First a few facts about our author:
Betty Bolté writes both historical and contemporary stories that feature strong, loving women and brave, compassionate men. No matter whether the stories are set in the past or the present, she loves to include a touch of the paranormal.
Thank you for joining us at Scribbler’s today, Betty!
What would you most like your readers to know about you that they would not likely read in your official bio?
I’m a creative type. Besides writing, I also crochet, cross-stitch, play a guitar and sing, as well as love to cook and bake.
What would you like to tell the Scribbler readers about your book, Emily’s Vow?
This story delves into the changing view of women’s roles and opportunities that began during the American Revolution and continues today. In the 18th century, as an example, one school of thought adhered to the false idea that women’s brains were not wired to learn academic topics, that they’d become ill and could die if they studied like men. Without women proving those men wrong, imagine where we’d be today.
How deeply do you research before beginning to write and how important is being historically factual in a fictional work?
Historical accuracy is paramount for me. Before I begin writing a story, I scour books, internet sources, and when possible visit the site in person. As I’m writing, I often stop to seek out the nuances of specific details (i.e., on what occasions or did they ring St. Michael’s bells in 1782?) so I can weave the real methods of performing some act/task/chore, or to describe the location/building/event as accurately as possible.
What is the most interesting activity you’ve participated in for research?
Far and away, the most interesting thing I’ve done is travel to tour historic sites, such as Brattonsville (http://chmuseums.org/brattonsville/) and Charleston (http://www.charleston.com/), South Carolina, and Mount Vernon (http://www.mountvernon.org/) and Jamestown (http://www.historyisfun.org/), Virginia, among many. Being in the same place as historic figures enables me to gain a first-person perspective of the size and feel of the place. Like the sound the floor makes or that the stairs make when you walk on them. Touching the same handrail that George Washington held when he went up to his private rooms made me think about what living at Mount Vernon would have been like.
What drew you to the time period of the American Revolution?
I’ve been fascinated with this time period since ninth grade, when my parents took me on a trip and we stopped in South Carolina at the Cowpens National Battlefield park (http://www.nps.gov/cowp/index.htm). Standing in the place where so many fought and died in order to establish our country, it finally sunk in what history is about. It’s more than statistics, dates, names, and strategies. Real people fought each other, hand to hand, gun to gun, bayonet to bayonet, slogging through swamps and mosquitoes and up and down hills with little to eat, rags to wear, bare feet, and praying they didn’t die from a host of diseases (malaria, diphtheria, small pox, etc.). I wanted to share the personal side of the fight for independence.
How much influence do your characters have on which direction the story takes you?
We’re a team most days, balancing out their whims with my rough outline. J Other days, the snag the reins and run off in a new direction and then I have write like crazy to keep up and straighten out the mess!
What one thing about your hero, Frank, drives his heroine Emily crazy? And what one thing about Emily drives Frank nuts?
Emily cannot stand that Frank is insisting she be safe and sensible, while Frank cannot fathom why she will not do as her father and he insists: stay inside out of harm’s way.
Do you develop a deep backstory for all your characters before ever sitting down to write or do you just have a general idea of who they are?
I have a character description spreadsheet that I fill in as I type, though sometimes I can fill in specific details before I start writing. The list includes physical descriptors (height, weight, hair color, etc.), career, biggest fear, primary goal, etc.
When brainstorming a story idea do you begin with character or plot?
Character and plot are coupled in my mind. I often get to pondering the “how” (i.e., how would a young woman recover from her fiancé taking a bullet and dying to protect her? => Traces (Ghosts of Roseville Book 1)) which leads to the “who,” “what,” “where,” and “so” of the story.
Can we have an excerpt from Emily’s Vow?
Sure thing! Here, Frank ponders Emily’s willful denial of the rules her father has laid down:
The view of the amassed fleet of British ships in the harbor through the grimy window of McCrady’s Tavern did little to assuage Frank’s distress. What should he do now? He was only vaguely aware of the activity along the wharfs reaching out from Bay Street to the turbulent confluence of the Ashley and Cooper beyond, the mixing point of the two rivers. Seagulls and terns swooped and dived over the churning water. Dark gray clouds scudded across the pale blue sky. The British ships mingled with merchant vessels, their furled masts tugged by the wind. Hammer blows and curses carried through the open door of the tavern as coopers built barrels for shipping the products from the colony to overseas markets.
Downing half of the ale from a heavy blue glass bottle, he tried to fathom what possessed the two maids to walk alone to the ladies’ gathering rather than under the protective watch of the two strong slaves. Shaking his head, he cursed aloud at the absurdity and the damned danger they placed themselves in. Were they fools?
Naive and foolhardy. Emily possessed a wild side, apparently. Someone needed to tame that out of her before she harmed herself. Or Tommy. He would speak to her father once more when he arrived. Emily had challenged the lusty men, showing her courage in the face of their threat. In the event, if any harm befell her Frank stood to answer to Captain Sullivan. Not an encounter he need ever experience, to his mind, as long as Emily behaved herself. He’d have to make sure she did.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Sharing the story that plays in my head with others for their enjoyment.
What do you enjoy the least?
I can’t think of anything about writing that I don’t like!
What is the writing process like for you? If you were to describe your process in one word, what would it be?
I start with roughly identifying the situation, the characters, the time period, and the location. Then I brainstorm scenes necessary and arrange them into an effective story and emotional arc. Then I write each scene, revising and shifting as needed. Once I have a first draft, then I make a second pass to tidy up loose ends and add more depth of emotion (motivation). Next I send the manuscript to beta readers for their comment (likes/dislikes/confusion points). After correcting those issues, then I send it to a content editor who helps me strengthen any weak spots and clarify any other confusion points. Final pass of the draft is done before submitting for publication.
Do you have a critique partner/belong to a critique group?
I do have a couple ladies who are my CPs. I do not currently belong to a critique group.
If money were no object, where would you most like to live?
By the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.
What is your favorite curse word?
What is your favorite sound?
Rain on the metal roof on a Sunday morning when I don’t have to crawl out of bed to do anything.
What is your least favorite?
Police car siren behind me… Need I say more?
If you could have one super power, what would it be?
I’d like to be able to have super persuasion powers so I could help bring true understanding between all the peoples of the world so they wouldn’t fight/kill each other over ideological differences.
What writer has most influenced your work?
Good question! I really enjoy reading Hemingway, Poe, and Henry James, as well as Sidney Sheldon, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard among many favorites. I’ve also studied the classics. I think my writing voice is a combination of all of these influencers.
What are you currently reading?
King’s Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb.
What are the best and worst pieces of writing advice you’ve ever heard?
The best: Write the best book you can each time. The worst: Write something, anything, even if it’s crap. You can always rewrite it. (I strive to write the best I can without getting bogged down in revising as I write, in order to minimize the amount of revisions necessary to make the story work.)
What books or other projects do you have coming up in the future?
Samantha’s Secret is now in the publisher’s hands for a 2015 release. I’m working on sequels to each of my series, and starting a new historical women’s fiction series
To keep up with Betty:
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