A very special welcome to our Heart”wings” sister and inspirational YA Western Adventure author, DiAne N. Gates!
DiAne, please tell us more about yourself and your salvation story.
I’d been in church since the nursery and like many youngsters, walked the aisle and was baptized with a group of other pre-teens during a revival service. I knew about Jesus dying for the sins of the world, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him as my Lord and Savior.
One night in l988, with my life a mess and a marriage in trouble, I ran out the door, looked into the heavens, and cried, “Help me, God. Please.” And though there were no voices, no dreams, nothing concrete at the moment, I look back and know God indeed began a major reconstruction of my life that night.
A week later, I got up Sunday morning and in my most un-church-i-fied voice snarled, “I’m going to church. You can do what you want.” My husband quietly replied, “If you’ll wait, I’ll go with you.” Unknowingly, we were scheduled for a divine appointment with God.
The church was beginning a revival with Life Action Crusade…a fourteen-day revival. That was Sunday, and Tuesday evening I ran to the cross and surrendered every area of my life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ—the one who suffered, bled and died for me! And nothing’s been the same since January of ‘89.
How did you become a published author?
Oh my, that’s another God story! I’d written short stories, even won a writing contest at church in my late teens, and loved to draw and paint. A number of years ago (I’m not telling how many) God laid on my heart the fact “You can’t teach what you don’t know. And parents aren’t teaching their children the Bible, because they don’t know the Bible.” Simple, but profound. That idea morphed into a four book family devotional series I’ve dubbed The Master’s Plan.
Like any young aspiring writer, I sent them to several publishers long before the books were ready. They and their illustrations reside in my file cabinet. But I enrolled in a writing course and began a manuscript that years later would become Roped.
A few years later, I was led to North Texas Christian Writers. In the process, six other writers and myself bonded to become a Christian edit group, The Literati. Under the leadership of Lori Freeland, Kathleen Brown, and Richie Wines, I learned to write. Six years and a myriad of rewrites later Roped became a finished manuscript.
I typed “The End” and felt like a balloon whose air had rushed out in a gush. What now? I cried out to God. “I don’t know what to do with this. I don’t do interviews well, and I’m scared to death to speak in public. This book is Yours, Father. Do with it as You will.”
That was a Wednesday night, I believe in late 2013 or early 2014. One of our Heart”wings” sisters, Julie Cosgrove, and I were chatting via email on Saturday evening—same week—and she asked, “What did you ever do with that manuscript you were working on in DiAnn Mills class?” “Nothing.” I replied. “Do you have the first chapter?” she asked. “I’ve got the whole book.” Never seeing God at work. Just a conversation between friends. “Would you let me read the first chapter? Send it to me.” “Sure, I’ll be glad to.”
Sunday afternoon she emailed and expressed how much she liked it and asked if I would mind if she sent it to her publisher? Mind????? She sent it at 9 a.m. Monday morning. At 11 a.m. they asked for three chapters, and at 1 p.m.—same day—they asked for the whole manuscript! Three weeks later, I received a contract.
On July 14th book two in The Roped Series, will be released by Pelican Books…but that’s another God story too!
Is there a particular way that you weave a faith message into your books?
The Roped Series is about relationships. Relationships with each other and a relationship, or the lack of one, with God. It’s about life. Life without God or life with God, and the differences that causes. For the believer, the question is always—what does God want me to do and how am I to react when I’m involved in the lives of others? The Word of God holds the answer to that question. And Crissy finds out sometimes she doesn’t like the answer. But her papa’s wisdom and love for the Lord, and his love for her is the model for her to emulate. Every teen needs a grandpa like Crissy’s Papa.
How do you come up with the ideas for your books?
People, circumstances, and opportunities. During the years I learned to write, I also worked as a wall-paper sub-contractor, and my partner-in-paste was a barrel racer. Being a Florida gal, I had no idea what a barrel racer or a rodeo was all about. She invited our family to join her’s at a rodeo and I was hooked!
I love rodeo! Excitement, competition, danger, and lots of Texas yeehaw fun! And the story began to formulate in my mind. My protagonist, Crissy Crosby, is a mixture of me, my daughter, and my granddaughter—high energy, sassy, and with an answer for everything. You got a problem—we can fix it.
Having lost our daughter sixteen years ago, I know what grief is and what it causes in a family. Being a grandmother, I’ve experienced life with two teen age girls…gracious, that’s enough material for a boocoodle of books!
Why do you write? What keeps you motivated during creative slumps?
There are issues in this changing world, we as parents, should be discussing and dealing with beforehand with our children—acting rather than reacting. Telling a believable story laced with God’s truth, is the best way to teach. Jesus did that, didn’t He? Shouldn’t we?
If we don’t teach our children about Jesus—His way and His Word—someone else will teach them about the idols of this world. What better motivation to write?
I only write when I hear and see the story in my head…the rest of the time I paint, garden, clean house, or as I’ve learned in leading GriefShare—do the next thing. And that could be as simple as putting the day-old wet clothes in the dryer. Gives your brain and emotions a break, allowing God to get your attention.
What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your books?
God numbers our days before there is one of them. He has a purpose and a plan for each of our lives. And if we seek His Word, His plan, and His will for our lives, He opens and shuts doors as we walk through life with Him. We can do life the easy way or the hard way, but in the end, if we belong to Jesus, it will be God’s way.
So, I hope readers will hear and learn to listen for the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit and remember God tells us, when we belong to Him and are walking according to His calling, He will work everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly—for our good and His glory.
Trials and hard times are often used to bring our lives back into balance with His will. We all make mistakes, but God is full of mercy and grace when we admit we’re sorry and ask His forgiveness.
What sort of research do you do for your books?
I wrote and photographed for the East Texas Rodeo magazine and was allowed to go into the arena to take photos. Kneeling in the dirt with a thousand pounds of horse flesh running at you, knowing the only movement you can make is clicking the button on your camera is research enough for a heart attack.
Unless you count the moment you’re in the arena and some smart-aleck cowboy doesn’t realize you’re there, or wanted to see you run, and turns a bull loose. I can’t begin to tell you the spike in my learning curve as I sprinted to, then up and over the fence that night.
Or the time the bull in Roped, Booger Daddy, latched an eyeball on me after he tossed his rider and broke into a dead run as I perched in a field judge’s chair on top of a chain link fence. My husband shouted “Drop the camera and run.” But I couldn’t move.
My mouth opened to scream. No sound came out. Thank the Good Lord for a pick-up man who saw and intercepted that enormous hamburger-on-the-hoof and diverted that critter from plowing me, the fence, and everything else into the dirt. I oozed off the fence, stumbled to the car, and put my camera away. ‘Nough research for one night!
Please share with us about your newest book in the Roped series:
If you read and loved Roped, you’re going to flip over Twisted. We’re going to move beyond the rodeo arena into the nitty-gritty issues of why Jodie Lea Fairgate is such a snot. Jodie Lea’s uncle, her dad’s brother, Bo Fairgate arrives in town and he makes her father, Ed Fairgate look like Santa Claus. Generational secrets explode, secrets that threaten Chun’s and Crissy’s lives.
We’ll be introducing one other new character in Twisted, but I’m not going to tell you who. You’ll have to read the book to find out. And the ending is truly an enormous surprise…no reading the last page first!
Do you have another project in the works now?
I’m already seven chapters into the third book in The Roped Series—Untied. And we’ll return to the rodeo arena in this one is jam packed with competition, consequences, and plenty of light-bulb moments!
On a slightly different note, DiAne willingly shared a few of her personal faves with us, too! I love shrimp anyway you cook ‘em, burgers, and Tex-Mex food. Orange is one of my favorite colors, and I love, love, love Spring! And an ocean—anywhere!
GIVEAWAY opportunity for you!!!
DiAne has graciously offered a very special give-away just for our HeartWings blog readers!!!
She is sharing two signed, matted photos of her own (did you know she’s also an accomplished artist and photographer? Can you say WOW???).
To enter this special giveaway, please comment on this blog message as you answer the following question: “Have you ever been or wanted to attend a rodeo and if so, what would you wear?”
The two winners (each one to receive one of DiAne’s signed/matted photographs) will be selected by midnight on Sunday, July 9th and will be announced in a comment on this blog message on Monday, July 10th. (NOTE 07/10/17: The date has been extended, so you may still leave a comment.)
For more information about DiAne and her books, please follow the links below (you’ll be glad you did).