Wednesday, June 25, 2014

You're invited to a wedding (or three!) with Donna Robinson

Hello, Donna. Thanks for joining us today! I've been reading your newest release Tumbleweed Weddings, which I love, and I'm excited to help you give away a copy!.

Tell the readers a little bit about yourself and your writing journey.
I’m not one of those writers who was born with a pen in her hand! I didn’t think about writing for publication until a friend of my husband mentioned that he was writing a book, which in turn interested me in writing. I thought I could just dash off a book, and it would be accepted right away. (Little did I know!) It took about 16 years before I received my first book contract.
Now I feel that the Lord has called me to write Christian fiction. He put the desire in my heart many years ago, and I’m trying to write the stories He wants me to write.

What made you decide on contemporary romance?
I write contemporary romance and historical romance, both for the Christian market. Right now, I’m concentrating my energies on writing contemporaries. I love stories set in a small town with one prominent family whom the reader gets to know. That’s the setting for Tumbleweed Weddings. I also love Christian romance. That spark of attraction between a man and a woman is one of God’s mysteries, and He’s the one who creates a Happily Ever After for them.

What do you enjoy reading?
Some authors think you should read everything out there—the classics, literary fiction, science fiction, medical thrillers, legal thrillers. I prefer Christian contemporary and historical romance books, and that’s basically all I read. I must say also, I’m thankful for my Kindle! I’ve loaded quite a few books on it, which has turned into my “To Be Read Pile.” Now if only I had more time… 

What's your favorite part of the writing process?
As one writer said, “I don’t like to write, but I enjoy having written.” Getting the book out of my head and onto the computer is not my favorite part, but that’s the only way the book will get written. Actually the thing I enjoy the most is editing my manuscript. I like to tinker with the sentences until they shine.

For Tumbleweed Weddings, how did you decide on Wyoming as the setting?
This book is a 3-in-1 collection, with three stories that were published separately by Barbour Publishing in their Heartsong Presents line. At the time, Barbour was putting all their Heartsong books into a series called “Romancing America.” They would put three books together that were set in the same state, and they covered all 50 states. Wyoming was open—no one had written a set for it, but while I was writing the first book, the editor collected three other books for Wyoming. She accepted my books as a “Wild Card” set. I really didn’t think my books would be put in a collection, but I asked the editor anyway. It took a couple years, but she finally gave me a nod, and Tumbleweed Weddings was published!

What do you hope readers take away from your books?
I want to write interesting, entertaining stories that edify Christians—books that build up, not tear down. Also, as I say on my website, I want my readers’ faith to be strengthened in the God who loves them.

What are you currently working on?
My next book is The Ballad of Steffie Mae, a contemporary Christian romance.
A West Virginia gal who moves to New York City tries to hide her uncultured family roots, especially from the sophisticated hero who has secrets of his own.
It’s slated to come out in the fall of 2014.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Amryn! I really appreciate this opportunity.

Do you have questions or comments for Donna? Comment below to be entered in a random drawing for a copy of Donna's book! Make sure you leave an email address to be notified of winning. The winner will be contacted on July 2.

Here’s a short summary of Tumbleweed Weddings:
In Tumbleweed Weddings, you’ll meet the Brandt siblings—Callie, Tonya, and Derek—who live on a sheep ranch with their parents near Fort Lob, Wyoming. That part of the country has rolling hills, a sparse population, and tumbling tumbleweeds when the wind blows. Callie Brandt thinks she’ll be single all her life until Lane Hutchins comes to town. But what secret is he hiding? Tonya Brandt wants to marry a handsome man, but who is her secret admirer? Derek Brandt doesn’t want to marry until he’s forty. That’s a problem for Cheyenne Wilkins who needs to get married right away to fulfill the stipulations in her grandmother’s will.
This is a collection of three contemporary romances under one cover, previously published separately by Barbour Publishing.
To read the first chapter, visit Donna’s website:

Donna Reimel Robinson is a member of JOY Writers, a local critique group, as well as ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). As a pastor’s wife, she plays the piano for their church and teaches a Jr. High Sunday School class. In her spare time, Donna enjoys sewing and working jigsaw puzzles. She and her husband have four grown children and ten grandchildren. They live in Denver, Colorado.

To learn more about Donna and her books, visit her website ( or her Amazon page (

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Interview and book give-away with Lena Nelson Dooley!

Today at the Diamond Mine, we’re digging into how Lena Nelson Dooley produces her gems! She’s a multi-published writer of contemporary and historical Christian fiction. Today we'll be spotlighting the first book in her historical trilogy: "Maggie's Journey," a book I greatly enjoyed reading. 

Hi Lena, and welcome to the Diamond mine!
Your McKenna’s Daughters trilogy is your latest in a long line of wonderful historical stories. What made you choose to write historical fiction?

I’ve written and been published in both contemporary and historical fiction. The last several books have been historical. Writers come up with ideas and write proposals. Their agents send out the proposals to various editors. The last four to sell were historicals.

I see. I’m new at this, so it’s good to know! Do you do all your research before the writing process or also during?

I do research ahead of time, but I also do research during the process. I might be writing along and decide I want to use something in the story. I have to find out if that was possible in the time period. I also research setting details, society, news, clothing, food, and a number of other things, so all the details in my story are authentic to the time period. In my historical novels, only my characters and their stories are fiction.

I’m writing a historical fiction now, and I understand how much research goes into it. I really enjoyed all the details in Maggie’s Journey. I was especially struck by the details of train travel back then. Really interesting, and I felt like I made the trip with them. So, I’m curious. Do you use outlines for your stories?

I create a timeline, then divide it into possible chapters, then write a few details of what could happen. That’s all the outlining or plotting that I do on paper. Of course, the story develops and grows in my mind before I ever start writing.

How do your stories come to mind? Do you actively think of a scenario or character first, or do the ideas just pop in your head?

I do study people, and I’m always on the alert for interesting happenings. I do believe that God created me with a vivid imagination that He planned for me to use at this time in my life.

What was your first book, and how long did it take to get it published?

Home to Her Heart published by Heartsong/Barbour in 1992. I had finished writing it in 1984.

My experience is pretty similar. A book I wrote in 2008 will be my debut novel this fall. I guess that’s where perseverance comes in! Lena, what genres are your favorites for reading as well as writing?

I have very eclectic tastes in reading material. I do love reading historicals, suspense novels, contemporary romance, even some sci-fi and fantasy books.

Sounds like we have a lot in common! Do you have a favorite book or character among your stories?

It’s usually the characters in the book I’m writing at the time that I’m asked this question. I do love the characters in the book I’m writing. But I love most of my characters for their uniqueness.

What do you most want to convey to a reader through your writing?

I want first to entertain the reader. Most people use reading to take themselves out of their mundane world or to give them a break from the stress. And I always include flawed characters, who grow spiritually and emotionally through their circumstances. I hope the stories will help someone else who is facing the same kind of problems to see a way out of their circumstances as well.

What new stories do you have planned?

My new series Love’s Road Home is about people who have a second chance to find love. I’m writing the first novel right now—A Heart’s Gift.

Any advice for new authors?

Read, read, read. Read novels by good writers. Read novels in the genre you want to write. Then network with other authors.

Thanks for the advice. As a new author, I’ve got the reading part down, and am busy learning the networking part. Like this wonderful interview with you! Thanks so much Lena!

We'll be giving away a copy of "Maggie's Journey." It's the first book in Lena's trilogy of McKenna's Daughters. Just leave a comment with your email address and you're entered in the drawing! 

Here's a blurb about Maggie's Journey:
Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her. 
Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn't fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost. 
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life? 

 To learn more about Lena and her books, visit her at: Lena's website or enjoy her award-winning blog: Lena's blog View and buy her books at: Lena's books on Amazon and Lena's books at Barnes and Noble

Thanks again to Lena Nelson Dooley for stopping in at The Diamond Mine!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Chat with JoAnn Durgin

Welcome to the Mine, JoAnn! As you know, we’re digging for diamonds in Christian fiction, and your books are gems. Would you say they’re diamonds?

Thanks so much for hosting me today! My theme verse in my writing journey is based on Matthew 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (NASB).
I like to think my writing shines and resonates with the truth and hope to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s my hope that my unique writing voice holds gems of truth from God’s word. When panning for gold at the “diamond mines” in Tennessee, you sift through the sand and dirt to hopefully discover hidden treasure buried beneath. Likewise, I love layered stories where the characters eventually discover those invaluable nuggets of truth . . . but they often have to go through the refining fire before they emerge whole and strong. 

Refining fire and layered stories… your books sound awesome already. I know you write contemporary romance as well as a series. How did you start writing and did it evolve into a series or was it planned that way?

My joke is that I wrote Awakening in two weeks and it took 12 years for it to be published. The full story is on my website at In short, it was the last book I wrote before putting my writing aside—but not the passion for it—for over a decade. When I pulled it back out (literally from under the bed and blew off the dust bunnies), I started to look it over. Having written it so long ago, it was like looking at it through fresh eyes, and it was almost as though someone else had written it.

Although I only found half of it (you must read the story on my website to see how the Lord gave the rest of it back to me!), I could tell it would be a good beginning for a series where the core characters could become mentors to the volunteers of their Christian workers called TeamWork Missions. Each subsequent book contains the love stories of one (or sometimes more) of the TeamWork members. The fifth book in the Lewis Legacy Series releases late this month. The entire series is written but needs significant editing. Then I have another series lined up behind it…

Quite a project… sounds interesting. And I love how your first book was written! I think I wrote my first book in almost three weeks. Of course, it was very rough. Kind of like yours, I bet. Do you have any books out there not related to the Lewis Legacy Series?

Catching Serenity, my latest release and the book I’m highlighting today, was written with the idea of giving my readers something apart from my series. I’m happy to say it’s also been quite successful for me. It’s a standalone, full-length novel with mystery as well as romance. All of my books feature an element of humor mixed in with the adventure and drama—all the elements I believe you need for a satisfying story: (1) it makes you laugh; (2) it makes you cry; and (3) it makes you think.

I’ve also published a couple of fun Christmas novellas with Pelican Book Group (the third in that series to release this year) and I have an upcoming novella, Echoes of Edinburgh, also releasing with Pelican in late September.

Wow! Books, books, everywhere! How in the world did you write (and publish) all those books?

First of all, I couldn’t write and publish books without the Lord’s sustaining grace. I’ve never suffered from writer’s block, and I pray I never do. Writing and publishing involves long hours and a dedication to see a project through to completion. A measure of talent, a willingness to be teachable and accept criticism all factor into the process, as well as dedication, perseverance and commitment truly makes all the difference.

What a blessing… I would love to be able to write like that. I’m sure every writer would. Thank you for sharing your words with the world, JoAnn. If you had one thing you could say through your books, what would it be?

God demonstrated His great love for us by sending His very own beloved, precious Son to die for us. That is the greatest love story we’ll ever know, and from that redeeming love stems our capacity and ability to love others as He first loved us.

What’s your latest book about?

The best way to tell you about it is to give you the blurb for Catching Serenity (what you’d read on the back cover). Here it is:

A woman torn apart by secrets.
A man held prisoner by the truth.
Can the greatest love of all
set them both free?

Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sand castles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Croisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both.
Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and  eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?
Can we get a glimpse?

Gladly, and here’s a portion of the first chapter.

Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers.
Ever since she’d received that unsigned, cryptic note in Atlanta six weeks ago—scrawled in loopy, cursive letters with no clue as to its sender except the postmark from Croisette Shores—the words lingered in Serenity’s mind, never far from her conscious thought. Lifting her face to the early May sun, she dug her toes in the sand, luxuriating in the sensation as the warm grains filtered between her toes. How she’d missed her lovely little South Carolina town.
The slight breeze lifted strands of her hair in an airy dance and a happy squeal caught her attention. A pregnant woman held the hand of a toddler girl who skipped beside her, giggling when the gentle waves kissed her toes. Uninhibited and joyful, the sound of the child’s laughter transported Serenity back in time to the carefree days when she’d played alongside her parents on this same stretch of beach. Days when it seemed the world was ripe with possibility and opportunity. Days when making a sand castle and discovering a beautiful seashell, simple yet intricate in its complexity, thrilled her like nothing else.
Shielding her eyes with one hand, Serenity scanned the beach. Freud? A gorgeous gray and white Siberian husky skirted the shoreline, dodging the seaweed and marine life deposited by the receding waves. A magnificent creature, grace in motion, but who would name a dog Freud? In its own way, though, it was rather cute. She couldn’t remember ever seeing this particular breed of dog in Croisette Shores before. His coat was well-groomed and short, and thank goodness she sat far enough removed to avoid the sand he sprayed in his wake.
“Come here, boy!” The man jogging behind the dog captured her attention as he slowed to a walk, a red Frisbee tucked under one arm. The last time she’d given any man more than a passing glance seemed like a lifetime ago. In some ways, it was. This one definitely stood out in the small crowd of beachgoers. Tall, broad-shouldered and muscular, his wavy dark hair was long enough in back to curl over the collar of his light blue polo. She guessed he must be late twenties or early thirties. Barefoot with the bottom of his khakis rolled on his calves, he looked the part of a well-to-do tourist renting a luxury cottage on one of the private beaches. Cheeks flushed with color, he hadn’t yet developed the sun-kissed tan of the locals.
Stopping, he tossed the Frisbee and laughed as the dog darted after it, venturing into the tide. Amazing a dog that size could jump so high. Serenity sat up straighter, fascinated, as the two repeated their game. The man moved a bit slower, appearing to favor one leg, and a slight grimace creased his attractive features. Was he in pain? She startled a few seconds later when the Frisbee skidded to a stop at her feet, showering her with sand. Freud lunged in her direction—quickening her heart rate tenfold—and scooped the plastic disc in his mouth before bounding off again. Willing her pulse to slow, Serenity brushed sand from her shorts and tugged down on her pink cotton tee.
“Sorry!” the man called to her with a friendly wave. “He’s harmless. Hope he didn’t scare you. Are you okay?”
She waved back. “I’m fine, thanks.” She wasn’t worried about the canine so much as her reaction to Freud’s companion, but how nice of him to consider her feelings. The guy had a killer smile and strands of dark hair whipped over his forehead. Couldn’t he at least have a high-pitched or nasal voice? No, it had to be deep, smooth and rich as melting chocolate. Good thing she generally avoided chocolate.

When do you find time to write? (The pharmacist said to the author…)

Wow, a pharmacist? That’s amazing. Ever tried penning a medical thriller? I think your profession would open a world of writing ideas! I’m an estate administration/wealth transfer paralegal in a large law firm in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. However, I spend nearly every lunch hour working on my current manuscript, writing blogs, or doing some type of marketing work. My mind is almost always spinning with plotlines, characters or something related to my writing. I spend many hours in front of my computer at home or with the laptop in my bed. But the Lord’s given me this desire to share stories and He keeps me going. Writing energizes me like little else and it’s my passion.  

I guess I’ve never thought of penning a medical thriller before, although I do have a pharmacist as one of my characters. Can’t get too far away from my roots, huh? Anyway… Do you have a marketing strategy—well, other than tossing the pages into the wind and praying they find some eager hands?

That image makes me laugh. Sometimes it does seem like that’s what we do, doesn’t it? Since my former publisher turned over the rights to me for my Lewis Legacy Series books at the end of last year, and with Catching Serenity being independently published, I’ve enjoyed having complete control over the marketing and advertising (not to be confused with being a control freak, of course). Unlike some authors, I love marketing. The Lord knew the best marketing “job” for me is marketing my own books! I’m navigating the waters now, but I’ve found a several websites that have been tremendously successful for me. Awakening was offered free on one website a couple of months ago and more than 47,000 readers downloaded it! That was astounding to me, and it served to multiply the sales and increase the visibility of all of my books as a whole (including a boxed set of the first four series books).

What a great idea! I’ll have to remember that and Isaiah 55:11. After all, the Lord’s Word doesn’t return void…even if it is free. Thanks for stopping by the Mine. I believe we have a diamond, folks. Are you open to questions, JoAnn?

Of course! I love interacting with readers and would be happy to answer any questions. Thanks so much for inviting me to visit. Many blessings to all of you, and thanks for your support of Christian fiction and its authors. We couldn’t do it without you!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
About the Book:

A poignant story of faith, hope and love, 
and discovering the everyday miracles 
from an all-powerful God.


About the Author:

Catching Serenity is JoAnn Durgin’s fifth published, full-length novel. She is the author of THE LEWIS LEGACY SERIES: AWAKENING, SECOND TIME AROUND, TWIN HEARTS, and DAYDREAMS (Torn Veil Books), and Christmas novellas, MEET ME UNDER THE MISTLETOE and its sequel (coming for the 2013 holiday season), STARLIGHT, STAR BRIGHT (Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing). An estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm, JoAnn lives with her family in southern Indiana. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (national and Indiana chapter) and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn’s prayer is that her contemporary romantic adventures will touch hearts and lives with the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. She’d love to hear from you at or via her "Author JoAnn Durgin" page on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Hanging out with Jericha Kingston

Interview with Jericha Kingston
PT: Hi, Jericha. Welcome to the Diamond Mine!

JK: Thanks for having me, Peggy. 

PT: You wrote an Easter story set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. How did that come about? 

JK: Great question. I’ve always been fascinated by that era in our nation’s history, captivated by the photographs and documentaries about Black Sunday. I began writing about it. I’d entered a few contests with the opening chapter, and it scored well, so I thought I was onto something. One day, I reviewed the submission guidelines for Pelican Book Group’s Easter stories. Talk about a diamond mine - the publisher laid the ground rules, detailing exactly what they were looking for in a story. 

 PT: So you crafted your story based on the publisher’s prerequisites? 

 JK: Pretty much.

 PT: Was that difficult? 

 JK: Not as difficult as I thought. In fact, I loved the process. 

 PT: How so? 

 JK: Writing-to-spec caused me to create a story that surprised even me. When I’d previously written, I drew from my own ideas, knew where the story was going. Sometimes it’s difficult to translate the thrill of a scene you’ve repeatedly envisioned. But writing-to-spec, my characters constantly surprised me. I delivered the thrill. The process was a blessing, really. And in the end, if Pelican rejected my story, at least it wouldn’t be because I hadn’t followed the guidelines. 

 PT: (Laughs) But that could’ve backfired. If your story was rejected, wouldn’t you have a hard time getting it published elsewhere?

 JK: (Laughs) True. If the story was rejected, I’d have needed to increase word count, change the plot… even changed my heroine’s name. But you raise a good point, Peggy, because risk-taking is part of an author’s DNA. We’re mad, really. Which of us doesn’t labor at a computer for months at a time for the possibility of having our work published? Yet that’s what we do. We write stories because we must. Stories are trapped inside of us, clawing their way out. 

 PT: What do you try to deliver to your readers? 

 JK: A great story. A new setting, someplace we don’t read about all the time. I’m a reader. I understand how difficult it is to find a fresh read. Especially in inspirational romance.

 PT: Explain that.

 JK: An inspirational romance is a guy and a girl. They get together in the end. How am I going to weave a story that hasn’t been done before? I dig deep. Create complex characters. Develop an engaging setting and an intriguing plot. And always remember that if it’s boring me, it’s going to bore readers, too. Simple as that.

PT: What can we expect from you in the future? 

 JK: I’m editing a story I really love, a contemporary military romance. It’s good. And I know it’s good because it’s ripping my heart out. If I’m not in a puddle by the end, it’s back to the drawing board until I get it right.

 PT: Until you can translate the thrill?

 JK: (Laughs) Exactly.

 PT: We look forward to it. Thanks for being with us today here at the Diamond Mine. 

 JK: Thank you for hosting me, Peggy. I’ve enjoyed it. 

PT: Here's a quick excerpt:

     She looked to the front porch where James stood, his face leached of color.
     “Walk toward me as fast as you can.” His voice cracked. “Now, Lily.”
     What? The bully was at it again, this time issuing orders. She sighed and stepped off her rung on the fence. Mr. Bloom was about to learn she didn’t obey tyrants. She released the top plank and would’ve turned to go, but something in his voice startled her.
     “Don’t look back, Lily. I’m begging you. Come to me.”
     She glared at him.
     His face crumpled, and he bounded off the porch and ran toward her.
     The beast was chasing her! And he looked…crazed. No. Terrified. The only other time she’d seen such a look was when—
     Everything turned red. She was enveloped in a cloud. Fine dust stung her eyes and throat, choking her. She gasped, inhaled dirt, and coughed. Her mouth snapped shut, sand grinding between her teeth. She closed her eyes and hid her face behind the flimsy sleeve of her dress, protecting her nose and mouth. But it was no use.
     Shaking. The earth was shaking. Wind gusted, shrieked and moaned, almost as loud as her racing heart. Would it burst right through her chest? What’s happened? Is this a tornado?
     Wind-driven sheets of dust blasted into her flesh like piercing needles. She tasted dirt, smelled dirt, cried dirt.
     “Lily, grab the fence.” James coughed and sputtered. “The fence!”

     She tripped over her own feet to reach the corral and latch on. She clung there, wind and dust swirling around her, lifting her braid up into the air. Please, God, help me!

 Here's your chance to win an e-book of Jericha's novel, Waiting for Lily Bloom. Leave a comment to be entered!

James Bloom has prayed three years for rain and five years for a wife. His dreams are demolished on Palm Sunday, 1935, when a catastrophic dust storm hits Oklahoma, and his neighbor’s niece has to ride out the storm at his house–-overnight. The next day, he’s forced to marry her, an East coast city girl who can’t speak. Could this be God’s plan?

Married to a stranger in the dusty Oklahoma wasteland, Lily Driggers longs for her home. Yet somehow, her new husband is the only one who understands her silence.

As Easter approaches, Lily and James wonder if there is hope after the storm.

You can catch up with Jericha Kingston on:  

You can purchase Waiting for Lily Bloom on,

Jericha Kingston--tomboy gone rogue--loves the visual, performing, and literary arts. She's the winner of the 2013 Touched by Love Award contest (Short Contemporary), the 2nd place winner in the 2013 Laurie contest (Inspirational), and a Finalist in the 2012 and 2013 ACFW First Impressions contest (Historical and Romance). Her Easter novella, Waiting for Lily Bloom, released April 18, 2014 from Pelican Book Group.

A Georgia native, Jericha is comfortable in the solitude of the woods, or singing and acting before audiences. Her heart was stolen at age 16, and it's never been returned. She and her husband have been married for a quarter of a century, and they have two grown sons. Ousting her inner tomboy has been futile, so Jericha is often found fishing, camping, or hiking with her Australian Cattle Dog.