Friday, June 03, 2016


Welcome back, Darlene. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer or did you want to be something else?
Writing was one of five dream jobs I wanted when I was ten. Having said that, it fell far below my life’s ambition: I believed with all of my heart that God wanted me to be a music missionary to Mexico. I studied music, studied Spanish on my own until I got to high school and could take classes (no one spoke Spanish in Maine, at least not in the 1960s), and majored in Bible, theology, and music in college.

Then life happened. Without going into all the circumstances, my ex-husband and I failed in full-time ministry in the states before we ever went overseas.

When we separated, I started to write and never gave up.

How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?
I don’t write very that quickly. I spent all of April writing two novellas and most of May editing them, and I still have about two weeks of work left to do before publication. At that speed, over a month for a novella from first draft to final edits for a novella. My editor does it in two weeks.
For a short novel (Heartsong length or cozy mysteries), about 3 months. For a longer book, it could take me as long as 6 months. In planning, I also allow for periods I can’t write. I can’t afford to wait until the last minute to meet a deadline, and then fall sick.

But even so I’m writing more than ever. In 2016, I expect to finish five novellas and two cozy mysteries.

How do you come up with themes for your stories?
I always choose a Bible verse that I expect to impact the story. Sometimes the story takes a different direction, and I have to choose a different verse.

Some books are theme-driven. Calico Brides, the collection where Buttons for Birdie, first appeared, grew out of my passion for missions. (All four brides found a missions project close to home.) A Ranger’s Trail was about forgiving enemies and Tobogganing for Two looked at forgiving yourself.

But where do the themes come from? They’re integral to the story. I don’t start with a theme to write a story; I start with a story which sometimes dictates the theme. The actual events of the Mason County “Hoo Doo” War in Texas inspired the story in A Ranger’s Trail. A feud left dozens dead and no one was brought to justice. How would the widow respond to the lack of resolution? How could she forgive the family in part responsible for her husband’s death?

Do you have a schedule of when you write?
I have daily writing or editing goals, but I don’t have a schedule. On my best days, I get in an hour before lunch and then the bulk of my work in the early afternoon. I never know when I’ll be interrupted by a visitor, a doctor, or fighting sleepiness (an ongoing problem). Supper refreshes me for another short burst.

I have learned to write when I have the opportunity and energy to do so. That’s how I’ve continued to be productive in spite of my change of circumstances and unpredictable health.

How are you able to balance other aspects of your life with your writing?
I answered that a little above. By writing when I can.
Finding balance has always been a challenge. I tend to be reclusive. I go to church services here twice a week but I eat in my room. I rarely go to activities—they either take place while I have a shower (mornings) or when I’m down to the final push to reach the day’s goal (afternoons).
But I have restorative therapy which helps keep me physically active, I am spending more time with the Lord, and I take breaks from writing to read, visit on Facebook, watch TV, do word search puzzles, and adult coloring books. I play piano at church and talk with aides at length, using my spiritual gifts.

I found adult coloring when I was trying to find things to take to rehab after my second knee-replacement surgery for the times I wasn't doing physical therapy. I’ve loved it since. What elements do you think make a great story line?
Well-rounded characters. A clear tension that can’t be easily resolved. A story where the characters must change to find resolution. To some extent, the unexpected.

What was the hardest thing about writing a book?
Pushing through even when what I’m writing feels like junk. I recently finished my Christmas book for this year (Matchmaking Mix-Up). While I was writing it, I told my editor I wasn’t even sure if it was worth publishing. (I rarely get that discouraged.)

Lo and behold, when I went through the edits, I realized it was humorous, light-hearted and fun, and didn’t prolong the tension too long. How long could the twin pretend to be her sister? It turned out just right. Tell me if you agree when it comes out.

That’s my most recent example of learning to trust the process.

How many books have you written so far? Do you have a favorite?
I have written forty-six different stories, some of them not yet published, but those have been packaged in sixty-nine different collections. Between Barbour and Forget Me Not, I look even more productive than I am.
You’re asking me to choose a favorite child! I will always be proud of my first book Romanian Rhapsody, and even the second that proved I wasn’t a one-hit wonder (Gunfight at Grace Gulch). But of all the books I’ve written? Oh, that’s so hard. I’m thankful for Dressed in Scarlet—that collection was where we first met. When it finaled in the Book of the Year contest, I decided maybe I could write historical fiction after all, and my career took off.

Yes, and I’ve enjoyed sharing in more than that one collection with you. We have another one coming up in September, Mountain Christmas Brides. Do you have a favorite character?
I love the characters in my Dressed for Death series. I rarely get to visit with the same characters in more than one book, so writing the mystery series was a hoot. In fact, I may revisit Grace Gulch for a second series, with the youngest Wilde sister (Dina) as the sleuth.

Tell us about the story.
Birdie Landry, recently delivered from the life of a soiled dove, is determined to make it on her own without help from anyone—especially a man. She has found purpose in seeking to help others in the life to escape, but she lacks the funds to make it possible. How can storekeeper Ned Finnegan overcome her barriers and win her heart?

Please give us a peek at the first page of the book.
Birdie Landry smoothed her gloved hand over the sign one of her sewing circle friends had made for her: Fresh Eggs Cheaper by the Dozen. She could picture it now, sitting inside the window of Finnegan’s Mercantile, drawing customers in to buy her eggs from Ned.
I’m doing Ned Finnegan a favor. Gerard’s, the other general store in town, didn’t offer eggs. Birdie could have danced for joy when Miss Kate agreed that she could raise chickens on the property. She figured she would have enough eggs to pay for her room at the boardinghouse Miss Kate ran in addition to the diner, and then sell the extras for cash at the mercantile.
Those two-and-a-half-dozen hens represented the first step in bringing Birdie’s dreams for her mission project to life. She hoped and prayed that Ned wouldn’t hold her past against her.
No, Birdie told herself. Her friends—imagine, calling the daughter of a pastor a friend—kept reminding her that she was a child of the King. As in the fairy tales she had loved when she was a girl, that made her a princess. Unlike the stories, she didn’t expect Prince Charming to ride up and save her.
Mr. Finnegan treated her with respect, like any other woman who frequented his store. Mr. Gerard had frequented the Betwixt’n’Between on more than occasion, although he had never requested Birdie’s services.
Every day, Birdie was reminded of her former occupation as she walked the streets of Calico. No matter what route she traveled from the boardinghouse, she passed one of her former clients’ homes. Mrs. Fairfield, the pastor’s wife, encouraged her to pray for the men and the families involved. She called it heaping coals of fire on their hands.
Like the pretty white house standing to her right. The bank president lived in that place. Birdie kept her eyes open as she prayed, hoping to imprint the image of new summer grass and children at play on the lawn over the sight of the man in his long underwear.
The door to the house opened, and Birdie crossed that street. She tugged her sunbonnet forward and kept her gaze focused on her feet. No one else appeared in her line of vision as she turned onto Main Street. Because of the early hour, earlier than most people came to the store, she hoped to catch Mr. Finnegan before he had any customers.
Spotting the deputy sheriff heading down the street, Birdie ducked into the doorway of the mercantile. Mr. Finnegan smiled at her as he unlocked the door. His slight build and kind face matched his occupation.
He opened the door wide and stood back so she could enter. “Good morning, Miss Landry! You’re up and about early today.”
He said that every time she came, although he must guess her reasons for the hour. She shifted the bag holding the sign from one arm to the other and prayed for courage.
“I see you have something in your bag already. Are you wanting to trade?” He walked to his register and leaned forward on his elbows.

I am eager for my copy of the book to arrive. Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @darlenefranklin

Thank you, Darlene, for introducing this new book to us. I always love having you on the blog.

Comments: Have you read any romance collections? If so, which kind of collection is your favorite?

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Valiant Hearts -
The Valiant Hearts Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Love Put to the Test - Amazon
The Valiant Hearts Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Love Put to the Test - Kindle

Leave a comment 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.

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J.C. said...

I LOVE the romance novella collections in this series! I was never really into novella collections until I got the Love is Patient collection in this set. I love it! Can't wait to read this one as well!
J.C. -Indiana-

Karen Hadley said...

I love the way you use scripture to guide your book's theme!

Melanie Backus said...

Darlene is an inspiration to us all. I love her writings. Thank you for this giveaway opportunity.

Melanie Backus, TX

Connie said...

Darlene,I am amazed at how much you do each day and still find the time to craft all of these wonderful stories. Thanks for sharing your latest!
Connie from KY

Darlene Franklin said...

J.C., So glad you enjoyed Love Is Patient! That included one of my stories as well (A Birthday Wish)

Darlene Franklin said...

Karen, Barbour, my first publisher, wanted a Bible verse with each proposal. So that got me into the habit.

Darlene Franklin said...

Aw, Melanie, thanks.

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi Connie, thanks. The breaks are important--I need to recharge my braincells to keep writing.

Heidi Robbins said...

I admire your success in writing Darlene! I love these novella collections from Barbour. My recent favorite is the Lassoed by Marriage Collection :)

Heidi from CA

Bonnie Roof said...

Thanks for an interesting interview, Darlene and Lena!! Congrats on your writing accomplishments, Darlene - you are an inspiration!!

I love all the novella collections - they allow me the opportunity to sample the writing of new (to me) authors and read the work of numerous authors within a relatively short period of time.

Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of 'The Valiant Hearts Romance Collection'!!

Louisville, Ky.

Anonymous said...

angela in ky would love to win.

Caryl Kane said...

Darlene, you are awesome! Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy of 'The Valiant Hearts Romance Collection'!


Mary Preston said...

The collection looks fantastic.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

I have loved the books I have read by Darlene and would love to win her collection. Thank you for the chance.

Cindy W. from Indiana

Sandy Quandt said...

Darlene, what an inspiration you are. I love the way you introduce Birdie. So tender.

Sandy Q TX

Darlene Franklin said...

Heidi, thanks. Barbour does a great job putting collections together. So far I have four more coming out in the next year. Love the title Lassoed by Marriage!

Darlene Franklin said...

Bonnie, Lena does a great job with interviews, doesn't she?

Darlene Franklin said...

Angela, thanks for your interest.

Darlene Franklin said...

Caryl, so I'm "awesome." Because I serve an awesome God, praise to Him.

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi Mary, it's an exciting collection for sure.

Darlene Franklin said...

Cindy, always nice to wave hi to a fan. Thanks.

Darlene Franklin said...

Sandy, thanks for your words about Birdie. I enjoyed telling her story.

Deanna Stevens said...

I do love collections! I'm finding adult coloring a great
addition to my many hobbies too.. :)
Dee S from Nebr.

Jan Hall said...

You are a role model for us all. You Bloom where you are planted.
Jan in West Texas

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Darlene! Great interview. I don't want to be in the drawing because I have Kindle Unlimited, and I can get Valiant Hearts that way. Just wanted to say hello.

Bonnie E.

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi Deanna, I love it, although I'm a lot slower at coloring even than writing. :)

Darlene Franklin said...

Jan, Over the past week, we've lost our TV (fried during a surge) and my computer is refusing to charge. Holds steady at 12% as long as it's plugged in. I probably put too much strain on the cord trying to keep it over my bed at night time so I could watch TV on my computer.

So with limited computer use and no TV, I am finding myself very much at odds and ends, not getting anything down. I should get more down with fewer distractions but . . . I don't handle change well.

Darlene Franklin said...

Bonnie, glad you enjoyed the interview.

Gamer Girl said...

I love Darlene's story collections and look forward to reading this one.

Deanne in PA.

J.C. said...

And I'm so excited because just yesterday I got the Homestead Brides Collection from this series from a half-price books sale! I can't wait to read it!!
J.C. -Indiana-

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi Deanne, glad to have another collection for you!

Darlene Franklin said...

J.C. My story Priceless Pearl is in the Homestead Brides Collection - enjoy!

Abigail Richmond said...

Enter me!
Blanch NC

Darlene Franklin said...

Abigail, good luck!

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway SC.

Bakersdozen said...

I would love to read this book. The introduction has already pulled me in.