Monday, October 12, 2009

Introducing Author Margaret Brownley

This morning it is my pleasure to host Margaret Brownley on my blog. Margaret's newest book, A LADY LIKE SARAH, is coming out in December 2009. She's a dear friend, an inspiration, and a wealth of information. Comments and questions are welcomed.


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?


It’s been said that knowledge is power, but sometimes ignorance can be a writer’s best friend. For example, I didn’t realize until after selling a story to Proctor & Gamble that “everybody knows” it’s near impossible for freelancers to sell to daytime soaps.

It all started with the Romance Writers of America conference which my dear friend Lee Duran and I planned to attend. Since we were both fans of As The World Turns, we figured it would be fun to visit the set while we were in New York.

Our husbands laughed. Our children laughed. Everyone laughed. Undaunted, I called CBS and told them that two romance writers who were lifelong fans of ATWT were going to be in NY and wanted to visit the set. The switchboard operator didn’t laugh. I took this as a good sign.

Two days later, I got a call from an ATWT producer and we were in.

As we left the hotel for the studio we bumped into our agent and, without thinking, I invited her to join us. While Lee and I toured the set and acted like crazy fans (yep, we met all the stars who are much cuter in real life than on TV), our agent was busy making nice with producers and collecting business cards.

Shortly after the conference, Lee and I came up with a good soapy story idea and decided to pitch it to ATWT. Fagettabout it, everybody said. Crazy idea. Impervious to good advice, we plowed ahead and, for once, luck was on our side. My agent contacted one of the producers who agreed to hear our pitch. A date was set for a conference call. Since Lee lived in Colorado and I lived in California, we decided to get together to work on our story. With this in mind, we did what any self-respecting soon-to-be soap writers would do; we booked passages on a cruise ship to Mexico dragging our husbands along, poor things.

Every morning without fail, we sacrificed ourselves by sitting in Lee’s cabin and working on our story for four solid hours while our husbands lounged on deck, waited on hand and foot.

Then came P day—the great PITCH--and we were ready. Early that morning Lee and I spoke on the phone and rehearsed our parts. We decided we would take turns reading alternating paragraphs of our synopsis. We even added some tag lines like “Here’s the Friday cliffhanger” and “This is what happens during Sweeps week.” We figured that would prove we knew what we were doing.

We calmly hung up and waited for our respective phones to ring. That’s when panic set in. I called Lee and screamed “I can’t do this.”

She screamed back. We were a mess but somehow managed to calm each other down.
Then came the CALL. The producer was very nice and told us to relax. He sounded like my gynecologist which did nothing for my nerves.

For one whole torturous hour, we pitched our story. We didn't know you were supposed to pitch a story in 3 minutes or less. “Friday cliffhanger,“ I yelled into the phone. “Sweeps Week,” Lee yelled back.

We were glorious. We did everything but stand on our heads. During the entire time we rambled on, we never heard a peep from the producer. Nada. My mind imagined the worse. I was convinced he’d either hung up or had fallen to the floor, probably dead.

When we finished, there was stone silence. Finally, the producer cleared his throat and said, “I never heard a pitch like that.” I was pretty sure he didn’t mean it as a compliment. He sounded shell-shocked

Although he was very nice, he rejected our story and that was that. We were disappointed, of course, but at least we got a cruise out of the deal. That’s way more than you get from most rejections.

Then an idea occurred to me. Lee and I both had a book coming out and I decided that a little bit of publicity wouldn’t hurt. I wrote up a press release that basically said two romance writers were this close to selling to their favorite soap. Apparently, no one had ever seen a press release on a rejection so it was picked up everywhere. I hadn’t just made lemonade out of lemons, I created a whole media blitz.

Then much to our surprise, the producer called to say that he changed his mind. He decided to purchase our story, after all. Naturally we were ecstatic. Now we could legitimately say that watching soaps was work. Of course, now I had the embarrassment of having to retract my press release, which we titled When Is A Rejection Not A Rejection?

Our soap writing days were short lived. Now that we know the rules, our chances of selling another story to the soaps really is near impossible. You can only plead ignorance once and Lee and I are already way past our quota. On the other hand, if one of us gets another “good idea” …

Margaret Brownley has published more than 20 novels and has written for Harlequin, St.Martin’s Press and Penguin. She is currently writing historical novels for Thomas Nelson. Her next book, A Lady Like Sarah will be in bookstores December 2009, followed by A Suitor For Jenny June 2010.

Visit Margaret’s
For laughs you won’t want to miss A Lady Like Sarah Presents Stagecoach Etiquette:

Lee Duran has published more than 30 books writing both as Ruth Jean Dale and Lee Duran. A former newspaper reporter, she has written for Harlequin, St. Martin’s Press and Time Warner. She is currently working on a new historical series.


Lee said...

Great post, sounds like they had so much fun. A lady like Sarah sounds like a fun read, will have to keep it in mind.

Susan Gee Heino said...

I love the soap opera story! So good to know sometimes ignorance and sheer determination are rewarded. LOL

I also love Westerns and A Lady Like Sarah sounds great. You've totally switched around the "damsel in distress" scenario, haven't you? Sounds really fun.

Susan Gee Heio

Kristine Pratt said...

I'll have to admit that ignorance worked in my favor as well with my first sale to ANY publication...which turned out to be Woman's World magazine. Now how was I supposed to know that this is one of the biggest markets out there?

Delightful story! Thanks for sharing!

Missy Tippens said...

What a great story!! Congrats on making that cool sale. And on all your other writing successes!

Can I ask what story line it was on ATWT? That's one I watch when I can! :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

this is a great story! such an interested behind-the-scenes look at what goes into daytime "stories," as i like to call them. :)

The Character Therapist

Margaret Brownley said...

Ha, ha, I knew someone would ask which story. I stopped giving out that information after being attacked by a fan who didn't like the way the story worked out. I found out the hard way that fans can get pretty violent. I'll give you a clue: it had to do with Hal and his daughter Nicki.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any books on tape? Or will this book be coming out on tape?

Margaret Brownley said...

I have had books on tape in the past. I'm not sure if this one will come on tape or not. Iknow it's available through the Doubleday bookclub in large print. That's a question I'll have to ask my editor. I'll email her now.


Anonymous said...

Are any of your Charactors based on real people? Family members or Friends?

Anonymous said...

How many books are in the series? And When do they come out? Is Sarah in all of them?

Anonymous said...

How long does it take to write this long of a book? and how much research goes into writing a western?

I Love the name "A lady like Sarah" how did you come up with it?

Cara Putman said...

What a delightful story! I love it. Congrats, gals!

Margaret Brownley said...

I took off to watch my soap and come back to all these questions.
Do I base my characters on family members or friends? I'll never tell! However, I do have a warning sign in my living room that reads:careful or you'll end up in my novel.

How long does it take to research and write a western novel? It takes me about 6 months. It would probably take less time if I didn't have to stop to check galleys on the previous book. Promotion stuff and what I call the business of writing takes up an enormous amount of time. I do a lot of research of the times. I also read old newspapers--a great source for language and social concerns.

It's a 3 book series under the Rocky Creek Romance banner. Sarah is in all 3 books but she plays only a minor role in book 2 and 3. I can't claim credit for the title. That was my publisher's idea.

Hope this answers all the questions.

Christy LaShea said...

This sounds like a great book!

Love the soap opera story, too. I watched ATWT at one time. Gotta love them!

Saralee said...

What a terrific story! I laughed out loud. "A Lady Like Sarah" sounds like tons of fun.


Carol Ann said...

Thanks so much for being on my blog, Margaret.

And thanks to all the readers for their comments/questions.