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Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Review: String Bridge

If you don't know Jessica Bell from her blog, I suggest you check it out, or at least read my interview with her from a couple of weeks ago. She's a great person, a talented musician, and a fabulous writer. So when I got a notice saying I could sign up for her blog tour and get an ARC of her new book, String Bridge, I jumped at the opportunity.

The Blurb (from Goodreads): Greek cuisine, smog and domestic drudgery was not the life Australian musician, Melody, was expecting when she married a Greek music promoter and settled in Athens, Greece. Keen to play in her new shoes, though, Melody trades her guitar for a 'proper' career and her music for motherhood. That is, until she can bear it no longer and plots a return to the stage--and the person she used to be. However, the obstacles she faces along the way are nothing compared to the tragedy that awaits.


Melody's struggle follows a difficult trajectory, one that the reader struggles through with her. At almost every step, I found myself feeling the same emotions felt by Melody, wanting her to do the things she wanted to do--even when they weren't the best choices for herself or her family. I identified with Melody throughout the entire novel, fighting and crying and yelling when she did.

I love the way that Bell develops her characters. Each of them felt like a real person that could have stepped out of my own life and settled into print. I especially loved the way Melody's daughter, Tessa, came to life, as I think it's sometimes difficult to capture the wonder and excitement of children. In this case, I never once doubted the authenticity of the little girl's voice.

Another aspect of the book that I loved was reading Melody's songs. It's wonderful that Bell is such a talented artist, in that she both writes beautiful prose and beautiful music. A soundtrack to the book is also available (from iTunes, Amazon.com, Amazon UK).

String Bridge is a wonderful, heart-wrenching read. Anyone who enjoys a strong, character-driven novel should not hesitate to pick this up.

Bottom line: Read this book!


Also available from Barnes and Noble.

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.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Review of Exiled

I'm super excited today to tell you about RaShelle Workman's new novel, Exiled, as a part of the Dark C.A.R.MA Blog Tour.

The Blurb (from Goodreads): Stubborn, sixteen-year-old Princess Venus of Kelari wants one thing, to become a kelvieri, that is, until someone exiles her to Earth, kills her irrihunter and takes her family.

Now she wants revenge.

First she’s got to get home. But before she can return to Kelari, the Gods have commanded her to help an arrogant boy named Michael find his soul mate. Only she doesn't know the first thing about love.

Rather quickly, her inexperience with human emotion is obscured by other matters—alien-controlled psychotic teens that are out to kill her, and a government group that is set on capturing and dissecting her.

Worst of all, Venus will suffer a painful death-by-poisoning, thanks to Earth’s atmosphere, if she remains on the planet longer than one week. Still, Venus is a Princess and she's got a plan. Surely, with her help, Michael will fall in love with a human.

But time is running out and Michael is falling for the wrong girl—her.


What a fantastic read! For days, I didn't want to put it down (though life got in the way). I found myself mentally enveloped in Venus's world, thinking about it whenever I couldn't be reading. Her journey and struggle capture the imagination long after the story ends.

Workman develops a fascinating world of upheaval and betrayal that force Venus into exile on Earth. Workman's prose donates extra flare to the story, weaving together vivid images of setting and characters. And her exceptional storytelling seizes the reader and doesn't let go.

My only complaint about this book is that it's a part of a series, and I have to wait to find out what happens next. I'm not exactly known for my patience.

Recommendation: Read this. It would make a great holiday gift for anyone who loves a good fantasy novel.




RASHELLE WORKMAN lives in Utah with her husband, three children and three dogs. When she gets a quiet moment alone, she enjoys reading about faraway places. And, in case you were wondering, yes, she does believe there is other life out in the Universe.

Friday, November 11, 2011

#StringBridge 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:

jessica.carmen.bell(at)gmail(dot)com

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!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Interview with Jessica Bell

It's my extreme pleasure to have Jessica Bell, author of the new novel String Bridge, to my blog today. First, a brief introduction:

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 traveling 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.

So, without further ado, please welcome Jessica!

Rosie: First, congratulations on your novel coming out. I really enjoyed it.
Jessica: Thank you! I’m so glad.

Rosie: Can you tell us a little how this novel came to be? What was your inspiration in bringing this story to life?

Jessica: Even though music doesn’t define me as much as writing does, it is still a big part of my life. And the idea for the book came about when I was thinking about a time in my life when music was all I ever wanted to breathe. Even though my priorities had changed, I still wanted to write about the power music has over someone who is so passionate about it. But I think music could be replaced by any sort of passion in String Bridge, because basically the story is about needing something more than you need yourself.

Rosie: How long did it take you to write String Bridge? From inception to its current state?

Jessica: I spent about five years writing it because it went through about seven different revisions. Although it wasn’t the first thing I’d ever written. I was still learning along the way. And you know what? It still doesn’t feel finished to me. Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas on how to improve it. That can be a bit annoying actually, because now it’s impossible. Ha!

Rosie: Like Melody, the novel’s MC, you yourself are an Australian ex-pat living in Greece. What brought you to Greece in the first place?

Jessica: My step father is Greek, so I’ve pretty much grown up with the best of both worlds (Australia and Greece). I’ve been coming here since I was two years old.

Rosie: Tessa, Melody’s daughter, is so well written. As you wrote this, you seemed to really understand and connect with the minds of young children. How much time do you spend with children under the age of five?

Jessica: I used to teach 6-7 year-old kids in an English school here in Athens, but overall my time spent with them was not more than 45 minutes at a time, a couple of nights per week, over the time frame of about a year.

I remember quite a lot about being that young, so I think my own experiences as a four-year-old, mixed in with a few instincts helped me to create Tessa. For those who don’t know, I don’t have kids, so I sometimes doubted whether Tessa was going to be a successful character. I’m so happy she is!

Rosie: Throughout the novel, Melody struggles to balance her love life, her parenting, her music, and her career. As a writer and a musician, you must also have similar struggles in your life. How do you find balance between all the different facets of your life?

Jessica: I don’t think I struggle too much in comparison to those that have families. Sometimes I complain that there isn’t time to do everything I want to do, but I think that’s because I want too much. So it’s not a matter of balance for me, it’s a matter of slowing down and giving myself some quiet time where I don’t have to do anything. I find I really need those moments to revive the stamina and keep up with my day job and my novels, poetry, and song writing, and of course, spending quality time with my partner.

Rosie: There are several songs written within the text of the novel. Do these songs appear on the album that you recorded to go with String Bridge? Are there other songs on the album? How long did it take you to write the songs to accompany this novel?

Jessica: Yes, the five songs that appear in the book are on the album, plus four extras that I wrote for it to become a full-length CD, rather than just an EP. It took me about a month to write them all. Mind you, I didn’t work on it every day and some songs took me days to perfect and others about ten minutes. It’s up and down like that with song writing.

(an interjection: You can access the soundtrack through iTunes, Amazon, or Amazon UK)

Rosie: Can you tell us a little about your experience working with Lucky Press? And how did you come to connect with them?

Jessica: This is a whole other blog post. Luckily, for those who are interested, I’ve already written one about it! Just go to: http://thealliterativeallomorph.blogspot.com/2010/11/why-i-believe-small-presses-are.html

Rosie:
I saw on Facebook a few weeks ago that you’re considering forming a band. How would you describe the music that you play?

Jessica: Visceral atmospheric grunge I think is the best way I can put it.

Rosie: What kind of upcoming projects do you have planned? Either musical or literary?

Jessica: My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, is about a twenty-five year old Australian archaeology undergraduate named Kit, who doesn’t like to get her hands dirty. She feels misplaced and comes to the conclusion that meeting her father, Roger, will make some sense of her life, despite him being worth the rotting orange rind in her backyard. Well, at least that’s what she’s been conditioned to think of him by the three women in her life: Ailish, her mother—an English literature professor who communicates in quotes and clich├ęs, and who still hasn’t learned how to express emotion on her face; Ivy, her half-sister—a depressed professional archaeologist, with a slight case of nymphomania, who fled to America after a divorce to become a waitress; and Eleanor, Ivy’s mother—a pediatric surgeon who embellishes her feelings with medical jargon, and who named her daughter after intravenous. Against all three women’s wishes, Kit decides to find Roger, but in doing so, discovers he is not the only rotten fruit.

My third novel, Muted, is set in Arles, France, in a totalitarian society where it is illegal to wear clothes. In some streets, it's also illegal to sing without accompanying instruments. Concetta, a famous Italian a cappella singer from before “the change,” breaks these laws. As punishment, her vocal chords are brutally slashed and her eardrums surgically perforated. Unable to cope with living a life without song, she resolves to drown herself in the river, clothed in a dress stained with performance memories from her hometown, Milan. But Concetta's suicide attempt is cut short as someone grabs her by the throat and pulls her to the surface. Is it the busking harpist, who encouraged her to feel music through vibration, acting as saviour? Or a street warden on the prowl for another offender to detain? From this moment, the reader will discover how Concetta came to be in this position, and what will happen to her after the suicide attempt.

Muted will explore a variety of themes such as overcoming loss, coping with mental illness and disability, dealing with discrimination, loss of freedom, inhibited self-expression, motivation to succeed, escaping oppression, expression through art and music, self-sacrifice, channelling the thoughts of the deceased, and challenging moral views and values.

Hopefully I’ll create a soundtrack for this one too.

Rosie: And one random question: If you were a bumblebee, what kind of flower would you most like to hang out in and why?

Jessica: Um … I don’t like flowers much because I get really bad hay fever … Aaachooo!!! You know of any flowers with an air filter installed?

Thanks, Jessica!

If you're interested in Jessica's novel, be sure to stop by on Nov. 18 for my review of novel, String Bridge. Would you like a teaser? Check out her book trailer.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

#NaNoWriMo KickOff and Update

You know what today is :) The first of November is a celebrated holiday in my house. Er, well, it is for me.

Especially since the month of October ate me up. Work's a little insane, meaning I've had to bring projects home over the weekend and work on things in the evenings, too. I work for a small, academic publisher, and we're gearing up for a conference that starts in about 2 weeks. So now's the last push to get these projects finished and printed before the conference. Which means overtime. Which means more money, sure, but it also means less writing time.

My hope is to make it through to about the 15th or so, then attempt to reenter the blogging community. I think it's possible.

In the meantime, I'll be NaNo-ing again. Starting at about the time this blog post goes up. If you'd like to add me as your buddy on the NaNo site, my user ID is Rosie-C.

Good luck with NaNo this year, everyone. I'll see you soon :)
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