Please give a warm welcome to Darlene Franklin, our gem of the week.
MR: We’re so happy to have you here this week, Darlene. 🙂
You’re one busy lady. Could you tell us how you manage to juggle such a busy home life, a full-time writing career, and a cat?
DF: Do I still mention a cat in my bio? Uh-oh. I miss Talia greatly. Actually, lately, I’ve had to struggle with slowing down. I live in a nursing home, and my health doesn’t allow me such an aggressive writing schedule. I do still spend plenty of time with my grandkids, friends here at the home, and online.
MR: I’m so sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you still spend time with family. Would you mind sharing a little about your history and your family with us?
DF: I grew up in Maine. After finishing college (Bible and music) and seminary (religious education), I moved to Denver and fell in love with the Rockies. I stayed there through a divorce, my children growing up, my daughter’s death, and my mother’s declining health. We moved to Oklahoma to be near my son and his family. My son loves the Lord and is a devoted family man (can you tell I’m proud?). I have the sweetest daughter-in-law, two teenage granddaughters who are spreading their wings, and almost-six year old Jordan and four-year old Isaiah.
MR: Even though you’re having health issues, you still sound very blessed, as am I. 🙂 I’m interested to know why you chose the genre you write under. Is there some special reason?
DF: You could say the genre chose me. I tried a variety of things—nonfiction, devotions, mysteries—but over time I found romance suits me best. Historical romance in particular. So many fascinating things happens in the past, that I get to bring to life! I often say God has a sense of humor, giving a single mother to the task of writing romance. But the point is, I love writing about the greatest love of all—God’s love for us.
I have published a lot of devotions (the next group will appear in Women of the Bible, coming from Barbour in 2015), and am working on a year-long book. Lately I’ve also started experimenting with poetry.
MR: How does where you live affect your writing? Do you find it easier to write in one place as opposed to another?
DF: Noise doesn’t bother me, but I do need to be left alone. Here in the nursing home, I set up my computer on my table, turn on the TV, and write.
MR: One question I like to ask everybody I interview is: What is your favorite book you have written and why?
DF: And I hate this question, because it’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! I point to Dressed in Scarlet, my first historical romance which also finaled in the Book of the Year awards—that convinced me I could not only write historical, but I could do it well.
MR: I can understand that, although I also have one I favor. 🙂 What book are you giving away this week, and is it your newest one?
DF: I am giving away an electronic copy of An Apple for Christmas,which is my newest book. It’s book #4 in the Christmas Traditions series.
Ruby Nelson trades her job in the laboratory for teaching in a small girls’ school in Vermont. Twin sisters challenge her position—and their father captivates her imagination. Will the orchard grower graft Ruby onto his heart?
MR: Do you mind giving us a small excerpt?
DF: From the first page:
Spruce Hill, Vermont, 1895
Ruby Nelson ran her hands across the oiled surface of her teacher’s desk. Few understood her decision to leave her research position in New York to teach in a small, all-girls school in Vermont.
The twelve girls on her class list were the reason she accepted a teaching position. A dozen young minds to mold, to be seen as individuals. As she read her students’ names, she pictured each girl’s appearance. A person’s face revealed so much. How well were they taken care of? What adornments did they wear? How did they style their hair?
Comparing the reality to her guesses made it fun. Two girls had the same last name, twins, probably. Pippin and Margil? She shook her hand. What unusual names for girls.
Next, she examined the applications, including transcripts, essays, referrals. One girl was a year younger than the others, hungry for something more challenging. An only child. Ruby stared out the window. That had been her, thirteen years ago, too smart to fit in, too small to play most games.
A knock on the door interrupted her perusal of her roster. She stood and straightened her skirt. “Come in.”
A man came in, a girl on either side. Twins, clearly, by their appearance. “Miss Nelson?” “Yes?”
“Miss Walker told me we were free to visit.” He took off his hat. “I’m Mac Cortland, and these are my daughters, Pippin and Margil.”
MR: This sounds so interesting. I can’t wait to read it!
So what is it about writing that keeps you plugging on? Have you always wanted to be a writer?
DF: I found my diary when I was 10, and writer was one of the occupations I had listed. I also worked for a newspaper for a couple of years. But I began writing seriously, every day, in the wake of my divorce, back in 1991. Many times in the early years, I asked God, “should I stop?” and He would say, “Not yet.”
Now, the book club I’ve worked with for ten years is shutting down. Once again, I’m asking God, “should I stop?” with a bit of panic in my voice. I can’t imagine not writing, and trusting Him to show me what next.
MR: We’ve enjoyed learning about you, Darlene. Could you leave us with some advice for those out there still striving to make their dream of being a published author come true?
DF: Two basic pieces of advice: read, read, read and write, write, write. Don’t worry about grammar or whether it’s good enough to publish. You get better just by writing.
Also, hook up with a good writer’s organization, such as ACFW. You network with other industry professionals and you learn the craft at the same time. A good idea.
MR: Good answer. I know from experience how much being a member of ACFW helps. 🙂
Folks, don’t forget to leave a comment and contact info to be entered to win an electronic copy of Darlene’s newest book: An Apple for Christmas!!