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Interview with MaryAnn Diorio

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction for both adults and children. She is also a licensed minister, a certified life coach, a certified biblical counselor, and a certified behavior consultant. Her writing has appeared in such publications as The Saturday Evening Post, Human Events, and The Press of Atlantic City, as well as in numerous Christian and secular magazines.

MaryAnn’s novels, novellas, and short stories have garnered awards from such professional organizations as American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), various chapters of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers, and Writer’s Digest Magazine. She has also won awards in nonfiction, notably an award from the AMY Foundation for her essay titled “From Feminism to Freedom.”

Of all the types of writing MaryAnn has done, her favorite is writing fiction, especially fiction for hurting women. As she often notes, “Whereas nonfiction appeals to the intellect, stories appeal to the heart. And the heart is where true transformation occurs.”
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I see that writing women’s fiction is only one of many hats you wear. To quote from Amazon, “She loves children, dogs, and pizza, in that order.” I suppose the children referred to would be your grandchildren. Do you put these and your other interests into your books?
You are right, Pearl, regarding my grandchildren. I always tell them that they are the best grandchildren in the whole world and Canada (private family joke). But I love all children. I had so much fun raising my own two precious daughters who are now adults in their forties. Children have taught me so much about life and about faith. They are precious treasures!

Yes, my grandchildren have influenced my children’s books, not in the sense that I have put them in the books, but in the sense that they have offered me plot ideas. My ten-year-old granddaughter is especially gifted in writing and has written her own wonderful stories. She and I have brainstormed several plots together.

How nice for you to have a granddaughter who shares your writing interests. The blurb for The Captain and Mrs. Vye mentions the main character being a childless, middle-aged widow. Can you tell us more about the story?
Gladly. Loretta Vye is a middle-aged widow who discovers that her late husband has left her destitute. The story takes place in the late 19th century in Cape May, New Jersey, a quaint seaside resort on the southernmost tip of the state. It is one of my favorite places to visit.

When Loretta’s husband is killed in the famous 1873 shipwreck of the SS Atlantic, off the coast of Nova Scotia, Loretta is left penniless. Her businessman husband was returning from a trip to England where he had attempted to salvage a business deal. Instead, the deal fell through, and he was left bankrupt.

Unaccustomed to taking care of herself, Loretta grows from dependence through independence and, finally, to interdependence. In the end, she learns the truth that man will fail her, but God will never fail her. A romantic thread runs through the story as Loretta finds work with a retired sea captain and, eventually, starts her own business.

It sounds like the theme would appeal to middle-aged or older women. Does that describe a large percentage of your readers?
I would say so, although I have many younger readers as well. There has been so much fiction written for younger women and not enough, I think, for older women. Being an older woman myself, I recognize that we who are farther down the road of life encounter different and unique problems and challenges. There doesn’t seem to be enough Christian fiction to meet the reading needs of older women struggling with their own specific issues, although that situation is rapidly changing as more and more writers are writing fiction with older characters.

I’m curious about the title. It seemed to ring a bell, and I realized it reminded me of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, also with main characters of a captain and a widow. How did you come up with this story and title?
The title literally just popped into my head one day. It surprised me. Interestingly, only the title came to me. No story. So, I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to give me a story to go along with the title. And He did.

By the way, I have never read The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and am not familiar with that book. It’s possible, I guess that somewhere along the way I may have seen that title, but if so, I don’t recall.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
The message I hope readers take away from this book is expressed in my foundational Scripture verse for the story, found in Psalm 118: 8: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

You told me you’re self-publishing this book, under your own imprint. Can you tell us something about the process of publishing this way?
As a hybrid publisher, I have experienced both the traditional publishing process and the indie publishing process. I have enjoyed both, although I much prefer indie publishing because of the freedom it affords me in terms of publication time, book cover design, marketing venues, and so forth.

Both have an important place in publishing, and each follows a different process. When an author publishes traditionally, he is responsible for writing the book and, to some extent, for marketing it as well. The publisher handles everything else.

An indie author, however, must do all of the work himself. He wears several hats: He is the Maker of the work, the Marketer of the work, and the Manager of the work. As maker, marketer, and manager, the indie author not only writes the book, but he must advertise it, sell it, and take care of all the business aspects of publishing the book.

For example, indie authors must hire their own professional editor to edit their books. They must hire a book cover designer to create covers for their books. They must hire formatters to format their books for both print and electronic publication. If the book is a children’s book, the author must hire an illustrator. All of these services must be paid for upfront. Hybrid authors do not incur these costs. Instead, they are absorbed by the traditional publisher.

On the other hand, the indie author keeps all the profits and does not have to split them with a publisher or agent. This is, perhaps, the main reason that authors choose to go indie.

Indie authors serve simultaneously as both author and publisher. The process can be very exciting if you are a person who likes to maintain control of the publishing process. And, you don’t have to wait several years before your book is available for sale. Within a matter of months, you can see your book for sale on retail bookshelves and online retail venues.

Finally, indie publishing no longer carries the stigma it used to carry at one time. Many successful traditional authors have chosen to go indie and are earning far more than they did in traditional publishing.

The choice to take the traditional or the indie route is an individual one. I would suggest that an author pray about it first and let the Lord lead him in the publishing path the Lord wants him to follow.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
I am a firm believer that God gives us enough time to do what He has called us to do. The challenge comes in making His calling a priority and eliminating those things that He has not called us to do.

I don’t “find” time to write. I “make” time to write. I treat my writing as a business. As such, I report to work at 9 a.m. sharp every morning, five days a week. And I report dressed for work (makeup included). If I don’t take my writing seriously, no one else will.

What is your writing routine? Any quirky habits or must-have snacks?
I write from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, with a break for lunch with my husband. After 3:00 p.m., I spend a couple of hours marketing my books—creating ads, promos, etc.

I don’t need must-have snacks to get me going, but if you can call this a quirky habit, I find it best to have an uncluttered desk in order to write. For me, a clear desk equals a clear mind. Also, I play a CD of Baroque music while I write. I read somewhere that Baroque music stimulates the creative part of the brain. I start my writing day by asking Holy Spirit to guide me and to give me the story of His heart.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
I love to paint in acrylics and oils, to play the piano and mandolin, and to spend time with my family.

Is there anything else you would like to say to readers of this interview?
Each one of us has been called by God to sing a specific song while on this earth. Don’t die without singing your song.
Pearl Fredericksen lives on the beautiful west coast of Canada, where she enjoys photographing the scenery and writing about her favourite places. She also loves to read and post reviews to spread the word about good books. Her little dog, Bear, sits under her desk to keep her feet warm while she writes. He's very cute, and you can see him in quite a few photos at

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