Friday, October 16, 2009


Sandra Elzie was challenged by her husband in 2001 to not wait until retirement in 2005 to start writing the books he had been hearing about for years. Picking up the gantlet he threw down, she spent the next 8 years honing her craft and finishing 12 manuscripts.

Her first published book, The Diplomatic Tutor was her thirteenth manuscript and will be released by Avalon Books on October 24th. Avalon also bought her next book, In Daddy’s Shoes coming in October of 2010. She now lives south of Atlanta with her husband, Richard, and cat, Jack, and enjoys reading, traveling and, as always, writing her next book.


When Natalie Holmes accepts a position to tutor Kelsey, the 5-year old daughter of the British diplomat to the U.N., she never expects to be the one put to the test. She never expects to fall in love with the child or the father, but fights the attraction since she knows he could never love a coal miner’s daughter from West Virginia.

Trenton Lancaster is a widower, with strict rules concerning the safety and education of his daughter. When Natalie thoughtlessly breaks a rule, she expects to be fired. Only Trenton’s growing attraction for Natalie and her obvious devotion to Kelsey makes him retain her. She later proves her love and loyalty when terrorists attack and she risks her life to protect the child.

Natalie and Trenton immediately clash, but he can’t resist her homespun simplicity and intelligence and she falls in love with his strength of character and devotion to Kelsey.

Each must change, but when the prize is the ‘live happily ever after’ kind of love, its worth any risk and sacrifice.

Hello everyone!
I must start by thanking Petit Fours and Hot Tamales for all the support they give to a sister writer. It is my privilege to be a guest chef today and I can’t wait for each of you to have your day on the blog.

In keeping with this month’s theme about Halloween and scary things that go bump in the night, I thought I’d write a little about my journey to publication and the scary bumps along the way.

Like a lot of you, it started waaaaaay back when I was in grade school and my imagination ranged far and wide about how someday I’d write a book and be famous. I even practiced signing my name…although I write under my “real” married name, so all that practice was for nothing unless you count the good grade in penmanship.

Most of my beginning masterpieces have disappeared into a black hole (definitely the best place for them), but my mother actually kept one I did when I was about ten and I let it remind me of just how far I have come in learning to write. Notice I said “learning”. For me, writing is fun, but I had to study in order to improve enough to sell. I’m all for continuing education and that goes for writing skills as well as classes needed to stay at the top of the game in any other professional career.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that some writers seem to be born with the ability to put words on the page that describe people, places and things with an eloquence that is a pleasure to read. Others have the kind of brains that grasp sentence structure and parts of speech and can make even poor prose sounds good with just a few tweaks. My hat is off to these folks.

Sad to say, I was not gifted in either of these areas. I have a mind for ideas, the ability to write children well and to write strong arguments between my hero and heroine, but when it comes to spelling, I have to rely heavily on Spell Check and when it comes to grammar, I rely on my husband, critique partner or editor.

So, do you have to have a degree in English Literature, grammar or education in order to write a book? No. In order to sell one? Thankfully, no.

First of all, what you need is a good idea for a story and then the determination to get it down on paper. An unwritten or unfinished story can’t be edited and sold. When every excuse in the world rears up to gobble your time and keep you from your computer, train your mind to recognize the little devils and send them packing…without a Trick or Treat goodie. (Hey, I had to stay on theme, right?)

My road to publication was paved with ghouls and goblins, also known as rejection letters. In fact there were so many of them that I could have easily allowed the demons of “I’ll never be published” to convince me that getting yet another rejection letter meant that I had again failed and that I would never succeed; I’d never reach my dream of signing my name in a book that had my name on the cover. To quit might have been easier than fighting the demons, but the stories in my brain would have persisted and I would have been miserable.

Instead, I kept trying and eventually I sent The Diplomatic Tutor to Avalon Books and met with success. Am I through with rejection letters? Of course not! Just know that each rejection letter is a brick in the foundation of your writing career and keep building that foundation, one brick at a time, until the structure is complete and your name is printed on the front cover of your book.

Are rejection letters one of the things that go bump in the night for you? Or maybe it’s the synopsis or the query. (I can certainly empathize with that one).

If you’re not a writer and instead love to curl up with a good book on a stormy winter evening, tell us about your favorite scary story and you will be eligible to win a free copy of my first publication, The Diplomatic Tutor.

Please visit me at:


Linda Henderson said...

Congratulations on your first book. The Vampire's Quest by Vivi Anna is a good vampire book.

Marilyn Baron said...

Congratulations on the publication of your first book! All of the Petit Fours and Hot Tamales are so proud of you! I enjoyed hearing about your road to success and can't wait to read The Diplomatic Tutor.

Marilyn Baron
Your sister blogger

Dianna Love said...

Congratulations on getting your first book published...and selling your second one! I'm looking forward to you seeing me a copy of The Diplomatic Tutor so I can curl up with a good book in front of a fire.

Anna Steffl said...

Okay, I want to read this book!

What's the scary thing about writing? Getting that letter or email and secretly hoping it is good news. Hope is a hard thing to kill!

Tami Brothers said...

Yay, Sandy!!! This is very exciting and thanks for the wonderful story about how it all came to be. We only ever see the journey you make once you join GRW. Never do we see those 8 years and 12 manuscripts. It's also enlightening to know that I'm not the only one with grammar and spelling issues.

You go girl!!!

Okay, now to answer the question. I do think rejection letters are one thing for me that go bump in the night, BUT I first have to get past that hurdle of sending it out. You read and hear the suggestions to multiple submit. Well, I've never done that. It is on my list of fears to conquer though...grin...

Have a great day.


Cinthia Hamer said...

Congrats on the first book,, I know Avalon publishes for libraries, but will there be downloads available to purchase? The Diplomatic Tutor sounds like a fun read.

About the only truly "scary" thing in writing for me is sitting down at the computer and having my brain go blank. It's like I've completely forgotten the English language. {{{shudders}}} I'm working on building my immunity to that, though.

Scary books aren't really my thing. However, many years ago, (the early 1980's) I picked up a book titled "Castle Cloud". A dark, Gothic novel and it scared the bejeebers out of me. My hat is off to the author (forgotten her name)for one of the most unusual villains I've ever read; a normal guy who gets bitten by a rabid animal. He chases the poor heroine all over this hideously scary castle.

Debbie Kaufman said...

Scary for me. As a kid I was fascinated by the Sleepy Hollow Story. Still a scary one!

Congrats Sandy. Have you gotten the third contract yet?????

Maxine Davis said...


I can definitely say The Diplomatic Tutor is a great book. I really enjoyed it! Congratulations on the publishing!
Keep 'em coming!

For me, Patricia Cornwell's last books made me run and pull the covers over my head.

Sandy Elzie said...

Goodmorning ladies!

I'm in a coffee shop (with WiFi) in Savannah with our friends from Oregon. I'll be checking in periodically today as I can and will be home late tonight to draw a name.

Linda and Marilyn,

Thanks for stopping by, it's always good to hear from you.


Hey! Diplomatic Tutor certainly doesn't go bump in the's a gentle, sometimes humorous and sweet story about a young woman raised in a poor home, but who has a dream to rise above. It's all about hope, dreams and the people who come together to give each other a Happily ever after life.


Sandy Elzie said...


I'm glad to hear that hope is heard to kill for you. I "Hope" that hope is IMPOSSIBLE to kill because I know that if you never give up, it's only a matter of time. I'm just stubborn and when I got a rejection letter...and I got a lot of 'em, I never quit writing or trying to sell. The old saying is something like: When life knocks us down...and it get up one more time than losers. Keep standing up.

Sandy Elzie said...


Send it out! Send it out! I know it's difficult to keep getting back rejections, (or to anticipate getting a rejection) but if your goal is to share your writing, your masterpieces, your heart with others, then you have to walk through the trenches. Trust me, it's worth every bit of mud that rises over the top of your sneakers and gushes down inside to squish between your toes. (g)


Barbara Vey said...


It was such fun to get to know you at M&M and I look forward to your new book. Congratulations!!

Scary book? Anything by Stephen King...they all creep me out.

Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Deb,

Thanks for dropping by. Yes, as a kid Sleppy Hollow was scary...a headless guy? Yikes! At that tender age I even thought some of the Nancy Drews were a little scary...well, at least for a few minutes when they were cautiously sneaking into a dark tunnel or room...but I always knew they'd win in the end, so it was all fun.


Goodmorning, I have never read Patricia Cornwell. I had one, but my friend borrowed it and I haven't gotten it back yet...I can't even remember the title. Now you're making me want to get it back...quick.

BTW, thank you so much for the mini review. Glad you enjoyed the book.


I forgot to answer your question about the third book for Avalon. The next option book for Avalon is almost finished and then I'll be sending it along to Chelsea. But even though it's the third, I'll be crossing my fingers that I don't get a rejection. (g)


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Barbara,

Yes, it was fun at M&M and it was a privilege to meet you at the airport and have the opportunity to get to know you.

Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I don't read Stephen King. I started one of his books once and like you, it creeped me out, so I stopped and now I don't read them. (But hubby does)

Thanks for dropping by.


Sally Kilpatrick said...

Sandy, Sandy, Sandy--thank you, as always, for sharing your story and for your no-nonsense admonition for all of us to get to it.

I think my biggest fear is that I will never get something polished enough to send it out. It's a silly fear considering some of the books I've picked up, but after so many years of workshop it's sometimes hard to pick out the good and leave behind the bad.

As for scary books, I like to read nonfiction ghost stories and watch TV shows about them. There was one on the History Channel one year about the ghosts of Gettysburg that freaked me out. I would also recommend the original Hill House movie--the one before the Cathering Zeta Jones/Liam Neeson version.

Thanks again, and, like Tami, I shall have to start pushing my babies out of the nest.

dawgcrook said...

Congratulations on your first published book and your second buy. It's so exciting for all of us here at PF&HT to have one of our own succeed is such a manner.

I'm not into scary reads, but I did by the Dark Shadows book written by the lady that played Angelique in the TV show "Dark Shadows" eons ago. I've seen that show again thanks to TV Land or Scifi (not sure which) and it is oh so campy compared to modern vampire shows, but back then, I loved it.

My scary writing demon is the dreaded synopsis. It slays me every time. Hopefully someday, I'll find the right weapon to put that ogre to rest.

Enjoy Savannah. Love that place! And it has a walking ghost tour that would be great this time of year. Check it out.


Carol Burnside said...

Congrats on your success. I can't think of a specific book that was scary, but then I've read a lot of Patricia Cornwell and Jeffrey Deaver with fascination.

As for the writing world, I'd say that rejection is my 'bump in the night' because I really have to fight with that feeling of beating my head against bricks. Ouch!

Looking forward to The Diplomatic Tutor!

Dianna Love said...

I just saw what I typed early this morning before enough coffee. I meant - I'm looking forward to you signing a book for me (not seeing a book...).

I know it's a wonderful heart warming story and am looking forward to it.

Not coming out unless I'm really awake next time.

Cyrano said...

Congrats, congrats, congrats!!! I can't say it enough. Like the rest of us PFHT I am sooo proud of you and can't wait to get my hands on your novel.
Won't it be exciting when you can sit at an M&M book signing (or any other for that matter) and sign that practiced name for all your fans?
How wonderful!!
Can't wait until I'm in your shoes.
Keep up the good work and thanks for sharing your publication story.
Have a lovely weekend,

Susan May said...

Congradulations on the book. I thought it was a wonderful read. Yes, I've already read my copy. I look forward to your next one. I'm not a fan of scary movies or books.
I've learn to appreciate rejection letters. It means I'm at least work and sending stuff out.

Ana Aragón said...

Congratulations, Sandy, and thanks for your boot kick! We have to remember that it doesn't happen without a lot of hard work and that scary time when you have to send it out and wait for the response.

I'm not one for scary books. At my age, I just want to be happy!


Sandy Elzie said...

Hi Ladies,

Sally, Yes! Push those babies out of the nest and let them fly! It's so much fun to see them "out there".


Oh, lady, I understand about the synopsis being a demon. I concur.


Sandy Elzie said...

Thanks for dropping in. I know what you mean about sometimes feeling like you're beating your head against the wall...I've been there.

Tamara, Signing books is a lot of fun and if you just keep at it, you will be in those signing shoes one day soon. Hang in there!


Yes, we all have to keep in mind that all that we need to do is keep sending out our work and our day will come. Honest!


My kids can attest to the fact that I'm a no-nonsense, let's get the job done type of person. So giving someone a "boot kick" is right down my alley! (g) Thanks for commenting everyone!


Christine said...

This is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing your devilish road to publication. I am so happy for you!!

And you're right. Keep writing and keep submitting!

Darcy Crowder said...


Congratulations on your first book! I've got my signed copy from M&M sitting on the top of my to-be-read pile -- can't wait! :)

Thanks for all the encouragement on getting our own 'babies' out there. My scariest thing about writing is definitely that sitting down to the blank page. Gives me chills!

As for scary books, I've read several by Steven King and Dean Koonz, but the one I had to stop reading was Cujo, by Steven King. It was a LOT scarier than the movie...there was this whole something's-hiding-in-the-closet thing going on. Brought back too many childhood memories. LOL.

Sandy Elzie said...


Thanks for dropping by. They tested all of us in high school and they said I should be a teacher. Well, I never taught full-time, but I've always enjoyed teaching for the Red Cross, etc. I said this because I love to share my knowledge or experiences if it will encourage others to get on down the road. (g)


Yes! I had forgotten Cujo! I watched the moved, but, like you, I couldn't finish the book. (gives me chills right now even thinking about that devil-possessed dog).

Linsey Lanier said...

I agree with Barbara and Darcy. There's nothing scarier than Stephen King. Ironically, his story of nailing his 200-plus rejection letters to the wall helps me get over the fear of never making it. :)

Great post and congratulations!


J Perry Stone said...

Sandy, I can't wait to read your book.

I found your post extremely inspiring. I myself am most certainly not the kind of writer who can throw words on the page and they read like silk. I have to sweat, tweak and twist and still my writing is as smooth as ... animal feed sack.

But I have ideas too. And I have great friends (like you) to help me.

Terrific post.