May 3, 2023

Vintage steam with Sandra Young

Vintage steam with Sandra Young
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Slow-burn romance author Sandra Young joins me on the latest episode of Steam Scenes! Find out how vintage fashion inspires her writing, learn about her wild background as an actor and rock and roll frontwoman, and how her different creative lives fuel each other, and why she opted to lower the heat level of her book. Plus we dissect women’s fiction and romance fiction, and I read an intimate scene from her debut romance novel Diving Vintage.


Connect with Sandra online:


Elle 0:00
Sandra l Young's passion for a slow burn romance and vintage fashion inspired her to write her debut novel divine vintage, published this past February with the Wildrose press. She's researched and gathered an impressive collection of garments and accessories spanning the late 1800s to 1990s. Wearing pieces onstage through years of performing and singing groups and community theater. Her website at Sondra young features a few of her fun pieces that are included in the book. Welcome Sondra, to steam seats. I'm really happy that you're here.

Sandra 0:32
I've been looking forward to speaking with you. l will have a good time today.

Elle 0:37
Yeah, this is super fun. Okay, so vintage pieces. How many do you have? Or is that not a good question? Are you like,

Sandra 0:46
too many? Oh, it's just impossible for me to count actually, because I have everything from jewelry, two pairs of gloves. I've had a couple corsets and stockings and all kinds of things. So many hundreds and hundreds I've,

Elle 1:06
what did you start collecting?

Sandra 1:08
Really, about three decades ago, I could go to estate sales. And then nobody really knew what it was or cared in essence, in the Midwest, I guess. And I could get a box lot for $1 of vintage clothing. And you know, really, I wish I'd be smart enough to get a lot more when it was really cheap. And I just had fallen in love with it through the costuming in the community theater. So I started building up not putting a lot of money into it. But finding cool pieces, I'd wear them onstage and then I'd you know, wear them out as appropriate and really have just enjoyed it over the years.

Elle 1:48
That's really cool. So do you do you mostly wear vintage pieces like every day?

Sandra 1:53
No, because of the fragility of, you know, there. I'm, I'm a protector and a curator of it in many ways. And now most of my pieces people give to me because they don't have room for them or don't want to move it again. And they're just like, Would you please preserve this for me. And so I just really look at it, I'm trying to protect as much as possible. Now the ones I do wear, of course are sturdier. And now when I present on my book, which I've been doing a ton of, I always wear vintage pieces. I'm wearing a vintage Chinese robe to be you know, in the vibe of steam scenes today.

Elle 2:30
I love it. That's so cool. So okay, um, so the book, this is this is what's really cool about divine vintage, you're kind of playing, it's not time travel. But you're, you're putting this exactly, but you're setting it in different two different time periods. And so 1913 is one of the time periods. Or one of the years what was it about that year?

Sandra 2:57
Well, for one thing to fashion was beautiful as one of my favorite eras were they had these long, narrow silhouettes really called them hobble skirts down to the ankle. And it just was a really cool look, that kind of Titanic era. But I also I played around because I've been working on this book for years, as many of us do. And I played around and move my timeline as times went out, but I really wanted to keep it from being in World War One that was going to totally affect things. And then of course, you had that 1918 First pandemic. And so my modern day, I eventually landed on leaving it in 2013 for this book, and then it's 100 years a century old murder mystery that's tied around the vintage fashion and the romance. Setting that 1913 Because again, didn't want to take them into World War One which would totally change the atmosphere.

Elle 3:56
Okay, so what is the what is the fashion have to do with it? This is where I'm kind of curious like, what how is that linked?

Sandra 4:04
Oh, the fashion Oh, the vintage fashion is a major catalyst for it. Because a test Burton has opened this vintage clothing shop in Michigan City, Indiana, and she's a clothing impasse. So when she touches these cool pieces of clothing, she can get images, and they're really very sensory images. And she's asked to model this Edwardian gown at a beautiful old mansion. And when she does, she has a full out vision of a murder occurring 100 years before but she sees it differently than the people in history have, you know, brought down through lore in the community. So she convinces the handsome descendant of the accused murderer to see if they can delve more into these. You know these visions into the past and the vintage fashions are that catalyst plus the woman's diary from 1930 Seeing and using those two things and their connection, they are able to really see back into the past and envision what was happening and see this mystery unfolding and new suspects.

Elle 5:11
Oh my god, that's so cool. We're okay. What sparked the idea? Was it was it like a piece of fashion? Like, what? What was it that gave you the germ of the idea?

Sandra 5:22
Interestingly, I actually woke up out of a dream. And I hadn't really been writing for many years because the theater consumed me, I'd been a writer, a very young age and love books so much. But when I hit my early 20s, I started doing theater. And it really took me over, I would do five shows a year. That's where my vintage clothing passion again, arose. But um, you know, when I got into a later age, I guess one morning, I woke up with this dream. And it had a vintage clothing aspects still kind of hazy sit in a museum. And I sat down and I'm a pantser, not a plotter, and I poured out this novel, let you know, probably 45,000 words. And then the characters took me into a second one and a third one. And I was super happy to be writing again. I love the story. And that vintage fashion had been the catalyst, you know, to really again, get me into the writing. And eventually, over the years, I tweaked up, it wasn't even a mystery. When I first wrote it, she knew exactly who did it.

Elle 6:31
Oh, this is awesome. Okay, so when did you start writing?

Sandra 6:37
This book, I actually it's been a, probably a good dozen years ago. It's my first book I wrote, you know, they say, oh, often your first book, No, it never goes anywhere. This one, I have other works in progress that that are in my repertoire. And I even moved into more of a women's fiction with a couple of them. But this one was always, you know, my beloved first baby. And I really would keep going back to it. And I grew so much as a writer, and I made very dedicated efforts to learn and I was taking classes not only in person, but also online. You know, Writer's Digest was a great resource, the women's fiction writers Association has excellent, you know, webinars and such that they do. So I kept learning and learning about how to better do characterization and build the tension and the stakes and all these wonderful things that over the years I brought to the story, until finally, when I pitched it in a would you believe it a Twitter contest, and landed a first contract offer? It was a much improved, a much improved piece from when I first threw it out there on the page.

Elle 7:49
What was it was it pitch wars that you put it into, or the Twitter contest,

Sandra 7:56
I think it actually was pitch wars that I decided to just a pit pit mat or pitch wars that I decided I was going to toss it into, and I got this offer. And it kind of ties into what we're talking about today. Because it was from a small traditional press, but they were based in Utah. And they wanted peih Gee, to totally PG. And so in order when they expressed interest, I went in and stripped out my, my Steam seeking to send to them, and they love the book. And they came back. But I was kind of like, you know, I really liked those seeds. I really don't want to lose those seeds. So I put it into another pitch contest called savvy savvy authors, sweetheart pitch, and I got another contract offer with the scenes reinstated. But I ended up looking at a personally I went out and query to the wild bros press because I knew of other respected writers that were with them, talk to a couple of them. And I decided for my debut that I wanted to work with them. And they offered me a contract. And the rest, as they say is history.

Elle 9:09
Wow. So you had three offers on this book? Yes.

Sandra 9:13
And I finally thought, You know what, at your age, I just really want to get this book out. And I could have kept looking I could have gone tried to look bigger. You know, I did. As you and other you know, authors we tried to do I tried for an agent in early years. And I look back now and say the book wasn't where it should have been. And I didn't know it at the time. It was a good germ, a, you know, a good seed and I did have kin close. You know, I had an agent that write a full and just wasn't quite sold and resubmitted and still not quite. But I eventually decided not to go the agency and it just kind of you know, writing and seeing what will happen but I still have that little hope that I published someday and published traditionally pa Trouble. And it's come to fruition. So it's a pretty happy time.

Elle 10:04
That's really fantastic. And I mean, it's weird, because it's like, again, it's your first book, but it took you what, 12 years? Like, that's a lot of writing and rewriting and noodling. And, you know, so even though it's like the first book, it's not like the first book that took you six months to write, it's, you know what I mean?

Sandra 10:23
Yes, absolutely. You, especially because you think you're done. And I'm working on the sequel right now. And I was telling people, because they got winter sequel out, they're all excited. I'm like, Well, I'm polishing it. But I've got it out with some critique writers from the women's fiction group, and, you know, they're coming back and only one so far, but she had some very valid points. So I'm also gonna have to rethink that one. And probably don't do more reworking, even though I felt like at the time, well, you know, I'm ready to put it out, it's like a no, you probably need to put a little halt on this. And because I want to be sure that the product I put out there, even if it takes longer, is quality, because I've set up this expectation with readers who've really enjoyed this, you know, this mix of genres really, that I have around the romance. And I want to be able to do that get again and replicate it in a quality way. All right.

Elle 11:19
Well, you know, I mean, you had mentioned that you were in like women's fiction groups, and you were thinking this was women's. So at what point were you like, oh, you know, what, this isn't women's fiction, this is romance.

Sandra 11:33
This one, especially, women's fiction is categorized as following, and really the emotional journey of your protagonists, which is usually female, and there is, you know, some emotional journey for tests because she's had her confidence, you know, beaten down by a jerky ex boyfriend. But it really isn't as much about her emotional journey in this as it is the romances and their dual timeline, you know, you've got the romances in both timelines, and you've got the mystery that they're trying to solve, and that ghostly element. So I really didn't feel like I could package this one as women's fiction, whereas the sequel, it really does have a stronger character arc of an emotional journey for Tessa shop assistant, Marcy gets her story. And so that one is, again, though, it's good to have all those other genres wrapped around it. So I like I like, you know, a lot of different things to tweak me to, to be again, but I love my romance. So I want my romance in there. But I like those other elements as well. I think they just add even more spice to the pot.

Elle 12:45
Absolutely. And what is it about romance that you enjoy?

Sandra 12:50
Oh, I think even in real life, I like to see romance building and envision people building to their HBAs. But you know, just like in life, again, there are other elements that influence the romantic journey. So, again, that's why I added those other elements like the mystery and the new suspects. And I fleshed out that 1913 Romance timeline too. And that and I made the, you know, rather sassy heroine for that era. Because again, we're I still consider the romance to be the primary of this book, especially with them being in dual timelines. But again, with the other fun elements weaving through, but yes, I love a good romance. And I think most people want to see a relationship of some sort. In books. Yeah, I'd like it to get you know, it can't it's not just limited to women loving romance.

Elle 13:47
Absolutely, absolutely. It kind of almost sounds like you've got two, two books and one with with these sort of dual storylines.

Sandra 13:58
I felt like it was rather a risk in what I'm doing. Because for one thing, as we know, with a bookseller, it's like, well, where do I put this book? How are an agent to where am I going to package it and put it and they like to have a nice answer. And there's not as neat an answer with mine as there is with some others that this was definitely a wrong call neurosis definitely, or romance or erotic or whatever. And in fact, one of my, I had an excellent review from, it's an online Review magazine in detail, and they gave me their five star crown heart of excellence, and they slotted it into historical romance. Oh my god. Yeah. Romance is the secondary timeline, but they called it historical. And you know, who am I going to be to actually argue with them when they called it phenomenal and transcendent. I mean, if you want to read it and put it there and think it was wonderful. Well, I'm very happy about that. I mean, not going to argue with it right? Argue with it. And I just gotten to a book sweeps. I've been wanting to get into one of those to build my newsletter list. And the one that had opened up was it had book club, historical and literary and my cover with that Edwardian era dress really works in historical and plus others have pulled it into the historical aspect. It's got it, so I slid it into that one. Because it's really not it's not a rom com. No. and No, it's in a smaller area. But the town it's actually set in, it's a real life town in the county where I live, it's 30,000 people. So it's not a real small town. So it's like, well, where do you position at the best? And I'm like, Well, I think this is probably as good as me.

Elle 15:48
Oh, my God. So there are sort of elements to Outlander here that I'm sort of gleaning, you know, even though she's doing time travel, and you're dealing more paranormal and ghosts. You know, I still think that there are there I see some parallels.

Sandra 16:04
Although that's super cool. Since it's such a popular series. Definitely. And it's, it's awesome romance, the drives that I mean, yeah, and certainly reading about that romantic aspect and then seeing it and how hot JV was. Was like

Elle 16:29
that's kind of a danger, right? Of like, having your books adapted like that, you're gonna end up with the, you know, the hero who is maybe not what your reader is pictured? And even though no, actors are typically very good looking, you know, but then you get like, Jamie, and you're just like,

Sandra 16:46
wow, yes. Pinnacle to that, for sure. She's lucky that Claire is a lucky woman.

Elle 16:57
Which is just, like, hilarious to think about it. Like, you know, did you ever think that that was gonna blow up like that, right?

Sandra 17:03
Well, in my mind, main hero in this tray, he's a really good looking guy, too. I mean, he's kind of you know, use your book boyfriend that you know, you'd like to date and, and I do consider him that cinnamon roll. Well, he's got he's skeptical about these visuals. And just, it's hard for him to swallow him. But he's, he's really into tests. And he's got this. He's smart. And he's hot. And he's kind, you know, generous. And just like, ah, you know, you was something like this. You write somebody that you would like to date, you know? Yeah, yeah,

Elle 17:38
exactly. Exactly. And I love the cinnamon rolls. I know, alpha heroes are a big deal. And everybody loves the alphas. But I really dig the sort of beta hero, you know, the nice guy. I don't know, I just like that. I like I like the I like the way he fits into the heroines journey, rather than kind of overpower her journey, in a way. I think sometimes alpha alpha males can.

Sandra 18:04
Yes. Yeah, I agree. Absolutely. And I think we're seeing a lot of that if you look at social media that women are liking the cinnamon rolls, you know, why else does it become a trope, but that people like it. And it's interesting, because years ago, you didn't necessarily fit two romances into these tropes, but it's like, Ah, yes, it's like with this one. I was like, Oh, well, I do have a one bed situation. And my, my sequel is a grumpy sunshine. So And nowadays, the tropes are for social media, I'll say like, so. So

Elle 18:38
you do like the tropes. I struggle with that, because I feel like I don't quite fit in to you. I don't know, you know, and it sounds like you might to where you're kind of like, well, it's kind of small town, but not really an age gap. It's sort of not that that's not such a big deal.

Sandra 18:57
Want to be boxed up either. I mean, to be honest, you're either going to say what they say, you know, don't write to what the trend is because the trends are going to change to you write the story that's begging to come out and you cross your fingers, you'll find the readers and that is hard, you know, putting out your first one and you open a vein and Hey, everybody, here's my wonderful creative, you don't want to be spent years on and please please like it because if you don't, oh, I've been super fortunate that my reviews have been really overall very, very good. And you know, I'm not I'm coming about small press, they don't have bookstore distribution. And so that makes it harder and thankfully, I have a lot of PR marketing background and so I'm out there really who especially locally doing a ton of things, but um you know, the, a lot of people don't read the reviews. And I actually have because they're so heartwarming, and it's wonderful to see people connect And there's been a couple that, you know, didn't really like it. And I expected that. And I learned from those and I was fine with them. So my skin isn't thin in, in real life. But I have found for this that I've basically probably because though the overall has been very positive, right, right,

Elle 20:17
I look at my reviews too. And people think that I'm nuts, but you know, I mean, truthfully, I want to know, if somebody didn't like it, you know, the why they didn't like it is helpful, like, this is how I learn, right? This is how we all learn. And so too, you know, and we have, yes, we can have editors, and we can have beta readers, and we can have all of these other people, but ultimately, like, you know, that we can, we can't give it out to hundreds and 1000s of people, right, so So if so there are things that maybe don't resonate with readers that just were never picked up by our team.

Sandra 20:51
And if you find that overwhelmingly as a message, then you definitely want to listen. Now, on the other hand, even though you do take it to heart, and, and think about it, if one person says something, and yet, all your reviews and the readers you meet in person, because I'm meeting tons and tons of readers in person, you know, and they're liking it as it is. And it's like, no, no, no, you I thought you got to do exactly the right amount of characterization or detail or whatever, right, because we write things for a reason, a specific way. And I wrote this as a lighter, fast read on on purpose, it was a little bit experimental that I actually stripped it down more, because I was not that streamlined of a writer, I probably was more descriptive, and you know, as women's fishing can be. But I really kind of tried to experiment and move to a different direction with it. And again, it's it is resonating, but I do know that people are looking for a lot of description, or really in depth. They are not going to find that here. Because that's not what I was setting out to do. Right to move you through this this story.

Elle 22:01
Right, right. Right, right. Yeah. So sometimes, yeah, sometimes. It's just the wrong book for the wrong person. Like we've definitely definitely had that. But then other times, there's like, I'm like, oh, you know, fair point. Fair point. And let's think about that for the next one. You know, so if the review is well written, and it can be helpful, if it's just a review, like, this sucked, and so does the writer. That's not really useful. No, I

Sandra 22:28
think you're a hater.

Elle 22:31
Like, that's just that says more about the reviewer that does the book.

Sandra 22:38
So, and those it was, you know, they do sting, every review does, you know, that isn't quite as good as the others have a little bit of a sharp edge. But again, you know, life is like that, too. So we really do have to look and and weigh it that way. And yeah, you and I just apparently have that thick enough skin that we can at least say, hey, it's a learning experience. And we're going to, we're going to go in for it. And I guess if people hid a lot of them that were really zinging them I could see where they might say, I've got to step away.

Elle 23:13
Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. And it's not to say I've had a few, I've had a few that I've been like, whoo, oh, that's a sucker punch right there. You know, but like I said, for the most part, I will, I will pretty much ignore those. But I will look at the ones like I had a reviewer actually give me it was a really lovely review on my, the first book in my series, and I ended up getting her the second book and giving it to her, you know, as a gift, because it was like a three star or something like that. And she was like, I love the writing. But thing that pulled me out of it was I just did like this male main character in this first book. And I was like, fair enough. I don't really like them either. And there was like, but there was a whole story behind it. I had written it for a small press, and I had certain parameters, and it was like the Alpha hero. And I've just come to discover that I'm just I just don't like writing the Alpha hero. And I think it kind of came through. Mm hmm. Yeah. And I mean, I'm still gonna keep trying, because, you know, that's, I want to push myself, but it was like, I really think that came through and that first book that that I was struggling with him or that I wasn't, anyway, it he didn't resonate with her. So I gave her the second book, and I said, I think this one might resonate.

Sandra 24:31
Well, and also, you know, heat level will is something that if people don't get the heat level, they expect that is something that we both know, can can turn them one way or another. They're looking at something and thinking is going to be you know, they want something really mild and it's erotic and, you know, they're like, oh, or, you know, vice versa, if they say, Oh, this is really bland. So, there are many ways that you can turn around either on or off, and certainly steam is, is one of those?

Elle 25:04
Oh, yes. Oh, yes, it is. So let's just get into it. With this one, again, because I'm sort of very intrigued by this that it started the book started as women's fiction. So obviously there there was a relationship layered in there. But did you have steamy moments? When it when you were drafting it as this women's fiction piece?

Sandra 25:30
This one, I don't think I ever with this one said, Well, there's going to be definite women's fiction. But I did. I did lean on having some emotional journey for her, which was that confidence issue where she's trying to open this new business, but echoing in our head is this ex jerky boyfriends saying, oh, you know, you really think you can do this, you know that he just he was controlling kind of, you know, kind of beat her down to doubt herself. So I made sure that that did come through in various places. But it wasn't the dominant thing. Because I do think you don't want to see somebody whose life is perfect either. You know, when we are reading about people, if everybody is perfect in a book, then we're like,

Elle 26:19
well, we have nowhere to go, right? Like

Sandra 26:23
there's no growth, there's no change. And people read for change and challenge. And as we know, we've got to have them hit their darkest days, and all these things that the readers don't think about, but really do expect to see that we as writers have learned that we need to give them and it's just one of those things that they're rolling along and just saying, Oh, wow, you just drag one chapter and the next you're just bringing me along, I just couldn't wait. And it's like, ah, then you've achieved what you were trying to do. But it's a learning process. And that you are working on these elements, and you're balancing them to me, writing is very much a balance and a puzzle. Sometimes I will, you know, I would move scenes or you know, move things around, and they still fit, they still fit in different places. You just have to, you know, make the puzzle work in a way that is going to be the most intriguing for everybody to want to keep reading through.

Elle 27:17
So this one is close the door, but it's got the steamy elementa. It's it's Samantha Chase says that she was one of my first guests, and I love Samantha. And she writes very steamy moments. And then she closes the door. And you're like we're right there. And then it's like ooh, Fade to black. And you're just like shit. And you do the same thing you are writing very, very steamy moments. And then you do close the door. I think it's more like, you know, it's not a slam, it's more of just a gentle close. Right, you know, very easy Fade to black. If we were watching a movie of this, you know? How come you decided to close the door?

Sandra 28:02
Oh, I think you know, it's combination of things. And one of them is that I am setting my books. This series in my local area on my county. And I had positions as executive director of a Healthy Communities initiative, I was the Vice President of Community Foundation. So I was out and known in the community. And I've certainly used all my connections in getting the book promoted out. But because of that, I really was thinking, Okay, how are people going to look at these love scenes and me? You know, if I go too far, and that did keep me a little bit on a leash. You know, I'm active in a church. And the funny thing is that a lot of the church ladies have read it only once said, Oh, that's a little spicy for me. The others just grin and are like we love your book. I suppose. Yeah. I had to really think about not only perception locally, just kind of you know, how far do I want to go? Well, yeah, as I said, I wanted to go so far, because I wasn't taking that PG of totally getting it out there because that to me was just too dry and boring and bland. But I also I guess I've read things that are much more erotic. But for me I like this where you come up to a certain point and you've got the steam you build up to a it's a slow burn so that sexual tension is built throughout this book you you have the door open for the foreplay, I use tasteful I say it's tasteful mid level steam because they go beyond kissing their caressing their shucking their clothes, but you don't necessarily get the specifics of the bodies joining. And it's not as graphic in terminology, because I don't I don't particularly groove on that either. Nothing wrong with it. But you know, everybody has things the way you say I like to read it. And I guess I like a little more romantic central build than I do, you know, wow, explosion of everything.

Elle 30:15
Well, I, you know, I was sort of carried because you had had made a note of that on the, you know, the guest form about, you know, having being very active in your community and promoting this within your community and being set in your community. And I was like, oh, like, what if, like, you know, like, what if this wasn't like, what if that wasn't a concern for you, and you just, you know, a pen name, you're completely anonymous, whatever it might be. And then you were like, what if that had happened? How would you have open? Would that door be wide open?

Sandra 30:50
You know, that was a great question, because I still wouldn't go more graphic with terminology because that's just really not my answer. That's not my my groove. But I would, I would lengthen the scenes. Yeah, I'd have even more steam. I would take a finger. I got a because I can see that at this point. I read back on it, but I was kind of like having read. Here's another debut from the wild rose press with me and she's doing Regency erotic romance. And some you know, it's very graphic and there's a lot of scenes and after having read hers and the second one or series, I'm like this is really pretty tame. Again, it's still I think a level like a mid level when you look at heat levels because I was just with a group of ladies. The other day I had a special little party I donated an experience around my book for a an art center that had a fundraiser and somebody bought that and so I went over and met with him and one of them said oh, it was pretty steamy and the others looked at and said no, it was

very subjective and you know, I look at one you know, one steam kettle or chili pepper or something being these people barely get to a kiss their hallmark they barely get to that kiss there really hasn't been any real sexual build up even they're just kind of cooped up they're done. And then you know they move into a level where Oh, yeah, they're kissing and you know they're gonna go to bed but that door has you know firmly slammed before that, you know, they're heading there but you really don't see anything. Then you hit mind where yeah, the doors open. They've gone in they are they Oh, they're indulging they're having a heated fun time. But then it goes to a soft fade. And then you're moving into a four level where Yeah, it's going deeper in the graphics is longer, more intense. And then five I take more as Yeah, they're your full out erotic, you know, erotic erotica, and you're getting all the terminology getting lots of scenes and really dig in deep for it. So that is how I look at a 505 scale for steam.

Elle 33:07
It's really funny because I Okay, so there's a thing on tick tock Are you on tick

Sandra 33:11
tock? I need to be I and I could do this as an actress. It's the tech part that scares me so in the time, but I really do plan to get on there because I probably actually like it.

Elle 33:22
Actually, you know what your vintage shit will go like people probably go nuts for that if you start like pulling out your vintage stuff like that's like some great that's like one of the great things about about tick tock and that video format and if you're comfortable on it, I'm super awkward on video. So I'm like it's really hard for me but I you know, I'm there I'm watching I'm trying to learn and get my you know, get my head around it. But they've been sort of talking about medium steam like this has been a whole kind of movement on tick tock about medium steam. I'm sort of baffled by this because I'm kind of like I guess it's close the door but then you think well what's how many chili peppers is that? Because my my books I'm getting like three chili peppers on the reviews and I'm kind of like I thought it was more of a four out of five but you know,

Sandra 34:13

Elle 34:16
kink you know what I mean? Like Amy and the door is wide open and I'm using some very graphic terms. And, and I'm like I'm only gonna three chili pepper what's going

Sandra 34:29
What do I need to do people?

Elle 34:31
But there seems to be this sort of like it's really hard to sort of say like, what's medium steam?

Sandra 34:38
It to quantify it? Absolutely. Because everybody's going to have their own definitions of what they like and their starting point even and so maybe you and I are both in toward a mid level I'm Lower Mid or upper mid but you're you're rocketing toward the Uh, toward the higher side, definitely than I am.

Elle 35:04
Have you ever tried to write a little bit more graphic? Have you even tried it? I'm very curious.

Sandra 35:13
Not No, not really. I'm sure I could.

Elle 35:18
I was just kind of curious, like what that, you know, like what that would be like? Well, I mean, even without going completely graphic and let's just say like, because again, your stuff is steamy, you know? What was that like writing your first, your first steamy moment.

Sandra 35:37
The again, it's been a long time since I wrote the first on it and being again, a pantser. It just kind of all poured out. I didn't plan anything out. And really the first scene that has some steam steam in it is the the one bed Steen. And that comes earlier in the book. And the you've got the modern day, hero and heroine, they are at the mansion, and they're trying to you know, determine can they actually use this clothing to see into the past? Can he do it? And yeah, she can she knows it. But can he do it also work as a catalyst for him. So, you know, they ended up sharing the one bed and wearing the vintage nightclothes. And, you know, it's a bit of a gooey, steamy, but they have not done anything yet. They're attracted. But there's this issue of this weird, you know, this weird mystery psychic thing going to in between them. And so they're just kind of still keeping keeping a little bit of distance, but they end up in this one bed. And they you know, without being a spoiler they envision the 1913 honeymoon. Now, this is 1913. So it's gonna be different from our steam level. And she don't Phoebe is a virgin in that era. And so you know, that's there's this build up. And that was really the first one. And when I go back and read it again, it seems tame in a way. But it is very sensual. And I read it and I smile, I'm like, Ooh,

Elle 37:21
I think that's a really good word, actually, for your scenes is this essential? Because that is you know, because when I sort of think about and there is a steam, there is a steam level to sensual, but it is central. I think that that's actually very, very good word.

Sandra 37:36
And that is one when I was thinking through looking at the questions you sent, which are very good questions, that is what, really where I land, I think you're right that it is central. And I really do strive for slow burn, where that tension is building. And you usually have one I call it momentous, interrupt us where you think that these two are going to get it on. I mean, they are, they're going to head there. But something interrupts them. It's like, oh, you know, you brought it up this peak. And, and it's all about that anticipation, right? And that's what I really like to build is anticipation. And I do draw it out. Some people prefer to get their Steam hot and heavy right away, of course. And you know, that's fine. It's a totally different kind of book. But I really like to see it build, and I want that sexual tension. And I call it a tingle where you're just like, Ooh, yeah, let's let's let's keep on moving. You know, and when you finally get to it, it should be that kind of, ah, you know,

Elle 38:40
yeah, yeah, I like to build to I like I don't like to go at it right away. You know, in fact, this the small press like that I was writing for and then again, I had a lot of parameters there. And one of which is the first chapter had to have sex.

Sandra 38:55
Oh, wow. Right into

Elle 38:58
it. Yeah. Like you had to go right into it. And I just remember sort of like trying to craft these these first scenes, you know, these first moments, but you know, and you're going, well, you know, why would somebody that you're just meeting, like, why would you just strip down and have sex with them right away?

Sandra 39:19
That's exactly what I was thinking when you said that. You have to be able to put yourself into your characters because that's what we do. We have to embody our characters. I'll even I'll even make movements and talk while I'm writing to see how a movement would really play out if it works, and I'll talk through something and if you really don't feel that yourself and have it's such a very free personality, someone that just says like, Hey, I've just met you, but let's do it. It's hard. That would be a hard thing to overcome and I'd have to be put my actress persona on, because as an actress, you know, I can do a lot of things and I I've done a lot of things that real me would not do. And that's probably how I would write a much more erotic scene. I just, I just put my acting head on. And oh, yeah, I'm sure I could get down and dirty if I poured myself.

Elle 40:17
You know, it's so interesting that you have the background in theatre, there are actually so many Romance Writers that I've talked to that do have some sort of background in theatre, I spent 20 plus years working in professional theatre and entertainment. And you know, there so there are a lot of us out there. You know, writing these books

Sandra 40:35
are great, we should form a support group I,

Elle 40:37
we really, should we really should. Are you still performing? Or have you put that to the side now that you're right,

Sandra 40:44
I am singing much more now. Because I did. I've done 75 shows over the years. And it's mainly community theater, I've been paved some, but I never tried to go professional. Because I know that just wasn't my my goal. And I was doing, I really was working in the nonprofit sector and grooving on that and volunteering and all the things and but I did enjoy it a great deal. But really, I've moved into the singing because I've come into my own, about the same time I as I became your let my writing come through again, the singing, I became a much stronger and the singing became more important in my life. And I could work myself up to have the confidence to solo before I was kind of like whoa, didn't breathe behind it. And once I finally started doing that, I was singing in a rock band. And now I'm in a trio that we're doing quite a bit tomorrow, we have a gig. And I'm also in a praise team, a band at our church. And now the singing. I just love it so much. So between the writing and the singing, now the theaters, taking it had years of my life is taking a backseat to these now because I'm getting so much joy out of really exploring these creative avenues.

Elle 41:59
Yeah, you know, I'm kind of curious, because you said you, you know, you have confidence now to step out and solo, I wonder, and it seems to have happened around the same time that the writing really started taking off. I'm wondering if one inform the other or that confidence level or you got you got that confidence boost from, I don't know, maybe both at the same time, one is informing the other I'm very curious about that.

Sandra 42:21
You know, that's a that's a good thought, you know, that perhaps that creative juices were fueling each other on. And also I would begin singing I'm basically son for 20 years with our church rock band and their the person who was leading it was a really good singer and performer. She's a really excellent actress too. And I started learning just like I did, with the writing, learning a lot more from her, and how to breathe and phrase. And again, it just added to my confidence. And then I was doing some theater and met some guys in a band and ended up joining them as the female singer with them. And so by then I grown that confidence, but it was all just kind of roll together. And I was still doing theater at that point, too. In fact, some of my most fun roles I was in Noises Off, which is probably one of the best shows I've done because we really nailed the timing. It's a really fast pace. And demanding comedy. And we nailed it. And so you know, I did probably some of my best theater, everything was coalescing in to this wonderful creative time because I really am your strong Creative At Heart.

Elle 43:40
Yeah, I love it when that happens, right. So I'm curious, before we get into your intimate scene, what what to you makes an intimate scene? Good, what's important to you?

Sandra 43:54
We've talked about the fact that that It's sensual. So for me, I think it really is, you know, you've got this lead up, that you've just watched this couple and you've watched the dance and it's been growing. And you're you're cheering them on? It's like oh yes, you can't wait for them to, you know, to move farther and deeper. And I think as a romance readers, people want to immerse, they want to lose themselves in the moment. So while others like to leap right into the heat, as we said, when you do reach the steam scene, I think readers myself do we want to imagine ourselves in that setting, and whether soften swoony ears or it's hot and it's hard. It should take the reader on a ride it's going to lift them out of their everyday humdrum life. And as I said before, it should leave you with a tingle of satisfaction. I think that you know, for me, I want to read it and feel like I come out of it with dissatisfaction. That, oh, they've connected and it was really it was worth the weight, you know, no matter when it happens, if somebody comes out of it and said, well, that fell flat, then you have not accomplished your goal.

Elle 45:16
I guess for you like, how do you know? I think that's the thing with with me anyway. And I think I think a lot of writers experience it, like, you know, I go through the phases with my manuscript were on like, you know, I guess it depends on like, what editing pass on on? And I'll be like, Oh, wow, this is actually really good. And then and then the next pass will be like, who am I kidding, this sucks. This is terrible, a character suck, this isn't going into. And then the next one, like, actually, this is some kind of like, do you go through that? Or do you have that confidence? When you're

Sandra 45:47
going? No, I absolutely, absolutely understand that those highs and lows of looking at it. And every darn time I go into the manuscript, I mean, I don't go back into this one, because I don't want to do it anymore. But as I was working with my editor, and now as I'm working, you know, polishing up the sequel, and I haven't moved to the phase, you know, of even pitching it yet. Because I want it to be, you know, in good shape. But I, every time I hit it, I change how it said and think oh, I've made it a little better, you know, and then you go in the next time, ah, you know, you tweak it a little more. And with the steamy scenes, I've worked on them some more too, and especially the build up right before it because, again, it's this, you know, it's this build, where you don't just open a door slam in and jump in the bed for me, you know, you are starting and you know, one by one things are happening that are just, you know, ramping up your attention and your sexiness. So I've gone back in and tried to tweak to enhance that, you know, in all ways in this new one to

Elle 46:58
do you slow down with in terms of like your writing speed and your your writing pace, not necessarily the pace of the story. Do you find that when you get to those steam scenes, you you slow down, your productivity kind of slows down mine screeches to a halt.

Sandra 47:15
Your mind suddenly goes, Oh, what am I going to do with this? You know, I guess I find as I write, especially initial drafts, I'm somebody who really pours it out onto the page, and it's not got that, that really that depth that is going to end up having with your characterization and everything else, it's more in detail, even the detail of the people around them their emotions, I come back in and I'm trying to do that more as I write now, instead of just, you know, throwing out more of a, you know, a skeleton story. But I think I think I probably do slow down somewhat, because whereas other things just kind of everyday flow, when you know, you're really trying to create something very special, because those love scenes are special, especially, you know, in a romance they are. And so it is whoa, slow down and think about this, as you work your way into it. Don't just wham bam and Right, right right through it. But then coming back, as I said, and reworking and reworking to get the feel you want from it.

Elle 48:29
Right? It's funny, because it's sort of thinking about how my process has evolved over, you know, over however many scenes that I've written. And, you know, and sort of my understanding, because I think innately as a writer, we have these sort of like, you know, things innately about story. And then, and so you don't really think about it, but as you grow as a writer, then you start really actually seeing what you're doing, which feels like I don't like I don't know, you know, like my formal training was actually in playwriting, not novel writing. So maybe maybe people who have had the formal novel training, you know, think differently, but I know it took me some time to figure out like to approach the scene as saying, What do my characters want out of this intimate moment? And how is this intimacy between them going to change them moving forward?

Sandra 49:24
Yes, very good questions at to ask. Absolutely. You know, that's delving deeper beyond just their actions. Right, you know, so you you're putting that extra layer in there that really would build very nicely. And yeah, for me, I think I'm just looking at it. Again, because I'm not going my scenes are as long as your as as in depth. So I'm focusing a lot on just building that sensuality that you know, that anticipation getting them into Whereas like, Oh, yes, you know, the, it's a, again, that Sunni kind of, you know, they're really into it at this point. And you are too. So I think I'm probably tied. It's both physical and mental. Definitely. Because if your characters only have the physical, again, they'll come up flat on the page, we know your characters have to have that backstory, we have to be aware of it, and hopefully it is infusing it unconsciously at this point. But it's work when we do have to work at it.

Elle 50:32
Yeah, it sure is. And I think that's probably why I felt so awkward with like, writing the first chapter and having the encounter right there. You know, although I kind of feel like there's my next challenge, like, I need to put it in the first chapter again, and see what happened. Figure out how to do it, you know,

Sandra 50:49
that it's almost like you just have to treat his own little short story almost, and just kind of say, Okay, I'm just gonna write a sec scene. And because you are hitting it, so soon, as you said, you're not even you're not giving yourself the time to get lubed and ready.

Elle 51:07
I know, you're just dropping right into it, which is kind of I think, you know, kind of a kind of a cool challenge, you know, now that I'm sort of have more experience writing these moments, I'm sort of tempted to go back there and see what happens, you know,

Sandra 51:21
it would be interesting to do a romance, your sex, sex writing of seen at a conference, and to just have people say, okay, just right now, write a sec scene right now, you know, just take your characters, boom, boom, right into the scene. Actually, I

Elle 51:40
actually taught taught a workshop and it was really fun. It was just writing the sex scenes. With with non Romance Writers, which was really great, like I kind of, you know, I think that that's a really fun thing to do is sort of, you know, work through the steamy moments with, with writers that don't write romance that have no experience in that and might feel uncomfortable. And, you know, if you did get a little bit more explicit in your book, whether you're writing a thriller, or lip Feck, or whatever, you know, what, what is that going to? How can you do it so that it works with the characters and maybe you know, improves the story

Sandra 52:17
is good got to be very hard for people that really, as you said, Aren't romance focus, but they feel like the relationship of their characters is important, and that's where it's going, it needs to take them, it probably is more uncomfortable.

Elle 52:34
I read a lot of I read a lot of thrillers and sort of like police, you know, like, like, Michael Connelly's Bosch series, I absolutely am obsessed with that book and The Lincoln Lawyer, I love his stuff. And he does write relationships for his characters, you know, I mean, obviously, it's not the focus, and they're constantly they can't keep a relationship going. But there are not necessarily full on sexy moments. But these characters do have relationships, because that really is part of the life experience, you know, and I'm always like, you could give us a little bit more there. Michael Connelly, you could give us a little bit more

Sandra 53:14
density, that would be the question.

Elle 53:18
All right, I want to dig into your steamy scene. This is from Divine vintage, your debut novel, set this up for me, where are we in the book?

Sandra 53:30
Well, at this point, there, there has been a kind of a reconciliation of the main characters and he surprises her by saying he has a business trip. He's an architect, and he's going to be flying to Paris. And it's a you know, rather rather short trip, and he says, Would you like to go with me? And she's like, Oh, of course. You know, for one thing she wants to check out the vintage fashion there. But you know, they get there they have not slept together they have come close, but they haven't but there's definitely steam and tension between them. And so you know, they're arriving in Paris basically, and you know, I don't want to do too much of a spoiler to myself but you know, to the book, but yeah, you know, the City of Lights is where where they finally they finally are able to you know, be alone and and indulge and you know, have that that ultimate joining right.

Elle 54:30
Okay, so we we have just in this in this chapter, the scene. They've just arrived from the airport to their hotel. And now you had mentioned a one bed is this a one bed? This is where the one bed is?

Sandra 54:44
That is not the one bed is much earlier in the book and that's the 1913 Okay, that's what we have the visions back to 1913. So it's modern day, but they're in that mansion, right, right, right. It's trying to vision.

Elle 54:58
Once again, we have a one AB?

Sandra 55:01
We do because she's agreed to that he's offered two hotel rooms and she's like, No, no, I think we can be. Very, he's being very much the gentleman.

Elle 55:10
Right. Right. Okay, so, so they're sort of like trying to decide what what are we going to do next? I think we need to, you know, I think they're gonna go sightseeing or something like that. Right?

Sandra 55:23
Right. They're trying to decide. It's like he's giving you all these options. His preference is to tumble into bed, but he's been very kind gentleman like, give me as well maybe would you like to sleep would you like to eat or?

Elle 55:37
Not okay. Though Trey was disappointed not to explore his unmentioned preference of tumbling into the double bed immediately. He recognized that Tess would probably prefer to shower and the words were snapped back in his mind as she world to face him. standing close and intimate To hell with practicality. We're in Paris. She fused her lips to his caught off guard his body reacted with a swift hormonal surge that had him standing at taught attention. The intensity of the kiss zoomed past the level in the cab toward fever pitch, and he slid his hands on her blouse, she arched backwards giving him room to freely caress God, I want you so much his breadth was ragging as he tore away long enough to pull the fabric up and over her upraised arms test dragged his mouth back down as she slid up on her toes, their bodies meeting at the most intimate of junctures. He wrestled to hold onto his sanity as her busy hands tucked his shirt out of his slacks. He fleetingly realized they were standing fully exposed in the window. As She flicked open the buttons he backed her. He backed her in an intimate two step toward the bend toward the bed. She shoved the shirt off his shoulders, he released the class on her Laci black bra, they sank down onto the spread skin to skin. Though her assertiveness was driving him to the brink tre slowed to heighten the sensations, grazing her lips with his moving to her soft cheek, the long white curve of her throat down to her breast. Her mon and the upward lift of her body drove another shaft of pure white heat to his groin. He kissed his other wet, he kissed his other way to the other, he kissed his way to the other side of her warm flesh as his hand moved to the waist of her slacks. She pulled, pulled him against her chest as they tumbled prone onto the bed. Their tongues trying again sensuously meeting until his body bag for release. he shivered when she murmured against his lips. Love me try. So this was like, oh my god lately, okay, they're about to do that. But first of all, I love the rhythm that you set, particularly when there was like this. She shoved the shirt off his shoulder, he released a class with broad they did this thing they sank down together. Like I kind of really loved that. That pacing. That was really, really cool. And, and yeah, like this was steamy without being graphic.

Sandra 58:06
And I've loved listening to you read it. I mean, I'm just my ear. Yeah, just up there listening. Like it's so fun to have somebody read and you've got a great voice, you know? Yeah, we probably have the we have the low sexy voices to do the steam seats podcast.

Elle 58:26
So I just thought that this was, you know, there's a lot happening here that that again, is like drawing out. I'm going to use the word sensual, again, drawing out the sensuality without necessarily like, we know that they're doing a thing, we know that they're gonna tumble into this bed. We know that he's touching her boob like, we know. But but you're not being explicit with it. And I'm kind of curious. Do you know when you've gone too far? Um,

Sandra 59:00
I guess I've not pushed a scene where I felt like I've gone too far. So for me, it probably would be terminology to be very honest, I think I could continue it on. Because I've thought that when I've looked at the scene, again, and I thought I could continue it on and have them continue farther. And again, because of the situation I'm in I probably won't with these books. But for me, it would be the terminology that it would become much more explicit in the terms for the body parts, and all of that, and that would break. Break that rhythm for me personally, as you said, and I really appreciate your comment. Thank you for the discussion of it being a rhythm because, to me words, there is a rhythm and I even read back my work trying to have a rhythm. And you know, you vary that rhythm to and especially in these scenes, you are building, you know, a definite rhythm. So I really did I enjoy hearing your take on that. And yeah, I just wouldn't want to step over to where he suddenly you know, he whips out his you know? And they're it's funny

Elle 1:00:11
doing robbing member Yeah.

Sandra 1:00:14
Exactly the term I was pointing to Oh my god. This is super funny though because it ties right in I have one of my really good friends. They're they're British, and they, you know, living here in the US for years. And anyway, Pete always says cool. It's not a true romance until you put I'm not gonna try to his British accent won't do it well, but until you put throbbing manhood in it. And I was like, No, I just can't do that. So but I'm writing the sequel. And I'm writing the sex scene. And I suddenly get very mischievous. And I didn't say throbbing manhood, but I did say his manhood throbbed. So I said, I had to let Pete know. I said, Pete, I've used your throbbing manhood, and I'm going to give you a credit. And they acknowledged us, just as terminology, I'm going to say and Pete, for terminology.

Elle 1:01:10
It's so funny terminology is such a weird thing. So I was Sarah Whitney's, was one of the early guests on the podcast, and she writes, contemporary rom coms very, very steamy, totally open door. And we were talking about, like, what words to use and what words we didn't like, and she does not like the word panty. Like she like, it's one of those words that just makes her go. Oh, you know. And so for her to write a steamy scene where people are disrobing and removing underwear it she's, it's like, she's doing gymnastics, not to say the word panty. And it's really kind of fun to read that. Read her stuff, and sort of actually, like, read it knowing too, that she does not like panty, and, and sort of see how creative she gets with not calling not calling it that word, you know, like scrap of lace or bit of silk, or, you know, like, it's actually really interesting.

Sandra 1:02:07
Oh, yeah, those are, those are sexy terms, too. And I think, you know, for me, again, really getting strongly into the genitalia would be farther than I'd want to go. You know, there are certainly a lot of places where, you know, there's a lot of description of does this to this piece at all. And it's just really not where I would personally want to go. And there's certainly nothing wrong with it. I mean, it's all people's comfort level. And there are readers for all levels. And but it's it's kind of funny, because really, some of the earliest romance I read was my mom had hid under the mattress, some pirate abduction romance that was super steamy. And here I am, like an early teen, Aussie hidden. She had hidden fear of flying by Erica Jong Gu. Now, I was way too young to read those graphic books. I was way too young, but I did when she was, and she has no idea that I read them.

Elle 1:03:07
To this day, no idea. But yeah, the graphic words are just the words in general, too, because I find you know, sometimes it can be repetitive. I mean, I think that that is something where I'm like, oh, close, because you are you are fading out and you don't have to worry about where to go with the term sometimes. I'm just like, I don't want to say that word. I want to say that word. Is there another word I can use? Because I really,

Sandra 1:03:33
yes, absolutely. That's how I feel too. And, and I think part of its imagination, too. For me, I just want to leave it more open to the imagination of that reader to then take it, you know, I'm giving a really steamy enough set up. And then you know, they can take it where they want to if they want to close the door and move on right them too. But if they are willing to kind of meander again a little bit farther, hey, you know, do you feel free to do that sister?

Elle 1:04:08
Oh my god, it's kind of like, oh, this is gonna be a weird analogy. But it's kind of like, you know, I don't know if you have kids, but when they're little and they're learning to ride a bike on two wheels, and you give them the first push, because it's easier to keep your balance when you're going faster. So you give them a push, it sort of feels like that, like you're giving your readers the push, but now they got to start to pedal on their own.

Sandra 1:04:31
True. Yes, it is there. It is our journey. Really. It's you know, they're they're taking a journey through our guidance through our eyes. And that's a big responsibility really, when you think about it. And one of the other things I actually did in this book, because of my nonprofit background, which is interesting was that I put a homeless character in it and a little side plot theme I'm about homelessness because I'd run a home team, a coalition that was a lot of different nonprofits working together to try to help those most at risk in our community. I think it's very important. And as an author, I think we also, we want to open people up to enjoyment and losing themselves, but we have a platform to shine light on important issues. So it's maybe a little unusual to see that in some books like my genre, but I just felt that was important and people really relating to that home was character and he's very much tied in to the mystery. He's He's a key component. So I added that to was a whole new storyline that I added. And as I said, it was like a puzzle because you have the story written and it's like, okay, now I'm building up the mystery. Now I'm building in this homeless and so I'm finding places to add these new new pieces without breaking the rhythm, but enhancing it,

Elle 1:05:55
right. And I just want to read like the next little bit because I loved how it was like, love me try and you can sort of almost get like, like, in my head. This is a movie right? You can sort of see them, like, you know, she's in his arms and they're kind of sinking into the bed. And then and then there's the fade out and then the next bit is they awoke later, with vivid new memories to join those sifted from the past. True to his earlier, his early prediction. The connection had been electric and consuming deep kisses hungry caresses, losing oneself and mindless gasping pleasure. A gradient at the CES to Edward and Phoebe slow explorations. He rolled to kiss Tess's cheek Welcome to Paris sweetheart, sweetheart. She lifted one side of her well kissed mouth as the native say Ooh la la. So cheeky so cute. I kind of I was so into like the way that you close the door and you had like this like almost like it was almost like watching like a 1930s film where you get the fade out and then the fade back in until like the after moment, which was sort of like I thought that that was really nicely done I thought that it was really cool.

Sandra 1:07:04
Well thank you but in the 30s they would have kept the clothes on and kept one foot on the floor you

Elle 1:07:09
would have been in separate beds

Sandra 1:07:11
they would have just been touching fingers across it kind of in this book especially being defined vintage having those dual timelines I know I have my writing is a little more it's got that flair of a little bit of that even though my character is younger than you know they are in their your late 20s and early 30s They know they're probably a little more maturity level and a little more I don't want to say they're not all fashion by any means. But I think the way they talk and and interact like that yeah, maybe harks to it and did a bit of an earlier you know, earlier more innocent era where I was I'm trying to make it in my sequel a little more. You know, modern in even the cadence of how they talk, but I don't want to put so much slang in it slang changes too so you're afraid to put too much slang because in a few years people like what the heck did that mean? You know really use a ton of ton of slang.

Elle 1:08:15
I read I read a lot of like, urban fantasy and paranormal and hard to and and one of one book and oh my god, I just spaced the writers name. I mean, she's huge in the genre, and I just lost her name. But in her early works or her character has has a beeper and which is hilarious to sort of like in the era of smartphones, you know, to sort of read this book and you know, read the first few and then she has she's always running off to find a payphone because her beeper goes off.

Sandra 1:08:49
Oh, you know, it's funny, too. You know, I was just thinking when you use terms sometimes you think people understand them and they don't. Because I was in a sequel I had you know, she's costuming community, a community theater show. That's what it's about. It's got this plotline and it's got a ghostly mystery, too. But she's been asked to costume this community theater show and ends up on stage. So some shoe

Elle 1:09:16
designers worst nightmare, I'm sure but yeah.

Sandra 1:09:19
She's got some minor parts, but not only. So anyway, she's got there's this hot other actor in it. And so they're up and she's tried to get him with costume. And so he's got the jacket on for it's important to being earnest. So it's 1895. So he's got this jacket on, he goes, Oh, well, you know, let me try on the wrist. And she's like, kind of like, you know, she's afraid he's gonna and I say, drop trowel. So I have my fiance reading, you know, some of the early pages just give me a little feedback. And he goes, What's that mean? He had no idea what I said dropping in your pants. And I thought, well, if I say that now I felt like I needed to change it. Because what if people go down now I don't know what it means. And there's this, you don't want to pull them out by saying what the heck, I was reading another author, Australian, online author, friend in this critique group, and I just read one of hers. She had a woman, nursing a baby, but she wasn't nursing. She was just cuddling the baby in Australia. They consider that I guess cuddling I said, you know, you really can't use that term because it wasn't her baby. And the term for the Americans that caught up with us, she was nursing, feeding the baby, right? So I think we have to put ourselves in, in that position of really reading super carefully. For everything. It's we know, it's hard to write. And it's not an easy thing to do.

Elle 1:10:47
I mean, that's where the editors help to. I know, you know, and I get those call outs with my, you know, my day job in journalism, you know, my editor will be like, I don't know what this means. You know, I, there's something I was reading actually about tarot cards and said something about divination. She's like, I've no idea what that word means. And I was like, really? Yeah. Yeah, yeah. But I'm like, Well, I guess I just read, you know, but I, you know, she's not. I read a lot of paranormal and a lot of witchy things. And she just doesn't, yeah. So to her, she didn't know what divination was.

Sandra 1:11:19
Yes, yes. And word choice. Yeah, they say right to an eighth grade level, that's really super hard to know, for me. I love her so much. And always have and because you read a lot, there's all these words you're open up to, and sometimes even in regular conversation, something will come up and the perfect word. I know the perfect word for what I want to say. And I say it, but other people look at me, like, what the heck does that mean? And I haven't considered that it's a big word, an obnoxious word. But it's just, I've seen it enough. I know what it means. And it's the very perfect word. So then I find myself trying to search for one that's going to be universally recognized. And it's kind of strange like that, that, you know, I'm not trying to be this, you know, academic at all, or throw things in. So I really have to look at my words, and sometimes I have to weigh them. And there are times when I say, you know, I'm going to use this words a little bit above the eighth grade level, because I just feel like my readers also are, you know, they're smart people.

Elle 1:12:24
Yeah, I think it depends on your readers too, because they're certainly, you know, I read plenty of books where I feel like, I think this writer is, you know, and I think eighth grade level. I don't know, I think I feel like a lot of play. A lot of authors are writing above that, I think they're probably more at like, maybe, you know, 10th grade or 11th

Sandra 1:12:43
Really very basic.

Elle 1:12:47
Yeah, it's really basic. I feel like there is a level of sophistication that's that's a little bit you know, higher now than there probably was, you know, 20 years ago or something, you know, when we were taught that

Sandra 1:12:58
now if you're writing why a you know, that's a different approach to writing more toward young people then you're going to be writing in a whole different and your lingo everything's going to be much different. But yeah, we're writing for adults and so I don't Yeah, I don't think we want to dumb it down too much. We need to give our readers credit and if somebody again gets into something says oh, that's not my style. No, you know, so be it. Yeah, there's there's a lot of other books millions out there you can choose from

Elle 1:13:28
there are plenty of other books out there. You know, there's there's a flavor for everybody.

Sandra 1:13:34
Yeah, yes.

Elle 1:13:37
So Sandra, where can people find you on the internet? Where do you hang out most of all?

Sandra 1:13:43
Well, I I'm Instagram I'm s l young author, and I was much more prolific on there. Around the time of the release of course I have a lot going on. I find myself not posting as much but that's where I interact with the overall book community and authors and all that books to grammars a lot more Twitter at one divine vintage. Honestly, Twitter's not my bag. It's nothing wrong with it at all. I this stuff just doesn't appeal to me as much and I do want to get on Tik Tok and I've got an account but I am not at all there yet. But I'm on BookBub and Goodreads my Facebook page is a personal page but it is largely around the book but not you know not to not to beat people over the heads with it plus my performing because I'm branded around my writing and my performing you know that's a that's a my branded images you know, as a writer you had to come up with your brand and that's what mine is and yours probably yours probably do.

Elle 1:14:51
No I did. I was doing a PA I'm publicist and marketer not not a performer. I gave that I gave that up in college. It's actually when I started writing when I did the pivot to writing. So, you know, it developed.

Sandra 1:15:06
Years ago,

Elle 1:15:07
I developed incredible stage fright for no reason. And it's carried over to this day. And it's just, you know, I used to be able to get on stage and think nothing of it. And then all of a sudden just started getting stage fright and couldn't do it anymore.

Sandra 1:15:20
I might have that at this point. Because as you get older, to be honest, the memory no matter what the memory changes, and whereas I used to have a sharp, sharp memory, and now I've got so much going on. I'm juggling so much. Yeah. And I always have been, but I think for me to get back on the stage, it would be a little scary with the memorization of go, as they call it, of course, as you know, going up where you suddenly are, whoop, you're it's gone. Yeah. Yeah, two years ago, pre COVID. And this, to be honest, probably one of the most challenging shows I've ever done. So probably a good one to actually kind of swansong on if I don't do anything big again, was I did a book or it was a play called spinning into butter. And I played the HB up, I was the dean at a, like a liberal college on the East Coast, and there'd been a racial incident, and I was a real hard ass. And the director would not let me show any empathy or emotion at all. I mean, that she didn't want it. She wanted to be poor. So it was very hard for me because I'm a very empathic, empathetic person. And I was showing motions and what people don't like the character, it's like, nope, not what she wanted. Plus, she made me wear this big gray wig to age me up. Because I'm having a love affair with this other Dean, who's you know, he's a good, you know, doesn't 15 years older than me? I'm like, Oh, thank you so much. But it was a really good experience. Because I did, I just worked hard. I came up with an East Coast accent, which she didn't even coach me on. She goes, Oh, I like that. And it's like, and she was, uh, you know, she was a great director really, very, you know, challenged you. So, you know, between the accent and the characterization and the aging up. It was like, it was a you know, it was a challenging role. And, you know, I did well and memorized it all, and it was very well received. So it was kind of clear, maybe that's a good height to go out on. Well,

Elle 1:17:18
Sandra, thank you so much for joining me today. It was really great to have you on and talk about and talk and talk about divine vintage.

Sandra 1:17:27
It's been loads of fun, Al Absolutely. And nice. I think yeah, maybe we have to form this. This support group performing, writing, even playwriting. I mean, that's pretty darn you know, that's, that's impressive. I'm a former journalist, too. I started out as a reporter and a newspaper journalist. And so you know, wow, similar backgrounds run. Yeah,

Elle 1:17:51
very similar backgrounds very, very similar. Well, Sandra, thank you so much.

Sandra 1:17:56
Thank you to you have a great day. You too.

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