Bio: Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and
Welcome, Sandra. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I don't think of my characters as being me. They have different personality traits, and they don't look like me. The characters in my stories often react in ways I don't expect. Allowing the characters in my imagination to show me what happens next brings unexpected twists.
Before reading my debut novella, my husband asked me if he was the main character's love interest. I told him, "He's not you. She's not me. If it was you, I'd definitely want her to be me."
Good answer. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I don't drink coffee. I get my morning caffeine from chocolate milk. I know—most adults grow out of this stage. I never did!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wanted to be a writer in elementary school but received no encouragement. I set the dream aside until about ten years ago. I've been told, "No one thinks like you. No one talks like you." Obviously some one does think like me—me. Those comments left me feeling like an outsider.
I attended my first writers' conference about eight years ago and found a whole room full of people with lively imaginations. For the first time it struck me that God made me this way on purpose. He equipped me to think like a writer. In this literary group of about four hundred people, I belonged.
That’s a wonderful discovery, isn’t it? Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
The type of book I most often gravitate to is inspirational historical romance. I enjoy contemporary romance and romantic suspense novels. I also read a lot of non-fiction books as part of my research.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
As much as I try to protect myself from over commitment in busy seasons, it happens anyway. To keep myself organized in stressful times, I write out to-do lists. These contain all business-related items that are on my plate. Then I begin tackling the hottest fires or the things that can be quickly completed. Checking things off brings a sense of accomplishment.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Choosing character names can be difficult. As I begin a story, I create a document with names, descriptions, jobs, etc., about each character I already know about. New characters pop up in the story all the time. Then I have to stop and figure out the name. If an idea doesn't come, I look in a phone book for last names. These books provide plenty of possibilities.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My family. I'm proud of whatever part I played in the wonderful people they've become.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Dolphins seem to enjoy life. They jump in and out of the water with wild abandon. They travel with family and friends. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn't it?
Yes, it does. I love watching them. What is your favorite food?
Chocolate. I tend to crave it most during stressful times. Thankfully bite-sized candies are usually enough to satisfy me. The new chocolate rice cakes are pretty tasty—chocolaty without containing a lot of calories. Have you tried them yet?
I haven’t seen those yet. I do love dark chocolate. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
There are so many things to learn about writing. In the beginning, it was writing a query and then a proposal. I find myself putting off new writing tasks that I've not done before, perhaps due to a fear of failure. After I force myself to work through it, the second time isn't as difficult.
Tell us about the featured book.
My inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released today. Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their
home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the
soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life.
He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her
family's hideaway with saving Adam's life. Lookout Mountain
Please give us the first page of the book.
Wednesday, November 25, 1863
As the sound of a hundred firing muskets echoed across the valley, Carrie Bishop stepped out of the darkness of the cave that had sheltered her family for over two months. Peering left and right before replacing the branches that obscured the mouth of the small cave, she felt grateful for the wispy fog. It should help to mask her movements from any watchful eyes in the valley. Leaving the safety of the shrubs and one tall oak tree that further hid the entrance, she exhaled with relief to find no sign of the soldiers on
. A noisy battle had
taken place here yesterday. Lookout
Leaves rustled behind her. “Can I come out there with you, Carrie?”
Turning swiftly at her little brother’s loud whisper, she motioned him back inside. “No, Jay. I told you to wait for me.”
“Aw, come on, Carrie. I don’t want to stay with Aunt Lavinia.” Her nine-year-old brother raised his eyebrows imploringly.
Carrie sighed. They’d both been stuck inside too much lately, and their bedridden aunt’s bitter complaining didn’t make returning to the cave such a pleasant prospect. “Let me look around first. I’ll be right back.”
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this new book with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.A Stranger On My Land (Civil War Romance Series) (Volume 1) - Amazon
Stranger On My Land: The Battle of Lookout Mountain, TN, November 24, 1863, (Civil War Romance Series) - Kindle
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