Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Margaret Brownley's "A Lady Like Sarah"

We're happy to have Margaret Brownley with us. Read on to learn more about Margaret and her book...

1) How did this story come to you? The story 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 Sarah popped up on the page and demanded in no uncertain terms that I tell her story.

So I had my outlaw. Now all I needed was the hero. That turned out to be disgraced preacher Justin Wells who finds Sarah handcuffed to a dying marshal on the dusty trail to Texas.

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I entered the book in a bunch of contests at first to get reader feed-back. It won the contests but judges were adamant that I’d have to tone down the heroine if I ever hoped to see the book published. One day, I sat down at my computer to follow that advice, but I felt like I was losing her, losing the person she was meant to be. So I put her back as she was and was determined to keep her that way even if it meant the book would never see the light of day. Fortunately, my agent liked the book the way it was written and she landed me a three book contract. Sometimes, you just have to go with your instincts.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
• I pretty much failed English in school (still can’t diagram a sentence).
• Ditto history (Who can remember all those dates and battles?)
• A historical writer who failed English and history in school isn’t surprising enough?

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
I just finished book 2 of my Rocky Creek series, A Suitor for Jenny. I’m currently working on book 3. I haven’t had time to think about what’s next.

5) Parting comments?
Thank you for having me on your blog—and thank you all for visiting. Have a great 2010!

6) Where can fans find you on the internet? You can visit me at www.margaretbrownley.com. I’m also a regular blogger on www.petticoatsandpistols.com

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Michelle Sutton's "It's Not About Me" Review

"It's Not About Me" by Michelle Sutton

I'm a big fan of Michelle Sutton's "Danger at the Door" and decided to give "It's Not About Me" a try. I'm glad I did. This has been marketed as a young adult book, but it's an excellent read for adults as her characters are heading into college. Trust me, you won't even recognize that you're reading a young adult book.

Michelle does such an excellent job of showing the tension between couples that you feel like you're there with them, rooting for the best man to win (that's all I'll say as I don't want to give away her plot). There are some surprising twists in this book that will keep you reading as you wonder what's going to happen next. I stayed up past my bed time last night because I just HAD to finish it.

True to her reputation, Michelle tackles some real life topics in this book that other authors may shy away from, making the book even more believable. Michelle also has a knack for writing romance scenes. My step-daughter says that Michelle's romance scenes leave her breathless. I agree.

Annie has it all. She's attractive, graduated with honors, was accepted at the college of her choice, has supportive parents, good friends, and a steady boyfriend who loves her. One night when an unexpected visitor appears, Annie's safe world is destroyed. As she tries to recover the pieces of her broken life, a war ensues between two brothers who both claim to have her best interests at heart. But who will Annie choose? Or will she decide to turn her life in a different direction?

Farewell 2009

Farewell to 2009!
The beach is my favorite place on earth and I was lucky enough to visit two times in 2009. I usually make reservations at least a month in advance and count down the days until the trip. Once vacation is over, I leave with mixed emotions. I'm happy to be returning home to family, friends, and pets, but it's hard to leave the ocean. After numerous trips there with my husband over the last 14 years, it's kind of become "our" place. It's a magical place I'd like to live one day.
I approach saying farewell to 2009 in like manner. It was a good year. I spent a lot of time studying the craft of writing and reading. I finished writing three novels (a miracle in itself when you consider that I have a full-time job outside of writing. Maybe I'll blog one day about how I manage to get so much done). Two of my books will be published next year through Desert Breeze Publishing, a WWII romantic suspense in April and a romantic suspense in August, both in the inspirational category. That said, 2009 holds a special place in my heart just like the ocean. However, it's okay to leave it because I can't wait to see what happens next.

Goals for 2010?

Some of you e-mailed and asked me how I was able to get so much done in 2009 and what my goals are for 2010. This blog's for you! Goal setting with the help of a calendar is the master tool in my took kit. Goal setting comes naturally for me because I'm a planner. I start each novel by plotting. I'll choose one of the stories that's been rolling around in my head and pull out a stack of index cards. Each main character has a card on which I list their GMC (Goal, Motivation, Conflict...I bought a great book on this at http://www.debradixon.com/gmc.html or you can search the internet for more information.) Also, I'll have a card labeled "scenes" where I'll make notes about the main scenes in the book. I carry these cards everywhere because they're small and handy.

Once I have an idea of where my plot is headed, I begin to visualize the completed project. I always shoot for 60,000words when I begin a new book. I pull out a calendar and choose a start date and an end date. I'll then calculate how many words I need to write each day and I'll note on the calendar what my total word count should be at the end of each day. It's a great motivational tool because it encourages me to stay on track or to catch up if I fall behind. If you write 2,000 words per day, at the end of the month, you'll have a complete first draft. Once I've finished this draft, I'll shelve it and take some time off, maybe do a little plotting on the next one. I like to wait at least a month before editing because that allows me to distance myself from the story and makes it easier to catch errors or plot weaknesses.

Also, I write something every day. At one time, I wouldn't even start to write unless I knew I had at least an hour of free time. I've changed my attack plan and now write even if I have only a few minutes. You won't believe how much you can get done in just fifteen minutes. Take those fifteen minute blocks and spread them across the day and you'll write more than you could ever imagine.

Now you have all my secrets. On to my goals. In 2010, I will have two books released from Desert Breeze Publishing in ebook format. My goals are to finish final the edits on these when they come back from my editor. Also, I'd like nab an agent, and hopefully sign a contract for a print book. And of course, write something every day with a goal to finish three novels this year. Good luck with your writing goals!