Tuesday, August 16, 2011

SOMETHING OLD - Dianne Christner - Free Book

Welcome, Dianne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I hope that the themes in my books reveal more of my soul than my individual characters. They do possess genuine traits and feelings of the Mennonite people. I was raised Mennonite, and that is one of my goals with this series, to give readers a glimpse of the Mennonite heart. But I work hard to keep my characters fictional. The way I do this is by indentifying a character’s personality and making a chart of what motivates their personality type and how they should react to situations and to each other. I believe the better I become at writing, the less my characters will resemble me. The personality charts I use are based on the Enneagram theory.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I just returned from a sister trip and asked them this question. They mentioned my perfectionist fixations…continually raking the footprints out of our desert landscape or offering not only birdseed, but oranges and hamburger to coax in the roadrunners and more unusual birds. I was rather shocked. I thought those things were normal. My husband claims it’s a little snort-sniffle thing I do during allergy season.

But I’d like to think it’s my creativity. When we built a new house, I came up with the idea to put my husband’s classic car inside the house. We used glass to make it visible from our office and entryway. We went antiquing for memorabilia to make the car room into something special. Everyone that entered our home was surprised to see the car in the middle of the house. (Something a Conservative Mennonite would never do—but we’ve been attending a nondenominational church for many years. At the time, we didn’t think we were prideful, but we probably did need an attitude adjustment. That came when the economy crashed.) We sold the house and the car. And with our recent move, I’ve been too busy to be quirky. Except for the snort-sniffle thing.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I always expressed myself through writing. As a child, I kept a diary. When dating, I kept a scrapbook of love poems.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love nonfiction and learning about many topics. I read a lot of inspirational nonfiction and use nonfiction for my research. In fiction, I enjoy romantic comedies and adventure books. I force myself to read some classics. The perfectionism thing?

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I meet with God first thing in the morning. It helps my perspective and attitude. At least for a few hours. As the day escalates, I grasp for the humorous or hopeful until I can snatch a moment alone to recharge.

I have a personal philosophy that keeps me afloat. Everything, except God, changes continually. Situations. Seasons. If things are good, enjoy to the fullest and embrace it as a wonderful gift. If things are bad, it will pass. Time will heal. I thank God for creating day and night and the blessing of new beginnings. When I miss the mark, the next day is an opportunity for a fresh start. 

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I use baby-naming books. Choosing names and titles is hard for me.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Definitely my books. Sometimes a writer can feel so alone in the journey. Thank God for agents and editors, writing groups, the internet and personal support, but there are still many long lonely hours at the computer, staring at blank pages. When the book is done, I feel a great deal of personal accomplishment.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A bird. I’d like to fly and soar and sing. Maybe a parrot—they live long. Or a wise owl. Or a bright red cardinal.

What is your favorite food?
Pizza and Italian subs. Creamy desserts. But my husband and I started a heart healthy diet six months ago. We allow ourselves to splurge on special occasions and at favorite restaurants. This helps us keep on track.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Facing rejection and self doubt. Attending writer workshops provided inspiration and encouragement. I clung to the knowledge that all writers experience rejections, and I made relationships with other writers. My biggest breakthrough was finding an agent who believed in my writing. When I saw that he wasn’t giving up on me, I determined not to give up on myself. Since I like to learn, I kept reading about writing technique and practicing. One editor urged me to write daily, and that has improved my skills and confidence.

Tell us about the featured book.
The Plain City Bridesmaids series takes place in the close-knit Ohio community where my husband grew up—where we met. It is about three little Mennonite girls who make a pact to room together and become each other’s bridesmaids. Katy strictly follows the rules, Lil bends all the rules, and Megan is their peacemaker. In Something Old, the three girls renovate an Amish doddy house and move in together. Lil tries to match make, hiring her cousin to do the renovations. Jake is Katy’s old flame, who broke her heart by leaving the church to sow his wild oats. At the same time, when Katy’s dad finds out that Jake is back, he makes a stipulation. Before he gives her his blessing to leave home and move into the doddy house, Katy must promise to give David Miller a try. Katy finds herself fending off two pursuers as well as the unwelcome desires of her traitorous heart.

Personalities clash when Katy and Lil move into the doddy house without their peacemaker, Megan, who first needs to finish Bible College. Besides that, Katy feels like a fish out of water when she takes a temporary nanny job for a manipulative outsider. Always the black and white thinker, Katy’s job forces her to make gray area decisions. Should she take her little charge to dance lessons when Katy doesn’t believe in dancing? Can she really help with a homework assignment that involves television? And if the church doesn’t allow television, why is the congregation voting on the prayer covering issue—an old tradition that Katy holds dear to heart? And the biggest question, will Lil and Megan ever get the chance to become Katy’s bridesmaids? Something Old is Katy’s unique journey to love and faith.

Please give us the first page of the book.

Katy Yoder skimmed a white-gloved finger across the edge of the fireplace mantel. The holiday decorations, such extravagance forbidden at her own home, slowed her task. It wasn’t just the matter of working around them, it was the assessing of them. Feeling a bit like Cinderella at the ball, she swiped her feather duster, easing it around the angel figurines and Christmas garland. A red plastic berry bounced to the floor and she stooped to retrieve it, poking it back into place with care.

Her mother, like most members of her Mennonite congregation, shunned such frivolity. Gabriel of the Bible, the angel who visited the Virgin Mary, probably looked nothing like these gilded collectibles.  Nevertheless, the manger scene caused warm puddles to pool deep inside her heart, a secret place of confusing desires, which she kept properly disguised, covered with her crisp white blouse and ever busy hands.

The pine-scented tree occupying the corner of the room moved her with wonder. Not the ornaments, but the twinkling white lights, little dots of hope. The cheery music jingling in the background was not forbidden. She mouthed the words to Silent Night. They often sang the hymn at her meetinghouse in December. But her singing was interrupted mid-stanza, as her employer’s gravelly voice brought her out of her reverie.  Instinctively, she lowered her arm and whirled.

Mr. Beverly’s lips thinned and his white mustache twitched. “Katy. We need to talk.” Bands of deep wrinkles creased his forehead. “I have bad news,” he said. His petite wife stood at his side, twisting her diamond ring.

Apprehension marched up Katy’s neck. Could it be a terminal illness?  The couple in their late sixties, kept active for their age, always off on golfing vacations. Katy had grown fond of them. Smiles softened their conversation, and their hands were quick to hand her trusted keys and gifts. They even bought her a sweater for her birthday, made from some heavenly soft fabric. Katy gripped the duster’s handle with both hands. “Oh?”

“We’re going to have to let you go.”

Her jaw gaped. Never had she expected such news. “But . . . but I thought you were pleased”—her mind scrambled for some slip up, some blunder.

Mrs. Beverly rushed forward and touched Katy’s white sleeve. “No. No. It’s nothing like that. Our son wants us to move to Florida.” She glanced at her husband. “At our age, it’s overdue.”

Katy propped the duster against an arm chair and smoothed the apron that covered her dark, A-line skirt. “But is this what you want? Is there a problem with your health?”

Mrs. Beverly glanced at the beige shag carpet and back to Katy’s face. “Just the usual, but we’re not getting any younger.” Mr. Beverly squeezed his wife’s shoulder. “We’ll give you a good reference.”

Katy didn’t need a reference. She needed a job. This particular job. Her best paying, two-day-a-week job. To Katy, the tidy, easy to clean house classified as a dream job. Fast becoming a nightmare, losing it just when the doddy house came up for rent. Forcing a smile, Katy nodded. “I appreciate that. When will you leave?”

“Right away. We’re turning the house over to a realtor. Our son is coming to help us sell some things. There’s really no need for you to come again. I’m sorry we couldn’t give you more notice. But we are giving you a Christmas bonus.”

Katy patted Mrs. Beverly’s manicured hand. “Thank you. You have enough to worry about, don’t concern yourself with me.” She bit her lip, thinking, I do that well enough for the both of us.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
http://www.diannechristner.net  I have a blog on my website where readers can connect with me.

Thank you, Dianne, for sharing some of your life with us.

Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Anonymous said...

Mrs. Christner, this sounds like such a lovely book. I would love to win and to read it! I LOVE your personal philosophy! I'm so thankful for all of the "fresh starts" God gives me!

Kelly Y. in Virginia

Coolestmommy said...

Sounds like a great book. I'm interested to read how Katy handles all the grey area decisions she has to make.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dto com

Patsy said...

Oh, I know I would love this book! It sounds so good.


Unknown said...

Dianne - would love to learn about the mennonites you are writing about. i am of the Holdeman mennonites, not quite as conservative as some, not as liberal as others. Thanks Lena for the interview, and Ladies, thanks for the giveaway. mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com from Peace River Country, Alberta

Tammi said...

I first read about Something Old by Dianne Christner in a recent CBD catalog, and marked it as one of the books I was interested in. After reading the author interview I am even more interested.

Please enter my name into the drawing.

~Tammi in Maine
dandtdearing [at] earthlink [dot] net

Lorna Faith said...

Dianne...I love the summary of your book...sounds very interesting! It brings back memories of growing up as my mom was raised old colony mennonite and when we would visit I noticed that they lived a simple life...more so than we did. I love going back in time:)
Please enter my name for a chance to win!

Lorna from Alberta
lornafaith at gmail dot com

Jo said...

This book really sounds so interesting and one that I have added to my wishlist. I would love to win a copy of this book.

Jo from Southern Arizona

Unknown said...

Your story seems quite believable in this day and age with all the obstacles the young person must face and make choices. It seems even more complicated than ever. When a person realizes that God is still in control, that is a major happening; and I pray it happens more than not. Thanks for this giveaway and the chance to win it.

Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com

Dianne Christner said...

Lena has a wonderful blog bringing readers and writers together. Thanks for allowing me to share. I appreciate your enthusiasm and wish you could all win a copy of my book. For those interested, I blog about my writing and also about the Mennonite lifestyle. And yes, there are many varieties of Mennonites. It's fun to learn about each one.

Beth Reinke said...

I'd love to read Katy's story. The first page was terrific! And I'm so thankful for day and night, too, so we get to rest and recharge. :o)

Beth from PA

Judy said...

Something Old sounds like a great read. I'd love to win a copy.

I enjoyed the interview with Dianne. A car inside your house!! Wow..what a conversation piece! :-)

Dianne is a new author to me and she is on my list of authors to read!

God Bless,
Judy B from Indiana

Linda Kish said...

I would love to win a copy of this book.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Patty said...

Another new author to me. I would love to win a copy!

South Carolina

Dianne Christner said...

Thanks everyone for your interest. What a blessing you have been to me today.

Hutt-Write Voice said...

This looks like a very interesting book! Sign me up, please!
Thank you!
Linda in Manitoba, Canada

Rebecca said...

Thank you so much for the chance to win this. This looks like an amazing book. I would love to win this. Thanks again.

I am from Oklahoma.


Diana Flowers said...

Please enter me...I would love to win this! Thanks for the opportunity!

South Carolina


Jane said...

Well, that first page just left me wanting to know more....please enter me to win your book!! And thank you ever so much for sharing:)

CarlybirdK said...

This book sounds so good and I have enjoyed getting to know Dianne. Thank you!
Carly in NC

Sharon Richmond said...

Sounds very interesting. please enter me in the drawing.
Sharon Richmond.
Blanch, NC.

Miss Mona :) said...

I difinitely want to win this book, it sound excellent....and Dianne, do you have a picture of the house you had the car in and if so could you post it or send it to me? I would love to see it and I think that was an excellent idea.....do you still have the car ? :) This has been so interesting.....Ms. Mona/Oh

Dianne Christner said...

Miss Mona,
It was a 66 red nova and my hubby sometimes had a 67 aqua nova inside too. We had those old diner tables and old gas pumps. Very fun. Since the move, most of the collectibles are in boxes, and the cars have been sold. If you join my readers group, I'll get it touch with you there and post it on my website. http://www.diannechristner.net

Abigail Mitchell said...

Sounds interesting, Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks!
Abigail Richmond
Blanch, N.C.

Anonymous said...

I am a subscriber by email and I follow via gfc. I posted this to my blog: http://dancealertreads.blogspot.com/2011/08/httplenanelsondooleyblogspotcom201108so.html

Brenda from Michigan

dancealert at aol dot com

Sarah said...

Would love to win!

Sarah H

Mama Cat said...

I would love to read this book! since I have read Amish fiction and loved it, I would like to learn more about the Mennonite faith. Thank you for sharing on this blog, and telling us more about yourself and your faith in our Lord. Christian fiction is simply that - seeing how to live as a Christian in an interesting world. Blessings to you! Mama Cat (Jeanie) from Phoenix

Michelle said...

I'd love to win! Thanks for the giveaway! books(at)bookwormfamily(dot)com

Kristi said...

This book sounds really cute - Would love to win.

Kristi in Illinois

Patricia said...

"Something Old" sounds like a book to read, enjoy. and learn from.

I live in Burlington, Ontario Canada.

Please enter my name into this great Giveaway. My email is:

madley (AT) cogeco (DOT) ca

Thank you!!


apple blossom said...

please enter me thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Kristie said...

The books sounds great. An interesting and realistic trio of friends. I'm from Ohio. kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you.

sarahw said...

love you car in the house idea and would love to win a copy of this book. thanks,

Roanna said...

Sometimes I not very interested in reading Amish/Mennonite fiction... Perhaps it is because I have Amish friends and know that they are just people like you and me. Also, my church denomination has some of the same modesty standards as them. So while we don't dress like them (plain and identical), we do wear dresses and skirts all the time, have long hair, and maybe a few other things.

BUT, I must say, that this book sounds VERY interesting.

I would love to be entered.

Thank you,
Roanna from Ohio