S2 E13 – Bren McClain – The Conroy Connection & Lessons in Failed Novels

Bren McClain

“Fear is the major cargo that American writers must stow away when the writing life calls them into carefully chosen ranks.” – Pat Conroy

S2 E13 – Bren McClain – Bren McClain is fearless in her writing life and in this season finale episode the acclaimed author of One Good Mama Bone provides the perfect coda to our conversation in episode 11 –

Bren’s writing journey was not always an easy one and she poignantly shares the struggles and lessons learned on her way to publication. Bren considers herself a 27 year overnight success. She is honest about the realities of the ever-changing publishing landscape while offering encouragement for every writer.

Bren McClain personifies grit and grace. In this episode Bren talks with Lynda about the importance of never giving up. NEVER. She has coached and championed fellow writers on her own way to publication and those best-selling authors are now her biggest evangelists. She stood in long lines to get a copy of Pat Conroy’s latest novel signed by the prince of tides and took the risk of telling him that she, too, was writing a novel.

It changed everything. Conroy held the key that unlocked her success. The publication of One Good Mama Bone changed her life. She calls it ‘the work of her heart.’ The story found the author and a magical alchemy took place. Now the French are embracing her story. They thought it was a tour de force and the French edition was released in October 2019 by Éditions Le Nouveau Pont.

Bren also talks about her respect for and connection with Pat Conroy. Her essay – A Circle Lit in Holy Light – pays tribute to Pat in the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Bren never disappoints. Her novel explores the strengths and limitations of parental love and the healing power of the human-animal bond. It’s a story that has resonated with readers. The advice she shares in this episode will resonate with writers as well.

Vive la difference!

Buy One Good Mama Bone Buy Mama Red

U.S. cover | French cover


Episode Takeaways

Creative Alchemy – It is not so much what happens to us that actually makes a difference, it is rather what we do with what happens to us that determines where we will end up and how we will be transformed.

Never give up – Keep trying and pushing and struggling, even if you write a failed novel or a rotten page. Keep writing. Envision your success. Believe in yourself. Put yourself in front of the right people. Hang out with other writers and go for your dream.

Look to the horizon – See that little dot? No, not that one—the one that’s even farther out. You can barely see it. Now don’t stop until you reach it. Take out your machete and hack a new path through the jungle, even if there is an old path just a few feet away.

Failure is important – If you don’t fail, you’re not trying hard enough or dreaming big enough. Failure is where the important lessons are. Heart is more important than skill. Failed novels mean you have a chance to reset and start again.


Last Sip

I’ve got some breaking news! This is my last podcast episode for a while. I am taking a hiatus to finish a couple of books I’ve been working on and that have been simmering on the back burner far too long.

This has been a labor of love, a magic carpet ride with memorable guests who brought salient advice, wisdom and humor to each episode. Each of my amazing guests taught me new and different ways of thinking about my own writing and about LIFE as a writer.

This isn’t the end but rather a ‘stay tuned.’ Because this I know for sure – an end is just a beginning in disguise.

Thanks you to all of the super star authors and publishing pros who sat down with me to share their stories over the last 2 seasons. Until we meet here again, keep writing & thank you for listening.

Lynda Bouchard
Your Host, Lynda Bouchard

Buy One Good Mama Bone

Buy the French edition – Mama Red

Listen to Mama Red in French –

Bren’s tribute to Pat Conroy –

Discover more about Lynda & Booking Authors Ink –

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Literary Latte Podcast – Season 2, Episode 13

The podcast with a Southern accent on writing.
Hosted by Lynda Bouchard.
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