Monday, November 30

Not Just Make Believe by Sandra Sookoo

AN: Today, I'm welcoming Sandra Sookoo! First things first . . . why write romance?

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!

Get your copy here!

Enjoy the sneak peek below!

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."
"Very efficient."
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.

Guest Authors Blogging at PPP!

I'm very excited to announce Poetry, Prose, and Print will be interviewing and welcoming many authors to share their own journey to publication and dish about upcoming releases! Look for the first interview tomorrow with Sandra Sookoo!

Sandra may not know it, but she encouraged me before I even had a contract to keep writing and not give up on my dream of being published. I could always count on seeing her 'status' about writing or editing. Her commitment to writing has been an inspiration to me. I'm thankful to have 'met' her through social networking and I'm happy to have her as my first featured author!

(photo courtesy lusi)

Thursday, November 19

Waiting and Writing

Around the beginning of October, I submitted my first completed manuscript. This YA novel will always hold a special place in my heart no matter what happens in NY. This was the baby that made it all clear to me that writing was what I was born to do besides sing. After almost two years in the making, two hundred and seventy-eight pages, countless rewrites and one busted computer later (it fell to the ground right when I could see the ending in sight), I shipped it off. I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders as soon as I did, but then a few days later the weight was back and stronger than ever before. I got the email asking for the entire work and I rejoiced, but now I'm back to biting my nails.

What if I missed the mark with my target audience? What if I shipped it off to the wrong editor? And then the big one question … what if my novel is rejected? Literally, a million questions go through your mind. I know writers face rejection and what truly matters in the end is if you keep trying.


I get that, but looking out for every email or envelope in the mail is very, very hard! I haven't shared the details about my YA novel because I almost think it could jinx things. Crazy, I know and I'll admit to being just a little bit crazy. I was up to two in the morning thinking my writing and this book and what I would do if it is or doesn't get picked up. I know for sure I will resubmit and pull all of my hair out (that's a lot of hair)!

Once I was released from Mia's story, all the other characters that have been swirling around in my head began pushing and shoving to make it out next. I love short stories a lot as a reader and definitely as a writer. There is nothing like creating a tale in a week or less and enjoying the sweet success of completing a story. Waiting for word is tough, but becoming published in the meanwhile with my other short stories has helped. I can do nothing but wait and write and try not to wonder every few hours about all the 'what if's'.

I was pleasantly surprised to read the blog post of an editor turned author that finally submitted his own manuscript and discovered what it was like on the other side. His story is worth reading and you can find it here!

Saturday, November 14

I'm live! Introducing!

Check out my website to find out more information about upcoming releases and what drives me to write the stories that I do.  I am so happy with the site and my talented sister for working with me to create a beautiful, user-friendly website!

Tuesday, November 10

Release Date!

Just in time for the holidays! A Christmas for Carol will be released on December 21st with Noble Romance Publishing! This will be the first sweet romance anthology for NRP and I'm very excited to have my short story selected for this special debut. This will be my first published work under my penname Angela Nichelle. I decided to use my middle name for all of my sweet romance and YA books in the future.

One of my favorite movies of the holiday season is A Christmas Carol, the timeless story about a man that has lost his love and joy for everything in life besides making money. The concept of losing your heart, struggling to trust in love and getting a nudge from the other side sparked the inspiration for A Christmas for Carol.

My story revolves around a beautiful young woman who's not crotchety like Scrooge, but has closed herself off to love just the same. She's experienced the worst kind of loss and believes her fragile heart can never recover. But holiday magic is in the air and so is a second chance at love for my sassy heroine!

I will be sharing a blurb and a sneak peek at the cover soon!

Monday, November 2

Manuscript Received!

Today, I got the postcard from Kimani Tru confirming that they had indeed received my full manuscript as requested. I still can't believe that almost two years ago I got serious about my writing and committed myself to finishing Mia's story. This has been such an amazing year for me in the sense that I finally decided to follow my dream of becoming an author no matter what.

With two young kids and a million distractions as a mother and wife, I finished not just the manuscript that's being reviewed in New York, but three other short stories. I've been offered a contract for two of those stories and I'm waiting to hear about the third. I'm thrilled! I'm humbled and happy.

We all have different dreams and some of them we reach for and others we just daydream about. All of us change through life as we grow older and experience new things and often times our dreams shift with us, but the core of your dream usually remains the same. It's the part of you that's truly you without the programmed fears and self-conscious hang-ups. For me, being creative is what makes me feel alive. Whether it's with my music or writing, I just feel like I'm the most connected with myself and the world when I'm in one of those two worlds.

This year is almost over, but I've learned so much about myself and what I'm capable of doing when I'm fully committed. What's your dream? Are you fully committed to it or is it just a daydream that seems impossible to grasp? Don't listen to those around you or the voices in your head that would have you to believe you can't do whatever your heart desires. You can because whatever your dream a part of who you truly are. Be brilliant!