Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Brother's Keeper by Terry W. Burns - Review/Inteview

Brother's Keeper (Mysterious Ways Series #2) by Terry W. Burns
softcover, 2006, River Oak
ISBN 1589190351
278 pgs.

Brother’s Keeper is a humorously delightful story written from the hand of well-known western author and storyteller, Terry W. Burns.

From the first page Terry grabs our emotions as James Jackson faces the devastating loss of the family farm. With no way to provide for his aging mother, and his twin brother, Ross, long gone, James does the only thing a decent son can do. He heeds his ma’s request and they go looking for Ross with all of their earthly belongings strapped into a wagon.

And before they even leave the yard humor strikes in the form of Miss Mary Jane McMinn, Ross’s waiting sweetheart. Mary Jane is determined to go with them and the three Tennesseans start off on a wild and side-splitting ride. Rain storms, traveling preachers, and a clattering trail of mishaps left behind by innocent Mary Jane doesn’t deter them.

Ross is on his own adventure, trying to shake Texas Ranger Bulldog Shocum from his own trail of past misdeeds. And in this mixture is the soft reminder that God is in control.

The plot twists and turns as James and his companions follow Ross through the tune of blizzards, bank robbers, and mistaken identity. The ending is timed perfectly as Mary Jane realizes her heart, James realizes his dreams, and Ross realizes the price of love.

Very well done, Mr. Burns.

Paula: As a twin myself, I was pleasantly surprised at your accurate portrayal of twins in BROTHER'S KEEPER. Do you have twins in your family or was it soley the result of research?

Terry: No twins in the family, although had some identical twin girls that were good friends in high school. We never knew which of them we were with. They very often switched dates and changed things on us all the time. Beyond that it was research.

Paula: Are there more books coming in the MYSTERIOUS WAYS SERIES that your readers can look forward to seeing?

Terry: The third in the series, Shepherd's Son, is now out. Shepherd's Son came about when my daughter remarked about a talk she had just heard telling about how totally helpless sheep are and how depended they are on the shepherd, of courser relating that to us as sheep in the flock of the Great Shepherd. I took that one step forward to reflect on how sheep were looked upon back in the days of the cattle barons. Gave each aspect of the story a whole new twist.

Paula: You have several novels in print right now. Which was the hardest for you to write and why?

Terry: Mysterious Ways - the challenge in that book was to make Amos as much of a rogue and a scoundrel as possible without crossing over the line to where people would no longer care whether he had a chance at redemption or not. He had to be a real rascal, but a likeable rascal. People tell me I got it done, I hope so.

Paula: You present several programs for writers in the Texas area. Can you tell me a little about what a typical program looks like?

Terry: I range much further than just Texas, I've done them over in the Ozarks, up in Kansas, have one scheduled in Colorado and have a couple scheduled over in Oklahoma in addition to those I have done around the state. I offer several "programs" that are listed in the program page, but in reality I have a stock of "program modules" and I use them to work the crowd and tailor the presentation to the questions and the interest of the participants. As such, no two programs are ever alike even to someone who may have sat in the same topic with me before.

Paula: What advice would you give to aspiring authors that you've learned from study or from personal experience that has helped you most?

Terry: Never give up. Publishing is like assembling a puzzle. Even if we have a good product, have researched the agents or editors well and only submit to those we're sure are a potential for us, there are still maybe a hundred pieces that have to be in place for it to happen. They can have just done one like what we're proposing, we can be too early, too late, any number of things that aren't in place to make it happen. At any given time the odds are against the conditions being just right, and it takes perseverance to stay after it and find that spot that the pieces are all in place. Too may people take the process personally and give up before they get it done.

Paula: What did you have for breakfast this morning?

Terry: Eggs benedict at Ihop.

Paula: You've recently begun blogging. How has this helped you as a writer?

Terry: I use it as a warmup to help me make the shift from the logical left brain that we spend most of our day in over to the creative right brain where we do our writing from. I also find it helps generate traffic to the website.

Paula: Your website mentions that you've joined forces with Hartline Literary Agency. What made you decide to make that move?

Terry: I've sold a lot of my work myself and helped a number of my friends publish. In addition, for over 25 years in chamber of commerce work I put people who had things to sell together with those who were looking to buy, making deals. This seemed a natural extension of both processes. From a faith standpoint it will allow me to help other writers, particularly Christian writers to get their words out where they'll do some good.

Paula: Can you tell us about your current projects?

Terry: I just finished writing a mystery. I thought it was a cozy, but I've got a couple of people reading it to see how I should classify it. On the agent front I've already gone through a stack of queries, invited a dozen proposals from them and have contracted with one writing team so far. Just starting to get cranked up on that front.

Paula: Tell us something about yourself that most people would be surprised to know.

Terry: Most people don't know that I am actually very shy. I learned some time ago how to create a "public personna" and hide behind it in order to do the things I've needed to do in order to do chamber of commerce work and now to do the public functions required to be a writer or agent. I use this in my presentations, and because so many writers are by nature shy people it goes over very well.

Thanks Terry!

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