AUTHOR WEDNESDAY -MELISSA MAYBERRY AND TRAVIS CASEY

typewriterAuthor Wednesday presents two authors today. Melissa Mayberry has visited her before to talk about her series, Mellifica. Now she’s collaborated with Travis Casey on the newly released Enemy of My Enemyfilled with suspense, action, and lots intrigue. EOME Front CoverMelissa drops by for an interview today, but first I’ll let her explain how this collaboration came about. As an author myself, I find it fascinating and inspiring that two authors can write together to create a novel. 

Welcome, Melissa! Let’s start by talking about the birth of this project with Travis Casey.

A few years ago, Travis Casey critiqued work for my first series, Mellifica. He seemed to enjoy the story, but I remained a bit skeptical of his praise. After all, that story is a young adult romance. When I returned the favor and critiqued Travis’ book, Trouble Triangle, I fell in love with a rowdy, smart-mouthed sailor named Tyler Chambers. Immediately, I noticed the quality in Travis’ work, but the complexity and depth in his characters captivated me and each week I was anxious for more.

Soon, Mellifica became a series, as did Trouble Triangle. Anyone who has finished a novel can attest to the euphoric rush. We finished our first novels around the same time and became addicted to writing and each other’s stories. At the time, my daughter started writing fan fiction with her friends. They would write one paragraph and the other person would write the next. I liked that idea, but on a less complicated scale. Every writer I know has their “writing bestie” and it wasn’t difficult to know who to pitch this idea to.

Travis accepted the idea as a challenge, and I dug through my list of ideas and proposed the idea for Enemy of My Enemy. Neither of us had written action, but both of us could write a rich character. We created characters for each other, and Travis assigned me to the sass-mouthed Gemma Gage. She was a materialistic woman who ignored a very complex and organized crime spree, simply to reap the rewards. My biggest challenge was that I actually hated the idea of her and her shallow ways. Bringing life, depth, and personal growth to this character took a lot of work. Eventually, I learned to love Gemma Gage and allowed her to survive to the end of the book.

Thaddeus Kline was the project I gave to Travis. After writing such a naughty character in his first series, I threw him a curveball with Thad. Sure, Thad has an agenda to kill, but deep down he was a good guy pressured into a dreadful situation. Thad isn’t a born killer, but he is a quick study when he needs to avenge his woman.

Co-writing this book was a lot like reading a new book. I had a basic idea of who this character was, but no idea how Thad would handle Gemma. Most of the time, I had no idea what Gemma’s responses would be.

Fortunately, sparks between Thad and Gemma flew faster than bullets from an ugly gun.

 

So you began by creating characters for each of you to use in the story. That’s a very intriguing way to start, and it focused on both of your strengths. You said you’ve been writing for a few years now, but when did you first discover your voice as a writer?

In high school, I was a writer for the school paper. Seems silly now, years later, but my creative work was always picked by the editor. Of course, that piqued the artist in me, and I wrote a lot of short stories. Life got in the way, so I stopped writing for a while, and my first novel came to me, and I had no choice but to write again.

And thus began your life as an author. Do you have any writing rituals?

The one that most people find surprising is closing my eyes. Reading my books, you get a lot of personal information, whether you know it or not. When I’m dishing out the embarrassing stuff, I type with my eyes closed.

That’s good. Anything to get it down on the page! Do you have a vision of yourself as a writer?

I often think of writing as an outlet—a stress relief. Not only does work and family stress me, but a story rattling around in my head put a certain pressure on me, and I can’t stop until I’ve let it out. Sometimes, it’s a problem when I have a lot of stories on my mind and no time to write.

Yes, I get grouchy when I can’t write my stories. When things are stressful, I’m often asked, “How can you write during this time?” How can I not write during stressful times? It takes my mind off the reality of my days. You both switched genres with Enemy of My Enemy, to a genre unfamiliar to you and Casey. Why did you decide to try for a thriller? 

When Travis agreed to write with me, we wanted to do something fun. Something with a back and forth banter, but could eventually bring the characters together. Two people that were leery of each other, but with a common goal that fit nicely into an action novel.

Interesting process. I’m a little envious of this collaboration! Do you have a favorite character from this novel?

Well, I created Thad, and Travis created Gemma, but then I had to write Gemma, and he had to write Thad. So, yeah, I do love Thad. I’m all about a gentle bad-boy.

That’s a very attractive proposition for sure. I really love how you came up with the concept. Now, what about the title. How did you choose it?

I have a file of book names that I think of and then build a plot around the title. I don’t remember how this particular name came to me, but Travis liked it, and we made a plot together.

How long do you estimate it took you to take this book from your decision to do this project together to a finished, published novel?

It’s been in the works for a few years. Travis and I had other projects that we worked on and then came back to this one.

Is the book traditionally or self-published? 

We went with self-publishing. Although my publisher is great with the other books, we wanted something we had full control and say over.

That’s what I love about being an Indie Author, too. What is the best thing someone could say about this book?

Oh, I love hearing that it’s fun to read. Writing Enemy of my Enemy was entertaining, and we want our readers to have a good time reading it.

Let’s talk about how it actually worked with the collaboration. The idea came from you, but what about the execution of it? 

Travis and I had very different opinions about this. We have similar writing styles, but very different imaginations. But when it comes down to it, we both write off the cuff, so even our own conceptions changed when the story progressed.

Who is the antagonist in this book?

Bruce Gage. I’m laughing thinking of him because I remember how much Travis hated him from the beginning. Bruce was just a character that you love to hate.

Without giving us a spoiler, tell us a little bit about your favorite scene in Enemy of My Enemy.

I love Gemma’s opening scene. Gemma was being held captive in an unconventional way but Thad inadvertently took care of the problem was pretty cute during that scene.

Thank you for stopping by today, Melissa. I enjoyed learning about how this book came to be. You and Travis are very fortunate to have found in one another kindred writing souls.

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About Melissa Mayberry: In a series of ironic events, Mellifica presented to Melissa Mayberry in such a way that she had to dust off her writing skills and put the story to paper. The story soon became her passion and rekindled her love of writing. Living in the Blue Ridge of Virginia, Melissa works full time as a nurse, student, and mother. Her past will haunt her until the story is told.

610py-pa9bl-_ux250_About Travis Casey: Travis was brought up in Midwest America before embarking on a nine-year Navy career that allowed him to travel the world and learn about life. He has ping-ponged across oceans moving from mainland United States to Hawaii, to Scotland, to Seattle, to England, to Minnesota, to…

His writing is light-hearted fiction writing comedic novels with humor being the focal point binding his stories together. He has written Tyler’s Trouble Trilogy, which comprises three stand-alone novels. The first in the series is Trouble Triangle, a romantic comedy. Followed by the sequel, Oceans of Trouble, where the adventure continues to the Far East in this suspense novel. His third novel, Forbidden Trouble, follows the natural progression into a romance but retains the humor and suspense that readers enjoy in Casey’s writing.

An international move from England to Minnesota inspired the satirical memoir, Foreigner In My Own Backyard. Following that, Travis released the sequel, Foreigner On My Own Front Porch. This real life series takes a humorous look at the American lifestyle as he repatriates himself to the United States after living in England for the past twenty years.

Links: 

Facebook Fan Page 

Enemy of My People – Amazon

Author Wednesday – Mary Ellen Bramwell

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Today I welcome Mary Ellen Bramwell who’s recently published her first novel The Apple of My Eye. cropped high res coverIt could be classified as “chick lit,” but since I believe that doesn’t fully cover the genre of most books, I asked Mary Ellen to elaborate on the genre. She said, “It’s actually a mix of mystery, romance, suspense and family drama.”

Help  me welcome Mary Ellen today to discuss her new release and her current projects. Mary Ellen, let’s discuss your beginnings as a writer. When were you first able to call yourself a “writer” or “author?”

I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember, and I have old notebooks filled with complete and unfinished stories and articles. But it wasn’t real to me until I sold my first article to a magazine. Even then I suppose I didn’t give myself much credit. However, when I was working with the editor to prepare the piece for publication, she commented, “You’re a good writer.” That really struck me, and in many ways gave me the confidence years later to pick up my writing and treat it as a viable profession.

That’s a great moment when that happens, isn’t it? I’m glad it stuck with you. Do you have particular messages or themes that run throughout all your writing?

I love the image of light versus dark. So often, even in dark times, we can choose to focus on the light, the good. That sense of hope is what I want to convey to my readers; I want them to feel that there is always some way to find light.

What are you working on these days?

I write a newsletter about math and science for parents of third to fifth graders. It’s fun, but it also puts me in the right mindset for my next novel. It is called I Am Seven and is the story of one family as seen through the eyes of their insightful seven-year-old son.

That’s great when other parts of your life come together for your fiction. The new story sounds intriguing. Do you have a favorite character that you created?

I wrote a short story called Grandpa that is on my website. Even though it’s brief, the title character has a lot of depth and became very real to me as I wrote it. When the story was finished, he stayed with me in my head for a long time.

That’s when you know you’ve created something special. Now let’s talk about The Apple of My Eye. What’s the best thing said about your new release by a reviewer?

Prior to publication of The Apple of My Eye, I gave it to an English professor to read and review. He actually sent back a long review with one criticism, which I fixed, and a great deal of positive comments. Two things he said surprised and pleased me. He said, “I like the art of this text,” and later commented, “This book has something important to say.” I felt like I had succeeded right then and there.

I can understand why you’d feel that way, and from an English professor, no less. How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

The phrase “the apple of my eye” was one of the first ideas I had for the entire story. I wanted a metaphor – in this case, an apple – that could be woven through the entire book.

People always want to know about the production of novels. How long do you estimate it took you to take the book from an idea to a finished, published product?

The book took me a year to write. I immediately started sending it out to publishers, and I had a book contract three months later. The finished book was published four months after that.

What type of research went into writing The Apple of My Eye?

I spent a long time thinking through a key element in the book. (It would be a spoiler alert to identify that element.) Of necessity, that involved a lot of online research and speaking with experts to make sure what I was presenting was realistic and plausible, although for the sake of public safety, not actually possible. How’s that for a teaser?

Great! I’m reading the book now and it’s still a teaser for me to finish. What do you do during your down time?

I read books, but that’s not really down time – it’s more like continual learning. So, if I really need to relax, I do a jigsaw puzzle.

It’s hard to read something these days without a critical eye for our own writing. I’m so glad you stopped by today, Mary Ellen. I wish you great success with The Apple of My Eye and with your next novel.

DSC_9671 smaller, cropAbout Mary Ellen: Mary Ellen Bramwell has been writing stories since she was ten years old. After working in other fields and raising five children as a stay-at-home mom, Mary Ellen has returned to her first love, writing, working for magazines while completing her debut novel, The Apple of My Eye. She resides in Northeast Ohio with her husband, Allen, and her two youngest children. You can visit her website at www.maryellenbramwell.com.

Click links below to find Mary Ellen:

Website

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Amazon purchase link

 

Book Review Friday – David Lawlor’s “Liam Mannion” series

An author faces a monumental task when writing historical fiction. If one historical fact is wrong or an anachronism appears, the reader is likely to put aside the book in favor of one that achieves historical accuracy tempered with believable dialogue, heightened tension, and sympathetic, yet flawed, heroes.

If you are a reader of historical fiction who requires accuracy, suspense, and flawed, yet heroic main characters, then I suggest you go directly to Amazon and buy Tan or The Golden Grave or both by David Lawlor.

RESIZED TANI read Tan first because it is the first in the “Liam Mannion” series of suspenseful and historical novels written by Lawlor. I interviewed him on Author Wednesday a few months back and was intrigued to learn this journalist writes while commuting to his job an hour each way. This process works to create suspenseful fiction with colorful and unforgettable characters.

Set in England and then Ireland in the year after the end of World War I, Tan explores the war of a closer nature immediately following Liam Mannion’s release from the English Army in 1919. Here’s a guy forced to leave Ireland at a young age because of an act he witnessed after a night of drinking at a friend’s wedding. It’s here where the conflict of the story begins when the evil Webber blames and accuses the young Liam of an indecent act against a virtuous married woman. Webber’s fiction that forces Liam into exile begins a whole series of events that mark Liam for life.

Liam heads to England in 1914 and ends up in the English army fighting in France during the majority of World War I.

When Liam eventually heads back to England after the horrid and putrid rot of dead bodies that made up his memory of the war, he ends up in an insufferable situation, which leads him to homelessness, and then worse, as an officer of the crown as a member of the powerful and often repressive Black and Tan. Liam turns a blind eye to the atrocious behavior of his English comrades, only until it becomes evident that his loyalty to the Black and Tan extracts too high of a rent for clean clothes and warm bowl of soup.

Lawlor captures the uncertainty of the times through the examination of Liam’s uncertain future as he’s thrust into situations beyond his control. Precise and graphic descriptions of life in England and Ireland post-World War I show that despite the end of a tragic war on the mainland of Europe, Ireland faced an even greater war at home with the invasion and intrusion of the Tans.

I fell in love with Lawlor’s descriptions of the setting in Tan as I lost myself in the world of the Irish fighting for their lives and their homeland. Here’s an example of Lawlor’s powerful descriptive talent:

“They leaned against the viaduct’s promenade rail, looking out on their hometown, watching the slow huff of a steam engine as it trundled into the station, the smell of the sea mingling with the coke from Cumisky’s coal yard beneath them.”

Lawlor peppers the novel with descriptions filled with contrasting details that employ the senses to show the reader that the situation and the setting are both beautiful and polluted.

Tan is both tender and violent as the reader is drawn into the abyss of angry revenge and the love and loyalty of friends and family. It also shows that being born into a family does not guarantee such loyalty. The character of the individual breeds the kind of loyalty that would take a bullet and shoot a bullet to protect and exact revenge.

I highly recommend Tan if you like immersing your senses in the past of one hundred years ago on English and Irish soils bloodied from wars and stained with tears.

THE GOLDEN GRAVEI also recommend reading Tan before delving into Lawlor’s second “Liam Mannion” novel, The Golden Grave. Liam is once again in exile in England in 1920 when he runs into a war buddy from the trenches in France. The novel’s conflict is set almost immediately as a group of World War I veterans enter into a dangerous project that involves digging into the battlefield grounds of France to find the pot of gold.

The love and lust affair between Liam and Sabine offers some sexual tension, but also provides a buffer between the tedious task of unearthing the treasure and the trauma all the former soldiers feel upon returning to the arena of so many deaths—some of which they caused.

If the story verges toward romanticism, Lawlor skillfully and abruptly changes the tone with flashes of jealousy and flashbacks of war. He uses contrasts to create vivid sketches of the setting as he does in this scene when the veterans make it back to the small village in Flanders that became their touchstone during the worst days of the war:

“The road ran like a scar across Flanders’ ruined landscape. Amongst the straggling wild flowers and sparse grass patches, the animals watched beneath a noon-day sun that shone bright and pristine. A black rat paused in its scavenging; its head tilted high, the whiskers twitching expectantly as it listened to the soft shuffle of booted feet.”

Liam Mannion is impacted by the war, yet in him Lawlor has created a sympathetic and very human main character. He loves, yet he’s afraid of rejection so he holds back. He’s loyal, yet his temptations lead him to places that test his loyalty. He doesn’t always win those personal battles, but he manages to find his way back to remind us all it’s never too late to find redemption.

The Golden Grave is more graphic and more violent than Tan. The horror of war and its impact on individuals plays a role in the plot, but perhaps the quest for gold to quench an unquenchable greed drives the conflict and extracts tolls far more costly than war. It also points to human failings of the worst kind.

Lawlor’s talent is evident in the fast-paced and moving story of war, greed, and passion found within the pages of The Golden Grave. I’m not one for war stories in general, but The Golden Grave is so suspenseful and action-packed and filled with historical importance that I enjoyed every minute reading this book.

Note to Mr. Lawlor:  I hope there’s a third “Liam Mannion” novel in the works.

Purchase Links:

The Golden Grave: http://goo.gl/qMCTa

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review Friday – Shadow of Eden

Final cover smaller_1Shadow of Eden by Louis Kirby, M.D. is a thriller of a book, but it’s so much more than that.

The different levels run the gambit from our society’s obsession with thinness at any cost to the sway of power and money with an even higher price tag.

I usually don’t read this type of action-packed, plot driven novel. However, after finishing Shadow of Eden in two days because I couldn’t leave it alone, I wonder why I’ve put limits on my reading list. As usually happens, when I step out of my reading pigeonhole, surprising things happen.

At first, the number of characters and the changing names with each new chapter caused some confusion. However, as the layers of the story began to coalesce, I forgot about trying to keep all the names straight and went for the enjoyment of losing myself in the story. While the characters and their traits are important to the story, they aren’t as important as the speeding plot heading for a collision with the climax of the story.

I like the short chapters, too. This technique allows the plot to move forward quickly, and I didn’t have much of a chance to wonder if I knew who everyone was or if I was enjoying the genre or not. Who can stop to analyze when the novel’s train has already left the station and sped around the corner? That’s a good thing for me when I read. As a writer myself, I spend far too much time taking apart the guts of what I’m reading. When I stop doing that and allow myself to be transported into a story, then I know the author has done what all good writing should do. Good writing gives the reader the opportunity to forget they’re reading. Good writing transports the reader into the cockpit of a jet, even though the reader has never been inside of one. Good writing transcends believability because no matter what comes next, the reader has become lost in the setting and conflicts and plot. Dr. Kirby’s writing falls into this category.

Dr. Kirby delved into subject matter that required a tremendous amount of research. His standing as a respected neurologist and founder of a facility specializing in human drug testing gave him very specific knowledge of the body and its reaction to foreign substances; his knowledge of jets, government infrastructure, and corporation duplicity shines through in this novel for a fast read and a vast amount of tracks to explore.

I’m a fan of both Dr. Kirby and the action-packed thriller after reading Shadow of Eden.