Meet Writer Tina Dee

Tina Dee writes sweet gentle romances. Her first inspirational historical, the opening book of her Butterfield Trails trilogy, is set in the 1880s in the gold mining town of Julian, California.

Tina is a freelance editor who is a member of the Christian Pen. She’ s written and edited for an insurance company’s monthly periodical and written for Kibble’s Rockin’ Clubhouse, a video for children with autism.

Actively involved in the writing community, Tina is a member of Romance Writers of America®, it’s Faith, Hope and Love inspirational chapter, and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s currently serving as Zone Director for ACFW West.

Tina lives in Southern California with her “crazy-funny” husband, and their seven-year-old son who’s a whirlwind of activity and chatter, whom she home schools. They have a “cute but smelly” dog, Sara, a Lhasa Apso that thinks she’s a Rottweiler, and a smarter-than-a-cat-should be feline pal, Joshua. Tina’s a homemaker—although “definitely not June Cleaver. Too many dust bunnies chasing us around here!”

When not busy filling her many roles, Tina enjoys going to tea with her mom and sister, going out for sushi with her brother and sister, and spending time with her kids. (Two are grown and were placed for adoption at birth.) She loves spending time in the mountains—especially Julian, going for drives up the coast while sipping Starbucks along the way, attending her weekly Bible study, scrapbooking, playing guitar, hiking and taking walks.

Join me as we learn about Tina and her journey.

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Tina Dee.

The Journey Begins

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•In your Web site bio, you mention that you became interested in romances in your teens and even “scribbled out several pages.” When did you return to your dream, declare yourself a novelist and begin your first story?

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As a teen, I read romance novels and wanted to write my own, but I had no idea how to put together a story or develop the characters into people readers would care about. So, I tossed it all to the wind. But there was always a flicker of desire to write. Non-fiction didn’t do it for me. I wanted to create people and lives and love and hope. But I didn’t know how.

I always do things backwards, so I attended a writer’s conference before I ever started writing, in 1998 I think. Chip MacGregor and Steve Laube were emceeing the event, or maybe they were keynote speakers, don’t remember, but they spoke on stage together. One of them talked about Lori Wick and how she was a housewife who wrote novels. I jotted her name down and later looked for one of her books. I was hooked.

Something ignited within me, and I wanted to write fiction. Until then, I had written non-fiction articles but didn’t really enjoy it. The job was sort of thrust upon me. Now, I think I’d appreciate that job so much more than I could back then. I enrolled in writing classes given by two wonderful writers and dear ladies, Peggy Leslie and Glenda Palmer. I couldn’t afford the classes, so they helped me with tuition in exchange for setting up and cleaning up after classes.

But I think one of the defining moments was that time at the conference. Any time I hear or read anything by Chip or Steve, I’m excited to put pen to paper.

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•Like me, you write inspirational historical romance. What led you to choose the inspirational market? And what aspect of Historicals captured you?

Well, I enjoy the sweet historical romances. I do think I love the romanticized notions I have of historicals. As a writer though, I’m really coming to appreciate the care writers give to accuracy. My favorite historical series is still Lori Wick’s The Californian’s. The plots are not very complex, but the characters are so endearing.

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•Also like me, you’ve chosen to set your book in one of California’s historical gold rush towns. What is it about Julian that made it the place to set your story?

I’ve visited Julian many times since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. It’s small, charming, romantic, and every time we pull into town, I literally feel as though I’ve come home. Julian, though a part of San Diego county, has a rich history all its own. It was the only place in San Diego to experience a gold rush. Toward the late 1880s the folks turned from mining to ranching and farming. Today, Julian is well known for its apple festivals in the fall. One day, I hope we’ll have a place up there. I love the sound of crickets and frogs, and the wind in the trees. And the people, sweeter than the apple pie they sell there!

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Your Process

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•How do you begin a story? Do you get to know the hero and heroine first? Or does an idea grab you, followed by scenes flitting through your mind?

LOL—well I don’t begin the story! The characters actually stalk me for a while, whispering their stories in my heart. Sometimes though, they get their plots all twisted and expect me to iron it all out for them. The nerve!

Actually, I love my characters. But I had a really hard time with my heroine in A Home for the Heart. Susan Meissner (another favorite writer of mine, beautiful prose, very lovely woman) suggested I let my character, Lara, follow me around for a day. Talk to her, ask about her day. It’s really helped me to develop an oneness with Lara. I had a really hard time with internal reaction from her, but we’ve built a relationship that I think was critical to me telling her story for her.

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Peaks

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•You’ve already achieved numerous writing credits. Of everything you’ve had published so far, what stands out, and why? What’s the most meaningful recognition you’ve received?

LOL—well, it sure wasn’t the magazine articles I wrote back in the day at the insurance company. They were atrocious! Not too long ago, I found an article I was particularly proud of back then. I cringed reading it, I don’t even know that I kept it! I hope I did though.

Proudest of…I would say working with my brother-in-law on the Kibbles Rockin’ Clubhouse video for children with autism. It’s also a great video for the whole family. My nephew was diagnosed with autism. I can’t help but to wonder what wonderful thing God Almighty had in mind when He designed this magnificent little boy to have this unusual detail in his makeup. But God did. And His plan is good. And we’re trusting Him in that design.

My brother-in-law is a hoot to work with and for, and I’d say collaborating with him on several scenes was probably one of the richest of my writing experiences. Gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever told him that. His name is Scott Leslie and he’s the director and producer of the videos. He’s also an independent film-maker. Can you tell I’m really proud to be associated with that project? I am!

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Partners on the Journey

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•You’re actively involved in the Cyber community of writers. What are some of the biggest blessings you reap because of your connections?

Friendships, real-as-they-can-be cyber friendships. Some of my cyber family members (writers from all over the country) know as much about me as my family does. And they’re wonderful prayer partners too.

I recently shared a huge personal burden with Lena Nelson Dooley. She’s a remarkable woman and an extremely talented writer. She emailed me back drawing from a similar personal experience. Then she wrapped it all up with encouragement on where to set my eyes, heart, and mind. I know the exchange of emails with her recently, as well as those short few moments when we met at a conference a couple of years ago, were divinely designed moments. She brought healing with her words in those emails. Now that’s just incredible to me.

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•Who has been most inspirational in your journey? What lessons have you learned from this person or group of people?

Well, definitely Randy Ingermanson. I can’t even begin to tell you how, there are so many aha moments through reading his blog, his Advanced Fiction Writing Ezine, and just chatting with him in person. He is a remarkable listener, very personable, the gosh-darned nicest guy you’ll ever meet. And he’s mega-intelligent, yet knows how to talk to the average Joe.

The other person is Susan Meissner. She’ll meet with me occasionally to see what’s going on with me and my writing. She’s a very busy woman, and yet she makes time for me. Every time we meet, she brings Jesus. Everywhere she goes, she’s just splashing out the joy and love of Christ. She’s been such an encourager in my writing, and just woman to woman, sister to sister.

Everyone needs a Susan Meissner and a Randy Ingermanson in their writing path.

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The Journey Continues

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•With the first book in your Butterfield Trails Series nearing completion, have you made plans to enter contests or prepare the manuscript for submission? Do you have other story ideas dancing in your head?

Well, first thing I’m really working on is praying about my workday, praying over my writing. I’ve not really taken advantage of the fact that Jesus gives an invitation to me every day, for me to invite Him into my every moment. I know that sounds appalling. What am I doing if I’m a Christian and not asking that very thing already? Well, it’s the matter-of-fact truth. I’m human. I mess up. I let things go, get disorganized, and have to pull it all together again every now and then.

Life is just crazy, and the older I get the more I want to slow down and rest with Him and in Him. Intimacy. That doesn’t sound specific to my manuscript, but it is the attitude and habit that I’ve determined to bring into my work life. After all, the whole reason I wrote the book is to affect lives for Christ in the same way Lori Wick’s books have affected the lives of three women in my life. Women who wouldn’t even hear about Christ until after they’d read Lori’s books. Each of these dear ladies came to me separately and said they wished they could handle their situation the way the main character did in the book. Well, those characters all had strong relationships with Christ.

So there you go, a perfect intro into sharing the love of God and His good plan for one’s life. All because a housewife decided she’d write Christian romances and be ready to be used of God through those stories. Each of those women in my life are now Christians.

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Just for Fun

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•You have a veritable feast on your plate: writing, freelance editing, group blogging, serving as ACFW West Zone Coordinator. How do you balance all that and take care of your non-writing activities? What does your typical day look like? And what are your favorite ways to spend your copious amount of free time? : -)

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LOL—uhh, what’s free time? I’m currently not taking editing clients. I’m focusing on my dream of writing and on homeschooling our son, Lil’ Tiger. I love editing, but my heart is in the writing. I miss my own characters. And they’re tired of waiting for me while I work on the stories of others. So I’m returning to them and getting their stories done.

Blogging is a little harder. I haven’t contributed much in the way of writing to the Bustles And Spurs blog, but I maintain it and I’m working to bring about some of the suggestions the authors have made to improve the site. I’m also launching my own new blog, The Homestead Heart today! I’m very excited about it. I hope you’ll all pop over for a visit.

My typical day starts with quiet time and prayer, breakfast and a morning walk, moderating blog comments. If I have time I check email and zone director things, then we start home school at 7 a.m. with a couple of breaks, ending school at 2 p.m. I go through emails and moderating blog comments again, work on/catch up on crits with my 19th Century crit group (fabulous ladies). Dinner, then evening walk, and laundry. Skim over lesson plans for next day. Write for a couple of hours. That’s if the day all works out according to plan. Usually, something happens to throw a wrench it in and then it’s anything goes. And I fall behind in one of those areas, LOL.

I’m now editing my first book and plotting out the next two in my series, so I don’t have major word counts right now. And, I’m working on a historical romance just for my blog readers at The Homestead Heart called Love’s Gamble. The first chapter will be up on the site by the posting of this article. The major focus for my family is to finish the home school year well.

Noticeably absent from my day—housework. Yeah, the house is a big mess right now. Big mess! Summer’s coming and we’re not schooling over the summer. But we’ll be cleaning.

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Conclusion

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•I’ve enjoyed having you as my guest, Tina. And now it’s your turn to ask a question of your visitors. What would you like to know?

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I would like to know what character you’ve always wanted to play and in what book. Why? I’ll go first, just to break the ice.

I’ve always wanted to be Bobby Bradford in The Californian series by Lori Wick. I loved her wit, her quirky little self, how she was awkward rather than attractive, and yet a beautiful woman inside. And the men around her saw her for that. They grew to love her from the inside out. I also enjoyed how she and Jeff came to realize their attraction to one another and those fun and sweet little uncomfortable moments between them.

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Learn More About Tina

Visit her Web site: http://www.tinadeebooks.com

Visit her new blog at: The Homestead Heart

Visit her group blog:  Bustles & Spurs

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Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win

My next drawing will take place May 31st. The winner will receive a cute tote bag just the right size for an outing or errand run.

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Tote Bag

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To enter the drawing, just leave a comment on any blog post by May 31st and enter your email address when prompted. (I don’t share your information or add it to any mailing lists.) On June 1st, I’ll post the winner’s name in the Welcome post at the top of the blog.

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You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and May 31. Be sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On June 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her/his choice of several covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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27 Responses to Meet Writer Tina Dee

  1. Cristal Lacy says:

    Hi Tina!
    What a great interview. I never knew that you were a writer or an editor! lol I enjoyed learning about you from the interview and I hope that I will get to know you better from now on! 🙂 I do miss you and everyone down there!

    I can’t really remember who I wished I could be from a book. I have read so many different things, but I can’t think of any that were really inspiring to me. (although now I will be thinking about that question and I will let you know if I come up with an answer! lol)

    I can’t wait until your book comes out! I will buy it, read it and I will share it with all of my friends!

    Thank you, Tina! You’re such a wonderful friend and cousin! I love and miss you all!
    Cristal

  2. Tina Dee says:

    Hi Cristal,

    Miss our Bible studies & prayer group! Thanks for stopping by and for your enthusiasm about my pre-published book. I’ll be sure to let you know when it’s out.

    Miss ya, sweetie!

    –Tina

Comments are closed.