Um, no. Sandra Stixrude is my given name. Really. I couldn't make that one up. It's a Norwegian name with an 'e' added on the end, but that's another story. Those of you who've seen me know that I look typically Norwegian anyway - tall, blonde, blue-eyed...stop laughing!
Fine. So I'm short and not blonde (though you can't tell anymore since the hair is white - ha!) but Sandra is still me and writes the all-ages, non-romance Science Fiction. I keep the two names separate because you could safely give the Anchorage novels to your 10 year old to read, and read along with them, while the Angel Martinez books are decidedly not for minors.
Anyway...I started the first Anchorage novel fifteen years ago (dear gods, has it really been that long?) and have spent a good few years getting them published in a happy place. One publisher closed before it was even released. Two subsequent publishers turned out to be bad ponies. Best not to linger.
My lovely colleagues at Mischief Corner Books have urged me to republish there - and so I have. The new cover was a bit of a puzzle. I've had a couple of covers before that worked - but always envied SF writers who could actually have illustrations done for their works. The beautiful renderings of ateva for C.J.Cherryh novels. The marvelous dragons for the Pern novels. Oh, to have an artist understand the story...
I saw Catherine's Dair's work first through Facebook. She was working on a special project for Josh Lanyon and had just changed her profile pic to the cutest little dragon in an eye-catching scarlet. Her Tumblr page had more fun stuff - she draws mythical critters! My heart rejoiced and I sent an inquiry. Do you take commissions? And so on. It turned out that Yes! she had time in her schedule for me and yes, it was more than a photo-manip cover would have been but it was a fair price. And yes! She wanted to read the work first! (Oh, joy of joys!)
The result, above, is positively stunning. Catherine understood the characters and so was able to capture their essences in portrait. She asked and asked and asked again about harduks and how I envisioned them and - behold! The word's first accurate harduk drawing (isn't Windflower beautiful?)
Marya: Anchorage 1
releasing 3/8/14 from Mischief Corner Books
by Sandra C. Stixrude
cover art by Catherine Dair
Traveling has always frightened Marya, but when the Ktar chooses her to protect the heir on his confirmation journey, she fights panic. A prophecy concerning the heir's death, ominous dreams of a mysterious city, and news that one of the heir's companions will betray him all point to disaster.
Unfortunately, the discovery of the assassin's identity is only the beginning. His menace pales in comparison to the ancient evil lurking in the mountains. When Marya is trapped and the men with her enslaved, she is faced with two choices: surrender to the alien being who offers her power, or ally with the handsome assassin she sought to thwart. One way she loses her soul, the other she may lose her heart.