Interview with MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA

When did you first start writing?
I wrote poetry as a teenager and won a national poetry contest when I was 15.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read inspirational fiction, and I read non-fiction. Most of the non-fiction I read deals with relationships since I believe that relationships are the most important aspect of life.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest novel, THE MADONNA OF PISANO, was inspired by an incident that occurred in my distant ancestry. I love genealogy and have been researching my family history for a number of years. During a time of research, I discovered an incident in my family history that I knew needed to be told. While my novel is mostly fiction, the seed of the story came from a past generation in my family tree.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I am what is called a “hybrid” author. This means I have published both traditionally and independently. Of the two venues, I prefer indie publishing because of the freedom it gives me to publish more and to publish more quickly. Also, the nature of my fiction makes it a hard sell for both the CBA and ABA because it contains elements that are controversial to both. So publishing it myself has made my stories available to the general public. Regardless of how I publish, I strive to create the most excellent book of which I am capable. Story is first--and excellence in story-telling is paramount!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Frankly, I am still learning a lot about Smashwords, but I can say that the more I learn, the more excited I am becoming about its potential to reach the readers I want to reach. Thank you, Smashwords, for your continual efforts to improve, to grow, and to remain a first-class organization!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
For me, the greatest joy of writing is co-creating with God and co-operating with Holy Spirit in writing the stories of His heart.
What do your fans mean to you?
I look on my fans as precious friends who support me in my calling in various ways. Some pray for me. Some encourage me. Some make me laugh. Some even read my books. :) Most of all, my fans are people of great worth whom I love, admire, and respect.
What are you working on next?
Currently I am working on the second book of my trilogy, THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES. This second novel is titled A SICILIAN FAREWELL.
Who are your favorite authors?
I enjoy Francine Rivers, Frank Peretti, Charles Marin, and Deborah Rainey, among others. I also love to read foreign authors, like Italian novelist Eugenio Corti, author of Il Cavallo Rosso (The Red Horse). I am blessed to be able to read Italian, French, and Spanish.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Jesus Christ inspires me to get out of bed each day. I live for Him, write for Him, and do everything for Him. As the Scripture says, “In Him I live and move and have my being” (Acts 17: 28). He is the Beginning, the End, and Everything-in-Between! Glory to His Holy Name! :)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love to paint in acrylics, oils, and pastels. My latest medium is the colored pencil. It is easy to take with me and requires no clean-up. :) I also love to spend time with my grandchildren, making up stories and silly songs.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I subscribe to several online fiction magazines, blogs, and writers’ loops that keep me up-to-date on recent releases.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was called “Hurricane” and was a short story assignment for a writing course I took.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
At the top of my list is the Bible. I love this book most because it is God’s Manual for Man. Just as we get a manual when we buy a car or a computer, we also get a manual when we enter this world. That manual is the Bible. For nearly half a century, the Bible has been my first go-to book whenever I’ve faced a challenge. Whether I’ve need advice to improve a relationship or insights on how to raise my children, I’ve always found the answer in the Bible. The Bible was written by God Himself Who used men to transcribe what He wanted to say. So, the Bible is a supernatural book that gives us miracle-producing answers for everyday life. I encourage you to read it!

After the Bible, here are my four favorite books:

--Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This book, written in the 17th century, is a timeless tool for growing closer to Jesus Christ. And that is my chief objective in life.

--Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon. This amazing book was written around 1685. I had the privilege of reading it in the original French language in which it was written. I keep going back to this book because it has helped me tremendously in getting to know Jesus Christ, the chief goal of my life.

--Quantum Glory by Phil Mason. Again, this is a book that has transformed my relationship with Jesus Christ, the focal point of my life.

--The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This book gave me insight into the workings of Satan and his demons. Today most people in the West do not believe in demons, but they are very real and very active. Knowing the enemy will help us to understand what is going on around us. Knowing Jesus Christ will help us to deal effectively with the enemy.
What are your five favorite books and why?
At the top of my list is the Bible. I love this book most because it is God’s Manual for Man. Just as we get a manual when we buy a car or a computer, we also get a manual when we enter this world. That manual is the Bible. For nearly half a century, the Bible has been my first go-to book whenever I’ve faced a challenge. Whether I’ve need advice to improve a relationship or insights on how to raise my children, I’ve always found the answer in the Bible. The Bible was written by God Himself Who used men to transcribe what He wanted to say. So, the Bible is a supernatural book that gives us miracle-producing answers for everyday life. I encourage you to read it!

After the Bible, here are my four favorite books:

--Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. This book, written in the 17th century, is a timeless tool for growing closer to Jesus Christ. And that is my chief objective in life.

--Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ by Jeanne Guyon. This amazing book was written around 1685. I had the privilege of reading it in the original French language in which it was written. I keep going back to this book because it has helped me tremendously in getting to know Jesus Christ, the chief goal of my life.

--Quantum Glory by Phil Mason. Again, this is a book that has transformed my relationship with Jesus Christ, the focal point of my life.

--The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. This book gave me insight into the workings of Satan and his demons. Today most people in the West do not believe in demons, but they are very real and very active. Knowing the enemy will help us to understand what is going on around us. Knowing Jesus Christ will help us to deal effectively with the enemy.
What is your writing process?
First I pray and seek God regarding what He wants me to write. Then I pray some more as I write. I am continually talking to the Lord about my writing. When I’m stuck in a story, I pray and He gives me the next step. When I finish a story, I praise Him for seeing me through to the end. My whole writing life--indeed, my whole life--centers around Jesus!

When I begin a story, I always start with a character. Then I give the character a problem if she has not already presented with one. From there, I proceed with creating the plot. Also, I usually have a theme in mind, but the theme does not always emerge at the beginning. Often it emerges as I write.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
While I don't remember the first story I ever read, I do remember that my Dad used to read poetry to me from an old, second-hand copy of THE OXFORD BOOK OF ENGLISH VERSE that he purchased at a book sale. As my Dad read, I was captivated by the sound of words and their power to delight me. I am convinced that the seed for my writing career was planted in my heart through that experience of listening to my Dad read poetry. You can read the entire story of that experience here: http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2017/09/14/a-legacy-of-words/.
How do you approach cover design?
For my novels, I hire professional cover designers. For my non-fiction works, I've designed covers myself using Canva and PicMonkey. I believe that a cover should be integral to the contents of the book and should inspire and encourage the reader to open the book. Despite opinions to the contrary, people still judge a book by its cover.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My iPad. I love the crisp, clear screen and its ease of use.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Word-of-mouth has been, by far, my most effecting marketing strategy. My Author Newsletter ranks a close second.
Describe your desk
My desk is usually wherever I sit with my laptop. I do, however, have a real desk. It is located in my home office and holds small pictures of my husband and children and some special sayings that are meaningful to me. I like to keep my desk uncluttered in order to keep my mind uncluttered.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I spent the early years of my life in Pennsylvania, not far from Philadelphia. When I was nine years old, my family moved to New Jersey where I have lived ever since. My years in Pennsylvania were happy years. I had many childhood friends and shared happy memories with them. Some of those members have made their way to my stories for children.
Did you always want to be a writer?
No. Actually I wanted to be a college professor of foreign languages. So, I trained for that profession, all the way up to the PhD. At age 25, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and was born again. Shortly thereafter, I began to have a growing desire to write.

As.I prayed about this, I wondered if God were calling me to write. I asked Him to show me His will. I said, "Lord, if this desire is of You, please increase it. If not, please remove the desire because it is overwhelming."

Well, God increased my desire to write and confirmed His call upon me in unmistakable ways. From this experience, I learned that God's plans for our life are often quite different from our own, and that His plans are far more fulfilling for us than our own plans.
Where do you get your ideas?
Holy Spirit gives me ideas all the time. I keep an open heart for what He has to say to me.
Do you have a typical writing day?
I make it my purpose to write five days a week from 9:00am until 3:00pm. I treat my writing with the same respect I would treat a regular job.
Do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
When I first started writing, I wrote only non-fiction. About ten years ago, the Lord called me to write fiction. I much prefer writing fiction because, whereas non-fiction touches the mind, fiction touches the heart.
When did you decide to write for children as well?
I have always loved children, and people often tell me I have a childlike spirit. My two daughters would often encourage me to write for children. So I did! One of the reasons I enjoy writing for children is that I remember what it was like to be a child. God has given me an ability to relate to children in a way that resonates with them.
Why did you choose the tagline you use for your writing?
The tagline for my books is "Heart-Mending Books for the Young and the Young-at-Heart." I chose this tagline because it best reflects what I hope my books will do for my readers; i.e., mend their hearts.
What do you hope to accomplish through your writing?
I hope to point readers to Jesus Christ and to a deeper relationship with Him.
What is your latest novel?
My latest novel is titled RETURN TO BELLA TERRA. It is the third novel in my trilogy titled THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES. Book 1 is titled THE MADONNA OF PISANO, and Book 2 is titled A SICILIAN FAREWELL.

I have also written two novellas: A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING and SURRENDER TO LOVE.

You can find all of my fiction on Amazon and at www.maryanndiorio.com/bookstore.
Published 2017-10-22.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Return to Bella Terra - Book 3 of The Italian Chronicles Trilogy
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 61,830. Language: English. Published: October 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Christian » Historical, Fiction » Christian » General
A mother, her son, and the man who threatens to come between them . . .
A Sicilian Farewell - Book 2 of The Italian Chronicles Trilogy
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 64,810. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
A young man, a new land, and a dream that threatens to destroy him, his marriage, and his mission . . .
The Madonna of Pisano - Book 1 of The Italian Chronicles Trilogy
Price: $7.99 USD. Words: 75,700. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Historical » General
A young woman, a priest, and a secret that keeps them bitterly bound to each other . . .
God Speaks to Me: Meditations from God's Heart to Yours
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 14,220. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christian Life / Spiritual Growth, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christian Life / Prayer
Are you aware that God speaks to you? In fact, He is continually speaking to you--and to all of us. The problem is that we are usually not paying attention. In this inspiring book, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio has recorded some of the words God spoke to her over a 10-year period of personal journaling. These words are for you, too!
The Daystar Devotional
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 49,460. Language: English. Published: August 13, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Devotional, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christian Life / Devotional
An inspiring devotional book to encourage you and inspire you in your daily walk with Jesus...
Surrender to Love
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 29,040. Language: English. Published: January 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Inspirational, Fiction » Inspirational
Can a past love keep Dr. Teresa Lopez Gonzalez from moving forward with her life?
Beyond the Grave
Price: Free! Words: 3,280. Language: English. Published: January 25, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christian Ministry / Evangelism, Nonfiction » Religion and Spirituality » Christianity
Is there life after death? Read this riveting booklet by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio to find out. It’s free to all who request it.
From the Treadmill to the Balance Beam: Biblical Principles for Achieving Balance in Life
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 9,550. Language: English. Published: January 23, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Religion and self-improvement
If you are feeling frazzled, frenetic, and fatigued, this is the book to move you from chaos to balance in your life.
Magnolia Memories
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 3,250. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Women's fiction » General, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
When Jennie Belle Crawford’s husband dies, she vows never to betray his memory through remarriage, but when Tim LeGrand steps into her life, Jennie Belle wonders if God has other plans.
The ABCs of TopNotch Writing
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 4,650. Language: English. Published: May 4, 2012. Categories: Nonfiction » Education and Study Guides » Professional development, Nonfiction » Publishing » Self-publishing
Are you frustrated with where you are in your writing career? Have you been trying to get published, but to no avail? Do you wonder if there are secrets to writing success? If these questions describe you, you need The ABCs of TopNotch Writing. Learn how to turn your writing career around with the three key elements of writing success: Attitude, Business, and Craft. Get your copy now!
You Were Made For Greatness!
Price: $9.99 USD. Words: 46,160. Language: English. Published: September 30, 2011. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Confidence and self-esteem
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Here at last! A dynamic book that will help you overcome negative feelings about yourself and put you on the road to success in every area of your life. Using sound Biblical principles, nationally known author and life coach, Dr. MaryAnn Diorio, deals with such life-changing topics as overcoming worry and fear, taking charge of your life, learning to accept yourself, and finding your life purpose.