book Excerpt from My Candy Valentine, Darlene Franklin, Holidays of the Heart series, Insprirational romances, My Candy Valentine, Stories in towns named after holdidays, Wednesday writers series on Catherine Castle's blog
Wednesday Writers welcomes Darlene Franklin today. Darlene will be giving away an ebook copy of My Candy Valentine to a lucky commenter. Comments must be made by noon EST, February 23rd in order to qualify for the giveaway.
Darlene, please tell the readers about the book that is being showcased today.
My Candy Valentine is novella #2 in the Holidays of the Heart series (the first book is Christmas Visitors). The series features stories in towns named after the holiday: Bethlehem, Texas; Loveland, Oklahoma; and Old Glory, Texas (Love’s Glory will celebrate Flag Day.)
About My Candy Valentine: Gilbert Williams sweeps Catrina Jensen off her feet when he arrives in Loveland, Oklahoma, shortly after New Year’s Day 1916. When the reason for his interest in her delicious candies is revealed, her affection turns to fear. Is her hero a traitor in disguise?
Sounds like an interesting concept for a series. How did you come up with the idea for this book?
I recently began writing as a “pantser,” and found it freeing! When I wrote An Apple for Christmas, I used apple sayings to guide my chapters. The approach worked well for me, so I decided to use conversation candy hearts for chapter titles. That in turn suggested the idea of a candy maker, and the story took off from there.
What are you working on now? Do you have a release date for this book?
I am working on Love’s Glory, which I expect to publish in mid-May. The German-American citizens of New Brandenburg, TX, changed the town name to Old Glory during the First World War to prove their patriotism. I’ve written about Germans in Texas twice before (Lone Star Trail and A Ranger’s Trail) so I found the conflict interesting. My heroine transforms herself from “Elspeth Koch” to “Beth Cook” and leaves home. The story is still in progress. This time I am using quotes about the American flag, including George Cohan’s famous lyrics.
I also just released my first solo book of devotions (I’m in twenty compilations), A Reader’s Journey through Matthew. Check it out at for a Lenten/Easter devotional study.
Now that we know what you write, let’s find out how you write. Are you pen and paper writer, strictly computer, or some combo of the two?
I write poems by pen and paper in a journal, but everything else I write on a computer.
Having said that, I haven’t always worked that way. When I started writing in 1991, home PCs were still just a dream for me. I worked on an old electric, cranking out pages one at a time. I wrote most of my first books in notebooks while riding on the bus to and from work, editing them as I typed them later.
Now I live in a nursing home; I borrow their printer for contracts but don’t ask them to print out manuscripts. So my books go from concept to final edits on the computer.
Are you a procrastinator or do-it-now person?
Let’s see if this makes sense: I procrastinate by doing it now. That is, right now I could be working on Love’s Glory. Instead, I am completing this interview. I can find hundreds of ways to put off writing, but somehow I manage to get writing done.
That’s talking about my work. I’ve learned to have my quiet time “right now,” first thing in the morning, or I forget about it. I’m fairly disciplined when it comes to work. When it comes to anything else, especially forms, I procrastinate forever.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? If so, what did you do to break it? If not, what’s your secret to keeping it at bay?
I rarely have a serious case of writer’s block. What I do suffer from is doubting that my writing is any good. It often feels like it drags, and I question why anyone will want to read it.
I have learned to trust the process. It’s okay to write junk. My edits always cut at least ten percent of my manuscript length, so I plan to write long. The final version sings, some more than others.
When I don’t know what to write next: I may have the character think about the last scene. In fact, sometimes I rush ahead and forget to show their reactions to an emotionally laden scene. Oops. I also take the time to describe the setting, to set the mood, or give clues to the future.
Writers are also readers. What’s the book you are reading now?
I’m reading a couple of books. For devotional reading, I’m using Mondays with Jesus by Renee Andrews and Daily Reflections on the Names of God by Ava Pennington.
For fun, I’m reading a sci-fi novel called A Question of Will by Alex Albrinck. I’m enjoying it very much. I suspect I’ll have the same problem with it as I do with other sci fi books I like. This book comes to a satisfactory ending, but I want to know more. Mysteries and romances work better as stand alone reads.
This from a person who receives three daily emails about free ebooks; I have a library of 300 books and read less than 10 books a month. I try to read widely but choosy but I’ve got too many books and too little time. . .
Most writers love books—our walls are lined with them. Name 3 favorite writing craft books on your shelves, 3 fiction books (and the genre), and if you have them, 3 different magazines you read regularly.
I’m in a nursing home, so most of the books I have are my own. My favorite writing craft books have gone the way of my house, but here are a few that I used over and over again. Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks. Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass (although I never managed it). 45 Master Characters by Victoria Schmidt.
Fiction books from my February TBR pile: (I have so many to read, I allot so many per month. What doesn’t get read, gets put off until next year). Without a Trace by Colleen Coble (Christian mystery). 10 Brides for 10 Heroes by various authors (romance, not Christian) To Kill For by A.J. Carella (mystery) A Secret Life by Lee Carver (Christian historical)
Since I download a lot of free books, I get to enjoy a lot of new-to-me authors. I’ll look at almost anything except paranormal.
Do you know the meaning of your name? If so, does it fit you?
My name is Darlene Hope (Sparks Franklin). Darlene means like it sounds, darling, beloved. My parents chose “hope” from “faith, hope, and charity.” They called me “beloved hope.” What more precious name could parents give their child?
Does it fit me? It does, because it’s my standing with God as well
Do you have an all-time favorite movie that has stuck in your mind or that you’d watch over and over?
Two that have stood the test of time for me are Princess Bride and Field of Dreams. I will happily watch It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas for the rest of my life. I have only seen Schindler’s List once, but I will never forget it.
I love those, too, although I haven’t seen Schindler’s List. What’s your favorite television show currently running? Favorite show of all time?
For a long time, reality TV competition shows topped my TV watching schedule. This year I’ve devoted time to the final season of favorite shows like White Collar and The Mentalist. The only new show I’ve followed all season is Scorpion
My favorite show of all time has to be “classic” Star Trek.
It’s been a pleasure having you here today. As you say goodbye, can you leave the readers with an encapsulation of your life’s philosophy? (a quote, a Bible verse, a precept you live by or have tried to instill in your children?)
My life verse is Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This past year, my mantra has been “I will not let fear defeat me.” (2 Timothy 1:7) I refused to let the fear of pain stop my progress in therapy; I refuse to let fear of indie publishing to stop me from trying. I believe faith is acting in spite of doubts and fear, not their absence.
My Candy Valentine
Blurb:Gilbert Williams sweeps Catrina Jensen off her feet when he arrives in Loveland, Oklahoma, shortly after New Year’s Day 1916. When the reason for his interest in her delicious candies is revealed, her affection turns to fear. Is her hero a traitor in disguise?
Loveland, Oklahoma 1916
Catrina Jensen stepped back from her New Year’s display at the Jensen Mercantile. Now that Christmas had ended, she greeted 1916 in bold letters. Two cherubs held up a banner that read, “May All Your Dreams Come True.” A variety of merchandise designed to aid shoppers in realizing their dreams was spread across the table: a date book, to make plans to make the dreams come true: pens, a desk blotter, a sewing basket, and the like.
“Perfect,” she whispered under her breath.
A single clap alerted her to the presence of another person. Pasting a smile on her face, she turned around to greet the customer with the attention he or she deserved.
A man handsome enough to be Gilbert Blythe waited behind her. Anne Shirley would find the tall stranger swoon-worthy—hair smoothed back with the latest product and dressed in a slate gray sack coat with matching waistcoat that brought out highlights in his blue eyes. She found herself reaching her hand to her hair, to tuck away stray curls.
His eyes swept up and down and side to side. “It’s a tempting display.”
Warmth swept into her cheeks at the compliment.
“Male customers might respond more to Old Man Time and a New Year’s baby than cherubs.”
Cocking her head, she grudgingly admitted the truth of his comment. “I will change it. Thank you for speaking for the male half of the population.” What was she thinking? She extended her hand. “How may I assist you?”
“You may start by telling me your name.”
Buy link: My Candy Valentine
Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his 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 thirty books and has written 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 elsewhere at