D. L. Diener, Second Place Winner, Winter 2011 Flash Fiction Contest

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Congratulations to D. L. Diener for her second place win in the Winter 2011 Flash Fiction contest. If you haven't had a chance to check out D. L. 's winning story, "The Unexpected Burden of Hope," you can read it now.

D.L. lives in northern Indiana with her husband and three children. She feels called and equipped to do a few things well: to be a partner to her husband, to be a mother to her children, to be a friend, and to be a writer. She got her writing legs wet by participating in the weekly challenge over at FaithWriters.com. Then she eventually took a plunge into a bigger pond and entered a short story into the Writer’s Digest 79th Annual Writing Competition. Not only did her story receive an honorable mention in the Genre Short Story category, but it also placed 3rd in the Inspirational category. Lynn is completing edits on a novel and hopes to have it submission-ready soon. When she’s not beating an editing path through the jungle known as her novel, she’s blogging at her website: www.dldiener.com. You can also follow her on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/dldiener and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DLDiener.

WOW: Welcome, D. L. What a beautiful and touching story! Congratulations on your win. Where did you get the idea for your story?
D.L.: Thank you. I’m honored to be counted in this winning lot.  I’m a little embarrassed to confess my penchant for Internet searches here; but the truth is, that’s what I used as my inspiration. I don’t like digging up old stories (it’s too easy to see faults instead of potential), and I wanted something fresh. But with the open prompt, I had no idea which way to go, so I decided to let some photography guide me. I did an image search, and there were two images that collided in my mind. One photo was of a canoe leaning against a tree, and the other was one of a woman staring out a screen door with her hand resting on a baby-rounded belly. I wondered what happened. Why is she alone? Why does she look so sad? What does the canoe have to do with it? And my story was born.
WOW: That is so cool--what a great idea to use photos for a story idea. What are some challenges that writing flash fiction presents? How did you overcome these to create an award winner?

D.L.: I think the key to flash fiction is to pare the story down to the right moment. The moment is different for every story; but for me, it’s often the part of the story where things are about to change. I love it when a story feels so much bigger than what you’ve just read. My dream for any flash fiction I write is for it to be a story boiled down to its best elements, like a painting capturing the essential moment in one time and place.

Where I struggle in flash fiction is having too many details, funny lines, or clever scenarios, and they don’t move the story along. So now I keep a spare document to hold my deleted treasures, where I can revisit them. That way, it’s more like not getting picked for the story team instead of certain death for my words.

WOW: I know a lot of writers who keep separate files on their computers for their brilliant deleted scenes! You have had some success with contests. Why do you think entering contests is a good idea?

D.L.: Contests are a great way to let you know, sometimes bluntly, how well you’re writing or how far you’ve missed the mark. The judge doesn’t know if it’s your first entry or your hundredth. It levels the playing field and lets you know where your writing stands.

If your piece does well, it’s an affirmation of your writing skills. It validates your own claim that you write well. And if your piece doesn’t do well, you gain that valuable outsider’s perspective from which you can revise and rework your writing until it is accolade-worthy.

WOW: You are also currently working on a novel. Can you share with us a little about it? What genre? What's the premise?

D.L.: I’d love to share about my novel. It’s the story of young woman in 1968, who is forced to surrender her baby for adoption. She’s not able to go home and pretend nothing’s happened, so she sets off on a journey that will help her rediscover who she is, what love is, who God is, and she hopes it might reunite her with her daughter.

The novel is women’s fiction, but it’s also based on the tragic phenomenon that occurred in the post World War II/pre-Roe V. Wade years, deemed the Baby Scoop Era. It’s a sad piece of our history in the United States, of which most are still largely unaware.
WOW: I am unaware of the Baby Scoop Eara, and now you have really caught my interest. I can't wait for that book to be on the shelf. Besides creative writing, it looks like you are involved in blogging and social networking. Why do you think having a web presence is important?

D.L.: I think as social networks grow, and I don’t strictly mean the social network but networking socially on the Internet, it will become not just a plus for writers, but it will be a critical part of how they connect with their readers, other writers, agents, and publishers. It allows writers to mix with people they wouldn’t have the chance to socialize with in person. It’s just a new way of doing something people have always done, in much bigger circles. And it’s great for us shy types who aren’t so good with socializing in person.

A web presence is important because the first thing most folks do when they want to learn about a writer is to do an Internet search. So if you’re a writer, and you’re serious about the business of writing, you need to make some connections on the web. You don’t need to be all things to all people on the web because it can be overwhelming, but have something out there for people to find when they want to know more about the author behind that great short story. Ernest Hemmingway would have a tough time getting started now, unless his cabin in the woods had an Internet connection.

WOW: (laughs) So true! According to your bio, you are one busy lady! How do you balance your family, your friends, and your writing career?

D.L.: Well, you know that social network thing? It’s not just good for writing. As a mom to three little ones, I’m grateful I can catch up with my friends in a few clicks and get back to my real life. I have a monthly playdate with a group of friends, which is as much for the grown-ups as it is for the kids. My best friend and I have been calling each other once a week for the last fifteen years. And it’s taken me twenty minutes to write this paragraph due to the little people crawling in and out of my arms. I try hard not to invoke the “not now, Mommy’s working” line unless I’m desperate and have a hard deadline.
I am a strong believer in flexibility and in trusting that God will string together the pieces that I offer in good faith. I can’t be rigid about any one part of my life. At this stage, there is no telling which aspect of my life will be demanding attention. So I do my best with the moments that are in front of me. It is always imperfect and could always be better, sometimes much, much better. But it is what it is. And I trust that, because I believe in a God who is in the business of making perfect what I’ve screwed up. That eventually, the loose ends will be tied; and in the mean time, grace will hold us all together.

WOW: Well said, and something that really hits home for me being a stay-at-home, writer mom, too. Congratulations once again on your win, and it has been a pleasure to talk with you today!

D.L.: Thank you so much for the interview. I love the chance to get to talk about this side of writing and what a treat that it came as a result of placing in the contest. You can bet I’ll be tossing my pen back in the ring, and I am already pushing other friends to give it a try.
interview conducted by Margo L. Dill, http://margodill.com/blog/ 


Julie Arduini said...

What a great interview! I love the inspiration you found from the photos. I have a feeling this is just the beginning of many placements and wins!

Joanne Sher said...

What a fabulous interview. Lynn is an amazing woman - and an absolute shining star. So deserving.

Unknown said...

aww, you two are awesome. thanks friends. :)

Lynda Lee Schab said...

What an awesome interview! I met Lynn at the first-ever FaithWriters conference. She is a sweetheart and a very talented lady. Congrats again, Lynn, on your win!

Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top