Books, Publishing, Uncategorized, Writer's Life, Writing, Writing Tips

Publishing Paths: An Interview With Author A.M. Heath


The road to publication looks different depending on who’s walking it. I’ve been pleased to interview a number of authors who have been kind enough to visit this site and share their unique publishing experiences: Vanessa Rasanen, Dan Alatorre, Jean Lee and Lydia Eberhardt. All of them shared different perspectives and different lessons they learned along the way.

Today, I’m very pleased to welcome author A.M. Heath, who has graciously agreed to come and take us on a little tour of her personal writing journey!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Anita Heath but I publish under A.M. Heath. I’m a mother of four and AMHeathwife of one. 😉

I actively serve in my church, and I’ve been “seriously” writing since 2012. I’ve published 5 novels and 1 novella so far, and am working on several more.

While I’m still learning and growing, especially in the marketing field, I love writing stories that honor my Lord and will edify the reader. And I’m looking forward to sharing a little more of my personal journey.

I’m looking forward to hearing about it!

So. What drives your writing? Do you have a particular place where you find inspiration?

Inspiration? That’s a loaded question. Having a creative mindset, ideas just come to me sometimes seemingly out of nowhere.

I write both historical and contemporary fiction, although historical is my first love. This may sound strange, but I think it’s the atmosphere and/or clothing that first pulls at me. That was certainly the case with my love for the Civil War. I’ve been smitten with the big bell-gowns since I was a child. The fashion of the era was something that pulled me in until I was in love with the era.

But as an author, I recognize the complex environment surrounding the Civil War. With any war fiction, you find an abundance of story possibilities. There is so much at stake and it’s an emotionally high season. You can tell stories from either side of the argument, enemies fall in love, traitors, spies, etc. War fiction, in particular, is so rich and often studied in depth so an author wouldn’t have to go far to find inspiration for their stories.

Yes, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had in those turbulent times!

Another love of mine are those “vintage” American years: 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. I was quickly drawn to the 1950s. It carries that iconic American image: greasers, soda shops, rock in roll music, drive-ins, etc. It appears to be such a fun, carefree time in American history. Of course, we know there were some harsh realities as well, but I’ve had a lot of fun researching and writing for the 1950s.

1940s and WWII bring another host of elements. And the fashion! Sigh. So beautifully feminine.

But when I think 1930s, I think of an era that was more rustic and simplistic. And being a Tennessean, this can be such a natural setting for me.

These are all fantastic settings for storytelling- have you used all of them?

I’ve published books on the Civil War, 1885, 1954, 1985, and contemporary. And I have some works coming up that are set in the 1950s, 40s, and 30s.

I just love history, so as I’m indulging in that love, I brush up against experiences and can’t help delving into it and telling my version.

Do you have any particular tips for those of us who share your love for writing historical fiction?

Here’s my research tip: Go to the source as much as you possibly can. With the Civil War, there are countless published journals and letters out there. I’ve read and collected so many of these. They offer their personal account, so it’s important not to judge them for mindsets we don’t agree with, but to sit and listen and learn what people of their day thought and felt. They’re not to teach us how to live today, but rather how they lived during that day.

As for the more modern eras from the 30s up to now, I reach for film. We often create replicas of those eras (Happy Days, Brother Where Art Thou, That 70’s Show, etc.) but the details can be flawed. Instead, I like to seek out shows and movies that were filmed during the desired decade. This is the best way to pick up on the speech patterns, style, and common lifestyle of the day. They couldn’t add in what wasn’t already created, unlike trying to recreate it decades later when we often slip in a little slang that wasn’t really present during the time. I actually keep journals where I collect phrases for different periods in history. I’ve found that there are a lot of phrases that we think are modern that actually are not at all which is easily proven by films shot and set during those years.

Oh, that’s a great tip!

Once you decided to publish, what type of publishing path did you choose?

I chose to self-publish. For me, self-publishing wasn’t a second choice or a backup plan. When I weighed my options and the pros and cons of each, there were some deciding factors that carried more weight for me. I’ve always said that I would never say never to traditional publishing, but I’m convinced this is the Lord’s will for me during this season.

What have been some pros of your publishing path?

For me, one of the biggest pros for self-publishing is having complete control. I am allowed to write the stories that I want to write without having someone encouraging changes in my writing that I’m uncomfortable with. I don’t have to worry about selling my story to a publisher who may not be interested. And, most importantly, I have complete control of my deadlines. When other commitments demand my attention and I’m forced set my writing on the back burner for a season, I don’t have someone else’s deadline hanging over my head. This has allowed me to put my family first and better maintain the balance in my life. Not that I do it perfectly.

The freedom of control is certainly a compelling pro! Have you encountered any challenges you’ve had to overcome as a self-published author?

YES! The biggest challenge is marketing. While most publishers leave a large portion of the marketing to their authors, there’s still a measure of credibility and outreach that goes along with having a publisher behind your book.
Thankfully there are experienced self-published authors who are more than willing to share their tips.

Do you have any advice you’d offer those who are seeking publication?

Don’t rush it. This is especially true for self-published authors who are in charge of publishing the moment they feel the story is ready.

I would strongly recommend not publishing until you’ve had at least 1 published author read over your work. You can have 10 close friends and relatives read it and offer their feedback but nothing will compare with the knowledge and insight that a fellow author has to offer. And that doesn’t mean that every published author has the best advice. When working with an author, read their work first and make sure you like their style before you let their style influence yours.

Also remember, the thrill of a new release is short-lived, but bad reviews live on forever. So be sure you slow down and spend time learning the trade before you hit the publish button.

Thanks for this excellent advice, and for sharing your journey with us today, Anita!


If you are interested in checking out Anita’s books, she can be found at the following locations:

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Following is information on the first of her series of historical fiction novels, set during the American Civil War.

War is on the horizon during the spring of 1861. It will be an event that will change the lives of everyone in its path. The Harper family included.

Frank Harper is a young man full of dreams and ambitions. Even when the country is split and war breaks out, Frank will do whatever is necessary to see his dreams come true, even when that means putting on a uniform and leaving home.

For the first time, Claire Harper is forced to consider the reasons behind such a conflict. Should slavery be abolished? Which side should she be on, and what does God have to say about this? Claire is torn between her own opinions and those of her family. The struggle within her only increases when she repeatedly runs into a kind and handsome Union soldier. She longs to see her brother turn to Christ before it is too late. Desperate to reach her brother with the gospel, Claire pens a series of inspiring letters. Will she be able to handle all the obstacles of war and continue to be a witness to those around her?

How long can Claire last when her heart is torn in half and she is burdened for her brother’s soul? How long can Frank resist his sister’s urgent pleas or the gentle tugging from within? Can a man outrun a holy God?


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