Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go. ~ E. L. Doctorow

Friday, November 11, 2011

Amazon Chart Rush

Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell's debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrackMelody Hill: On the Other Sidewritten and performed by the author herself, for free!

All you have to do is purchase the book today (paperback, or eBook), November 11th, and then email the receipt to:


She will then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!

To purchase the paperback:

To purchase the eBook:

To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.

If you are not familiar with String Bridge, check out the book trailer:

Rave Reviews for String Bridge:

Jessica Bell’s STRING BRIDGE strummed the fret of my veins, thrummed my blood into a mad rush, played me taut until the final page, yet with echoes still reverberating. A rhythmic debut with metrical tones of heavied dark, fleeting prisms of light, and finally, a burst of joy—just as with any good song, my hopeful heartbeat kept tempo with Bell’s narrative.~ Kathryn Magendie, author of Sweetie and Publishing Editor of Rose & Thorn Journal

“Poet and musician Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge is a rich exploration of desire, guilt, and the difficult balancing act of the modern woman. The writing is lyrical throughout, seamlessly integrating setting, character and plot in a musical structure that allows the reader to identify with Melody's growing insecurity as her world begins to unravel … String Bridge is a powerful debut from a promising writer, full of music, metaphor, and just a hint of magic.” ~ Magdalena Ball, author of Repulsion Thrust and Sleep Before Evening

Jessica Bell is a brilliant writer of great skill and depth. She doesn't pull back from the difficult scenes, from conflict, pain, intensity. She puts it all out there, no holds barred, no holding back. She knows how to craft a scene, how to develop character, how to create suspense. This is an absolutely brilliant debut novel. I look forward to reading her next novel, and next and next.” ~ Karen Jones Gowen, author of Farm Girl, Uncut Diamonds and House of Diamonds

Please TWEET and/or FACEBOOK this post using #StringBridge!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Jessica Bell Interview

Welcome back to the String Bridge Blog Tour! Today, I have my interview with Jessica Bell. I focused on more personal questions, rather than her novel, due to the sheer volume of interviewers. I wanted you to see a side of her that you can't get from her novel or book reviews. If you missed my review yesterday, check it out. 

String Bridge Debut-Interview with Jessica Bell

Milk, Dark or White Chocolate?
Milk! Especially with cream peppermint filling.

How did your Dalmatian Holly find her way into your family?
Ah, well, we found a breeder on the island of Crete and chose her from a picture! The breeder then sent her over with a ferry and bus at only 35 days old. Was totally hit and miss. We knew we wanted a Dalmatian, so it was just a matter of finding one. We were so lucky. Her temperament is wonderful. She is now four years old. Here is the picture we chose her from:

Did you experience any sibling rivalry growing up?
Nope. Was an only child until my half brother and sister came along. I only visited them, though, so we never spent enough time together to experience any conflict.

What’s on your guilty pleasure reading list?
Haha. Marian Keyes and Jodi Picoult.

What’s the story behind your nose piercing? Do you have any other piercings or tattoos?
Got it when I was 14 simply because I wanted to look tough. HA! J I have two holes in each ear, but no tatts. I’m terrified of pain! Would love to get a small one somewhere though. My closest cousins both have a gorgeous little dragonfly behind their ears at the base of their hairline. That’s my idea of a perfect tattoo. I think I might do something similar one day.

What activities do you enjoy while traveling?
Gotta see the sights. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Can you give us a glimpse of what a typical night-out-with-friends looks like?
I’m a bit boring when it comes to going out nowadays. I just can’t be bothered. Ha! But if I do go out, it’s usually with a girlfriend for sushi and a good chunk of cake afterward J. I also love to just sit on my balcony, with my other half, drinking wine.

What are your favorite TV shows and/or movies?
TV shows: Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Bones, Dexter
Movies: The Hours, Strictly Ballroom, The Green Mile, Shawshank Redemption, Cry Baby, Hairspray (the old version)

Who is your favorite character in literature? Why?
I’ve actually never thought about that before … Hmm … I really don’t know. Can I say anyone who has major flaws and is depicted realistically?

How does the publishing experience with String Bridge differ from your collection of poetry Twisted Velvet Chains or any of your short stories?
Well, the short stories are in anthologies from various publishers, so it is just a matter of submitting them and getting them accepted. After acceptance I don’t usually get involved. Except recently for a short story I was commissioned to write for eMergent Publishing’s “Literary Mix Tapes,” I actually had a say in the editing phases for that, which was wonderful.

The poetry book, I self-published because, to cut a long story short, I believed in it and publishers are reluctant to release such depressing material. Have received a wonderful response for it though, so I don’t regret that move at all. And I’m not in it for the money. I just want people to read my work.

Getting String Bridge accepted by Lucky Press must be my proudest moment ever. Especially considering the fact that I was about to shelve the manuscript. Janice, the publisher of Lucky Press, has been one of the most supportive people in this whole journey. She has boosted my confidence in ways I can’t even describe. I spent five years trying to write like other people were telling me to write until Janice came along. She encouraged me to be true to myself. Being true to myself is what got the book published.

Do you have a catch phrase?
Learn the rules, and then break them intelligently.

String Bridge Review

Today, I present you with my review of Jessica Bell's debut novel String Bridge. This is my first book review*, so please bear with me. I'm sure I forgot something in my attempt to make this a comprehensive quick read. I've provided a bio and list of links to purchase her novel and the soundtrack at the end of the review. 

Check back tomorrow to learn more about Jessica from my interview with her.    

*May contain spoilers.

String Bridge
By Jessica Bell
Lucky Press, LLC. 288 pp. $14.95

What price must be paid to hold onto our dreams? Jessica Bell dives into the dilemma of staying true to oneself in marriage and motherhood in her debut novel, String Bridge. She gives readers insight into the effects of compromising your identity for your family.

This visually evocative story set in Athens, Greece paints a picture of relationships between parents, husbands and wives and children many will recognize. Bell’s character development brings a life to Melody, her husband, Alex and their daughter, Tessa that touches the reader in an honest and heartbreaking way.

The novel’s structure, similar to an opus, is broken down into numbered parts. Each of the four sections begins with lyrics to a song from the soundtrack, On The Other Side, accompanying the novel that reveals a part of Melody’s battle between pursuing her music career and her responsibilities as a wife and mother. It’s evident to the reader Melody’s dream to play music faded after marriage and motherhood. She’s determined to breathe new life into her dream at any cost.

Melody’s anger and resentment towards her husband and daughter about her life creates dissonance in her marriage. Alex is distant and short-tempered, and Melody wants time away from him to sort out her feelings. A plan to accept a promotion in England with an attractive boss and join an ex-boyfriend on tour with his band leads to the epic fight that puts Tessa in the hospital.

In the last part of the novel, Melody reflects on her life and the choices she’s made. She realizes relationships are fragile and easily broken after a life-altering accident. In the novel excerpt below, Melody explains the bridge on a guitar to Tessa in hopes of filling her with the same wonder and excitement about music that she grew up with. The bridge is where the strings originate and receive support, much like a family.  

‘“Well, that is one of the most important parts, Blossom. If the bridge isn’t straight, or built properly, then the strings won’t sing very well—the guitar will be out of tune.’
‘Out of tune?’
‘Well, I guess that just means, not quite right—when strings are out of tune, they sound a bit sad.’”

Relating to Melody was easier than I thought when I started reading this novel. I know how it feels to stand still while a life you thought you wanted engulfs you, slowly eating away at your identity until you’re left with an unrecognizable image in the mirror. Then, something drastic and emotionally devastating happens, snapping you back to reality. It’s the moment when you decide if you’re going to let life happen or fight for the one you want. I’m confident women at any stage of life will get wrapped up in the tumultuous world Jessica Bell created in her novel. 

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the author. I did not receive renumeration. 

Jessica Bell is a literary women's fiction author, poet and singer/songwriter who grew up in Melbourne, Australia, to two gothic rock musicians who had successful independent careers during the '80s and early '90s.

She spent much of her childhood travelling to and from Australia to Europe, experiencing two entirely different worlds, yet feeling equally at home in both environments. She currently lives in Athens, Greece and works as a freelance writer/editor for English Language Teaching publishers worldwide, such as HarperCollins, Pearson Education and Macmillan Education.

In addition to String Bridge, Jessica has published a book of poetry called Twisted Velvet Chains. A full list of poems and short stories published in various anthologies and literary magazines can be found under Published Works & Awards, on her website.

From September 2012 Jessica will be hosting the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop on the Greek island of Ithaca, home of Odysseus.

Purchase links:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pump the Brakes Princess!

Well, I knew November promised a fast-paced insanity. And to add to the enormous pile on my plate, my metaphorical brakes don't work anymore. I just hope my head doesn't spin off into a wall while I try to keep up.

Today, I'm interviewing for a freelance copywriting position in King of Prussia, PA (high-end shopping mecca with Lego Store). I'm a bit apprehensive, but curious to see where my writing journey takes me.

This month is filled with birthdays, including my own. My schedule is already filled with writing goals, art projects, job searches and holiday planning that squeezing in some gift shopping and a few birthday parties might require some heavy-duty lubricant.

Let's see...what else?

I replaced my original NaNoWriMo novel with a mystery story, HIDING, I started at the beginning of October. The decision wasn't easy after spending a month prepping the original idea, but HIDING kept pulling at me, so I gave in. My outlook on the crazy month of writing changed as well. I face everyday with the goal of getting some writing done on my story. The pursuit of 50,000 words (focus on QUANTITY over quality) doesn't jive with my current process. The story tells me what it needs, and I need to listen.

And finally...

This is the second week of Jessica Bell's String Bridge Blog Tour. I'm excited to be part of her promotional team getting the word out about her debut novel with accompanying soundtrack.

WEDNESDAY: I will post my review of her novel.

THURSDAY: Check out my interview with Jessica, and find out what TV shows she likes to watch and if she has any hidden tattoos.

What's going on in your life? Any new books, projects, jobs, etc.?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Drabble

Happy Halloween! 

Enjoy my Halloween-inspired drabble. Have a scary good time today!  


Drew hated his parents’ Halloween parties. He’d rather be skateboarding than manning the buffet table. Couldn’t they hide the decay of their marriage like everyone else, behind closed doors?

A witch busting the seams of her costume approached.

He gave the prepared greeting. “Welcome to the Unforsaken Feast! Ooooooooo!”

“Is that you, Andrew?”

He clinched his teeth. “Yes, Mrs. Baer.”

She grabbed two Deadly Chocolate Cakes. “So, whose ghost are you supposed to be?”

“The ghost of my childhood.”

“Haha! You slay me.”

He rolled his eyes. She continued to fill her plate.

Under his breath, “Who says that shit?”

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nomenclature: Help Name My Characters!

November 1, the start of NaNoWriMo, arrives in 11 days. The planning of my amateur sleuth mystery novel gains clarity and complexity with each new technique and strategy Susan Meier presents in her class

A photograph of the hardcopy of my ideas, notes and inspirational quotes are above. The rest of my scaffolding is sitting on my computer. 

There's just one problem...my characters are nameless. 

I need help to decide on the best moniker for them. So, I hand over to you, my readers, the privilege of naming my characters. Of course, I plan to fill my novel with many more characters. These three are the only ones developed enough at this point. 

Some quick background: I drew inspiration from two famous literary characters and a notorious historical figure. I've included important character traits as well as the meaning of each name to help in the process.  

Just write your choices for the three characters in the comments below. Thanks for you help!   

Female Don Quixote: Knight of Lost Causes, quixotic, passionate, impulsive, unpredictable, idealistic

Dakota- the allies
Dana-arbiter, power to decide a dispute; judge
Danielle-God is my judge
Daphne-Laurel, a recognition of achievement, honor

Female Sancho Panza:Rational, level headed, loving, protagonist's sister

Sade-sweetly singing
Sandra (Sandi)-defending men
Sasha-defending men
Shelby-a place where willows grow; sheltered
Sydney-wide meadow
Sierra-Mountain range
Skylar-guarded; scholar
Patricia- A patrician
Paula-small, humble
Penelope-weaver; duck
Philipa-lover of horses
Pippa-lover of horses
Prudence (Pru)-provident, frugal

Male Pancho Villa: Morally ambiguous, champion, protector, criminal, 


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gearing Up For NaNoWriMo!

The orange and red hues on the trees mark the beginning of my favorite season, fall. It also marks the prepping period for NaNoWriMo 2011. I’m excited to start my second NaNoWriMo challenge. Note cards with inspirational quotes and sheets of paper with story ideas and my research list cover every inch of my writing desk. The chaos focuses my attention on writing, instead of staring at the daydream-inducing empty spaces.

As November approaches, my blog schedule needs to slow down while I get into crazy writing mode. I will post once a week on Thursdays from now until December.

The new NaNoWriMo site is up. I’m heading over there soon to start inputting my mystery novel info. Stop by and add me to your buddy list, LauraMCampbell. I’m going to need a lot of support to win this year!

Now, I leave you with a poignant and funny article by Rebecca Makkai, “How To Find Your Story and Craft a Pitch in 10 Easy Steps (And You Can Even Do It Drunk!)".      

I would love to add you to my buddy list and hear what you’re planning to write this November. Leave your NaNoWriMo Username and your NaNo novel genre in the comments below.  

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Prose from the Prose #14: Billy Corgan


Music fills in the empty spaces inside me. One of my all-time favorite songwriters, Billy Corgan, always knows what to say. Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness grabbed hold of me so tight, I never returned the borrowed 2-Disc set to my friend back in 9th grade. It's still in my cd collection.

My adoration for Corgan goes beyond his music and lyrics to his poetry. My copy of Blinking with Fists went missing for about six months only to find it at the bottom of a pile of books on my nightstand. Scatterbrained am I. So, as a tribute to him I would like to share one of his poems from the collection on this warm, sunny Sunday.

on the maypole
billy corgan

around the maypole with childish eye
rushing thru autumn days
wrapping blankets around frames
wishing in the sky
no matter where you stand
you stand here with me
missing simple times
mixing blood with rose oil
we are leaving too soon
to make new friends
we shall not remember

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Insecure Writer's Support Group:Destination Write


Inspired by Syfy’s Destination Truth and host funny man Josh Gates, I plan to set out on a journey to write. Instead of searching for the truth behind myths and legends, I’m searching for places where my ideas will flow unhindered to the page.

Writing at home for the most part is successful and gratifying for me. But, some days my writing area just doesn’t cut it. I’ll spend the majority of the time devising strategies to get around writer’s block or coming up with new ways to outrun devious distractions, instead of writing. I’m exhausted. My self-confidence is depleted.

A wise writer once said, “You need to show up at the same time in the same place if you want your muse to find you.” What if the “same time, same place” isn’t a physical location, but a mental one?

Writers and many other artists get trapped in the interiors of their minds. They dodge booby traps set by fear and self-doubt. I believe this mental perpetrator can be outwitted by finding the right time and place in my mind to create. So, in an attempt to quell the overwhelming storm of inadequacy and failure, I devised a plan.

I put together a list of different places to write (i.e., park, library, Barnes & Noble, café, food court in mall, etc.) and wrote them on pieces of paper. Those pieces of paper went into a bag, which will be pulled at random during the week when writing at home turns into a chore and my inspiration screams for resuscitation.

Hopefully on this adventure, the random locations will nurture my creativity and help me avoid Internet distractions. Ultimately, strengthening my writing style, rhythm and imagination.  

Keep in mind, no two writers approach writing the same way. What works for me, won’t necessarily work for you. Each of us explores a self-made path to success. You’ll know what works for you when you can breathe deep and your ideas flow to the page.

What works best for your writing, a physical or mental place?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Soundtrack of My Hypothetical Life

Flake. One word description of yours truly. I'm currently caught in a tug-of-war between life and prepping for NaNoWriMo. The focus on my fiction writing tends to monopolize my time. The blog suffers.

In the meantime, check out the soundtrack my iTunes shuffle compiled. Alex @Magpie Writes inspired me to gain insight into my "musical proclivities." I found it quite interesting, even when a song at first glance didn't seem to fit the category. The randomness for the most part is dead on and often times hilarious.

Municipal Services Bldg., Center City Philadelphia

Soundtrack Of Life
30 September 2011
Opening Credits: F*** You-Lily Allen

Waking Up: Forest-System of a Down

First Day of School: Whatever’s Left-Snow Patrol

Falling in Love: Shitloads of Money-Liz Phair

Fight Song: One of These Things First-Nick Drake

Prom: Huffer-The Breeders

Life: Sanctified-Nine Inch Nails

Mental Breakdown: Camisado-Panic! At The Disco

Driving: Pressure-Paramore

Flashback: Roi (Reprise)-The Breeders

Getting Back Together: The Sweets-Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Wedding: The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage-Panic! At The Disco

Birth of Child: Son of Three-The Breeders

Final Battle: Into The Fire (Tiesto Mix)-NOA Assembly

Death Scene: 46 & 2-Tool

End Credits: How Does It Feel-Radford 

What are you waiting for? Go do it! 

What does your soundtrack say about you?

Friday, September 23, 2011

ATTN: NaNoWriMos!!

Hi all! I just wanted to update you on Pennwriters upcoming online course.

**********  PERMISSION TO FORWARD GRANTED  **********

Pennwriters Inc. brings you...


DATE: October 1 – October 31, 2011

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110
   (LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.)

Everybody believes NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which runs every November at http://www.nanowrimo.org) is a race against the clock, a fight with procrastination and inertia. In some ways it is. But once you’re in the thick of things, you’ll discover NaNo is really all about ideas. Writers don’t stall because they’re lazy. Writers stall because they don’t know what to write next.

The month BEFORE NaNo, get proven tips from Susan Meier—the author of almost 50 books for Harlequin and Silhouette—and let her take you through several different ways to examine the story you want to write, to capture the natural scene possibilities within your idea, to generate new ideas, and to push yourself through the most grueling, but fun, month you will spend this year! Lessons include:

* The List of 20 (How to generate ideas quickly so you have little downtime when your natural ideas run out)
* Turning a “Want” into “Need” (How does knowing why you’re writing this book provide you with both energy to write and ideas for your story?)
* The One-Paragraph Story Summary (Say it succinctly…3 kinds of one-paragraph story summaries: back cover blurb, core story question, and growth paragraph)
* Could, Might, Must and Should List (How to capture ideas that spring up naturally)
* Storyboard Versus Synopsis (Breaking your idea down into manageable bites)
* The Psychology of Pushing through the Hard Times (What to do when you get stuck)
* The Psychology of a Draft (Push, push, push!)
* What Are You Doing in December? (Editing tips)

Discover how to get the most out of NaNo and write a publishable novel. LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

REGISTER: http://tinyurl.com/PennwritersCourse201110

Susan Meier is the author of over 45 books for Harlequin and Silhouette and one of Guideposts' Grace Chapel Inn series books, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Her books have been finalists for Reviewers Choice Awards, National Reader's Choice Awards and Cataromance.com Reviewer's Choice Awards and nominated for Romantic Times awards. Her book, HER BABY’S FIRST CHRISTMAS won the traditional category in the 2009 More Than Magic contest. HER PREGNANCY SURPRISE, her first release for the Harlequin Romance line, made both Walden’s Bestseller List for Series Romance and Bookscan. MAID FOR THE MILLIONAIRE, MAID FOR THE SINGLE DAD, and COUNTRY TWIN CHRISTMAS are her 2010 releases. Susan loves to teach as much as she loves to write and is a popular speaker at RWA chapter conferences. Can This Manuscript Be Saved? and Journey Steps, Taking the Train to Somewhere! are her most requested workshops. Her article “How to Write a Category Romance” appeared in 2003 Writer’s Digest Novel and Short Story Markets.  Susan also gives online workshops for various groups and her articles regularly appear in RWA chapter newsletters. For more information about Susan Meier, visit http://www.susanmeier.com.

* Subscribe to our announcement list for email on our latest online courses!

* For more information on this course, contact Laura M. Campbell, Online Courses Coordinator.
To mail in your registration and payment, send payment at least one week before the course starts using the mail form at this link.
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