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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cry Wolf

Dear Readers, I am sick, coughing nonstop, my whole chest is sore ... so I will not try to to think of anything catchy to say. Check in next week. (Year!)


Happy New Year!

Monday, December 20, 2010

CHRISTMAS MOVIES

I'm a lover of movies. I frequently spend Christmas going to the movies, but few of them are worthy of the holiday.

But here below, in no particular order, are some of my favorite Christmas movies.


Although not a personal favorite, my daughter Jolene's favorite movie qualifies under this subject: Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas. Jack the Pumpkin King tries to take over Christmas, with nightmarish results.

On TV, I always enjoyed watching Homecoming, the Waltons story that spawned the TV show. The Waltons always carried me back to a time where faith and family triumphed over the difficult circumstances in which they found themselves.

Also on TV, I loved the various Christmas episodes on Touched By an Angel that featured Randy Travis. I felt like I had been touched by an angel when they sang the Hallelujah Chorus.

It's a Wonderful Life. I can't imagine Christmas without this Jimmy Stewart classic. It always helps me focus on the difference my single solitary life can make--and renews my hope.

A Christmas Carol--which has been done and redone many times, but I still like the first one the best. I love the introduction of Scrooge's sister.

And of more recent vintage--Elf--which makes me want to believe.

I've left out some obvious ones ... let me see to start with that I HATE A Christmas Story, which always appears on Top 10 Christmas movie lists. Not for me.

What are some of your favorite Christmas movies?

What do I hope to see this Christmas? Perhaps I will want to voyage to Narnia aboard the Dawntreader.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Books

I'm an author. Of course I have to take about Christmas books!

I've even contributed to the genre: Snowbound Colorado Christmas (with my Book of the Year finaling novella, , Dressed in Scarlet); Wild West Christmas; and A Woodland Christmas.

Three stories stick in my mind as ones I have read, reread, and love beyond belief. A fourth is a sentimental favorite, introduced to me by my mother. So here they are in ascending order:

4. Sentimental favorite: A Pickwick Christmas, from The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Mom had the story on tape, and before long, I could quote the lines as well as she could. A tale of a quintessential Victorian Christmas.

3. The Gift of the Magi by O'Henry. This story (plus O'Henry's "The Ransom of Red Chief") is one of the reasons I love the story form. And if you've never read
Gift of the Magi, find it. An amazing story of love and sacrifice that captures the spirit of Christmas.

2. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson. One of my seminary professors ended every fall semester by reading this YA book. If you've never encountered the Herdman family and the Magi who brought ham to the Messiah ... you're in for a treat.

1. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. What can I say? Simply the best Christmas story known to man, aside from the truth of Christmas, which makes a grand story but best of all is true. From Fezziwig's Christmas, to Tiny Tim, to Scrooge's reformation--the images live with us all.

What are some of your favorite Christmas stories? Several more came to mind as I wrote this, but I decided to leave it with the first impressions.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

INTERVIEW & BOOK GIVEAWAY WITH AMBER MILLER STOCKTON








What draws you to writing historical romance?

For many years going through regular school, I tried hard to find something to enjoy about history class. There were moments and tidbits, but on the whole, the classes were rather boring. Nothing but facts, names, dates, events, etc. Nothing personal, and no connection to what happened or who lived during those times. So now, as a historical fiction author, I seek to create stories people will love while weaving history throughout the book. When readers finish one of my books, they’ve usually gotten a history lesson without realizing it. And that’s the highest testament someone can give me about my books.

Michigan Brides is set, obviously, in Michigan. Do you have personal ties to Michigan? What can we expect to learn about Michigan’s history from this book?

No, I actually have no personal ties to the state. In fact, I had to seek out location advice and research details from a friend I know who lives there, as well as the Detroit Historical Society. As for Michigan’s history, you’ll learn a lot about the city of Detroit, the factories, Mayor Pingree’s Potato Patch farming, and Henry Ford with his Model-T and the invention of the Assembly Line.

I believe you and I began writing for Heartsong Presents about the same time. Tell me how that came about.

My journey began many years ago. I wrote my first short story in 5th grade with several accolades from both my teacher and my fellow students. It was even entered into a ‘Young Writers of America’ contest and placed but didn’t get selected for publication. Ever since I learned to read at age 3-1/2, I’ve been telling stories, and I could often easily keep a captive audience. Writing seemed to be a natural progression from the verbal.

I wrote often, but it wasn’t until I was a Senior in high school that I got the ‘bug’ to write. My English teacher saw potential, and as an author herself, she encouraged me to pursue the talent further. However, I became more focused on finishing my education and getting my degree, so my writing took up residence on the back burner.

It wasn’t until 1997 when I wrote my first fan fiction and received a lot of encouragement and feedback that I realized I might be able to make something of this ability. It took me another 5 years and encouragement from Tracie Peterson (one of my favorite authors) before I took the step professionally to begin a career by joining a national organization called ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), then known as ACRW (American Christian Romance Writers).

I did everything I could to improve my skills and develop my craft. I bought writing books, studied a wide variety of fiction, conversed with other writers and authors, attended conferences, purchased audio recordings of workshops and presentations, and soaked up as much information as I could handle. Almost 5 years later, I sold my first book and took a rather scary step into the world of authorship.

When I received the notification that my first book was actually going to be bought, I can’t begin to describe the elation and the excitement. The first thought that went through my mind is, “I have to tell someone!” Since the hour was late, and everyone had gone to bed, I logged online. The only one signed on was the man who is now my husband. Some people would call that ironic. I call it God. One of the biggest moments of my life, and the first person I tell is the man I would marry just 8 months later. Amazing!

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

I’d have to say being voted the #1 favorite new author in 2009 by the reader’s and being a top 3 finalist, placing 2nd, in the 2009 Annual Reader’s Choice Awards. It’s wonderful to write and be paid to do what you love, but it’s ten times more amazing to have the readers love your work and be touched by your words that they vote you a favorite. A true testament to God’s gift being used to its fullest.

Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

Honestly? I get or set a deadline. (grins) You’d be amazed how inspired you get when a deadline is looming, whether it’s a personal one you set for yourself or one your editor sets for you. But yes, the deadlines set for you on a contract tend to hold more weight and motivate much more.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

It’s made me even more grateful that I’m able to do what I love and bless others in the process. It’s humbling and an honor to use the gifts God’s given me to inspire those who read my books. And it’s the best feeling in the world to receive a letter or email from a reader telling me one of my books met them exactly where they were at the time, speaking to their heart. How amazing to be called to this career.

As for an aspect that hasn’t changed much, the only one coming to mind is the knowledge I have to stick to my guns and plant my rear in the chair. That I have to write, write, write, in order to keep moving forward. I also have to maintain a teachable spirit and never stop learning.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

I just signed a contract for a new 3-book series set in the Brandywine Valley of Delaware during the Gilded Age and turn of the 20th Century. In all 3 books, an antique book brings each hero and heroine together in ways they never would have imagined, irrevocably intertwining their lives with each other. The first book is set to release in late summer 2011.
And readers can always find me at my web site: www.amberstockton.com. There, you’ll find links to my Facebook page, readers group, Linked in profile, blog, and much more. Come on by! I love to hear from my readers.

Monday, December 6, 2010

News Flash

For more of my special Christmas memories, check out the 12 Books of Christmas at
http://www.on-the-write-track.blogspot.com//. A giveaway of A Woodland Christmas is included.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

The calendar has turned and the month of Christmas is upon us!

For years, I confess, I thought of Christmas as less important than the Resurrection to my faith. And true, Jesus came to earth to die for my sins.

But at an advent service where the pastor spoke about "GODISNOWHERE" which can be read as "God is nowhere" or ... triumphantly ... "GOD IS NOW HERE!" I began to capture a glimmer of the miracle of the incarnation. God Himself came to earth! God truly understands my humanity because He put on human flesh.

And so, this month, I think I will focus on Christmas--all month--all the special memories. This is my first Christmas without my mother, and my son celebrates Hannukah (Happy Hannukah, everybody! It's this week.) So I expect my own celebration will be quiet. But there is so much to remember and ponder upon.

I will start with ... of course ... music. (Did you expect me to say favorite Christmas books?!) Here are some of my favorite memories ...

Christmas and music have gone together for me since I was a child. I played piano well enough in junior high to accompany our school's Christmas program. I was also playing piano at church, playing through every carol in our hymnbook to the point where even now I can almost play them by heart.

Since I was a little heavy, even then, in 8th grade I played Santa Claus in our Christmas play. (Oh, dear.) And then there was the year our church choir tried to perform Night of Miracles by John W. Peterson--we didn't--but that's when I first encountered the moving song, No Room.

I started college singing alto and then discovered I was truly a soprano, so I've learned both parts of Handel's Messiah. How well I remember sharing my copy of the music with Wesley, a Jamaican who sang tenor.

Fast forward several years, to watching my own son sing the solo in his school's Christmas program. And later, writing a musical for our church choir called "Christmas Around the World." I had discovered a book with hundreds of Christmas carols, and we managed to find music from all the continents (except the Antartic). We even sang ... in Portuguese, French, Spanish, German.

Carols, caroling, piano music, programs ... rehearsals ... joy bursting forth in song!

Two years ago, I narrated a cantata for the first time. This from the girl who
hated Speech class! And discovered that in the process of learning how to sing, I had learned how to speak well.

Last year, I was asked to play at the annual ladies' Christmas brunch at my new church ... and became instantly recognizeable as "that lady who plays the piano."

This year, I am one of the narrators of our Christmas program, as well as singing a solo. The title Christmas Offering, and my prayer is that my words, my voice, will be an offering to the God Who Came.

Please share some of your favorite Christmas music stories.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH LAURA GREINER & BOOK GIVEAWAY

Today it is my privilege to welcome Laura Greiner to my blog. I met Laura through the Christian Authors Network.

Laura Greiner has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Denver and a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado. Laura is an author, women’s event speaker and she teaches college courses in Sociology. Laura also is a Bible study leader and hospice volunteer. She and her husband, Bruce, have three children and live in Golden, Colorado. Laura loves to hike and mountain bike ride and spends a lot of time with her family up at their Winter Park cabin. Laura also loves to travel and has a heart to do mission work with her family.

**Laura is giving away a copy of TruthDare to one of my readers.**



Laura, your two books, Where Women Walked and TruthDare, both contain true inspirational stories. How long have you been collecting stories and what inspired you to write about them?

I have been collecting stories since I can remember! As a little girl I use to read books about martyrs and saints because even then I felt the stories move me closer to God. I am an avid believer in the faith-breathing impact of real life stories that tell about the messy stuff in life. I think they take us “farther up and further in” to God as C.S. Lewis put it in The Last Battle. And that is what TruthDare is about. It is a collection of stories about men and women who dared to live the Truth they believe in the midst of everyday messy life.

In TruthDare, you dare us to live as if we truly believe the things we proclaim. What are some ways your life changed as you worked through this manuscript?

My faith grew stronger as I wrote the book. I wove pieces of my own spiritual journey with the true stories in the book and it was a faith-building, cathartic process. The people I write about in the book were also major faith-boosters!

What are you currently working on?

I am currently not working on a new book. I have been in a major writing mode for the past several years and now I feel like I am in a God-appointed season of waiting on Him. I also have felt Him move me into arenas where I am working with people instead of just me and my computer all day. I am teaching at a local university and I am also working part-time as a victim advocate. I feel that this work is not separate from my writing but an important part of it.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

I think TruthDare has been my most satisfactory experience because it was the first time I allowed myself to be myself. It is raw and real whereas in the past my writing has portrayed a more polished Laura.

Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

Being inspired revitalizes my writer’s soul. I am inspired in different ways at different times. Sometimes I am inspired when I am alone and the Holy Spirit is whispering to me. Sometimes I am inspired by deeply sharing with another person. I love to read really good writing to stay inspired too. I soak in words and how they are put together. I love reading memoirs and learning from and connecting with people I have never met but feel like I know.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

I try and stay away from success because it messes with my mind. It takes me off the simple, obedient path I long to stay on. I have found success diverts my attention away from Christ. I am sure writer’s can do it well, but I have yet to figure out how to be totally consumed with Christ if I am out promoting my book. It just gets all muddled for me. I even struggle being Christ-consumed when I go out and speak. Try as I might not to worry about how well I did, I inevitably do.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

They can find me at lauragreiner.com

Thursday, November 25, 2010

THANKSGIVING

It's been a tough week--missing Mom. Missing Jolene. Having some things fall apart professionally. But in the words of Matt Redman, echoing Job in the Bible, "Every blessing You pour out I'll turn back to praise."

My heart will sing praise to the Lord.
For His love endures forever.
My heart will rest in the shadow of His wings
For His love endures forever.
My soul rejoices in the Lord
For His love endures forever.
Sorrow visits for a day
For His love endures forever.
But He carries me on His shoulders.
For His love endures forever.
His yoke is easy and His burden is light.
For His love endures forever.
My joints may ache and my eyes may strain
For His love endures forever.
But He renews my strengths and sets me on eagle's wings.
For His love endures forever.
Friends may fail me, and I may falter,
For His love endures forever.
But I will persevere,
For His love endures forever.
Be not cast down, oh my soul,
For His love endures forever.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A CHOICE

I recently read a devotional that reminded me that while I can't control what happens to me, I can control my reaction.

On top of that, I did a short Bible study on Hannah. As I thought about Hannah's childless status, compared to Peninnah's abundance of children, my thoughts were drawn to that other similar pair: Jacob's wives, the sisters Leah and Rachel.

In both cases, one wife had baby after baby while the other appeared barren. The barren wife conceived after God intervened. The husband loved the barren wife more than the childbearing wife.

All four women had cause to complain. Leah and Peninnah were unloved; Rachel and Hannah couldn't have children.

But how did they react?
  • With each child, Leah gave credit to God (The Lord has seen, the Lord has heard, I will praise the Lord.)
  • Rachel complained to Jacob ("Give me children or I'll die.")
  • Rachel did pray about it (Gen 30:22 [God] listened to [Rachel] and enabled her to conceive.)
  • Peninnah provoked Hannah on purpose.
  • Hannah poured out her heart to God.
  • Rachel stole her father's gods.
  • Hannah gave her miracle baby back to God.

Four women, similar problems. The heroine (in my eyes) of the first story, the unloved wife Leah, becames the villainness of the second story (Peninnah). Hannah stands out as a woman who trusted God.

The difference? How they reacted to their circumstances.

If I need encouragement to choose to trust God in spite of what is happening around me--all I need to do is to go back to these two object lessons.



***Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books as well as THE BLACKSMITH'S BRAVERY by Susan Page Davis and 16 BRIDES by Stephanie Whitson. Winners will be notified on the blog only in a posting at the beginning of each month of the previous month's winners. Check and see if you're a winner already!***

Monday, November 15, 2010

IT'S ALL ABOUT LOVE

What connects my granddaughter's latest trick with this morning's sermon on church leadership as well as my blog appearance at http://encourageanauthor.blogspot.com/ this coming week?

Love, pure but never simple, love shown by words and deeds.

First of all, darling Jordan. She was running a bit of a fever, but even so, the ever active toddler surprised me by climbing into my lap for a good long cuddle. Next she settled next to her mother and asked her to read
Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown. In the book,a baby bunny threatens to runaway. But every place he plans to go, his mother tells him how she will follow (if you're a sailboat, I'll be the wind that blows you ...) And when my dil asked, "who's the baby bunny?" Jordan pointed to herself with delight.

But while that was sweet (if you haven't read the book for any preschoolers in your house, get a copy!), something else made me giggle. My son held his wife's feet in his lap, lovingly rubbing the soles. He has told me before how much she appreciates it.

Jordan laid down next to her mother and put her feet in her lap--asking to have them rubbed. She wanted that extra show of love as well. She's catching on to love in action.

This morning our pastor preached about church leadership for the third Sunday in a row (as we head into the season where elders and deacons are elected). He opened the Bible to Acts 20, to the chapter where Paul says goodbye to the elders at Ephesus. Everyone is hugging and crying. " What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again." (v. 38) Church elders must love the Lord and His church so much that nothing else is worth a plug nickel.

Starting at midnight tonight, for a week, I will be the guest at the blog Encourage an Author. Casey Herringshaw created a blog for authors to receive some much needed encouragement. What a beautiful ministry! And I look forward to coming week. I know God will bring just the encouragement I need. (And yes, please do stop by once or several times! Even if there is no book giveaway.)

Now how can I pay love forward? God is enveloping me in His loving arms.

***Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books as well as THE BLACKSMITH'S BRAVERY by Susan Page Davis and 16 BRIDES by Stephanie Whitson. Winners will be notified on the blog only in a posting at the beginning of each month of the previous month's winners. Check and see if you're a winner already!***

Sunday, November 14, 2010

JUST IN!


Received this week and available for all book winners: Book 2 of Maple Notch Brides, Bridge to Love.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

GROWING PAINS

No, I'm not talking about my two month old grandson, who weighs more than 13 lbs., thank you very much.


Not long ago, I was congratulating myself for growth in my writing career that have happened without my knowing it:


  • I've built a tribe.
  • I've developed a good instinct for what works in my writing (if my gut tells me something is wrong, I'd better listen!)
  • I've acquired a knack for discovering unusual story ideas.

I should have known a corresponding downward turn would come my way. It hit last week. My editor dislikes my last manuscript, turned in on October 1st. She sent it to a copy editor, who hates it. I don't think that's too strong a turn. She thinks the conflict is unbelievable; both the hero and the heroine are unlikeable; they are inconsistent; and then there are tons of minor questions to resolve.

Gulp. This, then, is when I prove my mettle as a professional. Can I accept and learn from harsh criticism?

This isn't just any story. This is my favorite story. One that I wrote in the last century, one that I've loved every time I've reread it.

But ... I think it also reflects where I was in the 1990s. I have grown, not only as a writer, but a believer, as a person. My hero and heroine represent who I was then. I believe my challenge is to rewrite them to reflect the person I've become.

Pray that I will write a story that honors God and turns readers to His love. Pray that I will be able to see the new growth forest arising out of the ashes of the destruction as I rewrite.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

INTERVIEW & BOOK GIVEAWAY: BLACKSMITH'S BRAVERY



Today I welcome back Susan Page Davis with a few words about the third volume in the Ladies Shooting Club series, The Blacksmith's Bravery.



By age twelve, Vashti Edwards was orphaned and working her way west in saloons. Life in Fergus, Idaho, has given her new hope in Christian friends from The Ladies Shooting Club and an employer who turned her saloon into a restaurant. But money’s tight, and Vashti tries to get the job she’s dreamed of—as a stagecoach driver. Griffin Bane, local blacksmith, is overseeing the stagecoach line and admits he needs more help. But can a woman—even one known to be a good markswoman—handle the challenges and dangers on the trail? And can he brave the beautiful distraction she makes riding alongside him?
Vashti and her boss, Griffin, turn to the Ladies’ Shooting Club of Fergus for extra gun power when the stagecoach line is targeted by robbers. Members willing to defend the passengers and mail can ride the Fergus-to-Boise route for free. Throw a little unforeseen mayhem and romance, and you’ll find this journey unforgettable.

Now for the interview:


1. In Blacksmith’s Bravery, you not only bring back Griffin Bane, you also make an honest woman of one of the former saloon girls. What was your inspiration for the story?

I wanted to do a stagecoach story. I got reading about Silver City and the other mountain towns in Idaho, and how the stagecoaches took people up there. When I saw the actual terrain, I couldn’t believe it. Driving a car up those roads was bad enough, let alone a stagecoach with horses pulling it. I wouldn’t be brave enough, I’m sure. But when I did some more reading about the stage lines and the robberies and all of that, I knew one of my gun-toting ladies had to be in the thick of it. Vashti was a minor character in books 1 and 2, but she steps up here and takes center stage.

Also, in book 2, the owner of the stagecoach line died, so I needed a new man in charge. At first I thought of having Josiah Runnels (another minor character in the series) take it over, but my editor asked for the blacksmith—Griff Bane. A lot of readers liked Griff and wondered if he could be cleaned up and civilized, I guess. So there you go.

2. You have held many jobs on your way to becoming a full-time writer. One of them was blacksmith. Tell us about some of your more interesting jobs.

Wow, yeah—you remembered that. I didn’t shoe horses for very long. Only a few months, actually. Maybe four months after I finished my certification. Then I discovered I was expecting my first child and my hubby decided shoeing horses was probably not a good idea at that time. I never went back to it.

Other jobs I’ve had—waitress, school teacher, horseback riding instructor, clerk in a fabric shop, news correspondent, to name a few.

3. This year has brought many tests your way, including a cross country move. How do you keep going in the face of opposition?

Our move from Maine to Kentucky was actually helpful. We have less maintenance here, and our two children still at home have enrolled in school, so I have more time for writing now. But we’ve had some difficult moments, and the Lord always sustains us. A routine and work habits help when things seem out of control, too.

4. What do you like best about your new Kentucky home?

So far the climate. The people here are very open and friendly as well.

5. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
My Website is: www.susanpagedavis.com. Next up is a cozy mystery releasing in January. Pieces of the Past is a part of the Patchwork Mysteries series from Guideposts. The books are writing by various authors. Also in January, a collection containing all three of my Alaska books will release as Alaska Weddings (from Barbour). And Homicide at Blue Heron Lake (Book 1 in the Mainely Mysteries series my daughter Megan wrote with me) will release in hardcover, large print—from Thorndike Press. After that, look for Love Finds You in Prince Edward Island, a new, standalone historical book coming in April from Summerside Press. All of these can be seen on my website or Amazon.com, and most of my books are also available at www.christianbook.com and fine bookstores everywhere.

Susan will be giving away one copy of The Blacksmith's Bravery. Leave a comment for your chance to win.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

BOOKS IN REVIEW

Last month I missed Mom because of a book she would have loved.

This month I cried myself silly, missing mother and daughter, after reading Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. A young, unmarried mother, is dying, and has to decide who will care for her daughter after her death. I raced through the book and didn't realize how close I felt to the story until the epilogue--when the daughter, now a grown woman, reads her mother's journal.

Oh, Mom. Oh, Jolene.

A wonderful, compelling story.

I also read some new authors: Dead Reckoning, by Ronie Kondig; a terrific romantic suspense; and my first "bugman" books, Shoofly Pie by Tim Downs. Both excellent!

I also recommend a thoughtful mystery called In the Wind by Barbara Fister. The mystery compares the Patriot Act with some of the government actions during the Vietnam war. No one is all good or bad in this thoughtprovoking story.

What good books have you read lately?

Friday, November 5, 2010

INTERVIEW & BOOK GIVEAWAY: STEPHANIE WHITSON



Today it is my privilege to welcome the talented Stephanie Whitson to my blog. The description of 16 Brides caught my attention: (and before you get far in the book, you can identify the ladies in the picture by their clothing)

In 1872, sixteen Civil War widows living in St. Louis respond to a series of meetings conducted by a land speculator who lures them west by promising "prime homesteads" in a "booming community." Unbeknownst to them, the speculator's true motive is to find an excuse to bring women to the fledging community of Plum Grove, Nebraska, in hopes they will accept marriage proposals shortly after their arrival! Sparks fly when these unsuspecting widows meet the men who are waiting for them. These women are going to need all the courage and faith they can muster to survive these unwanted circumstances--especially when they begin to discover that none of them is exactly who she appears to be.




Stephanie, your tagline on your website says “A Patchwork Life.” Tell me a little more about that.

I came to writing fiction because of women’s history. Textile history--most particularly, quilt history--has always fascinated me because of the women those quilts represent. I’m an amateur textile historian (with a book on sod house homemakers and their quilts coming out next year), and patchwork has been a big part of my life for many years. I’ve had a quilt pattern company, sold and designed sewing-related pewter jewelry, been an antique quilt dealer, taken several classes in antique fabric dating and quilt appraisal, and currently volunteer at the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.

Patchwork provides symbolism for women’s lives and the Christian walk. As a public speaker, I offer a menu of lectures and talks. My personal faith journey, which I illustrate with quilts, is titled “A Patchwork Life.” I also do a couple of quilt lectures, “Calico Trails” about pioneer women and “Quilts and the Sod House Experience.” Both of those involve schlepping suitcases filled with quilts. I love it!

I picked up Sixteen Brides because of the rather extreme twist on the familiar mail-order bride story. What inspired this story?

Real history reflected in a 1902 article in a small town Nebraska newspaper. The text was almost exactly the same as the back cover copy on the novel. The headline read ATTRACTIVE WIDOWS (all in caps just like that!) and the article went on to talk about the women who’d arrived in town to file on claims. When I tracked down the background and the real women’s stories, imaginary women began to form in my mind, and I knew I had to pursue it. I always say that “what really happened is more interesting than anything I could make up,” and the more I read about women of the past, the more convinced I am that that’s true.

Your first book was published in 1995. Tell me what changes you have experienced first hand in the Christian fiction field.

When Thomas Nelson bought the manuscript that became Walks the Fire (and offered a three-book contract based on an unfinished manuscript) I was an unpublished first-time author without an agent. Nelson was still accepting unsolicited submissions. (Imagine that.) Since then, things have gotten much more complicated, much more competitive, and much more difficult. I cannot imagine attempting a writing life without an agent who not only knows the industry but also believes in what I’m doing.

Everyone is experiencing the results of the recent downturn in the economy, and publishers are no exception. They are being forced to be much more conservative in their willingness to take a chance on new writers and much more careful about the ratio between sales and advances for everyone else. For a mid-list author like me, it is more difficult than ever to remain published. I’ve known what it’s like to receive a three-book contract based on an idea (no synopsis, no sample chapters--just a paragraph for an editor to take into a meeting). Those days are gone for mid-list authors. My most recent contract came after several proposals were rejected. I re-wrote the one that was finally accepted several times (and with help from another very gracious best-selling author). I also waited a very long time while committees and marketing gurus pondered potentials and ran their mysterious numbers.

A “yes” is much more difficult to come by these days. Writing is more of a walk of faith than ever. It’s important for me to remember that God’s purpose for me is just as sure as it was back in the day when things seemed easier. Times are uncertain. God isn’t.

How true! What are you currently working on?

A Most Unsuitable Match, my 2011 release with Bethany House about a deceased banker’s daughter who heads up the Missouri on a steamboat in 1869 to look for her only living relative in extremely remote and rustic Fort Benton, Montana.
Quilt-themed historical romance for Barbour.
A non-fiction quilt history/pattern book for Kansas City Star Books.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

Hearing from readers who’ve either found Christ or been encouraged in their walk with the Lord as a result of one of my books. It never ceases to amaze and humble me that God does use Christian fiction to change lives. That’s not a cliché.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?

By reading real history and continuing to visit museums and historical sites. I’m working on my master’s degree in history right now, and the reading assignments are difficult, but they always seem to contain nuggets that make me wonder “what was that like?” Sometimes they also upset me with the way they seem to exclude the women’s side of history. For example, I recently read a new biography of Nebraskan William Jennings Bryan. Bryan’s wife got a law degree and learned a foreign language so she could help her husband. I think she got a total of maybe six paragraphs of mention in a book that ran for several hundred pages. GGGRRRRRR.


Grrr is right! In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?


I don’t think that “success” has changed me personally, because I’ve been very careful not to take myself too seriously. By that I mean that I hold the publishing contracts and the books in an open hand, realizing that at any moment this career could be over. Writing is a strange job. The one thing that will ensure that I get to keep doing it is the one thing over which I have least control. That’s sales. Excellence doesn’t mean the books will sell. My promotional efforts don’t mean enough books will sell. However, if the books don’t sell, I won’t have a job for long. Yet another way that writing keeps me humble!

I remain an introvert who would rather hide in the archives learning about dead people than do book signings or teach writing or give public lectures or speak at women’s events. I never feel prepared enough to give a talk and I never take the opportunity lightly. Because I’m not an extrovert, I realize that all the speaking opportunities that come my way truly are from the Lord, because they aren’t something I would naturally seek out. Public speaking is the most surprising part of the writing career God’s provided me.

As a writer, I have had to change my thought process from, “this is fun,” to “this is my job and people are depending on me to do it well.” It’s become a profession with regular office hours and over-riding demands on my personal schedule. That’s something I never envisioned when, back in 1994, I began playing with an imaginary friend named Jesse King.

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?


At www.stephaniewhitson.com, folks can register to receive notification about new book releases.
A Most Unsuitable Match releases in the fall of 2011.
Quilts and the Sod House Experience releases in April of 2011.

At www.footnotesfromshistory.blogspot.com, author friend Nancy Moser and I share anecdotes about the real history behind our stories. Nancy writes about Gilded Age New York (her recent release Masquerade is a romance about a maid and an English lady who switch places--much to the surprise of the lady’s intended :-)). I share tidbits about western pioneer women (although I did post about Secretariat the other day because I met him and wanted to talk about it). Occasionally we have a guest author share about the real story behind the story.

Thanks for being our guest today, Stephanie!

Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of 16 Brides (as well as for one of my books).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

ELECTION RUMINATIONS

I confess, I just don't get it.

A year and a half has passed since I moved from Colorado to Oklahoma. I have listened to the recent election coverage with great interest and a certain sense of disbelief. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, but their reasons for running confounded me.

People campaigning for judge ran numerous radio ads. For a judge? Interesting, informative information--but they weren't running for a statewide office.

One candidate said illegal immigration was the greatest problem facing Oklahoma. Huh? We're not even a border state.

Candidate after candidate listed their heartfelt beliefs ... and I only agreed with a few. I feel like I've moved to a different country, where I don't quite "get" the local culture. I met a mechanic who can't wait to move out to the country where he can have all the guns he wants. (Yes, I'm exagerrating. It's called hyperbole.)

I rest in the knowledge that the people elected are allowed in their positions by the Lord. And pray for them, whatever their stripe.

Jari Askins, Democratic candidate in Oklahoma's historic all-female gubernatorial race, gave a gracious concession speech. Her belief in the people of Oklahoma and her commitment to continue service, regardless of the political affiliation of the office holders, made an impression on me. "I may be leaving this office [lieutenant governor] on inauguration day, but I will not be leaving Oklahoma behind."

I can feel your heartbeat, Oklahoma, even when I don't understand. The Heartland of America is a great place to live.

OCTOBER WINNERS

There were fewers comments last month, therefore fewer winners, probably thanks to my lack of posting!

But congratulations to our October winners! Will the following individuals please contact me at belovedfranklin at msn dot com with their mailing address:

Winners of any of my books:

  • Carolyn Boyles
  • Carol Wong

Winner of Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer:

  • Barb Shelton.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

BY GEORGE I THINK SHE'S GOT IT

I was going to call this the "Rule of Three" until research revealed that in addition to referring to a mnenomic device and a math formula regarding proportions, it also can refer to a wiccan practice. Oops. I am NOT going there.

Often I find the same Bible verse brought to my attention three different times within a short period. Or someone makes the same kind of remark three times. After three repetitions, I begin to register the pattern and my brain says "sit up and listen."

So ... at the risk of once again sounding like I'm bragging (me? never!) ... I've finally started to realize that people within the writing community recognize my name. I am becoming "known."

I still feel so low on the totem pole. I am low on the totem pole. I have written novellas and books for book clubs. Don't misunderstand me. I am proud and pleased with my work, but Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers, or Liz Curtis Higgs, I am not. To my mind, I am still that neophyte writer fighting for every contract and seeking to "break through" into longer fiction.

So the Lord nudged me to say "wake up." Three, now four, things have happened:

  • A writer friend attended a conference where one of her novellas was on sale. She saw a buyer approach the table, pick up her book, and set it down, saying, "Oh, I thought this was the one with Darlene Franklin in it."
  • I introduce myself to writers, and they act like they know all about me.
  • In an interview over at http://apenforyourthoughts.blogspot.com/ Shirley says, "You are fast becoming both a well-known and talented writer."
  • I am being asked to help other writers with their marketing.



When/how did this happen?

Perhaps the application for all of us ... even when we feel stagnant ... We're growing. I have seen this past year as a whirlwind of writing and making a living by it. My marketing efforts are fairly simple. Yet, in spite of that ... God has taken care of it. The credit goes to Him.

I apologize for the lengthy delay in not blogging. I had a wonderful vacation. I came home, exhausted and sick, and missed two Mondays. This week has had its downs (car problems) and ups (another contract promised!) but I began to feel human again. Now I am once again struggling with motivation. I have done next to no writing. Am I scared by success? I don't know.

Maybe next month I should put a word count on my blog so I can stay accountable to all of you!

As always, leave a comment for a chance to win a book this month.

Monday, October 11, 2010

ON VACATION!

I am taking my first official working vacation as a full-time writer this week, working towards arriving in Austin on Saturday to speak at the CenTex chapter of ACFW on "Secrets to Project Management."

Driving no more than 4-5 hours a day, checking out historical sights and museums for upcoming books, spending several days with a good friend ... I can't wait.

My agent reminded me to actually take a vacation while I'm gone. I figure, since I won't drive at night and the sun goes done by 7, I'll have nice leisurely nights. The enforced separation from my computer will either kill or cure me.

I pray I come back renewed, refreshed, and ready to attack the next 3 projects.

For a chance to win one of Darlene's books, as well Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer and Riverwalk Christmas by Lynette Sowell, please leave a comment on any or all posts this month.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH KAREN WITEMEYER


I first met Karen Witemeyer when I volunteered to promote her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride. I fell in love with the book from the first paragraph and happily signed up for her second book. Please join me in welcoming Karen as she discusses her upcoming release, Head in the Clouds.

1. I loved the phrase you use to describe Head in the Clouds, “a recovering romantic.” (The manuscript I just turned in involves two hopeless romantics who believe in love at first sight.) Would you describe yourself as a romantic or as someone with her feet planted firmly on the ground? Why?

I'm an odd combination of the two. In day-to-day responsibilities, I have a practical streak a mile wide. I like to focus on a task and accomplish it. However, when it is time to escape the real world, and I have down time to watch a movie or read a book, the hopeless romantic in me takes over. I read historical romance, I listen to sappy love ballads, and when I have a lot of free time, I soak up those great BBC productions of Jane Austen's novels. Old Hollywood musicals are fun, too. I started introducing my daughter to them this summer. You just can't beat the sigh factor of Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, and of course The Sound of Music. I love to daydream, too, but only in those secret times where there are no other pressing responsibilities – during my morning walk, in the shower, while riding in the car, or in bed just as I'm drifting off to sleep. Although, I'm usually so tired by the end of the day, that those daydreams in bed only last a few seconds before the nighttime dreams take over.

2. There’s nothing like those old musicals. The above question leads to the next—how much of yourself is in your heroine, Adelaide Proctor?

Adelaide was such a fun character to write, because she gave free rein to my sappy side. She adores reading romantic stories from fairy tales to novels, just as I do, and we both claim Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre as our favorite. I read Jane Eyre in high school and fell in love with the story. I've seen every major film version and even watched a live theater musical retelling of the classic tale. I had not started out with the intention to parallel Adelaide's story with that of Jane Eyre, but the comparisons crept up naturally as the plot progressed, and it was fun to allow Adelaide to recognize the similarities between her own unfolding story and that of Bronte's Jane.

On a less cheerful note, I also share some personal history with Adelaide. We both lost our fathers when we were sixteen. And like Adelaide, it brings me comfort to image my dad looking down on me from heaven with love and joy as he watches me muddle through my life.

3. Those kind of connections make our stories authentic. On your website, I noticed that we come from opposite ends of the country—you from California, me from Maine—and both of us ended up in the southwest. What draws you to this part of the country (aside from your husband)?

I came to Texas to attend school at Abilene Christian University and never seemed able to leave. LOL I married my husband who was a student at ACU as well, and after graduate school, we both started working for the university. After 18 years of marriage and three children, we're still in Abilene and still working for the university, although I took about 5 years off to stay at home with the kiddos. I miss the mountains on the horizon and the moderate summers, but Texas has a beauty all its own. The sunsets are glorious, the rugged land naturally elicits frontier spirit, and the people are wonderful. Besides, what kind of hopeless romantic would I be if I didn't love the western land that inspires those hunky cowboy heroes that make my heart flutter?

4. I also came west to go to school and ended up marrying a local boy. American mythology stems from our old West, in my opinion. What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on rewrites for my next novel called To Win Her Heart which is set to release early summer, 2011. It is set in the late 1880s and asks the question – what happens after the prodigal son returns? So many times, we focus on the wonderful homecoming the lost son received from his father, but have you ever asked what life was like for him after the celebration was over? How did he relate to his bitter older brother or the servants and townspeople who were only too aware of his past arrogance and wild living?

In my story, I play on those very questions. My hero is a man recently released from prison who has returned to his faith roots and rededicated his life to the Lord. The heroine is a woman who has been disappointed by men in the past and has little tolerance of those who don't meet her high standards. In an effort to make a clean start, Levi hides his past and Eden believes she has finally found a man of honor and integrity. But when the truth about his prodigal past comes to light, can this tarnished hero find a way to win back her affections?

A blacksmith with a criminal past. A librarian with pacifist ideals. Do they have a fighting chance at finding love?

5. Ooh, what happened after the prodigal’s return. I love it. What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?

This is a hard question to answer. Seeing my first book in print was a dream come true and wonderfully satisfying. However, I think what I have found most satisfying is receiving notes from readers who not only enjoyed my books, but who felt spiritually blessed by reading them. I love to tell fun, light-hearted stories, but beneath the entertainment is a mission to challenge believers to take their faith to the next level of maturity. I need that challenge as much as anyone, and as I write, I pray that something in my stories will resonate with readers and help to strengthen their faith.

6. Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

One of the main things I do to recharge my writer's soul is to read novels by authors I love. I try not to analyze their style or break down their syntax, I simply absorb the pleasure of their storytelling. I receive a lot of my inspiration from other authors. For example, in my debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride, my heroine, Hannah, is what I like to call a 19th century fitness maven. She has a daily exercise regimen that ends ups playing a key role in the makeover of her friend, Cordelia. What initially inspired such an idea? A bicycle enthusiast named Essie Spreckelmeyer in Deeanne Gist's Deep in the Heart of Trouble. Two completely different heroines, but one inspired the other by simply planting a seed that begged the question, what if?


7. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

I recently contracted another three books with Bethany House, so readers can expect to see more light-hearted, historical romance from me. (Which is what I love to write, so I couldn't be happier.) To Win Her Heart will release in either May or June 2011, and then I should have a new book out around the same time each of the three years after that.

Please visit me at my website: http://www.karenwitemeyer.com/. Readers can find interesting vignettes about the research that went into developing my characters as well as enter my monthly historical fiction giveaways. To enter, simply sign up for my bi-annual newsletter and you are not only entered for this month's contest, but for all future contests as well. I give away two Christian historical fiction titles a month. Also, everyone who enters receives a free download of a biblical fiction piece based on the life of Rahab along with a short Bible study that can be used for personal or group study.

I am also online on Facebook and would love to interact with you there, too.

8. In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

The biggest change for me is learning not only to write to deadlines, but to juggle all the marketing, editing, and networking that is piled on top of simply writing the next book. At any one time I can be actively marketing one book, revising another, and brainstorming or even writing a third. It is a crazy juggle for a mom of three who also works full-time, but I'm certainly not going to complain—not when it means I'm living the dream that God planted on my soul.


For a chance to win Head in the Clouds as well as several other titles, leave a comment on any or all blog posts this month.

When a recovering romantic goes to work for a handsome ranch owner, her heart’s not the only thing in danger.
Adelaide Proctor is a young woman with her head in the clouds, longing for a real-life storybook hero to claim as her own. But when a husband-hunting debacle leaves her humiliated, she interviews for a staid governess position on a central Texas sheep ranch and vows to leave her romantic yearnings behind.
When Gideon Westcott left his privileged life in England to make a name for himself in America's wool industry, he never expected to become a father overnight. And five-year-old Isabella hasn't uttered a word since she lost her mother. The unconventionality of the new governess concerns Gideon--and intrigues him at the same time. But he can't afford distractions. He has a ranch to run, a shearing to oversee, and a suspicious fence-cutting to investigate.
When Isabella's uncle comes to claim the child--and her inheritance--Gideon and Adelaide must work together to protect Isabella from the man's evil schemes. And soon neither can deny their growing attraction. But after so many heartbreaks, will Adelaide be willing to get her head out of the clouds and put her heart on the line?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

NEW CONTRACTS!

Today I received the contract for Knight Music, the 3rd book in my contemporary Colorado series. I am rejoicing!

And if I didn't mention it before, I'm also under contract for novella #4, First Christmas in Christmas at the Barncastle Inn. I love writing these novellas at the Christmas season!

I'm also contracted to write 5 devotionals for Heavenly Humor for the Teacher's Soul.

Rejoicing in God's faithfulness--and eager to see where He leads next.

Monday, October 4, 2010

BOOKS IN REVIEW

I am missing my mom more than ever, and it's all because of a book.

I am currently reading The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters. And oh, how I want to talk about it with Mom. You see, Mom and I devoured Peters' Amelia Peabody series together. We both swooned for Rameses Emerson and mourned when the series ended (after maybe 15 titles?) with the discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1824.

Laughter returns to one of Peters' other series--Vickie Bliss, a contemporary archeologist. And how I long to share all the little references that any lovers of Amelia Peabody would recognize. A council of war. The description of the marital act as a "distraction." The former thief turned respectable man of business. I want to show Mom Peter's picture and discuss, "Is this how you imagined she would look?"

I don't know any other Peabody fans. I know Mom would have loved this book ... and she's not here.

I doubt my mother would have enjoyed The Bishop by Steven James, but I devoured it. Page turning suspense, thoughtful philosophical debates from both a scientific and a biblical point of view ... I love James's books and wonder what will happen when he runs out of chess pieces (so far: pawn, rook, knight, bishop. Next up: Queen.)

This was a good month for mysteries/suspense: The Lord is My Shepherd by Debbie Viguie (who is famous for the genre-shattering Wicked) and Deceit by Brandilyn Collins both held me captive to the end.

I read With Every Heartbeat by Kim Vogel Sawyer, an author I have followed since her Heartsong title Dear John. She did not disappoint in this sequel to her best-seller, My Heart Remembers. Three orphans go off to college. . .and each faces the pain of their parentless status in a unique challenge. The story is set just prior to the first World War, one of my favorite time periods.

Friday, October 1, 2010

SEPTEMBER WINNERS

Congratulations to the following winners from September! Please contact me at belovedfranklin(at)msn(dot)com with your mailing address and your choice of book, if applicable.

Winner of Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough: Kameko
Winner of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul: Ginnie
Winners of their choice of one of my books: JoAnne Durgin, Casey, Emma

Thanks! And come back in October for a chance to win Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer and Riverwalk Christmas (featuring Lynette Sowell).

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I expected this to be a significant week in my writing career. I was a finalist in the ACFW Carol awards and I had reasonable expectations to hear from two editors about proposals (saying "yes," please, God!)

Last Sunday night I followed the live blog from the ACFW awards banquet. The mystery category was one of the last two or three or the night ... a long wait.

The honor went to a deserving A.K. Arenz, for The Case of the Mystified M.D.

Take a deep breath. I truly had not expected to win, but the hope refused to die.

Then ... the message I hoped for on Monday, about my agent's meeting with the editor, finally arrived on Friday.

And she hasn't done more than skim the proposal yet. Still pending.

The second proposal? No word on that either.

All of this while I am battling discouragement about my current "WIP" (work in progress for those unfamiliar with writers' acronyms). A book that is due on Thursday. I haven't felt well, but the book is due. I must write, whether or not I'd rather crawl back into bed.

Looking back at it, I realize I shouldn't have singled out this past week. I will, or won't, get the contract. I have books under contract that I must write. God's timing will be just right.

My heart jumped ahead of my head. God still has a lot to teach me.

**FYI: Good News this week: I received copies of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. Go to my last post and leave a comment with your favorite cat story for a chance to win a copy in addition to the monthly book drawings**

Thursday, September 23, 2010

BOOKS ARRIVED! FREE COPY!


A box of books from Barbour awaited me outside my door this morning. I hadn't ordered any. Too early to have copies of Bridge to Love yet (besides, the box was too big for that book). It finally clicked. Must be one of the devotionals

I have many copies of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul. I have had a cat all through my life, including my current "owner," Talia. I contributed 4 stories about my various feline companions to this book.

So ... in addition to the "one free book for 15 comments" this month, I am offering a copy of Heavenly Humor for the Cat Lover's Soul to one lucky cat lover out there. Tell me why you're a cat lover. (Beverly, I know this challenge will appeal to you. The rest of you, surprise me!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baby Isaiah

Oh, the joys of being a Grandma.

On Friday, the 8th day after Isaiah's birth, Jaran and Shelley took Isaiah to the doctor for his circumcision. I joined them, as well as Jaran's father and his new wife.

The doctor wouldn't let us in while she performed the procedure, but after Jaran brought him out, he held a small ceremony. He read the Genesis account of God giving Abraham the rite of circumcision, and then he said a blessing in Hebrew, a prayer that Isaiah will follow the Torah and come to know Yeshua his Savior. John (grandfather) also said a prayer.

A hospital chaplain overheard us, and she came over to rejoice with us. She kept saying how wonderful it was for us to do this for the baby.

From there we went to "Abuelo's" (my suggestion, since the "abuelos" means "grandparents and since Shelley loves Mexican food). I took my second sip of wine ever (my first was at Jaran's wedding) and toasted my precious grandson.

A beautiful occasion, one to be treasured.

**FYI. I am the featured guest at http://roseannamwhite.blogspot.com/ and at http://bookreaderscentral.blogspot.com/. Leave a comment for a chance to win A Woodland Christmas. Also, leave a comment here.**

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH LINORE ROSE BURKARD



Linore Rose Burkard and I met a few years ago when she featured a blurb from my first book, Romanian Rhapsody, on a Christmas blog. Today I am pleased to have her as my guest. Her book, The House in Grosvenor Square, tied for second place in this year’s IRCC, the Reader’s Choice award for Christian novelists.


The House in Grosvenor Square is set in Regency London. Tell us a little bit more about that time period and that literary genre.
The regency is a marvelous period with its own distinct style of dress, manners, speech, and social customs, as well as politics, literature, entertainment, and so on. It begins, technically, when George, the Prince of Wales became Regent in 1811, and ends when he became King in 1820. For such a short historical period, it is a favorite era for romance novelists and draws a wide following of fiercely loyal readers who know their stuff.

Regencies aren’t all that common in Christian fiction. Did you run into any unusual problems in marketing your book?
Due to the newness of the genre in the Christian market, I did run into many people who were totally unfamiliar with a “regency.” Readers who would love my book didn’t recognize they they’d love it, as the setting was so new for them. By reminding them that the regency is the period in which Jane Austen’s novels, by and large, take place, it helped them to get a handle on the genre. They started to recognize that they actually LOVE this time period. And there were, actually, lots of fans of the genre who welcomed a Christian regency with open arms, even joy.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve just submitted a contemporary romance to my agent, and now I’m finishing up a regency time-travel which has been on my heart for years.

Regency time travel! What a fascinating idea!What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
Hearing from readers who really “get” what I do, and reading their descriptions of how how they love the books. It’s like a shot in the arm every time. I don’t know of any greater reward than making people happy, particularly when it involves their spiritual lives. I’ve had a lot of feedback regarding people who were spiritually blessed by the books, and that is my greatest joy.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?
I take breaks from writing. There are lots of people who say you should write every day, and I suppose that in small ways, I do. Either blogging or just answering email is writing. But I do take breaks from novel writing, sometimes shockingly long breaks, I mean, months. I used to say that doing the actual writing of a book took the least amount of time of everything I do as an author. And that may still be true. So much time needs to be spent on marketing, networking, blogging, professional email, etc., that doing the actual writing can be a joy, and yet one of the least time-consuming things on my agenda. Some novels take more work than others, however.

As a Christian author, prayer and Bible study is not only vital but rejuvenating, and keeping up with other authors is encouraging. Like anyone, an author needs rest and exercise, but on the flip side we may need more “alone” time than other people. As an author yourself, you probably know what I mean. : )

What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?
I’m hoping they’ll see my contemporary romance out by even next summer if possible; and then the time-travel. The time-travel is a blast and my beta readers are crazy about it.

My website has free resources for readers so I hope many of you will stop by, and while you’re there, get on my mailing list. I send out occasional illustrated newsletters, and of course you’ll be informed of new books right away. I also give a free download when you sign up that you’ll get automatically after doing so.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer? Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?

I think being published has been very affirming, and it certainly helped me see that writing is a gift that needs to be nurtured and exercised; it isn’t just a weird thing I like to do now and then. It’s a calling, a vocation, a responsibility, and a gift. I thank God for giving me this calling, and I pray He uses my work to bless, encourage and challenge my readers.

Thanks for having me on your blog, Darlene! Just want to mention that my first two books are available for ebook readers through Amazon (Kindle) and on BarnesandNoble.com, if not elsewhere.

Monday, September 13, 2010

AUGUST BOOKS IN REVIEW

August saw me revert to my mystery roots, with a deadline looming. I read books by Robin Cook and Mary Higgins Clark, usually dependable, that were only so-so.

Fortunately for me, I also read two fellow finalists for the Carol award in the mystery category. They were both very enjoying. (In fact, I've decided I have zero to no chance of winning). Check out Mindy Starns Clark's mystery, Under the Cajun Moon. She did every thing I tried to do in Gunfight at Grace Gulch (not my finalist)--tying history in with a contemporary mystery--only better. Kept me turning the pages to the end.

And for excellence in a cozy mystery, I enjoyed The Case of the Mystified M.D. by A.K. Arenz. Having a grandma for a heroine didn't hurt either!

Also this month I read Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis (interviewed about this book in July). As Susan's critique partner, I'm always amazed when I come back and read the finished book, as I would any other book, in great chunks at a time. She's a terrific writer and she certainly delivers in this story of espionage and danger in the years leading up to WWI.

For a different take on a mail order bride story, check out The Vigilante's Bride by Yvonne Harris. A young woman is forced to leave the only home she has ever known--an orphanage--and go west as a mail order bride. Before she reaches her husband to be, her stagecoach is robbed by a vigilante. Harris weaves the complexity of what makes a hero or a villain in this fascinating tail of the old west.

**A reminder: Leave a comment on any or all posts this month for your chance to win one of Darlene's books or Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough**

Sunday, September 12, 2010

NEWS FLASH: Different kind of interview & book giveaway

Long time friend Pat Gonzales (writing as Patti Shene) interviewed me regarding Prodigal Patriot. We discovered a common passion about spiritual gifts. Stop by, read, leave a comment - hoping to see you there!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I'M A GRANDMA AGAIN!

Isaiah Jaran Franklin entered this world on Thursday night at 8:48 PM. A whopping 9 lbs. 7 ozs., 21". He looks a lot like his sister Jordan, except he has lots of hair. Mom and baby are doing well.

Jaran (my son) says: "Our prayer is that he will grow up to cry out (Jaran) 'The Lord is salvation' (Isaiah) so that all may be free men (Franklin)."

I'm in love.

Friday, September 10, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH VICKIE MCDONOUGH


I am delighted to welcome Vickie McDonough to my blog today. Vickie is a fellow Oklahoman, a good friend, and a collaborator on the Christmas anthology, Wild West Christmas.


As far as I know, you have written historical romance exclusively. What draws you to that genre?
Women of the Old West had to be tough and resourceful to survive, and I enjoy reading their stories. I’ve always loved horses, and as a kid and young teen, I read any book I could find that had a horse on the cover. Also, my dad and I watched the westerns of the late 1960s and early ’70s, and I suppose it was then that I fell in love with ranchers and cowboys. Also, as I discovered Christian fiction in the 1980's, I gravitated toward historicals with western settings. It’s still my favorite genre to read, and I guess it just comes natural that I’d write historicals.

I do have a contemporary book out: A Wagonload of Trouble, which is a Heartsong Presents novel, and I’m also in a contemporary novella in a collection called Kiss the Cook Bride.

Earlier this year (April 25) I reviewed The Anonymous Bride, the first book in the Texas Boardinghouse series. What inspired these stories?
I was searching for a new book idea, and asked myself a question:
What if a mail-order bride arrived in town to marry a man who never ordered a bride?
Then I took it a step further and asked: What if three women arrived to marry the same man?

I wondered how such a thing might feasibly happen, and the story kept growing until The Anonymous Bride was birthed. It just made sense that in future books, I let readers know what happened to the mail-order brides who didn’t get married.

You had the unique privilege of an editor approaching you about writing longer books. Did you have any plans for longer books?
Yes, I had hoped to one day move into writing longer books and am very grateful for the opportunities Barbour Publishing has given me.

What adjustments did you have to make between writing Heartsong length novels (45-50K) and writing trade length books?
In The Anonymous Bride, I told the main story, but I also let readers see the mail-order brides in their normal lives before they came to Lookout(my fictional town) and once they arrived, so that gave me several extra points-of-view, which increased my word count. In Second Chance Brides and Finally A Bride, I had two plot lines going that wove in and around each other. Basically, there’s more to the story and you can developed situations better in a longer book.

What are you currently working on?
I just turned in Finally A Bride, book 3 in my series and then I completed copy edits on a South Carolina historical called Mutiny of the Heart. It’s the first in a Heartsong series and releases in December. Next, I’ll be writing the second book in the SC series, which is called Indigo Dreams.

What has been your most satisfactory experience as a writer?
It’s hugely rewarding to see my books in print and to know that after I’m gone, my books will still be circulating and hopefully touching people’s hearts. Something I didn’t anticipate when I first became a writer was all the friends I’d make in the writing world, like you, Darlene. I’ve been blessed to get to know some of my favorite authors and have made some very dear friends.

I know what you mean. I've been privileged to be one of your friends. Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?
I definitely pray a lot that God will give me creativity and allow my books to touch hearts. I’m almost always reading a book. I love to go to movies and watch my favorite shows on TV. I tend to get all kinds of ideas when I’m in the shower.

In what ways has your success changed you, both personally and as a writer?
I think writing and getting published has given me more self-confidence. A long time ago, I went through some difficult things that left me wounded and feeling almost worthless. When I first started writing, I didn’t know if I could even finish a book. Then I did and wondered if I had it in me to write another one. Honestly, I still wonder that every time I start a book, but now I have the assurance that I’ve done it in the past, so I can do it again, with God’s help.

The added income has enabled me to fix some things around the house and to be able to travel more, which is something I never got to do much and always wanted to. I’ve gone on a number of research trips and been able to attend some out-of-state conferences like the ACFW one, which I attend every year.

Other than that, I don’t think writing has changed me much. I’m still scared to death if I have to get up in front of a group and talk. I’m still primary caregiver for my mom and babysit my granddaughter. Still mom to four mostly grown-up boys, and as of October, I’ll have been married 35 years to a sweet computer geek.

Is there any aspect of writing that hasn’t changed much?
I still have to work hard. Have to keep thinking up new ideas. There are no guarantees in the writing world, so I have to keep trusting God to open doors.

How do you stay inspired as a writer, when the daily grind threatens to wear you down?

Prayer helps a lot. I ask God for strength to keep going, especially in the rough times.
Deadlines are a powerful motivator. I’ve never been late for a deadline before, so that motivates me to keep working, to get my book finished, and turned in on time.
Take-out food is my friend, and I’m grateful that my family doesn’t whine about eating pizza when I don’t have time to cook. Brainstorming with my friends is a huge help when I get bogged down and need to look at a story from a different angles.
Did I mention prayer?

What can readers expect to see next from you?
Second Chance Brides releases this month, followed by Finally a Bride, the last book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, next April. I’m also in a Christmas novella collection called Christmas Mail Order Brides, which also releases this month. Next comes my historical South Carolina series from Heartsong Presents. I have a couple of other things in the works but can’t talk about them yet.

Where can people find you on the internet?
My website is www.vickiemcdonough.com
I’m also a regular contributor to a western-themed Christian blog called Bustles and Spurs. www.bustlesandspurs.com

I’m putting together a email mailing list for a newsletter, which I hope to start soon. If anyone would like to be on the list, please email me at fictionfan1@cox.net or leave a comment here with your email address.

Darlene, thanks so much for letting stop me by and be a guest on your blog.

**REMINDER: LEAVE A COMMENT ON ANY POSTS THIS FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF DARLENE'S BOOKS, AS WELL AS SECOND CHANCE BRIDES BY VICKIE. THE MORE COMMENTS YOU LEAVE, THE BETTER YOUR CHANCES.**

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH ERIN RAINWATER


Today it is my privilege to introduce you to Erin Rainwater. She managed to get a book published about that not-quite-historical-not-quite-contemporary time period, the 1950s--Refining Fires. Kudos to her!


Tell me more about your latest release, Refining Fires.

All authors try to make their stories unique, and I am no exception. I think I really pulled it off this time. It’s different in that it consists of three distinct parts. It’s almost (but not quite) like a combination of three short stories, each with its own main characters, where God weaves their lives together into a tapestry that glorifies Him. You might say they are all love stories in some form, but the first, titled “Refining Fires,” is what your readers would consider a romance. A disfigured war veteran reluctantly hires a nurse with a ruined professional reputation. She’s never had a patient so challenging as him, but her options are limited—nil, actually—and she has no choice but to stick it out with him. Her determined efforts help this bitter hero (in the real sense of the word) redefine himself, evoking a raw yearning in his soul while eliciting renewed life from his body. You’ll then meet Susannah, a nine-year-old mountain girl with more “Blind Courage” than she realizes. She must overcome her worst fears in order to save her mama’s life. When things go from bad to worse, she meets a couple whose love has an immense impact on her future. You might not find the “Kept Woman” so likeable at first, but once you learn how she got to where she is, you, like the child and the former love who come into her life, will find she’s worthy of redemption as she learns just Who has been keeping her all along. Paths cross and lives intertwine in these stories, showing how God’s hand is ever on us, leading and refining. Refining Fires goes beyond the simple romance formula, showing how a couple’s love spills over into and impacts the lives of those God brings into their path.


On your website, you say that you’re a student of Krav Maga. Tell me more about that.

I’m less active in it now, sorry to say, but Krav Maga is a self-defense and fighting system developed by and for the Israeli Defense Forces (or IDF). It is extremely effective and brutally taxing (I know I’ve just used up my ration of ‘ly’ words, but this deserves them!). It stretches you waaay beyond any limits you think you had, and teaches you to never give up. Training includes heavy metal rock music blaring in the room, which at first is unnerving, but that’s the point. They provide a stressful environment so that your brain gets trained to handle the stress and to focus despite numerous distractions. Every IDF soldier gets trained in Krav Maga as part of their mandatory service. I can see why!


Your story is set during the 1950s. You called the Korean War “the forgotten war.” What drew you to write about that not-quite-historical, not-quite-contemporary time period?

I was fortunate to grow up in the 1950s, and I still love those olden days. Perhaps it’s because I saw them through the eyes of innocence. But I also chose that time period because I love to share history when I write, and that is a neglected time period in fiction markets. And yes, the Korean War—or “police action” as it was called then—is often referred to as the “Forgotten War,” being sandwiched between the “good war” (WWII) and the politically charged Vietnam War. In some small way I’d like to pay tribute to the aging men and women who served during that war, which began sixty years ago this summer. Anyone who has a chance to visit the Korean War memorial in Washington, D.C. should go. It is a most incredible site to behold.


You’re also a veteran. How has your background as a nurse, veteran, Christian woman impacted your writing?

My Christian world view has a great impact, although my stories for the most part don’t contain the plan of salvation or get preachy. I have to admit, though, that the 3rd story in Refining Fires does go there. I hadn’t planned it that way, but it was one of those times all authors can relate to when a story takes on a life of its own and leads you where it wants to go. Actually, I think it’s more about where God wants it to go. I have had some incredible and unusual experiences throughout my nursing career and while I served in the Army, and some of them made their way onto the pages of my books.


Julia Cameron talks about the concept of “artist dates” in her book, The Artist’s Way. What are some things you do to revitalize and reenergize your writer’s soul?

The outdoors ranks high up there. Rocky Mountain panoramas, babbling streams with sunshine reflecting off the water, the various seasonal changes of nature—all make me reflect on God’s magnificence, which is both revitalizing to my soul and encouraging to my spirit. Taking my darling grandkids there for a picnic adds to the effect.

I was privileged to live in that Rocky Mountain splendor myself. Now I am looking for beauty right here in Oklahoma. What can readers expect to see next from you? Where can they find you on the internet?

Right now my focus is on collaborating with a theater producer in Pittsburgh who is translating scenes from my Civil War novel, True Colors, onto the stage. I earned that honor by capturing the Gold Medal in Historical Fiction last year from the Military Writers Society of America. And readers can always find me at my “virtual fireside” at www.erinrainwater.com. I hope readers will feel right at home and feel free to contact me from there.

**REMINDER: LEAVE A COMMENT FOR A CHANCE TO WIN ONE OF DARLENE'S BOOKS**
***Erin's book is available for purchase at http://www.amazon.com/Refining-Fires-Christian-Romance-Novel/dp/1926712455/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283315533&sr=8-2***

Monday, September 6, 2010

NEWS FLASH

I'm the guest blogger at http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/ today. My subject: work smarter, not harder.

I also have an interview and book giveaway (A Woodland Christmas) up at http://www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com/.

What My Cat Has Taught Me: Lesson # ???

Every morning when I wake up, my cat Talia springs into action. She jumps onto the bed, ready for her best petting time of the day. Then when I stand, she jumps down. She moves ahead of me by a few inches and waits for me to catch up.

Talia knows me well enough to predict where I am headed. She's always hopeful I will go to the kitchen, where she can request more food; but she's equally prepared to walk to the study or the living room. She occasionally nips my heals when I go to the bathroom. When she's not certain, she plunks down on the floor, filling the doorway.

Since I am somewhat uncertain on my feet, I wish she wouldn't do that. I have to step over her, and that sometimes invites an attack on my foot with her claws and teeth.

Every now and then she guesses wrong. She's certain I'm going to the study and instead I go out to the front door. She runs to catch up.

This is a routine that I am sure any cat lover recognizes, one that's been repeated every morning of my life with Talia. This morning, though, I thought, wow, that's like my walk with God.

How so? Three things jumped to my mind.

Whereever I am, there Talia is. Watching me. Waiting for me. So also, the Lord is always with me. I can't escape Him. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20)

Talia waits for signals, then moves with me. In the same way, God promises to whisper in my ear. "Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (Isaiah 30:21, NIV)

Sometimes Talia guesses wrong and heads off in the wrong direction. Sometimes I assume God is going to behave in a certain way, but He surprises me.

More life lessons from my constant companion, my cat.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

AUGUST WINNERS

First of all, a GREAT BIG THANK YOU to everyone who made my August blogs such an outstanding success. Due to the fantastic response, I am able to offer 5 people one of my books. (If this keeps up, I may need to adjust my giveaway guidelines!) One additional person will receive MaryLu Tyndall's book Surrender the Heart as well.

I am asking the following people to contact me privately at belovedfranklin at msn dot com, with the title of the book you would like to receive. Unfortunately, I am unable to give away any further copies of Seaside Romance.
  • Robin
  • Melanie Isaac
  • Barb Shelton
  • Patsy
  • Juanita W.

Sandi Rog is the winner of MaryLu's book.

Congratulations to all! Return in September for more author interviews and book giveaways!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

RUMORS OF ANOTHER LAND

I go to a Spanish group on Monday nights. We're an informal group, grown by word of mouth. People who want to practice speaking Spanish gather for dinner and conversation.

I'm part of the single largest contingent within the group (thanks to my friend Nancy whom I've mentioned earlier): Nancy, me, our pastor, and a lady who grew up in Mexico. Maggie is a very patient teacher with all our mistakes and mispronunciations. Students, teachers, and tourists round out the group.

Last Monday, Maggie insisted I tell her the story of my novella, The Face of Mary "en Español": La Cara de Maria. So by the time I arrived at the restaurant, my Spanish pump was primed. We chatter, loudly, enthusiastically, full of laughter and humor, with lots of appeals to a dictionary or to Maggie. We sense the people around us listening to our conversation. We have to remember to switch back to English for the staff, none of whom speak Spanish.

By the time we depart, we are in Spanish mode and only slow slip back into English. For a few short hours, I leave Oklahoma City behind and travel in my mind and heart to Mexico.

This week my poor critique partner made the mistake of choosing a Mexican character. She knows French, but her knowledge of Spanish is about the same as my level of French: next to nothing. For instance, she gave Patrillo a nickname of "Trill." I said, "His name would be pronounced pah-TREE-yo." And so on.

Occasionally we hear rumors of heaven the same way. We visit among people where we catch a glimpse of the sounds and images and feelings of heaven. We have a "mountain top" experience.

When we return to the real world--let's hold on to those echoes of heaven in our hearts.

You have until Tuesday night to leave a comment for the August book drawings: it looks like I will be giving away five of my books as well as one copy of Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall. Leave a comment on any or all of the posts during August to increase your chances to win. A new drawing begins on September 1.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NEWS FLASH

I am the featured guest this week on Margaret Daley's blog. Check it out at http://margaretdaley.blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

AN ALTERED STATE OF MIND

My children (both of them at some time or other) used to accuse church people of being hypocritical. They said they went to church and pasted on smiles and pretended all was fine when it wasn't.

Today I decided that's not hypocritical. That's what worship is meant to do: to shift our attention from the things of this world to the sovereign God we worship.

I'm a musician, and I love to sing at church. (This morning a gentleman asked who was going to be blessed to have me sit behind them today!)

Sometimes I sing quietly--especially when it's a new song and with today's lack of music, I don't know the melody. But sometimes it's a familiar song, the melody soars and suits my soprano voice, and the words inspire my deepest worship. That happened today with Michael W. Smith's "Great is the Lord." As we sang "now lift up your voice," I lifted my voice and sang my heart out.

Then during the offering, they turned on a recording of my all-time favorite Resurrection hymn: Charles Wesley's "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." I wasn't the only one humming along. Oh, and I can't forget the rare treat of singing a hymn by my favorite hymn writer, Fanny Crosby: "Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It"--with the original melody, no less.

Our pastor continued his series on Revelation, this time focusing on the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church (from the marriage supper of the Lamb in Revelation 20). He described worship attendance as a date night and admitted how he often struggles with being distracted from worship. Don't we all?

But then he turned the tables. Our prayer should be that God, in all His awesome glory, should distract us from the petty problems that turn our attention away from Him.

Music, more than anything else, does that for me.

This has been a banner month for my blog. The most comments ever--over 60. So far we are scheduled for six giveaways during August. Keep up the good work!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

NEWS FLASH

Check out http://trishperry.blogspot.com/ for an interview and book giveaway for Seaside Romance!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

NEWS FLASH

Check outhttp://noveljourney.blogspot.com/2010/08/guest-blogger-darlene-franklin.html for my article on voice and a chance to win Seaside Romance.

Monday, August 16, 2010

FRIENDS

One friend can make all the difference.

Nancy has become my best friend since she befriended me at my new church. I say she befriended me, because she sought me out, calls me at least once a week, and draws me into her circle of friends. Our friendship was cemented as we watched the ice skating Olympics together.

Nancy in turn introduced me to her friends ... so on the Saturday after my birthday, I enjoyed lunch with Barbara, Maggie and Pat. Nancy is determined to learn Spanish, so we go to a Spanish group together; and all these years later after my summer in Mexico, I am becoming close friends with Mexican Americans. Greetings of “Buenos días! Como estás?” ring out as often as “Hi! How are you?” (and for those Spanish purists, I can’t find symbols for upside down exclamation points or question marks.)

And then there’s choir and a ladies’ mission group and ... the list goes on.

But if I still needed proof that Nancy and I are soul mates, I received it when Nancy brought me a gift from her recent trip to Arizona.

A wooden Christmas ornament, hand painted with Navajo design.

Nancy didn’t know I treasure my Christmas ornaments. Each one tells a story.

But she knows me. And she picked a present I will treasure.

Thank you, Lord, for Nancy.

Leave a comment for a chance to win one of my books or Surrender the Heart by MaryLu Tyndall.

Friday, August 13, 2010

NEWS FLASH

I am the featured guest at http://www.ajhawke.blogspot.com/. Stop by, learn a little more about me and leave a comment for a chance to win Prodigal Patriot.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

JULY WINNERS

Wow. Last week I had 36 comments left on the various blog entries, more than I used to get in a whole month! A big thanks to MaryLu for being my guest, and to all of you who stopped by.

Winners from the month of July:
  1. Winners of The Crimson Cipher by Susan Page Davis: Keli and Merry.
  2. Winner of Love Finds You in Calico, California: Janet
  3. Winner of whichever of my books that they choose: Rachel, Jodi, Rebecca

If you haven't heard from me regarding your winning entry, please contact me at belovedfranklin at msn dot com.

This month MaryLu Tyndall is giving away a copy of her book, Surrender the Heart, and I will be giving away 3-4 of my own books (if we reach 46 comments this month, I will give away 4 books!)

Monday, August 9, 2010

NEW DIRECTION?

I have been debating what to say in today's post. As much as I adore my granddaughters (yesterday Jordan grabbed a pair of sunglasses and wandered around the store looking like a minature sun goddess), I know they're more interesting to me than to you.

And I already have 38 comments for the month of August. Wow! People really respond to hearing from writers.

BTW, that means I only need to receive 8 more comments all month to give away 4 of my books this month. (1-15 comments, 1 book; 16-30, 2, etc.) Of course, MaryLu Tyndall is also giving away a copy of her wonderful book, Surrender the Heart.

So do I go the route that so many successful blogs do, focusing entirely on reviews and interviews? Or do I continue my present practice, doing that once a month and talking about my favorite topic after writing (me, of course!) the rest of the month?

I started this blog in the throes of grieving over the death of my daughter. I wanted a place people could come and grieve with me, to learn how I was doing without having to repeat the story over and over again. And many wonderful people supported me through that difficult year.

Since then my life has changed in so many ways. My mother also died. I moved from Colorado to Oklahoma. I've lost my daughter and my mother, but I've also gained two beautiful grandchildren (I got to see my grandson's face via ultrasound for my birthday. Oh, my! Engraved on my heart) I ended my career with Dish Network and now write full time, the fulfillment of a twenty-year dream. This blog has traced my journey, a public journal of sorts.

So that's my question today. Any input from my readers? Anything my new readers would especially like to see?