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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Author Interview – Jessica Bell

6:30 AM Posted by James Noel , No comments

You are gaining more readership and recognition with your poetry and fiction. Has this been fuelled by your other writing-related activities? I believe that all these writing-related activities mean that I need to be online quite a lot. As a result, I’ve become visible, to quite some extent, through social media. And to be honest, I couldn’t live without it. 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.

The key to social networking, though, 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 certainly pays off.

How’s this for statistics? I’ve been blogging and engaging in social media, pretty much every single day, since March 2010. And only this year, three years later, have I started to see true results. It takes effort, persistence, stamina, but most of all love and passion. Because this ‘being visible’, (and let’s say it with a good old cliché, hey?) doesn’t happen overnight.

You founded and are co-editor of Vine Leaves Literary Journal. What inspired you to create this new journal? What types of literature do you publish and how do people submit to you? In late 2011, Dawn Ius and I founded Vine Leaves Literary Journal to offer the vignette, a forgotten literary form, the exposure and credit it deserves. The vignette is a snapshot in words, and differs from flash fiction or a short story in that its aim doesn’t lie within the traditional realms of structure or plot, instead it focuses on one element, mood, character, setting or object. The journal, published quarterly online, is a lush synergy of atmospheric prose, poetry, photography and illustrations, put together with an eye for aesthetics as well as literary merit. The annual print anthology showcases the very best pieces that appeared in the journal.

Submission guidelines are on the website.

You organized a big writing conference in Greece last summer where Chuck Sambuchino from Writers Digest was the instructor. What made you decide to organize this event? I have long dreamed of running a writer’s retreat on Ithaca. I’ve spent a lot of time on this little Greek island since the age of two, because my step father and his family are from there (my parents also live there now). With the risk of sounding clichéd, (ha!) this place really is a little piece of heaven. It remains unspoiled by the modern world. Even in the height of summer you can find a secluded beach or a rustic corner to contemplate your thoughts. On Ithaca you’ll discover the island’s rich culture and the reason why it holds such a special place in the hearts of those who have visited its shores.

The Homeric Writers’ Retreat & Workshop invites participants to their very own private odyssey on the island of Ithaca—a retreat about riveting one’s writing through an immersive and intimate Homeric journey. Our instructors in 2014 are, Katharine Sands, a literary agent with the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency, and Beatriz Badikian-Gartler, a popular performer in the Chicago area who often lectures on women’s issues, art, and literature. In 2000 Badikian was selected as one of the One-Hundred Women Who Make a Difference in Chicago by Today’s Woman magazine.

To explore more of Ithaca online, please visit: www.ithacagreece.com.

To learn more about the writing retreat, please visit: www.hwrw.blogspot.com.

How are you able to be so productive as a writer, a musician, editor, and conference organizer, as well as having a good social media platform, while working full-time? I’m not usually a person who utilizes lists and schedules. But I certainly have been forced to create them due to all of the projects I juggle. It’s difficult. There’s no denying that fact. But it’s also fun! I enjoy every minute of it.

Basically I do everything in scheduled, short bursts. I get up early to make sure I have one hour to write and one hour to do something else from my list (such as Vine Leaves or retreat organization). I pick and choose depending on priority. During my lunch break, I blog, and spend about half an hour to an hour (depends on how long I can take from work) on social media. After work, I walk the dog, make dinner, maybe go to yoga (I do neglect my laundry, though. Too often). Once that’s done, I’ll spend another hour or so doing something else from my list (if I’m up-to-date on all my tasks, I’ll try and do something creative like writing, or music again). Then I’ll relax in front of the TV, or do something else away from the computer before I go to bed. Then in bed, I’ll read a chapter or two of whatever book I’m reading. Sometimes that may even include critiquing a friend’s manuscript. Reading to me is relaxing and not a chore, so I really don’t feel like that is tackling any sort of task.

The most important thing? Recognizing when I’m too tired and need to take a few days off. If I don’t give myself decent breaks where I don’t do anything, then I very quickly burn out and fall behind.

What are you working on now? Right now I’m working on my 4th novel! Working title: White Lady. It’s set in Melbourne, Australia, and is about a young woman named Mia who is fighting fat with white ladies. (Yep, I’ll leave that to your own interpretation for now! Hint: don’t think literally.)

I’m also putting together an anthology of personal essays from Indie authors called Indiestructible: Inspiring Stories from the Publishing Jungle, which is slated for release September 16. A few contributing authors you may know are Melissa Foster, Susan Kaye Quinn, and Leigh Talbert Moore. This is the best of the indie tradition of experienced authors paying forward what they’ve learned, offering information to help others on their indie journey. All profits will be donated to BuildOn.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? “It was the kind of loneliness that made clocks seem slow and loud and made voices sound like voices across water.”  From Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

Can you hear the loud, slow clock ticking? Its echo crossing a flat lake trying to reach the disappearing voices of loved ones you wished existed? The still and stifling warm air at dusk? Your heartbeat in your ears? The emptiness in your chest? The melancholia you can’t seem to place? An amazing comparison to loneliness, don’t you think? The clocks, the voices, the loudness of heartache. *sigh* …

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 is your favorite color? Green

What is your favorite food? Beetroot and yoghurt salad.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? Monemvasia.

When and why did you begin writing? I started writing poetry first. I must have been about eleven, sitting on a rock by the sea in a little place in Greece called Monemvasia. I was so inspired by my surroundings that I needed a way to express it. Not long after, I started writing songs. My mother had decided to sell her twelve-string acoustic guitar to get a bit of extra cash. I saw it sitting by the front door. I think someone was coming over to take a look at it. I remember opening the case and thinking that it just looked so beautiful, and why would Mum want to get rid of it? I think she was in the music room at the time and I interrupted one of her recording sessions to ask about the guitar. When she told me she was selling it, I asked her whether I could have it. She said that I could if I learnt to play. From that day I had that guitar in my hands every single day until I moved to Greece in 2002. I taught myself how to play. The first song I ever wrote was played on one string and sung in a very high-pitched awful voice. I hope that cassette never gets dug up!

Have you been told you use too many adverbs and clichés in your writing? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!

In Adverbs & Clichés in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Subversions of Adverbs & Clichés into Gourmet Imagery, you will find thirty-four examples of prose which clearly demonstrate how to turn those pesky adverbs and clichés into vivid and unique imagery. Extra writing prompts are also provided at the end of the book.

Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a user-friendly and simple solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. With the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page and Indexes you can toggle backward and forward from different examples with ease. Use your e-reader’s highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes as you read, and/or record your story ideas, anywhere, anytime.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – NonFiction

Rating – G

More details about the author

Connect with Jessica Bell on FacebookTwitter

Website http://www.jessicabellauthor.com/

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