Saturday, 23 March 2013

Author Interview - Jessica Bell



What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life? The fact that, despite the full-time job, I can still find time to write books. So many people get into a rut, thinking they can't manage it, that there's no time. But it's not true. If you really want something, you find the time.

What made you want to be a writer? Nothing in particular. I just realized one day that I couldn't live without it. And figured, if I'm going to be writing all the time, I might as well try to get it published.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general? If I'm too influenced by other people's ideas it will skew my own. So I only ever seek an opinion once I'm confident about the final result. And I will only ever change something, then, if the suggestion completely resonates with me. Of course, I always keep an open mind. Nothing is ever set in stone. But I find this a challenge because it's so hard to keep things to myself when I'm excited about them. I just want to share it with everybody.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
That it doesn't always have to take me a year to write a first draft. I'm usually a very slow writer. But I wrote the first draft of this book in three days. I have no idea how. I have never written so fast and well in my life. Something weird came over me. I used to hear stories of writers saying that 'their muse' was calling to them, and I'd roll my eyes. But now I get it. It was a bizarre experience. It makes me wonder ... what if Bonnie was a real girl? Like I somehow connected with a spirit who told me her true story? I know, I know, sounds ridiculous. But who knows, really?

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out? Can I flaunt my own book, Show & Tell in a Nutshell? :-) In this pocket guide are sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided. Not only is this a great learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing craft no matter how broad one's writing experience. I also welcome questions via email, concerning the content of the book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at showandtellinanutshell(at)gmail(dot)com. So readers aren't just reading a craft book, they have the opportunity to seek real-life guidance.

Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers? I’m often asked how my writing can be so brutally honest and not be real. As I said to a reviewer recently, there is “… a difference between ‘honest’ and ‘factual.’ For example, in Twisted Velvet Chains, a poetry collection of mine, I’ve really amped up the ‘tragic’ quality of the poems and although the content stems from ‘real’ feelings I had at some point or another, they do not necessarily stem from the events in the poems. Notice I say ‘stem from’ real feelings. As writers we have the freedom to embellish. There’s that common saying, ‘Write what you know.’ Well, what I know is what it’s like to feel so depressed you don’t even want to lift a finger. I also know what it’s like growing up with rock musicians as parents. I also know firsthand what it’s like to be a musician and perform in front of an audience. I know that when someone is suffering from Valium withdrawal, the symptoms mimic the symptoms of bipolar disorder. I also know what it feels like to hate everyone in the entire world as a teen—teens tend to feel that way, and teens tend to exaggerate those feelings, too. I know what it feels like to love, to hate, to envy, to regret, to feel so passionate about something that you don’t care what is going on around you. Put all these ‘experiences’ together, and wham, you’ve got something that is ‘honest,’ but not necessarily ‘factual.’

How has living in Greece changed you as a person and as a writer? I would never have got my first job as an editor if I hadn’t moved here. I make a living as an editor/writer of English Language Teaching materials. There is no need for this sort of thing in an English speaking country. So I guess, I have Greece to thank for allowing me to pursue my love of the written word. I think if I had have remained in Australia, I would have stayed more focused on my music.

Do you consider yourself above all a singer/songwriter or a writer? A writer for sure. I was born into music, so it came naturally, but writing is something I gradually learned I wanted for myself and had a strong passion to pursue.

What gives you the hardest time? Lyrics for a song or a poem? Neither. I love to write both, and when I love something, the word “hard” does not have a place in my vocabulary.

How would you describe your discography until today? Grunge-pop, atmospheric? To be honest I have no idea. My style varies quite a lot from album to album. Bar the latest album, Melody Hill, which is the soundtrack to my novel, String Bridge, I think my music is in major need of reproduction. If only I had the money, then I could make my music sound how I hear it in my head, rather than what my wallet determines.

What are the messages that you think your readers will take away after reading your books? Take control. You are the only one who can make your life what you want it to be. Embrace the good and the bad. If you look at the bigger picture, there is no such thing as a bad experience. Believe in love and hope; if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Tell us about Vine Leaves Press … Is self-publishing the only solution? Vine Leaves Press is my self-publishing imprint. No, self-publishing is not the only solution, but nowadays, if you’re not writing about vampires, werewolves, or paranormal activity, it’s really hard to get that big break because the Big 6 publishers are only looking for what is going to make them money. And what makes money nowadays is not the modern day F. Scott Fitzgerald. It’s logical. It’s business. But it’s not the be-all-and-end-all.

Publishing has changed so much over the past few years, and I think it's time people learn to embrace it, just like they had to embrace the digital revolution of the music industry. Independent artists are everywhere now. What people have to understand is, authors don’t self publish because they're lazy to go through the slog of submitting queries to agents, or editing their manuscripts properly, or simply out of impatience to see their work in print. Self-published authors are, in fact, some of the most motivated and tough-skinned authors I've ever known.

A lot of them, including me, have huge stories behind the reason they self publish. Stories that most people will never know about, because when someone releases a book, it's not like you can say on the blurb, "This book is self-published, but I actually once had an agent and a book deal with a Big 6 publisher, but decided to go the indie route because I felt it was better for me, both professionally and emotionally."

Or …

This book is self-published because I spent years and years querying it, was told that the writing was great, but no agent believed they could sell it. So ... here's my book. I don't need to sell a million copies, a few hundred is enough for me. Plus it's been through so many edits after all the agent feedback, I doubt you'll be able to find one thing wrong with it."

Or …

“This book is self-published, but actually it was once traditionally published by a small press. Unfortunately they liquidated and I had to get it back on the market as quickly as possible before all my marketing efforts went to waste."

So ... I urge everyone who is skeptical about self-published works, to think about the story behind it, and the effort it's taken to get it out there, and the heartache the writer has been through to finally come to the decision to do it on their own. Self-publishing is no longer for the impatient ... it's for authors who have done everything they can before finally deciding to take their fate into their own hands.

Is social media a big help to you when promoting your work? I could not live without it. It’s my international loudspeaker. I’m quite isolated being an English writer in a non-English speaking country, and I need to promote my work to the English-speaking world. Yes, it’s an excellent help. It only gets annoying when people make their websites a never-ending advert. The key to social networking is to engage in conversations, interact with your audience. Saying, “buy my book, it’s great” all the time, isn’t going to sell it. But saying “hey, what do you think about blah blah blah?” and actually eliciting opinions from others, means you are saying something that people are interested in. And if they’re interested in what you’re saying online, then it’s likely they are going to investigate you further. It’s a long process, and hard work. But it pays off.

Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - Contemporary Fiction 
Rating – PG13
More details about the author & the book
Connect with Jessica Bell on Facebook & Twitter

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Books Sold - 6 Nov 2011 to 31 May 2012

Some of you have asked me for my total number of books sold to evaluate KDP Select so here it is. Bear in mind, that results will vary based on genre and author. Good luck and remember, Keep Moving Forward.

Total - 120,836

1. Excuse Me, My Brains Have Stepped Out
Amazon Kindle - 42,559
Paperback -
Smashwords -

2. Frequent Traveller
Amazon Kindle - 35277
Paperback -
Smashwords -

3. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 1
Amazon Kindle - 462
Smashwords -

4. Mirror Me Martha (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 281
Smashwords -

5. Drive On Hope (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle - 190
Smashwords -

6. Blog-A-Licious Directory 2012
Amazon Kindle - 1
Smashwords -

7. Pandora's Reading Room 1
Amazon Kindle -
Paperback - N/A

8. The Cat That Barked (Short Story)
Amazon Kindle -

9. Dora's Essentials - Examining Anxiety
Amazon Kindle -

10. Dora's Essentials - Books, Blogs & Smiles 2
Amazon Kindle -

11. Elevenses from Around the World
Amazon Kindle -

12. Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability
Amazon Kindle -

Blog-A-Licius - Sherbet Blossom

SherbetBlossom

Blog-A-Licious

Dealightfully Frugal

Blog-A-Licious - The Few, The Proud, The Wife

Blog-A-Licious

My Soul Slippers

Blog-A-Licous - Textbook Mommy

Blog-A-Licious - Blue Frogs Legs

Blog-A-Licious - Pretty All True

Pretty All True

Blog-A-Licious - tbaoo

tbaoo

Blog-A-Licious

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Blog-A-Licious - The Invisible Art

Blog-A-Licious - Rediscovering Domesticity

Rediscovering Domesticity

Blog-A-Licious - Quiver Full

Blog-A-Licious - Cori's Big Mouth

Blog-A-Licious - Great Fun

Greatfun4kids

Blog-A-Licious - Busy Wife

Blog-A-Licious - Steps To Happiness

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Blog-A-Licious - Toby & Max


Blog-A-Licious - Amelie

Raising Amelie

Blog-A-Licious - Peas In A Pod

Blog-A-Licious - Riley

Blognostics - Poetry

BlogNostics

My Awards - September 2010

My Awards - September 2010
Awarded By Jo Frances

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded By Alejandro Guzman

My Awards - May 2011

My Awards - May 2011
Awarded by Kriti Mukherjee

My Awards - April 2011

My Awards - April 2011
Awarded By Roy Durham

My Awards - June 2011

My Awards - June 2011
Awarded By Sulekha Rawat

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