One of my long-time critique partners and friends, Diane M. How, has been on a roll, creating the zany sister trio of characters in her The Dahlonega Sisters series. Her newest, Veins of Gold, came out recently and I was able to capture a bit of time from her between projects for this fun interview.
Jeanne: Diane, tell my readers a bit about yourself.
Diane: I’m a sexagenarian! Ooh, that sounds a little dirty. Let me try again. I’m a hopelessly optimistic author who loves life and couldn’t make it through a day without humor. I’ve earned every laugh line, gray hair, and muffin roll that comes with the golden age.
Besides writing, I love walking with my very chatty husband of forty-nine years. He’s got a keen eye for wildlife, birds, and gardening and still entertains and amazes me with his extensive knowledge. However, upon questioning some of his facts, he admitted that when he doesn’t know an answer, he just makes it up. I often warn friends to use the fifty-fifty rule when he shares information.
My daughter and I have been weaving baskets for more than twenty years and if I didn’t gift them to friends and family, we’d need another room to store all of them. I’m still at the advanced beginner level, but my daughter has mastered the craft and teaches others how to weave. Believe it or not, there are others who want to learn this ancient art!
Most of my days are spent sitting in front of the computer, but there was a time when I rappelled a hundred-foot cliff, rode a submarine to the bottom of the ocean, and zip-lined though Meramec State Park. Now I let my characters take me on adventures. Guess in some ways I’m living vicariously through them.
Jeanne: I’ve seen some of your so-called “advanced beginner” baskets and they are amazing.
Jeanne: How long have you been writing seriously?
Diane: Writing has always been my emotional release when stressed or sad. When I was a young teenage, my two-and-a-half-year-old brother died from cancer after a year of horrific treatments. Our family never discussed the permanent wounds inflicted with his death. The only outlet I had was writing and I destroyed everything I wrote for fear of someone else reading it.
Later, as a young mother, I wrote stories about my daughter and her favorite stuffed dogs. For the life of me I can’t find any of them but it was an enjoyable effort.
I lacked the knowledge, time, and courage to do anything with my scribbles. I dabbled in poetry and writing vignettes while working full time and caring for my mother who had Alzheimer’s. When I could squeeze it in, I took courses at the community college or through adult education programs.
Ten years ago, after multiple family deaths, a forced retirement, and nearly losing my husband to a heart attack, I again turned to writing as a release. I filled notebooks with tear-stained pages of pent up emotions. When the dust settled, I was lost.
After years of never having a moment to myself, I struggled with what to do with free time. The local library had a writing critique group and I decided to attend one of the meetings. Best decision ever. With the help of others, I began to refresh my skills and improve my writing. A fellow writing friend offered to help me publish some short stories into a book, Peaks and Valleys.
Then someone encouraged me to participate in NANOWIMO (National Novel Writing Month – November) and I jumped in with both feet. With no plot and only two characters I’d created while taking a class, I sat down and wrote a 50,500 word romantic suspense novel. As with many first attempts at novel writing, it’s been rewritten many time and currently is collecting dust in cyberspace, but I’m prepared to scrub it up very soon.
Jeanne: Do your novels/stories carry a message?
Diane: I’m always looking for the silver lining, hence my blog https://authordianemhow.com. My stories always have a happy ending. There is enough grief and anger in this world without me creating more.
I also believe there are always two sides to a story and it is important to keep an open mind until you know both. So often quick decisions are made, hurtful words are spewed, and relationships are severed before the entire truth of a situation is known. I try to subtly incorporate that belief into my stories hoping readers leave with a little more tolerance, patience, and understanding.
Jeanne: Who are your favorite authors?
Diane: I enjoy Debbie McComber, Susan Mallery, and Jodi Picoult because they write stories that tug at my heart.
Jeanne: Have they influenced your style?
Diane: Each of them has opened my mind to the type of books I want to write. Debbie’s novels showed me how I could build a series around my characters. Susan showed me how humor can be incorporated effectively. Jodi inspires me to write about sensitive subjects that enlighten readers. I admire all of them.
My first published novel is a women’s fiction, The Dahlonega Sisters, The Gold Miner Ring. It’s the first in a series designed around three fictional middle-age women who live in Dahlonega, Georgia. I’ve been to this quaint historic town many times and knew it would be the perfect location for my sisters to live.
Quirky, eccentric Mutzi steals the main role. She’s witty, superstitious, and loveable. She’s forced to reveal a teenage transgression that’s burdened her all her life.
Jeanne: And the story continues?
The second book of the series, The Dahlonega Sisters, Veins of Gold, was released in November 2020. Although it continues where the first story left off, it was written as a stand-alone. In this book, Mutzi’s twin sister, Marge—who looks and acts nothing like Mutzi—takes the lead when she is told a secret that could change their family dynamics. In order to prove or disprove what she’s been told, Marge must do ancestry research. Will the results disprove her fears or will they change the dynamics of The Dahlonega Sisters forever? You’ll have to read Veins of Gold to find out.
You can find it at your favorite retailer at: https://books2read.com/u/mvnnLJ
They make a great holiday gifts for friends and family too!
I happen to know that Diane is a prolific writer with stories and poems scattered across multiple anthologies. You can check out her work and follow Diane at these links:
Diane, thank you for spending time with us. Be sure to check out Diane’s current works.