Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review of Deep Cover -- and interview with Sandra Orchard

Rick Gray gave up the love of his life 15 months ago when he didn't dare correct Ginny Bryson's misconception that he was a gang member instead of an undercover cop on assignment. He walked away, hurting, because the last thing he wanted to do was draw the gang's attention to a vulnerable, unsuspecting woman--vulnerable because of her connection to him.

Now posing as a construction foreman to gain evidence of the boss's previous insurance frauds, Rick finds that Ginny, the boss's niece, has been hired as the PR person on the current project, a group home for people with special needs. One of the new home's residents will be Ginny's younger sister.

Rick doesn't dare tip Ginny off as to the type of man he suspects her uncle is. In Rick's desire--drive--to protect her, he once again has to pretend to be someone he isn't. When Ginny unwittingly talks about how she could never marry a cop, he believes that the real Rick would never have a chance with her anyway.

But Ginny and her sister are in more danger than he at first suspected, and all the lies--or truths--in the world may not be enough to save them when trouble comes calling.

Deep Cover is the first in a series of undercover cop stories for Love Inspired Suspense, set in the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada. The author did a great job with a believable story line and intertwining theme threads in the exploration of the morals of deception.


Help me welcome fellow Canadian Sandra Orchard to ICFW!

VC: Sandra, Where did you get the idea for the undercover cop series?

SO: I read a newspaper article about an undercover sting and was surprised by how many “illegal” things the cops involved had to do, let alone the duplicity required. It got me wondering how a believer in that situation would reconcile the requirements of the job with those of his faith, and what the emotional strain of his duplicity would be on his personal life.

VC: Did you pitch them as a series?

SO: Yes, when I pitched it to Love Inspired Suspense.

VC: Ah, were you targeting them to Love Inspired all along?

SO: I was, but along the way I got sidetracked by requests from editors at other houses. As a result, I spent about a year lengthening the story to suit their required word count, and then waiting for responses, before I was free to submit it to LI.

VC: Have you written other books before that you pitched to agents or editors? Tell us about your writing journey: how you landed your agent and your first contract.

SO: Yes, I’ve written and rewritten several books. The first was a novella that I never pitched anywhere. It was the prove-to-myself-I-can-do-it book. I sent a query for my second book to Love Inspired and they requested the full. I was stunned, because I’d been forewarned by every writing craft book I’d read to be prepared for rejection.

Well, a very kind rejection letter soon followed. So I scooted over to my local Christian bookstore to scout out other potential publishers. I learned about Write!Canada and made plans to attend and paid to have my newly-rejected ms and a third one critiqued by a couple of published authors. Both thought they were ready for publication, and Linda Hall recommended me to an agent who signed me on.

I continued to write, took The Christian Writer’s Guild Journeyman’s course, discovered a wealth of online resources, joined several writing organizations, and met lots of wonderful authors.

But having an agent just meant I got rejections faster from publishers that I knew the story wasn’t suited to anyway. Then I met fellow Canadian and LI author Carolyne Aarsen. She suggested I part ways with my agent, and simply focus on writing for LI.

Her reasoning made a lot of sense to me and was incredibly freeing, so I followed her advice. Sort of. I couldn’t resist taking advantage of editor appointments at conferences, and probably because one year I was a Genesis finalist, and another I was the Daphne DuMaurier Award of Excellence winner, I always came home with requests. Requests that required me to lengthen the stories and hold off submitting them to LI, which doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions.

In the end, agent Joyce Hart, one of the Daphne final round judges, offered to represent me, and we sold to LI the following year.

VC: In reading Deep Cover, I enjoyed the southern Ontario setting. Was there ever a question about where you might set these novels?

SO: From the beginning, I set the story in the Niagara region. I knew a Canadian setting wasn’t a problem for LI. But the single title publishers who wanted to see the story asked for an American setting so in the longer version (and actually quite different version) the story took place on the south shore of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania. I was glad to bring it back to Canada.

VC: What's next after the undercover cops? Do you have any other projects in the works?

SO: Shades of Truth, the second book in the series, releases in March 2012. I’m currently working on revisions to the third book in the series, tentatively titled Dose of Deception, which will release at the end of 2012. I am also working on a proposal for another romantic suspense. And my editor has given me the green light to rework my Daphne winning manuscript to better suit LI’s requirements. So far, I haven’t found the time...but soon.

VC: How do you think being Canadian has impacted your writing journey? Has it created any special challenges or opened any unique doors?

SO: I was blessed to discover The Word Guild and Write!Canada early in my writing journey. The dedication of TWG’s board to encourage Canadian Christian writers and to bring top name publishers and agents to our annual conference opened a lot of doors for me.

With the tremendous growth in online writing communities, and the move toward electronic submissions, I don’t think the challenges are nearly as great for Canadian writers as they once were. None of the editors I met over the years at conferences had an issue with taking on a Canadian author.

Many, however, were not interested in novels with Canadian settings. I found that disappointing. I know the Canadian market is tiny compared to the US market, but I think American readers would be equally intrigued in learning about unique Canadian regions as I am in learning about unique American regions.

Sandra Orchard hails from Canada where inspiration abounds for her novels set in the fictional Niagara town she's created as their backdrop. Married with three grown children, when not writing, she enjoys hanging out with family, brainstorming new stories with fellow writers, and hiking or kayaking in God's beautiful creation. She’s also an active member of ACFW, several RWA online chapters, and The Word Guild. To connect with Sandra visit her website or her Facebook page.

To celebrate the launch of her undercover cops series and show her appreciation to her supporters, Sandra is giving away a $25 online bookstore gift certificate to a randomly selected fan. To learn more, visit the giveaway page on her blog.

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughter.

She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency and has recently sold her first work, a novella, to Barbour Books. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.


  1. What a neat interview. Interesting premise for the book. There is a fine line one has to walk to be "wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove."

  2. Sincere congratulations, Sandra. I look forward to reading these some day and especially your setting as well as the stories.

  3. Thank you, Judith and Mary...and Valerie for having me. :)

  4. Judith, I loved the premise also. It's very unique.

    Mary, are books like this available to you via Kindle over there in Oz?

    Sandra, it was my pleasure to have you. High fives to a lovely Canadian author!

  5. Valerie, I believe they're available on Amazon worldwide. I was recently interviewed for a German publication. The editor said the books were for sale in English on! But I think Australians have to order from .uk or .com

  6. Sorry, Valerie, I am still trying to learn about Kindle being available here. I have met folk who own one and heard that a major department store (Big W for Aussies) was starting to sell them but not certain that is so yet. As Sandra says they can buy from Amazon worldwide. I know my Justice at Baragula is on the Word Australia website as a "Digital Download" but not there for Kindle. Publisher has told me they are still trying to make it available on Amazon and Kindle.

  7. Valerie & Sandra, thanks for a great interview! I buy the occasional LIS & Sandra, I've added your book to my Book Depository wish list :) Unfortunately we have a wait a few years for LIS books to be released in Aust in Kindle format. And Mary, Big W is now selling Kindles :)

  8. Thank you Narelle. It's sad that Australians should have to wait for LIS releases, hopefully, that will start to change now that Love Inspired is releasing their titles in Kindle format at the same time as paperbacks.