DebHaggertyphoto
Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Happy New Year from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest CAN members, Deb Haggerty. I met Deb recently at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, where she was representing the publishing house she owns, Elk Lake Publishing. Since I know many of her authors—and quite a few are CAN members!—I was delighted to meet her in person. And now I’m delighted to interview her.

Welcome to CAN, Deb! Please tell us about your book, These Are the Days of My Life.

Deb Haggerty

Deb Haggerty

Days is a series of articles I wrote about various aspects of my life. I never wanted to write a book, but I enjoyed writing vignettes for other people’s books. Our CAN president, Angie Breidenbach, suggested I make my own compilation. I exclaimed to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!” Read More →

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Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Happy Friday CAN Members!

Catherine Finger here with the great privilege of interviewing CAN Member Donn Taylor. Donn is a prayer warrior and serves our CAN members through his tireless prayers and encouragement. His faithful organization of the weekly online CAN prayer group blesses us all. When he’s not praying, Donn can be found inspiring others in person and via his daily Facebook posts. His wisdom, warmth and good humor is revealed in a new way today.

Thank you for joining us today, Donn! And thank you for your tireless service of prayer over the members of CAN and encouragement. We are looking forward to learning a little more about you. Let’s start with what drives you, Donn. What are your personal passions?

Donn Taylor

Donn Taylor

Donn: First is a vision of Western Civilization as one aspect of God’s calling his people out of the popular culture of their day. (That process began as far back as Abraham, but let’s begin with the early Christian church.) The world of Christ’s time was incredibly cruel, even savage. Through Christianity, the West (primarily Europe) gradually emerged from that savagery into what we now think of as civilization, though the process is far from complete. But as of today, only Christendom has that quality, while the rest of the world remains as savage and cruel as it was in the time of Christ. Only Christendom has the answer. The great exceptions within Christendom were Communism and National Socialism, both of which were specifically anti-Christian. In short, Christianity is the civilizing force that has made this progress possible.

Second is a vision that one becomes an educated person by asking three questions. The seeker’s first question is, “Who am I?” The obvious answer is that he is a member of mankind, and that leads to the psalmist’s question, “What is man?” Seeking an answer leads us to considering “the best that has been thought or said” in all ages. (Matthew Arnold’s words.) The third question is, “What kind of world do we live in?” That is where the sciences come in. Today there is an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). My point is that STEM cannot address the first two questions, and the answers to those questions define what STEM is about.

These thematic elements keep showing up one way or another in my novels and poetry.

Thanks, Donn. Talk about deep calling unto deep! You’re reminding me of C.S. Lewis, or Watchman Nee. Outside of your daily prayer and reflection, how do you spend your time? What activities do you engage in giving you a more rounded life?

At age 89 I’m not as “rounded” as I was in past years. Today I’m just doing church and what I can do electronically. I got on Facebook to sell my books, but I’ve ended up doing more counseling and praying than anything else. In past years I served as deacon in several churches, mentored students at the colleges where I taught and a few writers since then, coached a basketball team of 12-year-olds. I participated in church-league basketball and in 10K runs until at age 64 the wheels came off. I still maintain membership in the National Association of Scholars and the Military Officers’ Association of America.

Bless you for that, Brother! I appreciate your passion for prayer, coaching, and service to others. How do you use this experience in your writing?

Tennyson’s Ulysses said, “I am a part of all that I have met,” but in my case it’s more like all I have met is a part of me. And there’s no telling which part will show up at any particular time. My first career was Army, the second as professor at two liberal arts colleges, and only after those did I take up creative writing professionally. My suspense novels reflected my Army experience, my mysteries set on college campuses reflect my teaching days, and my and Mildred’s lives as Christians governed my historical novel. The two passions mentioned above keep appearing in different parts of these and in my poetry.

I’d love to hear about a time when things didn’t turn out as you’d planned. Got a story for us?

Things often don’t turn out the way I planned. I began with two dead-serious intentions:  To write suspense fiction reflecting real-world problems as I knew them and to write poetry I wouldn’t be ashamed to see in a collection of American poetry. I think I achieved a little bit of both, but the unexpected happened. Some of my better poetry is comic, and comic passages kept popping up in my serious fiction. People like to laugh, so in my recent work I’ve emphasized the comic elements while maintaining the serious subjects in the background. (My Professor Preston Barclay can’t resist making a pun or smart remark even if it costs him his job.)

I look forward to reading your work. I love a little humor thrown in at every opportunity. Speaking of humor, do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event you’d like to share with us?

In my first year to teach poetry writing at the Blue Ridge Conference I wanted to prove that serious poetry could be successfully presented to a general audience. So I volunteered to read a poem on the faculty talent show. But the fellow before me on the program had the audience in stitches with comedy of the absurd. So how was I going to get the audience from that to a serious poem? On the spur of the moment I began telling jokes about my age. (“There is no truth to the rumor that I was a critique partner for Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address . . . It was actually the Declaration of Independence.”) That let me step things down to reading a serious poem. But it also branded me, and I’ve had to keep doing it ever since.

Ha! I’d love to hear about your source materials for those must-have humorous openers someday! What’s one of your fascinating facts that cropped up while doing research for a book?

For the drug-smuggling flights in “The Lazarus File,” I needed to learn all I could about the Douglas DC-3 aircraft. (I had never flown one.) I remembered that James Stewart flew one in a movie and looked out of the pilot’s window to be sure the landing gear was down. When I located an actual DC-3 and sat in the plot’s seat, I found that the pilot could not see the landing gear. Moral: Never base your research on anything you see in a movie.

Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world, Donn! And thank you for your commitment to praying for and serving others.

Donn Taylor led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. Afterward, he earned a PhD in Renaissance literature and taught literature at two liberal arts colleges. His publications include several suspense and mystery novels, one historical novel, and one book of poetry. Two of his novels have been finalists in the Selah Awards. He lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Two of Donn’s books were finalists for the Selah Awards and you can enjoy his daily Facebook interactions here: www.facebook.com/donntaylor His marriage to Mildred lasted 61 years, seven months, and four days until the Lord promoted her. For a great holiday romance, check out their love story on line at https://tinyurl.com/te4k8kn 

 

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Catherine Finger
Marti Pieper

Marti Pieper

Greetings from Marti Pieper in beautiful (and much colder than Florida) Seneca, South Carolina! After a recent move, we’re unpacking and getting ready for Christmas all at once. But we have all sorts of interesting tidbits from author Catherine Finger, so let’s get started with her interview right away!

Welcome, Catherine! Please tell us about your book, Capsized by Death.

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

Police Chief Jo Oliver is finally about to begin a new life with her daughter and fiancé, but before they can celebrate their dream wedding in Maui, a serial killer with ties to one of Jo’s old cases unleashes a terror on the island. Can Jo and her team keep a ghost from her past from derailing her plans for the future? Read More →

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Happy Friday CAN Members!

Catherine Finger

Catherine Finger

This is Catherine Finger bringing you an interview with today’s featured author: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio.  In addition to to being an award-winning author, speaker, leader, coach, and beloved family matriarch, MaryAnn finds time to graciously leads our CAN reviewers—a great service to our authors. Thank you for joining us today, MaryAnn!

Catherine: What are your passions?

MaryAnn: Worshipping God, loving my family, sharing the Gospel, writing fiction. painting—especially in oils.

Catherine: Where do you volunteer your spare time giving you a more rounded life?

MaryAnn: I spend my spare time discipling women and ministering to my six adopted grandchildren.

Catherine: How do you use this experience in your writing?
MaryAnn: Ministering to women has made me more aware of the many challenges women face in an increasingly stressful world. I draw on these challenges as I create the heroines of my stories.

Catherine: What humorous thing would your readers want to know about you or your writing life?
MaryAnn: The first sale I made was to The Saturday Evening Post for a humorous poem about an argument between my then small children. This sale was humorous in that I am not a funny person by nature, and I had no clue what I was doing when I submitted to this major magazine. I was like the bumblebee who does not know that, aerodynamically, it cannot fly but flies anyway. The Lord used this sale to confirm His call on my life to write for Him.

Catherine: Do you have a funny story relating to your writing or an event?
MaryAnn: Yes. My husband and I met through a newspaper article I’d submitted (at my mother’s request) to my local paper about my earning my Master’s degree. My husband will tell you that my article was really a want-ad for a husband. We just celebrated our 50thwedding anniversary.

Catherine: Did you find a fascinating fact/story while doing research for your book?
MaryAnn: Yes. While researching my latest novel, In Black and White, I was quite surprised and chagrined to discover that the seven suburban communities named “Levittown” and built during the late 1940s and 1950s were racially segregated communities, as stipulated in their sales agreements. This sad fact gave me a backdrop for a portion of my story

Catherine: What are you currently working on and what attracted you to this project?

MaryAnn: I am currently working on two projects. The first is a compilation of the poems I have written over the last 40 years. The book will be called Poems for All Seasons, as the poetry deals not only with every chronological season of life, but also with the spiritual seasons of our lives.

The second project is a historical novel titled The Urchin of Naples and based on a story my late mother told me when I was a child. My mother was born and raised in Naples, and I have visited the city several times.

Catherine: What’s one thing you want our readers to hear from you today?
MaryAnn: I would like our readers to know that Jesus loves them just as they are and just where they are, and that He is the answer to their every need.

   

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author who writes riveting fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. Her latest novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, a love story about racism, released in November 2019.

MaryAnn has also written THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES trilogy, a page-turning, family saga revolving around the life of Maria Landro, a woman torn between two worlds, and who must choose between them. MaryAnn’s books for children include five picture books: WHO IS JESUS?, TOBY TOO SMALL, CANDLE LOVE, THE DANDELION PATCH, and POEMS FOR WEE ONES and one chapter book: DO ANGELS RIDE PONIES?

MaryAnn lives in New Jersey with her husband Dom. They’ve been married 50 years and are the blessed parents of two wonderful daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. When not writing, MaryAnn loves to paint, play the piano, and make up silly songs with her grandchildren. You can learn more about MaryAnn at maryanndiorio.com.

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Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin

Merry Christmas from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the privilege of interviewing the interviewer! Davalynn Spencer serves on my team of author interviewers—but today it’s her turn to be grilled. Davalynn has made a name for herself with her western romances, which have won multiple awards, including the prestigious Will Rogers Gold Medallion Award.

Welcome, Davalynn! Please tell us about your latest book.

Davalynn Spencer

Davalynn Spencer

A High-Country Christmas is a two-novella set including my recently released Just in Time for Christmas and last year’s endearing Snow Angel. Each is a sweet tale of mishaps, memories, and emotions that test the mettle of Western couples in the Colorado high country at Christmas. Cowboys, anyone?

Yes, please! And just in time for Christmas. What inspired you to write this book?

I live in one of the most romantic locales known to romance readers–Colorado. At least that’s my biased opinion. And I love Christmas stories. This combination alone sets me up to write historical novellas that are perfect for the busy holiday season, offering readers a quick escape into another time and place. Life wasn’t easier in the Old West of the 1800s but it was simpler. I like to read stories that show daily challenges during that time period and how people overcame them, which means I like to write them too.

A High Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer

A High Country Christmas by Davalynn Spencer

Simpler, not easier—that sums up the appeal of historical fiction. What do you hope readers will take away from this book?

In the first novella of the set, Just in Time for Christmas, Abigale Millerton is forced to look at the difference between faith and trust. This was an exercise taking place in my own life while I was writing the story, so concepts and ideas flowed directly from my real day-to-day to the fictional page-to-page. I hope readers will discover again how incredibly personal our God is.

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord uses our own stories to teach us? So, how do you share Christ in your writing?

In my books, I like to share Christ in everyday settings, the same way I do in my everyday life. Preaching is not my goal. I want readers to see God’s love and companionship in a way they can apply to their own lives. One of my most cherished comments from a reader stated an appreciation for my “lifestyle” approach to Christian fiction rather than just an obligatory Scripture thrown in to qualify for the genre.

I love that approach! What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

After writing thirteen books, I see common threads of forgiveness and second chances. Another way to put it is “redemption.” I aim for redemptive stories.

Wonderful! Why do you love writing?

Can I say I self-medicate with words?

Yes, you may. And thank you for the laugh!

We all have dreams—do you have an unfulfilled dream?

I want to see Scotland. But that means I’d have to drive to the Denver airport first. The initial leg of the trip has me second-guessing already! However, traveling is a real dream. Not just to the Scotland of my grandfather, but also Ireland, Wales, Italy, Israel, and Vermont in the fall.

I hear you. I love traveling enough to brave the traffic through the San Francisco Bay Area. So, what ministries are you involved in, and why?

I’ve played the piano since I was five years old. For most of my life I’ve served on worship teams or led worship in informal settings such as Cowboy Church at rodeos where my enjoyment of singing and playing the guitar comes in real handy. I also teach Wednesday evening Bible studies at my church and write material that is distributed for those studies.

Do you have pets and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?

Blue the Cowdog is my 17-year-old Queensland heeler, and Oakley is his partner in camping out all day. Oakley’s litter mate, Annie, went to coyote heaven a couple of years ago (we live in the country), and I anticipate Blue’s departure to happier trails any day. Blue’s age and determination influenced the characterization for Chester, the beloved old dog in Just in Time for Christmas.

He sounds adorable (both Blue and Chester). Please tell us about your next project.

Book 3 of my popular Front Range Brides series, An Impossible Price, is set for a March 2020 release.

Sounds fantastic! Thank you for visiting with us today, Davalynn!

To learn more about Davalynn and her books, please visit Davalynn’s website and Davalynn’s blog.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

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