I must admit that putting the name of my novel in the headline made my belly flip with pride. It was like seeing the name of my child in a graduation list.  The truth is my “child” is not quite ready for graduation, but she is in her last semester.  In other words, I am still in revision but getting closer!  So, when a fellow Facebook writer, Sophfronia Scott, asked me to participate in this cool thing going around the blogoshere about works-in-progress, I jumped on it.  What an honor.  I get to answer ten questions about my novel-in-progress and then tag other writers, so they can share about their work.  Hope you’ll enjoy!

What is your working title of your book?

One Good Mama Bone.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Back almost 20 years ago, a neighbor of mine in Atlanta confessed a secret to me he’d been carrying for 54 years.  He promised his mama in Alabama that he’d not tell a soul about this one night in 1944, but he could no longer be true to that and chose me to tell, knowing I’m a writer.  That secret was the germ of the book.  I carried it around with me for almost a decade before I began to write.  All I wanted to do was get him and his mama out of trouble.   I finished the novel, but it didn’t do what I set out to do, so I set it aside and let it get cold.

In 2008, I pulled it back out and read it, and in it was this one paragraph about a mama cow’s love for her calf.   That very next weekend, I went to visit my father on his farm.  Guess what he was doing? Weaning the calves from their mamas. That means separating them, forcing the calves to no longer nurse but rely totally on their own.  Their mournful sounds woke me up in the night, and I went to them, the mamas huddled in one corner of a fence and their babies fifty feet away huddled in another corner, both groups crying back and forth.  I got chills. The story I’d been trying to write was about motherhood.  I knew I had found my agent for redemption.

Meet Mama Red

I told the mamas I couldn’t bring their babies back, but I could tell the world about their love.

One of the mamas caught my eye especially.  I named her Mama Red and put her in my novel.

See her markings? They make her especially beautiful to me.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical/Southern/Literary fiction.  (My book is set in the 1940′s and early 1950′s in Anderson, SC.)

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I need a good southern actress to play my main character, Sarah Creamer, someone with depth like Kathy Bates. Or maybe the talented Kate Winslet.  She could do it.  Tommy Lee Jones could play my antagonist, Luther Ducworth.  And who for the one and only Ike Thrasher?  Hmmmm…..Toby McGuire.  Yes!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One Good Mama Bone is a literary novel, set in rural South Carolina in the 1940’s and early 1950’s, about the power of a mother cow’s love to help a woman see in herself what she’s never been able to see – that she is a mother.  And a good one.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My first choice is to be represented by an agency.  If the traditional route doesn’t work out, I will self publish.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m a slow writer and had several false starts.  It took almost three years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is the first that comes to mind.   And in general, books by midwestern writers Jane Smiley and Kent Haruf.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

See my answer to “Where did the idea come from.”  My neighbor in Atlanta and Mama Red!

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The story is set against the backdrop of the 1952 Fat Cattle Show & Sale, a time-honored rite of passage in many states (even today), where 4-H kids spend up to one year “feeding out” and “breaking” young steers, all to chase the coveted Grand Champion title, which brings big money and glory.  When Sarah’s husband Harold dies and leaves her to care for their young son, Sarah sees this show as their financial salvation.  But they enter naively, since neither is aware of what happens after the show – the steers are auctioned off for slaughter.  Sarah must make a hard choice in order to save her boy, but it means that Mama Red, who is the mother of Emerson Bridge’s steer Lucky, must lose hers.

I have a personal history with the 4-H contest.  My father won Grand Champion in 1941 in my hometown of Anderson, SC.  It was a big deal, his picture on the front page of the newspaper and free lunches all over town.

I am writing this book for him.  To this day, he can’t talk about the show, tells me to “get your mind on something else.”

But I can’t.

Mama Red, you are beautiful.

My father, the 1941 Grand Champion winner, and me

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, let me introduce you all to some amazing writers, whose work I hope you’ll check out…..

Shari Stauch, a wonderful writer and all around champion of writers with her business, Where Writers Win, which helps agents, editors, writers and aspiring authors with her marketing and PR talents.  She’s also an ex-pool shark and is writing a novel, Head Games, set in that world.

Pattie Welek Hall, another giving soul, who hosts of Joy Radio where she interviews writers about their books.  She’s just finished a memoir, Reigning Angels, about a mother who learns her son has suffered a traumatic brain injury and comes to understand that perseverance, hope and triumph can take many forms, even in the face of tragedy.

Jacquie Gum, who has just finished her second novel, The Accuser’s Burden, about a self-made, successful career who woman grapples with haunting questions of loyalty, love, corporate intrigue and social justice when her husband commits an unspeakable crime against her best friend and mentor.  Her first novel is titled Confessions of a Corporate Slut.

Terry Price, who is writing a novel he’s titled An Angel’s Share, a story of fathers and sons.  Beautiful work.

Message for tagged authors:
Rules of the Next Big Thing

***Use this format for your post
***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them. Be sure to line up your five people in advance. (I tagged only four.)

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.

Thanks!

10 Responses to “The Next Big Thing: One Good Mama Bone”

  1. I always love reading about Mama Red and your journey during the writing process of this incredible story, Brenda. I cannot wait to meet Emerson Bridge–that name still touches me! Xxoo

  2. admin says:

    Thank you, Jolina. Your encouragement fuels me! I love Emerson Bridge’s name, too. Think if I had a son, I would name him that.

  3. I plan on being first in line for this book! Hell, I may even buy a case so I can share the love. Outstanding writing Brenda.

  4. Ellyn Bache says:

    Brenda, I can’t wait for the book to be finished. My late husband, Terry, had to send a steer he loved to market when he was a boy, and he never got over it. Aside from what promises to be a magnificent read, maybe your novel will help put an end to this cruel practice.

  5. Shari Stauch says:

    Well isn’t this just grand! Will share on WWW and tag some more writers and this will become one big, fabulous party! Thanks for sharing girl, and you know I love, love, love your story and your characters — can’t wait for the world to fall in love with them too!

    • admin says:

      I love this party! And thank you so much for all of your great feedback on my novel. You’ve really helped me make it better, Girl!

  6. The more I learn about you, the more I am in awe of you…love the 10 questions-really helps get a handle on you and the book. Love it and can’t wait to see it in print for me to purchase! My dad was farm boy-raising beets and crops instead of animals but he always says he learned early not to fall in love with his friends’ livestock because they always “disappeared.” Heart-rending…

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