Dianne Neal Matthews is a freelance writer and the author of four daily devotional books including The One Year Women of the Bible (Tyndale House, 2007). She also writes regularly for websites and blogs (such as CBN.com and FindingGodDaily.com), contributes to compilations (including Guideposts’ 2013 Mornings with Jesus), and enjoys speaking and teaching at writers’ conferences. Dianne is a 2006 CLASS graduate and a member of Advanced Writers & Speakers, Christian Authors Network, and Toastmasters International. She and her husband, Richard, currently live in Salt Lake City, which is too far away from their three grown children and two adorable grandchildren. To learn more, visit www.DianneNealMatthews.com or connect with Dianne through Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
When did you decide to be a writer?
As a little girl, I loved to make up stories and share them. Writing assignments were always my favorite part of school. But as an adult, I didn’t have the confidence or courage to pursue creative writing. It was just something I fantasized about until my mid-forties when I began writing occasional articles for my church’s newsletter. Urged by a friend, I attended a writers’ conference asking God to show me if writing was His will for me or my own self-centered dream. He answered clearly that week and I’ve never doubted my calling since then.
What was your first published piece?
When I attended that first conference in 1999, I’d never thought of writing devotionals. But I set up an appointment with the editor from Warner Press after she spoke on a panel. I showed her a one-page piece I’d written about a lesson from my cat and she said I might be a natural devotional writer. I applied and was accepted as a Master Writer for the company and got to submit ten devotionals each year for use on the back of church bulletins.
What was the first book you wrote?
The One Year On This Day was published by Tyndale House in 2005. (Currently, it’s available only in eBook format.) The daily devotions are based on origins of holidays—including some you’ve likely never heard of before, anniversaries of historical events, pop culture trivia, or anything related to a specific day of the year. These are used to illustrate spiritual principles and biblical truths. Each devotion includes a practical application and a related Bible verse.
Since then, you’ve published three more daily devotional books. What do you find most rewarding about writing devotions?
I absolutely love finding creative ways to illustrate a Bible verse or spiritual principle, whether using elements of nature, historical events, pop culture trivia, news events, my own personal experiences, or any other source. I love drawing out practical application that demonstrates how relevant the Bible is to our lives today. I also enjoy trying to find a way to end with a statement that helps the content stick in the reader’s mind (especially when I come up with a pun). And feedback from readers motivates me to keep writing devotionals. It’s such a blessing when someone tells me that a devotional has spoken to their specific situation, or says that one of my books is a part of their regular quiet time.
Tell us a little about your newest devotional book.
Designed for Devotion: A 365 Day Journey from Genesis to Revelation provides an overview of the entire Bible. It explains the background and factual information for each book, including the author, theme, purpose for writing, and historical setting. The book highlights the key stories and characters in the OT and gospels, and explores the basic teachings of the NT writers. In the part of the book that covers the Old Testament, I sprinkled occasional “Jesus Sightings” (in keeping with the theme of a trip or journey). These devotions focus on how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. I also included devotions about the 400-year period between the Testaments, the concept of “theophany”, the distinction between the Major and Minor Prophets, and other topics. Throughout the book, each day’s devotion ends with a practical application that encourages readers to apply that day’s spiritual lesson to their own journey with God.
What can readers hope to gain from reading Designed for Devotion?
This book presented my biggest challenge ever! I don’t make any pretense of being a Bible scholar; I often felt burdened by the weight of such a serious responsibility. But I think that will be a plus for most readers since the book is not “academic”. Readers will gain the factual and historical information needed to understand the context of each book and how it fits in with the rest of the Bible. At the same time, they will be able to see how each story and teaching relates to their everyday lives. Designed for Devotion will help those new to Bible study grow in their understanding of God and His Word; long-time Bible students will enjoy the review. Hopefully, anyone who reads the book will go deeper in their relationship with God and in their devotion to Him. A trip through the Bible can be a life-changing journey!
What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
Listening to music, seeing a movie, getting outside to enjoy the beauty of nature, and of course, reading for pleasure, not research.
What would you like for our readers to know about you personally?
I would like to assure readers of my books that I most definitely do not have it all together. Sometimes after writing a devotional, I feel like a hypocrite. I never want to give the impression that I don’t struggle with the issues I write about. Truth is—I’m a mess. My writing isn’t a reflection of my spiritual maturity; it’s an extension of God’s grace and the wisdom found in His Word. Every day I thank Him for using me in spite of my many flaws and my hardheadedness in learning spiritual lessons.