Darlene Laney is a wife, mother and grandmother residing in Fresno, California with her husband Carlos Laney. She holds a Master’s degree in Education-Counseling and is a Board Certified Christian Counselor through the American Association of Christian Counselors as well as a licensed Evangelist. She is the developer and facilitator of Color Me Beautiful, an etiquette and social skills development program for tween and teen girls. When Darlene isn’t facilitating her program, she enjoys reading, drawing, writing and spending time with her three grandchildren.
Thank you for joining us today, Darlene. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I’m a passionate person. I don’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly. When I’m in, I’m in all the way. That’s how I have been with my writing. I don’t approach it casually; it is something I do every day regardless of how I’m feeling.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I guess I had to be eight or nine. My favorite thing to do was writing about the “Rat Family.” I could spend hours making up stories about them and I even put illustrations with the writings. I stopped writing stories when I got in my teens but I kept a diary and later journals. I gave up writing for a time when I was told by a writing instructor that I could not write. However, I kept writing my journals and made several attempts at starting a romance novel. It wasn’t my best work but I kept on writing because I enjoy putting stories down on paper.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
After I finished the God’s Special Forces (GSF) Manual. I had been working with girls teaching etiquette and social skills and wanted to come up with a way to make learning about self-esteem, body image, peer pressure and the like easier to understand. I had been working on the God Squad for some time and decided to create a story about them that centered on challenges faced by tweens and teens today.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
It’s harder but a lot more fun! Tweens and teens are full of surprises. You can’t just put them in a box and come up with a standard response. No, there can be a hundred different ways for them to respond to a particular situation. So when I’m developing the story, I will write an interaction or reaction over and over until it just sounds right.
Developing the characters and making them believable. I want my characters to be memorable and someone the girls reading my books can identify with and hopefully want to emulate.
Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?
Six ordinary girls ranging in ages from 12 – 15 years attending Carver Preparatory going about their ordinary lives. Then they get the call…Calling all girls! Calling all girls!! And things become anything but ordinary. Transformed, empowered, and dressed for battle, they become the God Squad on a Mission Him-Possible. Their mission is to befriend and help a fellow student overly concerned with being accepted by the popular group and willing to do just about anything to belong.
What inspired you to write it?
My granddaughters and all the girls that have been a part of the God’s Special Forces program. I’ve watched these girls be transformed by the Word, empowered by the Holy Spirit and learn to walk in the knowledge of who they are in Christ, God’s workmanship—his masterpiece—go on to be the confident and capable young women God intended them to be.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
The book is available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and my website: http://www.darlenelaney.com
What is up next for you?
The next episode of the God Squad in Mission Him-Possible.
Do you have anything else to add?
I hope everyone reading this interview will buy a copy of my book; but I especially hope that if you know of a girl that has a negative self image or is being challenged by the pressure put on her by her peers, I hope you will get them a copy of this book. It’s an easy and enjoyable read!
Thank you for spending time with us today, Darlene. We wish you much success.