Writing Lessons Learned while Revising a Series #amrevising #amwriting #amediting #ReadIndie #writingcommunity

Let’s talk about how a writer learns and grows over time, shall we? I recently decided to have my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, narrated as audiobooks (more to come on that endeavor very soon). Which provided the perfect opportunity to look at revising the stories to make them better. Boy, was that an eye-opening experience!

Before I get into the details of that, I’d like to announce that the second book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Under Lock and Key, will release in October and is currently up for preorders. You can find the description and links below. Isn’t the cover cool? I hope you’ll enjoy the story!

Now on to today’s topic. I know that my writing skills have improved with time, but sitting down to read the first ever historical romance was humbling to say the least. Emily’s Vow was written in 2012-2013 and published in the fall of 2014. So figure 8 years ago I wrote that book, again the first historical romance I wrote and published. I followed that one with Amy’s Choice which released the same month, October 2014. So I was not surprised to find those two needed the most work to bring them up to snuff.

Before I did any revisions, I made a point of reading the reviews to see what readers had grumbled about with the stories. Then I made sure I addressed those issues as I went through making sometimes wholesale changes to scenes and characterization. In fact, I added two new scenes in Emily’s Vow to address some gaps in the story logic.

The next two, Samantha’s Secret and Evelyn’s Promise, were released more recently so didn’t need nearly as much revision, but still there were changes and deletions made, additions inserted, some sentences rearranged. I didn’t see a need for new scenes in any of the stories other than Emily’s story.

One writing crutch I cringed over was my overuse, or over-dependence, on smiles, nods, shrugs, glances. I found myself chastising my earlier self with “stop nodding and smiling.” Of course, people do nod and smile and other facial and shoulders/arms/hands gestures, but more variety was desperately needed!

Another crutch that I reduced was the number of internal “spoken” dialogue (typically appearing in italics). I really leaned heavily on that in Samantha’s Secret, but it’s been weeded out as much as possible.

Overall, the stories remained the same but only told with more skill (I hope, anyway!). I’ll be sharing more about each of them as they’re available, so stay tuned!

I hope you’ll also check out Under Lock and Key and preorder your copy today! Thanks in advance for your interest and support!

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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The Arabbers’ Role in Baltimore’s History #inspiration #arabbers #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

I’ve shared previously about the excellent history book I used as research for writing Notes of Love and War. Within the pages of Home Front Baltimore was mention of the arabbers (pronounced ay-rabbers) in Baltimore. These merchants were new to me, but apparently not to my brother who still lives in Maryland. So I did some more research to learn more about them, and let me tell there is much of interest surrounding these unique men.

All they need to bring merchandise, produce, meat/fish, home furnishings, or any other portable item to the people of the city was a horse, a colorfully decorated wagon, and sturdy shoes. From what I read, arabbers were in many major cities along the eastern seaboard of America beginning in the 1800s. They were very important for residents who couldn’t travel to a store or who may have been ill. After all, the store came to them, along with a cheery conversation with the men and perhaps a friendly pat for the horse. The horses are usually bedecked in plumes or feathers, with jangling harness. The men developed their own individual “look” for their wagons and created a catchy attention-grabbing jingle that would help the customers know who was approaching their front door. The residents know and trust these salesmen, too.

Here’s a short snippet where the arabbers are mentioned in Notes of Love and War:

“Audrey half-jogged down the crowded sidewalk, weaving past people bustling along wrapped head to toe, scarves and gloves barriers against the cold. The melodic chant of an arabber drifted over the murmur of conversation around her. A patient horse in jingling harness pulled the man’s colorful wagon, piled with heads of broccoli and cauliflower as well as lemons and grapefruit. She smiled at the black man leading the horse by its bridle, a jaunty plume between the animal’s ears. Rae, in her silver muskrat fur coat and black beret, waited at the corner for Audrey, tapping one pump-clad foot.”

There are still arabbers in Baltimore today. Not nearly as many as leading up to World War II and throughout the middle of the 1900s. A quick search as I was preparing to write this blog also revealed how important a role they are playing during this pandemic. They are distributing not only food to those who can’t go to the store for one reason or another, but also information on how to prevent transmission of the virus.

There was a photographic exhibit last year, too, that attracted many visitors. And you can view a photo gallery at the Facebook page for the Arabber Preservation Society. These men and their horses have provided a vital service to many for generations, and I’m glad I included them in the city description within my novel to help preserve their history and bring awareness of their service to my readers.

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.

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

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

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

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Getting to know Sheila Myers #author #professor #American #historical #fiction #histfic #books

My guest today brings her professional skills to her historical fiction. Please help me welcome Sheila Myers to the interview seat! Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll get to know her better.

Sheila Myers is a Professor at Cayuga Community College in Upstate NY where she teaches aquatic science, ecology and coordinates the Honors Study program.

Myers began writing a trilogy on the family of the robber baron, Dr. Thomas C. Durant, after spending time at one of the Adirondack Great Camps built by his son William, on Raquette Lake, NY. She has published a trilogy: Imaginary Brightness (2015); Castles in the Air (2016); and The Night is Done (2017). The Night is Done won the Adirondack Center for Writing Best Book of Fiction (2017) and a starred Kirkus Review (2020). Using her skills as a scientist, Myers’ curiosity has taken her to numerous libraries and museums in the United States and England, tracking down new information about the infamous Gilded Age family. Her research journey is chronicled on the website http://wwdurantstory.com

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Sheila: Several years ago

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

Sheila: I have been working on my writing skills as I go. You never stop learning, right? I did not get a degree in writing but instead have honed my craft through practice. I’ve written over seven novels. A few are out on submission and a few still sit on my computer laptop. In addition, I have attended several workshops on craft and the industry.

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

Shelia: Ernest Hemingway at first but then I realized how stilted his language is if you don’t have the finesse. I really enjoy anything by Ann Patchett.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Sheila: I have been writing in journals for years and always wanted to write a novel. One day at my book club meeting a friend said, why don’t you just start writing then? So I did. I spent one summer writing every day until I had a 65k word novel – it was my first novel titled Ephemeral Summer, a contemporary coming of age story with ecological themes. I didn’t tell anyone I wrote it and I self-published it in 2014.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Shelia: I enjoy the flow. When I sit down to write and the world melts around me and I lose track of time I have had a good day.

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

Shelia: I have attended a lot of craft workshops both online and in person (pre-Covid days). Writer’s Digest Conferences, Historical Novel Society Conference, Iowa Writers Workshops (online), Mystery Writers Association Conference, and Women Fiction Writers Association webinars.

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

Shelia: Not to listen to everyone’s advice to the point of confusion because many times you find contradictory advice about writing. You need to find your own voice.

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

Shelia: Ann Patchett, Geraldine Brooks.

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

Shelia: The Durant Family Saga is about a famous New York family that pioneered the Adirondack Wilderness. While I was writing the first book in the trilogy I discovered that the patriarch “Doc Durant” was a main character in the TV series Hell on Wheels. I hadn’t realized until I started researching his life how instrumental he was in developing the Transcontinental Railroad. The Durant family saga is comparable to a soap opera. I could not make up their life stories if I tried. There is bankruptcy, divorce, affairs, lawsuits over inheritance, jealousy, greed, and tyranny. It is a Gilded Age TV series like the modern day TV show Dallas. I’m pitching the story to agents now for a TV series calling it Downton Abbey meets Hell on Wheels for a possible sequel to Hell on Wheels.

It’s 1931, William West Durant and his sister Ella, heirs to a bygone fortune, are in the last decade of their lives and contemplating their legacy. William returns to visit the estate he once possessed in the Adirondacks to speak with the current owner, copper magnate Harold Hochschild, who is writing a history of the region and wants to include a biography of William. Simultaneously, Ella is visiting with an old family friend and former lover, Poultney Bigelow, journalist with Harper’s Magazine, who talks her into telling her own story.

William recounts the height of his glory, after his father’s death in 1885 when he takes control of the Adirondack railroad assets, travels the world in his yacht and dines with future kings. However, his fortune takes a turn during the Financial Panic of 1893 amid accusations of adultery and cruelty.

Ella’s tale begins when she returned from living abroad to launch a lawsuit against her brother for her fair share of the Durant inheritance. The court provides a stage for the siblings to tear each other’s reputation apart: William for his devious business practices and failure to steward the Durant land holdings, and Ella for her unconventional lifestyle. Based on actual events, and historic figures, The Night is Done is a Gilded Age tale about the life altering power of revenge, greed, and passion.

Excerpt:

Chapter One
Eagle’s Nest, Adirondacks 1931
Harold Hochschild

I came upon him, standing in my garden overlooking the lake. His silhouette reminded me of a young tree without its leaves, tall and lean, bowed in places from the wind. He was staring into the distance at the frothy white caps, or perhaps the two loons bobbing up and down on top of them.

I thought he might be lost, or maybe a father of one of the workmen or servants. I called to him, he turned toward me and I walked closer to ask what or who he was looking for. As I approached he swept his arms to encompass the acres of woods and cabins of Eagle’s Nest and said, “I used to own all this.”

It was William West Durant.

Stunned, I lost my sense of propriety and forgot to reach for his hand in greeting. He extended his and I took it in mine. Finally I said, “Forgive me, I was expecting you tomorrow.”

He eyed me quizzically and a frightened look came over him. “I hired a cab at the station. I may have gotten my dates mixed up. That happens sometimes. Your caretaker said he would tell you I arrived.”

“And that he did,” I said, although I never was told; I’d been taking my morning walk and hadn’t spoken to any of my staff. “It’s quite likely I got the date down wrong myself,” I said to allay his embarrassment.

I led William to the porch of the building he had constructed long ago, the one my father acquired in 1904 along with the land and passed on to me and my siblings. We each sat down on the porch, quietly contemplating what to say next. Finally, he turned to me.

“I understand you want to learn more about me and the homes I built here in the Adirondacks.”

I nodded. “I’m writing a history of the region and speaking with you was at the top of my list.”

“Yes. Indeed.” Pleased to hear this, he crossed one long leg over the other and settled back in his chair. It came to me that this was a man entirely comfortable with his surroundings. There was no awkwardness or doubt over his position with me. Although, he had no airs about him.

He coughed and his shoulders shook.

“Are you cold?” I asked.

“Slightly,” he admitted.

“Well let’s go inside then. I have coffee waiting. Will you join me?”

He smiled appreciatively and followed me into the great house.

We went into my library and I observed him out of the corner of my eye as he sipped his coffee, restraining myself from peppering him with the many questions I had. He was wearing a beige suit made of fine linen from another era, the lapel of his jacket too large to be modern. I noticed the frayed cuffs on his well-tailored pants. Even so, he had once had impeccable taste in clothing.

I was reminded of a recent visit to a camp nearby that was on the auction block. The owners had passed away and their descendants wanted nothing to do with it. Knowing the previous owners’ propensity to hire local carpenters to build hand-crafted furniture, I thought I might be able to pick up a few pieces for the guest rooms at Eagle’s Nest. When we entered the camp, probably built in the 1890s, furniture was strewn about the main parlor for viewers, dust clinging to everything like old memories. My eye was drawn to an armoire in the corner. It was a handsome piece made of maple, and stately in an unadorned fashion; a piece that would serve its purpose with pride no matter what situation or arrangement it found itself flung into. The façade was unscathed by time. Even with the slight dings and scratches to its exterior, it remained dignified.

I cleared my throat. “Would you mind if I retrieve my notes? There are many things I want to ask you but my memory will work much better if I can read my notes.”

His shoulders relaxed. “Of course,” he said. He knew what I wanted from him because he had been asked so many times before: A personal account of how he went from one of the wealthiest land owners in the region to a clerk in a hotel.

Buy links: Books2Read * Amazon

Thanks for stopping in today, Sheila! Your book sounds like a fascinating read and I hope many will read it. Any takers?

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Let’s Go on a 1940s Summer Picnic #inspiration #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

In my latest release, Notes of Love and War, there is a picnic scene. There’s a really good reason for why, too! I honestly love to go on picnics, a love fostered by my parents when I was a child. Since this story was originally inspired by my parents’ correspondence, it seemed fitting to include a picnic scene. As my husband and I raised our children, we would occasionally take them to a park and have a picnic. Sometimes we’d take the hibachi grill and grill burgers and hot dogs, or bratwurst, or even chicken at times.

Now that the kids are grown and on their own, we’ve been known to do more impromptu picnic fare. For example, we packed a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and drinks during this pandemic and drove down to a picnic table by a lake to eat. We didn’t stop anywhere on the way; didn’t interact with anyone closer to us than about 50 feet (other than a precocious goose); and then drove straight back home. But it was great to get out of the house and behind the steering wheel again!

In order to depict the accoutrements of the fictional picnic, I needed some visual aids. I found a 1940s picnic basket with plates, cups, utensils along with what the picnic menus might include. Some of those menus were quite fancy, in my opinion. I was rather surprised to find that they would have had a vacuum box to keep items hot or cold, the precursor to a cooler like we use today.

So what’s for lunch at Notes of Love and War’s picnic? Here’s a snippet:


Audrey picked her way across the uneven ground. Frisk seemed chastened by her firm grip on the leash and walked sedately at her side. Victor’s rigid back hinted at his opinion of Audrey and her dog. Retrieving the basket, she lugged it to the shaded table. She tied Frisk’s leash to the table leg, then started putting their lunch out on the covered table.

“Is Frisk okay?” Rae handed Audrey a plastic plate from the woven picnic basket opened on the table.

“He’s fine.” She lifted the lid on the other vacuum box. “What’s he grilling?”

Rae leaned closer to inspect the contents of the cold container. “Looks like chicken legs.”

“We’ve got baked beans, too. Along with the fruit and cookies, we’ve quite a spread.” Audrey reached down to pet Frisk where he sat observing the proceedings. “I’m impressed.”

Rae put out a plate on the table for Victor, arranging utensils on either side. She glanced at the man in question with a grin. “He’s amazing.”

“Hmm.” Audrey kept her mouth closed and her hands busy. Better to keep a wait-and-see attitude until she knew him better.

Victor carried the covered plate of chicken to the grill, fragrant smoke drifting on the light breeze. He situated the meat on the rack over the flickering flames and then brought the plate back to the table. His movements were precise and efficient, no wasted effort. He paused to wipe his hands on a towel as he watched the girls putting the finishing touches on the table.

Audrey placed her palms on her hips and surveyed the layout. “Are we missing anything?”

Rae scanned the table and then nodded, satisfied. “I think we’re ready when you are, Vic.”


Audrey really would rather be anywhere but chaperoning her younger sister, but she also will do anything she must to protect Rae. She’s a protective older sister.

Do you enjoy going on picnics? What kinds of foods do you take to enjoy?

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.

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

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

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Amanda Jayde #author #spicy #paranormal #romance #mustread #fiction #books

We start writing stories because we have stories to tell. Those stories can begin from a huge array of sources. Amanda Jayde is my guest today and her stories stemmed from what may be a surprising source for some. Ready to meet Amanda?

Amanda Jayde has been telling stories for years. Urged on by one of her close friends, she entered an erotic story competition sponsored by Romantic Times Magazine and much to her surprise she became a finalist and her dream of becoming published was born.

She left her hometown of The Bronx, NY, to move to a decidedly warmer climate and slower lifestyle in a small town in Florida. She usually has one story completed, one in various stages of completion, and one or two in her head, and when she’s not writing you can find her curled up with a book.

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Betty: When did you become a writer?

Amanda: I started writing fan fiction waaaaay back in the early 2000’s that was when a friend told me about a contest Romantic Times was having for short stories. I had always played with the idea of trying to get published and with a little push entered the contest. I became a finalist and attended my first convention. That was 2004 or so. I continued to toil away at it and got my first book published in 2010.

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

Amanda: YEARS. LOL, I am still working on it.

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

Amanda: All of the books I’ve published have been paranormal and I love Sherrilyn Kenyon, Karen Marie Moning, JR Ward in that genre.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Amanda: I loved to read as a kid, and that helped me want to tell stories. I started with fan fic because I loved the idea of what if. The feedback I received there made me want to write my own stories.

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Amanda: LOL, fan fiction – it was western fan fiction which is so far away from what I currently write. I may one day go back to those old stories and rewrite them maybe release them as free reads.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Amanda: I do love Paranormal, you can make your world as close to reality as you want or build a new fantastical version of it. It’s fun to take these established character types and make them your own. Plus I love making people fall in love.

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

Amanda: I took a class a long time ago that Barnes and Nobel offered for writing and then I bought craft books and read a LOT. I still will buy books on writing because I think you can always learn to be better.

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

Amanda: How crazy it can make you. Trying to find that perfect blurb, the right cover, slaving over each decision you have to make on top of finding the time to write. It’s maddening, but I love it.

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

Amanda: Sherrilyn Kenyon was a big inspiration, I met her a few times and she was always so supportive when we spoke. There are lots of fantastic writers on Twitter that are also supportive in general – Romancelandia can be a great place to live in.

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

Amanda: I wrote a short story for a charity anthology (which is now released as part of this series) and there was a throwaway line in there about the heroine’s cousin who’s been cursed and I thought I would reeeeeeally like to tell her story someday, so I did a quick plot and shelved it to work on my shifter books (which are currently unavailable). Then about 18 months ago a new opportunity to join a collective of authors popped up to write common elements themed stories and I thought I could use my witch idea, turns out that due to the parameters for that story I couldn’t so instead I used my common elements book to start the series and that led to this one so here we are!

Emily Caswell has secrets. Witches, curses, death–she’s lived with them all, but the one thing she’s wanted above all else is the one thing she can’t have. Love. She thought her life was just fine if a little lonely, but if this was the price to pay, she could accept it. Until the one person who held her heart, the boy she once loved, returns.

Ex-Navy SEAL Greyson Caulfield is coming home. Forced to retire after an injury, he is returning to civilian life. Back to his family, his best friends, and to face the one that got away. His one regret in life was how things ended with Emily, but now that he’s back maybe he can set things right again.

When love means courting death can these star-crossed lovers find a way to be together? And if death doesn’t drive them apart, then the secrets Emily is keeping just might.

Excerpt:

For the first time since realizing he was back, Emily allowed herself to get a good look at him. He’d always been tall, he’d grown to six-foot-four by the time he’d graduated high school, but now he seemed even bigger. Not taller, just broader, his time as a SEAL had bulked him up, the muscles outlined beneath his thin royal blue tee-shirt evidence of that. The decade away had matured him. There was a hardness to his features she’d never expected to see, but as he looked down at her, she saw a glimpse of the boy she’d loved within the man he’d become. It was there in the softness of his gaze and the slight upturn of his lips.

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” She said quietly. Thankful that her voice didn’t quiver.

“It’s been over ten years, Em, are you still angry about what happened on prom night?”

“You broke my heart, Grey, made me feel like a complete idiot. You betrayed me. Can you blame me for not wanting to rehash the past?” She said, jumping at the chance to push him away no matter how ridiculous her reasoning was. She needed to get away until she could find some time to put all of this and what it meant into perspective.

He seemed surprised by her admission. “I see.” He stepped away from her car. “Don’t let me keep you then.”

Emily looked down the street Grey had gone. For eleven years, she’d been free from the fear that their love would cause her death, and now that he was back, what could this all mean?

Buy links: Eden BooksBooks2Read

I’ll bet there’s some fireworks about to happen in Bewitched! Thanks for sharing, Amanda!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Visit Audrey’s real Home Sweet Home #inspiration #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

Before I get to my topic for today, I want to remind you that Notes of Love and War releases tomorrow! But you can download the first 3 chapters for free now! See below for a description and links where you can buy your complete copy, too.

Now on to the rest of my story…

I believe that your opinion of your life and personal world is directly affected by where you live. All of the factors as to your comfort, location, conveniences play a role in your overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. Which is why I thought I’d share with you the house I had in mind when I was writing Notes of Love and War, the home where Audrey lives with her family.

It’s not a big home, but it is based on my memory of my grandmother’s house outside of Baltimore. I used to visit her for a week each summer, helping her in the garden, hanging laundry on the lines out back, and being very quiet while she listened to Dialing for Dollars. She taught me to crochet and let me read her books which she housed in a glass doored bookcase. When I was young, she kept a box of toys close by that I could play with, too. Grandmom was the only grandparent I ever knew. She died from breast cancer when I was 12 years old.

The house had a single floor with a walkup attic and a basement. When you walked in the front door you entered the living room with a fireplace on the far right wall. Straight ahead was the dining room and off the dining room the kitchen. The steps to the basement were between the dining room and kitchen. To the left near the front door was a short hall, where the bookcase stood on one wall, that led to the single bathroom with a bedroom flanking each side. Grandmom slept in the bedroom on the left, at the front of the house. I would sleep in the bedroom on the right, at the back.

I’ve mentioned that my personal history and my dad’s correspondence with my mom inspired the events in Notes of Love and War. In this instance, my memory of my grandmother’s house became the setting for Audrey’s home. However, it’s not the same house where my mother was living when my father was writing to her during and after the war. Grandmom moved from that house sometime after my grandfather died and I was born 14 years after my parents married. I used the house I knew because I have never been inside of the previous house where my mother would have grown up. (That house no longer stands, by the way. An apartment building is there as of today.)

I’m super excited to have Notes of Love and War available for you all to read! Early reviews have been 4-5 stars, so it’s a good story and entertaining, too.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Anna St. Claire #author #historical #romance #mystery #regency

My guest today is a lifetime writer and now novelist. Please help me welcome Anna St. Claire! Let’s get to know her from her bio and then see what she has to say about her inspiration for writing.

Anna St. Claire is a big believer that nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. She sprinkles her stories with laughter, romance, mystery and lots of possibilities, adhering to the belief that goodness and love will win the day.

Anna is both an avid reader and author of American and British historical romance. She and her husband live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their two dogs and often, their two beautiful granddaughters, who live nearby. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, and Mimi—all life roles that Anna St. Claire relishes and feels blessed to still enjoy. And she loves her pets – dogs and cats alike.

Anna relocated from New York to the Carolinas as a child. Her mother, a retired English and History teacher, always encouraged Anna’s interest in writing, after discovering short stories she would write in her spare time.

As a child, she loved mysteries and checked out every Encyclopedia Brown story that came into the school library. Before too long, her fascination with history and reading led her to her first historical romance—Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind, now a treasured, but weathered book from being read multiple times. The day she discovered Kathleen Woodiwiss’ books, Shanna and Ashes in The Wind, Anna became hooked. She read every historical romance that came her way and dreams of writing her own historical romances took seed.

Today, her focus is primarily the Regency and Civil War eras, although Anna enjoys almost any period in American and British history.

Website * BookBub * Facebook * Amazon

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Anna: I started writing as a child and majored in journalism as an undergraduate. When I owned my medical spa, I learned all about all the procedures through research and wrote a weekly column for the paper regarding skin care. After that, I decided to pursue my writing dream – to publish a book. Authoring a book had always been on my list of things I wanted to accomplish, long having had a Civil War romance in my head. (Embers of Anger, Book one in my Embattled Hearts Series). I’m pretty hooked on Regency Era books and am now writing my seventh and eighth regency stories.

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

Anna: I majored in writing, so it’s always been second nature to me. However, my dissertation on wellness and preventive strategies was my first publication. (Yea…not a story I spend a lot of time reading, myself.) Yet, with a background in journalism, I had to change my writing style when I decided to write a historical romance. I worked almost a year and a half on the first novel, Embers of Anger, before finally getting serious and publishing it in 2018. I am still really proud of that series. The second one is halfway finished. (There will be three in all.)

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

Anna: I loved all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s stories, especially Ashes in The Wind. I think I’ve read that one at least five times—however, not as much as Gone With the Wind, which I have read a dozen times. There are too many historical romance authors that I enjoy to name. They know who they are, though.

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Anna: It was kind of like the Forrest Gump story – when he started running. One day I started writing. I hope to write much longer than he ran, though. <snort> I enjoy creating characters and their stories, and find myself lost in sketching a story out or working on one.

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

Anna: I have several people to thank for this. I hope this doesn’t sound cheesy, but my mother was an English teacher in middle school. She more than anyone influenced my interest and skill in writing. Mom helped me learn how papers were put together, and taught me to plot, character sketch, and write from the heart. My mother still writes and has a wonderful conversational writing technique.

One other influential person was probably my English teacher in 10th, 11th, and 12th grade. Yes, it was a small school of 500 students and she taught me all three years…how lucky was that? It was a good thing I liked her! One regret I have is that she didn’t live to see me actually write a book and publish it. She died of complications from Breast Cancer about ten years ago.

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

Anna: I wish I had a better grasp and more patience for the marketing techniques. That has been my biggest hurdle. And it is a work in progress.

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

Anna: There was one in particular – Elizabeth Johns. She is the one who pushed me off the ledge and made me do it. She still supports and encourages my writing.  Others that have been particularly encouraging and supportive have been Madeline Martin, Meara Platt, and Laura Smith.

Betty: What inspired you to write the book you’re sharing with us today? Anna: This is one of those books that when I started writing it, it just sort of took off. The characters wrote much of it for me. I enjoyed it because it gave me license to write the historical with modern day dilemmas. I used my own puppy as a secondary character. Shep is on the cover. I love to use my beloved pets, as well as other animals like donkeys, parrots, and horses in the stories.

Maggie Winters had everything she always wished for — betrothed to the man of her dreams, a loving home, and a new puppy. But it all changes when her parents die and her new guardian sweeps Maggie from town and forces her to marry a stranger to pay his debts. When she suddenly finds herself a widow and free of an unhappy marriage, can she finally find the love she’s dreamed of?  

Lord Maxwell Wilde still loves Maggie Winters, despite his years abroad in service to the Crown. They had planned to marry until she disappeared from his life, leaving only a scribbled note in her wake. Returning home late from an assignment in the middle of a sudden storm, he finds a badly injured woman lying in the road. He saves her only to realize he has rescued the woman he had never forgotten. 

Hearts are in play as danger beckons them into a treacherous game. Do they dare grab a second chance at love?

Excerpt:

Thunder boomed above him. A second later, a sharp crack of lightning lit up the dark sky. Gripping the reins of his horse, Maxwell Wilde, Earl of Worsley, fought to stay seated as his mare reared and struggled. The lightning illuminated a woman lying in the road just ahead. Had the lightning not struck, he most certainly would not have seen her.

The scant light showed a small-framed woman curled into a fetal position, wearing a soiled blue dress. A small shaggy white dog pawed her arm, whimpering and licking her face. Large drops of rain pelted both of them but did not affect the dog’s loyal persistence.

“Whoa, Willow.” Max slid from his mount and walked over to the woman. At his approach, the dog at once became protective, giving a guttural growl. It forced Max to stop and rethink his goal.

“Easy, boy.” He lowered his hand to the dog and allowed him to sniff it. The dog stopped growling and eased himself down, curling his furry white body next to the woman’s head—protecting her—still whimpering and licking her face. Max took a deep breath, careful not to anger the dog and not wanting to injure it. The dog was unmistakably attached to the woman. Feeling more confident the dog would not attack him, he lowered himself onto his haunches to get a better look at the woman.

Gently, he swept wet, muddied blonde tresses from her face. Recognition was swift and tumultuous. “Bloody hell! Meg, what happened? Why are you out in this storm, of all places? Why are you here?” Questions flooded his brain. He fought the gut-wrenching impulse to pull her close. When she did not answer, he picked up a limp hand and noticed rope burns around her left wrist, anger registering. “You are bleeding.” He moved her damp blonde hair away from her forehead, revealing a deep gash from which blood still oozed. Fear gripped him. He stared at her motionless body until he saw her chest barely move. Good. She was breathing. “Thank goodness you are still alive.”

Her eyes opened and closed. Her throat worked, but she did not speak. She needed a doctor. Max needed to get her to safety and leave before she engaged his heart yet again.

He had washed his hands of Maggie Winters when she ran away and abruptly married the Earl of Tipton three years past—when she and Max were planning to wed. Anger churned in his gut as he thought about the day he found out, and it renewed his confusion, pain, and anger. She had disappeared without a word—merely a scribbled note delivered to him. Without thinking, he reached inside his waistcoat pocket and touched the folded missive. No one had heard from Maggie in years.

Buy links: Amazon

The Earl She Left Behind is free on KU.

There you have it! What a cool story, too. Thanks for sharing, Anna!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Meet the real WWII German Spies #inspiration #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

I always like to reflect true history in my historical fiction, especially when it’s a little known or surprising event. Like the inspiration for the pair of spies in Notes of Love and War. The story is set in Baltimore, Maryland, during WWII and was inspired by my parents’ war correspondence a subsequent courtship. (I so can’t wait to have that story available for all my readers!)

Which reminds me to remind you that you’re invited to a Summer Picnic to celebrate the upcoming release of Notes of Love and War on July 28, 2020. It’ll be a virtual picnic on Sunday, July 26, at 3:00 p.m. CDT on Zoom, so you can set up your own snack or meal to enjoy. Prior to the picnic, I’ll send out to those who either RSVP below or Like the Facebook event an excerpt, a few family recipes, etc. I’ll read an excerpt from the book, and we’ll chat. You can ask me questions about the excerpt or any of my other books, if you’d like. Just an hour or so to hang out with others who enjoy historical fiction.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/271180240782200/ 

RSVP group in MailerLite: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l0m5d2

Come on, you know you want something fun to look forward to, right? So Like or RSVP and I’ll see you there!

Now onto the inspiration for the spies.

You may be aware of the German submarines that patrolled the Atlantic coast during WWII. In reading my dad’s correspondence I even learned that one of his sister’s served as a sub spotter in Florida. I wanted to include the subs in my story in some way so I went looking for actual historic events that included them. I found Nazi Spies Come Ashore by Richard Sassaman, an article about two Nazi spies, Erich Gimpel and William Colepaugh, who landed in Bar Harbor, Maine. Merely knowing that German spies had invaded America more than once gave me fodder as well as authenticity for my story.

In Notes of Love and War, I used a few of the details from that article to create the situation Audrey faces. Obviously, my spies land not off the shores of Maine but of Maryland, and then they make their way to Baltimore. Like Colepaugh, Peter Mercer is American with German ancestry who turns against his country. That’s the only similarity in their personality or background, however.

In the article, Gimpel, the German, discovers the money wrapper with the name of the German bank still on the bundled money. I have my character, Peter, the American, buy a new coat and leave the money wrapper in the pocket. Which then becomes a clue in the story.

It’s fun to weave the actual facts into fiction in order to create a realistic situation. I hope you enjoy the story and please come to the picnic if you have an hour to spare on Sunday.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Getting to know Judy Mollen Walters #author #womensfiction #amreading #books

My guest author today is a writer who tackles some difficult issues within her stories in order to help others cope or understand them. Please welcome Judy Mollen Walters! Let’s take a look at her bio and then we’ll dive in.

Judy Walters is the author of eight novels. Her latest is The Lies You Want to Hear. She writes about strong women who are struggling either with their own or a family member’s medical or difficult life issue. She is also an essayist who writes about her family, parenting, and writing in publications such as The Washington Post, Huffington Post, theweek, SheKnows, and many others. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and enjoys when her adult children come for visits.

Website * Facebook

Betty: When did you become a writer?

Judy: I’ve always been a writer, since I was a young girl. I think it all solidified in fourth grade when I overheard a teacher telling my father I was gifted in this area.

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

Judy: I wrote four crappy novels that I will never show ANYONE, which was my “practice”. The fifth time was the charm for me, and that became my “first” book.

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

Judy: Jodi Picoult, Lisa Genova

Betty: What prompted you to start writing?

Judy: An idea came to me one day when my younger daughter was 3 and in preschool three days a week. I started using that time for writing. (That daughter is now 22.)

Betty: What type of writing did you start with?

Judy: Short stories and essays.

Betty: What do you most enjoy writing? Why?

Judy: Novels, because I never know where the character is going to lead me. 😊

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

Judy: I had a really good editor who sat me down and said that my novel was only half finished and I needed to learn to write a different way. She walked me through the steps and finally, I had a good book!

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

Judy: How hard it is to get published.

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

Judy: Really, it was just something I always did, so while I have authors whose work I really enjoy, none of them really were that inspiration because I was already doing it.

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

Judy: This novel is about a mother of a six-year-old who is struggling with anorexia and bulimia. While I don’t have an eating disorder, I do have disordered eating, which means I don’t eat properly for fear of gaining weight, or I eat too much or too little or in an odd way. I was wondering what it would be like to have an actual, serious eating disorder. Most people see eating disorders as something teenage girls have, and although of course the condition is prevalent in that age group, most people don’t realize that adults can have it, too. I want people to know about those adults who are struggling.

Busy wife and mom Dani Goldberg lives in a secret world that’s threatening to collapse around her.

In THE LIES YOU WANT TO HEAR, it’s the world of eating disorders, and as much as she doesn’t want to be there, she can’t force herself to run away from it.

She’s also a volunteer coping with her role as PTO President while she tries to become pregnant with her second child. With every stressful day, she falls more deeply into her disordered eating world.

Her sister Jess wants to save her, but she doesn’t quite know how. She’s busy, too – as a lawyer and single mother. And those things need to be priorities. But so does Dani. As she watches her sister die a little more each day, she wonders how she’s going to save Dani from herself.

But in the end, it will all be up to Dani. Can she do it? Or will she fall off the cliff altogether, leaving everything she loves – her husband, daughter, sister and nephew – behind.

Excerpt:

Dani looked at the clock as the meeting wore on. School would be out in a few minutes, and Madison would be furious if Dani wasn’t there on time. She tried to listen to Mrs. Jennings.

“So you’ll be able to come set up Reading Night beforehand?” Mrs. Jennings asked. “I know that breaks into time with your family. I’m so sorry.” She looked genuinely concerned. The principal was like that. She cared about everyone, and she wanted them to be happy. Dani looked around the small office. There were a couple of plants and flowers on her desk and on the floor – gifts from parents trying to get in her good graces.  Her desk was a mess of papers, her computer, and God knows what else. Dani was lucky that Mrs. Jennings let her be in here at all.

“Okay,” Dani said. “I’ll do it.” She smiled at Mrs. Jennings and took the last bite of her cupcake. It had started out delicious, but her stomach sort of roiled when she thought about the calories in it. She couldn’t not eat it, though. Mrs. Jennings had given it to her especially.

“I have to go,” she said, jumping up, feeling her hips jiggle. “The bell is going to ring.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Jennings said. “Give Madi a hug for me, and here let me give you one, too.” She came around from her side of the desk and hugged Dani, and that made everything better.  She thought Mrs. Jennings might love her.  That would be nice, she thought as she floated out of the office. 

Buy link: Amazon

It can be difficult to know which authors influenced a writer because most writers I know read widely. It’s not a single voice so much as the collective expectations of specific genres that influences.

Thanks for stopping in today, Judy!

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 http://www.bettybolte.com for more on my books and upcoming events.

Meet the real Audrey Harper, Music Critic #inspiration #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

Before I get to today’s post, I’d like to invite you to a Summer Picnic to celebrate the upcoming release of Notes of Love and War on July 28, 2020. It’ll be a virtual picnic on Zoom on Sunday afternoon, July 26 at 3:00 pm CDT, so you can set up your own snack or meal to enjoy. Prior to the picnic, I’ll send out to those who either RSVP below or Like the Facebook event an excerpt, photos, and recipes. I’ll read an excerpt from the book, and we’ll chat. You can ask me questions about the excerpt or any of my other books, if you’d like.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/271180240782200/ 

RSVP: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l0m5d2

I hope you’ll come help me celebrate this story that was inspired first by my parents’ correspondence courtship during and after WWII. They loved each for 41 years before my mother died of breast cancer in 1989. Come on, you know you want something fun to look forward to, right? See you there!

Now onto the inspiration for my main character. When I chose to write a story set in Baltimore, Maryland, I wanted my heroine, Audrey Harper, to be a musician of some kind. So one of the first things I did was find references to music in Maryland and to female musicians. While reading Musical Maryland: A History of Song and Performance from the Colonial Period to the Age of Radio and looking for inspiration, I read the following with relation to the musicians and music scene during WWII:

“Both music critics for the Sun, Robert Cochran and Weldon Wallace, were sent off as war correspondents. Flora Murray, a former Peabody student and Goucher College graduate assigned to cover women’s clubs, fashion, and the society columns for the Sunday Sun, took over for both men, signing her articles ‘FM.’”

Perfect! Using Flora Murray as a role model for my character seemed like a perfect fit. I did not do any research into Ms. Murray but used my imagination and my own musical background to craft the character of Audrey Harper. I echoed the college education to a point, too. Here’s a snippet from Notes of Love and War where she learns of the opportunity to become the music critic:

“Okay. I have another bit of news to share with you.” Gloria straightened to saunter to the window. “I’ve just heard that John Walker’s number was called.”

The music critic for the Daily had made quite a name for himself with his insights and connections. Audrey had read his pieces and while they were informative they lacked originality and narrative finesse.

“Who’s taking his place?” Audrey swiveled her chair to face Gloria directly.

“Maybe you?” Gloria turned her back to the window and crossed her arms over her chest. “You’re qualified.”

Audrey considered the slim possibility. Mr. Banks didn’t seem impressed by her music appreciation background. Then again that was when she was applying for the society column job. Maybe… “Do you really think he’d consider me?”

“The worst he can say is no.”

Qualifying for the role as music critic would be easy with her background, her own musical ability and experience entertaining the soldiers at the USO. Which also gave her the right connections to access the movers and shakers of the music scene in the city. Plus she spoke their language and appreciated the music styles and musicians themselves. Facing Mr. Banks still frayed her nerves. But, if nothing else, she’d learned she must ask for what she wanted if she hoped to receive it.

“You’re right.” Audrey pushed slowly to her feet and smoothed her woolen skirt with damp palms. “Wish me luck.”

I really love finding actual historical tidbits that can inform my fiction in a way to make it authentic, too. Knowing a woman filled the positions of two men while they were serving their country makes for some great storytelling fodder even if I don’t use it exactly as in real life.

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple