Congratulations to the winner of the Author Spotlight giveaway of Always Watching, KATE SUBLETTE. Please email info {at} suzannewoodsfisher {dot} com to claim your prize.

Welcome Maggie Brendan, author of A Sweet Misfortune, to Author Spotlight! Keep reading to find out how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

Lott, BrendaIntroduce us to you as an author: When did you get bit with the writing bug? How would you describe your writing style?

This goes way back to about the third grade when I wrote my first book-The Silver Crown. I loved to read as a child and for some reason I decided I could write a book. I still have it between green construction paper for book cover I made and of course, it’s handwritten and terrible! I think I must have been hungry all the time because the characters never had enough to eat, but later become heirs to royalty and have everything they could ask for. Not too far from my ‘real childhood’ minus the royalty. ☺

My writing style would best be described as fresh, cheerful and detail oriented. I bring the colorful West to life in my books by using detail without boring the reader. My stories are spiritually driven many times through a secondary character, which I think is one of my writing trademarks—or at least that’s what I’ve been told. The scripture is God’s love story and how far he went to win our hearts, which is an excellent source of info as I write how a character in my stories might sacrifice for someone else’s benefit.

Tell us about your new release:

I love the title of my new release, A Sweet Misfortune. It’s the story of a destitute, but strong-willed Rachel Matthews who isn’t one to rely on others to take care of her—even if she’s forced into the life of a dance hall girl. She intends to make her own way and her own money. Horrified by her circumstances, her brother sends a friend—a widely admired cattle baron John McCoy—to rescue her, then sets off to earn enough money to buy back the ranch her family lost. Months pass without her brother’s return. Rachel isn’t sure she can take one more day in John McCoy’s house—especially once she discovers that he’s the one who holds the deed to her family’s ranch. Both Rachel and John navigate the snarled terrain of pride, greed, faith and love in rugged 1866 Montana territory.

How can readers connect with you online?

Twitter @MaggieBrendan
Periscope: Maggie Brendan

Anything new for you on the book horizon?

Yes, I’m writing the third book in my Virtues and Vices of the Old West series. All of these books are stand-alone, but share a commonality of how each of us must face our own personal virtues and vices in our lives.

After you started writing seriously, how long was it before you were published?

I sent out a query letter about a book I was writing in early 2004 when my brother suddenly died. I let the query languish on a publisher’s desk more than a year before I could bring myself to start writing again. I retained an agent in August 2007, had an offer by December with Revell, landing a three-book contract with them in April 2008, and my first book was released in January, 2009. Since 2009, I’ve had 7 books released in 5 years. Because of my third contract negotiations, I didn’t have a release in 2014. Not bad for an unknown.

Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well?

Brainstorming with my critique partner, Kelly Long, gets my creative juices going. We laugh, plot and explore all possibilities. Reading history books that I pick up here and there when I travel fuels my imagination as well.

Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?

My office is where I get most of my writing done because I can lock myself away from distraction and I’m surrounded by my reference material. However, if I’m alone, I enjoy sitting on my back porch on nice days for a change of scenery. I’m not one who can work in a coffee shop very well. My writing hours vary. There are days that I write most of the day, taking breaks for laundry and such in between and other days only an hour or two. It depends on what is going on in my life because my husband is retired and fights a chronic disease. Marketing and research take up a portion of my time but not every day.

What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups? Your mom as your first-draft reader?

I attended numerous conferences, and love interacting with other authors. My very first conference, American Christian Writers, was a very small conference in Atlanta. Then I attended a larger conference, ACFW (ACRW back then) in 2004 in Denver where I felt accepted as a writer, though unpublished and was treated with respect. To my surprise, I stepped into an entirely different world of writers and camaraderie that I had no idea existed. It energized me and it was the first time I began to think of my writing as a career. My brother was my mentor and first reader.

Do you prefer reading physical books or e-readers?A Sweet Misfortune-Book Cover

Physical books are my favorite, although I have a Kindle. I enjoy the feel and texture of a ‘real’ book and love to smell the print.

If you weren’t able to write, what would you do?

I’d probably be painting landscapes, gardening, or visiting historical old towns.

Right this moment, what does your office look like?

My desk is a large and messy one currently with piles of research books, a notebook of the book I’m working on, and my to-do-list I must have to keep track of everything. But what is nice is I’m surrounded by things I love. There are three paintings I’ve done and a large print of a stagecoach behind my desk given to me by my best friend I had framed. I also have a numbered cowgirl bust sculpture I bought in Wyoming, which incidentally is titled “The Heart of the West”—the title of my first series. I have a historical map of Montana on the wall too. In front of my desk where I can see it, I have a beautiful Indian print of an Indian maid wearing a traditional red and white buffalo robe that my sister-in-law gave me in remembrance of my brother. A have a large variety of Bibles, devotionals and books on my shelf of authors I’ve endorsed. So naturally, I love this room.

What’s one thing you learned about the publishing industry in last five years? Last year? Last six months?

In the last five years—it’s hard work.
In the last year—it’s hard work.
In the last six month—it’s hard work.

Seriously, the publishing world is rapidly ever changing with what’s current and a very competitive market comprised of traditional published, indie authors, hybrids, etc. This makes it very hard to discern what is best for me or any author for that matter. I think fast-paced stories are in vogue and since I write historical they’re not as popular which makes it more challenging to come up with new plots and twist in order not to bore readers.

What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?

Outlines and deadlines! Both are equally important, and I’m learning to formulate outlines after I get a third of the way into my story to please my editor. What I like most is to create exciting stories in my head with strong female characters that have something at stake. Plus, I love the escape that writing affords me and allows me to be alone. My best creativeness seems to be when I have time alone.

What is the smartest writing advice you ever got?

Finish what you start and don’t waste time on reviews—just keep writing—from my author brother, Jess McCreede who published 7 novels.

[Tweet “Finish what you start. Don’t waste time on reviews. Just keep writing! @maggie_brendan #amwriting”]

If I could go anywhere, it would be…

Israel and Ireland. Otherwise, Colorado, Montana or Wyoming. I love the Rocky Mountains. I love the West.

Best indulgence:

A massage! Lol. I always promise myself one as a reward when I turn in a book, but rarely ever follow through.


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