Juggling Personal and Professional Obligations #WritersLife #moving #familyfirst

I know I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. It’s a comfortable place where I can relax and focus on what I need to do without having to dress up and drive to an office. Only when we’re moving, it becomes difficult to concentrate on my writing and the business side of publishing books. See, we sold our farm last week and so started the paperwork to buy the new house we hope to move to the middle of April. We had not planned to move so soon, though. After we put the farm on the market, I pushed through finishing writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) by the first week in March so that I can stay on track to release it in May. I will send it off on Tuesday to my editor to help me polish it.

Then my focus almost entirely will shift to sorting and discarding, donating, or packing. In addition to our upcoming move from a farm into a neighborhood near my father-in-law’s retirement community, we also have to clear out his assisted living apartment. He’s needing more care now, so will move into skilled care. Thus his other apartment needs to be vacated for another resident. So two moves over the next one month. And all the decisions and disruptions that comes with making such moves.

I’m grateful to have my book nearly done so I’ll keep on track, but I also rather long for the escape of slipping into the story world for a few hours. Ignoring all of those decisions for a little while.

IMG_2173Another task that has taken priority is putting together the raffle baskets and my author basket for the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3. I’ll hand them over to the ladies in charge of the baskets so they don’t get damaged or worse lost during this transition. Which means gathering the goodies to put in them. I’m waiting for a few more things to fill them out and then can check off that task from my to-do list.

Easter Sunday falls between when we expect to close on the new house and when we close on selling our farm, so I’m not sure if we’ll gather for the holiday, or if we do which house it will be in. Another decision looming!

I may or may not have time during the month of April to write my weekly Monday post, but I will try. I enjoy touching base with my readers. Tasty Tuesday posts will continue as those are provided by some of my authors friends for your enjoyment. Starting in May, I’ll be sharing some historical recipes adapted to modern tastes, cooking techniques, and healthy eating options. More on that to come later.

For now, it’s only one more week until Haunted Melody releases on March 28. Have you ordered your copy yet? Links are below for your convenience.

Now I’m off to figure out what to do with all the stuff in my china hutch. Talk to you later!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Getting to know V-Mail #writerslife #research #WWII #letter #writing #familymatters

img_2120I have begun transcribing my dad’s V-Mail letters, which is very interesting. I talked about the mass of correspondence I’ve begun sorting and working my way through here. I decided to start with the V-Mail because I’m curious about what my grandmother and other wrote to my dad while he was in the U.S. Army during WWII. I think there must be at least 100 of the letters that my dad punched holes in and bound together with a metal clasp. The clasp left some rust marks on them, unfortunately, but they are still legible. Even after 70+ years.

As I’ve deciphered and typed the contents, I wondered about how the Victory Mail system worked. What did the original look like? How did each letter get transformed into a picture? So to the internet I went!

The history of this efficient and inventive system proved fascinating. The U.S. Postal Service created a standardized form that served as both letter and envelope. The letter writer filled in the To and From address within designated sections on the form, and then wrote a short letter within a specific box. You can see an example of a blank form here. Then the letter writer would fold and seal the paper and write the address again on the outside of the paper, or the envelope. Then affix 3 cents postage and pop it into the mail.

V-Mail was routed to specific stations in the United States where a new machine would convert the paper letter into a microfilm image. Based on the British Airgraph system, Kodak invented the Recordak machine that would take a picture of each standardized letter and save it on a synchronized 16 mm movie film. The rolls of film were then put into a mail sack and transported by the military planes to their destinations, where they were “blown up” to their original size as pictures and sent to the recipient. You can find out more about the entire system at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum site. If you visit New Orleans, Louisiana, you can also stop in at the National WWII Museum to see an exhibit about the war and V-Mail. The Museum is a great place to learn about life at home as well as the fighting.

img_2121The contents of the letters I’ve transcribed so far, which includes only 4 of the approximately 100+ V-Mail, are filled with what my grandmother was doing, what my dad’s siblings were doing, what she got for Mother’s Day, what she made for dinner, etc. Everyday happenings that gave my dad a sense of what life at home was like while he was away. As I read up on the need and use for V-Mail, I realized my grandmother was basically following the guidance from the War Department and the Postal Service regarding keeping the soldiers’ morale up by maintaining close connections to home and family. By giving the men a nuanced reminder of what they were fighting to protect. Home and hearth and all the people in our country and allies’ countries.

Grandmother often told Dad how much she loved him (“My dearest Murray”), how she looked for letters from him and worried when she didn’t hear from him, and often closed with “Be sweet”. She also frequently told him she’d send an “air mail” soon. I found the terminology interesting as well. She didn’t say she’d send a letter, but an “air mail” which cost twice as much as the V-Mail, at 6 cents postage. So, just like we send an “email” she sent V-Mail and air mail (two words back then).

img_2119See, for me, it’s not just the words on the page that is of interest, but also the methodology of how the overall mail system worked during war time, the innovations that enabled that system, and how people used them. One interesting side note, is that enclosures were not allowed at first. But then they did permit a picture of a baby under one year old or that was born after the father had gone back to his unit. Morale was all important during those terrible, trying years.

I’m sure our men and women in uniform today are ever grateful for email and cell phones that enable them to communicate much more readily than via the mail. But I’m so grateful to have this historic record to delve into, something that future and present historians don’t have access to with email and phone calls. Trade-offs always exist as technology morphs and improves.

I’m really looking forward to discovering what new information to me all the hundreds of letters contain. I should be entertained for quite some time.

One more thing. Three of the four books in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series are discounted through the end of January at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Amy’s Choice is only 99 cents, Samantha’s Secret is $1.99, and Evelyn’s Promise is $2.99. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now is a good time to do so.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! Happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Unveiling My Family History One Letter at a Time #writerslife #research #family #history

 

rms-letters-2016
Letters to/from my father spanning 1940-1950

How well do you know your parents’ family history? My father lived with me and my hubby and children for 17 years before he moved into assisted living. That gave me plenty of time to hear his tales of growing up, of surviving bombings during World War II, and more. I’m fortunate to have inherited my father’s correspondence after he died in 2011. This year I’ve decided to transcribe all of his letters for posterity, which means reading each and every letter and typing what they say, along with the notations on the envelopes and postmark information. As I’ve started perusing a few of them, I’m amazed at how much is written on the exterior of what I’ve read to date. I’m also anxious to get to the letters to and from my parents during their courtship. What new insights will I gain from those love letters?

 

First, there are other aspects of the correspondence to ponder. Consider the postmarks for example. They vary somewhat by city and state as to what they contain. Some have the day of the week including the date. Others do not. The earliest letters start in 1940 and the postmark doesn’t include a zip code. Curious, I had to find out when the U.S. postal service began using them. Turns out it wasn’t until after I was born! Not until 1963 did they begin to appear and even then not uniformly. Click here for more information if you’re curious like I was.

Another curiosity regarding the envelopes was the stamps. Or more specifically the missing stamps on many of the letters, though not all. I figured my dad must have cut them out, but why? I didn’t recall him collecting stamps. Maybe he tried to reuse them? Or gave them to someone else? While I was pondering this mystery, I happened to have a phone conversation with my oldest sister. I mentioned the missing stamps and she fessed up. Apparently Dad had given her permission to cut out the stamps she wanted for her collection! So that little mystery was solved quickly. The stamps themselves are also interesting, especially the price. It cost 1 cent to mail a “postal” or small postcard (left), and only 3 cents to mail a letter (right) in 1940 and 1941. And yet, the lady writing to my dad had to borrow a stamp from a friend in order to mail her letters because she didn’t have the money to buy one herself.

The stationary used is also varied and revealing at the same time. Lined note paper, folded pages written on like a booklet, letterhead from the nursing school where one of my dad’s girlfriends, or rather fiancée, attended (before he met my mother). Often the pages are numbered which was a necessity since the contents didn’t necessarily flow left to right as we’re accustomed today. The first letters are all handwritten, but some of the letters from my dad to his mother are typed on a typewriter while he was in the U.S. Army during World War II.

rms-letters-sorted-nov-2016

I’ve sorted the letters by year, except for the biggest collection which all were written the year my parents married in 1948, the two tall stacks in the back center of the above picture. Sometimes two letters a day from/to each of them! Those are sorted by month since my rubber bands had limits as to how far they’d stretch.

I wonder what I’ll learn about their courtship, about my family history, and about their plans and hopes for the future after their marriage. Obviously, this is a long-term project which will keep me occupied for months to come as I won’t be able to work on it every day. After all, I have books to write and research to do, trips to take and other family obligations. But my curiosity is truly piqued!

I may share some of my dad’s letters written during the war if they appear interesting. I imagine family doings would not be of interest, but his descriptions of where he was stationed and what happened on Guadalcanal would have more potential I think. We shall see as I go through them over the upcoming year.

Wish me luck! Tell me if you ever wonder about your parents’ courtship and how they met, etc. How much do you know about them?

I’m off to start typing!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Tomorrow is the official release of Undying Love! I am happy to share Meredith and Max’s story with you. Happy reading!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Planning for Success in 2017 #WritersLife #amwriting #amreading #romance #history #fiction

Happy New Year! I know you’ve heard that a lot over the last few days, but I truly hope 2014-11-12-13-41-282017 proves to be both happy and prosperous for each of you. Of course, how you define happiness and prosperity will vary based on your goals and desires.

As I look forward to the upcoming year, I am planning for success on several fronts. First, I’ll release 4 books this year. That’s one kind of success as an author. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Undying Love releases in just a few days on January 10. I plan to release two more books in the Secrets of Roseville series, Haunted Melody in March, and The Touchstone of Raven Hollow in June. Then in December I’ll release the prequel novella for my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, Elizabeth’s Hope. I’m taking a page out of Charles Dickens’ publishing plan by serializing the novella to my newsletter subscribers throughout 2017, one chapter each month, leading up to the release of the entire book for sale in December.

Second, I’ve planned to attend several book signings where I hope to meet my readers in person. June will find me in Huntsville, Alabama, and Portland, Oregon. July I’ll travel to Orlando, Florida, and then in October I’ll head to Portland, Maine. Details of where and when can be found on my website. See, I write stories to share them with others and enjoy chatting with those of you who enjoy reading them. So if you can make it to any of the signings or luncheons that would be such fun!

successThird, I posted last year about my business plan and I intend to work to the plan as closely as possible in order to achieve my intended goals for the upcoming years. Doing so is another kind of success to my mind. However, I also realize that plans must shift at times, so I’ve built into my plan optional routes to reach the desired destination. I’ve learned to be flexible in my planning to avoid unnecessary stress and to stay on track to my ultimate goal.

Fourth, I’ll continue to read across several genres and nonfiction books in order to keep the writing well fresh and deep. Books will include research for my historicals as well as reading for fun. I intend to average one book a week this year, depending on the length of the books I choose. I know I want to finish reading the Outlander series, for example, and those books are on the longer side.

Finally, this year my loving hubby and I will begin the downsizing process by putting our 22-acre farm up for sale and looking for a house in a neighborhood closer to where he works and to where his father lives. I’ll miss our sanctuary in the country but am looking forward to a new home with more conveniences. The unknowns associated with moving always provide new opportunities as well as new challenges, so this year should be interesting if nothing else. Success on this front will be defined by finding a house with a view and an office for me. Right now I write in my family room which has worked but I’m craving some desk space to spread out on and walls to hang a write-on calendar and a bulletin board for plotting books. Or at least to hang inspiring pictures and any awards I might win over the years. I’m thinking positive!

What are you looking forward to this year? Do you have any big plans or changes ahead?

Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

News! Books 2-4 of the A More Perfect Union historical romance series set in Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution are on sale through the end of January. Now is a great time to catch up on the fight for independence in Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise.

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Amy's ChoiceAmy’s Choice

When Amy Abernathy’s childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence without a word of goodbye, Amy picks up the pieces of her heart and chooses independence. When Benjamin returns unexpectedly, Amy flees to the country to help her pregnant sister and protect her heart.

Benjamin Hanson knows he hurt Amy, but he also knows he can make it up to her after he completes his mission. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he’s never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from the vengeful British occupation.

SamanthsSecretCOVERSamantha’s Secret

Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Town under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.

Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.

Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.

Evelyn's PromiseEvelyn’s Promise

Determined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.

Crafting Christmas Letters #writerslife #holidaycheer #amwriting

 

2012-xmas-tree
Our tree in 2012. We used to cut our own when the kids lived at home.

It’s only a few days until Christmas and I’m so excited! After all the years I’ve celebrated, the anticipation of watching my family and friends receive their gifts still brings joy to my heart. One of the many annual tasks to prepare for the holidays is writing the letter to accompany our Christmas cards. It’s mainly been my task, since I’m the writer in the house, for the nearly thirty years I’ve been married to my loving hubby. He does the lights, after all, so I can handle perusing our year’s highlights and challenges and choosing which to share and which to skip or summarize. Then he’ll add his two cents and off it goes!

 

Some years are easier than others to write. My goal is to make it informative without being depressing (everybody has issues we must work through, right?) and yet not overly Pollyanna either. In fact, one friend wrote to us that after reading our letters over the years, when he’s faced with a challenge of his own he wonders to himself “what would Chris do?” to resolve the issue. Yep, we’ve most definitely faced our fair share of troubles and problems, but I always look for the positive outcome. Thus my desire to not sugarcoat the letter.

Not everyone receives the letter, either. I have to go through the list and decide who would want to know about our year, both accomplishments and adventures. I can only hope that I make the choice correctly since I don’t want to bother friends with our family and personal insights.

I thought I’d share a few lines from past years to see what you all think of them. To show the kinds of details I include in order to reach out and connect with family and certain close friends.

From 2012:

After a 4-day writers’ conference in Atlanta that Betty attended in early October, we left to journey back to Massanutten on October 12, taking a roundabout way through Athens, GA, to visit [our daughter], then across South Carolina, stopping at The Cowpens Battlefield and Brattonsville, both American Revolution historic sites for Betty’s research. We were excited to welcome Betty’s lifetime best friend and her husband to visit with us at Massanutten for a night there.

The day after we came home, the second edition of Hometown Heroines, with a new cover and subtitle (True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure), was released as an ebook. As we write this, the paperback version is days away from being available as well.

From 2013:

Meanwhile, September brought more doctor appointments and diagnostic tests for [my father-in-law] as he continued to feel worse over the summer. Finally it was decided he should have heart valve repair surgery, which they did robotically in Birmingham the end of October after we got home from Massanutten. We stayed at the hospital’s guest suites while he had surgery and during his longer than expected recovery: two weeks instead of the expected one week. He is recovering, after a couple setbacks and adjustments.

While we were “on the road” for three weeks, [our son] stayed at the house and took care of the animals and plants, brought in the mail and the newspaper, and ate our food <grin>. We had to make a couple of trips home to get clean clothes and more books to read, but we felt it necessary to remain with Phil and advocate for his welfare as long as he was admitted.

From 2014:

Holiday greetings to you and yours! As the year winds down, we hope you’ll take some time to reflect on the joys and positive moments you’ve enjoyed since last Christmas. Our year has been filled with beginnings and setbacks, but through it all we’ve been healthy & safe.

Our first setback occurred just before last Christmas when Chris’s dad had a stroke. He was in the hospital for 9 days before being released to skilled care. Chris has been very busy this year, juggling his job, a myriad of chores and tasks around the house, and caring for [hid dad]. Some of the burden around the house stemmed from a water pipe bursting in the pool house in January that we didn’t notice for 2 days, which meant totally redoing the interior of the building. New wallboard, molding, flooring, and heating system had to be put in, but Chris had to oversee what the contractors were doing. Thankfully, the home owners insurance covered most of the cost.

From 2015:

Betty continues to research and write historical fiction stories, both women’s fiction and romances. She signed with a literary agent in January, which will hopefully facilitate the sale and publication of many books to come. The 3rd book in the A More Perfect Union series and her 5th novel, Samantha’s Secret, released in April. The 4th and last book in the series, Evelyn’s Promise, will release in February 2016. The children’s Literary Classics organization presented Betty with a gold medal for best gender specific young adult book for Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure in Las Vegas in October in conjunction with the Vegas Valley Book Festival. What a great and humbling experience, too.

Just a few snippets to share as this year winds down. I hope you have a very happy holiday season and enjoy time with family and friends, or doing what brings joy into your heart. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Remember to grab your copy of my next release while it’s only $1.99! Only a few more weeks until it releases on January 10 and then the price will go up to $3.99.

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Between the Lines: Stumbling Upon the Unexpected #research #history #amwriting #histfic

 

250px-SpesutieIslandMD.jpg
Spesutie Island, Maryland Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Sometimes I stumble upon information that surprises me when I’m researching an entirely different subject or trying to track down the answer to a question related to my stories. One of the most recent examples of this kind of Easter egg in my research is “discovering” Spesutie Island in Maryland.

 

Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad. I grew up in Maryland and had never heard of it! My father-in-law had never heard of it and he had been stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds which now incorporates the island within its boundaries.

5734dfd78d4fd.image.jpg
Cecil Daily, courtesy of NSHSA

 

How did I stumble on this? I was trying to figure out what kind of house a ball in the 1800s would have been held in and who would have attended it. What did the island look like at that time? I wanted to be able to describe how a lady would travel to the house where the dance was held, so knowing the possible travel options was necessary. I was fortunate to find this article that included a map of the island. I was amazed to learn of the history of the island and then wondered why I had never heard of it. With its significance during the War of 1812 it should have been mentioned at least during history classes. But I do not recall ever hearing the name. I suppose, though, that much of the specifics of any location’s past are glossed over unless you do dig into them.

That’s one reason I like to visit historic sites and homes because of the details shared in those places that you do not find online or in books. Letters and journals of the people who lived in them, or visited them, include enlightening experiences and perspectives so the people who have access to the primary sources are a wealth of information.

What about you? Have you ever stumbled upon new to you places in your hometown?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Remember to grab your copy of my next release while it’s only $1.99!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

On Being Flexible and Caring #WritersLife #FamilyFirst #amwriting #books #romance #histfic

There’s a saying that humans make plans and God laughs. He is probably in hysterics then, if that’s the case. I always make plans, but I know that they are subject to change with little or no notice. But having made the plan, I know where to adjust. To be flexible and adaptable. That’s the key for me.

business-planI’m very fortunate to have the kind of career that allows me to work wherever I am. (There are also drawbacks but that’s a different story…) I’ve posted before about creating my business plan to have an idea of when things need to be done. I’ve been working to that plan for several months and am on track to meet my goals.

But when my brother’s wife suffered a life-threatening situation that landed her in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, I knew it was a matter of time before I made a trip back to Maryland. To be there to bolster my brother’s morale and do what I could to help them during this crisis. Automatically, I started contemplating whether I could flex my plans to accommodate a possible trip. I determined I could but kept to my plan until I knew for certain.

“Suddenly” then on the Saturday evening after Thanksgiving, I found myself packing for the 800+ mile one-way drive to my home state. Naturally, my laptop and manuscript I’m working on were added to the pile of clothes and books I took with me. I planned to arrive on Monday, stay a couple of days, then be home by Thursday. I contacted my dearest friend to see if I could stay with her and her family while in town, but their schedule was too crammed. So I made a reservation to stay at a hotel instead. Having my own space would allow me to work when not needed by my brother, too.

I arrived at my brother’s late Monday afternoon and dragged him out to dinner that evening. Where he could tell me what was going on. He didn’t know much except how worried he was about his wife’s condition and the uncertainty of her and their future together. She is his third wife; the second died from breast cancer so he was even more concerned.

We made plans to meet up in the morning and go see my sister-in-law. I wondered if his confusion was warranted due to lack of communication or if he wasn’t understanding the technical aspects of the treatment plan. But the situation was far more unsettled and unclear than I had anticipated. One thing I’m good at is asking questions and getting things done as a result. I quickly discovered they didn’t know what the nurses/doctors were actually doing to treat her condition, nor did they know what the treatment plan was. Before too long, we had answers to those questions. Trust me on that!

That’s when I found out a delicate, “difficult” procedure was planned to fix the “huge” hemorrhage caused by a brain aneurysm for Thursday afternoon. Which ended up being scheduled for 6 p.m. (really? that late?) and would last about 3 hours. Well, I couldn’t leave on Wednesday knowing that my brother would be waiting, alone, for hours while his wife had this surgery. So I extended my stay. Thankfully, my friend’s schedule allowed for me to stay with them, which was a nice bonus for making the trip.

working-at-dennys-westminster-2016Wednesday, after visiting my sister-in-law for several hours and dropping my brother off at his apartment, I snuck away from everyone for a couple hours at the Denny’s in Westminster. Amidst the chatter of the waitstaff and the few other mid-afternoon customers, I worked on the final revisions to Haunted Melody which will release next year. I kept my phone handy in case my brother should need me but focused on the story’s characters and interactions. Once my friend’s errands had been completed, I went to her house for the evening.

working-at-westminster-ag-center-2016On Thursday, I didn’t need to pick my brother up until 2 p.m., and my friend had errands to run, so I spent a couple hours at the local public library working and then after I had a quick stop at Subway for my lunch, stopped at the Ag Center to work for about 45 minutes before I needed to drive down to get my brother and go spend the rest of the day at the hospital. (I also slipped in a stop at Hoffman’s Ice Cream for a crave-worthy homemade raspberry scoop! Yum!)

Unfortunately, the procedure that evening did not happen – I feel for the patient who had complications requiring the surgeon’s continued attention. They were going to reschedule but there was no way to know when so late in the evening (it was 9 p.m. when we found out) on a Thursday. If they didn’t do it the next day, it would be the following week most likely. I couldn’t stay that long. So I reluctantly decided to head home the next day. But my brother kept me posted as to when she went into surgery at about 6 p.m. Friday evening and on Saturday morning called to tell me that everything went well even though she was in surgery for 6 hours instead of 3-4 hours.

While I was only able to stay four days with my brother, I feel like I did help him through the toughest part when she had been in the hospital for a week and had no clue as to how long she’d stay and what was going on. From my perspective, it made me feel good to be able to be there for my brother and his wife. To demonstrate through my actions, not just my words, that I love and care about them.

Family first is the motto that I live by and is a characteristic that I instill in my characters as well. Our ties to family are important. It saddens me that I have very tenuous ties to my eldest brother, but his service in Viet Nam really changed him in ways I don’t really understand. I rarely “speak” to him but at least I know he’s alive. (Thank goodness for Facebook messages!) I’m grateful to have contact with my two sisters and of course my other brother. As well as my hubby’s family and my cousins (I got to see one of them on my way home for a few minutes). Knowing where we come from is why I’m a genealogy fan, too. And why I did the research and paperwork necessary to become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

Now it’s your turn. How do you stay in touch with your family? Is there someone you wish you could be more in contact with than you are now?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

By the way, Emily’s Vow is currently on 99 pennies for the ebook. Now’s your chance to get your copy at a discount it if you haven’t already!

Emily's Vow Finalist SealEmily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Despite her half-hearted protests, her father insists Frank Thomson is the perfect man for both her protection from the vengeful British and as a husband. Frank always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns Emily’s been imprisoned for her father’s privateering, he risks his own neck to free his love.

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Metamorphosis of Undying Love #writerslife #amwriting #fiction #books

undying_love_600x900Undying Love has been a real work in progress for me for several years. The story underwent several iterations before the one that will release in January. Curious as to how it morphed into a great paranormal romance? Here’s the skinny.

Back in 2007, I was taking a tech writing class as part of the requirements for earning a Master of Arts in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I was bored, having been a tech editor/writer for at least fifteen years. When the professor said we had to research and write a paper on a technical topic I groaned inwardly. The only thing I wanted to research and write was a story I had in my head. A ghost story with a romance. So after class, I went to my advisor and talked to him about writing a thesis instead of taking the tech writing course. He helped me find a thesis advisor.

My thesis advisor, it turned out, was willing to consider a unique approach. Specifically, we discussed the novel idea (pun intended) of me researching the tropes and devices employed by two supernatural authors, Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James, and then incorporate them into the first few chapters of the story to demonstrate how to allude to them. Talk about excited! The university had never had a thesis based on fictional techniques before. I set to work, reading all of Poe and James in the process. Noting their devices and determining which of them to incorporate into my story, which I decided to call Traces. By the way, a “trace” is another name for a ghost, but it also referred to memorabilia and photographs as traces of a person’s history.

Now, the thesis version of Traces was the story of an army wife with her two children living in Huntsville, Alabama, while her husband is deployed. They’re living in an old house which proves to be haunted. I created a list of the elements I used and where they came from, for my memory’s sake and for the thesis reader’s information:

Allusion Concordance

Character or Element Title of Work / Author
Camille, character Poe
James, character Named after Henry James
Black kitten “The Black Cat” – Poe
A word signifies the entity but is not the entity itself Poe’s philosophy as stated in Uncanny American Fiction
Name of kitten, Jupiter “The Gold-Bug” – Poe
Mahogany doors and silver-plated doorknobs “The Jolly Corner” – James
“Hants” The Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore
Sherry (Amontillado) “The Cask of Amontillado” – Poe

 

The thesis ended up being half analysis of James and Poe and half the first three chapters of my story. My advisor’s comment, however, gave me pause when he said I was “brave to start with such a quiet opening.” Can you hear the death knell ringing?

So, I went back to the story and looked at it again, looking for ways to not have a quiet beginning. I pondered and rejected and reconsidered for weeks. Then I saw on the news the horrific shooting in a Colorado movie theater when the movie Dark Knight released. One of the survivor’s stories inspired a major change to my story. A young woman had been saved by her fiancé blocking the shooter from shooting her, but her future husband died in the act of shielding her. I wondered about how would you get through such a tragedy, the weight of survivor guilt? The loss of your future life with a man you loved?

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopThe second edition of Traces took place in a fictional haunted Tennessee plantation and features an architect, widowed and childless, who wants to bury her grief and anger by destroying the manor she inherited from her grandmother. That version was bought by Liquid Silver Books in 2014, my debut novel. I was finally, after 20+ years, published in novel-length fiction.

As the last couple of years have passed, sales of the story didn’t live up to my hopes. I came to realize that the title was the problem since everyone who read the story loved it and told me about it. With the advent of indie publishing, the power to do something about getting the story out to readers rested in my hands. When I received the rights back from the publisher, I decided to revise the story, change the title and cover, and release it again. This time, the architect, still a widow and childless, isn’t determined to destroy the manor at the outset, but is pushed into the idea by a handsome lawyer despite his aversion to the idea.

Undying Love is the last edition of this story (I’m not going to revise it again but move forward to other tales to tell), but the first in a new series, Secrets of Roseville. This paranormal romance series will include haunting, bewitching love stories with ghosts and witches and other supernatural beings. I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts and spells, of hauntings and unexplained happenings. I’ve had some of my own during my life which may or may not find their way into the upcoming series. Only time and characters whispering in my ear will tell…

Undying Love releases January 10, 2017, but is available now for pre-order. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at how it came to be, and also enjoy reading the story when it releases. That’s always my goal, to write the best tale I can to share with others for their enjoyment.

For my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful to all of you who read my stories and I really enjoy hearing from you. And as always, thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers before it releases in December 2017. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

 

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

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Why I Wrote Emily’s Vow (only 99 cents for a limited time) #writerslife #American #historical #romance #kindle #nook

Emily's Vow Finalist SealToday I’m going to talk about the kernel of information that sparked an entire series of books. First, you should know that Emily’s Vow is only $.99 for the Kindle and Nook books! But it’s only for a limited time, through November 18, so grab your copy now so you can sample the series for yourself. Also, I’m one of more than 100 romance authors who are throwing a Romance Writers Gone Wild Facebook party this week. Hop over there to find some new reads and new authors. There will be excerpts, snippets, and giveaways galore! Now on to today’s topic…

Story ideas come from all directions and experiences. They mix and blend into a “what if” kind of thought that then slowly builds into an interesting story to tell. That’s how the idea for the A More Perfect Union series started. Then I had to get to know the ladies and their goals and challenges they had to face and overcome.

Emily’s story is one that loosely mimics the career of an 18th century female writer Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820). Born in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Judith was fortunate to have highly intelligent and progressive parents who allowed her to be taught alongside her brother by the local clergyman. She learned college prep topics such as Latin, Greek, and mathematics.

This background enabled Judith to argue effectively for the equal education of boys and girls and to advocate for “cultivating independent, intellectually alert women” in her essays and other works. Judith is best known for her compilation of her works, The Gleaner. It’s important to note that she used a pen name, Constantia, to write her essays, plays, and poems, until the release of this book. At the end of the book, she revealed she was a woman, saying she did so to hide her gender because “she feared that if she were known to be a woman, her writing would not be taken seriously.” (1) That last line prompted the idea of women of the late 1700s writing and beginning to turn the tide of opinion. Thus Emily Sullivan was born.

Emily starts out writing her thoughts down as essays in rebellion to the restrictions her father places on her. Her own declaration of independence, but she submits them to the newspaper secretly and using a pen name. Then as the series progresses and the situation becomes more and more unsettled, she ultimately openly submits the essays for printing though continues to use her pen name. I gave her a female pen name, by the way, on purpose so that she would in fact begin to change the way people thought about female intellect and reasoning. However, it was considered disrespectful to use a lady’s name in print, which is why in that time period you rarely see a woman’s name, and then usually only the lower classes. Which is frustrating for someone like me today who is researching for a story about a lady of that time period, but that’s another story.

I wrote Emily’s story to highlight the limitations placed upon females in the colonial and Early American Republic period of American history. The Declaration of Independence prompted everyone to rethink what it meant to be free from dictators and oppression. The American Revolution started, for many people, the push toward equality that America is still struggling with. That is why I write about that time and place, because of its catalyst to change.

What changes happened as a result of women sharing their thoughts in writing? What else needs to change?

(1) Quotes taken from The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume A, Literature to 1820. Sixth Edition. W.W. Norton & Co., New York. 2003. pp782-3.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Rediscovering a piece of my own past #writerslife #amwriting #fiction

The mystery of my cedar chest has been solved. I’ve been pondering for months what exactly was in the chest sitting at the foot of my bed. See, I tend to put things in there that I don’t use very often with the intent that the cedar wood will help preserve the items, especially from moths and bugs. So last weekend I lifted the lid.

 

betty-w-teddy-bear
Me and my teddy in the 1960s

I found a lot of what I expected to find. Several crocheted afghans, including the infamous baby blanket that I worked and reworked and reworked when I was expecting our first child. For some reason, I kept dropping stitches so that it narrowed the longer I worked on it. Sigh. So I’d rip it out to the point of less width and try again.

 

There were also some throw pillows and a huge silver platter that won’t fit in any of my cabinets. Some special cloths for wrapping silver plate to prevent corrosion/oxidation, but they had actually blackened with mold. So they got pitched and I cleaned up the bottom of the chest.

But most importantly I rediscovered my “teddy bear.”

I carried this stuffed animal everywhere with me. At least around the house. Probably in the car whenever we left home for other places. I just remember it was always with me. I loved my stuffed bear!

 

bettys-teddy-bear-2016
Still hug worthy today!

Overtime, naturally, it suffered from my little girl hands. Bits and pieces of its expression fell off or wore away. The little peas or beads in the ears to weight them down fell out because I rubbed them around until the fabric wore thin and tore. The many washes faded and softened the fur.

 

Then one day I realized as I grew older that it wasn’t a bear at all. My teddy is actually a long-eared dog! Who knew? <grin>

I laid my teddy bear back inside the cedar chest on top of all the afghans, so he has a nice soft bed to rest on. There is no way that I will ever give him up. He meant safety, security, comfort, and home.

What about you guys? Do you have a treasured childhood stuffed animal or other memory-laden item you hang onto for sentimental reasons?

Thanks for reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.