Tailor-Made for You: Book Review

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer (ISBN 978-0764207556).

I once gave a writing prompt for my writers group to come up with a couple with diametrically opposed occupations/world views. Think environmentalist and big oil. It’s one way to look at the conflict essential for any good romance.

Karen Witemeyer starts with that premise in her debut novel, A Tailor-Made Bride. Hannah Richards is a dressmaker who believes beauty is God’s gift to us. When she sets up shop in Coventry, Texas, she crosses swords with Jericho “J.T.” Tucker, a livery owner who believes fashion=vanity: a sin. When Hannah’s first customer is Jericho’s sister, the reader knows the going will be rough for the couple before they find true love.

I couldn’t wait to read Hannah and Jericho’s story as soon as I read the opening lines:

“Red? Have you no shame, Auntie Vic? You can’t be buried in a scarlet gown.”
“It’s cerise, Nan.”

Buried in a red dress? That would raise eyebrows even today. Subtleties of red, scarlet, cerise? I don’t know them—but Hannah does. I couldn’t wait to know more.

Hannah not only makes beautiful clothes, but she also practices an exercise regimen that would shame many of us today. The author weaves the exercises effortlessly into the time period (1881) and into the story.

Check out Karen’s story. You’ll find it’s tailor-made for you.

Come by and leave a comment on any or all of my June blogs for a chance to win your copy of A Tailor-Made Bride: http://darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.

Book Expo of America signing

One of our authors, Linda Goodnight, will be at the Book Expo America booksigning on May 26.

If you're in NYC or will be on this date, stop by and see Linda!

Linda's 2010 books are:

and The Lawman's Christmas Wish  (coming in December!)


Don't miss our meeting May 22!

We will be hosting literary agent Terry Burns on Saturday, May 22, from 1:00 to 3:00 pm. Terry will be doing an Agent Q&A. You can see a preview interview OCFW did here.

We meet at Mardel Christian Education and Books, located on the corner of 33rd St. & Boulevard in Edmond, OK, in the back meeting room.

For more information about Terry and the agency he represents, please visit http://www.hartlineliterary.com/.

Hope to see you there!


Mail Order Brides Under Review

President Lacy Williams has graciously invited me to share book reviews with you. As a member of a terrific marketing group, C.R.O.W.N., I will bring new titles of historical romance to your attention from time to time.

If you’re a fan of “mail order bride” stories, 2010 is a banner year. Recently I’ve read a trio of historical romances using the “mail order bride” gambit and I heartily recommend all three of them.

In The Substitute Bride (Janet Dean, Love Inspired Historical), Elizabeth Manning takes the place of a mail order bride who has changed her mind. She offers herself as a substitute to widowed rancher Ted Logan—a marriage of convenience that suits both of them. Only Elizabeth falls in love with Ted before she learns a secret past that holds the very thing she left home to escape.

The Anonymous Bride (Vickie McDonough, Barbour) features not one, but three, mail order brides—none of the requested by the man they are promised to marry. Luke Davis’s cousins thought he needed help in choosing a bride. The three enter a series of contests to win the heart of the marshal—and discover there is a fourth, anonymous, contender for his heart. The first book in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series introduces us to an engaging group of characters who will soon fill the town of Lookout, Texas, with newly married couples.

Orphaned Madeleine Mercer finds herself being ramrodded into marriage with her father’s shady business partner. She heads from Boston to Golden, New Mexico, to answer Philip Smith’s ad for a mail order bride. Honor, integrity, forgiveness, faith—issues of many kinds stand between Madeline and the man God has for her in Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico (Lena Nelson Dooley, Summerside)

In addition to the three books I’ve mentioned above, two of my favorite authors, Susan Page Davis and Vickie McDonough (author of The Anonymous Bride), have teamed up with Carrie Turansky and Therese Stenzel for Christmas Mail-Order Brides, due out from Barbour in September.

For further information about me and to enter drawings for my books as well as other titles, check out my blog at http://darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.


Interview with May speaker Terry Burns

Agent and author Terry Burns will be speaking in OKC on May 22 doing an AGENT Q&A. To whet your appetites for this event, I got Terry to share answers to some questions for us early. :)

OCFW: For our members who are new to writing and publishing, what does an agent do?

Terry Burns:
• Agents serve as the initial screen, filtering out inappropriate, inept and near-miss projects. Good agents match projects with prospective publishers, saving the editors from having to wade through worthy submissions that just aren’t right for their imprints.
• An agent will send your work to the right editor, help you choose the right publisher & editor, negotiate the terms of your contract and make sure the publisher keeps you informed on the book’s progress.
• Agents build relationships with editors. They get to know the acquisition editors and gain credibility with editors. They meet with editors at CBA and sometimes visit the publishing houses.
• An agent typically can get a larger advance and royalty rate for you. Signing the contract is only the beginning. You have to maintain the contract. The agent checks the royalty statement for accuracy. Also she/he can ask for the check from the publisher when it’s due. The agent can guide you through knowing what rights to release and what to hold back.
• Response time is much quicker for an agent.
• The right agent can help your career development by associating your talent with future deals.
• The agent can act as a sounding board for the author, give suggestions, and provide specific input to keep you selling. There is a lot of value in being able to discuss your manuscripts with a professional.
• Perhaps the best criteria for measuring agents is communication. You should feel your agent expresses an understanding of your work & your goals.
• Because the fiction field has become so competitive, and publishers are so busy, more and more are relying on agents. For publishers, agents act as “first readers”.
• It used to be that editors were allowed to develop authors. Now publishing
is so “Market Driven” the editors don’t have time for this anymore. It’s up the agents.

OCFW: How is an agent different than a publicist?

Terry Burns:
An agent is concerned with the publishing of the books - a publicist is in the business of assisting with promotion, visibility and book sales.

OCFW: How can a writer know they are ready for an agent?

Terry Burns:
I recommend that a new writer query both editors and agents. It can be easier to connect with a small house than to find a good agent, and a majority of writers publish before they get an agent. But the author should restrict their contacts to small houses that want to work with authors. The usual result from a larger house that says they accept submissions through agents is usually burning a bridge that later an agent could use to make a sale.

OCFW: You are both a writer and agent - how do you balance your two careers?

Terry Burns:
Being an agent cuts into my writing time significantly, but I still manage to get a book or two out each year. Just have to carve out the writing time and protect it, not unlike other people who have to balance a full time job with finding time for their writing. Most agents come out of publishing rather than out of writing which meant I had ground to make up in having contacts, but it also means that I am much closer to my authors. It is probably the reason that I generally rank toward the top of the Publisher's Marketplace list of agents who have sold the most debut authors. I like to do it.

OCFW: Can you tell us a little bit about your own books that are out right now?

Terry Burns:
My YA book "Beyond the Smoke" just won the Will Rogers Medallion as the best western themed youth book of the year. "Saint's Roost" is a delightful historical romance set in the Texas Panhandle where the history of the little town is as interesting as the story itself. Finally, "On The Road Home" is the first of a four book series from a small press that is publishing my "collected short works." Each book has poetry, short stories, and a novella in the back of each book. This book just came out.

Thanks, Terry, and we look forward to picking your brain on May 22!