Author Dena Dyer visits with us today, a mother of two young sons from Granbury, Texas. Dena’s devotional book for moms, Grace for the Race, was one of the first books I reviewed here a year ago.
Dena has been busy co-authoring a new series of books with her friend, Laurie Copeland, as they’ve become Groovy Chicks taking “road trips” to explore peace, love, and friendship in a growing relationship with God.
Hi Dena! Can you tell us about your Groovy Chicks’ series? What are these books about?
They are “book-i-lations,” anthologies of stories by women from all over the world. My co-author, Laurie Barker Copeland, and I, also contributed stories and sidebars — many as our Groovy alter-egos, “Pepper” and “Starshine.”
The two volumes are lighthearted, but not lightweight, explorations of what it means to live fully in the love and peace of Jesus. I told someone the other day that they’re like “Chicken Soup meets Laugh-in with a Christian message”!
Why did you decide to write these books?
Laurie and I met at a writer’s conference and worked on some magazine pieces together. We knew we wanted to do a book together, but just weren’t sure what it would be. And at the time, I was involved in a local Christian-owned music theater called Granbury Live, where my husband is a partner and full-time performer.
In one of the concerts, I did a segment as a groovy, ditzy 60’s character named “Starshine.” It was so well received, and I had such fun doing it, that my boss — who knew I was anxious to break into the Christian book market — said, “Why don’t you do a Groovy Chicks’ Guide to Life?”
I knew it would work … and I knew Laurie — with her fun personality and great marketing skills, as well as her acting, singing, and speaking background — was the perfect partner for a Groovy Chicks’ book. 🙂
She brought a lot to the table, and really helped round the whole thing out with regards to vision, content and humor. (By the way, our website is Groovy Chicks Road Trip, which Laurie’s fabulous hubby did for us. We even have groovy clothes, t-shirts and mugs now.)
How did you gather the stories for these books?
We sent out calls for submissions to our various speaking and writing networks, and to different writing websites. After the first book, we had about three times as many submissions, because people had started hearing about it.
So the second decision-making process was much more difficult. What’s really neat, though, is how Laurie and I — she is from Florida and I’m from Texas — both read all the submitted stories (300 for the second book!) and agreed without hesitation on the top 40 or so. We only had to compromise on a few. It was really neat — a definite God-thing!
I enjoyed reading your Road Trip to Love book, especially the tips on friendships, love, and mentoring between each chapter. What are some challenges today’s women face in nurturing friendships?
Time. Time. Time …. Ha! We’re so busy, and our friendships get left in the dust. Yet they’re too important to let that happen. I make a real effort (I don’t always succeed, mind you, but I try) to keep pretty close contact with my dearest friends. I just need them, and I know they need me … even if we don’t always realize it.
Do you have any suggestions for us on how we can deepen and strengthen our friendships? Is it worth the effort now, or should we wait until our kids are grown and we have more time?
I think that when we become honest with ourselves about our loneliness and the gaps that only friends can fill, and we share that with people, we’ll be surprised at how other women respond. I’m sometimes afraid to reveal that need — how I feel empty when my friends and I haven’t been able to spend time together.
But when I get real, they totally “get it.” In the Bible, in a book such as Ruth, we’re reminded of the gift of friendship, and how we can’t take it for granted or let it die.
And just let me say, as an Internet/email/blog addict (I can quit anytime I want–really!), I do value those connections, and they have been tremendously helpful, but it’s NOT the same as spending time one-on-one with a girlfriend.
Our generation (Gen X) is very well-connected on the Internet, and we have forged friendships worldwide. It’s a blessing, but it can bring about an artificial intimacy that makes it harder to foster face-to-face relationships. We think we’re connected, but we’re not … not really. It’s TOTALLY worth the effort, I believe, to nurture the friends we have at church, in our neighborhood, and in our moms’ groups. Especially when the kids are young — because we need support, encouragement and a relief from mom-isolation, now more than ever!
One fun thing that several moms and I have done is to have a monthly Bunco (a really easy-to-learn dice game) night. We do it on the third Thursday of each month, and take turns hosting it. The hubbies all know that they have “daddy duty” on that night of the month. We have been doing it for about a year and a half. It keeps us connected without being a huge time commitment.
What other projects are you working on now?
My agent, Wendy Lawton, is shopping two proposals around for me, one for women ages 20-40 on being fearlessly countercultural, and one for moms about dealing with inferiority and insecurity. Since our publisher for the first two books has undergone a bunch of changes, we’re also looking for a publisher for a third Groovy Chicks’ Road Trip volume, on Joy.
Can you tell us about your online writing courses? Do you teach these? How does it work?
I’m glad you asked! I love mentoring other writers, but my time is so limited. I used to lead a local writing group, but it got to be too much. So now I teach through Writers’ Helper and love it.
I have courses on writing for anthologies (which is free, if you go through it on your own!), getting organized to write, and writing short pieces for publication. Each one is a four-session course, and you can go through it by yourself, with others, or with me as a mentor/coach.
The prices range from about $20-$60, and they’re all conducted entirely online. All you need is a computer and email.
Thanks, Dena! You’ve inspired us to work on strengthening our friendships, and maybe some of us will send you a story someday for your next book! Do you have any closing words?
Well, if your readers want to be a Groovy Chick, too — it’s easy. All they have to do is have Christ in them. They don’t have to wear a certain style of clothing, or be a certain age. Any “chick” can be groovy!
As Laurie and I always say, we are just ordinary women — with a Groovy God.
You can learn more about Dena Dyer at her website. She loves to hear from readers and can also be reached at her blog, Amazing Grace-land, as well as by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.