Long and Short Reviews welcomes Brenda Whiteside whose latest book The Morning After is releasing today from The Wild Rose Press. Brenda will give one lucky commenter a $10 gift certificate to TWRP.
The Morning After was the result of a submission call out with setting and sub-genre (contemporary western) already set. Her main character, Abigail, came to her when a friend told Brenda that she was going to be in a wedding for the third time in two years—and was not very happy about it. She was going to be a bridesmaid for the third time at her best friend's third wedding. Abigail was a thirty-something bridesmaid who had never been married, so Brenda decided to have her wake up with a sexy, red-headed cowboy from the wedding the night before.
"Seemed like fun to me!" Brenda said.
Her characters almost always come first—or at least simultaneously with the character's goal. Most of them come from people who populate or have populated her life, at least in part.
"For example, Sandra Holiday, in Sleeping with the Lights On has a bit of my sister in her. When I wrote the book, my sister had turned fifty, was single and floundering with her next move in life. She’d been married more than once and had some funny stories to tell about her years of dating. That became the basis for my story. My character came first, but her situation also prompted the plot," she told me. "Honey On White Bread was inspired by characters in my life, my mom and my dad. One of the supporting characters in my work in progress is demanding her own book. I already can see the quirky, hunk she’ll hook up with but I’ve yet to know what their story is. The plot usually develops because of my character’s personality and history. When a character comes to me, I work up a physical description, as much as I know about their personality and their history. If I know any of the other characters beyond the heroine and hero, then I do the same for them. The plot begins forming as my files take shape."
I asked her to tell us something about The Morning After that wasn't in the blurb.
"Abigail Martin has a mother and a cat. Her mother is worried that Abigail may never marry. You know – typical mom, huh? She’s blunt and funny and saves the day for Abigail at one point in the story. Without giving away too much, I’ll just say that Mom straightens Abigail out, takes part in a bit of deceit and stays cool while she does it. Kirby is Abigail’s sixteen-pound Siamese cat. He wanders in and out of the story but does have one key scene where he helps put Abigail into a compromising position with her unexpected bedmate!"
Brenda has just finished the first draft of a romantic suspense that is, as yet, untitled. Lacy Dahl owns Lacy Latte in Scottsdale, Arizona. Before the story opens, her adoptive father and cheating husband are deceased. Her adoptive mother has just died and she is left with some artwork and pictures of her birth parents. She’s in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she was born, and her birth parents died in a plane crash, to find out if the artwork is valuable; a mission her art gallery owner daughter has sent her on. She meets the mysterious but irresistible Sheriff Chance Meadowlark. She also meets up with danger.
"I’ll share my blurb with you, but be kind – it’s my first stab at it and I usually revise a dozen times before I’m happy with it!" she said.
Lacy Dahl’s research uncovers secrets about the mother she never knew; secrets that dispute the identity of her father and threaten her life. When Sheriff Chance Meadowlark comes to her rescue, she begins to think their present is more important than her past…until his connection to her mother and a murder spin her deeper into danger and further from love.
When the past and present collide, Lacy discovers that where she came from is not nearly as important as where she’s going.
Bremda has two writing spaces. She gets up before anyone else and, in the dark, takes her laptop and glasses to the kitchen. After making coffee, she sits at the island and writes or works on writing related tasks.
"I can look over the top of my computer to the backyard and mountains beyond. The sunrise casts a soft light, then harsher, and the mountains look different every time I look up. Once the household is buzzing, the buzz is mostly in our big warm kitchen, I retreat to my bedroom writing area. My L-shaped desk is in front of west facing window looking out on our small orchard. It’s a pretty small space so my feet are surrounded by files and books. I have not only useful items on my desk but also things that inspire me. To my right are pictures of family, one from 1945. To my right are a couple of more pictures of family and friends, a wood carving of a buffalo, copies of print books I’ve had published and a basket with pens, pencils, scissors and bookmarks. There’s also a plaque a friend who died of cancer gave me that says 'We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.' At my right also is my printer and on a shelf above that are reference books and some of my favorite novels. On the bookshelves are two more hanging plaques given to me by friends. (Guess my friends feel I need inspirational words – but I do like them or I wouldn’t have kept them) One says 'Dream-Go confidently in the direction of your dreams-Thoreau; and the other says 'My friendships, like wine, improve as time goes on.' I’m a wine lover!"
This house sits on two and a half acre with a small orchard to care for and a garden to plant with every vegetable they plan to consume. And, the house needs some work. So—since they've moved there, Brenda's schedule looks like this:
Up by 6:00, but many mornings earlier (and without an alarm clock!), coffee on and fire up the laptop
6:00-11:00 Write or do writing related activities, breakfast at computer
11:00-3:00 Work outside on the yet to be lawn or in the orchard, with a break for lunch
3:00-5:00 Back at the computer writing
5:00-8:00 Shower, dinner and maybe one TV show
8:00-10:00 Work on critique partners' stories or read fellow authors' books for reviews
"My day is broken up on Mondays and Thursdays for a yoga lesson at 10:30 before I head outside," she explained. "I have a built-in yoga teacher, my daughter-in-law. And of course, there are the days I have to do a little cleaning or shopping. I try to take a day off for a hike or a motorcycle ride now and then or an evening to have dinner out with friends. All work and no play makes Brenda a little stir-crazy."
Finally, I asked, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Number one piece of advice is WRITE EVERY DAY. I didn’t do this in the beginning. A singer/songwriter friend of mine told me to read The Artist’s Way and I became a believer in daily writing. It doesn’t matter what you write, as long as you write. I worked a full time job outside the home at the time, but I would rise twenty minutes early and write for fifteen minutes each morning. You have to keep the creative juices flowing.
"Be sure to join a writers group (or even get a partner) where you can read your projects as well as read other writer’s projects. Find a group that you feel secure with and who will give and take thoughtful critiquing. I will never write without a critique partner – an honest critique partner. We need to know what isn’t good about our writing, but we also need to know what is right about what we’re doing.
"Write what you feel. Don’t follow trends unless you happen to like to write the current trend. Take a class now and then (there are tons of on-line classes) related to your craft. Don’t get discouraged if you’re trying to publish and get rejected. It’ll happen if you are persistent and hone your craft."
About the Author:
Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their home with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.
Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com
Or on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/BrendaWhitesideAuthor
She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com
She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/
Honky Tonk Hearts Series
Can there really be love at first sight?
Abigail Martin doesn't think so. Unless the sexy red-headed stranger she wakes up with the morning after her best friend's wedding is telling the truth.
Bobby Stockwood fell cowboy-hat-over-boot-heels for the brown-haired beauty, and married her in an impromptu wedding ceremony. Now he just has to convince his new bride that the morning after can be the first day of the rest of their lives.
But just when Abigail starts believing the fairy-tale is real, she finds out exactly who Bobby is, and the walls of make-believe start crumbling down.