I’ve worked in the financial services industry now for thirty years. I crunch numbers every day, advise leaders, and I’m a whiz with a spreadsheet. On the surface, none of these skills seem to correlate with writing fiction. But many skills I use in my day job are a huge help to me with my writing and publishing.
Writing fiction requires the author to carefully structure a story in such a way that he or she can pull the readers through, from beginning to end, by keeping them wanting more. It’s fun when the words flow out of my imagination and onto the paper, but it helps when I have an outline to keep me moving in the right direction. My years of walking people through their financial “stories” help me anticipate questions and weave storylines.
Beyond the writing itself, being an author is a business. We juggle expenses, advertising and brand building, much like every other business. Skills I’ve learned in my day job help here, too.
If you’ve been wanting to try something on the side, I encourage you to do so. You’ll be amazed at how many of the skills you already possess are transferrable.
I’m in the middle of publishing my first series. I published my first book, Whispering Pines, in September 2017, and the second, Tangled Beginnings, one year later. The third in the series is currently with my editor. While he works his magic with my manuscript, I’m starting to outline my fourth in the series.
I struggle to assign one specific genre to my series. I focus on modern day issues many of us face and include plenty of drama, mystery, and romance to entertain. The stories revolve around a tight-knit family and the challenges they tackle, often together. Each of the books in the series will focus on one of the family members and how they can best use the inheritance they’ve received from their Aunt Celia. All are parents, each facing financial, romantic and parenting struggles.
I’m proud to focus much of my storylines on people in their forties and older. I think there is room in the crowded world of books for stories that explore life from this vantage point, where perhaps people can capitalize on some hard-earned wisdom of their own to make better choices as they move forward. I love to give my characters the opportunity to redesign their own lives, to grow and find new ways to thrive.
Who are your writing role models?
I admire the work of so many authors and struggle to name just a few. I come across new authors every day that inspire me with both their words and their actions.
On the fiction side, authors Nora Roberts, Katherine Robards, Stephanie Meyer and J.K. Rowling amaze me. They’ve already accomplished so many of the things I’m working towards. Their ability to produce works that literally entertain and inspire millions is mind-boggling. When I read fiction, I’m looking for entertainment. I want a book that will pull me in and keep me there until I’ve reached the end. I want stories I can lose myself in. As an author, I want to “be” like these women when I grow up! And since I’m already fifty-two, there’s no time to waste.
I’ve also read plenty of non-fiction through the years, much of it focused on self-development. John Maxwell’s and Jack Canfield’s books have provided me with invaluable tools and inspiration to develop big goals and find the time and desire to make those dreams come true. Joanna Penn is a selfless giver when it comes to helping other authors learn and grow their author businesses. I’m an avid reader of her books and blogs. I never miss her weekly podcasts. Finally, I owe much to Robert and Kim Kiyosaki’s books. Reading Rich Dad Poor Dad was a life-changing event for me. It opened my eyes to so many more possibilities.
Authors have the ability to impact the lives of others positively. I’m thankful to so many of them that have helped shape me through the years.
How do you balance your day-to-day commitments with your writing life?
I don’t sleep nearly as much as I used to! It’s funny how when you find that thing that lights you up, even hard work doesn’t feel like “work.” I’m usually up by 5:00 a.m. during the week which gives me a solid two hours to dedicate to my writing every day. Two of our three kids are grown and out of the house. Our third is a senior in high school this year. She’s often busy in the evenings so I’ll write when I can at night, too. I’ll even use an occasional vacation day and spend the whole day “pretending” I’m a full-time author.
I start each day with a list of the things I want to accomplish in regards to my writing. I tailor it around other commitments, but a day never passes when I don’t at least touch it in some way. If I go too many days without getting actual words down on paper (or into my laptop), I start to feel untethered. I need my writing time to feel truly fulfilled.
What are your other passions outside of writing?
Family comes first. Time with our kids and extended family is a priority. We are lucky to spend much of this time at the lake. We have a lake cabin back in our hometown and work hard to create many special memories out there.
I love spending the occasional Saturday morning at an auction. I’ll pick up vintage pieces I can repurpose in our home or even help our kids start to decorate their new homes.
And, of course, I love having a good book going at all times. Or two, or three. I never feel I have enough time to read everything I’d like to read. Audiobooks while driving or getting some exercise help.
It’s all about filling the nooks and crannies of our days with things that make us smile.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
I’d just like to encourage anyone that has been toying with the idea of adding something additional to what may already feel like an insane schedule, to figure out a way to make it happen if it’s important to you. Life is too short as it is. Start now, see where it will take you, and enjoy the process.
Life is full of gifts and we should keep our eyes open to all the possibilities. My weekly blog explores some of these gifts. If you’d like to read more, please find my blog and information related to my books and writing work at http://www.kimberlydiedeauthor.com. You can also find me on Facebook @KimberlyDiedeAuthor.
Whispering Pines, Book 1 of Celia’s Gifts
Summers at Whispering Pines defined Renee Clement’s childhood. Days meant swimming and sun, nights meant ghost stories and campfires. Best of all, Whispering Pines meant time with Celia, her favorite aunt.
Through the years, Celia would remain Renee’s most steadfast confidant, but trips to Whispering Pines would fade to memories. Raising kids alone and a demanding career consumed Renee’s life. Now Celia is gone and Renee suddenly finds her twenty year career in shambles.
Promising herself she will look for a new job in January, Renee is determined to make the most of her unexpected time off. But when mysterious events begin to swirl around her kids, her worries compound.
A spontaneous trip, meant to relieve the growing pressures and soothe Renee’s battered pride, could turn out to be so much more when she finds herself alone on a moonlit beach, half-a-world away, with a handsome stranger.
How can Renee keep her family safe as she works to rebuild their lives? Does she dare take another chance at love? Celia’s final gift may provide answers, but there are risks. Renee wishes she could seek comfort and advice from her dear aunt, but Celia’s recent death has left a void. Why can’t things be simple, the way they were when she spent summers at Whispering Pines?
Kimberly Diede’s first novel, Whispering Pines, was inspired by her real-life “Aunt Celia,” Mary K. Nierling. Aunt Mary was a generous, extraordinary, slightly formidable woman who excelled in a “man’s world” in the mid-1900s. The Celia’s Gifts series is Kimberly’s way of honoring her great-aunt and the legacy she left behind.
An avid life-long reader, Kimberly would occasionally read until the sun rose, before adult responsibilities made the habit unsustainable. Her love of reading has evolved into a love of writing as a creative outlet from the demands of thirty years in corporate America. She is currently at work on future novels in her Celia’s Gifts series.
Kimberly lives in North Dakota with her family and spends as much time as possible at the lake in the summertime.