To kick off my February series, Valentine’s Day Romance Reads, I have author Roger Bruner answering questions and giving us a sneak peek at his book, Impractically Yours.
Roger Bruner worked as a teacher, job counselor, and programmer analyst before retiring to pursue his dream of writing Christian fiction full-time. A guitarist and songwriter, he is active in his church choir, plays bass on the praise team, and plays guitar and sings at his church’s weekly nursing home ministry. He’s been on short-term mission trips to Australia, England, Wales, Romania, and Nicaragua. Roger also enjoys walking, reading, web design, photography, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen. He has nine published novels, two small collections of his shorter writings, and five completed novel manuscripts. Learn more about Roger and his writing and music at RogerBruner.com.
Why do you feel your book, Impractically Yours, will make a great Valentine’s Day read? I’ve written three romantic novels: Impractically Yours, Do I Ever, and Play the Right Game. Although all of them would make great Valentine’s Day reads, Impractically Yours comes the closest to being a genre romance.
Even though it’s quirky and quite humorous at times, it’s also very moving. No wonder Christy Award winner Ann Tatlock describes it as “Nicolas Sparks meets Erma Bombeck.” I just reread it a couple of days ago and I couldn’t keep from laughing and, yes, crying just as if I was reading it for the first time.
I think everyone—not just women—can relate to the difficulties trust problems can bring to a relationship, especially a friendship that might lead to romance.
Male authors tend to look at love and romance in a slightly different way than women authors—a way readers are apt to find refreshing. That’s one of the appeals of Impractically Yours.
Over the years, my best friends have usually been women, and my wife is the best friend I’ve ever had. All that to say I tend to listen carefully to women. And I’d like to believe I understand some things about women better than many men do, and I incorporate that understanding in my writing.
Impractically Yours is a special book for Valentine reading for another reason. Although it’s by no means totally autobiographical, it contains little bits and pieces about my wife and me. For example, I’m ten years older than Kathleen and I’m an amateur song writer, singer, and guitarist who does some home recording of his songs. Impractically Yours contains the lyrics of the only secular song I’ve ever written, a love song. I’m not a practical joker, though, but I am crazy about puns.
Do you celebrate Valentine’s Day? If so, how? I couldn’t imagine not celebrating Valentine’s Day. Although my wife and I don’t necessarily give each other presents, we do eat out at a better restaurant than the ones we usually eat at. We’ve learned the hard way, however, to do that before or after Valentine’s Day. When we’re hungry, we want to eat, not wait two hours for a table; not many places—if any—accept reservations for Valentine’s.
I’m not sure we’ve ever had an actual Valentine’s getaway, but we try to plan a long weekend somewhere every year. Since we’ve both been married before and are so happy with one another, we value our marriage more than I can say. This year we’ll celebrate our fifteenth anniversary, time that has passed all too quickly. We don’t take one another for granted. A day never passes that we don’t express our love and appreciation for one another.
What is the most romantic scene you’ve ever written? Can we have a short excerpt? Although what may be my most romantic scene occurs in Impractically Yours, what leads up to that scene is so important I can’t include it here for fear of sharing a spoiler.
Let me share a romantic scene from Play the Right Game instead.
First a little backstory. Carla and Thom are in love, but they’ve had numerous problems. Thom has had to leave town for an extended period of time when one of his problems turns out to be even more serious than Carla realized and she isn’t sure when or if he’ll return, much less whether their relationship can be mended. She hasn’t heard from him during the weeks he’s been gone, and trying not to lose hope has been hard.
Carla’s best friend, Annie, and Annie’s fiancé invite her to a basketball game she doesn’t really want to go to. It was at a similar game that she met Thom (Annie had thrown herself at Thom during that game) and she’s not sure she can deal with facing the memories. Her friends are insistent, however, and she goes…
At first I didn’t notice we were sitting exactly where we’d sat the night I met Thom. When I caught on, I looked across the gym and gazed longingly at the spot where he’d sat. The spot Annie went to all that trouble to reach, only to have him ignore her advances. And the spot that appeared lonesomely empty now.
I sighed. Had I unconsciously expected to see Thom sitting there? This wasn’t the Groundhog Day movie, though, and I was allowing a tad of nostalgic déjà vu to get me down a little more each time I thought about it.
I glanced casually at the door. Just in time to see a stranger walking in. He looked familiar and yet quite different. Like someone I’d once known well. Someone who used to have died-blond hair and a beard…
“Thom!” I shouted at the top of my lungs as he climbed to the place he’d sat at that other game. I must’ve yelled louder than I realized. He looked in my direction, smiled, and beckoned me to join him.
Annie hopped up and pulled me to a standing position. “Go, girl!”
I didn’t need any more encouragement than that. I scrambled down the bleachers so quickly I almost fell.
Seeing Thom so unexpectedly must’ve drained and evaporated every bit of sense I’d been born with. Unlike Annie, who’d hurried around the court [at the earlier game] to reach the other side, I charged straight through the middle of the game, bumping young players—referees, too—out of the way left and right.
Thom told me later that I tossed a ball that had bounced into my hands out of the way. And made a basket. I wasn’t aware of any of that.
By the time I scrambled off the other side of the court, hastened by the sound of multiple whistles being blown—presumably at me—Thom had come down to floor level, where he welcomed me in a humongous embrace. Despite the thousands of things I wanted to say and the millions of questions I wanted to ask, I couldn’t find the words to start. It didn’t matter. He sealed my wordless lips with the biggest, juiciest, most loving kiss I’d ever had.
Then he pulled me close again and whispered, “Shall we go somewhere to talk?”
Although I was still nearly wordless, I managed to say, “Gino’s?”
He kissed my cheek. “Only if you want to.”
Of course, there’s another romantic scene at the restaurant when Thom actually proposes, but Carla can’t say yes, no matter how badly she wants to, until she ascertains that one huge problem has been solved.
What’s next for you writing-wise? I must admit I get mildly jealous of writers who have dozens of story ideas floating around in their heads and are ready to start on the next novel as soon as they finish writing the current one.
I don’t have their advantage. Or their abundance of ideas.
I don’t mind admitting that I have to pray for an idea—the idea I believe God considers right. I only had the most general of ideas when I started writing several of my most recent books. I literally had to pray my way through them day by day. I’m pleased with what God had in mind, though. It was far better than anything I could’ve come up with on my own.
I’m currently struggling with a book idea that has the working title Fake News. It has nothing to do with President Trump or the media, however, and at this stage I’m not even sure I’m supposed to use the idea the title is referring to.
I wish I could give you a better answer about what I’ll be writing next, but I honestly don’t know. I’m thankful God does, even though He hasn’t revealed much of the story yet. I hope it’ll be another quirky romantic novel, however.
Anything else you’d like to add? Hmm. I could probably more easily write a book about other things I’d like to add than write the next book.
I love to write, and I do get a charge out of being published. But my main concern as an author is to both bless and entertain my readers, not to make money or become well known, neither of which has happened. I believe God has blessed me with some important spiritual truths and helped me express them in entertaining ways. Better for something my books have said to stick with or help a reader than for that person to remember my name.
At seventy-one, I seem to be in good health, even though it takes six or seven pills a day to keep me that way. Like you, like all of us, I’m not promised tomorrow. But I pray for God to keep using me to the very end.
Oh! How could I have forgotten! One other thing that’s special about Impractically Yours is the fact that it originally had a lengthy, pun-filled epilogue about the characters in the story getting together to write the book itself. My publisher was willing to publish the Kindle version of that just for fun. It’s called Impractically Yours: The Lost Chapter.
I love that idea of the lost chapter. And your book sounds fun and funny too. I hope readers will check it out. You can find the books by clicking on their titles above. I have really enjoyed this interview, Roger, and enjoyed getting to know you. I love the way, even in your writing to answer these questions, I can tell how much your wife and your marriage mean to you. That’s a beautiful thing! Thank you so much for being my guest today. I wish you well as you pray your way into your next writing project!
I’ll be back next week on Tuesday with another installment of A Love Affair with Words and on Thursday with an interview with author Donna Schlachter a.k.a. Leeann Betts.