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, Syb...er, 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: