Dianna Dorisi Winget's Blog: Middle Grade Matrix

July 8, 2020

A Brand New Book

Hi Everyone
Haven't had too much to blog about lately--especially with all the craziness going on in the world. But I have some wonderful news to share now. Please allow me to introduce you to my brand new historical fiction, Three against the North. It's set in 1939 Juneau, Alaska and is loosely based on Alaska's extraordinary bull terrier, Patsy Ann.

I first learned of Patsy Ann in 2002 when my husband and I visited Juneau by cruise ship. The first thing I noticed after disembarking was a beautiful bronze statue of a dog. Being a dog lover, I had to know her story. As soon as I got home I started to research. It turns out that Patsy Ann was born deaf, yet still possessed the amazing ability to "hear" every ship that docked at Juneau--long before it ever showed up. Owned by no one, but loved by everyone, Patsy Ann quickly became Juneau's official greeter and an treasured canine citizen. There's a lot more to her story, but I don't want to give too much away. But I will tell you that I've paired her with young Penny Brighton, a girl who's so eager to prove her worth and bravery that she tends to run headlong into danger. If you love dogs and adventure, I think you may really enjoy Three against the North. Let me know if you do!

Happy reading!

Three against the North
Three against the North by Dianna Dorisi Winget
Just Left of Lucky
Just Left of Lucky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
The Hidden Power of Dandelions
The Hidden Power of Dandelions by Dianna Dorisi Winget
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Published on July 08, 2020 12:54 Tags: books, dogs, historical-fiction, juneau-alaska, middle-grade

August 22, 2019

The Hidden Power of Dandelions

When you're an author, exciting announcements often come few and far between. That's because there's nothing, and I mean nothing, quick about publishing! It seems to be the one industry that refuses to keep up with the fast pace of life today. That's why I'm thrilled to finally announce the release of my new middle grade: THE HIDDEN POWER OF DANDELIONS
The Hidden Power of Dandelions by Dianna Dorisi Winget

The seed for this book was planted many years ago by an article in a local newspaper about two kids who dropped a large rock from a top an overpass, seriously injuring several people in a car below. For some reason, the event never left my mind. Then about three years ago, a similar event made the news, rekindling the idea anew. I wondered why anyone would do something so dangerous. Peer pressure? A desire for attention? Just because it sounded fun at the time? And then what about after? How would it feel to know you'd really hurt, possibly killed someone? How would you live with the guilt and regret? Even worse, what if the person you injured was someone you knew ... or even loved?

I also wondered about the victims and their families. How would it feel to have your life changed, perhaps forever, by a reckless prank? Could you forgive something like that? Could you move on? All these thoughts melded and mixed together for quite some time before finally transforming into the story of 12 year old Rylee--a young girl whose father is severely injured in just such an accident, effectively ending his dream job as a firefighter and leaving the family reeling.

THE HIDDEN POWER OF DANDELIONS is both sobering and thoughtful, hopeful and inspiring. I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.
A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget
Just Left of Lucky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
A Smidgen of Sky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
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Published on August 22, 2019 08:50 Tags: fiction, firefighting, middle-grade, new-releases, the-hidden-power-of-dandelions

June 6, 2019

Losing a Best Friend

I lost my best friend yesterday. My beloved senior dashound Sassie. She was thirteen and had been struggling with some type of neurological issue the last several years. The vet never could confirm exactly what is was since her hips and spine were okay. It had more to do with the nerves and brain not communicating properly. She got by great for most of her life, but this past year there was a noticeable increase in her wobbliness and lack of coordination and balance. But dashounds have such big, tough hearts she just made due and kept on. I finally decided she’d struggled enough. And even though I feel it was the right thing for her, I’m still full of a jumble of remorse, guilt, grief and heartache. Was it really the right time? Was it really the right decision? I feel her absence acutely and her presence everywhere. I felt guilty when I fed Stella her dinner last evening. It was by far Sassie’s favorite time of day. How could she be buried out in the yard when she should have been whining with eager anticipation at my feet.

I’ve been through this before. I know it will get better. But right now it just hurts. Rest easy my sweet Sassie. I’m sure there will never be another as silky, as brave and as devoted as you.
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Published on June 06, 2019 07:49 Tags: dogs, loss-of-a-pet

May 9, 2019

Surviving a New Puppy-Part Three

So for anyone who doesn’t already know this, let me tell you that a puppy is very similar to a toddler! They need constant supervision, and if they disappear for even thirty seconds here are a few things they may be up to: tugging at a loose thread to unravel your rug, peeing behind the recliner, tasting a house plant that may or may not be toxic, standing up on the laundry basket to peek inside, stealing clothespins from your basket, mouthing your older dogs ceramic food bowl ...you get the idea. LOL! But overall, Stella is a pretty mellow puppy. I feel like I make a hundred trips outside a day encouraging her to potty. She’s getting the idea for sure, but I know it will still be quite awhile before she can be trusted in the house. One challenge is the fact that her kennel is too big so she often pees in it if I’m gone too long. I guess she’ll do a little better as she gets older, but I’m not sure what to do about it as I’m trying to use her little crate just for sleeping overnight. Another challenge is finding enough chew toys and treats. None of the quality stuff is cheap let me tell you, no wonder the pet industry is a billion dollar one, My day is still beginning at about 5:15 each morning, but I’m not complaining since she sleeps great from about 10 pm until then.

Has she totally disrupted my writing routine. Yep. Am I tired? Yep. Is she worth it? Definitely. She does so many clever, funny, simply adorable things that all is forgiven. Anything in this crazy world that can make you laugh and provide comfort is a great thing. Senior dashound Sassie still doesn’t like her much, but she’s being tolerant, and my husband is doing just fine. We’ll see what this next week brings. :)
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Published on May 09, 2019 09:11 Tags: dogs, new-puppy

May 5, 2019

Surviving a new puppy—Part Two

(for those following my new puppy adventure)

So I’m relieved to report that the introduction between new puppy, Stella, and senior dashound, Sassie, didn’t go too badly. As expected, Sassie is not impressed but is being mostly tolerant.

I was super nervous about what to expect the first night. Stella was adopted from a rescue shelter who also has her mother, aunt and siblings, so Stella was definitely used to being with family. I tried to prepare as best I could. I bought a stuffed toy with a heatable little packet of buckwheat so she’d have a warm “body” to cuddle with in her crate, planned to play her some classical music from a free music app, and warned my “dog liking, but not dog loving” husband that the first few nights would either be semi-bad or truly horrible. Translation: there may be sporadic whining and whimpering for a few hours OR there maybe howling, yipping and crying ALL NIGHT LONG! My plan was to put Stella’s crate in my office, which is as far away from our bedroom as our small home permits. Earplugs were an option. (For us, not Stella.)

Through the evening it became pleasantly apparent that Stella is a fairly calm puppy. She seemed to like her kennel in the living room and wasn’t too much of a whiner. After much deliberation, we decided to try putting her crate in our bedroom, not far from Sassie, who gave us a withering look and a sigh. So guess what happened?

Stella went right to sleep with NO whining or crying. I was so shocked I couldn’t fall asleep myself, LOL!! I heard her stirring at 3:15, so I took her outside and waited 5 minutes for her to do something more than crunch a dry leaf she discovered in one of our tree wells. Boy, the stars are bright and beautiful at that time in the morning!

She settled right back down until 5:15 when Sassie decided it was time for her morning cookie, which woke Stella, so yeah, our day began early. But hey, it went much better than expected. Now that it’s day two, I’ve run into a few issues, but I’ll save those for my next post :) By the way, if you want to see Stella’s adorable little mug I’ve pinned her pic to my Twitter profile @DiannaMWinget
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Published on May 05, 2019 09:29 Tags: new-puppy, puppy

May 4, 2019

Surviving a New Puppy

So I’ve finally done it! After 20 years of adopting older dogs, I’ve taken the plunge and adopted a puppy! An adorable eleven week old Beagle/dashound mix. Have I forgotten just how much work puppies are? Of course I have! The last time I had one I also had a two year old daughter who turned housebreaking into a nightmare. Every time I’d take the puppy outside to potty, my daughter would pick her up! That part I remember well. This time my biggest concern is my 13 year old dashound, Sassie, who I know won’t be pleased with any competition for my affection. Will she be tolerant or mean to the new puppy? By the way, I’m naming her Stella. Will she be a joy or a nightmare? How long before I get another good nights rest? Stay tuned.
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Published on May 04, 2019 07:01 Tags: new-puppy, puppy

February 6, 2019

2018 Recap--Part II

I had great intentions to mention a couple more of my favorite books of 2018 a few weeks back. But ... you know how things go. Anyway, better late than never. So here they are:

Scent of the Missing, by Susannah Charleson

This is a fascinating and touching true story of the love and partnership between a search and rescue dog--a Golden Retriever named Puzzle, and his owner/trainer, the author. The back of the book calls it mesmerizing and captivating, and it's both those things and much more. You don't have to convince me of the incredible bond between dogs and people, but I didn't fully understand just how highly skilled these dogs are. Whether it's searching for a runaway teen, helping to find an elderly patient with dementia, or searching the rubble for earthquake victims, these dogs and their trainers save countless lives each year. Loved it, loved it!
Scent of the Missing Love and Partnership with a Search-and-Rescue Dog by Susannah Charleson
The Sound of Gravel A Memoir by Ruth Wariner
The Sound of Gravel, by Ruth Wariner

This is the powerful, eye opening story of Ruth Wariner, the thirty-ninth of her father's forty-two children, and what it was like growing up in a polygamist family in rural Mexico. Sometimes funny and poignant, other times devastating and violent, this is a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The fact that the author not only survived her childhood, but turned out normal is amazing, as she admits herself. If you like family drama, give this one a try.

So there you have it, two more of my favorites for 2018. Now it's back to my 2019 reading challenge!
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Published on February 06, 2019 13:34 Tags: dogs, favorites, polygymy, search-and-rescue

December 30, 2018

2018 Recap of Books

Just the other day I received an email from the friendly folks at Goodreads letting me know I'd achieved my goal of reading 25 books for the year. YAY! Good for me :)
As I scanned over the list, recalling each one, there were a few surprises. For example, if you asked me what type of book I read most often, I'd self confidently answer, "Definitely fiction." But guess what? Of the 25 titles, 10 were non fiction! Maybe it shouldn't surprise me, but I honestly didn't realize I read so much NF. And then, of course, there were the non-surprises. Like the fact that 5 of the books were about dogs :)

Here's a rough break down: (Don't add these up because some of the titles fall into more than one category.)

5 memoirs
6 middle grade
3 YA
3 chapter books
5 adult fiction
10 non fiction

I enjoyed all of these books to some extent, some more than others, of course. But out of the 25, here are my top two favorites.

Dancing With Rose: Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's, by Lauren Kessler

Dancing With Rose is both moving and eye-opening. It's the true story of a young woman (the author) who is devastated when her mother is ravaged by Alzheimer's. To deal with her pain and to better understand the disease itself, Kessler enlists as a caregiver at a facility that cares for Alzheimer's patients. What she learns, not only about the patients but also about their overworked, underpaid caregivers, is funny, compelling, deeply moving and unforgettable. I recommend this story to anyone, whether Alzheimer's has touched your family or not.

The Tale of Rescue, by Michael J. Rosen

The Tale of Rescue is a chapter book about a Florida family who's trapped by a blizzard in the Appalachian foothills. Panicked and exhausted, the family may well have died if not for the keen ears of a cattle dog from a neighboring farm far off in the distance. This quick read is completely absorbing and realistic, and serves as a sterling example of why dogs are known as mans best friend. This is a children's book, but it's wonderful for any age.

I know I said my TWO favorites, but now I'm feeling guilty for not including a few others I loved. I think there will have to be a part II to this blog post :)

Want to share any of your 2018 favorites?
Dancing with Rose Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer's by Lauren Kessler
The Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen
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Published on December 30, 2018 16:34 Tags: 2018, books, reading-challange

July 17, 2018

Do Reviews Really Matter to an Author?

I blogged on this topic awhile back but decided the message was worth repeating, because sure we all lead crazy, busy lives. But there are still some things we really need to make a few minutes for. This is one of them.

If the title of my post makes you think fan letter, I'd say, well yeah, fan letters are pretty terrific! They're awesome morale boosters, powerful pick me ups, and something authors love to return to time after time.

But ... really, in the crazy, crowded world of today's publishing industry, where most of us feel like tiny minnows in an ocean of sharks, I strongly feel that the greatest gift you can give an author is a review. We live in a review-ruled world--and I'm not just talking books. If you're even an occasional online shopper you already know this. It doesn't matter if you're in need of a new razor, a bedspread, a new iPod, a cruise to Mexico or a motel in some obscure little town--there's bound to be reviews--dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands.

Do you read the reviews before you buy something? I sure do! And why not? As a consumer who tries to wisely spend my money, I benefit greatly by reading the honest reviews of others who have experienced that product or service. For example, I recently found some sheets I wanted to order. They were lovely and a great price. But then I noticed a number of reviewers complained they seemed to run small and were tough to stretch over the mattress. Hmm. I resumed my search.

Not long after, I decided to order a particular dog bed for my dachshund. (And we all know our dogs deserve the very best we can give them, right?) So why did I choose the one I did? Because of the twelve reviews, all were 4-5 stars and said things like, "durable, soft, great quality, my dog loves it." And guess what? All those things were true and she DOES love it. In fact, she's snoozing away on it while I type this. So, I was quick to add my own 5 star review.

So, back to book reviews. If you read a book you like, love, or appreciate in some way, why not write a brief review here on Goodreads, and on Amazon? (These are certainly not the only places you can post it, but may be two of the most helpful to an author). And if it was your child who loved it, help him or her write one. The review doesn't have to be long or complicated--a couple lines will do. Shoot, you can write it once and then cut and paste after that. (My trick) It's fun to share your opinion and goes a long way to encourage other readers to take a chance. This is doubly true if it's a new book, and triply true if it's self published. Believe me, the author will be so very thankful and will likely repay you by writing another book you'll enjoy! Now that's what I call a win-win. Don't you?
A Smidgen of Sky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
A Sliver of Sun (Piper Lee DeLuna, #2) by Dianna Dorisi Winget
A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget
Just Left of Lucky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
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Published on July 17, 2018 19:13 Tags: authors, books, reviews

April 20, 2018

Mark Twain Award Recap

I just returned from my trip to Osage Beach, Missouri to attend the Missouri Association of School Librarians' (MASL) Conference, and accept the Mark Twain readers award. It was a great trip filled with "firsts." My first visit to Missouri, the fabulous St. Louis Zoo, beautiful Tan Tar A Resort, and of course, my first Mark Twain award!

I'm not sure how many school librarians were in attendance, but I'm guessing it was at least 600, many of whom I got to meet personally during my workshops and book signings. How fun to be surrounded by so many book lovers! I also got to share the story behind my latest book, JUST LEFT OF LUCKY, and share the story of my publishing journey so far.

During the awards banquet, my award presenter was a smart, sweet 5th grader named Kennedy, who made me tear up by expressing her heartfelt love and enthusiasm for A MILLION WAYS HOME. I was also privileged to be in the company of the three other award winners--Emily Arnold McCully, author of Strongheart: The World's First Movie Star Dog, April Henry, author of many YA mysteries, and Amy Engel, author of The Book of Ivy.

What a fun and enjoyable experience overall! I plan to post a few pics to my website soon, so check back. Now, back to writing.
A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget
Just Left of Lucky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
A Smidgen of Sky by Dianna Dorisi Winget
A Sliver of Sun (Piper Lee DeLuna, #2) by Dianna Dorisi Winget
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Middle Grade Matrix

Dianna Dorisi Winget
A place to share tips, questions, answers, dilemmas, complaints, and the many joys of writing for ages 9-12.
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