Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, Diane Moody writes both fiction and non-fiction. Her first non-fiction book, Confessions of a Prayer Slacker, released from Journey Press in August 2010. Don’t Ever Look Down: Surviving Cancer Together, co-authored with friends Dick & Debbie Church, releases in April 2011. Her first novel, The Runaway Pastor’s Wife, debuted earlier this year, and her second novel, Blue Christmas, releases this fall.
A graduate of Oklahoma State University and a former pastor’s wife, she and husband Ken now live in the rolling hills just outside of Nashville. They are the proud parents of two grown and extraordinary children, Hannah and Ben. When she’s not reading or writing, Diane enjoys an eclectic taste in music, movies, great coffee, the company of good friends, and the adoration of a peculiar little dog named Darby.
You can visit her website at www.dianemoody.net and catch up on her blog posts at www.dianemoody.blogspot.com/
Tell us a bit about your current project.
My first novel, The Runaway Pastor’s Wife, came out of a counseling experience during a difficult time in my life. I’d just been through a spiritual meltdown right on the heels of peri-menopause (ouch). I was a mess. My counselor suggested I pour some of my “angst” onto paper. I’d been a minister’s wife for almost fifteen years, so I knew immediately what my story would be about: a pastor’s wife who runs away from home! The twist? Her former college sweetheart shows up unannounced at the same cabin in Colorado, terrified and gravely wounded. Not exactly the best time for a blizzard, now is it? Therapeutic indeed!
What is the best writing (or life) advice you have ever heard or wished you had followed?
I have a plaque over my desk quoting Winston Churchill: “Never, never, never give up!” Hard to improve on the wisdom of ol’ Winston.
We are all about journeys...unique ones at that. How convoluted was your path to your first published book?
I was extremely shy as a kid. But I learned I could be bold and brave and anyone I wanted to be through my writing. Years later, my high school creative writing teacher often praised my work and encouraged me. Still, it took me another twenty-five years until I decided to get serious about my passion and another fifteen before I saw my first book in print. Along the way I had several near-misses. An agent who signed me then basically didn’t do anything; some other disappointments along the journey as well. But I have to say, when that first case of books arrived last year, all that was forgotten. Pure bliss!
What mistakes have you made while seeking publication? Or to narrow it down further what’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?
I wish I’d known that my personal success as a published author does not rest solely in the hands of overworked editors and agents. I learned the hard way that a bad agent is worse than no agent at all. I wasted precious weeks and months, even years, waiting to hear back from publishers who never responded, even after they’d asked for full manuscripts. It took more than a decade to land my first contract, then two more contracts quickly followed. But I’ve finally, finally learned I’m no longer bound to someone else’s “approval” before I get more books in print. E-publishing and self-pubbing has changed all that. It feels great to have a chance to sit in the driver’s seat for a change!
With the clarity of experience what advice would you offer up to the wet-behind-the-ears you if you were beginning this writing journey today?
I’d tell Drippy-Eared Di to first learn her craft. Surgeons don’t operate until they’ve perfected the necessary skills, so why do we as writers think we can just wing it? I’d tell her to devour every possible resource, in books and online. Go to writers’ conferences. Join a writers’ group online or in your town. Sign up for a critique group. But just as important, I’d advise her to develop a thick, thick skin. Rejections are inevitable. A while back, my writing buddy got her 100th rejection. I took her out to celebrate. She refused to give up and today she’s selling books like crazy. Love that!
Do you have a pet peeve having to do with this biz?
Not too thrilled about the marketing expectations that now fall primarily on the shoulders of the author or the necessity of a “platform” before you can get a foot in the door at some publishing houses. But it is what it is. (You can quote me on that.) I’d rather just write.
What gives you the greatest writer buzz, makes the trip worth the hassles (besides coffee or other substances, or course)?
To hear how my book has touched someone’s heart. I’ve been blown away by the response to Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. God has used that quirky little book to rekindle a passion for a daily, personal prayer time in so many lives. I’m very humbled by it all.
What is one of the more unique or strange life experiences that has really given you an extra oomph in your writing?
When my daughter Hannah was a teenager, she was completely obsessed by a certain boy band. For Christmas that year, I wrote her a short story about a slightly older character named Hannah who met and fell in love with the lead singer of that group. She shared the story with her friends and they begged for more. (Gotta love when that happens.) I wrote more, adding chapters in installments. Hannah posted it on the group’s “fan fiction” website and we started receiving hundreds of emails asking for more. At one point we logged in more than 65,000 readers, with over 1000 emails crowding my inbox. For the first time I realized I could actually write something others were thrilled to read. Since that time, I’ve fictionalized the group (no more boy band), and I plan to release Blue Christmas next fall. How fun is that?
What is the first thing you do when you begin a new book?
Cast my characters! I make photo-layout pages for each of my characters. I have a blast doing it, but it also helps me get into their heads better because I can see them.
Plot, seat of pants or combination?
Primarily SOP. Most of the time my characters want to write their stories themselves. But I’m trying to learn to be a plotter. Really I am. Really.
Parting words? Anything you wish we would’ve asked because you’ve got the perfect answer?
No, but I’d love to mention that my daughter Hannah has designed all my book covers. She’s a phenomenal graphic artist (brag alert) and I can’t imagine doing a book without her designs. Plus a huge thanks to the team at Novel Journey for allowing me to share my story here and for such a fascinating and informative blog. You all do a great job!