Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Carlene Havel's on the Mine and Giving Away $$$

I’m so excited right now, I can barely speak…or should I say type? I have a treat for y’all. We have Carlene Havel right here on the Diamond Mine! She’s even giving away $$$! Well, a $10.00 Amazon gift card…same thing, right? Are you ready? I am…let’s get this show on the Road.

Renee: Hey, Carlene, welcome to the Diamond Mine. Everybody’s on the edge of their seat so I guess, we should get right on with the interview.

Carlene: Fine with me…let’s go.

Renee: Is writing easy or hard for you? How about editing?

Carlene: Some of each. I am easily sidetracked until I get started writing, but once the fingers are on the keyboard the words flow. The first half of a book rips along at top speed. Then, somewhere between 50 and 60% into the story, I slow down because I start to despise it. The plot seems trite, the characters unbelievable, the whole thing a stupid, hateful mess no one in their right mind would ever read. I give it a few days of rest, plow through a few more chapters, and start to think the book may be all right after all. Toward the end, I get excited again, recovering from those gut-wrenching insecurities. Strange as it may seem, this pattern has repeated with each book I’ve written. Editing comes naturally. If there’s a typo on a page, my eyes fly to that spot instantly—provided I’m reading something I didn’t write myself. Someone else has to edit my work. I simply cannot spot my own errors. This probably says something I’d rather not admit about myself!

Renee: LOL My husband has a shirt that says, “I may have my faults but being wrong isn’t one of them.” Maybe I should send you one. But then again, you do let others edit your work! Do you have a particular “way” you write or do you just “wing” it?

Carlene: First, I write out a brief outline on paper, nursing the delusion my story will unfold accordingly. Then I do some preliminary work, which includes a short sketch of the main characters, a time line of major events, and the physical layout of any important building or home. After a few chapters I have a better idea, abandon the outline and fly by the seat of my pants from there on. Makes me wonder why I bother with the outline in the first place.

Renee: For the good scratch paper later on? If anything, I could see how it you’re your brain going. Kind of like my character sketches do for me. But what do like the most about your job and why? Dislike?

Carlene: Funny, I never think of writing as a job. For me, it is a pleasure. I’ve always loved word games, puns, crossword puzzles, and words themselves. There is something immensely satisfying about conveying emotions, describing people, and building books from words. I enjoy creating a story that makes a reader laugh, or cry, or both. The most frustrating result of this love affair is to sense the need for the “perfect” word, feel certain it exists, and be unable to think of it. I’ll give it a day or so before calling on one of the fellow word lovers among my friends for help.

Renee: Writing is a joy for me as well. But if I don’t treat it as a job, I’d do it ALL the time. I’ve had to learn time management. Back to writing, what’s special or unique about your book?

Carlene: My latest release is dedicated to my father, who passed away this summer after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. Henry Youngblood, the hero of “Baxter Road Miracle,” is a man of great faith, who expects and receives miraculous help from God to plant a church. My dad, of course, was the model for Rev. Youngblood.

Renee: I’m so sorry, Carlene. Both for your loss and his struggle. It's awesome that you modeled and dedicated Baxter Road to him though. Life can be difficult. What would you do if you couldn’t write anymore?

Carlene: After giving up the piano because of an uncooperative finger, I learned the importance of adjusting to a new normal in such situations. If I could no longer write, I’d mourn for a while then fire up my kindle and read a bushel of books. Then I’d crochet, sew, maybe study a new language.

Renee: But not give up. That’s why I admire writers. They are a special breed and know how to persevere. Let me see, what should I ask for this last question? I know…if you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Carlene: Interesting question!  I would choose Paris, for its romance, elegant architecture, fascinating people and fabulous food.  Now that’s for a week’s visit.  I can’t imagine making my permanent home anywhere other than Texas.

Renee: Of course you wouldn’t! You’re a true Texan gal. Thanks for stopping by the Diamond Mine, Carlene. It’s been a pleasure.

$10 Amazon Gift Card GIVEAWAY

Amazon $10 Gift Card

Carlene’s giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Card to one person this week. How do you enter? It’s rather simple. We all have a favorite...something…color, dessert? Take a guess as to one of Carlene Havel’s favorites and you’re entered in the drawing!
Leave your email addy!
 We can't contact you 
without it.

About the Author, Carlene Havel:

Carlene Havel writes Christian-themed romances and historical novels. She has lived in Turkey, Republic of the Philippines, and numerous US states. After a career in human resources and software development, she began writing in 2005. The Havels live in Texas, surrounded by their extended family.

About the Book, "Baxter Road Miracle":

Henry Youngblood is determined to plant a new church in Buffalo Creek, despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Meanwhile, his pregnant wife worries about paying the bills. One daughter dreams of a college education she cannot afford, and the other wants nothing more than popularity. It will take a miracle for the Youngblood family’s dreams to come true.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Davalynn Spencer loves her cowboys!

Hey y'all! It's Rebekah here. Today we get to meet Davalynn Spencer.

Davalynn writes inspirational Western romance complete with rugged cowboys, their challenges, and their loves. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and worked several years as a rodeo journalist and crime-beat reporter, winning awards in both arenas. Her fiction has finaled for the 2015 Will Rogers Medallion and the 2014 Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, Selah, and Holt Medallion. Davalynn teaches writing at Pueblo Community College and makes her home on Colorado’s Front Range with her handsome cowboy and a Queensland heeler named Blue.

Rebekah: What's your favorite thing about your genre?
Davalynn:  Cowboys!

Rebekah: Describe The Columbine Bride in 3 separate words.
Davalynn:  Need - Hope - Love

Rebekah:  If your book was made into a movie, what actors would you cast as your main hero and heroine?
DavalynnTom Selleck and Sasha Alexandra

Rebekah:  How long did it take you to write this book? How do you balance writing with other responsibilities (job, family, etc.)?
Davalynn:  It took me a couple of months to write this novella—but that includes several drafts, edits, and the final version. In a perfect world, I would write fiction all day. But I’m a college English professor and newspaper columnist, so I usually work on my novels in the afternoons.   

Rebekah:  When did you realize you first wanted to be a writer?
Davalynn:  Sixth grade.

Rebekah:  Do you stick to your TBR pile or are you an impulsive book buyer? What are you currently reading?
Davalynn:  I am more of an impulsive reader and I read across genres. I’m currently reading The Journey of Josephine Cain by Nancy Moser. I just finished House of Mercy by Erin Healy.

Rebekah:  At some point an author has to torture their characters. Tell us the truth. Do you enjoy or hate it?
Davalynn:  I force myself to make things difficult for my characters. Sometimes I write two versions of one scene – the one I want that makes everything turn out just right, and the one that ramps up the conflict. Of course the second version is always better and builds tension toward a satisfying ending.

Rebekah:  Who’s your number one fictional character crush OR favorite fictional couple?
Davalynn:  I’m a big fan of Charley Waite (Kevin Costner) and Sue Barlow (Annette Bening) in Open Range.

Rebekah:  What’s one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?
Davalynn:  My husband was a rodeo bullfighter and clown for many years. Once when he was injured and the doctor said he couldn’t return to the arena for a week, I dressed up in his clown clothes and continued with the comedy acts. We had a contract, and “the show must go on,” right? But I didn’t fight bulls. Mama didn’t raise no fool!

Davalynn's newest release: The Columbine Bride ~ a novella in Barbour’s collection, The 12 Brides of Summer

Lucy Powell is on a path not of her choosing: widowhood. But she’s determined she doesn’t need anyone’s help to get her neglected ranch back in order and running right—especially the neighboring rancher who keeps showing up at the end of her shotgun. Buck Reiter can’t leave Lucy and her two young’uns alone. It’s just not in him to sit by and watch while someone struggles. But he ends up as the struggler, searching for a way to let Lucy know there’s a whole lot more going on in his heart than just being neighborly.

Connect with Davalynn here:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cruising with Author, Johnnie Alexander

Samantha is the winner of Johnnie's book! But we don't have your email!!! Please leave a message if you are Samantha from the comments below! Thanks!

Ah-oo-gah. Ah-oo-gah! Welcome back, faithful readers! So glad you could pull over and chat awhile. I've got Johnnie Alexander visiting today. She just zoomed into the driveway and she's revved up to go. And guess what? She's giving away a copy of her book, Where Treasure Hides~print or ebook! Your choice! What could be better? So put your Deuce Coupe in neutral, and let's meet her!  

PT:  Hi, Johnnie! So glad you could sit a spell and visit with us while your engine cools. Tell us a little about your background and what genre you write in.

JA:  I’m a Buckeye native who has lived in Missouri, Nebraska, Florida, and now Tennessee (with a short stay in Birmingham, England many years ago). I dream of taking a road trip through all 48 continental states but I’m not sure I can do that in one fell swoop.

For fifteen years, I worked in the district office for two different Members of the Florida House of Representatives which was a great experience.

But I always dreamed of writing, and I’m thankful “to unite / My avocation and my vocation” as Robert Frost says in his poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time.” (I memorized that poem for a grad class, but had kind of forgotten it until I was answering this question. J)

My writing journey includes both historicals and contemporary romances. Even my contemporaries, though, are deeply rooted in heritage.

 PT: I love Robert Frost. I'll have to look that one up. I couldn't help but notice you won the ACFW Genesis back in 2011. Tell us how that spurred on your career.

JA:  My debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, won the Genesis historical category that year. Winning was such an honor and also a tremendous surprise. I was at my home in St. Cloud, Florida (Eastern time) while the ceremony took place in St. Louis (Central time). Forgetting all about the time difference and not really having a clue how long the awards ceremony lasted, I sent a text around 9:30 p.m. to close friends saying I hadn’t won and I was disappointed but it was okay. Not long after, I received a text from one of my critique partners followed closely by a text from my agent giving me the good news. I was ecstatic and immediately called everyone I had texted and a few more people, too.

Anyway, an acquisition editor with Tyndale was one of the final round judges so the contest brought the story to her attention. The novel released a little over a year later.

Similarly, I have a friend who was contacted by an agent during the judging process so entering contests may get your story in front of publishing professionals.

Even when that doesn’t happen, a contest can provide helpful feedback on your writing. About three years ago, my entry received the Bronze Medalist Award in the My Book Therapy Frazier Contest. After carefully considering the less-than-positive critiques about my heroine’s attitude, I wrote a new first chapter. That novel, a contemporary romance called Where She Belongs, releases in January from Revell. So I owe those judges hugs and chocolate!

 PT:  Wow!  What an opportunity! I love when everything just falls together. Let's get a little outside the lines. Tell us 5 things about Johnnie Alexander that have nothing to do with writing.

JA      : 1.     I have an alpaca herd which includes three babies born this past spring. I missed witnessing one of                    the births by only a few minutes.
2.     My papillon, Rugby, is a fluffy little guy with the courage to tree raccoons.
3.     I’m not a “good eater,” but I love jalapeños.
4.     Even though I work from home, my 2009 Pontiac Vibe has over 130,000 miles on it. We’ve been in over twenty states and the District of Columbia together.
5.     This past May, I flew to New York and fell in love with the city. I’d like to live there, for just a few weeks, and bask in its energy.

PT:  Who knew there was a little city in the farm girl! LOL  Does living on a farm influence any scenes in your writing?

JA:  Where Treasure Hides takes place in WWII Europe, primarily Rotterdam and London but it does have one farm setting. Actually that particular scene may be one of the most intense in the novel.

My next novel, Where She Belongs, centers on an old house I lived in as a teen in rural Ohio. Since there aren’t any alpacas in my stories, at least so far, I’d say that growing up on a farm had more influence on my writing than living on one now. The promo copy for the novel says my writing “evokes a strong sense of place and personal history.” I believe that comes from my childhood influences.

 PT: Gotcha. So what are your next plans for writing and are you in the middle of a novel right now?

JA:  Where She Belongs is the first book in my Misty Willow Series. Earlier this month, I turned in the second book in the series.

Now I’m heading to 1870s Nebraska, the setting for a novella tentatively called “The Healing Promise,” which will appear in Barbour’s Courageous Brides Collection (releasing next July). I’m also in the pondering phase for the third Misty Willow novel.

I’m very excited about both stories and eager to see how they turn out.

PT:  How exciting! I can't wait to see that collection. It sounds fab. Well, I'm sure you're ready to grind the gears and get moving. You've got lots to tinker on!

JA:  Thanks, Peggy, for having me as your guest. I can’t wait to chat with your readers and thank them, too, for stopping by.

NOW! Here's your chance! Johnnie would LOVE to have to leave a comment for her. AND! When you do, you will be entered to win for free~no fooling~ this award-winning novel by Johnnie Alexander! Boom-chicka-boom-boom!!! That's right! So easy! So don't waste any time! Comment away!

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). Her first contemporary romance, Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series; Revell), and her first novella, “The Healing Promise” (Courageous Bride Collection; Barbour), release in 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest). She volunteers as a category coordinator for the ACFW Genesis Contest, judges various contests, and serves as marketing director for the MidSouth Christian Writers Conference.

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area with a small herd of alpacas and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees raccoons.  

Catch up with Johnnie here:

Blog                http://www.johnnie-alexander.com
Facebook Profile (Friend or follow me!) https://www.facebook.com/johnnie.alexander.author
Facebook Author Page           https://www.facebook.com/JohnnieAlexanderDonley
Twitter                        https://twitter.com/johnnie_alexndr
Pinterest          http://www.pinterest.com/johnnie­_alex/
Instagram        http://instagram.com/jazzlin7/
RSS Feed        http://johnnie-alexander.com/feed/

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Waking the Sleeping Giant

Waking the Sleeping Giant

New York Skyline

September 11, 2001 or 9/11 ("Patriot Day," as we call it today) changed our lives as no other event could, except maybe Pearl Harbor. We realized (again) as a nation, we weren't "untouchable." We could be struck down in our own home.

Did we cower...or hide? No. Instead of licking our wounds, we rose from the ashes, patched our injured, buried our dead, and stood as one against the enemy...much like we had almost sixty years before. The sleeping giant came out of her slumber.

That's what makes America an amazing nation.

We're diverse in culture and history. A young nation by the world's standards, yes...but when confronted, we unite and rise to the challenge. Not to conquer, but to defend.

So, has this great nation slipped into a doze once again? Become tired and sleepy? More worried about our next trip to the grocery store than the safety of our children?

What will rouse the sleeping giant again? A frightening question.

Until then...be vigilant, pray, and remember...

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Interview & GIVEAWAY with Angela Breidenbach!

Hey y'all! It's Rebekah here. Angela Breidenbach has bravely agreed to be my first victim, uh, I mean first interview here on the Diamond Mine. I met Angela through our writing group Faith, Hope & Love. She's one of the many blessings I've found since joining FHL.
Angela is the captivating host of Grace Under Pressure Radio on iTunes, as well as a speaker and author. Angela is also the Christian Author Network's president. And yes, she's half of the comedy duo, Muse and Writer.
Angela's books include:
* The Lassoed by Marriage Collection (coming Jan. 2016)
* A Healing Heart (paperback, eBook, audio)
* Snowflake Tiara (paperback, eBook, audio coming Oct.) A book I fell in love with!


Audio book of A Healing Heart
Leave a comment at the end of the interview to enter!

Rebekah:  Hey Angie! I’m so glad you’re here! Can you tell me about the genre you write and why?
AngieOh boy ;) I write because I love to write…historical romance, contemporary romance, non-fiction self-help (called Christian Living in religious publishing). I also write articles, devotionals, and cat comedy with Muse and Writer.  

Rebekah:   What’s your favorite thing about your genres?
Angie:  In historical romance, I love living in history. But in self-help and the non-fiction, I love feeling like I'm helping someone through a struggle to become the very special person they want to be or cope with a tough situation. I think my fiction, non-fiction, and cat comedy does that too.

Rebekah:  What’s your newest releases?
Angie: Eleven Pipers Piping, Christmas Traditions Collection and my new Grace Under Pressure Radio show on iTunes ;) I'm working on a non-fiction book also to be titled, Grace Under Pressure. I'm hoping to release it late fall.

Rebekah:  Describe Eleven Pipers Piping in 3 separate words:
Angie:  historical, romance, newsies (boys who sold newspapers on the street in the late 1800s-early 1900s)

Rebekah:  If your book was made in to a movie, what actors would you cast as your main hero & heroine?
Angie: Okay, this is a trick question, right?! You know I'm working on just that now. I want to write screenplays out of all my books. But if Eleven Pipers Piping was made into a movie I'd love to see someone like Luke Benward as Evan and I could see someone like Emma Stone as Mirielle.

Rebekah:  How long did it take you to write this book?
Angie: A lot longer than I thought for how short it is! It took a year because it was the book I was writing when my dad passed away. Then I had another contract for Bridal Whispers (Barbour's The Lassoed by Marriage collection releasing Jan. 1, 2016) that had a more pressing deadline.

Rebekah: How do you balance writing with other responsibilities (job, family, etc.)?
Angie: Being an empty-nester, it's a lot easier now than when I had kids at home. I went full time writing/speaking in 2009 and haven't looked back. I've done a lot of public speaking and that takes so much time away from home. So to balance the fact that I love speaking, but I want to be home more, I've started the Grace Under Pressure Radio show on iTunes. I've been able to cut back my speaking schedule and now I'm speaking on the air instead of so many events. I think getting creative about what I love to do is helping me be more balanced, especially because I’m a workaholic. This helps me relax a little more.

Rebekah: When did you realize you first wanted to be a writer?
Angie: My dad taught me to read and write when I was four. I started writing and writing and writing. I guess I had a lot to say for a four-year old, lol.

Rebekah: Do you stick to your TBR pile or are you an impulsive book buyer?
Angie: I go by my mood, totally. I read fiction when I need a break and I read non-fiction when I want to learn.

Rebekah: What are you currently reading?
Angie: I usually have four or five books going at a time. They range from historical fiction to historical research to non-fiction education to self-help and I always have at least two devotionals I go between. Currently, the most consistent is going to just make you roll your eyes. But it's the Leadership Bible. I'm on a goal of growing in my leadership skills because of being the Christian Authors Network president. I want to do the best possible job I can. I feel very responsible for the people in my organization and their benefit for belonging.

Rebekah: At some point an author has to torture their characters. Tell us the truth. Do you enjoy or hate it?
Angie: I used to hate it. But now I really love it because I learned how it helps me and my readers to experience failure and success. I mean, without overcoming failure or fear, there really is no success. I like my characters to show that concept too. So I call my heroines the "Grace Under Pressure" kind of gals. I like showing women overcoming fears, obstacles, and people that try to hold them back.

Rebekah: Who’s your number one fictional character crush OR favorite fictional couple?
Angie: I love Leota from Francine Rivers Leota's Garden. I identify with her so much because she had to work while raising her kids. There's more, but it's personal J For the favorite male character, I think it's Rhett Butler ;) I love how his character arc brings him around to adoring his daughter and how much he loved Scarlett even though she couldn't realize she loved him too.

Rebekah: What’s one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?
Angie: As a writer, I think it would surprise readers to learn I have the Grace Under Pressure Radio show. But I hope readers will come listen on iTunes. I was surprised, by friends and readers, when I asked if I did a podcast, what would people want to learn from me. When the answer came back that people wanted to learn how to be gracious in stressful situations, I was really stunned. I didn't see myself that way. But it was overwhelming in response.

So I went on a quest to find out why that was such a unanimous topic. I spent over a year really listening, asking questions, and discovering what and why others saw that in me when I didn't even know. I asked for a few words to help describe what they meant. Those words turned out to be: confidence, courageous, genuine, candor (meaning genuine honesty), and a phrase that summed it up, "velvet gloves in hard situations". The Grace Under Pressure Radio show, and soon to be book, came from that journey. I learned to embrace the essence of who I am and I want to help others do the same. I'm still surprised by the outcome, but I am also very honored and grateful that others took the time to help me dig deep.

Also, I've done a ton of research on religions and the various forms of belief that are called atheism, agnosticism, etc. I think people would be extremely surprised to learn how much I know about not only world religions but also denominations within Christianity. I'm certainly not a degreed scholar, but I have spent a lot of time learning about beliefs and doctrine for my personal questions so I can discuss it widely and knowledgably.

Rebekah: Angie’s latest book release, Eleven Pipers Piping, a 1890 Montana historical is available now!

What would you do if you were given eleven rowdy street newsies and told either you turn them into model citizens or they get sold into indenture or sent to the military? Eleven Pipers Piping is the story of a sweet music teacher and eleven boys given one chance or else! Evan Russell lost everything—his ranch, his wife, and now after trusting relatives with his young son, even the little boy is missing. How can a beautiful symphony
of the heart come from such chaos?



.99 for 8 novellas: Christmas Traditions series (Eleven Pipers Piping is in it) http://amzn.to/1E6hzWj

Eight heartwarming novellas of Christmas's gone by where the true meaning of the season warms your heart and love flows as fast as apple cider. Grab your favorite drink, no matter the temperature outside, curl up in a cozy chair and lose yourself in holiday romance.


Angie's having a Facebook party! Click here for the invitation link! 


Places you can find Angie:

Website: http://www.AngelaBreidenbach.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AngBreidenbach

Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/AngBreidenbach

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AngelaBreidenbachInspirationalSpeakerAuthor

iTunes: Grace Under Pressure Radio