Saturday, March 7, 2015

Visiting Author: Brynn Stein with Ray of Sunlight

Today I'm featuring an interview with Brynn Stein about herself, her writing habits, and her upcoming release, Ray of Sunlight (March 19th!). Plus she has a contest, so make sure you check out the whole post.

Blog Tour for:

This is the fifth stop on my blog tour. I’m having such fun, as I always do on these tours, talking about various aspects of writing, and getting to know all of you. Thanks so much for following the tour. If this is your first stop, feel free to go back and comment on previous stops to be entered to win one of five prizes. More about that later.

Thanks so much Alicia for having me on your blog today. Your interview questions were such fun.

Are you a person who makes their bed in the morning, or do you not see much point?
Honestly, I don’t see the point. I have a bad back and knees so I have molded body pillows everywhere that I’d have to move then just move right back.  I WANT to make my bed, and I much prefer the way my room looks when I make it but my morning time is precious and I’d much prefer to spend it reading and relaxing and getting reading for a stressful day.

Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate. Hands down.

What’s the first novel you remember reading?
A Wrinkle in Time. I know that wasn’t the first one I read, but it’s the first one that left such a big imprint that I remember it (mumble, mumble) years later.

What got you interested in writing?
If you mean writing in general, I’m not sure. I don’t remember a time that I wasn’t writing. My mother has a story about a talking snowball that I wrote when I was five. (Okay, so I’m sure I dictated it more than wrote it, but you know what I mean).

If you mean writing things to share with others, when I found online fan fiction communities, I was thrilled. I’d been writing fan fiction long before I knew what it was called, so being able to share it with others, and actually having them like it, was icing on the cake.

If you mean writing professionally, I’ve always wanted to, in a “wouldn’t it be nice” sort of way, but when a friend of mine told me to de-fandom one of my alternate universe fan fics (which really was just this side of original fiction anyway) and gave me the name of a publisher to whom to submit it, I grabbed the chance…really not expecting it to go anywhere. I was surprised and thrilled when Haunted got accepted. Now I’m on book four being released, with two more under contract. I can hardly believe it.

And I realize I still haven’t really answered your question, so I guess the short answer is “I don’t know. I just always have been.”

Do you have any writing rituals like a listening to music, a certain place to write, or a set time of day?
I usually write in the evening, after work. I come home from that stressful day I talked about, and get dinner, then tidy the house (still don’t make that pesky bed though). Do laundry, bills, anything that’s going to nag at me that I should be doing. Then I do something dangerous…I check email. There are valid reasons for this, and if it stopped at email, I’d be fine. But I sometimes get sucked into Facebook and lose valuable writing time, or don’t get to write at all that night. Fortunately, that last one doesn’t happen very often.

When I’m good, however, and just quickly check my mail and stay away from FB, I then grab a drink and a bag of Cheetos and sit down to write. I sometimes listen to music. If so, it’s usually instrumental.  I find trying to listen to music with words distracts me because I want to sing with it. But, when my daughter is over and wants the TV on, I can write with that in the background, no problem, and that has words. It must be the singing thing. I can tune out voices, but not songs. Go figure.

Sometimes, though, I just want everything to be quiet so I can sit and write in peace. Rituals change often or sometimes daily, though, without intent on my part or warning on the part of the universe. I’m getting better at rolling with it. <G>

Your eBooks include a contemporary story set in the 60s and later, a contemporary paranormal, a contemporary adult with children, so why the switch to a YA title?
You know, I’m not sure I can answer that one either. I was driving to a friend’s house, about an hour away, and there was nothing on the radio I wanted to listen to. So, I turned the radio off and just drove. Dangerous thing that, because my mind wanders to things I have to do, or scenes I want to write for upcoming stories, or things like that. This time, it wandered to a full blown story about CJ and Russ.

Now, probably one thing my mind was drawing from was my real life job. I work with kids like Russ. Kids with behavior problems and/or attitude problems who have been in and out of juvenile detention. I have students of other types as well, but my students include this type of child. One who thinks that anything bad that happens to him is someone else’s fault. Our therapist calls them Teflon kids. Nothing sticks to them. And, fortunately, I’ve seen this kind of turnaround in our kids. Not always. Not often enough. But it happens.

As to why that would suddenly want to be in a story, though, I can’t answer that. I’ve had this same job the entire time I’ve been a published author (that still gives me goose bumps to say), and we haven’t gotten any students lately that particularly remind me of Russ, so…

I don’t know. (I’m not really answering these question very well, am I?<G>)

What kind of research did you do for Russ and CJ’s difficulties, as their lives include a lot of interaction with the legal and medical systems?
The legal system stuff I already knew…again, my students really go through this kind of stuff.

The medical system stuff…years ago, when my own kids were little, I worked as a homebound teacher so I could have more flexible hours. One of my homebound kids had the same type of cancer CJ has. When she was actually hospitalized, they had an educator on staff with whom I coordinated closely. When she was home between treatments, I worked with her to keep her caught up with her schoolwork. So I got a good bit of what life was like in the Children’s Hospital she went to for treatments, and how the treatments affected her, etc.

Unfortunately, I’ve had quite a few other people in my life have cancer of various types, so I’m familiar with the side effects of treatments. To round out everything though, I turned to Google. I’m not sure I ended up with that much more information after researching, but I love to research. I’m nerdy that way <G>. Google and I have a secret love affair. It would miss me if I didn’t go researching with it <G>.

What was your favorite part of Ray of Sunlight?
My favorite comedic part is the road trip. It mirrors the trip my daughter and I took to Florida. We were bored and started reading all the signs we passed, street names included. My daughter has just as dirty a mind as CJ does and the whole ‘game’ quickly deteriorated into ‘how dirty can I make that sign I just saw, without changing it too much’. My daughter was actually the one to suggest the scene. After we dissolved into laughter about the roadside boutique that claimed to ‘have it all’, she said, you know, CJ would have a ball with all of this. You need to take him on a road trip. <G>

My favorite non comedic part is Russ speaking to the people in Pete’s church, trying to get volunteers for a program CJ wants to do for the kids at the hospital. It’s the first sign we see of Russ maturing and thinking of others beside himself. He’s not a public speaker. He hates it. He’s the kind of kid who prefers not to try anything he doesn’t think he’ll be good at and then just claim he’s not good at it because he didn’t try. He doesn’t want to be there. But he is because it’s for CJ. For literally the first time in his life, he’s doing something he hates because someone he loves needs him to. It’s pretty cool to watch. I’ve seen some of my students go through this kind of transformation and I love to see it.

Can you share a little of your current work-in-progress?
I’m currently working on a story about a burn victim and a paramedic. Again, drawing from life…sort of. My daughter is an EMT, and runs with a squad, so she can give me the details I need there. I have a wonderful lady on an email list, who has worked with burn victims for a long time, so she’s helping me out there. Of course, Google and I are going on frequent dates. As gruesome as the research is, it’s still fascinating.

This story was inspired by what could have been a tragedy. Last summer, my daughter was lighting her grill for the first time. She thought she had let out the first blast of gas and let it all dissipate. She was trying to be very safe. I was getting things ready in the kitchen and heard a scream from outside. The sight that greeted me almost stopped my heart. Her hair was on fire and she was holding her face, screaming. I grabbed a blanket she had brought out to lie on and got the fire off her hair. Burnt hair is almost indescribable. It’s like singed little curly wires. I finally got her to put her hands down. She had no eyebrows or facial hair of any kind. You know that fine little layer of peach fuzz most people, even girls, have? Gone. The hairs in her nose were singed. The eyelashes on one side were gone and were singed on the other. Luckily her skin wasn’t burned too badly. Just really red like a sunburn. We rushed her to the doctor’s, just to be safe and she was fine. She wouldn’t go near the grill the rest of the summer, but was otherwise fine. But she told me that there had to be a story for me to write in there somewhere.

Sure enough, a couple of days later, Lane started talking to me. I’m not very far with it yet, and of course, have no way of knowing if it’ll be accepted. But that’s what I’m currently working on.



What about all of you? Make your bed or not? Chocolate or vanilla? What was the first novel you remember reading? Answer any of the questions from the interview or comment on any of mine answers for a chance to win.

So here’s how the giveaway will work. Visit as many sites as you want, as often as you want. Each comment will enter you to win one of the following prizes: 1st) An autographed paperback copy of Ray of Sunlight, 2nd) An electronic copy of Ray of Sunlight, 3rd) Your choice of audio or electronic copy of Living Again, 4th) An electronic copy of Through the Years, and 5th) an electronic copy of Haunted. The takeovers for Harmony Ink’s blog and Facebook page will be part of the tour, so comments on there will count. I will draw the winners during the FB takeover and will announce them then, but will come back and announce it to all the sites too. So, you don’t have to leave your email if you don’t want to, just remember to check back. You’re also welcome to leave your email in the comments if you’d rather or email me at with the subject heading of “just in case”, so I can contact you if you win, if you don’t want to have to stop back by the blog sites. You don’t have to be present at the FB takeover to win.

Thanks for playing.
Blog Tour Stops
Bike Books Review
Grace Duncan
Susan Laine
Jo Ramsey
Alicia Nordwell
Jana Denardo
Lex Chase
Sean Michael
Charley Descoteaux
Anne Barwell
Karenna Colcroft
Anna Butler
Nic Starr
Shae Conner
Jessica Davies
Aidee Ladnier
Emma Tett
Harmony Ink Blog
Harmony Ink Facebook Page


Ray of Sunlight
 Russ Michaels has his whole life ahead of him but no plans beyond dropping out of school as soon as he turns eighteen. He’s been in and out of juvenile detention for the last four years and thoroughly expects to end up in an adult penitentiary at some point. He hates life and everyone in it, especially this latest community service that he earned in lieu of juvie yet again.

CJ Calhoun has big plans. He wants to bring joy and happiness to sick and injured children for as long as he can by performing as a clown. The problem is, he has stage-four cancer and a horrible prognosis.

When circumstances throw these two polar opposites together, they find they have more in common than they imagined. CJ discovers Russ’s talent for art and arranges for Russ to create a mural in the hospital foyer, which leads to a tentative scholarship to the Art Institute. As life changes in ways neither of them could have expected, Russ must work harder than ever to better himself as CJ struggles with his deteriorating health.


Brynn Stein

Brynn Stein has always loved to write. Fan fiction, original fiction, whatever. While Brynn wrote in numerous genres—everything from mystery, to contemporary, to supernatural—she had always tended toward strong male characters. And then she discovered “slash,” male/male romance, and all those strong male characters were finally allowed to express their love for one another. It seems that there are always at least two characters clamoring to tell Brynn their story.

Brynn lives in Virginia near her two grown daughters who encourage her writing and provide a sounding board for fledgling stories. When she isn’t writing, Brynn teaches children with special needs. In free time, when such a thing exists, she reads anything she can get her hands on, and haunts bookstores. She draws and paints, and enjoys the outdoors—especially if she can get to the beach—and is always thinking about her next story.

Please feel free to contact Brynn at any of the following:


  1. Another great interview! Thank you for sharing! I tend to not make my bed. I love chocolate, but vanilla sometimes becomes a favorite too.


  2. Another non bed-maker. Cool. Thanks for commenting Jen.

  3. Great post, thank you for sharing. I love learning about how much and what type of research authors do.

    I never make my bed. I love chocolate and will eat a lot of it if I see it. First novel that I read that wasn't part of the The Babysitter Club...The Witch of Blackbird Pond or The Metamorphosis...I can't remember which it was but both books were recommended to me by my older sister at the time.

  4. Thank you for another interesting post and questions, I also enjoy reading fanfiction and also like the writers original work, some of which has gone on to be published.

    I am not allowed chocolate, so I have to safely go with vanilla :) I have also been writing stories and also poetry, mostly funny ones, for most of my life and reading since I can remember, okay maybe reading with my parents of grandparents to be more accurate. But I did read from an early age, possibly first novels were Alice in Wonderland or the Secret Garden/Little Lord Fauntleroy by Francis Hodgson Burnett. Another favourite was Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff.


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