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Sunday, September 26, 2010

I expected this to be a significant week in my writing career. I was a finalist in the ACFW Carol awards and I had reasonable expectations to hear from two editors about proposals (saying "yes," please, God!)

Last Sunday night I followed the live blog from the ACFW awards banquet. The mystery category was one of the last two or three or the night ... a long wait.

The honor went to a deserving A.K. Arenz, for The Case of the Mystified M.D.

Take a deep breath. I truly had not expected to win, but the hope refused to die.

Then ... the message I hoped for on Monday, about my agent's meeting with the editor, finally arrived on Friday.

And she hasn't done more than skim the proposal yet. Still pending.

The second proposal? No word on that either.

All of this while I am battling discouragement about my current "WIP" (work in progress for those unfamiliar with writers' acronyms). A book that is due on Thursday. I haven't felt well, but the book is due. I must write, whether or not I'd rather crawl back into bed.

Looking back at it, I realize I shouldn't have singled out this past week. I will, or won't, get the contract. I have books under contract that I must write. God's timing will be just right.

My heart jumped ahead of my head. God still has a lot to teach me.

**FYI: Good News this week: I received copies of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. Go to my last post and leave a comment with your favorite cat story for a chance to win a copy in addition to the monthly book drawings**

Thursday, September 23, 2010


A box of books from Barbour awaited me outside my door this morning. I hadn't ordered any. Too early to have copies of Bridge to Love yet (besides, the box was too big for that book). It finally clicked. Must be one of the devotionals

I have many copies of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. I have had a cat all through my life, including my current "owner," Talia. I contributed 4 stories about my various feline companions to this book.

So ... in addition to the "one free book for 15 comments" this month, I am offering a copy of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul to one lucky cat lover out there. Tell me why you're a cat lover. (Beverly, I know this challenge will appeal to you. The rest of you, surprise me!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby Isaiah

Oh, the joys of being a Grandma.

On Friday, the 8th day after Isaiah's birth, Jaran and Shelley took Isaiah to the doctor for his circumcision. I joined them, as well as Jaran's father and his new wife.

The doctor wouldn't let us in while she performed the procedure, but after Jaran brought him out, he held a small ceremony. He read the Genesis account of God giving Abraham the rite of circumcision, and then he said a blessing in Hebrew, a prayer that Isaiah will follow the Torah and come to know Yeshua his Savior. John (grandfather) also said a prayer.

A hospital chaplain overheard us, and she came over to rejoice with us. She kept saying how wonderful it was for us to do this for the baby.

From there we went to "Abuelo's" (my suggestion, since the "abuelos" means "grandparents and since Shelley loves Mexican food). I took my second sip of wine ever (my first was at Jaran's wedding) and toasted my precious grandson.

A beautiful occasion, one to be treasured.

**FYI. I am the featured guest at and at Leave a comment for a chance to win A Woodland Christmas. Also, leave a comment here.**

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Linore Rose Burkard and I met a few years ago when she featured a blurb from my first book, Romanian Rhapsody, on a Christmas blog. Today I am pleased to have her as my guest. Her book, The House in Grosvenor Square, tied for second place in this year’s IRCC, the Reader’s Choice award for Christian novelists.

The House in Grosvenor Square is set in Regency London. Tell us a little bit more about that time period and that literary genre.
The regency is a marvelous period with its own distinct style of dress, manners, speech, and social customs, as well as politics, literature, entertainment, and so on. It begins, technically, when George, the Prince of Wales became Regent in 1811, and ends when he became King in 1820. For such a short historical period, it is a favorite era for romance novelists and draws a wide following of fiercely loyal readers who know their stuff.

Regencies aren’t all that common in Christian fiction. Did you run into any unusual problems in marketing your book?
Due to the newness of the genre in the Christian market, I did run into many people who were totally unfamiliar with a “regency.” Readers who would love my book didn’t recognize they they’d love it, as the setting was so new for them. By reminding them that the regency is the period in which Jane Austen’s novels, by and large, take place, it helped them to get a handle on the genre. They started to recognize that they actually LOVE this time period. And there were, actually, lots of fans of the genre who welcomed a Christian regency with open arms, even joy.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve just submitted a contemporary romance to my agent, and now I’m finishing up a regency time-travel which has been on my heart for years.

Regency time travel! What a fascinating idea!What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
Hearing from readers who really “get” what I do, and reading their descriptions of how how they love the books. It’s like a shot in the arm every time. I don’t know of any greater reward than making people happy, particularly when it involves their spiritual lives. I’ve had a lot of feedback regarding people who were spiritually blessed by the books, and that is my greatest joy.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?
I take breaks from writing. There are lots of people who say you should write every day, and I suppose that in small ways, I do. Either blogging or just answering email is writing. But I do take breaks from novel writing, sometimes shockingly long breaks, I mean, months. I used to say that doing the actual writing of a book took the least amount of time of everything I do as an author. And that may still be true. So much time needs to be spent on marketing, networking, blogging, professional email, etc., that doing the actual writing can be a joy, and yet one of the least time-consuming things on my agenda. Some novels take more work than others, however.

As a Christian author, prayer and Bible study is not only vital but rejuvenating, and keeping up with other authors is encouraging. Like anyone, an author needs rest and exercise, but on the flip side we may need more “alone” time than other people. As an author yourself, you probably know what I mean. : )

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
I’m hoping they’ll see my contemporary romance out by even next summer if possible; and then the time-travel. The time-travel is a blast and my beta readers are crazy about it.

My website has free resources for readers so I hope many of you will stop by, and while you’re there, get on my mailing list. I send out occasional illustrated newsletters, and of course you’ll be informed of new books right away. I also give a free download when you sign up that you’ll get automatically after doing so.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

I think being published has been very affirming, and it certainly helped me see that writing is a gift that needs to be nurtured and exercised; it isn’t just a weird thing I like to do now and then. It’s a calling, a vocation, a responsibility, and a gift. I thank God for giving me this calling, and I pray He uses my work to bless, encourage and challenge my readers.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Darlene! Just want to mention that my first two books are available for ebook readers through Amazon (Kindle) and on, if not elsewhere.

Monday, September 13, 2010


August saw me revert to my mystery roots, with a deadline looming. I read books by Robin Cook and Mary Higgins Clark, usually dependable, that were only so-so.

Fortunately for me, I also read two fellow finalists for the Carol award in the mystery category. They were both very enjoying. (In fact, I've decided I have zero to no chance of winning). Check out Mindy Starns Clark's mystery, Under the Cajun Moon. She did every thing I tried to do in Gunfight at Grace Gulch (not my finalist)--tying history in with a contemporary mystery--only better. Kept me turning the pages to the end.

And for excellence in a cozy mystery, I enjoyed The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A.K. Arenz. Having a grandma for a heroine didn't hurt either!

Also this month I read Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis (interviewed about this book in July). As Susan's critique partner, I'm always amazed when I come back and read the finished book, as I would any other book, in great chunks at a time. She's a terrific writer and she certainly delivers in this story of espionage and danger in the years leading up to WWI.

For a different take on a mail order bride story, check out The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris. A young woman is forced to leave the only home she has ever known--an orphanage--and go west as a mail order bride. Before she reaches her husband to be, her stagecoach is robbed by a vigilante. Harris weaves the complexity of what makes a hero or a villain in this fascinating tail of the old west.

**A reminder: Leave a comment on any or all posts this month for your chance to win one of Darlene's books or Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough**

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NEWS FLASH: Different kind of interview & book giveaway

Long time friend Pat Gonzales (writing as Patti Shene) interviewed me regarding Prodigal Patriot. We discovered a common passion about spiritual gifts. Stop by, read, leave a comment - hoping to see you there!

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Isaiah Jaran Franklin entered this world on Thursday night at 8:48 PM. A whopping 9 lbs. 7 ozs., 21". He looks a lot like his sister Jordan, except he has lots of hair. Mom and baby are doing well.

Jaran (my son) says: "Our prayer is that he will grow up to cry out (Jaran) 'The Lord is salvation' (Isaiah) so that all may be free men (Franklin)."

I'm in love.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I am delighted to welcome Vickie McDonough to my blog today. Vickie is a fellow Oklahoman, a good friend, and a collaborator on the Christmas anthology, Wild West Christmas.

As far as I know, you have written historical romance exclusively. What draws you to that genre?
Women of the Old West had to be tough and resourceful to survive, and I enjoy reading their stories. I’ve always loved horses, and as a kid and young teen, I read any book I could find that had a horse on the cover. Also, my dad and I watched the westerns of the late 1960s and early ’70s, and I suppose it was then that I fell in love with ranchers and cowboys. Also, as I discovered Christian fiction in the 1980's, I gravitated toward historicals with western settings. It’s still my favorite genre to read, and I guess it just comes natural that I’d write historicals.

I do have a contemporary book out: A Wagonload of Trouble, which is a Heartsong Presents novel, and I’m also in a contemporary novella in a collection called Kiss the Cook Bride.

Earlier this year (April 25) I reviewed The Anonymous Bride, the first book in the Texas Boardinghouse series. What inspired these stories?
I was searching for a new book idea, and asked myself a question:
What if a mail-order bride arrived in town to marry a man who never ordered a bride?
Then I took it a step further and asked: What if three women arrived to marry the same man?

I wondered how such a thing might feasibly happen, and the story kept growing until The Anonymous Bride was birthed. It just made sense that in future books, I let readers know what happened to the mail-order brides who didn’t get married.

You had the unique privilege of an editor approaching you about writing longer books. Did you have any plans for longer books?
Yes, I had hoped to one day move into writing longer books and am very grateful for the opportunities Barbour Publishing has given me.

What adjustments did you have to make between writing Heartsong length novels (45-50K) and writing trade length books?
In The Anonymous Bride, I told the main story, but I also let readers see the mail-order brides in their normal lives before they came to Lookout(my fictional town) and once they arrived, so that gave me several extra points-of-view, which increased my word count. In Second Chance Brides and Finally A Bride, I had two plot lines going that wove in and around each other. Basically, there’s more to the story and you can developed situations better in a longer book.

What are you currently working on?
I just turned in Finally A Bride, book 3 in my series and then I completed copy edits on a South Carolina historical called Mutiny of the Heart. It’s the first in a Heartsong series and releases in December. Next, I’ll be writing the second book in the SC series, which is called Indigo Dreams.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
It’s hugely rewarding to see my books in print and to know that after I’m gone, my books will still be circulating and hopefully touching people’s hearts. Something I didn’t anticipate when I first became a writer was all the friends I’d make in the writing world, like you, Darlene. I’ve been blessed to get to know some of my favorite authors and have made some very dear friends.

I know what you mean. I've been privileged to be one of your friends. Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?
I definitely pray a lot that God will give me creativity and allow my books to touch hearts. I’m almost always reading a book. I love to go to movies and watch my favorite shows on TV. I tend to get all kinds of ideas when I’m in the shower.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer?
I think writing and getting published has given me more self-confidence. A long time ago, I went through some difficult things that left me wounded and feeling almost worthless. When I first started writing, I didn’t know if I could even finish a book. Then I did and wondered if I had it in me to write another one. Honestly, I still wonder that every time I start a book, but now I have the assurance that I’ve done it in the past, so I can do it again, with God’s help.

The added income has enabled me to fix some things around the house and to be able to travel more, which is something I never got to do much and always wanted to. I’ve gone on a number of research trips and been able to attend some out-of-state conferences like the ACFW one, which I attend every year.

Other than that, I don’t think writing has changed me much. I’m still scared to death if I have to get up in front of a group and talk. I’m still primary caregiver for my mom and babysit my granddaughter. Still mom to four mostly grown-up boys, and as of October, I’ll have been married 35 years to a sweet computer geek.

Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?
I still have to work hard. Have to keep thinking up new ideas. There are no guarantees in the writing world, so I have to keep trusting God to open doors.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?

Prayer helps a lot. I ask God for strength to keep going, especially in the rough times.
Deadlines are a powerful motivator. I’ve never been late for a deadline before, so that motivates me to keep working, to get my book finished, and turned in on time.
Take-out food is my friend, and I’m grateful that my family doesn’t whine about eating pizza when I don’t have time to cook. Brainstorming with my friends is a huge help when I get bogged down and need to look at a story from a different angles.
Did I mention prayer?

What can readers expect to see next from you?
Second Chance Brides releases this month, followed by Finally a Bride, the last book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, next April. I’m also in a Christmas novella collection called Christmas Mail Order Brides, which also releases this month. Next comes my historical South Carolina series from Heartsong Presents. I have a couple of other things in the works but can’t talk about them yet.

Where can people find you on the internet?
My website is
I’m also a regular contributor to a western-themed Christian blog called Bustles and Spurs.

I’m putting together a email mailing list for a newsletter, which I hope to start soon. If anyone would like to be on the list, please email me at or leave a comment here with your email address.

Darlene, thanks so much for letting stop me by and be a guest on your blog.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Today it is my privilege to introduce you to Erin Rainwater. She managed to get a book published about that not-quite-historical-not-quite-contemporary time period, the 1950s--Refining Fires. Kudos to her!

Tell me more about your latest release, Refining Fires.

All authors try to make their stories unique, and I am no exception. I think I really pulled it off this time. It’s different in that it consists of three distinct parts. It’s almost (but not quite) like a combination of three short stories, each with its own main characters, where God weaves their lives together into a tapestry that glorifies Him. You might say they are all love stories in some form, but the first, titled “Refining Fires,” is what your readers would consider a romance. A disfigured war veteran reluctantly hires a nurse with a ruined professional reputation. She’s never had a patient so challenging as him, but her options are limited—nil, actually—and she has no choice but to stick it out with him. Her determined efforts help this bitter hero (in the real sense of the word) redefine himself, evoking a raw yearning in his soul while eliciting renewed life from his body. You’ll then meet Susannah, a nine-year-old mountain girl with more “Blind Courage” than she realizes. She must overcome her worst fears in order to save her mama’s life. When things go from bad to worse, she meets a couple whose love has an immense impact on her future. You might not find the “Kept Woman” so likeable at first, but once you learn how she got to where she is, you, like the child and the former love who come into her life, will find she’s worthy of redemption as she learns just Who has been keeping her all along. Paths cross and lives intertwine in these stories, showing how God’s hand is ever on us, leading and refining. Refining Fires goes beyond the simple romance formula, showing how a couple’s love spills over into and impacts the lives of those God brings into their path.

On your website, you say that you’re a student of Krav Maga. Tell me more about that.

I’m less active in it now, sorry to say, but Krav Maga is a self-defense and fighting system developed by and for the Israeli Defense Forces (or IDF). It is extremely effective and brutally taxing (I know I’ve just used up my ration of ‘ly’ words, but this deserves them!). It stretches you waaay beyond any limits you think you had, and teaches you to never give up. Training includes heavy metal rock music blaring in the room, which at first is unnerving, but that’s the point. They provide a stressful environment so that your brain gets trained to handle the stress and to focus despite numerous distractions. Every IDF soldier gets trained in Krav Maga as part of their mandatory service. I can see why!

Your story is set during the 1950s. You called the Korean War “the forgotten war.” What drew you to write about that not-quite-historical, not-quite-contemporary time period?

I was fortunate to grow up in the 1950s, and I still love those olden days. Perhaps it’s because I saw them through the eyes of innocence. But I also chose that time period because I love to share history when I write, and that is a neglected time period in fiction markets. And yes, the Korean War—or “police action” as it was called then—is often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” being sandwiched between the “good war” (WWII) and the politically charged Vietnam War. In some small way I’d like to pay tribute to the aging men and women who served during that war, which began sixty years ago this summer. Anyone who has a chance to visit the Korean War memorial in Washington, D.C. should go. It is a most incredible site to behold.

You’re also a veteran. How has your background as a nurse, veteran, Christian woman impacted your writing?

My Christian world view has a great impact, although my stories for the most part don’t contain the plan of salvation or get preachy. I have to admit, though, that the 3rd story in Refining Fires does go there. I hadn’t planned it that way, but it was one of those times all authors can relate to when a story takes on a life of its own and leads you where it wants to go. Actually, I think it’s more about where God wants it to go. I have had some incredible and unusual experiences throughout my nursing career and while I served in the Army, and some of them made their way onto the pages of my books.

Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

The outdoors ranks high up there. Rocky Mountain panoramas, babbling streams with sunshine reflecting off the water, the various seasonal changes of nature—all make me reflect on God’s magnificence, which is both revitalizing to my soul and encouraging to my spirit. Taking my darling grandkids there for a picnic adds to the effect.

I was privileged to live in that Rocky Mountain splendor myself. Now I am looking for beauty right here in Oklahoma. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

Right now my focus is on collaborating with a theater producer in Pittsburgh who is translating scenes from my Civil War novel, True Colors, onto the stage. I earned that honor by capturing the Gold Medal in Historical Fiction last year from the Military Writers Society of America. And readers can always find me at my “virtual fireside” at I hope readers will feel right at home and feel free to contact me from there.

***Erin's book is available for purchase at***

Monday, September 6, 2010


I'm the guest blogger at today. My subject: work smarter, not harder.

I also have an interview and book giveaway (A Woodland Christmas) up at

What My Cat Has Taught Me: Lesson # ???

Every morning when I wake up, my cat Talia springs into action. She jumps onto the bed, ready for her best petting time of the day. Then when I stand, she jumps down. She moves ahead of me by a few inches and waits for me to catch up.

Talia knows me well enough to predict where I am headed. She's always hopeful I will go to the kitchen, where she can request more food; but she's equally prepared to walk to the study or the living room. She occasionally nips my heals when I go to the bathroom. When she's not certain, she plunks down on the floor, filling the doorway.

Since I am somewhat uncertain on my feet, I wish she wouldn't do that. I have to step over her, and that sometimes invites an attack on my foot with her claws and teeth.

Every now and then she guesses wrong. She's certain I'm going to the study and instead I go out to the front door. She runs to catch up.

This is a routine that I am sure any cat lover recognizes, one that's been repeated every morning of my life with Talia. This morning, though, I thought, wow, that's like my walk with God.

How so? Three things jumped to my mind.

Whereever I am, there Talia is. Watching me. Waiting for me. So also, the Lord is always with me. I can't escape Him. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Talia waits for signals, then moves with me. In the same way, God promises to whisper in my ear. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21, NIV)

Sometimes Talia guesses wrong and heads off in the wrong direction. Sometimes I assume God is going to behave in a certain way, but He surprises me.

More life lessons from my constant companion, my cat.