Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards.
Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time, Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series coming with Bethany House Publishers in 2015. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing as well, and she loves to teach at writers conferences throughout the US. For more info visit her at her primary website http://dinasleiman.com.
Savanna: Welcome to The Engrafted Word, Dina. Congratulations on your recent release, Dauntless. Such an intriguing cover and series. 🙂 What was your favorite thing about creating Lady Merry’s character and Timothy Grey’s as well?
Dina: Wait, you mean I created these people? I thought they just popped fully formed into my head. LOL. Seriously, that’s partly true, although I admit to having played a part in their formation. I loved that Merry was so strong and feisty. Her personality is very different than mine, but there are some overlaps, and I drew from my adrenaline junky teenaged son whenever I was in doubt about what she might do or think. As for Timothy, I tried to imagine what sort of guys end up with tough, athletic, smart girls. On one hand that takes a lot of confidence, but on the other hand, in my experience, they are often sensitive, talkative type guys who develop deep friendships. The whole opposites attract thing.
Savanna: It looks like such a fun story! What do you hope readers will take away most from the Valiant Hearts series?
Dina: To be strong and courageous. I think this is a staple in feisty heroine young adult fiction, and typical in our culture as a whole. But Christian girls are often sent mixed messages on this issue. You can be whatever you want to be, but you should be…(insert tiny box of your denominations choosing.) I want to empower young women to be all that God has called them to be, and to never think of themselves as second rate in any way, shape, or form.
Dina: I wrote this about my daughter when she was still a little girl.
Sweet Draughts of Mommy Love
I watch within the golden rays,
beneath the cloudless, azure sky
a white-gold haloed apparition
reflecting iridescent beams,
flitting tender, carving motion,
spinning between earth and sacred
praise is now become Aurora
expanding. Up bright, petal-soft,
beneath a pale, pink floral sheath
a slim, porcelain body sings
like the sun: her arms and legs now
radiating essence, flowing
in kinesthetic child’s delight.
Savanna: Wow. I could never write poetry! 😉 Thanks for sharing that with us.
I also read that you do a lot of speaking engagements. What has been one of your favorite topics you’ve presented and why?
Dina: Recently I taught a class about how to weave important issues into your fiction without being preachy or heavy handed. That subject sparked so much interesting conversation. I think it’s vitally important to put the story first and let any message in the book come organically from the heart of the writer.
Savanna: Many readers enjoy picking their favorite quotes from novels. Do YOU have a particular favorite quote from “Dauntless” that you can share with us?
Dina: There are so many, but here’s a silly little one I really like.
Despite his fear of losing her, or perhaps because of it, anger now flared at Red’s words. “I knew it! She had no right to take the decision from me. When I see that girl I ought to…” He shook his hands before him as if he might choke the stubborn chit.
“Kiss her? Marry her?” Red supplied with a wiggle of his brows.
Timothy’s anger ebbed at that, and he snickered. “I had meant to say throttle her, but perhaps you have the right of it.”
Savanna: Aww, love it! I’m intrigued even more now. 😉 Thanks so much for being with us today, Dina!
Dina: Book 2, Chivalrous, will be coming out sometime in the fall. The story will continue to follow one of the main characters from Dauntless. And just wait until you meet Gwendolyn Barnes, the young noble woman who longs to be a knight like her brothers. But her domineering father has just returned home, and he’s determined to see her wed to a tough man who will break her wild spirit. Should be interesting.
Savanna: Can’t wait! Hope you have a great time celebrating your new releases this year!
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Do YOU have a favorite poem? Or a question for Dina? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below! 🙂