Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vickie McDonough and that Western Flair

Vickie McDonough is an award-winning inspirational romance author. 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. 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: Glad to get to know you Vickie. 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 interesting! 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: 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: There's so much we can learn from others, isn't there! 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: that is so true and excellent advice. What do you think it takes to write a good book? Do you have any secrets, Vickie?

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: It sure is. 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, too, have read Linda Lael Miller and enjoy her take on the western historicals. 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?

SDC: Great Questions! Did you get that guys?

VM: 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.


Okay, readers. Be sure to add your thoughts to Vickie's excellent questions. We are looking forward to hearing from you in hopes you'll be the one selected to get a book.
Congratulations to Brenda Lott aka Maggie Brendan from Marietta Georgia! You have won Vickie's book! Be watching for it soon!


  1. Wonderful post! I like some action in historicals but it does not need to be non-stop. Just a little to add some excitement. I prefer historicals to be romantic. I also particularly love Regences but I read all kinds of time periods and settings. As long as the plot sounds interesting or unusual I will want to read it. A Breed Apart sounds really good!


  2. When I think of historicals, I think Eugenia Price, as she was my first read. I love to learn about the time period of the novel, yet adding some fictitious characters to add to real character in the novel. Romance is part of history, so that is a natural part of historicals. How else do we get future generations? My favorite settings are the (US) West being settled, WWII, and Civil War.

  3. Romance means sensuality to me. How can it be a romance without a few steamy scenes? I wonder if people think that if you are a christian woman, you don't go in for anything sensual?

  4. Thanks for the great responses so far. Y'all have made some valid comments. In response to Judy, the amount of sensuality in a Christian book is generally controlled by the publisher. Some don't allow anything other than a hug and maybe a chaste kiss while others allow more.

  5. That was a very interesting question and food for thought, I enjoy reading historical novels and don't mind some sensuality but don't want to read steamy bedroom scenes.


  6. Wonderful interview, ladies!

    I love character driven vs. plot, I love old west setting, I love a story that can make me laugh out loud and also cry. I like lighter on the physical touch, but heavy on the attraction to the whole person (including physical, but more appreciative than lustful). I like sweet romances, and I love the romantic tension, and cowboys, lots of cowboys! LOL.

    I also like Victorian and Regency, but my favorite is old west/prairie/frontier types.

    I like action, but not so much that I feel like it's going to tire me out mentally. I think I'm more for the inner development of the character and the romance than what's going on in life around them.

    Sorry for the long answer!

    Tina [at] TinaDeeBooks [dot] com

  7. I like romance to feel real like it could happen to a real person. That means tension in the romance, the sensuality is more intense connection between the hero and heroine. They should have to battle their desire for each other and want each other enough that they would choose to wait. A true sacrifice, waiting when you really want someone. Waiting instead of momentary pleasure.

    Sensuality to me isn't bodice ripper boring. It's intense tension between a man and a woman that bonds them so that they have to be together.


  8. Nice interview. I like historical to be full of adventure but lots of romance, too. I also like to learn something historical from the novel...that's what I try to do in my books. I love Vickie's book covers! Please enter me.

  9. These stories sound as good as the covers look!

  10. Thanks for your nice comments about the covers. An author is always happy when the cover turns out nice since we don't normally have any control of that.

    When I was looking for an agent, I had one ask me if I'd consider writing historicals, minus the romance. I thought about it but the story needs a romance to pull me in. I just don't think I could ever write a book that didn't have a romance.

  11. I don't know if I would read a historical without at least a small portion of romance. Love, to me, moves a story along from one point to the next. I think of the film Titanic and how they had to add a touch of romance to a well established story based on truth that was already out there. And what a difference it made!

  12. I like historicals with action, adventure and romance.The covers are great. Great post. Blessings


  13. I love Christmas books and it's getting that time of year. You asked the question about sensuality in Christian historical romance. I think that in any romance book there should be some sensuality - that is what romance includes and you want it to be as realistic as possible and still keep it in a Christian theme.
    Deborah M.

  14. I prefer historical books about the Civil War, western or pioneer times. I don't really care for much sensuality but I like when the hero is always getting on the nerves of the heroine:) You know they are in love but they don't see it.
    Please enter me in your contest:)

  15. Great interview! It was fun learning more about Vickie!

    As for me, I like to have a Christian message of hope in the story - not preached, but shared through the character's experiences.