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Thursday, August 30, 2012


Inspired by the hard-working writers of the Facebook group Writers to Encourage, I am offering the following contest for all interested writers. Please read the instructions carefully.


  1.  A complete short story, article, devotion (genre open) on 1-2 pages, single-spaced.
  2.  Story inspired by the picture below (two children on swings)
  3.  Minimum of 10 entries required for this to be a valid contest.
  4.  Contestants will not receive any feedback on their stories.
  5.  Contestants must be unpublished within the past 12 months.
  6.  Stories will be judged based on formatting, originality, reflection of the theme, and grammar and spelling, as well as good writing. Please see guidelines below for formatting guidelines.

DEADLINE: Thursday, September 6, 2012 (midnight). 

PRIZE: A copy of one of Darlene Franklin's latest books, A Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas and Postmark:Christmas; or a brief critique (up to five pages). Also, if the author desires,  publication on this blog. 

SUBMISSION: Submit document as a word attachment via email to: belovedfranklin(at)msn(dot)com.
JUDGE: Judge: Darlene Franklin is the author of twenty novels and novellas, with five more coming out next year.  Among her books are BOTY (nor Carol) finalists Dressed in Scarlet (from Snowbound Colorado Christmas)  and A String of Murders as well as two books in the Texas Trails series from Rivernorth Fiction.  The prizes for this contest include the winner’s choice of her two September releases, A Bride’s Rogue in Roma, Texas (historical romance) and Postmark: Christmas, a contemporary Christmas novella.

  • Font: either Courier New or Times New Roman
  • Size: 12 point
  • Margins: 1" all around
  • Tabs: 5 spaces
  • Paragraphs: enter/1 tab first line of paragraph (exception: first line of story/chapter/section is left justified
  • Alignment: to the left, not justified
  • Line spacing: 2 spaces between lines is industry standard; I have said single spaced, to give you a higher word count. 
  • Word spacing: single spaces between words. single space after period.
  • Be sure to include the title of your story and your name on the both pages. On the first page, drop down 1-2 inches and center the title/name. On the second page, put the title/name in a header. (If you don't know how to make a header, go ahead and put it on the top page at the far left

Sunday, August 26, 2012


I adore the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. At times boring, there are those heart-stopping moments of emotion and beauty. And this show, unlike Dancing with the Stars, highlights many different kinds of dance, from Bollywood to Russian folk dance, from classical ballet to hip hop. At its best, the dancers touch on universal themes that people from every walk of life can connect with.

All of the "arts"--music, dance, visual art, writing, acting, and others--do that. I have noted that anew since I've been here. Residents who don't speak, or move, or do much beyond eat and sleep, will sit up, clap, sing, participate in music.

Last night, one feisty octogenarian sang along with every hymn her son played. As he played "The Old Rugged Cross," she buried her head in her arms on the table, softly crying. For a world of lost sinners was slain.  I felt her heartbeat. That's me, Lord! You died for me! I went over there and put my arms her.

When people meet me as "author" first, they are often surprised to discover I'm also a musician. I tell them I was a musician long before I was a writer; I started playing piano when I was nine. Although my gnarled, arthritic fingers don't play well any more, people still seem to enjoy it. This morning, now that I have a hymnal, I played and sang for about 45 minutes. It was a private time between me and God, although I hoped it might minister to others who were in the room.

I played a single hymn, and the applause began. People called out occasionally, praising and/or thanking me. As I was tiring, one of the younger residents (even younger than me), joined me. He loves music (he seems to know the words to every song the performers sing), but this touched him anew. Tears in his voice, he talked about hearing these songs at his grandmother's church.

Later an aide told me that another resident, who never talks, was singing along.

Among the hymns I sang, I found an old favorite: Spirit of God, Descend Upon my Heart. The third verse left me in tears: Teach me to feel that Thou art always nigh;
Teach me the struggles of the soul to bear.
To check the rising doubt, the rebel sigh,
Teach me the patience of unanswered prayer.
Those words didn't mean so much when I thought I was too "spiritual" to feel rising doubt or a rebel sigh. Now I've lived long enough to experience those "struggles of the soul," and the knowledge that God is always nigh is what sees me through.

Please pray with me as I play and sing for myself, my God . . .and the people around me.

P.S. Last week's winners were Keli Gwyn (Postmark: Christmas, which arrived this week) and Dana Wilkerson Spille (A Bride's Rogue). This week, for every 5 comments received, I will give away a copy of Postmark: Christmas. Please leave contact information with your comment so I can get in contact with you if you win.

Please answer this question for a chance to win: Talk about your favorite hymn or a time that music touched you in a deep way.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I can summarize my frustrations in living at the nursing home with one word: TIME.

I'm supposed raise my feet, to sit in my recliner with my legs up, several times throughout the day. I must do it, for my health. I try to do it. I would do it more often. . .except for the problem of time.

Because, you see, when I try to stretch out for half an hour, I end up losing two hours of work time. I wait for someone to bring me back to my room. Then I wait for someone to take me back. And if that happens during meal times or shift change. . .I wait my turn. If I need to take a pain pill in the middle of it. . . even more time.

I have the same problem when I want to get up . . . go to bed. . .I always have to wait. I am at the mercy of the people who need to help me.

What are my options?

  • I can stay in my room, either with my feet up (to rest) or down (to work). The problem is, my room is the coldest in the building. They've tried adjusting my air conditioning vent, but it remains horribly cold. So working in there really isn't practical.
  • I not stretch out. But since I'm in the nursing home to improve my health, that would be foolish.
  • I can continue to rant and rave about spending so much time waiting.
  • I can find a profitable way to use the time I'm waiting. (Heaven forbid, should I pray?)
In essence, I guess I'm saying the Serenity prayer to myself.  God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. . .like nurses' schedules. . . the courage the change the things I can . . .like working in my icebox of a room. . .the wisdom to know the difference. . .changing my attitude.

I don't want to change my attitude. I want them to cooperate, to some extent, at least, with my schedule. But that isn't realistic. 

What things eat away at your time? If you apply the test of the Serenity prayer (what can you change? what can't you change? and how can you tell the difference?), how might things change?

P.S. Ladette Kerr is the winner of Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas, from last week. This week I am adding a second chance to win Bride's Rogue (or an older title, if you prefer and if I still have copies). Leave a comment with your contact information in it for a chance to win. Also, I want an answer to my question above for you to qualify for the contest.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


This week I've been reading about Isaac, Jacob, Esau, and "the blessing." The devotionals in the Bible mentioned how to respond once you know what God's will is for your future. Among the words used were "prepare" and "sacrifice."

Well,  I spent fourteen years preparing before my first book came out, and these past few months, I've found it difficult to write anything but I still finished the two contracted manuscripts for August.

Yesterday I was rewarded with the arrival of my latest published book: A Bride's Rogue in Roma, Texas.  It should be released publicly on September 1st. Woo hoo!

But thinking of fourteen years made me think of someone else who served fourteen years to receive  his dream: Jacob. Seven years for Leah and seven more for Rachel. I feel like I'm in pretty good company. Jacob didn't always make good choices, or the best choices, and unlike his grandfather, needed to grow in his faith. But in the end he became a spiritual giant, able to wrestle with God and receive a blessing. He thought he lost a son, his beloved son Joseph, to death, for two decades. He's also the one who taught me to treasure Jaran and not to make him feel like my mother's love was stunted because I lost Jolene. . .no wonder I identify with this man.

This week I am offering a copy of A Bride's Rogue to one lucky reader. Please leave your email address or some way to reach you in your comment.

In A Bride's Rogue, a proper Victorian maiden inherits a steamboat from the father she never met--along with the resident gambler.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Yesterday I received an email from my friend, Karla Johnson. In part she said:

In African American churches, you will often hear a prayer of gratitude, which typically includes a resounding agreement from the pews.  "Thank you God, for THIS day.  For it is a day that was not promised to us.  Thank you for waking me up this morning and starting me on my way."  I've always been in the "AY-MEHN!" choir on this one.  Life is short and uncertain.  The reminder towards gratitude--that "The Lord is Blessing Me Right Now" simply because I have breath--brings strength and joy.

Yesterday was my birthday. I had a wonderful day on Thursday. Friday was only so-so. Not a bad day. Just nothing special. Fish for lunch (for someone who would put fish next to the bottom rung on a list of least favorite meals). Bingo without winning anything. The only word on writing a definite "no" on one project.

I was giving myself a pity-party when I heard from Karla. She also spoke of receiving a blessing by being a blessing . . . and I was able to thank God that I could minister to the activities director, who persevered through the Bingo games even though her home was threatened by wild fires. I also ministered to a fellow player by speaking the truth about what had happened.

My attitude began to change. I accepted the aide who painted by fingernails to match my toe nails as a special birthday blessing.

The hamburger (complete with bun), french fries and cherry cobbler for supper tasted better than ever.

And when my son arrived with his wife and children (oh, and my favorite caramel sundae), why, that was just the icing on the cake.

I haven't used my prayer journey Bible and prayer journal for months (another blessing: I could reach for and pick up the heavy Bible). I turned to the last entry: dated Thursday, March 22, 2012.

One day before my right arm began hurting. Two days before it hurt so bad I coudn't move it without screaming (it stayed that way for about three weeks). Three days before I woke up and couldn't get out of bed. Four days before I entered the hospital with a high fever and an infection in my blood.

I returned to the hospital the day after the fourth of July, this time with a bowel obstruction that they wanted to correct without surgery. It took ten days.

From there I went to the nursing home. I am stronger and in better spirits than I have been for a long time. I have finished one manuscript, am close to finishing another one, and been promised contracts for three more books.

The Lord was blessing my birthday just because I had life and breath? Absolutely. Did I expect to make it to my birthday? Not necessarily, after the year I've had.

But I am here. Better than in a long time. With God opening the doors ahead of me both of life and of career.

Praise the Lord.