Erica here: I am so pleased to host Sandie Bricker here at CC&C this week! Sandie is a gem. A writer, an editor, tv aficionado, cancer survivor, and all around sweetie pie. She came to my rescue when I needed a press release and had no clue what I was doing. Be sure to read about Sandie, then head over to Facebook and get to know her a little better.
SANDRA D. BRICKER was an entertainment publicist in Los Angeles for 15+ years where she attended school to learn screenwriting and eventually taught the craft for several semesters. When she put Hollywood in the rearview mirror and headed across the country to take care of her mom until she passed away, she traded her scripts for books, and a best-selling, award-winning author of Live-Out-Loud fiction for the inspirational market was born. Sandie is best known for her Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press, and she is the managing editor of Bling!, an edgy romance imprint for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. “I believe in the power of the parable,” she says. “And I just love words in almost any form. From the assembling on the page to the polishing and perfecting, there’s almost nothing more powerful.”As an ovarian cancer survivor, Sandie also gears time and effort toward raising awareness and funds for research, diagnostics and a cure.
How did you begin writing?
Whenever someone asks me that question, I’m always inclined to say, “In the womb.” I truly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating story, imagining characters and fantasizing about adventures. I think I was in 6th grade when I wrote my first short story, and I published my first article as a senior in high school. In the early 80s, I packed up what I could fit into the back of my ugly little Ford Fiesta and ran away to Los Angeles to go to film school and learn to be a screenwriter. It wasn’t until later when necessity dictated a move in focus from the screen to the page.
Take us through a day in the life of you, the author (because some us picture you rise from bed, calmly pour your coffee, sit in a sunny little alcove, and write for eight hours before getting ready for a luxurious dinner out with your special someone) ;)
Wow, you’re a writer too! That’s quite a lovely fantasy you have there. I think my days are easier than for many writers with kids to wrangle and husbands to please. In that way, I’m really blessed to have a schedule I can design for myself. That said, going from hobby writer to professional writer brings deadlines and commitments and expectations that I never considered until they were upon me. There are certain elements of my “day in the life” that rarely change: Morning devotions; reading email; checking Facebook. But the rest of it is fluid (like a white water river some days!). Things can be flung at high speed toward me, one after another, all day long. I rarely have dinner at the same time two days in a row, and I’m almost always making up for lost time when everyone else is winding down for the day. It’s not unusual to find me still working on my laptop at midnight.
Tell us where you got the idea for your latest book and why you developed a passion to write it?
The idea for Moments of Truth came in stages over the course of a few years. I’ve always been enamored with the idea of ensemble pieces where families are created rather than simply being a matter of fact. My parents are both gone, and I don’t have any sibling relationships, so it’s become a natural thing for me to “create” family from relationships and connections that God brings into my life. Because of that penchant, readers have seen hints of this element in many of my books; in particular the Another Emma Rae Creation and Jessie Stanton series for Abingdon Press. With Moments of Truth, however, I was encouraged to take it to the next level and really show a group of girlfriends who are nothing short of family. And because of my own foundational Christian faith, it really appealed to me to also step outside the usual CBA box and have only one of the five with a strong born-again faith, demonstrating how that one ray of light bleeds out to the lives of all the others.
Who is your favorite character in this book and why?
It’s a challenge to choose just one of the women, but I think I have to go with Regan. She’s a writer, and she looked up one day to find her husband standing at the front door with his bags packed and no reasoning behind why he was leaving. She’s spent the time following his departure with a chip on her shoulder, vowing to never give another man the opportunity for a repeat performance. Regan speaks to me … or I spoke to her. When you’re a writer in love with your characters, which comes first? The chicken or the egg?
What is the most important takeaway from your book that you hope your readers see?
The primary one that I hope they’ll glean is that each of us – with our seemingly insignificant faith – is really equipped with a lamp that gives enough light to touch the lives of everyone around us.
If you were to be offered the opportunity to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro or to back pack deep into the heart of the Swiss Alps, which would you do and why?
I’m not really that girl for either of those, but if you twisted my arm behind my back until I gave you an answer … I think I’ll backpack in the Alps in the hope of stumbling across a five-star chalet.
And while you’re on this grand adventure, would it be necessary for you to have coffee or tea? (‘cause we’re split evenly in preference here at the CCC blog)
Sadly, I recently gave up coffee. It still brings a tear to my eye to speak of it. I spent most of my life as a tea drinker until I met a man who ruined me and introduced me to the joys of coffee. For health purposes, I’m trying to embrace tea again. I’ll let you know how that goes.
If you had to write your novel long-hand, would you use a fine point Sharpie, a roller ball pen, a fountain pen, or a pencil?
I’d WANT TO use a fountain pen because I adore them. But in reality, the time it would take to hand-write a novel with fountain pen and ink … I think I’ll opt for a nice roller ball gel pen from sheer laziness. Please don’t think less of me.
Your favorite flavor of pie … because we’re heading into pie season!
Banana cream with graham cracker crust. (And a coconut cream pie chaser??)
What are you currently working on in the book world?
Moments of Truth will be unleashed on the world at the end of September, so I’m spending most of my time trying to let people know about it. The fiction road in the CBA has been taking some pretty hard hits in recent years. This is my first novel not attached to one of the bigger traditional publishers, so I’ve had to be very creative about inviting readers to join these extraordinary women on their journey … without the ad dollars of a traditional publisher behind me. One fun thing that I’ve come up with is a website devoted solely to the women and “girl power” of Moments of Truth where readers can learn more about them, take a quiz to see which of the women they’re most like, and – the most fun aspect of all – in September I’ll begin featuring special BFF friendships. I hope your readers will check out moments-of-truth.net and send in their stories and photos for a possible feature!
In October, I’ll launch a new sort of interactive continuation of my Emma Rae books with Always the Baker: The Love Story Continues. It picks up where the last novel left off – with newlyweds Emma and Jackson living in Paris for a year – and it will be offered in three segments, giving readers a chance to vote for the direction the story will take in between.
Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?
I’m happy to! How about we pick up with meeting Regan for the first time:
Eight years of marriage. No kids. Got the house.
Regan felt as if those words might make a great tattoo—assuming she were inclined to get a tattoo, of course—maybe right across her forehead. Anything to keep from explaining it time after time. With the long bangs she still wore acting as a curtain of sorts, when someone inquired yet again, she could just lift them with the back of one hand, give the inquirer time to read her forehead, and be on her way. Story told. No muss, no fuss.
No muss, no fuss.
The words made her chuckle as she stirred vanilla creamer into her morning cup of bold roast. Had she ever had a muss- or fuss-free day in her life?
Regan twisted her long dark hair into a knot at the top of her head. She pushed her brown-rimmed glasses up the bridge of her nose before snapping the lid on her travel mug and padding, barefoot, across the cold stone tile of the kitchen. She climbed the oak stairs to the loft and stopped to push the large window wide open, stopping to inhale the salty Pacific Ocean in the distance before flopping into the creamy Italian leather chair in front of her desk and flicking the power button on her laptop as she did. It wasn’t much of a commute to work, but she set the alarm every morning, showered and dressed, and filled her travel mug with coffee before setting out across two thousand square feet of house. It made her feel as if her role as a blogger for Vertical Magazine carried more important weight than a simple lifestyle blog for women might tend to hoist. Regan knew a little something about the challenges of remaining vertical, after all, especially in the face of adversity.
It didn’t pay much, but her one lone skill for putting words on the page combined with an abundance of random opinions on just about any topic concerning women made the job a good fit for her now. She almost thought it was a joke when Vertical’s senior editor had called.
“I ran across your blog this morning,” said Delores Cogswell. “And I was so drawn to it that I spent hours reading the archived material. This is really something special, Miss Sloane. The way you tie your friends and your life with the lives of your readers. Oh, and I love how you refer to your ex-husband as 30-Watt.”
Actually, it was 40-Watt; a metaphor for the realization that his 100-watt smile— the one promising a shiny future together filled with wonder and joy and children—soon grew dim in the face of reality.
“Anyway … You have a very in-your-face writing voice that I really appreciate,” she went on. “Would you consider writing it for Vertical?”
Seriously? Regan had only just found her so-called in-your-face style in recent years. Since Craig left.
“You’re like a mousy little bombshell,” Craig had told her when they first started dating. If only she’d have paid closer attention. When a man referred to a woman as mousy right out of the gate, she later realized, that might be a sign their foundation might lack what’s needed for him to stick around.
She’d started MOMENTS-OF-TRUTH.NET on a whim; an outlet for venting the steam of her own white-hot shame and niggling perplexity over the end of her marriage. Surely there were other abandoned women out there, married one moment and single the next, who might relate to what she had to say.
“I’m sorry. Could you repeat that, please?”
It wasn’t like she hadn’t already thought about going back to work. She couldn’t just sit on her duff and do nothing but collect a meager monthly alimony, after all. But Regan had spent the last four years of her eight-year marriage trying to get pregnant. It seemed like an important focus at the time—fertility treatments, about three hundred sharp kicks in the fanny with a hypodermic needle, ovulation calendars and lunchtime rushes to the bedroom, Craig’s conference room, even the back seat of the car on one occasion. Anywhere they could find to seize those opportune moments for baby-making. But those experiences had resulted in nothing to show beyond the occasional breathless satisfaction. Not a baby, and not even her husband and the potential father of a baby sticking around.
Those years of frustration and failure didn’t exactly bulk up a resume. Out of nowhere, however, this phone call from Delores Cogswell had solved the problem. Someone out there saw the only thing she had left with any value, and liked it enough to offer her a job.
So, what? A few years of working from home for Vertical during the healing process, writing her little blog and connecting with women just like her suited Regan just fine; despite that irritating little flutter in her gut lately, the one that poked her and whispered it might be time for something more. The one she worked hard to ignore because change struck her as quite terrifying in light of the fact that she’d only just begun to feel sure-footed on her own.
Regan drew in a warm gulp of her coffee and sighed, opening her inbox as she did each and every morning. She skimmed the first few emails there:
A collection of column suggestions from her editor;
A funny picture of Iris and Lynette in front of a truly hideous old hutch—the latest in a line of thirty or more of them Iris had considered in her consuming quest to redecorate the dining room;
An abrupt message from Delores Cogswell: Please mark your calendar. I would like a conference call with you today at eleven o’clock sharp.
As Regan added the appointment to her online calendar, the fleeting thought that Delores might fire her pierced the nerve behind her left eye. She quickly checked the site meter on her blog, and the numbers soothed her fear; but only slightly. She’d been holding steady at around ten thousand page views per day for the last month since some oddball reviewer took notice and gave her blog a mention; this week had seen an increase to twelve thousand. Then again, maybe Delores wanted to offer obligatory congratulations rather than fire her.
The next email in the list bore the FEEDBACK label, telling her it had come through the blog site from a reader. A woman named Bristol, 26, recently abandoned by her husband.
“I’ve been reading your blog for a year now, and I know you’ve been through the same thing,” Bristol wrote. “How did you ever manage to get out of bed again? I’ve never even considered the option of divorce, and I didn’t think Neal had either, but three nights ago he left me. I feel like I’ve been hit by a freight train.”
Regan couldn’t really say she’d never seen the train barreling down the tracks before Craig came back from his monthly business trip to Atlanta and packed two large bags instead of unloading his carry-on.
She’d heard the clomp-clomp-clomp of the wheels as he rolled the suitcases from the hall carpet and across the tile in the foyer. Drying her hands with one of the soft organic dishtowels she’d bought that afternoon while shopping with Abby, she strolled out of the kitchen and spotted his things parked at the front door as if waiting for a bus to come along.
“What are you doing?” she asked him. “You have another trip?”
He hesitated. “N-no.” It wasn’t like Craig to stammer. Or hesitate.
“Then where are you going?”
“Here’s the thing. I got a place in the Gaslamp Quarter,” he stated. “It’s close to the office, and it has good natural light …”
Regan didn’t remember much of the other details about her husband’s new downtown abode, but two days later he returned with three generic strangers and cleared out his side of the closet, his office in the loft, and more than half of their modest wine collection to take to that new well-lit place of his.
On his way out the door, Craig had handed her an envelope she couldn’t bring herself to open until the weekend. After she’d skimmed his petition for the dissolution of their marriage, Regan poured a large glass from the open bottle of merlot on the counter and downed it; then she calmly collected the four new organic dishtowels she’d bought—two with the tags still attached—and tossed them into the trash. They’d read warm and homey to her when she bought them; but Craig’s packed bags at the door while she cluelessly dried her hands with one of them ruined the appeal. She didn’t ever want to feel their lying softness again.
Erica here again: Sandie is graciously giving away a copy of her new release, Moments of Truth. To enter, use the rafflecopter below.