Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Delaware Detectives: Interview with Author Dana Rongione

Today we have another fantastic author on tour with The Virtual Book Tour Cafe. Please join me in welcoming Dana Rongione as we chat about her book, The Delaware Detectives.

What has been your greatest challenge as a writer? Have you been able to overcome it? My greatest challenge as a writer has been in marketing myself and my work.  I am painfully shy, and I despise to be the center of attention. I love spending time alone in my office doing research or typing away, but when it comes time to promote my work, I'm at a loss.  I lack the boldness and confidence to stand up and say, "Hey, look at what I've written.  It's really good, and if you don't read it, you're really missing out."  If I mention my work at all, it's in a roundabout way.  To a degree, I've gotten better, but to be honest, I'm not sure if online marketing has been helpful or not.  It's definitely been easier for me to promote my work online, but I fear I'll use that as an excuse to not market offline.  In a nutshell, I'm a work in progress.

Is writing a full-time career for you? If not, how else do you spend your work day?
That's a loaded question.  I try to work full-time in my writing, but it doesn't usually work out that way.  Between housework, household errands, teaching at a local college at least one night a week, and serving as church pianist, I often struggle to find time to sit down and write.  During the past year, I've made more of an effort to stick to an everyday writing routine to make sure it doesn't find its way to the back burner.  The way I see it is if I don't take myself seriously as a writer, no one else will take me seriously either.

Do you have a favorite character in The Delaware Detectives? Who and why?
Typically, the main character is the favorite, but in this case, I'd have to say my favorite character is Aunt Sally.  She's one of the few characters in the book who is not based on someone I know, but she's just so much fun.  She's odd, but that's part of why I like her.  Maybe I just enjoy her because I can say without a doubt that she's crazier than I am.  Who knows?

What message do you hope readers take away from the book? 
There aren't many middle-grade books on the market today that aren't filled with violence, profanity, rebellion and above all, disrespect for adults.  I'm so tired of reading about parents who are clueless and "know-it-all" kids.  If nothing else, I want readers to walk away from The Delaware Detectives realizing that a book doesn't need to contain those negative elements to be good and entertaining. On a deeper level, I hope readers (especially young ones) take away a sense of responsibility.  The things they do and say can impact others, and it is their responsibility to guard against inappropriate words and actions.  If everyone would think before they acted or spoke, the world would be a much better place.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The plot is pure imagination, but the characters and settings are all based on reality.  I was born in Delaware.  My family moved to South Carolina when I was four years old, but we traveled to Delaware quite often to see family and friends.  I can recall countless visits to my Pop-Pop's (Grandfather's) house, where my siblings and I would explore the attic in search of long-forgotten treasure.  There was no stamp collection, but there were hundreds of old stamps just lying around in boxes and even on the floor.  I used my Pop-Pop's house as a visual when creating the main setting for the book.  Even the creepy, old owl was a real part of his house (and just thinking about it still gives me the willies).

As for the characters, Abby and Jamie (the two main characters) are based on my niece and nephew, although I tweaked their personalities to make them more dynamic characters for a book of this type.

Do you share any personality traits with Abby or Jamie?
My neice, Abby, is often accused of being my daughter.  She is so much like me that it's pretty scary.  She is also painstakingly shy and would rather read a book than attend a party with a lot of people she doesn't know.  Like me, she is a perfectionist and has a meltdown whenever she can't accomplish something in the way she thinks it should be done.  We're even guilty of using the same hand gestures in the same way and saying things at the same time in the exact same voice and with the exact same reflection.  So, to answer your question, yes, I definitely share some personality traits with Abby, but not so much with Jamie.  He's more like my husband.

Do you have to be alone or have quiet to write?
Yes and no.  I definitely write best when I'm alone and have no interruptions.  (You can ask all those who have called me during a writing session only to discover I have turned my phone off.)  However, I have never been a fan of absolute silence.  I'm a music lover, and I always have music playing in the background while I work.  I prefer soft instrumental music when writing as it seems to have a calming effect while also inspiring me.  Beyond that, the only other noise I allow in my office is the soft snores of my two dogs while they sleep under my desk or beside my chair.

Is there any place and time in the world and in history that you would like to visit?
I've always been fascinated with medieval history, specifically the legends of Camelot.  I think I would enjoy a BRIEF visit to that time-frame so that I could get an authentic "take" on everything, but I certainly wouldn't want to stay long.  I don't think I would enjoy medieval fare or a trip to the garterobe.  And I can say for certain that I wouldn't enjoy the clothing or the smells.

Who or what has most influenced your writing?
That would have to be my husband, Jason.  When I first told Jason that I felt the Lord calling me to leave my teaching job and go into full-time writing, he was completely supportive.  Even when I had doubts, he urged me forward.  During the times of success and the times of failure, he's been right by my side, offering advice and encouragement.  He's never complained about the minimal income I contribute, but instead deters me when I contemplate going out and getting a "real job".  Were it not for him, I don't think I'd still be writing today.  I think I would have probably thrown in the towel long ago. (Of course, then I'd just have more laundry to do! Ha ha!)

Which authors and books have most influenced your writing style?
I've always believed my writing style to be a blend of my two favorite authors, Max Lucado and Karen Scalf Linamen.  I strive to weave a message of truth, hope and encouragement with humor and personal anecdotes.  When people read my work, I want them to feel the same as I do when I read the works of Lucado or Linamen -- "Hey, this a real person with real problems, just like me!  But they made it through their storm, and now I believe I can make it through mine too."

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote many stories throughout my childhood, but I wrote my first book when I was in middle school (although I don't remember what grade).  It was never published, and the only readers were my classmates and maybe some of my family.  It was called The Miami Vacation and was written in a spiral notebook.  It was the story of a man and woman who met during a vacation on the beach.  The vacation turned sour when the man was shot.  To be honest, I don't remember much more of the plot, although I think I still have that notebook up in the attic.  The story must have been an okay read because even though I was very unpopular in school, everyone who read it loved it. . . although I'd probably cringe if I read it now!

What is your favorite movie based on a book, where you preferred the movie?
I really enjoy The Lord of the Rings trilogy on video, but I must admit I can't make it through the books.  Tolkein can get so bogged down on description that my mind goes to sleep.  He's a great writer.  There's no doubt about that.  I just have a hard time weeding through the details.

Hands down, I prefer the Narnia books to the movies; however, there is one scene in the movie, Prince Caspian, that gives me goosebumps every time I see it.  It's the scene where Edward destroys the crystal wall which houses the White Witch.  When the pieces fall to the floor, the others stare numbly at the carving of Aslan that had moments before been hidden by the crystal wall.  What a picture!

The only other book I've read that I think I preferred the movie was Ella Enchanted.  I can't give you an exact reason, but the book left me feeling discouraged while the movie is uplifting.

Laptop, desktop or notebook and pen for writing?
It truly depends on my mood and my location.  For the most part, I prefer my desktop, but I'm not at all opposed to the laptop or paper.  There are many times I find myself writing beside a wooded stream or at the top of a mountain.  In these cases, pen and paper work much better since they are lighter to carry and seem to "fit in" better with the environment.  Our home doesn't have central heat but only a wood stove in the living room, so during the winter months, it's a common sight to see me stretched out on the couch with my laptop.  (I know--it's a hard life, but someone has to live it!)

Do you believe in writer’s block? Has it ever happened to you?
Oh yes, I firmly believe in writer's block.  There is nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank page or a blinking cursor.  I have a daily devotional blog, and often I have a backlog of ideas for my posts.  But every now and then, I find myself staring at the empty post box in a panic.  During those times, I feel a bit like Winnie the Pooh when he visits his "Thoughtful Spot".  I strike myself repeatedly on the head, muttering, "Think, Think, Think."  Needless to say, that doesn't work.  The action I've found the most success with in battling writer's block is to read.  If I'm trying to write a devotion, I'll go read several other devotionals until something reaches out and grabs me.  From there, I think through the topic and within minutes, I'm typing (or writing) away.  The same process works for other topics.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
I've already received a few requests for the next book in The Delaware Detectives series.  The funny thing is that I wrote the ending of the first book in such a way that I could continue the series, or if it didn't go over well, I could just let it go.  I guess, though, the "people" have spoken, and I've already begun the planning stages for the next book.  Before that happens, though, I have a few other books that are nearing publication and need to be finished.  The first one is a Christian Living book entitled Footprints on the Water:  A Detailed Look Into the Miracles of the New Testament.  I also have two devotionals nearing completion and a book for young children that is currently being illustrated.

Where can your readers find you?

My website:
My blog: and
My Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @DRongione
Is your book in Print, ebook or both?  Both, although the only e-book format right now is Kindle, but all other e-book formats should be available by the middle of the summer.

The Book
What do the following have in common: a muntjac deer, a toilet, and a hairless cat? They are three key factors in uncovering a treasure that may or may not exist. But for Abby and Jamie Patterson, these items are essential ingredients to fulfilling their grandfather's greatest desire. Is the fortune real, or are the siblings following a path to nowhere as set down by an eccentric old woman? The quest is on, and time is running out.


Hi! My name is Dana Rongione. (Yes, I know that's a mouthful.) I live in Greenville, SC with my husband, Jason, and my two dogs, Tippy and Mitch.

Having been a Christian for nearly 28 years, I know what it is like to experience both joy in the journey and weariness in well-doing. Currently self-employed as a writer and speaker, I struggle (like many other Christians) to balance the demands of work, family, church, health, chores, etc.

I enjoy all types of writing, but my true joy lies in writing devotionals that will encourage and uplift the weak and weary Christian. This blog, A Word Fitly Spoken, is currently read in over 15 different countries, allowing me the opportunity to spread the message of hope and joy throughout the world. I also have another blog, Song of the Day, that offers the truth of the Word in song.

I currently have three published devotionals and numerous articles in magazines and e-zines across the country. I am available to speak at local ladies' meetings or writers' workshops. You can find out more about me and my ministry by visiting my website at

One Commenter from the tour will win a Kindle Gifted Copy.
May 22 - Meet & Greet at VBT Cafe' Blog
May 24 - Reviewed & Interviewed at Books Are Cool
May 30 - Guest Blogging & Review at Loves 2 Read
May 31 - Guest Blogging at This Author's Life
June 2 - Reviewed at
Books, Books, and More Books
June 5 - Guest Blogging at AZ Publishing Services
June 7 - Interviewed at MK McClintock's Blog
June 11 - Interviewed & Reviewed at A Book Lover's Library
June 13 - Interviewed at BK Walker Books Etc.
June 15 - Guest Blogging with Cindy Vine
June 19 - Interviewed at Unnecessary Musings
June 21 - Guest Blogging at Lori's Reading Corner
June 26 - Interviewed at Hardcover Feedback
June 28 - Interviewed at Reviews & Interviews 



  1. Thank you for joining us today on your tour Dana. It's nice to see that good clean book are being written for younger people - it's rare.

  2. Thanks for having me, MK, and also for your kind words. I agree, it is rare to find clean, rebellion-free books for young readers, and that's one of the reasons I chose to write a book for that age group.

  3. Hi Dana and MK, good to get to know you a little, Dana. Good luck with the sounds like a terrific read. God bless...