Tuesday, October 4, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Mark Connelly


Mark Connelly was born in Philadelphia and grew up in New Jersey.  He received a BA in English from Carroll College in Wisconsin and an MA and PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  His books include The Diminished Self: Orwell and the Loss of Freedom, Orwell and Gissing, Deadly Closets:  The Fiction of Charles Jackson, and The IRA on Film and Television.  His fiction has appeared in The Ledge, Indiana Review, Cream City Review, Milwaukee Magazine, and Home Planet News.  In 2014 he received an Editor’s Choice Award in The Carve’s Raymond Carver Short Story Contest; in 2015 he received Third Place in Red Savina Review’s Albert Camus Prize for Short Fiction. His novella Fifteen Minutes received the Clay Reynolds Novella Prize and was published by Texas Review Press in 2005. 

Mark’s latest book is the literary fiction/humor/satire, Wanna-be’s.

Connect with Mark on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Book:

With his new girlfriend – a soccer mom with a taste for bondage – urging him to “go condo,” failed screenwriter Winfield Payton needs cash. Accepting a job offer from a college friend, he becomes the
lone white employee of a black S&L. As the firm’s token white, he poses as a Mafioso to intimidate skittish investors and woos a wealthy cougar to keep the firm afloat. Figure-skating between the worlds of white and black, gay and straight, male and female, Jew and Gentile, Yuppie and militant, Payton flies higher and higher until the inevitable crash. . .

Praise for Wanna-be’s:

This book right here! What can I say about Winfield Payton...is he the most unlucky pasty or most unlikely fall guy...what a schmuck...I laughed so hard at this,for this guy....with this guy....every character described in this book will immediately remind you of a real life joker in the in the 24 hour news cycle on all of the Major networks and cable television channels regurgitating skewed facts benefiting them and lining their pockets....it's hip and fresh writing which could easily become a HBO series....or Starz..maybe..anyway get this book....I laughed so hard...almost popping my recent stitches from surgery...Mr. Connelly...thanks for making my recuperation fun...this book is not for the faint of heart..or PC sensitive readers...

-- Lynda Garcia Review

For More Information

  • Wanna-be’s is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

My initial research was simply reflecting on my own experiences as the token white in a black company and paying attention to the panoply of talking heads on cable news.  I created a character Winfield Payton, a hapless wanna-be, and started writing a series of humorous stories.  After the first one was published, I realized I could rearrange the separate stories and create a novel.  I studied the plot and dramatic arc of my favorite novels, so the various episodes formed a pattern to create novel that opened with the blossoming of a relationship and ended with Winfield’s rejection.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I submitted Wanna-be’s to a few contests and received some favorable comments.  After a chapter was published as a short story in The Great American Literary Magazine, I decided to self-publish.

If self-published, did you hire someone to format the ebook version for you or did you do it yourself?  Can you tell us what that was like?

  You can learn almost anything by watching YouTube.  I found some helpful  videos
  and with a lot of replays learned how to format my book for Amazon.

If self-published, how did you determine the price?

  I followed guidelines established by Amazon and surveyed comparable e-novels.  I have
  lowered the price a few times to take advantage of promotional programs.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?
  
   I launched it immediately to test the results and determine whether I wanted to self-publish another novel.

How did you choose your cover?

    Winfield is a person in transition and he does fly around the country, so an airport setting seemed perfect. I found a photo of a man watching a plane take off.  To me it seemed the perfect metaphor for guy who always seems to be arriving late and missing out.  Ordinary losers miss the bus.  Winfield misses the plane.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

    I had to fine-tune the separate stories so they would read like chapters in a book.

  
What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

    I think that is a great idea.  I have a published book on a similar theme called Fifteen Minutes that would make a great promo combo for Wanna-be’s.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

      Edit, edit, edit.  Read your book aloud to hear awkward and confusing sentences and catch spelling and grammar errors.  If it is non-fiction conduct rigorous fact-checking and
adequately credit outside sources.  If it is fiction, pay attention to dialogue.  Make sure each character has his or her own distinct voice.  Putting your own words in quotation marks creates flat and dull conversations.  Create a voice, a vocabulary, a speaking style
for each character to bring them to life. 

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Get reviews, use social media, hire professional publicists.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I am writing new adventures for Winfield Payton, taking him to new venues and placing him on a larger canvas.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

I can only quote the first review I got on Amazon:
   
      What can I say about Winfield Payton...is he the most unlucky pasty or most unlikely fall guy...what a schmuck...I laughed so hard at this, for this guy....with this guy....every character described in this book will immediately remind you of a real life joker in the in the 24 hour news cycle on all of the Major networks and cable television channels regurgitating skewed facts benefiting them and lining their pockets....it's hip and fresh writing which could easily become a HBO series. . .

This was a better promotion for my book than anything I could have dreamed up. 

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