Mark Barry of Green Wizard Publishing Has Some Words About AFTER THE SUCKER PUNCH

GW publishing

When I cyber-met Mark Barry, UK author/blogger/publisher @ Green Wizard Publishing, via another very thoughtful writer I shared some appreciation for in The Kindness of Strangers… Meet Brenda Perlin. I had no idea I was meeting one of the most enthusiastic and passionate lovers of the written word to be found on this planet. But this quickly became evident, particularly after he invited me to participate in an interview for his dedicated author/interview site, The Wizard’s Cauldron, and I had the pleasure of corresponding with him across the pond and over a very fun and thorough set of questions (A Whizbang Interview with Author and Book Blogger Wiz Green).

At the time he was in the midst of reading my short story, “She Tumbled Down,” and promised to get to my novel, After The Sucker Punch, as soon as he was able. Which was delightfully soon, considering how busy this guy is. I say “delightfully” because Mark did that thing every writer loves when someone’s reading their book: he sent emails during and throughout his read, exclaiming over bits he liked, sharing thoughts on various characters and plot twists, assuring me that, when he was done, he would write a proper review. He and I did share some thoughts about the review conundrum (bracingly discussed in OK, Let’s Discuss This Whole Book Review Thing… Please), and I made him swear on a stack of indie novels that whatever he wrote, it would be his authentic opinion, good, bad, or in-between (I made the pact in return, given his status as a fellow author whose books I’ll read).

Of course, this sort of promise is always a dicey thing, something every reader of indie novels (and even some traditional novels) knows. You pick up the book of someone you’ve met in a writer’s group, a book club, online, or at a convention, and you do so with a certain gnawing fear that you’ll discover, sentences into the thing, that writing a review is either going to be a painful process or something you’ll eschew all together for the sake of the friendship. So when you make that pact with someone directly, well… there’s no turning back, is there?

So when I got the news today that Mark’s review had posted, I approached it with bracing fortitude, hoping for the best but, mostly, wanting Mark to have felt comfortable enough to stay true to his word, no matter how the reading experience transpired. And I couldn’t have been more thrilled, pleased, delighted, honored, and really touched by what he had to say.

I’m leaving the whole review here, because I loved the depth with which he analyzed the narrative and shared his perspective. However, I have left the links to his sites above and below, so you can check them from time-to-time for his ongoing reviews and updates about his own work.

Thank you, Mark Barry, for being such an unabashed supporter of the literary arts… and those of us who love painting our creative pictures with them!

ASTP Nottingham Library Lorraine
Wiz Green and ATSP at the Nottingham Library

After The Sucker Punch: A Review

After The Sucker Punch (ATSP) is a fantastic novel.

I’m writing this because I know most of my readers are always on the lookout for a good book – and ATSP is a very, very good book.

The Context

I met the novel’s author, Lorraine Devon Wilke, two weeks ago through a lovely friend of mine, Orange County’s Brenda Perlin. A resident of LA, Lorraine came around the interview Cauldron to widen her exposure to a UK audience.

Out of respect, Lorraine made a gift to me of both her novel and short story “She Tumbled Down” and while I loved the short story, the novel is something else entirely.

An Indie novel, it is definitely in the top ten of the books (Trad or Indie), I have read (which is a fair number) since I started Green Wizard.

After reading twelve chapters on Kindle, I immediately logged on to Amazon and like some literary Victor Kiam, I bought the paperback.

I am glad I did. It is a magnificent paperback indeed.

The Paperback

I teach the odd hour of Creative Writing and Self Publishing, and last night, I took the paperback of ATSP to our latest group to demonstrate how to structure dialogue.

The group I teach are professionals, experienced diarists, bloggers, report writers who wish to learn about e-publishing and between them, they read 100-200 books a year.

Not one of them could tell that this was a self-published book.

Printed by Createspace and professionally edited, it is a beautiful piece of work to hold in your hand. ATSP would not be out of place in Waterstones (and, without getting political, it makes a total nonsense of the idea that self-published work is somehow inferior. Saying so would be an insult to this novel and its creative team).

The Review

ATSP is a family saga. Tessa, a dreamy, thirty-something, sometime artist/writer/drifter with aspirations to something better than her current humdrum life, attends the funeral of her father, Leo.

After the Wake, and while staying at her mother’s house, she reads one of his many journals.

What Leo wrote is so shocking, it changes Tessa’s life and the lives of everyone in her extended family.

Four factors mark Lorraine’s brilliant debut as something special.

Firstly, her characters. Each so individual, so distinctive and so well defined, you can tell who is talking without the character being named. That’s no mean feat. Secondly, the dialogue is crisp, sassy and real, patter so realistic, you can hear it taking place. Thirdly, the way Lorraine links and merges the historical comments Tessa reads in the journal into the real time narrative is shrewd and repays rereading.

Then, finally, there is Tessa herself, the novel’s protagonist. You may not like her – two days after completing the novel, I am completely ambivalent about her * – but she is real and you can follow her train of reasoning at all times.

None of her behaviour is extranormal and you can imagine doing the same things she does (and that’s not a necessarily recommendation).

You watch her progress and change. You understand her one minute, then you can’t comprehend what she’s up to the next. Then immediately after, you want to reach into the pages of the book and wag your finger at her. You live her deliberations and you can feel her confusion on your fingertips as you turn the page.

At no time does Tessa lapse into stereotype. She constantly surprises you and – whether you like her or not, you cannot stop following her trials and tribulations for a second.

The supporting cast is excellent. Her family, particularly the harassed Micheala, and the alcoholic brother, Ronnie, are similarly absorbing. Tessa’s long suffering boyfriend, the corporate sportswear schill David, struggles manfully to accommodate Tessa’s whys and wherefores before being completely overwhelmed by them in some of the novel’s saddest scenes.

Her relationship with best friends Katie and Ruby would satisfy any fan of chicklit, (and I quite fancied the hapless, heartbroken Ruby, in a Sir Lancelot kind of way), but it is Aunt Joanne who steals the show.

The Catholic Nun-cum-Therapist helps Tessa deal with the aftermath of the revelations unleashed by Leo’s journal and becomes by far the strongest foil for her increasingly self-destructive angst.

You long for her to reappear in the narrative – perhaps because she is the only person strong enough – and brave enough – to confront Tessa, whose self-absorption is relentless.

Contemporary Drama

Like the best contemporary fiction, nothing extraordinary happens.

People talk on the telephone (which happens a lot in this novel). Conversations take place in cars, in coffee bars, around the water cooler, on sofas, in the still life of the marital bed, the post-coital cigarette smoke still swirling between the blades of the fan rotating overhead.

There is virtually no action – just like real life.

The sheer joy of the ATSP is its very ordinariness. These are ordinary people going about their business, all of them affected to one degree or another by the portentous, unhinged rantings of Leo Curzio.

The richness of the everyday needs no explosions, because the revelations are the explosions.

A Christmas Conclusion

If you like contemporary work, I strongly recommend After The Sucker Punch.

Forget the e-book for once: Treat yourself to an early Christmas present and buy the paperback for seven quid or so. It is lustrous, with its cream pages, one and a half line spacing and comforting, airport-shelf heft.

It is a book which is written for paperback and meant to be read in bed; absorbed, over time, savoured by lamplight.

*Maybe its a man thing. 😀

UK readers buy ATSP here
US readers buy ATSP (in paperback) here.

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Click here to access Green Wizard Publishing
Click here to access The Wizard’s Cauldron

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

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With Fiona Mcvie: Just Two Girls Chattin’ About Books…

women over books

As I march forward in this exotic adventure called independent publishing, I find myself thrilled to discover just how passionate people remain about READING. When I was a young girl, reading was my escape, my entertainment, my world away, but as the noise and movement of ever advancing digital life has evolved, it wasn’t clear to me whether the lure of a good book (however it is delivered!) was still as powerful a draw. Seems it is. Good timing on my part, then, what with just now entering the fray with After The Sucker Punch, “She Tumbled Down,” and more to come!

So it was with great delight that I received a missive from Scottish book blogger, Fiona Mcvie (yes, with a lower case “v”!), whose site, Author Interviews, features wonderfully in-depth conversations with specific writers she reaches out to for one reason or another. She posted our “conversation” this week and I was happy to share perspective with her about books, the writing process, readers, even my favorite color! 🙂

I’ll send you over to her blog and hope you enjoy a little sit-down with two girls just chattin’ about books!

Fiona Mcvie @ Author InterviewsHere is my interview with Lorraine Devon Wilke

Image from Vintage Women on Pinterest

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.

Interview With The AWESOME GANG: Where Awesome Readers Meet Awesome Writers

Author interview
There’s a fellow named Vinny O’Hare who’s a very active member of the Goodreads and other writer/reader communities, and who has various site promoting his books, his photography, and his work as a web consultant. One of those sites is called AwesomeGang: Where Awesome Readers Meet Awesome Writers. A very on-the-nose moniker for a cool site that does just that.

Vinny’s mission statement is pretty simple:

What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? I like the way the community helps each other out. Being in the Indy publishing world I get to visit a lot of websites by people that don’t know how to make a website. I can offer them SEO advice and help them rank better for their books. I love helping authors get sales for their books. I believe it comes full circle.

And given how many opportunities he gives authors through awesomely priced book postings, awesome interviews, etc. (he admits he likes the word “awesome”!), his full circle should be… well, pretty full!

awesome gang banner

I recently participated in an AwesomeGang interview, talking about my books, my work, and what I’d take with me to a desert island, and since I know you want to partake of all that essential information, let’s start with an excerpt and go from there!

Do you have any advice for new authors?

To start with, and this is a big one, be very clear about your voice, what it is, what it wants to say, what it tells you, what your gut tells you, and then LISTEN TO THAT. Learn to trust it, humbly and with a willingness to take and implement good critique and wise input, but trust what you know is your voice. Don’t let anyone dissuade you from expressing yourself, tell you all the reasons why you should do something else, why you should say something else; knock you down with their “honesty.” There’s a lot of arbitrary “advice” people will offer and it’s essential to be clear what’s useful and what’s just… arbitrary advice.

Which leads to the second part (and this may sound contradictory, but it’s true): while and as you get clear on your own voice, be very aware of the value of what others have to share with you. Some of it will be good, essential even, and the trick is to sort out what critique, insights, suggestions to take and which to discard. It can be very challenging at times. But ultimately your work has to be YOU, and if you believe in it, have the courage of those convictions to stand by it. Even if you don’t sell a million (or whatever your goal), you’ll know your work is out there in the world exactly as you intended it. A creative legacy can be a very soulful thing!

 Click to read on….

Thank you, Vinny O’Hare, for your incredible awesomeness!

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Visit www.lorrainedevonwilke.com for details and links to LDW’s books, music, photography, and articles.