I’m “taking over” Jessica Bell’s blog today, talking about what it’s like to be the Underdog. Please hop on over and share your thoughts!
Reading To Penguins reviewed Shifting Pride yesterday. I hope you check it out! 🙂
I’m thrilled to have Author Jessica Bell here today. She discusses her new book, The Book, and its links to mental health.
Take it away, Jessica!
When I was a child, my mother, Erika Bach, and my father, Anthony Bell, wrote in an illustrated journal by Michael Green called A Hobbit’s Travels: being the hitherto unpublished Travel Sketches of Sam Gamgee. This journal is the inspiration for The Book.
Since reading this journal, and realizing how different my parents sounded in the entries compared to how I know them in real life, I often thought about writing a book which explored how differently parents and children perceive and respond to identical situations. Now, I know this concept isn’t ‘new’. But I certainly felt I had a unique bent to add to it. I hoped by using journal entries and therapy transcripts, in conjunction with a 1st person point of view of a five-year-old girl, it would make the story a little more intimate, make readers feel like they are peeking into the lives of real people. This way, it’s like you are reading memoir rather than fiction.
Set in the late 1970s, early 1980s, Bonnie, the five-year-old protagonist, was born prematurely. I hint, through the journal entries of her mother, Penny, and the transcripts of Bonnie and Dr. Wright, her therapist, that due to her premature birth, she has trouble learning and significant behavioral problems. However, I try to juxtapose this through Bonnie’s point of view. The reader is able to see how differently she perceives things in contrast to the adults in her life.
Bonnie is very smart. And she understands so much more than she chooses to let the adults see. So, at what point does one draw the line when it comes to defining poor mental health? Can anyone really see what is going on in a child’s mind? What right does one have to assume a prematurely born child is going to have difficulty learning or mental instabilities? What signs does one have to show to prove they are having difficulties at all? The Book raises these sorts of questions, hopefully offering readers a lot of food for thought.
It took me fourteen years before I could spell father properly. No matter how many times I was told, I still spelled father as farther and friend as freind and finally as finnaly. To this day I still have to look up the different conjugations of lie. For some reason they just don’t stick.
What’s that say about me? Could that mean I am dyslexic? Have a learning disability? Perhaps I’m just being selective with what I feel is important to store in my long-term memory. I’m sure there are lots of reasons one could come up with. But when it comes to mental health, I don’t believe there are any definitive answers. This is one of the themes I explore in The Book.
What ‘signs’ do you think define stable mental health? And is there really such a thing?
You bring up a lot of excellent points, here, Jessica. I really think you’ve captured how complicated human beings are and how people (children and adults alike) cope with challenges.
* * * * * * * * * *
Here’s my review of The Book:
I’m a paranormal girl by heart, so I haven’t read a lot of contemporary or literary fiction. Despite this, I’ve followed Jessica Bell’s work with interest. She creates such vivid, REAL characters and stories that a reader gets pulled in, no matter what. AND her stories linger long after the last page.
It was the trailer for The Book that really made me head to Amazon to download an ecopy. And I didn’t regret it.
Watch this and see if you can resist it. Bet ya can’t. 😉
The Book is a compilation of journal entries, therapy sessions, and the POV of a young child. It’s gripping, strikingly emotional, brutally honest, and breathtakingly genuine. I read it in one sitting and am still thinking about it. Its multilayered construction begs for multiple readings, pondering, and mulling over.
I’ve only ever read a handful of books like that. Well done, Jessica! I look forward to reading more of your work.
Just wanted to leave youse guys with a little Shifting Pride info. Reading To Penguins is reviewing Shifting Pride TOMORROW. 🙂
Show and Tell.
Two of the biggest buzz words in writing. I still don’t get it, LOL!
Well, if you’re like me, then you’ll want to check out Author Jessica Bell’s new writer’s guide, Show and Tell In A Nutshell. I know I will!
Here’s any and all info you’ll need to help you decide if this is a book for you:
|Click to add me to Goodreads!|
Have you been told there’s a little too much telling in your novel? Want to remedy it? Then this is the book for you!
In Show & Tell in a Nutshell: Demonstrated Transitions from Telling to Showing you will find sixteen real scenes depicting a variety of situations, emotions, and characteristics which clearly demonstrate how to turn telling into showing. Dispersed throughout, and at the back of the book, are blank pages to take notes as you read. A few short writing prompts are also provided.
Not only is this pocket guide an excellent learning tool for aspiring writers, but it is a light, convenient, and easy solution to honing your craft no matter how broad your writing experience. Keep it in the side pocket of your school bag, throw it in your purse, or even carry it around in the pocket of your jeans or jacket, to enhance your skills, keep notes, and jot down story ideas, anywhere, anytime.
If you purchase the e-book, you will be armed with the convenient hyper-linked Contents Page, where you can toggle backward and forward from different scenes with ease. Use your e-reader’s highlighting and note-taking tools to keep notes instead.
The author, Jessica Bell, also welcomes questions via email, concerning the content of this book, or about showing vs. telling in general, at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Jessica Bell addresses one of the most common yet elusive pieces of writing advice—show, don’t tell—in a uniquely user-friendly and effective way: by example. By studying the sixteen scenes she converts from “telling” into “showing,” not only will you clearly understand the difference; you will be inspired by her vivid imagery and dialogue to pour through your drafts and do the same.” ~Jenny Baranick, College English Teacher, Author of Missed Periods and Other Grammar Scares
“A practical, no-nonsense resource that will help new and experienced writers alike deal with that dreaded piece of advice: show, don’t tell. I wish Bell’s book had been around when I started writing!” ~Talli Roland, bestselling author
About the Author:
The Australian-native contemporary fiction author and poet, Jessica Bell, also makes a living as an editor and writer for global ELT publishers (English Language Teaching), such as Pearson Education, HarperCollins, Macmillan Education, Education First and Cengage Learning.
Award-winning author Jessica Bell (blogger of The Alliterative Allomorph, poet extraordinaire, talented musician, and gifted writer) is hosting a writer’s retreat in ITHICA, GREECE this August. Chuck Sambuchino of Writer’s Digest has signed on to be there too!
Here’s the link: The Homeric Writers’ Retreat and Workshop
Man, oh man, if I didn’t have a hundred million things going on, I’d totally sign up!!!
That is my Writer Wish.
How about you? What does your writer self wish for?
Check out Lydia’s response for the Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog’s topic of Inspiration!
I’m so excited to be a part of Jessica’s Release Party! Congrats, Jessica, on the release of your novel, STRING BRIDGE!!!!!
Today is THE day to help Jessica Bell’s debut, STRING BRIDGE, hit
the bestseller list on Amazon, and receive the all-original soundtrack, Melody Hill: On the Other Side, written 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:
then email you a link to download the album at no extra cost!
To listen to samples of the soundtrack, visit iTunes.
“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
String Bridge: http://www.stringbridge.com/
I’m so honored to present to you my thoughts of author, blogger, and musician, Jessica Bell’s poetry collection, Twisted Velvet Chains!
I “met” Jessica through her blog, The Alliterative Allomorph. I’m continually blown away (in a good way) by her insights, humor, and talent for writing. (And musicians are just cool, right?) 😉
Anyway, while reading Twisted Velvet Chains, I was struck by the picture Jessica paints with words and phrases. In a lot of ways, I could feel myself falling into the emotions, thoughts, and turmoil of the poems. Watching the progression from childhood to adulthood evoked anger, tension, a sense of injustice, and sorrow in me.
I don’t write this to turn you away from the book, not at all! I point it out because very few things strike me so strongly. When it happens, I recognize it for what it is: a sign of incredible talent, bravery in the face of vulnerability (it takes a hell of a lot of guts to expose yourself on paper for all to see), and the mind of someone who’s been through a lot, but continues to strive and survive.
Here’s a blurb I found on Jessica’s webpage (really, it’s so accurate, that I can’t say it better myself!):
Twisted Velvet Chains is a collection of poems which follows the experiences of one woman growing up with a bipolar, drug addicted, gothic musician mother. Each poem represents specific moments of their life that embrace vivid rich imagery, and illustrate the turmoil of emotions both experience while together. The collection is divided into four parts that flow one into the other from childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and post-death.
Thanks, Jessica for sharing this work. Definitely worth the read!
It’s Wednesday, so don’t forget to check out Sarah’s response to Deb’s question about the muse, personified!