Diane Sawyer Newsletter/Blog #3 January 2013

 Diane Sawyer Portrait

Hi everyone,

Welcome back. Here is my third newsletter, the January 2013 edition. Thank you, one and all, long-time friends and new friends, for your comments on the previous two. Once again I will be sharing highlights with you about my books, recent travels, recipes, along with “This and That.”


Diane Sawyer


Many of you asked “How did you get your first novel published?” I hope my answer is helpful to those who want to be published, and to those who have no interest in being published but are curious about the process.

I started out writing short stories. My critiquing partners made helpful comments on every draft I wrote until I considered them publishable. I submitted my stories to magazines that seemed a good fit for my work. Many, many rejections followed! I worked harder and harder. Finally my stories were accepted and published. I was thrilled to be included twice in the leading children’s magazine Cricket and twice in a popular anthology Girls to the Rescue.

My stories for the adult market ran the gamut from women’s fiction and confessionals to slice of life and humor. I also entered writing contests sponsored by The St. Petersburg Times (now The Tampa Bay Times), the St. Petersburg Library, and The National League of American Pen Women, to name a few. Many of my contest stories won awards and were published. My résumé of published works grew.

My first novel, The Montauk Mystery, was finally complete and I submitted it everywhere. Rejections piled up. Months passed without any news, good or otherwise. Trying to stay confident I continued writing and submitting. And then one day, an editor from Avalon Books in New York City called. They wanted to publish The Montauk Mystery. Maybe you heard me shouting “YES!” at the top of my lungs. If not, you must have been out of the country. Why did Avalon accept that particular story out of the thousands they received? First, they said because my children’s stories had been published and that was a tough market to break into. Second, because I wove Montauk legends into the story, and they hadn’t seen that done before. From acceptance to publication is a long process. However, everyone at Avalon was wonderful and they eventually published all five of my novels, hard cover.

Luck was on my side. Worldwide Mysteries (WWM) bought the paperback rights from Avalon. (True to their name, WWM has offices in Toronto, New York, London, Amsterdam, Paris, Sydney, Hamburg, Stockholm, Athens, Tokyo, Milan, Madrid, Warsaw, Budapest, and Auckland.) They published the first four (with gorgeous new covers). Before the fifth even came out, Amazon Publishing bought the hard cover and paperback rights and the Kindle rights too. I still can’t believe it. I am currently working on three novels set in Florida. We’ll see what happens next.

Was getting published difficult? Yes. Did it take a long time? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely! My advice to writers: attend writing classes and lectures, join a writers’ group, write every day, read great authors, and most of all, have confidence in yourself.


Here are photos of the covers

Montauk Mystery  Montauk Steps  Tomoka Mystery  Cinderella Murders  Montauk Cave


Cooking Delights

Roasted Sweet Potato Corn Soup

My husband and I enjoyed this soup on our recent cruise to the Panama Canal. After analyzing the ingredients and incorporating variations, I decided on this recipe. I hope you enjoy the soup as much as we did.

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed; 1 tablespoon vegetable oil; salt and pepper to taste

1 package (16 oz)frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 cup water

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 ½ cups diced celery

1 cup diced red onion

1 tbsp ketchup

3 cups vegetable broth

1 bay leaf

1 tsp salt

2 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed

3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley


  1. Drizzle sweet potatoes with oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake in preheated oven (450 degrees) for 20 minutes or until soft. When cool, mash with fork.
  2. Set aside one cup of corn. Place remaining corn in blender and puree with water.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in celery and onions. Cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in ketchup, broth, corn puree, bay leaf, salt, and cubed potato. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 25-35 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Sir in whole corn, mashed sweet potatoes (separate with fork as you go) and chopped parsley. Simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Serve. Bon appétit!


This and That

Recently I attended a lecture, part of the monthly Coffee with a Curator Series at the Salvador Dali Museum, here in St. Petersburg Florida. These popular lectures, relating to Dali in various ways, are well-researched presentations highlighted with slides. This one, about tattoos, was no exception.

Did you know that many people have tattoos of Dali, especially ones that show off his famous mustache? Also popular are tattoos of Dali’s iconic symbols: melting clocks (time devours everything), eggs (love and hope),and elephants (strength, carrying your burden and moving on).

I enjoyed the historic and cultural look at tattoos. I was surprised that in some societies, tattoos are more prevalent among women. Of special interest to me was the information about sailors’ tattoos, because I grew up in a seaside town on Long Island, where the waters could be treacherous as well as enjoyable. In the old days sailors had tattoos inked on their bodies, usually on their stomach, providing their name, possibly home town, and other information. If they washed ashore or were pulled from the open sea after a storm or accident, they wanted their bodies to be identified and their families notified.

For good luck, many sailors chose a rooster tattoo for their right foot and a pig tattoo for the left foot. That’s because on sea journeys pigs and roosters were kept in wooden crates. In rough seas, if the boat tipped or took on water, the cages would float. The pigs and roosters would be rescued, and hopefully so would the sailors.


Travel News

The Panama Canal

As mentioned in my last newsletter, my husband and I cruised on the Island Princess to the Panama Canal. This was a wonderful experience and one that I would highly recommend. Many ships arriving in the Caribbean enter the canal on the Atlantic side, go through a series of locks and exit on the Pacific side. There are, however, other options that have become popular with cruise ships. Of the 2,000 passengers aboard our ship, about half of us chose to remain on the Island Princess. We went through only the first set of locks, the Gatun Locks, to experience how the process works, and then spent hours on board the ship on Gatun Lake, enjoying the views, lectures, and documentaries or just relaxing.

Option One: Many passengers got off the ship at the port of Colon on the seacoast of Panama, boarded another ship and traveled the entire length of the canal, experiencing all the locks. They returned to Colon by train. Option Two: Some passengers who got off the ship at Colon traveled by canoe to visit the local people to learn about their culture and village life.

Hours later, the Island Princess exited the canal the same way it had entered, through the Gatun Locks and welcomed back the passengers who had chosen the other options and were now waiting for the ship at Colon. As those passengers boarded, those of us who had remained on board had the chance to go ashore and visit the stores and craft shops near the ship. I could barely concentrate on the shops. My mind kept wandering back to the experience of standing on deck, and watching our large ship go through the narrow locks.

What a challenge. The ship must stay in the center of each chamber so that it doesn’t damage the sides of the locks. It’s like watching thread go through the eye a needle. Fortunately Panama has a large annual rainfall. The water from Gatun Lake is sufficient to supply all the locks whether on the Atlantic or Pacific side. The water flows through tiny holes in the lock chambers rather than gushing in all at once. That diminishes the turbulence when ships are being lifted. The system is gravity-fed and no pumps are needed. Only fresh water is used to prevent erosion.

Basically your ship waits in a chamber of the lock while water flows into the next chamber. When both are at the same level, your ship moves forward. From a rear deck on our ship, we watched in awe as the gigantic lock gates swung open, and our ship edged forward. Helping us along were electric trains called “mulas.” They threw down cables that were then hooked onto our ship and guided us through. The “mula” is so close you could see the eyes of the man steering it.

The canal extends about 50 miles from the Atlantic side to the Pacific side. For ships sailing from New York to San Francisco the canal lops approximately 9,000 miles off the journey. At the present time, a $5 billion+ expansion of the Panama Canal has begun. This will attract more people to the area—more than the current one million people who visit the Panama Canal each year. To put that in perspective, the tiny country of Panama has a population of only 3 ½ million people.

Bon voyage!



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