Sunday, October 7, 2012

Roller Coaster

There will be highs and lows in your life much like a roller coaster, however, it is how you endure them that makes the person that you are and who you can become.

I'm a romance writer and I believe in love. Yet, love isn't easy.  There are highs and lows. The romantic in me believes that you can endure those high and lows with the right kind of commitment. I truly believe that when you meet the love of your life you know it -- even if it takes you awhile to figure out it is love. I can say this as for years I had the strongest feelings for one man. I never would have classified it as love, but all I knew is that he made my heart skip when he walked in a room.  Years later after many highs and lows that man came back into my life.  As we renewed friendship, those feelings were the same for me as they had been so many years ago.  At this point in my life I thought I had been in love before, but it was never a lasting feeling, nor did it give me the courage to be the person I knew I could be.

When did I realize I was truly in love?  When I heard four little words, words I wasn't expecting.  "I love you, too."  Love me too??  I wasn't in love, or was I?  Knowing you're in love doesn't give you the realization of how love will effect your life.  In fact, it was years into our marriage that I realized I truly didn't know how to love unconditionally.  Unconditional love is choosing to love someone regardless of behavior. It's not getting mad and walking away, or withholding saying "I love you" because you are angry.  It's a choice that you make to continue to love regardless of the hurt you maybe feeling.

Only that kind of love can withstand the roller coaster ride of life.  If you find the one that loves you unconditionally as well, the roller coaster ride will only bring you closer.  That kind of love grows through the storms that you weather together. And what if your love doesn't know how to love unconditionally? Do you walk away and write it off as a mistake?  No, you continue with your choice of unconditional love. The love that life's ebbing tides can't wash away.

So have you found that person who you choose to love unconditionally, no matter what?  That person who as you love them unconditionally, you realize the person you are and who you can be?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mirrored Deception

I am so excited to release my second book, Mirrored Deception.  Here is an excerpt.  I hope you enjoy.

Chapter 1

“I will not hire a bodyguard!” Jayla Ralston stormed across the room. She righted a small bookshelf and started picking up the books from the floor. “You’re overreacting once again.” Jayla couldn’t believe her sister would even suggest such a thing. 

“How can you say that?” Jenna’s eyes moved over the mess as she racked her fingers through her hair. “Your apartment has been broken into and trashed. You’re being impossible. What do you think Mom and Dad would want you to do if they were here?”

“That’s a completely unfair question.” Jayla closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Jenna had a way of hitting below the belt using their parents to create guilt, knowing only too well it worked every time. 

Jayla grabbed the broom from the closet off the living room to sweep up the broken shards of glass from pictures that had been scattered about the room. “I will think about it, okay?” she whispered, only wanting to make peace with her twin.

“You know I love you, Jayla. I just don’t want anything to happen to you.” Jenna’s voice softened. “I worry about you.”

“I know, but you really don’t have to. I don’t think he will bother me again.” Jayla’s voice broke. She wished she could show more confidence. Looking at the two of them was like looking in a mirror. They were identical, and yet very different.

             “I’ve got to go, sis. Will you be okay?”

“Of course, Jen. I’m fine. I’ll just clean up.” Jayla walked her to the door and hugged her close. “I love you. Please don’t worry.” 

As she shut the door and turned to survey the damage: the overturned chair and knick-knacks scattered about the living room, Jayla choked back the tears. How could he have done this to her? Her pictures of her family were broken and strewn about the floor. A bodyguard wasn’t needed. What was needed to get away from it all. 

She turned and headed to the bedroom. Dragging a couple of suitcases out of the closet, Jayla started throwing clothes into them. She debated whether to call Jenna and decided against it. She wanted to disappear and give herself a chance to think. Jenna would only be telling her she couldn’t run from her problems, but to meet them head on.

She needed more than this. Jayla slammed the suitcases, grabbed her laptop and headed outdoors. She threw the bags in the trunk and gave a good look around the parking lot. Convinced no one was around, she jumped in and started the car. She pulled her hair back in an elastic band and pulled from the parking lot. With no destination in mind, Jayla aimed for the coast.

For the first few miles, Jayla kept a watchful eye out for anyone following. After an hour it became clear she was the only one on the road. Her grip loosened on the steering wheel, the tension leaving her shoulders. As she rolled the windows down to smell the cool ocean breeze, Jayla’s mind wandered. She wanted her life back -- yet, she wanted a different life. She was filled with many regrets of late.

Driving the coastal route, she paid no mind to the time until her stomach grumbled reminding her she’d missed dinner, and she became very aware of the time. Dark shadows had crept across the landscape. She clicked on the headlights, realizing the gas gauge read empty. How could she take off on a whim without thinking of fueling up? She could hear levelheaded Jenna now -- “never thinking”.  

At a bend in the road, the headlights illuminated a sign for a bed and breakfast, The Cliffhouse. There was a sign below for vacancies. Jayla perked up a bit. At least it wasn’t far ahead and it would do for the night.

            She turned into the entrance and drove up the winding, cobblestone driveway. Around the last turn, a large Victorian house came into view. The place was dark. Not surprising since it was ten o’clock. Hopefully someone was still up.

Jayla sat there for a moment and wondered if they were open. The needle on the gas gauge hovered just at empty; she had no choice but see if they had a room for the night.

            She grabbed her small overnight bag and left the rest of the luggage in the car. After locking the car doors, she walked briskly up the steps of the veranda, past the wicker furniture.  In the dark, Jayla rang the bell and waited. She shivered, straining to see beyond the porch. She wrapped her arms around her middle and paced in front of the door. The hairs on the back of her neck tingled with the sense of being watched. But that could be. This place was out in nowhere. Jayla shook off the sensation—just remnants of the god awful day.

            Jayla rapped on the door with impatience.

            “Yes, I’m coming,” responded a male voice from inside.

            The door swung open. Finally.

            She was about to speak, but when she got her first look at him, words couldn't get past her lips.
The man filling the door leaned nonchalantly against the doorjamb and studied her. His tousled dark hair looked as if he'd just got out of bed. His tanned, bare chest had her pulse racing. “Yes?" 

Just that single word brought a sizzle of awareness coursing through her body. “I' I didn't realize the time and I was running out of gas." 

 He glanced over her shoulder, to the car and back. Perfectly shaped eyebrows rose while sensuous brown eyes surveyed her from head to toe. Okay, she probably didn’t look too presentable after the long road trip. The salty air had given her skin that needs-to-be washed feel. Forget about the lipstick, which had undoubtedly been gone for hours. 

His scrutiny made her uneasy. Surely he could say more than one word?   
"Do you have a room available?" Jayla shoved a lock of hair behind her ear.

He stood upright away from the door without a word. Jayla couldn't help but notice how his well-worn jeans looked like they'd been hastily zipped up, the tab partially undone.

"Come in." He stepped aside. 

           She followed. The foyer was small, but well kept. He stopped at a desk and turned. "How long are you staying?"

"Tonight, maybe longer." Jayla tried to read him. He didn't invite small talk. "I'm Jayla, Jayla Ralston."

"Okay, Jayla." He said her name slowly, almost seductively. "Sign here. Name's Tristan."

She nodded and leaned down to complete the paperwork. She looked up and met his dark brown eyes. Her pulse ratcheted up another beat. There was something in his sharp look that held her gaze. 

He finally broke the spell and gestured for Jayla to follow him to her room. "If you need anything, I'll be around in the morning."

Jayla let out a deep breath. This place might do after all. No one would look for her here. Alone at last. She dug out her laptop and started to write. 

The change was just beginning.
            He watched until after midnight when the house had finally gotten dark. Only one guest had checked in tonight. The only light left on was the one on the veranda.

            He slipped around to the west side of the building, treading carefully on the pebbled walkway, not wanting to leave any footprints. He had watched the house for months and knew the west side wing was empty and that there didn’t appear to be plans to fill the rooms even in the busy months of the summer. At the side door that once was the servant’s entrance, he ran his hand along the top of the doorframe, and found the key put there years ago -- sixteen years. 

            He chuckled. The poor fool probably forgot it was there, or forgot anyone else knew it was there. The key slid easily into the lock. It still worked. He let himself in and shut the door, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the dark, though it didn’t matter, this place was as familiar as the back of his hand. Pocketing the key, he started for the back stairs carrying one bag—that held all his belongings.

            He had come back to claim what was rightfully his and claim it he would. It might take some time to get. Halfway up the stairs, he stopped and listened. There were no sounds, only the sound of his breathing. He shook his head and continued up to the first bedroom. Trenton laid on the bed fully clothed, eyes closed. He couldn’t let his memory play tricks on him. They were gone. He had survived. He was back - and would make sure certain people paid for what he had been through.

Copies are available at  or if you would like to order an autographed copies ($10 each), please do so here.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

When Heroes Fail

Has your hero ever failed you?

There are times as we are writing that our heroes miss the road we want them to go down and decide to take another route. Is that a failure in your writing or do you allow the character to take over and change the plot? In real life sometimes our heroes miss the road you want them to take. Is that a failure on that part or an expectation that is just too high to reach?

If you love your hero, whether on the pages or in real life, the unexpected turn won't throw you completely off track.  On the pages, you will be able to run with it and continue the storyline -- sometimes a much better storyline that you had anticipated in the beginning.  In real life, if you love that hero, you will continue to love them regardless of failed expectations.

On the pages of your story, you strive for the happily ever after. Do you strive for that with your hero in real life? The one thing I have learned over the past few years is that real love doesn't fail us. Regardless of life circumstances and failures of the people we love, we continue to love them unconditionally. The road may not take you where you had expected to go, and even if you don't feel it is a better storyline, you go with it. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a better storyline if your love is unconditional and true.

On the pages, you can correct that failure of your hero. In real life, when your hero fails you, continue to love them anyway.

Has your hero ever failed you?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

When Life Throws Curve Balls -- Find The Blessings

There are times we go along thinking that our life in on track and moving nicely, making plans for the future and just being content with where we are.  Then here it comes -- a curve ball.  It can totally derail your thoughts, your ability in dealing with day to day life and a feeling of grief.

Over the years I have had numerous curve balls thrown at me in this journey of life. Moving through each one, facing them head-on, has been the only way I have been able to get through.  With each chaotic moment, I find my faith growing and a change in my perspective towards things and people.

I believe in the power of prayer.  Prayer can be a powerful tool if done with the right heart.  Have I seen miracles over the years?  Absolutely.  I have seen my son, diagnosed with autism who was completely nonverbal when he was younger and told that he wouldn't be verbal until well into his grade school years, start verbalizing by age of four.  I have seen my daughter walk away from a car accident that by looking at the car she never should have survived, broken hearts heal, marriages renew and yes, sometimes even fall apart again only to be restored fully in the end.

A good friend of mine last night told me that faithfulness brings blessings. Sometimes in the midst of heartache and crisis, we don't see what is right in front of us. So I sit here this morning counting my blessings.  The first seven of them are my children and my grandson. Looking around at my life, there are numerous blessings that need to be counted daily. As I sit here in the midst of crisis, I know I am held up by God and I can see the blessings coming out of having a faithful and open heart.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's In a Number?

Please welcome Shelley Bell this morning as she talks about What's In A Number?

When I joined my twelve-step program a couple of years ago, my sponsor told me to stop weighing myself. Too many people, including myself, rely on a number to determine our self-worth. She was right and I stopped. What did it matter what I weighed if I was physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy?
Weight isn’t the only number we obsess about these days. I don’t know about you, but I check my Amazon and Barnes and Noble book rank at least once a day. Sadly, I’ve noticed my moods are affected with the ups and downs of my ranking. It doesn’t matter that I’ve gotten good reviews and accomplished something that I never dreamed possible. I’m focusing on the number. What does that number represent to me? It’s more than merely an indicator of book sales. To me, it represents a long ago buried anxiety of mine- the need to be popular.

Middle school was a difficult time for me as an adolescent. The pressure to be popular ran rampant throughout my network of friends. With a bad haircut, braces, thirty extra pounds and acne, I had no chance of being popular. By the end of seventh grade, most of my friends dropped me like a bad habit. I found a new group, kids who didn’t care about designer labels. They accepted me, bad skin and all.
In high school, I found my clique. We were the theater and choir geeks, not much different than the characters you see on “Glee.” Popularity was irrelevant. I had enough friends and boys to date to keep me busy. 

As an adult, I thought I had outgrown the issue of popularity. Then I entered the world of publishing. All of a sudden, I’m worried about people liking me. Worried about what people think of me. What is my Klout? What is my page ranking? How many Twitter followers do I have? How many likes do I have on my Facebook Page? What is my Alexa score? How many books have I sold? 

These ranks, numbers and scores shouldn’t matter to me, but they do. These days, being an author isn’t just about writing and selling books. Now, we have to worry about what I call the likeability factor. Agents and traditional publishers don’t want to take chances on newcomers unless they can prove they can sell books. They have to have a “platform.” I thought only nonfiction authors were required to have one, but I soon learned that I was wrong.  Agent Rachelle Gardner wrote that authors can build their platform through speaking to large audiences, having high profile visibility in the mainstream media or having a strong internet identity. In other words, they’re expected to be popular. It’s not enough to have talent anymore. Writers must further their own careers by becoming a household name before they even publish a book.

An author’s popularity isn’t based on reality, but on the audience’s perceived image of the author. The crazy thing is that the majority of writers I know are introverts, people who rather curl up on the couch with a good book rather than schmooze with the masses.  Instead of working on their novel, they’re blogging and tweeting and creating their public image. I didn’t play the game in school and I’m not so sure I can do it now. I’ve struggled too long and too hard to accept that I don’t have the control. Nor do I want it. I handed it over to my higher power over two years ago. Though it may hinder my career, I won’t give in to my urge to play the popularity game. I’m going to accept the things I cannot change and change the things I can. I’m going to stay true to myself and not worry about my numbers.

After all, what’s in a number?

Shelly Bell received her Bachelors of Arts in Social Work and a Certificate in Women Studies from Michigan State University and her Juris Doctor from Nova Southeastern University, Shepard Broad Law Center. Practicing law since 1997, she specializes in corporate, environmental and employment law as In-House Legal Counsel for a scrap metal company in Detroit. On the side, she dabbles in horseracing and crematory law. 

She and her husband have two children and reside in the Metro-Detroit area, where she reads on her Kindle each night when her family falls asleep.
A recovering compulsive overeater, she wrote A Year to Remember to share her strength and hope with compulsive overeaters and food addicts everywhere.  A member of Romance Writers of America, she writes both women’s fiction and paranormal romance.

 A Year to Remember is available as an e-book from Amazon, Barnes and Noble , and Soul Mate Publishing (for iBooks and other e-readers) It will be released in print this summer. 

Follow Shelly at her website and blog at And though she proclaims not to care about popularity, she can be found on Twitter as ShellyBell987, Facebook as ShellyBellBooks, Goodreads, Shelfari, Triberr, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.