Good week to you all! I had the privilege to attend a Zoom meeting with our guest author of the week where she spoke on fizzing up dialogue. She's has a knack with local vernacular and lays claim to being a shy country girl, but with so many books under her belt, all I know is that she is doing something right! Let's give a warm Diamond Mine welcome to Ann H. Gabhart!
PT: Hi, Ann! So excited to have you. With such a long line of books, my first questions is how did you first link up to writing?
AHG: When I was around ten years old, I was a big Hardy Boy mystery fan. Loved reading about those cute boys solving mysteries and thought how very neat it would be to solve a mystery myself. I never really wanted to be a Hardy Boy. More a Hardy Girl. You’d think I would have liked the idea of Nancy Drew better, but for some reason the Hardy Boys books were my favorite. So, since I was a country girl living on a farm without much chance to ever be confronted with kidnappers or jewel thieves in real life (thank goodness), I found an wirebound notebook and began writing my own mystery story about both jewel thieves and kidnappers starring me (a much cuter, smarter and less shy me.) My sister and my cousin were my sidekicks as we chased the bad guys. And so my writing life began. I did eventually outgrow chasing jewel thieves and left poor us trapped in a cave. I think I couldn’t figure out what next.
I became something of a closet writer in my teens, not telling anyone of my dream to one day write stories others read. It seemed too big a dream for a country girl like me. I did keep filling up notebook after notebook with my stories that I then hid away in my desk drawer. I married young but my dream of becoming a published writer stayed as strong as ever. After taking a correspondence course in writing which opened doors into the publishing word and writing three novels, the last of those was published in 1978 by Warner Books. A Forbidden Yearning was a historical romance about the settling of Kentucky. More books followed along with some rejection bumps along the road, but I kept writing until now An Appalachian Summer is my thirty-sixth published book. Sometimes a little girl’s dream can come true if she’s persistent enough.
PT: can so identify with you. I too, used to secretly fill notebook pages and dream of publishing. Tell the readers which genre you write in and which is your favorite?
AHG: I’ve written a lot of different type books. My first two books, published so long ago, were historical romances in the mainstream market. Then I published eleven contemporary books for middle readers and young adults with several different publishers. But once I found the inspirational market, I found home and love it here.
But even here, I’ve dipped into several different genres. Most of my books have been historical fiction with some elements of romance. That includes eight books about the Shakers where I had to sneak romance in the backdoor since Shakers believe in celibacy. Then I’ve written three cozy mysteries, the Hidden Springs Mysteries. That was fun because as you might guess with my Hardy Boy mystery love as a kid, I do like mysteries. I especially enjoyed writing my two series, Heart of Hollyhill and the Rosey Corner stories, about families living in small communities. I’ve found historical events in Kentucky history to center some stories around. A couple of my books feature Frontier Nursing Service history and are set in the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
So I have been all over in genres. I’ve even written one nonfiction book, Angels at the Crossroads, the amazing life testimony of a friend of mine. Plus I’ve written a picture book, as yet unpublished, and have considered writing a devotional. My only published book not set in a small town or community is Words Spoken True that’s set in 1855 Louisville.
If I had to name my genre it might be Small Town Stories. Even my fictional Shaker village, Harmony Hill, is sort of a small town. I do like finding interesting historical backgrounds or events to drop my characters down into to see what might happen next.
PT: I love books centered around small towns. It gives a sense of comfort and familiarity. So, we're all dying to know, exactly how many books have you written?
AHG: This is a question I am asked often. The answer is I have no idea because I have written a number of books that never made it off my rejection shelf. As I said earlier, I’ve published thirty-five books and I have one in the process of being published. So I’m sure I’ve written well over forty were I to count up those that didn’t find a loving editor along with those thirty-six that did.
PT: With a lot of folks staying close to home, I can't help but wonder what your favorite vacation spots might be. And, of course, your favorite spot to write.
AHG: I love hiking in the mountains and I love walking on the beach. Both places fuel my creative side and replenish my soul.
I do all my writing at my desk in my office. I use a desktop computer. I do have a laptop that I use occasionally for various things, but rarely for my writing. I have an office with four big windows. I can look out one of the double windows at the bird feeder in the tree and out the other windows at one of our farm’s hayfields. I’ve always, always wanted a window in my writing space. On my website, I claim that my favorite room is one with windows. That’s my favorite writing room too.
PT: Does your writing space sport inspirational signs or encouraging quotes near your writing spot?
AHG: I used to keep a few quotes on my desk calendar, but the months and years sped by so fast I got tired of writing them over and over again. Now, that’s lazy, isn’t it?
This is one I remember. “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.” ~E.E. Cummings
Another one was a quote attributed to Michelangelo.
“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”
PT: On to your newest book. Is An Appalachian Summer part of a series (along with These Healing Hills) or totally separate?
AHG:An Appalachian Summer isn’t exactly part of a series, but it is the second book I’ve written with an Appalachian setting and a background of Frontier Nursing history. The other is These Healing Hills. I enjoyed researching the Frontier Nursing Service history and finding out more about Mary Breckinridge and how she had a vision of helping mothers and children and made that vision reality.
PT: I know from our meeting that you have some wonderful picture-painting slang tucked away. What are some of your favorite Appalachian sayings?
AHG: There are so many. The mountain people had unique ways of expressing themselves. I love “the edge of dark” which means twilight time. I liked how they said “kilt” to mean someone was hurt and “kilt dead” if the poor person was dead. I liked “shank’s mare” which meant they had to walk because they didn’t have a horse, I suppose. If they needed to leave early in the morning, they got a “soon start.” Then they grew “sass” (vegetables) in their “sass patches” and flowers in their “blossom patches.” A fun book to read if you like hearing the mountain speak is James Still’s Wolfpen Notebook. I bought it years ago from Mr. Still at a book fair here in Kentucky and reaped the benefits when I began researching for my Appalachian stories.
PT: Do you have a favorite Bible verse now?
AHG: I’ve always struggled to come up with a favorite Bible verse. So many can and should be favorites. I like to come up with a Bible verse that somehow matches each of my inspirational titles to share with my signature at book signings. I put Isaiah 55:12 when I sign An Appalachian Summer. I chose that verse because of how Piper’s eyes are opened to the beauty of the mountains and found a closer relationship to the Lord through nature.
“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:12 (NKJ)
But if I was picking a favorite today, I might choose Joshua 1:9.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NKJ)
That is a good promise to cling to in this year of struggles with the pandemic.
PT: Well, given your lengthy book shelf, I know you aren't standing still, lol. So, what are your plans for the next book?
AHG: My next book, Along a Storied Trail, scheduled right now for June 2021, is another story set in the Appalachian Mountains. Once more my time period is during the Great Depression as it was for An Appalachian Summer, but this story doesn’t have Frontier Nursing Service history. Instead, I share the unique history of the packhorse libraries. That was one of the work programs established to put people to work during the Depression. My heroine, Tansy Calhoun, is a packhorse librarian with a tremendous love of books and feels blessed to share the gift of reading with her mountain neighbors who have never had the joy and privilege of a library. It’s also a story of a couple of mountain families.
PT: That book sounds so interesting! Oh, Ann, it has been a privilege to have you on the Diamond Mine.
AHG: Thank you so much for inviting me over for a chat about writing and my books.
ANN H. GABHART has been called a storyteller. She’s lived up to the title with thirty-six books published and more stories on the way. Ann likes wrapping her stories around interesting historical times and events in her home state of Kentucky. She’s written about the Shakers in The Refuge, The Outsider and more, gone to the Appalachian Mountains for These Healing Hills and An Appalachian Summer, mined her family history for stories like Angel Sister and Scent of Lilacs, found a feel good story during the 1833 cholera epidemic in Springfield, Kentucky, and more. She’s even written some mysteries, the Hidden Springs mysteries, published under the author name A.H. Gabhart. Ann keeps her keyboard warm out on her farm where she likes walking with her two dogs or discovering the wonders of nature with her nine grandchildren. You can find out more about Ann and her books at www.annhgabhart.com.
Contact Information and Social Media links:
Website – www.annhgabhart.com
Facebook Author Page – www.facebook.com/anngabhart
Twitter - https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/annhgabhart/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/annhgabhart/
BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ann-h-gabhart
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