Bitter Honey by SHARON MIERKE

by | May 19, 2023 | Author | 0 comments

Thank you for inviting me to submit an article to Authors Lounge. I was not acquainted with or Authors Lounge so was pleasantly surprised when I did my research. An intriguing website and a wonderful resource for both authors and readers. Again, thank you.

My name is Sharon Mierke and I write, not only historical fiction, but also cozy mysteries. I began my writing career like many new authors – taking a writing course and writing short stories. I had several short stories published, but found it difficult being restricted to so few words so knew I had to branch out into writing novels. I had started writing a story named Sarah’s Valley years before when my children were still at home so I decided to finish it and try to find a publisher. At that time, we had to send out query letters and then wait to hear from the publisher. I’m afraid I wasn’t too patient.

One publisher showed interest but asked if I would send an outline of every chapter. This I did, with great anticipation, only to be sent a rejection letter weeks later.  At this time, a friend of mine told me that I should be using a computer because everyone was doing that now! Hmm …

I spent many hours putting Sarah’s Valley on the computer. In fact, I was so tired of it that I left it there and never looked at it again. Instead, I started writing cozy mysteries and was able to find a publisher. When we decided to invest in a new computer, there I was, staring at Sarah’s Valley. I told my husband that I was going to delete it. He said he wanted to read it first. He read it, loved it, and decided to publish it himself on Amazon. That was over ten years ago and Sarah’s Valley has been number one is several categories over the years.

 It soon became a family affair! My son, Justin, has created the covers for all of my historical fiction books and my daughter, Natasha, has not only created covers for my mysteries, but has also used her photographic skills to design ads for my books.Because I now write for the sheer joy of writing, I always keep my Kindle books at 99 cents. This should open the way for many who might not be able to afford the higher priced books.

My latest novel, Bitter Honey, falls into the historical fiction category. This is a story within a story. The setting is in the 1930s during the Great Depression when the Midwest was known as the Dust Bowl of America. Many were not able to survive as the rivers dried up and the crops turned to dust. One hundred-and three-year old, Henrietta Blakey, who in 1849 along with her husband, homesteaded the land, tells her granddaughter the struggles her family went through as they traveled by wagon train from Tennessee to Nebraska. Henrietta was a young teenager when her family and several neighbors decided to form a wagon train and move west.

This is a story of adventure, hardships, tragedies, heartache and love. It is believed that as many as 300,000 pioneers lost their lives as they made this journey – most to find a better life, but some simply for adventure. Although Bitter Honey is not a true story, one can imagine that many of the incidents did happen in real life.

I thoroughly enjoyed writing Bitter Honey. It is the first book that, with only the names written down on a piece of paper, I just sat down and wrote. My main character, Henrietta, was named after my grandmother. In fact, it is her picture on the back cover of the book. Because I had a real person in mind, it was as if I were going on an adventure with my grandmother when she was a young girl.

I tried to imagine the situations the travelers would find themselves in – rivers flooding in the spring, grassfires sweeping across the plains, struggles between members of the wagon train, disease spreading from family to family and the heartache of losing loved ones. Also, the endurance, patience and commonsense that was needed to survive. And, of course, a sweet love story. Because the person telling the story was elderly and raised in more proper times, she does not use profanity or describe graphic violence. It is a book that can be read by young and old. I believe those who enjoy relaxing with an uncomplicated story will find the book interesting. As you imagine the hardships those first pioneers suffered, you will be thankful for the luxuries we have today.


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