February 6, 2012

Made It Moment: Pat Browning

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 9:41 pm

Contest Update: Congratulations to reader Leah Rhyne who won a copy of ABSINTHE OF MALICE! Thanks to all of you for entering, and here’s to many more giveaways to come!

Absinthe Of Malice

I had heard about this slim, elegant mystery for almost a year before finally reading it. Once I did, it amazed me to read the author’s Made It Moment. This was the book Pat Browning decided to write on almost a, “What now?” kind of lark? Praise for this debut mystery abounds, and if you leave a comment today, you’ll be entered to win a print copy. Read it and you just may decide that, “What next?” can lead to great things.

Pat Browning

I was a tap-dancing fool. Picture this. I’m about six years old, tap dancing on the front porch just in case a Hollywood talent scout drives by looking for the next Shirley Temple. Doesn’t happen.

Never mind. When I was about nine I appeared in the Junior High School talent show, wearing blue satin shorts and a long sleeved white blouse, tapping like an old pro. The applause was thunderous. I danced off the stage, stood in the wings listening to that wonderful sound and ran back onto the stage for an encore. The rest of the year I spent my lunch hours in the school basement, strutting my stuff before a crowd of classmates. Take THAT, Shirley Temple!

Another year, another schoolyard. I get into a scuffle with some long-forgotten girl over some long-forgotten beef. The teacher, who is also my mother, hauls me inside and gives me a couple of swats on the behind. Furious and embarrassed, I put my head down on my desk. From a couple of rows back, a little boy creeps forward and slips a candy bar into my hand. As Charlie Sheen would say, “Winning!”

Time marches on. Drowsing through summer vacation, I sit under a pear tree in the front yard and write a story about fairies in a tree stump. I put it in an envelope addressed to The Kansas City Star, stick a 3-cent stamp on it and mail it off. The Star prints it and sends me a check for 50 cents. It may be the silliest story ever written but I see my byline for the first time. The best is yet to come.

Time passes. I experiment with decoupage, gourmet cooking, and writing newsletters for local clubs. When The Fresno Bee looks for a local stringer to handle weddings and club meetings I’m standing there with a camera, notebook and pen, ready to go. Before long I’m branching out into feature stories and not looking back.

All this time I’m slogging through my job in a law office, learning more about human misery than I ever dreamed possible. After almost 20 years of listening to divorce and bankruptcy tales of woe I, leave the law office and get a job in a travel agency. The trade journal arriving weekly in our mail is TravelAge West, published in San Francisco. I send the editor a letter telling him I’m a great traveler and a great writer and I’d like to be one of his correspondents.

Abracadabra! I’m cruising through the West Indies, flying the Atlantic in Pan Am’s first class section, walking through the ruins of Pompeii, riding an elephant in India. Can it get much better? Of course it can.

I go to work fulltime for the local newspaper. When I plop down at the desk next to a longtime friend she says, “I keep wondering what you’ll do next.”

What I do next is decide to write a mystery. “How hard can it be?” I ask. I find out just how hard it can be, but my mystery, FULL CIRCLE, is finally self-published in 2001. Krill Press picks it up in 2008 and gives it a new cover and new name, ABSINTHE OF MALICE. Quoting The Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

The point of all this? Life is full of small “made it” moments, but sometimes we are so focused on the big score that we don’t notice. The little moments just keep piling up, adding experience and confidence to a foundation for the big break. When the Success Express comes rolling by, with any luck we can swing aboard and ride it right on down the line.

So what am I’m going to do next? I’m going to finish my second book. Stay tuned….

An award-winning newspaper reporter, Pat Browning set her first mystery, ABSINTHE OF MALICE (original title: FULL CIRCLE) in California’s Central San Joaquin Valley, where she lived for many years before returning to her native Oklahoma. An extensive excerpt can be read at Google Books.

Pat’s articles on the writing life have appeared in The SouthWest Sage, the monthly journal of SouthWest Writers, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She’s working on her next mysteries.


  1. Hi, Jenny:
    Wouldn’t you know -I’m the first one to read about myself. Well, heck,you can’t be a writer and a shrinking violet at the same time. Thanks for having me.I had a heck of a lot of fun doing this. Hope it stirs up interest for the book and you have a successful giveaway drawing.
    Hugs from here,
    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 6, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  2. Love the cover! I don’t know about other states, but absinthe (the real stuff) is allowed to be sold/purchased in Kentucky.

    Wow, you have had an interesting life. :-) I think it was Kweisi Mfume who said it’s not the dates on your tombstone that matter but what you did between those dates. (And of course he could have been paraphrasing/quoting someone else.)

    All best on your second book.

    Comment by Pamela L. — February 6, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  3. Your work experiences are so varied that I would love to read a book about your life!

    Comment by Shiirley Woodard — February 6, 2012 @ 11:05 pm

  4. Delightful and encouraging all at once. And here I thought time spent in jobs away from writing was misspent! Clearly you were on a path…. Congratulations.

    Comment by Robin Minnick — February 7, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  5. Hi Pat, Your breezy style drew me right in. If you’re even a quarter as charming in person as you are on the page, you must be knee-deep in friends. Great story!


    Comment by Elizabeth C. Main — February 7, 2012 @ 1:54 am

  6. Hi, Pamela:
    Absinthe is legal now and very trendy, but it was outlawed for years. Regardless, it was an ingredient in the famous, still secret, recipe for Oysters Rockefeller. A most interesting view of absinthe and its effects can be found in Peter King’s mystery, ROUX THE DAY, about the Gourmet Detective eating and drinking his way through New Orleans. Thanks for stopping by!
    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 4:29 am

  7. Hi, Liz;
    You made my day. I think I have just about run out of charm, but I’ll see if I can’t recoup a little of it, now that I’ve read your nice comment. At my age, I’m sorry to say, I’m losing friends faster than I can make them! Thanks so much for looking in and leaving a comment.
    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 4:32 am

  8. What a great story! And I can SO relate to the tap dancing on the porch waiting for a talent scout to discover you. LOL! Can’t wait to see what you do next, but in the meantime, Absinthe of Malice is on my TBR list! Good luck with the next project.

    Comment by mountainmama — February 7, 2012 @ 7:11 am

  9. Very interesting, Pat. As you know, I’m a fan of yours and I thought Absinthe of Malice was a terrific book. Now, for me and your other fans, stop tap dancing around and finish the sequel. Big hugs to you, my friend.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — February 7, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  10. That sounds like a fun life and a fun book. Love Pat’s attitude – it’s very, “no worries,” which is what I strive to be, but never quite succeed. I should print this and hang it on my wall. :)

    Comment by Leah Rhyne — February 7, 2012 @ 9:10 am

  11. Golly Pat, what a string of “Made-it-Moments.” Wonderful, and well-deserved! I’m looking forward to meeting you at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Conference this May! Hope many in the mid-south area attend this huge conference in Oklahoma City. Agents, editors, Two days of three-track sessions. (http://www.owfi.org)

    Comment by Radine Trees Nehring — February 7, 2012 @ 9:41 am

  12. Thanks Pat for veting all the writers who yearn for the sound of applause in silence. Wonderful happenings do come in small doses.
    Nash Black

    Comment by Nash Black — February 7, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  13. Pat,

    Wow! It seems you have almost done it all. That is great. I love your life experiences and so glad that you shared them with us all. Your book sounds absolutely great and it will go on my tbr list.


    Thanks for another great Made it Moment.

    Comment by Kellie — February 7, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  14. Jenny is a great writer so she knows great writing when she reads it. Thanks for featuring Pat. The best part of her wonderful story is the “next book” line at the end. Hope it is soon.


    p.s., Don’t enter me in the contest. My well-thumbed copy is on my bookshelf.

    Comment by Mike Orenduff — February 7, 2012 @ 10:13 am

  15. I met Pat at my first book signing when she arrived as the reporter to interview the group of authors who made their appearance in the Hanford Mall. When she got published, we did several panels together at libraries. We also shared a table at the Central Coast Book Festival. But what I cherish most is all the fun talks we had at many different places and over dinner. Get that second book finished, dear friend.

    Comment by Marilyn Meredith — February 7, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  16. My understanding is that REAL absinthe, involving wormwood as an ingredient, has been illegal since the 30s. What is now sold as “absinthe” is a false name, a green liqueur. Am I wrong? I’d love to taste the real thing, but I understand it’s dangerous. Wormwood in large doeses is a poison.

    Anyway…congrats on your made it moment, and how true that life contains many of them. How cool of that little boy to slip a chocolate bar into your hand when you were down. And how wonderful that you have never forgotten.

    Comment by SavvyBlue — February 7, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

  17. What a great story! I hope I’ll always remember to be looking for the next great adventure life has to offer.

    After reading about Absinthe of Malice I added it to my “to be read” list, so I was happy to read this reminder this morning!

    Comment by Gigi Pandian — February 7, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

  18. And Chernoble is another word for wormwood. I’ve loved the earlier comments from both author and reader and I’m convinced to check out Absinthe (maybe I can win a copy?). You can learn so much from these pages :)

    Comment by Judy — February 7, 2012 @ 12:48 pm

  19. I took tap dancing and ballet when I was a kid. Mom told me we were so mixed up we were doing tap in ballet class and vice versa!

    I agree. There are many made it moments in life to enjoy, without always looking ahead for the big one. That said, I wish I could follow my own advice.

    Morgan Mandel

    Comment by Morgan Mandel — February 7, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  20. Love Pat’s story! And Pat! Her tale tells us soooo much about who she is — that wonderful belief in herself that so informs — and enables — the lives of people who have good, fun careers and experiences. They know they deserve them.

    And BTW, ABSINTHE OF MALICE is one of my favorite novels of the past few years!

    Brava, Pat!

    Comment by Tom Sawyer — February 7, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  21. What a wonderful courageous, creative woman you are. I have “Absinthe..” on my kindle, but your life is a delight to read. Onward, right?

    Comment by Lil Gluckstern — February 7, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  22. What a great, great tale! And thanks for the chance for a copy of the book! I have long looked forward to reading it.

    Comment by BrendaW. — February 7, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

  23. Pat, You had my total sympathy with the tale of your school teacher mom paddling you. Same thing happened to me when I was in the first grade in a country school that contained eight grades. I think it was my first day and I was feeling very full of myself. (Very important, being the teacher’s kid, I thought in my innocence–i.e. ignorance.) Mother threatened me with a spanking, but I wasn’t worried. I’d had spankings before, and they were nothing.

    This time was different! She put me across her lap and began spanking. First I laughed, determined to show off for the kids, then the swats began hurting…bad! Finally I was reduced to tears.

    Later Mother said, “I didn’t want to do that, but if I hadn’t, I would never have been able to control those big eighth grade boys.

    Even at 5, that made sense to me, so there were never any hard feelings.

    Comment by Jackie King — February 7, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  24. Wow, I thought I had a bunch of careers. What an interesting life, Pat. But more than that, it’s the joy you have in exploring what life has to offer. Good for you.

    Comment by Polly iyer — February 7, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

  25. Jackie King, there were pros and cons to having your mother as your teacher, but on balance I think we were very lucky. Good, bad or indifferent, Mom always had our back, right?
    Hugs, and thanks for stopping by,

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

  26. Tom Sawyer,
    So glad you stopped by, and many thanks for your kind words about ABSINTHE. Thanks for that and for your many other kindnesses!
    All best now and forever —

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  27. SavvyBlue and Judy,

    Today’s legal absinthe is different. The key seems to be the restricted percentage of thujone, a chemical contained in wormwood (artemisia absinthium) which was used in traditional absinthe.

    Wormwood, like so many green and growing things, can cure you or kill you. It was originally used for medicinal purposes and a touch of it is still used in traditional cocktail bitters. There’s good information at http://www.plant-biology.com/

    Apparently another factor in “the Green Fairy’s” bad reputation was continued use. People just drank it and drank it and drank it and the effects built up.

    An interesting and complicated subject —

    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  28. P.S. The complete URL that takes you to info on wormwood:


    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 7, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

  29. Nash Black:

    Ford and Irene, your comment intrigued me so I looked you up. How wonderful to meet you! I also looked up your book SANDPRINTS OF DEATH and it sounds like a book I would enjoy. I’ll download it this weekend.

    Best of luck to you, and thanks for stopping by.

    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 8, 2012 @ 3:15 am

  30. Earl Staggs and Mike Orenduff:

    We have to stop meeting like this. (lame joke) Seriously, thanks for chiming in with your comments and support. You’re the greatest — both of you!


    Comment by Pat Browning — February 8, 2012 @ 3:17 am

  31. Marilyn, dear, dear friend:

    Thank you for coming by and I treasure your comment. My best to Hap. Miss you both!


    Comment by Pat Browning — February 8, 2012 @ 3:19 am

  32. Coming in late, Pat … Yesterday went a little crazy for me, because I still write (contract basis) for a newspaper here in South Texas, and yesterday was more insane than usual.
    But I did want to tell you I love your story! And the way you wrote it. I can just picture that little girl tap-dancing her heart out. I’m eager to read your book. Thanks for sharing your Made-It-Moments.

    Comment by P.L. Blair — February 8, 2012 @ 7:50 am

  33. Hi, P.L.:

    Hope you will take a look at ABSINTHE. It’s a world away from the fantasy fiction you write, but as someone who works for a newspaper you will find some familiar stuff there. LOL Thanks for stopping by, and best to you.

    Pat Browning

    Comment by Pat Browning — February 8, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  34. As usual, I’m late to the party!!!

    Pat – another wonderful piece, Thank You!

    I have always loved your stories and am one of your biggest fans.

    I’m tapping my toe pretty impatiently for that second book now . . . .


    Comment by Kaye Barley — February 9, 2012 @ 10:27 am

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