Thursday, September 10, 2009

WILD WEST CHRISTMAS - Kathleen Y'Barbo, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Vickie McDonough - Free Books

I've really been looking forward to featuring this book. It's my first whole story set in Texas where I live and I was really blessed by the team I worked with. Welcome, Kathleen. How did your story for the collection come about?

When we began planning the novella, I was fascinated with the characters the other ladies were crafting. The sisters were women of such strength, and they seemed to be naturally good at things they loved to do. So what, I wondered, would it be like to be that one sister who never really knew what that self-assured confidence was like. Worse, what if a childish playground taunt had followed you into adulthood and made you absolutely certain you were truly “Bessie Mae, plain as day?” And what if the boy who thought up that taunt returns to town as a full grown Texas Ranger and is struck speechless by a Bess he doesn’t even recognize?

And that really worked well in the book. What are you reading right now?

I’m reading Swinging On a Star by Janice Thompson for endorsement. I am absolutely in LOVE with this book. Here’s the story line: Bella Rossi's life is nearing perfection. She's got the perfect guy, she's running a successful business, and she's about to plan her most ambitious wedding yet, a Renaissance-themed fairy tale come true, complete with period costumes and foods, horse-drawn carriages, and even a castle. There's just one hitch. The best man just happens to be Brock Benson, Hollywood's hottest and most eligible bachelor. Oh, and did we mention he's staying at the Rossi house to avoid the paparazzi?

With all the pressure surrounding this wedding, Bella's not sure she's going to make it through. Add her starstruck sister, her feuding aunt and uncle, and a trio of large, sequined church ladies with even bigger personalities, and you've got a recipe for disaster--and a lot of laughs. This hilarious romantic comedy is sure to delight both fans and new readers alike.

I can hardly wait to read it. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve written more than three dozen historical and contemporary romances as well as two nonfiction books on empty nest and divorce.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

These ladies were great! We worked hard to create a setting and a group of characters that remained consistent in each story. That’s tough, but worth it!

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I am always thrilled to work with talented writers. Lena, Vickie, and Darlene certainly fit in that category. Their writing inspired me to do my best.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I chose Bess’s name because it fit in the rhyme I envisioned for the back story. Joe, the hero, had to have a name that fit the German ancestry of the area. Since my maiden name is Miller, I decided on Mueller for the last name then Josef came next.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

That even the ugly duckling can become a beautiful swan. It is all about Who you listen to.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes, I was in on ACFW from the beginning. My membership number is 8!

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Writers write! Works every time.

Now it's my time to answer the questions. How did your story for the collection come about?

I can’t remember who came up with the idea for our story, but I know that we all wanted to write about cowgirls. When we created the family, I chose the youngest in the family and made her a paradox—a complete tomboy, but at the same time very feminine. My hero had to be from back East and couldn’t understand her tomboy ways. Great conflict there.

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a novel by one of my favorite authors for endorsement (while getting ready for back-to-back conferences).

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I only have one book that hasn’t been published, my second one. But I’ve been published two dozen times. Check the books out at:

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Making sure that the details that appear in all four stories match. For more than one novella, I’ve taken the input from the other authors and drawn a map of the town. I did for Horsefly, Texas, which we all used. Before we finished writing the collection, I had also drawn a map of the ranch and a houseplan for the ranch house.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I love all three of these women, so working with them was a pure pleasure. For a historical wild-west story, they’re the dream team.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I needed a specific kind of name for the heroine, and I found just the right one to fit the situation, and the heroes name needed to be stuffy sounding.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Don’t judge people from outward appearances. Do like God does, look at their hearts.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes. My membership number is 42, so I joined within three months of the beginning. I love this organization for all the ways it helps authors, both published and pre-published. And I’m looking forward to seeing my many special friends at the national conference in Denver next week.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Spend time with the Lord, then write with your heart.

Now I'm welcoming Darlene Franklin. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Most of my characters include a bit of myself, but none of them are autobiographical in the least.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I don’t see myself as quirky; of course not, I’m perfectly normal! Let’s see. I didn’t get my driver’s license until I was 23. That was weird, because in America a driver’s license is the closest thing we have as a rite of passage to adulthood.
During those college years, and in fact until I married and drove my husband’s car, I went everywhere by bus. My parents lived in Maine and I went to graduate school in Texas. I traveled by bus from Mexico City (where I spent the summer) to Maine; from Florida to Texas; and so on. Great memories.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

Does it count that I saved the first story I ever wrote when I was in second grade? Like many writers, I have written all my life. A girlfriend and I swapped letters with a continuing story about Star Trek (classic Star Trek, I’m dating myself.) I even wrote society news for a small town newspaper when my son was small. But I date the true beginning of my writing career from the days after my divorce. I poured out my heart on paper, and I couldn’t stop writing after that.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I read more mysteries than anything else. All kinds—suspense, cozy, private eye, thrillers. I have to force myself to read other things. I also read quite a bit of romance, a bit of historical and Christian nonfiction, memoirs.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

My first book came out of the pain of my divorce and healing from abuse, God’s Broken Heart. After that, I dived into fiction, developing one of my childhood stories—Strong Medicine, about a female medical student in 1876 Denver.

My first published book, Romanian Rhapsody, came next. (It wasn’t published for years after I wrote it, however.) I wrote a sequel, Plain Song. Then I wrote my two favorite unpublished books: Calm Before the Storm, romantic suspense about a male amnesia victim and the doctor who is trying to help him. And Night Burning, a novel about two brothers who took opposite sides during the Montgomery bus boycott, and the woman they both love. I've been part of several Christmas novellas published by Barbour.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

Sane? Who’s sane? (Can one be quirky and sane at the same time?)
When things get too busy, I freak out, I confess. Sometimes all I need to do is to have a quiet praise time, humming worship songs to myself. That often jolts me out of focusing on my problems and on Almighty God. I may choose to stay home when I’m supposed to be somewhere else (church, writers group). I make sure I get 8-9 hours of sleep a night. And I keep my commitments to a minimum.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I didn’t think a lot about choosing names when I wrote my first (published) book, Romanian Rhapsody. But since then I discovered a tendency to give all my characters very British sounding names. So I make myself look elsewhere. I may look at the immigrants who first settled that portion of the country. Or if I find a first name that I like (Blaine), I’ll choose a last name that shares the same ethnicity (Irish: Kelvern).

One of the more unusual techniques I’ve tried is using the letters on license plates as my characters initials. “NC” became Nathan Currier; “FM,” Ford Murdoch. Play around with them; FO can migrate into Franz Orbach, Fernando Olivarez, Finola O’Sullivan or Felicity Owen.
I keep an alphabet list to avoid giving characters the same initial.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

The simplest is the best. Read, read, read and write, write, write. Simply writing every day improves your writing, especially when you start studying the craft and join a critique group.

Now we're welcoming Vickie McDonough.

How did your story for the collection come about?
I’ve had my story sitting on the burner for a while, and this collection was the perfect fit for it. It’s the story of a young woman who is only good a training horses. She finds her world tilting when her father hires a half-breed to replace her.

What are you reading right now?
The Blue Enchantress By M.L. Tyndall

I love that book. What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve written 8 Heartsong novels and 8 novella collections. If you’d like more info about my books, please visit my website:

Also coming out this fall is a Christmas novella collection called A Blue and Gray Christmas, which is has a Civil War setting.

Next April, my first long fiction book called The Anonymous Bride will be release.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

Some collections are fairly easy because the stories aren’t tied together other than the theme. Ones like Wild West Christmas are much harder. You have to make sure the ranch house, ranch setting, and town setting stays the same in all four stories, as well as the looks and personalities of the characters. Each author reads the other stories to make sure everything is accurate.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I got to take a trip to Fredericksburg, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country to do some research. My husband and I had a good time seeing the sights and doing research. I also got to work with a fabulous team of authors. That was fun.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

It varies. I look at their ethnicity sometimes, which is what I did for Carson Romero. Carson reflects in mother’s Scottish heritage while Romero shows his father’s Mexican heritage.

Sometimes, the location plays a factor. Where my character grew up is also an important factor. Sometimes I just research an online Baby Name’s sight and search until I find a name that seems to fit the character.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Sometimes God has different and better plans for our lives than we can believe is possible.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes! Because it’s the greatest fiction writers group in the world!

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
My agent, Chip MacGregor, once said in a conference, that all writers need a Paul, a Timothy, and a Barnabas. Within our circle of writer friends we each need someone to encourage us who’s further along than us, a peer who is on a similar level, and we need to be helping someone who isn’t as far along as we are.
Thank you, teammates, for allowing readers to have a peek inside your world.
Readers, here's a link where you can order Wild West Christmas:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.

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 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Marjorie said...

This book sounds delightful, please
count me in this great giveaway.

Abi said...

Oh, I love Christmas stories, western settings add to it. Please count me in this book sounds so good. Thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Carmen7351 said...

The ugly duckling turns into a swan! Sounds like a goodie to read.
please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Connie said...

I would love a chance to win this book! Please enter me in the giveaway!


Michelle V said...

This book sounds great! I would love to be entered.


Lena Nelson Dooley said...

Either y'all are on the east coast, or you get up really early. Thanks for dropping by. I thinik you'll love this book.

It's really selling. Pre-orders sold out all of Amazon's original order.

Darlene Franklin said...

I was thinking the same thing, Lena! Good morning all! I know I really enjoyed the stories in this book and I believe you will too.

Anonymous said...

Please enter my name in your wonderful draw. I would love to win this book. Thanks.

Debra said...

This book sounds wonderful! I love Christmas stories.Please enter my name in the drawing. Thanks!


Renee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Renee said...

Oooooh a historical Christmas anthology! This looks great! I'd love to read it!

XOXO~ Renee

Laney4 said...

Hi! Thanks for offering another great book! Christmas stories have always seemed like "good reads" to me, so having them in the "Wild West" is even better! The best part? Usually a series of books have to be bought separately (and hopefully you can FIND them all), but with this one, all four of your stories are included under one cover for our reading pleasure. Thanks again!

Cherie J said...

Wonderful interview! Sounds like another great Christmas anthology. I look forward to these every year. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

Virginia said...

Sounds like a great collaboration! I love Christmas, and I love the Old West, so this is truly my cup of tea! Please enter my name in the giveaway. gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Sheila Deeth said...

Sounds like a lot of effort went into keeping the people and setting consistent. I'd love to read these at Christmas.

G.R.I.T.S. said...

I love christmas stories!!!! I hope to win!!!!! Sounds like a great bunch of stories!!!

rae byuel

raspberrygirl said...

I would love a chance to win this book. I love Christmas! Please enter me to win. Thank you so much!

And congrats to the winner(s)!!

JenniferB said...

This book sounds great, I would love to read it. Please enter me, thanks so much

ejxd95 at gmail dot com

Anna W. said...

Sounds great! Please enter me!

Anna W.

Vickie McDonough said...

Thanks for all your nice comments about our anthology. This was a fun one to write, and I really think y'all will enjoy reading it. Good luck to everyone in the book drawing!

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Another Christmas anthology for me to drool over ~ and a western theme no less! Woo-hoo! Please enter me! :)

~ Lori


bigguysmama said...

These stories sounds so wonderful!! Please enter me to win!

Mimi B
mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com

Ausjenny said...

Oh Please enter me I love the cover and this books looks so good.
One way or the other I will get this book! have been looking at the cost to buy in america and have them shipped.
I love westerns too.

Wendy said...

Looks like a fun book!

Anonymous said...

This book sounds awesome! Can't wait to read it Lena!

Darlene Franklin said...

Hi to everyone who has stopped by! I hope you all have a chance to get a copy and enjoy the stories. We had a lot of fun writing them.

Carly Kendall said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. Thank you.

lastnerve said...

WOW! Awesome authors. The book looks so good. Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year and I love reading Christmas stories!


Megan said...

I love the Christmas novellas! Thanks so much for featuring them and interviewing these great women. I love the first paragraph about the women who believes the taunts & then the guy who is speechless. Iw ant to read that book!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like another wonderful Christmas story. I'd love to read it.


Buukluvr81 said...

Please enter me in the contest! Would love to read this book! I love Christmas time and reading about it too! :-)


Brenda said...

This sounds like a great book!
dancealert at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

Sounds great.

peachykath said...

That was a great interview. Please enter me in the drawing for this book.


Julie said...

Sounds great! Sign me up.


Carole said...

With all of you gals contributing to this Christmas collection, it's gotta be good! Thank you for the interesting interview and chance to win a copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

adge said...

Interesting interview. please count me in. Thanks. And that's great about it already selling.

Marla said...

Love Christmas stories. Please include me in the drawing. Thank you!