Truth is Stranger than Fiction–You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

Fabulous debut author Donnell Ann Bell is here today with a fun post. She’s waaay too modest to tell us about her September release–her first sale!–so I’ll do it for her :).   The Past Came Hunting went on sale 9/15 from our very own Belle Bridge Books, so Donnell is one of Deb’s authors. The story was originally titled Walk Away Joe, and was a 2007 Golden Heart finalist (one of two GH nominations Donnell racked up on her road to getting published!) She’s a tireless volunteer for various writing organizations and just an all around terrific person. Can you tell I’m a fan? For more about Donnell see her site at

I love to read newspapers for possible plot ideas. USA Today is one of my favorites because it covers so many regions. But keep in mind a plot can’t be overcomplicated, and that I write suspense and not fantasy, so the ideas I come up with have to be plausible. What’s more, readers have to buy the scenario.  But seriously, sometimes you can’t make this stuff up!

Case in point: One of the articles I read told the story of a runner, who out on her morning jaunt encountered a rather angry fox. During said encounter the fox bit the woman in the foot.

This very smart, brave, thinking woman grabbed the rabid little beast by its neck and then managed to run with it back to her car. (Now the article didn’t depict the entire scene, but can you imagine?)

Once at her car, she tossed the frothing little animal into her trunk and drove to the hospital. When she reached there, she enlisted the help of a security guard.  Brer Fox attacked the guard and bit him, as well. Then runner and guard were taken to the emergency room and given rabies vaccinations because our esteemed fox did, in fact, have the disease.

The story reminded me of Blue Moon by Lori Handeland.  Her protagonist cop is bitten by a wolf that attacks her at an accident scene. For some reason the protagonist doesn’t turn into a wereworlf, but everyone around her bitten by the wolf does, and that results in Ms. Handeland’s very cool story.

But as I said, I don’t write fantasy. Who knows? Maybe Lori read USA Today, too!

How about you? Have you ever read an actual account and thought, hey, you can’t make this stuff up??? I’m giving away a copy of The Past Came Hunting to one lucky commenter today!

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41 Responses to Truth is Stranger than Fiction–You Can’t Make This Stuff Up!

  1. Minna says:

    How about the one red paperclip guy? He started swapping stuff and he started out with one red paperclip and ended up with a house.

    • Donnell Bell says:

      Minna, I’m gonna have to google this one. Darn, what happens if someone needs a paperclip and he pulls one from the siding, does the house fall down? It’s called the paperclip effect 🙂

  2. Kylie Brant says:

    How about the two Homeland Security officials who were injured at the General Services Administration building by–get this–an exploding toilet 🙂 Due to a mechanical problem there was high pressure in the domestic water supply, causing the injuries.

    • Donnell Bell says:

      Kylie, sounds like Seattle during its founding days. They built the city at sea level and when the tide came in if someone was sitting on the toilet…you guessed it… they were literally lifted off the toilet. Yep, you can’t make that up because it’s a true story.

  3. We were driving on I-95 in Florida. Husband pointed to a guy hitchhiking. Guy was sitting on side of on-ramp with a sign. Said the same guy was there yesterday in the same spot with the same sign. We decided he was an undercover cop because within 24 hours, he would probably have gotten a ride. From there, a full story developed about a woman who stops to give him a ride, but he doesn’t really want a ride.

    and this…hairdresser, was killed when her car exploded after fumes, caused by chemicals mixing with hydrogen peroxide leaking from a bottle of hair bleach, ignited as she lit a cigarette

  4. Donnell Bell says:

    Hi everyone, and Kylie, what a nice warm welcome! I’m on the road this morning and will check in this afternoon. but I just love stories these stories when truth is stranger than fiction. Heck, ever no a writer who was rejected because the editor couldn’t buy that. 🙂 Houses, exploding toilets, and, Cyndi, that’s just priceless and the reason I never took up smoking 🙂 See you this afternoon!

  5. Laurie G says:

    Young men celebrate HS graduation by swimming in Lake Okeechobee, FL. One of the young men thinks he can wrestle an alligator looses his arm.

    Woman sits by the side of a canal in Florida and dies from and alligator attack.

    Cat burglar robs rich in high rise apartments around Miami, FL. I’m not sure if they caught him yet.

  6. lois greiman says:

    Welcome Donnell. Love the ideas everyone.

  7. pearl says:

    Great post. An adventure trip to the mountains of S.A. ends up in the guide and hikers being killed by a freak mudslide. A nightmare of huge proportions. Could hardly believe this when I read the entire story written by the surviviors.

  8. CateS says:

    The man who approached tellers at the Eastern Bank in South Boston on Aug. 25 eventually fled empty-handed, but only after one teller had refused his order for “all your money” (she told him she was “closed”) and another had scolded him for breaking into the front of the adjacent line and for not removing his hoodie. [Boston Globe, 8-27-2011]

  9. Am hauling old deck wood to dump today. Would rather have burned (as I confess to a pyromania trait to my personality) but old deck wood contains a chemical called CAC. When this wood is burned, it leaves a concentrated arsenic in the ashes. I’m wondering about using that arsenic ash as a tool of murder! But it’s against the law to burn this wood and it is a health hazard. But let your murdering mind run with all those possibilities!

  10. Leanne Banks says:

    Welcome Donnell! Congratulations on your release!!!!!!! And you are SO right that truth is stranger than fiction. If we tried to turn in some of the true stuff that happens, our editors would laugh and say NO WAY!. What about the guy that got super-glued to the toilet at Walmart? Poor guy……

    • Donnell Bell says:

      Leanne, thanks for the welcome & the congrats. I missed that one. If you’re still reading I’m dying to know his reasoning behind gluing the superglue to the toilet. too funny!

  11. Welcome, Donna!

    Many of my books have been inspired by news reports. One of my favorites–THE NIGHT REMEMBERS–came from a report that a man had been discovered and evicted after 3 years of living in an elaborate hole in a park in Minneapolis. He was an American Indian Vietnam vet. You know how cold it gets here in the winter? He was insulted when he was described as a homeless man. He took homeless people in. He had a guest room!

  12. Quilt Lady says:

    Oh wow these are some great stories here. I don’t read the newspaper to ofter so I don’t have one.

  13. Keri Ford says:

    Hey Donna! and well, I’m feeling like a loser. I can’t think of anything even though I’ve heard some nutty stuff before. I know I have. *sigh* I should pay more attention when the hubby talks. 😉

  14. LSUReader says:

    Your post brings to mind the non-fiction book THE CORPSE HAD A FAMILIAR FACE, by mystery author/Miami crime reporter Edna Buchanan. As I recall, there were quite a few “you can’t make this stuff up” moments. Congrats on your book. And I have to mention…love your dog!

    • Donnell Bell says:

      Thank you, LSU, Reader. that’s coach, and he’s a survivor. He was ran over by the Christmas light guy, and he toughed it through and survived. We named him after our boys’ coach, who for some reason wasn’t flattered. I never understood it 🙂

  15. Cindy Gerard says:

    Welcome Donnell and I am SOOOOO happy to help you celebrate the release of for first novel!! Kudos and congratulations and I can’t wait to buy it!

    Just watched 27 Hours – the true story about the hiker who fell in a crevice and got his arm caught and eventually had to cut his own arm off. OMG. Riviting – and yes, stranger than truth.

    I happen to turn to Newsweek and Time and US News and World reports for a lot of my story ideas and I’m the proud owner of several issues that I have ‘borrowed’ from a doctor or dentist office waiting room that I found too intriguing to leave behind. Please don’t send the waiting room police for me. I’ve already had a run in with the hummingbird police this month :o(

    • Donnell Bell says:

      Hi Cindy, waving madly, and I LOVE that story of the man’s heroics. Just my luck, not that I would ever be brave enough to cut off my arm, the minute I did so, help would arrive. No, but Homeland Security might just place a undercover US marshal to follow you to your various appointments

  16. Donnell! Congrats on your release and LOL at the fox story. I read a story recently about a two year old ruining his mom’s drug deal when he pulled the trigger on a loaded shotgun and blew a hole in the roof of her minivan. Thankfully he didn’t shoot his brother sitting next to him. You really can’t make up stuff like this 🙂

  17. Donnell Bell says:

    Oh, these are hysterical, ya’ll. And thanks for the congrats on The Past Came Hunting. I’m learning so much as a debut novelist. Okay, I have one more for you, and this happened in El Paso County, while I was touring the jail. Actually it falls under You Can’t Make this Up and Dumb Criminal story.

    Two inmates decided they were going to break out of the jail, and their escape involved making it all the way up to the roof. What they planned to do when they made it was anyone’s guess. After all, it’s only “seven floors.” Anyway, a deputy who was pulling into the parking lot at the time of the great escape saw the two and just shook his head. He took out his rifle from the trunk, aimed it at the two and told them to hold up, radioed for back up to come get the prisoners off the roof and escorted them back to their cells.

  18. Hello Cindy and Donnell!

    A judge told me this story. No, I wasn’t in court, I was at a party. :-))

    A guy broke in through the roof of a grocery store after hours. He sat on the concrete floor to drill into the safe. Sitting on his wallet was so uncomfortable, he put his wallet on the desk next to him.

    You guessed right! The guy left his wallet.

    He went to a bar with friends to celebrate his success. He paid with his newly acquired cash. Didn’t miss his wallet. By the time he got home, the police were waiting.

    Ah — a happy ending!

    Donnell — I know THE PAST CAME HUNTING will be a fabulous read! I can’t wait to dive in!

    It will be such fun to feature you on my Pubbed Margie Grad Blog on Oct. 12th!

  19. Donnell Bell says:

    Thanks, Margie, I’m looking forward to it. Yep, when it comes to dumb criminals, maybe we can make this stuff up

  20. readergirl10 says:

    No I have not read articles like that but some stories I’ve heard sound so much like a plot for a soap opera.But they turned out to be real.

  21. Donnell Bell says:

    Hi, Readergirl. Strangley enough even soap opera writers get their material from real life. One of the writers who won an award thanked her family for giving her so much material. You really can’t make all this stuff up 🙂

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  23. donnas says:

    I have. And some of those are really the ones that make me laugh and pick up my day the most. Thanks for sharing!! Congrats on the release it sounds great and I look forward to reading it.

  24. debradixon says:

    Well don’t I feel stupid. My husband wandered by tonight and said, “Did you stop by Top Down today? One of your authors is there as the guest.” LOL! Good boy, hubby!

    And “duh” to me for not noticing. I’ve had my head down lately just trying to keep pace with our fabulous releases like Donnell.

    Donnell– Thanks for such a great blog. And reminding us to *look* for stories, to let them find us.

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