Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Inspirational Author Michelle Massaro Roars into the Diamond Mine!

With the old cars cruising around my area, and maybe yours too, we're ready to welcome in a new set of wheels at the Mine! (Vroom!) Rev your engines and give a hearty wave to Michelle Massaro! She's a Cali girl and an inspirational author. But hey, what am I telling you this? You don't want to hear my lake pipes roar. Make room in the coup for Michelle Massaro!

PT:  Hi, Michelle! Welcome in! So glad you could join us. Let's get to the nuts and bolts right off. Tell us your background and your genre. 

MM:  My writing background was primarily lots and lots of poetry, and songs. I also had a love affair with musical theater in my younger years, which I think greatly overlaps with the process of story creation and getting into the “skin” of a character. I write contemporary fiction—I’m somewhere in the Women’s Fiction/General Contemporary/Romance category. =)

PT:  Well, I think you've got the theme of the interview. But give us your main reason/theme/mantra of your writing.
MM:  I like to write deep. I really want readers to feel a touch from God through the stories I create, in a way that leaves them changed. I want my fictional stories to communicate truth. Ultimately, the truth that such a holy God as ours loves us in the midst of our unholy mess. My tagline is ‘contemporary fiction soaked in grace.’

PT:  Love that tagline! So everyone always wants to know what inspires authors to begin writing. How about you?
MM:  I’ve always been more comfortable expressing myself on paper. I think it’s a side effect of being an “overthinker” because writing allows us to edit ourselves till it’s just right, even if it’s only an email reply. I wrote a lot of poetry in my angsty teens. So I always felt like I had something to say, and that someday I’d take the time to do it. The idea for Grace in the Flames

sprouted years ago, probably about 2005 or 2006. Back then the idea of writing a novel was still a lofty dream. I made half-hearted attempts to develop the concept—at one point it was going to be a historical set somewhere in Europe—but I never got very far, and I never told anyone. It was in 2007 I believe, when I was inspired by Stephanie Myers’ story of writing her books during her kids’ swimming lessons that I sat down at my screen determined to get an entire story written.

PT:  So it's still summer, vacation season. We're all still California dreaming of exotic places to visit. Tell us of any states/countries you’ve visited or lived in.
MM:  I’m not a world traveler by any means but I did have the opportunity to visit Rome in 2008 and it was absolutely amazing. I’m eagerly awaiting my Trevi Fountain coin to bring me back again. Stateside, in addition to Southern California where I’ve spent most of my life, I’ve also lived in Texas, Colorado, and Northern California.

PT:  Back to your books. Are there any characters in your novels that resembles you most in personality?
MM:  Probably Megan from Better than Fiction. She’s sensitive and lacks self-confidence, not a huge risk taker, but she has a bit of a sarcastic sense of humor that peeks out now and then.

PT:  Bam, my fav. Tell us 5 things quick about Michelle Massaro that have nothing to do with writing. (drum roll, please)
MM:  1) I once solved a Rubik’s Cube in under 2 minutes
           2) My husband and I won our church’s karaoke contest on Valentine’s Day
           3) I celebrate “Ber Day” (Sept. 1st) with my daughters each year by decorating for Fall and watching The Sound of Music
           4) I once met Mr. Roper (Norman Fell) at the airport
           5) I have way more guppies than I know what to do with. Seriously…if you want some, let me know.

PT: Ooooh. Guppies. Got my classroom full of them already! LOL Now, tell us about your latest release.
MM:  Better than Fiction released in April. It’s a ton of fun! I co-wrote the novel with my dear

friend April Gardner and it’s half contemporary, half historical. It follows a modern-day author who has a struggling marriage. As she strives to regain her husband’s attention, she also pours her romantic longings onto the page. And that leads to an unexpected emotional affair when she inserts a man from church into her story. On the historical side, she writes about the 1916 Corona Road Race and a romance between a female mechanic and a hotshot racer. Corona is my hometown and it was a great deal of fun digging up historical tidbits and treasures to incorporate into the novel.

PT:  Nice twist. Sounds like an interesting plot. Well, the fans here at the Diamond Mine all want to know. Which direction are you heading in your writing? What can we expect?
MM:  I’m working on a novella centering around Tori and Derek, who readers will remember from Grace in the Flames. These two are a blast! They get on each other’s nerves and fight like an old married couple, but everyone can see that there’s something between them. No release date yet, but I’m working as fast as I can! =)

PT:  Thanks for joining us, Michelle! 

MM:  Thanks, Peggy!

PT:  (getting in the Beach Boy theme) Now I'm not bragging, so don't put me down. But we've got the greatest giveaway around! Tell them, Michelle.

MM: Today I’ll be giving away a copy of Grace in the Flames

Boom, Wha????

That's right readers, you read that right. But you know the drill. At least five commenters (no such word) to qualify as a legal smeagle (also not a word) drawing. Leave your email, 'cause, well, I'm not a mind reader. LOL Thanks for shifting into cruising speed and leaning back in the leather seats with us. We appreciate our faithful readers! Wanna know more about Michelle? (Of course you do!) Then check it out below!


MICHELLE MASSARO writes contemporary fiction soaked in grace. She makes her home in Southern California with her husband of over two decades and their four children. She’s dabbled in homeschooling, teaching Creation Science, and leading worship. When she isn’t tinkering with words, Michelle enjoys old Rogers and Hammerstein movies, making kefir, and Sudoku. A new lipstick and a good French roast always make her happy.


NEWSLETTER:  eepurl.com/bPQL0T  
Twitter: @MLMassaro
Instagram:  @MichelleMassaroBooks
Amazon purchase links:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

One author ♦ Two egos ♦ Two Giveaway's

***Alert: Giveaway Included ***

Hi, Miners, and Miner Readers!

I'm tickled to be here with something new . . . something I've never tried before. But I thought it would be fun to do a dual interiew with one author who writes as two different eople, in two different genres.

So please join me in introducing authors Donna Schlachter and Leeann Betts

 Welcome, ladies! This might be tricky, but let’s give it a try. Answer each question either as Donna, or Leeann, or each of you answer the same question. Are you ready for this?

Okay, then, here we go . . .

PEG: As Donna, you write historical. As Leeann, you write contemporary. How do you keep your voices distinct from each other?

D: I think the genres help with that. Historical tends to be a little gentler, with more emphasis on description and language, which I always find to be more poetic.

L: Right. And I don’t think Donna would disagree if I said that the characters in her contemporary tend to be a little more autobiographical than the characters in her historical.

PEG: Do you ever feel schizophrenic being two different people? Who do you wake up as in the morning? :)

L: Only when I go to writer’s events because they often know me as Leeann. I tell folks, since in my headshot I’m wearing a hat, that I’ll be the one with the hat on.

D: Which could prove problematic, since I just bought two historically authentic hats which I really love—a naval airman’s hat, and a cavalry hat.

PEG: Do you ever write simultaneously? I mean, both as Donna and Leeann?

L: Only in interviews like this one :)

D: Not usually, but I am sometimes writing a book as one and editing as the other.

PEG: Explain your filing system as separate writers.

D: Since I’m the organizer—Leeann can be so bad about just putting things in any old place—I simply file alphabetically, both on our laptop and in the file drawer.

L: Don’t get me started on that lost file again. It wasn’t my fault!

PEG: What about culture shock? As a writer, do you find it difficult to shift your mindset when jumping from present day to a time in the past, or vice versa?

L: Since I live in the same era in which I write, I don’t have any problem at all.

D: I like to immerse myself in the era, so I read a lot, I watch a lot of movies and television shows set in that time period, and I visit as many historical sites as I can, particularly the setting of the book. And I record the sounds, like bugs and birds, in that setting.

PEG: What does one of you do when the other has a deadline?

D: Honestly Leeann has no concept of deadlines. Particularly mine. She is constantly coming up with ideas for new books in the middle of my final push to The End.

L: And Donna can be such a stickler for those pesky deadlines. Give her a date, and she treats it like it’s scripture. Life stops. Fun stops. Distractions stop.

PEG: Which one of you has the most fun with your writing?

D: I do, of course, because I am a fun person.

L: No way. I am the one who is cute and perky and all the things you’re not. You constantly tell people that.

D: Just because you’re cute and perky, and, thankfully, all the things I’m not, doesn’t mean I don’t have the most fun. Why, I recall just a few months ago when you were complaining about editing, saying you wished someone else would write this book for you. That doesn’t sound like you were having much fun.

L: That’s just one time. And what about that time when you—

D: Don’t even bring that up. You promised you’d never bring that up again.

L: Fine. You have the most fun with the writing. But I have the most fun with the interviews.

LOL! I can see that wrestling with an alter-ego isn’t always peaches and cream!

Peg: Let’s talk a bit about the two books you both have out.

Nuggets of Writing Gold: comment by author Janet K. Brown: This book is a great little resource to learn about writing. The authors touch on everything from where to get ideas to how to self-publish. The thing I like best was the 1 sentence takeaway at the end of each chapter along with various exercises. Anyone following the exercises will improve their writing and publishing many times over. It's a must-read for newbies and a big help to ones not so new.

♦ ♦ ♦

 No Accounting for Murder: Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, has a nose for mysteries. When a less-than-desirable business has their building permit approved under the table, Carly gets suspicious. But when money is embezzled and her daughter is suspected, her hackles are raised. Will Carly solve both mysteries--or will she end up as dead as the mayor?

♦ ♦ ♦

Donna & Leeann are each offering a book giveaway:

For the writers in your following, Donna will sponsor a copy of Nuggets of Writing Gold, a collection of articles, essays, and exercises on the craft of writing. And for the readers in your following, Leeann will sponsor a copy of “No Accounting for Murder”, the first in her By the Numbers cozy mystery series. (***see below***)

Where can our blog readers find you?

Purchase link: http://amzn.to/2aRHszw

Purchase link: http://amzn.to/2aMoyZx

Author Bio
Donna lives in Denver with her husband Patrick, who is her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She has published four cozy mysteries and a devotional for accountants under her pen name, and a collection of short stories, a book on writing tips, and several devotionals under her own name. She is currently under contract with Barbour Books in a novella collection on the Pony Express. Donna is a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in March 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and online at: www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com. Her books are available at Amazon.com in digital and print.

*** About the Giveaway ***

Entering is easy! 
Just leave a comment about this blog post below and include your name and contact email: e.g. you(at)abcxyz(dot)com
Tell us which book you'd like to receive, and . . .

Tell us why you chose it.

This giveaway will remain open through Friday, September 2, closing at Midnight, CDT.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A Chat with the inspiring, Elaine Stock!

I'm am so happy to introduce Elaine Stock to the Diamond Mine! I've known Elaine for many years, having first met her through our local Romance Writers of America chapter meetings. It's been an absolute pleasure watching Elaine's career grow from that of an aspiring to a published author. Elaine will be offering one Kindle digital giveaway of her book, Always With You, to one luck commenter. 

Elaine Stock is the author of Always With You, which released in January 2016 and has made the Kindle bestseller list. Her novels fuse family drama and psychological suspense. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and contributes to the international “Happy Sis Magazine.” In addition to Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads, she hangs out on her active blog, Everyone’s Story, dedicated to uplifting and encouraging all readers through the power of story and hope.

Tracey: Elaine, tell us a bit about how you got started writing fiction.

Elaine: The two big influencers to the love of story were my mother and my aunt—both named Sandra. My mother was a voracious reader (and lover of all arts; she also dabbled in poetry writing) and my aunt told the most wonderful, entertaining stories. A taste of writing came in third grade when an article I wrote was published in the school literary paper (sorry to say, I have no recollection of any details)—and I was hooked! I started writing stories, loving the feel of creating different worlds and characters. In junior high I wanted to be the next playwright of comedies that made people laugh like crazy. Life 101 and interest changes occurred, like in anyone’s life, and here I am today, writing inspirational contemporary fiction.

Tracey: I know you and your husband live in an historic building. Would you care to share a little bit about your lovely home?

Elaine: Aww, thanks so much, Tracey. My husband purchased for cash years and years ago this shack of a dilapidated railroad station because we were young and the banks didn’t want to give us a mortgage. So, with much grit and determination we started out having my husband’s piano restoration business in it for 3 years while we continued doing the majority of building repairs ourselves and living elsewhere. When we decided to make it half home-half business, and needed to add plumbing, well, and septic, we finally succeeded in getting a mortgage and moved in, living wise. The place is paid off now—thanks be to God!—but LOL, we’re out of room and the place needs spiffing up like a new kitchen, refinished floors, too many etc’s. We’ll get there, eventually. But, a home is a home and I’m thankful for it.

Tracey: How did you come up with the story premise for your novel, Always With You?

Elaine: Tracey, remember out Saratoga RWA local chapter days? One summer meeting, during the racehorse season (note: I do not attend the races or bet), a list of racehorse names was distributed and we were asked to write a premise about the horse. My “horse” was named Don’t-Tell-Isabelle, which became my original title for Always With You. Right away I wanted to know who Isabelle was, what she wasn’t supposed to know, and why. The story stewed for several years. Then 9-11 happened. The concept of hatred settled heavily on my heart and led to Always With You, a story of how faith and love can overcome hatred and evil.

Tracey: Can you tell us how your faith journey is reflected in the stories you tell?

Elaine: Ever since I can remember I believed in Something/Someone bigger than me, bigger than all of life surrounding me. However, I did not grow up in a family or surroundings of faith. Hindsight shows me that perhaps this is why I searched for the One who wanted me, and I accepted Christ into my heart and was baptized at the age of 22. And baptized a 2nd time (by immersion) 3 years ago. But, life isn’t easy, even for the believer. It wasn’t meant to be! That’s why my stories, so far, all have characters, especially teens and young adults, who come to embrace God despite their struggles.

Tracey: What is one thing readers don't know about you?

Elaine: I love to cook and bake. For one week back in my early twenties—a time when one doesn’t worry about the how-to’s—I went into the cheesecake business, offering to bake cheesecakes for private use and parties. Well, I did receive 1 order! Truthfully, I’m so glad that profession ended before it ever took off!! Ironically, between working a day-job and writing, I manage to cook simple and nutritional meals, but haven’t baked in years.

Tracey: What's next for author Elaine Stock?

Elaine: My stories are leaning more toward the fusion of family drama and psychological suspense. Family complexities fascinate me. I’m finishing up a story of how an 18-year-old girl may have her future ahead of her, if only she can survive to embrace it. And, lured by my own family mystery, I’m researching a story that will be my first venture into a time-slip structure, going back and forth in narrative between the present and past.

Always With You

Can she move forward without knowing her past?
Will he enjoy his present if he can’t free himself from what he left behind?

In the heart of the Adirondacks, Isabelle lives in the shadow of a dark family secret whose silent burden strips her family of emotional warmth and faith in God. Tyler belongs to the religious sect called The Faithful, which Isabelle’s father dislikes immensely. Yet, because Tyler belongs to this group, Isabelle sees only a man devoted to his family and faith.

She wants it; she gets it; they marry.

And when the truth comes out, Isabelle faces two choices:
Staying could endanger her child.
Leaving could cost her life.

 Out now: ALWAYS WITH YOU, a Kindle best-sellerAmazon: http://amzn.to/21uGtGF  
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1PfRyXX

website/blog: Everyone's Story  http://elainestock.com
Twitter  http://www.twitter.com/ElaineStock
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaineStock
Goodreads  http://goodreads.com/ElaineStock