Welcome to Day 5 of the “SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN” Blog Tour!

Please welcome Sarah Angleton, an awesome author who is here to talk about her latest book ‘Smoke Rose To Heaven.’ Over to you Sarah!

Divining a Novel

I think the best part about writing a novel is learning all the new things I have to learn in order to make my fictional world feel as real as possible for readers. Fiction writers, it turns out, are not necessarily experts on everything that happens to become entwined in their works.

For my first novel, Gentleman of Misfortune, that meant I had to figure out, among other things, how to make a mummy. Because this is historical fiction, I had the added challenge of trying to determine how a person living in nineteenth century America might have done it with materials commonly available. The first step was to make a phone call. Whenever dead bodies are concerned, I reach out to an old college buddy of mine who is a funeral director by trade. He was able to point me in some of the right directions and led me down many wonderful hours of rabbit holes.

My most recent release, Smoke Rose to Heaven, which is a companion to the first, also made me ask some questions, because it includes a character who is a dowser.

In case you’re as unfamiliar with dowsing as I was, it’s the process of locating something hidden, often water or minerals beneath the ground, with the aid of a pointer or pendulum. It’s considered a form of divination and those who use it are often landowners wishing to dig new wells or people looking for lost items or persons. It can allegedly even help to answer more spiritual questions. Historically, and still sometimes today, it’s also been used in treasure hunting.

And as it is done regularly by some of the fictional characters in my novel, it was also practiced by the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, one of the central historical figures wrapped up in the conspiracy theory that forms an important part of the book. I knew I couldn’t be faithful to my setting and story if I didn’t do a little research.

Because I did not have a dowser among my contacts, I began my search with the American Society of Dowsers, which I learned is the largest organization of professional dowsers in the world and has a convenient online list of its members identified by region. There I found the name of a gentleman working in Western New York State, the very setting of my novel. He listed water dowsing as well as missing persons and objects as his area of particular expertise, which worked perfectly for what I needed.

I reached out and received a very warm response. We spoke for more than an hour over the phone and exchanged numerous follow-up emails. He patiently answered all of my questions about how dowsing feels and even how it could be faked by a conman. He then offered stories that illustrated aspects of dowsing that would never have occurred to me to ask about. Many of these extra fascinating little tidbits became part of the novel and added a richness I could not have achieved by reading a few articles on the internet.

I didn’t become a dowser. As I tend to be a somewhat skeptical person, I’m not even sure I could say I came to believe it really works. But I did manage to get a feel for how my characters might perceive it and how it might be woven into the culture of my setting. I also learned how to write respectfully about something that is outside the realm of my own experiences and knowledge so I could share it with readers.

And that is definitely the best part about writing a novel.smoke-rose-to-heaven-by-sarah-angleton

 Book Blurb:

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?

Author Bio:

sarah-angletonSARAH 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.


Social Media Links:





Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2t7RS9g

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2U9pwXk

Sarah is giving away 5 e-book copies of SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN and all you have to do for a chance to win a copy is to leave a comment below.
To follow along with the rest of her tour, please drop in on her 4WillsPub tour page.
If you’d like to take your book or books on a virtual blog tour, please visit  4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com and click on the VIRTUAL BLOG TOUR tab.
Thank you for supporting this author’s tour.

46 thoughts on “Welcome to Day 5 of the “SMOKE ROSE TO HEAVEN” Blog Tour!

    1. My pleasure Sarah, historical fiction has always fascinated me and I am sure this is a wonderful read. I wish you great success with your new release.

  1. Sarah, lovely to meet you here on Balroop’s blog! 😀

    Writing is an interesting craft on so many levels and I love learning about your research for your latest book. There is a American Society of Dowsers! Who knew! Great that they could help with so much information. Your book sounds fantastic and I love the cover!

    Wishing you both a great weekend! xx

    1. Thank you, Annika! I think there must be a society out there for just about everything, which is great for research.

      Also, you share your beautiful name with one of my nieces!

    2. I agree with you Annika, writing opens many unknown vistas, more alluring than the ones we know. Thanks for standing by to support Sarah. I am fascinated by the name of her book and wonder how far smoke could go! The poet in me says…further than that! 🙂 Love and hugs dear friend.

  2. That is interesting, Sarah and a different subject to research. I know our well was dowsed by the previous owners when their first one went dry. I’ll be watching for it when I read your book! Thanks for hosting, Balroop:)

    1. Cool! My mom tells me that the well on my grandparents’ farm was also dowsed, many years ago now. I’ve never seen it done, but would like to. The expert I spoke to described it as a natural ability that he believes everyone has, just some are more naturally coordinated in making use of it than others. An interesting perspective for sure.

  3. I am SO hoping I win a copy of this book! 🙂 I have actually seen dowsing done and it was pretty amazing to watch. This was dowsing for water and as the forked stick found water, it quivered and vibrated. Fascinating! Thank you, Sarah, for such an interesting post and thank you, Balroop for hosting today!

  4. This was a very interesting read. How lucky you were to find a dowser who was willing to educate you! Like Jan, I’m hoping to win a copy of your book! It sounds fascinating! *fingers crossed*

    1. Yes, and I have discovered that if you just say, “I’m writing a book and I was hoping you might be able to help me understand…” people are usually pretty happy to help.

  5. I once saw dowsing in action. I wanted to know where the septic tank was for a house I was considering to buy. My brother-in-law come over and walked around the general area we thought it had to be. I was amazing to see him be able to outline the boundaries of what had to be the septic tank. I never had seen anyone do that before. It was fascinaing.
    Rebecca Carter (writing as Ronesa Aveela)

    1. It is fascinating. Geologists will mostly swear it doesn’t work, but it’s been used for centuries and I hear from a lot of people who say it definitely does. I would love to see it in action. What kind of equipment does your brother-in-law use? The dowser I spoke to didn’t actually thing the rod/pendulum particularly mattered. It just helped the dowser look less crazy to others, but he said the sense is really more internal, at least for him.

  6. Hi, Sarah! I hope you are having a blast on your tour. May you gain many new readers and fans!

    I love your blog, Balroop! It has a great look. Thank you for hosting Sarah today.

  7. What a lovely article. “learning all the new things I have to learn in order to make my fictional world feel as real as possible …”–me too! I get lost in it. I loved the discussion of the dowser. A Western I read spent a good bit of time on dowsing also as the folks from the 1890’s tried to build a lake. It’s fascinating!

    1. The research for historical fiction is so much fun. I’m always afraid I’m going to get something wrong, and I’m sure I occasionally do, but I so appreciate when any author has worked hard to lend authenticity to his or her work. It’s definitely worth the effort!

  8. Writing a historical story is hard work, especially, if you want to write one that will not be contested. It will also require, as you have found out, the learning of new skills. Your historical book is as good as your research is. Thank you, Balroop, for hosting.

    1. True. Historical fiction requires a lot of world building and that world has to be right. If it’s not, you can lose the trust of your reader pretty fast. Readers of HF tend to be pretty eagle-eyed.

  9. This sounds like a fascinating novel! What an intriguing research process. Thanks for sharing this new author here, Balroop. (new to me, I should say). I will be checking these titles. Congratulations, Sarah, on your new release!

  10. I always find learning about other people’s research processes very interesting. It seem easier to reach out to experts in the USA than where I live. Most of my research comes from non-fiction books and various internet sources and archives. A great post, Sarah. Thanks for sharing, Balroop.

Comments are closed.