Second Chance Brides, Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series #2Second Chance Brides, Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series #2
Vickie McDonough
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Fans of The Anonymous Bride, will feel for Shannon O'Neil and Leah Bennett who are stranded in Lookout, Texas, without husbands or future plans. Thankfully, the marshal has ordered the rascally Corbett brothers to pay for the women's lodging at the boardinghouse, but will the brothers' idea of hosting Saturday socials really bring these women the kind of loves they long for? Will Shannon choose to marry just for security? Will Leah reject love when the challenges mount?
     

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Vickie McDonoughAward-winning author Vickie McDonough believes God is the ultimate designer of romance. She loves writing stories where the characters find their true love and grow in their faith. Vickie has had 18 books published. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and is currently serving as ACFW treasurer. Vickie has also been a book reviewer for nine years. She is a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four sons, and grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching movies, and traveling. Visit Vickie’s website at www.vickiemcdonough.com.

Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."


 

 Our interview with Vickie McDonough


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a native Oklahoman and have lived in the state all my life except for one year when I lived on a kibbutz in Israel. I’m a wife of thirty-five years, mother of four grown sons, a grandmother to a feisty four-year-old girl. I love reading Christian romances, especially historicals, so I guess it’s natural that’s what I ended up writing.

How did you get started as a CBA writer?

For years, I prayed for a home business—something I could do while also caring for my boys. God answered that prayer by guiding me into the field of writing, but not until the boys were mostly grown. Writing took me by surprise more than anyone, because I never once considered about becoming a writer until I felt God leading me in that direction. It took me a while to actually believe I might could write a whole book, with God’s help. He had a greater plan for my life than I could imagine.

It all began when a story started running through my mind like a movie. I was living, breathing, dreaming theses characters. When it got so bad that I was only getting five hours sleep a night, I finally decided to write it down in hopes it would go away and leave me alone. I had no clue yet that this would lead to me becoming a writer. I ended up finishing that book, and then another came right on its heals. After finishing that second book, I realized maybe God was trying to get my attention. I never claimed to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.
 
After a lot of prayer, I started reading books on writing, attending classes, both locally and online, and joined several writers’ groups. Almost ten years later and with nearly 20 books published, I’m more amazed than anyone at the doors God has opened.

How did you come up with the concept for the Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series?

It began with a “what if” question. What if a mail-order bride arrived in town to marry a man who never ordered a bride? What if three brides arrived, each expecting to marry the same man? I wondered how something like that could happen and set about trying to figure it out. I brainstormed with my critique group and got some great ideas, and The Anonymous Bride idea was born.
 
It made sense that the next books would be about the brides not chosen to marry the marshal, but what I never planned was how a feisty ten-year-old tomboy would steal the scene and the series. Each book in the series is a historical romance about the mail-order brides, but Jack, my tomboy, is in each book and one of the common threads that ties the series together. The third book, Finally A Bride, is about Jack grown up and finding love of her own, but not without some unexpected twists and turns.

 

How did you choose the time frame?

That was the easiest part. I love books set in the 1870-1890s time frame, so I knew I’d set my book there. I also wanted to keep the whole series in the late 19th century, since and the last book occurs ten years after the first two, I backed up the first story and started in 1886.

What is the symbolism for the title Second Chance Brides?

The book focuses on two of the mail-order brides leftover from The Anonymous Bride. They missed out on marrying the marshal when he chose someone else, so this book tells the story of their second chance to find love, but it’s also about starting over. Both women have their own reasons that they can’t return home, and now they have a second chance for a new life in Texas. The theme story about turning to God and trusting in him when things look their darkest.

Do you have a favorite character in the Second Chance Brides? Why?

Yes. It would definitely be Jack, my tomboy. She’s so feisty—confession time here—and a lot like I was when I was young. I pushed the limits all the time, and so does Jack. She’s not the main character by any means, but she’s gutsy and determined, in spite of having an abusive birth father—or maybe because of it. I do want to say that Jack and I part company where fathers are concerned, because I had the best dad in the whole world.

How much research did Second Chance Brides take?
 
The actual story didn’t take all that much research. Since I’m an avid reader and read mostly books set in this time period, I knew a lot about it. The bulk of the research came in the details such as: What would a woman living in a small Texas town wear to church back then? Were cookies or soda pop available then? Would they have had electricity or indoor plumbing? What was the legal system like in Texas then? What type of foods were readily available? Researching these minute details can take a long time and sometimes be hard to find, but they are so necessary to making the story come alive for the reader.

 

What is the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing the Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series?

I have to say nothing in particular pops out at me since I knew the subject so well. I did discover a fabulous research tool though: the Texas Handbook Online. It’s a collection of six massive books compiled into an online database with a search engine. I was able to look up things on the Texas school system in the 19th century, I discovered that my town would have had a town marshal instead of a sheriff, and lots of other great things. It’s probably not too interesting to a reader but writers will love this resource.

How many books will be in the Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series?

Three, unless my publisher decides to do another one. Here are the titles and release dates:

The Anonymous Bride – April 1, 2010
Second Chance Brides – September 1, 2010
Finally A Bride – April, 2011

 
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Mainly finding time to write and tend my other responsibilities. At the moment, I run my own boardinghouse of sorts—three of our four boys are currently living at home. However, one is going back to college and another one leaving for Egypt in October for his third deployment with the National Guard. I’m also primary caregiver to my semi-invalid mother, and I babysit my granddaughter one or two days a week. My husband of almost thirty-five years also appreciates a little of my time. I’m also the treasurer of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), which is a national organization of over 2000 writers.
Finding the time to actually sit down and write is the biggest challenge I face. I put in some early mornings and late nights when I’m on deadline sometimes.

 

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Seeing the book come out in the completed form.  Most of the work is done at that point, although I still have to market the book, do online interviews, blog articles, and book signings, and start thinking about my next project.
I love it when a reader contacts me and tells me they enjoyed one of my books or God spoke to them as a result of reading it.

Research trips are definitely a part of the writing process I enjoy. Traveling to new places and learning about other parts of America is fascinating. So far, I’ve traveled to the Oklahoma panhandle, North Dakota, Colorado, Utah, Texas (several times) and Charleston, while researching my books.

I also love all the friends I’ve made—other authors(some of whom I’ve read their books for years), editors, my agent, to readers who have contacted me. God has expanded my world in a way I never expected.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

The main group has been ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) They host monthly online writing classes which are free to members, there’s a members’ loop where you can ask any writing-related question and get almost immediate responses from multiple published authors, and also you can network with other authors, and even join a critique group. As I’ve grown as a writer and gone on to be published, ACFW has been an outlet where I could give back to help other newbie writers.
I’m also a member of RWA, WIN (Writers of Inspirational Novels), the Tulsa Nightwriters, OWFI, Women Writing the West, OKRWA, and FCW. If I let off a group, I apologize.

What do you do to keep your writing fresh and improve on it each time you write a book?
 
I read a lot and enjoy watching movies and my favorite tv shows, which often give me ideas. I’m a character-driven author, so the characters are the heart of my stories. Since every character is different and has his/her own unique back story and motivation, each one will react in their own way and not the same as others, which helps add variety to my stories. When I do get stuck, I’ll call one of my writing buddies or email a critique partner and do some brainstorming. Sometimes you just need another set of eyes to help you see the story from another angle or to think outside the box.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I’m just finishing up Finally A Bride, which releases next April. Then I have two Heartsong Presents books to write, Indigo Hearts and Dueling Hearts, both are set in historical South Carolina. I have some other writing projects in the works but nothing definite yet.

I’m also in a Christmas novella collection called Christmas Mail Order Brides, which is a September 1st release. It’s the story of four mail-order brides who travel the transcontinental railroad, hoping to find a husband and a new life in the West.

 

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Texas Boardinghouse Brides Series?

My goal as a writer is to entertain readers with a wholesome, exciting story, but also to inspire and encourage them in their faith or in an area they’re struggling with. The Anonymous Bride partly deals with a single mother who has a rebellious child. Another aspect of that book is forgiving past offenses. Is there anyone who hasn’t had someone else wound them either physically or emotionally at one time or another? My hope is that the reader can see how my characters struggle with these issues and turn to God for help. I want my readers to be encouraged that God can help them, no matter what their situation is, and it’s only with His help that we can truly forgive those who hurt us.

Second Chance Brides has a theme of trusting God when circumstances seem their darkest.

Finally a Bride deals with a person planning her own future when God may have different plans for her life. It also is about believing in God when you can’t even believe in yourself.

What is your greatest achievement?

I think it’s a huge achievement to survive almost thirty-five years of marriage and raising four boys, but I suppose you mean my greatest writing achievement. Something else before I answer that: I also realized the other day that it took raising four boys (two super strong-willed ones) to be able to know how to outsmart my very precocious and independent four-year-old granddaughter.

As far as writing achievements, I have finaled in a number of writing contests and won some, which means a lot to me. I think my greatest achievement is to have the certainty in my heart that I’ve followed the path God had for me at this time in my life. He opened the doors for me to published books with a faith message. When I leave this earth one day, my books will still be floating around for years, I hope. I’m not the kind of person who can go out and preach to a crowd or witness to a person on the street, but I can share the messages God gives me in my books. I may not ever be famous or make the best-sellers list, but I pray that I will have touched hearts and encouraged my readers.

I have the sense that I’ve accomplished something with my life, while making some extra money for my family. I’ve been able to work while also having time to care for my family, my mom and my granddaughter when needed. I’ve had the chance to travel to places I probably would never have visited otherwise. I’m very grateful to Barbour Publishing for signing me as one of their authors and giving me an outlet for my stories.

Something else is that I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way and gotten to meet and to know many famous authors in the Christian writing world. Lastly, I’m a currently serving as treasurer for ACFW and am able to give back to an organization the has given me so much and probably is responsible for my getting published.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

I didn’t start writing until I was 47, and like I said earlier, I never planned to be a writer. I want to encourage you to not limit what God may want to do with your life. His dreams for you are far bigger than any you could dream for yourself.

Thank you for allowing me to be a guest here.
Vickie McDonough