WRITING TIPS AND NEWS October 12, 2015


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.



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?




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/


Thanks to all of you who took part in my very first blog giveaway! Liz Dent won A Texas Christmas and Cynthia won Romanian Rhapsody.

PSST: Tuesday in NATIONAL GERMAN AMERICAN DAY. Love’s Glory (http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Christian-Historical-Romance-Holidays-ebook/dp/B00YSY018K/) is free all day, and four books of the Texas Trails series will be given away at my German American Celebration at https://www.facebook.com/events/448793798655051

Now let’s discover the books being offered this month. Two lucky winners will one of the books. You increase your chances by commenting on the weekly blogs, liking my page on Facebook, following me on Twitter and signing up for my newsletter. Mention the Facebook, Twitter, and the newsletter in your comments.

FINAL MOA vol 1This month’s new book was released on September 25th: Christmas Mail Order Angels: A Collection of 6 Historical Romantic Novellas of Mail Order Brides.

A few years ago I developed an idea for a long book about twelve mail order couples. A miner who hadn’t made much money panning for gold talks his best friend, the well-to-do store owner, into advertising for mail order brides.

After research, I decided the Black Hills Gold Rush of the 1870s was the perfect setting. Think Deadwood, but the discovery involved Wyoming as well. I chose Crook County, Wyoming, since I’ve actually spent some time in the state.

As for the bride, my store owner wanted to seek a bride from his father’s home town—Merville, Maine—like Abraham’s instructions to Eliezer.

I never finished the long book, so when I jumped into indie publishing, I realized 12 couples=12 novellas! I wrote the first book, Jacob’s Christmas Dream, which pairs the store-owner with the Merville pastor’s daughter. This month’s offering contains the first six stories from the eleven that ended up in the collection. In addition to my novella, Christmas Mail Order Angels includes The Reliable Cowboy by Susan Page Davis, Christmas Gold by Cynthia Hickey, A Christmas Rose by Brandi Boddie, Christmas Fire by Jennifer AlLee, and Cooking Up Christmas by Teresa Ives Lily.

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

Jacob’s Christmas Dream: http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Christian-Historical-Romantic-Novella-ebook/dp/B013J2AR76/haveDarlene Franklin lone star trail

For the featured release, I turned to Oktoberfest and German American Day on October 6th for inspiration. Three of my books focus on German American immigrants,

The featured book, Lone Star Trail, is the first book at the Texas Trails series. It’s set in 1847, a critical time in Texas’s history: Texas became part of the United States and was the battleground of the War with Mexico. More importantly, the German Verein was in full swing. Thousands of Germans emigrated to Texas in the 1830s and 1840s, settling dozens of communities, such as New Braunfels to Fredericksburg. My hero, Jud Morgan, lost his father at the Alamo; he resents the Germans flooding Victoria, but he can’t help being drawn to Wande Fleischer. Relive the experience of the German immigrants and the excitement of the era in Lone Star Trail at http://www.amazon.com/Lone-Star-Trail-Texas-Book-ebook/dp/B005NFG4VG/

Other of my books celebrating German Americans:

A Ranger’s Trail http://www.amazon.com/Rangers-Trail-Texas-Book-ebook/dp/B006YYGUFK/

Love’s Glory http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Christian-Historical-Romance-Holidays-ebook/dp/B00YSY018K/


My “have to” share story this month centers on my granddaughter and my son. I suspect they’ll show up in my blog fairly often.

My son calls himself “a son of the Living God,” who devotes himself to studying the Torah to deepen his relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his Savior Jesus Christ, and to apply God’s revealed rules for daily living. Among other things, that means he observes the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. Another family joins his on Friday evenings for dinner and Torah study.

This month I was able to join them for the first time. What a blessing! My son read three chapters from Deuteronomy with all the enthusiasm and talent that his drama training had ingrained in him. Every word rang with meaning. I love to see my son so in love with God and His Word, even if we don’t always agree on in its interpretation.


Jordan, my six-year-old granddaughter, decided to grill Grandma on her faith. “Grandma, do you know what a Shabbat service is?”

I’ve been asking God for an opportunity to share my faith with her, so I was delighted. Boy, was she surprised when I said yes and explained it to her.

Her mother piped in. “She asks total strangers, ‘Do you eat pork?’”

(I think it’s extremely unfortunate that so many focus on the issue of pork instead of all the positive aspects of following the law. A rabbit trail.)

I went in a different direction. “Jordan, if God was right here with us right now, do you know what question He would ask you? Your Mom and Dad will agree with me.”

Silence. Was I going to say something they disagreed with? “God would ask you, ‘What have you done with my son Jesus? Have you asked Him to save you from your sins?’”

That stumped Jordan for a minute. Then she asked, “Is Jesus dead?”

Okay. “He died, but He’s not dead. He came back to life, and everyone who believes in Him will go to heaven to be with Him.”

“So He’s with Mimi and Omi and Papi and Bella.” She listed the long list of family members and pets she’s lost in her short life.

Beautiful—perfect—she understands!

Then she circled back to her original question. “Did Jesus eat pork?”

“No, He didn’t.” End of discussion.

I thank God for opening the door to share the plan of salvation with my precious girl.

I could care less if she ever eats a bite of pork or not


WRITING NEWS & TIPS 9/21/15-10/12/15

Mark as many of these events as interest you on your calendar!



My hope is to give you bite-sized writing tips. I’m starting about with the most basic advice a writer must know:

Rule #1: Read, read, read. Especially the genre you want to write, but read a variety of books.

Rule #2: Write, write, write. Write every day, even if only for five minutes.

Follow those two rules, and you’re on your way to being a writer.

September’s Books

Each month I will feature of my new releases, as well as one of my older books. Two lucky winners will one of the books. You increase your chances by commenting on the weekly blog, liking my page on Facebook, following me on Twitter and signing up for my newsletter.

The winners will be announced the following month. The winners for September will be announced on October 2.


(Historical Romance)

This month’s new book, A Texas Christmas, promises romances about “six unconventional women.” My heroine, Mary “Polly” Jessup is the oldest of motherless five-six children. Their father’s income as a bank teller only stretches so far; and when his failing memory causes him to use the bank’s money, Polly is left with an impossible choice.

If her father’s health wasn’t worry enough, she’s dealing with heartbreak. The man she thought promised to marry her before he left for college came home—with a fiancé.

Will The Face of Mary solve Polly’s problems in time?

A Texas Christmas includes by stories by myself, Ramona K. Cecil, Lena Nelson Dooley, Pamela Griffin, Cathy Marie Hake, and Kathleen Y’Barbo.

Purchase on Amazon

The Face of Mary is also included in A Woodland Christmas: Four Couples Find Love in the Piney Woods in East Texas.

Purchase on Amazon



(Contemporary Romance)

Back to the book that started it all. I wrote two books before I wrote Romanian Rhapsody, but I consider those a learning experience. Tracy Peterson recommended the Heartsong Presents purchase the story. Years later, I got the contract; and Romanian Rhapsody came out in 2005—ten years ago.

Romanian Rhapsody is the most autobiographical of my books. Writers are told to “write what you know about.” Well, I knew about music, and touring groups. That’s how my hero and heroine meet. Experts also advise us to “write what you’re passionate about.” I’m passionate about missions, and love the never-ending stream of different nationalities joining our country. At the time when I planned the book, Romanian orphans were frequently in the news—so I sent Steve and Carrie to Romania. They clash when they both want to adopt the same orphan.

Romanian Rhapsody should come with a warning label: be prepared for tears. Guess which cardinal rule of writing romance that I broke?!

It’s the first book in the Colorado Melodies series, which are listed below.

Romanian Rhapsody is available at Purchase on Amazon

Book 2, Plainsong, Purchase on Amazon

Book 3, Knight Music, Purchase on Amazon

Colorado Melodies, Purchase on Amazon