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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Chat With My Friend, Susan Barnett Braun

It is my joy and privilege today to have a guest post by my friend and fellow author, Susan Barnett Braun.  Susan and I "met" awhile back through one of the social media networks, although I honestly don't remember which one.  Since then, we've followed each other's writing, exchanged reviews and stayed in touch via the multitudes of social media networks.  In fact, you can read my reviews of two of Susan's books right here on this blog:  Sophie, Pay Attention and A Dog Called Namaan.  Susan has a new book out, but I'll let her tell you a little more about that, as well as a little more about herself.  Take it away, Susan!

Hi, Dana! It’s a privilege to visit here with you and your readers today! We have several things in common: we’re both Christians, pianists, authors, teachers, and devoted pet owners.

After college, I taught elementary school for eight years. I totally loved teaching, but after having my own kids, I just didn’t feel right devoting most of my days to someone else’s children. So, I stayed home with my kids. For several years, taking care of them was a full-time proposition. But as the kids started school, I had more free time. I have always loved to write. After dinner each evening, I read an entry for that date from one of the many diaries I kept when I was younger. About a week ago, I read an entry for that same day in 1978. I’d written: “I wrote a few pages on my book. Being an author is hard work!”

So you can see that writing was natural for me to pursue. I had some devotionals published, as well as several tips and ideas in teaching magazines. On my blog, Girls in White Dresses, I began writing about a childhood memory each Friday. Eventually, I wanted to write up many of these in book form, and I did that with my first book, “I Love to Tell the Story.”

I attended a Christian writer’s conference and was excited to meet with agents and editors. But the real world set in as I was told there was not a sufficient audience for my memoir, since I wasn’t a celebrity. I brought a children’s chapter book along as well, and although an editor expressed interest, she failed to respond to my emails in subsequent months.

Based on those experiences, I would say that my biggest frustration with writing has been the obstacles agents and editors seem to put up to prevent authors from actually making it to press. But I feel extremely blessed to live in this era, when the advent of Amazon and e-readers have made it possible for more authors to be published, without spending their own money to do so.

My latest venture is called “Not So Happily Ever After: The Tale of King Ludwig II.” In high school German class, I was introduced to “Mad King Ludwig.” He’s one of those historical characters who is just too eccentric and bigger-than-life to be real – and yet he was. He designed what’s probably the world’s most famous castle, Neuschwanstein. Yet it was never finished and he was only able to spend about 170 days there. Government officials ragged him unmercifully about the money he spent on his castles, even though today they’re one of Germany’s biggest money-making attractions.

Ludwig wasn’t overtly Christian (to be fair, there weren’t many evangelicals in mid-1800s Bavaria), but his Catholic faith was important to him throughout his life. He planned a huge chapel inside the courtyard at Neuschwanstein, although it was never actually built (along with many other planned portions of the castle). On the day he died, Ludwig requested permission to attend mass, but his keepers denied him the freedom to do this. Disillusioned with life and with most of the people he encountered, Ludwig once said, "I must bear being laughed at, scorned, and slandered. I am called a fool. Will God call me a fool when I am summoned before him?"

I read many books about Ludwig, but they were all geared towards adults, and many were quite scholarly. I saw a need for a book that teens and tweens would enjoy. They would love his character, even if they didn’t want to read a 300-page book on him! That’s the niche this book fills.

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