Sally, please tell us about yourself.
My dad told wonderful stories, so maybe I inherited a bit of his talent. The catalyst to write romance came while visiting my brother in Costa Rica. Reading occupied hot, humid afternoons. After plowing through seven romance novels, I declared to my husband that I enjoyed witty dialogue and the chase way more than the sex scenes. Certainly, I could pen a love story without those details. The challenge landed squarely onto my laptop.
I take pride in weaving slow-burning romance into edgy suspense stories without intimate sex scenes. Are they sweet? Not from comments by readers about the attraction elements and villains receiving appropriate consequences for their actions. I’m a Libra who strives to make everyone happy, while expecting fair treatment. Don’t mess with kids or animals in my presence or the gloves come off. That ideology’s put into action regarding Big Red, the mule, in The Hitman’s Mistake.
My home’s in the Pacific Northwest—shared by a husband, adult sons, our faithful Aussie-mix, and (nearby) my twenty-eight year old Quarter Horse gelding. My pastry-training career allowed me to travel to Montana, the setting for my series, Love Thrives in Emma Springs. Another romantic suspense series with a science twist, Double Vision, will be forthcoming.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family’s extremely supportive. Being frugal and working consistently since I turned fifteen allowed early retirement and my commitment to write full time. When I got the text that the paperback version of The Hitman’s Mistake arrived, I’d just hopped on Lance for an exercise session in the arena at my barn. Excited as I was, I finished riding, took care of a friend’s horse, and then headed home. My husband had gathered our son and friends in our dining room. They’d decorated the boxes, chilled champagne, and I walked in hearing the song, “Celebrate”. I love my herd.
What did you learn from writing your first book?
I hammered out the rough draft (about 55,000 words) of my debut novel in about five days and thought it looked pretty good. That’s before I attended my first Emerald City Writers Conference and realized I may have hit basic markers delineating a romantic suspense story, but my writing skills needed vast improvement. Workshops, on-line classes, critique partners, beta readers, and fabulous editors came to my rescue. I enjoy learning and my internal drive to succeed keeps me practicing new techniques and questioning whether I can do better. Here’s a big tip to save time: take suggestions from successful people and incorporate them into your writing, if applicable.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I’ve written 8.5 books to date. That’s written, not polished, and ready for my Soul Mate Publishing editor! Each book contains elements near and dear to me. Overall, I’d say the forty-year-old characters in Book 3 make it one of my favorites. Major story line changes are necessary, so the vote’s out on how I’ll feel about the rewrite.
What are some jobs you've done that would end up in a book?
Many former jobs end up in my books. To earn college money, I worked in a warehouse, became a high school custodian during summers for higher pay, did landscaping, sold cameras, catalogued antique jewelry for a numismatist (rare coin dealer), and became the 6’ tall Easter bunny at the mall. My degree is in teaching special education, behavior disorders. I taught high school for a short time (I was 21 and so were many of my students) and then I substituted. Afterwards, I became a food service broker and taught industrial pastry baking—to students from community colleges on up to executive chefs from national parks. My third book sprinkles in baking tips and someday I’ll pen, Pastry Tips for the Dough Challenged and offer it as a freebie. Too many people turn pale at the idea of baking. It’s only a set of learnable skills, folks.
If you could give the younger version of yourself advice what would it be?
My advice would be to love myself. In college, my suitemate combed her hair in front of a mirror every morning and said aloud, “You are beautiful, Elaine.” Was she a stunning model type? Nope, but she ate healthy and worked out. She radiated an inner confidence without conceit, and she never lacked for dates.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
I hope my readers learn to forgive themselves, love themselves, and trust themselves. My heroines are faced with challenges and figure out they’re not only capable, but even stronger when they allow others to help them. That being said, our world can be mighty scary. If you haven’t read The Gift of Fear, it gives concrete reasons to trust your intuition in real time.
Tell us about your latest release.
My recent release, The Hitman’s Mistake, is a contemporary romantic suspense. It incorporates the sense of community I found training folks from smaller towns in Montana. I grew up in rural Michigan, with unlocked doors and neighbors willing to lend a hand. My heroine in HM needs to work through past setbacks, trust her intuition, and be ready to love and be loved again. The Love Thrives in Emma Springs series, centers on old-fashioned values and appreciating a slower pace in a fast world. If you like The Hitman’s Mistake cover and want to see it win a contest, I’m in the running until Sept 25th on the Moonlight and Mystery site. I’d appreciate your vote!
She needs his trust. After Miranda Whitley stops crooked cops from assassinating a prominent Seattle judge, she’s next on the hit list, and her survival depends on the man she’s had one awkward encounter with—buff FBI Agent, Grant Morley. But can she find him in time?
He needs the truth. The last person Grant expects to discover on his annual horseback trip delivering supplies to a Montana mountain hermit is alluring Miranda Whitley, nearly dead from a bullet wound in her side. An accidental witness or the cold-blooded accomplice to would-be assassins?
Miranda must convince Grant of her innocence, evade the killers intent on preventing her testimony, and fight her unwanted attraction for the agent…an attraction which seems to be mutual. Fortunately, love thrives in Emma Springs. If you love sizzling chemistry, determined assassins, and Montana scenery, then you’ll love Sally Brandle’s galloping thriller.
Setting: Our heroine’s pruning indoor plants in the lobby of Seattle’s Justice Building after hours.
Soft taps came from a few feet behind her. She tilted her head.
Footsteps? From the stairwell? Miranda released her grip, and the tree limb sprang free. She swung her head and watched the branch skim the fly of the trousers on the man now towering over her right shoulder.
Not Ike. She froze.
“Oh, didn’t see you there—” he sidestepped, and her cup scrunched in protest under his big boot. The lid popped off and the double shot of Kona glugged into a mocha-scented pool.
He jumped to avoid the puddle. “Energy conservation put you in the shadows. Sorry, I nailed your coffee.” His swinging backpack missed her nose by inches.
She twisted her body and scooted her butt until her shoulder jammed against a carved pot.
“I didn’t mean to frighten you.”
“It’s okay,” she mumbled, keeping her head lowered to avoid further contact with the bag-wielding klutz wearing black trousers. Must’ve been him she’d glimpsed a few minutes ago, while the elevator doors had closed on the floor below Ike’s.
“I’ve never been attacked by a branch. Must say, you deployed it well,” the deep voice announced. He stopped directly in front of her.
His hiking boots made her size-nine high-tops appear dainty.
Not the shoes of a snobby lawyer or a lost, post-trial pimp trying to find his way out of the building. Still, the flailing branch served him right for sneaking up on her. “I didn’t hear you.”
“And I shouldn’t text and walk,” he said in a lighter, almost sexy tone. “I’m Grant.” He dropped his pack and stuck out his hand.
An FBI tag printed ‘GRANT MORLEY’ hung from the bag.
She peered from under her cap’s brim and gulped.
Agent of Interest. Her heart took off at a gallop.
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/
Last question, Sally.Where can readers find you?
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DM795GP
5 Star Tome Tender review: https://tometender.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-hitmans-mistake-by-sally-brandle.html
USA Today Interview: https://happyeverafter.usatoday.com/2018/08/08/for-lea-sally-brandle-wednesday/
Haynet (horse-enthusiast site) Review: http://hay-net.co.uk/the-hitmans-mistake-a-review/
Happy trails to all, Sally.