PLUS a giveaway of Diana’s novel, Running Lean!
I’m absolutely thrilled to introduce you to this week’s featured YA author. She’s sweet and funny and loves her motorcycle. Please welcome Diana Sharples!
About Diana Sharples…
Diana Sharples lives in Georgia with her husband and teenage daughter, along with a house full of pets. She holds a bachelors degree in communication design from the Atlanta College of Art, and for a number of years she pursued a career in science fiction/fantasy illustration. She won numerous awards for her work, which also appeared in publications in the US and Great Britain. In 2005 she returned to her first love for contemporary young adult fiction, but shifted gears to writing for Christ. Her novels won several awards for unpublished fiction, and her debut novel, Running Lean, was published in 2013 by Zondervan/Blink Books, a division of Harper Collins. Diana spends her free time gardening around her home and riding her Harley-Davidson motorcycle around the mountains of north Georgia.
Running Lean, is available through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Christianbook.com, and other online book sellers, as well as in bookstores. You can also check out other books from Zondervan/Blink by visiting their website at: blinkyabooks.com.
About the Photo…
Diana, with her 1975 Yamaha Enduro, which is the same motorcycle her character, Calvin rides in Running Lean.
Equilibrium. That’s what Stacey and Calvin found in each other. He is as solid as his beloved vintage motorcycle and helps quiet the constant clamor in Stacey’s mind. She is a passionate, creative spirit—and a lifeline after Calvin’s soldier brother dies.
But lately the balance is off. Calvin’s grief is taking new forms. Voices of self-loathing are dominating Stacey’s life. When struggles with body image threaten her health, Calvin can’t bear to lose another person that he loves. Taking action may destroy their relationship, but the alternative could be much more costly.
Watch the book trailer for Running Lean
Why do you write?
I remember as a child writing out narratives for playtime with my brothers and friends. I even had a stack of index cards with “what if” questions on them. In school, I got good grades on my writing projects as early as third grade, and I wrote my first full length novel at age 13. (It was horrible stuff!) So it seems apparent that this writing thing was in me from the beginning. I write because it’s part of who I am.
Why young adult fiction? What is most appealing about writing for this demographic?
As I said, I wrote my first novel at age 13. Of course, it was a story about being a kid and growing up, because that’s where my head was at that time. Since then I’ve tried writing other genres. I have several incomplete elf epics that will never see the light of day again. All of those books had youthful main characters. I suppose it’s still the fascination of the journey of not-knowing to knowing, of growing and becoming, that draws me to write for and about teens. Having a teenage daughter pulled my attention back into that world. I can remember those feelings! Coming back to contemporary young adult fiction feels like coming back to who I really am.
What are your writing rituals, if any?
Although I have a lovely office in our new country home, I often have to get away from the house in order to write. I need to be away from all the distractions of home life so I can focus my mind completely on the story. I’ll take my laptop to restaurants, libraries, and parks (LOVE sitting at a picnic bench with the breeze and the birds singing!) and work until my battery dies.
Favorite Book/Author? Why?
I don’t have one favorite, because my tastes have varied so much over the years. Jack London, J.R.R. Tolkien, Theodore Sturgeon, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Anne Rice were all influences at one time or another. The common thread between them is that the writing is deep and evocative. I love that, even if I’m not so keen on the genre anymore. In Christian fiction some of my favorites are Nancy Rue and Eva Marie Everson … not only because I love their writing, but because they’re both such sweet people.
The best thing about being a writer?
When I get it right. When the work resonates with someone. When a reader says they loved it, and more importantly, when the Lord uses what I’ve written to speak to someone. And that’s really the biggest difference between now and some years ago when I was writing those elf epics. I’m not writing for myself anymore. I’m writing because it has the potential to mean something for another person.
The worst thing about being a writer?
Marketing. (My agent is going to lecture me on this one!) I knew very little about marketing when Running Lean was published, and what I thought I knew ended up being ineffective. It meant I had to jump in and make a lot of frustrating mistakes. I hold a bachelor’s degree in art–an education that I highly value. Yet they didn’t teach us a lot about marketing our work. (Artists have to do this too!) In retrospect, I wish I’d learned more about the art of marketing, as well as public speaking. Both would have been very helpful now.
What tools do you/have you used to study the craft of writing?
There are so many great books out there focused on the craft of writing, and most any of them will help. What worked most for me, though, was to slog through several bad novels, inflicting my poor critique partners with writing that makes me cringe now, until I finally started to develop a voice and a more artistic understanding of how to craft the story. The “rules” are there to help writers get to a place of understanding, and from there learn how to manipulate them to create something beautiful. I believe a good critique group is indispensable. Yet all the books and critique groups won’t help without a teachable attitude and to view the writing process as a journey. I’ve got a whole bunch of novels that will never be published, because they were only part of my journey to finding my voice.
Do you write by the seat of your pants, plot first, or a little bit of both?
Both. I’ve used Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for starting a novel, and I’ve got an extensive list of questions for developing characters, but I can’t get too far with that before I’m itching to start the actual writing. Those tools help me organize my ideas before the first draft. I’ll also create a loose outline of where I want the story to go, and maybe a calendar showing events (since the school calendar impacts teens’ lives so much). But all my ideas and plans will change as I write and the story takes over. I’m much more structured with the rewrites and editing, though.
“Real life keeps me motivated. Working with teens at church, helping my daughter through life challenges, seeing events in the world that involve or impact teenagers. Loving these kids. I can’t be a mother to all of them. I can’t fix every wrong. But maybe I can write something that will help them understand, lay some seeds for faith and hope, or just give them something that will make them smile in the end.
Plus, let’s be honest, creating characters and writing their stories is just so much fun!”
~Diana Sharples, author of Running Lean
Can you share a little bit about your work in progress and/or newest release? Self-published or traditionally published? Which is better, in your opinion?
While I’m waiting to hear back from a publisher on a recently finished novel, I’m working on a short piece that I will probably self-publish as a promotional work. It’s about a loveable but lazy skateboarder who becomes a hero through a series of misunderstandings. Although I may self-publish this book, I’m really more interested in traditional publishing. Having my work edited and promoted by a publisher gives it more creditability. While the publishing environment is changing, with lots of authors self-publishing or going with independent small press publishers, I still feel that having my novel with a large publishing house gets my work into the hands of more readers.
A Bible verse that encourages you in your writing?
Philippians 1:6 — being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
What is your experience with writer’s conferences, if any? I’d love to know more about agent/ editor interviews if you have experience with these and would like to share. Also, any do’s and/or don’ts for new conference attendees would be great!
I love writers conferences. Just the atmosphere of being surrounded by so many people with whom I share something so important in my life is worth the investment and time. The classes are great and helpful, but I’ve found that networking with other writers is the most valuable thing. What I’ve learned over the years I’ve been attending conferences, though, is that being overly stressed out by that agent or editor interview is wasted emotion. Most of the professionals I’ve met have been quite friendly. I make sure to research the person and their company to make sure they’re looking for the kind of work I want to submit. I make sure my manuscript is polished and ready to submit before I pitch it. If I don’t have a novel ready to submit, I’ll schedule time with someone who can help me with marketing ideas or advice on a project. (That way the interview times with the agent or editor can go to someone who needs them more.). Although I always bring one-sheets and sample pages to conferences, I’ve rarely had to use them. It’s just good to be prepared.
Learn more about Diana Sharples by watching her video interview!
Connect with Diana Sharples…
Website | dianasharples.com
Facebook | Diana L Sharples.
Twitter | @DianaSharples
Diana has graciously offered to send a print copy of Running Lean to one of you, my readers! Thank you, Diana for your willingness to share your work and experiences with us today!
Enter via the Rafflecopter now through Friday, May 31st . One random winner will be chosen and announced in my June newsletter (so be sure to sign up in the sidebar widget if you haven’t already).
Don’t forget to leave a comment, question, or word of encouragement for Diana below. Until then, happy reading!
Yours in Messiah Yeshua,
#Win a copy of Running Lean by @DianaSharples! Enter through 4/31 @SaraEllaWrites #amreading @BlinkYABooks http://wp.me/p3arNU-L4
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