Wednesday, October 27, 2021

A Hopeful mouse-sized nibble


Welcome to The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction. 

Today we have a mystery guest.


RS: Who do we have here?

Grace: Grace Hopeful. Let’s just call me Grace.

Rs. Would you mind telling us a bit about yourself?

Grace: There’s not much to tell. I know we each are given our own unique gifts.  But what on earth is one to do with the gift to gab with volume, to be able to dream with a vivid imagination on top of it all? My mouth and imagination tend to get me in some sticky situations.

RS: Care to expound a bit?

Grace: Somewhere a long life I was given some advice, a treasure. They suggested I learn to write my adventures as short stories and tell them on stage. Now I’m a writer, a speaker, and an entertainer for the Lord.

RS: I love how you’ve learned to use your gifts for Him. What is considered a short story?

Grace: A mouse-sized nibble of a novel.  

RS: Is that like a pinch in cooking?

Grace: Sort of. You must tell a complete story with all the components in a short amount of time. Like cutting the recipe in half. Think of an anti dot. No, wait an Aunty dot, no that’s not it. An oh, what’s the word? Anecdote. Well, you know, when a speaker gives an example to make a point.

RS: You often hear a minister use them in a sermon. How can these be helpful to an author?

Grace: Mine often change from me being in trouble to explaining the truth. Believe me, I’ve spent time in more than one interview with the police and that handsome Detective Justin Hardy. Writing tight and still getting all the important facts in is a key to a short story.

RS: Who is this detective?

Grace: You will need to read my short stories to find out. 😊

 Be sure and check them out in the coming week or so.

RS: I’ve read your short stories, Grace. You are a unique character. Do you think every author should write short stories?

Grace: What? You mean they don’t? Heavens! If it weren’t for short stories I wouldn’t be around. They can be used for so many things. A good laugh, a fun giveaway, to hook readers on an author—even as a teaching tool. Goodness, what wonderful practice and fun.

RS: Is that all they can be used for?

Grace. No way. You can post them on the internet. Who knows? One day you may hear one of yours in a sermon or on stage! You can send them to contest, magazines or publish several as an anthology. There are even vending machines to put them in so people can have a quick read while waiting for the train, bus, or plane. Or you can pull them out of a hat to get yourself out of trouble.  Hehehe.

RS: Now Grace, I’m not sure that the last one is a good idea. I’ve heard tell pulling stories out of a hat is what got you into a mess, to begin with.

Grace: I suppose so, at that. But in the end, they get me out of the fix.

RS: What else do we need to know about short stories?

Grace: A short story can be about anything in any genre. If done correctly and well, they can scare the pants off you or feel like a hug from a warm teddy bear. Only your imagination and the sky are the limits.

RS: You mentioned your stories and a detective. Where can we find these stories?

Grace: You can find them and others on the Lady SONshine website.

RS: Thank you so much for stopping in today Miss Grace Hopeful.

Grace: You're welcome. Thank you for having me.

RS: Be sure and read a short story today. May you be blessed with His SONshine.

Renette Steele

Lady SONshine







Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Interview with Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat, authors of Picture Imperfect!

Hi, guys! V. Joy Palmer here! Since we are all friends here, you guys can call me Joy. ;-) And one of my favorite things to do is talk with my friends at coffee shops then head to the bookstores. Yes, plural. After all, books and yummy drinks are the perfect combination! So consider this our virtual coffee shop. I'll wait a second for you to get your warm drink and a fuzzy blanket before we chat with today's guest. <3

Today we are going to pry into the private life of CHAT Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat, authors of Picture Imperfect!

For more about Hope and Alyssa, check out their pages at Mountain Brook Ink!

Interview ~

This may be the most important question I ask -- no pressure or anything, LOL! 

*drum roll*

What are you drinking in our virtual coffee house? Coffee? Tea? Hot chocolate? Something else altogether?

Hope: Tea! Sadly, I am allergic to coffee. But hot chocolate comes in a close second.

Alyssa: Coffee, and lots of it!

Good answers. ;-) If you could order anything in the world to eat (we can dream, can't we?), what would it be?

Hope: So I’m a huge fan of baklava. I’ve been known to drop everything, at fairs, and stand in line for a slice of this.

Alyssa: I love ice cream cake with a burning passion.

Double yum! Where is your favorite place to write, and why is that your favorite place?

Hope: On my couch with my fat cat by my side. He occasionally likes to sit on my lap, which heavily impedes writing progress.

Alyssa: Just like Hope, I like to write on my couch with my feet up, with fresh coffee and my young, crazy cat running laps around the living room.

Cats make great writing companions! Do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies? Safe space. ;-)

Hope: I’m really hard to watch movies with because I’m always dissecting elements of plot and character. My family likes to throw pillows or popcorn at me.

Alyssa: I like to sniff books before I buy them, haha!

LOL! I can relate! What inspired you to write PICTURE IMPERFECT? 

Hope: Alyssa and I saw a romance writing contest and talked about how we always wanted to write a book about young professionals trying to make it in the publishing world. We decided to give it a go, and have never looked back since.

How fun! What led you to write in this genre?

Hope: Alyssa and I wrote in the YA romance genre, and had noticed there aren’t many young writers contributing to the adult romance genre. I’m a sucker for Hallmark romances and we really wanted to give this genre a go. I’m so happy we did.

Alyssa: I’m so glad we did too!

That's so awesome!!! What message do you hope to convey to your readers?

Hope: It’s okay to be imperfect. And it’s okay to take time off of your day from work. Most young professionals we know work two to three jobs, so you can burn out really fast. We wanted to push back against that idea and invite times of rest and imperfection.

What a wonderful message! Can you tell us a little about your next project(s)?

Hope: Absolutely! The second in this series, FINDING HARMONY, releases in July of 2022. And if you want to see how young professionals tackle the indie music industry, we fully recommend putting it on your TBR. I also have a speculative, quirky middle grade titled THE CASSANDRA CURSE releasing in February of 2022.

Alyssa: I’m very excited for FINDING HARMONY. On my end, the second book in my YA contemporary fantasy The Wraithwood Trilogy releases in March of 2022.

I'm hooked! Do you have a favorite Bible verse or story that inspires you on a soul level? 

Hope: There are so many, but I would love to include the entire passage of Psalm 103. It has gotten me through some very dark moments and offers comfort when I feel alone.

Alyssa: That’s a great one from Hope. My silly favorite is the story of Ehud, because I, too, am left-handed.

Love the relatability of these! What are you currently reading? Inquiring minds -- mine! -- want to know! ;-)

Hope: So I’m just about to dive into an ARC of Carmen Schober’s AFTER SHE FALLS. I’m so excited to dive into this read!

Alyssa: I’m in the middle of Fractures, the second book in Rise of the Anointed by Jason C. Joyner, a wonderful Christian YA author.

These sound great!!

Thank you Hope and Alyssa for answering all of my prying questions!

Check out Hope and Alyssa's new release, Picture Imperfect

Picture Imperfect

Can a struggling career woman and a procrastinating artist save a beloved nonprofit?

 Aspiring novelist Caroline Penn expected a promotion, not a picture book assignment. But when her employer, the non-profit Helping Hope, runs into financial trouble, this book might be the solution. With the company struggling to stay afloat, she and the illustrator will need to collaborate on a strict deadline -- no problem for a workaholic like Caroline, right?

Andy Jackson, a "starving" artist, pays the bills by taking on graphic design gigs, but his perfectionism gets in the way. If only he could focus on a project for once, perhaps he could achieve his dream to make art for children for a living.

When the two are thrust together to create a book, Caroline can't seem to write for children, and Andy can't meet a deadline to save his life. As time ticks down to release day, the two must face their pasts and insecurities. If they can avoid strangling one another for long enough, they may just bring to the table what the other is missing.

If not, the fate of their careers -- and a beloved nonprofit -- hangs in the balance.

Find Picture Imperfect on Amazon and Goodreads!

See you next time, and God bless you guys!!!


~V. Joy Palmer

V. Joy Palmer loves to write romantic and comedic stories that proclaim God’s deep love for us. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and an avid blogger. In her spare time, Joy loves to sing (especially Disney songs), drink large quantities of coffee, and take flowery photos for Bookstagram. When Joy isn’t fighting with fictional people, she’s hanging out with her husband and their adorable little girl. Connect with Joy via!

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

What's new with Carrie Fancett Pagels and GIVEAWAY

by Kathleen L. Maher 


Welcome back, Carrie! You’ve been a very busy girl since we last chatted here. You’ve written (and launched) two full length novels, republished a couple of your award-winning novellas with new covers, and released at least another one ( or two?) of your stories in audio. I’m guessing I’m missing something, because I honestly can’t keep up with you! All of that, plus being an amazing critique partner and writing mentor to yours truly.

Carrie: Yes, it has been busy! Butterfly Cottage, a book of my heart – to honor my mother’s dying wishes—released in May and I’ve been amazed at how much people love this story! I had one reader say that if she could she would give it 10 stars. When I was signing books on Mackinac Island, people came up to me with tears in their eyes because the story resonated so powerfully with them! The pancreatic cancer issue and drug and alcohol addictions are real things that contemporary families deal with. And if your readers didn’t realize it—although I’ve been a historical CF romance writer up until now with Butterfly Cottage I wrote my first Contemporary Women’s Fiction! Yes, there is some romance in there, too!  The Steeplechase, Holt Medallion finalist, released on audiobook last month and the narrator did a great job. Dogwood Plantation also got audiobook treatment in 2021. And Behind Love’s Wall is releasing early November. Oh and Requilted With Love, a novella that I got the rights back to, re-released with a big revision in August!

Dogwood Plantation audiobook:

The Steeplechase audiobook :

Butterfly Cottage

Behind Love’s Wall


Requilted with Love

Can you describe for us what your typical day/week looks like, writing wise? Do you divide your schedule into fixed compartments for marketing, new writing, editing, helping others, social media, or other? Or do you follow a more que sera sera, whatever will be will be, philosophy? How DO you get so much done?

 Carrie: Thanks for having me on the blog, Kathy! I give credit to God because I certainly absolutely could not write my stories without Him! Between the RA, asthma, and migraines I pretty much write when I feel well enough to do so. It may sound a little nutty, but I prefer to write outdoors. That’s hugely problematic in Virginia with the heat, humidity, and precipitation but we have a couple of months that are really good for being outside in my ”office” on the deck. Most summers, I am up at the Straits of Mackinac but I don’t normally do a lot of writing (but I did rewrite a novel, Dogwood Plantation, there in 2020). I’m usually signing books, researching another book, and getting inspiration.

So many of your amazing stories are set in the UP (Upper Peninsula) Michigan, especially in and around Mackinac Island. You recently spent a good portion of your summer there. Care to share some highlights and why it is such a special place in your heart?

Carrie: I grew up in the Eastern Upper Peninsula and worked one magical summer on Mackinac Island. It was our country’s second National Park for good reason—a Michigan State Park now for much of the island. It’s like stepping back in time, in many ways. Summers on Mackinac are glorious and the island has its own microclimate. Even if it’s hot in other parts of Michigan, you’re in general going to be cool at the Straits. The people on the island are really special. The big fire this summer, and the islanders response to help the young couple with their wedding, made national news—this is what Mackinac is all about! Since I am a Yooper girl by birth, and since my family and friends are in the area, I feel more at home there in many ways than I do here in Virginia. (Although, BTW, my ancestors were some of the first European founders right here in the area where I now live! Full Circle!)

I had the privilege and honor of reading early drafts of both of your 2021 releases. Butterfly Cottage, (a debut in contemporary Women’s Fiction for you), and also your upcoming release in Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, Behind Love’s Wall, both of which display your incredible skill at weaving complex casts of characters struggling through unifying themes, with depth and authenticity. I’m still relishing my time spent with these characters, as their stories resonate long after that last page is turned. What for you was the hardest part of writing (almost concurrently) two full length novels set in the same general setting, while maintaining the distinctive qualities and themes of each? 

Carrie: As you know, I write in character. So I don’t generally get mixed up with the characters, but it can happen as you know haha.  Thank you for your kind words. I miss the Charbonneau ladies. I had spent three years percolating their story before it released and now I want to do a sequel. Maybe in 2022—I have a story that is meshing with a re-release of another Mackinac Island story where I got rights back. I find each character and their story has a different “take” on the island. So from their POV I see the island. Willa, the designer in upcoming Behind Love’s Wall, almost ruined the island for me—she really did for the Grand Hotel! I went to the island in character, looking through the eyes of a designer hoping to pitch a redesign! Ugh! Right now, the contemporary story I’m working on the heroine, currently named Rachel, will never be inside the Grand, will likely never make it into the fort, etc. Her view of the island is from that of. . . not saying hahahaha! No spoilers at this point!


Have you ever written a character, (hero, heroine, minor character or even villain) that was based on someone you knew personally, with details so close that you wondered if they would recognize themselves?

Carrie: Oh, you are such a bad girl to ask me that mwahaha! Yes, I have started out with characters like that and then I blow their bad points up and take them well over-the-top so they really aren’t the same as the people who inspired them. I’ve found that if there is someone who really is a character, I’m tempted to use some of their “stuff” and magnify it a hundred times! I’m waiting for you, Kathy, to include an arthritic, asthmatic, migraineur senior citizen with a teenaged son, a lady who only wears pink, to show up in one of your stories! Hey, maybe I’ll put myself in one of my contemporary Women’s Fictions in the future!


What is the highest compliment a reader ever paid you?

Carrie: Wow, I had a tearful moment this summer with my waitress on Mackinac Island. She recognized my name and told me she had read My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island and how it had really touched her soul. I got the sense that it helped her spiritual journey kick off. That’s what I hope my readers get from my stories—something that deeply touches their souls.


What do you hope readers will take away from your writing?

Carrie: My tagline is “Overcoming with God”. I want my readers to walk away with renewed hope that God will get them through their circumstances like He does my characters!


What was the hardest or most interesting research you’ve ever undertaken for a story? Did it involve travel, wearing period clothing, dialogue particulars, native flora or fauna, food, dancing…etc?
Do tell all!

Carrie: Like I mentioned, I went to the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, in character, and I told staff I was a novelist writing a story about a new interior designer coming to pitch her ideas. You’d think I’d have told them that I had super-spreading Covid and was bringing it to the Grand! The wide eyes looked about to explode (there were lawsuits filed because of the dismissal of the previous long-time designer plus he said that the former owners didn’t have the right to sell items which were his property, to the new international owners.) Whew! I was worried they might kick me out, so my son and I hurried along.


What is one thing you wish readers understood about the process of writing?

Carrie: The novel that you just read took tons and tons of hours to write. Then more time spent in critiques. Then more in edits. Then more in line edits and proofs. Then more time to promote. If you saw the original product some of your fave authors wrote--you would be shocked at the difference between that and the final product. Every publishing house is different in terms of the support they give their authors. Some have a light touch and some have a heavy hand. It takes a village, even for an independent release.


How can new readers find and connect with you?

Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over twenty Christian fiction books, including ECPA and Amazon bestsellers. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn't "cure" her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper.” Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at


Blogs: Overcoming With God and Colonial Quills

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Thank you so much for spending time here at the Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction. If I were to assign the four C’s of value to you as a diamond, (which are carat weight, color, clarity, and cut,) I would say you are a 200 carat , multi-faceted, emerald cut, clear blue diamond, but then, since your favorite color is pink, maybe I’ll say pink. At any rate, you are priceless and one of a kind, and I hope more and more readers discover what a true gem you are to Christian fiction!

Wow I love that! TY!!! I dk if my arthritic fingers could lift a 200 carat diamond no matter what color it was. But that could make an amazing gift to give back to my fantastic critique partner, Kathleen L. Maher, who is an amazing author and lovely person! Thanks for having me on DMoCF, Kathy!


GIVEAWAY: To enter, please leave a comment or question for Carrie below. Two lucky commenters will be drawn to win one of her newest releases. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so you can be notified if you are selected by random dot org for a prize.

Behind Love’s Wall

Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to go to Mackinac Island and consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. During work on a room, she discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be.

As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him—revealing hidden history—or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?

Butterfly Cottage

Three generations of women unexpectedly head out to the family's cottage at the Straits of Mackinac for a small-town Michigan summer together. Jaycie begins an Archeology internship on Mackinac Island. Her mother, Tamara, takes a break from teaching kindergarteners. And her grandmother, Dawn, struggles with a decision to sell her successful travel agency and possibly retire. Each has her own journey to pursue during this short respite time from "normal" life. One of them has a secret that will change all of their lives. Can she make this one special summer to remember or will all be devastated? Faith for family and friends will be tested, with some finally able to put the past behind them and begin anew. (Set in 2018, pre-Pandemic.)


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Meet My Friend LeAnne Bristow and a Giveaway

 Welcome, LeAnne! Friends, I know you're going to love LeAnne's story of ups and downs, priorities, and following God's plan for her life and her writing.

Hello! I’m so honored that Jackie invited me to be a guest here! I love to talk about my story…both my personal story and my book stories.

It’s funny how things work out. No matter how many times you remind yourself that God has a plan for you, when you’re walking through that valley of doubt, the shadows are overwhelming. I have to admit, I was at the bottom of the valley. Five years ago I published my debut novel with Harlequin, I had a great agent, I was on top of the world. After selling one book, I thought the second one would be a given. But it wasn’t. I got one rejection after another. I spent so much time trying to write to market, that I lost the joy of writing. And worse, I lost my confidence. I’m pretty sure my agent lost confidence in me, too.

The only thing that kept me motivated to write were the Christmas novellas I wrote for the Heartwarming Christmas Town anthologies every year. And there was one story that I wanted to tell. I’d worked on it for years. It was rejected by my editor, but it was a book I wasn’t willing to let go of. I made a dozen changes to it. I wrote it and rewrote, desperate to make it fit into the box that the publishers wanted. I finally found one small Christian press that liked the original story, the one I envisioned for it before changing it. They requested to see the full, so I spent my entire Christmas break in front of the computer.

Then, on New Years Eve, it happened. A blow-up. After two weeks of having a wife that was ignoring him, he got frustrated. I was frustrated. A huge argument ensued, and I was done. Writing was just too hard. Too many hours away from my family, too many rejections, just too much.

I’m sure my agent wasn’t surprised when I told him that except for the Christmas anthology I had already committed to, I was quitting. After all, I hadn’t submitted anything very good in over a year.

Starting in January, I dedicated myself to rebuilding my relationship with my husband and most importantly, rebuilding my relationship with God. I embarked on a new Bible study and even found a new church. Other than my Christmas story, I didn’t really write at all.

But that other story kept nagging at me. My desire to write kept growing until I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I reached out to the small press that had shown interest in the story and they were still interested. So I went back to writing, but this time, not on my terms, but God’s terms.

I loved writing again. I loved the story I was writing. Then the editor that had requested the story left and I was once again stuck with no place to go. On a whim, I sent a snippet of it to my editor at Harlequin to see if she thought it would be a fit for them. Imagine my shock when several weeks later, I got an email from her offering me a contract for my book! The book that had been rejected so many times, the book that was so near and dear to my heart was finally wanted!

When I look back, I can see that God was working in my life and my writing all along. Whether He was shutting one door or nudging me along a different path, His hand was guiding me all along. I just had be still long enough to feel it.

My May/June 2022 Heartwarming story, “His Hometown Redemption” is about a man who made a terrible mistake in his past. He can’t forgive himself and doesn’t think anyone else will ever forgive him either. In an effort to redeem himself, he travels to the small mountain town of Coronado, Arizona, to apologize to the woman who was most effected by his mistake. He never wanted to fall in love with her. Can he forgive himself in time to win her heart? And how can she trust him when she discovers that his past destroyed her future?

Friends, I'm so excited about LeAnne's story. I still remember this story from when we were critique partners, and I can't wait to see it on the shelf. I also love LeAnne's story of following where God led her. 

Also, LeAnne has offered to give one commenter a copy of Her Texas Rebel. Please US readers only. 

Here's a link to get to know LeAnne better.

LeAnne, thanks so much for taking time to visit with us today.