Thursday, September 23, 2010

FEATURED AUTHOR: Darlene Franklin

Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin recently returned to cowboy country—Oklahoma. The move was prompted by her desire to be close to her son’s family; her daughter Jolene has preceded her into glory.

Darlene loves music, needlework, reading and reality tv. Talia, a Lynx point Siamese cat, proudly claims Darlene as her person.

A Woodland Christmas is Darlene’s eleventh title with Barbour Publishing. Seaside Romance and Prodigal Patriot, both historical romance set in New England, became available from Barbour this summer. Visit Darlene’s blog at for information on book giveaways and upcoming titles.

A Woodland Christmas

Gabe Noell, an itinerant woodcarver, moves from town to town in the Piney Woods of East Texas. His “sawdust sermons” are even more valuable than the furniture he crafts. The advice he dispenses help four couples find their way to the miracle of love at Christmas.

Synopsis of my story, The Face of Mary: Five years ago, Joseph “Joey” Carpenter told Mary “Polly” Jessup that he would marry her when she grew up. She treasures his words in her heart, but he forgets her and instead returns home with a law degree—and a girlfriend, the banker’s daughter. When the bank prosecutes Polly’s absent-minded father for taking the bank’s money, she turns to Joey for help. Will Joey recognize the face of his true love in time for Christmas?

How did you start out your writing career?

The odd thing is that I worked as a society editor for about 18 months long before I started writing seriously. In the wake of my divorce almost twenty years ago, I picked up pen and paper and have never put them down. I began writing devotionals and progressed to my first novel. My first book, Romanian Rhapsody, came out in 2005.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned a lot about myself as a writer. I wrote a story that I felt was well told, but rather simple. When I read it again, months later, I thought, “Wow, did I write that?” I am learning to trust the process. That the terrible first draft can and will turn into something readers will want to see. I take a lot of comfort from that when I’m struggling with a new project.

What did you hope to accomplish with this book?

I hope my readers will search for the qualities that set apart Mary apart, in themselves and in others—and seek to emulate them.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Doubting myself! Over and over again. Would I ever succeed? Now that I have several books under my belt, will I continue to grow—both in craft and in book sales? Should I write? Obviously, I kept coming back for more, and now I am fortunate that I write full time. Nonetheless, doubts still creep in. I suspect they always will.

If you had the opportunity to talk with three writers, who would you choose and why?

First of all: J.R.R. Tolkien or any of the other Inklings. He created such a complete world and such powerful characters. I bow in his presence.

Second would be a toss up between Dick Francis and James Lee Burke. They are my favorite mystery authors, because of their strong characters and settings. Francis took the narrow world of British horse racing and made it accessible to people around the globe.

Third: how about John Grisham? How did he get started writing? How does it work to cross so often between books with strong Christian themes to books that simply tell a great story? Have his editors ever tried to get him to tone down his Christian message?

What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?

1. I wish I had become part of a national network, such as ACFW, a long time ago.

2. I wish I had a better handle on marketing myself (and the reality that I would need to market myself).

3. That writers don’t have to stick what they know—they can write about what interests them, provided they’re willing to do the research.

Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?

DO read, read, read and write, write, write. Those two things will do more than anything else to improve your writing.

DON’T take any one person’s opinion too seriously.

I borrowed this question from Author Carleene Brice, What is your author fantasy?

I’ll borrow one of my answers from Debbie Macomber’s dare at the 2009 ACFW conference: what dream is beyond your wildest fantasy as a writer?

I would like to support myself by writing one book a year; and I want to have a tangible, financial legacy to pass on to my family.

What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?

Writers live in their heads. I described myself recently as a video camera that records everything going on around me, and everything enters into the writer’s grist mill.

What was the best advice you’d ever gotten about the publishing industry? The worst?

The best advice is pretty basic: study your target market. Study everything from the authors and books they publish to their submission guidelines. A movie producer told me he looked at the first page and the last page of a script. Did the writer get the format right? Was it the right length? Only if the manuscript met those two criteria did he continue reading.

The worst? What I remember is the pain I felt when an editor described me as a “beginning writer” (after I had been writing for more than 10 years). I will never submit to that magazine. That wasn’t so much bad advice as a bad reaction to it!

If you could visit any place in the world where would you travel to?

I would love to visit Australia and New Zealand. There are other places I want to visit—Hawaii; the Caribbean; the British Isles. But those are all places I might make on my own. I doubt I’ll get down under.

What is something readers would be surprised you do?

I watch almost every kind of reality TV. I’m not ashamed of watching television. I need “down” time, to recharge. I can certainly justify the beauty of shows like So You Think You Can Dance or the learning offered by Amazing Race. But what draws me to shows like Hell’s Kitchen (even the name makes me cringe) or Project Runway?

Our theme this month is Online Marketing. What online marketing have you found works well for you?

I have recently added a monthly author interview and book giveaway component to my personal blog, and my number of visitors has increased exponentially. Some of the visitors who come to check out the interview come back for my more personal posts. That, plus the personal and professional posts on Facebook, keep me in the public eye.

Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?

God loves me! That is the rock bottom, foundational truth that has helped me survive tough times from abuse to suicide.

Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?

My second historical Vermont book, Bridge to Love, comes out in September. The Year of No Summer, when frost or snow occurred every month and destroyed all crops, held New England in its grasp in 1816. Only Calvin Tuttle desperately needs a successful crop, to pay the bank. Especially since he’s in love with the banker’s daughter.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)



Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of A Woodland Christmas.

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Anonymous said...

I would love to win this book. I have heard so much about it and I love all books with a Christmas theme.


Emma said...

A Woodland Christmas sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.


Please enter me into the contest.


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