MaryAnn Diorio Speaks Up!

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Everyone’s Story welcomes award-winning Christian fiction author and professor MaryAnn Diorio. I’ve been following her blog, Matters of the Heart, for years and have found much encouragement from it. It’s an honor to have MaryAnn here with us this week. She speaks up on when God has other plans for us and introduces us to her newest release, The Madonna of Pisano, Book 1 of The Italian Chronicle trilogy, which is also a BookGiveway offer to one fortunate viewer the week. We’re both looking forward to hearing from you! 

**Please check out the podcast link below MaryAnn’s feature where I’m the awesome Denise Walker’s guest and share about how I came to have hope in Christ.





Maryann is offering 1 randomly chosen commenter  a choice between 1 print or 1 ebook of  The Madonna of PisanoBook 1 of The Italian Chronicles trilogy. The winner will be announced here on Friday, June 9th between 6-7 PM EST.

** For Giveaways: it’s not necessary to insert your private email information within comments.

Excerpt from The Madonna of Pisano: 

 Book Excerpt from The Madonna of Pisano, Book 1 in
The Italian Chronicles Trilogy by MaryAnn Diorio Pisano, Sicily, September 1891             She had no other choice.            Maria Landro led her little son by the hand as they hurried down the winding road from Bella Terra toward the village. Distant, dark clouds gathered in the morning sky. Looked like a storm coming. The anxiety that had been churning for days in the pit of her stomach now spread to chill every part of her body. It was all she could do to keep herself from turning back.            Nico tugged on her wrist. “Are we almost there, Mama?”            She squeezed his hand in return, the hem of her skirt rustling against the pebbles as it swished along the cobblestone road. “Almost, darling. Are you all right?”            He looked up at her. He had her father’s eyes. Kind, deep, and probing. They always made him so easy to love.

            “I’m well, Mama.” But his fingers fidgeted in her hand.

            His nervousness only fueled her own. She squeezed his hand more tightly. Please let the village be kind to him. Regardless of what they believed about her.

            A sudden gust of wind caught the edge of her headscarf, pulling it back past her temples. “My, the wind is getting stronger. Let’s hurry before the storm breaks. We don’t want you to arrive at school soaking wet on your very first day, do we?”

            “No, we don’t, Mama. I would look silly.” He laughed, and an arrow pierced her heart.

            If anyone hurt him …

            A hay-filled wagon rumbled past them, its wooden wheels creaking against the pebble-strewn road. The driver turned his face away as he passed.

            She winced, pulling her son closer to herself to hide him.

            “Will the storm carry us away, Mama?” Nico laughed again. “Maybe the wind will pick me up, and I’ll fly like a bird and land on the school windowsill, and my teacher will laugh.”

            She tensed. Nico’s teacher. No, Don Franco would never laugh. If only she could have chosen someone—anyone—else to be his teacher.

            But not in Pisano.

            The tiny village had only one schoolhouse and one teacher.

            As they turned a bend in the road, she caught a glimpse of her family’s large tan stucco house. It sat majestically atop the hill, like a queen on her throne, surrounded by sloping fields of fragrant orange and lemon groves, purple-red vineyards, and golden wheat fields. Nestled among a cluster of tall poplar trees, would the queen soon be forced to give up her throne?

            Was the farm’s failure Maria’s fault as well?

            She looked down at her little boy, all dressed up for his first day of school. She’d made him the pair of navy-blue cotton britches the school uniform required, topped by a white, short-sleeved shirt and navy-blue ascot. His new black leather shoes, though a bit too big, would soon fit his rapidly growing feet.

            As they approached the village, she recoiled at the sight of the medieval church steeple reaching toward the gray morning sky. The church stood in the middle of the village as a sign of God’s central position in the lives of the villagers.

            She hadn’t stepped foot in it for nearly seven years.

            Pinwheeling out from the church, little pastel-colored stucco houses lined dirt roads framed by borders of yellow pansies and russet daylilies. Next to the church stood the rectory, its burnt orange tile roof in much need of repair.

            She averted her eyes.

            A few drops of rain splashed against her kerchief and sprinkled her face. She looked up just as a streak of lightning slashed the eastern sky. Then, with a loud clap, the clouds broke loose, dumping their reservoir of rain. Why hadn’t she brought an umbrella?

            Gripping Nico’s hand, she started running. The rain pummeled her head and her back as she tried to guide her little boy around the puddles.

            “Oh, Mama. My new shoes. They’re covered with mud.”

            So much for showing off her son. After six years of hiding him, she would see her bold, triumphant moment ruined by mud. “Don’t worry. As soon as we get to the school, I’ll wipe them off for you.”

            Just as quickly as it had started, the rain stopped. She took out the handkerchief she’d shoved into her large canvas bag, next to the fresh fruit and nuts she’d brought for Nico’s snack, and wiped her son’s wet face. Wet from the rain, she hoped, and not from tears.

            She couldn’t take tears. Not from him. Not from herself.

            As they entered the village square, shouts of haggling customers caught her ear.

            Young mothers with babies on their hips bargained with shopkeepers over the price of peppers, eggplant, and squash. At the far end of the square, old women dressed in black shuffled out of the Church of the Holy Virgin, fresh from hearing daily Mass.

            Nico pulled at her hand. “Mama, so many people. I never saw so many people.” He seemed like a new puppy let loose from his cage. “Yes, my son. The village is full of many people.”

            Her eyes scanned the bustling square where she’d once spent many happy moments at Luigi’s outdoor café, eating pasta and sipping espresso in the company of family and friends.

            Deftly skirting farmers pulling wobbly carts laden with lemons and oranges, she guided her child through the market crowd. Small groups of old men, their heads covered with flat-topped coppola hats, huddled at little round tables, chewing on long pieces of fennel while playing chess. A young mother, dressed in the black attire of year-long mourning for a deceased loved one, held onto a toddler with one hand while, with the other, she sorted through artichokes, cucumbers, and leeks. The smell of freshly caught tuna, squid, and mussels, fruit of the nearby sea, turned Maria’s empty stomach.

            She led Nico through the square. Her face grew hot as neighbors and one-time friends raised their eyes to her. Old women shook their heads, while younger ones scanned her from head to toe, then turned away with uplifted chins. Men of all ages scraped their eyes over Nico then leered at her.

            The skin prickled on the nape of her neck. “Come, Nico. We must hurry so we won’t be late.”

            “Yes, Mama.”

            Wide-eyed, he drank in the new sights. Poor child. He’d been sequestered on the family farm his whole life. He knew nothing of this world beyond Bella Terra.

            Whispers grew into mumbles and then into shouts, roaring in her ears as she hurried through the gathering crowd.

            “Can it be? Maria Landro? And that must be her bastard child.”

            She stiffened.

            “What are they saying, Mama? What does ‘bastard’ mean?”

            Keeping her eyes straight ahead, she guided her child toward the school just beyond the square.

            “Bastard! Bastard! Bastard!” The word echoed after them.

            “Mama, what does ‘bastard’ mean?”

            Her stomach tied itself into a tight knot. Lowering her head, she quickened her pace. “I’ll explain at another time. Right now we must get to your school, or you will be late.”


When God Has Other Plans by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD

I did not start out to be a writer. From the age of 15, when I entered my first French class, my passion was to be a university professor of Romance languages. So, to that end, I pursued my studies in French, Italian, and Spanish all the way up to the PhD in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature. Then, with three graduate degrees in hand, I entered the exciting world of academia to pursue a lifelong career as a foreign language professor.

Or, so I thought.

But God had other plans. At the age of 30, I began sensing a desire to write. This was very strange as I had never considered myself a writer nor ever considered writing as a profession. Oh, for a fleeting moment in my early teens, I thought it might be fun to be a journalist, but that thought fled as quickly as it came.

At first, I brushed aside the desire to write. But it kept growing stronger. Finally, I began to wonder if God were trying to get my attention.


One day, as I was talking with our Heavenly Father, I said, “Abba, about this desire to write. Is it from You? If so, please let it increase. If it is not from You, please take it away because it is becoming unbearable and quite distracting!”

Surely enough, the desire to write grew stronger. And with its growth came the confirmation that God had, indeed, called me to write for Him. Now, over 40 years later, I can look back and see that God’s plan for my life was far better than my own.

God has called you to a great destiny as well. It may be writing, or it may be something else. Whatever it is, it is your unique purpose to fulfill on the earth. It is your personal, customized dream straight from the heart of the Father. Treasure it! Guard it! Don’t let anyone or anything steal it!

Many obstacles began to come against my dream to write. Rejection slips, self-doubt, time management issues, financial issues, illness. All of these—and more—tried to keep me from fulfilling the destiny for which God had created me. But I would not relent in my pursuit of my God-given dream. I would not allow the obstacles to stand in my way. One by one, I met them head-on and pushed them aside, tunneled through them, clambered around them, climbed over them, or pulverized them. Whatever it took, that’s what I did. And that’s what you need to do, too, if you want to fulfill your great destiny in Christ!

You see, we have an enemy, and his name is Satan. He hates Christ, and he hates those of us who are in Christ and who do our Lord’s bidding. He especially hates Christ’s writers because we writers use our pens as swords in proclaiming the truth of the Gospel. We are a grave threat to the kingdom of darkness because we push back against it with the indestructible weapons of the Kingdom of Light.

But Satan doesn’t hate only writers. He hates anyone in Christ who advances the cause of Christ. And that includes you!

Remember, we are here not for ourselves and our own agenda. We are here for King Jesus and His agenda.

So, whatever the work to which God has called you, do it faithfully. Do it diligently. Do it joyfully. It is a work that only you can do in the way God designed you to do it. As you fulfill your part, you will be glorifying God and advancing His Kingdom in the earth.

I can think of no better reason to follow your dream. Can you?

Copyright 2017 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD. All Rights Reserved.

MaryAnn’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet award-winning #ChristFic author @DrMaryAnnDiorio. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

@DrMaryAnnDiorio speaks up on what happens when God has other plans. (Tweet This)

What happened when @DrMaryAnnDiorio thought she was settling down in her dream career? (Tweet This)

Author’s Bio:

Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is a widely published, award-winning author of riveting, compelling fiction that deals with the deepest issues of the human heart. She holds multiple graduate degrees, including the PhD in French with a concentration in Comparative Literature and the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. She has taught Romance languages and Fiction Writing at major universities. When not writing, MaryAnn enjoys reading, painting, and playing the piano.

MaryAnn and her husband have two amazing daughters, a fantastic son-in-law, and five rambunctious grandchildren.

Places to connect with MaryAnn:







Blog Talk Radio





Library Thing



MaryAnn and I look forward to your comments.


I’d be honored if you’d take a few minutes

to listen to the Hope-in-Christ podcast that I’m featured in:



49 comments to MaryAnn Diorio Speaks Up!

  • Ann Ellison

    Enjoyed reading about MaryAnn’s writing journey and her book sounds like a good one.

  • Connie Saunders

    I was fortunate to read The Sicilian Farewell, the sequel to Madonna but I haven’t read this book. Thanks for this great interview and giveaway!

  • Esther Bandy

    Elaine, thank you so much for having MaryAnn Diorio on your blog today.

    MaryAnn, your testimony of God’s call on your life to become a writer for Him is a wonderful blessing for me today. Thank you for the encouragement. I would love to receive a print copy of your book, The Madonna of Pisano. My grandparents are from Sicily and they moved to New York City before my father was born. I enjoy learning more about my heritage and would love to read an inspirational novel set in Sicily. Thank you for this wonderful giveaway.

  • Martha T.

    I think that this book sounds neat!

  • Esther Bandy

    Thank you, Elaine. I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well.

  • Anne. Rightler

    Thank you for sharing MaryAnn’s article on God’s plan. It’s always encouraging to read how individuals have heard and followed His plan and seen His blessings in their lives. I’ve read some of her books and would love to win a copy (PB) of this one. Thanks again.

  • Isn’t it amazing how God’s plan are so much better than our own? But first we have to let go and so God can give us what he desires. And the book sounds wonderful.

    • elaineadmin

      Pat, a big thanks for always making time to visit this little (but growing 😊) corner of the world.

    • Patricia, thank you for commenting. You are absolutely right that we must first let go in order to experience God’s best for us. Thank you for your wise insight.



    • As the week winds down, I want to thank you, Elaine, for featuring me on your wonderful blog. It has been a lot of fun. 🙂

      I also want to thank all of my new and wonderful friends who participated in making this a very special time for me. It was a great joy to meet all of you.

      My fervent prayer is that you will fulfill the great destiny for which God created you. May He bless you beyond your wildest dreams!

      With love in our Precious Jesus!


  • MaryAnn’s style of writing certainly drew me in. Would love to read her book.

  • Ann Mock

    Your book sounds wonderful Mary Ann! I like the cover. Did you design it? God has certainly used your skill to spread his word.
    Thanks for sharing,

    • elaineadmin

      Great question, Ann. I’m also curious about MaryAnn’s book cover.

    • Hi, Ann,

      Thanks for posting. I’m glad you like the cover of my book. 🙂 All three covers of my trilogy were designed by Lisa Hainline. She is a professional book cover designer.

      I want to share how God hand-picked her for me. I was praying about finding a book cover designer and the Lord led me to Lisa. When I first found her, I knew her only as Lisa Hainline. Well, after connecting with her, I discovered that her maiden name was Vento and that her grandparents were from Sicily!

      I began rejoicing at the way God had provided for me a professional book cover designer who understood the heritage of the characters in my story. Needless to say, Lisa and I immediately clicked, and she did an amazing job with all three of my book covers.

      If you ever need a book cover designer, I highly recommend Lisa. Her website is:



      • elaineadmin

        Love that little/big God-connection, MaryAnn, between you and Lisa!

        • Amen, Elaine! Our Lord never ceases to amaze me! 🙂

        • P.S. Elaine and Friends, there is another amazing God-connection that occurred during the writing of this story. While surfing the Internet for information on Italian genealogy, the Lord miraculously connected me with a professional genealogist who “just happened” to live in my great-grandparents’ home town. He scanned and sent me original family documents to which I would never have had access on my own. But the most amazing thing was that it turned out he went to high school with one of my cousins and the two had been good friends. After high school, they went their separate ways and lost contact with each other. Since I knew both of their email addresses, I reconnected them with each other. To add to the glory of our amazing God, my cousin and my genealogist friend lived only twenty minutes from each other and didn’t know it. So, from 3000 miles away, I reconnected them after almost 20 years! Praise the Lord! 🙂

          • elaineadmin

            MaryAnn, I love, love, love this story. Thanks for sharing. I can only hope that as I’m researching my own family history (Poland based) that He may bless me with connections as well. You also just gave me another idea for a Tweet 😉

  • Debra Picerno

    June 4, 2017 at 10:59 Reply

    Hello MaryAnn,

    Lisa did a great job on the book cover but your writing is intriguing! I would love to read your trilogy! God bless you and your beautiful family.

  • Father, in the Name of Jesus, I pray that You would give Elaine divine connections and divine appointments as she researches her own family history. We thank You in advance, Lord, for hearing and answering this prayer. Amen.

    • elaineadmin

      I thank you, MaryAnn, so much for your lovely prayer. My family history hasn’t been shared, verbally or written wise, and it will be indeed be a challenge. Bless your kind heart.

  • You are most welcome, dear Elaine. I consider it an honor and a privilege to pray for a sister in Christ and a fellow author. Blessings to you!

  • Marilyn R

    Thanks for a great interview with MaryAnn Diorio and her journey to writing. I’m glad she responded to the leading of the Lord. We never know where our path may go when we wait upon Him. I look forward to reading The Madonna of Pisano. It’ll be a great read with the setting. Blessings.

    • elaineadmin

      Thanks for your visit, Marilyn. While we don’t know where He takes us, I’m sure we can all agree that His path is never the wrong way. Amen, right? 😊

      • Amen! I love Jeremiah 29: 11 and Isaiah 55: 8-9:

        “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD.’ They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’“ (Jeremiah 29: 11)

        ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the LORD.’And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’’ (Isaiah 55: 8-9)

        All of God’s plans for us are good plans and far better than any plans we could make for ourselves. Blessed be His Holy Name!


  • Dear Marilyn,

    Thank you so very much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I praise God for your life and for the great destiny He has for you as well. May He use you mightily to further His Kingdom and to touch countless lives for Jesus.



  • elaineadmin

    It has been a very spiritual moving week for me on Everyone’s Story and I thank my wonderful guest, author MaryAnn Diorio. I intuition tells me that my viewers have also deeply been moved by MaryAnn’s words. Heartfelt thanks, MaryAnn.

    And thanks for your BookGiveaway of The Madonna of Pisano. And the winner of MaryAnn’s novel is…

    Anne R. Congratulations, Anne and happy reading!! Both MaryAnn and I will contact you directly via email.

    Blessings to all.

    • You all are most welcome, dear friends and sisters in Christ. It has been a joy and a blessing for me to be with you this week. You will remain in my prayers. I leave you with this wonderful promise from Zephaniah 3: 17:

      “For the Lord your God is living among you.
      He is a mighty Savior.
      He will take delight in you with gladness.
      With his love, he will calm all your fears.
      He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

      With love and blessings,


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