She's stopping by the blog today to talk about her book, Winter Wonderland and to host a book giveaway contest! Yes, you guessed it, Diane is giving away one e-book copy of her book right here:
Isn't it a lovely picture for the book cover? The winner will receive their copy of Diane's book well before the 25 Days before Christmas countdown! All you have to do to enter the contest is to: 1) Leave a comment below this blog post and (2) Leave your e-mail address with your comment so we can contact you if you win the contest.
The contest starts today (Nov. 15) and will end on Sunday, Nov. 29. After an old-fashioned random drawing conducted by me (Alexis), the winner will be announced here, in the comment section of this blog post on Monday, Nov. 30.
But the first step is to read Diane's interview. Enjoy! :)
*Questions from Alexis are in bold, answers from Diane are not in bold.
Alexis: Thanks for agreeing to this author interview, Diane!
Diane: Thank you, Alexis for inviting me into your world of readers. I hope I can contribute something worthy and put a smile on some faces.
Why don’t you start by telling my readers about yourself? What’s your passion (outside of writing)? Why did you choose a writing career? What do you love the most about being a writer? Anything you don’t like about your work as an author? Feel free to talk about your family and favorite season too!
Writing really is my biggest passion now. Our children are grown and live around the globe, and I’m fairly restricted due to a back injury, so I’m up early with my portable keyboard on my lap, on my chaise lounge in my office. I’ve written since a young age; poems first on an old Royal Manual. I did newspaper reporting when the kids were young, and then put that on hold and did my best job ever, raising our three children.
During those years I did stringer work for area newspapers, ancestral history and I wrote appeal letters for large non-profit organizations. I’ve written over 300 hundred short-stories and had a four year weekly column in a Michigan magazine. Many stories have been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul (book series), Ideals Magazine and various other books and magazines. My first book was Carolina in the Morning, written when we lived on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and loved the research that took us to Charleston.
I think what I enjoy most about writing is creating my characters and make them come alive. I feel bad when the book ends, having to say good-bye to them. I dislike mostly the promotional part. Since it’s hard for me to sit I no longer do book signings like I did for my first couple of books, and it’s something I enjoyed. Meeting people, talking and sharing with others and getting their feedback is wonderful! Now I do it via email and Facebook!
Your novel, Winter Wonderland, is set in 1951 after the end of World War II. Why did you choose that timeline for your story?
I was born after the war and my father was in both fleets of the U.S. Navy. I was raised in the college town of East Lansing, Michigan, across from Michigan State (University now). We had a large older home and Mom and Dad rented rooms to the students, and the time period was very special to me. We had family in Grosse Pointe Woods, a Detroit sub, and often went to visit them. When I got older, Mom and I often went to JL Hudson Company in Detroit. We’d visit Sander’s Ice Cream Shop and enjoy the Gingerale Company. They were all special places, as well as other stores and Detroit. This was in the mid to late 1960’s. But back to 1951, the economy was booming. The Big Three Auto companies were drawing people into Detroit from all over the US to work in the automotive industry. I tried to capture this, and the feelings some may have experienced coming different areas.
Tell us about your character Jeb Willis. What makes his role in this story significant? What are his character flaws? Describe his looks.
Jeb is a good provider and brings his family from a rural area in Florida to secure a job with Ford Auto Workers. He has contacts and makes a wise decision to buy a home in the area, and his family is his life. He’s in his late forties and a rugged good-looking kind of man; with a natural type of wisdom that comes with a good heart and easy manner.
Tell us about your character Cora Willis. What is her role in this story? What are her greatest strengths? What is her secret passion? Describe her personality.
Cora is Jeb’s helpmate in every way, and a kind loving mother to her children. Ruth is their oldest, and after one year of book keeping out of high school, has her sights set on continuing with a career. Cora encourages Ruth, and they are close. Cora sees to the needs of her family as they adjust to the Detroit suburb Dearborn, and she gets involved in an area church and women’s group.
How does Ruth’s business savvy and independent spirit play into your telling of this story?
Ruth is a go-getter and learns as much as possible about the new area, taking instruction from a knowledgeable man who knows the city. She takes advantage of her benefits working at Hudson’s and knows her siblings needs, purchasing things on lay-away; something we don’t often see today, and she helps her family.
Ruth meets a man named Clint who you say, “changes everything.” Who is this Clint fella and how does he go about changing everything?
The best laid plans…and with Ruth she continues to keep her eyes on her goal, but they take a second glance at Clint too. Clint has a good position with Vernor’s Gingerale Company, and a chance meeting with Ruth at the revolving doors on her first day going for an interview at JL Hudson’s, gives him pause to reconsider his priorities in life too.
Why did you choose Detroit for the city in which to set your story?
JL Hudson Company was once the largest building in Detroit, and it’s during the time period, after WWII I wanted to capture. My mother, now age 90, speaks about going to JL Hudson’s with her parents and older brother as a young girl. Consider the early 30’s and young children were safe to walk from the Vernor’s plant with their free cream ales, and back to meet Mom and Dad at Hudson’s. Steve and I went shopping in Detroit when we were first married, but the malls started taking over and although people continued to shop in the motor city, Hudson’s was well known in many malls around the state.
What did you enjoy most about writing this Christmas story? Explain.
Although I was a little one during this time period, I enjoyed the research, the styles and the gentle spirit people had, helping one another. The excitement of the booming city and simple walks along the sidewalks looking into store windows, night or day; with snowflakes falling is something I’ve experienced, and wanted to share that with readers.
What do you want your readers to remember most about this book? Why?
The excitement that happens when change takes place and setting a goal, trusting God to provide can lead through detours, but also wonderful experiences.
Thanks for stopping by today, Diane! Do you have any final thoughts?
Wishing you and your readers a wonderful Thanksgiving and Christmas, Alexis! Thank you for the opportunity to share my book, Winter Wonderland, with your readers!
Diane started her writing career at an early age when she asked for a typewriter for Christmas. She pounded the keys writing poetry and short stories in grade school on an old black Royal manual. It wasn’t until her husband’s work took them to a southern town she wrote her first column, “Yankee Viewpoint’s” for a local newspaper, covering hard news and feature stories in the area.
Upon returning to their home-state of Michigan, she did stringer work, ancestral history, and donor appeal letters for non-profit organizations; while doing her favorite job ever, a stay-at-home Mom. She is the author of Beach Walks and Carolina in the Morning, On a Summer Night, Stories from a Porch Swing, Winter Wonderland and Texting Mr. Right. Diane was a columnist for a weekly magazine, for four years, and her stories have appeared in a number of magazines and books. She is the author of over three-hundred short stories.
Diane and her hubby Stephen have been married for 43 years. They are the parents of three grown children and three grand-gals. Diane thanks the Lord daily for her loving husband, three great kids and for giving her the desires of her heart. Her next book, This Side of Heaven, will be released in Winter 2016.
Book blurb for Winter Wonderland:
In 1951 WWII has ended and the economy is booming around the country. Jeb and Cora Willis are excited about a new start.
Like many families, they decide to move to the city of Detroit for a factory job that will bring prosperity and a better life.
While most young women are looking for husbands, Ruth tries to further her career and concentrates on obtaining a job with her business skills at Detroit’s JL Hudson Department Store. She feels good about her new office position and then meets Clint…who changes everything. Was he part of the reason for their move?
Celebrate the Christmas holiday and follow Ruth in this romantic story, during Detroit’s heyday, in Winter Wonderland.