Hey guys! Please welcome author Pat Brannon to the blog today! I’m happy to have her here! She has known my family for a while now, and she and I meet every now and then at the local Mexican restaurant to have lunch. Her son was on the blog a few weeks ago, Jason Brannon, and now, here she is to discuss with us her writing!
Welcome, Mrs. Pat, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Absolutely. I’m a Christian and children’s author, a Southern Gospel songwriter, a speaker, an entertainer and an encourager and I have eight books currently out. I have been married for nearly 38 years to a wonderful, hardworking Christian man and we have two amazing sons-Jason and Shawn and one adorable grandson Elijah Nic that keeps me on my toes. For some strange reason, Elijah constantly tells me how funny I am. I don’t see it, but he does.
One thing your readers probably won’t know about me is that I got married on Valentine’s Day so my husband wouldn’t forget our anniversary. LOL! True story. Very true. It’s worked too.
Another thing they may not know about me is I love laughter. I love to have fun and I would even go so far as to say I have a warped sense of humor. Sometimes I buy $5.00 joke books (clean ones) to have fun and relieve stress. The cornier the jokes, the better. There are some folks who go to a therapist and pay hundreds of dollars to get that same feeling. but not me. I’ve never been to a therapist of any kind in my life.
I love to write books and songs and I love to sing. In times past I have appeared on the small stage, several radio and television programs numerous times and I’ve been a member of three Country bands. I am the founding member of Lifeline, a local Southern Gospel group in my church, a member of our Adult Sanctuary Choir and I am a featured vocalist.
As a songwriter, I’m still waiting for my big break in the music business, but I have faith it will happen if it’s meant to happen.
With my books, I do author visits at schools where I do an anti-bullying presentation for all ages. I was verbally bullied as a child and adult. My son Jason and my mother were both bullied too. I am totally against bullying of any kind and I try to educate children and adults about this enormous problem at my school visits.
I’m extremely family oriented. I love spending time with my family and making memories with them whether it’s a night at home where we’re playing board games, having a “jam session” or taking trips together. If my family is together and in the words of Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame, I’m HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY!
In 2006 I was diagnosed with non-Hogkin’s lymphona. I was cancer free for 5 1/2 years when my cancer returned in 2011. It was the same kind of cancer, so my local oncologist decided I needed a stem cell transplant at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The whole idea of a transplant is to totally eliminate every trace of cancer from your body. My husband Howard and I spent six weeks at the Mayo Clinic and it was tough. But, I’m a fighter and I knew God would bring me through it, so it was just a matter of taking it a day at a time and healing up. Actually, it was like taking baby steps.
My family was invaluable when I was sick. Howard, my husband, was my caregiver at the Mayo Clinic. (You have no idea how important a caregiver is). My sons took up the slack at home. My taste buds died due to all the chemo I’ve taken. My appetite is returning, but there are still plenty of foods and drink that I can’t handle even though it’s been over a year since I started this journey to get well in the fall of 2011.There are other foods I can eat, so I pick and choose and I’m doing well now and I’m cancer free.
As horribly sick as I was during that transplant journey, the hardest part for me was not seeing my family for six weeks. But I knew I was fighting for my life. I had to do what was necessary to live.
There have been 16 others in my family that have had cancer. Those are just the ones I know of and we’ve all had a different kind. Some of those have passed on and some are still alive and well today. I’ve been told a few times: “I’m sure glad I’m not kin to you.” I’m not offended when I hear that. I understand where those folks are coming from. If I was them, I’d probably feel the same way too.
As much as I love my family and friends, my relationship with God is the most important thing in my life. I’ve been a Christian since August 2, 1970. I’m not the least bit ashamed to say that. Actually, I’m proud I can share that with everyone.
What is the best part of being a children’s author? The worst?
The best part of being a children’s author is watching the children and their parents read my books with smiles on their faces, tell me how much they love my books and to keep doing what I’m doing. Their encouragement is priceless.
The worst part is when folks assume authors can do every event for free. Some folks think you can travel 500 miles and your book sells will cover your cost of mileage, a motel for one night or many, food and any other expenses that might be incurred. It’s not like this for everyone, but this is my job. I treat it as such and work hard at what I do. I can’t do this for free all the time and you can NEVER count on book sells. When doing book signings, one day I may sell one book because a business didn’t promote me. The next day I may sell 90 books or more. Those kind of sells will not pay my expenses.
My nieces love Quirky Kid’s Zoo and Has a Donkey Ever Brought You Breakfast in Bed. What inspired the quirky nature of these two books? Your other books?
As a substitute teacher for 10 years in the Amory, MS School District and raising two sons and a grandson, I know that children love to read highly visual books. I’m always inspired to write fun, entertaining and often educational books. I don’t like to be preachy in my books. I want them to be loaded with fun, but still contain something useful for the children that they can use later in life. If a child loves a book, they will read it over and over and over. They might learn new words in my book and increase their vocabulary that way. I try to write age-appropriate books, but every now and then I’ll purposely slip in a word that a child may not know. That’s a perfect opportunity for a parent or teacher to explain the definition of that word and it become a learning lesson without the child realizing they’re learning. Those two books also are rhyming books, so there is an added educational tool for the children there.
I have three rules when it comes to writing books for children. My books must be clean, wholesome and suitable for the entire family, lots of fun and you must be able to learn something from them without it being blatantly obvious.
What is a promotional secret you’re willing to share with us?
Well, anyone that follows me knows that I’m a Facebook fanatic. LOL! That is my #1 way to get the message around that I have a new book out. However, what it basically comes down to for me is hard work and long hours. And networking is HUGE. It’s not always what you know, but who you know. I find that to be true in every business.
NO, NO, and NO. I AM a talker, so I can talk 100,000 words a day to family, friends, even total strangers, but I can’t write a book that you could understand with that many words. If I wrote a book like that, I’m afraid it wouldn’t make any sense to anybody. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t, even positive it wouldn’t.
My longest book thus far has been my short story collection: Mud Puddles and Muscadines. My Christian poetry book has many words too, but mostly I write children’s books. The most recent ones contain less than 400 words. I’m wondering if I’ve been working too hard at this writing thing. My rhyming picture books are turning out to be big hits, so I don’t see any reason to return to longer books when these are the kinds of books that folks are starting to expect from me.
What’s next for you?
I have written two children’s books about the youngest “sunshine” of my life, my one and only grandchild Elijah. It’s another rhyming picture book titled Elijah Teaches His Friends the ABCs. I also have several more rhyming picture books that I’m eager to get published. Some of them have crazy titles, which I love by the way. Some examples are: The Swizzledorfers Visit the Big Top, Meet the Darlin’ Dujeezeys and Dorothea Matilda Cornelia Lucille. They are all vastly different, but they will be fun and I think, I hope the children will love them. I am steadfast in my quest to have bold colors in my children’s books and fun titles. I also want to get more Christian books out.
For a little fun, what is your favorite movie?
I guess I don’t just have one favorite movie anymore. For a long time, it has been Holiday Inn. I could watch that movie every day I believe. I love the music, Bing Crosby and everything about it. However, I’ve gotten hooked on The Christmas Card on TV the past two years. I’m a sucker for happy endings. I’ve lost track how many times I’ve watched it. And, I love EVERY movie done by Alex and Stephen Kendrick (Facing the Giants, Flywheel, Fireproof and Courageous). The success of those movies tells me that you don’t have to make filthy movies to attract customers to the movie theatre. I think folks are hungry for good movies again, movies they can watch together as a family.
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