Thursday, September 27, 2012

A lesson from Jeanne Martinet and a book giveaway

**Giveaway is now closed**

Today we welcome author Jeanne Martinet and her first novel, "Etiquette for the End of the World." Jeanne Martinet is the author of seven other books, including widely acclaimed "The Art of Mingling"--which has sold more than 150,000 copies in the U.S. alone. Her books have been published in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Poland. Jeanne has been featured in such publications as: The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsweek, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Huffington Post. Martinet has shared her humor and mingling know-how on hundreds of TV and radio shows, including "The Today Show," "The CBS Early Show," NPR's "Morning Edition" and WNYC's "The Leonard Lopate Show."

Thanks to Astral Road, we have THREE paperback galleys of "Etiquette for the End of the World" to give away to some lucky readers in the US.

Visit Jeanne at her website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

From Non-fiction to Fiction: How Novel-writing Snuck up on Me
By Jeanne Martinet

"Etiquette for the End of the World" is my first novel, and nobody is more surprised than I am that I ending up writing it.

Over the years, I have written, almost exclusively, humorous non-fiction on the subject of social mores and etiquette (including one extremely successful book, "The Art of Mingling," published by St. Martin’s). But somehow no matter how many copies I sold, people would say to me, “Okay that’s fine, but when are you going to write a novel?” Having edited many novels throughout my publishing career—from brilliant ones to bad ones—my answer was always, “A novel? Not me! Not on your life. It’s too hard, and too risky.”

However, I did publish a book in 2001 ("Truer Than True Romance") that was a departure from my usual non-fiction; it was a spoof on the corny love comics of the 50s and 60s. While it was not, at least from a financial standpoint, a success, it turned out to be the most fun I ever had writing. I remember laughing out loud alone in my apartment while I was working on it and thinking to myself, “Oh, this is why people love writing so much. I get it!”

So about two years ago, after the publication of "Life is Friends," a book in which I said pretty much everything I had left to say about the art of socializing, I decided I really wanted to try my hand again at a straight humor book. I longed to once more feel that “following your bliss” feeling I had felt when I was writing "Truer Than True Romance." That’s when I began what was supposed to be a very dark spoof on a self-help guide, an Emily Post-esque rule book for people living in the aftermath of global destruction. The working title was "Etiquette for the End of the World."  It contained chapters like, “Boundaries in the Bunker” and “Cannibalism: Yes or No?” I envisioned elegant ladies on the cover, all dressed up and sitting around a table with a silver tea service, except they would all be wearing gas masks.

For this project--partly for inspiration, and partly just as a way to procrastinate--I started researching different apocalyptic theories, especially the ones centered around the Mayan calendar date of December 21, 2012. (Procrastination, as most of us know, can be a fertile arena as long as you don’t let guilt derail you). I became completely fascinated with how drawn so many people seemed to be to the idea of an Armageddon or “end-times” of some kind, and I started seeing the idea of “end of the world” as a metaphor for personal crises. That’s when the persona I was using for the “author” of the guide, Tess Eliot, began to evolve, to take up more space in my imagination, and soon—with a little push from my agent—it became apparent I was really headed towards writing a novel. Almost against my will, to tell the truth. (Eventually, the original advice-book spoof I had started was folded into my novel.)

But fiction was not that far a stretch. Whether it was a self-help book or my “Citiquette” newspaper column, what I always enjoyed most was the painting of the scenes and anecdotes I would use to illustrate my advice. These scenes were often exaggerated or pieced together from several actual incidents, or even totally fabricated. (I mean, I may be “Miss Mingle,” but nobody can go to that many parties.) Always, my first mission was to entertain people with funny stories. So I felt I was already writing fiction, in a way.

That’s not to say it did not take me another year and a half to figure out how to fully develop characters, to properly pace, to sustain the plot, etc. I now have even more respect for novelists than I did before. And I am now, once again, a beginner, starting over in a whole new genre. I have my fingers and toes crossed that people will like "Etiquette..." Because writing novels is certainly what I would like to do from now on.

Special thanks to Jeanne for a new perspective on writing and Astral Road for sharing her book with our readers.

How to win "Etiquette for the End of the World":
Tell us an etiquette lesson you'd like to teach to children or teenagers. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

US only. Giveaway ends October 2nd at midnight EST.


EFC Chrissy said...

An etiquette lesson for my kids...I'm trying very hard to be sure my boys always say 'please' and 'thank you'. We were told by our waiter at a rather nice restaurant the other night that our boys were very polite and good. that made us feel good and that we are doing something right. ;)

Linda Kish said...

Respect your elders. I really think they have forgotten that. Too much rudeness these days.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Jessica said...

Don't chew with your mouth open!


-Jessica M

Cher B said...

I would like everyone, child and adult alike, to employ the Golden Rule of treating others as you woulod wish to be treated. Now, back to reality.
Etiquette for the End of the World just moved to the top of my must-read list. Thanks for the chance to win!


Bridget O'Neill said...

A lesson that I'm teaching my toddler (which everyone should learn) is to be polite! Say please, thank you, you're welcome, etc. So far she's doing pretty good, but she needs reminders sometimes :)

Nova said...

I am teaching my sons to be polite to women. Open and hold doors :always open car doors :stand up when a woman enters the room :pull out chairs and help seat them close to table :walk on left side of the female. Want them to treat their lady right.

susieqlaw said...

sendsusanmail AT gmail DOTCOM

Etiquette Lesson: Learn to listen to others. Silence is golden.

bn100 said...

To be friendly to everyone


Lilian said...

To always know that they are luckier than they deserve to be.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox
lilianxcheng AT

Krystal Lynn said...

I'd go with how to respect differences. Differences of opinion, beliefs, lifestyles, etc. We can't all be the same.

miss_kris_11 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Jilleen said...

Just polite/caring all the time.

Seasidebooknook at yahoo

Kristen said...

Feel free to put down the cell phone every once in a while! :)


Cyndee said...

Always wear shirts and shoes when you go out(eating out,Library,retail stores and in hospitals,Doctor Offices)
Cyndee Thomas

Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I always stick to the golden rule...TREA OTHERS AS YOU WOULD WANT TO BE TREATED....

Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Melissa said...

Thanks to Jeanne for a lovely guest post and to Astral for sharing this book with our winners.

Thanks to everyone for participating. We hope today's youth will take your advice! chose THREE winners from all entries with contact info (one per person).

Congrats to Jilleen, Krystal Lynn and Lilian!