07/29/07 — Author's dream turns into literary career

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Author's dream turns into literary career

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 29, 2007 2:01 AM

Diane Wolfe has loved science fiction since picking up her first book, "The White Dragon" by Anne McCaffery, as a young teen.

"It made me say, 'I want to be an author. I can see my name on a book,'" she says now.

At 13, she started writing her own science fiction stories, the first of which will soon be dusted off for an upcoming project.

But that's getting ahead of her story.

Growing up in Salem, Ore., she moved away at 19, putting writing on the back burner. After she met her husband, Craig, in Arkansas, the couple lived for a time in Albuquerque, N.M., before settling in Goldsboro in 1994.

"It's a time zone I hadn't lived in before," she said.

It has also come to serve as home base to a varied career.

She has been self-employed since 1999, with experiences ranging from taking stock photos for publications such as Cat Fancy, to having an Internet marketing business. Most recently, in addition to writing extensively, she travels along the eastern seaboard leading college seminars on publishing, setting goals and attaining them. She and her husband are also ministry leaders for the singles group at their church, The Lord's Table.

Since 2004, she has published four of a five-book series, "Circle of Friends," which she describes as inspirational fiction for adults and young adults.

"Originally, I wrote what I wanted to read," she said. "I have a lot of readers, women in their 30s and 40s, and a lot of teens, which surprised me."

The southern-based series centers around five characters and focuses on the pursuit of dreams and overcoming obstacles. Book one, Lori, the story of a swimmer with Olympic aspirations, came out in 2004. The following year, Sarah was published, the story of a couple searching for trust; James, about an abuse survivor, came out in 2006; and just this spring, Mike, about a man consumed by guilt, was released.

The fifth book, Heather, will be delayed until the fall of 2008 or possibly 2009, Ms. Wolfe said, because she is busily devoting these days to starting her own publishing company, thus promoting her own works as well as help other authors.

"I already do 75 percent of everything," she said. "The only thing I don't do is format the books and send them to the printer."

In an era when steamy sells, Ms. Wolfe has managed to remain steadfast in her portrayal of wholesomeness.

"I keep in mind that real life is not 'Desperate Housewives,'" she said. "I find with parents, looking for something for their teen, they want something that promotes the right thing to do. I think most people are looking to do the right thing."

Most of her work is done from home -- a challenge she says, because of the distractions.

"You can look around -- dishes, laundry, playing with the cats."

Much of her time is spent on the computer.

"If you do not have a Web presence, you're dead in the water in this day and age," she said. She keeps a blog about five times a week, sometimes choosing one of her characters and writing in his or her voice.

But even after developing a Web presence that has connected her to fans all around the world, she still loves to meet her fans in person. She is booked for book signings every weekend from now until Christmas and estimates that in a little over three years, she has made more than 200 store appearances.

"At book signings I'm very unique. I don't sit. I walk around the store. I may give out roses at Valentine's, wear a little elf hat at Christmas. I have helped people find a book in the store. I just have a lot of fun talking to people," she said.

Her desire to motivate others to pursue and achieve their dreams came from her own dream, not only to become a published author but to be an inspiration.

"I have continued that dream all the way through all the books. So whenever I meet someone, my big question will be, 'Do you want to get inspired and achieve your dreams?'" she said.

And yet, admittedly, much of what she writes about doesn't necessarily come from personal experience but rather from the desire to create good, worthwhile stories. There are aspects in all her characters that Ms. Wolfe might otherwise not explore, so she has been able to live vicariously through each.

"My first book, about an Olympic swimmer, is something I've never done. (So) I learned about that," she said. "I didn't go to college, yet all my characters go to college.

"One character became an assistant coach for Clemson. I'm 5 foot 3 inches and don't play basketball, so I had to learn a lot about that."

So she contacted a coach at Clemson and asked all sorts of questions.

"She was so wonderful to give me all this information," she said.

The pay-offs come often, going beyond any paycheck.

"It's in the e-mails and the letters that I will get from fans, especially the ones that it made such a difference to them, inspired them not to wait any longer on their dreams," she said.

"That reminds me why I'm doing this. It's universal that we all want to make a difference, even if it's only for one person."

And her dreaming is not over yet. After she finishes establishing the publishing company, she will finish her fifth "Circle of Friends" book and then embark on a new adventure -- becoming a science fiction author.

It will be about two brothers and a war, although not on this planet. No females whatsoever, she said, since "male characters have been the easiest to write about."

The story is a long time coming.

"It was the first story I ever started writing at 13," she said. "Of course it's morphed quite a bit since then."

Now 41, as she reflects on the career she has carved out, Ms. Wolfe shrugs off accolades.

"I'm red-headed and stubborn, going ahead the only path I know," she said.

"What I have done isn't anything special. When I see what other authors have done, I think, 'I'm still way back here,' but then someone who's never published a book may think I've accomplished something. So if I can pass that on and share encouragement and hope for others who want to send a query letter or publish a book, I want to do that."