Monday, April 6, 2015

An Interview With Author, Diana Tobin

Welcome, Diana Tobin!

About Diana:

My first job was at a hotel in southern California where I grew up – not Eloise style.  Over the years I’ve provided daycare, worked as a cake decorator, been a farmer, and retired from 30 years of banking.  These days I spend my time writing, gardening, scrapbooking, and spending every possible moment with my beloved grandchildren.  One of my best vacations was taking them to Disneyland for the first time.
            With family members spread across the country, and overseas, I was born in Maine, grew up near Los Angeles, and have made the Rogue Valley of Oregon my home for the past 34 years.
            Half my life has been involved with writing; the study and practice of it, plus being part of local and national organizations.  A lifelong love of reading has filled my bookshelves to overflowing.  There is nothing like entering another world, another place, and meeting new people through the pages of a book.

The Interview:
         What is the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? 
           I don’t see myself as an adventurous person, yet some might think I am.  I’d have to say I really had nothing to do with my greatest adventure and that was becoming a grandmother.  Thankfully, it’s an on-going adventure.

What adventure would you like to have that you haven’t done yet if money and skill were no problem?
            I would like to travel around the US more, and take those grandkids with me.  I’d also like to go to Israel and visit my niece.

Who are some of your favorite authors?  What commonality do you see in them? 
            My favorite authors are Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Marilyn Pappano, and Sharon Sala.  The list keeps growing.  Their characters meet their challenges, whether large or small, and become willing to give their all for the love of their life, no matter how long it takes to fall in love with that person.

I believe color says something about a person’s personality.  What’s your favorite color?

            My favorite color is purple, all shades, from flowers, to clothes, to paint colors.  Okay, only my bedroom is purple.

If you could have a do-over life, what one thing would you do differently?  What would you do again?
          No do-over for my life.  I’ve been fortunate to see and do many wonderful things. I do feel I made one big mistake and considered correcting it many times over 28 years, but if I had I wouldn’t have those adorable grandchildren that make it all worth while.  I like my life and it’s hard to beat having a 30 year dream come true; being a published author.

What is your writing process from conception to finished MS? Are you a planner, panster or both?

            I’m definitely a panster writer.  I get an idea, get a feel for the characters, and go for it.  Planning doesn’t always work for me because the characters have a tendency to take over and say and do what they want.  I listen to them since it is their story.  Once the story is down then I edit, edit, edit, edit, until I’m satisfied it’s the best it can be.  Then, of course, the worry sets in; should I change this, that?

How did you research for your book?
            There was no research for KISSING COUSINS.  I live in the Rogue Valley of southern Oregon and have attended many of the S. Oregon Spartans Hockey games.  (Yes, readers, they are real!)  I was born in Maine, have relatives there, and been to the places in the book.  While I borrowed family names, none of the characters in the book are based on them.  Life provides much fodder for writers.

What is your all-time favorite movie?  TV show?
            My favorite TV show is “NCIS”  I love the interaction of the characters more than the crime solving part.  My favorite movie is harder to pick.  I loved Daniel Day Lewis’ portrayal of “Lincoln” and sobbed even though I knew what was coming.  “Ever After” is a good one because Cinderella saves herself and by the time she does, the prince is worthy of her love.  I have a great fondness for “Hocus Pocus” due to a fascination with the Salem witch trials.  Enough that I wrote two books set during that time.

How important do feel writing workshops are to any writer?
            Writing workshops are a great help and I highly recommend them as time and money allows.  You will always learn something, and that one thing could be just what you need.  Or, you might make a contact that becomes your new best friend.

If you could learn one new skill, fear and money no deterrent, what would it be?
            I would love to learn to dance like on “Dancing with the Stars.”  I have no desire to be on the show, but learning to dance would get me in shape without looking like I was being attacked by a hairy bug.

If you had a million dollars to donate to any one charity, what would it be?
            There are so many important causes that could use an infusion of cash but I’d go with literacy.  It doesn’t matter what a person reads, as long as they can read, and they will learn something.  Even if what they learn is to have faith in themselves.

What advice would you like to give to an aspiring writer? Did anyone mentor you or help you along the way? 
Please tell us about your mentor and what you feel they contributed to your writing career.
What is the best advice anyone ever gave you?

            The best advice I got was from Nora Roberts.  Either I was extremely naïve or totally brazen, but shortly after I got serious about writing I penned a note to Ms Roberts and asked her advice.  Much to my shock she answered with join Romance Writers of America.  This was a total eye-opening experience.  Those at the top were willing to help those just starting, completely the opposite of corporate America where I was earning my living.  The conferences, the workshops, the contacts, the do’s-don’t’s-and why-nots.  A group of us formed a local chapter; half our members were multi-published and willing to help the rest of us.  My mentors were Vella Mun, Wendy Warren, Rosalie More, Sheila Straus, Gail Jenner, and many more.  As chapter president I became a cheerleader with my monthly messages aimed at myself as well as my fellow members.
            Reading is a big help; not just the genre you write, but any and every thing.  You learn how a story flows or doesn’t.  You learn how traits of a character are revealed.  If you read something you don’t like, you’ve learned what not to do.

If you could live anywhere in the world you wanted to, where would it be? (Language is no barrier)

            I love where I live, but the bottom line for me is to be near my grandchildren as long as I can.  I would love to also have homes in Maine, Nantucket, and one of the Carolinas.

Where do you write? 
How much time do you devote to writing each week?
 Do you have a day every week that you take off?

            I write at home with the days and hours varying depending on what’s happening with the rest of my world.  I pick up my grandkids from school and stay with them until mom or dad arrives home.  Most often I write in the mornings before going to get them, but if a story is really clicking and I can’t bear to leave it I take my computer with me.  We each have our own homework….and my grandson only asks for my help with English and spelling.  Hmmm.  This flexibility is possible because I am now retired.

What is a genre that you have not attempted that you would like to try?
            I would love to write a humorous mystery like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series.  Some have told me they got some chuckles while reading KISSING COUSINS.  Hopefully, not during a love scene.  There may be hope for me one day.

Is there anything you would like readers to know about you?
            Readers probably know more about me than they wish.  I do hope readers enjoy KISSING COUSINS and want to thank everyone for this opportunity.

GIVE AWAY ALERT!! Diana will be giving away a digital copy of KISSING COUSINS to someone who comments on her interview. Be sure to include your email address in your comment.


Paperback: 140 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 22, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1508919224

ISBN-13: 978-1508919223

Augusta Thompson has lost everything—her parents, her husband, her home…and now, her only child. Then, a legal notice arrives asking her to travel across the country to claim an inheritance from an unknown relative—a grandmother she never knew she had. There’s only one catch: she must share her grandmother’s beautiful old home with handsome Olympic contender Charles “Web” Webster—the only other person named in the inheritance—for one year. Web finds it difficult to believe Augusta never knew about her family in Maine, the family Augusta’s mother turned her back on. As time goes by, he realizes Augusta was mentally and emotionally abused by her ex-husband, and her heart and soul are wounded. Can Augusta learn to trust in others once more and make a new life for herself? Can Web’s love for Augusta heal her broken heart and allow them a future together? Will the conditions of the inheritance prove to be a help or hindrance for these KISSING COUSINS?

Augusta Thompson kept her most treasured belongings in the trunk of her car.  Her scrapbooks and boxes of photos; a string of pearls once belonging to her mother and a macaroni necklace made by her daughter; a blanket she’d crocheted when pregnant and had wrapped around baby Hope.  A few precious books by her favorite authors; Nora Roberts when she wanted to read about true love, however fictional, and Janet Evanovich when she needed to be reminded there was humor in the world.  A small collection of Junie B. Jones books she and Hope had read, and laughed over, together.
            What took up most of the trunk space in her fifteen year old Dodge Neon were skeins of yarn, pattern books, notebooks holding more patterns and ideas, and a variety of knitting needles and crochet hooks.
            Logically, keeping her most prized possessions in a vehicle might not be the best idea, but Augusta, better known as Gus, had lost much to someone she was supposed to be able to trust and in places supposedly safe.  Plus, her car had become her home.  It was old enough, with various dings and dents, no one would deem it worthy of stealing.
            Today Gus packed the last few items as she wondered how long it would take her to drive from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine.  One saw the end of what she loved best and held most dear, the other, hopefully, would help her find a way to go on living.
            Armed with numerous maps to help her find her way across the country, she placed the last item in the trunk.  A small ornately carved box holding the ashes of her beloved eight year old daughter, Hope.



Rosalie More said...

Diana, your interview is wonderful. You showed your wisdom in the way you answered the questions. How fortunate your grandchildren are to have your support and love.

Congratulations on reaching your goal. You are walking proof that it pays to keep going and never give up.

Love you,

Rosalie More

Diana Tobin said...

Thank you, Rosie. I appreciate your kind words more than you can know. No, I'm sure you do know. Love, Di

Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi Di!
Just wanted to pop in and learn a bit more about you--Sarah always asks the best questions--she's a wonderful hostess!

I really enjoyed Kissing Cousins--that was a book that was full of surprises, and I really enjoyed the unfolding of the relationship between Gusta and Web.


Diana Tobin said...

You're right, Cheryl, Sarah does have the best questions. Wish I'd thought of some of these when I did interviews years ago for the Outreach Chapter of RWA. Appreciate your kind words about Kissing Cousins, too.

Livia J Washburn said...

Di, I'm so glad you stuck with writing, and look forward to reading more by you.

If you're interested in writing humorous mysteries, we are currently looking for short story cat mysteries for the anthology, Nine Deadly Lives. There's more information on the website.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Di and Cheryl, thank you for the compliments about my questions. Truth is, I'm just naturally nosy.
Loved your excerpt, Di. I wish you every success with Kissing Cousins. All the very best to you.

Diana Tobin said...

Livia, thank you, and I do keep thinking every time I see a submission call out.

Diana Tobin said...

Sarah, thank you for this lovely interview!

Unknown said...

Di, it's wonderful to get to know more about you. Folks are the product of their experiences, and you've had some great ones.

I haven't had a chance to read Kissing Cousins yet, but I'm looking forward to it.

Put something together for Nine Deadly Lives! That would be a great way to dip your writerly toes into the humorous mystery sub-genre. :-)

Diana Tobin said...

Kathleen, hope you enjoy Kissing Cousins; I've sure enjoyed your works. I'm thinking about 9 Deadly, but my mind is filled with a return to Webster. :)

Unknown said...

Love your honest answers with this interview. I'm looking forward to reading your book. How fun that there is a great writer here in the Rogue Valley!

Diana Tobin said...

Thank you, Rosemary! There is a wealth of great writers in Southern Oregon and I'm proud to join the ranks!