Friday, July 26, 2013

A Chat with Martha Rogers

I think everyone who has met Martha Rogers loves her. She just radiates faith and love and kindness. I want to be like her when I grow up! I'm always thrilled to see her at ICRS or ACFW, and I was eager to interview her about her recent novel, Love Stays True, which is based on the lives of her great-grandparents. You'll definitely want to read every bit of this charming author's words, both in the interview and her books!

Love Stays True
(The Homeward Journey)
Martha Rogers
ISBN: 978-1621362364
May 2013/304 pages/$14.99

Can Sallie and Manfred overcome the distance that the war has put between them and find love?

In April 1865, the day following the surrender at Appomattox, Manfred McDaniel Whiteman and his brother, Edwin, are released in an exchange of prisoners. They are given a few provisions, and they begin a long journey to their home in Bayou Sara, Louisiana.

At home Sallie Dyer is waiting word of her beloved Manfred. Though just a young girl when Manfred left, Sallie has grown into a caring young woman who is determined to wait for her love—despite her father’s worries that she is wasting her life on someone who may never come home.

On their journey Manfred and his brother encounter storms and thieves and are even thrown in jail. Will he make the journey home before someone else claims Sallie’s hand?

Available at Amazon, and other retailers.


Martha Rogers’ novel Not on the Menu debuted on May 1, 2007, as a part of Sugar and Grits, a novella collection with DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo. Her series Winds Across the Prairie debuted in 2010 with Becoming Lucy, Morning for Dove, Finding Becky, and Caroline’s Choice. Her other credits include stories in anthologies with Wayne Holmes, Karen Holmes, and Debra White Smith; several articles in Christian magazines; devotionals in six books of devotions; and eight Bible studies. Martha served as editor of a monthly newsletter for the writer’s organization Inspirational Writers Alive! for six years and is the state president. She is also the director for the annual Texas Christian Writer’s Conference and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, for whom she writes a weekly devotional. Learn more at her website.


Martha Rogers always writes a compelling love story but Love Stays True is especially stirring because it is based on the lives and courtship of the author's great-grandparents. I was immediately drawn to Manfred and Sallie and their tender love. After all that they (and everyone else in the fractured nation) had experienced during the Civil War, it was excruciating to experience the long trek from Maryland (mostly by foot) that Manfred and his brother had to endure to reach their home in Louisiana, as well as the horror that Sallie and her family had encountered when the battle got way too close to home. Determination and faith, as well as grace and forgiveness, intertwine in this tender love story.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book from Realms Publishing. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


It's always a treat to talk to you! Love Stays True is your most recent release, and it came out in May. This is the one that is based upon your great-grandparents' story, right? Can you share about that?

My dad gave me some letters that were from Manfred to Sallie and from her father to her when she went off to ____. When I read them, I thought, "There's a story here someplace." I wanted learn more so we started researching and doing all kinds of genealogy stuff based on these letters. We found out that he was a Prisoner of War and that he graduated from Centenary College before the war. He graduated in 1860, then he went into the Louisiana Regiment in 1861. I then began to look at Sallie. They lived in Woodville, Mississippi but her grandparents lived in St. Francisville, Louisiana, the same town where Manfred lived. I wrote up a story for my family and they got excited about it so they started doing more research. Then we started having "fill in the blanks" discussions. What if this happened? Could this have happened? We know he left Point Lookout in Maryland in April, and they got married in June of that same year, 1865. So we just filled in the blanks and based the whole thing on what facts we knew.

Of course, when I started writing it, I had other names in it. I was just writing it as a novel. The editor said, "No, use their real names and real time and real towns and places and events." That took tons of research but we got it. We figured out how they could get from one place to the other in that length of time and what route they would have to go. The only thing I had to do was make sure the towns that are on the map now were on the map then. If they didn't exist, I'd go to the next one.

Wow, what a treasure!

Then I looked to see what was happening, what battles happened around that area? I did research there and found actual towns that had battles and I could include actual towns that people could tell Manfred and his brother what had happened. It was a lot of fun.

This would just be a treasure, I would think, for some museums and historical societies to have.

It's dedicated to my cousins. We have Cousins Camp every summer and they would brainstorm with me. One summer we chose to go St. Francisville and we celebrated the 150th anniversary of our great-grandparents' wedding. We went to the church and got all the information about their wedding and their marriage license, so we included that. It was really exciting. I also included the information we got from my grandmother and my aunt about my great-grandmother's wedding ring, how it was made, and that it's still passed on to the oldest daughter and to her child. It was used in two or three weddings just recently.

Do you have any pictures?

No, we don't. We have a lot of pictures of their children, my grandparents. We have pictures of my grandmother's family-a picture of all her brothers and sisters and her parents-but nothing from my grandfather's side. We went to Victoria last year and looked and looked. We got such odd bits of information but couldn't find anything. We know that Sallie lived until the 1920's, and she lived with my grandfather in a boardinghouse in Tyler. That's where she died, and I found her obituary. But we never could find out about Manfred. We know he was a doctor because they had him listed as a doctor in Victoria but where he went from there or if he died, we don't know. He's not buried anywhere around there. He just disappeared! You know, the 1890 census records were burned so there's no record of the 1890's. So that's the missing piece, where he was then. If we could have found out that, then we could have found out more information.

Besides being exhausting, how did this whole process impact you personally and spiritually?

Reading the letter-I incorporate some of one of the letters into the book-touched me. The faith that my great-grandfather had was really tremendous. It showed in my grandfather. It carried through to my grandfather. My grandfather kept a journal, and he wrote about all the ways that God had impacted his life. He recorded different miracles that had happened. We have a book, about an inch thick, of all of his testimonies and devotionals and stories he wrote about things God had provided. We can see that it was his father's influence on him that made such a difference. Then we went back and looked and saw that all of Manfred's family were very staunch Christians, very active in the church. The names were everywhere in the church record. It was so much fun to see all that and know that they were so involved. My grandmother was the biggest influence in my life when I was growing up. So I had two wonderful Christian grandparents.

I can just see such a legacy that has come down.

That's why we had to write it, because we knew that there was so much there.

Well, just from knowing you, I know that's also going to be the testimony that your grandkids and great-grandkids are going to have about you! They are going to be talking about Martha and her faith. You are one of those people that just radiates it.

Our 24-year-old granddaughter is living with us right now. I thought, "She is going to think I am glued to this computer!" Every time she comes home or walks down this hall, I'm at the computer! (She laughs) She's going to think, "My grandma doesn't have a life. She's chained to her computer!"

That's because you're writing all these great books!

It's been fun having her stay with us. I remember the six months that I lived with my grandmother were the most influential in my life. She made such an impact on me and helped me through so many difficult situations. I just hope there's some influence there on my granddaughter. She's such a neat girl.

Now that this has released, what other things are you working on?

The second and third books in this series. The second one will come out in January, and the third one will come out in the fall of 2014, I think.

So you're writing a whole series! I love that!

Yes, but the second and third books are pure fiction because when I wrote them, I used different names. We didn't know the order of the children, and I wanted to write a series. So I had made the oldest one a girl when it should have been a boy. I did get all the names in there of Alice, Juliet, and Tom.

So the kids' names are the real names?

Just about. Molly is not. But Hannah Grace is the heroine of the second book, and she is Sallie's younger sister. We couldn't find anything out about her except that she missed Sallie, and in one of the letters they talk about it. We found out later that Aunt Annie, as they called her (her name was Hannah Grace and they called her Aunt Annie), lived with them in one of the boardinghouses for a time. There is a really funny ghost story about her that cracked us up.

The third book is based on one of the children. But it's all fiction and what we had fun conjecturing and making up.

Those will be fun to look forward to in 2014!

I do have a book coming out in July. It's an e-book from B&H, part of the Bloomfield series. It's called Best Laid Plans. Here's the blurb:

Welcome to Bloomfield, where life is simple, love is real, and stories are shared.

Architect and hometown boy Hal McKenzie is called back to Bloomfield when the mayor needs help figuring out how to expand the city hall and courthouse. That will mean having to move the old Founders Cottage provided by the Caroline Short family.

Hal was sweet on Caroline back in high school and knows that moving her family’s historical landmark isn’t the best way to take another shot at having a love connection. Now he must respect the mayor’s wishes while convincing Caroline that he still cares for her.

Best Laid Plains is a charming romance illustrating how honesty really is the best policy, and God is in control of even the smallest details of our lives.

What is happening with the Bloomfield series now that B&H has shut down their fiction line?

Our editor, who won't be working for them anymore, and our agent are working on finding another publisher. My book is the final book in the series for now.

Anything else you'd like to share?

I'm waiting on a new contract. I have a proposal for a new series that I'm really hoping I get to do. My agent also has a proposal for a contemporary series that I would like to do. We'll see where that goes.

I love how you just keep going strong!

I told my agent, "If God wants me to have these and I get a contract, then that means I'm going to live a few more years so I can fulfill the contract!" (She laughs.) That's the way I look at my contracts. If I get one, I know I'm going to live a few more years! But we'll see. You never know! I'm enjoying it.

I hope you get a bunch more contracts and get to stay around a long time! Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me. It's always such a blessing to spend some time with you.


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