Putting Together Gift Baskets for Readers #writerslife #readers #romance #books #readerevents

One of the fun aspects of being an author is attending reader events. I’ve traveled to several over the last few years and met so many avid readers who come out to say hello and talk about books. I especially enjoy seeing my fans and meeting my readers! One annual event I attend most every year, either as a reader or as a hosting author, is the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3 in Huntsville, Alabama. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I need to put together the baskets, but what I didn’t talk about was how I go about doing so.

There are two kinds of baskets featured at the luncheon. Raffle baskets and author door prize baskets.

Golden Owl 2017The raffle baskets each have a unique theme associated with them. Tickets are $1 each, or 6 for $5. This year, I’m doing two. One is the Golden Owl Books and Brews basket, containing items related to the fictional bookstore in my Secrets of Roseville paranormal romance series. Obviously, I’ve included several books including Undying Love and Haunted Melody, but also tea, coffee, hot chocolate mix, a decorative owl, and some shortbread. A talented friend donated some notecards she made using her photos and some wire jewelry she made, items also found in the fictional store in my stories. Of course, you get the basket, too, which is made from pretty gold wire and I’ve used a soft pashmina to line it.

Old Tyme Xmas-2017The other raffle basket has the theme of an Old Tyme Christmas and includes several historical romances set during that holiday as well as some old-fashioned types of decorations, a snowman votive candle holder, the Christmasy basket, a crocheted scarf I made as a liner, and some hard candy in stick form and lemon drops. A few items to kick off your holiday season a bit early.

Those two were easy to decide to do, but then I had to figure out what my door prize basket’s theme would be. Stumped, I turned to my fans, Betty’s Novel Ninjas, for inspiration. (If you too are a fan of my stories, you’re welcome to join the Facebook group!) They didn’t fail me, either! This group of people who have read and enjoyed my stories listed several possibilities. Two ideas—Irish basket and a cooking related basket—combined to make my ultimate theme: Irish heritage. I took a white wicker basket, lined it with a shamrock scarf, and filled it with everything I could think of related to Irish cooking, history, Irish Heritage-2017symbols, and foods. Including copies of the first two books in my Secrets of Roseville series, Undying Love and Haunted Melody. See, the O’Connells and Golden families both have Irish ancestors. And I blog on Tuesdays about cooking, so the two ideas merged into one and I’ve put together a jam-packed basket of goodies as a result!

One lucky attendee at the luncheon will have their name drawn to win my door prize basket. There’s no additional expense after you pay the $35 to attend the luncheon. The ticket price includes a $5 coupon you can use when you buy a book at the public signing after the luncheon. Additionally, you get to have lunch with the author of your choice (you can choose up to five, ranked by preference). Each hosting author also will give the people at their table a gift or two for coming out to chat about books and answer any questions you may have. It’s a lot of fun for readers and authors alike!

By the time of the luncheon, the third book in the Secrets series will be available. I’ll have copies of The Touchstone of Raven Hollow among other titles there for purchase and signing, so come on out and see me if you’ll be in the Huntsville area on June 3. I’ll be hosting a table this year, so sign up to come eat lunch with me, too! It will be a fun day all around!

Have you attended reader events like the Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon? What was the highlight of the event? Or would you like to attend one?

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.

Tasty Tuesday: Easy as Pie Crust #recipe from #romance #author Michele Stegman #dessert #pies

Tasty Tuesday is all about a pie crust recipe by author Michele Stegman. Tell us more, Michele!


All the way home, and while she peeled apples for a pie, Katie wondered just what she had gotten herself into. Adrian seemed to want more than to just pay her back for her help. He wanted a relationship. But did she?

It had been almost three years since Brent died. She had grieved. She missed him, but she was ready to get on with life. But was Adrian the man she wanted to get on with life with?

Well, wasn’t that what the dating process was for? To find out about each other? And no matter how it had come about or how he had phrased it, this was a date.

She had wanted to find out more about Carly’s teacher. Now she had the perfect opportunity. It wasn’t like she was going to walk down the aisle with him next week.

She took two of the frozen balls of pie dough she kept on hand and thawed them in the microwave while she finished cutting up the apples, added flour, sugar, a dash of cinnamon, and nutmeg.

She had wondered about Mr. Adrian Wright. He was attractive enough to be a model for one of those catalogs selling sport clothes. He was lean, black-haired, and had a look in his dark eyes that told every woman who gazed into them they hid some secret only she could unearth.

Adrian’s smile was infectious, especially now that he had quit scowling at her. He was kind to children, and he put himself whole-heartedly into whatever he was doing. But he was old enough to be established in a steady job. Why was he substitute teaching? How could he even live on a substitute teacher’s pay?

Could he really afford to take her out? Maybe that was why he seemed so tense when he asked her.

She rolled out one of the balls of dough and put it into her biggest pie pan, a deep ten inch one, and dumped in the apples. She eyed the second ball of dough wondering what kind of top to put on the pie. Lattice? Cut out leaves and layer them all over the top? A design of an apple tree branch with leaves?

The door bell rang and she heard Carly banging the blinds to look out the window. “It’s Mr. Wright, Mom,” Carly called.

“Open the door for him, Honey.” So much for fancy. Plain would have to do. She was rolling out the crust when Carly shepherded Adrian into the kitchen, hanging onto his hand and bouncing along in her yellow Winnie the Pooh swimsuit.

Adrian smiled and started to say something when he saw what she was doing. “A pie? From scratch? You didn’t have to go to so much trouble,” he said. But the gleam in his eyes told her he was glad.

MrRightsBabyCover-ebookAdrian, the hero of Mr. Right’s Baby, obviously loves pie. So does my own hero, my husband, Ron. When we first got married I made a pie. And it was good. But it was when I tasted one of my new mother-in-law’s pies that I knew I could do better. She graciously gave me her pie crust recipe and I’ve been using it ever since. I have to admit, I make a great pie.

Katie, the heroine of Mr. Right’s Baby, is a lot like me, except for the way she looks! We both love to bake and cook. We both made our kids lunches with homemade bread and cookies and sometimes tucked little love notes in the lunchbox. Her adopted daughter, Carly, is based on my daughter, Shana. Both of them are little balls of sunshine.

 

 

Shana holding pieI included the excerpt from Mr. Right’s Baby because she is baking a pie with my mother-in-law’s recipe. Now I’m going to share that recipe with you. I love it not only because it is so good, but because I can make it into flattened balls and store it in the freezer. Then, like Katie, when I need to make a pie in a hurry, all I have to do is take out a ball of dough, thaw it, and make my pie!

Ginny’s Pie Crust

Mix: 4 ½ cups flour, 1 T sugar, 1 t salt.

Add:  1 ¾ cup Crisco (I use butter flavor)

Mix these together. It is easier if you use a stand mixer.

Separately mix together ½ cup water, 1 T vinegar, 1 egg. Whip together and add to the flour/Crisco mixture.

Chill for 15-30 minutes before using.

This makes 2½ double crust 9 inch pie shells. It will keep for 3 days in the fridge, or you can make it into flattened balls and freeze for later.

10151971_633987283679_4716031159509436_n (2)Thank you so much, Betty, for letting me blog on your site. I love sharing recipes and talking about baking.

Mr. Right’s Baby is available as an ebook or in paperback. Visit www.MicheleStegman.com for information on my other books and to read excerpts. Or connect with me on Twitter or on Facebook.

 


I’ll fess up. I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch. In fact, I usually buy them ready to fill at the grocery store. But I may have to give this recipe a try. What do you think? Do you like to bake pies? How do you make your crust? I’m curious!

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!

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

Writing Space Reality versus Vision #writerslife #amwriting #amediting

Moving day is quickly approaching. Only a couple of weeks until the big day. Like many people, I’m not looking forward to the actual move. All the disruption, decisions, questions, and mess associated will go on for weeks, I’m sure. It’s the endgame that I’m looking forward to most. In particular, the fact that I’ll have my own office for the first time in 17 years.

My Writing Space-TaftFor the last 14 years, I’ve done my writing on a laptop, either on my lap (which ended up being a very bad idea, by the way) or in the configuration in the picture. For at least seven of those years, I worked either at the desk in the family room which my husband eventually commandeered to do the finances or at an office when working full-time as a technical editor/writer for SAIC in support of NASA’s Space Launch System Program Office in Huntsville, Alabama. I resigned from SAIC in 2013 and returned to working from home.

I bought the laptop desk after years of using my laptop on my legs, looking down, which caused severe neck and shoulder pain my chiropractor has corrected for me. The wireless keyboard sits on my lap, my wireless mouse and pad on the arm of the recliner. It’s been fairly comfortable, although recently my upper arm has started to rebel against the height of the mouse. I imagine after we move, I’ll still write in a similar position most of the time, but I’ll also have an actual office with a door and a window I can retreat to when necessary.

My New Office-PinkIn reality, the room is a bedroom and apparently was used by a little girl. Or at least someone very fond of pink. I’m not fond of pink. Especially Pepto-Bismol pink. So when we have the entire interior of the house painted by a professional before we move in, the color will change in my new office. He’s going to paint everything, too, including the ceilings and closets and trim. I’ve chosen Solaria, which is a pale yellow with gold tones. A cheery, warm color to surround me with to write and edit, research, transcribe. Whatever I need to do. I’ll need to find some pretty curtains, hopefully in navy, gold, with a splash of red? I’ll see what I can find that appeals to me after we move in. That’s one decision that doesn’t have to be made right away.

Why am I so excited about having an office? I’ll have space to spread out reference materials, or manuscript pages as I revise and edit. I’ll be able to more easily transcribe my father’s correspondence in a place where the piles and stacks won’t interfere with other family activities. I may even set up my keyboard to play while I let my imagination play with a scene or two. Keep in mind I haven’t had access to my keyboard because it’s been set aside to make room for the exercise equipment in the room it used to be in. So pulling it out again is another positive I’m seeing in this move. Decluttering is another!

I’ll share pictures of my new office once I get it arranged and workable. With luck, my vision will come to be. I want a place that inspires and comforts. Only after everything is transported and set up will I know for certain. Either way, I’ll have my own space and my husband will have his own office next door. Our living room will be used for relaxing and not work for a change. I like that, too!

Do you have an area or space all your own? Or if you could have one, what would it look like? What would you be sure to have in it?

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.

Juggling Personal and Professional Obligations #WritersLife #moving #familyfirst

I know I’m fortunate to be able to work from home. It’s a comfortable place where I can relax and focus on what I need to do without having to dress up and drive to an office. Only when we’re moving, it becomes difficult to concentrate on my writing and the business side of publishing books. See, we sold our farm last week and so started the paperwork to buy the new house we hope to move to the middle of April. We had not planned to move so soon, though. After we put the farm on the market, I pushed through finishing writing The Touchstone of Raven Hollow (Secrets of Roseville Book 3) by the first week in March so that I can stay on track to release it in May. I will send it off on Tuesday to my editor to help me polish it.

Then my focus almost entirely will shift to sorting and discarding, donating, or packing. In addition to our upcoming move from a farm into a neighborhood near my father-in-law’s retirement community, we also have to clear out his assisted living apartment. He’s needing more care now, so will move into skilled care. Thus his other apartment needs to be vacated for another resident. So two moves over the next one month. And all the decisions and disruptions that comes with making such moves.

I’m grateful to have my book nearly done so I’ll keep on track, but I also rather long for the escape of slipping into the story world for a few hours. Ignoring all of those decisions for a little while.

IMG_2173Another task that has taken priority is putting together the raffle baskets and my author basket for the upcoming Heart of Dixie Romance Readers Luncheon on June 3. I’ll hand them over to the ladies in charge of the baskets so they don’t get damaged or worse lost during this transition. Which means gathering the goodies to put in them. I’m waiting for a few more things to fill them out and then can check off that task from my to-do list.

Easter Sunday falls between when we expect to close on the new house and when we close on selling our farm, so I’m not sure if we’ll gather for the holiday, or if we do which house it will be in. Another decision looming!

I may or may not have time during the month of April to write my weekly Monday post, but I will try. I enjoy touching base with my readers. Tasty Tuesday posts will continue as those are provided by some of my authors friends for your enjoyment. Starting in May, I’ll be sharing some historical recipes adapted to modern tastes, cooking techniques, and healthy eating options. More on that to come later.

For now, it’s only one more week until Haunted Melody releases on March 28. Have you ordered your copy yet? Links are below for your convenience.

Now I’m off to figure out what to do with all the stuff in my china hutch. Talk to you later!

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.

haunted_melody_600x900Paulette O’Connell needs to build her home decorating business in order to give her unborn child a stable home. While exploring the mysterious attic of the antebellum plantation where she lives, she accidentally summons her grandfather’s ghost. But he won’t leave until she figures out why she needed him in the first place, putting her plans in serious jeopardy.

Zak Markel has been searching for the last ingredient to create the Elixir of Life he hopes will save his brother’s eyesight. But he discovers the woman of his dreams in the smart and beautiful Paulette, distracting him from his focus at the worst possible time, even though she staunchly refuses to allow him past her defenses.

Can he convince Paulette to open her mind to possibilities and follow her heart to true happiness before it’s too late?

(Updated and revised edition; originally published in 2014 as Remnants.)

Amazon USA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody

Amazon AU: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-AU

Amazon CA: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-CA

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-UK

B&N: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-BN

Kobo: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-K

iTunes: http://bit.ly/HauntedMelody-iTunes

Getting to know V-Mail #writerslife #research #WWII #letter #writing #familymatters

img_2120I have begun transcribing my dad’s V-Mail letters, which is very interesting. I talked about the mass of correspondence I’ve begun sorting and working my way through here. I decided to start with the V-Mail because I’m curious about what my grandmother and other wrote to my dad while he was in the U.S. Army during WWII. I think there must be at least 100 of the letters that my dad punched holes in and bound together with a metal clasp. The clasp left some rust marks on them, unfortunately, but they are still legible. Even after 70+ years.

As I’ve deciphered and typed the contents, I wondered about how the Victory Mail system worked. What did the original look like? How did each letter get transformed into a picture? So to the internet I went!

The history of this efficient and inventive system proved fascinating. The U.S. Postal Service created a standardized form that served as both letter and envelope. The letter writer filled in the To and From address within designated sections on the form, and then wrote a short letter within a specific box. You can see an example of a blank form here. Then the letter writer would fold and seal the paper and write the address again on the outside of the paper, or the envelope. Then affix 3 cents postage and pop it into the mail.

V-Mail was routed to specific stations in the United States where a new machine would convert the paper letter into a microfilm image. Based on the British Airgraph system, Kodak invented the Recordak machine that would take a picture of each standardized letter and save it on a synchronized 16 mm movie film. The rolls of film were then put into a mail sack and transported by the military planes to their destinations, where they were “blown up” to their original size as pictures and sent to the recipient. You can find out more about the entire system at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum site. If you visit New Orleans, Louisiana, you can also stop in at the National WWII Museum to see an exhibit about the war and V-Mail. The Museum is a great place to learn about life at home as well as the fighting.

img_2121The contents of the letters I’ve transcribed so far, which includes only 4 of the approximately 100+ V-Mail, are filled with what my grandmother was doing, what my dad’s siblings were doing, what she got for Mother’s Day, what she made for dinner, etc. Everyday happenings that gave my dad a sense of what life at home was like while he was away. As I read up on the need and use for V-Mail, I realized my grandmother was basically following the guidance from the War Department and the Postal Service regarding keeping the soldiers’ morale up by maintaining close connections to home and family. By giving the men a nuanced reminder of what they were fighting to protect. Home and hearth and all the people in our country and allies’ countries.

Grandmother often told Dad how much she loved him (“My dearest Murray”), how she looked for letters from him and worried when she didn’t hear from him, and often closed with “Be sweet”. She also frequently told him she’d send an “air mail” soon. I found the terminology interesting as well. She didn’t say she’d send a letter, but an “air mail” which cost twice as much as the V-Mail, at 6 cents postage. So, just like we send an “email” she sent V-Mail and air mail (two words back then).

img_2119See, for me, it’s not just the words on the page that is of interest, but also the methodology of how the overall mail system worked during war time, the innovations that enabled that system, and how people used them. One interesting side note, is that enclosures were not allowed at first. But then they did permit a picture of a baby under one year old or that was born after the father had gone back to his unit. Morale was all important during those terrible, trying years.

I’m sure our men and women in uniform today are ever grateful for email and cell phones that enable them to communicate much more readily than via the mail. But I’m so grateful to have this historic record to delve into, something that future and present historians don’t have access to with email and phone calls. Trade-offs always exist as technology morphs and improves.

I’m really looking forward to discovering what new information to me all the hundreds of letters contain. I should be entertained for quite some time.

One more thing. Three of the four books in the A More Perfect Union historical romance series are discounted through the end of January at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Amy’s Choice is only 99 cents, Samantha’s Secret is $1.99, and Evelyn’s Promise is $2.99. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, now is a good time to do so.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts and opinions! 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. 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.

Unveiling My Family History One Letter at a Time #writerslife #research #family #history

 

rms-letters-2016
Letters to/from my father spanning 1940-1950

How well do you know your parents’ family history? My father lived with me and my hubby and children for 17 years before he moved into assisted living. That gave me plenty of time to hear his tales of growing up, of surviving bombings during World War II, and more. I’m fortunate to have inherited my father’s correspondence after he died in 2011. This year I’ve decided to transcribe all of his letters for posterity, which means reading each and every letter and typing what they say, along with the notations on the envelopes and postmark information. As I’ve started perusing a few of them, I’m amazed at how much is written on the exterior of what I’ve read to date. I’m also anxious to get to the letters to and from my parents during their courtship. What new insights will I gain from those love letters?

 

First, there are other aspects of the correspondence to ponder. Consider the postmarks for example. They vary somewhat by city and state as to what they contain. Some have the day of the week including the date. Others do not. The earliest letters start in 1940 and the postmark doesn’t include a zip code. Curious, I had to find out when the U.S. postal service began using them. Turns out it wasn’t until after I was born! Not until 1963 did they begin to appear and even then not uniformly. Click here for more information if you’re curious like I was.

Another curiosity regarding the envelopes was the stamps. Or more specifically the missing stamps on many of the letters, though not all. I figured my dad must have cut them out, but why? I didn’t recall him collecting stamps. Maybe he tried to reuse them? Or gave them to someone else? While I was pondering this mystery, I happened to have a phone conversation with my oldest sister. I mentioned the missing stamps and she fessed up. Apparently Dad had given her permission to cut out the stamps she wanted for her collection! So that little mystery was solved quickly. The stamps themselves are also interesting, especially the price. It cost 1 cent to mail a “postal” or small postcard (left), and only 3 cents to mail a letter (right) in 1940 and 1941. And yet, the lady writing to my dad had to borrow a stamp from a friend in order to mail her letters because she didn’t have the money to buy one herself.

The stationary used is also varied and revealing at the same time. Lined note paper, folded pages written on like a booklet, letterhead from the nursing school where one of my dad’s girlfriends, or rather fiancée, attended (before he met my mother). Often the pages are numbered which was a necessity since the contents didn’t necessarily flow left to right as we’re accustomed today. The first letters are all handwritten, but some of the letters from my dad to his mother are typed on a typewriter while he was in the U.S. Army during World War II.

rms-letters-sorted-nov-2016

I’ve sorted the letters by year, except for the biggest collection which all were written the year my parents married in 1948, the two tall stacks in the back center of the above picture. Sometimes two letters a day from/to each of them! Those are sorted by month since my rubber bands had limits as to how far they’d stretch.

I wonder what I’ll learn about their courtship, about my family history, and about their plans and hopes for the future after their marriage. Obviously, this is a long-term project which will keep me occupied for months to come as I won’t be able to work on it every day. After all, I have books to write and research to do, trips to take and other family obligations. But my curiosity is truly piqued!

I may share some of my dad’s letters written during the war if they appear interesting. I imagine family doings would not be of interest, but his descriptions of where he was stationed and what happened on Guadalcanal would have more potential I think. We shall see as I go through them over the upcoming year.

Wish me luck! Tell me if you ever wonder about your parents’ courtship and how they met, etc. How much do you know about them?

I’m off to start typing!

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.

Tomorrow is the official release of Undying Love! I am happy to share Meredith and Max’s story with you. 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

Planning for Success in 2017 #WritersLife #amwriting #amreading #romance #history #fiction

Happy New Year! I know you’ve heard that a lot over the last few days, but I truly hope 2014-11-12-13-41-282017 proves to be both happy and prosperous for each of you. Of course, how you define happiness and prosperity will vary based on your goals and desires.

As I look forward to the upcoming year, I am planning for success on several fronts. First, I’ll release 4 books this year. That’s one kind of success as an author. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that Undying Love releases in just a few days on January 10. I plan to release two more books in the Secrets of Roseville series, Haunted Melody in March, and The Touchstone of Raven Hollow in June. Then in December I’ll release the prequel novella for my A More Perfect Union historical romance series, Elizabeth’s Hope. I’m taking a page out of Charles Dickens’ publishing plan by serializing the novella to my newsletter subscribers throughout 2017, one chapter each month, leading up to the release of the entire book for sale in December.

Second, I’ve planned to attend several book signings where I hope to meet my readers in person. June will find me in Huntsville, Alabama, and Portland, Oregon. July I’ll travel to Orlando, Florida, and then in October I’ll head to Portland, Maine. Details of where and when can be found on my website. See, I write stories to share them with others and enjoy chatting with those of you who enjoy reading them. So if you can make it to any of the signings or luncheons that would be such fun!

successThird, I posted last year about my business plan and I intend to work to the plan as closely as possible in order to achieve my intended goals for the upcoming years. Doing so is another kind of success to my mind. However, I also realize that plans must shift at times, so I’ve built into my plan optional routes to reach the desired destination. I’ve learned to be flexible in my planning to avoid unnecessary stress and to stay on track to my ultimate goal.

Fourth, I’ll continue to read across several genres and nonfiction books in order to keep the writing well fresh and deep. Books will include research for my historicals as well as reading for fun. I intend to average one book a week this year, depending on the length of the books I choose. I know I want to finish reading the Outlander series, for example, and those books are on the longer side.

Finally, this year my loving hubby and I will begin the downsizing process by putting our 22-acre farm up for sale and looking for a house in a neighborhood closer to where he works and to where his father lives. I’ll miss our sanctuary in the country but am looking forward to a new home with more conveniences. The unknowns associated with moving always provide new opportunities as well as new challenges, so this year should be interesting if nothing else. Success on this front will be defined by finding a house with a view and an office for me. Right now I write in my family room which has worked but I’m craving some desk space to spread out on and walls to hang a write-on calendar and a bulletin board for plotting books. Or at least to hang inspiring pictures and any awards I might win over the years. I’m thinking positive!

What are you looking forward to this year? Do you have any big plans or changes ahead?

Wishing you all the best in the New Year!

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.

News! Books 2-4 of the A More Perfect Union historical romance series set in Charleston, South Carolina, during the American Revolution are on sale through the end of January. Now is a great time to catch up on the fight for independence in Amy’s Choice, Samantha’s Secret, and Evelyn’s Promise.

Amazon   Barnes and Noble

Amy's ChoiceAmy’s Choice

When Amy Abernathy’s childhood sweetheart, Benjamin Hanson, leaves to fight in the American War for Independence without a word of goodbye, Amy picks up the pieces of her heart and chooses independence. When Benjamin returns unexpectedly, Amy flees to the country to help her pregnant sister and protect her heart.

Benjamin Hanson knows he hurt Amy, but he also knows he can make it up to her after he completes his mission. Then he learns that Amy has been captured by renegade soldiers. Now Benjamin faces his own choice: free the sassy yet obstinate woman he’s never stopped loving or protect Charles Town from the vengeful British occupation.

SamanthsSecretCOVERSamantha’s Secret

Midwife and healer, Samantha McAlester returns from the front lines to find Charles Town under British siege and the town’s new doctor at war with its citizens.

Dr. Trent Cunningham intends to build a hospital staffed solely with educated doctors. What he doesn’t need is a raven-haired charlatan spooning out herbs and false promises to his patients, while tempting him at every turn.

Then a mutual friend develops a mysterious infection. Trenton is stumped. Samantha suspects the cure but knows treatment will expose her long-guarded secret, risking all she holds dear… including Trenton.

Evelyn's PromiseEvelyn’s Promise

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

Militiaman Nathaniel Williams visits Charlestown, where his heart is ensnared by a smart, beautiful widow, forcing Nathaniel to make the hardest decision of his life.

Crafting Christmas Letters #writerslife #holidaycheer #amwriting

 

2012-xmas-tree
Our tree in 2012. We used to cut our own when the kids lived at home.

It’s only a few days until Christmas and I’m so excited! After all the years I’ve celebrated, the anticipation of watching my family and friends receive their gifts still brings joy to my heart. One of the many annual tasks to prepare for the holidays is writing the letter to accompany our Christmas cards. It’s mainly been my task, since I’m the writer in the house, for the nearly thirty years I’ve been married to my loving hubby. He does the lights, after all, so I can handle perusing our year’s highlights and challenges and choosing which to share and which to skip or summarize. Then he’ll add his two cents and off it goes!

 

Some years are easier than others to write. My goal is to make it informative without being depressing (everybody has issues we must work through, right?) and yet not overly Pollyanna either. In fact, one friend wrote to us that after reading our letters over the years, when he’s faced with a challenge of his own he wonders to himself “what would Chris do?” to resolve the issue. Yep, we’ve most definitely faced our fair share of troubles and problems, but I always look for the positive outcome. Thus my desire to not sugarcoat the letter.

Not everyone receives the letter, either. I have to go through the list and decide who would want to know about our year, both accomplishments and adventures. I can only hope that I make the choice correctly since I don’t want to bother friends with our family and personal insights.

I thought I’d share a few lines from past years to see what you all think of them. To show the kinds of details I include in order to reach out and connect with family and certain close friends.

From 2012:

After a 4-day writers’ conference in Atlanta that Betty attended in early October, we left to journey back to Massanutten on October 12, taking a roundabout way through Athens, GA, to visit [our daughter], then across South Carolina, stopping at The Cowpens Battlefield and Brattonsville, both American Revolution historic sites for Betty’s research. We were excited to welcome Betty’s lifetime best friend and her husband to visit with us at Massanutten for a night there.

The day after we came home, the second edition of Hometown Heroines, with a new cover and subtitle (True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure), was released as an ebook. As we write this, the paperback version is days away from being available as well.

From 2013:

Meanwhile, September brought more doctor appointments and diagnostic tests for [my father-in-law] as he continued to feel worse over the summer. Finally it was decided he should have heart valve repair surgery, which they did robotically in Birmingham the end of October after we got home from Massanutten. We stayed at the hospital’s guest suites while he had surgery and during his longer than expected recovery: two weeks instead of the expected one week. He is recovering, after a couple setbacks and adjustments.

While we were “on the road” for three weeks, [our son] stayed at the house and took care of the animals and plants, brought in the mail and the newspaper, and ate our food <grin>. We had to make a couple of trips home to get clean clothes and more books to read, but we felt it necessary to remain with Phil and advocate for his welfare as long as he was admitted.

From 2014:

Holiday greetings to you and yours! As the year winds down, we hope you’ll take some time to reflect on the joys and positive moments you’ve enjoyed since last Christmas. Our year has been filled with beginnings and setbacks, but through it all we’ve been healthy & safe.

Our first setback occurred just before last Christmas when Chris’s dad had a stroke. He was in the hospital for 9 days before being released to skilled care. Chris has been very busy this year, juggling his job, a myriad of chores and tasks around the house, and caring for [hid dad]. Some of the burden around the house stemmed from a water pipe bursting in the pool house in January that we didn’t notice for 2 days, which meant totally redoing the interior of the building. New wallboard, molding, flooring, and heating system had to be put in, but Chris had to oversee what the contractors were doing. Thankfully, the home owners insurance covered most of the cost.

From 2015:

Betty continues to research and write historical fiction stories, both women’s fiction and romances. She signed with a literary agent in January, which will hopefully facilitate the sale and publication of many books to come. The 3rd book in the A More Perfect Union series and her 5th novel, Samantha’s Secret, released in April. The 4th and last book in the series, Evelyn’s Promise, will release in February 2016. The children’s Literary Classics organization presented Betty with a gold medal for best gender specific young adult book for Hometown Heroines: True Stories of Bravery, Daring, and Adventure in Las Vegas in October in conjunction with the Vegas Valley Book Festival. What a great and humbling experience, too.

Just a few snippets to share as this year winds down. I hope you have a very happy holiday season and enjoy time with family and friends, or doing what brings joy into your heart. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

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! Only a few more weeks until it releases on January 10 and then the price will go up to $3.99.

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

Tasty Tuesday: Herbed Leg of #Lamb #dinner #recipe

img_2072I was a good girl, most of the time, and played by the rules and obeyed my parents. So when my dad told me that I had to use mint jelly on my lamb I refused to eat it. Why? Because while I like mint in tiny doses, I do not like it in jelly form. So it wasn’t until I met my future mother-in-law that I discovered that I really, truly love lamb.

The difference was that she didn’t even put mint jelly on the table. Instead, she made gravy from the juices, and such a lovely, rich gravy lamb makes, too.

Which all started me thinking about how my story characters might react to varying a favorite or a detested recipe. Switching things up on them might make some interesting dialogue and provide new insights into their personality.

So for today, I’m sharing my herbed leg of lamb which is very simple to prepare and delicious – or at least I and my family think it is. Note that I do not cook with salt, so if you really need it, you can add a pinch but I’d recommend trying it without first. We just enjoyed this the other night for dinner, along with roasted potatoes and a green bean/carrot mix of veggies. Followed by fresh baked brownies and vanilla ice cream. Everyone walked away happy according to the smiles and thanks. Enjoy!

Herbed Leg of Lamb

img_2069~1 Tablespoon minced garlic

~1/2 Tablespoon crushed rosemary leaves

~1/2 Tablespoon oregano leaves

~1 teaspoon Thyme leaves

~1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1 Tablespoon peanut oil

½ Tablespoon olive oil

Sesame oil (a few drops)

3-5 lb boneless leg of lamb

Mix all of the above ingredients except lamb to combine. (Note: Feel free to use other herbs you’d prefer if you don’t like any of those listed. I’d be sure to use the garlic, though.) Adjust the quantities to suit your taste as to which flavor(s) are strongest.

img_2070Rub seasonings onto surface of the lamb in a roasting pan or game dish. I don’t use a rack but you can if you’d prefer.

Place in a 325 deg F oven and roast until internal temperature reaches at least 160 deg F (medium/medium rare). For planning purposes, figure 30 min to the pound but check. I pull it out at that point and my hubby takes over to make gravy (I am not as proficient at that as he is!). Leftover lamb, if there is any, can then be reheated with the gravy and served over rice, or diced into curry or other dishes if not cooked to well done at this stage.

In theory, based on my attempts/observations, to make the gravy pour the essence from the roasting pan into a skillet and heat to a boil. Sprinkle with flour to thicken to a paste. Thin slowly with hot water until desired consistency, stirring frequently to eliminate lumps.

Slice the lamb and serve with gravy (or mint jelly…) and enjoy.

My mother-in-law taught me so much about cooking and entertaining which has served me well all my adult life. (My own mother passed away in 1989.) I miss her so much! That’s one reason I enjoy cooking, because it brings up memories of doing so with other family members, including my mothers, my father, and my children.

Are you like me and enjoy lamb? Or is there another food you didn’t like until you discovered a different way to prepare it?

Next week, I’ll feature another author and her recipe for a good story! See you then!

Don’t forget to order your copy of my next release, Undying Love. Thanks in advance for your support and reading my blog and my books!

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!

www.bettybolte.com

undying_love_600x900Undying Love is available for pre-order now!

When 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

Metamorphosis of Undying Love #writerslife #amwriting #fiction #books

undying_love_600x900Undying Love has been a real work in progress for me for several years. The story underwent several iterations before the one that will release in January. Curious as to how it morphed into a great paranormal romance? Here’s the skinny.

Back in 2007, I was taking a tech writing class as part of the requirements for earning a Master of Arts in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. I was bored, having been a tech editor/writer for at least fifteen years. When the professor said we had to research and write a paper on a technical topic I groaned inwardly. The only thing I wanted to research and write was a story I had in my head. A ghost story with a romance. So after class, I went to my advisor and talked to him about writing a thesis instead of taking the tech writing course. He helped me find a thesis advisor.

My thesis advisor, it turned out, was willing to consider a unique approach. Specifically, we discussed the novel idea (pun intended) of me researching the tropes and devices employed by two supernatural authors, Edgar Allan Poe and Henry James, and then incorporate them into the first few chapters of the story to demonstrate how to allude to them. Talk about excited! The university had never had a thesis based on fictional techniques before. I set to work, reading all of Poe and James in the process. Noting their devices and determining which of them to incorporate into my story, which I decided to call Traces. By the way, a “trace” is another name for a ghost, but it also referred to memorabilia and photographs as traces of a person’s history.

Now, the thesis version of Traces was the story of an army wife with her two children living in Huntsville, Alabama, while her husband is deployed. They’re living in an old house which proves to be haunted. I created a list of the elements I used and where they came from, for my memory’s sake and for the thesis reader’s information:

Allusion Concordance

Character or Element Title of Work / Author
Camille, character Poe
James, character Named after Henry James
Black kitten “The Black Cat” – Poe
A word signifies the entity but is not the entity itself Poe’s philosophy as stated in Uncanny American Fiction
Name of kitten, Jupiter “The Gold-Bug” – Poe
Mahogany doors and silver-plated doorknobs “The Jolly Corner” – James
“Hants” The Face in the Window and Other Alabama Ghostlore
Sherry (Amontillado) “The Cask of Amontillado” – Poe

 

The thesis ended up being half analysis of James and Poe and half the first three chapters of my story. My advisor’s comment, however, gave me pause when he said I was “brave to start with such a quiet opening.” Can you hear the death knell ringing?

So, I went back to the story and looked at it again, looking for ways to not have a quiet beginning. I pondered and rejected and reconsidered for weeks. Then I saw on the news the horrific shooting in a Colorado movie theater when the movie Dark Knight released. One of the survivor’s stories inspired a major change to my story. A young woman had been saved by her fiancé blocking the shooter from shooting her, but her future husband died in the act of shielding her. I wondered about how would you get through such a tragedy, the weight of survivor guilt? The loss of your future life with a man you loved?

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopThe second edition of Traces took place in a fictional haunted Tennessee plantation and features an architect, widowed and childless, who wants to bury her grief and anger by destroying the manor she inherited from her grandmother. That version was bought by Liquid Silver Books in 2014, my debut novel. I was finally, after 20+ years, published in novel-length fiction.

As the last couple of years have passed, sales of the story didn’t live up to my hopes. I came to realize that the title was the problem since everyone who read the story loved it and told me about it. With the advent of indie publishing, the power to do something about getting the story out to readers rested in my hands. When I received the rights back from the publisher, I decided to revise the story, change the title and cover, and release it again. This time, the architect, still a widow and childless, isn’t determined to destroy the manor at the outset, but is pushed into the idea by a handsome lawyer despite his aversion to the idea.

Undying Love is the last edition of this story (I’m not going to revise it again but move forward to other tales to tell), but the first in a new series, Secrets of Roseville. This paranormal romance series will include haunting, bewitching love stories with ghosts and witches and other supernatural beings. I am intrigued by the idea of ghosts and spells, of hauntings and unexplained happenings. I’ve had some of my own during my life which may or may not find their way into the upcoming series. Only time and characters whispering in my ear will tell…

Undying Love releases January 10, 2017, but is available now for pre-order. I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at how it came to be, and also enjoy reading the story when it releases. That’s always my goal, to write the best tale I can to share with others for their enjoyment.

For my American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! I’m thankful to all of you who read my stories and I really enjoy hearing from you. And as always, thanks for 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. 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 before it releases in December 2017. Thanks and happy reading!

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

 

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