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Category Archives: Writing

Stories of Our Lives: Origins of The Last Summer

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Confession, loveys: I watched Days of Our Lives back in high school, and college, and I loved it. (The school I went to had half days on Fridays, so I’d watch every Friday and get caught up on the week.) Stefano DiMera, Sami and Carrie and Austin, Marlena and John–all of it. And at the beginning, I remember the intro saying, Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. Later in college, I swapped Days for General Hospital and watched that through the rest of college–coming home at lunch and turning it on–and I dragged Jeff into the story during our first few years of marriage. No regrets. Those were good times. Jeff may not admit it, but he was just as hooked on finding out if Carly and Sonny would make it as I was.

The days of our lives really do go fast. And they tell a story. Our stories.

The Last Summer Front Cover

We’re five days out from the release of The Last Summer. (Eek! I’m SO excited!) I told you that I wrote the first draft of this twenty years ago, my first year of college. In fact, I still have the original spiral notebook.

Here’s a cool story, lovey. It’s just incredible to me.

After I’d written this last draft and sent it off to editors and publishers and finally heard back that it was going to be published–I realized something. In that first spiral notebook, I’d written the story of seven friends who love each other like family. The story has reshaped since then, but the plot has remained the same. The friends have remained true to their characters, but names changed over the years as I rewrote the story. In that spiral notebook are the original names that I came up with when I was eighteen years old.

Three of those names are Ashton, Lillian, and Everett.

My three children are named Ashtyn, Lillian, and Lincoln Everett.

The crazy thing is that this story never even came into my mind during my pregnancies. I was twenty-eight when I was pregnant for the first time. Ten years and a long way from the eighteen year old girl who’d gone away to college.

When I was pregnant with Ashtyn, my first child, I sometimes scribbled names on a notepad (usually during staff meetings!). Someone suggested Ashton to me, but at that time, it looked a bit masculine to me. I scribbled the name over and over on a notepad, and suddenly wrote Ashtyn, and it clicked. I loved it. Lillian never changed, I’ve always loved it. And I’ve loved the name Everett since I saw the movie With Honors way back in the 90s.

When I first realized that the names I came up with as a teenager are the names of my children–I’m not kidding when I say it sent chills over me. The truth that those names have been in my heart–in me–since I was just a girl . . . And have stayed with me for all these years, and have been passed on to the most important people in my life . . . without me even realizing it–well, I guess it’s just the connecting of all the days of my life.

Ashtyn and Lily and Lincoln Everett were always meant to be. They were always part of me. From years ago when I was a girl myself, spilling out a story that would hold pieces of me forever. (Before I even met Jeff!)

It makes me cry.

Their names were there–at the shaping of a story, at the shaping of my life. Little hints of who I would be and the children who would make my life wonderful. And I didn’t realize it, but it all came together.

I’ve been asked before about how I write my stories, lovey. For me, it’s just like that. They come together. A bit mysterious. The story unfolds and you see the connections later–and then you get it.

And I cry.

Our stories are being pieced together like puzzles–at the end you see the picture and you smile and you realize, Oh, that went there. Oh, right, of course that fit there. I see it now.

Loveys . . . stories–fictional and real–are amazing. They’ve been shaping me since I was a young thing. They’ve captivated me.

And this story I’m about to share with you–it’s a piece of the story of my life.

I’ll treasure it forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal Time

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Loveys, we are seventeen days from the release of The Last Summer (picture me squealing with excitement!). How fabulous! Today, Carrie from Reading is My SuperPower is doing a cover reveal! Hop over right now and join the excitement!!

http://readingismysuperpower.org/2017/05/24/cover-reveal-last-summer-brandy-bruce/

Six Weeks from The Last Summer

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I cannot believe we’re six weeks out from the launch of The Last Summer! How is this even possible?! It’s actually already available for pre-order on Amazon. The publisher is working on the cover. Final corrections are being made to the proofs. And this is feeling really real, y’all.

I’m scared.

I was putting together a list of early readers this weekend, and the thought of people actually READING this story started to give me a little anxiety. Remember, these characters first came to me when I was 18 years old. A lifetime ago. They’ve been living in my head all this time. Now their story is finished and about to be available for people. I think nerves are just part of the process.

Nerves and excitement. I’m thinking of a book launch party and other fun, book-release things and excitement is part of all that. I’ve loved every book I’ve written–of course I have. You pour yourself into the writing and spend hours upon hours with your characters.  But this book, lovey. This book.

It’s just different.

I love it in a nostalgic, memory-filled, roots kind of way. Because I remember forming these characters on the bottom of a bunk bed while living in a dorm room with five other girls, one of whom has already gone to heaven, which breaks my heart. We were just young girls then.

And then I remember re-writing it, living with Leah in dorm 23. Then Courtney and Kat. Dave Matthews or Matchbox Twenty on the radio. And then in our apartment while living with Laurie. Staying up late in my room, typing away on this same story.

Then becoming an intern for a publishing company and letting Mick and Kathy read it, getting feedback and feeling terrified as real, grown-up editors read my writing. Working on it while sitting with Samantha Krieger in one of the houses I was staying in during our internship. I think back on that and smile, thinking that’s what it looks like when you’re writer-friends. Come over, and bring your laptop, and we’ll sit together and type!

Then taking a break from it and writing Looks Like Love. Time passed during those years and life changed and I became an editor and lived out my dream job. Babies came. Then I wrote Table for Two, then Second Chance Café, then Recipe for Love. All while editing the books of so many others.

And finally, while pregnant with my third baby, I decided to start with a blank page, and rewrite this novel (in first person this time, which I loved while working on Looks Like Love).

So as Lily grew inside me, I wrote, for the last time, Sara’s story, The Last Summer.

And now, we’re six weeks out from release date.

But in my heart, we’re twenty years in. And I could just about cry.

So I’m scared and excited and happy and relieved and ready. I could use your help, loveys, to get the word out about this story. I hope to do a cover reveal in the next few weeks. And you can see the hashtag in the photo above. Once the book is out, I’d be so thankful to see readers with it, and please include that hashtag. Please leave reviews–you don’t even know how invaluable that is for authors. Share the book announcement on your pages. Contact me with any questions about how you can help! brandybrucewrites@gmail.com.

It’s nearly time. The COUNTDOWN is beginning.

Oh gosh. I’m so happy!

 

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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.