Tag Archives: 20th century

Book Giveaway on an Awesome Read That is Currently at Sale Price

I have already told you what a big fan of author Patrick O’Bryon I am.
Corridor of Darkness is one of the best books I have ever read.

Right now he is doing an Amazon Countdown Deal, the book is on sale

AND

There is a Goodreads Giveaway in progress.

You just might win a copy, but why wait!? This price won’t come along often and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

finalfrontGoodreads Book Giveaway

Corridor of Darkness by Patrick W. O'Bryon

Corridor of Darkness

by Patrick W. O’Bryon

Giveaway ends February 28, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Surviving Sister: A Melody of Madness

This is a tattered photograph that I have carried around for 43 years since the age of ten. It was retrieved from a scrapbook that my grandma had in an old trunk that held my mother’s personal effects after she died in 1969. The scrapbooks were filled with the sorts of things teenaged girls and young women collect, postcards from places visited, movie and theater tickets, coupons for dancing lessons, pressed corsages, letters exchanged between friends and lovers. On the back it is signed, “Love, Carol.” I don’t know who the intended recipient was supposed to be, but it became the only tangible image of her that I possessed for thirty years.

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My aunt, my mother’s only sister, had a few photographs. They were mostly small pictures taken in their childhood years and there were only a couple that my aunt had of her sister as an adult. There were other pictures, but they were given to my older sister for safe keeping and we became estranged over the years of separation that followed Mama’s death.

In 1997, after coming to Florida and connecting with a cousin, the one who owns Cypress Cove Nudist Resort and Spa, I learned that my uncle, his father, who started the resort back in 1964, had been a photographer with the Miami Herald during the 1950s. When my Aunt Pete, his wife, died in 2000, my cousin was cleaning out boxes in their home and ran across some photographs of my mother and her sister that were taken in their teen years. There is now a vast treasure of black and white 8X10s, and smaller photos of the two sisters. I was overjoyed to be gifted this collection and shared them with my mother’s sister, who was also thrilled.

I want to ask you to take a look at two sets of these photographs that hang on my wall. You don’t know the story of these sisters, Claudette and Carol, but I would like to ask you to tell me if you see anything that hints of a story in these images.

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The images alone demonstrate the differences in these two sisters.  My mother, Carol, a ballerina and dance instructor died of suicide at the age of 26, and Aunt Claudette, a pianist and horticulturist, is 74 years old now.

Carol was a hopeless romantic and a dreamer, and Claudette was a hopeful realist and pragmatic. Carol was cosmopolitan and sophisticated. Claudette was countrified and domestic. Carol, a soprano. Claudette, an alto. Carol was open and free-spirited. Claudette was closed and restrained. As young adults, Carol was dressed in stockings and heels, and Claudette wore jeans and penny loafers.  Both were well educated and cultured in their youth, but their childhoods, teen years, and young adult lives were tumultuous. Music and dance were where they mutually sought solace.

That side of my family is riddled with mental illness and addiction.  Of all the many cousins and aunts and uncles on my maternal side of the family there are geniuses who became entrepreneurial millionaires, and there are paupers who suffered epilepsy, neurological conditions, psychiatric disturbances, multiple tragedies, became institutionalized, or died trying to overcome the obstacle that is madness.  There is a fine line between madness and genius. Mental illness and neurological disorders were cloaked in a veil of secrecy in their era and still have a degree of stigma associated with them that needs to be overcome.

Very few were able to walk the middle of the road, but the strength found in faith, time, and modern science and medicine has made a huge impact. My aunt is one of those who did, although she had severe issues with bipolar and addictions.

I had a brief adventure with drugs and alcohol between the ages of 17 & 19, but addiction was never a problem for me. I was hospitalized for an acute psychotic episode when I was 19, and have been on medications for bipolar and in therapy ever since that event. I drink socially on rare occasions but the experiences of me and my aunt have paralleled many times…either on a personal level, vicariously, or through my patients in my nursing career. My moods are relatively stable now. I am still “driven” at times and “depressed” at times, not to extremes, but such has not always been the case. I would like to tell my story someday, but not before I tell the story of the two sisters, my mother and my aunt.

When I wrote “Red Clay and Roses”, I was telling a story that was wrought with historical tragedy and the serious issues of racial tension and reproductive rights and responsibilities. I wrote passionately about events I witnessed personally or events that had been shared with me by others who had lived the experiences. I did not set out to write a novel by a specific formula or template. I documented a harsh reality. It was open and candid. I have never been one to shy away from that which is painful or shameful. A wounded society does not heal itself by looking the other way, and neither do individuals. At the same time, I tried to be as unbiased as possible and approach these unapproachable issues with sensitivity. On that level, I feel it was successful.

In addition to numerous short stories, I have three works in progress. One is a crime novel. I am about 30,000 words into it and my husband, who reads them daily, loves it. I feel that it is superficial and shallow, amusing and entertaining in its own way, but I am not certain that it carries the weight that makes me comfortable in my own writing skin. Another is a murder mystery. It is more a psycho thriller than a crime novel and I am about 15,000 words into it. I liked the beginning of it, but it doesn’t seem to be going in the direction that I planned for it. Sort of hard to explain, but it, again, doesn’t flow with the passion from the pen that I feel most comfortable with…it feels forced and I am beginning to see that in the way that it reads.  At any rate, I am not so sure that this genre of crime/murder is where I need to be right now. I don’t feel like I am in my element. Perhaps this is something that I can come back to at some future point. The final work is an autobiography of sorts that is almost unbelievable as a memoir.  It is a complex life that I have lived in foster care, an orphanage, on the street, in the islands, small town USA, the countryside, the nudist resort, and the big city. So I am not sure what to do with this either, whether to continue it or shelf it for a while.

Which brings me to questions that I need your help with. It seems to be the passion that I felt when writing “Red Clay and Roses” that I am missing.

For those of you who have read “Red Clay and Roses” (A fictionalized true story set in the 1950s-60s, but involving relatives on my father’s side of the family), you already know that Carol is mentioned twice in that story…once by Hannah in relating her memories of her mother and her mother’s death, and again by her cousin, Sybil, in relating the death by suicide of her cousin, Henry’s, wife, leaving three little girls with no mother.

If I decide to write this book, I would approach the writing process much differently, not as a fictionalized true story being told to a narrator, but as pure fiction (which is always, in part, based on some truth).

Without knowing the details, do you think the story of Claudette and Carol is one that you would find interesting? Particularly, how Claudette coped in the long run to turn her life around. I have been all over Amazon reviews this past week and there seems to be quite a market for this sort of thing as well as the era…people are saying that they are too old to enjoy the drama of Paris Hilton, and too young to relate to the 1930s and 40s, about which so much is written.  Finding and connecting with these people will be another challenge.  People my age and ten years older are beginning to retire, have the time to read, and they are dissatisfied with what is on the market.

As a family saga, beginning in the mid-fifties and moving into the mid-nineties, do you think this story would make a worthy sequel to “Red Clay and Roses”?

For those who have not read “Red Clay and Roses”, what are your thoughts about “Surviving Sister: A Melody of Madness”?

Book review: “Corridor of Darkness” by Patrick O’Bryon

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A stellar read!  Masterfully crafted and exceptionally well executed, the eloquent prose and rich descriptions easily carry the reader into a creatively imaginative world of pre-war Germany and the adventure and thrill to be discovered there.  This contemporary author has created the best example of “show” not “tell” that I have seen in twenty years. (Okay, I am telling my age here.) You “see” the emotion and “feel” the tension from the words as well as develop a sense of time and place. It is not merely what the characters are doing, but how they live and act or react in their space that becomes apparent in the words.

I don’t usually open a book review with gushing lines of praise, but this one is truly exceptional. I found this book fascinating in many ways, but the inspiration for its development is particularly interesting.  I don’t reprint book descriptions, but I want to take just a moment to tell you a little backstory. This is from the author’s own blog:

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Leonard L. O’Bryon

“In the fall of 1929 a young New York banker came to Berlin to study finance. The collapse of Wall Street convinced him to stay and pursue a doctorate in history. While Hitler rose to power the American became a favored guest of the old aristocracy, risked his life probing the most dangerous boroughs of the city, witnessed Communist street demonstrations and Nazi rallies, instigated a duel, and pursued the rescue of Jewish friends from under the eyes of the Gestapo. He went on to spy for his country.

That seeker of adventure was Leonard L. O’Bryon, my father. Inspired by his newspaper reports and private journals, Corridor of Darkness tells the story of dashing Ryan Lemmon, on assignment in Nazi Germany for the State Department. It is now 1938, and Ryan must discover his own dark side to counter the murder, treachery, and torture threatening a former girlfriend, and allow him to escape with a secret which could change the course of history.”

 

The author, Patrick O’Bryon, is a self-proclaimed Europhile who knows Germany, has lived there, studied and worked there.  Former academic in the field of Germanic Studies, Princeton Ph.D., interpreter and community liaison with the US Army in Germany.

The passion with which he writes is influenced by all of the above and I believe that is what separates “Corridor of Darkness” from the typical, pre-war German espionage novel. Already with the Awesome Indies Achiever’s gold Seal of Excellence, this book is destined to become a Best Seller!

Now, on to the review:

I loved this book so very much that I was compelled to read it twice.  The writing style had me enraptured from beginning to end. I was so taken by it that I wanted to study the techniques employed. I thoroughly enjoy a read that encourages me to think deeply on both the writing and the story.  The author has a powerful and confident writing voice. The eloquent prose serves well to set the reader into another time and place. The 20th century historical value alone makes it a worthy read, but O’Bryon gives us so much more.

Breaking away from the overdone linear style of the tired traditional spy novel, O’Bryon employs the technique of analepsis, or flashbacks, remarkably well. I loved the way the first half of the book ebbed and flowed with rich, fully fleshed out stories inside of the story. The action was well paced. As the plot and subplots unfolded, the characters, as well as their motivations, became very clear and real to me in a pre-war German world that was beautiful, exciting and dangerous.

This book offers all of the elements of a great novel, intrigue, historical value, adventure, thrill, mystery, espionage, violence, romance, lust, and love. Ryan Lemmon is dashing, clever and daring. His nemesis is despicable. Moving from pre-war Germany to the atrocities of Nazi Germany that led to imminent war, O’Bryon revs up the pace as Lemmon races across the countryside using wit, charm, weapons, and muscle in an effort to save his friends and their families and get intelligence back to America. The pace change lends a sense of urgency that was well timed.

I would give “Corridor of Darkness” a much higher score than 5 stars were it possible, and highly recommend this book. This historical thriller will leave you breathless and wanting more.  The author also sets up what is yet to come, so be sure to read the Epilogue, Afterword, and the Prologue to the much anticipated sequel, “Beacon of Vengeance”.

Visit with Patrick and read some other writing of his at his blog here: http://patrickwobryon.com/

Writing & Publishing: Would You Have Done Anything differently?

Truth is: I did not sit down and say, “I am going to write a novel.” Or, “I am going to sell books.”  I feel being candid about my personal experiences with these processes of writing and publishing is the best way to help other aspiring authors. I deeply admire and respect all of you who have authored books. Yesterday, I made a post about my progress with getting my paperback version accomplished.  That post prompted more questions which I am attempting to answer in this post.

First: What is “Red Clay and Roses” about?

Red Clay and RosesGeorgia, the elbow and the armpit of the Southern U.S.A post-Civil War. Jim Crow Law is enforced keeping the black and white races separate. A century after the Civil War started, nearly two lifetimes later, battles are still being fought in the 1950s and 60s.  Major changes are introduced in the South.  Follow an African American family’s trials and tribulations and an interracial couple’s struggle to face an unaccepting society in this faction novel, “Red Clay and Roses”, by S.K. Nicholls.  An engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during this era, one that slices right down the middle of serious women’s issues and racial issues that our constantly evolving society continues to encounter today.

You can also read a more detailed book description on my novel page here  or at Amazon.

I don’t want to belittle the work effort that went into this project, it was enormous, or the work effort of other authors, but I want to tell you, honestly how this went for me:

  1.  As I have mentioned in my interviews, I wrote a factional account of events that occurred in other eras, a fictionalized true story. After a year on the shelf, I shared it with many friends who encouraged me to publish. They were teachers, nurses, college professors, family, friends and colleagues.  A couple of these people are even authors.  Retrospectively, to spend the time to creatively develop the writing into a formulaic novel template did not occur to me.
  2. When I made the decision to publish, I was clueless.  I did not have a blog. I had researched some, but honestly, if I knew then what I know now, I would have been too intimidated to put it out there.  I did it. I put it out there.  It won’t be unpublished simply because it is not my best possible work.  It will remain there as example of my earliest writing.  It is a good story.  It is not bad writing, but I know that it is not the best I can do.  The publishing process for the eversion was simple in comparison to the paperback.  If I had it to do over I would have had them published by the same company at the same time.  I think that would have simplified the paperback process.  I would have also passed the MS through the hands of a couple of professional editors BEFORE publishing, not after. Revision and final editing was done recently, rather than before the publication of the eversion in March 2013.
  3. To date, I have sold 110 copies since March 23rd.  Most of those were sold on Amazon and through smashwords the first three months after publication.  I had thought it was selling better on Amazon than smashwords but my data shows me that smashwords and all of the other retail platforms combined (according to my independent publisher) have sold 58 copies, and Amazon 52.  Technically, Amazon is the single best retailer, because smashwords figures are combined with all of the others (B&N, Kobo, Apple, Sony, etc…).  I had no plans to get rich, or even be a best seller, so I am not disappointed. At least 110 people now know the true story that I wanted to tell, and they know of the sacrifices real people made to get us where we are today.  Would I like to sell more? Of course.  I want the story told.
  4. I set out to document a story. I did not set out to make a name for myself as an author.  Seriously, I wanted the story recorded for posterity.  I truly did not intend for it to be entertaining.  People might ask, “If not to be entertaining, then why write?” It was written to encourage others to think about harsh realities of other eras and to reflect on their personal indoctrinations and belief system.  Is it entertaining? The reader would have to decide. I am sure parts of it are. Parts of it will make you think deeply.  It is supposed to. It is an engaging read that explores the harsh realities of living in the South during the 1950-60s, and during the Civil Rights Movement. It will force you to examine your own belief system and come to understand the origin of a hatred we still seek to eradicate. It speaks to women’s reproductive rights and responsibilities.
  5. Specifically, what would I have done differently about the writing process, the technical aspects of putting a novel together?
  • There would have been no separate Introduction or Conclusion chapters. Possibly, there would have been a prologue introducing the ledger and The Good Doctor via Hannah Hamilton and her visits with Ms. Bea.
  • The first two chapters regarding Ms. Bea, and the first two chapters regarding Moses Grier, would not exist in their current form, but parts of their stories would have been incorporated into the remainder of the book.
  • The entire book would have been written in third person omniscient, using fewer dialogs and more show than tell. A craft aspect of writing that I am seriously working on developing.
  • The first chapter would have opened with the action of Althea’s tragedy and the reactions of all involved.

I will publish an authored work again, I am certain, but it may be years down the road.  I will also do things differently with regard to both the writing and publishing processes.

If you are interested in the book, the paperback should be ready within the next two weeks, realistically, and I will post the “gone live” date.  For Read Tuesday, the eversion will be available through Amazon for 99 cents during the week of December 8th-14th.  I would have made it free, but Amazon makes it so difficult, I have learned from experience, to go back up to your original price when you do that.