Wednesday, May 30, 2018


Diamond Mine followers, Julie B Cosgrove here as your host today. Please welcome Kenyon Henry. He writes Christian YA, but if you are like me, that means I want to read it as well!  The Chronicles of Stephen are fantasy, but Biblically based.  You'll see what he means...


Tell us, Kenyon, what spurred you to write The Chronicles of Stephen?
It began as a short story, out of curiosity more than anything else. I had wondered what it would be like to read a person’s mind. It went further than that, really. I was interested in what it might be like to truly understand a person, to see the deepest parts of someone and know things about that person that even he or she might not know. As ideas began pouring out, it wasn’t long before I began wondering, could I write this story as a novel?

I studied—reading books, blogs, talking with authors and editors, and joined a writers guild. When life put the book on hold, it was always in the back of my mind. Eventually, Book 1 was out and ideas for Book 2 were already on paper to continue Stephen’s story. Now, Book 2 has barely been out a month and Book 3 is nearly ready for the editor. 


Tell us briefly about each one, including the latest.
Stephen developed abilities at the age of eighteen in a way that frightened him and made him feel like a monster. In response, he decided to leave home to do good, hoping this would make him feel normal again. 

 Book 1, Choice of the Mighty, begin with Stephen returning home to Waltz, the man who raised him, after something tragic happens, causing him to realize he needs help. Waltz helps him to understand his abilities as Stephen learns there are others like him, all of whom are descended from King David’s mighty men. Among this community, there are two groups, both of whom want Stephen to join their side. He, however, doesn’t want to take part in their war. In the end, Stephen realizes that he must make a choice. Stephen learns that some choices are hard, as it isn’t so clear in the beginning which side is good and which is bad.



Book 2, Trials of the Mighty, continues Stephen’s journey as he learns about the choice he has made. Stephen trains and studies, so that he can better control his abilities and understand this new world he has been pulled into. Still, he soon learns that even when you make the right decision, bad things can still happen. He struggles with understanding this and tries to shoulder all the responsibility for it. As he continues to help his new friends, he eventually learns that bad things happening doesn’t negate all the good in life.





Book 3, Redemption of the Mighty, (which should be out by the end of the year) takes us to the final battle between these two groups. Stephen struggles with stepping out in faith. Although he knows he has been chosen, he still struggles with feeling worthy. Eventually, he accepts his place in the battle, and takes responsibility for himself, which allows him to become the person he was always intended to be.

How do you develop your characters? Do they stem from people you know? Is it because their personalities advance the plot, or are they all floating in your brain screaming to be released?
I’ve heard it said that you should never make and author mad, because he (or she) will write you into their story and kill you. It’s funny, but does show that authors can use people they know for influence to the story. For me, I’ve done a fair bit of this. I think, at least in some way, all my characters have a bit of me or someone I know in them. This helps to make the characters more real, even for me.

I think when I started the first book as a short story, there were a few core characters that needed to be there for the plot. After it began growing and adapting, the creative juices had been opened and characters began trickling out. Now, it seems I have a hard time stopping the  birth of new characters at times.

For me, the characters drive the story. I eventually found myself changing the scenes and outline as my characters developed. At times, I would start to write a scene I had outlined only to realize that a character had taken on a life of its own and didn’t fit the action in that scene. I had to make a choice—re-arch the character to fit the purpose, force it into the mold, rewrite the scene and outcome of it, or create a new character to achieve the purpose. The last two are the only options I consider. By that point, I usually love the character and have this whole backstory in my head that governs his or actions which keeps me from re-arching him or her. And, I hate it when a character acts out of character just because the author needs it to do so.

What do you want your readers to take away from reading these Chronicles?
One, life is filled with tough choices. Often, we want to avoid those choices and simply let someone else deal with it. We each need to understand that inaction in the face of wrong is still a decision to allow that wrong to continue. Scripture says that if we know to do good and don’t, that is still evil.

Two, just because we do good doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen in life. In fact, I’ve often found that bad things come of the heels of right actions. Evil tries to stifle good. But, we must persevere, keeping our eyes on the finish line and focus on things that are good.

People will try to keep you from being who God has created your to be. He has endowed us each with a royal heritage and gifts of love and compassion. He has called us to boldly step out in faith to be light and life to a dying world.

What is next in your writing career?
Obviously, book 3 is the focus right now. Since it’s now in the editing phase, I’ll start a new project. I have been asked to write a screenplay for book 1 for speculation purposes. This will be a new type of writing endeavor that I’m looking forward to. I’ve also started tinkering with a comic book based on one of the characters from the series. And, I’d like to do a few novellas on some additional characters from Chronicles of Stephen. Eventually, however, I’m hoping to work on some projects outside of this series, too!

Where can people find your books and learn more about you?
My books are available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble in print. You can also get the ebooks from Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo, and more. Most bookstores should also be able to order them in print. You can learn more be at www.kenyonthenry.com, or any of my social media, www.facebook.com/kenyonthenry, www.instagram.com/kenyon_t, and twitter @kenyonthenry.

Thank you, Kenyon, for letting me interview you today. I know a lot of our followers will want to check them out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Interview and Giveaway with JoAnn Durgin!!

Today we have JoAnn Durgin on The Diamond Mine! Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of both of JoAnn's Julianna Desmond books!   

So, here we go with the interview!


Hi JoAnn! Welcome back to The Diamond Mine! I’m curious about why a successful writer like you decides to write some books under a pen name. How did that decision come about, and how did you pick your pen name of Julianna Desmond?


Thanks so much, Nancy! It’s been a while since I’ve visited The Diamond Mine, and I’m blessed to say I have a few more books in release now. I’ve had authors and readers question the sanity and/or wisdom of writing under a pen name. The simple answer is this: after the release of my 25th book, I was ready to try something fun and different. I’ve been creating memes on social media, and I’ve significantly grown my Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook from 1,450 followers last year to nearly 21,000 today! Only the Lord knew all those years ago when I was in college that my training in advertising would one day pay off in a unique way. The memes began a ministry all its own, but its success is slowly beginning to impact my book sales overseas.

I’ve always loved the creativity of book cover design, and I’ve always been as involved with that process as I can. In searching through photo websites, I discovered many photos of pretty girls in gorgeous dresses; the expressions on their faces, the dresses, the backgrounds of the photos…all of these things immediately drew my attention and seemed to call for their story to be told! The style of these photos is quite different from my other covers. So, the idea was “born” to write a series of unrelated, standalone books with similar titles to tie them together.

As far as my pen name, I’ve always loved the name Julianna (which combines the name Julie, my best friend from school days, with my name). Desmond just seemed to click, and it’s my same initials (JD). 

What benefits do you find in writing under a pen name?

Maybe you should ask me that after another couple of releases! Seriously, it’s simply…fun, and writing something fun relaxes me. I spent an hour on Facebook private messaging a reader one night who was convinced there was something in these pen name books that I wouldn’t put in one of my other Christian romances. Otherwise, why did I feel the need to write under a pseudonym? These books are my same writing style with my trademark humor and God-honoring romance. Since these are standalone novels, I am free to write about whatever I want—setting, professions, anything!

However, I’ve discovered it’s much more difficult to sell a book by an “unknown” author, so I quickly acknowledged Julianna Desmond is, well, me, and I linked my name to the books on Amazon so I could include them on my author page. And then found out some of my regular readers still didn’t know about them! Visibility is everything. The books have done well, and I’ve also established a Julianna Desmond Facebook author page. 

You're right! Visibility is so important. I really need to learn marketing techniques, but I'm kind of tech-challenged! :)
Tell us a little about your two Julianna Desmond books.

Both books feature heroines who are creatively talented and meet God’s “perfect match” for them. Georgia in Only A Heartbeat Away is an up-and-coming writer who is unexpectedly thrown into the spotlight of literary circles when a top critic names her soon-to-be released debut novel as brilliant and one to watch. The dress on the cover of the book is almost a character in itself. She meets her hero, Grayson, wearing that dress, and the fun ensues! If you read the book description, you’ll see what I mean. But that’s also one of the points of the book—the idea that we should not judge a book by its cover. Things are not always as they seem.

Madalina (Madi) in Only A Breath Away is the daughter of a costumer and lighting technician at the famed Met Opera in New York City. She’s literally grown up in the shadows of the famous opera house and is now waiting in the wings as the stand-in coloratura soprano hoping for her “big break.” Her hero, Julian, owns a Manhattan breakfast bistro frequented by the Metropolitan Opera singers.

What interesting story lines! 

How is your writing experience different now, so many books later, than it was when you first started?

When my debut novel, Awakening (Lewis Legacy Series, Book 1) released in late 2010, independent publishing was still rather frowned upon. I published four books with the first publisher before the rights were returned to me, effectively pushing me into publishing the books myself. That was one of the best things that ever happened, and it was a turning point in my writing career! Unlike many authors, I love marketing and advertising, and the freedom to discount the books, or offer them free, turned the tide. The books took off, and I was able to retire from my full-time paralegal position in August 2014 to write full-time.

Wow! That's awesome. I think that's really inspiring that you headed out on that path.What advice do you have for a person who may be thinking of writing a book?

Write, write, and keep writing. Get your story down on paper. You can edit it later. Keep the ideas flowing and pound that baby out. One thing I always do when I sit down to write? Pray and ask the Lord for guidance. I’ve been blessed in never once suffering from that dreaded “writer’s block.”

Great advice! What do you love best about writing?

The creativity. There’s nothing I love more than sitting down and seeing where the Lord and my imagination will lead. I’m a dedicated seat-of-the-pants author. Outlines absolutely stifle me. I love writing twists and surprises into my books, but when I first begin writing, I have no idea what will happen to my characters. Without a set plan, I have the freedom to take the journey with them, and I believe that lends immediacy and a “you are there” element to my stories.

That's so cool! You just described the way I approach writing, too. Isn't it fun?  :)
So, what is your least favorite aspect of being a writer?

The fact that I need to stop sometimes to sleep. I’m most creative in the wee hours of the morning. I’ve always been a night owl, but I need to force myself to go to bed. To be honest, reviews are the real bane of my existence as an author. I’m very sensitive and negative reviews are hurtful. I don’t allow them to discourage me, and I realize they’re inevitable as an effect of my books getting “out there” in the marketplace. On the flip side, it’s that same sensitivity that helps make me a better writer since I feel things deeply and personally.

I think most writers get hurt by negative reviews, but as you say, it's inevitable once  the books get more readers. I too am a real night owl and I love the way those quiet hours when most people are asleep seem to give rise to heightened creativity! 
How do your story ideas come to you?

Real life, newspapers, television, movies, airports, grocery stores—I always keep my eyes and ears open, and I’m an avid people watcher. Awakening is very loosely based on my story with my husband, Jim. Heart’s Design was one of my first stories that I resurrected, dusted off, edited, and released a few years ago. The “germ” of the idea came from an article in the travel section of the Philadelphia Inquirer when we lived there. Second Time Around (Lewis Legacy 2) is based on the same “real life” story of the Christian couple whose story was told onscreen (without the Christian emphasis) in The Vow. Ideas are literally everywhere!

Yes, I agree! 
Do you have a favorite character among all the ones you’ve created?

That’s a tough question for any author, especially for a romance author since it takes two, after all. I can’t name a hero without naming his heroine. However… The core character in my Lewis Legacy Series is Sam Lewis. Since his character is loosely based on my husband (we’ve been married 30 years now), Sam is incredibly special to me, and Awakening is the book of my heart, especially since it was my first published book. Sam’s younger brother, Will, is a NASA shuttle commander (his book is Pursuit, Lewis Legacy 8), and I dearly love his character. That book is truly one I doubt I’ll ever top in terms of…well, everything.

That's so sweet!  
What are you working on now?

I’m releasing Thee Will I Honor, the second book in my three-book Treasured Vow Series, on Memorial Day. Its forerunner, Thee Will I Cherish, released in August of last year. Set in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, this book’s central character, First Lieutenant Matthew Martin, is a wounded Army veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan who returns home and struggles to find a new direction and purpose. Strong family ties, humor, romance, mystery, suspense…it’s all there. I believe it’s also one of the most intense and socially relevant books I’ve ever written. I trust my readers will agree!

It sounds wonderful, and I'm sure your readers will agree! You're certainly a prolific and talented writer, and I've really enjoyed this interview. Thanks JoAnn!!
Readers, please leave a comment and you'll have a chance to win some free copies of JoAnn's books!

Here is a short bio of JoAnn, followed by her social links:

JoAnn Durgin is a USA Today Bestselling Author of over 27 contemporary Christian romance novels, including her signature Lewis Legacy Series, The Wondrous Love Series, The Treasured Vow Series, two Christmas series and standalone novels. She was voted by readers of FamilyFiction Magazine as one of the “35 Essential Christian Romance Authors” for 2018. She has also released two novels with the pen name of Julianna Desmond. A former paralegal, JoAnn lives with her family in her native southern Indiana.

JULIANNA DESMOND FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJuliannaDesmond

JOANN DURGIN SOCIAL MEDIA INFO:

Website:  www.joanndurgin.com
 
 
Twitter:  JoAnn Durgin@Gr8tReads


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Weeds or Wishes with Mary Manners

" The Small Town"



 Life Made for Heaven

Howdy, folks and welcome back to the Diamond Mine for another week of exciting chatter about Christian Fiction. I'd like you to meet a fabulous new friend of mine, Mary Manners. She hails from the beautiful state of Tennessee. In addition to being an awesome writer, she's a generous soul and offered an e-book of her latest release, Promises Renewed in exchange for a few healthy comments. Check out the giveaway details after the interview! How about we get this show on the road?

πŸ“πŸ•πŸ–πŸˆπŸπŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸπŸˆπŸ–πŸ•πŸ“πŸ“πŸ•πŸ–πŸˆπŸπŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸπŸˆπŸ–πŸ•πŸ“



Renee: Mary, are you ready?

Mary: Yep, thanks so much for hosting me today. I am thrilled to be here!

Renee: Thanks for stopping by the Mine on this glorious day. I was trying to think about what to ask you first. Writing, playing, then I thought about how I tried to write today and  I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was absolutely gorgeous outside. (Not that I could do a whole lot about it, mind you, but still...) The point is that I could not, for the life of me, concentrate on the computer, much less make sense of the words on it! Not with the warm sun shining all around me. What is your biggest challenge as an author, Mary?

Mary: That would be tough. As for me, my biggest challenge as an author is keeping my cat Colby out of my chair! No, really…protecting my writing time is a challenge. With a dog, two cats, 12 chickens, 13 fish, and a husband, there is always something that needs attention. It takes creativity to adapt to the daily challenges, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Renee: Wow. That would be tough. I don't know if I would be able to keep track of that many animals! Plus a husband? Maybe you could teach me about chickens? I want to have chickens one day. Hey, stop the snickering out there! I can hear y'all! As much as I can hear the amount of work and dedication all of this takes, I can also hear the joy in your answer. What is it about your job or jobs that you like the most? Is there anything you dislike?

Mary: How long do you have? I'm just kidding! Truly? I love the freedom. I don’t have to leave my house and battle rush hour traffic every day. I can (and sometimes do) work in my pajamas. And I can drink coffee all day long. I am my toughest boss, as I really push myself on projects. I love receiving emails from readers…so encouraging! The only thing I dislike about my ‘job’ is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to write all of the stories that are waiting to be told.

Renee: Oh, Mary, I love the way you talk about it. I know you are so grateful to have your life. As I'm sure you are aware, many, many authors dream of such. You are blessed. What is it about your home that is unique?

Mary: I grew up in Chicago but relocated to East Tennessee in my early twenties. I love the scenery of the Smoky Mountains and the small town setting, so that’s where most of my stories take place. It works for me, and readers seem to love it as well.

Renee: Ah! So that's where the small town comes from. I love the Smoky Mountains. I've only been there a time or two but I'll never forget it. I want to visit them again. They are special. What do you like to do when you aren't writing? Do you have any hobbies or anything?

Mary: Of course, I love to read (all writers should do their ‘research’). I also run marathons (a nice balance to the time sitting at my desk) and enjoy mowing the lawn and antiquing. My husband and I are closet pickers!

Renee: How fun! I grew up antiquing with my mom. Marathons, uh, no, but I love to check out auctions. They are cool. Not that I have the money to buy anything but they're still fun! I'm into fun. Speaking of that, if you could spend a week anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Mary: I would love to go out west to Montana or Wyoming and spend a week on a ranch. It is on my bucket list. I am a country girl at heart and love the outdoors.

Renee: Really? Well, I don't know about Montana, but there are some awesome ranches here in Wyoming. It depends on what kind of experience you want...fancy, dude-ish, down-home...Wyoming has it all and everywhere. Uh, except people. We don't have a lot those. More cows are wandering around than people. But you know how that is, right? You're outnumbered at your place!

Mary: (laughing) That is very true. But even with my gaggle of pets—my dog named Axel, two cats named Colby and Jax, 12 chickens (all named, of course), and 13 fish, I am trying to talk my husband into a potbellied pig, but so far no luck. Stay tuned, though…

Renee: Believe it or not, I've seen some pigs around here. No matter where you're from,  Tennessee or Chicago, I think you'd be right at home in Wyoming. I guess we'd better rap this thing up, but before we move on to the giveaway, is there a particular quote or saying that comes to mind during times of need or adversity that you can share with our readers?

Mary: “When you look at a field of dandelions you either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes…” Author Unknown. I see the wishes.

Renee: Mary, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today at the Diamond Mine. You are a blessing to Christian Fiction and I am honored to know you.

Mary: I appreciate you inviting me, Renee. To the readers, thanks so much for joining us today. I am always happy to hear from you, my reader friends. I’d love to give away an ecopy of my latest release, Promises Renewed.


πŸ“πŸ•πŸ–πŸˆπŸπŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸπŸˆπŸ–πŸ•πŸ“

E-BOOK GIVEAWAY


Comment below (on blog) to enter giveaway!
(Leave your name and email with comment to validate entry)

One winner selected by random draw on 5/23/18 from valid entries and notified via email. Prize will be awarded by Mary Manners via email within 15 days of selection and includes one e-copy version of Promises Renewed.

πŸ“πŸ•πŸ–πŸˆπŸπŸŒ²πŸŒ²πŸπŸˆπŸ–πŸ•πŸ“


About the Book:

A heartbreaking secret stands between Brianna and Jackson, and she plans to keep it that way...
When Brianna Caufield hosts an online auction to raise money for her fledgling youth center, the last thing she expects is to be matched for a date with Jackson Reed. Lured by the fame of an NFL career, the hometown hero and all-star quarterback broke off their engagement without so much as a backward glance. Now, washed-up and wiser, Jack’s come home with renewed faith and a changed heart—and he wants Brianna back. 
No matter how much she still cares for Jackson, Brianna knows the secret she harbors will destroy any chance of a future together. Can Jack find a way to coax the secret to the surface? And if he does, will forgiveness draw them closer together…or will their love be shattered forever?


About the Author:

Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime sharing her joy of writing. She has two sons, a daughter, and three beautiful grandchildren. She lives in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband Tim and their rescue dog Axel, two rescue cats, Colby and Jax, 12 chickens and 13 fish.
Mary writes stories full of faith and hope. Her books have earned multiple accolades including two Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards, the Gail Wilson Award of Excellence, the Aspen Gold, the Heart of Excellence, and the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award.
Mary loves long sunrise runs, Smoky Mountain sunsets, and flavored coffee. She enjoys connecting with reader friends through her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com.


Your Rough Diamond Miner:

Pharmacist by day, by night and any other time she can spare, Renee Blare writes Christian romantic suspense from her home in the foothills of the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming where she lives with her husband, crazy dog, and ornery cat. She loves to fish, hunt, or pick away on her old guitar…most of the time next to a mountain lake. 
Life is tough, but Renee finds great joy in it by letting the Lord lead her pen and writing about Christians and their exciting journeys. Most of these tales take place in Wyoming, God’s country. She invites you to come along for the ride and discover for yourself what it means for the wild to meet the Forgiven...
You can always find Renee at her website, blog, or on social media where she loves to interact with readers.
Website/Blog: Wyoming Walkabouts

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Traveling Abroad with Kyle Hunter + a Giveaway

It’s Wednesday, which means we’ve got another author interview for you. Today’s guest is someone I roomed with at the 2016 ACFW conference. She released her debut novel earlier this year, and it's a delight and privilege to introduce her to each of you.


Kyle Hunter

I wanted to write fiction since the age of ten. My first book was at the age of eleven, about the adventures of a frog and turtle. Though I got away from writing for many years, the desire never left me. So, in 2009 I finally dove back in. I was living in France at the time.

I love to read and write stories about strong women who still have flaws, but are ready to pursue their dreams, even if it takes them out of their comfort zone ... or their country. 

I write inspirational romance novels and women’s fiction with a twist: My characters sometimes go places. This led me to create the Love on the Move collection of novels. Readers can take a trip with them and experience their journeys. They can see how the characters’ lives unfold as they make decisions to trust God (or not) in their next steps, learning about themselves and their faith, and finding love along the way! 

I currently live in North Carolina but spent over a decade in France (where some of my books take place.) I also write non-fiction and teach French. In my free time I enjoy doing pottery and salsa dancing.

Connect with Kyle:

Website
Facebook
Twitter


SW: Welcome to the Diamond Mine, Kyle. I am thrilled you could join us and share a little about yourself, your writing journey, and your debut novel. (Readers, I should mention here that the pictures in this post are all from Kyle's personal collection).
Let’s start with a quick round of this or that. 

Cake or cookies? 

KH: Cookies, though right now I’m trying hard to be disciplined and eat the right things! I never eat “industrial” cookies anyway but have a weakness for homemade…especially chocolate-chip coconut.

SW: Oh, those sound amazing! Morning or evening?

KH: I’m definitely a morning person. I feel more energetic and mentally sharp at that time. I can be creative in the evening too but start dozing off around 10:30.


SW: That's about the same time I shut down. Chocolate or vanilla? 

KH: Absolutely chocolate!  Dark only. It’s the European influence, I guess.


SW: Painting or drawing? 

KH: To do or to admire? I’m more of an artistic type, so I’ll opt for doing! I like doing both but am only average. I think my talents must lie in other areas!


SW: My sister got the artistic genes in my family, I try and steer away from most artwork. Painting pottery is the exception. It's so relaxing to me. 
Sandals or sneakers? 

KH: Both! I try to stay active but in North Carolina where we’re blessed with wonderful spring and fall (usually) and scorching summers, sandals are preferred.

SW: That was fun! Now that we’ve learned some basics about you, let’s go a little deeper.
A Parisian cafe. Welcome to Nikki's World!
After living in France for more than a decade and now living stateside, what do you miss most about living in another country and what don’t you miss at all?  



KH: After 13 years I was ready to come back to my own country, so I don’t have any regrets there. With so many years and experiences, though, it really feels like my second home. I miss some cultural things, like the way people linger at restaurants, buy produce at the open markets (which are set up twice weekly and easy to find!) as well as the beauty of nearly everything. I guess I’m just in love with France!







SW: I loved the open markets in the book. Speaking of, in One December, the heroine takes several trips to other countries during her year in Paris. Were you able to travel like this during your time in France?


KH: Yes, I did travel, but not as much as I would have liked. I still have a very long travel list, as well as my favorites I’d like to return to repeatedly, like Provence, Greece, London, and Italy! I’m planning to write novels in all of those places! (I have one in Provence already and am about to write another in the same area.)


Peaceful street on the Ile de Saint Louis (smaller of the 2 islands in the Seine)

SW: Italy is on my bucket list! On the flip side of the previous question, what one country or place that you have not yet been to would you most like to visit? 

KH: I’d love to go to Portugal. I’ve heard wonderful things about Lisbon in particular. Also, I had one trip to Spain, but was with friends and couldn’t explore as much as I wanted to. I’d like to see Seville and Barcelona. (That may be for next year!)


Book sellers along the Seine

SW: Your book touches on the complacency the French have toward Christianity. As a Christian living in a foreign country, what did you find most difficult or surprising? 

KH: I was in France in a ministry role, so I encountered this fact daily, the French indifference to Christianity, and the attitude that it was mainly for traditional holidays, but otherwise outdated. It was surprising the number of atheists in France, and many French people consider this a French cultural trait! If you look at their religious history, it’s tragic. The Reformation began very strong but was snuffed out with 200 years of brutality and wars of religion. Today there’s some distrust of small evangelical churches and ignorance about them. Churches and Christianity are slowly growing, however. God is still at work there.



Notre Dame Cathedral
SW: Amen! You’ve published some non-fiction works. Share with us a bit about the decision and journey to fiction. 

KH: As I mentioned in my bio, I wanted to be a fiction writer since the age of 10. The decision to write non-fiction began as a desire to create something that would be useful, fun to write, able to take me back to France, and also help finance me until I could publish fiction! I write travel books for France and I blog through Oliver’s France, a website I created. I also wrote a French language book for travelers. But fiction has always been the main goal for me. I discovered I enjoy writing non-fiction too, but it doesn’t thrill me in the same way as creating a scenario and setting where characters interact with each other, with God, and with themselves, facing challenges, growing, etc. That is thrilling for me, and I’d say it is my main calling. 

SW: From cheerleaders to critique partners to beta readers, reviewers, and more, every writer has a support system behind them. Tell us a little about who makes up your team. 

KH: I live in Raleigh, NC and about a year ago we got our own ACFW chapter. I joined right away and have really enjoyed our meetings. We have speakers, encourage each other, give critiques, network, and sometimes reviews. It’s wonderful to be part of this community, because I was alone as a writer for many years. Now I feel part of a community. As a newer writer, I can learn from the experience of others. I’ve been encouraged by their helpfulness.

SW: The ability to spend time with other authors is such a blessing for authors since writing
Island in the Seine River
is so often a solitary experience. What are some of your plans for your upcoming trip to France (anyone else want to try and sneak into Kyle’s luggage)?  


KH: The last novel I wrote was called Prodigals in Provence and is my next one to be published. This takes place in a gorgeous area of Provence called the LubΓ©ron, where there are hilltop villages, vineyards, and a lot of history. I’m now planning a sort of sequel to that book, to continue the journey of the character’s best friend, Lauren. That will take place in a town called Cavaillon, in the same area. Part of my goal in going on this trip to Provence is to research for that book. Since I also have a France travel blog, I’ll take a lot of photography and video of Provence, Lyon, and Paris while I’m there. I’ll also reconnect with old friends and enjoy tearing across France from the south to the north! (and catch up on my croissant and cheese consumption!)

SW: Nikki and Mike go on very different journeys in One December. Share with us some of the motivations behind the book. 

KH: I was intrigued by the idea of two people who had known each other since childhood but come together much later as adults and as believers. That being said, Mike and Nikki were still not ready for each other. Things get started between them but they’re pulled away for a time, while all the while there’s the thread tying them together as they grow through their individual change journeys. I won’t get more detailed than that, but hopefully that will intrigue potential readers!


Arc of Triumph
SW: As we all know, reading is a personal experience. We all leave a story with different takeaways. What do you most hope your readers come away from your books with? 

KH: Hope in the growth process as well as the idea that God is really at our center as believers, and relationships are complementary, yet important. Mike and Nikki each have a different perception of relationships and how these balance with one’s relationship with God.



SW: And a reminder that while the answer we seek might not be yes or no. Sometimes the answer is wait. What are you working on now? Can we expect more travels to foreign places in future stories? 

KH: The next book to be published takes place in Provence, France. As I mentioned, the next project will be a follow-up of that book. I want to have ongoing books in the Love on the Move series, which will take readers to other places, not just France. Eventually I’d also like to write in other genres, like romantic suspense. 


Thank you for spending some time with us this week and congratulations on your debut novel. I’m looking forward to what you’ve got in store for readers next. For those wanting their first taste of Kyle's books, she's offering an eBook to one of you! Keep reading for details on the giveaway.


About the Book




Nikki has loved Mike for as long as she can remember (as early as age seven!) Mike has his own past hurts to resolve, having lost both parents in an accident when he was fourteen. He’s tried to escape those painful memories by leaving New York and starting a new life on the West Coast. New facts indicate, years later, that his parents’ deaths might not have been an accident. 

At Christmas Mike comes back to New York for the first time in three years. He and Nikki rekindle the friendship they had as children and share their newfound faith. Under a Christmas moon romantic sparks fly . . . but their mutual attraction takes an unexpected detour. 

Nikki is devastated, believing her one chance for a relationship with Mike is over. She impulsively takes a one-year teaching opportunity in Paris, so that she can face her own fears and get over Mike. 

If Mike and Nikki run away, how can they find each other again? 

Amazon // Goodreads


Giveaway

Kyle is generously offering one of our readers an eBook of One December. To enter, simply leave a comment below and let us know what country you would visit if time and money were not an issue. Be sure and let us know how to contact you if you win. Let us know you followed Kyle Hunter on social media or signed up for her newsletter to get an extra entry in the drawing. 

*Giveaway not valid with fewer than 5 unique commentors. Giveaway ends midnight EST, Tuesday, May 15, 2018.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

An Appointment with Author Lynne Chapman!


Welcome one, welcome all! I am really pumped to have y'all here! Kinda like gathering in a local hair salon, swapping stories while being clipped, dyed, or styled. So pick a dryer and here's a ten-year old gossip magazine to flip whilst I chat it up about this week's guest. Did I ever mention I love interviewing people on that I've met? I'm sure I have. (LaDonna, could ya take a little more off the back?) Anyway, I met Lynne not long ago at a writer's meeting and now, I'm pleased as punch to introduce Lynne Waite Chapman! 


PT: Hello, Lynne! So glad to have ya! Tell everyone what brought you to your occupation of words and what inspired your genre choice?

LWC: Sometime in 1999 I found a women-oriented content website needing an editor for its Hair Site. I had never been a writer but as a hairdresser I knew about hair so I applied for the position. Soon I began writing factual articles and tutorials for BellaOnline.com. It was in the discipline of composing weekly articles for the site that I learned to write. After fifteen years I transitioned to the Christian Living site and have written Bible related inspirational articles since then. Still do.
I’ve always been a reader with a special love for mysteries so it didn’t take long for me to try my hand at mystery/suspense writing.  Of course I discovered writing fiction is very different from what I was used to, but I also found a passion. As a hairdresser I’d spent my work week in close contact with people, getting to know them and hearing their stories.  Creating fictional characters became an obsession. I knew even the villains, even the unlikable people had a story springing from a heart-felt need. After a couple years experimenting I decided my hobby needed a purpose. I made the decision to finish my first novel and to get it published. Winged Publications accepted and published Heart Strings in September of 2016. I knew the story wasn’t over so Heart Beat, second in the series, was published in November 2017. I’m working on the third and final (I think) volume now. I expect it to be released in the summer of 2018.

PT: A hairdresser! Imagine that. The various occupations of writers never ceases to delight and amaze me. And we are so glad you decided to start writing. Everyone loves a good series with a little mystery. Does your novel have a Biblical springboard or angle that you thread throughout its conception?

LWC: We all wear a mask of some kind. It's the face we show the world and even our friends. Under that mask is the real person with all the expectations, fears, guilt, and doubt. It's what's under the mask that pull on our heart. A Bible verse that I kept in mind is,

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:21 ESV

The dictionary defines heartstrings as the deepest feelings; the strongest affections.

All my writing has dealt with heartstrings, beginning with my non-fiction Christian Living articles and now with fiction writing. In the Evelynton Murder series, beginning with the first book, Heart Strings, I hoped to make apparent the deepest feelings and strongest motivations of my characters. I attempted to weave those strings into a light-hearted, sometimes humorous, murder mystery.

Throughout the story, we see the strings leading from the treasure to the heart. Not physical strings, but emotional bonds leading to the focus of each life. Those strings lead straight to what each character treasures. Because of the heart strings, the treasure governs how each responds to given situations.

Heart Strings is a mystery, written for entertainment. But while reading, I hope the reader looks for the strings that bind each character's heart.

PT: Time for a sneak-peek of the novel that started it all! Ooooh! Doesn't it give you that nice 


cozy, yet creepy feeling? And it's set in good ole' Indiana. LOL This would be a super time for your favorite verse that inspires you during tough times.


LWC: Isaiah 30:21 
Whether you turn to the right or the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

There have been many Bible verses that have inspired me over the years. I think it is common among all believers that the right verse appears in our Bible reading or is heard on the radio at just the right time. This verse from Isaiah is a favorite because it reminds me I’m never alone on this journey. My Lord is always with me. And the exciting thing is that nothing I do is insignificant to him. He is specific in the way he answers, even down to which way I turn in a particular situation.  He’s always there for guidance through the hard times, and every day decisions.  He guides me away from temptations and toward what is good. All I have to do is remember to listen instead of charging ahead on my own. 

PT: Sounds like great advice! What about your writing habits? Does music play a part in your life/writing?

LWC: I’ve always loved music but find silence is just as valuable. The car radio is always tuned to a contemporary Christian worship station. I sing along and I’m sure other drivers think I’m strange when we’re sitting at a stoplight. 

Christian rock or good old fashioned rock ‘n roll inspires me for cleaning house. When I’m reading or studying it’s classical or spa atmosphere music—strictly instrumental. But when I’m writing I prefer silence. I need to be able to hear the pace of the story and the rhythm of the words hitting the page without distraction.

PT: Ah. Silence IS golden! I've got to agree with that. Now my favorite. Hold on to those plastic bonnets, readers! Tell 5 things fast about Lynne that have nothing to do with writing. Go!

LWC:
1. I’ve discovered I’m a loyal and reliable person. I’ve cared for two houseplants for more than twenty-five years—and they’re healthy!
2. I like the dark. I find it peaceful and I’m rarely afraid in it.
3. I love foggy nights.
4. I love rainstorms and distant rolling thunder that you can feel.
5. I never tire of watching reruns of British comedy.

PT. Hmmm. I sense a mystery writer by those answers! :) Thanks for being with us, Lynne! Well, folks, I'm due up for some highlights. So here are some of Lynne's highlights for you.

Giveaway: Win a copy of Lynne Waite Chapman's Heart Strings! Leave a message and your email!

Lynne's Links:

LynneChapman.com
http://www.lynnechapman.com

Amazon Author Page
https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005JJZ96M

Facebook Author Page
https://www.facebook.com/LynneWaiteChapmanAuthor/

Twitter Author Page
https://twitter.com/LWChapmanAuthor

Christian Living Site
http://ChristianLiving.bellaonline.com

Bio:

Born and raised in northeastern Indiana, Lynne Waite Chapman is a lover of small town mystery and suspense. In September of 2016, she published her first cozy mystery. Her debut novel, Heart Strings—first in the Evelynton Murder series—was a 2016 semi-finalist in the American Christian Fiction Writers Association Genesis contest. Her second novel, Heart Beat, published in 2017, continues the series.
Lynne Waite Chapman began her writing career with fifteen years of composing weekly non-fiction content for the BellaOnline.com Hair site, drawing on her thirty plus years as a hairdresser. Retiring the Hair site, she has spent the last fifteen years penning weekly content for the BellaOnline.com Christian Living site.
She is a regular contributor of devotions for several print publications, and has written articles for many church bulletins and newsletters. She has also contributed articles to numerous internet publications.
She currently resides in northern Indiana with one West Highland White Terrier.