I’d like to welcome our guest today, Margaret Brownley. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.
I understand you have a new release out called Dawn Comes Early. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous news?
First I want to thank you for inviting me here today. I never say no to chocolates or giving out advice! As far as my news:“Dawn Comes Early” is the first book in my Brides of Last Chance Ranch series. It takes place in Arizona Territory in 1896 and I am very excited about it. The heroine is a disgraced dime novelist who answers an advertisement to inherit a cattle ranch. You won’t believe what happens next…
Dawn Comes Early is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
The title was inspired by 2 Peter 1:19 NIV “…for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place--until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.”
Kate Tenney is in a dark place and though dawn comes early she doesn’t see the Morning Star for quite some time.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I’ve always loved reading about the old west. That was when men were men and women were women, but a cowboy wasn’t a cowboy unless he was wild, woolly and full of fleas. Of course my cowboy heroes are more likely to be tall, dark and handsome, but you know what I mean.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
The idea was inspired by a group of fifty ladies of the First Church of Millford who formed a society of old maids in 1861. Each member vowed she would not marry. Each woman paid five dollars on admission with the principal going to the one who remained unmarried the longest. According to an article in The New York Times thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize—and being a romantic I sincerely hope that no one did—but where real life stops imagination takes off.
What are your favorite historical research books and why?
I love reading old diaries, preferable unedited ones with all the glorious misspellings. The book I reach for most often is English Through the Ages, which keeps me from using a word before its time. I recently wanted to use the word hightail only to discover that it wasn’t in use until 1900.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
I really liked writing Kate and Luke. They make an interesting couple; she’s a college educated woman and he’s “just a blacksmith.” He doesn’t know what she’s talking about half the time. He does, however, learn to read her heart and in the end that’s really all that matters.
I also had a lot of fun with some of the minor characters like Aunt Bessie. After reading Kate’s banned dime novel she decides to put some passion back into her marriage with disastrous results.
Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?
I’m a pantser which means I write by the seat of mine. To me a character’s all about voice. I have to hear them in my head. When characters start waking me to talk then I know we’re set to go.
I usually start by having each character say a simple prayer. This helps me get a handle on the character and what’s going on in his or her life. In Dawn Comes Early one of the cowhands prayed: “God, the father, thank you for your many blessings and don’t forgit to send rain. And if you ain’t sendin’ rain to us, don’t go sendin’ it to no other ranches, neither.” Boy, did that ever tell me a lot about him and the ranch.
What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?
Cowboy lingo is so colorful and fun. How can we not love it? Can you think of more mouth-pleasing words than hornswoggle, caboodle or skedaddle? Or what about fiddlefooted, ranktankerous, rumbumptious or splendiferous? A latte may be the haute cuisine of coffee, but give me an Arbuckle’s any day. The one drawback of formal education is that today we all sound alike.
Do you have any authors who inspired you?
As a girl I read everything Louisa May Alcott wrote. I was convinced she based Jo in Little Women on me.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
The most effective promotion is word of mouth, which today means having readers mention your book on Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and the like. The only way I know to get word of mouth is to write a good book.
What do we have to look forward next?
The second book in the series Waiting for Morning will be published January, 2013. I also have a non-fiction book (my first) coming out. Grieving God’s Way: the Path to Hope and Healing will be available from Thomas Nelson in July. I wrote this book following the loss of our son and it’s very close to my heart.
Thank you for having me!
To celebrate her book release, Margaret Brownley is offering a free book of Dawn Comes Early to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see if you won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)
More Love and Laughter from N.Y. Times Bestselling Author
“Daily Reasons to Smile” Contest
“I’ve matched up twenty-three couples over the years and in all that time I only made one error. Although I still think the marriage would have worked had she not shot her husband.”—Aunt Bessie in Dawn Comes Early (Brides of Last Chance Ranch)
Characters from Margaret’s new book will send you a reason to smile every day until April 11th. Join in the fun and you could win a book, potted cactus (the story takes place in Arizona Territory) or an iPod Nano and alarm clock docking station. To enter send an email to info@NancyBerland.com. Be sure to put “Reason to Smile” in the subject line. That’s it!
She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
Thrills, mystery, suspense, romance: Margaret penned it all. Nothing wrong with this—except Margaret happened to be writing for the church newsletter. After making the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, her former pastor took her aside and said, "Maybe God's calling you to write fiction."
So that’s what Margaret did. She’s now a New York Times bestselling author and a Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 25 novels to her credit—not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
Check out author’s website at www.margaretbrownley.com