Wednesday, July 29, 2020

An Interview with Debut Author Kathleen Denly

Hi friend! It's time for a cup of tea and another debut author interview, so pull up a chair, grab a scone, and settle in.

Today, I have the wonderful Kathleen Denly to introduce you to as well as a GIVEAWAY to brighten your day. (Check it out all the way at the bottom!)

Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She enjoys finding the lesser-known pockets of history and bringing them to life through the joys and struggles of her characters.
Sunny southern California, a favorite setting in her stories, is also her home. She lives there with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. Always happy to hear from her readers, you can email Kathleen and follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. You might also consider joining Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to learn the latest updates, receive exclusive content, and be eligible for KRC exclusive giveaways!

Let's dive right into talking about your debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness.

CC: Who was the most challenging character to create and what made them so challenging?

KD: Alice was by far my most difficult character to write because her outward personality and external goals are so similar to Cecilia’s. On the surface they could seem the same but, their maturity levels and who they are at their core is very different. They have always been two distinct people in my mind but, figuring out how to show their differences on paper was tricky. Since Alice appeared after Cecilia, she bore the burden of distinguishing herself. I’ve been assured by readers that I did manage the task, however.

CC: I agree, you did make both Cecilia and Alice distinct characters. I never once felt they were remotely the same.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while writing this story?

KD: When researching the way mail was handled in 1854 San Francisco, I discovered a fascinating etiquette rule. To receive one’s mail most people had to stand in line for several hours. There were windows assigned to various sections of the alphabet at which men stood to receive their mail. Then there was the “ladies’ window” where the ladies waited to receive their mail. However, if the lady didn’t wish to stand in line, she could send a male to wait in her place. The trouble with this was that any gentleman standing in line at the ladies’ window was expected to give up his place to any lady arriving after him. So he was constantly moving to the back of the line. Can you imagine how long a man might wind up standing there, waiting for the very last lady to arrive before he finally reached the window? I couldn’t resist writing this into my story.

CC: That is really fascinating, and it makes me so glad I don't live in that time. I'm rather a fan of having things delivered.

What about writing in general? Does it exhaust you or invigorate you?

KD: I find writing both invigorating and exhausting. By the time I reach my word count goal each day, my mind is mush and my sentences start looking like my nine-year-old wrote them, BUT my mood is somewhere in the clouds and I feel an incredible peace that makes handling the rest of life’s struggles slightly easier. I think this is because when I write I am in constant communication with God. I begin each session with Bible study and regularly pause to ask God to show me where the next scene should lead or how a particular character should react and what Truth He wants me to shine a light on through my story.

CC: I LOVE that routine. Anytime we commune with God, whether writing or otherwise, it is so refreshing. 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

KD: Arguing with my husband. If my husband and I have had a big blowout and haven’t completely resolved things yet (because he had to go to work or I had to go somewhere before we could finish our “healthy discussion”), then I am useless. I can’t sleep, don’t want to eat and definitely cannot write until he and I are good again.

CC: As much as that stinks, I am glad that it leads you to always resolve your "healthy discussions." It's good for your marriage and for our TBR piles. ;-)

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. For all our Diamond Mine Readers, if we have five or more commenters, an e-book copy of a Waltz in the Wilderness will be given out to a random commenter. Be sure to comment by Tuesday midnight (July 28th).

Answer: What is your favorite period of time to read about? (And don't forget to leave us with your email!)

More about Waltz in the Wilderness:

She's desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help. 

Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother's death, so she'll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend's unexpected assistance is a blessing she can't refuse.

Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it's been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancée is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.

When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Interview and Giveaway with novelist Clare Revell!!!

Today we welcome prolific author Clare Revell to The Diamond Mine!! Her latest book is Down To Sleep, a romantic suspense novel, and book # 1 in the Say a Prayer series.

Saying a prayer may just be the last thing you ever do.

DC Zander Ellery isn't sure which he dislikes the most: New partners, rookie female officers, or cases he can't solve. Right now he has all three.
DC Isabel York is fresh out of uniform and out of the proverbial frying pan into the fire as her personal and professional lives clash with her first case—ten stolen works of art.
When a postcard arrives addressed to Isabel with a cryptic message on it, it's just the beginning. The mystery deepens as the first of the stolen paintings is found alongside a dead body—bound and gagged and left posed in prayer at the place depicted in the postcard.
Are nine more murders coming? Can Zander and Isabel find the missing paintings and solve the murder before another victim falls?

This sounds like a great read, Clare!  

Readers, please remember to leave a comment in order to be entered in the giveaway for a free copy of this book! 

And now for the interview!

What made you become a writer? 

I’ve always written. Dad found my school books from when I was five and they are full of rewrites of Little Red Riding Hood, usually with my own take on the story. Then at ten it was Dr Who stories. Then at twelve, Blake’s Seven stories—what I now know is called fanfic. At fourteen I wrote a book as part of English class. (That has since been published as the 3 book Signal Me series—with a LOT of additions.) I also wrote a lot of Stargate SG1 fic – some of which could well still be out on the internet somewhere under a pen name. I started adding my own characters to those shows and then it turned into just my own characters.

You were definitely made to be a writer!
What genre or genres are your books?

Usually romantic suspense… heavy on the suspense bit as I love crime fiction. And romance, so I tend to shove the two together.

That's a great mixture!
Can you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Down To Sleep is the first in the Prayer Slayer series. The continuation of the story is also available in Soul To Keep, Before I Wake and Soul To Take.
One serial killer, two police officers and ten broken commandments. Trouble stalks the dark streets of Headley Cross in a way it never has before. Streets where no one is safe and no one knows who they can trust.

Detective Constable Zander Ellery and his new, fresh out of uniform partner, Isabel York are all that stand between the killer and his victims.

How did you get the idea for the story?

This lies solely at the feet of my editor, Lisa McCaskill. She emailed me randomly, as she does. The email was along the lines of…
I was driving and a childhood prayer ran through my head. I thought of you. So here are Down To Sleep, Soul To Keep, Before I Wake, Soul To Take. Do with it what you will. So I sat and thought for half an hour, emailed her back with a basic premise and that was it.

Wow! That was quick!
Do you have a favorite character from your books, and if so, why is this your favorite?

Hmmm, that’s a bit like asking me who my fave child is out of my 3 kids… To be honest, they all are. I have one in the planning stages where something major happens and in capital 

We do get very attached to our characters, don't we?
Once you begin a story, do you write it in bursts of inspiration, or do you work steadily off an outline?

Well, the short answer is yes. I have an outline, and the characters mess it up all the time. They change their names (glares at the entire cast of the series I’m currently writing) or they decide to go off on their own and do something stupid which changes the course of the whole thing. Some books take longer to write than others. The one I’m currently doing was started back in 2009 and been ignored ever since. It may well get ignored a little longer.

I love your description on the often capricious nature of characters!
What was the most unusual inspiration you’ve ever had that resulted in a book? 

The random email from Lisa became the Say A Prayer series. A Facebook conversation became Turned.  My sisters school homework project became After The Fire (yes I kept the idea written down that long lol). A TV show where everyone’s bleeps went off during a funeral became Quinn’s Choice. And then there’s fairy stories which became Down in Yon Forest and Once Upon A Christmas.

I see that you are a prolific author! How many books have you written so far, and about how many books do you usually write in a year’s time?

I have 63 books written so far. Three of those aren’t published yet. I have about ten either planned or part written. It takes me roughly 6-8 weeks to write a book, depending on the length and how fast the plot comes. Virtually Yours at Christmas took ten days to write.

I handwrite everything first in basic note form, essentially the story in miniature, but is about three times the length of the synopsis, because I detail each chapter which is draft one.  For example, J and R go the park. Dog runs off. R finds a box containing another message. J and R go home to open box properly with O and K.

Draft two is handwriting the entire book where chapters get changed; characters do stupid stuff necessitating another 5 chapters to fix that bit before going back to the plan. Because, for example, the box contains not just a message but a teleport and they all get kidnapped by aliens and the dog sets fire to the house. But they have to be home for an important meeting on Friday. So I need 5 chapters to kill the aliens, somehow send them all home so they can be there Friday for tea with the Queen… no idea where she came from, but this is what happens.

Draft three is typing it up, where it always changes slightly again. Words get added and the story fleshed out a little and so on. It then gets edited by me and a crit partner.  The most I’ve ever written in a year is twelve – the Flowers Can Be Fatal series.

Let me get my jaw off the floor... 63 books! All I can say is WOW!!
What’s your favorite thing about being a writer?

Working from home. Picking my own hours. A two minute commute. Casting my own books with whoever I want. Downside – the pay is rubbish. The biscuit tin is next to the kettle. My desk is in the lounge, along with the TV and everyone else who happens to be home that day. My desk thus becomes home to all kinds of junk. (No, kids, my Christmas shelf on the desk does NOT count as junk. It’s revenge for you not allowing me the tree up all year long.)

Oh yes. I agree completely with your favorite things.
What are you working on now?

Several things. I’m working on a sci-fi series, the on and off one from 2009. It was three books, it’s now turned into four. Book one is complete, book two is a third done, books three and four are in pre-basic note form.
There’s one I started a while back and got shoved to the back burner.
And I have another idea or two for Zander and Isabel, which I’m kind of plotting.          

Well, may you continue to be so prolific. That gives us all more of your novels to enjoy. Thanks for the interview, Clare!

Here is a short bio and after that, social links for Clare. And don't forget to leave a comment for your chance to win a free copy!

Clare is a British author. She lives in a small town just outside Reading, England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, their three children, and unfriendly mini-panther, aka Tilly the black cat. Clare is half English and half Welsh, which makes watching rugby interesting at times as it doesn’t matter who wins.
Writing from an early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated from rewriting fairy stories through fan fiction to using her own original characters and enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children's stories. When she's not writing, she can be found reading, crocheting or doing the many piles of laundry the occupants of her house manage to make.
Her books are based in the UK, with a couple of exceptions, thus, although the spelling may be American in some of them, the books contain British language and terminology and the more recent ones are written in UK English.
The first draft of every novel is hand written.
She has been a Christian for more than half her life. She goes to Carey Baptist where she is one of four registrars.
She can be found at:
She also has a newsletter. You can sign up for it HERE. Your email never gets passed on, and you won’t be inundated with mail either. It’s four maybe five times a year.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Diggin' in the Dirt with Susan Sleeman

The Purveyor of Tomatoes?

I'm so happy to be back on the Diamond Mine, folks. It’s great to see you! It’s good to be back with the Diamond Mine. Life hasn’t been kind but then since when is life anything but? I know I can always find solace in the Lord’s fold and that’s exactly what the Diamond Mine was created to be . . . a special place. The Diamond Mine is where Words are more than letters on a page and when God speaks, all are willing to hear.
For right now though, I know an amazing suspense writer I’d like you to meet. She is known for her many crime novels and series which are dead-on for authenticity. Many don’t realize that this author is a graduate of the FBI Citizen's Academy as well as other local law enforcement academies which gives credence to the action-filled plotlines and life-like characters filling her books. If you don’t know Susan Sleeman through her books, then you may know her as host of Either way, I rest assured that you’ll love this Purveyor of Sleuth as much as I do.
When the sunsets, justice wins the day, and Susan hangs her hat in Oregon with her retired church music director of a hubby, two beautiful daughters, an incredibly special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson. She snuggles into her big comfy couch as those big doors close and keep the evil world at bay . . . at least for a while.
So— to celebrate my Diamond Mine Homecoming, please welcome Susan Sleeman to the couch! Oh, and as part of all my Gemstone Interviews, don’t forget to check out the “special information” at the end of the chat! That’s geek-speak for GIVEAWAY!!! 😉

ONWARD AND UPWARD! Let’s meet Susan now.



RB: Hi, Susan and welcome to the Diamond Mine. I’m excited to be back on board here and even more to have you as my guest! You are quite the suspense and crime author and we have so much to talk about today. How about I stop jabbering so we can get started?

SS: Wow, thanks for the introduction. You’d make a camel blush with all those fancy words. It’s me who is honored, and I’m thrilled to be here as well.

RB: You are welcome. You deserve it and more. I’d like to start out this interview by getting to know you and I’m sure the readers would like to do the same. So, Susan, if you could say one thing about yourself and your books, what would it be?

SS: First and foremost, I would want readers to know I am a Christian and love God. I hope this shows in my books. I don’t set out to write a Christian book, but my faith is such a part of my life that I can't not include it. In fact, I have written one secular series, and not including my faith and a message of hope and change was the hardest thing I have ever done as a writer.

RB: I would have to agree. I don't think I could omit the very thing in my life that gives me the strength to breathe. I wish I could hike into the mountains and breathe in that cool, clear mountain air. That's what I usually do when I need time alone with the Lord. Do you have a special place for the two of you? Or a place you'd like to visit?

SS:  Mmmm... (A brief silence ensued. Suddenly a sharp sound reverberated through the stillness when Susan snapped her fingers.) England, I've always wanted to travel to England. I'm a big BBC TV fan and I would love to visit some of the small villages I see in the shows. And my hubby's family is from Cornwall so I would like to see that area too.

RB: I love to watch BBC as well! My husband and I got hooked on a show this last year through Prime called Poldark. It was great to watch one of these shows again! My dream is to go to Scotland, my husband's homeland, well, his not so distant ancestors' homeland. ;) I should've known that man was a Scot when I met him! His hobbies gave him away - coaching and officiating USA wrestling, hunting, fishing, debating, apologetics. I liked to read and hang out with my friends at the time!
Speaking of hobbies, what do you like to do when you aren't writing and editing your awesome tales, Susan?






Leave a personal comment regarding this interview with your email address in the comment section following this post.

RULES: One winner will be selected by Renee Blare seven days from the post date of this blog from eligible entries and notified by entry email. Entrant will be selected from those residing in the United States and its territories, void where prohibited by law.


SS: Yes, I have a favorite hobby. I love to garden. Both flower and vegetable gardening. I love spending time outside, seeing God's handiwork as the flowers unfurl and the seeds sprout to produce organic fruits and vegetables for my family. To outwit squirrels who love to steal my first tomatoes and strawberries of the year., and the birds who think I have planted raspberries and blueberries just for them. Oh...and I also just plain love digging in the dirt. Maybe I didn't get enough of it as a child. LOL
And I enjoy trying out new varieties of plants. and foods. These purple tomatoes are just like God's jewels in the garden. in the garden.

RB: Diggin' in the dirt... that sounds like so much fun! I can see how that would be a great hobby. Talk about getting back to the basics! LOL
I guess we have to talk books now (winks), so . . . . turning to the writing side of your life now, what is your biggest challenge as an author?

SS: At this point in my career as an author, I have written over forty published books and another five that will never be seen. I write romantic suspense so coming up with unique and exciting plot twists is becoming a challenge. I can easily come up with an overarching plot, but the nitty-gritty details that move the story forward is getting harder for me to develop.

RB: I can see that being a challenge. And your characters?

SS: I always write in a series. So before I begin the series, I create the traits of all the main characters. I make sure they are all different in what drives them, and then I begin to ask them questions like what's your greatest fear or what do you want most in life?

RB: And in your books, they achieve these things?

SS: Sometimes, and in others, no. I do my best to create situations where their characteristics are displayed and show how they must change and grow. I put them with the lead character who is their opposite to provide instant conflict and a chance to show how they must change and grow to be their best self. Much like how we - in the real world - are challenged with dilemmas and must make similar decisions when faced with the same adversity. In many ways, I believe that makes the characters not only interesting but, for the most part, just as real.

RB: And I believe you do an amazing job at it, Susan. An amazing job! I have one last question for you and I'll let you go back to your digging in the dirt. If for some unforeseen reason you could not write anymore, what would you do? Would you continue in the "writing world" professionally?

SS: If I could not write novels, I would not have a writing career. Period. I am not at all interested in writing for other publications or short stories, etc. It's just not my thing.
So if I could no longer write, I would either retire or go into graphic design. I have basic design skills, but would have to get a degree to do it well, and that in itself would be fun and interesting for me.

RB: You sound like a determined, interesting lady and I wish you the best. Thanks for being here on the Diamond Mine with us!

SS: Thank you for allowing me to share my writing and life on your wonderful blog, Renee. I am happy to offer your readers a print copy of Seconds to Live. This is Book One in my HOMELAND HEROES series and it was just recently named a finalist in the FHL Reader's Choice Award in their Romantic Suspense Category. To enter to win the copy, just comment on this blog with your email address!



SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over forty novels with more than one million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clear with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real.
In addition to writing, Susan also hosts She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, a very special son-in-law, and an adorable grandson.

To learn more about Susan's books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies.

Or stop by any of these locations on the web.


RENEE BLARE loves to read and write. She spends her time now judging writing contests for ACFW, scribbling her thoughts in her journal, and editing for beloved friends any chance she can get.

A multi-published, bestselling author through Pelican Book Group and a pharmacist by trade, she wrote and served the down-home folks of Wyoming until afflicted in 2017 with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type 2 or Causalgia, the most painful nerve disease in the world. At this time, she struggles to write, blog, think . . . and has found a new love in the arts, but fights on.

Before her new life with severe pain arrived, she wrote any time she could spare and now prays to do so again someday. A romantic suspense author who writes with a flair of mystery, Renee is known to keep her readers guessing while constantly turning the pages. "Never a dull moment," as they like to say.

You can discover more about this creative and fascinating writer at her website:

Search her out on social media too! She's everywhere. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

A Busy Year and a YA Retelling of Daniel with Hope Bolinger

This week we welcome Hope Bollinger to the Diamond Mine. The second book in YA retelling of Daniel is coming later this month. 

A Little More About Hope

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 800 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids to HOOKED to She writes about 250-300 articles a year. Her modern-day Daniel, “Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) released in 2019, and they contracted the sequel “Den” for July 2020. Her superhero romance she co-wrote with Alyssa Roat releases from INtense Publications in September 2020. Find more about her at

Follow Hope on Social Media: @hopebolinger

SW: Now that we've gotten the short bio, let's dig deeper.

I always like to warm up with a few would you rather questions, but don’t worry, none of them are disgusting.

Would you rather be forced to sing along with or dance to every song you hear?

HB: Oh this is hard. How did you know I was an avid singer/dancer when no one is watching? I'd probably choose singing, because I'm a terrible dancer. 

SW: Would you rather be chronically underdressed or overdressed?

HB: Overdressed. I've worn prom dresses to McDonald’s before. 

SW: Would you rather lose your sight or your memories?

HB: Tricky. Probably sight. Although memories can be painful, I can't imagine life without them. 

SW: You are an author, literary agent, editor, playwright, and more. How do you balance the roles and what are the best parts of each?

HB: Besides crying and eating lots of ice cream? It’s a lot of spreadsheets and to-do lists, to make sure I don't let anything fall off the wagon. It's hard to choose a best part, because each one has something I love. I’ll try to break it down in a list.

1. Agent - I love it when a client gets a contract. Years of hard work finally pay off, and they get to hold their book baby.
2. Editor - I love helping writers hone their story. Most writers have excellent stories that just need to be brought out of their shells a little more. 
3. Author - When a reader tells you they enjoyed your story. You know that hours of writing, rewriting, editing, and marketing did not go in vain.
4. Playwright - Dialogue!! It’s so fun to get two opposite-personality characters hashing it out on stage. 

SW: What trends are you seeing, or would you like to see, in publishing?

HB: There’s a lot that can go here, but in my specific niche (MG/YA) I'm seeing more friendship stories, more diverse representation, and non-western settings. What I would LOVE to see is more neurodiverse characters and characters with chronic illnesses. In high school, I didn't see many books with characters who looked like me. I want to change that. 

SW: You have had (and will have) a full year. Can you share a little of what you’ve got going on? And what’s coming up?

HB: Ohhhh boy. Yes, I can! In addition to have eight books on submission, and having written four of them in this year alone, here are what the next 18 months look like in my life.
July 2020 - I release Den, the sequel to my modern-day Daniel trilogy 
September 2020 - I release my co-authored superhero chat fiction Dear Hero 
April 2021 - The sequel to Dear Hero titled Dear Henchman releases
August 2021 - The final book in the trilogy, Vision, gets published 
In addition to that I’m balancing podcasts, blog tours, conference speaking engagements, publishing 250-300 articles, entering contests, and doing five or so jobs. I definitely don't know how to relax. 

SW: Tell us a little more about your upcoming July release.

HB: Certainly! The trilogy essentially takes the Book of Daniel and sets it in a modern boarding school. We pick up, in Den, during Danny's junior year. A series of suicide attempts are shaking up his school. He suspects foul play, and that a murderer may possibly be on the loose. Maybe he's paranoid, or maybe he's the next victim on the hitlist. 

SW: How can we pray for you?

HB: Thank you for offering this! Definitely being able to keep my head above water. I’ve only released one book traditionally before this, and now I'm doing two back to back. It’s a lot, but hopefully, come mid-September, I can finally breathe!

SW: Thank you for spending some of your precious time with us today and congratulations on your upcoming releases.

Readers, we'd love to hear from you. Share how you relax during stressful or busy times.

More about Den 

Danny Belte barely survived his sophomore year at King's Academy, having to deal with horrible initiation practices, stomach-churning cafeteria food, and the constant threat of arson.

His junior year doesn't start off much better. Facing a series of mysterious suicide attempts that begin on day one--and a disturbing pattern that appears to connect them--Danny has a feeling something far more sinister is at play. He tries to narrow down a list of suspects as those closest to him disappear, one by one.

Can he protect his friends from a possible murderer on the loose? Or will he find himself trapped in a fate worse than a lions' den?

Available July 27, 2020. Preorder Here

And Don't Miss Book One

If you can't stand the heat, don't walk into the fire.
Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.

To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town's prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich "in crowd."

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the "popular and pretty" table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.