Sunday, December 15, 2013

When I Was Just a Kid: Diann Walker Hunt

Back on July 7, 2007, I interviewed and asked Diann to participate in a different kind of blog interview where I asked questions about an author's childhood. At that time I didn't ask for childhood photos like I do now. Diann passed away this year after a long battle with cancer. She was uplifting, encouraging and well-loved by the Christian writing world. It's been a better world with Diann Hunt in it. 

July 7, 2007 
When I Was Just a Kid...Diann Hunt

Be Sweet!

When I first met Diann, we were in a college class with a bunch of "kids" learning to write fiction. She was working on romance, and I was working on children's fiction, articles and book reviews. We both had kids the same age, or near the same age as our classmates. It was quite the experience! But we had a great time.

Diann has now successfully published her fiction and found her unique voice, publishing with companies such as Thomas Nelson, Barbour, Heartsong and Steeple Hill (Harlequin.)Her fiction is targeted to women of the Baby Boomer generation. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate. (Good thing Nestle's is building a factory near here,although I hear she is partial to DeBrand's in Ft.Wayne, Indiana.)

When I asked her if she would answer some questions about her childhood for this column, she gave me really short and sweet answers. But lately, on her blog (the one she writes with authors and close friends: Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter and Kristin Billerbeck) I found out she's been holding out the best stories about her childhood and maybe she had a chocolate overload, or maybe it's because she's been couped up at home lately, but she's been spilling stuff there. So, I dug up some posts that speak about her past.

What Diann wrote in response to my prompts:

Here's one from when she found out that she has a lung infection recently:
"Turns out the boy in my first grade class was right. I do have cooties."

And then, here's one where she admits her "past:"
From Tuesday, June 12, 2007
"Some of us have a past.

For some reason a childhood memory came to me this morning. Something I’m not necessarily proud of, but it’s there just as big as you please.

See, I have—um, HAD a huge crush on Kurt Russell. While in the third grade, my “friend” came over for a visit. We talked about whatever it is that third graders talk about and then it happened. She spotted the humongous poster of Kurt Russell’s face on my bedroom wall. She started teasing me about it, which I didn’t, well, appreciate. One thing led to another and suddenly things turned ugly. Did I mention she had a banana in her hand?

The next thing I know, we’re calling each other names and she takes a hunk of banana and smears it on Kurt’s face. All at once, time stands still. My thoughts turn dark. Very dark.

In the distance, a dog barks.

Springing into action, I wail into her so fast she doesn’t know what hit her. What follows is somewhat of a blur.

Rest assured that I paid dearly. I lost my poster and had to do time. Sometimes being young and in love isn’t pretty. "

And Diann has spent a lot of time in the principal's office!!!! (the shock of it all):

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

"School’s out for the summer! Okay, don’t hit me!

As you know my husband is an elementary school principal."

And she came clean about why she likes to write--you knew it--it all goes back to her childhood:

Friday, June 01, 2007
"You know, sometimes I wonder where my love for writing began. For me, I think it all started with Colorforms.

Childhood play is so much more than mere play. It’s a world of make believe. There may be fast cars, aliens or dragon-infested motes to cross, or it may be a world of fairies and princesses where knights-in-shining armor stand ready to free their damsel in distress. Who knew when I was having imaginary tea with my dolls that stories of women and friendships were beginning to take root?

One thing I love about writing? It allows me to be a kid again. To enjoy the wonder of story, a world created during my “play time.” When my husband comes home at the end of the day I say things like, 'I was in Siesta Key today. Maggie got her hair done in cornrows and then the girls buried all but her head beneath the sand.' My husband gives me that knowing grin, pulls me into a warm embrace and tingles cover me from head to toe. I think it’s because he’s holding me, but my fingers feel for the notebook and pen in my pocket, just in case a story is forming . . . . "

So, Diann tells a lot in her blog about her past. But here are a few more things that shaped her into the wonderful writer and person she is, complete with humor and chocolate!

Childhood Ambition: To be a wife, mother and to be a secretary (because they're so organized, and I'm totally not.)

Fondest Memory (then): Sunday drives in the country with my family

Proudest Moment (now or then): When our first grandchild was born

My First Job: Secretary in a real estate office

Childhood indulgence: Chocolate (big surprise, huh?) Okay, non-food? Let's see, it would have to be throwing empty cans at bats. Hey, they might come after my chocolate!

Favorite Outfit as a child: A red and white fluffy skirt and white blouse (had to buy it for a square dancing program)

Favorite Childhood Movie: In Search of the Castaways

Favorite Childhood Book: Lad, A Dog

Childhood hero: My grandma

Childhood dream trip (did you go in a RV?? RV we there yet??): The only trip we took as a family was to Montana when I was a teenager. But no RV. It was a Cadillac and hotels all the way! :-)

Check out some of Diann's books.  Her web site .

Hot Tropics & Cold Feet: Four women take a trip to Siesta Key for girl fun and come home to changed lives.

Be Sweet
A successful businesswoman heads back home to help the family during maple syrup season and discovers sticky things about her family--and herself--that she never thought possible.
Baby Boomer sisters Charlene and Jani heard it all their lives growing up: "If you haven't got anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." And, "Be sweet now, hear?"

It's maple syrup season in Tappery, Michigan, and Char has joined Jani in their hometown to help with the syrup harvest. Turns out after all these years, Char's still trying--unsuccessfully--to be sweet, and Jani's stuck to her own syrupy impulses. As Char's old flame tries to light up her nights and Jani's husband begins to grate on her hot-flashing nerves, the sisters rally, knowing if they can weather midlife together, victory will be sweet!

Left to Right: Kristin Billerbeck, Hannah Alexander, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter

What could be better than working at a Chocolate Spa? Okay, maybe being a guest of one would be pretty cool. 
Carly Westlake spends her days at a spa (okay, so she owns the place), she’s dating a hunk, and she’s surrounded by chocolate.
She’s living the dream…or is she?
The last few years have been tough, but now Carly Westlake’s life seems picture perfect. Business at her spa is up thanks to her famous chocolate facials. And Jake Mitchell—her dreamy, teenage crush—has moved back to Spring Creek, Vermont, with his daughter in tow. Carly’s nearly floored to learn that Jake has his sights set on winning Carly’s heart.
But when long buried secrets threaten her business – and her friendship with her best friend and business-partner, Tom – Carly has to fight like crazy to keep her plans afloat. Can it be that her dream of marrying Jake Mitchell isn’t the plan God has for her life? What if God’s plan requires something totally unexpected…a bittersweet surrender that Carly must make before she can discover true love? 

Using the great and small “bad hair days” of life, the authors deliver reminders that the first step toward triumph is joy in the Lord. Whether single or married, career girl or stay-at-home mom, today”s Christian woman is faced with daily obstacles. Delight Yourself in the Lord……Even on Bad Hair Days is a devotional filled with upbeat reminders about infusing hope and joy in the Lord as the first step toward conquering life”s problems and chasing down the desires of your heart. Through 100 funny and thought-provoking devotions, the authors remind women to go back to the basics with God. And they even share a few private “bad hair confessions” along the way!

The tide of World War II washed away her happily-ever-after dreams and left heartbreak in its wake, but Julia Hilton dares to consider another
chance at love. However, the jilted teacher’s past catches up with her when battle-scarred Lukas Gable re-enters her life in 1957. Together they attempt to navigate the shifting sands of their relationship as painful
truths come to light. Will Julia ultimately discover that, though the tide washed away their once-upon-a-time love letters in the sand, she and Lukas have a love that will be forever written upon their 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Deb Dulworth: Artist, Author, Dreamer

Deb Dulworth is the other half of the writing team (Dulworth/Hanna) who came up with Reflections of a Stranger, a cozy mystery, released in 2012. Currently, they're working on their second writing project, a romantic comedy called Pressed Flowers

Deb is one of the nicest people I know. I met her early after she and Linda started coming to Indiana Chapter's American Christian Fiction Writers events when they first collaborated on their story. It was a delight when I'd heard they had published their story. 

On Monday, her co-author, Linda Hanna, shared her kid story. Today Deb is sharing her story of when she was just a kid. She grew up much like most of the "creatives" do--reading, day-dreaming, writing and drawing.We recognize our own kindred spirits--and Deb is a kindred spirit to the rest of the "kids" listed here. Come read her story: 

Deb and Terry 
"Reading and drawing were my interests in my early years. Positive reactions from my family and friends kept me to sketching. I thought of being an artist.
Extremely shy and quiet, I always wondered if people thought I was stuck-up. But in truth, I was backward and withdrawn.

Sorry to say I was not an impressive straight-A student. While peering out the window in school, I made up stories and doodled. One incident: My teacher called my name, “You see something interesting out there?” Of course, I slunk down in my seat and made more of an effort to pay attention.

There was a time when my Pinocchio and Donald Duck puppets were allowed to go to school with me. The off-the-wall antics of the original odd couple drew much attention from my classmates. The kids took turns acting out stories with me. This brought a few minutes of popularity during one recess.

Our family vacations were in the Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains one summer, and the next year we’d go to Mackinac Island and other sites in Michigan. In earlier days, my aunt and uncle and their kids went with us. As years went by I took friends when cousins weren’t available.

Also during the summer months, when I was small, while most kids were occupied with sports, I had books to read and drawing to keep me busy. Mom took me to the library and I’d bring back an armload of children’s books. The illustrations attracted my attention, and the stories had me engrossed in the characters’ adventures. I read so many Uncle Remus tales, the speaking pattern was ingrained in my skull. “Dat der tar baby, he don say nutin’.” 

Hence, my first culture shift experience when I had to go back to school.
My aunts, uncles and cousins were baseball/football fans. But I had to be the black sheep of the Huston clan – hated sports altogether. The endowment of knobby knees and off-kilter balance hindered any chances of being athletic. The oddest looks came from family if my interest in reading or art happened to leak out. One might’ve thought I was an implant from some ionized Huckleberry- Di Vinci planet.

The thought of writing didn’t hit home until Literature class. Our teacher had us write out what we did during the summer. I had this story to share:

A friend, her two sisters and I found some matches in a church yard that happened to be across the alley from friends’ house. Well, one of us, (who will remain nameless), assured the other girls that a campfire would be a great idea. We built a ring of good-sized rocks, laid sticks in it and lit them.
All went well, until one of us decided to put the fire out…with… a bale of dried grass. Need I say more? 

The little fire went ballistic in a second and licked the branches of the tree standing in front of the church. The fear of the Lord hit me. I imagined God Almighty flailing huge chards of lightning at me.

We were so far from the girls’ house, their garden hose wouldn’t reach. So we found a sand bucket, and got water from their outdoor spigot. The four of us lined up across the lawn and had the most pitiable bucket brigade going. Water sloshed out of the bucket as we switched off and ran to the next person. By the time the last girl got to the fire, there may have been a tablespoon of water left.

No, we didn’t put the fire out. A neighbor girl squirted a stream of water from their garden hose across the street. She was the same age as my friend and I. We went to school with her. What humiliation. And, to my amazement, God did not strike me dead on the spot.

The name of my booklet was entitled: If Mother Only Knew. It was tacked on the bulletin board for all to admire. And it was the first time teachers gave me actual pats on the back. By the way, I also illustrated it. I’d made it to the “Big Time.” 

However, the story was out and soon our mothers would know about it. So I hid it under my mattress for a long time. No worries, I always had to make my own bed.

I’ve not see that book for a long time. It must have disintegrated in the washer or something.

The Lord reached out to me in many ways through the years, but I wasn’t sure what to do with those moments. He made a big difference in my life in my senior year of high school when my folks divorced. Some of my friends, who I know now the Lord led them to me, allowed God to use them. I’m so thankful to those who took the time and cared.

Spring 1970, I remember lying in bed and arguing with God that I was a good person. Events of my past slipped before my eyes like an old-time movie clip. No Keystone Cops, though. Sinful thoughts, words and actions had me fastened to the mattress. My pillow wet with perspiration. I was guilty. My soul was filthy.

I made amends by asking forgiveness, but I had a favor. I asked Him to not let my life be boring. (I’ve often wondered if that was a bad thing. Ha!) The next morning, my best friend heard of my change. She took me through town, to those who’d prayed for me for years. She wanted me to tell EVERYONE what had happened. That friend, and her folks, are now with the Lord. I thank Him for making them and others a part of my life.

God has led me through many changes though different experiences. He has given me a terrific, sweet husband who backs me up. We have a daughter who sings for the Lord in a women’s trio and works at Grace College in northern Indiana. Our son was adopted from the Philippines in 1990. God has definitely used Rolly to keep my life from boredom.

My friend, Linda and I met in 1989 and have served the Lord through different arenas. We were co-directors of mature adult groups for three churches in fifteen years. We’ve gone through thick and thin together during various life changing events.

At first, writing a book was on a lark, but God has used it. This cozy mystery is a symbol to us of His grace and direction." ~ Deb Dulworth, 2013. 

Reflections of a Stranger is a story about a woman who just so happens, has many of Linda's and my own actions and reactions laid right out there for the readers to grasp. Fortunately, we’ve not gone through the same situations Cora was in. She lost her only daughter, removed herself from others, and became cynical of God’s ways. The poor gal had no clue her decisions would take her life on a strange, three-wheeled trolley ride. Through it all, God shows her the way to peace with a wonderful future.

Reflections of a Stranger 
by Linda Hanna and Deborah Dulworth

  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: Harbourlight Books (August 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1611161908
  • ISBN-13: 978-1611161908
  • Kindle File Size: 457 KB
  • Print Length: 284 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Pelican Ventures Book Group (Harbourlight Books)) (August 23, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0091XFU5W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled 
  • X-Ray: Not Enabled 
  • Lending: Enabled
Cora and her husband, PGA golf pro Steady Eddie Timms, live in a safe gated community. So when Cora witnesses a murder, she’s shocked and frightened. But without a body, murder weapon, or evidence of a crime, Her sanity is called into question—especially when it comes to light that she’s not been dealing well with the stress and grief of losing a daughter, and her memory of late hasn’t been all it should be.

Determined to prove her sanity, Cora bursts into a flurry of danger and unanswered questions as she sets out to find evidence of foul play. With the help of a bumbling security guard, a loyal best friend, and a neighbor’s yappy dog, pieces finally fall into place. By all appearances, the mystery is solved…until Cora is kidnapped and implicated in a case of hidden identity and an old embezzlement scheme.

----    ----    ----
Linda and I are now speaking at different dinners, parties, and women’s groups. We’d love to appear at your event to share our experiences in growing up, writing, and of course, our book, if you are in the Indiana area. 


Winner! Comment from 
Cathy Baldwin: 
I really enjoyed this, Linda. And I always remember you as that cute little girl.
She has been informed and Linda and Deb will see that she receives their book, Reflections of a Stranger!