Friday, January 22, 2016

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Mary Sullivan Esseff

Tell me about you, Mary.

Mary Sullivan Esseff
Mary Sullivan Esseff is the author of the Rebecca Butler & Khalil Khoury Novel Series including: The Butterfly & The Snail (Volume 1), which won a top prize in the 2012 Transformational Authors Writers’ Contest, Wedding Tales, Book One: Love's Journey (Volume 2) and Wedding Tales, Book Two: Honeymoon Caper.

Laughter and enjoying life is an intrinsic part of Mary’s being. Her stories can make you laugh or bring tears to your eyes. She has been able to draw on her tenacious wit and rare humor even when difficulties arise in her life. When she had breast cancer, she invited friends to attend her April 1st hair-razing party, either wearing a hat or with a shaved head—well, no one actually arrived with a shaved head. During her year of treatment, she published an on-line e-journal, Amazing Grace, Notes From a Breast Cancer Survivor.

Mary is always searching for what is good, true and lovely. Always fair in making decisions, her husband says, “If you need a judge, ask Mary.” A problem-solver, Mary sees the whole picture, focuses on the real issues. Her characters exhibit many of these same qualities. Her husband Peter's Lebanese culture has inspired her series of "Khalil Khoury" stories, including, Love Made Visible, published in the anthology Three Naked Ladies Playing Cellos.

Mary and her husband, Dr. Peter J. Esseff, are co-founders of a training company, Educational Systems for the Future® that offers workshops and instructional materials to enable Fortune 500 employees to become professional trainers. Since 1969, they have co-authored a series of Guaranteed Learning® books, conducted workshops to teach trainers how to be professional trainers, and written hundreds of instructional modules for Fortune 500 companies all over the globe.

In 2005, Mary was honored by her Alma Mater, Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia, PA, to be a Charter Member of the Libris Society, which exemplifies one or more of the qualities celebrated in the College's motto Fides-Caritas-Scientia (Faith-Charity-Knowledge).
Besides reading and writing, Mary loves to create websites. She produced their training sites (, and and art ( sites. She also loves to travel and has visited countries all over the world for business and pleasure, most recently traveling to Lebanon where Peter’s family gathered for a fabulous wedding—and to give her fodder for future stories. Mary and Peter have three children and three grandchildren and live in Tampa, FL. 

Tell me about your current Book: 

Wedding Tales, Book Two: Honeymoon Caper
During their honeymoon in Nassau, newlyweds Rebecca and Khalil Khoury go for a peaceful outing on a Sunfish sailboat. The wind suddenly grabs the sail and whips the boom around knocking Rebecca into the water. Afraid to get separated from the boat, Rebecca grabs onto the rope used to tie the boat to the dock.

Without Rebecca’s weight, the wind filled the sail and the Sunfish skimmed through the aqua sea pulling the waterlogged young woman behind it. “Let go of the rope,” Khalil yelled into the wind. Rebecca’s answer was an emphatic shake of the head—NO! When Khalil maneuvered closer to the shore, Rebecca felt secure enough to let go and swim ashore. However the current pulled her in the opposite direction until she was beyond the hotel-lined coastline and almost on top of the dangerous waters the natives referred to as the ‘Marauding Pirates’ Cove’.  As if pulled in by Blackbeard himself, Rebecca finally swirled into a cave of tranquil waters.

Unable to touch bottom, she swam to the ridge of rocks that lined the cave’s interior. She stepped on a boulder worn smooth by the centuries of tides that played over the rocks. Knowing she didn’t have the strength to swim against the formidable tide, Rebecca climbed the rocks and began to explore the cave looking for another way out. At various intervals, sunshine streamed in through the cracks in the rocks overhead. Maybe there was an escape route through the rooftop. A glint on the side wall caught Rebecca’s eye. She made her way to the shining object. It was the clasp of a small pouch, which was thin enough to fit in a man’s inside suit pocket. The pouch’s gold clasp had a small ancient-looking key lock. This lock was the same size as the lock on a diary or small jewelry box. Rebecca tried to open it. Of course, it was locked.

Rebecca was sure this was not something a shipload of marauding pirates left behind. However, it could have washed into the cave last August or September when Hurricane Betsy hit the Caribbean. The storm cost the Bahamas fourteen million dollars and left one dead. Maybe someone had been looking for it all this time. She
slipped the pouch into her pocket and inched her way toward the outer chambers. She heard voices speaking in German, but from their tone, knew they were not there to rescue her. Hiding in the shadows, she was able to understand enough of their German to learn they were talking about missing a smuggling pickup due to the storm up north. Were these the smugglers she had read about in the town’s newspaper? Waiting a long time after they left, she finally found the secret entrance to the cave. She pushed it open tenuously, but then hurried to the main road to get a cab back to the hotel to share all she had learned with Khalil. They would open this found object pulled from the wall of the cave. Maybe he could make sense of it of it all.

Khalil opened the package and to their dismay found a handful of exquisite colored diamonds. From their size and color they knew they had to be worth over a million dollars. What were they doing jammed into the wall of a cave? Who were the men in the cave? What did they become involved in on this first day of their honeymoon?

What are you working on now? 

I’m starting my next Rebecca-Khalil book that will interweave their life in current time (1966-1972) with their Lebanese and German ancestors who were introduced in the two Wedding Tales Books. Their stories take place in the first third of the twentieth century. Rebecca will put on her sleuthing hat again and solve another mystery.

What is your favorite beverage while you write? 

I drink only water and herbal tea.

What is your favorite Website? 

I don’t have one particular one that I love, rather I have different genres that I like to visit for research. For example, I build my own websites, convert my books into eBooks, develop instructional materials for clients, and a lot of other technical things. Since I’m all self-taught in this area, I am always searching for how to write particular kinds of code, etc. Since I travel, I love Google Maps so I can plot out my trip ahead of time and figure out where all the restaurants and activities are within the area. I also have an art website ( and love researching the different artists whose works we carry. Although these aren’t websites, I love the various connector apps such as Facetime, Skype and Messages that allow me to connect with my daughter, Sr. Rosemary, in Rome.


Blog:    Beyond the Top of the Mountain
Facebook:    MarySullivanEsseff
Twitter:    @esfinc1

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