Thursday, July 11, 2013

Guest Post + New Book : Sara Lunsford with Sweet Hell on Fire.

Today's post is a twofer as we have a New Memoir by Sara Lunsford and a wonderful guest post.

Synopsis: Sweet Hell on Fire - Sara Lunsford- November 2012

As a corrections officer at an all-male maximum security prison, Sara Lunsford worked with the worst of the worst, from serial killers to white supremacists. She knew that at the end of every day, she had to try and shed the memories of the horrors she had witnessed in order to live a happy existence. But the darkness invaded every part of her life. And dealing with a stressful divorce and a mother sucumbing to cancer led her to a complete immersion in her work and eventually the bottom of a liquor bottle. Sweet Hell on Fire takes the reader on a journey with the author, from hitting rock bottom to becoming a woman who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the joy of redemption and the quiet haven to be found in hope.

Goodreads Link :  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14059132-sweet-hell-on-fire 



The world I grew up in was vastly different from most people I know.

Calling the operator from my house didn’t mean connecting with the phone company, it meant the switchboard at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary.

The local police had no jurisdiction in my neighborhood. They had to call the prison for permission to even come on the property. 

When I heard sirens, I had to stop and think what day of the month it was and if they were testing tornado sirens, escape sirens, or if it was the real thing.

When my father had mandatory overtime, it wasn’t because he was working on some big presentation. It was because two rival gang factions tried to beat each other to death on the yard with free weights.

I used to be really good at darts because a camp inmate named Doc taught me how to play.

When I was a kid, inmates did the cleaning and set up for us when we used the officer’s club. There was a stage and a microphone. I used to fancy myself a performer and I’d get up on stage and sing. I’m sure I wasn’t any good, but my mother said they always clapped for me. It’s quite something to run into someone who saw you playing dress up as a child and to have to be the one to tell him when he could take his shower or use the phone.

And rather surreal at the age of nineteen to go home with the prison dentist from the bar, a co-worker, but have him turn around before pulling into his driveway because he knows my father. To have him beg me not to tell a fifty-five year old man who is blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and has cardiac issues that he was with me because he’s still terrified of the man’s wrath.

Even more surreal at thirty to turn around and do the job again and see some of the same faces. To have the inmate barber ask me how my dad’s doing because after he did federal time, he was hashing off his time at the state.

I grew up in the life—in the long shadow of the Big House. It gets in the blood, the marrow. My father did the job, I did the job, and my husband still does the job. But it was different for me. I was never supposed to spend my life as a CO. I was always meant to write. But while I was working there, I stopped writing. Not just because of the job, but because of me. Because I needed something to change and ultimately I learned that the something that had to change was me.

I was a bad mother,
a bad daughter,
a bad wife, a bad friend.
Boozed out and tired,
with no dreams
and no future.

 But I was a good officer.

Sara Lunsford helped cage the worst of the worst, from serial killers to sex criminals. At the end of every day, when she walked out the prison gate, she had to try to shed the horrors she witnessed. But the darkness invaded every part of her life, no matter how much she tried to immerse herself in a liquor bottle. She couldn't hide from the things that hurt her, the things that made her bleed, the things that still rise up in the dark and choke her.

With a magnetic, raw voice that you won't soon forget, Sweet Hell on Fire grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. It's a hardscrabble climb from rock bottom to the new ground of a woman who understands the meaning of sacrifice, the joy of redemption, and the quiet haven to be found in hope.


  1. This sounds like a riveting read. And, I enjoy books that show a resilience in the face of severe adversity. Thanks for writing this, Sara. I look forward to reading.

    1. Thanks for commenting and I hope you enjoy the book.

  2. I discovered your books earlier this year and love your 10 days series. This book looks like it will be a lot more grittier and I look forward to reading it.

    1. Thanks, Ora! Such a pretty name.

      Yes, it's much grittier. This book is about the worst time in my life, but it's led to the best. ;)

  3. You, Sara, never cease to amaze me! I've always known you as a goddess, but your strength gives me hope for tomorrow :) I cannot wait until I have the money to buy this book! I'm in tears simply reading what you wrote here. I'm blessed to know you.

    1. Thank you, Gemma. I feel the same about you. :)

  4. Amazing blog and the book is even more of an emotional punch to the throat. Such a talented author. Great post.


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