Sandra has been writing since the day her mom gave her a yellow locking journal in high school. Rather than penning long detailed entries about young love, she told funny rich, stories featuring the characters she encountered at school, at her after school job selling dresses at Pizitz department store, and walking around in her life in Huntsville, Alabama.
As an undergraduate, Sandra attended the University of Alabama. Where she was introduced to Flannery O’Conner and William Faulkner. She read Barry Hannah’s Airships and Ray and fell in love with Hannah’s ability to tell simple stories woven around deeply flawed complex characters. One night after seeing the movie The Deer Hunter, Sandra and a friend stopped at Lee’s Tomb a bar right off campus for a beer. She was full of ideas and herself and she got into an argument about the themes and meaning of the movie with two men sitting in the bar. One of them turned out to be Barry Hannah. He humored her and he made her think. Among her prize possessions is her original copy of Ray and her collection of first editions of every book Hannah ever wrote.
A few years later, Sandra was assigned the book A Short History of a Small Place in a Communication class. Part of the assignment was to write a bio of the author, who turned out to be twenty-seven year old T.R. Pearson. Those were the days before you could find out everything about someone with only a click. A bit of an overachiever, Sandra decided to track T.R. down. She found a number for his parents in North Carolina. His father answered the phone, and was thrilled to learn that “someone outside the family is actually reading T.R.’s book!” And, in that much gentler and less suspicious time he was kind enough to give her T.R.’s phone number so she could call him, which she did. Not only did she get the information for her bio, T.R. invited her to visit him in New York, should she ever find herself there. A few months later, she and a group of students traveled to a conference at Seaton Hall University right across the river from the Big Apple. She called T.R. and he met them for coffee at Windows on the World, the restaurant that used to slowly spin atop the World Trade Center. T.R signed Sandra’s copy of A Short History of a Small Place – “to Sandra, my first fan.” A keepsake she still treasures to this day. A few years ago, on the way to another book signing for T.R. Sandra found the inspiration for her book 52 Sundays. Because of that, she owes him a drink if he’s ever in San Diego.
When Sandra left Alabama for graduate school she was intent on becoming a writer. She wrote beautiful, richly detailed short stories about “barn people” and southern belle mean girls. But she faced an academic and literary world enamored with postmodernism, feminist theory, and minimalist prose. The highlight of her graduate writing career was the R&R (rewrite and resubmit) from Gordon Lish editor of The Quarterly. She still has that note personally signed by Lish on Quarterly letterhead. The low point was being told in a writing class full of Doc Martin wearing students dressed in all black, whose prose consisted of three, four, and five word sentences that, “no one actually speaks the way you write” and “you obviously don’t know any evolved women.” As far as she knows, none of them were ever published.
After graduate school, Sandra embarked on a career as an organizational communication consultant. And, she turned her talents into a successful academic writing career. Her co-authored book, Business and Professional Communication in the Global Workplace, now in its third edition, was based on her consulting work with Fortune 500 companies.
But fiction still called to her. Over the past ten years, she has written a chick lit series based on detective wantabee, C.C. Maxwell. She has completed two books in the series, The First Bad Thing and Falling Toward Home, and is working on the third The Death of Love.
In her late forties, Sandra returned to graduate school. She sold her consulting company and was ready to embark on a new adventure. She studied history and writing. She took classes with Lee Gutkind, the “father of creative non-fiction” and Stephen Pyne, the prolific author of books on science, fire, ice and writing.
It took a lot of work, but Sandra finally found her storytelling voice again. The voice that had been dormant since her early forays into writing years ago. She has just completed a memoir called 52 Sundays: End, Middle, Beginning A Journey in Reverse. And she is working on a new marriage memoir called I Do! Leaving Cinderella at the Altar.
Sandra’s writing experiences have taught her two things: Writing in isolation is isolating. Writers need each other. Working with other writers makes us better writers and better authors. Writers need a community. Together, we can support one another, help where we can, and encourage each other to be our best. As the curator for the Beautiful Writers Group she shares her writing, publishing and teaching experience with other writers.
In addition to curating BWG, Sandra is a writing coach, editor, and teacher. For more information on her services and classes, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sandra lives in San Diego. When she isn’t writing she is exploring her new hometown with her husband Kim. They met last year while Sandra was conducting research for 52 Sundays. And yes, it was a God thing.