Guest Post by Ada Brownell


By Ada Brownell

 It’s not just me. Anytime you pick up a work of fiction, you’ll find a plot.

Writers often talk about plotting. Even way back, it sounded boring to me. Too similar to an outline.

But when I sat down to write my recent novels, the first, Joe the Dreamer: The Castle and the Catapult, The Lady Fugitive, and Peach Blossom Rancher, I discovered plotting a story is an almost wicked activity. There’s nothing boring about it. Why?

A writer plots against his characters.

I always give my main character a big problem or almost unattainable goal. Then throw in complications.

In Peach Blossom Rancher, John Lincoln Parks already has a ranch in ruin he’s trying to restore to the beautiful horse and peach ranch his father had before he died. But because his late uncle, murdered in the last book, didn’t take care of the ranch John has a massive job to do and not nearly enough money to restore it.

John wants a wife, too, now that he has his own home, and Valerie MacDougal, the woman he has his eyes on, moves to Boston where she is distracted by one of her father’s law associates.

What would this fellow dangle before this gal’s eyes? Three patients at the state asylum: a talented young doctor, institutionalized because of one seizure; an award-winning teacher, paralyzed in a logging accident; and an adorable boy, about age twelve, who is a victim of Down’s Syndrome.

The law associate, Archibald Forsythe, believes these three people, and perhaps many more held in deplorable conditions at the asylum, are not imbeciles. Valerie agrees and joins Archie in a plan to take the asylum’s management to court and prove it.

Why would I allow my delightful characters, ready to fall in love, to be affected by an asylum—and take the reader there too? Why would I also create a neighbor rancher who thinks she’s in love with John?

It’s part of the plot. But don’t blame it all on me. From my point of view, the interesting, amazing characters I created are partly responsible. But some of the blame goes to The Pueblo Chieftain. When I worked in Lifestyle I did several stories at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo, and then when I transferred to the news side, the former asylum was part of the medical beat and I worked that beat seven years.

You could also blame the person at CMHIP who gave me a 1909-10 report from the Board of Lunacy Commissioners on the “form of insanity” of people held because of seizures, paralysis, Down’s Syndrome, and things such as grief, rheumatism, La grippe, and jealousy.

Yet, when my characters got together, I had a story that kept readers reading at night, but also joyous at the happy, wonderful ending.

That’s plot.

Thank you, Ada, for sharing insights into your writing and plotting style!

Ada Brownell has been writing for Christian publications since age 15 and spent much of ada brownellher life as a daily newspaper reporter. She has a B.S. degree in Mass Communications and worked most of her career at The Pueblo Chieftain in Colorado where she spent the last seven years as a medical writer. After moving to Springfield, MO in her retirement, she continues to freelance for Christian publications and write non-fiction and fiction books. She occasionally writes op-writes op-ed pieces for newspapers.


John Lincoln Parks worked to rebuild the ranch he inherited until he found a body in his barn. Then he was arrested for murder.

larger rancher cover 1John sat handcuffed beside Valerie in the stuffy small court room listening and running over the points he would make in his testimony. Sweat trickled down his face and neck as he looked at Edwina, twisting a white handkerchief in her fingers and occasionally wiping tears.

The prosecution had presented Sheriff’s Woody’s testimony, and several other filmsy narratives about John having it in for B.J. Then the bartender gave his testimony.

Old Kelly sat in the witness seat, a smug pucker on his lips, but uncertainty in his eyes. He leaned forward, sat back, looked at the ceiling, put his face in his hands, wiggled and jiggled coins in his pocket, waiting while the prosecuting attorney shuffled papers.

Finally the obvious questions slid from the prosecuting attorney, whose tightly buttoned white shirt and black suit coat made John think of a penguin as he strutted back and forth. When he had the bartender’s personal information, he came to a halt in front of the witness.

“Do you know John Lincoln Parks?” His high-pitched squeaky voice nevertheless demanded an answer.

Old Kelly rubbed his white beard. “Sure. Everybody knows John.”

“Do you know Billy Joe Garner?”

The old man pointed at John. “I did before he killed ‘im!”


Peach Blossom Rancher–Laurel Award runner up.

Buy Peach blossom rancher here:

You can connect with Ada here:


Twitter: @adabrownell

Blog: Stick to Your Soul Encouragement

Amazon Ada Brownell author page:

Thanks so much for joining me this week! I will be back next week with new Love Inspired Suspense author, Sharee Moore Stover!

3 thoughts on “Guest Post by Ada Brownell

  1. lelandandbecky says:

    It was very interesting to read what was considered the forms of insanity in 1909-1910, and I’m thankful they are no longer used! Great interview!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ada Brownell says:

    Leland and Becky, thanks for your comment. There were many more odd things that could cause you to b e committed in that era, when asylums were first created in the U.S. IN the book, one my characters reads from the list during a court session. Sad, yet some were almost humorous they were so ridiculous.


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