Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma near her son’s family and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She has written over forty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. You can find Darlene online at https://www.facebook.com/darlene.franklin.3
Welcome back to Novel PASTimes! You’ve been our spotlight author before, but let’s start with a little bit of background. How long have you been writing historical fiction? What drew you to the genre?
My first historical fiction was published in 2008, Dressed in Scarlet in Snowbound Colorado Christmas. I’ve always enjoyed historical fiction—what better way to learn about the past? But writing it frightened me. Instead, the research for Dressed in Scarlet was fun, and the novella finaled in ACFW’s Book of the Year contest. After that, I was no longer as afraid; and it was a smart marketing move. Publishers receive many more contemporary proposals than historical, and I began to sell more books.
You’ve had a busy year with novellas in several collections. We talked about Priceless Pearl in the Homestead Brides collection the last time you visited. Now tell us about Jacob’s Christmas Dream in the Christmas Mail Order Angels series.
Becky Patterson escapes the stifling life at her father’s parsonage for an exciting life as a mail-order bride. . .only to learn her potential is a part-time preacher, Jake Underwood. Her dreams of working alongside Jake in his store stall when an itinerant preacher wants to ordain him as pastor of the growing church. Will Becky accept God’s calling on her life—or will she reject Jake’s love and the future God has planned for them?
What are your favorite things about the main characters, Becky and Jake?
Becky and Jake are both committed Christians in love with each other but at odds over his calling to the ministry. I like Becky’s feisty nature—she’s independent, and proud of it. But she can’t keep herself from helping others, as she has all her life.
I like Jake’s determination to put down roots and help Angel Vale grow into a town after his difficult childhood.
Jacob’s Christmas Dream is the first in an 11-book series. When can readers expect to find the other titles, and who are some of the authors?
Christmas Mail Order Angels started out as an idea for a long novel (100K), focusing on three out of twelve couples. Mail order brides are a staple in the historical romance genre, and the idea of a mining site wanting to become a permanent town appealed to me.
Then I realized each couple deserved a story of their own, and so the novellas series started. I am blessed to have many talented authors in the set: Susan Page Davis, Cynthia Hickey, Brandi Boddie, Jennifer AlLee, Teresa Ives Lilly, Tanya Stowe, Patty Smith Hall, Ann Green, Martha Lou Rodgers, and Lynette Sowell.
The books will be published every Friday from August 7th through October 23rd, with a volume of the first five books to be published on September 25th. After the final book is published, we will have a second volume, as well as a complete anthology
That sounds great! You also just had a novella, An Apple for Christmas, release as part of the Christmas Traditions e-book collection. What is that story about?
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?
You’ve written both novels and novellas. How do you approach these differently? And do you write the story and see whether it works better as a novel or novella, or do you decide the length/format up front?
I don’t really approach them differently, except for the length of time it takes to write it. The longer the story, the more I plan, to make sure the story doesn’t bog down in the middle.
I always know the length/format up front, mostly by contract. Since I’ve been self-publishing, I have written novellas ranging in length from a 10K short story (Christmas Visitors) to a 25K novella, Jacob’s Christmas Dream. I stay around 20K for a novella, but that’s not set in stone.
Sometimes my novella subject would probably work better as a novel, but I’m committed to novella length. Instead of changing the story, I squish into a novella.
As far as novels go, I can’t seem to write anything longer than 70-75K. I have always written “short.”
What do you see as the pros and cons of writing a full-length novel versus a shorter novella?
Visitors, come back tomorrow for Darlene's answer to this and other questions. And don't forget to enter our drawing to win an e-book version of Jacob's Christmas Dream! Just click the Rafflecopter entry below or leave a comment answering this question from Darlene:
If you lived in the 1800s, would you choose to be a mail order bride? Why or why not?
Be sure to include your name and email address (with 'at' and 'dot' spelled out to help avoid spam). The winner will be drawn on Friday. We'll see you tomorrow!
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