A year ago, Diane Ranker Riesen of Tiffin wondered what she was going to do when her husband's job required a temporary move to Chicago, far away from her grandchildren here.
Riesen said she always has enjoyed writing about spiritual topics such as learning from adversity.
"I've written inspirational poetry since I was a child," Riesen said. "As an adult, I have written many tribute and memorial poems for graduations and weddings and funerals. Several have been published in church newsletters, etc."
Although the market for poetry is limited, she decided to incorporate some poetic elements into inspirational fiction. Before leaving Tiffin, she had completed a short, inspirational novel and made paper copies of the manuscript to give as gifts to family members.
She had not considered publishing the story, but the idea presented itself while she was online one day.
"I found a Christian publisher on the Web, and they said you could electronically submit a manuscript. I'm thinking, 'I'll never hear anything, but what the heck. I might as well try.' Two weeks later, they offered me a contract. I told my husband, 'This is a God thing, because they get thousands and thousands of those things.'"
Tate Publishing released Riesen's first book, "Rainbows in the Dark; Seeing Faith in the Age of Doubt," Jan. 17. It is available as an e-book, an audio book or a 110-page soft cover hard copy.
The story is loosely based on the "inspiration and courage" she witnessed while volunteering for several years at a nursing home. The main character, Eva, is a volunteer at Skylark Care Center. Eva's small contributions to the lives of the lonely residents are meant to show readers how God uses people in special ways.
"I hoped that it could give a sense of hope for anyone going through a difficult time. God uses everything we go through for a purpose," Riesen said. "It's a very simple read. It's nothing that anybody doesn't already know, but it's stuff that we just forget."
While in Chicago, she wrote two more inspirational books. Tate also wanted those, and offered her two more contracts. One, "Smiles For Sherman," is a novel that describes a friendship between a young woman and an old man.
She already has received notes from readers.
The publisher produced a quantity of books Riesen could buy and offer for sale at a pre-release party. Friends who took home the book and those who ordered the book in advance have been contacting her with many positive comments.
"I was on the computer about a month after I had finished editing it and there was an e-mail ... from this man who said 'I'm sitting in the Dallas airport. I just finished your book and it's just answered a prayer I've had for years,'" Riesen said. "I have had many beautiful responses from people who have read the book. Knowing that the book may inspire someone is a great gift for me."
Publishing "Rainbows" took nearly a year. Riesen said she worked with seven individuals to edit, choose a cover, and other tasks. She had to pay a fee to have book published, but the company does the marketing, legal work, printing and scheduling of book signings.
"I will be doing a dozen or more book signings around Chicago, Cincinnati and Columbus in the next few months," Riesen said.
Diane and her husband, Mark, go to Old Fort Church when they are in Tiffin. While in Chicago, they have been attending Community Christian Church, a large, non-denominational church. Now they are about to move again, this time to Mason, near Cincinnati. They will be looking for a new church, but are pleased about being miles closer to loved ones in the Tiffin area.
"We went to Christ's Church over 20 years while Paul Barnes was the minister. They've moved now, but he wrote a beautiful forward to the book," Riesen said.
Becoming an author was an unexpected change for Riesen, who married her high school sweetheart and raised her children. For about seven years, she worked for Dr. James Anthony and Drs. Rudy and John Vela. Then Tiffin City Schools hired her as a tutor in a grant program for students in grades 6-8. She describes those years as "inspirational."
"Some of my kids were 11 and they're 23 now and we still keep in contact," Riesen said.
Her main work now is her writing. She expects to spend the next year completing and editing the next two books. Every three months, she is to receive a check from Tate.
Locally, "Rainbows in the Dark" is for sale at The Cross in Tiffin. It also is available at Barnes and Noble stores and others and at www.tatepublishing.com.
To contact Riesen, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.