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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Hang Your Heart on Christmas: An Interview with Heather Blanton

How did you come up with the idea of your Christmas themed book? Originally, Hang Your Heart on Christmas wasn't a Christmas story. As it unfolded, though, and my tortured hero found his way to God, of course, the perfect opportunity to celebrate a fresh start was Christ's birth. It all worked out nicely. 

Could you give me a short synopsis of the story for my readers? 
As punishment for a botched arrest, U.S. Marshal "Dent" Hernandez is temporarily remanded to the quiet little town of Evergreen, Wyoming. Not only does his hometown hold some bad memories, but he is champing at the bit to go after vicious killers, not waste his time scolding candy thieves. And he most certainly should not be escorting the very pretty, but jittery, schoolteacher around. What is she so afraid of? Turns out, a lot of folks are keeping secrets in Evergreen.

What made you decide to do a Christmas themed book? 
When I looked at the calendar and understood where the story was going, I realized the timing of the release would be perfect for a Christmas story. It was amazing, really. All the pieces fell into to place.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? 

The day after Thanksgiving my boys, my husband, and I drive from the Raleigh area up to Beech Mtn. to cut our own, fresh, live Christmas tree. I love walking around in the cool air, sniffing the pine scent in the air, gazing up at the mountains. The whole excursion feeds my soul.


I'm working on two collections with other authors that are currently still top secret, but they have something to do with strong female characters and lockets. LOL! Oh, and I'm hoping to finally write book 2 in my Love and War in Johnson County. Book 1, Grace be a Lady, didn't sell all that well to be honest, but I LOVE the story. My hero Thad is a good, unshakable man who will be faced with some serious dilemmas that will make him grow from boy to man. 

Any special awards or achievements you’d like to mention? 
I don't enter contests--well, I entered one for a script I wrote once--but one of the greatest compliments I ever got came from Mark Richard, Executive Producer, AMC'S Hell on Wheels, and Pen/Ernest Hemingway Award Winner. He said of my writing, "Heather Blanton is blessed with a natural storytelling ability, an "old soul" wisdom, and wide expansive heart. Her characters are vividly drawn, and in the western settings where life can be hard, over quickly, and seemingly without meaning, she reveals Larger Hands holding everyone and everything together." Makes my mouth fall open every time I read that!

What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been given that you’d like to share? 
A best-selling author told me once, "Attack the senses, and you will drag your readers by the hair into your story. Draw blood; fill their nostrils with smoke."  Write vividly, in other words. I also read a quote once from James Scott Bell, I believe,  that went something like, "Don't worry about the sentence. Worry about the story." That was pretty freeing. Otherwise, you can wordsmith yourself to death.

What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner? 
Learn to write really well, then break the rules. Break 'em before that and everyone will think you're an amateur. Not that I've ever been called that or anything (rolls eyes). 

Any last words or tips? 
Write. Every day. Write when you feel like it, but especially when you don't feel like it. Write even if what you're writing sucks. You can always go back and fix it, but write. Make it as crucial a part of your day as praying and breathing. 

That's all for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Heather's books, here are some links to get you started.
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