If you enjoy the the wind on your face and open sky before you, you have come to a good place to find the romance and flavor of the West.


Help me welcome Vickie McDonough, an award-winning inspirational romance author. She has written 16 novels and novellas. Her Heartsong books, The Bounty Hunter and the Bride and Wild At Heart both placed third in the Top Ten Favorite Historical Romance category in Heartsong Present’s annual readers’ contests.
Her stories frequently place in national contests, such as the ACFW Book of the Year contest and the Inspirational Readers Choice Contest. She has also written book reviews for over eight years. Vickie is a wife of thirty-three years, mother of four grown sons and grandma to a feisty three-year-old girl. When she’s not writing, Vickie enjoys reading, gardening, watching movies, and traveling.

What were some of the steps you took along the publication road?

I never planned to be a writer, but God had bigger plans for my life than I could have imaged. I was a math kid in school and despised English class. When I started writing, I had to learn everything about the craft, even grammar. But I jumped in with both feet, reading books on writing, taking classes at my local community college and online, attending writing conferences, and reading as many historical Christian romances that I could. The neat thing about writing is that it’s a craft that can be learned. I’m still learning.

What are some of the spiritual themes you like to write about?

I like writing about forgiveness. I want readers to know that there’s nothing they’ve done that God won’t forgive them for, if they only seek Him. I also like to write about healing from past hurts, and that God is with you no matter how dark the circumstances.

Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins, or do you have to tweeze each word out?

Normally, I’ll write 2,000-2,500 words per day. Some days the words gush out, but other days it’s like trying extract a splinter with a pair of pliers. Some days the characters just don’t want to cooperate.

What are you working on right now?

I’m toward the end of writing a Heartsong Presents book set in 1788 Charleston, called Mutiny of the Heart. It’s the first in a series. After I finish this book, I’ll write the third book in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series.

What other books of yours are coming out soon?

Wildflower Hearts also releases this month. It’s a 3-n-1 compilation of my Heartsong North Dakota historical trilogy about three siblings who live on a ranch in the Badlands.

Then this fall, I’m in a Barbour novella collection called Christmas Mail-Order Brides. October 1st, Second Chance Brides, book two in my Texas Boardinghouse Brides series, releases.

What is the most important thing on your current To Do List?

Finish the book I’m working on by the end of next week.

Has being an author been everything you thought it would be?

I had no idea what it would be like to be an author. I was actually embarrassed when my husband first saw me writing and asked what I was doing.

Writing is a lot of hard work. There’s research, plotting, the actual writing process which can take months, if not years, rewrites, learning how to submit a book, more rewrites and then waiting and waiting to hear something after you’ve submitted. But all the work is worth it when your book sells.

If not, what has surprised you the most?

The thing that has both surprised and blessed me the most is all the other writers I’ve met. Because of writing, I’ve made friends from all over the country. Some very close friends.

If time and money did not enter in the equation, what would be your dream?

I would love to be a graphic artist. I don’t have much art talent, though, but love tinkering with computers and designing things.

Tell us about your family and your ministry.

At this time of my life, my family is my main ministry. Besides still having three of our four boys living at home, I am primary caregiver for my invalid mother, and I watch my granddaughter twice a week. I’m also the treasurer for ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers.)

What three things are you most thankful for in your life that others might think silly?

  1. I’m so thankful for computers. I don’t think I’d have the patience to write by hand. 
  2. I’m thankful that women can wear pants. I grew up a tomboy, riding my horse and later a motorcycle. I love reading and writing about the Old West but am glad I don’t have to wear all those clothes and dresses women did back then. 
  3. I’m thankful for air-conditioning. I live in Oklahoma, and summers can be brutal, not to mention all the pollens floating around. My mom likes to remind me that it was 111 on the day I was born, and there was no air-conditioning then. Oi! Sorry, Mom.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

My favorite genre is historical Christian romances set in the late 1800s in west and mid-west America. I read other historical periods too, but my second fav are Scottish ones. I do read contemporaries sometimes, especially those by my favorite authors.

Has your writing changed your reading habits? A lot. If so, how?

I’ve been in writers’ critique groups so long that it’s hard to read a book without looking for errors. I also have a hard time with a book that doesn’t follow the basic writing rules. It’s just more difficult to read a book for enjoyment, but I still read a lot.

What would you tell an aspiring writer? 

Study your craft. 

Have lots of patience and write and write and write. Don’t expect to sell your first book, or even your second one. It does happen, but it’s not the norm. Attend writing conferences if you can. Enter writers’ contests. Join a critique group. When you’re ready, submit your work to a publisher. Pray a lot, and give your writing to God and let Him develop your career.


Tell us about your story. Give us, first, the best thirty-word description, then the longer paragraph version.

Three mail-order brides arrive expecting to marry the town marshal. But…he didn’t order a bride. A contest to discover which bride would make the best wife turns into mayhem when there is a fourth anonymous entry. (That’s 36 words, but I won’t tell if you don’t)

Here’s a longer blurb: Three mail-orders brides arrive in Lookout, Texas, each expecting to marry the local marshal. But—he didn't order a bride. When a contest ensues to discover which bride will make him the best wife, there is a surprise fourth entry--an anonymous one. Mayhem occurs as the whole town tries to figure out who the anonymous bride is, and the mayor pressures the marshal to pick a bride or lose his job. Will Marshal Davis tuck tail and run for the hills? Or will he lose his heart and his bachelorhood?

What gave you the inspiration for this story?

The idea for The Anonymous Bride first started as a “what if” question. What if a mail-order bride showed up in town, expecting to marry the local marshal, but what if he didn’t order a bride? Then my thoughts morphed a bit. What if three mail-order brides arrived expecting to marry the poor, unsuspecting guy? How could something like that happen? And if it did, what would happen to the women since only one could marry him? Then I thought, what if the town held a contest to see which gal would make him the best wife? What if instead of three entries, there were four—the fourth one being an anonymous entry. Having someone compete anonymously for a man’s hand in marriage wasn’t a storyline I’d heard about before, and it intrigued me.

If your hero/heroine were a pie, what kind would he/she be and why?

I had to laugh at this question, because there’s a pie-baking contest in The Anonymous Bride. My hero would probably be a pecan pie. He was severely wounded in the past when his fiancĂ©e up and married the richest man in town. He’s a hard nut to crack, although he’s a good man.

Are there any themes in The Anonymous Bride that you hope the reader sees?

The main theme is forgiveness, both accepting it and giving it. Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed? Yes, my heroine is a single mother with a past of being abused. Her daughter still has big issues, and tends to run wild, even though my heroine tries to keep her under control. Issues of abuse, single parenthood, and raising a rebellious child are also themes in The Anonymous Bride.

What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

I want readers to know that no matter what they’ve done or been through, God is always waiting to wrap them in His arms, with love and forgiveness.

And what kinds of things can readers expect from your books?

My books are appropriate for just about any age except children. I love books with adventure and a sweet romance, and I try hard to have both to my readers. They can expect a book with some humor, drama, romance, excitement, and a heart-tugging ending. I hope that my characters will live on in my readers’ minds long after they finish the book.

How do you do the research for your historical books?

If at all possible, I try to travel to the place where I want to set my book. Besides getting a feel for the lay of the land, the trees, flowers, grasses, animals, birds, etc, you can find the best research books locally. Also, you can talk to people who have lived in the area for a long while and get a feel for the dialect and regional names and phrases. I also do a lot of online and book research.

Introduce your story with the first page of The Anonymous Bride .

Lookout, Texas
April, 1886

Luke Davis reined his horse to a halt atop the ridge and gazed down at the town half a mile away. Lookout, Texas—the place where his dreams were birthed and had died. He wasn’t ready to return—to face the two people he’d tried so hard to forget. But sometimes God asked hard things of a man.

“I’d rather face a band of Sioux warriors, Lord, than to ride into that town again.” He sighed and rubbed the back of his neck.

The town hadn’t grown nearly as much as he’d expected it would in the eleven years he’d been gone. From his high viewpoint, the town roughly resembled a capital E, with Bluebonnet Lane being the spine, and Main, Apple Street, and a new street serving as the three arms. New houses had been added that didn’t yet show wear from the hot Texas summers.

He glanced up. In the trees above a bird chirped a cheerful tune, oblivious to the turmoil churning in Luke’s belly.

Alamo, his black gelding, snorted, as if sensing they’d reached the end of their long journey. The horse tossed his head and back-stepped away from the steep drop-off. Down below, the small river that ran south and west of town still pooled as it made its sharp turn around Lookout. A healthy dose of spring rains had filled the crater dug out by past floods that local kids used as a swimming hole, and a new rope had been added for them to swing on, promising fun as soon as school ended. Memories of afternoons spent there were some of Luke’s favorite. But those carefree days were over.

He glanced heavenward at the brilliant blue sky, halfway hoping God would give him leave to ride away. When no such reprieve came, he reined Alamo around and back down the incline to the river bank. Dismounting at the water’s edge, he allowed his horse to drink while he rinsed three days’ worth of dust off his face.

Alamo suddenly jerked his head up and flicked his ears forward. The horse backed away from the bank and turned, looking off to the right. Luke scooped up a handful of water and sipped, watching to see what had stirred up his horse. Tall cottonwoods lined the life-giving river, and thigh-high grasses and shrubs made good hiding places. He knew that for a fact. How many times as a boy had he and his two cousins hidden there, watching the older kids swimming and sometimes spooning?

“Must have been some critter, ’Mo.” He stood and patted his horse, finally ready to ride into Lookout and see up close how much it had changed. How she’d changed.

Suddenly, three heads popped up from behind a nearby bush. “Hey, mister,” a skinny kid yelled, “that’s our swimming hole, not a horse trough.”

Rocks flew toward him, and he ducked, turning his back to the kids. Alamo squealed and side-stepped into Luke, sending him flying straight into the river. Hoots of laughter rose up behind him as cool water seeped down into his boots and soaked his clothing. His boots slipped on the moss-covered rocks as he struggled for a foothold.

“Foolish kids.” He trudged out of the river, dripping from every inch of his clothing. His socks sloshed in his water-logged boots. Dropping to the bank, he yanked them off and dumped the water and wrung out his socks. With his boots back on, he checked Alamo, making sure the horse wasn’t injured, then he mounted, determined to find those kids and teach them a lesson. Playing childish pranks was one thing, and he’d done his share of them, but hurting an animal was something else altogether.

“Heyah!” Alamo lurched forward. Luke hunkered low against the horse’s neck until he cleared the tree line then he sat up, scanning the rolling hills. He didn’t see any movement at first, but when he topped the closest hill, he found the rowdy trio racing for the edge of town. Luke hunched down and let his horse out in a full canter, quickly closing the distance between him and the kids.

All three glanced back, no longer ornery but scared. He’d never harm a child, but instilling a little fear for the law couldn’t hurt anything.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with my readers?

I love to hear back from readers, so if you get a chance to read one of my books, please let me know what you thought about it.

Also, I have a quarterly drawing on my website. If you sign my guestbook, you’re entered.

Where can we find you on the web?

My website: www.vickiemcdonough.com

I’m also a monthly blogger on www.bustlesandspurs.com

Other places:



Thanks for visiting with us, Vickie, and I look forward to interviewing you when the next book in The Boarding House Brides is released. The second book in the series is Second Chance Brides and will be released October, 1, 2010.

If you’re reading this on Feedburner, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link. http://ajhawke.blogspot.com/


Kathleen L. Maher said...

AJ, your interview questions are so warm and original! I loved the one about which kind of pie would the hero/heroine be! LOL!

Very nice interview. I am so eager to get this book. :) Can;t wait to post my review.

Thanks for this sneak peak!

A J Hawke said...

Welcome, Kathleen,

Thanks for your kind comments. I loved it that Vickie choose a pecan pie to represent her hero. A tough nut but oh, so sweet.

Hope you enjoy The Anonymous Bride as much as I did.



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I love the wind in my face, the open sky before me, the romance and flavor of the West, but, most of all, our loving and living God, who created it all. I love how He works out His plans in the realm of human events, which is His Story. I have been blessed with a gift: a compulsion to write Historical and present-day novels set in the American West that demonstrate His power to transform ordinary people into true heroes and heroines. I am just a scribe really. I find the joy of participating in the creation of inspirational fiction indescribable. May our Lord Jesus Christ receive all of the credit and be glorified.

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