The Double Life I Lead … by Charlene Sands

It’s true that I lead a double life.  And it’s time I confessed.

Most of my readers know me as Charlene Sands, writer of romance in western and contemporary genres.  Yep, that’s me.  I love romance, as many of you know.   And romance has been good to me.  I started my writing career in 1995.  No, that’s not true.  I began writing then, but I wasn’t actually published until 1998, so I guess that’s when my career started.  At the time, I summers_chancewasn’t sure I’d make it as an author. After all, there’s so much competition out there and I live near Hollywood, where everyone is writing a book or screenplay.  But when I sold my first book, Chance in a Million, it was quite a thrill. The next year I sold another and the year after that, I sold another. In 2001 my first western came out from Harlequin, Lily Gets Her Man.


I find myself now a multi-published author of 28 novels. I’ve had some Border’s bestsellers and I’ve won several awards. Today I think of myself as a writer first, but I have another identity (don’t we all?)

For the past 25 years I’ve taught childbirth and baby care classes at a local hospital. I work two nights a week, but it’s not just teaching that keeps me busy. It’s staying abreast of current issues and reading everything I can about new trends in childbirth and parenting. It’s keeping my affiliation up with the American Heart Association to retain my Pediatric CPR instructor status.  Last night, as I found myself on Web M.D., looking up second trimester baby growth (for a book I’m writing, this time) and immunizations for my baby-1students in class, it dawned on me for the umpteenth time that I do have two very separate and unique jobs.  Both take a great deal of time and dedication. 


Most of my pregnant students have no clue what I REALLY do for a living.  If you have children, then you know that when you’re expecting your first baby, you’re in a different zone.  You think, sleep and eat, baby thoughts!  That’s what I’ve found for the most part. And when I teach these classes, I’m solely involved in their efforts, not trying to promote my own.  

I’m with these students for six weeks. I commiserate with them, try to help them with their fears and ebabys-for-blogncourage them in every way I can.  When the class ends, I set up a Cyber Class Reunion.  Back in the day, I used to have everyone come to my house with their babies for a reunion, but it’s hard to do in today’s busy world. Now, we keep in touch with email and I get pictures of their babies right after they are born.  Most times, the whole class participates and the other day I bumped into a graduate of my class with his baby, who told me none of their friends from different classes had kept in touch with their classmates/babies, and they were all jealous about our Cyber Class Reunions.  I can’t go anywhere locally, without seeing a student of mine. If there’s a stroller in sight, I may very well know who’s pushing it! baby2

 It’s a rewarding thing that I do and I can’t seem to stop.  I don’t want to give it up until they toss me out on my rear and/or my daughter has a baby and comes to my classes! (whichever comes first)  But at the same time, it makes my life nuts!

I’m either wearing my author hat or my childbirth instructor hat. When I sold my first book, I couldn’t believe how many people asked me why I’m still teaching class when I was now a successful author.  (Authors out there… are you smiling yet?)  

The time I put into both professions is unreasonable.  I know.  My life could be so much simpler if I just wrote full time.  But you see, writing is a lonely job. It’s just me facing my computer screen everyday.  What a luxury it is to be able to do something equally rewarding with real, live, vital, people – couples who are expecting their first child. And I get to see the result of their labor (pardon the pun) many times firsthand.  Teaching allows me to get my butt off the computer chair twice a week and teach a class that affects so many lives in a positive way. I meet the most interesting people from all walks of life from police officers to film producers to contractors to schoolteachers and my own life is enriched by knowing them.

I found that nothing stays constant in our lives.  I’ve morphed from a childbirth instructor who happened to write, to a published author who happens to teach. Of the two, writing consumes most of my time, but I fully enjoy doing both.

 So, I guess I’ll be leading my double life for a little longer. I would describe myself this way:

Teaching is what I do.

Writing is who I am.

That sums it up nicely.

So how about you?  I know many of you wear different hats.  Are you torn about giving up one thing for the other or can you manage both? What kind of double lives do you lead?  I’ll be giving away a book of your choice to one commenter today, so be sure to share your thoughts.

And any of you living in the L.A area, I’ll be teaching a writing workshop on Sunday, March 15th at the Los Angeles Chapter of RWA.  Contact me for details. I’d love to see you there. The first meeting is free!  charlenesands@hotmail.



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32 thoughts on “The Double Life I Lead … by Charlene Sands”

  1. Wow, you are awesome, Charlene! I knew you did something medically related but I didn’t know what. I still remember my childbirth instructor. What a fulfilling job. Don’t know how you do it all!
    I had a double life for many years, writing and working full time designing educational software lessons for children, and raising teenagers as a single mom in the bargain. Now that I’m retired I write and putter. And it still takes ALL my time!:)

  2. I love hats–and it’s a good thing since I wear so many. Well, maybe I should count a bunch of them as sub-hats…all under the big-brimmed writer’s hat. Hmm, think of the kid’s story “Hats for Sale” and there’s I could be. 🙂
    (Sometimes the monkeys even show up to make life interesting!)

    My other major hat isn’t really a hat, I suppose. Rather a hairnet. 😛 ‘swhat happens when one is a lunch lady. There are some interesting moments on the lunch line so I can definitely relate to touching lives. And to having the fun of seeing ‘my kids’ outside of school!

  3. I recently received my first publishing contract for 3 inspritational historical romances, so I’m excited to be able to officially say that I now have two occupations. My day job is very left-brained. I am a university testing coordinator, giving ACTs, CLEP exams, etc. Writing feeds my right brain, stretching my creativity muscles and giving me an outlit for all those romantic daydreams I’ve carried around since I was a girl. They balance each other out nicely. Of course, I also have a third full-time job as mother to three elementary-age kids, so my time gets eaten up very quickly!

  4. Hi Elizabeth – Designing educational software for children? That’s a pretty rewarding thing to do! And raising chidren as a single mom has got to be the hardest of the three jobs you mentioned! I can’t wait to putter!

  5. Hi Karen – Congratulations on your 3 book contract! That’s awesome and boy, I don’t know how you do it all with THREE small children in the house! When do your books come out?

  6. Hello Charlene,

    Way to go on your two hats. I’m a stay at home housewife. Housewives tend to get a bad rap for not having a career sometimes. I enjoy being the cook, maid, laundress, nurse, gardener and the list goes on and on. I’m never bored and I always have something to do. I also tip my many hats off to the women who have chosen to be out in the work force. You all have a few more hats then me. Have a great day.

  7. Hi Roberta

    Oh, I think you have the hardest job of all! They once showed how much a housewife SHOULD earn if she were being paid for all her duties. And it’s more money than I make! You’ve listed many of them on your comments and I know there’s more.
    Thanks for your comment today!

  8. Hi Charlene, I’m a stay at home Mom but would like to go back to nursing I do miss it.
    I like the hats.

  9. Whow – child birth classes. It has been 28 going on 29 since I attended one of them. I went when I had my oldest but not when I had my youngest. My youngest is 22. I now have an empty nest and it sucks.
    But yes, I still wear multiple hats even after the kids are gone. I am a Royal Ranger Commander at church teaching Kindergarden to 2nd grade boys. The only pay is the rewards when they go to events and the smiles and hugs I receive. I am also busy helping two kids (kids of my youngest daughter’s boyfriend) find meaning to life. Their Mom is up on burglary charges as is their one Grandmother and Uncles. It has been a pleasure to see these two kids grow under the care of my daughter. Of course she only has them half the time.
    I am a Reviewer on the computer now for several authors and any book I read I write reviews on 4 to 5 sites. I love that.
    God Bless

  10. Hi Penney,
    Thanks for the comment today. I think nursing is such a rewarding profession. Maybe someday, you’ll find your way back, but for now, you’re doing what are supposed to be doing. 🙂

  11. Hi Charlene! What an interesting double life you lead! Your teaching job sounds like it really suits you. And I know what you mean about getting out from behind the computer.

    My double life? I just finished graduate studies in screenwriting and am trying to get that career going, as well as novel writing. It’s not easy! They are completely different entities–novels can be focused on internal conflict quite a bit, so we are moved by the characters’ thoughts. Whereas screenwriting is all about images on the screen–external stuff. It’s a real challenge to portray what the character’s internal journey is. I have greatly come to appreciate how talented some actors are in showing internal conflict on screen, without words.

    Great blog, Charlene!

  12. Hi Jane,

    Wow, you have many hats too! And helping with those children is great work. I’m sure they appreciate you now but they will remember you kindly when they get older. How fun to be a reviewer on a lot of sites. A legitimate reason for reading! 🙂

  13. Hi Kate,

    Writing a screenplay and a novel must be as different as playing baseball, then golf. Different swings and all! I’ve always wanted to tackle screenwriting, but oh, that’ll have to be in my next life! And you didn’t mention you are also raising two children! You are one busy lady!
    Thanks for stopping by today!

  14. hi Charlene, You wear both hats so well…and don’t forget the one you wear as critique partner sometimes LOL.

    I wore a teaching-hat for a long time but retired for good when my grandson was born and my hubby retired. Now I guess I’m a homemaker/writer/gramma. Oh and now, MOB (mother of the bride.) I love it all and feel grateful to wear the hats.

    Although my husband loves to cook and does most of it…


    Ps. My foot feels well enough today, I’m seriously considering going to your talk on Sunday. And my DIL has a writer-friend who might join me.

  15. Great post Charlene! I think we all live a double life and don’t realize it most of the time. Women have to hold down a job and also take care of the house and shopping and everything else. We all need to become Super women.

  16. Hi Charlene. What a great double life you have. I work a full time job and do all the duties to keep the home running smoothly.

  17. Hi Tanya,
    Great to hear your footsee is getting better!
    You wear lots of hats too. I’d love to be a gramma one day.. can’t wait. And being MOB is a most fun you’ll have in your entire life .. stressful too, but the bonding with your daughter will be wonderful. 🙂

  18. Wow, both of your hats are impressive! What a interesting double life you lead! My life right now is taking care of my 8 month old nephew and he is a handful now that he can move as fast as he wants. I try to find time to do other things… I need balance! 😀

  19. Hi Charlene!
    I have never been to a childbirth class as an expectant parent, since we adopted our daughter and have never given birth, but when I was younger one of my dear friends had a baby when she was single and she asked me to be her birth coach. I learned a lot from my time attending those classes!

    I think it incredible to hear everyone’s writing experiences and thoughts too. Truly, I would LOVE to write…but you know, I’m just not very good at it. I have no imagination or creativity. Instead I just hang out here and read a lot. I don’t know if I will ever try my hand at writing… I’d like too, maybe…

    I am a stay-at-home Mom right now too, and I suppose in that respect I wear many hats…but, about 8 years ago, I wore a LOT more. I was in the military, was a full time student, an avid Irish Dancer, a teacher in our Sunday School, and worked off-an-on part time for the DisneyStore (before they all started closing). Ahh…those were the days. I kind of miss the stress. =)

  20. Hi Colleen,
    I wish I had an 8 month old to chase around the house – think of all the weight I’d lose. Sounds like fun!

    Hi Stephanie – wow, you sure did wear a lot of hats!! And I’ll share some of my stress with you if you really miss it. 🙂

  21. Thanks for asking, Charlene. My first book with Bethany House won’t come out until summer 2010. I’m still finishing it. Gotta love deadlines. The story is set in Texas in the 1880s, so maybe in about a year and a half I can visit Wildflower Junction again as a guest and give away my own book.

    I’ve attended conferences with Mary Connealy and enjoy her filly spunk. It’s been fun getting to know the rest of you fillies as well through your posts. Have a great Friday the 13th!

  22. I remember those childbirth classes even though I took them over twenty years ago. They definitely helped prepare me. I have to agree that many women juggle the demands of work, home and family and it can be a lot of work.

  23. I wish I had you for my childbirth classes. I ended up with a group put on through our hospital (a noted women’s hospital). I think we got someone that was very new and it was a huge class – very disappointing. Such is life.

    I worked for over 15 years in the secretarial field which really wasn’t what I wanted to do but then I quit and raised two daughters which I loved doing. I help feral/stray cats which seems to be a favorite “hat”. I would have enjoyed doing something with art but never pursued it but it just so happens one of my daughters is 🙂

  24. It is wonderful you love both of your “hats”. I have two business hats — I am an attorney with a solo office and I own a real estate title company. They compliment each other. Then I have to balance time with a retired husband and my LOVE of reading!! I have been trying to train my daughter in the title company so I can retire and go off RVing with my DH. Then I might dabble at writing – or at least get all my story ideas outlined and try to find someone who could use them if I can’t!
    I’m glad you kept writing as your books are enjoyable. Thanks!

  25. I remember taking those classes with my first daughter. As a woman we wear many hats. And multi-task is a necessity as a mother.

    Thanks for sharing.

  26. Hi Lizzie,
    Your post made me smile!!

    Hi again Karen -Thanks for sharing your news about your book! Though summer 2010 sounds like a long way off, it really isn’t. You’ll have much to do to get ready for the release!!

  27. Jeanne – I’m a big cat lover – that is lover of cats, both domestic and not! We tried to catch a stray that we’d been feeding. I wanted so badly to take care of it – just a kitten when it came around but he was too wild. And smart. We never got him and I worried for weeks if he was starving. I’ve love to hear more about what you do!

  28. Sorry to all for the jag of time here. I had to get my hair cut and styled. It needed it very badly!

    Martha – You are a busy lady!! Owning two companies has got to keep your wheels turning. It’s so nice to hear that you like my stories.

    Hi Abi and Maureen- thanks for your posts today!

  29. I have been a “stay-at-home” for most of my married/
    parent life. For 25 of those years, I also was an
    active volunteer in the schools my children went to. From elementary to middle school to high school to the district level, I was there. ( Honey
    called me a ‘professional volunteer!) Additionally,
    I am a 33-year volunteer in our parish church.

    Pat Cochran

  30. Another professional volunteer. Did a little in high school and college (there weren’t the opportunities then that there are now.) Joined the Peace Corps and served 3 years. Became an Air force wife and at one time was putting in 40 to 45 hour weeks. Did the Girl and Boy Scout thing, 4-H, and school volunteer for all three of our children. Now I work in a small county library. Nationally a notoriously poorly paid position. But I love it and still end up “volunteering” a lot of hours each week.

  31. I’m so sorry I missed this post, but glad I’m here today to read it.

    I too, wear different hats – my “profession” at this time is Licensed Insurance Sales Producer, before that Full Charge Bookkeeper & Tax Preparer.

    These jobs pay the bills since hubby is disabled with $very little income,but writing is my heart & soul.

    Wonderful post as usual.


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