First Thoughts on A Place Called Armageddon by C.C. Humphreys #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

The third book in my Historical Fiction Around the World series is C.C. Humphreys’ A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453. As a reminder, I am exploring historical fiction written by authors from other countries than my own USA. My aim is to share my experience of reading each of these books, chosen for their author’s native country and for my interest in the time/place/topic. So I’m not going to just give a short review of the story, but what I find interesting about the layout, the storytelling, or whatever else intrigues me about the book.

This book is a hardback edition consisting of 458 total pages, of which 442 constitute the story. It’s copyrighted in 2012. Like Colleen McCullough’s The First Man in Rome, it includes a glossary and maps to help me orient myself to the place and the language. Unlike that previous read, this book only includes 2 maps—one of the city walls and one of Constantinople in 1453—and the glossary of 3+ pages. But those proved enough to enable me to follow the movement within the story and to enjoy the narrative and dialogue.

Before I started reading the story, after learning from reading The First Man in Rome, I studied the maps, read through the glossary, and then also read the Historic Notes and the Author’s Note. Then I felt like I had a good grasp on the context of the story as well as the author’s intent behind writing the story.

Reading this story so far—I’m on page 250 as I write this—reminds me of something I noticed decades ago when working as a technical writer tasked with transcribing the conversation during a meeting. A subtle difference can be detected between how a woman speaks vs. a man. It’s hard for me to pinpoint the nuances. A different cadence, perhaps? Word choices to an extent. A different approach to storytelling or speaking in general. I could tell by reading the transcript whether the words were spoken by a man or a woman 90% of the time.

In a similar manner, I noticed a difference in the narrative/storytelling by this first male author of the series. One of his narrative choices is to string together actions using commas. Let me give you a few examples. “He sat, gulped, stared at the board before him.” “He raised [her hand] to his lips, tasted it, her.” “The big, nimble man feinted, flicked, lunged, a forearm’s length of steel thrust before him.” In each case Humphreys declined to use any conjunctions. I’m not complaining about his technique, mind. I’m pointing out a subtle writing style choice. It works to convey the flow and the fluidity of motion or thought. I may try employing something similar in my own writing if it suits the situation and story.

Another difference in this historical fiction from the other two is the level of detail associated with the fighting style and techniques of the characters. In the first two that I’ve read so far, both written by women, the fighting happened but the specific steps, sights, actions were not explicitly detailed. Humphreys goes into far more precise detail of how to arm and shoot a crossbow and a bow and arrow. Continuing from the last cited example above, here is one fight sequence to demonstrate what I mean.

“In the center, though, all was quiet enough, if not still. The big, nimble man feinted, flicked, lunged, a forearm’s length of steel thrust before him. But Gregoras had just had time to do what he probably should have done before he’d spoken—he drew his own dagger left-handed, cut down, putting blade to blade, guiding the other’s past his left side. Then he raised his boot and slammed the heel hard down onto the man’s unshod toes. As he screamed, Gregoras drove his right hand up his hip, curling his hand over, bringing the brass knuckles uppermost just when the force of the blow was at its height.” (p143)

See what I mean? I could reenact this scene based on that paragraph. If I were an actor, which I tried to be once, but that’s a tale for another day! This is not the only instance of the step-by-step actions taken by a character in combat with another. I’m surmising the author either knows how to fight hand-to-hand or took some lessons on how to for the sake of writing these scenes. I’d be more likely to do the latter, but that’s just me.

Another lesson learned from reading Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings is to be a reader first, then analyze what I’ve read so I can share it with you all. I am enjoying the story overall despite the fact that I am not one who really cares to read about battle strategies and fighting. Humphreys shares the human side of the fighters so I am happy to read about the relationships they have with their brothers and wives among other people in the story. I found out my husband has already read this book and enjoyed it; he called it a “good story” which is high praise from him.

That’s my first thoughts about this book with more to come next week when I wrap up my reading of the story. Anyone else reading it? What are your thoughts, if so?

Happy reading and Happy New Year to all!

Betty

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

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

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

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

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My impression and lessons learned from The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I finished reading Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings which turned out to live up to expectations of being a great story. I shared last time a few stumbling blocks I encountered, but eventually overcame them. In order for me to enjoy the story, I had to make a few adjustments to my approach. I also got a little help from some new Twitter “friends” after my last post.

First, let me mention that the tweet sharing the last week’s blog topic was retweeted by the Dorothy Dunnett Society, which I was unaware even existed. How fabulous to think of the impact one author has had on so many readers! In fact, according to their site, their mission includes to “advance the education of the public concerning the history, politics, culture and religion of the 11th, 15th and 16th centuries by promoting the study of and research into such subjects generally and into such subjects particularly as they related to the works of Dorothy Dunnett.” I must thank the Society for retweeting my tweet so that other fans could share their experience and appreciation for The Game of Kings with me.

In my last post, I mentioned that the story is set in Scotland in 1546, when Mary Queen of Scots was 4 years old. And that I inferred that fact from knowing Mary is 4 years old in the story. I looked up when she was born but couldn’t pinpoint the time period more closely. Thanks to Max A. Ess, I now know:

Max.A.Ess @Nigel333

Replying to @BettyBolte @DunnettCentral

1/ The book is set from 1547-48 not 1546. The battle of Pinkie occurs close to the beginning of the book. It was on September 10th 1547. Mary was born in December so she was still four years old then. The capture of Sir Thomas Palmer near Haddington was in Summer 1548.

I really appreciate Mr. Ess weighing in on the exact time frame of the story. It may seem a trifling thing, but I do try to keep historic events in context as much as I can. Granted, I’m still learning about 16th century history and have a very long way to go. One of the reasons I’m broadening my historical fiction reading is to also broaden my knowledge of history.

Several other Dunnett fans told me about how much her stories meant to them, how they learned to skim the unfamiliar terms and perhaps take time to look them up later. But basically what I gleaned from their comments is to read first, analyze second. So I had to take off my editor and author hats and put on my reader hat. Step away from reading critically in order to read for pleasure. Only then was I able to truly enjoy the story, the storytelling, and absorb the history. This is a technique I used while working on my BA and MA in English when reading the classics. I often had to just try to read it for the story and not critically, at least the first time before I reread for critical analysis. So thanks to the folks who reminded me to read first!

Going back to the slew of foreign terms and quotations peppered throughout the story. The main culprit, if you will, of using most of them is Lymond, but others also do. I had to wonder about why they were included. Ms. Dunnett must have had a reason for going through the seemingly immense effort to locate appropriate quotes from all of the various languages. What purpose did they serve? I sincerely doubt that she was “showing off” her own intellect or accomplishments by including them. As I read, I kept wondering and pondering until I reached a place in the text where I think she revealed the true reason. The main character, Lymond, is having a conversation with Gideon (on page 340 in my copy of the book) who in exasperation exclaims, “I wish to God…that you’d talk—just once—in prose like other people.” In Lymond’s reply he says, “I echo like a mynah” bird, pulling all of these quotations from books he’s read. He’s a very well read man, that’s certain, and I think he uses language as a weapon or a tool to deflect and confuse or to create a delay while he thinks through the situation at hand. I think when Lymond says he’ll talk in prose like others, it’s a turning point in his growth arc. I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to ruin another’s enjoyment of the story.

My main takeaways from reading this book are varied. Keep an open mind about the writing style. Immerse myself in the story first. Absorb the history as well as the story by putting my inner critic in the back seat while reading. Perhaps jot down or highlight the unfamiliar terms to explore later, but even that I think would pull me from the story itself and detract from enjoying the read.

Are you reading along? What did you think of The Game of Kings, if so? I’m open to having a discussion about what you think of each of these stories, too!

Up next for me is another book off my personal bookshelf: A Place Called Armageddon: Constantinople 1453 by C.C. Humphreys. Humphreys was born in Canada and has lived in the USA and the UK. Again, I know very little about 15th century history and Constantinople. We’ll see what I learn from reading this one…

Happy reading and happy holidays to all!

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.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she must balance her business with caring for her two young children. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has much more to learn. When Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her, she’s convinced he’ll be a loving husband and father for her children.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband… no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Wrapping Up The First Man In Rome #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I have finished reading Colleen McCullough’s The First Man in Rome and it only took me 24 days! As you may recall, the entire book spans 1076 pages with the story proper comprising 931 of those. I chuckled at the Los Angeles Times quote in the front of the book: “An awesome and epic new work…This is an absolutely absorbing story—not simply of the military and political intrigues that went into the final days of the Republic but also of what it was like to live, love and survive at this pivotal point in our civilization…A master storyteller…A 900-plus-page novel that is every bit as hard to put down as it is to pick up.” [emphasis mine] Yes, it is a rather hefty lift!

If you’re just joining my tour of historical fiction written by authors from around the world, you might want to start here by reading why I chose The First Man in Rome. Note that I’m broadening my reading by sampling historical fiction written by authors in countries other than my own USA. I want to see what different nationalities have to say about their point of view of history. I started by sharing my first thoughts about the novel, then my impressions of life in ancient Rome and some overall observations of the story and writing. Today I’m going to talk about the story and my take-aways.

I will admit to being happily surprised to enjoy the story. It’s filled with political intrigue, infighting, actual fighting for ascendancy in the government, and revenge. All of which is not something I typically enjoy reading. I can’t put my finger on what the author did to weave that magical spell over me, but she did! In doing so, I feel like I glimpsed life in ancient Rome. She made that life style along with its trials and tribulations and achievements come to life for me.

More than once I wondered about the kind of research she must have delved into in order to provide the specific details. Did she find source material as to the layout of the ancient buildings and spaces she includes in the story? Did she walk down the roads, the steps, through the green spaces and cluttered parts of the city? How did she know the fighting techniques, the technological advancements, the strategies employed by the generals of the various armies, and, well, everything? The various maps she includes are rather difficult to read but they do help me visualize the areas she writes about. McCullough’s details create a vibrant, breathing society on the page. Makes me want to go do some research of my own.

I’ve read The Thornbirds by McCullough way back when I was a teen. Her style drew me in then just as strongly as she did with this one. That style also seems similar to other historical authors even though she has a unique narrative voice throughout her works. What I mean is that I didn’t notice anything about her author voice that stood out as different than a good storyteller’s technique. As I read from authors around the world, I wonder if I will come across any who write with a different rhythm or meter. We’ll see, I guess…

So, what’s next you may be asking? Dorothy Dunnett’s The Game of Kings. It’s half the size of The First Man in Rome so theoretically it should take me half the time to read it, right?

Happy reading and happy holidays to all!

Betty

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

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

On sale for $1.99 (ebook) through 12/14/21!

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

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

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First Thoughts on First Man In Rome #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

I’ve begun my around the world historical fiction tour with Colleen McCullough’s The First Man in Rome. This is a long, epic work which will probably take me some time to read all the way through. The 1990 paperback I’m reading consists of 1,076 pages, including a Glossary (116 pages) and two Pronunciation Guides (Masculine Last Names and Other Names and Terms; 21 pages). Several maps are also included at the beginning to help orient readers to the territory she writes about. These all have proved very useful, too!

This is not the first McCullough work I’ve read. Back in the dark ages when I was a teenager, I read The Thorn Birds, which I devoured in one night. So when members of the Historical Novel Society Facebook group recommended this one, I figured it’s a good place to start my journey since I already know I like her writing. Although I haven’t read far into her story, I do have several things I’d like to share about the initial experience of reading this book.

I think it’s important to note that I don’t know much about ancient Rome. When I dove in and  started reading the story, I quickly realized I needed to take a different tack. There were far too many unfamiliar terms and historic references to pick up quickly out of context. So I backtracked and read the Glossary and Pronunciation Guides instead. Now, it’s somewhat of a misnomer to call the Glossary by that name since it’s more than just word definitions.

The Glossary actually contains lots of historical context surrounding the people and places and objects in the story. Everything from the biography of famous Romans and others, to how they made wine, to the origin of idiomatic phrases of the time as well as insults. Terms for common units of measurement or money are also explained. Under the entry for toga, for example, I found out about who wore which kind of toga and even a sketch of a pattern to cut out a proper toga that will drape correctly. She also indicates where she has exercised “novelist’s license” (instead of “poetic license” which made me grin) with her character names and other historical references without solid sources where she had to make an inference or best guess. It’s quite apparent she knows her history and has done extensive research into all aspects of ancient Roman life and culture. She also explains her thought process when she needed the “joke name of the kind people in all places at all times have used when they wanted to refer to a faceless yet representative person.” In this story, that name is Lucius Tiddlypuss. I’ll let you look it up for the lengthy explanation, but it was good to know that particular character was not a real person like some others in the story. All in all, reading the Glossary educated me to the place, the people, the government, the society, and more.

Then I read the pronunciation guides to make sure that as I read the often Latin words and the Roman names that I was hearing them in my head correctly. See, I’m a word lover at heart and I understand how the sound (the pronunciation) reflects the society on an internal level. If that makes sense… Language evolves over time with usage and changes in our society, so one thing I’ll be looking at is McCullough’s word choices. She explained some of her reasoning for those in her Glossary, by the way, which is super helpful to me.

Thanksgiving is nearly here in the U.S., so I wish all of my fellow Americans a Happy Thanksgiving! And of course, happy reading! That’s what I’m going to do since I have 931 pages to go… Let the Holiday Season begin!

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.

Discover the Secrets of Roseville series!

Love is never lost; it haunts the heart…   An unsuspecting Southern town. Ghosts. Witchcraft. Skeletons in the closet. Discover the Secrets of Roseville in this five book series… Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, Veiled Visions of Love, and Charmed Against All Odds!

Cover of The Touchstone of Raven Hollow showing a sitting couple embracing before a pile of colorful leaves at the top half, and a raven perched on a pole in front of a stone cabin on the bottom half.

A romantic Thanksgiving story: The Touchstone of Raven Hollow

He dug for the truth and found her magic…

It’s safer to stay hidden. Or so Tara Golden believes. To not draw attention to her healing powers. She has hidden her powers ever since shunned as a child for using them. But occasionally, she helps people passing through town, sure they’d never figure out what saved them. But a tall, sexy geologist is demanding answers to questions she doesn’t want to face at the same time she’s forced to use her nonexistent baking skills to make desserts for an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner. The hunky guy is in for a huge disappointment since she would never expose her abilities and her gifted sisters even to silence the handsome and intriguing man. 

Grant Markel’s condition is cured, his eyesight restored, but the scientist within him won’t accept it’s a miracle. Miracles don’t explain how he overcame a fatal disease. He followed his brother to Roseville on the fool’s errand of creating an alchemical Elixir of Life. Only to have his condition mysteriously disappear without any Elixir or other treatment. When he learns Tara is 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 on the eve of Thanksgiving, Tara must choose between her magical truth or his scientific beliefs in order to escape. Can she step from the shadows to claim her true powers before it’s too late?

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Evolution of a College Name #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I know I’ve mentioned many times just how much I enjoy doing research. Especially if I can actually go to an historic site. But that’s not always necessary. Today I want to talk about the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I chose this college as Daniel Fairhope’s place of employment in 1821.

In Fractured Crystals, Daniel works at the East Tennessee College in Knoxville. However, according to the history on Wikipedia, the original name was Blount College when it was charted in 1794. Then it was recharted in 1807 as the East Tennessee College. In 1809, the first president and only faculty member, Samuel Carrick, died and the school closed. It wasn’t until 1820 the college reopened and needed to find a larger location to handle the growing number of students. In 1828, the college relocated to Barbara Hill, today known as The Hill.

I share that history to say that technically my character was employed by the school in 1821, when it was known as East Tennessee College as I say in the story. But he couldn’t have actually worked there for very long since it didn’t reopen until 1820. Now, the article doesn’t say exactly when in 1820 the school reopened, so there is that wiggle room, right? And the fact that there were growing pains would mean they’d need more teachers, so they’d likely hire Daniel despite his young age at the time.

I always find it fascinating to learn about the evolution of a place and its name. The reasons for the changing name of the college seem straightforward to me. The UT historic timeline states the college was originally named for the territorial Governor William Blount. Blount College also has the claim to fame of being the “first public university chartered west of the Appalachian Divide, one of the first coeducational colleges in America when five women were admitted in1804, and may have been the first school in the country open to students of all religions when most colleges were affiliated with Christian denominations.”

Sounds like quite a solid start to a fine institution, doesn’t it? I’m glad I chose this school for my story, too.

Have you preordered Fractured Crystals yet? I hope you enjoy the story. I had fun writing it!

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.

FRACTURED CRYSTALS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

RELEASES OCTOBER 12, 2021!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. A place where Daniel Fairhope’s family kept life-changing secrets from him.

His sister’s magic is coveted by two powerful, angry witches intent on her willing compliance with their demands. Worse, a witch hunter is on the loose, determined to rid the area of all witches. Struggling to cope with those threats, Daniel discovers his own unique and powerful ability as well as those of his estranged brothers. Abilities they’ll need to unite to protect their sister and the family secrets. But these challenges all pale in comparison to convincing the captivating woman he meets at the inn to trust him before she breaks his heart.

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Nothing but Time: A Pocket Watch Timeskip Story #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

I’m happy to share that book 4 of the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series, Fractured Crystals, is now available for pre-order. See below for more about the story and links to order your copy today.

One of the themes in this story is time, specifically Daniel Fairhope’s ability to timeskip using a very special pocket watch. So, I thought I’d share what this antique watch looks like, or at least the images I used while writing Fractured Crystals.

I found the pocket watch online at the 1st Dibs website. I chose it as the model for my story because of its age and unique design. It’s described there as “a rare Georgian Verge pocket watch.” The watch was designed and signed by Abraham Colomby, a Swiss maker and retailer who died in Geneva in 1776. When this jewelry store offered the watch for sale (at $5,950, though it’s no longer available) it was still keeping time despite being crafted in 1760. Imagine that for a moment: it has been working for something like 261 years! Blows me away. The workmanship Mr. Colomby brought to bear on a watch.

I love the design of this fancy watch! The rose cut diamonds surrounding the front crystal face and the enamel portrait of a lady on the back, also surrounded by diamonds. Apparently, there are 142 rose cut diamonds in all. Now I did modify the watch a bit to add a second button for my timeskip purposes, but mostly I left it alone.

Here’s a short excerpt when Daniel first encounters the watch in Fractured Crystals:


Giles chuckled at the slight and Daniel shot him a quelling look. Giles merely shrugged and pulled a pocket watch from his front jeans pocket. The gold case with its ring of gems glinted in the evening light, a long chain securing the timepiece to his brother’s pocket. Everything around Daniel came to a standstill as he stared at the beautiful, captivating, entrancing watch. His brother studied the time and then glanced up at him, his smirk shifting into a puzzled frown.

“What’s the matter?” Giles held the watch on his palm, his gaze on Daniel.

“May I see it?” He needed to hold it. His fingers itched to grasp the gold object with a circle of small diamonds around the crystal. “Please?”

Giles regarded him for a long moment and then nodded. “I don’t know why, but now that you ask I feel like it’s the exact right thing to do.”

Giles released the chain’s clasp and then dropped the pocket watch lightly on Daniel’s outstretched palm. The name Abraham Colomby, the watch’s maker, graced the white face of the watch in a flowing script. The metal case warmed to his touch and a sense of peace and rightness filled him. A truly unique sensation. As if the watch had come home to him. He turned it over to stare into the painted coquettish eyes of a young woman in a fancy pink gown and large purple hat with white feathers arching above it on the back. On one side of the watch a nub of a stem bumped the pad of his thumb.

“Where did you get this?” Daniel asked Giles, meeting his brother’s surprised expression.

“In the trunks in Ma’s attic. At the time, I thought I wanted it for its utility but now I get the impression there was more to it.” Giles folded his arms over his massive chest, his eyes serious as he met Daniel’s gaze. “You look like you’ve found your true love, my brother.”

No, not his true love. Something more. A deeper connection. Daniel inspected the watch, turning it slowly in his hand. “I… It’s mine. I know it is, but I don’t remember ever seeing it before.” He frowned down at the gleaming gold metal and then glanced at his mother. “Do you know?”

“Well of course it’s yours, Daniel. You are a Timeskipper after all. I’ve kept it safe for you until your return. Or rather, Giles has kept it under his protection as Guardian.”


I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Daniel and getting to know more about the secretive Fairhope family as well. I’ve heard from several readers how anxious they are to read this story after reading the first three in the series: The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, Under Lock and Key, and Desperate Reflections. Fractured Crystals is coming soon!

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.

FRACTURED CRYSTALS IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER!

RELEASES OCTOBER 12, 2021!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. A place where Daniel Fairhope’s family kept life-changing secrets from him.

His sister’s magic is coveted by two powerful, angry witches intent on her willing compliance with their demands. Worse, a witch hunter is on the loose, determined to rid the area of all witches. Struggling to cope with those threats, Daniel discovers his own unique and powerful ability as well as those of his estranged brothers. Abilities they’ll need to unite to protect their sister and the family secrets. But these challenges all pale in comparison to convincing the captivating woman he meets at the inn to trust him before she breaks his heart.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: Rockingham #history #Princeton #NewJersey #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

The last of the war-time headquarters was in Princeton, New Jersey, or more precisely Rocky Hill, at a house known as Rockingham. According to the Rockingham site, the house was built around 1710 with two rooms and a lean-to. Judge John Berrien added on to the house in the 1760s, making the house first known as the Berrien Mansion. The original location of the house had it on a hill overlooking a river, but it has been moved several times to its current location.

George managed the final tasks of the army over several month in 1783. In fact he wrote to his nephew George Augustine Washington the following on August 18, 1783 from Newburgh: “I shall set off for Princeton tomorrow… I carry my baggage with me, it being the desire of the Congress that I should remain till the arrival of the Definitive Treaty…which…is every day expected.” He had no idea just how long he’d be cooling his heals upon his arrival, but from reading his correspondence during this period of time he became evermore antsy for the treaty to arrive so he could finally put finish to the war and go home to his beloved Mount Vernon. He had rarely visited his home over the duration of the hostilities beginning in June 1775 when he left for the Second Continental Congress in Philadelphia.

Remember from last week’s post that he had to move on to this location even though Martha was still laid up with a fever back in Newburgh, NY, until she recovered in late August 1783. When she arrived at Rockingham, she found a two-story clapboard house overlooking a river. My hubby and I were fortunate to be able to tour the home with the caretaker and ask questions. Martha’s bedchamber, he said, was upstairs while George slept downstairs. I’m not sure I believe that, though, since the couple was very close and loved each other. The stairs leading to the second floor were rather narrow and steep, so I find it unlikely she’d want to have to traverse them frequently. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside, but the house is furnished with reproductions of furniture and furnishings of Washington’s time spent there.

On October 31, 1783, George Washington and Congress were informed of the signing of the final treaty declaring that the American States were now independent from Britain. Can you imagine the huge sigh of relief he must have let it out at such wonderful news? He could finally go home! Only not just yet. There were a couple more details that had to be handled. It was at Rockingham that George wrote the Farewell Orders to the Armies of the United States, which were delivered to the Continental Army at West Point, and probably his farewell speech he gave on his way home to Virginia.

Martha left for Mount Vernon early in November while George stayed behind. On December 4, 1783, he officially bid farewell from his officers at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. Then he headed south, first stopping for a time in Philadelphia to wrap up personal and public affairs. But while he longed to be home, he understood his role in the new country’s future. In a letter to John Ewing dated December 13, 1783, from Philadelphia he wrote: “Tho the military Scene is now closed, and I am hastening with unspeakable delight to the still and placid walks of domestic Life; yet even there will my Country’s happiness be ever nearest to my heart—and, while I cherish the fond idea, I shall retain a pleasing remembrance of the able support the Public has often received from the learned Professions; whose prosperity is so essential to the preservation of the Liberties, as well as the augmentation of the happiness & glory of this extensive Empire.” Keep in mind Martha was probably anxiously awaiting him at Mount Vernon by this time.

I find it very interesting that there are no letters from Martha during this entire period. I would think she corresponded with her family and friends at least occasionally, but none are included in the compiled collection of her papers I have on hand. Was she busy with household concerns or ill? I don’t know. It’s only my speculation. I would hope that George had written to her as well, though if you recall one of the things Martha did before she died was to burn all but a few letters between her and George.

He wrote at least a dozen letters while in Philadelphia before telling George Clinton on December 15, 1783, “I am within a few Minutes of setting off for Virginia—passing thro’ Annapolis—where I shall stay two or three days only…”

He passed through Wilmington, then Baltimore, and finally stopped in Annapolis, Maryland, by the 20th of December to officially resign his commission to quash any rumors that he wanted to reign as king. One of my sources claims that Martha went to Annapolis to hear the speech. She might have as her son’s wife’s family lived in that area and she may have wanted to visit with them. But after being on the road so long, I have my doubts that she’d want to travel during December.

In George’s correspondence online his official resignation is dated December 23, 1783 in which he opens with, “The great events on which my resignation depended having at length taken place; I have now the honor of offering my sincere Congratulations to Congress & of presenting myself before them to surrender into their hands the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the Service of my Country.” In a subsequent letter he noted that the resignation went into effect at twelve that day. You can read his Address to Congress on the day of his resignation, too.

His satisfaction and relief are so apparent in every letter of his that I read it’s obvious to me he wanted nothing more than to retire to private life again. He and Martha looked forward to spending quiet days at Mount Vernon entertaining their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Out of the public eye and safe from any further hostilities or vitriol.

And yet we all know how well that worked out, right?

In case you’ve missed the other posts, I’ve covered these sites:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.

Back to Pennsylvania and the John Penn House in Philadelphia from 1781-1782.

Next to last war-time HQ was at Newburgh, NY during 1782-1783.

That wraps up my Martha Washington Slept Here series of the American Revolution headquarters sites.

Until next time, may your reading take you many places!

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.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: Hasbrouck House in Newburgh #history #NewYork #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

The next stop on the Martha Washington Slept Here tour is in Newburgh, New York, the headquarters from March 1782 through around July 1783. The Hasbrouck House had a good view of the Hudson River and was conveniently located near town. George and Martha left Philadelphia in late March 1782 to move the HQ to this location, which was apparently a very tight fit for George’s household and “family”—the military aides supporting him.

In July 1782 Martha left New York to go home to Mount Vernon. On the way through Pennsylvania, the Assembly presented her with a coach and when she arrived back in Virginia, the city of Williamsburg gave her gold medals and the freedom of the city. Keep in mind that at this point in the American Revolution the war was practically over, though skirmishes continued in various places and Charleston was still besieged by the British. (The British left Charleston mid-December 1782, an event depicted in my A More Perfect Union historical romance series at the end of Samantha’s Secret (#3). The lavish gifts bestowed on Martha showed the people’s great esteem of her and her husband in the effort to win freedom for the country.

George stayed in Newburgh, eventually realizing he wasn’t going to be able to go home as he’d hoped. In October, he wrote to Martha asking her to return to the camp. So in November, she got in her coach and headed north. Little did she realize just how long she’d be away from home! Naturally, upon her return to camp she slipped into familiar routines of socializing, sewing, and she reportedly even planted a garden.

In February 1783, they marked the fifth anniversary of alliance with France by George pardoning all military prisoners. I suspect Martha attended the release or at least was in the room when the freed prisoners came to thank George. I think she’d want to celebrate along with her husband in every way possible on such an auspicious day.

It wasn’t until April 18 that the day’s General Orders announced the cessation of hostilities between the United States of America and the King of Great Britain. Only then could George begin the work involved in ending the army’s engagement and sending the enlisted men and officers home. That effort would take several months and include another change of the headquarters location.

But that summer of 1783 Martha became very ill with a fever. While she suffered and slowly recovered, George was forced to move the headquarters to New Jersey. From what I’ve read of her illness, she seemed to suffer a great deal over the hot summer months. As soon as she was well enough in late August, Martha also moved to New Jersey, the topic of next week’s post.

In case you’ve missed the earlier posts, so far I’ve covered these camps:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.

Back to Pennsylvania and the John Penn House in Philadelphia from 1781-1782.

I often find myself thinking about the life Martha led and how different it must have wound up being from what she’d imagined as a girl growing up on a middling plantation. She went from obscurity to renowned and reverenced by a nation. What a concept, eh?

Until next time, may your reading take you many places!

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.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

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Traveling to the Yazoo Lands in 1783 #historical #romance #history #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Today’s post is a throwback one because I have an unexpected road trip (from Alabama to Georgia to pick up my daughter and take her to Maryland for a judging apprenticeship) and won’t have time to write a new one. I will continue my Martha Washington Slept Here series next week, though.

But before I share the reprisal of a 2016 blog along with a short excerpt with you, I want to let you know that Evelyn’s Promise (A More Perfect Union Book 4) is on sale at Amazon for only 99 cents! See below for the book description and cover as well as the link to go pick up your copy while it’s on sale (only through 8/9/21).

Since Evelyn’s Promise is on sale it only seemed fitting to tell you something about the story. Here’s a reprisal of a blog from 2016 where I talk about some of the research that went into writing Evelyn and Nathaniel’s story.

She needed to flee, but to where? That question had me searching the historic records for a place for Evelyn, along with Nathaniel, to move at the end of Evelyn’s Promise. Somewhere on the new frontier, now that the American Revolution had ended. Somewhere dangerous yet appealing to the adventurous and courageous. Somewhere her friends and family would object to her attempting to make the arduous journey.

After some digging, I found the Yazoo Lands and the ensuing land scandal. The area encompasses what is now northern Alabama and was largely inhabited by Indians, or the ancestors of the people today we call Native Americans. The area only sparsely had white people settling on land, trying to start new towns and cities.

Having identified the ultimate destination, then I had to study the historic maps to determine the route they would most likely take to wend their way across hostile land and territory. How would a lady with an infant travel from the eastern coast near Charlestown (present day Charleston), South Carolina, across rough roads and trails, crossing swollen rivers, mountains, and forests to the edge of the newly independent country?

As difficult as it must have been, she’d most likely travel by wagon as far as possible. Perhaps later she’d be forced to ride astride through the roughest terrain, but for my purposes she’d start out in a wagon of some fashion. Which she did through the end of the story, which ends long before she would have reached her destination.

I believe in understanding the situations my characters would have faced in their day and with the constraints of the society and the technology available. Adhering as closely as possible, based on research, to the realities of life in the 18th century enriches the context of the stories. People then faced very different challenges on a day-to-day basis than we do today. The speed with which we can travel across America, and indeed the world, would be truly astonishing to people living in the 1700s. That’s one aspect of life in the past that I’ve tried to underscore for my readers.

Now for the short excerpt:


Evelyn climbed aboard the carriage with Jemma holding Jim beside her. Jack rode a sturdy dark brown gelding, leading the way out of town, following instructions from Benjamin as to the direction Nat had planned to take. The urgency continued to build in her chest as they trotted away from town and toward her man.

Time dragged with each passing mile. The hallmarks of the town gave way to gently rolling hills and forests. Immense herds of deer bounded away from the noisy conveyance. Foxes paused to stare at them before darting into the trees. Red-tailed hawks soared high above, their piercing cry sounding like a warning.

Every hour they rested the horses for a few minutes, themselves dismounting and stretching cramped legs and backs. The hard wheels of the carriage did nothing to absorb the shock of ruts and rocks, rattling their bones and teeth with each jolt. Little Jim fussed for the first hour before crying himself to sleep. Thereafter he seemed to have grown accustomed to the monotony. How far behind Nat had they fallen? How many days of the bumpy ride would she have to endure before she could put her arms around him?

Late afternoon found them approaching a small town grown up around where two roads crossed. In truth, the town consisted only of a handful of buildings, including a tavern, millinery, and an apothecary shop.

“I suggest we ascertain whether we can find lodgings in the tavern.” Slowing the horses to a walk, Evelyn studied the group of buildings. “If we go on, we may not come across another place to eat or, worse, sleep for hours.”

Jemma tried to quiet the fussy boy. “Jim’s tired and hungry, so I agree with you.”

“Sure enough the safest plan,” Jack said.


Thanks for your patience and understanding as I bring back a previous blog. 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.

Determined to make her own way in the newly independent America and live free of the dictates and demands of another husband, widow Evelyn Hamilton faces soaring post-war inflation and rebuilding her home as she struggles to provide for herself and her infant son.

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, intent on starting over after the devastation of the war and the loss of his wife. But when his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, he’s forced to make the hardest decision of his life.

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Martha Washington Slept Here: John Penn House in Philadelphia #history #Pennsylvania #AmericanRevolution #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Let’s continue with the series on Martha Washington Slept Here by visiting Philadelphia. Following the pivotal capture of Lt. General Earl Cornwallis at Yorktown in September 1781, George Washington became concerned about a “relaxation” of intensity in pursuit of winning the American Revolution. He wrote many letters to officials and officers encouraging diligence and actively pursuing the enemy until a cessation of fighting could be treated. He didn’t want the country, least not the army, to let their guard down and reverse the tide.

One personal casualty of Yorktown was young John Parke Custis, 26 years old, who died in early November 1781. Jacky, as he was nicknamed, was Martha Washington’s youngest child from her previous marriage. He left behind a wife and four children after dying from camp fever.

After burying her son, Martha did not want to stay at Mount Vernon while George headed north to Philadelphia for the winter at Congress’ request. When they arrived on November 27, 1781, in that city, they set up housekeeping at 242 South 3rd Street. This red brick home had been built by John Penn, the last Colonial governor of the state in 1766. Another important figure followed who lived in the house, Benjamin Chew, the final Colonial Chief Justice. When the Washingtons stayed in the house, it had been lent to them by the Spanish diplomat, Francisco Rondon. The original house has long since been torn down, but another lovely home has taken its place. As a result, I don’t really know much about what the house featured when Martha stayed in it. It was apparently a three-story house which may have had a kind of turret to one side. You can see a picture of it here, the one in the background to the right, which was taken from The City of Philadelphia as it appeared in the Year 1800.

It is interesting to me that in the compilation of Martha Washington’s papers, there are no letters from or to her during the period of October 1781 to October 1782. The last letter is one in October 1781 from her son, writing to her from the encampment outside of Yorktown. Without any first hand account of her experience it is a matter of conjecture that she likely did similar things during her stay in the by then familiar city. They had friends who lived there as well as army colleagues because they had been there before. How much they attended parties or balls while in mourning for Jacky is also a matter of conjecture. Perhaps George felt an obligation to attend but Martha did not? Or maybe she did accompany him.

In case you’ve missed the earlier posts, so far I’ve covered these camps:

The first winter headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1775.

The second winter headquarters in Morristown, NJ, in 1776.

Then Valley Forge in 1777-78.

Next at Middlebrook from 1778-79.

Next at Morristown, NJ from 1779-1780. 

Next in New Windsor, NY from 1780-1781.

I can only try imagine how sad Martha and George must have felt that winter. Despite the very wonderful news of the success at Yorktown, Martha had buried all four of her children and her first husband. Jacky’s wife was faced with raising four children on her own. However, George and Martha essentially adopted two of them to help out with raising them.

Until next time, when we’ll venture back to Newburgh, NY, 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.

Martha “Patsy” Custis manages an immense eighteenth-century plantation in the Virginia colony. But as a young widow she’s hard pressed to balance her business and to care for her two young children. They need a father and protector. She needs a husband and business partner…one she can trust, especially now as tensions rise between the motherland and the American colonies. Her experience and education have sustained her thus far but when her life veers in an unexpected direction, she realizes she has so much more to learn.

Colonel George Washington takes an interest in her and she’s surprised to find him so sociable and appealing. They form an instant bond and she is certain he’ll be a likeable and loving husband and father figure for her children. She envisions a quiet life at Mount Vernon, working together to provide for their extended family.

But when trouble in the form of British oppression, taxes, and royal arrogance leads to revolt and revolution, George must choose between duty to country and Martha. Compelled to take matters into her own hands, Martha must decide whether to remain where she belongs or go with her husband…no matter what the dangerous future may hold.

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple     Books2Read