My final author spotlight for the month is the fabulous Becki Brannen...
I was born and raised in the South. I married my high school sweetheart and we have two daughters and a poodle, Sophie. I enjoy writing 'chick lit' with a Christian twist. I hope you enjoy reading my books, "Breathless" and "Strapless." There will be more to come soon!
I’m sensitive, extroverted, nice, feisty, happy, optimistic, a wife, mother, writer, office-minion, caring, CHRISTIAN. I believe in happy endings, lessons becoming blessings, and finding the strength to forgive (myself included). I’m unapologetic in my beliefs, strong-willed, compassionate and loving. I stand by my motto in 9th grade, when I broke out of my shell of feeling too fat, too nerdy, too shy, too scared – “You’ll either love me or hate me, but I think I’m pretty awesome.” Well, maybe it was a bit more crass back then!I love it when I let author's add anything they like because I get wonderful statements like this....Love it! So let's have a looksy at the interview...
Do you write as yourself or under a pseudonym? Why?
I’m me. I think it was for two reasons initially – being able to see my name on a book cover, and allowing my friends and family to search for me. I see the benefits of a pseudonym, such as privacy, but in today’s digital world, real names aren’t that hard to figure out!
made you want to be a published author?
Being unpublished just wasn’t any fun! I participated in NaNoWriMo 2011 and wrote Breathless, my first novel, in 29 days. If you finish a book, why not get it published? And if you publish it, why not try to make a little money while you’re at it? So I did. It’s not the first book I’ve ever written, but I don’t think the books I “wrote” in elementary school quite count. After all, some of them didn’t even have words! I went to a literature/language arts magnet school, and we wrote a book each year. Nothing to write home about, pun intended, but it definitely gave me a love for writing!
What genre do you write in and why?
So far, I’ve written Christian Chick Lit. Funny, girly books, romantic, not smutty. I wanted to write something I could tell my dad I wrote, and not blush. He still said, “You didn’t tell me it was a romance novel!” But it’s not! There is not ONE instance of a throbbing ANYTHING, unless I gave a character a throbbing headache! My characters are Christian because I am. It’s such a part of my life that I don’t really know how to separate the two fully. My upcoming projects are quite different. Peregrine is wistful and descriptive. I have no idea where it’s going to go, so it’s going to be interesting to write. Running is a suspense with a bit of romance thrown in. Outcast is YA paranormal. I feel like such a sell-out jumping on that bandwagon, but since I love to read it, why not try my hand at it. We’ll see if it ever comes to fruition. Providence is sort of country chic romance. Instead of a cowboy romance (and who doesn’t love those?), it’s a country girl, Southern city boy thing. I wanted a strong female character, someone who is tough as nails, and that girl definitely will be! I’m still finding my voice as a writer, so while I’ve loved writing the Breathless series, I’m ready to leave Carly & Ryan behind for a bit and try new things.
If you could talk to your 12 year old self, what advice would you give?
Be assertive. Be YOU. Quit trying to fit in! I’m so like one of my twin daughters, so outside of any mold, that I never fit in, and by trying to shove myself into some society-accepted form, I forgot who I was for a very long time. I’ve felt very damaged for a very long time, and I did a lot of that to myself. So rather than try to go back and tell myself those things, I will tell it to my daughters. BE YOU.
Have any other authors influenced your writing through theirs?
Everyone I’ve ever read! I think we take a bit of everything we read, watch on TV, hear in the news, every part of our lives, and incorporate it into ourselves and therefore what we write. Past experiences beget future works of amazing art. Heather Huffman has inspired me to want my characters to DO something amazing with their lives, to be a voice for the voiceless. Amazing YA authors have shown me that teenagers and young adults can truly conquer the world, and what amazing concept is that? Sure, vampires might not really exist, but young adults CAN enact real change in the world in which we live, making it a better place. If my writing inspires anyone to want to write, or do something amazing with their lives (for themselves or for others), then I’ve done something great. I hope that Sleepless gets people to think about human trafficking. I hope that Running will encourage discussion about sexual abuse. For that matter, the entire Breathless series touches on dating violence. (Sorry, I didn’t quite answer the question in the way it was asked!)
If you are a self-published author what made you take this route and what was your experience (good or bad)?
I wanted to get my work out there! I submitted my information to a publisher that I love, but was eventually turned down once they got the entire manuscript of Breathless. It’s okay, it’s not for everyone. Or maybe they felt like they had too many books similar to it. Either way, I’ve had great success on my own! At least in the self-publishing world, I control what I write, and I collect my profits. I’d love to have the access to marketing, professional cover design and editing, etc. that a traditionally published author would have, but I think I make a pretty great marketer of my books & I’ve seen terrible editing mistakes in some of the books of the best-selling authors of our time. That’s not to say I’d turn down a huge advance, though!
How would you rate your writing?
I like it. I enjoy writing it, and I’ve enjoyed reading it after the fact. I find it hard to rank it because 1) I’m biased, and 2) there are so many amazing books out there and no two are the same.
How do you react to poor reviews of your book?
Sob like a baby. No, really. We creative types are sensitive! Okay, maybe I don’t really cry, but I do have a sog-fest in my soul for a few days. And then I realize – not everyone is going to like it. That’s okay! I don’t like every book I read, and that’s okay, too. People can be constructive without being mean, but even mean reviews don’t have to bring me down. There are many more people who have read my books that have said they love it, and THEY are my target audience.
What influences your choice of book covers?
Modes of transportation, thus far! A plane, a Jeep (thank you to the local dealership for the borrow, ha!), and then shoes. It was going to be a set of strollers for Sleepless, but alas, the shot never came to fruition. I don’t purchase my shots. I either take them or a friend does. I have no guarantee of my books selling enough copies to warrant a hefty price tag, and the emphasis are the words, not the pictures. Otherwise, this would be a kids’ book, and I could probably just draw it my own self! While I love gorgeous covers, I’ve been tricked by those before.
How do you balance your writing with your real world responsibilities?
With Breathless, it was all I did, it seemed. I came home and wrote while my girls played and ate dinner. I wrote until after midnight, I got up and wrote before work, and I wrote during my lunch break. Twenty-nine days later, I had a novel. With Strapless, I was more lenient on myself and took 4.5 months, though I still busted tail to get it done. With Sleepless, I let the real world get the best of my writing. It took a year and a half nearly, but I finished it. My family comes first, my paycheck comes second, and my writing had to take a backseat. I finished during Camp NaNoWriMo July 2013, writing about 27k words in a week. That’s almost 4k words a day. That week, I let writing take over. I feel like a writing anorexic/bulimic, starving myself of writing for months on end and then gorging myself on words in one sitting.
Do your characters drive the plots of your stories or do you plan out your plot?
I mostly plan out my plots. I have an idea of where I want them to go, what I want the characters to do, but then I let them have their own conversations to get them there. I talk a lot in my car. If you saw me, you’d think I was insane, and maybe I am, because I hold two-sided conversations. I answer myself. I even use accents, if needed.
Do you ever write what you dream? Give an example.
Breathless is based entirely off of a recurring dream. The characters were in my head for so long, living out the plot of the book that I had to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, rather).
Do you market yourself or pay a professional?
I market myself. If anyone wants to throw some help my way, go for it, but there’s no paycheck attached. (Hey, at least I’m honest!)
What are your tips for editing?
Edit as you go, fix what you can, read and re-read, send to your friends, family and/or beta readers, and then send it off into the wind. At some point, you really do have to let it go.
What inspired you to write your current WIP or current published work?
My WIP is inspired by a minor character from the Breathless series. I wanted something that felt entirely different, almost like you’re watching someone else’s dream.
Do you prefer to write stand-alone novels or a series? Why?
Hard to say. Obviously I’ve written a series, but after spending a year and a half on the third book, I’m going to go with stand-alones. I love Carly & Ryan (my characters), but after 2 ½ books, I wanted something fresh and new. I had to really step up their story to make it feel that way, rather than dredging on for the sake of a trilogy. I think too many people try to aim for a three book series. I never intended Breathless to turn into a series, and I doubt I’ll continue past this last book. I’ve read too many books where the third book felt like an old shoe, and I didn’t want Sleepless to feel worn out.
If you could change one thing in the publishing process what would it be?
I would make the bestseller charts transparent. What gets a book to the top of the chart? I mean, are millions of people still buying Fifty Shades each and every week? REALLY?! There are millions more books with far greater value than that, and unless a book somehow catches the eye of a publisher, celebrity, or movie studio, you only ever seem to see it marketed on indie sites.
What advice would you give to a new author?
Never give up. Write like the words are your oxygen.
Share a favourite quote from your book.
This isn’t going to
make any sense until you read the book, but I absolutely loved writing this
ducking wife. Ever.”
I think sometimes we have to get our writing publishing because it deserves it. My book and characters had been bouncing around in my head for years and I never ever though I would be able to write a full length novel but how wrong I was. You're absolutely right...never give up! And now to the books....
Carly and Ryan are married!
But will baby make three before Carly has a chance to come clean about their elopement?
Carly seems like she's got it all - a dream job and a dreamy husband - but she's starting to feel like her dream job is turning into a nightmare. She's feeling incomplete and just needs something... more. With the possibility that she's pregnant, and her lack of enthusiasm for her job, Carly embarks on a career path that she's hoping will leave her fulfilled and feeling like she's done something to leave her mark on the world.
You can find all her books here:
My website is http://beckibrannen.weebly.com
Facebook is www.facebook.com/beckibrannen.authorTwitter is www.twitter.com/beckibrannen