Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Meet Jessica White

Hi, Diamond Mine readers. Julie B Cosgrove here. 

I had the privilege of helping to edit Jessica White's second novel, Bound by Brokenness. So, being hooked on the story, I had to read the first, Surviving the Stillness


She has made me an historical Christian fiction fan. Her characters are so three dimensional that you keep reading, joining them in their triumphs and heartaches. Plus it is VERY obvious she did a ton of research about medicine in the 1920's Dakotas and Montana, the societies of West Virginia and Chicago,  the native American culture and prejudices, and the religious thinking of the time.

I think you will feel the same. Welcome, Jessica.


What spurred you to write the Healing Seasons Series? And tell us a little about each book so far.
In 2013, I was knee deep in academic research to finish my degree and mentally exhausted. I decided to write a fictional story, which combined a dream of a boy falling down a flight of stairs with the story of two orphans from West Virginia I’d come up with in middle school. it morphed into Surviving the Stillness, the first book in the Healing Seasons Series. 


God revealed to me that Abigail (one of the orphans) and Matthew (the son of the doctor) were running from their problems. As winter sets in, Matthew falls down the stairs and breaks his ankle, and Abigail contracts a case of fever that exacerbates other health issues she’s been trying to hide. Forcing them to be still, God brings the two together in a way only He could arrange. Together they learn to be still and trust in Him to heal their scars. 


I originally intended to write one book, but as I reached the end of Surviving the Stillness, I knew there was more the readers would want to see play out. The biggest question left unanswered was—does Dr. Mason, Matthew’s father, ever get past his grief of losing his wife and forgive God? 



Bound by Brokenness became my quest to answer that question. This book opens on Easter Sunday,
ten years after Helen died. His broken promise to be by her side when she faced death again drives him to keep the residents of Bear Valley healthy and out of Death’s reach. But as he circuits through the foothills, he finds he can’t do it alone. 


The other character, I wanted to give more attention to was Abigail’s younger brother, Samuel. His personality really came out at the end of the first book and I loved how spontaneous and funny he was. So I pondered what trouble could he get into while his sister was out on the circuit with Doc? I also wanted to incorporate the repercussions of Prohibition laws which went into effect two years earlier in Montana than the Federal law. So Sam gets a chance to prove to his sister he’s learned from his past mistakes, but he also learns that money can’t fix everything that’s broken.


I really liked Sam. I understand you pray over your characters. That is so cool. Tell us more about that.


Honestly, this was a byproduct of my own prayer life. I love to intercede for others and the characters in my head are so vivid. It was natural to pray for them when I couldn’t see how God was going to move their hearts or get them out of certain circumstances. It has become a tool I rely on while I write. I know I’ve found the right scene when it comes through answered prayer. Almost every scene in Bound by Brokenness surfaced from this method. In fact, the original plot I’d come up with was totally different from the one God had me write. 


In reading your books, it is obvious you spent a great deal of time researching the history and medical practices of the 1920's adn life in rural Montana. Tell us about that experience.


I can honestly say I know more about medicine in the early 1900’s than I ever really wanted to. I started with a text called Taylor’s Practice of Medicine. I was actually trying to come up with a medical condition for Abigail to have, but there was no simple solution, which actually played into the plot line. She suffers from three different things in Surviving the Stillness. But all that research led me to so many other interesting facts and resources. 


When I decided that Dr. Mason was a trained surgeon, I scanned the Harvard Journal of Surgery. The carnage of the Great War (WWI) invented so many advancements in medicine that I wanted to show some of them. A big one was blood transfusions and advancements in blood typing, so I worked that into the second book. 


I also wanted to preserve Helen’s (Dr. Mason's deceased wife) Native American roots, so I had her pass the knowledge onto Matthew through journals. The way she handled births and deaths and relied on plant based medicines, over all the new pharmaceutical solutions of the early 1900’s, is uniquely Helen’s. And I’m anxious to share how she intertwined her knowledge from her early years growing up in a Lakota family and her medical training in Book 4. 


I'm glad you have plans to continue this series. What do you want the reader to take away from your books?


From Surviving the Stillness, I want readers to walk away understanding that God is always with us. That even when everything is taken from us or circumstances have lasted longer than we expected, He is still working it out for our good. That He bears His scars as a testimony of His love for us and that the scars we bear are testimonies of what He can carry us through. 


From Bound by Brokenness, I want readers to realize that we weren’t made to be isolated from one another. We’re the body of Christ. That brokenness opens the door for us to minister to one another and show God’s love. That our wounds physical, emotional, spiritual, are never too bad for God to heal. 


Both pertinent and potent lessons. What have you gained from writing these two books?


I’ve learned that this is my calling, and it is impossible to do apart from God. That I best be prayed up and hedged in by my prayer team because the enemy doesn’t like books that are centered on who God is and what He can do. 


I also learned that I have to step inside these characters’ lives and experience all the highs and lows and the closeness and distance from God. Bound by Brokenness was difficult to write because neither character is exceptionally close to God at the beginning. 


I had to pull back after the intimacy of book one and remember what it feels like to keep God at a distance. To not feel worthy of His love or mercy. To make decisions in my own strength and handle the consequences of being outside His will. But I know that the story will resonate with readers because we all go through those periods in our walk with Christ.  


Wow, that must have been a challenge for you. You are so serious about your writing and learning to understand your characters, and it shows. Will there be more in the series? Give us a peek.


There are two more books in this series. The next one is Dispelling the Darkness. It’s the story of Abigail’s return to West Virginia to debut among high society. Matthew goes with her, knowing this is probably the last summer he’ll get to spend with the girl who’s become his best friend. But he wants to make sure she doesn’t lose the person she’s becoming under the weight of the expectation of marriage. 
Samuel also returns home and is swept up in the glitz and glamour of society life. He rubs elbows with people who could help him pursue his dream of being a world-traveling reporter, but some of the miners are eager for him to step into his father’s shoes as owner of Morgan Coal and restore safety. But whispers abound about a family curse, and he has to put his sleuthing skills to work to find the truth before he and his sister are the next victims.


Oh, that sounds intriguing. I'm hooked again! Write fast! Where can readers find out more about you and these books?


The best place to find me is my website—http://AuthorJessicaWhite.WordPress.com
At the top you’ll find links to all the places I’m on social media and down below is a link to my newsletter sign-up which will keep readers up to date on my writing, releases, and sales. 


My books can be found exclusively on Amazon. LINK-goo.gl/S7zK3S

Thank you Jessica. I am proud to present your books to the Diamond Mine readers. I am sure they will enjoy them as much I have,


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Real-Life Story Inspiration with Kelly Goshorn (& a Giveaway)


Hello reader friends! I'm very excited to introduce you to a debut author whose book I've already added to my TBR pile! Kelly Goshorn's A Love Restored is brand new this week. Historical fiction, romance, and more are in store for you! Be sure and enter the giveaway before you leave!

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth-century America. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, received recognition as the winner of the 2015 COTT Olympia Contest and as a semi-finalist in the 2015 ACFW Genesis Contest. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 27 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.


You can connect with Kelly on:

Her website: http://kellygoshorn.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kelly.j.goshorn/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyGoshorn
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KellyGoshorn/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyjgoshorn/


SW: First of all, congratulations on your debut novel! We’re so pleased you could join us here at the mine and share a little about your journey.

KG: Hi Suzie, thanks so much for welcoming me here on The Diamond Mine. I’m excited to share A Love Restored with your readers.

SW: Let’s get right into it with a few multiple choice questions to warm us up!
Original draft: computer, paper, or phone?

KG: Computer

SW: Chocolate, vanilla, or something else? 

KG: I like vanilla based ice cream with lots of stuff in it—peanut butter cups, chocolate covered peanuts, M&Ms, coconut, chocolate chips…well, I’m sure by now you get the picture. Was this supposed to be a short answer! LOL!

SW: Anyone else craving ice cream all of a sudden? Spring, summer, fall, or winter?

KG: Fall

SW: Night owl or early bird?

KG: Early bird

SW: I'm always in awe of early birds (but, to tell the truth, I'm not really a night owl anymore either). Ok, now that we know a few surface things about you: When (or why) did you start writing? 

KG: Truthfully, I never saw it coming! So many writers I’ve talked to have wanted to be a writer since they were a child. Many have drawers full of half-written manuscripts. Me? Not so much. I had always enjoyed writing papers for my college classes, but I NEVER considered writing fiction. I’d been a successful in-home childcare provider for nearly twenty years, but I knew in my heart it was time to move on to something new. My husband and I began praying for God to give me a new direction, a new passion in my life I would undeniably know He’d planted in my heart. On a whim, I began tinkering with story writing and it didn’t take long for my secret hobby to become my God-given passion!

SW: I love that. You have a unique writing journey that proves there are multiple roads to publishing. Authors often say there’s no such thing as a consistent routine, but what would you like your writing day to look like? 


Levi and I working
KG: I’m still chasing the ideal writing day. As that rare breed, an extroverted writer, I am usually my own biggest distraction. When a friend texts to meet up for coffee or lunch I have a hard time saying no. I work from home in the afternoons as a virtual assistant, so the mornings are my time to focus on my writing. After a lifetime of being a night owl, I have recently been rising early to write. This has brought a great deal of discipline to my schedule that I never had before. On an ideal writing day, I set the alarm for 4:45 a.m. I hit the snooze a few times and begin the day talking with the Lord. Then I head for the kitchen and make a cup of tea, usually Earl Grey. My trusty companion, Levi (an adorable Welsh corgi), follows me downstairs and gets his morning treat. He can usually be found by my feet while I write. Before I begin, I pray. Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and each day I ask God to come and inspire me and to tell the stories He wants told through me. By 8 a.m. I have usually met my daily word count. After I dress for the day, Levi and I head out for a walk. When we return home, I try to focus on other writerly tasks like editing, marketing, blogging and critiquing.

SW: Wow, I don't thing I've seen 4:45 am in years. I’m in awe of historical writers due to all the research. What drew you to this genre over contemporary or suspense? 

KG: Hahaha! I love that part and can get lost in so many historical rabbit trails while researching. I guess I’m just a big old-fashioned, nerdy, history-lovin’ kinda girl at heart! I’ve always loved history, even as a kid in school. In college, I earned a B.A. in social studies education and an M.Ed. in History. It’s my favorite genre to read as well and on my birthday, I enjoy dragging my children to historical sites and watching them cringe as I read every sign and placard! LOL!

SW: Maybe that's my problem, I was never a huge history buff. But, I love how it's brought to life in novels. Tell us a little about your road to publication. 

KG: God has blessed this journey in so many ways. I began writing in 2011. By 2013 I had a completed draft of A Love Restored and joined a critique group through American Christian Fiction Writers.  In 2014, A Love Restored finaled in ACFW’s First Impressions contest. In 2015, that was followed by winning the COTT Olympia, a reader-driven contest, and finaling in the WisRWA Fab 5 and the Tara, along with a semi-final nod in the ACFW Genesis contest. At the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference that same year, I had the opportunity to pitch my story to several agents and editors. I was blessed to have several requests for full manuscripts. A few weeks later, I received a call from one of the editors I’d met, Paula Mowery. A weeks later she called and offered me a contract with Prism Book Group. I was floored. She’d never read the entire manuscript. From all the contests I’d entered, the first few chapters were well-polished, but no industry professional had read the entire manuscript. When I questioned why she didn’t want the full manuscript first she said, “I have a God nudge and I like to follow my God nudges.” I’m so glad she did!

SW: God nudge, I love it! Here is your chance to acknowledge those who’ve walked alongside of you in the writing process. Who is your tribe? Who supports you, reads along with you, helps you out of a difficult place in your story, etc. 


KG: I’m so blessed to have a husband who supports this crazy writing journey of mine, in fact it was his idea to write A Love Restored. I also have a loyal group of friends who, are not writers, that regularly pray for my writing journey and read all my stuff—my sister, Cindy Scott, and dear friends Becky Redman, Steph Sloan and Colleen Hoernke. Colleen has read and critiqued my story so many times, I think she knows it as well as I do! My first critique partners through American Christian Fiction Writers—Angela Couch, Sarah Monzon, Tammy Kirby, Crystal Barnes, Jodie Wolfe, Jessica Konek Johnson and Linda Cushman. Where I’d be without those wonderful women, I do not know. And keeping me faithful to this writing journey are my early morning writing buddies, Megan Whitson Lee and Debb Hackett!


SW: Some of those critique partner names are familiar. What a fantastic group to get input and feedback from. I’m so excited that your heroine in A Love Restored is not the svelte character in so many (too many?) books. What influenced that decision?


Kelly and her groom


KG: You’re right, Suzie. The heroine in most romance novels does not resemble me or most of the women I see around me, but the primary reason Ruth Ann has a fuller figure is that A Love Restored is based on the true-life romance between my husband and myself. Ruth Ann is me in so many ways. She is stubborn, always seems to find herself in a pickle, and is definitely on the rounder side of feminine figures. I have struggled with weight issues my entire life and that struggle plays an important part in our story. Ruth Ann’s biggest weakness is not seeing herself as the beautiful, Godly woman she is. Her journey to self-acceptance is at the heart of the story.

SW: I think women need that reminder. And since we gave Ruth Ann some love, tell us a little about Benjamin.

KG: Now that you know A Love Restored is based on my story, you would be right to assume that Benjamin is based on my husband, Mike. Like my husband, Benjamin makes Ruth Ann laugh, holds her accountable to herself and is very generous with his time and talents. He is extremely intelligent, and like Benjamin, my husband wooed me with his guitar and teases me about my not-so-stellar singing voice. Like Benjamin, my husband struggled with his pride and let vows, words he’d spoken over himself, dictate his choices. Benjamin’s journey is about finding the courage to challenge society’s idea of what success looks like and trusting God’s plan for his life.

SW: What do you hope readers come away with after reading A Love Restored

KG: At its core, A Love Restored is a story about the power of words in our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture, so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us.

Words have the power to lift us up and tear us down, and the most dangerous ones are the ones we repeat in our own mind every day. I spent way too many years repeating words of death to myself—that I was fat, ugly, unlovable and unworthy of the very God I believed sacrificed His son on my behalf.

1 Samuel 16:7b says, For the LORD does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. My prayer for you and your readers is that you will not allow the enemy to steal the joy that is rightfully yours as a child of God. Speak the truth of the gospel over yourself every day and ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself as He does.

SW: Amen! Are you working on anything new you can tell us about?

KG: I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts. Set in Civil War Virginia, the series examines what happens when God calls us to surrender those things we hold most dear. Characters are called to sacrifice their dreams and ambitions, their pride, and ultimately their hearts as God recklessly pursues each of them. Hearts and wills are challenged, and lives transformed as characters experience restoration with one another and with God. If readers are interested in learning more, the can visit the Surrendered Hearts page on my website.

SW: Thank you for visiting with us today and may God bless your writing career.

KG: Thank you, Suzie. I had such a wonderful time sharing my writing journey with your readers.

More about A Love Restored



She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.

Twenty-year-old Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. She would rather read Jules Verne or teach Negro children to read and write than join the Women’s Benevolent Aid Society or practice her voice lessons. Her pert opinions and less than perfect figure keep many suitors away. When Ruth Ann accepts a position teaching at the new Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer she is likely to receive. Should she risk life as a lonely spinster or reinvent herself to accept a proposal from a man she does not love?
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. All he needs now is a woman to share his promising future. When Benjamin has a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, he is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, Benjamin must decide whether he will listen to his heart or put ambition first.

Order from your copy here




Giveaway

Kelly Goshorn is giving one reader a book charm with a quote from her debut and a copy of A Love Restored (Paperback if you are in the US, Ebook if you are international). To enter, leave a comment below along with a way to contact you if you are our randomly chosen winner. For an extra entry, follow Kelly on social media or sign up for her newsletter and let us know you've done that as well. Plus, if you sign up for her newsletter, you'll get a sugar cookie recipe (yummy!).


Book Charms for A Love Restored

***Must be five unique commenters for giveaway to be valid.