Meet Debut Novelist Brandy Bruce

Brandy Bruce holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Liberty University. Originally from Houston, Texas, she now lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and works as a developmental book editor for Focus on the Family, where she spends much of her time reading, writing, editing, working with authors, trying to keep up with deadlines, and making good use of online dictionaries. She’s represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary.

When she’s not editing or writing, Brandy can be found reading all sorts of novels—covering topics from vampires that sparkle to quiet Amish life; talking on the phone with her sisters; catching up with friends online; spending time with her husband, Jeff, and her daughter, Ashtyn; watching movies; blogging; or baking any kind of cheesecake. She’s the author of the newly released contemporary romance novel Looks Like Love.

Brandy’s favorite dessert is cheesecake. She’s fond of chocolate chip cheesecake, so I’m offering that as today’s virtual treat. Grab a slice, sit back, and enjoy your time getting to know about Brandy and her writing journey.

Brandy’s Journey Begins

•With your penchant for words, your educational background, and the fact that you’re employed as an editor, I’m guessing you’re one of those people who was born with a pen in her hand. Am I right?

Absolutely. I remember spending time scribbling even when I was in elementary school. I’ve always loved to write in my free time, but it was about five years ago when I started writing a novel that I really thought I should try to publish. Once I showed it to my agent (he wasn’t my agent at the time) and he came back with really positive feedback, I knew I wanted to try to publish it.

How many manuscripts did you complete prior to publishing?

Do books written when you’re 12 count? 🙂 Like I said, I’ve always loved to write. But I started writing a novel my freshman year of college that I seriously worked on for a couple of years. I wouldn’t say it’s publishable! But I would say it’s a complete novel. So I’d count that one. And now I have my novel that I’m publishing next month.

Brandy’s Next Steps

•You’re represented by a highly respected literary agent. How did your offer of representation from Chip MacGregor come about, and how did you react when you received The Agent Call?

Chip and I met at a writers’ conference we were both working at. We just clicked as friends. Chip’s such a great, good-humored guy. I told him about my novel and asked if he’d take a look at it. After looking at the proposal, he asked to see the full manuscript. Not long after that, he sent me an email telling me he really liked my story and would like to sign me as one of his authors. I was, of course, thrilled that he wanted to sign me.

•Chip shopped your story, and you received some great feedback. What did you learn from the experience of being out on submission?

It was a little strange for me. I’m usually the one reviewing proposals and giving feedback. But I would say it was a positive learning experience for me.

•Chip worked hard on your behalf, but even top-notch agents and those who are editors themselves receive passes. Although your story didn’t sell, you still believed in it. With Chip’s support, you decided to self-publish. I rarely interview authors who’ve chosen that path, but your story is unique. Why did you, an editor represented by a well-respected agent, choose this option?

I really thought we were going to sell my story, but it didn’t end up happening and rather than give up entirely on this book that I put so much work into, I decided to self-publish it. Part of the reason was that as much as I love my job as an editor, I’d always hoped to have a book that was mine. There came a point where my husband pointed out to me that in today’s world, publishing a book is an attainable dream for anyone. Chip and I talked about it, and he encouraged me to go for it.

My life has also changed a lot over the last two years. I have a toddler running around now. Juggling my work as an editor and my role as a mother keeps me busy. I have less free time to write, and that’s okay. But I would say that those were also factors in my decision to go ahead and self-publish the book I’d already written. People self-publish for different reasons—often to have products to accompany a speaking career. In my case, I just had a story that I loved and wanted to see in print.

•What have you learned about self-publishing? Would you recommend this route to others?

Just today I received a self-published book in the mail, sent to me by a man who’d originally sent me his book proposal. While I thought his memoir had value, it wasn’t a fit for my publisher. I encouraged him to self-publish. Today I saw the finished product, and I was so happy for him. I definitely encourage people to self-publish; not in every case, but there are times I recommend it.

I think publishing is changing. Consider the fact that anyone can have his or her manuscript turned into an e-book in minutes and have it available online. I think traditional publishing is still ideal, and while we’d all like to have an advance, the truth is that it’s getting harder for new people to break into the business. It’s not impossible, but it’s more difficult.

You used WestBow Press as your publisher. Why did you choose that company, and what have been the benefits of working with them?

I chose WestBow because I have a lot of respect for Thomas Nelson, and I liked that WestBow was connected to that traditional publisher. I did a little research first, looking at books WestBow had done. I even contacted two WestBow authors to find out what their experience was like and whether they would recommend WestBow. My own personal experience with them was great. The customer service was helpful every step of the way, and I was so pleased with the cover the design team created. They totally captured the tone and feel of the book.

Brandy’s Education and Expertise

•How have your education and experiences served you in your writing? Do you think being an editor with a well-known publisher has given you an edge?

Well, I have a degree in English and that has definitely helped me in my work as an editor and in my writing. Working with other editors over the past several years has also helped train me in dealing with tone, voice, sentence structure, pacing, and so on. And, of course, working in publishing has provided me with contacts in the industry.

•As an editor, what tips would you offer other writers eager to place in contests and attract the attention of the publishing professionals?

Make your proposal as professional as possible. It’s frustrating to see a book proposal with spelling and grammar mistakes—it needs to be as close to perfect as you can make it. Learn how to write a strong synopsis. Know your genre and audience. Take feedback seriously. If an agent tells you there’s something missing, listen to him or her and work on that. Go to conferences and make contacts.

Brandy’s Sources of Inspiration

•Who or what are your sources of inspiration?

I’m inspired in all sorts of ways. A good movie, a good book, a great song—when I need inspiration, I take some time to enjoy something I love, like a delicious cup of cappuccino.

But I have to say that when I read the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn in middle school—that was the moment I was truly inspired to write novels. I connected to the characters and the storylines. I was fourteen years old and that series made a huge difference in my life. I realized that I wanted to make a difference like that through my personal writing.

I didn’t realize until I started working for Focus on the Family that Focus was the original publisher for the Christy Miller series. On my first day as a book editor at Focus, I filled the shelves in my cubicle with the Christy Miller series, to remind myself of why I was there. I couldn’t believe that I was now an editor at the same publisher that had been so influential in my life.

That same year, I was able to meet Robin at a conference through a mutual friend. We sat and talked and we both cried as I told her how her writing had inspired me so long ago. I now consider Robin a friend of mine, and whenever I hear from her, I can’t help feeling so blessed that God used her writing to help me discover my passion for books. And that God brought me to this place in my life where I now help create books that make a difference.

•What sparked the idea for Looks Like Love? Did you begin with a setting in mind? Did scenes start playing in your mind? Or perhaps your characters began chatting?

I went to London several years ago and just fell in love with it. I thought it would be fun to write a book where the main character travels to England. So I came up with this idea of a girl who’s suddenly in a place in her life where all her plans have unraveled and she’s basically starting over. She needs to find herself. So she travels to London to visit her best friend because, as any woman knows, when we’re feeling undone, we need our best friend for perspective. The book is basically one girl’s journey to rediscover life and faith and love.

Brandy’s Debut Novel

•Please tell us about Looks Like Love.

Following a break-up with her boyfriend and an unfulfilling career, Kasey Addison feels lost in her own life. With the help of her best friend, Amanda, Kasey embarks on an unexpected journey to rediscover life and love, starting with a whirlwind London jaunt. Surrounded by red telephone booths, double-decker buses, and men in fuzzy black hats, Kasey falls in love with mud baths, Jane Austen, and stone cathedrals.

When her spur-of-the-moment vacation is over, Kasey, a junior marketing consultant, finds herself on the marketing team for LETA, a growing cosmetics company. When the owners of LETA decide to release their very first fragrance, Kasey’s new assignment is to find out what love looks like and then find a way to sell it. With the help of a few friends, and with a rekindled relationship with the Lover of her soul, Kasey discovers that sometimes love looks like what we least expect.

You can watch the trailer by clicking this link.

Reactions and Reviews

•You’ve already received a number of glowing reviews. Which have meant the most to you, and why?

I was beyond thrilled when Jenny B. Jones sent me an endorsement for Looks Like Love. I have so much respect and admiration for her as a writer. Christa Ann Banister is another author whom I just respect so much. I was so excited when she shared with me how much she liked Looks Like Love and sent me an endorsement.

Brandy’s Journey Continues

•Your self-published book released last month. What are you working on now, and what are your plans for it? Will Chip be shopping this story, or do you plan to self-publish?

I’m currently working on a YA (young adult) fantasy series with my sister. I’m a huge fan of YA books and I love reading fantasy novels. We’re co-authoring the series and Chip will most likely shop it for us once we have a solid book proposal.

Five Fun Questions for Brandy

•In your opinion, what is the best piece of music ever written?

Well, I don’t know if it’s the best ever written, but Free Fallin’ by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is my all-time favorite song.  🙂

•If you wrote your autobiography, what would the title be?

Probably the same title as my blog: Thinking in Words, because so much of my life is spent with words and books.

•You’ve no doubt heard the expression, “They couldn’t pay me enough to do that job.” What would that job be for you?

Hmm. Cleaning bathrooms.

•What do you think is the best conversation piece in your home?

My daughter.

•If we peeked in your kitchen cupboards, what would we learn about you?

I don’t have very organized cabinets.

Brandy’s Question for You

I mentioned that going to London left me inspired to write. Can you tell me a unique place that has inspired you?

Learn More About Brandy

Visit her website ~ www.brandybruce.com

Visit her personal blog ~ Thinking in Words

Friend her on Facebook ~Brandy Bruce

Follow her on Twitter ~ BrandyBruce

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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16 Responses to Meet Debut Novelist Brandy Bruce

  1. Hi Keli and Brandy!
    I really enjoyed your interview, ladies. I’m impressed by all the young mothers successfully pursuing a writing career–and a bit jealous that I got such a late start!

    The day I get to London–anywhere in the U.K–I’ll probably be too excited to sleep for all the history there and the story ideas that will darting in my brain. My one example here is Boothbay Harbor, Maine. I spent a fall day wandering it on my own and ended up hanging out in the Historical Society. It’s definitely a future setting. I’ve got lots of notes and maps and ideas. I suppose watching Dark Shadows back in the sixties is partly to blame.

    I wish you much success with your YAs, Brandy! It’s such an important market.

  2. Michael Schneider says:

    Congratulations on your novel!

  3. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Brandy! It’s great to have you as my guest and learn more about you and your writing journey.

    I don’t have to travel far to be inspired. Since my inspirational historical romances are set in the area in which I live, I’m able to visit the Gold Rush towns where my stories take place. A walk to town past the stately Victorians can cause my creativity to blossom.

  4. Pingback: Romance Writers on the Journey « Brandy Bruce

  5. Congrats, Brandy. I went to your blog and read the first chapter. It’s GREAT! I’ll be ordering it soon. I just ordered two books by new authors. I’ll be back. Blessings to you…

  6. Brandy, I loved your story of how you began writing. So often we can be inspired by writers we love, and as you said, places we visit. I just stopped by to see your blog and loved it. I am having a wonderful time with Keli’s blog, meeting new writers every month. My TBR list grows by the hour.

    I was born and raised in The City “that never sleeps.” I have always felt that if I did not get the opportunity to travel, it was fine, because the world has come to visit me.

    My inspiration has always been those people. Wide-eyed and new to this country, tourist with their necks bent up to see it all, young adults coming to our colleges and universities and most of all, those who also were born and raised there. People and their endless capacity to fascinate me are at the core of what I love to write about.

    It is wonderful that you named your blog … “Thinking in Words” … this is the soul of the writer and a wonderful way to describe yourself as well. Good luck with all your endeavors.

    • Brandy says:

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I’ll be sure to visit your blog as well. And you’re absolutely right, people are a great inspiration! I know my characters have pieces of them that have been inspired by people I know, or people I’ve seen, or myself for that matter!

  7. Great interview! And it’s interesting to hear about a nontraditional journey in the publishing world. As far as Brandy’s question, I just went to Paris for a short weekend last month, and talk about inspiration! I don’t speak French, so I used my imagination a lot, trying to figure out what people were saying to each other. 🙂

    • Brandy says:

      Hi Sarah! In Looks Like Love, my main character’s heart’s desire is to visit Paris, city of romance! I went there once several years ago and loved it! Definitely inspirational.

  8. Brandy says:

    Keli, again, thanks so much for having me on here. And thanks to all your readers who stopped by! I loved all your comments!

  9. What a great interview, Keli. Brandy, it is so inspirational to hear such a nontraditional path into the publishing world.

  10. Alli says:

    I’m going to go read your first chapter here in a minute, but wanted to thank you for the interview.
    I, too, am a mother to preschoolers and am attempting to write. My ultimate goal is to write novels and launch into public speaking. My passions include parenting, adoption, sharing the struggles of post-pardum depression and infertility. (I sound like a personals ad there…hm.)
    I have one novel finished, another half-finished and a third about a third finished. Any advice for shopping around for an agent?

    As far as travel – Two years ago I had the opportunity to travel to my ancestral home of the Scottish lowlands. It was the most breath-taking place I have ever been and I felt so utterly at home there, despite my distaste for haggis. It was incredibly inspirational to walk the same paths and travel the same roads my ancestors did. I long to go back.

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