Get Started!

Posted by admin on April 5th, 2013


This is it! I’m officially here. In this place, on this blog, providing advice, encouragement and tips. I’ve stopped and started so many times that it has become a source of endless frustration. I don’t have time. I don’t know what to write. I have nothing to say. I have too much to say. I’ll ramble. I’ll get blocked. But then I realize that what I do, what I offer and what I am giving to my clients, my friends, my family and my students is advice that is strong and helpful and powerful. It’s sometimes direct and straight to the point and sometimes it takes the scenic route. It’s the answer they’ve been looking for or the spark they needed to follow through. I want to share daily insight into building the career you dream about that so that everyone can be inspired. We can all use more daily inspiration and guidance. While I’m busy promoting authors and getting them to recognize and distill their own voice and mission, I can help others do the same.

That’s what this blog is, a place to be inspired. To find your voice. To hear a call to action. Because how many of you are out there doubting yourself? Doubting your voice? Doubting your ability to be newsworthy or a good storyteller or just plain interesting.  Well, now is the time to STOP doubting. I’m a media maven. An architect for books and authors. I’ll help you chart the course and give you the vision to complete it. Think of it as an infusion of creativity.

I’m not a fan of the word “branding” because it is overused and under appreciated but at its center, branding is all about recognizability. Creating your mission statement. What do you want to tell people? What is your book about? What do you WANT to write about? Who do you want to be? How do you want to affect people? What kinds of people do you want to have an impact on?

Whether you have written a novel, a memoir, a cookbook, a thriller or a self-help book, you have a mission. You have something to say, a story to tell, or you would never have picked up a pen. You wouldn’t have dreamed of being published if you didn’t want people to hear you, to find you, to want more from you.

I’m here to help you get those words out. To be news worthy. To give editors, readers, reviewers, producers something to grab onto. Something that ignites a fire in them to want more from you.

The only way I can help you is to be here for you. To give my advice. To give examples, case studies, positive affirmations, sparks of creativity and guidance. I hope that my words help. I hope that my advice rings true. I hope it opens your eyes to something that you never thought of before or something that was right in front of you all along. Either way, if I can push you in the direction of your dreams, then I will have succeeded. And I will be so thankful I started this blog. Finally!

Questions

Posted by admin on April 4th, 2013


What are your biggest questions about book publishing and publicity? Are you self-published, traditionally published or dreaming about the day when you will some day be published? Regardless of where you are on your publishing journey, questions will always follow you. So speak up! Let me know what’s keeping you up at night or causing you to stare longingly at the blinking cursor.

 

The Chase

Posted by admin on February 27th, 2013


You’re a writer. You have a novel published or are waiting to hear back from an agent/editor/critique partner. You click around on Facebook or Twitter and find that someone you know has a BRIGHT SHINY NEW BOOK DEAL!

You feel a moment of excitement for them and then suddenly the truth and reality comes crashing down. Why don’t YOU have a book deal or movie deal or even an agent? Why are you still toiling away at this manuscript without seeing any return on your investment of time + emotion + hard work + patience?

Maybe you have a deal and your book has been published. Congrats! You’ve gotten a few reviews but nothing substantial. You open up People Magazine and smack dab in the middle of the book review section you see a four star review for a writer you know, maybe one you feel you are more talented then or has already achieved their fare share of attention. The inevitable crash of disappointment sets in again.

Why does it seem that the writing life is filled with so much disappointment? It seems that way because we are always chasing the next best thing. If we don’t have an agent, all we see are writers with agents. If we get an agent, other writers are getting better deals + bigger advances. Even if we’ve scaled the mountain and gotten the agent, the book deal and have been published, now we’re not getting the right media exposure. We are climbing up a mountain and we can’t see the top. We’re not sure if we’re even going in the right direction.

So what happens? We burn out. We quit. We look around for other careers because this one is too hard with too much rejection and competition. If we keep searching for something better or more impressive, we will soon learn that we will never reach the top of the mountain because we will never be satisfied.

The problem is that we are only seeing the narrowest view of this climb. If we don’t get an agent, then we are a failure. If we don’t get a six-figure book deal, then we are a failure. If we don’t achieve starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly or People magazine, then we are a failure.

Writers are too busy chasing their ideas of perfection instead of looking around at how far they’ve come. Think back to your 4th grade self. If you told your 4th grade self that you had written a 75,000 word novel, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed? If you told your 4th grade self that you had written an article or published a book review, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed. If you told your 4th grade self that you can search a website called Amazon.com and find your book with a cover and a price and people can actually buy it, wouldn’t 4th grade you be impressed? (PS- While you’re at it, tell your 4th grade self to invent Amazon.com, then you’ll really be impressed!)

But seriously, we forget to appreciate how far we’ve already come in the direction of our dreams because we are always chasing + comparing. We continue to chase an idea of success without seeing it all around us. We compare our success to the success of others. We need to learn that there is no such thing as perfection and as Roosevelt said, “comparison is the thief of joy.” There is always going to be a better deal, better sales, better coverage, better reviews. But if you love what you are doing and can appreciate the steps you’ve made in the pursuit of your dreams, then you are already a huge success.

Tips for success:

-Do one thing every day that moves you toward your ultimate goal. Write a thousand words a day. Pitch one magazine article to an editor. Write one important blog post.

-Feel grateful for the success you have achieved, no matter how seemingly small or insignificant. Remember, your 4th grade self would be impressed.

-Look at where you were last year vs. where you are today. I guarantee you have made strides towards your goal.

Move forward. Keep going, moving, progressing, learning. You can’t feel like a failure if you are always learning and growing.

-Stop comparing yourself to others. Everyone’s journey is unique, with equal parts high + low. And in the words of your 4th grade teacher, “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” 

Book Trailer for Josh Mohr’s FIGHT SONG

Posted by admin on January 25th, 2013


I love when authors find creative ways to bring their book into the spotlight. A book trailer can often feel lifeless and flat when it becomes simply a reading of the book’s description with stock images interspersed. Josh Mohr has created an original, humorous and entertaining trailer for his novel FIGHT SONG.

Enjoy!

The K Street Affair by Mari Passananti {Interview}

Posted by admin on January 14th, 2013


1. What was the inspiration for The K Street Affair?

I’m a bit of a political junkie, and I’ve always been fascinated by the nexus of money and politics. At this point in our nation’s history, large corporations hold unprecedented sway over laws and lawmakers. Which is problematic, because as Lee Raymond, the CEO of Exxon/Mobil famously said, his multinational corporation isn’t a U.S. company, so he doesn’t make decisions based on what’s good for the United States. Think about that. These are the people with nearly bottomless resources. They employ armies of lobbyists and spend mind-boggling sums to shape the laws of the land in their shareholders’ favor. Since the Supreme Court decided Citizens United, there is no way to prevent corporations and even foreign interests (whose agendas may conflict directly with our economic and national security interests) from making enormous donations to political causes. In writing The K Street Affair, I set out to answer two questions: What if a politically wired multinational corporation set out to start a war to advance its own economic interests? And if one relatively ordinary citizen stumbled upon their plans, should she risk everything, including her life and the lives of her family members, to stop them?

2.     The K Street Affair is very different from your debut novel, The Hazards of Hunting While Heartbroken. What inspired you to go in this direction?

I actually wrote a draft of the novel that would become K Street Affair before I wrote The Hazards. The most interesting rejection that manuscript received said something along the lines of “You can write, but the world isn’t ready for a female Jason Bourne. Try something less far fetched.” I shelved the project and focused on The Hazards, which is a less quirky women’s novel. Once The Hazards was published, I decided to dust off K Street Affair. It was a fascinating exercise. Plots involving secret offshore money laundering and terror finance (whether witting or unwitting) by politicians and their corporate friends somehow seem less far fetched that they did five years ago. Ultimately, both novels feature a young woman protagonist forced to find her backbone through a series of unwanted events.

3.     Did you do extensive research into politics and corporate America while writing The K Street Affair?

Yes. I cite some of the books I devoured in the Author’s Note at the end of the book. I had extensive conversations with a private equity executive, who for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous. He was the first person to whisper the words “offshore money laundering” to me, and for that I am grateful. The central crimes in K Street Affair wouldn’t have been feasible without the series of blind trusts and blocker corporations the villains set up outside the reach of the IRS.

4.     What is your typical writing day like?

Sometimes I wish I had a typical writing day. I usually write while my son, a newly minted three-year-old, is in preschool, which gives me twenty uninterrupted hours a week (if I’m lucky). I wish I could say I’m one of those people who can work late into the night, but I’m exhausted by the time my son goes to bed. Whenever I work during the wee hours, I write the most awful drivel, which I inevitably end up deleting. Once in a while, if I’m on a roll, I’ll hire a sitter. I get nothing done if I try to work while watching my kid. Because he’s three, he’s permanently set to self-destruct mode. I’m pretty sure that any parent who claims to work while minding a preschooler either gets accomplishes very little. Small kids are wired with invisible antennae that alert them to rivals for parental attention. In our house, my work is my son’s nemesis.

5.     Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you outline? Are you a planner?

I always know how things will end for my main characters when I start writing, but I don’t write extensive outlines. The downside of this method is that I write myself into corners every so often. I suppose that’s part of my process. If something a character does isn’t working, I go back, unravel and re-write until the scene makes sense.

6.     What is the best writing (and/or life) advice you have ever received?

Failure isn’t an option. If you suffer a set back, you dust yourself off, maybe even lick your wounds a little, but you always get back on the metaphorical horse.

7.     What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?

THE SHOEMAKER’S WIFE — My book club’s pick this month tells the intertwined stories of two young people from the Italian Alps who emigrate to America before the First World War. A well researched novel, told in a charming voice and presented on a nearly epic scale. The Constant Gardner—John LeCarre’s best spy novel ever, in my humble opinion. I saw the movie years ago but never read the book until this summer. DRIFT—I confess I’ve been waiting to read this look at the military-industrial complex until the galleys for K Street Affair shipped, because when it released in May, I was making the last edits to my manuscript and I was terrified this critically acclaimed book would inspire another massive re-write.

8.     What do you think is the biggest myth of being a novelist?

I think there’s a perception among many non-writers that if you publish a book, you’ll make a good living. While that certainly happens for some authors, it’s not the norm.

9.     What advice would you give to an unpublished writer?

You need thick skin. Writing involves a staggering amount of rejection and criticism. As to process:

(1.) Write a draft.

(2.) Put it away for several weeks.

(3.) Take it out a revise ruthlessly.

(4.) Show the manuscript to an editor or writers’ workshop—people other than your mom or best friends.

(5.) Revise again.

(6.) Repeat steps 2 through 5 until satisfied.

10.  What are you working on now?

I’ve started work on my third novel, about a woman who sacrifices her legal career in order to follow her celebrated humanitarian husband to the third world. If he works tirelessly to save countless children, but treats his own family abominably, is he still a great man? In aid to the developing world, do appearances matter more than results? Does modern marriage have room for two big, ambitious personalities, or does one partner always end up yielding? I also have an entirely different book percolating: a courtroom tale about a big firm lawyer assigned to a capital case. I want to look not only at the legal system, but at the personal toll a case with such stakes takes on the lawyer, a young wife and mother.

Read more about Mari on her website and be sure to pick up a copy of THE K STREET AFFAIR.