Regular readers will know about my upcoming book, The Soul Cave: It’s Never Too Late to Find Your Power. It’s my first major excursion into print, although I’ve talked about writing one for long enough, and it’s scheduled for publication soon, under the pen name of Sandra Francis. More about that later. I’m about to get my first book published at the age of ‘only’ 70 years, 11 months, and there are at least another two books in my head. I might be a late starter, but once I get going, there’s no stopping me!
I first started writing the manuscript and approached my publisher back in January 2022. Local Legend is a spiritual titles imprint run by Nigel Peace, and my friend and spiritual mentor Alison Wynne-Ryder is published with them. And the day I started writing I saw a Facebook advert for the company, which I took as a sign. I felt it would be good to go with a specialist mind, body spirit publisher, and I was right. I’ve had so much help, guidance and encouragement from Nigel along the way, for which I am eternally grateful.
Writing a spiritual book is very different to publishing spiritual articles; stuff that works well in a short piece can be off putting in a book, and you need to keep it brief and to the point while at the same time beefing up the information to give the reader value for money and food for thought. An article is a taster for a topic or topics, designed to pique the reader’s interest and point them in the direction of further information. A book, however, needs to be much more satisfying, and justify its place on the bookshelf. You want the reader to feel their life is a little richer for reading it, and, more importantly, that they find something comforting, inspiring or thought provoking in its pages. If they experience all three, so much the better!
The finished book is very different from the original manuscript, and I’m glad about that, even though it made a lot more work for myself and the ever-patient Nigel. While I wanted to tell my back story in the hope of helping others navigate their own challenges and traumas, I needed help to recount it in a way that was interesting, insightful and uplifting to strike a chord and encourage people to read it and act on some of the points I raised. To paraphrase comedian Frank Carson, ‘The way you tell ’em’ is just as important with books as with jokes!
I’m pretty well known – some may say too well known! – as Sandra Piddock, so why would I choose to go with a pen name, if I’m proud of my work? And at the risk of blowing my own trumpet a bit, I am very proud of it.
There are two main reasons, the most important being that I was guided to use a pen name. I had every intention of publishing under my married name, which is what I use for everything, but as I was reading through my publishing contract before signing it, there was a bit that asked for a pen name, if using. As I read that, I felt my father’s presence around me, and I knew he was telling me to do that. He was baptised Francis James, and my birth surname was Raybould, so I felt it had to be one of those.
I was very close to my father, and although he passed to spirit when I was just 16, I’ve felt him around me ever since, and particularly since I began to develop my psychic gifts. I feel he’s my guide and gatekeeper, because he shows up a lot at the important times in my life, and I often feel his comfort and protection around me. When you read the book, you’ll find he figures in it quite a lot. I don’t believe in going back in anything, so I wasn’t about to revert to my birth name, and he was always know by his given name, although it was usually shortened to Frank. I don’t do shortened versions, because at just 5′ 1″ tall I’m a shortened version myself, so Sandra Francis it is!
The second reason for the pen name is to step back from the story that unfolds in the book. Yes it’s me, and yes it’s all true, though names and details have been changed in the interests of privacy for others. However, one of the main lessons I’ve learned on my spiritual journey is that you can’t move forward until you let go of the past, and accept that what happened was necessary to learn and grow, and not just cruel twists of fate, or a case of the universe having it in for you. You also need to forgive others, and yourself, in order to move forward with love in your heart, because while you hold on to the hurt, you are stuck in the past, and you can’t take joy in the present moment. And really, now is all that matters, isn’t it?
So Sandra Piddock went through stuff, got through stuff and lived to tell the tale. And she has learned from the good experiences and the bad, and is grateful for the lessons learned. However, she’s also learned that re-telling trauma can bring it back, along with all the pain of the original situations, so now Sandra Francis is taking forward the stories and the lessons learned, although it will be Sandra Piddock’s name on the royalty statements!
Whatever I call myself, I am still the same Sandra you know and – hopefully – love, so nothing’s really changed. Beneath it all, I’m still me, living my best life, learning as I go, and helping others on their journey whenever I can. Long may that continue. Love and blessings.