Please welcome Sheila Hansberger to my blog – today we will be exploring her new novel, The Gardener’s Secret. But first let’s learn a little bit more about Sheila…

Sheila Hansberger/ S. Hansberger, is an artist and author. For the past forty-plus years, original watercolors and commercial art assignments have kept her busy with galleries and private clients. Other than an occasional magazine article or press release, her writings took a back seat to her artwork. In 2004, she began a five-year stint as Newsletter Editor for the National Watercolor Society. The job reminded her how much she loved writing. She then joined two national writer’s groups, attended classes, podcasts, and conferences to hone her skills. A book club, beta readers, and critique partners lent advice about her work. To date, her computer’s memory holds four novels (three finished), plotting for additional novels, and the beginnings of two children’s books.

In addition to her fine art/writing careers, her background includes work as a graphic artist for a printing firm; owner/manager of a property management company; owner/operator of a one-hundred-year-old, rustic sales barn and apple orchard; and board member of various volunteer organizations. Her three children, all raised with help from her devoted late husband, are precious lights in her life, as are her three grandchildren.

Deadlines are part of Hansberger’s existence, and she gives 110% to whatever project is in front of her. She says, “Some days I paint with watercolor; some days I paint with words. Life can be hectic, living like a ping-pong ball, bouncing back and forth between tasks, but at least I am never bored!”

Wow, not only a talented author but an artist as well, Sheila! Amazing. Now let’s find out all about your new novel: The Gardener’s Secret. 

Loyalty to a stranger opens her to more danger than she’d ever imagined.

Believing she’ll get to report gritty news, Callie accepts a job at her hometown newspaper. Instead, she’s assigned the gardening column—a subject she knows nothing about. She begs advice from a tight-lipped neighbor when he admits he’s a retired gardener, even though his mannerisms and speech suggest he’s anything but. Not knowing the full truth doesn’t matter—she needs his help. The townsfolk think him strange and warn Callie to keep her distance, but she regards him and his family as friends. Learning their horrifying secret doesn’t deter her, even though loyalty will draw her into danger.


I love the blurb, and if you are like me lovely readers, it certainly has whetted my appetite. So, thank you Sheila for sharing an excerpt with us:

“My goal is to work as a reporter for a big news agency like the New York Times. Who knows, you may be sitting here with the next Woodward or Bernstein.”

“A reporter?” He stared at me for a moment and then looked down, dusted off his hands, and rose to his feet.

I stiffened. “Is something wrong?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, his gaze searched the house’s dark interior. “I have to go. Will you be okay waiting by yourself?”

“Well, uh…yes sir, of course.” I scrambled to my feet and handed him the wet dish towel. “I appreciate you tending to my injury. Mama will want to thank you personally. We’ll stop by sometime and—”

He had taken a step toward the door but spun and thrust out his palm like a stop sign. “That isn’t necessary. Good luck with the healing.” He vanished into the house, closing the screen door, and the oak door behind it, and bolted the lock.

Seriously? Dazed by his icy send-off, I slumped to the steps and mentally repeated my words, wondering if I’d said something offensive.


Dear readers, I can only imagine that you’re as intrigued as I am. I’m eagerly anticipating diving into the entire book! As an author, I value the unique journey each of us takes from the inception of a novel to its publication. My path to publication will undoubtedly differ from someone else’s. Curious about the process, I approached Sheila and asked if she’d be willing to share her inspiration and experiences along the way. And guess what? Sheila graciously said yes!

Q what inspired you to write this novel?

Hansberger: I’m a professional artist, and IMAGES have always inspired me; images spark story ideas, too. Have you ever been in a public place, seen an individual or couple and played the game of “what’s their secret?” In the case of The Gardener’s Secret, I saw a woman walking a dog. Ah, but what was her story? Is she a dogwalker, or is she the dog’s owner? Age? Single or married? What secret is she hiding? Or who is the somebody whose secret she will have to protect? After mentally charting her basics (looks, flaws, background, etc.) I decided she’d trip and fall and be rescued by a secretive beekeeper, looking mysterious behind his beekeeping mask. Then I checked the Internet to see if someone had already written a novel about a beekeeper. Way too many titles! Time to rethink. I knew zilch about beekeeping, anyway. But I did know a lot about gardening. Perfect. I ran to my computer with the beginnings of a novel!



Q what or who gave you the impetus to seek a publisher?

Hansberger: When I decided anyone under the sun could write a romance novel, (bwahahaha…laughing at my foolish thinking), I joined RWA. I also joined SCBWI, just in case the desire to write children’s books led me in that direction. What was I looking for? An education in the art of writing, and a chance to rub elbows with fellow authors. Without those organizations, I’d be dumber than a stick. Using newfound knowledge, I began producing pages that were better than ever, and sometimes I read them aloud at critique meetings. My listeners were the ones who encouraged me to publish.


Q did you want a traditional publisher, or did you consider indy? Or other?

Hansberger: Years ago, my family owned and worked an apple orchard. In our 100-year-old barn we sold apples direct to the public. Customers wanted the biggest box of fresh apples they could carry, but they were clueless how to use an entire bushel. So…I put together a rudimentary apple cookbook and mimeographed 500 copies. Eventually, that edition sold out. Then, in 2014, I experimented using Amazon’s Createspace to re-do The Better Than Average Apple Cookbook in full color and include dozens of my apple-themed watercolors as illustrations. Battling through that software taught me a lot, and I realized producing a novel in black and white would be even easier. But what about all the pitfalls an inexperienced author would face by going it alone? Rather than take unnecessary chances, at least for my first novel, the path seemed safest if I worked toward traditional publishing.



Q how did you find yourself a publisher 

Hansberger: Lucky me…I won First Place in a writing contest! One of the judges was an editor for The Wild Rose Press. She asked to see a full manuscript, and after her readthrough, she encouraged her boss to offer me a contract. Thank goodness, because now I’m a published author and almost ready to send her my second manuscript!


Q what advice would you give to budding writers   🤔

Hansberger: If you’re gonna be a writer, you need the proper tools, and I don’t mean a fancy computer or other equipment. I’m talking about the available opportunities that will get you from point A to point B…like joining a writing organization and taking part in every meeting, workshop, and online class they offer. Once you’ve written some pages, find other authors within your preferred genre and exchange critiques. You’ll learn from your mistakes as much, or more, than from your successes.


What has your experience been so far…

Hansberger: Life is good! I grew so much in the beginning of this writing journey because of a kind mentor who reviewed my work using the “Oreo” cookie method…providing a compliment, following it with a suggestion, and finishing it up with a compliment. The RWA and SCBWI meetings and conferences I’ve attended have taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own. My critique partners are generous with knowledgeable advice; and my editor has helped in ways that far exceed her job description. To the welcoming authors I’ve met along the way, I say thank you for your guidance and true friendship.





Thank you so much, Sheila for sharing more of your story. I found it really interesting, and agree, I personally have been amazed at the kindness and support I have received, not only from authors but from my readers. So a huge thank you, to everyone!  

It’s been a true pleasure to have you on my blog, Shelia.

But that’s not all folks!

If you would like to connect with Sheila, why not add a comment to the comments box right at the bottom of this page and find her on her socials which are also below. Thank you for joining us and we can’t wait to hear from you.

We would both love to hear from you.

Social media info:



Facebook: Sheila Hansberger, Artist and Author (1) Facebook

Instagram: Sheila Hansberger (@sheilahansberger) • Instagram photos and videos

LinkedIn: (24) Sheila Hansberger | LinkedIn


Buy links:

Paperback link:

E-book link:

Comments (15)

  • manager

    It has been lovely working with you, Sheila, I wish you every success with your new release! Lynn

    • Sheila A Hansberger

      Thanks for everything, Lynn. So nice of you to offer this opportunity so we authors can get the word out!

  • Barb Bettis

    Delightful interview(s). And your book sounds intriguing Sheila. Wishing you all the best--and with the artwork too.

  • Randy Overbeck

    It sounds delicious, both the novel and the cookbook. Best of luck with the debut novel.

    • manager

      Thank you Randy for your comment. I am glad you were able to reply. I will let Sheila know so she can reply hereself.

    • Sheila A Hansberger

      Ah, clever...delicious. I like that. Thanks so much!

  • Meryl Brown Tobin

    An entertaining interview with Sheila about her debut novel, Lynn. Thanks to both of you, and all the best for your novel, Sheila. Meryl Brown Tobin, romantic suspense author

  • Sheila A Hansberger

    I am humbled by all those who took the time to read this article. Thank you everyone!

  • M. S. Spencer

    I do hope there's lots of gardening tips as well as what promises to be an intriguing mystery.

    • Sheila A Hansberger

      Although the book is a novel and not a gardening how-to, yes, there are a few tips nestled within the story. I hope you get to read it and let me know what you think!

  • Rhonda Blackhurst

    Your book sounds great, Sheila! And I love that you're an artist. I just joined Art Club here in Sun City West and watercolor is one of the things that interest me (and color pencil drawing).

    • Sheila A Hansberger

      Ah, so you're a reader and an artist, too? I find the combination of the two interests definitely keeps me busy. Years ago, I bought a book called The Colored Pencil by Bet Borgeson. You can find the revised edition or the earlier 1983 edition online, either new or used. If you have no experience with the medium, that book gives good basics. Good luck with your artwork!

  • Carol Hamilton

    Great blog post! Lots of background about the process of becoming an author and setting aside one talent to explore another. But nothing written can fully reveal what a kind and good person you are. Best of everything in your latest venture.

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