Local author’s debut novel a hit thanks to writers’ workshop
Chantelle Brangman’s novel, Sour Grapes, has earned a cult following since it was published in December.
All 132 copies of the book have sold out. Ms Brangman is now working on a sequel that she expects to get in the hands of her readers early next month.
Kept busy as an educator and with a family of her own, she had to carve out the time to do it. Ms Brangman, who penned Sour Grapes under the name Storm Leigh, said the help she got from 16 Weeks to Published: The Ultimate Writers' Workshop was invaluable.
Led by Letitia Washington, “an Amazon bestselling romance author” whose pen name is Brooklyn Knight, the online course teaches people “how to write well and publish books”.
It has so far launched the writing careers of five local authors. Three people from Ms Washington’s most recent group are expected to release novels; Ms Brangman was the first.
“My niece Sloane Johnson introduced me to the course,” she said. “She did that because she knew that I always wanted to publish. So I took the course and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
As described in a blurb on the back cover, Sour Grapes tells the tale of Olivia and the men she gets involved with: Do you remember going to the grocery store and finding yourself in the fruit section? In your search for fresh fruits you saw a bunch of grapes. Quickly you looked around and secretly plucked a grape off the stem. Some tasted sweet, so you kept on sneaking them, but after a while you found one that was sour. That’s how the men in Olivia’s life turned out to be: a bunch of sour grapes.
Addiction and abuse. Men who were either sex, drunk or recovering addicts displayed abusive behaviours towards Olivia. One wonders why Olivia always chose the same type of men and if she herself was vicariously addicted to her choices.
“That’s basically the gist of the book,” said Ms Brangman, who described the tale as “realistic fiction”.
“I had never written a book before even though I always wanted to write. I actually started to write once before and the manuscript was destroyed by one of the people I was writing about. He didn’t appreciate me writing about him. But here it is, years later, that I decided that I needed to share Olivia’s story.”
She is pleased by the feedback she has received from readers since the book went on sale on December 10. Many have also posted flattering comments on Amazon.
“The response has been really great,” Ms Brangman said. “I sold out at Brown & Co and also the books that I had myself. They’re all sold out and Brown & Co has asked me for more copies. The reviews on Amazon are really positive. Many people are asking for the sequel which I’m planning to publish by February 10 – which is my birthday.”
She has already given a hint of what readers might expect from her next book, Forbidden Fruit. She ran the first chapter at the end of Sour Grapes.
“I started on it right away,” she said. “I’m almost to the end and I’m planning on having the manuscript finished [today]. So that should be out in the next couple of weeks.”
An added bonus is the way the book has inspired her students. Her class of eight and nine year olds followed her every step as she worked to complete the novel.
The teacher signed up for Ms Washington’s course last autumn with a goal that she might also improve her students’ writing. She plans to produce a book of their stories for them to take home at the end of the school year.
“I told them I was writing a book, I told them the name, showed them the cover,” Ms Brangman said. “They wanted to read it and I told them they can’t – because, of course, it’s for adults. But the support I got [from the course] increased my skills. Some of the strategies that I’ve taken away from the writing course I have been able to implement them in my classroom, in my own writers’ workshop with my students.
“I was able to use the course as my growth plan in my writers’ workshop in my classroom. The teacher always has to model for the students the expectation and one of my expectations is that they are writing for a set time. So while my students were writing, I was writing. I would take maybe 15 minutes to write so they could see me writing and then I would go and check on them and then confer with them about their writing for the day.”
Sour Grapes is available through Amazon.com. Copies, $20, are expected to be in Brown & Co soon. Watch the trailer here: https://bit.ly/3ihy8Fm. For more on 16 Weeks to Published: The Ultimate Writers' Workshop visit www.brooklynknightenterprises.com/