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.
She faced him. “Yes?”
“Why did you stay in Cañon City?”
“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!
One lucky commenter will win a copy of The Past Came Hunting!
Thank you so much for visiting us today, Donnell!