Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Three, two, one...

Three, two, one – ready or not – Dallas, here I come!!!

The reason I’m making the 3 ½ hour trek from Houston to the Big D is ‘cause I’m off to another writer’s conference. I pray this one turns out a little more successful than the one I went to in Colorado last year. Repeat after me – Murphy’s Law.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Mr. Murphy running rampid in their lives, let me fill you in on how he works. Oh, and to add a little flavor and make it a little more fun, I’m going to use a trick that Letterman uses – I’m going to give you Nettie’s Top 5 List.

How you know Murphy’s Law is present at a writer’s conference:

#5: You go to your first appointment with a publisher (which you signed up for beforehand) and give your spiel, only to be stopped after 5 minutes when the young girls (could have been your daughter) tells you their publishing house doesn’t take devotionals. You wonder why she didn’t stop you after 30 seconds. She must have known she didn’t take them then, too.

#4: Between classes, you go to the auditorium to familiarize yourself to where you’re meeting with an agent later in the day. You ask an official looking person with a badge on a question. Their response, “You need to get to your next class.” (Well, I hope you’re having a good day, too!!!)

#3: You’re sitting at one of the round table eating breakfast. You, and the others at the table, talk and laugh about a variety of subjects, but never does anyone mention who you’re sharing the meal with. Since you’re one to always entertain the crowd; you mention you’re a HUGE Elvis and Barry Manilow fan. Telling them your most embarrassing moment concerning Elvis (I promise I’ll share it in a later blog). Anyway, at the end of the meal you find out you’ve been sitting with a publisher from Bethany House and another lady, right next to you, is a multi-published author. So much for them wanting anything you’ve ever written.

#2: You and three friends decide to go into town for pizza the second night (what does this have to do with the writer’s conference – not a darn thing, but I know Murphy was responsible). As you’re leaving the YMCA grounds, one of the ladies sees a wolf, or two, or three (how many make a pack?). You yourself have never been up and personal with a wolf in all your years in Colorado, but you feel certain you are all safe behind the closed doors of the rented Ford. But your friend is beginning to hyperventilate and just stares out the rear window. She told you she was making sure they weren’t following us into town (JAT, I love ya, and you know who you are-HA!).

Drum roll, please!!!! The #1 reason is:

#1: You go back to the auditorium to meet with the agent. Your eyes catch sight of a commotion going on in front of her. You sit down to chat and she tells you what happened. The older man sitting on the floor had fallen down, and because of his advanced age the conference officials were afraid to move him. He sat there while you tried to talk to the agent. In the 5 minutes you spent with her, you only got to share a little bit about yourself. Even that, she didn’t seem interested in. Your work in progress not the big news of the afternoon. (Hey, maybe I should have sat down next to the older gentleman – might have gotten the agent's attention that way. I guess I’ll never know.)

So, now I’ve signed up for another conference, and boy, I can hardly wait to see what's going to happen. I just hope that Mr. Murphy stays home. I don’t think my writing career could take another dose of him this year.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

When The Nile Runs Red - Part 2

Good morning, everyone. Welcome back for When The Nile Run Red - Part 2 with DiAnn Mills. In today blog she'll answer some questions about how she came to write this fiction novel. She'll share with us her heart for the needs of others less fortunate. I hope her story inspires us to write about what we're passionate about.

DiAnn, what inspired you to write this novel?

I had previously written a nonfiction book about the Lost Boys of Sudan – Lost Boy No More. From that research, I wrote the novel When the Lion Roars, but the story would not let me go.

Through numerous interviews and extensive reading, I grew to love and admire the courageous Sudanese people and was burdened by their incredible needs. I had to bring them back in When the Nile Runs Red.

Why Sudan?

This country went through nearly two decades of civil war strife. In 1983, the northern government launched a holy war against the south. This grew out of the views of the Islamic north against the mostly Christian black African south. The war had three aspects: religion, politics, and oil. The atrocities committed against the southern people are too many to list, but the war was fought in the south through genocide.

How did you conduct your research?

I grabbed my backpack and sun screen and traveled to Juba, Sudan, the southern capital. There I stayed at a Christian compound and met with southern Sudanese from all walks of life: refugees, political leaders, and church leaders. I talked to as many people as I could, snapped pictures, and listened to what was being said.

Regarding your trip to Sudan, what touched you the most?

The incredible faith. I could look into a Sudanese’s eyes and see the pain of persecution and the hope of Jesus. Here, we say we love Jesus while we live in our huge homes, drive our fancy cars, are well-fed, are not hunted down for our faith, or are concerned about medical care. The Sudanese understand that all they have and need is Jesus.

Can you give us a brief description of your characters?

Paul Farid was once a Muslim who actively persecuted the southern people, but now he’s a Christian who flies dangerous missions into war-torn areas to deliver food and medical supplies.

Dr. Larson Kerr Farid risks her life to bring healing to the Sudanese. Just like her husband Paul, her life is often in danger. But there is a problem between her and Paul with no easy solution.

Colonel Ben Alier has been fighting and leading the southern army of Sudan for nearly two decades. Often referred to as a warlord, Ben fights his own demons.

The three are friends, an unlikely friendship forged by their love for Sudan.

How do you build your plots?

Always out of character with two simple words: what-if? John Gardner said to create the best possible characters and allow the worst possible things to happen to them. That says it all. It’s easy to coat our darlings with easy trials and struggles, but the hard stuff, the struggles that define the character are what has to happen. I’m a huge fan of Donald Maass and wouldn’t consider writing a paragraph without using techniques found in his books Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

What are you goals for this novel?

To increase awareness about the situation in Sudan and to share my passion for the Sudanese people through a compelling story.

The proceeds for this novel go back to aid the Sudanese.

What do you hope the readers will gain?

To lose themselves in the novel. That’s every writer’s goal. But I also want the reader to sense a call to action and support the Sudanese cause.

What is your next project?

I’m currently writing a romantic suspense series with a working series title of “Behind the Sunglasses”.

Aside from your passion for writing, what else are you doing?

Speaking to groups about the situation in Sudan. Teaching at writer’s conferences. Conducting Fiction Mentoring Clinics. These are small groups who work closely together for three work-filled days to develop their craft.

How can readers learn more about what you are doing?

Check out my website at I have sections about Sudan, and for readers, and writers. Those signing up for my newsletter get to download a chapter of an upcoming release.

DiAnn, thanks for stopping for a visit. It's been a pleasure chatting with you. See ya soon, my friend.