Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Donnell Gets Lost Talking about Joe


Celebrating the debut of her first book, new romatic suspense author Donnell Ann Bell flew to Texas and suffered through our heat wave (see us both sweating below) just so I could have a face-to-face interview.

Okay, she was actually here planning her son’s wedding and I was fortunate that she had time to visit with me. I wish everyone could have seen her face light up when she saw her son. Her love was evident in her expression and I’m a witness that the same light shown in her eyes when she spoke about the characters in THE PAST CAME HUNTING.

ANGI: So Donnell, what do you want to tell the world?

DONNELL: Well, first off, I want to tell the world that my eyes lit up when I saw the fabulous, generous talented Angi Morgan who picked me up at the airport. Talk about flattered. She probably didn’t see my eyes light up because of the sunglasses. We debut authors wear them all the time now LOL ;)

But what do I want to tell the world about THE PAST CAME HUNTING is that old hats in this business tell us don’t invest too much time in the book of your heart because writing is a business. On one hand, that’s smart, profound advice. But in my case I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this book. Too many people have said, “Can’t wait to read the rest of this story.” I couldn’t let them down.

ANGI: Did you like the publishing process?

DONNELL: I was really impressed with my editor, Pat Van Wie. However, when I read her revision letter, I wondered why she had bought the book. She didn’t like my hero. With her suggestions to tone him down, I was still able to keep him alpha, but he was a lot more human. I fell in love with Joe all over again, and, trust me, I loved him LOTS already ;)

ANGI: So what about Joe? How is he more human?

DONNELL: Because I had completed the Citizens Academy and volunteered as a victims’ advocate, I was obsessed with procedure and getting them right. But by doing that I made Joe a by-the-book, one-dimensional character. He was “such” a cop. When I allowed love and family to flow into the process, he transformed on the pages.

ANGI: You said when it comes to your writing, “I finish songs.” At first I thought you meant actually singing them. (LOL) But I later got the impression it was something else. So what do you actually mean?

DONNELL: Oh, I sing them, Angi ;) Don’t get me started. But when I hear a song, particularly a country song, I’m drawn into the words and they won’t let go. Country music writers are the best storytellers out there in my opinion. But, darn, if they don’t leave us hanging when that three minutes ends.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take all my stories from music. If I hear a news broadcast and I can’t find out the conclusion, my muse can’t stand it. For example: I wrote my first book because I heard a story about a lawyer being gunned down on the Santa Fe, NM capitol steps. I was on my lunch hour, and that tragedy just hit me as if I’d been there to witness it in person. I couldn’t think straight for the rest of the day. I’m from New Mexico, and happenings like this our extraordinary--e.g. they don’t happen. I went home, read papers, watched the news, but not another word was said. So I had no choice; I wrote an entire book based on a breaking news blurb.

ANGI: You said you didn’t think THE PAST CAME HUNTING was a regular romance. What makes it different?

DONNELL: It’s not the quintessential romance because I break too many rules. Oh, my hero and heroine meet in a timely fashion, but Joe and Melanie’s first priorities are their children and their careers. I go into the POV of Melanie’s son. I felt it was instrumental to let readers know how this kid was feeling. Melanie must fight her own battle when it comes to facing Drake Maxwell. Agents wanted me to keep Joe and Melanie together when the ultimate crisis happens. That just felt wrong to me. Joe plays a huge part in this book, but it’s Melanie’s story.

ANGI: What’s your favorite scene?

DONNELL: Oh gosh, there’s so many, and not necessarily with Melanie and Joe. One is when Melanie--thanks of course, to Joe’s blunt persuasion--has to tell Luke about her past, which is a heartbreaking revelation for a mom to tell her son. Imagine, having to tell your child you’re not the person he’s thought you were all these years, and he’s fifteen years old. THE PAST CAME HUNTING crosses genres. It’s romantic suspense, women’s fiction and even has glimpses of young adult.

The scene after that heart-wrenching scene is also a favorite. Melanie lets Joe know she took his advice--he was very happy with her, and that was a pretty special scene, too. ;)

ANGI: You’ve told us that THE PAST CAME HUNTING is Melanie’s story. So why did you originally call it WALK AWAY JOE?

DONNELL: Because for the purpose of this book “Walk Away” is a prison term, and readers will learn that Melanie is an ex-con. It’s a terrible conflict to throw at a police lieutenant who learns she’s his new neighbor, and really awful because he finds her attractive.

Who’s your walk away? is a question asked by the guards and the convicts in prison--at least in THE PAST CAME HUNTING. A “walk away” means a woman’s been duped by a man and SHE let it happen. When Melanie hears Joe’s a walk away, that’s simply a devastating blow to her ego.

ANGI: Name a couple of things that broke the normal publishing rules?

DONNELL: There are four POVs in the story, each one critical, in my opinion. I’ve often heard you should keep a tight rein on your POV, and I did a fair job of respecting these “rules.” But as I mentioned above, I just felt it was absolutely necessary to show Melanie’s son’s perspective. Without Luke’s POV I feel the book would have lacked a certain richness.

I am so excited that you had time to visit with me, Donnell. I’ve been waiting years to see your book on the shelf ! Congratulations, Friend!

Angi, Ditto, Girlfriend! I’ll never ever forget your kindness in picking me up at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and this wonderful little chat. My eyes are lighting up (and tearing up) all over again… Now where did I put my tissues and sunglasses?

Readers, I’ve also got a surprise for you -- I’ve linked a never-seen chapter to my web page. It’s a special scene to me, and if you can tell me something about it, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win THE PAST CAME HUNTING. Just go to and click on the link that says EXCERPT. (I hope you enjoy ;)

You can also find Donnell at the following places:
Twitter Facebook Blogging: Five Scribes or Get Lost

FAN QUESTION for today
What’s the most outrageous rule you’ve ever broken (either on purpose or accidentally)?

DON’T FORGET to FOLLOW us on Twitter (#GetLostStories) or LIKE us on Facebook to keep up with all our guest authors and their prizes. Join us for the rest of this week as we celebrate Donnell’s debut release. Remember to check back daily to GET LOST in your favorite stories! ~Angi


  1. LOL, this was such a fun interview to do with my buddy, Angi. Just look how hot and wilted the two of us look! Barnes & Noble was like an oasis in Fort Worth!

  2. Good morning, Donnell and Angi. For once, I was determined to be the early bird. LOL

    Angi - fabulous interview!

    Donnell - thanks! It's always fascinating to me to learn the story behind the story.

    Can't wait for Friday, when you're guesting at my blog and giving us even more insight into your characters. ;)

    As for the chapter that wasn't--whew! It ratcheted up the suspense and gave me instant sympathy for your heroine.

    Oh, and the question...I'm not much of a rule-breaker. Hmm...

    Some "rules" shouldn't have been made at all. I once crossed a bunch of lines to bring together people who had no love--and even some hatred--for each other. In the long run, they were stunned to find they'd become friends.

    As a romance writer, I love those kind of happy endings.


  3. Yay! Barbara, you're an early bird. Thanks for the feedback on my got away chapter. Are you talking about real life Hatfield and McCoys or in fiction. In FAMILY MATTERS I saw you do this big time to bring two different groups together? Gosh, if that happened in real life, we should make you an arbitrator ;) Thanks for being here today!

  4. Donnell - I was talking about real life.

    Actually, I hadn't even thought about FAMILY MATTERS. It's true there, too. And that was such a fun book to write!


  5. HI Donnell,

    The romance genre is chock full of rules that I have stuffed into the far corners of my brain and almost never reference. As a consequence, I continually break the rules and have to negotiate edits! Good thing I have patient and wonderful editors!

  6. GJillian, you rock. I hope people are reading this because there's a time and place to follow rules, and OBVIOUSLY, your two publisher/multi-book contracts support my theory!

  7. Great interview Angi and Donnell. I love rule breakers. My favorite workshop is Allison Brennan's on breaking rules. That the heroine is responsible for herself or saves herself is my kind of book.

    Good luck and many sales. I look forward to reading The Past Came Hunting!

    And next time you come to Texas give me a shout. Angi can show you Dallas, and I've got cowtown covered!

  8. W. Lynn, you are marvelous. Thanks for doing the blog trek with me LOL.

  9. Hi, Donnell. This is a great "inside" look at The Past Came Hunting.

    I love your idea about taking readers to an excerpt on your website. I loved it! The thing that caught me the most was that Melanie wasn't afraid of "them." I was afraid of them just from reading the excerpt. Excellent writing.

    Lucie j.

  10. Yay, Lucie, thanks for stopping by and being as afraid of them as I was. Appreciate the compliment .

  11. I love your cover, Donnell! I also think it's pretty cool that you have a child's POV in your story. Best of luck!

  12. Once again I want to say how much I appreciated sitting with my friend, Donnell...even if it was just at a Barnes & Noble Store. >>grin<< When she comes back, I'm going to have a lot of writers over to hook her up with!

    Rules? Who needs rules?
    Actually, I plead the 5th...can't reveal my rule breaking since the statute of limitations isn't up yet. LOL


  13. Nope, you gotta keep those broken rules secret... for your memoirs. Angi and I had such a blast visiting. How cool to conduct an interview in person, right?

  14. What an interesting interview! I'm not just blowing smoke when I say this book HAS to be on my TBR list. I love that you broke traditional "rules," Donnell. I've always found them to be a bit constraining LOL.

    In my writing, I break all the rules of romance! Major one, straddling genres in a way that make marketing scratch their heads!

    I always figure if someone didn't break the rules, there'd never be change.

  15. Wow, great excerpt, Donnell. Unfortunately, I've had several of my ex-students end up in county jail and experience moments like Mel did.

    Congratulations again on your debut release!

  16. I have been waiting FOREVER to read the rest of this book... so YAY!!!!

  17. Great Interview! I have a few rules that I try to follow but I usually break them. I think it is a way of life. Donelle, cannot wait to see what rules you have broken in this book.

  18. Jo, thank you!!! LOL. I think both of us can say we didn't play well with the marketing departments of NY ;) I'm very sad for those kids that end up in county. Talk about a life changer.

  19. Oh, Barbara, you too? LOL... Thank you so much. Your support means everything to me!

  20. Thanks, Sherie, oh, gosh. lots and lots of rules broken by so many parties. Can't wait to hear your opinion. Take notes :)

  21. Congratulations, Donnell! You SOOOOO deserve this!

  22. Congratulations Donnell on the release of your first book. I hope you watch your baby go out into the world and grab many hearts!

    Generally, I'm not much of a rule breaker. I'm very boring in that sense however I do like books that break conventions and make themselves more memorable. They don't necessarily have to be outlandish as every small rules can make a story exciting, only if it works with the story though. It seems I live out all the excitement and danger in books :)

  23. Na, I think you speak for all of us. We live vicariously through books. I certainly don't have any desire to be my protagonist Melanie, that's for sure! Great observations. Thank you for your well wishes!

  24. Donnell, what a wonderful interview! I'm so excited for you on the release of THE PAST CAME HUNTING. Best wishes for many sales!

  25. Michelle!!! Thank you so much for the congrats and best wishes and stopping by. Angi did a wonderful job on this interview. She was also an excellent chauffeur ;) I highly recommend her for anyone's debut book ;)