Monday, April 2

Welcome Sandy James.

The Wranglers are happy to have Sandy with us today. We're in the same RWA chapter (Indiana) and have the same publisher (shout out to Carina Press), plus she's a teacher, one of my favorite people. She's an inspiration to me simply because she gets so much done, and if I wasn't so much older than she was, I'd want to be her when I grow up. Take it away,, Sandy.

Call me Sybil.

At least that’s how I feel some days—as if I have multiple personalities. I’m a teacher AND a writer. Finding a balance between the two is difficult some days.

I’ve always prided myself on being a good teacher. Four of my classes at Greenwood High School are studying Advanced Psychology. I teach those classes in conjunction with Indiana University, and most of the students are receiving college credit for their hard work. As a result, I also work very hard at staying up with the numerous changes in the field of psychology, reading journals and attending training at I.U. The payoff has been wonderful for the kids—most of them leave my school with six credits in psychology and can avoid taking those classes at universities where they become lost in a sea of freshman inside a huge lecture hall.

The problem is that with all this research I do to stay current in psychology, I find a myriad of things I want to use in my books! The voices in my head never cease—which isn’t a complaint. I love that my characters keep up a constant stream of chatter. They’re what make writing fun. My frustration is in finding enough time to write.

During the school year, I carve out an hour or so after dinner and try to grab some quality bonding time with my laptop. That gets a little harder every year because I’m simply too tired to function some evenings. Seeing 170 students in the course of a day in six classes takes a toll, but I also have lupus, an autoimmune illness that has fatigue as one of its main symptoms. Please don’t view that as a complaint, just a statement of fact. I only wish the disease would cut me some slack some nights so I could write! Most of my new chapters are written on weekends and school breaks. During the summer, I can even pretend to be a full-time writer for eight weeks.

There is one important benefit of being a teacher and a writer—every new person I meet gives me new characteristics to draw upon as I write my heroes and heroines. I often name characters after students who have had a major impact on me or whom I find terribly fascinating. They love “living” in my stories. For example, in my new release—Rules of the Game—one of the secondary characters is named after a former student. Murphy’s Law has most of the main characters named after the GHS class of 2006—students who were so supportive of me as I started pursuing publishing of my books. My day is filled with fascinating people who have stories to tell, and I can’t help but glean from their wonderful wealth of life.

Rules of the Game is also very special to me because I wrote it to commemorate a big milestone in my own life. My high school graduating class just celebrated their thirty-year reunion. I’ve been blessed to be back in touch with so many of those former classmates, and they inspired me to create Madalyn Sawyer—my heroine. She heads back to Indiana to face her past and lets all of the skeletons come tumbling out of her closet.

Writers are such odd creatures, and I suppose teachers who write (like me!) only add to that tendency. We are scavengers of human traits, learning something new from each person who enters our lives. I’m just blessed to have the opportunity to have so many wonderful people enter mine each new school year.

The Amazon link to RofG:




  1. Good Morning Sandy,
    I usually only use people who do really odd or horrific things for my writing. You made me realize I should be looking at everyone for character traits I might use. Great blog, and I really like the cover of RULES OF THE GAME. It makes me wonder what are those two talking about?

  2. Thanks for the peek into your world, Sandy. I love your phrase, "Scavenger of human traits." How true that is! It seems like everyone I meet provides fodder for characterization or even the beginnings of a plot. I'm a terrible eavesdropper in restaurants and other public places--listening unobtrusively while I sit with coffee or lunch, pretending to be reading my Kindle while I'm really gathering information.

    Rules of the Game is a terrific book! Much success!! And can't wait for more!

  3. I'm the same way. Nearly everyone I meet, talk to, or wonder about somehow finds their way into a book. Each new experience, good or bad, is filed away for future use, and, like Nan, I'm often guilty of eavesdropping!
    Having been Sandy's critique partner throughout the creation of Rules of the Game, I can tell you reading this book will be one life experience you'll remember fondly! WTG, Sandy!

  4. Welcome, Sandy! I do the same thing - I'm forever watching people, picking up characteristics for the people in my books, analyzing experiences and 'saving' them to draw on. Thanks for coming to WordWranglers today!

  5. What a nice introduction! Thanks, Liz!!

    I was beyond happy with the cover, Morgan! I really think they captured they flirty nature of the story! :)

    Nan and Cheryl -- I have no idea what I'd do without you two and all your help!! *hugs*

    Hi, Kristina! Thanks for the warm welcome!!

  6. Welcome to WW, Sandy, er, Sybil. Wow, are you busy. Great job teaching and writing!

  7. Thanks, D'Ann! And congrats on your sales!!! :)

  8. Hi, Sandi
    Welcome to WW! I have much respect for teschers. Your book sounds terrific. Love the cover.

  9. Thanks so much, Shawn!! Carina really does some beautiful work on their covers. Every step of publishing with them has been a joy. I'm looking forward to seeing the covers for my Amazon Sisterhood that Carina will begin releasing in September! :)

    1. Me, too, on this--working with Carina's been one of the most positive experiences ever in my writing life. I loved your post, Sandy. Thanks so much for coming!

    2. My pleasure, Liz. Thanks so much for having me! :)

  10. I just missed my 30-year. Live too far away. Best of luck with the book!

  11. Thanks, Jerri! I still have a hard time believing I've been out of high school that long! :P