Interview with Sherry Shindelar

Today we get the privilege of hearing from debut author Sherry Shindelar. Sherry’s historical romance Texas Forsaken releases today. Welcome to the Brave Blog, Sherry!

Sarah: What was the last book you read that you felt was brave?

Sherry: Lori Benton’s Mountain Laurel was very brave. In addition, I’ve read several brave books by you
(Sarah Hanks), including your Mercy series and Braving Strange Waters.

Sarah: It’s an honor to be included in your answer. Thank you! Do you consider yourself brave? Why or why not?

Sherry: Yes, because I write about eras and topics many publishers are reluctant to address. I spent several years being told by editors and agents that writing about the Civil War-era wasn’t currently politically correct, that it didn’t matter how wonderful my writing might be, they just weren’t publishing anything from that era in the next couple of years. 

So I decided to do something different. I wrote a story about a heroine who was kidnapped by Indians. She adopted and eventually married into the tribe and had a child. When the US Cavalry “rescued” her, she didn’t want to return to white society, and her uncle tried to take her mixed-race baby away from her. I avoided having an American Indian POV character because I knew that could potentially cause an uproar since my only American Indian ancestry is a great-great grandmother. However, when I interviewed with literary agents as I neared the end of the story, I received the same feedback: great writing, too risky, put this aside and write another book that is safer. I thank God that I had writer friends who encouraged me to not give up on the book. 

In a future book, not my next one, I will probably eventually include an American Indian POV. I feel that if we are censored to only write what is politically correct, vast parts of history and groups of people will be neglected. I believe that there is room for writing about another culture when it done carefully and with great respect. I enrolled in a course on writing about American Indians, and I have also consulted American Indian friends. It is great to brave, but one also needs to include wisdom and respect. 

Sarah: Very well put. What is a book that has really impacted you? How did it change you? What do you think the author did that made it impactful?

Sherry: Lori Benton’s Mountain Laurel had a significant impact on me and inspired me to write my new release Texas Forsaken. Her book was set in a different time period (the 1790’s instead of the 1860’s), different location (North Carolina instead of Texas), but it dealt with interracial relationships and racial/cultural divides. Her story inspired me to take risks, and most of all, I wanted to emulate the emotional impact that her story had on me.

Her story plunges the reader into the depths of love and pain. I wanted to write a story that people would love but not easily forget. After I read Lori’s book, I considered and prayed about how could I write a story like that. A true account of a captive that I read over twenty years before came to mind. The story of the captive, Cynthia Ann Parker, still haunted me.  My character’s life was inspired by portions of Cynthia’s life.

Sarah: Well, I’m sold. I’ll have to read Mountain Laurel. What’s your favorite genre to read?

Sherry: Christian historical romance is my favorite, but I read a wide variety of genres.

Sarah: Why do you write in the genre you do? Did you always want to write in that genre?

Sherry: I write Christian historical romance because I’m captivated by history, I love romance, and I want to be able to share my faith in my writing.  When I first started writing, I wrote historical romances and left my faith as a silent part. After my first novel didn’t get published right away, I put the manuscript in a box under a dresser and returned to college and graduate school. Years later, when God called me back to writing, I felt His calling to weave my faith in as an integral part of the story. I had also decided that I wanted to leave the bedroom door closed in my writing☺

Sarah: I’m so glad you followed God’s leading and started writing again. When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Sherry: I’ve wanted to be an author since I was nine years old. I used to swing in my swing set for hours making up episodes of Star Trek before moving on to plotting romantic dramas and adventures in distant lands.  My favorite possession at age nine was a set of author playing cards (a matching game with photos of famous women authors). I wanted to be an author when I grew up and bring stories to life on the written page, stories that would impact my readers.

Sarah: I love that. Do you enjoy writing in third person or first person better? Past or present tense?

Sherry: I’m totally into third-person deep POV and past tense.

Sarah: Side note, as another deep POV author, I LOVE how you do this. I enjoyed feeling so close to your characters in Texas Forsaken. Now, what subject have you done the most research on for your writing?

Sherry: The Civil War in the Shenandoah Valley. However, Texas in the 1850’s and 1860’s is quickly catching up.

Sarah: Who is your biggest cheerleader?

Sherry: My husband. I’m so thankful for a husband who understands my need to write and who encourages and supports me in the endeavor.  My mother is my second greatest cheerleader.

Sarah: Wonderful. What is the biggest piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to write their first book?

Sherry: Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. To be successful in writing a book, you need to be willing to devote time, heart, and years. If you care deeply about it and believe that God is calling you to this, do not give up, even when the first chapter or first book isn’t as wonderful as you hoped, even when it feels like you’re alone, even when publishers and agents say no. Write. And connect with other writers. ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a great place to find your people.  They offer critique groups who can give you weekly accountability and feedback. Go to writer’s conferences (online or in person) and educate yourself in other ways. Many parts of the writing craft can be learned if you’re determined and if you have the spark of creativity inside you.

Sarah: Excellent (and encouraging) advice. Now for my favorite question: how has the Lord shown Himself faithful in your life?

Sherry: He has proven Himself faithful in too many ways to list. One of the most significant ways is in providing me with a husband who loves Him and me, who is faithful and supportive and is an excellent father. The Lord has also provided me with three wonderful children and grandchildren, and He has been with me through all the trials of life.

In regards to my writing, He called me back to writing in 2019 and opened my heart to fall in love with it all over again, after thirteen years away from fiction writing. Since that time, He led me to ACFW, a critique group, writing friends, and conferences that all grew me as a writer. He worked through these friends and critique partners to encourage me, and last spring, after so many no’s from editors/publishers and agents, He worked in multiple circumstances to connect me with the editor who would say yes! Actually, two editors said yes, but one offered a three-book contract and other perks. It was all in His perfect timing. I’d been praying that I’d get published while my mother was still alive and aware enough to read the book, and He has brought that to pass.

Sarah: I’m so excited for you. Finally, tell us what you’re working on now.

Sherry: I’m working on the second book in the Lone Star Redemption series. It will follow Texas Forsaken and be set in 1863-1864 Texas.  I’m writing a minimum of three books set in Texas.

Sarah: Thank you for joining us on the Brave Blog. I wish you the best on your new release!

Texas Forsaken

The man who destroyed her life may be the only one who can save it.

Seven years ago, Maggie Logan (Eyes-Like-Sky) lost everything she knew when a raid on a wagon train tore her from her family. As the memories of her past faded to nothing more than vague shadows, Maggie adapted—marrying a Comanche warrior, having a baby, and rebuilding her life. But in one terrible battle, the U.S. Cavalry destroys that life, and she is taken captive again, this time by those who call themselves her people. Forced into a world she wants nothing to do with, Eyes-Like-Sky’s only hope of protecting her child may be an engagement to the man who killed her husband.

Enrolled in West Point to escape his overbearing father, Captain Garret Ramsey has graduated and finds himself assigned to the Texas frontier, witnessing the brutal Indian War in which both sides commit atrocities. Plagued by guilt for his own role, Garret seeks redemption by taking responsibility for the woman he widowed and her baby. Though he is determined to do whatever it takes to protect them, is he willing to risk everything for a woman whose heart is buried in a grave? Or is there hope she might heal to love once more?


Oh my goodness, this is one of the richest historical novels I’ve ever read. I know these characters will stay with me. Sherry Shindelar is a master at weaving in setting details in a natural way that doesn’t bog the story down in the slightest. Her metaphors and similes are brilliant. The characters are nuanced and deep. The story sucked me right in and kept me reading until the very end. I laughed. I cried. I swooned. I learned more about history. This one had better win some awards because it is absolutely deserving. I can’t wait for the next one in the series.

About the author

Originally from Tennessee, Sherry loves to take her readers into the past and share her faith. She is an avid student of the Civil War and the Old West. She’s always been a romantic at heart. When she is not busy writing, she is an English professor working to pass on her love of writing to her students. Sherry is an award-winning writer: 2023 Genesis finalist, Maggie finalist, and Crown finalist. She currently resides in Minnesota with her husband of thirty-eight years (Their romance started on a city bus on Valentine’s Day). She has three grown children and three grandchildren.

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