Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Brandy Heineman

April 10, 2017 Author Interview, Brandy Heineman, Christian, giveaway 76

It’s always a good day when friends stop by the blog for a chat, and on my SECOND BLOGIVERSARY (wow!) I’m especially delighted that my friend Brandy Heineman is here!! She’s super sweet and hilarious, and I’m blessed to know her!

Brandy Heineman writes dual timeline novels from a Christian world view. Her passion for genealogy occasional inspires hare-brained schemes like a five-county research trip in a rented Mustang, but she usually sticks to sharing vignettes and research tidbits on her blog. Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, was a 2014 ACFW Genesis finalist and released the following year from Elk Lake Publishing. She currently serves as the Vice President of the ACFW North Georgia chapter, and she is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Brandy and her husband, Michael, reside in the metro Atlanta area with their two demanding yet hilarious kitties. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at brandyheineman.com.

Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, is a time-slip novel released from Elk Lake Publishing.

Tending a void in her heart that demands to be filled, Abby Wells uproots her life in Ohio to move into the ancestral home in Georgia. Now that her mom is gone, it’s her best chance to connect with the last of her family, and she can’t deny the pull of the supposedly haunted house.

The seductive comfort of believing that ghosts could be real drives her search, but Aunt Ruby’s plans for Abby don’t include revealing secrets kept for seventy years. Oh, there’s dirty laundry she’d like to air—just not her own.

Indulging in the attentions of the house’s handsome caretaker helps numb her pain, but Abby’s ex-boyfriend won’t let go of the past. He hounds her about his newfound religion in hopes of reconciling, but why reach for him or the God who couldn’t or wouldn’t spare her mom? In the stillness of the old house, the spirit world feels so close she can almost touch it. But she doesn’t know yet that there’s more than one way to be haunted.

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Hi, my friend! I’m so honored to be chatting with you today!

Brandy: Thank you for having me, Carrie! Thrilled to be here!

I start all of my guests out with a fast four:

apples or oranges

Brandy: Oranges! Delicious, easier to peel, sections, and navels! No contest!

Carrie: But… but … apples.

winter or summer

Brandy: Summer, absolutely. In the Southeast, snow is fun almost as long as it takes to melt a marshmallow in hot cocoa. After that it’s just milk, bread, and staying in until the roads are clear. Besides, summer has never stranded my husband overnight at a QuikTrip. I’m looking at you, Winter Storm 2014.

Carrie: hahahaha! Oh no! (Is it too soon to laugh at that?)

dogs or cats

Brandy: Cats! (Sorry, Zuzu!) Nature or nurture? I don’t know, but I’ve had kitties since I was a little girl and I’ve always been more attuned to their aloof companionship and almost-begrudging affection. We have two senior girls—a sleepy cuddler and a scheming entertainer!

Carrie: Zuzu says, “Well at least she apologized” 😉

coffee or tea

Brandy: Tea works as a remedy for rainy days, sore throats, and pensive moods. Coffee solves the somewhat more urgent “coherent wakefulness” issue.

Carrie: lol truth.

Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?

Brandy: I do have a superpower, and it is making chicken fajitas. We don’t all have to be Elastigirl, you know?

Carrie: uh…. YUM. I’m coming back to ATL in May, ya know. Just sayin’…

Books are kind-of a big deal around here. Other than the Bible, what are five of your most cherished books?

Brandy: The nostalgia vote wins the day on this one! In no special order:

Sam’s Clan, by Betty A. Bertrand. The head librarian of the Potter County Historical Society in Coudersport, Pennsylvania, gave me an original copy of this unpublished 1979 genealogy of descendants of Samuel Baker. I love that this piece of my family history made it into my hands!

The Best Loved Poems of the American People, Doubleday, 1936. I pilfered this anthology from my mother when I was about eight. Fun fact: this book contains the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll, which I memorized for a school-wide talent show in fifth grade. Twenty-mumble years later, I can still recite the whole thing.

Sharing Our Best, a church cookbook my mom helped put together some years ago, gets points for sentimentality and practicality. I love it for her hard work, and some of the recipes are real winners!

Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Gramercy Books, 1996. My high school creative writing teacher worked to introduce “the writing life” to his students. His classroom featured a nook for critique group sessions, and its air was always rich with freshly brewed coffee. We even took a couple of field trips to live poetry readings. He once remarked that writers should invest in a good unabridged dictionary, and even now, I agree. Internet dictionaries are convenient—I use them all the time—but they’re no fun compared to flipping pages and let word associations unfurl.

Finally, since I love fiction, I’ll pick one favorite to represent. Today it’s Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

Carrie: As one genealogy buff to another, I’m geeking out over that first one you mentioned! How cool is that?!?

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren’t sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

Brandy: My poor sense of direction sometimes tenders situations. Like the time my sister Jenny and I accidentally traveled from New York State to the Pittsburgh PA airport . . . via Ohio.

See, flights into Pittsburgh were so much cheaper than Buffalo or Erie. We needed a rental car anyway, so why not add a road trip leg to our excursion? Jenny had some BP gift cards to mitigate our costs. Great plan, right?

However, it turns out southwestern New York and western Pennsylvania aren’t quite teeming with BP stations. On the return trip, we found exactly two. I persuaded Jenny that the second one, ten miles further down the road, meant ten miles worth of gas we could buy with gift cards instead paying airport refill prices.

Unfortunately, that location was no longer a BP and we couldn’t use the gift cards. Even worse, I had failed to verify that the gas station was actually on our route. The GPS adjusted and we rode along, blissfully ignorant, until we came to the sign: “Welcome to Ohio”?!

Oops.

If this was a novel, here would be the part where my fajita-making skills led us to safety, but in real life, we still had to endure road construction, a hilariously sideways pit stop, and the Pennsylvania turnpike, which was the only thing we’d been told to absolutely avoid. However, I did work hard to compensate for my earlier navigational failures, and we did make our flight with something breezy like twelve minutes to spare.

Carrie: LOL!! I’m dying. Because something similar happened to me and my mom. We traveled from Kentucky to Cincinnati (should have been easy) but somehow ended up in INDIANA?!? while searching for our exact destination.  Conclusion: Brandy, you and I should never travel through Ohio together 😉

Your debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, is a timeslip story that goes between 1942 and the present day. What are the challenges in writing a story that spans two eras? What did you love about it?

Brandy: One tricky thing about Whispers in the Branches was making sure that 1942-Ruby and 2012-Ruby were separated by seventy years of life experience, yet still the same character in fundamental ways.

In my current work-in-progress, the gulf in time is wider, and no one from the historical thread survives into the present-day story. Here the challenge becomes building a strong, personal connection between past and present, even without one character tying it together.

It’s tough, but I love finding the link that connects moments and people separated in time, especially in concert with the inspirational thread. Time is bigger than us, but God is bigger than time. I like to daydream how we really are part of an epic story—one with an Author who can and does redeem the broken pieces in the past into a glorious future with Him!

Carrie: Oh I love that whole last paragraph! We ARE part of an epic story – love it!

In Whispers in the Branches, there’s a possibly-haunted house, a feisty great aunt, and a bit of a love triangle for the heroine Abby. Author Yangsze Choo calls it a “hauntingly redemptive” story about “what really matters at the edge of eternity”. Which scenes or characters, if any, took a direction you weren’t anticipating when you started writing this story?

Brandy: The annoying answer? All of them. After my first conference, I began what I later dubbed “The Scorched Earth Rewrite.” I kept the characters’ names and the setting and not much else.

The new version morphed considerably when Aunt Ruby insisted on becoming a viewpoint character. Suddenly, this secretive old woman had a voice, and a past, and a guilt she didn’t particularly care to divulge to some nosy, genealogy-nut grand-niece. And for bonus points, she was great fun to write!

Carrie: “The Scorched Earth Rewrite” hahahaha!

What do you most want readers to take away from Whispers in the Branches?

Brandy: I hope believers come away with fresh empathy for those who value proof over faith, and seekers with a longing for the rest that only comes from trusting Jesus. And most importantly, that all would keep asking, keep seeking, and keep knocking.

Carrie: Amen.

Brandy, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.

Brandy: My pleasure!

My next novel, Like Honey for the Bones, is a romantic mystery alternating between the present and 1919. It’s almost too much fun living in this story world! When release plans firm up, my newsletter subscribers will be first to know, but until then . . .

For Solveig Borja, the cold glare of that one reckless night glitters at every turn. The sooner she can escape to Norway, the better—but the hometown grudges against her run even deeper than she feared. Beset with a complicated estate and an impossible deadline, she gladly accepts the only outstretched hand in sight . . .

A peculiar murder serves Kyle Benton notice that his new life is nothing but a fragile mirage, and this time there’s nowhere to run. Out of options and desperate to protect his precious second chance, he tries to set a trap for his old foe, ensnaring Solveig in his deadly game in the process.

When they make a grisly discovery deep in the Shenandoah Valley, Solveig and Kyle both see a slender hope of redemption. As they hunt clues in the cold case of the century, the past circles its noose tight—and neither could ever suspect who’s holding the rope.

Carrie: You had me at “romantic mystery” and timeslip!

Brandy is giving away THREE copies of Whispers in the Branches! That’s right – THREE WINNERS! Copies will be winner’s choice of ebook or paperback (International winners are ebook only. Void where prohibited). Enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policy which can be found on the Disclosure page.

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What about you? What’s your “oops” traveling story?

Carrie

76 Responses to “Author Interview (and a Giveaway!): Brandy Heineman”

  1. Susan Dyer

    Congratulations on two years Carrie!

    One time I stopped for gas, got back on the highway and went 65 miles back in the direction I had just come from. I was wondering why everything kind of looked familiar! Hahaha luckily I was traveling alone so no one could yell at me! Lol

  2. Melony Teague

    Yay for kitties! ( sorry Zuzu)

    I have the same directionally challenged skills. Let’s hope we make it to Cincinatti in August without any major detours. Lol

  3. Kay Garrett

    I think my opps moment was the time we missed our turn on a major turnpike going to Atlanta cause as navigator I was holding my map upside down. LOL Then I talk my sweet hubby to turn around in one of those for authorized personnel only spots because we didn’t know how far we’d have to go before we could turn around. Needless to say the only cop on duty was within sight and he pulled us over. I was talking so much trying to explain what “I” did that I think he felt sorry for hubby and let us off with a warning. 🙂

  4. Haley Resseguie

    Oh Carrie, I am directionally challenged so there are too many stories to tell! Like Melony, I am just hoping to make it to Cincinnati without incident. Because although I live in Knoxville, I got my mom, sister and I really lost in Nashville trying to get to last year’s CFRR! But we all ended up laughing and having a good story to tell, so it was worth it!

  5. Nadine

    I found myself locked in a bathroom stall at a rest stop in a rural area of Greece. I had just met my traveling companions on a bus that day and I did not know if they would notice I did not get back on the bus. I was frantic. The space above and below the door was only about six inches so I couldn’t maneuver to get out. I kept banging and someone pushed from the other side and I got free. The elderly woman did not speak English but she understood my attitude to say thanks in Greek.

  6. Nadine

    Brandy, I know that part of WNY-PA and you missed the south interstate 79 intersection which is not well marked. I know one other person who missed it and did not realize it until hitting Ohio.

    • Brandy Heineman

      Nadine, you are absolutely right. At least we will know next time we go visit our family up there! And oh my goodness–locked in a bathroom in Greece… I’m sorry that happened to you, but at least you can laugh about it now, I hope!

  7. Dianne Casey

    I was going to a Union meeting after our Local had moved from Chicago to the southern suburbs. The directons I got off Mapquest lead me to a cornfield. The street I needed to turn on was two blocks farther up the road and in a new business development

  8. Martha T.

    My sister and I were near Minneapolis one summer and got stuck in traffic. It was hot,the car didn’t have AC,and we were getting thirsty with nothing to drink! The people on the radio kept talking about the heat and traffic which made it seem worse! Needless to say,we always take a cooler with pop in it whenever we take a trip!?

    • Brandy Heineman

      Eek, I can imagine that all too well, Martha. After that winter storm that stranded my husband (and the entire rest of metro Atlanta), he made emergency kits for both of us, but of course those don’t include water. I do plan food and drinks for long trips, but you never know what traffic will do!

  9. Becky B.

    I remember making a wrong turn near by and being so hopelessly lost. But I just kept turning. 🙂 Congratulations on your new novel.

  10. Connie Scruggs

    I am geographically challenged, so oops is usually the theme of my road trips.
    Once, I was leaving Hampton, VA to go to Portsmouth, VA. My grandfather was insisting that the “new” tunnel would be the best way to go, even though I was used to the old one. It should have taken us 30 minutes to get there.
    This was before cell phones and GPS.
    We finally ended up in downtown Norfolk, a few HOURS later. We never made it to the bowling alley to meet my uncle, but we did make it back home to Danville, VA. A speeding ticket also made it back with us.

  11. Sonnetta Jones

    I do not have one. My younger sister fell asleep on the train and passed our stop. I do not think she was 18 yet and my mom was in Guyana for her father’s funeral. She was supposed to connect with my cousin and he missed her and came home. My twin had to go and get out at night as a new driver to night driving. So grateful for the cop that stayed with her and cell phones. Let’s just say we did not send her out with anyone unless we were with her. We told our mom about 10 years later. She was so mad with us. We kept reminding her that Jay was safe and married. She is okay. She still brings it up once in a awhile.

  12. Marilyn

    Traveling cross country with my parents and sisters,many years ago, a bee landed on my baseball cap. I tried to fling the bee off but instead the hat went flying out the window on the highway. Needless to say my father was not about to stop the car and go after the hat.
    Marilyn

  13. Kelly Blackwell

    Well, I can’t complain about being directionally challenged, but I can say that I am pretty horrible about street & highway names. I always get where I need to be but I can not tell anyone else how to get there. Well, not be street names. I can name everything I saw on the way. Funny…but men rarely appreciate that. 🙂

  14. Lisa Garrity

    My oops travel story was when my mom and I went to Paris, France with a German tour group (we were coming from Germany) and we stopped at a cafe during the bus break. The over punctual tour guide left us behind because we were only 5 min early not 10! Fortunate ly, we had our hotel info and met up with them later after we spent the morning sightseeing. I even got to try out my rudimentary French!

  15. Jeanna Massman

    For our senior class trip, we traveled non-stop from Iowa to New York and Washington D.C. by bus. We were so tired by the time we got to New York that most of us fell asleep in the lobby of the hotel as we were checking in.

  16. Julie Waldron

    We visited Washington DC last fall. We were at the Changing of the Guard at Arlington. My daughter & I were standing right in front, behind the rope. I was holding onto to a plastic water bottle which I dropped! I froze & my daughter said her heart stopped. I was so afraid they were going to call us out but they didn’t thank goodness! All I could think was what if it had rolled out there….. It isn’t a funny situation because of where it was but of course it would happen to me! LOL

  17. Lari Procunier

    We left on a 2 week vacation to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. Upon our return, we found that our air condenser had backed up and spilled water all over our family room carpet. There was mold everywhere so we had to replace the carpet. 🙁

  18. Andrea Stephens

    I was a passenger in an “Oops” travel moment. Someone (who shall remain nameless) would not listen to his wife who had the map. He said he could get to the Gulf of Mexico by just heading west from Orlando. 8, yes 8 hours later, there was no water in sight.
    Finally, the man needed gas and I asked for directions, oops, the passenger asked for directions. A very nice local man drew out the route on the wife’s map. The Gulf was finally located 3 hours later, much farther north than anticipated. The female occupants in the car were a bit grumpy but forgave the man as they enjoyed a little bit of playtime on the beach and a beautiful sunset. The creepy, smelly hotel they were forced to stay at that night caused more grumbling. We, um… the females on the road trip were looking forward to the nice hotel where reservations had been made weeks before the trip.
    Did you know it does not take that long to drive from one side of Florida to the other?

    • Brandy Heineman

      Haha! Oh, that begs the question of which is worse–the gradual setting in of that “something’s not right” feeling, or the suddenness of a “Welcome to Ohio” sign! Either way, glad you made it eventually, Andrea!

      • Andrea Stephens

        I was ever so happy to make it! I,umm…the female passenger kept trying to gently encourage the driver to ask for directions. It is a little funny to look back on now though.
        🙂

  19. Andrea Stephens

    Another Oops travel moment was during a family trip out west to visit relatives when I was about 11. We stopped at a gas station, I got my sister to the potty and baby brother’s diaper changed, then it was my turn to use the restroom. I came out only to find the family car gone. I took the key back inside to the attendant and asked if he saw them leave. “Yes,” he said. He was very nice, gave me a soda and snack while he called the highway department. My (now former) stepfather was pulled over 50 miles later and was told where I was. Somehow it was my fault I wasn’t in the car when they left. I was in trouble the whole two-week trip. But seriously, if you have one infant, a 6-year-old and an 11-year-old in the back seat, whose fault is it that all three children are not in the car when you (the adult) leave?

    • Brandy Heineman

      ACK. That’s terrifying, Andrea! We took a number of long family car trips when I was a kid. My Dad would turn traveling into a game by having us figure out our average MPH and ETA and by timing our stops… but as much as we always wanted to get back on the road, I don’t remember that my parents ever even joked about leaving us behind!

      • Andrea Stephens

        I wasn’t scared at all. There was only the one gas station and a house for about 200 miles along that stretch of road. I’m sure there were a few farms around too.
        I was more scared about being in trouble. Both siblings were asleep, I guess my former parent thought I was too. It wasn’t fun but it is a little funny now. There I was just sitting behind the counter eating a popsicle when they returned. The gas station attendant called his mom, she came and sat with me, told me it would be alright and if my parents didn’t make it back I could stay at her house. I like to remember them as angels on earth.

        • Brandy Heineman

          So happy they went out of their way to make the best of it for you, Andrea! I can just imagine the gas station attendant and his mom telling their version of the story over the years…

  20. Marina Tyson

    My misadventure occurred in Florida near Disney. My daughter and I rented a car from the airport near to where we landed. It was late so we hopped into our rental and away we went to find our motel. As we were looking at the map, suddenly the car radio or the tape player began to make a horrific sound. It was like being in a scary book.
    That sets the scene, so here is our misadventure. We left Disney later than usual and it was very dark. Since no noise had erupted on the way over we thought we were home free. Not so, we missed our turnoff to the motel and drove 25 miles before we could turn back. My daughter blamed me, I blamed the bat out of hell noise and so ended the magic of Disney.

  21. Connie Saunders

    When I first started traveling to some work related conferences I was very challenged in my sense of direction. There was more than one instance where I made a wrong turn and traveled several miles out of my way to either get to the meeting or get home. Since I was being paid mileage I tried to estimate how many miles I traveled in error because I didn’t feel right charging for my inability to navigate. I am proud to say that I have gotten better and most if the time I can get there without driving around and around! 🙂
    Thanks for this giveaway.

  22. Linda Moffitt

    I’m probably quite annoying to My Husband He’s a Truck driver and I can’t stand traveling so with me he has to stop every hour or so. Once I got lost and forgot to turn off on My exit and I called him from a payphone (No cell phone for me yet) and told him. I pulled off the next exit and made a left and I see a Car Wash/Laundromat Where was I and How did I get home? LOL He knew where I was and got me home Thank Goodness. Then there was the time we went on vacation and I forgot My whole pile of T-Shirts (I had everything else just no shirts so we had to go to a truck stop and buy a couple) Good thing it’s for better or worse LOL.

  23. Debi M. Brown

    got some free passes to Six Flags at work, so i took the kids on a ‘surprise field trip’. we left early to get there when the gate opened, but the many splits in Atlanta had me lapping around in circles for a couple hours, lol. no GPS then, and was too chicken to exit the freeway and ask someone. after process of elimination, we found the right one, made it to the park…..first stop after we got back in the car, the gas station!

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