Dineen Miller has won several prestigious awards for her fiction, and her devotional writing has been featured in Our Journey and Christian Women Online Magazine. Her first nonfiction book, Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage, released from Regal books in February of this year. Her first novel, The Soul Saver, will release from Barbour Publishing in summer or fall 2012. She’s currently working on her first novella, A Love Meant to Be (Central Park Rendezvous collection), also from Barbour, will release in April 2012.
Dineen is an artist at heart and loves everything creative, thus her penchant for creating the most decorative mud pies as a child. Her God-given creativity translated into art college as a young adult, and she hoped to break into the world of graphic design with a bang. God ultimately had other plans.
After serving as a youth counselor, a Stephen Minister, and a women’s ministry leader at her church, the one thing Dineen had done since childhood (besides making mud pies) became the avenue of God’s calling on her life—writing. She delights in penning words to share God’s great love and hope, especially for those in mismatched marriages like hers. Fiction and nonfiction alike are the staples of her passion for ministry to the spiritually mismatched.
Married for more than twenty-three years, Dineen shares her life with a great guy who adores disc golf, her two daughters who never stop surprising her with their own creativity, and a dog who no doubt is an angel in disguise. The cats she’ll leave to your imagination.
Dineen’s Offer of Representation
Many good things have been coming your way lately, as your visitors will soon see. One is that you’re represented by agent extraordinaire Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. (Yes, as your agency mate, I’m biased. :-)) What led to The Agent Call, where were you when it came, and how long and loudly did you squeal?
Let me just say, I absolutely adore Rachelle. I was at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference in 2008 and had an appointment to meet her. Rachelle had just started agenting that year, I believe. I already knew about her fantastic reputation as an editor so I was intrigued.
I found out later that two people had recommended me to her. I was floored. We clicked at the conference and there I was practically walking away with an offer of representation. I didn’t believe it though. LOL! I think it sunk in when I got home and the next day, Rachelle had already emailed me to discuss my work. A week later she offered to represent me.
What blessed me most was she made this offer knowing full well my writing would be on hold for a while. My daughter had just been diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor and things were chaotic, to say the least. Rachelle was interested in the long haul, so to speak. I knew then she was the perfect agent for me. She knows what to say when I need it and when to give me a gentle kick in the noggin. I came close to giving up at one point, but Rachelle wouldn’t let me. So, I am so very grateful for my agent and proud to call her a friend. She’s an amazing woman.
Dineen, the Non-Fiction Writer
Your first book is on the shelves, but it’s not a romance. It is, however, about real-life romances between those in “spiritually mismatched marriages.” How did you and your co-author, Lynn Donovan, meet, and what led you to write Winning Him Without Words?
Unbelievably, we met online. God had inspired us both with the idea of blogging about being unequally yoked at the same time. Lynn met Camy Tang at the Mount Hermon conference in 2006. A few weeks later, I had lunch with Camy and told her my dilemma—how did I blog about my mismatched marriage and still honor my husband? Camy wound up being the catalyst God used to connect us. The rest is amazingly and wonderfully covered with God’s fingerprints.
As for the book, there just wasn’t much out there that was current or designed to be a Bible study as well. We listened to our blog readers’ needs and broke down over 30 years of mismatchdom into what we saw as 10 key areas and the truths God had showed us in our own mismatched marriages.
Seeing it all come together still blows me away. That’s what God does best—redeems everything, wastes nothing. Now we get to share all that with others struggling in their mismatched marriages. That alone leaves Lynn and I awestruck on a daily basis.
What have been the most surprising aspects of having a book released? The most fulfilling?
Most surprising? Actually holding the book. When I first opened the package, I trembled and bawled. I didn’t expect to have such a strong reaction.
Most fulfilling? Hearing from readers how it’s impacting their lives and marriages. One woman said she was excited about her marriage again for the first time in years. To be able to make a difference in the lives of those hurting and vacant of hope—I can’t think of anything more rewarding and satisfying. God took my dreams and turned them into more than I could have ever imagined.
Dineen, the Fiction Writer
Some people are multi-talented. You’re obviously one of them. 🙂 In addition to your non-fiction book, you’ve sold a novel and a novella. Let’s start with the novella. You’re teaming with some mighty talented authors. Who are they, how did you come to be part of the group, and how are each of your contributions to the book related?
I have the distinct pleasure of writing with Ronie Kendig, MaryLu Tyndall and Kim Sawyer, three of the most talented and caring women I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Ronie deserves a medal for putting it all together, team included, and sending it to our fabulous editor, Becky Germany at Barbour Publishing.
The stories span from the Civil War (MaryLu) to WWII (Kim) to Vietnam (me) to the current day backdrop of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars (Ronie). That’s basically the backdrop. What connects the stories is the theme of a lost love restored. A gold coin and Central Park (New York) are elements that show up in each story as well.
How cool. The project sounds like lots of fun. Now for the novel. Since we’re agency mates and Call Day buddies, I know you received news of this sale on December 7, 2010. What were you doing when Rachelle called, and how did you react to the BIG news?
I was sitting at my desk, working on a design project for a client. My phone rang. I saw Rachelle’s name come up on the display. My first thought was wondering what she would say first. Rachelle knows how we authors choke up when we see a call from our agent! So she would always start by telling me this wasn’t THE CALL.
This time she got to say, “Dineen, this is THE CALL.” I know I squealed. I tend to lose my voice a bit when I get excited so I don’t think I blew out her eardrums. LOL! I was thrilled, excited, and blown away.
I’d about given up on this book getting in anywhere. We’d heard from several publishers that they loved the story and writing but didn’t know how to market it, had issues with one element in particular, or didn’t want to deal with the theme of being spiritually mismatched. Honestly, I thought Barbour wouldn’t be interested. I was shocked. And I will be eternally grateful to Becky Germany for giving this book a chance.
Please tell us where you came up with the idea for Soul Saver and how it ties in to your non-fiction book, Winning Him Without Words.
Well, my life was pretty much the fodder for this book. I loved how The Love Dare and the movie, Fireproof, worked together. One gave the truths and principles, backed with Scripture (as does Winning Him) and the other showed them in story. I wrote The Soul Saver to do that. This is a story about a mismatched couple grappling with the loss of a child and their faith differences (she’s a Christian and he’s an atheist).
These types of marriages face a lot of spiritual warfare because there’s a soul at stake. I wanted to show that too, so I added a demon to the story. He’s not “out there,” like a horror movie, but he’s a tool to show how our marriages can be targeted for destruction. Any marriage. Then bring in temptation. My heroine finds herself drawn to a pastor who represents what she wants most in her husband—he’s a man of God. What she doesn’t know is that he’s being used as a tool to destroy her.
That part came from our tendency as the believing spouse to see only what our spouses aren’t and miss the wonderful blessing God intends them to be in our lives. I can honestly give my husband, who is also an atheist, most for the credit for my desire to study the Bible in depth and to constantly seek God for wisdom and guidance in my marriage. I’m a missionary in my own home. That’s a position I hold dear.
Dineen, the Artist
Your first profession was more likely to have you working on book covers than content. Please tell us about your experience as a graphic artist and the part that plays in helping other writers.
Actually, I have done some book covers too! LOL! That was a dream come true too. Love how God does that. I’ve worked in the design industry for almost 25 years. When I started pursuing publication in 2004 and joined ACFW, I also found a niche doing design work for writers and authors who had marginal budgets to work with. What started with one sheets grew into a regular client list. I’ve loved every minute of it, because I love designing and I love being able to help authors and writers get what they need without busting their budget.
As for right now, my design business is on hold for a while. God’s released me from that to write and take a bigger step into ministry. Like I said, I’m living my dream.
How much say, if any, did you have in the great cover of Winning Him Without Words? As a graphic artist, why do you think it works so well?
Didn’t have one bit of influence there. The cover is AWESOME! When I first saw it, I cried (I think there’s a theme here). It was not only the perfect cover but the perfect title. I think that’s what I love most about this book. The title is pure genius, perfect for our book. I want to hug the person who thought of it. And the cover design is as fitting! The couple standing together, the coloring—all of it captures the theme and mood of the book. I’m glad I didn’t have any input or say in it. I actually don’t like to design my own stuff. I’m never satisfied. I’m my own worst client. 🙂
Since you’re an awesome graphic designer—the one behind the booklet, signage, and promotional materials for the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference—it’s clear you know your stuff. What advice do you have for writers who are preparing to promote their first books?
One, figure out what you’re good at and focus on that. If you spread yourself and your resources out too thin trying to cover as much as possible, you wind up with minimal effect. For Winning Him, we have been very careful to prayerfully market this book. We can’t step outside of God’s plans. And we’ve been amazed at the doors He’s opened. I never would have guessed our Facebook presence would be so successful.
Two, be consistent. That’s probably where most people fail. In your image/branding, materials (print and web) and online marketing efforts, be consistent. If you want to build a platform, you have to be “on it” more than just here and there.
Three, don’t make it all about you. Figure out what you have to offer to your readers. Then find a way to give them something that they can take away. Whether nonfiction or fiction, we have the opportunity to touch lives. That’s a big opportunity to make a difference in this world.
Let’s Learn a Little More About Dineen
If your face and book cover were splashed on the front of a magazine, which would you want it to be, and why?
Now that’s a tough question. Let me think about it… (Three days later but just seconds for you…) I’m not big on magazines purely because I don’t have time. Writer’s Digest and The Writer are the only ones I read, BUT I will step out on a wild limb here.
I’m going to say Christianity Today, because our book had made such an impact on marriage and how the spiritually mismatched are ministered to in the church that people took notice. It would have to be a God thing, because seeing my face on a magazine would be just plain weird. 🙂
Suppose you won a shopping spree at your favorite store. You can have all you can cram in a shopping cart in two minutes. What store would it be, and what things would you be tossing in that cart?
Okay, now I’m giggling. (Better than crying, right?) Hmmm…Pier 1 Imports. I used to shop there years ago and just recently rediscovered them. I could really go nuts in there.
What’s your favorite ride at an amusement park?
That bench that sits right on the side. See it over there. Yeah, that’s my speed…
Coffee, tea, soda, juice, or . . .?
Coffee! Namely, Peet’s Arabian Mocha Java. Love. It.
What three words would your hubby say best describe you? Do you agree?
He said, “Long, cool woman.” Okay, I had to ask him to explain this one so he wound up playing this song by The Hollies (Long Cool Woman), which tells this story of an FBI agent who sees this “long, cool woman” in a black dress and he’s totally smitten. I think I can be quite content with that one, considering I’m almost 6’ tall. 🙂
Dineen’s Question for You
What’s one thing you can do today to make your spouse smile?
Dineen has generously offered to give away two copies of her nonfiction book, Winning Him Without Words.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Dineen by midnight Sunday, March 27th and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)
On Monday, March 28th, I will hold the drawing and post the winners’ names here as well as in a comment and will contact them via email to get their mailing addresses. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)
Congratulations to the winners: Beth Goddard and Jillian Kent.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Where to Find Dineen
Visit her personal website ~ www.dineenmiller.com
Visit her personal blog ~ Kittens Come From Eggs
Visit her group blog: www.SpirituallyUnequalMarriage.com
Friend her on Facebook ~ Dineen Miller
Follow her on Twitter ~ DineenMiller