“Smoke Rose to Heaven Virtual Book Tour”
A Book Full of Fingerprints
Seventeen years ago, I embarked on a new adventure when I wandered into Tate Hall on the Campus of the University of Missouri to express interest in the Literature and Creative Writing master’s degree program housed there. My husband and I were visiting the area while he interviewed for a new position and I investigated my options.
I was fortunate to come across two women, both of whom would later become my teachers and one my advisor, who were happy to answer all my question. One, however, had a question for me. My would-be advisor asked, “Do you want to teach?” When I answered uncertainly, she continued, “Because if you just want to write, then just write.”
It wasn’t that I was desperate to stand in front of a room of students, though I have taught classes from time to time, enjoy it, and am grateful for the training and degree that allow me to do it. I enrolled because, even though I had been writing stories since the third grade, I knew I needed to surround myself with a community of writers if I wanted to improve and eventually publish. I knew I needed to be taught, and in a sense, to teach.
I’m not suggesting that every writer needs an MFA or MA in order to be successful, but it was the right path for me. For three years I learned and worked alongside some of the most brilliant writers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Immersed in the classics, I became a more critical reader. Buried in the stacks at the library, I finetuned my researching skills. Workshop after workshop forced me to open myself up to giving, receiving, and making use of criticism.
Today I do my best work in a hidey hole office tucked deeply enough into the corner of my basement that sometimes even the dog forgets to look for me there. But I do my hardest and most necessary work sitting around a table with ten to twelve fellow writers critiquing one another’s work, teaching and challenging one another to coax as much as we can from the words on the page.
My newest release Smoke Rose to Heaven became temporarily caught up a few years ago in a complicated situation with a small press and it’s taken an especially long road to publication. Because of this, bits of it have also been subjected to critique by two separate groups of writers in two parts of the country. Every critique partner has poured a part of themselves into the book and I see their fingerprints in it so clearly.
The novel tells the story of an abandoned girl who becomes a woman pursued by both the shadows of a difficult past and the dark forces attempting to ensure her secrets remain hidden. It’s an emotional work of historical conspiracy, intrigue, and adventure. And it’s been made infinitely better by my wonderful community of fellow writers who have taken the time to learn from and teach one another.
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New York, 1872.
Diviner Ada Moses is a finder of hidden things and a keeper of secrets. In her possession is a lost manuscript with the power to destroy the faith of tens of thousands of believers.
When a man seeking the truth knocks at her door with a conspiracy theory on his lips and assassins at his heels, she must make a choice.
Spurred by news of a ritualistic murder and the arrival of a package containing the victim’s bloody shirt, Ada must either attempt to vanish with the truth or return the burden she has long borne to the prophet responsible for one of the most successful deceptions in US history.
Protecting someone else’s secret may save Ada’s life, but is that worth forcing her own demons into the light?
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SARAH ANGLETON is the author of the historical novels Gentleman of Misfortune and Smoke Rose to Heaven as well as the humor collection Launching Sheep & Other Stories from the Intersection of History and Nonsense. She lives with her husband, two sons, and one loyal dog near St. Louis, where she loves rooting for the Cardinals but doesn’t care for the pizza.
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