Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Interview with Sally Jo Pitts and GIVEAWAY

 Hi, I'm Kathleen L. Maher, your hostess for this week. Please join me in welcoming Sally Jo Pitts on the Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction.*cue trumpet fanfare* 

Sally Jo, do share with us your new book baby and tell us everything about it! 

 My latest release is “Color Me Springtime,” a novella included in a spring romance collection with seven other authors entitled Where Blooms Love. 


About “Color Me Springtime”: The Hamilton Harbor Spring Arts Festival committee welcomes a Paris guest artist who is also a hometown girl. The festival ushers in May flowers, but will the celebration also renew a high school romance left behind fourteen years ago?

Where Blooms Love book blurb: Love is in bloom in this inspiring collection of romances. In these seasonal stories, meet a young Loyalist who discovers a wounded patriot hiding in her barn, forcing her to choose between turning him in or first nursing him back to health. When a king issues a one-year challenge between sisters, who will become the next queen, and who will find love? A wounded soldier attends a Star Wars marathon and finds his future. And a horse and a baby bridge the way for an unlikely couple to explore a life together.

Across cultural differences, political divisions, and historical timelines, each novella carries Spring's life-giving promise that love unites hearts because God first loved us. Hope blossoms in this fresh collection of love stories penned by these Elk Lake Publishing best-selling authors.

How long have you been writing? And how long have you been working on this book in particular?

I have been writing in earnest for ten years. I started this novella in October, 2021. An editor coordinated the project, and it was interesting working through various issues with the other authors throughout the editing, title and cover selection, and publishing.  The title was to be Where Love Blooms, but the ISBN was issued, and Amazon had it up as Where Blooms Love.. The book cover, manuscript, and marketing memes all had the original name. We would have to unpublish and republish to use the original name. After debate, we opted to change everything  to Where Blooms Love. The name kind of grows on you and I hope it does for readers!

I love it!

Who have been the mentors and role models in your life? Name three influential people and what they imparted to you.

 My critique partner, Marcia, who I met at an ACFW conference  has tirelessly read through my manuscripts and offered content, grammar and tightening suggestions. Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck from My Book Therapy and Deep Thinkers retreats  have each offered invaluable advice and coaching. 

Describe the exact moment in your life when you just KNEW you were born to write.

As a youngster, I read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock mysteries and I liked to write simple storylines that played out like movies in my head.  Throughout my school years, I always enjoyed tackling creative writing assignments. My teaching career led me elsewhere, but after I retired, I took a creative writing class and rediscovered my love for writing. So, the writing bug bit me in childhood but I didn’t see myself as a writer until after I retired from teaching. 

What fuels your creativity? 

I’m not sure. Ideas constantly pop into my mind. I have a folder titled “story ideas” where I stuff  thoughts when they strike. 

Do you have other creative expressions, hobbies, or callings?

Bible study, teaching Sunday school, and watching grandkids play sports.

Do you have a few words for that person out there struggling to believe that their day will ever come? Whether its publication, marriage, a first baby, a deeply held prayer to be answered… Is there a scripture that encouraged you in your moments of doubt? 

If you are plagued with the need to write, there is a reason. Press on. A wonderful scripture that is encouraging is Philippians 4:8.  

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.


How can readers find you? 

I can be found on my website www.sallyjopitts.com where you can sign up for my news and receive a free short story prequel to my romance series.

Facebook: Sally Jo Pitts Reader’s Group


Here on the Diamond Mine, we like to offer a giveaway. Sally Jo is graciously offering an ebook of 

Where Blooms Love to one lucky commenter.

To enter the drawing, tell me your favorite spring flower.

Thanks so much for spending time with us here this week, Sally. I look forward to seeing the comments of our readers and interacting with you all more!


Sally Jo Pitts brings a career as a private investigator, high school guidance counselor and teacher of family and consumer sciences to the fiction page. Tapping into her real-world experiences she writes what she likes to read—faith-based stories steeped in the mysteries of life’s relationships. She is author of the Hamilton Harbor Legacy romance series and the Seasons of Mystery series.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Christian YA Author-Kathy Cassel

We've had a cold and wet spring here in Southern Indiana. That doesn't mean we can't plan for those summer reads. If you've never read YA fiction, let me encourage you to give it a try. Christian YA might be something you'd love. No better place to start than Kathy Cassel's books.

Welcome to the Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction Kathy! Let's get started so we can learn more about you and your writing.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing for Christian teen magazines in the 80s while I was still in college. In the early 2000s I wrote devotional books for preteen girls and then switched to YA fiction in 2019.

What is the one thing that inspires you to write?
I love reading YA books, or in reality listening to them on CD while I drive. Most of the books I'm reading have themes of depression, suicide, death and so on. The books didn't offer any real answers or hope. I felt a strong call to switch from devotion books to YA fiction to reach teens with a message of hope in God. He has a plan for them. If they walk away from the story with hope, then I've succeeded in planting a seed of faith.

What are you working on right now?
I have a third YA book titled 1,000 lies. Bailey is a typical 15 year-old girl living in a small Indiana town where her life is mundane and predictable-until the day of the field trip to a photography exhibit where an unexpected encounter with a stranger and a shocking photo exhibit throw her life into upheaval. As she and her two best friends begin digging into the past, Bailey discovers everything she thought was true about herself was a lie. This sends her on a peril-filled journey to discover her real identity. 

I love it! You have another project coming up too. Tell us about it.
I love writing YA fiction, but the next book I'll be working on is an adult underwater crime scene investigation novel. I even learned to scuba dive to make it more authentic.

Do you have any other things you've done to prepare for your stories?
I've done whitewater rafting, got my conceal carry license, and a motorcycle endorsement to better relate to the characters. I draw the line at sky diving!

Your books sound exciting, and now we know why you aren't afraid to face a challenge. What has been the most challenging part of writing them?
Coming up with an ending that is both believable and acceptable. There isn't always a happy ending to the things that happen in our lives, but there is always hope. I want the readers to walk away with that feeling of hope.

Where do you create these interesting and exciting stories?
I have a cool office decorated in beach d├ęcor.

When is your favorite time to write?
My brain works best at night.

Who is your favorite author?
Mary Higgins Clark. I like her style and sense of story.

What has been your favorite vacation destination? Would you go again?
New York City and Boston (I went to the city park to see the statues of the ducks from Robert McCloskey's picture book Make Way for Ducklings). Hopefully, I'll go again with five of my young adult/grown children in 2023.

Tell us a little about your family. 
My husband and I live in the Florida Panhandle. We have eight children, five of whom are adopted, three from Haiti and two from the United States. We also have six grandchildren. I love to travel and share adventures with them!

Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
We have four rescue dogs, Travis, Caspian, Sasha, and Sadie. We also have a foster dog, Jax, who has decided he wants to stay with us. After Hurricane Michael hit, we picked up two cats abandoned by their owners.

Wow! You must be one busy lady with that crew. You told me you're not a coffee drinker, which it sounds like you should be! What is your favorite food?
I go for simple. Chick-fil-A! We also make ham and pineapple pizza in a pizza maker we found at Goodwill. 

Thanks, Kathy, for sharing your vision of writing stories to give hope to your readers. Be sure to visit Kathy's website to see more of what this busy lady has done.