Sunday, December 1, 2013

My first bookclub interview!

Just minutes before I arrived to meet with the ladies of the P.E.O, Chapter CP, book club, I still hadn't made up my mind on how much I would honestly reveal about where I got the ideas within my book!!
You know what they say - authors write what they know!
All I knew was the agony we sometimes go through as
real estate agents.
Everything else . . . I made up!!

I didn't know anything about running a clandestine call girl business! Or about what to do if you found a naked dead body handcuffed to a bed in a sleazy hotel room. I certainly had never shopped in a sex store for "business supplies" for a dominatrix! I had never played spy to know how to follow someone, only to watch her sneak into the front seat of Lexus in a dark, abandoned retail shopping center parking lot to join a man that wasn't her husband!! I'd never been arrested either and had no idea what personal belongings one could bring with them when reporting to the slammer!
When I started writing this story, I knew nothing about any of those things!!
I learned it all on
But the sweet ladies of the P.E.O., Chapter CP, book club were polite enough not to ask me if I had really ever done any of those things. They didn't ask if I had met my husband at the gas station, if I had ever had a real Crazy Kim neighbor, or an obnoxious ex-friend who made everything a competition. They didn't want to know if my real best friend is a gay, but macho-looking, Puerto Rican or if my husband is really as laid back as David. They didn't seem to care that maybe me, or someone I know, had a breast implant drain, or if I lie to my husband as easily as Niki lies to hers.
What they DID WANT TO KNOW was who each other's favorite - or least favorite - characters were, and why. They were curious to know how each might react in a similar "desperate people do desperate things" situation. They discussed at great length which of Niki's escapades was their favorite. I was intrigued, and sometimes, surprised to hear their various answers.
I enjoyed hearing their feedback, and answering their questions. But at one point I noticed one participant with a look of shock on her face only to find out that I might be causing a stir in Paradise Bakery (the location of the meeting), by nonchalantly talking about naked dead bodies, blow jobs, prostitution, and various characters named Pussy, Tall, Dark and Has Some, and Scrumptious! Oops! My story and characters are so real to me that I guess I now talk about it like its mainstream!
I am so grateful to the ladies of the P.E.O., Chapter CP, book club for reading my book, Cat House, Adventures of a Real Estate Madam! I sincerely appreciate your support and promise that if any of  you want to know anything else about my story ideas . . . just ask :)
But I still might not decide to be totally honest!!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Five things I'm thankful for . . .
regarding my new writing career!

Today is Thanksgiving and while I am grateful for so many things in my personal life - my loving husband of nearly 31 years, my two fantastic adult daughters, my bonus son, his wife, and three children, our darling Yorkie, my parents and their continued health, my siblings, my friends and all my extended family . . . this year I am especially thankful for my new writing career!

My first book was released on July 17 and while I struggle to find the time to promote it - while working on  book #2 and still running a legal business selling real estate - I feel it's already been a HUGE success!! Every time someone I don't know (my family and friends naturally tell me they love it!), tells me THEY loved reading it . . . I feel such a sense of accomplishment!! My goal from the very beginning was to make people laugh, and that's happening. B-I-N-G-O!!!

That alone is enough to give thanks . . . but here are the top five things I'm thankful for regarding my new career.

1) I'm thankful for Jeffrey Taylor, the gentleman who challenged me to write the book in the first place. Rest in peace, Jeffrey.

2) I'm thankful that I work in an industry that allows me the flexibility to find time to write! While I typically write from ten p.m. to way into the wee hours of the morning, I don't have to then get up at dawn to get ready for a one hour drive through traffic to report to a desk job across town.

3) I'm thankful for my sisters who supported me through the beginning stages of trying to figure out how to write a book! And then for having the guts to offer to be my first beta readers! Thanks for your continued support.

4) I'm thankful for my husband who has supported me 100% of the way! He's never read the book (and I've never asked him to), but he believes it's great just because he loves me.

5) I'm truly thankful for my new real estate agent, and now new friend, Stephanie Spade, for becoming as excited about my book and it's success as I am!!! Steph is now my co-writer/producer and the editor of our new web series "6 Degrees of Separation to Kristen Wiig." If you haven't checked them out yet, you can catch up watching the first three episodes in four minutes or less!!

Oh, I now I want to add #6 :)

6) I'm SINCERELY thankful to everyone who has read my book! I know it's a risk to invest in a book from a debut author - there are millions of us out there - but you had the faith that my story would be worth reading, and for that, I am so grateful!!



Friday, November 15, 2013

Do you know Kristen Wiig??

I'm on a quest to get Kristen Wiig
to read my book!!

Do you know her?

I love the movie Bridesmaids which she wrote (with Annie Mumolo), stars in and co-produced! I think the entire cast of that movie could be cast to play the characters in my book!

Kristen would make a FANTASTIC (ten years younger) Niki Brooks. 

Maya Rudolph has the snap and attitude to play man-hater turned dominatrix, Morgan Snow.

Wendi McLendon-Covey could easily pull off sex kitten meets Mati Hari, Piper Foles.

And for anyone who's read the book already . . . can't you see Melissa McCarthy as the perfect Pussy Galore?? Hilarious!!

Although I understand he's not happy with all the notoriety about his . . . manhood, who better to play Tall, Dark and Has Some than Jon Hamm?? Sorry Jon but it might get you another gig :)

I even think Chris O'Dowd could pull off my gay Puerto Rican, Rico!

I will find a way to get Kristen to read my book, hoping she'll think it's funny - and original - enough to write the screen play, produce it AND star in it!!

I've got some ideas on how to make that happen so stay tuned.
I hope you'll follow me on my quest!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November is National Novel Writing Month!

NaNoWriMoNovember 1 marked the beginning of the 15th annual National Novel Writing Month project, designed to inspire new writers to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days!

Check out the USA today article for more information.

Quote: The event continues to grow, and new highlights include a partnership with Wattpad. Participants who upload their stories will be eligible to win $2,000 and access a community of millions of writers. Cafes, bookstores and other spaces have also agreed to serve as community writing spaces; the official site will help you find resources in your town.

This is GREAT WAY to get inspired and begin that writing project that you've been dreaming about. Put down your rake, forget about your already long-over due filing project, stop worrying about how you're ever going to get your old photos organized and START WRITING A NOVEL!

You can also check out the NaNoWriMo official site at:

I've begun writing my second Niki Brooks story but haven't had much time over the past couple months to work on it. Maybe I'll take advantage of this special month and get mine done too! Believe me, it doesn't take that long to reach 50,000 words!

Go for it!! The world is waiting for your novel!

P.S. If you accept the challenge, let me know how you do :)

Saturday, September 21, 2013

No . . . that' not MY leg!!

I'm getting tons of positive feedback on the cover design for my book! It seems we nailed our goal of designing an intriguing cover that gives a potential reader the "feel" for what the story is about.

One of the main questions I'm getting however is . . . "is that YOUR leg?"

The answer is "no, that's not my leg."

For the benefit of other self-published authors out there wondering how to create a professional-looking cover without the benefit of being a graphic designer themselves, here's the process I went through.

I've mentioned in earlier posts about how excited I am to be meeting other interesting, helpful authors on this new journey of mine, and that's exactly how I came to design the cover of my book.

I would like to personally thank Ann Narcisian Videan,, for telling me about MicroBurst,, an on-line company offering logo, graphic and web design services. MicroBurst offers a unique way to work with their designers - through design contests. You offer to award a specific amount, input the parameters of what you're looking for, and then designers submit their designs for your review and approval. You can then chose your own winner and work with that specific designer to fine tune the design.

For instance, I input that I wanted a book cover design showing an apparently naked professional woman standing in front of a large home and behind a FOR SALE sign. I wanted the word HOUSE on the FOR SALE sign to be crossed out and the word SEX written above it. That's all I put. I left the rest up to the imagination of the designer.

Over a week's time, I received nearly 40 designs. Of the 40, I was interested in 8-10. Some of the designers totally missed the mark and others nailed it. It was fun to log in every day to see if any new designs had been uploaded and then to check out each one. Believe me, I saw some really interesting designs.

The design I chose is now the cover of my book (without the text, that was done by someone else). That particular designer paid attention to what I asked for but put his/her own spin on it by having the naked woman peek out from the side of the page instead of standing behind the sign. I hadn't considered that possibility BUT LOVED IT! I'm pretty creative, but I'm not a professional graphic artist. I relied on the talents of those who are and together, I think we came up with a killer design!!

I paid less than $300 for the design and had it done within one week. MicroBurst was excellent to work with and walked me through the entire process. I intend to use their services for the cover design of all my future books.

I have since learned there are other online graphic design services so I encourage you to check them all out and chose the one that would work best for your time, budget and comfort level.

Bringing a book to market yourself is NOT as difficult as you might imagine and if you ask, you will undoubtedly find another, more experienced self-published author to help you or guide you.

If you think I can help you in any way, just ask :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's sunny . . . with a chance of murder!!

I'm working away on book #2 and feeling much more confident about what I'm doing this time. As a result, I'm having even more fun!

As I sit at my dining room table (I've migrated from my isolated home office, to taking over the family dinner table as my current writing nook--it's not like we ever used the table for eating anyway) looking out the bayed oversized windows into another gorgeous Arizona sunny day, my mind is whirling with murder ideas. But sunshine and murder just don't seem to go together. They're more like oil and water than peanut butter and jelly. Nonetheless, it seems to be working for me.

I'm also busy keeping up with the visitors to my com author chat (thank you all!) where I'm getting great feedback about what readers like and sometimes, what they don't like (I asked). As I'm working on this new story, I'm keeping their comments in mind to help me insure delivery of another fun-to-read Niki Brooks mystery!!

This time, Niki and Rico will begin to learn the ins and outs of searching for a missing person, their first lesson in private investigating. Along their journey they'll encounter new friends . . . and new foes . . . and will hopefully master how to handle a weapon (namely, a gun).

Will they find Lorna before Russell is successful in making her disappear forever? Will they find Russell before someone else makes him disappear forever? He is their only lead to Lorna, so if they lose him, they lose Lorna.

Both Russell's and Lorna's parents believe (or want to believe) she left with Russell on her own so they're no help and because they've convinced the authorities that a (clearly forged) letter from Lorna says the same, they are no help either. Niki and Rico are on their own.

In the first book, Niki knew nothing about running a call girl business, but she figured it out and survived the experience. In this next book, Niki is once again learning a new skill, but will she be successful this time?


That's the fun or writing! Even though I have the general storyline, I still have no idea where this new journey will take me - or Niki. I will continue to look to the bright Arizona sunshine as I plan my murders and mystery.

Stay tuned for another weather report soon.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happiness is a choice

I was recently interviewed by writer/blogger, Karen Randau,, about my choice to self-publish my first Niki Brooks Mystery novel, "Cat House, Adventures of a Real Estate Madam." One of the best questions Karen asked me, however, was not about me or my book but "how do you find joy in daily life?"

I didn't even have to think about that one, because I believe happiness is a choice.  Happiness is a conscious thought that starts in the brain and affects everything we say or do, and how we react to the messiness that is life.  Have you ever seen someone walking around (probably in Walmart) wearing a t-shirt that says "I like my bad attitude"? I have, and I hate that t-shirt. I know they are probably wearing it in the spirit of fun but we are what we think (not just what we eat).
A pity party is the only party that I ever want to leave early so I wear a blue plastic bracelet every day - I never take it off - that reminds me to move on if I find I'm wallowing too much or for too long. I simply snap my bracelet and say "that's enough!" I give myself a little time to grieve - 5 minutes, 10 minutes, maybe even an hour some days - but then I find something else to do that gets my mind off whatever my negative situation may be. I go to a happy place. For me, that's spending time with either my family or real friends, or playing with my imaginary friends from my Niki Brooks series!  Every day I get to write is a joy!

Another thing that helps me find  joy is by spreading joy to others. The Dalai Lama says, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If YOU want to be happy, practice compassion," meaning we need to spread our happiness to others. Maybe that's offering a simple smile to the man you pass in the frozen food isle who looks lost in the grocery store, or saying a cheery "hello" to the lady behind you in line at the post office who keeps bumping you, or maybe you could let someone who looks like they're in more of a hurry than you are cut in front of you in line at the DMV.
Everything we need to be joyful is within us. We just have to pay attention and make the choice.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My inspiration has died

Literally, the gentleman who inspired me to write my book, Jeffrey Taylor, has died. I am so very sad.
I tried to locate him a few times while I was working on the book but never heard back. Now that it's done, I've been trying much harder. The phone number I had for him had been assigned to someone new (to a girl about 20 who had never heard of him), his online presence hadn't been updated since late 2010 (the year I started the book), and to explain it all, I just found his obituary.

Jeffrey Taylor 

Jeffrey Taylor, 60, of Scottsdale, AZ passed away on June 19, 2011. Jeffrey was born February 18, 1951 in Newark New Jersey to Howard and Sandra Taylor. He was a graduate of Newark Academy (1969), Washington University (1973) and University of Chicago (1975). Jeffrey was an entrepreneur, an entertainer and a friend to those in need. He is survived by his wife of 23 years, Toby Taylor; two daughters, Jordana Hazel & Moira Taylor; two step-children and their spouses, George & Elizabeth Friedman and Carrie & Doug LeBow; and three step-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held Saturday June 25, 1:30 pm, at North Scottsdale Fellowship Club in Scottsdale.

I didn't know Jeffrey well but he made a profound impact on my life. Robert and I met him at a commercial real estate conference in 2008, right at the beginning of the recession. He was the main speaker and we enjoyed his incredible humor so much, that we hung around afterwards like stalkers so we could invite him for a drink. That's when we learned he was an alcoholic. At that time however, he'd been sober for many years and in fact, had published his first book, A Gentleman Drunk, about his struggles with alcohol. I will always cherish my signed copy.
Jeffrey was full of life and very smart! We would speak from time to time about real estate, humor and life in general. I called him late in 2009 to discuss an idea I had to write a book - not the one I ended up writing - because I respected him so much and knew he would be a wealth of information. It seemed to me Jeffrey knew a lot about everything! Not only did he take my call that evening but he spent over an hour on the phone with me helping me sort out what to do. At the end of the conversation, he asked how Robert and I were planning to survive the recession and I proceeded to tell him about my idea of starting a call girl business selling sex instead of houses, ending that I would eventually get caught and sent to jail, and then I would write a book about my life while in prison and retire a millionaire. When I was done explaining and he was done laughing, he said "You need to do that." Of course I told him I would never really start an illegal business. "No," he clarified, "I meant write the story you just told me. It's funny as hell and everyone these days is looking for a reason to laugh." He even offered to help me get it published if I did it.
I took his challenge and started writing my book in January, 2010. Knowing how busy he was, I didn't try to contact him until sometime mid-2011, just about the time he passed away. Now, two years later I discover his death and realize his memory will live on through my book and I'm so proud that I've been able to introduce it to the world! I now hope I'll be able to track down one of his survivors to let them know what an incredible man I think he was and how a chance meeting with him has helped me change my life.

Rest in Peace dear man.


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

MY first REAL review!!

Ann Videan, writer and author, was kind enough to post her review of my book on
Thank you Ann!!

Fun, genre-hopping read August 12, 2013
By Ann

Format:Hardcover|Amazon Verified Purchase

Sandoval does a great job with her independently published debut novel. Once through the tad-bit-long situational set-up, Cat House had me turning pages until I couldn't keep my eyes open. I found the characters believable, the story line fresh, and enjoyed the light humor. I liked how the story included elements from several genres: romance, suspense, chicklit, mystery, etc. I wish she already had a sequel in the wings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

My first newspaper article!!

Here it goes!! I'm starting to sell books and get noticed!! This new wonderful world that I'm now involved in is so exciting!!

I found out this morning that the Chandler-based San Tan Sun News picked up my press release and printed a story. THANK YOU SAN TAN SUN!!

Click on my "Press" page to check it out.

I've also learned that my book is now shelved in the Pierre, South Dakota Rawlins public library (thank you Kerry Johnson Bowers) and will soon be in the Vermillion, South Dakota public library (thank you Joyce Jansen Moore). I SO MUCH appreciate the support of my hometown contacts!!

I'm so thankful to all who have already purchased my book and I hope that you are enjoying it. That was my goal from the very beginning. I wanted to write something entertaining that would make people laugh at the end of a stressful day.




Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's officially for sale!

Whew!! That was a long ride!!

So many times, I felt like I was back in our aqua blue rambler cruising down the prairie highway, asking my father "Are we there yet? Are we there yet?"

BUT, unlike back then when I eventually fell asleep due to boredom and woke up what seemed like three minutes later to learn we WERE there . . . I've lived every second of this trip wide awake!!


I've loved every second of my journey from the first "Hey, I think I'll write a book" idea all way to "OH MY GOODNESS . . . I've written a book!"

I wouldn't change one bump, curve, stall or flat, because every one helped move me forward and encouraged me to stay on course.

Now that I've reached my first destination of "published author," I will continue on my journey to the next stop . . . "best selling author!"

My trip so far has been on the ground traveling at about 45 mph, but now it's time to take off like a rocket!! I'm going to shoot for the stars!

My deepest appreciation to everyone who has helped me get this far. You know who you are. I wouldn't have made it all by myself. I've had constant help navigating through unchartered territory and I will continue to look to you all for your continued support.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

The REAL fun is about to begin!

The fruits of my labor are about to come to fruition!!
My book will be ready for sale VERY SOON!!

It’s been a fantastic, three-year ride – with ups and downs, highs and lows and fear and excitement. I’ve been through them all and I would do it – and in fact, am doing it – again!

I’ve started the outline for the SECOND NIKI BROOKS MYSTERY – called Beach House. More to come on that later . . .

Looking back on my writing experience thus far, I don't think I totally comprehend what I’ve accomplished.  I wrote a 145,000 word NOVEL!! And I didn’t have an inkling of how to do it when I began.

That’s where all the mixed emotions come into play. One day I would giggle through page-after-page of a writing frenzy, hence happy, elated – and another day I would sit staring at my computer, not able to think of a thing to write (that didn’t totally stink), hence – fear.

There were times when I thought my writing was right on the money, having read about how to properly structure a plot, how to develop character arcs, create scene conflict, determine theme, set the pace and produce a great story!

Later,  while editing what I’d written, I would panic thinking my story was totally off base and not something anyone other than me or my family would ever read.

I’ve been all over the map during my journey and somehow, I’ve reached my final destination. It’s now time to deliver the goods!!

I’ve got one final read-through to make sure my team and I have caught every possible error and then it will be time to set this story free!! 

SOON . . . my first Niki Brooks mystery will be available through, Barnes & Noble, iUniverse Bookstore, and through this website!!
I can't wait for you to read it!!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I'm at the finish line! But will I stop running?

It's April 3, 2013 and I've FINALLY submitted my manuscript to the publisher for design!  Actually, I first submitted it back in November, 2012 and then again two weeks ago but both times called it back for MORE editing!  I fear I'm falling into "paralysis of analysis."  It happens quite often with me.  I do tend to overthink things . . .

I admit I'm a little paranoid about releasing the finished product only to open it to page 28, or 76 or 313 and find a typo! I WILL JUST DIE!!

I've had it edited by a pro, edited by a college student studying to become a pro, I've read it myself six times and have had four family members and two friends read it for me too.
You would think I would be satisfied that the finished product is devoid of punctuation, grammatical and/or typographical errors . . . but I'm not. One slight slip of the finger on the keyboard can go undetected until a reader who just paid for a copy sits down to enjoy a few chapters with a glass of wine. Oops . . . sorry.

I know the story so well - duh . . . I wrote it - and that's what makes it so difficult for me to find my own errors, unless it's really blatant. But I've found a few places where an extra word is hidden in plain sight, another word is missing and no where to be found, and yet another time I might find the right word in the wrong spot! What's a writer to do?!

I tried purchasing an on-line editing program to help me as well but all that did was send me into a tailspin!
I was so excited to try the "easy to use" software where all you do is cut-n-paste an excerpt (up to 100,000 words at one time!) into their program and in just a few quick seconds - VIOLA! - you have an editing report showing you everything you never wanted to know about what is wrong with your manuscript!

There were underlined words, words in red, words in green, words in blue, words in BOLD, words in italics, underlined words in red, green or blue, words in BOLD that were italicized, entire paragraphs highlighted in color, or underlined, or in BOLD, and on-and-on-and-on.

There was NO WAY I was ever going to get through all the suggestions! I asked for a refund on my purchase just two hours after I paid for it.

A friend once told me sometimes we have to believe "enough is good enough." And I think I finally get that. I've done the very best job I can to produce the very best manuscript that I can and now I pray that my readers will think so too.

I hope you will one day enjoy reading my story - CAT HOUSE - over a glass of wine and if you find an error, you'll smile and say . . . I know she gave it her best :)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Dear Editor

Dear Editor -

THANK YOU for agreeing to edit my manuscript :)  I have done my best not only to create a story that is intriguing, engaging and exciting . . . but I have tried hard to catch my own typographical errors, grammatical errors, sentence structure problems and point-of-view consistency.

In fact, before I submitted the manuscript to you, I read it from cover-to-cover four times.

So you won't see that I originally wrote one character's last name as Fowles and another time as Knowles.

I caught that in one chapter I referenced the "boiling heat of a Phoenix summer" and then three paragraphs later described the character as wearing boots and a sweater. 

Over the first three chapters, I referenced the threat of the protagonist and her family living in their Escalade at least six different times. I eliminated five of them.

In the first chapter, I wrote about the protagonist getting herpes from a client but didn't make it clear she got the virus from the STRESS of dealing with that client - not from having sex with him. I've reworded that sequence.

During my second re-read, I discovered I wrote that the protagonist is from Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota!  I've since made up my mind and made that change.

Had I not found it first, I'm sure you would have noticed that I described the protagonist's husband as having both green and brown eyes. I've since decided his eyes are brown.

And I found several words that I wrote but did not mean; ie, one time I referred to a character's "boots" as "books." Another time I referenced the character "Grace" as "Claire."  And yet again I referred to "Pussy" as "Piper." It even confused me during my re-read! I now understand why it's recommended not to have characters names that are close in sound.

And Mr. Editor . . . I'm sure you're editing this blog post as well - but that's okay - it's your job! I want and need your expert opinion, professional experience and diligent efforts.

I want my finished product to be as PERFECT as it can be!!

MK Sandoval

Sunday, January 6, 2013

It's my anniversary!

I penned my first words on paper (figurtively speaking--I created my book through a book-writing software program) two years ago today!  I finished the story back in October (2012) but I'm still working on the editing portion of the process.

My original goal was to create a story approximately 90,000 words long. I had read that's a good average size of a novel. My finished story is just over 150,000 words. It took me a few more words to put my story together :)

When I began writing, I knew the general story plot. I had already decided what I wanted the BIG SURPRISE to be at the end, but I had no idea how to get there!!

I must have changed my beginning twenty times--and didn't finally settle on the first line until several months into the project. That's the beauty of not writing pen on paper. The software program I used made it simple to make changes. Not only could I easily delete the words I had just written, but I could slide however much text I wanted - a word, group of words, sentence, paragraph or even an entire chapter - to wherever I thought it might better fit.

It was definitely a "work in progress." 

I've mentioned already that I began learning about my new craft by purchasing and reading at least 100 books on how to write a book. I scoured the entire Phoenix Metropolitan area for every used book store I could find to build my library. It was fun to dig through the shelves looking for buried treasure.

I've now read books on how to build a plot, how to write dialogue, timing, writing description, characterization, and several other "general writing" manuals. I have a crime reference guide, a book on police procedures, a manual on "reading people," a book about how to write humor and other more specific writer manuals. I even found The Romance Writers' Phrase Book which came in handy when deciding on how to describe some of my characters.

It's been so exciting to get to where I am. Who knew my love of books would someday lead me to writing one!