Tuesday, July 4, 2017

General Sherman Sacks Columbia, South Carolina, 1865

We're on schedule for an October 15, 2017 Book Launch (reading, Q&A, sale & signing) at Snead State Community College in Boaz, Alabama, 2:00-4:00 PM! My reviewers received Advanced Copies of Trapped in the Crossfire, and their reviews are coming in. Below is my favorite:  
"The value crafted into Trapped in the Crossfire exists in the overlay of characters Sherrer has achieved, a veritable biography of a family, civilians, and Civil War Confederate soldiers. An entire war washed over them like a repulsive, bloody, persistent tsunami, over homes, towns, villages, through yards, swings, schools, barns and churches… and lives. Sherrer speaks, unapologetically, of these lives. Library of Congress gives of photographs of Richmond in ruins, Charleston and Atlanta where crazed, empty windows look onto shambles. There are no photographs of the debris which razed joy left behind. It takes a writer, not a photographer, to document emotions. Beyond the plot— a family surviving— is what in blazes happened in the South, to the people a war roared over.

"With Trapped in the Crossfire, Sherrer brings us more than a book about the Civil War or battles, far more than the usual fluff on belles and cavaliers. It’s an unexpectedly dense, multi-layered, complex novel with three main characters: a family, an entire war, the South at war. Inextricably interwoven therein is one hero, the family. The war, as are all wars, is the villain. This is a much avoided topic, civilian hardship in the South as a result of war, a mystifyingly untouchable topic. Trapped in the Crossfire reveals a South not frequently seen, and a family moves through this stage.

 "Trapped in the Crossfire is a valuable book. Beautifully researched, in places as detailed as a photograph, fascinating in parts with carefully culled, historically accurate events, Sherrer does not overload the reader nor distract from the story with irrelevancies. The value of the book is where sheer volume of historical content overlays the stories— laid down like colorful tiles in America’s history— a narrative not frequently heard. That much of the story follows a genuine family through well-known events makes it less an historical novel, and more an enthralling drama."

 — Civil War Talk Forum Host, Colonel Annie Lane, Halifax, Pennsylvania

Thursday, June 8, 2017

How do you choose a book? After the front cover entices me to pick it up, I immediately flip the volume over to read the back. Who is this author, and what does the publisher have to say about the story? Next, I will read a few lines in the first chapter, and I'm either hooked or lay the book down.

This is the first time Trapped in the Crossfire's back cover has been made public, except for the reviewers who received galley proofs. Click on this image to enlarge, and read the words of Steve Gierhart of Ardent Writer Press, my publisher's comments. Therein, he captured the essence of my novel. As one of my reviewers stated, the "meat" of the saga is the untold Southern Civil War story.

Trapped in the Crossfire, by Gladys Hodge Sherrer, coming in October 2017 to Amazon. Wait for it!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Publicize, Promote like a Marathon Runner

The Galley Proof Copy

The plot stirs hearts, the scenes take away readers' breath, its characters are bone real. Now, the years of work is warming your hand, in the form of a galley proof. What does a writer do?

While a dozen handpicked reviewers get first dibs and jabs, it's time for this writer to bend, stretch and flex, get mentally (and physically) ready for the coming book promotional marathon.

Methodically and steadily, daily I learn new ways to soon get this awesome new treasure out to its readers, though not like a runner jumping out of the gate, only to fag out before the finish line. In truth, there is no finish line for authors. Our heart tells us to move into writing the next great story. I have in mind a Revolutionary War saga based on true life events, a prequel to Trapped in the Crossfire, but first this Civil War baby must be launched with all of the style worthy of years of research and writing.

Stay tuned, dear readers, while I continue my daily search for Trapped in the Crossfire's perfect promotional path... coming in October 2017 to Amazon.

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 Amazon.com,  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 www.JourneytoPublishing.blogspot.com or search for her on Facebook; after October 2017, go to Amazon.com 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.