Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Brenda Murphy – Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One was published by NineStar Press. When she is not loitering and writing at her favorite tea shop, she wrangles one dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot.
Thanks so much, Brenda, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Brenda Murphy: My first book took almost a year. I took a few classes on screenwriting and that changed the way outlined my books. I have an effective workflow in place and my last book took three months from rough draft to submission. I do a pretty through outline and write five days a week on average and complete my first draft in about 45 days, then spend the rest of the time editing.
Scott: How long does it take you to write the first draft?
Brenda: I can write a 60,000 first draft in thirty days, I don’t like doing it but I can. I did NaNoWriMo last year and pounded out a 63,000 word draft in thirty days but that is hell. I prefer to take 45 days to draft a novel writing about 1500-2000 words per day.
Scott: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Brenda: Don’t stop. Don’t listen to people who try to squash your dreams. Write. Don’t talk about, do it. Avoid negative people, really, get away from them, far, far away.
Scott: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Brenda: I read my reviews. I have the hide of a rhino so I don’t let the bad ones get to me. If it is a technical complaint the reviewer had, such as story structure, or editing, etc., I use that to look at my work critically. If it is simply about the storyline, character choices, or, mean spirited I let it go. I’m a nurse by training and is my superpower. I make critical decisions, and am responsible for people’s lives, at the end of the day it does not matter to me if someone didn’t like my book.
Scott: What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Brenda: Belief in yourself, the discipline to make time to write. And the desire to tell your stories.
Scott: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
Brenda: Scribble furiously on whatever I have at hand, napkins, paper towels, my arm. If I’m driving I will use voice memo and record my thoughts. My wife is a writer also and will write things down for me if we are driving. We never get in the car without a spiral notebook and pen.
Scott: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
Brenda: Yes. I hated the book limit at the library.
Scott: How long have you been writing?
Brenda: I’ve kept journals and written short stories for most of my life. I started writing and submitting stories with publication in mind in 2012. I had my first short story published in 2015 and I’ve had something published every year since then.
Scott: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
Brenda: I’m a photographer and I indulge myself by scheduling days for photo walks with a dear friend. I most often photograph animals and flowers. I take all of my own photos for my blog so its and is my favorite way to give my head a break from writing.
Scott: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Brenda: I am a plotter. I do character work-ups using Debra Dixon’s Goal/Motivation/Conflict sheets. I then brain storm my story asking myself what ifs. Once that is done I transfer the scenes and ideas to three by five cards, one idea/plot point/ scene per card. I lay out my novel using them as scene cards like a movie. I’m a visual person and my stories always come to me in images. I know most of my scenes are about 1000 words, so I know how many I need to make the novel’s word count. I shuffle the cards until the story flows. After that I enter it into Scrivener and start writing. If I need to do research I use place holders in my drafts and do it afterward, so I don’t get lost down the research rabbit hole.
Scott: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
Brenda: Security guard, switchboard operator, life guard, swim instructor, boating instructor, NCO US Army, medical office assistant, stable hand/groom . I used my time in the Army and my army buddies for Mac’s character in One. I feature horses in all of the Rowan House series novels. My aunt has a horse farm and I spent many summers working with her. She’s cut back now that she is older, but still keeps six horses. The work I do when I visit is what I use for my novels.
Scott: Do your books spring to life from a character first or an idea?
Brenda: Characters first, always, then I put them in situations to see what they would do.
Scott: Where do you like to write?
Brenda: I write in my office or my local tea shop. I can write anywhere, I listen to music while I write so my surroundings don’t matter much as long as I have a flat space for my laptop or notebook.
Scott: What inspired you to write this particular story? What were the challenges in bringing it to life?
Brenda: I wrote Both Ends of the Whip because I fell in love with Octavia, a secondary character in the first book in this series Sum of the Whole. The challenge for me was portraying both sides of her nature, and having that be convincing. It was also challenging working the romance ARC into a ménage love story. So many books featuring ménage are from the point of view of one person joining a couple, this book features a couple falling in love with another person.
Scott: What secondary character would you like to explore more? Tell me about him or her.
Brenda: Sofia, one of the main character’s best friend in Both Ends of the Whip will most likely get a book in the future. She has started exploring her attraction to women in Both Ends of the Whip, and I want to go down that road with her in another book.
Scott: What are you working on now?
Brenda: I am working on another romance set in the Rowan House universe. I decided that one of my favorite characters from the series, Millie deserved a love of her own. I should have the first draft completed by the end of May. It’s a bit of a departure from my usual femdome books but it fits within the over all series of the book.
And now for Brenda’s forthcoming book book: Both Ends of the Whip:
Octavia Vargus had everything she wanted at Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive pleasure house, except the one thing she craved. Longing for the freedom to explore both sides of her nature she leaves Rowan House and her mistress, for a new start in Italy with her partner Bridget Murray.
Vivian Abiola is a connection to a past Octavia would like to forget, and a love she never expected to see again. After Octavia’s past relationship with Vivian is exposed, Octavia and Bridget explore the limits of their desires with Vivian. When an arsonist threatens to destroy the vineyard, past loyalties and secrets endanger their lives, and the three women’s relationship. Will their love survive the firestorm of doubt, intrigue, and jealousy?
Preorder Link (Avail May 4th)
Viviansat behind Martha’s desk. She wore a fitted dress that hugged her slim frame. The low-cut neckline displayed her modest cleavage, and the lilac color set off her amber eyes. She wore her hair close-cropped and natural. A touch of silver shone on some of the curls. Octavia tilted her head, studying her face. The nagging feeling of knowing her was back. Vivian’s skin was only a shade darker than Octavia’s, her features suggesting a complicated heritage. She met Octavia’s gaze with a cool look, and Octavia shivered as Vivian raked her eyes over her frame. Should have changed my clothes, maybe dressed up. Left my hair loose. Where do I know her from?
Bridget was at her side. Her hands were clasped in front of her waist. She was dressed in her starched and pressed chef’s jacket. It gleamed white in stark contrast to Octavia’s outfit of faded jeans and gray T-shirt. The vine tattoos winding around Octavia’s forearms stood out against her dark skin. She sensed Vivian’s gaze lingering on her tattoos. Does she like them? Hate them? I should have put on a long-sleeve shirt. What the hell? Why do I care what she thinks of me? She clasped her hands behind her back and squared her shoulders, setting her feet wide. Her gaze was drawn to the thin gold chain with a tiny gold Magen David centered in the hollow of Vivian’s throat. Lyceum? It can’t be. How the hell could she be here?
Bridget spoke first. “We accept your offer.”
Vivian sat back from the desk. “You’re both sure?”
“Yes.” Octavia pushed the wisp of hair that had worked loose from her braid out of her eyes. “We’ve read through the specifics.”
Vivian lifted her chin, her gaze steady. “I have the contracts here. They are for six months. That should be enough time for all of us to decide if the arrangement is acceptable.” She lifted an elegant black fountain pen from the desk and uncapped it. With a flowing hand she signed her name to each document. She held the pen out, and Octavia walked to the desk. Her fingers brushed against Vivian’s as she took the pen, and a tingle of desire worked its way to her core. Octavia signed her name on the contract. Damn. Get it together. This is trouble. So much trouble. When she was finished, she laid the pen on the desk and she glanced up into Vivian’s intense gaze. The tingle turned into a strong wave of heat. Looking away from Vivian’s eyes, she stepped back.
Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One was published by NineStar Press. When she is not loitering and writing at her favorite tea shop, she wrangles one dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, https://www.brendalmurphy.com/blog.html
Website: www.brendalmurphy.comFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/Writing-While-Distracted
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