The script today's show follows or you can listen to the program here: A Writers Life Podcast
Good morning and welcome to todays episode of A Writers Life. I’m doing something a little different today. I’ve done several interviews but never on myself, so today, I’m plowing new ground here. I’m calling this episode Chatting with Dana Wayne because, well, that’s what I’m doing. I thought it would be a good way for you to get to know me a little better as a person and an author. I’ll discuss my books of course, maybe a snippet or two, and basically just chat a bit.
So, let’s see…. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, golfer, camper, cook, crafter and I dabble in photography. I’m a sixth generation Texan, or 7th depending on which relative you talk to, and I grew up in the country. We didn’t move to town until I was like thirteen or so. Both sets of grandparents lived on a farm, so we helped work in the garden and did all sorts of things that most kids today have no clue about like milking a cow and churning butter, cooking on a woodstove, gathering eggs and drawing water from a well. I still remember sitting on the front porch with my grandmother and my aunts shelling peas and shucking corn. Then later helping – well, watching them really - can the vegetables.
My dad’s mother did a lot of quilting, too and had this rack hung from the ceiling. Whenever it was time to quilt, the rack was lowered, and my aunts would gather around it and sew. I was really young then, maybe eight or so but I remember helping them quilt. In fact, that is where I learned to sew.
Some of my fondest memories are of trekking through the woods with my siblings or cousins, wading the creek behind my grandparent’s farm or fishing with my dad. All of us loved to fish. My brothers, of course, liked to hunt as well, and I did, too, but I only wanted to be out in the woods with them, I didn’t shoot anything, probably couldn’t hit it if I did. And I love to tent camp. Man, that is the best vacation EVER! Hubby, now, not so much. His idea of roughing it is a Holiday Inn with no remote for the TV.
I am by nature a very positive and upbeat person. I try to find the good in every situation. In fact, hubby says that if I walked into a room full of horse manure, I’d immediately start looking for the pony. And that pretty much sums up my personality. I don’t ignore the bad stuff out there, I mean, really, its in your face 24/7 anymore. But I don’t dwell on it, either. I think I got that from my maternal grandmother. She was probably the most positive person I ever knew. I asked her once how could be that positive all the time. I’ll never forget her reply. She said “You see what you look for. If you look for the bad, that’s what you see. I choose to look for the good.” I like that. It’s sorta like my mantra.
With that outlook, is it any wonder I write romances? I love all the sappy sentimental mentality that goes with that genre. There’s always a blend of highs and lows, just like real life and I throw in a little suspense along the way, too, cause well, just because that’s what I like. But there will always be a happily ever after.
I worked on my first book Secrets of the Heart for over ten years. Mainly because I was still working, raising a family, and so on. It wasn’t until I retired in 2013 that I was able to really get serious about it. Even then, I changed stuff every time I went through it until I was satisfied with the direction. The suspense part was really an accident.
Because I’m a pantser, meaning I don’t plot or outline, I just write, I don’t always know where I’m going with a story until I get there. When Lucy showed up at Wade’s hotel room that day, no one was more surprised than me because it wasn’t something I planned, it just happened.
That’s how a pantser’s mind works. When I’m on a roll or in the zone or whatever you want to call it, I just type, and the words flow. So much so, that when I hit a slow spot and go back and read what I wrote, I’m like ‘Wow! That’s really good! Or I didn’t see that coming.’
And the ending in Secrets was something else I didn’t plan. In fact, I had something totally different in mind. But it got in the way of the story. That’s another thing pantser’s struggle with – trying to make the story go a direction it doesn’t want to go, because, believe it or not, a story takes on a life of its own and trying to force something will get you in trouble.
I ended up with writers block so bad I couldn’t do anything for days. I spoke to another writer about it and he gave the best advise ever. He said, “Get out of the way.” Yeah, I didn’t know what he meant, either. Basically, he said I needed to backtrack to the point in the story where everything made sense and delete anything after that. Whoa! Delete? No! Well, I don’t delete stuff – I copy and paste it into a document called “Things I Might Use Later”. I ended up removing almost three chapters and man did that hurt my writer’s heart!
But I did it. I ended up using some of it but most is still in that stuff-i-might-need-later file.
I think the ending of all my books came as a surprise to me because I let the story take me where it wants to go and it works out in the end.
I find it hard to explain that I-did-not-see-that-coming concept to a non-writer because people are like, ‘duh, you wrote it, how can you say you didn’t see it coming?’ But, that’s how it works. I type. The words come. The end follows. Eventually.
My second book, Mail Order Groom, is set in Texas in 1878. It’s not your typical mail order story because Emma, who’s 25, didn’t advertise for a husband, her father did. He thought he was dying and wanted her married so she wouldn’t be alone, but she wanted nothing to do with any of the locals. And the cowboys that responded to the ads didn’t suit her, either because all they wanted was the ranch, not her. But, their temporary foreman, Tyler Roundtree made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. And a marriage of convenience is only the beginning of the story. When I started the story, I knew two things: Emma’s father wanted her married and she didn’t want to comply. Everything else happened as went through a series of ‘what-ifs’. What if this happened instead of that. What if she did this instead of that. Each what-if made the story flourish.
Groom was the fastest book I’ve written. I mean, the words just flowed. I had the first draft completed in 8 months and published in ten.
My next book, Whispers On The Wind, was a real stretch for me because it was a romantic suspense. To be honest, I wrote it just to see if I could because it meant I had to work two totally different story lines at the same time, which meant switching gears, sometimes from chapter to chapter, and that is a challenge for any author.
I like romantic suspense because it provides a variety of emotions – good, bad, happy, sad but always – always an HEA. I use varying degrees of humor in my work, too. It’s a great tool to tone down an emotional scene or give your character some depth.
I used more subtle humor in Whispers because it suited the characters. Coop is the sheriff and Samantha, who goes by Sam, are both strong, no-nonsense people who feel an immediate and unwanted attraction to each other, so the humor helped balance them out and tone down some of the more tense moments. The scene where Coop is essentially at the mercy of Sam’s dog, Jack for example. Sam found a body and called 911. They’d already had a brief encounter earlier so both are a bit unnerved. Anyway, Coop talking to her about what happened. Here’s a snippet:
“What do you know about this?”
She jerked her gaze to him, brow creasing. “She’s dead.”
“How did you find the body?”
He jerked his head around and pinned with his best don’t-jack-with-me-I’m-a-cop look.
She stared right back.
“Nature called,” she said at last. “This looked like a good place to answer. Went over there, found her, called you, end of story.”
Coop barely managed to hide his surprise as he took her right arm, leading her toward the Bronco.
“Where are you taking me?”
He stopped when he reached the vehicle and opened the door. “Get in. Don’t talk to anyone until I get back.”
“Because I said so. Dammit, Billy Ray,” shouted Coop. “Keep these people behind my truck.”
“Come on folks, you heard the sheriff, move back.”
“Aww, come on, Coop,” came a voice from the crowd. “We just wanna see what’s happenin’”.
“Yeah,” whined another. “I ain’t never seen a dead body before. Not like this.”
“Shorty, if your fat ass isn’t behind my truck in ten seconds,” roared Coop, “you’ll spend the rest of the weekend in jail. That goes for the rest of you too. Now move it!” Turning back to Sam, he lowered his voice. “Get in. Please.”
She pulled her arm free and stepped toward the door, tripping over a root in the process. Her head just missed the corner as Coop caught her against him, causing her to mutter a startled squeal.
Immediately, Jack jumped from the car and raced for the sheriff, teeth bared, his growl deep and menacing.
“No Jack! Stay,” shouted Sam, still encased in his arms as she turned toward the dog.
Jack slowed, but inched toward them, his size alone enough to intimidate, but coupled with that low rumble, it was terrifying.
Her voice calm and soft, she told Coop, “No sudden moves. Let me go.”
He slowly released her and waited.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “He’s very protective.”
Turning to the dog now a mere two feet away from his leg, she reached down. “Good boy, Jack, good boy.” She rubbed his ears and stroked his head. “I appreciate your concern sweetie, but really, it isn’t necessary.”
Jack didn’t appear to agree and crept forward.
She rose and stood beside Coop, slipping her arm through his.
“What the hell are you doing?”
She glanced at him from the corner of her eye. “Say something to him and be nice. He’s not as dumb as some dogs…and most men.”
I just like that scene. And I like Jack. In fact, several readers asked me to write a story from his point of view.
That’s the thing about well-developed secondary characters; they have the power to entice the reader to want to hear more. And all of my work is very character driven versus plot driven.
Chasing Hope was my fourth book and probably my favorite. But don’t tell my other characters I said that! It is such a feel-good story even though it handles several not-so-good issues like PTSD and bullying.
It’s the story of Max Logan, a wounded veteran, Skylar Ward, a single mom, and Sky’s little girl, Maddie. Readers tell me it reads like a hallmark movie, right down to the sappy, sentimental, heartwarming, need-a-hanky ending.
Of all the characters I have written, I think Maddie, who is seven going on thirty, was my favorite. She is wise beyond her years, loves Max and schemes to make him her mother’s male companion. Their road to HEA is a rocky one, but well worth the journey.
My newest release, Unveiling Beulah, came out in March of this year. It’s another western set in East Texas in 1879. I hoped to have it out last year, but you know, 2020 sucked for creativity, at least for me, so I lagged behind.
It’s the story of Beulah Mae Lockhart, only daughter of an affluent NY mercantile owner. She has a big scar on her face from a childhood accident. In her world, looks are everything, and because of the scar, she is considered damaged goods and made to feel it determines her value as a person, as a woman and she lives life in the shadows.
Because of her isolation, even at the age of 30, she is shy and becomes easy prey for a scoundrel. Thankfully, she came to her senses in time, but the damage was done.
Determined to start over, she gets rid of the veil her family insists she wear at all times and heads to a small town in east Texas where she buys a general store. She becomes a champion of the downtrodden and has no tolerance for people who treat others less than fair.
Unveiling Beulah is about overcoming the odds and finding your purpose in life. Its about how you see yourself, not how others see you and finding true love at last.
The power to change our self-perception, our self-worth, is within us all. Sometimes, we find it, sometimes we’re afraid to look. And if you’re truly lucky, it finds you.
I’m working on another romantic suspense, The Detail, which should be out later this year and then one more contemporary slated for spring 2022.
Well, that’s our show. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, I’d love to hear your comments and if you have a topic you would like to have me cover, just leave a comment or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening.