Monday, March 6, 2017

Alabama Writers Conclave Interview

1. Your favorite novel.
It’s hard to nail down a favorite, but beginning in my childhood, I was drawn to true-life stories, historical in nature, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, a girl who survived in the tough times, when America was a young and developing nation.
Today, I continue to be drawn to the same historical genre, and in my library, Lincoln’s Mother (the backstory, or the making of President Abraham Lincoln), by Dorothy Clarke Wilson, and Driving Woman (a tale of one 19th Century woman who took on the tobacco industry), by Elizabeth Pickett Chevalier. Those titles stand apart, as some of my favorites.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
An avid reader, I spent my latter years of career writing nonfiction (technical writer, newspaper journalist). In time, writing a novel worthy of honoring a life, lived well, became my challenge. I suppose people are my truest inspiration, those long-forgotten lives inspire me to bring them back again. I have enjoyed my journey into the past, while writing Trapped in the Crossfire, a Civil War era novel, inspired by my grandparents twice removed (October 15, 2017 launch). Those 19th Century true live characters had determination, fortitude, moral courage, and they continue to inspire me every day.
3. Do you have (or have you ever had) a muse? If so, who/what?
None whatsoever, but I do have encouraging and supportive people in my life, one being a dear cousin who I call, “the wind beneath my wings”.
4. Your favorite poem.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), wrote “The Barefoot Boy” and others depicting 19th Century life. The words conjure visions from my childhood, my mother quoting this from her memory:
“Blessings on thee, little man,
Barefoot boy, with cheeks of tan!
With thy turned-up pantaloons,
And thy merry whistled tunes;
With thy red lip, redder still
Kissed by the strawberries on the hill…”
5. Your favorite Alabama plant.
I love our stately longleaf pines, juicy ripe blackberries in the summer, native ferns and mossy rocks in the winter, redbud and dogwood trees in the spring, red maple and yellow hickory leaves in the fall. Pick one.
6. Five words which describe you.
Tenacious, organized, dedicated, authentic, honest.
7. One way in which AWC changed/impacted your life.
I first joined AWC several years ago, and received a Novel Award. One of the instructors was especially encouraging of my writing ability. Today, I encourage other writers on their journey.
8. What are you working on right now?
My novel, Trapped in the Crossfire, (Ardent Writer Press, October 2017), to be sold on,  portrays the true life trials of Sarah Hammett and Oliver Perry Williams, Union Loyalists who were driven from their South Carolina home by the portents of war, only to be caught between battling armies in the North Alabama wilderness.
9. Your favorite place in Alabama and why.
The mountains around Mentone often beckon. Alabama has astounding natural beauty, especially her northeastern mountains.
10. One thing you need right now to help you as a writer.
I’ve received tremendous respect and support from the Alabama writer community, and will continue to give back, supporting others in development of their writing talent.

To learn more about Gladys Hodge Sherrer, visit or search for her on Facebook; after October 2017, go to to purchase her novel Trapped in the Crossfire.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Inspired to Write an Historical Work?

Hinds Drugstore, Arab, Alabama

If you have a passion for reading books by the boatload set in a bygone era, spending your vacations in historical museums and peering into basements of dusty old buildings; if your thoughts wrap around that long-ago time so often that you find yourself actually dreaming you’re riding in a carriage, or speaking archaic words in phrases like ‘come hither’; if your favorite movies are scenes taken from those past eras, truthfully played out with characters properly dressed for the period; if your favorite conversations are with historians and archivists and curators with like passion for the past, then just maybe you’re ready to write an historical novel. 
First though, let me differentiate between nonfiction historical accounts— historical narratives and memoirs—and fictionalized history. If you wish to give your characters life and breath and bones, making them come alive to readers and evoking their emotions, you need to write fictionalized history known as a novel. 

Having your characters speak in conversations is termed fiction. Who knows how they reacted or what was said in 1857? It matters not that you use the actual names of real people, and bring out facts swept under a rug for centuries. Characters having conversations in your book classifies the work as fiction. Now that you have made a decision to write a novel, you are free to create supporting characters, making them as colorful and memorable as possible.
Even while you’re writing historical fiction, keep the work as near to truth as possible, including events which are current to the place and time. While readers relish in a well-written story, they will also learn. Consider writing in first person present tense. This places the reader into the scene, brings a sense of immediacy.

If you truly have a passion for history, and are inspired by a well-known person from the past or ancestor to write their story, you will find a large community of like persons, encouraging support in online forums and discussion groups.  Maybe I’ll meet you along the way to your publication? Enjoy the journey. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Today, Trapped in the Crossfire is still a mere manuscript. Outside my Alabama home, rain and fog fill the atmosphere, softening sharp edges of brick houses and bare branches into a watercolor scene. I've always been inspired to retreat on rainy days, to the comfort of my home. Today, I will retreat again... but into the past, look into the faces and lives of people who lived in a difficult time, when a war ensued, and transportation forty miles distant and across a river to apply for Homestead land meant danger, hardship and took time. There is much to be learned by peeking into the past, and pondering the "rock from whence we were hewn", and giving honor to forefathers. A fine task for a writer on a rainy day.   

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Author Discovers Guntersville's Passion for History

The brick courthouse in Guntersville, which was destroyed by Union attacks on the unarmed city.

Monday, January 23, 2017, the City of Guntersville, Alabama opened their arms to this author, thanks to a gracious and socially-connected historian Larry Smith. At the Marshall County Archives, we were joined by another historian, Keith Finley. Then, Anthony Campbell, the editor of Guntersville Advertiser-Gleam, dropped in for photos, and with plans to showcase my visit in a feature article. Next, to the Guntersville Historical Museum which was host of a meet-and-greet for regional historians, museum curators and docents. After lunching at the Courthouse among a few of Larry’s friends— the “movers, shakers, and decision makers” of Marshall County, including at least one judge— he opened the Gilbreath House Museum. They actually have an non-detonated Parrot shell from one of the Union attacks of the City during the Civil War, this one likely in 1862 and a scene found in Trapped in the Crossfire. I departed the City with three invitations for future speaking engagements with book signings, and opportunity for more. Guntersville clearly has a passion for history. I felt right at home there.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Signing Publishing Contract with Ardent Writer Press

It's official! The contract signing was a celebration held at Weeden House Museum, a fitting locale for this historical novel set in mid 19th Century, a saga which portrays the trials of the true life couple Sarah Hammett and Oliver Perry Williams, Union Loyalists who were driven from their South Carolina home by portents of war, only to become caught in the crossfire of battling armies in the North Alabama wilderness. Attending the signing were Alabama State House of Representative Phil Williams, Representative Mike Ball, Publisher Steve Gierhart, Editor Doyle Duke and others. The projected launch date of Trapped in the Crossfire is October 15, 2017. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Press Release for My Publishing Contract

Weeden House ca.1819, site of Union Occupation by Officers during Civil War

Headline: Alabama Author Gladys Sherrer Signs Contract with The Ardent Writer Press for Civil War Saga:  
Subhead: October 2017 Book Launch
Dateline: Huntsville, AL, January 17, 2017
On Tuesday, October 17, a book contract for Author Gladys Hodge Sherrer's Civil War saga, Trapped in the Crossfire, was signed with the Ardent Writer Press at the historic Weeden House in the Twickenham District of Huntsville, Alabama.
Sherrer's novel is historical fiction at its best, portraying the trials of Sarah Hammett and Oliver Perry Williams—a true life couple who migrated from Spartanburg, South Carolina in the mid 1800’s. Trapped in the Crossfire tells of this Union loyalist family, driven from their home and loved ones by portents of armed conflict, only to become caught between battling armies and the passions of war in the north Alabama wilderness. Interestingly, numerous descendants of Sarah and Oliver live in North Alabama today.
A century and a half ago, the average Southerner was caught between loyalties to his region and those to their country. By comparison, today's world would be strange, and not just for our technology but for our diversity in culture and ethnicity. Nonetheless, a case can be made that the courage required then to face the changes coming to antebellum America were in some ways like the courage and strength of character that America faces today. How did the values of those long ago Southerners withstand and adapt to the horrors of war? How do those values parallel or stand apart from those today? That is for the reader to decide, but Trapped in the Crossfire will undoubtedly arouse your emotions as the trials of war demand. However, in tweaking our fears it will also tweak our confidence, as it shows that strength of character can help us survive though chaos reigns about us.
Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, said, “You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it,” the beckoning chorus for the reader of this moving Civil War saga, intertwined and made real in the author's enthusiasm for historical accuracy and down-to-earth characters. Trapped in the Crossfire plumbs the depths of the human heart during America’s most chilling era, combining drama and passion with the historical facts gleaned by the author during her eight years research in war diaries, battlegrounds, museums, archives and interviews with historians in four Southern states.

Gladys Sherrer wrote for the local newspapers, The Shelby County Reporter and The Birmingham News, as well as for regional journals. A graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, she is a literary award recipient, receiving notoriety from Southern Christian Writer Conference, National League of American Pen Women, and Alabama Writers Conclave. She is a member of the literary association, Alabama Writers Forum, and blogs regularly on her website, Follow her on Facebook and stay alert for the October launch of the enjoyable and thrilling ride that is Trapped in the Crossfire: A Civil War Saga

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wait for it! Big Announcement Coming Next Week!

19th Century Huntsville Courthouse

This morning I reflect upon the literary journey I've taken over the last eight years: the research trips to South Carolina, digging in  archives, walking the grounds of the old plantation, meeting distant relatives of my book's main characters. I traveled alone, my first time going to Upstate South Carolina, followed the migration route and imagined how it might have looked, woodsy and wild, in 1858 when perched in a covered wagon. What dangers did they encounter? My research took me to battlegrounds in Georgia and Tennessee, where I met interesting historians and learned more than I want to know about the horror of war. I placed myself "in their skin" and walked the path of a soldier, a wife and child left to fend for themselves. A bittersweet journey of a lifetime.

  The above photo is only a hint of a BIG announcement coming next week.