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

 

Let’s Give a Big Welcome to Darlene Franklin!

Please give a warm welcome to Darlene Franklin, our gem of the week.

Darlene Franklin | Author

Darlene Franklin | Author

MR: We’re so happy to have you here this week, Darlene. 🙂

You’re one busy lady. Could you tell us how you manage to juggle such a busy home life, a full-time writing career, and a cat?

DF: Do I still mention a cat in my bio? Uh-oh. I miss Talia greatly. Actually, lately, I’ve had to struggle with slowing down. I live in a nursing home, and my health doesn’t allow me such an aggressive writing schedule. I do still spend plenty of time with my grandkids, friends here at the home, and online.

Continue reading

Sandra Merville Hart Interview and Book Giveaway!

Today I’m interviewing Sandra Merville Hart. Her debut novel, “A Stranger On My Land is just out, and if you leave a comment after the interview, you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free copy of her wonderful book. I loved it!
Hello, Sandy! Glad to host you on The Diamond Mine! “A Stranger On My Land” is your debut novel. How long have you been writing fiction?
 
I wanted to be a writer in elementary school and actually wrote my first novel, a mystery, in the sixth grade.  I received no encouragement. I rightly took this to mean that my story was not a good one. What I didn’t know was that most first attempts aren’t very promising. I let my dream go.
It returned to me about ten years ago. After spending time taking correspondence classes and a couple of college writing classes, I began writing in earnest.
 
I noticed your historical references after the ending, and found them very interesting. How did you come upon the idea for placing your novel in this specific point of time during the Civil War?
 
My dad lived on another mountain in Tennesseein his childhood. The mountains of Tennesseehave always had a strong pull on me.
The BattleAbove the Clouds, fought on Lookout Mountain, fascinates me. The mountain is so tall that fog shrouded the middle section during the battle. Folks in the valley watched soldiers from both sides climb beyond the fog as fighting continued. It must have been quite a sight.
My research showed that many who lived on the mountain hid in caves with the armies of both sides of the conflict in the area. This sparked my idea.
 
 Has the Civil War held a special fascination for you? As Americans, we all have our own views of this nation-changing conflict, but I’d like to know what significance it has for you.
 I can’t remember what first captivated me about the Civil War. It may have reading Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell while in high school. I believe it was the longest book I had read up to that point. (And one of the few of that length I’ve read, now that I come to think of it.)
My fascination grew as an adult when visiting historical sites. My interest always perked up when finding a connection with the Civil War.
Even after I let my dream of becoming an author slip from my fingers, I still wanted to write a book set during the Civil War. It was one of the first ideas I pursued at writers conferences only to be told at that time no one wanted them.
I’m glad that changed.
 
So am I! Did you have an outline, or did you just write as inspiration hit?
 
When I first started writing, I outlined my chapters before beginning my books. I don’t do that anymore. Now, when I begin a novel I know the ending, but how the characters will get there isn’t clear. I pray that God will give me His story and the book takes off in surprising directions. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought after typing a scene, “I didn’t know that was coming.”
It’s like I’ve relinquished control of how the characters will react. I like this way of writing much better.
 
I agree! It’s pretty exciting to have your characters surprise you! I’m curious, aside from what you share in the epilogue concerning actual historical people, were any of your main characters based on you or people in your life?
 
Signs of Carrie’s feisty spirit flash throughout the story. When I think of feisty women, my grandmother definitely comes to mind. If you ever watched the TV series, Beverly Hillbillies, you have a good idea of what my grandmother was like.
So my grandmother probably influenced this side of Carrie’s character.   
 
This is your debut novel, but I know in my case, my debut novel is not my actual first novel. Is this one your first, or do you have others?
 
I’ve written about a dozen books so far. If I’m not mistaken, I’m writing my thirteenth novel right now.
 
Wow! That’s great. I’d like to know more about your writing journey. What first inspired you to write down a story?
 
My love of reading began in the third grade when my teacher took us to the library weekly. I didn’t know what to start with, and the librarian suggested biographies. I loved learning about people in history. Now that I think about it, that’s probably where my love of history originated.
Soon after this, I told my mom that I wanted to be a writer. Lack of encouragement was a major stumbling block for me because I lacked confidence.
 
Well, I hope you have confidence now. You’re definitely a writer! What is your writing process like?
 
I begin each writing day by reading a chapter in the Bible. It seems to ground me for the day. Then I open up my current WIP, update the word count from the previous day’s writing, and let my imagination go.
 
Sounds like fun to me! What do you want your readers to experience through your writing?
 
I really want them to go on a journey back in time with me, when times were both simpler and more difficult in their own way.
 
What are you working on now?
 
I had an idea for a romantic suspense novel. It’s a contemporary novel but still has a historical element!
My next novel will be another Civil War romance. This one will be set in Gettysburg. I can’t wait to write this one!
 
Be sure to let me know when you finish it. I’ll look forward to reading it!
 
Thanks for hosting me today, Nancy. I’ve enjoyed our conversation!
 
I have too, and I hope your book does well. I certainly loved  reading it!
 
Here’s a short blurb from Sandy’s book, “A Stranger  On My Land.”
Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find a wounded soldier on their land after a battle which later became known as “The Battle Above the Clouds.” Adam, a Union soldier, has been shot twice in the arm. Though Carrie is reluctant to take Adam to their cave where her family hides their livestock from both armies, she cannot turn her back on him.

But her Aunt Lavinia, bitter over what Yankees have done to their land, urges Carrie to allow Adam to die. Carrie refuses, but cannot remove the bullets. Adam’s friendship with Jay softens her heart toward him. It’s not long until his gratitude and teasing manner spark a friendship between the young couple. Even though Carrie’s father fights for the Confederacy in far-off Virginia, her feelings for the handsome young soldier begin to blossom into love.

When Adam’s condition worsens, Carrie knows a Union surgeon is needed to save his life. How can she accomplish this and keep her family’s hiding place a secret?

 
You can find Sandy on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7
Don’t forget to leave a comment for Sandy, and be entered in the book giveaway drawing!
 

Welcome Sylvia Wheatley to the Mine!

Today I’m privileged to have independent author Sylvia Wheatley with me on the blog. She’s produced several books in both fiction and non-fiction. As a special treat, Sylvia has agreed to make one of her titles Your Time or Mine available for free until the end of the day tomorrow (July 31, 2014). Read ahead for details.

Welcome, Sylvia! I’m so glad to have you with us today. Tell the readers a little about yourself and how you got into writing.

I was born in South Africa and brought up in a home where my parents loved the Lord with all their hearts. At nine years of age my mother told me I was not a Christian because they were. This made me think and I asked Jesus into my life. At twenty one I came to England and went to theological college.
  After college I trained as a registered general nurse and when I was trained nursed. I then married, had a daughter and became a district nurse. After that I became a teacher and later a chiropodist. I also became the minister of a church.

  I have always written, right from very young. Stories, articles, Bible studies, anything. To me writing is an intrinsic part of my life. I cannot imagine life without writing. My imagination is acute and I even dream stories though what I dream I do not usually write. 

 
How fascinating! I’ll bet you have some fantastic stories from all your travels. Since you don’t usually write about your dreams, what sort of books do you write and why?
Mostly I write novels and in all of them I like some excitement. Usually there is some medical aspect to a story though not always and there is always romance. My book ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ is about soul winning and I am hoping to publish some other Biblical books soon, God willing.
 
I’m a huge romance fan myself. I can’t seem to write anything without at least a touch of it somewhere. Discovering how it fits is always fun. What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
The most favourite part of the writing process is actually writing because I never plan my books. An idea pops into my head and I open my laptop and start typing. Because I do not plan I find the process very exciting because I never know what is coming next. It just comes. It feels as if I am reading a book, not writing it. Once the book is completed I go back and add to it, subtract from it, try to make it as readable as possible.
 
That does sound exciting! Like an adventure with your characters. 🙂 Writing seems to be full of adventures, including the publishing process. How did you decide to self-publish and what challenges/rewards did you experience with that?

 

I decided to self publish because going through publishers is a long and tedious process. It involves sending books to various publishers and waiting for ages to receive responses, even to having the book printed. Short articles are a bit different but even they take ages until you receive the final payment. There are many would be authors who probably never publish because of these difficulties and I have found from reading self published books that most of the ones I have read are good. 

 
What do you hope readers take away from your story?
I always hope people will enjoy the plot. I also want them to think about God and how necessary Jesus is to our lives. That does not involve preaching. It involves bringing it naturally into the story. One can clearly tell people of their need for Jesus in just a few words and then bring it up again later in the story. My book on soul winning is slightly different because it is about that subject but in that I try to make it as readable as possible, not preachy and with lots of stories.
 
Any last words to your readers?

If you like reading I invite you to read one of my books and make up your mind about it. Below are the links to my books and my web page. I am also on Facebook. I have a personal page and also an author page.

 
Don’t miss Book 1 of the ‘When Times Collide’ series, free on Amazon for 2 days only! Get your copy now at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KECYWI0. And make sure to leave a comment for Sylvia to make her feel welcome at the Diamond Mine.
 
Books by Sylvia Wheatley

Why Didn’t You Tell Me?

A book on leading people to Jesus
 
A romantic thriller set in East Germany and England
before and when the wall came down
 
 
A Christian romance set in Alaska and Great Britain
The first in the series ‘The Web of Lies’
A Christian romance and thriller
The second book in the series ‘The Web of Lies’
 
(Book 1 of a trilogy, ‘When Times Collide’))
This is a book about a young lady who accidentally discovers a
way to travel in time and travels back to just before the
first world war where she a friend who will change her life
 
(Book 2 of a trilogy, ‘When Times Collide’))
The first world war begins and Sylvia continues to travel back
in time while carrying on her own life in the year 2002
 
 
Web Page

Interview and Book Giveaway with Dvora Waysman

 Today I’m interviewing Dvora Waysman. She’s a multi-published author as well as a syndicated journalist, who lives in the ultimate city: Jerusalem! Her newest book, “Autumn Blessing,” an e-book published by Prism Book Group, is available now. After the interview, I’ll post a blurb about it. If you leave a comment, you’ll be included in the drawing for a free copy of “Autumn Blessing!” So, here we go!

 
Hi Dvora! I’m so enjoying getting to know you. Let me start the interview by asking what inspired you to start writing fiction books?
I have always been a writer – short stories, articles, poetry – anything that invoves the written word. I also love reading, so novels were a natural progression for me.
I’ve read that you began writing at age 7! What age were you when you began to write fiction novels? What was your first novel, and how long did it take you to write it?
My first novel was “The Pomegranate Pendant” now a movie titled “The Golden Pomegranate”.  It came late in life – in1995 – when I was 64. “The Pomegranate Pendant” is a historical novel set in Jerusalem over 100 years ago (in 1882, when the first Jewish Yemenites arrived in the Holy Land to escape their persecution).  I had to do a lot of research, and especially about Yemenite jewelry as my heroine is a silversmith.  It took me 9 months to write.
“The Pomegranate Pendant” was made into a movie. What was it like to see something that began as an idea in your head actually fleshed-out into reality?
Having it made into a movie was very exciting.  It is fairly faithful to my book although certain things were added for dramatic reasons.
I’ve heard some authors say they wished they hadn’t let go of creative control when their book was made into a movie. Did you feel that way? Was it hard to let other people take control of your story?
I had the right of veto and was present on the set for much of the filming – in fact I appear, like Hemingway, in a cameo part – but if you blink, you miss me.  I exercised my veto on a rape scene they wanted to include. It held  up the filming for a while, but in the end they agreed to delete it.
You’ve certainly had a very interesting life so far, and I can see that some of your books incorporate your experiences into them. After I read “Autumn Blessing” I found myself wondering how much of it was based on your own life. Care to expound on that?
“Autumn Blessing” is pure fiction, except for the name Dorothy which was my name in Australia (Dvora is the Hebrew version).  Thankfully I am not a widow and have been married 59 years.  But I think all fiction must represent emotions the author has experienced from time to time, or it would not be realistic.
I really enjoyed the way you describe Dorothy as if she were a flower herself, coming out of a dark, dormant phase and gradually responding to light and new growth. Was this a familiar process for you in your own life?
In my long life, I have lived in many places and travelled the world,sometimes on book tours  When I was young, I lived a few years in London and Youth Hostelled  my way around Europe; I have spent time also in the Far East – Hong Kong, Bangkock and Singapore.  But my life took on a new dimension when we came to the spiritual city ofJerusalem.  It is a great privilege to live here.
A large portion of American women (the baby-boomers, as we call them) are now around the age of your main character Dorothy. What advice would you give on how best to navigate this stage of life known as the golden years?
The golden years are really a misnomer, for they can’t replace youth where every day is a new exciting experience.  But if you keep your heart young and take time to look for the dewdrop in the heart of the rose, you will go on finding life to be beautiful.
What is the main idea you want to convey to the reader through Dorothy’s story?
I think that when one door closes, another one opens.  We shouldn’t cry because it’s over, but smile because it happened.  Memories should be cherished.
What do you like most, and least about being a writer?
I love everything about being a writer. The joy never leaves me.  I am in love with words!
What are you working on now?
A new novel called “Searching for Sarah” set in Jerusalem.  It is about a portrait of a young woman found abandoned in a studio and the search for the artist.  I am 83 now, so this will probably be my swan song.  It is both prose and poetry and I aim to make it memorable if God grants me enough time to complete it.
I pray that He will, and more besides! Thank you so much for doing this interview, Dvora. I’m honored and thrilled to know you. I pray for blessings and safety to you in this challenging time in Jerusalem. May God’s protection cover you and all of Israel, and may there soon be peace. 
 
Now, here’s a short  blurb about “Autumn Blessings.”
Autumn can be a desolate season. For Dorothy, after losing her husband, the autumn of her life stretches before her lonely and uncertain. But a change, a new hobby, and new friends prove this new season to be bountiful with blessings.
Be sure to leave a comment, and you’ll be entered in the drawing for a free copy of the “Autumn Blessings” e-book.
To visit Dvora’s blog, click on: Dvora’s blog
To learn more about Dvora, click here: Learn about Dvora 
To read about and purchase her books, click on either of these: Dvora’s books on her websiteDvora’s books on Amazon

A warm welcome to Heather Day Gilbert!!

This week we will be talking to Heather Day Gilbert. She is a fascinating woman I’m sure everyone will enjoy getting to know. She will be giving away a copy of her bookMiranda Warning to the lucky person drawn from those who leave a comment.
Hi Heather! Welcome to the Mine. We are so happy to have you.
Thanks for having me today! Glad to visit.
Let us get acquainted. Could you tell us who you are, and what you hope to accomplish through your writing?
First of all, I’m a wife and mom (homeschooler). I think of myself as an author second, although it does take up a lot of my time at this stage! I’m a West Virginia gal who just moved back a couple years ago to my home state.
I feel my writing is one way of using my gifts and talents for God. I truly hope, above all, to bring stories to people that make them think, take them to a new locale (be it Greenland in AD 1000 or the back roads of West Virginia), and bring them characters they can relate to in some way.
Tell us a little about your genre and why you chose to write in that particular one.
I am actually writing in two genres now: Viking Historical (Vikings of the New World Saga) and Contemporary Appalachian Mystery (A Murder in the Mountains Series).
I chose Viking historical because the sagas are a rich source of information on a little-known period of history (I’m allegedly related to Eirik the Red, which fueled my interest), and in particular I wanted to highlight the Viking women who historically sailed to North America. Gudrid, the main character in my first novel, God’s Daughter, was a Christian Viking. So I felt it was interesting to explore what it would be like to be a Christian in a very pagan society. Freydis, the main character in my second (upcoming) book, was Eirik the Red’s daughter and was known as a warrior woman.
I also enjoy writing my contemporary mysteries (Miranda Warning is my first novel in that). My main sleuth, Tess Spencer, is a West Virginia “mountain mama,” and I really enjoyed creating a strong family dynamic in this series. Actually, come to think of it, a strong family dynamic runs through both series.
I guess I will start off by asking how you come up with your characters. Do you imagine them and then create, or model them after someone you know or have seen, etc.?
For the Viking historicals, I had the rough outline of who these women were and what they did. I just had to fill in the blanks as to why they did things and what motivated them. Character depth is very important to me, especially since I write in first-person point of view. I have to be in the main characters’ heads and try to understand them.
For  the mysteries, I do draw from my surroundings to some degree, since I live in West Virginia and so does Tess.
I love searching Pinterest for pictures of people who resemble my characters and for locations/settings so I can have visuals. You can find my Pinterest boards here.
I think all our characters are truest to life when they resemble people we know/have known or ourselves. Even when we’re writing someone totally unfamiliar or distasteful to us, we know they still have things driving them we can relate to, be it power, protectiveness, etc. I think the key, especially for writing in first person, is finding those points where we can relate and drawing those characters true to form, even if we don’t think that way ourselves.
Could you tell us a little about how you felt when you first realized you would be published?
Being published was actually my decision, because I self-published. The decision to self-publish was not a light one (like most of the indie authors I know). I had three agents and had submitted three books via traditional publishing routes. God just showed me the time was right to self-publish. It was something I hadn’t really wanted to do, because I knew I couldn’t afford to outsource a lot (formatting, editing, cover art, marketing).
But God provided people in my life who were able to help me with those things and it was a learning process for me—one of those things where “teach a man to fish, feed him for life” held true. I learned hands-on how to publish my books and it’s not something I’ll forget. It’s also not a solitary process. My brother is my cover artist; my critique partner edits and is my audiobook narrator, and the list goes on.
What is a day in the life of Heather Day Gilbert like?
This summer, I have spent much of my time marketing and doing a blog tour for my mystery. When school season rolls around, I hope to set hours for writing and let marketing take a back seat to some degree. But I think indie authors do spend a lot of time tweaking our marketing, because it’s up to us to get the word out on our books.
I do garden a little, too, though I’m no expert! Every year it seems we learn more about how to get those veggies to grow!
Tell us a little about who has given you inspiration in your writing, and why. I believe readers want to know the author to a certain extent. It makes the reading experience more enjoyable.
As far as believing in me, my family has always been a strong supporter of my writing. My parents, siblings, in-laws, husband, and children have all prayed for me on this writing journey and have shared all the ups and downs that come with it. When the first book released, we were all rejoicing!
Author friends also encourage me to keep going when I hit roadbumps. We uniquely understand that sinking feeling that results from a publisher rejection or a bad review. I love the support system of author friends I have met along the way.
I see that you homeschool. Could you tell us some of the trials and tribulations of that endeavor and how it affects your writing?
I think any homeschooler will say that some days it’s great; some days it’s extremely hard and you want to quit. Kind of like being a writer, actually! But in the end, you do it because you know that’s what’s right for that child. My son is in Christian school—that was the best choice for him right now. I homeschool my two daughters.
All my children are more independent learners now. I don’t think I could’ve written and homeschooled when all three were toddlers. I believe there are seasons in an author’s life, just like in a mother’s life!
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer such as myself about the whole ‘waiting’ process?
Waiting. That’s like my Achilles’ heel. I like to push and GO and not get hung up in the process. But sometimes we have to wait, to get to that next step. For me, it was years of waiting and submitting and thinking God didn’t care about my dreams.
But at the end of all that disappointment, I saw God had a BIGGER and better dream than I could even conceive of. I love being an independent author and I see now how this is the best fit for me. I love having control over everything from my production schedule to my audiobook narrator.
I’ve written many different manuscripts, but there is that one that kind of defines who I am as a writer. What have you written that sticks out in your mind as ‘the’ one?
Oh, wow. That’s really hard. God’s Daughter, my Viking historical, was probably my most ambitious book. I had many sub-themes and a lot to share in that one. It was my “mission statement,” if you will. 🙂 But Miranda Warning, my mystery, is just as much a part of me, and I feel the contemporary Appalachian writing is more reflective of my writer “voice.”
Every one of my books is really like a child. I wouldn’t ever want to settle and write something just to be trendy or formulaic. I write my heart.
What message, if any, do you want a reader to take away from your work?
I don’t like preachy messages in books. I want my books to reach readers, whether the readers are Christians or not. I want readers to remember my characters and the choices they made (good and bad). I do tend to focus on marriage in my books—both the highs and lows—and I do hope readers relate to that.
I know from my own experiences that when writing, sometimes a character begins to become a ‘part’ of us. Have you written a character like this? If so, could you describe the personality of the character and why you think he/she/it stays in your mind so vividly?
Again, I do feel that way with all my main characters, because I have to get into their heads to write first-person. I also feel my side characters are real…I have to, to write them properly. I will say I am very fond of Nikki Jo Spencer as a side character in my mystery series. She’s Tess’ mother-in-law and you can read an interview with her here.
But sometimes you have to strip away the parts of yourself you’d rather hide to get into your main characters’ heads. I’m doing that while writing Freydis’ story (my second/final Viking historical, Forest Child). It can be a scary process (trust me, Freydis is something else!), but I want to bring my readers an experience they will never forget. I personally love conflicted characters, like Scarlett O’hara or Anna Karenina. People who seem so real you can never forget them. That’s the kind of characters I strive to write. Readers might like them or dislike them, but I’m hoping they will never forget them.
Author Bio:
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Seventeen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as eleven years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.
You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert—Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Audible.com. Her Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, is hereon Amazon.

Interview and book give-away with Lena Nelson Dooley!

Today at the Diamond Mine, we’re digging into how Lena Nelson Dooley produces her gems! She’s a multi-published writer of contemporary and historical Christian fiction. Today we’ll be spotlighting the first book in her historical trilogy: “Maggie’s Journey,” a book I greatly enjoyed reading. 

Hi Lena, and welcome to the Diamond mine!
Your McKenna’s Daughters trilogy is your latest in a long line of wonderful historical stories. What made you choose to write historical fiction?
 
I’ve written and been published in both contemporary and historical fiction. The last several books have been historical. Writers come up with ideas and write proposals. Their agents send out the proposals to various editors. The last four to sell were historicals.
I see. I’m new at this, so it’s good to know! Do you do all your research before the writing process or also during?
I do research ahead of time, but I also do research during the process. I might be writing along and decide I want to use something in the story. I have to find out if that was possible in the time period. I also research setting details, society, news, clothing, food, and a number of other things, so all the details in my story are authentic to the time period. In my historical novels, only my characters and their stories are fiction.
I’m writing a historical fiction now, and I understand how much research goes into it. I really enjoyed all the details in Maggie’s Journey. I was especially struck by the details of train travel back then. Really interesting, and I felt like I made the trip with them. So, I’m curious. Do you use outlines for your stories?
I create a timeline, then divide it into possible chapters, then write a few details of what could happen. That’s all the outlining or plotting that I do on paper. Of course, the story develops and grows in my mind before I ever start writing.
How do your stories come to mind? Do you actively think of a scenario or character first, or do the ideas just pop in your head?
I do study people, and I’m always on the alert for interesting happenings. I do believe that God created me with a vivid imagination that He planned for me to use at this time in my life.
What was your first book, and how long did it take to get it published?
 
Home to Her Heart published by Heartsong/Barbour in 1992. I had finished writing it in 1984.
My experience is pretty similar. A book I wrote in 2008 will be my debut novel this fall. I guess that’s where perseverance comes in! Lena, what genres are your favorites for reading as well as writing?
I have very eclectic tastes in reading material. I do love reading historicals, suspense novels, contemporary romance, even some sci-fi and fantasy books.
Sounds like we have a lot in common! Do you have a favorite book or character among your stories?
It’s usually the characters in the book I’m writing at the time that I’m asked this question. I do love the characters in the book I’m writing. But I love most of my characters for their uniqueness.
 
What do you most want to convey to a reader through your writing?
I want first to entertain the reader. Most people use reading to take themselves out of their mundane world or to give them a break from the stress. And I always include flawed characters, who grow spiritually and emotionally through their circumstances. I hope the stories will help someone else who is facing the same kind of problems to see a way out of their circumstances as well.
What new stories do you have planned?
My new series Love’s Road Home is about people who have a second chance to find love. I’m writing the first novel right now—A Heart’s Gift.
Any advice for new authors?
Read, read, read. Read novels by good writers. Read novels in the genre you want to write. Then network with other authors.
Thanks for the advice. As a new author, I’ve got the reading part down, and am busy learning the networking part. Like this wonderful interview with you! Thanks so much Lena!
 
We’ll be giving away a copy of “Maggie’s Journey.” It’s the first book in Lena’s trilogy of McKenna’s Daughters. Just leave a comment with your email address and you’re entered in the drawing! 
 
Here’s a blurb about Maggie’s Journey:
Near her eighteenth birthday, Margaret Lenora Caine finds a chest hidden in the attic containing proof that she was adopted. The daughter of wealthy merchants in Seattle, she feels betrayed both by her real parents and by the ones who raised her. 
Maggie desires a place where she belongs. But her mother’s constant criticism and reminders that she doesn’t fit the mold of a young woman of their social standing have already created tension in their home. With the discovery of the family secret, all sense of her identity is lost. 
When Maggie asks to visit her grandmother in Arkansas, her father agrees on the condition that she take her Aunt Georgia as a chaperone and his young partner, Charles Stanton, as protection on the journey. Will she discover who she really is and, more importantly, what truly matters most in life? 
 
 
 To learn more about Lena and her books, visit her at: Lena’s website or enjoy her award-winning blog: Lena’s blog View and buy her books at: Lena’s books on Amazon and Lena’s books at Barnes and Noble
 
Thanks again to Lena Nelson Dooley for stopping in at The Diamond Mine!