How Charm-ing! Choosing symbolic charms for #CharmedAgainstAllOdds #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #magic #charms #amreading #amwriting #books

Every story I write presents a new challenge. Some are involve defining unique characters, others unique settings or time periods. But in Charmed Against All Odds I gave myself a task like never before. I didn’t actually realize the degree of difficulty I’d assigned myself either. Let me explain…

In Charmed, Roxie and Leo are reunited. Great. A simple second chance at love story, right? Yes and no. What made it complex is that I needed to delve deeply into their young love story, the one when they were in high school before they had a disagreement so huge they split up. Then I also had chosen to have them go on a kind of treasure hunt, looking for enchanted charms to assemble on a bracelet. I really loved that concept! It’s the reverse of something I pondered years ago when going through my deceased beloved mother-in-law’s jewelry and came across a charm bracelet with charms I didn’t know the story behind. I recognized most of them, but then there were a few that raised my eyebrows… But that’s a story for another day.

Having identified the concept of a search for charms, you may have guessed what happened next. The big question then proved to be the one that caused the most work. Which charms and what is the story behind each of them? I had to relive Roxie and Leo’s teenage romance and reflect the growth of their love for each other through the back story and the choice for each charm they searched for. A symbol of where and when they fell in love.

It took several days to gather everything to be able to write their dual love story: the past and the present romances plus the specific charms. It was a good exercise to stretch my creativity and really write something unique. This story was a finalist in the Ind’Tale’s Rone Awards last year. I strive to bring something new and fresh to each story I write so my readers are entertained and so that I’m continuing to grow as a writer.

I’ve blogged before about each of the charms I chose, so if you’re curious about the reasons for each you can hop over to those posts. I’ll share the links below.

The Charms in order of the hunt:

#1: Book

#2: Friends

#3: Handshake 

#4: Theater masks

#5: Arrow

#6: Feather

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.

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

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

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

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

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What’s in a Name (or Title)? #historical #HistFic #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #amwriting #books

Choosing the title for a book is a challenge for many authors. I know I wrestle with many options before finally deciding one suits the story. I have come to the point in my career where I choose the name of a book based on my objectives for it as well as the content of the story. The titles for the American Revolution historical romance series I wrote are one case in point.

I tried on three or four different sets of titles for those books before landing on the final ones. They parallel in structure and in content, too. The A More Perfect Union series includes Elizabeth’s Hope (novella), Book 1 Emily’s Vow, #2 Amy’s Choice, #3 Samantha’s Secret, and #4 Evelyn’s Promise. From the titles you know who the main heroine is and the theme of the story. These stories are closely coupled, though you can read them individually and still enjoy the story. In fact the first three novels span October to December 1782. Evelyn’s Promise picks up in January 1783 and continues through the spring. Since the stories are so connected, it makes sense to have the titles also be linked. (In case you’re curious, another set of titles I liked but didn’t choose for the first three novels was for Book 1 Sunlight and Sacrifice, #2 Moonlight and Muskets, and #3 Starlight and Stitches. They include one set of themes and some nice alliteration but they didn’t feel right to me.)

For my paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, I purposely did not make the titles parallel in any way. When I started the series I didn’t know exactly how many stories it would embrace. But I want readers to get the sense that they are individual stories just from their titles. From their titles, I want the reader to have an inkling as to the paranormal aspect of the story and the main theme as well. Most of the titles in this series came easily. Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, and the last one Charmed Against All Odds. But the fourth book’s title was a tussle. Veiled Visions of Love went through many iterations and word swapping before I settled on it.

Let’s look a bit closer at each title in that series so you can see my thought process at work.

Undying Love is about a haunted plantation, Twin Oaks, and Meredith’s personal haunting by the memory of her dead husband and child and how she comes to terms with her grief. Her never-ending love for them both but also the Lady in Blue’s love for her family.

Haunted Melody is also set in Twin Oaks, with a different ghost this time, and Paulette’s rediscovery of her love of singing. There are many songs referenced in the story, too.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow was a bit trickier. It’s about a geologist (the stone part) and a witch who can heal through her hands (the touch part) and is a nod to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. The concept of the enchanted hollow or valley comes from an old Irish myth I read years ago, too. Essentially, a beautiful woman is enchanted to look like a hag until she learns humility. When a traveler offers her something to make her feel better, only then is she released from the spell. The geologist and healer are trapped in Raven Hollow until they can break the spell holding them there.

Veiled Visions of Love is about a psychic woman who can read others emotions and feelings except for the man she falls in love with. Thus her sight of him is “veiled” or obscured. But I had played with so many other words for “hidden” or “obscured” that just didn’t sound right. I love the alliteration in the final title but it took some time to finally get there.

Charmed Against All Odds came to me while driving home from a writers’ retreat in the northern mountains of Alabama. The song Against All Odds was playing on the radio, and the lyrics described the situation in my story almost perfectly. The lover who returns but is afraid of being rejected only to be welcomed by his ex-lover. The “charmed” part comes from the theme of an enchanted charm bracelet and the charms that the couple must locate to assemble the set and learn their true destiny.

I have two standalone titles as well. Both are historical fiction but in very different time periods. The first is Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel, set in the 18th century in Virginia and other states. This story is told from Martha Washington’s point of view, the only novel I’ve ever written in first person. It tells about how she learned what she needed to know in order to become the woman who would support George Washington’s roles as general and then first president.

The second historical fiction title is Notes of Love and War, set during World War Two in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an epistolary style novel, including letters and telegrams, but the term “notes” also refers to the fact that the main character is a musician and music critic. She is only given that role after the male music critic was drafted to fight in the war.

I think from this discussion you can get a good idea of my process for choosing the titles for my stories. Hopefully, as you read my books you’ll be able to discern the basis for the titles, too.

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.

An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

His desire for a home led him straight to her heart…

She craves more. More adventure. More drama. More excitement. Beth Golden knows without a doubt that she’ll die of boredom working in the family bookstore in small town Roseville. She’s resigned to her fate. Until a handsome biker rolls into town with an air of confidence and mystery. When he introduces her to a whole new world of daring and romance, she’s captivated by a lifestyle filled with unexpected and dangerous surprises.

Mitch Sawyer has one more job to complete before he can finally settle down. He has lived all over the world and wants nothing more than to have his own home with a wife and family. A dream he’ll be able to afford after this final airplane repo job when he can resign his Air Force commission. He reluctantly allows Beth, the sexy and entrancing book lover, to help him by becoming an undercover biker chick. Only Beth’s hunger for excitement endangers both herself and an innocent bystander.

Can he protect the woman and young boy—and his heart—before it’s too late?

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Southern Storms Spring into Undying Love #SecretsOfRoseville #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #books

Once you live through a scary event it can really color how you view related occurrences for the rest of your life. I’m speaking specifically about the April 2011 swarm of tornadoes that swept across northern Alabama and southern Tennessee. Most of the damage occurred in northern Alabama, but an F0 took out a pine tree next to our farm house in southcentral Tennessee. We lost power for the day, but it was back by dinner time. Hubby and I left our teenage children at home and went to work, where we spent most of the morning in the storm shelters in the basement of our respective office buildings. Listening to tornado sirens going off every so often all the time. Watching the weathermen/women track the multiple tornadoes sweeping across the state. I can’t tell you how concerned I was that we’d left our very capable, nearly adult teens at home alone. We did touch base with them via phone, of course. They were fine. I was the one having the issues!

When there was a break in the chain of storms, the powers that be let us out of the shelters. I picked up my hubby at his office and we headed home. We stopped on the way to pick up batteries and ice but then went straight home. It was a long day, let me tell you! Hubby finally made a dash to the pizza place to pick up our dinner, but raced a tornado warning home. Thankfully, it veered away from our house. By the time he got home, the power came back on. We were lucky, but Alabama was not. Significant damage was done to the power grid, which left the northern region without power for at least a week. Which meant we couldn’t go to work and since we didn’t bring our work laptops home, couldn’t work from home either. Since we lived in Tennessee we had power, but people just south of us in Alabama—a mere half mile away—did not.

At that time, the spring of 2011, my dad was still alive and living in an assisted living facility in Huntsville, Alabama. Because we were not residents, we could not go visit him because they’d instituted a curfew and you had to prove residency in order to enter any given area. He was barely able to talk on the phone, but I could call the nurses and they would take a phone to him so I could check in with him. It was difficult, but I knew it would only be for a short period of time. That experience gave me some measure of insight into how care givers and family dealt with not being able to see their loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that must have been very, very difficult!

So what does this have to do with my stories? Well, when I was writing Undying Love (originally titled Traces when first released in April 2014) I included a tornado hitting the Twin Oaks plantation since it’s set in the spring of the year and in Tennessee. Actually, the fictional town of Roseville is modeled on the small town of Fayetteville, Tennessee, near where I lived then. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:


The double front doors stood open, creating a picturesque backdrop to the array of delicious foods. Grizabella had been relegated to Meredith’s room until the luncheon ended so Meredith wouldn’t worry about her venturing outside, checking out the food, or tripping someone. Before very long, the crowd thinned. The dark storm clouds continued to gather overhead, lightning fracturing the sky. Finally, the last of the mourners paid their condolences, ate their last mouthful, and drove away. The thunder and lightning drew nearer, carried by the increasing wind whipping through the trees and blowing the tall grass so it danced under the onslaught.

“Quite a view from here.” Max had sneaked up on her so quietly she hadn’t heard even a floorboard creak.

“I’ve always loved being on the porch, drawn to it for reasons I only now understand.” She gazed out over the vista, the rolling hills boasting copses of trees, the lake churning in the wind, the road winding its way across the valley and disappearing to the left. The sky turned from dark gray to silver with a green cast, as though growing ill from its own increasing ferocity. She turned away from the storm to contemplate Max, drawn to him, too, for very different reasons. Reasons she must deny herself in order to protect them both. He’s my lawyer, not my lover. “I guess it’s time for you to head to town for the vote, right?”

His expression turned grim. “Why are you pushing me away?”

Before she could formulate a response, the tornado siren blared at the same time the weather radio sounded. Together, they gaped out over the valley in time to see the funnel cloud come into view and take aim on Twin Oaks.

“Oh no!” Meredith cried. “Where’s everybody? We need to take cover.”

“Get down to the basement,” Max said. “I’ll get the cat. Go!”

“I’ll find everyone.” She closed the double doors and then raced down the hall, searching for her family.

They found her, emerging into the hallway from side rooms as she ran toward the kitchen. Brock’s stalwart expression calmed Meredith’s rising panic. Her mother and sister exhibited concern but not fear.

“The tornado is coming this way. Go to the cellar. Now!” She shooed them before her, aware of Max’s heavy footsteps above as he hurried to retrieve her cat.

His offer to find Grizabella and keep her safe warmed Meredith’s heart. His longer stride made it faster for him to retrieve the cat than for Meredith. As long as he hurried, they’d all make it to the safety of the storm shelter.


It seemed logical to include the tornado but little did I realize I was tempting fate!

I set up a Facebook launch party event with other authors helping me celebrate the release of then Traces in April 2014. Note it’s the same month as when the swarm of tornadoes attacked three years earlier. It was nearly the same day of the month, too. That should have forewarned me but did I listen? Um, nope. I carried on, obliviously. Until the afternoon of the release party brought with it severe weather in the form of thunderstorms and, you guessed it, tornado warnings!

I managed to stay online for this virtual book launch through most of the planned event. Then we lost power so I was unable to interact with the partiers any longer. But I had told my co-hosts that I might lose power due to impending storms so they were able to pick up the party ball and carry on. The next day I went back to the group event and let everyone know we were fine and to touch base with everyone who had been kind enough to attend my first romance book launch party. But wow! What a memory, eh?

If you haven’t read Undying Love yet, the Kindle edition is on sale for $.99 through April 7. Grab your copy today and enjoy!

Happy Easter! 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.

Meredith Reed inherits the family plantation after the tragic loss of her family and now must decide its future. Max Chandler has found his soul mate in beautiful yet aloof Meredith, but she threatens to destroy the property he cherishes. Can Meredith learn a lesson from the spectral lady in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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Reflecting on Army Camp Life on Guadalcanal #WWII #research #history #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

When my dad died about 10 years ago, I inherited his papers and photographs and other items important to him. He kept them in two metal trunks, one black and one green, plus a couple smaller plastic file/tote boxes. I treasure each one and have shared some of his things with other family members who also value them. One of the most interesting collections I came across recently is a set of Coconotes newsletters of life and activities in the army camp, the 20th Station Hospital, where he was stationed on Guadalcanal.

Front page of an issue of Coconotes camp newsletter

These newsletters are important and interesting to me because not only do they describe the concerns, events, USO performances, sports, etc., happening on the island but many of them actually list my dad as first the associate editor and then as editor of the publication. In reading through the contents, I could see how he put his mark on the contents as well. He served as associate editor June-July 1944, then as editor until the middle of November 1944. At that point, he was due to receive a direct commission so he was sent to Hawaii to receive it. (Only, the promotion fell through because they lost the paperwork. A story for another time, perhaps.)

Several of the papers include articles he wrote and sketches he drew to illustrate them. His signature is on the cartoons, too. I have always known my dad was also a writer. I’ve read many of his short stories, poems, limericks, and even a song he wrote and had put to music. If I knew he edited these newsletters, then I had totally forgotten until I rediscovered them in his trunks.

This article called “SNAFU” is not about what that term typically refers to, but is about the need to save money for the future rather than spending it now. Specifically, SNAFU means Spending Now Averts Future Use. I can well imagine he made that up, knowing his penchant for humor and for saving money. I also found a small notebook he carried while on the island that has a list of the money he sent home to his mother to save for him. So I know this topic was dear to him.

I mentioned that the contents changed under his leadership. The earlier newsletters included on the back page a list of jokes and cartoons. The later ones included a summary of the news at the various front lines of the war. Of particular note is the fact that a new copyright notification appears on the masthead and there is a note from the official censer that the soldiers could not mail the newsletter home. Having said that, it’s rather ironic that I found the set of newsletters in a large envelope my dad mailed home to his mother…

Mailing envelope from my dad to his mother

Are you curious about the kinds of things they did during the war? Well, the two or three Red Cross nurses hosted events throughout the week, including bingo, craft lessons, donut day, dances, and holiday dinners. In the October 17, 1944 issue, there is an announcement that the “20th to Celebrate Two Years Overseas” with a supper party including grilled steak with all the fixings and beer. This was a very special dinner, from all appearances. The nurses also provided mending services for the soldiers. To keep fit, the soldiers played baseball, including having tournaments with other island teams. Volleyball and swimming were also favorite activities, as well as hiking and fishing.

I am amazed at the number of jokes included in each issue. Some of which are no longer funny, but most of them have stood the test of time, in my opinion. I wonder where they culled them from. Or did they make them up?

Another surprise was the number of poems about life on the island and in the army that are included throughout the issues in my possession. One man in particular wrote many poems for the newsletter. I did a quick online search to see if he continued a career in poetry but his name didn’t yield any results. I may see if I can poke around more to find out what became of him. He had quite a talent!

I’m in the process of documenting their contents and my husband is scanning them into pdf files for archival purposes. Once their digitized, then I can share them with the rest of my family, too. I intend to offer the collection of newsletters and a few other specific items that I think have historical value to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. They already have an oral history interview with my father from 2009, and he’s listed in their Honor Roll registry. But the contents of these newsletters provides a different view of life during a world war, so I think they should have them for safe keeping.

Hoppy Easter and 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.

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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Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Touch of Irish Heritage Plus an #Easter #giveaway #SecretsOfRoseville #StPattys #StPatricksDay2021 #amreading #books

Since it’s nearly St. Patrick’s Day, let’s chat about the Irish heritage of the main characters in my Secrets of Roseville series, shall we? This is most clear in the first book, Undying Love. Like me, sisters Meredith O’Connell Reed and Paulette O’Connell can claim ancestors from Ireland. However, Meredith struggles with those roots and how they may impact her plans.

Before I tell you more about her feelings and plans, let me share that I’m doing an Easter giveaway if you’re interested in winning a signed copy of Undying Love (Book 1 of the Secrets of Roseville series). Here are the details and the link to enter:


Betty Bolte’s Easter Egg-Stravaganza Giveaway

Includes: (1) $10 Amazon Gift Card, a signed paperback of Undying Love, a signature wine tumbler, and other cool Easter swag. Enter now for your chance to win!

One (1) winner will be chosen at random on March 25th * 18+ to enter * Continental USA only * Betty Bolte is solely responsible for this giveaway. *Picture for illustration purposes only.

https://contest.app.do/betty-bolte-s-easter-egg-stravaganza-giveaway


So, Meredith returns to her grandmother’s plantation manor, one she’s inherited after her beloved grandmother died. But she doesn’t plan to live there. Only, Meg, the housekeeper, prompts her memories of how much her grandmother loved Twin Oaks and especially a certain tree of Irish legend. Here’s a snippet from Undying Love:


“I can’t believe after all the time you’ve spent here, the joy you felt staying here, that you’d turn your back on your heritage.”

“I’m a city girl now.” As good an excuse as any other. Meredith ran a hand through her hair, slipping the ponytail holder off with a sigh of relief.

“That’s by location, not heritage.” Meg gripped her shoulder and squeezed until Meredith met her eyes. “Your Irish blood will speak to you, remind you of the legacy the land represents. Both past and future for the O’Connell family.”

“I haven’t heard an Irish brogue in my head yet.” Meredith grimaced. “Don’t know that I want to, come to think of it.”

“You know it’s a matter of time. You’ll always come home to the one thing that has bound this family and Twin Oaks together for generations.”

“What do you mean?”

Meg leaned toward Meredith and pointed out the window, indicating an area to the right of the cemetery. “Have you forgotten the fairy tree?”

Meredith’s eyes widened as she followed the direction of Meg’s finger, finally sighting the old hawthorn standing alone in the middle of the meadow. She’d forgotten all about it. Or perhaps ignored it on purpose. The fairy tree. Her grandmother loved the ancient hawthorn and the myths associated with it. Despite the fact they only technically existed in Ireland, Grandma insisted on protecting the little tree as though it were from their ancestors’ homeland. To her grandmother, the fairy tree symbolized the unity of the O’Connell family, across time and space, no matter what befell them. She claimed the tree alone protected the many generations of O’Connells.

She stared at the hawthorn. Roads had been relocated in Ireland because a fairy tree happened to grow in its path and the workers dared not harm it. Good men trying to provide for their families had died who had cut down a fairy tree. The tree’s one mission, according to Grandma O’Connell, was to keep Twin Oaks safe from all harm. What should she do?

“I wasn’t planning to cut down all the trees, Meg.” She stared out the window at the little tree, wishing it and her grandmother’s traditions away. No luck there, though. “In fact, I wasn’t planning to harm any of the trees and bushes.”


I learned about this tradition while touring Ireland with my husband and father-in-law many years ago. The tour guide pointed out a particular tree that they’d actually diverted the road project around for the very reasons above. I was fascinated by the concept, intrigued enough to include it in my story. I think it’s indicative of the nature of the Irish mindset, which is pretty cool. I loved Ireland! I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Have you been to Ireland? What did you think of the country, if so?

Happy St. Patty’s Day! 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.

Meredith Reed inherits the family plantation after the tragic loss of her family and now must decide its future. Max Chandler has found his soul mate in beautiful yet aloof Meredith, but she threatens to destroy the property he cherishes. Can Meredith learn a lesson from the spectral lady in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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Martha Washington and International Women’s Day #American #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Happy International Women’s Day! I’m sure we can all name women we admire and women who have made immense differences in the country and the world with their actions and loving attention. I admire many who are smarter, braver, and more daring than I could ever be. The world is a better place for them!

I suppose one of the most inspiring examples of a strong woman who faced unprecedented and unique challenges is Martha Washington. In researching her life and times, it was brought home time and time again how she faced the death of a loved one with grace and dignity and love. Until the death of the love of her life brought her to her proverbial knees. Even then she managed to press on through the grief and the ensuing loneliness after George was buried in his tomb.

But she did much more than survive her loved ones’ passing on. She helped bolster George, gave him a firm foundation from which to lead the fledgling country to victory during the American Revolution. Then kept him grounded and nurtured as the country’s first president and all of the many, many confrontations and hurdles he faced.

All while managing a large “family” both at home at Mount Vernon and in the field during the war, overseeing the management of the war camps during the winter months and then the presidential house in two different cities. She forged the path of the role of First Lady, establishing the acceptable protocols and etiquette. It’s never easy to be the first, but she used all of her training and experience as plantation mistress to organize an efficient household no matter what the other circumstances might have been. Keep in mind this meant making clothing, linens, medicines, foods, drinks, maintaining the household garden, and managing the imported foods and drinks kept under lock and key. It meant educating the children in history, math, reading and writing, as well as dance, art, music, and horticulture. She had to have her finger on the pulse of the entire operation in order to ensure a smooth and efficient household.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I know she wasn’t the perfect woman. She was raised within a belief system that is long dead and buried and needs to stay there. And of course she employed the help of her indentured servants, slaves, and paid servants. Given the constraints and expectations of women in the 18th century, I think she did very well at pushing the boundaries and demonstrating how capable and intelligent women are and can be when given the chance. She found a way to balance the feminine ideal of the times with a business acumen that did her proud and kept her family together. She found a way to combine societal expectation with her personal goals and make a new path forward.

So on this special day, I wanted to give a shout out to her, but also to all the inspiring women who lead the charge toward finding a better tomorrow for every woman.

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.

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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Round 2: Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

As I mentioned last week when I shared Sheridan’s menu, I have two excellent cooks who have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). The winner’s menu will be added to the Fury Falls Inn’s offerings, so it’s important to each man to prove their worth. This week I want to reveal Matt Simmons’ menu and a couple of the recipes that go with it that I’ve actually made and adapted to suit my and my husband’s tastes.

In my story, Matt has elected to offer a menu that is from other countries. So he makes East Indian Curry, a Salmagundi salad, and French Green Pea Soup. I’ve made Salmagundi several times, and tailored it down to serve two people. The recipe for the salad includes chicken, but you can omit that if you’d like. I hadn’t made the curried chicken before, so I tried that recently and adjusted it down from what the recipe says would serve eight people (using two whole chickens, I might add) to serve two people, with some leftover if you’re not big eaters. While my husband was a tad reluctant to try the curry because he doesn’t enjoy spicy food, he enjoyed it as much as I did since I didn’t use much of the curry powder. (By the way, I didn’t take the time to make my own curry powder despite having a recipe to do so which employed a mortar and pestle. Instead I simply bought a jar of it at the grocery store. I know, I’m being lazy…)

Neither my husband nor myself would enjoy pea soup, so I’m sorry but I’m not going to offer that recipe here. If you’re curious, though, send me an email (betty@bettybolte.com) and I’ll share that one privately from the cookbook I’m using.

I think Matt’s combination of the curried chicken and the salad would be a very good one, from my taste buds’ point of view. I think I will make them together in the very near future. I’ve also made a scaled up version of the salad to take to a pitch-in lunch for one of my writing chapters which was a big hit, as well. You know, way back when we could actually get together in person!

So without further ado or disclaimers, here are two recipes from me to you that I really enjoyed making and eating. I hope you enjoy, too!

Betty’s Salmagundi for 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T Italian dressing
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 2 cups salad mix
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, but into bite sized pieces

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken into a shallow pan. Pour Italian dressing to coat and then cover the pan before putting into the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool before cutting into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl, layer the salad, spinach, chicken, and the remaining ingredients.

Serve as is, with dressings on the side, or drizzle Italian dressing over the salad before serving.

Betty’s Curried Chicken for 2

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • Curry powder to taste
  • 1–2 T Flour
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chicken stock, unsalted
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish with parsley and chutney

Instructions

In a small sauté pan, soften garlic and onions in 1 T oil. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir. Reserve.

In a large bowl, dust the chicken with enough flour to coat.

In a large sauté pan, brown the chicken in 1 T oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sour cream, chicken stock, and curry sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice. Garnish with parsley and chutney.

By the way, I’ve made apple orchard chutney years ago which I think would be good on this. I need to dig out that recipe for next time. I used store bought chutney this time which was also tasty so you have options as to what kind of chutney you use.

Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. I’ve completed the final draft and sent it out for a second read by a few beta readers. Then I will polish the final, final draft based on their feedback before getting it ready to publish in a few months. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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A Look Back and Ahead #histfic #historical #paranormal #romance #supernatural #fiction #books #mustread #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. My mother, too. Mainly because I finally got around to sorting out what my dad kept in two footlockers. I found a lot of interesting papers and photos that I’ll need to deal with one way or another. I’m looking forward to what family history I’ll glean from several new sets of letters, for instance. But overall, the experience has me thinking about my own history and future.

To date, I have written and published 28 print books, and have 5 audiobooks in the works. One of those, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel novella to the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, is already available for your listening pleasure. I’m working on the third book in the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series, Desperate Reflections, which I plan to release later this spring. Bringing my total published fiction to 29. I don’t count my audiobooks as separate titles, but additional formats for those titles.

That count does not include my and my husband’s joint contribution of chapters in Macmillan’s series on how to use dBase V back in 1995. We had chapters in four different books. That was my only computer software book related writing/editing I’ve done, though I have worked as a technical writer/editor documenting how to use software for various companies as a freelancer. I also worked as a freelance technical writer/editor and then as a full-time employee of SAIC supporting the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for several years.

My dad was very proud of me when I achieved my goal of being a published book author with the release of the first edition of Hometown Heroines in 2001. He couldn’t even read the book, though, for the tears of joy he shed when he held the book in his hands. I had been published prior to that momentous event in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines multiple times. I even had my own column, The Sandwich Generation, where I shared stories about life with two kids and my elderly father living with me and my husband.

While I am not a blockbuster author, I am pleased with my backlist of stories to share with readers. The A More Perfect Union series was my first, and it’s set in one of my favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution and the occupation of the city by the British. The Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series is set in a fictional town that is based on the small town I lived near while I wrote it: Fayetteville, Tennessee. This series is my first series that includes witches and ghosts, and I had such fun writing it! There are two standalone historical fiction novels as well, Becoming Lady Washington and Notes of Love and War. Both of those released during the pandemic in 2020 (June and July, respectively) to great reviews. And now I’m working my way through the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series which is set near where I live now, Huntsville, Alabama, featuring a haunted roadside inn and its resident ghost and witches and magic. Getting to know the history of the state of Alabama has been a bonus as I’ve researched life here in 1821. You can read excerpts of each of my books at www.bettybolte.com/books.

What’s next? The first thing I’m going to do is finish the Fury Falls Inn series, which entails writing three more stories to finish the family’s tale. I’ve been pondering putting my colonial adapted recipes into a cookbook. I’ve considered writing a book on writing based on all that I’ve learned over the years. I want to finish writing Dolley Madison’s story, too. A Civil War Christmas story is on the back burner but may be moved up later this year. Then there’s an American Revolution trilogy I’ve been thinking of spinning off from the AMPU series. What do you think I should do after I finish the FFI series next year? Suggestions? Requests?

But one thing I do know for certain. I need to finish going through and cataloguing my dad’s papers and photos and deciding which are of historical value and worthy of donation to a museum. Which should be preserved in albums for future generations of my family. What family history needs to be saved into the family tree I started decades ago and need to update. I have far more projects than time!

My priority, though, is writing the best story I can for my readers. I thank you for reading! Now I need to get to work…

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.

In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal…

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser–a former beau–promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer–the only man she’s ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family’s reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

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Fury Falls Inn vs. the Willard Hotel Which is finer? #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

While writing the third book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Desperate Reflections, which is coming out later this spring, I needed a fine, high class hotel in the Washington, D.C. area for my main character to compare to the haunted inn in my series. (Note: the inn does not fare well in this comparison.) As usual, I searched my memories for any possibilities and came up with the Willard Hotel.

The Willard Hotel in 1902. Photo: Library of Congress

Why the Willard? Well, I know it’s old because my parents honeymooned there after their wedding in 1948. It’s still in operation today. In fact, my brother-in-law met his wife while working there as an accountant a couple of decades ago. So there are two links to this hotel in my mind. Not only did family stay and work there, but it’s also now one of the finest hotels and is even listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. But how old is it?

Great! A research question! Turns out there has been a hotel of one kind or another at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW since 1816. A Colonel John Tayloe III built six buildings which he then leased out to Joshua Tennison, who called his new lodgings the Tennison’s Hotel. After several name changes and operators over the next few decades, it was finally purchased by Henry Willard and named the Willard Hotel in 1847.

Given that this series is set in 1821 north Alabama, I used the reference to Tennison’s Hotel in what they called the Territory of Columbia (until 1847) as the finer hotel than the inn could ever become. Especially from Abram Fairhope’s elevated and elitist sensibilities.

If you get a chance, you might want to swing by the Willard someday just to see how beautiful a building it is. And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Giles Fairhope reluctantly journeys to the Fury Falls Inn for one reason: his beloved sister Cassie needs him after their mother was murdered. His father and three brothers are far away, so she’s alone, without any family, in the wilderness of 1821 northern Alabama. He plans to find his mother’s killers, ensure Cassie’s safety, and then go home. Cassie begs him to stay until their father returns, but Giles has absolutely no desire to see him. When Cassie tells him their mother’s ghost haunts the inn, he suddenly faces his dead mother amidst shocking memories from his past and unexpected changes in himself.

His mother’s ghost insists he find not only the killers but a stolen set of keys. Keys which unlock more than an attic door but also surprising and dangerous family secrets. The revelations change everything he thought he knew about his family and threaten his sister’s safety and perhaps even her life…

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Inspiration for Christmas Meet Cute in #NotesofLoveandWar #WWII #HistFic #Historical #Fiction #ReadIndie

This time of year has me thinking more about my parents than usual. Of course, this year has made many of us nostalgic for happier times in the past. Or longing for happier times next year. Or both! One big reason for why they come to mind around Christmas is because they were married the day after at Mom’s church in Maryland. Dad moved from Miami, Florida, to marry his sweetheart, which is similar to what Charlie does in Notes of Love and War. That is one of the inspirations from my parents’ love story that found its way into my historical fiction.

Another inspiration for my story is how my parents met in real life. Dad was stationed at Ft. Meade, Maryland, during World War Two. Mom lived with her parents outside of Baltimore. The pastor of her church encouraged the parishioners to invite single soldiers to their home for Christmas dinner. I believe my mother’s friend’s family invited several soldiers and her friend invited Mom to attend to fill out the table with an equal number of men and women. So Mom went and she met my dad. They became pen pals, nothing more, because Mom was seeing another guy who intended to be a lawyer. It was a large group Christmas dinner party, of some kind. I never got a lot of details out of either of them as to what all happened. In Notes of Love and War, I have Charlie attend a full-blown Christmas party at Audrey’s co-workers’ home. Here’s a short snippet to give you a feel for how I imagined them meeting for the first time. Audrey is trying to fend off the unwanted attentions of another man while a certain handsome soldier is making his way toward her…

Audrey glanced at her egg nog and suppressed a sigh. She did enjoy the holiday creation. But the sacrifice would be worthwhile. She met the man’s gaze and opened her mouth to say she had to leave the party, when he suddenly lifted one hand and waved at someone behind her, upending her cup onto the floor with a crash. She jumped back a few steps, egg nog oozing among the fractured glass across the hardwood floor.

“Rather clumsy of you, miss.” He frowned at her but made no move to help. “Here I thought you were a lady. My mistake.” He tapped two fingers to his brow and then walked away, slowly shaking his head.

“That was quite rude.” Gloria huffed at his disrespect and then turned to Audrey. “Keep others from walking in it and I’ll run and find a towel to clean this mess up. Be right back.”

Flustered and embarrassed, Audrey guarded the area as best she could. The rude man had created the incident and left her facing the others as if it were all her fault. Annoyance bubbled inside as she tried to hide her discomfiture with a smile. One she feared didn’t quite meet the need. If only the floor would open and swallow her, then she wouldn’t feel spotlighted. Especially as the handsome soldier brushed past the last couple of partygoers separating him from where she waited for Gloria’s return.

When he stopped, he offered his hand to her. “Major Charles Powers, ma’am. But my friends all call me Charlie.”

“Audrey Harper.” She clasped his hand to shake once, startled by the unexpected sizzle arcing up her arm, and then released his fingers. “Watch your step, Charlie.”

”Did the fellow at least apologize for spilling your drink?”

Audrey made a moue. “Blamed me for his clumsiness. I suppose he’s had a bad day.”

Charlie studied her and then glanced at the man in question. “You’re far too kind in his regard. I dare say he doesn’t deserve your sympathy.”

Gloria arrived with a flowered towel over her arm and a dust pan and small whisk broom in her hands. “Hold this for a minute, will you?” She offered her arm holding the towel to Audrey and then squatted to sweep the glass shards into the dust pan.

Audrey gazed at him over Gloria’s back and shrugged. “Consider it a holiday gift to him. Tis the season, right?”

Like I said, I don’t really know what occurred at the dinner party where my parents met or how they reacted to each other. Knowing my dad, though, he probably thought her very fine and wanted to keep in touch any way possible. They wrote to each other for a while until she became engaged to the other man. Then Dad stopped the correspondence, and Mom apparently got rid of Dad’s letters since she was going to marry someone else. She mentioned in a later letter that she hadn’t kept all of his, at least. But Dad had kept Mom’s! Only “something” the lawyer’s mother had done broke up the engagement. Again, I have no clues as to what that might have been, but it was fuel for my imagination!

After some time passed, Dad wrote to Mom again to see how she was doing. She told him about the broken engagement and their correspondence blossomed again. If it wasn’t for the wealth of correspondence between them, I wouldn’t know as much about them today as I do. I’ve had many long conversations with both of them, but they were in their early 40s when I was born. By the time we’d be talking about their courtship and such they were in their 60s. Their view of their youth and their early years together most likely morphed with age and different perspectives.

I used my parents’ concerns and activities and in some cases lingo to give Notes of Love and War authenticity even though the story is purely fiction. I found myself pondering what choices and decisions she would have been faced with when expecting to move from Baltimore to Miami after they married. That’s what I explored while writing Audrey’s story, knowing the final outcome for my own mother. It really was an interesting way to try to get to know my parents better, trying to be on the inside of their relationship however imperfectly. I hope you enjoy the story! If you’d like to sample before you buy, you can read the first 3 chapters here.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Betty

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

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

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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