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
, was a
lot of fun to write. It was a nice change of pace. Kansas
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
, 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. Franklin,
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
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? America
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
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. Tennessee
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Contributing column writer for: http://www.almostanauthor.com/category/genre/history/
Sandra's Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
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
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