Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Interview with Laurie Larsen

My husband met Laurie Larsen before I did, but he immediately knew we'd be good friends. And boy was he right. Laurie has become a special friend to me this past year, and I'm excited to introduce you to her.

Welcome to the Diamond mine Laurie.
Can you share a little of your writing journey? 

Jackie, thank you so much for inviting me! It's a pleasure to be here. This year, 2020, is a milestone year for me because I've been a published author for twenty years! Hard to believe. Even as a child I loved writing and reading, so I dreamed of being a writer. Back in the late 90's, when my life was busy as can be with a husband, two small children and a big busy demanding day job, I decided to add to the "crazy" and start writing a book! I plunged forward, committing an hour a day to writing, and within ten months, I had a finished book. I was lucky to find a publisher who liked it as much as I did. Lots of things have changed since then -- what I write, how I write, how fast I write. But one thing that hasn't changed ... I'm still writing! Twenty-two books later!

 How did you end up on the coast of South Carolina?
 I grew up in Illinois, and that's also where we raised our family. But every summer as a child, we went to Pawleys Island for a heavenly two weeks vacation where family members gathered from all over the country. We eventually stopped going there, but it never strayed far from my memory bank. About five years ago, we took a vacation to Myrtle Beach and I was consumed with trying to find The Old Gray Barn, the old house we used to rent on PI every year. When my husband and I found it, using just my old memories, we celebrated. That planted the seed in my mind of wanting to settle here permanently once the busy day job was done. We moved here a year ago full time.

 Why did you choose this area for a book setting? I like to include real-life images and memories in my fiction novels. They really bring the stories to life. When I made the decision to start writing related stories in a series, I knew I needed a location that I wouldn't mind spending a lot of time in. Going back to Pawleys Island just seemed to make sense.

 As a reader do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What are some books in your TBR stack?
I prefer to read fiction. Mostly contemporary, but occasionally historical. Some of the books I have on my TBR pile are The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg, The Forgiving Kind by Donna Everhart and A Southern Girl by John Warley.

Where do you read the most? Bed, chair, couch, beach?
 All the above!

Why did you decide to go into Christian fiction?
I've always been a woman of faith, but when I started writing novels I fell naturally into the romance genre. However, after writing seven novels I knew something was off. I no longer wanted to write easily forgettable love stories, with characters not remembered after the last page was turned. I wanted to write stories that glorified God, and communicated God's message to people who really needed to hear heartwarming, life-changing stories. I prayed for God's help and guidance, and it was then that my creativity and muse really took off.
Since moving to the inspirational romance genre, I've written thirteen books, two of which are award-winners. I know I'm writing the types of stories I was meant to write.

Laurie, can you share what you have planned for 2020?
I'd love to! I'm starting a brand new series called "Matchmaking Moms of Oceanview Church." It features three women who have adult children who, for one reason or another, don't have their game together when it comes to love. Being moms, they want to help. But they know they can't just openly tell their kids who to date. So they create a covert group of matchmakers who, if successful, will lead their offspring to the loves of their lives. It will be a fun, light-hearted series, kicking off with a prologue novella "Meet the Moms," three full-length novels, and then an epilogue novella which throws in an unexpected ending.

Are your books loosely related or standalones?
For this series, I'd recommend readers read the first book first to understand the premise, and the rest can be read in any order.

What has been your favorite series?
I've completed two series, and they both take place at the beach, Pawleys Island Paradise and Murrells Inlet Miracles. "PIP" was my first foray into my new beachy brand of inspirational romance so it will forevermore hold a very special place in my heart.

Which heroine is most like you?
 I'd have to point to Lesley, who is the "matriarch" of the Harrison clan who make up the Pawleys Island Paradise series. Although her life is different than mine, I relate to her the most.

Where is your favorite place to write?
When I first started writing, it had to be at my desktop computer in my office with the keyboard and the monitor and the printer, etc. I couldn't seem to start writing without all that was familiar. But now, I literally can write anywhere. I prefer writing on my laptop now, and so I'm mobile. I can write in public, at the dining room table, even in the recliner while my husband's watching TV. If the story's flowing, distractions can't bother me.
Laurie, thanks so much for joining us at The Diamond Mine. It's been a lot of fun!

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win and ebook copy of Laurie's award winning book Crescendo.

Here are some ways to reach Laurie.
website: FB: Twitter: Bookbub: Amazon Author Central: Goodreads:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Jackie Layton Reveals Her New Release!

We’re celebrating with one of our own! Jackie Layton has a new release out called Bite the Dust, a cozy mystery where secrets can be deadly. And, better yet, it’s part of a series! Who doesn’t love a good series? Let’s dive right in.

PT: Welcome Jackie! Refresh the reader's memory about yourself.

JL: I've lived my whole life in the south. Kentucky and then Georgia, back to Kentucky and now South Carolina. I’m a quick golf cart ride from the nearest beach. I love living on the coast!

PT: Tell us about your family.

JL: (laughs) I became a sports fan in order to carry on conversations with my husband and two sons. This girly girl learned to understand baseball, football, basketball, soccer and tennis and I’ve spent years cheering for my boys
PT: What was your childhood like?

JL: I loved to read and play with dolls and Barbies. Later in high school, I dreamed of stories to write. But I still didn’t pursue the dream until my youngest son was in high school. I thought, I’d better start learning or it was never going to happen.

PT: Tell us a little about your book Bite the Dust.

JL: It’s a cozy mystery set in the low country of South Carolina in a fictional town of Heywood Beach. Let me give you the blurb:

One steamy South Carolina morning, Low Country dog walker Andi Grace Scott discovers a client’s dead body. Police quickly decide she’s the prime suspect. Horrified, she knows she’ll have to turn detective if she’s going to convince them they’re barking up the wrong tree.

Proving her innocence could be a tall order. The local police never solved the hit-and-run that killed her parents; Andi Grace isn’t sure they’ll solve this crime either…not when they have a convenient suspect—one caught with the possible murder weapon in her hand. She’ll have to follow every clue and call in every favor, even if that puts her in danger.


PT: One last thing. (MY fav!) Tell us 5 things about Jackie Layton that have nothing to do with writing.

JL: 1. Do I believe in love at first sight? Yes. I think I fell in love with my husband the first day I met him. I was a greeter at my church. He opened the door, and the sun back lit him. His blue eyes twinkled, and I was a goner.
 2. I inherited my Westie from my youngest son when he went to college. Heinz and I spend hours hanging out together. We take walks and he lays by my feet when I write.
3. I have two sons who love sports. Between them and my husband, I've become a sports fan. One of my favorite shows is College Game Day on ESPN.
4. I have three adorable grandchildren who always make me smile.
5. I love music. Michael Buble, Craig Morgan, Third Day, Thomas Rhett, and too many musicians to mention.

Thanks for being with us today, Jackie. And readers, hurry to preorder Bite the Dust. It releases Feb. 28th!

Hey, y'all! Subscribe to our blog and you'll be entered to win a $25 B & N e-card! Please leave a comment for Jackie, too. She loves to hear from her readers!

Jackie Layton has been a reader as long as she can remember and has dreamed of writing for years. With encouragement from her husband and family, she’s pursuing this dream. She’s always loved visiting the coast for vacations. The beach is her happy place despite cracking her ribs while riding the waves and getting a hook stuck in her foot that required a trip to the emergency room

Her first cozy mystery Bite the Dust is set in the fictional coastal town of Heyward Beach, South Carolina. This is the first book in A Low Country Dog Walker Mystery Series.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


Good morning from the Diamond Mine. I’m delighted to have Julie Cosgrove with us today. We’ve got lots of ground to cover today, Julie.

Great to be here, DiAne. Let’s go!

.          Julie, Please tell your readers about your salvation story.

Well, it happened when I was 13. It was a rough time. My brother had married, my sister was off to college, and my parents sold our family home and moved to a condo miles away from my friends.  I was depressed and lonely.

Mom and Dad gave me a tensor lamp, which was a fold-up desk or bedside table lamp with a very intense bulb in it, for Christmas. It was the middle of winter. I was reading in bed with my covers tucked around me and fell asleep. Somehow it knocked onto my bed and the intensity of the lamp’s bulb acted like a magnifying glass titled to the sun.  As my bedding began to smolder, I remember vividly feeling a very sore throat. I felt hot and began to cough. I told myself I was getting ill and sleep was what I needed. Suddenly a booming voice yelled, “Julie Get Out. Now!!”

I was alone at the time. Mom and Dad were at a party. My room was so smoky I couldn’t see my hand, but then the smoke parted, and I saw the closed door to my bedroom. I ran out coughing, through my parent’s bedroom and opened the sliding doors. I couldn’t speak and collapsed on the balcony.

I don’t recall much after that. But evidently the neighbors saw the smoke, rushed in, and threw my burning bedding out the window.  I remember waking up with an oxygen mask on in the hospital and telling God I didn’t know why He saved me, I didn’t think I was worth very much, but since He did, then He could make my life what He wanted it to be.  I dove into the Bible over the next few weeks and absorbed it, then called a church and asked if someone could come get me on Sunday. The youth pastor did, and that day I gave my life to Christ.

Q.     As I look over the books you’ve authored, I see a great variety of genre. I began reading your series on human trafficking and was absolutely hooked on 2 a.m. reading to arrive at “The End.” Now you’re written numerous cozy mysteries that still keep me up in the wee morning hours. What stories do you like to write best? 

I love mystery and suspense. The “human trafficking stories” were a trilogy of suspense romances about a young widow and a trafficked teen both wronged by the same man and how God redeemed them, healed them, and brought godly men into their lives.

But writing mystery is my favorite. That is the genre I love to read and also watch on TV. I love the twists and turns as the amateur sleuth begins to follow the path to the killer.  There is also a sense of justice in them. But in all my books, reconciliation and mercy are the main themes because I believe God meets us in our mess and guides us out step by step until we fall into His arms. Every book I write brings out a social issues form what I hope is a Christian perspective.

Q.  And how do you create your characters? I thought I’d never find a group I liked better than the Bunco Biddies…but all the characters in your “Leaf” books keep me equally entertained. How do you grow these wonderful people?

Ah, thanks, DiAne. Not to sound facetious but I have no idea.  I’ve always developed stories in my head. As the last child of an alcoholic dad, I learned to withdraw and stay quiet. I could create the outcome for my characters when mine seemed so tumultuous and uncertain. Side note - after I accepted Christ, my Dad did a few years later. He sobered up and we had a great relationship. We’d spend hours around the kitchen table in deep theological discussions when I was going for that major in college and then while I was in seminary.

 My mom was a part of a group of ladies who all were Navy wives and clung to each other during WWII. Afterwards they met weekly for Bridge games the rest of their lives. They had known each other for over 40 years when I was invited out to have lunch with four of them one time while visiting my mom. I loved how they didn’t pull punches and interacted. That was the basis for the Bunco Biddies, though I couldn’t tell you which of my Mom’s friends resemble which Biddy in the books.

Q.  On the personal side, I know you’ve moved in the not too distant past. How do you like your new digs? Did the new scenery interrupt your creative flow? If there’s ever a lull in creativity, What is the sure-cure-fix?

It was a move from one apartment to another, which was more affordable. I like the apartment but most of my neighbors are single guys in their twenties and their lifestyles clash with my peace and quiet. The hardest has been losing both of my cats, my Beastie Boys that eased my widowhood. Buster was 19 when he passed of brain cancer, and he was my writing buddy.  Blak Kat followed him six months later at the age of 11 when his kidneys shut down. But the vet and I believe he really died of a broken heart for his lifelong friend.  It was like losing two kids, and the mourning has been long. But on the other hand, this is the first time since my college days I didn’t have to care for someone else. I must admit, it is kinda nice to be a bit selfish with my time.

Q.  I absolutely love the daily segments your publisher sends out of a related short story a few weeks before a new release. Gracious, with all the things a release requires how do you manage to dress the release up with a separate short story? And if I’m not mistaken, anyone can sign up to receive these daily stories, right? Can you please give the Diamond Mine readers that web address to sign up and receive their copy of your free stories?

Well they are a series that were serials - one small sub-chapter a day for 8-10 days leading up to the book releases. People could sign up during that time period to receive each segment in their email. However, I have three short stories on my website on the contact page, and if people sign up for my newsletter, I will send them one of their choice for free.  I wrote the short stories while the books were in edits (which usually meant a lull time of a few months).

Q.  Will you give us a little teaser of this new release? What’s the name of this one again?


Leaf Me Alone  is Book 3 of the Relatively Seeking Mysteries. Each deal with genealogy and finding lost kin.

– Four days ago, all Shannon Johnson, owner of Pampered Pets and Plants, had to worry about was Fluffy eating a fizzy antacid while under her care. Now her Bible study leader, Mrs. Perkins, is in hospice and wants Shannon and her hubby, Jayden, to travel to Florida to locate her long-lost nephew.

Time is running out for Mrs. Perkins, and someone may be spinning the minute hands to usher her into heaven. Shannon’s friend, Bailey, seeks to find out why, despite the hesitancy of the Chief Detective to investigate why people are dying in a hospice facility. Seems rather normal to him.

In the meantime, Shannon and Jayden’s search has let a possible murder know who they are and where to find them.  The nephew seems to be doing everything to keep from being found, and her husband may have lost his job in the process. This mystery is certainly becoming a relative thing!

Wow, Julie this has been a trip this morning. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with our Diamond Mine Readers. I’ve just finished reading Julie’s new “Leaf Me Alone.” Now it’s time to write a five-star review. See y’all next time. Bye for now!