Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Meet Margaret Brownley

Sandra here with a special guest. We are very privileged to have author Margaret Brownley with us today.

Margaret Brownley has published more than 20 books writing for Harlequin, St.Martin’s Press and Penguin. Her books have been published in 15 languages. She also co-wrote a storyline for a daytime soap. She’s currently writing “love and laughter” in the old west for Thomas Nelson. A LADY LIKE SARAH will be in bookstores 12/29.

Please join me in welcoming this renowned author to Seekerville.

And yes, this evening, we will have drawings for copies of Margaret's latest release, A LADY LIKE SARAH. Margaret will be giving away a copy and our Tina, who is one of Margaret's biggest fans will also give away a copy.

So Margaret, We have some questions for you.

1. I read you got started writing fiction because of your Grisholm
style newsletters. Can you give us more details
You mean you want to hear about vanishing picnic baskets, stone cold cuts and killer ants?
Seriously, I’ve written fiction all my life. It was kind of a secret vice. I wrote my first book in fifth grade (a mystery which I didn’t know how to end) and entered every short story contest I could find during my teens. My angst-driven stories didn’t even garner an honorable mention. That and the fact that I failed eighth grade English didn’t do a whole lot for my self-esteem. Diagram a sentence? Are you kidding me? I can fix any sentence but don’t ask me how I do it. I’m like the musician who can’t read music. I probably would still be a closet writer had my pastor not suggested that maybe God was calling me to write fiction. Hey, who am I to argue with the Big Man?

2. Tell us about your journey to get published.
It was a long and difficult journey. I wrote four books before I published my first one including the world’s worse romance novel. Trust me, sometimes it’s a good thing that our early attempts don’t get published. After selling my first book, things got even more difficult. It seemed like every time I sold a book, the publisher or line went belly-up. I probably own the record for having the most sold books that never got printed. Things got so bad that when I finally landed a contract with Harlequin, my writer friends begged me not to sign it for fear I would close its doors, too.
3. Your December release A LADY LIKE SARAH sounds fun. Can you tell
us about how you came up with the idea?
Each book in my Rocky Creek series is based on historical events. A Lady Like Sarah was inspired by the escapades of Pearl Hart. Desperate to help her seriously-ill mother, she stopped a stage and, with the help of a loaded pistol, convinced its passengers to help pay her poor mama’s medical bills. (Bet you didn’t know that health care was highway robbery even back in the Old West.) The question that kept running though my mind was, how desperate would a person have to be to rob a stage? Suddenly a character named Sarah popped up on the page and demanded in no uncertain terms that I tell her story.
I got the idea for the next book in the series, A Suitor for Jenny (September 2010) after seeing a meeting notice in an old Kansas newspaper for an organization called The Society for the Protection and Preservation of Male Independence. What fun the heroine has breaking through that society!

4. I notice you have Internet presence through your website, Youtube, Facebook, etc. How helpful/necessary do you think this is for the modern author?
To be honest, I don’t really know. I’m not sure anyone has the answer to that question. I‘ve heard that publishers expect even unpublished writers to have a web presence these days, but I do think you have to be careful. I see writers posting rejections, bad reviews and personal information, and I don’t think that’s the kind of web presence publishers are looking for. If you were going on a job interview, would you want a prospective employer to know that you’d been turned down by x number of companies? I don’t think so.
It also takes an enormous amount of time and effort to create a web presence which might be better spent writing the book. Some writers blog every day and I don’t know how they do it.

5. What advice would you give all of us on our unpubbed islands?
Go and see the movie Julia and Julie and pretend it’s about writers instead of cooks. Julia Child enjoyed the process of cooking, even the failures. Julie didn’t enjoy the process, which led to constant meltdowns and relationship problems. The lesson here is that you have to love the process. If you’re just getting started, stay focused on learning the craft and discovering your inner writer. Don’t worry about the publishing end. That’s down the road. Celebrate every little success. Enjoy the ride. And write, write, write. In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule to success. Before I was published I put in my 10,000 hours by writing four books. At least two of them (okay, three) were pretty crappy but I learned.
Finally, show up—or at least make sure your manuscript does. Woody Allen said that 80% of success is just showing up and this is SO true. I heard a disturbing statistic at a recent writing conference: only 10% of the writers asked to submit chapters or proposal to an agent or editor actually bother to do so. Write and submit. Write and submit. Babe Ruth said it best, “You can’t beat persistence.”

Thank you so much Margaret.

So chime in folks and take advantage of the wisdom this author has to offer. She will be here to join us during the day.

If you're interested in a copy of A LADY LIKE SARAH, be sure and leave your email addie. We will announce the winners in the weekend edition.

In case you're hungry, we a sideboard loaded with coffee, creamers, teas and hot chocolate. Then you can move on to the table loaded with Danish pastries, Krispy Creme donuts, cinnamon crumb coffee cake and a platter with pears, grapes and bananas.


Walt M said...

I have my coffee made already. The treats look good.

I've heard 10% before (in reference to people that don't submit requests after getting them at conferences) and I've also heard 20%. I always shake my he head in disbelief. You;ve ben presented with an opportunity. You should take it.

Walt M said...

E-mail address is wmussell[at]hotmail[dot]com.

Edwina said...

I have my diet coke (my caffeine addiction) but the pastries and fruit sound yum-o!

Great interview - I love Margaret's sense of humor! Please enter my name:


Tina M. Russo said...

WALT!!! Thanks for the java.

Margaret, welcome to Seekerville.

What a deeee light to have you here.

Rose said...

WOW! Just shaking my head about that statistic...

Margaret, can you tell us about the books you sold and then the Company closed. Did the rights to the books come back to you? Were you able to place them elsewhere?

Great interview.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Good Morning earlybirds. Its five am in San Diego. yikes. But Walt, bless you for the coffee that is already made.

Great question Rose. I'll be interested in the answer myself.

I do know that an author can get rights back on books that are out of print. It is written in the contracts and it usually means a five or six year wait.

Cara Lynn James said...

Good morning, Margaret and welcome to Seekerville! I have to agree about persistence. I'm so glad you weren't so discouraged by publlishers going under that you gave up writing!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Hi, Margaret! I'm so glad you were persistent. God tells us that the testing of our faith develops perseverance, and we writers often prove that, don't we! When our faith in our writing, in our calling and in our stories is tested, it develops perseverance. You persevered and it paid off.

I can't wait to read your book! It sounds like my kind of story!

Ann said...

Closed up ... wow, discouraging and frustrating!

Did you always write historical or try various genres?

Julie Lessman said...

Good morning Margaret and Sandra and what a great interview!! Really enjoyed getting to know Margaret better.

And hey, Margaret -- welcome to Seekerville! I have to tell you that A Lady Like Sarah and A Suitor for Jenny sound realllllly intriguing and definitely something I would love to read.

Like Walt, I am in disbelief over the 10% submission statistic. Just goes to show you that Yogi Berra was onto something when he said, "Baseball is ninety percent mental and the other half is physical," meaning that when it comes to writing, we can think, plan, dream all we want, but it's the 10% physical that gets it done.


Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Margaret and welcome to Seekerville! I absolutely love your sense of humor...something so necessary in the writing process.

Loved your comparison between Julie and Julia. You have to love the process, only maybe not to the point you sacrifice your family and sanity : )

When I grow up I want to be like Julia, only with romantic words rather than unpronouncable ingredients, LOL!

I'll be looking for A Lady Like Sarah when it hits the shelves. What a fun post Christmas treat!

Pass the Krispy Kreme donuts! What a few more pounds when the holidays make all the goodies so tempting!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

I had heard that ten percent figure before also. It shows why many editors wait until they have several submissions from a writer before they go the distance and offer a contract. They want to be sure you are serious about your writing.

So keep on submitting.

And doesn't A LADY LIKE SARAH sound intriguing? I love the cover too. I love it when a story is based on a true event. I do that even with my contemporaries. In fact, the news is a great place to get ideas.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

I am drooling for a Krispy Kreme. We don't have any over here.

Hi Margaret! There is nothing like a western read! The cover is amazing. Can't wait to read it. Sounds like interesting characters.

Merry Christmas!

Your comment about English class made me chuckle. I admit I am the same way.

Mary Connealy said...

MARGARET!!!!!!!!! Hi, Welcome to Seekerville.
I saw that you were going to be on and I kept thinking I must have asked you. I'd have a moment of panic thinking I hadn't gotten your blog post yet, then I'd check closer and see it wasn't me.


Loved the interview. Thank you for not shutting down HQ. :)

Carrie Turansky said...

Hi Margaret,
Thanks for your tips and wisdom! I am looking forward to reading your book. They created a wonderful cover for you!
carrie (at) turansky (dot) com

Margaret Brownley said...

Howdy everyone,
Thank you for the great welcome.

Rose asked what publishers I closed down. Hmmm, let's see, there was Pioneer (2 books published, 2 were not), Lynx (1 book in a 3 book contract published) and what was that line? A Seoond Chance at Love. (Closed before we finished negotiating).

Pat Jeanne Davis said...

Thank you, Margaret, for your example of persistence when faced with disappointment. Reading your story is encouraging. I've heard that 10% figure before and find it incredible that a writer wouldn't follow up after getting the go ahead to submit work. All the very best with A Lady Like Sarah. Thanks to Sandra, too.

Margaret Brownley said...

Ann, My first books were contemporary novels.I pretty much failed history in school so writing historicals never even entered my head when I first started writing--at least not intentionally. I did write one contemporary that took so long to get published it became a historical by default.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Margaret, A contemporary that became a historical by default. How funny is that???? I have a couple of those myself. LOL

Thanks for joining us today. We always enjoy hearing from authors. It encourages us to keep hanging in there.

Edna said...

I would really like to win this book, I read at night and it gets my mind off the problems of life and onto the books, LOL


Margaret Brownley said...

Regarding rights: yes, do ask for them back. I even own my HQ rights, which take longer to get because of foreign sales. You never know what opportunity to sell reprint rights might come your way. Personally, I'm waiting for NASA to discover a new planet filled with book-deprived aliens. Be ready.

K.M. Weiland said...

Hah! I always hated diagramming sentences. I'd usually end up drawing a straight line, slapping in the subject and verb, then drawing little squiggly offshoots for all the other parts of speech!

Casey said...

I have heard amazing things about this book and purchased it just this weekend! Yeah! Wonderful interview, thanks so much for sharing. :)
It's encourageing to know successful authors struggle with writing too. Makes me feel I'm not alone. :)

Mary Connealy said...

You know, Margaret, I've had similar experiences 'closing' things without intending to.

I always warn people not to elect me to president of anything if they value their organization.

I closed down an extension club, a community softball league, a school and came very close to closing a church.

Not intentionally, but I was in charge when it happened. I don't think it was a coincidence but...I can't decide if my leadership destroyed the organization....or....if asking me to lead an organization is a sign that they're desperate and on the verge of death to begin with.

A little of both I think.

I have a couple of default historicals in my computer too, from all those years trying to get published. I've got a high tech thriller....with a gee whiz bag phone that weights ONLY ten pounds.

Isn't Summerside doing mysteries that are historical, but can be up to the nineteen-seventies? I could fit in there without having to do revisions.

Vince said...

Hi Margaret:

I favor historical westerns. Have you ever considered publishing footnotes and references at the back of your books? I know one romance author who does this and I just love having the benefits of her research. (No footnotes ever appear in the novel.)

I never liked English in grade school except for the diagramming. I thought back then: “At least this makes sense.” However, I loved English in high school when they started talking about works of literature.

I’m not at all surprised by the observation that, “only 10% of the writers asked to submit chapters or proposal to an agent or editor actually bother to do so”. I think that only 10% of people who call themselves writers actually are writers in the professional sense. (Just as only about 10% of people with real estate licenses actually are professional real estate salespeople.)

I consider a writer to be someone who completes writing projects and then submits them for sale.

I’d be very interested in reading your books.

Vmres (at) swbell (dot) net.


Margaret Brownley said...


Ha, ha. I think I may have closed an organization or two, but a church? I think you win the prize for near closures.

Margaret Brownley said...

It's odd that you asked about footnotes. My editor had me include a letter to readers at the end of A Suitor for Jenny (09/2010)which is a non-academic way of including footnotes--and more fun to read.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Mary, A ten pound whiz bag phone? You are toooooo much.

Speaking of phones, I recently had to revise a three year old manuscript because I had him plug his computer into a phone to connect to the Internet which of course you don't have to do today with wifi everywhere.

With technology zooming into change every day, you really need to keep up. sigh

MJ said...

Please sign me up to wind the A Lady Like Sarah.

rmjagears AT gmail DOT com

I love ideas I stumble across in historical records, like this. I've got some stories in line inspired like that.

Thanks also for the story of persistence, getting myself all geared up for rejection when I finally got enough to submit. But if someone asks me for something, I can't fathom why I wouldn't send it in!

Natasha Kern said...

Hi Margaret, There are some tidbits here that I didn't know! I'm surprised you didn't sell to Meteor and Candlelight before they died! LOL! I love all your OOP books and do hope we can get tham back in print so everyone else can enjoy them too before long.

I hope everyone at Seekerville has a joyful and blessed holiday!

bathmate said...

nice posting. very good work. thank you. :)


Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Natasha--the best agent a gal could ever hope for!

Thank you for stopping by.

robynl said...

Persistence is key to many things in our life and so it seems, in a major way, to an author's.

I, too, like the book cover and the sounds of the story. Enter me please.


Project Journal said...

Hi Margaret! Welcome to Seekerville!

I haven't read any of your books, but you've encouraged me to do so! I loved your reference to Julie and Julia. That totally makes sense, the way you swap in writers instead of cooks. : ) I can tell you're a writer by your clever thinking.

It's really interesting that you've "closed down" places. I can't imagine! Lol! At least you're better off than Mary ; )

By the way, all, I have another announcement today...I'm accepted to Castleton!!! YAY! I put out a blog post, but for those of you who care to know, but aren't Followers, now you know : )
I'll be back,

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Natasha, Thanks for joining us.

Congrats Hannah.

Anonymous said...

HI Margaret,

I enjoyed your posting today...especially your reference to Julie and Julia :)

Your latest book sounds delicious!

Merry Christmas,


Heather Bernard said...

Hey Margaret,
Thanks so much for a great post. "The Society for the Protection and Preservation of male independence" brought a huge smile to my face, can't wait until it comes out.
Great advice with the internet presence. It is so difficult to balance out writing and marketing your writing.
So glad there are crispy Kremes left even though I am so late,

hchristine at yahoo dot com

lynnrush said...

Great interview. I like how you suggested Julia and Julie. I'd heard that before. I must go see it.

THANKS! Merry Christmas.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey, there are still Krispy Cremes Heather. We had a new fresh batch delivered. Aren't they yummy? They make a nice dessert for you Easterners who are already near my bedtime.

But for us Westerners, we have a tray of assorted nuts, dry roasted almonds, cashews, peanuts and added to that some yogurt covered pretzels, and slices of Havarti cheese. There are some crisp sliced apples to crunch on. Hope this helps. smile

Pepper Basham said...

Late to the party, but what a fun post. Your two new books sound great - fun! I bet the heroines have to be a bit sassy. :-)

I loved the movie Julie and Julia. Well done, funny, and actually had a pretty positive theme about marriage - imaginet that!

Please place me in the drawing
And Margaret, blessings on your future writing.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book! Please enter me. Thanks!!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Getting close to the drawing. Be sure and comment if you want to be entered. Don't forget to leave your email addie.

Thanks again Margaret for joining us today.

Ruth and Lacey said...

Ah, sick liebchens so it took me some time to get here, but Margaret, I wanted to give you a big ol' upstate NY welcome and cyber hug for being here.

Great words of wisdom. Smart. Succinct.


Thank you for being here today!

Well. Yesterday!


Niki Turner said...

Chugging coffee... no pastries though, just peanut butter toast.
Please enter me in the drawing!


Kathryn Neff Perry said...

Please pass the Krispy Kreme donuts---I haven't gained enough weight yet this Christmas! I loved this post and the great advice. You are so right Margaret that it is a blessing that our early works weren't published. I also love your sense of humor and can't wait to read everything you've written. Blessings to you my friend.

RTHRBRTN said...

A Lady Like Sarah sounds like my kind of book. Pat Elliott Elli2@prodigy.net.

p.s. I can relate to your being able to fix a sentence but not diagram it. I was behind the door when they taught diagraming at my school.