Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Hazards of Being a Writer by Margo Karasek and Giveaway!

Tekla’s law school career couldn’t be any better. She has top grades. She’s on Law Review. She’s a frontrunner in a mock oral argument with a sweet prize: a judicial clerkship. One problem, though: Tekla has no more money to pay for school. She needs a part-time job. Fast. Luckily, her roommate has just the solution: help two uber-wealthy prep school teens, the twin son and daughter of a billionaire Wall Street short-seller and a world-renowned model turned fashion photographer, with their schoolwork, and earn $150 an hour. Plus, enjoy an additional perk on the job, in the form of a gorgeous photo assistant who happens to have his eye on Tekla.
Easy money.

Well, not so much. Within days, Tekla’s job begins to unravel. In a world of super-wealth and high fashion, Tekla finds herself surrounded by a peculiar cast of players: two teens whose self-destructive behavior becomes ever more erratic, a father whose ambitions for his son constantly test Tekla’s notions of what is fair and ethical and what is cheating, a mother whose emotional negligence borders on abuse, and a gorgeous man who may or may not be what he appears.

As Tekla struggles to hold onto a job that takes more time and energy than she ever anticipated, her own school life begins to suffer. She makes an enemy of a professor who seems to want nothing more than to bring her down. And he’s succeeding. Soon Tekla’s life is a paradox: without her high paying part-time job, she can’t afford law school; but with it, she’ll surely flunk out of school.

The Hazards of Being a Writer

“What do you mean you can’t pick up my dry cleaning?”

That would be my mother, on her business phone, from her cubicle in Manhattan. She’s a very busy full-time accountant, with long hours—as she likes to remind me every day.

“What else do you have to do that’s so time consuming that you can’t take a few minutes to do your mother a huge favor?”

Here we go. I sigh on the inside, ready for my mother’s daily monologue—always prompted by a huge favor she needs done immediately (dry cleaning, grocery shopping, taking her dog to the vet; take your pick)—resigned to the inevitable, even though what I really want to say is: Umm. Where should I start? I have a whole chapter that needs finishing before the kids get home from school, or I’ll be even more behind on my draft than I am already!

But, no, I stay quiet. And listen. This is my mother, after all. The woman did give me life, as she also likes to remind me. Over and over.

“Did I complain every time I had to take off from work when you had something come up at school?” my mother whines into my ear. “And, I mean, it’s not like it’s a big deal. You are home all day,” she gets the dig in, again, and I cringe. You see, my mother—bless the woman—can’t wrap her head around the concept of working from home.

True, she is supportive of my writing, in theory. She just can’t understand why it takes so long (“one thousand words, that should take no more than an hour;” never mind that it takes her twice as long to write out her grocery list!). Worse—much worse, actually—my mother just refuses to accept that I can’t take off from my writing whenever she needs me to. Her reasoning: I work from home. I have no boss watching my every step, holding me accountable for every word not written. Therefore, I should be a free agent when the need arises, even if that need arises every day. I could do my writing anytime, in small bits if need be. It’s not like writing is a nine to five job—or so, I’m sure, her thinking goes.

And, that, I’ve come to learn, is one of the greatest hazards of being a writer. A scary number of people just don’t view writing from home the same as an office job. To them, if you’re not behind a desk, in a cubicle, watched over by a hawk-eyed supervisor who audits your every working hour, then, apparently, the rules don’t apply. These people don’t get that writing really is full-time work requiring the same hourly commitment as any other profession, if not more.

Frequently, with all the demands on my time, it’s a miracle that I get any writing done. But I do, by the way, get my mother’s dry cleaning.

And you’d think I would at least get some gratitude in return. But no.

“How could you write that about me in your book?” my mother wails into my ear the following morning. “What?” I struggle to figure out what she’s talking about.

“Your book,” now my mother sounds irritated with my obtuseness. “I just read the chapter where Tekla visits her parents. You made me sound awful! I never nagged you that much!”

I groan and close my eyes, because here’s the second hazard of being a writer: everyone you know will, at some point, assume either this character you created out of whole cloth or that one must really be based on them. And, of course, they only see how you portray “them” in a negative light. My mother is no exception. Actually, she’s the worst of the bunch. Every mother in my book must be based on her.

I could, certainly, explain to my mother—yet again—that just because one of my fictional characters has a mother doesn’t mean said fictional mother is her, that I do have an imagination and I use it quite often. But I don’t bother, because I’m determined to avoid the greatest hazard of being a writer: trying to explain the writing process to my accountant mother!

About the Author

Margo Karasek decided to be a writer the instant she finished reading her first novel as a kid. She loved the possibilities and freedom in observing and writing about everyday people, whose experiences—through her words—could make a lasting impact. This passion led her to NYU, where she earned a journalism and anthropology degree, with the highest honors. But since she couldn't figure out how writers made a decent living, Margo went on to law school—where she had a blast. Unfortunately, actually practicing law was nowhere near as fun as learning about it in school, so Margo took the ultimate plunge: she quit her cushy law firm job to become a full-time novelist. And, to help make ends meet throughout the process, Margo also began tutoring for some of the wealthiest, best known families in New York as a side-gig. The latter job gave her some powerful ideas for her first novel. Margo currently lives in Queens, New York with her husband and their two children, and is busy working on her next book.


Thanks to the author, one lucky Books à la Mode reader will win a print copy of Work for Hire. To enter, all you have to do fill out the Rafflecopter form below :)
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends March 7th at 11.59 EST (your time).
Open to US/CAN residents only. Sorry, international! Check out my international giveaways in the sidebar instead.
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.
Although I will be selecting winners, 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!