I'm very happy to welcome my friend Donnell Ann Bell to the Fuzzies today. I was fortunate enough to read portions of Donnell's new release when she was writing it, and I'm thrilled that I'll soon be reading the whole story. Without further ado, take it away, Donnell!



Follow your Dreams, but while you’re at it, follow your heart.

Hello, Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers.  I’m honored to be here with you, particularly because this is the last stop on my debut promotional tour of THE PAST CAME HUNTING with a subject that is very near and dear to me.  

A few years ago, when the publishing industry was stuck knee-deep in gatekeeper mire, authors were wracking their brains as to how they could claw through those tight-fitting publishing doors.  It was an interesting and frustrating time as writers were lodged in a Catch 22.  Write something fresh, the experts would tell us.  Then they would turn around and say, “Too out of the box.  Have you read So & So?  Give us something like this.”

During that same time period when I still believed in that model and thought it actually worked, I became Overall Daphne Coordinator for the Kiss of Death Chapter.  That was when my gray matter started to change—because in the Daphne Contest, I read some phenomenal entries that in my subjective opinion were excellent and deserved to be out there.  

During that same time period, something else happened.  I attended a workshop where the editors told us exactly what they were looking for.  And as everyone in the room scrambled for their notebooks, I sat there, one of the few, who didn’t whip out my own.  Why?  Because I didn’t write what they were suggesting.  

Also, I must add a crucial point here:  NOR DID I WANT TO.

I’ve written eight books to date, eight novels that when I get them out and re-read, I connect with the characters and fall in love all over again.  They are part of me, and because I’m passionate about the genre and the subject of the stories, I believe that passion shows through.

Back to that Catch 22 again.  I’ve heard editors and agents say, “Don’t write to the market.”  But I submit, Pink Fuzzies, wasn’t that workshop I attended where the editors told us exactly what they were looking for just the opposite of that advice?
 
As a debut author, I’m watching the industry with great interest, and I wouldn’t presume to give my fellow authors advice, save one.  Whatever road you take in this topsy turvy world of publishing (traditional, small press, indy publishing), be true to yourself as an author.  If an editor suggests a topic for you to write about and your muse goes crazy and says, let’s do it, by all means, make that story your own.  But if you’re doing it to gain the title of published author, you might want to rethink it. I believe it’ll reflect negatively in your writing. 

There’s not a thing wrong with following your dreams, just as long as while you do it, you follow your heart.  


And now, ta da! Here's an excerpt from The Past Came Hunting:


One of the so-called rules in romantic suspense is not to make your children too old. You’ll note here that my heroine has a teenaged son. If I didn’t follow my heart, this book would never have seen publication.  Scenes like these were why I just had to follow through and write THE PAST CAME HUNTING. 

His neighbor stood on the doorstep, looking tired, beautiful and as vulnerable as he’d found her last night. She’d swept her auburn hair into a ponytail. Dressed in skin-tight jeans and a turtleneck, Melanie Norris looked more like a college student than the mother of a fifteen year old.
        The November wind picked up and she rubbed her arms. “I’m sorry to bother you, Lieutenant.”
Joe opened the screen door. “Come in.”
“No. I’m only here―”
“You’re freezing. Come in.”
        Rolling her eyes, she stepped into the entryway. “I want it clear I’m trying to respect your wishes―”
“I have a fire going. Let’s talk in here.” He turned, hoping she’d follow.
The ploy worked.
Her expression wary, Melanie accompanied him into the den. She took one look at his clock collection and blinked. For most, they were conversation starters. Joe had no doubt he was the last person she wanted to make idle chat with, and, therefore, must have had a reason for coming. “Last night you said you wanted to keep the boys apart, but now Matt’s over at my house. I don’t want him getting into trouble on my account.”
“I gave him permission. I’m not completely heartless, Mrs. Norris. Matt wanted to check on Luke.”
        Joe’s tone must’ve not set well. She arched an eyebrow and looked toward the door like he carried a disease, and she wasn’t about to stand there and catch it. “Fine. That’s all I came to say.”
“How is he?” Joe didn’t want her to leave. Not yet. Melanie Norris intrigued him.
She shoved her hands in her back pockets, pulling tight the ribbed sweater. “Luke?”
Immediately Joe’s gaze fell from her face to her breasts. He jerked his head upward. With the fire reflecting in eyes the color of the bourbon on his shelf, he issued a silent Damn.
“He’s okay, I guess. Disappointed. He thinks his life’s over because he’ll be on crutches for a week. But Coach Hood will have Luke riding a stationary bike and working with the trainers. . .” Evidently remembering that Joe was the enemy, Melanie’s lips formed a straight line. “Anyway, thanks for letting Matt come over. It means a lot to Luke.” She turned to leave.
“Mrs. Norris.”
She faced him. “Yes?”
“Why did you stay in CaƱon City?”
“What?”
“I’m curious. Why not leave after you were paroled? Why stay in a place that, no doubt, must’ve held bad memories?”
Two red stains appeared on her cheeks and she lowered her lashes.
The damn file, Joe thought. It’s true. For some crazy reason, he’d hoped she’d explain it away.
“I’m surprised you don’t already know the answer to that, Lieutenant.”
“I’ve heard one side. I want your version.”
Her hip brushed a ruler resting on the edge of the desk. She managed to catch it before it fell. Her eyes flashed as she smacked it against her palm. “I don’t owe you an explanation, so I’m only going to say this once. Luke is a good kid. No matter what you think of me, he doesn’t deserve your wrath. And why I stayed is none of your business.”

Donnell Ann Bell is a proud debut author with Bell Bridge Books.  She is also an award-winning author for her fiction.  To learn more about how she follows her heart, check out her web page, www.donnellannbell.com

One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Past Came Hunting! 

Thank you so much for visiting us today, Donnell!

43 comments

  1. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 9:21 AM  

    Good morning, Pink Fuzzies. So nice to be here. I'd love to hear from you. Were you with me at National? Did you pick up that notebook and take note of what the editor wanted, or were you stubborn like me. Curious minds want to know. Barbara, thanks for having me!

  2. Barbara Monajem // October 21, 2011 at 9:41 AM  

    Hi, Donnell. I think I've ended up with a sort of compromise -- trying to fit what I write within the genres I've chosen, but making sure the characters and their story are something I want to tell. The rest is up to the muse...

  3. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 10:08 AM  

    Barbara, exactly. You have to want to tell that story. It's the same as holding a job you have no interest in, the hours will drag. Notice when you're writing something you love, there's not enough hours in the day, and it's such a "full" satisfying feeling.

  4. Connie Gillam // October 21, 2011 at 10:57 AM  

    Donnell-

    A very timely topic for me at the moment. I'm caught in that writing nightmare. After years of writing, I just want to get published, but I despair it will ever happen. You're an inspiration. Thanks for blogging on this subject.

  5. Adrienne Giordano // October 21, 2011 at 11:10 AM  

    Hi Donnell. Wonderful post! I completely agree. I have a book that released last month that was rejected time and again because the heroine in the book is a sexual abuse survivor. Some of the editors and agents I queried told me they weren't comfortable with the sexual abuse angle. I wasn't willing to change that aspect of the book because it made my heroine who she was.

    Carina Press bought the book last year and I was thrilled when they didn't try to change my damaged heroine. Even better, since the book has been released, I've received 4 and 5 star reviews for it. After all my worrying that readers/reviewers wouldn't like my Izzy, they've accepted and cheered for her. It makes me a little weepy!

    The lesson I've learned is editors and agents don't always guess right as to what readers want. They're people just like us and can only go with their instincts. It doesn't mean the project isn't publishable.

  6. VR Barkowski // October 21, 2011 at 11:11 AM  

    Congrats on THE PAST CAME HUNTING, Donnell! Well deserved, and I'm so darn proud of you! (And that's not even mentioning this great post.)

    I think when agents/editors say they're looking for something "new," what they mean is they're looking for the "next big thing." Moreover, they want it to be obvious so they can avoid any possible risk.

    I'm a people pleaser and would write to rules if I could. Alas, I cannot. Although I've always considered myself a mystery/crime writer, I recently dropped all pretensions to genre for this very reason. It's a scary proposition, and if I'm never published it will hurt. But to not write what's in my heart would kill me.

  7. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 11:30 AM  

    Connie, as someone who has read your FANTASTIC, FANTASTIC writing, I feel your pain. Remember, not too many months ago, I was right there with you. The great news is that with everything I've read of yours, I'm quite certain, you've followed your heart. It certainly shows. It'll happen one way or another because you're too talented to remain in a drawer. Hugs, my friend.

  8. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 11:35 AM  

    Adrienne! Kudos, major kudos on believing in the most important thing an author can believe in. Himself (or in your case ) herself. You could have capitulated and changed that book to fit the market, that or an editor's inability to take risk. But you stuck to your guns, and guess what? Readers are deciding by those 4 & 5 star reviews their tolerance levels. Well done!!! I'm so proud of you for following your heart!

  9. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 11:38 AM  

    Viva. I think if people knew how we know each other, they might understand this pride we have in each other. Viva and I have critiqued on a mystery group before. She wowed me with her depth, with her intelligent, thoughtful thriller approach. She's agented now and I hope that agent sees what I see in Viva's writing. Bestseller material. She had me quaking in my boots a number of times. I never saw you as a people pleaser, I just saw you as someone who told a story expertly and followed her heart! Yay!!!

  10. Dale Mayer // October 21, 2011 at 12:43 PM  

    Good Morning Donnell and Mary!

    I don't fit into the box of what agents and editors want! I also have a little too much suspense or not enough romance!

    On the other hand, my muse is second to none and the stories she throws at me are all fun and interesting, so why argue?

  11. Mary Ricksen // October 21, 2011 at 12:58 PM  

    Welcome to the PFS. I truly have to say I enjoyed that excerpt! I was annoyed when I got to the end. And the means it's good to me. It's now on top of the TBR pile!! I'm still inclined to believe that if you write what you know, Or feel- You will write your best book! Good luck!

  12. Beth Trissel // October 21, 2011 at 1:02 PM  

    Hello and welcome Donnell! I loved your post and so identified with it. That's the reason I ended up at the Wild Rose Press where a good romance story is what matters, not the niche it fits. They'll find the niche. Your book sounds very interesting and exciting!

  13. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 1:26 PM  

    Dale, as someone who has read your terrific work, I feel as though I'm preaching to the choir. Imagine if we all wrote those niche books. I'm sorry but how boring is that? Thank you for commenting today. Dale writes amazing fiction AND nonfiction. I recently did a friend's resume for him and used Dale's Resume book for guidance.

  14. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 1:28 PM  

    Ah, Mary, what a nice thing to say. I loved that seen between my protagonists Melanie and Joe. They're what you call at odds during that part. I hope you enjoy it. I think anything that imparts your passion and feeling comes across, and readers are not tolerant. If they can't feel your passion, they'll put the book down. Following your heart can only help in this endeavor. Thank you!

  15. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 1:30 PM  

    Excellent, Beth. I'm so pleased that you found someone who believed in your writing and your story. It shows, would you agree?

    Next week on Five Scribes Jerrie Alexander, a new author with TWRP interviews an WRP editor. It'll be interesting to get her take on this subject. Thank you for commenting and allowing me on your terrific blog!

  16. Mary Marvella // October 21, 2011 at 2:59 PM  

    No fair! I knew I would read this book, 'cause I've been following its path to publication. Now I want to read it now!

  17. Mary Marvella // October 21, 2011 at 3:04 PM  

    Oh, and I must write from my heart, no matter what. The books I wrote according to markets never really fit the market. Two lines closed just after I finished books with a line in mind.

  18. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 3:45 PM  

    Hi, Mary! We are birds of a feather, aren't we! Glad you liked the excerpt. Melanie and Joe's "courtship" is, well, slightly irregular :)

  19. Nancy // October 21, 2011 at 5:41 PM  

    I'm so,So, SO excited about the release of THE PAST CAME HUNTING. Donnell, you're a great friend who deserves great success, and I'm with you all the way!

    Thanks for the marvelous post and excerpt! Can wait to read the book!

    Light,
    Nancy

  20. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 6:02 PM  

    Nancy! It's so great to see you here. Thank you for your lovely response. I hope you will read The Past Came Hunting and let me know your thoughts! It was such a joy to write, and I hope it shows through because I did follow my heart on this one. So great to see you here!

  21. Sylvia Rochester // October 21, 2011 at 9:25 PM  

    Your book arrived yesterday. I started reading it tonight. Only into it for several pages, and I'm hooked. Will write a review at Amazon when I finish. Of course, it'll be a good one.

  22. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 9:49 PM  

    Oh, Sylvia, thank you! Only write a good review if you truly do. I have to pull up my big girl panties some day :) Hugs.

  23. Mona Risk // October 21, 2011 at 10:05 PM  

    Hi Donnell, I should have come early morning to welcome you to the PFS. But I was just back from the Ninc conference. You'd have enjoyed it as it relates to what you said in your post. On one side the executives of Penguin, HarperCollins and Tor Forge defending their policies, yes defending, and on the other, the founder of Smashwords claiming you can publish anything you want now a day, follow your heart. See my blog for more.
    Your book is on my TBR list.

  24. Cynthia D'Alba // October 21, 2011 at 10:06 PM  

    I realized the other day that since the day I began writing, I wanted to write for Harlequin and thus all my writing was being stifled by trying to "fit" my writing into their mold.

    I was writing a scene and thought to myself, "I can't do that." Then I realized...why can't I? I'm not writing for HQ. I'm writing FOR ME. My goodness what a freeing realization.

    Good post, DB

  25. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 10:12 PM  

    Mona, good evening. How funny, I thought maybe with this industry changing at warp speed maybe publishing houses would as well. I hope you enjoyed yourself at Ninc. I would have loved to attend. Thanks for adding The Past Came Hunting to your TBR list. What an honor.

  26. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 10:16 PM  

    Cyndi, I've tried! Honest, I've tried to fit my writing in that tight little format. But I think my problem has been, I'm a major fan of Single Title and Mainstream. I also think this: If you write category romance, you are an amazingly talented author. I've read some great category romances, and I thought. How did she do that. She made it look easy, when it's darn hard. To come up with plot and characters that satisfy their clientle, and they definitley have a following, you can't argue with success. I just found I wanted to branch out every time. How cool that your shackles are gone! Thanks for commenting!

  27. Patrice // October 21, 2011 at 10:29 PM  

    Donnell, so true! What a wonderful blog and one that speaks to my heart. You can't write for the market, it's a fickle thing at best. You have to write what is right for you, not what is commercial at the moment, because that moment will have passed before your book will ever see the light of day.

  28. Josie // October 21, 2011 at 10:37 PM  

    Donnell,
    Welcome to the Pink Fuzzies, and thanks to Barbara for having you.
    I'm coming in late at the end of the evening to wish you much success in your writing.

    Thanks for posting the great excerpt. You're right. As writers, we have to write from the heart and not be overly concerned with the forever-changing fickle market.

  29. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 10:46 PM  

    Good evening, Patrice, yes, fickle indeed. Imaging taking the editor's advice and working on a project you invest time and talent in simply to sell only to realize the moment has passed. What a great way to sum it up. Thank you for your nice comment.

  30. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 10:48 PM  

    Josie, it was my pleasure. Barbara and I go back a few years. It wasn't unusual for us to email each other and say.. got a moment to read something ;) She's a treasure to have as a friend and an author. Thanks for commenting about the excerpt. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  31. Donnell // October 21, 2011 at 11:47 PM  

    Thanks for having me, Barbara & Pink Fuzzies. I'll let you draw a winner and tell me who to contact. I'll give away either a book or a digital copy. Happy writing! And happy weekend :)

  32. Rashda Khan // October 22, 2011 at 5:19 PM  

    Hi Donnell! Love your heroine...what spirit! As for follow the market or your hear? I have to follow my heart and hope the market is favorable :)

    Best of luck with your book. So proud of you! :)

  33. Jerrie Alexander // October 22, 2011 at 5:43 PM  

    Donnell, more than once I've heard an agent say send me a shapeshifter or I'm looking for that special historical. While I love those stories, it's not what I write. So I get what you're saying. I think you should follow your heart!

    The Past Came Hunting might be your first book to publish but surely won't be for long. The book was an awesome read!

  34. Donnell // October 22, 2011 at 11:40 PM  

    Rashda, thank you! It's been an exciting year for all of us, hasn't it. Congratulations to you, too!!!

  35. Donnell // October 22, 2011 at 11:41 PM  

    Jerrie, thanks you so much. I appreciate very much your confidence in me (gasp). I know what you mean. I may like to read other genres, but my voice lends itself to romantic suspense. Glad you understood my post. Thank you!!!

  36. Mary Ricksen // October 23, 2011 at 2:10 PM  

    You are an amazing author thanks again for blogging for the PFS!!!

  37. Donnell // October 23, 2011 at 7:00 PM  

    Mary, the honor was mine. Thank you!!!

  38. Barbara Monajem // October 24, 2011 at 7:57 PM  

    And the winner is: Mary R! Congrats on winning a fabulous book. :)

  39. Kathy // October 25, 2011 at 2:44 PM  

    Donnell,your excerpt intrigued me. I like the book. Congratulations on following your heart. I too don't exactly fit into certain guidelines. For now I'm sticking with the story. When I have it polished and shiny and really ready I'll shop around and see what is out there. The scen you posted make sme want to read the book. So I hope to buy a copy next month.

  40. Kathy // October 25, 2011 at 2:47 PM  

    Donnell what a great excerpt all the tension tha tbuilds up in thta scene is great. I'm happy to see you followed your heart. I too haven't any clue where my story will fit in. I will continue to polish and make it shine and offer it to the world. I figure when it is done then I can figure out where it fits.
    It looks like a great book I hope to buy a copy of it next month.

  41. Donnell // October 25, 2011 at 3:11 PM  

    Kathy, I'm honored. I'm glad you follow your heart, too. You've been working so hard; I'm positive you will reap the rewards! Thank you!

  42. Ellis Vidler // November 4, 2011 at 7:14 AM  

    Donnell, I'm late to this party--just saw the announcement and found it.
    I'm so glad you followed your heart and wrote the story you did. I just finished The Past Came Hunting and loved it. It really is a terrific book. It had everything I look for in a book. Thanks for writing it.

  43. Polly // November 7, 2011 at 9:49 AM  

    I think this is one of those Yahoo memory lapses because I just saw this today and see I'm two weeks late in posting. I'll post anyway. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I write "out of the box," and I'll keep doing it because it's the way I write. I'm about to put up a book myself that got good editor comments but didn't fit anywhere.

    The Past Came Hunting is a terrific book. I'm glad you hung in there and to see it published. I look forward to the next one, which I know will be out soon. Hooray for the independent-minded writers.