Please welcome author Shawn K Maravel to my blog! Shawn is a military wife with a hero for a husband, and those qualities especially come through in her latest release, The Wanderer. Shawn is known for creating characters readers can connect with, and romance that will melt your heart. I asked Shawn to share a little about her writing journey.
What's your writing background and goals?
For the future I see myself sticking with literary fiction works such as The Wanderer. I enjoy writing paranormal stories but there's something really incredible about writing about characters who could be real. Characters who might even remind my readers of their own love stories. But no matter what genre I write, it will always be a love story. I believe they are the most powerful and thought provoking stories we have to share.
How The Wanderer is different from your popular Volition series?
The Wanderer is also much more heavily rooted in personal struggle and growth through love where the struggles in Volition are much more surface based, though the struggles help love bloom all the same. The male Characters Joel (Volition) and Landon (The Wanderer) are very different as well though not in that way that one is "a good boy" and one is "the bad boy"...though Landon is known to get around quite a bit!
What future projects are you working on?
My writing background is set on a foundation of my love of storytelling. From a young age I enjoyed writing stories. When I started reading regularly in 2008 I also started writing seriously but it wasn't until my husband deployed to Iraq in late 2009 that I took my writing to a career level. My first novels Volition and Severance, a young adult paranormal series, are my first publications. Less than a year later I wrote and published The Wanderer.
How The Wanderer is different from your popular Volition series?
The Wanderer is a complete deviation from the Volition series. Though I do hope that my readers, on both sides, would take the risk in reading the other even if it stretches their own personal reading preference.
Volition is YA which is the first distinction. The Wanderer is an contemporary literature "adult read", however it's no more "mature" than Volition or Severance, so it could be read and enjoyed by young readers as well. Where Volition might be placed on the same shelf as books like Fallen by Lauren Kate or Crossroads by Mary Ting, The Wanderer might be found among Nicholas Sparks novels such as The Lucky One and Dear John.
What future projects are you working on?
Right now I'm working on a companion novel to The Wanderer. I intend to incorporate the book in a series of novels about various men who happen to ride motorcycles and find love. I was struggling for a while with a few other story ideas when I discovered that it was because I wasn't done with Landon...or rather, men like Landon. I hope to write more novels to include in the series as well and am already projecting ideas for the NEXT book. However, I won't be starting on that one until I finish this one.
To give you a few ideas of what the book is going to be about, it centers around a Virginia State Trooper in search of a new home. But instead of just finding a home he finds love in his realtor. But of course the story goes much deeper than that. This story is highly concentrated on the characters and the fact that love isn't always the easiest thing to see. ROUGHLY this story and its characters pull from my sister and her husband's relationship when they first started out. Non-coincidentally, her husband is in the final processes of applying to be a State Trooper in PA.
Sounds awesome! One thing I love about The Wanderer is that it combines heart-rending romance with the lone wolf character and the woman who breaks down his walls. And motorcycles. We're pushing perfect here, people! :)
After getting out of the Army, Landon Bradley packs up his motorcycle and heads North West in hopes of closing up old battle wounds and maybe even settling down. Not accustomed to staying in one spot for too long, he's not certain that he'll ever find a place that he can truly call home.
When he finds himself stranded in a small Wyoming town, Landon meets Maxine Abrams, more affectionately known as Max. Her blunt honesty and humble generosity make him feel closer to home then he ever has before. But when his feelings for her grow too strong, the reality that, like everyone else, he could easily lose her too, Landon feels the ever present urge to leave again. And Landon must decide which call to heed. His heart or the open road.
Read an excerpt below, then leave a comment for a chance to win a Kindle copy!
In front of Max’s Motorcycle Repairs, Ralph helped unload Landon’s bike and bid him farewell, thanking him for his service before driving off.
This is definitely on the outskirts of town, he thought.
He had told Ralph that he could manage from there but Landon now looked at the thirty feet between him and the shop entrance and thought that he could have used the help.
When he finally managed to push the bike through the dirt parking lot he let out the kick stand and left it beside the front entrance, opening the door to the small establishment.
For a garage and a small office off to the side Max’s was probably the cleanest repair place he’d ever stepped into. The floors were free of dirt and grease. A push broom leaned against the wall, looking ragged and well used. Dark red curtains hung in each window, pushed to the sides to let the light shine in. The air conditioner was set on low but it left the room feeling cool and fresh. A potted cactus was on the counter, sprouting a single pink flower that sat delicately on top of the dome shaped plant.
Hung on the walls were pictures of bikes of every variety. Sports bikes, cruisers, choppers, Harley Davidson’s, Hondas, BMW, and more. Each was hung in a diamond plate picture frame that resembled a stretched out license plate cover that he suspected had been hand-made. Bandanas were strung above the counter on a piece of twine like flags, falling in a neatly dipped arch. Wheel rims were braced on the back wall, displayed in a ring that encircled the door that lead into the garage.
“What can I do for you?” the man behind the counter asked, his diamond plate name tag read VINCE. “You look like you’ve had a rough day,” he added.
“My tire blew out, sir,” Landon replied. “It took a good hit.”
“As it would seem, so did you,” Vince replied. “Take a seat. Is your bike outside?”
“Yes, it’s right there,” Landon said, pointing through the window at his bike. He headed to the door to retrieve it.
“No, no, you sit down, we’ll bring it around into the garage for you and Max will have a look at it. We’ll get an idea of what kind of damage and repairs you’re lookin’ at.” He called into the back, giving instructions to pick up the bike. Turning around he gestured towards a small table off to the side. “Help yourself to some coffee.”
Landon’s eyes traveled to the table and he made his way over, feeling his knees and hips shudder as he did so. Once at the table he took a paper cup and the pot of regular coffee, pouring himself a full cup.
Looking up from the table after placing the pot back down he admired the picture hung in front of him. It was a poster of a woman on an orange sports bike. She had long black hair down to the small of her back. Her skin was tanned, and she had dark eyes. From the looks of her, the high cheek bones, the deep olive tone to her skin, he would be surprised if she wasn’t full blood Native American.
She wore short cut offs, no shoes, and a white t-shirt. It was the only picture of a woman on a bike in the entire shop and he could gather as to why that was. All others would likely pale in comparison.
She didn’t wear a smile, she simply looked at the camera with purpose in her eyes. The neckline of her shirt was to her collarbone, leaving the rest to the imagination, though he could tell that she filled it out well. Her legs were long and lean with muscle as he followed them back up to her face again.
Landon heard the man come back into the small office and cleared his throat, realizing that he’d probably been staring at the poster a little too long. He took a sip of his coffee, noting that it was close to the best he’d had in a long time, and made his way over to the small seating area.
Rubbing his neck, registering the tinge of whiplash that now settled high on his shoulder blades Landon could only imagine what kind of pain he would be feeling in the morning.
Vince worked behind the counter organizing paperwork and taking calls. Another man came into the office for a short while, likely to be Max, but when Landon had started to get up to speak with him about his bike he’d gone back into the garage.
A few minutes later, head hung over his lap he heard someone breach the doorway again. He pushed himself up from the chair, unable to sit any longer and looked up to the counter. Frozen in his tracks, coffee awkwardly propped up in his hand Landon looked on with shock as the woman from the poster tucked a long strand of loose hair behind her ear. The rest of her hair sat in a messy bun at the back of her head. Grease was smeared down the length of her neck, trailing dangerously low to the crest of her cleavage. She wore baggy denim overalls and a tight light grey t-shirt underneath, also covered in grease.
She smiled warmly and gestured for Landon to join her at the counter. Like an adolescent boy he felt his body react instantly to the woman in front of him. He felt nerves racing through his body, causing him to hesitate before finally lowering his coffee in his hand and approaching the desk, trying to collect himself.
“What did Max say?” he managed. “Is it repairable?” he was pleased that his voice had come out steady.
She let out a small giggle, picking up on something humorous about what he’d said, nearly knocking Landon off balance.
“I’m Max,” she said, pointing to the name tag Landon now wished he’d noticed earlier.
“I-I,” he stuttered. He blinked hard, trying to rein himself back in. “Of course you are, I’m sorry, ma’am.”
Max was used to the misunderstanding. Vince found it too entertaining not to mention that Max was a woman when checking in customers. Now in fact, he stood at the far end of the counter, enjoying the flash of embarrassment on the poor man’s face. By the looks of him, he’d already been through enough for one day.
“Vince, why don’t you go sweep up the shop?” she suggested.
After a few moments of delay, clearly enjoying the show, Vince headed into the back. “Don’t worry about it,” Max said, resting heavily against the counter. “I get it all the time. I hope you’re okay with me working on your bike. If not, I understand. That happens a lot too.”
Landon stepped forward, shaking his head slowly. “Oh no, I have no problem with it at all, ma’am.” He placed his cup on the counter casually. “What’s it looking like it’ll cost me?”
Max was surprised by the question. Usually men were hesitant to take her word on what repairs needed to be done, asking for one of the men in back to step forward and verify all that she’d just said. Which they always did.
“Well,” Max began. “There’s a lot of body work, as I’m sure you already know. I’ve written up a price including the cosmetic work and excluding it just so that you know what your options are.” She pulled up two pieces of paper and slid them across the counter for him to see. “Here’s the one with the cosmetic work,” she said, pointing to the one on Landon’s left. “And here’s the one without. You can look them over and—”
“I’ll take the one with the body work, ma’am,” Landon answered, curious as to why he’d said it. In reality he didn’t care about the exterior of the bike as long as it worked properly. Because it might mean longer time to repair, he thought unguardedly.
“Why don’t you look everything over just to be sure that you know what’s being done and in case you have any questions,” Max offered.
Based on the neatly typed up sheets and the time put into making one with bodywork and one without, Landon felt pretty certain that he could trust Max’s judgment. She had clearly been faced with a lot of scrutiny, having to prove herself ten times over what a man had to. And she must have had the skills to back her claim; otherwise she wouldn’t still have a business.
“If you don’t mind me saying so, ma’am,” Landon said with a flirtatious smile “I trust your judgment.” He pushed the sheets back over the counter with confidence.
Max tilted her head curiously. He didn’t just sound sure of her abilities to do the job, he looked it. Not to mention the way that his eyebrow arched just so, his eyes never breaking from hers. His focus never strayed, his attention unbroken. He was, Max assessed, definitely a lady’s man. Even with the injuries he’d sustained he seemed to manage a certain amount of swagger with little to no effort.
“Can I ask you something?” she asked, crossing her arms over her chest.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied, preparing himself for the yes-I-was-in-Army speech.
“Can you stop calling me ma’am?”
He laughed and the sound was so genuine that Max found herself caught off guard. His right arm was coated in a thick layer of dried blood, his leather jacket and helmet that rested on the seat where he’d been sitting both looked like they’d been dragged across the road for a few feet. She’d also noticed a limp as he’d made his way over to the counter. All of that aside he was still able to laugh in such a way that he didn’t seem to be experiencing any pain at all.
“You don’t look so hot,” she said.
“I don’t feel it,” he admitted, rubbing his neck muscles.
His warm brown eyes met hers again and she found herself at a disadvantage. Something about the look in his eyes made her certain that this man had seduced more than his fair share of women. She wondered to herself what it must be like to fall into such eyes.
Max looked away, clearing her throat. “Take a seat, Mr…”
“Bradley,” he replied. “Landon Bradley.”
“Okay, Mr. Bradley, I’ll be right back, I just need to check in on some work being done to one of the bikes in the back and I’ll get you all squared away.”
When Max left the office Landon breathed out, not realizing that he’d held his breath as he watched her leave. Women were powerful creatures, he thought. On many occasions he’d found himself surprised by them, but never before like this. Even Paige was no match for Max, it had only taken a few minutes to conclude that much. He could detect a distinct fearlessness about her just as he had with Paige. But there was something different about Max, though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what.
A few minutes later Max walked back through the door with Vince at her side, here to watch Landon squirm again he presumed, and he rose from his chair again, running his hand absently over the top of his hair.
“So where are you staying tonight?” Max asked, taking in Landon’s dust-blown shirt and sweat-stained neck. “Looks like you’ve been riding for a while.” He was obviously not a local, she knew all thirty of them, none of which she recalled had any relatives his age from out of town.
“I had no plans of staying anywhere in particular. With the bike out of commission I guess I’ll need to look into something.” Landon swept his eyes over the surface of Max’s thin frame. It had been a long time since he’d seen a woman that beautiful. In fact, he couldn’t recall a woman off the top of his head that actually compared. “Do you know of a place nearby?”
“Define nearby,” she laughed. “You plan on walking?” With his injuries, she considered, it would be one hell of a hike into town.
Landon looked through the front window, considering the road that disappeared beyond the horizon in both directions.
“Yeah.” He sounded unsure.
“You’ll stay with me,” Max said, wiping her grease coated hands down the front of her overalls, disappearing back into the garage.
“Do I have a say?!” Landon called after her. Having a beautiful woman offer to take him in wasn’t exactly a bad thing. In fact, considering how things had turned out, it was likely the best possible end to his day. But one thing always led to another and with the repair of his bike and his journey ahead laying in the balance he wasn’t so sure that it was the best idea.
Turning to face Vince who stood chuckling behind the counter he received a doubtful shake of the head. Max, he was realizing quickly didn’t come up against protest often, insisting that he stay elsewhere would probably be met with resistance.
Vince followed Max into the shop shortly after she’d left, leaving Landon in the lobby still thrown off by her offer, perplexed himself as to why she’d said it. He found her staring at the beat up Vulcan.
“With all due respect,” he began “are you completely out of your mind?! This guy stumbles through our doors after crashing his bike, clearly out of town, and you offer for him to stay at your place? It’s insanity.”
Max looked up at Vince. “Our other option is for him to stay at the hotel across the street from Hogs and Harley’s. I’m sure they would be more than willing to fix up his bike for him. Is that what you want? You know how much we need this job.”
“But to let him stay with you…don’t you think that’s a bit too generous? What if he gets the wrong idea? I won’t be able to sleep at night wondering if you’ve got some serial killer rapist livin’ under your roof.”
“That’s a bit dramatic don’t you think?” Max interjected. “I mean, the guy hardly looks like he could cross the shop right now, let alone my house to sneak stealthily into my bedroom before I could protect myself.”
“You underestimate the determination of a horny pervert.”
“So now he’s a horny pervert?”
“Well, he could be. He’s a guy, that’s about halfway to being a horny pervert in and of itself. Besides, you had to have seen the way he was lookin’ at you. He wasn’t even making an effort to hide it.”
“Plenty of guys have looked at me, Vince,” Max argued.
“And I wouldn’t want any of them stayin’ up at your place either, not unless you were datin’ ‘em. Even then you best be knowin’ that I’d give you the same talkin’ to.”
“I know you would,” Max said with a sigh. “But honestly, this isn’t just about that. There’s no place close to stay other than at the place across from Hogs and Harley’s. I can’t risk losing the business.”
“What if I let him stay at my place? It would give me some peace of mind,” Vince offered.
“You’ve got a wife and kids. If you’re worried about me then I doubt having him stay with you would give you any peace of mind. I can take care of myself. If worse comes to worst I’ve got the 45 in my nightstand.”
“Well you better keep that bedroom door of yours locked up, honey bee. And if push comes to shove you better not hesitate to defend yourself.”
“Do you really doubt my ability to protect myself, Vince?”
Vince eyed her for a minute before a smile crept onto his face. “No, I know you can handle yourself.”
“Then let me handle myself will ya?”
“Call me if anything happens.”
“You know I will.”
The Wanderer is available for Kindle and in print. Visit Shawn's blog, Facebook page, and say hi on Twitter. Don't forget to leave a comment!
Thanks so much for coming by my blog, Shawn! We look forward to your next book. Write faster!