One of the benefits of having written a book is that I have been able to connect with other authors. No matter what genre we employ, we all share similar challenges. I imagine we all experience moments when we have difficulty trying to put a particular feeling into words. Or we debate with ourselves, our publicists or publishers over how a particular character should react to an event … or what the cover of the book should look like. We wonder if people will really be entertained, enlightened or spurred to action by what we write.
Hopefully, we share some of the same successes, too. For all of us, one of those successes was getting our first book in print and/or in e-book format, whether we self-published or we did it the so-called “conventional” way.
One of the biggest blessings for me has been becoming acquainted with New York author, Michael John Sullivan. I met Mike through a mutual acquaintance, Rick Braun. Rick worked with Mike at the Associated Press in New York City, while I worked with Rick at the Milwaukee Sentinel. When I told Rick that I was writing a book, he suggested that I contact Mike, who at the time had just one book out and now has upwards of Eleventy billion and 7. Well, OK, he’s got two novels published with another almost out, plus a series of kids books.
When I contacted Mike, I was about halfway through my manuscript for “Murder in Wauwatosa: The Mysterious Death of Buddy Schumacher.” Mike told me what a publisher would be looking for from me, helped me through the process, introduced me to someone who helped me get through the contract negotiation process, and has generally been supportive ever since I met him.
I’ve read his two published novels: “Necessary Heartbreak,” and “Everybody’s Daughter,” two of a time travel trilogy. The final installment, “The Greatest Gift,” is due to be available in October. I can’t wait! He’s also got a series of children’s books called The SockKids, “Solving the Mystery of Your Missing Socks!”
It was a pleasure to be able to read his published works. But, now he has bestowed upon me the great honor of reading his as yet not even done fourth novel, “The Second World.” This is the first time an author has asked me to read an unpublished manuscript and make suggestions on character development and story line. And to have that author be someone whose work I respect as much as Mike Sullivan’s, I can only say that “honored” but scratches the surface of my feelings about this.
“The Second World” deals with a very difficult and emotional topic: abortion. Mike warned me ahead of time that this would be the topic. But I’ve learned that while Mike has tackled some gut-wrenching topics such as homelessness and abuse, he has done so with a gentle touch. Through his characters, he gets his readers to see various viewpoints of an issue without coming off as preachy.
I’m not quite halfway through Mike’s current draft of “The Second World,” but I can see that he has employed similar vehicles in this book. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that I am mesmerized by the story. It’s difficult for me to find fault in Mike’s writing, so coming up with constructive criticism and/or questions regarding characters and story lines isn’t easy. I have to force myself to think about these things.
One of Mike’s other authorly gifts is being able to tell enough of the details to keep the reader informed, yet not so many that he gives away the whole story. By doing this, he has made me not want to put the book down because I know something else central to the plot will be revealed in the next chapter. And something else in the following chapter. And so on. How will this get resolved? Will it get resolved?
I’m not sure how much help I’ll be to Mike. I like his writing so much, it’s hard to suggest anything.
It did warm my heart to hear that Mike chose to locate the sister of one of the main characters from “The Second World” in Wisconsin because he was thinking of Rick and me. I guess I better finish my next book and put a reference to New York in there somewhere.
P.S. I’m still going to buy one when it gets published.