Friday, January 15, 2016

Writing a Novel is Like Running a Marathon – Guest post by Colleen J. Shogan + blog tour

Book: Stabbing in the Senate
(A Washington Whodunit)
Author: Colleen J. Shogan
Publication: 15 November, 2015
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Life is good for Kit Marshall. She’s a staffer in D.C. for a popular senator, and she lives with an adoring beagle and a brainy boyfriend with a trust fund. Then, one morning, Kit arrives at the office early and finds her boss, Senator Langsford, impaled by a stainless steel replica of an Army attack helicopter. Panicked, she pulls the weapon out of his chest and instantly becomes the prime suspect in his murder.
Circumstances back Kit’s claim of innocence, but her photograph has gone viral, and the heat won’t be off until the killer is found. Well-loved though the senator was, suspects abound. Langsford had begun to vote with his conscience, which meant he was often at odds with his party.
Not only had the senator decided to quash the ambitions of a major military contractor, but his likely successor is a congressman he trounced in the last election. Then there’s the suspiciously dry-eyed Widow Langsford. Kit’s tabloid infamy horrifies her boyfriend’s upper-crust family, and it could destroy her career. However, she and her free-spirited friend Meg have a more pressing reason to play sleuth.
The police are clueless in more ways than one, and Kit worries that the next task on the killer’s agenda will be to end her life.

About The Author
Colleen J. Shogan is the deputy director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress. She is a former Senate staffer who started reading mysteries at the age of six. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American government at George Mason University, Georgetown, and Penn. Stabbing in the Senate is her first novel.

Guest post by the author

Writing a Novel is Like Running a Marathon

As my bio demonstrates, I’m not a fiction writer by trade. I work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. at the Library of Congress. I am an avid reader of mysteries, and one day, I took a walk in my suburban neighborhood and conceived of the plot that eventually became my first novel, Stabbing in the Senate.

It was a big achievement to write a mystery. I’m a political scientist by training, and I never took a class in creative writing. As I wrote, revised, edited, and shared my drafts, I learned more about the craft. Even after I was satisfied with what I’d written, I realized quickly that the party was just beginning.

Publishing a novel is similar to running a marathon. I’ve finished five 26-milers and the common lessons from both experiences are compelling. For a long distance runner, the race starts at Mile 20 or Mile 21, even though mathematically, 80% has already been completed. The last six miles are the real test of endurance. Competitors drop out and medals are won or lost. The final leg of the race is the most important.

Likewise, a well-written draft of a novel is often not enough. The composition of a story is followed by the long slog of disseminating your literary masterpiece. The business side of writing – the last six miles – is the most difficult part of the entire endeavor. There are two critical components to this process: finding an agent and then securing a publisher.

It requires persistence, relentless networking, careful research, and sometimes a bit of luck to find an agent for representation.  I went to one-day conferences about the publishing industry, read websites, and talked to many authors before I found my agent.

One day, something glorious will happen. You will receive a phone call from someone who read your book and believes he or she can sell it. That will be a great day, and most likely, a memory seared into your brain.

After signing an agreement with an agent, the interactions with publishers can be challenging. There may be periods of extreme excitement and unfortunate disappointment. It’s a roller coaster ride, and a strong stomach is required. Some aspiring authors find the criticism and rejection too difficult to handle psychologically.

This is where the confidence in the overall quality and contribution of the book comes into play. It’s important for writers to accept criticism from acquiring editors and make improvements. But it’s equally important to possess a strong and steady belief in the project. Once again, a marathon runner never loses sight of the Mile 26 signpost. Most likely, the right publisher is out there.

I’m proud of Stabbing in the Senate, just as I’m proud of each of my finisher medals. The pride emanates partially from the final result. But for me, the bulk of the enjoyment came from the journey itself. Much like a marathon, if you want to write a novel, be prepared for the long uphill stretches so you can enjoy the thrill of crossing the finish line.

As part of the blog tour with Lori Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, there is a tour-wide giveaway for several prizes. Enter using the widget below.

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Author Links

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Buy Links: Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

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