Multi-published author MaryAnn Diorio recently stopped by my blog to share some about her writing life.
When do you find time to write?
Great question! I learned early on in my writing career that I would not find time to write. I had to make time to write. With so many responsibilities and distractions assailing us, we have to carve out time to do what we are called to do and what we want to do.
The first step I took was to establish my priorities by asking myself these questions:
How important is writing to me?
Where does it fall on my priority scale?
What block of time would I give it in my daily schedule?
Since God called me to write for Him, writing is in my top five priorities. So, I make it a point to schedule writing time at least five, often six days, a week. I rest on Sundays. I believe that rest is just as important as work—perhaps more so.
In order to make writing a priority, I had to get rid of some other activities. Years ago, when I was struggling with finding time to do everything I thought I needed to do, I complained to the Lord. Well, instead of the sympathy I expected from Him, He gave me a loving reprimand, LOL! He said, “MaryAnn, you always have enough time to do what I have called you to do.”
His response got me thinking. Since what God says is always true, I was either disorganized or spending time doing some things He had not called me to do. In my case, it was the latter. I was involved in two church ministries to which God had not called me.
So, I resigned those ministries and spent that time writing.
I consider writing as my day job. I report for work at 9 am and work until 3 pm, with a break for lunch. I get dressed and put on makeup as though I am going to a job outside my home. This puts me in a professional mindset. I also have a home writing studio where my sole focus is writing.
How do you pick the location/setting of your romantic suspense novels?
I usually choose locations with which I am familiar. For example, Miracle in Milan takes place in Milan, Italy. A small part takes place in New York City and Texas. I have been to all three places, so I have a good idea of the atmosphere of all three.
I also sometimes choose a location to which I have not been but which I would like to visit and learn more about. When I choose this option, I do extensive research about the location before I start writing.
What is one of your favorite ways to connect with readers? I love my readers! And I love to connect with them. I am what I would call an introvert/extrovert. In other words, I love to be around people, but then I need to retreat and recharge my batteries by being alone with the Lord and with myself for a while.
But, when I’m with my readers, my attention is fully theirs. I connect with them primarily through social media, particularly Facebook. I have a private FB group called The Diorio Champions for my Reader Team and another private FB group called The Diorio Dynamos devoted specifically to my Street Team.
I also love to connect with readers through my newsletter which is a combination of personal news and writing news. My readers are like family to me. We laugh together, cry together, and pray together. I highly respect them and often ask for their advice and opinions on matters related to my writing. I have grown to love them deeply and feel their love in return. To me, they are truly the best team an author could ever want.
MaryAnn writes fiction from a small town in New Jersey where neighbors still make time to chat, kids still lick lollipops, and old married couples still hold hands. A Jersey girl at heart, MaryAnn loves Jersey diners, Jersey tomatoes, and the Jersey shore.
Miracle in Milan When a young, female auditor discovers convincing evidence that the man she loves is an embezzler, she must choose between ruining him or ruining herself.
Amy Torelli, chief auditor for New York City-based Enson Pharmaceuticals, is assigned to audit the books of Enson’s Italian branch in the enchanting city of Milan, Italy. Having made an inner vow never to trust a man again because of her father’s betrayal, Amy finds herself falling in love with Enson Italia’s American-born Vice President, Ted McMasters. Will Ted be the one to cause her to break her inner vow?
Ted is on the run. A run from rejection. From himself. From God. Having been wounded by a father who made him feel worthless, and having been dumped by the woman he wanted to marry, Ted is determined to keep all women at bay. But will Amy be the reason he changes his mind?
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” my guest is Debbi Migit, who lives in central Illinois, surrounded by pumpkin patches and corn fields. Her Justice, Montana, series begins with September Shadows. Debbi’s first book, Child of Promise, tells the true story of the adoption of her three children. She has won multiple awards and contests, writing stories that are filled with faith and hope. Debbi’s hobbies include reading, writing, and avoiding arithmetic. Her favorite color is turquoise, and she collects Trixie Belden books and typewriters. If playing Candy Crush was a paying gig, she would be rich.
“I’ve been a writer since I was seven years old, “Debbi said. “I wrote my first story when I was in first grade even though I couldn’t read or write. … I told my mom a story and she wrote it down for me and I took it to my teacher and she read it. That was my very first entry and I continued to write all through grade school … and won my first writing contest in seventh grade.”
Where Faith Belongs by Heidi Chiavaroli — Amie Martin has never been more ready to trade in her quaint seaside Maine hometown for a life of studying art in New York. But when old flame August Colton returns to Camden and proclaims his undying love, Amie is torn between her future plans and forgiving August’s secret past. Fresh out of college, August is intent on helping the family business as an architect. He’s finally earned the respect of his brother and grandfather and he’s finally glimpsing a way out from beneath his past. But when August’s grandfather suffers a health crisis and the woman he loves shows interest in a wandering artist staying at the bed and breakfast, August wonders if he won’t be paying for his past mistakes for the rest of his life. Can Amie and August find faith in each other again? More importantly, can they find a faith that heals the broken parts of their past? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)
Truth and Honor (Light in the Empire) by Carol Ashby — Is truth worth the price if it costs you everything? For Tribune Glabrio, descended from three consuls of Rome and determined to be the fourth, commanding the troops policing Carthago appears ideal for hastening his political rise. Arriving from Rome with the secretly Christian Sartorus as his aide, Glabrio discovers the man he was to replace has vanished without a trace. Was the missing tribune too close to finding the counterfeiters Glabrio is now hunting? But no matter the cost, duty and honor require him to enforce Roman law. Orphaned as a child and taken to live with her pagan grandfather, Martina met Jesus through her step-grandmother. Their faith was a well-kept secret, even from most of their family. With both grandparents now dead, her uncle helps Martina hide the faith he doesn’t share. But after a single dinner at her uncle’s, the new tribune is determined to get to know her. No matter what she does to discourage Glabrio, he won’t leave her alone. But if he discovers her faith, will it mean her death? (General Historical from Cerrillo Press)
A Winter at the White Queen by Denise Weimer — Ellie Hastings is tired of playing social gatekeeper-and poor-relation companion-to her Gibson Girl of a cousin. But her aunt insists Ellie lift her nose out of her detective novel long enough to help gauge the eligibility of bachelors during the winter social season at Florida’s Hotel Belleview. She finds plenty that’s mysterious about the suave, aloof Philadelphia inventor, Lewis Thornton. Why does he keep sneaking around the hotel? Does he have a secret sweetheart? And what is his connection to the evasive Mr. Gaspachi, slated to perform at Washington’s Birthday Ball? Ellie’s comical sleuthing ought to put Lewis out, but the diffident way her family treats her smashes a hole in his normal reserve. When Florence Hastings’s diamond necklace goes missing, Ellie’s keen mind threatens to uncover not only Lewis’s secrets, but give him back hope for love. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books) Redemption’s Trail by Betty Woods — Newly widowed with her second child due in a few months, Lily Johnson has nowhere to go until Toby Grimes, her late husband’s boss, asks her to stay on as housekeeper at his ranch. Remaining in the house Mr. Grimes built for her and her husband is an answered prayer. But malicious gossips see her godsend job as a ruse for a sinful dalliance since her employer is a nice-looking single man. God and a lot others turned their backs on Toby during the war, so he returns the favor by keeping to himself. Yet the need to care for and protect Lily overwhelms him. The way she tugs at his heart scares him more than going into a losing battle. Unwilling to allow anyone to destroy a fine woman’s reputation, he proposes a marriage of convenience. After much prayer, Lily accepts. Her first marriage was a love match made in heaven. The second leads down a trail only God knows the end to. (Historical Romance from Scrivenings Press)
The Heir’s Predicament by Lorri Dudley — Maggie Prescott may not know her real name, the circumstances of her birth, or her father’s identity, but based on a song her shipwrecked birthmother taught her before she died, Maggie’s certain the answers lie on the island of Antigua. Unbeknownst to her beloved adopted family, she sends her maid to finishing school in her stead and convinces her uncle, Captain Anthony Middleton, to sail her to the Leeward Islands. Time is of the essence to discover her heritage before the next family gathering exposes her duplicity. Lord Samuel Fredrick Harcourt Granville was groomed to inherit the Cardon title and lands, but the possession of his father’s temper has put Samuel’s future in jeopardy. After discovering his fiancée cavorting with his so-called friend, the ensuing altercation lands Samuel in court before of the House of Lords. As an example, for all aristocratic sons to quell their hedonistic living, the House of Lords banishes Samuel to the island of Antigua until he can prove he’s worthy of his privileged birth. On the island, Samuel works to rein in his temper and revive a dying sugar plantation. Still, his return to England and all his efforts are threatened when a mysterious woman breaks into his island home, claiming to be the true heiress of the sugar plantation. Guilt, resentment, and fresh yearnings sizzle under the island sun as Maggie’s search uncovers a much greater treasure than either of them expected. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books) The Highlander’s Loving Heart by Z. Peabody — Cillian Pherson is the Duke of Blackridge and chieftain to the legendary Pherson Clan, one of Scotland’s oldest and fiercest. A strong leader with an honest warrior’s loving heart, Cillian prefers settling clan wars and making sure Scotland maintains independence to sitting in the Grand Hall, listening to his father regale old stories. Cillian also has no thoughts of settling down to beget heirs, as his father constantly reminds him he must, until the night he gets a glimpse of his future. Upon returning home after months away serving his king, Cillian brings back good news about the war, along with unpleasant news about his future. After an argument with his father, Cillian storms out of the castle and takes to the mountainous paths of his Scottish lands, only to witness a ship crashing against the rocks below the cliffs. But even with Aoife’s best intentions to help her good friend, Aoife finds the call of adventure too hard to resist. She soon finds out that adventure is closer than she thinks, and right where she never would have thought she wanted to be. Now, Cillian must find a treasure that is missing from the wreckage—one the crew claims is the most-valued jewel aboard, and one he only caught a glimpse of. (Historical Romance from Z. Peabody Publishing LLC)
The Amish Bachelor’s Bride by Pamela Desmond Wright — Marrying in name only…Could lead to more than they expected. Single mother Lavinia Simmons’s world is turned upside down when she discovers her late husband gambled away their home. A quick marriage of convenience to bachelor Noem Witzel in return for caring for his niece and nephew is the solution both Lavinia and Noem need. Neither of them is looking for romance. But what if these perfect strangers have other ideas? (Amish Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Speculative Fiction: Penny’s Journal: Fortune Lost by Gina Detwiler — Grace and Jared have inexplicably disappeared. For the next decade, their friend Penny keeps a prayer journal, detailing her personal struggles in a society slowly unraveling from pandemics, natural disasters, famine, crime, and war. When all seems lost, a new leader arrives on the scene who claims he will save the world—but who is he really? (Speculative Fiction from VINSPIRE)
Thriller/Suspense: Ambush in Alaska by Darlene L. Turner — Saving a boy who has escaped his captors puts Canadian border patrol officer Hannah Morgan right into the path of a ruthless child-smuggling ring. Now with help from police constable Layke Jackson, she must keep the child safe. But can they rescue the other abducted children and bring down the gang…all while protecting a little boy and keeping themselves alive? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Edge of the Storm: Two Novellas by Tanya Stowe & Heather Woodhaven — Wilderness Sabotage by Heather Woodhaven: Investigating sabotage on a construction site, journalist Jackie Dutton stumbles on a murder—and barely escapes when she flees and falls off a cliff. Only quick thinking from law enforcement ranger Shawn Burkett, her ex-boyfriend, saves her. Now facing a massive blizzard and relentless pursuers together, they must rely on their fragile trust and wilderness skills to get out alive…
Vanished in the Mountains by Tanya Stowe: When domestic violence counselor Dulcie Parker uncovers evidence of a human trafficking ring in the Four Corners area, she’s determined to stop it or die trying. With corruption all around her and killers on her trail, Deputy Sheriff Austin Turner’s the one person she can trust. But can they work together to expose the crime ring before she becomes the next victim? (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
What Happens Next by Christina Suzann Nelson — Popular podcaster and ex-reporter Faith Byrne has made a name for herself telling stories of greatness after tragedy–but her real life does not mirror the stories she tells. While her daughters spend the summer in Hawaii with her ex-husband and his new wife, she must manage life on her own. But all that changes when she’s asked to spotlight her childhood best friend’s missing person case on her podcast. Dora Crane has never accepted that her younger daughter could be dead, keeping her home looking the same as when her daughter disappeared. But when her husband leaves her, and her older daughter intervenes, she agrees to counseling and to pack up her missing daughter’s belongings under one condition: Faith Byrne comes to Deep Valley and sheds light on the cold case. As the investigation moves forward, the two women uncover desperate secrets, and Faith and Dora must face the long-hidden truth before they can begin to move forward. (Thriller/Suspense/Contemporary from Bethany House (Baker) Publishing)
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Doxxi No More by Roger E. Bruner, What part will a book-length homework assignment play in solving Richard’s problems? (Contemporary Romance)
In Love’s Time by Kate Breslin, When Marcus’s secret mission damages his relationship with Clare, he hopes to reconcile with her later, but his hope is dashed with an accident and both must learn to trust in order to find their way back together. (Historical Romance)
On this episode of “The Romantic Side of Suspense,” I’m talking with Michelle Aleckson, who, after growing up on both the East and West coasts, now loves living the country life in central Minnesota with her own hero and four children. She rocks out to 80s music on a Saturday night, enjoys playing board games, and is a hopeless romantic. And if you’re wondering, yes, Sass is her maiden name. She writes contemporary romance with plenty of suspense and a dash of sass.
“I love different genres in romance,” Michelle said. “Now I write both straight romance and romantic suspense. … But I do have suspense elements in my contemporary romance. … I feel like it enhances the romantic side of the story. … I really love playing in both worlds, so it’s been a good fit for me.”
A Christmas Bargain by Mindy Obenhaus — When single mom Annalise Grant inherits a fledgling Christmas tree farm in Texas, she vows to do whatever it takes to make it a success. But when neighbor Hawkins Prescott claims some of her trees are on his property, the only option is a partnership. As Christmas draws closer, Annalise and Hawkins find themselves growing closer as well. Could a family by Christmas become part of the deal? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Roadtrip for Two by Amy R. Anguish — Dallas wasn’t in the plans when Bree Henley set out to use the nonrefundable honeymoon tickets from her canceled wedding. Nor was running into ex-fiancé Nathan Hart. But their mutual friends and the weather have other ideas. A hurricane cancels their cruise and Bree decides to turn the disaster into a roadtrip for one, never imagining Nathan would object. Nathan is furious when he uncovers the plot to get him back with Bree. But he can’t just let her go roaming around the big city of Dallas alone. Though he knows calling off their wedding was the right thing to do, he still cares for Bree. And before he knows what hits him, he’s volunteered to tag along. Suddenly, it’s a trip for two. Spending the week together might remind them of why they fell in love. But is it enough to overcome the obstacles standing in the way of ‘til death do us part”? (Contemporary Romance from Scrivenings Press)
The Amish Mother’s Secret by Diane Craver — Sometimes a miracle comes to you at exactly the wrong time… Lindsay is 40 and single when tragedy strikes. Diagnosed with stage 4, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, her instinct is to right the wrongs in her life. Driven to break free of her alcoholic mother at 17, she fell for Harris. Harris’ life was already planned out for him. Falling for Lindsay had been a dream. However, compelled to wed the woman his parents chose for him, he’d left her to endure a shaky marriage. Pregnant with identical triplets, Lindsay adopted two daughters to an Amish couple, the Yoders. In the years that followed, Mrs. Yoder worked hard to keep her away. When you let go of a miracle, can you ever capture it again? Revealing the truth may prove more devastating than the hurdles that came before…and all that will surely come after for a woman fighting for her life.. (General Contemporary from Vinspire Publishing)
The Wanderer Reborn by Natasha Woodcraft — Can hope triumph in the aftermath of murder? Reeling from the shock of Havel’s murder, Awan doesn’t know how she will ever recover. Kayin’s action torments her. As the years pass, and her younger siblings move on with their lives, she is left behind feeling bitter and lonely. Will she ever learn to forgive and find healing? Then Awan makes a terrible error which threatens to break up what remains of her fractured family. That same day, her God calls her to undertake a radical journey. A journey that will test her faith and force her to face all her darkest fears. (General Historical, Independently Published)
All She Ever Dreamed by Robin Lee Hatcher — A dream sometimes comes at great cost. Betrothed in a sensible match, even if the man isn’t the love she’s always imagined, Sarah McNeal relies on the advice her late grandmother gave as well as her own common sense. Dreams of a mysterious European count who rides in and sweeps her off her feet are the stuff of girlhood. And she’s a woman now. But when her fiancé’s older brother, Jeremiah, returns to Boulder Creek, he unknowingly awakens that discarded dream. Nine years ago, Jeremiah West lost his wife and newborn son in an epidemic, and he’s been wandering ever since. A survivor of the Spanish-American War, he finally returns to Boulder Creek to settle on the farm he inherited from his father, an inheritance his younger brother still begrudges. When a blizzard threatens Sarah’s life—and her reputation—Jeremiah is there to rescue her. But the pain of his past remains a stumbling block. Then fate brings Jeremiah and Sarah to a crossroads, and love demands a decision that will change the course of their lives. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Defending Truth by Shannon McNear — Ava Sanford longs to be known as more than the pastor’s kid. When the opportunity arises to study abroad in Scotland, she jumps at the chance to leave the Texas coast and the pressures of Grace Church behind. But she never meant to leave God too. Her roommate’s partying lifestyle promises the fun Ava has been missing out on—until a traumatic assault leaves her faith and pride in ruins. As her life in Scotland begins to crumble, rumors race back home, threatening her relationships with her family and friends, including Jack Shields. A former athlete, Jack keeps his head down, working through college and coasting through life. After losing both his mother and his scholarships, he knows the things you love can disappear at any moment. But when his best friend seems to be next, the nonchalance and security he carefully guards are broken. Fighting for Ava will mean risking it all, and he can’t do it alone. Only God can show them both how far grace can go. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
Love’s New Beginnings by Penny Zeller — Lydie Beauchamp recently moved with her aunts—sisters Myrtle and Fern—to the untamed Wyoming Territory. When a teaching position in nearby Willow Falls captures her attention, can she leave her aunts, one of whom just suffered a broken heart, and embark on this new adventure? Will she find the courage to persevere in the midst of challenges, one being a handsome challenge named Solomon Eliason? Reverend Solomon Eliason has the goal of making a difference. Hired as the pastor of Willow Falls, he must convince the congregation that he is able to undertake the role of a reverend. When he’s nominated to be the adult in charge of the annual prank tradition at the school, he embraces the idea, thinking the new teacher will be an elderly crotchety woman like his former teacher. What he doesn’t realize until it’s too late is that the teacher is far from crotchety and elderly. When Lydie and Solomon’s paths cross in an unexpected way during the prank tradition at the Willow Falls school, can Solomon redeem himself in the eyes of the lovely new teacher? (Historical Romance from Maplebrook Publishing)
The Seasoning of Elizabella: A Jamestown Bride Story by Tamera Lynn Kraft — Elizabella can’t imagine anything worse than being a Jamestown bride — but her sister is determined to do just that. On the way to the ship to stop her sister, she witnesses a brutal murder and must flee for her life. She takes refuge on the ship, pretending to be her sister, intending to leave as soon as she is safe. Before she knows it, she is headed for the New World, trapped by desperation and deception. Miles fled to Jamestown with his family to escape the shame from their father’s actions. Tragedy has tested his faith, including the loss of his wife and newborn son. His grief makes him more determined than ever to keep his one remaining brother from following in their father’s footsteps. Will God heal their pain? How can their love grow when Elizabella desires nothing more than to return to London, and Miles desires nothing more than to remain in Jamestown? (Historical Romance from Mt Zion Ridge Press LLC)
Her Unlikely Amish Protector by Jocelynn McClay — He’s learned from his mistakes…But can he protect her from his past? Miriam Schrock has one rule in her quest for a respectable Amish life—stay away from troublemakers like Aaron Raber. That is, until their employers play matchmaker and Miriam sees a different side to the former rebel. Aaron promises his time with an Englischer gang is behind him. But when his past returns, will protecting Miriam from their threats mean losing her for good? (Romance: Amish from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Found: An Almost Perfect Christmas by Kimberly Rose Johnson — When a young boy’s life is threatened, his dad will do anything to keep him safe, including eliciting the help of his single and beautiful school teacher. One of Hope Creek, Montana’s most desired single men has his hands full this Christmas with a new puppy litter, work, and a rambunctious young son. Now, someone has threatened to harm his son if he doesn’t reveal the location of a mystery woman. Second grade teacher, Bethany Evans, loves her job, but she wants more. Could Toby and his dad hold the key to making this Christmas extra special, or will the trouble they are facing not only ruin Christmas but destroy their lives in the process?. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance, Independently Published)
Texas Smoke Screen by Jessica R. Patch — Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And where there’s fire, there’s a killer…FBI profiler Vera Gilmore has the scars—both outside and in—to remind her how deadly fire is. Now homicide detective Brooks Brawley—her once sweetheart—needs her help with a serial arsonist and murderer in his small Texas town. But almost immediately, Vera becomes a target. Will staying at Brooks’s ranch with him and his daughter keep them all safe…or put them right in the killer’s path. (Thriller/Suspense/Romance from Love Inspired (Harlequin))
Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:
Fractured Mind by Sheridan Lee, “Fractured Mind” is an edgy contemporary Christian women’s fiction story which depicts how a ‘baby Christian’ with a troubled past bumbles about trying to live up to the Biblical perspective she knows she needs to follow. (Contemporary)
Hope Again at Christmas by Cathe Swanson, Three heartwarming novels that will have you laughing and crying… and swooning over the sweet romances tied up with tinsel, carols, and hope for the future. (Contemporary Romance)
Where Dreams Reside by Heidi Chiavaroli, A shameful past, an orchard camp, and a kindling romance…not exactly Little Men, but Bronson Martin never liked being compared to the March family anyhow. (Contemporary Romance)