Thursday, January 01, 2009

Author Marcia Gruver - DIAMOND DUO - Free Book

Today we're welcoming Marcia Gruver with her debut novel. Marcia, tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Evidently a lot. It took me awhile to realize I’m actually guilty of this. The possibility occurred to me a couple of times, but I promptly slid back into denial—until a critique partner called me out.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’m an intuitive personality—a fancy way of saying my head is generally in the clouds. I don’t process my world with the five senses, but rather feel my way through. Details are lost on me, so I’m generally oblivious to my surroundings.

I once exited the restroom in a Mexican restaurant, sat down across from my husband, and took a couple sips of iced tea. Something made me glance up...into the startled face of my husband two tables back. I gaped at the smiling stranger sitting across from me, said, “You’re not my husband,” then shoved someone’s tea glass aside and hurried to my table. Did you say quirky or most embarrassing? I use this story for both.

I know what you mean. When I was doing the final edit on one of my books, I had accompanied my daughter to Austin to take her state test to become a hairdresser. I sat in the van and edited when I needed to go to the restroom. A McDonald's was next door, so I went in and hurried to the bathroom, all the time going over the story in my mind. I opened the door and came face-to-face with a startled man. Then I noticed the sign. Embarrassing! Now when did you first discover that you were a writer?

I could tell about the time in elementary school when I wrote a story that my third grade teacher claimed she loved, but the real “light-bulb moment” came when I attended my first writer’s conference in 2002. Before then I thought I liked to write. After experiencing the inimitable world in which we move, I knew I was a writer.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

Unbelievably, this writer of sweet, funny historical novels devours scary suspense and horror stories in her spare time. Think Peretti and Brandilyn Collins. Maybe I need it for balance. I’m also a member of Heartsong Presents Mysteries, a great cozy mystery book club. In other genres, I’ll pick up anything written by Linda Nichols or Francine Rivers. I love historicals, but try not to read those I might be tempted to copy. :-)

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Besides Diamond Duo, Chasing Charity, the sequel, releases in April 2009, followed soon by book three of the series, Emmy’s Equal.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

When it gets to be too heavy, I run, run, run in the other direction. I don’t stay long, though. :-) An hour or two on my PS3 playing Ratchet and Clank, a visit with my mom, or a drive in the country with my hubby, and I’m good to go again.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Some names come to me, others I research. It dawned on me recently that I need to choose names with historical accuracy. For Diamond Duo, I found an old census list of Jefferson, Texas, where the book is set. Since I wrote the story around the account of an actual unsolved murder, most of the names in the book are the real people who were involved. That made it easier. I just had to come up with my fictional character’s names.

I've visited Jefferson and was intrigued by that story, too. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

It would have to be landing a three-book contract with Barbour Publishing at my age. The reason this is so significant? I have five children, ten grandchildren, and one great-grandchild (gifts, not accomplishments) who are watching old granny with wide-open eyes. By striving to fulfill an impossible dream and persevering to reach an unreachable goal, I think I’ve taught them it’s never too late, and that you really can do all things through Christ.

You can't tell that from your picture. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

A cat. Cats know how to get what they want without making fools of themselves.

What is your favorite food?

Chocolate, what else? The writer’s staple.

Yes, M&Ms eaten at the computer while under deadline can pass for lunch, can't it? What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

Overcome it? I’m still working toward that goal. It would have to be my introverted personality and tendency toward being a loner—traits good for writing, bad for marketing. If you mean the writing itself, then the answer is my struggle with focus. I’m easily pulled away, especially while working through a difficult scene, by anything that looks to be more fun at the moment. A publisher’s deadline is the quickest way to overcome this problem.

A problem I’ve conquered? As you can imagine, my aforementioned tendency not to notice my surroundings makes writing descriptive scenes a challenge. I have to force myself to observe my environment; making mental notes of what I see, so later, I can translate it to the page. Even then, I tend to “feel” rather than see the world around me. If I can get that feeling onto the paper in words, I’ve done my job for the day.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Immerse yourself. Get into writer’s groups, both local and online. Find a critique group, one with writers a little farther along than you are so they can pull you up. Attend conferences every chance you get. If you feel called by God to write then seek Him daily for marching orders. Never, ever compare yourself to other writers, and never give up.

Exccellent advice. What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

I had so much fun writing Diamond Duo. The quirky characters got under my skin, though the story that inspired the book broke my heart, and the suspenseful elements kept me up at night. In her quest to win a fellow’s heart, my main character, Bertha Maye Biddie, seeks lessons on the art of wooing a man from a savvy young stranger. In the end, Bertha learns her chance meeting with the woman had nothing to do with spurned love and everything to do with eternal security.

I feel this question can best be answer by excerpts from the author letter inserted in the book:

“This story is woven around the actual murder of Annie Stone, aka Bessie Monroe, aka Diamond Bessie, on January 21, 1877, in Jefferson, Texas. The ill-fated Diamond Bessie left a mark so deep during her brief visit she’s still a household name in Jefferson today. I chose to call her Annie in the book, because I believe if not for one early, impetuous mistake, she’d never have needed these aliases or the others I didn’t mention.

I researched for months to learn why Annie made such an indelible impression on the town. From the considerable distance of 130-plus years, I found it impossible to get an accurate look at her. Even the opinions and attitudes of her day were conflicting. Some judged her a disease-ridden prostitute without morals or conscience. Others considered her an unfortunate young girl who lost her way. Jilted and abandoned by an older man at fifteen, possibly disinherited by her family and left to her own devices (emphasis on vices), then abused and victimized by Abraham Rothschild, there’s no question she had a rocky start.

As I stood over her humble grave in Oakwood Cemetery, I found myself in the same dilemma as Bertha Maye Biddie, the heroine of this book, who asks: “Devil or angel? I couldn’t tell.” I feel certain of one thing, however. From Annie’s vantage point, whether resting with angels or contending with devils, she would heartily approve of using her life to share my witness.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?

My website URL is
My blog is
I’m also a contributor to The Internal Monoblog at

Marcia, thank you for spending this time with us.

Readers you can order Diamond Duo by clicking on this link:

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book.


Becky C. said...

Great interview, and sounds like a great book.

Please enter me in the contest.

Thank you.

Becky C.


Martha A. said...

What a wonderful sounding book! it is funny how we all have those embarrassing moments that are funny to us later, but at the time, we wonder how we could have done such a thing. i know mine was when I was working at the public library in our small town at 16 and the governor of our state was there visiting and me carrying an armful of newspapers to the garbage bin, slammed a door into his assistant, barely missing him. I could not believe I did it! i mean, i knew he was coming!

kalea_kane said...

Please don't enter me. I just wanted to say that I loved the interview, and I read Diamond Duo several months ago, and I just loved it! It was absolutely fabulous!

lisa said...

I've read lots of great reviews on this author. Please enter me for a chance to win.

Carolynn W. said...

Sounds like a great book, thanks for the chance to win!

windycindy said...

Please enter me in this book drawing. Thanks for the interview
with Marcia Gruver and information
about her debut book! Many thanks,

Kristi said...

This sounds like a great book! Please sign me up for the drawing - either way, I have added it to my TBR list!


Rae Byuel said...

The book sounds wonderful! And the Interview was great! Please enter me into the drawing!


Carolyn said...

I don't know of these stories from Jefferson, Texas, but sounds intriguing.

thanks for sharing

ceashark at aol dot com

Megan said...

OOOhh an unsolveed mystery. how interesting! Sign me up please, an thanks for the giveaway!


Stacie said...

Please sign me up and thank you!

Danelle said...

Thanks for the interview. Please enter me into the drawing.

danelli04[at] hotmail[dot] com

Eileen Key said...

Diamond Duo is a super book written by a wonderful friend. I was so excited to hold it in my hands. Great interview ladybugs.

Marcia Gruver said...

Ladies! I'm up in the Texas hill country on holiday with my family, so I'm ducking in via my trusty Blackberry. Internet access up here is sketchy at best.

I first want to thank Lena for hosting me. I'm so thilled to come hang out with her. Next let me thank those of you who had such kind words for Diamond Duo. I'm so glad you liked it.

I'll be back in the flatlands tomorrow and promise to pop in more often.
Happy New Year everyone!

valerie2350 said...

nice interview - please enter me

Ausjenny said...

great interview please dont enter me as I have read this book and loved it. my favourite charactor in this book was actually one of the secondary charactors who I felt really made the book.
Oh my on the embarrassing moments.

Marcia Gruver said...

Ausjenny, let me guess. . .either Sarah King or Francis Biddie. Right?

Eileen! I knew this was a classy neighborhood. Great to hear from you. Love you, girl.

Leaving Leaky, TX headed to Bandera.

Very excited. In a little out of the way shop I found two antique first editions to add to my collection.
We're on our way home, but taking our time to get there. I'll check in later. Blessings, everyone!

christin said...

this looks like a great book. thanks for the chance!

jess said...

Wonderful interview, ladies. Thanks for the inspiration!

Marcia Gruver said...

Hi, Jess. Thanks for those encouraging words.

Had a wonderful day playing in the hills. Saw some of the most gorgeous country God ever created. Topped it off with a plate of delicious barbequed ribs in Bandera, Texas.

We're in San Antonio now--next stop home sweet home then back to deadlines and duties.
Thanks for tagging along with me on my trip! And blessings to everyone who has stopped in so far.

Janice Thompson said...

This is a great story, folks. You don't want to miss it!

Alli said...

This sounds great! Please enter me. Thanks!

Ausjenny said...

yes Sarah King she stole the story for me and I loved her.

darbyscloset said...

Okay, just in case this is one of the contests where the winner hasn't spoken up and you have to redraw ...please enter me...this sounds awesome!!!
Thanks so much for the opportunity!
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com