Between the Lines: My Fantasy #Bookstore in Undying Love #excerpt #research #daydreams #secretfantasy

my-books-2017Daydreams and fantasies fuel my creative side. One of my dearest fantasies has been to have my own bookstore one day. A dream I once thought possible, but as I get older, the idea has lost some of its allure. I’ve grown accustomed to being at home working on my books, rather than out among a lot of people on a daily basis. Still, I sometimes ponder what my bookstore would look like, how I’d decorate it, what books and other merchandise I’d include in it, and so forth. Of course, my own books would be on the local authors shelf. <grin> I doubt I’ll open one, though.

bw-clear-owlAs a result, I established my fantasy bookstore in Undying Love. The name of the store, Golden Owl Books and Brews, hints at how I would run such a store. Owls are one of my favorite birds of prey. Not only that, they symbolize knowledge, wisdom. More importantly for the purpose of my story, in the Celtic tradition owls symbolize guardians of the underworld and a protection of the dead. You can find out more about the symbolism of owls here. Given that Undying Love includes a ghostly lady who teaches Meredith a lesson about love and trust, the owl seemed a perfect fit. Thus, the sign hanging out front of the store features a Great Horned Owl.

Here’s an excerpt from Undying Love, describing the store in more detail. The bookstore actually is featured in every story of the Secrets of Roseville series. Meredith and Paulette, estranged sisters who are rebuilding their friendship, have many questions so they’ve journeyed into the small town of Roseville, Tennessee, to find some answers:

They crossed the square, heading for Golden Owl Books and Brews. The bookstore had occupied the 1860s-era brick building as long as Meredith could remember. The three sisters who ran the thriving business had diversified over the years, adding in a variety of attractions and merchandise to keep the townsfolk flocking through the doors. Flyers on the windows announced open mic nights featuring local artists to share their talents. A yellow kiosk in one corner enabled people to buy and download books from a variety of publishers.

“What are you looking for again?” Meredith asked. “I thought we had enough books at home.”

“A book on the county history, one published fairly recently, might provide some new clues.” Paulette tucked her clutch purse under her arm. “Grandma’s are so old they’re practically worthless.”

“I’m sure they have some useful history in them,” Meredith said, pushing open the door. A bell jangled above her head. “But a newer one may be worth the investment. New facts may have come to light, with any luck.”

“Hmmm, it smells wonderful in here.” Paulette paused inside the door and scanned the crowded bookshop.

“It’s the bakery. All the cinnamon and cloves and apples.” Meredith drew in a deep breath, savoring the aromas of fresh bread and spices. “What a brilliant idea these ladies had to include fresh cinnamon rolls.”

“I’ll be in the local history section.” Paulette pointed to the sign indicating the area and strode toward the back of the store.

Meredith considered her next move as she surveyed the bookstore. She wanted to discover what kinds of books existed that could shed light on the census and how to interpret them. But first, she needed to stand there and merely experience the atmosphere. She inhaled, cataloging the mingling scents, detecting paper and ink as backdrop to hot coffee and cinnamon. In one corner, a small stage waited for the next open mic participant. The sisters opened the Golden Owl two nights a week to let people read from their writing or perform a musical number. Those evenings only, they also featured a wine-and-cheese party as extra incentive for the locals to attend. The bell over the front door rang every few moments, announcing customers coming and going.

Tables sat scattered throughout the shop, laden with books or calendars and other related products. Handmade jewelry crafted by local artisans hung on tall stands dotting the floor space. An open balcony featuring tables and comfortable chairs ran around the upstairs walls, leaving an airy feel in the center. A rack of greeting cards, advertised as designed by locals, hugged the wall under the stairs, a postage stamp kiosk beside it. Beyond, a small table and chair waited for the correspondent to fill out the card, put a stamp on it, and then slip it into the mailbox outside the front door of the shop.

Oh, how I’d love to run such an inviting little shop in a quaint town in an historic building! Not that I foresee it happening, mind you. But it’s tempting.

For the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers’ Luncheon, featuring author Brenda Novak as keynote speaker, I’m putting together a Golden Owls Books and Brews gift basket for the fundraising raffle. I’ll include items such as notecards and jewelry by local artisans who live near the small town I used as a model for the fictional town of Roseville. I’ll also include some other goodies and books for the winner of the raffle. Also, I’ll be hosting a table, and looking forward to chatting with you over lunch, followed by a public book signing in the hotel lobby. If you’re interested in this June 3 reader event in Huntsville, Alabama, you can find out more and register to attend at the Heart of Dixie website.

I suppose my love of bookstores is why I return to the store and its owners, the three Golden sisters, in the series. In fact, The Touchstone of Raven Hollow, book 3, is the first book featuring the Golden sisters and their love stories. I am planning to release the story of Tara Golden and Grant Markel in May, just in time to have copies on hand at the Heart of Dixie luncheon and signing. I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter in order to stay informed regarding its cover and release date.

What would you want to see in a bookstore? Or not see, for that matter? Do you have a dream, a fantasy you hold close even though it may never come to pass?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Undying Love is available now! Book 2, Haunted Melody, is up for pre-order and will release on March 28. Happy reading!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

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Between the Lines: Stumbling Upon the Unexpected #research #history #amwriting #histfic

 

250px-SpesutieIslandMD.jpg
Spesutie Island, Maryland Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Sometimes I stumble upon information that surprises me when I’m researching an entirely different subject or trying to track down the answer to a question related to my stories. One of the most recent examples of this kind of Easter egg in my research is “discovering” Spesutie Island in Maryland.

 

Never heard of it? Don’t feel bad. I grew up in Maryland and had never heard of it! My father-in-law had never heard of it and he had been stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds which now incorporates the island within its boundaries.

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Cecil Daily, courtesy of NSHSA

 

How did I stumble on this? I was trying to figure out what kind of house a ball in the 1800s would have been held in and who would have attended it. What did the island look like at that time? I wanted to be able to describe how a lady would travel to the house where the dance was held, so knowing the possible travel options was necessary. I was fortunate to find this article that included a map of the island. I was amazed to learn of the history of the island and then wondered why I had never heard of it. With its significance during the War of 1812 it should have been mentioned at least during history classes. But I do not recall ever hearing the name. I suppose, though, that much of the specifics of any location’s past are glossed over unless you do dig into them.

That’s one reason I like to visit historic sites and homes because of the details shared in those places that you do not find online or in books. Letters and journals of the people who lived in them, or visited them, include enlightening experiences and perspectives so the people who have access to the primary sources are a wealth of information.

What about you? Have you ever stumbled upon new to you places in your hometown?

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Also, I’ll be sharing one chapter each month in 2017 of a new historical romance novella, Elizabeth’s Hope, the prequel to my A More Perfect Union series, with my subscribers. Thanks and happy reading!

Visit my Website for more on my books and upcoming events.

Remember to grab your copy of my next release while it’s only $1.99!

undying_love_600x900When architect Meredith Reed inherits her family’s plantation after the devastating loss of her own family, she must choose how to move on with her life. Keep the plantation? Not a good idea. Sell it? Better. Turn it into a memorial park? Better yet. But can she go against her family traditions and the hunky but irate lawyer?

Max Chandler needs two things to complete his life plan: become a senior partner and find his soul mate. He’s due a promotion once his legislation to protect the county’s historic properties is approved. The wife part he finds more challenging, having never met the right woman. If only the talented, attractive, aloof Meredith didn’t want to destroy the very property he cherishes.

While Meredith struggles to reconcile her past and future, will she learn a lesson from the spectral Lady in Blue in time to save both her family and home from destruction?

B&N: http://bit.ly/2fF4QTf

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fnRyHK

Amazon CA: http://amzn.to/2fOyEdQ

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eYDp5w

Amazon AU: http://amzn.to/2eYzWUS

iTunes: http://apple.co/2fF4mfT

Between the Lines: The Secret of the Corinthian Column #research #fiction #romance

Rattle and Snap PlantationTo create a fictional place that won’t be mistaken for an existing one, I like to combine various aspects of two or more places into one with some imagination magic dust thrown in for luck. So after visiting Greer House (see last week’s blog if you missed that discussion), I organized a ladies’ day out trip to visit the Rattle and Snap Plantation near Columbia, Tennessee. This adventure happened in August 2013 while working on my first published romance, a paranormal, Traces.

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We were all very excited about visiting the historic site and wondered what we’d find. We were not disappointed. The owners gave us a personal tour of the grounds, the first floor, and even (surprisingly!) some of the upstairs rooms which were not open (and now are complete and ready for visitors). Since I was there for research, they made an exception for which I’m so very grateful!

They’ve worked hard to restore the plantation to look its best after many years of neglect. Walking through the historic home, hearing the sound of footsteps on the floorboards, noting the details in the woodwork and the fireplace mantels, and even the old door knobs and keyholes were fascinating. But I had one burning question I still needed to answer.

Where could I hide a body, so that the plantation would indeed be haunted? Think Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-tale Heart or The Cask of Amontillado.

Now, if you don’t know me personally you may not realize this. I am not a person who seeks out conflict or likes to inflict pain. So writing enough conflict into my stories has been one of my challenges. But I needed a ghost. Which meant somebody had to die – and not pleasantly.

When we heard the story of the hidden silver tea set, my friend Jan looked at me and we both raised our brows and smiled. According to the story, during the Civil War the family who owned the house tied a rope around their youngest, thinnest child and handed him the silver. They then climbed to the top of one of the columns, which was open at the top and which are very wide, and slowly lowered him and the precious tea set to the bottom where he left the silver and they pulled him back out. Only after the war ended did they cut a rectangular hole in the side of the column to retrieve – and sell – the silver so they had some money to live on after losing everything during the fighting.

Ladies Day at RnSWhat if… a person was lowered down presumably to safeguard the silver, but then wasn’t brought back out? Gives me chills to contemplate that scenario, let me tell ya! Stuck in a dark place 26 feet tall with no way out and nobody around to help? But…

The column was the site I needed! In the photo at the left, you can see just how wide those columns actually are. Now to explain how a woman’s body would end up there, which you can discover in the story, and more of a technical question: what would the family be allowed to do with her remains when found. But that’s for another day’s post. I love figuring these details to make the story as authentic and plausible as possible.

Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopIf you’d like to find out more about the Lady in Blue, you can get your copy of Traces at any of these places. Note that it’s available in paperback also at Amazon and B&N. Happy reading!

LSBooks: http://bit.ly/1fp2brP

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ivVTpS

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1j7WOwq

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1tUDIic

iBookstore: http://bit.ly/1FCoy5L

Between the Lines: This Old Plantation House #research #fiction #romance

Greer 3If you know me, you also know how much I love to visit historic places. Doubly so for researching my stories. This applies for both my historicals and my paranormals. Where would I go to research a contemporary ghost story, you might ask? For my two paranormal romances, Traces and Remnants,  I needed to find a plantation to haunt.

One of them was an old plantation that happened to be for sale. Greer House is outside of Petersburg, Tennessee, and has seen better days. The real estate agent met me and a friend at the house (no way was I going out to a site alone to meet a man I didn’t know). Thankfully, the person we met turned out to be the wife of the agent, which was fine with us. Jan and I roamed through the house, pointing out various details and aspects of the layout.

I was searching for a good place to hide a body, a body which would then become the ghost haunting the house in my story. There were several possibilities – the closet under the stairs; the basement; a secret panel in the bedroom (in my imagination, not in the house we toured!).

IMG_0397Mostly though I was saddened by how deteriorated the building was. Despite upgrades over the years – bathrooms with indoor plumbing, a new state-of-the-art kitchen – there were also holes in the walls, stains on the wallpaper, missing boards, and the overall sickly sweet smell of mildew.

I came away with ideas on how Twin Oaks, the plantation featured in my two ghost stories, might have decayed with lack of attention. But I tempered the images from Greer House by visiting another plantation that was restored to its former beauty by caring owners. I’ll talk more about that one in a separate post.

No matter what time period or setting of a story, some kind of research is typically need to get the facts right. It’s a good thing I love to research! To dig into the details and find the surprises to share in my stories. Like where to hid that body I was talking about, which came from visiting the second plantation.

Thanks for stopping by!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopIf you’d like to find out where I hid the body, you can get your copy of Traces at any of these places. Note that it’s available in paperback also at Amazon and B&N. Happy reading!

LSBooks: http://bit.ly/1fp2brP

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ivVTpS

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1j7WOwq

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1tUDIic

iBookstore: http://bit.ly/1FCoy5L

Between the Lines: Sermon with a View #romance #research #churches

IMG_1508Last week I shared about the pulpit in St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Today, I’d like to share the description of the chancel and nave in the church, and then let you see it through Emily’s eyes, as I wrote it in Emily’s Vow. Like I mentioned last time, George W. Williams wrote and published a bicentennial account of the history of the church, complete with descriptions and, even better, pictures. I’m going to refer to his pages again.

Each of us notices different aspects of the world around us. So I had to “become” Emily when I wrote her story, to show what she’d focus on in the church while listening to the dreaded loyalist rector’s sermon. All she really wanted was to leave the church, but her father would never allow such disrespect on the Sabbath. So she sits still, with an effort, and endures the lesson.

I’ll touch on the history of the interior of the church, for your information, and then I’ll share the description I used in the book, so you can see how I worked in the details from Emily’s perspective.

IMG_1527According to Mr. Williams, the chancel is “Architecturally as well as devotionally the focus of attention” in the church. Thus, the design and decoration of the space received the most attention. In 1772, Corinthian pilasters and a wrought iron rail were added to the area at the front of the church. The chancel is described in great detail in the pages of Mr. Williams’ book.

From St. Michael’s, Charleston, 1751-1951:

“The Chancel is handsome, and is ornamented in a neat and appropriate manner. It is a paneled wainscot, with four Corinthian Pilasters supporting the proper cornice. The usual Tables of the Decalogue, Lord’s Prayer, and Apostles’ Creed, are placed between them.”

And then:

“It seems that then or later the wainscot, the pilasters, and the entablature may have been painted a dark brown against a solid plaster wall, quite possibly blue. The tablets, two to each side in a unit, were in gilded frames with gilt lettering. Decorating the head of each frame was a golden cherub’s head and wings. The half-dome was a thing of simplicity and beauty. It was blue, representing the firmament, with clouds floating in it. At the peak was a ‘glory,’ a golden sun with golden beams radiating into the dome. The entire aspect must have been at once handsome and harmonious.”

The details of this description informed what Emily notices as she gazes about the church. But there are changes that have been made to the church in the years since my story took place, which Mr. Williams notes.

Again from Williams:

“A dwelling immediately to the east of the chancel offered the constant threat of fire to the church, and in 1788 the dignified Palladian window was ‘shut in with brick.’ The large blank area in the chancel thus produced was painted over a dark brown to resemble a curtain and draperies with gilt tassels and fringe.”

Over the years, other changes occurred, such as repainting and regilding, and repairs had to be made after the Civil War when “damage inflicted by Shells” had to be corrected, but the interior was restored “in keeping with the original design.” Then in 1866, the central window was reopened and “filled with colored glass of hexagonal panes with a curling ivy-leaf design.” Not to belabor my point, I’m sharing these details on the changes to show how having the historical description of what the chancel and nave looked like originally and in 1782-83, the years of my A More Perfect Union series, allowed me to accurately reflect on their appearance.

With that detailed description in mind, let’s look at how Emily viewed the chancel and nave in Emily’s Vow:

“She let her eyes stray to the white plaster ceiling with its intricately carved border known as the Wall of Troy, with its four double roses centered on each of four sides of the rectangle above her. She tried projecting the piety of the other women surrounding her though she only wanted to move, to be outside in the sunshine, to dissipate the energy agitating her. The nave felt cool in the dim light. The sun shone through the Palladian glass window at the rear of the chancel, situated some twenty feet behind the pulpit, and brightened the dark blue walls as well as the four brown Corinthian pilaster columns. The half dome above was blue to represent the firmament with white clouds floating on it and a “glory” at the peak, a golden sun with radiating beams spreading across the dome. Two tablets hung on either side of the window containing the words of the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Apostles Creed in gilt lettering in gilded frames with a golden cherub’s head and wings at the top. She appreciated the simple elegance of the chancel, but today she had no patience. None.

Outside, the sun shone warmly on the churchyard with its tombstones covered by fallen leaves, and she imagined birds hopped among them searching for dinner. But she remained trapped inside yet again, albeit in a different place.”

Poor Emily! She wants to enjoy the service, but simply misses the familiar rector who fled when the British occupied the city. But don’t worry. She’ll once again go willingly to church, after the enemy departs America’s shores in December 1782.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Emily's Vow Finalist SealAnd of course, if you’d like your own copy of Emily’s Vow, you can buy it at the following links. Thanks!

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1wZML3a

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obL3tT

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Between the Lines: Preaching from on high #romance #research #churches

In Emily’s Vow, there are a couple of scenes that take place within the walls of St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve traversed the streets of Charleston, following the wonderful walking tour of the historic buildings from the 18th century. I love the city and being among the beautiful buildings and gardens. But I needed to know what IMG_1508the inside of the church looked like in 1782 versus what it looks like today. Thank goodness George W. Williams wrote and published a bicentennial account of the history of the church, complete with descriptions and, even better, pictures. (I had actually stumbled upon this wealth of information when trying to determine the fate of the famous bells of the church, but that’s another story!)

For my purposes, I wanted to have a visual of what Emily would be looking at while the service was being conducted. What would she ignore versus think about to pass the time, given that she didn’t really want to be listening to the rector. Mr. Williams helped me a great deal!

I’ll touch on the history of the interior of the church, for your information, and then I’ll share the description I used in the book, so you can see how I worked in the details from Emily’s perspective.

IMG_1513According to Mr. Williams, the pulpit and tester, along with the reading desk, all remain in the same place as the original, though some damage was sustained by the pulpit during the American Civil War. A staircase gave access to the pulpit, three steps led up to the clerk’s desk from the clergy pew, and the clerk could get to his desk from the aisle.

From St. Michael’s, Charleston, 1751-1951:

IMG_1511“The location of the group is also of significance. As Sir Christopher Wren had indicated, Anglican churches were built to serve as ‘auditories.’ The reading desk and the pulpit should then be placed in the position from which the minister could best be heard by the entire congregation. He must stand high above the heads of his flock in order to overcome the height of the square pews.”

What is fascinating to me is the detailed decoration gracing the exterior of the furniture as well as the lovely woods employed in the design. Williams lists the carved decorations, including “Lawrel Leaves,” “5 Leaved Grass in the Cornish,” “Swelling Torus cut with Foliage Flowers,” and my personal favorite, “1 Pine Apple on the top of the pulpit.” For those who may not be aware, the pineapple has long been a symbol of hospitality. In fact, the hospitality industry today awards a trophy featuring a pineapple.

IMG_1514Again from Williams:

“The two inlays have been miraculously preserved. The panel of the west face is inlaid with several woods. Against a background of quarter-sawed oak, rays of long-leaf pine and walnut stream from a circle of mahogany. The cross and the I H S are of white pine; the symbolic device below adds, in an ebony star of David, a triangle of ivory. The ceiling of the pulpit, the sounding board proper, is also inlaid. On a mahogany field alternating diamonds of long-leaf pine and walnut form a large star in the center of which smaller diamonds of the same woods describe a smaller star, counter-colored. The corners of the hexagon are touched with rays of these woods rising from arcs of long-leaf pine.”

With that detailed description in mind, let’s look at how Emily viewed the pulpit in Emily’s Vow:

The final strains of the hymn died away as the rector climbed the stairs to the elevated pulpit to deliver his sermon. The richly carved furniture boasted inlaid woods ranging from pine to oak to mahogany, and was a work of art unbefitting its occupant, to her mind. His position, towering high above the congregation’s heads, not only ensured everyone could hear his message, but also forced her to look up at him until her neck hurt. Emily chastised herself for detesting this portion of the service, but to no avail.

Emily continues to survey her surroundings, taking in the nave and chancel and missing the patriotic preacher who had been ousted by a loyalist one. Thus, her desire to leave the church. At any rate, what do you think? Do you like the way I wove in the details to provide a visual? Would you be interested in hearing about the chancel and nave and how Emily views them as well? I love to hear from my readers, so please leave a brief comment or question and I’ll be happy to respond.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

Emily's Vow Finalist SealAnd of course, if you’d like your own copy of Emily’s Vow, you can buy it at the following links. Thanks!

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1wZML3a

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1obL3tT

iBooks: http://bit.ly/1FCoy5L

Kobo: http://bit.ly/1t75sMh

Google: http://bit.ly/13Bll94

Between the Lines: Mapping the Past #research #history

The where of a story anchors the characters as well as the readers regarding the place and time of the tale. In order to write my A More Perfect Union series, I needed to create a visual of the city of Charles Town, South Carolina, during the American Revolution versus the Charleston of today. Since my characters mainly lived inside the city limits, understanding those limits versus today’s boundaries was imperative.

My husband and I visited Charleston twice over the years it took me to write the four stories. The first time we stayed in the John Rutledge Bed and Breakfast, specifically so I could experience the sights and sounds of the home where one of South Carolina’s first governors lived in the 18th century. We also took a walking tour of the historic district with all of the 18th century homes and some of the cobble stone streets. And we enjoyed an elegant meal at McCrady’s Tavern off of Bay Street, a place where George Washington ate on his southern tour during his first term as president. If you haven’t been to this beautiful and charming historic city, I strongly encourage you to make it a destination for a future vacation.

Charleston MapI realized early on a visual aid would be beneficial. So I located a hand-drawn map of the city as it appeared during my time period. Of course, it was too small for my purpose of locating where my characters would live and the kind of houses they’d live in. So with the help of my creative son, I (read: he) made an enlarged copy and I glued it to a piece of poster board.

Then I chose images from the walking tour guide of several houses, ones that seemed to suit the life styles of my characters. I glued those onto the map, along with the picture of how I imagine my characters would look. I also marked the locations of the market and a few other places mentioned in my stories to ensure that I accurately described how the characters navigated through the streets of the city to go various places.

I don’t often make visual aids, such as my map, but it proved useful indeed. Especially when Emily had to visit Samantha in Emily’s Vow (Book 1) and when Benjamin escorted Amy to Samantha’s house in Amy’s Choice (Book 2). Also Samantha, in Samantha’s Secret (Book 3), needed to walk from her home to where Benjamin stayed at Captain Sullivan’s quarters above his import shop. Or when Evelyn, in Evelyn’s Promise (Book 4), had to find her parents when they were out for a stroll. To learn more about each of the stories in the A More Perfect Union series, please visit my website where you’ll find their descriptions and where you can purchase them.

AMPU Covers-4Like most historical fiction/romance authors, accuracy is important to the extent possible based on source materials. Sometimes we can’t know the answer to a question because it’s not documented. But in this case, having the street map ensured I could describe the town as it existed during the time period of my series.

Thanks for stopping by! Until next time, happy reading!

Betty

P.S. If you haven’t already, please consider signing up for my newsletter, which I only send out when there is news to share. News like new covers, new releases, and upcoming appearances where I love to meet my readers. Thanks and happy reading!

A Room with a View: What’s yours? RWW authors share on this week’s blog hop! #LoveChatWrite

RWW-4

Romance Writers Weekly is a group of romance authors who have joined forces to help each other in this crazy publishing business. Each Tuesday we host a blog hop where we answer a set of questions or maybe share a piece of flash fiction. RWW also has a WebsiteBlogNewsletter, and can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@LoveChatWrite). This week I’ve posed the question to my fellow authors to consider.

“Our surroundings influence our mood and view of the world as much as setting in any story. What is the view outside your window, or what would you like the view to be?”

I asked this question as a result of the workshop I taught about setting and how characters interact with their surroundings (objects, landscape, weather, etc.). That started me thinking about how our surroundings influence how we, as people, feel and react. Especially as I remembered the day when we moved from a rustic log home with dark log walls into our present home with lots of windows and light colored walls. My heart soared and my mood went right along with it. I hadn’t realized just how much the dark brown walls had damped my spirits.

So to answer my own question…

My current home is on 22 acres of Tennessee farmland. Out my front windows, I see trees along a collection creek (which only has water in it after a hard rain) and fields where once my daughter rode her horses. Out back, is a screened porch and in-ground pool, and a bit farther back an ancient barn and pastures and more trees. The lines of trees provide a screen between the house and road and between our property and our neighbors. It’s very private and secluded. I consider this piece of land my haven. It’s peaceful and calm most of the time, with an occasional small emergency (a neighbor’s horse coming for a visit, for example).

Bolte-Reading-writing spotWhile I love my home and surroundings, I hope to one day live either at the ocean or on a lake with water and trees and accompany flora and fauna. The rhythm of the waves soothes any troubles I may be experiencing and I don’t have the option to visit the beach often, typically years between trips to the sandy shore. Would I worry about hurricanes at the beach? Probably. Thus I’d settle for living on a lake, instead.

I believe that having a calm place to retreat to ensures my own emotional stability when I’m not at home and faced with uncertainty and new situations. What do you think? Do you have any instances when you realized just how much your surroundings impacted your emotions or actions?

Be sure to hop on over to Jo Richardson’s blog to find out the view from her domain.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions!

Betty