The Life I’m Living and the Life I’m Observing

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DiAnn MillsDiAnn Mills is a bestselling author 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; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

peopleI’m a lot like you. Average in so many ways. I’m a wife, mother, grandmother, sister, daughter, neighbor, friend … and writer. Perhaps the last descriptor is what makes me different from most people. Yet the life I’m living and the life I’m observing are much the same.

I write suspense. That means I look at the world through the eyes of my imagination—and possible crime. Nothing is ever as it seems. People, events, situations all have the potential to leap onto the pages of a book. Story ideas jump at me like mosquitoes in summer. I hear part of a conversation twist it into a crime or a victim’s response. I see people interacting and wonder if someone is in danger. I focus on media reports, and “what-if”sparks a story idea.

I also believe in national and worldwide awareness. One doesn’t need to be a media junky to understand what is going on in the world, country, state, and local news. Developing a habit of diving into real happenings makes me a concerned citizen of this planetFirewall copy—and a better writer. When I talk to those in the world I’m living, I want to contribute to the conversation. When I write in the world I’m observing, I need accuracy.

My participation in the FBI Houston’s Citizens Academy has helped me blend the life I’m living and the life I’m observing. During seven weeks of seminars that showed the role of an FBI special agent and the various departments that prevent and solve crimes, I learned what goes on while the rest of us are busy with our own lives. Wherever I go, whether it’s the grocery story, the mall, church, or the Post Office, I’m more aware of people and their surroundings.

Now my family, friends, and neighbors do view me as a little quirky. I’ve also heard eccentric and bizarre. But I don’t mind. My husband often warns people to be careful what they say because it might end up in my next novel. And I hear the best dialogue at restaurants. Between my active imagination and the world around me, I’m creating stories for others to read. Not a bad swap.

Blending everything about my life makes me a better person and writer. What about you?


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  1. Like you, DiAnn, I live life while observing it, too. When I began writing I became much more aware of the world around me. I’ll overhear two people talking, and my active imagination will churn out the rest of the conversation. I’ll see a person trudge past me in a store wearing a sad expression and ponder what might be going on in her life. An evocative scent wafts in the air, and my writer’s senses take notice, figuring out ways to work it into a story. Fun stuff!

  2. It’s such a relief when I hear stories like yours. I write mystery/suspense, too. I also snatch up minute details around me and toss them into a salad of mystery and mayhem. To hear that I am not the only person who does this is an encouragement to me. Thanks. My husband says the same thing to people. As he speaks the words, my mind is already chasing a plot. God has given us a special gift. Quirky is good.

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