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.

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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

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 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!

 

Hanging out with Jericha Kingston

Interview with Jericha Kingston

PT: Hi, Jericha. Welcome to the Diamond Mine!

JK: Thanks for having me, Peggy. 

PT: You wrote an Easter story set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. How did that come about? 

JK: Great question. I’ve always been fascinated by that era in our nation’s history, captivated by the photographs and documentaries about Black Sunday. I began writing about it. I’d entered a few contests with the opening chapter, and it scored well, so I thought I was onto something. One day, I reviewed the submission guidelines for Pelican Book Group’s Easter stories. Talk about a diamond mine – the publisher laid the ground rules, detailing exactly what they were looking for in a story. 

 PT: So you crafted your story based on the publisher’s prerequisites? 

 JK: Pretty much.

 PT: Was that difficult? 

 JK: Not as difficult as I thought. In fact, I loved the process. 

 PT: How so? 

 JK: Writing-to-spec caused me to create a story that surprised even me. When I’d previously written, I drew from my own ideas, knew where the story was going. Sometimes it’s difficult to translate the thrill of a scene you’ve repeatedly envisioned. But writing-to-spec, my characters constantly surprised me. I delivered the thrill. The process was a blessing, really. And in the end, if Pelican rejected my story, at least it wouldn’t be because I hadn’t followed the guidelines. 

 PT: (Laughs) But that could’ve backfired. If your story was rejected, wouldn’t you have a hard time getting it published elsewhere?

 JK: (Laughs) True. If the story was rejected, I’d have needed to increase word count, change the plot… even changed my heroine’s name. But you raise a good point, Peggy, because risk-taking is part of an author’s DNA. We’re mad, really. Which of us doesn’t labor at a computer for months at a time for the possibility of having our work published? Yet that’s what we do. We write stories because we must. Stories are trapped inside of us, clawing their way out. 

 PT: What do you try to deliver to your readers? 

 JK: A great story. A new setting, someplace we don’t read about all the time. I’m a reader. I understand how difficult it is to find a fresh read. Especially in inspirational romance.

 PT: Explain that.

 JK: An inspirational romance is a guy and a girl. They get together in the end. How am I going to weave a story that hasn’t been done before? I dig deep. Create complex characters. Develop an engaging setting and an intriguing plot. And always remember that if it’s boring me, it’s going to bore readers, too. Simple as that.

PT: What can we expect from you in the future? 

 JK: I’m editing a story I really love, a contemporary military romance. It’s good. And I know it’s good because it’s ripping my heart out. If I’m not in a puddle by the end, it’s back to the drawing board until I get it right.

 PT: Until you can translate the thrill?

 JK: (Laughs) Exactly.

 PT: We look forward to it. Thanks for being with us today here at the Diamond Mine. 

 JK: Thank you for hosting me, Peggy. I’ve enjoyed it. 

PT: Here’s a quick excerpt:

     “Lily.”
     She looked to the front porch where James stood, his face leached of color.
     “Walk toward me as fast as you can.” His voice cracked. “Now, Lily.”
     What? The bully was at it again, this time issuing orders. She sighed and stepped off her rung on the fence. Mr. Bloom was about to learn she didn’t obey tyrants. She released the top plank and would’ve turned to go, but something in his voice startled her.
     “Don’t look back, Lily. I’m begging you. Come to me.”
     She glared at him.
     His face crumpled, and he bounded off the porch and ran toward her.
     The beast was chasing her! And he looked…crazed. No. Terrified. The only other time she’d seen such a look was when—
     “Lily!
     Everything turned red. She was enveloped in a cloud. Fine dust stung her eyes and throat, choking her. She gasped, inhaled dirt, and coughed. Her mouth snapped shut, sand grinding between her teeth. She closed her eyes and hid her face behind the flimsy sleeve of her dress, protecting her nose and mouth. But it was no use.
     Shaking. The earth was shaking. Wind gusted, shrieked and moaned, almost as loud as her racing heart. Would it burst right through her chest? What’s happened? Is this a tornado?
     Wind-driven sheets of dust blasted into her flesh like piercing needles. She tasted dirt, smelled dirt, cried dirt.
     “Lily, grab the fence.” James coughed and sputtered. “The fence!”
     She tripped over her own feet to reach the corral and latch on. She clung there, wind and dust swirling around her, lifting her braid up into the air. Please, God, help me!



 Here’s your chance to win an e-book of Jericha’s novel, Waiting for Lily Bloom. Leave a comment to be entered!
 

 


James Bloom has prayed three years for rain and five years for a wife. His dreams are demolished on Palm Sunday, 1935, when a catastrophic dust storm hits Oklahoma, and his neighbor’s niece has to ride out the storm at his house–-overnight. The next day, he’s forced to marry her, an East coast city girl who can’t speak. Could this be God’s plan?

Married to a stranger in the dusty Oklahoma wasteland, Lily Driggers longs for her home. Yet somehow, her new husband is the only one who understands her silence.

As Easter approaches, Lily and James wonder if there is hope after the storm.

 

You can catch up with Jericha Kingston on:  
  TWITTER:
  FACEBOOK:
  BLOG:
You can purchase Waiting for Lily Bloom on pelicanbookgroup.comamazon.com, kobobooks.comwww.whsmith.com
Jericha Kingston–tomboy gone rogue–loves the visual, performing, and literary arts. She’s the winner of the 2013 Touched by Love Award contest (Short Contemporary), the 2nd place winner in the 2013 Laurie contest (Inspirational), and a Finalist in the 2012 and 2013 ACFW First Impressions contest (Historical and Romance). Her Easter novella, Waiting for Lily Bloom, released April 18, 2014 from Pelican Book Group.
A Georgia native, Jericha is comfortable in the solitude of the woods, or singing and acting before audiences. Her heart was stolen at age 16, and it’s never been returned. She and her husband have been married for a quarter of a century, and they have two grown sons. Ousting her inner tomboy has been futile, so Jericha is often found fishing, camping, or hiking with her Australian Cattle Dog.

Welcome May the K9 Spy!

I’m so pleased to welcome KC Frantzen and May (her Schnauzer) to the Diamond Mine today. They are a unique writing team with a heart for adventure and a message of hope. With three books currently published in this series (which you have a chance to win in our giveaway below) and a fourth on the way, you don’t want to miss these stories which bring smiles to children and adults.
 
Welcome, KC, it’s so good to have you here. You and May seem like quite the writing team. How does that work?
Thanks for asking. We’re so glad to be with you today. Here are some de-tails…

Since May speaks critter and has no thumbs, I’m officially the transcriptionist as she tells her stories. If you know Schnauzers, you know how verbose they can be. (I see several heads nodding.) So, she shares the story then I type. Afterwards, she naps while I research, add input and run first edits. She comes back in on final edits before we submit to our pawmazing editor, Sandra Byrd. Three books later, we have it down pat. 🙂
Ok ok. Seriously… She is the inspiration, especially since our stories are written in first dog. We usually find a quiet spot around the house or on the screen porch, then May cuddles in my lap or nearby as I work. When I come to a situation, she’s right there so I attempt to figure out exactly what she would do, given the particular circumstances, fictional or otherwise. So far, so good.
What is May’s story?
The series chronicles May’s adventures as she becomes a K9 Spy. The first book shares how she is rescued from an abusive situation through adoption. (By the way, most is really what happened when we adopted the real May.) She tries to figure out how to be as she interacts with the humans, “Dad” and “Mom,” and her grouchy Labrador sister and empathetic Schnauzer brother. One day she disobeys and plays outin the fields. After interaction with a Copperhead snake and a skunk she thinks might be a cat – ruh roh – she comes upon a “birdie” drone and a rickety old shed with a secret passage deeeeep underground. That starts her adventure to become a K9 Spy. Through most of this book, she wonders what herpurpose is since everyone else seems to have one. By the end, she’s figured it out, and it’s on to the K9 Service.
Book two starts in the K9 Service boot camp where an airport training exercise goes awry. She’s dognapped – Oh NO! – and lands in Paris, where she teams up with a feral cat who lives in an old cemetery. In searching for the perfect setting, I looked for the closest cemetery to the American Embassy. It was the Cimetiere de Passy, in the area Benjamin Franklin lived during his time as Ambassador. What a perfect link to American history. Of course, this called for a research trip. So fun!
In the third book, she’s finally a full K9 Service agent so the mission is classified. We can share a few things… like enemy dolphins and nuclear submarines! It’s quite the tale.We’ve just started plotting Book 4. You’ll discover what it’s about after we do! So far there’s a luxury cruise liner in the Baltic…

That sounds so exciting! And research trips are always a good idea. 🙂 What do you hope readers will take away from your books?
Time well-invested in a story that offers hope and a different perspective on what opportunity might look like in real life. We strive to offer strategies to deal with difficult situations, so when kids (and adults for that matter) find themselves in similar circumstances, they know what might work for them… or not… when they recall how May handled things.
And humor. We’ve been told May is funny. We like to think so!We write from a Christian worldview but the books aren’t “Christian” per se. They’re just good stories you don’t have to be concerned about your kids or yourself reading. We highlight morals and values and honor “freedom and the American Way.”

Do you have a favorite part of writing?
Ha! This depends on when you ask! Each new story is a challenge because we respect our fans so much. We work hard incorporating the best of our previous work, including what readers say are their favorite parts, while being true to May’s character and our mission. Creating the various stories is fun for sure. Seeing how the illustrators enhance our work is terrific too. Interacting with our fans at schools, fairs and festivals is so rewarding. When you receive a hug from a child to thank you for writing, or you hear from a parent or grandparent how you’ve changed a child’s life, or an adult fan makes a bee line to your booth to get the next book in the series or publicly shares that they purchased the set because others have told them about it or sends an email about how they sat down to read a few chapters and didn’t get up until they finished the entire book… It makes those long, long hours worth it!
If I must choose a favorite part though, it’s editing. By then our ideas are somewhat in place and much of the research is done. Then we work MANY hours to cut/craft to make it the best we know how. Finding just the right phrase or situation to illustrate what we want to say is quite gratifying. When readers comment enthusiastically in their reviews on something we struggled with, that is pure fun!
That’s a great way to look at editing. A lot of writers would say that’s their least favorite part. Speaking of which, what’s been the biggest challenge associated with these books?
Great question! Not sure I can answer what the biggest challenge is, because each phase has its share. The first major challenge is dreaming the story then allowing myself to write badly on the first draft. Editing can be challenging but as you know it’s my favorite part of the process. Writing “the end” can be daunting, because the words you write must stand on their own – there’s nothing to add once in print.One of the biggest challenges is simply to be noticed. (Gracious interviews like yours help so much. Thank you again!) You see, we don’t have a large marketing budget. Today so many good writers are available, we are honored when someone chooses to spend time with us, then thinks enough of our work to share with friends and writes an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or their blog.

Any final words for your readers?

Come join us! We’d love you to join May’s pack on Facebook. www.facebook.com/maythek9spy . You can keep up with us there and on our website too. www.maythek9spy.com Our website has terrific sections for reader and writer resources, photos, a little more about us, a place to shop. And please email any time: may@maythek9spy.com. May will write you back! PAWSOME!



Thank you so much, KC and May. We’re so glad to have you at the Diamond Mine. Make sure you leave any questions or comments for them in the comment section below. And stop by KC’s Amazon page or KC and May’s shop to purchase the books and the cutest plush toy of May! Or check out the giveaway below to win free a free copy of all three books.




Here’s your chance to win the first three books of the May the K9 Spy series! Contest runs until May 28th, after which the winner will be notified by email.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Author Bio:
KC Frantzen learned to speak “critter” at a young age. As a veterinarian’s daughter, she was surrounded by four-footed friends. Occasionally her dad would bring home a patient needing care during the night. He’d put the pet carrier on the dryer, and she would stand on tippy toes to comfort the guest as best she could.She began writing in elementary school and even won the school-wide contest with a story on deep sea fishing. Though she kept writing here and there, it was mostly just for fun. KC taught fifth grade, worked for an oilfield supply company, a pharmaceutical company, created and managed her own supply business, owned and operated a franchise welcoming new movers with her husband… The list goes on…

Many years after winning the elementary school award, KC began to think seriously about telling May’s story, and completed the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice level course, which helped her to prepare.

She and her husband volunteer with a variety of projects, including the Joni & Friends Wounded Warrior Getaway. They enjoy traveling just about anywhere, which helps formulate ideas for May the K9 Spy. The family lives in the country hills of middle Tennessee with two Arabian horses and several dogs, including the real May.

 

Interview today with author Morgan Busse

Morgan writes Christian fantasy and the first two books of her three-book series are already out, soon to be joined by the third one. For our giveaway, the winner will choose whether to receive book one, “Daughter of Light” or the second one, “Son of Truth.” Enter by leaving a comment. Winner will be notified by email on May 21st.

Daughter of Light:
What if with one touch you could see inside the soul?

Rowen Mar finds a strange mark on her hand, and she is banished from her village as a witch. She covers the mark with a leather glove and seeks sanctuary in the White City. She lives in fear that if she touches another person, the power inside her will trigger again, a terrifying power that allows her to see the darkness inside the human heart . . .

But the mark is a summons, and those called cannot hide forever. For the salvation of her people lies within her hand.

 

Son of Truth:
Can a killer find forgiveness?

The war in the north is over, but the war for all the Lands has just begun.

As the Shadonae solidify their hold on the city of Thyra, Rowen Mar, the last Eldaran and savior of the White City, awakens to find herself hunted by those she has saved.

Meanwhile, the assassin Caleb Tala finds himself in the presence of the Word. The time of reckoning has come, and he must pay the price for all the lives he has taken. But in his moment of judgment, Caleb is given a second chance to change his life.

These two hold the power to save the Lands from the Shadonae. One must escape slavery, and one must choose to forsake everything before the world is consumed in darkness.



Okay! Here we go!

Hi Morgan, glad to have you on the Diamond Mine! Christian science-fiction and fantasy appear to be blooming, and in that genre, your books certainly stand out. Tell me what inspired you to write.
 
I never grew up wanting to be a writer. However, I always had a huge imagination and so the seeds to someday be a writer were there. As an adult, I had a lot of ideas and would share them with people, who in turn would say I should write. I would laugh, but inside I would say, “No way!”
Then one day I walked into a Christian bookstore looking for Christian science fiction and fantasy. I asked the lady working there and she gave me a weird look then pointed at the lone Frank Peretti book at the bottom of the shelf. What? That’s it?
I went home and my husband said I should write a fantasy. I still wasn’t convinced until we were on a long car ride to Seattle and I had this idea of a woman who could see inside people with a touch of her hand. As soon as I was back home, I found my husband’s old laptop and started writing. Eight years later that story was published and the title is Daughter of Light, the first book in the Follower of the Word series, a fantasy series.
         It’s always interesting to hear how an author begins this incredible journey into writing. I find it especially true with fantasy or speculative fiction, since the author is creating a world. I’m wondering, how much of yourself do you infuse into your characters?
 
All of my characters carry a piece of me inside of them. I know many authors who write characters apart from themselves, but I don’t know how you can dive deeply into your characters without firsthand knowledge of what they are like. That doesn’t mean they are all copies of me, but there is a quality, a fear, or a quirk that trails back to me.
         What aspect of writing do you enjoy most?
 
I once heard Jerry Jenkins say he doesn’t like to write, he likes to have written. I didn’t understand that at the time. Why write if you don’t like writing? But now having finished three books, one under a tight deadline, I get it. Sometimes you get so tired of writing and pushing yourself that you just want a break, but you can’t stop until you finish the story. So I love writing the end.
However, before you start to think I hate writing, I love it when the ideas flow, when everything comes together in a scene. It’s that aaaaahh moment! And it’s those moments that keep me going.
I also love the emails that come after the book is published. I love hearing how much people enjoyed my story and how it touched them or helped them through a difficult time (fiction can be such an encouragement during dark times).
         That’s so true. Good books and movies have given me many moments of inspiration and encouragement. What do you find is the least enjoyable aspect of writing?
 
Slogging through the wordcount each day. Sometimes the ideas flow, sometimes they don’t. But you have to keep pressing forward. However, it is very gratifying to look back after a couple months and see how far you’ve come and the scenes or chapters you didn’t think were good are actually quite good!
         Outside of your own books, if you were a literary character, who would you be?
 
Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. She’s smart, confident, and can be counted on through thick and thin.
         Good choice! How about describing your series in a single sentence for each book.
 
What if with one touch you could see inside the soul? Daughter of Light
Can a killer find forgiveness? Son of Truth
What would you sacrifice to save mankind? Heir of Hope
         Now describe each one of your main characters with a one-word attribute.
 
Rowen Mar: Hope
Lore Palancar: Loyalty
Caleb Tala: Strength
Nierne: Faith
         Admirable traits! What’s the most important thing you want your readers to know?
 
I write stories about how in darkness there is light. There is always hope, no matter how small. I have been through cancer scares, my husband has lost his job twice followed by months of unemployment, we’ve lost a house, and our youngest son almost died. Dark, dark moments in my life. But God was still there with me. That doesn’t mean I didn’t cry or wasn’t afraid. It means that even when I couldn’t see Him, He was still there, holding my hand. That is what I want readers to take away when they read my books: that God is with them.
         A message we all need to hear and remember, especially during the times of fiery trials and chastening that we all go through. Thank you for sharing some of your heart today. May God continue to bless you, your family and your writing. It’s been a pleasure to host you!
Morgan L. Busse writes fantasy for the adult market. She is the author of the Follower of the Word series, including Daughter of Light, 2013 Christy and Carol Award finalist. Morgan lives in the Midwest with her husband and four children. You can find out more about Morgan at www.morganlbusse.com