About Sandy

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Born a Booklover:

I was born in Columbus, Ohio, into a family of talkers, storytellers, and readers. In those long ago days there were fewer books for kids. Even so, I learned to read early and I devoured every bit of print I could find: cereal boxes, newspapers, comic books, even the little joke wrappers on bubble gum pieces. My public library was far away, but I loaded up whenever I could get there. I read any books I could get my hands on, over and over again. I still have a few of my earliest family books, and I treasure them.

Although I grew up in a storytelling family of readers, I never thought about being a writer. At school visits I tell young folks how lucky they are to learn and be supported in authentic writing activities in school. My classroom lessons in writing meant letter writing or other assignments to practice proper forms and structures. Apart from that it was grammar lessons, diagramming sentences, and filling in bubbles or blanks. When a rare creative piece was allowed, I enjoyed working with my own ideas, but still never imagined myself writing books. The authors I knew were mostly old dead men. I just never saw myself as a storytelling-kind of writer. Eventually, though, a series of teachers pointed out that… I am!

Ever since I became a teacher, I wrote with and for my students, from emerging writers up to middle grades. The more they learned, the more I learned right with them. During those years, I had short pieces published in magazines. I kept writing and submitting and trying to learn all that I could.

I know now that my most important writing foundation as a child was being a voracious reader. It still is.

Still interested? Read on!

WHY Do I Write?

My brain processes words and events very rapidly. If I were a kid today I’d probably be labeled “hyper”, ADHD, or OCD. I learned to compensate well enough to succeed in the world, although I suspect I’ve often annoyed people without being aware of it by interrupting, switching subjects, and over-talking them.

Writing SLOWS ME DOWN, in the best possible way. It allows my mind to work through ideas, to explore my thinking and intentions carefully, to save my words and return to them. That’s when I can rethink and revise, the very best part of writing.  That happens when I’m writing a blog post, a business letter, a poem, or a novel. Writing puts me in touch with my thoughts, allowing me to say what I really want or need to share in the most effective ways.

That’s why I write.

I’m always an educator at heart, and I miss working with students every day. Writing also allows me to “be with kids” on the page, to share stories and ideas with them, even when we’re not in the same room. I love interacting with readers, hearing from them about my books, about  whatever they are reading or writing.

For press and promo releases:

Sandy Brehl is a retired elementary educator and active member of SCBWI. She enjoys gardening, art, travel, and volunteering, After a lifetime in Wisconsin, she now lives in central Ohio and hopes you’ll visit her website to learn more about her books for middle grades and elementary. You can also find her latest thoughts and doings on her blog, AN OPEN BOOK. She posts reviews and commentary about picture books at Unpacking the POWER of Picture Books and Goodreads.

Follow her on Twitter @SandyBrehl and @PBWorkshop, and on Facebook.

Book reviews, sales links, and teaching resources are available on her website.

Click here to download a high-res version of her headshot.

Advice about
writing:

If you want to write, first read as much as possible, especially the types of things you want to write. Try writing “take-offs” on your favorites: write an alternate ending, tell the same story from another character’s point of view, or add another chapter or a prequel. Write often, write widely, and write what you enjoy reading. In time, you’ll develop better techniques, but you’ll also find your voice and have the confidence to explore your own path.

It’s very helpful to find others who love to write. When you share your work with other writers, they can offer encouragement, share suggestions, and point out concerns or confusions in your writing. They will lead you to improve. If you read and comment thoughtfully on their work, it will help you improve our own writing, too.

One of the things I enjoy most about writing, once I’ve done everything I can to make it the best I possibly can, is sharing it with others and watching their faces while they read.  The looks on their faces let me know if I was able to create magic- to build ideas in my own mind, turn those ideas into a series of squiggles on paper, and then watch my ideas climb into someone else’s mind.

It’s pure MAGIC.

Does everything I write turn into a book?
Absolutely not.
Not all of it should.

Actually, one of my favorite things is failing at writing in some way, but having a reader take the time and effort to discuss it with me, to point out ways they were confused or where they lost interest. These are things I can take back to rework the story and make it stronger, more interesting, more magical.

Even though there really are no “Magic Words”, connecting with my readers feels like pure magic.

What do I enjoy
reading?

I share lots of favorite authors and titles in my posts under the tab AN OPEN BOOK. I enjoy every kind of book for every age, fiction and non-fiction, but I have many favorites in each of those categories. Of course my favorites change over time. In the category of historical fiction for young readers, I must include among my many favorites: Lois Lowry, Laurie Halse Anderson, Shana Corey, Mildred D. Taylor, Kirby Larson, Kathleen Krull, Helen Frost, Caroline Starr Rose, and Christopher Paul Curtis.

That only scratches the surface. I have favorites among contemporary novels, nonfiction, poetry, humor, picture books, and… you get the idea. I’ll be sharing comments and reviews about historical and other books on the blog tab, AN OPEN BOOK. I also invite you to follow me on Goodreads, where I’ve listed and reviewed thousands of books.

Thanks for trying to learn more “ABOUT” me, and I hope you’ll help me learn more “ABOUT” you, too, by commenting on my posts and contacting me to ask questions and connect.