March 1, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Brenda Whiteside

Thanks for inviting me to your Off the Keyboard blog, Sarah. Since you left me wide open for a topic, I thought I might talk about my mom. It’s a couple of months until Mothers’ Day but what the heck. My mom is in my face regularly nowadays so she’s an easy target.

We’ve just moved back to Arizona where I was born and raised. All my family still lives here – desert rats to the core. Part of the reason for coming back to Arizona is my mom. She’s eighty-one and although still doing great, time is sliding by. I’ve made her happy.

I grew up listening to her tell stories of her childhood, totally fascinated, and I still love to listen. When her mother died, her half-brothers and sisters were taken and placed in Indian boarding schools. She was raised by her father, an Irish migrant worker, and they traveled between California and Oklahoma, sometimes hopping freight trains. They were poor, the war was on, but she had a happy childhood. She was starry eyed and dreamed of becoming a movie star. She has a beautiful voice – actually got to sing on the radio once – and was always in her school plays. There were rough times, too. One year, they moved around so often that she attended twelve schools. My grandfather drank too much, but he loved her and protected her.

Several years ago, I began taking notes. These bits and pieces developed into a book, Honey On White Bread. I made all the mistakes first time authors make and received a stack of rejections. I put the book away until I found success with other books and stories. Two years ago, I dug it out and went to work again. This was the book of my heart. Quite often the book of a writer’s heart never makes it to print. For whatever reason, it seems like a much better book to the author than to the publisher.

The time period, 1945, and the age of the hero and heroine (twenty and seventeen) in Honey On White Bread befuddled some publishers – not sure what subgenre to consider. But I’ve been lucky. Melange Books loved it as Women’s Historical Romance, Post WWII.

That comment I made about Mom being in my face regularly is not only due to her happiness over my close proximity again, but she’s a walking advertisement for the book. Even though I took a couple of incidents she told me about her younger life and loosely used a couple of her personality traits, the book is a work of fiction. But to her, it’s close enough to be a book “about her life” and she’s spreading the word. Every clerk at Fry’s Food Store, Dillard’s Department Store, every long lost relative and friend and even the car wash attendant knows about the book. Her perception is helped by the cover shot – a picture of her and my dad. The cover artist had trouble finding suitable era photos so I sent her some examples and voila! She ended up using one of them.

Mom has read the book twice and has taken it as her own story.

Since Melange Books is a small publisher, Honey On White Bread is not stocked on the bookshelves at Barnes and Noble. Only the e-version is available everywhere except through the publisher. There is a lapse in time between when the e-book releases and stores like B and N can order it in print. Mom doesn’t do e-books so this really miffs her. That doesn’t stop her from calling B and N every other day to ask if they have it yet. I had to draw the line at her latest idea. She thought if she took in a couple of copies and left them on a shelf, they would be so awed that they would order more.

When seventeen-year-old Claire Flanagan is wrenched from her father and deposited at the Good Shepherd’s Home for Wayward Girls, all dreams for Hollywood stardom are lost. But when twenty-year-old Benjamin Russell helps secure her release, she starts to believe in a happy future with him…until she discovers his ex-girlfriend is pregnant.

In this post WWII coming of age novel, Claire discovers the silver screen can’t compare with the fight she takes on for the leading role in her own life.


Brenda and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. Recently, they moved to prairie country in Arizona and are enjoying the wide-open spaces while tending fruit trees and veggie gardens. They share their home with their dog, Rusty. When Brenda isn’t at her laptop writing, she enjoys hiking, motorcycle riding and the company of good friends.

Visit Brenda at:
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She blogs on the 9th and 24th of every month at:

She blogs about prairie life on her personal blog:


Unknown said...

I love the name of the home. :) This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.

Joyce Palmer said...

Loved this story about your story! Makes me want to sit down with my parents before it's too late. Wishing you much success with the book.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Hi Rachel. Thanks for stopping by.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Joyce, I often think I need to get more from her now, as you say before it's too late.

Jody Vitek said...

The book is fantastic and I can see why your mother is so proud to call it her own story. This post is very touching and makes a person want to sit and listen to what stories their parents may have to tell. I'm just glad Melange picked this wonderful story up.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for the nice words, Jody. You rock.

Jenny Twist said...

Let me know her reaction when the book finally gets on the shelf. I think she's fab

Brenda Whiteside said...

I will, Jenny. I'm sure she'll be spreading the word.

rbooth43 said...

Just finished reading Honey On White Bread! Amazing story! I enjoy reading anything that Brenda writes!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thank you so much, Rebecca!! And thanks for stopping by.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Thanks for today, Sarah. And thanks for everyone that stopped by. I'm off to bed. I'll check once more in the morning. Nightie-night!

Doreen McGettigan said...

What a sweetheart your Mom is. My 2 year old granddaughter asked every Monday at Barnes and Nobles Storytime "Do you have my Mom-Moms book yet?" Don't give up because after 5 months they finally called:)

Brenda Whiteside said...

What a great story, Doreen. We need our supporters at any age.

Sarah Grimm said...

Brenda, what a great story behind your story! Thanks for visiting!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing this story about your mother! I love it and am even more excited to start Honey on White Bread! I love the photo of your mother on your blog! Julie Maidment (sorry--still have no clue how to "identify" myself so I went with Annie Mouse again! Lol!)