Bella Andre is on fire, her writing career as hot as the sex scenes in her contemporary romance novels. She’s sold 2 million self-published ebooks and has a seven-figure contract with Harlequin to publish print editions of her Sullivan Series – eight novels she already epublished and which she retains the ebook rights to – a first in the publishing industry.
She’s also writing two new books for Harlequin, including her first hardback, “Kissing Under the Mistletoe: A Sullivan Christmas.”
“I’m in Target, Walmart and Costco,” she laughs, totally jazzed. You can find her books in airports, convenience stores, the middle of rural Arkansas and, in Sonoma, at Safeway, CVS and Rite-Aid. She’s made the New York Times Bestseller List, and in July 2012 she had three books on that list at the same time, bringing her to the attention of Harlequin and cinching what looks to be a long run as a famous author. “I’d love to be the next Nora Roberts,” she said. She’s also hoping for a TV show, ala the Hallmark Channel’s Debbie Macomber hit, “Cedar Cove,” starring Andie MacDowell.
Her books are racier than Roberts’ and Macomber’s, though, as she writes what she describes as “super emotional and sexy” novels, the kind with lots of moaning, gasping and graphic details. They also have engaging plot lines and well-conceived characters that readers learn to love. She’s both a talented writer and a super-smart Stanford graduate with a degree in economics – as savvy and driven as a Wall Street investment banker with the marketing abilities of Madison Avenue’s best and brightest. Her success is no accident, she works her ass off – to use a word you’d find in one of her novels.
You won’t read her real name here, but many know her as a happily married Sonoma mom with two children in elementary school. She and her husband take a long walk around the eastside every morning after they drop the kids off at school, favoring the vineyard views on Gehricke Road. She’s back at home and working by 10 a.m. and puts in very long days, often getting up in the middle of the night to work some more. Her husband writes statistical analysis software and also works at home, usually taking on homework and dinner duty while Bella is writing.
Right now, Bella’s in what she calls “lockdown,” the roughly six to eight weeks during which she writes a novel. It’s an intense time – she turns out about 25 pages a day. The family recently returned from vacation and “I’m salivating to write again,” she said. She has no formal training in writing, has never taken a single class. But, “I’ve read one romance novel a day sine I was 11. I have given myself an accidental Ph.D.,” she said.
Bella’s recent rocket into the big time hasn’t changed her, other than an upgrade, after years of driving a minivan, to a Lexus. When her ebooks first started selling she set a goal of paying off their mortgage, putting literally every penny she made toward the principal. She reached her goal and says she can never imagine moving. They have lived in the Valley of the Moon for 18 years and plan at this point to stay forever.