Bellakentucky is a photographer and writer living in Argentina, and the nominee for Round #3 of America's Next Author.
How does it feel to be the third ANA nominee?
I have an overwhelming sense of relief. I wanted this really REALLY bad, and I probably gave it more attention than any sane person would. I'm a big believer in going after what you want in life.
Did you have an existing fan base that was ready to vote for you?
Yes and no. I have about 300 followers on Facebook that are family and friends. I did start a Facebook author page a few months ago but that's still in its infancy. I have a fair amount of followers on Twitter and LinkedIn, but I hadn't been overly social on either site. It was a statement in Peter McCarthy's interview that I think helped me in the end. I began to target my audience.
What is the name "Bellakentuky" all about?
It's a nickname that developed between my wife and I. She is Argentine. When we met and fell in love, I called her Bella (which is beautiful in Spanish), and she called me Kentuky (always misspelled when written) because my real name is in there (Kent) and Kentucky is in the United States. I'm not from Kentucky, by the way; I'm from Minnesota. It was an inside joke for her. We are both professional photographers and we began to market our work together as Bellakentuky. I then decided to use it as my pen name.
What is the best writing advice you've ever heard?
I have two. Write every day. I don't know who said that, but I try to follow it religiously. The second one is by James Scott Bell. He calls it, "The Chapter Two Switcheroo. When writing a story, throw your first chapter out and start your story with Chapter Two because that's where the action usually starts." When I read that, it completely changed my writing style.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing fiction since high school. I had several short stories published when I was in the eleventh grade. Then, in my early twenties I worked briefly as a small town newspaper reporter. But, my career path went toward photography. It was three years ago that I began writing short story fiction in earnest.
If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
I'm currently reading The Catcher in the Rye.
What is the greatest challenge you have had to overcome in regards to writing?
There were a lot them. Self-doubt, time management, and where to put commas, I'll keep the list short. (I'm still working on all of them.)
Have you been able to learn anything useful from less-than-favorable reviews?
Absolutely! I have always been a big fan of criticism. And if there is one thing I've learned about writing (or any other art form) is that no matter how fantastic the "thing" you produced is, there will always be critics. I do like critical reviews. I try to glean something from them right before I forget they ever existed. ;)
Who is your favorite author of all time?
If you could be in character in fiction, who would you be?
I would be Roland Deschain from Stephen King's The Dark Tower Series, because I can so clearly see him in my head, and he is one cool customer!