Saturday, September 29, 2012

Alan Zimmerman writes about reading

Dr. Alan Zimmerman gives out Tuesday's Tip each week.  He is willing to share as long as he gets credit for what he wrote.  As writers we want people to read what we write.  So here is Dr. Zimmerman's post about reading...

"Some people will lie, cheat, steal and back-stab to get ahead... and to think, all they have to do is READ."Fortune Magazine
Ever since I taught at the university, I've always advocated a simple principle ... and that is ... you shouldn't waste your time learning things that won't make you happier or more successful. And throughout the hundreds of articles and books that I've published, I've described in great detail all those things you should learn ... things that WILL make you happier and more successful.

However, I need to apologize. I've been remiss. In all my writings, I've never addressed one of the most important things you MUST do to achieve extraordinary success at work as well as at home. Reading. You must become an excellent reader, no matter what age you are, and you must take time to read on a regular basis.

Why so?
1. Poor reading skills ... or a failure to keep on reading ... is a set-up for failure.

Don't ever be fooled by the stupid slogan that says, "Ignorance is bliss." As success researcher Jim Rohn said so well, "Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is poverty. Ignorance is devastation. Ignorance is tragedy. Ignorance is illness. It all stems from ignorance."

We know, for example, that there is a strong connection between your reading skills and your academic success. And there is a building body of evidence that shows a connection between your reading skills and reading activity and your business success as well as relationship success.

Obviously, there are a few people who manage to do very well for themselves without the ability to read, but they are by far the exception, as is evidenced by the headlines that flood the news outlets when the secret is revealed.

More than ever, those with reading deficiencies will be crippled by them ... far more than most physical disabilities they might have. With technology constantly advancing and phasing out menial jobs, those who can't read ... or can't read well ... or don't take the time to read ... will be hard pressed to find long-term work.

Worse yet, says illiteracy and crime are closely related. The Department of Justice states, "The link between academic failure and delinquency, violence, and crime is welded to reading failure." Over 70% of inmates in America’s prisons cannot read above a fourth grade level.

Simply put, if you can't read well or if you don't take time to read some of the great stuff coming out in every possible field, you are condemning yourself to a very bleak personal and professional future.

So please, please, please, don't cop out and say you're too busy to read what you need to learn to improve your life, your relationships, and your career. As Confucius said centuries ago, "No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance." And that is something you cannot afford.

If you will take the time to improve your reading skills and/or increase your reading time, you can expect to receive a host of benefits.
2. Reading success leads to academic success.

As educator and author Todd Christian observed, "It's not a coincidence that the students who excel academically are the same kids who seem to constantly have a novel as they walk from class to class. In my years of teaching, I cannot recall ever issuing a single failing grade to one of those book lovers."

Despite the irrefutable connection between reading success and academic success, it's somewhat amazing how little time our culture devotes to this vital skill. At present, parents and educators only have a few days ... a fraction of the child's whole life to get them set up for success.

A school year is approximately 140 days long, if you account for some vacation time and sick time. Kindergarten through the end of third grade is 4 years of schooling x 140 days or 560 days total. Your average life span is around 70 years or 25,550 days. In essence, all we have is about 2% of a child's lifetime to give them reading skills that will have an impact on them for the remaining 98% of their lives!

If you're a parent, get your kids to read more and more. And if you're a team leader, supervisor, or manager, get your team mates on a reading schedule. After all, the National Reading Panel 2000 concluded, "There is ample evidence that one of the major differences between poor and good readers is the difference in the quantity of total time they spend reading."
3. Reading activity leads to professional success.

W. Fusselman proclaimed, "Today a reader, tomorrow a leader." And President Harry S. Truman told everyone, "Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers."

From first-hand experience I know that is the truth. As a professional speaker, I've had the opportunity to speak in hundreds and hundreds of organizations. And I've worked directly with many of their top leaders, and they're always talking about what they're reading and what they're learning.

Just this last week, I spoke at the all-company meeting for BeckAg, an incredibly innovative, tech-savy, agricultural communication company. As I was eating dinner with Stephanie Liska, the President of BeckAg, she turned to me and asked what was the best book I've read recently and shared the books that had the biggest impact on her personal and professional lives.

The experience was not an unusual one for me. Time after time, I've had Presidents, CEO's, CFO's, VP's, business owners and the like talk to me about the books they're reading and the difference it's making. I know for a fact that leaders are readers.

The lesson seems to be inescapable. If you want to get ahead, be better, or have more, you need to be an active reader.

4. Reading opens up a world of opportunities.

It was one of Walt Disney's secrets of success. He knew "there is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island."

And Todd Christian went on to say, "One thing is undeniable: being able to read and comprehend at a high level not only improves your chances of success, but it opens up an infinite variety of avenues of success for your choosing."

You see ... if you are a poor reader or if you don't bother to read, you can get by in life and at work with a well-honed skill. But chances are, that's where you'll be stuck all your life. You'll be on narrow, single-lane road, with no exits. However, with the ability to learn on your own through reading, the roads to success can be as numerous and wide as a Texas road map. For those who read actively and enthusiastically, for those who are hungry to learn, every road branches into new possibilities, and their adaptability and broad range of knowledge will allow them to exit at any time and simply choose another route.

As Joseph Brodsky notes, "There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them."

And finally, to make reading work for you, to make reading a part of your pathway to success, there's one more thing you've got to do.
5. Read before you need to.

When I finish my presentations at association or company meetings, a vast number of people will rush to the back of the room to buy my books. Of course that's nice. I'm hoping they'll read something that will make a big, positive, and lasting difference.

And just this last week, someone else e-mailed me, saying, "Our leaders are always talking about the importance of exceptional customer service, and I'm all for getting better at customer service. The question is ... 'HOW are we supposed to do it?' Then someone gave me a copy of your book on 'The Service Payoff: How Customer Service Champions Outserve And Outlast The Competition.' What a godsend. If only we had this material in our department a long time ago, we'd be so much further ahead today in building customer loyalty."

As I finish this "Tuesday Tip," you may be tempted to think that an article on reading for my 100,000 "Tuesday Tip" subscriber might seem rather elementary ... even beneath you. But don't ever minimize the importance of reading ... or even teaching reading to your kids or team mates. As Louisa Moats puts it, "Teaching reading IS rocket science."

And William Faulkner, one of the greatest writers of the 20th century, summarized his philosophy of success by saying, "Read, read, read."

Decide on one area in which you'd like to know more about or get better at. Read an hour a day on that topic and in three months you'll be an expert..
©2012 Reprinted with permission from Dr. Alan Zimmerman, a full-time professional speaker who specializes in attitude, motivation, and leadership programs that pay off.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Success starts with a Plan

Success is not an accident.  Things just don't happen.  Things happen because of thinking ahead.  A plan of action, execution, reflection.

Retirement, collage, publishing a book, running a marathon, competing in the Olympics, or any other goal or challenge that is desired.  Planning, passion, vision all come together for success.

A story to illustrate my point.  My father shared this with me in an e-mail.  E-mail has so many neat stories, but unfortunately I don't know who wrote this one.  There is a human touch to things as well.  Like I've said before, we do not live in a vacuum.  We touch one another, hopefully in positive and uplifting ways.  So as you plan and work, think of how it affects others as well...

The Pickle Jar

The pickle jar as far back as I can remember sat on the floor beside the dresser in my parents' bedroom.

When he got ready for bed, Dad would empty his pockets and toss his coins into the jar.
As a small boy, I was always fascinated at the sounds the coins made as they were dropped into the jar

They landed with a merry jingle when the jar was almost empty. Then the tones gradually muted to a dull thud as the jar was filled.

I used to squat on the floor in front of the jar to admire the copper and silver circles that glinted like a pirate's treasure when the sun poured through the bedroom window.
When the jar was filled, Dad would sit at the kitchen table and roll the coins before taking them to the bank.

Taking the coins to the bank was always a big production.  Stacked neatly in a small cardboard box, the coins were placed between Dad and me on the seat of his old truck.

Each and every time, as we drove to the bank, Dad would look at me hopefully. 'Those coins are going to keep you out of the textile mill, son. You're going to do better than me. This old mill town's not going to hold you back.'

Also, each and every time, as he slid the box of rolled coins across the counter at the bank toward the cashier, he would grin proudly. 'These are for my son's college fund. He'll never work at the mill all his life like me.'

We would always celebrate each deposit by stopping for an ice cream cone. I always got chocolate. Dad always got vanilla. When the clerk at the ice cream parlor handed Dad his change, he would show me the few coins nestled in his palm. 'When we get home, we'll start filling the jar again.' He always let me drop the first coins into the empty jar. As they rattled around with a brief, happy jingle, we grinned at each other. 'You'll get to college on pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters,' he said. 'But you'll get there; I'll see to that. No matter how rough things got at home, Dad continued to doggedly drop his coins into the jar. Even the summer when Dad got laid off from the mill, and Mama had to serve dried beans several times a week, not a single dime was taken from the jar.

To the contrary, as Dad looked across the table at me, pouring catsup over my beans to make them more palatable, he became more determined than ever to make a way out for me 'When you finish college, Son,' he told me, his eyes glistening, 'You'll never have to eat beans again - unless you want to.'

The years passed, and I finished college and took a job in another town. Once, while visiting my parents, I used the phone in their bedroom, and noticed that the pickle jar was gone. It had served its purpose and had been removed.

A lump rose in my throat as I stared at the spot beside the dresser where the jar had always stood. My dad was a man of few words: he never lectured me on the values of determination, perseverance, and faith. The pickle jar had taught me all these virtues far more eloquently than the most flowery of words could have done. When I married, I told my wife Susan about the
significant part the lowly pickle jar had played in my life as a boy. In my mind, it defined, more than anything else, how much my dad had loved me.

The first Christmas after our daughter Jessica was born, we spent the holiday with my parents. After dinner, Mom and Dad sat next to each other on the sofa, taking turns cuddling their first grandchild. Jessica began to whimper softly, and Susan took her from Dad's arms. 'She probably needs to be changed,' she said, carrying the baby into my parents' bedroom to diaper her. When Susan came back into the living room, there was a strange mist in her eyes.

She handed Jessica back to Dad before taking my hand and leading me into the room. 'Look,' she said softly, her eyes directing me to a spot on the floor beside the dresser. To my amazement, there, as if it had never been removed, stood the old pickle jar, the bottom already covered with coins. I walked over to the pickle jar, dug down into my pocket, and pulled out a fistful of coins. With a gamut of emotions choking me, I dropped the coins into the jar. I looked up and saw that Dad, carrying Jessica, had slipped quietly into the room. Our eyes locked, and I knew he was feeling the same emotions I felt. Neither one of us could speak.

This truly touched my heart. Sometimes we are so busy adding up our troubles that we forget to count our blessings. Never underestimate the power of your actions.  With one small gesture you can change a person's life, for better or for worse.

God puts us all in each other's lives to impact one another in some way. Look for GOOD in others.

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or touched - they must be felt with the heart ~ Helen Keller

A simple plan made a big difference.  Make a plan and put it into action.  Key to your success. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

BRoP Interview With Barbara Ann Wright

Apologies to my fellow blog ring friends for being late today.  My internet has been acting up.  I am taking steps to correct the issue, new provider, modem or something, it is in the works...

Today I host part V of   interviews with the Blog Ring of Power.  Here are the other links:

Part 1 @ Terri ( - Wednesday, September 19th
Part 2 @ Teresa (, Thursday, September 20th
Part 3 @ Emily (, Friday, September 21st
Part 4 @ Sandra (, Monday, September 24th
Part 5 @ Dean (, Tuesday, September 25th

 Terri introduced Barbara to our blog ring this way:

"Barbara Ann Wright whose debut novel, Pyramid Waltz, is releasing in September. She's a member of Broad Universe and her blog "I Write Women" is one of the FUNNIEST I have ever read (she illustrates her points using photos of posed Barbie dolls. It's hilarious!)."

Welcome to The Write Time, I am excited to host part of your interview here on my blog.  So lets get started we all want to hear what words of wisdom you are willing to share with us. 

Tell us about your route to success –did you use an agent? How did you land your agent and/or publisher?

I did not use an agent. I sent my work directly to Bold Strokes, following their submission requirements. I heard back from them within three months. I urge people to not be scared of going to a publisher directly. Even if you're scared of negotiating a contract by yourself, you can always hire a contract lawyer to look over it for you, just be sure that lawyer is familiar with publishing contracts.
Why did you choose to go with a small/independent press?

I like the "family" nature of a small press. I've emailed directly with not only my editor, but the president of the company as well as an author liaison, the cover artist, and many others. I've spoken directly to the people that handle promotion and set up author signings. I've never been forbidden contact with anyone; I've never had to go through a middle woman. And my emails have always been answered within a day or so. I don't know anyone at a large publisher who's gotten this sort of treatment unless they're a megastar. BSB treats us all like megastars.
What are the most important elements of good writing?

Character and plot. In that order. When I read, I need to believe the people and their journey. Apart from that, I'd have to say stabbing scenes and kissing scenes, preferably not at the same time…unless you swing that way.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

No one will ever believe in your work as much as you do, so you have to keep moving forward for its sake. You can always learn something new, so never stop practicing.
 What are your current / future project(s)?

Right now I'm editing the sequel to The Pyramid Waltz, called For Want of a Fiend, and writing the third book with these characters. OMG, I'm squeeing so hard after typing that. I still can't believe the incredible ride I'm on! Woo!

Barbara Ann Wright writes fantasy and science fiction novels and short stories when not adding to her enormous book collection or ranting on her blog. Her short fiction has appeared twice in Crossed Genres Magazine and once made Tangent Online's recommended reading list. She is a member of Broad Universe and the Outer Alliance and helped create Writer's Ink in Houston. The Pyramid Waltz is her first novel.

She is married, has an army of pets, and lives in Texas. Her writing career can be boiled down to two points: when her mother bought her a typewriter in the sixth grade and when she took second place in the Isaac Asimov Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing in 2004. One gave her the means to write and the other gave her the confidence to keep going. Believing in oneself, in her opinion, is the most important thing a person can do.

Book blurb for The Pyramid Waltz:
To most, Princess Katya Nar Umbriel is a rogue and a layabout; she parties, she hunts and she breaks women's hearts. But when the festival lights go down and the palace slumbers, Katya chases traitors to the crown and protects the kingdom's greatest secret: the royal Umbriels are part Fiend. When Katya thwarts an attempt to expose the king's monstrous side, she uncovers a plot to let the Fiends out to play.

Starbride has no interest in being a courtier. Ignoring her mother's order to snare an influential spouse, she comes to court only to study law. But a flirtatious rake of a princess proves hard to resist, and Starbride is pulled into a world of secrets that leaves little room for honesty or love, a world neither woman may survive.
Top of Form
Bottom of Form

Find Barbara on the web with these web sites:
Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @zendragandt

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)
It is available in print now and will be available in e-book form on September 18, 2012.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Burned Biscuits

I received this in an e-mail.  I tried to find who wrote this story and have been unsuccessful.  I did not write this, but I share it here as I feel it is worth posting.  A good life lesson for us all.

Burned Biscuits

 When I was a boy, Mama liked to cook breakfast food for supper every now and then. I remember an evening in particular when she had made breakfast, after a long, hard day at work. On that evening
so long ago, Mama placed a plate of eggs,grits, sausage and extremely burned biscuits in front of Daddy. I remember waiting to see if he would notice.

But, all daddy did was reach for his biscuit, smile at Mama and ask me how my day was at school. I don't remember what I told him that evening but I do remember watching him smear butter and jelly on
that ugly burned biscuit. He ate every bite of that thing...never made a face or said a word about it.

When I got up from the table that evening, I remember hearing Mama apologize to Daddy for burning the biscuits. And I'll never forget what he said. "Honey, I love burned biscuits every now and then."
Later that evening, when I went to kiss Daddy good night, I asked him if he really liked his biscuits burned?
He wrapped me in his arms and said, "Your Mama put in a hard day at work today and she's real tired. And besides, a little burned biscuit every now and then never hurt anybody."

As I've grown older, I've thought about that evening many times.  Life is not always fair and it is full of imperfect things and imperfect people and I'm not the best, at much of anything, I forget birthdays and anniversaries just like everybody else. But what I've learned over the years, is that learning to accept each
other's faults and choosing to celebrate each others differences, is one of the most important keys to creating healthy, growing, and lasting relationships.

And that's my prayer for you today...that you will learn to take the good, bad and ugly parts of your life and lay them at the feet of God. Because in the end, He's the only One who will be able to give you a relationship where a burnt biscuit ain't such a big deal!  This can be extended to any relationship.  In fact, understanding,
is the real basis of all relationships, be it brother-sister, husband-wife, parent-child, partners or just plain old friendship.

"Don't put the key to your happiness in someone else's pocket - keep it in your own."

So, please pass me a biscuit, and yeah, the burned one will be just fine.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with Cornelia Amiri: Part V

Today I am happy to have Cornelia Amiri as a guest here on The Write Time.  This is her last stop in her five part interview.  Check out the other parts of her interview:

Part 1 @ Terri - Wednesday, September 12th
Part 2 @ Teresa, Thursday, September 13th
Part 3 @ Emily, Friday, September 14th
Part 4 @ Sandra, Monday, September 17th

Cornelia Amiri is the author of 16 romance books, including the Steampunk/romance she writes under the name Maeve Alpin. She lives in Houston, TX with her wonderful son and granddaughter. 

 So Cornelia, are you ready to share some of the bits of wisdom you've collected in your journey to publication?  Have a seat over here and lets chat.

Tell us about your route to success –did you use an agent? How did you land your agent and/or publisher?
A writing acquaintance founded Eternal Press and sent me an invitation to submit. Eventually I had something to submit and they published it, A Fine Cauldron of Fish, and they have published several books for me since. I thought Druidess was right for them and submitted I to them only and they accepted it.
Why did you choose to go with a small/independent press?
The way I did it, I chose a good publisher and they happened to be an e-book publisher. When I decided I would take the plunge and submit my first novel, The Fox Prince, I went to the Preditors & Editors website, clicked on book publishers, and began with the A’s. I looked at recommended publishers only, who were open to historical/romances set in a time period prior to 1000 AD.  Awe-Struck was the first publisher that fit.  I submitted The Fox Prince to them and they accepted it. I continued to use well established royalty payin gEbook publishers, currently I write for Eternal Press, Lyrical Press, and Ellora’s Cave. I never have and never will regret my decision to go with Awe-Struck. I didn’t pick them because they are an e-book publisher, I just chose them because they’re a good publisher..  I highly recommend well thought of royalty paying  Ebook publishers to both readers and writers.

Is there anything you would have done differently during the querying and publishing process?
For a first book the query and publishing process is a huge step. You learn new things from being published and you learn new things when you branch out and deal with different publishers.  I wouldn’t change anything about my first querying and publishing experience in 2001. It was wonderful. When I received the e-mail form Awe Struck accepting my novel, the "Fox Prince", I was on cloud nine. Bubbling with happiness, I was more animated then usual at work. I followed my standard good mornings with, "Did you hear about my book?" I e-mailed my publisher, Kathryn Struck, to tell her that I too was attending the Romantic Times convention and that I would love to meet her. She replied, "I am taking all the Awe Struck authors to dinner on Thursday and would love for you to join us." I walked around work waving the e-mail saying, "Look, look, I'm going to have dinner with my publisher and the other Awe-Struck authors."

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never stop writing, put your inner-editor aside and finish the rough draft. Find your unique author voice and go with it, always. Never give up, following a dream is always hard work, but it's the only way to truly live.
What are your current / future project(s)? 
If you like Druidess, it’s sequel, Druid Bride is available as well. I also have a young adult Celtic/Fantasy/Romance which recently came out, The Prince of Powys. I am working on two Steampunk/Romance books and three Vampire/Romance novellas

Druidess: In first century AD, conquering Romans plunge the British tribes into chaos. The future of the mist covered isle of Britannia and its brave people rest in the hands of two druids, whose views are as different as fire and ice. Yet they find love together. Arch Druid Rhys is a master of the sacred mysteries but a novice in the ways of the heart. Sulwen, a sacred druidess, discovers Rhys, the shape shifter, has evoked a basic, feral desire in her, only to find the goddess may soon exact the unfathomable price of taking him from her. Though their love is a potent as their magic, is it strong enough to survive the turmoil of the Romans, the Rebel Queen Boudica, and the gods?

Where to find Cornelia on the web:

Blog: I’m one of the Steamed writers -

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.) 
print and eBook

Thank you for stopping by and sharing with all of us here at The Write Time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Ripple Effect

We affect each other. 

That is not an earth shattering statement.  We've heard it before.  What isn't realized is just how deeply we can affect one another, and how far reaching an act of kindness, or cruelty can go.

This week was an anniversary for my family.  Six years.  Six years ago my 18 year old son died from injuries sustained in an auto accident. 

I've thought a lot about him this last week.  His talent with playing the cello, in fact one song in particular has been playing in my mind for days. 

Kevin had a way with people.  He got into texting.  Remember six years ago the cell phones did texting, but that was about it.  He could text with the phone in his pocket.  One month he had over 2,000 text messages.  He built a computer out of odds and end parts of several computers at home.  He had instant messaging going, talking to his friends from different places we had lived.  He had five windows open, and he was texting.  The thing was, everyone he was talking to thought they were the only person he was talking with.  He reached out and cared.  Touched a lot of lives, he was full of life.

One of his friends came up to me in the hospital just after I announced to everyone in the ICU waiting area that my son had passed away.  He said, "Mr. Rich.  Your son saved my life."


"Yes sir, he did."

He went on to explain that he had been contimplating suicide, and Kevin had befreinded him.  He got a text message inviting him to join up with Kevin and some other friends.  They went out and did some crazy things that evening.  This young man found a friend in my son, and choose to keep living.

Over the years people have stopped me to tell me stories about my son, and what he had done to enrich their lives.  What they remember him doing for them.

One man told me that when he was talking with Kevin, age disappeared.  It wasn't a 59 year old man speaking with a teenager, it was two friends sharing something.

Yes, I miss my son.  Deeply.  However I am impressed with all the people's lives he touched in one form or another.  His Ripple Effect has gone way past who he was.  We made a RIP Kevin Rich page on Facebook, and there are so many comments on that wall.  His wall is filled with people stopping by to say thanks for the memories, miss you, and such.

We all influence each other.  For better or for worse.  As a nation stops to remember 9/11 and how fragile life is, I also pause to remember how life can be lived.  Cherish loved ones, find time to do simple, thoughtful things for those you love.  You do not know how far you reach, and who's lives you touch.

Yes, six years ago this week a light went out, but the memory of that light shines bright. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

BRoP Interview with Sandra Saidak

Welcome to part IV of Sandra Saidak progressive interview with our Blog Ring of Power.

SANDRA SAIDAK graduated San Francisco State University in 1985 with a B.A. in English.  She is a high school English teacher by day, author by night.  Her hobbies include reading, dancing, attending science fiction conventions, researching prehistory, and maintaining an active fantasy life (but she warns that this last one could lead to dangerous habits such as writing).  Sandra lives in San Jose with her husband Tom, daughters Heather and Melissa, and two cats.   Her first novel, “Daughter of the Goddess Lands”, an epic set in the late Neolithic Age, was published in November, 2011 by Uffington Horse Press.  Learn more at

Here are the links to other parts of her interview.

Part 1 @ Teresa - Thursday, August 30th
Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, August 31st
Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, September 3rd
Part 4 @ Dean - Tuesday, September 4th
Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, September 5th

Welcome to The Write Time.  Hope you've had a good time visiting our Blog Ring.  Today we are going to discuss your current works, so have a seat over hear and lets chat. 

Tells Us About Your Current Work
Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it? 

Shadow of the Horsemen was released on July 1 on Kindle, and should be available in paperback...  soon; hopefully by the time this post is published.  It, along with the first book in the series, Daughter of the Goddess Lands, can be purchased on Amazon.

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?

There’s a lot of wonderful prehistoric fiction out there.  Many of those novels, like mine, deal with a clash of cultures that center on the role of women.  Where my series stands out, I think, is the focus on strong women who take back their power, even in seemingly impossible situations.  The focus stays on the protagonist, Kalieu and the reader gets to experience her outrage and growth, her understanding of the society she finds herself in, and, most importantly, her eventual victory.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

Without giving too much away J I’d have to say the part I most enjoyed writing is in the second book, when Kalie turns the tables on her captors.  I especially liked it because it happens well before the last ten pages, when that kind of thing usually happens in books (in my experience, at least).  That’s always been my number one complaint in this kind of story: the author grants us a happy ending, and maybe some justice, but never enough time to savor it, or see what happens next.  When I sat down to write the series Kalie’s Journey, I really wanted to change that.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I learned that I want to be a writer for the rest of my life (or maybe “confirmed” is more accurate; I guess I’ve always known that fact).  And writing the book I wanted to read was very rewarding: I didn’t just get to read the story I wanted to hear—for a time, I got to live it. 

 Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

The messages in my books are not particularly new, but I feel they’re very important: it’s better (and more satisfying reading) when a victim defeats her oppressors herself, rather than being rescued by someone else; a society will be more successful when every member has the freedom to contribute and chart his/her own course, and others can label you as something—but that doesn’t define who you are.

Other Places you can find Sandra online:

Book blurbs:

Daughter of the Goddess Lands--Abducted by a tribe of violent horsemen, Kalie, daughter of a peaceful, goddess-worshiping society, escapes from slavery and returns home, only to find her trials are just beginning.  When her warnings of an upcoming invasion go unheeded, Kalie seeks sanctuary in a temple of healing.  Here, she learns to help others, yet is unable to heal her own pain or stop the nightmares.  When the horsemen return, it is up to Kalie to find a way to save her people from slavery and death, while at the same time, finding the courage to confront the ghosts of her own past.
Shadow of the Horsemen continues the saga of Kalie, the intrepid heroine of “Daughter of the Goddess Lands.”  Kalie is rising in status and influence among her captors, the horsemen that control the rugged steppes of prehistoric Europe.  Now she seeks the weapon that will save her people, but time is running out as Haraak the Kingmaker, forges a mighty federation of tribes, intent on invading Kalie’s rich and peaceful homeland. Kalie finds, an unlikely ally in Riyik, a powerful warrior whose crippled son Kalie has been treating with her healing skills.  Forced to work together, the two find themselves growing closer than either had intended.  But in the violent, chaotic world of the steppes, love can be a dangerous thing. As alliances shift and warriors battle for dominance, Kalie must use all her abilities see her enemies defeated and create a new life for all of those she has come to love.