Sunday, February 10, 2013

Three Valuable Writing Tips (from Experience!) by Mari Passananti and Giveaway!

The K Street Affair
Mari Passananti

Genre: Thriller, adult
Page Count: 316
Release Date: 8 January 2013
Rutland Square Press (self-published)

What if a massive corporation, one with political ties on both sides of the Atlantic, decided to start a war?

Hours after a crippling attack rocks Washington, D.C., Lena Mancuso, a talented young associate at one of the country s best law firms, finds federal agents at her door, bearing unbelievable news. Lena's clients may have financed the murder of hundreds of civilians.

The FBI wants Lena's insider access to spy on her firm s high-profile roster of international clients. Their ranks include a disgraced K Street lobbyist, a flamboyant Russian oil baron and the future Saudi king—unlikely bedfellows linked by common interests in a massive multinational corporation with lofty but sinister goals: control of the world oil markets and a takeover of the United States government.

My Biggest Writing Epiphanies

I thought, when I sat down to draft my first novel, that good writing and thick skin would be all I’d need to thrive in the publishing world. I was naïve. Three key epiphanies have helped me along the way:

1. Most writers need a tribe.

When, several years ago, I penned a rough draft of my first novel, I didn’t know any authors. I thought of writing as a lonely pursuit, to be conducted in solitude, or at most, in the company of one or more cats.

Only after I’d spent a year of my life hunched over my laptop, churning out the roughest of rough drafts did I realize that I needed a network of other authors, non-author publishing industry professionals and potential readers.

Building a professional network takes time. I wish I’d started earlier. Why? Nobody wants to follow folks who do nothing but push their wares. Nobody knows your blog exists if you don’t spread the word. No fairy god-editor will flutter onto your doorstep and offer you paid freelance work you haven’t sought out. This is a bitter pill for many introverted, cat-person types to accept: we writers must be at least a little outgoing.

On the other hand, I’ve found the majority of authors to be incredibly generous with their time and advice, on everything from the particulars of craft to the economics of publishing. But I offer this caveat:

2. Listen to voices of experience, but don’t take every nugget of advice as gospel truth.

I remember hearing a moderately famous author speak five or six years ago. He said he works ten hours a day, five days a week. He told his audience of aspiring authors that if they couldn’t make that kind of sacrosanct time commitment, they should forget the book business.

Many of us have small children, day jobs and other life pressures. I know author moms who write in parking lots in their minivans, who use Chuck E. Cheese as a cheap babysitter, and who write only an hour a day. Just like some of us write by the seats of our pants and others outline, we all have different rhythms. Right now, I work when my son is in preschool. My short work week has taught me to be a hyper-efficient time manager.

A lot of authors also insist that author blogs should focus on the writing life and process. I prefer to use my blog to exercise different types of writing muscles, to write about real life, and yes, I sometimes use that space as a soapbox. I categorically reject the notion that fiction writers cannot express opinions on current events for fear of alienating readers.

3. Publishing takes a long time.

As soon as I told friends and family members I was writing a novel, they asked when they could buy it. After several months went by, I started noticing pitying looks whenever the subject of my novel-to-be came up. I wish I’d had a clue about timing in the book business.

No matter how deeply you love your first draft, I urge you to resist the urge to blast it out to every agent in the country. It is not ready, even if your mom and best friend swoon over your words. Hire a reputable freelance editor, workshop your novel, and/or show it to experienced authors or industry professionals in your tribe. Don’t be shocked if revisions take longer than drafting. On the plus side, many authors find they love revising.

If you query agents, prepare to hear nothing for several months. If an agent shops your novel, it may not sell right away, or at all. And if it does, you won’t see your book in print for over a year from the time you sign the publishing contract.

If you publish independently, you control timing, but you’ll need to address issues including design, distribution and marketing. Launching your own press is like starting any other business: it requires some cash investment. A lot of writers gloss over this fact, but I think it’s important to mention.

The (really) good news: Today’s authors have more options than ever for getting their books to market, and for keeping them in print longer.

The business of publishing will continue to change, but one crucial factor will remain the same. Most writers write because they cannot imagine not writing. We do it for the love of the game. That’s what keeps me at it every day, or at least every day that preschool is in session.

About the Author

Mari grew up in Rhode Island, a state known principally for its small geographic footprint, picturesque shoreline and corrupt politicians. She is the oldest of three children of a homemaker slash poet and a bootstrap entrepreneur.

After college, Mari flirted with the idea of journalism school. Her dad talked her into law school (this was the last time anyone talked Mari into anything). He argued that a law degree would provide a more secure financial future, plenty of options and all the attendant good stuff that comes with having choices in life. Which it might have done, had Mari stuck with legal practice. She disliked big firm life from the get go, bailed out and became a headhunter.

Around the time her thirty-fifth birthday started to loom large, Mari found the gumption to try to make a living as a writer. Her first novel, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken, was published in 2011, or around the time her fortieth birthday began creeping up on the horizon. Her next book, a suspense novel titled The K Street Affair, debuted in 2013.

Mari lives with her partner, their son, one largish rescue dog and two cats in Boston's South End. Her interests include the outdoors, anything to do with horses, travel and reading.


Thanks to the publicist, Kelley & Hall, two lucky Books à la Mode readers will each win a brand new spankin' print copy of The K Street Affair. Can I say jealous?? To enter, all you have to do fill out the Rafflecopter form below :)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends February 25th at 11.59 EST (your time).
Open to US readers only. International readers, check out my other giveaways at the top of the sidebar!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen.
I am in no way responsible for the prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Plus, you get extra entries ;)
Good luck!