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!


  1. Good writing that draws me in keeps me interested in a book.
    I like witty humor and realistic relationships. That will keep my coming back to an author.

  2. Good writing and good research gets me deep in a book! This one sounds like it could be really good! I love books from that period.
    Usually what brings me back is the characters....I usually want to find out more of their story. martha(at)lclink(dot)com

  3. Love this interview. Very interesting.

    As to the questions -- The characters are what draw me into a story and great stories are what keep me reading an author's work. I am partial to beautiful prose as well.

    I'd love to read this book -- sounds fascinating.

  4. When it seems as if the author has thoroughly enjoyed what she wrote, I think it shows in the story itself. That definitely keeps me in the story.
    Thanks for the interview. Loved it.

  5. Great blog today, and I love eBooks and the comments about them. Your book and writng sounds awesome. Blessings, BJ

  6. What keeps me deep in a book the Characters. I have to like and care about the characters. If I don't care I don't want to read any more.

    what brings me back to the same author. If they took me on a fun, unique adventure and I learned something along the way I'll definitely be back!

    I've seen this book on the book shelf and it looks good! I've love for my name to be put in the hat for the drawing.


    Nora St.laurent
    norafindinghope (at)

  7. A mystery or puzzle always keeps me reading. So, too, do characters I like and care about.

    Add a writing style that appears effortless (but isn't!) and I'm hooked.

  8. Please include me in this. I'd love to read your book.

  9. Thank you all for stopping by and for reading about my book, and thanks to you, too, Shirley, for inviting me. Love all of those answers. Will take them to heart as I begin writing my next book soon ...