Donnell Ann Bell is the author of three books, The Past Came Hunting, Deadly Recall, and her newest release, Betrayed. Her debut and sophomore releases have been e-book best sellers and Deadly Recall is a 2014 EPICON nominee for best thriller/suspense. She co-owns Crimescenewriters with retired Veteran Police Officer Wally Lind. Check out her webpage at www.donnellannbell.com
by: Joelle Charbonneau
Welcome to 2014! I hope you had a great holiday season and that the new year has gotten off to a great start.
For me, the new year is kicking off with 2 books hitting shelves and me hitting the road on my first major publisher sponsored book tour. EEK!
I mean – hooray. 12 days. 10 cities in various climates. One carry-on suitcase in the middle of winter. What could possibly go wrong?
To be honest, I’m a combination of thrilled and excited and terrified of going on tour to promote INDEPENDENT STUDY. I love that in each city I get to meet readers and chat with students at various middle and high schools who have already read The Testing and are excited about the newest book in the trilogy. That is awesome. And for the performer in me, there is something really excited about getting up on a stage and putting on a show about writing and books. But because I’ve never done this kind of tour before, I am a little nervous about how things will go. There are so many things I have no control over – planes schedules, weather…you know…travel stuff.
The travel stuff is the reason that I’ve chosen to heed the advice of authors who have gone on many a tour before me – No Checked Luggage! I mean, why tempt the travel Gods. With that many flights checked luggage is bound to go astray. Hence, for this trek I will be taking with me one small carry-on suitcase and the attache cache that used to belong to my father-in-law to hold my computer and Cold Eeze. (Yes, I will be writing on planes….at least that is the plan.)
Because of the limited space, I find that I am incredibly grateful to my love of Tetris and my lack of love of shoes. (Trust me…not loving shoes means less footwear and more room for clothes.) Some people have said rolling clothes is a good way to go, but I have yet to master the skill and have found I can fit more clothes into the suitcase by folding. I have also found the world’s smallest curling iron and checked my itinerary and the hotels I’ll be staying to make sure I have a day for laundry. So if you see pictures of me wearing the same clothes in more than one location on tour – I promise that they’re clean.
Sadly, I won’t be wearing my favorite jeans pictured to the right since I know the nifty sparkly designs on the butt will set off all the bells and whistles at the airport. I’m hoping to avoid pat downs by the TSA. Do you want to take bets to see if I can do it?
Needless to say, 2014 is kicking off with a huge adventure. And really, it is only because of you and your support that this adventure is happening. I hope I get to see a bunch of you on the road. If we haven’t met before, please introduce yourself so I can put a face with the name. And while I’m gone, please be nice to three amazing ladies who will be guest blogging in my stead. I have a feeling you’re going to love them.
Okay – time to finish packing so I can prepare to get this show on the road. While I’m fretting over whether to pack another pair of pants, let me know what adventures you are planning this year. I can’t wait to hear all about them!
by: Joelle Charbonneau
With the holidays upon us there is much joy in the air. Packages to be wrapped, holiday services to attend and lots of concerts, parties and laughter. It is a time to celebrate surrounded by family and friends.
Of course, the holidays have a more melancholy side. Because while we celebrate with the family we hold close, we cannot help but think about those whom we love that are no longer here with us. Two years ago today, we lost my father-in-law, Joe Blanco. To say he loved the holidays is an enormous understatement. He had huge faith and an even bigger heart. To him, the holidays were about family, goofy hats, fun, music and helping others. He worked at the homeless shelter, made sure older members of the community were healthy and safe and went to nursing homes with his vocal group to spread holiday joy.
I miss him.
There is a hole left in our lives that can never be filled by his loss. I also miss my father. This year is the fifth holiday season spent without him.
And yet, as sad as I am that they are no longer here to lend their strength and love, when I look at the brightly wrapped presents under the tree I think of them and the wondrous gift I had by having them in my life. And the gift that loving them continues to bring me every day. And while it is not as good as having them here to share everything life brings, I am comforted by the memories I have and thinking of the happy moments fills me with warmth.
So, for all of you out there celebrating the holidays with family and missing those who have left us behind–my heart is with you. May you find joy in the season. And if you see a light shining a little more brightly on your tree, think of it as those who are not there with you sending their love.
Happy Holidays. Merry Christmas. And most of all my thanks for all of the support you have given me and my fellow DSD writers throughout the year. May the end of 2013 bring you many wonderful moments and I hope there will be great happiness for each one of you in 2014.
by: Joelle Charbonneau
Well, since I’m currently in Albany, NY for Bouchercon, which despite the strangeness of Albany (if you’ve been here recently, you’ll understand what I mean) is tons of fun I have decided to run a post that I wrote about a year and a half ago. It was advice I gave to so many aspiring authors this weekend and I figure if they had to hear it…well, I guess you get to hear it, too.
Finishing What You Start
Almost everyone I know loves to begin a new project. Whether it is a novel, a short story, knitting a scarf or building some cool new thing for the house – beginnings are exciting. Everything is bright and new and shiny. Kind of like a new toy on Christmas Day. There are endless possibilities as you imagine the fun you will have.
Beginnings are awesome.
Too bad beginnings can’t last forever. But they don’t and the bright and new and shiny wears off and you are left with something that no longer feels like fun. Instead, it feels like work.
Whether you are a third of the way through knitting a sweater, rebuilding a car engine or writing your manuscript—getting past the point where the activity feels like work can be tough. This is probably why so many people talk about wanting to write a book or knit a blanket, but never have a finished product to show anyone. They get distracted by an exciting new idea or a nifty knitting pattern and suddenly they have ditched the old one so they can have the “new toy” feeling again.
When new writers ask me what I think is the most important step they can take to becoming a published author my answer is always the same. Finish a book. It doesn’t matter if you realize halfway through that your midget werewolf, time travel, erotic mystery is not what the market is looking for. I don’t care if you say that you’ve realized your story has a huge hole in it. I don’t care about any of the reasons you have for not finishing the book. You need to keep going and finish the damn book!
Why finish something that won’t have a chance in hell of selling? Because finishing a project teaches you something very important. It teaches you that you actually can finish..
Why is that important? I mean, if the book will never sell, who cares. It doesn’t matter that you’ve finished the book. Right?
I know lots of aspiring authors who have been typing furiously for years and have never gotten to THE END. And while they keep blaming the story or the lack of time to write or the worry that the market isn’t going to want to buy what they are writing – they are just making excuses. With every new beginning comes the bright and shiny new toy moment. But for those that have never finished what they have begun that bright and shiny moment is laced with fear and uncertainty.
Uncertainty because you have never finished a project.
Fear that you never will.
Trust me when I say the first book I wrote will NEVER see the light of day. It sucked. Oh – there were good moments in it. It would be hard to write that many words without a few gems in the bunch. But I hadn’t a clue how to really construct a story. I didn’t have a feel for pacing or for keeping a scene focused. Face it—I didn’t have a flippin’ clue. The only thing I did right was I finished the sucker. All 134,000 words of it. (Yeah – now you can see why that book had problems…right?)
But that book taught me something very important. It taught me that I could sit down every day and fill the pages with words. Even though the story was less than perfect, it had a beginning, middle and most important it had an end. I learned that I could finish a book. Which meant when I started the next project, I KNEW that project would have an end, too.
I currently have two books on the shelves of your local bookstore with eight more under contract—only 3 of which are written. If I hadn’t proven over and over again to myself that I could reach the end of those as yet unwritten books I would be cowering under my bed. Instead, I sit at the computer every day and know that I will reach THE END of all of those books not just because I have to, but because I have proven to myself that I can.
We all like to talk about voice and sentence structure, pacing and characters, but so often we forget the most important milestone of a writer’s life is finishing that first book and banishing the fear. And when you are fearless, anything is possible.