Sandra Orchard
What I Learned This Summer

First the Story

Remember your first day back to school when the teacher would ask you to write about your summer? Well…have I got a story to tell.

“He’s gone over!” my daughter yelled as we walked along the windblown beach and glanced behind us at the choppy water where my son had been playing in the waves with his kayak, confident he could handle them and well-protected from the chilly water by a waterproof boat skirt.

As my gaze lurched from the overturned kayak to the surrounding waves, my heart slammed into my ribs.

Close-up Image of Water

I was desperate for a glimpse of my son’s face.

We had no idea how long ago he’d flipped—a split second before we’d glanced over? Or longer? Much longer?

Too long?

The previous day, when the water was calm, he’d been practicing flipping his kayak, trying to master rolling it back upright. He never managed to do it, but the practice helped him learn how to react to flipping over.

Picture him clamped into a kayak by a tight-fitting rubberized skirt.

image of kayak skirt

Then picture him hanging upside down in choppy water, trapped by that same skirt. Yes, he’d had lots of practice yanking the release strap so he could escape, but that had been in planned flips.

Flips in which he’d had the chance to take a full breath and hold it before going under.

Not being sideswiped by a strong wave and then held under by the unusually high undertow.

Finally his head broke the surface, not because he’d managed to get out, but because the water was shallow enough that he could brace his hand in the sand and push his head above water.

It took another couple of frantic seconds to release the skirt.

Perhaps only nanoseconds, but it felt a lot longer to him and to a mother torn between crashing through the water fully clothed to haul him out and trusting her adult son to do what he’d trained himself to do.

Why have I shared this story?

Because it is a snapshot of my summer. I was working on a manuscript that didn’t come together the way I thought it would, drowning under waves of doubt, desperate for a glimpse of light, a snatch of breath, divine help.

Even though my son had practiced capsizing, it did little to temper his panic when he couldn’t escape. But sheer determination and the steps he’d practiced served him well.

In the same way, I’ve studied writing craft inside out and, this summer, read a few more books on the topic. And I’d long ago formed the habit of turning to God in times of trouble, both big and small, especially with my writing struggles. But when weeks at my keyboard went by with few new words, that I actually liked, to show for my time, my prayers started to sound like a broken record.

Yet… I had a quiet confidence that the right words would come.

My deadline wasn’t that ominously close…yet.

And this wasn’t the first time I’d gotten stuck in a story. In fact, I flipped back through my journal and found that I had similar desperate moments at some point with just about every book I’d written.

And God had always answered my prayers…eventually.

The eventually part relates to me, the mother, standing on shore, trusting my son to apply the skills he’d learned.

God doesn’t always choose to give us what we ask for in the way we want or hope or expect, but He promises to never leave us.

Perhaps, as with my son…

Our small “capsizes” are practice rounds to equip us for the storms ahead.

Which begs the question: Why doesn’t He just take away the storm and calm our turbulent seas?

I think, because…

Sometimes, it takes coming to the end of ourselves to know He’s always near.

Your Turn: What did you learn this summer?


Water image courtesy of my talented daughter JL Orchard

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Feeling Creative? and… One Day Sale!

Wow, this summer has flown for me. And once again, I’m breaking my blogging break to bring you breaking news.

How’s that for a tongue twister?!  :-)

Cover Pic of Blind TrustOn Tuesday August 26th

The Ebook version of Blind Trust will be on sale for only $1.99 at participating retailers. If you’ve enjoyed the series so far, I’d really appreciate it if you tell your friends about this great deal.

And… I’m on another search for a great TITLE

This one is for my paramedic story for Love Inspired Suspense. I’ve received some great suggestions on my Facebook page, but I’m not quite sure that we’ve hit on one that my publisher will latch onto just yet. If you’d like to offer some suggestions, I’d appreciate it. If my publisher chooses your suggestion, I’ll mail you a copy of the book when it’s available.

The basic plot is…

My paramedic heroine is threatened by an unknown stalker. But with his brother the prime suspect, can the sheriff’s deputy determined to protect her win her trust and his brother’s in time to save her from the real bad guy?

I look forward to hearing your suggestions!

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Big Thank You & Giveaways This Week

Thank you so much to all who voted for


Blind Trust

at Clash of the Titles.

Conqueror ButtonIt won!


To continue the celebration…

Visit me this week at

International Christian Fiction Writers

 and leave a comment for a chance to win an E copy of Blind Trust (or other Orchard title of your choice) ;-)


for a second opportunity…

on Friday, August 1st hop over to

Suspense Sisters

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Please Vote

Hi All…I know I’m supposed to be taking a blogging break over the summer and I keep popping in here with news.

Blind Trust is on Clash of the Titles this month (where you vote for the books based on cover and description that you want to read this summer.)

Clash of the Titles

If you’ve read, plan to read or would like to read Blind Trust, I’d appreciate it if you popped over to the page and voted for it:

No email etc required. You just click the title then “next” then “done.” Easy peasy.


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Giveaway this Week

Visit me this week at

MBT Ponderers

 and leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of Blind Trust ;-)


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One Day Only Super Sale


Ebook Lovers here’s your chance to get Blind Trust for a steal!

And…it’s a cheap great way to gift Aunt Martha who got that Ebook reader for Christmas a great book. ;-)

It’s $2.99 or less wherever Ebooks are sold.

Here are some of the most popular links:

Amazon US
Amazon Canada

Amazon UK (£1.44 Kindle)

Amazon Australia (Epub version) only $2.39!

If you enjoyed Blind Trust, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends about this great deal! There are share buttons below to make it super easy. Of course…I highly recommend reading Deadly Devotion first. :-)

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Be Inspired This Summer

rainbow over fallsLast week, I was able to enjoy a few days away with my hubby at Letchworth State Park to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was so nice to spend hours of uninterrupted time together, hiking through God’s beautiful creation, being awed by sights such as the rainbow above or soothed by the sound of waterfalls.


I was reminded of Jesus invitation to his disciples at a time when they were very busy with people coming and going:

“Come with me

by yourselves to a quiet place

and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31

I don’t know about you, but I can be a bit of a workaholic, so I find it reassuring that Jesus stressed the importance of taking time to rest, to renew and refresh your spirit, soul, mind and body. With edits to do on one novel, another novel to finish, and my thoughts eagerly jumping ahead to a future series I’ve proposed, I know that this verse is talking to me. So…

My blogs may be sparse this summer as I’ve scratched “write this week’s blog” off my to-do list for the summer.

But…I loooove having conversations with my readers and with aspiring writers, so please don’t hesitate to comment or ask questions here or via email or on my Facebook page (where I will continue to check in each day).


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Brainstorming Characters

What a whirlwind this month has been! Can you believe we’re already in the last week?

I want to send out a huge thank you to so many of you who have already read Blind Trust and taken the time to blog about or post reviews. I really appreciate your support!

As I await edits on the third, and last, book in the Port Aster series, I’m enjoying brainstorming characters for a new series.

jennifer-connelly-people-in-tv-photo-u47.jpg"}}}I’ve copied and pasted a slew of handsome male actors’ pics into my male characters’ file,  :lol: and I think I’ve settled on Jennifer Connelly as the model for my heroine.

I love this part of writing, when ideas come fast and furious and it feels as if they’ll never stop.

I literally had to set a notepad and pen outside the shower, because all these punchy comebacks that I imagined she might say kept popping into my head. My notepad is now a tad soggy, but I’m not complaining!

Of course… the reality of publishing is that the Port Aster series needs to sell well for my publisher to want to start another with me. But I’m happily ignoring that minor detail at the moment.  ;-)

If you’re an aspiring writer and would like to learn a little more about how I create characters, join me at the Faith, Hope, Love blog on Monday where I’ll be sharing Keys to Creating Compelling Characters.

And I can’t resist sharing a pic of the biggest ‘character’ in my life these days–my soon-to-be-one grandson:

"Oh, nana, I know you just cleaned these all up, but I'm not tired enough to go to bed!"

“Oh, nana, I KNOW you just cleaned these all up, but I’m not tired enough to go to bed!”

Your Turn: What’s the most interesting character in your life these days? Real or imagined. :-D



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Rediscovering the Joy of Writing

This past week I had the privilege of both attending and teaching at Write!Canada.

I had tons of fun hanging out with my editor and my agent

my agent Steve Laube

My agent Steve Laube and I, goofing around for the camera before the awards gala. BTW, Deadly Devotion won the suspense category!

and old friends and new friends, and despite entering this new week severely sleep-deprived because of it, I have an I-can’t-wait-to-write-today anticipation that I haven’t felt in weeks, maybe months!

Fellowship with fellow writers and awesome classes can do that, but a huge part of the credit goes to Ted Dekker’s inspiring keynote address and class.

Okay, I honestly don't know why I look a tad spaced. He's not the least bit scary.

Okay, I honestly don’t know why I look a tad spaced. He’s not the least bit scary.

I have to admit that the last Dekker book I read was Three. The plots started getting too dark for my comfort level, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from his talks. But wow, I am so glad I didn’t miss them!

He was so open and honest, talking writer to writer.

We learned about his childhood on the mission field in Indonesia and at boarding school, and his rocky journey to publication, and the new fears and struggles that came with sudden success. Too often our identity is wrapped up in our job or our children or spouse or in what we accomplish instead of in the Father and what he’s done for us.

Then he shared a proverb about a person who climbs a rope to get away from the tiger chasing him, only to be faced with a second tiger at the other end of the rope and two mice nibbling through the rope.


He likened the tigers to our fears and how if you’re focused on them you won’t escape the fear and see the beauty around you…the strawberries.

He admitted that he often needs to consciously let the fear fall away before he begins writing each day and remind himself that the accuser is the one telling him he doesn’t love this.

When we let go of the fear & the lies, rivers of living water–creativity–can flow.

sandcastleHe likened our stories to sandcastles and authors are like kids playing in the sand.

We’re having fun making stuff up. If we don’t like it, we can wipe it away and start over. Change the story.

So go have fun and build a sandcastle!


Tiger image courtesy of anankkml /
photo credit for sandcastle: KenC1983 via photopin cc





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Help, Am I Perfectionist?!

“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”

                                                                              Albert Einstein

An interesting revelation unfolded for me this past week. A writing acquaintance offered to read a summary of my current work-in-progress, or more accurately, my work-not-progressing, and share her perspective on what themes or root problems the characters might shed light on.

I figured that I was struggling because I’m a lot like my heroine, in that I tend to keep my emotions under wraps.

(ruckus in the other room)

“Okay, yes, dear, except when I’m mad.” Sheesh, I was sure my hubby never read my blog!

Anyway…this writer saw my characters as perfectionists and expounded on various truths they’d need to learn.

I was totally floored. I never saw them that way at all.  Stunned Emotiguy

My hubby would never accuse me of being a perfectionist. He’s the perfectionist. Takes forever to do things or starts things, because everything has to be right, whereas I just want to get them done. Except…

Then I pulled out a trait book and read examples of root causes and the various ways the trait might manifest, and I was stunned to realize that my friend was right.

My characters are both perfectionists. They each respond very differently, but the trait is the same.

Gasp! And a lot of the descriptions were eerily apt descriptions of me, too.

ID-100162371 vacuuming

“Yes, hubby, dear. Unbelievable, I know. But I do submit a very clean manuscript no matter how thick the dust bunnies in the corner of the bedroom.”

Sorry, I promise he won’t interrupt anymore.

Anyway, if that revelation wasn’t surprising enough. As I was browsing my daughter’s blog,, I discovered a post she wrote about being a perfectionist. And was stunned again.

I never thought of her as a perfectionist. Am I really that inept at understanding what drives people?

I thought I did pretty good with the characters in my books!

I found that quote of Einstein’s at my daughter’s blog, along with this revelation:

Nothing frustrated my music teacher more than my resistance to answer a question. He’d say, “You make a choice, it’s either right or its wrong, but at least you’ve made a choice.” There’s always been this strand of perfectionism in me. Growing up I’d punish myself cruelly for little mistakes to the point where I’d rather give no answer than the wrong answer.

Well, I remember her music teacher saying that, but I can’t say that I ever noticed the other. And I homeschooled her!

Hmm, I can see that I have a lot more to learn about my characters, and apparently myself, before my current writing-not-in-progress starts progressing!

Your Turn: Can you offer me any insights into the mind of a perfectionist?

emotiguy Image courtesy of farconville /

vacuuming guy image courtesy of artur84 /

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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

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