Why do we say “one lump, or two?” Sugar cones and nippers #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

If you’ve been following my blog over the last couple of years, then you know I love to cook. I also love to try new recipes and even spent several months in 2017 revamping colonial recipes to modern ingredients and cooking methods. One thing I’ve learned is that techniques as well as the packaging of ingredients has changed over time. Today’s topic, sugar cones, is one case in point.

You’ve heard the expression, “Would you like one lump or two?” when someone is serving tea. Nowadays, we most likely picture a cube of sugar, with neat flat sides. Have you ever wondered why those precisely formed little cubes would be called “lumps”? I mean, when I hear the word lump, that’s not the image that comes to my mind. Turns out, there’s a reason for that.

I came across the Old & Interesting site where Lel Gretton talks about “how people equipped their homes in previous centuries, and how they handled household tasks.” Turns out that granulated sugar wasn’t invented until the Victorian era. Prior to that, sugar was shipped in large cone-shaped loaves. Gretton talks more about the history and preparation of sugar on his site, if you’re interested in learning a little more.

What I was mostly interested in was how people would have broken down the solid cone into a usable portion. Customers could buy an entire loaf or a piece of one, but then they had to break it up to actually use the sweet stuff. To do so, they would need to break the sugar into chunks with chisel and hammer. Then they could use the nippers to break it into lumps the right size for their cuppa. Nippers could be handheld or on a stand, too.

Here’s a brief excerpt from The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn where Cassie is tasked by the cook, Sheridan, with the job of preparing the sugar:

“What do you need me to do?” She tied on an apron and hurried to the work table.

“Good morning to you, too.” Sheridan shook his head at her but maintained the wide grin.

Abashed, she shrugged once. “Good morning. Now, what can I do?”

With a chuckle, Sheridan pointed to lumps from a broken up cone of refined sugar in a metal bowl. A stack of small white porcelain bowls and a small steel sugar nipper waited beside it. “You can finish nipping the sugar into those bowls to set out on the tables.”

Mindless task but necessary. A task reserved for the mistress of the property because of needing to guard the expensive luxury of cone sugar. So where was her ma? Perhaps Cassie qualified as an adequate substitute having nearly reached eighteen years of age. Pleased by the thought whether right or wrong, she lifted the scissor-like tool and started nipping the large chunks broken off the large cone by a mallet into smaller lumps as asked. She worked silently, dying to ask about Flint but afraid of Sheridan’s answer. Feared her ma had poisoned the information well against her. Her ma likely warned Sheridan to discourage Cassie’s interest in Flint. She’d probably told everyone on the property. Which made Cassie reluctant to ask but anxious to know. After half filling a bowl—no need to tempt people to use more than necessary of the luxury—she set it aside and pulled the next one closer. Glanced at her friend and mentor and decided to take the chance.

“Sheridan, have you seen Flint this morning?” She kept her eyes on the sugar nippers instead of peering at the cook.

“He’s been in. Why?” He cracked an egg on the edge of the bowl and dropped the contents into the bowl.

“I thought I heard him come down earlier but didn’t see him.” She flashed a glance at Sheridan and then back to her task. “Just curious what he’s doing today.”

“Now, listen here.” Sheridan pressed his palms onto the wooden table to lean toward her as she lifted her gaze to meet his. “I told you before your father doesn’t want you getting involved with Flint Hamilton. Told him that, too.”

So there you have it. The reason why we call the cubes lumps. And a little bit more about how different and difficult life used to be.

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn is available for pre-order and will release on October 1. You can read a longer excerpt at www.bettybolte.com. I’ll be at Second Read Books in Decatur, AL, 11:00-2:00 CDT on October 5 to sign my new release, too. Come out and see me if you’re in the area. I’d love to meet you!

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Getting to know Patricia Sargeant #author #romance #mystery #weddings #secondchance #mustread #fiction

I’m pleased to introduce my next interview guinea pig guest, Patricia Sargeant. She’s an award-winning author of both romance and mysteries. Let’s find out more about her, shall we?

Patricia Sargeant is a national best-selling, award-winning author of romance and mysteries. Her work has been featured in national publications such as Publishers WeeklyUSA TodayKirkus ReviewsSuspense MagazineMystery Scene MagazineLibrary Journal and RT Book Reviews. For more information about Patricia and her work, visit PatriciaSargeant.com.

You can find out more about her and her stories at www.PatriciaSargeant.com, or follower her on Facebook or Twitter.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Patricia: Hi, Betty! Thank you so very much for this opportunity to meet your community. I’m super excited.

I’ve published 23 books. My 23rd book, A Groom Once Again: Meet the Bridegrooms, Novella 2, was a May 2019 release. My 24th book, A Groom Worth the Wait: Meet the Bridegrooms, Novella 3, is a September 2019 release and completes the Bridegrooms novella trilogy, which started in January 2019 with A Groom to the Altar: Meet the Bridegrooms, Novella 1.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Patricia: I write mysteries as Olivia Matthews and as Patricia Sargeant, and I write romance as Patricia Sargeant and Regina Hart.

I write romance because I enjoy exploring how finding your soul mate can help further develop – perhaps stimulate – the best in us. I love that premise. Even in my mysteries, I often include romantic interests.

I enjoy writing mysteries because I absolutely love puzzles.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Patricia: Ooh, I love this question! A Groom Once Again is a second-chance-at-love story. Its theme is love languages. I fiercely believe that communication is the foundation of all relationships – personal and professional. If you have a weak foundation, your relationship will crumble. To communicate effectively, we have to put ourselves in the seat of the person with whom we’re communicating. Ask ourselves, “How can I make them hear me? How can I get them to understand how X makes me feel or why Y is important to me?” In A Groom Once Again, Asher and Zora’s marriage failed because they weren’t communicating. Specifically, they didn’t recognize each other’s love language. If they want to reconcile, they’ll need to recognize and understand each other’s love language. Are they willing to put in that work?

Cynical screenwriter Asher Tomlin needs help with the script for his company’s historical documentary. Before their divorce almost three years ago, Asher and his ex-wife had made an impressive scriptwriting team. Now Asher’s two best friends urge him to turn to her again. Asher doesn’t need much prodding, though, to commit to doing whatever it takes to reunite with his ex-wife.

The clock is ticking for jaded editorial consultant Zora Dabney. Her biological clock, that is. While they were married, she and Asher had agreed to have children. Now she’s divorced and childless. So when Asher asks for help creating the script for his documentary, Zora tests his claim that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get her to work with him.

If Asher and Zora find a way to collaborate on the script, can they also find a way back to the altar?

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Patricia: I outline, write and revise in a home office with a dictionary and a style guide close to hand. Ha!

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Patricia: I really prefer to write in the early morning. It feels like such a special, magical time of day.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Patricia: My family and Romance Writers of America helped me to move from being unpublished to my dream of becoming a published author. My family helped by not allowing me to give up on my dream. They believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. It’s almost as though they willed me to continue to believe that my dream of being published would become a reality. Romance Writers of America helped me by educating me on what I needed to know about the craft and business of writing, and by giving me access to the businesses and agencies that would help me realize my dream. I’m forever grateful to both.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Patricia: I think my imagination is my greatest strength. As storytellers we have to continually feed our imaginations, keep it fresh and different. Challenge ourselves. We can’t allow ourselves to get into ruts.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Patricia: Oh, the characters! I truly believe that characters are the story – what they desire; what they fear; the obstacles they face and/or create; the people with whom they surround themselves. Those are some of the things that drive the story.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Patricia: LOL! Oh, my word! This is another exceptionally great question. Have you heard, “We plan, God laughs.”? I believe God has deep belly laughs at my plans to set aside a block of time to write. This is another reason I prefer to write during the wee hours of the morning. It’s a “special, magical” time because there’s less chance of being interrupted. LOL!

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Patricia: Historical research. Meet the Bridegrooms is a *contemporary* novella trilogy, but the characters are working on a historical documentary. Oh, my word! Historical research is not for the faint of heart. This is me giving historical authors a standing ovation and expressing gratitude from the bottom of my heart. *applause!!!!!*

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Patricia: Yes, I do! It provides that extra bit of motivation to focus exclusively on the writing – whether it’s an outline, a first draft or a revision. I start getting super excited around August. Ha! I’ll let you know if I ever make my NaNoWriMo goal. LOL!

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Patricia: Right now, I’m reading Land of Shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall. It’s a mainstream mystery and the storytelling is *stellar.*

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Patricia: Oooh! That’s such a hard question. Um, … OK! For today, I’ll say romance. I love mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy and current events. But for today, I’ll say my favorite genre to read is romance. If you ask me tomorrow, please don’t call me a liar if my answer isn’t the same. LOL!

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Patricia: Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to reread my keeper books anymore. (A moment of silence as I wipe the tears from my eyes.) I used to reread my keeper books two, three, four times. It felt like going back to a party where everyone knew you and love filled the room. Good times!

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Patricia: I usually read genres outside of my work-in-progress. Actually, while I’m writing a story, I usually read research books and magazines.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Patricia: Since being unceremoniously laid off and unable to find a comparable position with a new company, I’ve been trying to make this writing dream a reality. Wish me luck! Ha!

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Patricia: Whoa. There are a lot of things I wish readers were told about the publishing industry. But for today, I’ll say that I wish readers better understood their own power. It seems the publishing industry makes decisions based on anecdotes and those anecdotes impact everyone’s reading experience. *Readers* should drive the reading experience. If there are stories readers want to see more of, they should let publishers know. If there are themes they want to see published, they should let publishers know. We shouldn’t have to accept only what publishers serve us; *readers* should set the menu.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Patricia: Two bits of advice come to mind for new writers. First, never stop developing your craft. It’s important to strive to deliver your best possible work. Second, never stop learning the business of writing. This industry changes so quickly. (Oops! There’s another change!) Writing is an art, but it’s also a business and, if you want to succeed, you have to treat it like a business.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Patricia: Well, no need to twist my arm. LOL! As I mentioned, I’m wrapping up my Meet the Bridegrooms novella trilogy next month, September, with A Groom Worth the Wait. After that, my November release is a contemporary romance novel, A Wedding Gamble, which completes my Anderson Family contemporary romance trilogy, which started with Harlequin’s The Love Game and Passion Play. Thanks to the magic of indie pubbing, I’m able to bring closure to that series. I’m quite excited.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Patricia: I would love, love, love to publish my sci-fi/fantasy! Fingers and toes crossed that I’m able to do that.

Betty, thank you again so very much for this opportunity to chat with your community. It’s been fun! Very best wishes to you for your continued success!

Thanks for sharing about your writing process, Patricia! Wishing you all the best with your career!

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.

Making a Bread Bowl #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

It’s often easy to assume something we eat today has either always been available or is a new innovation when in fact the opposite is true. That’s what I learned about today’s topic: bread bowls.

Apparently, bowls have been made out of bread for a long time. I thought they were something invented during my life time but discovered in this article about plating food they’ve been around since the Middle Ages. Good news for my cook in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn who uses them to serve his renowned chicken chowder to the inn’s guests.

But how do you make a bread bowl? The article above cited that they used scooped out dried bread to make a trencher or bowl. What about in modern times? Of course, the recipe and technique needed to be something that could have been done in the 1820s, the time period of my story. So I looked for simple ingredients and steps and found what I was looking for at BreadWorld.com. I don’t detail the ingredients in my story, by the way, because those details didn’t enhance the story. But I did use the techniques.

In my story, Cassie Fairhope makes the bread bowls for Sheridan as you can see in this short excerpt:


The sticky mass of bread dough shuddered with each pounding. Cassie lifted an edge and folded it over, mashing her hands into the springy substance again and again. Kneading dough helped relieve her self-deprecation and grief. Something had to help release the tension coiled inside her gut.

“Don’t try to kill the bread dough.” Hannah chuckled from her side of the large work table where she shredded a roasted chicken into bite-size pieces. “It can’t fight back.”

“Ha, ha.” Cassie folded the dough and punched it down. Then divided it into pieces to shape into several small round loaves. Leave it to Hannah to poke the sore spot in her heart.

Cassie glanced over to the Marple sisters, their plain hickory brown dresses and white aprons displaying the amount of effort they put into their work, busily scrubbing potatoes and carrots. She appreciated the hard-working older sisters who lived down the road and showed up every morning at dawn to help ready the fruits and vegetables for the day’s menu. A large black kettle hung over the fire, steam rising in a steady column up the chimney. The chicken chowder had become a favorite for the midday repast. Sheridan would arrive before long to combine the ingredients with his signature touch of herbs and spices.

Hannah pinned her with a slight frown pulling on her brows. “I was joking. I’m sorry if you thought otherwise.”

Cassie patted a piece of dough into a slightly flattened ball and then pulled on the top to make a knob which would serve as a handle for the lid of the bread bowl. Pressing her lips together to prevent saying something she’d regret, she placed the loaf on the wooden paddle in preparation to slide the dough into the heated brick oven. Even with the windows open, the heat from both the cook fire and the hot bread oven had everyone glistening with perspiration.

Snagging another lump of dough, she shot a quelling glance at Hannah. “It’s been a difficult day.”


Once the bread is baked to a crusty goodness and cooled, then she’d use a sharp knife to cut off the top third of each loaf and hollow the bottom out. Then the chowder would be put inside and the top replaced to keep the contents hot until it’s served.

I haven’t tried this myself, but I am tempted to. Perhaps this fall when the temps cool around here from the 90s… I used to bake bread for my family rather than buying it but lately my time is better spent researching, writing, and reading.

Have you baked bread? Are you tempted like me to try making bread bowls?

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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Meet Aly Grady #contemporary #romance #author #happilyeverafter #books

Please help me welcome a contemporary romance author Aly Grady! Here’s her official bio and then we’ll dive right into finding our more about her books and her writing process.

New England born and Mid-west living with my husband, who puts up with me, and my teenage children, who roll their eyes at me, and our fur kid, Cody, a labradoodle that can’t stand to be separated from me.

I began writing as a challenge. When I surprised myself and wrote the first draft of a complete story I honestly didn’t know what to do with it. It was suggested I seek out a chapter of Romance Writers of America. I did and with the help and guidance of my chapter I’ve written a total of five books.

You can find out more about her at www.alygradybooks.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Aly: I currently have five books published. Four in print and a Christmas novella that is digital only. Written – well, I have two completely done in various stages of editing and three more stories in various stages of the writing process.

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Aly: I write Romance. I’m a girly girl at heart and the image of Cinderella dancing off at the end of her story with her Prince Charming is my ultimate fairytale. I want that for everyone. SO, I make the fairytale and happily ever after come true in all my stories.

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Aly: My latest release with a relationship of convenience theme. It’s a twist on a marriage of convenience.

Caroline’s flight home for Christmas is cancelled. Frustrated with the weather, a stranger sits next to her in the terminal.

Colin is travelling home for the holiday as well, minus one tiny detail. He told his family he was bringing his girlfriend home. A girlfriend that doesn’t technically exist.

His phone rings. He answers. He begs.

Can Caroline be Colin’s Christmas miracle and pretend to be his girlfriend to his entire family?

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Aly: I write in many different places. Most often I’m on my couch. Revising/editing require more concentration for me so I’m usually at my desk.

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Aly: I’m most active in the morning or very late at night.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Aly: I read an article in the Wall Street Journal about self-publishing. From there, I contacted a person that was mentioned and that person led me to my first development editor who led me to my cover artist and formatter – so basically it happened by accident.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Aly: My greatest strength… hmm, I’m always doubting myself but I’d say that I can talk to anyone and that conversation skill flows into being able to write dialog.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Aly: Oh, I most certainly come up with situations first.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Aly: My family has always been my number one priority so I write when I can. My husband travels A LOT so I’m a part-time single mom doing double duty with the kids. Both boys are driving now so that is a huge help. As a matter of fact – one drove himself to his summer tennis clinic which allows me time for me!

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Aly: I’m a huge stressball when it comes to my kids. Oldest just graduated from high school and I’ve not been able to concentrate on anything but that. Joy of joy is that my kids are only a year apart in school so I get to do all the worrying all over again.

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Aly: I have participated in NaNoWriMo. It was crazy fun and at the end I had my first draft for “A Home For Love”. I sat in the parking lot of a tennis facility with my laptop writing words. It was so intense and I remember in the middle of it thinking it was like a video game tracking the word counter. I had a well thought out story idea which helped me stay the course.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Aly: Right this moment I’m not reading anything. I just finished with graduations and I’m on a deadline to finish editing.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Aly: I gravitate toward Historical Romance. I’d never dare write it, but I love all the detail.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Aly: So, yes, I’m that person. I have all the Harry Potter books that I’ve reread at least three times. I also have the Twilight books that I’ve reread a number of times. Then I have the Chronicles of Narnia series that I’ve read and reread and reread. Yes, children’s books. Why? Probably because they’re easy reading. The worlds that each story is set in is crafted well. It’s an escape to read them. On a more serious note, I’ve reread The Book Thief. When my children had to read it for school I described it as a sad but happy ending. That one is gut wrenching because while the narrator isn’t in the story, the story has been true. It’s probably one of the only real-ish stories that I’ve reread.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Aly: I don’t usually read when I’m mid writing.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Aly: I recently went back to work at a “day job”. My kids are heading off to private universities and me home alone with the dog seemed like an ideal time to seek outside the home interaction.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Aly: Publishing a book is a process with many pieces. Just uploading a book to Amazon isn’t enough. The biggest part of the publishing piece is getting the writer’s name and book title out in front of potential readers. It’s that advertising piece that many writer’s, myself included, fall short on.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Aly: Keep writing. If you have a story to tell, then you should tell it.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Aly: I have a contemporary romance novel I’m editing that revolves around a high school reunion.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Aly: I have a fun story idea that I’ve started for a YA mystery. I love mystery and the who-done-it concept so I’m taking my time because I don’t want to develop it incorrectly (read that as “get it wrong”).

Thanks so much for stopping in to talk about your writing, Aly! It’s interesting how each author has a different process and emphasis. It’s a matter of finding what works by trial and error sometimes.

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.

Learning to Shoot a Flintlock Pistol #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #research

After an attack at the Fury Falls Inn in my story, Flint Hamilton decides he needs to defend the property. He asks the deputy sheriff for his help in learning how to shoot a flintlock pistol accurately. In order for me to be able to portray what he learns, I had to do a bit of research. Thank goodness for online sources I could access to understand the process!

By the way, it is a happy coincidence that I chose to name my character Flint and then he wants to use a flintlock pistol. He’s named Flint because he has a solid sense of responsibility and conscience. So like the rock he’s named for, Flint is a hard man to fool and is dedicated to protecting those under his care.

Back to figuring out how to shoot a flintlock pistol. I went to the science website, How Stuff Works, where Marshall Brain details the parts and the process of shooting this type of gun. Loading and firing the pistol is rather complicated to detail but I imagine once you’ve learned how, doing so would flow rather easily.

According to Marshall Brain, the flintlock consists of four main parts: a hammer, mainspring, frizzen, and pan. The hammer is powered by the mainspring. The hammer’s purpose is to hold a piece of flint and make it move quickly to create a spark off of a piece of steel, the frizzen. The pan holds a little bit of gunpowder awaiting the spark to detonate it. These four parts work together to fire the lead ball (bullet).

There are seven steps Brain lists for loading and firing the pistol. Since I’m writing from Flint’s point of view, I needed to key on the steps as he would. But without boring my readers. Here’s how it unfolds in The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn:


“Careful with that thing.” Parker waved a hand toward the flintlock pistol in Flint’s hand. “You said you’re not so good with it.”

Flint pointed the muzzle away from the deputy with a smirk. “That’s why you’re here. So teach me how to handle it and shoot straight.”

“First you need to load it properly.” The deputy held out his hand until Flint handed him the weapon. “Do you know how?”

He seemed to recall it took some special steps, and if you fouled them up then the contraption could explode in your hand. His father had tried to teach him how to handle a pistol years ago. After several near catastrophic missteps, he’d decided Flint would be safer using a rifle or even a musket. They weren’t quite as tricky as the smaller weapon, at least for Flint. But now Flint wanted something smaller he could carry with him instead of the larger, bulkier guns. Still, he approached the weapon with extreme caution.

“It’s been a while. Remind me.” Flint folded his arms while Parker talked him through the process. He forced himself to pay attention as the deputy explained and demonstrated each step, making the entire process look easy. Flint knew better.

Half-cock the hammer to pour in some gunpowder down the barrel. Wrap a lead ball with a bit of cloth and ram it down the barrel on top of the gunpowder. Add some gunpowder to the pan and snap the frizzen on as a cover. Fully cock the hammer and then squeeze the trigger to fire the gun. For each shot of the pistol, he had to do every step. With any luck, he wouldn’t need to do it at all. But he must be prepared.

“Your turn.” Parker handed him the gun. “Let’s see what you’ve got. Shoot the bull’s eye. Or try, anyway.”

With a grunt, Flint clumsily loaded the pistol. He raised the gun to point at the target, then steadied his shaking hand by briefly supporting it with his other one. Dropping the second hand, he aimed at the center red circle and jerked on the trigger. The blast of sound rang in the confines of the cavern, slowly echoing into silence. The odor of gunpowder lingered longer. Parker strode to the paper target and examined it. He spun around to smirk at Flint.


While Flint isn’t perfect on his first shot—he missed the target—he improves rapidly. I’ve fired a modern pistol but not any from the 1800s, so I appreciate the information Marshall Brain shared. I learned enough about how the pistol mechanism functions to be able to weave it into my story to help put the characters in context with the time in which they live. As I’ve said before, I am writing historical stories not to teach a history lesson but to entertain. 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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

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Getting to know Victoria Alexander #historical #romance #author #regency #mustread #fiction #books

I have a real treat for you today! I’m happy to have Victoria Alexander in the interview seat today. She’s an amazing best-selling author of historical romance and if you haven’t read her books, then you should seriously check out her stories. Let’s find out more about her as an author and a writer, starting with her official bio.

Victoria Alexander was an award winning television reporter until she discovered fiction was much more fun than real life. She turned to writing full time and is still shocked it worked out. The #1 New York Times bestselling author has written 37 full length novels, 11 novellas and has been published in more than a dozen different countries.

Victoria grew up traveling the world as an Air Force brat. Today, she lives in Omaha, Nebraska with a long-suffering husband she kills off in every book and two bearded collies in a house under endless renovation and never ending chaos. She laughs a great deal—she has to.

You can find out more about her at www.victoriaalexander.com or follow her on Facebook.

Betty: How many books have you written and published?

Victoria: 48 published works—37 novels, 11 novellas

Betty: What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Victoria: I’ve written some paranormals but I mostly write historicals—Regency and Victorian. I love the 19th century! From the beginning years with its rules and traditions to the progress of the last half of the century. We went from horses to trains, candles to gas to electricity. For most of the 19th century progress was in the air. I think it was a really exciting time. And when it comes to fiction—I find it magical.   

Betty: What themes or motifs did you use in your recent release and why were they important to your story?

Victoria: My newest release is The Lady Travelers Guide to Happily Ever After (on sale Aug 27th). I never seem to start out with a theme—they tend to evolve. This book is about second chances. It’s the story of two people who had to marry to avert scandal and then go their separate ways. Six years later they’re forced together again.

The story is actually set before the other three books in the Lady Travelers series. The epilogue takes place after the other books so Happily Ever After kind of wraps around the whole series. It is probably the last book in the series. At least for now.

Before there was a Lady Travelers Society there was just one lady traveler

Some marry for love. Some marry for money. But Violet Hagan’s quick marriage to irresponsible James Branham, heir to the Earl of Ellsworth, was to avoid scandal.

Though her heart was broken when she learned James never wanted marriage or her, Violet found consolation in traveling the world —at his expense, finding adventure and enjoying an unconventional, independent life. And strenuously avoiding her husband.

But when James inherits the earldom it comes with a catch—Violet. To receive his legacy he and Violet must live together as husband and wife, convincing society that they are reconciled. It’s a preposterous notion, complicated by the fact that Violet is no longer the quiet, meek woman he married. But then he’s not the same man either. 

Chasing Violet across Europe to earn her trust and prove his worth, James realizes with each passing day that a marriage begun in haste may be enjoyed at leisure. And that nothing may be as scandalous—or as perfect—as falling hopelessly in love. Especially with your wife.

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Betty: Do you have a specific place that you write? Revise?

Victoria: I have an office off my living room—about as far away from the rest of the house as I can get—and I do all my work there. My house is just over 100 years old and even though I have high efficiency windows it’s just not enough. So in the summer I have at least one fan going and in the winter I need 2 space heaters just to keep my fingers warm. But wherever there isn’t a window, there are bookshelves so I’m surrounded by research and inspiration. It’s not especially tidy—okay—it’s never tidy but it is cozy and a great place to write and I love it!

Betty: Do you have any writing rituals while you write? Did you have a special drink, or music, or time of day that you gravitated toward?

Victoria: I can’t think of any rituals although I do often set a timer and turn off all distractions—tv, internet, email, on-line games etc. until the timer goes off. Then I can take a break. I do always have something to drink—hot tea in the winter (warms me up) and usually ice tea in the summer. I play music sometimes but it’s always instrumental. Songs with words are too distracting and I tend to sing along which is a bit of a problem. As for time of day—it really varies from book to book. With some books my best time to write has been early morning. With others, I haven’t been able to get into writing until late afternoon.

Betty: What helped you move from unpublished to published? A mentor or organization or something else?

Victoria: Persistence and support from writer friends. I kept sending out my first book to publishers and getting rejections. But while I was trying to sell that one—I started the next. By the time I sold, the second was almost finished.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest strength in your writing?

Victoria: Dialogue and humor. I’m one of those people who talks to herself in the car. That seems to be a big help in writing dialogue. And while I have written some angsty scenes, I much prefer to make people laugh rather than cry. There’s not nearly enough laughter in the world.

Betty: What comes first when you’re brainstorming a new story: setting, situation, characters?

Victoria: It really depends. Sometimes it’s situation and the characters develop for that particular story line. Sometimes it’s character. I have a couple of characters from previous books that I’d like to write stories for but coming up with the right story for an already established character isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Betty: Do you have a structured time to write or is more fluid/flexible? Do you have to write between family obligations or do you set aside a block of time?

Victoria: I do try to keep regular hours so I’m usually at my computer Monday-Friday, from about 8:30 to 5:00. And while I try to focus on writing, I am frequently distracted. Sometimes by legitimate things like research and writing blogs. Sometimes—okay more than I want to admit—by fantasy vacations and ebay.   

Betty: What is one recent struggle you’ve experienced in your writing?

Victoria: I’ve been having some repairs done around the house. Really hard to write with people you don’t know running around your house!

Betty: Do you participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month)? Why or why not?

Victoria: Nope. I’ve always wanted to but frankly my life is filled with the pressure of deadlines and commitments. Adding one more thing makes me want to run screaming into the night.

Betty: What are you reading right now?

Victoria: The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Victoria: I don’t have just one favorite. I love contemporaries—preferably funny—as well as women’s fiction, erotica, young adult and paranormal.

Betty: What are your keeper books? How often might you reread them?

Victoria: Honestly, I don’t reread a lot anymore. I have a kindle full of books I haven’t gotten to and a house full of books I still haven’t read. So there’s always something new. But I am planning to reread all of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s books because I’m not sure which ones I haven’t read yet.

Betty: When you’re writing, do you read in the same genre as your work in progress or something else?

Victoria: Actually, I rarely read historicals at all. It’s the world I work in and I’m very critical. Which takes all the fun out of it.

Betty: Do you have a “day job” or do you write full time?

Victoria: I write full time. Well, I try to write full time.

Betty: What do you wish readers knew about the publishing industry?

Victoria: Authors don’t have nearly as much control as readers think we do.

Betty: What advice do you have for new writers?

Victoria: You have to understand writing is hard and there’s nothing that makes it easier. And every book is harder than the last—as it should be. It means you’re challenging yourself. If writing is what you really want to do—learn everything you can about writing and then do what you want. What you feel is right for the story you want to tell.

Betty: Any hints of what you’re next writing project might be?

Victoria: I’m looking at something different. I’m just not sure what yet.

Betty: What kind of writing would you like to experiment with? Or what’s a different genre you’ve considered writing but haven’t yet?

Victoria: I love writing 1st person. I’d like to do more of that.  Honestly, I have a million ideas so I’m exploring at the moment. It’s kind of an adventure and I’m excited about what comes next.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Victoria! We have a few things in common that I didn’t realize until you so graciously answered my questions. We both write full time, drink iced tea, have a ton of research books, and love historicals, for instance.

I hope everyone is enjoying getting to know my fellow authors, some of whom I’ve met in person, and some, like Victoria, who have helped me in my writing career. Writing, like Victoria said, is not easy. It’s wonderful to have a supportive network of other writers to turn to for answers to questions and for a pep talk when needed.

Now, go find a good book to read. Support your favorite authors! Happy reading, everyone!

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.

The Historic Huntsville Hotel #amwriting #histfic #historical #fiction #history #Alabama200 #research

Last week I talked about the Bell Tavern in downtown Huntsville which existed for several decades before burning in a major fire. In its place, a “modern” hotel was built in 1858 and called the Huntsville Hotel. Just for the sake of completeness of my research on this topic, I’d like to share a little bit more about the hostelry business in Huntsville in the 1800s.

The Huntsville Hotel is described “the town’s first real hostelry.” Which is a true statement because the word “hostelry” means “an inn or hotel” and the city appears to have only had taverns before the hotel was built. The new hotel elevated the expectations for service and accommodations.

I think if you look at the photos included in the above link you can see the exterior of the building, with four stories with ironwork trim, is both welcoming and speaks of elegance in its architecture and style. The interior image of the main parlor also shows refined furniture and furnishings with the appearance of leather armchairs, a decorated fireplace, and drapes at the windows. The hotel had a doorman to welcome the guests arriving by horse-drawn carriage and coaches.

The Huntsville Hotel was the site of “lavish parties and grand balls” for many years, including during the Civil War. When the area suffered from a Yellow Fever epidemic, many people went to the hotel “seeking refuge during the summer months when the illness was at its peak.” It was also the site of theater and music productions. One sign of its amazing success is the addition of 65 rooms in 1888 which enlarged the hotel to the point of meeting with the City Hall property on the corner of Jefferson and Clinton streets.

Like its predecessor, the Bell Tavern, the Huntsville Hotel burned to the ground. But it took two separate fires to complete the job. The first fire occurred in 1910 and the second “nearly a year later” on November 12, 1911, when “the entire block was destroyed.” A new hotel is under construction as I write this article, due to open in 2020, on the same site. I wish them much better luck!

While I mention that there is a hotel in Huntsville in my series, it’s obviously fictional since history suggests the first hotel wasn’t built until 1858. But that’s fine with me because hotels existed elsewhere so it’s feasible, if not historically accurate, to have a fictional one in my stories.

After all, I am making up stories not to teach a history lesson but to entertain. 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.

Innkeeper’s daughter Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. But in northern Alabama in 1821 marriage is her only escape. Even so, she has a plan: Seduce the young man acting as innkeeper while her father is away and marry him. He’s handsome and available. Even though he has no feelings for her, it is still a better option than enduring her mother.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. Securing his reputation in the hostelry business and earning his father’s respect are far more important. He did not count on having to deal with horse thieves and rogues in addition to his guests.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint must do whatever it takes to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who has no intention of leaving…

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read