Thursday, February 13, 2014

Interview with Christian writer Diane Stortz

Diane, you've written numerous books for traditional Christian publishing companies, so I’m sure other Christian poets and writers will want to know, as I surely do, how you got started.

As I earned a BA in Journalism from Arizona State University, I realized I loved to write but lacked the confidence and sophistication needed to succeed as a newspaper reporter, which had been my goal. After graduation, God moved me (long story!) to Cincinnati, where Standard Publishing hired me to develop a new Sunday school curriculum for twos and threes. Eventually I led the book group at Standard as editorial director for ten years. In 2007 I left to pursue freelance editing and writing. Suddenly, I was on the other side of the table at trade shows and conferences, pitching my book proposals instead of listening to pitches.

Quite a change! In case our readers don't know what a book proposal includes, I'll insert a link to a post on that, but tell us what your workday is like now.

I wish I had one! Working from home has so many distractions, and I tend to be more go-with-the-flow than structured anyway. This year I’m working on being more organized, however!

What writing projects are you working on?

I just completed a bedtime Bible storybook that will be out next year, and I’m under contract for another book of Bible stories too. But before I begin that one, I’m focusing on improving my online presence and engagement.

Define your main focus.

I’ve used the tagline “Encouraging you to know, read, love, and live God’s Word, the Bible.” That’s still true. I changed the tagline recently to Psalm 78:4, “Tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonder,” because I’m focusing, for the time being at least, on writing for children.

Obviously, the Bible influences you greatly. How do you go about deciding on the next theme or topic?

I participate in a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year women’s group, and last year I tried to blog each week about something related to that week’s readings. I have an interest in Scripture memory too.

Publishers sometimes refer in house to their books as “product”—and it helps me as an author to think that way too. For book projects, I study what’s out there and what’s missing and try to develop proposals that fill in the gaps besides being a good fit for me. Some projects, like Parents of Missionaries and A Woman’s Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year filled gaps and also came from my personal life experiences.

Tell us about those experiences. I’m wonder, for instance, if anything ever discourages you from writing.

It’s never fun to have a book proposal go to a publisher’s acquisitions committee and be turned down. And comparing myself to other more prolific bloggers and authors can be a real downer. But I am learning, I hope, to value and enjoy the gifts and the path God has given me and not concern myself too much with what others are doing.

Has the Internet helped at all?

I sometimes hear from blog readers I don’t know personally who were encouraged by something I wrote. I’ve received e-mail and Facebook messages from parents of missionaries and from women reading through the Bible using my book as a guide. And the Internet certainly offers an abundance of ways to provide information about my books, whether through blogging, social media, online retailer sites, or book reviews. I pray my books do help cultivate the hearts of children to enable them to receive Christ.

Where can we find your work online?

I have a website, an Amazon author page, and am on social sites such as Facebook and Twitter. I’m on Google+ too but still trying to figure it out ...

Me too! Before we close, I want to ask what suggestions you have for Christian poets and writers who aim their writing toward uniting Christians or finding ways to help strengthen the church Body of Christ.

Realize that the size of your ministry is quite relative. What’s small in your eyes or in the marketplace or online might be big in God’s eyes. Be confident yet humble and teachable. Be diligent and then leave the results up to God. He’s the one who makes it all work together.

Amen! Thank you so much, Diane. I had the pleasure of reviewing The Sweetest Story Bible and look forward to seeing your new book. God bless your good work.

(c)2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer

A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year: A Life-Changing Journey Into the Heart of God, Paperback

A Woman's Guide to Reading the Bible in a Year: A Life-Changing Journey Into the Heart of God, Kindle Edition e-book

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