Tuesday, February 26, 2013

VBT: Margo Karasek guest blogs + Work For Hire Review

Hello and welcome to my stop on Margo Karasek's blog tour. Margo has a guest blog to share and then I'll share my review for work For Hire. I hope you'll help me in making the author feel welcome. Leave a comment, share the love! :)

I have a dirty, little secret: I hate writing the first draft. Always. There’s something just so intimidating about a blank computer screen. It’s terrifying. And I beat myself up about it, too. I mean . . . I am a writer. Shouldn’t I love to write, like, always?

But there you have it. I am absolutely awful at getting myself to start writing. I am a killer editor, though. I pop out those second and third drafts at the speed of light. But the first one? Not so much. That’s why, when I decided to actually write a whole book, I enrolled in a writers’ workshop. Because I have another dirty, little secret: I am an excellent student. What I can’t—no, won’t—do when I have all the time in the world to myself, I will easily do when I have a stern teacher looking over my shoulder, threatening failure and other dire repercussions. Then I’ll produce pages and pages of original text within minutes. I know, crazy.

But that was my dilemma when I set out to write Work for Hire. I just couldn’t discipline myself enough to do it on my own, so I searched high and low for a class that would give me deadlines. And that’s how I found myself in the advanced level class at the New York Writers Workshop. I had only read great things about the program. Heck, Lauren Weisberger drafted most of The Devil Wears Prada in the very same class I was about to attend. And if the workshop was good enough for The Devil Wears Prada then it would be better than perfect for me.

And it was, except participating in a writers’ workshop was nothing like I expected. Did I mention wanting a stern teacher? Well, I found fifteen of them, all sitting in one room, skeptical of my abilities, unwilling to be impressed. You see, in a workshop, every participant gets to play the role of a teacher, critiquing everyone else’s work in progress. That’s part of the setup. We submitted chapters to be critiqued and tore apart those of our fellow colleagues. Worse, the chapters had to be interesting enough to engage everyone—not just those familiar with my genre. Actually, my workshop had no other chick lit writers. There was, however, the distinguished chemistry PhD professor writing about DNA for scientific journals, a well-known journalist popping out nonfiction bestsellers and a retired musician from the New York Philharmonic writing his memoir. The twelve others had equally impressive life credentials. Like I said, a tough crowd.

At first, I struggled, trying to make my little story good enough, to be on par with those of my colleagues. But somewhere along the way, something magical happened. I stopped thinking of the workshop in terms of deadlines and motivators and started learning—really learning—about the craft of writing. I learned from the feedback on my own work and learned even more from the feedback I was giving others. I learned how to layer my story and develop characters, how to use a subtle hand to make a powerful point. Most importantly, I learned that a blank computer screen is not something to be feared, but is rather an opportunity to create something great. It is the clean slate on which I could paint my own world.

So, psst, I have one final dirty, little secret: I’m addicted to workshops. I just love them; I love the challenge—and the opportunity—to hear others tell me what they really think. And I’ve come to realize that maybe, just maybe, first drafts aren’t so bad to write after all.      

BLURB:   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.

Review Rating: 3.5 LIGHTNING BOLTS

Review: When a job becomes one woman's lifeline to finishing school, it will take a lot for her to give up.  Tekla's life is in a bit of a out of control spiral....and the true test hasn't even occurred yet.

The story is fast paced, quirky, in many cases funny, and upbeat. The characters are well created, but my main problem is that some of them make the same mistakes over and over again, to the point of me having to stop and think about it. I mean, really think about it. I know that things have to go a certain way, but sometimes it was a little overdone and tedious.   But because I felt so invested in Tekla, i finished the book and overall I did enjoy it. It's a great fiction novel with humor. I can see things happening to anyone the way they did to Tekla.

Author Bio:  

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. 

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  1. Good guest post and good review! Sounds like a fun book to read:) I'm not big on workshops myself but I agree that I seem to do better with deadlines:)