Author Tammy Hinton


It’s my pleasure today to have a visit from writer Tammy Hinton, a historian, genealogist, and writer.

Hello, Tammy!

Thank you for having me today.

1. You’ve said that the people in your book are loosely based on the structure of your family. What gave you the idea to write it? And where to set it?

I always loved stories about the west. As a youngster in the 1950’s I grew up on a steady diet of Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry. Every Saturday afternoon you found my sister and me at the local Bijou, quarter in hand, to see a double feature and cartoon. Sugar Daddy stuck to the roof of my mouth, eyes focused on the screen, I sat transfixed willing myself back in time to the “Old West.” Week days I rode the wild open plains of the school yard playing cowboys and Indians. I always wanted to be the beautiful Indian princess. After all, I was part Cherokee. My mother told me so.

Bitten by the genealogy bug in the 1990’s, my goal was set to find my ancestors on the Dawes Commission Role, the census of the Five Civilized Tribes taken by the U.S. federal government from 1898 to 1914. What I found on this journey was more intriguing than I could have imagined: strong men and women, lawmen and outlaws, heroes and villains. What a ride.

Women’s historical fiction is my genre. You can also categorize Unbridled as a western. In fact the Western Writers of America named it one of the three top novels by a first time author. It makes no difference whether you are in Indian Territory, New York, or New Zealand, stories about men and women’s relationships are basically similar.

2. How do you go about the writing process? Are you a strict outliner, a seat-of-the-pantser, or somewhere in-between?

I start with good intentions. A synopsis comes first and then an outline. As I write, I find the story takes on its own life and leads me to completion. During the writing process I am constantly doing research on the time and place of the story, which also plays a part in straying from my outline.

A speaker at a writer’s convention mentioned that writing a screenplay was good training for an author. He was right. It definitely provides a different perspective on how to tell a story. It focuses the writer.

3. How much editing do you do? And follow that up with, when and how do you know that the manuscript is ready?

I am an edit freak. Changes and rewrites are a part of my daily life. Before anyone reads my words, even my critique group, they are edited by my in-house editor, my husband. Even after I’ve submitted a manuscript I think of scenes I should have added or things I could have said more cleverly. (Oh no, I used a “ly” adverb.)

4. Who is/are your mentor(s) and/or inspirations?

I belong to a critique group and they have served as mentors. When I joined in 2005, I didn’t even know what Point Of View meant. They offered suggestions that helped me become a writer. Often it’s hard to hear criticisms, but your writing always improves with their input.

I would like to mention two books I read as favorites of mine: Debbie Macomber’s Between Friends, and Nicholas Sparks’ Three Weeks With My Brother. Both books make you feel as if you are part of their experience, part of their conversation. Writing dialog is an art. They are the masters.

5. Aside from entertainment, what would you like people to take away from your book?

Each of us has ancestors that made a difference in the settling of America. Our country is the sum total of millions of interesting stories. My favorite part of marketing is doing book signings. The stories people tell you of their families are amazing. As a member of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) I was assisting a perspective member in finding her relative that fought in the American Revolution. My lady knew her family history back to a Texas Ranger and a devout clergyman who settled in Denton, Texas. When we finished with her family tree, we found out her ancestor had been the personal attorney of General George Washington. What a thrill.

6. What’s your favorite part of this writing process? The idea? The structuring/outlining? The writing? The finding a publisher or self-publishing? The marketing?

The research and writing are stimulating and my favorite parts of the process. No matter how much history you think you may know, every place has its own unique story. Readers are very savvy, and with the internet so available to check facts, writers have a lot of pre-writing work to complete before putting pen to paper.

7. Tell me what you need your surroundings to be like when you are actually writing (as opposed to editing) — in the creative phase?

I go into a room that we converted to an office and close the door. It has to be quiet. Plotting runs through my brain night and day. I even dream about the novel I am working on at the time.

8. What do you like to read, and what are you reading right now? Does your favorite genre influence your writing?

I have always liked biographies. My favorite woman in history was Queen Elizabeth I. What a strong woman. Her life reads like a novel. Sophia Loren also had a fascinating story. Being born out of wedlock in a Catholic country, and her experiences as a child during World War II Italy, made for interesting reading.

Yes, Unbridled reads like a biography of Sarah Cannon. Strong people winning over adversity has always appealed to me. My next book is set in the Civil War and ends in post-war Texas and Oklahoma. I had three great-great-grandfathers that were Georgians and moved west during Reconstruction. They’ve provided a wealth of story lines.
Thank you again, Lori.
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Have you ever purchased an ebook (Kindle, Nook, Sony, whichever) and found, as you read it, that the text had short lines and long lines, or blank lines for no apparent reason, or short indents then long indents? And that the Table of Contents only shows you the number of chapters, but it won’t take you there?

Let’s face it: Neither the Amazon coding program nor the Smashbooks coding program are great. They are all in computer codes, and most of us writers aren’t all that into code. I’m certainly not. But if I do publish digitally, I’d like to make it look good. And I’ve found someone who can help.

I encountered Ian S. Rutter on LinkedIn, in one of the writers groups. He’s a former code-writer (or engineer? Please comment, Ian!) for Microsoft, so he knows code like I know grammar. And when he saw people advertising to pay $149 to “format” your precious books, and that probably doesn’t include inserting photos, or (gasp!) videos, he got upset and decided to do something about it.

So he wrote about it on his pages like my pages. In details.I’m having serious trouble inserting it so you can use it (this is my fourth try), so I’ll explain it instead. The address starts the way most do, with the h-part and the double-u’s, and the punctuation. Next is his name,(Ian, then s is for a middle name; then Rutter. ALl run together.) After that it says that it’s in a country, by using the first two letters of code, followed by where he is, the United Kingdom, but just the first letter of each word. Then there’s a nifty slash, and it says that it’s one of those things like you’re looking at, followed by how to make an ebook, with those words connected with dashes. That’s it. That’s all. Maybe I can get it into a comment. Sigh. But GO THERE! That takes you to the first part, and there are links to parts 2 though 4. I’m sure 5 will be ready in a few days, if his fingers don’t give up!

I’ve done the four chapters now, and to my amazement, I’m getting it. I’m starting to understand what the code means and how (and why) to use it! I can’t tell you here, but if you want to save yourself some trouble (and possibly some money), check out Ian’s blog. You won’t be sorry.

Oh, and up to Part 4 is primarily text with image inserts (.jpgs). He’ll get to putting in videos, and what you have to do to make it upload on Amazon, too. He’s a great teacher, and he incorporates videos into his blog and they help.

Fellow writers, I know you’re thinking that this is not for you, and if you have a great relationship with an agent and a publisher, maybe it isn’t. But don’t think that it’s something you can’t learn. You can. And Ian can help!