Welcome, Sandra. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I think there is a little bit of me in every character I write—even the antagonists. My hopes and dreams are funneled into their souls, my struggles with the Lord and my joy in overcoming doubts with Him. I find that I can rehabilitate past wounds, perhaps some that have never healed, by healing them through my characters. There’s a smattering of me in each of them.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Dyed my hair Lucille Ball red.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I went to college on a writing scholarship, and once there, I got scared. I thought, who gets published? No one! How will I pay back my student loans? The odds seemed stacked against success, so I changed my major to business and got a degree in real estate/construction management. Later, after I became a Christian, I felt like the Lord was showing me: Don't look at the odds, keep your eyes on me, God, like Peter did when he was upon the water. God is not subject to odds. We will achieve all the good works he has prepared for us, in advance, to do. There is nothing that you are called to do that you cannot do but also no way to open a door He has shut. Once we get a hold of that, it's easy to walk away from fear.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love, and have always loved, reading every genre from picture books clear through to heavy, heavy nonfiction research books. I truly was the proverbial kid reading the back of the cereal box when I was a kid. One year, early in our marriage, my husband teased that he was going to tattoo himself with newsprint so I would pay more attention to him!
I’m sure my husband feels that way, too. I, too, literally will read the back of the cereal box if there isn’t anything else to read. That’s why there are other books waiting on the end of my table, so I’ll have something to read if I should finish a book while I’m sitting there. Of course, I don’t read if he is at the table with me. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I have scheduled date times with my husband and planned times with my grown children and friends. Right now, when the weather is good, I try to walk an hour and a half outside, each day, many times listening to the Bible on Audible. I love watching British television.
We missed it when it was on, so I ordered each season of Downton Abbey. We are almost finished watching the sixth season. How do you choose your characters’ names?
I begin with lists of names from the place and era, and then I sift through and see which names “fit” my characters. For Bride of a Distant Isle, I wanted to use the name Annabel, to tie in with Edgar Allan Poe’s poem, “Annabel Lee.” Thankfully, it worked!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising honest, hardworking children who love and trust in God.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would probably be my dog, a Havanese because I like to cuddle, I’m social, and I can get anxiously overworked if I let myself!
What is your favorite food?
Italian doppio with steamed cream. I love all coffee drinks, with excellent, freshly ground beans. I don't put sugar in my coffee drinks, normally, so you can taste the richness of the roast and the quality of the cream.
And cheese. Really good cheese.
Tell us about the featured book.
Miss Annabel Ashton is a teacher at the
for Young Ladies in Winchester when she takes a
brief visit to her family home, Highcliffe Hall at Milford-on-Sea. She believes her stay will be
short but soon learns that she will not be returning to the safety of the
school. Instead, she remains at Highcliffe, at the mercy of her cousin, Edward Everedge.
Annabel protests, but as the illegitimate daughter of a woman who died in an insane asylum, she has little say. Edward is running out of money and puts the house up for sale to avoid financial ruin. He insists that Annabel marry, promising her to a sinister, frightening man. But as the house gets packed for sale, it begins to reveal disquieting secrets. Jewelry, artifacts, and portraits mysteriously appear, suggesting that Annabel may be the true heir of Highcliffe.
She has only a few months to prove her legitimacy, perhaps with assistance from the handsome but troubled Maltese Captain Dell’Acqua. But does he have Annabel’s best interests at heart?
And then, a final, most ominous barrier to both her inheritance and her existence appears: a situation neither she nor anyone else could have expected. Will Annabel regain her life and property—and trust her heart—before it’s too late?
Just the kind of story I like to read. Please give us the first page of the book.
on Sea, Hampshire, England
I had no warning before evil befell me.
Edward had abruptly recalled me to Highcliffe, but why now? It was not as if we'd often holidayed together, or enjoyed one another's companionship. In fact, over the course of our adult years I'd been home infrequently and we'd been mostly separated, at school, years before that. Grandfather was long dead, as were Edward's parents. Pretense could be done away with. Perhaps he'd had a sudden, inexplicable longing for family now we two were all that remained.
The day after I arrived, I walked from the house, now crumbling, across the green lawn, now thinning, toward the Edge of the World, to gather my thoughts. I'd forgotten how the sea around Highcliffe relentlessly pounds the land, undermining it so fiercely that the earth quickens, churns, and slips; the breakers smother all sound, throwing off thickly salted mist that clouds vision like a cataract. For this reason, I had no signal that someone was approaching. Instead, I suddenly felt his breath curdling in my ear.
The whispering started.
Wow! Nothing like a hook that will make us have to get a copy of the book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Everything about my books and all of my social media links can be found at www.sandrabyrd.com. If you are an author and would like to consider having a writing coach come alongside you, or looking for a developmental editor, please visit me at www.novelcoaching.com.
Thank you, Sandra, for sharing this new book with us. I know my readers as as eager to read it as I am.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Bride of a Distant Isle - Christianbook.com
Bride of a Distant Isle: A Novel (The Daughters of Hampshire) - Amazon
Bride of a Distant Isle: A Novel (The Daughters Of Hampshire) - Kindle
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link: