Monday, September 6, 2010

It's Never Too Soon to Think About Christmas, Is It?

Vickie McDonough is another award-winning inspirational romance author I'm looking forward to sharing with you this week. She has had 16 novels and novellas published. Her Heartsong books, The Bounty Hunter and the Bride and Wild At Heart both placed third in the Top Ten Favorite Historical Romance category in Heartsong Present’s annual readers’ contests. (Congratulations, Vickie!)
Her stories frequently place in national contests, such as the ACFW Book of the Year contest and the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest. The first book in her first long fiction series, Texas Boardinghouse Brides, will release next year.

Vickie has also written books reviews for over eight years. She is a wife of thirty-four years, mother of four grown sons, and grandma to a feisty three-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling. To learn more about Vickie’s books, visit her website:

SDC: Lots of great info there, Vickie. Thanks for the wonderful update. What book or project would you like to tell us about today?

VM: Wild West Christmas is an anthology collection. It contains four novellas by four authors(Lena Nelson Dooley, Kathleen Y’Barbo, Darlene Franklin & me), and they all focus on the Ames sisters, who live on a ranch in the Texas Hill Country. Each sister has a special talent such as roping or tracking, and since there are no boys in the family, the sisters help run their father’s ranch.

My story is titled A Breed Apart, and my heroine is named Sarah. Her passion is training horses, and she’s an expert at it. Her father wants her to be more like her oldest sister and learn to tend the home, but Sarah hates being inside doing womanly things. When her pa hires half-breed Carson Romero to replace her, Sarah almost loses her identity. When cattle go missing soon after Carson’s arrival, she suspects him to be an outlaw. But as she watches Carson, she realizes he has a gift for working with horses and a unique style. Intrigued, she wants to know more. Is it possible for a man so talented to also be an outlaw?

SDC: Sounds GREAT! What inspired you to come up writing this genre?

VM When I was growing up, cowboy shows were big on TV, and I loved them. I also had a passion for horses, and even though I grew up in the city, I talked my parents into buying several different horses during my teen years. When I got older and had kids, I discovered Christian fiction and have been devouring it ever since. So when I started writing, it just felt natural to write historicals. I do have two contemporary stories published—one book and one novella—but my passion is historical Christian romance.

SDC: I might have asked you this before, but I think I will again, because others like to know. Are you in any Groups that help you in your writing? If so, tell us about them and the books you use for helps.

VM Yes, I’ve been a member of ACFW(American Christian Fiction Writers) since 2001, which is the year I first started writing. I credit this group for my being published. I learned how to write from their online classes and being in critique groups with other ACFW members. I’m also a member of several local writing groups, one which is an ACFW chapter called WIN (Writers of Inspirational Novels).

I learn better from hearing speakers teach about writing than I do from reading books, but two books that have helped me are Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon and also Heroes and Heroines, 16 Master Archetypes. Can’t remember the authors to that one—there are three of them.

SDC: I'm not familiar with any of those. THANKS for the info. What advice do you have for other new authors coming into the field of writing?

VM: Don’t get too anxious to see your first book published. It takes time and lots of practice to become a good writer. Think how much education is required to become a lawyer or doctor. Writers tend to think they can just pump out a story and someone will beg to buy it. A book has to be marketable. The story has to have an audience. Study all you can about writing, attend conferences, take classes at your local community college, read writing books, study your favorite writers to see what they’re doing in their books, and study publisher guidelines before sending in a manuscript.

SDC: I couldn't agree more, Vickie. I also remember how I felt the day my first book came out. It didn't do for me what I thought it would at all. Because, like you say, you STILL have to have an audience! What do you think it takes to write a good book? Do you have any secrets?

VM For one, it takes a lot of hard work and time. It’s important to learn the rules of writing, such as the correct pov to use, how to show instead of telling, writing active vs. passive. Do I have secrets? Hmm…just keep writing. Practice. Finish a book, and then start another one. Get involved with other writers, whether online or locally. Just keep at it even if you get a rejection. All published authors get rejections. It’s part of the business.

SDC: Do you read other books besides inspirational? If so, how do they help you in your craft? If not, why not?

VM: I read mainly Christian novels, but there are a couple of historical authors I read who aren’t inspirational writers: Jodi Thomas and Linda Lael Miller mainly. They write such excellent historicals with a western flare and reading them helps me keep in the time-period I’m writing, and they give me a cowboy fix. They both are masters at writing creative methors.

SDC: I'vew never read Jodi Thomas, but I, like you, really enjoy Linda Lael Miller. She has a wonderful way with words. If you were to ask a reader what they were looking for in a book. Would you take her or his advice to come up with a premise?

VM It would depend on what that premise was. I can’t write about everything and don’t want to. I know little about doctors or hospitals, or lawyers and court. Have you heard: “Write what you know?” That’s what I did, especially at first. However, I have started moving out of my initial comfort zone and written about some locales that I know little about, like North Dakota. I did a lot of studying for my proposal for a three-book series, and when it sold, my husband and I took a trip up there. We just got back from another research trip to South Carolina, where I’ll be setting a series that will debut next year. So, I guess my answer to your question would be that it depends on what the reader wanted.

SDC: Where can your books be found?

VM: The easiest place to get my books is online at or If anyone would like an autographed copy, they can email me at  for information. Sometimes you can find my books in Christian bookstores and occasionally at Wal-Mart.

SDC: What other question would you ask of a reader that might help you in the writing of a book? Why don’t you ask it now? (Since you are offering to give out a book as a donation to one of our guests, we’ll use it as a thought for them to reflect upon. Okay?)

VM  I’d love to know what readers expect when they read a Christian historical romance. Do you expect lots of action or a more laid back story? Do you like some sensuality in a Christian romance or prefer to keep the romance very light? Do you have a favorite setting for historicals?

One more thing, I’ve mentioned my book Wild West Christmas, but I’d also like readers to know that I have another Christmas book out called A Blue and Gray Christmas. It’s also four novellas by four authors (Carrie Turansky, Tamela Hancock Murray, Lauralee Bliss, & me) and the stories are set during and shortly after the Civil War.

I’m in the process of setting up an email mailing list so that I can send out a quarterly newsletter and announce new releases. If you’d like to be on my email list, please send me a note at  with your email address.

Thank you for joining us at A Pen for Your Thoughts!

Thank you so much for allowing me to be a guest.

For the rest of you. See the wonderful thoughts Vickie's given us to ponder. I look forward to reading your responses. Don't forget to leave your email address. And I hope it is YOU I select to win a book.

A Pen for Your Thoughts congratulates Cherie Japp of Pensacola, Florida who has won a copy of Vickie McDonough's Christmas Book. That's awesome, Cherie. I know you'll love it!

Pensacola, FL 32526


  1. I started collecting holiday reads two years ago. It's such a busy time of year, so the lighter reads are more practical for me.

    I prefer softer romance for Christmas books because they seem to fit in with the season better than heavier stories.

    reading_frenzy at yahoo dot com

  2. I hope that it will be me you select also, love these books

    enjoy your blog


  3. I hope that it will be me you select also, love these books

    enjoy your blog


  4. There are so many good books that come out each Christmas. I enjoy reading them too, LuAnn.

    Edna, thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the drawing.

  5. I love Vickie's books, and look forward to reading this one.

  6. I don't think I've ever read a Christmas romance. There are a lot out there. Yours sounds great, Vicki.
    Thanks for doing such a good interview with Shirley.
    Sign me up, please.
    Betty Fimple
    Windsor, CA

  7. I would pick a softer romance for a Christmas book. I have collected many Christmas books through the years - most have been books for my kids. Now that they are almost grown (19 and 16) I'll have to start collecting Christmas books for me! :)

    Jodie Wolfe

  8. Vickie,I love to read your books!

  9. Hi Shirley and Vickie, I have so many Heartsong Presents books on my shelf, I can't hardly count them all. I love the sweet gentle nature in them. I prefer the softer sweeter side of romance that is characteristic of HP. My favorites are the historicals set on the prarrie and in Texas. Please sign me up for the drawing, but if I don't win, I'l more than likely be getting the books of the store shelves.
    Sincerely, Debby Lee

  10. I would love to win this book. I do enjoy reading Vickie's books.


  11. Good question! For Christmas, I prefer historical books that are more laid back with the focus of Jesus being the reason for the season. Other times of the year I tend to prefer more action packed books with occasional laid back one thrown when I need something more light to focus because I am feeling too stressed. I love the books I read to be heavy romance with the hero being very tender and protective towards the heroine. That just makes my heart melt. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!