Cindy: Hi, Diana, and welcome to my website. I’m so glad to have you here.
Diana: Hi Cindy, it’s my sincere pleasure to be here. Thank you for having me.
Cindy: Diana, you are one of the most tireless and positive authors I’ve met, always working to achieve your next goal—and succeeding quite nicely at them, I might add. How do you maintain a positive outlook? Do you have tips for other writers about staying positive and focusing on the good stuff?
Diana: How I maintain a positive outlook is to focus on the positives, how each day I am blessed to do what I love. Throughout my life I’ve been humbled by all of the people who have taken time out of their crazy lives to make a positive difference in mine. My goal is to encourage people to believe in themselves and go after their dreams. My advice to others: life is too short to focus on the negative. Define your dream. Everything we need to succeed is out there if only you look. Educate yourself in the direction of your dreams, prepare yourself for when opportunities arise so that you are ready to step forward, and always, always believe in yourself!
Cindy: Excellent stuff! Believing in yourself is so important and often difficult to maintain in the face of the constant rejection most writers experience, especially before the first sale. So, tell me, Diana, how does a Navy Chief Meteorologist and Oceanographer decide to become a romance writer?
Diana: Since my youth, I’ve been a huge reader. I’ve always wanted to write, but as I struggled in English during my youth, I held doubts of my ability to write. While stationed in Hawaii, I took a creative writing class, which turned out to be disastrous. Frustrated, I took a step back from my dreams, and once I retired from the Navy, I decided to give writing another shot. And . . . I loved it. Determined to become published, I joined professional writing groups, networked, and educated myself in both the industry of writing along with the craft. At 100 rejections to agents and editors, I stopped counting. I obviously could achieve a rejection. :) Then, after 9 ½ years, Sulay Hernandez, Assistant Editor, and Kate Duffy, Editor, Kensington Publishing Corp. called and offered on my first two books, HIS CAPTIVE and HIS WOMAN, in the now best-selling MacGruder Brother series.
Cindy: I love that story! Talk about tenacity. To go a bit deeper, how did your former job influence your outlook on life and lead you to pursue a creative career?
Diana: A career in the Navy taught me focus, determination, and when faced with a challenge to weigh my options and move forward. As a retired Navy Chief, “NO” isn’t an option.
Cindy: Remind me not to hang around you when I don't want to share my chocolate chip cookies, then. I'd have to say yes, and that would be a shame. Diana, what about your childhood? Who were your influences? People? Books?
Diana: One of my biggest influences in my life is my grandmother. I used to stay with her a few weeks every year up in the mountains of Vermont, and I loved it. She was an amazing woman whose determination, huge heart, and amazing kindness truly touched my life. As well, I’m greatly influenced by my father’s big-picture thinking in that everything is possible, and my mother’s belief that hard work is what is needed each day to achieve your goals. My favorite book when I was a kid was, “The Black Stallion,” by Walter Farley. I checked that out of the library at least ten times.
Cindy: So you're a dedicated reader as well as a determined writer. Speaking of that determination, the fourth book in your MacGruder Brothers medieval historical romance series, HIS DESTINY, released from Kensington Publishing in 2011. Please tell us about this book.
Diana: HIS DESTINY is a story of redemption, of a man who in a wrong decision brought shame upon himself. With his family believing him dead and unsure how to regain a family lost, he lives beneath a false name and dedicates his life to regaining Scotland’s freedom. Until one day he saves a woman who forces him to face his past and challenges everything he believes, including if he’ll ever find love.
Cindy: Sounds great! Now, did you always intend HIS CAPTIVE to be the first of a series? How did the series grow and how many books in total do you envision for the MacGruder clan?
Diana: As I was sitting on the lawn with my neighbor, “Hi Debbie! :),” I remember saying, wouldn’t it be neat if the halved stone of each knight is in some fashion taken by the respective heroine?" I saw stories for each brother from that thought. Now, it’s a thrill to include stories for both Griffin (Wulfe)—HIS SEDUCTION, and the grandmother—HIS ENCHANTMENT in this best-selling series!
Cindy: So, at least five books have now grown from one original idea, one original story. That's incredible. Diana, we all love first sale stories. What’s yours? I know HIS CAPTIVE was your first sale, but how did it come about?
Diana: After 9 ½ years of writing, and numerous rejections = well over 100, I submitted a requested partial for both HIS CAPTIVE and HIS WOMAN. My husband at the time was stationed in Iraq, and I was at home with my three kids being a soccer mom and writing while they were at school. Out of the blue, I received a phone call from both Sulay Hernandez, Assistant Editor, and Kate Duffy, Editor, from Kensington Publishing Corp., saying they’d like to buy the first two MacGruder Brothers books. I was so stunned, humbled and overwhelmed that I cried. I sincerely thank both Sulay and Kate for believing in me. *Hugs* After I e’d him the news, my husband at the time called me from Baghdad, and when my kids came home, we all celebrated. A very special and humbling memory.
Cindy: That is a special memory, especially when we take into consideration that you were submitting before the rise of independent authors via Kindle and other self-publishing venues. Before this rapid change in the publishing industry, 9-10 years was not out of the realm of believability before an author made her first sale. Some of the most talented writers I've met gave up in the face of such rejection, so I love to hear these stories of perseverance.
Do you write full-time, Diana?
Diana: I’m a full time writer, and I work on some aspect of writing or promotion seven days a week. Normally, my weekday mornings are focused on my promotion, and once done, I turn to writing. When I’m writing new pages, I write a minimum of five pages per day.
Cindy: Writers never sleep! In your bio, you state that you donate a percentage of your sales to charity. What inspired you to do this and what charities have you donated to thus far? How do you choose a charity? Is Chocolate Bars For Cindy a charity to which you’d consider donating? (Okay, I’ll admit, it’s a tad self-serving).
Diana: *G* Chocolate Bars For Cindy noted! Yes, I donate 10% of my royalties to a charity of my choice. Each day I feel so blessed to do what I love and by the people who have taken the time out of their busy lives to make a positive difference in mine, that if I can inspire others, it’s truly humbling. I volunteer and donate to charities who touch my heart. The major charities I’m involved in on some level are:
The National Trust for Scotland, which acts as a guardian of Scotland’s magnificent heritage of architectural, scenic and historic treasures.
Habitat For Humanity, which gives a deserving family more than a home, but a foundation upon which to build their dreams.
Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to help with immediate financial support for injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.
Homes For Our Troops assists severely injured Servicemen and Servicewomen and their immediate families through various venues to aid them in building a home that allows them live a more independent life.
The Navy SEAL Foundation, provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and their families.
Cindy: Somehow Chocolate Bars for Cindy doesn't seem on the same level, more's the pity! Diana, you are very patriotic as well as seeming tireless and extremely driven. You’re a promotional whirlwind, popping up all over the web and in magazine articles. What has been a stand-out experience for you in your promotional efforts?
Diana: I’m humbled to share that to date major events I’ve been involved in are:
-Woman’s Day, both paper and on-line. *This day was amazing. For the magazine article, the photographer and make-up artist, both wonderful, arrived at my home in Texas. After make-up and an enjoyable talk, we spent the next couple of hours taking various photographs to be considered for this article. Truly an amazing day.
-USA Today’s Romance Blog, “Happily Ever After.”
-MSN.COM Life Lessons from Romance Novels.
-Texoma Living Magazine, on the cover with a feature article inside.
-Habitat For Humanity: On several occasions, I organized a group of romance writers to work on a Habitat For Humanity home. Always a BLAST! Best, each nail driven, piece of dry wall hung, is a step toward giving a deserving family a home. *In 2011 I was honored to give the dedication speech at a new Habitat For Humanity home.
Cindy: My head is spinning! Do you ever take a holiday? Wait, don't answer that. I think I know the answer! For now, let's turn to Your first novella, Highland Vampire, which appears in the BORN TO BITE anthology (Sept. 2012). What were some of the challenges of writing a novella after writing so many full-length novels set in the same series?
Diana: My biggest challenge was to fit so much story into so little space and keep it fast paced and riveting. I loved writing Highland Vampire, and I sincerely hope my readers will enjoy my foray into the vampire realm.
Cindy: I'm sure they will. Before you sold your first book, Diana, you wrote contemporary romantic suspense as well as medieval historical romance. Do you have any plans to publish your contemporaries? (I won’t ask how you’d find the energy, because I know you have a surplus.)
Diana: Before I sold, I’d written a Viking trilogy, another Scottish/English series, the first book in a contemporary suspense series, and was 3/4th way through an inspirational novel when I received the call. I love these stories and once I’ve revised them, I hope in the future that they will see the light of day.
Cindy: What was the best advice you received as an unpublished writer?
Diana: Two bits actually. From a talk by Nora Roberts, “I can’t edit a blank page, but I can edit crap.” Second, from a friend, “Plant your butt in a chair and write.”
Cindy: Solid advice! What advice would you offer to unpublished writers in today’s marketplace and/or within the rapidly changing industry that now includes indie publishing?
Diana: Continually educate yourself, believe in yourself and persevere. And, write the best story possible.
Cindy: What’s coming up next for you, then? Books in the pipeline and/or your current work-in-progress?
Diana: I’m excited to share that I’m working on two more stories in the MacGruder Brothers series, “HIS SEDUCTION – Griffin (Wulfe’s) story, and, “HIS ENCHANTMENT,” the grandmother’s story.
Cindy: I can't wait to see how the grandmother's story plays out!
Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Diana: I have several things I’d love to mention, thank you:
-The 3rd Annual International Food Bank Food Drive on 1 November, 2012, will kickoff at USA Today’s Romance Blog, “Happily Ever After!”
-On December 5th, 2012, I’ll be speaking at the Library of Congress, "What If... Science Fiction & Fantasy Forum!" Details: http://www.dianacosby.com/authorevents.html
-For the 3rd year, I’ll be presenting the Diana Cosby Writing Scholarship at a local high school to a deserving senior.
Cindy: Thanks for the run-down on what you're up to for the duration of 2012, Diana. It's been a pleasure.
Diana's Cyber World:
© Cindy Procter-King, May 2012
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