Dineen A. Miller is an artist at heart and loves everything creative. Her God-given creativity translated into art college where she hoped to break into the world of graphic design with a bang. God ultimately had other plans. She delights in penning words to share God’s great love and hope. Fiction and nonfiction alike are the staples of her passion for ministry to the spiritually mismatched. Her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. Married for more than twenty-three years, she shares her life with a great guy who adores disc golf, her two daughters who never stop surprising her with their own creativity.
You can always find her at Spiritually Unequal Marriage blog, the book's new website, on Facebook and Twitter under her name, Dineen Miller. Her first book, Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage, releases this week from Regal Books/Gospel Light.
I'm so excited to have you on Novel Journey, Dineen. We've waited a long time for this. Tell us about your new release:
Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage is the culmination of over 30 years of mismatchdom, fifteen of which are mine and 17 belong to my co-writer, Lynn Donovan. She and I made a lot of mistakes in our marriages, trying to convince our husbands they needed God. Well, that never really works out too well. Thank goodness God is so good at redeeming everything and our husbands are patient and committed men. LOL!
God took us both on an incredible journey that included some pretty tough learning curves. The result is we learned to trust God completely with the salvation of our husbands and just focused on loving our guys as Jesus calls us to love others—unconditionally. Amazing things happened. Our marriages morphed into wonderful and thriving places, a ministry was born and now a book.
What finally sparked the process on writing this book? Was it difficult to "bare your soul?"
It seemed to be the natural course and result of our ministry. There are less than a dozen books out there on this topic, and those that have been written are either out of print or nearing 10 to 20 years old. Not a lot out there to help. And churches are ill equipped to help the spiritually single because they’re geared more for families, and the spiritually mismatched tend to stay in the shadows.
The feedback we got on the blog (SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com) was amazing. Then our site started showing up on churches’ resources pages all over the country. God was definitely onto something here! We spent a week brainstorming the idea and again stood in awe of how easily it all fit together. Lynn had five key areas and I had five. Thus the ten keys were born! The rest we collaborated on.
When Lynn told her husband about our idea, he was all for it because he didn’t want to see other couples struggle like they had. My husband thought it was a great idea and was/is very supportive. He didn’t like the word “unequal” though. I’m glad Regal did such a great job titling and subtitling our book.
As for baring my soul, the only part I was concerned about was sharing the reality of this kind of marriage and still honor my husband. That was important to both of us (Lynn and I), because to do otherwise would completely negate our message. I could write a book about all that. Oh yeah, I did! ;-)
Did anything strange or funny happen while researching or writing your book?
Hmmm, lots of God putting things into place, I will say that. Including how Lynn and I wound up writing together. God had inspired us both with the idea of blogging about being unequally yoked at the same time. Lynn met Camy Tang at the Mount Hermon conference in 2006. A few weeks later, I had lunch with Camy and told her my dilemma—how did I blog about my mismatched marriage and still honor my husband? Camy wound up being the catalyst God used to connect us. The rest is amazingly and wonderfully covered with God’s fingerprints.
As far as researching, we had only our own lives and tons of experience (mostly gained the hard way) to draw upon. Seeing it all come together still blows me away. That’s what God does best—redeems everything, wastes nothing. Now we get to share all that with others struggling in their mismatched marriages. That alone leaves Lynn and I awestruck on a daily basis.
Every writer has a journey. I know your road to publication has been a long one. And now, suddenly, you have both a non-fiction and a fiction coming out. Tell us about it.
Oh man, do we have time for another book here? I’ve been seriously writing and pursuing publication since 2004. Lots of rejections, jumped too fast into an agent-author relationship early on that wasn’t the right fit, then wound up having to put my writing on hold for a year when my teenaged daughter was diagnosed with cancer.
I can look back and see how impatient I was to get published and see what a blessing it was that I didn’t until now. My daughter had to be a priority (and easy decision!) until she recovered. And I will confess right here on Novel Journey that I just about gave up last fall after a rejection that left me wondering if what I wrote would ever find a place in CBA.
My newly contracted fiction book, The Soul Saver, doesn’t categorize easily. This story has a heroine who translates into sculpture faces of people God gives her to help, her husband is an atheist, and her latest “mission” is a pastor who has a demon for a sidekick. I wrote this book to tell through story, the struggles and intense spiritual warfare that’s inherent in mismatched marriages. My own husband is an atheist so I had lost of experience to draw upon.
To see this book get a chance…well, what can I say except it’s a dream come true. All of it is. I’ve wanted to write books and get published since I was 18. God’s timing is always best. I can say that looking back, of course. ;-)
I am thrilled and so grateful to be a part of two amazing publishers, Regal and Barbour. My editors, Kim Bangs (Regal) and Rebecca German (Barbour) have opened the door and given me a chance to share a message I hope will inspire others.
Do you ever bang your head against the wall from writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t know if it’s writer’s block or fear or distraction. LOL! Writing is not easy for me. I don’t write fast and as I said in the question before, there are so many distractions and needs in my life other than writing. Plus I’m a freelance graphic designer, so most days I juggle three jobs, between writing for our SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com blog, marketing our book, helping the women we’re trying to reach and help, my design clients, writing fiction, and taking care of my family.
It’s a battle to say the least. I’m letting go of the design work, at least for a while so I can do the things (writing and ministry) that God’s put front and center—after my family of course. The creative process is such a dynamic animal. I’m fascinated watching it right now in my husband, who’s a software/app developer.
So far the best answer I have for that, for me, is to create a schedule and wrap my head around the idea that the next day, I have to write and reach a goal. I’d like to think my deadline-driven years in advertising will help.
Ask me that question again in a year. Maybe I’ll have a better answer.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what visuals do you use?
Visual in the sense that I try to write what I see in my head—my characters, settings, scenes playing out. It doesn’t come easy though. As far as what’s around me, I like a neat office. I’m a “neat-nick.” Always have been. Of course, a messy desk can be a great way to waste time and avoid writing. LOL! See, there’s that creative process again.
Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What's the most difficult part of writing for you?
Getting started. Writing consistently.
How do you overcome it?
Sometimes the reality of the situation can be so overwhelming at first. That’s when I have to take a step back, let it stew and pray a lot. Thank goodness for great critique partners too. I have walked this journey the entire way with my awesome crit buds and best friends, Heather Tipton, Ronie Kendig and Robin Miller (Caroll). I’d be lost without them.
I’ve learned to walk away at times. If I can’t find the answer there in front of me, I take a break. I learned to do this with my design work. Giving our subconscious time to work is a vital tool. I love it when I get a breakthrough, which seems to happen either in the shower or in the middle of the night.
And writing consistently. I’m still working on creating a schedule for myself. It’s definitely a time of transition at the moment.
Funny you should ask that. I used to write in the cave that was the corner of my bedroom. We have a small house and two daughters. My oldest recently moved into her own place, the youngest got the “prime” bedroom, and now I have a real, dedicated office. I love it! It’s bright (I need lots of windows and outside light), roomy and perfect for me. Plus my hubby surprised me and painted it while I was on a business trip. It’s perfect!
What does a typical day look like for you?
After I get my daughter to school, I start with a cup of coffee, my Bible, and a couple devotional booklets I love to read. Then depending on what day of the week it is, I take our pooch for a good walk (she actually walks me) and then hit the shower. In between all that, I’m checking email and assessing what needs to be done for the day.
Then I stay at my computer and knock out my to do list. Some days are all design work, some days are a mix of writing, designing, marketing, and paperwork. Like I said, I’m in a time of transition so my focus is shifting to writing being my dominant goal as apposed to my design business. I’m really looking forward to that!
Some authors report writing 5-10 thousand words a day. Do scenes flow freely from your veins or do you have to tweeze each word out?
Oh, I’m a tweezer. LOL! More like milking a rock. That’s part of what I’m really looking forward to, is seeing what I can produce with writing as my priority. A good writing day is producing an entire chapter so that’s around 2,500 to 3,000 words. I haven’t been able to do that everyday though. More like once a week, twice if I’m on a roll.
Thankfully, I have time to figure this out. The Soul Saver is already written, and my first official writing deadline that I have to meet is for a novella I have the privilege of writing with Ronie Kendig, MaryLu Tyndall and Kim Sawyer. God’s easing me in slowly (He’s so good to me!) while we get the word out about Winning Him.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?
Buy as much house as you can afford. Oh, wait, wrong topic. Ahem, take your time, learn the craft and don’t be in a hurry to get published. I just wish I’d done a better job at taking that advice. LOL!
Do you have any parting words of advice?
DON’T buy as much house as you can afford. Ooops, I did it again. Well, there’s a whole book right there and so many of them have been written. So I’ll say this:
Don’t compare what you do and HOW you do it to other authors and writers. Glean what you can from them for ideas, then do what WORKS for you. It’s not easy, but it’s a whole lot more peaceful.
Winning Him Without Words is for the many Christian wives who attend church week after week without their husbands by their sides. They are married to men who do not share their enthusiasm for God and the church. Their mismatched spirituality causes them to feel out of place, often causing them to pursue their faith less than wholeheartedly. Authors Donovan and Miller speak from experience and understanding, offering 10 keys to thrive by creating a loving home where God can work. Designed with group study in mind, the book includes discussion questions and a leader's guide.
Dineen can also be found on her website, and her personal blog, Kittens Come From Eggs.