Name Peggy Browning
Where are you from
Joy, Texas. USA
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I am a single lady, a mother of three, and grandmother of three. I have a bachelor’s degree in education with a minor in sociology, but most of what I know, I’ve learned through living.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I just re-released my first novel, Matilda’s Extraordinary Ordinary Life. It is available at amazon.com. It was previously released as The Big 5-0, but I wasn’t satisfied with the title and I re-worked some of the content as well. I also am using a pen name (Elaine Moody) for this book and the ones that follow.
Matilda’s Extraordinary Ordinary Life is the first in a series about Matilda Mason, a woman who starts her life over at the age of 50.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing seriously in 2011. I started a blog then and started working on my novel. I compiled and released two books of essays using posts from my blogs. I also created a “persona” and character of Square Peg who is a cartoon character who dispenses advice.
Prior to that, I had worked as a freelance correspondent for our local newspaper, The Times Record News.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I first considered myself a writer in 2013. I have wanted to write since I was a little girl, but never dared to consider myself seriously as a writer. Now I do. That’s how I define myself now.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I was tired of reading about women in their 30s and 40s and found that their dilemmas didn’t pertain to me. I had already “been there and done that”. I wanted to read something that dealt with the feelings of women my age…empty nesters, women starting over, women following their dreams after a lifetime of doing for others.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I am writing the Matilda Mason series in first person. My story is fiction. I also write essays/blog posts and newspaper and magazine articles. I’ve been told that I have an “authentic” voice…whatever that means! I hope it’s a compliment!
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I called the book The Big 5-0 at first because my 50th birthday was a real turning point for me. Then I found that women were turned off by the title…that they viewed it with disdain because of the age thing. The issues of the main character, Matilda, are universal themes for women, so I changed the title to Matilda’s Extraordinary Ordinary Life. Matilda is an ordinary, middle-aged woman who wants to do extraordinary things with the rest of her life.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I want women to know that life doesn’t end at middle age; that, in fact, a whole new world opens before you.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
All of it. I write in a realistic fashion. The settings, people, actions in the book could all be real. I don’t write fantasy, although I guess all fiction is a little bit fantasy.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I have experienced some of the things I write about. After all, we are encouraged to write what we know, aren’t we? But most of the things I write about are merely fiction. I have had a lot of jobs in my life, so some of the different jobs in the book are based on my own experience. The book is set in a town very similar to the mid-sized Texas city where I now live. The characters could be (but are not) my neighbors, co-workers, and family.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
I love the books of Maeve Binchy. She is my favorite author. I love how she has a whole cast of characters that have a common basis, but very different experiences and lives.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Maeve Binchy and Fannie Flagg.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am reading The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore. I just finished Evil at Heart by Chelsea Cain.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I just started reading Chelsea Cain. She writes psychological thrillers. I recently read Heart Sick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart. I’m ready to start the fourth book in that series.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
As Elaine Moody, I am writing Waltzing Matilda, the second book in the Adventures of Matilda Mason. I have seven more in the series already outlined! I expect Waltzing Matilda to be out in February, 2015.
As Peggy Browning, I am putting together a cookbook with the stories that go with the recipes. The title is Heart and Soul Food. It will be out on Amazon December 1, 2014.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
There’s more than one: my high school English teacher, an editor at the local newspaper, and my friends.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. This is the work I intend to do for the rest of my life. I hope I make enough money to support myself so I don’t have to live under a bridge.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Oh my! I’ve changed many, many things in that book! Every time I look at it, I feel the need to edit it. At some point, you just have to say “All Done” and start the next story. However, there is a birthday party scene in the book that I am not particularly fond of, but didn’t know how to cut it out of the story once I had written it. I did try to delete it, but eventually left it in place. It is my least favorite part of the book.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From Matilda’s Extraordinary Ordinary Life:
Cambridge Women’s Clinic, Cambridge, Texas
Buy a red balloon.
I scribbled one last item at the bottom of my TO DO LIST. The list was already quite full.
Have Pap Smear.
Meet Edie at Pat’s.
Cook supper for family.
But I’d forgotten to write down “buy a red balloon”. Adding the last detail assured me that everyone was taken care of…for today, at least.
I am a Libra. Astrologically, I am supposed to strive for perfect balance. It’s a struggle for me…I tend to be a little scattered. I blame being scattered on having so many responsibilities…
I make lists to balance myself. I often scatter my lists, just like I’m prone to scatter my energy, so I’m not sure the list making works.
Perhaps I’m a little unbalanced.
Oh, well. I try.
I am Woman. I take care of stuff. That’s my lot in life. I take care of my family…my job…everyone…even when they don’t appreciate it…even when I don’t really want to take care of them.
I opened a magazine and waited for my first appointment.
I stuck the Southern Living magazine under my arm and followed the blonde nurse to the back of the women’s clinic. Could this young thing wearing the Elmo scrubs possibly be a nurse? It seemed the nurses got younger every year.
I checked her name tag. Sure enough, the tag said Amy Wilson, LVN.
“Let’s check your weight now,” Amy the LVN said as she slid the measure up to the one hundred pound mark.
Obviously she hadn’t looked very closely at me or she would have started at one-fifty. Tactfully, she changed the scale to the one-fifty mark, slid it up to one-sixty, and moved it carefully back until she stopped on one-fifty-five.
“Looks like you’re up a little bit from last year,” she smiled. “How tall are you?”
Oh, for Pete’s sake, Nurse Amy, I thought. Give me a break. After all it’s my birthday. Spare me a little shame, please.
“Five feet two inches“, I answered with a little smile of my own.
She jotted both measurements in my chart.
Amy opened the door into the exam room and motioned for me to sit on the table while she took the blood pressure cuff off its holder.
“How old are you?” Nurse Amy asked
“Fifty. Actually…fifty today. It’s my birthday,” I said.
“Oh. Well, happy birthday,” she said. She wrapped the cuff around my upper arm. “How have you been lately?”
“Oh…fine,” I said.
“No problems?” Amy said.
“Nope. None that I can think of,” I answered.
Well, of course I could have mentioned there were a few problems. Like my temperature fluctuations: too hot or too cold … never just right. I could have told her about night sweats and insomnia. Pulling my quilt up to my neck, kicking it off, then….well on and on. But I didn’t feel inclined to discuss this with young, non-menopausal Amy.
Amy took my temperature and felt my pulse, gave me a paper gown, and asked me to undress.
“The doctor will be in shortly,” she said as she left the room.
I changed, folded my clothes over the side chair, and continued reading the magazine. I was tearing out a recipe I wanted to try when Dr. Ayers came in. She was a petite, round woman of about sixty and I considered discussing my newly fluctuating body temperature with her.
“Lemon cupcakes,” I said as I waved the torn page at her.
She sighed, but smiled, brushing her gray streaked hair back behind her ear. I could see it was a struggle for her to have a good bedside manner. But still she gave it a good try. I can’t say that I blamed her. If I was in her position, I’m sure I’d tire of hearing the complaints of menopausal women, too.
Dr. Ayers looked at my chart and then cut to the chase.
“Well, the blood pressure is a little high. Looks like you’ve gained some weight since the last time you were here. Pulse is a little fast, too. Shouldn’t be so high at resting rate,” she said.
“Yeah, well,” I muttered.
“You need to cut out carbs and start exercising. You’re actually thirty pounds overweight for your height. I’d like to see you lose at least twenty pounds before you see me again next year. Do you use much salt?” Dr. Ayers looked up from my chart.
“Well, umm. Not that much,” I said.
“Cut back on that, too,” she said, looking at the chart again. “How old are you now?
Damn, didn’t they write these little tidbits in the chart? Nurse Amy had written down all the other pertinent information. Surely my birth date was written down in there somewhere.
“Fifty,” I said. “Fifty today…in fact. Today is my birthday.”
“Oh, well, happy birthday. Take a deep breath,” Dr. Ayers said as she placed the cold stethoscope under my little paper split-front shirt.
“Are you having any hot flashes? Any symptoms of menopause? Light periods, spotting, missed periods?” she asked.
Well, yes, that and a whole lot more, but I didn’t want to discuss it today. Maybe I should have told the doctor about this general feeling of malaise. Perhaps I should have mentioned the anxiety I felt building in me day-after-day or the excruciating boredom I experienced.
But Dr. Ayers had already pissed me off by telling me to cut out carbs and salt and to start exercising. (Oh, yeah…I was irritable and had rapid mood swings…I’d neglected to report that too.)
I wanted no more suggestions from her. These complaints could wait until my next physical. I was already feeling a little old today. No need to complain about my waning ability to reproduce or my lack of enjoyment of life.
“Not really,” I lied.
“Lie back and relax, please,” she said.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Writing…instead of talking about writing. It’s easy to lose momentum once I start talking about what I’m working on. My goal is to tell a tale…and if I tell the tale aloud, then I feel my job is done! But, of course, it’s not done because I want to WRITE the story to share with lots of people, not TELL the story to just one person!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet. I hope to travel to promote them someday.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I did. I used the Create Space cover creator.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing the middle. I had the beginning and the ending, but got stuck in the middle.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Write every day. Write Every Day. WRITE EVERY DAY. Sometimes it is pure crap, but you can always edit and revise.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write every day! Read every day! Stop talking and start writing!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
It’s not too late to follow your dreams. If you desire to do something: plant a garden, sew a pillow, weld a trailer, travel, sell your house, start a new career…then do it. Do what makes your soul happy. Find a way. You can do it and you will be so glad that you did.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
The first book I read was Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Almost anything. I try to laugh much more than I cry.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would
To meet and why?
No. I feel that if I was meant to meet them, I would have already done so or I will do so in the future.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
“I told you I was sick.” Because my kids never believe me when I tell them I don’t feel well. They think I’m a hypochondriac. (But seriously, I think I have some very serious symptoms of something…)
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
No. There are things that I enjoy doing, like taking long walks, sewing, gardening, riding my bicycle, reading…but I don’t consider them hobbies. I just think of that as a part of my life.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I like Modern Family and Saturday Night Live. I also enjoy Downton Abbey and Mr. Selfridge (or whatever it’s called).
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’ve done a lot of things: teaching, social work, retail bookseller, nurses’ aide, receptionist, grant writer/fundraiser, waitress, graphic artist. However, there is nothing that has touched my soul and satisfied my creative needs like writing. I never want to work at anything else again. Now that I have finally started writing, I never want to stop.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Fifty Odd. http://fiftyodd.com