How I Met My Mentor

Still ticking off items from my 'To Do' list. Yesterday included sending off a bio and pic to the eHarlequin team to be posted on the author index at Since authors are listed alphabetically, I'll be just a couple of names down from my mentor, the gracious and dynamic Sandra Chastain. I got a real kick out of that. The story of how I met Sandra and what prompted her to take me under her wing is a fun one. I actually blogged about it once, but that was way back in 2004 (Have I really been blogging for 3 years?!). I tracked down the post at my old Bravenet blog. It was in fact a very long post about my first RT Convention. But here's the snippet telling how I met my mentor. Teaser: It involves a hunky guy and a stage. *g*

* * *
Romantic Times Booklovers Convention 1994
... At breakfast one morning, the woman sitting next to me said, "Excuse me for staring, but you look like the heroine featured on the cover of my latest book." I was stunned, and flattered. She introduced herself as Sandra Chastain (published author of more than thirty books). She said that she'd had a historical costume made and needed a woman to represent her heroine in the Costume Competition (another RT production show). I politely declined. Even though I have a background in entertainment, I'm by no means a 'model'. She then added, "You'd be escorted by Steve Sandalis." (Known at that time as The Topaz Man, the number one model for NAL)
Okay. So maybe I could handle this model thing after all. The Costume Competition involved several rehearsals. There were something like 20 women competing. I felt uncomfortable just being paraded around, so asked Steve if we could do something that involved a bit of acting. He was game. Come showtime, I was ultra-nervous, but as soon as I hit the stage the professional entertainer in me took over. I ran across the stage and jumped into Steve's arms. He caught me, boosting me even higher. I looked down at him. He looked up at me. The crowd went wild. Hams at heart, Steve and I milked it for all it was worth. He eased up and let me slide, slowly, down his body. The lower I slid, the louder the audience cheered. When my feet touched the ground, I kept going... until I was on my knees, my arm stretched up, hand on his chest, my head level with his...oops! The crowd's response was deafening. Steve and I laughed. What a rush. That ended up being the first of several times I appeared in the Costume Competition representing one of Sandra's heroines. It was also the beginning of my friendship with Connie Perry, producer of that show.

I'll end with the kicker of this whole awesome experience. Sandra (Chastain) asked me to send her the first three chapters of my manuscript. She said she had a 'feeling about me.' In the workshops, one of the things they told us, was to never 'ask' a published author to critique your work as they are very busy people, but if one of them offers, jump on the opportunity. Flattered and eager to garner some expert advice, I jumped. Turns out, Sandra became my mentor. She critiqued my work and guided me through my entire first manuscript. She gave me the courage to follow through with my dream of being a published author. I am where I am today, because of this woman's generosity.
So ends my first adventure at an RT convention. It was only the beginning!


Charlene Teglia said…
I remember when you originally posted this. How funny to think I've been reading your blog since 2004!
FeyRhi said…
It's amazing how much a kind offer can insipire a person to actually believe that they can work towards a dream instead of just dreaming about it. *G*
Beth Ciotta said…
Wow, Charlene. You probably know about me now than my mom. :)

Hugs, FeyRhi. :)
ElsieHogarth said…
Wow! I can't believe it either that I have been reading your blog since 2004. You, "Stalker-Sister Dear" and I met at RT-New York. Where I finally met, in person, "My" John DeSalvo. My godson No.#8.

Oh, but Steve Sandalis-Mr. Topaz, he is yummy. My favortie cover of his is Heather Cullman's-Yesterday's Roses not only for the cover because when I read the book I only imagine and picture him as the hero. Oh, dear it's getting warm in here. I'm definitely pulling that book out tonight.

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