women in this most special moment, I also teach medical students and residents, and have worked with my husband’s engineering team to develop new medical devices. Since I began writing, I resigned my administrative positions and therefore enjoy my job infinitely more. Managing people is not my forte.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Tammy: Fatal Intent is surely it. Related are the amazing blurbs I was able to get from the likes of Lee Child, Kathy Reichs, and Tess Gerritsen, all heroes of my author journey.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Tammy: Learning that I reached readers in an impactful way would define success for me. That I held their attention, took them away for a while, made them think, maybe taught them something, but most importantly that they enjoyed their time in the world of my imagination and it brightened their day (or night, or hopefully both). Ideally, that it also stuck with them afterward in some meaningful way.

When her elderly patients start dying at home days after minor surgery, anesthesiologist Dr. Kate Downey wants to know why. The surgeon, not so much. “Old people die, that’s what they do,” is his response. When Kate presses, surgeon Charles Ricken places the blame squarely on her shoulders. Kate is currently on probation, and the chief of staff sides with the surgeon, leaving Kate to prove her innocence and save her own career. With her husband in a prolonged coma, it’s all she has left.

Aided by her eccentric Great Aunt Irm, a precocious medical student, and the lawyer son of a victim, Kate launches her own unorthodox investigation of these unexpected deaths. As she comes closer to exposing the culprit’s identity, she faces professional intimidation, threats to her life, a home invasion, and, tragically, the suspicious death of someone close to her. The stakes escalate to the breaking point when Kate, under violent duress, is forced to choose which of her loved ones to save—and which must be sacrificed.

Buy Links: Amazon * Indiebound * Kobo * B&N * Google * Apple * Chirp

I agree wholeheartedly with your friend’s advice that the villain is the hero of his/her story, too. Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to share your intriguing story with us, Tammy!

Happy New Year and happy reading!


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!

Getting to know Anise Eden #author #suspense #romance #paranormal #bookchat #books #fiction

Please help me welcome fellow author Anise Eden! Let’s find out a little bit about her and then move right in to the Q&A.

ANISE EDEN is a psychotherapist-turned-writer of award-winning suspense novels with romantic elements and paranormal twists. Originally from the U.S., Anise now lives in Ireland with her husband and their small, benevolent canine dictator. You can learn more about Anise and her books at Member of RNA, Sisters in Crime, and the Irish Writers Centre.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Anise: I started writing in high school, thanks to a wonderful English and creative writing teacher. My mom says I’ve been writing stories and putting together little books since I learned to read, but I admit I have no memory of those early self-published works!

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

Anise: I wrote my first novel in 2012, then worked on it obsessively until my agent sold it to a publisher in 2015. It was published in 2016, so while I had written poetry previously, I worked on my novel-writing skills for four years prior to publication.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Anise: I believe my writing style has been influenced by everything I’ve ever read, to be honest. Some authors who gave me the courage to write in a way that felt natural and organic to me were Barbara Kingsolver, Audre Lorde, and Wally Lamb.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Anise: I began work on my first novel several months into my first experience of forced unemployment. A breakdown in my health led me to leave my social work job, and I began writing as a way of trying to understand what had led to that breakdown. Then the story took on a life of its own.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Anise: In high school, I fell in love with poetry. I worked seriously on that craft for about fifteen years, and had some poems published in small journals. I still love reading poetry, but these days I only write two or three poems a year. My focus has shifted to novel writing, and now it feels constricting to me to write anything under 70k words!

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Anise: I love writing stories that, while firmly grounded in the real world, explore parts of the human experience that remain mysteries. I am a huge science geek, but like so many of us, I’ve also had experiences that defy explanation. I enjoy weaving those elements into uplifting love stories with suspenseful plotlines that keep the pages turning.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

Anise: In terms of novel writing, I learned by doing, then revising endlessly based on feedback from (very generous) friends and family members. My intensive writing education began while working with my agent, and later with editors in preparation for publication. Collaborating with editors is so exciting for me, and one of my favorite parts of the writing process.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Anise: I wish I had understood how drastically the publishing landscape has changed since about 2014-15. That was the year I sold my book, so my expectations were somewhat outdated, based as they were on the experiences of writers who had published prior to this new era in the industry.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

Anise: Before I started writing my debut novel, I read the first two books in the Spiritwalker Trilogy by Kate Elliott. Her soaring, lyrical prose and the sheer ambition and originality of her stories were an inspiration, and I was on the edge of my seat, waiting for the third book to come out (it was worth the wait!). Reading her books and being encouraged by her intrepid heroine gave me courage to try something new.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Anise: After health issues forced me to leave behind my career in psychotherapy, I began writing to try to make sense of what happened. At the same time, I was watching the TV show “Medium,” which prompted me to wonder about the evolutionary origins of paranormal gifts; as a creative exercise, I constructed a Bronze Age origin myth. Those two elements combined as I wrote my first chapter. Then, the story of The Healing Edge Series and its characters landed in my head all at once, banging on my consciousness and demanding to be put on the page. That initial first chapter ended up in the scrap heap, but from there, the trilogy was born.

All of Cate’s problems are in her head. That may be her greatest strength.

Cate Duncan is a promising young therapist, dedicated to her work. But after her mother’s suicide, she is seized by a paralyzing depression. To save her job, Cate agrees to enter a treatment program run by the mysterious Ben MacGregor and his mother.

Housed in a repurposed church, the MacGregor Group is a collection of alternative healers whose unconventional approaches include crystals, aura readings, and psychics, but they need Cate’s unique powers. As her emotional struggles bring her ever closer to her own abyss, Ben will do everything in his power to protect Cate from those who wish her harm—including herself.

A powerful novel of suspense and a wildly inventive start to this paranormal romance series, All the Broken Places engages readers with its striking blend of the supernatural and the psychological.


In my dream, there was no thought of suicide. We were simply potting begonias on the back porch, getting our hands dirty and inhaling the dueling scents of spicy flowers and sweet earth.

My mother tried—and failed—to sound light and casual. “So, Catie, have you met anyone interesting lately?”

A man, she meant. Without looking up to meet her probing gaze, I said, “Come on, you already know the answer to that question.”

“Okay, okay. I can’t help it, though. I have to keep asking.” She smiled as though she knew something I didn’t. “Maybe soon.”

In one of my typical clumsy moves, I dropped a large clump of potting soil on the floor.

“You don’t have to get it absolutely everywhere, you know,” she teased.

I slid my hand down her forearm, leaving behind a dark streak. “Like that, you mean?”

“No, like this,” she replied, dabbing a glob of wet dirt onto my nose. At once, the dirt-smearing competition was on.

In the midst of our squeals and contortions, I noticed a black pen mark peeking out from beneath the neck of her t-shirt. “What’s that?”

“What’s what?”

“That mark.” I pointed.

She looked down, puzzled, and stretched her collar out until we could both read the words that had been written across her collarbones: “Do Not Resuscitate.”

My dirt-streaked palms flew up to cover my mouth. Mom gazed at me, her eyes heavy with unshed tears. “You’d better go now.”

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * iBooks * GooglePlay * Kobo

Sounds like a powerful story, indeed! Thanks for coming by today, Anise.

Happy reading!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

Martha Washington and her daughter’s epilepsy #history #medicines #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

During this past week’s celebration of the one-year anniversary of the release of Becoming Lady Washington, I read an excerpt from the book dealing with the many treatments they tried and which failed to help Martha’s daughter with epilepsy fits. It brought to mind just how far the world of medicine has come over the last 250+ years.

I am not a medicine historian by any means but I have read a good bit about how people tried to fight off diseases in the 18th century. Here’s the excerpt I read on Wednesday, with the various kinds of treatment mentioned in bold italics:

Mount Vernon – 1768

One afternoon in September, George searched me out, finding me in the hall where I sewed in the brighter light the area afforded to my work. I set aside the stitching to attend to what he was about to convey. I braced myself when I noted his serious expression. “What is it?”

“I need to speak with you.” George placed a chair nearby and sank onto its wood seat. “I’ll be leaving in the morning to attend the assembly, but I shouldn’t be gone but a month or two. Did you wish to accompany me?”

Oh, how I’d adore to travel with him to Williamsburg, as it would give me the opportunity to visit with my mother and kinfolk. But not with Patsy ill so frequently. My heart simply was not interested in the gaiety of the balls and dinners and the whirl of society in the colony’s capitol.

Dr. Rumney was a necessary but not entirely wanted guest. Each time I sent for him, desperate to find a solution to my daughter’s increasing fits, I prayed for strength and peace. Allowing myself to lose my composure would not help any one. Better to keep calm and seek out ways to comfort and encourage my daughter.

I smiled at George, a small rueful grin as I shook my head. “I desire nothing more than to be at your side, but I cannot leave. I do not trust any one else to attend our daughter. She’s not up to traveling, either. The journey and upset might undo any strides Dr. Rumney has made.” George’s eyes held a wealth of compassion and concern, but I wouldn’t stand between him and his obligations. I could handle the household in his absence. More importantly, I trusted he’d come home if I needed him. “Go and do what you have to. Only do not stay away a moment longer than your business requires. I will be anxious for your return.”

George enclosed my hand in his. “I give you my promise to return as soon as possible.”

Two months passed while I did my utmost to remain positive. But Patsy continued to need the doctor’s ministrations. I kept one eye on her and one on the door, waiting for George’s return. He wrote to me weekly, sharing the gossip and that he’d been asked to lead the Virginia Militia. My pride for his stellar reputation and the resulting trust placed in his hands bolstered my flagging energy. I’d do nothing to give him cause to be less proud of me than I was of him. When George trotted his stallion up the lane in November, Billy at his side like an appendage, I met him at the door to guide him to where Dr. Rumney yet again administered nervous drops and musk to Patsy.

I caught a sharp appraising glance from George, but didn’t give him chance to comment on my admittedly haggard appearance. I’d attempted to correct the ravages of months of worry, but apparently had not succeeded. A fact unsurprising when I considered the keen judgment he possessed. Whether appraising the conformation of a horse or determining the trustworthiness of a servant, he missed nothing. Hurrying him to Patsy’s room, I trusted speed would blur the edges enough to avoid further commentary. No matter what else, at least George returned home to help me shoulder the burden of worry.

“How long has the doctor been here?” George asked quietly, his voice rumbling in the passage.

“This time? An hour or so.” I kept my voice low as we turned the corner.

“I know you’re worried, as am I. We will do all we can, Patsy.” George pulled me to a halt outside the closed chamber door and embraced me, a lazy bear hug that stole my breath for a few moments. Blissful moments snug within the protection of his arms. He eased me away from him and pecked a kiss to my lips. “How frequently has Dr. Rumney been summoned?”

“Weekly.” I clung to his hands, needing their strength and stability, and craned my neck back so I could search his expression. “He continues to use purges and bleedings. Ointments and drugs of various kinds. But it’s all guessing. He told me they do not know what causes these terrifying visitations on a person’s body.” A sigh clawed its way from me. “It’s a terrible thing, to watch your child suffer and be unable to alleviate or remove the cause.”

The last fit had been the worst I’d ever seen, and the absolute hardest event to witness. She’d started to shake uncontrollably, biting her tongue until it bled, and then dropped unconscious. I had eased her to the floor with a bump. She’d slept in my arms for nearly ten minutes before she roused. Ten long, agonizing minutes of staring at her closed eyes and willing for her to be well. I’d sent for the doctor posthaste. I shuddered at the memory. We must find an answer.

“Let’s see what he has to say today.” George opened the door and ushered me inside the sunny room.

Patsy sat in a chair by the window, dark eyes in a pale face, lips brushed with pink, brunette curls hidden under a kerchief, a colorful lap blanket warming her legs. Dr. Rumney turned from where he’d been stirring yet another dosage of nervous drops into warmed sherry. Not that it had worked previously. Surely something would cure her ailment. The tension coiled inside of me would take a miracle to release. A miracle for Patsy.

“Welcome home, Colonel.” Dr. Rumney tapped the spoon on the edge of the glass and laid it on the table. “I do believe we may be making a bit of progress in managing your daughter’s symptoms.”

George strode forward and shook the doctor’s hand. “That’s good to hear, doctor. We’re naturally very concerned about the increased frequency of the attacks.”

“It’s not my fault, Father.” Patsy frowned slightly. “I try to stop them but I cannot.”

“We know it’s outside of your control, dear.” George glanced from Patsy to me and then the doctor. “We’ll keep looking for a way, anything with any hope of success will be tried. Understood, Dr. Rumney?”

“Of course.” Dr. Rumney hurried across the room and handed Patsy the glass. “Drink this and let’s hope it will help abate the events, or at least lengthen the time between them so you can play the spinet again.”

I clasped my cold hands in front of me. After the years of increasing frequency and violence in her spasms, of doctor visits, and a slew of treatments, what more could we try? “Perhaps if we took her to take of the waters at Warm Springs?”

Dr. Rumney put various tools and bottles back into his bag and snapped it closed before addressing me. “I’ve never heard of any one recovering from the falling sickness by doing so, but if it comes down to it, we might try that as a last resort. In the meanspace, continue giving our lovely patient sips of the musk twice a day as prescribed. If you have any further concerns, send for me.”

“Thank you, doctor. I’ll walk you out.” George ushered the doctor from the room, casting a last glance back at me with an encouraging smile.

“Mama, please don’t be sad.” Patsy reached out a hand, wiggling her fingers until I wrapped them with my own. “Would you like for me to play your favorite song?”

I lifted her hand to press a kiss to the fingers. The same fingers that had reluctantly pressed the ivory keys for years. “Yes, I would like that very much.”

The treatments included in this passage were not the only ones they tried. In fact in Patricia Brady’s excellent biography Martha Washington: An American Life, she states:

“Epilepsy was untreatable by any medical knowledge of the day. The Washingtons spent much time and money consulting a variety of doctors (at least eight of them over the years), trying changes in lifestyle, mountains of medicines, and treatment with ‘simples,’ that is, herbal remedies. Dr. William Rumney, an Englishman in practice in Alexandria, treated Patsy regularly for five years, coming down to Mount Vernon every few weeks to examine his patient and bring capsules, powders, pills, and decoctions. Throughout her ordeal, antispasmodics such as valerian and musk were the primary medicines prescribed—to no avail. At one point, poisonous but often used mercury and severe purging were ordered, Martha nursing and watching her daughter throughout. Another time, a blacksmith came and put an iron ring on Patsy’s finger, based on an English folk belief that such rings prevented seizures. Later, they spent a month at Warm Springs, hoping the waters might be beneficial.”

During the yellow fever outbreak in Philadelphia later in the century, 1793, they resorted to firing guns in the air and lighting fires in the streets along with wearing amulets around their necks to ward off the evil disease. Lots of folk medicine ideas were based on fear and hope not science.

One last reminder. Just for a few more days, both in honor of Memorial Day and Martha’s 290th birthday on June 2, I’ve discounted the ebook of Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel from its regular $4.99 to $2.99 (I would have made it $2.90 if I could have!). This is a limited time sale so get your copy today!

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a wonderful summer of reading and relaxing ahead.


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

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

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

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

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Getting to know Aimee O’Brian #romance #author #suspense #fiction #mustread #books

I have a special guest in the interview hot seat today. Author Aimee O’Brian has let her Los Angeles cop character sit in to answer a few questions. This should be fun! But first, let’s peek at Aimee’s bio and then we’ll meet Lexanne Harris.

Award-winning author of dark, sexy, and funny romance, Aimee O’Brian resides in the beautiful wine country. She’s enjoyed careers in retail, teaching, technical writing and office administration. Now, with her three children grown and experiencing their own adventures, she and her husband are free to explore the world. When she’s not reading, writing, or planting even more flowers in her garden, she can be found stomping through ancient ruins and getting lost in museums.

Author Social Links: Website * Instagram * Facebook

Character interview with Lexanne Harris, Los Angeles cop and the protagonist of Aimee O’Brian’s debut novel, Steal My Heart, from Tule Publishing Group.

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Lexanne: My childhood sucked. From the day my mom died and I was stuck with just my alcoholic dad, I wanted out of the neighborhood I grew up in. I studied, graduated and joined the police force as soon as I could. I was over being a victim.

Betty: What kind of schooling did you have? Did you enjoy it?

Lexanne: I enjoyed the police academy. I enjoyed learning to kick ass.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest achievement? Why?

Lexanne: My greatest achievement was making detective and getting assigned to the larceny division. From the time I put on the uniform, from the time I swore to serve and protect, I wanted to make detective. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the beat, and I rocked the gang task force, but I am, oh, so good at catching criminals. I thrive on risk, on challenge. How much better is it to catch a clever criminal, one who thinks he’s impervious to the law?

Betty: If you could change one thing from your past, what would it be and why?

Lexanne: My mom dying. I’d change that, yeah, that one thing. Just that.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Lexanne: I’m afraid of heights because of what happened to my mom.  The only person who knows is my best friend Cassidy. I can’t show weakness, not on the job, not to anyone, but Cass has been my best friend since third grade. She knows all my secrets and is still my friend.

Betty: Are you close to your family?

Lexanne: If I could choose my family it would be Cassidy, and, maybe, her kid sister Mia.  Cassidy keeps me honest and her little sis is classy. They’re my personal back-up.

Betty: What characteristics are you looking for in a potential lover?

Lexanne: The usual, you know, stamina, endurance, a hot bod. I have a plan to act out my fantasy tonight with my latest hook-up. He’s a fellow cop. I acted out his fantasy, so now it’s my turn. Sex with a cat burglar – how cool is that! Man, I can’t wait.  And, hey, I’m a cop, he’s a cop, I’m housesitting a mansion. It’s the perfect opportunity. What could possibly go wrong?

When a fantasy turns into a cold reality

Lexanne Harris had a plan down to the last sexy detail. Never did she think her attempt to spice up her love life with her boyfriend would involve her in a burglary with a sexier-than-sin thief whose emerald eyes and serious between-the-sheets skills are impossible to forget. As a police detective, she is expected to stand on the side of the law and fight for justice. But what happens when the lines of justice blur and what’s wrong becomes way too tempting? The situation might be challenging, but Lexanne is determined to get assigned to the case, recover the jewels and catch the culprit. The question is: What will she do with her sexy cat burglar when she catches him?

Buy Links: TulePublishing * Amazon

I do hope Lexanne catches her cat burglar, don’t you? Thanks for stopping by, Lexanne!

Happy reading, everyone!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

Choosing A Period-Appropriate Book for a Character to Read #research #history #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I love to include places I’ve visited as well as classic authors and their books in my fiction. So in writing Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3; Coming May 2021!), I looked for a “new” book Cassandra could read in the gazebo in 1821. My first thought was of Sir Walter Scott’s book, Waverly, because I was pretty sure he was writing around the turn of the 19th century. And I own a treasured copy of it. So I went in search of my copy to confirm its publication date. Now, my copy is special to me because I bought it while on a university hosted study abroad trip. It was a summer course for essentially the entire month of July 1995 in Great Britain entitled Literary Landscapes and Journeys of the Mind. That was the first and only time I have traveled abroad without family with me. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience, too. If we ever sit down over a cup of coffee together, ask me about it. <wink>

Here’s a short snippet from my upcoming release of Desperate Reflections where Cassie is reading:

She looked down at the book in her hands. Abram had let her borrow his copy of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverly. Apparently, he had easy access to many books in the cosmopolitan world he lived in. He’d recommended it to her as a distraction and a great romantic tale. She opened the cover and noted it had been out for seven years, but it was entirely new to her. The story of an idealistic young man who fought for the Jacobites in 1745 Scotland seemed like a good way to not think about what was happening around her. To not think about what might happen when her aunts arrived. To not think about what other family secrets lurked in the shadows. Turning to the first page of the story, she ignored everything else.

Or tried. The rattle of wheels and thump of hooves tempted her to see who was coming and going. The smell of cake baking in the bread oven wafted past, teasing her nose. Her stomach rumbled, making her wish it was closer to dinner time. Another tweak to her empathic senses made her glance up, seeking the cause. Inwardly she shrugged. She wouldn’t actually see what caused the sensation. She returned her wayward eyes to the page and tried to absorb its contents, the reasons for why Scott had chosen the title name for the main character. She read the passage again but finally gave up with a sigh and let her gaze wander as she closed the book. So much for losing herself in an enchanting tale.

One of the many literary linked places we visited was Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Now he is not my all-time favorite author but I have read, enjoyed, and studied his work, making visiting his house a treat. The castle is absolutely stunning! I fell in love with his library which was immense and beautiful.

We had a brief tour on our way to Rydall Hall. I bought my copy of Waverly from the gift shop at Scott’s impressive home. My task assigned by my professor was to write a journal about my experiences, impressions, thoughts, hopes, whatever. That was the best idea ever because I have an immense notebook of my daily take on what we did and saw and experienced. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually write anything about Abbotsford in my journal despite having taken pictures of what I saw there. But I vividly remember how stunned I was by the library!

If you’re on NetGalley, Desperate Reflections is now available for download and to review. Look for it to release on May 11, 2021!

Can you believe it’s almost April already? This year is flying by for me. I guess I better get back to work.

See you next time. Happy reading!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

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

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Getting to know E.V. Svetova #author #YA #fantasy #mythical #mystery

I think you all will enjoy meeting my next guest! Please help me welcome E.V. Svetova! A quick peek at her background, which is fascinating by itself, and then we’ll get to find out more about her and her writing.

I was born in Moscow when it was the capital of a now extinct empire, and I had a chance to experience both the security and the subjugation of the totalitarian state. In retrospect, it was a winning combination of a happy childhood and a subversive youth. When the country I knew disintegrated like planet Krypton in front of my eyes, the shockwave of that explosion blew me across the world. I’ve landed on the island of Manhattan and have considered myself a New Yorker ever since.

These days, I live at the edge of the last natural forest on the island with my husband, a digital animator, sharing our old apartment with an ever-expanding library and a spoiled English bulldog.

I studied psychology as an undergrad and later received a Master’s in humanities from NYU. My creative nonfiction was published in a few literary magazines; a young adult fantasy Print In The Snow won an IPPY gold medal; the manuscript, Over The Hills Of Green was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. I am a member of WFWA.

Website * Facebook * Instagram

Betty: When did you become a writer?

E.V.: I’ve been writing stories before I knew how to write. My first books were hand-drawn comics, and, for some reason, the pages turned right to left. I think I still have one of those little books.

Betty: How long did you work on your writing skills before you became published?

I’m an eternal student. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but only became a published author in my late forties.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

E.V.: I grew up with classical Greek mythology; folklore and fairytales have always been my prime fare. That informed my affinity for speculative fiction in general. As a teen, I’ve been force-fed the Russian and other European classics, and as a result I am a nerd snob. I love science fiction and fantasy, and I adore magical realism. My absolute favorite writers, besides some obvious Russian classics, are Samuel Delany, Ursula Le Guin and Gene Wolfe.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

E.V.: Well, those voices inside my head needed to be shut up somehow.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

E.V.: Probably some fairytales with me as the protagonist – I was a kid, so it’s forgivable.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

E.V.: I am absolutely fascinated with the way language works, the way it affects the reader, transforms us and transports us. It’s the ultimate magic to me.

Betty: How did you learn to write? A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else?

E.V.: I don’t remember ever not taking a workshop, or a class, or not reading a craft book. I think, I’m like those people addicted to therapy, except my therapy is studying the literary process. Since I’m not a native English speaker, I always had to work a little harder. I was privileged to work with a true master, Jacob Miller, whose literary workshop I attended for years. Besides being an amazing teacher, he is a student of the Nobel laureate Joseph Brodsky, so there is a deep cultural connection as well.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

E.V.: I wish I was prepared to the degree of rejection one faces when entering the publishing world. It’s truly soul-crushing.

Betty: What other authors inspired you (either directly or through their writing) to try your hand at writing?

E.V.: If I read a book and feel inspired to write afterwards, that means it hasn’t awed me and feel I can do better. After reading my literary idols I feel like not wanting to write at all, that’s how simultaneously sated and discouraged they make me – because how can I ever dream of approaching their level? So, no, I don’t look for inspiration in other people’s work. Nature, visual arts, even film, but not books.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

E.V.: This novel Over The Hills Of Green came to me when I had a high fever, laid up with a flu. The whole story just played before my eyes like a movie. The characters are from a story, Print In The Snow, that I wrote in my late teens in Russian and later translated into English, and it is a natural continuation of the earlier adventure.

Otherworldly and mundane collide when a young New York psychologist takes on a charismatic patient who may be delusional or may literally come from the Otherworld of her suppressed childhood nightmares.

Driven to solve the intriguing case, Anna Reilly tries to unwind the thread of John Doe’s story, but instead becomes entangled in an uncertain relationship that challenges her sexuality, sanity, and her very sense of reality. When he inexplicably disappears, Anna’s professional and personal life comes undone, leaving her unsure whether she is expanding her mind or losing it, and whether the androgynous John is a mystical guide or a psychopathic con artist. Finding him will either provide her with the keys to the mysteries of the universe or complete her break from reality.

OVER THE HILLS OF GREEN is the second book in The Green Hills series. The first award-winning book, PRINT IN THE SNOW, sets in motion the events that change young Anna’s life forever.


Anna never had any more of the vivid dream-memories Yaret’s closeness had brought. The dreams she could recall were now mundane, easily traced to the sensory impressions of the previous day. In her waking hours, though, she kept seeing things, and not just the usual monsters in the dark. Every so often, an elm leaf, mottled like an inscribed parchment, would blow in from nowhere and lie at her feet in the middle of a busy intersection; a shadow made by a torn wire fence of a construction site would create a geometric, almost runic pattern in the dust; a seagull, too far away from the shore, would leave lines of wet scribble-like tracks on the polished granite cornice of the hotel down the street. In moments like those, it seemed to Anna all she needed was to see with true sight, and she could read the messages the universe was sending her. Of course, Anna rationalized that is was no more than her human brain utilizing its natural acumen at pattern-discernment, yet, sometimes, she would take off her glasses, and the cityscape, reflected in her nearsighted eyes as a painting in broad careless strokes, was rich with meaning so profound it didn’t require interpretation.

Buy links: Books2Read

Thanks so much, E.V., for sharing that story with us. Anna’s mundane dreams sound like most of mine, although I have had a few, um, interesting ones of late.

I hope you all had a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Thanks for reading!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.

Getting to know Jacie Floyd #author #contemporary #romance #womens #fiction

Jacie, thank you for being my guest. Please tell my readers about yourself, and the book you are sharing with us today.

Throughout her life, Jacie Floyd resided in the solidly Midwestern states of Indiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Ohio. Going to school, finding her ideal mate, raising two perfect children, and following her husband’s career relocations from state-to-state kept her more than busy. Despite numerous jobs and professional attempts of her own, nothing career-wise ever stuck. In her heart of hearts, she longed to follow her dream of being a full-time writer. So, in 2014, she enthusiastically ditched the unfulfilling day job and freezing mid-western winters to live and write in sunny Florida… Until the possibility of grandmother-hood became a reality, frequent air travel became impractical, and the idea of living so far from her children became unbearable. So a recent relocation to Louisville, Kentucky has absorbed much of the past six months, and winter has been a horrible reminder of why she left the area in the first place. The promise of her first grandbaby in May more than made up for what is, hopefully, her last major move. But she will continue to write her books about love, laughter, and happily-ever-after.

Website * Facebook * GoodReads * BookBub

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Jacie: Hi Betty! Thank you for this opportunity to share a little bit about my books and writing life on your blog! ‘Becoming’ a writer can be defined by many different milestones. In high school, I made my first attempts at writing poetry and short stories. I joined RWA in 1997. Finished my first full-length novel in 1999. I won my first Golden Heart (a major award for pre-published authors) in 2001. Published my first book in 2014. But, honestly, I think I was born a writer. The compulsion to write either consumes you or it doesn’t.

Betty: What authors or stories do you feel influenced your writing style?

Jacie: Oh, so many. I was an avid reader from birth. Of the early romance authors, the one who most impacted me and my writing was LaVyrle Spencer, because she wrote both historical and contemporary. Even then I knew that Contemporary novels would be my lane. She wrote clear, precise, emotional stories about real people in challenging, but identifiable situations. Then came Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jennifer Cruise, Kristin Hannah, Avery Flynn, and Kristin Higgins, and so many more. The humor and fast pace of these authors’ books wins me over every time.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Jacie: When I began writing with an eye to publication, it was always contemporary romance for me. Initially, they were sweeping stories with soap-opera cliff-hangers and over-the-top drama. My style has changed greatly since then.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Jacie: The actual fingers-on-keyboard, butt-in-chair act of writing brings me great joy: creating characters, putting words in their mouths and emotions in their hearts. If I could sit at my desk and make up fictional characters, all-day-every-day, I’d be completely happy.

Betty: How did you learn to write?

Jacie: A mentor, classes, conferences, craft books, or something else? Allowing for the fact that ‘learning to write’ is a never-ending journey, extensive reading has always been a major influence. I’ve taken numerous creative writing classes. For many years I was part of a critique group, and now I have an editor with a keen eye for plot loopholes and overwriting. Mentoring others is invaluable at this stage in my career. But the best education is just figuring it out by sitting down and writing.

Betty: What do you wish you knew before you started writing/publishing?

Jacie: Better time management. Writing and publishing are two different jobs, but I wish I had known that I’d need to learn how to do both. At the same time.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today?

Jacie: ALWAYS ALLIE is the first book in a new series (The Billionaire Brides), but it’s a spin-off of The Billionaire Brotherhood. While I loved writing about the amazing men of the brotherhood, I kept having the urge to flip the trope and make some man have to deal with a powerful woman for a change. As the sister of the hero in the first Billionaire Brotherhood book (WINNING WYATT), Allie’s story always intrigued me. So THIS is the story of a female executive who’s strong, confident, sexy, and wears stilettos. 

Allison Maitland Spencer is the billionaire president and CEO of Wyatt Enterprises. Following in her legendary mother’s footsteps as a strong, independent woman, she always gets what she wants—in business. Focused on her corporate responsibilities and raising her challenging teenage son, she doesn’t have time or energy for romantic relationships.

But when Buck Cooper, her high school sweetheart, returns, she’s reminded of sweet memories and tempted by the possibility of passion-filled nights. The seductive tech developer seems determined to reclaim her heart.

Their off-the-chart chemistry is a welcome distraction, but his past baggage and current secrets fill Allie with doubts. Is his pursuit based on desire or a plot to take over her company? Buck has easy answers for all of Allie’s questions—except the one about their future.


As Allie maneuvered through the well-dressed crowd, goose bumps pebbled her skin. Her nipples hardened beneath her silk dress and lace camisole. Good Lord! Where had that reaction come from? Totally inappropriate. And unexpected. How long had it been since she’d experienced such a visceral response from an unknown source? Or even a known one?

She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and turned her head to view the guests populating the surrounding area. Mingling. Laughing, Hugging. Nothing nipple hardening about any of it.

Angling her body slightly, she perused the men thronging the bar. Young men, old men. Men with new money, men with inherited money. Men with no money who hoped to be wealthy someday. Men who would hit on her because she was rich or because she was powerful. Men who’d be intimidated for the same reasons. Athletes, executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and adventurers. Typical for any elite social event.

None of them captured her attention or instigated the awareness prickling down her spine. Until the crowd cleared, and then… Yes, her brain whispered with satisfaction. Yes! her body shouted with excitement.

That one. Tall, hard, chiseled, and broad-shouldered. A body that begged to have the tuxedo ripped off it.

Buy links: Amazon

I’m sure it was a major adjustment moving from the warmer Florida climate to the much colder Kentucky one. ALWAYS ALLIE sounds like a great read. Thank you for sharing it with us today.

Until next time…

Happy reading!


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 for more on my books and upcoming events.