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