Category Archives: Guest Author

The Magic of the Written Word — LeAnne Hardy ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author LeAnne Hardy as she shares some history behind her story and how the magic of the written word had impacted her life.

View of the castle ruin from the fifteenth century house. The window seat is as I have imagined Colin’s mother’s room.

I just finished reading Alix Christie’s Gutenberg’s Apprentice, about the brotherhood who worked under Johann Gutenberg to develop movable type and a printing press to produce flawless copies of Scripture. They were accused of blasphemy, but they changed the world! It’s hard now to imagine a time when the skill of reading was rare and books hard to come by or even dangerous to own.

In my new novel Black Mountain, set in sixteenth century Britain and beyond, Teg is surprised when a man with a flawed body has the power to read. She uses written words as protective amulets. Her charms are in ancient Welsh, but Christians (whom Teg despises) often used Bible verses in the same way. Originally, when someone cast “a spell,” we meant it literally—spelling out the words, writing them down, gave them power. A curse might be written, the ink washed off, and the liquid fed to the enemy as poison, or a blessing used as medicine.

In Black Mountain ol’ Teg o’ the Hills is a witch who has long despised the church and its Christ. When she is forced to flee her mountain for the wider world, Teg meets the Thatcher family that owns a forbidden English Bible. In those days church leaders feared that if common people could read the Bible for themselves, they would get all sorts of ideas, threatening traditional authorities.

In the early sixteenth century William Tyndale translated the New Testament and much of the Old into English without official permission. He was driven out of England to the continent where he lived in hiding. Gutenberg’s Bible was huge, printed in Latin on large sheets of paper or vellum. Seventy-five years later Tyndale had his Bible printed on tissue-thin paper with tiny print. The small format made the Bibles easier to smuggle into England and hide. You could be arrested as a heretic for owning one, but ordinary people like my characters, the Thatchers, and their neighbors were hungry to read the Word of God for themselves in a language they understood.

In 1536 Tyndale was betrayed, arrested, convicted as a heretic, strangled at the stake and his body burned. Yet three years later King Henry VIII had an authorized version printed. Largely Tyndale’s translation, it was known as the Great Bible for its size. A law proclaimed that every church must own one.

One Bible.

For the whole church.

Before that law, people didn’t even have that.

How I take for granted my freedom to read, including my freedom to read the Bible. I have various translations at my fingertips on my device and computer, where I can sync my notes and underlinings and link quickly to various commentaries. No one looks over my shoulder to see what I read. No one threatens me because I read in the language of my heart. Historical fiction from the early days of the Reformation reminds me of the magic of the written word and all I have to be thankful for.


The margins of the Bible my father used when he was in bed with tuberculosis for three years in the 1940s are crammed with notes—a reminder of my spiritual heritage. Is there a Bible that is special to you? Tell us about it in the comments and we will include you in a drawing for a free copy of Black Mountain. (Electronic only if you live outside the US) Comment yesterday and today to double your chances.


About LeAnne

Bio: LeAnne Hardy has lived as a missionary librarian in six countries on four continents. Her inspirational fiction comes out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives. Click here to hear her speak about the significance of King Arthur in her spiritual formation and read from the first two books. Links to first chapters of all her books can be found here.


Website: LeAnne Hardy, author and editor

Blog: My Times and Places

Facebook: Birch Island Books

Author Spotlight with Davalynn Spencer ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Davalynn Spencer for an author spotlight and giveaway.

  • When did you first discover that you were a writer?

In the sixth grade, my teacher gave the class a story-writing assignment to which I latched on like a bucket calf. We had bucket calves at the ranch, which is why I use the analogy, though my story was not at all farm or ranch related. It was a science-fiction story about an alien that came to earth looking for a mate.

Scary, I know.

It was my first and last sci-fi.

But the teacher liked it enough to have me read it to the entire gathering of sixth graders one evening during our week-long stay at a science/conservation camp. All the other students in my class participated in “commercial” skits in between my chapters, and I believe that was the true entertainment for the evening.

  • Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Romance has always played a big part in what I like to read and still does. (Maybe it was the whole alien/human thing from sixth grade.) I enjoy reading both historical and contemporary tales, suspense, mystery, women’s fiction, time-slip, etc., just so there is a strong romantic thread.

I read Westerns written by authors like Louis L’Amour and Stan Lynde because I want to learn how cowboys talk and think or used to talk and think back in the Old West. I pretty much know how they talk and think today because I married one and gave birth to another.

  • How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I’ve heard about sanity. I’ve heard it was a state of mind in which one does not talk to imaginary people living in their head who wake them in the middle of the night with story ideas and confuse themselves with real people. If that is the case, I am not at all sane, so I’ll simply address how I fit all that I do into “regular life.”

A basic day begins with a mile walk (unless the wind is blowing, and then I stay inside and exercise with a woman on television). I spend time with the Lord every morning, reading a devotional book or delving into a personal study of specific scriptures. My prayer time involves listening, but not as much as it should. I do a lot of asking too.

After breakfast, I go to my desk with the goal of beginning my workday at 9 a.m. I usually hit that mark and sometimes beat it by an hour. I take intermittent breaks to make sure the blood is still flowing through my legs and brain, run errands, pull a few weeds, chop a little kindling (depending on the season), and check on my companions Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. By 6 p.m. I’m fried and retire to the sofa for supper and a good book (see the previous question).

On more pain-oriented days, I tackle such monsters as marketing, promoting, letter writing, bookkeeping, etc. but I much prefer the creative side of writing which involves, well, writing.

By Sunday I am ready for that Sabbath rest we read about in the Bible, and I’m quite fond of it. I think God knew what He was talking about.

Reader question: During our recent stay-at-home challenge due to the virus, what was one thing you resorted to as an encouraging, personal activity that you would like to continue doing once things get back to so-called normal?

I will give a randomly selected commenter an e-book copy of my latest release and Book 3 of the Front Range Brides series, An Impossible Price.


Bestselling author and winner of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction, Davalynn Spencer is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and can’t stop #lovingthecowboy. When she’s not writing Western romance, she teaches writing workshops and wrangles Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Connect with her at

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Page 1 of An Impossible Price:



Late March 1885

The bay stallion pawed at the stock-car wall and tossed its head. Quick as a rattlesnake, its back leg struck. A partition splintered, sending wood fragments showering over crates and barrels.

The horse had fought its constraints for the last four hours—all the way from Denver. It was only a matter of time before the battle between bolted wood and brute strength was decided. Clay’s money was on the horse.

The rhythmic clack of iron wheels began to drag, and Clay pushed to his feet, bracing against the louvered wall of the car. Already heavy with horse sweat and manure, the air thickened at the screech of steel on steel, fear tainting the mix. A long blast of the whistle drew his horse’s ears forward.

It won’t be long now, Duster. We’re almost home.”

His buckskin’s dark eye widened with uncertainty. Its shoulder and leg muscles bunched for balance. Clay took hold of the rope that tethered the gelding and rubbed its neck and shoulder, telegraphing calm.

A general stock car wasn’t his first choice for either himself or his horse, but the Denver & Rio Grande had nothing else for livestock. He’d chosen the speed of a train over the length of the trail between Kansas City and Colorado, but he’d refused to ride with human passengers and risk injury—or worse—to his unattended horse. The bay stallion was a perfect example of why.

The car jerked against its couplings, sending a nearby horse to its knees. Billowing steam hissed along the rails, and the train inched toward a full stop. Olin Springs. Clay eased out a tight hiss of his own. They weren’t off the train in one piece yet.

Memories of his first arrival rose like smoke from the stack—riding into town beaten, broke, and bitter. His outlook now was a whole lot better than it had been four years ago.

Expectation rippled through him, as well as the mixed bunch of horseflesh tethered to rings on the walls. Clay had secured a forward corner, farthest from the stallion and somewhat protected with the outer wall on one side and a flimsy partition on the other.

Anticipating the slide of the car door, he untied Duster and turned him to face daylight. Behind them, the stallion reared against its rope. Any minute now.

Freight crewmen slid the door wide, and Clay led his horse down the stock ramp into sunshine and fresh air. They’d been too long cooped up.

As they hit solid earth, a panicked whinny sent a chill up Clay’s neck. He looked for someone to hold his horse and took a chance on an older boy in tall boots.

Hold him steady and I’ll make it worth your while. And get back out of the way.”

Living Our Past – Author Spotlight with Kate Breslin ( + Giveaway )

Today I’m happy to welcome author Kate Breslin as she shares about her latest release, Far Side of the Sea. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter to win the giveaway.

Up close and personal” is a commonly used phrase and one very meaningful for me while writing my latest historical novel, Far Side of the Sea. As with my previous novels, Not By Sight and High As The Heavens, I spent years researching the first world war. I’d memorized dates and places names of battles fought and read first-hand accounts of the soldiers living in trenches on the Western Front, facing “No Man’s Land”—stretches of battlefield so devastated by artillery that only cratered holes of soupy mud remained to serve as watery graves. Skirmishes fought, which resulted in short-won victories and losses for both sides and in the middle, civilians, enduring four years of suffering all of the hardships war has to offer and the occasional miracles that marked their incredible lives.

It was during the research for my most recent novel that my mom asked me to do some genealogical digging into the life of my great-uncle George. She’d come to possess her uncle’s Purple Heart medal after his brother—her father, my grandfather—had passed away and knew he’d served in WWI somewhere in the infantry.

With writing deadlines, I admit to working on her request at a snail’s pace, but eventually through information I found online, I discovered he’d served in the Wisconsin National Guard in 1916 and was sent to the Mexican border that same year to defend against the famous revolutionary Pancho Villa and his men, who had stormed Columbus, New Mexico, killing nearly twenty Americans. A year later the US entered WWI in April of 1917 and the president recalled the guardsmen, transferring their ranks to the infantry. Now I was getting really interested! I decided to contact the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and was excited to learn they would send me copies of whatever service records they could find for George. When their packet arrived weeks later, I tore into it and began poring over the contents. I’d practically lived in WWI over the past few years, so to be able to recognize the places my great-uncle had fought, some which I’d written for my own fictional story character—became a personal experience for me that brought me to tears. He’d been wounded during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive near Verdun, the place of a famous battle and one which earned him the Purple Heart. I was also grateful to learn he’d survived the war to return home and live to a ripe old age, as many others were not so fortunate.

Needless to say, my mom was delighted with the information and she’s allowed me to be the steward of my great-uncle’s medal, which now sits in a place of honor. It reminds me that we are all connected to the past; and sometimes, those places and times we read about in history can leave a very personal imprint on us. Another reason why I enjoy writing in this genre.


What genre(s) do you write in and why? I chose to write historical romance because I’ve always enjoyed reading love stories set in the days of knights and kings and swashbuckling pirates. My desire to write wartime fiction in particular came with the creation of my first published novel, For Such A Time, a retelling of the Biblical Book of Esther set in WWII. During my research I was inspired reading about ordinary people who in crisis did the extraordinary, even risking their lives to save others. With my subsequent novels, including my latest, Far Side of the Sea, I’ve explored the history of the Great War from 1914-1918, a part of our past just now coming to light after the recent WWI centennial. In fact there are so many fascinating accounts to read about during this time that I have plans to write two more novels set in the era.

What is your favorite part of writing? I’m very much a visual person, so creating a storyboard on Pinterest is one of my favorite aspects of writing! I also love the research, which helps me to plot out my stories. It’s exciting to come across an obscure, interesting nugget of history that sparks my imagination—like carrier pigeons being used in espionage during WWI, which I wrote about in my latest novel, Far Side of the Sea.

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? On my most productive days, I sit down at my computer at 10:00 a.m. with a cup of Earl Grey tea. No music, as I find it distracting, and after checking email and social media for anything pressing, I “unplug” until lunch. Each day, I start by re-reading the last few pages I’d written the day before, making minor corrections, and it’s enough to put my head back into the story. I write six to seven hours daily, 4-5 days a week. I admit to being a perfectionist so I tend to edit as I go and that means my first drafts take longer. I’m also a plotter, so I like having an outline before I start a new story, but I keep things fluid. Changes always occur, and I’ve noticed my characters sometimes take a different view of the story than I do.

Readers, answer her question below to enter the giveaway for a chance to win “Far Side of the Sea”.

I’m considering the next time period to write in for a new series of books. What is your favorite historical timeline?


In spring 1918, Lieutenant Colin Mabry, a British soldier working with MI8 after suffering injuries on the front, receives a message by carrier pigeon. It is from Jewel Reyer, the woman he once loved and who saved his life–a woman he believed to be dead. Traveling to France to answer her urgent summons, he desperately hopes this mission will ease his guilt and restore the courage he lost on the battlefield.

Colin is stunned, however, to discover the message came from Jewel’s half sister, Johanna. Johanna, who works at a dovecote for French Army Intelligence, found Jewel’s diary and believes her sister is alive in the custody of a German agent. With spies everywhere, Colin is skeptical of Johanna, but as they travel across France and Spain, a tentative trust begins to grow between them.

When their pursuit leads them straight into the midst of a treacherous plot, danger and deception turn their search for answers into a battle for their lives.


About Kate:

Author Kate Breslin lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest where she enjoys spending time with her husband and family. She also loves reading, writing, hiking, and traveling to new places for the next story idea. Kate’s WWII debut novel, For Such A Time, received ACFW’s 2015 Carol Award, and her fourth novel, Far Side of the Sea, released with Bethany House Publishers in March of 2019. Please visit to read an except!

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 C H A P T E R 1

Hastings, Britain, April 9, 1918

He was suffocating.

Trapped beneath several feet of earth, he tried to claw his way through the dirt and rubble to reach the blue sky above. His starving lungs screamed for air, the torn flesh beneath his broken fingernails bleeding into the soil as he scrabbled toward the surface. The agony in his chest grew unbearable, yet darkness continued to swallow him, the heavens overhead always beyond his grasp. Futility settled over him. He would die here, in this place. Buried alive . . .

Colin awoke with a start. Chest heaving, his sweat-soaked body gave an involuntary shudder. The nightmare was always the same; even using both of his hands, he could never reach the precious blue sky. A sharp rap echoed at the door. Dawn’s gray light filtered through his bedroom window in the cramped seaside flat as he rolled toward his nightstand to turn on the lamp. Blinking against the sudden brightness, he stared at the clock. 0530 . . .The next knock accompanied a hesitant male voice. “Lieutenant Mabry?”

Credit: Far Side of the Sea by Kate Breslin, 2019. Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing.


Frontier and Romance Party April 10th!


Join NINE authors Friday, April 10th, from 3-8 p.m. Eastern time at our first-ever Smitten Historical Romance Facebook party!

We’ll chat, encourage each other, answer questions, play games, and learn about these authors’ Smitten frontier romances (not just the Western frontier, but Eastern and Midwestern as well!) and recent releases. Enter to win multiple individual giveaways as well as a grand prize that includes one frontier romance e-book from each author plus a $50 Amazon gift card! There will even be an “Ask the Editor” slot for budding authors to post questions and pitch their work.

Simply click this link (, ask to join, and you will be approved.

Schedule for the day (Eastern Time/Central Time/Mountain Time/Pacific Time)

3:00 PM – 3:30 PM (2:00, 1:00, noon) — Jodie Wolfe

3:30 PM – 4:00 PM (2:30, 1:30, 12:30) — Denise Weimer

4:00 PM – 4:30 PM (3:00, 2:00, 1:00) — Donna Schlachter

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM (3:30, 2:30, 1:30) — Cindy Regnier

5:00 PM – 5:30 PM (4:00, 3:00, 2:00) — Linda Yezak

5:30 PM – 6:00 PM (4:30, 3:30, 2:30) — Sandra Merville Hart

6:00 PM – 6:30 PM (5:00, 4:00, 3:00) — Cindy Ervin Huff

6:30 PM – 7:00 PM (5:30, 4:30, 3:30) — Naomi Musch

7:00 PM – 7:30 PM (6:00, 5:00, 4:00) — Jennifer Hough Uhlarik

7:30 PM – 8:00 PM (6:30, 5:30, 4:30) — Ask the Editor and Final Commenting

How Fiction Can Transform Lives — Tamara Kraft

I’m excited to welcome author Tamara Kraft today as she talks about the power of fiction and her latest novel, Alice’s Notions.

The Christian life is meant to be a life of transformation. We are not supposed to stay the same as we were when we were first saved. God is moving us to be better, braver, kinder, more like Him. Romans 12:2 says, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As a reader and an author, I have noticed that God often uses fiction to transform me. This shouldn’t be surprising considering the method Jesus used most when He was on Earth, telling stories. Some stories stay with me long after I’ve read “the end.” I find many times that God is using that story to transform my life in some way.

This isn’t only true in stories I read. As I write my novels, God uses my writing to work out that transformation in me. Writer call it a character arc, a journey characters go through to change how they think, act, or believe. As I’m working out those character arcs, I find frequently God is working on a character arc in my life.

For instance, in my novel, Alice’s Notions, Alice Brighton wants a safe life after her husband dies in World War II. Throughout the novel, she learns we can’t hide from life. I’ve learned that often. When bad things happen, I tend to want to hide away in a cave sometimes and not face the issues in my life. God has shown me, as He did Alice, I can’t hide from tragedy, but I can trust Him to guide me through it. When I allow Him to transform me, I become the hero of my own story.

Another issue Alice had was unforgiveness. Greta, a German girl, shows up at Alice’s doorstep reminding her of her unforgiveness toward the nation responsible for her husband’s death. I wouldn’t have been able to write about Alice’s journey toward forgiving her enemies if God hadn’t been dealing with me first about forgiving my enemies. Ouch.

Has God ever used a novel or story to transform your life?

Author Spotlight Questions:

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a Young Adult Series called Ranger’s Apprentice. My grandson introduced my to it when we plugged his Kindle into the car sound system on a long road trip. By the end of the first novel, I was hooked. I’m currently about to read novel 8 in this twelve novel series. What I like the most about these novels is the underlying Christian world view with heroic characters young people can look up to. There is little mention of God, but the morality thought-out the series is refreshing.

What is your current work in progress?

Currently I’m doing a full rewrite of book two in my Ladies of Oberlin Series. Book 1, Red Sky over America is due to be released February, 2018. Book 2, Lost in the Storm, will be released in November, 2018. Here’s a little blurb about the series.

It’s the middle of the 18th century, a troubled time in American history, when strong women find it difficult to find their place in society. Three women dare to fight against social injustices, but when they fall in love, things get complicated.

Three women roommates, graduates of Oberlin College, challenge society norms to do what is right even though it may cost them everything, including love. Oberlin College, considered radical at the time, was the only co-education, multi-racial college before the Civil War, and its graduates were involved in many progressive era issues including abolition, women’s suffrage, prohibition, and the missionary movement.

In Red Sky over America, in a nation on the brink of war, America confronts slavery and risks being alienated from her slave owning father. In Lost in the Storm, during the Civil War, Lavena challenges a profession ruled by men to become a war correspondent, but will she keep her job by destroying the man she loves? In The Aftermath, when Betsy’s husband comes home from the war as an alcoholic, she uses unladylike tactics to fight against the evils of drink to save her marriage.

Meet the Ladies of Oberlin, the causes they’re willing to fight for, and the men who capture their hearts.

What would be your dream vacation?

I love historic sites and nature. My husband and I love to travel, and we’ve had many dream vacations. One of my favorites was an Alaskan cruise. It was amazing. We have been to forty of the fifty states, and our goal is to go to all fifty. So, some dream vacations in the future include Hawaii, driving up the coast of California and Oregon, and Yellowstone National Park. These three vacations will cover most of the states we’re missing. We’ll only have Delaware and Maine to go.

About Alice’s Notions

In this quaint mountain town, things aren’t always what they seem.

World War 2 widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn’t know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons

Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn’t know who she can trust.

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About Tamara:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest and has other novellas in print. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. Tamera has two novellas in print: A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope. Her first full length novel, Alice’s Notions, was released in April, and the first novel in her new series, Ladies of Oberlin, will be released by Desert Breeze in February 2018.

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.


Word Sharpeners Blog:







Darlene Franklin — Author Spotlight

Today I’m happy to welcome author Darlene Franklin as she shares about her writing process.

I just received back an edit. Her comments? It was confusing. Disjointed.

Sigh. Make no mistake about it. Writing is just plain hard work!

Even worse—writing and editing is only half of the process.

The first part–brainstorming, planning, dreaming—is the most fun. I love coming up with story ideas, and have more than I can write in a lifetime.

The last part– marketing, marketing, and more marketing—is time consuming. Although sometimes it’s easier to talk about what I’ve written than to write it.

But oh, the butt-glue, stick-to-it-tiveness that writing, the meat of sandwhich requires. Realistic daily goals and short measured increments are my key to getting it done. I go from blank page to publication-ready mss in four steps:

1. Writing: I write straight through, no edits, no research. I leave question marks or write a note about what to research later. If I’m struggling for the right image, I leave it for later. I take notes of what needs to be revised earlier in the manuscript. I keep a separate file for relevant websites, character names, descriptions, and so forth, to use for consistency.

I set the timer for 15 minutes and between write 150 and 300 words. I plan on 800-1600 words per day on any given projects. Any more than that, and my writing tank seems to empty. It doesn’t sound like much, but I’ve written 8 novellas, 60 devotions, and numerous articles since January. My last project took 23 hours to write.

2. First Edits: When I began writing, I ran every chapter through several edits a chapter at a time. That went by the way side as I began publishing frequently. Next I used a list of weasel word to comb through my manuscript. Over time I was able to make substantive edits in a single run through.

That single edit takes at least 2/3rds as much time as the original writing. The mss that took 23 hours to write took 16.75 hours to edit.

I also edit to make the POV consistent, meaning and setting plain, the background filled in until it’s as clear to the reader as it is to me. I write my first draft about 10% longer than the requested mss length, because I cut a lot during editing. When I’m done, I sent it to my editor (either private paid or the publisher).

3. Final Edits: When I get my manuscript back, I go through her comments. I try not to debate with her comments and instead look for the reason she reacted that way. This takes a lot less time than either step one or two, but 9.75 still takes me most of a work week (2 hours a day).

Since I don’t seem to have a good eye for typos, I send it on to a proofreader.

After that, I send the mss to my publisher and they put publication into motion.

It’s important to know your own weaknesses (and strengths) and work with them.

— What is your current work in progress?

Several things. I’m working on final edits for the book to be published on October 1st, Her Rocky Mountain Highness. In a story dedicated to John Denver on the twentieth anniversary of his death, I’ve written a deposed prince and the tourist guide who introduces him to Colorado.

I’ve just started on a story for a Harvey Girls collection. In researching the history of the Harvey Houses along the Santa Fe Railroad, I discovered that Charles Lindbergh built the hub of his Transcontinental Air Transport business in Waynoka, Oklahoma. The expensive air-and-rail trip trip across the country (an amazing 2 days!) failed in the stock market crash, but a new industry was born. The book is titled All Roads Lead Home.

I’m also doing background research for a book on prayer which I will begin writing in October.

— What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?

I’ve become a huge fan of adult coloring books! Here’s a couple I’ve done.

— What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?

Lately it’s my health. I have plenty of time, but I don’t feel all that well, either in pain or with a foggy mind. I just try to stay focused and work when I can, allow myself to be slow (as frustrating as it can be!) and to take more breaks.

ABOUT THE BOOK: The Christmas Child

A year ago scandal ruined the annual Nanepaushat Cotton Mill Christmas Masquerade—the owner’s son tarried with a mill worker and she left, shamed and pregnant.

Tragedy strikes this year when the same son dies in a tragic accident. Can supervisor Preston Marshall and the shunned woman’s cousin redeem the flailing Masquerade and rescue the Christmas child? How will they overcome the difference in their positions?

Check out Christmas Child to read this imaginative retelling of Herod’s massacre of the innocents of Bethlehem.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Darlene Franklin

Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. Mermaid Song is her fiftieth unique title! She’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in five monthly venues. Other recent titles are Wilderness Weddings and Opposites Attract. You can find her online at: Website and blog, Facebook, Amazon author page

Links: Website and blog


Amazon author page

Twitter: @darlenefranklin


Today I welcome back H.G. Ferguson as he answer some tough questions.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Horror and what I call “fantasy/horror historical.”  Horror is straight-up monsters, ghosts, things that go bump in the night — no demons, spirits or angels here, sorry.  Too many things are being called “horror” today both inside and outside of the Christian community.  Angels/demons/spiritual warfare is not horror.  Nor are stories that glorify evil, explore perversity and emphasize torture to such an extent it would disgust anyone, regardless of their views on faith.  For me, horror means monsters.  Jezebelle is as much a monster as she is a ghost, for example.   If there are demons or the devil, they need to remain in the background.  The focus is not on an invisible entity but on that THING smashing its way from a long-buried tomb to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting, sleepy little hamlet below.  Oops.

Fantasy/horror historical takes traditional elements of both the fantasy tale and the historical novel and pours in a generous helping of horror for both flavor and atmosphere.  My vampire tale New Blood falls into this category, set in French and Indian War Pennsylvania.  Another tale is set in a fantasy world using Eastern rather than Western Europe as its cultural model (Medieval Russia and its environs), but the bad things are undead creatures and hideous blendings of man and beast run amok, not orcs, trolls and Black Riders under other names.

And why do I write these things?  I write these things because if I do not, who will?

Or better yet…who is?

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.

Music.  When I hear music, I see things.  When I hear music, the emotional requirement of scenes and events seizes my mind and heart.  Every single story has its own “soundtrack” of inspiration I have culled from my own extensive personal collection of film and TV scores.  The music of Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman can be “heard” in Jezebelle. 

What can your readers expect from you next?

As yet untitled, but…

1855 Northern England, near the border of Scotland.  A place with a long and colorful history of strange events and even stranger legends.  The Hidden Folk, Mother Eve’s Unwashed Children, stir in the hinterlands as an ancient evil wakens.  Charlotte, a young woman with an past she cannot remember comes to work as an amanuensis at a secluded country manor, ruled over by a fine and noble gentleman whose mysterious wife goes about obscured beneath a veil and long sleeves and gloves and takes all her meals in privacy.  And when this awakening evil stretches forth its hand against this house, its Lord and Lady, and in particular against Charlotte, thrusting her into a nightmare beyond imagination from her unremembered childhood, can even the love of a dour, tormented groundskeeper save her?


A native of Southeast Alabama now at home in Phoenix, Arizona, H.G. Ferguson has always loved the strange, the unnerving, the horrifying — in short, looking at things that go bump in the night, particularly monsters, outside the box.  A connoisseur of classic horror both literary and cinematic, he floods his writing with originality, creativity and a passion for Truth —  even when shrouded in shadows, like a candle flickering in a mortuary window.  H.G. is the author of New Blood, and his latest release, Jezebelle, comes out October 31 at


This week I am thrilled to host author H.G. Ferguson as he shares some insight into his research process and how he incorporates that into the story without turning the book into a non-fiction info dump.

For a writer, regardless of genre or subject matter, research is critical.  But it is ever so critical (to quote Jezebelle) for writers of historical novels and stories to craft their tales as close to “historical accuracy” as possible.  French and Indian War British soldiers did not use bolt-action rifles, for example.  And even seasoned “giants” in the field can sometimes crash and burn, as when an unidentified bestselling romance novel author sets her story in 1811 and employs a drug in it that was not even discovered until 1836…


This does not mean every single thing must be perfect.  That’s impossible, as horror and historical novelist Robert R. McCammon pointed out.  In his Matthew Corbett tales set in early 18th century New York, he tells us he had to cut corners somewhere, and he did it with money to avoid confusing the reader due to the overwhelming variations in currency at that time.  But his depictions of dress, atmosphere and “feel” of that period are off the charts.  It can be done!


I am primarily a visual rather than a literary person.  That means I learn best visually.  And it is also the way I conduct most of my research into stories, whether contemporary or historical.  For Jezebelle I drew upon photos and artistic representations of antebellum southern belles, both from extant sources and contemporary re-enactors.  I also studied closely models, actors, actresses and performers in various media who suggested and/or exemplified certain qualities I sought in the characters.


I also paid very close attention to the antebellum portion of the immortal Gone With The Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in order to absorb the “feel” of that time and place so excellently evoked in that movie — the manners, the coquettish flirtation, the vanity, not just of Miss Scarlet but everyone.  I tried to “soak up” as much of the atmosphere and blend it into my story where appropriate.  Ten minutes spent on an accurate visual portrayal of these kinds of things is more effective — for me — than ten hours poring over “Daily Life in X Y and Z for Writers.”  The flip side of that is when I watched the 1992 The Last of the Mohicans for another story — 25 times.  Kid. You. Not.


I also draw upon my own experiences in what I write.  My father was stationed at Napier Field, Alabama during WWII and personally encountered German POWs set to work in the cotton fields.  This found its way into Jezebelle.  In 2003 while visiting my ancestral homeland I personally witnessed, in the heart of what was once a bastion of intolerance, a biracial couple in a restaurant just having a meal and enjoying undisturbed each other’s company.  This too appears in my story.  Local color, local texture.  Above all, truth.


And that’s the key to research.  Find the truth.  And tell it!


A native of Southeast Alabama now at home in Phoenix, Arizona, H.G. Ferguson has always loved the strange, the unnerving, the horrifying — in short, looking at things that go bump in the night, particularly monsters, outside the box.  A connoisseur of classic horror both literary and cinematic, he floods his writing with originality, creativity and a passion for Truth —  even when shrouded in shadows, like a candle flickering in a mortuary window.  H.G. is the author of New Blood, and his latest release, Jezebelle, comes out October 31 at


The Thrill of Discovery in Research

Today our featured guest is Marilyn Turk, author of historical fiction and lover of all things history. She is sharing her favorite topic–discovering the story and the characters.

Read on to the end, as Marilyn will be giving away a free copy of her book.

Marilyn says:

People often ask me about the creative process for the story I’ve written, particularly, how I came up with the idea for the story.

My answer is: I didn’t. As a Christian writer who seeks God’s will in my writing, I believe God leads to me find the story, to discover it. I live near the beach and sometimes, I see people with metal detectors scanning the sand to find buried treasure, or more accurately these days, someone’s jewelry that got lost. I feel like finding a story is discovering the treasure lying beneath.

Or I relate to an archaeologist who digs below the soil to find civilizations long since forgotten. How exciting it must be to find the remains of a home, then a village, of people who lived in the past.

As a historical writer, I’m the archaeologist looking for lost stories of people long ago. The more I find out about a historical period or setting, the more I know about the people who lived during that time. And as I discover what their lives were like, I discover their stories.

The research is the most fun because I’m fascinated by information and little known facts I’d never been aware of before. I’m so excited when I find some tidbit or gem that will produce interesting details in the lives of my characters.

In my research for The Gilded Curse, for example, finding out about the history of Jekyll Island and its exclusive “Millionaires Club” was intriguing, introducing me to a world of yesteryear where affluent people once roamed a small island off the coast of Georgia. Some of America’s wealthiest and most famous individuals – Pulitzer, Goodyear, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt, to name a few – escaped to the island during the cold New England winters to play. The “gilded” society during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s brought all the comforts of home with them as they maintained their social lifestyle on a smaller scale.

But the Great Depression and World Wars changed the wealth and the climate of the country, and the gilded generation disappeared, along with their wealth and prestige.

Then along came my character Alexandra Smithfield, the last heir of one of those families. When Lexie returned to the island ten years after her family had left when she was a child, she discovered that in many ways, the island had changed. And in other ways, it had stayed the same. The Gilded Curse is Lexie’s story about what she finds out and how it will affect her life.

I hope you enjoy finding out with her.

Here is a short description of the book:

In 1942, Lexie Smithfield becomes the only heir to her family’s dwindling fortune after her brother is killed at Pearl Harbor. A mysterious telegram beckons her back to Jekyll Island. Ten years before, the family quit coming to the exclusive Millionaire’s Club after tragic events convinced her mother the island was cursed. Club Superintendent Russell Thompson knows the truth, but he swore never to tell. Will he and Lexie discover the real danger before it’s too late? Check out the book on Amazon at:

To enter to win a free copy of the book, leave a comment along with your email address, and we’ll enter your name in a drawing.

Marilyn Turk has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books – A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. Her Coastal Lights Legacy series features stories set around lighthouses. Her book, Lighthouse Devotions was published in 2015. Her weekly lighthouse blog can be found at She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys boating, fishing, tennis, and gardening when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her grandsons.

Nuggets of Writing Gold

Co-written with Leeann Betts: Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays and articles on the writing life and journey, full of nuggets of ideas and helps for writers at any stage of their career. Topics include the passion to write, making time for writing, organization, editing, dialogue, and a resource section. Available at Learn more.