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Category Archives: Writing

Talking books and such

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Here’s the deal. I write stories. Sometimes. When there’s a free moment between being a waitress for my kids and folding laundry and watching OC marathons on the Pop channel. I do it because I love it. And I’ve done it for a really long time. When I was a young thing, I’d read the latest Babysitter Club book and then sit down and immediately write my own sequel. (Sorry, Ann M. Martin. That’s what fan fiction looked like in the 80s.)  My best friend and I started writing our own series together in the sixth grade, called The Hawaii Twins. When we studied WWII in high school, I wrote a novel about swing kids who were trying to escape the Nazis. I love stories. Movies. Theater. Music. Anything that tells a good story.

During great times in my life, I’d write. During difficult times in my life, I’d write. I went off to college and in my Liberty University dorm room (which was in no way as cool as the dorm rooms are now), when Leah, then Courtney, then Laurie (year after year of roommates) would take off to class or to hang out with friends, I’d turn on Caedmon’s Call (or Matchbox Twenty or Dave Matthews or Rich Mullins or Christmas music or whatever) and I’d write.

But even before those fun college days . . . a story came to me. I spent a year at a school in Longview a very long time ago. It was a difficult year for me, to be honest. But it’s where I met Amber. And Joy. And Krisha. And Lois. And Micah. And Charisa. And Mary Jane. And Karissa. And Wes. And Paul. And Erika and Efrain. And Leticia. And Dairisha and Blanca and Melissa and Rachel and Sharon and Tim and Miss Michelle and SO many more awesome people. And in that tiny little dorm room that I shared with FIVE other girls, I started writing a story about seven friends. Seven twenty-somethings who are in and out of each other’s lives. Who love each other like family.

Over the years I’ve written and rewritten that story. Reinvented certain characters. I’d go back to it when I had the urge. The story, the characters had been there for me when I’d needed an outlet, when I’d needed to feel creative, when I’d needed solace. I didn’t want to give up on them. The bottom line-it was a story in my heart that still wanted to be told.

So, while I was pregnant with Lily, I pulled up a blank document and decided to start fresh. I’d write it all over again, the way I’d want to tell it right now. So I did. And I loved every minute and I cried at times. It’s hard to describe how I feel about this novel, because it’s been part of me for so long. It’s who I was then, and it’s who I am now.

And I’m ABSOLUTELY thrilled to tell you that it will be published, and as of now, will most likely be released at the beginning of next summer (I’ve just signed the contract so I still need to dive into the editing and rewriting process, and books, you know, take a super long time.) I’ll keep you posted on the process. I cannot wait to share this story with you, loveys. I just know that when I finally see it in print, I’ll bawl and howl and laugh and jump up and down like a crazy person.

Can’t. Wait.

Just a thought. Having the heart of a writer means that there are stories inside of you that you need to tell. Some, you will write and they’ll stay in a drawer or on your laptop for forever (and if you pull them out and take a look, you’ll think, Yeah, that needs to stay hidden in this drawer!) I’ve written stories that will never see the light of day. They were and are stepping stones, learning opportunities, practice and so on. And for some of us, it takes a very long time to get any traction with our writing. Doors close. Opportunities seem to dry up. We get discouraged. I think this happens to 90 percent of writers. (Some people are super lucky and everything always works out. I am not one of those people.) Sometimes, things happen when we’re not expecting it. We’re busy living life and loving our people and working hard. And sometimes we need to take initiative and make things happen, or at least try. Start that business. Indie-publish that novel. Save up for that trip.

By the time my novel will be published, it will have been nearly twenty years since those characters first showed up in my mind. (Crazy, I know. Now I feel super old.) But you know, there doesn’t have to be an expiration date on our dreams and goals. Life changes and we change and our hopes change. Good things can happen. Go after it, lovey.

My new editor sent me an email, telling me why she connects to the story and how excited she is for us to work on this project together. I couldn’t stop smiling after reading that email. It’s been a long road, but there’s an end in sight and a story to be told.

Coming soon, Loveys. Good things.

 

P.S. In the meantime, my sister is doing a giveaway of my novel Looks Like Love!  Go here to try to win a copy!  https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/ce50accb2abfd39b/?ref_=tsm_4_tw_p_ln-l

Also, follow my author page on Facebook to keep up with the publishing process as I go along! https://www.facebook.com/authorBrandyBruce/

 

 

 

 

 

Team Us: Marriage Together by Ashleigh Slater

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Hi Loveys! Here’s a treat for you! We’re talking with my new friend Ashleigh Slater! She’s the author of the new book Team Us: Marriage Together. In her writing, Ashleigh loves to unite the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage couples. (For more information visit AshleighSlater.com.) She’s going to give us a marriage tip today and also give us a glimpse into what’s on her to-be-read list (along with what she cooks for company!).

1. How did the writing bug bite you? Have you always wanted to be a writer? What’s your story with that? It’s funny, while writing has always been a part of my story from as early as 3rd or 4th grade, I don’t remember ever sitting down and thinking, “I want to be a writer when I grow up.” Instead, I wanted to be a television producer. To the point that I studied it in grad school. Yet once I had kids, I decided not to pursue that career path. I really wanted to be home with my children on a daily basis. The thing was, once I put that aside, I still needed a creative outlet. Since I’d been writing music reviews and articles since I was teenager, I started to focus more on writing and editing. Almost 20 years after I had my first music review published as a teen, here I am with my first book.

2. Where did the “Team Us” inspiration come from? When it comes to my writing, I actively hold to “write what you know.” So when Moody Publishers approached me last spring about possibly writing a book on relationships, I sat back and thought, “Okay, what can I write about that I have experience in and am passionate about?” The first thing that came to mind as I reflected on Ted and our marriage was how grace has impacted our relationship. This idea of writing on grace turned into the book that is now “Team Us.”

3. As we all know, marriage can be a little like a rollercoaster–highs and lows and freefalls! What’s one practical way that you recommend staying on the same team even through the hard times? Remember that your spouse is not the enemy. It can be easy when you face difficulty to start pointing fingers and assigning blame. You know, to look for what your spouse could have or maybe even should have done differently. And, as a result, “casting” your spouse in the role of villain in the tragedy you’re facing. Instead of making it “you against me,” I think it’s important to make it “us against the problem.” Determine to face whatever comes your way together, united. And I believe this is something that doesn’t just apply to the “big” difficulties, but even the smaller challenges involved in parenting or finances.

4. What books are you currently reading? What’s on your to-be-read list? I tend to read two or three books at a time. Right now I’m finishing up Emily Wiergena’s memoir Atlas Girl and am in the middle of Tessa Afshar’s novel In the Field of Grace as well as Dannah Gresh’s parenting book Six Ways to Keep the ‘Little’ in Your Girl. My to-be-read list includes reading The Hunger Games Trilogy and The Divergent Trilogy again. I’ve also heard a lot of great things about The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith.

5. What’s your special go-to meal when having company over? What are you famous (or infamous!) for when it comes to cooking? We actually don’t have one go-to meal. Instead, we kind of cater a few of our favorites depending on who the company is. Things like chili or chicken saltimbocca. But, if we have a large group of friends over, it’s normally an easy crowd pleaser such as bratwursts or burgers on the grill. Ted and I both have a lot of German in our family history, so we love a good brat with mustard and sauerkraut.

Thank you, Ashleigh!! I am super excited to read Team Us and to get to know Ashleigh better! Check out her website and hop over to Amazon to take a look at what others are saying about her book.

 

Book Blog Hop!

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Hi, loveys! So the very talented Mrs. Susan Mathis tagged me in a book blog hop and I’m super excited to be part of it. The deal is that we answer questions about books we’ve written so I’m talking about Looks Like Love. Fun! Here we go:
What is/was the title of your book? Looks Like Love
 
Where did the idea come from for the book? Well, the title is actually taken from a line in the book. The entire premise of the story is about finding out what love looks like. I wanted to write a story that explores the different forms love takes–you know, friendship, family, romance, faith. I wanted to delve into the fact that our perspective of love can sometimes be limited. And the truth that taking a closer look at what love really looks like can change your life.
 
What genre does your book fall under? Contemporary romance, chick-lit
 
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? After a devastating break-up, Kasey Addison embarks on an adventure to discover what real love looks like.
 
How was your book published? Since I’m an editor myself, I took the plunge and self-published my book. Lucky for me, I had editor friends to help copyedit my manuscript and I already knew the process of proofing and writing back cover copy. To be honest, I had a lot of fun with the process.
 
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? About a year.
 
What other books would you compare this work to within your genre? A Girl’s Best Friend by Kristin Billerbeck, Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones, Dreaming in Black and White by Laura Jensen Walker, Bridget Jones’s Diary, etc.
 
Who or What inspired you to write this book? I took a trip to Europe about ten years ago that caused me to fall in love with all things British. Several years after the trip, I decided to write a story where I could incorporate some of my experiences (not the romance experiences, FYI. I was already engaged by that point! The travel aspects.).
 
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? For anyone who’s a travel lover, a large part of my story takes place in England. So if you like fiction that takes you on overseas adventures, Looks Like Love will be right up your alley. My main character is a relatable girl who sometimes feels lost in her own life. She’s a fun character and I had a blast writing her.
You can find Looks Like Love on Amazon or at all Tattered Cover locations in Denver, Colorado. It’s also available (very affordable) for Kindle and Nook. And I think there are some used copies on Amazon at the moment for really great prices. So if you’re looking for a gift for Christmas, check it out!
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Author Interview with Fantasy Author Amy Green!

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Hi friends! So I’m super excited to introduce you to a friend of mine and a YA fantasy author. Drumroll please . . . Amy Green!

I actually got to know Amy because she was an intern at our publishing company for the summer. Which means she’s still in college, people! She’s one of those lucky ones who got published her first time around at a young age. So she was spared the years of rejection letters. You may or may not be able to relate to that, but I think it’s encouraging to see new people finding their way onto bookshelves. It can happen for you too! OK, let’s chat.

 

BB: So you’re a writer! Were you one of those kids practically born with a pen
in your hand? Give us a glimpse of where your love of story came from.

AG: Whenever I played Barbies with my twin sister, she would insist that we either have a wedding or a fashion show. This routine got boring pretty quickly, so I would create elaborate plots (Tourist Barbie gets locked in an Egyptian pyramid! Princess Barbie meets a gypsy who turns her into a talking mirror!), and then throw in a fashion show at the end, usually when Barbie was trying to find the perfect disguise for her secret missions.

Later, when I was old enough to actually write down my stories, I tried to make them just like my favorite books—at least in length. I wrote my first “novel” in seventh grade. (43,000 words…ironically, 1,000 words longer than my first published book.) It was terrible, as were the next four that I wrote in my middle school years. And the problem was, I knew it, and it frustrated me.

My mom (and teacher at the time) encouraged me to keep going. I’d get better in time, she said. And, as usual, she was right.

BB: You’ve written two books so far, how would you describe them? Where did the inspiration come from for
those stories?

AG: I’ve written two Christian fantasy books, Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel and Escape From Riddler’s Pass, published with Warner Press in 2011 (with two more on the way soon). They’re classified as juvenile fiction (ages 8-12), but I often find them in the teen section of bookstores because the main character is fifteen. I’ve heard from both kids and teens who enjoyed them.

I wrote Quest for the Scorpion’s Jewel because my sister, studying elementary education, wanted a children’s book for her eighteenth birthday, and that seemed like a better deal to me than spending money on a present. I’m not sure where the idea itself came from, but it probably came in the shower. Most of my ideas do, for some reason.

BB: Since you’re a writer, I’m assuming you’re a reader! What books are you
currently reading? Do you have a favorite book you recommend?

I’m currently reading Pride and Prejudice (I’m a little ashamed to admit it’s my first Jane Austen novel) and Culture Making by Andy Crouch. One of my favorite books is Me, Myself, and Bob. It’s the autobiography of Phil Vischer, the creator of VeggiesTales, and the story of what happens when you let your dream become more important to you than God.

BB: What are your goals for the future?

AG: All writers fall somewhere along the outlining spectrum—some list every detail of the plot ahead of time and write in the gaps, and others start at the beginning and make it up from there. I’m in the second group, and all of my career goals are as vague as my outlines—finish projects, write more juvenile and YA books, read classic books on writing, figure out where the market is going and go there first, try curriculum writing. If I get too specific, I’d probably treat the goals as a checklist and miss some surprise opportunities on the way. My end career goal is getting more education so I can teach writing, probably at a college level. But first I have to graduate college. Working on that one right now.

BB: What advice do you offer aspiring writers?

AG: Don’t do it alone. Find a group of writers to swap manuscripts with. Or just find a reader who will give you honest and detailed thoughts on what you should change. It’s not only about having good editors, though—sometimes just talking with others who have a similar passion has been the boost I needed to keep working on a long project when writer’s block was dragging me down. I’ve probably learned more from my fellow writers than I have from books or classes.

Fabulous! Thanks so much for stopping by, Amy. You can check out her blog here.

Losing Things and Building a Library

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So, you know that feeling of losing something? A few weeks ago we were cleaning out the garage for a garage sale and I stumbled across an old photo that I thought was lost forever. I was beyond happy to find it.

Then I lost it again.

Unbelievable, I know. I’ve been berating myself for days and trying like mad to remember what I did with it, but to no avail. It’s gone again. I had it for a few minutes, and now it’s gone again. How is that even possible? I’ve searched high and low and it’s absolutely nowhere to be found. I’d come to terms with this fact a really long time ago, when I realized it was gone forever. But then I had this spark of unexpected happiness when I saw it again. And for the life of me, I can’t remember what I did with it. I was in the middle of going through stuff for the garage sale . . . and what else can I say? I have no idea where it went. I’m trying to let go of the frustration, but obviously–I’m still frustrated.

I try not to usually let things like this get to me. Most things are replaceable. A DVD gets scratched–you can buy a new one. You spill something on a favorite book–Amazon is there for you. I once lost one of my favorite sandals at a writers conference. I got home and unpacked and only had one sandal. Very devastating, but I got over it. But this was a really old picture that wasn’t saved on the computer. Not the worst thing in the world, but certainly not replaceable.

So what things can you live without and what things are absolutely irreplaceable? People are irreplaceable, obviously. And in some cases (stuff like old photos), things are irreplaceable. Family heirlooms are irreplaceable. I have a special tea set from my grandmother that is absolutely precious to me. It’s irreplaceable. But mostly, when I think of irreplaceable things in my life–I think of people.

Still, it irks me to no end that I found that photo and then lost it again. Seriously. Annoying. Today I told myself that I have to let this go. I was fine for years, when it was lost before. I’ll be fine without it again. But do you understand that horrible feeling of having lost something? It can make you crazy. All right, moving on.

Today was a sister day. Sara and I went to lunch (I was craving queso like you wouldn’t believe), then we went shopping. Then I came home and finally got to watch that movie about JK Rowling on Lifetime. I’m telling you, JK Rowling’s fairytale story is just inspiring for any writer. I am so inspired by her. Sara and I were book shopping today and talking about building up our personal libraries. Ever since Jeff and I moved into our new house, I’ve been trying to fill these great bookshelves in our office. But I ended up taking out a lot of books that I have that don’t mean anything to me. I decided that I want a library that has books that are special to me, or that I feel are important or helpful for me to have. So I currently have a box of books for Goodwill. Meanwhile, I’m working on this library of mine. I borrow most books I read from the library, but there are some books that I really think I need to have for my own library. So–if you were doing the same thing, tell me, what books would be must-haves for your library? I really want to know. Here are just a few of the books that will be staying on my bookshelves: Harry Potter series, Twilight series, Christy Miller series, Glenbrooke series, The O’Malley series, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Great Expectations, When Heaven is Silent, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, Anne of Green Gables, lots of books by Ann Rinaldi, Traveling Mercies, A Family Apart, Charlotte’s Web, Woe Is I, Uglies, If I Stay, Chateau of Echoes, The Shunning, The Little Prince, What to Expect When You’re Expecting–that’s just the beginning. I’m still working on it.It’s an ongoing project, and I have to tell you, I seriously like this project. 🙂 Buying books? Yes, please.

Matched by Ally Condie

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Okay, so I finished Matched yesterday. It’s about a girl living in a dystopian society–it feels very futuristic. (Think Uglies.) And I like that. The storyline itself gripped me and I was very interested to see where the author would go with it. But to be honest, I felt like the pacing was off somewhat. It seemed a little slow. I liked the characters, but I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did when reading the Hunger Games or the Uglies series. Still, the overall concept was very interesting and I’d recommend fans of those other series I mentioned try this one out. I just love the imagination and creativity that goes into writing a world like this one. Part of the premise is that, a while ago, the government decided that the world was too inundated with technology and information. It was desensitizing the people. So the government organized groups to choose the most important one hundred poems, books, and so on, to preserve, and everything else was destroyed. Now the government controls absolutely everything. What people can eat, where people work, and who they’re matched up with.  *Spoiler warning* I did find it a little strange that there’s this whole revolution vibe rising up within the main girl and guy–and yet, the fact that they even fall in love with each other is sort of proving the government’s logic correct since they matched them together on purpose. They orchestrated the whole thing!  I don’t know. I need to read the sequel to find out where the author’s going with this, I guess. 🙂

So those are my thoughts. Other news: Sara and I have completed the first draft of our book! Yay! Hooray! I can’t believe it. I know it needs work and more editing, but it feels great to have a finished first draft. Gotta love it.  It ended up being a little over 400 pages. Isn’t that crazy? I know. But we’re excited about it. Now comes the time where we send it out and hold our breath, hoping we get some positive feedback. Very scary, to be sure. But necessary.

What happened to Spring? (and thoughts about Rob Bell’s book Love Wins)

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So this is what I’m seeing outside my window right now. Um, people, it’s May 12th, if you’ve forgotten. This is crazy! This is Colorado. That’s all I can say. I feel like I should be trimming a Christmas tree or something. The snow is still coming down as I type this. Just a few days ago we were all beyond excited that we could finally wear sandals. The weather was warm and gorgeous, but as usual, it was just a tease. The blizzard was on its way.

Sigh. Okay. On to other things. Like books! So I just recently finished reading If I Stay, which was really good. Kind of a tearjerker though. But somehow the author managed to make it a cry-worthy book while not making it a sad, depressing book. I really liked it. And I’m currently reading Fang by James Patterson. But I’ve just started it so we’ll see how that one goes. Reading all these YA books has been helping me as I’m working on the edit for Sara’s (and my) book.

Oh! I’ve also just finished reading Love Wins by Rob Bell. You know, it’s that book that’s been surrounded by controversy since it came out and now everyone thinks Rob Bell’s a universalist and yada yada yada? That’s the one. I’m still trying to decide how I feel about his message (which, personally, to me comes across as positive but vague. So I finished the book, feeling like I really liked it–then I stopped and thought, Um, okay, what does he believe about hell again? Not sure. I had to start reading it again.) So I’m going through it a second time. I know there were definitely sections that I related to. There were also things that I felt weren’t developed enough. In some ways, I thought it seemed like he was saying that we all go to heaven but if we haven’t changed into the Christlike people we’re supposed to be, then it’ll be hell for us. Like his example of the prodigal son’s brother, who was at the party but not enjoying it. But honestly, for me, that’s not good enough for someone like, say, Hitler. Without some sort of hell, I guess I don’t feel like there’s justice. So many people don’t get justice on Earth–child molesters go free, murderers are never convicted, and so on. So, when I think of hell, I think of justice. But what I was challenged to think about was my own idea of what hell must be. And maybe that’s not entirely accurate. And maybe there is still hope for people who have died. Maybe hell doesn’t have to be forever. Bell’s question about a 15-year-old atheist being punished forever in hell–for not accepting Christ during the few years he’d passed the age of accountability–well, that’s a good question. Is that justice? Here’s something else I started to wonder about: How can God be just but unfair? I think I realized that much of what happens after death is still more of a mystery. We can make assumptions based on interpretation of Scripture, but they are still just assumptions. So overall, reading Love Wins challenged me to think about some things. And in some ways, it really encouraged me. It’s a very hopeful book, and Bell’s writing style is great (at least, I think so). So I would recommend it. Even if just to spark discussion and cause people to think about their own belief systems and where those have come from.

Well, people, it’s still snowing. Looks like a winter wonderland kind of day. I think it’s time for some hot chocolate. 🙂