Sunday, August 11, 2019

David Bell's REAL writing life #bookgiveaway

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN:  How often have you taken your seat on an airplane, and stolen a look at the person in the seat beside you..and wondered? Who they are and where they’re going, and whether just ever, you have anything in common? And then you turn back to your book,  because yeesh, no time to talk to anyone, and you fly to your destination with pretzels and a diet coke, and you never see them again?

That’s my usual flight. But sometimes, someone will say something to me, and it turns  out to be life-changing. It happened, absolutely, once. But that’s another blog.

In David Bell’s new book,  LAYOVER, the coolest airplane story ever:

Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work, his life a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, he meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their respective flights, Morgan kisses Joshua passionately, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.

As soon as Morgan disappears in the crowd, Joshua is shocked to see her face on a nearby TV. The reason: Morgan is a missing person.

Ahhh. Brilliant! And we asked David to roust himself from the champagne and limos and general acclaim that every writer experiences to …wait. What? No champagne? No glamour? We’ll let the amazing David explain. 
The Real Writing Life

Most writers I know have day jobs. While it’s certainly possible to make a decent amount of money as a writer that income is hardly guaranteed.. One book that sells poorly, one editor who loses their job, and the writer may find their income decreasing dramatically or disappearing altogether. This isn’t exactly the glamorous side of writing. This isn’t the thing people think about when they picture writers flying on private jets or sipping cocktails outside their beach villas.
I’ve been a professional writer for the past twelve years. And what I mean by professional is that people have been paying me for my work. (Let’s not count all the years that went before when no one was paying me.) And during every one of those twelve years I’ve had a full-time job. Why have I kept my job while writing a new book every year? It turns out that health insurance and a retirement plan are nice things to have. Sure, it’s glamorous to think of F. Scott Fitzgerald drinking it up all over Europe and Hollywood. He also keeled over in his forties, negating the necessity for long-term planning. Most writers live in the real world. They have families, spouses, aging parents, kids who need braces, and dogs that need food.

But my day job may seem somewhat unusual for a thriller writer. I’m an English professor at Western Kentucky University where I direct the MFA program. Does it seem odd to find someone who writes thrillers about kidnappers and murderers sharing the hallways with professors who are teaching Milton and Shakespeare and Morrison? Perhaps. But, then again, think about the content of some of those classics. As I recall there are a lot of murders, poisonings, thefts, and unfaithful spouses in those stories. 

And other thriller writers have come from the halls of academia before me. Most notably one of my writing heroes, David Morrell, who was a college professor before becoming a full-time writer. In fact, David and I have a lot in common. Our first names. Our careers in academia. Our PhDs. And the fact that we’ve both sold millions of books by creating an iconic character that  spawned a film franchise. (Okay, we don’t have that last part in common.)

But what are the advantages to my life as a college professor? Why does this job work alongside my writing career? For one, I have summers “off.” I don’t have to teach in the summer, and except for the occasional meeting or thesis defense I’m free to use my time for writing and revising. 

During the academic year, I’m not stuck in a cubicle with someone looking over my shoulder from 9 until 5. Academics like their independence, and they’re used to working on their own, qualities most writers have as well. So even though I’m busy with my teaching job during the semester, I can find the occasional stolen moment to write between classes. 

It’s also part of my job to write and publish. I wouldn’t have earned tenure without publishing books, so the university has an expectation that I will be writing and publishing. Maybe not as much as I have, but that expectation is still there. Finally, I get to spend my days talking about books and writing. So even when I’m at my day job I’m thinking about the writing life by sharing my knowledge with my students. And oftentimes I’m learning things from them. 

I often tell my students that if they want to have careers as writers they have to structure their lives so that as much as possible writing comes first. My day job has allowed me a decent amount of time to put writing first while also providing a steady paycheck, benefits, and the opportunity to make people call me “Doctor” if I want to. All in all, not a bad deal for a writer. And much better than drinking myself to death to avoid old age.

HANK: Well, yeah. True. Reds and readers, if you’re writing, do you still keep a day job? Why? And if you’re a reader—or a writer—who’s the most interesting person you’ve ever met on a plane?

A copy of LAYOVER to one lucky commenter!


About LAYOVER
In this high concept psychological suspense novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Somebody’s Daughter, a chance meeting with a woman in an airport sends a man on a pulse-pounding quest for the truth.
Joshua Fields takes the same flights every week for work, his life a series of departures and arrivals, hotels and airports. During yet another layover, he meets Morgan, a beautiful stranger with whom he feels an immediate connection. When it’s time for their respective flights, Morgan kisses Joshua passionately, lamenting that they’ll never see each other again.


As soon as Morgan disappears in the crowd, Joshua is shocked to see her face on a nearby TV. The reason: Morgan is a missing person.

What follows is a whirlwind, fast-paced journey filled with lies, deceit, and secrets as Joshua tries to discover why Morgan has vanished from her own life. Every time he thinks one mystery is solved, another rears its head—and his worst enemy might be his own assumptions about those around him.

About David Bell 
David Bell is the USA Todaybestselling and award-winning author of nine novels from Berkley/Penguin: LAYOVER, SOMEBODY'S DAUGHTER, BRING HER HOME, SINCE SHE WENT AWAY, SOMEBODY I USED TO KNOW, THE FORGOTTEN GIRL, NEVER COME BACK, THE HIDING PLACE, and CEMETERY GIRL. He is an Associate Professor of English at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky and can be reached through his website davidbellnovels.com.

73 comments:

  1. I think David’s students are lucky to have him for their teacher . . . . “Layover” sounds amazing . . . I’m looking forward to reading this!

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    1. Isn’t it a great idea? And such a believable one, too...

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  2. David! So great to see you here--and while we don't share first names, great to share so many other similarities, as you know from the past. Hope your summer has gone well, and hope you're ready for the new school year ahead! (I'm not quite there yet....)

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    1. Hey Art ! Yes, this is the time of year when we all think though no no, not yet! And then there are the back-to-school sales :-)

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    2. Thanks, Art! I refuse to accept that the semester is starting...

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  3. Welcome David. Just got back from Amazon where I had a look at your books and ordered CEMETERY GIRL. (This is notable because I spelled cemetery right the first time, no spellcheck needed.) I like to start at the beginning or close to it.

    I recall meeting no one notable while flying although I shared a plane with Lorne Greene once, before he died, obviously.

    What I am most intrigued about is the number of authors who have PhDs, Hallie and Lucy/Roberta, Catriona McPherson, other Reds I'm sure that I don't know about, or other advanced degrees. Something in me thinks they breathe rarefied air, and I am green with envy. I've always regretted that I didn't go on after my baccalaureate, but I had to work, raise kids, pay bills, all that single mother stuff. Yet others like me I know did get their MA and PhD, and they managed somehow.

    My idea of a perfect life is that of an academic, living somewhere in the halls of Oxbridge, smoking a pipe, drinking sherry, surrounded by adoring students, and writing the great English language novel. It's really like that, right?

    Kudos to you, David, for managing two careers, and, I suspect, for doing both so well.

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    1. Oh, I am sure it is exactly like that!

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    2. Ha!!! Yes, exactly like that. Plus, in Kentucky we get paid millions...

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  4. I'm definitely putting Layover on my list. How can I resist? I have to know what happens! And Hank, you better tell us real soon about the person you met and the life-changing experience.
    I can't think of anyone interesting I ever met on a plane. The closest I can come is on a flight home from FL we got bumped up to First Class. What made that so special, beyond the obvious, was the fact that there was another couple from our home town who saw it happen!

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    1. Yes, first class is fabulous! And I will definitely do the blog!

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    2. True confession...I've never flown first class in my life...

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  5. Wow, I can hardly wait to read Layover! David, this sounds like the perfect book to read during a long flight.

    Re day jobs: I'm a college writing instructor. Because of my severe hearing loss all of my classes are now online. I spend most of my computer time in my classes interacting with students or grading their papers. I find it really hard to make myself work on my own writing. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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    1. What a wonderful story! I think… You should make yourself your own student. A lot yourself an appointment every day, at a specific time, and make sure you show up. You are the teacher would be upset if youvb what a wonderful story! I think… You should make yourself your own student. Assign yourself an appointment every day, at a specific time, and make sure you show up. You the teacher would be upset if you didn’t , right?

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    2. Yes, I know that printed twice. Sometimes when I dictate it does that. And it happens so fast that I can’t stop it before I publish. Does anyone know why? Grrrrr

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    3. You just have to compartmentalize...

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    4. Hank, that is a wonderful idea! Thank you very much!

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    5. Thank you, David! Yes, I need to get better at doing that.

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  6. Layover sounds terrific! Most interesting person I've met on a plane... hmmm. No one comes to mind. I traveled with my dad to France because he wanted to visit Normandy (he was a WWII vet who served on the front lines) when he was 88. The schrapnel he carried embedded in his side from age 20 to his grave (he died at age 94 last year) set off metal detectors in all the airports. So I have a feeling Dad was the most interesting person others met on the plane during that trip. (He was quite the talker/storyteller/charmer.)

    As for day jobs... thank you for being honest about the life of a writer. I'm at the point where writing is my full time job. Of course, that only took 30 years plus a supportive spouse who is the source of my healthcare plan. And I know I'm very, very, very lucky. I've told friends that if need be, my ideal day job would be to be a teller at the local bank at the end of my street. Reasons: Benefits. Indoors, no physical labor. Tellers get to sit on stools. Tellers also get nice shirts provided--I wouldn't have to think about what to wear to work. I'm good at doing basic math very fast and at counting back change (from my long-ago retail days.) And... I literally could not take work home with me. (That's always been the temptation when I taught, or worked in corporate marketing.) And I'd still have time--not as much as I'd like, but time--to write. My friends always look askance as if they don't believe me, but I'm quite serious!

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    1. Jess, you have this worked out! Xxx

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    2. That health insurance issue keeps a lot of writers from quitting their jobs.

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  7. Thanks for visiting Jungle Reds -- I look forward to reading Layover. My most interesting airplane encounter was when I sat next to two submariners (?) and learned all about what it is like to serve on a submarine. They told me I was lucky to have caught them on their way back to their sub from leave because they looked healthy compared to the other way around where they would be as white as ghosts and look a bit sickly after all that time confined to the sub. Very interesting ~

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    1. Oh wow, yes, very interesting! I once sat by two pilots— that was the best! I figured if anything went wrong, they could help. The only weird part was that they picked up the safety instruction card, and when they saw the plane floating on the water, they both burst out laughing. That was not reassuring.

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    2. Thank you, Celia! I try not to talk too much on planes. I'm usually asleep...

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  8. David, what a great introduction, your book sounds intriguing, I shall add it to my list. Of course I immediately thought of Victoria Falls, James Hornor’s book which opens with his protagonist in a tiny plane over Victoria Falls, clutching at the hand of a woman who is a stranger but who then has a lifelong impact on him. James was Julia’s guest a few weeks ago. I have flown a lot and looking back my most interesting seat companion was a man who raises roses in Kenya for export. This was in 2009, I was in Kenya to attend the wedding of one of my oldest friends, a lovely affair held on the beach at Malindi. Now I was on my way back from my Masai Mara safari, in another tiny plane. It was fascinating to learn about his business, and now we see African roses in the supermarket all the time and I do wonder if I’m buying his product.

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    1. That is fascinating! And very very sweet about the roses…

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    2. I'll have to read that one. Thanks!

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  9. Since I hardly ever travel and fly meeting someone interesting is rare but one time I was travelling alone from my mother's funeral and feeling miserable and depressed. I did not want to engage in conversation at all. Next to me was an older woman who noticed my mood and then began talking about her life, family and experiences. She was extremely positive about everything even though she had suffered greatly as a survivor. I won't forget this encounter ever.

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    1. That is so lovely. Could've been my mother in law. It's the kind of thing she did.

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    2. Those people are sent, I am convinced.

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    3. That's a great story!

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  10. This book sounds fantastic. Such an intriguing premise. I love chatting with seatmates on a planee. In supermarkets. Parking lots. Waiting on line at the DMV. I once sat next to a woman on a cross country flight, we did not chat, as we were getting off she made a phone call to say she'd be late for a meeting and left her name, spelling here last name E-P-H-R-O-N. Deplaning we did chat and exchanged cards. I'm 99% sure we're related. But I have no idea where I put that card.

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    1. Isn’t that amazing? And way too coincidental to be in a book, but life is…

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    2. Yes, serendipity!! But I can't talk at the DMV. It irritates me too much...

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  11. Layover sounds fascinating! No day job for me. I do miss that company-sponsored health insurance, but I also enjoy having all of my time to myself. It's always a trade-off, right?

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  12. Congratulations on this compelling novel. While on a trip I met a fascinating businessman who I had read about but never dreamed I would meet. I was enthralled with his life, experiences and will never forget his advice and conversation. I cannot reveal his name. He has written books which are unforgettable.

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    1. My goodness, that is tantalizing! If we guess what you tell us?

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    2. Yeah, spill the beans!!

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  13. Speaking of airplane books and movies… Anyone remember the Jimmy Stewart movie called “No Highway in the sky”?

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  14. Yep, full time day job. No worries though, it's all good!

    Layover sounds wonderful. A must addition to my Kindle. I've met some very interesting people on planes, but no one of any renown. Everyone has a story, and the anonymity factor of traveling as seatmates seems to encourage confidences. It's fun to dig into those on a plane.

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    1. Thanks!! I passed Reese Witherspoon in an airport. I should have given her my book...

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  15. I see people and I make up stories about them all of the time. We have neighbors who are chain saw murderers. Supposedly. I see people in the grocery store and they are not with their spouses. They are with their lovers INSTEAD of their spouses. I loved reading this article.😊

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    1. Uh-oh! And I wonder what they think about you :-) Xxxxx

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    2. Thanks!! Sounds like fun!

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  16. Good morning, David. I can meet for coffee in a little over an hour. Hahaha! I live in Owensboro, just a hop and a skip from you in Bowling Green. My Masters in library media is from Western, and my daughter and son both graduated from WKU.

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    1. Oops, somehow I hit the "publish" button or whatever on my computer that made it publish before I was through. Anyway, I am a fan of your university, and they are fortunate to have you teaching English there. I am looking forward to reading Layover. Such intrigue about airports and passengers and all those lives passing each oth

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    2. Ah, wonderful WKU!!

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  17. Hi, David! What a fascinating premise! Now I have to know what happens!!

    On a flight from Dallas to London a couple of years ago, we were delayed on the runway because the plane needed de-icing. This was a new experience for me, and a bit unnerving, but my seatmate turned out to be a commercial charter pilot. He explained everything to me. He then told me about all the interesting places he flew, and about some of his famous former clients--of course he couldn't talk about the current ones. We chatted over wine and dinner once the flight was in the air, then both turned out the lights and went to sleep. The perfect seatmate! His name was Bill, and he gave me his card but heaven knows what I did with it...

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    1. So agree—once you understand it’s not magic but physics—it’s somehow more reassuring! Xx

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    2. Sounds very fortunate... Thanks!

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  18. I still don't really consider myself a "writer" per se since I'm not writing books. But I get paid for my book reviews so at least I can say I'm a "paid professional writer" in a joking manner. The album and concert reviews bring in free tickets and albums so I guess that is a form of payment as well.

    So yes, I have a day job. It is by no means exciting or full of great stories to tell. But I've been at it for 23 year plus years and it seems to pay (barely) the bills. I won't be leaving it any time soon, unless I hit the Powerball for a large amount.

    I have only flown on an airplane a few times and I've never met anyone that would be considered remotely interesting. Any seatmates have been like me, just a traveler going from one place to another.

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  19. "Layover" sounds like a must read! I don't fly very often, so I've never met any interesting people on a plane. I'm not a writer, but I admire those that write the books that I read.

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  20. Never met anyone famous on a plane, but we did have the DEA takeover the plane coming in from Columbia that we were to take from Puerto Rico home. Made for interesting writing material. Even better, we took off on time.

    Pat Marinelli

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  21. I'm most definitely not a writer and unfortunately not independently wealthy so I do have a day job. Gotta keep a roof over my head, some food for the table and try to pay the bills. Also need those benefits.

    My dad flew a couples times with Fred MacMurray back in the sixties. Mr. MacMurray was going to his Angus cattle ranch up in Healdsburg. As for me, I don't recall meeting any interesting people on planes but I usually have my nose in a book. There was one time I was flying home after being in a car accident. I was feeling sorry for myself, My friend didn't have to make that u-turn and spoil my birthday. There was a couple waiting with me who had spent most of the day trying to get to San Francisco. A family member or friend had been killed in an accident the night before and they were trying to join the family. Their day was by far worse than mine.

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    1. Such a wise way to look at it… and Fred MacMurray! That would’ve been hilarious to see

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    2. Wow, Fred MacMurray. Very cool!

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  22. LAYOVER sounds fantastic, David! I love it. I did work as a part-time librarian when i started writing but the writing took off so I left the day job five + years ago. It was time, but i do miss the library as it inspired me daily to get the words done!

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    1. Thank you!! Libraries are inspiring...

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  23. Thanks, everyone!! It's a treat to be on here. This is such a great community....

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    1. You are fabulous! And congratulations on the book! YAAY! Hope our paths cross again in person soon..xoxo

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    2. Thanks, Hank! You're the best. Bouchercon? The bar? See you there??

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  24. This sounds like a real exciting book and a huge Congrats on the book. I would love to read a print copy and review it ! Peggy Clayton ptclayton2@aol.com

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  25. Another English professor here, with my first book just out. Surprised anyone would think that surprising!

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