Sunday, March 1, 2009
Dianne Sagan - Writer, Ghostwriter
Everyone knows I like interviews. I enjoy discovering information about people, especially authors. As a part of the Virtual Book Tours, I often visit with the different writers I'm assigned each rotation, and I have met some interesting people. This week's guest on Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap is no different: author and ghostwriter Dianne Sagan.
Dianne is a ghostwriter, writes Op-Ed pieces for the Amarillo Globe-News, is a writer of short stories, flash fiction, and novels, as well as a book reviewer.
I began with one question I ask most authors: What in your past, home life, and/or education helped you to become a writer? How?
Dianne: First, thank you for having me here, Vivian. I think I've always been a story teller. You know there is at least one in every family and in my birth family, I'm it. When I was in high school, I had a series of wonderful English teachers who emphasized literature and writing. We learned how to write papers from the skeleton up. I realized very quickly that I loved it. My husband and my six grown children are my biggest discouragement and fans. I was a history major in college and loved essay questions and research - most people respond with "ugh" - me - I love it.
I started with writing stories about and for my children. Then, got an MA in Communications.
Vivian: Do you write anything other than Christian works, not that there is anything wrong with writing just Christian stories and books? If so, what? What is your next project?
Dianne:I do write more than Christian works. My novel, working title Escape is currently with a publisher for probable publication. It is mainstream/suspense. I love reading mysteries and suspense, as well as other types of books. I've published articles on writing and women of the Bible and over 36 op-ed pieces on education, politics, social issues and women's issues. I also write nonfiction short stories, flash fiction, and am a ghostwriter.
My next project is in research right now and I'll start writing this next week - a book I call "The Fisherman's Wife" - a work of fiction about Peter's wife and another called "Exile" about the experience of Mary and Joseph seeking refuge in Egypt. I also am working on the basics of a mainstream novel and a couple of ebooks to college students and potential students.
Vivian: I do enjoy mysteries and suspense novels (as my Midnight Hours shows). Your book about Peter's wife sounds interesting. I've often wondered how the wives of the apostles managed.
Many people ask authors why or how they started writing. I know you've covered that in other interviews, Dianne. What I want to know is how or why you keep writing?
Dianne: Vivian, I keep writing because that is who I am. I would write even if I didn't publish anything. I see stories every where I go. I guess I never lost my imagination after childhood like so many adults do. I look at things and wonder "what if" or "who lived in that falling down house and what was their story."
Vivian: Are you involved in any writing group or groups? If so, how has being a member helped you be a better writer?
Dianne: I've been a member of Panhandle Professional Writers (one of the oldest writers groups in the country - right here in the middle of the Panhandle of Texas) and Inspirational Writers (a group with several chapters around Texas). I've also participated in critique groups. The benefits for me have been networking, encouragement to keep going when I see other people succeed, finding out about classes or conferences that have given me the chance to learn from editors, agents, and successful authors who are multi-published. Critique groups can be very helpful if the members are honest and keep their egos out of the way. The focus has to be on the work and not the person. You as the writer have to learn what advise to take and what to discard.
Vivian: If any our readers might be interested in ghostwriting,how you suggest they start?
Dianne:I got started by meeting another writer (a member of PPW) who was ghostwriting and started getting more work than she could handle and asked if any of us were interested in it. Since I wanted to be a self-sufficient freelance writer, I needed a reliable and pretty steady income - for me ghostwriting was the answer. Ask around in writer's groups you are in locally or on line. It's best if you're writing skills are good. Book packagers us a stable of them. You can google "book packagers" and then contact them. There is an excellent book called "Picks and Shovels" by Dee Burks and Liz Ragland that is a great source. Also, research it in magazine like "The Writer" or "Writer's Digest." Do be careful of online listings for ghostwriters. Some of them are good, others are not as good. Do your homework before getting into an agreement with a client. Work with a contract. Your library may have some good books on ghostwriting.
Vivian: Networking does pay off, sometimes in unusual ways.
You've probably answered this question many times, but what influenced your writing?
Dianne: I think that my life experiences have influenced me and teachers along the way - my high school English teachers, grad school professors, writers that I admire like Francine Rivers and James Clavell. There are many other authors that I read and admire but too many to list here. My own experiences include stuggles with self-esteem, self-confidence, believing in myself and my talents, overcoming a first abusive marriage and parents who have little regard for me, and learning from 10 years of single parenthood with three children. Also, a second marriage to a wonderful man who is also a writer and a freelance editor. I think I am a work in progress and have grown a lot as a writer, speaker, and seminar facilitator over the years.
Several people have asked me at book signings what inspired me to write Rebekah Redeemed. I think that the underlying theme of hope ( which I feel springs eternal in all of us if we let it) and the feeling that all of us have things to overcome in our lives is what planted the seed for Rebekah Redeemed. I many ways this book is also historical fiction with Biblical characters. Since I'm an avid researcher, I check out climate, geography, culture, customs, daily life, food, and history before writing.
Vivian: Dianne, do you have anything else to share with readers?
Dianne: I would encourage people to read anything and everything. Use your public library. Over the years I've had occasions when I was so broke that I couldn't even buy a used book for more than 50 cents. I think that people forget about their public libraries. They are a wealth of resources for research. Use the librarians in reference. There are thousands of books at your finger tips and you don't have to spend a dime to enjoy them or find somewhere to put them when you run out of shelf space. Of course as part of your reading, I hope you'll include my books. ;)
Happy reading and writing to you all. Thanks again for having me as your guest, Vivian.
Vivian: Thanks for joining us today, Dianne. Your life and writing both sound interesting. I’ll be watching for your books.
Wednesday I'll have an excerpt from your book Rebeka Redeemed and information about the book.