Don’t Say That! Light and #Lighting in #historical #fiction #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

How many times have you seen or read about the man with a long taper lighting the street lamps in some work of fiction? In my humble experience, it’s an uncountable number. The image is just part of the stage setting to suggest times gone by. So I was rather surprised to find that “streetlamp” was anachronistic to my 1780s series.

The usage of street lamp is documented in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in 1799, so it’s not too much later. Specifically it’s found in C.B. Brown’s Arthur Mervyn in a line which includes “by gleams from a street lamp.”

I could use street light, but not street lamp. Note that the OED defines a street-light as a window onto a street, but also as a street lamp.

What about inside? I wanted a candle to serve as a “night-light” but found I couldn’t do that either. The term existed, mind you, but it referred to ambient light at nighttime. But not when used in conjunction with a candle as “a light which burns or shines during the night” (1839) or as “a small thick candle, or other contrivance, constructed to burn dimly for a long period, and used by night, especially in sick-rooms” (1851).

So I thought I’d change the wording and just refer to the candleholder with its candle burning through the night. But hold up a minute. While the term again existed, the OED says it refers to “One who holds a candle” not an object. The candelabrum or “ornamental branched candlestick holding a number of candles; a chandelier” didn’t appear until 1815. However, “candlestick” is far older, dating from the 1st century, so that was a viable option for my stories.

I stumbled upon this word in relation to another usage. I had a character who did something “out of reflex” but found out that I couldn’t use that word in that way in the 18th century. It was common for this word to mean reflect and reflection but not an instinctual or physical reaction to a stimuli. Or as the OED defines it:

Phys. a. reflex action, involuntary action of a muscle, gland, or other organ, caused by the excitation of a sensory nerve being transmitted to a nerve-centre, and then ‘reflected’ along an efferent nerve to the organ in question”

1833 Proc. Royal Soc. III. 210 He [Dr. M. Hall] distinguishes muscular actions into three kinds: thirdly, those resulting from the reflex action above described…

So of course I had to revise my sentence to use a different word for my purpose. But I also learned something about why a reflex is called one: because it reflects the action similar to light on a mirror. Interesting little factoid, eh?

Finally, I found semidarkness, meaning partial darkness, to be a surprise. The OED doesn’t include it but at they cite it as first being recorded in 1840-50. I suppose they simply said partial darkness prior to the mid-19th century? Or “as darkness approached” or some such phrasing?

Isn’t it intriguing and amazing to think about how words and phrases have come to pass? How they’ve changed and adapted to suit our needs as those needs also evolve?

Next time I’ll talk about what I think of as “military” words. Happy reading!


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

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Don’t Say That! Evolution of Spelling in #historical #fiction #wordplay #vocabularly #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Did you know that usage of words evolves over time? Not necessarily the letters used but how they are joined together? Compound words today are often evolved from two separate words, then maybe joined by a hyphen, before becoming one continuous string of letters. Let’s take a look at a few to give you an example.

Before I do that, though, let me just say that while the precise spelling of a word—or rather whether a word includes a hyphen or a space—may vary, the meaning is still clear to a modern reader. I know that without any doubt. The only reason I prefer to explore the “current usage” at the time of my stories is to add another layer of realism to the fiction. Since I write in close third person point of view, I try very hard to think like my character. Wouldn’t he or she then envision the spelling of the word using a hyphen, or making it two separate words entirely? Again, while a modern reader wouldn’t notice, I’m striving to create a semblance of the past within a story written today.

So, one of my favorite discoveries was that the word Thoroughbred did not exist in the 1780s, the time of my A More Perfect Union historical romance series. But one of my sources declared that two thoroughbred horses arrived by ship in December 1782 in Charleston. Since I knew the word hadn’t come to be yet, I needed to see for myself how the secondary source knew they were Thoroughbreds. Thankfully, the secondary source cited the primary source newspaper article. So when I made a second research trip to Charleston (love that city!), I went to the Historical Society and asked to see the newspaper article. I cannot tell you just how anxious I was to see that few inches of newspaper column, either! It took what seemed ages before the librarian came back with the paper and I quickly skimmed the text until I came upon the fact that “two thorough bred horses” had indeed arrived in South Carolina.

A closer look at the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) shows that “thorough-bred” meaning “thoroughly educated or accomplished” has been around at least since 1701. The OED also says that “of a horse” to mean “a race-horse whose pedigree for a given number of generations is recorded in the studbook” didn’t begin until 1796, and then hyphenated as “Thorough-bred.” As I said, I’ve seen the term used with regard to horses as two separate words, lower cased. So there is some doubt as to the exact lineage of the word, including whether to hyphenate it or not. Indeed, the OED definition shows the term hyphenated until the 1880s. Thus it becomes more of a stylistic choice than a matter of correct or incorrect usage. (Something I’ve found to be true of commas quite often, but that’s a debate for another day!)

English Water Spaniel-1
English Water Spaniel

Okay, so I wanted to have a dog in one story. I love dogs, so why shouldn’t my characters, right? Besides, Samantha needed a friend… So I thought about a rather generic description of a terrier dog as a “black-and-tan” but found out in short order that the adjectival phrase didn’t come into use until 1850. There are other definitions in the OED (an alcoholic drink and an armed forces unit), but all dated later, some with hyphens and some as individual words. Why couldn’t I use the colors as I wanted to? I suppose I could have, but then wondered whether it would be outside of the realm of possibilities for my characters. Now, I could have gone round and round debating whether or not I should use it despite what the OED implied, and finally decided to come up with a different dog! It was easier. So I did some research and discovered the English Water Spaniel, a breed now extinct or at least assimilated into other spaniel breeds. From my perspective, it’s a double win. I found a historically accurate pup for Samantha and I learned something about how dog breeds have changed over the centuries.

“Good night” is another interesting term, since the OED cites Chaucer in 1374 as having used it in his Troylus. Note he used it as two separate words, but the OED cites many examples of hyphenated usage. From what I can glean, two words is generally used when wishing someone to have a “good night” but people will say their “good-nights” before going to taking their leave of others. A little mixed usage never confused anyone, right? Looks like another stylistic choice to be made.

I can think of more recent examples of how people change the spelling of words over time. Electronic mail used to be “Email” or “E-mail.” Now I see it frequently as “email.” Same sort of thing happened to being “on-line” or “online.” Can you think of any other recent examples of word evolution?

I’ll let you all ponder word evolution until next week!


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Elizabeth's HopeThe fight for independence has become personal… Elizabeth Sullivan feared for her brothers, fighting for American freedom; for her father, pretending to be a loyalist; for family and friends, caught between beliefs; but mostly for Jedediah Thomson, the man she loves, who was doing his duty. They’d only begun their courtship when the occupation of Charles Town, South Carolina, trapped her in the city and sent him to fight. She cherished every moment they had together, knowing how swiftly it could be taken away. And that made her willing to risk everything to claim a piece of him forever….


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Don’t Say That! “Highlighting” Word Choices in #historical #fiction #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Let’s talk about words like “accentuate” or “underscore” that evolved from typesetting, or at least that’s my shorthand way of grouping these words together for my purposes.

I enjoy the sound of “accentuate” – meaning emphasize – and really wanted to use it in my 18th-century historicals, but alas it was not to be. Sure, it existed as a word but not to mean what I meant. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) told me I had to wait until the mid-19th century to use it that way:

1. To pronounce, or distinguish with an accent.

1731 Bailey, Accentuate: to pronounce in reading or speaking according to the accent.    1827 Hare Guesses at Truth II. 212 They [the French] never accentuate their words or their feelings: all is in the same key; a cap is charmant, so is Raphael’s Transfiguration.    1880 Paper & Printing Trades Journ. xxx. 7 You will find that he accentuates his words‥quite naturally.

  1. To mark with the written accent.

1846 T. Wright Ess. on Mid. Ages I. i. 9 The [Anglo-Saxon] scribes not only omitted accents, but they often accentuated words wrongly.

  1. fig. To mark strongly, emphasize.

1865 Lecky Rationalism I. 371 To accentuate strongly the antagonism by which human nature is convulsed.    1875 Hamerton Intellect. Life vii. v. 254 His marriage would strongly accentuate the amateur character of his position.

Okay, fine. How about “stressed”? You know, “she stressed how important his next words would be…” Well, no. That’s even later in the 19th century!

1. Distressed, afflicted. Also absol. Obs.

1559 J. Aylmer Harborowe B 3 b, With a certain choise and judgement to giue passage and safetie to the stressed.    1590 Spenser F.Q. ii. x. 37 Stird with pitty of the stressed plight Of this sad realme.    c 1590 J. Stewart Poems (S.T.S.) II. 88 The stressit knycht all stupefact did stand.    1632 Lithgow Trav. vii. 328 Stress’d Saylers.

2. Marked with a stress, emphasized.

1885 Meredith Diana i, The stressed repetition of calculated brevity while a fiery scandal was abroad concerning the lady.    1913 A. C. Clark Prose Rhythm in English 18 Rhythm in poetry depends upon the recurrence of longs and shorts, or stressed and unstressed syllables, in a regular order.

So, then what if I used “underscore”? Would that work? Hardly… The figurative sense of “emphasize” is even later than “stressed” in entry to English written language. And if you look closely at the figurative 1891 usage its really reflecting the act of putting a line under the words moreso than the true figurative sense of emphasize, which isn’t reflected in the OED until 1939. So to be safe, I chose to not use it in my 18th-century historicals.

Verb. a. trans. To draw a score or line beneath; to underline.

1771 Luckombe Hist. Print. 249 [They] either underscore the word, or make some other token, which may inform the Compositor of the Author’s intention.    1838 Lytton Alice xi. v, The notice to Howard, with the name of Vargrave underscored, was still on the panels.    1874 Blackie Self-Cult. 35 Underscore these distinctly with pen or pencil.

b. fig. To point up, to emphasize, to reinforce; = underline v.2 1 b.

1891 W. S. Gilbert Rosencrantz & G. iii, He who doth so mark, label, and underscore his antic speeches.  1939 Sun (Baltimore) 17 Apr. 8/2 A look at the gold statistics underscores the fears which are so often expressed on this score.

A couple of other words surprised me that I had wanted to use but found couldn’t without being anachronistic. Typeset and typesetter, for example. These show up in the OED but without a date of origin, so I bounced over to and looked them up. “Typesetter” didn’t become a thing until 1825-1835, and “typesetting” was first recorded in 1855. Mind blown that it took that long for those seemingly basic words to enter English.

One last one that surprised me. “Showcase.” I admit I do not remember specifically how I wanted to use this word, whether as an actual case for displaying stuff or the figurative sense, but it didn’t much matter once I checked it in the OED. No form or usage of it entered English until 1835. This is a good example of one of the kinds of words I’ll talk more about next time, since it’s original usage included a hyphen, as in “show-case” or even “show~case”.

Until next week when I’ll talk more about how two words slowly evolve into one! Happy reading!


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Evelyn's PromiseDetermined to fend for herself in an independent America, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-Revolutionary-war inflation as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son. Militiaman Nathaniel Williams finds his heart ensnared by the smart, beautiful widow, forcing him to make the hardest decision of his life.




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Don’t Say That! Make-Believe and other theatrics in #historical #fiction #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Let’s play some make-believe, shall we? Oh, but wait! I really wanted to have one of my characters in my A More Perfect Union pretend or make-believe something was true when it was not. But the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)  told me I couldn’t. Really?

  1. Pretence

1811 L. M. Hawkins C’tess & Gertr. (1812) IV. 62, I was drest like Minerva,‥and then the little ones came and worshipped me: ’twas all make-believe, you see.    1811 Morn. Chron. 9 Apr., Her mourning is all make-believe, She’s gay as any linnet.    1818 Lamb Three Friends, Not that she did really grieve It was only make-believe.

So if I couldn’t even have my character make-believe, what other theatrical limitations did I stumble upon? You may be surprised by some of them! I’ll start with one that really gave me pause: backdrop. This to be used as in the sky provided a stunning backdrop to the view of the lake, so something like that. This term comes directly from the theatre as a synonym of backcloth. But note the date associated with it in the OED:

2. Theatr. The painted cloth hung across the back of the stage as the principal part of the scenery. Also transf. and fig.

1886 Cornh. Mag. Oct. 435 They gazed awestruck at the backcloth and the flies.    1926 Spectator 10 July 44/2 Thirty acres or so for a stage and the whole firmament of heaven for a back-cloth. …

Note also that it wasn’t used figuratively until 1926 to mean something behind not an actual cloth used for setting.  So I thought about using “background” instead. On first glance, the OED tells me that it was used in the theatre in 1672 as stage direction and as a part of the stage, essentially. But…when I looked more closely, it wasn’t used in the figurative sense until 1799 or 1824, depending on whether Elvira is being given stage direction or not.

1.a. The ground or surface lying at the back of or behind the chief objects of contemplation, which occupy the foreground. (Formerly, the part of the stage in a theatre remote from the audience.)

1672 Wycherley Love in Wood iii. ii, Ranger retires to the background.    1799 Sheridan Pizarro i. i. (1883) 182 Elvira walks about pensively in the background.    1824 Miss Mitford Village Ser. i. (1863) 109 The low cottage in the back-ground.

Another phrase I enjoy saying is “disappearing act” but unfortunately that didn’t hit the books until 1913 and “façade” in the figurative sense of pretending to be something you’re not, having a false face/front, didn’t until 1845. Again I was left to use a broader set of descriptors or change what I said about the character and his motives or actions.

Which all combines to make writing historical fiction both a challenge and a wordsmithing exercise. I love word games, so I’m up for the challenge!

Next week I’ll look into the “typesetting” related words I had to avoid. Think about what those might be in the meantime!


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

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

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




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Don’t Say That! Hike Her Skirt and other activities in #historical #fiction #wordplay #amwriting #amediting #mustread #histfic

Some concepts you’d think had been around forever. But I was surprised when I learned that a woman didn’t “hike” her skirt in the 18th century. I mean, it’s in so much fiction that I made the assumption it was authentic to the time. Only I was dead wrong. I don’t like being wrong, but in this word sleuthing I came upon that reality more than once, let me tell you!

Let’s start with the fact that the earliest recorded use of the word “hike” in my OED to mean “walk or march vigorously or laboriously” or “to walk for pleasure” is in 1809. So my A More Perfect Union historical romances set in the 1780s couldn’t use that word to even mean to go out into nature and take a long walk. The part about pulling up clothing? Not so fast! Here’s what the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)  has to say:

b. intr. To work upwards out of place. Const. up.

c 1873 Schele de Vere MS. Notes 488 (D.A.E.), What makes y[ou]r dress hike up so?    1890 Amer. Dialect Notes I. 61 The curtain hikes or hikes up.    1902 G. H. Lorimer Lett. Merchant ix. 119 We boys who couldn’t walk across the floor without feeling that our pants had hiked up till they showed our feet to the knee,‥didn’t like him.    1948 Sat. Even. Post 4 Dec. 127/2 When I sit down, it hikes up.

1873! That’s nearly a century after my stories. Hearty sigh. So instead of the one word, I had to use something like “she grabbed her skirt to lift it up out of her way as she climbed the stairs.” I guess there’s a reason we get around to using “hike” as shorthand! Like when you raise a price, it gets hiked up, so do the pant legs and skirts. But not until late 19th century. So.

Other words related to activities and games I had to find replacements for include acrobatic (b1861), catapulted (as a verb, b1848), cartwheeled (as a verb, b1864), cavort (b1794), and swat (b1796). A couple others I want to talk more about, but you can see here why checking most every word I write (at least until I became more familiar with which ones I needed to avoid!) became important. Unless we’re talking the articles (i.e., the, a, an). Those didn’t change from the earliest times as far as I can tell.

Let’s look a bit more closely at two other words that we use today without a blink of an eye but weren’t used in the same way in the 1700s.

First up, “scan.” As a verb meaning to look over quickly, like scanning the crowd or the sky. A synonym is “skim” which became my replacement word after I dug into scan a bit more to find out when in time I could use it as a verb. The OED:

6. a. To look at searchingly, examine with the eyes.

1798 S. Lee Canterb. T., Young Lady’s T. ii. 251 His wild‥eyes now scanned heaven impatiently.    1810 Scott Lady of L. ii. xxi, While Roderick scann’d, For her dear form, his mother’s band.    1840 Dickens Barn. Rudge ii, ‘Humph’, he said, when he had scanned his features, ‘I don’t know you’. …

b. To search (literature, a text, a list, etc.) quickly or systematically for particular information or features.

1926 Rec. Geol. Surv. India LIX. 202 On scanning this table it will be observed that the pyrope molecule is present in quantity‥only in one garnet.    1950 Amer. Documentation I. 81 The rapid selector employs an optical-electronic system for scanning a reel of motion picture film on which are entered both abstracts and corresponding index entries. …

So at the earliest, the story had to take place in 1798 for scan to not be anachronistic for my characters. So instead, I used “perused” or “skimmed” or “let his gaze drift over the crowd” or some such descriptive passage.

The other word I want to point out is “handshake.” As a noun, it first appeared in 1873:

a. A shake of the hand: cf. hand-shaking.

1873 Tristram Moab xviii. 344, I gave him a hearty hand⁓shake.    1878 Browning Poets Croisic 130 Let me return your handshake!

But then as a verb, it’s even later:

[Back-formation from hand-shaking.]

intr. To shake hands. So ˈhandˌshaker.

1898 H. James Two Magics 8 We handshook and ‘candlestuck’, as somebody said, and went to bed.    1905 Westm. Gaz. 2 Nov. 12/1 As the line moves forward each hand-shaker is steadily pushed along.    1928 Daily Express 28 Aug. 8/3 Hearty handshakers. …

So my character couldn’t accept another’s handshake until almost the 20th century. They could, of course, shake hands, clasp hands, etc. Sigh. Are you seeing a trend? I do! People came up with ways to shorten the phrasing to save time and space. Think how we use acronyms/initialisms and emojis today. All to say more in less space. We’re continuing an historical language evolution, my friends.

I was surprised also by the number of words I think of as “theatrical” that were anachronistic for the 1700s. I’ll talk more about those next week. Until then!


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

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

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Tasty Tuesday: Chicken Divan from #contemporary #romance #author Meg Benjamin #dinner #recipe #fiction #books

Gather round for a Tasty Tuesday sure to tempt your senses! Meg Benjamin serves up a brewery based romance, Love on Tap, along with a delicious recipe for Chicken Divan. Sure looks easy to make and you can read while it bakes. Okay, Meg, the stage—or blog—is yours!

I love writing about food because I love to cook. Most of my books have a scene in which the hero or heroine does some cooking, and I’ve done several books (Fearless Love, Hungry Heart, Love in the Morning) in which either the hero or the heroine is a chef—sometimes both! My Brewing Love trilogy for Entangled Publishing (Love On Tap, Saison For Love, Wild Love coming in June), however, centers on brewing beer rather than cooking. At the heart of the trilogy is a struggling craft brewery—Antero Brewing. But as a Colorado resident (the state has over 300 craft breweries), I can guarantee that beer goes well with food, and cooking is definitely part of the Antero, Colorado, scene.

In the first book in the trilogy, Love On Tap, the hero, Wyatt Montgomery, needs to convince the heroine, Bec Dempsey, that he’s a good cook. It’s all part of Wyatt’s plan to purchase Bec’s last barrel of imperial stout for his Denver gastropub. To convince her of his cooking chops, Wyatt promises to cook her a great dinner based only on the ingredients she currently has in her refrigerator. To make things even more interesting, Bec herself is only a rudimentary cook and she’s living in a makeshift apartment above the brewery.

Bec hadn’t been kidding about the inadequacy of her kitchen. Wyatt managed not to grimace as he checked out the equipment. He had indeed worked with worse—he hadn’t been lying. On the other hand, he hadn’t done a great job with worse, and he sure as hell hadn’t been happy doing it. Still, right now he needed to impress her with his skills, and he couldn’t do that by whining.


He opened the smallish refrigerator, checking the meat drawer and the hydrator. Chicken breasts, lettuce, a few stalks of broccoli.


“Where do you keep the rest of the food?” He gave her an encouraging smile. Not a criticism, so help me.


She gestured toward the wall cabinets. “First one on the right is sort of the pantry. I’ve got dishes and pans in the others.”


He nodded, pulling open the pantry door. Sandwich bread, peanut butter, a half-empty jar of blackberry jam. And—oh, thank you, kitchen gods—a bag of noodles. “Okay, one chicken divan coming up.”

Wyatt manages to find all the ingredients he needs in Bec’s kitchen except for sherry—Bec’s a brewmaster, not a wine drinker. But necessity being the mother of invention, he improvises, using a bottle of wheat beer she happens to have on hand. He cooks dinner on Bec’s two-burner hotplate, then watches her reaction as she takes her first bite. If she doesn’t like his cooking, he won’t get her imperial stout, and if he doesn’t get that stout, his gastropub may go under. Which is to say, there’s a lot riding on that first bite:

He carried the plates to the table, sliding into the chair opposite her. “Okay, I’ve never made this with beer before, so I can’t absolutely guarantee it. But it should be edible.”


She gave him a quick smile. “It smells a lot better than that.”


Actually, it was a lot better than that. The beer didn’t have the nutty flavor of the sherry, but it gave the chicken a slightly toasted taste and worked with the cheese sauce. Not bad. Not bad at all.


“This is terrific,” Bec murmured after a couple of bites. “I’m sorry I ever doubted you. You definitely know what you’re doing. You can make dinner for me anytime.”

Wyatt does cook for Bec again, and they have a few more bumps, some of them major, before they seal the deal. But it’s the chicken divan that gets things going. Here’s a modified version, made with sherry since I’m assuming, unlike Wyatt, you’ve got access to a few more ingredients.


Serves 4


1 bunch broccoli, chopped

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 T extra virgin olive oil

3 T butter

3 T flour

3⁄4 c chicken broth

1⁄2 c milk

1⁄3 c sherry

1 c shredded cheese (cheddar or Swiss)

Salt and pepper


Noodles or rice for serving


Preheat oven to 325°F.


Steam broccoli for 5 minutes until crisp-tender. Drain in colander.


In a medium frying pan, sauté chicken breasts in olive oil until lightly browned. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.


In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then gradually whisk in chicken broth, sherry, and milk until incorporated. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened. Add dash of nutmeg. Add 3/4 of the cheese and whisk until combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.


In a 9×13 dish arrange chicken breasts (either whole or sliced) and broccoli. Pour sauce over top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover with aluminum foil with slits to allow steam to escape.


Bake for 30-45 minutes, taking off the aluminum foil for the last 10.


Serve over egg noodles or rice

MegBenjaminMeg Benjamin is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. Her newest series, Brewing Love, is set in the Colorado craft brewing scene. Meg’s Konigsburg series is set in the Texas Hill Country and her Salt Box trilogy is set in her new home, the Colorado Rockies (both are available from Entangled Publishing). Along with contemporary romance, Meg also writes paranormal romance, including the Ramos Family trilogy from Berkley InterMix and the Folk series to be published by Soul Mate Publishing in 2018. Meg’s books have won numerous awards, including an EPIC Award, a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion from Virginia Romance Writers, the Beanpot Award from the New England Romance Writers, and the Award of Excellence from Colorado Romance Writers. Meg’s Web site is You can follow her on Facebook (, Pinterest (, and Twitter ( Meg loves to hear from readers—contact her at

LoveOnTapFinal CoverWyatt Montgomery knows a barrel of legendary Zoria imperial stout will help his Denver gastropub stay on top. The only problem is the brewery that made it is no longer in business. When Wyatt hears the brewmaster has only one barrel left, he won’t stop until it’s his. He doesn’t consider what this mythical barrel might cost him. And he certainly doesn’t anticipate his reaction to the heart-stoppingly beautiful brewmaster he needs to convince to sell him the beer.

When Wyatt rushes into Bec Dempsey’s small-town cooperative offering to buy the last barrel of her precious Zoria, she’s thrown for a loop. She’s been burned by city-slickers before, and she’ll be damned if she’ll let it happen again. But when things start heating up between them, Bec decides to make Wyatt a counteroffer. One she hopes he won’t refuse.

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Thanks so much, Meg! That sounds like my kind of recipe, and the story sounds tempting, too! I’ve used wine in cooking, and even some gin or beer, but never sherry. Hmm. I guess I’ve been missing out on using the warmth and robust flavor of the sherry in my recipes. I will have to try it!

That wraps up this round of Tasty Tuesday posts, but please enjoy the new series of Don’t Say That! posts on Mondays about words I had to avoid in my A More Perfect Union historical romance series and other historical stories set in the 18th and 19th centuries. I’ll be looking at how language has changed along with the technological advances and the words that would be anachronistic (futuristic, in a sense) for my characters if I used them. It’s intended to be a fun and light-hearted exploration into the evolution of words and language. Enjoy!


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Don’t Say That – Intro to a Romp about Word Choices in Historical Fiction #histfic #amwriting #amreading #amediting

Words have power. No matter where or how they are used, the images and meanings combine to tell a story, real life or imagined. As a 21st-century storyteller, I choose my words with care. Depending on whether I’m writing a story set in the present or the past, those choices will affect how my readers interpret my tale. Words create the setting, the emotion, the motivation, and most of all the overall atmosphere of the story.

Years ago, I attended a workshop on writing historical fiction at the Historical Novel Society conference in St. Petersburg, Florida. A discussion arose about using words that didn’t exist in the time period of the story. Since stories today are told most often in either close third person point of view (e.g., “His pulse throbbed in his ears, making it difficult to hear) or in first person (e.g., My pulse throbbed in my ears so I could barely hear above the noise”), this is a real concern in order to create authentic characters and settings. In particular, writers of historical fiction shouldn’t use words invented after the time period because they are essentially anachronisms for the character. I agreed and vowed to ensure that I didn’t use any words that hadn’t come about until after the era of my stories. At the time, I was working on my A More Perfect Union historical romance series set in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1782-83, the ending years of the American Revolution.

AMPU Covers-4Let me say now, I had no idea what a challenge I had presented to myself. Despite my best efforts, I probably missed one or two here and there. What I want to share with you all, as readers and perhaps as fellow historical writers, are my thoughts on the words and their usage. Also about historical storytelling for a modern day audience. I have created a list of words to search on for each story – it’s 7 pages long, single spaced. I share it with my editor both for her use and to help me locate and replace “offending” terms.

I mentioned this list to another group of contemporary fiction authors and they seemed enthralled (read, horrified) that it was even something historical fiction authors had to think about. After all, we’re telling stories to modern readers, right? Why did it matter? After I explained the reasoning they wanted to know more. So that was the inspiration for this series of posts.

Over the next few months, I plan to share what I think of as “conceptual” words that I discovered I couldn’t include in my 18th-century stories. These are words that are based on technologies and concepts that had yet to be invented or become common in written language. They also represent an evolution in the language (spellings and such) over the centuries. Some of these words will likely surprise a modern reader. They surprised me! For example, I had no idea I couldn’t use “highlight” or “background,” for reasons I’ll explain later. I’ll rely on the history of the word usage from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED)  to explain why I chose a different word and what the alternatives were. All with a certain self-deprecating humor, I hope! It’s rather eye-opening and humbling to realize how lazy I had become in choosing words. It’s easier to reuse the same words rather than select the exact word but one of the times. The hunt for the perfect word to convey both the idea and also the 18th-century atmosphere without losing my sweet little mind, in other words. (Pun intended!)

For those of you who don’t know my background, here’s my bio and then I’ll elaborate a little on my education and experience.

BettyBolteAward-winning author Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories featuring strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal. In addition to her romantic fiction, she’s the author of several nonfiction books and earned a Master’s in English in 2008. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and the Authors Guild.

I’ve been writing and editing professionally since the 1990s, including essays, newspaper articles and a column for a small town paper in Indiana, and articles for national magazines. My day job was working as a technical writer and editor for corporations and for NASA, as well as editing nonfiction books on a freelance basis. All along I’ve written fiction, mainly romances, and I’ve always enjoyed reading historical fiction. Some of my favorite authors are Elswyth Thane, LaVyrle Spencer, James Michener, and Anna Sewell. That is not an exhaustive list by any means! I know something about writing to an audience and delivering the message in a way the reader/receiver can understand it most readily. To add a layer of complexity with needing to stay true to words and concepts relevant to the characters in a story set in the distant past was a new challenge, but one I picked up with a sense of purpose. Until I realized just how big a challenge it would prove to be! Then it became a juggle to find a happy medium between historic authenticity and good storytelling for a modern day reader. Let’s see how well I did, shall we?

I hope you’ll enjoy this little foray into the history of words and how I worked through the challenge of sticking with historically accurate language to tell a 21st-century reader an authentic 18th-century tale to the best of my abilities.

Off we go… Next week I’ll begin with the ever-popular “mesmerize”… See you then!


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

Tasty Tuesday: Spaghetti Sauce by #romance #author Lynn Crandall #dinner #recipe #amreading #mustread #fiction

Here comes another tempting Tasty Tuesday dinner idea for you all. Help me welcome contemporary romance author Lynn Crandall back to share her spaghetti sauce recipe and her latest romance with you all!

Thank you Betty for having me on your “tasty” blog. I’m excited to talk about my novella, Two Days Until Midnight, and food.

Food is a favorite topic among people. We don’t merely take in nutrition and fill our stomachs, we enjoy the flavors and textures of a variety of foods. Our meals feed our bodies and our souls. According to experts, humans are the only mammals on the planet who cook food. Eating is an activity for us. We go out to dinner with friends and enjoy conversation over a meal. We gather as families around the dinner table and check in with each other to stay connected. The phrase “breaking bread” is a reference to the fundamental belief that sharing a meal is a meaningful observation of our shared humanity.

In Two Days Until Midnight, bird-shifter Lark Ellis has some bad news to admit to her boss Tamier Rein, whom she is falling for. She invites him to dinner at her house, creating a welcoming and casual atmosphere to show she cares despite her bad news. Cognizant of Tamier’s Italian heritage, she plans her meal around a dish she believes is Italian – spaghetti. By cooking Tamier something from his culture, she is showing him she accepts him and is trying to connect – and hoping her efforts will soften the blow. Does it ease her admission for Tamier? You can find out by reading the book.

Two Days Until Midnight(FINAL)coverBird-shifter Lark Ellis has spent her life shielding her true identity. Now, to protect her flock’s habitat she’s taken a job that pits her mission against her secret and her integrity.

Reclusive billionaire architect and CEO of Global Environments, Tamier Rein lost his freedom and his dreams the day a Society assassin cursed him and changed him into a were-cheetah. Imprisoned by uncontrollable transing, he faces a devastating condition of his curse on the approaching Autumn Solstice.

Lark risks her identity and all she holds dear to help Tamier as their relationship develops into a promise of true love. As the deadline looms, Tamier must let her teach him to live or lose everything in two days.

Two Days Until Midnight is available for 99 cents on Amazon

It also is part of an anthology titled At Midnight, by HiDee Ekstrom, Rena Koontz, and myself. Find the anthology on Amazon at

Here’s an excerpt:

Tamier closed his eyes, clinging to the sense of wonder and peace spreading through him, and trying to ignore his spontaneous impulses to reach for her. “I do know I don’t want this moment to end.” He stepped close to her, so close he felt her breath on his face. She didn’t move away, and he looped a lock of her hair behind her ear, sinking into the soft feel of it. Oh, how he wanted to kiss her lips, but he stood suspended in doubt nanomillimeters away.

“Tamier.” She stared at his mouth. “You don’t know everything about me.”

He pulled his eyes from her lips and looked into her eyes. “I don’t expect I do.”

“There are things I want to tell you, but I’m afraid.”

“Don’t be. If there are things I need to know, you’ll tell me or they will come up.” He nuzzled the soft spot under her ear and into her neck, all of his senses exploding with sensations.

“Tamier,” she whispered. “What?”

“Remember later that I warned you.”

Now to the recipe.

Italian Spaghetti Sauce


2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste

1 (28 ounce) can tomato puree

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1⁄2 cup chopped onion

3 1⁄2 tablespoons olive oil

2 1⁄2 tablespoons white sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves

1⁄4 cup parmesan cheese

2 1⁄2cups water (less if you want a thicker sauce


In a large stockpot on low-med heat add olive oil and saute onions for about 4 minutes. Add crushed garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add tomato products. Mix well. Add spices and cheese. Cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours.

Add sausage, ground beef, meatballs, or chicken if desired.

Serves 12 to 16.

lynn-crandall-picLynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her cat. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down. She hopes that readers discover, over and over, stories of ordinary people who face ordinary life challenges and are transformed by extraordinary love.


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I love a good spaghetti sauce with ground beef, or better yet ground venison. Thanks so much for sharing the sauce and the excerpt, Lynn. The recipe reminds me of my sister-in-law making sauce for dinner, and it was the first time I had ever seen anyone make it from scratch. Very tempting, indeed!

Anyone else make their own sauce? What other ingredients do you include or exclude?


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

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

Tasty Tuesday: Teacakes by #romance #author Jannette Spann #cookies #recipe #amreading #mustread #fiction

Tasty Tuesday welcomes a real classy lady and her Mama’s Teacakes recipe. Contemporary romance author Jannette Spann shares the inspiration for her novel, Right Time for Love, and makes me hungry at the same time! Take it away, Jannette!

Thank you for having me on Tasty Tuesday, Betty, and for allowing me to share a favorite recipe of mine. One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Where do I get the inspiration for the books I write?” Truthfully, some come from thin air, but Right Time for Love came from old-fashioned teacakes.

There were eleven kids in my family, and we grew up on a farm in the country where we raised most of what we ate, both meat and vegetable. We got electricity in our home when I was four-years-old, but I was eleven when Mama bought her first electric stove. Before then, she cooked on a large, old-fashioned wood-burning stove. As kids, our job in the afternoon was to remove the ashes and bring in stove wood. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term ‘stove wood’, it’s split firewood, only shorter and smaller.

Although money was scarce, it didn’t stop Mama from being a wonderful cook. Very seldom did she know how many kids would be at our table, only that she would have a lot of hungry mouths to feed…our friends were always welcome. It wasn’t often that we had sweets, but when we did, you can bet there were never any leftovers.

My favorite—without a doubt—was her teacakes. It wasn’t unheard of for me to beg for those. When she had the time, energy, and right ingredients, she would make a big batch of teacakes for all of us. If you’ve never ‘swiped’ cookie dough as a kid, then you’ve missed one of the joys of childhood. Today we’re told not to eat anything with raw eggs, but I still eat teacake dough.

If you’re wondering how this relates to my latest book, it’s simple… eating is one of my favorite things to do. When I began to plot Right Time for Love, I had a sweet craving and thought about my mama’s teacakes. That’s when I decided to make teacakes the central theme of the story.

Brandy Wyne, my heroine, needed a way to introduce herself and her mother to their new neighborhood. Why couldn’t Brandy’s mom bake the best old-fashioned teacakes in the world?

After all, who can resist a plate of fresh baked homemade cookies? Each time they gave cookies as a gift, a new character was introduced to the story.

Got a problem? Reach for the cookie jar.

Need a disaster? Mix a batch of cookie dough and have things go haywire.

Need to catch Mr. Right? Give him a cookie.

Thanks to the teacakes, Right Time for Love was so much fun to write, it practically wrote itself.


1 cup margarine, softened

2 ½ cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla flavoring

3 cups self-rising flour

Cream margarine & sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs & vanilla, beat until well blended. Stir in flour 1 cup at a time until all 3 cups have been worked into dough. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 355 degrees. Roll out dough on lightly floured board or pastry cloth to 1/8″ thickness. (I roll it out in small batches.) Cut out cookies and bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 10 to 13 minutes or until lightly browned. (For richer cookies, use real butter.) Enjoy!

RightTimeForLove_453x680Brandy Wyne’s future includes an old house with plumbing problems, a new job, and caring for her mother who has suffered a stroke.

Gavin Wilkin has increased his Grandpa’s plumbing business to twice its original worth, but the old man’s got a hot lady friend with greedy hands. How can he convince his grandpa of what she’s after without hurting him? Added to his problems is the responsibility of caring for his seven-year-old niece for the summer.

Brandy can’t afford the plumbing repairs she needs, and Gavin can’t find a sitter for his niece. Ever heard of the barter system?







OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the first reading of “Camp Fire Girls” to her 4th-grade class, Jannette Spann knew she wanted to be an author. She admits her aspirations were almost shattered when English grammar proved to be her toughest subject in school. As it so often happens, her childhood dreams were pushed aside as life led her in other directions. The dream faded, but never went away.

In the early nineties, she began writing short stores for her grandchildren and the dream of being an author sprang to life again. After completing a creative writing course, she wrote her first full-length novel which to this day remains in the back of her closet.

More stories came to life in her imagination and in December of 2012 she decided the time had come to get serious if she wanted to fulfill her childhood dream. In August of 2013 she published her first full-length Inspirational Romance Novel Hidden Hills, with Astraea Press. Two years later she released her 2nd novel with the same publisher entitled Right Time for Love. Both books are available for purchase on line in e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Jannette is a member of Heart of Dixie, the North Alabama Chapter of Romance Writers of America. She believes when God gives you a dream for your future, you should go for it. Chances are He’s given you the ability to succeed, but you’ll never know if you don’t try.

Get to know her better at

The teacakes sound absolutely wonderful, Jannette! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe and a bit about your childhood memories.

Ready to share some teacakes with your neighbors? Or maybe stir up some recipe competition with your friends? What do you think?


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

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

Tasty Tuesday: Angel Food Waldorf #Cake #dessert #recipe #paranormal #romance #PNR #mustread #fiction

Today’s cake recipe is more an assembly project than a straight up recipe. It’s called an Angel Food Waldorf cake and it really is divine! I recently made it for myself and hubby. I’ll tell you a little secret about that at the end, so bear with me!

I discovered this recipe when I was a teenager and really big into cake decorating. You know, the buttercream icing and pastry bags, designs and letters in various colors on the smoothly frosted cake surface. I even competed at the county 4-H fair, though I don’t recall any awards… But that’s another matter, right?

My family loves this cake. When I told my daughter I was going to make it, she was miffed because she lives in another state and so couldn’t pop in for a slice. It’s good, but worth crossing an entire state for? Probably not.

Because it’s one of my favorites, I decided to include it for the big Thanksgiving dinner in my latest paranormal romance, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow. Tara has a hard time in the kitchen for reasons she is slow to discover for herself. But by the time the family feast comes around she’s sorted things out well enough to pull this delight together. Here’s a snippet from the story to set the mood:

Tara wiped her hands on a towel and grinned at him. “That finishes the pies, and the cake is baked and ready for the final construction.”

“Are we building something?” Grant loved her quirky little smile at his question.

“You could say that. We need to slice off the top of the cake, then cut out a tunnel in the bottom and pull out the center part of the cake.” She motioned with her hands to show him what she meant. “Then we fill the tunnel with whipped cream, sliced strawberries, and slivered almonds.”

“Yum.” She was so cute when she wrinkled her brow in thought. “Then what?”

“Put the top on and smother the whole thing in more whipped cream.” She pointed to a second box of strawberries. “Some of those get spaced on top as decoration.”

“Double yum.” He gazed at his woman, drinking in her features and enjoying her animated motions with her hands. “What happens to the cake you pull out?”

She wiggled her brows with a grin aimed his direction. “That’s the best part. You get to eat it.”

“I’m in.”


With no further ado, here’s a little more detail on how to build this confection.


Betty’s Angel Food Waldorf


Angel Food Cake, prepared as directed

1 large container Cool Whip

1 cup cut up strawberries

½ cup slivered almonds

½ cup miniature marshmallows

8 medium strawberries, approximately the same size and capped


Bake an angel food cake per box instructions (or buy one, if you prefer); cool completely

Place cake upside down on a plate. Slice off entire top of cake about 1 inch down; set aside.

Make cuts down into the cake 1 inch from the outer edge and 1 inch from the edge of the hole in the center, leaving substantial walls on each side. Remove cake within the cuts, leaving a 1 inch thick base.

IMG_0565In a medium chilled bowl, mix 5 cups Cool Whip with the strawberries, marshmallows, and nuts until well blended. Press the mixture firmly into the cavity to avoid holes in cut slices. Replace top of cake and press down gently.

Use remaining Cool Whip to frost the cake. Place 8 remaining strawberries point side up at regular intervals on top of the cake. If desired, sprinkle more slivered almonds around the top.

Chill at least 4 hours before serving.

Makes 12-16 servings.


Ready for the little secret about the last one I made? Shhh! We’ve never done this before, but hubby and I ate the whole thing in 3 days! My intention had been to have him take whatever we didn’t eat to work with him on Monday, but it didn’t last that long. Talk about yummy! But not something I expect to repeat, either. (Soon, at least.)

What do you think? Are you up for putting together this light and delicious treat for your family and friends? What other berries do you think would taste good instead of, or perhaps in addition to, the strawberries?


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

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

The_Touchstone_of_Raven_Hollow_600x900Tara Golden has hidden her healing power all her life. But occasionally, she uses her abilities on people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. Now a tall, sexy geologist is asking questions she doesn’t want to face, and he isn’t going to take no for an answer. There’s no way she would reveal her abilities and her gifted sisters for a fling.

The latest medical tests divulge geologist Grant Markel’s fatal condition is cured, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. When he meets the sexy, mystical witch who may hold the answer to his quest, he’s determined to prove she’s full of smoke and mirrors despite their mutual attraction.

When they are trapped in an enchanted valley, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?




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