An Authoress Among Us: Abigail J. Hartman

25 June 2012



Though you may not believe it by her skills as a writer, this month's featured authoress is around my age. She has published her first book, a historical fiction novel called The Soldier's Cross, with Ambassador-Emerald Intl., and has designs on publishing other books of hers when the time approaches. In her free time, she blogs at Scribbles and Ink Stains. Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Miss Abigail J. Hartman!

Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for a delightful surprise! :)


1. Welcome, dear friend and fellow authoress! Please be so kind as to share a little about yourself:

Thank you for inviting me!  Well, let’s see, what to say?  I am, of course, a writer, alternately scribbling historical fiction and fantasy.  I am also a reader and have a particular love for the classics.  (I once took a reader quiz and was told I’m a book snob, which, after the initial irritation had worn off, I had to agree with.)  

In other news…  I am the youngest of three, have a completely awesome family (no bias!), love cats and Jane Austen and letters in the mailbox, and consider Twinings the only real black tea in existence.  Over everything else, I’m a Christian and hope most of all that this quote from Henry Scougal’s The Life of God in the Soul of Man might characterize my life: 

"They know by experience that true religion is a union of the soul with God, a real participation of the Divine nature, the very image of God drawn upon the soul, or, in the apostle's phrase, 'it is Christ formed within us.'"
2. At what age did you discover your love for writing?

I began writing when I was about ten, but I don’t think that was when I first started to love writing.  That came later.  At first I simply wrote because I thought the idea was enchanting; my sister (Jennifer Freitag of The Penslayer) was always writing, and so it seemed like a good idea.  I would say that it was only when I was eleven or twelve that I really fell in love with the art in its own right.

3. What is your favorite writing medium (journaling, novel-writing, short story, poetry, etc.)?

Novels, hands down.  I have written short stories for contests, but I’ve never loved them or been satisfied with them the way I love and am satisfied by my novels.  As for poetry, I fail abysmally.  We will not even speak of that.

4. Good books can be so inspiring when it comes to learning how to best write certain scenes. Is there any particular writer whom you most admire? What works of his/hers do you like the best?

I love so many books; perhaps that’s why I have never found it easy to choose favorites.  The writer who most inspires me and whom I most admire would still be my sister.  I’ve mentioned that before and people have said, “Oh, how sweet!” but I don’t say it out of sentiment; I say it because I might never have begun writing if it had not been for her, and because I am always impressed and inspired by the stories she creates.  Each one is better than the previous, which makes it very hard to say which is best!

There are many other authors for whose books I feel particular affection.  To be very typical, Jane Austen is perhaps at the tip-top of the list; I love her works Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, but consider Emma the best in terms of craft.  C.S. Lewis, especially his Space Trilogy; Dickens, when I’m in the mood for something with a great dose of gloom; James Fenimore Cooper, who wrenched my heart out with The Last of the Mohicans; and, a recent development, R. L. Stevenson, especially Kidnapped.  Hurrah for books, says I!

5. What do you do when that fearsome epidemic masquerading as writer's block threatens to call on you? 

I would like to point out, right here and right now and with an eye to my work-in-progress, that it is completely unfair for writer’s block to come when one is two chapters from the end of a novel.  As for how I deal with it, I generally begin my moping; progress to trying to combat it; and, if it still will not relent, give up and go do something else entirely.  Sometimes all that is needed is space and time to rest.  Agonizing over the difficulties only makes the block heavier.

6. What do you consider the best time of day for writing? Please explain your answer.

Mornings.  When I wake up, get ready for the day, and then immediately sit down to write, I feel most productive and inspired to forge ahead.  

7. Do you outline your books or do you prefer to begin writing and let the plot sort itself out?

I like things planned and neatly arranged, so I tend to outline.  My outlines, however, take different forms depending on the book; sometimes it’s only chapter titles to give me a general idea of what comes next.  I tried an extensive and detailed outline for my first novel, but scrapped it before I had written through the first page.  

8. Of all the characters you've invented, who is your favorite and why?

This is a hard question; I always think that my current cast will be my favorite forever and ever, but then I finish and begin a new story, and I fall in love with them.  I am very fond of Ethan Hound from my fantasy novel Wordcrafter; he is a very dynamic character and I was rarely at a loss to know what he would say or do in a situation.  However, right now I am torn between two characters of my work-in-progress, The White Sail’s Shaking: Tip Brighton and Charlie Bent.  Someone remarked that they are two sides of a bad penny, and that characterization fits them well.

9. What are your opinions on romance in books? Do you see these standards acted out in the literature sold today?

I’ve actually done several blog posts on literary romance.  To sum them up, I am very fond of romance in any story so long as it is organic and, of course, clean.  I’m not one for the modern romance novel, even “Christian” ones, as they seem to me often rather low on plot and high on sugariness; on the other hand, I’ve never seen a reason why Christians shouldn’t incorporate romance.  I believe that love is a powerful force, and if it is treated as such, then I say bravo to that author.

10. What are some of the writing projects on which you are currently working?

I tend not to multitask on major projects, so I am (most boringly) at work on only one novel: The White Sail’s Shaking.  It is soon to be my third completed novel and my second historical fiction, my previous one having been fantasy.  The time period is the first years of the 19th Century, during the United States’ first war with Tripoli, and it focuses on a midshipman who started out seeking glory and ended up entangled in a murder instead.  Bringing the killer to justice—or justice to the killer—will cost him everything he set out to gain, and he is forced to decide which is more important to him: glory or honor.

11. As a Christian, is your faith a central theme in all of your books? Why or why not?

I’ll answer this question a little differently than the way it is posed, but hopefully according to your intent.  The Gospel as it is commonly defined—that is, the preaching of man’s depravity and the need for trust in Christ’s sufficiency—is not always a central theme in my novels, though it is the driving force of my published novel The Soldier’s Cross.  It is my desire that my stories would go farther and deeper than that, taking up the theme of how we ought to live as new beings in Christ.  In that light, yes, my faith is a central theme in all my books.

12. Could you be persuaded to share an excerpt (or three) from some of your works?

Of course!  I will try to keep them short, though. 

T H E  S O L D I E R ' S  C R O S S :
“God has arranged strange ways for some of us to find him.”

W O R D C R A F T E R :
The sky was cloudless and two large moons were already high in it, so that the garden was turned a faded grey and speckled by darker hollows.  It was quiet except for the hum of the breeze running through the slats in the fence, and Justin sighed in relief as the door creaked shut at his back and he was separated from the warmth and turmoil within.  But as he skirted the overgrown vines and bushes and drooping, frosty flowers to the rough hewn bench, his eye was caught by a motion on his right and he stiffened.

“Hallo,” said a female voice.  She sat on the white fence post with her hands clasped between her knees, balancing precariously as she kicked her heels against the wood.  She had no head-covering, so her hair, amber in the moonlight, was tousled and chaotic—part of her charm, Justin thought wryly.  He moved nearer and she regarded him serenely.

“You’re getting bolder,” he remarked.

T H E  W H I T E  S A I L ' S  S H A K I N G :
“But the sea is a lover, isn’t it?” she added, turning toward Charlie again; the maternal expression had ebbed, Tip found.  “A seaman loves nothing so much as it.”
Tip did not know what Charlie was thinking behind the coldly white mask he wore, but his own mind went instinctively to Darkwood, Darkwood on the September morning before they boarded the Argus, Darkwood looking like a starving poet in the firelight.  “A good man can love in many different areas,” he said sharply, “and love well.”  

13. Have you published any of your writing before? If not, do you plan on doing so in the future?

My debut novel, The Soldier’s Cross, was published by Ambassador-Emerald Intl. in 2010 and is available in Barnes & Noble, on Amazon, through Christian bookstores, and all those book-selling places.  (Also as an e-book; the Kindle edition is on sale for $0.99 throughout June.)  It was also translated into Dutch and released under the title Kruis van Vrede.  At least I suppose it was; I can’t read it myself, but I presume it’s my book.  And I am actively seeking to have my other novels published as well.

14. And finally, do you have any wisdom for young authors that you would care to share?

In her interview here on Living on Literary Lane, Jenny summed up most of my feelings on this score, particularly the need for all authors to read.  One simply cannot grow unless one is willing to imbibe the Greats of literature and learn from them.  It is simply arrogance to think we can tread the writer’s path alone!

My other, two-fold piece of advice for writers would be this: never aim for low goals or settle for low expectations, but remember also to seek and apply wisdom as you work toward that objective.  Ambition is not an evil quality; it is what drives men and women to excel.  At the same time, rashness ought not be confused with that ambition.  So, to the best of our ability, we must aim high—and be reasonable in the process.

Thank you again for hosting me, Elizabeth Rose!  This stop at your corner of the blogosphere was most enjoyable.

Thank you, Abigail, for taking a moment to answer the questions for me. It has been a pleasure having you over for tea and scones at Literary Lane.

Published: The Soldier's CrossAbigail has kindly agreed to a giveaway for a copy of her book, The Soldier's Cross. Care to win this excellent piece of historical fiction? Leave your email address in a comment below. The giveaway closes on July 1st at 11:59 P.M.

16 epistles:

  1. Loved reading this interview! How exciting to have a book published!! Congratulations, Abigail!! :)
    Kiri Liz (silverkeyofpoetry[at]gmail[dot]com)

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  2. Squeeee! My email is annegirlauthoress@gmail.com.

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  4. This was such a delight to read-- and I completely agree with your opinion about romance in books, Abigail! I was hoping maybe you'd host a giveaway for The Soldier's Cross-- my e-mail is missdashwood95[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  5. Ahh, her writing is lovely! I believe you know my email, sis, so I'll leave it at that. :)

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  6. Excuse me, I forgot to introduce myself. Most apologies, Elizabeth! I am Emily, and I come from over yonder; A Thousand Words, to be exact. Feel free to drop by if you wish! :)

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  7. I'd love to win a copy! :) theinkpenauthoress@gmail.com

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  8. What a lovely interview! I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has read Lewis' space trilogy. :) My email is: melodyauthoress AT gmail DOT com.

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  9. This is intriguing! I as well would like to enter for a copy of the Soldier's Cross. This is my email: wingsofwind139@yahoo.com

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  10. I found this interview delightful. :) My email is inkonherfingers28 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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  11. This has been a lovely interview! I'd so agree with the answers to the romance and faith questions. The snippets were imaginative and plain lovely! Thanks, Elizabeth, for hosting this interview,and Abigail, for the lovely answers.

    P.S. I own a copy of The Soldier's Cross so I'll leave the chance of getting the book for someone who doesn't have it yet.

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  12. This sounds like a fascinating book! Great interview! GodsPianist20[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  13. A wonderful interview! :D

    (*whispers* Yay, potential for free awesome stuff!) My email is mboomc[at]gmail[dot]com.

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  14. Lovely interview! And what a good giveaway! :D I'll leave my email in a different comment. :)

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  15. Enter me! eclairemoore[at]gmail[dot]com

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  16. I'd love to be entered!! If it's ok, I'll leave my email address in a following comment.

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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