Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Interview with Author Linda Shew Wolf

Hi Readers! Let's welcome author Linda Shew Wolf to the Diamond Mine and hear what she's been up to! First, here's a blurb from her wonderfully crafted coming-of-age story: A Firefly Life.

It’s 1968 and Melanie is turning thirteen. It seems like everyone is growing up faster than she is, but that doesn’t stop her from being an incurable romantic. When a gorgeous new boy shows up in her boring, small town, she’ll do anything to be noticed by him.

When an unexpected sequence of events lands her the job of trusted babysitter for his unusual little sister, Melanie is thrilled to be admitted to his inner circle. But then she has to figure out what really matters—a chance to be around him or staying true to her family and her best friend.

Read this dramatic coming-of-age story and be immersed in a time of turmoil and change in the heart of one memorable young girl.

This is a treat of a book, and one that will engage readers whether they are young or old.
Today I have the distinct privilege of interviewing my beloved older sister, Linda Shew Wolf! Hello Linda!!
First let me ask you about A Firefly Life. For those who are new to your book, tell us what inspired you to write it.

My daughter was about 11 years old at the time, and I saw what she and her friends were starting to go through in order to get the attention of boys, how they wanted to grow up quickly, and wished they could be prettier and more popular. I remembered the heartache of being a young romantic girl and wishing I could look more like some of the other girls in my class who were developing faster and seemed to be getting all the attention from boys. I started out just writing one scene from the viewpoint of a girl like that, and it blossomed into a full-fledged novel.

That's a pretty rough time in a girl's life. 
How long did it take you to write the book?

I wrote it on and off for about three years, sandwiched between raising our kids and working full-time.

What delights you most about the story?

I love Melanie’s sardonic sense of humor and her good heart. It shines through even in her worst moments when she goes along with the crowd, willing to sacrifice her own sense of right and wrong to pursue the boy of her dreams.

I love that aspect, too!
Do you have a favorite character?

Melanie is my favorite, but I also love Tracy, the little autistic girl Melanie babysits. There are a few times where Tracy almost steals the show. I’m also especially fond of Jo, Melanie’s best friend.

They are all simply wonderful characters. Beautifully brought to life!
Do your story ideas usually come from pure imagination, or does a theme or an era strike you, and become the seed for a story?

Most of my story ideas come from the inner struggles of young people finding their way, but sometimes a historical era presents an interesting challenge for development. I admire a story that has a good plot but most of all, I like to see deeply into the soul of a character.

Me, too. I totally agree.
Do you have an idea of the entire story when you begin writing, or does it develop as you write?

I usually can see the shape of a story as a whole, in that I know where I want to go with it, but a lot of things happen along the way to modify that initial concept. That’s the adventure part of writing, to me—when the story starts to breathe on its own.

Do you find that your characters go in surprising directions, or are they usually just as you want them to be?

My characters surprise me quite often as they become flesh and blood before my eyes. Sometimes, it’s as if someone else is directing the movie I’m watching, and I’m just keeping the notes.

I can't help chuckling at how true that is!
As a busy person, I know you often need to take time off from your writing. During times when you’re not writing, how often do you experience ideas for new writing, or additions to works in progress?

There are definitely times when a work in progress captures my mind for awhile in the midst of other things. It’s almost painful to have to postpone sitting down to write when there is just no time.

I know what you mean. The story pulls at you and it's hard to have to resist that pull.
Hemingway said that writing was easy. You just sit at the typewriter and bleed. Do you agree with that or is writing more of an escape for you, or a relief, or a joy? How would you best describe it?

A little bloodletting ain’t so bad now and then, right? But actually, writing is all those things to me—escape, relief, joy, and frustration. The creative zone is my favorite place to be, so it’s well worth the occasional frustration of falling out of rhythm sometimes, or writing a whole scene knowing that I’ll have to dump it down the road.

How true. The creative zone is a compelling place!
What are your works in progress?

I have a novel going now about a young man who has just turned 18 and has an interesting dream life that becomes more and more his reality. I also have a period piece I’m developing, set in the 1920s, that is more of an adult level novel, a romance and psychological journey combined.

I can't wait to  read them!! Thank you, dear sister.This has been such a lovely visit with you!

Okay readers, here's an excerpt from A Firefly Life:

Well, at least today, she wouldn’t have to worry about propping her eyelids open in class. Just before the bell rang, the new boy sauntered in and headed for the last empty seat at the back of the room. He acted like he didn’t notice the way the buzzing in the room swelled to a crescendo, or the way all the heads turned toward him like starving flowers groping for the sun.

The air became electric. Melanie felt as if her hair was standing on end. She clamped her fingers around her composition book and willed all the blood in her body to flow away from her face and down her arms. Thank God, he was sitting behind her and couldn’t see her face!

This is all in Your hands now, God. You’ve got to get me through this!

Melanie had a hot-cold relationship with God. Most of the time, she barely thought about Him. She had even nodded in agreement once when Barry Muldoon explained why he was an atheist. Some of his arguments did make sense. But at times like this, when her heart was threatening to slam a hole through her chest any second, she remembered how many times God had certainly rescued her in the past.

C’mon, God,” she whispered as Mrs. Doane turned from the blackboard and looked straight at her. She held her breath. Those round, buggy eyes considered her for a moment then wavered on to the seat beside her.

“Michael Markham,” she announced. “Please take the roll this morning.”

Mike lumbered to his feet as a wave of relief spread down Melanie’s back.

“Before you start, Michael,” Mrs. Doane peered down at the sheet in her hand. “We have a new student who is not on the list.” She squinted at the name.

Melanie had been holding her breath too long and exhaled louder than she meant to. In the seat in front of her, Sue Nichols let out a nervous giggle. Then the silence in the room deepened.

“Marseilles. It’s pronounced Marsay,” a strong, musical voice rang out. In one quick motion, all heads turned toward the speaker. There he sat, drumming his fingers absently on his desk and grinning at the class. “It’s French.” He chuckled.

He has movie star written all over him.

Melanie almost wanted to shout it. A tickly feeling started in her throat, as if a scream was cooking up somewhere in there.
She watched him in shock. His eyes were drinking in all the gawking stares, collecting them like offerings in church. His gaze rested briefly on her and a funny smirk crossed his chiseled lips.

I'll bet your interest is energized now! Linda's book is available on Kindle, in paperback or audiobook!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Victoria Kimble Interview and GIVEAWAY!

Happy summer, Diamond Mine readers! Have I got a treat for you today. Victoria Kimble is on the blog to talk about her latest Middle Grade series, The Choir Girls

Filled with realistic middle school drama and a solid message, this series is perfect for tweens and teens. It's also great for parents to read who are not always aware what happens in middle school among girl friends. My daughter who is eleven thoroughly enjoyed all three available books! Can't wait for the fourth one to be released. AND...Victoria is giving away a copy of Harmony Blues to a lucky commenter! Details for the giveaway after the interview.

First, here's a bit about the books.

Summer McKidd is a bright, compassionate 7th grader. She has a good group of friends, which can be a hard feat for someone in junior high. She and her friends love to sing in their choir at school, and this is where her trouble begins. At the fall concert, her friends drag her into a mean prank and Summer is soon sentenced to nursery duty at church. When she walks into the nursery, she sees that the victim of their prank is also a volunteer. Summer begins a friendship with this girl but soon sees that she will have to choose between her group of friends and her new friend. Can Summer do what is right and keep her friends?

Sports families do not understand art, so Maddie is going to have to lie.

Maddie Ryland is an amazing volleyball player. She fits right in with her sport-centered family. But when Maddie is invited to join the Aspen Junior High Art Club, her secret dream of painting looks like it can become reality. The only problem is her parents want her to play club volleyball at the rec center. So Maddie tells her parents that her school has a club team, and she’d rather join that. Only there is no club team at the school. Maddie’s lie about the volleyball team starts an avalanche of other lies she has to tell in order to keep her spot in the art club. It’s only a matter of time until Maddie’s lies catch up with her. What will her parents say?

Brittany’s painting was chosen to be featured at the Colorado state capitol building over Christmas, and her best friend Cammie is not happy about it. In fact, Cammie becomes downright mean to Brittany. Then Cammie becomes impossible when Brittany accepts some help from Cammie’s enemy, Pilar. Brittany even finds herself as a victim of some of Cammie’s mean pranks. Not only did Brittany lose her best friend, but she has to decide whether or not to forgive Cammie when Cammie isn’t even sorry.



So glad you sat down with us today, Victoria! Let’s get started. First off, what inspired you to write middle grade fiction, specifically middle school girls?

Middle school is burned into my memory. There are a lot of things I’ve forgotten about my childhood, but I remember middle school vividly. So my heart goes out to every single kid who is entering the murky waters of seventh grade, especially the girls. I was not a popular kid during those years, so I spent a lot of time reading. Those books shaped much of my thoughts and beliefs about life. Because of that, I’ve always wanted to write stories for those kids who are deep in the trenches of middle school themselves. 

I too remember middle school well. You’ve done a fantastic job of recreating that time for me. Where did you get your ideas? Did you have any of the experiences of your characters?

I’m sure my ideas are just a product of my overactive imagination. I was in orchestra in seventh grade, then in choir from eighth grade through college, so that provided the perfect base for these stories. I loved that part of my life, from the music to the natural camaraderie that forms within a choir. I also was very involved in my church and in youth group, just like Summer in Soprano Trouble. But that’s where the similarities in my experiences end.

You were able to portray the feelings of middle schoolers so well—those hard ones that never seem to change. Were you like any of your characters in middles school? Or who do you most identify with?

I identify most with Summer. I’m the middle child with two sisters, just like her, so much of her opinions about her sisters are ones that I had back then. I also identify with her struggle to do the right thing, and especially not being very sure what the right thing is. When it comes to Maddie, I connect with her desire to be known and liked for who she really is, not for who people think she is.

Cammie is a big player in the first three books. Will we see her story in book 4?

Yes, you will! Poor Cammie. I hope you’ll get to see a bit of why she is the way she is, and I hope you enjoy the journey that she takes in that story.

I wasn’t much of a reader in middle school. Thank goodness I found that joy later. Did you read in middle school? If so, what was your favorite book?

I have always been a bookworm. When I was in middle school I spent hours and hours with The Babysitters Club series. My dad had enrolled me in a BSC book of the month club, and every month I got a package with three books. I read them over and over. In fact, when I was in ninth grade my English teacher had to tell my parents to forbid me from reading them for a while just so I could expand my horizons. I moved on from those to the Christy Miller series by Robin Jones Gunn. And other things, of course. My teacher was right. I needed to expand my reading pool.

Ah, The Babysitter’s Club. Great stories.

What would you say is your favorite Bible verse?

James 4:7 – “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” I feel like this makes things simple, when life seems complicated. It reminds me to go back to the Bible to see what God says about life, and submit to that. 

Love that verse and your words. Writing is challenging enough. What is the hardest thing about writing middle grade fiction?

The hardest thing about writing middle grade fiction is balancing the fun with the theme. I don’t want the stories to be heavy, but I also want kids to connect with them. I pray all the time, that God helps me with that balance as He inspires me to write the stories.

Any advice for aspiring writers?

A writing career is a marathon, not a sprint. If you desire to write, you should start now. They say it takes ten years to become an overnight success, so just start and keep going, especially when you don’t see any success right away. I always think of it as planting seed that will hopefully grow in the next five or ten years. If you have that mindset, then it’s easier to keep working during the long dry spells of not seeing any fruits of your labor. It’ll come, if you keep at it.

Thanks so much for being a part of the blog today and sharing your stories. Excited to read the conclusion to this fun series!


Victoria is the author of The Choir Girls series. She is a wife, a mom to three girls, a full-fledged homebody, a so-so housekeeper, a mediocre musician and has dreamed of writing her whole life. She lives at the foot of the Rockies in Littleton, Colorado and she will never take that for granted. She loves French fries, superhero TV shows and movies, and cats. She could probably love the beach if she ever spent any time there. She blogs about her stories and writing at


All you have to do is leave a comment on the blog for a chance to win! If there are at least three people who comment, we'll be picking a random winner to receive a copy of Harmony Blues. Good luck!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones: CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Crissy Crosby from Roped

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones: CHARACTER INTERVIEW: Crissy Crosby from Roped: 1.       Tell me a little about yourself (where you live, who you are, what you look like, what you hope to achieve, etc.) I raked my f...

Step into the Past with Rebecca DeMarino and Win

Welcome to another week at the Diamond Mine. Suzie here this week. I hope everyone is settling into their summer. This week, I'm excited to introduce you to Rebecca DeMarino, author of The Southold Chronicles. Stick around and find out how you can win all three paperbacks in the series.

Rebecca DeMarino writes inspirational historical romance and is the author of The Southold Chronicles (Revell). The three-book series is set in the 17th century on Long Island and is based on her real-life ninth great-grandparents who came from England on a little ship called The Swallow. Rebecca’s titles include A Place in His Heart (2014). To Capture Her Heart (2015), and To Follow Her Heart (2016). Rebecca inherited her love of baking and gardening from her mom, her love of horses and reading from her dad, and a wanderlust from both her parents!

For more information please visit her at and or tweet her @RebeccaDeMarino.

Suzie: Welcome, Rebecca. You've had a busy summer and we appreciate you stopping by today. I'm going to start with an easy question for you. Ballpoint, Uniball, or fountain pen?  

Rebecca: Uniball gel – I love how it flows!

Suzie: I'm a fan of the gel pens too. My favorite are the pilot G2 pens. Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Rebecca:  Definitely an early bird – much to my husband’s chagrin (who is not). I do my best writing in the wee hours of the morning.

Suzie: You’ve just been given a yacht. What do you name it?  

Rebecca: Writer’s Haven – because I’d want to do all my writing there!

Suzie: Oh, I like it!! Do you have any secret talents? 

Rebecca: I used to be able to ace spelling tests with my photographic memory, though I’m not certain it’s as sharp as it once was :)

Suzie: I'd blame that on technology :). Fill in the blank: Someday I want to ___________.

Rebecca: Reread all my favorite books in my library – I have over 1500! 

Suzie: I think that's something a lot of us can relate to whether it be re-reading or just getting through our TBR lists!! As an author, do you believe in writer’s block? 

Rebecca: Not that a good walk in the country can’t solve!

Suzie: Exercise is indeed good for both the brain and the body!! If you weren’t an author, what would you do for a living?  

Rebecca: In my dream-world I live on a ranch and raise Shires – descendants of the Great Black horses of old England.

Suzie: What place would you like to visit that you haven’t yet? 

Rebecca: Maybe Fiji, but the truth is, I’ve been to England twice and would go back in a minute!  

Suzie: I would visit England in a minute myself. It's on my bucket list. But if you're looking for surf and sand, Fiji would definitely fit that request! What literary character is most like you?  

Rebecca: Hmmm . . . maybe Mary Poppins because I always want to save a situation – but with Jesus as my umbrella and remembering that even when things don’t seem to be working out according to my plans, God has the big picture! BTW – have you seen the movie Saving Mr. Banks with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers? Great movie – and their portrayals perfect!

Suzie: It was a great movie! Let's switch gears and talk about your characters. Which of your characters is most like you? 

Rebecca: I would love to say Mary Horton – there’s a huge part of me in her (maybe because she’s my 9th great-grandmother!) but really she is made of much stronger stuff than me!

Suzie: Which character was the most difficult to write? 

Rebecca: Barnabas Horton. He is a Puritan who loves God and struggles after the death of his wife, whom he loved very much. But he has two little boys he loves very much as well, and must raise them. He weds Mary because he knows his children need a mother, but he can’t bring himself to love her.

Suzie: What is the craziest or most memorable thing you did in the name of research for your book(s)?

Rebecca:  I spent one whole day in a one-on-one cooking class with food historian Alice Ross on Long Island. She had a cooking studio with a 17th century hearth and we spent the entire day – from dawn to dusk - chopping wood, maintaining our fire, baking bread, and preparing and cooking meals just as they would in the 1600’s in which my series, The Southold Chronicles, is set. I wanted to feel to my core a day in the life of my heroine, Mary Horton – it was amazing!

Suzie: Wow, that sounds like hard work but a great experience! And I love the pictures!
Was there anything left out of the final draft that you would have liked to keep? 

Rebecca: The story itself remained intact – but my publisher cut the prologue, as they often do! But Revell did stylize it for me and I offer it on my website for free to those who sign up for my newsletter!

Suzie: Finally, what are you working on now?

Rebecca: I just completed my fourth novel, based on the real lives of Dolley and James Madison! I loved the research for that novel, which took me to Pennsylvania, Washington DC and the Library of Congress, James Madison’s Montpelier in Virginia, and the University of Virginia. I’ve made three trips to Montpelier, one of which was for a week where I participated in an archeology dig of the slave quarters on James Madison’s plantation. Talk about inspiring!

Suzie: Wow, sounds like readers have another fantastic read from Rebecca DeMarino ahead of them. Thank you for sharing a little bit of yourself, your characters, and your writing with us. 

Satisfying, Emotionally Rich Conclusion to The Southold Chronicles Series
It is 1664 and Patience Terry is devastated to learn that Captain Jeremy Horton's ship has been shipwrecked off the coast of Barbados, with no survivors. She had hoped that Jeremy would someday give up the sea and settle down with her in Southold, Long Island. 

Unaware his memorial service is being planned, Jeremy is rescued and aboard a British Naval Gunship with secret orders to attack New Amsterdam and claim it for the British Crown. When he makes his surprise return to Southold--and to an overjoyed Patience--it's not the happily-ever-after his beloved had hoped for. 

With a finely tuned sense for authentic historical characters and settings, Rebecca DeMarino plunges readers into the 17th century--a world of high seas and tall ships, daring journeys and yearning hearts.

Rebecca is graciously giving one reader all three books (paperback) of The Southold Chronicles. To enter, leave a comment here. You can say hi to Rebecca or just tell us what your summer vacation plans are (or where your dream vacation is if you're don't have one planned). Contest is valid only after five unique commentors. Winner will be drawn on Thursday, July 13, 2017.  You can get one bonus entry by following Rebecca on a social media platform or subscribing to her newsletter (be sure and come back here and let us know you did so).