Meet Debra S. Sanders. Bestselling author, Debra Sanders, thanks her parents for her love of adventure and travel, along with the creative spirit her family’s road trips instilled in her. Her passion for exploration and crafting stories began in her early school years and increases each day.
“I enjoy the process of storytelling,” she said. “As a child, I was an avid fan of the television series, Bonanza. Instead of counting sheep at bedtime, I mentally developed new screenplays. Each night I would add scenes until they became a complete show. After a few weeks, I’d have a complete story and start another.”
Debra encountered a few twists, bumps, and detours on her chosen career path. “My dream of becoming a published author manifested from a love of reading Harlequin Presents Romance. I was hooked. My first novel was painstakingly written on a typewriter at the age of nineteen. I mailed it to Harlequin in a manila envelope. It was returned weeks later with a handwritten note from an editor who stated they were interested but asked me to complete a list of edits. The note ended with a request to resubmit,” she explained. “I was young and had so little knowledge about the publishing industry, I didn’t fully understand the opportunity their offer to resubmit presented. The encouragement from my mother fell on deaf ears when the young man I planned to marry ridiculed my efforts to be published,” she continued. “I threw the manuscript into a burning fireplace and didn’t write creatively for twenty-five years. Needless to say, that marriage did not last.”
“I finally achieved my dream in 2011, with a romantic suspense novel, Stone Cold Justice. At that time, many authors and publishers did not consider independently published books and eBooks a ‘legitimate’ venture. I received an offer from a small press but decided to take a leap of faith at Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and publish my own book. Stone Cold Justice became an Amazon bestseller. Amazon bought the German rights and published my novel under their house imprint, Amazon Crossing. It was translated and released in Germany to surprisingly good sales. After independently publishing two additional romantic suspense titles, I wrote a sexy urban fantasy, The Gatekeeper. Then, Romantic Times Magazine published its review of The Gatekeeper, awarding it a ‘Four-Star’ read. My dream had become a reality and I was on Cloud 9.”
Debra’s life changed once more when her beloved grandson was born. “My daughter gave birth to a special needs son, and my husband Terry and I relocated to North Carolina to offer assistance. Career goals shifted to the back burner during those uncertain times. A few years later as our grandson’s health improved, we felt comfortable leaving. We bought a small vintage trailer, sold most of our belongings, and set off on a four-year road trip. It was a glorious adventure!”
Their travels inspired Debra to write again. “I researched local lore and myth at every stop, eventually combining those tales into a print book, Road Tales—Myth, Lore, and Curiosities from America’s Backroads.”
“Eventually, we settled in southern Arizona and embraced retirement. I penned the first two books in the Cozy Psychic series, Dead Men Don’t Talk and Dead Men Can’t Dance. Both novels were well received, and I was ecstatic to be back in the writer’s seat.”
Once again “life” shifted Debra’s priorities. “FEMA recruited me as a disaster inspector, a field in which I was experienced. COVID impacted the workforce and they were anxious to hire inspectors willing to travel. Mother Nature did not recognize the pandemic as a reason to refrain from lashing the coastal regions with hurricanes, or the inland areas with wildfires and floods. People were desperate for assistance and I have a very strong immune system, so I accepted the challenge. I was deployed more than I was home, and my brutal work schedule did not allow for writing.”
Once the pandemic seemed to subside, the enthusiastic author returned to her first love and began writing once more. “The third time’s the charm, right?” she said. “I’ve retired again and look forward to resurrecting my former career as an author. The Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter has been my salvation.”
Debra leads the widely praised Published Authors Group of the Sisters in Crime Grand Canyon Writers chapter’s groundbreaking Mysteries & More Marketing Network, working with the Network’s founder Nicolette Lemmon.
Debra’s talents don’t stop there. She presents highly acclaimed seminars and workshops for writers, with enthusiastic audiences that circle the globe, in addition to devoting time to other ventures. “I contribute a column to a quarterly author’s newsletter, write multi-genre short stories for my newsletter subscribers, and assist with graphic and website design for several local entities. I’m also developing a writing mentorship program that I hope to launch in 2024.”
“Last year, I updated my knowledge of industry trends via webinars and conferences and revised my brand. The third book in my cozy series, Dead Men Never Sleep will debut this month (March 29th ). Then, a mid-summer launch is planned for a dark thriller novella, Pick Your Poison, which pits a determined cop against a murderer with a penchant for poison. I’m currently working on an untitled suspense thriller set in the aftermath of a natural disaster and hope to release it in December 2023 as part of a holiday marketing campaign. To jump start 2024, I’ve outlined a psychological thriller tentatively titled, The End of Infinity followed by a disturbing tale of a dysfunctional Appalachian family in Dark Mountain. I’m hoping there’s at least one bestseller in my project portfolio.”
Writing is an essential part of Debra’s life, surpassed only by her love of family and adventure. “On a good day, you’ll find me in southern Arizona where I thrive under the sun’s warmth, embrace the Old West, and embark on solitary hikes with camera in hand. The Sonoran Desert serves as my muse, nurturing bits of imagination until they take form as an outline, a first draft, and eventually a publishable manuscript.”
“When I’m not writing, I enjoy tent camping—often solo—hiking, photography, dark sky gazing, and acrylic painting.” Debra volunteers at a local Photography Club where she teaches mat cutting to members. She also assists other organizations with graphic and website designs and helps senior citizens “…navigate the world wide web…and their email.”
The high-energy volunteer enjoys music when relaxing at home. “I’ve been known to headbang to ’70s rock or line dance to a country tune while enjoying a glass of wine in our courtyard—during which Terry and our two rescue dogs, Bear and Millie, slip inside and quietly close the door,” she said, on a laugh. “Thankfully, they leave the wine behind.”