Meet Ninya & Blair Bryan
I was born on July 11, making it easy for potential mates to remember my birthday (There’s a 7/11 right there……) You get extra points if you know what musical that line is from. Named after one of my mom’s friends dogs, I am one of 5 kids born into a catholic family.
When I was 7, I vividly remember my sister Kesha and I sitting on our quilt covered bunk beds writing little stories for hours. (Yes she is the lucky one because a pop star made her name so recognizable that people could actually pronounce it correctly the first time.) Hey we didn’t have a lot of things, so the imagination was an amazing place to concoct a life we wanted.
In addition to the terrible stories, I also began to journal. It is a daily practice that has served me well. Mostly because my memory is so terrible now. Tiny purple notebooks with even tinier keys were not enough to keep my curious brother at bay, but my family pretended to respect my privacy anyway. Buried deep in those journals were confessions about the boy I was crushing on and play by play accounts of Sister Irene falling asleep in class. This was vital information I was painstakingly archiving.
I was a voracious reader, often sneaking books into math class, because hello, math, and hiding them under my text book so I could tune out the Pythagorean theorem and fall into a land of make believe. Turns out I haven’t needed to know the Pythagorean theorem in real life, in fact this paragraph is the most I have ever written about it 4 decades.
Still in denial about being a writer, I got married, had a couple of kids and began a career in photography. Still telling stories, but visually instead of with words.
Then in my 40’s the bottom dropped out of my marriage, and I sold my shares in my business and started and failed at teaching photo app editing classes. During this time I also started to blog about my midlife crisis as a way to process all the “fun stuff” (and I use this term loosely) that was coming my way. I had evolved into a Social Media Manager, which I was great at, but that was soul sucking in the way that only living in that uber fake, greatest hits world can be.
After a devastating loss of my entire income when shifts in the businesses that I helped succeed cut me out completely, I hit my lowest low and had to work a year as a lunch lady. (Cue the hairnet jokes. Lunch ladies will always have a huge chunk of my heart. Truly some of the sweetest and most taken for granted workers on the planet.) After a year of working hard and writing, I was able to leave my hairnet behind thanks to the success of my memoir, "Scotland with a Stranger." An Eat, Pray, Love inspired journey that is nearly impossible to believe.
I live near Des Moines, Iowa with an incredibly artistic and brilliant 16 year old who mocks me daily for my lack of style and who can draw on their eyebrows with the confidence of a drag queen.
I can be bribed with dark chocolate caramels from Trader Joes and Red Rageous Mike and Ike’s. My dog lays by my side while I ‘punish’ the keyboard. I like to think I hit the keys with authority, but have been told otherwise by multiple people in my life, and looking at my keyboard now I can see that they may be right because many letters are practically rubbed off completely.
I have been called muppety, absurdly optimistic, and the biggest dork of all time. I agree with all three assessments.
I am publishing using my first name only in the hopes that one day it is so recognizable that it can be pronounced correctly the first time. (NEEN-YA) And being in the company of Madonna, Cher, and Prince, (oops, I am showing my age) ain’t half bad. I also publish under the pen name, Blair Bryan, in an effort to separate my contemporary fiction readers from my non-fiction readers.