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 www.faithhopeandheartwarming.com ; 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- http://mad.ly/signups/116735/join

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Interview and give-away with Laura V. Hilton!

A Christmas romance...A new beginning...A resurrected past...

A White Christmas in Webster County

Hi Laura! Welcome to The Diamond Mine!  

I really enjoyed your book, “A White Christmas in Webster County.”  How did you get your idea for the characters of Abner and Mercy, and their histories? 

  Thank you, Nancy.  Abner is the twin brother of the hero in Awakened Love, Abram.  I knew Abner’s backstory when I started the book, because he shared most of it with Abram. The part that I didn’t know, Abner was willing to share.  Mercy, I read an article about Amish going fishing on Lake Michigan. And the what if questions followed from there.

That's interesting! In your books, are your Amish characters based on people you know, parts of yourself, pure imagination, or a combination of these?  

Probably a combination of all three.  I am a quiet/shy person by nature, but I am fully capable of standing up for myself, too.  Amish are not so different, human-nature, than “Englisch”. 

I can tell that from your characters! I see that most of your books are about Amish people. What inspired you to take that direction with your writing? 

  My maternal grandparents were Amish.  But that wasn’t what did it.  Someone mentioned on American Christian Fiction Writers that we should write what our favorite genre is.  I love most Amish fiction, so when my agent gently suggested I give it a try, I was willing. And I love it.

And readers do, too! Do you have a lot of readers who are Amish?  

No, not too many Amish read about the Amish. Not a lot of Amish. It is mostly Englisch who read it.

I’ve always wondered if practicing Amish are flattered or puzzled by the interest so many readers have in their lifestyle. What’s your opinion on that? 

  I think they are puzzled.  To them, their life is normal, what God commands. Flattery would mean pride, and pride to the Amish is a sin.

Good point! I see that an upcoming book of yours, “Swept Away” releases this month and is somewhat of a departure from what you usually write. How did that come about?

    I love contemporary fiction and wanted to write for the Quilts of Love.  However, to be honest, Swept Away is not mine so much as it is Cindy Loven’s.  Cindy came up with the Grandma and heroine idea, and the quilt, and she told me most of their story.  I tried to write it the way she wanted it.  Drew, however, was my invention and his story is all mine. 

 Can you describe the book a bit?  

I actually have three new books out this fall.  A White Christmas in Webster County, The Snow Globe, and Swept Away.  

After our interview, I'll post a blurb from each!  I'm curious. Do you have a favorite among your stories or characters?   

My favorite male characters are Troy Troyer in Surrendered Love, and Viktor Petershiem in The Snow Globe.  My favorite female characters are Shanna in Healing Love, Esther in The Snow Globe, and Janna in Surrendered Love.

What are you working on now, Laura? 

I’m writing the third book in the Amish of Jamesport series,  The Birdhouse. 

What is the main message you’d like your readers to get from your books?   

I leave that up to God and the reader.  But I hope they hear the gospel of Grace. That they are accepted in the Beloved. That God loves them, despite everything. 

That's a wonderful thought, Laura. Thank you for sharing your answers with us on the Mine. Now, here are some descriptions of Laura's latest books! Since we're showcasing "A White Christmas in Webster County" I'll  start with that one:

A White Christmas in Webster County
Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montana to work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they occasionally see each other in town and form a fledging friendship. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place? 

The Snow Globe
Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again?   

Swept Away
He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.
Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.
Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.
It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever. 

Sounds like a lot of great reading coming our way from Laura V. Hilton! Remember to leave a comment for Laura, and you'll be entered to win a free copy of A White Christmas in Webster County!

Here are contact and purchase links for Laura:
twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Purchase Laura's books: