Friday, May 16, 2014

Author Spotlight with Becki Brannen

Author Spotlight with Becki Brannen

Author Bio:
I was born and raised in the South. I married my high school sweetheart and we have two daughters and a poodle, Sophie. I enjoy writing 'chick lit' with a Christian twist. I hope you enjoy reading my books in the Breathless series. While Peregrine is a definite departure, I still explore the characters' relationships with God. As for future books, there will be more to come soon!

Stronger Blurb:
Hayley Cross has decided she's not going down without a fight. Wes Thornton was the heartthrob in high school, and is now the trainer at the local gym. Can he help save Hayley, or is it already too late?
Chapter One
“I need you to train me,” I tell the guy at the counter of Attack MMA, secretly hoping he doesn’t remember me from high school. Wes Thornton was the quintessential jock in high school, and it doesn’t look like much has changed. He could have anyone he wanted... and he didn’t want me. I was three years younger, just a freshman when he was in his senior year, and I was a total nerd. As a senior, I took Calculus – for fun.
Fast forward a few years later, and I’ve walked into the gym he works at, having looked him up on Facebook a few years ago. I was too scared to press the button to request a friendship, but I’m standing here in front of him now, holding my head high.
Now he’s staring me down, as if he’s trying to figure out what in the heck I’m doing here. I’m still a nerd, glasses and all, but I’ve grown up in a lot of ways. I’ve gained a lot of self-confidence, including the ability to talk to boys (finally!) and overall, my life is pretty good. Well, with the exception of Johnny. But, that’s why I’m here, I guess.
“Sure, what were you interested in? We don’t offer Zumba here,” he says, laughing. I get angry, clenching my fists, and narrow my gaze.
“I’m not interested in dancing. I want you to train me.”
“What’s your name?” So he doesn’t remember me. Half-relieved and half-offended, I tell him, “Hayley Cross.”
He looks me in the eyes and, seeing the fire in them, he nods. “Okay, Hayley Cross, we start now.”
I gulp, terrified. I’m not entirely inactive, but I’m nowhere in the kind of shape as the others in the gym. I fill out some forms, hand over my identification and credit card, and swallow hard as I sign on the dotted line.
He gets some gear from a friend of his and tosses it at me, ordering me to go change. I head into the women’s locker room and pull on the miniscule booty shorts and sports bra before looking around for the shirt. I poke my head out.
“Umm, Wes? I don’t have a shirt? And these shorts...” I cringe.
“Shirt will just get in the way. Get out here.”
I pull my hair into a ponytail and re-tie my cross trainers. I step outside, self-consciously tugging the shorts down over my behind. At least wedgies aren’t sexy, right?
“Good. Come with me.” He leads me to a small room with a scale and desk. Oh, crap.
Once we’re inside the room with the door closed, he orders me onto the scale.
“One thirty. Not bad. But you’re soft. We’ll fix that.” He makes notes on my chart, as if he’s some sort of doctor. A very scary, bossy doctor.
He looks me over, taking in every bruise, some faded, some fresh. His jaw clenches and he makes a note, not saying a word. Finally, he opens the door and leads me to an open mat.
“We’re going to start with stretches. And I’m telling you right now, ‘I can’t’ is not in your vocabulary. Every fiber of your being is going to say you’re finished, but you won’t be, not by a long shot. If you say it, you’re gone? Got it?”
I nod, not trusting my words. At this point, I don’t know if I’d merely squeak like a mouse or let loose a string of profanities.
He leads me through a series of stretches before making a few notes.
“Okay, three laps around the gym,” he barks. I nod and take off, running as quickly as I can and still unable to keep up with him. My calves ache and my lungs burn, but I finish. Granted, the last half lap was more of a fast walk, but whatever. Wes is kind enough not to bark at me again, instead coming up beside me and encouraging me as I finish.
“Good. Fifty jumping jacks, fifty squats, fifty crunches.” He looks at his watch, making notes of how long it takes me to complete each task.
When I’m done, I stand back up, looking at him both in defiance and fear.
“Another run, three laps,” he says. I grab a swig of water before he can tell me otherwise and then take off, pacing myself this time.
“Control your breathing. In through your nose, out through your mouth. Keep it even,” he says, jogging beside me.
“I’m pretty sure I hate you,” I tell him through clenched teeth, but I do as he says, finishing the third lap at a faster pace than the previous run.
When we’re done with the run, he gives me a minute to catch my breath, eyeing my bruises once again.
“Need to talk about those?” he asks.
“Door,” I reply. Isn’t that the standard answer in this sort of situation? The old ‘I ran into the door’ excuse? Then again, most doors don’t aim for your midsection, but at this point, that’s just semantics.
“Uh-huh. So this door wears a class ring?” I duck my head, refusing to answer. I didn’t come here for a lecture or pity. I came to get stronger.
I do another set of exercises like before, my muscles protesting the sudden exertion after years of dormancy.
“Grab some gloves. You’re going to learn kickboxing,” Wes calls out as I lie on the mat, spent.
“I thought that was the workout and I was done,” I complain, looking around for a clock.
“That,” he says, laughing, “was the warm-up. Gloves. Now!”
I scramble to my feet, grabbing a pair of sweaty, smelly gloves off of a shelf. Eww. I wrinkle my nose. I stick my hands in, cringing at the feel of years of layered sweat, hoping to God there isn’t someone else’s blood dried inside.
Wes grabs some pads and leads me through a series of punches.
“Okay, since you’re right-handed, your left is your ‘one’ punch, or jab. Stand with your left foot facing me and your right foot back and perpendicular, just off to the side so you have some stability. That’s your base. Your dominant hand is your ‘two’ punch, or cross. Keep your gloves up next to your face, and throw a ‘one-two,’ rotating your right hip a bit on the ‘two’ punch.”
I follow his directions, feeling like a complete fool as several guys stop and watch me throw two weak punches.
“Good. Now harder. You’re not going to hurt me. Hit me.” I throw the punches in quick succession as he brings the pads up to block. With each, I grunt, furrowing my brow as I let loose the torrent of pent-up aggression I’ve felt over the last few years.
“Great. Don’t forget to keep your hands up, and bring your left back before you throw your cross. But good job,” Wes tells me.
He goes to take off the pads, but I don’t stop. I throw punch after punch, until he finally pushes my hands down with the pads. Noticing my glistening eyes, he tells me to run a few laps to cool down. Not bothering to remove my gloves, I take off, running faster than my first run, my adrenaline carrying me through the three laps. When I finish, I fall to my knees, my head on my gloves as sobs wrack my body.
“Shower, Hayley. You’re all done for today,” Wes says quietly, pulling me to my feet.
Inside the locker room, I stand under the cool spray as the water kneads the tension from my shoulders. Briny tears fall to mingle with the shampoo suds that pour down my body. When the tears no longer come, I pull my towel from the stall door and wrap it around my body. Cocooned in its warmth, I dry myself before putting my own clothes back on and going home

Valentine's Edition 

What happens when an ordinary girl meets the man of everyone’s dreams? 

Keeping secrets is never easy, especially since Ryan Spalding is on the cover of every magazine and this year's "Hottest Hunk under 30." Good thing Carly Sparks is so out of the loop when it comes to celebrity affairs, or she'd realize she was in one!

Carly and Ryan are getting married!

Carly is convinced she can have it all - a budding law career, the perfect wedding and even a new house...err...mansion. Can she juggle everything, or will she drop the ball?

Carly and Ryan are married!

But will baby make three before Carly has a chance to come clean about their elopement?

Carly seems like she's got it all - a dream job and a dreamy husband - but she's starting to feel like her dream job is turning into a nightmare. She's feeling incomplete and just needs something... more. With the possibility that she's pregnant, and her lack of enthusiasm for her job, Carly embarks on a career path that she's hoping will leave her fulfilled and feeling like she's done something to leave her mark on the world.

Elle Whittemore is an American beauty who travels to paradise to cope with the end of a marriage that never was. 

Stavros Nikolaides is a handsome Greek fisherman who happens to work at the hotel in which Elle is staying. Seeing the sadness in her eyes, he feels drawn to her, having experienced his own painful past. 

Can two people overcome loss to find true love, or is this just a holiday infatuation?

1.    When did you decide to write?
That’s sort of like asking when did I decide to breathe? I’ve always written, from the required book a year in elementary school (having gone to a literature/language arts magnet school), to several projects in middle and high school wherein I elected to write essays instead of doing those tri-fold boards all of the “cool” kids were doing.
2.   How did you come up with the idea of your newest book?
Most of my books come from dreams, and Stronger was no different. I wanted to write something about a strong female lead. I start off the novel strong, with only flashbacks to her weak moments. I didn’t want her to come off simpering or defeated.
3.   What Genre do write?
Chick lit with a Christian twist. I can’t really call it Christian romance, because the characters aren’t written to be perfect, nor are their relationships with God perfect. There’s a lot of questioning, a lot of wondering where they belong in this world.
4.   Would you ever write with another author if asked?
That’s a hard question! I would say no, because I think that the writing process is so personal and individualized. Besides, if another author had to wait on me to do my part, we might not stay friends for long!
5.   Who is your biggest inspiration?
I would say life is my biggest inspiration. I pull a lot of the experiences in my books from my own life experiences, although I’ve never been to Greece! Hayley, in Stronger, goes to a trainer, so I started taking kickboxing at the local MMA gym on the advice of a friend. If I haven’t experienced something I’m writing about, I’ll do whatever I can to make the writing as personal as possible, even if that means getting my butt kicked two days a week!
6.   Who are some of your favorite authors?
Heather Huffman, hands down! She is an amazing writer, and I’ve loved each of her books. I started reading her when she was giving away her books for free, having decided that she’d rather get the message out (about human trafficking) than profit from her work. Her books fluctuate in price now, not always free, although she does have two freebies out. I highly recommend her!! I also love Nicholas Sparks, Karin Slaughter & Lisa Gardner, obviously for varying reasons.
7.   What genre do you like to read?
The better question is what genre do I not like to read! I literally read everything, from YA to NA, romance to horror, paranormal to Christian. If it’s good, and can suck me in, I’ll love it.
8.   What was the last book that you read?
Waiting For You, by Heather Huffman. This might be one of my favorites, even though it’s so different from her others.
9.   What are you working on?
About twelve projects at once! No, really, just six or so. But I’m concentrating my efforts right now into finishing Stronger. I believe in this book and its message, and I want to use some of the profits to donate to the local Crisis Line & Safe House. I think that’s why I feel such a need to finish it, because it’s not just for me or my fans, but for the abused and victimized.
Fun Questions:
1.   Favorite Animal
2.  Favorite Color
3.   Favorite Food
Beef tips on rice
4.  Favorite Genre of Music
New Country
5.   Favorite Season

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