Wednesday, December 9, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Stories: Interview with Darlene Franklin, author of Jacob's Christmas Dream

Darlene Franklin visits the blog today to talk about her holiday story that centers on faith, hope and love. It's called, Jacob's Christmas Dream.

Book blurb for Jacob’s Christmas Dream: Becky Patterson escapes the stifling life at her father’s parsonage for an exciting life as a mail-order bride…only to learn her potential groom is a part-time preacher, Jake Underwood. Her dreams of working alongside Jake in his store stall when an itinerant preacher wants to ordain Jake as pastor of the growing church. Will Becky accept God’s calling on her life—or will she reject Jake’s love and the future God has planned for them?

Darlene would like to give away a copy of her book to one person! If you want to win that copy, here's your chance! You can enter the contest by filling out the Rafflecopter widget below this message:
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy your visit with Darlene as she talks about her book! 

*Words from Alexis in bold, words by Darlene are not in bold...

Alexis: What is the special meaning behind your book’s title, Jacob’s Christmas Dream?

Darlene: Interesting question. I frequently struggle with finding the right title for my story, but this one came fairly early and just seemed to fit. Jacob’s Christmas Dream is meant to remind readers of the biblical character Jacob’s dream of the ladder reaching up to heaven. The story for the novella skips back from Jacob to his parents. Like Abraham and Isaac, Jake’s father wanted him to seek a bride from his home town in Merville, Maine. Becky was supposed to be a Leah, to match Jake’s wife, but she refused to act like a Leah. Christmas dream because it is, after all, a Christmas story.

What, or who, inspired you to write this holiday romance story?

It started with marketing strategy: mail order brides stories are a popular romance staple. Jacob’s Christmas Dream began as a long book, featuring three of twelve mail order couples now included in the eleven-book novella series (Christmas Mail Order Angels). I thought a town during a gold strike would be in desperate need of good, Christian women. So I chose the Black Hills gold strike which extended into northeastern Wyoming, since I have some familiarity with Wyoming.

Tell us about your leading lady Becky Patterson. What makes her happy? What makes her sad? What are her greatest dreams and deepest fears? 

Alexis, this sounds like one of those interviews some authors do with their characters. Whenever I’ve tried that, my character refused to stay in that pattern, so I learn about them as I write their story. Sometimes all it takes is a single sentence, and I understand them.

What makes Becky happy? She enjoys times of quiet reflection and study, likes adventure and staying busy. She’s somewhat irritated by frequent interruptions for her advice. What makes her sad? Not much. Her greatest dream is independence and serving God—as long as she doesn’t have to be a pastor’s wife.

Jake Underwood is your leading man. Tell us about him. What does he look like? What are his flaws and his strengths? What, or who, does he love? Explain why.

The first time Becky sees Jake, she thinks, “His dark brown eyes danced around his perfect aquiline nose, his chin shaven to a hair, the mustache styled so that it emphasized the cleft in his chin.”

Does Jake have a flaw? He doesn’t understand women (what man does?) He is alienated from his father. His strengths?

He loves the Lord, is fair, and friendly. He loves Becky, is close friends with Matt Thomas. And of course he loves the Lord! He probably even loves his father, and regrets the division between them.

Tell us about Becky’s family history and how it relates to your story.

Becky’s father is the pastor of their hometown in Maine. Her mother died when she was a young teen. Over the years she took over the role of the pastor’s wife and grew to resent it. In some ways, her father doesn’t want her to marry, because then he would no longer have her help.

Why does Becky choose to become a mail-order bride? Does she get what she expected or does she get more than she bargained for in that experience? Explain.

Becky’s open to new experiences, eager to leave the confining walls of her father’s parsonage. And Wyoming allows women to vote, which excites her all the more.

The problem with her experiment is that her groom turns out to be a part-time preacher.

Jake is a part-time preacher. Interesting! Tell us about that. What does he do when he’s not leading people to Jesus Christ?

An itinerant preacher comes to town every few months. In between, Jake holds Sunday services in his store and preaches to the gathered miners.

He operates the only mercantile in town. He’s a good businessman, deals in reasonable prices instead of gouging the miners. So he’s got plenty of funds.

What is Jake’s dream? He is the “Jake” in your book’s title Jacob’s Christmas Dream, right?

Jake wanted to marry by the time he was 30. He’s past that age, and his good friend Matt is able to convince to join in the Christmas angel scheme for a mail order bride.

Becky must accept God’s calling on her life, you say in your book’s summary. What exactly is it? How does she know? Why is she struggling to accept it?

God has gifted Becky with the qualities needed in a pastor’s wife. She hoped coming to Wyoming would free her of those responsibilities, but the women continue to seek her counsel. She wants a chance to try something else; marrying a store owner sounds ideal.

She doesn’t know her mail-order groom is a part-time preacher until she arrives. As soon as she hears him preach, she knows he’s meant to be a preacher. Does she want to marry Jake? Does she know about being a wife, let alone a pastor’s wife? She discovers a lot about herself, and God’s will, as she seeks the answers to those questions.

Is there a particular Bible verse that you had in mind as you wrote this story? If so, what is it and why did it become the theme?

You know, I always choose a verse while I’m developing a story. And this time, it appears I didn’t, since I didn’t include it in the book.

Having said that, both Jake and Becky spend time considering what it takes to live on God’s holy hill (Psalm 15)—in other words, what kind of person does God want them to be?

What’s the moral of the story, Jacob’s Christmas Dream?

Moral: a lesson learned from a story. See, I had to look it up. 

First and foremost, I write stories to entertain. The moral grows out of my characters and the conflict. In this book, both Jake and Becky resist the idea of entering the ministry. Jake keeps saying, “I’m a storekeeper! I just preach when there’s no one else available.” It takes mentors to gently guide them in the right path—along with the Holy Spirit.

Thanks for the interview, Darlene! P
lease leave a question related to your book or the holiday season for my readers to answer. 

Darlene’s question for readers of "God is Love" blog: Do you ever take trips at Christmas? What’s your favorite Christmas trip memory?

Author bio: 

Best-selling author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. 

She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. 

She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. 

She has written over fifty books and more than 250 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont. 
Buy Darlene's book: -


  1. I haven't taken a trip at Christmas in a long of my favorites though was when my husband's mother had cancer and the rest of the family chipped in to fly us from Alabama to Maine for a Christmas gift for her. It was my husband and our 6 month old baby...I can still see her face, the joy.

  2. My husband and I visit Williamsburg at Christmas time every year except for this year we just moved in our new house in PA. It is such a wonderful place to visit and even more so at Christmas. When I was a child my family always went to Ohio at Christmas to spend with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Such great memories. Thank you for sharing and a chance to win. Merry Christmas!

    1. I just spent the fourth night of Hannukah with my son and his family--reminding me of how wonderful it is to enjoy holidays with our family! Thanks for sharing yourmemories.

  3. I've only traveled to see family at Christmas. I remember as a child my immediate family would travel to St Louis to see my mom's family for the holidays. At the time we lived in a small-town in central Illinois. My brother and I enjoyed the three hour drive. I enjoyed visiting a big city.Then when I was in high school I wrote in my journal that my wish was to move to St Louis when I became an adult. Well it came true.I live here now.I enjoyed this post and thanks for the giveaway.


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