Something Old, Plain City Bridesmaids Series #1Something Old, Plain City Bridesmaids Series #1
Dianne Christner
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Travel to Plain City, Ohio, to witness the Mennonite and English culture clash. As Katy Yoder accepts a new job and struggles to define her place in the world, childhood friends and a past romance get in the way. Even when her friends try to help her change her judgmental attitude, Katy is certain that seeing things as black and white is the only way to please God. But as love softens her heart, slowly shades of gray seep into her world, and she discovers the right answer isn't always the easiest one.
     

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Dianne Christnerdianne christner

Dianne Christner’s first book was published in 1994, and she now writes full time. She has written several historical fiction titles and has started writing contemporary fiction from her experience of being raised in the Mennonite church. Dianne lives in Phoenix, Arizona, where she enjoys the beauty of her desert surroundings and life sizzles in the summer when temperatures soar above 100 degrees. Dianne and her husband have two married children and five grandchildren.

Favorite Bible verse:Psalm 19:14 NIV,May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”


 

 Our Interview with Dianne Christner


 

What is your favorite Bible verse (translation please)?  Why?

Psalm 19:14 NIV,May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.”


I feel called to write and believe this verse applies to my fiction writing, so it is my continual prayer. In my everyday life, it challenges me to think before I speak—wow do I need to keep this in mind—not to tear down but to encourage others—and to safeguard my input as well as my imagination.

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Born in Florida and living in Phoenix, I love the relaxed, sunny southern life; where I’m wife, mother and gram. I previously attended Sunnyslope Mennonite Church, but now attend a mega-church called Christ’s Church of the Valley. Over the years, I’ve taught Sunday school and Bible studies, but now serve the Lord through my writing.

My career would have to be outlined in two very separate seasons. The first would contain several executive secretarial positions, my teacher’s assistant position at a Christian school, and a venture of owning and operating an exercise salon.

The second would contain my writing journey. It begins with my freelance writing career, including church plays, magazine articles and a stint working for Good Catch Publishing. Now I have authored eight inspirational romance books for the CBA market. At present, I have a wonderful agent, Greg Johnson of WordServe Literary, who believes in me and my writing. Something Old is the first book in a contracted series, The Plain City Bridesmaids, with Becky Germany at Barbour Publishing. I keep a website and a blog at www.diannechristner.net

How did you get started as a CBA writer?

The breakthrough wasn’t easy, but possibly typical. In the 90’s, I took parts of a manuscript to my daughter’s sixth grade English teacher for feedback. With her encouragement, I finished the manuscript. Next I attended an American Christian Writers Conference in Phoenix and bought a copy of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide. I hired a local copy editor, then started the painful process of mailings and rejections. (This was snail mail…before email attachments) Every day I went to the mailbox with hopeful expectation and traipsed back to the house in disappointment. Finally, my manuscript fit the guidelines for a Heartsong novella, and Oh Happy Day, when Barbour Publishing gave me my first book contract.

Where did the inspiration for Something Old come from?
 
After a nudge from my agent and a phone call with Becky at Barbour, it germinated from a series idea with the premise of three little Mennonite girls at church camp, who vowed to become each other’s bridesmaids. I developed three very different characters, and their stories naturally evolved from their individual personalities.

 

How much research did Something Old A take?

I’m a city girl raised in a Mennonite congregation who married a Mennonite farm boy from Plain City, Ohio, so I was able to pull most of my book material from personal experience, but I also made contacts with people who are presently members of the Conservative Mennonite Conference. Even so, there’s always tons of fun research, from the cleaning tips the heroine writes about in her journal to the dishes she uses to set her table.

What was the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing Something Old?

I enjoyed learning about the Amish doddy houses, little guest houses connected to the main house or behind the main house where Amish grandparents live. My characters renovate a doddy house. And they make it so cute that I want to live there.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
 
Definitely protecting my writing time. Writing can be gruesome or joyful, depending on how it is handled. I’m happiest and most productive writing from nine to whenever I meet my daily word count—sometimes noon, sometimes two o’clock. Yep, five hours smack in the middle of the day, with my peak performance being late morning. Since I want the best possible book for my readers, I need to guard those prime performance hours. But life is unpredictable, and I find myself juggling my time to accommodate other commitments. Often I rise before daylight to write.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

My heart sings when I carry a cup of coffee to my desk and open my laptop. I usually start by gazing out the window and praising God for allowing me to do what I most enjoy. How lucky am I? It’s absolutely fascinating to plot. For me the rough draft is hard and takes endurance. But hours seem like mere minutes when I’m polishing the rough draft—so fun playing with words and deepening characterization. I am overjoyed at that first peek at the cover art and actually holding the book in my hand. But the ultimate high is interacting with my readers. Did I mention that I love what I do?

 

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

Christian Writers of the West and American Christian Fiction Writers. I also attend various workshops, especially the American Christian Writers’ Conference when it comes to Phoenix.

What books did you read as a child?

Loved the Trixie Beldon series! My friend Cory and I would act out imaginary adventures, pretending we were Trixie and Honey. I always wanted to be Honey. I loved Little Women and bombed an oral book report on Jane Eyre. My fondest memories are a Bible story picture book about one inch thick that I kept on my nightstand when I was about six, but I don’t know the title or the publisher and have never run across it as an adult. The same goes for a Little Golden Book about a rabbit character (not Peter). It contained a glorious forest scene forever etched into my memory. I always thumb through the Little Golden Books when I visit antique stores, hoping to one day find my special rabbit book, but have never made a real search for it. Maybe, I should take time to do that?

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

I still have one book to finish for the Plain City Bridesmaids series. After that I’m hoping to continue writing contemporary inspirational romance with Mennonite characters. It feels as though I’ve found my niche here.

Who/what has been the most significant influence on your writing career?

Definitely my husband Jim. He really is my other half. He’s the doer and I’m the dreamer—a great combo for getting things accomplished. He encourages me in every aspect of my writing and provides plenty of inspiration too!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Something Old?

I find the ironies of life most amusing and find myself writing about them. A major Mennonite slogan my parents ingrained in me was “we are in the world, but not of the world”. My character Katy wrestles with that truth. When she enters the adult work place in the outsiders’ world, she encounters gray areas that force her to work out her personal faith. Life is not black and white.

 

What is your greatest achievement?

By God’s grace, I have a happy marriage, two wonderful children and five amazing grandchildren. Next to family, being a published author is the achievement that holds the most meaning for me.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Recreation-wise, I’ve gone through phases. I think most creative people like to try this and that…but right now I’m nesting. Having just settled into a different home, I’m fiddling with various home improvements and browsing decorating books. I enjoy my sunny yard with its desert mountain view. Most evenings, I spend with my husband. We like to unwind by watching spectacular sunsets and viewing our favorite television shows. If he’s working in our home office, I join him with a book or Kindle. Hugs from gkids are welcome diversions too!

 

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