Rosa No-Name: Meet Author Roger Bruner

Posted by on Dec 1, 2017 | 3 comments

Rosa No-Name: Meet Author Roger Bruner

Rosa No-Name. Not often does a book come along that is far removed from your personal experience seems so familiar. Living in the Southwest, illegal immigrants and drug smuggling are almost daily occurrences. Rosa tugged at my heart in a powerful way. I couldn’t put it down even though the truths it explores aren’t pretty. Rosa herself, is a beautiful character, and her poignant story will tug at your heartstrings. Your blog comment enters you to win a Kindle copy. Signing in on the Rafflecopter increases your chances!

 

 

Fabulous Fridays

Rosa No-Name by Roger Bruner

Welcome back, Roger! Please tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

Although I have written a variety of things over the years—songs, musical dramas, poetry, dramatic monologues, short stories, plays—it wasn’t until I was downsized from the place I’d expected to retire from and ended up with a part-time job at Target that I had the time and the idea for my first novel. Not until I started attending writing conferences and reading writing books by the dozen did I realize what a mistake that first self-published novel was. I don’t even admit to being its author now.

My writing started improving as I kept turning out one manuscript after another, but it wasn’t until a publisher friend got an agent for me that my career slowly took off. Barbour Publishing released the first two books in the Altered Hearts series—Found in Translation and Lost in Dreams—before deciding to discontinue their tentative Young Adult line.

Although publishing has been up-and-down since then, I’ve continued writing and currently have six published books and eight manuscripts. I’m hoping my current small publisher—Winged Publications not only re-released the first two Altered Hearts books, but also published the final two in the series—will be interested in at least three of the manuscripts that truly deserve to be described as “quirky love stories.”

Let me mention here that, although Rosa No-Name is a stand-alone and not an official part of the Altered Hearts series, it’s actually the prequel to the series.

What is one thing you recommend to writers who are starting out and wondering if they should try to connect with readers beyond “Here’s my book, buy it, and review?”

I can’t imagine a writer not wanting to connect with his or her readers. (I refuse to say “their”!) I consider my books to be my unique ministry—better writers and better books exist in the world, but none are exactly like mine—and nothing pleases me more than feedback that’s more personal than a review.

Please share a little bit about your previous books and what inspires you to write.

My books fall into two general categories—Young Adult/Coming of Age and Contemporary fiction that will probably be of the most interest to women. I’ve been commended numerous times for the way I capture a woman’s point-of-view. I’d like to think that’s because I’ve always paid close attention to the women in my life.

I’m a little jealous of the authors who have more story ideas than they have time for. I generally have to pray for the right story idea, and sometimes God answers in such a general way that I have to pray daily about what to write that day.

What inspired the story of Rosa No-Name?

Great question! Just as I wrote Lost in Dreams (now retitled A Season of Pebbles) because Found in Translation ended too soon, I knew that Lost in Dreams wouldn’t answer questions that Found in Translation hadn’t answered about Rosa, Anjelita, and village of Santa María. Interestingly, however, Rosa No-Name also serves as the prequel to the final Altered Hearts book, The Flowers of His Field.

Rosa No-Name meme

 

Rosa No-Name takes place in Mexico. How did you research the setting and background for the book?

You’re going to laugh at this one. I really admire authors who love to do research, but I’m not one of them. That’s why Found in Translation took place in a tiny, remote Mexican village that had just been all but destroyed by a tornado—Rosa’s village. That freed me to make up most of the setting without fear of contradiction.

What I did need to research—I depended on the Web, where a lot of information was available—was spina bifida, which plays a major role in one section of Rosa No-Name and is then referred to again from time to time.

Why did you choose the particular theme in Rosa No-Name? What were you trying to say to your readers?

Forgiveness is an important theme in all of my books…and especially in Rosa No-Name. I wanted to say to my readers that only with God’s help can true forgiveness take place. That’s why I can’t read that short final chapter of Rosa No-Name without weeping. (Please don’t skip to the end to look, though. It won’t mean nearly as much without reading the rest of the book first.)

What was the greatest problem/challenge you faced in writing Rosa No-Name?

Because I had written Rosa No-Name many years ago, editing and rewriting to meet my own improved standards was a challenge. And because this was going to be my first independently published novel since that first one I refuse to acknowledge now, I knew I had to use every bit of my limited available funds to have Ken Raney do the cover and a friend do at least some basic editing.

My wife solved that problem by asking our family to chip in and contribute money towards the cost of the cover as my Christmas present, and they were really generous. Ken received payment before I even knew about the gift.

Now that I think about it, I did have one other particular problem. I presented in English things that Rosa couldn’t have understood, and several potential endorsers objected to that. That’s a very big reason for my writing the Prologue—to inform my readers by way of a letter from Rosa to her daughter why I wrote the book that way. Nobody else has objected.

How did you weave a spiritual thread through Rosa No-Name?

I think the spiritual thread is one of the interesting characteristics of this book because the spiritual element is very strong throughout all of my other books. But it begins in Rosa No-Name with the quiet voice of the wind. And with a casual “Vaya con Diós” later on. And with Rosa’s frustrating search for God, during which she quit reading the Bible once she finally got one because she resented the way the Israelites kept disobeying and disappointing God. Not until closer to the end of the book, when Kim Hartlinger comes on the mission trip described from her point-of-view in Found in Translation, does Rosa’s need for salvation reach its climax.

Please share the opening passage from Rosa No-Name with us.

Prologue

My precious Anjelita,

I can’t believe you are eighteen now and attending an American college. How quickly the years have passed.

Although I clearly remember every detail of your birth, other facts about our life together would have been lost forever without the journal Dr. Morales urged me to begin keeping. You know too well that my journal was almost destroyed yet lovingly preserved at a price I will always consider far too costly.

How often I’ve wanted to answer your questions about my past and the way my history has affected yours, but the answers were too personal—too sensitive—to share when you were younger. I didn’t think you could handle the truth yet.

You’re a grown woman now, though. A very mature one. I believe you are ready to learn the truth.

I couldn’t tell you these things in person, though. Regardless of what you might think, I don’t consider myself as a very strong woman.

The solution came to me like an expensive, unexpected present. You have always loved to read. I would give you my history—our history—in writing.

Yes, I could have simply loaned you my journal, but it contains too many gaps. Every time I look through it, I remember details I failed to include. Important ones.

So I had Dr. Morales get in touch with Señor Roger Bruner for me. You remember Señor Roger, don’t you? He’s the older gentleman who wrote about Kim Hartlinger’s trip to Santa María in Found in Translation. If Nikki hadn’t translated it into Spanish, you and I might never have been able to read it. He made a few mistakes, though. Mistakes I would politely point out when we went through my journal together.

If he agreed to help me, that is.

Thank goodness he was delighted at the idea of using my journal as the basis—the skeleton, he called it—of a new book. He would add to it the things Nikki and I remembered, including corrections to his earlier mistakes. Nikki would be especially helpful in recalling things she had said to me in English before learning to speak Spanish. And things I couldn’t have seen.

He flew to San Diego and drove down to Santa María. The roads are much better now. After many hugs, he and Nikki and I sat down together to begin. She had already translated my journal into English for Señor Roger, and he recorded our numerous conversations to keep from forgetting anything. Especially the verbal additions Nikki and I made as we went along.

Although he calls this book a novel, one that is “character-driven,” he says it’s actually a memoir because it’s the completely factual story about my growing-up years from age sixteen to twenty-eight. That’s why he wrote it in my adult voice, using the language skills I have acquired over the years.

More important than any of that, however, Rosa No-Name will tell you everything you want to know about our family.

As you can see, Señor Roger published this book in English. (How strange not to be able to read my own words.) You speak and understand that strange language so well now, however, you won’t have a problem reading it.

I wanted you to have this, the very first copy. I pray that it will not only answer your questions but perhaps entertain you as well.

Vaya con Diós, my dearest daughter.

Your eternally loving mother,

Rosa

Chapter 1

“Where are you, Rosa No-Name?” a man’s voice called from a distance. “Are you hiding from me?”

Although the voice sounded real, I thought I might be dreaming. None of the villagers would have asked questions like those; none of them would have wanted to find me. On my bare knees at the edge of the river, I ignored both questions and questioner and continued to scrub the only two pieces of outer clothing I owned on the worn-smooth rock.

“Baby,” I said aloud, addressing my words to the giant bulge in my belly, “quit kicking and getting in my way or I’ll be too exhausted to deliver you.” I laughed. “And you will be too tired to come out.”

Footsteps on the hard pathway made me draw my blanket around me and turn halfway to look.

“There you are,” he said.

Oh, it’s you. I’d hoped you were my imagination. Not a living nightmare.

Tomás stood looking down at me. Although the late afternoon sun at his back kept me from distinguishing the details of his face, I could hear him clearly. He gasped as if he might be trying to catch his breath, his voice so husky I wondered whether he was ill.

At one time, I would have cared.

When I twisted to face him more completely, gravity rolled me into a sitting position and the baby protested with such a hard thump I thought she might kick a hole in my stomach and come crawling out. Could that be why the village women cried out in such pain at childbirth?

Although I had never expected to confront Tomás again, his interruption gave me an excuse to set my laundry aside and rest my arms, back, and shoulders momentarily. When I relaxed, so did my baby.

“You have found me,” I said, trying to swallow my sarcasm like a bite of bitter fruit. “You have found us. Your unborn child and me.”

He glanced at my belly. Under the worn blanket I’d wrapped up in so I could wash my skirt and blouse, my middle resembled one of the wild gourds that proliferated in this west Mexican wilderness.

Eight months ago, my stomach had been as flat as the terrain of my tiny village, Santa María de los Campos. I had trusted Tomás then. I thought I loved him.

“You don’t look like a proud papa-to-be.”

He grunted as if answering would be too painful. “Rosa, we should marry.”

Simple words. Words I’d once longed to hear. But…no longer.

“We need to marry,” he said as if I hadn’t heard him the first time. Although his voice sounded raspier than it had a moment earlier, I couldn’t miss his emphasis on the word need.

I no longer tried to keep the sarcasm out of my voice. “Not ‘I love you, Rosa, and I’m proud to be the father of your child?’”

“Not that,” he said, gazing past me at the river we had once frolicked in as if we’d been two small children. After several moments of silence, he looked at me again. “Can’t you see what they’ve done to me?”

I closed my eyes. I didn’t want to look. I didn’t want to care.

“They beat me up just for getting you pregnant.”

Just? You hope to win my sympathy that way?

“They’ve ordered me to take you to my home in San Diego and marry you.”

I turned my head the other direction to keep him from seeing me twist my face into a scowl.

The villagers of Santa María weren’t any more concerned about me now than they’d ever been. They wanted me out of their sight because they couldn’t—they wouldn’t—accept an unwed mother. Especially a sixteen-year-old orphan who wouldn’t be pregnant now if one of her past “keepers”—the numerous guardians who’d shuffled her back and forth from shack to shack since infancy—had bothered to teach her even the basics about intimacy between men and women and to reveal its dangers.

No, Tomás. If the village men beat you up, they didn’t do it for me. They were warning you never to touch one of their daughters.

“They?” I spat the word out as I looked towards him again. Shading my eyes with one hand, I looked at the expensive clothes he’d been wearing that morning upon his arrival. But they didn’t look so fine now. They were filthy. Shredded. Blood-stained.

“The Council of Elders, of course.” He might as well have said, “Why did you bother asking?” His voice had grown even coarser—and more urgent. More desperate. “The villagers will stone me if you don’t leave Santa María with me. Today.”

I had never thought anything could terrify Tomás. I was wrong.

“They won’t let me come back here unless I bring proof of our marriage. They’re guarding my van so I can’t run off without taking you. They know I can’t make it back to civilization without my van.”

I stared at him. My stomach jolted and reeled at the still-fresh signs of his beating. He looked thirty years older than me, not just ten.

Bruises, caked blood, and swelling formed a mask that hid the most handsome face I had ever seen. A bumpy, low-lying purple mountain had replaced his once-perfect nose, and a cut over his right eye continued to ooze blood. His short ponytail had come undone, and the hairs stuck to his head—stringy, matted, knotted. Someone had pulled—perhaps yanked—several strands of hair out, leaving him with several patchy places.

When I shuddered unintentionally, he probably thought I pitied him.

But I didn’t. He deserved all of this and more.

What had become of the Tomás del Mundo I used to love, the man whose muscles were as powerful as his air of superiority and self-assurance? Could a man be so strong and yet so weak at the same time?

I couldn’t laugh at his downfall, though. He had brought it upon himself, but my naiveté had played a part.

“You must come with me now,” he said. His voice was weaker, his words harder to understand. Had someone jabbed his voice box with a tightened fist? The very thought of that made me feel woozy.

Although we had been talking just a moment or two, his face had grown so much puffier during that time that his eyes now looked more pig-like than human.

“If you’re willing to.” When I didn’t respond, he said, “Please.” I still didn’t say anything. “I will treat you well. You and the baby. I promise.”

The only thing Tomás had promised me before now was a new water jug. I hadn’t received it yet. But he hadn’t said when I would get it, so I couldn’t accuse him of lying just because I hadn’t gotten it yet.

And during our three jubilant days together, Tomás had convinced me he loved me, though he never actually said so.

Yes, Tomás had implied many things that later proved false. I had learned how sly he was. None of the villagers trusted him. But no one had warned me not to.

Despite his record of deceit, something deep inside me whispered, “Heed him now. However twisted his sense of right and wrong is, he may prove to be enough of a man to keep his promise.”

No matter how I doubted that, though, what choice did I have other than to go to San Diego with a man I detested?

I had to get away from the villagers—they loathed me and I loathed them back. If I remained in Santa María I would have no means of support for myself and my baby. And even though I could have endured a lifetime of ridicule and rejection, I didn’t want my baby to suffer the same way I had.

Tomás, the villagers know you are too greedy to resist their demands. Without their produce to provide your easy income, you might have to do manual labor—and work as hard as they do just to survive.

They wouldn’t kill him, though. They needed him to carry their special produce to San Diego to exchange for food, clothing, and day-to-day necessities—just as the men in his family had done for generations.

The very existence of Santa María depended on Tomás. He and the villagers needed each other. Didn’t he realize that?

When I began laughing at his gullibility, his face contorted in pain and bewilderment.

The village elders hadn’t bothered to share their plans with me; they took my cooperation for granted. I resented that. So I would not give them my decision one moment sooner than I had to.

“I will answer you tomorrow, Tomás.”

With strength I could ill afford to waste, I rolled back onto my knees, pulled the blanket tighter, and resumed rubbing my wet skirt against the rock. My baby protested painfully.

“I’ll be dead before tomorrow.” Tomás had almost whimpered.

I looked at him again. Although the sun was warm and the air still, he had begun to shiver. As if winter had just set in and caught him unprepared.

I shivered, too, but for a different reason. No matter how I tried to deny it, our lives were inseparable.

“I will ask them not to kill you until tomorrow.”

Book Blurb:

A despised, illiterate, pregnant teen leaves her small Mexican village at sixteen and returns four years later a mature, literate woman who’s survived multiple misfortunes. Even if she forgives the villagers for rejecting and mistreating her years earlier, can she help them find a way to survive what threatens their very existence?

Roger BrunerAbout the author:

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 at the weekly nursing home ministry. Roger also enjoys reading, web design, mission trips, photography, and spending time with his wonderful wife, Kathleen. Roger has six published and eight unpublished novels.  He’s also published two small books of shorter writings, Yesterday’s Blossoms and More of Yesterday’s Blossoms. Learn more about Roger and his writings and sign up to receive his quarterly newsletter at RogerBruner.com.

Connect with Roger:

Website: www.RogerBruner.com

Blogs: www.OnAgingGracelessly.com

And www.AsIComeSinging.wordpress.com

Amazon Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/j3s34s8

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Roger-Bruner-author-251304258214743

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RogerBruner @RogerBruner

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rogerbruner/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/101208883289803245154

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rogerbruner/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rogerebruner/

Book Links:

Amazon:

Rosa No-Name: https://www.amazon.com/Rosa-No-Name-Roger-Bruner-ebook/dp/B06Y4PM7JF/

The Devil & Pastor Gus: https://www.amazon.com/Devil-Pastor-Gus-Roger-Bruner-ebook/dp/B00Q3B5L5O/

Yesterday’s Blossoms: https://www.amazon.com/Yesterdays-Blossoms-collection-previous-writings-ebook/dp/B00KOT3P2M/

Found in Translation: https://www.amazon.com/Found-Translation-Altered-Hearts-Book-ebook/dp/B072HQZWRM/

Lost in Dreams: https://www.amazon.com/Dreams-Altered-Hearts-Roger-Bruner/dp/1602609624/

Do I Ever!: https://www.amazon.com/Do-Ever-Roger-E-Bruner/dp/1946939242/

Impractically Yours: https://www.amazon.com/Impractically-Yours-quirky-romantic-novel-ebook/dp/B077QPLB7R/

Rosa No-Name

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. Roger is a new author to me, and I would love to win a copy of his book. It sounds very intriguing! 😍

  2. Sounds fascinating! I think I would enjoy it.

  3. Ladies, I’d be crazy not to wish that both of you could win a copy. *big smile* Not promising anything, but thinking… *G*

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