My Impressions of Echoes from the Oasis by A.R. Tirant #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I was very interested to see what I’d learn by reading Echoes from the Oasis by A.R. Tirant. As I mentioned in my Initial Thoughts on the book, the author has included a lot of detail about the Seychelles islands. She spends a great deal of time discussing the flora and fauna, the people and everything associated with living on the islands.

While reading about island life is interesting, I don’t believe it should have been the main focus of the story. In fact, I don’t think this book is just one person’s story so much as vignettes of people’s lives who live there. I did indeed learn a lot about how people lived in the Seychelles back in 1914. This story employs a narrator who knows every character inside and out, an omniscient narrator. Thus the story is told from various viewpoints, even the animals, and jumps from one to the other with little warning. It’s not awfully jarring, however; since the technique is used throughout it becomes the norm.

And yet with the power of an omniscient narrator’s knowledge, I still felt like I didn’t get to know the characters very well. The narrator seemed pulled back, too elevated perhaps, to care deeply about what the characters were experiencing. I’m unsure as to the intent behind using this technique. Was it to give the reader a more objective view of the people in the story? To what end? Or perhaps I’m misinterpreting her intent entirely.

I read this story looking for connections between the elements, the techniques, the devices the author used, but some eluded me. More importantly, the ending left me unsatisfied. I realize it’s the first story in a series, but the ending is somewhat tragic and depressing. I didn’t come away with a sense of hope but of despair for the main character, Anna.

So, let’s try another one, shall we? For next time, I’ll start reading The First Actress: A Novel of Sarah Bernhardt by C.W. Gortner.  Until then…

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.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

2020 Rone Award Finalist!

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

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Roxie Golden enjoys running Roseville’s bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then her beloved ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift that includes a mysterious treasure hunt they must work together to complete.

Leo King never planned to return to Roseville nor to Roxie but before he can escape town, he must satisfy his warlock father’s final wish: deliver the enigmatic box to Roxie’s bookstore.

When Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, his chance to escape vanishes. Trapped in a reluctant partnership, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

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

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

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

Author Social Links: Instagram

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

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

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Buy Links: Amazon * B&N

Thanks for swinging in for a chat, MaryEllen!

I mentioned that I’ve recently written a short story, but what I didn’t say is that it’s included in the What A Day! Short Stories by Southern Writers anthology that just released on April 5! I took the time in my story, “The Perfect Birthday Gift,” to get to know two of my Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series characters, sisters Meg and Myrtle. You can learn more about all 11 stories in the book at www.heartofdixiefictionwriters.com/what-a-day/ and buy your copy at https://books2read.com/whataday!

Happy reading!

Betty

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

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

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

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Initial Thoughts on Echoes from the Oasis by A.R. Tirant #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I started reading the next book on my tour of Historical Fiction Around the World. I’m on page 195 of 351 in the paperback of Echoes from the Oasis by A.R. Tirant. This book is fairly well written and edited, although like most books there are few editorial tweaks I’d make if I’d been tasked with editing the story. There is a Glossary consisting of a few pages of terms, mostly words in the language of The Seychelles, which I found useful to read before since the author sprinkles the terms throughout the book.

The story is written using multiple points of view, not just the one of the primary character, Anna. Instead, Tirant shares views of the places and happenings on the islands of The Seychelles from a variety of people tangentially related to Anna. She’s also jumping around in the timeline as she tells the story of life on the islands. Tirant is well versed and shares within the pages of this story the details of the place, politics, history, and people.

My sense of the book at this point is that Tirant loves life on those islands so much she had to write a book about it. The setting is described in lush details so much that I feel like I can see the place as if in my memories of having visited. I haven’t been there, or even to that part of the world, so her descriptions are truly powerful. There are definitely long passages of description of the area and the food, for example. For some readers, they may find it’s perhaps too much description of the place and not enough of the people, in particular of Anna and her story. I’ll know better how all of this ties together after I finish reading the book, of course, so stay tuned until next time when I can give you my more thorough impressions of the story.

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.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

2020 Rone Award Finalist!

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

Cover of Charmed Against All Odds showing a young couple in love, and a charm bracelet.

Loving her brings out the magic in him…

Roxie Golden enjoys running Roseville’s bookstore and weaving helpful magical spells. Then her beloved ex-fiancé strolls back into her life with a gift that includes a mysterious treasure hunt they must work together to complete.

Leo King never planned to return to Roseville nor to Roxie but before he can escape town, he must satisfy his warlock father’s final wish: deliver the enigmatic box to Roxie’s bookstore.

When Roxie opens the box, revealing an enchanted bracelet and a quest spell, his chance to escape vanishes. Trapped in a reluctant partnership, he risks everything—including his heart—for a second chance.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes and Noble     Kobo     Apple     Google Books     Bookshop

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

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

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

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

Author Social Links:  Twitter * Instagram

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is 1910 and Philadelphia is burning.

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

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

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

Buy Links: BlackstonePublishing

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

Happy reading!

Betty

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

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

My Impressions of The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I have finished reading The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch, which turned out to be an interesting story. If you missed my initial thoughts, you can find them here.

Cover of The Year of Living Dangerously. At top, silhouetted puppets. At bottom, a man holding a cigarette while facing a cat.

The main characters in this story are two men, one a tall man and the other a dwarf, and a beautiful woman. As I read, I envisioned Peter Dinklage as the dwarf, mainly because he’s my favorite actor with that distinctive physique. I love his personality, his world view as expressed through his characters. Imagine my surprise when I checked out IMDB to see if he played Billy Kwan in the 1982 movie, only to find Linda Hunt played Billy Kwan. Wow. That would change the dynamics of the love triangle in the story! Now I want to watch the movie to see what the director did…

Anyway, back to the story as written by Christopher J. Koch. I admit this is not my typical reading selection. It’s a rather dark, political tale with commensurate tension, intrigue, and some violence. It bills itself as a romance: “A compelling tale of romance amid the political turmoil of twentieth-century Indonesia.” While it does indeed include romance, I’d argue it’s more of a bromance in that it delves into the changing relationship between Guy Hamilton and Billy Kwan, and how they feel about Jill Bryant. More time is spent talking about the reporters and the politically oriented characters than about any woman-man romantic tale. To me, that thread is a sidelight, not the focus of the story.

I learned a good deal about life during the 1960s in Indonesia, especially as seen through Western eyes. The language, the landscape, and how people survived some very difficult times all combined to create the somewhat “murky” atmosphere of the story. I had a sense of how I felt watching Casablanca, the somewhat fuzzy, blurred gray of the black-and-white movie. Almost as if watching through a smoke screen, making it difficult to truly understand what you’re viewing.

I’ve recommended my husband to read The Year of Living Dangerously, as it’s more his type of story than mine. However, like I said, I enjoyed the story. Koch did a fine job of writing it, of creating distinctive characters with their unique dialogue patterns. And using a narrator as active character was an effective story-telling device, one I don’t see often.

Next up is Echoes from the Oasis by A.R. Tirant. Tirant was born in the Seychelles and now lives in England. The story is also set on an island in the Seychelles, off the east coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. I’ve dipped my toes into the story so will have more next time!

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.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

Cover of Emily's Vow. A man and woman facing each other with an American flag in the background.

As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence.

Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.

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Getting to know Shelley Justice #author #contemporary #romance #fiction #books

My guest today embodies the spirit of never giving up and believing in yourself. And all wrapped up in a sweet and fun woman! Come on and meet author Shelley Justice and find out exactly what I mean. First, here’s a glance at her bio and then we’ll meet her and her latest book release.

Shelley Justice is a Southern belle who lives with her husband and two children in northern Alabama. Her love for the written word inspired her to start writing when she was thirteen years old, and she’s been living in her imagination and crafting stories ever since. In addition to being a bookworm, she is a self-proclaimed TV addict with a special affinity for dramas. She also loves romantic movies, especially of the black-and-white variety.

Author Social Links:  Facebook * Instagram

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

Shelley: This is a part of my series, and Brick is a popular character among readers of the series. When I began, I never intended for him to have a book all his own, but the more I wrote in the series, the more I liked this character and wanted to explore his story.

Betty: Which character arrived fully or mostly developed?

Shelley: Both of the main characters, Brick and Hope, were fully developed when I started writing. I liked the idea of an opposites attract trope for these two, and it worked well.

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

Shelley: Hope owns a bridal boutique and designs her own wedding gowns. This was inspired by my love for the television show Say Yes to the Dress.

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

Shelley: The antagonist. I won’t say who this person is because there’s a reveal close to the end. But this character was sort of a “throwaway” character, as I call them, one meant to add something to a more important character and then the throwaway character is gone and probably forgotten. It wasn’t until the midpoint of the book that I realized this character needed a more prominent role in the story. It meant having to go back and add some hints in what I’d already written, but I was glad I did.

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

Shelley: I didn’t do a lot of research before I started writing. I usually wait until a particular question comes to mind, and then I disappear down a rabbit hole of internet searches. There are some characters who work as commercial realtors, so I had to do some research into their licensing and qualifications.

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

Shelley: Two read-throughs and edits of the whole thing, start to finish. Multiple edits of particular scenes as I was writing. Something would occur to me, and I’d either go back and work it out in another scene so I could move forward, or I would make a note to edit that scene once I finished. Sometimes I have to edit as I go, otherwise I get stuck on something and can’t concentrate enough to move on.

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

Shelley: About three months. Maybe a little more. Since I write part-time, it usually takes me three or four months to write a first draft, but that’s if the characters cooperate. I’ve had one or two in the series to take longer because the characters wouldn’t follow the story I had in mind. The longest amount of time it’s taken me to complete a first draft has been over a year.

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

Shelley: I start with a list of characters and descriptions. Sometimes I find photos of random people online to provide me a visual of what the characters look like. Then I just start writing and see where the words take me. Sometimes I’ll have an inkling of how I want the main characters to meet, but the rest comes when it comes.

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

Shelley: That is a BIG one. Smile or look/gaze/stare is another. I have an eye fetish I’ve discovered. LOL!

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

Shelley: My mentor, Maryann Jordan, is one I look up to. She and I have become great friends, and she’s been so patient in answering my endless questions about her writing career and her process. She’s published over 70 books and doesn’t have plans to stop. That’s a goal I’d like to shoot for. I also look up to Dolly Parton. She’s a Southern gal with sass and style and a don’t-care attitude that I wish I had. But I love her work with the Imagination Library and with literacy.

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

Shelley: Because I write part-time, I write everywhere. In the car, in the living room piled up on my recliners, in waiting rooms, you name it. Revising I prefer to do while I’m at home. Reading is something I do everywhere. If I’m bored, then I look for something to read usually.

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

Shelley: I work in marketing for a community college. I never thought this would be a career I enjoyed, but I do. I have time for writing, but I’m able to be creative. I’ve also met some incredible people along the way.

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

Shelley: Actually, publishing that first book. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was thirteen, but it never seemed to be the right time. I allowed my doubts about whether my writing was good enough or whether anyone would want to read it keep me from considering publishing an option. I don’t know how many times I almost talked myself out of doing it, but I have so many supportive people in my “tribe” who wouldn’t let me give up. It’s only been two years, but I’ve learned so much since that first book.

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

Shelley: Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird. That book has always been a favorite of mine, and her story has always fascinated me. She’s an author from Alabama, which is my home state as well, and she just always seemed like someone who would shoot straight from the hip, as my grandmother would say. I admire people like that.

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

Shelley: I have set goals for my writing career, but I don’t believe meeting those goals would mean success for me as much as they would be a source of personal pride. Success for me is a single image I’ve had in my head a long time – to be in a library, to see my book on a shelf and to hear one reader (who doesn’t know me personally) to recommend the book to another reader. Knowing I created something that someone enjoyed enough to recommend it would be a humbling and joyful moment.

Hope Robertson has carefully thought out every aspect of her life. That plan does not include losing her mind, and she had a to-do list to prove it. Someone is disrupting her orderly life in ways so subtle no one believes they are anything more than just flukes. But she has no time for chaos, so she heads to the security firm next door for help.

After a successful military career, Brick Coffey landed at Knight Security and Investigations, and discovered a job he loves. He never imagined he could need or want more in his life — until he sees her. One quick look through the boutique window, and Brick can’t forget the vision dressed in a brilliant white wedding dress. He knows she is out of his league, but when she hires KSI to protect her, he can’t stay away from her.

Hope is French food and fine wine. Brick is barbecue and beer. He’s everything she thinks she doesn’t want. She’s everything he didn’t realize he had been missing. He’ll stop at nothing to protect her because when this case is over, he plans to show her they are more right than wrong.

Buy Links: Amazon

Thanks for swinging by, Shelley! I’m glad you didn’t give up and followed your heart. Your readers thank you, too!

Happy reading, everyone!

Betty

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

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

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

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My Initial Thoughts on The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I started reading The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch, who was born in Hobart, Australia. It’s an interesting read so far, although I have to say yet again it doesn’t quite fit the idea of being historical fiction. Let me explain.

The story is set in 1965 Indonesia. As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Anil’s Ghost in this series, the accepted definition of historical fiction is set at least 50 years prior to the present. The first publication date of this book is 1978 in Great Britain by Penguin Books. So, that means this story was written as contemporary fiction, not historical since it was published only 13 years after the story date. However, from this reader’s point of view, it’s set more than 50 years from today, so I’ll count it for my purposes.

This paperback book is 278 pages long, with an Author’s Note detailing a couple of sources for the story content. Other than that, no other supporting material is provided. It’s divided into three parts: Patet Nem: Hamilton’s Dwarf (112 pages); Patet Sanga: Water from the Moon (94 pages); and Patet Manjura; Amok (71 pages). I always find it interesting to look at the parts of a book when it’s divided up into sections like this. You may remember I did the same in my discussion about The Stationery Shop a few weeks ago. Here, the length of each part decreases as the story progresses. I’m currently on page 137, in Patet Sanga, so I don’t have a feel yet for the reasoning behind the sections. I’ll share my thoughts on that in the Impressions post next time.

One very interesting device the author is using is that of a narrator as a character in the story. His name is Cookie but so far I don’t know very much about him. He’s apparently a foreign news reporter like the character Guy, and he’s observing the relationship of the three main characters: Guy Hamilton, Billy Kwan (cameraman for Guy), and Jill Bryant (the woman the other two men love). I admit to being baffled at first by who was narrating the story because Cookie has insights into all three of the main characters but in a way that’s far more analytical than someone involved at the time of the story. Instead, the narrator has the benefit of hindsight knowing, able to provide the context of their actions and what those actions lead to in the future of the story. I think it took me several chapters to discern the narrator as a fourth character relating the story after the fact.

I should finish reading the book in a few days, so will have my Impressions of the overall story for you next time.

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.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence.

Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.

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Audiobook Also Available at Google Play     Scribd    Lantern Audio    Audiobooks.com

Introducing Bertha Woods from The Banker’s Wife by Tina Susedik #author #romance #historical #western #suspense #fiction #amreading

My guest today is a strong female character from Tina Susedik’s The Banker’s Wife. Sometimes survival means doing something we regret and yet wouldn’t change. Let’s meet Bertha Woods and find out more about her choices. Take a quick peek at Tina’s bio and then we’ll jump right in.

Tina Susedik is an award-winning, Amazon best-selling, multi-published author with books in both fiction and non-fiction, including history, children’s, military books and romances. Her favorite is writing romantic suspense where her characters live happily ever after with a lot of problems to overcome to get there. Tina also writes spicier romance as Anita Kidesu. She lives in northwestern Wisconsin where winters are long, summers short, and spring and fall beautiful.

Author Social Links: Website * Facebook * Pinterest

Betty: How would you describe your childhood?

Bertha: A mix of joy and anger. I was the happiest when I was at Mamaw and Papaw’s farm where I could fish, learn cook, sew, and knit. Even though I had to help with chores, most of the time I didn’t have to wear shoes and was allowed to ride astride my horse. The saddest was when I had to go back home and have to deal with my mother and society. I hated the balls and soirees, wearing corsets, acting prim and proper.

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

Bertha: I had twelve years of schooling. I was then to teach at a country school, but I was forced to marry before I had a chance.

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

Bertha: James Woods. I thought it was pleasant, but it didn’t ignite any sparks like I read about in my dime novels.

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

Bertha: I think it was turning back into the person I was before my husband changed me. He was a not a nice man at all.

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

Bertha: Having James kneel before me at a country dance and propose to me while the man I loved watched.

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

Bertha: Do what I wanted and not what my mother forced me to do. I would have taught and probably married Sy Anderson.

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

Bertha: My greatest fear was that I would never be loved. I think Mamaw knew.

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

Bertha: Not much. James saw to it that I had no friends.

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

Bertha: I’m close to Mama and Papaw, but not Mother and Father. I wish my mother would have let me be me, but her machinations will never make that possible.

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

Bertha: Kind, caring, loves to joke around, accepts my ideas and thoughts. Treats me as a partner, not something he owns.

Betty:How do you like to relax? What kind of entertainment do you enjoy?

Bertha: I relax by knitting. I love to dance, but once we were married, James never wanted to.

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

Bertha: I wouldn’t be such a harpy. I would stand up for myself, even if it meant retaliation from James. I’d be friendlier.

Betty: What do you think you’re good at? Bad at?

Bertha: I’m good at knitting and, when given the chance, cooking. I’m bad at making friends.

Betty: What items do you carry in your pockets or handbag?

Bertha: In my small reticule, I have a handkerchief and the few coins James gives me.

Betty: What foods and beverages do you routinely have in your refrigerator?

Bertha: I don’t know what a refrigerator is. Since James or my mother never let me cook, I have no idea what is in the icebox.

Alone. Always alone. Alone because she’d killed him. She was a murderess, and the worst part was her remorse was the size of a flake of gold.

Married to a man she didn’t choose, Bertha Woods is unprepared for her husband’s cruelty turning her from a sweet, innocent girl who is happiest out on the farm, to a cold-hearted, lonely, society harridan. Always thinking of her first love, for twenty years she bears his scams, beatings, and hatred until she takes matters into her own hands.

Can she return to being the kind-hearted, happy woman she once was? Will she ever find love and happiness with the horse trainer who enters her life?

Travel back to Deadwood, South Dakota in 1879, and meet the characters who live and work with Bertha Woods, The Banker’s Wife.

Purchase links: Amazon * Books2Read

Thanks for stopping by to tell your story, Bertha. And thanks to Tina for encouraging you to come join me today.

Happy reading, all!

Betty

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

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

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

Follow Me on Amazon / Facebook / Twitter

My Impression of Cut from the Earth by Stephanie Renee dos Santos #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I have finished reading Cut from the Earth by Stephanie Renee Dos Santos (The Tile Maker series Book 1). Last week I mentioned that Ms. Dos Santos is from South America but it turns out I am wrong on that score. She’s a “native of the United States” but has lived in other countries, gaining first-hand experience with various cultures. That makes two authors I have mistaken as from other countries than mine. But the stories have been good, so I’ll share this one with you as well.

The story is written from multiple points of view (POVs), giving both male and female perspectives on events in the 1750s in Lisbon. In particular, the story focuses on the aftermath of a massive earthquake in November 1755. So much so that I found myself thinking of the story as a disaster movie/book. The author spent many chapters on how the characters dealt with struggling back to some kind of normalcy after devastating loss and destruction.

While the main thread of the story is about how a tile making shop owners use their income to free slaves by purchasing them from their masters, I found myself more intrigued by a separate, more subtle theme.

Throughout the story, the main characters—there are three of them: Padre Peros; Rafa; and Phaulina—all reflect on the source of their inspiration to create designs for the tiles. Through their eyes, I could see how they used their unique view of the world around them, the details others may not notice, to combine into a design, a picture, a texture. I found myself recalling the number of times I’ve been asked as a writer of fiction where I get my ideas. My best answer is from the world around me. Newspaper articles, news articles on the TV, history books, even other books and the movies I enjoy. All provide tidbits of ideas that I then piece together, like using bits of glass to create a mosaic, fashioning a new story to share with my readers. In Cut from the Earth, Dos Santos has done the same thing through her characters. Illuminated the process of inspiration and how it leads to creation.

The story was well written, and definitely researched into the finer details of tile making in the 18th century. I could quibble with some of the typos and editorial errors I spotted here and there, but the story taught me a lot about Lisbon in the 1750s. (Seeing surface errors like that is an editor’s skill and bane all at once! Skill when editing someone else’s work; bane when simply trying to read for enjoyment.) I don’t believe I’ve read any other stories set in Portugal, come to think of it.

When I embarked on my literary journey around the world, at least as far as location if not author origin, I hadn’t anticipated how much I’d learn. I’ll have to compile a list of everything I’ve learned through this endeavor as a wrap up post when I finish my tour. That and a list of all of the blog posts in order in case you missed any of them.

So, what’s up next you may be asking… I’ve selected a title I’ve heard about but haven’t read yet. And I’ve verified that the author is not from the USA, too. <grin> I’m going to start The Year of Living Dangerously by Christopher J. Koch, who was born in Hobart, Australia. It’s an award-winning book, so I’m curious to find out what I learn from reading it…

Be sure to check out the first book in my American Revolution historical romance series, which is discounted this month. I did a lot of research before writing that series, including a couple of trips to Charleston, South Carolina, to do some in-person exploring. More info is below.

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.

On sale for only $1.99 (ebook)!

As the American Revolution drags on, Charles Town, South Carolina, remains under siege by the British, and one woman’s father is determined to marry her off to a suspected traitor. Emily Sullivan is beset from all sides but vows to fight her own war for independence.

Frank Thomson walks a fine line between spying for the Americans and being a perceived loyalist traitor. Posing as a simple printer of broadsheets and pamphlets, he sends crucial encrypted intelligence to the general camped outside of town. But when Frank learns Emily has been imprisoned by the enemy, he risks his own life, freedom, and heart for hers.

Books2Read     Barnes and Noble      Amazon      Apple     Kobo     Google Books     Bookshop

Audiobook Also Available at Google Play     Scribd    Lantern Audio    Audiobooks.com

Introducing What A Day! Short Stories by Southern Writers #amwriting #amreading #story #books #mustread #fiction

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, then you know that my Friday blog is dedicated to introducing new authors and their works. This Friday is no different in that I’m introducing some new authors but it’s very different because I’m sharing with you a collection of short stories by a group of authors. I’m very excited about being included in this anthology of short stories, too!

This collection of 11 stories features writers ranging from USA and NYT best-sellers to brand new authors. But every single story is worth your time, in my opinion. Several include inexplicable creatures, some include romance, some include mysterious doings. All are fun to read and written for a PG audience.

The best-sellers include Linda Howard, Linda Winstead-Jones, and Bonnie Gardner. These three authors have been publishing great stories for decades! The new authors, learning the ropes of the publishing industry with this anthology, include Crystal R. Lee and C.S. Ward. I’m sure after you read their stories you’ll hope, like me, that they keep on writing! In between, you have 6 multi-published authors, some with awards, all with some great reviews, writing in different genres.

My story is called “The Perfect Birthday Gift” and I had a blast writing this story. In writing it, I really became more intimately acquainted with Myrtle and Meg Marple, the scullery maids in my Fury Falls Inn series. They always seemed rather on the sidelines and I wanted to understand why they’d chosen to work at the inn in the kitchen. Who were they really? They have a few surprises to deal with, too!

Here is the story description of “The Perfect Birthday Gift” in case you’re curious (I hope so!):

Myrtle Marple anticipates spending her 21st birthday in 1821 relaxing at home with her sister in their Alabama cottage. But when an Elven Envoy sparkles into her living room with a very special surprise gift from her deceased parents, her life changes forever.

You can only read this story within the pages of the What A Day! anthology, so please reserve your copy today! You won’t regret it!

Thanks and 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.

Releases April 5, 2022! Available for Pre-order Now!

Southern hospitality is alive and well. In this anthology you may find a little old, a little new, and perhaps some mysterious doings. How about a ghost — or was it a ghost pepper? Was that a witch, a sprite, an elf, or a seer? You may be looking for a beautiful garden, a mint julep, or a jazz festival. Come on down! Bless your heart, you may never want to leave.

What A Day! is a collection of stories about special, memorable days in the lives of an eclectic, quirky mix of characters. You’ll enjoy fantasy, romance, historical, and more by best-selling authors like Linda Howard and Linda Winstead Jones as well as newer authors, none of which you’ll want to miss! Come laugh, cry, gasp, and smile your way through these fun, light-hearted, suspenseful, and intriguing stories.

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