Today’s guest is New York Times bestseller Dianna Love. She’s converted her art studio into a writing cave with a huge white board on her big easel and some paintings hanging on the walls. Dianna spend her days crafting Slye Temp romantic thrillers for adults as Dianna Love, and also co-writes (with USA Today bestseller Mary Buckham) the Red Moon sci-fi fantasy trilogy for young adults as USA Today bestseller Micah Caida.
When I was a kid, I loved school.
It’s true. I know some of you are shaking your heads and wondering how that can be, but you have to understand that we grew up with very little and school was this wonderful place where I could step out of a restricted home life to find a whole new world.
That’s the same thing that drew me to reading. I could dive into a book and explore the world I’d never seen outside of Tampa, Florida, because traveling was limited to fishing the Gulf of Mexico on any day we had free. We fished to feed the family, so it was great that I loved fishing, but I never realized how limited my horizons were until living on my own, which happened at seventeen.
I’ve done a lot of things since then, such as building companies that created unusual three-dimensional art, wall murals, and other strange marketing projects for Fortune 500 companies. When I stopped climbing over a hundred feet in the air, I went from painting faces of celebrities that were sometimes twenty feet tall to writing bestselling books. That’s quite a change, but I only tackle what I feel passionate about, and everything I do can be traced back to teachers and librarians who inspired me as a child.
School wasn’t always easy, but I thrive on challenge and love to learn so it suited my personality. Even so, there were boring classes, too, which is why the teachers who made a special effort stand out. They are the ones who come into sharp focus when I think of who influenced my life.
About a year ago, I met two such dynamic teachers in New York at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators conference. We were at a social event that separated writers by their region of the country, so it was nice to find that Dennis Jolley and Justin Jones were also in the Atlanta area. They both write stories for teens and tweens, and were in New York to develop their craft and to network. I’ve had the pleasure of reading their work and I’m looking forward to seeing those books in print when they sell.
But these two men were doing something pretty extraordinary back at their high school that I found more fascinating than any writing workshop. They said many teachers complain, “Our students won’t read.” During a discussion of their passion for literature and why they became English teachers, Dennis and Justin came up with an idea on how to share their love of reading with their students. They put their idea into action by creating a four-pronged program. I’m posting a snippet of a post Dennis wrote called Muggles Can Make Magic, Too from the Nerdy Book Club blog:
Step One began with a commitment to having our students read in silence for ten minutes a day. I’d tried this the year before and failed, but I’d learned two things since then. Kids will not read stuff they aren’t interested in – and you have to meet them where they are. I was willing to give it another go. I knew that practice time is essential. Just as an athlete or musician has to practice to improve their skills, a reader must practice on a regular basis.