Monday, November 19, 2012

Guest Blogger Sandra Orchard on Layering

A Suspense Writer’s Technique for Adding New Layers to your Story by Sandra Orchard

While reading a straight romance recently, I noted many incidental details that, in the end, served no other purpose than to convey a picture of the setting or a visual of the character. Yet as a suspense writer reading about the “blue satin throw pillow” on the sofa, for example, my mind immediately concluded this has got to be significant.

Someone is going to get smothered by that pillow!

Okay, this is romance, I reminded myself. No one dies.

But as I read further, I realized that non-suspense writers miss out on a playground full of opportunities to layer more depth into their stories.

For me, one of the most fun parts of writing a mystery/suspense is dreaming up ways to plant clues that will divert my readers’ suspicions in multiple directions.

But way more cool than that is finding the tidbits that my subconscious planted, and playing with them.  

Your subconscious is doing this, too, whether you realize it or not.

A mystery reader—because she’s attuned to looking for clues and spying out red herrings—will stumble over many toys the non-suspense writer unwittingly leaves lying around her story. Toys that, if she noticed them, and played with them, could add interesting new layers to the plot, or give added depth to a character, or perhaps even give the story an intriguing twist.

Let me give a simple example from the movie The Pacifier, in which a disgraced Navy Seal must babysit a family of undisciplined children to protect them from bad guys hunting for the secret their father took to his grave. This story had a lot of fun details. Things like the young girl crossing her eyes to make the baby cry and annoy Mr. Navy Seal. Or Mr. Navy Seal having to do a silly panda dance that the dad had made up to get the young boy to sleep. The kind of things that might randomly pop into your head as you’re writing. But what makes them even better is that, in the end, the screenwriter drew them, and many other, apparently incidental details together to defeat the bad guys and recover the secret.  

Just about every writer has had that serendipitous experience at some point in a story when they come up with an ingenious element and realize that they’d unconsciously laid the groundwork for it all along.

Today I want to help you recreate that experience every time you sit down to write.

Here’s what you do: First read what you wrote yesterday and note every specific detail you included for which you don’t already have a plan.

Ask yourself questions about this detail, the most important being how could I use this in the story. What hooks readers is a specific detail that doesn’t quite fit. It suggests possibilities or raises questions that can help you layer greater depth into your characters or plot.

Then play with ways to include the ideas that seem the most promising.

Clear as mud?

Let’s go back to the blue satin pillow. It must have some significance to the pov character, since she took note of it as she walked into the room. Right?

Why? Why blue? Why satin? Is this an heirloom pillow passed down from her grandmother? Does it hold special memories for her? Was it a gift from her first love?

Did she have a parent or spouse or child who was critically ill and used to lie on the sofa with his or her head on the pillow? Did someone sew it for her? Did she sew it? Was it a shower gift for a wedding that never happened, but she could never bear to part with it?

Is it the only “rich” item in a room full of shabby belongings? A remnant of a life she left behind? A life she was pushed from? Is this the only throw pillow in the room, or one of many? Is it a pillow that wasn’t there the last time she was in the room and doesn’t know how it got there? Did she have pillow fights with a beloved sibling as a kid? A sibling who has since died?

Hopefully you can see how any one of these questions could spawn some interesting depth to the character or a twist in the plot that the author hadn’t considered. It’s a great technique to use when you’re feeling blocked or feel like your story is slowing.

I like to write the ideas that come to me in a cluster map. Circling each one as it pops into my head, exploring the answers with lines and more circles, noting how a new idea might connect with other things going on in the story. The exercise is the writer’s equivalent of tipping over the toy box and playing. Have fun with it and see where it leads.

What techniques do you use to add additional dimensions to your story?

I'll be giving away a book to each of two winners- your choice of one of the three books in my Undercover Cops series, or an ARC of my Revell release to be mailed in spring 2013. Please say you'd like to be entered in the comments section. Winners will be announced in the Weekend Edition!

Sandra Orchard is the award winning author of several romantic suspense novels, including the RT’s Reviewer’s Choice award nominee, Critical Condition. She writes for Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense line, and has a new mystery/rs series debuting with Revell in June 2013. A member of ACFW, RWA and The Word Guild (Canada), Sandra loves to encourage other writers in their journey. She graduated from McMaster University and taught high school math for several semesters before starting her own family, which she homeschooled. She now writes full time…when not doting on her first grandchild. She lives in Niagara, Canada with her husband and the two children that are still at home. You can learn more about Sandra’s books and fun extras at or connect at

Critical Condition (from Love Inspired Suspense)
There's a murderer in the hospital, and nurse Tara Peterson is determined to prove it. With mysterious deaths in the cancer ward, anyone could be next. But no one wants to believe her…except undercover agent Zach Davis. The murderer wants Tara's suspicions silenced, permanently. To protect Tara, Zach lets her in on his secret, and unwittingly into his heart. Tara and her three-year-old daughter are like the family he lost years before. Zach will risk everything to keep them safe, no matter the cost.

Recently nominated by Romantic Times Magazine for a Reviewer’s Choice award, Critical Condition is the third book in Sandra’s series, Undercover Cops: Fighting for justice puts their lives—and hearts—on the line. 


  1. Can I just say that I love Sandra Orchard! One of the sweetest women I know! Great stuff here, and I totally agree. Suspense is so fun to write because of all the little clues, some intentional, some not, that weave through the story and point to the killer. Still haven't been able to find Critical Condition in stores so I have resorted to putting it on my Christmas list. :)

  2. Hi, Sandra! I just discovered cluster mapping a few weeks ago and it's helped so much with my plotting.

    I've never thought of reading the previous scene and thinking of purposes for the unplanned things there. Genious! Makes me excited to get back into the WIP and try it.

  3. I want to know more about this: I like to write the ideas that come to me in a cluster map. Circling each one as it pops into my head, exploring the answers with lines and more circles, noting how a new idea might connect with other things going on in the story. The exercise is the writer’s equivalent of tipping over the toy box and playing. Have fun with it and see where it leads.

    Looks like Natalie is ahead of the curve (again)... Do share!

    Great post Sandra. I do my best to add these things. A technique to make it easier would be so welcome! Thank you!!!

  4. I would love to be entered in the contest. IT sounds GREAT!

    MinDaf @ AOL.COM

  5. Excellent advice. Will try to incorporate this into my writing regime!

    I once was told by a crit partner how he liked that my broken door hinge in my story was a symbol for the romance plot and um, I had to admit I didn't put it in there for that at all! But I was like "yeah, that detail is a perfect symbol!" Now if I could only consciously harness that power! muhahahaha

  6. Sometimes I am so amazed at how a simple idea can make such a difference. Just re read and look for layering ideas. Thank you Sandra Orchard for one more great idea in the arsenal of genius stuff from Seekerville.
    I usually read plain romances but I would love to have a chance to win either of your prizes. I have to read suspense once in while to keep my heart beating.

  7. Hey there Sandra. I understood what you were saying and how non mystery/suspense authors may put something in without knowing. I remember reading a book and they made mention on an item describing it etc but it wasn't referred to again in the book and I kept thinking that item was going to be something special or be crucial to the story line and it wasn't mentioned again.
    (may not be on much this week will be away for a week)

  8. Hi Sandra. I an so excited about your post today. I'll be back later to absorb it all. Thank you for bringing this topic to Seekerville today.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  9. Hi Sandra! Love your books. I don't read too much suspense but you're one of my favorites. You and Debby Guisti.

    (Also, 'hi' from a fellow RT reader's choice nominee! I was pleased... and then when I saw the other names I was FLOORED. Such good company, what an honor.)

    Your thoughts of smothering people with satin pillows made me laugh out loud!

    I love tiny details. I also love that Chekhov quote: If you wave a gun in the first act, it must go off by the third.

    I try not to wave any 'guns' that won't be going off. And remember the 'guns' I have waved, so the reader isn't left hanging.

  10. Wow, I can't believe how many comments there are already! I'm so pleased that all of you are finding this helpful.

    Jenny, I'm especially glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks about items in a story coming back. :) Have a great week traveling.

    Virginia, thank you & congratulations!!! Your Seasons of Joy is sitting on the top of my Christmas reading pile, calling me to get started. I read nothing, but Christmas stories through December and look forward to getting started!!!

    Love you, too, Amy!

    Natalie, KC, Melissa, Mary, Cindy, I hope you'll find lots of toys to play with in your WIP today! :)

    Crystal, thanks for dropping in to throw your name in the hat! :)

  11. Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for sharing this. You've opened my eyes.

    I never heard of cluster mapping before, and I'm excited to learn about this and can't wait to try it.

    Thanks again!

    Jackie L.

  12. Bwahhahhahhahhahha! Sandra Orchard just gave me permission to look back on what I've written during NaMOWriMo.

    I'm not sure I understand the cluster map thing either. When I googled cluster maps I got weather maps,which I'm pretty sure you weren't referring to. Can you explain what a cluster map is?

  13. Hi Sandra,

    I'm not a suspense writer but you gave great tips on how to use your details as red herrings.

  14. Good morning, everyone! Sandra, I loved this post! So helpful. It gave me some ideas to try.

    Amy, what a great Christmas gift! I hope your family can find it for you. :)

    Natalie, I felt the same. Ideas started popping into my head as I read her post!

  15. KC, I actually have a mind mapping app for my Mac called MindNode Lite. If you use a Mac, you can check that out for a way to do brainstorming. If you don't, you can do it on paper, drawing lines between ideas that can connect. Or doing concentric circles to show what ideas connect and affect others.

  16. LOL, Melissa! I've done that before, too. Someone else discovered a symbol. Or else I discovered it later. It's nice to discover it when you still have time to feed reinforcements in. :)

  17. Great reminders, Sandra. I am sure I could better implement these little details. Thank you for the poke!

    Happy Monday, everyone!

  18. Good morning, Mary C (as in Cline, not Connealy). :) I love to read a good suspense every now and then, too. It not only keeps the blood pumping but also tends to keep me awake at night! LOL

  19. Jenny, that's such a good point! We need to be sure not to mention something prominently unless it really matters. Or otherwise the reader will pick up on it and then be disappointed when it turns out not to have been important after all (unless it was a red herring and intentional). :)

  20. Hi Sandra, Welcome to Seekerville. Great ideas. I've always thought writing was like a giant puzzle, esp the revision part. And I LOVE puzzles. So it tickled me that you gave that analogy.

    Great ideas and I too am interested in the cluster circles. Are they similar to Randy Ingermanson's snowflakes?

    Have fun today. My girlfriend just gave me a recipe for pumpkin dump cake with pecans so I made several. Help yourselves folks.

  21. Oh, Sandra, what an interesting POV on something like this!!!

    You woke me up to possibilities I tend to obscure.

    Awesome! Wonderful! Laughing in glee!!!

    You know, your technique can be applied to series development and writing as well...

    The helpful neighbor in book one might be in hospice care in book four and the town's/neighborhood's development has followed along.

    Or the bush planted by a heroine's grandmother to mark her first-year anniversary might be the decorated Christmas bush that guides someone home on a blizzardy night three books later.

    What a great post, Sandra!

  22. Good morning, Cindy.

    Virginia, that's the trick: remembering! A book can seem such a massive undertaking that it can be difficult to remember those threads. That's why I tend to write everything down. I'm always jotting notes! :)

  23. Good morning, Jackie!

    Kav, NO! Stay away from that Nano manuscript!! You can only look over it when it's finished! :)

  24. Good morning, Rose and Debra! Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Sandra! That sounds so yummy!! I'll be emailing you for that recipe!

  26. Ruthy, good point about using the technique for threads of a series!

  27. BTW, Ruthy, are you feeling better yet?

  28. I love layering and I'm intrigued about clustering, but for now I'll stick with my post-its and my plot board. I use a different color for each layer. Such as when I used a little boy's desire for a dog to symbolize his need for a home. So of course when he got the home, he also received a puppy.

    Thanks for a wonderful post. I love the cover of your LIS. I believe it's the first one I've seen without a person or animal. It gives the impression that something is missing and creates a desire to discover what that something is.

    Of course, first impressions can be totally wrong. :)

  29. Whew, got back from my walk to all these new comments! Glad to see all lot of them are Missy :) Thanks for inviting me here today, Missy. What a welcoming and encouraging group you all are!!

    Kav, Sandra and Jackie, here's a link to a post I did on my blog that includes a picture of a cluster map. It's basically brainstorming in a way that allows you to connect ideas as you go. Like Missy said there is software for this. I've tried it, but for me there's something about the physical action of connecting on paper that spurs on more ideas. I've never gotten through the whole book, but "Writing the Natural Way" by Rico is a book that explores the technique in great depth. The first step that I'm encouraging is to find those toys that you can play with :)

  30. Oops, forgot to give you the link to the cluster map blog:

  31. Melissa your comment about the friend finding the symbol of the hinge in your story makes me think of all those symbols we were forced to draw from the classics in English class...many of which the author probably never consciously included! LOL

    I love looking for symbols in movies and then pointing them out to my family to wow them with my insights. LOL

    Like in the movie Australia, it's almost like two movies. You think it's over when it's not. My family was stirring to get ready for bed, and I cried it can't be over. He has to go back to the tree. They can't have included the tree and not go back to it!!! My family all looked at me like I was crazy, but thankfully the screenwriters thought the same as me, and made me look smart. :)

  32. Ruth, awesome examples!! I'm getting back into the second book of my Revell series now after a too long hiatus working on an LIS. this is exactly what I need to do!

    Rose, Debra and others, please share if you come up with any examples in your own wips today!

  33. Oh, yes, Bridgett, I love my post it notes and storyboard. The ideas I decide to run with make it there. The cluster map is for playing :) I love the symbol you describe.

    Covers...interesting tidbit. Marketing has found that scenery pictures sell better for the suspense line, so you'll notice that most suspense have a scene. The authors whose name sell the book tend to be the LIS with people on them :) Whereas, yes, most of the LI contemp have people :)

  34. Sandra, I love your post. So helpful. I'm definitely going to check out your cluster map blog too. Thanks for sharing.

    I have a question. I'm revising my first book. Is there a way to do some of what you've described without major re-writing?

    Love this idea!
    Please do enter me for the drawing.

  35. Oh wow, this post really has my 'thinker' thinking this morning.
    Now, when I get home from work, I'm going to have to take your advice and reread my last scene. Thanks for sharing this, Sandra.
    I love symbolism. Now I just need to figure out a way to make it work for the story.

  36. Please enter me in the giveaway, would love to read Sandra's book.

  37. Working on a suspense novel now and I've been hunting the web for tips. THANK YOU for the idea of a cluster map. I've definitely been throwing in some important details, but you have to know the right place in the book to reveal their importance.

    On a side note, is there any suspense FORMULA I could locate online, sort of like a romance formula, for where climactic points should hit? I've been using the snowflake method, but had to modify it so the murderer isn't given away too early!

  38. Sandra,

    Just comparing layering to turning a toy box over and playing takes away all the stress. Not work, just play. Love that.

    I've also read few suspense but I'd love to read. Please enter me into the contest.

    Connie Queen

  39. Hi Sandra,

    What a sweet gem you are. I enjoyed your post on layering. I like the idea of a cluster map. I'll have to try it in my next novel. :)

    Blessings in your writing, and I'd love to be entered in the drawing.

    Jodie Wolfe

  40. Great post with GREAT ideas! I like the what-if types of questions you raised---looking at an object and trying to deepen the character by what she surrounds herself with.

    I'm with KC Frantzen, wanting to hear more about the cluster map.

    And definitely put my name in for a copy of your book! Thanks!


  41. Okay, just saw the blog post link about the cluster map, Sandra. Checking it out now....

  42. Ahh, Jeanne, revising without doing a lot of rewriting is a loaded question. If you wrote your first draft in a Nano type race to the finish then I'd expect you to have to do a lot of rewriting. If you write like me, where you figure out what's not working and fix it before you get too much further on in the story than not so much. In terms of layering in extras, and how much extra writing that would entail, depends on how major or minor the extra is. Sometimes I might add a sentence here or there. Sometimes I add entire scenes and decimate others after playing with one of the toys I left lying around. :) I must say that I've never been sorry for the extra work. I'll sometimes write a scene several different ways and then pick the best or combine a couple to find one that works best. The exercise always helps deepen my understanding of the character and utilize more meaningful actions and thoughts that are better motivated. Make sense?

  43. Pepper, one trick I use to help me come up with a symbol is to look at what's meaningful to the character. For example, my current series features a herbal researcher so she thinks a lot in plant metaphors, some of which I can use as symbols that extend beyond that scene. In my first book Deep Cover, the dove pictured on the front of the book is a recurring symbol. The hero gave the heroine a dove ornament when they dated formerly. A memento from the past carries a lot of emotional weight and make effective symbols. As you're eating lunch at work today, look around you, you could probably come up with half a dozen just by letting your mind wander in directions you wouldn't normally have thought about.

  44. Deborah, thanks for stopping by. You're entered :) don't have to wait until your next book. :)

    Heather, yes, the reveal. It's timing is what makes the story. I don't know of any formula online. I read "How to Write a Damn Good Mystery" which gave me some insights into the mystery genre, which is different than the romantic suspense genre, but my LIS editor likes it when I keep my villain a mystery (usually right to the end) so the book gave me some good insights.

  45. Connie, I started thinking of them as toys when I was coming to my computer every day and making little to no progress in my story. My creativity picked up when I started looking at it like play again, rather than work. :) Hope you experience the same!

  46. Emily, let me know if you have anymore questions about cluster maps.

  47. Ooh, this is good info!! Must tweet it. :-)
    I'd love to be entered!

  48. Nice post. Would love to be entered in the drawing.

  49. Hi Sandra,

    Great to see you here in Seekerville (my fellow Ontarian)!

    I loved this topic! You are so creative! That little blue pillow could spawn 15 new books! LOL.

    Great food for thought!

    I'd love to be in the draw. So happy for the success you've been having with LIS and now with Revell! Awesome!

    Have a great day, everyone. Oh, and if you could spare a few prayers, my mom has to go for an angiogram tomorrow and is really worried about it. I'll be staying overnight with her tomorrow to make sure she's okay (and I'm not a good nurse, believe me!) A few extra prayers would be welcome.

    sbmason at sympatico dot ca

  50. Hi Sandra! I'm thrilled to see you here, and your post is definitely going into my Keeper File--WOW! Thanks for sharing an amazing post with us today. Of course, I already knew you're amazing *smile* and the BEST Accountability Partner I could have---thank you. (no need to enter me in the drawing since I have--and LOVE--all your books!). ~ And Sue, prayers going up for your precious Mom. ~ ~ Okay Sandra--just for you--Enjoy my Georgia Peach Cobbler right out of the oven--it's okay to enjoy some before lunch, LOL. Hugs, Patti Jo

  51. Welcome to Seekerville, Sandra! Thanks for the terrific idea of using what might appear to be insignificant details to layer and enrich our story and characters. I printed your post and will go on a detail hunt in my wip. Thanks bunches!

    Patti Jo, hope there's enough peach cobbler for me, too!

    Praying for your mom, Sue, and for you.

    Hugs, Janet

  52. Bridgett, it sounds like you have a great system! I love to use sticky notes. :)

  53. Terrific post, Sandra, and thanks for joining us in Seekerville today!

    I actually experienced this kind of serendipity while working on my latest wip. Objects or people would pop up in scenes I was writing, and I had no idea what their significance was . . , until I got closer to the end of the book. Then I realized I had the perfect use for them, and they played important roles in the buildup to the climax and conclusion!

  54. Sandra, that's exactly the reason my family doesn't like to watch movies with me anymore!! They really get made at me when I ruin things for them and start predicting things. LOL

  55. Sue, I'll be praying for your mom and for you!

  56. Myra, you just made me think of one of those moments in my upcoming novel from LI, Georgia Sweethearts. I wrote a scene where I "discovered" that two of my secondary teen characters were going to be involved (don't want spoilers, so can't give more detail). But I had NOT planned it in the beginning. It turned out to be a really cool part of the plot! I love when that happens.

  57. This is such great advice Sandra. Things like this make a story so much richer. I think I'm weak in setting and clothing and description beyond faces and body language and part of that is I use such traditional settings and costumes.
    I mean most of my heroines own TWO dresses at most, both either gingham or calico, sprinkled with flowers. How much time do I really need to describe those???
    The heroes are similar. He dresses like...duh...a cowboy. The main dilemma being the color of his hat.
    They live in a cabin made of logs.

    So, I think I get lazy about setting the scene. Especially when you have ideas like this that could add such depth and richness to the story.

    I'm missing opportunities and now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go try harder. :)


  58. Myra, isn't that so cool, when your subconscious had it all worked out all along? :)

    Missy, that is too funny about the movies and your family!

    Happy toy hunt, Janet!

    Mmmm, Patti Jo, peach cobbler. I so wished you lived next door!

  59. Sue, great to see you here. I'll be praying for you and your mom. :)

    Jennifer, thanks for the tweet. So glad you found the info inspiring.

    Amy, thanks for stopping by :)

    Mary C, I'm with you on the little description. Here's the thing. I'm not urging more. I'm urging you to make it count. to be honest, clothing descriptions of what a character is wearing each and every time we meet them makes my eyes glaze over. But what if your heroine always had a daisy poked in the brim of her bonnet? Why? That's something the hero might notice and be curious about. Or the cowboy may have a unique set of spurs. Handed down from father or a father-figure or off a bad guy he brought in? Hope that helps!

  60. Oh boy do I ever LOVE this post. And NEED it! Will be implementing these ideas like THIS WEEK.

  61. Joanne, so happy you found this helpful. :)

  62. I love when something seemingly insignificant has meaning later in a story. My mind tends to note and remember these things, maybe because I grew up reading stuff like Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes and Encyclopedia Brown. Adds a delicious topping to the story.

  63. Sandra, that's a really good point about making the description count.

    In my upcoming book, I realized that heroine had been ridiculed for her clothes when little, so now she would always dress up. I didn't point it out. But had the hero notice it later--that she never wore jeans. I'm glad I did what you said! :)

  64. Sandra! Fabulous post--again, I learned some awesome stuff from you, as I always do. ;) I ought to go back and see if I can do that with my writing... :)

  65. Ah yes, Patricia, that's exactly it. Love the way you pictured it.

    Missy, I love what you're doing with your heroine. I scarcely dress my characters. LOL. I realized this when the art dept. for Revell asked me what my heroine would wear. LOL

  66. Oh Sandra, I have a feeling a throw pillow is going to play a prominent role in my suspense. Thanks for getting me to thinking!

    I definitely want to be entered in th drawing

  67. Sandra, I don't do setting or details like that naturally. My cp is always pulling it out of me! :)

  68. Sandra, thanks for the indepth response to my question. Yes, it makes lots of sense. :) I'm thinking, thinking, and rolling up my sleeves to do more work. :) I appreciate your thoughts!

  69. Hi Sandra; good to see you at Seekerville! I love your books and am anxious to read your latest!
    Please toss my name in the hat!
    Jackie S.


  70. Sandra, great to have you in Seekerville today. Thanks for all your layering tips. They're things I often overlook.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  71. Happy to help, Jeanne.
    Good to see you, Jackie :)
    Thank you Cara, Happy Thanksgiving to you and all, too! Here in Canada, we celebrated Thanksgiving back in October. :)

  72. Well I didn't know you're from Niagara, Canada. I'm from the other side of the falls, Buffalo.

    I've been waiting all week for this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  73. I know, Tina! Ever since I read her blurb I've been anxious to read it. :)

  74. It's been ages since I watched THE PACIFIER, but I knew exactly what you meant.

    I'd love to read a book from the Undercover Cops series thank you.

  75. Sometimes the smallest details can make a huge difference! You make layering/clustering sound simple--I need to work on it. :)

    Please enter me in the giveaway.
    nicnac63 AT hotmail DOT com

  76. Hey Tina, we're practically neighbors! You're in Mary :)

    I hope you find it easy CE...and fun!

  77. As a reader, i prefer novels with layers to the characters, but until now hadn't realized what made them that way! i would love to read either of your novels, Sandra. Thanks for sharing. i was wondering if you have relatives in western Canada? Thanks for your post!

  78. Thanks for this post Sandra. I love the idea of layering. Even though I am a new writer I have found so many instances of layers that pop up in my writing before I even know why they are there. It does make the story more colourful and fun. Both to read and to write!
    Thanks for the link about cluster maps. I look forward to diving into that tool.
    Would love to read one your suspence novels. Add me to the prize bucket please.

  79. Ugh. I'm behind on NaNo so my brain is numb. I will agree that Australia is like two movies. And my family hates watching movies with me too.

    We to tend to get into the plotting and characterization, don't we?

    Thanks again Missy and Sandra!

  80. Sandra, thanks for the tips. Inwould love to write suspense and always seem to have some element in my books, but I can never get it to meld together into a cohesive subplot. Maybe one day.

    I'd love to win one of your books.

    Ginger dot solomon at gmail dot com

  81. Would love to win your book Sandra!

  82. Hi Marianne, no, I don't have any relatives in Western Canada. I visited Vancouver for the first time this past July--beautiful!

    Jodi, welcome to the crazy ride of writing! You're so right. It's so fun when the layers show up before we know it. :)

    Ginger, I see myself in your comment, except that I'm the reverse. I write the suspense and have to work really hard at making the romance an equal plot. :)

    Sheila, thanks for dropping by and adding your name to the hat. :)

    So Missy, when do you pick a winner?

  83. Hey, SANDRA, I am SOOO sorry I'm late to the party, especially after reading your blog -- WOW!!! I love the way your brain works, girl, and I laughed out loud at the line, " Okay, this is romance, I reminded myself. No one dies."

    Uh, have you ever read a Mary Connealy book??? LOTS of people die and get shot and all kinds of horrible stuff! ;)

    And did I read the word "grandchild" in your bio??? Are you kidding me ... or is that picture above from high school???


    I've heard really good things about you, Sandra,

  84. You're so sweet, Julie. Yes, I have a grandbaby, and the picture is recent :) I'd forgotten about Mary C's books...good point. LOL

    Hugs, Sandra

  85. I love a book that doesn't make it too easy to figure out! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway!