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August 2011

My First Sale: Sandra Orchard

An undercover cop investigates the arson that killed his partner, but when the woman he loves becomes the next target, he can’t warn her. This is the premise of Deep Cover, a Love Inspired Suspense novel written by debut author Sandra Orchard.

Sandra OrchardOrchard learned of Deep Cover’s sale in an email from her agent, Joyce Hart. When she saw the email, she didn’t read it right away, figuring if Love Inspired had offered a contract for her novel, Hart would have called.

“When I saw I had a new email in my Agent folder, my heart sank,” she said. “I read all my other email before I even opened the folder.

I felt like my insides were bubbling over.

“Then I saw the subject line: ‘Good News’ and my heart jumped into my throat!” After reading the email she called Hart (with Orchard, below right), and they rejoiced together. “I felt like my insides were bubbling over.”

Sandra Orchard and her agent, Joyce HartLater, when her daughter came home with news from her first day of college, she waited patiently while her daughter shared excitedly about her day. “I kept smiling and spreading my arms—like, ‘are you going to ask me about my day?’ Finally, I said, ‘Guess what?’ Her response (“You sold your book!”) was priceless.”

Critique partners’ support

Having written fiction since 2004, Orchard loves plotting, while showing emotion and building romantic tension in fresh ways are the most challenging aspects of writing. One critique partner, Wenda Dottridge, loves Orchard’s storytelling ability.

“Sandra has a way of weaving all the threads of a story together in a page turning way,” Dottridge said. “Her stories combine a strong mystery with a romance and you never really know what is going to happen next in both plots.”

Another critique partner, Vicki Talley McCollum, Afictionado’s book review editor, was most attracted to the characters in Deep Cover.  “I love the male lead, Rick Gray,” McCollum said. “He’s a real manly man with a sensitive heart. He has such integrity as he works to take down the arsonist and save the lives of those he loves, especially Ginny Bryson.”

Research and the past shape her stories

Cover of DeepCover by Sandra OrchardOrchard likes to experience what her characters experience so she can write about it realistically. For Deep Cover she spent time at a police academy for writers in Texas, learning about cops and how they work.

Orchard writes six days a week, takes Sundays off, and finds her most productive hours are between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m. By then, her internal editor has gone to bed.

Having lost her mother when her children were babies has Orchard drawing on those memories of chaotic emotions as she tries to create similar emotions within her characters.

Orchard draws from her memories of chaotic emotions to create similar moments for her characters.

She admires Susan May Warren’s mentoring and appreciates, and learned from, Warren’s gift for layering emotion in a scene.

The most interesting part of the publication process has been finding pictures to aid the Love Inspired art department in crafting the cover. After several emails with her publisher, Orchard provided them with photos that fit their parameters. She is thrilled with the final outcome of the cover.

Stories of reconciliation

In her writing, Orchard is guided by 2 Corinthians 5:17-20: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

Orchard weaves this theme of reconciliation into her plots. She is busy working through the galleys on the second book in her Undercover Cops series and revising the third . She would appreciate prayers for her writing to honor and glorify God and that she will be attentive to His leading.

Visit Orchard online.

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