Kate Hodges, Biblical Storyteller Extraordinaire

I’d like to give a big welcome to Kate Hodges on the Diamond Mine today. What a treat it is to have you here with us during this holiday season. I wanted to give you a chance to tell us the story behind your drive to write. How did it happen for you?

After years of enjoying a close connection to Christ, I hit a spiritual desert in my late twenties. Somewhere along the line, I had lost my passion for Christ and was going through the motions of the Christian walk. I battled depression and self-doubt. A wall had developed between God and me. Until one day, listening to the pastor read the story of the paralytic who was let down through a roof, something struck a spark. He didn’t just read the story. He spoke of the hot day, the dusty road and the men carrying their friend. He spoke of them digging through the roof of a house and the people within spattered by dirt and bits of stone. He brought that story to life in a way I had never thought of.

Over the next few months, that story churned in my head. I was full of ‘what ifs’. Finally, on a slow day at work, I took a sheet of computer paper and started to write. For four hours. Those handwritten words, barely legible in some spots, gave me a glimpse into God’s heart. I looked into the face of Christ through the eyes of a paralytic and saw his love and compassion.

A few weeks later, the pastor told another bible story. I had heard and read these stories so often over years of going to church as well as a Christian College, that I no longer saw them. They were words on a page of little more meaning than a child’s nursery rhyme, the characters merely actors on a stage.

For the first time, I was seeing the stories told by people who once lived and breathed, loved and despaired the same way that I do. The difference is that they had actually looked into the face of Jesus. They had spoken to him, heard his words and felt his touch. There is story after story of Jesus meeting the needs of people where they were. Perhaps, he could do the same for me. Perhaps, if I found the right story and told it with the right words, I would also find his healing for me, I would find the key to get beyond the wall.

So I write, story after story, page after page. It seems that there is not one key, but many. In each story is a piece of me. In each story, Jesus meets that part of me and touches, accepts, loves me. In each story, a piece of me heals.

I’m not done yet, I don’t know that I ever will be, but each story draws me closer. I have begun publishing my stories so that others can perhaps find a bit of healing for their broken pieces. They are available on Amazon as e-shorts. I also have a collection in print The Other Side of Miracles contains five of my favorite stories including the very first one, The Forgiveness of Sins. I hope that others will see the old bible stories in a new light and through them find new depths of faith.

I am also working on a novel, Safe Within These Walls, that tells the story of Rahab and the spies during that fateful month before the fall of Jericho. God not only saved her from the destruction of the city, but she became the mother of Boaz, the great grandmother of King David and the ancestor of Jesus. If God can take someone like her, a pagan, a harlot, an outcast and turn her into a hero of bible history, then perhaps he can take a shy farmer’s daughter and use her words to touch the world.

Thanks so much for sharing with us Kate. Have a blessed holiday!

Kate Hodges is a stay home mom who lives with her husband of twenty years and their three teenage children in upstate New York. She is a book addict and always looking for new authors to feed her habit.

Check out her book The Other Side of Miracles.Product Details

 

Interview and giveaway with Autumn MacArthur!

Believe in Me by Autumn MacarthurThe Christmas season is almost upon us, and what better way to celebrate than with author Autumn Macarthur and her new holiday release! Make sure you leave a comment (and your email address) to be entered for a chance to win both of her contemporary romance novels!

Welcome, Autumn. I’m so excited to have you with us today. I believe most of the authors we’ve featured here are American, but you’re from across the pond. How long have you lived near London, and what was the transition like coming from Australia?

I’ve lived in the UK for eighteen years now, the first five years in London and the rest just a little way north of London, in a town that used to be a coaching stop on the Great North Road. Yes, now I’m seeing where all those eloping heiresses in the Regency romances I used to read would have been!

I never expected or planned to stay so long.

I spent my first three days in London walking around in a daze repeating to myself over and over, “I’m in LONDON!” It had been such a long held dream it was hard to believe it had finally come true! I suspect the transition would have been far more difficult if I’d know when I planned my trip here that it was going to last so long. I thought I was only coming for a one year working holiday. God had other plans, including me marrying an Englishman!.

I love that! God’s plans are so much better than our own. 🙂 What made you choose London to set your stories in?

I LOVE London. I truly do. There’s so much history here, and a sense that it is my history that I don’t get in Australia. There’s a very ancient culture there. I’ve been awestruck at Aboriginal rock carvings that could have been there for a thousand or more years, being recarved as the rocks weathered. The Aboriginal culture is the one of the longest surviving cultures, going back over 40,000 years! European settlement of Australia only dates back 250 years, recent in comparison.

But there’s a longstanding history here. Like a pub in the town I now live in called The New Inn, because it was built in the 1600’s and the pub just up the street is older. I visit a church in a nearby village with heartbreaking inscriptions from the time of the Black Death carved into the walls. My husband and I considered buying a house built in the early 1700’s. The only reason we didn’t is that the beams in the kitchen were only 5’9” from the floor- people were shorter then!

Plus, I love the vibrancy of London too. It’s an amazing mix of old and new. There’s that sense that anything could happen here- and it probably will!

Not that I only write London set stories! The current Love in Store series is set in a London department store, and there are three or four more stories at least to come in that series! But I have other stories in various stages set in Australia and in the US. One Aussie series is set in a small coastal town, the other in a rural area. I have a US series set in a small Oregon community. I have a couple of historical stories set on the convict ships taking prisoners from Britain to Australia, and in the early days of Sydney’s settlement. I also want very much to write a WW1 story set in a nearby village to my current home. Lots of stories, lots of ideas! I love all the settings for my stories.

Where do your story ideas come from?

Everywhere! I have too many ideas! Often, a story is an amalgam of several. A story in the local paper. Something in the national news. Something my husband or a friend tells me about someone they know or a friend of a friend. A minor character in a previous story wants their own story please! Or I see a call for submissions, and editor or publisher asking for a particular type of story about a particular subject. Usually more than one of these will collide to make a story!

What was the hardest part about writing a Christmas-themed book? The easiest?

That’s a tough question! I would say the easiest part is bringing in lots of fun Christmas stuff! There is just so much of it! And I guess the hardest part is not letting the Christmas aspect overrun the romance, which is the centre of all my stories.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

Hmm, another toughie! I love almost everything about Christmas (washing up after Christmas lunch maybe the one exception), but I married a Christmas hater! As we usually spent Christmas Day  with his family, I love our Christmas Eves together, which is our own couple-type Christmas. I cut pine branches, put them in a big saltglazed jar, and pile the plain white fairy lights on. I light candles, listen to Christmas carols, and cook us up a special meal. We watch A Christmas Carol, and open our presents for each other. That’s such a special time, and the tradition I enjoy most.

That sounds lovely! Sometimes the simplest traditions mean the most. 

Speaking of traditions, why did you decide to indie publish, and what’s been the most rewarding thing about doing so?

I decided to indie publish because of the freedom it gave me to write the type of stories I wanted. There aren’t a lot of traditional publishers that will take the sort of stories I mainly write, Christian inspirational romances set outside the US. I did have a publisher interested in Believe in Me, but I realised when doing revisions that the story needed to be longer than the shorter books that publisher accepted. And I had ideas for a series, but the books weren’t going to be all the same length. I prayed long and hard about it, and felt that indie publishing was the way to go.

The most rewarding thing? It’s hard to limit to one! The absolute most rewarding thing has been the feedback from readers. Getting emails or Facebook messages from people who’ve read and loved the stories is amazing! I’ve also enjoyed the stretch learning the new skills I’ve needed to develop to indie publish. It gives me fresh appreciation for all that traditional publishers do for their share of the book cover price! And I treasure my relationships with my editor and my critique partner, which wouldn’t have developed as they have if I hadn’t indie published.

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

 

A sense of hope and possibility! That no matter what, God loves us, and we can all know the breadth and depth and width of His love. We just need to choose to accept it.  Sometimes even as Christians we don’t feel it in our lives, but God wants us to feel His love, and find joy in it. That’s the prayer I have for every reader of every book.

Thanks again, Autumn, for joining us today. Don‘t forget to leave a comment below with a message for Autumn or to share your favorite Christmas tradition. Everyone who comments will be entered to win a bundle pack of books 1 and 2 in the Love In Store series! And keep reading for a blurb about Autumn’s latest book, Believe in Me!

Bah, humbug!

All Cara Talbot wants for Christmas is for it to be over.

The workaholic accountant has good reason to hate Christmas, along with charmers like actor Nick Callaghan, playing celebrity Santa at the failing London department store she has the thankless job of managing.

She’s determined to save her staff’s jobs, Hollywood golden boy Nick just wants to live up to his Mr Unattached reputation and enjoy life. They couldn’t be more opposite. But if accepting Nick’s dare – dates showing her the magic of a London Christmas – can raise enough publicity to keep the store open, she’ll do it. Even if she risks falling in love with him in the process.

Can this surprising Santa allow love to deepen his untested faith and learn to commit, while helping Ms Scrooge believe in Christmas, and in God, once more?

Book 2 in the Love In Store series of sweet inspirational romances.

The series is set around a stately old London department store, and the same settings and staff pop up in each book. But there is no need to read them in order!
Every story is a complete romance, following a different couple through the trials and joys of a developing love, to their happy-ever-after.

WARNING
Believe In Me is a Christian romance!

Please don’t buy this book if you are offended by the G-bomb (God), Jesus, and mention of prayer, church, or the Bible.

Includes Santa costumes, kissing, and a huge past heartbreak to overcome, as well as British spelling. Complete with British English Glossary. Please do let me know if you find any British-isms in the story you wish had been included, and I will add them!

68,000 words, approximately 284 print pages

Faith, Hope, & Heartwarming – inspirational romance to make you smile!

Amazon links-

US- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N6LS8OU

UK- https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00N6LS8OU

Australia- http://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B00N6LS8OU?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Autumn Macarthur is an AusAutumn Macarthurtralian writer of inspirational romance living near London with her very English husband, three spoiled cats, and a guinea pig with a dandelion addiction. She loves reading, cooking, gardening, and writing deeply emotional stories to make you smile and remind you how big and wide and deep God’s love and forgiveness can be.

She tends to talk a little too much and laugh a little too loud, her sleep schedule is all over the place so you’ll often find her on the internet at 5am, and she’s grateful to be blessed with some good friends and a very patient husband. She’s also eternally thankful for God’s great love and mercy.

When she’s not talking to her strawberry plants or cherry blossoms, she can be found blogging at www.faithhopeandheartwarming.com ; on Facebook as Autumn Macarthur, and on Twitter as @autumnmacarthur. She loves hearing from readers so do get in touch!

You can subscribe to her mailing list here- http://mad.ly/signups/116735/join

Life and Love With Cheryl Wyatt at the Mine

Hello, Cheryl. Let me first welcome you to the Diamond Mine. I’m so glad you’re here…even if this interview has been a challenge between forgotten and lost emails. (For those who may not know, I recently moved back to Wyoming and most of my office is still in boxes. I’m so happy to be under a real roof and have internet!) Anyway, ma’am, thank you for your patience! Let the games begin…
 
***GIVEAWAY via RAFFLECOPTER***
 
 
 
The Nurse’s Secret Suitor (Eagle Point Emergency series) from Love Inspired Books
(See book and giveaway details following the interview)
 
Renee: I love your writing. With all the genres to choose from, what led you to lean toward military fiction?
Cheryl: My military stories happened to be the first ones to get contracted. I mostly write about rescuers, military or otherwise. Most of the military characters I write about are either in Search-and-Rescue or are medical in nature. My nursing background comes in handy and also that I have a lot of friends and family who were or are in various branches of the military.
Renee: Do you have a favorite character of one of your stories? What makes him or her so special?
Cheryl: Wow, this is so hard to choose. I love all of my characters but I’m usually partial to the one I’m currently writing. There is a really fun secondary character named Memaw from my Coast Guard series from Redbud Press who makes me laugh a lot. I’d say she’s my favorite currently.
Renee: Oh, I believe joy’s necessary for survival. I think it’s so cool you have characters like that. Humor makes a book a lot of fun to read. Is that something you try to do all the time?
Cheryl: I try to incorporate laughter in every book.

I strive to inspire and encourage.   (Tweet this)   Tweet: I strive to inspire and encourage. #author #diamond #christlit http://ctt.ec/sQ1AT+

Laughter is good medicine for the spirit and life is so very tough sometimes that people need to be able to laugh. I hope my words provide that gift for people.
Renee:Well, speaking of books, do you have anything releasing soon for the readers?
Cheryl: I have several books releasing in the next few months from three different publishers and more books in the que from my original publisher. Coming in November is Out of the Flames, a Haven Bay Heroes prequel that will be FREE from Redbud Press for folks who sign up for their newsletter. In December I have A Refuge Christmas releasing from Inspy Kisses in the novella collection. In February from HarperCollins Christian Publishing comes Serving Up a Sweetheart, a February Bride story from Zondervan’s Second Year of Weddings series. In March comes book one in Haven Bay Heroes, titled Out of the Deep. Visit my website for more information on releases and purchase links or to sign up for my newsletter for new release news and goodies exclusive to subscribers at: www.cherylwyatt.com.




Here’s the blurb for Out of the Flames. Remember this is FREE for anyone who signs up for Redbud Press’s newsletter.
 
Coast Guard fire chief Scotty Cohen learned his lesson when one careless moment on the job cost his best friend his life. So he heads for Haven Bay, Florida, ready to start again. And this time? No distractions allowed.
Enter conservationist Lilah McLaughlin—that woman is one major distraction. How is he supposed to ignore her when the marine wildlife rescue center is right next door to the Coast Guard facility—and when she proceeds to break down every wall he’s put up?
Then the unthinkable happens, and Scotty must decide: give up Lilah or give up his calling. Whatever choice he makes means he’ll get burned all over again…
Renee:Whoa! You’ve been a busy beaver. How do you do it? I can barely keep up with the schedule I keep and only have one or two books in the works. Has your life changed now that you’re a “multi-published” author?
Cheryl: I think people have a lot of misconceptions about authors in general. One is that people think we make a ton of money. I actually made way more money working as an RN. LOL! Another thing is that being a writer is such a blessing but it stretches me in the sense of it’s not a very hidden gift, like say prayer would be. You have to put yourself out there and being shy, I’d rather operate in obscurity. On the other hand, I love being able to make myself accessible to readers online, to pray for them and encourage them and let them know how much I appreciate their readership.
Renee: You know, you’re so right. Many writers start their career in the recesses of their home and after publication, are thrown into the spotlight, so to speak. It’s a challenge, especially for a little girl who used to hide in corners. (I’m not mentioning any names here!) Pharmacy helped me overcome a lot of my shyness, but I have to admit, there are times I’d run if given the choice. Still, it seems like every author has a literal nook or cranny where he writes…and a cat that walks all over his keyboard. Do you have a special place?
Cheryl: My recliner in our family room because it’s nearest the fireplace. I like to write with the fire crackling. It’s also by the window and I love being able to look out and see wildlife or hear the rain pattering against the window as I write.
Renee: I have a recliner too! Not a fireplace anymore but my chair is right next to a window where I can see the hummingbirds. I’m sure I’ll watch the first snowflakes of winter float down as well. If you could tell a reader one thing before she cracked open the cover of one of your incredible books, what would it be and why?
Cheryl: Don’t hold mistakes against me or my publisher. LOL! No author is perfect and I hope they find the story worth their time and while.
Renee: Oh, I agree so much. And in this day and age, it’s expected. After all, so many are publishing at the touch of a button. By the way, what do you think of social media? Is it a benefit or hindrance to the publishing world today?
Cheryl: I LOVE being able to market digitally. I have a busy family life, and it is a blessing to be able to market on social media from home or wherever we happen to be that week. It would be difficult if I had to travel a ton for book signings or book events. I left one career to stay home with my children and I want to spend as much time nurturing and training and loving on them as I can. Social media enables me to do that as well as connect with my readers. I consider that a huge blessing and benefit.
Renee: I’m getting better but I still have a lot to learn! Thanks for stopping by the Diamond Mine, Cheryl. It’s been an honor and a joy to have you here.
***GIVEAWAY DETAILS***
 
Trauma nurse Kate Dalton can handle any challenge—except love. The combat veteran dreams of settling down, but heartbreak is one risk she won’t take. Then a chance encounter opens her heart to a masked stranger…who might not be a stranger after all! Caleb Landis, the army medic behind the disguise, has always admired Kate, even though she only saw him as her best friend’s brother. What will it take for Kate to discard her fears and discover the man she’s always hoped to unmask? 
 
Eagle Point Emergency:  Saving lives—and losing their hearts— in a small Illinois town
 
 
***ENTER VIA RAFFLECOPTER BELOW***


About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Cheryl Wyatt writes romance with virtue for the Christian market. A busy mom, wife, humanitarian RN and orphan advocate, joyful chaos rules her home and she delights in the stealth moments God gives her to write. She stays active in her church and in her laundry room.

She loves her readers and cherishes interaction with them at: https://www.facebook.com/CherylWyattAuthor.
Join her newsletter for goodies exclusive to subscribers via her website: www.cherylwyatt.com.
She provides encouragement and writing prompts for aspiring authors at: https://twitter.com/cherylwyatt.

RWDDW!!! (Rappin’ with Diane Dean White!!!)

HFAWTTDM!!! Translation: Hi folks and welcome to the Diamond Mine!!!

Today we welcome, Diane Dean White, hailing from the SS, text for the Sunshine State, and me hollering from the HH, or rather the Hoosier Homeland.  Thankfully, I won’t have to strain my voice, thanks to modern technology!  Which is exactly how I met my friend, DDW. BTW, AWHFY? (By the way, are we having fun yet?)  I think so. C&G (Chuckle and grin.)

By now you’re thinking, okay, seriously, what’s with the acronyms that I usually save for a quick text?  So glad you asked!!!!  Diane’s new book is entitled, Texting Mr. Right!!!  I love it.  Mixing in the cutting edge new, with the classic romance, ‘happily ever after,’ ending that’s timeless!  What could be better?! Less acronyms, perhaps?! LOL Not a chance! However, YAFIYGI! (You asked for it, you got it!) Author and friend, Diane Dean White! LLOTA (Lots and lots of thunderous applause.)

PT:  Welcome Diane!  So glad to have you! I’ll try to tamp down the texting, but it will be difficult.  But I can’t tamp down my excitement of your new book, Texting Mr. Right.  What exactly lit the flame of your new novel?

DDW:  LOL~Well, I’ve wanted to do a book about Michigan and a publisher who was doing novellas was interested.  I thought the title was good.  My problem is I don’t text!  Thus, the texting abbreviations were eliminated and the normal reader could understand.

PT:  Yes, Yes. I hear echoes of dissatisfaction with just my intro. But, TTGBTW. (Time to get back to work.)  I noticed Michigan is the backdrop for this book. What’s been your favorite location to set a story?

DDW:  The location for, Texting Mr. Right, was primarily set at my parent’s cottage on Grand Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan.  I haven’t been back for a number of years, but spent so much time there it wasn’t difficult to picture.  A favorite location in my books is, This Side of Heaven, coming out next year.  It takes place in rural Georgia, where we lived for several years.

PT: I know you collect glassware and enjoy beautiful tea settings.  Do some of these favorite things find their way into your writing?

DDW:  Very few thus far have made their way into my writing.  Since I enjoy antiques, it’s been hard with contemporary settings to use them.  In, This Side of Heaven, my main character decorates her ancestral home, and I’m able to use some collectibles and tea cups in that novel.  I think my china/glass slipper collections makes its way into a scene.

PT:  Usually you write romance with a touch of mystery or suspense.  Why did you choose to go strictly romance for this one?

DDW:  In, This Side of Heaven, I have a lot of romance, but equally a running mystery.  I enjoyed writing romance, and thought a book strictly with romance would be fun.  It was and yet I had to create a distraction, thus the lime disease scare in Traverse City was developed.  There’s just so much romance you can do.

PT:  First and foremost, we are witnesses for JC! (Jesus Christ)  What do you think has been your most influential form of showing Jesus to others?

DDW:  Sharing the plan of salvation makes its way into most of my books.  However, as Christians, I also show weaknesses that with God’s help. can be made right.  The reality of harboring a deep fear, grudge, or running from God, that some people deal with is faced; and with faith, trust in our Lord, redemption is always possible. All things are with God.

PT:  Wow! That is 2G2B4G!!! (Too good to be forgotten!!!) Well said, and so true. Now, what’s next for DDW?

DDW:  My book, Winter Wonderland, to be released soon, is a sweet Christian, Christmas 50’s romance, with a lot of history as well as a focus on Christ, the Salvation plan, and helping others.

PT:  ICW!  (I can’t wait!) Thanks for joining us today, Diane!

DDW:  I’m glad you invited me to stop by and share more about, Texting Mr. Right.  I’ve enjoyed your blog and appreciate you having me, Peggy. J

PT: No, Diane, 10Q! (thank you!)

 Don’t miss it, readers! You can win a free copy of, Texting Mr. Right!  Leave a comment below with your email address to enter! 
 



Diane’s Bio: Diane started her writing at an early age, but it wasn’t until her husband’s work took them to a small southern town she wrote her first column, “Yankee Viewpoint’s” for a local newspaper. Returning to her home-state of Michigan, she did stringer work over the years, ancestral history, and donor appeal letters for non-profit organizations. Diane self-published two books in the early 2000’s, and she became a columnist for a weekly magazine, for four years. She is the author of over three-hundred short stories. Her book On a Summer Night was released in October and her ebook, Stories from a Porch Swing in April. Texting Mr. Right was released September 1 of this year, and her Christmas novella, Winter Wonderland will be out the end of October. She and hubby, Stephen, have been married for forty-two years, and they are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals.

Catch up with this Diane Dean White here:
http://simplepleasureswithdiane.weebly.com/

 
Texting Mr. Right, available on Amazon and B&N booksellers.




 

This week, Dawn M. Turner joins us at the Mine!




Good morning Dawn. We’re glad to have you at the Mine this week.

 
Thanks for inviting me for a visit. 🙂
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a full-time writer, married 21 years this past July to a wonderful Christian man, and “mom” to two dogs, 2 cockatiels, a budgie, a guinea pig, and 3 hens. I spend a lot of time writing, but I also enjoy deeply researching topics that grab my interest, especially science- and medicine-related ones. God’s creation, in all its many facets, never ceases to amaze and inspire me. I also love photography, scrapbooking, crochet, and spinning my own yarn from wool and alpaca.
I’m currently working on multiple writing projects, all but two of which are fiction. One of my latest releases is entitled ‘In God’s Time.’ It won the Contemporary Romance category, as well as the Grand Prize, in the Writers On The Storm Category Five writing competition in 2011 (my hubby’s fault, I tell him). Here’s the back cover blurb for it:
All things come in God’s time, including love.
Tara Whitman has a big problem. She’s in love with her best friend, and it’s getting harder to hide it from him. She fears the truth will destroy a friendship she holds dear, even as she battles jealousy toward the string of leggy blondes that parade through Jack’s life.
Jack Carlton spends his free time at one social event or another with the latest woman he dates to protect a huge secret he’s keeping from Tara – he’s in love with her, has been for years. Haunted by the memory of a kiss shared in their teens, he doesn’t want to endanger their friendship. Yet the thought of her kissing someone else drives him to distraction if he lets himself dwell on it.
(Available for giveaway – autographed paperback copy of IGT.)
What Genre(s) do you write?
 
Mostly contemporary romance, or anything that contains romance. Romance is definitely my favorite genre to work with, whether alone or combined with suspense, in full or just a suspense twist. I’ve done a couple of Women’s Fiction books, one novella that’s currently available, and a novel that’s not yet published. Even those have a romantic thread through them. I mean, how can you write about husbands and wives and not have romance? I also enjoy writing fantasy, medieval style in a world I’ve created. I publish those as D.M. Turner versus my contemporary work being under Dawn M. Turner, so fans don’t get confused.
What made you decide to be a writer?
God called me to it. I’ve known that for a very long time, and I fought it nearly that long. I’ve always had a love of words, and I express myself better in writing than I do verbally. I inherited that from my dad, I think. I had a bad experience in high school with a teacher who discouraged me from writing. That traumatized me sufficiently that I stopped writing creatively altogether. Then a college English teacher wouldn’t let me out of a short story assignment, no matter how hard I tried to convince her it was pointless because I was a horrible writer, per the other teacher. She loved my story and encouraged me to keep writing. I did for a couple of decades but didn’t let anyone but my mother read my stuff until 2011, when my hubby talked me into entering a writing competition. To my profound shock, I won. At that point, I realized, no matter what anyone else had ever said, God had made it abundantly clear what He wanted me to do and there’s no arguing with Him. I’ve tried.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve encountered concerning getting published?
Honestly, the biggest hurdle was a result of talking with other authors who had taken years to get contracts only to have editors with publishing houses rip the heart out of their stories and go to great lengths at times to try to make them all sound the same as everyone else. I’m willing to work with a good editor, but when it comes to keeping the integrity of my stories intact and honoring the characters, I see that as a hill worth dying on, as a friend would say. I won’t compromise some things. Knowing those two things had me praying hard about what agents and publishers to query. While I kept praying and waited for an answer, I kept writing. God’s answer was “Go indie.” Scared me to death, the idea of being responsible for everything myself, but it’s actually been a (usually) fun adventure.
Could you tell us what your favorite manuscript is, and why?
 
I love different stories and series for different reasons, but I think Promisesis probably my all-time favorite. Wes is a hero after my own heart, and Terry is so hurt by a broken world. I identify with her in some ways, yet she’s so different from me in others. Those two as a couple have a special place in my heart, too, because of all my characters, they’ve been with me almost longer than anyone. I wrote the start of their story before I met my husband and continued working on it after we got married. It went through a good number of edits before I published it in 2013.
What books do you have in the works and when can we expect them?
In editing, I’ve got the final two books in the Donovan Legacy series to go. Those books are about the lives and loves of the children of Wes and Terry from Promises(and their follow-up story, Beyond Hope).
In writing, I’m working on a new romance series, with 2 books completed, 3 partially written, and 1 still to start. The series is entitled Mysterious Ways, because each book is about the many ways that God confronts challenges we often throw at Him. The first three books in the series all stem from a conversation the heroes have about how they don’t want to get married. Each of them presents their own challenge to God, not even thinking God would do such things.
What person in your life would you say had/has the biggest influence on your writing?
 
My husband actually. Though he’s not a writer, and he hates to read (go figure), he’s been an avid supporter of my work, even when it looked like I’d never do anything with it. He encouraged and supported me in online participation with writers groups, classes I’ve taken over the years to help my writing, and anything else writing-related. He’s also supported me as a reader, despite the fact that’s meant living at times buried in books. He makes jokes about my “crazy writer friends” and all of our “imaginary friends,” but he’s never failed to encourage and support me on this wacky journey I’ve taken. Without him, I don’t think I’d be writing today.
What author do you aspire to be like?
 
I can’t really say I aspire to be “like” anyone else. I’m simply me. Unique as God made me. My writing style is different from everyone else. My author voice is different from everyone else. My path is different in so many ways. There’s a host of authors whose work I absolutely love, but I don’t want to emulate them except in the quality of my work.
What author do you like to read, and why?
 
Wow. Big question. I love the work of so many authors – Janice Hanna Thompson, Colleen Coble, Terri Blackstock, Karen Kingsbury, Dee Henderson (whose work introduced me to Christian fiction), Lynette Eason, Candace Calvert, Michelle Sutton, Denise Hunter, and so many other authors of Christian fiction. I also enjoy sweet romances by Joselyn Vaughn, which I only discovered recently. I also love the ABA urban fantasy novels by Patricia Briggs. The main thing I look for is well-developed characters. If a book has those and an interesting storyline, I’m hooked. Those authors never fail to grab me and make me laugh, cry, or both.
What do you find the most difficult about being a writer?
 
Staying focused at times. Life has a way of throwing curve balls at us all the time, and sometimes I’m supposed to ignore those and just keep working. Other times, they need my attention. Sometimes it’s hard to be sure which is which and not waste time on the ones I should ignore. Also, I’m a prolific writer, and I tend to have high expectations for myself. That’s been a challenge, too, turning those expectations over to God and setting the goals He has me to set. He’s an easier taskmaster for me than I am. He plans ahead for the curve balls.
Thanks so much for the interview, Dawn. We loved having you. J
Listed below are some links to Dawn:

Interview with Sally Bradley and a giveaway!

I’m so excited to welcome author Sally Bradley to the Diamond Mine today. I recently read her novel Kept, and loved it! Make sure you leave a comment to enter to win your very own copy of this amazing novel. And with this amazing cover, how can you not be intrigued?


Sally, can you tell the readers a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I always say Chicago since I grew up in the suburbs. My family and I live in the Kansas City area now, but Chicago is still home, and despite the insane taxes, traffic, and politics, we love going back.


When did you first fall in love with writing?
I remember wanting to write as young as nine. I think I wrote my first story then, something about toys that came alive at night. Really original stuff. 🙂

I love your tagline– Big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. It seems like big cities are a little neglected in fiction right now as there are lots of stories set in small towns. How important do you think setting is when writing a novel?
Up until this book, setting wasn’t a huge deal to me. But with this story, setting really played a significant role. It affected everything–my characters’ choices, the plot, the climax. There isn’t anything that isn’t affected by the setting. My heroine’s whole plot is based on how she feels about the setting. So now… yes, setting is very important to me and can really take a story and bring it to life that much more.

Is Kept the first book you wrote?
No, it’s the third adult novel I’ve written, my seventh overall. The first five will never see daylight. 🙂

I have a couple of those myself. 🙂 But then, as a writer, you have other stories you just know were meant to be published. How/why did you decide to Indie publish?
I’d been praying about it for a couple years, and the CBA doors were firmly shut. Kept just wasn’t the safe read that CBA seems to want right now. But I believed completely in the story–in the quality of it and the need for it–so I made the decision to take all the risk myself, and I’m so not regretting that. I’ll definitely continue to publish this way until God makes it clear to do otherwise.

What advice do you have for new writers?
Read quality fiction only. As you grow as a writer, you’ll notice things other writers are doing incorrectly or poorly. Stop reading them and try new writers who write exceptionally. You’ll pick up a lot of technique that way. Plus it’s more fun!


That’s great advice! I think writers should always make time to read. Do you have any other projects in the works?
Sort of. I’m debating which of three ideas is next. I’d love to do a few sequels to Kept, but I don’t have a solid story down yet. But writing begins again next month, so I better figure that out soon!

Read on to see what Kept is all about, then make sure to leave a comment for Sally to be entered to win a copy of her book. Make sure you leave an email or some contact information to be notified of your win.

Kept
“Gutsy and fast-paced.”—Laura Frantz, author of Love’s Reckoning

“One of the most surprising and best books I’ve read this year.”—MaryLu Tyndall, best-selling author of Legacy of the King’s Pirates series

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago’s lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father’s sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can’t help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she’s longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who’s gone too far and done too much.

Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. A Chicagoan since age five, she now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they still get back to Chicago once in a while for important things—like good pizza and a White Sox game. Fiction has been her passion since childhood, and she’s thrilled now to be writing books that not only entertain, but point back to Christ. Kept is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

Interview and Giveaway with Amryn Cross!!

Love won’t save her. U.S Marshals can’t contain her. Death will not stop her.

 

         Today on the Diamond Mine, I’ll be interviewing one of our group members, Amory Cannon, whose pen name is Amryn Cross. Her debut novel, Learning To Die debuted this month, and we’re all so excited for her! She’s woven a compelling suspense story with an intense romance between two strong-willed characters. Quite an exciting read!  I highly recommend it! After the interview, leave a comment and you’ll automatically be entered for a free copy of this wonderful story in either e-book or print copy, whichever you prefer.

Now for our interview!

What was the first thing you remember writing?
 
When I was in elementary school, I wrote lots of little stories about puppy love and girls doing things that only boys do—like joining the football team. The first thing of any length I remember writing was a fan fiction of sorts based on the characters in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
 
One of my favorite books, too! So, when did you decide to write fiction novels?
 
I began writing my first novel in November 2011 for National Novel Writing Month. It was an experiment for me, coming up with all original characters and starting to weave my love of writing with my love of forensic science. I learned a lot during that process, and it only solidified my decision to commit to writing.
 
I’m glad you did! What genre or genres do you write?
 
My main genre is romantic suspense, which is where my debut novel fits, but I’m also delving into young adult as well. Eventually, I’d like to write a book that’s strictly romance, but that’s a way off for me at this point.
 
How do your story ideas come to you?
 
It varies from book to book. Sometimes it’s an idea for a specific scene that just grows into something more. I have been inspired by certain TV shows and books, but my favorite is when I read or hear a certain phrase and it sparks an entire plot. Music is a big one for me for this reason. A line or two of lyrics can carry me a long way. For that reason, I make playlists for each story I write.
 
I also use music as inspiration. When I write a historical novel, I listen to music that fits the time. 
Do you use outlines, or write the plot as you go?
 
I sort of fall in between. I like to have a vague outline since it’s important in my genre to know the crime that’s committed and the timeline of when the characters figure out what clues. Major external events tend to be the cornerstone of my outlines, but I don’t plan my characters reactions to those events. I let them develop naturally, and that sometimes leads to additional scenes I hadn’t planned on.
 
They take on a life of their own, don’t they? So, is this debut novel the first one you wrote?
 
Actually, no. Learning to Die was originally intended to be a sequel to the first novel I wrote. However, the more I learned about writing, the more I realized that first novel needed a lot of work and maybe would never be published. This story had more potential, and I’d already fallen in love with the characters, so I decided to put my effort into getting Kate’s story published.
 
How much of yourself is in your characters?
 
I love this question. In this book, I don’t think there’s much of me in Kate or Graham. Actually, it was a bit difficult to get Kate right in the beginning because I’m not very much like her. But I did connect with her because there are a lot of people I know in her. She’s real and she’s broken, and on the most basic level, I think we’ve all been there. In other books, however, I’ve put a lot of myself into characters. In a novella series I’m working on for next year, the main character is basically me turning off my filter and writing. It’s a lot of fun!
 
Do you ever hit difficult spots or get derailed in your stories, and if so, how do you get past this?
 
This does happen to me from time to time, but I’ve found the best way to get past this is to be willing to skip around. I don’t always write chronologically. In fact, for the first novella in the next series I’m working on, I wrote it backwards! I break my story down into scenes, and if one scene isn’t cooperating, I’ll move on to one that I have a clearer picture of. Sometimes I have to go back and change things when I tie all the scenes together, but it does usually break me out of writer’s block or a rut.
 
What do you like best about writing?
 
This is tough to narrow down, but I really think it’s figuring out what makes people tick. My stories are very character driven for that reason. I’m not just interested in what someone does, but why they do that. I love complicated characters because we all lead complicated lives. I want to write stories that make people think about their actions and relate to the character.
 
What effect do you hope your writing has on the reader?
 
Ultimately, I hope my writing glorifies God. I want to tell a good story, to make a reader laugh or cry, but the purpose is to use the little things in the book to point people to Him. From Learning to Die specifically, I hope readers will realize that God really does work in all things, and that you’re never too far that He can’t love you.
 
That’s a beautiful message. 
What are you working on now?
 
I’m in the process of editing the first novella in my East Wind series (which you can find out more about at http://theeastwind.amryncross.com), which will hopefully release in January next year. It’s about a former military man who’s forced into medical retirement and somehow ends up solving crimes with this crazy but brilliant consulting detective—Alexandria Holst. Each novella follows the two of them through one of their cases. Very much based on several adaptations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson… especially the modern BBC version.
I’m also finishing up my young adult novel The Broken Crown, which I also hope to release next year. It follows a young princess, Emilia, in a fictional world where Christianity has been outlawed, and even her own mother—the queen—was not safe from execution because of it. Finding the strength to save the Insurgos Christians means a choice between the life Emilia was born for and the one God called her to. Both of which could mean death. I can’t wait to share this book with my readers!
Another one of your books to look forward to! Thanks so much for this interview!
Now for an excerpt from Learning to Die:
“I’m here to protect you.” His eyes changed, softened maybe, and the white haze that usually preceded a flashback edged her vision. No. Not now.

His hand twitched as he made a move for his pocket. Reflex took over as her muscles coiled in anticipation. Her right hand flew forward in a well-practiced uppercut, aiming for the sweet spot under his chin.

Though she had surprise on her side, he was much stronger and anticipated her move. Her fist never made contact. Instead, his hand wrapped tightly around her wrist and twisted her until her back slammed up against the wall with her right hand over her head, the muscles in her shoulder aching in protest. He reached for her left hand and raised it until he held both wrists, in one hand, above her head.

Her chest heaved with adrenaline. Self-preservation coursed through her gut, and if it came to fighting for her life or the lives of her friends, she would not hold it back.

His face was mere inches from hers now, his breath on her cheek. Involuntary shivers tingled her spine. If only she’d grabbed her gun before she stepped into the hallway.

“I said I’m here to protect you… even from yourself.” The words ghosted over her as he lowered his lips to her ear and brushed them against her skin. She imagined if anyone bothered to look at the security cameras right now, they’d appear more like a pair of lovers than two enemies in a stalemate. There didn’t seem to be much of a line between the two at the moment, as confusion and attraction waged a war in the pit of her stomach. He wasn’t as unaffected as he’d like her to think — she could see his pulse thrumming in his neck.

He looked down to his left, and her eyes followed his movement. When he went for his pocket again, she didn’t fight. Instead of a weapon, he raised his hand to present a badge directly in front of her face.

Lying inside a black flip wallet, the badge resembled a gold circle with a star inside it, the words “United States Marshal” around the outside. Opposite the badge, she read the credential card that introduced her attacker as Graham Shepherd, Senior Deputy U.S. Marshal, Inspector. She looked back and forth from the picture on the card to the man in front of her. The eyes left no doubt it was the same man.

Now, here’s a short author bio:
Amryn Cross is a forensic scientist and author of romantic suspense novels. As a lover of college football, Shakespeare, superheroes, and travelling, she is drawn to complex characters who aren’t always what they seem. Her novels are character-driven stories of people who face down some of life’s darkest moments and learn to reconcile that darkness with God’s light. She refers to these as “between the shadow and the soul” moments. Amryn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy. You can connect with Amryn on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
 
Here are the buy links:
 
Remember to leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a copy of the book!