Saturday, December 3, 2016

Writers4Higher features author Diane Sawyer

Hi, Diane. Welcome to Writers4Higher.

1.   Tell me about yourself. Your book(s), your life, your inspiration.

Diane grew up in Greenport, a small resort town on the eastern tip of Long Island. She graduated from SUNY at Albany, Seton Hall University, and Fordham University, where she received a Ph.D. She married her college sweetheart, Robert. They lived in Tallman, New York, near New York City, and raised a son and daughter. She taught French, Latin, and English, and for several years was the Coordinator of a K-12 district-wide English as a Second Language Program.

Tired of shoveling snow and raking leaves, Diane and her husband made a big change in their lives. Fond of beaches and dramatic sunsets, they moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. No more snow, but plenty of leaves. She split her time working as an Educational Consultant and writing, but as soon as her first novel was published, she turned to writing full-time, and her long-time dream became a reality. Her short stories have won awards; her novels have been published internationally. She is a frequent guest speaker at writing groups and workshops.

The Tell-Tale Treasure is Diane’s first novel for SYP, Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. Others will soon follow. Her five previous novels—The Montauk Mystery, The Montauk Steps, The Tomoka Mystery, The Cinderella Murders, and The Treasures of Montauk Cove—were published originally in hardcover by Avalon, then in paperback by World Wide Mysteries, and recently in hardcover, paperback, and e-book by Thomas & Mercer, the mystery division of Amazon. She writes a newsletter/blog to family, friends she grew up with, neighbors, fitness friends, volunteer friends, writing friends, and people she meets as she travels the world seeking adventures that often make their way into her stories.

2.   Where do you see your writing taking you in the future?

I can’t even begin to predict where my writing will take me.  A story begins forming when I learn something new and different (such as the haunting sound of a musical instrument called an erhu, sometimes called a Chinese fiddle or Chinese violin), then I research the topic to learn much more, and, most interesting of all, I create characters who will live that story and possibly help solve the mystery that is taking place. At that point, the hard work begins: writing and rewriting, discussing my critiquing partners’ advice and, of course, monitoring the characters, who, in every novel I write, seem to vie for a bigger role. That’s when I have to ask myself: who is in control?  Is it me or is it the characters?

For a long time, I reached into my past for memories of Long Island, where I grew up. I branched out to the New Jersey shore after I saw a painting entitled The Woman by the Sea, and created a story. Two years ago, I traveled to Guatemala on an adventure trip, where my group climbed high pyramids, swam deep rivers, learned how to shoot a blowgun, and journeyed through the jungle and onto a balsa raft to travel down an Amazon tributary. I recorded everything and turned it into an adventure story that should be in print next year. I didn’t know what I was writing until I got home and put it all together. So, I don’t know where my writing will take me—and that’s the biggest adventure of all! 

3.   How do you use your talents/time to help others?

Volunteerism plays a very important part in my life. Currently, I volunteer as a Friend (and Secretary) of the South Community Library in St. Petersburg. We organize all the donated books, sell them once a month at a very popular books sale, and with the funds we buy summer programs that take place at the library for the children of all ages. The programs are educational and fun. Most popular this past summer was the “Ranger” who arrived with boxes of every size (with air holes), housing animals that he discussed. The favorite was the amazingly long, bright yellow python.

I also teach creative writing to the Teenage Book Club at the library once a month. I am a docent at the Dali Museum, where I give tours in English and French.

Annual events also occupy much of my time: The Great American Teach-In where I teach 6 classes of creative writing in one day, once a year: First Night (New Year’s Eve Celebration) where my husband and I serve as information people and sell tickets to our popular event for all ages. Over the years,  I have also volunteered at Bayfront Hospital, The Fine Arts Museum, and the Florida International Museum.

Readers can connect with me at my Amazon Page:

My books are available from my publisher:

Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) Publishing:

              Also, online at these vendors:

      and   www.barnes&

Best to you and your writing, Diane!

Rhett DeVane, blogmaster
Southern Fiction Author

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