Writing to the Market by Donnell Ann Bell

“Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it.” ~ Rick Warren

Hi, Cindy: Appreciate the opportunity to spend time with you and your readers.

Deadly_Recall_-_screen_2In 2001, after working for The Colorado Springs Business Journal and Pikes Peak Parent newsmagazine, I decided to try my hand at fiction. After all, I loved to write; what’s more I loved to read. I read mostly mainstream suspense and mysteries at that time. Then I picked up authors like Sandra Brown, Suzanne Brockmann and Linda Howard, and I was hooked. After reading the romantic conflicts they put in their books, though I still enjoyed mainstream fiction, I discovered what I’d been missing. Without the emotional turmoil that came with a love interest, the story left me a little flat.

I also discovered that I am a romantic suspense author.

I proceeded to write and hone my craft. (Don’t look under my bed, it’s not pretty.) I started finaling in contests and winning a few as well. And then I started attending writing conferences and observed the darnedest thing. There were editors and agents “telling” attendees what to write. After I had discovered who I was and what I write. Stunned, I sat back and watched many writers around me scribbling down every word of what those publishing professionals wanted to see in their in-boxes.

Paranormals are popular, they would say. Historicals are in vogue, particularly Regency. BUT… don’t give us medieval and certainly not anything outside of England. Erotic is HOT, give us erotic. Young Adult, the market gurus are demanding YA. After these writing conferences, the market was flooded with these popular storylines.
Good for the authors who launched their careers this way. Ideally, they jotted down those editors’ wishes because they already had a story in mind they were passionate about.

I, on the other hand, never took notes. Whether the market craved it or not, romantic suspense made me happy. And if I wasn’t enjoying myself or loving the characters that appeared on the page, I suspected my readers could see right through me. Further, if someone had to assign me a subgenre to write, I might as well go back to my newspaper job, where it was my job to take assignments.

As a former contest coordinator I saw excellent stories not being recognized; that because their books didn’t fit into a specific marketing mold (or get this shocker, there were too many like it), many authors were shelving their work and moving on to something else. Sadly, some quit writing altogether.

Thank goodness for the explosion in the publishing industry. At last readers have myriad choices. I’m passionate about the stories I write and get a huge emotional roller coaster high in creating them.

Today, I’m giving away my newest release, DEADLY RECALL in a drawing for readers who comment. I promise you, this book was told from the heart. So, are you enjoying having more exposure to new authors or are you comfortable sticking with the tried and true?

Thanks for allowing me to visit today, Cindy!


A terrifying memory is locked deep inside her. A killer wants to keep it that way.
Nine-year-old Eden Moran thought she was saying good-bye to her mentor that fateful day in St. Patrick’s. She had no idea she’d witness the nun’s demise, or that her child’s mind would compensate. Now seventeen years later, Albuquerque cops have unearthed human remains, and the evidence points to Eden as being the key to solving Sister Beatrice’s murder. When a hellbent cop applies pressure, Eden stands firm. She doesn’t remember the woman. Unfortunately for Eden, Sister Beatrice’s killer will do whatever it takes to keep it that way.

Excerpt from Deadly Recall

At the path to her loft, Eden froze. A pair of jean-clad legs blocked the entrance. Sidestepping the walkway into the rock, she fumbled inside her purse for her phone and her pepper spray. But before she pressed the button for emergency services, her brain clicked on. It was broad daylight. Not exactly the most sensible place for an attacker to come calling, or for a homeless person to take up residence.

Cell phone and pepper spray ready, Eden approached, only to recapture her breath as she sidled closer. She’d recognize those long legs anywhere. With his back propped against the wall, arms crossed, his baseball cap pulled low over his brow, Kevin sat under the building’s overhang―sleeping.

She stared at the man, with his impossible attitudes and confusing contradictions. Then silently she crept to the step below him and sat down.

“Took you long enough,” he grumbled.

Reaching up, she tipped his cap so she could see his eyes, immediately swept up in their deep brown depths. “For someone who doesn’t like me, you sure hang around a lot.”

“I never said I didn’t like you.”

True, he hadn’t. That didn’t make his blunt rejection of her in St. Patrick’s parking lot hurt any less, or resolve the issues between them. Even so, she’d take the comment and his presence as a positive. “Forget to pay your rent?”

“How’d you know?” He yawned. Then, stretching, he showed off some dangerously appealing biceps. “What do you think of my new set up?”

“I think I should call a cop. What are you doing here, Kevin?”

“Protecting you.”

She laughed. “What?”

“With your attack cat out of commission, I figured I was the next best thing.”

If only he knew. In truth, that’s why she’d stayed at the hospital so long. The idea of an intruder on the premises wasn’t exactly the best sleeping aid. She was infinitely grateful for his presence, not that it would do to tell him that. “I don’t need a bodyguard,” she said, her tone belying her thoughts. “Unless . . . did your guys find something?”

He tugged the cap back over his eyes. “No recognizable prints so far, no witnesses.”

Eden blinked at the cop taking up space on her doorstep. How cavalier could he be? She was tempted to go about her business and leave him where he sat. But there were laws in this city and someone might trip on him. “So what’s the plan, boy scout?”

Lifting the cap again, he returned an expression far from trustworthy. And trust him, she didn’t. This man, with his chronic five o’clock shadow, appeared white-hat-hero material one minute, Casanova-hot the next. Her gaze left his face, only to fall upon his powerful-looking hands and the strong thighs that filled out his jeans.

Damned if her stomach didn’t flip.

“Got anything to eat?” he asked.

Before her heated face gave her away, she rose from the steps. “Nope. Looks like you’re out of luck.”

He came to his feet as well. “That’s okay, we’ll order in.”


Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart® finalist. Her debut novel The Past Came Hunting became an Amazon bestseller, reaching as high as #6 on the paid overall list and finaling in 2012 Gayle Wilson Award for Excellence, RWA’s® Greater Detroit Bookseller’s Best, and the 2012 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Deadly Recall, brought to you by Bell Bridge Books, is her second published novel. Learn more about Donnell at www.donnellannbell.com
Follow Donnell on Twitter @donnellannbell or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Donnell-Ann-Bell/285286321485019?ref=hl

38 thoughts on “Writing to the Market by Donnell Ann Bell

    • Hi, Aretha! I love your attitude. One of the things I learned as a contest coordinator is there’s a lot of brilliant stories out there, and we were only seeing the tip of the iceberg. Thanks for commenting today. You’re entered in the drawing!

    • Hi, Margery, great to see you here. My Kindle is loaded with authors I’ve recently discovered. I need to find a beach and the time to read. Thanks for commenting. You’re entered in the drawing!

  1. I love finding new authors. But also have to admit that when Linda Howard or Donnell bells has a new book released, I’m happy. Good for you and your readers that you stuck with the genre you were born to write.

    • Ha, Jerrie. I don’t know if it’s a good thing I’m so stubborn. I love reading paranormals, and Cindy’s futuristics and historicals — heck I read all over the board. I just know what I’m comfortable and enjoy writing. Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. Good for you for sticking to what you love to write. That’s the way I feel, too. “Deadly Recall” sounds intriguing, even though I’m not a “romance” guy. I like the humor in your writing and the interplay between characters.

    • John, I can appreciate you’re not a romance guy. Ideally, you’ll find a great mystery in Deadly Recall and the romance won’t overwhelm you. But I gotta have my happily ever after. Too much out there that isn’t, ya know? You’re entered in the drawing. 🙂

  3. Finding new authors is always fun for me. There are so many amazing authors and books out there that are in the mainstream, but it doesn’t make them any less amazing. To me writers are like a bag of jellybeans. You don’t always know what you’re going to get and you don’t necessarily like all the flavor s, but the fun is in trying them all.

    • Shannon, I love your philosophy. And now I’m hungry for jelly beans. I hope I’m not the licorice kind — don’t like licorice 🙂 Yes, there’s a lot of remarkable workout there. Fun comment, thank you and you’re entered!

  4. Donnell, I’m a little late to the party here, but welcome to my blog. I’m so pleased to have you. I think from the looks of things that you will have a good time today. I hope so.

    • Good morning, Ms. Cindy. This looks like a swingin’ place. I sure appreciate you inviting me to hang out. I’m running a little late myself this chilly Colorado morning… brrrrr

  5. Hello, Donnell.
    I agree, you have to write the book of your heart. I love romantic suspense–it’s my favorite genre, and still what I write. The market might want something else, but it’s vital to a writing career to be passionate about what you write.
    The book looks great–I’m going to pick it up for my weekend read!

    • Thank you so much Kelly, and I appreciate your feedback that I’m not alone when it comes to writing to the market. Writing comes from our imaginations. That one of our greatest gifts, don’t you think? Thanks for you kind words on my excerpt!

  6. IMHO, it’s never a good idea to write to the market. First, your voice may not fit that genre. For example, I tried my hand at paranormals when they were hot hot hot. Um, I sucked. I love historicals. Couldn’t write a decent one on a bet! Second, by the time you get your book written, edited appropriately, get a cover or a publisher, that genre might have gone cold.

    So writers should write what they want to write…even what they want to read. If THEY want to read it, there are readers out there for them.

    • Absolutely Cyndi. Such a good point. We wouldn’t pick up something we didn’t want to read? Why would we write something we didn’t want to write. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, GF! 🙂

  7. We suspense/romance writers need to stick together, Donnell. The writing has to be fun and so does the marketing thing! Love your cover and the story sounds like a great mystery. Good luck with sales! Rolynn

    • Rolyn, like glue! Yay, another romantic suspense writer. Good point. We write because it’s fun. If it’s drugery, I can think of better paying ways to make a living, can’t you! Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Hi, Donnell. I agree. We need to write what we enjoy and can put our hearts into. I love romantic suspense, but I read many different stories. Not too crazy about the ones that have no romance. Romance really cranks the emotions and the danger. Many sales to you.

    • Hey, Karalee, we’re on the same page. I love a good thriller, however, but even then if an author leaves us without emotion – bleh, I can take it or leave it.
      It doesn’t have to necessarily be romantic emotion, but I read to “feel.” Thanks for making an excellent point and for stopping by!

  9. I loved discovering romantic suspense (and the same authors you mentioned, plus Linda Castillo who actually wrote a romance where hero and heroine didn’t hook up until halfway through the book!) I’d never read a romance and thought I was writing a mystery, but it was the ‘relationship’ angle that kept my interest. I’m thankful for indie publishing because although I was published by some small presses, the freedom to color outside the lines is what keeps me going.


  10. I agree by the time you write to market the market is saturated. I love romantic suspense also. I’m willing ot give a new author a try if it is someone I know or have heard of from someone else. My money is so tight I have to think before I buy a book. Often times I even skip my favorite authors’ books if I have no dollars for books.

    • Kathy, I hear you about dollars being tight. That’s why I had a problem when books were being produced that only fit into a particular mode. Oftentimes it felt as though I’d read the storyline, or that genre over and over. I love that I have a greater selection when I choose to spend those rare dollars. Thanks for dropping by!

  11. Terry, good analogy, coloring outside the lines. Bell Bridge has given me a lot of freedom to do just that, for which I’m grateful. In my opinion, they’re trend setters. Thanks for stopping by. Linda Castillo is one of those thrillers I mention who keep me flipping pages!

  12. I never write for the market. I’m all over the board with genres, even mixed genres. lol, I’ll never have a ‘brand.’ Sure there will always be our ‘favorite authors.’ but my E-reader is filled with new authors I’m itching to read. Like you, I need a month on the beach to catch up with them.

    • Lorrie, good for you! You have to do what makes you happy. Life’s too short, ya know? So when you find out what beach you’re going to let me know. I’ll see if I can borrow the DH frequent flyer miles 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

  13. I love discovering new authors! I’m even more delighted when “new author” has several books for me to read! Like discovering Downton Abby in it’s second season and I get to go back and enjoy season one! Good luck with your new release–can’t wait to read it!

  14. Good for you. I think writing a book you’re passionate about is more important than trying to write for the market. I definitely love to discover new writers. Adventurous –that’s me. 🙂

  15. Hello Donnell,
    Yes writers who don’t fit the strict guidelines of the giants are fortunate in this time of publishing.
    And new publishers who start up their own smaller companies help out writers as well with their business sense as well as support of other authors in the group.
    And readers are also all the more fortunate. And thank goodness for the invention of e readers which helped the boom. It is a good time to write along the edges of the mainstream. Readers expectations are met but with slightly different twists.
    Congratulation on being confident to listen to your inner muse.
    Yours truly,
    Annette Bower

    • Thank you so much, Annette, Great points. We are fortunate to live in this particular time. Do you remember a few years ago when people frown on e-publishing as a whole? People fear change and I’m no exception. But things are happening so fast, we just have to embrace it. Thanks for commenting!

  16. Love your post and can identify. I have a couple of ms. That don’t follow any guidelines and while both have won and placed in contests, they have no publishing home. I’ve gone back to following the crowd. Your post gives me something to think about. Thanks! Would love to win a copy of your book! It sounds great!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *