Wacky Florists and Diana Prusik: Delivery!

Fun, Hilarious, tear-jerking. Those are a few words that come to mind when thinking about Diana Prusik’s, Delivery. I met Diana at the 2010 Writing for the Soul Conference. She and her husband are wonderful, God-loving people! 

Note: I had to retype everything Diana said due to funky glitches. If there are any errors, they are all mine, sadly. 🙂

Everyone, meet Diana! Diana, meet everyone!

Diana Prusik holds a bachelor’s degree in English, graduating summa cum laude as an honors scholar in English, and a master’s degree in secondary education. She served as a Parents as First Teachers parent educator and an English instructor on the middle school, high school, and community college levels. In 2005, she departed from her education career in order to create art, photography, and fiction. A happily married mother of four, she lives in her native Sullivan Missouri, where she draws and paints in her in-home studio, searches for God’s beauty with her camera lens, and writes with every opportunity the Lord grants her. She is a member of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and American Christian Fiction Writers.

Her debut novel Delivery placed three times in the Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel contest: 2008 finalist, 2009 semifinalist, and 2010 finalist. Diana’s first place of employment, a small-town floristry rich with story ideas, inspired Delivery. She is blessed to still work there part-time as a floral designer, a position she has held since 1981.

Tell us about your road to publication.

I began writing Delivery with no idea how I would find a publisher. I studied literature and taught English for years, but I knew nothing about the publishing industry. Then in the summer of 2008, I read Tom Morrisey’s, In High Places. In the novel’s back matter, I learned about the Christian Writers Guild. Upon visiting the Guild’s website, I discovered the annual Operation First Novel contest.

With fewer than twenty chapters written, I set to work, completing the first draft in time to meet the contest’s October 1 deadline by overnight mail. Amazingly, Delivery became one of four 2008 finalists. At the 2009 Writing for the Soul conference, I received manuscript feedback from experts like Jerry B. Jenkins, Brandilyn Collins, and Tyndale editor Jan Stob. Through attending the 2009 and 2011 Writing for the Soul Conferences and networking via email and Facebook, I built relationships with wrter friends like C.J. Darlington and Jennifer Slattery, who also offered valuable feedback. I scoured writing blogs, followed author/agent/editor Facebook posts and links, and devoured novel after novel. With the editorial assistance of teaching colleague and and dear friend Carol Lueken and other early readers, I revised, revised, revised—and prayed. Twice more, I submitted to Operation First Novel, all the while striving to improve my manuscript. Delivery placed two more times: 2009 semifinalist and 2010 finalist.

Through entering those contests, attending conferences, and lifting countless prayers, I gained Tyndale’s interest. As a result, I learned in April 2011 that Tyndale selected Delivery as one of four fiction titles to be released as part of its Digital First initiative. Amazon launched the e-book in late June, and other e-tailers soon followed. I wake up every morning needing to remind myself this isn’t a dream. If it is, please let me sleep!

You aren’t dreaming! That’s amazing. So tell us how Delivery was born. Pardon the pun…or not!

Personal crises like my mother’s battle with cancer, on son’s brain surgery, and another sons’ car accident taught me that God does some of His most amazing work during some of our toughest times. He works through our social circles.  He works through our professional circles. And yes, He works through flower shops, which often act as community hubs. From birth to death and everything in between, flower shops see it all, including the one I’ve worked at for over thirty years. When my growing understanding of God melded with my decades of florist experience, Delivery begged to be told.

God does do some amazing things in tough times. I’m glad He’s allowed you to bring glory to Him, through them. Delivery was a perfect title. How did you come up with it?

Delivery has been the title since Day One. The idea literally popped into my head (divine intervention?) before I had the storyline worked out. My protagonist works in a flower shop. She yearns for deliverance from guilt, grief, etc. She stumbles upon key scripture that contains the word. The title fits the story on multiple levels.

I agree! There’s lots of humor in your book. I love Greta’s antics and the banter between sisters. Are you as funny outside your book?

I’m usually the one laughing, not causing the laughter. While I may not be very funny in my daily life, I’m blessed to have one of the zaniest friends on earth. Her antics remind me how therapeutic laughter can be, convincing me that a novel with issues as serious as Delivery’s requires a few good doses of humor. When times are hard, who doesn’t feel better after a good chuckle?

Your blend of perfectly times comedic relief was exactly what I needed in between tears. If you could cast your characters on-screen. Who would play Livi and her sister Gretta (as adults)?
Livi requires an actress who can let her character’s inward struggle seep through her façade, hardened yet vulnerable. Helen Hunt gets my vote. Or maybe Reese Witherspoon.
Gretta demands an actress who can handle heavy scenes but who doesn’t take herself too seriously. She needs to be comfortable performing wacky antics and providing comic relief. Nia Vardalos, Sandra Bullock, or Anne Hathaway could fill the roll—after adding a few extra pounds.

I can see Helen and Sandra for sure! Especially  Sandra at City Hall at Christmas!

Before you go, tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself.
I I have such a knack for stopping hiccups that other teachers often sent hiccupping students to my classroom to be cured.
2.      I LOVE the mountains, but I’m so terrified of heights that I have hiked mountain trails in tears. During one such sob fest at Glacier National Park, fear so paralyzed me that I could neither continue climbing nor descend. After much coaxing (and a few sighs and eye rolls!), my husband convinced me to bury my face in the back of his shirt and clench his belt while he led the way, inch by inch, to lower ground. Even after this, I can’t wait for my next trip to snow-covered peaks!
3.      I play Pokeno once a month with eleven girlfriends. The game, when we stop chatting long enough to play it, requires using poker-style chips (We rebels use flat marbles—they’re prettier!) to cover thumbnailed images of playing cards arranged in a Bingo-like grid on game cards. The goal? To be the first player to cover the row—like Bingo. My problem? Numbers intimidate me, and unless they are face cards or aces, playing cards are numbered. My solutions? I turn my game card sideways. In my math-challenged brain, this makes numbers less noticeable, allowing me to concentrate on my marked rows. There’s a reason I taught English instead of math, folks!

I’m with you on the whole math thing. No. Can. Do. Thanks for being with us today, Diana! It’s been fun. I thoroughly enjoyed Delivery. Congratulations.
Here’s a peek at Delivery:

Livi finds new purpose in her troubled life when she joins her family’s small-town florist shop.  There, the strong and wacky Wilson’s Florist gang monitors the pulse of Mount Helicon, where customers carry stories even the local newspaper does not contain. Tales of birth and death, sickness and sorrow, love and betrayal, and even forgiveness—Livi hears them all. Privy to some of the community’s deepest secrets, she sometimes wishes she didn’t know so much, especially when news arrives that a dear family friend is dead. Faced with servicing his funeral, she is blasted with painful memories she’s struggled for decades to ignore. Soon, guilt and grief over childhood and adult tragedies close in. Instead of turning to loved ones or God for comfort, she leans on alcohol, her long-time clandestine companion—but secrets rarely escape the close-knit flower shop crew, who makes Livi’s business its own. Fumbling through life’s challenges together, the Wilson gang often delivers more than flowers, yet when Livi needs delivery, can the bonds of faith and friendship dissolve her defenses? 

You can connect with Diana on Facebook, Facebook author page, twitter, her blog, and her website.

Question for you: What’s your favorite flower and why?
*Thanks to Tyndale for the complimentary book, via Netgalley. All opinions are mine.