Tag Archives: thriller

THE XERCES FACTOR taps into a believable conspiracy mythology

rp_The-Xerces-Factor-FRONT-FINAL-JPEG-198x300.jpgIn The Xerces Factor by Rodney Page, Charles Arrington wakes up in a hospital room. He had lost an arm, an eye, and his wife in an explosion. Certain that the explosion was an assassination attempt on his life, due to some whistle-blowing calibre research he was engaged in, Arrington assembles a team to continue his research and expose the government for their back-door dealings. The stakes are high. Not only are the lives of Arrington and his associates in danger, but so is the country if not the world. Just how wide do the fingers of corruption reach?

The Xerces Factor is interesting and relevant, given the state of world politics today. His prose is easy to read, and his characters believable. If you like political thrillers, you are sure to love The Xerces Factor. Page’s story is contemporary and high-tech, which both piqued my interest and confused me at times. His characters are likeable and believable, and I found myself caring for them and in awe of how much they are willing to risk to expose corruption in the highest tiers of the government.

Admittedly, political thrillers, particularly those delving deep into American politics aren’t my favourite genre. Also, though I’m technologically-minded, I often get lost when I’m given acronyms, numbers, and lots of technological jargon, as I need more hands-on experience than instructional theoretics when it comes to science and technology. But to Page’s credit, I continued to read in spite of this. My overall analysis is that The Xerces Factor is a quick, relevant read, that taps into a conspiracy mythology that is totally believable.

Mamabear gives this book:

three-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Contact Us – Flash Forward meets 24

contact us cover macyImagine everyone in the world sneezing simultaneously, followed by a brief, yet excruciating bout of pain. Then, within 24 hours, most of the world’s population dies in their sleep. And if that weren’t enough, the survivors are contacted by an alien in the guise of Walter Cronkite and given What would you do? Contact Us documents the lives of some of the survivors–top advisor to the president Charli Keller, long since retired and presumed dead former agent Jake Corby, among them–as they strive to discover the cause and meaning of the sneeze, pain, and culling, in order to save the human race.

Contact us was a quick and entertaining read. Part Flash Forward, part 24, the plot–absurd though it was at times–kept propelling me forward. Charli is a strong, female character who takes the lead in the investigation. Jake is far too driven by his emotions, but learns to rein them in when necessary. Cronkite the Alien is a weird character, who, for all of his peculiarities, had me thinking more like Nixon on Futurama than not, but the caricature works; people trusted the real Walter Cronkite–it’s not a stretch to imagine a shape-shifting alien who chooses to look like him in order to gain a similar trust with the people of Earth. Or is it?

Though Al Macy’s story is farcical at times (not usually my cup of tea), I enjoyed the story. The characters–the human ones, at least–are smart and relatable. Even though the population of Earth suffers a culling, the aftermath isn’t necessarily dystopic. Sure they’re at the whim of a psychotic alien, but they’ve been given the blueprints to all of these useless inventions, and now their resources will go further, and the environment will replenish itself, besides.

Contact Us is a contemporary sci-fi that discusses modern themes and offers a horrific solution to our woes. It does what all good fiction must , which is to help us shed light on the shortcomings of our modern world.

Mamabear give this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Interview with author Rodney Page

Britbear’s Book Reviews is pleased to interview Rodney Page, author of Powers Not Delegated and the upcoming Xerces Factor in today’s author spotlight.

The Xerces Factor FRONT - FINAL - JPEGIn The Xerces Factor…

After several months author Charles Arrington had recovered, but recovery was a relative term; he had lost an eye and his right arm when the bomb exploded in his car. However, he would never overcome the loss of his wife, Myra.

Cassandra Martingale, Charles’s long time live-in personal secretary and housekeeper, is determined that Charles will write again and she transforms herself into a taskmaster. Her rehabilitation and physical therapy regimens are a constant source of irritation, but Charles recovers.

He and his best friend, FBI Assistant Director Jack Flannigan, are puzzled when they discover that Charles’s computer had been hacked by someone inside the federal government, someone very interested in the research for his next book, The Thieves in the Pentagon…Corruption that Threatens Our National Security.

Charles concludes that his book was the reason for Myra’s death. He wrestles with his guilt but recommits himself to discovering his wife’s murderer. Marti Foster, the irreverent twenty-something hacker that Charles hires, brings a refreshing and invigorating presence to the household.

Charles enlists the aid of Irving Witzel, an old friend and civil libertarian, to utilize his vast experience as Washington’s premier authority on the Freedom of Information Act. However, Witzel’s efforts to discover the truth are stymied by the administration’s novel strategy…supplying too much information.

Langston Culpepper, a corrupt procurement officer at the Pentagon, is not content with the millions of dollars already defrauded from the taxpayers. His obsessive greed drives him to try to force Barbara Connor, the CEO of a major defense contractor and his lover, to help him do something far more far more sinister than mere theft…he wants to sell America’s most highly classified technology to a foreign power.

President Marshall Norris and a small but loyal group of fellow pacifists stop at nothing to insure that no one discovers their secret plan to share the new Xerces anti-missile defense system with the nations of the world, allies and belligerents alike. The zealots’ naïve intentions degenerate into an out-of-control spiral of lawlessness and cover-ups to hold on to political power.

Charles’s physical condition improves, but he struggles through periodic fits of depression. The quest to find Myra’s killer seems too much to bear. But with Jack Flannigan’s sometimes tough love and the support of a new romantic interest, Charles perseveres.

After Charles writes a scathing expose’ in the Washington Post he and Jack are forced to flee Washington. At the president’s direction Attorney-General Michael Shadburn fabricates bogus felony charges against the two men and dispatches a contract para-military force to apprehend them…dead or alive. However, FBI Director Ted Grambling intervenes, and the hunters become the hunted. The chase ends in Houston, and the president’s scheme begins to unravel.

Haunted by memories of combat in Vietnam, the president’s ardently anti-war chief-of-staff, Frank Marlowe, finally recognizes the president for what he is…a power-mad politician, not the last best hope for sustainable world peace. In an Oval Office speech written by Marlowe the distracted president inadvertently reveals his unconstitutional intentions to a worldwide audience.

The young Chinese-American engineer, Alan Wah, either delivers the super-secret source code for the Xerces guidance system or his family will die. The FBI’s carefully conceived plan to protect the engineer’s life and capture his handler goes awry on the Texas plains between Houston and San Antonio.

Charles discovers who murdered his wife, but it is not who he suspected.

Welcome, Rodney. On your Amazon page, it says you write in the genres of mystery and thrillers. What draws you to these genres?

Good question. When I decided to write my first novel, Powers Not Delegated, I took heed of the classic conventional wisdom: write what you know about. I love history and am a current events junky so it made sense to start there. Also, I’m an avid reader of the genre and infatuated with intricate plot twists and turns.

Does your forty years of business experience figure into your stories? If yes, then how. If no, then why not?

Yes they do, in a couple of ways…

First, in terms of writing style, During my business career I wrote countless business-related documents…business and strategic plans, valuation analyses, operations reports…even a business column for a newspaper and a non-fiction business book. All had several common characteristics: brevity, clarity and succinctness. Though admirable skills, they don’t lend themselves to fiction where character, location and event descriptions are vital to producing engaging narratives. When editing, I, of course, remove a lot of junk and unnecessary words. But I also find myself adding descriptions that make for the richness necessary in a novel.

Second, the years of analytical thinking assist greatly in developing plot lines and characters. I’m a stickler for accuracy and plausibility. Readers want to be entertained, but they also want a book to make sense. Untied loose ends, unexplained character behaviors and nonsensical coincidences detract from the sense of reality I strive to convey.

How did The Xerces Factor project come about?

It was an intentional effort to write a thriller, not a political thriller. It is set in Washington and utilizes espionage, crooked politicians and corruption subplots. However, I wanted to focus more on the characters…how they are personally impacted by the plot rather than vice versa; particularly how the major protagonist deals with his wife’s murder.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

As quaint as it may be: the good guys triumph in the end. Overcoming life’s challenges is a classic and timeless story line. The road is rocky and there are ups and downs, but perseverance, courage and a sense of humor will see you through.

Good vs. evil is a well-known literary archetype. It’s good to know that good can still win once in a while. 

What is your most favourite part of the publishing/writing process? Your least favourite?

Of course, the favorite is writing. The least favorite: editing because it can become an endless process. With each read-through I find things that can be improved. And I am tormented when I send the ‘final’ manuscript to the publisher… knowing a word change here or a rephrasing there would make it better.

At some point we all have to nudge our baby birds from the nest.

What is your favourite motivational phrase and why?

‘It ain’t over till it’s over’…as referenced in #6 above and as I’ve personally experienced, if you ‘hang in there’ a positive outcome is more than likely.

What are your current projects?

Perhaps not an approach I’d recommend for others, but I enjoy working on several projects simultaneously.

Close to completion is The Fourth Partner, a mystery intentionally not set in DC. It features an eccentric detective who solves a cold murder case in coastal Georgia.

Murcheson County is a historical novel that chronicles three families’ (plantation aristocrats, yeoman farmers, slaves) trials, tribulations and interactions in Georgia from 1807 through the Civil War.

Lastly, a yet untitled book about a murder in a mid-size Georgia city in 1962. Though a mystery, the book dwells on the attitudes of the time. Some characters are stereotypical as one would expect in a novel set in the segregated South, but many are not. A very challenging project!

What is the one question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview and how would you answer it?

Question: Why should I read The Xerces Factor?

Answer: The book is fast-based and plausible. The characters are real, not stereotypical heroes and villains; they’re fallible. Their imperfections, strengths and weaknesses and human reactions to the what engulfs them induce the reader to ask, “What would I do under similar circumstances?”

Thanks, Rodney. I’m looking forward to reading your work. Where can we learn more about you and you writing?

| Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads |

 

Full RP shot (1)About Rodney Page…

A Georgia native, Rodney’s business career included a variety of senior management positions and consulting engagements in companies and industries ranging from startups to Fortune 50 firms.

A graduate of the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia, in 2005 Rodney authored Leading Your Business to the Next Level…the Six Core Disciplines of Sustained Profitable Growth, a hands-on guide for companies navigating the perils and pitfalls of a high growth environment.

An avid student of history and political junky, Rodney combined those interests with his lifelong desire to write a novel. His first, Powers Not Delegated, was published in 2012

Rodney’s second novel, The Xerces Factor, will be released in April, 2015. He meshes his knowledge of history and current events to pin a relevant and plausible tale of intrigue inside the Beltway.

Rodney lives in Hendersonville, North Carolina. His passions include hiking, photography, history, reading, and, of course, University of Georgia football.

Interview with author Mark Love

Britbear’s Book Reviews would like to welcome fellow Black Rose author Mark Love and his novel, Why 319? to today’s author spotlight.

Why 319Summary from Goodreads:

There’s a serial killer loose in Metro Detroit, but nobody knows it. Three female victims have been discovered in motel rooms in different suburban cities that surround Motown. These deaths have not captured the media’s attention. The only connection is that each body is found in room 319 and the killer leaves the taunting message “Why 319?” on the bathroom mirror, written with the victim’s lipstick. The nude bodies have been cleaned and neatly arranged. All personal items are gone.

Now an elite squad of detectives has entered the scene. It’s up to them to take over the investigations from the police force and solve the riddle. The detectives know that time is not on their side. If the public learns there is a serial killer at large, will panic set in? Will they be able to figure it out before the killer strikes again?

Buy Why 319? on Amazon, Barnes and Noble,  and Black Rose Writing.

Thanks for joining me today, Mark. What was your inspiration for your last novel?

I’ve always wanted to do a story about a serial killer and the investigation. It was during a brainstorming session with my son, Travis, who also likes to write, when the idea started to take shape. There were many revisions over the time it took to come up with a story that I was satisfied with. That’s where Why 319? came from.

It’s really cool that you and your son brainstorm like that.

What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?

My favorite segment was when I wrote from the killer’s point of view. Since the majority of the story is told from the protagonist, Jefferson Chene’s, perspective, it was a challenge to make that transition. But I’ve had some great feedback on it.  One reader said those sections gave her shivers. I’ll take that compliment anytime.

It’s always fun to think outside the box like that and pen something so far removed from our own perspectives. How about some of that outside the box thinking now? What would your protagonist think about you?  Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator?

I’m sure Chene has more than a few questions he’d like to get answers to. Chene was an orphan, abandoned at birth and raised in a Catholic orphanage. His name comes from the intersection near downtown Detroit where he was found. So the chance to kick back and learn more about his background would definitely drive him.

Do your characters try to create ever more convoluted plots for you?  Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

(Laughs) Oh, they definitely like to make the plots more twisted and challenging! I don’t work with an outline. I have a basic story idea in mind and maybe one or two key characters. I put them in motion and then just run alongside and see what they do. Some of the turns they suggest lead to major plot changes. But I think the result is a much better story.

My writing process is similar, so I know what you mean. Looking forward, What are your current projects?

I’m working on a sequel for Chene.  The main characters from Why 319? are clamoring for more attention.  I’m also trying to work on a prequel for the Jamie Richmond romance-mystery series (Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty).

What other books are similar to your own?   What makes them alike?

I think Michael Connolly’s Harry Bosch novels are similar to Why 319? Like Bosch, Chene has his internal demons but is driven to solve the mystery.  To him, every victim matters regardless of their status in life.

While we’re on the topic of other books, which writers inspire you and why?

As a kid I was hooked on the novels of John D. MacDonald, who wrote the Travis McGee series.  McGee wasn’t your standard hero. He only worked when he needed the money or when it involved someone he was close to. Once the case was done, McGee went into an early retirement mode, enjoying life. MacDonald could coax the reader into the story quickly and throw enough curves at you that you never knew what was coming. Other writers who remind me of him include Elmore Leonard, James W. Hall, Greg Iles, John Sandford and James Rollins. I take inspiration from them to keep writing, keep polishing the story.

Still on the topic of books by other authors, what is your favourite book and why?

Stephen King’s The Stand.  I started reading this epic one evening after work and became so engrossed in the story that I didn’t blink until about three o’clock in the morning. I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before going to work. Later during the day, I was waiting in line at a fast food restaurant when someone behind me sneezed three times. That was the warning sign in the book that someone had the disease that was wiping out humanity. Then next thing I knew, I was in my car with a death grip on the steering wheel.  Since I started writing, it’s been a goal to capture someone’s imagination as well as he grabbed mine.

One of my favourites, too.

Why do you write?

I’ve always enjoyed telling stories. Being able to entertain the readers by writing an engaging story, creating characters and conflicts they can identify with or relate to is not easy, but it’s something I’m driven to do. It’s important to me. I think everyone has talents. Mine is to write a good story, to take you along for an adventure.

Where do those ideas come from?

(Laughs) Inspiration comes from everywhere and nowhere. I’ve gotten ideas for a story from conversations I’ve overheard, from watching people interact in a restaurant, from hiking on a trail or riding a motorcycle down a country road.

What about building your author platform? What’s your view on social media for marketing?

I’m behind the curve on social media and definitely need to catch up. So many people are on it, whether it’s Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest and more, that it’s a great way to reach a larger audience. I just need to find the time to get busy with it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Check out new authors. There are many talented people out there, working with smaller publishing houses who have written great stories.

Truer words were never said, Mark. Thanks for investing your time to do this interview. One last question: where can readers discover more about you and your work?

| Blog | Facebook | Amazon Author Page |

Interview with Teri Lee, Author of “Troubled Spirits”

Please welcome Teri Lee to today’s author spotlight as she talks about her novel, Troubled Spirits, her writing and her writing process.

TroubledSpirits  cover - CopyFrom Amazon:

Annie Waters hates birthdays. At least she hates her birthday, because every year her mother retells the story of her grandmother’s ghostly appearance in the delivery room. But if that wasn’t bad enough, on her sixteenth birthday, she killed her dad.

Forced to move to Shady Cove, Maine, Annie is drawn deep into the world of the supernatural. Tormented by an angry spirit, she has only nine days to unravel the mystery of the Caldwell School or join the spirit world herself.

Buy Troubled Spirits at Amazon US,  Amazon UK, Barnes and Noble,  Smashwords, and KoboBooks.

Welcome to Britbear’s Book Reviews, Teri. I’m curious: from where did the idea for Troubled Spirits come? 

Troubled Spirits was inspired by some of my ER co-workers. They invited me  to join their ghost hunting group. I started to say no, but something stopped me. We only went on one ghost hunting excursion, which was eye-opening for me. But Troubled Spirits was born with just the thought of being part of a group of ghost hunters.

 

That sounds so interesting. I watch so much ghost-hunting on television, but outside of a haunted tour of my city, I’ve never actually ghost-hunted myself. I’m sure the experience you mention above plays some role in it, but how did you originally get interested in writing in the paranormal and young adult genres? 

There’s not much I haven’t seen while working in the ER. It can be fast-paced, intense, heartbreaking, exhilarating and sometimes it makes you say “huh?”. Writing YA paranormal or fantasy is a fun escape. I guess it’s what keeps me ready to face death in one room and a splinter in the next. Plus, I love to scare myself!

Ghosts abound in Troubled Spirits. Do you believe in ghosts and why? Have you ever seen a ghost? If you have, tell us about the experience. 

How can anyone not believe in the supernatural? The shadow that you glimpse out of the corner of you eye. The whispering voice in the dark. The prickle on the back of your neck. The presence in the room right after someone passes away.  My favorite experience involves a quarter. It was 2 a.m. when I made my way to the vending machine in the deserted hospital cafeteria. My quarter slipped from my fingers and rolled away. Instead of ending its trip in a circular tumble, it kept going. Curious I followed it across the room. But when that quarter made a smooth turn through the door and into the main cafeteria, I felt that little tingle on the back of my neck. And I kept right on following my quarter as it travelled past three tables and then made a second turn and came to rest behind a chair. I shivered. Suddenly the cafeteria was freezing. As I bent to pick up my quarter, I felt someone standing behind me. I whirled around. No one was there. My heart was pounding as I dashed from the cafeteria and back to the ER.

What an amazing story!

Back to Troubled Spirits, what was your model for Caldwell School?

The model for the Caldwell School is the Greeley School in Cumberland, Maine. Early in the story I googled ‘haunted schools in Maine’ and Greeley High School popped up. I visited Cumberland a couple times and spoke to the librarian about the rumored hauntings. He assured me that it was all rumor. But that rumor provided a little more inspiration for Troubled Spirits.

What makes Annie Waters a hero in the eyes of your young readers?

Annie doesn’t believe in ghosts until she ventures into the Caldwell School and realizes she has no choice but to believe. Even though she’s terrified and her first instinct is to run away, she doesn’t. She learns about the thing she fears. And when she realizes her friends are in danger, she faces the spirit alone. She’ll do anything to protect her friends.  Learning about the things we are afraid of instead of avoiding them is a powerful character trait. It will make you a stronger person.

Let’s shift our focus a bit and talk about the writing process. What do you think are the most important elements of good writing? What tools are must-haves for writers? 

Writing believeable characters is the building block of a great story. I want my reader to connect with the character so that when they turn that last page they are wondering what happens next in the character’s life. The next step is a story that flows. I try to avoid word repitition or repeating the same information over and over again. I never want my reader to want to stop or be tempted to skip past a section because I’ve repeated what they already know.

Essential tools for every writer- Read, read, read.  Join a critique group!  My critique group is amazing. They bleed all over my submissions with their red ink and I love them for it. They keep my characters in line. They help me trim the slump from my plot. And they encourage me with the occassional “check plus”.  I’d also recommend the book Save the Cat to help with plot development

I love the idea of bleeding on your page with red ink.

Your words will provide inspiration for other writers out there. What about your inspiration?If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?    

I admire so many authors that it’s difficult to choose a mentor, but I guess I’ll say Madeleine L’Engle author A Wrinkle in Time.

Which author would you say has a similar writing style to your own? To which novel is Troubled Spirits similar? Please explain.

Meg Cabot’s The Mediator series is similar to Troubled Spirits. Just like, Annie in Troubled Spirits, Suze has a connection to spirits. While Annie is still learning about her gift, Suze has it mastered. But Annie is learning quickly and it won’t be long before she’s not waiting for the spirits to find her.

So far as a writing style similar to mine….I’m  not sure. I’d like to say that I my writing style is unique to me. But I’d be naïve to not realize that my writing style was formed by the books I’ve read.  I grew up reading lots of Trixie Belden Mysteries as well as Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. I’ve read Jurassic Park seven times!  I speed read through Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli and Isle’s series, thanks to the buy next book button on my Kindle. I love James Patterson’s Alex Cross books…I could go on like this forever, but I don’t think I write like any of them.

What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

I always want to be asked what I’m passionate about. And that’s the power of words.  Once words are spoken or read you can’t take them back. They have so much power!  Each time I go to a school, I  talk about word power. I tell  the story of a young teenage mother that I cared for when I worked as a Labor and Delivery Nurse. All I did was tell her what a good mother she was. About two years later, I ran into her at Walmart. She was working the checkout. I didn’t remember her, but she remembered me. She had someone cover for her so she could talk to me. She thanked me for those words, because they gave her the strength to believe in herself–to finish school and start classes to be a medical assistant. I never imagined the impact those words would have on her. I also talk about the negative power of words. I will be forever impacted by the experience of caring for a young boy who took his own life because of bullying. I will never forget his mother holding his hand, pleading with him to be strong as we tried to bring him back. (I don’t talk about that part at the school)  My challenge to everyone is this: What will your words do?

Speaking of…those are some incredibly powerful words.

What’s next for you? What are you working on now?

I’m working on a few things. Most of my time is spent on the sequel to Troubled Spirits. But I’m also working to clean up a middle grade fantasy that I wrote several years ago. I’m still in love with the story line, but I was new to the craft and made every mistake imaginable. But I’m determined to polish it up and put it into the hands of readers!

Best of luck with it and everything else you mention here. Thanks for doing this interview for me.

Here’s where you can learn more about Teri and her writing:

| Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Troubled Spirits Trailer |

About Teri Lee (From her Amazon Author Page):

teri leeTeri Lee grew up in Maine where she spent hours in the woods with her friends dreaming up imaginary worlds. Together they shared adventures in places such as Land of the Lost, Paradise, and a sliding hill named Trouble.

As an adult, she still loves long hikes in the woods. When she’s not writing, reading or hiking, you’ll find her saving lives in the ER (and removing the occasional tick along with other emergencies).

 

Troubled Spirits add

A Real Page-Turner

cropped high res coverIn Mary Ellen Bramwell’s The Apple of My Eye, Brea Cass leads an idyllic life until her husband is killed in a convenience store robbery. It takes her some time to come to terms with the fact that Paul, her husband, is gone, she begins questioning the official story of what happened that night. The more she probes, the more discrepancies she uncovers, which only leads to more questions, the biggest of which is: was Paul truly an innocent in the event that lead to his untimely death?

I was hooked on The Apple of My Eye from the start. Bramwell’s prose reads like a memoir, adding to the the verisimilitude of the story. Brea is likeable as a sympathetic character made strong by the murder of her husband, the support of her family and friends, and her desire for her son to think of her husband as a hero. Though somewhat of a sleeper at the start, the narrative picks up speed, switching to full-throttle once Brea begins to uncover the seedier side of her husband. It’s her self-conflict, wondering if she ever really knew her husband at all, that keeps the story moving, and I found myself almost as curious as Brea to get to the roots of Paul’s facade.

The Apple of My Eye  begins as a love story and finishes as a mystery-thriller that doesn’t disappoint. Bramwell’s writing is error-free, which helps the smooth narrative. Though the dialogue is stilted in places, Brea seems more real than constructed character, which is testimony to Bramwell’s writing ability. The suspense propels the narrative forward, as it should. The last half of the novel is a page-turner, unlike any I’ve read in a long time. I urge readers to take a chance on The Apple of My Eye; you won’t be disappointed.

Mamabear gives this book

four-bears

 Note: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“The Apple of My Eye” by Mary Ellen Bramwell – Author Interview

Britbear’s Book Reviews is thrilled to feature fellow Black Rose Writing author, Mary Ellen Bramwell in today’s author interview.

cropped high res coverWhen Brea Cass, a young mother, is awakened in the night by the news that her loving husband, Paul, has been shot during a robbery, she is stunned.  Arriving at the hospital to discover he has died shakes her whole world.  When she finally emerges from the fog of her life, it dawns on her that something is amiss in the way her husband died.  What was really going on?

As Brea searches for answers, she discovers things she never knew, things she’s not sure she wants to know.  Delving into the mysteries that surround her brings several questions to the forefront of Brea’s thoughts.  Can I move forward despite heartache?  Am I loved?  Is someone who has made mistakes redeemable?

I asked Mary Ellen with which of the characters in The Apple of My Eye does she most most closely identify?

The main character, Brea. She has moments of weakness, but in the end she is strong and determined to live life on her own terms.

What inspired you to write The Apple of My Eye?

I love book endings that surprise, yet make sense and put a satisfied exclamation point on the book. The idea for the beginning and ending of The Apple of My Eye came, and then it begged to be written.

“A satisfied exclamation point” is a great way to describe a satisfying book ending. How would you describe the genre of The Apple of My Eye? Is this your preferred genre in which to write?

It is a romantic suspense – emphasis on the suspense.  I like writing human dramas filled with mystery. Whether that ends up including a romance becomes apparent as the story reveals itself.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

When I was in 5th grade, my teachers offered an after school creative writing class. I joined it and wrote a story about a tiny girl who lived in a rose. I’ve been writing stories ever since.

So many authors have been writing since childhood, but that doesn’t mean it gets any easier to pen a good story. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

I struggle with slowing down enough to fill out the story. I get anxious to get to my favorite parts.

Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?

They are many and of varied genres: Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice), Richard Adams (Watership Down), James Herriott (All Creatures Great and Small), Markus Zusak (The Book Thief), and the short stories of Oscar Wilde (to name a few).

What a great mix of old and new classic literature.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

It is ultimately a book about love, hope and forgiveness, so I hope that resonates with my readers.

Writing is a creative process, but it’s also a learning process. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That sometimes the story weaves itself. I’ve had holes I needed to fill. When inspiration finally came, the new idea wedged itself so perfectly into the text, it was as if it was there all along.

Great advice for those of us who suffer writer’s block–inspiration does, eventually, find it’s way to us. What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I’m writing a book called When I Was Seven. It is a family drama, full of mystery, as seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old boy.

Sounds interesting. One more thing: what question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?

“Who in your life is most critical to your writing?” I would answer – my husband. He has a chronic illness but can work in small spurts. So, he has taken over the running of the household to free me up to write. A close second would be my daughter. She is an excellent content editor, and takes my work from good to great.

Thank you, Mary Ellen, for your candid answers. 

Readers can check back at Britbear Book Reviews for my review of The Apple of My Eye and guest posts by Mary Ellen in the future, but in the mean time, here’s how you can learn more about Mary Ellen Bramwell and her writing:

| Website | Facebook | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads |

DSC_9671 smaller, cropMary 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.

Buy The Apple of My Eye on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at Black Rose Writing.

Author Interview with Lacy Sereduk about “Discernment”

Britbear’s Book Reviews is thrilled to interview Lacy Sereduk about her novel, Discernment (FREE on Amazon until 27 Dec 14!), in today’s author spotlight.

 

DiscernmentFinalcover D2 cover

In Discernment, Johanna Parks is scared. She’s scared like everybody else; maintaining an income, having a decent relationship, and all the normal things. But Johanna is also terrified. There are things that come in the dark, footsteps outside the door, voices in the night. A life time of suffering from night terrors tells her that it’s normal and it will all be okay when the sun comes up again. As injuries and other-worldly apparitions come more frequently, Johanna realizes, she’s not only visited by spooky sounds, she may even be visited by death itself.

 

I recently had the pleasure to interview Lacy about her novel and writing process.

How did you come up with the title for your Discernment series?

My ex-husband actually recommended it as a title because the underlying issue that the main character faces is how to discern reality from her disorder.

Is there a message in your novel that you’d like your readers to come away with after reading your book(s)?

Even if someone may look and function completely normally on the outside, the internal and unseen fight that they may be embattled with could be very powerful, and at times, overwhelming.

Are the experiences in your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Almost every experience in the book is based on my own real life experiences.  I altered some of them and [the] characters to protect some of the very real people that would have been affected by [a more] accurate telling of events.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your novel(s) to life?

The biggest challenge was [in] reliving some of the most terrifying experiences while attempting to convey them.

Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

I think that my favorite character is Noel.  The main character meets her during a time when she really needs someone to accept her for who and how she is.  Noel represents that there are a lot of people still out there that won’t immediately jump to judgement.

How about your least favorite character?  What makes him/her less appealing to you?

My least favorite character would probably be Scott Millietti.  Even writing about him made me cringe at the type of person he was on the inside.  A lot of women seek stable, supportive relationships and, sadly, run into guys like Scott without realizing just how much of a dirtball they really are.

Who is your favourite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have several favorites, but I’d have to say that Alexandre Dumas is my all-time favorite.  His ability to paint graphic pictures and convey deep emotions in his work is what is most striking to me.

What can we expect from you in the future?

I’m working on finished book three in the series so a few more answers about Johanna’s “hauntings” are likely to come.

What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

The biggest thing that they can do is recommend it to friends and family and continue to help me push the boundaries of getting it more visible to potential readers.

Is there anything else you’d like for readers of this interview to know?

Yeah.  Living a life like the main characters is hard.  It’s terrifying and it’s difficult.  Ultimately, having the power to discern between what you see and what’s really in front of you can mean the difference between life and death.  Any reader that is or knows someone that is afflicted with the same or a similar disorder should know that there is help out there, there are people who believe in what you see, and there’s hope.  For everyone else, I sincerely hope you enjoy the ride.

Here’s where you can find out more about Lacy’s journey online:

| Website | Blog | Facebook | LinkedIn | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads |

Buy Discernment by Lacy Sereduk on Amazon: Book One, Book Two, and The Thirteenth Chapter (short stories about the lives of Discernment characters)

DOWNLOAD DISCERNMENT BOOK ONE FREE ON AMAZON UNTIL 27 DECEMBER 14!!!

sereduk_smallLacy Sereduk is a supernatural/suspense novelist who writes books based on her own life experiences gathered by living with a night terror disorder.  Her first novel, Discernment, set the stage for the following novels that tell the story of Johanna Parks as she attempts to live with the same disorder and not succumb to the challenges she faces.