Today I’m happy to welcome author Cynthia Roemer as she shares about her writing journey. Read through to the end as she also shares the first page of her latest release.
My writing journey spans three decades, beginning while I was still in high school. I dreamed of writing and publishing a novel by the time I turned sixteen. (A bit ambitious for a young high schooler, I know.) While that didn’t happen, I never let go of my dream of being a published novelist. It stayed with me through my college years, as I entered the work force, as I married, and as I raised my two sons. My story sat untouched for many years, churning inside me as though awaiting the right moment to emerge.
Then, in 2012, the Lord began to revive my dream of novel writing as I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers association and began honing my craft, finding critique partners, and gaining feedback from contest judges.
Now, here I am, a lot of hard work and five years later, with my debut novel, Under This Same Sky, finally going to print. It’s been an up and down journey, one I couldn’t have traveled alone. The Lord has walked alongside me each step of the way. There were times I wanted to give up on my dream, but He refused to let me. In times of discouragement, He never failed to send just the right bit of encouragement and direction.
In my novel, my main character, Becky Hollister, endures a lot of hardship and loss, causing her to question whether God really cared for her. In response to her doubts, the Lord embarks her on an unexpected journey—one very different from what Becky would have chosen for herself. And along the way, Becky discovers, that instead of losing everything, she’d found what she needed most.
Sometimes God’s plan differs from what we envision for ourselves. For me, it was to wait on His timing. For Becky, it was to embrace a different sort of life than she’d planned for herself—a better one. God only asks us to trust, and He’ll reveal His good and perfect will for our lives.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11) NIV
And now for some tough questions:
What genre do you write?
I write inspirational historical romance. However, for the longest time I resisted calling it romance. When I thought of romance novels, I imagined them full of scenes dredged in physical attraction. Under This Same Sky is not that at all. It is first and foremost a rekindling of love between my main character, Becky Hollister, and the Lord. But it also includes a very tender awakening of love for the hero of my story, Matthew Brody—a love that grows out of respect and admiration as much as physical attraction.
Why did you choose the time period you chose?
I’ve always had a fascination with the 1800s and prairie life. I grew up watching Little House on the Prairie and have always been drawn to things of the past—old oak barns, butter churns, log cabins. Anything wooden and old immediately grabs my interest. I love going to events and places that feature aspects of “The Good Ol’ Days” when times were simpler, people were honest and God-fearing, and a handshake was all it took to seal a deal. I’m as old-fashioned as they come and have a fetish for the American frontier, so the mid-1800s was the perfect setting for Under This Same Sky.
How much of your life is in your book?
Not much of my life, per se, but Becky does have some of my qualities. I’m the youngest of three girls and was very much a “Daddy’s girl”. I preferred to help my dad with chores and be outside much like my main character, Becky. As the older of two daughters, with no sons, Becky’s father depended on her working alongside him in the field as a son would. Becky is also similar to me in her quiet, yet determined nature.
Tell us about your next book to be published.
My next book will be Book Two in my Prairie Sky Series entitled: Under Prairie Skies. It is set to release in late spring or early summer, 2018. It is the story of Becky’s cousin Charlotte, a spoiled red-head who meets her match in the handsome, elusive stranger, Chad Avery. I’m excited to delve deeper into their story in the coming months.
About Under This Same Sky:
~ She thought she’d lost everything ~ Instead she found what she needed most. ~
Illinois ~ 1854
Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.
Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational writer with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband and their two college-aged sons.
CONNECT WITH CYNTHIA:
Group Blog: http://puttingonthenew.com/author/cynthiaroemer/
First page preview:
UNDER THIS SAME SKY
Illinois – May 8, 1854
Nothing could have prepared her for this.
Becky Hollister gripped her horse’s mane, pressing her
heels into his flanks. Samson raced along the muddy path, the
sound of his hooves echoing in the stillness. The vast prairie
loomed ahead of her like an endless sea. Miles from the nearest
neighbor or town, she had no choice but to keep going.
Would she make it in time?
The sun sank lower in the western sky, illuminating the
line of thunderheads to the east. Becky shifted her gaze from
the remnants of the devastating storm, her attempts at prayer
skewed by images of her fallen family and shattered home. Why
didn’t You help them, Lord?
Tears stung her eyes. She alone could save Pa now.
Sweat streamed down the horse’s neck and withers. His
“Come on, boy. Pa’s depending on us.” The memory of her
father lying face-down on the ground, spattered with blood and
dirt, flashed through Becky’s mind. She smacked the reins across
Samson’s neck, and he surged forward, giving her all his strength.
A piercing howl of a wolf sounded in the nearby timber.
Samson lurched sideways, almost causing Becky to tumble. She
tightened her hold on his neck, struggling to regain balance.
A dark figure appeared on the path ahead, half hidden behind
a fallen branch. Becky pulled back on the reins, straining to
distinguish the shadowy horse and rider. The dim light of evening
toyed with her eyes. Treacherous men sometimes roamed
the area. She hadn’t considered her own threat of danger when
she’d left their only gun with Pa.
As the rider edged closer, Becky’s heart pounded in her
ears. Should she turn aside or press forward?
With each breath, Samson’s sides heaved under her. He
was too fatigued to outrun the stranger. She’d have to risk it.
Clicking her tongue in her cheek, she dug her heels into Samson’s
flanks. She could only pray the person was friend, not foe.
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Amish Brides by Jennifer Beckstrand, Molly Jebber, Amy Lillard — Under bright blue skies, wedding bells ring–fulfilling sweet dreams, impossible wishes, and joyous new beginnings among these three new stories. (Contemporary Romance from Kensington Publishers)
Sprouts of Love by Valerie Comer — An overzealous community garden manager delivers more than the food bank manager can handle. Can love sprout amid the tsunami of vegetables? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Summer Dreams by Delia Latham — God’s love…reflected in the waters of the Pacific, and in the eyes of a young couple who walk its moonstone shores. (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
Right Where We Belong by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, Courtney Walsh — Three sweet stories of small-town romance by three tried-and-true authors. Whether in a quaint home bakery in Langhorne, Missouri, a cozy boho coffee shop in Maple Valley, Iowa, or a charming lakeside cottage in Sweethaven, Michigan, love grows best in small towns just like this! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
True to You by Becky Wade — Former Navy SEAL John Lawson hires genealogist Nora Bradford to help him to uncover the identity of his birth mother. As they work side-by-side, this pair of opposites begins to suspect that they just might be a perfect match. (Contemporary Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
What the Bishop Saw by Vannetta Chapman — A fire blazes out of control in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, leaving an elderly, Amish bachelor dead. Bishop Henry Lapp rushes to the scene, and he learns the fire was no accident. When the police point the finger at a suspect Henry knows is innocent, the bishop must decide whether or not to use his mysterious, God-given gift—one he’s tried desperately to ignore all these years—to try and set the record straight. (Contemporary Romance from Harvest House Publishers)
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal — The heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything. (General Contemporary from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Looking Glass Lies by Varina Denman — A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations. (General Contemporary from Waterfall Press)
Blind Ambition by Carol Ashby — What began as a bored man’s decision to try a different road turns into an emotional and spiritual quest that changes the direction of his entire life. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)
Wings of the Wind by Connilyn Cossette — A broken and bitter Canaanite woman dresses as a man to fight against the invading Hebrews, never expecting that she would live to be captured and married to one of her enemies, and certainly not to find love and healing among the very people who killed her family. (Biblical/Historical from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
The Secret Admirer Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Lorraine Beatty, Molly Noble Bull, Anita Mae Draper, CJ Dunham, Jennifer Uhlarik, Becca Whitham, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Penny Zeller — Shy expressions of love lead to nine historical romances. Declaring one’s love can be hard–even risky–especially when faced with some of life’s greatest challenges. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
The Noble Servant by Melanie Dickerson — She lost everything to an evil conspiracy . . . but that loss may just give her all she ever wanted. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
My Heart Belongs in Ruby City, Idaho: Rebecca’s Plight by Susanne Dietze — It’s a mail-order disorder when newlyweds realize they’ve married the wrong partners with similar names. An annulment seems in order–and fast. But when the legalities take longer than expected, Rebecca Rice wonders if Tad Fordham wasn’t the right husband for her all along. . . . (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
A Love So True by Melissa Jagears — They begin with the best of intentions, but soon the complications pile up and Evelyn and David’s dreams look more unattainable every day. When the revelation of a long-held secret creates a seemingly insurmountable rift between them, can they trust God still has a good plan for them despite all that is stacked against them? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker] Publishing)
Road to Harmony by Sherry Kyle — When Jonas returns to Harmony, Elena’s heart is torn between her secret love, and the storeowner her parents hope she marries. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Fatal Mistake by Susan Sleeman — Each day could be her last…but not if he can help it. An FBI agent must protect the woman who can identify a terrorist bomber in bestselling author Susan Sleeman’s riveting romantic suspense novel. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])
I am thrilled to welcome back author Brett Armstrong as he gives insight into one of the trickiest problems an author will face: identifying their genre.
A Genre By Any Other Name
Recently I was blessed to see a second novel the Lord laid on my heart get published. The book, Day Moon, is a science fiction and dystopian novel set in AD 2039 and aimed for young and new adult audiences. I mention this, because my first novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio (DQR), which won the 2014 CrossBooks Writing Contest, is decidedly not science fiction nor dystopian, is set in AD 303-304, and was more of an adult read. Already a few people who I’ve spoken with about both books are surprised to hear of such divergent books back-to-back. With others taking note, I felt like it was something to give some thought to and really begs the question of what exactly does genre mean for writing and does it matter?
If we’re going to discuss genre, it’s only fair to get a very basic definition. According to the Cambridge Dictionary of English, genre is: a style, especially in the arts, that involves a particular set of characteristics.
Seems fairly well-drawn out. It certainly comes across that way as an author when you’re trying to market a book, explain it to potential readers, or simply get a grasp on what it is that you’ve written. Every story needs to fit into well-defined boxes and to an extent that is understandable. Human nature tends towards defining things as part of our comprehending the world around us. I would wager God asking Adam to name the animals was more for Adam’s benefit than God’s. After all, as I started with, my two books Day Moon and DQR are drastically different in so many respects. Readers would absolutely need to know the genre of each book before choosing to invest time in reading them. Or do they? It’s certainly a criterion I’ve used to make decisions as a reader. Genre does matter, but it is to what degree that is a better question.
I often tell those who ask what I like about historical fiction and why I seem to write it most often, historical fiction is a story set in a world of yesterday, speaks about today, and can prepare you for tomorrow. It slips past a reader’s reservations and resistance and can converse with the reader about the world that we all face without agitating the reader’s sensibilities. At least ideally it accomplishes that. But if you consider science fiction and fantasy, it really is not so different a concept. All three genres are escapist by nature and allow readers to explore the issues of the real world in a world where things are a bit easier to face while enthralled by the new look of it all. So in that respect, historical fiction and science fiction/fantasy are not very different at all. Each genre requires transporting a reader to a world, which on the surface is vastly different from our own. CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia displays this connection, by pointing out that Narnia was only a partial picture of Heaven and existed to take a select group of people and expose them to Christ and His Kingdom in a way that caused them to love the eternal land to come through a dim shadow presented via Narnia itself. Likewise, a writer of historical, science fiction, and fantasy is endeavoring to take little glimpses of the real world and put them like nuggets into a simpler proxy. Meanwhile, as a reader, one may not even realize the points where the real world has intersected one’s experience. Though historical fiction, at times, does have the advantage of locales that did exist in some manner.
What’s more, I find several similar themes occurring in both DQR and Day Moon. This is no accident given they have a common author, but that each so readily supports something so intrinsic to apprehending a story as the core themes, it really speaks to the very fine line that exists between the genres. For instance, Day Moon led me to coin a term: surreality. It’s a composite of surrogate and reality, referring to the tendency for people to embrace a reality different from their actual one and live out their lives as though they aren’t aware of the tradeoff. But that very same concept appears in DQR as well, when talking about bread and circuses and the theatre culture of ancient Rome. To be fair there are so many parallels between ancient Roman culture and modern western culture’s direction for the future, it only makes sense some mutually applicable themes would occur in each context. But I really think it is more fundamental than that. I do not believe it is possible for us to escape history as we face each day and certainly not as we try to craft something that will speak to people. The past follows us relentlessly and feeds into our view of the present and future. So in that respect, genre doesn’t seem to matter nearly as much as the story that is being told.
Now much of what I’ve said is predicated on an assumption. The assumption that the writer is meaning to communicate something more than the strict action of the story to the reader. But it is very much possible to just write a story that is about robots or flying cars or wizards and the like. For me, and I think a lot of writers, the attitude is more along the lines of: if fiction books are escapism, then let the author write them so as to better equip the reader to face reality by the end. So, while genre does matter, I think what matters most isn’t the way you describe a book to a reader, but the way the book will describe the world to the reader.
As promised, today we feature book 4 in author Katheryn Maddox Haddad’s series.
Welcome back, Katheryn.
Are there people who treat you badly so people will think you deserve it? Simon did that to Jesus, but it did not stop him from showing mercy to people who really were bad.
Do you have money in the bank and don’t know what to do with it? Five wealthy women followed Jesus and used their money for missionary work.
Are you intimidated by church leaders with theological degrees like the scribes and lawyers tried with Jesus? They did not impress the common person.
Do you face psychological demons that wear down your health? Jesus cast them out.
Are there storms in your life you are drowning under? Jesus softly spoke the storms away.
Does life seem unfair? Jesus touched the lives of a woman who went broke with medical bills and the family of a girl who died.
Are people jealous of your success and trying to destroy you? That’s what happened to Jesus in his home town.
Do you know someone about to die who needs reassurance? Jesus reassured John the Baptist as he waited for execution in prison.
Do you know people who come to church just for the handouts? Jesus faced that when he fed thousands free.
Is there a certain race of people who should not be converted? Jesus did not think so when confronted by a foreign woman.
This series of eight novels—THEY MET JESUS—is dedicated to everyone who has ever doubted. It shows people who met Jesus in their stark humanness and curiosity, sometimes loving him, sometimes hating him, but never left the same. I was very careful about adding words of Jesus that are not in the Bible. At the end of each chapter are “Life Application Questions” for individual readers or book clubs, and ancient historical sources such as Josephus. At the end of each book are suggested readings for special occasions. COME, MEET JESUS ALL OVER AGAIN.
Katheryn began writing at age ten, and was “published” that same year in her local newspaper. She grew up in the cold north and now lives in Arizona where she do not have to shovel sunshine. She basks in 100-degree weather along with my palm trees, cacti, and a computer with most of the letters worn off.
With a bachelor’s degree in English, Bible and social science from Harding University and part of a master’s degree in Bible, including Greek, from the Harding Graduate School of Theology, she also has a master’s degree in management and human relations from Abilene University.
Her newspaper column appeared for several years in newspapers in Texas and North Carolina ~ Little Known Facts About the Bible ~ and she has written for numerous Christian publications.
She spends half her day writing, and the other half teaching English over the internet worldwide using the Bible as text book. She is a member of Christian Writers of the West and is also an energetic public speaker.
Monthly Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/3dM0v
Today I’m excited to welcome author Darlene Franklin as she connects the dots between April 3, 1860 and April 3, 1986.
For my Pony Express date-in-history, I chose April 3, 1986, the date the U.S. National debt hit $2 trillion dollars. $2 trillion doesn’t look all that bad. Let me spell that out with zeroes: $2,000,000,000,000.00.
In 2017, we’re used to the national debt climbing. We can go to a website like http://www.usdebtclock.org/ to find out what the national debit is at this second (over $19 trillion). However, the debt rose and fell during most of the 20th century. The 1980s were a period of growing debt, due to tax cuts and military spending.
The debt reached a low point in 1974, under Richard Nixon, but has increased steadily since then (except until Presidents Carter and Clinton.) The 2007-08 financial crisis led to the exponential growth in recent years.
I chose the unpleasant topic of debt because my heroine’s father ran away from a gambling debt—and kept running. He keeps hoping that the next game will enable him to return home with honor. The Gambler’s Daughter chronicles the end of that battle and the start of a new one—I won’t tell you more, to avoid giving away the story.
Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his familyShe is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals.
Today I’m thrilled to welcome author Bonnie Leon with a timely message for all of us, whether we write, read, or both.
Through the years I’ve met and worked with many new writers. Common traits I’ve seen are—
- Insecurity (that one seems to hang on for a while).
- Passion for their work.
- A driving need to be published.
- Unrealistic expectations.
- Lack of knowledge about the process to publication.
- Hard workers, but often stunned by the many hours required to produce clean manuscripts.
- Overwhelmed by first edit.
I’ve been writing and publishing for more than twenty years, and I still struggle with some of these. When I stepped into the writing life I was naïve, with little or no understanding of what it took to be a published writer. I had unrealistic expectations, and longed to write the “Great American Novel”. Writing was a newfound passion. Mornings and afternoons flew by while I lived out adventures in the pages of my books. But, I was soon to discover the blood, sweat and tears of being an author. This is not a profession for wimps.
I’ve been comforted by other writers and have also been the comforter. Writers are hard on themselves. This profession is difficult enough without our own inner voices tearing us down. Too many days have been wasted while berating our own hard work and doubting ourselves.
Certainly, we must do the labor, be prepared, listen to those who know and be willing to hear what they say. We need to keep our rear ends in the chair and put in the hours. And accept the truth that not everything we put down on the page is gold … no matter how much we may wish it so. There will be eviscerating edits. We will be required to write and rewrite. And to work harder than we ever thought possible. And there will be days when we’ll ask ourselves what were we thinking when we thought we could write. Even so, push on.
If writing is part of who you are or something you believe God called you to do, keep working and learning. Rest in Him. He will bring people to your side who will help and encourage. We authors help one another because we know what it means to be a writer.
If I were going to give one piece of advice it would be this—Give yourself a break. There’s a lot to learn … about writing, about the business of writing, and about what’s real and what’s not. And one of the realities is that only a small percentage of writers make the “big time”. Most of us work hard and create quality books that quietly touch lives. And that is good. We cannot judge our work on dollars earned or numbers reached, but rather on whether or not we did our best and did what God asked of us. We will make mistakes. Not every story will be sterling. Not every sentence, paragraph, or chapter will shine. We cannot be perfect writers any more than we can be perfect human-beings. All we can do is our best.
So, quiet your hearts and have fun. Enjoy the gift given, the learning and growing, and treasure the people you meet along the way. Remember it’s about the story, not the punctuation. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be unique and wonderful.
Grace and peace to you from God.
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released Return to the Misty Shore, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa.
She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and teaching at writing seminars and conventions and especially delights in mentoring young authors. These days, her time is filled with writing, being a grandmother and relishing precious time with her aged mother.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and eight grandchildren.
You can find Bonnie at
About her book:
In the spring of 1885, Luba Engstrom meets Nicholas Matroona, a strong, brooding Native from the island of Unalaska. Against her parents’ wishes, she elopes, believing love will be enough to bridge the gap between the civilized world of Juneau and the primitive culture of Nicholas’s small village. After all, before Luba was born, her mother lived on a wild Alaskan island until she was forced to leave when a tsunami destroyed her people. But from the moment Luba arrives at Nicholas’s home, she struggles to adapt and learn the village ways.
Will the conflict between her husband’s belief in ancient gods and her faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer destroy Luba and Nicholas’s relationship?
Return to the Misty Shore—the third book in the Northern Lights series.
Today I’m excited to welcome author Jaydine Rendall as she lets us get to know her a little better. Jaydine is welcoming you all to her book launch — watch for details — and will give a free ebook to one lucky winner who leaves a comment. So settle back and enjoy getting to know Jaydine.
Like many authors, I started first as a voracious reader. I grew up devouring Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey novels. My love of reading led me to a degree in English, various jobs as a non-fiction freelance writer, and teaching teenagers to read and write. To keep up with my students, I learned to read about werewolves, vampires, zombies, fairies, witches, and superheroes. But, given a choice, I’d choose historical fiction any time!
Also, like many authors, I dreamed of someday writing a book of my own. Of course, it would be historical fiction set in the Wild West. But, sitting down to actually write a book is daunting, and there are so many other aspects to life that come first. Until, one day, in the solitude of the Colorado mountains, an opportunity presented itself that nibbled and nagged at me: the potential to be the Writer in Residence for the High Plains Library District. I decided to apply for two reasons. One, it required a writing sample which would force me to paint words on a page, and two, if I were accepted, I’d actually have to write the entire novel that had been kicking around in my head for years.
It’s been nearly a year since that fateful moment when I was chosen as the first Writer in Residence for Weld County, Colorado. Since then, I’ve written not one, but two young reader historical fiction novels. The first, High Plains Heroes: Josiah, is now available in paperback and e-versions at all the usual outlets. The sequel, High Plains Heroes: Laughing Wolf, will be out in the fall. And, the third book in the series, Bethy, has been thoroughly researched and is well underway. Spring of 2018 should see that one on the shelves.
The books are meticulously researched and full of fascinating facts about northern Colorado and Wyoming. Josiah Sullivan is a 13-year-old boy who thinks being in Colorado Territory in 1862 is quite an adventure. His older sister, Bethy, isn’t so sure. The isolation of their homestead in the newly created Weld County isn’t exactly the life a teenage girl dreams of. When Josiah meets a young Arapaho boy, he can’t quite decide if the Native American is a friend or foe. But, they work together to save Bethy from the clutches of three violent outlaws. The Sullivan family is very real to me. I hope that you have young readers in your life who would enjoy a fast-paced tale of friendship and survival. Josiah is Lexiled at 670 and is appropriate for readers in the third to seventh grades.
I welcome you to join me along the dusty roads of the American West. Join the conversation here and be entered into a drawing to win an electronic version of Josiah. Even better, come see me! The Greeley History Museum is hosting the book launch event for Josiah on May 20 from 12:30 to 4:00 p.m. I’ll be giving a short program and signing books. Thanks to the generosity of the High Plains Library District, admission to the museum is FREE if you’re visiting for the book launch. The Greeley History Museum is located at 714 8th Street in downtown Greeley.
For all the latest information on the High Plains Heroes, please follow me on my website: www.jaydinerendall.com.
Read the first page of her latest book:
Today I am thrilled to welcome my friend Darlene Franklin as she answers some tough questions, shares about how to choose character names, and offers a giveaway. Darlene was the first writer I met when I visited a certain writer’s group many years ago. She was actually writing and submitting, while everybody else in the group talked about writing. She encouraged me to submit–because I was writing–just so I could share the Kudos spotlight with her. Read all the way through to the end, because Darlene is offering a giveaway.
But first, the tough questions:
- Please describe yourself with three words.
A consensus from what my loyal street team had to say: compassionate creative, overcomer, friendly
- What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Talk about them—to your friends, family, at work, wherever you see people reading books. Ask your library/bookstore to carry the book. Leave reviews on your website (if you do that), on Amazon, on Goodreads.
- What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.
I usually color an adult coloring page for about 5 minutes. Sometimes I’ll cheat and take a short (five minute) nap, too.
- Tell us about your next book & when is it being published? Why do you write the kind of books you do?
2017 is a busy year for me. I’ve got novellas scheduled for every month from April – October!
In May I’ll publish Cinderella’s Boot, a comparatively rare contemporary romance; and in June my story Sunshine in His Heart will appear in Seven Mail Order Husbands for Seven Brides as well as a novella celebrating Acadia National Park in Maine. (Not titled yet).
CHOOSING CHARACTER NAMES
In the process of writing 48 books with heroes, heroines, families, and other minor characters, I’ve had to name hundreds of characters. It can become a chore. Sometimes I’m not pleased with my choice. Other times I fall into just the right name for the character. What are some techniques I use?
At first, I pulled names out of thin air. I quickly discovered I favored certain names like Sam, Joe, and Michelle; for some reason, I liked Gallagher as a last name. My best accidental name was “Lucy Ames”—a sharpshooter. I honestly didn’t make the connection between “Ames” and “aims” until after I had written the story.
For a short period, I matched character traits and ethnicity to the names. However, that created some of my less favorite monikers. How about Audwin “Audie” Howe and Hamish “Ham” Ferguson (from my Dressed for Death series)? The same process came up with some good names: Fabrizio Ricci in Dressed in Scarlet and especially Cecelia “Cici” Wilde, the heroine in Dressed for Death.
Most recently I check the name of the first lady at the time the story takes place. That lead to Julia in Tobogganing for Two and Lucretia for my next story. Lucretia is a rather cumbersome name—but perfect for a rich debutante who is spending the summer in Maine’s Acadia region.
A quick look online will uncover several lists of popular names by decade. Women’s names vary widely, but the most popular men’s names have remained stable. John, Michael, and William are perennially popular. In naming, I look at the decade my hero was likely born and choose a number: sometimes the date of the month, sometimes the number book I’m writing—and choose the name I like the best from the cluster of names around that number.
The number process resulted in “Elissa” for To Riches Again. It suits her background as a rich flapper who had never had to work a day in her life. The hero was supposed to be Dale; but I couldn’t picture a farmer named Dale—so I returned to one of the tried-and-true names, Bill.
Lucretia’s match in my upcoming novella turned out to be Eddie, or, in French, Edouard. He’s the poor local boy. Opposites attract, after all.
For last names, I will sometimes look at ethnicity (Eddie Borgoine). Otherwise I find I lean toward English names. I rely on a list of most common surnames in the United States.
For secondary characters, I don’t worry so much about names. Avoid names that start with the same letter. Charlene and Cheryl sound very different, but the reader’s eye may confuse them. The names might even confuse the author. Those families with children all starting with the same letter? A nightmare!
For contemporary books, readers love to have their names featured in my books. I choose the hero and heroine’s names by my usual methods, then let my friends appear as often as they want. It’s a great way to garner interest.
Names do matter. Gone With the Wind wouldn’t be the same if Rhett and Scarlett were named Dick and Jane.
Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears monthly in Book fun Magazine. Her most recent titles are The Pony Express Romance Collection, Love’s Compass, and To Riches Again.
And now for the giveaway…drum roll please!
Giveaway: Answer the following question to enter to win an ebook copy of To Riches Again.
Elyssa lost a fortune and moved across country to work on a Kansas farm. What have been some life-changing events in your life?
April 2017 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])
Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])
Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent — When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother’s love never ends–not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])
Sunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)
Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)
A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
Plain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Deep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)
Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)
The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)
Today I am thrilled to welcome author Debby Lee as she shares how April 3rd, 1860 and April 3rd, 1966 connect — through the Pony Express, that iconic piece of Americana that is so dear to our hearts.
On April 3, 1860, a wiry fellow working for Russell, Majors, and Waddell, jumped on a horse in St. Joseph Missouri and with a whoop and a holler carried a mail pouch east. Cheers erupted from a crowd of spectators. Ten days later that mail reached San Francisco, and thus the Pony Express rode into history.
One hundred and six years later, on April, 3 1966, the day I was born, a different kind of noise reverberated across America. The number 1 song on the pop music charts was My Soul and Inspiration by The Righteous Brothers. On the country charts, I Want to Go to You by Eddy Arnold held the number 1 spot.
At the movies, the musical, Frankie and Johnny, graced theater marquis from St. Joseph to San Francisco. Elvis Presley and Donna Douglas starred in this show. Records were available from the movies sound track, and contained songs like Please Don’t Stop Loving Me and Down by the Riverside. Donna Douglas by the way, starred in The Beverly Hillbillies. Now who doesn’t remember that opening theme song?
The Dodge Charger rolled off conveyor belts and proceeded to cruise along roads all across the country. Technically, this car came out in 1964 but was only for show. It wasn’t available to the public until 1966. Although it probably made much more noise than the average pony, it could get you from St. Joseph to San Francisco a lot faster.
News of the Vietnam War occupied airwaves and newspaper columns, as protesters, took to the streets and chanted for peace. Flower Power was the slogan of the day, but demonstrations rose in volume and intensity before it was all over.
No matter what kind of noise was made in 1860, 1966, or even today, one thing remains the same. The Pony Express makes us think of thundering hoof beats, brave riders facing dangerous circumstances, and a special kind of romance that comes along for the ride.
About “Ride Into My Heart”
Kimimela, a member of the Sioux tribe, works at a Pony Express station where she struggles to cope with the death of her sister. When she’s kidnapped by gun smugglers, can her Cherokee friend, Pony Express rider Gabe, rescue her before it’s too late?
Debby Lee was raised in the cozy town of Toledo, Washington. The American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America are two organizations Debby enjoys being a part of. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steven Laube Literary Agency. As a self proclaimed nature lover and avid listener of 1960’s folk music, Debby can’t help but feel like a hippie child who wasn’t born soon enough to attend Woodstock.
Debby loves connecting with her readers on Facebook and via her website at www.booksbydebbylee.com About