What’s in a Name (or Title)? #historical #HistFic #paranormal #romance #PNR #fiction #amreading #amwriting #books

Choosing the title for a book is a challenge for many authors. I know I wrestle with many options before finally deciding one suits the story. I have come to the point in my career where I choose the name of a book based on my objectives for it as well as the content of the story. The titles for the American Revolution historical romance series I wrote are one case in point.

I tried on three or four different sets of titles for those books before landing on the final ones. They parallel in structure and in content, too. The A More Perfect Union series includes Elizabeth’s Hope (novella), Book 1 Emily’s Vow, #2 Amy’s Choice, #3 Samantha’s Secret, and #4 Evelyn’s Promise. From the titles you know who the main heroine is and the theme of the story. These stories are closely coupled, though you can read them individually and still enjoy the story. In fact the first three novels span October to December 1782. Evelyn’s Promise picks up in January 1783 and continues through the spring. Since the stories are so connected, it makes sense to have the titles also be linked. (In case you’re curious, another set of titles I liked but didn’t choose for the first three novels was for Book 1 Sunlight and Sacrifice, #2 Moonlight and Muskets, and #3 Starlight and Stitches. They include one set of themes and some nice alliteration but they didn’t feel right to me.)

For my paranormal romance series, Secrets of Roseville, I purposely did not make the titles parallel in any way. When I started the series I didn’t know exactly how many stories it would embrace. But I want readers to get the sense that they are individual stories just from their titles. From their titles, I want the reader to have an inkling as to the paranormal aspect of the story and the main theme as well. Most of the titles in this series came easily. Undying Love, Haunted Melody, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, and the last one Charmed Against All Odds. But the fourth book’s title was a tussle. Veiled Visions of Love went through many iterations and word swapping before I settled on it.

Let’s look a bit closer at each title in that series so you can see my thought process at work.

Undying Love is about a haunted plantation, Twin Oaks, and Meredith’s personal haunting by the memory of her dead husband and child and how she comes to terms with her grief. Her never-ending love for them both but also the Lady in Blue’s love for her family.

Haunted Melody is also set in Twin Oaks, with a different ghost this time, and Paulette’s rediscovery of her love of singing. There are many songs referenced in the story, too.

The Touchstone of Raven Hollow was a bit trickier. It’s about a geologist (the stone part) and a witch who can heal through her hands (the touch part) and is a nod to “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. The concept of the enchanted hollow or valley comes from an old Irish myth I read years ago, too. Essentially, a beautiful woman is enchanted to look like a hag until she learns humility. When a traveler offers her something to make her feel better, only then is she released from the spell. The geologist and healer are trapped in Raven Hollow until they can break the spell holding them there.

Veiled Visions of Love is about a psychic woman who can read others emotions and feelings except for the man she falls in love with. Thus her sight of him is “veiled” or obscured. But I had played with so many other words for “hidden” or “obscured” that just didn’t sound right. I love the alliteration in the final title but it took some time to finally get there.

Charmed Against All Odds came to me while driving home from a writers’ retreat in the northern mountains of Alabama. The song Against All Odds was playing on the radio, and the lyrics described the situation in my story almost perfectly. The lover who returns but is afraid of being rejected only to be welcomed by his ex-lover. The “charmed” part comes from the theme of an enchanted charm bracelet and the charms that the couple must locate to assemble the set and learn their true destiny.

I have two standalone titles as well. Both are historical fiction but in very different time periods. The first is Becoming Lady Washington: A Novel, set in the 18th century in Virginia and other states. This story is told from Martha Washington’s point of view, the only novel I’ve ever written in first person. It tells about how she learned what she needed to know in order to become the woman who would support George Washington’s roles as general and then first president.

The second historical fiction title is Notes of Love and War, set during World War Two in Baltimore, Maryland. This is an epistolary style novel, including letters and telegrams, but the term “notes” also refers to the fact that the main character is a musician and music critic. She is only given that role after the male music critic was drafted to fight in the war.

I think from this discussion you can get a good idea of my process for choosing the titles for my stories. Hopefully, as you read my books you’ll be able to discern the basis for the titles, too.

Thanks for 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.

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!

His desire for a home led him straight to her heart…

She craves more. More adventure. More drama. More excitement. Beth Golden knows without a doubt that she’ll die of boredom working in the family bookstore in small town Roseville. She’s resigned to her fate. Until a handsome biker rolls into town with an air of confidence and mystery. When he introduces her to a whole new world of daring and romance, she’s captivated by a lifestyle filled with unexpected and dangerous surprises.

Mitch Sawyer has one more job to complete before he can finally settle down. He has lived all over the world and wants nothing more than to have his own home with a wife and family. A dream he’ll be able to afford after this final airplane repo job when he can resign his Air Force commission. He reluctantly allows Beth, the sexy and entrancing book lover, to help him by becoming an undercover biker chick. Only Beth’s hunger for excitement endangers both herself and an innocent bystander.

Can he protect the woman and young boy—and his heart—before it’s too late?

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Reflecting on Army Camp Life on Guadalcanal #WWII #research #history #amwriting #amreading #American #histfic #historical #fiction #books

When my dad died about 10 years ago, I inherited his papers and photographs and other items important to him. He kept them in two metal trunks, one black and one green, plus a couple smaller plastic file/tote boxes. I treasure each one and have shared some of his things with other family members who also value them. One of the most interesting collections I came across recently is a set of Coconotes newsletters of life and activities in the army camp, the 20th Station Hospital, where he was stationed on Guadalcanal.

Front page of an issue of Coconotes camp newsletter

These newsletters are important and interesting to me because not only do they describe the concerns, events, USO performances, sports, etc., happening on the island but many of them actually list my dad as first the associate editor and then as editor of the publication. In reading through the contents, I could see how he put his mark on the contents as well. He served as associate editor June-July 1944, then as editor until the middle of November 1944. At that point, he was due to receive a direct commission so he was sent to Hawaii to receive it. (Only, the promotion fell through because they lost the paperwork. A story for another time, perhaps.)

Several of the papers include articles he wrote and sketches he drew to illustrate them. His signature is on the cartoons, too. I have always known my dad was also a writer. I’ve read many of his short stories, poems, limericks, and even a song he wrote and had put to music. If I knew he edited these newsletters, then I had totally forgotten until I rediscovered them in his trunks.

This article called “SNAFU” is not about what that term typically refers to, but is about the need to save money for the future rather than spending it now. Specifically, SNAFU means Spending Now Averts Future Use. I can well imagine he made that up, knowing his penchant for humor and for saving money. I also found a small notebook he carried while on the island that has a list of the money he sent home to his mother to save for him. So I know this topic was dear to him.

I mentioned that the contents changed under his leadership. The earlier newsletters included on the back page a list of jokes and cartoons. The later ones included a summary of the news at the various front lines of the war. Of particular note is the fact that a new copyright notification appears on the masthead and there is a note from the official censer that the soldiers could not mail the newsletter home. Having said that, it’s rather ironic that I found the set of newsletters in a large envelope my dad mailed home to his mother…

Mailing envelope from my dad to his mother

Are you curious about the kinds of things they did during the war? Well, the two or three Red Cross nurses hosted events throughout the week, including bingo, craft lessons, donut day, dances, and holiday dinners. In the October 17, 1944 issue, there is an announcement that the “20th to Celebrate Two Years Overseas” with a supper party including grilled steak with all the fixings and beer. This was a very special dinner, from all appearances. The nurses also provided mending services for the soldiers. To keep fit, the soldiers played baseball, including having tournaments with other island teams. Volleyball and swimming were also favorite activities, as well as hiking and fishing.

I am amazed at the number of jokes included in each issue. Some of which are no longer funny, but most of them have stood the test of time, in my opinion. I wonder where they culled them from. Or did they make them up?

Another surprise was the number of poems about life on the island and in the army that are included throughout the issues in my possession. One man in particular wrote many poems for the newsletter. I did a quick online search to see if he continued a career in poetry but his name didn’t yield any results. I may see if I can poke around more to find out what became of him. He had quite a talent!

I’m in the process of documenting their contents and my husband is scanning them into pdf files for archival purposes. Once their digitized, then I can share them with the rest of my family, too. I intend to offer the collection of newsletters and a few other specific items that I think have historical value to the National World War Two Museum in New Orleans. They already have an oral history interview with my father from 2009, and he’s listed in their Honor Roll registry. But the contents of these newsletters provides a different view of life during a world war, so I think they should have them for safe keeping.

Hoppy Easter and thanks for 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.

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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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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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!

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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Sending Letters in a Time of War #Baltimore #WWII #research #history #ReadIndie #NotesofLoveandWar

Letters during WWII kept soldiers fighting oversees aware of what was happening at home. How their families and loved ones were faring. Letters remained a vital part of communication even after the fighting ended. But the interesting thing to me is the many forms of communication that I found in my dad’s collection of correspondence.

Not only penned letters on stationary, but also telegrams, post cards, greeting cards, and the most intriguing Victory Mail (V-Mail). There is a complete history and explanation at that link about the format and uses of V-Mail. Including a tutorial of sorts on how letters should be written to be upbeat and positive to bolster the reasons for why the men were fighting. It’s an interesting online exhibit to poke around in.

I’ve been slowly working my way through transcribing my dad’s correspondence so I thought I’d share a few examples of the kinds of ways he sent and received letters. Note that I started with the year they married, 1948, as that has the bulk of the exchange since they were getting reacquainted after not contacting each other in years. As you can see in this photo of all his letters, sorted by year, month, and day, there are a lot of letters to get through.

Hundreds of letters! Not even counting the V-Mail…

My mother’s stationery varied over time but here’s an example from July 1948:

Upon occasion, Dad started typing his letters on the letterhead for the photography company he worked for:

Dad sent a postcard to my mother in September 1948, but included within the folded letter in an envelope:

Mom sent Dad a telegram to confirm when she’d arrive in Miami in June 1948 for a visit with him, bringing her sister along for the vacation:

But seriously look at the number of V-Mail letters my dad received! They are each a little bigger than a playing card, or maybe about the size of a tarot card.

V-Mail letters to my dad. The first one is from his mother.

The V-Mail letters are from his friends, fellow soldiers, brothers and sisters, and mother. I didn’t find any letters between father and son, though. Which isn’t surprising because they really didn’t see eye-to-eye. Dad harbored some hard feelings toward his father to the last of his days.

In Notes of Love and War, you’ll find letters, telegrams, and V-Mail being exchanged between Audrey and her brother, father, and Charlie. The formats within the book are designed to reflect, though not exactly replicate, each form of communication. It’s more apparent in the paperback than ebook, of course, since the medium allows for anchoring the text to the page in ways that a digital book cannot. My aim was to provide a feeling for the varying kinds of communication and thus lend a sense of the times to modern day readers.

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.

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

The Infamous Owl Bar at the Belvedere #Baltimore #research #history #Speakeasy #ReadIndie

Remember how much I love to go to historic sites to do research? It’s even better when I can do so with great friends and food and drink is involved!

While researching for Notes of Love and War, I wanted to visit the Baltimore Streetcar Museum to actually ride on a 1940s era streetcar (which I did but that’s a story for another time). I invited my dear friends to meet me and my husband for lunch and then go to the museum. She asked around for recommendations since she lives in Maryland and we found ourselves going to the famous (or infamous) Owl Bar at the Belvedere Hotel in downtown Baltimore.

I didn’t know anything about the Owl Bar but I had heard of the Belvedere. It’s an elegant and distinguished building catering to the elite of society. If you’re interested in its history, you can read more and see some photos of it here. In fact, many celebrities have stayed at the hotel and probably dined at the Owl Bar while there.

Before going into the bar for lunch, we paused to look at the Celebrity Wall. The wall features photos of the many celebrities who had visited. Now, the fact that celebrities were so prone to frequent the site made me wonder whether my father might have also gone to the Owl Bar when he was in town visiting my mother before they married, or perhaps upon occasion after they married and settled down in the area. See, my dad has met a host of celebrities in his life. Bob Hope, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jack Benny, and even Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh who starred in Gone with the Wind to name a few. In his 1999 memoir, Through the Lens, he even included a section where he listed the ones he remembered meeting.

So I can only wonder if he might have gone to the famous Owl Bar to check out who he might see. I wish I could ask him about it, but he passed in 2011. So many questions I would love to have answers to after delving into his personal correspondence a couple of years ago! But just pondering the possibility while looking at the pictures started me realizing that I may indeed be walking where he might have been. A chill swept through me at the thought, one that would be repeated several times that day.

I can imagine the Owl Bar would have drawn him in with its intrigue. See, it was a speakeasy during Prohibition. Apparently, they kept two owl figures on the bar. If they were lit, then alcohol was available. A silent yet effective way of letting the patrons know whether it was safe to order a beer or whiskey. We enjoyed our meal and the experience of the bar. I’m glad we went and I’d go back (but they’re currently closed until further notice). It was rather fun to try to imagine the place filled with people (at lunch time there weren’t that many people in the bar) all having a good time with music perhaps playing. It was the kind of place I could see my dad clearly feeling at home.

While the Owl Bar and the Belvedere are not included in Notes of Love and War, it did provide me with a feel of the city and its surroundings. I hope my sense of the environment and imaginings about what it might have been like in the 1940s during WWII is conveyed throughout my story. Let me know after you read it, won’t you?

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.

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.

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

The Arabbers’ Role in Baltimore’s History #inspiration #arabbers #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

I’ve shared previously about the excellent history book I used as research for writing Notes of Love and War. Within the pages of Home Front Baltimore was mention of the arabbers (pronounced ay-rabbers) in Baltimore. These merchants were new to me, but apparently not to my brother who still lives in Maryland. So I did some more research to learn more about them, and let me tell there is much of interest surrounding these unique men.

All they need to bring merchandise, produce, meat/fish, home furnishings, or any other portable item to the people of the city was a horse, a colorfully decorated wagon, and sturdy shoes. From what I read, arabbers were in many major cities along the eastern seaboard of America beginning in the 1800s. They were very important for residents who couldn’t travel to a store or who may have been ill. After all, the store came to them, along with a cheery conversation with the men and perhaps a friendly pat for the horse. The horses are usually bedecked in plumes or feathers, with jangling harness. The men developed their own individual “look” for their wagons and created a catchy attention-grabbing jingle that would help the customers know who was approaching their front door. The residents know and trust these salesmen, too.

Here’s a short snippet where the arabbers are mentioned in Notes of Love and War:

“Audrey half-jogged down the crowded sidewalk, weaving past people bustling along wrapped head to toe, scarves and gloves barriers against the cold. The melodic chant of an arabber drifted over the murmur of conversation around her. A patient horse in jingling harness pulled the man’s colorful wagon, piled with heads of broccoli and cauliflower as well as lemons and grapefruit. She smiled at the black man leading the horse by its bridle, a jaunty plume between the animal’s ears. Rae, in her silver muskrat fur coat and black beret, waited at the corner for Audrey, tapping one pump-clad foot.”

There are still arabbers in Baltimore today. Not nearly as many as leading up to World War II and throughout the middle of the 1900s. A quick search as I was preparing to write this blog also revealed how important a role they are playing during this pandemic. They are distributing not only food to those who can’t go to the store for one reason or another, but also information on how to prevent transmission of the virus.

There was a photographic exhibit last year, too, that attracted many visitors. And you can view a photo gallery at the Facebook page for the Arabber Preservation Society. These men and their horses have provided a vital service to many for generations, and I’m glad I included them in the city description within my novel to help preserve their history and bring awareness of their service to my readers.

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.

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.

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Let’s Go on a 1940s Summer Picnic #inspiration #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

In my latest release, Notes of Love and War, there is a picnic scene. There’s a really good reason for why, too! I honestly love to go on picnics, a love fostered by my parents when I was a child. Since this story was originally inspired by my parents’ correspondence, it seemed fitting to include a picnic scene. As my husband and I raised our children, we would occasionally take them to a park and have a picnic. Sometimes we’d take the hibachi grill and grill burgers and hot dogs, or bratwurst, or even chicken at times.

Now that the kids are grown and on their own, we’ve been known to do more impromptu picnic fare. For example, we packed a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit, cookies, and drinks during this pandemic and drove down to a picnic table by a lake to eat. We didn’t stop anywhere on the way; didn’t interact with anyone closer to us than about 50 feet (other than a precocious goose); and then drove straight back home. But it was great to get out of the house and behind the steering wheel again!

In order to depict the accoutrements of the fictional picnic, I needed some visual aids. I found a 1940s picnic basket with plates, cups, utensils along with what the picnic menus might include. Some of those menus were quite fancy, in my opinion. I was rather surprised to find that they would have had a vacuum box to keep items hot or cold, the precursor to a cooler like we use today.

So what’s for lunch at Notes of Love and War’s picnic? Here’s a snippet:


Audrey picked her way across the uneven ground. Frisk seemed chastened by her firm grip on the leash and walked sedately at her side. Victor’s rigid back hinted at his opinion of Audrey and her dog. Retrieving the basket, she lugged it to the shaded table. She tied Frisk’s leash to the table leg, then started putting their lunch out on the covered table.

“Is Frisk okay?” Rae handed Audrey a plastic plate from the woven picnic basket opened on the table.

“He’s fine.” She lifted the lid on the other vacuum box. “What’s he grilling?”

Rae leaned closer to inspect the contents of the cold container. “Looks like chicken legs.”

“We’ve got baked beans, too. Along with the fruit and cookies, we’ve quite a spread.” Audrey reached down to pet Frisk where he sat observing the proceedings. “I’m impressed.”

Rae put out a plate on the table for Victor, arranging utensils on either side. She glanced at the man in question with a grin. “He’s amazing.”

“Hmm.” Audrey kept her mouth closed and her hands busy. Better to keep a wait-and-see attitude until she knew him better.

Victor carried the covered plate of chicken to the grill, fragrant smoke drifting on the light breeze. He situated the meat on the rack over the flickering flames and then brought the plate back to the table. His movements were precise and efficient, no wasted effort. He paused to wipe his hands on a towel as he watched the girls putting the finishing touches on the table.

Audrey placed her palms on her hips and surveyed the layout. “Are we missing anything?”

Rae scanned the table and then nodded, satisfied. “I think we’re ready when you are, Vic.”


Audrey really would rather be anywhere but chaperoning her younger sister, but she also will do anything she must to protect Rae. She’s a protective older sister.

Do you enjoy going on picnics? What kinds of foods do you take to enjoy?

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.

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.

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Visit Audrey’s real Home Sweet Home #inspiration #NotesofLove&War #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

Before I get to my topic for today, I want to remind you that Notes of Love and War releases tomorrow! But you can download the first 3 chapters for free now! See below for a description and links where you can buy your complete copy, too.

Now on to the rest of my story…

I believe that your opinion of your life and personal world is directly affected by where you live. All of the factors as to your comfort, location, conveniences play a role in your overall sense of wellbeing and contentment. Which is why I thought I’d share with you the house I had in mind when I was writing Notes of Love and War, the home where Audrey lives with her family.

It’s not a big home, but it is based on my memory of my grandmother’s house outside of Baltimore. I used to visit her for a week each summer, helping her in the garden, hanging laundry on the lines out back, and being very quiet while she listened to Dialing for Dollars. She taught me to crochet and let me read her books which she housed in a glass doored bookcase. When I was young, she kept a box of toys close by that I could play with, too. Grandmom was the only grandparent I ever knew. She died from breast cancer when I was 12 years old.

The house had a single floor with a walkup attic and a basement. When you walked in the front door you entered the living room with a fireplace on the far right wall. Straight ahead was the dining room and off the dining room the kitchen. The steps to the basement were between the dining room and kitchen. To the left near the front door was a short hall, where the bookcase stood on one wall, that led to the single bathroom with a bedroom flanking each side. Grandmom slept in the bedroom on the left, at the front of the house. I would sleep in the bedroom on the right, at the back.

I’ve mentioned that my personal history and my dad’s correspondence with my mom inspired the events in Notes of Love and War. In this instance, my memory of my grandmother’s house became the setting for Audrey’s home. However, it’s not the same house where my mother was living when my father was writing to her during and after the war. Grandmom moved from that house sometime after my grandfather died and I was born 14 years after my parents married. I used the house I knew because I have never been inside of the previous house where my mother would have grown up. (That house no longer stands, by the way. An apartment building is there as of today.)

I’m super excited to have Notes of Love and War available for you all to read! Early reviews have been 4-5 stars, so it’s a good story and entertaining, too.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

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.

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Meet the real WWII German Spies #inspiration #Baltimore #WWII #historical #fiction @Baltimore_City #ReadIndie

I always like to reflect true history in my historical fiction, especially when it’s a little known or surprising event. Like the inspiration for the pair of spies in Notes of Love and War. The story is set in Baltimore, Maryland, during WWII and was inspired by my parents’ war correspondence a subsequent courtship. (I so can’t wait to have that story available for all my readers!)

Which reminds me to remind you that you’re invited to a Summer Picnic to celebrate the upcoming release of Notes of Love and War on July 28, 2020. It’ll be a virtual picnic on Sunday, July 26, at 3:00 p.m. CDT on Zoom, so you can set up your own snack or meal to enjoy. Prior to the picnic, I’ll send out to those who either RSVP below or Like the Facebook event an excerpt, a few family recipes, etc. I’ll read an excerpt from the book, and we’ll chat. You can ask me questions about the excerpt or any of my other books, if you’d like. Just an hour or so to hang out with others who enjoy historical fiction.

FB Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/271180240782200/ 

RSVP group in MailerLite: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/l0m5d2

Come on, you know you want something fun to look forward to, right? So Like or RSVP and I’ll see you there!

Now onto the inspiration for the spies.

You may be aware of the German submarines that patrolled the Atlantic coast during WWII. In reading my dad’s correspondence I even learned that one of his sister’s served as a sub spotter in Florida. I wanted to include the subs in my story in some way so I went looking for actual historic events that included them. I found Nazi Spies Come Ashore by Richard Sassaman, an article about two Nazi spies, Erich Gimpel and William Colepaugh, who landed in Bar Harbor, Maine. Merely knowing that German spies had invaded America more than once gave me fodder as well as authenticity for my story.

In Notes of Love and War, I used a few of the details from that article to create the situation Audrey faces. Obviously, my spies land not off the shores of Maine but of Maryland, and then they make their way to Baltimore. Like Colepaugh, Peter Mercer is American with German ancestry who turns against his country. That’s the only similarity in their personality or background, however.

In the article, Gimpel, the German, discovers the money wrapper with the name of the German bank still on the bundled money. I have my character, Peter, the American, buy a new coat and leave the money wrapper in the pocket. Which then becomes a clue in the story.

It’s fun to weave the actual facts into fiction in order to create a realistic situation. I hope you enjoy the story and please come to the picnic if you have an hour to spare on Sunday.

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.

Now available for preorder! Notes of Love and War will release on July 28, 2020, in honor of my dad’s 100th birthday!

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.

Check out the free sample (3 chapters) at https://claims.prolificworks.com/free/2A18n3Gj  

Amazon     Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple