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Author Interview – DIANN MILLS

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On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference will take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds. So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers at the conference in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference) Hope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

“We are all driven by specific callings and goals. I call these passions. Obviously one of mine is communicating through the written word. This challenges me from day to day. I also believe in mentoring serious new writers.”

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. Like Weekend With the Writers! So glad you’re here, DiAnn!

 

DiAnn was a guest speaker last year as well, and I was privileged to meet her and chat for a few minutes. I always look forward to her blog posts of writing wisdom and any of her fiction! Please give a big welcome to DIANN MILLS!

 

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“I’m passionate about story, the art of weaving unique characters with an exciting plot. I call the process a dance in which every aspect, technique, twist, and turn is a thrilling adventure for the reader and the writer.”

rem: Welcome to my blog, DiAnn. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised?

DiAnn: Rural Ohio.

rem: Where do you live now?

DiAnn: Houston, Texas for the past 35 years.

rem: Tell us three things about yourself.

DiAnn:

  1. I write while on the treadmill—about 6 miles a day.
  2. My 9 year old granddaughter and I are writing a fantasy book together. It’s almost done! It’s a together project. She is as involved with the writing process as I am.
  3. I’m hyperactive. J Doubt if that’s a surprise.

rem: I love the idea that you’re writing with your granddaughter! Might have to steal that from you! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

DiAnn: Vanilla – I know boring.

rem: Not boring, classic. What’s your favorite cookie?

DiAnn: Chocolate chip!

rem: Also a time honored classic. If you could have any super power what would it be?

DiAnn: Read people’s minds

rem: Don’t we to a degree? As writers? Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

DiAnn: Kermit – I’m not green! He genuinely cares about others.

rem: I like Kermie! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

DiAnn: Absolutely without a doubt black coffee – I’m a bit of a coffee snob. No tea.

rem: Yes to black coffee! Dogs or Cats?

DiAnn: None – Grandkids

rem: What a precious answer! Superman or Batman?

DiAnn: Superman

rem: Not me, it’s a Robin thing…. Vacation: beach or mountains?

DiAnn: Mountains

rem: Me too!! Sixteen years in Colorado ensured that. What is your most treasured possession?

DiAnn: My relationship with Jesus Christ.

rem: Nothing better than that! What is your greatest fear?

DiAnn: Don’t know!

rem: What a great answer! #nofear What is your greatest regret?

DiAnn: That I didn’t obtain my Masters – of course I could still do it.

rem: And knowing you, you will! What is your favourite quotation and why?

DiAnn: Winston Churchill: Never, Never, Never Give Up

rem: Never, ever. What do you do as a hobby?

DiAnn: Cook!

 

rem: I love to cook! Don’t go by recipes so much, though. What do you most value in a friend?

DiAnn: Trustworthiness

rem: What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

DiAnn: Sincerity

rem: They go hand in hand, don’t they? When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?

DiAnn: First line

rem: Narrow field! But telling. Your fiction pet peeve?

DiAnn: Lack of conflict

rem: Dull story without conflict, eh? Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

DiAnn: Some I remember vividly – but never read a book twice.

rem: So many books, so little time, how could we read them twice? (although I’ve read a few a second time.) Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

DiAnn: Joel Rosenberg

rem: If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?

DiAnn: Tough question! Every female who was feminine, logical, gorgeous, and wasn’t afraid to love or make a sacrifice.

rem: Because you are feminine, logical, gorgeous, and not afraid to love or make a sacrifice! Who are your favorite authors to read?

DiAnn: Joel Rosenberg, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Steven James

rem: What is your favorite genre to read?

DiAnn: Romantic suspense or suspense

rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?

DiAnn: They are inseparable.

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rem: I knew you’d say that! hee hee What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DiAnn: Own a book store and coffee shop.

rem: And write in the back all day! wink wink

Tell us a little about your writing journey.

DiAnn: I started writing in 1996 when my husband dared me to write a book. My first book was released in 1998. Been writing ever since! Hard work. Each book gets harder, takes more time, and challenges me.

Apart from the above! I wouldn’t have started writing if my husband hadn’t dared me. “Stop telling me you’re going to one day write a book. Do it now. Quit your job and see if you can get anything published  in the next year.” I’m stubborn and accepted the challenge. That was in 1996. Sold my first book in 1997, and it was released in 1998.
rem: What is your writing routine?

DiAnn: Up early in the morning. Quiet time. Social media. Breakfast. Treadmill and write at the same time. Write until noon. In the afternoon I create blogs, read, social media, mentoring, and write more!

rem: Not a morning person here. I know I’ve tried! LOL Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DiAnn: I have an office in my home! It’s a mix of a crystal chandelier, turquoise, white desk and book cases, grandkid pics, and FBI.

rem: Perfect set up!! What makes you struggle as a writer?

DiAnn: To make each book better than the previous book – deeper characterization and plot.

rem: I’ve just got the two out, and I did wonder how I’d top my first one! Seems I pulled it off, though! How do you handle it?

DiAnn: Prayer and hard work.

rem: No better way to handle anything in life. How do you balance the demands of speaking, writing, and coaching?

DiAnn: I’m scheduled, disciplined, and God is my top priority.

rem: Priority is critical. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DiAnn: Passion for the written world in a story than entertains.

rem: I love sinking into a story world. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writers? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?

DiAnn:

Recommend:

  1. Write everyday
  2. Pray
  3. Read

Not recommend:

  1. Isolation
  2. Stop any of the first three
  3. Ignore social media

rem: Yes, yes, and yes, and yes, yes, and yes. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

DiAnn: What-if in looking at media headlines.

rem: Never ending fodder, there. How many books have you written and do you have a favorite? If so, why?

DiAnn: Sixty six. Every book is a favorite. Every character is a friend. Every book that took more work. Every book that did well. Every book that didn’t do well.

rem: That’s a lot of books! And yes, each has its own flair ad personality. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

DiAnn: In The Survivor and The Chase – Kariss Walker is the most like me.

Least like me: Tori Templeton, FBI Special Agent in the book I’m currently writing.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DiAnn: Deadly Encounter, book one in the FBI Task Force SeriesVeterinarian Stacy Broussard believed her Saturday morning volunteer horseback ride around Houston’s airport was trouble free until she discovers a dead body, a yellow Lab, and a drone. Houston FBI Special Agent Alex LaBlanc works domestic terrorism, but what he discovers stamps fear across the city.

Deep Extraction (working title) is book 2 in the FBI Task Force Series.

rem: Drones. Straight out of today’s headlines! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DiAnn: Good always overcomes evil

rem: Yes, is surely does. You have a passion for the situation in Sudan. Talk about that, and your involvement with the Sudanese people.

DiAnn: In 2003, I became acquainted with the Lost Boys of Sudan. My heart went out to these orphans who walked across Sudan looking for hope, safety, and family. I was asked to write their story for a non-profit organization. The more I researched and interviewed the young men and those who worked with them, the more my passion for these courageous men and women grew. Abraham Nhial was one of those orphans, and now he is an Episcopalian Bishop in Southern Sudan. He and I worked together on the nonfiction book Lost Boy No More that is still in print. I also wrote two novels about the situation in Southern Sudan.

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rem: Thanks for joining us today, DiAnn. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog! She’s got a few books out, people! These is just a few of her titles!

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DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

https://www.facebook.com/diannmills

https://twitter.com/diannmills

https://www.pinterest.com/diannmills/

 

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#diannmills, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #deadlock, #danceofplotandcharacter, #lostboysnomore

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“I’ve been thrown in the deep end. Of a deep ocean. In a tidal wave. …

Since the release of Tessa, I have sought to broaden my writer’s presence. I have joined writer’s pages and groups, I have subscribed to other author’s pages. I started a blog and revived another one, and this robin bird finally decided to tweet.”   [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

 

When I wrote Tessa I didn’t know for Author page – Facebook or Amazon – hadn’t even heard of Goodreads, avoided Twitter, and wasn’t blogging at all, at all. I wrote. That was it. Only AFTER she was released into the wild did I plug myself into the unique community of writers. A year ago, I was “ … learning to swim. And I think my feet are touching some sand in the murky waters, and I’m starting to wade through this media panoply.” [blog post “Drowning” 041114]

 

That was media. The other, and perhaps more enriching, branch of this tree I’ve climbed, is writer’s groups [and yes, I’ve attended] and conferences. And this is the more troublesome branch for me, because… it involves money. [‘nother story, ‘nother blog post, ‘nother time – think testimony] Money: I haven’t had it. Not to spare, barely enough to meet living expenses. Ergo, definitely not there to pay for a conference, let alone travel to and from, or accommodations whilst there. I longed to go, to attend, to rub shoulders with the who’s who of writing. I viewed pics posted on Facebook wistfully, hoping – praying – for my turn.

 

MY TURN CAME!! Weekend with The Writers [WWTW] was right here in Greenville, SC!!! I could walk it I had to…. [so glad I didn’t have to]

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http://weekendwiththewriters.com/

 

Let me take a moment and share how this came about – and the utter and incomparable value of networking. I was part of a thread in one of my writer groups, talking about memes. I do a decent meme, and promised to create a meme tutorial on my process. [haven’t forgotten that, ya’ll!!] One of the participants and I were later having a private IM conversation about it, and she asked me where I live. Because she was coming to a conference in Greenville, SC. That was the first I heard of it! I clicked on the link, Father God made a way for me to pay for it, my new friend offered to let me room with her, AND they picked me up. [oh yeah, I’m not driving right now – long story, also money related… ] And I only heard of the conference on 25 February – THREE WEEKS before the conference!! I shared with a friend how it all came together, and me watching it happen; she said, “Favor looks good on you.” To which I replied, “It feels kinda good too.”

 

So I got there, and it was amazing. I was at a conference!!! On the one hand, it felt as natural as if I did this every day. On the other hand, I felt like a five-year-old at Disney for the first time. [I kinda was!!]

 

Headlining our event were Kristen Heitzmann, DiAnn Mills, Edie Melson, and Lynette Eason, all names I’d seen and at least read blog posts. Only one, Kristen, had I heard of before I dove into my own writing career, having read Freefall, a few years ago, declaring her to be one of my new favorite authors. All of them personable and approachable, willing to interact – not sure what I expected, not divas with body guards, I’m sure! I felt as an associate, if at entry level, with their stellar multi-published careers. Quite heady for this former invisiblet!!

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Gotta give a SHOUT OUT to the WWTW staff, who were amazing, catering to the needs of each of us in the room – even providing chocolate for us at the mid-afternoon doze-off on Saturday – and making us all feel welcome.

 

My take-aways from the event – and I benefitted from each one:

  • DiAnn Mills and Characterization [possibly my weakest area] – let’s see, she covered a good gamut – body language, color symbolism, sensory perception. The stand-out statement for me, “Transfer my emotion to my character point of view.” [altho, I think my tendency is more that I pick up the emotion of my characters.]
  • Kristen Heitzmann and Writing a Compelling Story – “A compelling story compels me to write it.” There’s more but I don’t want to give the whole conference away for future attendees!! *wink wink And yes, when I’m writing, I’m compelled to do so.
  • Lynette Eason and Queries and Proposals – For me, more of a review. Bottom line, be professional about it.
  • Edie Melson and Social Media – Hot topic for this writer! Remember the “Drowning” references above? Edie also covered a good gamut in her topic, and made me feel good that I’m doing the right things, media-wise. Mostly. I need to up my “presence” on Twitter, with #hashtags [yeeps! they’re missing from this post!!] and some great suggestions for tweeting on the regular.

 

And the biggest take-away: no two authors’ path is identical. Every article written, every conference workshop, offers something of value; and every author gleans from this tidal wave of information the splashes and puddles that best fit his or her career. I was very happy to hear a consensus that if you are an edit-as-you go writer, which I am, then OWN IT. Yes, thank you.

 

I take that back. The best take-away from this conference are the friends and connections I made. Now if I could just get my pics to upload from my phone…..

 

 

#WeekendwithTheWriters, #writersconference, #kristenheitzmann, lynetteeason, ediemelson, diannmills, #FORWARD

 

 

 

 

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