Expect an Adventure by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills is an award winning writer who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She currently has more than fifty-five 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. She 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.

Writing is a tough profession. The competition in today’s publishing world makes the strongest writers think twice about their commitment to excellence. Those of us who are lured by the magnificence of story are committed to creating a world where our readers slip into the shoes of our characters and are whisked away to an amazing thrill filled with uncertainty.

A writer has a gauge by which she measures her stories, the one she is currently writing and the future projects that are being shopped at publishing houses.

My personal barometer is for each reader to Expect an Adventure. This aspiration is a two-way street. If I don’t have the adventure of a lifetime while I’m writing the story, then how can I expect a reader to feel the same exhilaration? When I laugh, cry, hate, love, argue, discover, run for my life and leap high mountains, I expect my readers to take the same plunge. Oh, the span of emotions that expands the human heart.

Each book has to have deeper characterization than the previous novel, a more intricate plot, a setting that challenges the storyline, and more emotive conflict. No pressure there!

Once I establish my premise, my quest for dynamic characters begins. I insist upon an unlikely heroine

—a woman who is qualified and able to solve a problem. She’s a feminine creature, capable of feeling a variety of emotions, and she’s mentally strong, a woman who uses her wit to meet each new challenge. This woman may or may not be Christian at the beginning of the story, but she will learn to solve her problems through a Christian worldview.

The hero is a strong man who appreciates many aspects of the heroine. They differ in views and argue, but they learn to work together while they step from one danger to another.

The villain is motivated by greed. He’s highly intelligent and charms his followers with power, money, or wit.

Premise, characterization, and plot are tightly women. My plot must parallel the heroine’s chosen profession and put her into danger as she reaches for an impossible goal. She flexes her muscles and goes to work.

Plotting involves asking questions. What is the worst possible thing that could happen to my character? How can I raise the stakes in every scene? How can I keep the reader on the edge of her seat and glued to the pages of the book? My personal standards must meet the demands of today’s readers.

Are my readers breathless? Filled with excitement? Do they sense the danger? Are they swept away in a romance?

What setting interests or terrifies my heroine? I believe in research to validate my setting, and that means stepping into unfamiliar territory. I’ve been to Sudan, rode the line with the Border Patrol, interviewed treasure hunters, and made friends with the FBI.

If the passion for story will not let you go, I challenge you to take the plunge and write the adventure!

Take No Shortcuts!

If you want to be an overnight success, go read another blog.

No, I’m serious. Novel Rocket is about putting in the work, making the connections, learning the craft, writing and then revising, revising, revising.

But, if you have the passion, commitment, and determination—and a chunk of time to invest—there is help out there.

As the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild, obviously I’m most familiar with the ways we help aspiring novelists. We have fantastic courses—so why be shy?

Top-shelf instruction
For instance, our Craftsman course is our most advanced and demanding—but with good reason. In 2009, Craftsman graduate Henry McLaughlin won our Operation First Novel contest with Journey to Riverbend (Tyndale), the book he prepared for his class assignments.

In the Craftsman course, students receive exclusive instruction, encouragement, and support from multiple Christy Award winning author DiAnn Mills as their mentor, but also enjoy face-to-face instruction with Jerry B. Jenkins and other experts like Brandilyn Collins, Steven James, Angela Hunt, James Scott Bell, and Dr. Dennis E. Hensley at an exclusive 4-day residency in Colorado Springs CO.

What students say
“The Craftsman course gave me what I was looking for—structure, technique, and organization for writing my first novel. I will take my idea all the way!” – Dennis Ricci

“It improved my confidence level and writing ability more than I expected. I started the course as someone who writes. I left a writer.” – Marsha Tallman

“By far the best course I’ve taken on novel writing.” – Florence Larson

“The residency prepared me for publication.” – Ella Sadler

Is it for you?
A new Craftsman class starts May 1. I’ll admit right here, it’s not for everyone. But if you are a good fit, it can be a difference maker. Get more information.

There are other options. Just Google novel writing course and stand back as the torrent of information floods over you. With Craftsman you’ll receive instruction and support from Christian authors at the top of their game.

Not ready for Craftsman? Look here.

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying a new playground. He also plays with words as the editor-in-chief of the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and as a contributor here on Novel Rocket. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

DiAnn Mills on The Climb

For years I’d sensed a calling that God wanted me to write fiction. But I feared every aspect of the process. I did nothing except dream about writing, conjure stories in my head, and claim that “someday I’m going to write a book.”

How sad to hold onto a dream, know it is from God, and yet have too many fears and doubts to take a leap of faith.

The husband dare
One day my husband said, “Stop telling me you’re going to write a book. Just do it!” I’ve never been one to turn my back on a challenge, so I took him up on his challenge and began gathering the tools needed to learn the art of writing.

No more excuses
This became my new full-time job. I began reading books about the craft and novels by authors I admired in the genre in which I wanted to write. I joined writing groups and participated in discussions and critiques, and I attended writing conferences.

I wrote every day—whether I felt like it or not. I prayed for guidance, wisdom, and to overcome my fears.

I had to do the work (with an understanding that God would work through me). I had to be willing to pay the price. And I would, through the help of God, reach publication.

Success requires determination
In the first year I sold magazine articles, short stories, and devotions while working on my first novel: a historical romance. Two years after my husband’s dare the historical novel was released by Barbour Publishing for their Heartsong Presents line.

Today, I have more than 50 books in print, which have sold more than 1.5 million copies.

Are you ready?
If you’re just beginning your writing ministry, I recommend diligence. Approach writing as a job. The Bible says to work as for the Lord (Colossians 3:23), and that means giving your best.

I remember struggling and needing answers and guidance, so I now have a passion to help others improve. One place I recommend is the Christian Writers Guild, where I am the mentor for the Craftsman students.

But the important thing is, don’t let your fears steal your dream. Take your leap of faith—whatever that means.

Under a Desert Sky (Available in June)

A race from danger…straight into the arms of love.

In 1935, socialite Eva Fortier witnesses her grandfather’s murder and must flee New York to ensure her safety. Leaving behind a life of wealth, she seeks refuge in the secluded high desert area of Ghost Ranch, New Mexico.

Navajo doctor Tahoma Benally has his hands full caring for his people’s medical needs. He certainly doesn’t have time to fall in love. But when Tahoma’s father asks him to help fulfill a vow he’d made to Eva’s father, Tahoma has no choice but to oblige his father’s request. In the process he finds himself drawn to the woman he’s promised to protect.

With an elusive killer stalking Eva, and barriers of race and culture standing between her and Tahoma, does love stand a chance of blooming in the desert?

DiAnn Mills is an award-winning author and the Craftsman mentor for the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. Her website is http://www.diannmills.com/. Her book, Pursuit of Justice, is out now and her next project, Under a Desert Sky, will release in June.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists and have won placements in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Book of the Year Awards from 2003 to 2008. DiAnn was also an ACFW Carol Award finalist in 2010. She received the Inspirational Reader’s Choice award in 2005, 2007, and 2010, and was a Christy Award finalist in 2008 and a RITA Award finalist in 2010. In 2010, she won the Christy Award for Breach of Trust, the first book in her Call of Duty series.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of Inspirational Writers Alive; Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love chapter; and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

Strong Women, Unlikely Roles ~ by DiAnn Mills, Guest Blogger

Award-winning author DiAnn Mills launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Six of her titles have appeared on the CBA Bestseller List. Currently she has fifty books in print and has sold over 1.5 million copies. DiAnn believes her readers should “Expect an Adventure.” She is a fiction writer who combines an adventuresome spirit with unforgettable characters to create action-packed novels. A founding member of ACFW, she and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. They have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.
NJ: DiAnn is offering a book for giveaway. To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment.
Strong Women, Unlikely Roles
Women who accept nontraditional roles and succeed with dynamic outcomes are the heroines in my novels. These are Glock-totin‘ gals with southern charm who understand grits aren’t just for breakfast. These women embrace their femininity with an added boost–they aren’t afraid to go after the bad guys or say they love Jesus. This style of heroine understands her peace can be more about the caliber of the piece in her purse than the state of her spiritual life.
What makes a contemporary woman choose a career that has the potential of ending her life? Experts often point to personality differences or a “risk-gene” as an explanation why some are risk takers and others are content in less stressful lifestyles. I prefer courageous heroines who’ve been wired with a few more endorphins to balance the adrenaline, and they thrive on it.
If my heroine races down a dirt road on a Harley in the dead of night, or scales a cliff while someone is shooting at her, or stuffs a weapon into the waistband of her jeans, it’s to get the edge on the bad guys.
My heroines are not satisfied unless they are placing their lives on the line to protect or save innocent victims. These women are warriors who are trained to protect, defend, and hopefully outsmart the ones who will stop at nothing to obtain money and power.
Jack London said it quite well. “The adventurer gambles with life to heighten sensation–to make it glow for a moment.”
Of course, in a suspense novel the heroine ends up being the prey, but the heroine and the villain are balanced in their skills and intelligence. Who knows? The bad guy may be a woman.
In short, the heroines in the Call of Duty series aren’t the women next door. Hmm. Then again, they might be.
The heroine in Breach of Trust is a CIA operative posing as a librarian in rural Oklahoma where the only excitement is Friday night, high school football or an occasional twister. Her name is Paige; she thought it was quite clever considering her role as the local librarian. And the hero is a football coach who has more “on the ball” than most would think.
Sworn to Protect calls for a different heroine. Danika Morales is a border patrol agent in McAllen, TX. She’s a widow, and her four-year-old daughter is hearing impaired. Every breath is a risk in her career, and the authorities have yet to find out who murdered her husband. So how does a doctor with activist sentiments fit into her life?
Pursuit of Justice delves into the life of an FBI agent sent to solve a series of murders in an area of Texas to which she swore never to return. What she thinks is an easy case explodes in her face when the accused killer is found innocent, and a nearly four hundred year old legend about lost Spanish treasure is still claiming victims.
Yep, I like a gutsy women who can work alongside a man, and a hero who appreciates her abilities, wit, dedication–and her beauty.
For centuries, the legend of the Spider Rock treasure has lured people to West Teas with promises of unimaginable wealth.
And it just claimed three more victims.
Did they fall prey to the legend’s curse or just get too close to someone else’s discovery? To investigate the murders, the FBI calls in one of its most promising up-and-comers-Special Agent Bella Jordan. What they don’t know is that one of their prime suspects is deeply connected to the past she’s been running from for fourteen years.
As Bella begins to sift through evidence, another murder and threats on her own life convince her she’s hunting an experienced killer . . . and he’s not working alone. To catch the suspect before he catches her, Bella must draw on all her skill and instinct and finally gather the courage to face the memories she’s tried so hard to forget.