Interview and give-away with Laura V. Hilton!

A Christmas romance…A new beginning…A resurrected past…
A White Christmas in Webster County
Hi Laura! Welcome to The Diamond Mine!  
I really enjoyed your book, “A White Christmas in Webster County.”  How did you get your idea for the characters of Abner and Mercy, and their histories? 
  Thank you, Nancy.  Abner is the twin brother of the hero in Awakened Love, Abram.  I knew Abner’s backstory when I started the book, because he shared most of it with Abram. The part that I didn’t know, Abner was willing to share.  Mercy, I read an article about Amish going fishing on Lake Michigan. And the what if questions followed from there.
That’s interesting! In your books, are your Amish characters based on people you know, parts of yourself, pure imagination, or a combination of these?  
Probably a combination of all three.  I am a quiet/shy person by nature, but I am fully capable of standing up for myself, too.  Amish are not so different, human-nature, than “Englisch”. 
I can tell that from your characters! I see that most of your books are about Amish people. What inspired you to take that direction with your writing? 
  My maternal grandparents were Amish.  But that wasn’t what did it.  Someone mentioned on American Christian Fiction Writers that we should write what our favorite genre is.  I love most Amish fiction, so when my agent gently suggested I give it a try, I was willing. And I love it.
And readers do, too! Do you have a lot of readers who are Amish?  
No, not too many Amish read about the Amish. Not a lot of Amish. It is mostly Englisch who read it.
I’ve always wondered if practicing Amish are flattered or puzzled by the interest so many readers have in their lifestyle. What’s your opinion on that? 
  I think they are puzzled.  To them, their life is normal, what God commands. Flattery would mean pride, and pride to the Amish is a sin.
Good point! I see that an upcoming book of yours, “Swept Away” releases this month and is somewhat of a departure from what you usually write. How did that come about?
    I love contemporary fiction and wanted to write for the Quilts of Love.  However, to be honest, Swept Away is not mine so much as it is Cindy Loven’s.  Cindy came up with the Grandma and heroine idea, and the quilt, and she told me most of their story.  I tried to write it the way she wanted it.  Drew, however, was my invention and his story is all mine. 
 Can you describe the book a bit?  
I actually have three new books out this fall.  A White Christmas in Webster County, The Snow Globe, and Swept Away.  
After our interview, I’ll post a blurb from each!  I’m curious. Do you have a favorite among your stories or characters?   
My favorite male characters are Troy Troyer in Surrendered Love, and Viktor Petershiem in The Snow Globe.  My favorite female characters are Shanna in Healing Love, Esther in The Snow Globe, and Janna in Surrendered Love.
What are you working on now, Laura? 
I’m writing the third book in the Amish of Jamesport series,  The Birdhouse. 
What is the main message you’d like your readers to get from your books? 
I leave that up to God and the reader.  But I hope they hear the gospel of Grace. That they are accepted in the Beloved. That God loves them, despite everything. 
That’s a wonderful thought, Laura. Thank you for sharing your answers with us on the Mine. Now, here are some descriptions of Laura’s latest books! Since we’re showcasing “A White Christmas in Webster County” I’ll  start with that one:
A White Christmas in Webster County
Wanting to relocate from Shipshewana to somewhere new, Mercy Lapp answered an ad in The Budget to work as a mother’s helper for Matthew and Shanna Yoder in Seymour, Missouri. Mercy relocated from Shipshewana to give herself space and time to heal after the death of her beau in a fishing trip on Lake Michigan. Abner Hilty fled Shipshewana to Montanato work on a ranch after he and his twin brother witnessed a murder. Now that the killer is safely behind bars, Abner decides to visit his brother Abram in Missouri where he’d settled with his bride of one month. Mercy is surprised to see Abner there, and equally surprised by how much he’d changed physically since she’d last seen him. Even though the two live in different districts they occasionally see each other in town and form a fledging friendship. As Christmas approaches, an unexpected heavy snow lets Abner and Mercy spend a lot of time together in wintertime fun. Abner hopes to interest Mercy in a more permanent relationship. But then Mercy has a potentially life changing discovery. Will she return to Shipshewana to answer the summons of the past? Or settle in a new place? 
The Snow Globe
Victor Petersheim has left the Amish and works on a river boat on the Mississippi River, spending three months on the river then having three months off. During his off-work months he returns home to his Amish community and helps out on his grandparents’ farm. When he returns home after his most recent absence, he discovers his grossmammi has developed health problems and they’ve hired Esther Beachy to be a “mother’s helper.” Victor is unsettled by this woman living in their home, but has to accept it. Esther loves listening to Victor’s grandmother’s stories and while puttering around in a store while the grossmammi’s in the hospital, she discovers a snow globe that depicts an area where the Petersheims used to live. She buys it as a gift for the grossmammi to cheer her up during her hospitalization. Victor is touched by Esther’s gift and her care for his grossmammi, and strives to be friendlier. Will Esther’s gentle heart draw him back to the community? Or will he return to the river once again?   
Swept Away
He survived a life-altering event. She is facing one.
Sara Jane Morgan is trying to balance teaching with caring for her grandmother who doesn’t want to be cared for. When school lets out for the summer, the plans are for Grandma to teach Sara Jane to quilt as they finish up the Appalachian Ballad quilt Grandma started as a teenager. But things don’t always go as planned.
Andrew Stevenson is hiding from his past—and his future. He works as a handyman to pay the bills, but also as an artisan, designing homemade brooms. When Sara Jane’s grandmother hires him to renovate her home, sparks fly between him and his new employer’s granddaughter.
It doesn’t take Sara Jane long to see Drew isn’t what he seems. Questions arise, and she starts online researching him. What she discovers could change her life—and her heart—forever. 
Sounds like a lot of great reading coming our way from Laura V. Hilton! Remember to leave a comment for Laura, and you’ll be entered to win a free copy of A White Christmas in Webster County!
Here are contact and purchase links for Laura:
twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton
Purchase Laura’s books:

Interview with J.E.B. Spredemann

Hello J.E.B. It’s nice to meet you. We’re so happy to have you at the Mine today. I found out when doing some research the J.E.B. stands for Jennifer, Emily and Brandi. J Are we talking to all three today, or just Jennifer?
It’s just me, Jennifer. Thank you for having me!
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself (selves)? What books do you have in the works, and what book are you giving away this week?
My first book released in November of 2012 and has done wonderfully. God is so good!
So far this year, we’ve released Leah’s Legacy (Amish Girls Series – Book 8), and Learning to Love – Saul’s Story. I have a book due to release in September. It is book three in the Amish Secrets series, and is titled A Secret of the Heart. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon. Other books releasing this year include another novelette in the Amish Fairly Tales series and a Christmas novella from the Amish Girls Series.
Our books are available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook and can be purchased here:
I am intrigued by the thought of a book written by three people. Are you sisters?
I am the mother and Emily and Brandi are my teen daughters. The Amish Girls Series (a primarily teen series) is penned by all three of us, while the other books are written solely by J. Spredemann. (I kept the name so as not to confuse readers.)
Tell us some of the hardships of writing with others, and then some of the rewards. J
There aren’t many hardships. Once in a while, we’ll have a difference of opinion on how something should go.
Rewards are numerous. If you get stuck at a certain place, you can just hand it to the next person. There’s always someone encouraging you to keep going. Three sets of eyes usually work better than one.
I also learned you write Amish fiction. I’m excited to find one of your books and devour it. J
Yep, I enjoy writing about the Amish. Their lifestyle is intriguing. I’ve learned many interesting things in my research. If you’re looking for a book, An Unforgivable Secret is currently FREE on Amazon, as is Danika’s Journey.
What made you decide to move to southern Indiana? Was it for the express purpose of the Amish Community?
Partially. Ever since I visited Pennsylvania at age twelve, I’ve wanted to move out this way. We decided on southern Indiana because we believe this is where God led us.
Did moving across country affect your writing in a good way, bad way, or not at all?
I think there’s a good and bad side to just about everything. I choose to focus on the good. Yes, it was a little unsettling but I prepared myself for that. Now that I’ve settled in a little more, I’ve been able to focus on writing. Moving has provided new opportunities I never imagined, such as being involved in the making of the Amish-themed documentary, Breaking the Silence, which is due to release in February. You may view a trailer for the film here:
What made you want to be a writer?
Oh boy! I have no idea. I’ve always loved writing and dreamed of writing my first book in high school. Only until recently has that dream become a reality.
What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome to reach your goals?
We began writing at an inopportune time, as far as publishing is concerned. I’d scoured through Writer’s Digest books to look for publishers accepting manuscripts. None of them took unagented manuscripts, so the next step was to look for an agent. I found a small handful of agencies that might, which turned into one, that was accepting manuscripts. I contacted them and was informed my manuscript was not the length they desired.
At this time, I felt a sense of urgency and really wanted to get my story into readers’ hands. So, I weighed my options and jumped into Indie publishing with both feet. I think it was the best decision I could have made and I thank God for leading me in that direction.
Thanks again for joining us today. This has been an awesome interview. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you. J