Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Denny S. Bryce!

Today we’re excited to welcome 2018 Golden Heart finalist Denny S Bryce to the blog. One of the 2018 Persisters, Denny’s manuscript WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES, is nominated in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category.


WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES is a story of love, history, and the search for family and forgiveness, set in modern-day Chicago and in the city’s Black Belt in 1925. A coming of age story told in flashbacks, the novel focuses on an ambitious nineteen-year-old chorus girl and a grieving twenty-two-year-old film student.

Sawyer Langston Hayes, the film student, is given a “box of memories” by his grandmother who encourages him to visit a 110-year-old woman whose stories of the 1920s could help fix the gaps in his jazz-age thesis—and maybe fix his life. Meanwhile, in 1925, Honoree Dalcour, the chorus girl, is hired for her dream job, but when her childhood sweetheart returns after a three-year absence, her career, her life, and her heart are put in danger. Her choices have ramifications for Sawyer nearly a century later.

Author Bio:

A 2018 and 2016 RWA Golden Heart® finalist for WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES, and a 2014 Golden Heart® winner in Romantic Suspense for CHASING DAMN, Denny writes mainstream historical fiction, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. She is also a regular contributor to the Happy Ever After (USA Today) blog where she writes about fan fiction, author book boyfriends/book girlfriends, and recaps OUTLANDER on STARZ.

She is a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA), Historical Novel Society, Romance Writers of America (RWA), Washington Romance Writers (WRW-DC), Maryland Romance Writers (MRW), RWA Chapters Kiss of Death (KOD), and CIMRWA. She also is the 2018-19 PRO Advisor to the RWA Board of Directors.

She is represented by Nalini Akolekar at Spencerhill Associates.


Addison Fox:  Welcome, Denny! Tell us a bit about your Golden Heart book, WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES. Where did the idea come from and what did you enjoy about writing it?

Denny S. Bryce:  This story has had quite the journey. It began as a 20,000-word novella developed for a “call” from a digital publisher. The publisher requested a ‘revise and resubmit” with a “would love to see this as a full-length historical.”

I left the story alone for a while until my mother, who passed away last year, told me about how my grandparents met. My grandfather was a merchant seaman in 1920. His ship docked in Jamaica (Montego Bay), and he met a young girl on the beach. They fell in love, but he had to leave—the ship sailed, and he was on it.

In 1923, he sent my grandmother a ticket to join him in New York City. When she departed the ship, he wasn’t there. He’d sent someone else to meet her. This story inspired my interest in digging deep into 1920s history—and that’s where the history buff in me took over.

AF: That’s amazing!

Speaking of amazing…tell us all about your morning when you got “the call” from the RWA board?

DSB:  Well, this one was very different. As a member of the RWA national board, I received my call from the Board President, Dee Davis, the day before the calls were made to RITA and Golden Heart finalists. My biggest thrill this year was making calls to RITA and GH finalists. I was so nervous—I wanted to get it right and definitely enjoyed the enthusiasm when I reached a finalist.

AF: You’re nominated in the Mainstream Fiction with a Central Romance category of the Golden Heart. What draws you to this type of fiction and what have you most enjoyed about writing WILD WOMEN AND THE BLUES? 

DSB: What have I enjoyed most about this novel – finishing it! (lol). Seriously, once I decided to dig into the story and include a dual storyline—it’s been a journey, getting it done.

AF:  What’s your writing life been like since the call? What are you working on now?

DSB:  I have two more historical fiction novels in the cue. One is set in 1928 Los Angeles at the Hotel Somerville, which I like to call Downton Abbey meets A Star is Born. The second is set in 1935 Harlem and Haiti and is inspired by the life and adventures of Zora Neal Hurston, author of “Their Eyes Were Watching God.” I also have a paranormal romance/urban fantasy series I’m I’d love to finish. So yeah, I have a few things I could be working on!

I love stories grandparents and parents share about how they met. If you’d like, please mention something from your family’s past that is heartwarming, unbelievable, or romantic!



Connect with Denny on social media:

Twitter: @dennysbryce

57 responses to “Meet 2018 Golden Heart Finalist Denny S. Bryce!”

  1. Elizabeth Langston says:

    Hi Denny and welcome to the blog today! I love dual timeline books and this one sounds amazing.

    My parents met in the 1950s in England. Dad was an Air Force officer on a Royal Air Base. My mother had just flown in from the States to be a schoolteacher for American kids on base. The teacher who greeted my mom at the airport stopped by a friend’s birthday party on the way to their quarters. The room held one man (my father who was the official teacher liaison) and 20 women (all teachers). My mother was unimpressed. She changed her mind though, because 4 months later, they married.

  2. sarah andre says:

    Hi Denny-
    Thrilled to see you here, and wish you luck next month! If there’s a livestream I’ll be watching and cheering for you!

    • Hey Sarah, thank you as always for your support! And for spreading the news about this post! I am sitting in traffic on the Pennsylvania turnpike…haven’t moved in an hour! Le sigh.

      • Addison Fox says:

        Denny – that’s crazy – I hope the traffic has let up a bit! Hang in there – gotta love summer Fridays!! 🙂

  3. McCall Hoyle says:

    Love learning more about your historicals, Denny! And can’t wait to see you.


    • Addison Fox says:

      McCall – so glad you joined us today. The moment I read Denny’s blurb I was hooked. I love dual timeline stories and this one sounds amazing!!

  4. Pintip says:

    Love this interview!!!! Denny, your historicals are fabulous (as are your other stories), and I absolutely can’t wait for the rest of the world to enjoy them!!!

  5. Sarah R Hall says:

    Can’t wait to read it!

  6. Oh, Denny, I want to ply you with drinks and hear more about your grandparents!

    My favorite family story is that my parents met when their two high schools merged. My mother thought my father was “fast” (because he drove a snazzy car and won Best Dressed, thanks to a leopard print vest and satin-striped pants.) After not making any headway after several weeks of wooing her, my dad hopped off the school bus after a football game and got down on one knee, waiting until she stepped off the bus. “I’m begging, here. Please go out with me,” he implored. My mom, not one for public scenes, said yes just to get him to stand up again and let other people off the bus.

    They made it through high school, college, medical school for him and a doctorate for her, wrote textbooks that still carry their names, raised three kids, and were in love until the day my mom died.

    Sometimes, a little public groveling works.

  7. Wow! I LOVE the premise, and the personal history that goes along with it.

    Good luck in the GH!!!!

  8. Barbra Campbell says:

    Your story sounds deep and intense. Hope you can get it published and add that to your impressive list of credentials.

    My personal story…After a night of inadvertently helping a drug dealer (who was obsessed with me) make a sale, my friends helped me ditch him and we decided to get some midnight fast food, but had to get gas first. While waiting for the car to fill, I noticed the guy in the car next to us was really cute and got him and his friends to meet us at the restaurant.
    The night progressed, we finally parted ways, and the next day one of the other guys called me. My friends and I agreed to swap guys and I started dating my future husband.

  9. Shelly Chalmers says:

    Love the story of your grandparents and your inspiration. And will be cheering for you in Denver!

    My grandparents met at a party at my great-grandmothers house. My grandpa had met a friend whose girlfriend had plenty of sisters. He first was set up with grandma’s sister (who said he was too short…before marrying someone shorter.) And while grandma would argue she didn’t know what she saw in him, they loved fishing and outdoor activities, and look very in love in photos. 67 year’s Together. 🙂

  10. suzanne says:

    I actually got teary reading your book blurb. What an amazing story!

    My favorite story from my grandmother is when she asked me if i knew what true love was? I shook my head and she sipped her gin and tonic and said, “i like to smoke and read a book in bed. your grandfather never stopped me. instead, he always placed a bucket of water right where he knew my arm would eventually lay when I fell asleep, and the cigarette would fall in the bucket.”

    I was six at the time. I get it now.

  11. Hi Denny,
    Your book sounds fascinating. I’ll be watching for it! Congratulations on your final.

    I was one of the lucky finalists who received my call from you. It was so much fun, having you as excited as I was. I can’t wait to meet you in person.

    • Addison Fox says:

      Leslie – I love when a call story comes full circle. I was so excited to hear Denny’s story – and it’s so neat to know she called you! Best wishes for Denver!

    • Yes! You were my third call. I was SO nervous. Still. But congrats again!!!!!

  12. Hi, Denny and fellow 2016 Mermaid sister!! Your story sounds fabulous. Looking forward to touching base again in Denver and cheering you on at the ceremony.

  13. Jennifer Bray-Weber says:

    It is so wonderful to see you back here, Denny. What a FASCINATING story about your grandparents. I want to know more!!!!!
    Good luck on bringing home another Golden Heart win! Wild Women and the Blues sounds amazing!

  14. Carrie Padgett says:

    Congratulations, Denny! WW&tB sounds wonderful and I can’t wait to read it! My uncle was a merchant seaman in the 1930s-early ’70s. I recently inherited a bunch of papers and pictures of his. I sent some of the documents and pics to their museum in NY state. The curator there was very grateful. I had pictures of the steam room, which he said was very rare. I was just glad they found a home. It seemed a shame to throw them away. There were lots of pictures of their ports in SA and Africa. Beaches, palm trees, donkeys, the whole bit. I still have a few pictures. I think some were of Jamaica too … Anyway, great post and congratulations!!!!!

    • Thank you so much, Carrie. I love old photos. I’ve been to museums and visited archives everywhere, and they are so useful when writing early 20th century history. The details in the background give so much texture and information. See you soon!

  15. C.R. Grissom says:


    Your books sound amazing and I can’t wait to read them. Congrats on your final, I look forward to meeting you in Denver.

    My great-grandparents were a rare breed. They were a love match in a time where love wasn’t necessary to marriage. He left behind his wife in Madeira, Portugal to seek a better future for his wife and young daughter by traveling to the U.S. to work in the ports of Oakland, Ca. He was said to be a giant of a man. Strong and filled with love for his wife. When the Influenza epidemic of 1918 hit San Francisco and then Oakland, he died within ten days of becoming ill. His wife, upon hearing the news of her beloved’s death—died of what people say was a broken heart within four months. She simply lost the will to live.

    I know this isn’t a HEA, but it struck me that my great-grandparents loved each other so much. And against all odds found and nurtured that love. While it ended in tragedy, they experienced the greatest love has to offer even for a short time.

  16. Elizabeth King says:

    Hi Denny. Congrats again. Looking forward to catching up and cheering for a fellow GH Mermaid in Denver.

  17. Oh, my! I am finally home. Thanks for stopping by! Can’t wait to see you in Denver!

  18. Melonie says:

    Congrats again, Denny! Looking forward to seeing you in Denver 🙂
    I love dual timeline stories, and the fact this one is set in Chicago makes it even more enticing to me. I also think it’s so cool that you were inspired by your parents’ story (and what a story!)

    Speaking of stories, my daughter is reading Their Eyes Were Watching God right now for her summer reading assignment. I was chatting about the book with some writer friends during a wine and paint night a few days ago, and a lady at another table overheard us and chimed in to say how much she adores that book.

    I have always wanted to write a story about my grandparents – and even did a bunch of recorded interviews with my grandmother before she died. One day I hope to spend the time on that story it deserved. They were childhood sweethearts – met growing up in Chicago in the Maxwell Street area, where immigrant neighborhoods all rubbed shoulders. My grandfather was from Ireland and my grandma was a Jew from Lithuania. When her family found out she was seeing an Irishman, her brothers beat the tar out of my grandfather and her father forbid her to see him again. She eventually married a Jewish man and they had 2 children together, but he died in his sleep 10 years into the marriage – when my grandfather heard my grandma was a young widow he started coming around to help her out… and well – not sure how well the dates line up, but they married and my mom was born some time after. They had a very happy loving marriage, my grandfather did everything necessary to be accepted by her family, converted to Judaism and – this may be TMI – but he even had a bris as an adult. How’s that for true love 😉

    • Whoa! I’d say that’s true love and then some! I consider these stories treasures, and sometimes we forget to talk to the elder members of the family to learn about them before they were ‘our grandparents’ – write that story. It sounds amazing. Can’t wait to see you in Denver!

  19. Alexia says:

    What an awesome love story your grandparents have! My parents were high school sweethearts and are still a great example of love for me and my siblings. Congrats on another GH final, Denny!!

  20. Tracy Brody says:

    Congrats on another GH final, Denny! Wish I knew how my grandparents met. I have a great picture of my grandmother on my grandfather’s shoulders that I always wished I knew the story behind. Maybe I’ll make one up about it. 😉

  21. Hey McCall, thank you for stopping by. I had a long trip and this was the first time I could drop by since early this morning. Can’t wait to see you in Denver.

  22. Nadine says:

    I have the very good fortune to be beta reading Wild Women. I don’t have all the chapters yet and I’m chomping at the bit to get them. This is a wonderful book!

    Interesting romantic family history: My father’s parents (Jews who came to the US around 1913 or 14 from what is now Belarus) got engaged on Jones Beach (NYC). Flash forward four decades and my father proposed to my mother on the beach at Coney Island. I did tell my husband before we were engaged about this tradition but he proposed in my college dorm room…perfectly romantic but not following with the family tradition of NYC beach proposals.

    • Hey Lady:)…yes, I will send you pages this weekend. I’ve been working for my client for the past two weeks, and as hard as I tried to fit in time to get stuff done, well, I just couldn’t! But now, I am anxious to get this to you. Thank you so much for commenting! Who knows. Maybe we can go to Wegman’s this week:)…

  23. Janet Raye Stevens says:

    Hi Denny! Your book sounds amazing, and one I hope to get the chance to read someday. Not a lot of romantic stories in my family, I’m afraid, but one of my good college friends (a great guy and *very* handsome) donated a kidney to his brother and fell in love with the surgical anesthesiologist. She really knocked him out, apparently, LOL! Hope to get the chance to meet you in Denver!

  24. Hi Denny! I’m late to the party, but I *love* the sound of your book. The dual storylines both sound fascinating! Congratulations on your final – again, right? Your name sounds familiar and I think we’ve seen you as a finalist before, no? – though maybe I’m remembering you from the board. How cool to have both the excitement of getting a call and being able to make them too!! Wishing you all the best with this new book and that it gets snapped up soon so I can read it! Good luck in Denver! I’ll be cheering for you!

  25. Hi Denny! I’ve never heard that story about your grandparents! Very cool. My mom’s parents met in a small town in Mississippi when my grandfather, who’d recently immigrated from Germany and spoke little English, moved there to work in a factory. He spotted my grandmother working in a drug store and thought she was pretty, wanted to talk to her but he was afraid to because it wasn’t exactly cool to be German at the time (early 1940’s.) He kept inventing reasons to go into the drugstore and finally mustered the courage to speak to her.

  26. Seana Kelly says:

    Congratulations, Denny! Your book sounds fabulous! I can’t wait to read it <3

    I think my family story can be filed under unbelievable (as it’s neither heartwarming nor romantic). My great grandmother was living in a convent orphanage in the Marshall Islands (South Pacific) at 14 when she was sold to a 53 year old, Nazi-sympathizing ship’s captain. Needless to say, as she was a Polynesian woman and he was an @sshole, she did not have a happy life. Thankfully she was around, though, to love and raise my mom. I wish I could put a romance novel spin on that, but, alas, I cannot.

  27. Congratulations, Denny! Your novel sounds amazing. I love the dual timelines and the jazz age setting. Your grandparent’s romantic tale is truly inspiring! ❤


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