Archive for the ‘Sandy James’ Category

Introducing Sandy James…

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Hi! I’m Sandy James, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of Classic Romance Revival!

I’m a high school social studies teacher who lives in Indiana with my hubby of twenty-six years, a spoiled Schnauzer, and a temperamental cockatiel. Both of my kids have grown up and are living away from home. My daughter is a grad student at Georgia Tech, and my son is finishing up his Bachelors in Education from Indiana State. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

Oh. And I write romance.

I was drawn into Classic Romance Revival by Judah Raine. From the moment she conceived this group, I knew I had to be a part of it! The charter members of CRR all hold romance near and dear to their hearts. Real romance. True “boy meets girl and falls in love” romance. Our frustration came from seeing so many stories labeled as “romance” when they were actually erotica.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not disparaging erotica. It’s a genre many women enjoy. My problem stems from people believing that “romance” and “erotica” are interchangeable. Far from it. CRR hopes to dispel that misconception, and I hope to always be an active member.

My books have been well-received since the first one hit the internet in December of 2008. Turning Thirty-Twelve has since been named as a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the Aspen Readers Choice contest. Reviews include “Best Book” rating from Long and Short Reviews, 5 hearts from The Romance Studio, 5 hearts and a Reviewer’s Top Pick from Night Owl Romance, 5 cups from CoffeeTime Romance, and mostly recently 4 stars from Romantic Times.

After the release of Turning Thirty-Twelve, my publisher purchased my entire “Damaged Heroes” series. All four have been released this year. The first story, Murphy’s Law, revolves around the harness racing world and has received 5 hearts and a Reviewer’s Top Pick from Night Owl Romance, 5 hearts from The Romance Studio, and 5 books from Long and Short Reviews. Free Falling, Book 2, is a great romantic suspense story and received the same accolades as Murphy’s Law and also a 5 cups rating from CoffeeTime Romance.

The third book in the Damaged Heroes series is All the Right Reasons. This book seems to have resonated well with readers and reviewers. It was named as a 5 ribbon review and a Blue Ribbon Favorite by Romance Junkies, 5 kisses and a Recommended Read by Two Lips, and 5 cups and a Reviewer’s Recommended Read by CoffeeTime Romance. The fourth book, Faith of the Heart, is still only available in ebook and Kindle, but the print should start appearing on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com any day. That story won both the Winter Rose and Lone Star contests.

I extend a big “WELCOME!” to the newest members of CRR, both readers and authors, and I throw a big kiss to Judah for all she’s done to create this great organization.

Back where I began…

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

My writing has come full circle.

I finished writing my first novel.  Again. This story was the one that started me on this publishing odyssey. How did it all begin? I read a book. It was written by a fairly well-known author, and what intrigued me was the fact it was about a married couple. In romance, the norm is that when the marriage occurs, it’s time to move on to the happily ever after and end the story. So I was really excited to see a story where marriage was already in place when the story began.

Much to my disappointment, I quickly lost interest. As far as plot or characterizations, I can’t even remember my opinion. No, what turned that novel into a “wall-banger” was the way the heroine was portrayed. The author went to great lengths to let the reader know that the heroine was almost forty, but that she still looked like a teenager. I seriously have a dent in the wall where I threw the book. I sat down that very day and started writing a story about a married couple where the heroine has all the faults and foibles of a person who is close to forty. Once I started writing, I was hooked for life.

I still consider that story idea one of my most innovative. Unfortunately, I didn’t know my craft. As I learned the proper way to write, I worked on tweaking and editing that story, giving it at least three major overhauls. Then I put it away, figuring it would always be my “practice” story. The one that got away…

A few months ago, I decided to see if I could give that story the treatment it deserved, so I pulled up all the files and hit “delete.” That took a lot of guts because I knew it would be gone forever. But I did it! Then I started from scratch, trying to do justice to what I consider a beautiful idea for a romance about a married couple. I finished that story a few days ago, and I couldn’t be prouder. Not only is it the first manuscript I’ve completed in a while — although I can justify that with the fact I was editing FIVE books this past year! — I really think I have a winner with this book. If I can count this as a “new” manuscript, that means I have finished ten complete stories since I started writing in December of 2005.

And that makes me smile.

*hugs*
Sandy James

The frightening “first” review…

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

I’m always terrified when I receive the first review for a new release.  I’ve been so blessed to have wonderful reviews, I always fear there is a “clunker” just waiting to be sprung to bring my career to a crashing halt.

I exaggerate, of course.  One review doesn’t make or break a book.  However, I imagine every author harbors the same concerns.  We are setting our hearts out on a platter and just waiting for someone to come along with a sharp knife to rend it to pieces.

I received my first review for my latest release, Faith of the Heart.  Sales have been so-so because I think most of my friends are waiting for the print, a trend I see often with small press mainstream romance readers.  Ebooks sell like crazy in erotica because, in my opinion, a person can download a naughty book with an over-the-top cover, and no one has to know it.  It reminds me of when I was twelve and sneaking around to read a few pages at a time of The Wolf and the Dove when my mom put it down somewhere.  We love being naughty, don’t we?   But mainstream romance hasn’t established itself as a powerhouse in ebook sales.  Yet.  I forsee ereaders to be the iPods for readers in the future.  How long?  Not sure.  But that time is coming.

I digress…  I had/have high hopes for Faith of the Heart because it did so well in writing contests.  If I am eligible for Rita next year — assuming RWA drags itself into the twenty-first century — this would be the story I would enter.  Book Wenches posted the first review.  My thanks to Bobby for a beautiful write-up.

And the verdict is…

Rating: 4.5

Reviewed by: BD Whitney

Sarah Reid grew up a wild child, partying, drinking to excess, and living her life the way she wanted. That all ended abruptly when her best friend died because Sarah was too drunk to save him from his impulsive behavior, and she has lived since then steeped in guilt. When she survives a lightning strike just to develop the power to heal, Sarah figures that this is God’s way of giving her chance to redeem her sins. Even though each healing leaves her on the verge of coma and makes her progressively weaker, Sarah turns nobody away.

Reporter Joshua Miller lost his wife to cancer a year ago in spite of the efforts of a charlatan faith healer. He is bitter and deeply suspicious of those who claim to heal by touch, so when he hears about Sarah and her claims, he sets out to prove her to be a fraud and a con artist. Fully armed for an encounter with a snake oil salesman, Josh certainly doesn’t expect to find Sarah to be a sensitive, fragile woman who is as genuine as others declare her to be. And who without a doubt has the power to heal. Instead of crucifying her, Josh wants to protect her, and that means getting her away from her mortally ill clients as well as her manipulative sister and greedy brother-in-law.

The last thing that Sarah wants is another exposé on her abilities. Not when it brings the religious fanatics and the haters to her door along with the people who genuinely need her help. But Josh seems to truly care for her, and it doesn’t take long for him and his teen-aged daughter to win a permanent position in Sarah’s heart. Can Josh convince Sarah that she is worth being loved? Her abilities are incredible, but the one thing that Sarah is not capable of healing is her own heart.

********

Faith of the Heart is Book Four of Sandy James’s Damaged Heroes series. In this story, we revisit a few old friends as well as make some new ones. It is not necessary to have read the previous novels in this series to enjoy this story, but it may enhance the reading experience somewhat. I found this to be well-written and involving, a mixture of both sweet and sensual romance. Along with the interesting paranormal aspect of this novel, Faith of the Heart is a novel about a woman who must learn to love herself before she can move on with her life and accept the love of others.

In this story, Ms. James addresses the painful issue of life in the aftermath of losing a loved one. Both Sarah and Josh have suffered losses that have left them emotionally scarred – Sarah with a soul-deep sense of guilt and Josh with anger and resentment. Each clings to the past and needs the intervention of something earth-shattering in order to move on. Sarah has punished her body almost beyond its limits by healing people; Josh holds on to both a stone from his wife’s graveside as well as his anger at the faith healer who fleeced her. It is only through these two coming together that they realize that they still have a future in spite of the tragedy they have suffered.

As I have noted in the past, one of Ms. James’s great strengths lies in her character development. This story is filled to the brim with vivid and believable characters, from our two main characters all the way down to the small supporting roles. Josh is overall a sympathetic character. He’s a loving father, a thorough journalist, and is obviously bowled over by Sarah. Sure, he makes a few missteps and is sometimes clueless in a way that only a man can be, but there is no malice in his heart. Sarah believes whole-heartedly that she has been given her gift in order to make up for her past. Even though she pushes herself to the point of disaster, she doesn’t give the impression of being a martyr. She’s just someone who refuses to forgive herself. Yet even through her grey haze of sadness, she shows the occasional spark, and this keeps her from being a maudlin figure.

Sarah’s sister Hannah and her brother-in-law Doug fill the role of villain in this story, although calling them such may be a bit of a stretch. They are more annoyances than “bad guys.” They are quintessential ne’er-do-wells and freeloaders, and the character Doug is almost comically so. Ms. James does an excellent job of making them individuals that readers can revile and boo and hiss at.

This story is for the most part sweet and emotional. I certainly found myself sniffing a time or two, and then looking around to see if anyone on the bus noticed. The lovemaking scenes are sensual without being overtly graphic, and they fit comfortably into the rest of the narrative. While I had to suspend my disbelief a tiny bit in order to accept the fact that a thirty-year-old woman could be a virgin, the reasoning behind this is actually quite plausible, and while the contortions that Josh goes through in order to reconcile with Sarah may have felt like a little bit of a stretch, they were still entertaining. Any man who is willing to admit his errors in public like he does is definitely worth hanging on to.

In all, I found Faith of the Heart to be involving and agreeable. I truly enjoyed the characters and their story, and I thought that the faith healing aspect was both unique and well done. Ms. James has definitely given us a treat with this story. Those who enjoy romance are bound to be pleased by this book.

Sandy James — Empowering, Old-Fashioned Romance

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

My first blog post on this wonderful new site!   A huge “Thank you!” to Judah Raine for getting things up and running!

Please let me introduce myself.  I’m Sandy James.  And I write romance.  Nice empowering, old-fashioned romance.  To earn enough money to keep a roof over my family’s heads, I teach.  Yeah, I know.  That makes me officially crazy.  Especially since I teach high school.  A challenging age to say the least.  But I love my students, and I love the study of psychology and United States history.

Two of my ebooks have already been released by my publisher, BookStrand.   My first book, Turning Thirty-Twelve, has done very well, rising to its current spot at the #2 mainstream romance.  I was also recently notified that this book is a finalist in the prestigious Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence Contest.  That took me by surprise!  Small press, especially ebooks, tend to get lost in the shuffle.  I was thrilled to know I was lucky enough to be a finalist! 

My second book, Murphy’s Law, is the first in a four-book series I call the “Damaged Heroes.”  I always hated reading books with heroes so perfect, they might as well have been made of cardboard.  I write heroes who are real and human and possess flaws.  Hence, the “Damaged Heroes.”  I’m also proud to say that every one of these books has been a contest winner or finalist in at least one RWA chapter writing contest.   Murphy’s Law appeared as a finalist in the Heart of the Rockies, Golden Rose, and Golden Gateway.

My next release is Free Falling, the second in the series.  It was a finalist in the Golden Acorn Excellence in Writing Contest.  I’m proud to say the ebook will debut on Tuesday.    My hero, Ross Kennedy, is a Type A who can’t seem to realize there’s so much more to life than work.  He had his heart broken in Murphy’s Law, but he was such a great guy, I couldn’t let him remain alone.  To compliment Ross, I wrote the character of Laurie Miller.  She’s strong, independent, and accomplished.  Yet, as many of us also do, she suffers from some self-esteem issues.  Laurie likes to think of herself as a “size fourteen in a size four world.”  I throw them together in a blizzard and watch the sparks fly.

Here’s the blurb for Free Falling:

Workaholic Ross Kennedy never learned to enjoy life until he meets the woman of his dreams.  If only Laurie Miller can convince him that’s exactly who she is.

 

A psychologist with empathic abilities, Laurie rescues Ross, who has been stranded in the middle of a Montana blizzard.  The two strangers are completely snowed in and out of contact.  In just a few days, their attraction to each other is overwhelming, but Laurie is troubled.  Her empathic gift seems to have vanished.  Fascinated by his pretty rescuer, Ross struggles to open up his heart enough to let this woman in.

 

When the two return home to Chicago, they try to solve a mystery revolving around a Prohibition Era journal they discovered in Montana.  Will they find the missing treasure the journal points to?  And as a former boyfriend begins to stalk Laurie, how will Ross be able to protect her?

 

If you enjoy classic romance, and you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t, I sure hope you’ll consider giving my Damaged Heroes a shot at winning over your heart.

 

All my best,

Sandy

http://www.sandy-james.com

 

 

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