Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Welcome to the Remodeled Diamond Mine!

Welcome to the Newly Remodeled
 Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction

The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction crew has new members...and a new schedule! I'd like to introduce you to the entire crew, but first, we must say farewell to Misty Wilson. Her sense of humor and fun interviews will be missed. Rebekah Millet leaves as well...but not until July. They may move on to different caverns, but these wonderful ladies will always be Rough Diamond Writers.

Please welcome Joi Copeland, Gail Kittleson, Tracey Lyons, and Peg Phifer. Each of these writers offer their own unique writing talents to the Mine. They join us...old...(shh, stop laughing!) Miners, Renee Blare, Nancy Bolton, Rebekah Millet, Peggy Trotter, and Suzie Waltner.

The Blog Schedule:

I'm sure everyone is wondering about the blog schedule. That's the best part!
Beginning in February, we'll be increasing the blog schedule to bi-weekly posting (Wednesdays and Saturdays). This will continue until the end of July. Take advantage of these extra posts while they last! After July, we will return to normal weekly posting.


Did you notice the new genre we've included on the Diamond Mine? Amish! We interview the gamut of Christian Fiction authors. From Amish to Science Fiction and Dystopian, we welcome all writers to our blog as long as they strive to spread the Word of God. Don't hesitate to check out our calendar and see we have a spot for you! If so, shoot us an email.

Thank you for your support and enthusiasm through the years. Hold on to your hats, folks, 2016 looks to be an exciting one!

In Christ,

The Rough Diamond Writers

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Debut Author June Bliss is no Stranger to the World of Media

Today, we welcome June Bliss to The Diamond Mine. With experiences ranging from interning and working for Nickelodeon to becoming a freelance copy writer and production manager and more, it's little wonder she's ventured into the role of author as well. Her first novel, Starfish Street, was published last summer.

Suzie: With your hands in so many different things—multi-media projects, writing screenplays, freelance copywriting, and developing television show ideas—what is your strategy for staying on top of your different projects?

June: Wow! When I read that all in one sentence it does seem like my work could be overwhelming, but it's really not. Basically I have two types of work -- contract jobs that pay me and writing something that hopefully I can sell one day. The jobs that are attached to a paycheck have to take priority over succumbing to my wandering imagination. Oh, reality!

Suzie: Your internship and subsequent job were with Nickelodeon. What are you most proud of from that experience?

June: Yes, I have always been extremely thankful for settling on my internship at Nickelodeon because it led to my first full-time job after college. I became the production manager on SpongeBob SquarePants by the time I was 25 and that made me feel pretty accomplished.

Suzie: As someone whose internship turned into a job, did you ever find yourself floundering after college like your main character, Maggie?

June: I've always known what I've wanted to do, but there have been plenty of times when I have had to figure out ways to secure temporary employment in order to keep the long term plan in place. There was only one month after college (that seemed like an eternity at the time) when I was searching for a job before I received the offer from Nickelodeon. Thankfully I was able to work at Nickelodeon for some stability after college. Since I've been freelancing I certainly haven't always had stability or a constant flow of jobs, which can make me feel like I'm floating around in the ocean like a flounder. Despite my temporary feelings I can always see the light at the end of the tunnel. I suppose all creative types need this ability in order to persevere.

Suzie: Which of your own personality traits made it to your characters?

June: Hmm... let's see. I do make a concerted effort not to make any one character seem like me, but surely I do share some traits with many characters. I have the tendency to daydream like Maggie, make a joke like Lorraine and tend to strangers or newcomers like Mable.

Suzie: Who are your favorite authors? Which authors have influenced your own writing?

June: I like C.S. Lewis and Jack London. I can't say that they have influenced the writing of Starfish Street because the story is not anything like their books. However, I'm sure that they have influenced my writing as a whole.

Suzie: Do you have a favorite place where you write?

June: I usually write on my laptop which regularly sits on my desk in my home office. I also tend to bring it into the sitting area in my bedroom which we (my husband and I) call my "second office."

Suzie: You lived in Oregon for three years, and obviously, the beach has a special place in your heart since Starfish Street is set in Cannon Beach. What other areas of Oregon spoke to you?

June:  Oregon has many beautiful areas. I am partial to the coast, but the forests are just as striking. I particularly remember all of the green driving up and down the 5 freeway since we don't have so much of it here in New Mexico. There are many cities to visit along the way to Portland such as Ashland, Eugene and Salem.

Suzie: Do you have another novel in the works? And if so, will any of the Starfish Street characters make a cameo?
June: Maggie's story has only just begun. I would like for Starfish Street to be the first in a series. So, not only will there be cameos but you will be able to follow many of the characters to the next book in line.

Thank you for your time today, June. It's been a pleasure having your join us here on the Diamond Mine.

Readers, we've just touch the surface of June's career. Here's a little more information from her.

June Bliss had a song in her heart and a love for performance from the very beginning. Since every song and every show needs a good story, writing became an obvious career choice for her. While Bliss studied in college she worked on student films, assisted in a small production office and interned for Nickelodeon. With a degree in hand that internship led to a full time career as a production assistant on Hey Arnold! at Nickelodeon. She quickly worked her way up to production management on the enormously successful SpongeBob SquarePants. All the while the visionary Bliss had an independent spirit that was calling loudly. She decided to venture out on her own as a freelance writer and production manager. Bliss has used her creativity and organizational skills to work on a variety of multi-media projects and writing assignments for companies such as Hit Entertainment, Pepsi and RadioShack. Meanwhile she writes screenplays, develops TV show ideas and most recently has published Starfish Street. Bliss is a graduate of Biola University and completed a program at The Los Angeles Film Studies Center. She hopes to continue telling stories in various mediums. Bliss resides in New Mexico with her husband Ben and her faithful writing companion Sasha the chow chow.

About June's Book

Most new college graduates are trying to figure out what they are going to do with their lives. That is just the case with Magnolia who goes by Maggie. She is a cynical, art graduate who has become bogged down with her life circumstances. She finds herself at home with her fragile, single mother when she receives a call from her great-aunt Lorraine. 

 Lorraine offers Maggie a summer job watching over her cottages in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Maggie accepts and her experience at the beach changes her life entirely. Maggie’s particular affections for the magnificence of creation and the kind people at the beach lead her to a new life guided by faith. 

Available on: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo Books, Scribd, and Oyster Book.

Follow June Bliss on Social Media

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Meet Hoosier Author, Dawn Crandall!

I'm so excited I can barely type! I have a Hoosier girl for you, precious readers. Squee! None other than Dawn Crandall! Hurry, look up those gorgeous covers. Gasp. Are they not awesome?! I'm sure you're nodding, right now. What? You have no time? Oh, people, please don't miss it. Fine I'll give you a peek.

All right. Everybody now! Awwwwww. Ooooooh. Okay, enough drooling. But the great news is she's giving away a free copy of The Hesitant Heiress! LEAVE A COMMENT AND EMAIL SO WE CAN CONTACT YOU! Now, let's get on with this Inspirational Historical author's interview. With no more 

ado . . .Dawn Crandall.

PT:  Welcome Dawn! We're privileged to have you on the Diamond Mine! I've been blessed to meet you in person, and now I get to help others know you as well. And you've just been on a whirlwind to several major publisher contracts. Tell the readers your background and long it really took to make it to the "Bigs."

DC:  I'd always wanted to write a book someday, mostly just for the challenge of doing so. However, I never started anything until I was married, in my thirties and not having any luck getting pregnant. I needed something else to think about, and my husband just happened to find out about this long-buried dream of mine. So, I began writing The Hesitant Heiress in January of 2010--six years ago. 

When it was nearly finished, I went to the national ACFW conference in 2011, pitched to two agents, had two partial requests... and about a week after those were sent out, two offers of representation. I finished the book a few months after I signed with Joyce Hart. I'd already begun the second book in the series, because at one point I wanted to prove to myself that I could write two different heroines from first person POV {which is the POV I'd written THH in} and not have them sound at all similar. 

So my agent started pitching my series, and in the meantime all three of my manuscripts either semi-finaled or finaled in the ACFW Genesis Contest. About two years from the date I signed with Joyce, I received word of my first book contract with Whitaker House (November 2013). Since I had all three books written, they decided to release them a few months apart as ebooks, with the high possibility of releasing them as paperbacks in the future.

Three months after the third book released in ebook form we were notified that The Hesitant Heiress finaled in the debut category of the ACFW Carol Awards--which ultimately pushed up my publishers plans to publish the paperbacks all the sooner. The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter all three released as paperbacks in the fall of 2015. 

In November 2015 I also signed another book contract for a fourth book: The Cautious Maiden. It's related to the first three books--each book is basically a standalone book written from a different heroine's first person POV, but because you learn things about each character along the way, they're pretty fun to read all together. Readers will have seen the newer main characters in past books, but have never been inside their heads before.

PT:  Your debut novel, The Hesitant Heiress, won so many awards. The Bound Heart, and The Captive Imposter, also, brought you several accolades as well. Would you recommend a budding author to use contests to improve and possibly publish a novel?

DC:  I'd really only entered the ACFW Genesis contest before becoming published, and I'd already signed with my agent by then as well... soooo, I don't really know how much the benefit the process from experience. I've had friends (Sarah Ladd and Kristy Cambron) get their first contracts because of an editor seeing a manuscript through a contest submission or contest win, so I know it's possible.

PT:  A lot of folks are talking about reading more mainstream fiction rather than Christian fiction. As a Christian Author, give us your take on that.

DC:  I like that Christian fiction has become more "real" in the last ten or so years. I know a lot of readers gave up on reading Christian fiction a long time ago, but I've urged a number of people I know to try the newer (new in the last decade, at least!) authors out there, and they are stunned by the difference in the writing, character depth and interesting plots from what there was available fifteen or twenty years ago.

PT:  You write in first person, which is very unusual in Christian Fiction. What led to your choice in this, and how has it impacted your career?

DC:  I always knew whenever I got around to writing a book that it would be written from first person POV. My favorite books were always classics like Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier--both written in this tense. 

Jane Austen is also favorite of mine, and although she didn't use first person, it feels similar because she never lets the reader into the head of her heroes, but simply finds a way to convey to them what he is thinking and feeling. And this is how I LOVE to write. My mind just works best coming up with the kind of plots that simply wouldn't work out as a book written from third person POV and multiple characters.

I really enjoy getting my heroine to fall for the hero--who is usually the last person she'd ever envision herself being with. But I also love the fact that my readers feel all of my heroine's emotions just as deeply as she goes through the highs and lows of falling in love and getting to her happy ending.

PT: Give us five things fast, about Dawn Crandall that have nothing to do with writing.

DC:  Okay!

1.          I have 3 cats.
2.          I have a little boy who was born right before my first three books released as ebooks!
3.          I am expecting baby #2 this summer right before The Cautious Maiden releases!
4.          I have Attention Deficit Disorder, but it's actually a blessing when it comes to this crazy author job I have!
5.          I graduated with a degree in Christian Education from Taylor University.

PT: So you’ve got a little boy and a new one on the way. Congrats! Such exciting news. But how do you handle being a mother and all the demands of writing/editing?

DC:  I didn't write much the year after having my first baby, but I did have to finish The Captive Imposter last winter when he was between 10-11 months old—and I did so in a blur just because it had to be done!

I focused a lot of my time and energy on launching the first three books without much of a break between them. I wrote chapter one of The Cautious Maiden in May and then spent all summer writing a very extensive outline to give to my publisher. My agent gave it to them in August--and then I became pregnant again!

I didn't write those first two months because I was so sick and tired, but fortunately by the time I got the contract in November, I felt better and could dive right into writing the story out. :)

PT:  You and your husband are pre-marital mentors at your church. Does this experience present fodder for story lines, scenes, or character quirks in your books?

DC:  Not really! I think most of it simply comes from my over active imagination and all the daydreaming that comes with having ADD!

PT:  Do you use a certain Bible verse or precept to base your stories on?

DC:  I use different verses in each story--something that the heroine and hero will either grapple with or learn to live by along the way.

PT: Tell us what the future holds for you and any peeks into your next novel.

DC:  Since I'm going to be one tired momma of two babes under two come summer, I'm not sure what the plans will be! Right now, The Cautious Maiden is it, but once I emerge from the other side of this "year of the second baby", I do plan to continue writing more books into the same line of characters I've been doing. And with how popular they are, I'm sure my publisher will be happy to see the novel outlines eventually come their way.

I don't have the official back copy blurb or the cover for The Cautious Maiden because I'm still writing it, and we won't get to that part of the marketing process until the spring. But I can give you what's on the book's GoodReads page as a teaser!

PT:  Sounds fabulous!


Violet Hawthorne is beyond mortified when her brother transforms her deceased parents’ respectable country inn into a brothel to accommodate the lumberjacks in the area. When her reputation is compromised, she finds herself forced to enter into an engagement with Vance Everstone. Can she trust this man she hardly knows who has a scandalous reputation in his own right?

Wow, thanks Dawn. You can just feel her energy, and I think she's going to need it! (wink) If you want to follow Dawn, catch her at these links:

Twitter: @dawnwritesfirst
Facebook: https://facebook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst

Don't forget to leave your name, or a comment along with your email address so we can contact the blessed winner of The Hesitant Heiress!

Dawn Crandall is an ACFW Carol Award-nominated author of the award winning series The Everstone Chronicles from Whitaker House. The series consists of three books: The Hesitant Heiress, The Bound Heart and The Captive Imposter. 
Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary. Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a pre-marriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Author Laurie Alice Eakes is doing a GIVEAWAY!

We're ringing in the new year with a GIVEAWAY from Laurie Alice Eakes! The Mountain Midwife marks Laurie Alice's 21st book and the first chapter had me hook, line & sinker.

For nearly two hundred years, women in Ashley Tolliver's family have practiced the art of midwifery in their mountain community. Now she would like to take her skills a step further, but attending medical school means abandoning those women to whom she has dedicated her life, the mountains she loves, and the awakening of her heart.

Ashley Tolliver has tended to the women of her small Appalachian community for years. As their midwife, she thinks she has seen it all. Until a young woman gives birth to a baby at Ashley's home and is abducted just as she tries to take the dangerously bleeding woman to the nearest hospital. Now Ashley is on a mission to find the woman and her newborn baby . . . before it's too late.

Hunter McDermott is on a quest - to track down his birth mother. After receiving more media attention than he could ever want for being in the right place at the right time, he receives a mysterious phone all from a woman claiming to be his mother. Hunter seeks out the aid of the local midwife in the mountain town where the phone call originated - surely she can shed some light on his own family background.

Ashley isn't prepared for the way Hunter's entrance into her world affects her heart and her future. He reignites dreams of her own family she has long put aside in favor earning her medical degree and being able to do even more for her community. But is it commitment to her calling or fear of the unknown that keeps her feet firmly planted in the Appalachian soil? Or is it something more - fear of her growing feelings for Hunter - that make her hesitant to explore the world beyond the mountains? 

Rebekah: What's your favorite thing about contemporary and historical romance?
Laurie Alice:  I get to explore a range and depth of human emotion other genres tend to only cover in a cursory fashion.

Rebekah:  Describe The Mountain Midwife in 3 separate words.
Laurie Alice:  Emotional, Romantic, Suspenseful

Rebekah:  How long did it take you to write this book from first draft to final edit? How do you balance writing with other responsibilities (job, family, etc.)?
Laurie Alice:  I am blessed in that writing is my job, so that part is easy. I take about three months to write a book and another month for research. Balance can be difficult when I am on a roll and want to keep working, but need to make supper or clean the cat box or, worst of all, go grocery shopping.

Rebekah:  When did you realize you first wanted to be a writer?
Laurie Alice:  I was probably about ten when I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living, about the time I realized that people did write for a living.

Rebekah:  Do you stick to your TBR pile or are you an impulsive book buyer? What are you currently reading?
Laurie Alice:  I am currently reading Malice at the Palace, which is a historical mystery set in 1930s England. I pretty much stick to my TBR pile, but sometimes a new book comes along that I want to read so much I am sidetracked.

Rebekah:  At some point an author has to torture their characters. Tell us the truth. Do you enjoy or hate it?
Laurie Alice:  Oh, I love it. But then, I know that they will get out of it and how.

Rebekah:  Who’s your number one fictional character crush OR favorite fictional couple?
Laurie Alice:  Dare I admit this? Shanna and Rouarke from Shanna by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. I read that book more years ago than I want to admit and reread it every five years and am still in love with this pair. Of course, Clair and Jamie from the Outlander series hold a close second.

Rebekah:  What’s one thing readers would be surprised to know about you?
Laurie Alice:  This is always a difficult question to anser because I have answered it enough not many surprises left I want anyone to know, and I will confess here that I think the type of music I like would surprise most people.

About Laurie Alice Eakes: 
"Eakes has a charming way of making her novels come to life without being over the top,” writes Romantic Times of bestselling, award-winning author Laurie Alice Eakes. Since she lay in bed as a child telling herself stories, she has fulfilled her dream of becoming a published author, with two dozen books in print.

She lives in Texas with her husband and sundry pets. She loves watching old movies with her husband in the winter, and going for long walks along Galveston beaches in the summer. When she isn’t writing, she considers that housework is a time to work out plot points, and visiting museums is a recreational activity.
Connect with Laurie Alice . . .
If the winner lives within the contiguous 48 states, they may choose either a paperback or eBook version of The Mountain Midwife. If the winner resides in Hawaii or Alaska or outside the USA, they may only win an eBook version.