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Friday, August 22, 2014

Author Interviews--Sweetland Series: Diane Pitts and Peggy Blann Phifer

Anne: Sweetland Interviews! We have two series, one out and a new one beginning in less than a month. The completed one is Summer in Sweetland, the last volume of which was released last week, Summer Song, by Kathi Macias. The second will be 'Tis the Season in Sweetland, and the first volume, Unseen by Linda Gilden, is scheduled to release on September 11. The first series will also be out in hard copy in a few weeks.

If you click on Diane's or Peg's names (in blue), you will go to their websites. You can read more about them there.

If you would like to read the first pair of interviews, click HERE.

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The first interview today is with Diane Pitts, a retired nurse, physical therapist, and is a doctoral instructor for physical therapy. But wait, that's not all. She sings with a multicultural women's choir in her community, is active in music and teaching in her church, and is a wife, mother, and mother-in-law (the good kind, of course). All this is in addition to being an accomplished author in the two Sweetland Series. She wrote Summer's Dance in the first series, and her story (Unseen) will be the first in the next Sweetland series.

So, Diane, what inspired your Sweetland story?

Diane: My volume in the Summer in Sweetland series is called The Summer's Dance. My life is filled with those from "The Greatest Generation" who don't wish to be seen as aged and infirm. In order to speak for them, I created characters living in an assisted living facility (ALF). My portion of the next Sweetland series, 'Tis the Season in Sweetland, continues with a look at the extended family. I was inspired to write Volume 1, Unseen, by friends who experienced a tragedy. The ALF characters show up in Unseen because they are part of the extended family.

Anne: Who is your favorite Sweetland character and why?

Diane: I think my favorite character is Virginia Davenport Livingston, who does not want to be called "Ginny." Her married life was filled with trying to be someone in a higher economic and social standing. As she ages, Virginia finds fewer externals to qualify her existence. On what can she base her existence? The struggle is real!

Anne: What is your favorite scene?

Diane: My favorite scene in The Summer's Dance is the dance itself and all it entails for two lovely people. In the second series, the most endearing scene is the final scene where the McKenzie family discovers the true meaning of "family" and "home." I had added the element of suspense in both selections. For some reason, that element filtered into each story and made them more fun to write.

Anne: What do you want people to "get" from your story?

Diane: The first story, The Summer's Dance, beckons the reader ask the question,"On what do I base my significance?" and "Have I misjudged the 'greatest generation' by forgetting they are individuals?" The second selection, Unseen, prompts the reader to look at priorities--are they in things or people? How much am I willing to give when people are in need?

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Our next interview is with Peggy Blann Phifer--or, as she prefers to be called, Peg. Peg is a recent widow who chooses to write as therapy for her sadness. Her website, called Whispers in Purple, her books, her emails, and her posts on Facebook have all served to convince me this lady is well worthy to be called "friend."

She is a retired executive assistant with a Fortune 500 company and a prolific writer--as evidenced by the fact that she received the Writer of the Year Award at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference in 2004. I could go on, but let's get with the interview. Peg, what inspired your Sweetland story?

Peg: You know, I'm not really sure where Rozene came from, even more puzzled about why I made her a Native American. But once I started, it just…happened. Part of it was because at the time I wrote it I was also a new widow and a friend suggested I write about it.

Anne: Who is your favorite Sweetland character and why?

Peg: Just one? Aside from my favorites from my stories (Rozene and Misty) I think I'd have to say Celia Evers, from Sue Badeau's Never too Old summer story. I love Celia's compassion and passion for foster children, especially those older kids who are hard to place.

Anne: What is your favorite scene?

Peg: Oh, my, that's hard. From All Things Work Together, my Summer in Sweetland story, I think it would have to be the hospital scene where Rozene and Misty realize they need each other. I even cried as I wrote that. From the other's stories, I don't think I'm even going to try to pick a favorite.

Anne: What do you want people to "get" from your story?

Peg: For a long while I had a computer desktop background with a quote the comforted me when I needed it. It was: "Moving on will always bring something better." I hope others who read All Things Work Together, and the new one, Silver Bells and Candlelight, for the new winter series 'Tis the Season in Sweetland will find that same comfort and reassurance I did, both from that quote above and through my main character Rozene.