Saturday, January 19, 2013

Top 10 Things I Wish That I Had Known Back Then: Writing Advice from Jenny Milchman and Giveaway!

Brought to you by JKS Communications...
Cover of Snow by Jenny Milchman

Available now from Ballantine Books, a division of Random House:

Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, and Nancy Pickard.

Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

The first few hours following Nora’s devastating discovery pass for her in a blur of numbness and disbelief. Then, a disturbing awareness slowly settles in: Brendan left no note and gave no indication that he was contemplating taking his own life. Why would a rock-solid police officer with unwavering affection for his wife, job, and quaint hometown suddenly choose to end it all? Having spent a lifetime avoiding hard truths, Nora must now start facing them.

Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from Brendan’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown... and its darkest secrets hidden.

10 Tips for Writers: Advice I Wish I'd Known Back Then

You know those mothers who say things like, Listen to me, your mother knows? Well, my mother isn’t one of them. Which is maybe all the more reason I should’ve listened to her, way back when I began trying to get published.

Here, as the song, "Que Será, Será", goes, is what she said to me: “I think this is going to happen for you. I think you’ve got talent. But I also think that you’re new, trying to enter an industry without a single contact, and I think it’s going to take a while. Whoopi Goldberg says that every overnight success is ten years in the making.”

Did I listen to my mother? Of course not. Instead I said something like, “Ten years? Ten years! Are you crazy? You don’t know anything.”

How long did it take me? Eleven years.

Oy, are we mean to our mothers. Even when they’re right—maybe especially when they’re right.

Here are 10 Things I Wish I Had Known when I started out (with a link to the appropriate song to get you in the mood):

  1. If you do it right, this book writing thing, it will take a long time. Learning to write a novel requires an apprenticeship, and usually, several tries before you have something that can really carry a reader away. That’s OK. Writing, like fine wine and fine people, ages well.
  2. Agents do not sell every project they take on. Getting an agent is the first step to getting an offer—but only the first.
  3. Editors do not get to acquire every project they wish to. They have to answer to editorial boards, marketing departments, and publishers. Novels are acquired at the major publishers by consensus most of the time.
  4. Meet other writers, published and unpublished. They may help you in pivotal ways, or they may lend a word of support when one is most needed—which is the same thing as helping you in pivotal ways.
  5. Support other writers. Attend their author events. If you love their work, post reviews and tell the world about that great book you just read. Someday, someone will be doing the same for you.
  6. Support bookstores. Do your book-buying and gift-shopping in them. Become a part of the community that frequents them. Bookstores add a crucial face-to-face dimension to the reading experience that I think is going to become more and more valued in the coming years.
  7. Get involved with social media. Blog, Tweet, share status updates. The circle of writers and readers you meet will widen.
  8. If you don’t like blogging/Tweeting/sharing status updates, ignore the above. Do one or two of these things, do none of them. Find a way to reach readers that speaks to you. If the idea of trying to cram wisdom into 140 characters turns your stomach, go with your heart. Someone is likely to feel the same. And maybe they’ll want to read your book.
  9. After you finish your first book, begin another one as soon as it sparks.
  10. Be a nice person. Writers who don’t write all that well but put good stuff out into the universe sometimes do better than those who write circles around the nice people. And if you’re both a nice person and a good writer, well... it might just take you less than ten years.  
Know that you already have a friend on this writing road. Good luck. I can’t wait to read your book!

About the Author

Jenny Milchman is a suspense writer from New Jersey. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, from Ballantine (an imprint of Random House) just hit shelves on January 15 and is available for purchase today. Her short story, The Closet, was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in November 2012. Another short story, The Very Old Man, has been an Amazon bestseller, and the short work, Black Sun on Tupper Lake, appears in the anthology Adirondack Mysteries II.

Jenny is the Chair of the International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. She is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day, which was celebrated last year in all 50 states and four foreign countries by 350-and-growing bookstores.

Jenny hosts the Made It Moments forum on her blog, which has featured more than 250 international bestsellers, Edgar winners and independent authors. She co-hosts the literary series Writing Matters, which attracts guests coast-to-coast and has received national media attention, and loves to teach and speak about writing and publishing for New York Writers Workshop, Arts By The People, and WomenWhoWrite.


It was great having you over at Books à la Mode today, Jenny! Your advice is really sound. Wise, thoughtful, and tried and true; I'll definitely be remembering it!

Readers, thanks to JKS Communications, there is one print copy of this amazing new release up for grabs! To enter, all you have to do fill out the Rafflecopter form below :) 

Giveaway runs through February 3rd at 11.59 pm (EST).
Limited to US residents only. Sorry international readers! Check out the other giveaways at the top of my sidebar!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their winnings will be forfeited.
Although I will be selecting winners, I am not responsible for the prizes, nor for postage and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated (and you get extra entries!) ❤
Good luck!