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
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. Mexico
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 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? Texas
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
Street. Because of the early hour, earlier than
most people came to the store, she hoped to catch Mr. Finnegan before he had
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?
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Valiant Hearts - Christianbook.com
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
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