Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Monday, November 16, 2015

This One's For You by Brandy Jellum (Author Interview / Book Review / Contest Giveaway)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the virtual book tour event for This One's For You by author Brandy Jellum!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews, Brandy!

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself. 

Hi everyone! I’m Brandy Jellum, author of the Say Something Series, as well as my newest standalone titled This One’s For You. When I’m not writing, I’m at home with my husband and our four children, trying to figure out how to not lose my mind. I love to read, especially stories that just completely destroy me. On top of everything else, I just recently finished coaching volleyball at the local middle school, which I loved, and can’t wait until next season. Suffice it to say, I’m always busy, and still waiting on when I can get a clone or two of myself made.

How long have you been a writer?

Officially, I’ve been writing since I was an early teen, starting with songs and poetry. It wasn’t until four years ago that I decided to start writing stories.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career? 

My “day” job is being a wife and mother. I stay at home and think of all the ways not to go crazy. So pretty much being an author is my career. Unless you consider “Super Mom” as a career.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer. 

It really all started when I was 17, and my best friend kept encouraging me to write my own stories. I already wrote other stuff and had my nose stuck in a book. It wasn’t until a few years later when I finally listened. The journey has been filled with incredible high and lows, I’ve met so many amazing people, (authors, bloggers, and readers), and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me!

Please give a brief description/storyline about This One’s For You

This One’s For You is about Brennan Daniels, a freshman in college, who is trying to come to terms with losing her best friend during her senior year in high school. She goes against her families wishes and sets off to school another state away. There she meets Owen Scott, the sexy, irritating as hell guy across the hall. The story follows Brennan through many ups in downs as she struggles to break down barriers and to let people in again. And learning that it is okay to move on with life.

What was the inspiration for this story?

I wrote this story in honor of my best friend, Mirranda, who I lost in August 2015. She was hands down the best person I’ve ever encountered in my life. Many of the characters have physical/personality traits that stem from her. Some instances that occur in the story are elaborations of real life things we experienced. It helped me deal with the loss and grief I still struggle to deal with to this day. Mirranda was my inspiration for the entire story! It was my way of immortalizing a piece of her in this world forever.

How did it feel to have your first book published? 

Wow! I can’t even began to describe how I felt. It was exhilarating, exciting, nerve-wrecking, scary, uncertainty, but all around one of the greatest things I’ve ever felt. It was one of the best days of my life.

Do you write books for a specific genre? 

Romance. All my books that are published now, and future books, all have romance in it in some shape or form. My first two are Romantic Suspense, my third is New Adult, and the next is a Contemporary Romance.

What genres are your favorite(s)? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

New Adult, Young Adult, Romance, Suspense, Thrillers, and the best are ones that include all of them. Harry Potter is my favorite series simply because of the wonderfully, magical world that JK Rowling created. I will forever and always be a Potterhead. Angela’s Ashes, which is a memoir written by Frank McCourt. I started reading it when I was sixteen, ten years later, I still haven’t finished it. The story is so heartbreaking that I can only read a chapter or two at a time every few several months. But it’s still one of my favorites. Hopeless by Colleen Hoover. I recently finished the book, my first of hers, and it immediately became an instant favorite. I’m usually good at figuring out plot twists when it comes to movies, shows, or books, and this one really caught me off guard. Which is why I love it so much! Bone Cold by Erica Spindler is probably my second favorite book. I’m not sure why, it just is. I’ve read it more times I can count. So much so, that I’ve had to replace three copies of it due to wear and tear. The suspense in that book is off the charts and every time I read it, it’s like the first time I’ve ever read it.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing? 

Nope, I write anywhere and everywhere I can manage. Quite literally. Just two weeks ago, we were on the bus going to an away game, and I wrote the entire way there. After the game, we stopped at McDonald’s to eat, and I sat at the table writing while picking at my food. I just do it when I can, despite my surroundings.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books? 

I honestly don’t know. My husband says I’m crazy because I “hear” voices in my head. A new character just comes to mind, starts telling me a story, and asks for it to be told. Maybe I am a little crazy. But that’s how it works. It all starts with a character…

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I try to write every night after everyone’s asleep, but a lot of the times it doesn’t work out. Thanks to Netflix or exhaustion. So I write whenever I can!

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most? 

I love watching how the characters and story evolves. I don’t do much outlining. I have an idea of what happens in the story and how it ends. That’s about it. What I struggle with the most is the beginning of a new story. I think I rewrite beginnings over a dozen times before I’m satisfied. It’s really frustrating at times because if I just got it right the first time, I’d be much further than I am when I finally get it.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I love spending time with my family watching football games or binging on Netflix. Going to our oldest child’s sporting events. Coaching volleyball. Reading. And sleeping…I really love to sleep. Probably because I’m lucky to get even four hours of sleep each night.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received? 

Write the story you want to read. It has helped me in so many ways. For the longest time, I struggled with the whole ‘are people going to like this’ or ‘what if I did this’ kind of thing. It really stunted my writing. When I finally listened to that piece of advice, my writing felt effortless, like it wasn’t being forced, and it’s the greatest feeling. So now, I think, what do I want to read? What do I want to see happen? And go from there.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer? 

Just having my words out there. Knowing that if just one person can take something from my stories, that’s all I could want. I love the sense of accomplishment I get when I complete a new story. I love seeing my covers with my name. I love the overwhelming support that I’ve received. My most gratifying moment was when someone contacted me after they read This One’s For You and told me that it was a beautiful story and just what they needed to deal with a loss of their own. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. A blogger called TOFY “The chicken soup for the grieving soul” and that was an amazing feeling. I can’t even describe it.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans? 

Actually, I’ll be honest. I’m REALLY horrible with my social media presence. I’m so busy all the time that I tend to neglect other areas of my life. I’m working on getting better. I’m trying to be more active on FB, Twitter, doing takeovers, etc. But I always, ALWAYS, respond when readers contact me through PM on my profile (not author page) or email. It’s the best way to get a hold of me because I constantly check them.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination? 

This One’s For You is full of real life experiences. The grief, the sadness, the guilt, the pain…that’s all from me. The struggle to accept what happened and to keep living my life. It’s all there. There are scenes which are elaborated in some ways that I shared with my best friend. In the story, Brennan does something to remember Reagan, and I’ve done the same thing. I could list all the things, but I’ll that to the readers to determine what is real and what isn’t.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer? 

My author BFF CD Taylor inspires me every day! Another inspiration is Tess Thompson her way with words is astronomical. If I ever produce a book with ¼ of her skill set, my life would be complete. I love her books!

What is your definition of success as a writer? 

Just taking the risk. It’s a huge thing to put a part of you out there for the entire world to see and judge. It took forever for me to finally do it. I think that’s a big step toward the path of success. I don’t think success is determined by how many books you’ve sold, what titles you’ve earned, etc. I think that if what you write connects with one person out the billions out there, then the author has done their job. That’s how I feel at least.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us? 

I have a couple ideas I’m toying with, but one is finally starting to take off. Without giving too much away, it’s essentially a second chance love for two former high school sweethearts, but there are more than one obstacle in the way. And the ending…well, I may be hated for it. I may not. It still has a Happily Ever After, but not in the most traditional senses. The story is full of funny, likable characters, which is needed to offset of sadness and despair everyone faces. Maybe not the greatest information, but it’s all I’ve got. I’m still in the early stages of writing.

Brandy, thank you for visiting Jersey Girl Book Reviews, and for sharing with us a bit about yourself and your writing career! 

About The Author

Brandy Jellum’s
passion for writing began long before she actually sat down to write. As a child, she has had an obsession with reading, everything from the classic stories by Jane Austen to YA Fiction by Richelle Mead. Finally, in 2012, she decided to create her own stories for people to fall in love with. Brandy bounces back and forth writing both Romance and Young Adult Fiction (which is mainly just for fun). 

At the beginning of 2014, Brandy signed a contract with publishing company Booktrope. She is very excited about the next chapter of her life and cannot wait to share her books and passion with readers. 

When she isn’t writing, she can be found chasing after her husband, her four children and her black lab, Diesel. Or curled up on her favorite corner of the couch with her newest book.

Author Website

Book Review

This One's For You by Brandy Jellum
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Publication Date: July 22, 2015
Format: Paperback - 324 pages
               Kindle - 2009 KB
               Nook - 746 KB
ISBN: 978-1620158005
BNID: 2940150795792
Genre: New Adult Romance

Buy The Book:

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

All alone in a new state, Brennan Daniels has only the memories of her best friend, Reagan, to keep her company as she starts college.

Reagan is the reason for everything Brennan does—before she died, she made Brennan promise to stay good until she found a man worth keeping. No boys, no dating, and definitely no falling in love—those were the rules for college, and Brennan carved them into the brick walls guarding her heart…

But there’s a fire burning behind those walls, and when Brennan meets Owen Scott, the (mysterious) new guy across the hall, she can’t deny the pull between them. He is everything she should never want. Everyone warns her to stay away—even Owen himself—but the heart wants what the heart wants, even if it knows that it’s going to get hurt—even if it means throwing old promises to new flames…

Book Excerpt:

“What are you doing?” I asked under my breath.

“Watching you sleep.”

I giggled nervously. It was a strange feeling, knowing that he was staring at me. Before, I would’ve found this weird, maybe a little creepy, but right now I found it incredibly sexy. And utterly embarrassing.

“Did you know that you wrinkle your nose in your sleep?” Owen asked. “It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”

My face was on fire now. I groaned, tucking my head into his side. My body vibrated as he chuckled next to me. It was hands down, the sweetest thing I had ever heard. I draped my arm across his stomach and squeezed him.

“What time is it?”

“A little after two,” Owen answered.

I moved my head back and looked into his eyes. “Have you even slept yet?”

“Why sleep when I can spend that time staring at you,” he said softly. He pressed his lips against my eyebrow. “Have I told you how lucky I am?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Well, I am. I don’t know what I did to deserve you, Brennan Grace Daniels, but I will do anything to keep you here. Forever in my arms.”

I blushed, hoping he couldn’t see my rosy cheeks in the dark. “I’d like that.”

“Yeah?” he responded. “Me too.”

My Book Review:

This One's For You is a poignant new adult romance that follows Brennan Daniels' journey of coming to terms with the death of her best friend, learning to open her heart, and the acceptance to move forward with her life.

Author Brandy Jellum weaves a beautifully written tale that will tug at the heartstrings and stir the soul. After losing her best friend Reagan in a tragic accident during senior year in high school and needing a fresh start, Brennan leaves her hometown for an out-of-state college. She is keeping the promise that she made to Reagan: no boys, no dating, no falling in love while in college ... that is until she meets Owen Scott, who lives across the hall. There is definite chemistry and sparks fly between Brennan and Owen, but both have personal issues that keep getting in the way. Can Reagan let down the wall around her heart, can Owen let go of his playboy ways, can they both let go of their painful pasts and secrets, open up their hearts, and let love in the door?

This One's For You has a wonderful mixture of emotions and romance that easily draws the reader into Brennan and Owen's story. You can't help but follow their emotional journey as college life and the promise of a budding romance offers a new start for them if they allow it. There is enough angst, drama, tension, and sweet romance that will keep the reader engaged and turning the pages.

This One's For You is a touching story about learning to cope with loss and painful pasts, letting go, opening oneself to new found love, and moving forward in life.


Contest Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Virtual Book Tour

Tour Schedule:

October 27 – Lozza’s Book Corner – Excerpt
October 27 – Change the Word – Interview 
October 28 – A Southern Girls Bookshelf – Excerpt
October 29 – Living Life With Joy – Q&A & Excerpt
October 29 – Ai Love Books – Review & Excerpt 
October 30 – I Love My Authors – Excerpt 
November 2 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review 
November 3 – CDyess Writes – Excerpt 
November 4 – The World As I See It – Review & Excerpt
November 4 – Chick Lit Goddess – Excerpt 
November 5 – A British Bookworm – Excerpt
November 6 – Authors and Readers Book Corner – Excerpt
November 12 - Book Groupies - Novel Spotlight
November 13 – Two Children and a Migraine – Review & Excerpt
November 13 – Granny Loves To Read – Review & Excerpt
November 13 - Sweet N Sassy Bookaholics - Novel Spotlight
November 16 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review, Q&A & Excerpt
November 16 – Kelly’s Nerdy Obsession – Review & Excerpt

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