Get a Free Ebook

Five Inspirational Truths for Authors

Try our Video Classes

Downloadable in-depth learning, with pdf slides

Find out more about My Book Therapy

We want to help you up your writing game. If you are stuck, or just want a boost, please check us out!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Research ~ the Fun Way

S. Dionne Moore resides in South Central Pennsylvania with her family. She is a weekly contributor to The Borrowed Book blog where she offers tips on the writing life, posts recipes, and teaches on various writing-related subjects. She has a passion for history and obscure fact that can be spun into a story and also enjoys gardening, piano and wants everyone to know that if you get to Sharpsburg, MD, you MUST stop at Burkholder's Bakery and try the best chocolate covered, cream filled donuts on the face of the earth. No exaggeration. You're welcome.

One of the reasons I write historical romance is that I love conducting the research. For my May 2013 release, A Heartbeat Away, I traveled to Sharpsburg, Maryland, the setting for the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg, for you southerners).

Sharpsburg is a very small town, unscathed by commercial development, a true gem of history frozen in time by the town's refusal to allow commercialism to mar what they have worked so hard to preserve.

I was taken on a private tour by Bob Murphy of RCM History Tours (RCM Twitter). His prices are very reasonable and he accommodated my desire to walk some of the tour. I stayed at the snug and very clean Mary Hill House.

Now for the pics...

Outside of the church. This is the church Gerta Bumgartner would have attended if not for the battle raging on the top of South Mountain that Sunday.

The inside of the famous Dunker Church

Piper Farm was the model for the house neighboring Gerta’s fictional home. This farm became the headquarters for Confederates Longstreet and Hill during the battle.

Mumma Farm was the only farm burned up during the battle. The springhouse didn't burn and was my inspiration for Gerta’s spring house where the reader first encounters the injured Joe.

Roulette Farm--in my story, the Roulette's are escaping to the caves along the Potomac. 
Caves that are real, I might add.

Bloody Lane, called Hog Trough Lane before the battle

Burnside Bridge from the Confederate side. 
With only 300-400 soldiers holding off over 2K because they held the higher ground.

Antietam National Cemetery

Grove House, Lee's Headquarters in Sharpsburg during Confederate occupation

Do you see the shell stuck in the side of this house? 
Every house in Sharpsburg was used to shelter the wounded. 

McClellan's command was centered at Pry House. Not open for tour at the time of my trip. :(

Uh, this wasn't part of the tour, but was part of the recovery. 
Nutter's Ice-Cream. 4 scoops for $2.95. I was sold!

Have you visited a Civil War battlefield or historic site? If you could visit one historic site anywhere in the world, where would it be? Please join the conversation below in the comment section.

A Heartbeat Away

When a band of runaway slaves brings Union-loyal Elizabeth "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 good-bye 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.

Reunited with Joe, Beth learns his secret and puts the quilt's message to its greatest test--but can betrayal be forgiven?

Sandra D. Moore is a transplanted city girl and glad of it! She enjoys ferreting out little-known historical details and crafting a story around them. Her new releases include Promise Brides (3-in-1 historical romances set in PA) of which two stories are ACFW Carol Award Finalists. In May 2013, A Heartbeat Away, Book 7 in Abingdon Press’s Quilts of Love series, releases. Murder on the Ol’ Bunions released from Smashwords as an ebook in March 2012 followed by Polly Dent Loses Grip and for the first time ever, Your Goose is Cooked, the third and final book in the LaTisha Barnhart Mystery series. To learn more about Sandra and her cozy mysteries and historical romances, visit her website here, Twitter or Pinterest


  1. Australia! Because I've always wanted to study the history of the penal colonies and the gold rush! Of course, the Great Barrier Reef is a big draw too. . . !!!

  2. Sandra, I live near the Civil War Battlefields in Yorktown, Virginia, and I have a novella set in Charles City where historic Shirley Plantation was used as a field hospital. If I could visit any historic place (and I didn't have to fly to get there etc etc lol) I'd like to go to the tower of London where my ancestor Thomas Wyatt saw his last days. If I were his daughter I guess I'd be willing to come to this scary colonies after having that happen to my father!

    1. Hi Carrie,
      I enjoyed talking to you at Ridgecrest last week!


  3. I would tour the South stopping at plantations and battlefields. Total Civil War nerd here! :) This looks like a great read. Thank you to Carrie Pagels for cluing me in!

  4. I love Civil War history, which I'm sure is obvs! My favorite thing is to find some little known fact or event and build a story around it. Like Special Order 191. . . Anyone know about that. No fair if you have to Google it first!

  5. I may need to move over to historical! I miss that sweet smile.

  6. Love these pictures, Sandra. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Oh...and as for historic sites...we were privileged to visit Normandy on the anniversary of V.E. Day several years ago. We walked Omaha and Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and toured the American cemetery. I would love, love, love to go back and really spend the day researching.

  8. You're writing about my hometown. Wish I'd known of your visit, I would have invited you in for tea. You may want to consider coming back in the fall of your release date to sell signed copies on Main Street during our Heritage Festival.

  9. I've been researching a convent in Guatemala where 26 nuns lived cloistered until an earthquake destroyed it. I've seen that. Now I'd love to find the sending convent in Spain!

  10. If I could visit every Indian reservation in the United States and talk with the elders, I would. Our country has a fascinating history, and I would love to learn about it from a different prospective. The history lessons taught when I went to school were pretty much one-sided.


Don't be shy. Share what's on your mind.