Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Interview with Author Crystal Caudill!!!


Today we welcome blog-member Crystal Caudill who has an exciting new book out! It's book number one in her "Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age" series, and it's called "Counterfeit Love."

Before we start our interview, here's a little taste of the story:

Can this undercover agent save the woman he loves--or is her heart as counterfeit as the money he's been sent to track down?

After all that Grandfather has sacrificed to raise her, Theresa Plane owes it to him to save the family name-and that means clearing their debt with creditors before she marries Edward Greystone. But when one of the creditors' threats leads her to stumble across a midnight meeting, she discovers that the money he owes isn't all Grandfather was hiding And the secrets he kept have now trapped Theresa in a life-threatening fight for her home-and the truth.

After months of undercover work, Secret Service operative Broderick Cosgrove is finally about to uncover the identity of the leader of a nototrious counterfeiting ring. That moment of triumph turns to horror, however, when he finds undeniable proof that his former fiancee is connected. Can he really believe the woman he lovedis a wiling participant? Protecting Theresa and proving her innocence may destroy his career-but that's better than failing her twice in one lifetime.

They must form a partnership, tentative though it is. But there's no question they're both still keeping secrets-and that lack of trust, along with the dangerous criminals out for their blood, threatens their hearts, their faith, and their very survival.

Wow! Sounds wonderful, Crystal! Now, on to our interview.

What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

The flexibility of schedule and where I work is probably my favorite thing. I'm a caregiver and the seasons that slam us with intense care needs are unpredictable, unless I'm on deadline and then you can guarantee it will happen. I literally could not work a regular job at this point in my caregiving life, and God has blessed my husband with a job that allows for me to be home. He's also blessed me with an outlet and ministry that I enjoy (most days) through writing.

I'm glad you've been blessed to be able to do your writing!

Do you have a favorite book or character among your novels?

It always depends on which book I write. However, I will say that Andrew Darlington ended up being one of my favorite heroes. He's from Counterfeit Hope, book two of The Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age. He's a foot-in-his-mouth, rough-around-the-edges kind of guy. But he has a huge heart which surprised even me. He's the perfect guy for my heroine and her son.

Where do you get your ideas for a story?

I'm a huge history nerd. I love researching, visiting museums, and hearing the experiences of others. It's usually during this history dive that story ideas spark to life.

I totally understand! I love researching and learning about history and how people navigated different eras and situations.

Which comes first, the story ideas or the characters?

Again, it depends on the story. Usually characters and bits and pieces of story come together, but not anything you could really call a plot.

What is the most odd or weird inspiration you've ever had for a story?

It's not so much inspiration for a story as a story detail. In Counterfeit Love, book one of my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age, the medical school shared space with a brewery in order to keep their cadavers cold. This space also happened to be next to an incline rail. Medical students were known to grab body parts-I woudn't be surprised if they'd been dipping into the alcohol too- and wave them at the passengers as they went by. I had to include at least a mention of that in my story.

Wow! That's quite a detail!  :)

Do your characters ever take over and run off with the story or do they always behave?

My characters never behave. I'm currently on a deadline and the ending I thought I had plotted out got tossed out the window in favor of what my characters decided. I can only plot stories about 1/3 at a time, if I'm lucky, before they deviate from my original plans.

Sounds like you're a fellow seat-of-your-pants writer!

Do you ever base the qualities of your characters on yourself or people you know?

Not particularly. My characters really grow into their own person. I start off with looking at Meyers-Briggs personalities to start and then they become who they become over the course of the story. 

That's a really interesting approach!

Do you write in bursts or in a more disciplined manner? 

I try to write every single day to at least a certain point. However, my life is extremely chaotic and so I can't really have a set schedule. I have seasons of it, but the unpredictability of my life makes it difficult.

I'm sure a lot of authors can relate to that.

What do you hope that readers will take away after reading your books?

My main priority of my stories is to entertain and encourage. It's my hope that everyone will walk away feeling like they can make it through whatever challenges they are facing because they have a God bigger than anything they face. I throw my characters through the wringer and have them yanked down to their lowest. I know as a kid, seeing characters survive and thrive after what they've been through always made my challenges just a little easier to bear.

That's very true. The most memorable stories always seem to be the ones where the characters underwent extreme situations and overcame them.

What are you working on now?

The deadline for Counterfeit Faith, book three in Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age, is Sunday. This story has been met with the most time-draining challenges I've ever faced, from caregiving needs after a knee replacement surgery, Covid, and some still unexplained illness to the holidays, launching Counterfeit Love, and my own bout of Covid. Prayers are appreciated for that, but it's going to be a great story. You get to finally see Josiah Isaac's story, and bless his soul, it's a doozy.

I'm looking forward to it! Crystal, thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. This has been a fun interview!!

And readers, here is some more information about Crystal, as well as her links:

Crystal Caudill is the author of "dangerously good historical romance," with her work garnering awards from Romance Writers of America and ACFW. She is a stay-at-home mom and caregiver, and when she isn't writing, Crystal can be found playing board games with her family, drinking hot tea, or reading other great books at her home outside Cincinnati, Ohio. Find out more at



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Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Award-Winning Hollywood Screenwriter, Movie Producer, Author, Brian Godawa

I am thrilled to introduce you to a new friend! His name is Brian Godawa, and he is a multi-faceted, talented, dedicated Christian creative. Not only is he an author of novels, but he is also an acclaimed screenwriter, movie creator, and engaging speaker.

His latest book, Moses, is absolutely enthralling. Godawa's writing style is fast-paced with tons of action gamers are sure to love.

Here's a small excerpt of Brian's Bio on his website, Brian Godawa:

"Brian Godawa is the screenwriter for the award-winning feature film, To End All Wars, starring Kiefer Sutherland. It was awarded the Commander in Chief Medal of Service, Honor and Pride by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, won the first Heartland Film Festival by storm, and showcased the 2003 Cannes Film Festival Cinema for Peace. He wrote and directed the documentary Wall of Separation for PBS, Lines That Divide: The Great Stem Cell Debate for CBC Network, and School’s Out: Political Correctness Vs. Academic Freedom for Boulevard Pictures. He also adapted The Visitation by best-selling author Frank Peretti for Ralph Winter (X-Men, Wolverine).

Mr. Godawa’s scripts have won multiple awards in such screenplay competitions as Carl Sautter, The Nicholl Fellowship, Austin Heart of Film, Fade-In, Worldfest, Writer’s Network, Chesterfield Writer’s Film Project, Columbus Discovery Awards and Reader’s Digest Screenplay Competition.

He gives lectures at high schools and colleges on screenwriting, as well as the art of watching and writing movies. He has had his articles on movies and philosophy published in magazines around the world, most recently winning First Place from the EPA for his article on the philosophy of The Matrix.

His book, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom and Discernment (InterVarsity Press) is in its ninth printing, and his new book Word Pictures: Knowing God Through Story and Imagination (IVP) addresses the power of image and story in the pages of the Bible to transform the Christian life.

Mr. Godawa is a member of the Studio Task Force at Biola University; a contributing writer for CRI Journal; a founding member of Arts & Entertainment Ministries, LA; and Senior Fellow of Film for the Center for Cultural Leadership, CA."

Brian generously spent time out of his busy schedule to talk to us. Kick back, put your feet up, and join us at the Writing Cafe!

Brian has a lot of great information on his website. He offers classes and services to help you polish your scripts. There is also a demonstration of his speaking gigs and endorsements from writers, producers, and CEOs of movie companies.

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Karla Akins is an award-winning author and educator. She currently teaches writing classes and special

education online on Outschool and on Takelessons. Learn more about taking classes from Karla at her website at

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

From City to Country, Beverly Varnado Lives Her Best Creative Life

 This week, we welcome Beverly Varnado to The Diamond Mine. Here is her official introduction:

Award winning Southern writer, Beverly Varnado, is a novelist, screenwriter, and blogger who writes to give readers hope in the redemptive purposes of God.

She has written a nonfiction memoir as well as several novels and screenplays, one of which was a finalist for the prestigious Kairos Prize in Screenwriting. The novella, A Season for Everything, is the third work in a series set in Worthville, Georgia. Previous novels set there are A Key to Everything and A Plan for Everything. Her work is also included in several anthologies and periodicals. As an artist, her work was recently chosen for exhibit at a State University.

She lives in Georgia with her husband, Jerry, and their chocolate Aussiedor who is outnumbered by several cats. Beverly is Mom to three children and Mimi to two grandchildren.

Readers may find me at One Ringing Bell, peals of words on faith, living, writing, and art at

Also at , on my Facebook author page, Twitter @VarnadoBeverly, or @ Beverly Varnado on Instagram. 

SW: Thank you for joining us, Beverly, we’re so grateful to have you stop in this week this week and share more about yourself. Let's get started with a couple “would you rather” questions.

Would you rather write in a rooftop garden surrounded by city noises — or in a quiet studio with cows as your neighbors? 

BV: I’m conflicted on that one, because I like both. In another career I spent much time in New York City, and I love the hustle and bustle and somehow can tune it out when necessary. But currently, my husband is pastor of a rural church which is surrounded by pastures and many cows and I love the setting. It’s a toss up.

SW: There are definitely advantages and disadvantages to either setting. Would you rather read a book with no page numbers or no chapter numbers?

BV: I think I could live with no chapter numbers, bit I’d have to have page numbers. 

SW: I agree with you. Alright, that’s enough of those. Tell us a little about you—family, hobbies, day job, or whatever you’d like to share that’s not in your bio. 

BV: I spend much time writing and painting in a little studio in our backyard.  I have also been a church musician since I was twelve years old, so the piano is big for me, and I sing with a symphony chorus.

For many years, my husband and I were involved in prison ministry, and we’ve traveled internationally on mission trips.

SW: You have a lot on your hands, but doing what you find joy in sure makes it all worthwhile, doesn't it? What are three books on your tbr?  

BV: My interests are varied. I’m looking forward to reading Ann Voskamp’s new book, Waymaker, a biography of Winston Churchill, and rereading Elizabeth Mussers’s classic, Swan House.

SW: I'm a fan of Elizabeth Musser. What does your writing space look like? 

BV: Though I have an office inside in a lovely sunroom, when the weather permits, I do prefer to be in my little studio in the backyard. I need ventilation when I paint so it works perfectly for that, and when I write, I have fewer interruptions. Here are a few shots.  My blog is called One Ringing Bell, so I love that vintage bell given to me by a neighbor. 

SW: What an inspiring space! Thank you for sharing the photos with us. Would you share with us a little about your road to publication?

BV: My passion for writing began at eight when I published my first magazine, which I sold door to door for a nickel. I also received a long awaited present of a journal for my birthday that year. The magazine folded in the first week, but the journal writing continues to the present day. 

So, though I’ve written since I was a child, it wasn’t until about twenty years ago, I began to sense God wanted me to devote more time to my writing and seek publication. I initially worked in non-fiction, but God led me to write a novel, which at the time, felt a bit like walking on water since I had always thought of writing fiction as doing the impossible. But somehow, through a lot of prayer and God’s help, I did it. 

I won a book deal in a writing competition for Give My Love to the Chestnut Trees, which was a semi-finalist for Jerry Jenkin’s Operation First Novel. My script for this story was a Kairos Prize finalist and was optioned for a film. I then indie-published Home to Currahee―a novel I wanted to dedicate to my father. He was in declining health, but blessedly, he saw it in print a short time before he died. Five years ago, a publisher contracted for a non-fiction book, Faith in the Fashion District, and at the same time I received a contract from Anaiah Press for The Key to Everything followed by A Plan for Everything and then the Christmas novella, A Season for Everything. I also have a blog, One Ringing Bell which has over 1000 posts, and I write for various print and online publications, as well.

SW: I love hearing how God led people to where they are in their writing journeys. Tell us more about your latest release.

BV: It is a Christmas novella, a sequel to the two other small town romances set in Worthville, Georgia that are  mentioned above. During these challenging times, I hope the readers of A Season for Everything take away hope and joy. My characters, Catherine and Collin, have recently faced major difficulties and wrestle with finding a new season in their life. The world is in such an upheaval at present, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine that life can look differently than it does now, but we have to keep up our hope. 

SW: Wonderful. Readers, there is more about A Season for Everything below. Which of your male characters (including works in progress) would you most like to go on a date with and which of them would you most like as your best friend?

BV: Most of my lead characters have at least one trait from my husband in each one, and he is also my best friend, so I don’t think I can answer that tricky question. 

SW: What are you currently working on?

BV: I’ve just finished an historical young reader that is under consideration and I’m also halfway through another romantic comedy that is a sequel to the Worthville smalltown romances. 

SW: We appreciate you taking time to share with us. Before we leave, how can we pray for you?

BV: Thank you for asking. Please pray that I would be faithful to use all that God has given me for His glory. 

Despite the glowing gas lights, festive wreaths, and holiday cheer that covers the town of Worthville, Catherine Todd is far from being in the Christmas spirit. She continues to wrestle with the losses that shattered her heart two years earlier, and while shopping for her kids, her overreaction to a disappointment confirms what she already knows―she’s stuck in her grief.

Children’s book author Collin Donnelly shows up in Worthville for a signing, but when an abrupt first interaction with local resident, Catherine, doesn’t go well, he wonders if he made a mistake coming to this small town. Eager to make amends, he soon learns they share a common interest in birding, and he invites her on an adventure that turns out to be filled with unexpected wonder for both of them. 

They soon find themselves working together to save an endangered bird, and the more time they spend together, the more Catherine is drawn to Collin. But there are forces mounting against them having a relationship, including Catherine’s reluctance to embrace the future, a difficult secret in Collin’s past, and an alliance Collin has with his agent, who clearly doesn’t want to remain his former girlfriend. 

Can they trust that, through God, there really is a season for everything?

Purchase your copy or any of Beverly's other books at AMAZON.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Polar Plunge of Fun with Author Laurie Wood

Slow down those snowmobiles and turn in here by the mirrored lake, readers. Quick, over here by the open-pit fire in the wind-washed hills of Canada. Or at least, that’s my imaginary image having never been there. And you know, I'm always dreaming of snow. But our next author knows all about Canada. And her books are set there with a healthy dose of polar bears! Sounds intriguing, huh? Read on.

PT: Welcome Laurie! Glad you could make the trip from the north to be with us this week. We’re plunging right into the icy waters to let our readers know all about you. Let’s start with your motivation, your reason for writing. And while you’re at it, throw in a little genre choice and why you chose that direction.

LW: Thank you, Peggy, for having me as your guest today! That’s a big question – what’s my “why” for writing books? And it’s one that every author needs to keep on a sticky note over their computer, I think, for those bad days when things don’t seem to be going right for your career.

My “why” is that I write to entertain, to educate, and to enlighten readers as well as myself. I enjoy everything about the writing process, especially creating new characters that no one else has ever thought about before.

I write inspirational and clean romantic suspense. It’s a genre I love to read, and it was a natural for me to want to write it, as I was a police officer thirty-four years ago. It was a difficult job but one I count as the best job I ever had or performed.

PT: Nice. I, and I’m sure the readers, appreciate your service. Now, tell us what you want to impart to your readers through your books.

LW: Some people who’ve interviewed me say, “oh, you write ‘issue’ books”, and I suppose that’s true. I’ve covered PTSD, painkiller addiction, sexual assault, raising special needs children, and dysfunctional parental relationships. These are things that Christians struggle with every day just as non-Christians do.

We have Christians serving in the military, law enforcement, and emergency services who’re suffering from PTSD, and possibly addictions because of injuries they’ve received in the course of their service. As a police officer, I dealt with survivors of sexual assault. My husband and I’ve raised two special needs children to adulthood, and I can testify to that experience.

In my upcoming book, I’m going to tackle adoption, as well as survivor’s guilt. So, I’d like readers to know they’re going to get an exciting adventure/suspense story in my books, but also that they might learn something new because I do a ton of research of these issues.

PT: Let’s skate over to spending time with God. Can you give us a peek into your devotional time?

LW: I’m smiling because that’s such a personal question. I have several prayer books and devotional books I cycle through during the year. (I’m a big fan of Max Lucado for devotionals) Our church reads through one of the Gospels during Advent and Lent, leading up to Christmas and Easter and I enjoy keeping up with those readings. I find that the Psalms are my go-to for everyday prayers and finding that touchstone for feeling God’s presence in my day.

Your readers may not be aware of two free Apps they can download from the App Store online that are Christian. One is called “Abide” and one is called “Soul Time”. They both offer Bible readings and mindfulness meditation, and I love using both of those during times of anxiety or stress.

PT: Great recommendations. Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. When you write, are you inside or outside, in an office or a random spot, and, the burning question, are there snacks? What does your writing schedule look like?

LW: My “office” has always been a corner facing the wall in our dining room, lol. The corner means I can pin up my book covers and inspirational notes to myself, as well as photos I like to use to remind me of my characters. I like to trick my mind into going into my story world with some photos of what I’m writing about.

I eat snacks during writing – who doesn’t? Preferred snacks are mini–Coffee Crisp bars, nacho chips, or mixed fruit salad. Usually, I eat all three during the day. My writing schedule is best between 9:30 to 2:30 p.m. for “new” writing. After 2:30 p.m. my brain shuts down for anything needing creativity and then I can work on blogs, emails, and social media posts.

PT: Best book you’ve read recently?

LW: The best book I’ve read recently is The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley. It’s a dual timeline story taking place between the early 1700’s and later in the 1700’s, which is unusual because a dual timeline is normally historical and then contemporary. Her books are clean, historical fiction and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

PT: How do you deal with writers’ block and distractions?

LW: I hate “writers block” because it is a real thing, and non-writers don’t understand it. I find that writing something besides the book I’m supposed to be working on, usually frees me up. For example, I might start a short, short story about something completely different, or just read a book that isn’t in the same genre. If I really need to get writing and have too many distractions, I’ll set my phone timer for 25 minutes, and start typing anything on the computer. You can write anything for 25 minutes, and then you can usually keep on going.

PT: I love to ask this question as an author myself. Which is the most trying for you: writing, editing, promoting or something else altogether?

LW: Getting my first draft down is the most trying thing for me. This is usually because I have a million ways the plot could go and I have to choose between things I want to include in the story. Now that I’m published, I really try and plot out the major events right to the end and use it as a guide, allowing myself the freedom to change things up along the way when better ideas come to me in the actual writing.

PT: How do you determine the looks of your characters?

LW: I try not to repeat the physicality of my characters. I want each romantic couple to stand on their own and be memorable in their own ways. So, I think about the characteristics of the person I want to portray and what kind of physical needs do they require for the story I’m telling and put those things together. I want normal looking people but with something remarkable in their looks that a reader can keep in the back of their minds.

PT: Tell us a little about your series, Heroes of the Tundra.

LW: The series takes place in the real-life town of Churchill, Manitoba, which sits on the southern shore of Hudson Bay in Canada. It also sits right on top of a polar bear migration route, which is why it’s called, legitimately, The Polar Bear Capitol of the World. It has one of the largest polar bear populations in that area of Canada.

The first book, NorthernDeception, has a polar bear scientist for a heroine, and an expedition tour guide hero. They’re reunited in town after she discovers her dead brother was a whistleblower for a company doing nefarious things up there, and there’s people willing to kill to get the evidence back that he stole from them.

The book, NorthernHearts, is a Christmas novella (long) set in the Christmas time right after that book ends and is more of a cozy mystery.

You don’t have to read the books in order but characters from each story appear and reappear throughout the books.

PT: Tell us a little about the second book.

LW: The second book, Northern Protector, falls in the summer after the first book. It’s the story of the police officer who was mauled by a polar bear in the first book. He finds love with an ER nurse and finds a serial killer at the same time.

PT: Will there be other books in the Heroes of the Tundra series?

LW: Yes, I’m writing it right now and it should be out in January 2023. As I said above, it’ll touch on themes of adoption and what is real family, along with another life and death story on the tundra.

PT: My fav question! Tell 5 things fast about Laurie Wood that have nothing to do with writing.


I was a municipal police officer in the 1980’s.

I ran an overnight crisis shelter for youth aged 16-21.

My husband and I have raised two special needs children with Down Syndrome to adulthood.

I’m a dog person and have dogs in all of my books.

I’m an avid knitter and often spin my own yarn on my spinning wheel.

PT: Entice our readers with what’s on the horizon for your next book?

LW: When I’m finished writing the Heroes of the Tundra series, I’ve got a “buddy cop” police procedural planned, along with a series set in several of Canada’s National Parks. I love the romantic suspense genre and can’t see myself writing anything else.

PT: Sounds fabulous! So glad you could join us today.  

And Laurie is giving away one E-book copy of Northern Protectors. But you must comment or send us a notification on our contact form to be entered in the drawing.

Now goggles on! Time to zip away to our favorite reading spot. And be sure to add Laurie's books to your TBR. Till next time!

Laurie's Bio:

Laurie Wood lives in Central Canada and writes inspirational romantic suspense with an edge of danger. She’s also a military wife who’s raised two wonderful special needs children to adulthood. They’ve lived all over Canada and are still on that journey. When she’s not writing she can be found at her spinning wheel, knitting, or hanging out with her dogs in the garden. She loves to hear from readers and always replies so feel free to get in touch with her.

Please visit her at



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Anaiah Press: (Print copies)


Hey, readers! Don't miss my next book, The Spellbound Schoolmarm releasing on June 1st! Please go and sign up for prizes and giveaways on my website,