Friday, August 7, 2009

Guest blogger: Diane Craver

My guest blogger today is Diane Craver, who happens to be a fellow Samhain author. I'm always interested in knowing how life experiences shape other authors' writing and here's Diane's view on that:



As a writer, I have to admit that my stories are influenced by my many life experiences. Hey, I've lived life fully! LOL Even though I might use some real-life situations and interesting features from actual people for my characters, I create fictional stories for the reader's enjoyment.

When I wrote my newest release, WHITNEY IN CHARGE, I wanted to write a story about sisters and their family bond. The focus had to be on the youngest sister, Whitney, since I'm the little sis in my family. I could easily write how the older sisters like to mother the youngest. In Whitney's case, her sisters Shannon and Regan want Whitney to get back into dating. Unfortunately, they think they know best and sign her up for skydiving so that she can meet hot guys. Whitney hates heights and flying!

In my chick-lit mystery, book, A FIERY SECRET, the main character is a feisty investigative reporter, Catherine Steel. The inspiration for her came from my daughter Christina. I stole a few of her amusing dating stories for a bit of the storyline. There's a secondary character Miranda born with Down syndrome. She was fun to write. I think it's important to show people with disabilities in a positive light. Miranda is actually based on my youngest daughter Amanda. She is a vivacious 19-year-old and brings great joy to our family.

Luke Brunsman, a character in my inspirational romance, NO GREATER LOSS, was inspired by my husband, Tom. I also like my heroines to be strong women with athletic abilities. Psychologist Jennifer Hunter is a great tennis player (I'm not) and Tori Moorhead in my women's fiction, NEVER THE SAME, is awesome in sports. After watching our daughters, April and Emily, excel in sports, I like to include athletic abilities in some of my female characters. I admire athletic talent, especially since I have none in that area. Hey, I started out on the varsity girls' basketball team but was moved to the reserve team.

But I don't just get creative ideas from my own family and life. TV has been a big influence. One idea actually came from a news report about a plane crash. When I heard of a woman walking away from this crash and wanting to change her life, my imagination took this compelling idea to develop the story for NEVER THE SAME. The same thing happened with A FIERY SECRET. On TV they mentioned Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles getting married, and an idea popped into my head how cool it’d be for the main character to have a fantasy related to Buckingham Palace.

I will continue writing some real-life situations for my characters, but I will also use imagination to mold them into unique people.

Thank you so much, Kelly, for hosting my first stop. I've enjoyed being here today.

Here's the blurb and an excerpt from Whitney in Charge (sounds great!). Leave a comment for a chance to win! On August 15th, Diane will give away a free download of Whitney in Charge and a $5 GC to Amazon.




TV producer Whitney Benson is tired of her older sisters’ attempts to fix her up with every single male they meet. Shannon and Regan cross the line when they arrange for her to go skydiving with the simple excuse that more guys like to float in the air than women. Whitney meets two eligible bachelors, Jack and Ben, who constantly battle for her affection. Which one will she choose? Both men make Whitney realize, even a heart shattered by her husband’s death, can once again be made whole. But did she have to fall off a cliff to learn that?
EXCERPT:

Shannon and Regan entered the room with determined looks, immediately making her wonder what they were up to. With her being widowed and their mother gone, both felt she needed direction and had told her so more than once.

“Whitney, we need to talk,” Shannon said.

“But first, let’s go into the kitchen.” Regan smiled, carrying Chinese food. “I brought your favorite.”

“And fortune cookies,” Shannon added.

Well, that wasn’t a good sign. When they wanted her to cooperate with their plans, Regan always thought food was necessary in winning an argument against the youngest sister. Two years ago, she’d been a television news producer for a popular morning program, but those two still treated her like the baby sister. Maybe if she’d had children with Rob, things would’ve been different. Probably not. She’d always be their little sis.

What plans did they have for her? She loved Shannon and Regan but at times they overwhelmed her. Whitney followed them into the kitchen, getting plates from the cupboard while Shannon made coffee.

Regan opened up the containers of food. “We think it’s time you get out of the house and do something exciting. Mom would want you to go on with your life. And…” She grinned as she scooped out fried rice. “We thought of something to do for you.”

Whitney shook her head. “That’s not necessary—”

“Yes, it is.” Shannon put a spoonful of sugar in her coffee. “You quit your job and came back to take care of Mom.”

“I didn’t mind. Both of you have families, and I didn’t have any reason to stay in New York.” Please don’t mention Rob.

Shannon carried the cups of coffee to the table. “Regan and I have thought of the perfect thing for you to experience.”

Whitney broke open a fortune cookie and read from the slip of paper, “You will soon fall in love with a handsome stranger.”

Shannon thumped Whitney on the back before joining them at the table. “That fortune fits right in with our plans for you.”

“I think it fits in with any single woman’s hopeful plans,” Whitney said. “But certainly not mine.”

“It’s a sign,” Regan said in an eager voice. “You’ll see.”

“Not a cruise. Remember, I told you I don’t want to go on another cruise.” Several months earlier, they made her go on a three-day trip while both took turns staying with their mother. They had meant well but going by herself and being surrounded by couples hadn’t been much fun. Shannon and Regan were disappointed that Whitney hadn’t fallen in love on the ship. The only available guy she might have been interested in was the recreational director and he was too short.

“We knew you’d say that, and we’ve heard you say how you’ve done it all.” Regan put a lock of auburn hair behind her ear and cleared her throat. “But we thought of something you haven’t done and will be a thrill of a lifetime.”

“And when we tell you what it is, please don’t say no,” Shannon said. “We already paid for it.”

Whitney stared at them. “Okay, you have me curious now. What is it?”

Regan set forks down on the table and mumbled, “Skydiving.”

Whitney gasped, spilling coffee on her hand. Why in the world would they pay for her to go skydiving? Had they lost their minds? “You can’t be serious. Are you trying to kill me?”

“You won’t be jumping by yourself. We talked to the owner about signing you up for a tandem skydive for your first jump. You’ll meet fun people.” Shannon patted Whitney’s hand. “And the female-male ratio is good…”

Regan nodded. “There are more guys than women skydiving. And the men are hot and love any woman who drops from the sky.”

With raised eyebrows, Whitney asked, “How would you two know?”

“We checked it all out before we got it for you,” Shannon said.

Regan grinned. “Shannon, you’re skipping the best part of our visit. We drooled over all the instructors before we signed you up. I did mention I thought you’d be the most comfortable with Nate.”

“Why Nate?” Whitney asked.

Shannon laughed. “Regan couldn’t take her eyes off him. He’s drop-dead gorgeous.”

Whitney swallowed a forkful of rice. If her sisters were correct and there was an overabundance of men, she knew why. Men wanted to act macho, but how many brain cells did they have to think jumping out of a plane made them tough? That wasn’t fair. Just because she wasn’t into skydiving didn’t mean it was stupid. When had she become so critical? She knew when. After Rob’s death, the optimistic, open-minded part of her died with him.

“Maybe you two should go skydiving instead of me.”

Regan shook her head. “No way. We want you to go.”

“But I’m afraid of heights.”

“It’s time for you to overcome your fear of flying.” Shannon took a bite of shrimp. “We want to go to Hawaii sometime. Remember how we promised Mom we would? Just the three of us.”

Whitney shrugged. “That’s different. I can fly to Hawaii without doing skydiving first.”

“I don’t think so.” Regan scooped a heaping spoonful of chow mien onto her plate. “You drove me crazy when we flew to Wisconsin for Aunt Martha’s funeral. You had such terrible anxiety attacks.”

Why did she have to have such stubborn sisters? The last thing she felt like doing was something stupid like skydiving, but she knew they’d never give up on her. They always thought they knew best because they were older and married. Big deal they were a bit older. Shannon just turned thirty-nine, and at thirty-four Regan was only three years older than Whitney.

Shannon nudged Regan, grinning with her eyebrows arched high. “Tell her about Jack.”

Regan shook her head. “Not a good idea.”

“Who’s Jack? Another skydiver?” Whitney asked.

“He’s a paramedic and single. He’s worked with Casey, but Jack’s not a firefighter. He’s not interested in meeting you.” Regan gave Whitney an apologetic shrug. “Sorry. It’s a shame because Jack’s a dead ringer for Matthew McConaughey.”

Shannon raised her eyebrows. “What did Casey tell Jack about Whitney?”

“Not enough obviously,” Regan said. “But I’ll─”

“No.” Whitney put her hand on Regan’s arm. “Don’t say anything. I don’t want to go out with someone who feels pressured.” She grinned. “Although resembling McConaughey might change my mind.”



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