Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Interview and Giveaway with Acclaimed Writer Dvora Waysman!!

Everyone is searching for something or someone to make their lives more meaningful. In Dvora Waysman’s novel, “Searching For Sarah”, Leah is searching for Sarah, the artist whose portrait obsesses her; Sarah is searching for something lost that can never be replaced; and Gershom – he seems to be searching for G-d. ~ A tender story of Israel ~ Ordinary People ... Living Extraordinary Lives.

Today on The Diamond Mine, I'm very honored to welcome multi-published author and worldwide syndicated writer Dvora Waysman! What a treat to share this time with her. And readers, please click on the Post a Comment section at the end of the interview to leave a comment and be entered in a drawing to win a print copy of Dvora's latest book:"Searching for Sarah."

Hi Dvora! It’s so good to connect with you again, and have a chance to ask you some questions!
You live in what I consider to be the most important city in the world. What is it like to live in Jerusalem?

Jerusalem is wonderful. There are other cities perhaps more beautiful like Venice, Paris etc. but Jerusalem is more of an emotion than a place. A poet put it beautifully (Yehuda Amichai):  "The air over Jerusalem is so full of prayers and dreams, that it is hard to breathe."  It is deeply spiritual.

I can tell by the many lovely articles you've written about Jerusalem, that you have a deep bond to it, and in your own words, you"feel uniquely privileged" to live there. I can certainly understand your sentiments!
As writers we live in this world, but when we write fiction, we reside in a world we create with each story. Do you ever find it challenging to live in both of these worlds?

I think even our fiction is based on our own reality - we couldn't express it if it were not a place that we know and which resonates with us on a deep level.

Wow. That's a very true observation. Even when I’m creating a world and characters, I realize they are based in the realities I know. Thank you for saying that!
How much of your own self do you put into your characters?

All my characters have a little bit of me in them - something I've experienced; a joke I've laughed at; a song I've sung... that's the only way to create a 3-dimensional character.

Yes. I think it’s often those little things that really reveal the inner life of the character. Do you ever have dreams about your characters or stories?

Not dreams - but a deep affection when I think about them.  They stay with me long after the book is finished.

I know what you mean! Do you have a favorite among your books or characters?

Yes.  The heroine of my novel "Esther" - a Jerusalem Love Story, because a lot of it was autobiographical - my life in London when I went there at 19; my work as a war correspondent in Lebanon in the Peace for Galilee campaign in 1982;  and bits of a romance way back then.

 That sounds like quite a wonderful story, especially since it has so much of your own story woven in it. Tell us about your latest book. How did you get the idea for it?

My latest (14th) book is "Searching for Sarah".  It is loosely based on a real experience I had when I once rented an artist's 1-room studio on a rooftop in Jerusalem.  I found there a portrait an artist had left behind, and although it was 25 years ago, I have never forgotten that painting or the effect it had on me.

Isn’t it amazing how a single thought or experience can grow and expand into an entire book? It’s really incredible when I think about that. What do you like most about “Searching for Sarah”?

I like the fact that the theme is that everyone is searching for someone or something to fill an empty place in their lives.  We all have a void somewhere.

That’s very true. Do you have any recurring themes in your books?

Jerusalem is the recurring theme in most of my books.  I never wanted to live here, was reluctant to leave the easy life in my birthplace Australia, but once it grabs hold of your soul, it never lets you go.

It definitely sounds like you fell in love with Jerusalem! Here are excerpts from your article"Love Song For a City":

Falling in love with a city is not so different from falling in love with a person. It is an emotion that grows slowly.You begin to notice what you had overlooked before. There is the quality of light that begins with a pearly dawn. When the sun shines, masses of grey stone are turned to gold. At twilight, the indigo shadows lengthen. The night sky is black velvet strewn with stars. Your senses become aware of an ancient perfume that wafts down from the Judean hills compounded of sage, thyme and rosemary. You hear the wind whispering in the pine trees, and echoes of a pain-filled history. You stroll through the Jerusalem Forest, where shy cyclamens in mauve and cream and wild violets nestle among the rocks.
It took a few years before I became bonded to this city and its people. Now I have lived here for 45 years, of the 50 it has been re-unified, and although I've seen most of the world, this is where I want to stay. Like all Jerusalemites, I feel uniquely privileged and although we can contribute little during our brief sojourn here, we know that Jerusalem is eternal.

These words really evoke the effect the city has on you, as I imagine it does for most everyone who has ever been there.

Do you write every day?

Yes.  I have written thousands of articles & still do for papers around the world.  But for the poetry & fiction, I need to be inspired. 

Yes, I agree. Inspiration is an essential element for poetry and fiction. What are you working on now?

I'm 86 now so I have just started what will probably be my swan song.  This one is just for my large family (4 children; 18 grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren.)  I am calling it: "Stories I never told you". One of my grandsons is quite a famous musician in Israel - David Lavi - & he recently wrote a song for me in English. The last 3 words are: "Please don't go."  He has always known me as quite an elderly lady, but I want him and the great-grandchildren to know me when I was a child; a teenager; a young woman. I want them to come with me on a journey to become who I am today and not just remember me as an old lady.

What a blessing that will be for your family. And who knows? You may decide to share it with your readers, too! And I hope you will fulfill your grandson’s plea, and stay with all of us for a good number of years to come. Thank you for this interview, Dvora!!

Here's a peek at some of Dvora's other books:

Here are Dvora's social and purchase links. Dvora has written 14 books. You can find them at:: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_rsis_1_0?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=dvora+waysman&sprefix=%2Cstripbooks%2C495

And also:

She can be contacted at: dwaysman@gmail.com or on her blog: www.dvorawaysman.com

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Peggy Trotter's Diamond in the Rough (featuring The Secret Things)

Peggy Trotter's

on the Diamond Mine

Please welcome Peggy Trotter to the Diamond Mine as a featured guest author. She's a special person and for those who don't know this wonderful lady and her books, I would like to take this opportunity to introduce you. She's also agreed to give away one copy of her latest and greatest, The Secret Things. This book is amazing so please don't hesitate to enter! Details about the giveaway and how to enter are after the interview! Are you ready? I am! Let's get started.


Renee: Hey, Peggy! I'm so excited to do this! I can't wait to talk about your new book and writing adventures. Why don't we start with your book, The Secret Things? How did you pick your title?

Peggy: Thanks, Renee. I'm pretty excited to be here myself. I have to say this book has been a loooonnnggg time coming! LOL I wrote this book originally about 15-20 years ago. Most of my books do not have titles until they are finished. I always write and edit with a “working title.” Deuteronomy 29:29 has always been a fascinating verse to me. It basically states that some things are meant for us to know and discover, and others, well, they are just God’s secrets. We all have secrets. True. But some block our closeness to God.  So this verse became the theme for this book. The Secret Things is just the first of a series, individual stories wrapped around some sort of secret.

Renee: What an interesting concept! I love it. We do try to hide things from God, don't we? Too bad that's not possible. I love where this book takes place. Did you pick it by some particular method? For a particular reason?

Peggy: Oh, yes! I’ve been there. The Smokey Mountains are absolutely gorgeous! I love the remoteness, the beautiful mountains, and the mystique the mist lends to the area. Plus, it’s a perfect place for a person to get…lost. So it was a perfect place for Jerrica to be discovered! And perfect for a criminal to hide.

Renee: I love the Smokey Mountains. They are amazing. I've only been there once or twice but I agree with you. They are the absolutely perfect place for your book, any book! LOL I know writing is a lot of fun, at least for us writers. Heehee. Can you share a quick, fun story about writing this particular story? What did you learn from it?

Peggy: Easy! For several years I called this novel my ugly stepchild! 😃 Let’s just say it’s been around the block. It’s had several harsh judges, none of which encouraged me to change my nickname for it. Not only that, I have seven versions of this book. (Yes, the majority of this book has been re-written and reorganized seven times!) It went from being a novella to a full-length book, from simple romance to romantic suspense. It has taken me on quite a ride!

Renee: Through it all...and I say "all" because I know you've been writing for quite a while...what writing style do you prefer?

Peggy: Visceral. That explains it all. I want to feel all the feels. I want to know what the characters are feeling, thinking, planning, fearing, imagining—everything. I think I must write that way. I know that while I write, it can be very gut wrenching. I live and feel it while I write.

Renee: I believe that is probably a good way to do it, if you ask me. Not comfortable, but good. On a more personal note, what do you do when you're not writing? Do you have any hobbies or fun activities you like?

Peggy: I have a full-time day job so I spend a lot of time doing that! But I am a very busy sort of lady, I guess. My hands are seldom idle. And I absolutely LOVE hobbies. Let me just share with you the ones I’ve been involved in over the years: knitting, crocheting (sweaters, afghans, etc.) , cross-stitch, crafting, making pillows, quilts, clothes, making jewelry, latch hooking rugs, beading, sewing Bible covers, making
Barbie clothes (yes, really), painting Scripture signs, crafting interior decorations, painting, making dolls, painting wall murals, playing numerous instruments, writing plays/poems, and any DIY project (making bookcases, refinishing furniture, building a deck, painting kitchen cabinets-twice, lol-roofing, laying flooring, dry walling, hanging drop ceilings, phew! That’s enough!) DIY still very much occupies my time! Curse this old house! 😛 Hope you enjoy a few of my projects.

Renee: Wow! You are a busy lady! I love it. I've enjoyed this time chattin' and I'm sure the folk have too. But before we go, do you think you can share why you are so dedicated to the Lord and how He continues to impact your life today.

Peggy: I would love to! As a farm girl growing up, I could always see Him in the world around me. In the intricate design of a simple flower, the complexities of the animals around me, plus their unique personalities. I always say I first met God at sunset on top of a fencepost as the geese flew south. I even painted a picture of it. So I always was aware of Him. But I didn’t completely surrender my life until my senior year of high school at church camp. At that point I felt my life take a turn, and it would never be the same. Every deed, decision, and way of life was and is filtered through pleasing God. And it has never changed. Although I fail quite frequently, I live the way I do because of Jesus Christ and what He did for me on the cross. I do as much as I can to spread God’s message, because as I tell my students quite frequently, it’s the most important decision of anyone’s life!

Renee: Thank you so much for being on the Diamond Mine today...as an author. You are a true blessing in the Christian Fiction world as well as our little ol' Diamond Mine. I'm so happy that your very own diamond in the rough serves as a beacon for God's glory to the world.



Comment about blog for a chance to win your very own copy of this amazing book!
One winner will be selected by random draw on 5/24/17.
Name and email required to validate entry.


About the Book, The Secret Things:

Deep in the Smokey Mountains, secrets abound. Jerrica Rankin doesn't know who she is. But she's certain she isn't the woman in the wedding photo. So who is the stranger on her porch gripping this incriminating picture? How will Jerrica conquer her panic attacks and find her identity to prove he's wrong?
Brock Langston buried his wife three years ago. But he finds her, deep in the Smokey Mountains, very much alive and denying who she is. How could she have forgotten their relationship and why didn't anyone contact him? Is Jerrica really his wife? Or an impostor?

About the Author, Peggy Trotter:

When Peggy Trotter‘s not teaching or DIY-ing, she’s immersed in a story scene of some sort, always pushing toward that sigh-worthy, happy ending. 2 kids, 2 in-kids, and 2 grands delight her life as well as her Batman of 32 years whose cape is much worn from rescuing his wife from one scrap or another. Winner of the prestigious ACFW Genesis Award in 2014, she flips from Christian historical to contemporary to suspense. But ultimately, it’s always about revealing God’s incredible love.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Gail Kittleson Interview and GIVEAWAY!

Happy Wednesday, Diamond Mine readers. Abigail here, and I am thrilled to introduce you to Gail Kittleson: WWII writer extraordinaire. She's just released her second book in the Women on the Home Front series titled With Each New Dawn. And boy is this a good one! Heartwarming and filled with period detail, With Each New Dawn shows the dangers and hardships of war, but the courage of people working together to fight evil and keep their countries safe.

AND...she's giving away a free print copy! As long as we get at least three comments, we'll randomly select the winner. So comment away.

ABOUT THE BOOK: With Each New Dawn

In war-torn London, American Kate Isaacs grieves her husband, awaits their child's birth, and welcomes her best friend Addie. But after her miscarriage, another meeting with mysterious Monsieur le Blanc launches her into Britain's Secret Operations Executive (SOE). In late 1943, Kate parachutes into Southern France to aid the Resistance.

Domingo, a grieving Basque mountain guide-turned-saboteur, meets her parachute drop, tends her injured ankle, and carries her to safety. Reunited a few months later, they discover the injured Monsieur le Blanc who, with his dying breath, reveals a secret that changes Kate's life.

In the shadow of the Waffen SS, Domingo's younger brother Gabirel is missing. While Domingo seeks Gabirel, Domingo's parish priest Pere Gaspard, creates a new identity for Kate.

As Kate and Domingo subject their mutual attraction to the cause of freedom, can mere human will and moral courage change the war's tide and forge a future for them?

Amazon, Author Website, Facebook, Twitter


What led you to write about WWII? Did you have any relatives in the war?

My journey into the WWII era started with Dottie, the heroine of my first published novel. That got me into “shell shock” for a character from WWI. And I started researching…researching…on and on. The WWII era GRABS my heart. Yes, my dad served four years, and my three uncles served in the infantry. My father-in-law also was an Alamo Scout, one of those who led the Rangers into the POW camp to rescue the Bataan death march soldiers. Gives me shivers. 

In your story you do a fantastic job of describing the unique Basque people and their language. I didn’t know much about them before reading your book. Have you ever been to that region?

I’ve been close, but not in the Department of Lot, YET!! I definitely want to go. We lived in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon for French language study before we went to Senegal, W. Africa. That’s in the Haute Loire, and also plays a role in the novel. Oh, how I wish I could relive that time - I would interview everything that moved!!

I came upon the Basque mountain guides as I learned more about how downed pilots found their way back to England. Without those trusty guides, many would not have made it. Then of course, I had to study the Basque people in general - so much wonderful folklore and a deep faith. Years ago, we visited a Basque museum in Boise, Idaho, but at that time I had no idea I’d ever be writing about a Basque WWII guide.

To aid in the war effort, would you have rather been on the home front as Addie was, or in a dangerous foreign country as a spy like Kate? 

Oh, what a great question. Hum…my answer might depend a lot on my age at the time. At Kate’s young age, I’d have been terrified to be anywhere the Gestapo and the war effort would have been much better off with me here in little old rural Iowa.

But as I’ve aged, I’ve grown more confident in who I am. So I think if I knew my particular gifts could best be used in a dangerous place, I’d go. It’s interesting how we change with age. I think for many years, people would have said I was basically quiet and non- risk-taking. But as I look back, when the time has been right, I have taken quite a few risks. 

Addie has always seemed more timid than Kate, but she still crossed the mine-infested Atlantic to help her best friend. I think I would have proven the coward on that score. 

Your description of Kate’s parachute drop was realistic. Would you or have you parachuted from a plane? Or done anything else crazy like that?

I might have done something crazy, but not from an airplane. I would have been far too motion sick, especially in those types of planes. My husband was “Airborne” in the army, and loved it. I’m trying to think what “anything else crazy like that” might be. I would have tackled the long mountain treks Kate took, for sure. 

Were any of the courageous things your characters did in the story based on true accounts?

Yes, the guiding of downed pilots and secret agents over the Pyrenees happened often during the war. So did agents parachuting behind enemy lines, as Kate did. I can’t say their experiences were based on ONE specific account, though. Many stories exist, and I attempted to meld together the facts for my scenes. 

When will book three of “Women on the Homefront” series come out?

I don’t know yet, but I hope soon, since readers are asking for closure for a few questions left in the air. This week I wrote an involved proposal for the manuscript, which is completed (I hesitate to say that, because they seem NEVER to be completed— I always end up finding things to fix no matter how close we are to publication.) Anyway, the sooner it’s published, the better. 

Any advice for aspiring writers?

Keep writing. Don’t stop to edit until you’re all the way through your story. Be faithful to your characters and your readers. For me, that means not giving them any easy ways out of trouble, and NO pat answers. Human beings suffer, that’s the plain truth. So why should our characters have it easy? 
Wow, I got on a rant there. Guess you know one of my pet peeves: unrealistic characters and plots. 

Thank you so very much, Abbie, for having me. And thanks again for reading and reviewing With Each New Dawn. I can’t over-emphasize how much that means to me. 

It was my pleasure. Thanks for coming on the Diamond Mine and sharing your stories. Can't wait to read book three!


An Iowa farm girl, Gail earned an English/Secondary Ed degree at Wartburg College and her M.A. in TESOL from the University of Northern Iowa. (A loooong time ago!)

WhiteFire Publishing released Gail's memoir, Catching Up With Daylight, in 2013. In This Together, her debut WWII ear novel, released in November, 2015. The first in her World War II series, In Times Like These, released in May 2016, and two sequels wait in the wings.

Gail instructed college expository writing and now facilitates writing workshops and edits. She and her husband split their time between Iowa and Arizona Rim Country.


Please leave a comment if you'd like a chance to win.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

YA/Sci Fi/Adventure with Emma Carrie

Hello, Miners! Welcome to a new week at the Diamond Mine. I'm (that would be Suzie) so excited to introduce you to our guest this week. When I first read Emma's stories in a critique group, I was hooked. So much so, I have continued to read her stories. And now they are out in the world so I get to share them with you.

About Emma Carrie (in her own words)

 Hi! I'm Emma Carrie—speculative fiction author, part-time introvert, and opportunist. I've explored an active coal mine, fired a Gatling gun from a Humvee, hitched a ride on a corporate jet, and wiped out on stage while modeling...just to name a few fun adventures.

I've made it a personal goal to say "yes" to opportunities that come my way...as long as they aren't immoral, unethical, or in any way violate my personal code of conduct, which includes prohibitions like consuming condiments and sour candy.

My background is in engineering, a choice largely inspired by a TV show I adored as a kid. But now I write science fiction and fantasy. All my series have been tested and approved by teens and adults who have offered helpful (sometimes emoji-laden) comments.

Regardless the genre, I love quirky characters fueled by unconquerable determination--the encouragement I hope readers take from my stories. Young or not-so-young, we all need a bit of inspiration.

Visit Emma Carrie at EmmaCarrie.com

Suzie: Welcome to the Diamond Mine, Emma, and thank you for taking the time to visit with us this week. I'm going to dive right into the questions.

With your background in engineering, what was it that drew you to writing?

Emma: My kids and outreach ministry.

I had left my engineering position to stay home with my kids, which also freed me to increasingly participate at church. There, I led outreach ministries, spoke at meetings, and wrote newsletter articles and Bible studies.

On the home front, I spent chunks of time reading books, often with gospel themes, to my kids. As my kids grew, their reading preferences switched to the action adventure, fantasy, and science fiction books their friends were reading—Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Gallagher Girls, Percy Jackson. The stories had redemptive themes, but no Christian grid.

Suzie: Have you done any interesting/fun/challenging hands-on research for your stories?

Emma: In some regards, my research predated my writing. When I was younger, I fired guns, invented sports, climbed trees, and spied on people.

My current story research includes the internet, library, people watching, and—when not one is around—I playact my action scenes. That's resulted in a few minor injuries and damage to a few household items, but for the most part, it's been fun.

Suzie: After reading some of your action scenes, I can see the potential for both injury and damage to objects around you. Some of those scenes are intense!

What does your writing routine look like?

Emma: Routine isn't a good word to describe how I write. Church ministry and family take priority, so I write in spaces of time that are left.

However, when I write, I prefer to start with an outline: a beginning, an ending, and an arc with conflict options. Though I lay out the story chronologically, my imagination develops scenes out of order. Having an outline enables me to fill in the storyline while writing in spurts.

I also involve critique partners early in the process, so each draft incorporates helpful input.

Suzie: I can honestly say I've never developed an outline for one of my stories. I'm impressed with the plotters who lay it out. It probably makes for fewer drafts than I usually end up with.

What do you do for fun when you're not writing?

Emma: I love ministry and hanging out with my family.

I'm blessed to attend an outreach-focused church that cares for people. It's fun to use my skills and energy as part of a team sharing the gospel.

Our family enjoys sports and new experiences. Cramming into a van and embarking on a new adventure—whether it's catching tadpoles, racing go-karts, or exploring a national park—has become a favorite activity.

Suzie: Sounds like lots of great fun that you might incorporate into future books.

As a newer author on the scene, what challenges have you found in writing?

Emma: I've found almost every aspect of writing, from grammar to structure, to be a challenge at first. I'm currently focusing on description and emotion—which I hope to someday master.

Suzie: On the flip side of that last question, what are some benefits or rewards you've discovered in your writing?

Emma: My skills are sharpening, and they transfer to other contexts, like writing for our church, so I'm better equipped to serve. Another benefit is the joy that comes from creating a story and sharing it with others. I'm excited to see my fiction and nonfiction promote the gospel.

Suzie: An excellent goal to have with your writing.

What drew you to young adult and speculative books?

Emma: My kids loved those genres, and I started writing fiction for them and their friends as a means of sharing the gospel in a context they're excited about.

Suzie: What an honor to share this journey with your kids. You not only write for youth, you also incorporate their input as beta readers. I loved learning this! How has working with teenagers improved your writing?

Emma: They're wonderfully honest about what they like and dislike, and their comments have led me to rewrite scenes, alter characters, and incorporate better ideas.

After giving my first manuscript to a teen, we met so she could give me feedback. She loved the story but couldn't visualize what the characters and setting looked like because I hadn't bothered to include the details. She recommended I change that.

After reviewing the next version, she said there was too much description to week through and wondered if I was bipolar.

Teens are great.

Suzie: What about you? Do you read? What's your favorite book?

Emma: The Bible aside, I read young adult science fiction and fantasy. In part, it enables me to
discuss the stories with my kids, but I also love the genres.

A favorite book is hard to pick. As a preteen, I would have selected A Wrinkle in Time. As a teen, Fahrenheit 451. Since reading my kids' favorites, I now lean toward the Harry Potter series.

Suzie: The Tacket Secret is a serial (several shorter releases before the reader gets the full story). What was your reasoning behind releasing this as a serial as opposed to one book?

Emma: Stylistic preference and learning curve.

Superhero, spy, and detective TV shows inspired this series. In general, these contain an overarching story arc, which is advanced by weekly episodes, which each have a story of their own. I think of it as a layered storytelling. I attempted to copy that style with this series.

Additionally, it's quicker and maybe easier to learn how to publish novella series (~25k words per book) than a novel series (~100k words per book) because the time involved in some steps is less. So the learning curve occurs in shorter installments, which fits into the small pockets of time I work in. After I've learned the process, I should be in a position to publish longer books while still working in small chunks of time.

Suzie: I'm a huge fan of superhero shows and movies. I like that you use the popular shows and current trends in your writing decisions.

When this series if complete, what can readers expect next?

Emma: This series may be the first "unit" for these characters. I'm playing with branching into new adventures with new villains, but that would be over a year out if it were to happen.

In the meantime, after the 7 novellas of The Tacket Secret series are published, I plan to focus on a 4-novel fantasy series I've drafted currently call The Rebel Mission. Each novel is close to 100k words, and it's allegorical pieces are powerful.

Stay tuned.

Suzie: You guys, I've gotten to peek at The Rebel Mission and you are in for a treat! It's different than the Tacket series but an engaging read that's got lots of action in it.

Emma, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to hang with us this week. I wish you the best as you continue writing and spreading the gospel through story.

Miners, here's a look at the first installment of The Tacket Secret:

Out of the Shadows (The Tacket Secret Book 1)

A teen assassin on the run. A rogue general on the hunt. And a skeptical detective sucked into the chase.

Three years ago, Emily Brelin escaped the general who trained her. She fled across the globe to Golden City, New York, where she sought anonymity and redemption. There, she found a professor who kept her location and genetic enhancements a secret.

But now her murky past is about to catch up with her.

When the professor dies, her will names Detective Victoria Tacket as the new guardian. Emily worries her secrets will be exposed, and she fears the general will kill anyone to recapture her. So rather than risk the detective's life, she plans to run away.

Detective Vick Tacket is shocked when she learns her best friend has died. She's even more stuneed when she learns her friend had a hidden dependent and named Vick—a single woman with no maternal interest—as the girl's guardian. Convinced she'd be a terrible mother, Vick plans to decline guardianship, until the teen disappears.

Vick scours the streets of Golden City, searching for Emily—but what she discovers threatens both their lives.

This book is free for Kindle Unlimited Subscribers or you can order on Amazon.

If you don't have a Kindle Unlimited subscription (or a Kindle for that matter), Emma is giving away an eBook version of Out of the Shadows. Your choice of a .mobi or .pdf version. All you have to do is leave a comment below. Tell us about your favorite YA book or even your favorite superhero. be sure to leave your email address so we can contact you if you win.

***Giveaway valid with 5 valid comments with contact information. Giveaway ends Wednesday, 5/10/17

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Have a Holly Jolly Christmas...in April!

Yes, you read that title right! And Merry Christmas to you. What's better than reading about snow and presents on a sunny April day? Today amongst the merrymaking, we have author Emily Paige Skeen. She is sharing her Christmas novella, Saving Apple Blossom Ranch. (Hence the Christmas chatter. J) And she's agreed to give away a free present, a copy of this very book! Ho, ho, ho.

PT:  Welcome, Emily! So thankful you've stopped by to spread a little holiday cheer! On such a beautiful day, describe what a perfect morning looks like to you? 

EPS:  As a stay-at-home mama of two small children, I don’t see many “perfect” mornings. I suppose an ideal writing morning for me would include complete silence, a steaming cup of coffee (that I haven’t reheated a million times), a peaceful view of nature, and ideas flowing freely in my mind.

Of course, the likelihood of that happening is slim, so I’ve learned to write around the chaos of life. Now what I consider perfect looks like this: little hands reaching for me, silly giggles interrupting my train of thought, big hugs, and sloppy kisses. Although it’s sometimes frustrating, I remind myself often that there are people in this world who would give anything to have a little one disrupting their work. And I wouldn’t trade it for a million silent mornings.  

PT:  Getting to the real message of, ahem, Christmas, what is your favorite Bible verse? 

EPS:  I have several, but one I often think of when I’m discouraged is Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It reminds me that God wants me to succeed and that He’ll give me a future better than I could possibly dream up, if I’ll only turn to Him.

PT:  What an absolutely wonderful sentiment for any time of the year! So back to Christmas, where did you get the idea for Saving Apple Blossom Ranch?

EPS:  My publisher, Prism Book Group, was doing a series called “A Cowboy Christmas.” I was born and raised in a small southern town, but I’ve never actually lived on a farm or ranch. My husband and I recently bought some land and had a house built in an area that’s mostly farmland, so we’re surrounded by livestock. Driving into town, to my daughter’s school, or anywhere else, we pass cows, horses, goats, etc. along the way.
I absolutely love remote areas, and I’ve always been intrigued by the farming lifestyle. So, I decided to pitch an idea for the Christmas series. It was contracted, and I dug my heels in.
Before beginning to write Saving Apple Blossom Ranch, I did a lot—and I mean a LOT—of research about cattle ranches, specifically those in Georgia since that’s where the story takes place. I spent many late nights researching everything from how to breed cattle to the exact responsibilities of a foreman...and anything in-between that I could find.
During the process of writing Saving Apple Blossom Ranch, I not only fell in love with Savannah and Bo, but also with ranch life in general.

PT:  Wow! You are thorough! And research always deepens a novel. Now for my fav segment. Tell 5 things fast about Emily Paige Skeen that have nothing to do with writing. And go!

1. I have an obsession with all things “old”: antique furniture, oldies music, vintage jewelry, classic literature, black and white movies and TV shows.
2. I love to shop, be pampered, and wear high heels...but I’m a country girl at heart.
3. I’d rather listen to crickets chirping than cars zooming by.
4. I hate doors being left open, especially cabinet doors.
5. I thoroughly enjoy getting scared silly by horror movies or paranormal shows.

PT:  Fans are looking forward not only to Christmas time, (only 243 days left!) but also to what your future plans are. Is there another book on the horizon? 

EPS:  Most definitely! I have a novel-length follow-up to “Saving Apple Blossom Ranch” in the works, but it may be put on hold as I dip my toes in the water of the mystery/thriller genre. I don’t want to give anything away, but I’m excited to step a bit out of my comfort zone for my next book. I’m currently praying for direction as I decide what project should get my immediate attention next.

PT: Sounds fascinating! Fans will be thrilled to see your next release. And now, it is your time. If you want to sit on that swing, in the sunshine brushed by a wisp of a breeze, your nose dug in to Christmas with Saving Apple Blossom Ranch, leave a comment and your email! We want to hear from you! And God bless us everyone.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Interview and GIVEAWAY with Sara Goff!!!

Hi guys! V. Joy Palmer here! Since we are all friends here, you guys can call me Joy. ; ) And since we are all friends, one of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends, family, the teens I mentor, and everyone else at coffee shops/bookstores. Books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination, after all. So, consider this our virtual coffee shop. I’ll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chant with today’s guest. ; )

Today, I'm super excited to introduce you to my friend, Sara Goff!!! (Here's a fun fact for your reading pleasure: Sara and I are WhiteFire Publishing buddies. We met over e-mail when WhiteFire signed me.)

Sara Goff founded the global educational charity Lift the Lid, Inc. in 2010, which supports underprivileged schools and encourages young people to exercise their creative expression through writing. Formerly a New York City fashion designer/merchandiser, Sara left her seven-year career and resolved to make a difference in the world.
Since then, Sara attended Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya. While living in Manhattan, she especially loved being a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, founded by author Ian Frazier, and for The National Arts Club’s creative writing program for students. She’s a public speaker on such topics as charity work, finding purpose in life, the writing process, and the power of the written word.
After nearly seven years living in Stockholm, Sweden and then London, England, Sara is back in the States, enjoying life in Connecticut, with her Swedish husband, their two sons, and sweet little girl...a Yorkie named Pia. Her first novel, I Always Cry at Weddings (WhiteFire Publishing), is a New York City tale about figuring out life and finding love.

You can connect with Sara on her Website, Charity, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.


So, would you order coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in our virtual coffee shop? Something else altogether? This is possibly the most important question…
Please don’t hope I’m the Mocha Frappuccino type! There was a time when I’d order coffee with milk, but ever since my first pregnancy I stopped drinking coffee and haven’t wanted to go back. I lost the taste! So, I’ve been a tea drinker the past nine years, either chamomile, mint, ginger and lemon, or green tea, my morning choice! I’m also not a big sugar person. (Sorry, again!) Sometimes I’ll add honey, but usually I prefer a little Stevia, a natural sweetener.
Hahaha! No worries! I can't drink as much coffee as I used to, so I like tea, too. Now, our second most important question of the day, if you could order anything in the world, what would it be?

Any dish? Easy. Anything with salmon: salmon with roasted veggies, salmon with lentils, salmon with polenta, salmon with lemon and capers, salmon in a dill sauce, salmon with fennel and orange slices, or a Swedish favorite, salmon with lingonberries and roasted potatoes . . . just not salmon over spinach.

Yum! I love salmon! Where is your favorite place to write? And why is that your favorite place to write?

I have a three-year-old son at home, which means I write whenever and wherever I can, sometimes even standing at the kitchen counter. Do I dare dream of writing in a quiet, inspiring setting, a comfortable place where I might have two, even three straight hours to myself? I’ll go for it.  My dream place to write would be a cherry wood paneled reading room with a fireplace. A large paned window overlooking nature would be nice, too. But what’s most important is that I stay in the world of my story in my mind.
I’ve done my fair share of counter writing, too! Life with kids. ; )  But you are so right, staying in our story is so important. So inquiring minds (myself) want to know: do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies?

Everything I am is explained by my bookish, writer tendencies, but one thing I’ve noticed is that the more I write, that is, the more years that pass, the more empathetic I become of people’s suffering, of the forgotten, and the voiceless. It would make sense that writing opens your heart and mind. Writers, in telling other people’s stories, open themselves to their pain.

Okay, I do have one “odd habit” worth mentioning. In order to save time in between caring for my boys, I eat the exact, and I mean exact, same breakfast and lunch every day of the workweek.  Breakfast is plain yogurt with banana, oats and flax seeds, and lunch is hummus with chopped raw garlic and cottage cheese (not mixed.) I’d say that’s kind of odd!
I love everything you just said! And I imagine having planned meals takes out the guesswork and stress, so that sounds good to me! What inspired you to write I Always Cry at Weddings?

My own life experiences living in New York City inspired me to write Ava’s story, but I wouldn’t have written her book if I didn’t feel a persistent need to write. The act of writing is like music in my mind. Words, their tones and rhythms, set a mood and evoke emotions the same way music can be a vehicle for reflection and change. Setting out each day to try and create something that sounds lyrical in my mind and is meaningful on paper is all the motivation I need.

I love how you’ve compared writing to music. So accurate! <3 Can you tell us what led to you writing in this genre?

I feel a calling to write about contemporary issues and struggles in our society today. I grew up reading a lot of Victorian literature, but I never had the desire to write in any other time period other than my own. So, I’d say contemporary women’s fiction is the genre in which I feel most comfortable writing. It’s like dressing in the morning. I do it without questioning whether or not I should get dressed, and I just do it, and I put on clothes that express who I am and how I feel.

Yes, yes, and yes, I love how you tackle the hard issues in I Always Cry at Weddings! What message do you hope to convey to your readers with your stories?

One message that carries through my writing is that we all seek purpose in life. Year after year that sense of being useful, influential, and in control changes. Our career paths are winding, our children grow up, we relocate, learn to let go of loved ones, and often feel we’re starting over, but through every new phase we seek purpose, because it is intrinsic to our happiness.

And then sometimes we get stuck. We become “caught up” in unhealthy habits or feel that we’re in “a rut” and going nowhere. There are lots of terms for loosing our sense of purpose – maybe because it’s easy to misplace! (Just ask Ava, our hero in search of purpose in I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS!)
I’ll admit, as we get older it becomes more difficult to change our ways and leave the safety of our routines. But I can attest, as can Ava, if we follow our heart, instead of our fears, we can trust that we’re moving in the right direction.

So much love for this right now! I know I certainly can relate! Can you tell us a little about your next project?

I’m writing the sequel to I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS. It wasn’t my original plan, but enough fans of the first book have convinced me to keep going with Ava and her search for purpose in life.

So, I have a tentative title, and I’m in the thick of Ava’s new struggles, but I have to stop myself from sharing it with you because at this point it could ALL change. Hopefully, if keep eating the same yogurt and hummus and keep writing at the kitchen counter, Book Two will be ready soon!

 *Insert frantic piglet squeals of joy here* AHHH!!! I’m so excited! This next question is near and dear to my heart. What is your favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level?

I can’t say I have one favorite verse. I’ll often hear a Bible verse from a friend or at church and think, Ah, that is my favorite verse in the Bible! Actually, it depends on what is going on in my life and what feels relevant at the moment.
John 15 1-2 (NKJV) says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
As a writer, this verse explains a lot. When I ask myself why it’s taken years to become published, and when I look at my writing today and see how my skills are ever improving, I know that it is the work of God, our Vinedresser, pruning my branches in order that they will continue to bear fruit. Every setback propels me to work harder, to become stronger, much as it is with pruning a vine.
I can see the branches in my life that aren’t bearing fruit, or worse that are draining the energy from my fruit-bearing branches. John 15 is a reminder to let God “take away” those useless or harmful parts of my life. Surrender the tasks that give me false hope, relinquish my fears and insecurities, and nurture the calling of my heart.

That just blessed me so much! Sara, that is so insightful! What are you currently reading?

I recently finished reading ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr, a beautifully written and poignant WWII story that follows the lives of a talented young German boy and an inquisitive blind French girl. I still feel gripped by their experiences throughout the war. Having little time to read, I listen to books in the car while making school runs and driving around town. The next book I’ll listen to is THE HIDDEN LIFE OF TREES by Peter Wohlleben, the choice of my book club.

Those sound amazing! I am always drawn to World War II stories.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Sara!!!  


Sara has generously offered to giveaway 1 digital copy (open worldwide) and 1 printed copy (open to US only) of I Always Cry at Weddings!!!

Ava Larson is going to bring all the other brides to tears.

Engaged to a wealthy NYC socialite's son, Ava is ready to set the city abuzz with her glamorous wedding. At least until she realizes her relationship isn't what it should be. Then, in a move as daring as a red satin dress, she does the unthinkable--she calls it all off and makes a promise to God that from now on, she'll save sex for marriage.

She's convinced the future is hers for the taking, especially when an undercover cop promises a new romance...and an unexpected friendship with the homeless guy under her stoop brightens her days.

But when her carefully balanced life teeters out of control, weddings aren't the only thing to make her cry. Ava has to figure out what life she really wants to live...and what in the world love really means.


Ava descended the concrete steps into the seasonal smell of brewing garbage, worn by the subway like a signature scent. Her blouse stuck to the sweat beading down the center of her back. Waiting for the train, she dug her cell phone out of her Prada tote. Password: josh.

With his mother micromanaging the wedding, there had hardly been any need for a maid of honor, until now. The line rang. “Come on, Maggie, pick up.”

“Hello, lovely!” Maggie’s voice brought immediate comfort, while little Melanie babbled like a hidden brook in the background.

“You two sound happy,” Ava said.

“Melanie just woke up from her nap. Listen, Ava, if you keep postponing my dress fitting, I’ll be holding your train in my bra and underwear. Now, unless stretch marks are the latest fad at weddings, your guests do not need to see mine.”

“Sorry. I just haven’t been able to focus on it, but that’s not why I’m calling. Maggie, I want Josh’s love spelled out. Is there something wrong with that?”

“Yes! Tattoos are way too permanent! Crochet it on a pillow or something. A pillow you can keep forever or sell at a garage sale. Seriously.”

“No, I’m talking about personal vows. Is it wrong that I want Josh’s feelings written out? Is it wrong that I want words I can return to…when I’m having doubts?”

“Oh.” Silence. “Whoops!” A loud clatter came through the phone. “Sorry about that. My darling Melanie grabbed the phone out of Mommy’s hand, didn’t she? I no longer decide how long I talk on the phone. Okay, so…doubts?”

You can check out my review of this awesome story here!


The author is giving away 1 digital copy (open worldwide) and 1 printed copy (open to US only) of I Always Cry at Weddings.

This giveaway is open worldwide, BUT if Rafflecopter chooses an international winner, they will receive a digital copy. The giveaway will close on April 26th, at 12:00 A.M. because Rafflecopter says.  ; ) Enter using the handy Rafflecopter here ~
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by my writerly, bookish friends! <3 See you next time!
V. Joy Palmer