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

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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

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.