Bits and Pieces: Novel idea born from mind crime

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter



Mel Sanders, aka Sterling

Mel Sanders emerged from a Sifton convenience store and stopped in front of a car that was ripe for the picking. Door open, keys in the ignition, motor running — and no driver in sight.

“I just stood there thinking, wow, if I was a different type of person,” she thought, “I could get in this car and drive away.”

But she’s not that kind of person — she’s a writer. So she stole the car and headed off on what turned into an amazing romantic adventure — in her imagination.

The story turned into a manuscript called “Grand Theft, Auto,” which just won third place in a Harlequin Romance contest called “So You Think You Can Write.” Sanders, who owns Cover to Cover Books, 6300 N.E. St. James Road, Suite 104B, and publishes under her maiden name, Mel Sterling, said romances don’t get much respect but must follow rules as definite and demanding as any genre fiction, such as detective stories or Westerns — which she calls “romances for men.”

“Just because girls read it doesn’t make it bad,” she said of the romance genre.

The third-place win may well be a dream come true for Sanders — because, she said, an editor at Harlequin has requested revisions and wants to see the manuscript again when they’re done.

“The possibility of publication is still out there,” she said. Meanwhile, you can read the existing draft at

Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email