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Interview With Megan DiMaria

Her journey with books started as a child and blossomed into a communications career as a radio and television report, freelance writer, editor and marketing professional. Yet the most important thing she’ll tell you about herself is that she’s a follower of Jesus. Megan DiMaria joins us this month to talk about her newly released second book, Our of Her Hands, and the realization of her lifelong dream to be an author.

Megan, your latest book sounds so relevant to today—parents dealing with young-adult children making questionable choices. What inspired this story?

I’d be lying if I didn’t say “life.” But the book’s not autobiographical, it’s inspired by a mother’s dreams and fears for her children. Fortunately, I haven’t had to live the experience my character has, although I know it’s not uncommon to find your young adult children making choices you don’t agree with.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey and making your dream come true?

I think what was most significant is recognizing that this was my calling. I believe the Lord made me to have a love and a hunger to express my/His worldview through the written word. I’ve also been fortunate to have people in my life that encouraged me to write, starting with a wonderful 6th grade teacher. My greatest blessing is that my husband and children have always supported me and cheered me on. I won’t say it’s been an easy path. From the time I started writing for publication until I got my contract, 12 years passed. I always trusted that this was what God had for me to do at this time of my life, and I knew that most people are not an overnight success. The l-o-n-g years of writing and submitting were spent learning the craft, making friends with writers, and learning about the industry.

How do you balance your writing time with other responsibilities?

Boy, I wish I had a great answer to give you. It’s a struggle. The first part of the equation is to make time with God and my family my first priority. I have a part-time day job that takes up two+ days a week, I attend a weekly writers group (Words For The Journey), and I love to spend time with my family. I trust that any time spent with my family will be redeemed, so I never say no if my husband asks me to go for a walk or my kids want to hang out with me. So far it’s worked.

And how do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture?

I have such a strong conviction that I was created for the life I’m living that I view my writing to be a partnership with God and a form of worship in my obedience to write. I don’t have any illusions that I’ll be the best writer of my generation, and to tell the truth, I’m guilty of having been anxious about wondering how my career is judged by others. But the Lord’s been good, and He’s helped me to understand that I can’t evaluate my career based upon worldly values. I’m writing for Him and for an audience He ordains. I’ve gotten some amazing reader feedback, saying that my books have helped people work toward a stronger marriage, recognize that they should invite the Lord into their relationships, and to remind people not to slip into the habit of being a “Sunday Christian.” Those accolade are so much more meaningful than any sales figures, awards, or fame.

What would you describe as your biggest obstacle in writing and how do you overcome it?

I almost always feel pressed for time. Never in my wildest dreams did I foresee that publishing would be such a huge commitment. I want to write the best story I can, market my books in partnership with my publisher, be a good wife and mother, maintain friendships, read some great books and just be a well-rounded woman. I’m working on creating a realistic schedule that allows me to accomplish what must be done yet still have time to relax. If someone knows the secret to accomplishing this, please email me. ☺

If you could pass on one significant lesson to others working toward publication, what would that be?

I think I would tell them to accept that there is a process to becoming a writer. It’s not something that happens overnight. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you would expect to invest years into education and training. It’s the same with writing. You need to learn how to be a good writer by reading books on craft, joining a writer’s community (ACFW!), joining a critique group, hanging out with other writers, attending conferences, and writing, writing, writing.

Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Living life is my greatest inspiration. I love to observe the world around me, and that’s where I find my stories and characters. They’re there in the conversations over coffee with friends, in snippets of conversations I overhear in line in the grocery store, in the few words to neighbors while I walk to the mailbox, in interactions with co-workers, at the shopping mall while I browse racks of clothes, and everywhere I find myself.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?

I think my style of storytelling is unique because at this point in time there are not many writers specifically writing to issues baby boomers experience. I used to wonder if my stories would ever be published because I thought they were just simple stories of average people, and not big, important stories with heroic characters. But I’ve been told that my stories are easy to relate to—that the lady next door can connect with the issues my characters experience. Women have told me I’m writing what they’re thinking or experiencing. I’m honored to know that my simple, little stories have impacted lives. It’s obviously a God thing.

Finish this question. If I could ask Jesus over for coffee and ask him one question, I would ask…

Wow. That looks like a simple question, but it’s not. My first thought is that I would be consumed with thanking Him for what he’s given me. I’m blessed with a truly happy life. Perhaps my question would be, “What am I missing?” Is there something else He wants me to do? Am I doing all He’s created me for?

Any parting words for up-and-coming writers?

Write for an audience of One. Ask God where your calling may be. At one point, about two years before my contract came, I reconciled myself to the fact that maybe my writing would only be for my church, local newspapers, magazines, and letters and emails to loved ones. I had just become the assistant director of Words For The Journey Christian Writers Guild (Rocky Mountain Region), and thought perhaps my ministry was in being an encourager to others. It would be dishonest to say that I wasn’t saddened by this thought, but at the same time I wanted to be exactly where God wanted me to be. And I knew that obedience would in my Christian walk would ultimately be a joyful experience. Also, keep writing, reading, learning, and submitting. Be available to experience what God’s created you for, no matter what direction that leads you in.

Thanks for sharing with us, Megan!

Thank you for the opportunity to hang out on the ACFW website. This is such a dream come true. When I joined ACFW in 2001, I was member #94. I had stars in my eyes being able to interact with successful authors and learn the craft from skilled writers. Although I harbored the dream of publication in my heart, it seemed like too lofty an ambition for someone as unqualified as me. But because of ACFW I hung in there—growing as an artist, learning the craft, attending conferences, and learning about the publishing community.

I also want to share that the greatest impact on my life through my writing journey has nothing to do with publishing. My writing journey is most precious to me because of the depths I’ve traveled with God and what He’s continued to teach me. I don’t know where this adventure will lead, but as long as my hand is in His, I’ll gladly put one foot in front of the other and press on.

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