The experience was very different. Of course, you learn things in the process of writing a first novel that prepare you to write a second. When I was writing a mystery novel I was never sure what would happen next. The story revealed itself to me as I was writing. In fact, I was a couple chapters in before I knew who the murderer was. I thought I knew when I started writing, but as I got to know the person’s character I realized that person would not commit murder. So then I had to get to know the other characters better so I could solve the crime.
The Sharecroppers is told chronologically—although it wasn’t written in chronological order. I think the chapter where Rosa Lee and Flora go for their first ride in an automobile was the first. So anyway, since I was writing historical fiction the dates took care of the order for me.
I write whichever chapter I can see the clearest.
I knew Marina and Jake would impact people if I could get out of the way of their telling the story.
Not at all. I thought it would be and I’m not quite sure why the darlings don’t take up less time. The last couple months finishing The Sharecroppers I got out of bed between 2:00 and 2:30 every morning to write.
Yes, although not the same one. On Deceive, the editor was part of the publishing house. I never saw her and although she made very few changes, the changes she made were non-negotiable. I didn’t have a voice in the matter. With Sharecroppers, I had the option of using someone in-house at Xulon or choosing my own. I chose an experienced editor who is also a linguist. She was great to work with. If our ideas differed we were able to discuss our reasoning. Most of the time we came to a concensus, but the few times we didn’t, we went with whoever was the expert in that area. I had the final say on characters. She had the final say on commas. As a linguist she understands the evolution of language. Two or three times she said to me, “I don’t think that phrasing or word would have been in use during that decade.” So then I would research it and make the necessary changes.
Oh, heavens. I don’t know—close to a dozen, I think. The first draft, although in paragraph form is really skeletal—almost like a strong outline. The second draft fleshes it out a little more. By the third draft you start to see themes more clearly and can enhance them. Each draft is another layer. Sometimes it’s physical descriptions. Another run-through might focus on dialogue or transitions.
The whole publishing industry is changing very fast. There are monetary advantages to using a non-traditional publisher plus it’s faster. That was my main reason. Every time I would talk to my Great-Aunt Bernece (Sadie in the book) she would ask if I was going to finish that book before she died. I wanted to put the book in her hands. She and the other great-aunts and uncles were more important to me than the prestige of a traditional publisher.
Salem Communication Corporation released The Sharecroppers by Denisa Nickell Hanania. The novel follows an Arkansas farming family. It is set in a time of humid evenings on the front porch when uncles told tales so funny even the bull frogs chuckled. This emotionally gripping story burns hot in the cotton fields cooling gently in the sweet-smelling twilight.
The Sharecroppers tells the story readers want to hear. It is their story. Readers recognize parents who harvested cotton, gardens, and children—making a success of all three. This saga tells of a marriage, silver dollars, a stolen home and a runaway baby. Readers laugh out loud, try to hide their tears, and in the end, readers remember that they are part of a good harvest.
“Beautiful heartwarming story … enjoyed this book thoroughly.”
“From the prologue to the epilogue you will not be able to stop reading.”
“I feel in love with the characters …. a masterpiece and a must read. I didn’t want the book to end and wished that it would have gone on forever!”
“A refreshing and welcomed read”
“You feel like you are living life with friends.”