Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Gail Pallotta Chats About Barely Above Water on the Diamond Mine

This week, we have Christian author, Gail Pallotta on the Diamond Mine. 

She’s chatting with our very own Renee Blare about her latest book, Barely Above Water, her writing life, fun, and fiction. She’s also giving away a fabulous prize to one winner so read on! Oh…don’t forget to check out how to enter the giveaway at the end of the post! Drawing’s in one week!


RB: Hello, Gail…welcome to the Diamond Mine. I’m so glad you could be here today. I hear you have a new book, Barely Above Water. Congratulations! What can you tell us about it?
GP: Thank you, Renee, yes I do. Where should I start? The main character has an illness the medical doctors can’t diagnose, so she’s told they can’t help. It appears hopeless, but by divine intervention she’s led to an alternative doctor. The story is fictitious, but it’s based on my struggle with Chronic Lyme Disease. The divine intervention, symptoms and treatments are real. However, the rest is made up. I only wish I were in my twenties.

The real doctors behind the story are David G. Lee, D.C., Ph.D., C.Ad., and Raphael d’Angelo, M.D., who’s also a holistic doctor.

Dr. Lee

David Lee, D.C., Ph.D., C.Ad., runs Wellness Revolution Clubs in Woodstock, Georgia, and Daytona Beach, Florida. To learn more about him visit http://www.pmadirectory.us/georgia/woodstock/health-practitioner/david-lee

Dr. d'Angelo

Raphael d’Angelo, M.D., and holistic doctor, runs ParaWellness Research Program in Aurora, Colorado. To learn more about him visit https://www.alliance-aromatherapists.org/tag/dr-dangelo/

RB: Lyme Disease? Whoa…I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to suffer with that. It does not sound fun at all, although your book sounds captivating. Speaking of your book, how do you keep your characters “three dimensional?”
GP: The characters become who they are by what they think, say and do. Their reactions often tell as much as their actions. Descriptions, chatter and thoughts about them from other characters help to round them out.

RB: I understand what you’re saying. So, when you’re writing and they are developing, do you have a particular “way” you write or do you just “wing” it?
GP: I start with a rough outline, an overview of the plot and brief character sketches. Then I write a rough draft of the book. While I’m doing this, the plot and characters grow and change, so I keep re-writing. Sometimes I let one of my characters journal a few pages through me. These entries don’t go in the book, but give me an idea of what that character might do in a particular situation.

RB: Cool! The journaling thing sounds pretty neat. I’ve never tried that before. I may just do that someday. By the way, why did you start writing novels? Is that all you write?
GP: I’ve written stories as long as I can remember and have always wanted to write novels. However, I’ve spent most of my life working as an editor or copywriter and an article writer. During the years I published articles, I was humbled and honored when someone nominated me for Who’s Who in Writers, Editors and Poets. I appeared in the book in 1988, and again in the 1992-93 edition. To this day, I don’t know who suggested me. In years past, I’ve written poetry on the side, sometimes getting up at night to jot down a poem, or writing one at work during down time. I recently self-published some of my poems in a book, Messages. Now that my husband’s semi-retired and my daughter’s grown, I have time to write books.  

RB: What an honor…to be acknowledged. Even if you may never know by whom. Many writers never see their dream of publishing much less recognition in such a book. If you could name your biggest challenge as an author, what would it be?
GP: Marketing, hands down. First of all, I’m computer inept, and that makes it challenging to participate in some social media. Blogging seems to have been all the rage, died down and is now making a comeback. Facebook parties appear to be waning right now and online chats don’t seem to work. I’ve tried a little paid advertising, and it seems to help some, but it’s difficult to know the right place to spend my pennies. I would love to have advice from those who market successfully.

RB: I’m right there with you, sister. I still blog and plug the social media outlets…true, not as handily as I used to (or as often). And my money is limited also so it goes to very few sources of paid advertising…very few. I personally would love to know what a “successful” marketing scheme is too! Anyway, back to your book, tells us about your setting. Is it unique and how did you select it?
GP: I chose Destin on Florida’s Emerald Coast because I love it and can’t think of anywhere more romantic. Emerald water so clear you can see through it surrounds white sand on three sides. The Gulf on one shore and the bay on the other meet near the harbor shoreline. Known as the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village,” it’s a small tourist town with pristine beaches and fun activities.

RB: I’ve never been there but it sounds like a place I may want to take a vacation! LOL Who knows, I’ll read your book and may just schedule a trip. Heeheee… Do you have any hobbies or things you like to do when you aren’t working?
GP: I swim three times a week. I treasure my church and occasions I spend with family and friends. I also enjoy making flower arrangements when I have extra time.

RB: Is there a special quote or verse which comes to your mind in times of need or adversity?
GP: Romans 8: 28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  

Thanks for sharing with the Diamond Mine today, Gail. It’s been a lot of fun! It’s also been an honor getting to know a bit more about your new book, Barely Above Water. I know anyone who reads it, including me, is going to love it! I can’t wait to crack it open. J



Gail’s giving away an e-book of Barely Above Water
8 oz. of Dark Truffle Rooibos tea from Camellia Estate Tea (tea U.S. residents).

Answer this question in the comments below to enter (leave your email please!):

As a reader, where do you go online most often to learn about books?

(One winner will be selected by random draw on 5/4/16 from comments with emails. Minimum of 5 comments required to validate contest.)


About the Book:

An illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. Suzie relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, and turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida. She takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but can he overcome his fear of losing a loved one and regain Suzie’s trust?

Buy Barely Above Water on Amazon at Amazon.com/dp/B01DN2UTTS

About the Author:

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s been a best-selling author on All Romance eBooks. She’s published four books, poems, short stories, and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Meet Lisa T. Bergren

When I began really reading Christian Fiction, Lisa T. Bergren was one of the first authors I read and fell in love with the writing! What a gift it is to be able to interview her and share a bit about her with you, dear readers! May you come to enjoy her books as much as I do. Without further ado, Lisa:

Joi: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Lisa: I’m a wife, mother of three, writer, traveler, friend. More info: LisaTBergren.com

Joi: Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?
Lisa: I’ve always loved to write—I wrote for my high school and college newspapers and took English Lit in college. After college, I decided to try my hand at a novel…and miraculously, it was published. Ever since then, the doors have just opened for me, and I’m so grateful.
Joi: As am I! I love your books!
Joi: How did you select your genre?
Lisa: What genre? J So far I’ve written romance, historical women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, supernatural suspense, dystopian, time travel…I like to write whatever inspires me at the time. Something I definitely would NOT recommend to other authors—it’s hard to build an audience that way.

Joi: What is your writing day like?
Lisa: When I write (and I don’t write every day), I usually walk, shower, write for a couple of hours, eat lunch, then write for a couple more hours. The next day, I reread what I wrote, edit and then move on.

Joi: How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
Lisa: General outline only. I’m a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants—because I like to see where the story and characters take me.

 Joi: What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
Lisa: Daria in THE BEGOTTEN taught me that love is what everyone hungers for most.

 Joi: Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters
Lisa: Not really!

 Joi: What does your work space/office look like?
Lisa: It’s a mess! Piles of papers and books everywhere. I usually write on my bed or a chair by the fireplace.
Joi: That's funny! Sounds comfortable, though.
Joi: What is your go-to snack when writing?
Lisa: Soft red licorice.

Joi: If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Lisa: You ask the impossible. J
Joi: So true!
Joi: If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Lisa: Not a book, but back issues of WRITER’S DIGEST at your local library. Tons of relevant, timely information.

Joi: What else would you like to share with the readers?
Lisa: Sign up for my e-newsletter at LisaTawnBergren.com if you want to know when I have a new release! Next up for me is a return to time travel—River of Time California, THREE WISHES, due out April 8!

Thanks for joining us, Lisa!

Lisa has graciously offered a lucky winner a copy of Three Wishes! Leave a comment with your email address below to be entered to win!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Getting to Know Author Martha Rogers ♦ Giveaway

by Peggy Blann Phifer @pegphifer


Welcome to The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction, Martha. I’m excited to be the one hosting you here today. You and I go back a long way through our association with ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) almost from the beginning.
So, how about we let the Diamond Mine readers get acquainted with you, too.

About Martha:
Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston where they enjoy spending time with their grandchildren. A former English and Home Economics teacher, Martha loves to cook and experimenting with recipes and loves scrapbooking when she has time. She has written three series, Winds Across the Prairie and Seasons of the Heart and The Homeward Journey. Her new contemporary series, Love in the Bayou City of Houston and novellas, Christmas Blessing and Garden of Love are now available on Amazon.

What got you started writing, Martha?

I started “writing” and making up stories as soon as I was old enough to talk and to hold a pencil. My mother said I had the most vivid imagination for a two year old she’d ever seen. I made up stories with my dolls and paper dolls. Later I discarded them and became a great tomboy with climbing fences and trees and making up stories about my adventures. Later, writing became my escape from a dysfunctional, divorced family into a fantasy world of a perfect family and love.

What person/persons has/have most influenced you as a writer?

Three writers had a great influence on me. I read all of Louisa May Alcott’s books as well as many of Grace Livingston Hill and Janet Lambert. I rode a bus then transferred to the street car (trolley) to get to the library once a week by myself. (This was in the mid 1940’s and children were safer on the streets) In later years, DiAnn Mills, Janice Thompson, and Kathleen Y’Barbo became my critique partners and mentored me to become the writer I am today.
It’s almost a given that good writers must be readers, even long before we actually became writers.

Thinking back over all the books you’ve read (and if you’re like me there are thousands!) are there any that stand out to you as especially unforgettable? Tell us a bit about them and what made them memorable.

Two of the most unforgettable books I ever read were Little Women and the Janet Lambert series for young adults. I wanted to be like Jo in the worst way and pretended so often that I was a Jo holed up in my corner writing stories. Lambert’s books were followed three or four characters from high school, through West Point and college on to the war. I read these books right after WWII when I was twelve years old, and I’ve never forgotten them. The characters were so real to me and were like friends I could count on when I was lonely and wanted to read about them.

Are you an early bird, or night owl? What’s your typical writing day like?

I am a night owl and will often write 1500 to 2000 words after 10 PM. Of course the next day they will need heavy editing, but I like the quietness of late night. I usually don’t write during the day until I’ve had my quiet time, done a few chores, and made sure I had something ready to cook for dinner.

Fun question, suspending reality for a moment . . . If you were to join the circus, what would be your job, and why?

LOL! Oh, I would be a clown because I could hide behind all the make-up and masks and do all the silly, crazy, and dumb things I would love to do now but don’t have the nerve and make people laugh. I was and still am a very mischievous person.

What book are we featuring today, Martha?

· Title: Love Never Fails
· Publisher: Realms
· Release Date: Spring 2015
· Genre: Historical Romance
· Target Audience: Women 18 and up although I’ve had a number of teen readers who enjoy my books.

What’s the book about?

Because of what happened to her father and mother during the War Between the States, Molly Whiteman hates guns, violence and war. Stefan Elliot is an officer in the U.S. Cavalry. When the two meet, sparks fly in their attraction to each other. Stefan returns to his regiment leaving Molly torn between her love for him and her deep feelings about guns and killing. Tragedy changes Molly’s heart and brings them back together, but will Molly's love be enough to overcome the depression that has made Stefan a recluse from society?

How did you happen to write it?

It’s the third in a series I began with a book based on my great-grandparents love story right after the Armistice of the Civil war.

Where can readers purchase it?

Mardel’s and other book stores have it as well as on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and CBD websites.

Where can you be found on the Internet?
Any parting thoughts you’d like to share?

I love writing; it’s in my blood. For all those who aspire to write, I say pray, plan, persevere, and be patient. God’s plan and timing are always perfect.

->>> GIVEAWAY: Martha is giving away a copy of the book “Love Never Fails” for Lower US only. To enter, please leave a comment with your contact information (so we can notify you if you win!) Giveaway ends at Midnight, Thursday, April 29, Central Time. Winner will be drawn through random.org and notified via email on Saturday, April 30.. 

Martha, I can’t thank you enough for sharing this time with us, and answering my interview questions. God bless you and your writing, as I know He will since you’re writing for Him.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Christine Lindsay: An Author with a Message of Hope, Heart, and Healing

Hello, fellow readers of Christian fiction. You may recognize our visitor from a couple posts ago but due to time constraints, we're welcoming Christine Lindsay back to the Diamond Mine again today. Christine is a new to me author and graciously spent some time with me so I can share a little of her story with you.

Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.

Christine’s Irish wit and her use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and her newest release Sofi’s Bridge.
Aside from being a busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.

Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and  Goodreads.

Welcome, Christine. We're thrilled to have you with us today. I'm going to dive right in with the questions, and I'm going to start with the hardest one.

Suzie: You gave up a daughter for adoption before you met and married your husband. After some time, you and your first birth daughter developed a special relationship. What encouragement would you give for a woman struggling with the decision today?

Christine: Oh my what a tough question. In fact, I had to write an entire book just trying to answer that question. That book called Finding Sarah, Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story is coming out this August. Nothing is so scary to a young woman than being pregnant and unmarried.  

My heart goes to you. If you find yourself in that scary place my words are: Do not be afraid. Trust God to take care of you and your baby. He will not let you down, but tenderly carry you both the whole way through your journey. He did that for me. There are a lot of great organizations that will help you, but if you do not know where to go, go to a church and ask the pastor or priest, or someone.

There is help. And there is joy throughout your journey and later. I’ll be honest though, the journey will have bumps no matter whether you decide to relinquish your baby or raise your child yourself. But do not be afraid. If you want to talk, email me at Christine.Lindsay.Writer@gmail.com I’ll talk to you, and pray with you. I’ll cry and laugh with you. 

Suzie:    I love your heart for the hurting. Thank you for sharing your story with others. Your writing journey began when your husband handed you a journal and a pen and told you to write down what you were feeling. Do you still journal today?

Christine: Not as much, but I’m so glad I had reams of journals to look back on when I was writing my non-fiction book about my birthmother experience. Reading those journals from my pregnancy and relinquishment took me right back to those moments.

I find that journaling is a great way to get your emotions out, even to pray your prayers. However, I would add that if you have been seriously hurt in the past that you combine your journaling with good counseling from a professional, and most of all turn to God. Journaling is only one good habit toward emotional health.

Suzie: Sharing a story (not only in books but also sharing your personal stories as a speaker) is a passion for you. What advice would you give to someone shy about sharing their own story?

Christine: Go for it! One of my favorite topics when I speak is to encourage others to share their story in some format whether that be in a craft-type memories book, a series of quilts, or actually producing a complete memoir.

It is so important to relay your life story and your faith story to the generations to come. Remember what God told the Children of Israel after they crossed the River Jordan, think of your life story as the stones in this biblical excerpt below, from Joshua 4.

“Take up for yourselves twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet are standing firm, and carry them over with you and lay them down … Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’  then you shall say to them, ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.”

Suzie: What a wonderful reminder that each of us has something to share with others. Now, let's talk about your fictional books. Both of your daughters have posed for covers of your previous books. Any plans in the works for your sons to become cover models?

Christine: Nah. I asked them, but they’re not interested. As of this June, though, I will have a beautiful new daughter-in-law. My youngest son is marrying a gorgeous young woman who was born in Venezuela and is of Spanish descent. You can bet you’ll be reading some Latino elements in my future writing. In fact, I have a secondary character like that in the book I have just begun to write set in the US and Ireland.

Suzie:  Sofi’s Bridge seems to be a new setting for your novels. What drew you to the Cascade Mountains as the setting for your newest release?

Christine: A novel is always best when the author knows their subject and setting well; that way the story comes alive for the reader. I chose the Cascade Mountains in Washington State because I live in Canada just across the border from US Cascades where that western mountain range bridges our two countries.

I personally love the western, old country feel of the area because it’s home to me. Picture the valley I live in that is surrounded by mountains that due to changing weather show me a new face every day. I chose one of my very favorite places in all the world for a romantic scene; an alpine meadow set high in the Cascades.

Here is a slightly modified excerpt from Sofi’s Bridge to give you a feeling for the setting.

At the summit they reined the Clydesdales in and settled them under a shady tree. The wind, carrying a clean pine fragrance, blew unimpeded as though they’d reached the top of the world. Just ahead lay a pathway strewn on either side with blue and purple lupine, pink phlox, yellow arnica, and red Indian paintbrush.

Above the tree line, gray peaks scraped the sky, some still capped with snow. In the distance, pale blue and turquoise ice from glaciers filled crevices between serrated granite heights.
Neil stayed behind with Sofi, sweeping his gaze three hundred and sixty degrees where the glaciers, though miles away, seemed close enough to touch.

Quiet awe filled his face.

The warm wind that made the grasses sway, whipped at their clothing and hair. Sofi could only hope that up here for a while Neil could let go of whatever pain he was hiding from the world, and from her.

Suzie: What would you say the main theme of Sofi’s Bridge is?

Christine: We cannot save the ones we love. Only Christ can do that. Sometimes it is better to NOT step in and “fix” the circumstances for others, especially our adult kids, but let them learn through their suffering. This is a tough lesson for people like Sofi and Neil who both have the personality trait of caregivers, an honorable characteristic but one that can have negative ramifications. This unselfish trait is what causes both Sofi and Neil to give up their God-given vocation in a mistaken attempt to save their loved ones.

Suzie: What drew you to Historical fiction as opposed to contemporary?

Christine: I love to read a book that takes me away from my ordinary life, and I love unusual and often exotic settings. Historical fiction is not only a different setting different but the era takes us to a completely different world.

I grew up reading the blockbuster romantic epics by MM Kaye who wrote the famous Far Pavilions. When I started writing fiction I wanted to write the same sort of epic novel set in exotic India but from a Christian point of view. That’s how my multi-award-winning trilogy Twilight of the British Raj was born. You can read the first chapters of all my books on my website ChristineLindsay.org

After that I turned my sights on historical settings closer to home, and you have Sofi’s Bridge. I have just begun writing a new series that is set in Ireland and the US, because being born in Ireland I know the setting, the culture, and the history. I love to bring history to life so that we can see it, feel it, and taste it.

Suzie: What’s the most fascinating piece of information you came across while researching Sofi’s Bridge?

Christine: The historical tidbit in this book was not a new one to me. My great-grandfather and his 14-year-old son (my grandfather) were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. In fact, the Titanic was my grandfather’s very first ship in the Belfast shipyard. I always wanted to write a book on the trade that my paternal ancestry was so involved in.

I still had to do a fair bit of research on how the riveters worked. Below is a short excerpt from Sofi’s Bridge describing that trade.

Neil picked out his brother from among the men, and expelled a long sigh. On the bridge deck, or on one of those meager platforms hanging over the side, one slip, one fumble...from that height...and a man could die.

On the deck, Jimmy rapped his elongated tongs against the cone-shaped catcher can, waiting for the man known as the heater. The heater sent Jimmy a nod and thrust the peg of steel into the portable cast iron forge. When the peg of metal glowed to a molten white, he pitched it forward. Jimmy caught it in the catcher can and inserted the glowing rivet into a hole in the girder. With the same concentration Neil would use with a scalpel, Jimmy waited for the bucker to place his buckling tool against the head of the rivet, and for the riveter to hammer it home.

Suzie: It's been a pleasure visiting with you, Christine. Thank you for taking the time to share with us.

Christine: I consider it a privilege and a joy to write fiction and non-fiction that will entertain readers and hopefully encourage them in their life journey. Blessings on all, and thank you for having me as a guest.

Readers, here's some more information about Christine's latest novel, Sofi's Bridge.

Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Order today from Amazon or Pelican Book Group

Leave a comment below along with your email address for a chance to win a digital copy of Sofi's Bridge from Christine Lindsay. Giveaway ends Wednesday, 04/20/2016.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Interview and giveaway with Amish fiction author Jo Ann Brown!

I've known Jo Ann Brown since the beginning of my career. A mentor and close friend, I'm beyond excited to be hosting her on our blog! One of the most interesting facts about Jo is that she has over 5,000 research books shelved in her office library. Jo Ann will be giving away a copy of An Amish Match. So be sure to leave a comment and email address for chance to win.
Jo Ann Brown has been creating characters and stories for as long as she can remember. Her first stories were populated with her friends and sisters. She wrote her first novel in high school, and it happily resides in the very back of her file cabinet. Fast forward through college, serving in the US Army as a quartermaster officer, getting married, and increasing her blessings with three children...and Jo Ann sold her first book in 1987. Since it was published in 1988, she has sold over 100 titles and has become a best-selling and award-winning author. Romantic Times called her “a truly talented author.” She currently writes Amish romances for Love Inspired as Jo Ann Brown. She has always lived on the east coast, but now resides in Nevada with her husband and a very chubby cat.

Tracey: You have published over one hundred novels, can you tell us what keeps you motivated? What is your writing day like?
JoAnn: What keeps me motivated are the new characters that pop into my head. Their stories are so intriguing to me that I want to share them with my readers. My writing day starts very late in the day. I write in the afternoon until I stop to fix supper. After spending the evening with my husband, I go back to work around 10:30. I usually write until about 1-2 am. Later if I'm on deadline. I like writing at that late hour when the phone doesn't ring, and the world is quiet.

Tracey: How have your Christian beliefs carried over to your stories and how does this influence your character and plot development?
Jo Ann: My characters and I share a belief that God is there to walk with us through our good times and the darker ones. My characters often discover that they need to hand over their problems to God...sometimes sooner, but often later.

Tracey: Can you tell us a bit about the region of the country your Amish books are set in, and how the setting plays into your books?
Jo Ann:  My Amish Hearts series from Love Inspired is set in Paradise Springs, Pennsylvania, in the heart of Lancaster County. Approximately where the real village of Paradise is set. Because of that my characters wear Amish clothing and live their lives in the style of the eastern Lancaster Amish.  They are surrounded by shopping centers and tourists, and they make the choice to remain separate from the world in spite of those incursions.

Tracey: What is your favorite thing about writing books set in the Amish world?
Jo Ann: This one is easy! I grew up on a small farm, slightly bigger than the average Amish farm in Lancaster county. The farm life that my characters know isn't that different from my childhood. Yes, we had a phone in the house, but it was a party line with five other families on it. When I read about Amish families sharing a phone shanty, it reminds me of that party line. Like Amish youngsters, we learned to play with our neighbors, no matter their age. 

Tracey: Could you ever see yourself living the Amish lifestyle?
Jo Ann: I love the fantasy of farm life, but I'm too attached to my computer and watching The Big Bang Theory to live an Amish life.

Tracey: I know you and your husband love to travel. What is your favorite place to visit?
Jo Ann: We love to visit Lindisfarne in the north of England. It's also called Holy Island, and it's connected to the mainland by a causeway that's open at low tide twice a day. It was here that the Vikings first invaded Britain. When the causeway is closed and only the locals and a few tourists are around, its' so much fun to enjoy the natural beauty and the sound of seals on a nearby island.

Tracey: What's next for Jo Ann Brown?
Jo Ann: May is release date for An Amish Match. That will be followed in September by His Amish  Sweetheart. Finally in November, Amish Christmas Blessings will be released with two novellas, one by Marta Perry and the other A Christmas to Remember, by me.

An Amish Match-Harlequin Love Inspired May 2016
A Convenient Wedding
With a baby on the way, a toddler son to care for and a run-down farm, Amish widow Rebekah Burkholder is worried for her family's future. So when a kind, hardworking Amish widower with three children proposes marriage for sensible reasons, Rebekah accepts. She'll oversee Joshua Stoltzfus's household, be a loving mother to his children and try to reach his rebellious teenager. Joshua will make a wonderful father to her young son and the little one soon to be born. But as Rebekah unexpectedly falls for her new husband, dare she hope that Joshua will reopen his heart to love, too?

 Buy links:
Amazon Print: http://tiny.cc/q3wday
Amazon Kindle: http://tiny.cc/o4wday
Nook: http://tiny.cc/b7wday

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Author Betty Thomason Owens Graces the Diamond Mine!

I'm so privileged this week to welcome in Betty Thomason Owens into the cool quietness of the Diamond Mine, whom I’ve been blessed to have actually met face to face, last year. And what a sweet, genteel soul she is! Her blogs leave you feeling as fresh as gentle rain on a summer Sunday. (https://bettythomasonowens.com/) 

But her name caught my eye again when I saw her on the list of finalists of the Grace Awards. If you have a snatch of spare time, you might want to check out all the awesome writers on this list https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/.

Special Alert:  Book Giveaway below!

PT: Greetings, Betty! It’s so glorious to have you with us on this fine Wednesday. Our readers would love to know a bit about your background and how you got started writing.

BTO:  I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always been a storyteller. Mom called my stories lies. Yes, I could weave a wild tale to illustrate my reasons for not cleaning my room, or finishing my science project. But the real calling came when I was in my thirties. I’d never really considered writing, but the desire to tell stories fluttered to life and wouldn’t let me go. I began to write and couldn’t seem to stop. The stories kept coming. I self-published the fantasy novels then signed with Write Integrity Press to publish a 1920s era story (that grew into a series). A short time later, Tracy Ruckman of Write Integrity Press also sent me a contract for Annabelle’s Ruth.

PT:  I see you are very diverse in your writing, doing both Christian Fantasy and Christian Historical. There’s so many authors now dabbling in more than one genre. But which is your favorite to write/read?

BTO:  I love to read historical novels. But when it comes to writing, fantasy is sheer pleasure! I write inspirational fantasy adventure. You don’t really need to do research, because it’s all made up. There’s something so freeing about that.

PT: LOL I never would've pegged you for a fantasy writer! It must be true that calm waters run deep. And it’s obvious you love it. Now, you are amongst the finalists in The Grace Awards, and like all writers, I know getting such recognition is hard won. Were you surprised at this distinction?

BTO:  This is a reader-nominated contest, so yes, I was pleasantly surprised.

PT: Wow, incredible! How special to be nominated by your readers! So tell us a little about this novel, Annabelle’s Ruth.

BTO:  I love the biblical story of Ruth. I’ve read it and studied it numerous times. One day an idea came to me. Surely what happened to Naomi is not unique. It could happen to anyone, at any point in history. What if I wrote a story like that and set it, say…in the 1950’s? Annabelle’s Ruth was born from that idea. Annabelle is the Naomi character. As the story opens, she and her family live in San Diego, California. They are quite content until a tragic accident takes the life of her husband and two sons. She’s forced to sell her home and all her possessions and decides to return to her family in west Tennessee. Her eldest daughter-in-law resolves to go with her.
Instead of wheat, the Ruth character in the book helps with the cotton harvest. The kinsman redeemer figure owns the fields she works in. This story is also loosely based on my mother’s early experiences. Using a familiar setting helped to make the story and the characters real to me.

PT: That sounds like a fabulous read. I love that you used a Bible story as a template. Tell us, Betty, what lasting impression do you want readers to take from your books?

BTO:  A running theme in most of my writing is one of forgiveness—a by-product of love—the perfect love that comes to us from our Heavenly Father. The Book of Ruth tells a story of loss and redemption, but also of restoration. When you believe, there’s always hope and a future.

PT: Now forgive me for throwing this in, but this is one of my favorites to include on my interviews. Tell me 5 things fast about you that have nothing to do with writing.

1.  I’m quiet.
2.  I have seven beautiful grandchildren.
3.  I love to watch the sunrise.
4.  Need coffee with that.

5.  I hate scary movies.

PT: Love it! So we’re all dying to know where you’re going from here Are you in the middle of writing/editing/publishing?

BTO:  I have another book coming out in the near future—Carlotta’s Legacy, Book 2 of the Legacy Series. I’m currently writing book two of the Kinsman Redeemer series, sequel to Annabelle’s Ruth. The working title is Sutter’s Landing. There will be one more book in the Legacy series, and one more in the Kinsman Redeemer series (after Sutter’s Landing). Then I hope to have time to write the third book in the Jael of Rogan series—the fantasy novels. Jael’s fans have waited a long time, and not very patiently, I might add. But that’s a good thing.

PT:  Absolutely the best problem a writer can have! Thanks, Betty for being on the Diamond Mine. You’re a joy to get to know. Thought I'd throw in Samson for a little fun. He's actually a character in Betty's books. Besides, who can resist an adorable Bluetick Coonhound, I ask you??? Warning: #cutenessalert!

If you want to know more about Betty Thomason Owens, and I would if I were you, check out her bio and links below. If you want to cut to the chase, click here to purchase Annabelle;s Ruthhttp://amzn.com/B00ZJTFTXK

Betty has graciously decided to giveaway a copy of Amelia's Legacy (And it hasn't even hit the virtual shelves yet!!!)  Comment below and leave a email so we can contact you if you score! Boom-shakalaka!

Betty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s a mentor, assisting other writers, and a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers.

Her writing credits include Annabelle’s Ruth, Book 1, Kinsman Redeemer Series (2015), a 20’s era romance, Amelia's Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series (2014), both through Write Integrity Press. Carlotta’s Legacy, Book 2 of the Legacy Series is due in the Spring of 2016. She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by
Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Interview and Giveaway with Christine Lindsay - Sofie's Bridge

I'm so happy to welcome an Irish-born Canadian author to the Diamond Mine. Christine, your 2016 releases pique my interest, so let's plunge right into some questions. 

Please explain the thinking behind your novel. When did the idea occur to you, and how?  How does this story tie in with your personal or family history?

The idea to use the trade of riveters inspired Sofi’s Bridge a number of years ago. My great grandfather and my grandfather were riveters in the Belfast shipyard, and my grandfather’s very first ship to work on as a 14-year-old apprentice was the Titanic. I always add that as a family we accept no responsibility for the sinking of that infamous vessel.


I always wanted to write something that featured that dangerous trade, but didn’t want to write another Titanic novel which had been done to death. So I changed the riveting aspect to fit an Irishman’s family and focused on how that played out in Washington State for a young woman who wanted to design bridges.

Sofi’s Bridge is about work, either the kind that gives us great fulfilment or the kind we have no choice but to accept. This ties in with the creative soul who wants to make a living at their art. Are the creative dreams God gives us destined to be the work of our hands?

What role does the setting play? Is there some significance that would be lost in another setting? How do specific geographical features play into the story?

I believe in writing what I know so that my readers will feel the authenticity of my settings. I know my valley here in British Columbia well, so I moved the setting for Sofi’s Bridge to the Cascade Mountains just across the border in Washington State.  That way I know the very trees and shrubs, how the wind blows, the patchwork quilt of farms and the fragrance of freshly mown hay.

I also believe in setting as a character. As the gorges narrow and the Cascade mountains grow steeper, the wind funneling through those canyons increases, a metaphor for the growing intensity of hardship in our lives. Those hardships may derail us (like the train crossing the gorge in my book), or with God’s help, that threatening wind will pass over and around us because the fire of suffering refines us and makes us as strong as the steel bridge Sofi designed.

In addition, one of my favorite places in the world is the alpine meadow in Manning Park. I thought a romantic scene would be lovely with the ice blue glaciers on distant mountains seemingly at arm’s length, and the alpine flowers creating a carpet of primary colors.   

How do you perceive your characters interacting with readers? (Or vice-versa) Do certain character arcs take precedence, and how so? 

I prefer character arcs for some of my secondary characters as well as my hero and heroine, to add depth. Unless a story has a strong moral premise, I’m quickly bored, so I aim to make my characters totally believable. By showing their weaknesses as well as their strengths, I hope readers will connect with Neil and Sofi, and feel “yeah, that could be me.”

A good novel should give the reader an emotional experience, so the character arc must feel authentic. I also try to avoid stereotypical characters. Even the ‘bad guys’ have a reason for being bad. For example, Charles the family busybody who threatens Sofi’s sister, does the nasty things he does because his personal despair drives him to do the unthinkable.  

Tell us about your title, please--is there a story behind your choice? 

Sofi’s Bridge was the easiest title I ever came up with, and one that my publisher kept. It’s short and succinct, and I never considered anything else for this book. Same with Londonderry Dreaming. However, for my trilogy the titles Shadowed in Silk, Captured by Moonlight, and Veiled at Midnight took a lot more work to attain the same rhythm. But the hardest title of all to come up with, and the one with the most revisions was my non-fiction book coming out this August, Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.

The first chapters of all my books can be read for free on my website www.christinelindsay.org

And I'd also like to learn how your new website fits in with your writing. Can you give us a brief peek?

 I work with only one critique partner, Rachel Phifer, who lives in Texas. We met at an ACFW conference in 2008, and over the next few years both of us became Genesis winners. We understandd each other’s writing so well. As a Canadian born in N. Ireland, it helps that Texan Rachel spent her childhood in Africa as a missionary kid. She understands my British-ness and helps me make my novels palatable for American readers. 

As we worked together, I later won some other awards for my books, and Rachel was nominated for the ACFW Carol award. We work really well as a team, able to bridge the gap between American readers and the rest of the world. We think of ourselves as more international writers who think outside the box and see things in a global sort of way.

We wanted to share some of the things we learned the hard way to help other writers on their writing journey, so we just started Novel Renaissance this January 2016. Not only will we post a weekly topic on the craft of writing, but also offer our critique and substantive editing services.

Tell us about your giveaway, Christine. 

I’m giving away an Ebook of Sofi’s Bridge, and if readers sign up for my quarterly newsletter, I do frequent giveaways.  

Christine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and the explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.
Christine’s Irish wit and her use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming. Her newest release, Sofi’s Bridge, also features a dashing Irish hero.
Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. In August 2016, is Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story releases.
Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon or Twitter. Be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and  Goodreads