Author Archives: Kimberly S. Belle

Awakening the inner artist

tummy-yoga-400I love a challenge. I love giving myself a clear deadline, daily or weekly goals, and going for it. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with checking that task off my list. And if you follow me on social media, you know I also love yoga.

So when my studio asked me if I wanted to participate in their 30-day challenge — a daily yoga class, thirty days in a row, I didn’t have to think before I said yes. Finally! A valid excuse to wear spandex and Uggs every day.

Studies show that yoga boosts creativity, and I can attest that it’s true. Without getting all new-agey on you, yoga helps me to focus, to quieten my mind from all the millions of distractions I encounter every day. It opens me up for new ideas and thoughts and lets my subconscious takes over. An hour on the mat unknots my plot knots in a way a gym class can’t. It’s the reason I was able to pound out book number three — all ninety thousand words of it — in five short months.

But #yogaeverydamnday?

It sounds great in theory, but I also have a life. I have a family and a job and girlfriends I love spending time with. Can I really commit? Can I really haul my sore and tired bones into the studio every single day for a whole month?

Ask me in thirty days.

A love story

As I barrel toward The End on book number three, I’m starting to think of who I want to include in the acknowledgements. There are so many people to thank, so many folks who have contributed big and small to this manuscript, so many friends who haven’t read a word yet still never fail to encourage me along the way. “Thank you” doesn’t feel like nearly enough.

But by far, my biggest and most vocal group of cheerleaders has been other authors. Writing a book is a solitary venture, a six-to-twelve-month process in which we close ourselves off from the world and pound out a story. I know there are writers who do this in public, in coffee shops or restaurants, but I’m not one of them. I like an empty house and a do-not-disturb sign on the door.

And I’ve found that the only other people who get it, who really understand what it’s like to be me when I’m mired down deep in a story, are other authors. They understand the self-doubt and frustration that comes with each book. They know better than anyone else the terror when you send it out to your readers, and they’ll encourage you to do it anyway. And when your book baby is born, when it hits the shelves and the world wide web, they are first in line to help celebrate the big day.

giphyThat’s been one of the most pleasant surprises in this journey, actually, how supportive authors are of other authors. Yes, there’s jealousy and pettiness. Yes, it’s impossible not to compare books and careers and Amazon rankings. But as a whole, authors are some of the nicest, most generous people I know, and I’m blessed to have them as colleagues.

Fourteen years ago today

I was at the Habitat for Humanity office in the Netherlands, writing copy for a donor newsletter. One of my colleagues returned from a meeting with the news. There had been attacks on America, on American ground soil.

This was back in the days of dial-up and sketchy internet, and the lone office computer with a connection to the outside world was ancient and slow. The news sites were swamped and took forever to load. I didn’t get the full picture, but I got enough to know it was bad. I grabbed my stuff, picked up my kids from their schools and daycare, and drove home, where I watched the horror unfold on CNN International.

I think I’ve said it here before, I always had a problem with being called an expat. The word has all sorts of connotations, thanks to the little prefix at the beginning. Expelled, exiled, expatriated. Yes, I was living out of my country of citizenship, and yes, it was a voluntary move, but I’ve never liked the assumption that living abroad made me any less of an American. In fact, I’d dare say the opposite is true, that nothing heightens your feelings of national pride like being the stranger in a foreign country.

I remember a lot of things from that day in September, and from the days and weeks afterward, but the thing that sticks with me the most was the kindness. Dutch friends and family called with their condolences. Neighbors and other moms and strangers on the street, as soon as they realized I was American, expressed their solidarity. The unemotional Dutch, a culture known for their stoicism, cried real tears for me, an expatriated visitor from another country. Never have I felt more American, and never have I loved the Dutch more.

Those of us who lived through that day don’t need a hashtag to remember, but I’ll put it here anyway: #neverforget.

#amwriting but wish #amreading

I’m currently deep in the middle of writing my third book. Like, thirty thousand(ish) words to go and a looming deadline deep. Yoga pants and messy hair and not enough showers deep. Deeeeeep.

All that goes to say, when I sat down to write today’s blog post, I couldn’t even contemplate coming up with another 500 words. Sorry, y’all, but I got nuthin’.

But Women Unplugged is a blog about books, and raving about other people’s books is so much easier than talking about mine, so here are a few I love from brilliant fellow authors.

81L-XdfdbgLJonathan Tropper is an automatic buy for me. I don’t even bother reading the back cover, just point my mouse at the one-click shopping button. He makes me laugh, he makes me cry, he makes me wish he would write faster. I love all his books, but How to Talk to a Widower is my absolute favorite.

51CXyA2LniL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Allison Winn Scotch has such a great voice, and she writes characters I want to be BFFs with. Time of My Life is not her latest, but she smashed it out of the park — and onto the NYT list — with this one.

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A hunky chef, a snarky writer, and a story that sticks with you long after you turn the last page. The First Husband is a charming tale about finding your soul mate, and my favorite of all of Laura Dave’s novels.

51dx30Ray5LBridget Asher has a new one coming out this fall and I can hardly wait. Her last one, Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, is heartbreaking and hilarious, a love story within a love story, and bonus! It’s set in beautiful France.

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I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this one. Julie Buxbaum writes so beautifully about love and loss and the secrets we hide from our families and ourselves. After You will haunt you long after The End.

If you read any of these, I hope you’ll let me know what you think!

Do something that scares you

9780778317869_TS_prd_revI’ll admit, when I came up with the idea for The Ones We Trust—a story with a military bent—I was more than a little nervous about writing it. I didn’t grow up in a military family. I’ve never lived in a military town. The number of soldiers I have as friends can be counted on one hand. What did I know about war stories? And more importantly, could I do one any justice?

A military angle is one I knew would hit home with a lot of readers. Fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, cousins, friends or neighbors… pretty much every American family has been touched in some way by war. What if I got it wrong, and offended people along the way?

Because war doesn’t just take place on a battlefield, and our soldiers aren’t the only heroes. What about the parents who send off their sons and daughters, the spouses and siblings and children left waiting at home? They are just as heroic and courageous, their sacrifices different, maybe, but just as great as the men and women fighting on the front lines. Above all, I wanted to be respectful to everyone, not just the soldiers but also the people who love them.

But I wrote the story anyway, and it was scary as hell, but The Ones We Trust is about more than just war. Yes, the story hinges around what, exactly, happened to the soldier on the battlefield, but the real story is about the people left behind. About how they cope and carry on. About how they find hope for the future. That’s what I hope sticks with readers the most–that even after great tragedy, there can be a better tomorrow.

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