Welcome to guest author Melissa Mayberry

Melissa Mayberry believes in living a full life.
 As a wife, mother of four, full time nurse, and grad student, a story presented itself to her in such a way that she had to become a writer as well. 
Learning and growing through her work.

Hi Melissa, great to have you on the blog. Tell us something about your writing.

There was a time when no one would read my writing; no one—not even my husband. My writing wasn’t terrible, but I was timid. Do you have a book in your head, or even in your word processor, but are scared of what others will think? There may be more than one way to get over this, but here’s how I managed: baby steps.
                When my first book was in its infancy, few people in my life knew that I was writing. My poetry had been published in high school, but for twenty years I hadn’t submitted a word to anything, for any reason.
If you’re scared to post to a huge website, make cyber friends, one at a time, and build your confidence.   To me, my story was important, so I had to get over the shyness and let people read my work. I found a forum, and reluctantly posted a chapter. The chapter was critiqued to the max, but didn’t help me build confidence. One of the critics took me under his wing. He understood the importance of my book and read anything I sent him. This complete stranger taught me things about writing that I had forgotten and slowly, I began to believe I could write something worth reading.
From this website, I heard of another. If you are unfamiliar with Critique Circle, it’s sort of a club, where you earn points by critiquing someone else’s work, and can spend the points to post your own work. When I started to critique other people’s work, I was so nice that I probably didn’t help them one bit. I claimed to like everything because I had no confidence in my own skills.
 After reading over my first chapter twenty times, I finally had the nerve to post. Every day for a week, I checked the website and my story hadn’t even gone live. My nerves were buzzing the day it loaded to the queue. Unlike the first website, these people combed through every word. The response was good, if I kept an open mind. Bad reviews aren’t personal, and this website is anonymous, so keeping thick skin was important. My rule for using critiques: If they like it, awesome. If they don’t, fine. If they spend a lot of time explaining what they don’t like, use as much of that critique as you can to make the writing better. Every critique is useful. Some are only for the ego, and others are to learn by.
After a few rounds of posting and critiquing, I found myself brave enough to let real life people read my chapters. My coworkers were my first victims. I’d pass my computer to them and promptly leave the room. As I’d pace down the hall, I my cheeks would burn, and I’d worry about what they’d say when I came back. I even coached myself on what to say. If they’d say it was great, I told myself to only say thank you.
What I really wanted was feedback. If you’re going to ask your loved ones to read, don’t count on meaningful input. Even if your mother-in-law has a master’s degree in English, she will probably tell you its fine (But that you should clean your refrigerator). Honestly, having them read your work is putting them in a pickle. What if they don’t like it and tell you? They would just be a jerk. If they like the book they are just being nice.
Now, I’ve learned to give it to them, only if they’ve asked first. One of my coworkers asked for my book and I gave it to her. I didn’t think she’d even read it. Then, she came to a party that my ex attended and asked me if I based Arien (my antagonist) on him. That was excellent feedback.  Not only had she read my book, she was curious. So curious in fact that I think she came to the party to check out Arien. I didn’t have to ask her what she thought of the book, she showed me and it was awesome. Some people will read it only because you asked them to, and these people are not your audience. Once people know you have a book, let them come to you and you will have genuine fans that will boost your writer’s ego.
Now, I have the ability to sit in the same room with someone reading my work. Having confidence in my book goes a long way when convincing people to invest their time and money on me. First I had to make a friend that had skills and would help me where I lacked. Then, I had to develop skin thick enough that a review wouldn’t ruin me, but help me. Third, I had to sell my book to the right people.

Find Melissa online:
Facebook: Melissa Mayberry / Mellifica
Twitter: @MayberryMelissa

At sixteen years old, Melissa has already found her Prince Charming. Sandy, the school’s most popular boy, graces her with a dream-like romance. However, a bold and dominating stranger named Arien quickly enters the picture and steals the girl’s heart while at summer camp.
What seems like a promising new relationship eventually becomes a downward spiral into heartbreak, leading Melissa down a path to depression, anorexia, and revenge. Trapped by her own impulsive affections and misplaced trust, Melissa struggles to find happiness in love without losing herself, her friends, or her sense of freedom.
In this coming-of-age story, Mayberry’s well-meaning yet tragically flawed characters trace the thin line between young love and obsession

Excerpt from Chapter 1:

The party fell quiet while we waited. A blue Dodge Caravan stopped at the edge of the beach. Oh yeah, Chad said he’d come. Even though the van was a brand new 1992 model, my cousin looked like a dork driving a minivan. “It’s okay. It’s my cousin, but keep the liquor in your bag, Shanna.”

“Aww, is Chad some kind of nark?” she asked.

I nodded. “Most likely.”

Chad stepped out, but to my surprise the passenger door opened too. Why would he bring a date to my birthday party? Asshole. It’d be better without him here, and definitely better without one of those girls he hung out with.

A stranger stepped out of the van, and his eyes fell right to mine. From a distance, he didn’t appear to be the geeky type of friend Chad always made. He wore a loose black tank top with Khaki shorts. His clothes seemed pretty normal, especially compared to Chad’s; my cousin wore a Henley tucked into his cargo shorts. The strange guy stared, and I couldn’t turn away.

 He came over with Chad, king of the geeks. Where did he get the confidence to stare at me? They walked closer, and even though the beach was dim, his onyx eyes struck me intensely. My chest tightened, and my heart raced. As if this guy gave him confidence, Chad walked a little straighter than usual.

“Hello, Melissa. Happy birthday,” Chad said.

I nodded, glanced at Chad for a second and then back to his guest.

“Oh, this is Arien, my best friend.” Chad gestured toward his tall, muscular friend. “And this is Melissa, my cousin.”

Arien nodded. “Hey.”

When did Chad get a best friend? I would have seen him before.  Something wasn’t right about this guy or his sudden appearance.

Sandy wrapped both arms around me and leaned closer to my ear. “Want to go for a walk?”

Sandy’s voice startled me. This suspicious stranger had my brain working overtime.  “Um, I do, but Chad just got here. I can’t be rude.” I turned to the new arrivals. “Food and drinks are on the table. Get a plate and come back to join us.”

            Why haven’t I met this guy? They returned from the table. Both had soda, but neither was eating. Chad turned toward the river where some people still played. “Who’s here?”

            I didn’t pay attention to Chad.

“Melissa, I asked you a question,” Chad said louder.


Everyone turned to me as I dropped my stare from Arien. A flame went through my body, and I wanted to run to the river’s edge. Arien smirked. He had been staring back, as if he had a chance with me. Huge ego—he must be Chad’s best friend.

I had to play the situation off as mere curiosity, so I squared my shoulders and cleared my throat. “So, Arien, if you and Chad are best friends, why haven’t we met?”

He looked at me and raised an eyebrow. “I guess we just missed each other.”  The warm gaze in his eyes made me think his words carried a double meaning. His wavy blond hair caught the sea breeze, and the firelight danced across his face.

I leaned against Sandy to ensure we all understood this stranger didn’t have a chance with me. 
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