Website & Facebook Author Page Announcement

Thursday, May 23, 2013

I'm excited to announce that I now have a website, I'd love to have you check it out. Take a look around and leave me a comment on the Contact Form. I'll be blogging from that address from now on and that's where you'll find the most updated information. 

Also, I now have a Facebook Author Page. I've been having loads of fun over there. I've been posting pictures from a recent photo shoot, and pictures from my 2011 trip to England. It's been fun to meet some new kindred spirits. 

See you at the new locations! We're going to have a blast chatting up history, books, and whatever else comes along. 


Unexpected Beginning

Monday, May 13, 2013

There she is--Bianca Marshal. The heroine of my first novel. This photograph hangs above my office desk and it always will. It changed my life, and I'm going to tell you how.

The moment I saw her, she called to me. It was a lazy afternoon in Pensacola, Florida. A friend and I stumbled into an antique photography shop. We started browsing, and I came upon Bianca's picture. The world stopped and God seemed to say, "Pay attention. She's important." I stood before the photograph rack, tilted my head, and just stared. There was definitely something different about her, and the more I looked, the more I wanted to know. First, I thought she was beautiful, but not what some might say a raving beauty. I saw her strength. And I saw her pain. Something had happened to her. Something devastating. But she'd pushed through. She'd survived. These things were lingering about her eyes, although perhaps she tried to hide them just before the camera flashed.

I wish I knew who the woman in the photograph was in real life. Unfortunately, like so many people from history, her name and story have been lost forever. The shop owner who sold me the photograph knew nothing about her. Just a random portrait, a woman in a pretty hat. The friend who was with me bought the photograph and gave it to me as a gift. It's one of the best gifts I've ever received.

Walking out of the shop, I held the photograph close. It felt like an adventure. I really didn't know how much of one was about to begin.

When I started The Covered Deep, it was a much different story. I was just starting out as a writer and I had a lot to learn. Now, eight drafts later, I'll tell you a little bit about Bianca's story.

Bianca Marshal is an incurably romantic bookworm who’s holding out for the perfect husband. She doesn’t want much, just that he be (1) a true believer in Jesus Christ (2) devastatingly handsome with a slightly wild look in his eyes (3) brilliant and humorous like Mark Twain (4) a foreigner, possibly a disgruntled duke (5) able to quote Bible verses AND Shakespeare (6) a more than capable kisser, and (7) adore her completely.
Finding a man that meets the requirements of “the list” in the foothills of the Appalachians—Portsmouth, Ohio—has proven impossible. Bianca’s mama insists that there’s no such thing as a perfect true love, and that Bianca’s ideal man is pure fiction. On the eve of her twenty-fifth birthday, Bianca discovers a devastating statistic. Her chance of marrying is now only eighteen percent. But the “S” word—spinsterhood—is not something she’s willing to accept. She’s going to prove the statistics and her mama wrong. Bianca wins an essay contest that propels her into a whirlwind search for the perfect romantic hero. Via the opulence of London and the mysteries of Palestine, Bianca’s true love will be revealed, but not without a price that might be too heavy to pay.                                                                   

If you'd like to know a little more about Bianca, or what happens in the book. You can peruse The Covered Deep Pinterest Board. I'm rather fond of the hero. ;-) Sir Adrian has a warm place in my heart as well, mystery man that he is. And Madeline . . . well, is there any help for her? Oh, and let's not forget Joshua Udolphus Tabor. The man does have his peculiarities . . . And that pain I was talking about earlier, it does happen. As I was writing, it was one of the things in the book that surprised me the most--one of those things writers talk about when they say something just showed up on the page.        

The Covered Deep is currently being shopped by my agent, Rachelle Gardner  of Books & Such Literary Agency. I'm hoping to hear some exciting news soon.                                                    

Beginning Bianca's story has taken me places I never would have imagined. In 2003, I found myself in Asheville, NC, attending my first writers conference through the Christian Writers Guild.  I was amazed when I walked through the doors. I found my tribe--writers who thought just like me. I was hooked. After that, I took CWG's Apprenticeship Course. It taught me how to write, and be disciplined. I acquired my first writing staff job by having the knowledge they gave me. I went on to write fifty articles in different magazines and newspapers. In 2009, I decided to stop freelancing and focus on being a novelist. That's what I've been doing ever since. Conferences, critique groups, contests--you name it. I love the writing world.                                                                                                    

Bianca's photograph started a work in me. I've been changed, and I'd like to think for the better. Something else I didn't expect when I walked out of that shop all those years ago--all the writing friends I've made a long the way. We don't just talk about writing, although that's super-fun. These people are my best friends. I can go to them with life stuff. We cry together, laugh, and pull each other off the ledge from time to time. They are gifts, and I like to think that God knew that back when I was standing in that photography shop. When my hand touched the picture, maybe He smiled and saw all the friendships coming down the way.

Ralph Waldo Emerson was right when he said, "Life is a journey, not a destination." God sure does a lot of amazing things along the way. 

What about you? Have you ever had a lightning moment--an encounter with an object that changed your life forever? 

Waiting is hard for writers. But, if you could change it, would you wish the waiting away? How have you been changed by the years of waiting for a contract? 

2012 Full ACFW Awards Gala Now Online!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

If you missed the live stream of the 2012 ACFW Awards Gala, you can watch it here.

The awards given were:
Agent of the Year
Editor of the Year
Mentor of the Year
Member Service Award
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Carol Award
The Genesis Award

The Genesis Contest is around minute 26. You can see me around minute 33 accepting the Genesis Award for Historical Romance. I'm still over the moon!

Since the conference, I've been busy writing my second book. I'm averaging about 2000 words a day and I'm really happy about that! I'm so excited about my work in progress, and for everything ahead.

“It’s a choice, writing is. One that belongs to you and me. We get to choose it (or not) every single day. So whether or not the world hears your message — whether you leave the impact you were born to make — is entirely up to you.”
― Jeff Goins

“Several factors besides skill are more significant in professional writers than in most amateurs. One is love of the surface level of language: the sound of it; the taste of it on the tongue; what it can be made to do in virtuosic passages that exist only for their own sake, like cadenzas in baroque concerti. Writers in love with their tools are not unlike surgeons obsessed with their scalpels, or Arctic sled racers who sleep among their dogs even when they don't have to”
― Alice W. Flaherty

Musings of a Quotable Sort

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It's been a busy week. Amidst daily activities, some amount of tomfooley, meeting with a new critique group, and a visit to a pumpkin patch, I've been throwing myself into my new story. 1885 Edinburgh is calling, even in my dreams now. It gets this way for writers. The sound of the Scottish rain and the feel of the wind are becoming natural. The beauty of the landscape, and the poverty of the people from the "wrong" side are becoming my everyday. Feya and Alasdair are saying surprising things, breaking my heart, and luring me in.

That said, here are some quotes that have inspired me this week as I've been writing.

"Relying on God has to start all over everyday, as if nothing has yet been done." --C.S.Lewis

"God will one day hold us each accountable for all the things He created for us to enjoy, but we refused to do so." --Rabbanic Saying 

"The soul hardly ever realizes it, but whether he is a believer or not, his loneliness is really a homesickness for God." 
--Hubert van Zeller

"Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event.  Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things. It is a way we think about outcomes." 
--John Ortberg

"If you believe in a God who controls the big things, you have to believe in a God who controls the little things. It is we, of course, to whom things look "little" or "big."
 --Elisabeth Elliot

"You called, you cried, you shattered my deafness, you sparkled, you blazed, you drove away my blindness, you shed your fragrance, and I drew in my breath, and I pant for you."
--Saint Augustine

"He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is." --A.Z. Tozer

"Refuse to be average. Let your heart soar as high as it will." 
--A.W. Tozer

"Do not anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Keep in the sunlight." 
--Benjamin Franklin

Do any of these quotes speak to you? In what way? Do you have some quotes that have inspired you week?

What Dreams May Come

Sunday, September 23, 2012

With my literary agent, Rachelle Gardner. 

Last night at the ACFW awards ceremony my name was called for the historical romance category of the Genesis. I WON!!! That still hasn't sunk in 100%. It was one of those moments you imagine a million times but are sure isn't going to happen. You want it to happen so much but you're afraid to hope.

As I made my way to the stage all I could think was Really, God? You chose me? In my mind He smiled in that way He always does just for me. I got the impression of an answer. It was, Yes. REALLY, Brandy. I think He also gave me a laugh that was full of joy. He's the best at keeping secrets and is a fan of the "big reveal." Speaking from experience here. :-)

Earlier that day I was sick with nerves. I couldn't eat. I couldn't concentrate. I actually had to go up to my room and give myself a firm talking to. My friend, Carla Laureano, came up and sat with me for a little while. I call her Metro because she's so stylishly modern, as I could never be. You should see the height of the heels that girl can wear! She used to be a professional ballet dancer, so I suppose she can handle the pain. She calls me Vintage, and rightfully so. We're good at talking each other off the ledge in a pinch. Since the announcement in May that we were Genesis finalists there have been a lot of late night Facebook chats between the two of us. We talk about the publishing industry. And life. And lots of whatever.

You know what the best moment was last night? After I stepped off the stage and had my picture taken, Rachelle Gardner jumped up in a crowd of 800 people and came running toward me. She gave me the biggest hug and said, "I'm so proud of you, Brandy." Repeat: Rachelle Gardner said that she was proud of ME. Talk about a surreal moment. I think she may have actually kept me from collapsing onto the floor.

 I have watched Rachelle for three years and I can honestly tell you that she is always a woman of integrity. She's strong. And smart. Passionate about the dreams of her clients and fights hard for them. Besides that, she's friendly and always makes me feel welcome. If you were watching the live stream last night there's a reason you kept hearing her clients mentioning her name.

So, here I am sitting in the hotel room in Dallas thinking about all this. Tomorrow I fly home to Colorado and everything that is to come. I'm excited. And awed. And thankful. Mostly, I'm thinking about all my writing friends in all the various stages of publishing. You are all so brave and have tons of heart. I'm so proud to be in such honorable company. Don't ever doubt your gifts or minimize the importance of your stories. You matter. And your calling as a storyteller is a high one. Don't be afraid to write vulnerable. That's where the magic happens. I'm in awe that I got to experience some of that magic last night.

2012 Genesis Contest Press Release

Thursday, July 19, 2012



JULY 2012Colorado Springs, CO writer, Brandy Vallance, received the honor of finalist in the prestigious Genesis Contest, American Christian Fiction Writers' respected contest for unpublished writers. Since its inception in 2002, the Genesis contest (originally named the Noble Theme) has been the leading fiction contest for unpublished Christian writers. “The Genesis is the premier contest in the Christian Booksellers Association for the unpublished. It's THE place to get noticed by a publisher.” – Colleen Coble, CEO of ACFW. 

With over 690 entries in this year’s contest, making the finalist list is a noteworthy accomplishment. Brandy is a finalist in the Historical Romance category. Winners will be announced on September 22, 2012, during the awards gala at the ACFW Annual Conference in Dallas, Texas.

ACFW notes that over the life of the contest, over seventy Genesis finalists have gone on to publication. Among them are authors who are now multi-published, and whose books appear consistently on CBA and ECPA bestseller lists, whose published works receive recognition through readers' choice and industry-awarded honors. Many editors and agents speak highly of the role of the Genesis Contest in helping launch author careers.

"Writers looking to break into publishing need every advantage they can gain in the pursuit of a contract. When an agent sees 'Genesis finalist' or 'Genesis winner' in a writer's proposal, it means something: This is a manuscript that deserves a closer look." – Rachelle Gardner, Books & Such Literary Agency

“ACFW's Genesis contest is a springboard to a writing career in Christian fiction and winning the Genesis award against such an impressive pool of talented writers is, in my opinion, a great accomplishment. I can't think of a better way to jumpstart a writing career than to be a finalist in the Genesis contest.” – Julie Gwinn, Fiction Manager, B&H Publishing Group

"We've watched the Genesis Contest grow from being a start-up operation to the well-respected event it is today. We think the Genesis contest is a good place for beginning authors to dive in and get started." – Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Agency

For More Information Contact: Pam Meyers, ACFW Genesis Contest Coordinator                                                   

Writing News

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I'm a finalist in the 2012 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest! I'm over the moon! You can see my name here under the historical romance category: ACFW.

I am so honored to be named among these fine writers. And, I am having such a wonderful time getting to know some of them on Facebook. Some exciting things are happening in our conversations. I've definitely found a few kindred spirits!

I'll be at the ACFW Conference in Dallas, TX from September 20-23rd where the winners will be announced. There may be a live stream so perhaps some of you can tune in when the time comes.

In the meantime, here's what I'll be doing:

*Hopefully signing a contract with an agent soon.

*Finding an elegant formal dress for the awards ceremony.

*Getting my ducks in a row for meetings at the conference.

*Getting my daughter ready for kindergarten. !!!

*Wishing my son a happy 13th birthday. Where has the time gone?

*Writing my second book, a historical romance set in 1885 Edinburgh, Scotland.

What's it about? Here's the log line: When a disenchanted dreamer meets Robert Louis Stevenson on the eve of the creation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, a question must be answered that will push her beyond the boundaries of belief.

I'm very excited about this story. It's taking me to some very interesting places and stretching me in many ways. There's an anonymous quote: "We write best what we need most to understand." I've been thinking about some of this subject matter for quite a while now. I know this story is going to take a lot of vulnerability and brutal honesty from me. I'm definitely going to be changed on the other side.

Until then, dear readers and friends . . . *lifts tea cup to you* Here's to the journey.