This article about Sandra Kitt was written by Leah Mullen, originally appeared on Writers and Poets.com © 2001,
If you're an aspiring writer but think you don't have the time to pen that future Pulitzer Prize winner that's been living in your head for the last few years, well think again. In addition to a full-time job, professional organizations and an active social life, best-selling author Sandra Kitt has managed to write over 20 books. Her titles including Suddenly, Close Encounters and Family Affairs have earned a significant amount of praise within the publishing industry.
Significant Others, published in 1996 with Signet, was named by Amazon.com as one of the 25 top romances of the last century. The novel is about the 'color complex' within the black community.
In a recent interview with writersandpoets.com Sandra shared with us her secret to keeping so many stokes in the fire without getting burned!
Sandra's literary career began in 1981 when she came up with an idea for a story and wrote it down. Up to that point the Harlem native's educational background was in fine arts and her professional career centered around libraries. So at first she wrote for her own amusement then two manuscripts later she was reading an article in the New York Times about an editor who was opening a new office in New York and she was looking for writers.
SHE'S THE ONE
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Signet Books - 2001
"Heart of the Matter" Girlfriends
Adam and Eva
"Homecoming" - SISTERS
"Celebration" Merry Christmas, Baby
"Sweet Dreams" FOR THE LOVE OF CHOCOLATE
Someone's Baby (Baby Beat/By Request)
The Color Of Love
"Love Is Thanks Enough" FRIENDS, FAMILIES, LOVERS
The Way Home
An Innocent Man
With Open Arms
Only With The Heart
All Good Things
Adam and Eva
Rites Of Spring
'So I called information, got the number and called her up,' Sandra said reminiscing. 'I knew zero about publishing at that point.' But as it turned out it was her lucky day. Most editors won't talk to writers over the phone. They'd rather receive a book proposal through the mail. However, the editor was so charmed by Sandra's naivet' she invited her in for a meeting and ended up buying the book.
Sandra sold the first 11 books in a similar manner, writing them first and then shopping them around without an agent. This was in the 1980's when there weren't many novels featuring Black characters and her books were well received. Helped along by favorable reviews and a steady following of readers, as time passed the manuscripts began to get easier and easier to sell to publishing houses who were eager to sign her up.
Today Sandra writes under the pressure of contractual deadlines, which she must meet by working around her full time job as manager of the research library in astronomy and astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. But that's not all Sandra has on her plate, meetings and social events keep her out all day sometimes until late in the evening. So how does she do it all?
'A typical day begins either at 6:30 or 7 am or 4 or 5 am if I decide to do some writing,' she said. 'I've also been known to get up in the middle of the night, work for one or two hours and then go back to sleep.'
Writing a book is more than sitting at a computer typing, the process also involves a heavy amount of research to make the characters and story line real. Close Encounters involved a woman getting shot. Since Sandra knew little about describing such an incident, she went to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan and talked to doctors about gun shot wounds and what happens to a human body when it is impacted with a bullet. She's the One featured a fireman. To make the events in the story true to life, Sandra visited a fire station. She walked around asking about different pieces of equipment and talked to the fireman about their work.
All of this takes time. 'I have to be disciplined. If I have a deadline I might have to postpone something else,' she said. Fortunately considering her schedule, Sandra is a fast writer with the ability to crank out 10,000 words in one setting. It can take her under six months to compose an entire manuscript.
Also Sandra's got something that only comes with time, and that's experience. Drawing strictly from intuition, the first 15 or so books came straight from her head. Now her process has evolved and she uses an outline to manage her thoughts.
Each book gets more detailed,' she said. 'Now I write a synopsis that acts as a guidepost or map to guide me.
In terms of building the story, Sandra says the ending is known to her, but she's not always sure how the characters will get there.
Writing, of course, for the most part is a solitary activity. Once the manuscript is complete the next step involves an editor. There are several things that Sandra looks for from her editor. First of all the editor needs to like the book and understand what Sandra is trying to convey with the story. To do that the editor reads the manuscript as a whole trying to identify any lapses in continuity and to make sure the story 'hangs together' as Sandra puts it. Meaning that by the ending, the story has resolved all of the 'problems' or issues that a character encounters.
Sandra does not discount the role the editor plays in making her books better. 'I need the editor to be objective,' she said. 'I'm too close to the project.
When you're writing you're not always thinking in terms of continuity, motivation, arching a character or peaking and building tension,' she said. But that's okay because Sandra's best advice to other writers is that they should create from their intuition and not worry about the audience or the editor.
Just write it, the way you feel from your heart,' she said.
In her own work, Sandra explores the complexities of human interactions and the whole relationship dynamic, not just with men and women, but between people in general.
Family Affairs is a semi-autobiographical portrait of two families, one African American and one white, and how their lives become intertwined.
Girlfriends, an anthology featuring three stories about friendship written Sandra Kitt, Anita Bunkley and Eva Rutland was nominated for an NAACP Image Award in fiction for 1999.
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Mass Market Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harlequin Kimani (July 1, 2007)
Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 4.1 x 0.9 inches
Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
Savannah Shelton knows the City of Angels breaks hearts more often than it fulfills dreams. Her late father spent fruitless years trying to make it big as an actor. Among his possessions, Savannah finds papers that hint at an old Hollywood secret that she’s positive would make a red-hot screenplay. But when a fender bender introduces her to MCCOY SUTTON, a charming, sexy attorney, Savannah wonders if it ’s time to put aside her jaded ideas about L.A . and figure out if real life can have a Hollywood ending.
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Perfect Paperback: 250 pages
Publisher: Parker Publishing Llc (October 15, 2009)
Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
Actress Ruth Gordon married her husband, Garson Kanin who was also
fifteen years younger, of 43 years in 1946. As the ultimate cougar, her love
story inspired this anthology of older women and younger men.
How To Handle A Woman by Sandra Kitt
Geneva Springer is the prize at a charity auction. When a sexy man significantly younger wins her she doesn't realize that the ultimate goal is her heart.
Stormy Weather by Laura Castoro
In the aftermath of a devastating accident, Beverly Freeman can only remember the warm smile and honey colored eyes of her youthful rescuer, Will Soloman a decorated Iraq ver and fireman. But with a thirty-something gap between their ages, can this December-May romance overcome the obstacles of age and find true happiness/
Against Her Better Judgment by Evelyn Palfrey
Judge Beverly Polk scoffs at the news that a prisoner has put a contract out on her. Private Investigator, Devon Carter, claims to be hired by an anonymous client to protect her. Judge Polk resents and resists his protection, even as he infiltrates her home, her life, and even her heart.
a Little Faith
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Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Pocket (June 6, 2006)
Faith, family, and forgiveness are at the heart of this powerful
story collection from four bestselling African-American authors. Meet a
group of unforgettable women in these tales of hope and inspiration and
discover how doors can open if you just
ReShonda Tate Billingsley: Faith Will Overcome
Determined to leave her small town and broken family behind, Faith Logan believes finding a man is the solution to all her problems. But a chance meeting with Darius Williams helps her realize that all she needs is faith to find true happiness.
Jacquelin Thomas: Signs of Light
Businesswoman Lorna Hamilton has always looked down on unemployed single mothers, but she learns a valuable lesson when she befriends devout single mom Brittany Spencer and finds the family she's been praying for.
J. D. Mason: Maybelline
Olivia Phillips's world is falling apart, and the last thing she needs is her elderly neighbor knocking on her door. But kindly Maybelline won't take no for an answer, and an uplifting friendship takes hold thanks to a little persistence and some homemade pie.
Sandra Kitt: Survival Instincts
Even after an attempted mugging, librarian Lynn Hayes is devoted to her work in the bad part of town. Her rescuer, reporter Davis Manning, isn't so forgiving, and it's up to Lynn to show him that it is possible to save a community, one person at a time.
Date Published: November 1996
Format: Mass Market Paperbound
No one drives you crazier - or understands you better, than a sister. In this wonderful collection, three tales beautifully portray African-American women bound by family loyalty, and torn by the conflicts of romance.
Anita Richmond Bunkley's sisters have lost the men they love and need to find themselves again.
Sandra Kitt's sisters are divided by the stardom one achieves - and their desire for the same lover.
Eva Rutland's sisters demonstrate that a younger sister may sometimes know better...when it comes to her older sister and true love.
Each of these stories shimmers with powerful emotions, and shows how deep the connections between sisters is - a connection that comes from the heart.
Dr. Tyson with author Sandra Kitt
Read an indepth interview with Dr. Tyson and author Sandra Kitt exclusively for AALBC.com
Kitt is represented by Lisa Vance of the Aaron Priest Agency in New York: (212) 818-0344.
P.O. Box 403
New York, NY 10024-0403