Thursday, June 12, 2014

Death Approaches in "The Seduction of Braulio Jules"

Are you ready for a subject exploration of disastrous proportions?  Are you ready for death, political machinations, and mayhem?  The book review today focuses on a topic that is all too real in our present day - what to expect when the Baby Boomer generation retires.  Will a New Deal experiment crash and burn in ugly turmoil or will there be a resolution to the Social Security question?

And what will that resolution entail?

In Tim Treanor's The Seduction of Braulio Jules, we get to explore just that.  Please join me today on a tumultuous trip to Washington D.C.

Book Blurb:
Did you think the Government shut down was bad? Well now it's time to pay the check.

For eighty years, the Social Security Trust Fund - which was designed to make certain that America's seniors had a pension - has been loaned out to the United States. In The Seduction of Braulio Jules it's now 2018, and with the massive baby boom generation retiring, we need that money back. But the U.S., already trillions of dollars in debt, is in no position to repay. And Medicare - health care for older Americans - is headed toward bankruptcy.

For some - a billionaire industrialist, a Strangelovian scientist, and an affable politician with a taste for blood - the answer is obvious: a plague designed to wipe out the baby boomer generation. But in order to carry out their scheme, they need to incubate a virus in the body of someone with an extremely rare blood type. And they need not just his body. They need his cooperation.

Discover, with Braulio, how evil progresses: one step at a time.

My Review:
Don Delano rubs shoulders with some of the most powerful people in Washington D.C.  He's also secretly working behind the scenes with a small group of very important people - powerful businessmen and women and political leaders who are trying to resolve the looming crisis that threatens the very fabric of the Union.

How to account for the mass retirement of Baby Boomers.  Expectations are certain that this generation will overwhelm the already taxed Social Security and Medicare systems.  Chaos is coming and no one wants to accept responsibility.

Dr. Gary Sanders is working on a solution - an unorthodox solution that, if discovered, would threaten the delicate sensibilities of the populace.  He's run into problem after problem trying to get his formula right, but time is running out and his benefactor only has so much patience - even though money is no object.

Amidst the crisis, a sudden shift in succession brings the one man into the Oval Office who just might be willing to do whatever is necessary to avert financial Armageddon - by causing one of his own.

The beginning of the story had me immediately enticed.  The stakes were high.  The possible solutions to the crisis had the potential to create a firestorm no matter which side of the fence people hung onto.  It presented a clear case of no-win scenarios for our characters.  I liked that.

However, about halfway through the story began to nosedive.  The excitement dwindled.  The pace crawled.  The whole story felt bogged down.  The characters did not seem to stay true to themselves, particularly in the case of Don Delano's stepson, Ned.  Motivations became disjointed.  The entire story shifted away from D.C. to upper-state New York and the cast of characters I'd enjoyed up to that point pretty much disappeared from the narrative and were replaced by caricatures.  Then I came to the end and it was like having the book jerked out of my hands and slammed into a wall.

I realize this is a trilogy and sequels are planned, but most tend to have at least a smidge of resolution or come down from the cliff before enticing the reader to wait for the next in the series.  This door slam basically made me put my Kindle down and go what was that all about?  I felt no sense of desire to continue on with the story by that point and really only finished this one for the sake of review.

There were several situations within the political sphere that did not ring true for me, notably the suspicious activity surrounding the President and his physician while in a foreign country and the rapid appointment of a successor (and I don't want to say anything more specifically to avoid spoilers).  So many things that would have taken months and months in reality seem to take mere days here.  The political machine is a very, very slow-moving wheel.  I realize this is fiction, but these things were just too far beyond realistic for me to swallow, even in a novel.

However, point-of-view remained fairly tight within scenes.  Mostly showing of the events as they were happening with very little telling, which is a plus in my book.  This helped keep the beginning moving along at a very nice pace.  The politics of the characters were grayed, without either side of the aisle being all praised or conversely demonized, which I found to be refreshing and more realistic to the D.C. scene.  I think it would help this novel appeal to a broader audience than the typical political thriller.  And like most thrillers, there's a heavy dose of rough language at times - just an FYI.

For the exciting beginning, timeliness of subject matter, and fairly clean structure I'd rate The Seduction of Braulio Jules a three star.  Oh, and I really love the cover!  You can click and purchase the novel for your Kindle at Amazon for the reasonable price of $3.99.  It is also available in paperback.

Author Bio:
Tim Treanor (1951 -- ) was born in Buffalo, New York, where he became a lawyer and a self-proclaimed "foot soldier" in local politics. He has served at all levels of government -- County, State and Federal -- and in the Executive and Legislative branches. He is currently a trial attorney for the Federal Government, and has tried cases throughout the country (and the Virgin Islands). He is a senior fellow in the Excellence in Government program.

When not practicing law, Tim is a playwright ("Murder in Elsinore," "Dracula. A Love Story.") and the senior theater critic for He has written nearly five hundred reviews of professional theater, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the American Theatre Critics Association and an O'Neill fellow.

Tim has been working on "Life and Death", on and off, for twenty-five years. "What I have seen in Washington, and in politics in general, is that we lie to ourselves to avoid making hard choices," Tim says. "We tell ourselves bedtime stories and kick the can down the road."

"The Seduction of Braulio Jules," the first novel in the "Life and Death" series, is not a bedtime story. "It's a story about what we do when we're confronted by reality," says Tim. "We delude ourselves even harder, and there's always somebody who's prepared to make it easy for us to do so."

Follow Tim on his website

Monday, June 9, 2014

A Trip to the Coast to Visit Jen Lemons

Today's author interviewee has her debut novel out and sounds like something I'd be interested in - that is, if I can ever get to it.  In the meantime, however, she's graciously agreed to an interview to give us some insight into the road to becoming a published author.  Welcome Jen Lemons!

DAB:   Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

JL:        I actually pondered this question while working on Initiation. If you had told me when I was younger I would grow up to be an author I would have laughed in your face. Because of essays and reports in school I HATED writing. But looking back I realized that wasn't true. Any time we were given a free write or write-a-story prompt I would bury myself into the assignment, even using my breaks and/or recesses to finish them. I remember an assignment during my sophomore year in HS was to write a two page fable and mine turned in to a forty page novella. So it's always been there I just didn't like the rules and it wasn't until I got the idea for Initiation that I realized writing was my passion and calling and that now I had the freedom to write what I wanted.

DAB:   This sounds so much like something my son would say.  Where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

JL:        Ha. The inspiration for Initiation was a doozy. You can find the full story on my "About Me" on my website but I'll give you the bridged edition. 

It began one hot August afternoon in 2008, right in the front seat of my maroon, ’95 Mazda MX6. I was outside my sister’s work, waiting to pick her up, (because I’m such an amazing sister) when I got a little bored. I got my iPod outta my pocket, stuffed the earplugs in my ears and cranked up the volume full blast just to pass the time. As I zoned out to the music, my mind skipped happily over to imagination land where it likes to spend most of its days. Visions of me being a phenomenal dancer are its favorite fantasy to concoct while music is playing and that day was no exception. “Move It Like This” by the Baja Men popped on and my fantasy self materialized into a parking garage wearing a black sweater and black leather pants. I thought, “Hunh, weird, but at least my butt looks good” and let it play out. So there I was, dancing in my sexy pants when all of a sudden Will Smith joined me. The two of us had a dance off. Will laughed at my skills and mocked my moves and it ended with us just laughing the whole thing off. Fun time. But sadly the song ended and so did the fantasy. At that point I paused my iPod and pondered this crazy event. And by ponder I mean I sat there and was like, “What the hell was that?” and then just dismissed it because my sister got into the car and we drove off into the sunset. Fast forward three weeks. I sat outside my sister’s work, once again displaying my awesome sisterly skills. Couple minutes in I get bored and go straight for my iPod. I shuffle around the songs and come to “Move it Like This”. I laugh to myself, hit play just for fun and close my eyes. My mind torpedoes to the old fantasy except its a little different. This time Will and I were in a warehouse littered with crates and old rags, he still in his suit and I in my sexy pants and now a white button down with a black sweater vest (don’t ask). So we start dancing and choreographing this awesome dance, moving and grooving in perfect unison when Robert Downey Jr. pops in, wearing an all-black suit and red tie. Like all musicals, RDJ knew the choreography and seamlessly blended into our routine. At this point I start cracking up (his dancing was pretty bad) and immediately turn off my iPod, accepting I’d finally lost it. What the hell was going on with me? Luckily my sister came for distraction and we went home. 
From there my mind was assaulted by images of us fighting, shooting, and making things explode and I realized these were scenes of a story. I grabbed a notebook, wrote JAX across the top and flooded the pages with my ideas. I came home one day, looked at it, decided I was going to write a book, and did. Ta da.
DAB:   Something in common - mine's a Mazda too!  Do you have a character(s) in your novel with whom you closely identify?

JL:        I always tell people that Jinx is me if I had confidence and no conscience. She is my true alter ego. We've sorta seeped into each other over the years and my own personality has changed because of it (hopefully for the good). But X definitely represents my inner geek with our shared obsessions of comics and video-games.

DAB:   Were there any characters you found difficult to write?

JL:        I would definitely say Ace was hardest for me. He has this aggression to him but part of me always wanted him to be witty and the results were disastrous. I can't tell you how many scenes I had to scrap because he just came off immature instead of the confident, cold, and calculated man he is. They weren't natural to his character. It wasn't until I wrote the "Tag" scene that I really understand who he was and how to best represent him. It was also hard to keep him out of the cookie-cutter mold for macho, alpha males. I constantly had to go back to find ways to bring out his depth. Under his brutish shell is an artist, as we see at his art show, and someone who is very dedicated to whatever he does.

DAB:   Who is your favorite character in your novel, and why?

JL:        That's like asking who your favorite child is. I love Jinx, Ace and X equally. Each of them have traits I love and hate about them. But I will say this, if X was real, I would pull the caveman move and bash him upside the head and drag him off. He would wake up standing in front of me at the alter and I would smile and say, "Just say, I do". Course I'd need a ladder to reach that high.

DAB:   The caveman move – I love it!  Do you write full-time or part-time?  If full-time, tell us about the journey to full-time.  If part-time, share with us about your “day” job.

JL:        As much as I would love to write all day, I can't. I have to squeeze writing in whenever I can. Currently I bring home the bacon by working as a nanny for a family I absolutely adore. They totally support my dreams and the book. The oldest one (10 yrs.) even told me I inspired her to become an author, which is the greatest compliment an author can receive. 

DAB:   There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

JL:        I am an outline girl to the core. It baffles me how people can get a glimpse of a character then sit down and write a book. It took me months to outline Initiation. I'm someone that needs a map of direction so I know what to expect and I think with a series like mine, where there is some mystery, you do need a sense of where you're going. You can't have major information pop up in the last book that never even got brought up in the previous ones. But that's not to say I don't welcome a little rerouting, some of the best memories on a road trip come from getting lost or detours. Most of my favorite chapters and scenes were written on a whim. But overall I feel more confident knowing where I'm supposed to go.

DAB:   How do you handle negative feedback about your novel(s)?

JL:        I actually just read my first review and although she had some biting words, I chose not to let it phase me. As an artist you have to know not everyone will appreciate your work. What makes the world such a beautiful, magical place is that we're all different. We all have different tastes and opinions and that's okay. Be true to yourself and your work and the right people will find it and love you for it.

DAB:   You’ve got a great understanding here.  I think it will take you far.  Usually authors are also avid readers - what are you currently reading?

JL:        I am currently reading THE PROPHECY OF ARCADIA by M.H Soars, a fellow indie author. It's a YA fantasy set in present day and I can't put it down. As soon as I'm done here I'm going to dive right back in.

DAB:   Do you have any writing pointers for the authors in our audience?

JL:        Write, edit, rewrite, repeat. You should be writing every day, even if it's only an hour. I also recommend printing off your work to edit. You'd be amazed how much more you see when you edit on paper compared to editing on the computer.

DAB:   Excellent words of wisdom (and now I feel the need to wash my hair for some reason)!  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

JL:        I am currently working on book two of The JAX Chronicles, entitled COLLECTION. After the team complete a difficult hit in Las Vegas, the man who hired Ace refuses to pay. Jinx, Ace, and X then travel around the country to hunt him down to get their money and revenge. There will be four novels all together and then I'm going to pen a fantasy series about guardian fairies.

DAB:   Now’s your chance – give us the final plug for your novel.

JL:        If you're looking for some fast-paced, edgy fun mixed with a complicated love "triangle", you should check out my action packed, coming-of-age book. Or you can just stop by and say hi. I love meeting new people.

Sounds like a plan, Jen!  Thanks for stopping by the blog and sharing about The JAX Chronicles.  I really hope to have the opportunity to read this first in the series later on this year.  If dark and dangerous is what you're looking for, check it out on Amazon or visit her Goodreads and Facebook pages for more information.

Author Bio:
Growing up around law enforcement, Jen heard more cop stories than fairytales and preferred tactical training over tea parties. Using the skills she was taught, combined with her interest in the criminal mind, she decided to weave her knowledge into her passion; writing. Jen currently resides in California with her sister, niece, and a stray cat she made the mistake of feeding. This is her debut novel.  Visit her website at