Friday, January 08, 2016

More Love and Laughter from Margaret Brownley - One Free Book

Dear Readers, I’ve loved Margaret Brownley books since I read the first one. And this Undercover Ladies series is one of my favorites.

He never met a Pinkerton detective he liked;
She never met a man so stubborn. –Calico Spy

Welcome back, Margaret. How did this book come about?
Hi Lena, thank you for letting me visit. Calico Spy is the third book in my Undercover Ladies series. Katie Madison is a Pinkerton detective working undercover as a Harvey girl. Someone is killing off the waitresses and Katie hopes to find the killer before the killer finds her—or before she burns down the restaurant trying.

Tell us about the book’s cover and what makes it unique.
I think this is my favorite cover of the series. The scene takes place at the Harvey House where my heroine is working undercover to solve the Harvey girl murders. If you look closely you can see the train out the window. Train passengers had only a half hour to eat. To accommodate them, Fred Harvey invented “fast food” service. The cup in the heroine’s hand plays an important role in the story.

Please explain and differentiate between what’s fact and fiction in the book.
All the information about Fred Harvey and his restaurants is factual. Also factual is the information about Pinkerton detectives. Many people don’t realize that Allan had an entire department of female detectives. He hired his first one in 1856 and quickly saw the advantage. Women could go where men could not and were able to befriend the unsuspecting wives of outlaws.

How much research did you have to do for this book?
Before starting the Undercover series I read sixteen of Allan Pinkerton’s books to learn how crimes were solved before fingerprints, DNA, and cameras were available. For Calico Spy I read every book written on Fred Harvey and the Harvey girls. I also took a trip to Barstow, California to the old Harvey house there. It’s now a Chamber of Commerce and museum but is still intact. I used it as a model for my book.

What are some of the most interesting things you found about this subject that you
weren’t able to use in the story?
I’ve come to believe that Fred Harvey is one of the unsung heroes of the west. His restaurants put thousands of young women to work in respectable jobs. More than five thousand women who traveled west to work at his restaurants also found husbands. I think that gives him the world record for matchmaking.

What inspired and surprised you while you were writing the book?
I never plan or plot a book in advance so I’m always surprised at how a book turns out. The thing that surprised me most in this book is the hero’s story and how his faith was tested.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the story?
My main goal in writing any story is to entertain the reader. I also love making people laugh, so you’ll always find humor in my stories. The hero’s struggles certainly made me think about my own faith and what I would do in his shoes. I wouldn’t be surprised if readers have similar thoughts.

What is the next project you’re working on?
I just finished the second book in my new Match Made in Texas series. The first book, Left at the Altar will be released in November followed by To Win A Sheriff’s Heart.

I’ll be looking forward to those books, too. Be sure to schedule them on my blog. What do you do when you have to get away from the story for a while?
I usually call up my grandchildren to see if any of them can play.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Calico, Kansas
Katie Madison tied the black satin ribbon at her neckline and frowned. The lopsided bow wouldn’t do. She yanked the ribbon loose and tried again. Today she was all thumbs and everything that could go wrong, did. Already she’d broken a shoelace, snagged a stocking, and torn the hem of her dress.
Just as she finished tying the bow for the third time the bedroom door flew open and her roommate’s brunette head popped inside. “Katie! Hurry or you’ll be late.”
“I’m trying, I’m trying.”
Mary-Lou’s green eyes narrowed and her southern drawl grew more pronounced. “Pickens has a burr in his saddle. Said if you don’t hurry he’ll have your head!”
Katie’s stomach knotted. She was already in trouble with the restaurant manager. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
“A minute might be too late.” The door slammed shut, and Mary-Lou’s footsteps echoed down the hall as she yelled for the other Harvey girls to hurry. “Y’all better hurry now, you hear?”
Katie whirled about for one last look in the mirror and hardly recognized the image reflected back. The black dress with its high-collar, starched white apron, black shoes and stockings made her look more like a nun than one of Pinkerton’s most successful female detectives.
Even her unruly red hair had been forced to conform to Fred Harvey’s strict regulations. Parted in the middle, it was pulled back in a knot and fashioned with the mandatory net. The rigid hairdo did nothing for her, appearance-wise. All it did was make her eyes look too big and her freckles stand out like brown polka dots.
Wrinkling her nose, she turned away from the mirror. It’s a good thing she’d chosen to be a detective as she had neither the looks nor housekeeping skills needed for landing a husband.

How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you for letting me share my story!

Now here’s a question for your blog readers: If you were an undercover detective, what would be your disguise and where would you like to work?

Thank you, Margaret for sharing this new book with us. It's always a pleasure to have you on the blog.

Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Calico Spy (Undercover Ladies Book 3) - Amazon

Leave a comment answering Margaret's question for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. 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 Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, 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:


Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Lena, thank you so much for letting me guest on your wonderful blog. It's always a treat. Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

would love to win angela in KY

Connie Porter Saunders said...

This sounds so much fun!
Connie from KY

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Angela in KY. Thank you for stopping by and good luck!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Connie, it was a fun book to write. Hope you get a chance to read it! :)

Wendy Newcomb said...

I would like to work in Nebraska or Kansas as a waitress. Now I would NEVER be a waitress in real life as I've seen some of the rude unruly customers they have to put up with, hat's off to them! My grandpa, dad and mom were both chef's and my mom also worked as a waitress, owned a restaurant and cooked for a bunkhouse on a ranch.

wfnren at aol dot com

Crystal L Barnes said...

Margaret, I loved the first two books in this series and can't wait to get my hands on a copy of this one. :)
So, me as an undercover detective. Are we talking this century or a previous one? Hmm...I'll pick one that would work for both--a Baker or country cook. Ooo, or maybe a southern gospel singer. Call me crazy. :)
Thanks so much for sharing your story with us. :)

Happy Trails,

justcommonly said...

If I was an undercover detective, I'd work in a coffee shop as a barista...always fun chatting up with customers..and who doesn't drink coffee or tea? Thanks for the giveaway! Would love to win.

Annie from MD

Melanie Backus said...

I love Margaret's books! Thank you for the opportunity to be a winner!

Melanie Backus, TX

Mary Preston said...

This sounds wonderful thank you.

Mary P


Terrill R. said...

I have been wanting to start this series since I first discovered it. I am a big fan of humor with my romance and that's what's drawing me to them.

Terrill - WA

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Wendy, that's really interesting. With all the chefs in your family mealtime must be something special. I love that your mom cooked for a bunkhouse. Not many women can claim that!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Crystal, working undercover as a gospel singer is an interesting idea. I guess somebody would have be killing off the choir. Love it!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Annie from MD,
Working in a coffee shop would be great fun and you could pump your customers for clues. People are more relaxed when they're eating and drinking so that's the time to do some undercover sleuthing.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Melanie, thank you! Good luck.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Mary in Australia, thank you for stopping by!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Terrill, I love mixing humor with romance, too. I think people in love really laugh more, don't you?

BJM said...

If I were a detective, I would be sort of like a younger Miss Marple. Unassuming middle-aged woman, maybe work at a bed and breakfast or a nice hotel. BJM from SC

Vera Godley said...

Oh I do love the fun of reading a Margaret Brownley book! She just has a knack for bringing a bit of levity and pure fun to the reading. Love to read this one, Margaret!

Vera in North Carolina

Vera Godley said...

OOps! Guess I should'a told about me as a detective or waitress. Neither would have been very good. My only detective skills were/are those of detecting what the kids were up to when quieter than normal and the only waitressing was for the family table where the 5 kids ate with hubby and myself - or when family gatherings of 20+ filled our home.

Beth Gillihan said...

Great interview! Sounds like a fun read. Thanks for the chance to win!

Beth in Montana

Unknown said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway! Sydney Harries GA

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a fun read! If I was an undercover detective I might be a mail carrier. You would always have to go to a persons house daily, except the week ends of course!
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
Maryann in NY

kim hansen said...

Her books sound great. North Platte Nebraska

Beth Erin said...

These books sound so good!
betherin02 (at) gmail(dot)com
Beth S.
West Salem, IL

GrandaddyA said...

I think I have read one book in this series and enjoyed it a lot. I would love to read this one.
Edward A in VA

Loraine Nunley said...

If I were going to be an undercover detective, I probably would blend in pretty well in an office environment. Thanks for the interview and giveaway!

Loraine in TX

Mama Cat said...

First, I would want to dress as comfortably as possible, as well as do work that would either be where I would fit in based on experience (companion to senior or lady's personal assistant) or for fun (pet sitter, cats or smaller dogs or undercover investigator). Probably wearing jeans and comfortable shirt loose denim skirt and comfy shirt. Where? One of several places I am curious about such as small towns in CO, VA, WA, or Oregon. Or back in Tucson. Much fun to play 'what if' and live vicariously through characters! Jeanie in Phoenix.

Pam K. said...

It's a stretch to imagine me as a detective going under cover! I'd probably just have to be the middle-aged woman who just blends in and picks up info by listening. I haven't yet been able to read any of this series (though they are on my want to read list) but I've read several of Margaret's other books and thoroughly enjoy them. She has such a great blend of humor, adventure, and romance that makes her books fun to read. Thanks for the chance to win Calico Spy.


Library Lady said...

I'm not sure what my disguise would be but I would love to work in the Library of Congress.
Janet E.

apple blossom said...

Thanks for the chance to win Margaret's book. I love reading her books. live in ND

Trixi said...

If I were an undercover detective I'd want to work a job that I could interact with people but at the same time, be unassuming & watch everything going on. Then get people to feel comfortable enough around me to start talking....I'd shudder at this but maybe a bar tender. People who drink tend to be loose on the! I'd hate every minute of the job, but I think you'd learn a lot. Eventually someone may say something relevant to a case ;-)
This book sounds great! I've read another Pinkerton series by a different author (whom I can't remember now) and enjoyed it tremendously. I have no doubt I'd like Margaret's just as much. Thanks for sharing a bit of history on both the Pinkerton's and Harvey Girls. Always like getting to learn something new!

Trixi in OR

Abigail Mitchell said...

Looks awesome!!! Love the Harvy Girls movie with Judy Garland.
Enter me.
Blanch, NC

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in your awesome giveaway!!
Conway, SC.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi BJM, I love the idea of a younger Miss Marple and a bed and breakfast. What fun!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Vera, I think mothers have great detecting skills. It sounds like you would do just fine as a Harvey girl. You'd probably not set the kitchen on fire like my heroine.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Beth G, Sydney, Kim and Beth S, thank you for stopping by and good luck!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Maryann in New York, a mail carrier is one I hadn't thought of. But you're right; you do have a great excuse for going up to everyone's house and checking out their mail. BTW: the mailbox scene in Undercover Bride where the heroines gets the postmaster to retrieve a mailed letter was based on an actual stunt pulled by a Pinkerton agent.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Edward and Loraine, nice to "meet" you both. I can see how working undercover in an office might come in handy. Edward, you didn't tell us your disguise.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Jeanie in Phoenix, I love your idea of going undercover as a pet sitter! Now wouldn't that be a barrel of laughs?

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Pam, well a good detective has to also be a good listener so you'd be great!

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Library Lady, wow, now there's an idea; the Library of Congress. I wonder what valuable clues could be found there? Maybe something about a valuable historical document? Or a treasure map...

Margaret Brownley said...

HI Apple Blossom and Sharon, thank you for visiting with us today. Good luck!

Margaret Brownley said...

HI Abigail, I loved the Judy Garland movie too. She wore a large white bow in her hair. I was so disappointed when I read that the Harvey girls weren't allowed to wear hair ornaments. That meant my heroine couldn't have a bow like Judy.

Margaret Brownley said...

Hi Trixi, I know what you mean by working at a bar. But you're right; alcohol adds up to loose lips. I always thought it might be a good idea to work as a hairdresser because something about "letting one's hair down" seems to make women want to talk.

sharon said...

I really enjoy reading about Harvey girls and would enjoy your book. Sm.CA. Wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)coming up

Brenda Arrington said...

Book sounds very interesting. Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy. Enjoyed the interview.
Brenda in VA

kam110476 said...

Hi Margaret & Lena! I loved your Last Chance Ranch series & I'm really looking forward to adding Calico Spy to my library so I can finally read all 3 Pinkerton books in a row.
Kristen in OK
kam110476 at gmail dot com

Kate said...

What disguise would I wear? I have no idea. Perhaps a business woman or something.

I can't wait to read this!!!!
Menomonie, WI

Sandy Quandt said...

Thanks for the interview, Lena and Margaret. Calico Spy sounds like fun. I'd love to win it. I believe if I were an undercover agent I'd be a teacher. (My former life. :)) That way I could fit seamlessly into any community.
Sandy in Texas

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a fun book!
-Melissa M. in TN