Sale Away: HYSTERICAL LOVE @ 99¢ Through 10.14

Having just won the solo medal in “general fiction” at New Apple Awards, Hysterical Love is being offered at the promotional price of 99¢ through Saturday, October 14, 2017. Just click HERE.

From Amazon’s “From the Author”:

Your debut novel, After the Sucker Punch, also dealt with family secrets and estranged parent-child relationships. What is it about these themes that intrigues you? They’re relatable, almost always a mix of humor and drama (great fun to write!), and probably the most universal themes in existence. We all have a family of some kind, so there’s always something within the politics of that group that will resonate with most readers.

How did growing up in a big family influence your work? It gave me an insider’s seat in the dramatic and evolving culture that is a big family, allowing me to observe and explore those dynamics in as natural and experiential a way as possible.

Dan is a male protagonist with a strong, quirky perspective. Was it a challenge to craft such a well-rounded male character? I have five brothers, a son, a husband, many male friends, and I spent years on the road in rock bands… I got my male bona fides! 🙂

What do you think is the most important part of Dan’s personal odyssey? Finding truth. Within his romantic relationships, his work, his family, and, most importantly, himself. Truth is always the grand prize.

What inspired you to write Hysterical Love? An anecdote was shared with me by a guy who briefly fixated on his father’s old girlfriend, sparking a compelling, “what if he actually made it a quest?” Folding in the notions of lost love, enduring heartbreak, and defining the validity of soul mates, a story emerged that ultimately became Hysterical Love.

You’re an author, a former rock-and-roller, a photographer, a singer-songwriter, and you’ve worked in theater and film. How do you feel these diverse experiences have influenced your writing? Each element of my creative life has given me unique perspective, amazing stories, and always compelling characters. I’ve dipped and double-dipped into each to flesh out and enrich my books. It’s like living your own research!

What (or who) were some of the biggest influences on your literary career? An early childhood without TV led to voracious reading, which inspired a passion for words, narrative, good stories, and great writers. So I guess you could say that not being able to watch Mickey Mouse inspired my writing! 🙂

Which types of characters do you enjoy writing the most? The more human, flawed, heartfelt, real, irreverent, funny, and seeking, the better!

What drives you to write? A desire to tell a story, express my thoughts, make a point.

Do you have an overall goal as an artist in general, or specifically? To create meaningful, authentic work that inspires, entertains, and provokes thought… and to reach the biggest audience I possibly can in accomplishing that.

What is the number one thing you hope readers take away from your book? Emotion. Feeling something. Being moved. I know… that’s three things! ☺

Thank you for choosing Hysterical Love. It’s a story I thoroughly enjoyed writing, exploring characters, ideas, and plot twists that dug deep yet still found the humor in it all. I hope you enjoy the read!

For independent authors like myself, the support of readers is essential. In that spirit, I invite you to leave a short review of Hysterical Love at the Amazon purchase page once you’ve finished reading. Positive feedback goes a long way toward advancing the cause of writers and indie publishing in general, and I thank you in advance for your contribution!

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Yep… all that. And thanks!


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

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Step Away From The (Misguided) Advice and Do NOT Write Four Books A Year

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No matter what experts tell you, no matter what trends, conventional wisdom, social media chatter, or your friends in the Facebook writers group insist upon, do NOT write four books a year. I mean it. Don’t.

Unless they’re four gorgeously written, painstakingly molded, amazingly rendered, and undeniably memorable books. If you can pull off four of those a year, more power to ya. But most can’t. I’d go so far as to say no one can, the qualifier being good books.

Beyond the fact that the marketplace is glutted with an overwhelming number of books already (many of dubious quality), writing good books simply takes time, lots of it. There’s no getting around that time. It involves learned skills, unhurried  imagination, fastidious drafting, diligent editing, even the time to step away, then step back, to go over it all again. And, unless you’re a hack (and we know there are plenty of those out there), isn’t the whole point of this exercise to write good books? 

Our most highly esteemed, widely applauded, prodigiously awarded, read, and revered authors know this to be true. Donna Tartt, last year’ s Pulitzer Prize winner for The Goldfinch, took eleven years to deliver that masterpiece. This year’s winner, Anthony Doerr, had only written four books in his entire career before he penned All The Light We Cannot See, wisely taking years to craft his stunning tale. The cultishly-beloved Harper Lee had only To Kill A Mockingbird in her catalogue before this year’s controversial release of Go Set A Watchman (which some are convinced was not of her doing). Even others amongst our best, who do put out work on a more regular basis, do so with focus appropriately attuned to the quality of the book, not the depth of their catalogue or the flash-speed with which they crank out product. 

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But, you say, I’m not interested in writing Pulitzer Prize winners, I don’t need to be on The New York Times bestseller list; I just wanna see my name up at Amazon and sell a few books to family and friends, and, hey, if I go viral, all the better! They say write to the market, so I gotta write to the market. I mean, look at E.L. James…she’s hardly Chaucer and look what’s happened to her!! 

Point taken. Which actually brings us to the point: what is your point?

What’s your point as a creative, an artist; an author? A purveyor of the written word? Why are you here, what is your purpose, your goal as a writer? What do you hope to achieve? Is it fame and fortune at any cost, quality be damned? Or is it about finely crafted work? It’s important to know, to decide, because those principles will guide and mandate every decision you make from there on out.  

I bring all this up because I experienced a snap the other day, one triggered by an article from Self-Published Author by Bowker called,Discovery: Another Buzzword We’re Wrestling to Understand.” In it, the writer lists many of the familiar instructions toward procuring success as an indie writer — social media, book reviews, networking, etc. — but her very first suggestion to self-published authors looking to get “discovered” was this:

 Publish. A Lot: For those of you who have spent 10 years writing your last book I have news for you. You have ten days to write your next one. Okay, I’m sort of kidding with the ten days but, candidly, the most successful authors are pushing out tons of content: meaning books, not blog posts. In most categories, readers are hungry for new reads, new books, and willing to discover new authors. You’ll have a better time getting found if you continually push new books out there. How many should you do? At a recent writers conference some authors said they publish four books a year. Yes, that’s right, four.  [Emphasis mine]

Wow.

So her first piece of advice to self-publishing authors wasn’t to put more focus on fine-tuning one’s craft, it wasn’t about taking time to mull and ponder what stories, what narratives, most inspire you to put “pen to paper”; it wasn’t even a suggestion to be relentless about working with professional content/copy editors and cover designers to create the best possible version of your work. No, it was the insanely insane advice to pump out at least four books a year. 

And people wonder why there are stigmas attached to self-publishing.

First of all, in looking at her point of reference, it depends on what you define as a “successful author.” I have a distinct feeling this may be where the disparities lie. Perhaps my own definition is a different one. 

When I self-published my first book, After The Sucker Punch, in April of 2014, I had, by then, put years into it, doing all those many things I itemized above. Because I not only wanted to publish a novel, I wanted that novel to be a work of art, a book of depth and merit, one that would not only tell a compelling story but would meet standards of publishing that authors of the highest regard are held to. I wanted it to be a book that would favorably compare with anything put out by a traditional publisher. My choice to self-publish was a result of not having engaged a publisher by the time my book was done and I was ready to market it. It was not based on the notion of joining the “second tier club” where one is unbound from the stricter, more demanding standards of traditional publishing. 

“Second tier club”? Yes. As insulting as that sounds, particularly in relation to self-publishing, there is no question that there are two tiers operating in the culture of the book industry. Take a moment to think about it, if you find that off-putting and you will see the evidence:

Based on what advice is given to self-published writers, some of which I shared above; based on the”free/bargain” pricing paradigms of most book sellers hawking those writers; based on the corner (quality)-cutting measures required to pump out endless product to meet the purportedly endless demand of those sites and their bargain-hunting readers, “second tier club” is no misnomer.

Where the best of traditional publishers set their sites not only on commercial viability but award-quality work, nurturing authors with enduring skills and profound stories to tell, in a climate that is selective (perhaps too selective) and based on the notion that that level of quality and commercial appeal is a rare and valued commodity, self-published authors are advised to, “Crank out loads of books; if you have to write little teeny short ones to get your catalogue pumped up, do that! Don’t worry about covers; your readers don’t give a hoot about artwork. It’s all about genre, easy reads, and low, low prices! And speaking of low prices, don’t even think about selling your books for more than a dollar or two, because readers who do bother with self-published books are too accustomed to bargain-basement prices to spend any more than that. This is the 99¢ Bargain Circus Book Store, where we push quantity over quality every day of the week!! CRANK OUT THAT PRODUCT!!”

I’ll bet good money Donna Tartt, Anthony Doerr, and other quality writers aren’t getting that same message from their publishers. First tier, baby.  

Look, if your point and purpose as a writer is largely related to the numbers—of books sold, of Amazon ranking, of reviews garnered, of Twitter followers and Facebook “likes”—then, certainly; follow the advice of the article quoted about. I know many self-published writers who are, and though I have no idea how well that’s working for them, it’s certainly the prevailing trend. 

But if your point and purpose as a writer is to take someone’s breath away, capture a riveting story, translate an idea—whether fantasy, love story, science fiction, human interaction, tragedy, thriller, family saga, memoir, non-fiction—in way that raises hairs or gets someone shouting “YES!”; if you’re compelled to tell that story so beautifully, so irreverently, with such power and prose as to make a reader stop to read a line over just to have the opportunity to roll those words around one more time, then don’t listen to that advice.

Instead, do the opposite: take your time, work your craft; look for the best possible ways to tell your story and allow yourself time to change your mind, sometimes often, until you know it’s right. Allow your editors time to help you mold your narrative into peak condition. Give your formatters and copy editors time to comb through your manuscript, again and again, to make sure everything is perfect. Work carefully with your cover artist to create the most gorgeous, most professional book cover you can. TAKE YOUR TIME.  

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Then take lots more to research marketing options; ask questions, weigh contradicting information, and come up with the best possible strategy for your book. Do what you choose with professionalism and without the misguided and frantic push to the “top of the list,” a pervasive attitude so rife with desperation and panic. You’re not in a race, with anyone. You are a professional author working your book your way. Be an artist, don’t be a carnival barker. Be a wordsmith, not a bean-counter. Be patient, not hysterical. Transact commerce wisely, but don’t lose your creative soul in the process. 

I know I’m bucking the trend here, and certainly there are quality issues and dubious motivations floating around both tiers. It’s also certain that, if you follow my lead, you will not be able to write four books a year, at least not four full-length books. You will write, perhaps, one. But if you do it right, taking time and taking care, you will have written one excellent book. One you’ll be proud of years from now. One your friends and family will keep on their book shelves. One readers across the globe will talk about on social media. One that tells the world, I am a writer and this book is my legacy. Then you’ll go write another of those…and so on.

The rest of it—sales, rankings, reviews, viralness, likes, tweets, awards, kudos, peer admiration… all that? If you do it right, if/when any of those things come, they will be warranted and well-deserved. You can celebrate them authentically, because you did not sell your creative soul to get them. You actually made the far, far better deal.

UPDATE: An addendum to this piece can be found at OK, So How About This Instead: Write As Many Books As YOU Choose…

Book photo by Gaelle Marcel
Fountain pen & book by Aaron Burden
Book stacks by Simson Petrol
Man writing by Evan Clark

LDW w glasses


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

It’s Not Every Novel That Has Its Own Theme Song

Rick Hirsch & me... after writing "My Search for You"
Rick Hirsch & me… shortly after writing “My Search for You”

There’s a song in my book, After the Sucker Punch, a song that comes in the epilogue and pulls a concluding plot point off the page into downloadable form. It seemed a very cool addition to the story and it is! Quite a few people have asked me about it – how it got there, did I write it for the book, who’s performing it, etc. – so I thought I’d tell the story:

I wrote the song a while back with a wonderful guitarist named Rick M. Hirsch; it’s called “My Search for You.” With Rick’s guitar tracks to inspire me, I came up with a set of lyrics from the perspective of a woman talking to her father, written a few years after my own father’s death, with a narrative based on the struggle he and I had throughout our lives relating to each other. I’d written, at that point, ten other songs with Rick for somewhere on the way, the album we were doing together at the time, most of which had something to do with love, heartache, or relationships, and I was compelled to explore a different theme with this one. It became the song it is, “My Search for You,” and while not necessarily one of the more explosive songs on the album, it has a certain singer/songwriter quality that appealed to many listeners.

Fast forward a few years… I’m writing my novel, After the Sucker Punch, a story about a woman finding her father’s journals on the night of his funeral and discovering he thought she was a failure. Based on a kernel of truth from within my family, extrapolated into the world of fiction with all its imagined characters and plotlines, the book started and remained a story largely focused on the particular vagaries, attachments, and longings that often exist between fathers and daughters. Which is key to how the song fits in.

At some point after the first or second (or tenth) draft, as I pulled out of the fog of writing to focus for a moment on interesting marketing ideas, the notion of including the song came to me. Given that the main protagonist is a former rock & roller for whom music remains an undercurrent throughout, I had the inspired idea to somehow get an actual CD of the song included as part of the book. Brilliant, I thought!

I read through the lyrics and realized I could easily, within the framework of the story I’d already created, work certain elements of those words into the dialogue and narrative so that the song made sense. Ultimately, “My Search For You” became the epilogue of the book, the song the protagonist, Tessa, writes for her father as a culmination of the journey she experiences after his death and the discovery of the journals.

Of course, including a CD with the book was a grand idea, but only possible if the book went down the traditional road with teams of high-profile players helping to publish and market it with a budget that allowed for such novel add-ons. That, as we all know, was not the road I traveled with After the Sucker Punch, and the parameters of self-publishing were not necessary amenable to the option!

But never one to give up easily, I just had to get clever about how to include this “theme song” as a tangible part of the book. And I did.

I set up a page on SoundCloud under the character’s name, Tessa Curzio, and input the song track there. I then included that link, along with the lyrics, in the epilogue of the book (an active link the Kindle version). Readers could click over the to Soundcloud page to hear “Tessa’s song,” even click from there to iTunes to download the track. I felt it was the perfect way to bring that musical plot point off the page into the real world of the reader… and readers are listening!

So if you haven’t yet gotten a copy of the book (and I hope you will), perhaps hearing the song will inspire you to do so. Following is a link to the SoundCloud page and the lyrics. Once you’ve listened and read, you just might want to know just how this piece of music fits into the story of After The Sucker Punch….

My Search For You

You were puzzled by my need for clarity
Maybe you thought I depended on language too much
But there were volumes you didn’t say or I never heard
I know you thought the way you loved was surely enough

So elusive, I wonder if you ever figured out?
How your silence always made me feel a little loud
So convinced if I sang and danced and jumped up and down
You would see me, just me, and maybe be a little proud
And sometimes I know that you heard me
Sometimes I know that you cried

CHORUS
But you left me in early December
You loved me but we both knew our time was through
Now I stand here and try to remember
The girl I discovered in my search for you

They say love doesn’t ask for more than what it gets
So why did I always need a bigger piece of you?
In the crush of life I felt sometimes lost in the crowd
Never sure if I ever came completely into view
But somehow I learned to be stronger
And somehow I’m certain you knew

CHORUS:
But you left me in early December
You loved me But we both knew our time was through
Now I stand here and try to remember
The girl I discovered in my search for you

BRIDGE:
You gave me the passion to find my way
You gave me the eyes to dream
If we squandered the time we had
You’ve got to know
That what I searched to find in you
I finally found in me

CHORUS
You left me in early December
You loved me but we both knew our time was through
Now I stand here and surely remember
The girl I discovered in my search for you

LDW w glasses


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