Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Margo Karasek Guest Post & Book Excerpt

Margo Karasek is the author of Work For Hire. She's making a stop here on her CLP blog tour to talk about writing and to give us a peek at her chick lit novel. Welcome, Margo!

Guest Post

Hello. My name is Margo, and I have a confession to make: I used to be the world’s laziest writer.

Yup. Before marriage and kids and part-time jobs and other pesky “adult” responsibilities—-when, theoretically, I had all the time in the world to write—-I couldn’t do it . . . because I was lazy. And I’m not just talking about the “delay the inevitable as long as possible” kind of lazy. We’re talking full-blown “find any excuse in the world not to write” kind of sloth. I mean, I’d clean my house and cook a four-course meal before I’d make myself sit down in front of a computer. And I hate cleaning and cooking. Really, “idle” should have been my middle name. I’d go for days—-weeks even—-without writing a single word. It’s amazing that I managed to produce anything.

Back then, my typical day looked something like this: Get up. Have coffee. Eye the computer. Decide to eat breakfast (you know, because thinking and writing usually goes better on a full stomach). Turn on the computer. Notice new dust next to computer. Decide to “tidy up.” Move the computer out of the way. Notice it’s time for lunch. Turn off the computer. Repeat process after lunch then dinner, filling in a different excuse as necessary. Rarely did I manage to actually sit in front of the computer. But on those rare occasions when I actually did, when even I ran out of excuses, I’d bend the proverbial stick the other way; then I’d go on a writing binge: I’d sit glued to my seat-—spitting out thousands of words—-unmoving, for hours. I wouldn’t eat or drink. Heck, the house could’ve burned down around me and I wouldn’t have noticed. All I wanted—-no needed—-to do was write. After twenty-four hours, I would collapse from exhaustion and sleep the whole of the next day.     

Of course, all this changed when I had kids. When my daughter was born, she pulled the rug out from underneath my old, trusty writing “routine.” Excuses? I didn’t need to come up with any because my screaming newborn provided plenty of legitimate reasons to avoid the writing chair. And writing binges? Please . . . no self-respecting infant would ever permit her parent twenty-four hours of uninterrupted me time in front of a computer screen. Suddenly, writing became a luxury, a rare commodity, that my sleep deprived brain craved like never before. I desperately wanted to catch moments where I could jot something down. I needed to be constantly writing, like I had never needed before. So I got myself a little journal with a pen attached and carried it everywhere I went.

I created my own writing opportunities: Napping infant. I instantly had a pen in hand. Taking a shower. I was writing in my head. Brushing teeth with a toddler hanging off my leg. Yup. You guessed it. The pen and journal were in my semi-free hand. And when my daughter, and then son, finally went down for the night, I got to transcribe all my little pearls of creativity. It was amazing, because with far less free time I managed to produce so much more work!

I started writing Work for Hire as a carefree single girl figuring herself out in the world. I finished the largest chunk of the book as an overworked, and often overwhelmed, mother of two. Now I’m readily tackling larger writing projects that I never imagined would be possible. So please, let me reintroduce myself. Hello, my name is Margo and I am finally a very busy, and productive, writer.             

Excerpt from Work For Hire:

The telephone screamed. 

At nine am. On a Saturday. 

What the hell…? 

I burrowed my head in a pillow. 

My mother. It had to be. Checking up on me after my night of partying. Calling to say she didn’t approve of sleeping late, even on weekends. She wasn’t going to mention that no well-bred young woman should be out until four in the morning, especially if she’s single and studying to be a lawyer.  

Well too bad, Mom, I yawned. I wasn’t going to answer. She could talk to the machine. Her monologue didn’t require my participation anyway.  

The phone rang again. Its cry seeped into my brain and made me painfully aware of an oncoming headache. 

God, for what sins are You punishing me with my mother’s early morning dose of parental concern?            

Of course, if I didn’t pick up soon my mother could possibly assume something horrible had happened to me on my one night out in more than a month, just as she’d predicted. Then she would spring into action, determined to find her baby. She would call my suitemate Lauren and drag her out of bed to come check on me. 

That wouldn’t be good. Lauren got in later than I had, and would probably be pissed upon getting a wake-up call from someone else’s mother. And that’s assuming she even answered. If she didn’t, my mother probably would call the campus police to come and check on both of us. Then she would hightail it into Manhattan after me. And I would have to live that embarrassment down for the rest of my law school career. I could just imagine the comments from my section mates.

“Hey, Tekla, how old are you that your mommy has to know your every move?”

Oh Lord, I groaned as I imagined their sneering faces—law students could be so vicious. I bolted up in bed despite the headache—it had arrived—and lunged for the phone, trying to avert social catastrophe. 

Too late. The room went momentarily silent. Then the machine clicked to life. I stood suspended over it, uncertain what to do, my hand on the phone’s receiver as a female voice filled the quiet.   

“Tekla? Tekla, this is Lisa.”

My hand dropped.

Thank you, God. 

It wasn’t my mother. I contemplated returning to bed. It was early, and I had no classes. No work either. I could nap at least two more hours. And my feet were cold. Actually, now that I noticed, goose bumps dotted my entire body. Clearly, the tank top and shorts I had worn to bed were inappropriate for the cool New York fall weather. 

My bed looked so warmly inviting. But the short sprint, and the possibility of my mother, had me wide-awake, so I stayed where I was. 

“You know, Lisa Williams, Mr. Lamont’s assistant.”

I ran my tongue around my mouth. I needed a toothbrush. Bad. But later. Because I sure as hell knew Lisa. She was my employer’s current personal assistant, his children’s former nanny, and probably his current mistress. She had managed to land a job at Mr. Lamont’s billion-dollar firm by first taking care of his two children while his wife trotted around the globe snapping pictures for glossy fashion magazines and schmoozing with celebrities. 
Lisa was one of my least favorite people. Ever since I started working at the Lamont household as the children’s tutor she made my few hours there miserable with her nitpicking. So why the hell was she calling me at nine on a Saturday?

“Listen, you have to call me back as soon as possible. It’s very important. Gemma is missing and no one can find her.”

I frowned. How could Gemma, my student, be missing when I just saw her this Friday? I had worked on her biology homework while she told me all about her plans to go to her friend’s birthday party that night. Where would she be, if not at said friend’s house? And how could no one find a fourteen-year-old glued to her cell phone? I shook my head. All you have to do, stupid, is call her instead of me. 

“Call me back at the house. Please. Steven and I are really worried.” 

That’s “Mr. Lamont” to you, missy.

I walked away from the telephone, towards the bathroom. If I couldn’t sleep, I could at least enjoy a long, hot shower. Still, I left the door open to hear the rest of the message. I might not have liked Lisa, but Gemma was okay. 
“Monique’s on a shoot in Paris, but she’ll be flying to New York if we don’t find her soon.”

And wouldn’t that mess up your weekend plans: the wife coming home sooner than expected.

I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and examined the night’s damage. Dark circles made me look as if I had lost a round to a street brawler. Not that I hadn’t looked worse before. Law students weren’t known for their rested complexions. I turned away from the mirror and headed for the toilet. My bladder demanded immediate attention.   

“Look, I’m embarrassed to say this, but it seems no one has Gemma’s new cell phone number. We were hoping maybe you do.”

I stopped dead in my tracks. She had to be kidding. Gemma had had that phone for more than a week; her father had given it to her in apology for spoiling her mother-daughter night out the one weekend in months that Monique Lamont had managed to find her way back to New York and her children. It had to be registered in Mr. Lamont’s name then; why wouldn’t he have access to the number? 

Still, I abandoned my shower and walked back to the phone, picking up my day planner along the way. Gemma’s cell number was prominently scrolled in her teenage script on the last page. She had insisted on writing it there herself.   

“Please call and let us know if you do. Thanks.”

The machine clicked off. I stared at it. Gemma was missing, and her own father didn’t know her number. 

The rich never ceased to amaze.

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.

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