Friday, January 11, 2013

Please Welcome our Guest Margaret Brownley



Margaret Brownley

Since this is the start of another year it seems like the perfect time to set new writing goals. To help you get started here are few that should be on every writer’s resolution list:

Make a Solid, Attainable Goal

If you have a specific goal in mind, you’ll be less likely to get sidetracked. An attainable goal is one that can be reached through your efforts, not someone else’s. Writing a book, sending out proposals, attending workshops, entering contests, increasing readership or contacting agents are all manageable goals; winning a Pulitzer is not. Everything you do from blogging to attending conferences should move you closer to your goal. If not, don’t waste your time.

Stop Rationalizing

All that time spent on blogging and Facebook will not advance a writing career, no matter what you might have heard. You’d be amazed at how many N.Y. Times bestselling authors do not have a FB page. If you want to blog, Twitter or post on Facebook, fine; just don’t call it writing time.


If you don’t take your writing seriously, no one else will, including your family. I suspect this is more of a problem with women than men. When I taught creative writing, I noticed that whenever my class fell on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the women all stayed home to prepare for the holiday, but my male students attended class as usual. Writing sometimes has to play second fiddle to families, jobs and other responsibilities, but if it isn’t on your priority list (or can’t even compete with a turkey) you might not be ready for a writing career.

Go for Your BA degree. That’s BA for Be Alert.

Things are changing so rapidly in the publishing world, it’s hard to keep track. There are many resources that track industry changes, but I found the following two resources helpful to my writing:

1. The non-fiction bestseller lists: what people are reading in nonfiction often gives a clue as to what they will be looking for in fiction a year or two from now.
2. The British: they trend six months ahead of us in fashion, music, TV and books.

Motivate Yourself Daily by Celebrating

My first sale was to a local magazine for which I received five dollars. My husband took out me to dinner to celebrate. Shortly after I sold another article for five dollars and again we painted the town red. By the third such sale my husband said, “Honey, we can’t afford all this success.” He had a point, but those little celebrations kept me going even as I piled up rejections for my books.

So celebrate every success no matter how small. Add a coin to a jar every time you finish a chapter, enter a contest, receive a rejection (hey, that meant you sent something out!), query or read a how-to-write book. When the jar’s full, treat yourself or use it as conference money. (To be on the safe side, I always keep a bottle of sparkly in the ‘fridge because you never know when something wonderful will happen.)


Click to buy on
Hey, it’s a crazy business. I once knew someone who wrote a children’s non-fiction book about coffee. The publisher told her they would like to publish it but they needed one little revision; could she please change the coffee to tea? Every published writer can tell you similar stories. Learn to accept this craziness and laugh. You’ll live longer

Write the book!

This might seem basic, but conferences are filled with aspiring writers clamoring to meet editors and agents before having completed a single book. Remember, as little as a page a day will produce a book by year’s end. So write the book, the whole book and nothing but the book.

Leave a comment to get your name in the drawing for a copy of Waiting for Morning. Tell me what your New Years Resolution as a WRITER is and may you all have a safe, creative and productive New Year!

Margaret Brownley is the author of more than 25 novels and is a N.Y. Times bestselling author and Romance Writers of American RITA finalist. Her latest book “Waiting for Morning” has just been released and is part of her Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. The next book in the series “Gunpowder Tea” is scheduled for a fall release. Also, look for her story in the Brides for All Seasons collection in June (with Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher and Debra Clapton).


  1. For me it is about one word, COMMITMENT.

    I commit to writing every day, for an hour and a half. I don't think about word count, I just do it. No excuses.

    Lots of other items on my commit list but that is the main one!

    Great post.

    peace, Julie

  2. Welcome back to Seekerville, Margaret. My resolution is focused on MY ONE WORD also.

    It's ONE.

    I will stay linear and focused on one project at a time.

  3. Margaret,

    LOVE everything about this post. 'Tell 'm like it is.' :)

    I'd grown kind of tired with people talking about how you have to be on FB, Twitter etc etc to get published. All the more since agents and editors say, when asked, that they hardly ever check out an unpublished author's site, blog etc even when the links are in the query. They just want an amazing book. Thanks for reconfirming that!

    I also loved the remark about prioritizing. The turkey really did it for me! :) Can't understand people who say they never have time to write, and then go on telling how they watch TV for twenty hours a week. Just cut out some TV and voila, writing time. Everything's out on DVD these days, so you can watch your fav show whenever you do have the time for it. Has been my policy for years and it works!

    Love the remark about having to laugh at the business. Your example made me think about the scene in a Danny Kaye movie where he's asked: sugar? a lump; milk? a dribble; lemon? a drop; tea? never touch it in my life...

    Oh, and my one word for this year is CONQUER, and the writing resolution that goes with it is: go with your gut feeling. Often when I doubt something in a ms. that exact point is mentioned in the feedback I get. I should just trust my gut and address those issues first time around.

  4. RUTHY,

    thanks so much for answering my question yesterday. I jotted down what you said to reread regularly.

    I'm one of those readers who thinks it's a turn-off if too much is revealed up front. I read a book once where the author did such a great job through sensory images revealing that the heroine is blind. Then it was said, Being blind she couldn't see anything around her so had to trust on her other senses, or something to that intent. I was going like: WHAT? how can you do that? You showed it, I got it, then you go spoil it by telling me??? Totally respect that author for her great books, but that I couldn't get. :(

  5. Connie,

    thanks for your reply as well. I'm with you on the cut out the secrecy thing: hate it when a character constantly goes: oh, if anybody finds out about my terrible secret... and then when you as a reader find out what it is, you go: sure (rolls eyes).

    Thanks for mentioning having to get on with the action in the story. It can be a fine line between showing what goes on in the characters' heads to clarify GMC and pushing the story forward.

  6. Julie,

    love it that you commit to writing a certain amount of time every day!


    ONE makes me think of COMPLETE, which Myra discussed so beautifully earlier this week. Never knew other people's One Words could be so inspirational! Like a little morning devotion to begin with :)

    Off now to do some volunteering, but ... I will be back :D

  7. Margaret - I loved your first book in this series and am eagerly awaiting a chance to read this one!

    I'm not a writer, but I do dabble. I guess the one word I'd say would be a New Year's Resolution for me is CONSISTENCY. For me that would mean writing a little bit each day. Maybe setting a timer and writing a set amount of time.

  8. Margaret, thanks for joining us at Seekerville today.

    I think you hit the nail on the head -- as important as the benefits of social media might be, it doesn't take the place of actually writing!

  9. Hi Margaret,

    My goals are to finish editing Missing, finish writing Turquoise, and contact more agents.

    I hope to go to my second ACFW conference. (I'm waiting to see when my niece decides her wedding will be.)

    I enjoyed your post today. Thanks for sharing.

    Jackie L.

  10. Margaret,

    Interesting about what people are reading in non-fiction. And the Brits are ahead of us? I need to check their bestseller non-fiction lists! :)

    Loved the reminder to laugh and the revision from coffee to tea. So true!

    I'm smiling...and setting goals for 2013!

  11. My new year's resoluation as a writer? Of course top of my list (for several years now) is to get an agent. I can't really control that one so my other writing goals include writing 1,000 words a day; completing my WIP; querying my last WIP until there's no one else left in the world to query :) I can control those things. Oh, and to enter a writing contest every month this year.

    Thanks for your post and Happy Friday, Seekerville!

  12. Um, did you see the spam email above my comment? Yikes!

  13. Margaret,

    Great advice! I firm believer in setting attainable goals!

  14. Welcome to Seekerville, Margaret!
    I am not a writer, so I don't have any New Year Resolution for that.
    I try not to set any resolutions for the year period.

  15. Hi Margaret!!!!

    What a great post!!!

    My one word is DISCIPLINE.

    Thanks to that word [and a couple people talking me out of the giant meteor slamming into my fictional town], I managed to get a couple K in yesterday. This goes well my goal to get oodles done this year - particularly before Genesis since a full manuscript is required this year.

    But now I need to go discipline a 5yo if he's not going to get ready for school ;).

  16. Last year I buzzed through about eight finished books, and no luck. Each one of them lacked something, and I am constantly learning what's acceptable and what isn't. I know what the reader wants because I love to read and I know what I want...(That sounds a little closed-minded, huh? LOL) I've got down characters, plot, setting, and I know how to keep excitement going. Now all I have to do is put all of that into one book and I'll have a winner. Hehehe. My goal this year is to get that winner. I have brought my expectatiobns of my writing down to at least one page, and maybe all the way to a chapter, a day, and then I stop, revise, rewrite, reread and repeat. It's a process, but one where I'm always learning and I'm grateful to all the people on this blog and others that take the time to share their gems of knowledge with us unpublished wannabes.

  17. Welcome back to Seekerville, Margaret! You've shared some great wisdom. My One Word this year is DO. Just do it. All the resolutions in the world won't make it happen. Only I can.


  18. Margaret, thanks for this post! I'm focusing on the word PERSPECTIVE this year--applying to all areas of my life.

    Two specific goals I have for writing is to FINALLY get my first ms ready to query and to complete a first draft of my second novel.

    Thanks for sharing specific things to consider in setting goals for this year!

  19. This is an encouraging post, Margaret. Women do have a lot more to "block out" than men do. We have to be so careful to keep a balance. I was convicted by the "TV" reference. I'm putting the finishing touches on a piece which I hope will be my last "first novel." SO close to where I want to be...
    Thank you Margaret.
    Kathy Bailey
    Unpubbed in New Hampshire

  20. Good morning, Margaret.

    I really want to stay focused. I allow too many things to get in the way of my writing. Books on writing, wasted time on Facebook, etc. My resolution (so to speak) is to direct my attention to my current manuscript.

    Loved this post, and the "we can't afford all this success" just about made me spit my coffee out. Ha ha.

    Please include me in the chance to win Waiting for Morning. :)

  21. Hi Margaret, and welcome back!

    I loved your tip about keeping track of the nonfiction best seller lists to see what people will be looking for in fiction next year - I had never thought of that, but you're right!

    As far as the writing goals - they're set. Proposal heading off to my agent by Monday, and then back to work on the word count for the next book.

    Did everyone see the list of finalists for the Phoenix Rattler? Several of our friends are there!!!

  22. Jan -

    where's the list for the Rattler?

    I thought the winners were to have been announced by now but I haven't found them...

  23. Margaret I've never thought of looking at the Non-fiction bestseller list. That is such a GOOD IDEA.

    And the British? Seriously?

    They're ahead of us?

    I'm definitely going to use both of these pieces of advice.

    The coffee to tea story cracks me up.

    It's like a friend of mine who sold a book, I mean SOLD, the completed book. When the revisions came they said, "We don't like the setting or the hero."

    LOL--didn't you read it before you bought it????

  24. Carol and others - here's the link for the Rattler finalists:

  25. Thanks Jan! I knew a couple who finaled, just because I know them!

    I thought the winners were supposed to be announced last week but I don't see where I saw that anymore...

    What a great list! Tough competition!

  26. MARGARET!!!!

    You said it! We were talking about this yesterday, that if you're not comfortable with Facebook, don't sweat it...

    Promote, yes, but more importantly write... write... write....

    Pretty soon those numbers add up and that's your best sales pitch right there.

    I knew you were smart!!! :) What a great post. Thank you for your candid and wise advice!

  27. Margaret,

    My goal is to stick to my word count goals. I took the advice of one of our Seeker friends and made weekly goals instead of daily.

    My biggest problem is finishing my 10 wip!!! So I WILL complete 2 ms and part of a 3rd this year. No execuses. Everything else is on the back burner.

    Connie Queen

  28. Viv, you are just delightfully smart and well-spoken.

    First, you're welcome.

    And I know what you're saying... Too much up front spoils it for some readers....

    Others get lost if you don't give them the down low ASAP....

    Balancing that is like Anne of Green Gables walking that ridge pole to show off in front of Gilbert Blythe (guilty of show-off tendencies, please RAISE YOUR HAND!!!!!) and of course to take the dare by Josie.

    That Josie. What a brat.

    So Anne's ridge pole stunt and walking a fine line writing are kind of the same. Balance. Picking words carefully, setting the mood, staying in character, not saying too much...

    But it's the most fun I've ever had in my life, and I won't pretend otherwise!!! :) Stay in the water.... because I'm having a ball and I love company!!!!

  29. Today I've been married 27 years!!!

    Seems like yesterday Bruce was driving up into my parents yard in an old white Maverick w/one blue fender...he was the first guy I ever dated. I was 15 and he was 17.

    The heater didn't work in his car and I remember it was freezing rain and we had to roll down the windows to keep the windshield from fogging up. Those are good memories.


  30. Annie, I saw it and deleted it...


    Thanks for the heads up, my friend!

  31. And did you all get it that Margaret, Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton and I are writing a novella together?

    It's called A Bride for All Seasons

    and it's releasing in June. We had so much fun writing this.

    Here's more about A Bride for All Seasons
    1800s mail-order bride catalogs facilitated many happy marriages. Here are the stories of four couples who owe their wedded bliss to creative editing by The Hitching Post publisher.

    “And Then Came Spring”—Margaret Brownley

    When mail order bride Mary-Jo Parker arrives in town she receives the shock of her life; not only is her fiancé dead, he left behind an eight-year-old son he neglected to mention. But the biggest challenge of all is the boy’s way-too-handsome uncle.

    “An Ever-After Summer”—Debra Clopton

    Widower Matt McConnell wrote his ad with no room for misunderstanding—Bible believers need not apply. But then Bible-thumping Ellie shows up on his doorstep. Matt’s so desperate for her help that he accepts.

    “Autumn’s Angel”—Robin Lee Hatcher

    Luvena Abbott's privileged childhood didn’t prepare her for the hardship she now faces as an adult, especially when it comes to being the guardian of her nieces and nephew. Marriage seems the only answer to her dilemma. Clay Birch hopes to change the hurdy-gurdy house he won in a poker game into the finest opera house in the Northwest, but he'll need help to do it. Could this unlikely couple actually be the perfect match?

    “Winter Wedding Bells”—Mary Connealy

    David Laramie is looking for a woman to care for his children. In exchange he’ll make her financially comfortable for life. But no woman wants to marry a dying man. Then Megan responds to his ad. It seems his “edited” letter contained no mention of him dying.

  32. That blurb above doesn't mention that the editor of The Hitching Post Mail Order Bride Catalogue sometimes, if he things it's for the best, EDITS the letters he gets to make his potential brides and grooms sound a little bit more appealing. :)

  33. Hi Margaret, Welcome to Seekerville and what a great reminder of how we need to treat ourselves as writers.

    Great points. I especially like the part when you say to treat and act like a writer as if it were truly your job. You wouldn't run out to do something for a friend or family member if you were on a traditional job site. But most people for some reason don't think of writing as a real job. They see you at home and figure you're available. You have to be firm and say "Can't now. I'm working. Maybe when I get off work."

    Enjoy your day with us.

  34. Whew! Just got through reading all your great comments and it looks like some of you have a great writing year ahead.

    About those British: Look at how many TV shows (DWTS, American Idol, Masterchef, X-Factor and Who Wants to be a Millionaire to name a few) were imported from GB. The British also gave us Harry Potter and the Beatles and the list goes on and on. Those trendy British are worth watching, that's for sure!

  35. Sage advice, Margaret! Thanks for being our guest in Seekerville!

    Your comment about how many NYT bestselling authors don't have a Facebook page really struck me. It's so tempting to think Facebook and other social media outlets are the be-all and end-all of book marketing and that we HAVE to do it!

    And interesting to consider that the British are several months ahead of us when it comes to trends. Sort of like the Downton Abbey phenomenon? (And how is it fair they get to see the episodes across the pond so far ahead of when we get them over here???)

  36. Welcome Margaret. I love your books and can't wait to read your latest. Congratulations!

    Thanks for the post. I'm still in the midst of finalizing my New Year's goal for 2013. Two specific goals I have so far is to write book two of the series I'm working on and read more books about the craft of writing.

    Jodie Wolfe

  37. Thank you, Margaret, for your suggestions which will focus my efforts. My resolution is to WRITE THE BOOK!!! And I like your idea of celebrating--even the little successes. Afternoon tea is the celebration of choice for my DIL (an award-winning romance writer) and me. Fun to share the simple and the grand events!

  38. Great suggestions and reminders, Margaret. I attended your creative writing romance class years ago! Thanks. xo

  39. Hi Margaret:

    I’ve been fascinated by one of your books and I can’t find anything about it. “Cry Of The Seagull”. The blurb does not tell enough except make me want to read it. My big question is if it is a paranormal? I think it has a great cover. It just seems to be calling my name.


  40. HI Margaret,
    Your post is a great reminder that goal setting doesn't have to be hard. You've shared tips that make it a manageable process.

    This year my goal is to write more than the 5,000 a week that I've been writing for the past couple years. And so far, so good in 2013!

  41. Prove You’re Not a Robot!

    It looks like Seekerville is on the target list for robots. It may be time for one of those sign-ins that say: “Prove you’re not a robot”. I really don’t like these because it takes me a lot of times to prove I’m human! I mean human’s make mistakes, right? On one of these sites, I’m never been able to prove I’m human. OMG! What’s next?


  42. Vince, Cry of the Seagull was a Harlequin Superromance written years ago. It was a contemporary romance not written for the inpirational market. Two babies were switched at the hospital and one baby dies. Years later, the heroine comes face to face with a child that looks exactly like her and so begins her quest.

  43. great advice today.

    i especially liked your suggestions on how to celebrate your achievements without breaking the bank, so to speak.

    my one word is DISCIPLINE, but i think most of your advice today requires discipline, so this whole post speaks to my goals.

    i love learning here at Seekerville.

  44. Wow, Margaret that Cry of the Seagull blurb gave me chills. What a cool premise for a story.
    Have you ever noticed that in fiction children always grow up to be DEAD RINGERS for their parents where as in real like we spend a lot of time saying things like, "Well, he kinda has his father's forehead and his eyes are the same color as his mom's."

    None of my kids look anything like me. NOTHING. Not that I'm so great to look at or nuthin' but would it have killed one of the little brats to have SOMETHING of me in them????

    I spent most of the 80s PREGNANT!

  45. Mary, you always make me laugh. Cry of the Seagull was written during my "angst" period. Hey, Picasso had a blue period, so why can't I?

  46. I am not an author, but I am really trying hard to put up reviews for all the books I am reading. Thanks for the chance to win your newest book.

    arsmelser6 at gmail dot com

  47. Connie,

    congrats on your anniversary! What great memories! Oh, and as a writer, Bruce is a name with hero potential to me. I don't know why, but for some reason some names don't work for me as hero potential, and others I just love. Which of course means I have to pay attention that not all of my heroes are called Gabe or Cole... :D

  48. HA! Blogger, take that. I copied my post before I hit publish. *g*

    Margaret, thank you for the wonderful post. I pray those struggling with sitting in their chair and working will listen to your wise advice. My one word is SURGE. Not sure why, except that this is the year that I want to surge my publishing career forward and to allow God to surge through me in every aspect of my life.

    Julie, that is a word for writers to live by. I've started myself out with one hour a day. I hope to increase that soon.

    Tina, great word.

    Viv! You crack me up. I'm there with you on the never having time to write but have plenty of time for television, too.

    Dawn, I like that word.

    Jackie, those are good goals. I, too, hope to make it to ACFW.

    Annie, landing an agent has been my goal every year. It's one this year too. But like you said, no control. I'm a little nervous about querying on my western again.

    Carol, I find discipline a funny word for you. You write more than 99.9% of the writers I know.

  49. Misty, keep pushing forward. I've heard it takes a lot of perseverance in this business.

  50. Jeanne T, I can't wait to see you succeed. Beautiful writing, great voice.

  51. Kathy, I love hearing this. You go, girl!!

  52. Ruthy,

    again jotting down what you said about choosing words, setting the mood and staying in character. I always need to mull over such phrases to sort of figure out how they work for me. But I'm having fun right there with you!

  53. Mary,

    loved reading the short descriptions of the mailorder bride stories. Especially the bit about the editor of the ads changing them just a little bit to make the candidates look better?

    Your story stood out to me, because if he's really dying, how are you going to pull off the HEA? (people, is Mary going Nicholas Sparks on us? LOL).

  54. Viv,

    I'll tell him what you said about his name. It'll make his day.

    Bruce is really his middle, Carlton is his first. Carlton might make a good charcter's name, but not the hero's. LOL.


  55. Christina,

    glad to read you were having trouble with Blogger too. I figured it was just trying to frustrate me.

    Found the same remedy as you. Between the two of us we'll get the thing to obey. After all (following Vince's comment), we are the humans, right? :D

  56. That is funny, Viv! I don't think blogger will ever obey. Has a mind of it's own, kind of like a two year old.

    So there are lots of congratulations that need to go out for all those Rattle finalists!!!! WhooHOooo I think I counted at least five Seeker villagers on that list. Y'all rock!

    And, Connie, Happy Anniversary!!

  57. Margaret,
    THIS IS WONDERFUL! What great encouragement (and some gentle nudging) to get on target and serious about writing.
    (while keeping a healthy funnybone in place)

    Thanks so much for this. I needed to hear it. It was almost as effective as one of Ruthy's kick in the pants :-)

  58. Btw, Mary Connealy, Ruthy forced me on the phone to say that I love her more than you. She did that TODAY. On the Phone.

    she's such a bully...and then tries to cover it up by posting pictures on FB of those cute kids she babysits. It's all a cover.

  59. And Tina,
    I think you are fab - no matter WHAT Carol says ;-)

  60. Mary, your beautiful daughters do look like you. Really!

  61. Great advice as usual here in Seekerville.

    Maybe this year I will actually write down some goals. Wonder if that will make me more prolific? Either that, or I'll just delete that file off the computer next Dec. 31st!

    I like that goals have to be something we have control over - that helps make things a little more realistic.

    Congratulations to all the contest finalists! It's fun to recognize so many names.


  62. I love and laughed out loud reading your celebrate your success story. You deserved those dinners!

  63. Hi Margaret. I feel like I've just been to class. Thank you for your post today. I would love to be entered to win a copy of your book Waiting For Morning.

    My one word for this year is discipline.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

  64. Thank you Margaret! I love your no-nonsense advice, and know I'll be keeping this near my computer. I especially liked your reminder that we need to take our writing seriously. So often I feel that others see unpubbed writers as just having writing as a hobby. So this year I am striving to be more self-disciplined and take my writing seriously! Because if I don't, then others who know me won't either. ~ Thank you again, and CONGRATULATIONS on your writing success. Blessings from Georgia, Patti Jo

  65. I do write a lot. I know this.

    Getting it polished and shiny is another story all together. [ha! Get it!]

    I really do need more discipline in my life - not just my writing life, but in lots of areas - Bible studies, house cleaning, laundry, editing, writing, exercise, eating, etc. I'm working on it ;).

  66. i missed Helen's she okay? i'm looking forward to A Bride for All Seasons. i'm going to need to get it for Mom. Thanks for a great post, Margaret, and welcome to Seekerville. i am a reader, but also trying to get those reviews up in a timely manner

  67. Late to comment but have to say this is a fantastic post! What a great thought about even a page a day (of writing) will equal a book in a year. And you know how sometimes several things happen in a short span of time and all seem to point to the same thing? That's how I feel about your statement:

    "All that time spent on blogging and Facebook will not advance a writing career, no matter what you might have heard. You’d be amazed at how many N.Y. Times bestselling authors do not have a FB page. If you want to blog, Twitter or post on Facebook, fine; just don’t call it writing time."

    Thank you!
    Nancy C

  68. I should write up more reviews. A goal for 2013 perhaps.

  69. My goal is to submit my manuscript to agents this year and hopefully attain one :)

    Love the cover of your book.


  70. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for your wise words - down-to-earth words.
    I appreciate that. Mine for the new year is POSITIVE.
    The other day I visited a local writers' group, introduced myself w/all the others, and realized later I didn't even tell them my nonfiction book is coming out this summer . . . I only told them my fiction hadn't found a niche yet.

    Hello? I'm determined to be more positive, ignore the doubt mice nibbling on the edge of my sanity.

    And I must add, I started reading your grief book yesterday....ta da!!

    Take care,

    Gail Kittleson

  71. This sounds like a wonderful book. Thanks for having the giveaway.


  72. Inspiring info. Thank you for the words and the contest. NYR: to be more committed to writing.