Unexpected Employment Changes

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Note: Edited on August 20, 2021, in order to clarify some points that I did not communicate clearly in the first publication, which caused some hurt feelings with some former coworkers. That was never my intent because I care for those people very much and would never intentionally hurt anyone. People who know me well know my heart.

Growing up, I knew that my parents were careful with their money. They worked hard for what they had, and when each of them faced a job loss, they took it in stride and found something else to support our family. It’s what good parents do—they provide for their children. It’s what adults do. When one job doesn’t work out, we have to find another. So what’s the difference between a job and a career? I think it’s the love of a job that makes it a career.

I went through the typical childhood dreams of being unsure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Eventually, I settled on writing as an art form. It’s always the expression of myself from which I couldn’t stay away for too long. Sure, I took breaks over the years from the more creative aspects, but the writing was always there, waiting inside me out of loyalty, talent, and true passion for it.

Getting a real grown-up job was something I fell into while working on my master’s degree in college student personnel at Arkansas Tech University. While completing my bachelor’s in creative writing in early 2003, I learned of the new program starting its first cohort soon. Since I loved working as a senior fellow in the English department at ATU, I knew going to graduate college was the next step because I truly loved being in the college environment. Continue reading

About my novels

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It’s been a while since I’ve written about my four published novels, so I thought I would share some information about them as well as some reviews from Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are super important for authors, especially independent ones. Reviews help other readers take a chance on an unknown author.
 
The four novels below are available at Dog Ear Books in Russellville, Arkansas, and on Amazon.com.
 
About Caroline’s Lighthouse:
What really happened at Bettencourt Estate?

In the mid-1800s, Caroline Marshall was forced to accept the marriage proposal of an attorney from a neighboring town. However, Caroline was in love with Thomas Cooper, the caretaker of the Bettencourt Estate Lighthouse and an orphan whom the family had taken in several years prior. At seventeen, Caroline took her own life by leaping from the top of the lighthouse. Upon learning what she had done, Thomas did the same.

Following the tragedy, the lighthouse was locked and never used again. In the years since the lovers’ suicides, people in the small town of Bettencourt, Virginia, watch as the abandoned lighthouse glows every year on the anniversary of Caroline’s death. The estate is rumored to be the most haunted place in town, riddled with tragedy for anyone who tries to live there.

In 1996, fifteen-year-old Caroline Douglas, named after the legendary ghost, visits the estate that has been in her mother’s family for generations. She’s not there long before strange things begin to happen. With help from her family and her best friend, Bo, will Caroline solve the mystery surrounding the haunting of her inherited home before it’s too late?
 
Praise from Naomi Raven on Amazon: Caroline and her family travel to the family estate. There they find ghosts and a mystery. Caroline’s Lighthouse is a remarkable tale of the past meeting the present. It is also a tale of the longevity of love. I adored it!”
 
Praise from Brandy N. on Amazon: Caroline’s Lighthouse was a wonderful read both me and my 12-year-old enjoyed. My daughter had no trouble with reading this story and enjoyed it very much. Not once did this story fall flat as we follow Caroline through her journey of discovering the truth and dealing with new found love. It’s beautiful and sad in all the beautiful ways it can be.
 
About Jordan’s Sister:
What if family obligations conflict with following your heart?

Former child star and aspiring singer, Taylor, lives in the shadow of her sister Jordan’s fame. Having a celebrity sister sounds like a dream, but the perfect facade shatters when Jordan unleashes her cruel, manipulative wrath on Taylor.

Afraid to open her heart to anyone, Taylor struggles to find her voice while spending time with Layne, a former boy band member overcoming his own issues. She tries to keep Layne at a distance to protect him from Jordan, but he won’t go without a fight.

Will Taylor find her own cadence, or will Jordan destroy everything she’s worked for?
 
Praise from Liz on Amazon: “This book really captured my attention from the moment I started reading it. Typically it takes me a few chapters to get really into a book, but from the first few pages I was glued to this story. Like another reader said, I too found myself wondering what was going on with the characters while I wasn’t reading. The story really comes together and the characters are so well-formed that this book is a must-read!”
 
Praise from Emily Y on Amazon: “There was something about Jordan’s Sister that stuck with me. Even when I was going about my day I would find myself wondering what Taylor and Layne were up to and where their story was headed. I can’t recall another book where that has happened. As I read the words I saw it play out in my mind as a movie. A very vivid movie that I couldn’t take my eyes off of. The only thing that I wish would have been included was having someone actually record the songs the characters wrote so I could get them stuck in my head for the rest of time.”
 
About What I Learned That Summer:
Lesson One: Shut up long enough to listen.

At almost sixteen, aspiring writer Kincaid Walsh isn’t thrilled about spending the whole summer with her grandparents and aunt at their small motel in Arkansas.

Away from her friends, Kincaid agrees to her grandfather’s challenge to write down every lesson she learns during her time there. As Kincaid struggles to heal from her painful past, she learns more than she ever imagined when she meets one of her writing idols.

When they’re forced to work together, Kincaid is annoyed by Joseph, the teenage maintenance guy, but she soon realizes he’s hiding heartache of his own.

What other lessons will her summer hold? Only time will tell.
 
Praise from Eli Cranor on Amazon: “Such a great read! I tore through this book. Collins’ characters are real people you can’t help but root for. My favorite character arc was that of Kincaid’s. A heartbreaking story, but one that will keep you flipping the pages! Highly recommend.”
 
Praise from Cary on Amazon:“I was dubious at first, and then the author proceeded to hit me in the feel when I least expected it… More than once.”
 
 
About One Shot:
What happened to Julia Manchester?

When 13-year-old Julia disappears after a babysitting job, her older sisters Charlotte and Liv fear the worst. With their father running for president and their mother a retired actress—anyone could have taken Julia.

Exhausted from growing up in the public eye, the Manchester sisters want every spotlight shined on their family to find Julia—if they can convince the police she’s not a runaway.

Soon, Charlotte’s boyfriend Vincent suspects there’s something sinister about Julia’s disappearance, but Charlotte doesn’t know what to believe or who to trust.

Will Julia make it home safely, and will her family ever recover?
 
Praise from Alexis on Amazon:“This book had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. The Manchester family, in the midst of a presidential campaign, thinks their world is shook when the eldest of three sisters comes home to share some news, but shortly after their world is turned upside down when the youngest sister goes missing! The prologue starts off with a bang and it definitely ends with a bang. It was wonderfully written with beautiful relationships, just enough romance, and lots of excitement. My favorite from Collins so far!”
 
 
Praise from Sarah Dale on Goodreads:“Another great story by Brandi Easterling Collins. I loved the suspense and tension. Can’t wait to read more from this author.”
 
I’m working on my fifth novel, though slowly. I hope for a 2022 publication date for Lydia’s story. I am basing some of it off of my very first attempted novel called When Does Life Begin? that I wrote when I was 13. Obviously, it needs a lot of work, and probably only a few things in the original plot will survive my edits, but it is nice to see my collection of novels take shape into formats ready for publishing.

In the meantime, check out my current novels and writing on this website.
-Brandi Easterling Collins

Self-editing a Story: What it Takes

Woman typing on laptop
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Independent publishing takes perseverance, time, guts, and high self-esteem. It also takes money if you need to hire people for services such as book file setup, cover creation, and editing.

I’m fortunate that I work as a professional editor in my day job and that I have graphic design experience. Because of these skills, I am better equipped than some indie authors when it comes to setting up my own book files and creating my own covers.

Editing is a HUGE step in publishing a novel. Reader reviews can be brutal, and nothing spells amateur quite like publishing a book full of grammatical errors and typos. Of course, no one is perfect. Even major publications will have typos. It’s just inevitable. Thankfully, there are tools and strategies to help. These are a few things I’ve learned.
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