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Member Spotlight: Diane V Phelps

author Diane Phelps and her book Needle in a Haystack

Why is writing important to you and why do you think it’s an important medium for the world? Creative expression is extremely important to me. I fill my life with art and books, especially in the unsettling times we live in today. These are my safe places. I believe I have important stories to share that will help others to learn about the world around them, especially children. In this age of disinformation spread via the internet, books and other published materials are more important than ever to sort the truth from untruths.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer’s block? My writer’s block is affected by my inability to set aside enough time for my craft. I allow many other things to intrude on my writing space and realize I have not accomplished what I had hoped for that day. I usually do not sit down to write until I have a subject idea firmly in mind. I jump in and start writing, often in longhand—I’m a nonfiction pantser.

What is your favorite time to write? I write almost exclusively in the morning. That’s when my mind is still sharp and I can control distractions. My other favorite times are whenever I can grab some quiet time—airplanes, coffee shops, libraries, road trips, whatever.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received and would like to impart to other writers? Believe in yourself and your writing! Who gave me this advice? I had a teacher in sixth grade that is an example of the influence a good teacher can have on a student, maybe change their lives. Mr. Rybak talked to me about my writing assignments and coached me to improve my work and persevere with rewrites. He started me on the writer’s path.

What excites you most about being a writer in today’s age? I just published my fifth book. People ask me which one is my favorite or caused the most stress to publish. All of them. I write mostly nonfiction for both kids and adults and love the research aspect. Must be the former librarian in me. The internet allows you to plug into information on the other side of the world, contact people of interest easily, share your work with a critique group and hunt down materials that light up the story. Checking facts, if not double checking, has become more important (or it should be) so readers can evaluate truthful ideas for themselves.

Diane V. Phelps’s Needle in a Haystack: How Clyde W. Tombaugh Found an Awesome New World is out now.