Award-winning author DiAnn Mills is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. DiAnn’s first book was published in 1998. She currently has more than fifty books published.
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements through the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards and Inspirational Reader’s Choice awards. DiAnn won the Christy Award in 2010 and 2011.
DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild.
She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.
AND, she has graciously offered to answer some questions for the folks at FaithWriters. So, read on to hear more about her writing process, advice for new writers, and more!
JOANNE SHER: How/where do you get ideas for your books?
DiANN MILLS: My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere: media stories, conversations, genealogy twists, sermons, and my wild imagination. The Chase came from a solved cold case from Houston’s FBI.
JOANNE: Ideas really can be found anywhere, can’t they? How did you first get published?
DiANN: Persistence and determination. I sold my first book, and I have yet to figure out how it all happened. I had a friend who offered to pitch it to an editor, and I agreed. The story of how I got started writing is more amusing. One day my husband said, “Stop telling me that someday you’re going to write a book. Just do it. Quit your job and write. If you can get anything published in a year, then you don’t have to go back to work.” I’m pretty stubborn so I accepted his challenge. Two years later, my first novel was released.
JOANNE: That’s quite the story! How do you improve your writing? Do you have a favorite/well-loved writing craft book? Class you’ve taken? Some other method?
DiANN: I’m the Craftsman’s mentor for the Christian Writer’s Guild. To do my best for my writing students means I have to stay on top of the craft. The more I mentor, the more I study the craft. I do have favorite craft books, so I’ll list a few of them below alphabetically by author:
Plot and Structure – James Scott Bell
Dialogue – Gloria Kempton
The Fire in Fiction – Donald Maass
Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook – Donald Maass
The Power of Body Language – Tonya Reiman
I use Meyer-Briggs personality testing for characterization and various psychology books. I also use a character sketch developed a few years ago, and I keep revising it.
Classes: I recommend the Christian Writer’s Guild. Their distance learning classes are developed by the top writers and instructors in the country.
JOANNE: What advice do you have for new writers?
DiANN: Be diligent with the craft. Read the bestsellers. Study them as a student. Read and reread the how-to books. Attend writer conferences and take advantage of networking. And never give up.
JOANNE: What is your favorite part of being an author? Your least favorite?
DiANN: My favorite is having the published book in my hands. It’s like giving birth. My least favorite is waiting for editor feedback. That’s like sending your child to school and fearing the teacher will send a bad report.
JOANNE: How do you handle writer’s block?
DiANN: Sometimes I get plotter’s block, which I think is different. This is when I’m looking at the next steps for my characters and trying to figure out what is the worst possible situation that I can dump on them. I usually do something physical like gardening, cooking, or walking. Sometimes shopping.
JOANNE: What does your writing process generally look like?
DiANN: I have to think about my story for a few months: consider the characterization, setting, plot twists, pieces of dialogue, and develop lots of backstory. Often the process in my head looks like a movie screen where I can visualize the character’s emotions in various scenes. I’m a morning writer and usually get my word count done by noon.
JOANNE: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
DiANN: Don’t give up. If God is in your writing, you can’t fail.
JOANNE: Is there anything in your writing journey you wish you had done differently?
DiANN: I wish I’d known about the Christian Writer’s Guild, then I wouldn’t have had to undo bad habits. I wouldn’t trade any moment of my career, the victories or the defeats.
JOANNE: What role does the Lord play in your writing?
DiANN: Everything. I could end right here, but maybe I should elaborate. The Lord gave me the gift of writing. He created me with a vivid imagination. With such a wonderful treasure, I have no choice but to keep working at the craft and seeking His counsel with every breath.
JOANNE: What is your latest book about?
DiANN: The Chase is the first book in the Crime Scene: Houston series.
Here’s the blurb: To the FBI it’s a cold case. To Kariss Walker it’s a hot idea that could either reshape or ruin her writing career. And it’s a burning mission to revisit an event she can never forget. Five years ago, an unidentified little girl was found starved to death in the woods behind a Houston apartment complex. A TV news anchor at the time, Kariss reported on the terrifying case. Today, as a New York Times bestselling author, Kariss intends to turn the unsolved mystery into a suspense novel. Enlisting the help of FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, Kariss succeeds in getting the case reopened. But the search for the dead girl’s missing mother yields a discovery that plunges the partners into a witch’s brew of danger. The old crime lives on in more ways than either of them could ever imagine. Will Kariss’s pursuit of her dream as a writer carry a deadly price tag? Drawing from a real-life cold case, bestselling novelist DiAnn Mills presents a taut collage of suspense, faith, and romance in The Chase.
JOANNE: That book sounds SO intriguing! Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our writers?
DiANN: Before I was published, I promised God that whatever I learned along the way I’d share with other serious writers. This is why I mentor serious writers. I believe to be blessed, we must be a blessing to others. Connect with me on Facebook. www.facebook.com/diannmills Here is where I can get to know you. We have discussion and contests are posted. I love writers and readers!
JOANNE: Thanks so much, DiAnn! I just may pop over to your Facebook page myself – and hope other FaithWriters do the same.