I’m thrilled to introduce you to Sandi Rog. Sandi was instrumental in my writing journey. She helped me develop my first manuscript into one worth reading, and then helped me find my first publisher. She’s an amazing author, and today we’re bringing you her latest, Out of the Ashes. She’s offering a paperback to one lucky reader, so don’t forget to leave a comment before Wednesday midnight for a chance. (U.S. residents only, please.)
Tell me about the story of Out of the Ashes.
Out of the ashes is what you could call a rags-to-riches story. Actually, here’s a letter I wrote to my readers in the opening cover:
Had it not been for the Lord and the many thousands of people who prayed me through cancer, this book never would have been written. If you’re one of the people who prayed for me, thank you. Mere words aren’t enough to express my gratitude.
Having emerged back onto the writing scene after the two-year battle, and feeling rather beat up after the long fight, I needed something with a happy ending. Like a fairytale. Think Cinderella. That’s what this book is, something bright and cheerful. So, Out of the Ashes is a lighter read than my other books: The Master’s Wall, Yahshua’s Bridge, and even Walks Alone.
What a blessing it has been for me to have the strength to write Nathaniel and Amelia’s story. Thank you, precious readers, for walking with me as I dig my way out of the aftermath of this battle one step at a time. Or shall I say, one page at a time.
Give us the back cover of the book.
A stranger. A kiss. A shotgun wedding.
NATHANIEL WARD, wealthy entrepreneur, needs a wife. But he’s not interested in the preening, high-society women who are offered to him on a silver platter. He wants one woman, and one woman alone: the girl who gave him all the money in her reticule years ago when the Great Chicago Fire left him destitute. He sets out to find this woman and discovers she’s unattached. There’s only one problem, a shotgun wedding may be able to bind them, but will he ever be able to win her heart?
AMELIA E. TAYLOR blows a kiss to a street rat. Little did she know, years later that kiss would follow her to Green Pines, Colorado. When a handsome stranger arrives in her hometown, she guards her heart from the stirrings this man ignites. Despite society’s disapproval of spinsterhood, she is determined not to marry, having witnessed first-hand the lack of love and horrors that accompany marriage. But [tweetthis]Will a shotgun wedding reveal blessings that arise Out Of the Ashes? @SandiRog[/tweetthis]
Share the first page of Out of the Ashes:
Green Pines, Colorado, 1882
Gun smoke burned Amelia’s eyes and her ears still rang. She blinked the tears from her lashes.
“Do you, Nathaniel Ward,” the preacher scowled, “take Amelia Taylor to be your lawfully wedded wife?”
Amelia’s father cocked his rifle and aimed it at the reluctant groom.
“I do,” Nathaniel said, his voice firm and unwavering. Despite her father’s threats, Nathaniel’s very presence exuded power, his raised chin, broad shoulders and wide chest unflinching against the barrel of the rifle.
Amelia didn’t dare look up at him. What must he be thinking? How many women had hoped to get him this far, and now, here she stood where most women dreamed of standing—shotgun wedding, or not. If only she could melt into the parlor’s wooden floor like the candle burning in the nearby lamp. Or disappear like the smoke. Disappear into nothingness, with no remnant left of her existence.
“Do you, Amelia Taylor, take Nathaniel Ward to be your lawfully wedded husband?” The preacher’s words rushed over Amelia like a gush of foul air.
She stood paralyzed, unable to speak. She’d vowed never to marry. How would she bear this cross? She’d seen enough loveless marriages in her life to know it wasn’t worth the heartache, despite the shame of spinsterhood. And now, to be forced on a man? What miseries awaited her? Abuse? Neglect? Slavery? Any man in his right mind would despise her for the rest of his days. It would be impossible—unthinkable—to procure his affection … his love.
The minister, still in his nightclothes, cleared his throat. His wife, holding up the lantern, glowered from behind him.
Amelia swallowed, darting a glance at her terrifying father. With a snarl, he narrowed his eyes at Nathaniel and pressed closer with his rifle. Would he put another hole in the preacher’s wall? Or Nathaniel’s chest?
“Amelia, girl.” Her father’s voice sent a shudder down her spine as it echoed through the quiet house. “You know, I always keep my word.” He’d threatened to kill Nathaniel if she refused to be his wife.
“I do,” she said, her voice small and trembling, quite the opposite of the man next to her. The horror, the shame. How did her life come to this?
“I now pronounce you man and wife.” The minister slammed his Bible shut and pointed it at her father. “Now get out!”
Shadows clouded Amelia’s vision, and her legs wobbled like those of a newborn calf. Her knees buckled, but rather than landing on the hard floor, she found herself caught in Nathaniel’s strong arms.
Now her husband.
What’s next after Out of the Ashes?
I’m currently working on the sequel titled Into the Fire, which tells the hero’s brother’s story, Michael Ward. He’s a brooding, hot-tempered character who falls head-over-heals in love with the feisty, God-fearing heroine, Nicolette.
If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?
Boy, if I like that question! If time and money didn’t matter, I’d want to go on European trips with my husband. I’d like to go back to the places we’ve already seen, and spend more time there, soaking up more details of the experience. I’d also love to go to places we never had a chance to see. That’s what I’d LOVE to do.
What three things are you most thankful for in your life that others might think silly?
This question leaped off the page for me. Only thing is, I don’t think folks would find them “silly.” I am most thankful to be ALIVE. I’m so grateful to God that He allowed me more time on this earth to raise my children. In case your readers don’t know, I’m three years in remission from a major battle with cancer. In the end, I beat it with Vitamin B17. If you’d like to read more about my story, go HERE.
I’m grateful to be homeschooling my kids. I get to spend every moment of my time with them, and it’s so exciting to see the learn and be a part of that growth!
I’m thankful also for my husband and how he stuck by me during the cancer battle. We now have a new song. He literally wiped my tears, carried me into the doctor’s offices or to my bed, he did everything this song talks about. It’s “I Won’t Let go” by Rascal Flatts.
It was my hubby who discovered the vitamin that saved my life. It’s a concentrated form of apricot kernels. Genesis 1:29, “Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” I never realized God expects us to eat His seeds too. They kill cancer!
Please tell us five random things we might not know about you.
I ride a unicycle, I played Ado Annie in both my High School and College plays, I twirl my hair (so it was greatly missed when I lost it during cancer), I love to sing during worship services, and I like to tease my husband and call him silly nicknames (he’s very organized and a logical thinker, so it’s fun to knock him off his stride).
What is the most important thing on your current ‘To Do ‘ list?
Raise my children to love God and have a great passion for Jesus.
What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?
My strengths: I have plenty of ideas for stories. My weaknesses: I have very little time or energy to get them down on the page.
Do you outline your books or let the story go where it wishes?
I’m a panster. I write by the seat of my pants. I usually come up with an exciting scene or idea and build a story around it.What three things do you know now about the publishing world that you wish you knew when you first started?
Not sure this amounts to “three things,” but I learned it would have been more financially beneficial to self-publish (as I did this book). I make more money on this one book that isn’t selling as well as my others than I do on the books that are selling well. This book was my “light, easy read,” while my other books are much more deep. I’ve discovered (even though all the agents and editors out there say that “romance sells”), that’s not true. While this romance is selling, the stories I’ve written that don’t primarily focus on the romance have done better. Mind you, ALL my stories have romance in them, but the others fall more in the “historical novel” category, while this book falls simply under the “romance” category.
Has being an author been everything you thought it would be? If not, what has surprised you the most?
I suppose what’s surprised me the most is how little author’s make and how much more publishers make. The amount in earnings is unfair.
What gave you the inspiration for this particular story?
I thought it would be interesting to write about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Doing research for that was fascinating. The things I’ve learned I share in snippets in each book, while the main focus is on the romance.
How did you choose your characters’ names?
I looked up names that were popular for that era. For my other books I’ve picked names that had a significant meaning that fit their personality, but for this book, I just picked names that I felt had a nice ring for that time period.
How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Well, I hate to throw my dad under the bus, but I got the idea for Amelia to be left without money because my dad did that to me when I was a teen. Luckily, I was able to call my mom and she took care of me. But I’ll never forget when he left and I realized I didn’t have anything to eat or any way to purchase food. LOL
As for Amelia’s character, I’d say I’m like her in the way that she was pretty much on her own and was forced to be self-reliant.
Sandi Rog is an international and award-winning author of The Master’s Wall, Yahshua’s Bridge, and Walks Alone. Also a mother of four, she lived in Holland for thirteen years and now lives in Colorado with her husband, children, a cat, and too many spiders. She can be found on her website and her blog, and on Facebook and Twitter.
Her books can be bought on Amazon and other sites.
Sandi is also the author of Walks Alone, The Master’s Wall and Yahshua’s Bridge.