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

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

From INDIES UNLIMITED: The Persistence of Self-Publishing Stigmas and How To Transcend Them

Indies Unlimited

In the world of independent writing there exists an enormous pool of resources designed to guide, educate, inform, cheerlead and help independent writers. Indies Unlimited is one of the most popular of those sites, one that works hard to provide what authors, writers, and those working with them need to move constructively forward in a constantly changing industry. I was delighted to be invited to write a “guest post” for them.

In thinking about what salient issue to cover, I decided to throw some focus on the conundrum around “the quality of self-published books,” an ongoing discussion, even debate, that rages (OK, maybe rages is too harsh; how about persists?) amongst publishers, marketers, promoters, reviewers; magazines and newspapers, certainly readers and even writers, as the self-publishing trend continues to expand.

Those of us in the category are inevitably faced with a set of preconceived ideas and opinions about what a self-published author is and what that author provides by way of their independently published book, and while many of those notions are folly — or certainly non-applicable to the better writers — they DO, unfortunately, apply to far too many. This piece offers some rethinking about how to change that reality:

The Persistence of Self-Publishing Stigmas and How To Transcend Them:

We self-published writers are like the big kids Mom and Dad left at home with the baby; there’s a list of instructions on the refrigerator but we’re basically on our own. Which means we have no choice but to step up. To meet the challenge. To make sure the “baby” that is our book flourishes as well as the one down the street with the high-priced nanny…

… yet one [writer] remarked that most self-published writers can’t afford editors and cover designers and so they “do the best they can,” their books going out “as is.” Another told me, “Readers are less picky because ebooks are so cheap”….

 Click HERE to read full article at Indies Unlimited.

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

About Those Book Reviews…

Woman praying for… excellent book sales? Lotsa “likes”? Good reviews?

Self-promotion. Ugh.

To the creative soul awash in inspiration, artfulness, and flights of fancy, there is nothing more antithetical to the Muse than blowing one’s own damn horn. “Shameless self-promotion,” as a friend of mine puts it, which comes replete with discomfort and the awkwardness of braggadocio. But still… it seems we must.

Back in the day – or if you have the sort of career in which these characters appear – publicists, marketing and promotion specialists, managers, agents, handlers, etc., did the heavy lifting when it came to the strutting of stuff. The artist was protected from this crass commercial cacophony by virtue of having a team, a cadre, a crowd of enthusiasts who knew just what to say, when and to whom, to get that artist a front cover, a high-profile radio interview, the best book tour, all the right appearances at all the right places. Now? That cadre? That team? It’s you.

Well, it’s you if you are one of the growing number of independent artists who revel in the passion of creativity but wearied of shuffling behind velvet ropes held tight by the gatekeepers. Or, in simpler terms: damn, it’s hard these days to get an agent, publisher, manager, publicist, any of those folks!!

So what’s an artist to do; an artist who trusts their own voice and is willing to walk their own road even if those gate won’t open? Well, those artists are doing it for themselves. Just like the sisters.

Musicians made the leap first. When big labels tumbled into the swirling eddy of the digital revolution and no one understood how to proceed when all previously held paradigms blew into bits, musicians, bands, and singer/songwriters figured out how to transcend; how to get into those Pro-Tools studios and get the job done with a level of excellence that used to drain bank accounts but could now be covered by Mom, Dad and your freelance fees. And when they had their records recorded, mixed and mastered exactly as they wanted, without interference from bean-counters and suits with no idea of artistry, they got busy promoting the living hell out of those records, creating viable, accessible, impossible-to-pigeonhole careers as independent musicians. Which meant lots of teeth-gritting but ultimately necessary – and often quite effective – self-promotion. Entire careers have been built on that.

Now it’s the writers’ turn. The writing/publishing industry is/has been going through a similar upheaval and the pain is starting to show. While the Big Six publishing houses (some say it’s now the Big Five) have struggled against the turbulence of changing tastes, trends, and delivery systems for the written word, companies like Amazon have rewritten the book, so to speak, on how books are sold, writers are advanced, and readers are supplied. Money in traditional publishing has become unpredictable and unsustainable, which has led to gatekeepers selecting only a few who are predicted to fit the mold, meet the formulas, and overcome the changing tides. Which left out the other talented folk who, heretofore, would have been amongst the chosen. Have you seen the new Noah movie yet? Picture the bulk of writers as those left behind on terra firma as Russell Crowe battened down the hatches and floated off with his handpicked horde.

So those of us left outside have taken a cue from the indie musicians. Courtesy of Amazon and other sites, independent writers have been given the power to move forward despite closed door. The demand remains for excellent,  extraordinary, really good work; for brilliant stories, goose-bumping prose, and unforgettable characters. But, lo and behold, it appears a great many writers who were not let in the gates can and do provide that standard of literature. How lovely that the industry has evolved to the point that these outliers now have a portal, a support system, a facility with which to publish their own work! It’s quite brilliant. But…

Back to self-promotion. Because even though Amazon and affiliates do quite a good job at the various and creative ways in which they promote their authors – clearly a win/win situation – there’s no getting around the fact that independent writers MUST blow their own horns. Which means a great many things, not least of which is asking readers who’ve read their books to leave their – hopefully – positive reviews on their Amazon page… or wherever else such things matter, like Goodreads or Shelfari or other book sites. Reviews are not requested for the sake of ego; they’re requested for the sake of algorithms that rank a book by many things, including the number of reviews those books elicit.

So when a writer asks you to leave a review, understand that they are being a good, independent artist, taking very seriously their commitment to do right by their work, their art; their business. And if you can, if you are so inclined, if you are interested in supporting that artist, and, in a bigger sense, the independent publishing industry, you will be happy to leave one.

And that artist will be very, very grateful.

Woman Kneeling in Prayer by Émile Plassan @ Wikimedia Commons

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