Can’t Walk Away by Sandy James – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by the publisher to celebrate the release today of Can’t Walk Away by Sandy James. Enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance to win a copy of the book.

In Nashville the stars shine a little brighter, songs sound a little sweeter, and love lasts a lifetime.

Young, rich, and better looking than a man has a right to be, successful songwriter Brad “Hitman” Maxwell was once Nashville’s biggest celebrity. Then a heartbreaking loss and a shocking betrayal caused his light to go out. Now, instead of pouring his soul into song, he pours beers at Words & Music. His bar is the perfect escape—a place to forget his past—until the night she takes the stage…

Savannah Wolf used to dream of becoming Nashville’s hottest star. Now, as a young single mom, she dreams of a steady income and being home to tuck her daughter into bed. So when Brad Maxwell offers her the gig of a lifetime—playing as the headliner at Words & Music—Savannah discovers the best of both worlds. And she refuses to ruin this opportunity by falling for her sexy boss. Except that Brad suddenly starts writing music again…music inspired by her.

Enjoy an Excerpt

By the fifth take, Brad was losing his patience.

Had he been wrong in thinking Savannah was something special, something new? He sure as hell didn’t think so.

Then why couldn’t he get her to sing with the passion she’d shown back at Words & Music?

Maybe it was the song. “That Smile” was his first attempt at writing in a long time. Perhaps it wasn’t up to snuff?

No. When Brad had heard Savannah sing it earlier, he’d known he’d written a strong song with a good melody and a catchy beat.
Something was clearly blocking her talent.

“I’m sorry, Brad.” She dropped the headphones from her ears to let them rest around her neck. Then, head bowed, she started shuffling through the sheet music.

He’d never seen her look defeated before, and he didn’t like it. This wasn’t the Savannah who’d been his muse. This wasn’t the woman who brought back his music.

This was…a disaster.

But why?

He watched her closely, trying to find some telltale clue as to what was going on today that had robbed Savannah of the passion and talent he’d counted on. Her hair was braided, the braid an eclectic mixture of blond and blue. A blush tinted her cheeks, and he could hear her nervousness through the quaver in her voice, especially in the last notes of her fifth recording.
Something was definitely wrong, and he was going to have to find a way to fix it. But he couldn’t do that from another room. Even though he could see her, something told him she needed something more personal. Unsure of whether being closer to her would make a difference, he figured it was worth a shot.

Brad started a new recording so he could capture the song if he was able to help her, pushed himself away from the console, and headed to the recording booth with his remote control in his pocket. He pulled the door open and stepped inside.

Savannah glanced up from the music, offering him a wan smile that made his frustration evaporate. She knew something was wrong, too. Maybe if they put their heads together, they could get back the magic.

After pulling a stool beside hers, he sat. Then he gently took off her headphones, plucked the pages from her hands, and placed them back on the music stand. She let her eyes meet his, and he could see her concern.

“We’re going do things a little differently this time,” Brad said, keeping his voice low.

“We are?”

He nodded and scooted closer. Then he wrapped his hand around one of hers. “You’re not going to think about recording.”

“I’m not?”

“Nope. This time you’re just going to sing to me. That’s all.”

Her whole body relaxed, and Brad had to fight the desire to smile.

“Sing to me, Savannah. Just to me. Okay?”

She nodded, and before she could get a chance to think about what he was doing, he pulled a remote from his pocket and began the music playback so that it echoed through the room.

The notes of the intro flowed around them, and he kept her grounded by not allowing her to glance away. When she opened her mouth to sing, he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze and offered her an encouraging smile.

And sing she did. Each delightful note came from deep inside her, and he found himself caught in some kind of spell, the same type she’d woven around him back at Words & Music. He hung on each rise and fall of that delicious voice until the last note echoed through the booth.

The song might have ended, but not the magic. Brad found himself leaning closer, his eyes fixed on her soft, pink mouth. Desire ripped through him as she mimicked his action, drawing ever so slowly closer until he could feel the sweet heat of her breath against his face.

With a groan of surrender, he captured her mouth with his own, giving her no warning as his tongue swept deep inside.

Savannah nearly knocked over her stool when she rose to thread her arms around his neck. She was such a little bit of a thing that he could stay seated and draw her between his outstretched legs without interrupting the kiss. As she moved closer, Brad wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her hard against him.

The kiss turned ravenous, and he realized that he was done fighting this attraction.

About the Author: Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis and is a high school psychology teacher. She owns a small stable of harness racehorses and enjoys spending time at Hoosier Park racetrack. She has been an Amazon #1 Bestseller multiple times and has won numerous awards including two HOLT Medallions.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon Author Page

Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, or Google.

Lovestruck Book Tour and Giveaway: Abigail Sharpe and Sandy James

7_3 Lovestruck-Blog-Tour

Welcome to our stop on the Lovestruck Blog Tour, where we are featuring Abigail Sharpe and Sandy James. Leave a comment or ask the authors a question and you’re entered to win a digital copy of BOTH books through NetGalley (US only please).
Top Five Things You’d Never Guess About Abigail Sharpe (or maybe you would)
1. Even though I’ve been in Florida since 1983, I still consider myself a Yankee. It wasn’t my idea to move to the here, though the sunshine state does have a lot to offer. Still – give me leaves that actually change colors in the fall and more seasons than just Summer and Not Summer.

The beach is a nice benefit, though. Sand in Massachusetts is yellow and grainy. The sand down here is smooth and white.

2. I’ve been participating in the local medieval faire since the early ‘90s. I’ve even performed at different faires around the state. How did I get started doing this, you might ask? A good friend of mine was already a participant, and his group needed more performers. He said to me, “You’ve got big boobs. Want to be a wench?” And geez, with an offer like that, how could I refuse?

3. My faire years have come full circle. I might have started out as a wench, but I moved on to do living chess matches and fighting with a sword, quarterstaff, and knitting needles. Then I became a street character, and now I’m back to being a wench. But instead of standing around and having big boobs, I’m part of a singing wench act called Just Desserts. We even recorded an album this year!
I’m the low alto. We sing bawdy songs and have a great time doing it. Just don’t bring your kids to our show or let them listen to the album, unless you want to have a long, uncomfortable talk with them afterward about a cuckoo’s nest or a chandler.

4. I’ve had so many jobs in my lifetime – most of them in college while trying to earn money to stay in school. I’ve been: a cashier at a fast food restaurant, a video arcade attendant, an associate at a costume shop during Halloween (*that* was FUN), a market researcher (the people that stand around in a mall and ask, “would you like to take a survey?”), a stock person at a clothing store, an associate at a department store, a computer lab operator, a help desk customer service representative, a receptionist, a watch-seller, an assistant to the vice-president at a hospital, someone whose sole job it was to answer phones that never rang, and a technical writer.

5. In addition to singing, I also play the violin. Well, I *played* the violin, and could strum it now if necessary. I was pretty good, too, but it didn’t do anything for me. Singing is better because you always have it with you. I also want to learn how to play piano. There’s one in my house and I bang on it occasionally – but I don’t read bass clef.

7_3 who wants to marry a doctorAs a single mom and pediatrician, Sabrina Bankhead doesn’t have time for romance. All that changes when she reluctantly agrees to take part in a dating show fundraiser for a children’s hospital. But once she sets eyes on the journalist hired to cover the show, none of the four contestants stand a chance. If she doesn’t choose one of the eligible bachelors, the hospital doesn’t raise a cent. What’s a lovestruck doc to do? Investigative journalist Quinn Donnelly is on the mend after an assignment in Afghanistan left him both physically and emotionally scarred. Though he’s itching to return overseas and finish his story, he’ll have to be content with this fluff piece assignment to cover a local dating show. One-night stands are Quinn’s forte-but after he meets Sabrina, he’s ready to say yes for the long haul. After years of chasing the next big story, Quinn is starting to wonder if maybe home really can be where the heart is . . .

Enjoy an excerpt:

“I just called to…” Sabrina’s words jammed in her throat. No way could she admit that she just wanted to hear his voice.

Thankfully Quinn didn’t make her finish her sentence. “I’m glad you called.” The gruff in his voice was still there, but it had changed to something softer, sending a little thrill down her body.

“You are?” Was that low, throaty sound coming from her?

“Yeah. I missed you tonight.”

A niggling feeling centered in her brain and sent stabs of doubt to her heart. I missed you sounded good, but maybe he just missed his bed warmer. “Missed me?”

“I mean, you know, talking to you.” Quinn chuckled. “Don’t get me wrong – having you naked is a nice side benefit, but I don’t only want you for your body, Doc. I didn’t get to speak to you today, and when I got home it seemed my day wasn’t complete.”

She had the same feeling, but tried to play it down. “It was a busy day.”

He yawned, and she heard his bed sheets rustling. “Good thing there’s email and cell phones so we can keep talking once I’m done with the show and back in Afghanistan. You’d make the day brighter even in a desert.”

She covered her eyes to quell the burning behind them, wanting to block out the reminder that he wasn’t in Harbin forever, that he’d be leaving and putting himself in danger, taking a good part of her with him. “That’s a nice thing to say, Quinn.”

“Apparently I talk a lot when I’m tired.” He gave a huff of laughter. “You don’t have to humor me.”

“I woke you. I’m sorry. You should go back to sleep.”

“Talking to you is much nicer than sleep.”

Her heart fluttered into her stomach, danced down to her toes and shot right back to her chest. Forget killing her. This was drawn-out torture, one to which she willingly submitted.

“Let me turn off my light.” Her voice dropped and got breathy. She flipped her switch and cuddled under her sheets with the phone tucked under her ear. She wrapped her arms around herself, imagining Quinn’s warm, strong hands in place of the flannel on her skin, touching her, stroking her in lazy circles while they lay in each others arms. “I’m back.”

His voice was no longer gruff, but still low, almost a growl. “How was your date tonight?”

Was that jealousy? “Do we have to talk about it? Can’t you wait until Friday like everyone else?”

“I can, but I’m not everyone else. Haven’t I told you this before?”

Like she needed the reminder. It had been a long, long time since a man had shattered her safe world.

“Besides, we’re taping tomorrow. Remember I’m heading to Atlanta on Friday to see my doctors.”

The doctors that would clear him to return to the desert. The doctors that would send him away from her. She focused on the present. “Brian wasn’t the egotistical megalomaniac that he was last week.”

“Hmmmm.” He chuckled. “Does this mean I have competition?”

“I dunno,” she teased. “He did take me out dancing. You know that’s the way to a girl’s heart.”

“As long as it’s not the way to her mind.” He cleared his throat, and his voice became cautious. “I know I don’t have any say in your personal life, but if you think you could be happy with him, you should see where it goes.”

“Oh.” What the hell did that mean? Disappointment tightened her chest like a blood pressure cuff and her eyes moistened. What was she thinking? “Look, it’s getting late. You should sleep.”

“Don’t hang up.” His voice lowered again, almost a whisper. “We’ve never able to spend a full night together. If this is the only way, then you have to stay on the phone.”


“I do have to warn you. I snore.”

She laughed softly and turned on her side, snuggling under the covers, her emotions playing havoc with her common sense. “I know.”

About Abigail Sharpe: 7_3 Author Photo_SharpeAbigail is a Boston-bred Yankee now eating grits and saying “y’all” in North Central Florida. She dreamed more of being a stage actress or joining the CIA than being an author. While she still enjoys participating in community theater productions and singing karaoke, the secret-agent career was replaced by hours at her computer, writing stories of love and laughter and happily ever after.  Abigail lives with her husband, two kids, and one crazy princess puppy. You can keep up with her on Goodreads, Facebook or on her website.


Abigail’s SM:









Five Fun Facts about the Ladies Who Lunch Series
Sandy James
1. The idea for the series is based on my real life crew of friends who eat lunch in the teachers’ break room every school day.

2. I literally “dreamed” up the series at an RWA Conference in New York City. I wanted to pitch a new contemporary series idea at a pitch appointment, but hadn’t truly developed one. I took a short nap before my session and voila! The idea came to me!

3. I waited five years to be able to work with my editor, Latoya Smith. I’d met her at a conference where I timed authors pitching her and then pitched her myself. She didn’t buy that series, but we kept in touch as I improved as an author. The Ladies Who Lunch finally allowed me to collaborate with her.

4. The heroine’s first names have significance to me. Mallory is my Carina editor and one of my biggest cheerleaders. Juliana is a fellow teacher (who, like her namesake, left teaching to pursue another career). Bethany is a friend and fellow author who also designed the covers for my indie books. And Danielle is Mallory’s sister in real life, and I honored her for the courage she showed during a health crisis.

5. I am bringing back a character from my first book, Turning Thirty-Twelve, as the hero in the fourth book in the series. Get ready to see a grown-up Nate Ryan get close to Danielle Bradshaw!

7_3 signed sealed and deliveredJuliana has spent thirteen years in the same teaching job. She’s ready to dive into a new career with both feet . . . when a run-in with the hottest man she’s ever seen knocks her head over heels. But with her failed marriage to a fellow teacher fresh on her mind, Jules can’t afford to lose herself in a relationship-no matter how perfect it may seem.  Connor Wilson has hit rock bottom when he loses his career as a top-notch Realtor because of a large gambling debt. Now, in a small town he finds a fresh start-and a gorgeous redhead who sparks new life into him. Together they start a successful real estate company, but when pleasure sneaks into the business, they’ll have to decide what they can let go . . . and what they can’t live without.

Enjoy an excerpt:

Connor Wilson leaned back in his chair and waited for the presentation to start. Not that the seminar was going to change his mind about facing this new real estate market solo. He was there strictly for research, learning everything he could about the competition.

He’d made this move to such a small market for all the right reasons, and there was profit to be had here. He could smell it as easily as a pig sniffing for truffles.

Max Schumm. Cloverleaf’s number one Realtor. He held court near the front of the conference room, close to the table his assistants had piled with swag—calendars, pens, refrigerator magnets. Not a surprise that his office staff, his minions, were all women while his Realtors were mostly men. He counted only two ladies in the bright blue Schumm blazers, and every advertisement he’d checked contained listings by males.

The town and the surrounding counties were ripe for the picking.

Time for the king to get knocked off his throne.

Glancing around the three big, round tables set with six places each, Connor sized up the people who thought they might have the chops to sell homes. A pitiful lot it was. He’d dismissed each and every one, noticing Max doing the same thing as he appraised the newbies. The only person Max kept staring at was Connor, probably because he knew a true salesman when he spotted one.

Perhaps he even recognized him from his past. Indianapolis wasn’t a huge market, but it was somewhat close and Connor had been well known there. Two years away wasn’t all that long to distance himself from making sales or getting new listings. Their paths might have crossed on a long-distance move, although he was sure he’d have remembered a man like Max. Damn if the guy didn’t look like an eighties game show host, from his oversprayed hair to his fake tan to his far-too-white teeth.

What Max didn’t know was that Connor had no intention of becoming part of Schumm Homes. While Max would undoubtedly make him an offer of employment, there was only one firm Connor intended to work for—the newest agency in town.

Wilson Realty.

The time for the program to begin came and went, causing him to make a mental note, matching the information he’d already gathered. Tardiness was one of Max’s sins. He had others, but the most mentioned was his disregard for other people’s time.

Just as Max stepped closer to the podium, talking in low tones with the Ramada’s technical advisor, a kid who had to be right out of college, a couple appeared at the double-door entrance.

Connor caught and held his breath when he saw the woman.

Hair the color of a setting sun—the most gorgeous shade of natural red he’d ever seen. It was long and down, bouncing around her shoulders in wavy cascades. She wore a perfect black dress. Not a slutty “little black dress” but one that would work fine for business and pleasure, with a square neck that showed a hint of generous cleavage. She was curvy without being too curvy. Her legs seemed to go on forever, and the black stilettos were enough to finish him off.

He was no longer thinking about Max Schumm or real estate or the Cloverleaf market. Connor wasn’t going to be paying an ounce of attention to anything anyone had to say tonight. Not with the redheaded vision heading right for his table. Too bad she was with another guy, because there was nothing he wanted more than to take her home.

It had been a long time since he’d felt such a swift and severe attraction. The closer she drew, the harder his heart pounded. Since the last empty seats were at his table, it was a given she and her escort were going to sit next to him.

“Mind if we sit here?” she asked, her husky voice hitting him right in the groin.

“Um, no. Go ahead.” Then the blood started flowing back to Connor’s brain long enough for him to remember his manners. He stood up and pulled out the chair for her, drawing a lopsided smile from her escort, who hadn’t made a move to help.

She dropped a rather large black purse on the floor, sat down, and smiled sweetly over her shoulder as Connor pushed her up to the table. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

Her perfume drifted his way. Something light yet sensual. Hell, everything about her was sensual. She moved like a feline, all sleek lines and confidence. He wanted to sweep the gorgeous creature into his arms, carry her up to his third-floor room, and make love to her until they both collapsed in sated exhaustion. He let a light chuckle slip as he wondered what she’d say if he up and told her exactly what he was thinking.

She tossed him a charming smile, but he couldn’t enjoy it because he was too busy looking to see if she or the guy who’d escorted her to the table wore a wedding ring.

Neither did, and Connor did a mental jig. He wasn’t leaving without this beautiful creature’s phone number.

Maybe his fresh start in this new place was truly going to be his salvation. Maybe he could really leave his past behind and forge a new life here after all. Maybe a leopard could finally change his spots.

For the first time in as long as he could remember, he felt the confidence and purpose that had been missing for far too long. He would make a life for himself here, earn a decent profit, and maybe get back to the world of the living.

Only time would tell.

About Sandy James: 7_3 Sandy JamesSandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.


Sandy’s SM:








The Bottom Line by Sandy James – Spotlight and Giveaway


Please welcome Sandy James, who’s here to celebrate the release of her story, THE BOTTOM LINE from Forever. Enter to win A Pink Apollo 39-Piece Tool Set with a copy of THE BOTTOM LINE by Sandy James or eBook copies of THE BOTTOM LINE. Use the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to enter.

Top 5 Things We’d Never Guess About Sandy James

1. Sandy spent time in jail.
Sounds worse than it is. Sandy’s bachelor degree is in criminology, so in college she did internships in the probation and public defenders’ offices. As a result, she spent time vistiing the jail, interviewing prisoners for pre-sentence reports.

2. Sandy may be a small town girl, but she loves New York City.
After a visit in 2009 with her sister, Sandy fell in love with Manhattan. Broadway. Times Square. Restaurant Row. Central Park. Although she’d miss the Midwest, she’d love a chance to live in New York City.

3. Although she loves being a teacher, Sandy would retire if she could.
Twenty years in a public school takes a toll. Because she has lupus, each school year gets a little tougher physically. But because she loves teaching so much, she would still teach workshops on psychology for writers.

4. Sandy was only seventeen when she met her husband.
He walked into the McDonald’s where she worked and asked her out. She took a chance and went on a hayride date for Halloween. They’ve been together ever since, and celebrated their thirtieth wedding anniversary in 2013.

5. Sandy is much more likely to be reading a true crime book than a romance.
After college, she never lost her fascination with the study of how a criminal’s mind works.

TheBottomLine_ebookTHE BOTTOM LINE by Sandy James (May 6, 2014; Forever Yours E-Book)

When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. Surviving a failed marriage and an illness that almost takes her life, high school teacher Mallory Hamilton needs the Ladies Who Lunch more than ever . . .

After a year of upheaval, Mallory has had her fill of change-with one exception. Her house is a disaster, and she wants it fixed. Hiring a contractor to finish the projects her ex-husband started will help her banish the past so she can return to the life she had before everything went awry. But her contractor is sexy, sweet, and single, which threatens the peaceful, solitary life Mallory has planned for herself.

Ben Carpenter has had a hard time raising his daughter without his ex-wife’s help. His new client’s projects will give him the extra income he needs, not to mention afternoons alone with a gorgeous woman. Though their attraction is undeniable, Ben sees the fear and pain hiding in Mallory’s beautiful eyes. But how can he help her if she won’t let him in? Ben can fix just about anything-but can he fix Mallory’s broken heart?

Enjoy an excerpt:

“I need to go.” She tried to walk toward her friend.

His hand snaked around her upper arm. “Wait. What’s wrong?”

Her responding yawn was as phony as the ones Amber gave him when she wanted to skip school and faked exhaustion. “I told you, I’m tired. Need to catch up on my sleep on the weekends.”

He glanced over to Juliana and saw she was engrossed with a man. “If you came with your friend, you’re out of luck. She’s gonna be busy for a while. Maybe I could drive you home? You won’t even have to give me directions.”

She didn’t rise to his teasing this time, which made him even more convinced he’d done something wrong. The problem was he didn’t have a clue what it was.

“No, thanks. I drove myself.”

“Then let me walk you to your car.”

“You don’t have to do that. This is a mixer, remember?” She shooed him away with the back of her hand. “Go mix.”

“I’ve mixed with the only woman I care to mix with.”

At least Mallory smiled. “That sounded kinda dirty.”

A small crack in the wall. He’d try his best to crawl through. “Only kinda dirty? I’ll have to try harder next time.”

Reaching for her hand, he hoped she’d let him lead her to the dark parking lot—the perfect place for a test kiss.

He’d always believed in finding out if there was any chemistry before taking the next step with a woman. This time, he’d reversed the order, getting to know Mallory before checking to see if they were compatible physically. Since they’d clicked, Ben was dying of curiosity to see if that connection extended to the physical.

“C’mon, Mallory. Let me walk you to your car. It’s dark out there. I need to know you’re safe.”

“Fine.” Her gaze found her friend. “Juliana’s obviously not ready to go.”

“Obviously,” he drawled.

“You don’t have to bother, you know.”

“No bother.” He swept his hand toward the door. “Lead the way.”

Her SUV was about as far away from his truck as she could’ve parked.

Mallory stood at the driver’s door and gave him a hesitant smile. “I should go.”

“I had fun, Mallory.”

“Me, too.”

Her face lifted when she smiled at him. The moonlight bathed her skin, making her glow. The crickets’ song broke the silence that had descended upon them.

The perfect scene for a first kiss.

Leaning in, Ben gave her time to pull away if she didn’t welcome his attention. Her eyes widened then her lids lowered to half-mast. He was smiling when his mouth found hers.

The softness of her lips against his was painfully sweet. Moving slowly, he put his hands to her waist and pulled her closer, close enough her body pressed against his.

She tasted sweet, like wine, and he wanted more. Tickling the seam of her lips, he took quick advantage when she opened to his tongue.


He’d wanted to know if they had any. The first brush of her tongue across his told him everything he needed to know.

They had enough chemistry to blow up a laboratory.

Mallory rose on tiptoes, so he held her closer, wrapping his arms around her, and finally lifting until her feet dangled. He wanted to devour her, to drink in all her sweetness. Her response was heated, frantic. She looped her arms around his neck and laced her fingers through his hair, tugging as though she couldn’t get enough of him.

They were playing with fire, one that could quickly flare out of control if he didn’t call a stop to it. But… damn. He loved kissing her.

He turned, leaning his back against her Escape while he ravaged her mouth. She shifted, rubbing against his erection. He groaned, hugging her tighter. Everything inside him screamed to take her home, to beg her to let him make love to her.

Ben finally found the strength to drag his mouth away, and he let Mallory slide down his body. She stopped when her small feet were on top of his. She weighed next to nothing.

He had to smile at her bemused expression. The woman looked thoroughly kissed.

He had to stop this now or he wasn’t sure he’d be able to regain any control.

“I—I should go,” Mallory whispered.

“Yeah.” If he tried to say anything more, he’d probably sound like a blabbering fool.

“See you Monday?”

Ben nodded while she chirped off her alarm. He opened her door and waited until she slid behind the wheel.

“Okay, then. Bye.”

He couldn’t help himself and leaned back in to brush one more kiss over her lips. Then he closed her door.

As she drove away, he noticed the magnetic pink ribbon—the one for breast cancer awareness he’d seen on lots of other cars. After hearing about her mother, he understood its significance.

He went to his truck, ready to leave. There was no sense in going back inside since the woman he wanted to spend time with was on her way home.

At least Monday was only two days away…

TheBottomLineSandy JamesSandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

Buy Links:
Social Media Links:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday Spotlight: Sandy James

Story Ideas

When my local chapter of Romance Writers of America meets, one thing we always do is introduce ourselves and tell the genre we write. I don’t have too much trouble with the name, but I never really knew how to answer about my genre. I finally found the right thing to say. I’m a shape-shifter. If you look at my catalog of books, you’ll see that I write a little bit of everything.

Turning Thirty-Twelve is very mainstream with strong romantic elements. Murphy’s Law and All the Right Reasons are purely contemporary romances. Free Falling and Faith of the Heart have paranormal elements, but Free Falling is also a romantic suspense. The Amazon series is urban fantasy. I write a little of this and little of that. But I think it keeps me excited about my stories as I always try to stretch my wings and improve my skills.

The ideas for all these stories are as varied as the genres. Sometimes I’ll be inspired by family members. For example, many of the characters in All the Right Reason are tributes to my Hungarian relatives. Sometimes I’ll give my characters physical characteristics of my students or name them after them. Obviously the people and animals we know from racing are major influences. Faith of the Heart was inspired by a Christmas Eve church service. The Amazon series was dreamed up by my son and me as we waited in a dim theater for a movie to start one Sunday afternoon. I’m grateful to all the people I’ve known for their inspiration and undying support.

Jackie Delgado didn’t want a new man in her life until a dreaded blind date turns out to be more exciting than she’d ever imagined.

When her youngest son leaves for college, Jackie is hit hard by empty nest syndrome and pours herself into her work as a teacher. Bowing to pressure from friends, Jackie agrees to a blind date. But when Mark Brennan calls, she realizes the date won’t be “blind.” He’s the father of one of her students.

Widower Mark Brennan isn’t looking for love. After only a few dates with Jackie, he realizes he’s quickly forming deep feelings for her. Wracked with guilt that he’s “abandoning” his late wife, Mark resists the pull toward dynamic Jackie. When Mark’s daughter begins to date Jackie’s son, things become more complicated.

Can Jackie and Mark find the courage to leave the past behind and embrace a new love? And how will Mark’s daughter’s pregnancy affect all their lives?

Thursday Spotlight: Sandy James

In Praise of Contests

It’s very hard for new writers to find something that helps them build confidence. I was lucky enough to have a published author as a friend, and she became my mentor. She offered encouragement when I needed it, but she also gave me a quick kick in the pants when I needed that, too. Her feedback was invaluable to me, but I wanted to spread my wings. She encouraged me to enter one of the many RWA chapter writing contests.

I hit the finals in the third contest I entered, and from that moment on, I became a “Contest Diva.” I targeted good contests, polished my stories, and entered them for two years. Making the finals was always a rush, and I loved being able to brag that I finaled six different manuscripts in fifteen contests. But what I got that was more important to me was feedback.

The hard work put in by my contest judges to give me helpful suggestions and good advice helped me become a better writer. While I might not have been thrilled about all their comments, the majority were helpful and constructive, and my books are better because of these dedicated judges.

About the time I figured my contest days were over, I decided to try my hand at published contests. My first book, Turning Thirty-Twelve, was named a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence Contest, Mainstream Category. It’s just hard for me to walk away from something as fulfilling as writing contests.

Wednesday Spotlight: Sandy James


Sometimes, I feel like a person tugged in two different directions. For the last fifteen years, I’ve been a social studies teacher – Psychology and United States History. My life revolved around teaching and nurturing teenagers. Add my own two children to the almost two-hundred new kids I have every year, and one could easily say my life was all about kids.

Then I started writing. When the younger of my two children was as senior in high school, I wrote my first book. Since that day, I’ve had two jobs. Those jobs make me one very busy lady, but it’s a good type of busy.

Whenever the school days get a bit too hectic, I can turn to my writing in the evenings and on weekends to help me find my focus again. I can live anywhere, be anyone, and never leave my nice suburban house. And whenever my writing tends to be stalled out or I become frustrated with a story, there’s almost always a student activity I can attend to bring me back from make believe to reality. Of course, there are always summer vacations, spring breaks, and two weeks off at Christmas to catch up on writing or editing. I believe I’ve chosen two careers that compliment each other well.

So I might be torn in two, but both parts are sublimely happy.

Tuesday Spotlight: Sandy James

Titles/Character Names

I’m often asked about where I come up with the titles for my books. Actually, I don’t find the titles; the titles find me.

Every book I’ve written has been a process of laying down the first several chapters as I look for a focus, something about the characters or the conflict that speaks to me. Once I grasp the direction of the plot, that’s when the title comes to me.

In Murphy’s Law, the title started as a pun on Katie Murphy’s name. But that title quickly took over the story. Everything that could possible go wrong for Seth and Katie went decidedly wrong. Their lives and their love became the epitome of the stereotypical Murphy’s Law.

In my urban fantasy series, I wrote quite a bit of the first book before the title appeared. In fact, I had to come up with a title because I wanted to enter it in a contest. Having no idea what to call it, I settled on Contemporary Amazon. Awful, I know, but it hit the finals under that name. Right after I sent in the entry, Rebecca’s character revealed her true nature. She might be a contemporary Amazon, but she was a damned reluctant one, hence The Reluctant Amazon. After that, the rest of the titles were easy. Each Amazon’s book is named after her weakness. Hopefully, those books will find their way to print soon.

The only book that I wrote around a title was Turning Thirty-Twelve. I sat down on my forty-second birthday and wrote a monologue about my own middle-aged angst. I joked about how I always tell my age to my students. I’m not forty-five; I’m thirty-fifteen. Jackie Delgado was born from that monologue’s pledge that she would make that time the best year of her life.

Monday Spotlight: Sandy James


My husband and I own a small stable of harness racehorses. Buying our first horse was his mid-life crisis, and I greatly preferred having a racehorse to a red sports car or a Harley-Davidson. And it wasn’t as if I’d let him have a trophy wife. These beautiful animals have added so much to our lives, and we spend quite a bit of time at the Indiana racetracks.

Horses in general are very smart animals. Racehorses are even more so because they’re working animals who need to learn tasks quickly. When I started writing Murphy’s Law, I realized the animals in the story were characters just as important as the humans. By the time I ended the story, I felt as much of an emotional connection to Katie and Seth’s horses as I did to any of the secondary characters. I even brought back both Spun Gold and Monterey Jack when the Damaged Heroes series returned to the track in the third book, All the Right Reasons.

My favorite horse will always be Heart’s Prince. He’s the model for Spun Gold in Murphy’s Law. Prince was the first horse we ever had bred. His mother needed to retire from racing, but she was one of the toughest competitors we ever owned. We hoped she’d pass that desire to be the best along in the bloodline. Prince has turned out to be one of our most consistent performers. His mother truly gave her colt her racing heart. Unlike Spun Gold, Prince didn’t do well in his two-year-old season. Being as he was born rather late in the season, that wasn’t a surprise. But we were worried about whether he would race better when he turned three. He didn’t let us down. He made it to the winner’s circle a few times, and he consistently earned checks and seemed to like to be second most often. Prince made us proud.