Congratulations to the winner of last week’s Author Spotlight giveaway of Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin,  CHARLETTE BOND. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome A.H. Gabhart, author of Murder Comes by Mail, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy.

Gabhart_AnnIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug?

I was bitten by the writing bug so long ago that I think that bug might have been there with me in my cradle. But I was ten when I grabbed a pen and a wire bound notebook and started my first novel, a Hardy Boys mystery clone starring a farm girl amateur sleuth–me. While that long ago mystery is still stuck up on a shelf, unfinished, I never again put down my writing pen. Actually, not long after that I broke my piggybank and bought a used portable typewriter from one of my sister’s friends. She was a little surprised to get part of the twenty-five dollar price in nickels, dimes and pennies. But I was a happy girl since I just knew you had to have a typewriter to be a real writer. I was on my way!

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m asked this question about writing style all the time, and I never know how to answer it. I like to think of myself as a storyteller and so whatever style the story needs, that’s the style I hope I have. I do like to believe my stories are easy to read with characters who spring to life and talk on the pages. But maybe you need to ask my readers to find out if that’s true.

Tell us about your new release:

Murder Comes by Mail is my second Hidden Springs mystery. It’s classified as a cozy. That has to be true since a cat is on the cover, right? But this story is a bit more suspenseful than my first Hidden Springs mystery, Murder at the Courthouse. Readers will still be cheering on the same small town characters. Deputy Sheriff Michael Keane keeps doing his best to make sure all the people in his small town are safe, but the challenge gets ratcheted up when grim pictures of murder victims start showing up in the mail. With the killer one step ahead, things in Hidden Springs begin to unravel and Michael must race to protect the people he loves because the killer may be targeting one of them next.

How can readers connect with you online?

My website, annhgabhart.com, is a great place to find out more about my books and about me. While you’re there, check out my blog, One Writer’s Journal. I post a couple of times a week and have frequent giveaway games I try to make fun for readers. You can also see the Heart of Hollyhill blog where my young character, Jocie, does occasional reports about what’s going on in Hollyhill.

I enjoy “talking” with all of you on my Facebook page, where you can see regular features such as “Shaker Wednesday,” “Friday smiles” and the simple, but popular “Sunday morning coming down.” I also post random photos of things I spot on my walks out here on the farm. My dog, Oscar, has a way of sneaking into some of the posts too. You can also connect with me on Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

I just finished the first round of edits on Hidden Springs mystery 3, Murder is No Accident, scheduled for release in 2017. Michael Keane will be returning to solve yet another case and to see if romance is in the air for him.

If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?

If I wasn’t a writer, I would probably be retired and enjoying the good life playing with my grandkids and reading in the sun. At least that’s how I imagine retirement, but I’m not quite ready to store away my keyboard yet. I want to write one more story and after that, another one. I don’t think writers ever retire. They just ride off into the sunset. Or maybe that’s only if they write Westerns. But I do still squeeze in some of those good times with the grandkids. It’s more of a struggle to find as much time as I’d like to read. I’m guessing that’s something that has many of you saying “Me too.” So many great books out there to read. So little time.

What book have you reread the most?

Other than the Bible, I have to confess that I haven’t reread any books. I do sometimes reread bits of history books when I’m researching to help me get a better insight on the events of the era. Sometimes I reread a devotional that touches my heart. But there are so many books I want to read that I pick up something new when I have time to read. However, I am always encouraged in my writing journey when one of my readers tells me she has reread one of my books. I think, wow, that’s really neat. Then I hunt up something new to read myself. LOL. Well, I do suppose I have reread all of my books many times in the editing process, but those rereads don’t count for this question.

Right this moment, what does your office look like?

I am so glad you asked! After I finished my recent novel and sent it off to my editor, I made myself finally keep that promise to clean my office before I started a new story. That was not a fun week since I had put off cleaning out and sorting through for way too long. I carried out sacks of papers for the recycler. I found plenty of dust and even located a lost phone under some shelves. I won’t claim to have sorted through everything. I still have some overstuffed bookshelves that need work, but my desk is dusted and shiny. I’m hoping that my neater writing place will last a while as I pull up some new characters for the next book.

When my website was redesigned last year, the designer sent me a questionnaire to figure out what style might best represent me. He pulled this line out of one of my answers. My favorite room is one full of windows. I am blessed to have an office with windows where I can see the birds at my birdfeeder, the deer in the hayfield, the cows drifting by below the fence and the grass getting too tall. But sometimes I don’t notice what’s outside my windows here but see through windows into my imaginary worlds as I write.

What book is on the top of your TBR pile?

I used to only read one book at a time, but lately I have several books going. One on my iPad. That’s a research book right now, but I have several waiting for me there. Another book handy in another place. I have two of those books right now, The Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz and Reckless by Tom Clavin. And in my stuffed bookshelves, the book that’s drawing my eye is Love’s Fortune by Laura Frantz. I read the other two in that series and I’m anxious to find out what’s next with her fictional family.

How do you solve a grammar dilemma?

Sometimes I try to look up whatever is puzzling me, but most of the time, I simply listen to my writer’s ear to judge what sounds right. Then, if an editor down the line tells me my ear was off writing pitch, I try to learn from the mistake and fix it.

What’s your favorite writing snack?

Sometimes I mix dried cranberries, nuts, and some crunchy cereal. Other times I crunch on mini-shredded wheat. I tell myself carrots and celery crunch too, but somehow they don’t crunch the right way. Of course, potato chips crunch the best!

What are your biggest distractions?9780800727055

I started to say grandkids, but they’re not a distraction. They are each and every one a blessing I simply make time for. I suppose the ding on my phone that lets me know I’ve got a new message can be distracting. Facebook can be distracting simply because it’s easier to scroll around there than to dig a story out of my head. My husband, who is retired, popping in to ask something is distracting. Oscar, my dog, pushing his nose up under my arm to let me know it’s time to take a walk can be distracting. But in spite of all that, I still sometimes get some writing done.

What do you like best about country living?

The scenery. The green fields and cows on the hillsides. Snow in the winter. Flaming trees in the fall. The wildflowers and creeks. The birds. The spring peepers. The bullfrog down at the pond. A hawk soaring overhead. I like having a place to take my daily walk where I don’t have to worry about traffic. I like the way growing up on a farm taught me how to work and where food comes from. I like living on a farm now because I’m country through and through.

Who’s your favorite character you’ve written so far? Explain:

I think that’s a difficult question to answer. It’s sort of like answering which is your favorite child or grandchild. You can have different favorites on different days with those grandkids. That’s sometimes the one you’re with at that moment. The same is true with characters. The favorite one needs to be the one you’re writing about right now. However, there are characters and there are characters. Some crawl up in your heart and stay. That is Kate and Lorena in the Rosey Corner books. Or Jocie and Wes in the Hollyhill books. Other characters are just so unique and fun to get in their skin even if they aren’t major characters. Hannah, the little sister with the wild white curly hair in my book, The Believer, is one of those. Also, Fern in the Rosey Corner books was a reclusive character who grew on me throughout those three stories and ended up having a bigger part than I had imagined at the beginning. So, no, I don’t have a favorite. I have lots of favorites.

What was the first piece of writing for which you were paid?

I didn’t exactly get paid, but I did win something. In the sixth grade, I was a member of the 4-H Club where you signed up for projects such as cooking, sewing, electricity, all sorts of things. They even had a project for raising chickens and since I was a farm girl and since my mother got those baby chicks in a box with holes all around it every year anyway and I liked feeding those little cheepers, I signed up for the chicken project. It might have had a fancier name, but if so, I don’t remember what it was. Our 4-H agent then encouraged me to enter this essay contest about why I wanted one hundred baby chicks. And I won! You can guess the prize. Right. One hundred baby chicks! That first reward for my written words long ago proved hey, this writing might amount to something. But I have to confess, I’m glad I don’t get paid in chickens for my writing these days.

My great adventure has been…

I’ve never done anything amazing. I haven’t come up with any inventions that took the world by storm. Not even the hula hoop. But I used to be pretty good at keeping that hula hoop invention whirling. I’ve not been president of anything since 4-H Club in the eighth grade. I’ve not won any trophies or ribbons in the sports world. I haven’t had to use a machete to trek through the jungle or sailed across the ocean by myself. But I’ve still had some adventures just in living. I’ve borne three children, been blessed with nine grandchildren, stayed married to the same man for an amazing number of years. I’ve hiked miles up mountains and down cliffs and on beaches where the waves lapped my feet. I’ve chased cows and been bruised by a few out here on the farm. I’ve had a long procession of dog buddies. I’ve taught Sunday school and Bible School at a little country church. I’ve written thirty books to share with readers. Yes indeed, life is a great adventure.

Describe yourself in one word:


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A. H. Gabhart is Ann H. Gabhart, bestselling author of many novels, including Angel Sister, Small Town Girl, and Love Comes Home, several popular Shaker novels such as The Outsider, The Believer, and The Innocent, and The Heart of Hollyhill series. Ann grew up in a small rural town in Kentucky much like Hidden Springs, but Ann is happy to report nobody was ever murdered on her hometown’s courthouse steps. Ann and her husband still live on a farm near that same little town in Kentucky. Learn more at www.annhgabhart.com.

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