Thursday, June 11, 2009

Special WWWWH with Sandy Lender! Woot!

I know I'm having another special guest blogger, but today I'm especially excited!

Many of you know that fantasy novels were my first love (long before I discovered romance). I did a book report in elementary school on "The Hobbit" and used to pretend I was Ozma from the L. Frank Baum books. I still love my Dragonriders of Pern series and am currently working my way through the Valedmar books (again!) by Mercedes Lackey. So... when I read about the book, "Choices Meant for Gods" I was excited, and when I read the excerpt I was hooked. I did something I seldom do with new authors: I ordered it. And now I get to have the author on my blog! How cool is that?

The blurb and excerpt are at the end -- make sure you give them a read and you'll be hooked, too. Bet!

So, today, please give a hearty welcome to Sandy Lender (and even better -- EVERY comment earns an entry into her weekly drawing for an autographed, first edition hardback copy of the book... so comment and tell all your friends to come over and do the same). Even better, Sandy will be stopping by now and then to answer any questions you might have, so feel free to ask anything you can think of. :-)

What was the last thing you laughed at?

That would be my bird, Petri. He’s a sun conure, which is a type of small parrot. He rules the house, and when I forget this by, say, neglecting to give him his morning treat in a timely manner, he gives me this look that seems to say, “You’ve lost your mind, Woman.” He also gives me this look when I tease him by touching his tail feathers, whether he’s stuck them out the side of his cage for teasing or not. I can also get this look if I sing to him. He doesn’t appreciate the singing. Anyway, it’s really funny looking because you can just tell that little bird mind in there is trying to figure out how to tell me to do what he wants—give him a treat, share my dinner, stop touching the tail, stop singing, carry him to some perch or another.

When is truth stranger than fiction?

Criminy. When it’s my life. You have no idea how tempted I am to start forwarding those chain e-mails that show up with the “send this to five people and get 1 year of good luck; ten people and get 2 years of good luck” messages. I’m sure I’ve got 3,000 people in my database by now that I could send one to…

Seriously, though, my life has been a funky roller coaster for three years. I won’t go into detail here because there’s no point in bringing this lovely conversation down. But I’ll say this: I got the results of my most recent CT and PET scans at the middle of May and I am cancer-free! I’m cured! I wrote all about how happy I was and how I was channeling Queen’s WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS that day on my blog at http://www.todaythedragonwins.blogspot.com.

Where were you when you got your first kiss?

Awwww. This is so cute. I was sitting/laying across my desk at the end of the day in Miss Connelly’s second grade classroom and Gary Haguar (I think that’s how he spelled his name) leaned over and kissed my arm. Isn’t that sweet? I remember telling my grandpa about it on the phone and he said I should punch any boys that tried to kiss me. Ball up my hand into a fist and punch them as hard as I could. Isn’t that great? I do believe there’s a lot of my grandpa in the character Hrazon in my novel…

Why would you try to lasso and ride the Loch Ness monster on a dark and stormy night?

I’m torn. First of all, I would feel terrible about exploiting the poor dear. Who knows how uncomfortable a lasso would be to a creature with skin that old and wet? I’d have to take my shoes off so as not to irritate her.

But if she’s all right with it, I think we’d attempt this to get away from Nasgul chasing me on the shore. Everyone knows how afraid Nasgul are of bodies of water.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Oh, this totally depends on the book. I have a 90,000-word paranormal romance that took me two weeks to write because I was inspired by meeting the hot and handsome John Taylor (of Duran Duran). That was during a spell of unemployment, which goes in that “funky roller coaster” I mentioned above.

CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS took me three years once I sat down to type. Its sequel, CHOICES MEANT FOR KINGS took a couple months. The third book in the series took several months, if I remember correctly, but I’m taking forever to rewrite it. I don’t like the darkness of it so I’m fixing it. Completely. Starting over. I told a friend that I wanted to just delete it and start fresh and he had a hissy fit, so I’ve not gone to that extreme…yet.

This has been a delight, Marianne. Thank you for hosting me today and thank you for the fabulous interview! The link to my publisher’s site is http://www.archebooks.com/BookIDX/Indexes/Fantasy/CMG/CMGDesc.htm

People can follow one of my characters (Nigel Taiman) making fun of me at http://sandylender.blogspot.com – always a delight. I’ve got to set up a twitter account for him. My twitter account is http://twitter.com/sandylender


Sandy Lender began writing stories as soon as she learned to string words together on the page. As a child she entertained the folks in her great grandmother’s apartment building in Southern Illinois with tales of squeaky spiders and mice picking berries, and then won awards with writing projects as she moved through the elementary and high school systems in the St. Louis area. It was apparent that a career in journalism was her calling, and she found herself proofreading, editing, and (finally) writing for trade publications after she graduated from Truman State University in Missouri. Those publications may have honed her skills in editing and writing about cattle husbandry, road construction, community management, and zealous forms of religious oppression, but her desire to write fiction stayed with her throughout the career-building day jobs.

From her early memories of junior high, Sandy harbored the story of Amanda Chariss and the struggles of the continent of Onweald. It wasn’t until the year 2000 that Sandy sat down at the computer and started typing out the words that would form her first fantasy novel, CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS. By June of 2003 she had the creation that no literary agent had any interest in. But Sandy is pro-active and doesn’t give up easily. She got Publisher Bob Gelinas to show interest in the story in January 2006, and the dream has since become reality.

Sandy now writes in Southwest Florida where her love of sea turtles and all things related to the Gulf waters keeps her imagination growing. Her epic fantasy novel Choices Meant for Gods is now available as is her recent release What Choices We Made. She shares a home with a demanding but lovable sun conure, a 21-year-old water turtle who dances to the songs in her extensive Duran Duran collection, and a muse who often misplaces the key to the shackles at the computer desk.


===============
BLURB:

Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.

When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?

EXCERPT:

This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...

Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.

“Hey!” she objected.

“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”

Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.

“’Manda?”

“You’re staring at me.”

“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”

“I’m not angry.”

“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.

“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”

“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”

She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.

“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.

He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.

“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.

“And that I’m your friend?”

“Yes.”

“And does that please you?”

He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.

“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”

“Friendship?” he retorted.

“Such a rapport.”

He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”

“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”

“Feelings?”

“Well…your…”

“Intentions?”

“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”

“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”

She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”

“Good!”

“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.

“Because I’m in love with you?”

She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”

He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”

“I don’t think you should say those things.”

“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”

She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.

“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.

“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”

She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”

She nodded again.

“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”

“You shouldn’t assume that means—”

“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.

“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”

“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”

“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”

“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”

“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”

“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”

They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.

She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”

========================

17 comments:

Sarita Leone said...

Congratulations on regaining your health. I am so happy for you!

Wonderful interview! The blurb and excerpt have me hooked, and the title is fabulous. Congratulations on the release, Sandy. :)

MomJane said...

Glad you are feeling better. I have been there, and it is scarey.

Loved your blurb and I love the way you tell a story, even if it is about yourself.

Please keep on writing. There are so few good books coming out now. Yours sounds exceptional.

Sandy Lender said...

Good morning, Sarita, MomJane,
Thank you for your good wishes! And thank you for your kind words about the writing. I'm writing like mad all the time... :)

So glad you stopped in to share the day with us!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Sandy Lender said...

Hi there, Marianne!
Thanks for hosting me today! My travel schedule shifted a bit so I'm getting on a plane and losing touch with the cyberworld at some point this morning. *sigh* But I'll check back in and answer everyone's questions as soon as I'm able. Promise.
In the meantime, folks are welcome to check out my brand new website that launched yesterday. How cool is that? It's at http://www.authorsandylender.com. I'm in love with the art.
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Pauline B Jones said...

Enjoyed the interview, Sandy. Good journey! I hit the road tomorrow. It's so hot here, just want to stay home!

Sandy Lender said...

Thanks, Pauline!
Travel safely as well...
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Sandy Lender said...

Comment away, folks. I'm trapped in Sacramento for another day.
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want my own private dragon for flying me around."

Mysti Holiday said...

Hi Sandy! Your friendly neighborhood stalker, here...

You're awfully kind with Nessie :-)

Congrats on winning your battle with cancer -- takes a lot of guts, fortitude and determination. I'm doubly glad, cuz it means we get the rest of your series AND get to laugh at your comments (ref: "Some days, I just want my own private dragon for flying me around.").

Talk to you tomorrow...

Caffey said...

Hi Sandy! So nice to meet you!! I'm so glad you won this battle with cancer. I'm now looking up to you as an inspiration to know that others had the strength too to handle what was tossed at them with their health. It was so good to hear this all from you. Thanks!

I actually didn't read fantasy until I discovered some fantasy in some romance books! So it was backwards for me. I just love how unique and creative each are! It was great to read this big peek into Nigel and Amanda. It was as if I was watching this all unfold. Love it!

I love your questions Marianne and your answers Sandy! This was fun to read the interview. Had me thinking what my answers would be as a reader! I'm not understanding twitter except how to read the posts, so I'm following you now :) As well as both this and your blog! I'm thrilled I could visit and read about CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS.

LighthouseSandy said...

Wow, congrats on beating the cancer, Sandy! Your book sounds terrific. I'm just getting into fantasy the last year or so, so I'm looking forward to reading your stories!

Sandy Lender said...

Hi, Mysti!
Gotta be nice to those mythical underwater creatures...like Archelon, the huge (and now extinct) sea turtle. He's goin' in one of my books someday. ;)
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Sandy Lender said...

To Caffey,
Thank you for all your kind comments! Aren't you a lovely visitor to have here today! I'm pleased to hear that you got into the fantasy genre...romance can be included in any story so I think it's wonderful that it introduced you to another realm of reading. Fabulous!
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Sandy Lender said...

To LighthouseSandy,
Ah, good name... ;)
I'm glad to hear you're diving into the fantasy genre! Choices Meant for Gods is available as an eBook to make the adventure easier on the pocketbook. And, in fabulous news, you won't have to wait long on the second book! Choices Meant for Kings is in galley stage with the publisher now. (Color me excited!)
Glad to see you here today.
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

Adelle Laudan said...

Congratulations on the clean bill of health. I must say I'm more than a little intrigued after reading your excerpts. I'll have to look you up and read one of your books.
Great interview ladies.

Sandy Lender said...

Thank you, Adelle,
The publisher's site has the first novel available as an eBook, but Amazon has print copies of the two works that are out right now. I'm stoked to announce that we've got Book II in the series, Choices Meant for Kings, in galley stage now. Woo-hoo! Not long to wait!
Thank you for stopping in,
Sandy Lender
"Some days, I just want the dragon to win."

orelukjp0 said...

Congratulations on being cancer free. That is fantastic.

I loved your excerpt and can't wait to read your book. Three years shows me that this truly is a labor of love.

Margay said...

This interview had some fun, unexpected questions! Good luck on the tour, Sandy!
Margay