Sunday, January 22, 2012

Guest: Darlene Franklin--Inspirational Historical Romance Author

Welcome, Darlene Franklin! Readers, please leave a comment to be eligible for a hard copy of Darlene's newest release, "A Ranger's Trail." And now, here she is, to tell us all about herself and her writing--expecially her Texas novels. 

Recently a reviewer called the Texas Trails series an “epic.” The description startled me, but the more I thought about it, the more it resonated. The six books of the series sweep through fifty years of Texas history (1846-1896), touching on major milestones of the period: immigration, settlement, Indian wars, range wars, cowboys, the Rangers, stagecoaches, the War Between the States, the discovery of oil.

But when Susan Page Davis (Captive Trail and Cowgirl Trail), Vickie McDonough (Long Trail Home and The End of the Trail) put together the proposal, we weren’t thinking “epic.” We were looking for a way to tie six books about Texas together and we decided on the tried-and-true family saga arrangement. Then we looked at historical events that interested us in the six decades from the 1840s to the 1890s. Before long we had the structure we needed for the series. The books stand alone, and we each wrote two titles in the series. My two entries, Lone Star Trail and A Ranger’s Trail, take place during the 1840s and 1870s respectively. 

Our agent, Chip McGregor, suggested the idea and teamed the three of us together. Susan, Vickie and I have worked together before. I felt privileged to work with such great writers. Not only that, but we work well together. Not all teams do!

Why Texas? Because Texas sells! And more than that, all three of us enjoy writing stories set in the west.

Vickie is from Oklahoma, but both Susan and I grew up in Maine. Susan has never lived in the southwest, but her knowledge of horses, farms, guns, and all things western combined with her research make her a terrific western writer.
I not only grew up in Maine, my mother lived on the ocean for almost thirty years. I kept moving south and west for my education and other reasons until I reached Colorado. The purple mountain majesty of song tamed my heart the same way the roar of the ocean waves pounding the rocks outside my parents’ home did. I soon discovered how much I prefer the western way of life. It’s friendlier, slower, and so very American. After twenty years in Denver, I recently returned to Oklahoma for the best of all reasons: I wanted to be near my grandchildren.

Texas Trails begins on the Gulf Coast, in Victoria. That’s not quite on the coast; they arrive in Carlshafen/Indianola, a town that got blown away by a hurricane that shows up in A Ranger’s Trail. In Lone Star Trail, the Morgans have a thriving horse farm near Victoria. Texas has just joined the Union. Jud resents the tide of Germans arriving in Texas to claim free land promised to them in the hill country.

In A Ranger’s Trail, Jud’s son Buck is a Texas Ranger assigned to quiet a range war that’s taking place in Mason County, part of the German community in the hill country. Although we didn’t plan it that way, all our stories except one, I believe, take place on a more or less straight line from Ft. Worth to Victoria. Moody put together a map showing the locations of each story that appears in each of the books.

In preparation for writing the series, I took a trip down that line from Ft. Worth to Victoria. I also found a number of excellent books which gave me some of the nitty gritty details I like to include in my stories.

In A Ranger’s Trail, I included quotes from contemporary accounts of the Mason County War. I wanted my readers to understand that the skeleton of my story actually happened, that the ugly prejudices and violence did not spring from my imagination. It was part blood feud, part range war, a senseless waste of life that stemmed from racial tension between “Germans” and “Americans.” I fought hard (and succeeded, I believe) to make it a story of hope in the midst of a hopeless situation.

TEXAS TRAILS: Doubt meets hope and fear gives way to faith in the Morgan family.
A RANGER’S TRAIL: When Leta Denning’s husband is murdered at the beginning of the Mason County War, she wants one thing: revenge. Buck Morgan, a Texas Ranger called in to investigate, has ties to a German family involved in Denning’s death.

Buck’s ability to remain impartial and bring the murderer to justice has Leta anxious. As she struggles to keep her ranch afloat, Buck offers to help—all the while searching for the truth. A tentative trail emerges, one forged by respect and bound by vengeance and forgiveness.

“Found not guilty of any wrongdoing. Praise the Lord.” Derrick Denning lifted his cup of coffee in a mock salute to his wife, Leta. “As the Good Book says, ‘Thou hast maintained my right and my cause.’ Though I feel bad about the fines the other fellows have to pay.

The Denning family sat around the table enjoying a celebratory dinner in their cabin on the D-Bar-D Ranch. Young Ricky clapped his hands on the table, although he didn’t know what they were celebrating. Leta looked into her husband’s eyes over their son’s head and smiled. The baby inside her stirred, as if contently joining in on the joy.

“I’ll read up on that new law about transporting cattle over county lines before I go on any more cattle drives. Right and legal aren’t always the same thing, and we want to be sure we stick on the side of the law.”

“It’s not right, the other men getting fined.” Leta’s brother Andy stopped shoveling beans into his mouth long enough to grumble. “They didn’t do nothing wrong. The cattle belonged to Mr. Roberts and Mr. Thomas.”

When her husband was arrested for helping M.B. Thomas and Allen Roberts take their cattle to Llano County from Mason County, the ordeal filled her with anguish. Local German cattlemen had accused both Thomas and Roberts of stealing cattle. In the court case, six of the cowhands were found guilty and fined $25 a head. Yet the court dismissed Derrick’s case due to insufficient evidence.

The German cattlemen had grumbled at the verdict. Tensions between Anglos and Germans already ran high, since German settlers had opposed seceding from the Union during the War Between the States. Now Mason County was full of cattle ranchers who were angry that justice for cattle stealing—real and supposed—was not being fulfilled through the law. German settlers and people native to Mason County alike were troubled.
Buy Link: A Ranger's Trail on Amazon:
Darlene's Blog:


  1. Good morning, Darlene-we're very glad to meet another Western Historical Romance author. We here at the Sweethearts write a Variety of contegories of Western Romance.
    After all, romance is the name of the game!

  2. Hi Darlene,
    Good to have you here at Sweethearts of the West today. I'm a native Oklahoman and think there's just no finer place to be on earth...though I know Celia woudl argue with me! LOL But I have a love for Texas as well, since my ancestors got to OK by way of TX and we have a lot of family history there, too. Your stories sound wonderful, as does the entire series!

  3. Darlene, this sounds like a very interesting book and touches on a subject I was not even aware of. As a lone, who has never even had a critique partner, I also find your trilogy of authors working together very interesting. Perhaps my stand-alone attitude stems from being an only child? I wish you and your partners much success with these books. Linda

  4. Ooops, I'm a loneR, I need to proof before sedning. Sorry.

  5. Okay, I WILL proof this time. That's SEND.

  6. I love series and getting to spend time with characters in more than one book. Your epic sounds exciting and so much history to learn about.

    Nice meeting you today and getting to learn about your stories.

  7. Celia, thanks for having me here today!

  8. Cheryl: I'm wishing I was at least ten years younger and could enjoy everything OK has to offer . . . in addition to those precious grandbabies! I am enjoying my time here.

  9. Cheryl: I'm wishing I was at least ten years younger and could enjoy everything OK has to offer . . . in addition to those precious grandbabies! I am enjoying my time here.

  10. Linda, I had to laugh at your comment about being an only child. So am I! Being part of a writing community is essential to my mental health, but an easy working relationship between two authors (let alone hree!)doesn't happen all that often.

  11. Hi Paisley, I hope you get to experience Texas through our eyes. . .

  12. If an aussie can enter I would love to enter.
    I would agree this is a epic series as it follows one family over decades. I have loved all three books so far and have been waiting for the rest to come out.

  13. Darlene, Texas historical romance is by far my favorite. So glad to "meet" you and learn some new titles to read. Thanks for visiting the Sweethearts if the West.

  14. Jenny, thanks for your kind words! Caroline, glad to provide more books for your Texas history addiction!

  15. Sorry I'm a day late, Darlene. I can't imagine living in Maine and not writing about it even though I love western stories. I've lived in Texas and it was loads of fun, such interesting places to explore that aren't even famous.
    I've never written a story with another author and I've never figured out how that works but it must be nice to have company working on a story and auto critiquing, too.
    I enjoyed your blog and I wish you every success.

  16. So far I haven't written any stories set in Maine (my friend Susan Davis has written bunches!) but writing about Vermont allowed me to revisit my beloved New England! Thanks for stopping by my blog, Sarah.

  17. These were stories waiting to be told. The German immigration, their culture, innovations and tensions have to be consuming reading. Thanks to you and your friends, Darlene, they ill now be well as so much more about that era and area. Thank you.

  18. Arletta, I love the way you put it. "Stories waiting to be told." Like the book I'm currently working on, Bride's Rogue--idea came to me when I read about the first female steamboat pilot on the Mississippi.

  19. Your WIP sounds fascinating. I just finished re-reading Huck Finn and his adventures along the ol' Miss. I'd love to read abut your plucky female pilot!


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