Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This Lady Carries Around a Needle and Thread to Keep Up That Tension!

We're about to take a few minutes with Sandra Orchard, the needle and thread lady. Read on and you'll see what I mean.

Who is Sandra? We'll have to venture up Canada way to discover that.

Sandra Orchard lives in rural Southern Ontario in a one hundred year old farmhouse with her husband of over twenty years. I understand she has a menagerie of animals too. My kind of gal. 
Sandra is one of those who dreams of being a writer, while majoring in the logistical studies, such as math at university. (Sounds like a left brain, right brain lady.)

She discovered Christian fiction, she writes, following her mother's death. It was then that she gained her passion for writing. (You can read more details about this at her website.)
SDC: As we look forward to learning more about you, Sandra let’s take a couple of minutes to learn what you do after a long day of writing or revisions in a story.  What is the very first thing you do?

SO:  Play with my young pup. She never fails to bring a smile to my face.

SDC:   Doggies do have a way of demanding our time. On the subject of writing, can you remember how many rejection slips you received before you got your first contract, and if so, what did you do when you got your very first one? What then encouraged you to continue writing?

SO:  Since the CBA market for the type of books I write is fairly small, I haven’t accumulated a great deal of rejection slips. The first came from Love Inspired on my very first novel following a request from them for a full. It was so encouraging, and I’d been so surprised to get a request for a full with my first query that I wasn’t upset at all. Disappointed, yes. But more determined than ever. I immediately visited my local Christian bookstore to scout out other potential publishers. In the process, I discovered the Write! Canada conference and an entire online writing community I hadn’t known existed.

SDC:     That's great! I always seem to find at least one ghastly mistake in my novels AFTER they are published, and if anything keeps me humble that does, because it is too late to fix what is already in print.  What is the one thing that keeps you humble about being a published author, Sandra?

SO:  Becoming stuck in the middle of writing a novel. Without my brainstorming buddies, critique partners, and the Lord’s inspiration, my novels wouldn’t be nearly as strong.

SDC:   This is one of my favorite questions to ask my fellow authors. What is the SANDRA secret to writing a good book? Willing to tell us?

SO:  Have tension on every page. I write inspirational romantic suspense so there are lots of threads to juggle, and it’s imperative that the tension in all threads remains high and drives the reader forward.

SDC:   You sound like quite writing seamstress. It’s been so great having you here. Were you wanting to donate one of your books to one of our readers here at A Pen for Your Thoughts? If so, tell us about it, and also where people can go to find your books when they go searching. (We would also love a blurb)

SO: Yes, I’m giving away a signed copy of Deep Cover, the first book in my Undercover Cops series with Love Inspired Suspense. The book is available in stores like Walmart, Barnes & Noble, Chapters & Coles in Canada, as well as many grocery stores during the month of September.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Sweet Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick. He never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he's back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny's uncle. The man's crimes led to Rick's partner's death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack-dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment...and risking both their lives?

SDC: Thank you so much for that. And your website and any online purchase opportunities you might have for us?

SO: My website is I’ve also started a blog for readers called Conversations about Characters at Deep Cover should be in bookstores this coming week, but for those who prefer to purchase online, it’s available at eHarlequin (Shirley, use hyperlink: Amazon US (hyperlink: ) and Amazon Canada (hyperlink:  ) as well as other online stores.

SDC: And one final question: If you were doing a film of your book, who would you choose for your hero and heroine and why?

SO?  Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, because hey, if I’m going to dream big, I might as well have the big name actors to entice viewers to watch!

Thanks so much for sharing with us, Sandra. To our readers and viewers, I asked Sandra the question, WHAT IS HER SANDRA SECRET TO WRITING A GOOD BOOK. Now, to you the reader and writer. WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU LOOK FOR FIRST WHEN YOU OPEN A BOOK TO READ IT? Drop us a line and let us know. Don't forget to add your email. And we will slip your name in our random basket!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

As soon as she stepped aboard the S. S. Ticonderoga, she fell in love with it.

It's not  about the Titanic, but you won't want to miss this interview about JoAnn and her journey to publishing this new book of hers.

JoAnn Carter lives in Vermont with her wonderful husband of 18 years, four children and Ginger, the best dog in the world. She enjoys being with her family & friends, writing, reading, and cooking.
In the past JoAnn has worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse, an apple orchard guide, as a substitute teacher, and a home schooling mom. She is available for speaking engagements to book clubs, reader groups, library groups, women's ministry events, school events and church retreats.
SDC: Welcome, JoAnn. Let's start with this. How do you start your days with inspiration?
JC: After a good breakfast and getting the family settled, I love to start my day in the Word and with prayer. I don't think greater inspiration can be found anywhere else but at the foot of the cross. This year for the first time I'm reading the Message. I was hesitant at first since this is a paraphrase of the Bible rather than a version. However, I've grown to love the freshness of reading passages in current, everyday language. (I need to be honest though-- I keep my NIV close by and usually read the passage I'm studying in both.)
SDC:  After you tell us about your newest book, please let us know what kind of response you hope to receive from readers who have not yet come to know the Lord, or who will be influenced greatly by one of your books? 
JC: I'd love to tell you a bit about the journey of writing this story. If I've learned anything through writing it's that like in life, you never know what (or who) God will use. A few years ago, Glenn's family came up for a visit and we went to the Shelburne museum for the first time. As soon as I stepped aboard the S. S. Ticonderoga, I fell in love with it. One fact totally captured my imagination. In 1923, the first female stewardess was hired. It didn't take long for seeds to be planted for this book, The Floating Palace. (Book One of a three part series.)
Fast forward a few months...
Our family was invited to dinner at a family in our church. I don't even think host realizes what a blessing this was for me. We went downstairs to see his "toys" when a box caught my eye. He said someone in the family had given it to him, it was a treasure chest of information about... can you guess? Yup, the Ticonderoga and 1923. He let me take this box home and I was able to look through headlines of newspapers and such. That box was like an energy drink for my story. It helped me get a clearer picture of the life and times.
Guess what else I discovered about 1923? A member of our church was born this year. When I first started asking her questions about what she might know of this time period, I didn't realize this was the year of her birth. Isn't it just like God to give us sweet surprises like that? In honor of Betti, I used a derivative of her name, Ellie Dunkling. Betti is such a remarkable woman and tremendous role model for me. Although her life experiences varied greatly from the main charter in The Floating Palace, they both share the same spunk. With Betti's help, the rest of the cast was set in motion as I asked her what names were popular in Vermont when she was a girl. After our visit, I sat down with the list and chose the names according to the role they played in the story. It's a special memory for me and I enjoyed working with her on this project.
God's hand has guiding this story since the very beginning. I'm praying that He would continue to do so to accomplish His great purposes... in my life and in the lives of others.
Here's the blurb: ELLIE DUNKLING’S life long dream has been to work on one of Lake Champlain’s steamboat, the Ticonderoga. There’s only one problem. Men, not women, are hired to work on ships. Ellie, however is determined to change that. After all, it is 1923 and far from the dark-ages.

Captain PHILIP LAWHORN is a man’s man. When Champlain Transportation Inc. informs him a woman has been hired to work on his ship as stewardess, he’s anything but pleased. First, he doesn’t appreciate the fact someone’s hired on his twenty-eight-member crew without his knowledge. Secondly, how is he supposed to handle this company mandated—sure to be—disaster?
SDC: How did you find your publisher?
JC: This is a fun question. Let me grab my blog entry for that day...
It's been about a year and a half (or more) of submitting many things and receiving lots of rejection slips... so in late Aug. I went back through a list of possible publishers to bug--ah, I mean submit to. :) Then along comes a random e-mail from a dear friend mentioning a publisher I had on that list, Desert Breeze Publishing.
Fast forward a month.
Rejection letter for The Floating Palace rec'd 10/2/10 from one publisher - Query sent to Desert Breeze Pub. 10/2/10 for this historical series. That same day I get an e-mail stating not to expect to hear back until July 2010.
GULP! Looks like another possible dead-end. 10/5/10 an e-mail arrives... they like the series! UNBELIEVABLE! I can't wait to see what God will do next. I can only sit in this roller-coaster seat and enjoy the ride.
SDC: That was great fun, hearing your detailed journey to Desert Breeze. A great publishing company; I can verify too! What has sustained you recently on your down days with writing?
JC This isn't something I'm real proud of but recently it's holding a contract with a deadline. Although I love to write, sometimes it gets pushed to the back burner. A contract makes sure that doesn’t happen.
SKC:  And yet, many of us cannot deny, it still does. (Maybe I should just speak for myself.) What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book?
JC I think flexibility is key. I'm a person who loves a "PLAN." However, if God gives me other thoughts or a different direction for the plot it's key that I go with it. Why? For each book I write, I pray that God would lead the right readers to it so their faith can be encouraged. I don't know what these folks are going though, but He does. My job is just to listen.
SKC:  A listening ear is half the battle. So how do you schedule your time?
JC One day at a time. J We are a family of six with three teenagers, one pre-teen, who are all involved in sports. This year we will be home schooling our 7th grader, and there are many things, we as a family, are involved in. So, my schedule isn't firm by any means. Each day looks a bit different, yet other than Sunday, I try to write for at least an hour, then squeeze in publicity and e-mail whenever I can.
Thankfully, there are some days where I have a larger chunk of time that I can devote to my WIP's.
SKC:  Publicity, promotions, e-mails, all take a great deal of time, don't they? After you finish your present project what plans do you have?
JC Hmm. Another great question. I try to hold writing loosely in my hand...  meaning that I want to be willing to give up writing if that was what God had asked of me. (Much like the theme of this story of surrendering our dreams to Him.) After Book Two: Mercies in Disguise (February 2012) and Book Three: Shifting Sands (September 2012) are written and released, I'm hoping the Lord will direct me to what He wants me to do next.
SDC:  What question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner of your exciting new book?
JC What dream(s) do you have that you need (or have already) surrendered to God?
SDC: Woo! That's quite a question to ponder! Thanks. While we wait for responses, please let the readers know where we can reach you and where we can find your books!
JC  I'd love to! You can find me by visiting my little space on the internet at 
My stories are available at, B&N, the publishing company's web-site, as well as a few other book retailers.
*Teacher’s Plans White Rose Publishing
*Sweet Rest White Rose Publishing
*By the Book White Rose Publishing
*Smuggler of the Heart White Rose Publishing
*Daniella - Inspirational Romance, White Rose Publishing
*Paradox Desert Breeze Publishing
*The Floating Palace- Desert Breeze Publishing
Thanks for hosting me on your blog. It's an honor to be here with you and your friends today.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Drop by the Tombstone Saloon and Say Hello to Miralee!

Miralee has visited A Pen for Your Thoughts several times. What a blessing to have her join
us once again. And talk about a picture that FITS her style of writing! It's just perfect.
Come on by and spend a few moments with Miralee with me.

Miralee and her husband Allen have been married 39 yrs.
They live on 11 acres in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge
in southern Washington State, where they love to garden, play with their dogs, take walks, and go sailing. Miralee also
rides her horse on the wooded trails near their home with 
her grown daughter who lives nearby. She’s an avid reader
and has a large collection of first edition Zane Grey books,
which inspired her desire to write fiction set in the Old West.

Miralee serves as president of the Portland, Oregon,
chapter  of American Christian Fiction Writers and belongs to a number of writer’s groups.
She also speaks at women’s groups, libraries, and churches about her writing journey.
When  she started writing fiction Miralee believed that she’d always stay with women’s  contemporary, but has since branched out to historical romance.

Her fourth historical romance with Summerside Press in their Love Finds You series, set in Sundance, Wyoming just released. Miralee’s first three are set in 1877, Love Finds You in Last Chance, CA, 1902, Love Finds You in Bridal Veil, Oregon, and 1881, Love Finds You inTombstone, AZ.  The first two have a suspense thread as well as romance and the last two have a higher degree of action. 

Shirley: Welcome to the blog, Merilee. I LOVE the picture you decided to let us share! Let's start out with hearing about this new book of yours. In fact, this visit, we mostly just want to hear about you and your new book. So you're on.

Miralee: (Good to be here again, Shirley.) The book is called: Love Finds You in Sundance, WY.


Angel Ramirez is tired of living a lie. But can she learn to live like a lady?
On the run from a dangerous outlaw, Angel works her way across several states disguised as a boy and working as a varmint tracker and horse wrangler. After taking a job on a Wyoming ranch owned by a bachelor and his widowed sister, she finally reveals her true identity and must fight to prove her worth as a ranch hand while somehow discovering her role as woman.

Hiring a woman doesn’t sit well with Travis Morgan, and the dark-haired beauty is causing a ruckus among his cowboys. Just as Angel decides she’ll never be able to please her boss, an unexpected surprise arrives from across the ocean and makes trouble on the ranch. Will Angel leave with the person who’s come so far to claim her?

SKC: Sounds intriguing already. Will you share an excerpt with us?

Miralee: Here is a short excerpt:

Texas Panhandle, 1887
Angel Ramirez woke with a start, her heart pounding a rolling beat in her chest. Someone was in her room.
Inching her fingers under the edge of her pillow, her hand brushed against the cold steel of her Colt revolver. she eased the gun out and waited, allowing her vision to adjust to the partial darkness of the muggy August night. Uncle Jose had taught her to wait, never to rush when confronting an intruder -- the first shot might be her only one.
Rolling over onto her side, she pointed the gun at the door. "Who's there?"
A half moon sent tentative fingers of light through the small window near the foot of her bed and a dark form stepped forward. "It's Jose. Put your gun down, m'ija." Her uncle's accented drawl was absent -- the words short and clipped. "Get dressed and meet me outside. Hurry now." He slipped out the door and closed it carefully behind him.
Angel drew on her trousers and long-sleeved shirt, tugged on her boots, and shoved her sombrero onto her close-cropped curls. After a quick look around the room, she grabbed her rifle and headed outside. Jose raised his hand for silence and drew her into the nearby stand of trees, not far from their small, three-room cabin. "Keep your voice down. I don't want any of the men in the banda to hear."
The hair on the back of Angel's arms stood on end. "What's wrong?"
"Another cattle raid. I won't leave you behind. It's not safe for you here."
"With the men?"
"Yes. Bart Hinson's up to something."
Angel sucked in a breath between her teeth. "Hinson. He's the worst of this bunch. I don't like the way he looks at me."
Jose stifled what sounded like a curse and gripped her arm. "If anything happens to me tonight, promise me you'll ride out of here and never come back."
Her heart rate accelerated, but she patted his hand. "Nothing's going to happen to you."
He swung her toward him and leaned close, dropping his voice. "I don't trust Hinson. An outlaw banda is no place for a girl, even if you were raised here. You're eighteen and can take care of yourself away from this place." her uncle pointed to the rifle near her knee. "That rifle will take you far -- you shoot better than most men. Keep dressing like a boy and get work on ranches as a hunter or horse wrangler."

She tried to laugh off his concern, but the effort nearly choked her. "This is my home. You've had these feelings before, and you've always come back safely."
Jose placed his arm around her shoulders and squeezed. "I wish I'd made other choices years ago, m'ija. If your parents were alive, they wouldn't have chosen this life for you. I should have sent you back to your mother's people in Italy." He dug into the pocket of his denim jacket and removed a small bag. "There's gold in there -- enough to keep you a couple of years, if you're careful and work when you can."
She drew back, hating the thought of taking it. She'd never considered where Jose's money came from, but accepting a bag of gold procured from other people's loss didn't set right. besides, her uncle's words implied he might not be along. "You're scaring me."
He closed her fingers over the handful of gold. "I plan  on living for a long time, m'ija. but you must be ready." He swung away from her and called softly over his shoulder. "Saddle Bella, bring a bedroll, and put whatever you value most in your saddlebags -- quick. And whatever you do, stay close to me on the trail."
SKC: You have my interest. That's the truth. How did this book come to life?

Miralee: I'd had the idea for this book but only knew there would be a young woman raised in an outlaw band. I had no concept what she looked like or what her name might be. While drifting off to sleep one night, I saw a distinct picture of a black-haired woman in her early twenties with small bones, fine features, and wide, dark eyes. She proceeded to say, “My name is Angel. Angel Ramirez.” So, there you have it. I didn’t name Angel; she introduced herself to me. 

SKC: I love it. No one can say there's nothing in a dream. So, has this new book released yet?

Miralee: It officially released August 1. I love opening my books when they first come and reveling over the feel of something in my hands that I created. I LOVE writing Westerns.

SKC: It's only in the last couple of years, I've come to find out how much I enjoy reading them. As Christians, most of us are blessed by various scriptures we read. Do you have a special verse or Scripture passage, special to you, that you would be willing to share with us?

Miralee: I LOVE Jeremiah 29: 11-13….Verse 11 says “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I cling to that verse many times when my life hits stormy waters, knowing that God has GOOD plans for me and that my hope is in Him, not in the world or what it can offer. That’s so comforting

SKC: Great verses, I agree. Tell us where our readers can find you.


SKC: I know there are a lot of readers who love what you write, myself included. Since you've generously offered to share your newest book with us this week, what question would you like to ask them?

Miralee: Do you think Western romances (historical) are making a comeback? What do you like about historical set in the Old West & would you like to see more of them in the future?

SKC: Great question. What's your answer folks? Drop us your comments, and we'll put you in our possibility for a giveaway basket.


Congratulations to Courtney Melone of Moxee, Washington! You've just won Miralee's new book. Be watching for it soon! And thank you so much for following A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Perhaps She Really IS a Backwards Gal...

Have you ever heard of a backward interview? I just kind of activated my brain and made one up. And why not?

Some of the fine authors who contribute here at A Pen for Your Thoughts  will this time ask ME some questions about my new August 15th release of Say Goodbye to Yesterday. (Of course, some of the questions will be tweaked a little by me. Just a hint.)  We will have a question for you at the end of this backwards thing, so  one of you will get a free e-copy of my book. I hope to draw YOUR name! Please join me in seeing what the others have to say for now.

(Thanks to Linore, Mary Ann, Sandra, Linda, and Anne for your intriguing questions!)

Linore Burkard: What is the best thing about having your book come out after all the work you put into it?

Shirley: It gives me a great excuse to eat chocolate with nuts, and not feel guilty? Well, not exactly. Perhaps, Linore, it's just in knowing I finally accomplished something that I worked so hard at doing.

Linore: What is the biggest benefit readers get from reading your book?

Shirley: That they might see a little of themselves or someone they know in the characters they read about. And with that, they can see how none of us are alone in the mistakes we make throughout life.  The clue is what we do about it.

MaryAnn Diorio: (Okay, it's my turn.) When and how did you know that God wanted you to write this book, Shirley?

Shirley: Thanks for joining us, MaryAnn. I knew God wanted me to write this book even before I finished my last historical romance, Flame from Within that was gratefully picked up by Vinspire Publications. I saw much of the story happening around me, I wanted to start writing about it. So I did some research, and sure enough, the same kind of stuff was happening back in 1800s as well. So I wrote.

MaryAnn: In what ways did you sense Holy Spirit’s guidance as you wrote?

Shirley: Oh, I sensed it all right. It was in sensing something NEEDED to be said. Not only during the pre-writes but also during the re-writes. When the Holy Spirit boosts me on, I can't seem to stay away from the story. I guess I just know.

MaryAnn: How did your past experiences prepare you to write Say Goodbye to Yesterday?

Shirley: As a pastor's wife for years (my husband still ministers, but more in support now than as the lead pastor he once was), we both did a lot of counseling. I still counsel women in my Koinonia Community on a regular basis. Throughout the years, I've come across many who have gone through experiences similar to what this story is about. How I shared with them helped me work this story, deal with the conflict, and come to my ending.

Sandra Byrd:  (That's long enough MaryAnn. I want to get in on this. Okay, Shirley:) Tell me more about why the 1880s fascinated you enough to set a novel there. And how did you go about doing your research?

Shirley: After our great visit earlier this week, Sandra, I'm glad you asked decided to join us now. I love historical romance, the Victorian age, the classics that go all the way back to the Regency era and before. Not only do I love reading about that time in history, I love the preparation that goes with it through learning about that time period. I mostly love finding those hidden stories in peoples' lives that make for some pretty great stories. You wouldn't believe what you might find in some of those old diaries from way back when. I research by reading books, going online, asking questions at Hearts thru History Romance Writers, and Googling.

Sandra:  What makes a good hero in your eyes?

Shirley: A good hero will be loyal, loveable, nice to look at, strong, full of faith, or end up that way, funny, not afraid to make mistakes and then be willing to admit his wrongs and move forward. He will be VERY romantic.

Linda Ford: (Let me jump in here.) What was the hardest thing about writing this particular book?

Shirley: Getting it JUST right, Linda. Why is it that it gets too easy to think something is never EXACTLY how you want it?

Linda: (Okay, then,) what was the most fun?

Shirley: Seeing the cover when it was finished, and getting the email from my editor with the ARC attached.

Anne Albert: (Loud ahem…) You must be ready for MY questions by now. When did you first realize you were destined to write romance, Shirley? I'm dying to know.

Shirley: Well, it was either when my hormones changed, or else it was when I read my very first romance book, Anne. Actually it was way back in the 70s. I read some Civil War romance that was set in New Orleans. It had a pretty heroine on the cover kissing some guy. Kind of like a soap opera in words, I suppose. But something hit me. Then Kathleen E Woodiwiss came along, and I was a goner.

Anne:  Is there a message in Say Goodbye to Yesterday that you want readers to grasp?

Shirley: That we all make choices, and those choices we make are very affecting, but not only to us and our lives, to everyone with whom we are involved. When faith enters the picture, it speaks to an even deeper part of us. Say Goodbye to Yesterday is all about the decisions two people make, and what happens to the good and bad after they make them.

Anne: FINAL QUESTION. Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Shirley: The one that comes to my mind right now is Geraldine, Annabelle's youngest daughter in Say Goodbye to Yesterday. Readers will see she has an amazing pull on both her mother and the hero in this story. I didn't know that would happen till I wrote it. Shows how certain people can truly have an affect on others. Amazing how important it is for us to take good care of who we listen to and why. (I believe it's discernment.)
Thanks to all of you for the great and thought worthy questions!

NOW COMES MY QUESTION TO ALL WHO ARE VISITING…How About You? Of all the characters you've read in a book, or created in a book you wrote yourself, which one holds that special place in YOUR heart, and why? Write your answers! We'd love to hear from you.  I'll be sharing a copy of my new ebook with the winner of the drawing.
(Please come visit me at my new website, and drop me a hello to say you came by. It shows there all the places where you can pick up my book. CLICK HERE: Also, check out where else I'll be on my blog tour with opportunities to win.  CLICK HERE )

Congratulations to Dorothy Carver of Highland Falls, NY. I look forward to sending you one of the first copies of my brand new book, Say Goodbye to Yesterday. I really hope you enjoy it. Blessings, Shirley

Friday, August 5, 2011

Not Everyone is Willing to Share her Secrets! This author is...

Sandra Byrd has published more than three dozen books in the fiction and nonfiction markets, including her the first book in the Ladies in Waiting series, To Die For: A Novel of Anne Boleyn. For over a decade Sandra has shared her secrets with the many new writers she edits, mentors, and coaches. She lives in the Seattle, Washington, area with her husband and two children. For more Tudor tidbits, please visit her Tudor-themed website.

SKC:  Welcome for the first time as one of my GUEST authors, Sandra. Just glancing over at all the books you've written, it is clear you stay busy. That has to take patience. Tell us how you deal with your patience as a writer.

Sandra:   Up until the last year, I've had a really good balance of time spent on the job and time spent with my family, friends, and nonwriting pursuits. The balance has tipped a bit lately because of the social media interactions that all writers are involved in. Some of them I enjoy very, very much. But they do require time, so I'll be adjusting soon. Also, the research load for historical books is heavier than for contemporary. Delightful to slip into the past for several hours a day in historical nonfiction, walking the gardens with Henry VIII or learning how those lovely gowns were cared for. But that takes time, so we've been eating more take-out!  

SKC:    I ask this following question to a lot of Christian authors. What are your thoughts about inspirational writers writing Crossover Stories? And the new eBooks that have hit the eyes of the reader by storm?   

Sandra:  I believe that all people are three-dimensional: body, mind, and spirit, and when I write I try to include, in my fleshing out of the character, something of each of those dimensions. The spiritual side is therefore a natural and organic fit with the story line and the character arc. I don't necessarily specially include it for inspirational categories nor leave it out for the general market, I just try to write the people as honest to themselves and the times as possible.  My new series, Ladies in Waiting, takes place in the Tudor court at the height of the English Reformation. To leave out how personal faith influenced all of the characters would have been lopping off a natural and true part of their stories, and a part which I believe is under told in fiction.

I think eBooks are lovely. I enjoy reading them myself, and they definitely make reading more accessible to people in remote areas of the world. Often, I like to buy a book late at night when no bookstore is open, or my kids may have taken off with my car. EBooks help me to purchase right then.     

SKC:  Ah, you answered the inspirational question so beautifully. What a great way to explain something that is so important to so many of us. The story does have to bring out what would automatically be there as the characters come to life. And so often that just has to include that character's faith or lack of it. Thanks.

And I couldn't agree with you more on the Ebooks. I'm coming to love them.

You have offered to also be one of the author contributors here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, for which I'm extremely grateful. What can the viewers expect from you in the near future, Sandra?

Sandra:  I'm writing up a little filler piece with practical example on how to combine sensory information and emotion for the greatest impact on readers.   

SKC:  That will be a great follow up to some of the other writing tips we've had. Looking forward to it.

Back to your writing habits. Tell us what gets you started on those first five pages of a brand new story.

Sandra:  My deadline. :)  I do think that clearing my office of extraneous work, reviewing my historical notes, and setting the mood in my office eases me into the story. For example, I have a framed portrait of Hever Castle near my desk plus a translation of the New Testament as rendered by William Tyndale. I've been listening to the soundtrack for The Tudor's television series. And I keep a pot of pansies nearby, Queen Elizabeth's favorite flowers. Once I ease myself into the sixteenth century England, I'm reluctant to leave. I hope that's just how readers feel once they open To Die For!

SKC:  That pot of pansies would do it every time! What do you do during the waiting period when editors are looking over your manuscripts?

Sandra:  I catch up on sleep and personal reading, cook quite a bit — I love to cook — and clean my house. I walk more and exercise and go out with friends. I try not to worry about what the response will be, but of course there's a little bit of that, too.  By the time I hear back I'm usually re-energized enough to tackle edits!

SKC:  Tell us about your present project, and what plans you have afterward.

Sandra:    This series, Ladies in Waiting, is a series of three books in Tudor England, each story being told from the point of view of one of the Queen's closest friends. From a young age, we women are wired for friendship. Little girls link arms in exclusivity with one another on the playground.  The most devastating betrayals during our middle and high school years often come not from boys but from the friends we thought loved us and in whom we'd trusted.   I have several friends with whom I've been close for more than twenty years and I know they have my back, and I, theirs, no matter what.  So when I began to write novels set in the Tudor period I wondered, who were these Queens' real friends, those who would remain true in a treacherous court?  Ovid wrote, "While you are fortunate you will number many friends, when the skies grow dark you will be alone." 

I began with Anne Boleyn and her close friend, Meg Wyatt.  Book Two, which releases next year and is called The Secret Keeper, is about Kateryn Parr and one of her maids of honor. The third book will be set in the Elizabethan Court.

Your readers might like to visit my blog to find some delicious Renaissance recipes or learn more about knights and ladies. Or take a walk through the Castles and Palaces page on my site, or visit the Tudor Hall.

SKC: Sounds great. I'll be coming by myself. What would you like to ask our viewers this week about either writing or having that love to read? (I hope to use the answers to draw the winner to your chosen book.)

 Sandra:  What keeps you deep in a book, and what about a particular author's work brings you back to his or her next book?

SKC: Excellent questions. Please let us know where we can find your books. (And by the way, I absolutely LOVE your book cover this time. It makes me want to grab your book right now!)

Sandra:  Please visit me online at my website; you can also link to me on Facebook and Twitter from there.  I hope your readers will also sign up for my e-postcards (where I am also giving away two Kindles) so I can keep in touch!

Sounds great!
Okay, folks... Do you see Sandra's questions above? We are looking forward to your responses. I hope you'll be the one to win her wonderful book! I'll repeat her questions one more time, and then we'll wait to hear from you.



Congratulations to Nora St Laurent of Suwanee, GA. You'll be hearing from Sandra soon!