Faye Bryant was born and raised in Florida. But, she moved to Tennessee after turning 25, fell in love and has been there ever since.
Prior to turning 50, she worked for the U.S. Post Office and spent time working at a bulk mailroom for a small college. She also worked as restaurant server, bookkeeper and for a publishing agency, which was her favorite job.
“I got to do marketing for them and wrote copy for various projects,” Faye explained. “I still do that sometimes.”
Married for 31 years, she has one son, two stepsons and three grandchildren ranging from elementary school age to college.
She picked up photography as a hobby in middle school and has been developing her skill as an amateur to create some stunning architectural and landscape images. That talent was put to good use a few years ago when her family took a cruise to Alaska.
Focused on writing
Faye wrote one book just before turning 50, but has published four others since then. Three of them are novels based on the lives of her grandmother, mother and her own. She also published a non-fiction book as well as a 40-day devotional.
When she first started writing, Faye wanted to combine her story with her mother’s and grandmother’s, but she wasn’t pleased with the way it turned out.
“It came out very ‘Joe Friday-like’ in that it focused on just the facts in chronological order,” Faye explained. “My husband and I were having dinner at a restaurant one night when he said he felt God was telling him I should write a book, but he didn’t have any idea what I should write about.
“During that process, it dawned on me my first book should be about an ongoing conversation I had been having with God in the shower, of all places,” she added. “I know that sounds weird. But I liked to take my time reading, learning and studying Scripture. In the shower, when my mind is clear, I often have conversations with God about things I had just read and learned.
“When I finished the shower, I remember thinking, ‘Lord, someone should write a book about that,” she said. “It turned out I was right. He wanted me to write it.”
Writing “Coffee, Bible, Journal: Musings From the Comfy Chair With a View” was the beginning of a transformation for Faye that saw her blossom from being a hurt child to a whole woman.
“Because I was able to tell some of the stories of my life in a way that helped others see biblical truth, I learned that truth as well,” she explained.
“I wasn’t able to deal with the situation because I didn’t realize all the aspects that were involved in it until I started writing out the details,” said Faye. “Just admitting what happened was huge. After that, the journey involved recognizing what to do about knowing what happened and getting past it so the memory wouldn’t remain a brick on my shoulder forever.”
Creating a series
Faye had enough stories from her own life and the lives of her mother and grandmother that she was able to create a series of fiction books based on reality.
It was easier for Faye to fictionalize them in her Saga series, which she believes made the books much more compelling than a simple biography.
The first book in the series was titled “Louise“ and focused on the highlights from the life of Faye’s maternal grandmother. Life was a difficult experience for her, especially after becoming the woman of the house at age 8. It was her job to do all the cooking and cleaning as well as bring water to their house from the creek.
Louise escaped that life by getting married at age 16 to a wonderful man. They had several children, but one of them died as a teenager, and her husband followed a short time later. There was a lot of trauma and stress involved in that story.
The second book was titled “Elaina“ and focused on Louise’s oldest daughter who, at age 12, became the “man of the house” after her father suddenly died. Elaina stopped going to school and, because she was the only person in the house who could drive, she had to work on the farm because her family were sharecroppers. That required her to take on other roles she really didn’t want to play just to support everybody else.
Like her mother, Elaina escaped that life by getting married, but even earlier at age 14; however, her husband was extremely abusive. Years later, she was able to escape that relationship, remarried and enjoyed a much better life going forward.
The third book, “Beth“, released in September 2021 and is based on Faye’s life.
“It uncovers how the hurt people of my past wound up hurting me and how those experiences worked to shape me into the person I’ve become,” she explained. “People believe that if they read the book, then they’ll think I had a horrible life, but that’s not true. I’ve had a fabulous life, yet some horrible things happened to me.”
A common thread
Similar to Dragnet’s Joe Friday, the names in “Beth” have been changed to protect the innocent as well as the guilty who didn’t want their dirty laundry aired for the world to see.
“Still, the Grandma, Mom and Me Saga is about the lives of three different women and how their individual experiences intertwined to shape the others’ lives,” said Faye.
“In doing genealogical research on my family, I heard stories about my grandmother and mother. And I lived my story, so I was intimately familiar with that,” she explained. “Yet, in analyzing the three lives, I could see a common thread interwoven throughout their stories.
“All three women experienced similar trauma, similar betrayal and eerily coincidental situations,” she added. “The most common thread of all was faith. That just didn’t waiver. The books describe things that happened to the women, but it wasn’t the end of their stories.”
Each book is meant to be a standalone story in that people don’t have to read them in the same order they were written just to comprehend the messages. Yet, reading the books in order helps people better understand the similarities among the women so they can follow those common threads on an epic journey spanning three generations.
Faye took some editorial license in crafting the books. For example, in real life, Faye’s great grandmother died a year after her daughter was born. Her great grandfather remarried, but his new wife disappeared while traveling between Illinois and Arkansas. Most people think the woman died somewhere along the way because no other records of her exist.
Since the incident happened in the early 1900s, Faye crafted a story line in “Louise” about making a journey through Missouri in a wagon on the way to Arkansas. While the woman walked beside the wagon, she was bitten by a snake. Isolated in a very rural area and far away from any town, medical help wasn’t available, so the woman died.
Adding plots like that to the three books really gives them a flavor of adventure and intrigue, Faye explained.
Inspiration for writing
As a young adult in her early 20s, Faye knew she liked to write because she could be very descriptive. Upon leaving a job at Walt Disney World, she was asked write an exit essay describing what she thought was good and bad about the job as well as the company.
“The person from human resources who reviewed that essay said, ‘My goodness, have you ever considered writing books?’” Faye explained.
Although she contemplated pursuing a career in writing, Faye buried the desire for decades. It wasn’t until Faye turned 49 that she finally committed her own stories to paper. Even then, it was eight more years before she completed her second book, “This is GOOD?: Reconciling Romans 8:28 in Unprecedented Crisis.” She wrote the three-book series starting in 2018 and wrapped it up in 2021.
Faye is uncertain whether the saga will continue, although she has contemplated adding another fiction book highlighting her father’s story and how it relates to Faye, her mother and grandmother.
That will be put on hold for a while. Currently, Faye is working on a biography as well as a non-fiction book pertaining to her experience with gastric surgery.
“The Miracle That Walks,” which I’m calling the new biography, is about a man who should have died as a child at several points during his young life, but he didn’t, Faye explained. “The book will really speak to the purpose each person has for their life.”
When people read the book series, Faye said they often admit to recognizing themselves in one of the characters.
“Even though life seems heavy and dark sometimes, readers realize they don’t necessary have to live like that,” she explained. “They can remain strong in their faith and still be able to walk the entire journey.
“Not only do readers understand they’re not the only people who had to deal with those situations, they can also see it’s possible to enjoy life despite those kinds of things happening to them,” she added.
Faye waited to develop the stories until after her parents had passed away. Doing that allowed her to expand upon on her relationship with them over the years. Waiting until her mother and father died enabled her to be truthful and honest without fear of hurting either of them.
Writing books as fictional tales rather than purely factual stories also works to personalize the characters.
“I could have written two biographies plus an autobiography and probably not been able to get through to people in the same way my fiction books do,” said Faye.
Understand your purpose
If Faye were to convey one piece of advice to people over 50, it would be to take time to learn what their purpose is for the second half of their lives.
“I know that sounds vague and ominous, but it really addresses a place in your heart,” she explained. “Discovering your purpose involves exploring what you dreamed about as a child and then contemplating what that dream would look like for you right now. After that, it involves going to work to accomplish the dream.”
Faye coaches people to help them realize where their real passions are and what they want to do going forward.
“Think back to when you were younger and people asked what you wanted to be when you grew up,” she said. “Your answer and the reasons behind it are still a big part of your heart.
“As a teenager, I wanted to be a psychologist, but I chose to go in a different direction,” Faye explained. “The underlying reason for wanting to becoming a psychologist was to help people discover themselves based on how they think and feel.
“Today, as a coach, I get to talk to people in a different way, but with similar results,” she added.
Her coaching services fall into three categories:
- Recovery coaching – Helping people understand their need to feel, deal and heal with things that happened to them by looking back on key events in their lives to see what happened and what caused it.
- Purpose coaching – Helping people discover what makes them tick and breathes life into their spirit.
- Focus coaching – Guiding people to navigate around considerable distractions in their lives in order to move forward with what they want to do, but with a clearer focus and better understanding of how to get there.
“When you discover your God-given purpose and how to live in it, you can look at your past with renewed vision to employ new confidence and greater ability to redeem it by creating a divine mission,” Faye explained. “By revealing where clients keep getting triggered or ‘hacked,’ I help guide them through a proven process to say ‘no’ to their crippling defeats and ‘yes’ to living forward with focus.”
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After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.