Monday, February 8, 2021

Neighbors and Critique Partners

By: Donnell Ann Bell

Hello! I am the newest member of the Stiletto Gang, and as a mystery writer and a woman who loves shoes, I will do my best to fit in. I wrote an article for Stiletto Gang way back in the day https://donnellannbell.com/characters/  Call me biased, but I still think it’s relevant.

Much has changed since that article, however. I’ve written more books, I’ve relocated from Colorado Springs, Colorado to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and with the exception of COVID-19, so far so good. This city, thirty minutes from El Paso, Texas, has an amazing culture and some of the kindest people I’ve ever met. Imagine (pre-COVID by the way), walking into the grocery store when somebody sneezes, and from every surrounding aisle, people shout, “God bless you.” Also, while I may miss Colorado’s green, you can’t beat New Mexico’s sunsets.


Land of Enchantment's Sunset 

One of the hardest things about leaving Colorado after thirty-plus years was saying goodbye to lifetime friendships. Las Cruces has a way to go to compete, but my next-door neighbor is working hard at making the list. She arrived on my doorstep with cookies (my downfall), and our friendship quickly became reciprocal. Like me, she has a creative side. Where I write, she paints.  


Tuscany Village by Carol Oxford 


One of the things I love about my new home is my front courtyard. But it was kind of sparse, so I went to work decorating. I found this adorable chihuahua and put him just out my front door. Wouldn't you know it, though, my artistic neighbor pointed out something was missing.


Every chihuahua needs ...
... a friend

One person I didn’t have to say goodbye to although we live 1,882 miles apart is my critique partner, Lois Winston, who I'd met online, then in person on a transport van that delivered us to a conference. We’ve exchanged chapters and brainstormed for years. We walk while we talk (because we’re notorious multitaskers), and I can’t tell you how many “aha” moments we’ve had via our treks.

I’m also close to Stiletto Gang member Cathy Perkins. She’s a great conference roommate, by the way (Portland as I recall), and she and her husband have visited Las Cruces. She’s a major talent, and one day I hope to see her gorgeous home in the Pacific Northwest. 

Donnell, Cathy & spouses

That’s basically my introductory blog in a multi-cracked nutshell. Looking forward to sharing thoughts, ideas and hopefully a little laughter.

 Do you have a neighbor you love and/or a valued critique partner? In my opinion, they make the world a whole lot brighter.


About  Donnell's latest book: A cold case heats up when a 9-1-1 call puts police at a Denver murder scene pointing investigators to the abduction of a Colorado teenager fourteen years before. The connection? A calling carda single black pearl—is found on the newest victim. Is the murder a copycat? Or has a twisted serial killer, thought dead or in prison, returned to kill again?

The hunt for a multi-state killer is on and brings together an unexpected team: a Denver Major Crimes police lieutenant; an FBI special agent who investigated the previous murders, a rookie FBI agent with a specialty in psychology; and the only living victim of the Black Pearl Killer is now a cop.

For Special Agent Brian DiPietro, the case is an opportunity to find answers. For Officer Allison Shannon, the case will force her to face down the town that blamed her for surviving when another did not. And for both DiPietro and Shannon, it’s a chance to find closure to questions that have tormented them both for years.


Bio: Donnell Ann Bell gave up her nonfiction career in newspapers and magazines because she was obsessed with the idea she could write a mystery or thriller. An award-winning author, including the 2020 Colorado Book Award finalist for her latest release Black Pearl, A Cold Case Suspense, Donnell’s other books have included Buried Agendas, Betrayed, Deadly Recall and The Past Came Hunting, all of which have been Amazon bestsellers. Currently she’s writing Book Two of her Cold Case series. For further information or buy information, please go to www.donnellannbell.com  

 

 

 

14 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, Lois, and happy Book Birthday on Mom Squad!

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  2. Welcome, Donnell. I'm a 6-month Gang veteran. Like you, I came to writing books after a career in magazines. And I'm missing my first go-to critique partner, who moved to Korea a year ago. Though we can still commune online, the time difference is daunting, and email cannot replace our regular face-to-face discussions. Looking forward to seeing more from you here. Best of Luck!

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    1. Oh, Gay, I would be lost. I'm so sorry. There is nothing more valuable to me than picking up the phone. Email doesn't cut it. Looking forward to learning more about your books!

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  3. Welcome to the Stiletto Gang. I'm a native of Colorado but also love my ancestral land of New Mexico. I have a comadre that lives in Las Cruces and I've visited once and plan to return after the global pandemic. My critique partner lives in California but we workshop via zoom, email, phone calls, and texts. I'd be lost without her and when we visit in person, all hell breaks loose.

    Looking forward to reading your posts and books. Stay safe.

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    1. Way to go, Juliana! There's nothing better than bouncing ideas off a critique partner and friend. It may be the way my brain is wired too. Talking about it cements the idea in this foggy brain of mine. How lovely. If you come to Las Cruces (after the Pandemic of course), we'll have to meet up! Thanks for the welcome.

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  4. Welcome. Technically, I don't have a critique partner. I write down the rabbit hole and hope editors and beta reader friends can pull me out of it.

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    1. You exude confidence, Debra. Do you outline? I do a brief outline, but I love the surprises along the way.

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  5. Welcome, Donnell! Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself plus your beautiful photos. I look forward to getting to know you better. Critique partner? I wish I were organized enough - I'm always writing with my hair on fire, trying to make a deadline.

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    1. Shari, thank you for the lovely welcome. That's the beauty of what we do. What works for some doesn't necessarily work for others. Good luck with those deadlines! Looking forward to learning about your books.

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  6. Welcome Donnell!
    I'm looking forward to a post-covid world where we can travel and go to conferences. In the meanwhile, we'll just have to keep the random phone calls going. :)

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  7. Welcome, Donnell. Las Cruces is a fun place and I also love the sunsets of New Mexico. I'm originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, so your little Chihuahua is very appealing! My husband and I spend the summers in northern New Mexico and I love it there, though home is Woodlands, Texas.

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  8. Kathryn, thanks for stopping by. It's so cool to learn of someone who understands my fascination with this are. Understand home being Woodlands, I love Colorado. But I am definitely enchanted by New Mexico!

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