Civil War Novel Turns 1!

I am thrilled that my third Civil War romance, A Musket in My Hands, has its first anniversary this month!

The novel is 2019 Serious Writer Medal Fiction Winner and a 2019 Selah Awards Finalist.

Two sisters have no choices left. Callie and Louisa disguise themselves as men to join the men they love and muster into the Confederate army. It’s the fall of 1864 and the situation worsens for Southerners as they march closer to the Battle of Franklin, Tennessee.

This month is also the 155th anniversary of the tragic Tennessee battle that claimed so many lives. The Battle of Franklin was fought on November 30, 1864. The fierce fighting was over within hours but left thousands dead and wounded. Six Southern generals were killed, including General Patrick Cleburne, and others wounded–losses the South could not recover from.

The sisters in our story find themselves in the thick of this battle. No one can emerge from such an event unchanged.

I’d love to know what you think of the story!


When the Morning Glory Blooms by Cynthia Ruchti

A page turner!

Something unusual binds three women of different generations together. They are not related yet Anna, whose story begins in the 1890s, and her mission in life trickles down to touch the life of a young woman in 2013.

Anna, a single woman in the 1890s, has a mission. An inheritance will help her, yet she is a woman alone. How can she make a difference in anyone’s life?

In the 1950s, Ivy anxiously waits for her boyfriend to return from war. Bad news from the fighting in Korea adds to her anxiety as she looks down at her expanding middle. Will he understand and support her when he returns? Will he marry her and raise their child together?

In 2013, Becky’s whole world has turned upside down. Her high school daughter, Lauren, won’t even tell them the name of her baby’s father. Becky quits her job to care for her grandchild so Lauren can finish high school. This isn’t the life she dreamed of for her daughter.

I loved this multi-layered story! The struggles faced by each woman tugged at my heart. There are many twists and turns I didn’t see coming. I couldn’t put the book down!

This isn’t the first novel I’ve read by this author. I will look for more. Recommend!

-Sandra Merville Hart

Primer Pecan Pie

Today’s post has been written by friend and fellow author, Cathy Krafve.  I shared my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe  with her last week so I asked her to share her mother’s pecan recipe with us.😊 Welcome to Historical Nibbles, Cathy!

Dear Sandra and all her reading friends! What a treat to share one of my favorite recipes with you. It makes me so happy to remember about all the ways my mom blessed our family. Thank you for inviting me to share!

Greetings from Texas

I spent many happy hours under pecan trees in my youth, helping my grandmother pick up pecans. As kids we laughed and frolicked like baby squirrels, hoarding the prize of nuts for winter. For my grandmother it was a win-win. She made the family budget go further and she kept three busy grandchildren occupied for a little while!

Of course, Texas’s state tree is the pecan tree and we grow tons of pecans here. Recipes using pecan are a staple in most homes.

Mom’s Primer Pecan Pie

1 Pillsbury Pie Crust

3 eggs, mixed together with a fork in a separate small bowl

1 cup white Karo syrup, mix with eggs

2 Tablespoons flour

¾ cup refined sugar

2 teaspoons melted butter, cooled slightly

dash of salt

1 cup whole pecans

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons cinnamon and sugar mix

Preheat oven to 350. Place uncooked piecrust in pie pan. In a large bowl, mix flour and sugar. Add eggs and syrup and stir again. Add butter and salt to mix. Stir in pecans until well coated. Pour into the uncooked piecrust. Bake 30 minutes, then sprinkle cinnamon-sugar on top of the pie. Bake 15-30 more minutes until golden brown and the center rises slightly.

To double (or triple or quadruple), I just set out several bowls and make pie filling in each bowl.  Great recipe to share with neighbors!

My dad always requested Mom’s Pecan Pie instead of a birthday cake. In the last few years, my sister innovated with the genius idea of using glazed pecans, adding another generation’s love to this family-tested holiday favorite! We send our best wishes and prayers for your holidays to be filled with family fellowship, laughter, and happy memories!

-Cathy Krafve

More about Cathy

 Queen of Fun and Coffee Cup Philosopher Cathy Krafve just announced collaborations to publish TWO books in 2020!

How do we create healthy conversations when it really counts? Look for The Well: Drawing Our Authentic Conversations, publisher Elk Lake Publishing, for release in the spring 2020. Need to ramp up communication in your marriage (is that even possible)? The Gentle Art Of Companionship: Communicating Your Way to a Delightful Marriage, CrossRiver Media, is due out in early fall 2020.

Cathy puts a snappy spin on deeply spiritual truths. Her family, affectionately known as Camp Krafve, is devoted to transmitting healthy, joy-affirming ideas. Today, through Fireside Talk Radio, they bring together wise people to share stories of courage, hope, and companionship.

Having learned most stuff the hard way, Cathy writes with a never-met-a-stranger attitude. Like a friend you met for coffee, she passes along practical strategies for creating tender fellowship and a big, beautiful view of communication. Truth with a Texas twang!

 To find Sandra Merville Hart’s interview, blog, and podcast with Cathy for Fireside talk Radio, click here.


Readers and Authors Invited to FFBF Book Festival!

If you are a reader or writer within a comfortable driving distance of Columbus, Ohio, this free event is for you!

The featured author and speaker at the third annual Faith & Fellowship Book Festival is Bestselling author DiAnn Mills. She writes romantic suspense and historical suspense novels that draw readers immediately into the story.

Join the Facebook group event to find out the latest updates: 2019 Faith & Fellowship Book Festival.

There will be about a dozen other authors at the book festival available to sign books including me, Sandra Merville Hart. I will have my historical romances there–A Stranger on My LandA Rebel in My HouseA Musket in My Hands, From the Lake to the River, and  The Cowboys Smitten Collection–as well as a brand new Christmas collection, Christmas Fiction Off the Beaten Path!

We will have free writing workshops this year! DiAnn Mills and Donna Wyland will teach workshops for adults. JPC Allen will teach about writing short stories for tweens and teens, so we have something for everyone!

There will be author panels so you can learn more about the authors and their specific genres. Poetry Corners Readings is a new and welcome addition this year. There will also be children’s activities and door prizes!

Here are the details:

December 7th from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm

500 Pike Street, Etna, Ohio 43018

The Book Loft is handling sales.

These events are a lot of fun. Please mark your calendars now. I’d love to see you there!

Mary Slessor by Terri B. Kelly

Wow! What an inspiring story.

Mary Slessor: Missionary Mother is a biography of a Scottish missionary (1848 – 1915) whose heart’s desire was to serve God and the people of Africa.

Putting her mission work first, she never married. She endured hardships and danger to bring the message of God’s love to African tribes. She adopted many children to save them from the terrible practice of killing infant twins.

She became friends with tribal chiefs and opened schools and churches. Yet she always wanted to move further inland to the tribes who’d never heard about God. Praying, she pressed on even when her friends feared for her life.

What a courageous woman. Her life and fierce faith changed many lives.

This biography is written for children 9 – 12. I’d say that middle-school aged boys and girls will be encouraged by this story. The author does not embellish the many harsh tribal practices—including cannibalism—yet they are part of the story so I’d recommend for possibly later elementary grades to middle-school.

I also recommend it for adults. Though written in language children can understand, I found this biography a page turner. The author’s research amazed me! It took me to the African tribes, where I lived through the danger with Mary.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart

Molly Tipton’s Roasted Veggies


I asked my friend and fellow author, Rebecca Waters, to share her yummy recipe for roasted veggies. She made it for a recent writers’ meeting—unfortunately, the whole dish was gobbled up at another potluck she attended the previous evening! To make up for it, she agreed to share the recipe with all of us in time for Thanksgiving. Thanks, Rebecca, and welcome back to Historical Nibbles!  


1  small butternut squash, peeled and cubed

1 small acorn squash, peeled and cubed

1  sweet potato, peeled and cubed

3  Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed

1  red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1  red onion, quartered and separated

¼ C.  olive oil

2 T balsamic vinegar

1 T   chopped fresh thyme

2 T   chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and Pepper


Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Place chopped thyme and rosemary in a jar. Add olive oil and cover.

Prepare veggies as directed and place in a large bowl.

Add vinegar to jar of oil and herbs. Mix and pour over veggies while stirring to coat vegetables.

Pour veggies into a large roasting pan.

Lightly salt and pepper.

Roast at 475 for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Veggies should be tender and lightly browned. Enjoy!

Molly Tipton is the fictional wife, mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother to two. Molly lives in Rebecca Waters’ book Breathing on Her Own. Molly loves to cook and care for her family but her life is turned upside down one February night.

-Rebecca Waters

Here’s the blurb:

An icy road and a sharp turn leave one woman dead, another clinging to life.

Molly Tipton looks forward to a peaceful retirement, but her life suddenly spirals out of control when her oldest daughter is involved in a terrible accident.

While two families grieve, details emerge that shake Molly to her core. As she prepares her daughter for what lies ahead, Molly discovers her oldest child is not the only one injured and forced to deal with past mistakes.

Rebecca Waters identifies with Molly. After raising three daughters, Waters and her husband, Tom, retired to Florida where she began her writing career. Breathing on Her Own is Rebecca’s first novel. Libby’s Cuppa Joe, her second novel, released in March 2019.  Rebecca has published several stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as three books for writers: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You 101, and Writing with E’s. To learn more about Rebecca or to read her weekly blog, visit

Want your own copy of Breathing On Her Own?

Take a trip to beautiful Door County, Wisconsin in Libby’s Cuppa Joe.





Dedication of National Cemetery Where Lincoln Gives Gettysburg Address

National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Rain and clouds that mark the Pennsylvania skies on the early morning of November 19, 1863, soon clear to give an exhilarating nip in the air in and around Gettysburg. After a lively evening in the crowded streets last night, folks are still entering town for the important occasion of dedicating the new national cemetery.

President Abraham Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward take a carriage ride to the Lutheran Seminary grounds where fierce fighting took place on July 1, 1863, the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg.

They return in time to change for the dedication ceremony. Before 10 am, Lincoln emerges from David Wills’ home where he spent the night. He is dressed in black, wears a black frock coat, and carries white gauntlets. Sad. Serious. A wide mourning band adorns his stovepipe hat in memory of his son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever on February 20, 1862.

People press around him, shaking his hand even after he mounts his horse. They cheer for him. The marshals motion the crowd back.

The Marine Band begins the procession followed by a squadron of cavalry, two artillery batteries, and an infantry regiment. President Lincoln rides with several generals, nine governors, Cabinet members, and three foreign ministers among others.

Edward Everett, the main speaker, tours the battlefield and does not participate in the procession.

A 12’ x 20’ platform has been built for the occasion. Honored guests take their place on the three rows of ten chairs each. There are other chairs scattered on the platform and chairs at a table in back for reporters.

A tent stands at the east end of the platform—at Everett’s request and for his use. He emerges from this tent. David Wills, organizer of the event, and New York Governor Seymour escort him to his seat beside Lincoln in the middle of the front row.

Bright sun shines down on the spectators arranged in a semi-circle by the marshals. Many, like Lincoln, wear mourning.

The pleasing array of flags, banners, and costumes of those in attendance do not mask the signs of the recent battle, where the fields are still littered with broken muskets, canteens, and bits of gray or blue uniforms.

The Marshal-in-Chief Ward H. Lamon is not on the platform to begin the ceremony so his assistant, Benjamin B. French, signals the Birgfield’s Band. They play “Homage d’un Heroes,” a funeral dirge.

Lamon nods to Rev. Thomas H. Stockton to pray. The emotional prayer of the chaplain of the House of Representatives brings tears to many eyes, including Everett and Lincoln.

Next, Lamon calls on the Marine Band. They play Martin Luther’s hymn “Old Hundred.”

Lamon then introduces Edward Everett as the speaker of the day.

Everett speaks for about two hours. The President listens with kind, thoughtful attention. Lincoln rises and shakes Everett hand while some in the crowd applaud at the end.

The Maryland Musical Association sings “Consecration Hymn” that was written by Benjamin B. French for the dedication.

Lamon introduces the President of the United States.

National Cemetery, Gettysburg

Lincoln steps forward. He extracts a paper from his pocket. He puts on his spectacles.  The crowd is silent as they look up him.

The President gazes at the solemn mourners … at soldiers who will never forget the battle or their comrades. Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

“Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Gettysburg Address at the Soldiers National Cemetery

“But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

The crowd gives President Lincoln three cheers and then another three cheers for the Governors.

Birgfield’s Band accompanies a chorus of Gettysburg men and women.

Lamon nods to Rev. Henry L. Baugher, who leads those gathered to close the ceremony with a benediction.

Lincoln participates in the procession that leads back to David Wills’ home, where he eats dinner and then receives guests. He attends a service at the Presbyterian Church and then boards a train. It is time to return to Washington D.C.

Back at the cemetery, some mourners remain until darkness falls.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Carmichael, Orton H. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, The Abingdon Press, 1917.

Gramm, Kent. November: Lincoln’s Elegy at Gettysburg, Indiana University Press, 2001.

Klement, Frank L. The Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery and Lincoln’s Address, White Main Publishing Company, Inc., 1993.


For Sale: Wedding Dress. Never Used. by Michelle L. Levigne

Not your typical romance novel …

Eve is just beginning her sophomore year at a Christian college in a small town. Brainwashed by her family to believe no man will ever love her, Andy’s interest takes her by surprise.

Their awkward relationship leads to an engagement. He plans a career in the ministry … so does she. It seems like a great match. She buys a wedding dress for the small ceremony they’ve planned.

And then things go sour.

This book about first relationships—and the ones that follow—is told with a sense of humor. The author did a great job creating realistic characters because some of them I loved and others I loved to hate.

Twists and turns that I never saw coming kept my interest. I loved the surprise ending.

I will look for more books by this author.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Frozen Chocolate Mousse Recipe

I’ve been watching a lot of cooking shows recently that left me craving chocolate. Flipping through The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, I found a recipe for frozen chocolate mousse that is easy and delicious .

Pour 1 cup of cold milk in a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle 1 envelope of gelatin over the milk and let it stand for 5 minutes. This allows the gelatin to soften.

Stir this mixture. Then add 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate and ¾ cup sugar and stir. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until chocolate is melted and the mixture is blended.

Pour into a bowl and chill until lukewarm.

While that chills a few minutes, whip 2 cups of heavy cream until it forms soft peaks.

Remove the chocolate mixture from the fridge and then gently fold the whipped cream into it. Pour the chocolate mousse into a mold and freeze.

An alternative: I wanted to use part of my mousse as a layer in a cake so I lined a cake pan with parchment paper and poured some inside. This was frozen until ready to put on the cake. (A yummy choice!)

The rest I placed in individual serving ramekins.

Delicious! Smooth and creamy and chocolatey. Everyone who tried this devoured it. This chocolate mousse is a hit!

-Sandra Merville Hart


Revised by Cunningham, Marion and Laber, Jeri. The Fannie Farmer Cookbook, Alfred A Knopf Inc., 1983.



The Day Before President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Excitement fills the overcrowded streets of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, November 18, 1863. It’s been a long time since residents had something to celebrate. President Abraham Lincoln and other distinguished guests will soon arrive for tomorrow’s dedication ceremony of the national cemetery.  Preparations  have taken weeks. Thousands come by train and in carriages, buggies, farm carts, and Pennsylvania wagons. Some ride horseback into town. Others walk.

At noon, a special train leaves Washington D.C. on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. President Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, Secretary of the Interior John P. Usher, Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, two foreign ministers, Lincoln’s private secretary and assistant secretary, army officers, Marine Band members, and newspaper correspondents are passengers.

An unusually quiet Lincoln sits in the last car. Sadness marks his face. Perhaps he reflects on the tragic loss of so many soldiers who died at the battle, a loss that reminds him of losing his precious Willie, his third son, a year earlier.

Gettysburg attorney David Wills, Ward H. Lamon (marshal of the event,) and Edward Everett (the dedication’s main speaker) are among those who meet the President’s train at dusk. They and the First Regiment of the Invalid Corps escort him to the Wills’ home where he will spend the night.

The Fifth New York Artillery Band plays and the crowd serenades Lincoln while he eats supper. They request a speech.

Lincoln appears at the front entrance of the home. He bows for the exuberant crowd yet refuses to give a speech. “I have no speech to make.”

The crowd laughs.

“In my position it is somewhat important that I should not say any foolish thing.”

“If you can help it,” someone yells.

“It very often happens,” Lincoln smiles, “that the only way to help it is to say nothing at all.”

The crowd laughs and the President soon goes back inside.

Inns and homes are full. Many visitors remain on the streets late into the night for they have no place to go. They shout and cheer and sing while bands take turns playing patriotic songs and hymns.

Inside, President Lincoln pulls out his speech for tomorrow’s dedication. A few lines are all they’ve asked of him. He must make those “few appropriate remarks” count.

-Sandra Merville Hart


Carmichael, Orton H. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, The Abingdon Press, 1917.

Gramm, Kent. November: Lincoln’s Elegy at Gettysburg, Indiana University Press, 2001.

Klement, Frank L. The Gettysburg Soldiers’ Cemetery and Lincoln’s Address, White Main Publishing Company, Inc., 1993.