Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Amber Schamel is on the Mine!!

Our guest on the Diamond Mine this week is Amber Schamel. 




Welcome to the Diamond Mine this week Amber. I’d like to start by asking you a few questions about your early life. J

Thank you so much for hosting me on the blog, Misty! I’m so honored to be here.



What was it like being in a family of twelve children? I was a member of seven and that was hard to take at times.

The best way I know how to explain it is this, pick eleven of your best friends, and imagine having them all over for a sleepover. Everyday. That’s pretty much what it’s like. I love being a part of such a big family. There are times when it can be difficult, but it is all completely worth it. The comradery, the amount of work we can accomplish and the character forged is priceless.



When did you decide you wanted to be an author? I read that you were first published at 21.

I’ve always had an active imagination, and I can’t remember when I first started coming up with stories. I finished my first short when I was 16, and it was published in an online forum, I guess that’s where I was bit by the bug. J I later rewrote and lengthened that story and it became my first officially published work when I was 21 years old.


Besides a love of history in general, was there anything else that was a catalyst for you to write about it?


To me, history is alive. I see it played out in my mind as I read about it, and I wanted to bring it to life for others as well. I have also had the blessing of travelling a lot, and that also propelled me to write about the places I’ve visited. My family took me to a lot of the Civil War battlefields, and boy, if that didn’t spark some story ideas…

I’ve also visited Israel, and every square inch of that place has history on it! As I walked along the Galilee, through the ruins of cities, wove through the olive trees in Gethsemane, my mind was a whirlwind of ideas. I had no choice but to write them down.


Could you tell us a bit about your newest book? And will you be giving away a free e-book or hardcopy?

Oh, I love giveaways! I’d be happy to give an autographed paperback of The Messiah’s Sign to one of your readers. (Ebook for outside the US)

The Messiah’s Sign is the second book in the Days of Messiah Series. Here’s the back cover summary.

Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise and protect their son. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?



What was it like being homeschooled? I homeschooled three of my boys for three years and it was hard for me. Your parents must be real warriors. J

My parents are AMAZING. I feel blessed beyond measure to have been homeschooled. It really gave me a head start in writing, life, business, relationships, and protected me from a lot of bad influence. Because I was homeschooled, my education was tailored to what I wanted to do/be in the future, so I had subjects and classes that prepared me for that. My dad also mentors us in business and people skills, and that has been invaluable. I will definitely homeschool my children, even though it can be a tough road. I am living proof that it works.



Could you tell us a bit about being chosen to be a judge for the Genesis contest and what it was like?

When they told me I was eligible to judge the Genesis contest, I was really excited because I had entered the contest a few years ago. Even though I didn’t place, the input that I received from the judges of that contest is a big part of what took my writing to a publishable level, so I was thrilled to be able to ‘give back’ in that capacity. Let me tell you though, judging is HARD! But it is a LOT of fun to see the different up and coming authors. It was awesome to see some of the entries that I judged end up published by the next year.



Could you give those aspiring authors out there some advice, and maybe a little encouragement for the long road ahead?

First, work very hard on making your writing the best that it can be. Study the craft and make your stories shine for God’s glory.

After that, just remember that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Keep querying and writing because, eventually, you will find an agent or editor that sees the beauty in your work. You’ll find readers who will love you too. You can’t please everyone, so just focus on those who see the beauty in your writing.



One question I always like to ask is: What is your favorite work and why? And who is your favorite character and why?

Goodness, it is so hard to pick favorites! Is it fair to say The Bible? It is, of course, the bestseller of all time, and I find the stories in there to be very inspirational and deep. ;)

My favorite character is Jesus. He is the perfect balance and example, and yet His human side fascinates me. Can you imagine being Mary and looking up into Jesus’ eyes as He wept for her brother, Lazarus? Oh, it just raises goosebumps on my arms!



Thank you so much for taking the time to visit the Mine this week. I look forward to reading your work. J

Thanks again for having me! Can’t wait to see who wins The Messiah’s Sign!
Buy Links for The Messiah's Sign

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Interview and Giveaway with debut author Linda Shew Wolf!!

It’s 1968 and Melanie is turning thirteen. It seems like everyone is growing up faster than she is, but that doesn’t stop her from being an incurable romantic. When a gorgeous new boy shows up in her boring, small town, she’ll do anything to be noticed by him.

When an unexpected sequence of events lands her the job of trusted babysitter for his unusual little sister, Melanie is thrilled to be admitted to his inner circle. But then she has to figure out what really matters—a chance to be around him or staying true to her family and her best friend.

Read this dramatic coming-of-age story and be immersed in a time of turmoil and change in the heart of one memorable young girl.

I’m so incredibly thrilled to welcome debut author Linda Shew Wolf to The Diamond Mine! Not only is this her first interview about her debut novel, but she is my awesome, precious older sister who is so dear to me. So this interview is very special indeed! It’s hard to know where to start, but here we go!

What’s the first thing you remember writing, and how did you feel about it?

When I was about six or seven, I remember writing a simple poem for Mom and marveling that I could make words connect with each other as if they were people singing together.  Just in case anyone reading this doesn’t know already, this interviewer is none other than my beloved sister Nancy. It gives me such pleasure to have my first author interview with you, Nance!

The feeling is definitely mutual! When did you know you wanted to write a novel?

I think I always viewed myself as writing novels, ever since I fell in love with Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and (blast from the past), the Honey Bunch series. Now I’m really dating myself, but in defense of my true age (62), these books were published in 1928, so I’m sure they were originally Mom’s. Anyway, I loved all this little girl’s adventures, and I wanted to be just like her.

You know me, I’m a huge fan of the Little House books, too!
Since you’re a musician, how is writing different from music in terms of expressing yourself?

It’s funny. One of the things I value most about music is its immediacy. You play some notes, express yourself, it hits the air and it’s gone. Like the wind. And that’s what makes it so compelling. Even when I’m recording, I am inside this sacred sense of the moment, and I usually object to any excessive editing, autotuning, or processing of anything I’ve played because I want to honor that. Writing, however, is loaded with layers of effort. Being an editor by trade, it is often difficult for me to achieve that same sense of the moment when writing, so when a story really takes off and gives my editor-head a swift kick in the tush, I couldn’t be happier.
I have to admit that I just love the fine-tuning part of writing, especially going back to lay down more support for the actions and feelings of the characters. Some of my favorite scenes were added later to round out the picture I see in my head while I’m writing. It’s a lot like song development. The core of the song is there, raw and beautiful, complete in its own way, and then I get to add textures, harmonies, and rhythms to enhance it.

Wow! What a wonderful, thought-provoking answer! I love it!
How did you get the idea for this novel?

I dedicated it to our daughter, Julie, because I started writing it when she was about 12 and starting to have her first big crushes on boys. I was a romantic young lady myself back in the day, and I wanted to write something for her about how powerful these attractions can be—so powerful that you can lose yourself in them, as well as lose track of people, ideas, and beliefs that are important to you. This power needs to be respected and understood, as it can be a real game-changer.
The weird thing is, this novel started out as a simple exercise in a small writing group I belonged to: “Write a paragraph or two about a person who reminds you of an animal.” My original paragraph is still the opening paragraph of the book:

“The lion boy stood waist-deep in the pool. There was no other way to describe him.

“Melanie’s magazine dropped to her lap and the watery racket of children’s voices around her faded to a soft hum. The boy held his back and neck with regal straightness, surveying his surroundings with fierce disdain. His eyes flickered at various points around the pool. He was an exotic, caged animal looking for a way out.”
That’s a powerful opening, and really grabs the reader’s curiosity. Are you a seat-of-your-pants writer, or do you work from an outline?

Definitely seat-of-the-pants! If anything, it feels as if the story and its characters are piloting a plane and I’m trailing behind gripping a bit of flimsy rope, trying to hang on.

I know exactly what you mean! Pretty wild ride sometimes! Give us a thumbnail description of your main characters.

Melanie, the central character, is a 13-year-old “late bloomer” with the romantic imagination of a much older teen. In 1968 in a small town in upstate New York, she is the only white girl at her school who is best friends with a black girl. That’s not the only thing that sets her apart. Though she wants desperately to fit in with the more mature-looking and mature-acting girls in her grade, she holds true to her integrity and uniqueness and helps hold her family together, too. Until Jonathan comes along.
Jonathan, even at 13, is a natural-born rock star, gorgeous and charismatic. He’s suddenly a very big fish in a very small pond when he is plucked away from his life in New York City by his mother’s remarriage and deposited in Melanie’s little town. Jonathan has many plans for his big escape from Nowhere, USA, and to his delight, he finds a willing accomplice in lovestruck Melanie.
Josephine (Jo) is Melanie’s best friend. Smart, no-nonsense, and with big plans of her own to become a history professor, she takes a dim view of Melanie’s deepening crush on Jonathan. Her vibrant family life and church community have always been a source of strength and comfort to Melanie, and Jo finds it hard to believe that Melanie would risk losing all that and their close friendship over a boy.
Melanie’s Grandma, Grandma G, is her favorite person in the whole world. She’s great at keeping secrets, only giving advice when asked, and never judging—plus she makes cookies and hot chocolate for their late-night Scrabble marathons whenever Melanie sleeps over. Melanie respects her Grandma’s devotion to her church and to lots of prayer, but when Melanie begins to doubt, she isn’t sure if Grandma G will accept her or approve.
Tracy is Jonathan’s 6-year-old sister and is autistic. In the 60s, not much was done for children with autism besides placing them in a separate room at school with other disabled children, and Tracy was used to being misunderstood. Baffling her mother, her teachers, and other babysitters, Tracy finds a kind, compassionate ally in Melanie. Despite Melanie’s original intention of worming her way into Jonathan’s life by becoming Tracy’s babysitter, Melanie finds herself drawn to this unusual, endearing child.

You’ve got some mighty interesting characters and conflicts there. Sounds marvelous! Is there an underlying message you hope readers will take from your book?

Well, I hope readers will see that our feelings, at any age, are valuable and need to be understood, and that God is there even though he seems far away when situations are complicated. I tried to portray a complex character going through a tumultuous time in her young life, making choices and having reactions we can relate to. 

How much of yourself is in your characters?

There’s a lot of me in Melanie, certainly, though I wish I had her feistiness. I know I painted some of myself into Melanie’s mother as well.

I’m glad they contain some of your sweet, warm character! This is your debut novel. What are your feelings on becoming a published author?

Giddy, totally giddy. I don’t think it’s quite set in my head yet that this lifelong wish is becoming a reality. It’s pretty cool, and of course, I have you to thank for all your encouragement, as well as Jacqui and Joan at Prism for theirs!

What are you working on now?

I’m busy on a novel dedicated to our son, Chris, about an 18-year-old boy who spends most of his time and nearly all his energy dreaming. This one has more of a psychological, almost scifi, twist to it and poses the questions: What if God uses the best part of us while we’re sleeping to help others across the world who are awake (and vice versa)? What if we are much more connected to each other in our dreams than we could ever imagine?

What a unique premise! I can’t wait to read it! Thank you, dear Linda for this interview. I’m so thrilled for you!
Linda’s book release date is August 7th. If you leave a comment for her, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of “A Firefly Life.”
Here’s an excerpt from her book:

Well, at least today, she wouldn’t have to worry about propping her eyelids open in class. Just before the bell rang, the new boy sauntered in and headed for the last empty seat at the back of the room. He acted like he didn’t notice the way the buzzing in the room swelled to a crescendo, or the way all the heads turned toward him like starving flowers groping for the sun.

The air became electric. Melanie felt as if her hair was standing on end. She clamped her fingers around her composition book and willed all the blood in her body to flow away from her face and down her arms. Thank God, he was sitting behind her and couldn’t see her face!

This is all in Your hands now, God. You’ve got to get me through this!

Melanie had a hot-cold relationship with God. Most of the time, she barely thought about Him. She had even nodded in agreement once when Barry Muldoon explained why he was an atheist. Some of his arguments did make sense. But at times like this, when her heart was threatening to slam a hole through her chest any second, she remembered how many times God had certainly rescued her in the past.

Now here’s a short bio and Linda’s social links:
Linda Shew Wolf grew up in Ithaca, New York. She graduated from Cornell University and went on to play saxophone in an R&B band in Chicago, where she met her husband, Bobby, a fellow musician. After raising two children, they both returned to performing, and she also rekindled her lifelong passion for writing fiction. She now works as a curriculum consultant for elementary and middle school students in Chicago, sharing her love of writing and music with young people of all ages.
twitter: @LindaShewWolf

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview and Book Giveaway with Our Own Renee Blare!!!

Spring’s in the air. While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season but the trouble follows him—straight to town.
Rachel Fitzgerald’s on Spring Break. Or at least she’s trying. Between paperwork, and harassing phone calls, she may as well have stayed in her classroom. So much for relaxation. A ‘chance’ meeting with her brother’s old roommate offers her weary soul a shred of hope, but she discovers love, like life, isn’t easy. 
He talks with the wisdom of the Lord but rejects the future. She wants to soar with the eagles but walks alone. And trusting God proves to be more of a challenge than ever before…

Hello visitors, and welcome to The Diamond Mine!! My, oh my, it’s the middle of July! How about we all take a trip to Wyoming for a visit with author Renee Blare? First we’ll have a picnic under a big shady tree. After we’ve polished off some sandwiches, potato salad and brownies, we’ll head to the creek, sit on the bank and put our feet in while we enjoy a chat with Renee!
Now that we’re comfy, let’s get to know something about Renee and her wonderful writing!

So Renee, your second book, To Soar on Eagle’s Wings, just released last week. It’s the first book of a series that takes place here in “Wonderful Wyoming.” Tell us what you love about living here.

Hi ya, Nancy! Welcome to my beautiful home. I’m so glad you could make it. And yes, I do love this wonderful place. That’s why I moved back to the state after leaving it…twice! There’s no other place like it on earth. Where else do you know that the mountains reach for the sky as well as the water? For those who may not know what I’m talking about, I recommend taking a trip through Teton National Park and then continue on into Yellowstone.

Sounds like a plan anyone would enjoy! God sure knows how to create an amazing world. Now, I’m curious about how you got the idea for this series. Did it come about through an idea for the characters, plot or setting?

I actually lived in Texas when I started writing this series. I must’ve been more homesick than I realized because Rachel was next to a lake in Wyoming in the opening line without much of a thought. Anyway, the series is focused around a small town’s Baptist preacher and his children as they struggle to cope with the unexpected loss of his wife.

Hey, quit splashing so much, Renee, you rascal! You’ll get my notepad wet!  Now tell us, what do you like most about your main characters?

I think it’s how they are real. Yes, they’ve been raised in the church. After all, their dad’s a preacher, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. You may be surprised to learn that all of them aren’t Christians. Yes, they’re “small town.” Wyoming’s not known to have a lot of people. There are more cows in this state than people, but who knows, you may just have something in common with some of them. Then again, you may not like one or two much either…at first. ;)

Do any of them share characteristics with you? Tell the truth now!!

I’d have to say yes. I have to admit…Rachel’s behavior when she watches basketball is very close to mine. Although, I may be a bit worse. Especially with football. That’s all I’m saying! No spoilers here. I also love four-wheeling and fast cars. Phones…I’m not uttering another word.

Are any of your characters or plot lines based on real people or situations?

I sprinkle my real life experiences throughout my novels. I don’t necessarily write them verbatim, but as a twist to the story. It not only makes the story real to me, but gives authenticity to the scenario or plot. My books may be fictional, but the spiritual messages and challenges within them are not. Like with Rachel and her job insecurities in To Soar? I have literally walked in her shoes.

I’ve never tried writing suspense, since I’m not good at strategy. But you like that genre. Is it hard to write suspense?

I love writing suspense. I don’t necessarily think it’s hard but it can be challenging to figure out how to end the chapter. Sometimes I want to keep writing and writing. LOL

I particularly admire your action scenes. Does it take time to visualize each character’s motions and get it all coordinated in your head, or does it flow easily onto the page?

Now that’s a good question, Nancy. I actually see my story in my head as if it’s a movie. When I dream my plot at night, I will wake up and take notes. I look at them and start writing and the reel begins to play all over again. J

That’s so interesting! Say, let’s dry our feet and go finish up those brownies! Before we go, tell us a bit about the rest of the series.

Cool beans! The Snowy Range Chronicles has seven books with To Soar on Eagle’s Wings launching the series this month. Through the Raging Waters is the second book, and I’m in the editing stages right now with the manuscript. It’s the story of Paul Fitzgerald, the second oldest son of Pastor James, and Melissa Hampton. I call it my roller coaster novel. It’s quite a ride. The third novel of the series is called Awaken the Embers. I’m close to the end of my research phase for Embers and will begin writing on it real soon. As for this novel, it’s going to be the sharp and moving story of two searching souls…Ajax and Jacob.

Sounds pretty awesome! Do you have an underlying message in your stories that you want readers to take from your work?

God is with us even when we can’t see, feel, or hear Him. Have faith.

Amen! What would you say is your personal motto in life?

Never give up. Nothing’s impossible with God.

Well said! This was fun, Renee! Thanks for sharing, and now we’ll all share the rest of those brownies!

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Renee’s book! Here’s an excerpt:

She moved to start her engine but hesitated at the rumble near the edge of the meadow. She turned her head to check out the newcomer maneuvering the trail’s turns. The dark green machine slid to a stop behind her, the gold Game and Fish symbol flashing in the late afternoon sun.
Uneasiness stirred within her. Since this trail wasn’t used often except on weekends, she was usually alone. A game warden this far in the high country was a surprise. Game and Fish tended to keep to the more beaten paths. After all, not many people fished this early, and the hunting seasons weren’t until much later.
He removed his helmet, a lock of tousled brown hair landing on his wide forehead. With his elbow propped on the handlebars, a gloved hand brushed across his jaw. Familiar brown eyes studied her over the small windshield.
“Oh.” Her heart skipped a couple of beats, and she stumbled over her tongue. He turned around before she could form a coherent thought. Taking a deep breath, she tried again. “Steve?”
A smashed brown baseball cap materialized in his hand. After a brief squeeze of the bill, he pulled it low on his forehead. “Hey there, angel.”

Bet you're in the mood to read more! Here's a short bio and links for Renee:

Raised in Louisiana and Wyoming, Renee started writing poetry in junior high school and that, as they say, was that. After having her son, a desire to attend pharmacy school sent her small family to the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and she's been counting pills ever since. While writing's her first love, well, after the Lord and husband, she also likes to fish and hunt as well as pick away on her classical guitar.
Nestled against the Black Hills with her husband, crazy old dog and ornery cat, she serves the community of northeastern Wyoming as a pharmacist and pens her Christian stories, keeping them interesting with action and intrigue, of course. She loves to interact with readers and invites you to check out her website, blog, and social media.
Group Blog:

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Stephanie Prichard: The Fussy Writer (with Giveaway)

Stephanie Prichard – The Fussy Writer

Please welcome Stephanie to the Mine—can I hear some applause? She’s talking about writing Stranded with her husband and her life as an author. Now don’t wander off…stick around for the great interview. Oh, and leave a comment…you may just win a copy of her book.
Now, let’s get started!

RB: Hi, Stephanie, welcome to the Mine. I hear you wrote a book. ;) Can you tell us about it?

SP: I co-authored Stranded: A Novel with my husband, Don, an experience with an interesting beginning. Because Don is dyslexic, he is not a reader and dislikes writing, but driving to and from work one week he thought about what might be one of the worst things a man could face that would severely test his faith in God. He developed the idea into a story and began to write it down in his spare time. Five months later, he suffered a stroke and lost all ability to read. However, he was so excited about his budding novel that he continued to work on it and eventually learned how to read again. Over the next several years he rewrote it four times, then invited me to join him.

RB: What an awesome story. He sounds like an amazing man. It sounds as if he had a burning desire to see his book come to life…as I say it. How did you become involved and did co-authoring affect the book that much?