Sunday, October 11, 2009

Circle Of Friends and Diane Wolfe

My guest is an inspirational author, Diane Wolfe, who has created an intriguing series called Circle of Friends; a five-book Southern-based series portrays love and friendship overcoming all obstacles.

What intrigues me is her ability to get into the heads of her young characters in such a way that both old and young can enjoy the story. Connect emotionally with the characters and find inspiration as well.

Her stories, like Diane herself, are positive and uplifting. The series focuses on friendships—love between friends, fulfilling your dreams, and how to overcome problems, as well as the challenges all face, but especially teens and young adults.

Having a teen and seeing his close connection with some his friends made me appreciate how Diane presents the problems these young men and women face. I have several nieces and nephews I’m close to who are in their early twenties. I’ve watched and listened as my son as well as his cousins’ talk of problems they’ve had and how they’ve tried to resolve them. Sometimes asking for guidance, sometimes not. Many times they only want a listening ear. They, like us, rely on a circle of friends to give support and advice. Some things aren’t easy to solve, or forgive, regardless of your age and have lasting impact on our lives.

Such is the case with Mike Taylor, the young protagonist in Book IV of Diane’s Circle Of Friends series.

What if a decision compromised your spiritual values?

What if a past mistake went against your very moral foundation?

Could you live with the guilt?

Mike Taylor is the epitome of stability. His family is proud of his academic and athletic achievements at Georgia Tech, and despite the temptations of college life, he has maintained his moral standards. Yet beneath the peaceful surface, Mike is consumed with guilt, fearing condemnation and rejection. A former girlfriend’s abortion and the intense love he feels for his roommate’s wife constantly remind Mike of his failures. Unable to forget and full of shame, he refuses to forgive himself.

When Danielle enters his life, he realizes he can no longer hide the past. Will she be able to reach him or is Mike past the point of redemption?

Book Trailer on YouTube

My Thoughts:

Mike is a good friend, just not good friends with himself. He has his moments of laughter and fun, he cares deeply about his friends (if you’ve read the other stories you see another side of Mike), and has a code of honor. Faith if you will.

At times I wanted to smack him, which is nothing new when dealing with males and young ones in particular (I grew up with seven, very Celtic and southern brothers full of attitude, lol!). There were points in the story I wanted to tell him, get over it for goodness sakes and come out of your miasma of negativity.

Then I reminded myself that the young are harder on themselves than anyone else can be. Life is more black and white with little gray area. I think the gray tends to develop as experience does. Guilt is tough regardless of the age, but young ones Mike’s age, don’t have the life experience yet to put things into perspective and this is what the story is about. Dealing with the blows life hands out, putting them into perspective and making sense of them so you can live life to the full. About moving past mistakes and growth as a person.

Mike is very realistic as a character. Diane did a good job getting into the mind of someone consumed with guilt. She understands males are just as deeply affected by problems of life and emotional issues, as females, but being males they are supposed to be all stoic and tough. They still have to process things emotionally to grow. Some, like Mike, feel things very deeply, especially when they feel they’ve compromised their moral code.

When he meets Danielle he learns about acceptance and forgiveness. Danielle is the perfect foil for him. She’s full of spunk and has a positive attitude. I like how the two of them are together. Danielle is my kind of girl.

This story is by no means negative. It’s a good story about finding inner peace and forgiveness. It touches the heart.

Those that have followed this series will no doubt love this one told in Mike’s point of view and how resolves his guilt and how he faces his future with hope.

Book IV…Mike is such a powerful, engrossing, incredible, beautiful novel. But it still manages to be light hearted, funny and heart felt. There is real emotion and real people in these pages…”

-The Book Pedler -

I had the chance to ask Diane a few questions about Book IV:

  • What's special about your hero? What made you choose Mike?

    Each book in The Circle of Friends follows one of the friends. Mike was briefly mentioned at the end of Book I, but in Book II, he became a central character. His internal struggle with guilt became the focal point of Book IV. He does not possess the strength and leadership of Jason or the survivor instincts of James. Mike is an average young man whose life would’ve been easy and simple if not for one major mistake in his past. And while this slip of character would’ve bothered anyone, Mike’s firm spiritual beliefs cause the incident to haunt him.

    Guilt is a feeling of which many suffer. Our inability to let go of the past and forgive ourselves can seriously hinder our future. The stronger our moral convictions, the more difficult it becomes to move on with our lives. I wanted to explore this situation with Mike and follow the process of healing.

    What was the most fun about writing this story?

    The central location for Book IV was a lot of fun, as I used to live in Albuquerque, NM. Those four years of my life were special, so I enjoyed exploring old haunts and new adventures through Mike and Danielle.

    The books in this series overlap as they move forward in time, so it’s equally delightful to show the progress of the characters from the first three stories. Readers who grow attached to the other characters will continue receiving glimpses into their lives. Until the last page of Book V, their stories never really end!

    What was the hardest to write?

    Nothing in this book presented a real challenge, although I had to really stretch with the character of Danielle. I’m a feisty redhead as well, but Danielle’s life is very different from my own. I also had to balance some tough social issues with a strong spiritual theme.

    My biggest challenge with this series came with Book V’s Heather! The complete opposite of me, it was difficult to get into the head of someone so driven and dominating.

  • What is your greatest challenge as an author and how do you deal with it?

    I’m not with a really big publisher, so exposure is always an issue. My books aren’t displayed front and center in bookstores and the media isn’t pounding at my door for interviews. My books don’t contain vampires, so I’m not flowing with a trend. So it’s an internal battle of frustration and envy sometimes.

Every author has his or her niche and I try to focus on that instead. My books have a unique place and audience, and I do not compromise my values just to sell more books or gain attention. I simply focus on what I do well!

  • When will your next book be published? Can you tell me a bit about it?

Book V wraps up this series and is due out March 16, 2010. Heather has just earned her master’s degree at Duke and taken an assistant coaching job at Clemson. She’s also dealing with annoying player, an incompetent sister, and a parent dying of cancer.

It was the most difficult of the series, too! Heather is one tough cookie, and by Book II, it’s difficult to even like her. I had to take a character who is dominating, selfish, and often not a nice person and through the course of the story, explain the reasons for her negative personality and the decisions she’s made in life. Since each book follows two main characters, I had to incorporate a difficult and flawed male lead as well, and the two butt heads often. Think clash of the titans! However, the resulting story is incredibly powerful and will be a great sendoff of the series.

Thank you Diane for visiting with us Over Coffee and giving us some insights in this delightful series.

You can visit Diane or

Wolfe is the author of a young adult series entitled The Circle of Friends. It follows a group of sports-minded couples through relationships, college and into their early careers. Meant to inspire as well as entertain, these books have been described as “encouragement personified”. This series feature morally grounded, positive stories that appeal to both teens and concerned parents. The stories intertwine as the characters learn that with belief and encouragement, they can achieve anything. Many of today’s young adult novels are salacious & controversial and glorify frequent sexual activity, negative attitudes, and deviant behavior. Wolfe’s series focuses on wholesome and uplifting stories that are suitable for adults and teens alike.

Wolfe’s other upcoming title, “Overcoming Obstacles With SPUNK! The Keys to Leadership & Goal-Setting”, is an inspirational self-help book. The author has tied all of her goal-setting and leadership seminar’s information together into one complete, enthusiastic package! Seven other authors also contribute to this title, which features the five keys to success and summary points for each chapter.

Known as “Spunk On A Stick”, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars on promoting, leadership and goal setting. Ten years associating with a motivation training system and her experience as a foster parent gave her the in-depth knowledge of relationships, personality traits and success principles. The author offers her seminars through community colleges, organizations and clubs. Wolfe travels the East Coast extensively for media interviews and speaking engagements. She averages over one hundred appearances each year, maintains a dozen websites & blogs, manages an online writer’s group, and contribute articles for several other sites. She also does characterization sessions for schools and speaks to writer’s groups.

She began writing as a teenager and was inspired to return by the adage that everyone needs “something to hope for and someone to love”. The author loves people, and her optimism is fueled by her spunky, sanguine personality. Wolfe does not believe in the word impossible and is willing to do whatever it takes to spread the message of hope found within her series. A Christian and a vegetarian, Wolfe enjoys sports and has a passion for roller coasters. Growing up in Salem, Oregon, the author now resides North Carolina with her husband and two cats. She is self-employed and a professional photographer.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Welcome Diane. Blogger didn't like me much tonight. I'll check it out again in the morning or later in the morning, lol!

Help yourself to the coffee but be sure to leave some for me as I'm gonna need and IV attached.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you so much, Sia - it was worth the wait! I am delighted with your take on my book and the character of Mike.

Tonya Kappes said...

Sounds like a really nice uplifting story. I love stories that involve friends and close ties.
Diane, I am glad that you don't compromise what you want to write or how you publish your books. It's more than most do and I admire your courage.
I love the idea of a five book series that follow these friends. I love reading series b/c I like to get invested in the town and the people's life. Thanks for the interview!

Kat Sheridan said...

Sounds like an interesting series, Diane! I like the idea of following a group of friends. And Sia, I agree, young folks, especially young males, do have a hard time realizing that they don't yet have enough experience to understand how to let go of the past and move ahead. Good luck with the whole series, Diane!

~Sia McKye~ said...

You're welcome Diane. I looked it over again this morning and found several mistakes, but we got them straight. I tell it like I see it but it was a story that touches the heart and deals with some very real issues that face us all. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...


You should know Diane was scheduled for FRIDAY, but with all the thunder storms and rain pounding us here, I lost power and DSL, most of two days. Diane was gracious and very patient. I apologize both to my readers and Diane.

I appreciate your patience and for stopping by!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Kat!

And it all worked out, Sia.

One reviewer thought the guilt was a bit over the top, but as you said, men struggle just as much if not more so than women. And this was spiritual guilt and Mike viewed his actions as committing the ultimate sin.

Crystal Clear Proofing said...

Sia it was worth the wait to read your review, interview and your thoughts on the book and the series!

I whole-heartedly agree with Tonya when she commends you, Diane, for not compromising what you write for the purpose of selling, or to jump on the bandwagon of the current genre(s) out there. These books are so enthralling - they truly draw you in, and the characters literally become friends that you're thrilled to be able to follow throughout the series.

I mean, it just can't get much better! The books have great storylines - with meaning! They include personal morals and values, real-life situations, internal challenges, choices, consequences and growth. All bundled together with wonderfully positive messages of being true to one's self and learning from our mistakes.

Readers of all ages will come away from each book with some message - and overall it's of hope and - overcoming obstacles!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you so much, Crystal!

~Sia McKye~ said...

Crystal, I do enjoy reading many marketable books on the market. What draws me is the winning against all obstacles.

I also think that there is a definite place for inspirational books with strong story lines. Given the times we live in, we need heartwarming stories that touch the heart and give us something to think about. Remind us of the importance of values in our life.

Inspirational books offer stories for all readers.

I appreciate Diane's storytelling abilities and her willingness to see a need and uncompromisingly writing to fill that need.:-)

VA said...

Hello Diane.

Having a teen myself, I completely understand the struggles and burdens that they carry. The series of evolving characters over a period of time is a nice way to feed the interest in previous books. Nice to know they have a life after Book 1.

It is easy to forgive someone, it is far harder to forgive oneself. I get this. My daughter might be interested in reading this series, and thanks Sia for having wonderful guest authors.

~Sia McKye~ said...

"It is easy to forgive someone, it is far harder to forgive oneself."

How very true, Vivian. Age makes no difference. :-)

Judi Fennell said...

I have teens in my life and see the beginnings of these types of struggles in them. It sounds as if you've got a great handle on the characters and I love the idea of the next book - taking a character that wasn't very likable in the rest and making her so. That's such a challenge and can be absolutely wonderful when it all works out. Best of luck, Diane!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you, Judi - I hope I succeed making Heather likeable, too.

VA, that would be wonderful if your daughter read the series. All five books are very uplifting and positive. I think young people get enough negative and hopeless messages - I wanted to send one of hope!

Helen Ginger said...

Vampires are overrated. Real people with real problems, it seems to me, will be what young people want to read. This series sounds interesting and relate-able to teens or young adults.

Straight From Hel

aries18 said...

Hi Sia and Diane,
I'm so glad to hear of your series, dealing with different people and following their lives. It's the kind of thing that makes me enjoy reading, getting to know people in depth. And knowing that you deal realistically with real problems makes it all the more enjoyable.

Sia, you've brought us another terrific author to inspire and instruct us. You're the best!

*handing out nice scarves with matching mittens to all.

Keep warm and have a terrific day!

the knitting lady

~Sia McKye~ said...

Wanda, I appreciate the scarves and gloves and you do such lovely work too.

Diane is an author to inspire, no doubt about that. :-)

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Sia, Hi L. Diane-

Sia- thanks for showcasing this book. It really is about good work and not trends.

L.Diane- lol I understand the frustration with not being part of a NY publisher-if it helps at all, I know people who are published by a big publisher who still don't see their books in book stores let alone front and center.

I agree- it is about writing what you believe in and giving it the best opportunity you can. Cheers!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you Knitting Lady and Nancy for the vote of confidence! It is frustrating sometimes, but I could never compromise my values or beliefs just to move books...

Other Lisa said...

Thanks, Diane and Sia, for the great interview! The books sound wonderful!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Thank you Lisa!