Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome Angela Strong to the Mine!!

Let’s welcome Angela Strong to the Mine! It’s so awesome she could join us during such a busy holiday season!!

Let's start by asking you to tell us a bit about yourself.

I live in Idaho with my hubby and three teen/tweens. I've taught group fitness classes like yoga and kickboxing for over half my life. This Christmas I worked a seasonal job in the mall to make some extra money for gifts, but because I wasn't writing I couldn't sleep at night. It's so nice to be home and able to create once again. And last, I won a hamster ball race a couple summers ago. That may not be an important fact, but it will give you an idea of where I get ideas for the crazy situations my characters have to deal with.

Since it’s New year’s Eve, you get a special question:  Can you give us any gems of wisdom for the coming new year concerning writing, publishing, advertising, or any of the many other facets of the publishing world?

Have fun. Be passionate. Never stop learning. Try new things. Support others. Stay balanced. Give God all the glory. (This works in writing as well as life in general.) 

What made you want to be a writer? I know some people have a burning desire from an early age, and others kind of slowly realize that’s where they’ve been heading their whole lives.

My mom was a writer, so I grew up with stories about myself (and pictures of me with really bad haircuts) in magazines like Women's World. So when I wrote a story in high school, I submitted it to a magazine because that's what you do. They paid me $100, and I was hooked. Wish it was always that easy. I studied journalism at University of Oregon and sold my first novel Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho ten years later.

What genre do you write under and why did you choose that particular one?

I write fun and fast-paced stories for both women and children. Right now I'm focusing on romantic suspense as well as my middle-grade Fun4Hire series. I think writing for kids makes me better at writing for adults, and writing for adults makes me better at writing for kids. I love them both. 

Can you give us the rundown on how hard it was to be published, and why?

I'll just start by saying that Walt Disney was once fired from a newspaper for not being creative. My kids remind me of this every time I get a rejection letter. Helps me put the difficulty of publishing back into perspective. 
Here are a couple of examples from my year. One of my favorite publishers took my manuscript to acquisitions after confirming that I would be willing to add another 25,000 words. They rejected it even though they liked the idea and the last book on that subject sold over 100,000 copies. Blah. Then I entered the Love Inspired Suspense Killer Voices contest. I made it to the final round. The editor requested revisions. I made them. Everyone said she'd buy it. Other LIS authors said I "nailed it." Rejected. Double blah.

So now I will be reworking both stories for another publisher that is looking for romantic suspense starting next month. I keep improving and hoping that I will find that perfect fit. Not every publisher is going to be a perfect fit, and I would honestly prefer to wait to work with one that believes in my work as much as I do.

What other books do you have in the works?

Book #3 in my Fun4Hire series, The Food Fight Professional, is due January 9 with The Pillow Fight Professional to follow shortly after. Then I have my novella False Security coming out in an anthology along with stories by three other local romantic suspense authors. (Check out Plus I've got another novel I've started because the editor at LIS said she'd like to see more of my work and they have very specific guidelines.

 What book will you be giving one of our lucky readers this week?

The Snowball Fight Professional is about a twelve-year-old boy who wants to make more money with his snowball fighting business than his cousin makes shoveling sidewalks so he can buy his grandma the better Christmas gift and hopefully get one of her husky puppies in return. It's a fun book that deals with what it means to be a family. This story is especially endearing to me because of the kid who is being raised by a single mom, which is something I know too much about. I care so much about these characters that sometimes I think about them and cry.

The world outside our small ‘writing spaces’ is huge and daunting. What kind of advice would you give to those of us who’re still trying to get published? I know there are so many do’s and don’ts.

Before I published, Bette Nordberg told me that selling your first book is like a dolphin jumping through a hoop. You end up right back in the same pool trying to sell your second book. That was the best advice I could have gotten with my career, especially since the first two publishers I sold to ended up shutting down. It hasn't gotten easier, but I've gotten more comfortable/confident with the show. And I've made some great pool buddies. So now I'll quote Dori from Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming."

Thank you so much for being a part of our ‘Diamond Mine’ this week. I believe we’ve found a true gem in you.

Thanks. I love the idea that we are all diamonds in the rough. :)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Interview with Marcy Dyer and a chance to win a signed copy of Down and Out!

Merry Christmas, everyone! Please join me in welcoming my good friend and crit partner, Marcy Dyer to the Mine. Marcy has graciously agreed to play Santa and give away a signed copy of her book Down and Out to one of our lucky readers. Make sure you leave a comment below (including your email address so you can be contacted if you win) to be entered in the drawing.

Marcy, welcome to the Diamond Mine. Tell the readers a little bit about yourself.

I’m a registered nurse turned suspense writer. I’ve been writing for most of my life but only began to take it seriously and learn the craft about ten years ago. Currently, I have three books published: Down & Out, Out for Blood & Blood & Lies

What genre do you write and why?

I write suspense/romantic suspense mainly because it’s my favorite genre to read. I love books that keeping me turning page after page to find out what happens next.

How much of your personal experience or your personality goes into your characters?

Some of the characters have a little of my personality, but many of them are conglomerations of people I know. I do however rely on some of my experiences for inspiration.

In the book I’m currently writing, a home health nurse walks in on a murder scene. In reality, I once walked into the wrong home. My notes said the patient couldn’t come to the door, the key would be in a drawer in the back yard. I misread the address, went to the home across the street and there was a key in the drawer in the backyard. I walked in and began calling the patient’s name. When a woman stepped out of the bedroom, I assumed it was his wife.

I don’t know who was more scared her, or me. She was so kind and gracious about having a strange woman walk into her home. Another time, I interrupted a burglary at my neighbor’s home when I was taking care of their dogs.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

I love getting into the mind of the character. Whether it’s the protagonist or the antagonist, I do an in-depth character interview before I start writing. I love watching the characters grow and develop and then I like to stick them in horrible situations that they have no comprehension of how to deal with it.

What was the biggest challenge for you on the road to being published?

Getting up the nerve to submit something to a publisher. I was terrified to take that step, but a good friend of mine kept pushing me and I finally took a deep breath and sent the email.
What do you hope readers take away from your stories?

I hope my readers are entertained. I once had a reader tell me she kept thinking about my book all night after she finished it. That made my day. Giving the reader something to think about and making the characters real to them are my main goals. As a Christian writer my goal is to not be preachy, but to present authentic characters who happen to be Christians. Of course not all of my characters are Christians. That would be totally unrealistic.

What's the next project you're working on?

I’m actually working on several things. I have a contract for the fourth novel in the Desert Winds Series, Lies & Alibis so I’m working on finishing it up and getting it polished for the editors. I also have a novel in progress that’s a little different for me. It’s a zombie book called The Horde: Contagion. A weaponized form of rabies is unleashed on the world causing a rabid zombie outbreak. I’m also working on a book set in the Big Bend area of Texas and starting to plot a Private Investigator series set in San Antonio.
Marcy's latest book, Blood & Lies, is available now on Amazon.

While JD Miller is chaperoning a group of teens on a mission trip to Kherson, Ukraine, one of the boys vanishes from the group without a trace. 

Leandra Davis hasn't seen her father in over twenty years when he shows up and asks her to fly to Ukraine to join the search for a brother she's never met. Anger at her absentee father compels her to walk out and ignore his pleas, but anguish at the thought of her brother all alone in a foreign country, at the mercy of kidnappers, convinces her to abandon her life in Odessa, Texas and join the search. 

When she and her best friend fly to Ukraine to search for the kidnapped teen, she meets the passionate paramedic, JD Miller. Together, they search for the missing young man and begin to uncover deadly secrets Leandra's father wants to keep hidden.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Interview and Book Giveaway With Author Carole Brown!

Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?

Author Carole Brown joins us on the Mine today. She is a multi-published author who writes in different genres. Her newest book is the first in a romantic suspense series that takes place during World War II. Carole's giveaway will be the winner's choice of a copy of one of her books. So, leave a comment after the interview, and you'll automatically be entered to win! Now, on to the interview!

Hi Carole! I know you’d like to talk about your newest release, With Music in Their Hearts, but first let me ask what began your writing career. It’s different for so many writers, and I’d love to hear what got you started.

It seems I’ve always read and written! I remember reading something for Show and Tell at school and having the children clapping! I remember writing a journal of a caveman’s family in an  elementary school assignment. I remember spending study periods in high school writing poetry and short stories. I’ve written research articles and newspaper articles too, but my very “favorite-est” is fiction. I can’t picture myself without seeing “author” in that image. J

 I see you are a diverse writer, interested in serious as well as lighthearted contemporary themes. So it’s no surprise that such an adventurous writer is now writing a historical suspense series. What made you decide to do a story and series about spies in the World War Two era?

What a fun question with an easy answer! I adore this time period. I listened to my mother’s stories and poured over the pictures she showed me, and being the dreamer I was (and am) my imagination took a thought from an older friend, realized I could develop it into a WWII book, and went from there. I’m well into the second book of this series (A Flute in the Willows about the second sister, Josie), and it’s such a wonderful period to write about.

Did you have to do a lot of research for this book?

Oh, my, yes! On top of what I already knew (through my mother and a few other place), I researched spies and clothing, hats, volunteer places and work places for women, radio programs, shoes, language, shows and songs, just to name a few! But I love research and can get lost in it for hours.

I’ve never attempted to write suspense, as I find the idea of planning out a plot kind of daunting. Do you figure out your storyline ahead of time?

Not completely. I find mystery is much harder than suspense, in that you aren’t suppose to reveal the bad guy in mystery until the end, but in suspense the reader can know who he is all the way through the book. I like to sync the events together and try to make them flow evenly and make sense but still pack a wallop of suspense with whatever’s happening, cliff hangers and build up.

Are your characters usually based on elements of specific people, parts of yourself, a mixture of this, or simply inspiration?

Mostly inspiration. Even when I get an idea of a character from somewhere or someone, I like to take them and make them into the person I see. Actually, I don’t like to picture a real person in my books; it hinders my writing and my imagination to take or do with them what’s necessary. So though I may take a touch of this or that from someone, I always twist it into the character I see to make them fit what I need for the character to be.

Do your characters ever go in directions that surprise you?

A few times, yes. Sometimes I haven’t foreseen where the story will go and it always makes for mischief! Just kidding. You know, writers claim their characters have minds of their own. Lol

Do you have a favorite among your characters so far, one especially close to your heart, and if so, why?

No, I can’t pick one “child” and say, I love you most (unless I tell each of them, they are my favs! Which I’ve been known to do with both my sons. Lol)
Ÿ  I loved Caralynne and her spunkiness and will power to break free of the abuse she’d grown up in.
Ÿ  I loved Emma Jaine’s desire to care for her sisters and her father and to want deeply to have a man of her own.
Ÿ  I love Denton and Alex and their minor bickering and love of mysteries and their adventurous spirit.
As far as With Music in Their Hearts, I’d have to say, I love all my characters, good or bad. Is that awful, or what?

Though you write diverse stories, is there a common theme or thread that they share?

Each one has a different personal theme, but for an overall theme, I’d have to say it’s trusting God’s will for your life. No matter what you attempt, where you are headed, what you want, you can’t go wrong by believing and knowing that God will steer you right into the perfect place for YOU!

What kind of author do you want to be known as?

A suspense author who encourages the reader to look for another book. And another. And another. That’s the best recommendation! J

What would you like your readers to experience through your writing?

The power of trust in God.
Ÿ The magic of belief that God is real.
Ÿ Satisfaction that the book ended in just the way it should have.
Ÿ A desire for more books.

What are you writing now, and what are your future writing plans?

I’m finishing up the second book in my Denton and Alex Davies mystery series (first book: Hog Insane). This next book is titled: Bat Crazy and takes the married couple to a newly discovered cavern in New Mexico. And what on earth do vampire bats have to do with it?
I’m also working hard to finish the second book in my WWII Spies series called, A Flute in the Willows. Josephine (Josie) the rebellious one of the three sisters, ran away to get married in With Music in Their Hearts, and now she and her estranged husband, Jerry Patterson, must work together to prevent a foreign spy from destroying them both.
And I always have others I’m working on:
Ÿ  Caleb’s Destiny, a late 1800s historical suspense (a fun stand alone)
Ÿ  Third book in the Denton and Alex Davies series, Daffy’s Duck
Ÿ  And several others that are either being written or edited or plotted!
Never enough time!

Wow, no wonder you don't have enough time, with all those stories in your head! I'm looking forward to meeting all your characters.  Carole, thanks for visiting the Diamond Mine and sharing with us!

Now here's a short description of With Music in Their Hearts:

Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.

He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.

While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.

As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?

Now here's a short bio about Carole and her books:

Brown not only has her award winning (RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.

November, 2013, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies. Look for the second book, Bat Crazy, late 2014 winter.

Released November 1, 2014, is the first book in a new WWII romantic suspense series: With Music In Their Hearts. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

Connect with her here:

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win one of Carole's books!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Juggling through Life with Fay Lamb

The Diamond Mine's a happening place for interviews and giveaways. And in honor of the Christmas season, we have a true treat for you today...Christian author, editor, and writing coach, Fay Lamb.

I know I’m excited to meet this lady. How about you? I figured as much…okay, okay, I get the point. Let’s jump right in… (oh, make sure you check out Fay's awesome giveaway! You won't want to miss it.)

Renee: Howdy, Fay, new releases, old releases…what do you have for us today?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Kate Hodges, Biblical Storyteller Extraordinaire

I'd like to give a big welcome to Kate Hodges on the Diamond Mine today. What a treat it is to have you here with us during this holiday season. I wanted to give you a chance to tell us the story behind your drive to write. How did it happen for you?

After years of enjoying a close connection to Christ, I hit a spiritual desert in my late twenties. Somewhere along the line, I had lost my passion for Christ and was going through the motions of the Christian walk. I battled depression and self-doubt. A wall had developed between God and me. Until one day, listening to the pastor read the story of the paralytic who was let down through a roof, something struck a spark. He didn’t just read the story. He spoke of the hot day, the dusty road and the men carrying their friend. He spoke of them digging through the roof of a house and the people within spattered by dirt and bits of stone. He brought that story to life in a way I had never thought of.
Over the next few months, that story churned in my head. I was full of ‘what ifs’. Finally, on a slow day at work, I took a sheet of computer paper and started to write. For four hours. Those handwritten words, barely legible in some spots, gave me a glimpse into God’s heart. I looked into the face of Christ through the eyes of a paralytic and saw his love and compassion.

A few weeks later, the pastor told another bible story. I had heard and read these stories so often over years of going to church as well as a Christian College, that I no longer saw them. They were words on a page of little more meaning than a child’s nursery rhyme, the characters merely actors on a stage.

For the first time, I was seeing the stories told by people who once lived and breathed, loved and despaired the same way that I do. The difference is that they had actually looked into the face of Jesus. They had spoken to him, heard his words and felt his touch. There is story after story of Jesus meeting the needs of people where they were. Perhaps, he could do the same for me. Perhaps, if I found the right story and told it with the right words, I would also find his healing for me, I would find the key to get beyond the wall.

So I write, story after story, page after page. It seems that there is not one key, but many. In each story is a piece of me. In each story, Jesus meets that part of me and touches, accepts, loves me. In each story, a piece of me heals.

I’m not done yet, I don’t know that I ever will be, but each story draws me closer. I have begun publishing my stories so that others can perhaps find a bit of healing for their broken pieces. They are available on Amazon as e-shorts. I also have a collection in print The Other Side of Miracles contains five of my favorite stories including the very first one, The Forgiveness of Sins. I hope that others will see the old bible stories in a new light and through them find new depths of faith.

I am also working on a novel, Safe Within These Walls, that tells the story of Rahab and the spies during that fateful month before the fall of Jericho. God not only saved her from the destruction of the city, but she became the mother of Boaz, the great grandmother of King David and the ancestor of Jesus. If God can take someone like her, a pagan, a harlot, an outcast and turn her into a hero of bible history, then perhaps he can take a shy farmer’s daughter and use her words to touch the world.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Kate. Have a blessed holiday!

Kate Hodges is a stay home mom who lives with her husband of twenty years and their three teenage children in upstate New York. She is a book addict and always looking for new authors to feed her habit.  Check out her book The Other Side of Miracles.

Product Details

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Talkin' Turkey with Jude Urbanski!

Yes! Jude Urbanski is with us this week! And, yes, she's a fellow Hoosier, (woo-hoo!) transplanted, but still part of the left sock state,(shamelessly copying Michigan's nickname moniker here!) and we're all thankful to have her. If you're not acquainted with her, take a break from your holiday cooking and pull up a chair. You're in for a huge treat!

PT:  Hello, Jude! So exciting to have you here on the Diamond Mine! So much to discuss,but let's start with the basics. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

JU: I’m a wife, a mother,a grandmother, and a sister! I have lived in the Midwest all my life, but have traveled nearly all over the world. I began writing seriously after retirement from nursing. A strong faith guides and directs me! We have several writers in the family.

PT:  I've met a lot of writers who begin writing later in life and that is so interesting to me. Perhaps it's because they've seen God pull them through so many obstacles.  You've had some major struggles in your life.  What gave you the courage to overcome these obstacles? 

JU:  Early on, I surely hadn’t anticipated what life would bring, but, my story is not unique, it is simply my story. It’s no surprise tragedy is universal and grief is evergreen. Would that everyone turned to God at such times for He certainly is on the journey with us. He gave me the courage then and still ‘gets’ me through. Family and friends all help one through hard times.

PT:  So true.  Why don’t you tell us a little about your books?

JU:  Here’s the tagline: "Young mother feels God has played a cruel joke with the needless death of her Vietnam vet husband on the steep mountain curve, and in her anger, almost misses love of rich widower, no stranger to loss himself.”

I write inspirational women’s fiction with romance elements, but let me say, I’m a Southern Yankee. I was born in the south, raised in the north, but forgot to bring along my heart.  My series, called The Chronicles of Chanute Crossing, includes two books, Joy Restored and Nurtured in Purple, and is set in Tennessee. Chanute Crossing is a fictional town based on the spot in the road called Chanute, where I was born.

An additional tidbit is that during the Great Depression, my mother also wrote love stories set in the same area and with military heroes as well. In fact, her short story, My Cabin Home, is offered free by my publisher Desert Breeze with purchase of my book in electronic format. She wrote sweet, pure romance and was offered publication by a New York vanity press, but who could afford that in the Depression?

Joy Restored introduces Kate Davidson, a fresh, young widow of a Vietnam vet who came home, but never got over the war. Her anger at God plunges her weak faith into a long, dry patch until handsome, sawmill owner Seth Orbin rescues the little family during a terrible storm while they were picnicking on the mountain. Will Kate refuse God’s healing and Seth’s love or will death steal Seth from her as well?

Nurtured in Purple picks up the saga of the Chanute Crossing characters. The two novels were great fun to write! I fell in love with my characters, especially Seth, whom I based on my son’s gentle character. I used my ancestral family names, showcased the beauty of the area and showed that redemption does shine brighter on a darker canvas.

PT:  How interesting!  I've always entertained that writing may be partially hereditary. Are you working on anything currently?

JU:  Love that you asked! I’m doing a blend of things right now. I have a contemporary romance novel set in Jamaica that is pre-published, I’m doing free-lance articles as well as building my editing service (Urbanski’s Editing). Always something fun going on!

PT:  Great diversity! A writer is well versed in multi-tasking. Now let's do something quick and fun. Give four of your favorite obsessions!  Ready-GO!

JU:  My favorite obsessions are

       *People and Places

PT:  Oh, that generates a million more questions! But we're out of space and time. Thanks so much for being with us this week, Jude. May you have a terrific day of thankfulness with your family!

If you want to know more about Jude Urbanski, go to:

Don't forget to leave a comment below if you want to be entered to win a free copy of one of Jude's books.  Check them out in case YOU are the winner.  Leave your email address so we can contact you!!!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Let's give a big welcome to Darlene Franklin!!


      A warm welcome to Darlene Franklin, our gem of the week.


We’re so happy to have you here this week, Darlene. J

You’re one busy lady. Could you tell us how you manage to juggle such a busy home life, a full-time writing career, and a cat?


Do I still mention a cat in my bio? Uh-oh. I miss Talia greatly. Actually, lately, I’ve had to struggle with slowing down. I live in a nursing home, and my health doesn’t allow me such an aggressive writing schedule. I do still spend plenty of time with my grandkids, friends here at the home, and online.


I’m so sorry to hear that, but I’m glad you still spend time with family. J


Would you mind sharing a little about your history and your family with us?


I grew up in Maine. After finishing college (Bible and music) and seminary (religious education), I moved to Denver and fell in love with the Rockies. I stayed there through a divorce, my children growing up, my daughter’s death, and my mother’s declining health. We moved to Oklahoma to be near my son and his family. My son loves the Lord and is a devoted family man (can you tell I’m proud?). I have the sweetest daughter-in-law, two teenage granddaughters who are spreading their wings, and almost-six year old Jordan and four year old Isaiah.


Even though you’re having health issues, you still sound very blessed, as am I. J


I’m interested to know why you chose the genre you write under. Is there some special reason?


You could say the genre chose me. I tried a variety of things—nonfiction, devotions, mysteries—but over time I found romance suits me best. Historical romance in particular. So many fascinating things happens in the past, that I get to bring to life! I often say God has a sense of humor, giving a single mother to the task of writing romance. But the point is, I love writing about the greatest love of all—God’s love for us.

I have published a lot of devotions (the next group will appear in Women of the Bible, coming from Barbour in 2015), and am working on a year-long book. Lately I’ve also started experimenting with poetry.


How does where you live effect your writing? Do you find it easier to write in one place as opposed to another?


Noise doesn’t bother me, but I do need to be left alone. Here in the nursing home, I set up my computer on my table, turn on the TV, and write.


One question I like to ask everybody I interview is: What is your favorite book you have written and why?

And I hate this question, because it’s like asking me to choose my favorite child! I point to Dressed in Scarlet, my first historical romance which also finalled in the Book of the Year awards—that convinced me I could not only write historical, but I could do it well.


I can understand that, although I also have one I favor. J


What book are you giving away this week, and is it your newest one?


I am giving away an electronic copy of An Apple for Christmas, which is my newest book. It’s book #4 in the Christmas Traditions series.


Ruby Nelson trades her job in the laboratory for teaching in a small girls’ school in Vermont. Twin sisters challenge her position—and their father captivates her imagination. Will the orchard grower graft Ruby onto his heart?


Do you mind giving us a small excerpt?


From the first page:


Spruce Hill, Vermont, 1895

Ruby Nelson ran her hands across the oiled surface of her teacher’s desk. Few understood her decision to leave her research position in New York to teach in a small, all-girls school in Vermont.

The twelve girls on her class list were the reason she accepted a teaching position. A dozen young minds to mold, to be seen as individuals. As she read her students’ names, she pictured each girl’s appearance. A person’s face revealed so much. How well were they taken care of? What adornments did they wear? How did they style their hair?

            Comparing the reality to her guesses made it fun. Two girls had the same last name, twins, probably. Pippin and Margil? She shook her hand. What unusual names for girls.

            Next, she examined the applications, including transcripts, essays, referrals. One girl was a year younger than the others, hungry for something more challenging. An only child. Ruby stared out the window. That had been her, thirteen years ago, too smart to fit in, too small to play most games.

            A knock on the door interrupted her perusal of her roster. She stood and straightened her skirt. “Come in.”

            A man came in, a girl on either side. Twins, clearly, by their appearance. “Miss Nelson?”   “Yes?”

            “Miss Walker told me we were free to visit.” He took off his hat. “I’m Mac Cortland, and these are my daughters, Pippin and Margil.”


This sounds so interesting. I can’t wait to read it!!


So what is it about writing that keeps you plugging on? Have you always wanted to be a writer?


I found my diary when I was 10, and writer was one of the occupations I had listed. I also worked for a newspaper for a couple of years. But I began writing seriously, every day, in the wake of my divorce, back in 1991. Many times in the early years, I asked God, “should I stop?” and He would say, “Not yet.”

Now, the book club I’ve worked with for ten years is shutting down. Once again, I’m asking God, “should I stop?” with a bit of panic in my voice. I can’t imagine not writing, and trusting Him to show me what next.


We’ve enjoyed learning about you, Darlene. Could you leave us with some advice for those out there still striving to make their dream of being a published author come true?


Two basic pieces of advice: read, read, read and write, write, write. Don’t worry about grammar or whether it’s good enough to publish. You get better just by writing.

Also, hook up with a good writer’s organization, such as ACFW. You network with other industry professionals and you learn the craft at the same time. A good idea.


Good answer. I know from experience how much being a member of ACFW helps. J

Don’t forget to leave a comment and contact info to be entered to win an electronic copy of Darlene’s newest book: An Apple for Christmas!!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Interview and giveaway with Autumn MacArthur!

The Christmas season is almost upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with author Autumn Macarthur and her new holiday release! Make sure you leave a comment (and your email address) to be entered for a chance to win both of her contemporary romance novels!

Welcome, Autumn. I'm so excited to have you with us today. I believe most of the authors we've featured here are American, but you're from across the pond. How long have you lived near London, and what was the transition like coming from Australia?
I’ve lived in the UK for eighteen years now, the first five years in London and the rest just a little way north of London, in a town that used to be a coaching stop on the Great North Road. Yes, now I’m seeing where all those eloping heiresses in the Regency romances I used to read would have been!
I never expected or planned to stay so long.
I spent my first three days in London walking around in a daze repeating to myself over and over, “I’m in LONDON!” It had been such a long held dream it was hard to believe it had finally come true! I suspect the transition would have been far more difficult if I’d know when I planned my trip here that it was going to last so long. I thought I was only coming for a one year working holiday. God had other plans, including me marrying an Englishman!.

I love that! God's plans are so much better than our own. :) What made you choose London to set your stories in?
I LOVE London. I truly do. There’s so much history here, and a sense that it is my history that I don’t get in Australia. There’s a very ancient culture there. I’ve been awestruck at Aboriginal rock carvings that could have been there for a thousand or more years, being recarved as the rocks weathered. The Aboriginal culture is the one of the longest surviving cultures, going back over 40,000 years! European settlement of Australia only dates back 250 years, recent in comparison.
But there’s a longstanding history here. Like a pub in the town I now live in called The New Inn, because it was built in the 1600’s and the pub just up the street is older. I visit a church in a nearby village with heartbreaking inscriptions from the time of the Black Death carved into the walls. My husband and I considered buying a house built in the early 1700’s. The only reason we didn’t is that the beams in the kitchen were only 5’9” from the floor- people were shorter then!
Plus, I love the vibrancy of London too. It’s an amazing mix of old and new. There’s that sense that anything could happen here- and it probably will!
Not that I only write London set stories! The current Love in Store series is set in a London department store, and there are three or four more stories at least to come in that series! But I have other stories in various stages set in Australia and in the US. One Aussie series is set in a small coastal town, the other in a rural area. I have a US series set in a small Oregon community. I have a couple of historical stories set on the convict ships taking prisoners from Britain to Australia, and in the early days of Sydney’s settlement. I also want very much to write a WW1 story set in a nearby village to my current home. Lots of stories, lots of ideas! I love all the settings for my stories.

Where do your story ideas come from?
Everywhere! I have too many ideas! Often, a story is an amalgam of several. A story in the local paper. Something in the national news. Something my husband or a friend tells me about someone they know or a friend of a friend. A minor character in a previous story wants their own story please! Or I see a call for submissions, and editor or publisher asking for a particular type of story about a particular subject. Usually more than one of these will collide to make a story!

What was the hardest part about writing a Christmas-themed book? The easiest?
That’s a tough question! I would say the easiest part is bringing in lots of fun Christmas stuff! There is just so much of it! And I guess the hardest part is not letting the Christmas aspect overrun the romance, which is the centre of all my stories.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?
Hmm, another toughie! I love almost everything about Christmas (washing up after Christmas lunch maybe the one exception), but I married a Christmas hater! As we usually spent Christmas Day  with his family, I love our Christmas Eves together, which is our own couple-type Christmas. I cut pine branches, put them in a big saltglazed jar, and pile the plain white fairy lights on. I light candles, listen to Christmas carols, and cook us up a special meal. We watch A Christmas Carol, and open our presents for each other. That’s such a special time, and the tradition I enjoy most.

That sounds lovely! Sometimes the simplest traditions mean the most. 
Speaking of traditions, why did you decide to indie publish, and what's been the most rewarding thing about doing so?
I decided to indie publish because of the freedom it gave me to write the type of stories I wanted. There aren’t a lot of traditional publishers that will take the sort of stories I mainly write, Christian inspirational romances set outside the US. I did have a publisher interested in Believe in Me, but I realised when doing revisions that the story needed to be longer than the shorter books that publisher accepted. And I had ideas for a series, but the books weren’t going to be all the same length. I prayed long and hard about it, and felt that indie publishing was the way to go.
The most rewarding thing? It’s hard to limit to one! The absolute most rewarding thing has been the feedback from readers. Getting emails or Facebook messages from people who’ve read and loved the stories is amazing! I’ve also enjoyed the stretch learning the new skills I’ve needed to develop to indie publish. It gives me fresh appreciation for all that traditional publishers do for their share of the book cover price! And I treasure my relationships with my editor and my critique partner, which wouldn’t have developed as they have if I hadn’t indie published.

What do you hope readers will take away from your books?

A sense of hope and possibility! That no matter what, God loves us, and we can all know the breadth and depth and width of His love. We just need to choose to accept it.  Sometimes even as Christians we don’t feel it in our lives, but God wants us to feel His love, and find joy in it. That’s the prayer I have for every reader of every book.

Thanks again, Autumn, for joining us today. Don't forget to leave a comment below with a message for Autumn or to share your favorite Christmas tradition. Everyone who comments will be entered to win a bundle pack of books 1 and 2 in the Love In Store series! And keep reading for a blurb about Autumn's latest book, Believe in Me!

Bah, humbug!

All Cara Talbot wants for Christmas is for it to be over.

The workaholic accountant has good reason to hate Christmas, along with charmers like actor Nick Callaghan, playing celebrity Santa at the failing London department store she has the thankless job of managing.

She’s determined to save her staff’s jobs, Hollywood golden boy Nick just wants to live up to his Mr Unattached reputation and enjoy life. They couldn't be more opposite. But if accepting Nick’s dare – dates showing her the magic of a London Christmas – can raise enough publicity to keep the store open, she’ll do it. Even if she risks falling in love with him in the process.

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

Book 2 in the Love In Store series of sweet inspirational romances.

The series is set around a stately old London department store, and the same settings and staff pop up in each book. But there is no need to read them in order!
Every story is a complete romance, following a different couple through the trials and joys of a developing love, to their happy-ever-after.

Believe In Me is a Christian romance!

Please don't buy this book if you are offended by the G-bomb (God), Jesus, and mention of prayer, church, or the Bible.

Includes Santa costumes, kissing, and a huge past heartbreak to overcome, as well as British spelling. Complete with British English Glossary. Please do let me know if you find any British-isms in the story you wish had been included, and I will add them!

68,000 words, approximately 284 print pages

Faith, Hope, & Heartwarming - inspirational romance to make you smile!

Amazon links-
Autumn Macarthur is an Australian writer of inspirational romance living near London with her very English husband, three spoiled cats, and a guinea pig with a dandelion addiction. She loves reading, cooking, gardening, and writing deeply emotional stories to make you smile and remind you how big and wide and deep God’s love and forgiveness can be.

She tends to talk a little too much and laugh a little too loud, her sleep schedule is all over the place so you’ll often find her on the internet at 5am, and she’s grateful to be blessed with some good friends and a very patient husband. She’s also eternally thankful for God’s great love and mercy.

When she’s not talking to her strawberry plants or cherry blossoms, she can be found blogging at ; on Facebook as Autumn Macarthur, and on Twitter as @autumnmacarthur. She loves hearing from readers so do get in touch!

You can subscribe to her mailing list here-