Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Story Behind the Story: Guest Blogger Sandra McGregor

I'm so excited to introduce you to Sandra Elzie who writes fiction under the pen name Sandra McGregor.

Author Bio:
Sandra Elzie was challenged by her husband in 2001 to not wait until retirement in 2005 to start writing the book he had been hearing about almost since they had been married. Picking up the gantlet he had thrown down, she spent the next 8 years honing her craft and finishing 21 manuscripts—two of which have been published by Avalon Books under that name.

Writing under the name of Sandra McGregor, she has published several e-pub books and more will be added to Kindle & Nook in the very near future.

She now lives in South Georgia with her husband and cat and enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with her children and grandchildren.


Sandra is going to tell us a little about the story behind her books in the Duty Free series. So good to have you Sandra! Take it away!


By: Sandra Elzie
(e-books published under Sandra McGregor)

Good morning and a big “Hey Y’all!” from down here in the beautiful state of Georgia. Thank you so much for inviting me to join you today and I hope to “meet” some of you and get acquainted.

My writing journey started at an early age when I wrote five-page stories and thought how cool it would be to sell my stories for five dollars. Boy did I have delusions of grandeur!

But, life happened and I got married, became a mother, had a career and eventually, started looking forward to retirement. For the last seven years or so of our careers, hubby and I dreamed about retiring in 2005 and spending six months touring the U.S. before we moved from the West Coast to the East Coast. Big plans. (BTW, we did the six-month tour AND the move)

In 2001, on the way to work, once again I started talking about the book I would write once I’d retired, but on this particular day, he threw down a gauntlet and challenged me to take half the time I spent reading and watching television, and start writing. He said I didn’t have to be retired. Thus began my journey to publication. To date, I’ve sold two books to Avalon, The Diplomatic Tutor and In Daddy’s Shoes and I recently self-published four (soon to be six) books, under the pen name of Sandra McGregor, through Smashwords and they are now for sale on Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Pennies On The Dollar, Wrangler For Hire, Into My Dreams and The Duty Series, Book One: Duty Calls and Book Two: Duty Bound. The third book in the series, Duty Free, will be available by the end of September.

I’ve been asked if there’s any part of me in my stories. The answer is always, “yes.” I write what I know…romance…but I’m a very strong personality, so my heroines are also strong. Since my husband is a loving, considerate and dependable man, so are my heroes. But, hold on, because that’s just part of the story.

There is almost always a story behind my stories--tiny bits of my personality, experiences, observations, etc show up in my books. My daughter-in-law is adopted, so you’ll find adoption in a couple of my books. In Daddy’s Shoes, it’s loosely based on my daughter’s best friend who had a small son and her husband committed suicide. The book covers some of the issues the young boy faced when he felt he needed to be the man of the house at ten-years old and take care of his mother and then her challenges in allowing another man into her life and around her son.

Also, my son-in-law is an accomplished Ironman tri-athlete—as is my daughter—so you’ll see some of my heroes and heroines being athletic and participating in marathons or triathlons.

I just self-published the first in a three-part e-book series about three Air Force men (Duty Calls, Duty Bound and Duty Free) and the hero in the first book is loosely based on my son-in-law, who is an Air Force pilot, and it includes his participation in marathons and his goal to do an Ironman race. (He has since done several Ironman races since I originally wrote that book in 2002, including one this past month that he and my daughter participated in)

I don’t think it’s unusual for authors to put a bit of themselves in their novels, and I’d venture to say that some authors, (myself included), put a LOT of themselves in their books. But, you know what? The closer the subject is to the heart of the author, the more interesting it is to write that book, and, hopefully, that makes it more interesting to read.

Thanks again for letting me visit with you today and I’d love for all of you to join me for a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks, but since that’s not possible, I guess I’ll have to settle for sending one of you a $5.00 Starbucks gift card. All you have to do is leave a comment to be eligible. ALSO: If you have an e-reader (or have downloaded the Kindle program to your computer) I’d love to send you a copy of one of my e-books…your choice.


You can learn more about Sandra Elzie at her website: http://www.sandraelzie.com/

Or on her Amazon Author Page:



Thank you so much Sandra. Oh, man, I'll join you in a Starbucks coffee! I'm always up for that. Please leave a comment so can get a chance to win a Starbucks gift certificate!



Update: The Winner from yesterday's drawing is Carol Burnside AKA Annie Rayburn. Congratulations!!!


Pam Asberry said...

Hi Sandy! (waving madly) It is great to see you here today. Thank you for sharing the "story behind the story." I put bits of myself in my writing, too; as you said, I'm sure many of us do. I am so proud of you and all your success. Keep up the good work!

Debora Dennis said...

What a great story - I love to hear what inspires authors to write the stories we love to read. I find I too put a little of myself in all my heroines. Congrats on not waiting until you retired to start that book!
(And I'm an East Coast girl - moved to the West Coast for 7 years and ended back East!)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Morning, Lisa and Sandy! I've seen those "bits" of you in your stories, Sandy. You definitely do write strong heroines! I think we all draw on what we know. Personally, I've carried my love for mission work into my stories.

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

Good morning, Lisa and Sandy. My character's emotional hurdles are often inspired from things I've felt at one time or another. I believe/hope having that empathetic connection helps me convey that emotion to the reader.

Lisa Mondello said...

Thanks for stopping by! I love hearing about how a story comes together. Raising a cup of coffee to not waiting. I know Ludima Gus Burton started when her husband retired and sold her first book when she was 78! Never too late!

Anonymous said...


I can't help but put a things from people I know or places I've been in my books. I think it is a great way to mesh all the things we have experienced in life.

Susan Carlisle
Heart Surgeon, Hero...Husband? 1/12

Pamela Mason said...

Hi Sandy, I agree - the closer the experience is to our own heart, the more meaningful it becomes in our stories. I look at all the things that I have done & think, well... maybe that's not so boring after all.
And wow do you have the stories! I look up to you!
Great to read more of your experiences here.

Lisa Mondello said...

Folks, Sandy is having a bit of trouble commenting. But she's been here several times already today to view your comments. If anyone else is having trouble commenting, email me at lisamondello@aol.com so you can be part of the Starbucks giveaway.

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

Lisa, I got a notice on my e-mail saying my comment didn't go through, yet it shows up here. Weird glitch!

Lisa Mondello said...

The Gremlins are out today! Sorry for the problems on the blog. Here are some comments from Sandra, who still can't post yet.


Hi Pam, (waving madly back at you!)
Thanks for taking the time to pop over and leave a comment. I agree with you and think our books are best for the bits of ourselves we put in them.

Like me, you're a big traveler! I was actually born in Tillamook, OR (where they make Tillamook cheese) but my parents moved to N.C. when I was 5 1/2 months old. Then when I was 11, we moved to Calif and then at 55, hubby and I moved from the West to the East. This is where I fully intend to die and be buried...no more moving. Thanks for dropping by...nice "talking" with you.

Yes, I agree...we draw on our experiences and then hope we connect with our readers. Your love of missions is never more evident than your new series for Love Inspired Historical and the book you have coming out in November, Doctor's Mission. It's great (don';t you love ARCs?) and I can't wait for the next one. Thanks for stopping in to chat.

Oh, yes, the closer something is to our lives and hearts, the easier I think it is to convey those feelings to the readers. I want my readers understanding and feeling the emotions until they cry along with me...know what I mean? Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment.

Oh, I just love your comment about Ludima Gus Burton publishing at 78! Way to go! And here I thought I was old for starting to write in my 50s. Goodness, I was a mere child. (g)

I know you mesh life experiences into your book...especially in Nick's New Heart. That was extremely close to home and you did a superb job on it. Thanks for joining us here today.

Thanks for checking out my site! Yes, I've got a storehouse of over twenty books to eventually e-pub, and I'm still writing. I'm one of those people who MUST write. I told hubby one day: "I write, therefore I'm alive." Writing is just a part of me now...a major part that would die if I quit.

Linda Andrews said...

Hi Sandy,

I love strong heroines and I too find I have a lot of myself in my stories. All your stories sound great, especially the Duty series (can't resist a man in uniform). Any plans to work your 6 months of travels into a story or two?


Anonymous said...

This is great Sandy! I love reading the behind the scenes parts of stories. I like knowing where the ideas come from. It just really makes them feel a bit more real.

Thanks so much for sharing these with us and I wish you all the best with your self-publishing. I can't wait to read these stories.

Tami Brothers

ps - sorry for the anonymous posting. It wouldn't let me use my Google Profile. :(

Mary Marvella said...

Hi, girl! I was once asked why most of my stories have a school teacher and a classic (64 1/2) Mustang! 3 guesses what I did for a living and my first car.

Lisa Mondello said...

More replies from Sandra!

Hey Girl, Thanks for dropping by.You know, I've read several books over the years that seem so real to life that I've wondered if there was some truth in them...some event in the author's life being shared. Now that I think about it, I guess that's what we do sometimes...we share bits of ourselves and our lives with our readers. It's such a pleasure to hear that they related to what was written.

Thanks for coming by and leaving a comment! Will I ever use the 6-month trip in a book? Hummm, that's a possibility. There's several professions that would allow my heroine or hero to travel around until they met their Waterloo and decided to settle down. (g) (Like the day I accepted an invitation to lunch, married the guy less than a year later and now, decades later, we're still happily married.) Gosh, don't you just love romances?

Lisa, thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to guest blog with you today. Despite the glitch, I've had a great time and it was nice to talk with the friends, (new and old) who dropped by to visit. Have a wonderful evening.

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