WRITING TIPS AND NEWS

Note to my readers: Starting with my next writing tips post (on December 28th), guest bloggers will offer you writing tips.  I will continue to keep you up to date with my writing life.

Darlene Franklin snowbound colorado christmas         Since this is my last writing tip for awhile, I’ll offer you a ChristmasDarlene Franklin woodland christmas gift of where I find ideas for a yearly stream of novellas. Because when I started, I wondered how anyone came up with new ideas year after year. Now I can’t imagine not writing them.

So let’s start with the obvious source for ideas: the original Christmas story. There are many directions to take. So far I’ve looked at a very young Mary looking forward to marrying her best friend’s older brother. Another time, a single mother is ashamed of giving birth out of wedlock. More recently, Darlene Franklin christmas at barncastle innthree wise women from the east arrived bearing gifts for Christmas.Darlene Franklin postmark christmas

Other years, Bible stories that have no bearing on the Christmas story inspired my novellas. Want snow? How about the woman who dressed in red long johns during a blizzard like the virtuous women. Even Eliezer’s visit to Ur to find a bride ended up in a Christmas story.

Of course, they can’t all be that spiritual . . .

A few times, the story ends on ChrDarlene Franklin gifts of christmasistmas day, but isn’t central to the story.

Towns named Darlene Franklin christmas potpourriafter Christmas, let me count the ways: I chose Christmas, Florida, and later, Bethlehem, Texas. I even have a series of books set in towns fitting in with the holiday: My Candy Valentine in Loveland, OK; Love’s Glory in Old Glory, TX; Tobogganing for Two in Plymouth, NE.

Christmas traditions find their way into the stories—angels and gifts, music and Christmas cards.

Do you have any family stories that center around Christmas? I would love to hear about them.

WRITING NEWS

I completed NANO and the book! Case Closed weighed in at 54,800 words. My next projects are a devotional based on Genesis and Exodus to be published in January and a novella about one of the “tea events” in 1774. (The Boston Tea Party wasn’t the only one. Mine is in Greenwich, NJ).

I have been published twice in the webzine, Pastor Resources. A place I never expected to be, but they keep looking for articles that reflect on something I’ve been studying in the Bible. For the latest article, a reflection on the recent shootings in California, check out http://www.pastorresources.com/where-is-god/

I “read” my 1st-grade granddaughter’s book of stories in the cat journal I had given her—the next generation of writers!

Upcoming Guest Blog Posts and Holidays

December 14-20: Jacob’s Christmas Dream and An Advent Journey through Matthew are featured at http://www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com/ all week long, complete with a giveaway of both books.

December 16: My devotional, “Take It Out of the Drawer,” will appear on http://www.gingersolomon.com/blog/. Jacob’s Christmas Dream is being given away

December 18: Interview and giveaway concerning Jacob’s Christmas Dream will appear at www.liztolsma.com .

December 23: An inspirational piece will appear on Jennifer Slattery’s blog  Jennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud

December 24: National Chocolate Day – enjoy my novella about a chocolatier, My Candy Valentine. http://www.amazon.com/Candy-Valentine-Holidays-Heart-Book-ebook/dp/B00SI2214K/

December 25: Merry Christmas!

ADVENT DEVOTIONS AND FUN FACTS

This month I’ve featuring two devotional books I’ve had part in.

I was saved about the same time I started playing piano—years before I wrote anything seriously. Over the years, I’ve had devotions published in about twenty books and in yearly magazines. I even went to Bible college, and then to Seminary. I’ve studied the Bible all the way through at least once, and read it so many times I can’t count.

That’s not to brag. . .it’s just the background to say: I have a compulsion to write a series of devotions about the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. An Advent Journey through Matthew is the first. I hope to publish a 30-day book covering Genesis and Exodus during January.

I chose 365 Day Fun Bible Fact Book as my featured book, because of the nature of the devotions. It’s didn’t start out as a “fun Bible fact book.” It started out as an unusual or even weird things in scripture. For instance, I wrote one asking about the Baker’s Dozen of the 12 tribes of Israel. It varies from place to place—check it and see.

And that’s how I approach my Bible study/devotionals. I look for those facts, for those things that make me say “How did I never notice that before?” And that becomes the focus of my story. I was excited to read and write the laws of Leviticus – in ways I’ve never felt before. That will be coming after the book on Genesis and Exodus.

Jump and enjoy!

FIFTH MONDAY SPECIAL: CHRISTMAS MAIL ORDER ANGELS

AEvery month that has five months I’ll do something different with my blog, interact with other authors–you can chat with some of my writing buddies.

This month we’re talking with several authors who worked with me on the Christmas Mail Order Angels series. First up: I asked my fellow authors what they learned in writing their books, or what they enjoyed or found hard about working with this series. Here are our answers:

Darlene: Watching my idea blossom is so many imaginative way has been amazing. Thanks, everyone, for jumping aboard!

Susan Page Davis: Although I had it a lot easier than Isabella did when it came to communication, travel, and other concerns, there was still an element of uncertainty about the new life I would lead in Oregon, and of course, a sense of adventure. Writing this novella seemed like a natural extension of what I knew.

Cynthia Hickey: Love can come from even the most dire seeming circumstances.

Tanya Stowe: Yes. I loved getting to know these ladies and brainstorming ideas. Made the creative process come alive.

Patty Smith Hall: What I loved about writing this story is working with these amazing ladies–the encouragement and willingness to help each other is enough to keep me in the Christmas spirit all year round!

Martha Lou Rogers: Writing with 10 other authors was really an enjoyable experience. What I enjoyed most was reading the other stories and then gleaning from them things I could use in my own. Using characters from the others to interact with mine gave me more feeling of family and unity. Everyone was most cooperative and when I found my characters showing up in other manuscripts, I was happy. Also interesting was reading the different voices and styles of the writers in the collection.

Appearing here in the order their books were released:

Susan Page Davis – The Reliable Cowboy

reliablecowboy

Isabella Johnston lost her husband to the sea, and she wants to get as far from the coast as she can. When she leaves Maine to marry a cowboy in Wyoming Territory, she reasons that Edwin Gray will be safe on the ranch. But every time he is late for an engagement, she finds herself worrying. What could be horrible enough to make him late for their wedding? http://www.amazon.com/Reliable-Cowboy-Mail-Order-Christmas-Angels-ebook/dp/B012YLM1TK/

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Susan Page Davis is the author of more than sixty published novels. She’s always interested in the unusual happenings of the past. She’s a two-time winner of the Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award, and also a winner of the Carol Award and the Will Rogers Medallion, and a finalist in the WILLA Awards and the More Than Magic Contest. Visit her website at: www.susanpagedavis.com

 

Cynthia Hickey Christmas Gold

christmas goldWhen Phoebe Ross’s employer dies, leaving her with a wedding gown, Phoebe feels she has no choice but to answer the call for mail order brides to Angel Vale, Wyoming. When she arrives her groom-to-be is nowhere in sight. With the other brides claimed, she sets off to find her groom. He is nothing what she expected. http://www.amazon.com/Evergreen-Wreath-Christmas-Mail-Order-Angels-ebook/dp/B015BVUKFW/cindy h

Cynthia Hickey and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and one cat. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com

 

Tanya Stowe The Evergreen Wreath

tanya stowe bookTwenty-year-old Levi Harper needs help. Life is difficult after his father and brothertanya die in a mine cave-in but when pneumonia takes his mother, Levi can’t manage the mine and his four younger siblings alone. He signs up for a mail-order-bride. Virginia Pepper is determined to escape her father’s unrelenting anger and all-too-ready fists. She’ll do anything to get on that train…even agree to marry a stranger. But she has no intention of trading one abusive man for another. Paper marriage or not, she’ll be on her way first chance she gets, no matter how sweet and kind Levi seems. As Christmas approaches, Levi counts down the days with a waiting, hopeful spirit. Can the Christmas season create a path for Levi into Virginia’s heart? http://www.amazon.com/Evergreen-Wreath-Christmas-Mail-Order-Angels-ebook/dp/B015BVUKFW

Patty Smith Hall A Home For Christmas

patty bookIs she cursed? All of her life, Margaret Cobb has felt cursed, the port wine stain on her cheek a punishment for her mother’s death. But she dreams of a home and family. When the opportunity arises to be a mail order bride for a man in Angel Vale, Wyoming, Margaret risks everything familiar for her chance at happiness, only to be rejected once again. That is until assayer Avery Waldwin offers to marry her. Or the answer to Averyprayers? Avery Waldwin needs a mother for his young daughter, even if it means marrying a woman he’s never met. A marriage of convenience was all he’d hoped for, but there’s something about the kind, Godly woman that draws him to her.  As the Christmas season approaches, both Avery and Margaret discover there’s only one present they each want—the gift of love! http://www.amazon.com/Home-Christmas-Mail-Order-Angels-ebook/dp/B016EHG3NK/patty book

Patty Smith Hall is an award-winning, multi-published author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong/Harlequin. She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter and calls North Georgia her home which she shares with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Visit her website at www.pattysmithhall.com.

 

Martha Lou Rogers Christmas Blessing

 martha's bookAnnelle Pugh is the daughter caretaker of her retired sea captain father who is in poor health. As she approaches age thirty, he smothers any of her attempts at a social life, and Nelle becomes discouraged and fearful she’ll never have a home of her own. While her aunt is visiting and taking of the Captain, Nelle grabs the chance to go west and become one of the Mail Order Angels requested by a group of men in Wyoming. Riley Thornton is a rancher mourning the death of his wife and desperately needs someone to care for his three children. After several nanny attempts fail, Riley signs up for one of the Angel Brides who consented to come to Wyoming. Riley almost backs out when he sees how petite Nelle is and doubts she’ll be able to handle two growing daughters and a barely walking son as well as take care of the cooking and cleaning. Despite her doubts, Nelle begins to love Riley, but at every turn her fear of being sent back East keeps her from letting her feelings be known. As they work together, Riley comes to realize Nelle is special and truly his blessing from God at Christmas. http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Blessing-Christian-Historical-Romantic-ebook/dp/B016P05GSY/

martha rogersMartha Rogers is a free-lance writer and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. A former English and Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written three series, Winds Across the Prairie and Seasons of the Heart and The Homeward Journey. Her new contemporary series, Love in the Bayou City of Houston and novella, Christmas Blessing are now available on Amazon.

Find Martha at: www.marthawrogers.com

Lynette Sowell Mistletoe Mistake

Lynette bookMatthew Thomas cooked up the whole idea of the Mail Order Angels, but when his own angel appears in the form of Sophia Webster, at first his feet get colder than a Wyoming blizzard. Sophia tries to make a new start in Wyoming by staying true to her word and helping Matthew establish the newspaper, but come spring, it’s back East for her–unless Matthew’s change of heart can convince her otherwise.lynette

Lynette Sowell is the award-winning and best-selling author of more than 20 titles for Barbour Publishing, Heartsong Presents, and Abingdon Press. When Lynette’s not writing, she works as a newspaper editor and columnist for the Copperas Cove Leader-Press. Lynette was born in Massachusetts, raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, but makes her home on the doorstep of the Texas hill country with her husband, their dog, and a duo of cats who have them well-trained. She loves reading, trying new recipes, catching a good movie, and is always up for a Texas road trip.

WRITING NEWS & TIPS: FINDING IDEAS: HISTORICAL EVENTS

I know this will primarily apply to writers of historical fiction, but I bet your creative minds can find a way to apply it to contemporary as well.

I love finding historical tidbits that suggest a story. Oh, the big events—wars, the Great Depression, the Oregon Trails, etc.—provide the backdrop for many a story. Others—such as the Battle of the Alamo—are too sacred to be the actual setting. I found that out when I tried to have my hero’s father died at the Alamo in Lone Star Trail. I took the wise course and have him die sometime during Texas’s war for independence from Mexico. Even some smaller events, such as the Mason County, Hoo Doo War, are probably too big for a story except from a real expert–my subject in A Ranger’s Trail.

My favorite place to look is historical timelines. In developing the Texas Trails series with Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonnell, we used facts as diverse a cowboy strike in the 1880s, a train blown up for a movie in the 1890s, and children raised as Indian captives in the 1850s. I would have written about the start of kindergartens in Dallas if the story had continued. Maybe I still should.

This is especially good is you know the place and/or the time your story must take place. In looking for Vermont’s involvement with the Civil War (for the third book of the Maple Notch Days series), I learned that the northernmost battle in the Civil War took place in Vermont! Confederates came south from Canada, robbed three banks, and declared the town of St. Albans a victory for the Conferacy. Voila, the nearby town of Maple Notch had imitation bank robberies.

Other times, a fact finds you. In looking at steamships (a nice romantic setting, don’t you think?), I learned there were female steamboat captains. Oh, I had to write that story: A Bride’s Rogue in Roma, Texas, where Blanche becomes captain.

Just looking through books about the history of quilts gave me dozens of ideas.

So if you like history—look around you and find those treasures in the most unexpected places.

NEWS

(report about Nano progress)

Christmas Mail Order Angels, Volume 2 (Books 7-11) was released on November 6th.

Christmas Mail Order Angels: The Complete Anthology will be published on December 1st.

Pray for me as I attempt to finish Beginnings: 12 Weeks in Genesis – Deuteronomy for publication in January.

CALENDAR

7 DAYS LEFT to leave a comment to win a copy of Tobogganing for Two or Home Front Dreams.

November 23rd: Book excerpt from Tobogganing for Two with a recipe for a chance to win a copy of the book. http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog

November 27th: My romantic interview with a recipe for turkey leftovers for a chance to win An Advent Journey through Matthew. http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog

I know this will primarily apply to writers of historical fiction, but I bet your creative minds can find a way to apply it to contemporary as well.

I love finding historical tidbits that suggest a story. Oh, the big events—wars, the Great Depression, the Oregon Trails, etc.—provide the backdrop for many a story. Others—such as the Battle of the Alamo—are too sacred to be the actual setting. I found that out when I tried to have my hero’s father died at the Alamo in Lone Star Trail. I took the wise course and have him die sometime during Texas’s war for independence from Mexico. Even some smaller events, such as the Mason County, Hoo Doo War, are probably too big for a story except from a real expert–my subject in A Ranger’s Trail.

My favorite place to look is historical timelines. In developing the Texas Trails series with Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonnell, we used facts as diverse a cowboy strike in the 1880s, a train blown up for a movie in the 1890s, and children raised as Indian captives in the 1850s. I would have written about the start of kindergartens in Dallas if the story had continued. Maybe I still should.

This is especially good is you know the place and/or the time your story must take place. In looking for Vermont’s involvement with the Civil War (for the third book of the Maple Notch Days series), I learned that the northernmost battle in the Civil War took place in Vermont! Confederates came south from Canada, robbed three banks, and declared the town of St. Albans a victory for the Conferacy. Voila, the nearby town of Maple Notch had imitation bank robberies.

Other times, a fact finds you. In looking at steamships (a nice romantic setting, don’t you think?), I learned there were female steamboat captains. Oh, I had to write that story: A Bride’s Rogue in Roma, Texas, where Blanche becomes captain.

Just looking through books about the history of quilts gave me dozens of ideas.

So if you like history—look around you and find those treasures in the most unexpected places.

NEWS

(report about Nano progress)

Christmas Mail Order Angels, Volume 2 (Books 7-11) was released on November 6th.

Christmas Mail Order Angels: The Complete Anthology will be published on December 1st.

Pray for me as I attempt to finish Beginnings: 12 Weeks in Genesis – Deuteronomy for publication in January.

CALENDAR

7 DAYS LEFT to leave a comment to win a copy of Tobogganing for Two or Home Front Dreams.

November 23rd: Book excerpt from Tobogganing for Two with a recipe for a chance to win a copy of the book. http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog

November 27th: My romantic interview with a recipe for turkey leftovers for a chance to win An Advent Journey through Matthew. http://www.shannonvannatter.com/blog

November 29th: Advent Sunday: An Advent Journey through Matthew available for 99 cents from now through Christmas. http://www.amazon.com/ADVENT-JOURNEY-THROUGH-MATTHEW-2015-ebook/dp/B016NIEJLI/

 

THANKSGIVING FOR THE UNWANTED BLESSING

My daughter Jolene died at the age of twenty-three.

She didn’t die of disease or accident. I guess you could call it murder. She committed suicide.

I know grief on a first name, call-in-the-middle-of-the-night basis.

The first time I read the beatitudes after Jolene’s death, the words slapped me in the face. “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Oh, I understood the comfort part. God comforted me, in spades, giving me strength to carry on and using me as a testimony to the people around me.

Losing a daughter in the prime of her life didn’t feel like a blessing. Today, almost nine years later, it still feels wrong, unnatural, unnecessary, heart-rending, life-changing. All of that, and more.

I wrestle with the idea of grief as a blessing. Mourning and grief are feelings, and I didn’t “feel” happy, no matter what word Jesus used in preaching the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus didn’t deny my feelings, discredit them, or tell me to be happy when my heart had been ripped from my chest. Instead, He blessed me with His actions, with facts that took on a new reality. Facing my first Christmas after Jolene’s death, I took stock of the rock-bottom truths which had gained a new depth.

Jesus died to give us eternal life; Jolene has eternal life because she placed her trust in Jesus. I had witnessed her decision to follow Christ, heard her testimony from her own lips, and read her words. She is alive.

Jolene is in heaven, where tears and pain are a thing of the past.

Even if Jolene could return, I would never ask her to. She is healed of the Borderline Personality Disorder that made her so uncertain and unhappy.

Jolene is watching me as I continue to run the race before me.

Jolene wants my happiness. She is cheering me on. I am the missing generation—she is there with her great-grandmother and her grandmother.

I will see Jolene again.

The more of my loved ones go ahead, the more I want to join them. What a reunion awaits.

Jolene wrote about Jesus hugging her in His arms. As life ebbed from her body, He cradled her in His lap.

I knew Jesus had experienced grief—look at Lazarus. He might have also known the pain of losing someone to suicide. He cried along with me.

Jesus welcomed Jolene home.

 

I have always accepted these facts as part of my belief system. With the blessing of grief, facts traveled from my head to my heart and etched themselves on the raw nerve endings, seeking to scab over as I healed.

As if all those biblical truths weren’t enough of a blessing, God added another to enrich the life-from-death truth of the gospel: my first grandchild was born nine months after Jolene’s death. Jordan Elizabeth Franklin will never meet her aunt this side of heaven, but her smile, her bouncing brown curls and bright brown eyes, her giggles—she is God’s gift, here and now. She also honors her aunt. Recently, she brought a rock home for her “friend” Jolene, “because I know my Aunt Jolene loved rocks.”

Holidays have come and gone. Each Resurrection Day reminds me of my loss—we learned of Jolene’s death on the Monday of Passion Week. With Christmas came a different kind of celebration. The trappings of Christmas, presents, lights, and trees, seemed hollow without Jolene. I went through most of that first advent praying, Lord, just let me survive.

How could I decorate the tree without crying over the memories? Baby’s 1st Christmas 1984. A tree-top angel made out of a lace doily. A blue delft disc from the Dutch Festival. The golden boot from the Salt Lake City Olympics.

Yet, as I struggled, Christmas became more real than ever. Emmanuel, the incarnation—God becoming man—that is the blessing of grief for me.

(P.S.S.) Many of you have heard this story before, but I felt led to share it again this year.

WRITING TIPS & NEWS: FINDING IDEAS #2

FINDING IDEAS

LESSON 2: Print Media

Go to the print media. A short paragraph on a newspaper gave me the idea of having a vintage clothing store owner for the amateur sleuth of my cozy mystery series, Dressed for Death. An opinion piece on abortion might inspire a novel dealing with the subject.

One book might inspire the idea for another. How many versions of Romeo and Juliet have we seen? How many authors have written new Sherlock Holmes mysteries? I borrowed the central conflict of Ethan Frome as a theme in my recent book, Tobogganing for Two.

While not literature, I even find ideas in puzzle books. The American State Flower series from Forget Me Not Romances grew from a word search puzzle on the subject. They’re also a great place to find great place names like Bowlegs and Okay, both in Oklahoma. Someday. . .maybe.

NEWS

For the first time ever, I am taking part in National Novel Writing Month as an incentive to start a new mystery series: Murder on the Case. This one I drew from real life: Carlie Cooper, a home health aide, finds her elderly client’s dead body on the morning after her 80th birthday party. Wish me luck! I’m looking forward to diving into my comic-challenged mystery-loving self again. Check the side bars for updates on my progress.

CALENDAR

Leave comments on this blog for a chance to win the one of the featured books.

November 11: In honor of Veterans Day, Love’s Glory and Tobogganing for Two, which both feature war veterans, are free today only.

November 13: Interview and giveaway of Tobogganing for Two at http://www.sandrarobbins.net/blog/

November 17th: Guest on Peg Phifer’s blog about Writing from a Nursing Home at http://whispersinpurple.com/

November 19th: Interview and giveaway of Tobogganing for Two at Sarah Ruut’s blog: http://sarahruut.com/category/fiction/

NOVEMBER BOOKS

FINAL MOA vol 1Before we dive into November’s featured books, let me share an exciting development for this month: Since November has five Mondays, several authors in the Christmas Mail Order Angels series will be stopping by on November 30th to share a few words about their stories. Stop by for a treat!

This month both books honor our veterans, although the new release is a God-incidence.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * ** * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * * *

tobogganing coverThis month’s new release is Tobogganing for Two, part of the Love’s Sporting Chance series.

The history of this series is convoluted. A year ago I released my first indie book, An Apple for Christmas, part of the highly successful Christmas Traditions. The group clicked and came up with two additional proposals. Barbour Publishing has contracted with us for Blue Ribbon Brides.

Cynthia Hickey picked up the third idea, Love’s Sporting Chance, for Forget Me Not Publishing. I originally planned to set the story in Vermont, so of course I chose a winter sport. Tobogganing seemed the easiest to learn about. (I’m not much good at athletics). I mixed up tobogganing, my faith, and Edith Wharton’s classic Ethan Frome for Tobogganing for Two.

But then I realized a tobogganing story could also be a Thanksgiving story, and I could cross promote it with my Holidays of the Heart series. So I moved the story west and looked for a town with a Thanksgiving name. It had to be far enough north for snow in October or November, and have enough rolling hills for toboggans. Plymouth, Nebraska, fit the bill.

The hero of Tobogganing for Two was a doctor during the Civil War, so the book will be offered for free on November 11th, in honor of Veterans Day.

http://www.amazon.com/Tobogganing-Two-Christian-Historical-Romantic-ebook/dp/B0173X2RFC/

Tobogganing for Two is also the part of a collection called Love’s Sporting Chance: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Sporting-Chance-Romantic-Novellas-ebook/dp/B0175A76XQ/ref

home front normal

My featured older book. I chose Home Front Dreams in honor of Veterans Day. It’s the last historical romance in the Maple Notch series. Clarinda Finch takes over as mayor when her husband dies early in WWII. Her sons jump into the war, and her love interest is a WWII vet.

In studying Vermont history in the early 20th century, I read about a woman who became mayor after her husband’s death, and I knew I wanted to write that story. Since the book completed a series about three siblings, I saved the story about love the second time around for last. Susan Page Davis suggested I use plane spotters in the story—that becomes the contribution of Clarinda’s daughter. I was also looking at a lot of quilt designs and stories from that period, and wanted to include a quilt in the story. Mix those together, with a heavy dose of patriotic fervor, and you have Home Front Dreams.

http://www.amazon.com/Homefront-Heartsong-Presents-Darlene-Franklin/dp/037348688X

WRITING TIPS & NEWS

People often ask, “where do you get ideas?” So I thought I would share a few idea-generating tips over the next few blogs.

My answer in short is, “everywhere around you.” Go to a mall. Sit in a public area and eavesdrop. A single scene can suggest an entire book.

For example, I noticed three young girls at a restaurant. Their completely different personalities were revealed by their clothing choices: one was athletic, short-haired, with sneakers and leggings. The long-haired girl wore a dress with flowered sandals. The third dressed in the current fashions and her hair just-so. I could picture a women’s fiction book following the lives of three very different sisters as adults.

It could be as simple as something you see out the car window. On one long car trip, I passed a castle on a hillside in Kentucky. That image stayed with me until I wrote Plainsong, where an American soldier built a castle for his English war bride.

Another sight was a single worn boot lying on the street. That could be Cinderella—or a mystery—or in sci fi. Take your pick.

NEWEST RELEASE!

An Advent Journey matthewAn Advent Journey through Matthew

Take a step away from the busy days that fill Advent. Begin with the miraculous birth and get caught up in the story which adds layers of understanding of Jesus’s extraordinary life.

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Mail-Order-Angels-collection-ebook/dp/B015RN2J8U/

 

CALENDAR

October 28th: Visit me at Lena Nelson Dooley’s blog for a chance to win Tobogganing for Two at http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com/2015/10/tobogganing-for-two-darlene-franklin.html

October 29: Visit me at Jo Huddleston’s blog for a chance to win Jacob’s Christmas Dream http://www.johuddleston.com/2015/10/darlene-franklin-christmas-novella.html

October 31: Final day to enter the drawing for Christmas Mail Order Angels or Lone Star Trail. Comment on each week’s blog post and mention whether you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, newsletter, for additional chances to win.

November 4th: Visit Emilie Hendryx’s blog for an interview and a chance to win Tobogganing for Two at eahendryx.blogspot.com

Question for commenters: What is your favorite Halloween candy?

MY PRAYER CLOSET

This might sound like a devotional, but it’s not meant to be. It’s about a change of attitude, a way that changed a problem into an asset.

One of my faithful Facebook friends (waving hi, Chris!) sent me a copy of the book The War Room. Without giving away the story, I’ll just say that both the mentor (Clara) and the mentee (Elizabeth) transform their closets into prayer rooms. You know, like the verse that says “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)

I share a closet with my roommate. It’s covered by a curtain, not a door. Our stuff fills it to overflowing. But even if I had a spare closet, I don’t know if I would use it as a prayer room. I once spent a half hour in a closed closet, imagining I was trapped in a train wreck. I couldn’t take it.

But then . . .

On the last couple of weekends, I’ve been left unattended in the bathroom for an hour numerous times. I have completed one word search book after another while waiting. I have complained about it. I’ve agonized over the lost time I could have spent writing or resting.

One day I looked up from the word search I had just finished and saw the dimensions of the small room. I thought about all the hours I spent there.

That’s when I realized, This is my prayer closet.

Now getting stuck on the toilet is an adventure. Will the aide come quickly? Or will I have time to my prayer journal, fashioned after The War Room?

Thinking of the bathroom as my prayer closet has changed me in other ways. Who else can I pray for? Whom do I know who isn’t saved, except for my young grandchildren? Oh, how about him . . .and her. . .I never even asked. . .and her brother is struggling with alcoholism? Add it to the list.

As an added bonus, I have rediscovered joy.

Oh, and I haven’t had to wait for an hour since that discovery. Don’t worry. I still have half hours to pray.

An Advent Journey matthewP.S. Speaking of prayer time . . .I just released my new devotional, An Advent Journey through Matthew: Check it out at http://www.amazon.com/ADVENT-JOURNEY-THROUGH-MATTHEW-2015-ebook/dp/B016NIEJLI/

 

 

WRITING TIPS AND NEWS October 12, 2015

WRITING TIPS

Last month I cheated a little, telling you to write, write, write and to read, read, read. (Although how many pages have you written and what books did you read?)

After reading and writing, the next thing you need is a critique group. It can be face to face or online, and here are a few suggestions:

  • Have a consistent schedule, at least once a month
  • Work with people who are a little ahead of you and a little behind you.
  • Keep the group small and determine how many pages/chapters can be exchanged at one time.
  • If you don’t know of a writing group (I had to look for my first group for awhile), try these tips:
    • Community groups.
    • Online groups (check Facebook)
    • Writing organizations such as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) facilitate organizing critique groups.

UPCOMING BOOKS

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An Advent Journey matthewtobogganing coverAdvent Journey through Matthew (November)

Take a step away from the busy days that fill Advent. Begin with the miraculous birth and get caught up in the story which adds layers of understanding of Jesus’s extraordinary life

Tobogganing for Two (November)

Laura Evans moves to Plymouth, Nebraska, to take care of her aunt and her paralyzed sister. Dr. Jay Andrews has come to Plymouth to escape his work among those wounded during the Civil War—only to be faced with a paralyzed patient. Laura and Jay clash as they face fears from their past. Will a midnight toboggan ride bring them together, or push them further apart?

 

 

UPCOMING INTERVIEWS AND EVENTS

October 14: Interview with Peg Phifer at Whispers in Purple www.whispersinpurple.com. Includes a giveaway of Gifts of Christmas.

October 17: Interview with Crystal Barnes at http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/. Includes a giveaway of Jacob’s Christmas Dream and A Texas Christmas

October 17-23: A week-long feature on the authors of Christmas Mail Order Angels. Every day someone will receive a copy of that day’s featured book(s) and a weeklong rafflecopter will determine the winner of the grand prize, Christmas Mail Order Angels, the first six books of the series. The link is http://www.nataliemonk.com/

  • October 17th Martha Lou Rogers
  • October 18th Darlene Franklin
  • October 19th Susan Page Davis
  • October 20th Cynthia Hickey
  • October 21st Tanya Stowe
  • October 22nd Patty Smith Hall and Teresa Ives Lilly
  • October 23rd Lynette Sowell

October 23 Christian Indie Book Event https://www.facebook.com/events/411921765674248/