Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
Interview with Dineen Miller about her upcoming nonfiction book, Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in a Spiritually Mismatched Marriage releasing February 2011.
Dineen, you write fiction, have for a while, so how did you wind up writing nonfiction?
First, Bonnie, I want to thank you for opening the door at CFOM to our nonfiction project, Winning Him Without Words:10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage. This book is birthed out of a ministry started in 2006 by Lynn Donovan. It’s actually an amazing story how God put this on her heart and mine at the same time, then brought us together. All in His timing. The idea of a book didn’t come along until 2008.
There aren’t many resources for the spiritually mismatched, and only about a dozen books on the subject. Churches, for the most part, aren’t equipped for this issue, partly because the focus is mostly on family, and partly because the spiritually mismatched tend to stay in the shadows of shame or despair.
We wrote Winning Him Without Words to change that. I’ve always loved writing devotionals and have had a couple published. Now to have a book to go with our growing ministry is a desire I hadn’t dared to dream until recently.
So, you’ve been blogging and writing about this topic since 2006?
Yep. LOL! When you live it, you tend to write it. So to answer the next logical question, yes, I’m spiritually mismatched. My husband is an atheist, has been for fifteen years now. My cowriter, Lynn Donovan, has much the same story, though I’m pleased to say her husband is slowly coming around and starting to search a bit. The power of prayer…
Was it difficult writing with a cowriter about such personal issues?
No, actually. That’s part of the miracle of this book. We each have areas we are passionate about. Amazingly, that turned into five key chapters for each of us to write. The rest we collaborated on—like the introduction and the resources in the back of the book.
As Lynn says, we complete each other in this ministry. God knew exactly what He was doing (when does He not?) when he put us together to write the book and for the Spiritually Unequal Marriage ministry. We share different strengths and overlap beautifully.
Ok, back to the publishing side of this. Getting a nonfiction book published is not easy. What do you think made the difference for you and Lynn?
Well, first, we both say God. It’s His book. He opened the door He wanted opened when He wanted it opened. And that was at the Christian Writers Conference Lynn attends every year in San Diego. She met with our editor, the amazing Kim Bangs from Regal Books. Kim is one of the most inspiring women I’ve ever met. Publishing is a business and also a ministry for Regal. Their people live it.
Second, platform! Yes, I know that’s not a word many people like to hear, but it’s the truth. Like I said earlier, the S.U.M. site started in 2006. Since then we’ve built a readership and a following that’s consistently grown over the years. The site is very active with new posts almost every day, and we have a lot of resources for our readers too.
We also have a very active Facebook page. Amazingly, we reach a different group of readers there, which is great! Some people like Facebook better than blogs, and it’s a great place to start discussions and get input from our readers.
And of course, there’s Twitter, too. I’m not sure how well it works for us because the nature of our ministry tends to have a lot of confidentiality to it. We’ve had to be creative with our marketing to honor and respect that area. But, of course, our focus is always helping others first. The book is a tool for us to do that.
We had all this in place when Lynn pitched the book to Regal. And I think our online presence is what tipped the decision in our favor. And that we speak, too. That’s one area we’re both working on growing this year as well.
Was the crossover from fiction to nonfiction difficult?
No, not at all. Not for me because I love writing both. I did find nonfiction easier in that each chapter is self-contained for the
most part. Fiction is very different in that sense. But I did find myself using fiction techniques to write compelling and emotionally evocative nonfiction. That part I enjoyed immensely.
Will there be another nonfiction book down the road, or are you just writing fiction now?
Oh, I’m writing both. We have some ideas for a follow-up book to Winning Him. Possibly an activity-based devotional that would cover thirty days and based upon the ten keys we share in the book. The subject of raising children in a spiritually mismatched home is one we’d like to tackle at some point.
But what I’m excited about at the moment is the fiction book I wrote to compliment our nonfiction. This is also a book born out of my heart and this ministry. Storytelling is the oldest way of sharing compelling and memorable lessons. Jesus was a master at it. I wanted to do the same thing—address in a novel the issue of being spiritually mismatched and the intense spiritual warfare we experience.
I’m pleased to share that The Soul Saver is being contracted by Barbour Publishing, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be an author in their ranks. Just knowing this book will be out there soon to work with Winning Him is another dream come true. And big kudos to Barbour (and the amazing Rebecca Germany) for giving this story a chance. Again, God opens doors in His timing, not ours.
If you were to give one piece of advice to someone wanting to write nonfiction, what would it be?
That’s a good question—and a hard one! But I would first ask them, “What is your passion? What area of need do you see not being met?” And I don’t think we have complete control over this either, kind of like the characters in our books. They take on a life of their own and you have to pay attention to what that life is, what it means, what it needs.
That’s what ministry is all about. Paying attention to others and seeing their needs. The amazing part is seeing how all the trials we’ve lived in our own lives can be redeemed by God to help others. That’s the best part of living life in this world, in my honest opinion. Those are the true treasures in this lifetime and the next.
Dineen Miller is an artist at heart and loves everything creative, thus her penchant for creating the most decorative mud pies as a child. Her God-given creativity translated into art college as a young adult where she hoped to break into the world of graphic design with a bang. God ultimately had other plans.
After serving as a youth counselor, a Stephen Minister, and a women’s ministry leader, the one thing she’d done since childhood (besides making mud pies) became the avenue of God’s calling on her life—writing. She delights in penning words to share God’s great love and hope, especially for those in mismatched marriages like hers. Fiction and nonfiction alike are the staples of her passion for ministry to the spiritually mismatched.
Married for more than twenty-three years, she shares her life with a great guy who adores disc golf, her two daughters who never stop surprising her with their own creativity, and a dog who no doubt is an angel in disguise. The cats she’ll leave to your imagination.
You can always find her at her blog, www.spirituallyunequalmarriage.com, where she shares the latest nugget she’s dug out of God’s Word or a message to encourage and spur others closer to God despite the trials of life. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter under her name, Dineen Miller. Her first book, Winning Him Without Words: 10 Keys to Thriving in Your Spiritually Mismatched Marriage, releases from Regal Books in February 2011.