Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Stranger on My Land

Meet Sandra Merville Hart

I love blogging. It often gives me a chance to meet up with other writers. This week, Sandra Hart's Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land,  was released. So great to feature her interview today.

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 where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret PlaceHarpstringSplickety MagazinePockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

Q. Where did you start and how did you get published?

When I decided to pursue a writing career, I needed to first learn the craft. I took a couple of writing courses at a local college, writing correspondence courses, and began attending writing conferences.

Many people that I met at writing conferences planned to pitch a story to an editor or agent. I began writing books since that was my goal. Some editors and agents agreed to look at them but no one offered a contract. The idea came to me that I started too big. Though certainly some authors start their publishing career with a book contract, it didn't seem to be the normal course.

A friend invited me to submit devotions for her website. She didn't offer cash for them but gave me something equally as good. She published one of my devotions. It started me on a slow path toward my goal, which I finally achieved. My debut novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

Q. Where do you get your story ideas?

Inspiration for stories comes from a variety of sources: conversations with friends, sermons, newspaper articles, a chance meeting. The courageous way someone battles a serious illness or overcomes a challenge inspires me. As a historical romance writer, many of my story ideas are born of hours of research.

Another thing that inspires me is visiting new places or seeing an old location with fresh eyes.  Vacationing in a city where significant historic events took place sparks many ideas. 

Q. How do you stay focused and keep disciplined in writing?

This is a tough one. Something that helps me is setting goals. I sign up to attend a conference where editors accept appointments. With this in mind, I pick up the speed on my current manuscript. Though I don't take complete manuscripts to the conference, finished first drafts spark more interest. I also take a proposal and a one sheet with me to the conference.

All of these require time to complete. It keeps me focused on the goal.

Q. Are there any books out there you wish you had written?

I can't remember thinking that about any books though I probably have. There are many talented authors who inspire me. I learn things about writing by reading novels of gifted writers. I notice how they built the tension in a particular scene or how they handled a tough conversation.

Q. How do you approach describing a setting to your readers? I mean, do you use visual images or what?

If I'm writing an historical novel, I either visit the location or look at photos on the Internet or in a book to give me a sense of how it appeared. If I can get a clear vision of the surroundings, it helps me to paint a picture using words.

Sometimes I draw a simple sketch of the interior of a home to help me remember where the staircase is located, which bedroom belongs to whom, etc. These little tricks keep me focused.

A few people have been kind enough to tell me that they felt like they were there when reading A Stranger on My Land, my book set on Lookout Mountain during the Civil War. What a compliment!

Sandra, Thank you so much for sharing your writing journey with us today. I know my readers will find this helpful as they shape their own writing  careers.

A Stranger on My Land by Sandra Merville Hart

Back Cover

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?

Her book is available on Amazon. Click  HERE to order your copy today!

Leave your comments for Sandra below and be sure to check out her book.

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