COARSEGOLD – Local resident Sandra McCart has been writing since she was a teenager, and now, more than sixty years later, the newly-crowned octogenarian author has published her first novel. According to Sandra, who writes under the name Sandra Masters, it’s worth the wait. Her new book is called, “Once Upon A Duke,” and it’s the first of a series.
“I feel like the luckiest person in the world because I got to fulfill a dream, and it only took six and a half decades!”
Sandra is holding a book signing on Monday, July 27 at the Yosemite Lakes Park Clubhouse library, located at 30250 Yosemite Springs Parkway from 5 to 8 p.m. At the same time, the association will also be hosting their weekly “Taco Night” where one may purchase a full dinner for $8. No reservations are required.
Once 14-year-old Sandra got her first taste of literary romance with the Frank Yerby book, Foxes of Harrow, she was hooked. That book was set in New Orleans society in the 1800s, and as it turns out, Sandra is a big fan of period romance, as well.
For many years, Sandra toiled away quietly writing books in her “spare” time, between full time work in risk management and parenting two kids. She wrote for the fun and joy of it, and eventually wound up with 14 books complete, but for the longest time, she never did anything about it.
“Then, about 3 years ago, I decided that I really wanted to do something before I left the planet, and I learned the craft,” says the writer, 80. “What I had before may have been nice, and perhaps beautifully written, but it wasn’t publishable.”
Her new book is called Once Upon A Duke, and it was originally written in 2006, though just published this month. What changed between all that writing and actually getting published?
“I joined the Romance Writers of America and the Yosemite Romance Writers, and that’s where I really got the bug. These writers and would-be writers were terribly generous with their advice and their time.”
Sandra has two sons in their mid-fifties, and a whole bunch of grandkids that live on the east coast. She’s been in California for 27 years, the last 14 in Yosemite Lakes Park, married to Ron McCart.
“I literally work from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m., I’m always either working on or promoting a novel.” says the dedicated scribe. “At 4 p.m. we closed down and Ron and I have a gin and tonic. He’s my plotster. I get his perspective on a man’s point of view – would a character do this? Would he say this? How would he feel? It’s been incredibly enriching for our marriage.”
Sandra calls her work, “spicy sensual seduction with swagger.” It’s racy, she says, not erotic. She concentrates on Regency romance, a blissfully exciting period just before the restrictive Victorian era. Research is one of Sandra’s favorite parts of the writing process.
“Regency romance is pre-Victorian, 1800 to 1820. It was a racy of romp of twenty years!”
When Sandra finally thought this novel was ready to be submitted, she sent it to two traditional publishers in the romance genre field who had Regency sub-genres.
“I got back two rejections, and while rejections are not easy, I was blessed that both editors gave me solid suggestions to improve the book.”
One editor, Cindy Davis of The Wild Rose Press, took a great deal of her time to tell Sandra what she looked for.
“I polished up the book and submitted it again, and she told me I wasn’t quite there. I polished some more, tightening the words, going into characterization and POV or point of view. The latter is very important. I kept an ongoing relationship with her over the three-four months and when I felt it was the best I could do, I sent it to her.”
Sandra waited a long two weeks, and finally at 4 a.m. one morning, got an email that read, “Guess what?”
“That’s all she wrote. I waited and waited. Then I replied: ‘What? This is cruel and unusual punishment.’ She replied: ‘Wanna contract?’ Of course, I said YES, and then started more edits. She is a great content editor and together we got the book in shape for publication. The Wild Rose Press is very author friendly and invites its authors to online chat rooms, answers questions quickly, and has been very good to me.”
With a passion for strong female characters, Sandra is an author who writes what she knows.
“I am a strong woman myself, but in those bygone days in the 1800s, women were treated no better than a horse, or a cow, or a farm animal, even at the aristocratic level. My character Serena knows what she wants and she wants marriage to the Duke. He’s afraid of love and what it can do. He starts to think that maybe there’s a chance for them, but believes he has time. Serena’s villainous brother engages her to a political cronie, who takes Serena to an armed fortress and literally keeps her prisoner until the nuptial day.”
Want to know more? Come to the YLP Clubhouse on Monday, July 27, and talk to Sandra. You’ll be happy you did.
“All my heroines in my books are strong, spirited, and the banter is back and forth like ping pong play heightening sensual tension. Most of all, I do believe that love conquers all.”