Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sandra Merville Hart Interview and Book Giveaway!

Today I'm interviewing Sandra Merville Hart. Her debut novel, "A Stranger On My Land is just out, and if you leave a comment after the interview, you'll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of her wonderful book. I loved it!
Hello, Sandy! Glad to host you on The Diamond Mine! "A Stranger On My Land" is your debut novel. How long have you been writing fiction?

I wanted to be a writer in elementary school and actually wrote my first novel, a mystery, in the sixth grade.  I received no encouragement. I rightly took this to mean that my story was not a good one. What I didn't know was that most first attempts aren't very promising. I let my dream go.
It returned to me about ten years ago. After spending time taking correspondence classes and a couple of college writing classes, I began writing in earnest.

I noticed your historical references after the ending, and found them very interesting. How did you come upon the idea for placing your novel in this specific point of time during the Civil War?

My dad lived on another mountain in Tennessee in his childhood. The mountains of Tennessee have always had a strong pull on me.
The Battle Above the Clouds, fought on Lookout Mountain, fascinates me. The mountain is so tall that fog shrouded the middle section during the battle. Folks in the valley watched soldiers from both sides climb beyond the fog as fighting continued. It must have been quite a sight.
My research showed that many who lived on the mountain hid in caves with the armies of both sides of the conflict in the area. This sparked my idea.

 Has the Civil War held a special fascination for you? As Americans, we all have our own views of this nation-changing conflict, but I’d like to know what significance it has for you.

 I can't remember what first captivated me about the Civil War. It may have reading Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell while in high school. I believe it was the longest book I had read up to that point. (And one of the few of that length I've read, now that I come to think of it.)
My fascination grew as an adult when visiting historical sites. My interest always perked up when finding a connection with the Civil War.
Even after I let my dream of becoming an author slip from my fingers, I still wanted to write a book set during the Civil War. It was one of the first ideas I pursued at writers conferences only to be told at that time no one wanted them.
I'm glad that changed.

So am I! Did you have an outline, or did you just write as inspiration hit?

When I first started writing, I outlined my chapters before beginning my books. I don't do that anymore. Now, when I begin a novel I know the ending, but how the characters will get there isn't clear. I pray that God will give me His story and the book takes off in surprising directions. I can't tell you how many times I've thought after typing a scene, "I didn't know that was coming."
It's like I've relinquished control of how the characters will react. I like this way of writing much better.

I agree! It's pretty exciting to have your characters surprise you! I'm curious, aside from what you share in the epilogue concerning actual historical people, were any of your main characters based on you or people in your life?

Signs of Carrie's feisty spirit flash throughout the story. When I think of feisty women, my grandmother definitely comes to mind. If you ever watched the TV series, Beverly Hillbillies, you have a good idea of what my grandmother was like.
So my grandmother probably influenced this side of Carrie's character.   

This is your debut novel, but I know in my case, my debut novel is not my actual first novel. Is this one your first, or do you have others?

I've written about a dozen books so far. If I'm not mistaken, I'm writing my thirteenth novel right now.

Wow! That's great. I’d like to know more about your writing journey. What first inspired you to write down a story?

My love of reading began in the third grade when my teacher took us to the library weekly. I didn't know what to start with, and the librarian suggested biographies. I loved learning about people in history. Now that I think about it, that's probably where my love of history originated.
Soon after this, I told my mom that I wanted to be a writer. Lack of encouragement was a major stumbling block for me because I lacked confidence.

Well, I hope you have confidence now. You're definitely a writer! What is your writing process like?

I begin each writing day by reading a chapter in the Bible. It seems to ground me for the day. Then I open up my current WIP, update the word count from the previous day's writing, and let my imagination go.

Sounds like fun to me! What do you want your readers to experience through your writing?

I really want them to go on a journey back in time with me, when times were both simpler and more difficult in their own way.

What are you working on now?

I had an idea for a romantic suspense novel. It's a contemporary novel but still has a historical element!
My next novel will be another Civil War romance. This one will be set in Gettysburg. I can't wait to write this one!

Be sure to let me know when you finish it. I'll look forward to reading it!

Thanks for hosting me today, Nancy. I've enjoyed our conversation!

I have too, and I hope your book does well. I certainly loved  reading it!

Here's a short blurb from Sandy's book, "A Stranger  On My Land."

Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as "The Battle Above the Clouds." Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam's friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It's not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie's father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam's condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family's hiding place a secret?

You can find Sandy on Facebook:

Don't forget to leave a comment for Sandy, and be entered in the book giveaway drawing!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Welcome Deborah Piccurelli: Author, Advocate, and Diamond

Deborah Piccurelli

Welcome to the Mine, Deborah. Summer’s almost over, and school’s getting ready to start in some areas, started in others. A busy time of year!

Thank you for having me, Renee. It’s a pleasure to be here!

I see you have a book out and about called Hush, Little Baby. Can you tell us about it?

Here’s the back cover blurb:

Investigative journalist, Amber Blake, is a little person bent on payback for the death of her average-sized twin sister. Enlisted by her former partner and estranged husband, Evan, she poses as a counselor in an abortion clinic to expose the doctor responsible for fetal harvesting. As a Christian, she struggles with concealing her beliefs to maintain her cover, while the doctor’s romantic overtures tumble her stomach. Amber agrees to date him for the sake of the story . . . but nothing prepares her for what’s behind a mysterious door in his office.

Wow, it sounds like a powerful book. Do you think we can get a sneak peek?

            She would be working for her sister’s killer.
            Amber’s skin goosebumped as she drove down the town’s main highway to the Cedarview Women’s Center for her first day on the job. To think the man responsible for Ashley’s death, Dr. Albert Hines, would be her employer.
            Her foot pumped the extender pedal for the brake, and her Honda Odyssey glided to a smooth stop at the red traffic signal. She sometimes wondered what it would feel like to be five-six instead of four foot tall, and able to drive without the extenders; to live a life without the need for any adaptive products.
            She was about to find out. In part, anyway. Her last visit to the clinic for the interview revealed very few accommodations for a little person. Not that she expected there would be any, as they probably never had a dwarf working there before. Despite her size, Dr. Hines had shown her much respect. Because of that surprising courtesy, a tinge of guilt crept in at the thought that he would end up in prison because of her.
            Not enough to put her off, though. He had it coming.

I started writing novels fairly late in life (around forty), but I heard the call loud and clear. I just never thought I’d be writing suspense. I figured I’d write more historical or chicklit. Anything but suspense or mystery. When the Lord called you as a writer, did you think you’d be writing what you are?

Actually, I thought I’d be writing screenplays, because that’s what I started with. I really don’t know how I switched over to novels, but I do know that reading good books made me want to write them, too. I had even started a couple as a child, but never finished them, and then teenage life took over.

Ever wonder if you heard right?

Not really. I just write whatever I hear the Lord give me. I have three other assignments from Him: Another novel, which I’m working on right now; a nonfiction book, and a TV drama. The latter two I’ve never even thought of getting into before.

Now don’t laugh… I had aspirations of being a ballerina as a child. Of course, it wasn’t meant to be, either due to God’s will or my own foolishness. Either way, now I’m a pharmacist and an author. Praise the Lord. If God hadn’t made you to put the pen to the page, what else do you think you’d be?

This sounds really lame at this point in my life, but as a little girl, I wanted to be a secretary when I grew up. For some reason I thought it was glamorous. I guess from watching TV shows and movies where the secretary looked official and ended up marrying her boss. (laughs) Anyway, I did end up doing that for many years. And no, I didn’t marry any of my bosses. So, being a writer is a bigger, better dream for me. And as I mentioned earlier, I did do some writing as a child, so I guess writing was a sort of hidden dream.

I can see writing as a hidden dream of mine as well! I think God plants that desire very early in many writers. I know He did for me. Like I said before, I write suspense and romance. The Lord imbeds His message of deliverance. He offers me stories of faith and hope...  with struggles through insurmountable odds. What do you write and why?

The books I write are cause-related. Mostly subjects related to sanctity of life. The Lord just put this on my heart, and I feel it’s an assignment he appointed me to.

The Lord promises to never forsake us. So even when we think we’ve been abandoned in our endeavors, He’s with us. What can you share with the readers to encourage them?

Stay close to Him. Consult Him at every turn in each project. It wouldn’t even hurt to fast some. Praise Him. He inhabits our praise.

Thank you so much for that, Deb. So many times we forget to do that very thing. In fact, He becomes our last resort when He should be the first. My faith in Jesus Christ sustains me. I’m actually known to many as Faithwalker. How does your faith provide strength for you?

I think it’s more that the Joy of the Lord gives me strength to have the level of faith needed to do this work.

That’s an interesting perspective. For me, I have to say it’s the reverse. My faith gives me joy. When all else fails, I have faith in the One true God and He’s always there for me… no matter what. I take joy in that. Even if I don’t feel like smiling or laughing, I know He loves me. Of course, I don’t write what you do!
Thanks for coming to the Mine today. Before you go, can we let the readers know what’s in the works for you? New releases to come?

And thank you for having me, today, Renee. I have a contract with Prism for a novella, that’s pure romance, not the usual stuff I write. I’m working with the editor now, but have not yet been given a release date. I’m hoping it’s not too far off.

I can’t wait until it’s released. I bet it’s going to be great. I hope you let us know when you find out the release date. Until then… may the Lord bless and keep you!

Deborah’s giving away a signed print copy of her new release, Hush, Little Baby. Enter for your chance to win via the Rafflecopter below!

Drawing will be August 27th!

About the Book:

Investigative journalist, Amber Blake, is a little person bent on payback for the death of her average-sized twin sister. Enlisted by her former partner and estranged husband, Evan, she poses as a counselor in an abortion clinic to expose the doctor responsible for fetal harvesting.
As a Christian, she struggles with concealing her beliefs to maintain her cover, while the doctor’s romantic overtures tumble her stomach. Amber agrees to date him for the sake of the story . . . but nothing prepares her for what’s behind a mysterious door in his office.

About the Author:

Deborah M. Piccurelli is an advocate for sanctity of life, and tackles such issues in her novels, weaving them into compelling stories. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two sons.

Contact info:
Twitter - @DebPiccurelli

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Big Howdy to Author-to-be, Megan Besing!

I am uber excited to introduce to you, author-to-be, Megan Besing. Although we usually have established writers here on the Diamond Mine, I thought it would be fascinating to promote an author who’s still striving to reach that ultimate writing goal—publishing.  And who among us doesn't love the thrill of discovering a budding new author?  Plus, she’s near and dear to my heart because she’s my very own daughter! Woot, woot!  Please welcome, the beautiful, the talented, Megan Besing!

Hi Megan! Fancy meeting you here! LOL

Hey! (laughs) Yes, we usually meet on less formal occasions! Like around the dinner table.

Well, let’s dive right in. So you are a stay-at-home mom, a babysitter, and a photographer.  What started you on the road to publication?

Don’t get mad at me, but I was super late coming into the game of reading. I thought books were for education and Bible studies, while movies covered everything else. LOL I know. I know. Thankfully, I am no longer blind to the idea that books are actually heart-thumping wonderful! During my past three years of devouring books, I finished a story that didn't place God in a good light, and to be honest, I didn't like the ending. It wasn't how I wanted it to go at all. So the next morning, I woke up and started writing. It probably also helped that earlier in the year, my mother told me she was going to get serious about her writing career. Otherwise I may have thought my idea to write a book was pure craziness.

Craziness describes a lot of an author’s life! But let’s get to genres. Authors often  have trouble deciding which genre to write.  How did you decide to go with Christian Dystopian?

One of my favorite genres to read is YA, especially Dystopian. Hunger Games, Divergent, Matched, The Fifth Wave, and The Selection are some of the popular secular Young Adult Dystopian books right now. Of course there are tons of others! It’s what I enjoy. I just wanted to make sure that God was a factor in my stories, since He’s the factor in my life. And I feel like there should be more Christian Dystopian books, mainly because I’d like to read more of them. But my second novel isn't Dystopian. It’s a YA Contemporary. So I suppose I decided to go with YA because it’s what I enjoy, and it pops into my head the easiest.

Since many of our readers may not be familiar with Christian Dystopian, tell us a little about this type of genre.

It does sound like a frightening term, but it’s not! To me it’s just a made up world, that often resembles what we live in now, but something in the society is causing fear or problems. Of course that may not be the exact definition, if there even is one. And if you put Christian in front of it, then typically that means the characters are dealing with their faith in one way or another. Or as in my story, the world is trying to do away with faith.

So getting to the nuts and bolts, tell us some of your struggles of finishing a novel.

Sleep. For some reason I need it? LOL. But my life is like so many of you--busy.  I may stay at home with my kids, but I feel like I’m never there. I babysit along with running my photography business. I also review books over at Edgy Inspirational Romance, teach the youth at my church, play the piano for Sunday’s service, and for some odd reason my husband actually likes to see my face. So I believe the biggest challenge is finding time to get my hiney seated in my writing chair with the discipline to block out the temptation of social media, which can be both a blessing and a curse for me.

True. You can’t write without planting that old gluteus maximus (and minimus) in a chair. (laughs) Let’s go from the bottom-side to the topside. Disappointment. It’s a big part of being an unpublished writer. Wow, it's a big part of being a published writer!  Tell us some of your big discouragements and how you've overcome them.

The road of a writer is…interesting, stressful, oh, you can pretty much add in all of the seven dwarfs and that should cover the average day. Receiving honest feedback from your critique partner and rejections from the publishing world are up there, but I think my lowest point has been when I received what I call, my first “hate mail.” I have received two unpleasant emails from an individual who apparently doesn’t want me to be a writer.
At first, I was a bit stunned, not because I think I’m an awesome writer, but because someone bothered to take time out of their busy day to demand that little unknown-me, “retire.” I do blog a tad, and I have two flash fiction stories published in Splickey Love Magazine, but besides that, most of my work is hidden from the world. Of course I started questioning my writing and abilities, and panic bubbled in my chest for a few days. But after praying and seeking advice from others, I wrote this blog Through Our Weaknesses and Dealing with the Haters. I think it answers this question best.

Let’s get current. You're working with an agent to tweak your first novel.  What would be the ultimate publishing goal for you?

True, I am technically working with an agent, but she’s not my agent…at least not yet. J Currently, I just call her ‘the agent lady,’ as if there’s only one in the world. Earlier in the year, I received offers from two different publishers for my first manuscript. I had questions piled in my mind about the contracts—those very intimidating contracts. I mean I didn’t want to sign away my left arm or something. So, I contacted an agent who I’d pitched to at the 2013 ACFW conference to see if she’d be willing to offer advice. I liked her, and thought the worst that could come from emailing her, would be her ignoring me. But she surprised me and emailed back. She provided me with a couple options. Choosing door number three, I decided to take a leap of faith and reject both offers from the publishers I received, and instead, work with her (the agent lady) as my content editor. After I finish tweaking, or after I sweat and bleed all over my manuscript, my ultimate publishing goal would be to have my book printed and on the shelves of Family Christian, Lifeway, and Barnes and Noble. Where I could hug it, prance and twirl around the aisles not caring that I’m receiving awkward stares and finally take a selfie with the cover. And to be able to do that with multiple books would be dark chocolate-fantasticJ Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and find it true. A girl can dream, right?!

Oooh. That’s sounds fun.  I may steal your idea! Lol Thanks for appearing on the Diamond Mine, Megan. Many blessings, on your writing journey! She’s just another of God’s fine raw gems just beginning to gleam.

You can catch up with Megan on these websites and/or follow the links above for more information about her.

In honor of unpublished writers everywhere, we are offering a chance to win a $25 dollar gift card from Barnes and Noble. And here’s all you have to do! Become a member here at, and you are entered to win!  Don’t forget to leave a comment or a question for Megan. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We have a fun and informative interview with Julie B. Cosgrove this week!!


                                   Let’s welcome  Julie B. Cosgrove to the Mine.




Hey Julie! Thanks for joining us this week. It would be great if you could tell us a little about yourself and what you are trying to accomplish through your writing.

I am a freelance writer, author and professional speaker who leads women’s retreats and workshops for churches.  I write non-fiction as well as novels, but underlying all my works is the desire to help people find God moving in their everyday lives, be it through tragedies, trials or triumphs. That is why I started my blog Where Did You Find God Today almost two years ago.

On a personal level, I am a native Texan, and a widow. I began to write because when my husband was alive, his construction job caused us to move a lot.  With each relocation, it became harder it for me to find work.  So, when the last move brought us back to Texas in 2008, I took the advice of three friends in three different cities and took a simple freelance writing course online. Immediately, I landed clients. Knowing it was a God thing, I promised to tithe my writing to Him first each day.  I began writing regularly for several devotional websites and publications.

My husband died in the shower getting ready for work about fifteen months later, but even without his income as the true breadwinner, God has sustained me. Now, going on eight books later, I am able to only write for Him. 


We’re all excited to hear about the book you have coming out this week. Could you give us a little spoiler?

Hush in the Storm, launching through Prism Book Group, is a contemporary suspense romance. While recovering from surgery, I decided on a whim to start out a story, “It was a dark and stormy night” and see where my keyboard, through my Lord’s inspiration, took that journey. Of course, Hush in the Storm doesn’t begin that way now:

“An eerie thought pressed a clammy hand upon my shoulder. What if all you thought was true never actually was?

Widowed unexpectedly at thirty-one, I naturally longed for what could never be again. Regrets and what-if mantras swirled daily through my mind. I’d learned to push them aside. But this sudden, unsolicited notion surged an icy-hot chill through my body.

My logical side chided me. Don’t be silly, Jen. Of course it was true. The diamond band on my left hand glimmered with proof. Robert had cherished me, married me, spent five loving years with me…that one night didn’t mean a thing.”


The plot is this: Jen is kidnapped by a coworker, Tom, and her death faked , at the request of her late husband, Robert, or so Tom says, to protect her from the group who caused her late husband’s “accident.”

Together, they are swirled into a tempest of deceit where no one is who they claim to be. As Jen dodges the cartel traffickers, the Feds and the press who has learned she is alive, can she save two illegal teens, Tom, and herself without drowning in this storm of lies, especially when she begins to suspect her husband may still be alive as well?


I did some research and see you keep very busy. What’s a day in the life of Julie like?

My cats get me up at 6:00 a.m. to be fed because that is when my late husband always fed them.  I try to then do my Bible reading and prayers over a cup of coffee and then go on a brisk walk. Some mornings, to be honest, I roll back over and confess my slothfulness later.  Then I work part-time as a church secretary, which also allows me to write when things are slow... occasionally that happens.  At 3:00 p.m., after the proverbial errands we all do,  I come home and write for about three to four hours  before turning it all off and relax  by reading, playing word games on the computer, or catching a show on Netflix.  That is unless I am leading a Bible study, have church or Toastmasters, or am lecturing somewhere.


I also see you’ve written several very different pieces. What is your favorite and why?

I honestly cannot say. They were all written because I truly felt God wanted me to write them. That may sound trite, but there it is. He teaches me as much, if not more, during that process than my readers will ever learn.  And each time I speak on one of them, I get new insight.

What Can She Tell Us? is a Bible study just for women on the unnamed women in the New Testament and how their faith encounters can bring new meaning to our own. That has been a favorite and a good seller.  My first novel, Focused,  which is a light romance about an empty nest couple finding renewed meaning in their marriage, is liked by many, and I am finishing the second in the trilogy, Grounded, soon. 

Hush in the Storm hits my heart because underlying the plot is a peek into the atrocities of human trafficking right in our own backyards. It didn’t start out that way, but God led me down that path. First a missionary who helps women trapped in trafficking joined my writing critique group. Then, while doing a workshop series for a national churchwomen’s convention in Indianapolis, my book booth was placed next to the one for Women at Risk (WAR). You guessed it. Missionaries who establish safe houses and income opportunities for women and children caught in sex slavery throughout the world. By the end of the convention, I’d become one of the representatives in the U.S. who sell their wares at no profit. 95% goes back to the safe houses to keep them operating.  It didn’t take long for me to realize God wanted this theme to be in the novel.  My publisher loved it so much, she has pushed for the next book about the same characters,  Legitimate Lies , to launch in January, 2015. And wouldn’t you know it? My editor is a WAR rep as well.


Could you tell us how big a part God plays in your writing career?

The biggest part.  I am constantly brought to my knees in humble thanks that He’s blessed me with this talent. I want to use it only to His glory. Today, through cyberspace, we Christians can touch so many lives all over the world. I am honored to be a small part of that effort to spread the Word through words.

I am a seat-of-my-pants writer, then edit, edit, edit later. I am always amazed where God leads my thoughts, whether it is a devotional, a blog entry, or a novel.  Whatever I write, His love and redemptive mercy comes through the pages. I write about real topics facing real people today. When I began Legitimate Lies, I stagnated. I took it to the Lord and discovered I didn’t have an underlying theme. God led me to the one He wanted me to write about, and the more I researched it, the faster the words flew onto my computer screen. But to tell you that theme would give away part of the plot…


As a cat owner, I can attest to how jealous they are. How do you manage to get any writing down with those furry creatures breathing down your neck? J

They more like breathe in my face as I type!  My life is more complete with my two“beastie boys”.  They are as different as night and day, but I love them equally. Serenity is a cat purring on your lap. It warms my heart every time.


How has your family reacted to your writing? Are they supportive? If so, how?

Now, yes. In the beginning, not so much. They were concerned for me, being a family of lawyers, architects and managers with nice homes and large bank accounts. Writing isn’t a “real career.” How could God support me as a widow through that means?  Mind you, I still scrimp and save, and am blessed to have my part-time job (another secret desire of my heart the Lord has granted) but He keeps astounding me in how my needs are being met month to month.

After several years of me not starving or being on the streets, they calmed down, and to be truthful, so did I. God truly does provide for widows. When my reputation began to grow, I got more speaking gigs, sold more books, received requests to write for more publications, they began to take notice. One by one, as they came to one of my workshops, they began to understand what this is all about. Now, especially my sister and my nieces are my biggest fans.


One of my favorite things to ask is: What is your favorite book, and why?

(Laughing.) I saw a post on Facebook asking if my TBR (to be read) stack is longer than my lifespan…yep!  Guess that means I haven’t found my fav yet. Seriously, other than the Bible— which by the way I have a plaque on my wall which says, “The Bible is the only book in which the author is always present when you read it,”—I guess it would have to be the first novel that turned me into an avid reader when I was twelve.  Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree.


What is your main genre and why did you choose it?

I love writing devotionals, but fiction is my passion. People love to hear stories.  It is how we relate to each other.  From the first days on earth, people gathered to hear tales. Even in my devos I tell stories. My Master, when He walked the earth, told stories to get His point across. He now gets His point across through us writers.


Could you tell us what it feels like to have accomplished so much in life?

Ask me again in twenty years. I have only begun down this path.


Again, thank you for the interview, it’s been wonderful talking to you.

prof.jpeg - Copy.jpgThanks for allowing me to share a bit about myself, my passion, and my novel, Hush in the Storm.  Those who leave a comment will be placed in a drawing to receive a free copy, which will be sent out sometime around the 18th to the 20th.