March 11, 2015

As a young teen, I loved to browse my grandma’s well-stocked bookshelves and discover new titles. One day I pulled out the novel Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World by Deb Brammer. The story highlighted friendship and life as a missionary kid. It instantly grabbed me, and so I searched for other books by Deb. I was thrilled when our paths crossed one summer about 8 years ago. She graciously carved out time to share writing tips with me as a young writer and even took a look at the first chapter of Charlotte's Hope. I'm thankful for Deb's heart to mentor young people in the craft of writing. 

Deb Brammer, author of 5 fiction books, 1 biography, and 2 Bible study books, mixes her passion for writing with a passion for ministry. Her extensive ministry resources and fiction works reflect more than 35 years of ministry in Taiwan and New Zealand. Deb has written consistently for Christian publication during her entire missions ministry. She now lives and works in Invercargill, New Zealand, home to the southernmost Starbucks in the world, where she has worked in a church planting ministry with her husband, Art, since 1998. 

Q: What first sparked your interest in writing?


A: I learned to love creative writing in school. As a teenager I read a lot of Christian fiction, and dreamed of writing books like those. At Faith Baptist Bible College my professor, Mr. Townsend, helped me divide my long-range goal of writing Christian fiction and resources into short-range goals that I could begin to work on right away. He showed me how to submit short stories and articles for publication and I began to submit articles and get them published.

Now, thirty-five years later, I continue to write. My motivation for writing comes partly from a passion to write that is similar to a quilter’s passion for quilting or a classic car guy’s passion to restore old cars. But writing goes beyond being a fun hobby when you know that your writing can change lives.

Q: Who are your favorite fiction authors?

A: I like different authors for different things. In general, I love Christian fiction about quirky characters faced with awkward and confusing situations who are challenged to live for God. I like stories that deal with serious, real issues in a light-hearted way. Some of my favorite Christian fiction books are:

The Fairlawn Series by Angela Hunt in which a widow inherits a funeral home and has to learn how to run it. It shares many light-hearted moments but the main character learns that running a funeral home can be a true ministry.

I love Tim Downs’ Bug Man Series (the best is Less Than Dead) for his outrageous humor, but they don’t have a lot of message to them.

Terri Blackstock’s Cape Refuge Series and Truth Stained Lies are great examples of well-written mysteries with an emphasis on relationships and serving others.

It’s hard to beat Bodie Thoene’s Zion Chronicles for historical novels that present different viewpoints fairly. This series helped me to understand issues surrounding Israel’s recent history.

Rene Gutteridge often features great quirky characters and fun book titles. I like different books for different things, but the Storm Series is good.

Of course, no one writes allegory like C.S. Lewis. His Chronicles of Narnia gave me a fresh view of Christ through allegory.

Q: How long does it take you to write a book?

A: Sometimes I can write a book in a year. Sometimes it’s taken a year to write a book and another year to revise it for an editor and work out all the issues. Edges of Truth: The Mary Weaver Story took two full years of research, writing, and communicating with Mary and my co-author.

Q: How many books have you written?

A: I’ve had eight books published. Peanut Butter Friends in a Chop Suey World and Two Sides to Everything are written for pre-teens and involve cultural changes made by an American in Taiwan and New Zealand. Moose is fiction for teens written about a Montana Bible Camp. I used a pen name to write a book about a sensitive ministry. These are all published by Bob Jones University Press.

Edges of Truth is the true story of Mary Weaver, an innocent caregiver who was accused of first-degree murder of a baby who quit breathing in her care. My husband and I wrote a companion Bible study for that book called, I Survived! Five Bible Characters Who Survived Disaster.

Regular Baptist Press published an ESL Bible study book of mine.

And I just published my first adult fiction, Broken Windows. I’m working on the sequel for that now.

Q: Which is your favorite book that you’ve written?

A: I like different things about all my books, but my favorite is probably Edges of Truth. God wrote this amazing story in lives; then I and my co-author recorded it. This is a great story of faith that survives the fire. It challenged me as I wrote it.

Mary’s story literally opened prison doors for some innocent caregivers. Now the book is part of an effort to bring lasting change to our American legal system. Just today a petition has gone live to re-examine the medical basis which has been responsible for many wrongful convictions.

Q: What advice would you give to young writers who want to improve in their fiction writing? 

1. Don’t start with a book. Hone your writing skills on shorter pieces like short stories and articles.

2. Enter some contests. Find out the guidelines of the contest and write your story or article to be a good fit for that contest.

3. When you want to begin writing for publication, target several publications you’d like to write for. Get the writer’s guidelines from their websites. Study the stories or articles they use.  Rather than writing what you feel like writing, try to write find out what they need and write to meet that need.

4. Always continue to improve your craft. You’ll find many articles on my website to get you started.

Q: How do you get past writer’s block?

A: I actually don’t get much of this. I struggle more to find time to write what I’m already thinking about. Ideas are like muscles; the more you use them the more you have. Capture ideas by writing them down. Nourish ideas by reading or watching stories, analyzing them, thinking about how you’d write them differently. When I need to think through a scene before writing, I talk a walk or eat a snack. In James Bell’s chapter on “How to Explode with Plot Ideas,” (Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell) he says, “The journey of a thousand miles requires plenty of snacks.” Warning: This may increase your dress size.

Q: What do you do when you’re not writing?

A: I am a full-time missionary in New Zealand, so I’m busy with ministry: teaching, organizing, planning, entertaining, Bible studies, music. Actually my missionary tasks and my writing ministry work well together. All of the free ministry resources on my website come from my own ministry. I’ve always loved to do crafty things as well, but most of my craft time gets pushed aside for writing, unless it helps my ministry. 

Q: Tell us about your recent release of Broken Windows. Why did you choose the setting of Boise, Idaho? I can't wait to read this.

A: I just launched Broken Windows on the weekend of Valentine’s Day. I wanted to put four single adults in their twenties in a living situation where they were forced to spend a lot of time together, rub each other the wrong way, challenge each other, and succeed together. I needed a city that was large enough to provide the various opportunities they needed, but small enough to not be isolated in the crowds. I chose Boise because I grew up in Colorado and Montana is our furlough home. I wanted a setting that I hadn’t already used, but one in which I could understand the cultural mindset. Once I chose it as a setting, I learned a lot of fun things about Boise. 

Q: What are you working on now? 

A: I’m working on the sequel to Broken Windows set in Minneapolis. 

Q: Where can readers find out more about you? 

Website and blog - My blog includes subjects of interest to writers 
as well as people in ministry.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure and check out Changes in Christian Publication || Seen by Deb Brammer.


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