Questionable Pharmaceutical Company Practices Inspire Mystery

Desperate MeasuresIn the final instalment of Port Aster Secrets, Kate Adams is determined to figure out what is so special about the plant GPC Pharmaceuticals is so desperate to control.

In doing background research for this novel, I found plenty of real life examples of questionable pharmaceutical company practices. Practices that sadly corroborate my fictional company’s bad guy persona, as well as, the mayor’s political efforts in Blind Trust to pander to the company.

Here are some random examples:

-thanks to a whistleblower, one company was forced to release over 100 documents that showed the company was planning to cherry pick favourable data from one trial and bury results from unfavourable trials

-a large pharmaceutical company was fined over two billion dollars for the way one of its subsidiaries marketed several drugs. Yet the fine was just 14 per cent of its revenue from the drugs over a seven year period–little more than the cost of doing business.

-an investigation into another major drug, showed that not all studies were provided to regulators, and that the company intimidated a doctor who’d criticized the drug. Hundreds of the company’s documents continue to remain hidden from public view under court seal, despite a multi-billion dollar lawsuits by patients.

-Companies spend billions wining and dining doctors to encourage them to upsell their drugs. Mort than one company has bee charged with paying kickbacks to increase sales and off-label marketing

-Since any company convicted of a major health care fraud is automatically excluded from Medicare and Medicaid–a corporate death sentence since it would prevent the company from billing federal health programs for any of its products and disrupt the flow of drugs to patients–the feds cut a deal. Instead of charging the parent company with a crime, prosecutors charged a newly create subsidiary, whose only function was to plead guilty. That company, that had never sold a single pill was excluded from Medicare, while the parent company was free to continue to do so. Its fines amounted to the equivalent of three month’s profit.

Do you feel a tad indignant after reading the examples?

I did, which made it all the more satisfying to help my heroine ferret out the truth about the company that cost her a lifetime with her father. Although…

I must add from personal experience that I am extremely grateful for the many life-enhancing drugs pharmaceutical companies have developed over the years and their help in making them financially attainable.

Your Turn: Have you had a particularly good or unhappy experience with a pharmaceutical?

Our Giveaway Winners: 

Thank you so much to everyone who shared vacation highlights on last week’s blog. I really enjoyed reading all of them. I assigned each one a number and used to choose the winners. 

The winners of Identity Withheld are: Ann Allen, Sara Davidson, Jackie Layton

The winner of Lisa Belcastro’s series is: Steph Nickel (your # really was the 4th one drawn, which was so apropos since you’d mentioned time travel in your post)

The winner of Emergency Reunion is: Sherida Stewart

An added bonus winner: Tandy

I’ll email each winner for mailing information. If you don’t see an email from me by Sunday night, please check your spam or go ahead and email me directly.

A Vacation-Inspired Giveaway

Last week, I went on a mother-daughter vacation


to visit my super-cool writing friend Lisa Belcastro on Martha’s Vineyard.

mv-beach picnic
lobster picnic on beach at sunset

And what a week!

Fans of the movie, Sabrina, with Harrison Ford, will know this building as the one his character buys for a homeless shelter. It's really a bank.
Fans of the movie Sabrina, with Harrison Ford, will know this building as the one his character buys for a homeless shelter. It’s really a bank.

We’re all writers so we had lots of fun talking writing, even joined Lisa’s crit group one evening. Inspiring stuff.

We also soaked in the beauty of God’s creation.

We hiked to the island’s highest point–a whopping 300 feet above sea level.
mv-martha's vineyard beach
We walked the beach.
mv-martha's vineyard beach 2
Walked many beaches. Each one was a little different.

Lisa was a wonderful tour guide, offering lots of fun tidbits about the island, as she does in her Vineyard based books. Even showed us the best place to hunt for sea glass. I found a red piece!

We saw lots of sights.

mv-colorful houses Martha's Vineyard

mv-martha's vineyard lighthouse
We even saw the crew working at moving a lighthouse in from the rapidly eroding cliff’s edge.

And if all that wasn’t enough to refill my creative well and give my writing a much-needed kick start, I also received lots of exciting news last week. holtfinalist





In addition to finaling in The Word Awards, Blind Trust is a finalist in the Selah Awards for Mystery/Suspense. And Identity Withheld is a finalist in the Holt Medallion for the short inspirational category, and…is a finalist in the National Readers’ Choice Awards for contemporary series suspense/adventure.

Lisa also received news that she’s a double finalist in the Selahs and a finalist in the Booksellers’ Best Award


The president, who vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, sent over a bottle of champagne for our impromptu celebration…

Okay, just kidding. I’m a fiction writer, remember? But…the bottle does have the president’s seal on it! Lisa clearly knows people (but you didn’t hear that from me, shh)

To celebrate, I’m giving away books!

Three copies of Identity Withheld to three lucky winners.Identity Withheld


And a set (on kindle) of Lisa’s Shenandoah inspirational romances to one more lucky winner.

mv-Lisa Belcastro

Monday Update: I just learned that my July release, Emergency Reunion, was a Top Pick at RT Book Reviews, and my box has arrived, so…I’m adding a copy of it to the giveaway, too.  😀 

Your Turn: Tell me about your most inspiring vacation (in the comments below) for a chance to win. (If you win and already have Identity Withheld, I can gift it to a friend from you.) Names will be drawn randomly from all entries received by midnight May 23rd. EDT


P.S. Desperate Measures has been spotted in bookstores! And…is already shipping from some online stores! It’s also still up for a Goodreads Giveaway. And Deadly Devotion is still free in Ebook.

Five Life Lessons Writing Has Taught Me

Please join me at Elaine Stock’s Blog

where I’m sharing a humorous look at

Five Life Lessons Writing Has Taught Me

ID-100266921 cartoon writer
Image courtesy of iosphere at

Back Story on the Making of Port Aster Secrets

Happy Tuesday!

I’m at the Craftie Ladies’ Blog today sharing a little about the history of the Port Aster Secrets Series.

Pop by and say hello!


If you’re a mother, I hope you’re treated extra-special today!


If like me, you’re a daughter whose Mom is no longer with us, or if your children are far from home, I’m sending you an extra big hug.

I was browsing through the box of cards I’ve collected over the years. I’ve been blessed with children who write me some really sweet things.

And their appreciation has grown through the years. Now that my eldest daughter is a mother herself, added to her list of thank yous is:

“thank you for disciplining us–I’m beginning to realize how “unfun” this can be at times.” 😉 

Have a blessed day everyone!

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.”

Goodreads Members Click Here to Enter a Giveaway for Desperate Measures (US and Canada)

(I have turned off comments, because I’m taking a few days off my computer)

Canadian Politeness by Patricia Johns

I’m delighted to have fellow Canadian and Love Inspired author, Patricia Johns, here this week with a special guest post.

Patricia Johns

Patricia Johns writes from Alberta, Canada where the winters are long and cold–a perfect recipe for writing! She lives with one husband, one child, and two birds. She writes for both Harlequin Love Inspired and Harlequin American Romance.


Take it away, Patricia!


Thank you, Sandra.

Have you ever noticed that every country seems to have something that they’re known for. Mexico has their food. Germany has their chocolate. America has baseball and apple pie. Canada has politeness.

We’re famous for it.

If you were to come across a Canadian in his or her natural habitat and you stepped on his foot, he’d apologize to you.

“Oh, excuse me! I’m sorry. Didn’t see you there.” And that is from the person who was trampled!

Our public debates are rather sheepish, too. No one likes being too aggressive.

Every once in a long while there is a political demonstration where about fourteen people with placards wander in uncomfortable circles, observed by even more uncomfortable passers-by. We aren’t comfortable with angry statements. We’re much more comfortable saying something like, “I’m pretty sure I’m right, but I’m happy to sit down and talk this out, because I think a meaningful dialogue would help us find a good middle ground.” That doesn’t really fit on a placard. Nor work as a slogan. I’m not even convinced that it helps anything get done!

Mostly, people just get cold and tired and wander off to get a coffee.

As a Canadian, I’m hesitant to “just come out with it,” and I’ve had to learn how to think more “American” in my writing. For example, I’ll write a scene where my hero and heroine are having an argument, finally saying all the things they really think. My heroine will glare at the hero and say, “Frankly, I don’t see myself marrying a man who could do that.”

To me, that’s a strong statement. There is so much between the lines that remains politely unsaid, but it’s still there, right?

Sandra: absolutely.

My editors disagree! More than once I’ve gotten a note that reads: “Just SAY IT!! They can’t dance around this!”

And I think, “I thought she did say it…”

I’ve gotten much better at saying things straight–at least in my writing. And never fear, the editors don’t let my over-politeness past their desks. It gets corrected pronto.

But if you ever meet a Canadian in his natural habitat, go ahead and step on his foot to see what happens! If the Canadian responds with an apology, but gives you a rather arched look and goes a tiny bit pale… there might be some subtext there. 😉

LOL, Patricia. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia has a new release this month:

firefighter's promise cover


When the baby he rescued seven years ago returns—with his widowed adoptive mom—Deputy Fire Chief Matt Bailey can’t turn them away. Desperate to escape the reminders of his failure in the line of duty, Matt is close to leaving town. But one look at Rachel Carter and her son, Christopher, has him second-guessing his plans. Rachel is a mom in need of a hero for her son. But as much as she wants the two to bond, she’s determined to keep her distance from Matt. After losing her husband on the job, she promised never to love another fireman. Yet somehow she finds herself drawn to the one man she should avoid.

I have to admit she had me at “firefighter.” 😀 

If you’d like to connect further with Patricia, you can find her at:


Your Turn: What do you think about Patricia’s take on Canadian politeness? Has that been your experience?

Desperate Measures is Almost Here!

Have you been enjoying the Port Aster Secrets series?

Port Aster Secrets by Sandra OrchardIf so, you have only one more month to wait to read the final installment.

But…if per chance, you haven’t checked out this series yet, you now have the opportunity to try the first award-winning book, Deadly Devotion, for FREE in Ebook format from now until the end of summer.

Check it out at your favorite retailer and please, tell your friends!

Your Turn:  For those who’ve been following the series, how do you hope it will end? (Shh, if you can tell me without any spoilers for those who haven’t started)  😉


Reflection — JUST LOVE ME

I asked my dear friend, Lisa Jamieson, if I could post this reflection she included in a recent ministry newsletter. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did me.

Do you ever wonder if you have a “calling” on your life?

Have you noticed how many of your friends are wrestling to understand their own greater purpose?

I believe that our culture at large is presenting increasing pressures to be contributors and world-changers. Even the Christian community and a plethora of books are promoting ways to find our purpose.

Having a sense of purpose is essential but our understanding of what that really means can become twisted. We can become tempted to define our value to God and the world by whether or not we are doing something “of significance.” This way of thinking is dangerous. It makes us vulnerable to dissatisfaction, comparisons, restlessness and low self-esteem. It takes our eyes off of God and puts our attention on ourselves.

Jesus didn’t tell us to go change the world. He said, “go bear fruit.” Jesus’ aim was not for us to feel pressure or shame. He said, “take my burden on you for it is light” and He assured us that it was through Him alone that the world could have “life to the full.”

Scan 12

God doesn’t need us to accomplish anything. But he does want us to join Him in loving others. (See Psalm 139:7-12 and 1 Corinthians 15:10.)

Maybe it would help to change up the way we talk about this issue and redefine a couple of things according to the heart of God and His ways.  Bear with me for a moment as I attempt to define two important words according to my understanding of God’s Word:

1.      The reason for which you were created and exist
“ I was born to love the Lord God with my whole heart, soul and mind.”
“I was made to live my life as a spiritual act of worship (whether I am making dinner, mowing the lawn, playing with children, sharing the Gospel or any other such thing).”
“I must become undistracted by the trappings of cultural values (job titles, accolades, an accumulation of volunteer hours, etc.) and devote myself foremost to trusting God and demonstrating that love by loving others, moment by moment, as He would.”
References: Matthew 22:37, Deuteronomy 11:22, Romans 12:1-2, John 13:34-35

1.      A cherished aspiration, ideal or hope impressed on a person by the Holy Spirit
“ I sense this prompting about an idea, vision or perspective is from God because it lines up with scripture.”
“I want a heart that breaks over the things that break God’s heart.”
“This specific passion or strategy I’m excited about promotes God’s plan.”
“I am experiencing a sense of urgency to see God’s Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.”
References: Psalm 23:1-3, Hebrews 6:11, Hebrews 12:1-2, James 1:2-4, Acts 2:17, Colossians 3:23

Friend, instead of a purpose, maybe all you lack is a dream.

Ask God about it. He, after all, is the planter of passions and talents. He, of course, is the weaver of our soul and the one who appoints us in relationships. Until heaven we will not fully know what Kingdom purposes God has squeezed out of our often hum-drum existence. We can, however, trust that He is making much of our seeking Him and sharing Him.

Pray that God would help you see how He has already placed you in roles and relationships where you have significant contribution to make. Your daily routines may seem mundane but they are ripe with opportunity in God’s way of seeing. Ask Him to prompt you with a dream and show you any new places where He would want you to join Him.

I am learning something in my own life that gives me a precious sense of peace and freedom while reminding me how deeply I am loved by my Heavenly Father. Whenever I start feeling confused about whether I am following God’s specific “plan” or wondering if I am stewarding my gifts to their fullest, God whispers again this most basic request:

“Just love me.”

It is my prayer that everyone reading with me today will experience the fruit of a love affair with God — fruit like big dreams, big power (from the Holy Spirit in you) and a big love for others that motivates you to persevere in faith as a fully engaged disciple.

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13

Lisa Jamieson Lisa Jamieson is a national speaker, consultant and author of books and Bible studies including Finding Glory in the Thorns. She is executive director of Walk Right In Ministries and a gifted disciple-maker helping people engage intimately with God and more meaningfully within the Family of God—especially when life is challenging. As the youngest of Lisa’s three daughters has Angelman Syndrome, she has become champion for individuals and families experiencing disabilities. Her story has been featured internationally on television and radio including “Words to Live By,” Canada’s “100 Huntley Street” and My Refuge Radio in Belize. Lisa’s favorite writing is group-texting with her husband Larry and their adult daughters.

Join Me at Write Canada


Write Canada is Canada’s largest writers’ conference for Christian writers, in an all new venue for 2015!

@ Novotel North York

3 Park Home Avenue

Toronto, Ontario

June 11-13, 2015

If you’re an aspiring writer, fiction or non-fiction, this is a great place to meet and pitch to editors and agents, have your worked critiqued, participate in top notch classes and connect with other writers. I’m excited to be asked back to teach an expanded five-hour continuing class in Fiction Basics, as well as, a class on writing about crime and to participate in a panel of Love Inspired authors.

There are 5 Continuing Classes to choose from, 24 workshops and panels, 2 bonus intensive workshops for intermediate writers and…special linked-in seminars for professional writers with James Scott Bell and Mary DeMuthWC-friends 1

The conference, organized by The Word Guild, has something for everyone–authors, journalists, bloggers, columnists and poets. And new this year, students who become members of The Word Guild can sign up for Saturday alone for only $15 + HST!

In addition to faculty appointments, attendees may also make appointments with a professional photographer and a videographer.

The keynote speakers are Bill Fledderus, senior editor at Faith Today, and TV journalist Cheryl Weber.

Also new this year, the Awards Gala–a black tie dinner and ceremony–will follow the conference. Last Friday I heard that both my entries are finalist: Identity Withheld in the romance category; and Blind Trust in the mystery category. Yee!

If this sounds like an event you’d like to check out, don’t delay because the early bird prices end May 13th.


I have made many wonderful writing friends at previous Write Canada conferences and met my agent at one. The smaller size of the conference (about 200 people) allowed us to have several lengthy conversations during breaks and meals, which is an added perk I so appreciate about this more intimate conference than some larger ones I’ve attended.


Hope to see you there! Be sure to let me know if you’re coming.


Connected to Write Canada, this contest is designed to encourage Canadian student writers. Enter original works of fiction or nonfiction to a maximum length of 1500 words OR the first three chapters of a work in progress (up to 15 pages). Read on for more details.
Contest closes on May 15th at midnight EST

Age Categories: High School (ages 14 – 18)  & College/University (ages 17-30)
Genre Categories:
– Short story (1,500 words or less)
– Non-fiction piece (1,500 words or less)
– Poetry (1,500 words or less)
– First three chapters of an unpublished novel-does not have to be finished (15
pages or less)

Prizes are awarded to Winners and Finalists
Grand prize for each Age Category (2 winners in total):
– Free Saturday admission to Write Canada Conference including a personal meet
up with a professional of your choice.
– $100 cash prize.
– Free student membership in The Word Guild.*
– Valuable detailed comments and marks from those in the writing industry.

For full contest details and to enter CLICK HERE  


A Weekend Writing Adventure

This past Saturday, I had a blast leading a workshop at a retreat for Hospice Niagara Volunteers.

Hospice Niagara is a fabulous organization that provides compassionate care, hope, and encouragement to residents of Niagara with life-limiting progressive illnesses, as well as support to their caregivers, families and those who grieve their deaths.

Of the more than 350 volunteers with Hospice Niagara, 80 attended the retreat. And as the comedian who opened the event for us noted, with the majority of those volunteers being women, it’s a great place for retired single men to meet women…ur, volunteer. 😀

The theme for the retreat was about Inner Growth – stretching oneself to try and learn about new things. So…with the help of my daughter…

writers workshop b

I took my group of about twenty participants on a whirlwind tour of my journey from know-nothing newbie to published author, (which as it turned out, inspired some of the memoir writers in the group to do some revising to incorporate more fiction techniques into their writing). Then I coaxed everyone (well…almost everyone) into unleashing their imaginations as we brainstormed the plot and characters for a collaborative mystery story.

We had a riot, exploring motives and methods for…ur…killing off someone at the retreat–fictionally, of course.

We tallied an impressive list of suspects among the attendees. My secret suspicions that one person in our midst was CIA turned out to be not far off, as he later admitted to me that he was a former federal investigator.

Guess whose number I now have on speed dial? 😉

As part of my demonstration of how writers use seemingly incidental events as red herrings or secret reveals, my daughter wowed the participants with her acting talents

We also talked about how eccentric characters add so much to the texture of a story and searched the room for a few.

Finger Knitting

Enter Barb, our finger knitting lady–a topic for a whole other blog!

We also decided Barb would make a wonderful sleuth, since she loves to read mysteries, especially yours truly’s. How can I not admire her taste? 😆

As a bonus, I’m writing the story we brainstormed and sending it to the participants and my newsletter subscribers (click here to not miss it).

The faint of heart will be happy to learn that to keep the story short, our sleuth needed to solve the mystery at the event, so I opted to not allow our would-be murderer to actually succeed. That way the paramedics can truck off the victim to the hospital, as of yet unaware of the cause for his near-death condition, so we can dispense with the police getting in our sleuth’s way with all their rules and regulations.  😎

You can learn more about my talks and workshops on my Invite Sandra Orchard to Speak at your Event page.

Here’s a clip from this past weekend’s event (right click to open in a new window to allow time to load

Your Turn: What kind of topics would you like to hear an author talk about?