Author Archives: Anne Belle
In every story, there is a point where the protagonist has an epiphany and things begin to take shape into something we are hoping for them. In romances, this is usually the part where the guy makes the turn around to go and be with the heroine so they can seek out their little slice of happily ever after. In mysteries, this is when a key clue comes into play and suddenly things start to become clear. You get the idea. The point is, I feel like I have crossed one of those thresholds in this book I call life.
Turning 40, entering a new decade of life, gives you pause to consider where your life is taking you. I know that I enjoyed seeing my family over the holidays. I also enjoyed seeing my best friend and being able to help her plan her upcoming wedding. There will be more of that via Skype this year as we get closer to her big day. My nieces are growing up way too fast on me. And all around me are constant reminders of a dream I once had of having a family and home of my own one day. However, it would appear that God had other plans for me. So, I’m looking at how to shape my life and accept that won’t be part of it.
Writing is, for me at least, a solitary life. I have my pup and I spend time with family but, I need to spend some time this year putting down some roots, branching out socially, and networking more. It occurs to me that to keep from becoming a total hermit in life, it is time for me to start living and doing more outside of the usual home and studio comfort zones. While 2018 was a good and productive year, it wasn’t until the last few months that I got out and really started mingling with people. That’s something that I want to change in the coming year.
It is time for me to start doing more to pay it forward. And I’ll be branching out into new creative endeavors. I’ve taken stock enough to realize that I have a lot more skills to use than just in writing. I think I’ll take on a few coaching clients and help others make their dream of writing and publishing a reality. I also want to put my performance skills to use and help put audiobooks together for indie authors as well. Let’s not forget the need for book trailer videos as well.
This means some changes here on the blog. I really want to have more fun this year and share that with all of you. So maybe you’ll see more about the little trips I take, fun times out as I make new friends and take part in local events. What I want to bring here is more happiness, motivation, and inspiration. That may mean I review more books, movies, or even post music that moves me when I hear it.
In that vein, let me just say that I’m really digging this new track I heard on the trip back from Kentucky. Maybe you’ll like it too.
I’ve been cut off from civilization for two weeks! We had no internet for the duration of our trip to Kentucky to see family for Christmas. But, it proved to be a good thing. Lot of time to talk and spend time with people that I don’t see but every couple of years. Also lots of time to think about where the new year will take me and how to best live my own life.
Getting back to Texas was interesting. The trip back always seems to take longer for some reason. Maybe it is the let down of it all being over with and knowing that the humdrum of real daily life is just around the corner again. Anyway, we came back and I took a day to relax and rest up before getting my mindset all back into the work ahead of me.
While I was away I crossed a major milestone birthday and turned 40. Crazy right?! I know I’m having a hard time believing that I am officially middle-aged. In many ways, I still feel like I am in my early 20s. I suppose that’s true for most of us though. I spent the actual day with friends for a bit in the early part of the day. My god-daughters made cupcakes and my bestie and I got to sit around chatting like old times and planning her upcoming wedding. So, yep, I’ll be making another trip north in the next year for that. Then my nieces and grandparents all went out to dinner. There was lots of cake and ice cream for two days since I have my sister-in-law’s birthday two days after mine and we celebrated my niece’s birthday which isn’t until mid-January as well. But it was great to be able to enjoy time with everyone for a change and celebrate.
I have more planning to do since I got back. It’s time to set some goals for the new year on a personal and professional level. However, it also warrants me saying a heartfelt thank you to those of you who have joined my journey as an author. From your encouraging messages, comments, and social media interaction to the amazing reviews left on my books over on Amazon. I count myself truly blessed in 2018.
I’ve seen doors open and others close. I’ve found myself questioning my choice to publish at all, only to have someone pop up at the right moment and encourage me to keep going with it all. And keep going I shall!
Here at the end of another year, it is time to think about an upgrade to aspects of my platform. That newsletter is coming this year. There will be more blog posts on writing, life, and all the creativity that I do. I think at 40, I’m finally finding my feet on this living life thing. I’m excited for what lay ahead of me.
That being said, I’m getting on the ball here to make plans, do some writing on the next book, and get some blogs ready to go for the new year! There’s much to catch up on since I was cut off for so long.
It stands to reason that the Haunting of Hill House story has had an influence on me from a young age. I found stories about hauntings, houses, and the supernatural to be endless sources of inspiration even in my teens. When I was in college and out on my own for the first time, movies like 1999’s The Haunting were popular. At least they were among the fans of horror and supernatural films. It was based on a novel written by Shirley Jackson in 1959. It featured an amazing house full of odd rooms, secret passages, and, of course, ghosts. My eccentric little self pined for that house and still does in a way.
It also boasted a well-known blockbuster director in Jan de Bont and a cast that included Liam Neisen and Catherine Zeta-Jones. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely say, watch it for nostalgia sake. It was pretty well done for the time.
Yet recently, it got a massive makeover and has been the talk of horror movie communities all over the internet. Netflix seems to have spared no expense in the creation of the new series The Haunting of Hill House. And I recently sat down to watch it.
I have to say, this is, in my humble opinion, one of the most well-done remakes in the genre. Once I sat down and watched the first episode, I was hooked. I ended up bingeing and watching the entire available series in one sitting. And I am hoping they continue the storyline for more.
Now, die-hard fans of the original films will point out some blatant deviations from the original storyline. However, I think that the writers did an amazing job of changing just enough of the story to enhance its creep factor, bring it to a modern audience, and still manage to make it feel original. (Which, incidentally, is a bit of a pet peeve of mine with the film industry in the USA, to begin with. More on that in another post.) They took, what some are calling a classic, and altered it enough to really tackle modern issues like drug addiction, mental illness, and child abuse. And I applaud the creators for not shying away from more supernatural and psychic elements as well. Honestly, I was pleasantly surprised to see how different the story of Hill House unfolded with the family who came to live there. It is a deep story that will, I’m sure, resonate with many people.
The visuals elements were immersive and full of subtle nuance. It is one of those series that you could watch several times and still see new things and draw a new conclusion each time you see it. I’m sure I’ll be watching it again myself in the near future. The darkness of the series isn’t found in the jump-scare tactics that most horror filmmakers rely on. Instead, it is in sadness, personal tragedy, pain, and loss where this series manages to pull at your nerves and set you on edge. Those tactics are well-placed and present for those classic horror film aficionados but, I honestly believe that even without those, this story has enough of a horror element to it that it fits the bill.
I admit to being skeptical about this at first. After all, why mess with something that was good, to begin with. But, I am glad to see that horror and suspense are taking a new direction. I hope that we see new voices, new stories, and a continuation of this style of filmmaking.
If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend a Netflix weekend when you can watch the whole thing. Once you start, it will keep you riveted to the very end.
I want to post more reviews about books, movies, and tv series that line up with what I write. So you can see more of these posts in the months to come. Have a suggestion for a series, movie, or book? Why not drop it in the comments for me? Or just tell me what you thought of either the 1999 version of the Hill House story or this new adaptation! I’d love to hear what you thought as well.
The holiday season is upon us again.
Thanksgiving is a week away and that means that Black Friday Sales deals are on the horizon for many of us. If you’re like me, you probably have a few people on your Christmas list that are hard to buy for beyond the usual gift selections in the aisles of your local Walmart or Target. So, I thought I would take a moment and give you some great gift ideas for the creative people in your life.
I’m going to keep this fairly general. Nothing specific for writers, artists, or crafters will be included in this post. However, I will likely do something for each niche in the next few weeks. My goal here is to give you some general ideas for how to inspire and empower the creative people in your life. You know, make sure they know you appreciate and encourage their creativity, quirkiness, and maybe even help them see that side of their personality in a new light.
I don’t have to put any disclaimers here. I’ll provide some links to sites that I think are great, of course. But, buying from these businesses (some of them small businesses) will only support them. I’m not one of these bloggers who have affiliations and get kick-backs from your purchases. So I can recommend them without a reservation on the simple premise that I like them and buy from them as well. That being said, let’s get started.
The first thing I would recommend for any creative person is so simple, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think about it first.
Yes, it is the simplest tool that any creative person can put in their arsenal. For the writer they are essential. A place to capture ideas, keep track of progress on projects, empty the clutter of the mind, and to refer when we need clarity. It is the same for visual artists. A blank sketchbook is an equivalent of giving an artist a world of their own to play in. And the truth is, this can be the most inexpensive gift option you could give.
A blank notebook is simple and inexpensive at Walmart. In fact, for less than $10.00 you could put together a set of journal and pens. Want to get fancy? Try heading to a stationery shop or a local Barnes & Noble or BAM for something a bit more sturdy and fashionable. Couple that with a fountain pen and you’re good to go. It’s a classic gift that will help any creative mind figure out what to do next.
Want to shop online? Try out sites like Levenger.com or Jetpens.com for options. Amazon is always a great resource as well. And I’ll give one more option at the end of this blog that will let you add a personal touch.
Bonus Idea: If your creative person is more tech-focused, you can also look at giving memberships to blogging communities like Livejournal.com or deviantArt.com that will give them a year of ad-free usage with a few other perks. There are also paid apps that you can give as well.
The next gift idea is something I have given to creative friends on numerous occasions.
Books On Creativity
There are loads of these out there and all of them have their merit. For me, there are two that stand out on my shelf. (Hint: I’ve blogged about them before.)
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. This book quite literally has the power to change lives. It certainly did mine. A self-study course on how to unblock your creative self, I return to her process over and over again. It is something I have done not only on my own but with a group of others that has given my creativity a boost even when I thought it was buried. And you have several options with this because there is the original which will run you about $13.00 for the paperback, but there are continuations of this that are also included in a lovely hardback compilation edition that includes her additional books in the same process. You can find it here: THE ARTIST’S WAY. And there are companion books, journals, and tools that you can also opt for.
Another book on creativity that I love and find inspirational is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and Your Creative Career by Anna Sabino. (Which incidentally, will be going with me on my road trip home to see family this Christmas.). There are others and I’m not going to make a list of titles for this post. However, if you’re interested in a more comprehensive list and review of this type of book, I’d love to know. Leave a comment and make sure you subscribe so you won’t miss out on those posts. Maybe we’ll make use of the Creativity tag and category for these. Let me know.
And my last idea for this post is …
A personal planner or accessories for one that they already use.
I’m going to do a more in-depth post about this one closer to the start of 2019. But, all creative people need a way to keep things going, organized, and figure out what to do with their time. We’re all a little scatterbrained these days. A place to keep track of appointments, tasks, accomplishments, birthdays, and goals is essential for me. And I don’t think I know a creative person who is serious about getting projects done and out there to the public who doesn’t use some variation of a planner.
Now I’m a planner addict. I’m one of those color-coordinated people that has a case of stickers, colored pens, and stencils. I use a combination of an Erin Condren Life Planner and a Bujo that I personalize. But I’m not going to tell you that it’s a cheap gift to give. You can get cheap planners at Walmart. And you can find all sorts of accessories. Some people use travel journals for this purpose. (Yes, I have one of those too.) There are digital options, as with everything. And there are versions that range from being a very utilitarian calendar to more like a workable journal experience.
Erin Condren offers highly personalized options. I’ve collected custom covers over the years. 2019’s is a paisley design that features my initials. Last year’s looked like antique lace overlaying a pretty shade of blue with my name on it, and my first one three years ago also featured my name but was geometric and colorful with the quote “I Want to See You Be Brave” on it. That last one served as a reminder to keep going with the pursuit of my dreams.
Erin Condren also offers a lot of accessory options and they even have notebooks that also fit their custom covers which, by the way, are interchangeable throughout the year. One of these personalized notebooks would make for a great journal in my opinion! And I love the options for stickers, their pens, and their stylized sticky notes.
Yes, I know, it is insanity to the outside world. However, the month of November is when writers from all over come together to kick the blank page’s rear and produce what could very well be your next favorite book. What’s more? It could be by your next favorite author who, after this year’s success, decides, at last, to stop waiting for people to tell them it’s worth a contract and publish it themselves. There is so much talent in the Indie Community. And it is, all too often overlooked in my opinion.
Are you a writer? Do you have a novel sloshing around in that big beautiful skull of yours? Have you ever wanted to try to write a longer story or turn that campfire ghost story into something that others can enjoy? Well, then come to join the rest of us! You’ll find amateurs and professionals alike who take part in the challenge to pen 50,000 words in November.
Yes, it’s a lot of words. But you won’t be alone. Writing every day, it is a goal of 1,666 words per day. Though, (here’s my NanoWrimo trick to preparing for interruptions of the holidays) I always strive for 1,800-2,000 instead. That usually puts me ahead of the game for winning the challenge. But, I don’t always win and I don’t always participate. Last year, I started and then found that with my job, and the other obligations I had, getting that many words in just wasn’t going to be possible. I still managed over 30,000 for the month though. And that’s 30,000 I didn’t have before.
For many of us, we already write on a daily, or almost daily, basis. So adding a new project to the mix is a change. The added perks of local write-ins with other writers, forums and groups on social media dedicated to discussion and cheering one another on, and after parties to celebrate the wins and successful addition of words make it a unique time of year. In fact, it has been so beneficial that National Novel Writing Month (lovingly called NanoWrimo) has created Camp NanoWrimo events throughout the year to accomplish the same sense of camaraderie and motivation as the original. Some of us set bigger goals. Some of us are happy to hit that 30,000 or even 20,000 mark. The point is to get writing!
Today is Day One! The idea that you have to spend months preparing is rubbish. You start where you are. Novels are typically longer than 50,000 words anyway. Consider this your crazy way of getting all that story out on the page and then you can spend another session, or the rest of the year, adding to it and refining it into something that is amazing.
What am I working on this November? Well, I’m going off the beaten path a bit with something completely new. New characters, new setting, and a new plotline than I usually write. If you want the details, you should join me over on the NanoWrimo site: Here’s your link! You’ll find all the information I have available for this one and I’ll be sure to update it.
Also, I’ll post weekly updates here on the blog.
Before I dive into the writing pool; let me just say that I had a great time at the East Texas Booktacular taking Beyond The Storm for its’ first spin on the events table. Copies are available in paperback and Kindle ebook on Amazon. If you’re interested in signed paperback copies; I have news. I’m working on a way to have you order direct from me. For now, if you’re interested you can email me at annebellewrites@gmail or you can PM on Twitter or Facebook for details. I’ll be happy to invoice by Paypal and get them to you in time for the holiday gifting season! You know, readers never have too many books.
I’ve been more MIA than I intended to be in the past month. Why? Well, it was all to bring us to the announcement I have to make today. Whoever said writing a book wasn’t a hard job was lying. When you are an independent author, you wear too many hats to count. But now all the formatting, editing, and scrutinizing is done, and we can move on to the next fun part of the process; letting all of you read it!
Readers of The Secret of the Storm are all saying, “It’s about time!!”
Elora Castain is back, and her life is more complicated than when she first came to Slauson Cove.
From the back of the book: Returning to Slauson Cove changed Elora Castain’s life in more ways than she could have imagined. Just when she thought things were settling into something reasonable, her life was turned upside down a second time. Walsingham Manor was built for families even if the locals thought it to be the source of trouble in town. Now, on the cusp of settling into motherhood and bringing her own family to continue the legacy, a new and powerful storm is brewing. Elora, once again, finds herself in the middle of an investigation into the murders that are piling up on Detective John Erickson. What begins as a consultation turns into an interrogation as strange symbols and her name come up on the victim’s bodies. Can she stop another killer? Did Eric Aldred inflict an unbreakable curse on her before she was even born? Can she, or what family remains, survive what is brewing in Slauson Cove? Find out in Beyond the Storm; new fiction from Anne Belle. Don’t miss this long-anticipated sequel to her debut novel; The Secret of the Storm.
Now, I could say happy reading and leave you to it. However, I could use a little help in getting the word out there. So there are three things I would like to ask of all of you:
- Tell me about your favorite avenue for finding new books. Do you follow a book review blog? Is it through friends-only recommendations? Or do you find them on social media? I would love to get in touch with some blogs and other internet avenues to guest post or otherwise solicit reviews.
- Once you purchase and read it, leave an honest review on Amazon. Those reviews, searching for our books, sharing the links… these are simple things that can help indie authors like myself reach more readers who would enjoy our book babies. If you haven’t followed me on other social media like Facebook or Twitter, please do and help me out by sharing the good news.
- If you are part of a book club or associated with a library, feel free to get in touch with me by email. I’m happy to offer and/or coordinate group sales of all my books. Also, I’m keen to get involved in Q & A about them if your group would like. This can be accomplished with video chat or conference calling that I can arrange easily from my studio here in Texas.
All that being said, I am going to be posting a bit more about this but, I’m also gearing up for other projects as well. The next book is being researched, and I’m planning to relaunch Ether Realms Media in mid-November. So be looking for news about that soon!
I hope to see you there! Stop by my table near the entrance and say hello. I am waiting anxiously for the arrival of paperback copies at this point, but I plan to have limited quantities available for purchase there. Just in time for a good Halloween read! Who doesn’t love a good ghost story this time of year?
As promised, I’m back with an update on the next installment in the Slauson Cove Saga.
Now, I refuse to give away details just yet on the story. Teasers and trailers will come soon. But today you get a peek at the cover design.
Drum roll, please!
So details are as follows: It is set to release in October. Exact date will depend on how quickly I can manage all of these changes with KDP and Createspace. So my original plan for this may alter a bit. My hope is to have it available for you to pre-order or order and have in your hands in time for Halloween. We will have to see how this all goes though. I’m a one woman show after all. I don’t have a team of people working on edits, marketing, formatting, etc. But, I am so near the finish line here that I can absolutely see this one in my hands very soon.
My goal is to be able to have copies of this one available at the East Texas Booktacular event in Henderson, Texas. That is being held on October 27th. And you can get details by visiting the event link on Facebook either through my page and events or theirs. Click HERE for more information. This is a ticketed event due to limited venue space. However, tickets are free and I know there are swag bags happening for this one. Plus, you’ll get to have your picture taken with me in full witchy costume. So, it should be loads of fun. As always I will be happy to sign your book at the event! Or any other time. (I have yet to experience having someone just come up and recognize me when I’m in public. However, when it does happen, it will be a blog-worthy experience.)
Also, I realized that I’m up to over 600 subscribers. OH MY GOSH!! You guys! That is totally organic growth and I’m super excited to see it. I’m going to have to do something super special when I get to one thousand. But I am striving to be more present on other social media as well. Let me tell you, that’s a difficult thing to do when facing a deadline. So, if you want more daily, behind the scenes and creative motivation, be sure you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter as well.
I would love to know what you think about the cover! I’ll be updating things with The Secret of the Storm which is the prequel for this upcoming book. So if you aren’t familiar with Elora Castain and Walsingham Manor yet, I highly recommend picking it up so you are up to speed on the predicament she finds herself in at the start of this book. The e-book is still on sale for $4.99 so get it while that price lasts!