Welcome, Dina. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I think it’s hard not to include a little of yourself in your characters, especially your heroine. I imagine we all secretly dream of living a life as big as our heroines. On the other hand, I make a conscious effort to always give my characters a distinctive Meyers-Briggs personality type. So far in all of my novels, I’ve only written one character with my exact personality. Constance Cavendish in Love in Three-Quarter Time shares many of my interests, but she is much more extroverted than me, which makes a significant difference in her personality and choices.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Hmm…you’re talking to a fairly quirky person here. I love to act and dance, and while I can be shy, I’m not afraid to dress up in funny costumes and be silly in public. My friends know not to put anything past me. I regularly sing while shopping at the grocery store. It’s a form of self-preservation and makes people smile. Is that quirky enough?
You sound to me like a wonderful, fun person to be around. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’m not one of those people who always knew I would write. I enjoyed writing but had a broad variety of interests. Somewhere around late high school, I added writing a novel to my list of dreams. But it wasn’t until college that I discovered I had a real love and talent for writing. I then went on to study writing in grad school.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
My reading tastes are very eclectic. I’ve always read some romance for entertainment. But I also adore more literary and issue-driven novels that really make you think. Science fiction and fantasy are fun for switching things up. And while I don’t particularly like to mix my romance with my suspense, I can occasionally enjoy a good psychological thriller.
Many of my recent novels have a strong romantic thread but deal with very serious issues as well. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I mentioned in a round about way that I’m very introverted. I need a lot of quiet time alone. For that reason, I value my long walks, quiet days, and prayer times with God. To me, prayer is more about listening, meditation, and soaking in God’s presence than talking at him, and I need that time of refreshing. Getting outdoors and dancing are also huge sanity savers for me. The beach and the mountains are my happy places.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Usually I have an idea for the main characters name and then build the others around it. In this novel the main character’s name,
Constance, is meant to be somewhat ironic. Her nickname,
Gingersnap, is more true to her character. Much of the book is about her
struggle against her own nature, and what God reveals to her through that
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Being a published author certainly ranks way up there. But I think I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve raised three, wonderful, godly children. Although I don’t know if “proud” is the right word. Often I look at them and shake my head in wonder. I’m sure I couldn’t have done that on my own. They are the result of prayer, God’s grace, and many wonderful influences in their lives.
A large part of raising children is spending a lot of time in prayer. If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I would want to be some sort of bird so that I could fly and sing all day long.
What is your favorite food?
Just one food? To quote a sign I saw on facebook, “My life is a constant battle between my love for food and my desire to stay thin.” I probably most enjoy grilled tuna, sweet salads, and organic baked goods because those foods appease both sides of this battle.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning, voice, character, and description came easily to me, but my novels moved too slowly and weren’t very story oriented. I had to work harder on things like plot, conflict, and motivation. And I didn’t understand how to write strong scenes in the beginning. The two biggest helps to me were Angela Hunt’s plot skeleton and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas. Ron Benrey’s description of the fictional dream world really assisted me with writing strong scenes. Good (hand selected) critique partners were a blessing too.
Tell us about the featured book.
I call it my Scarlett O’Hara meets Jane Austen novel, but here’s the official description:
In the style of Deeanne Gist, Dina Sleiman explores the world of 1817
in her novel Love in Three-Quarter Time.
When the belle of the ball falls into genteel poverty, the fiery Constance
Cavendish must teach the dances she once loved in order to help her family
survive. The opportunity of a lifetime might await her in the frontier town of Virginia , but the
position will require her to instruct the sisters of the plantation owner who
jilted her when she needed him most. As Robert Montgomery and Constance make
discoveries about one another, will their renewed faith in God help them to
face their past and the guilt that threatens to destroy them in time to waltz
to a fresh start? Charlottesville
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Gingersnap” Cavendish waltzed her way through the scandalous steps, tilting her head back to giggle prettily as she’d practiced in the mirror. If all went according to plan, her copper curls would bounce and catch the firelight just right.
“It doesn’t look so scandalous to me.” Robert Montgomery—the man of her dreams—leaned against the rich mahogany bookshelves of Papa’s library as music drifted in from the enormous marble foyer beyond.
“That’s because you haven’t joined me yet.” Humming along to the tune, she continued to glide and twirl, brushing her stocking-clad feet against the plush carpet. She lifted the silken, rosy skirt of her high-waisted gown for him to better watch the pattern of her steps. “One, two, three. One, two, three. Down, up, up. Are you grasping it? I’ve never attempted the man’s part, but you are an expert dancer. I’m certain you’ll manage.”
“All right. I shall give it a try if you insist. We can’t hide here much longer. How did you persuade me of this?”
“Excellent!” She clapped her hands and rocked on her toes to set her curls bouncing once again. “Come close.” As if he needed such an instruction.
“Gladly, my princess.”
Pleasure bloomed warm in her chest. She loved it when he called her princess, as she certainly planned to reign over Robbie’s kingdom at the
Montgomery family plantation soon enough.
How can readers find you on the Internet?https://twitter.com/DinaSleiman1
Thank you, Dina, for spending this time with us today.
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Love in Three-Quarter Time
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