Brandy Bonifas is an author of speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies by Clarendon House Publications, Pixie Forest Publishing, Zombie Pirate Publishing, Black Hare Press, Blood Song Books, Reanimated Writers Press, and Dastaan World, as well as the online publications CafeLit, Spillwords Press, and Mercurial Stories. Her short story “The Clock Struck Twelve” was voted readers’ favorite in Fireburst: The Inner Circle Writers’ Group Second Flash Fiction Anthology 2018 and was selected to appear in Gold: The Best from Clarendon House Anthologies Volume One 2017/2018. Her author biography was recently featured in Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020 by Sweetycat Press. Brandy currently resides in Ohio with her husband and son.
I’m honored to appear as a guest author on The Topaz Journal’s Blog.
I have been putting pen to paper for as long as I can remember and was making up stories before I could even write them down. At the age of five or six, I remember dictating stories to my mom so she could write them down for me in small, stapled-together books I’d illustrated. In the third grade, I can recall my teacher coming by my desk to ask what I was working on. I told her I was writing the first chapter of my book. She chuckled and moved on. Two years later, at age eleven, I finally finished writing a children’s chapter book and entered it into a National Children’s Book Competition. It did not win publication, but it did garner a lot of attention in my small-town school and spurred my passion for someday becoming a published author.
Growing up, I devoured the works of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sheri S. Tepper, Piers Anthony, Michael Crichton, and Frank Herbert, all of whom influenced my writing over the years. I was also heavily influenced by my rural upbringing in southeastern Ohio. The Appalachian foothills are rich with culture, history, and folklore, and these things regularly find their way into my stories. I find inspiration everywhere, often when I least expect it.
I always wanted to be an author when I “grew up”, but if I had a second dream job, it would be an archaeologist. I would love to be able to travel, but since life keeps me close to home, I find my own local adventures. I’m fortunate enough to live in an area once inhabited by the prehistoric culture known as the “Mound Builders”. While hundreds of their earthworks have been destroyed, many impressive mounds remain and make great daytrip destinations for my family. My favorite location is The Great Serpent Mound, which I’ve been privileged enough to visit several times. Many of these places have been known to sneak into my stories on occasion.
I’m not sure I’m qualified to give advice, but if I had to offer some up to any aspiring authors, it would be to read a lot and write often. Learn the rules before you decide if you want to break them. Learn to take constructive criticism. You don’t always have to follow it but listen to it with an open mind. Learning from others is how we grow ourselves. Never stop learning. There’s always someone out there who knows more than you do. Don’t compete with them. Don’t get discouraged by them. Learn from them. And don’t let the naysayers get you down. Just sit your butt in the chair and write. If it was possible for those authors you admire, then it’s possible for you, too.
I’m not a fan of the phrase writer’s block, but for those who struggle with it, the best way to bust through it, in my experience, is to write. You can’t clear a clogged drain by letting the stagnant water sit in it. You have to push through until you make it to the other side. The words don’t have to be perfect; they just need to get onto the page. You can decide what’s worth keeping and fix it later. That’s what editing is for. Yes, writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit at times, but when I start to feel that way, it is usually because I feel burnt out rather than blocked. During these times, I remind myself that while maintaining a regular writing habit is important, it’s also okay to take breaks. Success is a relative term, but for me, success is enjoying the journey. If you’re not enjoying the journey, then you’ll probably be disappointed in the destination.
One of my favorite parts of the writing journey is feeling like I’ve pulled off the perfect ending to a story I’ve been writing. And there’s nothing quite like the feeling of a reader reaching out to tell me how much they enjoyed a story or that they were touched by something I’ve written. Those moments make all the hours of pouring over words on a screen worthwhile. In contrast, I think the most difficult part of the publishing journey for me is the marketing. I’m an introvert to the core, even when it comes to social media, but self-promotion is a necessary evil. “Putting myself out there” has been the hardest part of the process, but something I’ve had to get used to.
When I’m not writing, I dabble in other creative endeavors from drawing and watercolor painting to sewing and needlework. Sometimes finding inspiration in pursuing other forms of art gets the creative juices flowing again, and my painting and needlework have inspired ideas for stories I later went on to write. I also do either yoga or Qigong daily, and lately, with the current COVID-19 situation, I’ve been homeschooling my six-year-old son. With him home all day we never have a dull moment! I have him to thank for inspiring me to write my two children’s stories, “The Day I Turned My Mom into a Dinosaur” and “Mom’s Last Nerve”.
While I have taken a break from my regular writing routine lately to focus on my family during these strange and turbulent times, I am still currently working on compiling my own collection of short stories to be published by Clarendon House Publications.
Again, thank you for having me as a guest author, and to all your readers, please stay safe and take care!
Follow Brandy Bonifas on social media and find publications featuring her work at the following links: