Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A BRIDE FOR ALL SEASONS - Margaret Brownley, Debra Cllopton, Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher - One Free Book on This Blog, Plus More

Readers, I'm interviewing a group of authors, who all write the kind of books I love to read. They've come together for a special novella collection. I think you'll love their writing, too. First, we have Margaret Brownley.

Welcome, Margaret. How did your story for the collection come about?
Actually, it was our agent Natasha Kern who put the four of us together. We then arranged a conference call and brainstormed. That’s when the “magic” happened!

What are you reading right now?
I’m in research mode, so I’m reading the Thrilling and Truthful History of the Pony 
Express, or Blazing the Westward Way with Other Sketches and Incidents of those   
Stirring Times (How’s that for a title?)  The book was published in 1908 by William 
Lightfoot.  This research is for a novella I’m writing for A Pioneer Christmas collection.

What other books have you had published?
I’ve published 28 books so I’ll just give you the most recent ones:
Brides of Last Chance Ranch series
Dawn Comes Early
Waiting for Morning
Gunpowder Tea (October 2013 release)

Also my Rocky Creek Series:
A Lady Like Sarah
A Suitor for Jenny
A Vision of Lucy

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Setting a collection in the same town with some of the same characters can be tricky, particularly when combining four different writing styles. In our collection, the only connecting factor is the Hitching Post Mail Order Catalogue and its matchmaking owner.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
It was truly an honor to work with such talented and professional writers—the dream team. The best part is I get to do it again. We’re working on a second collection tentatively titled Unlikely Brides.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I receive signals from some mysterious source—probably from out of space.  At least I did in A Bride for All Seasons.  Our editor pointed out that my hero had the same name as Debra’s. I changed his name, only to find out that our heroines shared the same name, too! I’ve got to stop snooping around Debra’s brain!

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
My heroine is a gambler’s daughter who sees the world in terms of luck, good or bad. Through her struggles, she eventually comes to realize that God, not luck, is at work in her life. 

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes, I am a member and the group has been a tremendous help in providing industry news, promotional opportunities, support and friendships.  I highly recommend it.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
The best advice I ever received was to give readers something to “see” in every paragraph. The black mustang lifted his tail and galloped away, hooves barely touching the ground.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Readers can also reach me through my website:

Now we have fellow Texan, Debra Clopton.

Welcome, Debra. How did your story for the collection come about?
Before I start, thanks for having me here, Lena! Honestly, I couldn’t come up with a unique enough idea and it was driving me crazy! I decided to look at popular names for women in the 1800’s. I’d already read true stories about mail-order brides and fallen in love with their determination to change their lives, many in the face of unbelievable odds. But no story had sparked my imagination. Names of my characters like most writers are many times a launching pad for me so I prayed the Lord would lead me to one. Scanning the list I saw Eldora and then further down Melvina and—don’t you just love it when that story magic happens—the second I saw those two names my tag line hit me. Melvina Eldora Smith killed three people by the age of one…That was it for me. I had my mail order bride and within a moments I had the blurb for her story written and couldn’t wait to write the story. From the moment Melvina Eldora aka Ellie stepped into my mind, I had a blast telling her story and hope readers will enjoy meeting her too.

What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading a RITA book and can’t give out the name. But the author is fantastic with word play. I love quick, witty conversations between the hero and heroine and she’s doing a great job!

What other books have you had published?
I’ve written 20 books for Love Inspired all set in my tiny, fictional Texas town of Mule Hollow. Some of those are, The Trouble with Lacy Brown, No Place Like Home, Her Forever Cowboy, Cowboy For Keeps, Her Lone Star Cowboy to name a few. In May Her Unforgettable Cowboy released—it is the first book in my new Cowboys of Sunrise Ranch series for Love Inspired. Until A Bride For All Seasons all of my books have been contemporary.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Well, for me it was learning how to do the research for a historical and getting comfortable that I could write a historical. I felt quite intimidated by Mary, Margaret, and Robin’s work but thrilled to be collaborating with them. However, once I got started and relaxed it was such a great experience. If I had any question, the gals were quick to point me in the right direction.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
I loved it. I think we’ve made a fantastic team and I couldn’t have asked for a better group to help break me into the historical market. Fun! And amazing! Yup, that’s my experience. I do believe readers will enjoy this collaboration and the also the second one we just came up with! Honestly I’ve always completely worked alone so this was my very first real experience with brainstorming an idea with others—I loved it. 

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I answered this in the first question, but sometimes it’s not as easy as looking at a list and the right name jumping out at me, waving wildly like Melvina Eldora did. I love looking at the cast and crew names at the end of movies. I’ve stolen names from friends too. Very seldom do I use their entire name but parts of them. I love names.

I do, too. Names are important. What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
My spunky, character Ellie sets out to change her life and she is determined to do it with God on her side. I love that! I hope readers realize with God by their side anything is possible.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes I am. It is a wonderful organization and I always direct writers there because of the vast knowledge and access they gain through being a member.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
To sit in the seat and write to the end! Just sit down and do it and don’t stop till you finish. I believe this is the best advice because so many people start a book, but it’s the ones who hang on till the end who have a shot.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
Please come see me at or

Debra has a very humorous writing style. So does our next author, Mary Connealy.

Welcome, Mary. Let’s do some fun questions first. What song most closely resembles your life?
Let's go with God Bless the Broken Road." Only that's about a love story, I'm thinking of the broken road I followed to be an author.
Second up, "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys." Now is that perfect for me or what? HUH?? I'll bet you thought I wouldn't have an answer for this one, didn't you, LENA!!!!!???

I had plenty of faith in you, Mary. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?
One I come back to a LOT is, Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?

It always seems to me that if we could all remember this, cling to it, CLAIM it, we would live so much differently. My soul is safe with the Lord, whom shall I fear? Such simple wisdom, and yet we all spend our lives worrying and fearful. Me included. I've used this verse either openly or for a foundation in my writing many times.

What is the one thing you wish you could go back and change in your life?
Lena for heaven's sake. Do you lay awake nights thinking up hard questions? “Let's See,” Lena says to herself, “What will make Mary ponder and fret and stew. I'VE GOT IT!!!”

Shame on you!

I like where I am now and I guess I needed to go through all I've gone through to end up here, so I'll say nothing—I'd change NOTHING. And that from a woman who spends significant time remembering monstrously stupid stuff she said and kicking herself for it. Maybe I should change to being MUTE for most of my life. I'd have less material for self-loathing.

What is the most important characteristic for a good friend to have?
Oh good grief, Lena! These questions!! (Would all readers please insert a ten minute pause while I tried to think of an answer?) I think I personally am a lousy friend. I spend a lot of time alone and preoccupied with the 1880s, so I doubt I'm available when friends need me. Plus, I have so many friends who are authors, online, that I really am not at all lonely. Add in I've got seven brothers and sister, four children, a very nice mom, a countless number of nieces and nephews and honestly, all my social time, what little there is, is booked. So ask someone else what they want in a friend. They'll probably send you a picture of ME with a red circle around my head and a slash through it.

Mary, I’m so glad you’re my friend. What extracurricular activities did you participate in when you were in school?
I was sort of a classic Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none. I was in everything and I pretty much excelled at NONE OF IT. All the sports, back then we had volleyball and track. Speech, drama, though it was just class plays not a real drama team. Future Homemakers of America, Year Book, 4-H, softball in the summer, a much less organized sport than now. Whatever they had, I joined.

No wonder I like you. We are a lot alike. I was in FHA and 4-H, I worked on the yearbook staff, and my college degree is in speech and drama. What is your favorite movie of all times?
While You Were Sleeping starring Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman. A sweet, funny little romantic comedy and every second of that movie is worth watching over and over.

That’s even one of my favorite movies. Tell us about why you wrote this book.
I have never done a Mail-Order Bride story and I’ve always wanted to. Margaret Brownley, Debra Clopton, Robin Lee Hatcher and I got the idea to team up on this book. A Mail Order Bride was suggested. It was a great chance to write a fun book that’d been in my head a long time. I jumped at it.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Chapter One
Megan McBride stood shivering outside the Tremont Hotel, buffeted by the cold November wind.

The doorman had refused to let her in. He’d told her to go around back to the servants’ entrance. No amount of protest would convince the snooty man she had any business—other than as a laborer—in their fancy hotel.

But she couldn’t very well meet her new husband and his two young laddies if she was in the back of the hotel, now could she? So here she stood waiting in the cold.

A fine coach drew her attention when it rolled to a stop. Two little ones scrambled down. The boyos were so close in size she’d have thought them twins if David’s letter hadn’t said they were four and five. Behind them emerged a finely dressed man.

He was a handsome man, and that was no blarney, but he looked gaunt for a fact. He’d spoken of pneumonia in his letter and one look convinced Megan he’d indeed been ill. His skin had an ashen color. A rancher, a man who spent time outdoors, should be tanned even in November. Clothes hung on his tall frame as if he’d lost weight—a lot of it. His hair was well-trimmed and his face clean shaven, but it looked to Megan as if all the tidying had been done lately, his face and neck looked scraped raw by a recent shave and haircut.

Sure, and it had to be David Laramie—the two lively youngsters being the best clue.

Megan walked forward to meet them. The children, one was at best an inch taller than the other, laughed and shoved each other while the man’s searching eyes rested on her and stopped. She’d described herself fairly it seemed, because he nodded a greeting from across the distance of the busy sidewalk.

“Miss McBride?” He removed his hat in a show of good manners and bad sense, since his head would now be cold.

As she opened her mouth, the smaller of the boys shouted in anger. “That’s my hat!”

The cry drew Megan’s attention in time to see the older boy reel back and fall beneath the wheels of their carriage just as it began to move.

“It’s mine now!” The younger boy waved a woolen cap at his big brother and jeered.

“Stop the horses!” Mr. Laramie dove for the child. “Ben!”

The carriage driver jerked the brake on his rig. “Whoa!”

It had just started rolling forward, now the carriage skidded and the driver fought the reins. One horse reared and jerked the carriage forward. “Whoa!”

“Zachary, I’m gonna get you!” The older brother, almost under the wheels, ignored the danger, and dodged his father.

Mr. Laramie’s big hand caught the front of the boy’s shirt and hauled him out from under the heavy carriage.

Megan saw the littler boy, Zachary, run, still laughing.

He dashed around the back of the carriage and straight into the street. Carriages, wagons, carts and riders flowed from both directions. Zachary saw the rushing traffic. The boy, four years old, cried out in fear, tried to turn back and stumbled to his knees.

A pair of dappled gray draft horses drawing a heavy stagecoach thundered toward him.

How can readers find you on the Internet? 
Petticoats and Pistols 
My Blog 
My Website 
My Newsletter
And follow me on Twitter: 

And our last author has been writing a long, long time--Robin Lee Hatcher.

Welcome, Robin. How did your story for the collection come about?
The four of us had such fun brainstorming the premise of the mail order catalog and its meddlesome manager. The idea for my novella developed slowly over time, and when I was ready to start writing it (after finishing a novel first), I knew my hero and heroine and could throw them together and watch the sparks fly.

What are you reading right now?
Novel: Just finished Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins and haven't decided what to read next
Christian Living: The Well by Mark Hall
Non-Fiction: Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

What other books have you had published?
A Bride for All Seasons is my 67th release. I've written both women's fiction and historical romance for the Christian market. My most recent novels are the three books in the Where the Heart Lives series: Belonging, Betrayal, and Beloved (coming in Sept 2013).

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
LOL! Worrying that I would be the weak link.

I know that feeling. How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Working with Margaret, Debra, and Mary has been a complete joy. And when I work with really creative people (which these ladies all are), it increases my own creativity. That's a bonus.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes a name just pops into my head and I know it’s right. When that doesn’t happen, I pull out my trusty character and baby name books and I also use the Internet to look up popular names for boys and girls in the year my characters were born. On occasion, I’ll think I've got the right name, but the character will reject it. If that happens, I just keep looking.

I had a character rename himself half-way through a book. I had a lot of things to change, because of that. What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
A warm feeling in their hearts and a smile on their lips.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes. Mostly for the networking with other writers.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
To write what I'm passionate about.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
My web site is And I love to interact with readers on my Facebook page at I can also be found on Twitter and Pinterest and Goodreads.

Four novellas, four brides, and four stories to fall in love with. 

Enter the world of mail-order brides with four of your favorite authors: Mary Connealy, Robin Lee Hatcher, Debra Clopton, and Margaret Brownley. In A Bride for All Seasons (Thomas Nelson) each of the prospective brides is hopeful for a second chance at love—and that second chance always seems to come in an unexpected package.
The authors are celebrating with a fun 12 Days of Unexpected Packages Giveaway! Between July 12-23 visit the authors’ Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on July 23rd! Such fun!

Thank you, ladies, for sharing this new book with us.

Readers, here is another link where you can buy the book from 
A Bride for All Seasons

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Tonja Saylor said...

Please enter me. I love mail order brides!! Can't wait to read this collection.

Tonja Saylor in Virginia

Anonymous said...

would love to win. Angela from KY

Elyssa said...

This looks like such a fun book! Thanks for the chance to win. I'm from NY. =)


Jenny said...

Wow, what a great giveaway! Can't wait to read this book!



Brandi Phelps said...

I love reading about mail order brides.

Brandi from Tennessee

Martha Sturm said...

Mail-order brides are one of my favorite topics. A great story about all the authors. Congratulations to them, and best wishes on their next collaboration.


Margaret Brownley said...

Hi all,
Happy to see so many mail order bride fans! It sure did take a lot of courage to travel across country to marry a stranger. I guess that's what we love about these books, right?

Good luck!

Patty said...

I am so looking forward to reading this collection. What a great group of authors!

Patty in SC

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun collection of stories by some of my favorite authors. Enjoyed reading the interviews. :)
Karen R. from Washington

Deborah D said...

I would love to read this.

Deborah D in FL.

Mary Connealy said...

Hi from Atlanta. I'm at the RWA conference right now and I just had a meeting that Robin Lee Hatcher was also at. I know Debra Clopton is around here somewhere.

Debra Clopton said...

Hi Everyone. I just got to Atlanta RWA and got booted off internet trying to post :) I'm so excited to be here in Atlanta and here on the blog with all of you. Thank you so much for stopping in. This was a fun experience for me. Loved it! I'm sending this quick before I get booted again!

Margaret Brownley said...

Boo hoo! Robin, Debra and Mary are all having a fabulous time in Atlanta and I'm stuck in California with my nose to the grindstone. Need sympathy and chocolate.

Kay from NY said...

This book sounds really great. Putting it on my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway.

Robin Lee Hatcher said...

Thanks to all. Yes, I am in Atlanta for RWA. Love getting to see Debra and Mary. Somebody send Margaret chocolate, quick. She has work to do.

Shannah McClamrock said...

I would love to be entered for this! Love these authors!

Shannah McClamrock, NC

Amy C said...

Lovely interview with four lovely ladies. I have reading fabulous reviews on this book. Can't wait to read it!
Amy C

Norma S said...

I would love to be enter in, so i can have a chance to win this great book with so many great authors! This mail order bride sounds like a great book.God bless each of you.
Norma from Ohio

Mary Preston said...

I have this collection on my reading list. Just fabulous.

Mary P


apple blossom said...

good group of authors team. thanks for chance to win a copy of this book

live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great collection.

Katie J. from FL

Bookishqueen said...

I would love to win this!
Rebekah TN

Ginger Solomon said...

I've seen this book "advertised" all over. Can't wait to read it.

Ginger in AL

Mama Cat said...

Would love to read this - awesome authors, great subject! I live in Arizona.

EJ said...

Looking forward to reading "A Bride for all Seasons" - all 4 authors are wonderful story tellers!

Elaine from Iowa

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

Enter me!

Pam K. said...

I have absolutely loved the books I've read by Mary and Margaret so am looking forward to reading this book that features their stories. Having stories in it by Debra and Robin will be a bonus.
Thanks for the chance to win a copy of A Bride for All Seasons.


Marissa said...

I would love to win this book!

Marissa form CO

rubynreba said...

I love what the author said - God, not luck, is at work in your life.
Beth from Iowa

Emma said...

A Bride for All Seasons sounds wonderful.. Please enter me in this contest. Thank you for the opportunity to win.PA.

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me this book looks great!!
Sharon Richmond Bryant

Veronica Sternberg said...

This looks really great! I've been wanting to read it. I'm in MN.

Jean said...

THIS SOUNDS LIKE A BOOK I WOULD LOVE! Thanks for the opportunity of possibly winning this.

Jean Kropid
West Palm Beach, FL

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

MsRubyKat said...

I love reading mail order bride books. Would really love to win and read this one. Thank you for the chance.
Karen G. from NY

rubynreba said...

Four brides and 4 great authors! You can't beat that!
Beth from Iowa

Abigail Richmond said...

Please enter me!

Blanch, N.C.

Sharon Moore said...

Please enter me. Loved the preview chapters and can't wait to read the entire collection.
Sharon from Eagan MN.

Kevlin said...

I really, really want to read this book. It sounds so great!! Thanks for the chance.
Kevlin in NY