Brenda will be awarding one commenter at every stop a digital download of her new short story, Father of the Bride?, the first in The Wild Rose Press’s Dearly Beloved series, and one randomly drawn commenter on the tour will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. To be entered for a chance to win, leave an e-mail address with your comment here, and at any of the other stops.
A writer all her life, Brenda Gayle returned to her love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications—although some might argue there is plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. She holds a Master's degree in journalism and an undergraduate degree in psychology. A fan of many genres, Brenda is drawn to contemporary romance and enjoys creating deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense.
Welcome, Brenda. Please tell us about your current release.
The Doubting Heart is the second book in my Heart’s Desire series. The series follows the trials and tribulations of three cousins as they try to navigate the minefield of their family’s expectations to find their own path to love and happiness.
During the first book, The Hungry Heart, a fourth cousin disappears during a research project on a ranch in southern New Mexico. This becomes the catalyst for The Doubting Heart. The heroine, Shelby Holt, knows she can’t trust her heart, but when she meets the new ranch hand she doubts she can trust her head either. He looks uncannily like her mentor and best-friend, a man she respected and adored—a man she believes was murdered.
Chad Graham, burned by love and war, is not quite what meets the eye. Posing as Chad Greene, he’s come to Wildhorse Pass, New Mexico, to investigate the woman making wild claims about the death of his cousin. Can the official reports be wrong? Or is Shelby trying to ingratiate herself with his wealthy family? He knows she’s hiding something. But then, so is he.
In close proximity, despite the danger, sensual attraction simmers and deception deepens. Because the closer Shelby and Chad get to one another, the closer they get to the answer...and the closer they get to danger—until Shelby herself becomes the target of a killer.
What inspired you to write this book?
The Doubting Heart was originally called Wildhorse Pass, and the title came to me when I misread a sign while driving along a highway on the Bruce Peninsula, in Ontario. I thought “hey, that’s a neat name for a place,” and started to wonder about what type of place it would be and what would go on there. I don’t know what sort of mood I was in but I kept thinking about doubting your senses and mistaken identity, and slowly a plot formed.
After I had written it, though, I felt something was missing. It didn’t seem to be enough. My thoughts kept returning to the “other” stuff that influenced the characters, but wasn’t fleshed out in the book—specifically the dynamics of the larger Graham family that had alienated both the hero, Chad, and his cousin, Michael, thus leading to the incidents around which the book was based. I could see a larger story arc forming as I began to consider the stories of Chad’s two cousins—Hunter and Anna. And the more I worked through an overarching plot, the more I realized book made most sense as the second installment in a series I named Heart’s Desire. I then wrote what became the first book in the series, The Hungry Heart, and significantly revised Wildhorse Pass, renaming it The Doubting Heart.
Shelby lowered her gaze, allowing it to linger on his hips, admiring the way the faded denim gently hugged the firm, rounded buttocks before falling over what she imagined were strong, powerful thighs. Then he raised his head and she was treated to a glorious view of glistening droplets of water coursing down his back, past where his waist narrowed, to disappear beneath the waistband of his jeans.
Wow! The word reverberated through her mind and her skin glowed warm at the sight. She smiled, bemused by her reaction to the unknown man.
Well, it has been a while and there’s nothing wrong with looking.
He shook his head and turned towards her. The shimmering spray momentarily impeded her view of his face, then the mist fell away and everything began to move in slow motion. Her gut twisted painfully and she gasped for air.
“Hello,” he said, moving towards her, not seeming the least bit self-conscious about finding himself the object of her stare.
It can’t be! Her mind tried to make sense of what she was seeing.
He was taller, heavier—in all the right places—younger. His hair was a darker brown and longer. He was unshaven, an affectation she generally abhorred, but on him the dark stubble added an unexpected measure of sensual intrigue. The line of his chin was stronger, too, and his mouth lacked the self-deprecating smile. But his eyes.… Dark swaths of eyebrow added to their intensity and she couldn’t look away from their penetrating gray stare. Oh God, he has Michael’s eyes!
What exciting story are you working on next?
At the moment, I am finishing the third book in the Heart’s Desire series, tentatively titled The Forsaken Heart. This concludes the original story arc and wraps up a bunch of loose ends from The Hungry Heart and The Doubting Heart. I am exploring storylines for other characters in the series, so look for more in this series.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a very interesting question. I received my first publication credit when I was 14 and our city newspaper ran a half-page article I wrote about our high school band trip to Whitehorse, Yukon. I studied journalism and worked in corporate communications for over 20 years, where I became quite accustom to seeing my byline on articles and commentaries. Writing fiction, however, is quite different—more personal. I’d always written short stories for myself, but it was a friend who suggested I tackle a larger work and try to get it published. Although I had been making my living by writing for over 20 years, it wasn’t until the publication of my first book, Soldier for Love, in 2008, that I finally felt I was a writer.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I treat my writing like a job where I’m at my computer five days a week, otherwise it’s too easy for competing priorities to creep in (such as laundry and housework). I wake up at six so I have time for coffee (which my husband makes each morning) before driving my daughter to her school bus at seven. I then wake up my son, have breakfast with him and send him off to school by eight. I’m usually up in my office shortly afterwards and review my email before I start writing. I’m at my best in the morning so that’s when I write. I’ll write until noon and stop for lunch. I don’t have a word count I aim for, but I generally try to complete a full scene before I stop. If I’m on a roll, I’ll return to writing for a few hours in the afternoon, but usually I have too many other things to do: bills, promo, volunteer work, appointments, etc. My son gets home around three, my husband at four, and then I get my daughter from her bus at four-thirty. Evenings and weekends are pretty busy chauffeuring the kids to various activities so I don’t even try to write at those times. This is the (un)glamorous life of a writer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I need to write in chronological order. Even if I’m stuck on a scene and have great ideas for a later one, I can’t just skip over the problem scene and come back to it later. I will slog through it until it’s done. I may seriously rework it in revisions, but I need to get the essence of it down before moving on. I don’t tend to re-read books either and I think both quirks are related to my desire to keep moving forward. If I know what’s happened, I don’t necessarily want to go back and revisit how it came about.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
My first memory of what I wanted to be when I grew up is a teacher. I used to play school in my bedroom, imparting great wisdom to my dolls and other stuffed animals. I then became quite interested in personality and thought I’d like to be a psychologist. I went to university and received an undergraduate degree in that discipline and came away with the knowledge that I didn’t want to be a psychologist. After a lot of soul-searching, I decided to follow my passion for writing—something I’d secretly hoped to do but hadn’t had the courage to pursue up to that point.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Lisa. Like most of your followers, I am an avid reader, but also a very fickle one. Romance is one of my favorite genres, but not my only passion. I love biographies, historicals, and women’s fiction, among others. I’d love to know what type of books others are into. Do you stick primarily with one genre or do you read many? Have you read any good books you’d recommend?
You're quite welcome, Brenda. Folks, don't forget to leave a comment here and at any other tour stops for a chance to win the gift certificate!
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