Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Dance of the Dandelion Giveaway and Interview with Dina Sleiman

Today Dina Sleiman returns to tell us about her novel, Dance of the Dandelion. Her previous blog posting can be read here. Leave a comment and your email address if you would like to enter our draw for Dance of the Dandelion in ebook format.

Dina Sleiman writes lyrical stories that dance with light. 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. She was the Overall Winner in the 2009 Touched by Love contest for unpublished authors. Her first novel, Dance of the Dandelion, will release with Whitefire Publishing in 2011. Dina is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. She has recently become an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire as well. Join her as she discovers the unforced rhythms of grace. For more info visit her at http://dinasleiman.com/

Welcome back, Dina. Please tell us  about  your book, Dance of the Dandelionand what inspired you to write it.

I would describe Dandelion as a medieval love story with a coming of age sort of feel. Here is the official description. Dandelion Dering was born a peasant in the English village of Arun, but her soul yearned for another life, another world. One filled with color and music, with adventure and passion  . . . with more. Haunted by childhood memories, Dandelion determines to find a better existence than the life every peasant in the village contents themselves with. Even if her sweetheart William’s predictions prove true, and her journey leads straight to heartache. From her sleepy hamlet to the intrigue of castle life, from the heart of London to the adventurous seas, Dandelion flees from the mistakes of her past, always seeking that something, that someone who will satisfy her longings. Will Dandelion ever find the rhythm to her life's dance . . . or did she leave her chance for true love at home in Arun village?

I could write a whole article on my many inspirations for this book, but I think my primary inspiration was to teach young women the true meaning of love, as opposed to the many wrong ideas they get from books and movies.

Where can our readers buy Dance of the Dandelion ?

Right now it’s available for both ebook and print pre-order on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. It is also available for a number of different ebook formats at

How did you go about doing the  research  for your book?  Do you have any anecdotes or interesting experiences related to your research to tell us?

I originally had the idea for this book in 2001. At that point I skimmed through probably 20 books on the medieval time period. Then for the next five years I read as many medieval novels and watched as many medieval movies as I could. By the time I actually sat down to write my book, I had really absorbed the culture. As I wrote I did a lot of detail checks online, though.

During that five years while I was exploring the period, I stumbled across a book at the local library called Dance as Religious Studies. I knew dance would be important to Dandelion, but until I found that book I didn’t think she could dance in a religious or worship manner during that time period. In the book, I discovered that worship dance did exist in the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages, coming and going in waves. It was during the Enlightenment period that worship dance disappeared until the 20th century.

How did you weave in a spiritual thread without being preachy?

First, the book is set in a time before a lot of our current preachy Christian vernacular existed. Second, Dandelion is not a true believer for much of the book, so the reader is able to search for God along with her in an honest manner that includes a lot of learning the hard way. When I do present spiritual principles, I try to do it in a manner that is unexpected, real, and sometimes even humorous. Dandelion’s primary spiritual awakening occurs in a mystical Italian convent and reflects the passionate love poems to God written by some of my favorite medieval saints.

Did you have any particular Bible verses running through your mind as you wrote?

The theme verse running through my mind was “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” The book is fairly long, and each of these words guides a portion of Dandelion’s journey of discovery. I also have much of I Corinthians 13 woven into a sermon my comical country priest gives during a wedding.

What do you hope your readers will take away from your book?

The most important thing I hope they take away is the importance of an intimate, loving relationship with Christ. In the book, different men along Dandelion’s journey represent different aspects of love. But it is not until Dandelion discovers God’s true love that she is set free to discover earthly love as well. I also hope readers see the incredible healing power available through Christ and how to be released from the pain of their past.

Do you enjoy reading books with foreign settings? Any favorites?

Yes, I love books with foreign settings. I’ve read tons of books set in Europe, but a specific favorite that comes to mind is A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini about Muslim women in Afghanistan. In Christian fiction some of my favorite international novels are probably Lady of Milkweed Manor, Shadowed in Silk, A Stray Drop of Blood, and Jewel of Persia. Three of these are by my publisher, WhiteFire. WhiteFire is very dedicated to using new and exciting settings and time periods.

If you were given an all expenses paid holiday anywhere in the world to research a novel, where would you choose to go? Why would you choose this location?

My husband is Lebanese and he’s involved in producing Christian programming for the Middle East. So I’ve done a lot of traveling to some interesting, and sometimes dangerous places. In fact, we got caught in Lebanon during a war in 2006 and had to be evacuated on a refugee ship.

For that reason, I would probably like to go somewhere safe and relaxing like Italy. I love old cathedrals, beautiful architecture, and art. I’ve been to England and France, but never to Italy. I use the setting briefly in this book, but plan to use it more in the sequel.

Please tell us about your current book/project.

Well, I am working on book two for this series. It features Dandelion’s daughter Lily who will travel to Italy and the Middle East. She longs to be a nun and escape the shame of her sinful origins, but God has other plans. Big, exciting plans ;)

I’m also working on a contemporary series about a young Muslim woman who meets a Christian ballerina and a bi-racial hippie chick over a group project on diversity. The first book of that series is called Dance from Deep Within. I guess you can tell I like the dance motif. That series will eventually travel to Lebanon, and it features Muslim-Americans from both Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. It’s out to a number of Christian publishing houses right now. I’ll keep you posted on its progress.

Thank you for joining us today. I do hope you have good news for us soon about Dance from Deep Within. Dance of the Dandelion has moved to the top of my TBR pile. I'm intrigued now that I know more about it and want to read it as soon as possible.

Thanks for having me!!!

Dina is giving away a copy of Dance of the Dandelion in ebook format. Please leave a comment for Dina and your email address before Saturday 20th August if you would like to be entered in the draw. The draw is open to blog readers anywhere in the world.

The giveaway is void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.


  1. Great interview!! I don't need to be entered (I've already read it, oh, four times now, LOL), but I just wanted to stop by to say what an awesome job Dina did on her setting. I especially loved the exotic feel she captured with her Muslim and Italian aspects. =)

  2. Thanks, Roseanna :) As I mentioned, I hope to delve even more into those settings in book two. On one hand, the Medieval Middle Eastern research might be hard to find in English. On the other hand, I've spent a lot of time in the Middle East, and I think if you strip out the electronics the culture is pretty much the same as it was 1000 years ago. My husband was a history major in Lebanon, so hopefully he'll be able to fill in some of the details I'll need.

  3. Thanks for popping in Roseanna and Dina. I enjoyed interviewing you, Dina, and look forward to reading the sequel to Dance with the Dandelion .

  4. Thanks for the interview, Ruth and Dina. The book sounds fascinating - and the cover is amazing!

  5. Shirley, I don't think I had a chance to mention this in the interview, but the cover model is my daughter. One of the big blessings of publishing with a small press.

  6. Oops! Sorry. shirl(dot)corder(at)gmail(dot)com

  7. Dina, I agree with Shirley, your cover is gorgeous. Did you know that Christine Lindsay, one of our bloggers, also has her daughter as her cover model for her book Shadowed in Silk? It's an amazing story- you can read the blog here http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/2011/04/story-behind-cover-of-shadowed-in-silk.html

  8. Yes, Christine is my critique partner and my WhiteFire Publishing sister :)

  9. Dina, your book sounds like a fascinating book that I'd love to read :) I'm sorry to be chiming in so late and I'm trying to catch up on reading all the blog posts.

    narelle [at] narelleatkins [dot] com

  10. Great interview! I love this time period and would love a chance to read your book. Thanks Dina and Ruth!

  11. Waving at Narelle on the other side of the globe.

  12. Thanks, Lisa. So far it has pure five star ratings on amazon and goodreads, so I'd like to think most people will really enjoy it. I tried to write it to appeal to romance, historical, and even literary fans.

  13. Yes, great interview and it looks like a wonderful book. would love to win the copy. Email is vinemarc AT telus DOT net.


  14. Okay, all you international ladies need to spread the word in your parts of the globe if you end up loving the book :) My first agent was from the Sussex area of England where the book is set, and she thought British readers would really enjoy it.

  15. I'm not sure how I missed this, but it may have had something to do with being sick all last week. I write 16th century, so your time period is of great interest to me. And I love the dance motif. leanne (at) leannehardy (dot) net

  16. Awesome LeAnne. Mine is set just a few decades before Chaucer in the reign of Edward II and III. A lot of people tell me that this late Medieval period reminds them more of the Renaissance than the Middle Ages. Certainly in Italy the Renaissance was already beginning to dawn.

  17. It sounds fantastic! I think I may be too late for the draw, but would love to read this book.


  18. You're not too late, Mandy. But, for Mandy and everyone else the ebook version is only $3-$4, so it's a great deal. You can find details on my website. http://dinasleiman.com

  19. Dina, thank you for spending time with us on the ICFW blog, we've enjoyed your visit so much.

    The winner of "Dance of the Dandelion" is . . .

    LeAnne Hardy.

    Congratulations, LeAnne, I know you are going to enjoy your win.

  20. Sorry to have missed this, thanks for letting me know Ruth. It all sounds quite facinating to someone like me, who can write stories as well as I can draw! :-(
    Love and Blessings, and history to share! :-) Judy