Linda, it’s so kind of you to have me on your blog today. Thank you.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I’m a Florida gal turned Texan for the past thirty something years. I won my first writing contest when I was a teen. The article, entitled The Basis of a Great Nation is a Christian Home, and the paper still resides in my cedar chest. I cringe at the teenage grammar. I also paint and for most of my life painting took center stage. Moving to Texas stirred my interest in rodeo and the rest is history. I wrote articles and took photographs for the Youth Rodeo Association in East Texas, and rodeo is kinda like Florida sand—once the sights, sounds, and razzle-dazzle of the arena gets in your blood, well, you know—Roped was the result and I’m pleased to let you know Twisted is finished and will be with my editor at Prism Books by the second week in June.
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
I come from a long line of foodies. My mom and aunt were caterers and I love to create new recipes and tinker with Mama’s family favorites. Being raised in the deep south, fried chicken, grits, and greens were the staples tingling my early taste buds. However, you can’t be a Texan and not love spicy. When the frustrations of technology get the best of me, I head to the garden. I love, love, love flowers and photography, as my FaceBook page and blog illustrate.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
Definitely a SOP writer—Seat of the Pants—start to finish. Outlines are for sane, normal people. I’m sure if they tested me for ADD, I’d rank off-the-charts nutty artist. I’ve taken some personality tests that place me as a totally right-brained individual. Not one brain cell even leans left. Just ask my accountant husband, or my math teachers.
I generally begin with a situation or principle or character flaw and build my story from there. When writing Roped, my phenomenal edit group coined a phrase—that’s not a Crissy word. And bless their hearts, that phrase made Crissy’s character bud and bloom on the page. She’s Texan to the bone.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Terrell, Texas is the scene for the Roped series, that’s about twelve miles from our home in the small town of Crandall, Texas. But you will find a rodeo arena, horses and trucks and trailers, goats, and cattle, and, of course, barbeque, near any-town-Texas.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
Take a bath, a bubble-bath preferably. Don’t laugh, I’m in good company. Author DiAnn Mills shares my idiosyncrasy. Something about relaxing in the warm water sets my brain to problem solve. I just have to remember to keep a note pad on the sink so I can write the dialogue, plot twist, or whatever down before I forget. DiAnn’s dear husband installed a white-board for her creative flashes. The accountant personality in my husband said, “Really?”
What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?
I mentioned earlier I belong to a group of the greatest writers this side of heaven. We are seven in number. I’ve dubbed us The Magnificent Seven, but in fact we are called The Literati. And six of them are indeed magnificent! When we began I would create what I thought was wonderful. Arrive at our weekly meeting to find these six magnificent writers had torn my work apart. The drive home was usually tearful, with my husband asking, “Why do you go to these meetings?” “To learn to write,” I’d reply, sniff, and blow my nose. “Well, are you learning?” I’d change the subject and determine next week I’d show ’em.
By the time Roped reached my Prism editor, tears, rewrites, and revisions could have filled several moving boxes. Too bad I didn’t buy stock in Kleenex. I’ve learned the editing process is an awful lot like work, but they are also a writer’s best friend.
Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?
Oh yes, my blog is serious non-fiction, written mainly to the Church. I believe the Church is one of the largest mission fields in the world. Most church members don’t crack their Bible during the week. They come to church to have their weekly feeding of the Word, then starve ‘til the next Sunday. That’s why our children have very little interest in the things of God and have been transfixed by the world. Because you can’t teach your children what you don’t know. I also write about the grieving process on my blog.
My writing career seriously began with a four book family devotional series entitled The Master’s Plan, which I’ve written and illustrated. And it keeps company with another children’s book, Arnold the Ant Who Didn’t Want To Be…an ant. Again one I’ve written and illustrated. These five books are looking for a publishing home. Prism does not publish children’s books.
In what genre do you read?
If you had asked me three weeks ago,my resounding answer would have been, mystery/adventure. But two Prism authors have changed my mind by their new releases, Nancy Bolton with her historical fiction romance, Answering Sarah, and Julie Cosgrove, with her Navy Blues. My favorite author is Joel Rosenberg. His nail-biting, heart-stopping, fiction you’ll probably read as headlines in the newspaper in a month or two.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
No doubt whatsoever, the ability to see the issues my characters face and learn what to do and what not to do when facing those same life experiences. My stories are Christ based. Not hit you over the head with my Bible, but real life problems and what the Word has to say about our choices. In Crissy’s case, her Papa is the glue that holds the family together. A man who has walked with the Lord through the tragedies of life. The grandpa we’d all like to have claimed.
“Will Texas teen Crissy Crosby’s rivalry and temper throw her off her dream to win the rodeo buckle?
When life bucks hard and unfair, will she latch onto the faith she was raised to rely upon or grasp anger and pride as her rope on this ride?”
“Before Chun could sit down, Jodie Lea leaned over and deliberately jammed her elbow into his side, then scooted as close as she could against the side of the bus, just as Mrs. Moore shifted the bus into gear and stepped on the gas.
One of his books jarred lose and tumbled into her lap. In a rage she turned and took aim. “What a jerk.” And with both hands, shoved the poor kid backward. He fell, fanny first, to the floor. Books flew every which way.
She leaped out of her seat and gathered up the fabric of her skirt, holding it fan-style for everyone to see. “Watch what you’re doin’, moron.” She turned to the other kids, stuck her nose in the air, and the curtain went up on her one-act horror show.
“His dirty Chinese slime is all over my brand new skirt. It’s ruined.” She brushed at an imaginary spot. “Stupid nerd. Why don’t you go back to China?”
I gasped. That was evil. Even for Jodie Lea.
She slipped a smirk at her two dingy girl-shadows who were equally offended. Jodie Lea stretched herself to haughty, her arms folded, her lips pouty, and her eyes narrowed to slits.
The boy sat motionless on the floor, muttering, “Please excuse me. I did not mean to cause you harm.” He struggled to his feet and reached to brush the invisible smudge from Jodie Lea’s skirt.
She flattened herself against the window wall of the bus. “Don’t touch me.” Her shriek had the grinding pitch of a tornado siren.
“Hey kid.” Jimmy Henry grabbed Chun’s arm and shoved him back down on the floor. “Can’t ya hear? Are ya yellow?”
Another boy jammed his foot against the new kid’s chest and pinned him there.
Our bus driver, Mrs. Moore, shouted, “Knock off the noise and sit down, or you’ll all end up in the principal’s office.”
Chun mumbled something in his native language. Sure couldn’t understand what he said. Prob’ly a good thing. But the hair on the back of my neck bristled. Poor kid. If Mrs. Moore didn’t do something—
The kids snickered and picked up Jodie Lea’s taunts.
I sprang from the back seat. “That’s enough.” In two quick steps, I latched onto Jimmy’s arm and shoved him away. “Knock it off. Can’t you see he’s upset?” I kicked the other kid’s foot off the boy’s chest and reached down to give Chun a hand up. “It’s his first day. Give him a break.”
An arsenal of words somersaulted syllable over syllable out of my heart and leaped off my tongue. “Jodie Lea Fairgate. This was low—even for you. You’ve done some rotten things, but this one ranks with the worst-of-your-worst.”
My bad-self suggested I rub her nose into the floor. I had enough cause. But Mama’s voice echoed in my ear. Not a word, Crissy.
So with all the self-control I could scrape up. I shut up, glared at her, and returned to my seat.
A voice came from the back of the bus. “You takin’ up for the nerd, Crissy?”
I stopped and, with my hands on my hips and my best cowgirl swagger, scanned the crowd of faces. “Yep, you wanna make something of it?”
“Don’t you guys know? Nerds of a feather fly together.” Jodie Lea twisted her face into an evil-step-sister grin and her groupie friends, of course, did the same.
Yikes, a litter of Cheshire cats. Monster-show scary. Right.
On his feet by this time, Chun’s face blushed a vivid shade of crimson.
I crawled under the seat to rescue his books. “Don’t pay attention to that girl. She’s the jerk.” I took his arm and guided him back to my row, then sat and glared at Jodie Lea Fairgate and the others ‘til their laughter stopped. Talk about rotten—that girl’s heart must be tough as steel. And dark. Very, very dark.
The boy glanced at me, his mouth forming a wanna-be half-smile. “Thank you for helping me.” Then he sat and stared at the floor.
I gestured toward the other kids. “They’re just a bunch of wooly-buggers. They follow whatever that stupid girl does. She’s trouble with a capital “T.”
“I did not mean to harm her.” Chun’s eyes met mine long enough for me to see those deep chocolate circles fill up with sad. My heart hurt to see him upset because of Jodie Lea Fairgate.
“Just stay out of her way and ignore her. That’s what I do.”
A twinge of guilt tugged my conscience. Yeah, right. Sure you do.”
“A great read for teens and adults, Roped is a gallop-paced rodeo ride from the first to the last page. ” ~Lori
“Couldn’t put it down. Truly an AMAZING work of art.” ~Abigail
Texas writer, DiAne Gates, illustrates and writes fiction for children, YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the Church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order.
DiAne worked as a photographer and writer for the East Texas Rodeo Association, which gave birth to this western rodeo adventure series, ROPED. The second book in the series, entitled TWISTED is just completed and with Prism Books.
She leads an edit group for North Texas Christian Writers and is a GriefShare Facilitator. Wife, mother, and grandmother, whose passion is to share those life lessons God is teaching her. Lessons she hopes will leap from the page into your heart.
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