Reaching The End

Thank you for stopping by. While I operated Romance Writers on the Journey for over three wonderful years, I’m no longer adding new content.

Sometimes reaching the end of something we’ve poured our hearts into can be difficult. Such was the case for me last year when I decided to stop posting interviews and articles here. The decision was so hard for me to make that I didn’t bring myself to post a final farewell at that time. I’m doing so now.

I launched this blog on May 26, 2008 and published the last post August 29, 2011. During that time, I was privileged to interview 206 talented not-yet-published and debut romance novelists and to join in the celebrations of 29. I had a great time getting to know my guests and formed many wonderful friendships with them and the blog’s visitors.

While I no longer blog here at Romance Writers on the Journey, I’m still blogging on my personal blog and would love to connect with you there.

I continue to write the stories I love: inspirational historical romance novels. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, will be released July 1, 2012. Here’s a look at the lovely cover my publisher designed:

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Meet Debut Novelist Sandra Orchard

Sandra Orchard writes inspirational romantic suspense set along the northern shores of Lake Erie in the heart of the Niagara region, Canada. In 2009, she won the Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence, which led to signing with her ACFW-nominated agent-of-the-year, Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. The following year, Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense bought her debut novel and has since contracted two more books for her Undercover Cops series. Deep Cover is available now at eHarlequin and will hit bookstore shelves in September.

Sandra lives in rural Ontario with her husband of 24+ years, two college-aged children, and a husky pup with a fetish for rubber boots and remote controls. A former home educator, she received word of her first contract on her youngest daughter’s first day of college—a blessed launch to this new stage of her life. Sandra earned an Honours Arts & Science degree with a major in math, and taught high school math before starting her family. Since graduating from her home-teaching duties, she continues to keep the books for her husband’s business and writes full-time.

Sandra loves trying new things. She’s dabbled in a variety of arts and crafts over the years. She’s taken on just about every renovation project you can think of from building a run-in for her daughter’s horse, to re-siding their first house, to renovating bathrooms, to installing trim and flooring. Since a clean kitchen was only ever one meal away from being a mess again, she always preferred doing something more substantial. A back injury sidelined those hobbies, prompting her to single-mindedly pursue her writing. When not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, especially her new grandbaby, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God’s beautiful creation.

Sandra’s Journey

When did you fall in love with romance novels and decide to write your own?

I discovered romance novels when my children were little and I’d just lost my mom. Seeing characters cope with many of the emotions I was experiencing helped me immensely. I began to devour the books and after awhile my husband suggested I write my own. The idea had already been growing in my mind and his nudge was all the encouragement I needed.

What sparked the idea for Deep Cover? A breaking news story? An overheard conversation between police officers at a coffee shop? A scene you witnessed on a ride along?

It’s so long ago, and the story has evolved so much that I can’t pinpoint something specific that sparked the idea for Deep Cover. However, breaking news of the officers shot in a donut shop and of another officer shot while working in his garage, vindicated my hero’s greatest fear, and I mentioned the news stories in my proposal.

Your stories earned you placements in several contests for unpublished writers. What role did these successes play in getting you where you are today? And did you laugh, cry, or sigh when you received the good news from the contest coordinators?

When I finaled in the Genesis in 2008, I was so excited I emailed all my online writing buddies to squeal. That commendation definitely earned me a few requests at that year’s ACFW conference. However, none of the contests I actually placed in garnered a request by the judging editors.

Then there’s the Daphne. The Inspy coordinator called me from the awards ceremony to tell me I’d won. I screamed and thanked her, but the connection wasn’t good and there was lots going on at her end, so she said she’d call back in a bit. Well, after jumping all over the house celebrating with my family, I dashed to my computer to tell all my writing buddies. I couldn’t have been more floored when Sandra Robbins emailed me to say, I didn’t just win my category. I won the whole shebang!

More squealing and dancing followed that news. And when the coordinator called me back I think I caused her to go deaf.

In my intro, I mentioned that winning the Daphne got me an agent. It also paved the way to interest Love Inspired editor, Tina James, in reading the full of the winning entry, even though her predecessor had already rejected a proposal for it. Although, as written, it didn’t suit their suspense line, Tina explained exactly why. I made the necessary changes to another manuscript I had ready to submit, and voilà, it sold.

Sandra’s Support System

Who are the charter members of the Sandra Orchard Fan Club?

My husband and three children. For years I swore them to secrecy, because from all that I’d read, I knew it took a long time to break into publishing, and that people who aren’t writers don’t understand that. They might think it’s an interesting hobby, or be impatient to know when your book is coming out. And okay, if I failed to ever sell anything, I suppose I didn’t want people to know.

You’ve been blessed with awesome mentors. How did you link up with them, and what have been some of the most valuable lessons they’ve taught you?

My very first mentor was actually Janice Dick. She critiqued one of my proposals at the first writing conference I ever attended. She liked the story so much that she offered to read the whole manuscript. Her enthusiasm for it was encouraging to me, and was one of the reasons I revised that particular story (the one that eventually won the Daphne) so many times. I connected with Margaret Daley in a similar way at a different conference a few years later (different manuscript).

Linking up with Susan May Warren is a whole other story. Two days before I was supposed to fly out to Texas for my first-ever ACFW conference, I woke up unable to move without excruciating pain. I ended up in the hospital (blown disk). It was too late to get a refund on my registration, but the board very kindly sent me the CDs of the workshops to listen to as I recovered. Susan taught one of those classes. Soon after I paid for some of her “book therapy” and learned so much and made a wonderful friend and discovered another author whose books I love to read!

You’re represented by a respected literary agent. How did your offer of representation come about. How did you react when you got The Agent Call?

Joyce judged my winning entry in the Daphne DuMaurier contest and afterward offered to represent me. I was thrilled by her enthusiasm for my work, but I was also hesitant. This wasn’t my first time around the block. Every agent is different. Some pass your work through untouched whether it’s ready or not. Others give your work a thorough vetting, offering numerous suggested changes before agreeing to send it to editors. Others are somewhere in between. I had to really soul-search to decide what kind of agent I wanted. I contacted several of the authors Joyce represents and they were candid about her strengths and weaknesses, as Joyce, herself had been with me. In the end, I gave Joyce an enthusiastic yes, and I’ve never regretted it.

Sandra’s First Sale

On September 7, 2010 you received The Call. OK, these days it might have been The Email. Whichever it was, you must have been thrilled. Tell us about the experience, what thoughts ran through your mind, and if you screamed so loudly the neighbors wondered if they should come to your rescue.

Getting the call wasn’t at all like what I‘d always imagined. My emails are preprogrammed to go to different folders. So when I saw that I had a new email in my Agent folder the day after Labor Day— the day my agent said the editor would give us her response to my manuscript—my heart sank. I figured that if I got the contract my agent would call. Wouldn’t you?

So … I read all my other email before I even opened the folder. My heart jumped into my throat when I saw the subject line: Good News!

I quickly read the email and then called my agent. She was super-excited for me and I felt like my insides were bubbling over as I started to absorb that this was real.

I got the news on my youngest daughter’s first day of college. I homeschooled all my children so what a way to celebrate my graduation! When my youngest daughter got home, she was, of course, bubbling over with news about her day. I kept smiling and spreading my arms in a gesture of―well, are you going to ask me about my day?

Finally, I said, “Guess what?” And her response was priceless. She screamed, “You sold your book!” and then jumped up and down and hugged me wildly. As an aspiring novelist herself (already published in non-fiction and short story, I might add as a proud homeschooling mom) she knew exactly how huge this was. And it was sweet to have her share my joy!

Sandra’s Debut Novel

Please tell us about Deep Cover.

Maintaining his cover cost undercover cop Rick Gray the woman he loved. Ginny Bryson never really knew Rick. He never gave her the chance. Not then, and not now, when he’s back with a new alias to gather evidence against Ginny’s uncle. The man’s crimes led to Rick’s partner’s death, and Rick wants justice to be served. But his investigation is stirring up trouble, and Ginny is smack dab in the middle. Someone wants Ginny to pay the price for what her uncle has done. But how can Rick protect her without blowing his cover, jeopardizing his assignment…and risking both their lives?

Sandra’s Journey Continues

You’ve sold a second book, Shades of Truth. What can you tell us about it?

It features the heroine’s friend from Deep Cover.

A compassionate youth worker fighting to preserve her dying father’s legacy battles the justice-driven detective who threatens her mission and her heart.     

What story are you working on now?

The third book in the series, which just sold on proposal! Dose of Deception is Zach’s story (he’s the mentor to Deep Cover’s hero). He’s posing as an IT consultant in a hospital on the hunt for a killer. The heroine is a nurse that the killer fears can identify him.

Let’s Learn a Little More About Sandra

Cookies, cake, pie, or. . .?

Cookies, home-baked chocolate chip, warm from the oven. Or frozen from the freezer with vanilla ice cream in between. Yum.

High heels, tennis shoes, flip flops, or. . .?

I’m Canadian, eh? So our terminology is a bit different. My editor is always changing this in my manuscripts. To me a tennis shoe or sneaker is the flat canvas laced shoes we used to wear in oh, the 70s. I wear “runners” or “running shoes” the kind runners wear, also advertised as cross trainers. Would you call that a tennis shoe?

Soft rock, country, jazz, or. . .?

Soft rock, but I’m starting to get into some of the new country. Some of them have great lyrics. There’s a new over-the-air TV station that shows Country music videos 24 hours a day, and sometimes when I’m in need of inspiration for my story, I’ll take a break and watch a few.

Mountains, beaches, deserts, or. . .?

I love rugged shorelines, being on the water (lakes or rivers) or hiking in the woods.

Cats, dogs, fish, or. . .?

Despite the…hmm…vices of the newest addition to our family, I am definitely partial to dogs. They teach us so much, such as: Don’t bite when a simple growl will do. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk. Eat with gusto. And my favorite, when you’re happy, jump around and wag your whole body.

Sandra’s Question for You

I’m always on the lookout for interesting eccentricities to give my characters, so I’m curious… What’s the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?

Sandra’s Drawing

Sandra has generously offered to give away a signed copy of her debut novel Deep Cover.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Sandra by midnight September 5th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process.

On September 6th, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address.

Congratulations to Kav, winner of the drawing!

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Learn More About Sandra

Visit her website ~

Visit her personal blog ~ Conversations About Characters

Friend her on Facebook ~ Sandra Orchard (page)

Join her at Goodreads ~ Sandra Orchard

Posted in Sandra Orchard | Tagged | 28 Comments

Meet Debut Novelist Mary Moore

Mary Moore writes inspirational historical romances set in the Regency era of London, England. She has been an avid student of the Regency era since the 1970s and is a member of the ACFW’s historic fiction community. She’s been writing historical fiction for over fifteen years, and her debut novel, The Aristocrat’s Lady, releases September 6th from Love Inspired.

Mary had to put her writing on hold while undergoing a battle with breast cancer. Because of that, she’s now even more excited about her writing as she incorporates her struggles throughout her books. She’s dedicated to encouraging others in the Lord and using her talent to His glory.

A native of the Washington, DC area, Mary and her husband now live in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with their only child: a black lab named Darcy. Mary and her husband are very active in their church. When she’s not writing or reading, Mary enjoy festivals and fairs, loves to go antiquing, and looks forward to weekend getaways.

Mary’s Writing Journey

When did your love of romance and history compel you to start writing your first story? Did you give in right away, or were you hesitant to put down those first words?

It’s funny really – I never was compelled to write. I read Regencies voraciously and I always thought about characters I would like to see and how much a story would be better with a different plot, but I never thought about writing my own. And when I began reading Regencies there were no “inspirational” stories; they were all secular.

Back in 1995 my husband started a job at a hospital on the 4:00 pm-12:00 am shift, so I was by myself in the evenings. One night I just pulled out a spiral notebook and decided to write a book with all of the ideas that I guess had been floating in my head for years. I wrote about five stories during that time in my life, all for my own pleasure.

What sparked the idea for The Aristocrat’s Lady? Did you begin with a name or place? Did scenes begin playing in your mind? Or perhaps your characters began chatting?

Actually the first book I wrote those evenings was The Aristocrat’s Lady. After reading Regencies for so many years, I will admit that some of the stories seemed done over and over. There is no malice whatsoever in that. The Regency period is arguably a nine to twenty year span of time.

So when I started writing, I just knew I wanted to try to come up with a storyline that I had never read before and that had spiritual influences as well. I thought about the premise for the story and The Aristocrat’s Lady is what came out!

What is it about the Regency period you find most fascinating?

Wow, that’s a hard question; at least without filling up pages and pages of answers! I love the elegance and language; the gentlemen and the ladies and their courtships; the beauty and the estates; the codes of honor; should I go on? I can even appreciate that so much during that time was also horrible: the poverty, the plight of the servants and the tenants of bad masters, the poor returning from the war, even the seedier side of the elite. All of that makes the time period so interesting to me that I read about it before I read anything else. And I want to incorporate all of it into my stories.

You’re a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers as well as a number of chapters in each. In what ways has your involvement in these organizations helped you grow as a writer?

In a word, tremendously! Each of those organizations has their loops of emails where everyone writes to each other. I started there. I just lurked at the beginning. But when I started to see valuable information that I would need to come back to someday (if I ever got published) I began making actual file folders by subject and printing out each one for its file. After awhile, it became a little overwhelming, and I realized I needed to break off into smaller groups that applied more specifically to what I write.

As you mentioned, I am in several of the chapters of RWA and ACFW, but there are three that have been so helpful in actually learning the business of writing and publishing.

The Beau Monde is a wonderful group of writers that solely write Regencies. The amount of knowledge they share with each other and the support they give to one another is incredible.

The second is HisWriters who are devoted to European history. They also have a plethora of knowledge on so many topics.

The third may be the most important at this particular time of my career and that is the Love Inspired Authors loop. They have been there for me through this entire process and are eager to impart their wisdom and knowledge and it is wonderful to be able to share even our deepest prayers because we are sisters in Christ.

I am indebted to them all, and recommend these associations very highly to anyone interested in writing.

Mary’s Challenges and Victories

Sometimes, despite our dream of being a published author, our determination, and our dedication, life intervenes. You faced a number of major hurdles that sidetracked your plans of pursuing publication. What happened, and how did you handle the challenges that came your way and keep your dream alive?

My particular hurdles have been of a physical nature. And can I say here that I don’t put my hurdles above what anyone else has had to face. I truly believe God doesn’t give us the ones we can’t handle, so mine were meant for my growth and my faith. I know others who have gone through much harder trials.

In particular there are two physical battles I faced. The first is Lupus and it is ongoing. I wasn’t well for a long period of time in the mid-late 90’s and we didn’t understand what it was. We went from doctor to doctor, got contradicting diagnoses, and felt kind of lost in the medical world. It took almost two years until we met a rheumatologist that diagnosed it as Lupus. I do not have it as bad as some others, so I’ve been blessed, but joint pain and fatigue are my constant companions.

In 2004 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. That year of the mastectomy and chemo was one of the hardest in my life. I thank God for my husband who was there for me through every minute. It is funny, but we found my box of manuscripts in the attic (we had relocated since I had written them) and it was during the chemo when your body has absolutely no concept of a time schedule, when I pulled them out and started reading them again and even adding little bits of things I had been learning.

And that is when my sister-in-law, the only one of a very few that had ever read one of my manuscripts, went into overdrive to get me to try to get them published!

You learned and grew as a result of the challenges you faced—and you persevered. And one memorable day you received The Call. When did it come, and how did you react? Tears? Cheers? Or stunned silence?

My agent, Jenni Burke, was in constant email contact with me after she sent out the proposal, but one afternoon she called me on my cell. It was wonderful. She was so encouraging and so supportive. It is actually the first fictional manuscript she had ever represented, that’s how much she believed in me.

The offer from Love Inspired came in October 2010.  They had an opening for September 2011 if I could get the changes they wanted done by January 2011. Jenni asked me if I thought I could and I wasn’t going to let that opportunity go, so I pretty much said good-bye to Thanksgiving and Christmas and got it done!

Jenni was so sweet; the name of the book was originally The Scent of a Rose so imagine my surprise when the day after the contract was signed I received a dozen roses from her. I cried the rest of the day (in happiness, of course) and I thanked God for her and this opportunity.

Please tell us about The Aristocrat’s Lady

She was resigned to a life alone—until she met him…

For a few moments on a moonlit balcony, Nicole Beaumont was just a beautiful woman catching the eye of the handsome Lord Devlin—but she knew the illusion couldn’t last. If the enigmatic aristocrat knew her secret, he’d realize that her disability left her unfit for love. So who could blame her for hiding the truth a little longer?

Devlin had never met a woman like Nicole. Her unique combination of innocence and wisdom left him utterly intrigued. Yet what was she hiding? For a man who did not trust easily, discovering her secret was devastating. Overcoming their pasts and forging a future would take faith, forgiveness and trust. And second chances could lead to new beginnings.

Reactions and Reviews

What was it like to see your book the first time, hold it in your hands, feel the smooth cover, and inhale that new book ink on paper scent we writers love?

It was a little surreal! I mean, this is my first book! I didn’t know exactly when to expect my copies of the book, so when I saw the box on the front porch from Harlequin, I really felt excited. I really loved the cover of the book the first time I saw it on It was just as I had described it to them. But on the cover of the actual book, it was amazing.  I wanted hundreds of copies to send to everyone I know so they could share my excitement.

I’m looking forward to that day when the book is actually released and my family and friends, hopefully, will feel the same excitement as they had been feeling with me throughout this whole process.

You’ve already received a number of glowing reviews, including 4-1/2 stars from RT Book Reviews. Which have meant the most to you, and why?

My husband and my sister-in-law would be the most important, because they believed in me and the story from the start. Then my agent, Jenni, and my editor, Rachel Burkot, because they actually made it happen.

I didn’t realize that the Love Inspired book club received their copies ahead of the release, so my first one by an unknown reader was a great blessing. The review in itself was a surprise, but she was so kind and told me specifically how certain parts of the books affected her. I knew by those comments that she really listened while she read, and that she understood some of the points I wanted readers to feel personally.

Finally, the review in the RT Book Reviews really had an impact. I wanted Regency lovers to like the book and feel like they got their Regency “fix.” I hoped some book club members would like the book and begin an excitement for a genre they might not have read much about. But when an industry review specially mentioned that you might like this book whether or not you liked Regencies normally, I got stoked. If readers value that reviewer’s opinion, they might sit through a Regency and an inspirational that they never would have before. And that allows the opportunity for the reader to be exposed and perhaps impacted by God as well as the genre.

Mary’s Journey Continues

Your first book will be in readers’ hands soon. What are you working on now?

Actually, I’m still busy with The Aristocrat’s Lady at this moment. I’m enjoying the opportunities to be interviewed by writers like you, and more interviews are scheduled throughout the upcoming month. I also have two book signings scheduled as well as visiting outlying bookstores and WalMarts to sign the books that they have in their stores.

In addition, my agent and I have proposed a new manuscript to Love Inspired. The interest has been heartening, however, it definitely needs tweaking and I’m earnestly working on that.

Five Things That Make Mary a Unique Character

1 ~ I want my work to glorify the Lord more than I want to become a famous author.

2 ~ I know the blessing of marrying my best friend.

3 ~ My Irish heritage – it is what makes family so important to me.

4 ~ I am such a night owl. Age is catching up with me, but I’m still hanging in there!

5 ~ I’m a cheap date!  Arby’s and a movie – I’m there.

Mary’s Questions for You

Even if I know what book I want on, I find myself still going to the reviews just to be sure. Perhaps that is fallout from less money to spend these days. I also find that I don’t always like something just because I loved the author before…most of the time I do, but I find I still check the review before I buy.

So, do you read the reviews first on when you go online to order a book? If you don’t use reviews, what is a common way you use to choose a book? Do you go by a friend’s recommendation? Do you stick with the authors you love? Can a book cover grab you in the grocery store?

Mary’s Drawing

Mary has generously offered to give away a copy of The Aristocrat’s Lady.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Mary by midnight August 29th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process.

On August 30th, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address.

Congratulations to the winner of Mary’s debut novel, Judy Strunk Burgi.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Prizes will be mailed to US addresses only.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

Learn More About Mary

Visit her website ~

Friend her on Facebook ~ Author Mary Moore

Follow her on Twitter ~ sugarbean1020

Posted in Mary Moore | Tagged | 26 Comments