Tessa Wells is a three-time author who dabbles at motherhood, life lessons, and other challenging prospects. She lives in a mystical land where unicorns frolic all day while minstrels play by flowing streams in sunlit forests.
Oh, and she keeps far away from Narcissists!
Read about her relationship with a Toxic Narcissist, and delve into her time with a crazy maker.
The Man Who Tried to be Good: My Relationship with a Toxic Narcissistby Tessa WellsPublish: Mar 27, 2019General Nonfiction
I grew up in New England, but in my teens we moved to Greece and then Canada (both Ottawa and Montreal) before returning to the States. As a kid, I was an avid reader, and I loved to get lost in rich stories. I had friends, but often I enjoyed solitary pursuits. When I wasn't reading or exploring the woods, I was seeking a creative outlet to occupy my time. In school, I pursued painting and drawing, but sometime during my college years my creativity shifted into writing. My professors would tell me my writing was very good, but it was academic writing, so I didn't think much of it, though it did make me consider the creative writing bug I'd been bitten by years before in Greece. At the time, I had read the novel, She, by H. Rider Haggard, and it was such a fantastical story that it prompted me to begin a short story, which I never completed. I finally started my first book, a novel, in my late twenties.What inspired you to start writing? Did you always want to be a writer?
I live in my head. It's just how I'm wired., and so I'm always thinking and contemplating. As a kid, I would often explore the woods, examining everything I saw and felt with a keen eye. When we moved to Greece, and then Montreal and Ottawa, it was the city that enthralled me. As I got older, I began paying more attention to human behavior, and ideas and stories started to emerge. My first book was a story I long wanted to tell, and though a novel, it was partially based on real events. My second book is what I consider my "real" novel. It is in the horror genre, and I really felt compelled to write that book. The narrative just flew out of me, and I lived it for the year it took me to write, and the several years it took to edit. The same thing is happening with the sequel. I am a visual thinker, so I think that is what propels my immersion in the story. I'm not certain I always wanted to be a writer, but I do know I was drawn to stories and good writing. Once I got older and began writing, I was hooked.What was your major in college? How do you think it has contributed to your career as a writer?
My major was English, and I think it certainly contributed to my writing. The more reading I did and the more we studied literary works, the more I learned about what comprises a good story, and how to look at characters, mood, dialogue, voice, language, and more. It really is a craft, and I enjoy working at it tremendously.Tell us a little about the first book you ever published and what makes it so special.
My first book is loosely based on my family. It's a tale that was drawn from stories my mother told. While I was proud of my work when it was finally completed and put into print, it was my second book that I really valued. That was a story of my own making. It is part romance, part horror novel, and I feel the narrative is richly descriptive and weaves an interesting tale.Your thoughts on conventional vs. self-publishing? What route did you choose and why?
Conventional publishing is what it is--a business. I mean, who wouldn't want to have some big-name publishing company publish and sell their book? Problem is, I'm not a fanatic of wasting time, and I felt sending countless letters to agents, which I did, and getting rejections, which I did, just proved useless. I really wanted to see my book in print, regardless of whether there was an audience. To me, it was a no-brainer. The only difficult part is the marketing, but I'm learning as I go.What are the biggest challenges of being an author? What fears/doubts you had while releasing your first book?
The biggest challenges, really, relate to the marketing efforts. The writing wasn't an issue. I learned as I went. I'm not one to have complicated plots or numerous characters. Though I do appreciate a complex story, I leave that to reading. For my own writing, I'm simplistic, love it or not. I suppose, if pressed, I'd have to say the most difficult thing is writing conflict or character struggles in a novel, but it's essential because they are largely what drive the plot. It's uncomfortable, but I just get into it and push myself.
As to fear or doubt, it's really about whether my stories are good enough to provide a decent read, and whether I will be harshly criticized. Some parts of my books have certain elements that are revealing, and that can be tough when you think about, say, friends, family, and even acquaintances reading something that reveals how you think and feel, because it can make one feel a bit exposed.What is your one mantra to get through everything in life? What keeps you motivated to write?
My mantra for getting through anything in life is to persevere, and realize that everything is temporary. I've definitely been to hell and back a few times, some of which The Man Who Tried to be Good reveals, so it's staying strong that has helped me through most challenges, and trying to stay positive.
I'd have to say nothing "keeps me motivated" to write, per se. It's a passion. I have so many stories in my head, but not enough time, and, frankly, if I had the luxury of writing books for a living, well . . . problem solved. I love living in my books as they are being developed. It reminds me of coloring when I was a kid. I felt that as I put color on the page of my coloring book, only then was I bringing life to what I was filling in.How did you come up with the idea for your book, "The Man Who Tried to be Good"?
Well, the idea came from the fallout from a very bad relationship with a horrible man. I couldn't get the post-break-up mess out of my head, and I sat down one day and just started the introduction. From there, my chapter headings materialized, and after that I just vomited out each chapter with all that was taking up space in my head. It was quite cathartic. I wrote the book in three months, but the editing took two years. That's where I had to tweak the phrasing, and I'm fastidious to a fault. (And still find errors!)What is your take on the importance of a good cover and title? Have you ever designed your own book cover?
I think a good cover is important. As a technological society, we are imbued with more and more images and icons, for better and for worse. Just look at all the symbols and images around us now, and on our computers, phones, TVs, etc. Look at social media! Everything involves images or icons. For that reason, I think a good cover is all the more essential. People will judge the cover. Titles do carry some weight. I feel I'm not the greatest with titles, as I'm too literal, but so be it. My titles work better on my blog (not a book blog).
I used eBook Launch for the covers and manuscript formatting for my second and third books. I made suggestions as to what I felt the covers should look like, and the designer came up with something I inevitably loved.What is one question you get asked a lot? What is one question you wish people would ask more and what is your answer for it?
I have to say that I don't really get asked pointed questions about my books. It's usually commentary or rhetorical questions, such as: "You wrote a horror novel? Wow!" Or, "Oh that's so great you write books." Things like that. I wish more people would ask, "Where can I get your book?" And then follow through!What is the #1 mistake that you see first-time authors make? What mistakes did you make on your road to becoming an author?
My two biggest grievances are bad writing and really bad writing. I'm not saying I'm amazing, not in the least, but I do try to construct an intelligent narrative. There are so many people who want to be writers, but they don't take the time to craft a story with a good narrative or develop good story-writing skills. To wit: There is a now-famous author who wrote a four-book series, from which five popular movies were made. I think her plot and storyline are great, and the movies actually aren't bad, but the writing is awful. I tried to get through them just to examine the prose, and it was torture. Granted, they were slated for a young adult audience, but still. . . . I think a lot of the bad fiction out there can be attributed to authors writing in first-person point of view. It's too easy for writers to write in that style. If you'll note, classic authors always wrote in third-person POV. I feel that memoirs or opinion pieces should be in first-person POV (like my third book), but not novels. Writing in third-person poses a greater challenge for a myriad of reasons, but it makes for a better story. Most first-person books I glance at read like diaries. I am not a fan, and it's telling about the quality of the work. Other than that book series I mentioned or memoirs, I won't read books in first-person POV. By the way, the fan-fiction later spawned by that now-famous author, which turned into a book series and three popular movies (based on BDSM, of all things), is equally as bad.
I look back at my first book and see some of the writing mistakes I made. I took it off the market and I aim to edit it and design a new cover at some point. I need to enhance the dialogue and character development a bit more, and perhaps enrich a few more scenes. It's not terribly bad, but needs some tweaking.Do you have any special rules in your house for when you're writing (no blending, no loud noises, no loud music, etc)?
No rules. I just can't write with music or TV in my vicinity. Generally, I go somewhere quiet, like my bedroom, but I have three teenagers and a dog. It's not as if I'm in a log cabin in the woods by myself, and maybe a glass of wine or two!What is the sweetest thing a fan has ever said to you?
I had one of my former students put out on Facebook how much she loved my horror novel, and asked if I had yet written the sequel. She publicized a few very complimentary things, and I was grateful.What are some book ideas that you've got bouncing around in your head? When can we expect the next publication?
I think I want to write another memoir-like story that revolves around the before-and-after period of the subject of The Man Who Tried to be Good. But I do want to finish the sequel to my horror novel first. I did begin a book relating to a famous child murderer, where recently they discovered who one of the missing boys was through DNA testing. I also have a great story idea that revolves around a certain famous murderer from another time. That's all I'm going to say for now. Clearly, horror and mystery are the most interesting genres to me. The Man Who Tried to be Good was really an incidental blip in what I want to be a more compelling portfolio of chillers, though, as I said, I wouldn't mind revisiting the memoir thing. I do like biting commentary and snarky evaluations of real-life scenarios.How many promotional websites are you signed onto? How were you introduced to AllAuthor and how do you think it compares to the rest?
I use Facebook and Twitter, though of late I've let Twitter go a bit. I am not a marketer, and that's my weakness. It's tedious, so that's where AllAuthor comes in. It provides a service I really can't deal with. I can't say how it compares, as I didn't really look elsewhere, but I will say I'm happy when I see Tweets going out and all the services it provides.
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