How did you develop the idea for this book?

The Death Collector is a play on debt collector. I took a fourteen-year parenthesis from writing to get “a real job.” I worked in debt collections during that time, and being a lover of murder mysteries, I told my co-workers I intended to write a book called The Death Collector. The setting in a retirement village came out of the fact that the elderly are so often the target of evil perpetrators.

What did you enjoy the most about the writing process?

I loved seeing how the simple mention of an item or a fact early in the story turned out to be a clue without my having planned it. Romance is not my forte—my poor husband—but give me something that challenges my mind and I become like Ada in my stories. I won’t let it go until the truth is known and justice is done.

What did you struggle with the most during the writing process?

I struggled against the voice that kept asking, Why are you doing this? What difference will this story make to anyone who reads it? Dorothy L. Sayers is noted to have said, “If we do not bring our readers to the bar of eternity, we have merely constructed an entertaining puzzle.” If Ada’s faith can show—not tell—a reader that God is actively involved in the life of His children, perhaps the story will ignite a spiritual journey that will lead that reader to Christ. That is why I keep writing, despite the struggle.

What tips can you give authors about working with freelance editors?

The money is not spent, it is invested. Your MS will be greatly improved, and you will learn from the editor’s comments. When Susan Page Davis edited The Death Collector, I didn’t always appreciate when she didn’t want me to use certain words because they could be offensive. But having read a few Christian novels since and having found words that made me stop reading, I thank God for Susan’s insight. My tip—let the editor do what they are being paid to do.

What does winning the Editors’ Choice Award mean to you?

 I grew up with a poor self-image and the need for my work to be affirmed. I don’t feel that need from others as much now—after decades of growing in Christ—but I do rejoice when my Father affirms my work. To me, the ECA is a treasured affirmation that He is in this with me.

Sandra is the author of Sackets Harbor Mysteries. Book Two in the series, The Death Collector, won the Editors’ Choice Award, 1st place in fiction at Carolina Christian Writers Conference 2021, and Scrivenings Press GetPubbed 2021 grand prize. She attributes her love for mystery and her suspicious nature on the influence of Agatha Christie.

Growing up on a dairy farm taught Sandra early how to milk cows, drive a tractor, and bale hay. But it also cultivated an appreciation for a summer’s walk through a field of clover, an autumn’s trek through a woodlot, and a spring’s rest on a creek bank. Any of which she may allow her favorite characters to do in their quest to solve a mystery.

Sandra is a devotional writer for David C. Cook, a director of women’s ministries, speaker, and Bible teacher.

Learn more about Sandra at

Want to Learn More?

You can learn more about the Editors’ Choice Award in our recent blog post, Getting to Know the CEA’s Editors’ Choice Award. We’re currently accepting entries and recruiting judges for next year’s contest. You can learn more about submission guidelines and how to become a judge at Editors’ Choice Award | Christian Editors Association. Stay tuned to learn about our other winners in future posts.