Laurie: When did you first dream of being a writer and what steps did you take to follow your dream?
Sandy Lender: I started on this dream of being a writer when I was a little kid. I used to write stories for my great grandmother and she’d share them with folks in her apartment building. Then I’d write stories that involved chapters, but I’d start with the table of contents and try to assign page numbers to the chapters by guessing how long each would be. That didn’t work so well. To make the dream take shape in the “real world,” I took creative writing classes in high school and got a degree in English with an emphasis in journalism/communications in college. I also took more creative writing classes in college and got involved in some magazine and journal projects as extracurricular activities. Once I had a completed manuscript as an adult, I sought an agent (waste of time), and pitched my novel to a publisher. Voila! Dream came true!
Laurie: What do you find most challenging about being a writer? What do you love most?
Sandy Lender: At this point in my life, the most challenging aspect of being a writer is finding time to write fiction. That’s also the part I love most. I have time for my journalism (that’s the day job, actually) and for marketing/promotional writing, but I find it a struggle to make time for fiction writing.
Laurie: In addition to writing, what are your other passions and why?
Sandy Lender: I’m passionate about sea turtle conservation (check the links section of my Web site), Charlotte Bronte and her sisters (because they are amazing and awe-inspiring), Duran Duran (because they have provided the soundtrack for my life), companion parrots (because mine rule my life and provide TONS of entertainment), and probably many other things I’m neglecting to mention. You can become my friend on Facebook and see some of the craziness…
Laurie: What characters in your books are most like you and why?
Sandy Lender: I think I empathize with Abigail Farrier the most. She’s been in love with the shadow of a dream… And yet readers send me mail telling me Abigail must die…
Laurie: So tell us: What comes first in your writing process? A scene, characters, title?
Sandy Lender: The characters always come first. I had a situation recently where I thought I had a plot in mind first…but no. There were a couple of characters whispering from behind some blob in my brain telling me the story. It started with characters, too. I’m not someone who typically follows an outline, but I did for a recent writing-binge contest and it went very well.
Laurie: Where do you get your ideas? And what do you do if your muse decides to take a vacation?
Sandy Lender: I get ideas from everywhere. There’s actually a cute little story in the “letter to visitors” on my new Web site (http://www.authorsandylender.com) about an embarrassing incident that led to a short story in my series-supporting chapbook WHAT CHOICES WE MADE. The great news is my muse is always with me. And he has competition right now. A second muse has shown up demanding attention. So the two of them duke it out…
Laurie: Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on now?
Sandy Lender: I’m editing/re-writing Book III of the CHOICES trilogy; working on a young adult fantasy series that keeps me laughing when I visit those characters; working on edits to a paranormal romance I wrote a couple years ago so it’ll be ready for a pitch session this spring; working on research for a funky fiction piece I’ll write during NaNo; and trying to keep these two muses from killing each other.
Laurie: Also, feel free to share a bio, blurb, excerpt, &/or promo for your book that you’d like me to post before the interview to attract attention. And giveaways, if any.
The ladies at GoddessFish should have my bio, the Choices Meant for Kings blurb & excerpt available to you.
Laurie: What stumbling blocks have you encountered and how have you overcome them?
Sandy Lender: Oh…no…we shouldn’t go into this here. Let’s keep this positive and upbeat. In a nutshell: The great news is my bankruptcy was approved so I got out from under a foreclosure I’d been fighting on the house my now ex-husband left me with and I beat cancer all in within a few months of each other. I AM WOMAN! HEAR ME ROAR! WOO-HOO!
Laurie: Wow, it’s amazing that you can still keep writing after all that. I’ve included a blurb from Sandy’s latest book, Choices Meant for Gods here:
Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way.
When prophecies stack up to threaten an arrogant deity, Chariss must choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
And here’s an excerpt:
A Tense Little Excerpt From Choices Meant for Kings
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
You won’t find this excerpt anywhere except Sandy’s current online book tour…
As the soldier stepped toward him, Nigel reached out his arm and caught him by the neck. He slammed the captain against the far wall. He pinned him there with his body, leaning against the man as if he could crush the wind from him with his presence.
He brought his face close to the soldier’s ear and spoke lowly, fiercely, so that no one could have overheard him. The menace and intent behind the words was as surprising to the captain as the words themselves.
“I asked you to accompany [Chariss] on this journey tomorrow because I have faith in your sword, and until this moment I trusted you to keep your distance from her. Now, I find her down here at your side with a look upon your face that suggests more than you realize. So help me, Naegling, the only thing that stays my hand is how displeased she would be if she learned that I sliced you open.”
“The look you see is merely my concern for her honor. Nothing more.”
“I’m not a fool. And I’ll use every last piece of Arcana’s treasury to pay the prophets to justify my reasons for marrying that woman, so you can unconcern yourself with her honor.”
Hrazon stepped off the staircase then and saw Nigel pressed against his guard.
“I still believe you’re one of the best soldiers Arcana’s ever seen,” Nigel continued, “and I want you at her side for this journey, but, so help me, Naegling, she comes back alive and well and not confused in the least about her affections for me, or I will string you up from a tree in the orchard and attach your intestines to your horse’s saddle before I send it—”
Hrazon cleared his throat. “Excuse me. Is there an issue here I should address?”
Laurie: Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Sandy, do you have any questions would you like to ask your blog readers before we end?
Sandy Lender: You know, I’ve been on many blogs and have a presence on tons of Web sites and book-buying sites. Where do readers like to go to look for new authors or new books? Which sites do you trust to give you good info about the author and the book? Thanks for sharing your opinions!
Laurie: If you answer Sandy’s question or just leave a comment, you’ll have a chance to win. I’ll let Sandy tell you about the prize she’s offering.
Sandy Lender: I’m going to give away a first-edition, hardcover, autographed copy of Choices Meant for Gods to one lucky blog visitor at the end of the tour, so please leave a comment with your e-mail address in it so we can get back to you if you’re a winner.
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”