Friday, May 15, 2015

Sandra Orchard: Lessons A Published Author Still Learns

Everyone's Story welcomes back multi-published suspense author Sandra Orchard. Sandra is proof that guests don't wear out the welcome mat on this blog--I love hosting her, watching her career grow, absorbing vicariously her energy and drive, and sharing this author with my viewers. This week Sandra discloses lessons from writing, yet I'm thinking that book readers may appreciate them as well. Do check out Sandra's surprise for everyone below. Both Sandra and I look forward to hearing from you.

Instead of a BookGiveaway, Sandra offers a book for everyone:

The first book of the Port Aster Secrets series, DEADLY DEVOTION, is offered by Revell as a free Ebook download at all major retailers. Here's the link for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ChristianBook. Enjoy!

By Sandra Orchard

As I daily claw words out of my brain in an attempt to break through the impasse in my current work-in-progress—the book that will be number 12, if it doesn’t kill me first—I can’t help but wonder why we writers torture ourselves. 

Then the UPS guy arrives on my doorstep with a brand-spanking-new copy of Desperate Measures—book number 9—and I share my excitement with my Facebook fans, who… (and how heartwarmingly humbling is this?) can’t wait to read it!  

And I’m so glad I didn’t give up when I was so frustrated with that particular book that I killed the heroine.

Yes, it’s true. I did. It was extremely satisfying, I must say. She’d been giving me nothing but trouble for weeks. Of course, afterwards, I had to take a lot of grief from the hero, but he got over it.

Since writers’ emotions seem to be on one continual roller coaster ride that can wreak havoc on our sanity if…well…we don’t kill off the occasional character, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share five life lessons writing has taught me.

     1. Things could be worse.

Writers are taught to send their characters headlong into trouble. Then, when things look as if they are finally getting better, make it worse.

Of course, my characters should count themselves lucky, because I can think of a lot worse things that could’ve befallen them than what I subjected them to. The upswing of that, is I can also imagine a lot worse things that I could be dealing with besides unwieldy characters and a brooding muse.

(And a copy editor who will have a conniption that I ended that second to last sentence in a preposition. )

The moral: Buck up, things could be worse.

     2.  What you think you want is probably not what you really want.

Characters tend to think: “if I could just ‘fill in the blank’ I’d be happy.” When really, what they think they want is just how they think they might get what they really want. Or maybe they don’t even know what they really want.

But in the end, if the story isn’t a tragedy, they figure out that what the author wants to give them is even better.

The moral: God is the author and perfector of my life’s story.

3.  I’m living a lie.

This came home to me at a ladies’ retreat I recently attended, in which the speaker was sharing about her troubled childhood and the lie about herself that it caused her to believe—she’s unlovable—not a lie she’d consciously recognized so much as she’d made life choices based on it.

She used the exact same language I use when messing up my characters’ lives. I dig deep into their pasts to figure out how they were emotionally wounded and what lie about themselves or the world they believe as a result.

Intuitively, I knew that to a certain extent the concept was true of all of us, but personally, I wasn’t interested in digging too deep to root out my own. I like my emotions on an even keel, remember?

Now … let’s just say I have new empathy for my characters.

The moral: The truth will set you free.

4.  It’s okay for the first draft to be…ur…there’s no indelicate way to say it… they can often be crap.

But that’s okay. We can learn a lot from our mistakes, whatever “endeavor” our first draft might be in.

One thing is for certain, we’ll never get anything done if we never start. And just as you could write an entire novel in a year by writing only one page a day, you can take daily baby steps toward whatever you yearn to accomplish—improving communication with your spouse, getting in better physical shape, learning how to knit, leading a Bible study.

The moral: The only failure is in not persevering.

5.   If you don’t like someone, you can kill them off.  

Oops, sometimes the line between the fictional world and reality gets a little blurred, but of course, I would never kill off a real person. What I meant to say was…

Hmm, okay, maybe I’ve only learned 4 life lessons so far.

Desperate Measures, Book 3 in the Port Aster Secret series, releases June 1st.

But be sure to read Blind Trust first, too, because although each book is a standalone mystery, there are lots of elements that build through the series to the final culmination.

About Desperate Measures:

Kate won’t be safe until all of Port Aster’s secrets are revealed.

Researcher Kate Adams has finally pinpointed the supposed “miracle plant” that tore her family apart years ago. She’s certain that discovering its secrets is her only hope of solving the mystery surrounding her father’s disappearance. She’s willing to risk anything to find the truth, including her relationship with Detective Tom Parker. But with so many people in pursuit of the plant, going it alone might be a fatal mistake
Award-winning author Sandra Orchard pulls out all the stops in this breakneck and breathtaking conclusion to the Port Aster Secrets series.

You can visit Sandra's past Everyone's Story's guest appearances: First, Second, and Third.

Sandra's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Suspense author Sandra Orchard: 5 Lessons Writing Has Taught Me. (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Sandra Orchard shares lessons for writers and readers. (Tweet This)

Check out multi-award-winning author Sandra Orchard’s free novel bonus. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Sandra Orchard is a multi-award-winning author of mysteries and romantic suspense with Revell Publishing and Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren. Learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at or connect at

***I'll love for you to take a moment and take this month's short poll on the right-hand sidebar. Thanks so much.


  1. It was especially wonderful to see the Headline in my email this morning - Sandra appearing once again on Everyone's Story - yay!

    Like you, Elaine, I like watching Sandra's career grow. 12 books now, that's incredible. Such an achievement. It was exciting to see Sandra's work acknowledged in 2 recent nominations for awards. I'm correct there aren't I, Sandra, that it's 2?

    Some great insights - I love that sometimes your first drafts are crap. There are so many authors who seem to be able to write a really good 1st draft that doesn't require too much re-work. Hey. there's hope for us yet. And what does the Bible say about perseverance?

    Thanks Elaine for hosting Sandra and Sandra all the very best with the launch of Desperate Measures.

    1. Welcome back to my little corner of the world, Ian. It was especially nice for me this morning to have a visual of one of my blog subscribers on the other side of this planet opening his email and clicking onto my blog and my extraordinary guest, Sandra.

      Thanks for making my day!

    2. You're so sweet, Ian, thank you. You and Elaine are going to make my head swell. As for your award question...I was thrilled this week to hear of more contests either Blind Trust or Identity Withheld or both are finalists in, four altogether--The Word Awards, The Selah, The Holt Medallion, and the National Readers' Choice Award. Super-exciting!

    3. May your novels be blessed in these contests, Sandra.

  2. Hi Sandra and Elaine! I enjoyed reading your insights, Sandra.
    Interesting observation about what the character thinks they
    want may not be what they need, parallels real life. There are
    so many times when the Lord has shown me that what He has
    for me is so much better that what I thought I wanted or needed.
    I just have to remember that each time I go through a new set
    of difficult circumstances!

    As far as what Ian said about some authors writing a really good
    first draft--my first drafts might not be as messy as some--but
    I am a slow writer who can't seem to completely turn off the
    internal editor! That being said, my first drafts still need a lot of
    work and I appreciate what Sandra wrote about it being okay
    for first drafts to be crap. If we don't get the words out and on
    paper, how can we improve them?

    Thank you for the link to download Deadly Devotion. I look forward to reading it!

    1. I hear you, Kathy. God must smile a lot when he watches me… there she goes again, thinking she'll come out ahead of the game when what I have in mind is far, far better. Will I ever learn?

      As for writing drafts, each story is different for me. I've had some stories fly out from my typing fingers, others slow poke about. But, what I'm really learning lately is that the true story comes in the nearly never-ending rewrites. At least for me.

    2. You're very welcome, Kathleen. I hope you enjoy! I'm glad the post resonated with you.

  3. I am anxiously awaiting my copy of Desperate Measures!! And I was up in Sandra's neck of the woods Thursday...although not close enough to visit. :-)

    1. Wow, Pat. You were probably only about a handful of hours away from me. So close but not close enough. One day, my friend, we will meet! Until then, I'm thankful for your visit here.

      Happy reading!

    2. Oh! Pat, that would've been so cool! Except I was there. I was down in Martha's Vineyard--visiting another author. :) Just got home at midnight. I arrived home to my box of books, so hopefully yours should I arrive soon!

  4. Sandra, it's always a pleasure to host you. I appreciate that special sense of warmth and joy you bring to this blog. May God continue to bless you and your writing richly, and may your reading audience continue to grow even more.

    Blessings to all.


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