Katie: I’m pleased to host fantasy author, Sandy Lender, to my blog today. Sandy is the author of break-out novel, “Choices Meant for Gods,” and leads workshops on world-building and characterization. She has a degree in English, and 17 years in the magazine publishing arena. Her featured book today is “Choices Meant for Kings,” a follow-up to her first book.
Welcome, Sandy, to my blog. Can you please give us a brief synopsis of your book?
Sandy: It’s Girl Power Epic Fantasy all the way, but… Now that prophecies stack up against the main god of Onweald, the lovely Chariss has to choose between the dragon that courts her and the ostracized kings of the Southlands for help. There’s no doubt: Chariss is in danger. Her geasa is hampered by the effects of a friend’s marriage. The dashing Nigel Taiman hides something from her, yet demands she stay at his family’s estate where he and her wizard guardian intend to keep her safe. But the sorcerer Lord Drake and Julette The Betrayer know she’s there, and their monstrous army marches that way. Evil stalks her at every turn and madness creeps over the goddess who guides her. Can an orphan-turned-Protector resist the dark side of her heritage? Or will she sacrifice all to keep her god-charge safe?
Katie: What inspired you to write in the fantasy genre?
Sandy: I think I have no choice but to write fantasy. My main character, Chariss, has a power that can only exist in a fantasy world; the character who has chased her since destroying her family can only exist in a fantasy world; the man who loves her and tries his best to protect her has a mother, family, and school that can only exist in a fantasy world; so, really, the circumstances under which I write have forced me into it. (I'm a victim.)
Katie: When you were writing your first book in the series, “Choices Meant for Gods,” did you know that you were going to write a sequel? Do you have further books planned for this series?
Sandy: That's kind of funny, Katie, because I thought I was going to write a two-book story. You know...think outside the box. But Choices Meant for Gods was so long that my publisher asked me to break it up and do some editing. No problem! The editing I did put my characters in some new "spots" and I realized the idea of two books was easily turning into a trilogy. Ah well!
Katie: Did holding workshops on world-building and characterization come from writing your first novel, or did you know about world-building and characterization before your first novel?
Sandy: I took some creative writing courses in high school and again in college along with literature and sci-fi/fantasy courses, so I was hip to the scene. He he. Seriously, that stuff is in my "writer's arsenal" so I enjoy using it in my craft as well as leading presentations and workshops on it.
Sandy: I pitched the story directly to the publisher of ArcheBooks Publishing at a writer's conference a couple years back. I've shared that story on a couple blogs because it's so bizarre. My publisher, of course, has a pretty calm view of it...he says I didn't come across as insane at all...
Katie: Can you give us some tips on writing an effective query letter?
Sandy: Oooo. I'm probably not a great person to ask on this one because I'm so opposed to this process. One thing that's very smart when preparing a query letter is, of course, to research the agent you're going to contact, and then visit that agent's Web site and, if he/she has one, his or her blog. See what he or she wants in the query letter. Does she want a conversational tone? Does he want you to compare your work to something he's already familiar with? Does she want a list of your prior accomplishments or is that going to be a waste of your time because all she wants is story story story? Does he want an emphasis on how you can help with marketing your story to the masses? If you know what the agent wants in the query letter, you have a better chance of getting past the agent's intern with that query letter. The better way to get an agent's attention is to a) have a contract already or b) get a pitch session with one at a conference, convention, writing event or c) get really lucky. :)
Katie: How much marketing and promotional work have you had to do yourself? How much did your publisher do?
Sandy: Eegads, I've done more promo work than I can possibly recount. I've spent more money on advertising and listings and booths and bookmarks and review copies to send out and banners and tours and God knows what else...And you know what? I consider it an honor to get to do! (Expensive and exhaustive honor, but an honor nonetheless!)
Katie: Give readers a piece of advice about writing fantasy.
Sandy: Sleep deprivation is good for writing fantasy. It makes the hallucinations GREAT! He he he. Seriously, I think it's important to read enough fantasy that you know what some of the expected conventions are, but give yourself room to expand those conventions. Build on what others have done and make your own world. Get creative in your own way to make something that no one's read before. But don't rule out those sleep-deprived hallucinations for great fantasy ideas...
Katie: Thanks for being my guest on my blog today. Her book can be purchased on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/CMFKamazon, or through her publisher at http://www.archebooks.com/Book IDX/Indexes/Fantasy/CMFK/CMFKDesc.htm Please also be sure and check out Sandy’s web site at http://www.authorsandylender.com
Sandy: Katie, it's been great! Thank you for hosting me and thanks for the good interview. I keep telling people during this tour that they're taxing my brain and it's true! You can add yourself to the list o' people adding to my brain's downfall. (It's probably a good thing in some way.)