Monthly Archives: September 2017

Inspiration for the novel Still Waters by Lindsey Brackett

Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. A blogger since 2010, she has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Thriving Family, Country Extra, HomeLife, Northeast Georgia Living, Splickety Magazine, Spark Magazine, and Southern Writers Magazine. In both 2015 and 2017, she placed in the top ten for Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group, and currently she is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books. In addition, she writes a popular column for several North Georgia newspapers.
Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is her debut novel. A story about the power of family and forgiveness, it’s been called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing.” A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children.
Connect with her at www.lindseypbrackett.com, where she Just Writes Life, on Facebook as Lindsey P. Brackett, on Instagram @lindseypbrackett, or on Twitter @lindsbrac.

I’m so happy to have my friend and mentor, Lindsey Brackett, guest blogging this week. If you have been following me at all, you know that Lindsey’s first book, Still Waters, launched on September 8th. It is a story of family, forgiveness, and love set on Edisto Island, South Carolina. Click here to read my review: Still Waters Review 

In this post, Lindsey shares the story behind Still Waters. Enjoy the behind the scenes tour and order yours here: Amazon

Everyone always wants to know the story behind the story, especially when you do a good Southern thing and steal from your family history to write a book.

Truth is, my novel, Still Waters, really started with a place—Edisto Beach, where my family spent most summers of my childhood. Nan is actually modeled after my maternal grandmother. My cousins and I called her Grandmommy White Hair. She died, unexpectedly, the Christmas I was ten. Much of this story was motivated by the “what if she’d lived” scenario. What would she have been like for me to experience as an adult? She was a true Southern lady and my mother, aunt, and uncle make sure we grandkids remember her and our grandfather, who died two years later. They told us he died of a broken heart.

My grandparents farmed tobacco in Colleton County, South Carolina. Every summer in August, after the tobacco was brought in from the fields, the family went to Edisto Beach. She and her siblings continued this tradition with their children, and each summer we rented a big, ramshackle house for a week. We hunted snail shells and made homemade ice cream and watched Grandmommy play solitaire.

On Edisto, time somehow seems to move more slowly. So when I wrote Still Waters, I focused on getting that Edisto pace just right. There’s a phrase I use in the story “an invitation to linger hung among the Spanish moss of the live oaks edging the highway” and for me, that captures this sense of stepping back in time. It’s a place to let your soul be refreshed—or restored like Cora Anne’s.

Ultimately this has always been a story of homecoming, relying on the power of family that ties us to a place. Perhaps that’s why it’s struck such a chord with so many people, already, so early in its release. All I did was attempt to evoke what compelled my family to return to this almost-forgotten piece of shore—you truly drive through forgotten America to find it—and somehow, that has spoken to many readers.

I think it’s because we all want to find that one place we belong, that one place that we call home, that one place, where you can go back and no matter how long you’ve been gone—you’re a local. Your roots are embedded there. Edisto is my place and it has been a joy to share it with this story.

Drop me a line and tell me about yours?

Why We Need Critique Groups

A published novel is always the work of a team. One of my favorite parts of books is the acknowledgment’s page. Go ahead and call me a book nerd, but I love to see all the people that have contributed to a finished manuscript. Almost always the name of a critique group will be included with a list of names. At my first writers’ conference, I set out on a mission to find my group and prayed God the right people in my path.

 

My First Critique Group at the 2016 ACFW Conference. Photo credits Kailee Diaz. Also pictured Amanda Everett and Lauren Luckhart.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been a year since I met four aspiring authors at the AmericanChristian Fiction Writers Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. We live in four different states and are of all ages and stages of life. I fill the role of the old lady with three kids.  These talented women have provided much-needed critique, prayer, encouragement, and often just the right phrase or word. I credit one of them with writing the best opening line for my book blurb and pitch.

 

But one critique group wasn’t enough for me, I now have two more groups of writers to help me on my quest. I need a lot of guidance. One group is mostly for encouragement and has a cute name, but when one of us needs a quick edit, we can hop on our private Facebook group and someone is usually available. Plus, it’s nice to have a safe place to be honest, and let’s face it, vent about the ups and downs of the publishing industry, but only so we can pray for each other of course.

After attending my second writers’ conference, I learned about the Word Weavers critique group that met near my home. Last weekend, I joined them for the first time at the Panera Bread in Fleming Island. At this gathering, one person reads aloud what you have brought and the rest follow along, jotting notes and making suggestions on their own copy. Yikes!!! (Yes, that did deserve three exclamation points.) Nothing like having people you’ve only met once or twice discuss your writing. I certainly didn’t need the cup of Hazelnut coffee, the fear of their thoughts in this open forum caused adrenaline to pump through my veins like I was sprinting for my life. By the way, I forgot to mention as the writer, you are not supposed to respond to the comments. Good news, they were very kind and liked my piece, while they also made valuable suggestions.

This, my friends, is not always how my critiques go, and I’m usually very glad to be by myself and several states away from the person commenting on my work. I may, just may, call her a name or shout my disbelief at her opinion. But most of the time, after I take a few minutes or hours or sometimes days to process the critique, and even when I disagree with a comment, it points to something I need to alter. This is how we learn and grow, and sometimes it is a little painful but well worth the results.

In writing, as in life, the best friends are the ones that will tell you the truth even when it hurts, and trust me nothing hurts more than seeing a red line drawn through one of your brilliant sentences. But it also feels amazing when one of your critique partners starts her comments with “this is some of your best writing,” or “I love your voice.” The best part of my groups is that they care enough to point out the problems, but also pour on the praise when it’s warranted. We all cheer when one of us wins an award, signs with an agent, or publishes a book.

So, since, I don’t get to include an acknowledgment’s page with my flash fiction stories in Spark, and I’m waiting to hear back from an editor for my book, I want to say thank you to the fantastic members of my critique groups. Y’all are the best! Thank you: Kailee, Lauren L., Amanda, Lindsey, Kimberly, Hope, Kelsey, Anna Grace, Lauren C., Jenifer, Victoria, Kelly, and Shari.

How do you take constructive criticism? Do you have a group of friends or a person that will tell you the truth no matter what?

The Right Path

A few weeks ago, I was working on my book proposal and emailing it back and forth with my agent. My agent—every time I say that I feel like I did when I was first engaged and peppered my conversations with my fiancé.

In one of the emails, I wrote, “I just want to make sure I’m on the right path.” This part of the proposal was new to me, and I was worried I was doing it completely wrong.

My agent, (sorry couldn’t help myself) responded, “You ARE on the right path.”

Now, I’m pretty sure he was only referring to the small section of the proposal we were working on, so I didn’t ask if he also meant my writing career as a whole. I decided I would accept the double meaning as encouragement because I’ll take assurance anywhere I can find it these days even if that means reading into a simple phrase. But, I mean, he did emphasize the ARE.

Doubt is my new favorite sin. It used to be worry, but for the most part, I’ve beaten that monster down with prayer and realization of God’s provision in my life. I know doubting means I’m not being faithful, but what if this writing thing isn’t what God wants me to do. I know in my logical brain that He has shown me over and over that I am on the right path.

The ugly doubt monster loves to whisper in my ear. “Maybe, this is all about demonstrating perseverance for your children, or perhaps, it is about connecting people who you meet to further the Kingdom. Like connecting writer friends with the Women’s Ministries Director at my church. It might not be about you publishing books at all, so why are you wasting all this time?”

But my God is bigger and stronger and more faithful than the doubt monster. He orchestrates my successes with disappointments to lessen the blow. He helps me see the side benefits of following his plan. So I can be on the right path and enjoy the people I meet and the sights along the way. This writing journey isn’t just about me being a published author. God’s vision is never that narrow. I love seeing how he is using my writing journey to help other writers and speakers, to prepare me for His work, and to shower blessings on people I barely know.

I praise God for his long-suffering patience and his faithfulness. “His word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105) If I seek Him first and His righteousness, all these things will be given to me. (Matthew 6:33) Because I see how he clothes the grass of the fields and takes care of the birds of the sky, I know he is leading me right where he wants me with all I need to succeed. (Matthew 6:26, 28-30) For I am “confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it to completion.” (Philippians 1:6)

So take that Doubt monster!

What are your doubts? How do you deal with them? Comment below. I’d love to continue this conversation with you.

Flash Fiction: Coming Back from Forty Love

Welcome back, friends. It is the first week of the month, so I will be posting a Flash Fiction piece, Coming Back from Forty Love. This was my first piece of this length, and I wrote it last year as part of a character study for an upcoming novel. I hadn’t planned to publish it, but with the U.S. Open going on this weekend, it seemed like the perfect time. I hope you enjoy it.

Here is the link: http://lesliedevooght.com/flash-fiction/coming-back-from-forty-love/