Inspiration for Christmas Meet Cute in #NotesofLoveandWar #WWII #HistFic #Historical #Fiction #ReadIndie

This time of year has me thinking more about my parents than usual. Of course, this year has made many of us nostalgic for happier times in the past. Or longing for happier times next year. Or both! One big reason for why they come to mind around Christmas is because they were married the day after at Mom’s church in Maryland. Dad moved from Miami, Florida, to marry his sweetheart, which is similar to what Charlie does in Notes of Love and War. That is one of the inspirations from my parents’ love story that found its way into my historical fiction.

Another inspiration for my story is how my parents met in real life. Dad was stationed at Ft. Meade, Maryland, during World War Two. Mom lived with her parents outside of Baltimore. The pastor of her church encouraged the parishioners to invite single soldiers to their home for Christmas dinner. I believe my mother’s friend’s family invited several soldiers and her friend invited Mom to attend to fill out the table with an equal number of men and women. So Mom went and she met my dad. They became pen pals, nothing more, because Mom was seeing another guy who intended to be a lawyer. It was a large group Christmas dinner party, of some kind. I never got a lot of details out of either of them as to what all happened. In Notes of Love and War, I have Charlie attend a full-blown Christmas party at Audrey’s co-workers’ home. Here’s a short snippet to give you a feel for how I imagined them meeting for the first time. Audrey is trying to fend off the unwanted attentions of another man while a certain handsome soldier is making his way toward her…

Audrey glanced at her egg nog and suppressed a sigh. She did enjoy the holiday creation. But the sacrifice would be worthwhile. She met the man’s gaze and opened her mouth to say she had to leave the party, when he suddenly lifted one hand and waved at someone behind her, upending her cup onto the floor with a crash. She jumped back a few steps, egg nog oozing among the fractured glass across the hardwood floor.

“Rather clumsy of you, miss.” He frowned at her but made no move to help. “Here I thought you were a lady. My mistake.” He tapped two fingers to his brow and then walked away, slowly shaking his head.

“That was quite rude.” Gloria huffed at his disrespect and then turned to Audrey. “Keep others from walking in it and I’ll run and find a towel to clean this mess up. Be right back.”

Flustered and embarrassed, Audrey guarded the area as best she could. The rude man had created the incident and left her facing the others as if it were all her fault. Annoyance bubbled inside as she tried to hide her discomfiture with a smile. One she feared didn’t quite meet the need. If only the floor would open and swallow her, then she wouldn’t feel spotlighted. Especially as the handsome soldier brushed past the last couple of partygoers separating him from where she waited for Gloria’s return.

When he stopped, he offered his hand to her. “Major Charles Powers, ma’am. But my friends all call me Charlie.”

“Audrey Harper.” She clasped his hand to shake once, startled by the unexpected sizzle arcing up her arm, and then released his fingers. “Watch your step, Charlie.”

”Did the fellow at least apologize for spilling your drink?”

Audrey made a moue. “Blamed me for his clumsiness. I suppose he’s had a bad day.”

Charlie studied her and then glanced at the man in question. “You’re far too kind in his regard. I dare say he doesn’t deserve your sympathy.”

Gloria arrived with a flowered towel over her arm and a dust pan and small whisk broom in her hands. “Hold this for a minute, will you?” She offered her arm holding the towel to Audrey and then squatted to sweep the glass shards into the dust pan.

Audrey gazed at him over Gloria’s back and shrugged. “Consider it a holiday gift to him. Tis the season, right?”

Like I said, I don’t really know what occurred at the dinner party where my parents met or how they reacted to each other. Knowing my dad, though, he probably thought her very fine and wanted to keep in touch any way possible. They wrote to each other for a while until she became engaged to the other man. Then Dad stopped the correspondence, and Mom apparently got rid of Dad’s letters since she was going to marry someone else. She mentioned in a later letter that she hadn’t kept all of his, at least. But Dad had kept Mom’s! Only “something” the lawyer’s mother had done broke up the engagement. Again, I have no clues as to what that might have been, but it was fuel for my imagination!

After some time passed, Dad wrote to Mom again to see how she was doing. She told him about the broken engagement and their correspondence blossomed again. If it wasn’t for the wealth of correspondence between them, I wouldn’t know as much about them today as I do. I’ve had many long conversations with both of them, but they were in their early 40s when I was born. By the time we’d be talking about their courtship and such they were in their 60s. Their view of their youth and their early years together most likely morphed with age and different perspectives.

I used my parents’ concerns and activities and in some cases lingo to give Notes of Love and War authenticity even though the story is purely fiction. I found myself pondering what choices and decisions she would have been faced with when expecting to move from Baltimore to Miami after they married. That’s what I explored while writing Audrey’s story, knowing the final outcome for my own mother. It really was an interesting way to try to get to know my parents better, trying to be on the inside of their relationship however imperfectly. I hope you enjoy the story! If you’d like to sample before you buy, you can read the first 3 chapters here.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!


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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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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!


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!

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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…

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