Thursday, January 7, 2010

I AM Worth It!

Today I welcome Thomas Nelson debut author Margaret Brownley as my guest. Margaret's first release in the Rocky Creek Series, A Lady Like Sarah, came out in December. Margaret has been one of my online mentors for several years and I admire her as a person as much as I enjoy her as an author. Welcome Margaret!

The decision to write my first novel couldn’t have come at a worse time. Between my job, and running a household that included my husband and three active children, I didn’t have a moment to spare, let alone a moment to myself. Yet, I could no longer ignore the dream that had festered inside me for as long as I could remember.

I finally came up with a solution that allowed me to write without taking time away from my family; I’d simply get up two hours earlier. With grim determination, I forced myself out of bed each morning at four and wrote till six when it was time to wake the family. It wasn’t easy and, at times, it was pure torture.

I can’t remember how many years I did this, but I managed to write four books during those predawn hours. On the few occasions I would sneak away during the weekend or evening to jot down a note or commune with my characters, I was overcome with guilt. It’s easy to justify time spent away from the family when you’re making money, but all I had to show for my efforts was a stack of rejections.

Discouraged, I was on the verge of quitting my writing when something unexpected happened. My seventeen-year-old daughter won a scholarship to a Cordon Bleu cooking school in England. During an interview for a local newspaper, she was asked what she attributed most to her success.

Ah, this was the moment every parent waited for; the moment when your child looks at you with adoring eyes and acknowledges all the sacrifices you made through the years.

I’m still waiting for that moment because my daughter said none of the things I thought she would say. Instead, she explained how every morning she woke to find her mother working on her novel. From this she learned that if you wanted something bad enough, you had to work for it day after day, week after week, and never let anything stand in the way.

Okay, so she didn’t mention the birthday parties, the homemade Halloween costumes, the hours I spent explaining fractions, baking cookies, chauffeuring and rooting for her baseball team. What she did say, however, was far more meaningful. For she made me realize that by taking the time to follow my own dreams, I showed her how to follow her own.

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 now has more than 20 novels to her credit. In addition, she's written many Christian articles and a non-fiction book. Still, it took a long time before Margaret tried her hand at writing inspirational fiction which led to her Rocky Creek series.

"I love writing about characters at different stages of faith," she says of the new direction her writing career has taken, "and I'm here to stay."

Happily married to her real life hero, Margaret and her husband live in Southern California.

A Lady Like Sarah

She’s an outlaw: he’s a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle.

Preacher JUSTIN WELLS leaves Boston in disgrace, heading out alone on the dusty trail to Texas. But when the once-respected clergyman encounters a feisty redhead in handcuffs with a dying U.S. Marshal at her side, his journey takes a dramatic turn. When he promises the injured lawman to take his prisoner to Texas, Justin has no idea the trouble that lies ahead. The slightly-built prisoner turns out to be SARAH PRESCOTT—sister of the notorious Prescott brothers—and she’s determined to miss the hanging party waiting for her in Texas.

But escaping proves to be tougher than she thought. Justin doesn’t own a gun and hasn’t the foggiest idea how to survive the wilderness. How can she leave him alone with the injured marshal?

Nothing is more sacred to Justin than a promise made to a dying man, but how can he turn the blue-eyed beauty over to the hangmen? She’s tough as leather, but there’s something about her that is pure and good.

Justin can’t bear to lose her, but how can a simple preacher fight an entire town? And how can either one of them know that miracles come in many guises—including love?


  1. I liked your post! This book looks great too.

  2. Ooo. I'm intrigued by the novel description. I'm inspired by a mother who got up early to work on her passion.

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, Margaret. I admire anyone who can drag themselves out of bed at 4:00 AM. I'm not that dedicated. But I do try to take my writing seriously. I hope it will pay off one day, not just with a book contract but in the example for my kids. What a great tribute to you!

  4. The Inkies have been talking among themselves this week about goals and what's realistic and how to juggle them with our other responsibilities.

    A very timely post, Margaret.
    By the way, we love Wenda, but do you have any tales to tell on her?

    Congratulations on A Lady like Sarah! What year is it set in?
    thanks, Debra

  5. Thanks so much, Margaret. This confirms something that I've always believed, that fulfilling our own destinies is the best way to teach our children to fulfill theirs.

    I only have one daughter, but I don't want to accidently teach her to put everyone else first at the expense of herself and God's plans for her life. I try to teach each of my children to follow His guidance day by day.

    I really enjoyed the part in your bio about the church newsletter too. What a riot! Thanks for visiting.


  6. Howdy Lisa,
    I'm a big believer that every dream can come true if you want it bad enough and are willing to go after it tooth and nail.

    Keep writing!


  7. Hi Debra,

    Wenda's been an email friend for a couple of years. I met her for the first time in person at the ACFW conference in Denver (after a wild two day search) and she is every bit as lovely and delightful as I imagined her to be.

  8. Hi Dina,

    You're so on the right track with your daughter. I don't think mothers stop to think what their self-sacrificing teaches their daughters(and sons!). When I was teaching creative writing my class met on Wednesday nights. Every year, on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, the women stayed home to prepare dinner but the men all attended class. We can all learn a lesson from our male friends: Never let your writing dreams play second-fiddle to a turkey.

  9. I LOVE that turkey line. I'm going to memorize it!!!

  10. Hi everyone and welcome Margaret!

    I'm so thrilled to have you here and echo the comments by posters about your post.

    Didn't we have a discussion once, Margaret, about virtue and vice? Or maybe it was Donald Maas who said in fiction the best way to layer our characters is to give them a virtue that taken to the extreme becomes a vice.

    I think we can do that will putting EVERYTHING ahead of, as Dina says so well, God's destiny for our lives.

    Oh, and I forgot to add to the bottom of the post, if you leave us your email addy in unspam format: email (at) domain (dot)com we'll draw for a signed copy of Margaret's book, A Lady like Sarah!

  11. Hi Margaret,
    Thanks so much for being our guest today. You've written a lot of novels in the early morning hours. In keeping with our theme of Taking Care of You this week, can you share how you stay healthy while writing? Sleep, fitness, etc. Did you make any resolutions or set any specific goals for 2010?

  12. It's amazing how the appreciative things your adult children say to you can make all those years of struggle worth it.

    The hardest task is to be a servant but not a doormat - especially for women. It's an important role to model for our children.

    Margaret, I met Wenda in Denver too, and also met you --in the food line, I think! What a wonderful time it was.

  13. Okay, Margaret, after your return comment I have to share something very funny.

    My twelve-year-old son loves to be served. I do it sometimes because I know it's important to him, but just as often he'll get the old, "What's wrong? Are your fingers broken? Did you forget how to use the microwave?"

    So now he always jokes around and says he plans to marry a tiny Asian lady who loves to cook and clean.

    Hmm, what kind of lesson am I teaching him ;)

  14. Debra,
    I don't know what this says about me, but it seems like I've met a majority of my friends in a food line.

  15. mary(dot)aalgaard(at)yahoo(dot)com


  16. Hi Jill,
    Good question. Taking care of one's health goes side by side with following your dreams.

    It took me so long to get published, I figured early in the game I better live to 150. That meant buckling down and getting serious about exercise. I'm on the treadmill 5 days a week. If that doesn't get me to 150 I don't know what will.

  17. Good morning! It's wonderful to have you here, Margaret! Thanks for your encouraging post. Your new book sounds wonderful, and I'm going to have to go get it. I'm captivated by the blurb (and I'm paying attention to it! Blurb writing is so hard for me...).

    I appreciate your commitment to your family, as well as your dedication to your craft. It blessed me to learn your story of hard-work, rejection, and a bountiful harvest at reaping time. Thank you.

    I hope my kids are learning a few things as they watch me go through this journey. I've been upfront with them when I receive good feedback or a rejection, and while those things make me feel excited or sad, I know it's all in God's hands and will turn out ok. I hope that they're learning that God's love is constant through the ups and downs of our lives, and that working for our dreams isn't an easy thing sometimes.

  18. Hi Dina,
    I hate to burst a hole in your son's dream but I know someone married to an Asian woman and she ain't waiting on no one. She's too busy following her dreams.

  19. Oh Margaret,
    You're good! Five days a week. Okay. I'll take a good book to the gym at work and ride the bike. I know if I don't schedule this and actually write it in my planner something else will sneak in and gobble that time period up.

    How long did it take you to get published and what surprised you about how it all came about?

  20. Jill,
    I can't remember exactly how long it took me to publish my first book, but I'm sure it was at least7-8 years. Maybe more. The resources available today weren't available when I was first starting out. I never even heard of RWA or any of the other writing groups. Then, too, I was working full time and raising a family.

    I also had some bad luck along the way. The first couple of books I sold never saw the light of day. The publishers or lines went out of business before my books were published. Things were so bad that when I finally landed a contract with Harlequin, my writer friends begged me to decline. They feared I would close Harlequin's door, too.

  21. Isn't that how it seems sometimes, that not only will we never succeed, but that the gods are out to get us if we get close.

    That's where Joyce Meyer's Battlefield of the Mind comes in!

    I do admire your perseverence and your great sense of humor in every situation.

    Along with your other advice, any secrets of smiling through setbacks?

  22. Thank you, Margaret,
    I'm still not published and I've been a member of RWA since my first child was born 20 years ago. I admit though that I spent more time raising my little ones those first 10 years and learning the craft, but there wasn't much writing going on. Now that the kids are 20 and 17 I hope I can produce more.
    I would have been heartbroken if I'd sold and then the lines closed. I'm sure you were but ya gotta laugh at your friends reactions when you sold to Harlequin.
    Do you outline? Do you enjoy it if you do? I'm trying to discipline myself to outline which I never used to do, but then it takes me multiple revisions to get the story where I like it.

  23. Jill,
    Do I outline? No! I find outlines restricting. Multiple revisions? You bet! But I love the process of discovery and it doesn't bother me. I can hardly wait to get to the computer each morning to find out what's going to happen next.

    Whether you outline or not, the most important thing is to do what works for you.

  24. Margaret,
    If you do multiple revisions, how long does it take you to write a historical for your publisher? I know that the publishing business is notoriously slow, but it seems that publishers want you to write books fast. How do you decide how much time you need to complete your books?
    Were all your books written for The Rocky Creek Series before you sold the series?

  25. Hi Margaret. I'm so glad you joined us today. So sorry I couldn't comment sooner. I've been working all day and I live on the west coast. I really enjoyed reading about how your daughter was inspired by you following your dream.

    Welcome back to western historicals, and welcome to inspirational fiction. I highly recommend A Lady Like Sarah to all who are reading the comments, and I hope to have my review posted on my personal blog tonight or tomorrow. (check blog listing in the right column)

  26. Margaret, welcome to our Inkwell! Your book sounds AMAZING, as is your story!!!!!


  27. Jill,

    Everyone writes at a different speed. I need 6 months to write a historical. Any longer than that and I tend to overwrite. I can't write a synopsis without first writing a first draft. For that reason, I had to write the first draft of book one. I submitted only blurbs on the other 2 books. But again, everyone writes at a different speed and in a different way.

  28. Suzie,

    Bless you. I look forward to reading your review.

  29. Wenda asked if I had any advice for smiling through adversity. If you see me smiling when things go wrong, it's usually because I'm thinking about how best to use it in a book.

    This reminds me of the time my husband and I traveled to Paris. On a beautiful moon-lit night we decided to take a boat ride along the Seine.

    As our boat came out from under a bridge a group of hooligans dumped barrels of oil on our boat. What a mess! Our clothes--everything--were ruined. 50 some vacationers yelled (cursed) in as many different languages and we all ended at the police department at midnight to file our complaints.

    Though I was covered in oil from head to toe, I was delighted. What better place for a writer than a Paris police station in the middle of the night with an angry mob who all looked like swamp monsters? My husband had to tell me to stop smiling. He feared others would think I planned the attack.


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