Continuing our “Meet the Authors” series, here is a guest blog post by NY Times and USA Today best-selling author, Dianne Harman…
The first thing people seem to want to know is if I’ve been an author for a long time. The answer is a resounding no! I’d never published a book until 2 ½ years ago or written one until 3 ½ years ago, and it was certainly nothing I’d planned on doing.
My husband and I were at a small boutique hotel in Palm Springs, California, for a wedding where our son was the best man. It was in October, usually a beautiful time in the desert. Not this time, the temperature was 107 degrees. I made an off-the-cuff remark which changed my life. The hotel had recently been renovated, and the air conditioning was almost silent. I remember turning to my husband and saying, “Wouldn’t it be interesting if something was put in the air conditioning that made people feel good all the time?”
He looked at me and said, “There’s your book.” I started writing Blue Coyote Motel that afternoon. The name came “Blue Coyote” came from the restaurant where we had lunch. Writing your first book at age 68? That’s crazy! If I’d thought about it, I probably never would have done it. Instead, I just did it. I’d been an English major in college and have been a voracious reader all my life, but never an author. I wrote in bits and pieces, and the thing took on a life of its own.
My son read several of my first chapters and said, “Mom, this is really good. I didn’t know you wanted to be a writer.” Truth be told, neither did I, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I finished the book and stuck it in a drawer. A couple of weeks later my husband asked if he could take a look at it. He read it for two days and then said, “It’s got to be published.” Now when you’ve been married as long as I have and your husband says something like that, it’s pretty exciting! He was a California Senator at the time, and one of his colleagues had published a book, and he set up a meeting for me.
His friend was adamant that I self-publish because he had a bad experience with a publishing house that had gone bankrupt. I began the self-publishing process with Amazon. He told me I had to become active on social media. At that time I didn’t have a Facebook account and barely knew what twitter was. It still amazes me that I have about 40,000 followers on twitter now and am also very active on Facebook, Google+, and Pinterest.
Blue Coyote won a number of awards. A screenwriter who read it urged me to write a sequel and thus, Coyote in Provence was born, followed by the third in the series, Cornered Coyote. These are suspense novels, ranging the globe.
I’ve always loved to entertain and cook and when my husband was in the Senate we had everyone from staffers to Governors to dinner. Another love of mine is dogs. We’ve rarely been without one. At the moment we have an adorable five month old boxer puppy that is happiest when she’s discovered I’ve left the door to my office open, and she can get my mouse pad and run through the house with it!
Someone suggested because of my love for dogs and food that I write a cozy mystery. I wasn’t very familiar with the genre and spent some time reading books in it. From the first few pages of the first book, I knew I’d found my home. I’d really liked writing the suspense books, but this new genre was an even better fit for me.
My husband and I had met our son and his wife at a resort in Arizona in September of 2014. I remember drinking a cup of coffee in bed and playing with my iPad one morning. I jotted down the bones of a cozy mystery plot. We got home on October 2nd and I started writing Kelly’s Koffee Shop. I have no idea where the name came from, the characters, or the plot. It was as if the characters dictated what would happen next. That was the first book in the Cedar Bay Cozy Mystery Series. Four more quickly followed I’m editing the sixth in the series. Yeah, lots of dogs, food, and even recipes.
The instant success of Kelly’s amazed me. It went to the 100 best seller list on Amazon and six months after being published, I’m still selling hundreds a day. Murder at Jade Cove, White Cloud Retreat, Marriage and Murder, Murder in the Pearl District, and the one I’m working on now, Murder at the Bar Double X Ranch are the others in the series. The published ones have all been at the top of the charts for cozy mysteries and all have been Amazon All-Stars. I’ve even been named by Amazon as one of their most popular authors. Woohoo!
Kelly, who owns Kelly’s Koffee Shop, is the amateur sleuth protagonist. Her now husband, a sheriff, and her faithful guard dog, Rebel (a boxer), have prominent roles in the books.
I was curious to see if that series was a fluke, so I undertook a new series, the Liz Lucas Cozy Mystery Series. The first book, Murder in Cottage #6, was an instant success, as is the second in the series, published recently, Murder and Brandy Boy (I mean who wouldn’t love a slobbering St. Bernard who prevents a murder!).
It’s pretty exciting to have a new career and have it be successful at this time in one’s life. I never could have predicted this. My husband’s telling people we made a very good retirement plan – “Dianne’s going to write best sellers, and we’ll live off of that!”
Who woulda thunk? Not me. So, if you’ve got a dream, go for it. You just never know what might happen!
Thank you, Dianne! You can check out Dianne’s Amazon Author Page at and check out her books if you click here or type in http://www.smarturl.it/harman into your web browser, sneak a peek at her website at www.dianneharman.com, or visit her on Twitter: @DianneDHarman