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.

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?

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.

Rebekah Redeemed?

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.

Dianne's Blog
Dianne's Website



Lea Schizas - Author/Editor said...

Diane, ghostwriting for some reason frightens me. I know I have the passion to write my own stories but do you find the passion is not the same whem ghostwriting for another writer?

Crystalee said...

Diane, you had a very good point about English teachers. Having the right English teacher can help a teenager get through scroll and even steer them towards a career!

Great interview, Viv.

Helen Ginger said...

Unless going to the library becomes a habit, we do tend to forget about them. Perhaps in this economy, though, they will be used more!

Great interview.


Morgan Mandel said...

A sale to a library is still a sale, and there are a lot of them out there.

By the way, I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who enjoys writing about more than one subject.

Morgan Mandel

Jean Henry Mead said...


I have a book in print titled Escape, but it's a Wyoming historical novel. I've also ghostwritten a couple of books and would only do it again if I needed the money. I'm always worried that the customer won't be satisfied, although that hasn't happpened. Have you had to do much rewriting per request of your customers?

Vivian Zabel said...

Some interesting comments. Thanks, ladies.

I'll be gone a few hours, but I'll be checking in when I get back.

Nancy Famolari said...

I loved the idea of your Panhandle writer's group being the oldest in the country. I remember reading "Ladies of the Club" about their reading group. Wouldn't it be terrific to write about the oldest writing group -- idea's free, but if you write about it, let me know I want to read the book!


Katie Hines said...

I've always wondered how ghost writers got started. Nice to meet Dianne and learn of her success in that area.

Karen and Robyn - Writing for Children said...

Thanks so much for the information on ghostwriting. It's actually something I would like to get into.

I read Rebekah Redeemed and it's wonderful.Your research for this book is certainly evident.


Donna M. McDine said...

Hi Dianne...thanks for the valuable info on ghost writing. Much appreciated.

Donna McDine
Marketing Manager

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

I notice you write Op-Ed pieces. It's such a great way for an author to brand herself. I mention it as one of the ways authors can promote themselves by doing what they love--write. But I think very few do it!

Loved the interview, Viv!

Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Blogging at Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites pick,

Vivian Zabel said...

I'm back. I had to attend an OWFI board meeting in Norman, OK at the fancy new Embassy Suites where the conference will be April 30 - May 3.

Thanks, everyone, for stopping by. I hope Dianne will, too.

Sally Murphy said...

Great interview Vivian and Dianne. I've enjoeyd reading about such a diverse writer.

Dianne Sagan said...

Hi everyone, Thanks for your comments and questions.

Lea, sometimes it is a challenge to ghostwrite for someone when I have an idea for what to write in my next chapter of a book of my own, but I've found ghostwriting to be a good source of income. I also enjoy the process with clients. Some are more challenging than others, but all in all it is a good way to make a living. You're right that there is a little more passion for my own work as it flows from the heart and ghostwriting flows from the brain. I am one of the ghostwriters with a group called The Amarillo Group. We have a project manager that deals with the business end of it for all of us freelancers and that makes it great.

Jean, some clients who are not as clear about what they want for a finished product take more rewriting. However, most of the books I've done have required small additions or changes and were fairly quick to finish for a last draft. Then, the ms goes through a couple of editors and if they turn up anything, I fix it. I've had a couple of projects that took a lot of rewriting. Since I get paid by the project, I obviously didn't make as much because of the time required.

Nancy, you're right that would be a great idea to write a book about the PPW group - I'll have to give that some thought.

I want to thank all of you for visiting with me at Vivian's place and wish all of you happy writing and success.

conarnold said...

Thanks for the great interview, Vivian, and Dianne for sharing the interesting information about yourself and your writing.

Vivian Zabel said...

Hope everyone returns Wednesday for more about Dianne and her book.

Rena said...

I'm running a little late with all the blogs, but just wanted to say thanks for the interview. :)