Jen: Today we welcome Sarah M. Anderson to Romancing the Book. Sarah, will you share a short bio with us?
Sarah: Award-winning author Sarah M. Anderson may live east of the Mississippi River, but her heart lies out west on the Great Plains. When she started writing, it wasn’t long before her characters found themselves out in South Dakota among the Lakota Sioux. She loves to put people from two different worlds into new situations and see how their backgrounds and cultures take them someplace they never thought they’d go.
She’s sold over twenty-five books to Harlequin Desire and Superromance, as well as Samhain. She won RT Reviewer’s Choice 2012 Desire of the Year for A Man of Privilege.
When she’s not helping out at her son’s school or walking her rescue dogs, Sarah spends her days having conversations with imaginary cowboys and American Indians, all of which is surprisingly well-tolerated by her wonderful husband.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release and where the idea came from.
Sarah: The Nanny Plan Blurb:
This billionaire bachelor has a baby challenge…
Being a father to his orphaned infant niece is out of this tech billionaire’s comfort zone. Lucky for Nate Longmire, Trish Hunter is a natural at motherhood, and she’s agreed to be his temporary nanny. But long glances, slow kisses and not-so-innocent touches are strictly off-limits…
Trish’s goal is to help Nate in exchange for a big donation to her charity for Lakota kids. Falling for her bachelor boss—and his adorable baby girl—is not part of the plan. But when the month is up, will she be able to walk away?
The Nanny Plan came from a real-life incident. I support the Lakota Children’s Enrichment, a charity started by a woman named Maggie Dunne. Ms. Dunne won a $20,000 award from Glamour magazine’s 2012 Top Ten College Women contest. When Sir Richard Branson arrived to give a talk at her college a few weeks later, Maggie stood up with her large check and asked how to use the prize money to encourage celebrities to donate. Sir Branson matched her donation!
The idea of boxing one of the richest men in the world into a charitable corner—with a large check!—fascinated me. Inspired by both Maggie’s boldness as well as the good work she does to promote education amongst the Lakota tribes, I decided to use her large-check moment as the opener for a novel.
The person in front of her asked some frivolous question about how Longmire felt about his status as a sex symbol. Even as Trish rolled her eyes, Longmire shot beet red. The question had unsettled him. Perfect.
“We have time for one more question,” Jennifer announced after the nervous laughter had settled. “Yes? Step forward and say your name, please.”
Trish bent over and grabbed her check. It was comically huge—a four-feet long by two-feet tall piece of cardboard. “Mr. Longmire,” she said, holding the check in front of her like a shield. “My name is Trish Hunter and I’m the founder of One Child, One World, a charity that gets school supplies in the hands of underprivileged children on American Indian reservations.”
Longmire leaned forward, his dark eyes fastened on hers. The world seemed to—well, it didn’t fall away, not like it did in stories. But the hum of the audience and the bright lights seemed to fade into the background as Longmire focused all of his attention on her and said, “An admirable cause. Go on, Ms. Hunter. What is your question?”
Trish swallowed nervously. “I recently had the privilege of being named one of Glamour’s Top Ten College Women in honor of the work I’m doing.” She paused to heft her check over her head. “The recognition came with a ten-thousand dollar reward, which I have pledged to One Child, One World in its entirety. You’ve spoken eloquently about how technology can change lives. Will you match this award and donate ten thousand dollars to help children get school supplies?”
The silence that crashed over the auditorium was deafening. All Trish could hear was the pounding of blood in her ears. She’d done it. She’d done exactly what she’d set out to do—cause a scene and hopefully trap one of the richest man in the world into parting with just a little of his hard-earned money.
“Thank you, Ms. Hunter,” the emcee said sharply. “But Mr. Longmire has a process by which people can apply for—”
“Wait,” Longmire cut her off. “It’s true, the Longmire Foundation does have an application process. However,” he said, his gaze never leaving Trish’s face. Heat flushed her body. “One must admire a direct approach. Ms. Hunter, perhaps we can discuss your charity’s needs after this event is over?”
Trish almost didn’t hear the Oohs that came from the rest of the crowd over the rush of blood in her ears. That wasn’t a no. It wasn’t a yes, either—it was a very good side step around giving a hard answer one way or the other. But it wasn’t a no and that was all that mattered. She could still press her case and maybe, just maybe, get enough funding to buy every single kid on her reservation a backpack full of school supplies before school started in five months.
Plus, she’d get to see if Nate was as good-looking up close as he was at a distance. Not that it mattered. Of course it didn’t. “I would be honored,” she said into the microphone and even she didn’t miss the way her voice shook, just a little.
“Bring your check,” he said with a grin that came real close to being wicked. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen one that large before.”
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Sarah: I always wanted to be a writer. I used to write letters to my favorite authors when I was a kid and when they wrote me back, that was just the coolest thing ever! But it took me 32 years to figure out HOW to write a book. I used to try and write down the stories in my head and there might be some good lines or paragraphs, but I had a chronic addiction to backstory and info dumps and it took me a long time to figure out how to break myself of that habit. A long time.
So I’d written 9 books. The first 4 were painful lessons in breaking the backstory habit. Each book got a little better, a little more fun. The 4th book (which, years later, became Masked Cowboy) was something new—funny and snarky and sexy. That book worked in ways the first three hadn’t. But it didn’t sell and I kept writing. I wrote more books and every single book got better. I joined RWA. I had a book that everyone loved—this would eventually become Rodeo Dreams—and it got really good rejections from really good editors, including Stacy Boyd at Harlequin. She wasn’t able to buy Rodeo Dreams but when, a year later, another book of mine crossed her desk, she remembered that first book and took a chance on me because she liked my style and my voice. So she bought what became A Man of His Word in 2010 and it was published in December of 2012! It was a very long and complicated route to get there, with several false starts and a few crushing disappointments, but when Stacy bought A Man of His Word, I got The Call while I was picking up my son from kindergarten. I was jumping and shouting and my son’s teacher—an older woman—was hugging me. The children thought we were hilarious!
Jen: Are there any other writers, published or not, in your family?
Sarah: Yes! My paternal grandmother was a published poet in the 1950s by the name of Goldie Lucas. And when I sold my first book, my uncle pulled a box full of crumbling notebook paper out of his closet, handed it to me and said, “You’re the author, you fix it.” When my grandmother had died in 1960 (my father was 16 at the time) she’d been working on a novel. My uncle had kept it for the next forty years, trying to figure out how to save this novel. So while I was preparing for my debut novel, I was also teaching myself self-publishing and finishing my grandmother’s story. I added ten pages and put together a biography based on her children’s memories (my father was eight out of nine children). It was a wonderful project because I really hadn’t known much about her. My grandfather had remarried and Mema was my grandmother, you know? So working on Goldie’s book was discovering a part of my heritage that I hadn’t even known existed.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Sarah: I write five days a week while my son is in school. On Mondays and Wednesdays I take two hours in the morning to go to a water aerobics class with little old ladies (I don’t have the joints for that high-intensity stuff, so water aerobics it is!). Otherwise, I write from 8:30 until 3:45 every weekday. I tend not to write on the weekends. I need that time to recharge and do fun stuff, but that’s assuming I get 10,000 words a week and don’t have a crushing deadline bearing down on me. Evenings are for social media and goofing off. I do a lot of nonfiction reading because the truth is always stranger than fiction and that’s where I get my ideas!
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Sarah: I’m OCD. I know it’s kind of fashionable to say that, but I really am. I’ve been so much happier while I write because the imaginary scenes give me something to go over and over again until I get it right. So I usually have no trouble remembering ideas at odd times because I repeat them so much that I can usually have an idea and not get around to writing it for another year or two and I won’t forget it. Really.
Jen: What do you do in your free time?
Sarah: Ah, the elusive free time! I read, both nonfiction articles (for the ideas) and romance books. I like to read historicals because that’s what my degrees are in and I like to go back to that time in my off time. I watch a lot of movies with my son and I try to do something crafty. I like to knit and bead. I cook on the weekends, too. Basically, on the weekends, I try not to spend all my time sitting down and staring at a computer screen. On the weeknights, I’m usually goofing off on Twitter!
Jen: What’s next for you?
Sarah: I’ve got the next two books in the Beaumonts Heirs series—His Son, Her Secret (Byron Beaumont) and Falling for her Fake Fiancé (Frances Beaumont) coming in September and October. And on June 23rd, I have a novella out called Something About a Cowboy, part of a brand-new series called NotMy1stRodeo.com. The other authors are Donna Alward and Jenna Bayley-Burke and the whole series is just wonderful. I’m really excited for readers to read about my widower, Mack Tucker! And after that I have five (5!) Desires on the schedule for 2016—I’m staying very busy!