The Birth of Bella Dean Joyner
I've worked on my first novel long before this blog was ever thought into existence. I toiled over its pages, gave up, read it and thought it wasn't half bad, read it and thought it was awful. I lost faith in myself, in the process, screamed, and tried again. I had to remind myself daily of every time anyone had ever complimented me on my writing, told me I had a "gift". I gave myself more pep talks, more condolences, more criticisms than should be humanely possible.
But I did it.
May 6th, 2020 marks the day that Bella Dean Joyner, author, was born.
And I cried.
While I am sitting here, refreshing the status page of my novel, waiting for the word "PUBLISHED" to appear and for my work to be available worldwide, I thought what better way to spend this time than by reflecting on my journey.
Why a pen name? I am not all encompassing. If you break me apart, I am merely pieces of people and past experiences that formed to create a whole. I chose the three most influential memories across my life span and joined them to make one author, one entity, to present to the world.
Why self-publishing instead of traditional publishing? Easy. Time! I've waited my entire life for this. I didn't immediately start pursuing this right out of high school. I'm a wife, a mother, a student trying to finish her Bachelors so that I can start on my Masters. I homeschool, live in a foreign country for the time being, and my life is entirely subjected to what the military deems is necessary for my family. I didn't feel like I had the time to wait years for hundreds of rejections until that one publishing house, that one agent, said yes. This way, what gets published in my book, what I put out into the world as "me", I have complete control over. I can build a fan base of loyal readers that enjoy my writing, raw and in the way that I intended it to be read, not how an editor thought it would sell more copies. Yes, I have read that you have a greater income at first self-publishing. But any real writer will tell you that it isn't mainly about profit. It's about the characters in your head and their incessant chatter. Getting them on paper is the only way to get them to stop! Whether I become successful or not, I will probably write and continue to publish my works until the day that I die. If at some point I am approached by an agent or a publishing house, I'll cross that bridge when the time comes.
Who is Chris Elam? Chris Elam is a photographer that I went to high school with. I recently came across his work and was really taken by what I saw. The photographs he produces really capture the presence of the scene, the object. The underlying current of darkness and mystery really spoke to me. Once you read The Still you'll see why this particular cover art was perfect for the story. Funny enough, it's actually a picture of his back yard! If anyone would like to use his work, please feel free to contact me and I'll put you in touch with him until he gets me the link to his actual website and I can update this blog with it.
Why this title? This book is about the unhinging of one man's psyche, how he is wrapped up and influenced by evil around him and how that evil can then spread to those around him using him as a conduit. Yet throughout the chaos and the madness, there are still moments of "still", the calm before the storm, that pause during a horror movie where tension is building and you just know that the monster is going to come out from under the bed but you jump anyway. That moment, right before where your breath catches in your throat, where your heart stops it's thundering gallop in your chest, where the anticipation builds like a steady uncomfortable pressure all throughout your body, that is the still.
Where do you get the ideas for your books? Quite honestly, my dreams. I have very vivid dreams and am lucky enough to be able to remember them, as long as I write them down shortly after waking up. Other than that, I'll have a random thought pop into my head, Wouldn't this be weird if...., or a full character form in my head that I then have to build a story around. Sometimes I find inspiration in objects. The book I am contemplating writing as my second novel actually originated from a chair I saw in South Korea!
What is next for Bella Dean Joyner? More writing! I have almost seven more book ideas bouncing around in my head and am constantly dreaming up more. I fully intend on making this my life's work, my legacy. I'd love to say that I will crank out a new book every three months, but realistically we all know that I'm horrible with deadlines. The writing process is delicate. It's a give and take. I give all of me and the characters in the novel take it and run in an entirely different direction. Another book or two will definitely be released within the next year though, I promise!
If at any time you have questions that you'd like for me to answer, please feel free to email me. I think that it would be great to have a blog post answering questions about my book after you have had a chance to read it. It would be wonderful to hear from you all!
As always, thank you so incredibly much for your support throughout this journey. I am truly blessed. Look forward to more updates once The Still becomes available for purchase!