Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Welcome, Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter

The Winds Of Fall

Welcome to From the Pages, Sandy. I'm so glad you took the time to stop by and visit. I have lots of questions to ask, and I want to hear all about The Winds of Fall, so if it's okay with you I'm just going to dive into the interview.

First, where do you write?

I’m one of the lucky ones that had a room I could turn into my office! I have an art table and couch as well as my writing stuff, and a wall full of books I’ve read and collected. The room overlooks the street in front of our house, and the huge window gives me an excellent view of trees, houses, and traffic. Some of the houses are from the late 1800s like mine, others are newer.

Sounds ideal for writing!

Does your family support your writing career?

My husband is more understanding than my youngest son, and my oldest son is the most understanding of all. I bounce ideas off of him or he gives me hints or reality checks, and we even do this in public. Him and I even speak Spanish back and forth “just off the top of our heads ” in public! I’m sure some people around us think we’re crazy, especially when we talk about odd plot points! That’s my idea of support, someone who’s willing to make a fool of themselves for me in public!

How did you celebrate your first contract?

I went into intensive care when I stopped breathing in December, when I got my first contract e-mail. My daughter-in-law copied it and other e-mails and sent them with my husband when he came to visit. That was on December 8th, my birthday. I couldn’t celebrate except for thanking God for it and that I was alive.

Wow. I'm certainly glad you're all right!

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

I’m working on a romantic-suspense novel about a woman who runs the Canadian ice roads for her father who can’t that year. She meets a Canadian trucker\English professor who loved her even before he met her, thanks to her father. Her dad’s enemy tries to kill her and sabotages her runs to the fabulous diamond and gold mines up in Yellowknife, Canada. I became hooked on the Ice Road Truckers on the History Channel and the story came from there. It’s part of an Ice trilogy I’m planning based 3 History Channel series.

How do you juggle all of life’s other demands with your writing career?

I fit writing in when I can. I’ve found that if you have a family you can’t neglect them totally to write books; there must be a balance. Lately my family has made more demands on my time, usurping my writing time. I do substitute teaching in lower grades, so I have an average of almost two hours each day to write when the teacher I’m replacing has a planning period, lunch, or when her students take tests. Lately I’ve not been writing much when my hubby’s home so we can be together more. When my youngest son and his family move out in February I’ll have more free time, and when my oldest gets a kidney and moves out I’ll have even more free time. In the end, family matters more than writing, but I won’t ever give it up for anyone or anything. It keeps me sane and staves off old age and Alzheimer’s.

It sounds like you've got everything well balanced.

Who is your favorite author? Favorite book?

I don’t have one favorite author. Heinlein, Wells, Bradbury, Verne, Richter, Stewart, Whitney, and Norton are all my co-favorites from the past that I still like. Today, when I take time to read, I read whatever books by members of my RWA chapter that strike my fancy; Deborah Simmons, Donna MacMeans, Lori Foster, and others, and Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Grant, and Stephen Hawking (yes, I’m a theoretical physics nut!). My all-time favorite book ever is Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein. I’ve read it at least 80 times, and no, that’s not a misprint.

Is there anything about you that would surprise your readers?

The fact that I teach college English 101 (essay writing) in three adult-male prisons. Yes, prisons. I’ve been doing it since 2000, and I love every trying minute of it! The guys are respectful, eager to learn, and never try to do anything bad. The only bad incident I’ve had all those years was when one student and his cohort folded a giant paper airplane on a break and then flew it at me during classtime. If I didn’t wear glasses it would have hit me in the eye. I feel like I’m a positive female influence to many of my students who’ve never had a mother or were abused abandoned by mothers. These inmates must have exemplary behavior records in prison and be within 5 years of being released, so my students are there to better themselves so they can try to get their lives back on track and not be repeat offenders after release.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose?

Since I’m a Veteran who proudly served her country, I must say America, with a home in England so I can learn about my own family’s ancestors in Bolney, Sussex where they lived and died. The first Wickersham in America was my ancestor, Thomas Wickersham, who came here in 1700. Even then people knew what we know today, that with all of our problems, America is still the best country on the planet!

What is your favorite kind of cake?

Hands down devils-food, which along with Toll House cookies are my guilty pleasures. I have a recipe for the cake in a cookbook I got when I was a Brownie in elementary school. It makes the best devils-food you’ve ever tasted. I won’t use any other recipe for it! Of course, it must have that new lighter marshmallow frosting.

I am completely with you on this one. You've chosen two of my all-time favorites!

Do you have a role model?

My role model was my grandmother who I lived with from 1959 until her death in 1972. I felt like I could do no wrong in her eyes. I had security, food, warmth, and love. My imagination ran wild as I grew up with her guidance. I’d spend hours reading comic books and later books with chapters, coloring, cutting and pasting together my own rocket-ship models, writing down my dreams and turning them into short stories, playing outside all day in the summer, and riding my bicycle all over my hometown, Muncie, Indiana, staying outside until midnight.

It sounds like you had a lovely time with her. How wonderful!

Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

For those who are thinking about writing as a career, be prepared. If you can’t learn how to handle rejection, if you don’t love learning languages and learning new things, if you think your writing is perfect in its first draft, if you don’t like to read and never read much as a kid, if you don’t like words and playing with them, if you never drew pictures and made up stories for them in school, if you’re not observant of things around you, if you’re not willing to spend money you don’t have to keep your writing habit going, if you’re not comfortable with being with yourself a lot, if you don’t have perseverance, then you may not have what it takes to be a successful writer. Note I didn’t say published writer. Being published is only the icing on the devils-food cake of writing. Success comes when you can do all the things I listed (there’s probably 100 things I forgot) and feel like it’s your vocation, your life, your life-preserver, then you are a successful writer.

An excerpt from The Winds of Fall:

When he turned the corner to his entry’s area, he saw a woman near his canvas. She was touching it.

Wasn’t she aware of art gallery etiquette? “Hey, get your hand off my painting.”

“Leave me alone. I want to go home. I must go home.” She said in a monotone voice.

He stepped closer, and his heart jumped into his throat. Her left hand had entered his artwork, and her forearm slid in as he watched! Joe moved closer and said, “Get away from my canvas.” He could hardly breathe as he prayed no one would see them. The consequences would be unimaginable.

The woman slowly turned her head toward him. Like in some nightmarish horror movie, she looked at him with vertical cat’s-eye pupils instead of human pupils. A gasp escaped his lips. He wanted to run, to hide from what he knew the future would now bring, but horrified fascination glued his feet to the floor.

A cobalt-blue emptiness gradually replaced her green irises and the cat’s-eye pupils. He’d never seen human eyes do anything remotely like this. He blinked away his shock and regained enough control to say, “You must get away from my painting! Now.”

She didn’t respond.

Fear of being seen made Joe close the short distance to her and shake her shoulder. “If anyone sees what you’re doing—”

“Leave me alone. I want to go home. I must go home.” She replied in the same monotone. Her elbow slid into his entry as she spoke.

As her face turned back to his artwork, a knife of horrendous loneliness sliced through Joe’s mind. He had to find out what made her feel that empty and alone. People can’t survive such loneliness. He began pulling on her free arm with all his immense strength, but the force drawing her into the picture exceeded his might. Her left shoulder disappeared into his canvas as he struggled.

Hearing faint footsteps coming near kicked adrenaline into Joe’s nervous system, so he braced a foot on the wall for leverage and pulled harder.

He struggled until sweat stung his eyes, and finally, she began sliding out of his canvas. Would she be out before those footsteps brought people with them?Panic made him pull harder, and soon, Joe heard a soft whoosh as she slid out. They fell to the floor in a heap, rose perfume filling the air around them. He watched in awe as her eyes changed from empty cobalt pools to dark-green irises then normal round pupils. But, could such haunting depths ever be called normal?

The brown eyes staring into her soul fascinated Skye, but she was repulsed to find herself sprawled on top of a total stranger. How long had she been in this ungainly position? While she jumped off and stood, she assessed him. His short brown beard and long brown hair graced the most gorgeous man she’d ever seen.

Sandy, that's an awesome excerpt! I'm hooked!

I'm so glad you came to visit today. I enjoyed getting to know you, and I do hope you will come back again sometime.

Readers, Sandy has generously offered a copy of her fabulous book, The Winds of Fall, to one lucky commenter. So comment away, and come back tomorrow to see if your name has been randomly chosen to win.

The Winds of Fall now available from The Wild Rose Press


Becky said...

Great interview! I loved the excerpt from The Winds of Fall.
Devils-food cake is my favorite too.

Dru said...

Very inspiring interview.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Ah, Becky, a woman with good taste! I'm glad you stopped by and sorry for the late post I had to work today and take my oldest son out to get his car insurance and license plate sticker after work, Sandy

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Hi Dru, glad you liked the interview. I was afraid people might think I'm wierd for telling the truth of my life, but that's what writers are, real people with real lives that they can draw story ideas from! Sandy

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

A friend of mine could post so I copied her email to me. She's a nurse I worked with for many years--"I went to this site and loved everything I read. I didn't post because I don't have a google blogger account. Anyway I knew I could just e-mail you back to let you know that I really enjoyed reading the blogs and the things you have written. You just amaze me. I am so happy for you and your success. Keep it up and I know that the guys you teach must really enjoy you and your personality. Keep me posted and I will keep reading the things you send to me. It is a joy to know you. Joy"


Good interview and excerpt. I watched the Ice Road Trucker in awe. I couldn't do it.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

I couldn't be an ice road trucker either but I sure would like to go up there and see the ice roads some day. I talked to the Yellowknife chamber of commerce lady and she said I should come up there for a booksigning when the book gets published. I told her I couldn't afford the trip, but she said there'd be many eager customers because so few people even know about Yellowknife, let alone write about it. I just might do it because the people up there are so friendly and helpful when I call them, always fascinated to talk to an American. Sandy

RachelM said...

Great interview Sandy! You make me want to sign up to teach inmates! Thanks for sharing all your other personal stuff - especially the cake ... cheese cake for me please, but I won't hold that against you! Can't wait to read the book!

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Hi Rachel, thanks for posting! I do love cheesecake, too, but if I was to be stranded on an island with only one dessert it would have to be devils-food! Glad you liked the interview. No everyone can teach inmates and I wonder sometimes if I really can teach them but there are so many times that show they're learning to better themselves that if I only reach one, I think it was worth all the time and effort. Last year I had a student that I'd had 3 years before yell my name just before I went into the class. He told me that what he learned in English 101 helped him to complete a degree-wish I could remember exactly but I think it was a 4-year criminal justice degree-that he wouldn't have made it through otherwise. Did I feel good! I shook his hand and congratulated him with a tear in my eye. Sandy

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Well, I'm going to bed, it was nice chatting with everyone, I'm just sorry I started so late. I honestly thought today was the 4th. Thank you for interviewing me, Sarita! Sandy

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Sandy,
Grat interview. Some of my ancesters came from Sussex too, (Horsham). Instead of going to America, they came to Australia.

elaine cantrell said...

Hi, Sandy, I loved your interview. You've got me beat when it comes to learning about your first sale. All I did was melt a big carton of ice cream when I forgot to put it back in the freezer. Who could think of ice cream at a time like that?

Kathye Quick said...

Hi Sandy -

First of all thank you for serving your Country. Everyone who has or is in the military deserves the utmost respect and a big hug.

My husband is a trucker - thankfully not an Ice Road Trucker although he never misses it on the Hitory Channel.

I know I will be buying that series!

Godd luck.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Thank you for the compliment, kathye! I got hooked o nthe Ice Road truckers the first few show Isaw of the series. It was like I was hypnotized or something! The more I watched the more I got the idea for the book. I didn't do anything with it for a year, the nthe second season came out and that did it. I'm stalled on chap. 11 because I had to teach a college class from January to April but I'll be working on it again. Keep my email or website ahndy and check back with mein about a year, maybe I'll have it sould by then! Maybe I could ask you some truck questions to ask him for me one day? What do you write?

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Hi Margaret, what family name and town in Sussex did you come from? And, what city in Australia do you live in? I'd love to see your country some day, just like I like to go to Bolney! Sandy

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Elaine, depending on the flavor, melting a whole carton of ice cream would be pretty traumatic also! Especially if it's a flavor you love and had waited for a long time to dig into it! When I do sneak a dessert in occasionally, I'm a double-vanilla ice cream with hot fudge or mint-chocolate- chip kind of girl. I hope to be sitting at the computer and get the email personally for the 3rd book, just like I was with the second, so much less drama that way. That way, the drama can start after I open the email. Sandy

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

Kathye, Ishould have asked was Horsham the city your family came from, I think I remember seeing that on the English map last time I saw it, Sandy

Caroline Clemmons said...


I can hardly wait to tell my husband about your ice road series. I tease him about watching those shows on the History channel, but sometimes I watch them too.

Sandy Wickersham-McWhorter said...

It's not a series, just one called The Winter Road right now, though I'm thinking of changing it to The Diamond Road. The sweries I'm doing is one on the four seasons in sci-fi romance. The Winds of Fall was published by The Wild Rose Press in December and when I finish Orion Comes in Winter I guess I'll send it to them as well! You can read the first chapter of The Winter Road on my website if you want,, on my "Published Books" page at the very bottom. Let me know what you think of it if you read it! Sandy

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