The Last Breath
by Kimberly Belle
Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It’s the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia’s father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he’s come home to die of cancer, and she’s responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt.
Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town’s most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope.
As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated.
Lessons from a publishing newbie
My first novel, The Last Breath, debuted in September. All those years spent in a
quiet room with my laptop, writing and revising and revising again, wrangling the
words and tweaking them just so, querying and pitching and waiting, waiting,
waiting. And then finally and all of a sudden, the big day is here. A book is born. Your
baby is sent out into the world for others to read and discuss and critique. It’s
terrifying and exhilarating all at the same time.
Now, a short four months later, I’ve learned a lot—about readers, about other
writers, about the publishing industry in general. Some of the lessons have been a
piece of cake, others have come on like a toothache, sudden and painful. Here are
five of the biggest.
1. Other writers will be your biggest fans, your loudest cheerleaders, and your
most outspoken advocates. They will organize giveaways and open up their
blogs, their Facebook and Twitter pages, to plug your book. What comes
around goes around. Return the favor, always. If you don’t, next time around
they won’t, either.
2. Speaking of social media, be on it, and be vocal. Even on days when it feels
easier to write an entire chapter about imaginary people than it is to come up
with 140 characters of Twitterlicious text. Readers are on social media, and
they love to talk books.
3. Female writers, especially female writers of romance or women’s fiction,
don’t get taken as seriously as male writers. I know. Shocking, right? Even
though the majority of book buyers, especially in those categories, are
female. It’s not fair and it’s not pretty, but unfortunately, it’s a fact.
4. Writing a novel is the hardest thing ever. To get all ninety thousand words in
just the right order, to come up with twists and turns the reader won’t see
coming, to craft a story that builds in suspense and momentum often feels
impossible. You’ll pull your hair and wear your delete key to a tiny little nub.
You’ll stomp and cry and want to quit a million times. But…
5. …that moment when a reader tells you they loved your story, that they get
your characters, that they went into a book-hangover funk when they
reached The End… That moment makes everything worth it.
About the author
Kimberly Belle grew up in Eastern Tennessee, in a small town nestled in the foothills
of the Appalachians. A graduate of Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia, Kimberly
lived for over a decade in the Netherlands and has worked in marketing and
fundraising for various nonprofits. She’s the author of two novels, THE LAST
BREATH and THE ONES WE TRUST (August 2015). She divides her time between
Atlanta and Amsterdam.