A Heartbeat Away
When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Beth Bumgartner a wounded Confederate soldier named Joe, it is the catalyst that pushes her to defy her pacifist parents and become a nurse during the Battle of Antietam. Her mother's mysterious goodbye gift is filled with quilt blocks that bring comfort to Beth during the hard days and lonely nights, but as she sews each block, she realizes there is a hidden message of faith within the pattern that encourages and sustains her. Beth learns Joe's secret and together they put the quilt's message to its greatest test—but can betrayal be forgiven?
- ISBN: 1426752709
- Publisher: Abingdon Press
Interview with S. Dionne Moore
By Vannetta Chapman - May 6, 2013
Your upcoming release is a part of the Quilts of Love series. How have quilts played a part in your life and in your writing?
Both my husband’s grandmother and my own left us quilts to treasure. They are ragged around the edges, but the colors, the intricacy with which the stitches were made, not to mention the time and effort, all create a true gift of love. My grandmother did a lot of additional needlework too, and my mother has many, many stacks of pillowcases and sheets, towels and dish towels, edged with the delicate work. There is no greater gift than the gift of time and love.
Writing parallels quilting in that it is taking pieces of situations and personality and weaving them together into a cohesive story that shows a bigger picture. It’s also very much a labor of time and love.
Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
History means a great deal to me. I just read an article the other day about a teacher who wrote a letter of apology to colleges accepting 2013 high school graduates. As the writer penned, the graduates of 2013 lacked a firm foundation in social studies because of the demands placed on teachers to spend so much time on prepping for the state testing in Math, English and Science. How sad that Social Studies was not included.
We can learn so much from history. So much from the mistakes of others, but an opportunity is deprived us if we are not allowed to study these periods of time and reminded of the sacrifices and tough choices our ancestors were forced to make.
By writing historical romance, I like to think I leave a small legacy of history behind me. Just as I always adored reading historical romance and learning something in the process, I hope that my readers also will learn something about the past that will grow and challenge them.
What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Deadlines are the toughest to deal with. Since I have other responsibilities that take priority, I do my best to use my time wisely. On most days I pound out 2500 words and, some days, within 2 or 3 hours. I always try to work ahead of deadline to leave myself plenty of space for any emergencies that require my attention and time.
What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
I received a beautiful letter from a woman who was foreman of a ranch. Because of the remoteness of her home, she did not often get to town and enjoyed many quiet evenings with books. I sent her a bunch of my titles to keep her entertained and occupied, but it was the effort and time she took to write to me that created such a great warmth in my heart. I keep her card on my desk where it is a constant reminder that someone cared enough to take time to share their heart with me.
Who/What motivates you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I am motivated to write because it relieves stress. Just as a reader escapes to a book, I escape to my fictional world to craft and research and escape. I enjoy so much the process of researching a setting or plotting out the secrets and character arcs of the hero and heroine. Yes, this is my idea of fun!
My stories often arise from little-known facts. Case in point, Special Order 191 was the basis for writing A Heartbeat Away. I was intrigued by the conspiracy theories and thick conjecture about Robert E. Lee’s “lost” order. Though this fact is a subplot, it was what turned me on to the idea of crafting a story during the Battle of Antietam.
Some of the characters in A Heartbeat Away are taken directly from the citizens of Sharpsburg during the battle. Teresa’s stubbornness in displaying the Union flag across the main street of Sharpsburg is a documented fact. Mumma farm, as mentioned in the story, was indeed the only home burned to the ground during the battle. Though most of the characters are fictional, there was a Piper Farm that was taken over by Longstreet before the bloody battle, and the Piper family, too, were genuine.
Any parting words?
If you’ve ever been to Sharpsburg, Maryland, you will see that the town itself is little changed from what it was during the bloodiest single day of battle. It is a quaint town, full of history and Civil War era buildings--one of the most commercially untouched battle grounds of the Civil War. I highly recommend visiting the little town if you are in the area. And do yourself a favor and stop in at Burkholder’s Bakery while you’re there. Their donuts are the best!
Thanks for sharing with us!.
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