I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Visit with Debut Author Sandra Orchard (& Book Giveaway)

Roxanne: I’m delighted to have Debut Author Sandra Orchard visit today. Sandra has sold three novels to Love Inspired Suspense. Her first book, Deep Cover, hits bookstores' shelves in September and can be pre-ordered on eHarlequin or Amazon. Read how Sandra got "The Call" here. Sandra, some of my friends are thrilled to have sold their first novel—and I’m thrilled for them—however, they’re suffering from “second-book syndrome” as they’re under more pressure to write a selling manuscript then they were while writing the first book. Before selling your first story, how many novels had you written?
Sandra: Six. Plus major rewrites to three of those, in addition to the usual revision process.
Roxanne: Wow, that's impressive. How has having six manuscripts written before selling helped as you’ve launched your career?
Sandra: The sixth manuscript was the second book LIS bought and I was very grateful it was ready to submit as soon as the offer for the first came in. While I was waiting for a response to that full (about four months), I wrote book three, which has just sold. I’m in the process of doing major revisions on that one now. If I hadn’t written so many other manuscripts prior to this, and learned as much as I did in the process, I don’t think I could’ve written the book well enough in that time.
Roxanne: That's good to know. So how long have you been writing?
Sandra: Six years.
Roxanne: During that time, how did you keep yourself motivated to write, while waiting to sell the first book?
Sandra: Connecting with fellow aspiring writers through online groups like American Christian Fiction Writers, Faith, Hope & Love, and My Book Therapy were huge factors in staying motivated. God always gave me nudges of encouragement just when I needed them, such as becoming a finalist in the Genesis, placing in some other contests (especially winning the Daphne DuMaurier), editor requests (the rejections that followed not so much), and divine appointments such as “happening” upon critique partners, the delivery of my Romance Writers of America magazine to the wrong address, which led to becoming connected with a local writing group and my two best brainstorming buddies.
Roxanne: Don't you just love those divine appointments! What's your writing schedule?
Sandra: I’m typing the answers to these questions at 6:30 am while on vacation. Need I say more? I write at every opportunity. Lately, that writing is taking the form of blog writing. But whether it’s marketing, plotting, revising, or writing new words, I typically spend several hours a day working at the business, sometimes as much as twelve. My most productive time tends to be late at night after my internal editor has gone to bed.
Roxanne: I love sending the "internal editor" to bed. Are you a plotter or do you write by-the-seat-of-your-pants?
Sandra: Plotter.
Roxanne: Writing suspense, you'd pretty much have to plot. Where do you find inspiration?
Sandra: Everywhere. I was at a party recently and the person serving cake is going to be in a future book. As soon as I saw what she was doing, that’s what I thought, and then started building on the characterization as I observed how other people responded to the woman’s uh-hmm, shall way say rather unhygienic means of serving.
Roxanne: Yikes! That woman does sound like a character. Think back a moment. What do you wish you’d done? What would you do differently?
Sandra: I wish I’d focused on writing for Love Inspired Suspense from the beginning. They were always my goal, but because almost every editor I spoke to at conferences invited me to submit, I kept trying to write each story both long and short to straddle the fence between category and single title when they are two completely different animals.
Roxanne: That's good to know. What other advice do you have for aspiring novelists?
Sandra: Don’t be in a hurry to submit your work to editors. Generally speaking, each story only has one chance at any particular agency—whether agent or editor. Make sure it’s the best it can be before you submit. That means asking people who don’t love you to read and critique it. Study the work of the debut novelists your targeted publisher is publishing to better understand what they are looking for. Established authors can get away with a lot more than an untried author.
Sandra’s Seven Tips of a Successful Novelist:
1) Write every day.
2) Read every day.
3) Never stop studying the craft.
4) Stop wasting time on the internet. TV. Write.
5) Connect with fellow writers.
6) Study God’s Word.
7) Revise, revise, revise.
Roxanne: Thanks so much for all your advice, Sandra.
* * *
Deep Cover is the first book in the series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line.
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?
What reviewers are saying about Deep Cover:
“4 Stars. Great job…a good mystery, interesting characters and a satisfying ending.” ~ Romantic Times
“5 stars. A fast-paced, exciting, romantic story and awesome, fresh writing…” ~ Goodreads reader
“Rarely do I pick up a book to help myself relax before bed, only to see the breaking of day before I even put it down again…” ~Andi Harris, Book Reviews
Book 2 ~ Shades of Truth ~ March 2012 -- A compassionate youth worker fighting to preserve her dying father’s legacy battles the justice-driven detective who threatens her mission and her heart.
Book 3 ~ Dose of Deception ~ TBA (title tentative) -- A nurse. An undercover cop. A killer who’ll stop at nothing to avoid being caught.
Sandra Orchard lives in rural Ontario, Canada where inspiration abounds for her romantic suspense novels set in the fictional Niagara town she's created as their backdrop. Married with three grown children, when not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God's beautiful creation.
Connect with Sandra Online:
Visit her website ~ www.SandraOrchard.com
Visit her personal blog ~ http://www.SandraOrchard.blogspot.com
Like her Facebook Page ~ www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard
Subscribe to her newsletter ~ http://bit.ly/OrchardNews

***We're giving away a copy of Sandra's book, Deep Cover. So, tell us, what did you think of Sandra's Seven Tips for a Successful Novelist? Is there one you need to focus on? Would you add anything to her list? Leave a comment below for a chance to win Sandra's book.***


  1. Great interview, Roxanne. And great tips. I really like Sandra's advice to study debut authors...and since I can't win her book ;), I think I'll pop over to Amazon and buy it. It sounds really good.

  2. Great post, Sandra and Roxanne. I knew a lot of this from interviewing her for the My First Sale column, but it was fun to hear she was even writing on vacation. Writing is one of those vocations we can take anywhere.

    Skip TV to write??? Forego my NCIS??? Please say it isn't so! :) Just kidding.

    I'm so excited to reading this series!

    Sandra, how to you balance weaving in the suspense elements with the romance with a tight word count?

  3. Hi everyone. It's great to be here. Thanks Roxanne for the interview and Pat for buying my book!!! I forgot to include that tip of studying debut authors to see what the editor is buying these days.
    Lisa, that's a good question. I don't do it in the first draft that's for sure. Generally, I focus on getting the suspense plot on the page first and then layer in the romantic tension on the second pass.

  4. What a great interview, Sandra and Roxanne! I always love reading about authors I haven't heard of yet. Your series sounds great, Sandra!
    With young children, time is at a premium. I really have to work on using the time that I have each day to write, and not allowing the internet to eat it up.
    Thanks for your encouragement and for sharing your wisdom, Sandra!

  5. Great interview - thanks for bringing it to us, Roxanne, and for being a willing interviewee, Sandra! :) Loved the part about how you wrote six books before your first sale. That's mega encouragement to me...and your seven tips, awesome!

  6. I love hearing authors' stories, i.e.their journey along the writing road.
    And I also love to glean wisdom from them--and, Sandra, you've got a lot of wisdom to share. Love your list of seven. Can't think of anything you've missed, except I'd repeat #7, or maybe intersperse it throughout the other numbers.
    I think I'll join Pat over at Amazon too!

  7. Thanks Jeanne, Melissa and Beth, you all sure know how to make a gal feel welcome. Here's another tidbit to encourage perseverance, Melissa. The author of "The Help" (now a movie coming out) received 60 rejections over several years on various revisions of the book, but she refused to give up...personally, I would have at least started another book, but agent 61 signed her on, sold it in a couple of weeks, and the rest as they say is history.

  8. Hi Sandra! Congratulations on your three book deal. My sister is a huge fan of the Love Inspired and Heartsong books. I'm sure she'll enjoy reading Deep Cover, too! I especially enjoyed reading your writer's tips list. The only thing I would change is to move #6 straight to the top. I find that I can't write a single great thing without spending time with God first. :) Keep writing, and have fun doing it!

  9. Hi Andrea, I totally agree with your advice, and thought the same thing as I read through the interview this a.m. That's so true.
    Sadly, your sister will have to settle for LI books alone come 2012, as the Heartsong bookclub is folding.

  10. How fun to read about other authors. Love your cover Sandra! Great job with the interview Rocky!

  11. Thanks Reba, I'm pleased with how much input LI lets us have on cover art. We're never really sure what they'll go with in the end. But I was delighted with their choice.

  12. Last week I asked my editor for the name and email of the person who did my cover. I just sent the cover artist a thank you note for the beautiful work she did on the cover of Lakeside Reunion. I'm so pleased we're allowed to share information about the characters and setting so they have something to work with.

  13. Sandra, Thanks so much for all your great advice. I really appreciate your visit with the Ponderers! I'll announce a winner for Deep Cover on the next post.

  14. I'm not a writer but a reader. I think that tips #4&6 are key for every aspect of success. I always enjoy reading the interviews with writers. Congratulations on having the perserverance to succeed Sandra.

  15. Oh!Oh!Oh!

    Started reading Deep Cover. I'll hate myself in the morning when I have to drag myself out of bed at 5 with only 4 hours sleep!

    Great book Sandra!

  16. Thank you, Octopus Mom Love your handle . Every mom needs eight hands. That's so fun!

  17. Roxanne, can't wait to see who wins. Hope 1st day of school was a success for your son!

    Pat, thanks so much. I did keep one reader up until 4 am. I gotta admit that I was thrilled to get that letter since I'd written just about the same letter to Susan May Warren!! So I'd like to say sorry for keeping you up, but...well... :)

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  19. I went to high school with Sandra back when we were both just writing songs and poetry. What a THRILL to see her accomplish these goals and share really valuable lessons with others — and do so for God's glory! I've had the privilege of observing her writing process (and learning my own lessons from it) from afar (Minnesota) and have been tremendously impressed and inspired by her ability to write with such a disciplined and humble heart and mind. Right now I'm praying that this terrific interview helps many other writers grow in excellence and passion to share Christ-centered lessons and inspiration for life. I'm so grateful for you, Sandra!

  20. Great post and good dialogue here. Very helpful.

  21. Amen to that, Lisa. Thanks for stopping by...and saying such sweet things about me :)

  22. Thanks for stopping by, D. Roxanne had lots of great questions...and truth be told the first bunch were meant for my hero and I goofed, but I think it turned out okay :)

  23. Octopus Mom, Congratulations on winning the book. I hope you enjoy it!