Megan's 5 star rated Contemporary Romance

Thursday, 8 March 2012

A Warm Welcome to Brenda Whiteside
First a little about Brenda
Convinced she was born to be an artist, Brenda never took her love of writing seriously. And then one day, sometime after college, after marrying a man doing a stint in the army and the birth of her son, she found more satisfaction filling a blank page with words than an empty canvas with color. She left her paints behind. 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.

Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their home with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.
Visit Brenda at www.brendawhiteside.com to view all her published short stories and books

BUY
Her recent book Honey on White Bread is available from Melange books. Here's the blurb:

When seventeen-year-old Claire Flanagan is wrenched from her father and deposited at the Good Shepherd’s Home for Wayward Girls, all dreams for Hollywood stardom are lost. But when twenty-year-old Benjamin Russell helps secure her release, she starts to believe in a happy future with him…until she discovers his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.

In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life. 

Brenda Reveals:
From where do you get inspiration and what inspired you to write Honey on White Bread?
My inspiration comes from the people who populate my life. The inspiration may come from a family member, a friend or a person I ran into at the grocery story. I like a good setting and interesting twists in a story, but first and foremost I have to start with a character. The story isn’t necessarily about that person. For instance, Honey On White Bread was inspired by my mother. She grew up in the 30s and 40s, and I grew up listening to stories of her life. My heroine, Claire, shares some similar experiences, but once I started writing, Claire developed her own unique story.

In a couple of sentences, describe the hero’s character.  What do you like best/least about him?Benjamin Russell is admirable, determined to do what’s right for his family, and single minded in pursuit of a better life – not only for himself but for his mother and siblings. If I was a 1945 woman, his manliness would be swoon-inducing. As a woman of today, the line he draws between what is expected of a man and his expectations of a woman might drive me a little nuts.

And the heroine? How do you relate to her?

Claire Russell begins the story as a mature young woman but is a little starry-eyed. She matures over the course of the book into a loving, strong woman. I can relate to her in her battle to balance her desire for an acting career and the career of marriage. Even by today’s standards, trying to have it all requires some sacrifice.

What do you most enjoy about writing romance?
To tell the truth, I didn’t intend on writing romance when I started writing. Back then, I didn’t categorize the stories in my head. My intention was to write about people and relationships with all the entanglements. What I came to realize is romance figures into every story. Love makes the world go round and all those other love clich├ęs. That is what I enjoy – telling the story of relationships because without them, no matter what else is going on, we’re pretty lonely, boring people without love.

What do you like best and least about writing?

Writing is what I love about writing. I love words and language. Putting them down in an order that is entertaining to someone besides me is so rewarding. Promotion is what I least like. Unfortunately, if I don’t promote no one will know I’ve written a story that might be entertaining. And all the while I’m promoting, I could be writing. But can’t have one without the other!

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Write everyday for any amount of time you can. I’ve only recently been able to work at writing fulltime. When I worked, I would get up fifteen minutes early and that was my writing time. Honey On White Bread was written almost entirely in fifteen minute segments. But even if you aren’t working on a book, write everyday – write something, anything. It keeps your juices flowing.

How do you like to spend your free time?
If I could choose (that means forget household chores, grocery shopping, blah, blah), I would be at a movie or play, riding behind my husband on the motorcycle or sitting with good friends over a bottle of red wine and good conversation.
 

What is your culinary speciality?
I make a mean pot roast. The trick is to do it on top of the stove. And you have to start by dredging your meat in flour and seasonings, then browning it. After you brown it, take it out of the pan and brown the cut side of your potatoes in the same oil. Be sure to dip the cut side of the potatoes in the same flour and seasoning. Do not peel the potatoes. Add back the roast, carrots and water and cook  several hours until the roast about falls apart and the water is thickened from the flour off the meat and potatoes.
Now for a Taste of Honey on White Bread:

EXCERPT ONE
We let the screen door slam behind us and turned into the kitchen in time to see Benjamin lift his mother from the floor and spin around twice.
 
“You stop that, Benjamin Willis. Man or no, I can take a hand to your hide, if I need to.” Her hands flailed gently at his chest.
 
He laughed as he set her down, steadying her before letting go. Taut muscles on the back of his arms flexed with the effort; his deep laugh filled the kitchen. I couldn’t help being drawn into this entirely pleasant scene, comical and radiating warmth, inviting me to take part in their joy. His mother snatched a dishtowel from the counter and swiped at his legs.
 
“Hold off now. I give, I give.” He withdrew what appeared to be a check from his back pocket.
 
Mrs. Russell accepted the paper without comment and stuffed it into the frayed pocket of her red checked apron. He kissed her on the forehead, took the bottle of beer she offered him and leaving the kitchen, nodded in my direction.
 
I sniffed the sweat of hard work and the yeasty smell of beer as he passed by. My head reeled for a moment with the warmth of the kitchen and the people within, combined with the essence of what I labeled man.

EXCERPT TWO
 
My gaze lingered on Benjamin. His smile was tepid, his blue eyes veiled, as he politely applauded. The only one I cared about pleasing gave me nothing. I briefly curtsied for the judges, flashed my Hollywood smile at each of them and strolled off the stage. I glanced back over my shoulder before sliding behind the curtain. On second look, Benjamin’s smile was crooked, warm and he was still watching me. Perhaps I was making something of nothing, still, hope swelled in my chest.
 
“You knocked their socks off, Claire.”
 
“Thanks, Kevin.”
 
“I’ll be watching you in the movies some day.”
 
Doubt loomed.
 
That’s what I wanted, wasn’t it? I felt at home on the stage. There were no nerves, and I liked to wow the judges. Could I compare the thrill of being a Hollywood star with the thrill of a future with Benjamin Willis Russell as my real life leading man? The bright lights of Hollywood paled in comparison to his blue eyes. I leaned my elbows on my knees with my head in my hands.
 
“Don’t be nervous.” Kevin leaned down to whisper in my ear. “I have a feeling you have them all in the palm of your hand.”
 
All? Benjamin was barely at my fingertips. Hollywood fame seemed more attainable. Maybe I didn’t have to choose. I bolted upright. The solution appeared to be easy enough. I calmed myself with the rationale I could have it all. A decision to choose between Benjamin and a career didn’t need to be made right then, if at all.
Follow the rest of Brenda's blog tour
  LINKS: You can find Brenda at her website and on Facebook PLUS she blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at http://rosesofprose.blogspot.com and occasionally on her personal blog http://brendawhiteside.blogspot.com/ 
BUY at Melange Books  Amazon  AllRomanceeBooks
Thank you so much for having me today, Megan. You ask some tough questions! Hope everyone found something of interest.
We found plenty of interest! Great to meet you and I wish you huge success with Honey on White Bread.
Leave a comment for the chance to win this prize:    Brenda will be giving away a 1940's double feature night at the movies which will consist of two DVD movies from the era starring the movie idols the heroine mentions often in the book - one Betty Grable movie and one Tyrone Power movie - plus popcorn and a box of candy to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour (US/Canada only please).

26 comments:

  1. Good morning all. Great to be here on Megan's lovely blog. Thanks for organizing, GFP.

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  2. Great to hear about Brenda's feelings on this book.

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  3. You need to thank your mom for giving you the basis of such a wonderful story. Ben is a swoon-inducing hero and you can't help but root for him. You can only hope Claire figures things out and ends up in the arms of her leading man. I do my roast on the stovetop too, and it's better than the oven or crockpot.

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    1. Mom is thrilled. Believe me. Thanks, Jody.

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  4. Brenda, love your idea about browning the potatoes before putting them in the pot roast. I'll definitely try that one! For such a young heroine, you did a great job of "maturing" Claire. With her age, this could have been a teen romance but had much more depth.

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    1. I'm glad to hear you say that about Claire. A couple of people thought I should market it as teen romance but I felt the story was more of a women's novel. But I suppose teens could read it too.

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  5. I really want to read Honey on White Bread. It sounds great. And so does your pot roast

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  6. Hi Jenny. Thanks! For a simple meal, it's pretty good.

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  7. Great post, Brenda. Love the pot roast recipe. Now I'm hungry...

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  8. Thanks, Vonnie. Yeah, I'm thinking that too.

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  9. Love the way you portray the heroine, Claire, in Honey on White Bread. She sounds a really strong woman

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    1. Whoops. Didn't reply directly but thanks.

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  10. What is it today with food...think I need to go have lunch, but just wanted to add that I love your book. Honey of White Bread- great title!

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  11. I now have Honey on White Bread moving up the TBR pile! It's so fun to read about all your influences and the things you love. I think this sounds just delightful. And pot roast is one our all time favorite meals. I have to admit to moving away from the stove top because I'm the world's laziest cook and the crock pot is my friend. But I may have to go back and remember how good your way is ;-)

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    1. Good to see your pile is moving, Liz. I have trouble finding the time to read but sure love to.

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  12. Thank you, Megan. I'm glad she comes off that way.

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  13. It's late at night and I've gotten hungry reading your post--pot roast, honey, white bread. YUM. Thanks for sharing today.

    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

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    1. Thanks, Catherine. Go to bed and have a good breakfast in the morning!

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  14. Thanks, Megan for a great day on your blog. Nighty-night!

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  15. Brenda Whiteside his written another amazing book, HONEY ON WHITE BREAD. The book unfolds with Claire Flanagan, a senior in high school, with strawberry colored gold hair, doing what seniors have to do to succeed, having friends, especially a best friend named Paulie Russell.
    Claire and her dad lived in Phoenix, Arizona during the 1940's in a rented house in the Mulberry Shade Cabin Court, without a mother she never knew. Her mother existed only in her mind, created from what little her daddy told her combined with an old faded snapshot.
    Of course, Claire has the inevitable crush on Paulie's brother, Ben Russell. Paulie and Ben lived with their mother and their brother, David. Their drunken dad had abandoned his family years ago. Claire has an admirer of her own, Arnold Smith, and she was the envy of every girl in school, due to Arnold's handsome good looks and popularity. Claire liked him as a friend but nothing more. Claire only had eyes for Benjamin.
    Another character in the book was a nosy landlady, Mrs. Snyder, who was always keeping a watch on the Flanagan's.
    With young love abounding, one awful night everything changed for Claire and without giving a reader a spoiler, she was sent to Good Shepherd's Home for Wayward Girls. What happened to her after that is very suspenseful. Will she choose between two young men, Arnold or Benjamin? Will she stay best friends with Paulie? Will her father come through in helping her recover from the disaster and how will she regain her youthful dreams?
    Reading Brenda Whiteside's HONEY ON WHITE BREAD is the only way to find out the truth. I highly recommend everyone reading Brenda's book, if you want an amazing read. She also wrote SLEEPING WITH THE LIGHTS ON, another fascinating book.
    Thanks!
    Rebecca
    rbooth3(at)yahoo(dot0com

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  16. Nice blog. As a lover of words you might be interested in the word play involved in cryptic crosswords. I am doing a series of posts on solving cryptic clues. This was the first one I did. http://caroleschatter.blogspot.co.nz/2012/01/cryptic-crosswords-solving-hints-1.html Hope you enjoy.

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  17. Do you really know someone who was at the Good Shephred's home in Phoenix? I am looking for information on a resident from the early to mid 1960's. Any help would be appreciated.

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  18. I received this message:
    Brenda Whiteside17 April 14:24

    My mom was there for a few weeks only. She lived alone with her dad and someone thought that was indecent so they took her away from him for a short time. When I wrote my book, I used that. I tried to get some info on the place but hit dead ends. I had to use what little she remembered, what I remembered from driving by the place and my imagination. Sorry I'm not more help. Good luck. Brenda

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