Monday, October 29, 2018

A MUSKET IN MY HANDS - Sandra Merville Hart - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I was privileged to read this manuscript for an endorsement. I’m not usually fond of Civil War, or any war, stories that have battles in them. But this book grabbed my heart, because the characters were so real to me, and the scenes were told from the point of views of a few people who were the main characters in the book. It was from a different perspective from any other Civil War story I’d ever read. I highly recommend this wonderful book.

Welcome back, Sandra. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Thank you! That is a great question. I have novella, Trail’s End, that is part of Smitten Cowboy collection releasing August of 2019. This 1870 story, set in the wild town of Abilene, Kansas, was a lot of fun to write. It was a nice change of pace.

I have several ideas for what I’d like to write next. I really enjoy writing stories centered around historical events. There is a wealth of stories from the Civil War era that I’m considering for future novels. I’ve also written a contemporary romantic suspense novel—one with a Civil War thread—that I’d love to turn into a series.

I am praying now for guidance about what’s next.

I love it when I’m doing research for a book and find some historical event I hadn’t heard before. I always use that in the story. Tell us a little about your family.
My husband is a real trooper. He supports my writing. When I say, “I need to go to Franklin, Tennessee, to research a story,” he requests vacation time to explore with me. We are empty nesters. Our family is expanding—Christmas is a lively occasion with seven—soon to be eight!—small children and babies.

We have 6 great grands, with another on the way, so our holidays are lively and fun. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I still love to read—it’s my relaxation, my journey to new places through another author’s imagination—yet writing has changed me. Now I notice the words other authors use, how they build the story. Sometimes I’m captivated by a well-worded sentence or a paragraph as much as the story itself.

What are you working on right now?
What I’m doing right now is unusual for me. An idea for a story came to me one morning in that half-sleeping, half waking stage. Within fifteen minutes, I knew the story. I wrote this speculative contemporary book about four years ago—and it won’t let me go. I am revising this novella before sending it to my agent.

This summer, I dreamed a story, which I’m going to turn into a novel. It’s percolating in my mind. What outside interests do you have?
Readers may have noticed that I love history, focusing on our American history. Writing takes the majority of my time. Besides that, I enjoy traveling, walking, scrapbooking, reading, visiting museums, crossword puzzles, gathering with family and friends, and babysitting our grandchildren.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
Usually something in my research for an earlier book plants an idea for a future book. Sometimes a random comment or even a newspaper article sparks an idea. The setting for historical stories is more than just a backdrop—it’s as important as the story itself. In fact, I do a bulk of my research before I know the story. I find out the history and then drop my characters into the midst of events.

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I’m torn between Mark Twain and President Abraham Lincoln. I love Twain’s writing—his sense of humor reminds me of my dad.

I’ve spent so much time studying the Civil War as research for my novels that I’d love to talk with President Lincoln. Photos and paintings show his torment, his burden. What were his plans for rebuilding, reunifying the country? I’m pretty certain that his plans were different from what actually happened.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
How much work is involved in the entire process of writing and publishing a novel—even when your books are published by a traditional publisher. I am glad I didn’t know how long it would take before that first book contract came. I’m afraid that I might have been too discouraged to start the journey. I’m so glad that God protects us from knowing too much—He only reveals one step ahead. Yet He’s the One holding the lamp lighting one step at a time, so He is right there beside us on the journey.

That is so true. What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
To trust Him. To wait for His leading.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Three things I’d tell new writers:
Take writing classes—online, correspondence, or at a local college. Not only will you learn fundamentals, but also assignments given in class will force you to write. Those same assignments spark new ideas.
Attend writers’ conferences. A variety of workshops taught by experienced authors, agents, and editors will stretch you. Most conferences offer appointments with faculty. Take advantage of these to discuss your work and ask advice.
Write. Sit down in a chair and write. You will hone your own skills by writing.

Tell us about the featured book.
My third Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, follows two sisters as they disguise themselves as soldiers and join the men they love in Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee—just in time for the war to grow progressively difficult for Southern soldiers.

While the War Between the States rages, Callie Jennings reels from her pa’s ultimatum that she must marry his friend, a man older than him. Her heart belongs to her soldier hero, Zach Pearson, but Pa won’t change his mind. Callie has no place to go. Then her sister, Louisa, proposes a shocking alternative.

Zach still hears his pa’s scornful word—quitter. He’s determined to make something of himself as a soldier. He’ll serve the Confederacy until they win the war. If they win the war.
Times are tough and getting tougher for the South in the fall of 1864 when Callie and Louisa, disguised as soldiers, muster into the Confederate army. Louisa keeps an eye on her soldier fiancé, Nate. Callie is thrilled to be near Zach again though he seems more interested in being a soldier. Shooting anyone, especially former countrymen, is out of the question.
Tough marches lead them to the Battle of Franklin. How can anyone survive?

Please give us the first page of the book for my blog readers.
August 1864, just outside Cageville, Tennessee
Clopping in the yard drew Callie Jennings’ hand to her throat.

She rushed to the window and lifted the curtain. A moment of relief washed over her. It wasn’t Yankees looking for food again, thank the Lord. Pa had returned. He never said much about being a ranger, one of those irregulars who participated in guerrilla warfare for the Confederate States of America. The irregulars cut telegraph wire, pulled up railroad tracks, and worse—so some of the townsfolk said. His mood—and his drinking—depended on the success of their last mission. Would he be the even-tempered pa of her childhood today, or the drink-induced stranger she barely recognized?

Porter Jennings rode his horse into the barn and disappeared from sight. Callie dropped the curtain and hurried to the stove. Frying a batch of corn cakes didn’t take long, thank goodness. Pa would have a hot meal waiting when he got done brushing down Midnight. Must have been a hard night’s riding to take nigh onto noon to get back.

She didn’t like the Yankees all over Tennessee any better than Pa, but she’d heard rumblings about the irregulars catching one or two of the enemies alone and hanging them on a tree. That didn’t set well with her. It didn’t seem fair, though she kept those thoughts to herself. He wanted to protect his daughters and, being past the draft age of forty-four, this seemed his only choice.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this book with my blog readers. I know they’ll love it as much as I do.

Readers, here are links to the book.
A Musket in My Hands - Civil War Romance Series - paperback
A Musket in My Hands (Civil War Romance Series Book 3) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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29 comments: said...

Thank you for your thought-provoking interview, Lena. I appreciate being a guest on your wonderful blog!

Abigail Mitchell said...

This book looks so good!
Abigail in VA said...

Thank you, Abigail! A piece of my heart went into this one. :) Hope you enjoy the story!

Lori Smanski said...

Oh this sounds wonderful. I love civil war stories. I really enjoyed this post. I am fascinated on how writers get their ideas. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.
quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

Wendy Newcomb said...

This sounds like a great read, thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Wendy in South Sioux City, NE

wfnren at aol dot com said...

Thank you, Lori! I loved sharing how I get my ideas for a story. I hope you enjoy the novel! said...

Thank you, Wendy! Good luck with the drawing. :)

Paula Shreckhise said...

I am fond of Civil War stories. This one looks great. Paula from Missouri.

Connie Porter Saunders said...

I am a big fan of the Civil War era and your book sounds so interesting. I look forward to reading it. I also love the name Porter Jennings.
Connie from Kentucky

Caryl Kane said...

Hello Lena and Sandra! I enjoyed this wonderful interview. This books sound great!

Caryl K in TEXAS said...

Thank you. Paula! I love to read stories set during that turbulent period of our history, too. Hope you enjoy the novel. said...

That's awesome, Connie! I learned a lot from researching to write this novel. I like Porter's name, too. :) said...

Hi, Caryl. Yes, this was a fun interview. Enjoy the novel!

Maddy said...

Great interview! This looks like a great read.

Maddy from SC said...

Thanks, Maddy! Lena asked some great questions. Hope you enjoy the novel!

Vivian Furbay said...

I like civil war stories and would like to read this to see if the girls can get away as posing for men. Vivian Furbay of CO said...

Vivian, there are about 400 known cases of women disguising themselves as men to become Civil War soldiers. The real number has to be much higher. Yes, please read the novel!

Melanie Backus said...

I love this story concept and would love to read it. Melanie Backus, TX said...

That's awesome, Melanie. I hope you enjoy the story!

Sandy Quandt said...

Love your concept for A Musket in My Hands. Sounds intriguing.
Sandy Q TX said...

Sandy, I read about a lot of women who mustered in as Civil War soldiers--so many that I felt that I could dress up like a soldier and muster into the army. :) Hope you enjoy the story.

Patty said...

I love historical fiction, especially American history. I haven't read much civil war era fiction lately.

Patty From SC said...

Patty, learning tidbits about our history is one reason I love to read--and write--this genre. The Civil War was such a turbulent time for our country, full of heartache and courage. That's why I love writing these novels. I hope you like the story!

Sharon Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway SC. said...

Thank you for your interest in my Civil War romance, Sharon. Good luck in the drawing!


Sounds like a very good book to read Thank you for the chance to win a print copy! said...

Thank you, Sarah.There were a lot of surprises in my research that went into the book. Good luck in the drawing!

rubynreba said...

I love Civil War romances and look forward to this one!
Beth from Iowa

Shelia64 said...

this sounds so good! Shelia from Mississippi