Calico Brides by Darlene Franklin
I'm pleased to have Darlene Franklin with us today. Darlene Franklin is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-six books, has been published in twenty more, and has written more that 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont.
JO: Welcome, Darlene. What three fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?
DARLENE: I think I’m unique in that I write full-time from my home at a nursing home. I sleep with a teddy bear named Michael. “Michael” was my daughter’s favorite boy’s name, and the bear is one of her last gifts to me before she died. My nickname is “Pancho Villa” because I wear a blue poncho to keep warm.
JO: Please describe yourself with three words.
DARLENE: creative, driven (with writing), compassionate
JO: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
DARLENE: I love to read and watch TV (especially reality shows). I also like a good bingo game every now and then.
JO: How did you become involved in writing?
DARLENE: I’ve always written—TV take offs as a child, newspaper as a young adult—but I began writing seriously, every day, in the wake of my divorce 22 years ago.
JO: Where do you write: Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?
DARLENE: I usually write at a table in our lobby, which has the only electrical outlets. Lately, though, I’ve been restricted to my room for health reasons, so I write at my bedside table.
JO: Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?
DARLENE: Unfortunately, yes. I say “unfortunately” only because I have to come up with a title as part of the proposal process. The right title can capture an editor’s interest, but it’s hard. I often don’t know the best title for the story at that point. Of course, I’ve had editors change titles before. Since the title is a marketing tool, I appreciate the input from the professionals.
JO: Please tell us about Calico Brides.
DARLENE: While sowing good deeds, four Kansas women reap romance. Gladys Polson helps a crotchety widower. Annie Bliss knits for soldiers. Birdie Landry sews dresses for saloon girls looking for a career change. Schoolteacher Ruth Fairfield takes on three orphan children and their new guardian. How will God stitch love into their lives?
JO: What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?
DARLENE: Missions begin at home! Whom do you know in need (physical, emotional, spiritual) that you can serve?
JO: Where did you get the idea for your book?
DARLENE: I wanted to write a prairie romance collection, and what says “prairie” more than Kansas and calico? A sewing circle with a common goal was a logical fit for the novella format, and so my mind went to one of my favorite themes: missions.
Gladys seeks to serve a crotchety old hermit who happens to be the richest man in town.
Annie wants to knit mittens and scarves for men serving at the nearby fort.
Birdie wants to give other saloon girls a chance to “leave the life” by making them dresses suitable for respectable women.
Ruth wants to make clothes for children who lost everything in a fire.
JO: Did you have to do any research for this book?
DARLENE: Not a lot, only to confirm things like the presence of forts, newspapers, and colleges in Kansas in the 1870s.
JO: How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
DARLENE: I’ve been writing seriously for 22 years. I sold my first article (a devotion) in 1993, but I didn’t contract my first book until 2003. That is now a decade ago. 30 books and 200 devotionals later . . . praise the Lord!
JO: What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?
DARLENE: That’s going to depend on the person. Write every day, if you can, but on a regular basis. Feel free to experiment with different genres. Attend and join writer’s groups where you will grow and make invaluable contacts. Get involved with a critique group.
And the basic advice never changes: A good writer reads, reads, reads, and writes, writes, writes.
The writing muse can be a harsh mistress. I’ve spent years chasing the dream and letting too many other things go. But if you can’t stop writing—keep writing.
Oh, and a final thought: if you’ve spent several years on one book, move on to another book. Your first book is unlikely to sell in any case. You continue growing as a writer and learning more about marketing.
JO: What are you working on now?
DARLENE: I just turned in the manuscript for Homefront Dreams to my editor. So I get to spend a month or so working on proposals before beginning my next contracted book. I need to complete a synopsis for a proposal requested by the editor at Love Inspired Historical. Then I need to write two chapters each for that proposal and also for a book ready to contract with Heartsong.
JO: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?
DARLENE: See above. Don’t worry so much about publishing your book. Learn the trade. And the best ways to improve, besides handing with other writers, are to read and write.
JO: Please tell our readers where they can get your book.
JO: Please tell our readers where they can find you online.
Also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.
JO: Any parting comment?
DARLENE: Thanks for having me as your guest today! In addition to fiction, I write a daily devotion at http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com. I’d love to have you join me in feasting on the Word of God.
JO: Thank you, Darlene, for spending time with my readers. Darlene has graciously given me a copy of Calico Brides, which one of the commenters on this blog post will win in a random drawing.
Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 9, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Calico Brides by Darlene Franklin. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s blog.
Till next time … keep on smiling.