Writer Interviews: Donnell Bell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that Donnell Bell, the author of THE PAST CAME HUNTING, may be one of the nicest, most supportive, most positive people I’ve ever met in my life. And I’m not the only person to think this. If that’s not enough, she’s a great writer to boot. I love her debut book and can’t wait to read everything else Donnell puts on paper. I know you’ll love her and her writing, as well. Here’s the wonderful Donnell Bell in her own words:

 

1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

My schedule varies, depending on family obligations, exercise routine, and more, but I try to get in around four to six hours a day – I work hard to treat writing as a job.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Call a cop. ;) I’ve heard people say there’s no such thing as writer’s block, and in a sense, I think that’s true. But there is such a thing as plot development problems. I received some advice to write around it and come back to it.

That doesn’t work for me. If I write something wrong in one scene, I have found I actually create additional plot problems down the road. So, I stop and research and do my best to make sure I’ve got it right and then I can proceed with confidence.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

Oh gosh, so many. Here’s some I just happened to pull off a shelf that’s within arm’s reach:

Goal Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Her book is a staple of the industry!

Fearless Creating: Eric Maisel, Ph.D

Getting the Words Right, How to Rewrite Edit & Revise by Theodore A. Reese Cheney  (this one is dog-eared.)

On Writing by Stephen King

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins

Break into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love

I could go on but then we’d need a two-part blog ;)

4. Who do you read for fun?

Great question. I’ll name one:  Daniel Silva is on my autobuy list. There are too many others and if I listed them, we would have to make this a three-part blog.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

When Sister Francis Louise told me I did, followed up by Sister Virginia Mary who said the same thing. They told me I was a writer. They gave me assignments much like improvisation. They fueled my love of writing in the sixth and seventh grade. That love got buried for a few years, but never my love of storytelling. In the courtroom, (former court reporter), I hung on every word. I found out I was a great listener. Later, when I went to work editing and writing for newspapers and magazines, I was reinspired.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Surround yourself with positive people. If you have a passion for writing, write. Read. Become familiar with your genre. Study craft. Know that the bestsellers, unless very lucky, didn’t get there overnight. Commit yourself to becoming the best writer you can be. Listen, but discern what’s useful for the vision of your story. Have fun. When it’s not fun anymore, you know what to do . . .

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

What I said above, and a huge stubborn streak helps. Belief in yourself and your vision for the story is monumental. Give your work to ten editors and agents, ten editors, and agents will give you ten ways to change it. A stubborn streak isn’t just helpful, it’s required.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

My Aunt Stella’s Platillo. Coffee.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Oh gosh, another test. I love “An American President,” and the movie “Dave.” Wouldn’t it be great if politics really did have a happy ending?

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

A critique partner once said to me you’ll write a million words before you’re any good. I thought she was ridiculous. Now I think she’s the most brilliant woman I know. If you’re on 100,000 now, you better get to work.

Thanks very much for the opportunity, Kristi!

 

Donnell Ann Bell is an award winning author whose debut book, THE PAST CAME HUNTING, recently made it into the top 100 of Amazon and stayed in the top 20 for several days. At the time she was writing this blog, she was #1 in Romantic Suspense and #2 & 3 in Suspense for the same amount of time. She is proud to be published by Bell Bridge Books. To read a chapter not used in THE PAST CAME HUNTING, check out her website at www.donnellannbell.com

 

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Books & Flicks: Carol O’Connell and Amy Plum

 BOOKS

First, let me say I mentioned all of these books last week here except the one I am currently reading: DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum.

In my effort to read some of the authors my agent, Stacey Glick, represents, I stumbled across this writer.

Anyway, I came across Amy Plum and was entranced by her eye-catching blog, which is a lot like her amazing cover to her book. I can honestly say this cover is one of my favorite covers ever. I just love every single thing about it — the color, the Paris skyline, the black scroll, the girl’s dress!!!

But, alas, you can’t judge a book by its cover. Luckily, the writing is great and the story is enthralling. So far,  (I’m about one-fith of the way in, it is  about an American teenager who moves to Paris to live with her grandparents after her parents are killed in a car crash. She is dealing with this earth-shattering loss when she meets a captivating teenage boy who is not quite what he seems in a really, sexy, dangerous way. I can’t wait to read more. Paris. Young love. Bad boys. Otherworldly qualities. Bring it on!

As a matter of fact, as soon as I finish this post, I’m tucking myself into bed with a glass of pinot noir and this beautiful little book. Yay me!

And sadly, that is just a postcard for Adriana Trigiani’s new book, THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE. I’m going to pick that book up this weekend. I adore Trigiani. What’s not to love about a woman who writes like a rock star and then calls my bookclub for fun. When I picked up the phone, she said, “Hey, baby, what’s happening?”

Oh, Carol O’Connell how I admire you. A member of my writing group, Mickie, first told me about O’Connell’s Mallory character and I’ve been hooked ever since. I can’t stop reading books about Mallory who is a loveable sociopath. This one exceeded my expectations with Mallory and the murder mystery. The story of the murder mystery was very compelling partly because it was (SPOILeR) tied to a crime committed years before by children.

FLICKS

Secondhand Lions — I’d like to give a shout out to my Minnesota friend Val (versus my Vancouver friend Val) for this movie recommendation. I got it for family movie night and honestly cried a few times throughout and basically sat and sobbed at the end while my children looked at me like I was a crazy woman.

I just kept looking at them and saying, “This is just SUCH a good movie. It’s so good.”

Well, the six-year-old and the eight-year-old were less impressed. I suspect they might be a little young to appreciate the finer points of such a beautiful story. But who cares? I loved it. I’ve watched enough Disney movies over the past eight years that I can have at least one family movie night just for me.

(I am however, interested in any other family movie night recommendations! This is a weekly thing, folks, and like coming up with something new to blog everyday, can be a bit challenging. ; )

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This Writer’s Life: When just one person believes in you …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In fourth grade, I was such a bookworm that I received a gift from my teacher, Mrs. Ward — this thesaurus (pictured above). I still treasure what she wrote inside:

 To Kristine:

For reading 16 books

 in six weeks with a total of 2629 pages!!!!

Keep reading Kristine –

maybe someday you’ll be a writer of children’s books.

Love from,

Mrs. Ward

 

I have hauled this old book around for 35 years. Holy smokes!

And if you ask anyone who really knows me — that’s quite a feat.

Let me take you on a little tangent about why this is significant.

This is possibly the only childhood belonging that has survived years of decluttering and cross-country moves.

I left home at 17 and since then have lived in 17 different houses or apartments in just about as many different cities. In fact, right now I have set a record by staying in one place for seven years.

One of my moves from Los Angeles to Seattle involved my boyfriend and I packing our belongings into the back of a Dodge Colt. We fit all of our worldly possessions in that bad boy. Everything. All my stuff included that little book.

Now, back to writing and fourth grade:

With the faith and encouragement of my beloved teacher, I sat down to write my novel.

I probably wrote about fifty pages in longhand about some girl who ended up on a desert island and played with the seals or something. But I never could get past those first fifty pages. My heart was broken. I would never be a writer! I had no clue where that story should go and what should happen next. (Oh, if only I would have known then what I know now! Keep writing. Study story. Learn about writing craft.) So, discouraged, I set my grand novel aside and decided I was a better reader than writer.

Then, years later, I was studying business in college. But when I thought about my future career, I was filled with dread. I wanted to be a writer, but that was such a nebulous career path. How could I survive doing that? I had zero confidence in my ability to write. But then I was flipping through the college catalog and saw that they had journalism as a major. Bingo. A way to write and still have a guaranteed income.

From my very first journalism class, I was hooked — and obsessed. I graduated and eventually fought my way up to a daily newspaper job. I thought I’d do it until I died. But to my surprise, when I had kids, my passion for them replaced my passion for a job that could care less if you had a sick kid or needed to pick them up from daycare.

I had so many stories from being a crime reporter. Stories that prove truth is stranger than fiction. Thinking about these stories, I realized it was finally time to write a novel. I finally knew how to write a book. I even knew which book to write, one about a crime reporter living in the Bay Area. The book — BLESSED ARE THE DEAD — gestated in my mind for a while because finding the time to write wasn’t a priority when my kids were very young. Getting enough sleep got top billing.

Then, when my youngest started kindergarten, I found I had two, whole, whopping hours to myself. Every day! It seems the less time I have to do something the more I get done. I had a rough draft in a few months. It took nearly 40 years to do it, but I was able to write a book. And I’ve started two more!

I now work as a freelance writer from home, but I still guard those two hours every morning and use them to write my fiction. A lot of people say they don’t have time to pursue their passions, but I think most people could find two spare hours a day.

I recently interviewed an amazing writing and writing instructor, Jess Lourey, and she said it best: “Here’s what I tell my students: the trick isn’t finding time to write. The trick is making writing important to you, and we all make time for what is important.”

PS Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a copy of Owen Laukkanen’s THE PROFESSIONALS here. You can read about him in my interview two weeks ago, as well.

 

 

 

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Weekend: Inspirations/Book Giveaway

 

I was so excited to read THE PROFESSIONALS that I pre-ordered it from Amazon in June. As the release date approached (March 29) I checked on Amazon and they told me I would receive it in the mail April 4th. I was not happy. So, the morning of March 29th, I was at my nearby big box bookstore when it opened, asking for a copy of the book. The clerk told me they wouldn’t receive their copies until April 4th. Drat!!

I slunk back home. When I arrived, I saw a small package on the front porch. It was from Putnam Books. It was an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of THE PROFESSIONALS. Apparently, I had won a copy of the book. Happy, happy, joy, joy. I could not believe my luck.

I ripped through it and then around April 3rd or so (yeah, so what it was a day early) got my pre-ordered Amazon copy in the mail. So, then I had two copies of THE PROFESSIONALS. In the spirit of my good luck in receiving the book on the day I so badly wanted it, I’ve decided to offer up the second book in a giveway. All you have to do is comment between now and Sunday, April 15th on this post. (Hopefully it will take away the sting of tax day for the winner.) I will use the random number generator to pick a winner from those who comment. Good luck.

 

And speaking or random, now some random inspirations and/or things that make me happy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food Friday: A day in the life

 

No recipes today. I adore food, but besides dinner, I am a pretty boring creature of habit, eating mostly the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. I try to get crazy during dinner time, but even that is regimented. For instance, every single Friday I have pizza. Here’s a look at it in photos. Do you have a regimented food routine or do you mix it up more?

 

Breakfast: Yogurt, granola (see last Food Friday post), fresh fruit, flaxseed meal, coffee (times about five)

Snack: Grapes and Green Tea

Lunch: Salmon, quinoa, asparagus, green tea

Dinner: Pizza, gin & tonic

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