Welcome back! Today I’m finishing my interview with Darlene Franklin, author of several books in the historical romance, devotional, and  cozy mystery genres. Darlene has been writing for nearly 20 years now and had her first book published in 2005.

Darlene has been through many personal struggles as she’s been writing over the years, and  today we’ll learn how God has taken her through her journey as well as hear her advice for others who may find themselves in challenging situations.

Darlene Franklin

Darlene, how has God’s hand led you through your writing journey?

I’m usually most aware of God’s hand after the fact. For instance, when I was fretting over the lack of income since I began writing full time, I was contacted about writing two more books. And it hit me: in the seven months since I had taken that leap of faith, the number of book contracts had doubled from seven to fifteen. So I know the money will come … and God has made it clear to me that I have made the right decision.

In 2001, after a decade of writing, I wondered if I should give up. So much effort, so little to see for it. The answer I received in that period of searching was that I didn’t have to know whether God wanted me to write for the rest of my life. I only needed to know whether God wanted me to write at that time. And I had a story on my heart that I felt compelled to write (and no, it hasn’t sold.)

I know you’ve recently been through some personal struggles. What advice can you give to other writers when they find themselves in a crisis but the writing must go on?

My first book came out in 2005, my second not until 2008. Since then I have written seven more books and novellas.

During that same time period, my daughter committed suicide, I had major surgery (out of work for three months), moved out of state, and this year my mother has died.

I tell your readers that, not for sympathy, but to say it can be done! When you face challenges:

  • Use your writing as an escape. In the darkest days after my daughter’s death, I could immerse myself in the fictional world of Grace Gulch (featured in my cozy mysteries) and have fun with my wild and wacky heroine.
  • Use them to deepen your writing. After the fact, I realized that I had given two minor characters in upcoming books dementia and a stroke—issues that my mother was struggling with. And I can’t count how many devotionals I have written out of the lessons God has taught me.
  • If you can’t write … don’t. And don’t stress about it!
  • Run your manuscript past a critique group—always a good idea, but even more important when your mind keeps wandering to your personal problems.
  • Enlist the support of prayer groups such as the prayer loop on American Christian Fiction Writers.
  • Know that editors are willing to work with you on the deadline, unless you make a habit of it.

As far as how, I set daily writing goals, ones I know are achievable, and then I add in extra days (you can read more about my process at thebookdoctorbd.blogspot.com) so when a day (or a week) comes that I don’t meet my goal, I have extra time to work on the project. I schedule my priorities around that, including my quiet time, family, office job (when I still had one), church … and I’ve dropped a number of worthwhile activities.

I hope you’ve  enjoyed hearing from Darlene and her writing journey. She has a lot more to share on her blog. And, don’t forget to to stop by and leave her a comment for a chance to win a free copy of one of her books (your choice!).

Thanks for joining me in my interview with Darlene Franklin.  Later this week I’ll continue  my series of posts on primary sources and will look at how to find contemporary sources, such as experts, to interview for your story or article.

For today’s (and next Monday’s) post, I’d like to introduce you to fiction writer Darlene Franklin. Darlene has only been writing for a few years and has had some devastating personal challenges along the way, yet in that time she has written several books as well as short stories and devotionals. I talked to Darlene about her writing career as well as her advice for getting through tough times while you’re trying to write.

Here’s Darlene…

Darlene Franklin

First of all, Darlene, how did you break into writing, and how did you find your current niche?

I was fortunate to have a short devotional published after I’d been writing for two years. After that, publications were fairly few and far between until my first book, Romanian Rhapsody, came out in 2005.

As far as finding my niche, let’s just say that romance found me. At first, I wrote about personal struggles. I’ve never had much success selling personal experience stories–only a few. Then I tried my hand at fiction, a prairie romance; and I discovered my natural voice. I give the credit to God; the only insight into human love this divorced mother has comes                                               from the God who loves us!

I’ve tried a lot of genres, but romance (contemporary and historical) and devotionals seem to be the best fit. That’s been mostly a matter of trial and error.

What, to date, has been the most rewarding part of your writing career?

Well, I love getting paid to make up stories! I also love teaching other writers. I have had a few special reader responses as well.

Talk a little about Beacon of Love and how that book came about. What was your inspiration for it?

In Beacon of Love, a doctor afraid of the water and a lighthouse keeper’s daughter fight to keep the light burning throughout a hurricane. It’s the first book of three historical romances set in Rhode Island; the three books are being repackaged this summer as Seaside Romance.

I’m a native New Englander, and in fact my parents lived on the Maine coast for almost 30 years. So when I read about a lighthouse destroyed during the Great Gale of 1816, I knew what I wanted to write about!

Where do you see yourself in the future as a writer? What goals have you developed for yourself?

My immediate goal is to have enough books in print and under contract to make a full-time living. That includes moving into writing trade-length books.

In the future, I’d like to be both a recognized writer (not necessarily best-selling, although that would be nice) and someone who helps train the next generation of writers.

Next Monday, I’ll be discussing with Darlene how God has guided her through her writing and her challenges to get her where she is today. Please stop back!

In the meantime, you can get to know Darlene better by visiting her blogsite. and, I understand she is having a book giveaway contest during the month of April for anyone who leaves a comment on her blog!

See ya next time!

Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, for children or for adults, at some point, you will find yourself having to locate primary sources for your writing.  So what exactly are primary sources, why do you need them, and,  most importantly, how do you find them? The first part of this two-part post will focus on what they are and why you need them. Next Monday, I’ll offer some tips on how to locate them.

Primary sources, or original sources, as they are sometimes called, are firsthand, original, unedited, and uninterpreted works. They are created by the people directly involved in whatever the event was.  So if you’re looking for a primary source from the Civil War, you’ll need information from someone who was actually there.

These primary sources can take the form of personal letters, journals, or diaries, manuscripts, speeches, autobiographies, newspaper or magazine articles, art work, photographs, poems, films, interviews, or firsthand observations–just to name a few.

Primary sources differ from secondary sources in that, while secondary sources may also take the form of newspaper or magazine articles, as well as encyclopedias, books, or websites, secondary sources are just that—they’re secondary. These sources comment on, analyze, interpret, or summarize primary sources.

For example, an artist’s painting would be a primary source, but an article critiquing that painting would be a secondary source. An autobiography of Henry Ford would be a primary source, but a website discussing that autobiography would be a secondary source.

Both types of sources can be helpful toward your research, but primary sources will provide you with the most accurate information possible. What could be more accurate  than using a direct  quote from the person you’re writing about to share their firsthand observation on something, or getting solid information from an expert on the topic you’re writing about, instead of an opinion of what someone else thinks about it?

There are both historical primary sources and  contemporary primary sources. When you’re writing about history, be it nonfiction or fiction, you’ll want to look for two kinds of information: the factual history of the time and place of what you’re writing about, and the lifestyle of the people in that era. Or, of course, if you’re writing a biography, you’ll want all the details you can find about that specific person.

Some examples of the types of historical sources you may be looking for include: personal diaries or letters, art work or music from the era you’re writing about, legislation from that era, photographs, direct quotes (which can be found in speeches or interviews), autobiographies, or any type of original record.

In regards to contemporary primary sources, some may be the same as historical, such as newspapers, personal letters, speeches, or even government sites and records. In the case of sources like speeches and newspapers,  contemporary sources will be easier to find because there are more options available, especially when it comes to searching online. But there are some sources that will strictly be used for contemporary research. These include living experts, firsthand observations, surveys, and many internet-based sources.

Primary sources, whether historical or contemporary, are an important  part of your writing as they add the necessary factual details to make your fictional stories come alive, or to give you credibility as a nonfiction writer. If you write historical fiction, for instance, you’ll want to know what a typical family living in the 1700s might eat for dinner–and how they’d cook it. Or, if you’re writing about current cancer treatments, you’re going to want to interview experts in the medical field. In both cases, you’ll need to research primary,  or original sources to get the information you need.

Be sure to check back next Monday as I’ll go through the process of finding original documents and current experts and share some great resources to help you in your search!