Which Wand for a Witch? #research #magic #magick #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

Last time I talked about how my characters in the Fury Falls Inn series have to learn the basics of magic. For Cassandra Fairhope, she also needs to learn about her wand and how to use it. Now, after doing a bit of research I can tell you that there are a wide array of opinions on what wood to use, whether to use a fallen limb or cut a fresh stick, whether to decorate it with sigils or other symbols, and more. I needed to decide what wood her wand would be made from so I consulted my two references for their views on wood choices as well as the Grove and Grotto site that provides in-depth information about a lot of wand woods.

Sabin’s advice for people who want to follow Wiccan ways is slightly different from de Angeles’ guidance for people who want to practice witchcraft. Sabin says the wand is “a fancy stick” used to focus energy. She also recommends knowing how to focus energy without using a tool such as a wand for instances where you don’t have one at hand. She says the most common woods for Wiccan wands include oak, ash, and willow. But she adds that a wand can be made of anything including copper or silver or bone among other options.

De Angeles insists that the wand must be made by hand, whether it is “simple or carved, inscribed, or painted with the sigils of magic.” She identifies two types of wands, one that is “permanent” used for your rituals and one that is “created for specific purposes” and then “buried after use.” She provides the length, too. It should be “from (approximately) the tip of your middle finger to the inside of your elbow.” She lists the traditional sacred woods as willow, hazel, oak, rowan, hawthorn, blackthorn, birch, beech, applewood, and elm.

So what kind of wand did I choose for Cassie to use in my series?

I scanned the list of woods at Grove and Grotto to get more information as to meanings and properties of various woods. I was looking for qualities and properties that meshed with what Cassie’s world view and desires are. Then I had to make sure the wood was readily available in Alabama so she would pick up a branch of the tree and use it for her wand. After all, the series is set in 1821 and while international trade was huge even then, it would be far easier to pick from available woods instead of importing a more exotic one. So I visited Flora of Alabama to find out which kinds of trees grow there.

I settled on cherry because of its availability and its specific properties. Especially, “harmonious, feminine energy, good for healing, love magick, unity, and community.” Those aspects of the wood’s properties would call to Cassie at an instinctual level.

You’ll notice I didn’t follow either Sabin’s or de Angeles’ advice as to which wood to use. That’s because I really believe in going with your instincts and I think Cassie would be drawn to something more domestic and relevant to her world. Cassie is a unique individual and so is her wand.

Here’s a short snippet from Desperate Reflections where Cassie’s aunt is giving her the first lesson in how to use a wand. In fact, it’s the first time Cassie finds out she has a wand of her own that’s been locked away in one of her mother’s trunks…


Cassie yanked the keys from her pocket before she could change her mind. Soon the lid was up and the array of jewelry boxes, old books, and keepsakes were exposed. Hope leaned over the open trunk, reaching in to lift first one then another of the heirlooms to inspect. Thankfully, replacing each as she sifted and sorted through the collection.

“Aha!” Hope rummaged deeper into the trunk, and then held up a twisted piece of reddish-brown wood. “I found it.”

“What is it?” Surely that thing wasn’t for her. Something else must have been calling to her.

“Why, your wand, of course.” Hope handed it to her, handle first, a scowl descending on her features. “My sister didn’t even let you keep the wand you made as a girl?”

“I didn’t find out I was a witch until a few weeks ago.” She tentatively accepted the tapered wand. The smooth wood warmed to her touch, humming softly, much like a kitten purring in its sleep. “I don’t recall making it.”

“I was there the day you found the fallen limb of a tree and held it up with such joy on your face.” Hope shifted to aim a bemused expression at her. “Your father shaped the handle into that slow twist and then let you sand it smooth with your little hands. I think you were two or so at the time so it’s quite understandable you don’t recall doing so.”

Gripping the handle of the wand, she gave a tentative flick of the blunt tip in the air. Nothing happened. “How does it work?”

Hope chuckled and shook her head slowly. “Not like that. You must have a purpose and intent in mind when you use it to direct your will.”


Tomorrow, May 11, Desperate Reflections will release! I hope you’ll read it and let me know what you think of the story. It’s the third story in a six-book series, so three more to go!

May a good story take you to new imaginative places! 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Book Sale in Honor of a New Release #sale #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #romance #books

It’s May and that means my next release is only days away! So I’ve decided to put the first two books in the series on sale for the month of May to encourage readers to catch up on what they may have missed. Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series Book 3) will release on May 11, 2021, and it’s chock full of surprises, secrets, magic, ghosts, and food! If you haven’t read the first two books in the series now is your chance to grab a Kindle copy of each and save money at the same time.

Here’s what the first two are about:

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. She has a plan, too. Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. He’s handsome and available even though he doesn’t have feelings for her. Marriage is her only escape. Despite her mother’s strenuous objections.

But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He’s focused on securing his reputation in the hostelry business to make his father respect him. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues.

When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

Only $.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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

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

Only $1.99 for the Kindle copy! $3.99 elsewhere

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Of course, you know there will be more: magic, ghosts, secrets, and food! Pre-order Desperate Reflections to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Now back to writing book 4 in the series… Until 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Some Basics of Magic and Witchcraft #research #magic #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fantasy #fiction #books

I was talking with a friend and fellow author the other day about the process of writing a series. Obviously the biggest difference between writing a single book and a series of connected stories is that there needs to be an overarching story for the entire series. In the case of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series that means 6 stories with an ever-growing cast of characters. The core story in the series is about the Fairhope family coming back together to defend against a common threat. But each story has its own internal story arc as well. Writing this series has been a challenge for me in several ways.

I’ve talked before about the inspiration for the series which you can read about here. When I wrote that post I had just released the second book in the series, Under Lock and Key, and by then had a better feel for where the series story was heading. Then I wrote the third book, Desperate Reflections, which is up for pre-order now (see below) and will release on May 11, 2021. When I finished writing that story I realized I needed to have a high-level outline of the remaining three books in the series in order to ensure that I wrap up all the of the threads running through these stories. So I took some time to brainstorm all of the events and revelations I could identify that needed to be included in upcoming stories. I feel far more confident that I’ll address the currently open questions as a result! But let me tell you it really stretches my imagination in ways I’ve never done before.

My witchcraft reference books

Another challenge with this series is writing about magic and witches and warlocks. See, I am not a witch nor do I practice magic. Which means I had to do some research to have a deeper understanding and appreciation for those people who do practice some form of magic or have special abilities. So naturally I turned to books written by practicing witches to find out more about what life is like for them. Specifically, Thea Sabin’s Wicca for Beginners: Fundamentals of Philosophy & Practice and Ly de Angeles’ Witchcraft: Theory and Practice. Although they each approach their practice from slightly different perspectives, they agreed on a good bit. These two books also provided the theories and philosophies behind the practical aspects of witchcraft. That is something I intend to weave into my characters’ knowledge as well.

In this series, my main heroine Cassandra Fairhope discovers she comes from a family of witches. She’s surprised by the news but takes to the idea of practicing magic even though she doesn’t know anything about it. Well, neither did I! So I tapped my research books for guidance on the basics she and later her brothers would need to know.

From my reading, the most basic step before performing a spell or ritual is to ground and center in order to protect yourself as you work with the energy around you. According to Sabin, grounding and shielding are both important visualizations to know how to do. Sabin says, “These techniques will allow you to have more control in your energy work by giving you ways to get rid of excess energy and protect yourself from unwanted energy.” I paraphrased her description of the technique she teaches her students to use as a meditation in Desperate Reflections when Abram is reluctantly learning how to ground and center:


“Now, ground and center.”

“How do you expect me to do both?” Abram sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor that evening, hands resting on his knees as he tried to follow his sister’s instructions. He gazed at her, wondering if she believed the mystical nonsense she’d spouted over the last several minutes. “And what do you mean by center?”

“Relax and breathe. Picture a glowing golden taproot connecting your spine to the earth beneath you.” Cassie perched on the edge of a chair in front of the fireplace in the parlor, her expression serene and gentle. “Close your eyes and concentrate.” She paused for several seconds as he let his lids drop. “Can you see it?”

He inhaled slowly, struggling with the conflicting desires to dismiss her guidance as utter rubbish or to follow her instructions and see what might happen. Despite his reservations, the image of a thick, strong taproot like that of an ancient pine tree formed in his mind’s eye. “Now what?”

“Feel the earth’s energy flowing gently and warmly to the base of your spine.”

A slight tingling warmed his hips as he sat with his eyes closed, seeing the energy like a glowing golden stream flowing up along the taproot and into his body. Squeezing his eyes tight to ensure he didn’t open them and lose the image, he waited for her next directions.

“Now feel the energy flow through your legs down all the way to your feet. Then let it flow up your spine and through your arms and hands.”

“It’s so warm. I didn’t expect to feel that.” He flexed his fingers then relaxed them on his knees. The gentle warmth surged through his entire body, filling him with a sense of peace and security but mostly a surprisingly deep connection to the earth.

“That’s perfect. Now, push the excess energy back down the taproot but keep your own energy alive inside.” Her soft voice drifted to his ears and assisted him in easing the unnecessary energy back into the earth through the golden taproot. “When you’re done, open your eyes.”

He pictured the last of the excess energy evaporating into the ground even as a sense of completion and readiness filled him. He opened his eyes and grinned at her. “That was amazing.”


Interpreting the experience from the guidance of a practicing witch helps me imagine how my characters might also have the experience and their reactions. Hopefully with some sense of authenticity despite my own lack of personal experience. I can’t include every aspect of the philosophies and techniques used but I will try to set the stage and the context for my characters and thus for my readers to also have a better appreciation and understanding.

There’s more magic to come, too. Check out Desperate Reflections below and be sure to grab your copy today! (Note that you can pre-order the ebook now but the paperback won’t be available until May 11.) Thanks!

Until 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.

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. Abram must protect his vulnerable sister from all of it. Before the dark side of magic ensnares her.

When Abram Fairhope grudgingly travels to the Inn, he has no idea of the dire revelations about to upend his life. His only desire is to fulfill his familial duty and then get back to his job as senator’s aide. But the shocking truth of his very nature destroys his carefully laid plans. Worse still, he must use his newly revealed ability to shield her from terrible danger. Threats exist from within and without, especially the surprisingly pretty woman his jaded heart can’t seem to ignore. Can he keep his sister safe and still protect his heart?

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Choosing A Period-Appropriate Book for a Character to Read #research #history #FuryFallsInn #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I love to include places I’ve visited as well as classic authors and their books in my fiction. So in writing Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3; Coming May 2021!), I looked for a “new” book Cassandra could read in the gazebo in 1821. My first thought was of Sir Walter Scott’s book, Waverly, because I was pretty sure he was writing around the turn of the 19th century. And I own a treasured copy of it. So I went in search of my copy to confirm its publication date. Now, my copy is special to me because I bought it while on a university hosted study abroad trip. It was a summer course for essentially the entire month of July 1995 in Great Britain entitled Literary Landscapes and Journeys of the Mind. That was the first and only time I have traveled abroad without family with me. It was an amazing and eye-opening experience, too. If we ever sit down over a cup of coffee together, ask me about it. <wink>

Here’s a short snippet from my upcoming release of Desperate Reflections where Cassie is reading:

She looked down at the book in her hands. Abram had let her borrow his copy of Sir Walter Scott’s novel, Waverly. Apparently, he had easy access to many books in the cosmopolitan world he lived in. He’d recommended it to her as a distraction and a great romantic tale. She opened the cover and noted it had been out for seven years, but it was entirely new to her. The story of an idealistic young man who fought for the Jacobites in 1745 Scotland seemed like a good way to not think about what was happening around her. To not think about what might happen when her aunts arrived. To not think about what other family secrets lurked in the shadows. Turning to the first page of the story, she ignored everything else.

Or tried. The rattle of wheels and thump of hooves tempted her to see who was coming and going. The smell of cake baking in the bread oven wafted past, teasing her nose. Her stomach rumbled, making her wish it was closer to dinner time. Another tweak to her empathic senses made her glance up, seeking the cause. Inwardly she shrugged. She wouldn’t actually see what caused the sensation. She returned her wayward eyes to the page and tried to absorb its contents, the reasons for why Scott had chosen the title name for the main character. She read the passage again but finally gave up with a sigh and let her gaze wander as she closed the book. So much for losing herself in an enchanting tale.

One of the many literary linked places we visited was Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott. Now he is not my all-time favorite author but I have read, enjoyed, and studied his work, making visiting his house a treat. The castle is absolutely stunning! I fell in love with his library which was immense and beautiful.

We had a brief tour on our way to Rydall Hall. I bought my copy of Waverly from the gift shop at Scott’s impressive home. My task assigned by my professor was to write a journal about my experiences, impressions, thoughts, hopes, whatever. That was the best idea ever because I have an immense notebook of my daily take on what we did and saw and experienced. I’m surprised that I didn’t actually write anything about Abbotsford in my journal despite having taken pictures of what I saw there. But I vividly remember how stunned I was by the library!

If you’re on NetGalley, Desperate Reflections is now available for download and to review. Look for it to release on May 11, 2021!

Can you believe it’s almost April already? This year is flying by for me. I guess I better get back to work.

See 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.

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. Her plan? Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

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Round 2: Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

As I mentioned last week when I shared Sheridan’s menu, I have two excellent cooks who have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). The winner’s menu will be added to the Fury Falls Inn’s offerings, so it’s important to each man to prove their worth. This week I want to reveal Matt Simmons’ menu and a couple of the recipes that go with it that I’ve actually made and adapted to suit my and my husband’s tastes.

In my story, Matt has elected to offer a menu that is from other countries. So he makes East Indian Curry, a Salmagundi salad, and French Green Pea Soup. I’ve made Salmagundi several times, and tailored it down to serve two people. The recipe for the salad includes chicken, but you can omit that if you’d like. I hadn’t made the curried chicken before, so I tried that recently and adjusted it down from what the recipe says would serve eight people (using two whole chickens, I might add) to serve two people, with some leftover if you’re not big eaters. While my husband was a tad reluctant to try the curry because he doesn’t enjoy spicy food, he enjoyed it as much as I did since I didn’t use much of the curry powder. (By the way, I didn’t take the time to make my own curry powder despite having a recipe to do so which employed a mortar and pestle. Instead I simply bought a jar of it at the grocery store. I know, I’m being lazy…)

Neither my husband nor myself would enjoy pea soup, so I’m sorry but I’m not going to offer that recipe here. If you’re curious, though, send me an email (betty@bettybolte.com) and I’ll share that one privately from the cookbook I’m using.

I think Matt’s combination of the curried chicken and the salad would be a very good one, from my taste buds’ point of view. I think I will make them together in the very near future. I’ve also made a scaled up version of the salad to take to a pitch-in lunch for one of my writing chapters which was a big hit, as well. You know, way back when we could actually get together in person!

So without further ado or disclaimers, here are two recipes from me to you that I really enjoyed making and eating. I hope you enjoy, too!

Betty’s Salmagundi for 2

Ingredients

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 T Italian dressing
  • 2 eggs, hard boiled and chopped
  • 2 cups salad mix
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • ¼ cup shredded cheese
  • 1 navel orange, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
  • ½ cucumber, chopped
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts, but into bite sized pieces

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Place the chicken into a shallow pan. Pour Italian dressing to coat and then cover the pan before putting into the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through and tender. Let cool before cutting into bite sized pieces.

In a bowl, layer the salad, spinach, chicken, and the remaining ingredients.

Serve as is, with dressings on the side, or drizzle Italian dressing over the salad before serving.

Betty’s Curried Chicken for 2

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 T olive oil, divided
  • ½ small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T chopped garlic
  • Curry powder to taste
  • 1–2 T Flour
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup chicken stock, unsalted
  • Hot cooked rice
  • Garnish with parsley and chutney

Instructions

In a small sauté pan, soften garlic and onions in 1 T oil. Sprinkle with curry powder and stir. Reserve.

In a large bowl, dust the chicken with enough flour to coat.

In a large sauté pan, brown the chicken in 1 T oil until golden, about 10 minutes. Add the sour cream, chicken stock, and curry sauce. Cover and simmer until chicken is done.

Serve over hot rice. Garnish with parsley and chutney.

By the way, I’ve made apple orchard chutney years ago which I think would be good on this. I need to dig out that recipe for next time. I used store bought chutney this time which was also tasty so you have options as to what kind of chutney you use.

Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. I’ve completed the final draft and sent it out for a second read by a few beta readers. Then I will polish the final, final draft based on their feedback before getting it ready to publish in a few months. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, 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.

Cassie Fairhope longs for only one thing: to escape her mother’s tyranny. Her plan? Seduce the young man, who is acting as innkeeper while her father is away on business, into marrying her. But Flint Hamilton has his own plans and they don’t include marriage, even to the pretty temptress. He quickly learns that running a roadside inn in northern Alabama in 1821 means dealing not only with the young woman and her hostile mother but also with horse thieves and rogues. When tragedy strikes, Cassie and Flint are forced to face unforeseen challenges and dangerous decisions together in order to attempt to rid the inn of its newly arrived specter—who doesn’t have any plan to leave…

Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read

Food fight in the Fury Falls Inn! #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #food #recipes #cooking #histfic #historical #fiction #books

I have two excellent cooks who are going to have a cookery competition in my next release, Desperate Reflections (Fury Falls Inn Book 3). So that means I got to choose some 19th century recipes to try out, which of course means adapting and tweaking them to something my husband and I might enjoy. Let’s start with the older cook’s menu, shall we?

Sheridan Drake plans to serve Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Huckleberries, Polenta with cheese, Watercress salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and creamed corn. So I decided to make most of his menu for dinner recently. All except the creamed corn which I know my husband and I do not enjoy. The results were mixed. The duck and the salad were excellent! The polenta? Fail! The recipe I used overstated the water requirement so I ended up with soup instead of polenta. Even after cooking it for 2 hours we couldn’t begin to eat it. I may try again, maybe.

Picture of plated meal: Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce, Watercress Salad with Molasses Vinaigrette, and leftover tortellini with Alfredo sauce as a replacement for my failed attempt at polenta…

But I do want to share the duck and the salad recipes so you can try them, too. Today, duck breast is expensive to buy at the grocery. I was surprised to find that my local Publix actually carried them frozen. Back when this recipe was created, though, you simply went hunting for ducks so they were not costly at all back then. The original recipe calls for huckleberries, but since I couldn’t find those easily I substituted blueberries which are apparently similar.

I chose the watercress salad and vinaigrette from the menu of a tavern-style dinner my husband and I went to in 2019 which was a reenactment of the dinner Huntsville, Alabama, threw for President Monroe when he surprised the city with a visit in June of 1819, months before statehood. Watercress is something that Alabama is known for, so I knew it would be included in my book as well. The salad at the dinner included goat cheese and blackberries, with an elderberry and molasses vinaigrette. I was delighted to find a bag of watercress at my Publix, too. All washed and ready to use. I had bought some grated parmesan and romano cheese to use in the failed polenta, so I used that instead of goat cheese (again, it’s not our favorite), and some of the blueberries from the sauce for the duck. The nI just used some of our favorite salad toppings to finish the individual salads.

I located a recipe for molasses vinaigrette at bettycrocker.com and then followed it except I used Dijon mustard instead of coarsely ground mustard. The resulting dressing is delicious, too!

Here are the successful recipes based on what I actually did instead of the original ones. If you try them, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you!

Pan Roasted Duck Breasts with Blueberry Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 duck breasts, bone out, with skin
  • Dried thyme
  • Garlic powder
  • Black pepper, ground
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T Olive oil
  • 2 shallots diced
  • ½ cup port wine
  • ½ cup beef stock, unsalted
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries

Instructions
Score the skin on the duck breasts. Sprinkle both sides with garlic powder, thyme, and black pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat the broiler with rack in the top third of the oven. Using nonstick saute pan, melt 1 T butter and olive oil until froth subsides. Brown the duck breasts skin side down; do not turn. Reserve the saute pan and its oils. Place breasts in oven safe pan and broil 7-10 minutes, until flesh is opaque. Remove and reserve breasts in warm place.

Using the saute pan, add the shallots, port wine, and stock to deglaze the pan on high heat, until the sauce reduces and thickens. Add the blueberries and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve the sauce over the duck breasts.

Watercress Salad

  • Fresh watercress leaves
  • Sliced radishes
  • Pecan pieces
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Shredded cheese

Place about 1 cup of leaves in each individual bowl. Top with a few sliced radishes, pecans, blueberries, and add a sprinkle of cheese.

Molasses Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 2 T molasses
  • 1 T Dijon Mustard
  • 1 t minced garlic
  • ½ t black pepper

In a small bowl whisk together all ingredients until well blended.

Enjoy! Look for Desperate Reflections to release later this spring, too. That gives you plenty of time to read the first two books in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn and Under Lock and Key, in the meantime… And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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A Look Back and Ahead #histfic #historical #paranormal #romance #supernatural #fiction #books #mustread #amwriting #amreading

I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad lately. My mother, too. Mainly because I finally got around to sorting out what my dad kept in two footlockers. I found a lot of interesting papers and photos that I’ll need to deal with one way or another. I’m looking forward to what family history I’ll glean from several new sets of letters, for instance. But overall, the experience has me thinking about my own history and future.

To date, I have written and published 28 print books, and have 5 audiobooks in the works. One of those, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel novella to the A More Perfect Union historical romance series, is already available for your listening pleasure. I’m working on the third book in the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series, Desperate Reflections, which I plan to release later this spring. Bringing my total published fiction to 29. I don’t count my audiobooks as separate titles, but additional formats for those titles.

That count does not include my and my husband’s joint contribution of chapters in Macmillan’s series on how to use dBase V back in 1995. We had chapters in four different books. That was my only computer software book related writing/editing I’ve done, though I have worked as a technical writer/editor documenting how to use software for various companies as a freelancer. I also worked as a freelance technical writer/editor and then as a full-time employee of SAIC supporting the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for several years.

My dad was very proud of me when I achieved my goal of being a published book author with the release of the first edition of Hometown Heroines in 2001. He couldn’t even read the book, though, for the tears of joy he shed when he held the book in his hands. I had been published prior to that momentous event in newspapers, newsletters, and magazines multiple times. I even had my own column, The Sandwich Generation, where I shared stories about life with two kids and my elderly father living with me and my husband.

While I am not a blockbuster author, I am pleased with my backlist of stories to share with readers. The A More Perfect Union series was my first, and it’s set in one of my favorite places, Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution and the occupation of the city by the British. The Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series is set in a fictional town that is based on the small town I lived near while I wrote it: Fayetteville, Tennessee. This series is my first series that includes witches and ghosts, and I had such fun writing it! There are two standalone historical fiction novels as well, Becoming Lady Washington and Notes of Love and War. Both of those released during the pandemic in 2020 (June and July, respectively) to great reviews. And now I’m working my way through the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series which is set near where I live now, Huntsville, Alabama, featuring a haunted roadside inn and its resident ghost and witches and magic. Getting to know the history of the state of Alabama has been a bonus as I’ve researched life here in 1821. You can read excerpts of each of my books at www.bettybolte.com/books.

What’s next? The first thing I’m going to do is finish the Fury Falls Inn series, which entails writing three more stories to finish the family’s tale. I’ve been pondering putting my colonial adapted recipes into a cookbook. I’ve considered writing a book on writing based on all that I’ve learned over the years. I want to finish writing Dolley Madison’s story, too. A Civil War Christmas story is on the back burner but may be moved up later this year. Then there’s an American Revolution trilogy I’ve been thinking of spinning off from the AMPU series. What do you think I should do after I finish the FFI series next year? Suggestions? Requests?

But one thing I do know for certain. I need to finish going through and cataloguing my dad’s papers and photos and deciding which are of historical value and worthy of donation to a museum. Which should be preserved in albums for future generations of my family. What family history needs to be saved into the family tree I started decades ago and need to update. I have far more projects than time!

My priority, though, is writing the best story I can for my readers. I thank you for reading! Now I need to get to work…

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.

In 1782, the fight for independence becomes personal…

Emily Sullivan’s greatest fear is dying in childbirth, as did her twin sister and their mother. Then she’s thrown in a loyalist prison for her privateering father’s raids on the British, and her accuser–a former beau–promises to recant if she will marry him.

Frank Thomson always loved Emily despite her refusal to return his affections. A patriot spy posing as a loyalist officer, when Frank learns of Emily’s plight, he challenges her accuser to a duel.

Freed from prison, Emily ponders returning the affections of her rescuer–the only man she’s ever loved and who married her twin to save the Sullivan family’s reputation. But Frank cannot afford to be discovered. For the sake of young America, he must deliver his secrets.

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Fury Falls Inn vs. the Willard Hotel Which is finer? #Alabama #research #American #history #FuryFallsInn #histfic #historical #fiction #books

While writing the third book in the Fury Falls Inn series, Desperate Reflections, which is coming out later this spring, I needed a fine, high class hotel in the Washington, D.C. area for my main character to compare to the haunted inn in my series. (Note: the inn does not fare well in this comparison.) As usual, I searched my memories for any possibilities and came up with the Willard Hotel.

The Willard Hotel in 1902. Photo: Library of Congress

Why the Willard? Well, I know it’s old because my parents honeymooned there after their wedding in 1948. It’s still in operation today. In fact, my brother-in-law met his wife while working there as an accountant a couple of decades ago. So there are two links to this hotel in my mind. Not only did family stay and work there, but it’s also now one of the finest hotels and is even listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. But how old is it?

Great! A research question! Turns out there has been a hotel of one kind or another at 1401 Pennsylvania Avenue NW since 1816. A Colonel John Tayloe III built six buildings which he then leased out to Joshua Tennison, who called his new lodgings the Tennison’s Hotel. After several name changes and operators over the next few decades, it was finally purchased by Henry Willard and named the Willard Hotel in 1847.

Given that this series is set in 1821 north Alabama, I used the reference to Tennison’s Hotel in what they called the Territory of Columbia (until 1847) as the finer hotel than the inn could ever become. Especially from Abram Fairhope’s elevated and elitist sensibilities.

If you get a chance, you might want to swing by the Willard someday just to see how beautiful a building it is. And as always, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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Love Story or Romance? What’s the difference? #amwriting #romance #LoveStory #supernatural #PNR #fiction #FuryFallsInn #UnderLockandKey

Many of you are aware that my first published novels were romances. The very first was Undying Love (original title: Traces), which ended up being the first of five in the Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series. And by the way, it’s the perfect time of year to read that series since it features witches and ghosts. Now that it’s November and the American holiday of Thanksgiving is only weeks away, you might want to read The Touchstone of Raven Hollow which is set during the week leading up to Thanksgiving and a family dinner to boot. That series is definitely romance. So is the A More Perfect Union historical romance series.

But when I started to write the Fury Falls Inn supernatural historical fiction series, my intent was and is to combine the three genres I enjoy reading and writing: historical, supernatural, and romance. I am using the local history of 1821 Alabama to provide the ambiance and context for the characters and events in the series. There are ghosts and witches and magic and secrets, too, to supply the supernatural elements. However, I specifically decided that it would not be an actual romance, but would have romantic elements.

You may be asking what the difference is between the two. It can be a fine distinction or even confusing.

A romance focuses on the relationship between two people as they get to know each other and overcome seemingly impossible obstacles to finally fall in love. The ending of a romance has the couple together, usually in a loving relationship with either the intent of continuing it (an engagement or wedding—often called a happily-ever-after ending) or at least the hope they’ll stay together (a happy-for-now ending).

By contrast, a story with romantic elements may not end with the couple committed to each other or even to finding out if a relationship is in the cards by the end of the book. Think of the many TV series where there is a man and woman who have a definite spark but do not pursue a relationship for any of a number of reasons. One of my favorites was the series Castle, as an example. The love interest provides a kind of tension, sexual tension specifically, that keeps readers/viewers coming back to find out how they’ll work it out or more often if they will.

So, in the first book in the Fury Falls Inn series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, you meet Cassandra Fairhope. She’s a young woman, turning 18 years old in the course of the tale, who is so desperate to break away from her overbearing mother that she plots marriage to the only male she’s permitted to see, the interim innkeeper in her father’s absence. However, her mother objects to her flirting with Flint Hamilton and makes no bones about that fact. The relationship between Cassie and Flint has its ups and downs throughout the first book and indeed the entire series (as I’ve planned it so far…) and we’ll see where they end up in the last story.

The second story, Under Lock and Key (see below for more about the story), released last month. I’m working on the third story, Desperate Reflections, and it’s interesting to see how Cassie and Flint are changing and growing. I’m enjoying getting to know each of the characters better with every book, truth be told. I thought I knew them pretty well before I even started writing, but they keep whispering their hopes and dreams and secrets to me… I’ll stop there. After all, I don’t want to spoil the fun of finding out for yourself who they are and what they really want out of life! You’ll want to read the books to learn more about that.

I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween and are looking forward to the other holidays right around the corner. Like I offered last holiday season, if you purchase a print copy of any of my books to give to the readers in your life, I’ll be happy to send you a free signed book plate dedicated to the gift recipient for you to place inside the front cover. If it’s for a birthday or other special occasion, let me know that and I’ll personalize it even more for the lucky recipient! Just shoot an email to betty@bettybolte.com and we’ll work out the details.

That’s all I have for today. I wish you Happy Holidays 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.

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

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

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Inspiration for Writing a Series #amwriting #Alabama #American #history #ReadIndie #FuryFallsInn

For many people, especially non-writers, trying to understand where the inspiration for a story comes from can be a puzzle. But trying to grasp how to imagine an entire series of stories can be even harder. So I thought I’d share today how I maneuvered my thoughts to create the Fury Falls Inn historical fiction series.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of a historical marker I pass when I’m heading to one of my RWA chapter meetings. It’s beside a two-lane by-way in a small, historic town in north Alabama. The marker reads:

Valhermoso Springs

“Vale of Beauty”

The restorative qualities of the mineral springs here attracted settlement in the early 1800s. Variously known as Chunn Springs (after Lancelot Chunn) and Manning Springs (after Robert Manning), the spot was named for early developers of the resort where a hotel and surrounding cabins were erected between 1815 and 1823. By 1834, when the first post office was established, it was called White Sulphur Springs.

Jean Joseph Glers acquired the hotel and surrounding property in 1856, renaming it “Valhermoso Springs.” Into the 20th century, travelers from all over the world came to the hotel and springs seeking relief from rheumatism, insomnia, consumption, and ailments of the skin, kidneys, stomach, and liver. The hotel closed in the 1920s and was destroyed by tornado in 1950.

Historical marker for Valhermoso Springs, Alabama

Now, this sparked an idea for having a story set in a resort in the 1800s. I specifically chose 1821 because of two reasons. First, the timing worked to include the ancestral characters from my American Revolution historical romance series, A More Perfect Union, thus tying the two series together in a subtle way. (Did you catch that hint?) Second, I discovered that Alabama became a state in 1819 so my stories could include the early history of my adopted state. I imagined at first having the individual stories focus on different sets of romantic couples and how they came to the hotel, what conflicts they may have to overcome, etc. Something along the lines of the 1983-1888 TV series, Hotel, starring James Brolin and Connie Seleca. (Man, did I love that series!)

The more I thought about the idea, though, the more I wanted to combine my three favorite genres of fiction: historical, supernatural, and romance. I enjoy delving into the history of a place or people and then recreating the past within a story to help readers experience what that time or those people were like, what they had to face, the limitations on their options, etc. The supernatural elements—ghosts and magic—intrigue me since I’ve had experiences that cannot be logically or perhaps even scientifically explained. I’ve also been told about inexplicable happenings and sightings by others, friends and strangers alike. And finally, I believe in love and romance and hope everyone finds their version of happily ever after.

So, all these musings finally led me to wanting to write stories that take place in a haunted roadside inn, which became the Fury Falls Inn. (Note that a “fury” is another name for a “harsh, domineering woman” which fits Mercy Fairhope’s character perfectly.) I decided not to use an existing historical place because it can be limiting. For example, since I don’t know much about the real hotel in Valhermoso Springs, making it a haunted inn might cause some concern or offense to those people who live there. So instead I chose to invent an inn along Winchester Highway north of Huntsville, rather than southwest of that city. The falls and springs the inn features are purely fictional as well. But I liked the alliteration of Fury Falls and the subtle double entendre of the name.

The first book in the series, The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, is the story of how the inn became haunted and sets up the remaining stories’ conflicts and mysteries. The next several stories will feature Cassandra Fairhope’s brothers returning at her request and the surprise revelations they must face and adapt to. Book 2, Under Lock and Key, is now available and I’m writing book 3 to release in the spring of 2021.

Imagining the overarching story line for 6 books was a challenge, let me tell you! I’ve never planned out a 6-book series before. Now I have the fun of really getting to know each of the brothers and developing the story to weave their desires and needs toward a satisfying and unexpected conclusion in the last book. I’m not going to rush it, but I do hope to release books 3 and 4 next year, and 5 and 6 in 2022. Wish me luck!

Happy reading and Happy Halloween!

Betty

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

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

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

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

Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple