Friday, July 3, 2009

Author Spotlight - Michele Ashman Bell

Michele has been one of my favorite authors since I was a newlywed. I hope you all enjoy getting to know her a little bit today.

Michele Ashman Bell grew up in St. George, Utah.  In fourth grade her teacher wrote on her report card that she had a tendency to daydream and would probably do well with creative writing.  Her love for books and learning about people and places has helped her make her teacher's prediction come true.  Michele is the author of many books and Christmas stories.  She is married and is the mother of four children, and a grandma of one.  Aside from supporting her children in all of their many activities, she loves to travel, do research for her books and eat chocolate.


Tell us about your latest book, A Modest Proposal

A Modest Proposal is the story of six friends who went to high school together.  On graduation day, one of the girls is killed in an automobile accident.  This experience bonds the girls together and they decide that even though they are all going their separate directions, they want to stay close to each other throughout their lives.  They create a box, a Butterfly Box, that has items of remembrance from their time together, things that represent their friendship and what they’ve been through together. A Modest Proposal is the first in a three book series and is the story of Lauryn, who is a clothes designer in New York City.  When she finally gets a chance to design evening gowns and formal wear, her efforts are sabotaged by Laszlo Molnar, a famous designer who views her as a threat.  Convinced that high fashion and modesty can coexist, Lauryn doesn’t give up when things get tough and with the help of her friends, she manages to come out on top.


What is your next project?

My next project is the third book in the Butterfly Box series.  The second one is waiting publication and the third is in my head, and hopefully soon to be in my computer.  It’s always difficult to wrap up a series because it’s important to tie up loose ends, but not make things too tidy.  Reality is anything but tidy, so I’m trying to figure out how to make the ending satisfying and real at the same time.  I’m also sad that it’s the final book.  I’ve really grown to love the characters in these books.

What other work of yours has been published?

I’ve had quite a few books come out in print.  Some are part of a series, others stand alone.  I’ve created a list of all my releases and put books that are part of a series together.


An Unexpected Love

An Enduring Love

Love After All


Yesterday’s Love

Love After All

Love Lights the Way

Pathway Home


Written in the Stars


Without A Flaw


Finding Paradise


Timeless Moments

Forget Me Not


Perfect Timing


Butterfly Box:  A Modest Proposal


Latter-day Spies:  Spyhunt

Latter-day Spies:  Dragon’s Jaw

Latter-day Spies:  Rescue


A Candle in the Window


Wow. That is an amazing list, Michele. I’ve read quite a few of those, but now I’m excited to catch up on the ones I’ve missed.


Is there a particular event that helped you become an author?

I distinctly remember the age I was when I fell in love with books.  My third grade teacher read the book, “My Father’s Dragon” to our class and I was completely captivated and carried away by the magic and imagination of the story.  From that point on I was immersed in books and reading.  I must have read the Laura Ingalls Wilder series twenty times from beginning to end.  As I got older I began to read romance books and got in trouble at school because I put my reading book inside my text books. I also was an avid journal keeper through junior high and high school.  Expressing my emotions through the written word into my journal was a great outlet for me.  The combination of these two things created my desire to write.  At age 23 I attempted my first short story and ten years later was finally published.


What advice would you give to writers wishing to have their works published?

Since I did everything the wrong way, I am full of advice.  The first thing is to believe you can do it and never give up.  It isn’t the most talented writer who gets published, it’s the one who doesn’t quit.  Persistence does pay off.  Second, know your market. Make sure that you are familiar with what’s selling and what’s hot at the moment and keep an eye on market trends.  Timing is everything (and a little luck is always nice too).  Third, write about what you are passionate about.  If you love your story and feel very strongly about it, the reader will pick that up and connect with it.  And fourth, make sure you submit to the right publisher and make sure you have gone through their guidelines and follow them exactly.  That shows professionalism.


Who is your favorite author?

Most of the reading I do lately is either for research or for the reviews I do for Meridian Magazine.  However, I am a fan of JK Rowling.  Her creativity and imagination are astounding.  I am a fan of Stephanie Meyer and her ability to create tension in her first few books.  I love many of the LDS authors.  To name a few, but this list is incomplete; Jennie Hansen, Nancy Campbell Allen, Kerry Blair, Lynn Gardner, GG Vandagriff, Gale Sears, Cheri Crane, Jeri Gilchrist, Sian Bessey, Anna Jones Buttimore, Betsy Brannon Green and Stephanie Black.


Do you have a quote that motivates you?

“Two roads diverged in a wood and I took the one less traveled by and that has made all the difference.”  Robert Frost 

This is how I’ve lived my life.  Sometimes I was the only one who believed in myself enough to know I could really get published.  It was hard but I never ever gave up.  I still followed that path.  It was so worth it.


Excerpt from A Modest Proposal

With her thirtieth birthday looming ahead of her, Lauryn decided it was time to take a good look at her life and quit settling for the routine, monotonous existence she'd been living. She wanted the next decade of her life to be one of changes and new challenges.

Excitement bubbled up inside her. Somehow she was going to make her dreams come true. No one was going to do it for her. She refused to live another decade only to look back and wonder what she'd done with the last ten years.

Squaring her shoulders and lifting her chin, she snatched her luggage off the conveyor belt and dropped it to the floor next to her. Things were going to be different starting today!

With a resolve to think positively and visualize her dreams, she headed for the entrance to hail a taxi to the hotel. She wasn't exactly sure what had happened on that flight, but something felt tremendously different inside of her. And it felt wonderful!

You can purchase A Modest Proposal and Michele's other titles at:

Thanks Michele!


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