THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LYNETTE BRASFIELD
The Beginning: SouthERN Africa
Born in South Africa, Lynette spent her childhood in Durban and Johannesburg. She attended Rhodes University in the Cape, emerging with a first-class BA in English and History, and earned a graduate degree in English Literature from Natal University.
In 1976, she worked as a library assistant at the University of Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia), and during that country’s civil war hitch-hiked with a friend to the Victoria Falls and Kariba Dam with the obliviousness to danger that comes with being young and foolish.
Returning to Johannesburg without having been blown up by a landmine or eaten by a lion, she tried out various careers from toy sales to high school teaching to journalism, and finding none of them quite the right fit, settled on PR, becoming the PR manager for PG Glass Ltd. Two house journals, Reflections and Glass Mirror, were published under her direction, and a corporate identity program implemented.
Snow: Cleveland, Ohio
In 1985, she immigrated to the United States, landing in Cleveland, a city she had never heard of before, with her two sons (one in utero, her very own anchor baby) and her (now) ex-husband. Here she learned what storm windows were, how to build a snowman, and that salt melts ice. She took on part-time freelance writing for Case Western Reserve University and St. Luke’s Hospital, along with bringing up her sons and becoming addicted to baseball and football at a time when both local teams, the Indians and the Browns, were at their worst. She joined Toastmasters International, earning a trophy for Impromptu Speech, in which she -- for reasons now forgotten -- compared herself to the Zimbabwe River.
Sunshine: Orange County, California
Three years later Lynette found herself divorced and in Orange County, California. Her first job was at Hubbert Advertising, where she developed PR campaigns and wrote advertorials for the real estate industry with fascinating headlines such as House Has Three Bedrooms, as well as developing campaign material for the soon-to-be-built Dove Canyon. Happy to be a single mother with the support of great friends, she managed to persuade her kids that choosing dinner from the salad counter at Lucky’s grocery store was a treat that few other children enjoyed. Fortunately, over time, her microwaving skills improved.
Nelson Communications: working hard and partying smart
Lynette was hired by Nelson Communications Group (now Porter Novelli) in 1989, where she worked on several major accounts including PacifiCare Health Systems, Chapman University, and a national Party Smart program, supported by Anheuser Busch, to encourage responsible drinking. She developed campaigns centered around high-profile events such as Spring Break and the Super Bowl, hiring LA Raiders’ quarterback Steve Beuerlein and former Oakland A’s star Jay Johnstone as spokespeople. She was fortunate to win nine PROTOS awards for her work -- if you could call staging sandcastle competitions and setting up media interviews at cocktail parties in New Orleans during Super Bowl week "work".
Got Milk?: An Iconic Campaign Begins
Lured to Hill and Knowlton, she worked as a vice president on the “Got Milk?” campaign as well as healthcare and beverage accounts. However, once her older son reached middle-school age, she decided to work from home as an independent contractor. She signed with Nelson Communications to provide strategic and creative counsel for several of their clients including Unocal 76, Irvine Health Foundation, and the County of Orange. In addition, she ghostwrote articles for independent clients, CEOs and physicians at CalOptima, PacifiCare, and Hoag Hospital. Being a ghost led to some spirited and productive exchanges with her clients, who trusted her ability to see through all projects on time and within budget.
NATURE LESSONS: A Novel
In 1996 Lynette married Bill Brasfield, golfer, businessman and terrific husband, continuing her PR consultancy until her novel, NATURE LESSONS, was published in hardback in 2003 and in soft cover in 2004. Since then, she has taught fiction writing in private workshops and at Cal State Fullerton and edited manuscripts for private clients while working on her next novel.
She’s spoken at many events including the Southern California Writers Conference, MHA’s Meeting of the Minds, AAUW Literary Luncheons, Round Table West, West Hollywood Book Fair, the Literary Guild of Orange County, and at many book clubs. Her favorite anecdote: at an Osher Lifelong Learning event, a man in the audience put up his hand. "If you had written about India and not South Africa," he said, "I would have read your book." She was (for once) speechless.
Lost and Found: A family reunited
Lynette’s father, a Scotsman who immigrated to South Africa after the Second World War, died in 1965 when she was nine years old. She'd been told that his relatives were untraceable. But in 2007, through the Internet, she found his living sister (96) and two first cousins in Glasgow. With some trepidation she contacted them and, thrilled, they invited her to Scotland to visit them. It was an amazing experience to find family after all those years -- generous people with a wonderful sense of humor. She knows so much more now about her father, a mystery man all these years -- the places he lived, and the people he loved. She learned the meaning of "blether" (to talk a lot -- apparently a family trait), and that a spurtle is not a small, fast turtle, but a utensil with which to stir porridge.
Life at home and abroad
Now an American citizen, Lynette is fortunate to have visited many countries. Some of her favorites include Ecuador, Tanzania, Australia, Mexico, Greece, New Zealand—where her sister lives—and Costa Rica. Most recently, she and her husband Bill visited Ireland.
Still on the list: China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Iceland, Turkey, and Patagonia in Argentina. Memorable travel moments: swimming in the Pastaza River, a tributary of the Amazon, along with pink dolphins and (unseen but apparently present) piranha; the boiling mud pond in Rotorua that looked like a thousand brown frogs jumping; blue boobies (birds!) flirting in the Galapagos; watching a mother hippo defend her baby son from an adult male in Ngorogoro Crater; and the short vacations she took with her sons in her single years to Mammoth Lakes, Sedona, and up the California coast .
Lynette loves wildlife, unusual people, strange facts, pubs, history, yoga, good food and wine, bagels and lox, gorgeous abstract art—especially Brenda Bredvik’s—the color blue, reading, and landscapes, but she is not much into cathedrals or dude ranches, and is far too uncoordinated to dance or play golf.
Lynette is also passionate about hiking the trails in Laguna Beach with her close friends Dianne and Martha. She and Dianne once saw a dead rattlesnake with a dead mouse in its mouth, but they have no photographic proof.
Her grown sons Kyle and Dylan live on the East Coast, teaching, writing, and pursuing graduate degrees, which gives her and her husband, Bill, a perfect excuse to visit New York and Boston. All three “men in her boat” have brought great joy and happiness to her life.