For our final feature in our Christmas Treats series, Darlene Franklin (one of the authors of the compilation Christmas at Barncastle Inn), is here to share some behind-the-scenes info. Grab a chair next to the Christmas tree, light a cinnamon-scented candle, and enjoy!
How did this project come about?
Lynette Sowell and I roomed together at ACFW conference one year. We’re both native New Englanders (now living in the southwest) and loved the idea of a Vermont setting for a Christmas story. Lots of beautiful Christmas snow in the Green Mountains!
After Lynette and I chose the setting, we decided to make a bed and breakfast the tie-together theme for the collection. Susan Page Davis suggested the “Christmas any time” idea; guests at the Barncastle Inn chose a time period they wish re-created during their stay. (a touch of Fantasy Island).
If this book is a compilation, tell us about that process. Was there a lot of collaboration? Do the stories all overlap? Is it key to read the book from first novella through to the last, etc.? Any advice for writers who are collaborating on a project?
Four authors wrote four separate stories. There is some degree of overlap; the couple from the first book end up running the Inn, and Matt (as carpenter) and Alec (as vet) appear in some of the other stories. We also worked on the layout of the main building, and the building converted for use in staging plays.
Collaborating? Work with people whose writing you trust. Recognize that you will need to be available to answer questions (anything from what color are their eyes to how far it is to town or what is the name of the diner).
What is the theme of your novella? How did you tie Christmas into the story? How did you go about choosing a theme for this story?
The theme for my story is that God can make something beautiful, even out of our mistakes. Waverly had a child out of wedlock—an experience she shares with the Virgin Mary. And Alec, like Joseph, wonders if he can be a father to her child.
When we were discussing what historical periods we wanted to cover, the idea of an unmarried mother occurred to me as soon as I decided to write about the first Christmas. The other settings are medieval, World War II, and pirates!
What is your best advice for writers working on a seasonal novel or novella? Did you set a mood as you wrote in order to get into the Christmas spirit? Did you write it at Christmastime in past years, or during the hot summer months? ;)
Becky Germany contracts Christmas novellas in the early fall, and the manuscripts are due in February; so we get to write them over Christmas! I am currently working on my novella for next year’s anthology (Merry Christmas, With Love in Postmark: Christmas). It’s a great strategy!
Before I wrote my first Christmas story, I wondered how you could come up with different stories year after year. Now I have written five, and hope to write more! As with so much in writing, start with an idea that excites you. Two of my novellas have been based on the biblical Christmas story. Another focused on a Christmas blizzard and yet another on a town named Christmas. Now I’m working on another great idea for next year. You’ll have to pardon me for not sharing it . . .
What are you hoping readers take away from your story? How will your story minister to readers? How can writers help their readers glean the takeaway?
God can and will redeem the places in our lives where we stray from His will.
The takeaway should be an integral part of the story, not something added on. Frequently in writing I think of a biblical passage that reflects on what is happening in the story. I have my characters wrestle with the truth. In First Christmas, Alec and Waverly reflect on the ways their lives reflect the experiences of Joseph and Mary as they portray the well known Christmas story.
Thank you for visiting Seriously Write in December! We wish you all His best this Christmas season and always.
You can experience Christmas during the time period of your choice—if you rent the entire Barncastle Inn of Vermont for the whole week of Christmas. When they first decided to do this, Jayne Barncastle is determined to prove to her parents it will work. Will she overlook her own chance for romance in the process? Will a World War II era “White Christmas” re-create a scene of forgiveness for an embittered couple? Can a pirate’s lair be the place of fun-filled reunion for old lovers? When coworkers assist in recreating the first Christmas for the inn, will they discover romance?
Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin lives in cowboy country—Oklahoma—near her son’s family. She recently signed the contract for her twentieth novel. She is also a prolific devotional author with over 200 devotions in print. Visit Darlene’s blog at www.darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.