Friday, May 21, 2010

Brenda Whiteside

Meet Brenda Whiteside!

1. Brenda's novel, Sleeping with the Lights, on debuts today!!!
Brenda, I read the e-copy in one long sitting because I simply could not put it down. It is an engaging read. Tell HWH about it.

Thank you, Ana. That’s quite a compliment. I had so much fun writing this story. The idea came from a conversation with my sister years ago. She found herself single, again, and bemoaning her latest date night. She was complaining, but we also had quite a few laughs about her single adventures as a divorced woman. I saw a story. My heroine, Sandra Holiday, is not the typical romance heroine. She’s fifty, single, and stuck in a job she’s not happy with. Love seems to have eluded her while the quest for love has sidetracked her from a meaningful career. But she hasn’t given up. And even though she knows what she wants, she’s still vulnerable. She’s on a journey to find love and find it on her terms while always keeping her sense of humor. On the journey, she finds herself.

2. How long did this novel take to write and polish? When did you know/feel it was ready to submit?

I know it sounds odd, but I’m not sure exactly how long. My original idea was for a short story. I was working on some other stories and would come back to it now and then but I couldn’t see how to get to the ending without going on and on. The original short story version had three main characters but as I wrote a few more popped up. I had to let them play their part! Sandra couldn’t get done what she needed to get done in short story style. So I ignored it for months. I think when I finally made the commitment to write Sleeping as a novel, I spent nearly a year. My writing time is limited so I don’t exactly crank out manuscripts. Once my critique partners had seen all the chapters, I wrote “the end”!

3. Did you submit to just the Wild Rose Press? How long did you wait for “the call?”

That’s a funny story. I entered Sleeping in two contests. Shortly after, I had heard good things about The Wild Rose Press. Although I had intended on waiting until I got the contest results back before submitting to publishers, I thought what the heck? I submitted my query to TWRP the first week of April, 2009, and within 3 days had a request for a partial. The complete was requested in May and by the end of June I had a contract. A few days later I got my first contest results back. They ripped me! The second contest results were not quite so bad but I certainly didn’t win any honors. I realized later I had checked the wrong category on the first contest. (What an excuse, right?) But if TWRP had not already offered me a contract, I might have been so crushed that Sleeping would be collecting dust in a drawer to this day.

4. Your website has extremely nice lines, colors and images. Did you design it yourself? If so (or no) what tips can you give about creating avisually pleasing, fast loading, readily expanded website (like yours)?

Thank you. I’m pleased with it. This is my second web site. My husband and I designed and maintained the first one. I would say the site was functional but I wanted something that looked more professional, in my mind anyway. I have writer friends that have designed their own sites and they look great. Not my thing. Enter Rae Monet. She tapped into me – could figure out what I wanted when I could barely verbalize my vision. Plus the time required for maintaining was torture for me. I want to write not fiddle with a web site. I was worse than Oscar the Grouch on web maintenance days.

5. How long have you been writing? Tell us about your journey to publication? Did you enter contests? Take classes? Join a critique group?

All of the above! I’ve always liked to write but I also liked to paint. As a child I received more kudos for my art attempts and as a result art won out for quite a few years. In college, I majored in Commercial Art. Then I took a creative writing class in my early twenties and put my paints away. I’ve taken a couple of other classes since then. I haven’t entered many contests. But I have had better luck with them on my short pieces than I did with Sleeping!
When I moved to Minnesota in 1993, something happened. I have almost a physical response to Minnesota. My creative juices flow – I think I can actually feel them. Honestly! We moved back to Arizona for two years in 2002 and I couldn’t write – juices dried up. Moved back here and I started writing again. Maybe my muse lives here and refuses to move with me. I joined my first critique group in 1995 and will never be without CP’s again. My writing improved leaps and bounds after that. That group didn’t last forever so I found others. I really owe my publications to the ladies that read my work and give me feedback.
I’ve always loved short stories, both reading and writing. For years I didn’t submit them for publication. I wrote my first book nearly ten years ago. I have quite a hefty pile of rejections from agents as well as publishers for my first attempt. After that, I concentrated on short stories again and have published in both e-zine and some small publications. Joining Romance Writers of America and our local chapter, Midwest Fiction Writers, has had an impact on my writing. I learn from other writers and the information available about the business of writing helped me get published. The craft of writing is a solitary endeavor and organizations like RWA and MFW are valuable beyond words.

6. What are your top five tips to share with aspiring authors?
1. Write, write, write – even if only for 15 minutes in the morning before your day job. Don’t use lack of time for an excuse.
2. Join a critique group or find a critique partner who will give you detailed, honest feedback
3. Submit but make sure you are submitting to a magazine, agent, publisher, etc. that accepts your genre. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and getting rejections for the wrong reason.
4. Join appropriate professional organizations like RWA and MFW.
5. Write, write, write!!

7. What are you working on now and how is it going?

My current project is a 1945 Historical Romance. I have always romanticized that era, watched old movies growing up. My mom would sing around the house all the time – those wonderful big band songs. She’s been a huge help with my research. Although this book is quite different from Sleeping, there’s still that common thread I find myself always writing about – self discovery. In Sleeping, Sandra took the journey as a woman of experience. In my current manuscript, my heroine is young and inexperienced but still groping her way on that same journey. I’m within 3 or 4 chapters of having a completed manuscript, but then will dive into the editing process. And I’m really antsy to have it finished and start submitting. My next two books are simmering and I can’t wait to get them down on paper, er, typed into the computer! I’ll be back to contemporary romance.

Excerpt from 'Sleeping with the Lights On':
After two failed marriages and countless relationships, Sandra Holiday thinks she’s met the man to end her years of less than perfect choices; choices that not only derailed her travel-related career plans but also left her single and broke.

Carson Holiday, a Las Vegas country crooner with swoon-inducing good looks, spent his adult life pursuing a recording contract and love, never holding on to either. After eighteen years, he drops back into Sandra’s life, reigniting an attraction he can’t deny.

When Carson reappears, Sandra must choose again. Only this time, nothing’s as it seems. A secret admirer, a redheaded stalker, and an eccentric millionaire throw her on a dangerous path, with Carson her only truth.

As life confronts her with yet another turning point, will her decisions find her eternally sleeping with the lights on – or will she finally discover a way to turn them off?
Thank you, Ana, for the opportunity. I had fun!

Brenda has been writing all of her life in one way or another from the captions on her childish artwork to teenage psychedelic scrolls to her current novel.

After publishing several short stories, she turned to writing novels. Regardless of the length of her story, the characters drive her forward, taking her on their journey of discovery and love.

Her life is blessed with three creative soul mates. Her son, a singer/song writer lives in a far off western town in the pines. She lives in Minnesota, a nature wonderland that captured her heart seventeen years ago, with her husband, an excellent photographer, and their dog Rusty, who creates joy (and is the smartest dog in the world).

Visit Brenda at
Or on FaceBook:


  1. Welcome Brenda!

    Thanks for joining us today. It's always great to meet a fellow Rose!

    I have had such a wonderful experience with Wild Rose...I hope you do too! Congrats on your release!

  2. Thank you, Debra. Wild Rose has been great. They have a good network for authors.

  3. Welcome to TWRP, I am so glad they decided to contract you. It just proves not everyone will love your story, but a lot of people will.
    So the best of luck!

  4. Great interview, and congratulations, Brenda! It's a big day. Enjoy it.

  5. Thank you, Mary and Tamara. I appreciate the time you took to stop by.

  6. Hi Brenda,

    just popped in to say hello and good luck with your book it sounds great. hope you have a fun day


  7. Congratulations on your release and welcome to TWRP! It's a great place to be!

  8. Hey Hollie - you made it by. Thanks.

    Susan - Yes, it is. Thanks.

  9. Congrats! I look forward to reading it.

  10. Congratulations on your release! I love your tips to the authors. I believe in them, too.


  11. Thanks Gale and Angela. Finding time to write is a chore at times. But oh so worth it!

  12. Thanks for joining us today at HWH, Brenda,and congrats on your contract.
    I love your advice to writers, especially 'write, write, write' (even if you delete the whole lot the next day!). Also agree with you about critique partners- my two main CPs have really helped me to tighten up my writing, and also to think things though!

  13. I just turned 50 in April and I think it is so refreshing to see a book with a 50-year-old heroine and not the mother of the heroine. Or--egads! A grandmother in the story!

    I'm putting this on my must read list!

  14. You're welcome and thank you, Paula. Yes, I totally agree - even if you throw it all out the next day. Get those creative juices flowing! And my CPs are valuable beyond words.

    Lilly, I'm glad you think so. I have a couple of books simmering on the back burner with older heroines - but 50 really isn't "older"! I'm anxious to get started on them - not enough hours in the day.

  15. Congrats on the new release, Brenda.

  16. Thank you, Toni. Thanks for dropping by.

  17. Congrats on the release, Brenda. I love older heriones and this sounds like a great summer read.

    LOL. On the non-traveling muse. Funny. Mine has it's bags packed and waits for me, especially in AZ. LOL.

    Wishing you mega sales. AJ

  18. The traveling muse. Could be your next book? Thanks for the well wishes, AJ.

  19. Good interview, Brenda.
    And congrats on being pubbed with Wild Rose Press. I know of several personal writer-friends who are pubbed with them (and I used to be copy-reader for them-lol) so I know they're a wonderful 'house' to be with.

    I was interested to see that you're writing a 1945 period historical novel. I also love that time period and have a nearly completed novel. I so enjoyed doing the research for that period too.

    We share the same website designer with Rae - isn't she just great?

    Congratulations on your release. I enjoyed your interview so much too. We have so much talent in Minnesota, don't we?
    Nancy Schumacher

  20. Congratulations Brenda!
    What a wonderful time for you. Enjoy!
    Nancy Evertz
    writing as Nan Dixon

  21. Seemed like a good idea to check in again and glad I did. Thank you Nancy S and nice things to hear about TWRP. And yes, Rae is great.

    And thank you, Nancy E.