Please welcome Diane Carr today! You’ll enjoy reading her interview and getting to know her because she’s really special. If you live local (Brevard County, FL), you know of the dragon at the end of Merritt Island. She wrote a book called River Dragon about this special being. You’ll love it!
On a side note, I met Diane recently via email as she reached out to me through a mutual friend. Then, at the Book Fair we were both attending, we wound up being next to each other. And for a further twist, as we began talking, we realized we had met years earlier. I was her daughter’s Guidance Counselor in High School! We both have books with dragons in them and I had brought a HUGE dragon to this book fair. We called our little corner, Dragon’s Corner. She is an absolute delight. I’m very grateful to have met her in person and can now call her my friend. I know you will enjoy getting to know her as well.
I grew up in Massachusetts, currently live on the west coast of Florida, but still love love love the New England area. Growing up, our family had a cabin in the woods of southern New Hampshire where I spent most summer weekends swimming, canoeing, catching frogs and turtles, building forts, and picking blueberries. It was a childhood right out of Mayberry RFD and if I could wave a magic wand, I’d create that opportunity for every child.
I’m married to my best friend, Phil Mayrand and we call ourselves ‘two peas in a pod’. We love to walk the beach, ride our bikes, and travel to places where we can hike and spend time with Mother Nature.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I knew I wanted to write when I was in my late teens/early twenties. I began composing poetry (I’d be embarrassed to share it with anyone now) but it was the beginning of the seed that took hold. In college, reports seemed to be my strong point. Once I had children, I knew I wanted to write stories for them.
What have you written? Tell me about them.
My exciting news and most recent release in October 2016 is Freedom’s Dragonflight, a coming of age adventure with dragons, dragonflies, Florida wildlife, an evil dragon, and flying under moonlit skies. This fifth grade level chapter book is the sequel to the picture storybook, River Dragon ~ A Real Florida Fairytale, the story of Annie the dragon that stood on the southern tip of Merritt Island for 31 years. River Dragon won second place in the children’s category in the 2004 Palm Award from the Florida Writers’ Association.
From 2007-2010, I had the perfect outlet for my love of natural and healthy living as part time Assistant Editor for Brevard County Natural Awakenings Magazine. I conducted interviews with holistically slanted business owners for Spotlight articles and edited news briefs.
My brief foray into poetry included a poem entitled Tiger that was published in the Flash Poetry section of The Florida Palm, Summer of 2006.
With members of the Space Coast Writers Guild, I had the unique opportunity to co-author Summer Storm and Camp Daybreak, chapter books published in the Florida Today newspaper in 2001 and 2003. I also co-edited Keys Adventure, a third chapter book created by the SCWG also published in the Florida Today newspaper in 2004.
I dabbled in short storytelling with Gone Fishing, which was published in the Literary Liftoff, (magazine of the Space Coast Writer’s Guild) in the Fall 2005 issue.
My first byline was for an article written in the Massage Magazine, March/April 2001, entitled Destiny’s Path. Another magazine called Daughters, published my second article in Reaching for Maturity in April 2001.
Without a doubt, my favorite genre would be writing for children. I am always inspired by their curiosity, imagination, sense of freedom, and playfulness. One of my goals is to retain my own childlike innocence in the way I look at the world.
Tell me about your writing process.
Ideas float through my brain or I’ll see something that triggers an interest. If it feels as though it has potential, I’ll write it down. I tell kids it’s like catching a butterfly. If you don’t grab it immediately, it may just fly away. When I get to the point of fingers on the keyboard, I write organically. For me that means I begin a stream of thought process. I don’t worry about storylines or character development, where the story is going or how it will end. The important thing is to get my thoughts down however disjointed they seem at first. That, for me, is the joyful part of writing. No barriers, no censors, no rules. Just pure imagination. It doesn’t matter if it’s silly, dumb, crazy, or impossible. I try not to edit in that stage. After the story is in a very rough draft, then comes the discipline which includes research, editing, re-writing, re-reading, re-editing, and all the other related levels of creating the story. It is definitely work, and sometimes frustrating and challenging, but hopefully the end result will be a story I feel good about.
Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?
Life events and personal experiences become the foundation of every story. Imagination becomes the magical fairy dust that makes it vibrant and come to life.
What sort of research do you do for your novels?
The research depends on where the characters are located and what they are experiencing. For example, when I had a ghost crab scuttling across the beach in Freedom’s Dragonflight, I looked up what a ghost crab looks like, what it eats, and how it behaves. When I wrote about Bok Tower Gardens, I spent a day there, experiencing first hand what I saw, touched, smelled, and heard. I took pictures. I read their brochures. Many of these facts were placed in the story so the reader gets a visual, tactile, aroma, sound, or sense about the character or place.
Do you have a special place where you write?
Most of the time at my computer. Impromptu ideas, however, are written on the first scrap of paper I can discover in the moment whether backs of envelopes, post-it notes, or tissue paper.
Do you have any type of music you listen to while you write?
Not usually. I prefer quiet so I can focus and listen to my thoughts and visualize the story.
Do you have any rituals before or while you write?
Sometimes I quiet my mind by slow deep breathing or spending some time outside in the fresh air, but mainly, it’s when the story beckons my presence.
How long does it usually take you to complete a book?
My first children’s chapter book River Dragon ~ A Real Florida Fairytale, took four days to write the first draft and roughly six months to edit the manuscript. Start to finish it was just over a year to hold the book in my hands.
However, and because there is no ‘usual’ with me, the first draft of Freedom’s Dragonflight, was written in 2003 and remained unread on my computer until there was word another dragon statue was about to be built. The manuscript was dusted off in the fall of 2015 when I worked on it intensely on it from January to September 2016. The book was published October 2016.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
It differs for every story. Some of my first unpublished stories were written for and about my young daughters and just for fun. The three chapter books co-written with the Space Coast Writer’s Guild were an exciting entry into writing, being edited, editing others, and being published. River Dragon and Freedom’s Dragonflight stories needed to be told as it was a combination of reality and fiction and I wanted to keep the memory of Annie and her hatchlings alive.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I write part-time, before work, after work, early mornings, and sometimes by the light of the moon.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I’ve learned that simple stories are a good beginning but become more interesting when I develop the characters’ personalities, define where and how they live, what they encounter, and what they learn in the process. In the beginning I’d use my own knowledge to tell the story. Now I spend a lot more time researching whatever elements appear in the story. That helps both the reader and myself learn something new.
What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about the love of family and friends, nature and all it’s miracles, and protecting our precious Mother Earth.
Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?
If there was any transformation, I would have to say it would be a stronger conviction of my beliefs of the above mentioned passions.
Do you find yourself returning to any recurring themes within your writing and, if so, are you any closer to finding an answer?
Recurring themes would be my passions: love of family, cooperation with others, and protecting our planet. The answers to the issues I bring into the storyline continue to change with my research, clarity, and wisdom. I believe we are always evolving, hopefully into someone that is better than who we were before.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Now that’s a mystery as I don’t know myself. I try to go with the flow…
If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you?
My perfect day would begin with yoga and meditation at dawn, writing in the morning, digging in the garden, hiking, or bike riding in the afternoon, then walking the beach at sunset. The writing has to come because I have a story to tell and if I don’t experience life, there are no stories! Jumping ahead, there could be another dragon story, a story about a Golden Retriever, or maybe a picture book.
What influenced your decision to self-publish?
I wanted creative control over my project.
If you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.
My experience is with cooperative and indie publishing. I loved the creative control of self-publishing but the learning curve was challenging and overwhelming, especially once it came to marketing. I had to get creative. Cooperative publishing offered the help of a team of editors and publishers which helped create a superior product. The challenge was sorting through the variety of suggestions and deciding which ones I agreed with and which ones I had to let go. Cooperative publishing also offered additional resources I did not have with an indie project. After experiencing of both, I think I’d lean toward indie for my next project mainly because each experience added to my pool of knowledge and I now feel better prepared to tackle another self-publishing venture.
How do you market your book?
The variety of ways includes social media, book events, word of mouth, letters to schools and libraries, contacting newspapers, magazines, and book reviewers, along with a positive attitude!
Do you design your own book covers?
No, my drawing skills need a lot to be desired. For both River Dragon and Freedom’s Dragonflight, I hired illustrators. John Goldacker was a good friend and did fantastic work on River Dragon. Debbie Johnson was referred to me by my publisher for Freedom’s Dragonflight and after I saw her work, I knew she’d be perfect for the project. Her amazing artwork makes the story come to life!
Freedom’s Dragonflight is the newly released enchanting children’s chapter book and the long awaited sequel to River Dragon ~ A Real Florida Fairy Tale. A coming of age adventure, the story promises dragons, multi-lingual dragonflies, an evil dragon, Florida wildlife, and flying under moonlit skies. The unique language of Mind-Speak and the mystical Dragonweb network help Freedom, Joy, Charity, and Sunshine search for an elusive portal. Using an unproven strategy, their teamwork must protect them from Leviathan, the evil dragon. Readers are inspired to think about personal challenges, family, friends, and our precious environment. A free Interactive Curriculum Guide for teachers is available.
Freedom’s Dragonflight Activity & Coloring Book includes thirty original and imaginative illustrations plus six engaging activity pages for hours of entertainment with a Crossword Puzzle, Word Scramble, Word Search, and Complete the Sentence.
Diane Carr co-wrote and published River Dragon with her daughter, Kira Earley Marion. She also co-wrote four children’s chapter books with members of the Space Coast Writers Guild that were published in Florida Today. For more information, visit her website at www.mind-speak-writer.com/.
Freedom’s Dragonflight and accompanying Activity & Coloring Book are available at the following locations:
Annie’s Toy Chest, 526 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa, FL 32922 Annies Toy Chest
Treasures Thrift Shoppe, 3040 New Haven Ave W. West Melbourne, FL 32904
Aquarian Dreams, 414 N. Miramar Ave (Hwy A1A) Indialantic, FL 32903
Creative Framing by David, 1891 S Patrick Dr, Indian Harbour Beach, FL 32937 Creative Framing by David
Nana’s A Children’s Store, 223 West Venice Ave., Venice, FL 34285 http://www.nanaschildrenshop.com/
Diane Carr, Author http://www.mind-speak-writer.com/
Terra Sancta Press, Publisher http://www.terrasanctapress.com/
Email Diane Carr at firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 941-275-5431
Email Terra Sancta Press at email@example.com Phone 321-914-2290
‘Like” Freedom’s Dragonflight on Facebook!