Sunday, July 31, 2016

Versatility Rocks! Mary Ellis, Amish, Romance, and Mystery Novelist

Welcome to The Diamond Mine, Mary. While some advise authors to brand themselves and stick with one genre, you've been willing to make changes. I admire that quality. After all, without your flexibility, your latest release wouldn't be out there for us to read. 

First of all, what a great cover! And this is part of a mystery series . . . YAY for you! 

How has your writing changed over your career? For example, how did creating Magnolia Moonlight compare with some of your first books? 
Although I was first published in romantic suspense, I’m best known for my Amish romances, set mainly close to where I live in Ohio. I loved studying and interviewing these humble Christians, but after twelve books it was time to move on. I then wrote three historical romances set during the Civil War. These required a tremendous amount of research, both through non-fiction books and at Civil War battlefields. Now I’m happily ensconced writing mysteries about a PI agency in New Orleans. I loved making a second genre change—it keeps my writing fresh and me happy.

What lessons would you classify as most important in your journey?
I believe an author must be flexible and willing to make changes to remain viable in this crazy publishing business. When I began writing, e-books had just come on the scene and had few takers. In those days, readers were forced to read on their computers. Now with e-readers, tablets, and cell phone, readers can choose how and when they enjoy their favorite stories. Although I personally prefer print books, an author must consider various tastes and make books available in every format for internet shopping, chain bookstores, and independent booksellers.  I truly hope we never lose brick-and-and mortar bookstores. Going inside one for me is like being a kid in a candy store!

What about Magnolia Moonlight stands out as you consider all the novels you've written? Magnolia Moonlight is third in the Secrets of the South Mysteries. (Although you do not have to read them in order) The first two books were Midnight on the Mississippi and What Happened on Beale Street. I absolutely love spinning these whodunit tales in the South, where we plan to move after my husband retires. The storylines are faster-paced than my historical romances or my Amish family dramas, and I usually have a main mystery with a subplot mystery happening alongside it.

Here is something about the story: What sinister secrets lurk in the shadows of yesterday? Natchez, Mississippi—Private Investigator Nate Price and his new wife, Isabelle, need a vacation. Their coworkers generously team up to surprise them with a belated honeymoon…but the happy trip turns sour when Izzy spies her ex-husband, who appears to have taken up his gambling addiction once again. While the boss is away, Price Investigations remains in the hands of Beth Kirby, a former police officer, and Michael Preston, a former forensic accountant. Hardly a dream team, as Beth resents working with a man who has no experience in his new job.

But Beth and Michael must move past their differences if they hope to uncover the truth behind a beloved Southern preacher’s demise. The preacher’s widow suspects foul play, despite the evidence indicating suicide.  With tension escalating between these investigators and local law enforcement—and new threats arising on all sides—how will Beth, Michael, and Nate hold on to faith and bring the truth to light?

Has what you hope for your readers changed over the years? I don’t think so. What I have always hoped for my readers is that they are entertained, refreshed, and uplifted by my books. Although Christian fiction usually offers a hopeful message to Believers, a fiction writer’s primary object is to entertain with good clean books that glorify God. Fiction should bring a smile to the face of readers. If I’ve done that, then I have succeeded.

Here’s something about me: Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances. Her latest, Magnolia Moonlight, is third of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before "retiring" to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. She enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. Sunset in Old Savannah will release in early 2017. She can be found on the web at: or

Purchase link for Magnolia Moonlight - 

Please leave Mary a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Magnolia Moonlight. US residents only. 

Thanks so much for joining us here, Mary. Your writing history inspires me, and I would guess you've brought smiles to the faces of many readers, and a bigger one to the fortunate winner of Magnolia Moonlight

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book giveaway with Lee Carver!!!

Lee Carver is paying us another visit to The Diamond mine! She’s been busy writing more books for your reading enjoyment, and has stopped in to tell us about her latest novel. And readers, remember to leave a comment for Lee for a chance to win the drawing for a free copy of her latest book to someone within continental USA, or any two of her books as Kindle copies! They’re all available in print and e-book on
So, take it away, Lee! 

Honestly, the initial motivation to write “Retreat to Shelter Creek” was vengeance against a man who hurt a woman I love. An unfaithful husband addicted to Internet porn and a master’s degreed minister, he destroyed their marriage. My agent insisted that the villain not be a minister, though, because Christians don’t want to read about those who have royally failed the faith. I agree. So I gave him a position of responsibility in charge of the lives of young people as the chairman of the history department of a junior college—“a big frog in a small pond.”

Creating the villain became the hardest challenge in writing the book. My online crit partners helped so much, especially Autumn Macarthur, who convinced me that Jason had to be “badder” with behavior indicative of a deep personality disorder. She helped me construct Jason as a controlling narcissist.

With so much conflict, then, the guard-pig Beulah and other points of humorous relief had to balance the weight of the story. Testosterone-laden Sheriff Bubba Gaines gave me such a charge that I want to write another story based in Shelter Springs, Texas, with him as the main character.

Forgiveness is seen as a necessary step in healing from a broken marriage, even if the offender admits no wrong and would never request forgiveness. If Ashley’s husband is already living with his pregnant student, what is her obligation to her vows? An elder romance develops as well. The novel is loaded with plot and characters!

Wow! Sounds like quite an interesting story, Lee!
Now here's an excerpt that features Beulah:

Ashley placed the running water at the base of a clump of purple sage in full bloom and leaned on the top board of Beulah’s pen. “Don’t reckon anybody’s bothered to ask how you feel about moving.”

Beulah lifted her head, the curve of a natural pig-smile giving her a pleasant expression.

“You’re going to be loaned to the roofer to help build up his pig family. You’ll have new friends, and hopefully a sweetheart and a brood of piglets.”

Beulah shuffled to her feet, snuffling and snorking as if expecting an afternoon snack.

Ashley went into the shed and got a handful of feed just for the fun of giving it to her. Caught off guard by a rustle in the dark, she froze. Was a person hiding in there? A rattlesnake? Her pulse pounded in her neck. As her eyes adjusted, she spied something bright white moving a few feet away. A bright white stripe. Bordered by blackest black.

A skunk!

Don’t run. Be calm.

The plump, shiny animal waddled toward the back of the shed, giving her courage to slip silently out the door and push it closed.

Leaning against the door, weak-legged and sweating, she thanked God the skunk hadn’t sprayed her.

She had no idea what to do next. In her normal world, there had always been a man she could ask for help. The image of the strong, manly Texas roofer came to mind. His phone number printed on the receipt left in the kitchen beckoned to her. He knew about local animals.

Maybe she would call Austin.

Well, that makes you want to read more, doesn't it?
Here's the link for this book:

Contact detail for “Retreat to Shelter Creek”

Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of her latest book, "Retreat to Shelter Creek" or any two Kindle copies of her books. Here are the choices of her other books:

And now here's a bit about Lee:

Lee Carver is once again failing at retirement, a hybrid author in every sense: fiction and nonfiction, traditionally and independently published. She also does freelance editing, formatting, and uploads. Married forty-eight years to a very tolerant man, they have an adult son and daughter and five grandchildren.

A message from Lee:

I do hope you enjoy the book. You are most welcome to my blog, “Truth in Fiction” and website. Here are all my contact details:

Twitter:  @leecarver21

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Author Jean C Gordon talks writing and farm life!

I am so happy to be interviewing long time friend and RWA chapter mate Jean C Gordon! Jean will be giving away 2 print copies (USA only) of The Bachelor's Sweetheart. So be sure to leave a comment in the comments section below to be considered. And we need a valid email so we can notify the winners!

For Amazon Bestselling inspirational and sweet romance author Jean C. Gordon, writing is a natural extension of her love of reading. From that day in first grade when she realized t-h-e was the word “the,” she’s been reading everything she can put her hands on. She and her college-sweetheart husband tried the city life in Los Angeles, but quickly returned home to their native small-town Upstate New York, where she sets her books.

A founding member of the Capital Region Romance Writers (Albany, NY), Jean currently serves as membership chair. She’s also a member of the Romance Writers of America and its Faith, Hope and Love Chapter, the American Christian Fiction Writers, and Novelists, Inc.

Jean is currently working on a new series for Harlequin Love Inspired and looking forward to the release of her first single title romance, Mending the Motocross Champion, in October.

Tracey: Jean I know you and I use the same setting for our books. The beautiful Adirondack Mountain region of upstate New York. Can you tell us a little about why you choose this area for your setting?
Jean: I’m a “rabid” Upstate New Yorker. I’ve set all but one of my books in Upstate NY. I chose the Adirondacks for my Love Inspired books because, as you noted, it’s such a beautiful area, and its tiny towns and community cohesiveness fit my stories. Also, the Adirondacks are close enough for weekend trips for research.

Tracey: You live in a 170-year-old farmhouse with a 112-acre backyard! What’s the best and worst part about living on a small farm? Are there any anecdotes you’d like to share with us?
Jean: The worst part is that we don’t have municipal services. So if there’s a problem with the well or septic, it’s 100% our problem to resolve. The best part is all the beautiful land. We don’t have to go anywhere for a scenic walk. We can hike down to the Hudson River on the electric company right of way that runs down the border of our property. We can have livestock. Currently, I have chickens, and my son-in-law has Guinea fowl. Our families share the house. In the past, we’ve had goats, and my son-in-law used to raise pastured pigs commercially, which leads into an anecdote.

One January when my daughter and son-in-law and their family were in Florida visiting her father-in-law, I came home from work to three pair of eyes shining in the dark moving up the driveway toward my car. It was 500+-pound Bennie and two of his dainty 300-pound sows. The three of them had broken a gate and gotten out. I immediately called the number of nearby farmer that my son-in-law had given me if we had any problems. He wasn’t home. He also delivered fuel oil part-time and was out on a delivery. But his wife said she’d be over. She arrived about the same my husband got home from work. I filled a bucket with feed and worked at luring the trio back into the fenced area while my husband and our friend herded them through the snow from behind. Once they were in, my husband held the gate while our friend and I scrambled for tools and materials for a temporary fix. We fixed it by flashlight and our fix held until my son-in-law returned from vacation.

Tracey: Tell us about those Donnelly Brothers.
Jean: Jared is the oldest “bad-boy” brother and the hero of Winning the Teacher’s Heart. He’s a retired world-champion motocross racer who now runs a nonprofit racing school for underprivileged kids. Connor from Holiday Homecoming is the youngest. He’s pastor of Hazardtown Community Church on Paradox Lake, his dream job. And Josh, hero of The Bachelor’s Sweetheart, is the middle brother in oh so many ways. At the beginning of the book, he’s all about making money and getting out of Paradox Lake. He thinks his brothers are crazy for coming back to settle there. The brothers grew up with an alcoholic father who was essentially the Paradox Lake town drunk, which gave me lots of fodder for internal and external conflict in the stories. (She rubs her hands.)

Tracey: Briefly describe your writing day.
Jean: On a perfect Monday-through-Thursday writing day, I get up with my husband at 6:30. I do email, Facebook, and other non-writing writer tasks until 8:30. I may throw in a load of wash or do some other fast house thing. Then I dress and exercise and try to be at my computer to write by nine. I generally write in hour-long chunks, with 15-minute breaks. I take lunch from 1 to 2 pm, as I did at my former day job, and go back and write until 3:30 or 4. On Fridays, I write mornings and try to schedule any errands and appointments for the afternoon. I don’t always achieve perfection.

Tracey: Why did you decide to write romance?
Jean: I started reading romance when I was in my 30s and fell in love with the happily ever after, feel-good aspect of the genre. For a time, I did romance reviews for the now-defunct Paperback Trader. One day, it struck me that since I was already a professional writer (tax and financial articles), I should take a stab at writing a romance novel. I did, and I was hooked.

Tracey: How does your faith play into your storylines?
Jean: My faith is an important part of my daily life, as it is for book characters. In my Love Inspired books, faith is a strong, integral part of the story. As soon as I “meet” my characters, I know what their faith journey is going to be. In my sweet romances, the characters share my values. They may or may not attend church or church activities in the story, and they don’t have a faith journey.

Tracey: What’s next for Jean C Gordon?
Jean: I’m very excited to be launching a new sweet romance series in October to complement my Love Inspired romances. The series is Team Macachek: The strong women and fearless men of the motocross circuit. The first book is Mending the Motocross Champion, a single title light inspirational/sweet romance. It’s my “book of the heart.” I wrote the first version of it back in the early 2000s. The second in the series is a Christmas novella that will be included in a boxed set with several other sweet romance authors.
On the Love Inspired front, my third Donnelly Brothers book released July 19, and the manuscript for my next book, which I’m calling Reclaiming His Family, is due to my Love Inspired editor on Monday. I have another connected book contracted. No publication dates for either yet.

The Bachelor’s Sweetheart backcover
Falling for the Bachelor 
Tessa Hamilton never imagined the hardest part of having her best friend help renovate her small-town movie theater would be keeping her heart safe. She can't fall for a man who has no interest in a serious relationship with any woman…and who doesn't know the secret she hides. Besides, Josh Donnelly is too eager to leave Paradox Lake—especially when his estranged father returns. Tessa struggles with the turmoil, but as she falls deeper for the bachelor, she knows she must be honest if there's any chance for them. But will telling Josh put everything at risk—including their friendship?
The Bachelor’s Sweetheart buy links
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