Advice for Writers by Mark Spivak – Guest Blog and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Mark Spivak will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Advice for Writers

For the past four years, I’ve been mentoring beginning writers via a local Meetup group, and we’ve had several hundred people pass through during that time. People come and go according to their levels of commitment, but it’s been a very rewarding experience. For the most part, I get a sense of déjà vu when I deal with folks at the beginning of their careers, many of whom face the same obstacles and challenges I did.

The number one thing I tell them is: Don’t give up. Learning the craft can be a long process, and it can be grueling. Very often the people who succeed aren’t the most talented ones, but simply those who refused to quit. It becomes doubly hard if you have to face years or even decades of rejection. But the fact is that you will succeed if you stay with it long enough, and the important thing is to stay in the game: people who don’t buy tickets can’t win the lottery.

Many years ago, there was a book written by Studs Terkel (a legendary newspaperman from Chicago) called Working. It was a compilation of interviews with subjects who worked a variety of occupations, everything from garbageman to film critic. And it was a very depressing book to read, because most of them said the same thing: they said they thought they had wasted their lives, that they had talents they had never used, that they could have succeeded if only they had received a break, etc. In many cases, they said the same thing virtually word for word.

When I read that book, I resolved not to become one of those people. I realized that the road to a happy and successful life was littered with the corpses of people who gave up; they may have been fearful, lazy or unlucky, but the result was the same. I tell my students they don’t want to end up that way. If you speak to elderly people about their lives, the main emotion you’ll hear is regret. That’s an ending you want to avoid.`

Becoming a writer is incredibly difficult—unbelievably so. It’s even harder because it requires a type of schizophrenic personality. You really have to believe that you are the self-contained master of the universe, someone possessed of a God-given gift. At the same time, you’ll receive endless crushing rejections from people who think you have absolutely no talent at all. And you have to persist, secure in the belief that you are God’s gift to literature. A psychiatrist or psychologist could have a lot of fun with someone like this.

When you persist, you will have moments of soul-searching doubt. You won’t be able to reconcile you own formidable talent with the fact that no one else seems to see it at that moment. Hard as it is, there’s only one solution:
Don’t give up.

A power-hungry vice president, a bad batch of shady intelligence, and a sinister plot to destroy Western civilization.

Just another day in America.

On May 1, 2001, a group of radical Islamic terrorists crash a Boeing 737 jet airliner into the Mall of America—and Vice President Robert Hornsby knows his moment is coming.

The attack kills three thousand American citizens and throws an entire nation into a panic, but all Hornsby sees is an opportunity, a chance to imprint his fanatical values on the soul of the country he loves and become the most powerful vice president in American history.

With the aid of his affable but ineffectual president; the reluctant, conscience-stricken secretary of defense; and a preening, foppish faith leader with more than a few skeletons in his closet; Hornsby declares war on terror—and anyone who stands in his way. But as media scrutiny of the administration’s actions overseas intensifies, Hornby’s one-man campaign against evil begins to unravel—with striking parallels to the thirteenth century’s doomed Fourth Crusade—and sends the nation spiraling toward another deadly tragedy.

The American Crusade paints a grim and often cynical picture of America’s recent past, reflecting the attitudes, politics, and fears that shaped our nation in the new millennium. By sampling the contemporaneous French text on the Fourth Crusade, On the Conquest of Constantinople, author Mark Spivak reminds us of that ever-vital adage: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Fans of The Castle by Jack Pinter, The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson, House of Cards by Michael Dobbs, The Whistler by John Grisham, and the Aaron Sorkin–penned TV drama The West Wing will love this book.

Enjoy an Excerpt

To President George Cane, the assembled group represented “the full force and moral authority of the United States of America.”

To the Reverend Sanford J. Bayer, head of the White House Office of Faith and Reconciliation (known internally as the Woofers), they symbolized “the lawful arm of God’s righteous Kingdom … preparing to strike at the heart of our enemy.”

To Salman Al-Akbar, leader of the worldwide terrorist organization Husam al Din and the reason the dignitaries were gathered at this press conference, they were “the cancerous core of modern civilization, bleeding like an ulcer that must be removed.”

They included the heads of both houses of Congress, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Directors of the FBI and CIA, most of the Cabinet, and the Chief Justice of the United States.

And to the Vice President, who had assembled this improbable group, they were the usual suspects.

About the Author: In the realm of non-fiction, award-winning author Mark Spivak focuses on wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. His first book, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, was published by Lyons Press in 2012. He followed this with Moonshine Nation (Lyons Press, 2014), hailed as the definitive book on illegal corn whiskey in America. From 1994-1999 he was the wine writer for the Palm Beach Post, and was honored for excellence in wine criticism “in a graceful and approachable style.” Since 2001 he has been the Wine & Spirits Editor for the Palm Beach Media Group, and contributes to a number of national magazines. He is also the holder of the Certificate and Advanced Diplomas from the Court of Master Sommeliers.

Mark’s first novel, Friend of the Devil, was published by Black Opal Books in May 2016. Set in Palm Beach in 1990, it tells the story of America’s most famous chef, who has sold his soul to the Devil for fame and fortune.

Mark also has an endless fascination with the American political system and is an avid follower of Washington politics. His second novel, The American Crusade (a gripping political thriller set during the invasion of Iraq, which dips into the shadowy world of government conspiracy and political sabotage), was released by TCK Publishing on April 4. He is currently at work on Impeachment, the sequel to The American Crusade.

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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Thank you for hosting me today. I look forward to meeting your readers and answering any questions they might have.

  3. thanks for hosting and the cover is goregous

  4. I’ve enjoyed following the tour for American Crusade, it sounds like a wonderful book and I’m looking forward to checking it out. Thanks for sharing all of the great posts along the way.

  5. Sounds like a great read.

  6. Very interesting information. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing.

  7. i love the cover

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