Musing on Behind Enemy Lines in Your Own Backyard #research #historical #war #fiction #author #CivilWar #Unionists #Alabama

A quick reminder that I’ll be onstage for a literary reading at the Panoply Arts Festival in Huntsville, Alabama in just a few weeks! If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you after I do a short reading on the Art OutLoud Stage at 3:00 p.m. CT on Saturday, April 29. You can find out more and buy your tickets to the festival here.

Discovering how people actually lived in decades/centuries past is often fascinating to me. Not everything, of course, but sometimes I come across an intriguing tidbit I have to share. As I’ve been researching for a new historical romance I have in mind to write, I’ve learned more about how those loyal to the American Union survived during the Civil War, particularly in Alabama where my story will take place. (I promise not all of my books are set in Alabama! I have many that are not. Just pop over to my website to see them all.)

One desperate tactic Unionists resorted to was known as “lying out.” Essentially, the men loyal to the American government who were at risk of being conscripted into the Confederate army—against their will, their principles, and their best interests—set up casual camps in the woods where they hid from the Confederate army authorities. These men were Alabama residents who held the minority view in the state, that of loyalty to the Union. So they were behind enemy lines while living in their own homes. So they had to hide out elsewhere. Just think about that for a minute or two. Let’s pause to contemplate their likely experience.

Alabama has lots of hills and swamps, rainy weather, mosquitos, snakes, wildlife, and varying temperatures from freezing to boiling hot. And tornadoes, lest we overlook them. These men lived out in the elements, for months or perhaps even years—hiding from those they disagreed with, just trying to survive without being shot or beaten or forced into an abhorrent position they didn’t believe in. And from what I’ve read, Unionists who dared to remain in their homes, that is the women, children, and elderly, were accosted, threatened, and even burned out of their houses. Their livestock and crops confiscated or destroyed. So the men lying out had every reason to believe their very life was at risk if they were caught by Confederate soldiers.

I’ve been camping and gone to summer camp for a week or two, but obviously my experiences with outdoor living pale in comparison to what these men must have endured. They must have had some kind of shelter but it would have to be secretive so they wouldn’t be easily detected and thus captured. There are many caves in north Alabama due to the limestone layers in the ground, so perhaps they used caves as shelters when they could. But that was likely an obvious place for the conscription soldiers to look, right? They’d need a hidden cave where they could go to ground.

And food and clothing were needed. For those, they relied on sympathetic neighbors and family members to provide. Which of course put their accomplices at risk for aiding the men lying out. But what other choice did these men have but to rely on their family and friends? They wouldn’t want to light a fire, the smoke leading their enemy to their campsite. They wouldn’t want to waste ammunition hunting, though perhaps they had a bow and arrow they could use. But then how to cook whatever they hunted without lighting a fire? Or finding a place where they could light one without it being seen or smelled… The risks were great!

For that matter, what did they do with their days and nights while hiding? It’s not like they could browse the internet on their phones. Or email their friends and family. They had no direct communication except possibly an occasional handwritten note to request something. (My conjecture!) Perhaps they had a book to read or they did some whittling to pass the time. After a few days I’d be bored. What did they do for months? Like I said earlier, this risky move must have been a last resort.

On the flip side, you have the dedicated family member or friend who steps up. Imagine, if you will, being the sister of one of these desperate men who is lying out and feeling obligated to help. Not only her brother but however many others were lying out with him. To gather food and supplies and carry them surreptitiously out into the woods, the mountains, the caves without being seen or reported. Then returning home undetected so you’re not asked what on earth is a young woman doing traipsing about in the underbrush at dusk? Alone? We’re talking the mid-1800s after all. Women were supposed to stay at home and tend to things, not be gallivanting around in the woods. (Thank goodness I didn’t live back then…I love to walk in the woods! #justsaying)

I can see both sides of this situation: the idea of hiding out could look to the Rebels as admission of guilt, that the men were not doing the right thing by defending the Confederacy. While the Unionists had little recourse to preserve and protect their own lives and loyalties, at least until the Union army arrived in northern Alabama when the Unionists could then join the right side of the conflict. In fact, several Unionists who had been lying out joined the U.S. Cavalry.

Off to do more research. I should start writing the story soon. Check out my other books to see if any strike your fancy, including the one featured below, a WWII home front Baltimore story, which was inspired by my parents’ war and post-war correspondence.

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.

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Musing on Career Options for Women #research #historical #fiction #author #lifestyle #careers

Before I get into my recent research tidbit, I’m excited to share with you that I’ll be onstage at the Panoply Arts Festival in Huntsville, Alabama this month! If you’re in the area, I’d love to meet you after I do a short reading on the Art OutLoud Stage. I’ve chosen to read the short story I wrote about the two kitchen maids in the Fury Falls Inn series, “The Perfect Birthday Gift.” It’s a lighthearted story about the magical gift one of them receives. You can find out more and buy your tickets to the festival here. If you haven’t read the Fury Falls Inn series, check out the first book’s description below and give it a try. Now, let’s get on with today’s tidbit…

I’ve been developing an idea for an historical romance and needed to know what were typical careers of women in the county around the time of my story. Which of course meant my favorite activity: research! So I went to the census records to see what they listed in the 1870 census for Madison County, Alabama. Now, I’ve read through census records for one reason or another for several decades now so I had an idea of what I’d find. Typically in the 1800s the head of household was male and his occupation listed, with the “lady of the house” listed next and her occupation such as it was (keeping house or its equivalent). So I wasn’t surprised to find this pattern in the census records I scanned looking for possible occupations for women. I did notice two things though that did rather surprise me.

First, in addition to Keeping House, there were several other common and some not-so-common occupations listed. Common ones included Cook, Seamstress, and Domestic Servant. Nothing surprising or shocking about those, right? They’re simply extensions of the tasks women did at home. The ones I found interesting included Hotel Cook, Mantua Maker, Nurse, Hotel Waiter, and Farm Hand. That last one—only one occurrence of it, too—truly stopped me to make sure I read it right and that it was associated with a female in the household. I was also rather surprised to find Nurse only listed once or twice in the approximately 30 pages I scanned. Why?

Well, the American Civil War ended in 1865 and had created a demand/need for women to be nurses for the injured and dying. The war actually opened the door wider for women to take advantage of a tendency to nurture and care for others as a means of gainful employment. So it’s interesting to me that so few claimed that career on the census. Did they not consider it an occupation or did they not perform the role of nurse? Did they not want to put in writing that they were working outside of the home in order to avoid any besmirching of their husband’s ability to provide for his family? We’ll never know for certain, of course.

The second thing that surprised me is the vast number of females listed by name, age, sex, but with no occupation noted. Despite their age, whether in single digits or matrons residing within the household, that field is left blank. Now, I have to assume that these females were doing something, right? At a minimum, they were assisting in housekeeping and gardening of some extent to provide for the family pantry. So, what didn’t they want to put down? Perhaps the census taker wasn’t required to list the occupation for other than the lady of the house? Or they again didn’t want to make the man of the house look incapable of being a good provider? But surely they were doing something to fill their days and evenings with meaningful pastimes. They just didn’t claim it as a source of household income.

What that empty box means for me as a writer of fiction is this: I can fill in that blank for my character with anything I want. Keeping it plausible, of course.

I’ve chosen something she could do at home, on the farm where she was raised, that aligns with other tasks she’d be responsible for managing. You know: sewing, cleaning, gardening, home remedies, and naturally cooking. But I can add a little pepper to the pot by having her dabbling into something the males on the property and in her orbit of acquaintances might look askance at—if they knew she was doing so. What might that be? I’ll share in the story which I expect to start writing this month. Hint: it’s related to something I’ve loved all of my life.

I have a few other questions I need to research answers to, but I’ll keep you posted on my progress both with the research and the writing. In the meantime, happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

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

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Getting to know James White #author #histfic #literary #scifi #fiction #stories #storytelling

My guest today found inspiration in written letters, much like I did to write my WWII home front Baltimore novel, Notes of Love and War. But he went a slightly different direction… Ready to find out more about James White and his inspiration?

Jim is a California-based writer of historical, literary and science fiction. He and his prize-winning poet wife enjoy a small-town lifestyle near the San Francisco Bay area. Jim earned an MA in U.S. History. His professional career has included military service, teaching, research librarian and technical writing. Jim is an active participant in his community’s literary organization, hosting prose workshops and mentoring writers. Jim’s stories have appeared in Datura Literary Journal, The Wapshott Press, Remington Review, Adelaide Books, and Rochak Publishing.

Author Social Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

James: Discovering how perceptive, funny and lively my aunt was through her letters.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

James: I took more time and effort constructing scenes and developing a character’s motivations.

Betty: Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

James: The ending. Always a struggle with my writing.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

James: Researching Los Angeles social life in the 1930s.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

James: At least 3. Some drafts were focused on parts of the story.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

James: About a year. For me a fairly quick turn-around.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

James: I write and rewrite in the afternoons and think about what I’ve written the following evenings.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts. What are yours?

James: Stood, stared; I often inadvertently repeat words.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

James: The four Johns: Cheever, Updike, Irving, and McPhee

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

James: Everything happens in my office.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

James: My day job is mentoring, managing and kvetching with writer groups.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

James: So far, my first novel, Borders In Paradise.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

James: Historical and literary fiction

Betty: How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

James: Fulfilling and constructive relationships with writer colleagues, including recognition of my accomplishments.

The subject of James W. White’s latest book, Helen and Her Brothers, is a young woman and her wanderlust wishes to leave her dull Texas family’s roots and head west, to California.

It’s 1936 when Helen Rose Steves is sidelined by a serious illness that lands her in a Central Texas Hospital. She has plenty of time to mull over her 19 years and determine that life must offer something more. Her two brothers are already in Los Angeles, and the Golden State beckons.

Friends are driving to California, and she joins them. Is this Helen’s chance to grab the golden ring on the carousel of life? Many surprises lie ahead for our young heroine and her lukewarm greeting from her brothers makes for an inauspicious beginning.

The novella follows Helen as she adjusts to modern, urban life that is considerably more fast-paced and ill-mannered than the slow but genteel town she left behind.

Buy Links: Amazon | B&N | RochakPublishing

Thanks, Jim, for sharing about your writing process and the background to writing your novella.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Getting to Know Holly Bargo #author #romance #fantasy #western #writer #novel #fiction

Please help me welcome romance author Holly Bargo! Let’s take a look at her bio and then find out more about her writing process.

Holly Bargo is a pseudonym, but really did exist. The author and her husband live on a hobby farm in southwest Ohio. She works full-time as a freelance writer and editor. Holly writes and publishes romance, fantasy, and westerns.

Author Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | HenHousePublishing

Betty: What inspired you to write the story you’re sharing with us today?

Holly: I’d been toying with the story premise for over a year. I burned out in summer of 2020 and then my son died in January 2021, which really depressed my creative spark. This year, the spark flickered back and I was happy to return to the world established in my first book in this series, Daughter of the Twin Moons, with this book.

Betty: What, if any, new writing skill did you develop while working on this story?

 Holly: I incorporated a bit of the grief experienced from my son’s death into this story. The writing of Knight of the Twin Moons was somewhat cathartic, as the heroine is also a bereaved parent.

Betty:  Did you struggle with any part of this story? What and how?

Holly: I struggled with how much and how deeply to show a mother’s grief. It’s been almost two years since my boy died and, while I think of him every day, I don’t cry like I used to. There’s a distance that time gives, and that distance enables me to function more normally. In the story, the heroine is further along her grief journey than I am currently, so she has a bit more distance enabling her to function more rationally.

Betty: Which character(s) were the easiest to get to know? Why do you think?

Holly: Cassandra, the heroine, has a piece of me written into her, so her personality is intimately close to mine. However, I liked getting to know Ishjarta, the hero, better. He’s certainly more mysterious.

Betty: What kind of research did you need to do to write this story?

Holly: Because this is a fantasy romance taking place in a fictional world I’d established a few years ago, there wasn’t a whole lot of research required. For the heroine’s big event near the end of the story, I did conduct some research—now I know how gunpowder is made—but the aim wasn’t to make what she did factual as much as plausible.

Betty: How many drafts of the story did you write before you felt the story was complete?

Holly: I’m one of those writers who edits as I write. I’ll write a portion, self-edit and revise it, then continue on with writing a new portion. Essentially, by the time I’ve finished writing the first draft, it’s already made it to second draft stage. Then I go back to the beginning and review, self-edit, and revise again. At that point, it was ready to send to my fabulous editor, Cindy Draughon. Cindy tells me that she appreciates the clean manuscripts I send to her. She goes through with a deep, substantive edit. I review her edits—every single one—and accept, reject, or revise or rewrite as I deem appropriate. Then I send the revised manuscript to her for a final proofreading.

Betty: How long did it take for you to write the story you’re sharing with us? Is that a typical length of time for you? Why or why not?

Holly: This story took longer than usual for me to write, basically because I wasn’t at normal, full capacity when I started writing it. I’m still not quite there, but I’m healing and I’ll return to my past productivity.

Betty: What rituals or habits do you have while writing?

Holly: I typically don’t write my own stories while sitting at my desk. It’s too much like work when I do that. So, I’ll grab my ancient laptop and plop down on the sofa to write, usually with one dog sprawled beside me and the other nearby.

Betty: Every author has a tendency to overuse certain words or phrases in drafts, such as just, once, smile, nod, etc. What are yours?

Holly: That.

Betty: Do you have any role models? If so, why do you look up to them?

Holly: It’s probably trite, but I truly admire superstar author Nora Roberts for her ability to produce consistently engaging stories spanning diverse sub-genres.

Betty: Do you have a special place to write? Revise? Read?

Holly: I usually read and write in the living room while lounging on the sofa. Sometimes the recliner. I revise at my desk.

Betty: Many authors have a day job. Do you? If so, what is it and do you enjoy it?

Holly: I work full-time as a freelance writer and editor. We can toss in document formatting, too. I do enjoy what I do and I love the flexibility. I worked in corporate roles for 25 years and finally went freelance in January 2016. I have not looked back.

Betty: As an author, what do you feel is your greatest achievement?

Holly: I can’t say. I’m not convinced I’ve yet accomplished my greatest achievement.

Betty: What is your favorite genre to read?

Holly: Romance, without a doubt. I also enjoy fantasy, westerns, and mysteries.

Betty: Success looks different to different people. It could be wealth, or fame, or an inner joy at reaching a certain level. How do you define success in terms of your writing career?

Holly: As a freelancer, success is defined as being able to earn a decent living and make a positive contribution to my household. I wouldn’t have been able to do this without my husband’s support. As an author, I’d love to define myself as successful by reaching the point where I can write my stories for a living. I’m working on it.

A magical union sealed with blood. A destiny plagued with inevitable misfortune.

Lord Shadow—a vicious and utterly terrifying fae assassin—is desperate for a mate. After being sent to the human realm, he finds a woman lying in a pool of her own blood. Although he knows not her fate or her purpose, he knows he must save her life, even if it comes at an irreversible cost.

And in the realm of the fae, danger is never far behind.

In the blink of an eye, her life is forever changed. She can never return to what she once knew.

After a life-altering accident, Cassandra wakes to find herself in a strange new world of magical creatures, bound by a blood union to the mysterious warrior who saved her life. Unlike anyone she’s ever met, she discovers that she is the bride to one who kills without mercy. And to make matters worse, she now possesses a mysterious power in her bones, a power that will determine the fate of the world around her.

That is, if she manages to survive.

Buy Links: Amazon

My deepest condolences on the passing of your son. I’m sure such grief would impact your creativity for a time. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing about your inspiration and writing process, Holly.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Introducing Eileen O’Connell the Well-Informed Governess from Bittersweet Tapestry by Kevin O’Connell #author #lawyer #histfic #HistoricalFiction #familysaga

Today I’d like to introduce to you all a woman who knows more than she usually tells, but today is making an exception. Her author, Kevin O’Connell, kindly permitted her to come by and chat with us. Let’s take a look at Kevin’s bio and then we’ll find out more about Eileen. Ready? Here we go…

Kevin O’Connell was born in America and holds both Irish and US citizenship; growing up in an old Irish family with a long history and a powerful sense of its past, he learnt a great deal of Irish, British, and European (especially French) history from an early age. He is descended from a young officer of what had, from 1690 to 1792, been the Irish Brigade of the French army, who arrived in French Canada sometime following the execution of Queen Marie Antoinette in October 1793. At least one grandson subsequently returned to Ireland.

Mr. O’Connell’s Beyond Derrynane, Two Journeys Home,and Bittersweet Tapestry (each subtitled A Novel of Eighteenth Century Europe) have received positive critical reviews, in the United States, the UnitedKingdom and Europe.

His Derrynane Saga has been described as being “a sweeping, multi-layered story, populated by an array of colorfully complex characters, whose lives and stories play out in a series of striking settings. Set against the drama of Europe in the early stages of significant change, the books dramatize the roles which have never before been treated in fiction played by a small number of expatriate Irish of the fallen Gaelic Aristocracy at the courts of Catholic Europe.” It is with Bittersweet Tapestry that O’Connell has again focused in greater detail on their lives in English-occupied Ireland.

He is currently at work on the fourth volume in the Saga, continuing to devote full-time to his craft, following a forty-plus year career as an international lawyer.

Author Social Links: Facebook | AuthorsGuild

Note: Eileen O’Connell was born at Derrynane, County Kerry, Ireland in 1744. At the time of her interview she is widowed, residing at Rathleigh House in County Cork, the estate of her late husband, Captain Arthur O’Leary, an officer of the Hungarian Hussars of the Imperial Armies of Maria Theresa.

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Eileen: “Perfectly matched”! My father, Donal Mór Ó Conaill was once said to be “a big man content to be somewhat submissive to a petite wife.” My mother is indeed a very strong woman,  her name “Maire ní Dhuibh” “Mary of the Dark People”, originates from her own colourful family, the ‘Fighting O’Donoghues of Glenflesk’, whose home is known as ‘Robbers Glen.’ I shall leave the rest to your imagination! Mama oversees the household and the farms, the tenants  and keeps a complex system functioning, such that Derrynane is virtually self-sufficient. My Papa, assisted by my older brothers, focused on all aspects of our ‘commercial interests’ – more correctly and more commonly known as our very successful and prosperous smuggling operations!

Betty: Who taught you to tie your shoes?

Eileen: Since I live in the Eighteenth Century, as a member of an aristocratic family (albeit the Gaelic Aristocracy has ‘fallen’) I do not own tied shoes, rather I wear sturdy buckled brogues, perhaps even more so well-made tall riding boots. When the weather is fine, and indoors, I wear simple silk slippers –made with but a thin sole, they are totally impractical but very comfortable.

My sister Abigail taught me to tie a bow knot – it is used in many women’s dresses and undergarments.

Betty: Do you know how to swim? How did you learn, if so

Eileen: Growing up on the (very chilly!) Atlantic shore of County Kerry, and given that it was assumed that, as had my older siblings, I would at times travel with my father aboard our vessels on ‘trading trips’ to France, Spain and Portugal, I learnt how to swim at an early age. My mother taught both Abby and me at the same time.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why?

Eileen: Without a doubt, it would be my unsuccessful attempt to kill the man who had murdered my husband.

As to ‘why?’ even as he was being waked the night of his slaying, I had promised Arthur that I would obtain revenge for him – and I failed in this effort. I believe I feel this as exquisitely as I do because, in reality, I had formed no rational plan, just a wild scheme, born of my grief, fuelled by my rage and hatred for the detestable murdering Morris. Indeed so blinded was I to the menace, indeed the peril in which I had placed myself, my situation did not become apparent until I was already at the murderer’s residence. As I rode slowly towards the man’s house, I was shocked to see an array of armed men near the house. Appalled, my only thought was, ‘Of course he would have guards, why would he not, you stupid, foolish girl!’

I was almost immediately met by several murderous rounds of rifle fire. Even as I fled for my life, a pair of horsemen pursued me, though by doing so they provided me with my only sense of satisfaction in that I killed both of them. I am very fortunate to be alive.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you? 

Eileen: Meeting and marrying Captain Arthur O’Leary – the seven years of our marriage, and the births of our two sons, made for the most wonderful time of my life.

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change? 

Eileen: ‘Tis said that in the 12th Century, one Dermot MacMurrough, also known as ‘Strongbow’, who was the king of Munster ‘invited’ the English to come. Though it is an oversimplification, it did, in effect, eventually result in King Henry II of England invading Ireland in 1171, and the ensuing establishment of English rule in Ireland.

I wish this had never happened – had it not, 700-odd years of much pain, tragedy, suffering and loss by the people of both Ireland and Great Britain would have been avoided.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear? Who else knows about it?

Eileen: I have never thought about this . . . if I have any genuine fear, it is probably being left truly alone. I am largely detached from my family, I know my lads will grow quickly. I have no desire to seek a new husband, so I could indeed find myself quite alone. If I were to tell anyone, it would be my sister, Abigail, who remains in Vienna.

Betty: What’s your favourite game to play? 

Eileen: I learnt to play tennis whilst at the Habsburg court – I should say it would be far easier if one did not have to play it in voluminous dresses! People in Scotland play a game called ‘golf’ which intrigues me, but I have never played it.

Betty: Do you have a favourite sibling? Who?

Eileen: Out of my fourteen siblings (my mother having birthed twenty-one of us in total), it would (despite that I have a twin, Mary) have to be my dearest sister, Abigail; she is but a few years older than I and we have always been close. It was she who was, in part, responsible for my spending not-quite ten remarkable years at the Habsburg court in Vienna. She eventually became principal lady-in-waiting to the Empress Maria Theresa, whilst I had the fascinating experience of serving as governess to the Empress’s youngest daughter, the Archduchess Maria Antonia, with whom I became very close, such that she addressed me as ‘Mama’.

Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Eileen: I have never considered this possibility. You may know that I have lived in three places in Ireland – Derrynane, followed by Ballyhar, the lands of my first husband, in my native County Kerry, and now Rathleigh, the ancestral home of the O’Learys in Cork. I spent ten happy years in Austria, where I loved life at court. All of this said, upon reflection I believe that, were I to live anywhere other than Ireland, it would be Austria, though not at court.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Eileen: I adore books, and I love to read. I try to take a solitary ride with my beloved Frisian stallion “Bull” each day. I enjoy the company of my sons, my sister-in-law Catherine O’Leary, Arthur’s sister, and a small group of friends.

Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?

Eileen: I love history! I love all of Master Shakespeare’s works – and I must confess to liking naughty books, such as Tales of a Woman of Pleasure, referred to in your time as Fanny Hill. As well as a variety of French works, including some rather deliciously wicked novels!

Betty: How do you like to start your day?

Eileen: I typically awaken very early and, after saying my prayers, I enjoy several cups of strong, dark Viennese coffee and fresh, warm bread.

Betty: What kinds of friends do you have?

Eileen: Whilst I have many acquaintances my true friends are few. I would say that they are a rather eclectic group: my dearest friend is Anna Collins – we first met in Vienna in 1761 when she was Anna Pfeffer and was my lady’s maid! We were both in our teens then, so we literally grew up together and, in the process, we became the closest of friends. When she whom I referred to as my ‘wee little archduchess’ departed Vienna for France, Anna came to Ireland with us. Perhaps a year later she wed John Collins, a handsome, kind squire, and is now a neighbour!  Also in the neighbourhood are the Reverend and Mrs. McGee of the Church of Ireland, both of whom are good friends; we talk religion and current affairs.

Since Arthur’s death I find myself in an awkward situation – as a relatively young widow in my time and place, I am expected to seek a new husband, out of the bachelors and widowers in our vicinity. In all honesty, having been wed at sixteen, widowed before my seventeenth birthday, after which I spent almost a decade at the Habsburg court – in the process of which I met and married the love of my life – I feel no desire to labour at making yet another match.

This has rather limited my social life as it is the custom, at the horse races and hunts, the parties, balls, weddings and, yes, wakes, that I would be seeking a husband. As I have made it clear that I am not, the invitations continue to dwindle.

I do have a dear friend, a gentleman I have known since my earliest days in Vienna. He is now General, the Count Wolfgang von Klaus, scion of an ancient Austrian noble family – we became very good friends and, in all candour, lovers for a time before I met Arthur. He has continued to be a gentle presence in my life since Arthur was killed, indeed journeying from Vienna to Cork with Arthur’s belongings, uniforms, our correspondence and the like. He has returned every Summer since then. By inquiring of me, ‘It is not a bad thing for friends to wed?’ he has offered me a standing proposal . . . he is such a dear, gentle man, my boys have grown fond of him . . . so . . .  I may well at some point consider becoming the Countess von Claus.

Betty: Who would you like to meet? Why?

Eileen: Without any hesitation, it would be Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots – she has always fascinated, perhaps even more so perplexed me.

I would very much want to discuss how a seemingly strong, brilliant, not to mention beautiful woman of the long line of Stuarts, who was nevertheless, albeit at a very young age and then for only a relatively brief period, the Queen of France, could have made the tragic decisions she did whilst Queen of Scots.

When her ne’er-do-well husband, Lord Darnley, was murdered, why did she not act immediately to determine, capture and punish the perpetrators?

One partial answer to this question raises another troubling one: Was it because of her involvement with the Earl of Bothwell?

If so how, could she be so foolish to actually wed Bothwell, the individual widely said to have instigated Darnley’s death?

After being compelled to abdicate, why did she not consider alternatives to seeking sanctuary in England? 

As Bittersweet Tapestry, the third volume of Kevin O’Connell’s continuing Derrynane Saga opens, Eileen O’Connell and her husband, Arthur O’Leary, an officer of the Hungarian Hussars, have departed Vienna – where she served for almost a decade as governess to Maria Theresa’s youngest daughter, now Marie Antoinette, Dauphine of France. Their life in Ascendancy-ruled Ireland is in stark contrast to what they left behind, as well as to that of Eileen’s brothers, officers in the Irish Brigade of France, her youngest one, Hugh, now wed to the French Princess Royal. The Irish story evolves into a dark, violent, and bloody tale – ultimately involving an epic tragedy – which results in what has been called, “The greatest poem written in (Ireland and Britain) in the whole Eighteenth Century”.

Buy Links: Amazon | Bookshop

You’ve lived quite an interesting life, Eileen. Thanks so much for stopping by on your interesting journey to chat with us!

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Introducing Ex-Homicide Detective turned Sleuth Nico Doyle from Murder on the Vine by Camilla Crespi #author #detectivemystery #crimemystery #bookseries #fiction #amreading

I’m so excited to have a fabulous detective in the house as my guest today. Please help me welcome Nico Doyle! Let’s find out about author Camilla Crespi’s background and then we’ll learn more about her sleuth.

Born Italian, I became American in 1997. After getting an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University I started writing mysteries under the pseudonym Camilla Crespi while I did research for Seeking Alice, a fictionalized story of my mother during World War II. After eight Crespi mysteries, Alice was published under my own name. A visit to Tuscany inspired me to write about a small town, its people, and the fabulous wines and food. I added a New York ex-homicide detective, Nico Doyle, who starts his widowed life in the town where he buried is his Italian American wife. Murder in Chianti was followed by The Bitter Taste of Murder. Murder on the Vine will be followed by The Road to Murder next year. I’m having fun. I’m back home. The characters have become my friends.

Author Social Links: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Betty: How would you describe your parents?

Nico: My Irish father was an abusive drunk and luckily walked out on us when I was in my teens. My Italian mother was a sweet woman who loved and feared her husband and was too frightened and exhausted to show me any love, even after he left.

Betty: Who taught you to tie your shoes?

Nico: My father showed me how he tied his shoes just once. That was enough. I was a quick learner to avoid his anger.

Betty: Do you know how to swim?

Nico: I do. I wasn’t so quick with that.  

Betty: How did you learn, if so?

Nico: My father threw me in the deep end of a public swimming pool and told me to swim. The lifeguard pulled me up and out of the goodness of his wonderful heart offered to teach me for free.

Betty: What do you think is your greatest failure? Why? 

Nico: Discarding the evidence in a murder case back in New York.

I broke the oath I had taken when I became a cop. I failed my colleagues. It’s a failure that saddens me, but I still think I did the right thing.

Betty: What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to you?

Meeting my wife Rita and when I lost her, coming to live in Gravigna, where she was born and is now buried.

Betty: If you could change the past, what would you change?

Nico: Why think of changing the past when it’s not possible? I try not to dwell in what was. You insist I answer? Okay. I would change my father. I would change my mother’s tears into laughter. I would change Rita’s cancer into a cold. I would change me into a better man.

Betty: What’s your greatest fear?

Nico: I try not to let fear into my thoughts. I had enough of it with my father and Rita’s cancer. Fear leaves a hole that can turn into gangrene. Ask me what is my greatest hope. That I can answer.

I’ll tell you without being asked. I hope the friends I have made in this Tuscan town stay well and enjoy their lives. Rita’s restaurant chef cousin Tilde, who welcomed me with arms as wide as the Mediterranean, Perillo, the Neapolitan maresciallo who erroneously thinks he can’t solve a murder without my New York detective savvy. Also his young right-hand man, the blush prone Daniele. Nelli patiently waits for me to loosen up about loving again. Old Gogol, the Dante-quoting man I share breakfast with each weekday morning. My landlord Aldo and is wife Cinzia, from whom I’ve rented a small farmhouse. I hope OneWag, the mutt who led me to a murder scene, lives a long, long life.

Betty: Who else knows about it?

Nico: I hope they all do.

Betty: What’s your favorite game to play?

Nico: I used to play poker back at the precinct. I try to run every morning. That’s gaming with your body.

Betty: Do you have a favorite sibling?  

Nico: No siblings.

Betty: If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

Nico: Right here in Gravigna.

Betty: How do you like to relax?

Nico: Sitting on my balcony, looking out at the olive grove and the vineyard behind it, with a glass of wine in my hand and OneWag nearby.

Betty: What genre of books do you most enjoy reading?

Nico: I’m not a book reader, I’m afraid.  I read the local paper and sometimes the international edition of The New York Times. Rita devoured mysteries.

Betty: How do you like to start your day?

Nico: Putting the moka on the stove and making the bed. I was asked to make my bed when I was very young. I liked doing it. It gave a semblance of order to the day. Somehow it still does.

Betty: What kinds of friends do you have?

Nico: I think I’ve already answered that. They are many things depending on their day and mine: kind, generous, loving, irritating, demanding. Never boring, never cruel.

Betty: Who would you like to meet? Why?

Nico: After listening to the news I sometimes fantasize I could meet the politicians in charge. So I could throw them in jail for effing this beautiful country.

Cesare, an old hotel bartender goes missing. Lara, his young friend, and his boss, asks the Maresciallo of the Carabinieri for help. When OneWag, Nico’s dog, finds the bartender’s body in the trunk of the local bar owner’s car, Maresciallo Perillo once again asks his American friend to help him uncover who stabbed to death a seemingly innocuous eighty-year-old and why.

Buy Links: Amazon

Thanks for stopping in, Nico. It was a pleasure getting to know you a bit better.

Happy reading!

Betty

Award-winning Author of Historical Fiction with Heart, and Haunting, Bewitching Love Stories

Visit www.bettybolte.com for a complete list of my books and appearances.

Subscribe to My Newsletter to learn the inside scoop about releases and more!

Writing and Wrapping Up A Series #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread

Writing a series of stories is common among novelists. Most of the time the stories are merely set in the same world with some common characters so you can read the books in any order. When I set out to write the Fury Falls Inn series, I had no idea how challenging it would be. I knew I wanted to write six stories, the first one introducing the ghost haunting the inn followed by Cassie’s four brothers coming to the inn, and then ultimately the sixth book bringing the family all together.

One little known fact: when I finished writing The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn, Book #1, I had absolutely no idea what Mercy had done to the family. I mentioned it frequently in that first book, but even when one of my beta readers asked me, as in after I’d written The End, I still had no clue.

Days later, I was watching some movie—I don’t even recall which one—when Mercy suddenly whispered in my ear the truth of what she’d done to break up the family unit. I was shocked! But then I realized just what a treasure trove of storylines could spring from that revelation.

Then the real planning and strategizing began. I had to define each of my characters, both who they are and who their family was. I needed to understand the backstory of everybody in order to write their current story. I needed a timeline of who was born when, who married whom and when, who died when and how. All the minutiae of a person’s life that could impact their future choices and decisions.

The six books in this series are closely coupled stories, spanning June through October 1821, so you’ll want to read them in order. I researched the happenings in north Alabama during that same span of time in order to weave in historical details to give the stories authenticity. I went to Burritt on the Mountain living museum to research the architecture of buildings of that time period, and visited Constitution Park in downtown Huntsville to learn more about the history of Huntsville, too. I even bought a detailed book and accompanying sketch of what downtown Huntsville looked like then, what businesses were in which buildings, so I could more accurately depict the city in my writing.

This is my most popular series to date! If you haven’t read these books, you might want to give them a try. I had one reader demanding Book #4 immediately after she’d finished reading Book #3—unfortunately I was still writing that story so she had to wait. But you don’t have to! You can buy all 6 books now and binge read through to the end. In fact, that’s why I’m releasing Books #5 and #6 on the same day—so nobody has to wait any longer to read the conclusion of the Fairhope family saga. Enjoy!

Happy reading! I’m off to celebrate my book launch tomorrow!

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.

The final 2 books Legends of Wrath and Homecoming release tomorrow, August 9! Binge away!

Did you know… You can order signed paperbacks of any of my books at The Snail on the Wall book store!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn

Under Lock and Key

Desperate Reflections

Fractured Crystals

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Menu Planning for Historic Gathering #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel #mustread #review

One of the most fun things I do when writing my stories is coming up with historic menus or individual foods to include. In Homecoming, the 6th and final book in my Fury Falls Inn series, there is both a wedding supper and an Allhallows Eve party in need of delicious entrees and desserts. So I pulled out my colonial recipe books—I have 3 of them not including Martha Washington’s recipe book—and perused the offerings within their covers.

Some of the items I’ve prepared in my own kitchen over the years. You can find a couple of them on my Book Club page at my website. Some of the items on the menu were typically served even if I wouldn’t serve them to my husband today. Curious as to what I envisioned for the two important menus?

Apple-stuffed acorn squash

Wedding Supper

Roast turkey with cranberry relish

Asparagus dinner rolls

Apple-stuffed acorn squash (this is one I’ve made and will make again. See the recipe for Legends of Wrath)

Martha Washington’s White Cake

Allhallows Eve Feast

Gazpacho

Stuffed roast hare

Scotched and colloped venison steaks

Turnip greens with bacon/vinegar

Stuffed eggplant

Sweet potato pudding

Beets in orange sauce

Relish, pickles, olives, etc.

Pumpkin bread

Molasses gingerbread

Burnt custard (known today as crème brulee)

Brescia cheesecake

Pound cake (made this 1824 recipe and it’s so yummy! See the recipe for Homecoming)

So what do you think? Sound like a tempting array of goodies?

Now I’m hungry! 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.

On sale during July 2022!

The first 4 books in the Fury Falls Inn historical fantasy series set in 1821 Alabama in a haunted roadside inn are reduced! The final 2 books, Legends of Wrath and Homecoming will release on August 9 and are up for preorder now!

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers.

Amazon Fury Falls Inn Series Page

The Haunting of Fury Falls Inn – $.99

Under Lock and Key  – $1.99

Desperate Reflections – $1.99

Fractured Crystals – $2.99

Legends of Wrath: Books2Read     Barnes & Noble     Amazon     Apple     Kobo  

Homecoming: Books2Read     Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

Final Stop on the Guided Tour of the Fury Falls Inn – Residence Upper Floor #visual #layout #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

One more stop on my guided tour of the interior of the Fury Falls Inn! If you missed the beginning, feel free to loop back to the Falcon’s Eye view of the property where the Fury Falls Inn is situated, then wander through as the Main Floor, before climbing the stairs to the Upper Floor  to see the guest rooms. Last time we wandered through the Residence Main Floor, and today we’re going on upstairs to take a peek at where the family sleeps. Remember that the inn is a large building, comprised of two separate structures joined by the covered porch.

The family continues to grow as each of Cassie brothers find their way to the inn. When you climb the stairs to the second floor, you emerge into a large hallway with doors leading to the bedrooms. Off to the right is where Mercy and Reggie’s bedroom is located. Beside theirs, at the front of the building, is where Sheridan’s room is located, making it easy for him to ease out of his room early in the morning and go downstairs to start the day’s cooking.

Upper floor of the Residence at the Fury Falls Inn.

Cassie offered to share her room with Mandy due to the ongoing threat to single women in the region. I’m sure Abram doesn’t mind the fact that he’s sharing a room with Daniel, especially since it’s located next door to his fiancée. In the left rear corner you’ll find Flint’s room, which is a larger room befitting the interim innkeeper.

The front left corner is where Giles is sharing a large, two-bed room with his friends, Zander and Matt. There’s one spare room left in the residence… I wonder who will ultimately occupy it? Silas is the only brother left to arrive; he’s on his way. Perhaps he’ll move in there if Flint decides that’s fitting.

The furniture and furnishings are pretty basic in each room: a bed (or two), a dresser, perhaps a wardrobe, and a table and chairs by the window. Each has some kind of curtain or drape at the window to pull shut to darken the room, or block out the flash of lightning.

Thank you for your attention as we complete the guided tour of the Fury Falls Inn. Please descend the stairs and exit out the front door. I hope you enjoyed the tour. <grin>

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. 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.

Books2Read    Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

If you’d like an autographed paperback, personalized to you or someone you want to give it to, and mailed to you for only $18, you can order one directly from me here. Be sure to give me the name you want it made out to and your mailing address (you can send both to me at betty@bettybolte.com) and I’ll send it out as soon as possible.

Guided Tour of the Fury Falls Inn – Residence Main Floor #visual #layout #FracturedCrystals #FuryFallsInn #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #amwriting #amreading #books #novel

Welcome back to my guided tour of the interior of the Fury Falls Inn! If you missed the beginning, feel free to loop back to the Falcon’s Eye view of the property where the Fury Falls Inn is situated, then wander through as the Main Floor, before climbing the stairs to the Upper Floor  to see the guest rooms. Remember that the inn is a large building, comprised of two separate structures joined by the covered porch. Let’s cross the dog-trot porch and go into the residence side.

The family enjoys a large common room that functions as the casual parlor and dining room combined. There’s a large fireplace to the left on the wall of the dog-trot porch where they gather for family meetings, adding chairs as needed from other parts of the room. The dining table is surrounded by chairs, waiting for a family gathering. Since the sons have been away from home, the chairs waited with little hope of such an event. But as they boys venture to the inn, the chances for that family dinner is growing!

Main floor of the Fairhope family residence at the Fury Falls Inn.

Off to the right is Reggie’s office, the one Flint uses in his absence. That lone window is the one Flint gazes out of when he’s pondering his future as a hostelry man. The formal family parlor at the right rear of the building doesn’t see much use, since they don’t entertain guests very often. Perhaps one day they’ll have an occasion to use its finer furniture and furnishings, but not so far… If you look out the windows at the back of the building you’ll have a fine view of the Appalachian foothills as well as the row or outbuildings and Cassie’s garden.

Only one more section to tour and that’s the family’s quarters upstairs. Until next time…

Happy reading!

Betty

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

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

Fury Falls Inn in 1821 Alabama. A place for ghosts, witches, and magic. A place of secrets and hidden dangers. 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.

Books2Read    Amazon      Barnes & Noble     Kobo     Apple

If you’d like an autographed paperback, personalized to you or someone you want to give it to, and mailed to you for only $18, you can order one directly from me here. Be sure to give me the name you want it made out to and your mailing address (you can send both to me at betty@bettybolte.com) and I’ll send it out as soon as possible.