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The Writer Confessions: Part One

I’ve known that I would write for the rest of my life since I was about eight years old. I grew up with a Great-Grandmother who taught First Grade for 35 years. Between her and my mother (who read to me and challenged me to read more) I had a pretty good handle on the reading and writing thing before I even officially started school. My first stories involved magical unicorns and fairytale princesses and that seems slightly hilarious to me now; seeing as I write things that are a tad darker in nature these days. But, whatever I write, this is a life-long obsession for me. It is the one thing that I do on a daily basis that I cannot fathom my day being complete without.paper-623167_960_720

The years have passed too quickly in many ways. I’m not the bright-eyed girl that everyone in my mother’s side of the family assumed would go on to greatness. Back in the day I was full of big dreams that involved books, deep conversations, beautiful productions, and all sorts of creative things. I imagined adult life to be very different from what it is now. In fact, I envisioned the college experience to be something wholly different than what it was for me. But that is something I blame myself for. I certainly didn’t take full advantage of that opportunity when I was given it. My writing career isn’t the only thing in life to suffer for it.

In my twenties I was a gypsy in many ways. I lived in many different places spanning one coast of the United States to the other. I made friends, some of them were poor choices, all of them taught me valuable lessons about myself. And few of them remain in my circle today. The bohemian spirit is still strong with me and I often fight the temptation to uproot and start over in a new place. I suppose I’ve become a bit more practical as I’ve aged. There are other things to consider now that weren’t a part of my life before.

I met a man in 2006 who I would marry the following year. It was a whirlwind romance that seemed to quell my own feelings of inadequacy in being single. I’ve never been a woman with many prospects for suitors. And I admit, I settled. I thought I wanted a more traditional life. For a while it was a novelty and served its purpose but, six years later, I found myself standing alone in a courtroom as a judge issued the order to disolve the marriage that had long been over. I regained my name and set about rebuilding my life as best I could. How did I do that? Well, I wrote, of course.

woman-510480_960_720In the course of two years following that day I made greater strides toward writing as a profession than I had in all six of the years I’d spent as a homemaker and sometimes babysitter to his daughter. I often joke that he was the best however many pounds I ever lost. It isn’t far from the truth though. There were so many things that held me back when I was with him. Now, with more freedom to focus on myself and what I want in life, I see that more clearly.

The process of reinventing myself has been a long one. It is evolving and everlasting in many ways. I consider life to be a perpetual series of changes that are like an ocean of existence. Sometimes you have to surf the waves being high up on some curl of achievement. Other times you have to just simply tread water and hope that a safety net comes along to scoop you up. More often than not, it’s a matter of you and the boat weathering a storm into calmer waters where things are peaceful and flow freely for a while. Eventually the rest will cycle round again though. You do what you can and you roll with the tides.

The creative life is an oddity. It is complicated in how we somehow find a way to sustain ourselves with our art. Even when one works a day job, as I do for now, it seems that it is always to supply the need to create somehow. But, it is also a simple life if we allow it to be. To embrace each day with the initial question of “what will I create today?” To answer that and make its answer a reality is truly all we must do to be happy.  And isn’t that the goal for everyone? Simply to be happy.

So tell me readers; What will you create today? How will you find your bliss?

 

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Life Gets In The Way…

My life has been a little crazier than usual lately. I have been on the go all week and I didn’t take my laptop with me for many of the errands I was running. Among the list of things to happen this week was my six year old graduating from Kindergarten, fiance got a new job, helping out family with errands, and trying to make plans for summer vacation and homeschooling. Yes, this writer feels like she’s run a race this week already. So, is it any wonder that I decided to take a nap this afternoon while it was storming and overslept? Not to me. I’m still fighting a nasty cold and trying to hold things together and keep working on writing.

My nap is over though. And I’m trying to make up for some lost time in the word count and editing departments. So, I’ve turned on my “feel-good music” and I’m trying to find my rhythm for a night of escapism into my manuscript. Yes, Michael Buble is crooning at me through my headphones, I’m surrounded by notes, dogs, and cats watching my type away and yes, I love it.

But let me get to the heart of why I am blogging today. Big events have happened this week. Not only did my little girl become a first grader but her Momma became a published author with a debut novel out on the market.

BookCoverPreview1Yes, The Secret of the Storm is out in print now. I announced it the other day briefly. I do, however, want to take the time to encourage you all to take time to review it and pick up either the ebook or the print version.

I did a lot of work on that novel. Elora and I went through so many changes as I wrote and edited that manuscript. Her story is one that will always stick with me because it was so similar to my own life. Now it is a work of fiction, mind you. However, Elora and I both found ourselves in situations that we didn’t expect and we both had to make the best of them. Elora’s life changed dramatically. So did mine. And the truth is, just as Elora’s will continue to change if I go on with a sequel, my life had changed in leaps and bounds as well.

When I was writing The Secret of the Storm, I spent a lot of time listening to music and writing. This is a habit that I continue to have today when I work. Yet, back when I was initially drafting an online friend actually turned me on to a band called The Tea Party. I’ve since fallen in love with their deep lyrics and their overall sound. We won’t mention just how incredibly sexy Jeff Martin’s voice is… okay, yes we will. They’ve stuck with me as a favorite over the years. You’ll find them on nearly every playlist that I use to compose. So, I thought I would simply share one of the songs that I heard more than a few times while writing.

Of Series & Sequels

TSOTS COVER ADThe official release of The Secret of the Storm is quickly approaching. You can already purchase the Kindle ebook through Amazon.com and you can purchase the print version in pre-release through the Createspace store here. I’m excited about the release, of course. I am even more psyched that the early reviews have been so positive and encouraging. It certainly makes all the work that went into producing it worth the effort and makes me want to keep going with the next book I am working on.

I keep getting the same question from early readers though.

Will there be a sequel to The Secret of the Storm?

In answering that, I can’t really give a definitive yes or no. I haven’t ruled out another trip to Slauson Cove and another chapter to the Walsingham legacy. In fact, I’ve toyed with ideas on how to continue that story. New characters would be introduced if I did go ahead with it. But, I’m not going to lie. It hasn’t been a high point on my priority list.

Even before the work on The Secret of the Storm was complete another story grabbed my attention and simply wouldn’t let go of me. So, I put my focus into that instead of a sequel. That story went from one book to a series of at least five.

AR PROMO1Armageddon Rising is a series that will be full of danger, intrigue, and even biblical prophecy. I don’t know why it was stuck in my head to tackle such heavy concepts. I suppose it is a calling of sorts because the story, research, and character development consistently cost me hours of sleep. And now that I’m in the middle of the editing phase of the project, it is costing me even more.

As with all my work, this is fiction. I don’t claim to be a biblical scholar or an expert on end times prophecy. My purpose in writing this is to tell a story that people will make people think and that they can enjoy. I’m not even going to claim that this is Christian fiction. I don’t feel that it meets the criteria to fit into that genre. But I can tell you that it is a page-turner.

I am notorious for working on multiple projects simultaneously. So, I wouldn’t quite rule out another Slauson Cove book if I continue to be asked about it by readers. There are things that I would like to explore with Elora that were, for me, unfinished in the first one. Don’t ask me when it will be out. The ideas are still merely a stack of notes in a folder with my character sketches.

If you haven’t gotten your ebook of The Secret of the Storm yes, it is available for the Kindle. The print release has been delayed but, I will keep all of you informed as to when the print version is available and events that will be coming up. I am planning to do a good number of book signings, readings, and even virtual touring with the help of Google+ and YouTube. So, if you want a chance to meet the woman behind the blog and the books, you’ll certainly get your chance.

If you have questions for me, I’d love to answer them here on the blog or in videos. (Yes, I’m thinking of branching out a bit.) So you can comment on any post or you can always email me your questions to annebellewrites@gmail.com. I always look forward to hearing from readers and other authors. I do try to respond to all my correspondence. Just have patience. Sometimes it takes a while for me to get through it all.

Happy Friday everyone. I hope that you enjoy your weekend.

Writers Aren’t Hermits After All

291826_364783330281701_2094463518_nI fell prey to a stereotype a number of years ago that nearly cost me everything. You see, Hollywood and other media outlets have created this vision of what writers are. So often people have an image of what writers do that includes being sequestered away from the world, agonizing over every word, while we’re chain smoking or drinking heavily. Whether we’re actually alcoholics or just addicted to coffee or teas is another discussion entirely but, it is safe to say that the stereotype has us all addicted to something. I am certain that there are a great many authors out there who fit this stereotype quite well but, I am not one of them.

It strikes me as amusing that people think that we don’t interact with others or that we are hermits. We’re artists and in order to write about people, to create characters, we must actually interact with people to have an understanding of different personalities. We must, as Julia Cameron says, “fill the creative well” with ideas and inspiration. And ultimately it is in living life that we find that drive and push to be inspired to create whatever we become known for.

There is no denying that writing takes a certain amount of solitude. We learn that there are critical times in which we must get away and focus on what we need to accomplish. We do agonize over the right words, the grammatical faux pas, and even the right descriptions for our settings. It isn’t difficult to lose yourself for hours, days, weeks, sometimes even months while finishing a project. But the fact remains that eventually, all writers must get out of their offices and experience something outside its confines.

419149_427914573910922_1192315579_nI’ve always been a very vibrant personality. Just ask my mother, or any of my friends for that matter, and they will all tell you that I am quick to laugh, quirky, personable, and compassionate. They will also tell you that I can be quite the ham if you put me in front of a microphone. But that happens rarely these days. They’ll also tell you that for the last few years, I was very different from the person I had been. And they’ll likely say that they were worried about me.

It is funny how things can get away from you before you even realize it is happening. In my case, it was a sort of forced hermitage. Yes, I was writing but things came slowly. I was in a situation where I couldn’t go out and be around people other than my parents. And because I was trying to save a marriage that was failing miserably, I allowed it to happen. In the process I gained a lot of weight, became depressed, and eventually came to feel so isolated that I really didn’t think anyone would care if I just disappeared. There were days in which I sat for hours staring at my blank screen wondering where the words had gone. Other days, I gave up and played computer games or just slept. It was a dark time in my life that I honestly don’t care to repeat.

I suppose my ex thought that by keeping me at home the words would come and I would just be an overnight success and he could stay home after that. I don’t know how many times I tried to explain that counting on the books to make consistent full-time income was unrealistic. I mean, every writer wants to be a best-seller and make a million dollars. It isn’t a bad dream as long as it is tempered with a dose of reality. Keeping me at home wasn’t the way to make that dream a reality though.

Artists, including writers, need to be stimulated. We need fresh air, laughter, people to talk to, and experiences to write about. To relay anything to our readers we need to be able to experience it first hand. From the feeling of silk on your skin on a bed to the rush of riding a roller coaster, everything can be an experience. Emotions need to be experienced. Falling in love, coping with death, the birth of a child, parental love, the loss of a job, or even the thrill of taking a big vacation all of these things we can imagine but, to truly relate them we have to go through them ourselves in some way.

Putting the writing aside, you can’t sell books if you don’t meet people to tell about what you’re doing. You can only do so much of that online. Forums, facebook, blogs, and other social media will only take you so far. If you’re boring and all you post about is the fact that you released a book, it won’t get you any brownie points with the public. It certainly isn’t going to sell books.

Personally, my life has changed tremendously in the last six or seven months. I’ve gone from being at my lowest to feeling as though I’ve found not only my calling in career but also in life. I am experiencing emotions like love on an entirely new level. I am living life again and taking advantage of time with family and friends. I’m meeting new people, reacquainting with old friends, and it is very much a process of rediscovering myself.

My fiance doesn’t let me stay too busy for too long writing. Yes, he knows and understands that I need to work but he insists on getting out and doing things together. Whether it is taking the munchkin to the park, going out for ice cream, or going to church on Sunday morning we try to keep it simple. We try to make the most of the time we get together. He encourages me to go to writers groups and do things that I enjoy even if he doesn’t. We share so much that it seems rare that there is something we don’t want to do together. The truth is, it is really amazing having someone that is truly supportive of my efforts and what I want to do.

You can meet writers everywhere. We are out there among the waking world. We’re at the gym, in your Sunday school class, at the restaurants and cafes you frequent, and no matter when you walk in a bookstore, you’ll likely find a writer somewhere amongst the shelves.

On Being Blessed

You know, I’ve been blessed. Especially with everything that has happened in my life in the last year I am incredibly blessed with a fantastic support system now. And that’s a big thing for an artist. We all need a little bit of support once in a while. And I learned to surround myself with people who build me up and encourage my dreams rather than pull me down. It was a hard lesson, believe me.

changeIt takes a special sort of person to be married to a serious writer. You see, there are different sorts of writers. There are the type who write in journals and keep blogs that are primarily for themselves. There are the sort that write strictly for the gratification of knowing that they can. There are others who write for the social interaction. And yes, I do know that is contrary to everything that Hollywood has put out about the writers. Then there are the type, like me, who actually write to put our work out for the public to read. We’re an odd lot that take a lot of time to ourselves and sometimes seem a bit aloof. Even when we’re spending time with the family we’re usually off in our heads thinking about plots and characters. Then there is the obsession with actually getting things out into print and marketing what work you do put out. So, no it isn’t easy for many people to deal with dedicated writers. My ex-husband certainly had a hard time with it. So much so that he was engaged to another woman before ever letting me know that there were even problems with our relationship.

Not going to lie, I was devastated when that marriage came to an end. More because I was blind-sided by all that happened than it actually being over. The being alone, I could deal with. The feeling like I wasn’t good enough for anyone was another matter entirely. My esteem sunk to an all time low. I didn’t understand how it could have happened or why. I’d put everything I could into that relationship for six years. And you can bet that there is a short story going to come out of what happened. But what came out of that experience was nothing short of amazing.

I realized very quickly who was going to be there for me. Who would help me pick up the pieces of my life and myself and come back from it stronger than ever. I learned who supported my efforts as an author and who just wanted to go along for the ride while I worked my butt off. And I definitely learned that if I did get into another relationship, I needed to find someone who genuinely shared my interests, got my quirky habits, and loved me either because of them or despite them. They needed to be able to spend time alone and not need for me to be hanging on their every movement and word. I needed that person to be interested and believe in what I was doing the same way my family did.

166070304980757248_UYbpRu5z_cHonestly, I didn’t think I would fall in love again. I think part of me didn’t want to. God had other plans though because I only wanted to meet some friends and get a social life back. Putting up a profile on a dating site seemed to be a logical step since I had no car, no home, and no money. Meeting people was going to be tricky and I really didn’t want to start the bar scene again. I’d had enough of that in my 20’s. Then there was a message and a profile that I couldn’t ignore.

Yes, it was my now fiance.

We had so much in common. Our lists of interests only varied by a few things which were so superficial that it was just funny. We actually argued about reasons for being on there and talking to people at first. Once we got past that small argument, and started really talking, we both wanted to meet. We were so close in location that I finally talked my mom into dropping me off at the local McDonalds to have coffee with him. I expected an hour or two of conversation what happened was completely different.

First of all, when he got my attention and I looked up from my notebook, I was just sort of struck. Here was this really good looking guy who was apparently there to see me. I instantly became self-conscious because, well, you know, hot guys aren’t supposed to fall for the fat chick. It’s some sort of social faux-pas after all. I’d seen pictures of him and thought he was good looking but they really don’t do him justice. Or maybe they do and its just a chemistry thing. The fact that he met my mother and I sent her on another errand so we could continue talking was an indication of how well we hit it off.

We started dating in December and while we both had other obligations with family we really haven’t looked back. The more time we spent together, the more we opened up and the more we realized that we wanted to build a life together. So when he actually proposed on Mother’s Day I was super excited to say yes.

He is definitely a different sort of man than I am accustomed to. He’s a man of principle and who respects women. He’s sensitive to the needs of others and a man of faith. He enjoys time with family and appreciates what he has more than he pines for what he doesn’t. He’s an optimist, loves to work with his hands, enjoys being outdoors and spending quality time together with me and his daughter. He’s interested in what I do, wants to read my work, and is actually willing and able to bounce ideas with me. Mostly he lets me talk things out when I’m stuck for which direction to go.

Maybe most importantly, he makes sure I work on the writing and have time to do what I need to do. Yet, he somehow knows when I need a break or a laugh and will distract me with corny jokes or cheesy music or videos. It amazes me how in-sync we seem to be most of the time. Oh! And he makes the best sweet tea in the world and keeps me in a glass when I’m working. Honestly, its mostly the little things folks.

So, yes, I am incredibly blessed. I have family who has always stuck by me, even when I may not have wanted them to. I have an amazing partner in life now who gets me, loves me, and enhances my life rather than drag me down. In the midst of this, I’ve managed to get two pretty awesome girls in my life too. One may be the best thing to come out of my previous marriage and I’m pretty sure that she was the primary reason for me being in that situation. The other is a bundle of energy and curiosity that inspires me to continue working like I do. But yes, I’m blessed and I wake up thanking God every morning for another day I get to appreciate all those little things that really and truly are just the biggest things in life.

The Currents

Since this blog is supposed to be a little bit of a window into my world for all you readers. I’ve decided to do a little thing I’ve seen here and there on the internet but, of course, I’ll put my own twist on it.

Without further ado, I give you The Currents List

Currently Listening To:  My mom skype chatting with my nieces in Kentucky. Love hearing a kid giggle.

Currently Watching: Nada. The TV is off but, my fiance got a hold of Season Two of Once Upon A Time. I’m really excited to watch it this weekend with him.

Currently Eating: Will be having something sweet in a bit but nothing at the moment. It’s my momma’s birthday so, I think there is a brownie or cake sort of thing in there.

Currently Drinking: Iced tea. Yep, I had two bottles of Coke earlier. I really need to ween myself off of those. I am taking a water bottle with me tomorrow. Hoping that helps.

Currently Wearing: A tank top and shorts. I’m already in pajamas as I’m writing this to post the next morning. I have to leave early to get to a different clinic so I’m not going to stay up as late as usual.

Currently Working On: Marketing copy, Continuity Edits on the Work In Progress.

Currently Looking Forward To: Time with my hubby-to-be and the kiddo this weekend. Working so many days keeps me away from them during the week right now but, that will all be changing soon. And they know I love them.

Currently Reading: I actually just finished an inspired Young Adult book by and author named Ransom Riggs. It is called Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.

I was inspired by this book’s inventive story and delivery actually. I was captivated by the excerpt that came across my desk back in 2011. I immediately wanted to have it in my personal library but I wasn’t able to acquire it for a number of unimportant reasons. Then I happened upon it in a store a couple months ago and was so excited over it that my fiance bought it for me. Now that I’ve finished reading it, he’s starting to read it.  I have a feeling that it will go through a number of hands before it finds a place in my fledgling library when we move.

Riggs has an easy to read style that seamlessly blends description and dialogue. The concept of basing the story around these peculiar vintage photographs was positively inventive, in my opinion. The quirkiness of the story and the striking impression of the characters he created for those photos is both intriguing and endearing. I was left wanting more as the book ended and was delighted when my fiance looked online and found that there is indeed a sequel in production now. I will definitely be looking for it on bookshelves and will purchase the hardback copy for my collection. It is a story that I hope to share with my kids one day.

This is the trailer for the book: 

And you can purchase it on Amazon.com here

I don’t know what I will read next. However, I’m actually going to have to take something with me to the clinic tomorrow. From what I’m told it is fairly slow there and that most people who fill in take something to read. Who knows, maybe I’ll get some drafting done while I’m there. Reading is good too though. Just need to find a new book. I think I have s Stephen King book that I haven’t read yet in the back room. Perhaps I will take that.