Writer Interviews: Donnell Bell

Posted by on April 11, 2012










I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that Donnell Bell, the author of THE PAST CAME HUNTING, may be one of the nicest, most supportive, most positive people I’ve ever met in my life. And I’m not the only person to think this. If that’s not enough, she’s a great writer to boot. I love her debut book and can’t wait to read everything else Donnell puts on paper. I know you’ll love her and her writing, as well. Here’s the wonderful Donnell Bell in her own words:


1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?

My schedule varies, depending on family obligations, exercise routine, and more, but I try to get in around four to six hours a day – I work hard to treat writing as a job.

2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?

Call a cop. 😉 I’ve heard people say there’s no such thing as writer’s block, and in a sense, I think that’s true. But there is such a thing as plot development problems. I received some advice to write around it and come back to it.

That doesn’t work for me. If I write something wrong in one scene, I have found I actually create additional plot problems down the road. So, I stop and research and do my best to make sure I’ve got it right and then I can proceed with confidence.

3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?

Oh gosh, so many. Here’s some I just happened to pull off a shelf that’s within arm’s reach:

Goal Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. Her book is a staple of the industry!

Fearless Creating: Eric Maisel, Ph.D

Getting the Words Right, How to Rewrite Edit & Revise by Theodore A. Reese Cheney  (this one is dog-eared.)

On Writing by Stephen King

Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing by David Morrell

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

45 Master Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt

Getting into Character by Brandilyn Collins

Break into Fiction by Mary Buckham and Dianna Love

I could go on but then we’d need a two-part blog 😉

4. Who do you read for fun?

Great question. I’ll name one:  Daniel Silva is on my autobuy list. There are too many others and if I listed them, we would have to make this a three-part blog.

5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.

When Sister Francis Louise told me I did, followed up by Sister Virginia Mary who said the same thing. They told me I was a writer. They gave me assignments much like improvisation. They fueled my love of writing in the sixth and seventh grade. That love got buried for a few years, but never my love of storytelling. In the courtroom, (former court reporter), I hung on every word. I found out I was a great listener. Later, when I went to work editing and writing for newspapers and magazines, I was reinspired.

6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

Surround yourself with positive people. If you have a passion for writing, write. Read. Become familiar with your genre. Study craft. Know that the bestsellers, unless very lucky, didn’t get there overnight. Commit yourself to becoming the best writer you can be. Listen, but discern what’s useful for the vision of your story. Have fun. When it’s not fun anymore, you know what to do . . .

7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?

What I said above, and a huge stubborn streak helps. Belief in yourself and your vision for the story is monumental. Give your work to ten editors and agents, ten editors, and agents will give you ten ways to change it. A stubborn streak isn’t just helpful, it’s required.

8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?

My Aunt Stella’s Platillo. Coffee.

9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?

Oh gosh, another test. I love “An American President,” and the movie “Dave.” Wouldn’t it be great if politics really did have a happy ending?

10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?

A critique partner once said to me you’ll write a million words before you’re any good. I thought she was ridiculous. Now I think she’s the most brilliant woman I know. If you’re on 100,000 now, you better get to work.

Thanks very much for the opportunity, Kristi!


Donnell Ann Bell is an award winning author whose debut book, THE PAST CAME HUNTING, recently made it into the top 100 of Amazon and stayed in the top 20 for several days. At the time she was writing this blog, she was #1 in Romantic Suspense and #2 & 3 in Suspense for the same amount of time. She is proud to be published by Bell Bridge Books. To read a chapter not used in THE PAST CAME HUNTING, check out her website at www.donnellannbell.com


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30 Responses to Writer Interviews: Donnell Bell

  1. Donnell

    LOL, Kat, would have loved to have seen those figures. Great attitutude and I feel the same. My goal is to grow with each book I write and learn a lesson from each one. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. kat magendie

    This is how cray-cray I am – I pulled up the calculator on my computer and began calculating how many words I’ve written *laughing* – then I thought, “it doesn’t matter, kat – you’ll always be learning and growing,” which was her point, after all!

    Love the interview!

  3. Donnell

    Oh, gosh, didn’t check back in. How great to see you Rashda, Joanne & Lizzie. And Marsha, it was my pleasure. I’m so glad you’re into perserverance. I’ve heard, don’t you know, that that’s the difference between a professional and an amateur. Have a wonderful weekend, and thanks again, Kristi!

  4. Marsha R. West

    Love this interview, Kristi. Since we’re all about show not tell, I’ve got a concrete example of how super nice Donnell is. I mentioned on another blog I’d bought her book for my Nook before they had the cover on, and she immediately shot me a cover picture. So not necessary, but so like Donnell. Glad to have it.
    I’m reading T P C H for the second time right now and can’t wait for your next one to come out. It’s really great when good things happen to good people.
    The word count thing is very interesting, Donnell. I’m at 500,000 in completed books, but rewrites probably give me another three hundred thou. Yea! I’m getting close. Perseverance is definitely the name of the game.

  5. Lizzie

    Great interview, Donnell! Enjoyed it and you’re so right about surrounding yourself with ‘positivie’ people! Need that in all aspects of our life, but especially as writers!

  6. Joanne Guidoccio

    Excellent advice for writers at all stages of their journeys.


  7. Rashda/Mina Khan (@SpiceBites)

    Hi Donnell! What a great interview! And thanks for the great advice…love the way you deal with writers’ block! Wishing you many readers!

  8. Kristi

    Donnell, THANK YOU. It was my pleasure. I am having a lot of fun doing these interviews. I love reading about and learning from other writers! xoxo

  9. Donnell

    Kristi, thanks so much for having me with you today on your wonderful blog. Hope we hear big news on your fantastic writing very soon!

  10. Donnell

    Peg, thank you for stopping by. I’m sure there are smarter people, more analytical and logical who can remember every plot point in their book. I, however, am not one of them 😉 I just have to make darn sure I’m right along the way. Too confusing to go backwards in my opinion! Thanks for the vote of confidence

    Lynne, you know I have about five manuscripts in my drawer or abandoned computer. I’ve often thought of editing and getting them out there, but the idea of fixing what probably is mediocre writing doesn’t appeal to me. I call it Learning 101, 102 etc. The good news is a completed manuscript isn’t wasted time, it’s an invaluable learning experience. Thanks for being here!

    Elizabeth, for you to say I’m smart LOL. I’m framing this and showing to my kids. I might actually put, “So there :)” I appreciate your vote of confidence. Thank you!

    Theresa, too late, you’re the RN. What’s the medical term for a swelled head. 🙂 Don’t worry, family members bring me down to earth on a daily basis. Thanks for your lovely comments and friendship!

    Cyndi, yes, huge Daniel Silva fan. Love his international thrillers and the expertise he pours into every novel. I appreciate your vote of support. I’m trying to produce a good product. We all know that writers are notoriously insecure. However, when I find myself smiling as I type, that’s always a good sign… If I like it, ideally someone else might. Thanks, GF!!!

  11. Cynthia D'Alba (AKA ArkansasCyndi)

    You are right about Donnell being the nicest, most supportive person I know!

    Daniel Silva, huh? I love his work. I got my husband hooked on him too !

    Everybody should keep their eyes on Ms. DA Bell. She’s going places. 🙂

  12. Donnell

    HI, Barb, thank you! I hope if you get a chance to read The Past Came Hunting you’ll enjoy it! I know what you mean about that Jerrie Alexander. She’s pretty nice herself, and a pretty darned good writer.

    Kaki, Oh come off it! I have a lot more flaws than my lack of direction savvy. One of the best times of my life was holding Ms. Kaki Warner hostage when we got lost on the way to a writer’s conference. If I wrote comedy, I’d make that a project. Thanks very much for stopping by, Kaki! Ms. RITA winner in 2011, and RITA nominee in 2012 🙂

    Thanks, Colleen, thank you for commenting! While I adore Eyore the donkey in Winnie the Pooh, don’t want to spend a lot of time with him in the writing world. Part of what we do involves dreams. There will always be people who tell you you can’t. I love people who say go for it! 🙂

    Dale, oh my gosh, you put the pro in prolific. I imagine you’re well past the 1M point in both fiction and nonfiction, and still loving what you’re doing. You’re an inspiration. Thank you!!

  13. Cheryl Gorman

    You deserve all the accolades.

    You definitely have to believe in yourself and your abilities and also the belief that you can take your writing to the next level. I have hit that block recently and I’m working on shoring up my belief in Cher.

    Storytelling is probably the oldest profession next to…

    Have a great day,


  14. Theresa Rizzo

    Hi Kristi, Thanks for bringing Donnell out of her shell! Great interview. And I agree, Donnell is one of the nicest, most supportive people I’ve ever met AND she’s genuine! Shhh don’t tell her I said so, she’ll get a swelled head.

    I love the advice about surrounding yourself with positive people. The nature of this business involves a lot of negativity and competition and positive, nice people are such a wonderful breath of fresh air. Plus good karma begets good things, me thinks. The Past Came Hunting is a fabulous book and if you haven’t read it, you need to!

  15. Elizabeth Sinclair

    Great interview, Donnell. You hit on a lot of things that every writer struggles with such as writer’s block. So, aside from beign very tlaented, you’re also very smart. :0)

  16. Lynne Marshall

    Hi Donnell! Loved the interview and especially your advice to aspiring authors. Perfectly put. I also remember an Historical romance author saying a writer isn’t ready to be published until they’ve written a million words. I had five full length manuscripts written before I finally got the call, and there were several drafts/versions of those books, so maybe they’re both onto something?

    Looking forward to whatever your next book is.

  17. Peg Brantley

    I totally agree with you regarding plot problems. I find I need to work them out before I can move on.

    Great interview!

  18. Dale Mayer

    Hi Donnell,

    Love that quote about writing a million words. Been there and done that. I’m at a million in nonfiction, a million in adult fiction and halfway there in YA. LOL.

    And I agree – stubborness, conviction and vision are all mandatory.

    Lovely interview!

  19. Colleen Collins

    Really enjoyed the interview. Love your comment “surround yourself with positive people” — so true!

  20. Kaki

    First of all, Happy Anniversary, Donnell! 29 years married AND a successful writer–you’re definitely stubborn (but in a good way). And Kristi got everything right about you being such a supportive, kind person–except she forgot direction-challenged. A small flaw in an otherwise glowing persona! Congratulations on the HUGE success of TPCH. It’s a wonderful book, and you deserve every glowing review. Can’t wait for the next one.

  21. Barb Han

    It’s fun to get to know Donnell a little better through this interview. How exciting that your debut book is doing so well. I must buy and read it now. Much continued success for your career. And don’t let Jerrie spread rumors about you being nice. That one is trouble. 🙂

  22. Donnell

    Wow! my poor head is getting hard to carry 🙂 Thanks, Cher, for your nice comment. Sadly, yes, if “anything” sucks all the joy out of you, it’s time to try something else (in my opinion). That’s why stubbornness and belief in yourself can get you through some tough times. This business is not for the noncommitted, would you agree?

    Luckily, most of the people I know have a firm sense of who they are and really, really enjoy storytelling. Isn’t storytelling the oldest profession next to . . . :))

  23. Cheryl Gorman

    Donnell is definitely one of the nicest and most supportive people I’ve ever met. She is a jewel! Not to mention a great writer. I can’t wait for her next book.

    “When it’s not fun anymore, you know what to do . . .” Quit?


  24. Donnell

    Loralee, thank you so much! What an honor. I believe Bell Bridge plans to release book 2 in December of 2012. Nervous and excited. Thank you for stopping by!

    Lo: Yay!!! I should have known we’d never destroy you with a wrecking ball. It’s good to take advice if it makes sense, but I’ve seen fellow writers rewrite entire books based on an “uncontracted” comment. And still the agent or editor rejected it. Sometimes, you gotta trust your gut. I think a writer — after he’s closing in on those 1M words of course — knows if he’s on the right track. Here’s another thing I learned thanks to the wonderful Cindi Myers. Finish the book.

    There’s something amazing that happens when an author teaches herself to follow through. I know many people write on proposal, and if that works for them, great. But I like to know that I’m capable of taking that novel from beginning to end. Thank you for having a head like concrete and for stopping by!

  25. Loretta Wheeler

    I enjoyed this:) And, two pieces of advice I firmly agree with are be stubborn, and writing those million words. I think I would have fainted if I’d heard the million word thing when I first began, but don’t even blink now after reading that:):) There is nothing like “experience” is there? As for the stubborness, well, it’s settled in like concrete…so maybe I’m good for the long haul!:)
    Great interview:)

  26. Loralee Lillibridge

    Kristi, thanks for having one of my favorite writers as your guest today. Donnell is all you and Jerrie mentioned, and more. I was blown away by THE PAST CAME HUNTING, and now she’s an auto-buy for me. Great interview, ladies! C’mon, Donnell, I’m waiting for your next book!

  27. Donnell

    Thanks, Mona! Cool 🙂 So happy to offer a boost! Happy Wednesday! Thanks for stopping by!

  28. Donnell

    Ha! All this nice business is going to my head 😉 Kristi, first off, thank you for the invitation, and second, ladies and gentlemen, Kristi Belcamino is an author to watch. Seriously, while reading her entry in the Sandy, I was blown away by one her knowledge of an investigative reporter and the realism she put into it. I became a fan

    Anyway, Jerrie, I’m sure everyone has his or her own process, but I can’t imagine writing something and then having to unravel a series of tightly wound threads because I got one point wrong. Best to do the work as I come to it… wasn’t it Ben Franklin said. Never put off tomorrow what you can do today. I think he might have been talking about research! :)))

  29. Mona Risk

    Great interview, Donnel. Your advice is coming at the right time to give me a boost of energy. Wishing you continuous success.

  30. Jerrie Alexander

    Kristi! You’ve described Donnell really well. She’s one of the nicest and most supportive people around! The bonus is that her writing is also as great as she is.

    Donnell, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I can’t write around a scene where I’m stuck either. I have to back up and read what came before. See how I worked myself into that corner, fix it and then move on.

    I look forward to your next release.