Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
There’s a big piece of myself in every heroine I write; and I guess in my heroes, too, since they’re always built from my list of ideals about the perfect guy. I think every experience I have in life makes its way into a story or a character or a plot or a locale. Probably a good indicator that I was born to write!
I agree with that. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Quirky. That’s a good word to describe me. A common one, too. I’m not sure if I can narrow it down to the one quirkiest thing, but the one that seems to be the most memorable (and most often discussed in family circles) came at a very young age. When my two playmates wanted to “play pretend” and they came up with personas such as go-go dancers and movie stars, I insisted on being The Virgin Mary instead. I placed a blue pillowcase on my head and started telling the Bible story about there being no room at the inn. Over the years, my mom must have told that story a hundred times!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
In the 6th grade, there was a class assignment to choose one image from a collage of them and write a story about it. Afterward, my teacher sent a note home to my parents for a meeting and proceeded to tell them that he’d never encountered such a vivid imagination at such a young age.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love to read and, over the years, I’ve moved pretty exclusively into the inspirational genres because I just didn’t like exposing myself to some of what has slipped into the American vernacular through books, movies and television. I love suspense and adventure, from Frank Peretti to Colleen Coble, and romantic comedy like Kristin Billerbeck. There’s real value in a story that’s told in vivid images, and one that makes me feel something, whether it’s by bringing on a belly laugh or by making me jump and hold my breath.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I did a lot of writing before I finally started to find my voice. But my first “sale” was an e-book to a tiny Christian company called MountainView Publishing. Dear Suzanne was told completely in letters between two best friends. Then Erin Cartwright-Niumata and Avalon Books came into my life. They published a romantic comedy called unWANTED: Husband, and then a romantic suspense called Change of Heart. My editor loved the suspense and asked me to write a sequel, Sins of the Past, and then that was followed up with another comedy, Wish I Weren’t Here. All the while, I was trying to break into the inspirational market … and then God sent Rachel and Jason from Summerside Press. (Thank You, Lord)
I know. My first book for Summerside will come out next year. I'm looking forward to working with them. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
One word: Jesus. I hope that doesn’t sound trite because I’m completely sincere. When I’m stressed, when I’m scared, when I’ve been treated unfairly or lashed out at someone in anger … no matter what the situation, I wouldn’t be able to stay sane or find peace or enjoy the grace He always offers without that deep knowledge that He’s mine, and I’m His. My mom used to have a plaque over her desk, and it now hangs over mine, that says: Lord, help me remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that you and I can’t handle together. It’s the deepest truth I know.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Lots of different ways. I keep a list of interesting names that I hear or read. And I have baby books in my office that tell the meanings and originations.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
It changes weekly. Last week, I only cheated on my diet twice. That was pretty amazing. This week, I figured out how to use the screwdriver with the clicky thingie that makes it turn without lifting it out of the groove.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Oh, I’d be a dog. I love dogs. Preferrably, I’d be a perky Old English Sheepdog and live in the house of my friends Jemelle and Alberto. The way they treat their dogs, THAT would be quite a life!
What is your favorite food?
Again, it changes weekly. Some weeks it’s as simple as a perfect square (or three) of Ghiradelli chocolate. Others, I can’t eat enough strawberries. But I’m sorry to tell you that there’s never a day that passes when a Wendy’s cheeseburger doesn’t rock my world.
We have a local chain called Chaps. Their Baby Chaps is just right for me. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
My greatest roadblock as a writer has always been the same: Finding people who GET ME. My humor, my sensibilities, the things that move me … they’re not always the same as what affect other people. But every now and then, someone comes along who connects with something I’ve written, and the feeling is indescribable.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Don’t avoid (or ignore) the rejections. In the beginning, they’re torturous, but every editor or critique partner or contest judge that finds something to say about your work that hurts is worth hearing and considering. Down the road, you’ll start to see that those bad things will make you a far better writer when they start to blend in with the good ones.
What would you like to tell us about the featured book?
My experience with Summerside has been the best of my career. The collaborative effort of putting this book together has made for such a fun ride. Lucy is my favorite heroine that I’ve ever written, and we’ve had such a good time exploring Snowball and letting Love Find Us.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
There’s also a video trailer for my book that people can have a look at, if they’d like:
Thank you, Sandra, for spending this time with us. I can hardly wait to read your book.
Readers, you can order the book here:
Or, you can leave a comment and hope you're the one chosen to receive the free book.