Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I have a BA in English/Writing from Clemson University. While creative writing has
always been my first love, the media has been my home for more than 17 years, during
which time I’ve built a strong platform that includes articles in Delta Sky magazine,
Greenville Business Magazine, Columbia Business Monthly, and Home Design & Décor magazine (Charlotte, Triangle). I have also worked in corporate communications,
marketing, public relations and business development for several regional and
international companies. At age 35, I finally embraced my true calling as a novelist and
began writing the first draft of what is now my debut release MEANT TO BE BROKEN.
I am a member of RWA and YARWA as well as a number of online romance-inspired
When I’m not writing, reading, or spending time with my husband and three kids, I also
enjoy kayaking, family hikes, yelling “Go Tigers!” as loud as I can during football
season, playing the piano and taking “naked” Jeep Wrangler cruises on twisty, country
How do you make time to write?
I didn’t for the longest time, which is why it took me 10 years to write my first book after
the inspiration struck. I don’t make that mistake anymore. Life gets busy with the kids, a
husband that’s often away from home, and two businesses under my belt, but I’ve learned to take time where I can get it. My favorite place to write (and where I wrote most of MEANT TO BE BROKEN) is the school car line. I go early, park out front and have an hour or two for focused writing time. In the car line, there’s no laundry or dishes or
countless other chores calling my name. It’s just me and my notebook.
Honestly, though, I also have to give credit to my family. They are so supportive. They
understand this is my passion, and they are terrific about giving me the time I need to
steal away and write in private when inspiration is really kicking into high gear.
How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?
I wrote an entire blog on my path to publication for MEANT TO BE BROKEN, which
you can find here: http://brandywsnow.com/the-long-and-winding-road-to-publication-installment-1-a-timeline-of-meant-to-be-broken/. It gives a comprehensive look at the
process, from first inspiration to THE CALL.
But to give a quick summary, I did receive rejections on MEANT TO BE BROKEN. I’d
lie if I said they didn’t sting. They do, and there’s no getting around that. But for me, that
was the trick. So many people tell you to shrug off the rejection and consider it one step
closer. And that’s true to a certain degree, but I don’t recommend just shrugging it off.
Sure the industry is highly subjective, and in most cases you’ll get that “it’s not you, it’s
me” explanation after the “no thanks,” but there’s nothing wrong with taking a moment
to FEEL the rejection. Scream. Yell. Cry. Go to the gym and beat on the heavy bag for a
while. Let it out, get in touch with that negative outflow and then harness it and repurpose it—pour it back into your drive to continue onwards, to find success.
Can you tell us your story of getting “THE CALL”?
I got THE EMAIL—the one that led to THE CALL—in July 2017. I was standing in the
checkout line at a local department store, waiting to pay for a fab new pair of shoes when the email notification dinged and appeared on my phone screen. I opened it immediately and cried—tears rolling sort of crying—in the middle of everything.
THE CALL was incredible. A small press publisher, Filles Vertes Publishing, had read
my manuscript and was completely taken. The owner, Myra Fiacco, shared my vision for
it and had a plan moving forward. I loved the fact they were open to my being an active
part in the process, even allowing my input on the final cover design. It took a month to
negotiate contract specifics and call in other outstanding submissions. In the end, I knew
FVP was the perfect place for my book, and I officially signed the contract in August
What are you working on at the minute?
I think for the moment the question might be what am I not working on? LOL I’m in one
of those unique spaces of time where I’m able to see the industry from several different
angles all at once. While I’m promoting the release of my debut YA contemporary
romance, I’m also busy writing the sequel and another WIP that just won’t leave me
alone (I’ve tried to put it aside until I’m finished with the other one but it just won’t go!).
I’m also once again in the trenches, querying another standalone YA contemporary
romance and am an acting mentor in the #WriteMentor program, helping two mentees
polish their manuscripts for the upcoming agent round in September.
It’s busy, but I love it and wouldn’t have it any other way. And I’m excited to be able to
give a little back to the writing community that has been so good to me.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I love book trailers if they’re done right. I think they are essential, especially in cases like
mine where I’m trying to reach the YA market. The younger generations have been
raised on technology and the ease of access to visual information on social media
platforms. Trailers are a perfect way to tap into that vein.
My book trailer was done by Brando Jones Films. I wanted something a little more
cinematic, and they came through with flying colors, planning and putting together a
small production piece that captured MEANT TO BE BROKEN with such style and
You can see the trailer for MEANT TO BE BROKEN here:
How do you relax?
Oh, lots of ways! Spending time with family is my number one, closely followed by a
long hot bath with a good book. I also have to plug my favorite product, the Spoonk Mat,
which is a therapeutic acupuncture mat that I lay on to alleviate stress and anxiety.
Other than that, I’d have to say a trip to the SC coast always works wonders, too, with
heartaches and all being healed by the sea.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Three things jump to mind immediately.
Find your tribe. A healthy group of critique partners is a necessity to get your manuscript polished to perfection. They’re also great for rooting you on during querying, consoling you during rejections, and cheering you on when that Call does come in.
Read in your genre and then read some more. I know you’ve heard this advice before. It’s
true. The truest true that ever was true. Just do it!
Never give up. Rejection is a part of the process, but what determines our success is our
ability to keep going in the face of adversity. I love to recall this quote from Oliver
Goldsmith: “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.”
Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?
I do my best to stay active on a range of social media platforms and on my website’s
blog. I’ve also just started a fledgling YouTube channel to begin posting vlogs soon. Find
me at any of the below:
Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share with us?
Absolutely! The book is told in a dual POV from both the female (Rayne) and male
(Gage) protagonist. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s opening in Rayne’s POV. I love
these opening lines because they hint at the relationship to come, they give you a good
sense of the small town Southern setting and they set-up the conflict Rayne will face
with her Mama.
At 9:30 Saturday morning, I find out Preston Howard wants to date me. At 11:30, my mama hears it from old lady McAlister and has a “spell” in aisle three of the Piggly Wiggly. It’s taken seventeen years, but I finally understand the two things my social life and Mama have in common. They’re both erratic and one usually suffers because of the other.
The store manager calls me on my cell and asks me to come get her. He has my number
because he’s Daddy’s best friend’s brother and used me to babysit his kids a few times last year. I answer, expecting another job offer.
“Rayne? This is Dave Sullivan, you know, the manager down at the Piggly Wiggly? There’s been an incident with your mama.”
Apparently, it’d happened in front of the Luzianne tea bags. She was comparing the family size to smaller ones when Mrs. McAlister offered her a coupon… and a piece of news.
The details get a little sketchy from there—something about her sinking to the floor and
gasping for air. That’s when the manager came over with one of those small brown paper sacks they use to bag up ice cream and had her breathe in it. A nurse and a vet, both in the crowd assembled around her, agreed from their varied medical expertise it didn’t appear to be life-threatening. When the paper bag seemed to work, he decided to call me instead of the ambulance.
I pull into the parking lot ten minutes later. She’s sitting on the front bench beside the
automatic doors where the employees go to smoke, under the “I’m Big on the Pig!” sign. Mrs. McAlister sits beside her, a little too close, waving a folded-up circular in her face. I wonder what the store employees and shoppers think of me, casually parking the car, walking-not-running, and looking both ways before crossing the main traffic flow. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out they’re all watching from between the weekly specials scribbled on the plate-glass windows.
I don’t feel the need to rush. It isn’t a heart attack or stroke. I call it her bipolar though Daddy gets mad when I refer to it like that. The diagnosis is anxiety, better known as my evil little sister—always around, always a pain, and always ruining my life.
This sort of episode has happened before, just not too often in public. In most societies that’s considered good news—but not in the South. They say we don’t hide our crazy, we dress it up and parade it on the front porch. And even if we don’t, someone else will do the parading for us—telegraph, telephone, tell-a-southern woman. We know how to reach out and touch some people.
Mrs. McAlister jumps up from the bench and grabs my arm as I step up on the curb. “I
suwannee, child. She liked to turned over her buggy and spilt them groceries everywhere.”
Talking to some of the older ladies in town always feels like walking out of real life and into some part ofSteel Magnolias. She gives me her version of the sordid details. Mama created quite a scene, not just with her episode but also by her scandalous choice of groceries. The mayonnaise was the only casualty, rolling out the leg hole of the kiddie seat portion of the cart when Mama accidentally gave it a rough shove while collapsing on the linoleum.
Mrs. McAlister hadn’t bothered to pick that up and put it back in the buggy, which was now waiting by the customer service desk. It wasn’t Dukes Mayonnaise. She leans in close to whisper because how embarrassing would that be for Mama. To her, it’s further proof Mama hadn’t been feeling well.