DINA L. SLEIMAN UP-CLOSE and PERSONAL 5 Book Giveaway Opportunity

ABOUT AUTHOR: Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter Time, Dance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series coming with Bethany House Publishers in 2015. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing as well, and she loves to teach at writers conferences throughout the US. For more info visit her at her primary website

How did you come up with the idea for Dauntless?

Years ago an editor suggested that I try writing a YA medieval romance series. I was certainly open to this idea, but I didn't have any clear direction. It wasn't until I was in the midst of watching the BBC Robin Hood series with my son that a concept finally sparked to life in my mind. The series featured a number of strong, feisty women. Maid Marian was a thief and defender of the poor in her own right. The Saracen character, Djaq, was also a woman—not to mention plenty of tough female bad guys. One day as I was walking and praying specifically about a YA medieval series, this new Robin Hood came to mind, the ideas started flowing, and before long Dauntless was playing like a movie in my mind. Thus my Valiant Hearts series, featuring strong young medieval women in legendary male roles, was born.

Nora: I like your feisty Maid Marian character!

What do you hope readers take away from Dauntless?

Dauntless is very much a story of hope and restoration. Each of the main characters is looking for meaning and a sense of personal destiny in the tragic world surrounding them. In addition, they are all grappling with the idea of civil disobedience and how one should respond when faced with an unjust government, which I think is an excellent topic for young adult literature. I hope that the book will help readers to desire a deeper reliance upon God and a greater sense of intimacy with Him. My theme for the Valiant Hearts series as a whole is “Be Strong and Courageous.” I want to empower young women to boldly pursue their God-given destinies, wherever that might take them. I recently learned that the Jewish translation of “virtuous woman” in Psalm 31 is actually “woman of valor.” That is what I want for my readers: for them to become women of valor!

Nora: Very cool! I like that message, “Be Strong and Courageous – a Woman of Valor! I’m hearing this message everywhere I turn lately!

What was your favorite scene in Dauntless? Which was the most fun to write? Which was the hardest? Why?

My favorite scene in Dauntless is the prologue. It’s very exciting and action-packed, and unlike the rest of the book, I wrote it in first person/present tense to add to the energy level. This was the scene that popped to life in my mind and sparked the entire book. In general, my favorite scenes to write were the ones that included acrobatic elements. Those were so much fun. I love to write kinesthetic sorts of scenes, and they brought back my own love of gymnastics from childhood. The hardest scene was a very special one that depicts a miraculous situation. I really wanted to hit just the right note with it, and I spent a lot of time trying to get it perfect.

Nora: It was a high energy read! Fun!

What four words or what phrase would best describe you?

Creative, Introspective, Spiritual, Earthy

What surprised you and/or fascinated you in your research for this book?

When I first decided to put females in legendary male roles, I thought I would really be pushing the historical boundaries. Not so! The more I researched, the more I found lots of wonderful stories of sassy, spunky medieval women. For example, Eleanor of Aquitaine was the mother of the evil King John of my book. In addition to being a queen, she was a ruler of her own duchies and she led a crusade to the Holy Land. She was involved in all sorts of crazy political machinations. I also found a story of a young noblewoman who kidnapped a handsome knight and forced him to marry her. LOL. Many noblewomen learned to fight with swords and daggers and hunt with bows and arrows. They were often left to run their castles and protect their regions when husbands were off to war.

Nora: Thanks for sharing this. Fun!

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

Book 2, Chivalrous, will come out in September 2015. Prepare to meet Gwendolyn Barnes, a spirited young noble woman who longs to be a knight like her brothers. But such cannot be her fate, even in the Camelot-inspired Eden where she dwells. Gwendolyn’s harsh father sees her as little more than a marriage pawn and is determined to wed her to a tough man who will tame her wild ways. This story plays with several Arthurian legends, taking a peek at the world of tournaments, chivalry, and courtly love while also turning the Lancelot and Guinevere story upside down. It follows one of the main characters from Dauntless as he sets off to North Britannia in search of his destiny. And it delves even deeper into what it means to be a female, an issue very close to the heart of every teenage girl, and to women in general.

Nora: Look forward to meeting Gwendolyn Barnes!

What fascinates you about the time period you wrote about?

I feel there is much about the medieval time period that speaks to modern readers. It was a gritty and edgy time, full of action and adventure. Women of the middle ages were feisty and strong. This time also provides an opportunity to examine faith issues from a different perspective. Everyone was Christian, yet being a Christian meant little. I fell in love with the hidden bastions of true Christianity found in the convents and monasteries of that time despite the corruption in the church as a whole. I think young people today are looking for the sort of vibrant, authentic, and intimate relationships with God that can be seen in some of the great saints of that period.

Nora: This is interesting. Thanks for sharing!

What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most? 

As a child, I was very committed to watching the weekly “Shirley Temple Theater.” I loved the singing and the dancing and Shirley’s spunky attitude.  Little House on the Prairie was another favorite, both the books and the television series. Again, a spunky heroine, which is something that’s important to me as a writer.
My Family

Nora: I did like Little House!

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play? 

I’m usually the mediator. At my house, I call myself the “universal translator.” My function is to help others communicate and to promote peace and unity. I am also an encourager and good at delegating responsibilities. Sometimes due to all those factors, I end up rising into leadership positions, but I’m happiest supporting a strong leader.

Nora: Peace and unity are beautiful things. Being an encourager is great too!

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do?

You know, this might sound weird for a historical writer, but I’m not sure I would want to use it at all. Life throughout history was really rough. Women were oppressed and victimized in many cultures. There was disease and famine and death. No electricity, no running water unless you lived in a castle or palace. People were dirty and stinky much of the time. And don’t even get me started on messing with timelines and the disasters that could cause! Maybe I would just take a quick unobtrusive visit to the Middle Ages to get a bird’s eye view of what life was really like.

Nora: LOL!! So True! So True!

Out of all the sounds in the world which are your favorite?

I love the crashing of waves. Although I grew up landlocked, it was always my dream to live near the ocean. I’m now a quick twenty-five minute drive from the sound I love the most.

We all live busy lives and all of us are in different seasons of life; that as a given what part of your day requires the most patience from you to get through? Causes you to pray the most?

I’m pretty laid back, so it takes a lot to test my patience, although when I had little children that was hard on me. Now I’m raising teens and young adults, which suits my personality really well. And I don’t work outside of the home, so honestly, my patience hasn't been tested too much lately. As for what I pray about the most, it’s definitely finances. We have one child in college and another entering in the fall, and it was really our dream offer them the full “go-away-to-college” experience. To make matters more challenging, my husband’s income has gone down recently. But I’m starting to earn a little with my writing, which is a blessing. We’re still learning exactly what it means to trust God with the financial area of our lives.

Nora: Me too!

My goal for this Valiant Hearts series is really to inspire young Christian woman to be all that God has called them to be. I feel like too often girls within the church are given mixed messages. Something like, “You can be whatever you want to be, but you should be…” (insert small box of your denominational choosing.) I want to empower them to think outside of the box and reach for their full potential in Christ.

To learn more about this author and her books go to her website 

Nora: Thanks Dina for that word. I agree with you that reaching their full potential is important. Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books.

I’m thrilled about the Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN started the 20th of MARCH at .

Looking forward to it to reading the participation between you and readers! It’s always so much fun! Everyone has to be a member of TBCN in order to participate. It’s Free and easy. Participate as your schedule allows.


Nora St.Laurent
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