Q&A With Diane

Questions for me? Drop ’em in the “What Do You Think?” box at the bottom of the page or email me.

And now… on to the questions:

* * *

Do I know you?


If you don’t appreciate obscenity, profanity, or vulgarity, please stop reading right here.  The Diane Henders you know never uses offensive language.  At all.  Ever.  This is a simple case of mistaken identity.  Don’t read my books.  Don’t read anything else on this site.  There’s nothing to see here anyway.


Oh, and if you’re looking for a Diane Henders who owes you money, that’s not me, either.

What, you’re still reading?  Okay, then. You probably do know me.

* * *

What’s with the weasel words?

If you know me well, you probably read the item above and thought, “WTF?!?”.  Believe it or not, there are quite a few people in the world who’ve never actually heard me utter anything stronger than “crap” or “heck”.

Sometimes I restrain myself because I already know ripe language will upset them, and sometimes I hold back from sheer reflex because I don’t know them well enough to be sure (more on that here).  I’m not really two-faced.  Much.

I prefer to call it “considerate”.

* * *

Are you writing about yourself?

People frequently ask if my protagonist, Aydan Kelly, is really me.

Yeah, you got me.  My novels are an autobiography of my secret life as a government agent, working with highly-classified computer technology…  Oh, wait, what’s that?  You want the truth?  Um, you do realize fiction authors get paid to lie, don’t you?

…well, shit, that’s not nearly as much fun.  It’s also a long story.

I swore I’d never write fiction.  “Too personal,” I said. “People read novels and automatically assume the author is talking about him/herself.”

Well, apparently I lied about the fiction-writing part.  One day, a story sprang into my head and wouldn’t leave.  The only way to get it out was to write it down.  So I did.

But when I wrote that first book, I never intended to show it to anyone, so I created a character that looked like me just to thumb my nose at the stereotype. I’ve always had a defective sense of humour, and this time it turned around and bit me in the ass.

Because after I’d written the third novel, I realized I actually wanted other people to read my books.  And when I went back to change my main character to not look like me, my beta readers wouldn’t let me. They rose up against me and said, “No! Aydan is a tall woman with long red hair and brown eyes. End of discussion!”

Jeez, no wonder readers get the idea that authors write about themselves.  So no, I’m not Aydan Kelly.  I just look like her.

* * *

I couldn’t help but notice—and admire!—Aydan’s impressive potty mouth. Where on Earth did you learn those words?

I wish I’d had Aydan’s Uncle Roger to teach me the good stuff, but sadly, I had to learn it all on my own.

Let’s just say I had various unsavory sources.  And I’m a quick study – my mind seems to naturally retain filth.  I can recite three obscene limericks about testicles without a moment’s hesitation, but classic literary poetry?  Yeah, not so much.

I’d say I’m embarrassed to admit that, but you’d know I was lying.

* * *

Robert D. asks:  Why do you use such foul language and take the Lord’s name in vain in your books?  Why don’t you clean it up so everyone can enjoy the stories?

I don’t use that language because I want to intentionally offend people (though I do realize some will be offended). That’s why I offer the first book in the series for free – I think people should be allowed to judge whether my books are for them without being forced to pay.  I’m also careful not to use my characters’ language in ways that would denigrate the faith or beliefs of others, but some people simply find the casual use of “Oh, God!” offensive.  That’s one of the main differences between the culture of Canada versus the United States – in general, our usage tends to be more idiomatic than religious here (though of course that’s not always the case).

At one point I actually considered publishing an abridged version of my novels.  The sticking point came when I tried to determine what is ‘offensive’, and where to draw the line.  Some people object to a character shouting “Jesus Christ!” or other such invocations.  Others are fine with that, but find the F-word unforgivably offensive.  Still others balk at any four-letter word.  Then there’s the whole gamut of (in)tolerance for sexual content.

When I removed every potentially offensive bit of content, I found it left the characters of Aydan and Hellhound gutted because they express and present themselves in ways that are designed to hold others at an emotional distance.  Without their shields of offensive words and their substitution of physical intimacy for emotional intimacy, their character arcs are fundamentally damaged and they become two-dimensional cardboard cutouts.  So in the end I abandoned the exercise, though I may revisit it in the future if I can find a way to resolve that issue.

* * *

Do you have a particular number of books in mind for the Never Say Spy series, or are you just going to see how long Aydan will keep talking to you?

I never intended to write a series, but every time I think I’m writing the last book, the next one starts banging at my mental doors.  I really have no idea how many books there are going to be.  I’m having a blast writing them, so I guess I’ll just keep going as long as the voices keep talking.

Everybody has voices in their heads, right?


* * *

Aydan, in her late(ish) forties, is a bit older than many kick-ass heroines. Was it a conscious decision to go with that, or is that just how she came to you?

Definitely a conscious decision.  I was having a major mid-life crisis.  Everywhere I looked, the media message was that if you’re female and pushing 50, you’d better get out the Depends and hope you have children to give meaning to your pathetic existence.

And I thought, “Give me a fucking break!”

I went looking for some fiction featuring kick-ass, sexy 40+ women, and I found… nothing.  Which is preposterous.  Middle age is when we actually have the attitude and confidence to go out and find what we want, and kick ass to get it if necessary.  So I wrote what I wanted to read.

* * *

Will you critique my manuscript /review my book?

I’m flattered when writers ask for my opinion!  I wish I could do this for you, but I just don’t have the time to deal with all the requests I get, and I don’t feel right about agreeing to some but not others.  So thanks for asking, but I don’t do critiques or reviews on request.

If you’re looking for writing advice and real-life examples of critiques, I highly recommend Janice Hardy’s “Fiction University” at http://blog.janicehardy.com/.  She has a huge library of writing advice and she does critiques of writers’ submissions every week.  If you read through her entire site, you’ll get an excellent writing education.

If you’re looking for reviews for your published work, your best bet is to find a compatible reviewer from places like the Book Blogger Directory at http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/ or The Indie Book Reviewers List: http://www.theindieview.com/indie-reviewers/.

I hope this helps – wishing you all the best in your writing career!

* * *

Are Hellhound and Kane based on people in your real life? If so, can you introduce them to me? *waggles eyebrows*

Oh, don’t I wish?  I won’t say I’ve never encountered guys like them, but Hellhound and Kane aren’t based on anyone currently in my real life.  It’s probably a good thing – it might complicate matters with Hubby…

* * *

Aydan has some *cough* interesting clients in her bookkeeping business. (I’m thinking of a certain “adult toy” shop.) How much research went into your descriptions of the merchandise?

Bawdy Pillows and chocolate-scented leather are mere fig-newtons of my imagination.  But if I ever find a four-foot-tall penis-shaped body pillow with an air bladder in it, I’m gonna buy it just for laughs!

* * *

How can I stay up-to-date and get sneak peeks of your writing progress?

Check the Books page for a progress graph or look under the button for See All Books in the right-hand sidebar.  If a book is currently in progress, the ‘click here for details’ link will bring up its progress graph.

Subscribing to this blog will give you a weekly post of whatever nonsense falls out of my brain, plus extra footnotes about book progress.  If you want to have new posts emailed to you, enter your email address in the right-hand sidebar under ‘Want to subscribe?’.  If you prefer RSS, use the ‘Subscribe via RSS’ link (also in the sidebar).

Subscribing to New Book Notifications will net you an email whenever I release a new book.  Click here to sign up.

Liking my Facebook author page and/or following me on Twitter will give you access to the rest of the obscure tidbits of  my writing life.  Click here for Facebook or here for Twitter.

Welcome to the scary place that is my brain…

* * *

Chickabee Nell asks:  Why are your musical references all/most/whatever American? Shit, you guy’s have The Tragically Hip!!! And the Hip a’int no youngster thing, for those who might be in the dark… SO…what gives??? Love from Texas!

LOL! Oh, no! This is the part where I have to admit what a lousy Canadian I am. 😉

The truth is, I chose the musical references because the lyrics spoke to the theme/mood I wanted to create. I really wanted to include parts of the songs, but the copyright laws are so strict in the music industry, I couldn’t even include a few words. So I chose songs from well-known musicians like Bob Seger (I’m a huge Seger fan anyway) and the Eagles, hoping that lots of people would know the lyrics and ‘get’ the reference.

Sadly, The Hip didn’t make the cut. Nor Rush, nor The Guess Who…

Sure hope the Patriot Police don’t come and confiscate my beaver.

* * *

el Tea asks:  Would you please explain a bit of the process your books go through once the plotting and draft are done?

Thanks for a great question!  After I finish the draft it goes through editing, beta reading, and proofing before being released.

There are a couple of levels of editing:  Substantive (or developmental or structural) editing, and copy editing.

Substantive editing is a big-picture process that’s intended to improve style, clarity, and organization as well as catch errors in continuity.  The substantive editor might suggest rearrangement of paragraphs or chapters, identify plot holes, catch continuity errors such as a character with both hands occupied doing something that would require a third hand, and so forth.

Next comes copy editing, which is more focused on grammar, spelling, style, and flow.  This is where awkward phrases are smoothed out, run-on sentences are identified, and everything is double-checked to make sure the voice is consistent.

Beta reading comes next.  ‘Beta’ indicates ‘secondary’, but in this case it doesn’t mean ‘second’ in chronological order.  Writers and computer programmers use the designation ‘beta’ for the test group and ‘alpha’ for the large final audience who will buy the finished product expecting it to be error-free.  We call the group ‘beta’ because if they find errors, it’s of ‘secondary’ importance – we can still fix the mistakes before the book goes out to our alpha audience.

Where the editors generally concentrate on ‘hard’ facts such as grammar and structure, the beta readers usually return feedback about the ‘feel’ of the book.  They’ll comment on whether the plot moves too quickly or slowly, whether the story is engrossing, if there are flat spots that need to be pumped up, whether the characters are behaving consistently, whether they like or relate to the characters, and so on.  Their feedback is generally subjective, though it sometimes overlaps with the editors in evaluating plot and clarity.

Proofreading puts the final polish on the manuscript after all the structural changes are finished and the work is as good as the author, editors, and beta readers can make it.  The proofreader is looking for typos, missed words, formatting errors, grammar errors that might have been missed by the copy editor, and so forth.

There are always some mistakes that slip through despite our best efforts, but that’s where feedback from readers like you is so important.  The nice thing about e-books is that as soon as I find out about an error that was missed in the process, I can go in and fix it so subsequent readers don’t have to deal with it.

* * *

How can I make sure I have the latest version of your books?

If you’re reading on Kindle: If you log onto your account at Amazon and click on Manage Your Content and Devices, you’ll see that there are three tabs available under the main heading: Your Content, Your Devices, and Settings. If you click on the Settings tab and scroll down, you’ll find a heading for Automatic Book Update. If you toggle that to ‘On’, you should receive all the updates automatically through Whispersync. Updates are free.

If you’re reading on Apple: Your device will tell you if a new version is available and you can download it to replace the old version.  Updates are free.

If you’re reading on Kobo or Nook: Sorry, I haven’t a clue.  Your best bet is to contact their support team.  If you find out, please let me know.

If you’re downloading from Smashwords: Go to the book page and click download.  Smashwords will always have the latest version available for download, as well as all older versions that have been issued since you first bought the book. If there are no new versions, you’ll only see one download available.  Updated versions are free as long as you bought the book directly from Smashwords in the first place.

If you’re reading paperbacks: The print version is listed at the bottom of the front matter that includes the ISBN and publisher information (it’s a little notation that says v.1 or v.5 or whatever).  If you email me your version number, I can email back a document telling you the current version number and listing all the updates that have occurred since your version. I’ll do that for free, but if you want an updated paperback version you’ll need to buy another book. Sorry about that…

* * *


48 responses to “Q&A With Diane

  1. el Tea

    I just met my first Nichelle outside of your books last night. She told me that she and all the other Nichelles she has encountered were named after the actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek. Cool. She also said she’s never met a Nichelle who wasn’t black. I don’t know about that. Everyone liked Uhura, guys especially with those ultra short skirts, and Trekkies have no color barriers.


    • That’s very cool! And funny, too; because I’m a Trekkie from away back and I’ve always thought of “my” Nichele as having dark skin. It must have been a subconscious Trekkie thing!


  2. Ron Brooks

    Diane, do you plan on writing more books in this series for Ayden Kelly and the crew? I really hope so!!!
    Ron Brooks


  3. Ron Brooks

    Diane, I just finished the 11 books for Ayden Kelly. Wow, I really enjoyed your writing style and the honest sexual assessment a visual account can provide. The total package you put together with Kane, Hellhound, Spider, Stemp and OMG his parents (Wow). Your creativity is special. I am happy for you and proud of you for this achievement. My only hope is that you have more left in the tank to bring your readers more from Ayden Kelly. Your plot and the variety of iterations you have could extend this series a long time. I’ll give you an example of my commitment to your series, Although I’ve read all the books, I’d buy all the audiobooks to share with my wife on our trips cause she would love your character development as well as plots. Congratulations on this series…I am very pleased to have read these books and so happy for you for this achievement.

    Best regards,
    Ron Brooks


    • Thank you so much, Ron! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the series so much, and flattered that you’re willing to buy the audiobooks as well! I wish I had more audiobooks to offer – Book 2 is just going into production now, so it’ll be a long wait.

      I really appreciate you taking the time to write, and thank you for sharing the series with your wife, too! 🙂


  4. Elva Keip

    I’ve read all 11 books in the last few days. I can’t remember laughing so hard while being captivated by the plot lines! As an older woman, I find these books speak to me in ways that others have not. I LOVE the age and abilities of Ayden, with the realistic issues related to age that she faces. And her internal voice just slays me! Probably because it’s quite close to my own, although I don’t face all the work-related “problems” she does in the books. Keep going, please!!! The young ones need to know that life gets better after 40 and, frankly, even after 50.


    • Hi Elva – I’m so glad you loved Aydan and her adventures! I have a blast writing her and the rest of the gang, so it makes my day to hear from someone who really connects with them and the stories. If Aydan’s voice is like your own, it must be fun inside your head!

      I’ve been struggling to find time for Book 12 during the upheaval of our impending move but I’m hoping for some quality writing time soon, and your encouragement really helps. Thanks for taking the time to drop by and comment! 🙂


  5. Pingback: Watch Your Language, Young Lady! – Never Say Spy Virtual Backyard Book Club

  6. el Tea

    Wow! I just noticed that you retired from your business, Bright Ideas. I’m very happy for you that things are going so well that you can follow your greater love (I assume). I’m sad for your workers to be let go and for your clients to be left clueless about their software and how to get the most from it. But most of all that you’d let go of the best name one could ever have for a business.

    (Evil grin). Does this mean we will get more books per year from you? Or will it mean you will become a better kickboxing belly dancing artist and piano player who spends more time with her family and friends at her perfectly restored home? Or who travels incessantly in her perfectly restored cars or on her new Hog?


    • Thanks, el Tea! It was actually a happy occasion all around – with the downturn in the petroleum industry, business had dwindled and I only had my most trusted right-hand man left. When he gave me his two-years notice (yes, you read that right – two years – that’s a loyal employee), I decided to wind the company down instead of trying to replace him. Writing has made up the bulk of my income for the past few years anyway, and I’m glad to be able to focus on it now (but I still own the Bright Ideas name). 🙂

      I don’t know if the extra time will translate into more books per year or not – so far I’ve been busy getting caught up on neglected things like the audiobook versions of the Never Say Spy series. (I had planned to release the first one in January; now I’m hoping to have it out by July. Sigh.) I’ve also got new covers finished for the Inappropriate series, so they all need to be re-released.

      But I am hoping to have a bit more personal time, too – after years of working 10 – 14 hour days, 7 days a week, 50 weeks per year, I needed some recharge time. Not to mention some practice time – I sat down at the piano yesterday and discovered I was horribly rusty. I wish I had Blue Eddy’s talent!


  7. Just finished Never Say Spy, well, blew through it actually.I resented having to stop reading long enough to care for my family and sleep. I love Aydan’s kick-ass-now-and-ask-questions-later attitude. I loved Hellhound, and Hooker, I loved…ah hell, I loved the whole thing. Now I am absolutely hooked (pun intended) on your series. Thank you for making Aydan in her 40’s. I’m so tired of so few kick ass women in their 40’s and with creaking knees.
    Now I’m off to get an Amazon card so I can buy and consume the rest of the series while I recover from my hysterectomy.
    Keep writing!


    • Oh, ouch! Hysterectomies are no fun – I hope your recovery is quick. And I’m so glad you enjoyed Aydan and the gang in Never Say Spy – thank you for taking the time to come by and tell me. I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I just finished reading books 1 and a
    2 in less than 48hours. As a former red head and almost 66 kick ads kinda woman,,,keep on keeping on, age doesn’t matter. Ayden Kelly can keep going into her 60’s, I’ll still be reading her till I’m gone,


  9. Zoë

    I am a young teenager, and I found your book great. I read it in 3 hours, and totally loved it. I loved how Kelly goes against most spy stereotypes, that they’re young, in love and have never really seen life. I now have motivation to finnish my homework, as I am allowed to buy the next book when I have. You have given me a reason to work hard. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Zoë! Wow, the whole book in 3 hours – you must be even more of a speed-reader than I am! 😉 I’m so glad Never Say Spy helped you slog through your homework, and I hope you enjoy The Spy Is Cast when you get to it. Thanks for dropping by – I appreciate your kind words! (And good luck with the homework.)


      • Zoë

        I have just finished the second book. It is half one in the morning and I don’t regret it. Not even in the slightest. I can’t wait to get the next book, as I really want to know what happens next. Your books have now officially topped my last of best books ever. Thank you.


        • Thanks, Zoë, I’m glad you enjoyed it, and I’m so flattered to be on your ‘best books’ list! I hope the rest of the series lives up to your expectations. (And I hope you recover from your late night.) 😉


          • Zoë

            Don’t worry, I recovered by sleeping till half twelve, then buying and reading the next book. Crickey o blimey, the books just keep geting better!

            Liked by 1 person

  10. I have just read all 9 books in the Spy series…in the last 4 days. You’re killing me. I have no clean dishes, very little clean laundry, and the dust bunnies are taking over! THANK YOU! I can’t wait for book 10!


    • Yikes, that’s brutal! I’d apologize, but it’d be insincere – I’m actually pumped that you enjoyed the series that much. 😉 Thanks for letting me know – that made my day! And good luck in your fight against the dust bunnies.


  11. Lorraine Rock

    I just finished the first book (in one night), and wrote my review on Amazon. (I intend to read the whole series.) BTW I AM a punctuation nut, but I found nothing to bitch about LOL. From one middle aged formerly red-haired Canadian to another, Rock on Babe!


    • Hi Lorraine! Thank you for taking the time to write a review – I really appreciate that. And how cool to ‘meet’ my twin! I’m glad you liked Never Say Spy, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the series! 🙂


  12. Maia

    I am the same age as the series’ heroine and I totally appreciate you creating her and giving her the chance to kick some ass instead of accepting her undeserved place in the “traditional female middle age folder”. Thank you for that, Diane.


  13. raroxs

    I absolutely love your series and I am going crazy for the next book in the Never Say Spy series to come out! When I found this site and realized I could track the progress of the 7th book I think I hit a new stalker level in my life… it sounds even more stalkerish written out. 🙂 I found the Never Say Spy because I was looking for a book about a girl who could kick butt and after the first few pages I was hooked, not even funny hooked I think I read all the books in three days (shows how much free time I have) ! I love your writing and this series keep writing!


    • LOL! Welcome, Stalker. I’m flattered that you kicked your stalking game up a notch for Never Say Spy! 😉 And wow, all the books in three days – sounds like you devour books as fast as I do.

      I just sent Book 8: Spy Now, Pay Later out for final proofing a few minutes ago, so I’m getting excited about releasing it! I never know how long the proofing will take, but I’m hoping to get it finalized sometime in the next couple of weeks.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting – it’s so great to get your encouragement!


  14. Absolutely love your books and have gobbled up all of them since discovering the first as a Kindle freebie a couple of months ago and cannot wait for No.8 to appear! Just keep that fertile brain of yours working to keep Aydan and co going as long as you can….. Five stars for all so far and many thanks for the hours of reading enjoyment.


    • Hi Anne – I’m glad you’re enjoying the series! Thank you so much for dropping by to tell me. 🙂

      I’m hard at work on Book 8, I promise! I just hit the 50% mark last week…


  15. Beth McGreagor

    “I went looking for some fiction featuring kick-ass, sexy 40+ women, and I found… nothing. Which is preposterous.”

    What about Sara Paretsky and Sue Grafton? They both have an awesome series featuring a kick-ass 40+ female and they’ve been writing for years, their books landing on the NY Times bestseller list many times.

    Your series sounds like a good read too. Will give it a try.


  16. Why are your musical references all/most/whatever American?

    Shit, you guy’s have The Tragically Hip!!! And the Hip a’int no youngster thing, for those who might be in the dark…

    SO…what gives???

    Love from Texas!


    • LOL! Oh, no! This is the part where I have to admit what a lousy Canadian I am. 😉

      The truth is, I chose the musical references because the lyrics spoke to the theme/mood I wanted to create. I really wanted to include parts of the songs, but the copyright laws are so strict in the music industry, I couldn’t even include a few words. So I chose songs from well-known musicians like Bob Seger (I’m a huge Seger fan anyway) and the Eagles, hoping that lots of people would know the lyrics and ‘get’ the reference.

      Sadly, The Hip didn’t make the cut. Nor Rush, nor The Guess Who…

      Sure hope the Patriot Police don’t come and confiscate my beaver.


  17. Jr Hill

    Wow Mrs. Henders, I must say I love this series and cant wait for the next book(s) to come out. I am quite hooked, looking forward to the next installment. Though I am chewing my nails a bit………..


  18. Pingback: Beautiful, Sunshiny, Versatile… And Lazy | Diane Henders

  19. wow, very cool. Its an achievemnent most writers dream of accomplishing in their lifetime. You definitely got it going on!


  20. Pingback: Yeah, I Guess Versatile Would Describe Me and My Blog… « Diana Murdock's Blog

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s