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Friday, March 17, 2023

Getting Validation as a Writer: Author Interview with Mary Ellen Bramwell - women's fiction

What inspired you to write about the trials of life?  
I read books from just about any genre, but I chose to write about life's ups and downs because those are the stories that stick with me. A mystery or crime is solved and then over with, but life is ongoing. So, the things we learn from living life, or the things we learn from reading about someone else's life, are the things that we ponder long after the trial (or story) is finished.

How long did it take to write the first book?
My first book took six months to write and six months to rewrite. Many edits were done along the way, but I went through one major rewrite (unlike one of my other books that went through four).

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
Probably being comfortable with the story early on. I've started writing several books that sounded great in my head but on paper just felt flat. It's hard to keep pushing on a story when it's just not working. I abandon those ideas before I waste too much time on them. When a story starts to write itself, I know I've found the right one.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

Several years before I wrote my first book, I published a couple magazine articles. The editor I worked with on the second of those said, "You're a good writer. You should keep writing for us." I never forgot that. When I began seriously writing, that always stayed in the back of my mind, telling me I could do it. Then shortly after starting writing books, I won an award in the Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition. It validated the earlier comment. It is so easy to doubt yourself as a writer. Having people who did not personally know me tell me I could write made a huge difference.

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produces more sales rather than just clicks? 
Marketing was what I was least prepared to handle, yet we all need to do it. I was fortunate enough to land a BookBub deal early on. That featured eBook had over 50,000 free downloads. That spurred pages read and follow-on sales. Several years later, I'm still getting new reviews and ratings every week. 

Do you sell more eBooks or print books?
I definitely sell more eBooks than print.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

Just a better handle on mechanics. I've learned so much about how to be a better writer (from conferences, books, etc.) since I first started that I'm hesitant to read my earlier books. When I do read them, I'm relieved I still like them - even if I would have tightened up some of the language if I were to write them now.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Hire an editor. You need to have someone else put eyes on it. And the caveat is be willing to accept the editing advice.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
A lot of people tell me, "I've always wanted to write a book." I encourage them to do it. Just sit down and put pen to paper and begin. In a way, the comment is a slight on writers. ("I could do what you do.") So, I'm always happy to support and cheer other writers who are willing to put in the hard work and produce a book. It is always an accomplishment to be celebrated. I've found fellow writers to be so supportive, so I try to be the same.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

I'm usually knee deep in another book, but I'm not right now. I have a series of children's books in the works (with names like It Was a Dark and Squeak Night), and I'm working on getting the approvals from involved parties to write a nonfiction book. Both of these projects are departures from what I've written in the past, but ones I'm excited to explore. At the moment, I'm spending most of my time editing for others.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Mary-Ellen's books, here are some links to get you started.
Amazon author page:
Goodreads author page:

And here's a bonus for my readers... lf you leave a comment on this post, you'll be entered in a drawing to win of one of her eBooks. The ones she is offering is either 
The Apple of My Eye or When I Was Seven. The winner gets to choose which book they want. The deadline to enter is 8:00 PM 3/23/23. So don't wait, leave a comment with your name now!


  1. Thanks, Chris, for this interview with Mary Ellen. I agree that it's always nice to get validation on your writing from a non-friend or relative. Writing for magazines first is a great way to kick-start your writing adventure. May Ellen's books look so enticing. Makes me want to curl up in a huge comfortable chair with a cup of hot chocolate and read for the day. I would be happy to win any one of her books.

  2. Years ago, I was told to build writing credits with magazines. I'm still doing it.