May 27, 2008
I'm so excited to welcome my friend, Dena Dyer. We initially met online at The Writers View, a site for professional and advanced writers (The Writers View 2 is for beginners, so be sure and sign up for the one that best fits your needs). Then we met in person when we were both on faculty at the Glorieta Christian Writers Conference in New Mexico a few years ago. Dena is an amazingly talented woman and I'm honored she agreed to be with us today!
First, let me tell you a little about her. As a busy wife, mom, author, and speaker, Dena adores her life–but there are days when she wants her own mommy! Thankfully, she has God, her mom, and a counselor on speed dial. Dena is the proud wife of Carey and mom of Jordan and Jackson. When Dena's not desperately trying to find her keys, she enjoys writing books such as Grace for the Race: Meditations for Busy Moms (Barbour) and The Groovy Chicks Road Trip to Love (Cook, co-compiled with Laurie Copeland) and tips for magazines like Working Mother, Family Circle and Parenting. For more information, visit www.denadyer.com or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Welcome, Dena.
Dena: Thanks! I'm glad to be here.
Vonda: Now that you've been properly introduced, let's jump right in. Okay, Dena, let's see…you're a writer, speaker, performer, wife, mommy…how do you juggle all these roles?
Dena: I don't do them all at once. My house isn't the cleanest, my husband cooks, and I'm not involved in a lot of church activities. I only speak about once a month, if that, and I perform every other weekend. I write mostly on Tuesdays and Thursdays when my littlest one is in preschool. Of course, that's all great until someone gets sick or the schedule changes (as it's about to in the summer), so then I juggle with my hubby and get REALLY creative. Honestly, there's no way to do it all–unless I miraculously receive an energy transplant! So I don't even try.
Dena: We are employed by a 375-seat professional music theater company (Rockbox Theater, at www.rockboxtheater.com) in beautiful Fredericksburg, Texas. We do a 2 hour, family-friendly music variety show 4 times every weekend for locals, groups, and tourists. It changes week to week but we perform oldies, country, rock n' roll from the "golden age" of that genre, comedy, and gospel/patriotic numbers. It's a great mix…and it's always G-rated! The Rockbox staff–from the administration down to the concession stand workers–are all committed Christians who see the theater as a marketplace ministry opportunity.
Vonda: I love theater and entertaining, so I'm trying really hard not to be jealous! Another part of your ministry includes encouraging mothers. Why is it so hard for moms these days?
Dena: We women are so hard on ourselves–and for some reason, Christian women are full of guilt! We beat ourselves up all the time, wanting to do it all, be it all and have it all (part of that is because we listen to Satan's–and the world's–lies). After going through a miscarriage, panic attacks, and depression a few years ago, I went through Christian counseling, and I learned to let go of my unrealistic expectations and perfectionist tendencies. (Of course, I still relapse. I call myself a recovering perfectionist!) One of my goals this year is to "mono-task" more (my wonderful exercise instructor at the YMCA taught me that phrase). We moms are so good at multi-tasking that we forget to revel in the moment. I want to do one thing at a time, and do it well. That helps me enjoy my life, instead of rushing from activity to activity in a blur of motion.
Vonda: Mono-tasking. Hmmm…I like that. I think I'll try it! I know I'm changing gears here, but why do you feel called to write?
Dena: I've loved writing since I was eight years old and read a story in front of my second grade class. They loved it–and I was hooked! And when I found healing from depression, miscarriage, and anxiety problems in Jesus, it increased my desire to write–to share with others the hope I have. I do believe I'm called, which to me means that I have a divine mandate to use my talents and gifts for Him and not for my own glory. God in his grace has allowed me to do something I absolutely love–that's his assignment for me. What an awesome thing!
Vonda: It is! So what advice would you give aspiring writers?
Dena: Be flexible, professional, and respectful. The business is very volatile and editors change jobs a lot. They are also under tremendous pressure to acquire books and shepherd those books through the publishing process. Then they're supposed to go to writing conferences, where they look for new writers, teach classes, and nurture professional writers. I honestly don't see how they do it all. I have always tried to respect the time constraints my editors have and thank them for their efforts. And I try to meet my deadlines and not be too protective of my writing (taking criticism like a big girl). I'd also advise writers to not give up if they feel they are "writers" at the core of their beings. This business is hard–and more writers try to break in every day. But if you're dedicated to learning the craft of writing, and you are persistent in submitting your work (that includes learning how to submit and following publishers' guidelines), then if you are talented, you will eventually get published.
Vonda: Great advice, Dena! You've been known to "squeeze humor out of life". Can you offer tips for other moms looking to lighten up and enjoy life more?
Dena: Great question! I have three boys (ages 4, 9, and 36–the third one just happens to also be my husband!) who help me laugh all the time. They are absolutely hilarious! So my advice would be to marry a comedian and have little comedians. Seriously, I think that first of all, it's important to learn to laugh at ourselves. Second, I'd encourage other moms to be more realistic about what you expect from yourself and others. And don't be afraid to admit your mistakes. You might think someone else has it all together, and you're afraid to approach her for fear she'll judge you–but she's thinking that same thing about you. When we can all admit how messed up we sometimes are, then we can begin to find real friends…authentic, life-giving relationships built on honesty and laughter, not on a pre-determined standard of perfection. Third, I'd say train yourself to look for the funny–and clean–stuff. Read those books that make you laugh, or watch old television shows (I Love Lucy). Find classic or modern silly movies that you can watch over and over when you're down. And just look and listen to your kids, if you really want to guffaw your way through your days. Finally, pray that God will show you how to lighten up.
Vonda: Dena, thank you for your words of wisdom, for writers and for parents! You are a joy and an inspiration. Thank you for stopping by today!
Dena: Thank you for having me. It was a treat to be here!
Vonda here again. And if you'd like to be entered in a drawing for your choice of one of my books, please leave a comment for Dena. I know she would be encouraged by your words. A name will be randomly selected and the winner will be announced next week.
And speaking of book give aways, the winner of my new book, Bitsy and the Mystery at Hilton Head Island, is (drumroll, please…) Charis Brumbaugh of Texas! Congratulations, Charis! Be sure to email me with your mailing address and I'll get it right out to you.
Come sail away with me for seven days–and learn to write! Hey, have you ever wanted a good excuse to take a cruise? Well, here's your chance! I'm thrilled to announce that I will be teaching at the very first Christian Cruisers Club Writing Cruise March 29-April 5, 2009. We'll leave from Miami and sail on to San Juan, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and St. Maarten. Fees include all classes, one-on-one meetings with faculty, and clean family entertainment–just for us! Reduced pricing is available for your non-writing family and friends, and kids are welcome! So don't delay. Let's face it–what could be better than sun, fun, and writing? Hope to see you there!
I hope you'll join me in these words of praise:
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
I pray God's blessing on the work of your hands and your heart.