Meet My New Sister Belle: Amy Hill Hearth (famous friend of Cosby, Clinton, and more!)

Southern Festival of Books 2012 Authors Amy Hill Hearth, Julie Cantrell, Kathy L. Murphy, Jolina Petersheim and more

Southern Festival of Books 2012 Authors Amy Hill Hearth, Julie Cantrell, Kathy L. Murphy, Jolina Petersheim and more

In October, 2012, I had been a published novelist for less than a month when I attended my very first Southern Festival of the Book in Nashville, Tennessee. There, I was thrilled to meet the talented, brilliant, super-sweet author, Amy Hill Hearth. A few months later, our paths crossed again, as we got to know each other better at the Pulpwood Queen Girlfriend Weekend in Jefferson, Texas.

I admit I was MORE than a little starstruck on both occasions. This was THE Amy Hill Hearth, New York Times bestselling, Peabody Award winning author of one of my all-time favorite books — an oral history of two centenarian sisters from North Carolina called, HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANY SISTERS’ FIRST 100 YEARS.


having our sayThe book had spent 113 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (113 weeks!) But that’s not all. It was also a Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, and Publishers Weekly Bestseller. (In other words, it was an out-of-the ballpark homerun!)

In 1995, the book was adapted for the Broadway stage and, in 1999, for an award-winning film. Both productions were produced by Camille O. Cosby. Yep, that Camille, the wife of Bill Cosby. (Not kidding!)

What you must understand is that the Delany sisters’ beautiful memoir had been on my Special Shelf  for years, tattered and dog-eared, with phrases underlined and starred. For me, meeting Amy ranked right up there with meeting Johnny Depp. Only better!



Amy Hill Hearth and her husband Blair

Amy Hill Hearth and her husband Blair

But what I remember most about those first interactions was that Amy was a humble, kind, gentle, generous soul who had the sweetest, most supportive husband I had ever seen.

His name was Blair, and their relationship stood out to me as something so dear, so rare, so genuine, that I would catch myself watching them from across the room.

Blair smiled proudly when Amy spoke on her Nashville panel, as if they were the only two people in that space. And in Texas, as they sat with me at dinner, he held her coat and sang her praises throughout the meal. She did the same about him.

Since that time, I have read more of Amy’s books, and I have noticed the common themes of her work across both nonfiction and fiction. In every story, Amy champions those people who have been marginalized in some way (particularly women).

This is why I consider Amy a kindred a spirit, and it’s the main reason I invited her to be my fellow Wednesday Belle here at SBV. Amy aims to give voice to the voiceless, as she did in HAVING OUR SAY.

Miss dreamsvilleAfter making waves as a nonfiction writer for years, Amy’s debut novel, MISS DREAMSVILLE, was a book club pick for Simon & Schuster, a Reader’s Digest “Select Edition,” and the January 2013 selection of Kathy L. Murphy’s international Pulpwood Queens Book Club. Now, after reader demands for MORE, Amy is happily working on a sequel.

I encourage you to read Amy’s official bio – which will blow you away. But for now, we thought we’d share a few Fun Facts.

I am so intrigued by each of these points, I hope Amy will be blogging about the details for weeks to come. Amy, please…I’m dying to know the rest of the story!



Fun facts about Amy Hill Hearth:

  1. I met my husband-to-be when I interviewed him for a newspaper story I was writing about the hungry and homeless in Volusia County, Florida. (He was running a food bank for the United Methodist Church.)
  2. I won a flower-arranging contest at age 9 in Columbia, S.C. with a last-second entry.  My photo was in the newspaper the next day.
  3. I am the third generation owner of an antique boat, a 1928 Chris-Craft. I rescued the boat from storage, oversaw a complete restoration, and learned to pilot her myself.
  4. I am a thirteenth generation American. One of my female ancestors arrived at Sandy Hook, New Jersey via shipwreck in the 1640s and was rescued by Lenni-Lenape Indians.
  5. I love Boston Terriers, Schnauzers, mutts, and pretty much every canine under the sun. My parents met because of a dog.
  6. I hosted a tea party at the Delany Sisters’ house for Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1995.
  7. I belong to a writers’ group called the Sisterhood of Atomic Engineers. None of us are scientists.
  8. I rescued a boy who was floating face-down in the surf in Daytona Beach, Florida in 1983.
  9. In 2012 I became a great-aunt which makes me feel old as dirt but proud at the same time.
  10. I once hit a man with my umbrella at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.  (Trust me, he deserved it!)

Isn’t she fascinating?! You can learn more about Amy’s work by visiting

In the meantime,

Post your answer to our Question of the Day below

AND be sure to include your email address so we can contact the winner.

Your comment will serve as your entry to our exciting drawing. One lucky reader will win a copy of Miss Dreamsville (and because in Louisiana we always like to add a “little something extra” aka Lagniappe, I’ll toss in signed copies of Into the Free and When Mountains Move).

Now…here’s our question.

How did YOU meet the love of your life? And if you haven’t yet done so, what’s your fantasy scenario?

Let’s all enjoy some fun ROMANTIC true-love stories this Valentine’s Season.



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Julie Cantrell

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author at Harper Collins Christian
Julie Cantrell is a tree-hugging organic-farm girl and mother of two who happened into a mid-life adventure as a novelist. She's having fun parenting, writing, teaching, speaking, and living the dream.

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  1. says

    I am just over the moon that Amy has joined the Belles. I can’t imagine her hitting someone with an umbrella. That image makes me laugh. Those with deep-running still waters don’t play around. Meeting Amy at Girlfriends Weekend was like being introduced to a celebrity; a very nice, extremely loveable celebrity. I had long-since written my favorite quotes from Having our Say, at my office. The first thing I did when I returned from Texas was called my former boss, who had introduced me to Having Our Say. “Guess who I met?” I said, “Just guess.” Amy is a lovely soul and I am so happy you are rocking on the porch together. I can’t wait to see your posts. Best to you both. Renea Winchester

          • Nicole Seitz says

            Sorry, guys, but I teach on Wednesdays and couldn’t check in! Is the question how I met my husband? You ready for this? I was once engaged to the WRONG guy. The Lord began to give me migraines, so I finally asked him if he was trying to tell me something and if he was, to make it clear quickly. He made it very clear and I broke off the engagement. I wanted so much to have a family, but knew I had to trust God. I told him, “Your will, not mine,” and meant it. Within the next year, on the VERY DAY I was supposed to marry the other guy, I met my husband. Turns out we worked in the same building on different floors for the same company. We had our first date one week later on Friday the 13th, and we’ve been together ever since. :) Gee, I hope that was the question, otherwise, this is awkward!

  2. says

    I am so looking forward to getting to know Amy better. I loved her novel! And, what a fascinating introduction! To answer the question of the day, I met my husband in a bar and we went skydiving the next day. You might say I “fell” for him!

  3. Shauna says

    I met my husband when I was 14, he was 16. We dated off and on through high school. He proposed to me the night of my high school graduation, and we married a few years later. We will celebrate our 20th anniversary in March!

    • says

      Shauna, you are like me. I met my hubby when I was 13, and he was 15. He proposed my last year of college undergrad. Our 19th anniv is March 18. Is that by any chance your anniv, too? Congrats on the BIG 20! Not many people reach that milestone these days. Thanks for sharing your sweet story, and you are entered in our drawing! Good luck!

    • says

      Congrats on twenty years! What are you doing to celebrate the big event?

      When we had our twentieth, I bought my hubby twenty gifts, one to open daily in the twenty days leading up to the anniversary date. Each gift represented that particular year.

        • says

          Yeah….he did good as well. He had a single red rose delivered to my law firm office each day for twenty days. He kinda stole my idea…but I wasn’t going to complain!

          This is the same man that had an elk’s tooth from his trophy hunt mounted in a ring for me. Yup! You read that right! We’ve hugged each other’s necks and battled some stuff out over our many years together….but we’ve NEVER been bored!

      • Shauna says

        What a sweet idea! Honestly I don’t think we’ve given much thought to our big day. My husband has been battling brain cancer the last eight years and has been having some tough days lately. We have been taking things one day at a time – but you’ve definitely given me something to think about!

        • says

          Oh, Shauna. I’m so very sorry to read this. I saw this post and went to my knees in prayer. In 1990, I had a brain bleed….following by three surgeries and nine months in the hospital. The prognosis didn’t look good….and I had babies at home needing me. There are no guarantees in life, but God is big. (as my life proves….I am A-OKAY today….well some might argue that, but you know what I mean) Jesus loves to show up in dire circumstances. Watch for Him….he’ll be there with you, no matter what is ahead. >hugs<

        • Lisa Wingate says


          There are no easy words for dealing with cancer and care-taking, and the ebb and flow of good days and bad. May those tough days be lifted by your love for each other and God’s love. Prayers from here for you and your husband.

        • says

          Oh Shauna, I’m so very sad to read this. Eight years of fighting the pain, meds, treatment, etc.. must seem like an eternity to both of you. I’m keeping you and your husband in prayer, and I’ll be sending happy, healing thoughts into the universe for you. Let’s all look forward to hearing how you both celebrate MANY more anniversaries in the future together…without your friend, Mr. C. Hugs, Julie

        • says

          Dear Shauna, I’m so sorry that you and your man are having to face this. I can’t even imagine how long the road has been. I’m going to be praying for y’all and asking the intercessors I know to join me. Big hugs!

        • says

          Dear Shauna, just said a prayer on you and your husband’s behalf. My best friend is a cancer survivor, after a bone marrow transplant in 2008; it was a very difficult time for her and her family and for everyone who loved her. Praying that you receive the best of care and support during this trying season. Hugs to you.

  4. says

    Loved this so much, Amy and Julie; thanks for sharing! I can’t wait to get to know Amy a little better! I met the love of my life at church, but it’s a little bit more complicated than that. His ex-Amish grandfather, Amos Stoltzfus, had invited our family to attend after my father read a book about a Mennonite revival in Minnesota, in which Amos was very involved, and called him up to talk about it. We were connected through words! :)

  5. says

    We have a winner for the Secrets Over Sweet Tea and The Outcast giveaway!!! Amy, please leave a comment including your email address, so we can contact you! Congratulations! :)

    Amy says

    February 4, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    What an interesting blog! I look forward to adding this to my list of blogs to check out when I have time :) I’ll be adding these books to my already-out-of-control TBR list now.

    We didn’t watch the Superbowl this year BUT my most favorite snack that I associate with Superbowl is my mom’s 7 layer dip.


  6. says

    WELCOME, Amy! We are tickled to have you here at SBV with us. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better. Your list of bio trivia is stellar. :)

    How did I meet my sweetie? He came home from LSU as I was graduating high school and I fell head over heels with his blond self. Started stalking him immediately. ‘Course, he thinks he chose me, but we know better, right girls?

  7. Annette B. says

    I met my husband about a month into my freshman year of college. We got married 2 yrs later, and we’ll celebrate our 25th anniversary this summer.

    I loved reading about Amy (what an interesting lady!), and now I MUST read “Miss Dreamsville”. You had me at “turtles”! (my favorite) And Julie…I absolutely loved “Into The Free” and can’t wait to read “When Mountains Move”! What an amazing group of Belle’s there are here!


    • says

      Thanks, Annette! I had to confess to my mom, before MISS DREAMSVILLE was published, that I used to help snapping turtles across the road on my way home from school. :-)
      P.S. If you loved INTO THE FREE, you definitely should read WHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE. Julie is incredibly talented.

    • says

      Hi Annette,

      Thanks so much for your incredibly kind words about my writing. I really appreciate your sweet post and am thrilled you took time to join us today on the porch BIG CONGRATS on reaching 25 years! That’s really a fabulous love story.

      And Amy chasing snapping turtles across the road???? WHAT??? I’m from Louisiana, and we all RUN From snapping turtles. Those things are vicious. Ok, well, I do remember catching a few when I was a kid, of course, but once I had any sense…I ran from them. Other turtles, sure, but snappers??? No Way!

      • says

        Yes, South Carolina snapping turtles, and it WAS crazy, but I couldn’t let them get hit by a car! If they were too big to carry, I hauled them in a wagon. If they were humongous, I’d get a broom and bop them on the rear over and over, and that generally inspired them to get moving. I will say I wouldn’t dare try this with an Everglades snapping turtle. Those things look like dinosaurs and they can actually sort of RUN, I kid you not. Eeek!

  8. Lisa Wingate says

    G’mornin’ girls! Welcome, Amy! We’re so glad to have you here.

    Let’s see, to answer today’s question: Met husband junior year in college while watching Garth Brooks (then just another college kid we all knew) play and sing for his supper. Came within an inch of having Garth play at our wedding reception, but he was finishing his finals and heading to Nashville two days before that. After the fact, we wished we’d moved the wedding to accommodate. Who knew? =D

  9. says

    My daddy owned a Cadillac dealership in a medium-sized Southern town, and drafted me to work at the tender age of nineteen. After a trial-by-fire on the sales floor I was eventually promoted to “Administrative Sales Manager”, a fancy title for a position that included running off most of the people who stopped in looking for charitable donations (we were always swamped). My future husband was president of the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters board. He came to my office asking us to donate a car . . . looking far too young for my tastes (I later discovered his baby face belied the fact he was two years older than me). I arranged to make a lesser contribution to BB/BS and sent someone in my place to the “thank you” banquet, as I had no interest whatsoever in the young man who persisted in trying to call (I instructed the receptionist to tell him I was busy) and drop into my office on an almost daily basis. A friend of my dad’s talked him into insisting I go out with the boy–a merciful act. Our first date was a nearly-disastrous lunch, after which he insisted in taking me by a property his family owned. He had to show me something; it turned out to be the most beautiful foal nestling with its mother. That bought him a second date, after which I never wanted to go out with anyone else. We were married a year later.

  10. says

    Welcome Amy, So excited to share the porch with you!
    I met Mr. Jones over cheese grits and fried fish. I had him when I ordered. However, he fell in love with me over cheeseburgers! What is it about southerners and food. Best decision I ever made was saying yes to that man and becoming the bonus mom to five amazing kiddos.

    • says

      Hello Juju, thank you and welcome to the porch! My husband sometimes teases me that the way we met wasn’t fair at all. Since I was a newspaper reporter interviewing him for a story, I got to ask all the questions. I knew everything about the poor man before my story even ran! 😉

  11. Cindi Altman says

    I met my husband at work, but we didn’t actually start dating for a few years after I left the company.

    Welcome to the group Amy. You are among some wonderful company :)

  12. says

    I love your post and introduction, Julie!

    Welcome to the porch, Amy! I love the fun facts you shared and can’t wait to hear more!

    My husband and I met, through friends, during our first semester of college. He says he knew that I was “the one” the first time he saw me, but I just took a little longer to realize it! 😉 We will celebrate our 13th anniversary on Valentine’s Day.

  13. says

    Juju, Cindi and Britney – thanks for dropping by the porch and commenting. I’m loving all these posts. Whoever wins the book give-away today is in for a real treat. I’ve read these books and they are FABULOUS!

  14. Virginia Rush says

    I met my love at a dance in high school. a few months later I was dating a friend of his. He came into his friends house while we were on the phone and “boyfriend” put me on the phone with his friend. later when “boyfriend” and I broke up… dance boy became my high school sweet heart. next week we celebrate our 42 year anniversary… it’s nice having ALOT of history together!!! would love to read Amy’s book.

  15. Teresa Williams says

    Single, not dating, but my dream is for prince charming to walk past me on a busy street, go “WOW”, back up and say, Where have you been all my life? Cheesy! LOL

  16. Nancy Bass says

    I met my husband at a bar in Colorado. I knew the night that I met him that I wanted to marry him. He tried to get me to go hot-tubbing at his friend’s house and I told him that if he wanted to see me again then it would be at church the following morning. Needless to say, he showed up and we walked hand-in-hand to lunch afterwards. We got married in the same church almost 3 years later.

  17. Melanie Backus says

    AHH, a great big Texas welcome to you. What great company you all have on the porch. I met the love of my life thirty-nine years ago and my life was never the same. It was quite by accident but certainly meant to be. I was a sophomore in college and had never missed a Thanksgiving with my parents until this particular year. A friend invited me to her home for Thanksgiving and I accepted. Upon arriving in her home town, we ran into a friend of hers. He seemed nice enough and invited us to another friends apartment. I didn’t know a soul except the friend I was there with so I just tried to fade into the woodwork. In one fleeting moment, the guy I was introduced to earlier made eye contact with me from across the room. It was then that he winked at me and the feeling I felt was indescribable. Needless to say, we were married eleven months later and to this day, when he winks at me, I still get that very special, indescribable feeling.

    • says

      Melanie — Wow…that must have been one amazing little wink! He certainly had that “special something” that swept you off your feet, and it’s so sweet that you say he still does. Love these kind of stories. Thanks for sharing! Our porch wouldn’t be the same without you and Britney and all your smiles.

  18. says

    Congrats, Beth Duke! You’re the winner of our Wednesday Giveaway. We’ll mail you three signed books: Miss Dreamsville, Into the Free, and When Mountains Move. We’ll need your mailing address, so please email:

    Here’s what we loved most about your post: “Our first date was a nearly-disastrous lunch, after which he insisted in taking me by a property his family owned. He had to show me something; it turned out to be the most beautiful foal nestling with its mother. That bought him a second date, after which I never wanted to go out with anyone else. We were married a year later.”

    Thanks for sharing your How I Met My Man story with us and making us all smile. Have a FABULOUS VALENTINE’S DAY and hope to see you on the porch each day.


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