Dawn Comes Early, Brides of Last Chance Ranch Series #1Dawn Comes Early, Brides of Last Chance Ranch Series #1
Margaret Brownley
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Disgraced dime novelist Kate Tenney fled the city that banned her latest novel for the emptiness of the desert. Answering an ad to be "heiress" to a vast cattle ranch in the Arizona Territory, Kate hopes ranching turns out to be as romantic as she portrayed it in her novels. But what awaits her is a life harder than the one she just left. There is no room for mistakes on a working cattle ranch, and Kate is ill-prepared for her new life. She quickly learns that dawn comes early. But she is tenacious.

Having been abandoned by a string of men, Kate has no intention of ever marrying. But she didn't expect to meet Luke Adams, either. Luke awakens feelings inside Kate she doesn't recognize, and his steady presence is a constant distraction. She has only written about love in the past, never known it herself. But her feelings for Luke stand in the way of all she has to gain if she is chosen as the heir. Perhaps God brought Kate to the barrenness of the desert to give new life to her jaded heart.
     


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Margaret BrownleyMargaret Brownley has penned more than twenty historical and contemporary novels. Her books have won numerous awards including the Reader's Choice. Though successful, she decided to leave behind the secular publishing world to follow God's will for her: to write inspirational fiction. Happily married to her real life hero, Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.

Favorite Verse: Mark 10:27 All things are possible with God.


 

 Our Interview with Margaret Brownley


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

First, thank you for inviting me to visit with your readers.
As for me, I was always a storyteller and constantly in trouble as a child for making up stories. The writer part was harder to acknowledge, partly because English was my least favorite subject.  My eighth grade teacher told me not to even think about being a writer. Diagram a sentence?  Never!  I’m like the musician who can’t read music.

I might have spent the rest of my life scribbling in notebooks and writing amusing notes to my kids’ teachers had I not “volunteered” to edit my church newsletter. After I made the church picnic read like a Grisham novel, my former preacher took me aside and said, “Maybe God’s calling you to write fiction.”  Until that moment I never had the courage to follow my heart. 

On the personal side: My husband and I have three children.  As for hobbies, I like to herd cattle, chase down bad guys, and rob stages.  Wait at minute. That’s not me; that’s my characters!
 
What is your favorite Bible verse (translation please)?  Why?

My favorite Bible verse is a simple but encouraging one that has seen me through some tough and challenging times:  All things are possible with God—Mark 10:27 NIV

That’s an interesting title; is there a special meaning behind the title?

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 God offers an eternal dawn it takes her a very long time to follow the beam and let the “Morning Star’ enter her heart.   

What inspired the concept for the Brides of Last Chance Ranch Series?

Each heroine in the series has an opportunity to inherit the Last Chance cattle ranch. However, she must first sign a contract forbidding her to marry. Ranch owner Eleanor Walker has her reasons for making such a demand—and each heroine has her own reasons for agreeing to it.  Of course this leads to all kinds of complications…
 
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.  Thirty years later all but fifteen of the original had married. I was never able to find out who won the prize but I was so intrigued with the concept I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

How did you choose the setting?

Arizona Territory was a pretty interesting place and it offered a lot of challenges for the ranch owner—and for Kate. In the Bible God used the desert to test Moses.  Kate doesn’t know it but God is using the desert to test her.

Is any part of Dawn Comes Early factual?

History was always a challenge for me in school—all those dates and battles.  I think it was taught from a male point-of-view.  History can and should be fun. Too much can bog down a novel. I sprinkle little historical facts throughout the book like a chef seasoning a dish.

How long did Dawn Comes Early take you to complete?

I thought about the Spinster Club for three months and wrote the book in six.

 

Do you have a favorite character in Dawn Comes Early? Why?

I really identify with Kate Tenney because she’s a writer and her vivid imagination never fails to make a bad situation worse.  Ask my husband and he’ll tell you that’s me to a T.

Luke Adams is a favorite hero of mine.  He has little formal schooling so he’s put off at first by Kate’s college education and “twenty dollar words,”  but he’s wise and knowledgeable and a man of great faith.
 
I’m also fond of the ranch owner Eleanor Walker. She’s one tough lady but, as we gradually come to learn, her hard-as-nails exterior hides a soft heart.

How much research did Dawn Comes Early take?

It took quite a bit of research because I knew nothing about running a cattle ranch back in the 1800s.  Since Kate is a writer I also read several dime novels.  My hero is a smithy so I had to visit a blacksmith shop and I practically memorized the Boston map of 1895.
   
What was the most interesting tidbit that you learned while writing Dawn Comes Early?

Most interesting?  Bovines are the only animals that pee backwards.

How many books will be in the Brides of Last Chance Ranch Series?

There will be three books in the series.  I’m currently working on book two.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
In my other life I was a teacher.  At a teacher’s workshop I attended years ago the instructor asked the following life-changing question: At the end of your career which statement will be most accurate?

That you taught for 35 years?  Or that you taught one year 35 times?

I use that same philosophy in my writing career.  I don’t want to write the same book 35 or 40 times.  So the most difficult challenge for me is to stay fresh and original.
 
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love hearing from readers. Recently I receive an email from a reader who picked up my book after a tough and discouraging week. She said my book made her laugh.  Knowing I added a little sunshine to someone’s day is what I most enjoy.

What writing clubs or organizations do you belong to?

I belong to Romance Writers of American and American Christian Fiction Writers.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved Little Women and pretended I was Jo, the writer.  For some reason The Little Engine that Could stands out and I remember being fascinated with Fernand The Bull.  

What is your writing style?   (Do you outline?  Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants?   Or somewhere in between?)

Plan a book?  I don’t even plan dinner. Give me a setup or opening scene and I’m off and running.  This method fills my life with surprises—never more so than at dinner time.
   
Do your characters begin to take on a life of their own as you write?

They really do—some more than others.  Some even wake me up at night.  Now that’s annoying.

What other new projects do you have on the horizon?
 
Right not I’m working on book 2 and 3 in the Last Chance series.  Though I’m predominantly a fiction writer my non-fiction book Grieving God’s Way: the Path to Hope and Healing will be published July 2012.
 
Who was the person who influenced you the most with your writing?

 

The best writing teacher I ever had was D.C Fontana.  You might not know her name but you know her work. She created the Spock character for the TV series Star Trek.  She taught me everything I know about creating story.  Shortly after taking her class I sold my first book.

What message would you like your readers to take from Dawn Comes Early?

Kate’s past keeps her from realizing God’s plan for her. We all hold on to unpleasant memories and hurts to a certain extent. Sometimes we do this unconsciously by calling ourselves survivors.  Those who survive adversity through God’s love are described in the Bible as “More than conquerors.”   What a difference a word makes!  Surviving adversity isn’t enough; we have to conquer it. That’s what I hope readers will take away from this story.
    
What is your greatest achievement?

Raising my children to walk in God’s path.

What is your goal or mission as a writer?

My main goal is to carry the reader away with an entertaining story that touches the emotions.
 
What do you do to get away from it all?

My husband and I  like to travel in our RV.  It’s a sad month that we don’t get away at least once.
 
Is there anything you’d like to add?

Readers can email me through my website: www.margaretbrownley.com .  I’m also on Facebook and Twitter. 

Thank you for sharing your time with me today.  God bless!


 

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