DIANE MERRILL WIGGINGTON
- Guest Author -
Today, I interview an aspiring author from Sacramento, California.
Welcome, Diane ...
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I am 53 years young as of this last March. My husband and I married 18 years ago and combined our families and had a child of our own, giving us 6 kids. We also have 5 grandkids that we don’t see enough of. We moved to the Sacramento area in 2001, from San Diego. We have a 5 acre farm in the small rural town of Herald, California. I raise a few goats and have an orchard of fruit and nut trees and grape vines. We love it here. It is so peaceful, you can hear the frogs and crickets at night and the stars are so bright, it really is incredible. I am blessed.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
I have been writing poems and short stories for my own enjoyment for years, so I decided to take a writing class some 10 year back and really enjoyed it. But like most people my life was so busy that I didn’t do anything with it. Just after my 50th birthday, 3 years ago I decided to see if I had what it took to actually write a book. So I sat down one day and just started writing a love story about 2 very strong willed people who fall madly in love, but must overcome a few obstacles to be together. Six months later, I had written my first novel, Angelina’s Secret. It felt incredible to tell a story with my words. Then I went about with re-writing and showing it to a few people and they loved it. That’s when I decided to publish the story.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
I usually shoot from the hip and allow myself to daydream about my charters and what they might look and act like. Don’t get me wrong, I understand about the process of making an outline, but I like to be surprised, just like the reader. The unexpected is much more fun when you let it flow. So far that has been my process. I do have an idea for a young adult manuscript that I have already completed an outline for. So basically I have used both methods.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Finding my voice. When I was younger, I hadn’t yet found a voice to express myself with. Now that I am mature, (Old) I can speak from a different place that I wasn’t able to when I was younger. Fear of failure or just not being good enough held me back. I have always been fascinated by people who could tell a story that others were interested in reading and know I get to do that, tell a story in my words that other’s say, “Wow, I loved your story.” It feels very rewarding and empowering.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Finding a free moment to write. I work full time and have a family and a farm. In fact, if I listed everything that was expected to do on a daily or even weekly basis, you would probably ask me when I found the time to write. And yet, I love it so much that I have written 2 novels, I’m working on the 3rd novel in my series and have written a children’s book that I am working with an artist to illustrate and I have completed an outline for a young adult book.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I was a registered dental assistant for 16 years, before I retired 18 years ago to be a full time mom to my youngest son. When we moved to Sacramento, I started a day-care in my home to give myself something to do with myself. I can’t stand to be idle. So now I watch children and write when they go down for naps or go home. It really is a hectic life. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
I don’t believe I have achieved it yet. I am shouting for the moon and have put it out in the universe that I hope to take my series to the small screen and make a mini-series out of them. “Angelina’s Secret, Isabella’s Heart and Olivia’s Promise,”
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am working on the 3rd book Olivia’s Promise, a children’s book and a YA novel.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Life and the beauty that is in the unexpected, simple moments of it.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
Historic Romance, Children’s, YA Romance. I am all over the place.
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Be true to yourself and write about what you would enjoy reading and find your own voice and not that of someone else’s.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
If I do run into that problem and it can’t be cured by a hot bath or a good night’s rest, I put it away for a week or two and them come back at it with fresh eyes. It never fails to come to me if I allow my imagination to roam free for a while.
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
Yes. Whenever I can find a quiet moment to myself without someone asking me to do something for them. It never fails, I sit down with a good idea in my head, already for a good session of writing and someone walks in and asks for something. I have taken up, writing things down in a note book and then coming back later and putting all the ideas together.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
My kitchen table or sitting on the couch. But mostly the kitchen table.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
I love the whole creative process of making something out of nothing. Initially you have a blank canvas and then, like magic a story appears out of your imagination. The words come to life before your eyes.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I love Diana Gibaldon. Her Outlander’s series was incredible and 20 years after reading her books, she has turned the series into a mini-series. I just love that and I am hopeful that one day I might be as lucky as her.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
Someone I knew stopped me in the store to tell me that she had read my book and loved it. Then she asked me when the next one was coming out. It was just very satisfying to know that someone got pleasure from something I wrote.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
I had some issues with the editing the first time out. I had paid to have the first book professionally edited and they had botched the job. Boy was that embarrassing! A word to the wise, always get your book edited and then have someone you know and trust go over the manuscript with a fine tooth comb before you release you book.
Needless to say, there were some harsh comments out there.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
I lost my brother and father, eleven months apart, in 2011. My brother was thirteen months older than me. He died from complications of pneumonia in January, and then my father found out at the end of October that he had cancer. He passed away a few months later, at the beginning of December. I was brought down to a very low point in my life, but that tragedy was also the catalyst that made me realize that life was short and you never know what is in store for you at any given moment. It is better to live every day to the fullest and do the things that you have been putting off, waiting for that right moment to accomplish your dreams. Put the effort into achieving your dreams today, because your tomorrow is not guaranteed.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love to travel and see new things and meet new people. I have always found people to be interesting and let’s face it, everyone is unique and different. Everyone has a story to tell and they are happy to tell it, if you are willing to listen.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes, and no. I had my first book professionally edited, but they were not really very good and they botched it badly. The second book, I paid someone who was a teacher, take a look and edit it. I believe she did a great job.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Sunny and warm, with a slight ocean breeze blowing off the water of a tropical beach. I love the ocean, with sandy beaches and warm waters. But then I also love the sunsets from my backyard, when the sky turns orange, pink and purple all at the same time and the breeze blows nice and cool, off of the delta and the trees gently swaying in the evening, during the summer time.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Bear Grylls. Have you seen his shows? If anyone could survive a deserted island, he could. It would be like Swiss Family Robinson’s, with tree forts and ingenious contraptions to catch food and start fires. I just think that he would be an interesting person to talk to and learn from.
24. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Write more books, tell great stories and enjoy my husband and being alone for a couple of years. Our youngest son is turning 18 this November and he is planning to serve a mission and then go off to college after that. We have spent so many years raising kids that I think it will be nice getting to travel and spend time with my significant other. There is a lot of things we have put off doing because of our children. We plan to travel and see the United States and maybe lay on a few sandy beaches.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I think that they are interesting, but they don’t necessarily sell books. Book covers sell books. Let’s face it, if the cover doesn’t look interesting, you won’t bother to pick it up and turn it over. And if you don’t pick the book up and turn it over, you will never really know if you are interested in reading it. The biggest hurdle is name recognition and getting a book in a person’s hands. If they like the cover and the feel of the book in their hands, chances are they will read the book.
26. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
I like strong female characters for a reason, that is because I have jumped a lot of hurdles and overcome a lot of obstacles to become a strong woman myself. So yes and no. My characters start out strong and fierce, while it took me many years to become strong and fierce.
27. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
Yes, because it isn’t easy to figure out who is legit and who is just trying to take your money. I have been learning on the job as they say and sometimes I have asked the wrong person for advice and been taken advantage of. I would love to get my books out there in large numbers, at box stores, grocery stores and airports. But the fact is, it is hard to get those connections unless you are well connected.
28. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
Not an option for me. I have a dream and I will keep going until I have achieved that dream.
29. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
I will always be attached to the first one because it played out like a movie in my head. It was up to me to express in writing the emotions and feelings I was seeing. It was an amazing feeling to put it down on paper.
30. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
I would say that simply creating and moving forward with the process is success. But my definition of success will come when I see my books on store shelves and I don’t have to beg stores to give me a slot to do book signings, but instead, they call and invite me to come to their stores for book unveilings.
31. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
I want the reader to get lost in the story and the fantasy of the book. I want them to forget about their everyday lives and forget their problems and just be immersed in the entire book. I want them to feel the emotions of the characters and cry with them, laugh with them, love with them.
32. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
I would love to turn my series into a movie or mini-series, that is a dream of mine. I have never written a screenplay.
33. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
The cover is important and should be well thought out, because a person will never pick up a book, if they are not interested in the cover.
34. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
The ultimate dream to me would be to get lucky and have someone in Hollywood read my series and think, “Hey that would make a great movie.”
35. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I wish that I was a marketing expert and that I knew what I was doing when it came to that sort of thing, but I’m not and I don’t, so I fall a little short in that department.
36. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
My books are self-published at this point, but I am not averse to getting a publisher who knows the business better than me, who would be willing to work with me.
37. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Strong, determined, dreamer, optimistic and non-judgmental. Strong because I’ve had to be. Before you can realize your dreams, the universe will test your resolve to determine at which point you will give up. So, this is where the determination comes in. I am determined to leave my mark on this world. I want my posterity to know that I was here. Once you have passed the test of not giving up on your heart’s desire, you are ready to fulfil your real purpose… the thing in life that really moves your heart. That is where the dreamer comes in. I’ve given myself permission to dream of the life that I want to live. It has taken me many years to get to this stage in my life, and now that I am here, I find it very liberating. An optimistic outlook is not always easy to pull off, but it is important to succeed in life. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down or get rejected, it only matters how many times you stand up again and keep going down the path to your dreams. I try to look at others and understand that they have travelled a different road then me. That their life experiences have been different and therefore, do not deserve my judgment. Life can be hard enough, without others judging you harshly.
38. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Rude people who hope for others to fail and Bullies.
39. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Scarlet Widow by Graham Masterton. I enjoyed the way he built up a sense of mystery and drew me into the story. I couldn’t wait to get back to reading the story.
40. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
That would be difficult to say, because I am pretty happy right now. I would have to say that selling more books would thrill me to death and having my name out there would be wonderful.
42. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
I would just like to encourage people to follow their dream and do what makes them happiest. It doesn’t always pay the bills, but that is what having a job is for, right. Otherwise we are all walking around on this planet, merely existing instead of really living. And life was meant to be lived to its fullest and enjoyed.
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Clancy's comment: Go, Diane. Good luck!