SS: I love the happily ever after (or happily for now). I love seeing how characters have to work together in order to achieve that, all the while battling constant interruptions and life’s ills.
AN: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
SS: When I realized that being a cake decorator was not in my future LOL That’s what I wanted to be as a ten-year-old. A cake decorator or a writer. Since cake’s are beyond me and I have an affinity for telling a story, guess which one I picked?
AN: How long did it take for you to become published and how did you deal with the challenges?
SS: It took about a year of trying, failing and getting up again. I say this often in interviews. Just because you’ve written a book does not mean you’ve written a book. LOL There is much to learn about the craft of writing. I can’t wait to see what else I’ll learn during the course of my career.
Remember that rejections are a part of it. You’ll get them—even after you’ve been published. Give yourself a day to dwell then move on. Keep writing. That’s the key to dealing with it. It may seem like you’ll never reach that publishing goal, but if you keep at it, someone will say yes.
AN: Well, I’m sure readers everywhere are glad you held on to your dream to become an author! Sandra has a cute, uplifting new release entitled Not Just Make Believe, written in the contemporary romance genre! Share a little bit about this holiday treat!
SS: This book is about an assistant manager at a hotel, Andie, who suddenly experiences a change in her job description when she’s told to be a temporary nanny to a strong-willed nine-year-old. The trouble is, the child’s guardian, Max is a stockbroker dealing with the sadness and the fact he survived 9/11. Even though Andie doesn’t know much about rearing children, she knows that Max and Piper need to reconnect and understand each other because they’re family. Somewhere in the mix, Andie falls for Max and well the ending will surprise you…you’ll have to read the book to see why.
AN: Wow! Not Just Make Believe sounds like a fantastic story with a heartwarming message just in time for the holidays! What was the inspiration behind this book?
SS: Actually, my niece Jessica inspired this story. When she was about the age that Piper is in the book, she said “I think you should write a story about a girl who lives in a hotel.” So, I thought about it, put my own spin on it, dumped the whole story into a romance and set it at Christmastime. Awesome, no?
Actually, Not Just Make Believe had two previous titles before this one was selected. It’s been a long road for publication with this story, but I’m beyond thrilled that Desert Breeze picked it up.
AN: You’ve written a lot of books. Can you tell me if there is a personal favorite and why?
SS: Hmm, personal favorite? Not Just Make Believe is a front runner. Two others would be a sci-fi novella that will come out next fall or a pirate novella that will come out in the spring.
Sometimes, there are stories that really stick with me. I’ll read through them and be amazed that I actually wrote those words. The characters are strong or quirky and I really had a great time writing their book. That’s one of the things I love about writing.
AN: Do you have favorite food or ritual that helps you get in the zone to write?
SS: Nope. Sometimes I’ll have the TV on in the background just for noise. Rarely do I listen to music—unless I’m writing a particularly hard love scene. Sometimes, I’ll listen to upbeat love songs to get me pumped to write.
The trick is to just sit your butt down and write. Chocolate helps though…
AN: You’ve found a time machine that would allow you to pick one author from our literary past to have lunch and talk shop. Who would it be and why?
SS: Mark Twain. He pushed the envelope and wrote about real life, not matter that it might have been uncomfortable for his contemporaries. Oh wait, his books are still uncomfortable for people today. LOL
AN: You been invited to lunch to talk shop with your favorite author of today. Who would it be and why?
SS: That one’s a tough call. There are many authors I like, but to pick one? I can’t do that.
AN: What's the one thing you’d like to share with aspiring authors that you wished you had of known at the beginning?
SS: First, don’t give up. Ever. Second, 90 percent of what people tell you is wrong. Don’t listen to the noise. Listen to what your heart tells you. Write what you love and don’t follow trends. They’ll do nothing for you and you’ll always be a dollar short. Third, keep writing, no matter what. It only takes one yes to break through.
AN: Tell me one thing your readers would be surprised to know about you!
SS: Well, there was this one time when I…oh, but wait. I think it’s privileged information and I’m saving that story for Oprah! LOL
All kidding aside, I’m a reader and a writer. I love to bake when I’m stuck in a story. I love Disney and my husband. Everything else, well, you’ll just have to wait and find out!
AN: Sandra, thank you so much for stopping by Poetry, Prose and Print today! I can't wait to read Not Just Make Believe which is available today! Happy release day and I wish you all the best with this book and others to come!
A thoughtful expression crossed Max's features as the elevator doors opened at the ping on the appropriate floor. "Andrea, I believe I owe you an apology for teasing you yesterday as well as a thank you for your excellent care of Piper."
As my Great Aunt Sadie used to say… "You bet your sweet bippie you do!"
What I said was, "I'm just doing my job. I hope she's back to her devilish self." Before I could get off the elevator, Max hit the Close Door button. "What are you doing? That's my floor." Oh my Lord, he was a stalker! Howie would be surprised when he found out he had been duped by the rich and famous. I could just see the headline now: Up and coming assistant hotel manager stalked and killed by a notable mover and shaker. Charges won't be sought…
"You're going to dinner with me this evening." It was a statement. He punched the illuminated button for the Lobby and we proceeded downward.
"Thanks for the invite, but I couldn't possibly accept. It's against company policy to accept gifts from clients. Not to mention, I just got off work and my clothes smell like the monkey house at the zoo."
Don't ask how I knew this. It's not a flattering story for me or the monkey.
A glance down at my outfit confirmed my description. Rumpled black skirt, white button down shirt with a yellow stain over my left boob--I have no idea what it was-- and black heels. Not exactly the outfit of the dining elite. That is to say if I were actually going to dinner with him, which I was most definitely not.
When the elevator doors slid open at the Lobby, I quickly hit the seventh floor button and the doors swung closed again. Good thing we were the only ones in the car or else I would surely be in trouble. I could just hear the lecture Howie would heap upon my head. He would probably give it in front of all the staff, just to make an impression.
Of course, he would!
The elevator cars are not for your own personal amusement. I snickered as my eyes slid to Max. My idea of personal enjoyment would include a can of whipped cream and a bare-chested Max…With a start, I realized he was talking to me.
"Andrea, listen, I'll clear it with Howard. You can go as a personal favor to me." He smiled cordially to the people waiting on the seventh floor as the doors swung open. "I'm sorry, but there seems to be an issue in this car. Would you mind waiting on the second one?"
I rolled my eyes when the women tittered and nodded and the men grumbled but agreed.
With a look of triumph, Max hit the Lobby button. He was already taking out his cell phone.
What nerve this guy had! Who did he think he was? I felt my blood pressure start to rise. I had already worked a nine-hour day, which had been chock full of complaining customers and a dog that had piddled on one of the sofa cushions in the Lobby. Yeah, the Stansbury had that mythical anti-pet policy but the same fussy woman kept bringing her stupid dog and Howard kept letting her stay.
Now I had to deal with a man who apparently thought that he was God.
Stop the world, I want to get off!
How about if I just grew a backbone and put a stop to all of this right now? After this little pep talk to myself, I hit the seventh floor button again as we arrived at the Lobby. "Absolutely not! I'm going to relax in my room, order room service, and watch mindless television for the rest of the night." I grinned at the surprise on his face. "Oh, did you think you were the only one who lived here? It's part of my benefits package. At least I don't have to pay rent."
I glanced up at the humor in his voice and was immediately irritated. To top it all off, he had dimples when he smiled. Once again, I was the head float in my own freak parade.
"I'll take care of it, Andrea." He punched the Lobby button and gave me a commanding glance that clearly said stay put. "I would really like to have dinner with you. That's all."
That was the last straw. "There are other people in the world, you know. We don't all kowtow to your every whim." I hit the lighted seven button.
Up we went.
Max hit the Lobby button, determined to win in the battle of wills.
My fingers curled into fists until my nails bit into my palms. "You're not listening to me." Without thinking, I methodically hit every single button on the panel, until all the little numbered circles were lit up. I gritted my teeth and tried to regulate my breathing, but when my eyes met Max's dark gaze, a tiny flame of desire flared in my gut. This was not a good sign.
Two things happened simultaneously.
First off, the elevator car shuddered to a violent stop somewhere between the tenth and Penthouse floors, throwing me against Max. Second, I guess Max chose that opportunity to completely lose his mind. Before I could do much more than blink at him in surprise, his arms snaked around my waist, and he kissed me. There's no other way to tell the story. Not a swift peck on the cheek, grandma-style. It was one of those old-fashioned curl-your-toes kinds of kisses that you would see on old movies where the heroine pops her foot up behind her. Max's lips covered mine with a warm pressure that was gentle and insistent. Shivers of excitement raced up my spine when his fingers traced circles on my back.
My traitorous body decided he was non-threatening after all and started to press itself up against the solid mass that was Max. Before I could analyze why butterflies stirred in my stomach, the moment was over.
As first kisses go, it was quite delicious. But, my foot did not pop.
In case you were wondering.