Wednesday, May 29, 2019

A Cup of Tea with Rachel Fordham

Welcome back, friends!! I'm so glad you've come for a cup of tea (or coffee) and a chance to meet Rachel Fordham! As always, I have a pot of hot tea and platter of fresh scones with jam and clotted cream to offer you. Go ahead and curl up in a wingback chair or if you want to get fancy, I have a couple beautiful antique Victorian chairs and a settee. 

I had the blessing of meeting Rachel Fordham in person at the last ACFW conference and couldn't wait to interview her for the blog. 

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She'd pull a book from the shelf, but they'd insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn't stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

You can connect with her on Facebook at or her website

Thanks so much for joining me here today, Rachel! I am so honored to have you. So let's dive in!

Crystal: What are you reading right now?

Rachel: I just picked up Jane Kirkpatrick’s latest but haven’t started yet. Soon…I hope!

Crystal: What do you like to do when you aren’t reading or writing?

Rachel: I have six kids and we foster so sometimes we have seven. I spend a lot of time at sporting events and church activities for my kids. As a family we love playing board games, going to the beach or working on our yard. We also love taking road trips together.

Crystal: What was the best advice someone ever gave you about writing, life, or anything that strikes your fancy?
Rachel: One thing I always think of when I feel like my plot seems unbelievable is that you can make any character do anything you want as long as you give them a reason why. Often going back and giving them better cause for their actions solves my believability problems.

Rachel has a new book releasing soon called Yours Truly, Thomas. So let's talk about that for a minute. 

Yours Truly, Thomas

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people's mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more--a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn't expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny's undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring--perhaps too much--for the one who wrote it.

Crystal: Who was the most challenging character to create? What made them so difficult?
Rachel: Eliza Howell is a secondary character in Yours Truly, Thomas. She has a lot going on in her life but doesn’t get a ton of page time so trying to give readers a real sense of her was a struggle. I wanted them to sympathize with her and root for her without having her storyline take over. It was tricky but in the end, I think it came together.
Crystal: Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?
Rachel: Margaret Anders runs a boarding house in Azure Springs and is a dominant secondary character. I LOVE writing her because she’s full of wisdom but delivers her speeches in quirky ways. It’s fun pretending like I have a lot of answers!

Crystal: What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for Yours Truly, Thomas?
Rachel: Researching the dead letter office was so much fun! I had a really hard time not including more details and trivia about the office. I loved reading about the random things that came through the mail, the skills the employees possessed to be able to redirect so much mail (can you imagine all that research with no internet) and I loved reading tidbits about the real-life employees.

You can check out Yours Truly, Thomas at Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, or your favorite retailer. (I highly recommend you pre-order your copy!)

Those who leave a comment with their email address will be entered to win a copy of Rachel's first book, Hope of Azure Springs. There must be at least five different commenters for the giveaway. Comments will close June 5th at 11:59 pm EST.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Multiple interview and book giveaway with Pelican authors!

Today on The Diamond Mine, I'll be interviewing more than one author, and offering a free copy of one of each of their books. To qualify for the drawing, please leave a comment on the link at the end of the interview, with your email, and you'll be entered!
First up is Kathy Neely!
Today we're focusing on her book, "Beauty For Ashes!"

How long can he hide the truth? 

His Secret was safe until he fell in 


Nathan Drummond’s actions at the age of eighteen had devastating consequences. Writing became therapeutic, leading him into a successful career as a mystery writer. With seven novels to his credit, Nathan is rapidly becoming a household name. 

Family responsibilities force him to return to his home town , pushing him too close to painful memories. Although he’d intended the living situation to be temporary, Nathan didn’t count on falling in love. 
As guilt threatens a return of panic attacks, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly. Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret?

Hello Kathy! Welcome to the Mine. I have a few questions for you! When did you decide you wanted to write a book, and how did you get to that decision?

As an avid reader, I began writing at a time in my life when I didn’t have time to commit. I worked full time as a teacher, then later as an elementary principal while I was raising three sons. I would plug away at my manuscript then neglect it for months. Those months became years. Every now and then, I would pull it out and work on it. When retirement approached, I thought of that old, neglected manuscript. That’s when I began to take writing seriously. I joined a writing group, attended conferences, and met with two other writers weekly to critique and be critiqued. That manuscript is now my novel, The Least of These.

That's so interesting!My own pattern is similar. All my boys were grown when I started writing novels, even though I'd begun snippets of books many years earlier! 

What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

I write inspirational contemporary fiction. While I love historic fiction, and hope to write something in that genre someday, my mind continues to weave stories that are contemporary. I love to read about unconventional friendships, and that gave birth to The Street Singer. In that novel, you’ll read about the growing relationship between Trisha, a law student, and Adda, a 75 year-old street singer. I also love legal thrillers. While my novels are not that genre, you’ll find my fascination with law in The Street Singer and in Beauty for Ashes. While I wouldn’t label my novels as romance, you’ll find an element of that in each.

What do you want your readers to experience by reading your stories?

I read fiction for recreation. I want my readers to find an escape in the form of a story, one that they’ll remember long after they turn the final page. My stories reflect my Christian worldview without being preachy. My goal is to offer a clean, wholesome novel, yet one that remains authentic. 
Here’s a snippet of an e-mail from a reader regarding Beauty for Ashes. “I’m sitting in my car … Like sobbing. My. Eyes. Out!! This is a beautiful, well written story with so many layers. Guilt. Hate. Joy. Forgiveness. Wow! Very well done.” 
Authentic—that’s what I want my readers to experience.

That's wonderful! It's so gratifying to hear reader reactions like that! What do you experience when writing your stories?

I truly love writing. I can get lost in my own thoughts when planning a story. Characters become real and take on their own personality, sometimes different than I originally intended. Nathan, a novelist and the protagonist in Beauty for Ashes, describes this well. He’s explaining to Angie what writing is like for him.
Excerpt: “They are real people. I have to make myself become them. My mind lives out each scene. What would they feel? How would they react? I’m an actor playing a role, except that I have to play each role, each character. I immerse myself completely, then find words to capture it.”

Wow!! You nailed it. What a spot-on description!
So, what are you working on now?

I’m completing a novel titled True North. It’s a story about a mother’s love. After a teenage pregnancy, she gave her baby up. Twelve years later, she has another chance to be part of his life. Until the unthinkable happens. Throw in a little romance and a subtheme of astronomy.  That’s all you get. No spoiler alert.

Sounds like another great story from you! Kathy, thanks so much for being on The Diamond Mine. It's been a pleasure to host you! Okay readers, don't forget to leave a comment for Kathy at the end of the interview, using the comment link. Here's a bio, plus links for Kathy and her books:

Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These.  She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia. 

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

Beauty for Ashes purchase link:
Website –
Facebook –
Twitter -

Multiple Interview and giveaway with Pelican authors!!

Next up, we're checking in again with author Erin Unger to spotlight her new release "The Cabin." It's due out on June 14th!! Leave a comment after the interview for a chance to win a free copy! Here's a brief glimpse into the story:
Leah Kettridge’s writing career is over before the first book lands on the shelf, when a famous author has claimed she’s stolen his work. If it wasn’t for a story brainstorming luncheon with her sister, he’d have never overheard her conversation about the novel she was writing. Who will she ever trust again if not her most favorite writer? And what about the one fabulous date they had before she knew what a traitor he was?
Keenan Brinner has it all. He’s a best-selling author who’s only headed toward more greatness. And he must be the most gorgeous guy Leah’s ever seen. But he’s also a liar and a cheat.
When they end up at the same cabin to write, emotions explode. But an unexpected snowstorm traps them deep in the mountains. Is he bent on destroying her in more ways than one? How will love find them amidst all their anger and distrust?

 Sounds like an exciting read! Welcome again to the Mine, Erin! I've got a few questions for you. 

When did you decide you wanted to write a book, and how did you get to that decision?

I was 27 when I really felt God calling me to write. When I make decisions, I get to work. And that’s what I did with writing too. My first book, a YA that’ll stay hidden in a computer file forever, got me headed into the writing realm.

You've got me wondering if you'll ever decide to publish that first book! 
What is your favorite genre to write, and why?

I absolutely love to read and write suspense. Add romance to it and it makes the perfect blend. I think it’s the blood-pumping drive of excitement to get to the next page that makes me love it so much. And who doesn’t love a great love story too?

That's so true! Suspense and romance are a powerful combination. So, what do you want your readers to experience by reading your stories?

If my readers can’t put the book down long enough to get some sleep at night, then I’ve done my job. That’s my goal in every book I write.

I'm sure your stories meet that goal! 
What do you experience when writing your stories?

Writing is a difficult thing. It’s time consuming. It makes my brain hurt sometimes. And it challenges me to pray, pray, pray. But I think that’s why God chose it for me. He knew it would make me rely on Him more.

Your response makes me think of that famous Ernest Hemingway quote: "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." I've always loved that quote!
So, what are you working on now?

I have had the best year with my writing! Two of my novels released at the beginning of the year and my third book, The Cabin, comes out June 14. I’m still in the middle of preparing for its release, which involves way more than I even imagined possible before I started getting published. And then there will be two more books to release by the end of autumn. Phew…

Wow!! You're having a big year. What a treat for readers! Thanks so much for the interview, Erin! Now readers, here is a short bio, plus Erin's links:

Erin Unger was raised in the hills of Virginia, exploring abandoned houses and reading the scariest books she could find. After marrying so young it would make a great romance novel, she has enjoyed an exciting life with her hubby. But her fast-paced life sometimes rivals the suspense in her books thanks to all her mostly grown children and a couple grandkids. Her next novel, Fateful Fall, releases August 9, 2019.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Deserted Islands, Garden Gnomes, and Practicing Murder with Erin Unger + a Giveaway

This week we welcome back one of our own here at The Diamond Mine to celebrate her new release. Erin Unger has a busy book year but that's great for us readers, isn't it?

About Erin

Erin Unger was raised in the hills of Virginia, exploring abandoned houses and reading the scariest books she could find. After marrying so young it would make a great romance novel, she has enjoyed an exciting life with her hubby. But her fast-paced life sometimes rivals the suspense in her books thanks to all her mostly grown children and a couple grandkids. Her novel, Practicing Murder, releases March 29, 2019.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Suzie: Welcome, Erin! First of all, congratulations on your second book release of 2019. We’re thrilled to have you as a team member here at the Diamond Mine but also as a guest once again.

Way back in November, right before Thanksgiving, we talked about your upcoming release, Desolate Paths and got to know you a little bit. Instead of starting with some “Would you rather…” questions, I’m going to ask a few unique and interesting questions that I found have been asked at job interviews.

If you were stranded on a desert island and all of your basic needs (food, water, shelter) were taken care of, what three other things would you want with you and why?

Erin: My kindle for sure with an unlimited power supply because you can put a ton of books on it. I’d also have to have my hubby  because we do everything together and whatever I don’t think of he will.

Suzie: What was the last gift you gave someone?

Erin: I just gave my parents a cast iron dutch oven for their 46th wedding anniversary. They’re always trying new recipes and calling me to tell me how the food came out.

Suzie: How fun! I hope you also get to sample some of those new recipes once in a while. This
one cracked me up: What do you think of garden gnomes?

Erin: I think they’re so adorable! I don’t know that I’d put them in my yard, though.

Suzie: Ok, that’s it for the random job interview questions. I want to know why someone wants to know how you feel about garden gnomes, LOL! Now that we’re a little ways into spring, I’m going to veer a tiny bit away from the “What’s your favorite season question” and instead ask: What do you like and dislike most about our current season?

Erin: What I love the most about spring is the way the grass turns an emerald green here in Virginia just before everything starts to bloom. I look forward to it every year.

Suzie: What has encouraged or surprised you the first (almost) half of 2019?

Erin: My biggest surprise this year was when my son decided to move in with his best friend. He’s a full-time college student, and I assumed he’d be with us until he graduates next year. It’s so quiet at home.

Suzie: I bet it's quiet. Let’s talk books! What are you currently reading or what’s at the top of your TBR?

Erin: I like to read and review books for Christian authors so the next book on my TBR list is Color of Danger by Alexa Verde. 

Suzie: Great title, and since we're talking romantic suspense, give us your elevator pitch for Practicing Murder. (Readers: a more detailed description of the book is below).

Erin: All the money in the world couldn’t make Maddie trust Joze again. But could a stalker?

Suzie: Oh, great pitch! For those who read Desolate Paths, what might surprise or please them about Practicing Murder?

Erin: Another great but hard question. Both stories take place in New England, and I love making it a setting in my stories because of its rich culture and history, and because of the great architectural appeal of that region of the United States

Suzie: Other than the actual writing of the story, what is your favorite part of creating a book and/or its release?

Erin: This is going to be hard to believe but I absolutely love to do edits. It’s my chance to tighten up the story and add a little more spice to it.

Suzie: Edits are usually what end up stalling me. Although, I love editing/critiquing for others, so it's just my own work that hangs me up. Here’s a fun question (and with five books out in the world or in the works, it may be challenging too). Which of your heroes would you most like to date? And which of your heroines would you want to be best friends with?

Erin: Ooh, that is tough! I’d say Joze from Practicing Murder is my favorite because he’s quirky and fun. He’s also a little different from the norm with his short stature. When it comes to heroines, I’d love to be best friends with Shauna from Fateful Fall and Summer Flash Burn which come out in August and October. She’s got a lot of sass but she’s a very loyal friend who loves her besties and protects them even over her own life.

Suzie: Oh, something to look forward to! We’d love to hear what’s next for both you and for readers. Can you share a little about both?

Erin: This year is loaded for me. I’m getting ready to move again in the summer. It’s going to
be tricky doing that and continuing to keep up with releases and edits. My readers are going to get a treat in June. My next book to release is The Cabin. I’m so excited about this novella set in the isolated mountains of Vermont. I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing about two people getting trapped together in a snow storm. But what happens when they are arch enemies?

Suzie: We wish you the best with the move and ALL the bookish work you've got in store. Thank you for spending time with us this week and once again, congratulation on the release of Practicing Murder.

About Practicing Murder

Graduate student Maddie Clare is never talking to her ex-boyfriend Joze Evans or God again. Broken from her past and Joze’s betrayal, she must go home for her Aunt Lonna’s funeral. But after a run-in with a stalker, who insists Maddie knows the secret that had Aunt Lonna investigating him, she’s afraid for her life and must accept Joze’s protection. 

As the stalker draws closer, how will Maddie and Joze face the past and their love that never died? And will Maddie stay out of the stalker’s grip long enough to figure out what secret he possesses?


Erin is giving one reader an ecopy of Practicing Murder. Enter to win below!