“God had a plan for my life that I never saw coming.” Vickie McDonough, best-selling author
As a little girl whenever my family would go to town, I made sure I had a quarter with me. Having that shiny piece of change in my pocket meant I could buy a ride on the electric horse outside of Roses Department store. For sixty seconds me and my bucking horse could herd cattle or chase outlaws across the open plains.
Most every Sunday during the ’80s and ’90s my family tuned in to watch Mesquite Championship Rodeo on TNN. After the rodeo was over I’d pretend to be a sports reporter and I’d write stories recapping the events. In high school I interned at the local newspaper and every time the rodeo was in town I’d put on my boots and hat and bring my camera to get as close to the action (and the cowboys) as I could.
If I’d followed my childhood dreams I might be riding the rodeo circuit, traveling the country with my horse, or maybe working cattle on a ranch. Instead God’s providence provided a job as a children’s librarian.
One of the reasons I love historical novels is that for a couple of hours I can immerse myself in another time and place (while still having the creature comforts of electricity, running water, an indoor bathroom and air conditioning.)
Whenever I feel the urge to saddle up and ride into the Old West, I grab one of Vickie McDonough’s novels. (No stall mucking required.) Vickie has penned 24 books and novellas. Many are set in Texas and Oklahoma in the 1800s.
In the Texas Boardinghouse Brides series I loved experiencing the bumpy road to matrimony for three mail-order brides who arrive in Lookout Texas, with intentions of wedding the Marshall, who has no clue he’s anyone’s intended groom!
Vickie is giving one reader a copy of Long Trail Home, book 3 in the Texas Trails series. To enter, just leave a comment (make sure to include your name and email)-that simple. (See end of post for Bonus Entries.) You can enter now through Friday, Dec. 23.
Don’t forget, you can enter each giveaway of the 12 Days of Christmas. Click here to see what (and who) you’ve missed.
INTERVIEW WITH VICKIE MCDONOUGH
OA: Vickie, thanks for joining us. Tell us about the Texas Trail series.
VM: Texas Trails is a six-book collaborative series written by three authors. The first three titles in the Texas Trails series are Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin, Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis, and my book, Long Trail Home. Next spring, the final three books in this series will be released: Ranger Trail, Cowgirl Trail, and End of the Trail.
OA: What led you to write your first novel?
VM: For years, I’d prayed for God to give me an idea for a home business, so I could make some income but still stay home with my four boys. I never dreamed God would answer that prayer by sending me stories to write or that I’d one day be a published author, but that’s what happened. About 11 years ago, a story idea started running through my mind and wouldn’t go away. It was like watching a movie in my head. It was affecting my sleep a lot, so I thought maybe if I wrote it down it would go away. I ended up writing a whole book, but as soon as I finished it, another idea came…and they are still coming. Most writers say they always dreamed of becoming a writer, but I can honestly say I never did. God had a plan for my life that I never saw coming.
Why do you choose to write inspirational versus secular books?
VM: For me, secular was never an option. I’ve been an avid fan of Christian fiction, ever since discovering it back in the 1980s. I’ve read hundreds of books in the genre. Writing an inspirational novel is a ministry. It’s a way for me to walk out—or rather—type out my faith in a story that’s entertaining, and hopefully engaging, with a message that will inspire readers.
OA: Which comes first when you write a book, the plot or the spiritual journey?
VM: Actually, it’s the characters that usually come first. I’ll get an idea for a character in a certain situation and built from there. The spiritual journey is a natural outflow of whatever is going on in the character’s life.
OA: How do you choose which Bible verses to include in a book?
VM: It usually has something to do with what the character is currently struggling with. In Long Trail Home, my heroine is a pickpocket in the prologue. It’s the trade she learned from her father and all she’s ever known. After she hears a street preacher preaching about the ten commandments, she realizes for the first time that stealing is a sin. After that, it bothers her until she is finally able to quit.
A writer shouldn’t whack their characters or readers over the head with scripture. It needs to be a natural flowing part of the story.
OA: How do you balance showing a character’s spiritual journey without “preaching” to the reader?
VM: It’s pretty much like I said in the last question. A character’s spiritual journey must develop naturally as part of the story. A character who is angry at God over the death of his wife isn’t going to be mad and hurting one day and happy and right with God the next. It’s a gradual progression. Think of it like a garment made on a loom. You have certain colors of thread running up and down. Then the weaver shuttles through a horizontal thread. It doesn’t look like much at first, but the more he weaves, the more the pattern develops. Writing a story is like that. You have a character’s physical journey interwoven with his spiritual journey, and hopefully when the book is done, you have a beautiful tapestry.
OA: This may be like asking you to choose a favorite child but do you have a favorite character or book that you’ve written?
VM: Yes, that is hard, but I do have a favorite. It would be Jack aka Jacqueline Hamilton Davis, a feisty tomboy and later a spunky young lady, who appeared in my Texas Boardinghouse Series. Jack is a girl in the first two books and the heroine in the last book, which is set ten years later. The book titles in that series are The Anonymous Bride, Second Chance Brides, and Finally A Bride.
OA: You’ve written several historical titles. What’s inspired you to set your books in the past?
VM: I’ve always loved horses and cowboys. I grew up watching the westerns of the 1960s with my dad. My dream as a girl was to grow up and marry a rancher. Instead, I married a sweet computer geek who’s scared of horses. When I read, I mostly read historicals. I love the slower pace of the 1800s.
OA: What kind of research do you do for writing historical novels?
VM: It varies a lot, depending on how familiar I am with an area and the subject matter. When I wrote my North Dakota and Charleston series, I had to do a lot of research, but not as much with my Texas books, since I’ve visited Texas many times.
How much I research also depends on my hero’s or heroine’s career, the time period, and the topics covered in the book.
OA: Who are some of the authors who’ve inspired you?
VM: The first Christian fiction book I ever read was written by a Scottish pastor, George MacDonald. His books were a bit deep for me but I enjoyed the unique plot twists he always had. Next, I discovered Tracie Peterson’s and Janette Oke’s work and devoured their books. Gilbert Morris is another author I read early on. I believe that reading their books before I ever started writing gave me a fictional foundation to build on. There are so many other authors who’s books I love that I can’t mention them all, but these are the ones I first read.
OA: What is your favorite and least favorite parts of writing a novel?
If I’m being totally honest, it’s the actual discipline of writing that’s hardest for me. Writing is hard work and takes a lot of time. I love the creating stage before I start writing and the “ah” feeling after the book has been turned in, but probably my favorite part is going on a research.
OA: Do you have advice for writers aspiring to be published?
VM: Yes. Try to get involved with other writers, either locally or online. Study your craft and learn all you can and then write and write and write. Most writers need to write a few practice books before they are ready to seek publication. A good group to join if you’re writing Christian fiction is ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). Their website is acfw.com
OA: What do you have in the works for 2012?
VM: End of the Trail, which is the final book in the Texas Trails series, releases next spring. It’s the story of a returning Civil War soldier, and my pickpocket, who has grown into a respectable woman—for the most part. Whispers on the Prairie, book 1 in my Pioneer Promises series from Summerside Press releases Aug. 1st. It’s the series of a family who runs a stage stop at the beginning of the Santa Fe trail.
OA: Christmas is just around the corner. What special traditions that you and your family do each year at Christmas?
VM: We always put up our tree the weekend after thanksgiving. The boys and my husband bring down all the boxes, my mom unwraps the bulbs, and I hang they on the tree. At Christmastime, we all usually go to my sister’s house, which is an hour’s drive from ours, and eat brisket, scalloped potatoes, veggies, and lots of pie and Christmas goodies. My granddaughter is five this year, and seeing the excitement of a young child again at Christmas is a lot of fun.
OA: In this spirit in the season of giving, would you tell us about a charity or organization that you support?
VM: My youngest son is going on a engineering missions trip to Ghana next summer with ORU missions. Their goal is to build a renewable energy source that will help the Ghana people. Here is a link to their website: http://oruteamghana.wordpress.com/
Now for the contest. But First the Rules. Please read over them, they’ll likely answer any questions you have about the giveaway-if not, ask away.
This giveaway is open to
EVERYONE-US and International residents, US residents, with the book mailed to the winner by the author.
Here’s how you can enter to win a free copy of “Long Trail Home.”
- Simply leave a comment under this post your name and email address.
- Tell us about a prayer that God answered in an unexpected way.
BONUS ENTRIES (Leave a Separate Comment for each action you complete stating what you did along with your name and email.)
The giveaway closes on Friday, Dec. 23 at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced on Saturday, Dec. 24 at