Friday, December 30, 2011

You're Invited...

Today is a special day! 

It's Heather's Happy Birthday. 

And you're Invited to her Happy Birthday Party. 
Click HERE and join the fun celebrating Heather 

Wish her a Happy Birthday!
Invite your friends!

Heather, have a beautiful day! 

May the New Year Bring you 
Health, Happiness and all your Dreams to Life!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Year End Goals

As the end of the year approaches I can't help but look back over 2011 and wonder if I've accomplished all that I set out to do. It was a crazy year filled with crazy goals, but I did accomplish some of them. The Secret Of Spruce Knoll was published and book two is on it's way next year. But as with most writers, my goals changed drastically throughout the year. But after looking back I realized, that's what we have to do to survive in this tumultuous industry. It's changing all around us, by the moment.

Agents now represent self-published authors (and take a cut), the big six publishers are scouting for the next great thing in self-published books, advances have plummeted, vanity presses have come out of the wood work to take advantage of self-publishing authors, and small presses are redefining how the entire industry does business by offering higher royalties than ever.

So what is one to do in this ever-changing and unpredictable industry? Keep your eyes and options open, work hard on improving your skills, seek advice before making any decisions, and hang on for the ride. Did you achieve your goals in 2011? Or did they change drastically as mine did?


Monday, December 26, 2011

On Our Way to 2012

The day after Christmas, a time for relaxing and recouping and regrouping. Well, maybe a few days' leisure before the regrouping part. But it is the time of year when we think of new beginnings. I hope you're all enjoying some family time and time off from work to just BE.

Wishing you all great quiet moments as you gather your 2012 mojo. Enjoy!

~ Linda

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays

From our families to yours.... 

May this Holiday Season be Bright, with Health and Happiness throughout the New Year.

Be Present

Love the Critique Sisters, 
Karlene, Linda and Heather

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fixing Character Errors

Unless you have only one reoccurring character in your novel there is a very good chance that somewhere you made a mistake where they are concerned. I have a few tricks I use to help me keep track of every character detail so I don't accidentally change an eye color, age, or something else. The first thing I do is start a notebook at the outlining stages of my novel. I jot down every main and supporting characters description, birth dates, any habits, catch phrases, or quirks of their personality. This helps reduce the amount of errors I have to look for when it comes time to edit.

Once the novel is finished I get a different colored highlighter for each of my reoccurring characters. I go through and highlight every time they appear in the novel, whether it is dialogue, action, or just an appearance. Then I cross reference with my description in my notebook and make sure I haven't made any mistakes. I almost always do.

After that I take note of how often a character showed up in the novel and what type of scene it was, tension, action, or development. Sometimes I find that I have to add scenes because I didn't develop an important character enough. Sometimes this reveals that a character is unnecessary and it results in having to cut them from the novel. The end result is not only stronger characters, but a stronger novel as well.
Whatever method you use, just be sure that you are checking your character details to make sure they stayed consistent throughout the novel. I once ended up with a character with two different colored eyes. It was not on purpose. Worse, I almost sent a partial of it out! Don't let this happen to you!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter Solstice and Tarot's Nine of Wands

In two days we will experience the longest night of the year, the winter solstice—the moment that comes each year on December 21 and marks the turnaround from darkness to light. From midnight Wednesday on, until summer solstice in June, each day will give us a few more minutes of light than the previous day. From ancient times this has beeen a moment of celebration, promising not only more hours of light in our days, but the return of vitality, as well, in the coming months.

I thought of continuing Tarot's Fool's journey in today's post, but you know, we're at winter solstice time and we're all taking a break for the holidays. (Perhaps it's no accident that our holiday season corresponds so closely with the ancient awareness of nature's shift at this time). Many people are talking about the stresses of this time of year—the accounting we tend to take of ourselves about how well we've done in the past year, and the difficulties of dealing with expectations of joy associated with holiday celebrations. Not to mention the all-out actual joyful chaos that ensues in many households and is a total, not-to-be-missed distraction from everyday work. So, instead of following the Fool to his next big moment of enlightenment on his journey today, I thought I'd dial it back a bit and just share a less powerful Tarot card that has lots of meaning for us now.

This card, the Nine of Wands, comes to mind when I think of what the winter solstice and the holidays bring up: the darkness before the dawn, the reckoning of wounds received and battles lost or won, and the almost secret anticipation of good things to come.

Can you see it all on his face?

Here he is, a wounded warrior holding tight to one wand and standing guard over eight others. In Tarot, the wands represent passion, and I get the feeling that this guy has been through a grist mill and has had to fight for what he wants and believes in for himself (hence the bandaged head and arm). But he's not going to let go of his passion, no siree.

He's worked and worked, climbing from one level to the next as he pursues his dreams and now, at this moment, he's questioning whether he'll ever get to the top.

Here's the secret that makes this moment sweet, though: what he seeks most, whether it's leadership or a successful career or anything else he's worked for, it's right there! He just can't see it! But he will if he does one simple thing. All he has to do in that moment of deep darkness before the dawn is shine a light (his own light) up. He might be tired and wary, but the second the light illuminates the wands and shows him the high road, he'll realize he has reserves of energy and strength. Completion of all he's worked for is right there, he just needs to go for it.

So to all you writer warriors who've toiled and laughed and cried and toiled some more, sleep the sleep of the warrior-in-waitng, deep and restorative. Sing, dance, play to your heart's content at this special time of year, and know that soon you will look up, and everything you've worked for will be there, waiting. You've earned the next step up. You can complete your vision in the new light.

~ Linda

Friday, December 16, 2011

10 Days Before Christmas and...

Twas 10 days before Christmas 
and under the house
Terminex checked the traps for a mouse

Contractor, plumber, electrician too,
All will be coming between 11 and 2. 
Daughter is home and baby is heaven
But house guest from Japan will be landing at 11.

The book is not formatted, 
The gifts are not wrapped. 
The blog is not written 
And I need a nap!

Today I'm not writing a witty post
Just wishing you and your family the most
Joyous Holiday filled with love.

Happy Holidays!

XOX Karlene

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blogger Fail And Upcoming News

I've failed you all my lovelies and I'm so, so sorry. The hectic pace of the holiday season combined with a bit of HUGE news that I will be releasing soon has scattered my brain so much that I forgot to post yesterday. That and I just got back from visiting with the Critique Sisters in Seattle so my internal clock is all screwed up. We had a great time talking about books, publishing, and drinking almost more coffee than I could handle in one weekend. Almost.

And yep, those are my books on the table before us (the out of print paperback version through Abbott Press). Now they're available with a shiny new cover through Compass Press. Speaking of great news, be sure to stop by our author friend Christine Fonseca's place tomorrow (Friday December 16th) for a bit of other great writerly news. :)


Monday, December 12, 2011

Crisis? Stay Open and Go With the Flow—Week 18 With Tarot's Fool

Did you notice the full moon on Saturday night? It was a beauty! And it wasn't just any old full moon. It was a lunar eclipse. They come around every once in a while and are said to pack a punch. Never underestimate the power of a lunar eclipse to shake things up in your life.

So the timing couldn't be better to talk about what's going on with Tarot's Fool right now, because, as if by coincidence, he has just reached the 18th major point of enlightenment on his journey, which just happens to be The Moon.

To back up for just a moment, last time we were with the Fool he was mightily pulling himself together after coming face-to-face with his self deceptions about his life and his life's path. He'd been shattered when he did the bravest of all things and not only recognized the tower of lies, large and small, that he'd built his professional identity on, but instinctively shouted it down to rubble. (Week 16: The Tower) Those deceptions were getting in the way of him grasping the true power of his authenticity, so this was a great thing. But oh, my, it's no easy task to rebuild oneself from rubble!

Fortunately, as he dragged himself forward he came upon a beautiful, mystical girl with water urns, who made him understand that surviving and thriving through drastic change is possible, and his task now is to follow his star. (Week 17: The Star)

So here he is, traveling through the night, holding on to the knowledge that he has a star to follow. He's blindly doing just that when the full moon rises and illuminates a watery path in front of him. Not only that, there are two pillars that he's passing through, and when he sees them a deep chord is struck within him. He's seen them before, long ago, when he came upon the High Priestess early in his journey. She sat in front of the pillars and told him secrets about the deepest mysteries of life. He'd seen hints of a dark land through the sheer veil behind her then. (Week 3: The High Priestess) Now he's passed through the veil and he's there, in the dark land.

Suddenly he feels disoriented and a little nauseated from fear. He's entered the land of dark mysteries where secret knowledge lies. Who lives here? Not just seers like the High Priestess. Poets, artists, musicians, madmen and madwomen live here. (Notice the dogs howling at the moon in the picture, and the crayfish emerging from the water like a creature from a childhood nightmare.) Is he going to howl at the moon like a mad dog, or is he going to somehow, some way, find his footing? He's deep in it now, no turning back. In fact he's hip-deep in a salty, moonlit river, and the water's powerful current is pulling insistently at him.

He looks around for something to grasp onto, and there's nothing. But there is a small boat on the nearby shore. It has no oar and no rudder, and the Fool has to decide whether he'll take a chance on that boat or lose himself in this wild, primal land of illusion and madness. Either way, the moon will be in control, but in the boat, his surrender to the powers of the unconscious and the natural world will at least take him somewhere. He gets in the boat and trusts himself to the river. As he's swept away, he feels the Mistress of this dark land gazing down at him with the High Priestess's approving eyes, for this is the path to inspiration, genius, and Moon magic.

It's no accident that Tarot singles out writers as being among the inhabitants of the dark land of life's mysteries. No further explanation is needed for you all to relate to this one, is there? But that doesn't mean it isn't scary as all get out, or that it's easy to get there, either. Not all of us do get there. Fact is, though, that if we want to find and harness the true power of our authentic selves, we have to shout down our tower of self deception, follow our star, and surrender to the river (remember to choose the boat so you don't drown! :-) ). Any number of great writers have pointed this out. Here are quotes from two of them, one past and one present, who've taken the journey and want us to know the paradoxical but oh, so desirable rewards:

                  "Life breaks everyone, but some are strong in the broken places."
                                                                                        Ernest Hemingway

                  "The deeper my crisis, the clearer my choices."
                                                                                       Andrew Boyd 
                                                                                      (sardonic philosopher)

You might recognize these sentiments from the character arc you developed for your novel's protagonist. Your protagonist has to get broken to be strong in the broken places, and his or her choices become clear when crisis is deepest, don't they? Back to this page, it looks like the same is true for the Fool (and us, if we're brave enough). He's in the boat now. No going back. The rewards are going to be awesome!

~ Linda

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice12—The Hanged Man13—Death14—Temperance; 15—The Devil; 16—The Tower; 17—The Star 

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield

Friday, December 9, 2011

Holiday Giving

Today is a special day. Heather is coming to town for the WNBA (Women National Book Association) Seattle chapters Christmas party.  I've got 14 neighbors coming for dinner tonight... A tradition I began, the year I moved into this neighborhood. So much to do... so little time. But even during the busiest time of year, it's important to remember... Christmas is all about giving, and helping others.

This month I'm giving books, flight training videos and some really cool key chains. The special thing about the key chains was with each purchase the money was used to buy a book to an underprivileged child, and a $10 gift card.

All drawings will be held on December 22nd, and I would love for you to be part of the holiday cheer. Please click HERE to read about these special giveaways. You can click on the prize you would like to win, and that link will take you to the page to learn more. Then you can leave a comment and get entered in the drawing.

This is my gift to you, our readers. As writers, we all know the value of our friends and their love of books.

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Tis The Season To Support Books

If you're looking for the perfect gift for someone then look no farther than your local bookstore or online bookseller. There is a book for everyone, I guarantee it! And, as most of us are writers and/or readers, there is no better way to support the industry we want to work in than by actually buying books. I make it a goal to buy everyone on my holiday list at least one book. Here are a few suggestions:

Mystery, paranormal, great books for women, anything by Denise Grover Swank and Kristie Cook are wonderful. Need something even more adult? Jessica E. Subject is fantastic.

For great middle grade (and dragons, who doesn't love dragons?!) check out Eisley Jacobs

If you're looking for young adult novels that appeal to both YA and adults, try these authors: Susan Kay Quinn, Elle Strauss, Cyndi Tefft, Melissa Luznicky GarrettG.P Ching, C.K. Bryant, Angela Carly, Ali Cross, Jessie Harrell, Karen Amanda Hooper, Megg Jensen, S.R. Johannes, Karly Kirkpatrick, Danyelle Leafty, Addison Moore, Lisa Nowak, Magan Vernon, RaShelle Workman, and myself, Heather McCorkle (you can get signed copies right off my blog too). To see their covers click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page.

When it comes to guys, that's a little tougher. But with a bit of research into what interests them, you can always come up with a book that's related. By the way, Lisa Nowak's book is perfect for guys (it's about car racing!). So be sure to support the book industry this season and buy plenty of books for the people on your llist. They'll love you for it!


Monday, December 5, 2011

Special Edition of Heather McCorkle's Secret of Spruce Knoll

I'm excited to be participating in my wonderful critique sister, Heather's, blog tour to announce her special edition of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. It's being released from Compass Press this month! The special part, a percentage of the proceeds from every special edition sold (in every format) between its release date and 12-12-2012, will go toward Heather’s favorite charity that protects endangered species. Her goal is to make at least $10,000 for the charity.

Of course there are prizes during the tour which goes from December 1st though the 17th. Prizes include a symbolic endangered species adoption of the winner's choice (a $50 donation by Heather to the charity for the endangered species of the winner's choice, and a cute stuffed animal for the winner!), signed copies of her novels and great swag. For full details, and to enter, go here:

For the tour Heather has asked each blog host to pick their favorite endangered species and she will tell us a fun or interesting fact about that animal.  My choice: the adorable, incredible ring-tailed lemur. I've loved these little guys since my son was a toddler, and he had a stuffed toy of one. With that big-eyed look that conveys "What! Oh, no, you don't!", they look just like I feel sometimes!

Heather: Ring-tailed lemurs not only look totally cool, they're quite advanced as a society. They are social animals that live in groups of twenty five or so, have several distinct sounds that could be considered a type of language, and the females are dominant. See, advanced. ;)

Hey, I knew I loved lemurs for excellent reasons, and now it's clear what those are. Thanks so much for sharing your exciting news with us, Heather. What a fantastic way to contribute to a great cause. Best of luck getting to that $10,000 donation goal asap! We're all rooting for you.

~ Linda

Friday, December 2, 2011

How to Get Sales

"Readership Leads to Sales"
Renda  Dodge

What can you do to find readers for your book? Price it right. Share a chapter. Gift ebooks.

Make sure that there are zero errors, and your plot and characters are compelling, and the structure is sound. The best way to achieve readers is to make it the best it can be, and everyone will want to share it.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Final I Love Dark YA blogfest

Thank you so much to all the Dark YA blogfesters that find your way over hear from my author blog. Sorry I had to deter you, but as you may have noticed on my blog, I had big news that took the limelight over there today. But the I Love Dark YA blogfest must go on and my wonderful critique sisters' blog makes for a fitting place for the final post I feel.

On to the blogfest! Today we're posting about the dark YA novel that we're most looking forward to. That's a tough one for me because there are so many fantastic dark YA authors out there. I'm forever keeping an eye out for anything by Ellen Hopkins or Laurie Halsey Anderson but the one that really comes to mind is the one author that hasn't released a YA fiction novel yet. I recently had the pleasure of beta reading for a dear friend, Christine Fonseca (you may know her from her outstanding non-fiction work that was traditionally published). And I've got to tell you peeps, she is an absolutely dynamic writer. Her stuff is wonderful dark, just the way I like it. But just like other dark YA authors, she is having trouble getting agents who are willing to take the risk on it. The market is rough right now, agents aren't willing to take a risk, yada, yada, I know, I know. But this lady's work is so remarkable that the fact that her work wasn't snatched up immediately, shakes my faith in the traditional publishing world.

But I know how hard it is for dark YA to break onto the scene and I know Christine won't give up. Which is fabulous for you lovely people because believe me, you will love this lady's novels. Good things are coming her way very soon, I can feel it. ;)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Never Say Die (Except in Scene): Go NaNo Writers!

Are you writing like an insane person finishing up NaNoWriMo? Three days left!! Whoo hoo!!! For those of you who've made it this far, my hat is so far off to you I can't even reach it. Wow, you are seriously awesome. Events conspired to throw me off my NaNo game only a week into the process this year (sigh), and this my first time, too. But I got enough of a taste—and 34 pages, :-) —that I know a little about the pressure, excitement, frustration, exhaustion, and exhilaration that come with it. Hang in there, NaNoWriMo Scribes, only two more days after today!

There is nothing like writing to keep a person thinking, learning, striving, and feeling like life is amazing. So, in spite of this painfully funny cartoon from The New Yorker magazine that reflects the current publishing industry all too well,

never say die. If you love writing (at least when you don't hate it), your destiny has found you.

(Just remember, DO NOT send your unedited NaNoWriMo manuscript to agents. I heard last week that many agents claim they hate the first week of December because so many people do exactly that. Can you believe such a deluge happens? I don't think I can. It must be an urban myth. Sounds like a plot for a page turner, though. Hmmmm . . .)

~ Linda

Friday, November 25, 2011

Marketing You Book

"The Day You Stop Selling Your Book it Dies!"
Nathan Everett

Selling= talking, sharing, giving, promoting and anything you can do to move it into the hands of readers. Success will be yours if you never give up. Never stop selling. 

Happy Black Friday! 

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Inspiration From Others

Any time a friend of mine lands an agent, sells a book, or celebrates a debut, it inspires me because it reminds me that books are still selling and the industry is surviving. Today, my friend Saba over at Of Thoughts And Words, is hosting a New Author Blog Hop to celebrate all the wonderful new authors out there. Though I didn't sign up the Critique Sisters for the blog hop, I didn't want you, our friends and readers to miss out on it.

This year alone I've met so many fantastic new authors that I couldn't possibly list them all, show their covers, and have it fit on one page. I'll attempt to name a few, but the list is by no means inclusive. The Indie Elite: myself, Kristie Cook, Elle Strauss, Cyndi Tefft, Denise Grover Swank, Eisley Jacobs, Karlene Petitt (coming soon), Melissa Luznicky Garrett, Susan Kaye Quinn. The Indelibles: C.K. Bryant, Angela Carlie, G.P. Ching, Ali Cross, Jessie Harrell, Karen Amanda Hooper, P.J. Hoover, Megg Jensen, S.R. Johannes, Karly Kirkpatrick, Danyelle Leafty, Addison Moore, Lisa Nowak, Susan Kaye Quinn, Elle Strauss, Megg Vernon, Rashelle Workman.

How about you? Are there any authors you would like to give a shout out to? Who inspires you?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Trust Your Path

Thanksgiving week. This time of year always feels reflective. The holidays are upon us, the new year not far away. We find ourselves asking timeless questions with a clear and demanding timeframe. What have I accomplished? Where has my path taken me? What are my goals now? Next month? Next year?

This is a wonderful time of year for family, friends, and appreciating the love and joy in our lives. But the season also brings up complex feelings, often around love and loss, joy and pain, ambition and success or failure. Every emotion seems heightened; every life choice, everything that has happened to us, is celebrated or derided or mourned or questioned. At this time of year, we can easily find ourselves at a crossroads on our path.

Thinking about that made me realize how important it is to simply have faith in ourselves and in our paths, because that's where our truths lie. It made me think of the post I did last Monday on Tarot's Fool's journey (Never Underestimate Hope), because the Fool is sure as heck at a major crossroads, and his journey is ours.

Don McLean sings a beautiful song on his American Pie album (1980 CD), called Crossroads, that expresses this place in the journey perfectly. It's a love song in which any deep and true love (like writing) can be our beacon. Give it a listen here, and remember, all roads lead to where you stand.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

~ Linda

Friday, November 18, 2011

I Want to Write a Book!

I received the email below, asking me about how to become a writer…

“Well, I wanted to ask you regarding a situation: As I read you are an author too...I am 18 years old and aspiring Airline Pilot, well first one ever to even take in skies. I have always worked very hard in life and have got the bug of flying since a very young age. I have got myself involved in as much as I can with aviation (teaching at Air Cadets, volunteering in aviation related events-Member of Air League etc etc) so far and it has proven very positive. I am in London, recently I had won and completed a flying scholarship having gone solo-best moment of my life! I had written a diary, which included all the details from time, date, place, all technical details, fun experience, everything I can recall etc. I was wondering if you know any aviation Publisher who might take a little interest to turn it into a book. I have researched on Amazon and EBay and I don’t think there is any book out there that shares 'Zero to Solo' experience. I mean it is entirely my own experience nothing promotional just my experience. I was wondering if anything like that could be done. Thanks for your time reading this e mail, I just wanted to ask it’s completely fine if it cant be done. Hope your flying is great!” Dipeet

Thank you for a great question. Dipeet, yes… it is possible to write your story, but not in the manner you think. To have a publisher want your book… you normally need to go through an agent. Agents get about 3000 queries a week. They sell to the publishers, who may have books in cue for two years before going to print.

In your case, however, you’re writing a non-fiction book, which is different from fiction. Fiction you would spend years writing, then pitch, then query, then submit to agents, and if you find an agent, then they attempt to sell it. From what I see, the time to bring a fiction book to market is anywhere from 2 to 10 years, unless you are extremely good and lucky.

Non-fiction is different. You’ll create an idea, and write a proposal. You will sell your book before you write it. I have yet to do this… but, I’m getting ready, so I purchased a book by one of my favorite authors and teachers—Elizabeth Lyon. I’ve yet to read, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write, but I purchased it because I love all Elizabeth's other books. She’s brilliant. And then the next book I would recommend is Noah Lukemans’ The First Five Pages. This I did read, and it’s outstanding.

Having something to write about is easy with someone like yourself who is out there living life to the fullest. The next task will be learning how to write the story. That will come through reading and learning. Figure out what’s needed to start this process by learning "how to" write the non-fiction proposal, and then we’ll go from there.

Next week on Flight To Success, I’ll be featuring someone who took what you’re doing the greatest heights. I’ll be sharing his story all week… a must read for everyone.

Can anyone help Dipeet by sharing tips and advice for this aspiring writer? He also happens to be my Friday Flyer today. Drop by Flight To Success and read all about this amazing young man.

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Becoming A Published Author

Each step down the path to publication has been like learning to walk all over again. I have misstepped, more than once, I've stumbled, and yes I've fallen. But I got back up and despite my wounds and pain, I kept moving forward. There hasn't been a single step of this journey that has been easy for me (and I know it's the same for many of you) but the rewards that come with each fraction of movement forward have been worth every ounce of agony.

I read a guest article on Chuck Sambuchino's blog~from Writer's Digest~by the fabulous author Anne Fortier that inspired me. Anne talked about seeking out agents and connections on your own instead of relying on others to do it for you. The wisdom of this runs deep, trust me. While it may be about who you know, you really need to meet them and connect with them yourself rather than rely on someone else to recommend you. Anne's article is filled full of great advice on not only how to reach that end goal, but how to do it right. You can read it by clicking here.

After much trial and error, I have reached my destination of publication and I have the right people walking beside me. Those people are not only my Scribe Sisters but you, our followers and readers. There are also my Twitter friends, my friends at Author Heather McCorkle blog and Goodreads. You give my legs strength and keep my resolve up. Thank you to each and every one of you. Together I know we can reach our goals. Becoming a published author is all about surounding yourself with people who support you, and about not giving up.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Never Underestimate Hope: Week 17 with Tarot's Fool

If you've been following the Fool's journey, you know that when he found the Tower last time we were with him, he yelled it down. The Tower was his alter ego, and when it crumbled, that felt like the end of him. It was the end of the him that used to exist, that got in his way of seeing his own truth and making it shine, but also of the foundations he'd spent much of his lifetime perfecting. What's he supposed to do now that he doesn't exist any more, at least not in any form that he recognizes or knows what to do with?

This might be the biggest question any of us ever asks ourselves. If we get to the stage where we have earned the right to be this scared and ask this question, we have accomplished something truly significant. But we sure as heck don't want to stay in this stage!

Luckily for the Fool, as he sits in the dark of night in the bleak landscape where the Tower stood, he notices a beautiful girl nearby. She has two water urns, and she's kneeling by a pool illuminated with reflected starlight. She's emptying the urns—one into the pool and the other into the earth. This is Tarot's Star.

"What are you doing?" he asks her.

"Refilling the pool," she says, her eyes twinkling, "so that those who are thirsty can drink, and also watering the earth so that, come spring, the seeds can grow." Then she says "Come, drink." The Fool joins her and drinks from the pool.

"I can see you are sad," she says, "but remember, you have not lost all. You still have knowledge, possibilities, and hope. They will lead you to a new future."

As the Fool feels the water's enlightenment, the Star begins to fade away, and he hears her say, "follow your star," as she disappears.

So, all is not lost? Distant as it may be, there 's a future ahead of him? It sounds farfetched, but something about the Star makes him sure this is not just wishful thinking. He has a guiding light. As he embraces this knowledge it begins to heal his heart. His thirst is quenched from the water she poured, that is true. If he plants seeds now, will they come up in the spring? Yes, he realizes, they will. He sets out to follow his star.

So what do we do with our newfound selves after we realize that yes, our foundations have crumbled? When we realize that what we thought was so great about our writing didn't quite meet our expectations? It didn't hold up because, as we've painfully realized, it was built on false ideas of who we are in the world and how accomplished we are. Ouch. We feel empty.

First, put the knowledge and experience you have gained back into that empty space, without any expectations. You have created a bedrock of work, a touchstone of hope that will see you through.

Second, you are in the midst of creating a new idea. Whether you're doing NaNoWriMo or waiting for that glimmer that tells you there's new stuff coming through your creative mind, you are in the midst of an effort that will take you somewhere good. No matter how exhausted you are, know that.

You may be working so hard that you feel you've used up all your energy and are not feeling your creative, driving force any more. Well, you've come this far. You have complete control, which also means you bear all the burdens of your choices. It's time to delegate some of those burdens to another person, if appropriate (like an editor), or to another time, so you can revive your energy.

Difficult as it all is, if you have reached this point in your journey, you know that part of you has achieved happiness, because that part feels a permanence of belonging in the writer community. That feeling comes from the knowledge you've gained through your hard work, and the support you've offered others and accepted from others. You've got peeps. And when you go through your dark nights of despair (as we all seem to do), they'll help you claw your way back to the light.

This is what the Star is telling you.

What else do you get when you follow your star? You get a project. You get a job. Whether that's a publisher buying your book, or it's putting in the time to achieve a step on the way to publication, you get the chance to do solid work, to make, create, and touch. Wow.

~ Linda

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice12—The Hanged Man13—Death14—Temperance; 15—The Devil; 16—The Tower 

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mind Games: Finding Errors in your MS

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh

It amazes me how many times I can read my novel and continue to find errors. We all know you can be too close to your work and just can't see them. But I'm beginning to believe that closeness will eventually enable you to "see" the errors. You should know your story so well, that by the time you're doing your final edit, all you're doing is reading the words. Not the story.

I thought a fresh set of eyes would help find the word errors, but when someone reads your book for the first time, and they get wrapped into the story... a good thing... they may just miss those incorrect words because they can't see them either. 

The reality is, our brain sees what it expects. 

How do we fix it? Careful, slow, reading, word, by word, out loud. Last week I wrote a post...Weeding your MS, and the week earlier The Process of Editing, and I believe you don't quit until you can do a complete read without an error. You owe it to yourself to have a perfect product. Your mind will play games. The question is, will you let it win?

Could you read the words above? Are you willing to take the perfection challenge?  

Happy Veterans Day!

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Understanding Advances And Royalties

When you're first starting out as a writer advances and royalties can sound like another language. I've done a lot of research and finally have a bit of experience of my own regarding the subject. The answers are complicated, but I will do my best to simplify them for you.

It begins with an advance, and that is just what is sounds like, an advance on money you will hopefully make back for your publisher. This can be anywhere from a few thousand, to the impressive~yet now rare~six digits that you've heard about. If you have an agent they will get 15%~in most cases~of the advance. I know what you're thinking. Why even use an agent when there are many publishers you can submit to without one? Because an agent can make the difference between a $2,000 advance and a $20,000 advance. That 15% doesn't sound so bad now does it?

Earning out your advance and then earning royalties is the real goal. Most publishers are going to pay you 10% of the cover~or selling~price of a hardback and 8% of the price of a paperback. Ouch, I know but such is the traditional world. Ebooks are a different animal with sometimes a higher payout for the author for obvious reasons. First, enough of your novels have to sell to make the publisher the advance they paid you. Only after that will you start getting royalties.

I came across a brilliant blogger, Shawntelle Madison, who created a calculator to figure out royalties. Check it out here. She uses the 10% payout for hardbacks and 8% payout for paper backs. It appears that she has worked the agent percentage in there as well so it shows your net profits after that. With it you can get a good idea of how many books you have to sell to make a certain amount of money. Prepare yourself though, it takes a lot of sales to make much. If that calculator won't inspire you to work on your marketing, I don't know what will! Remember, this is for traditional publishing only, indie is a whole different matter.


Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNo, You Know?

We are all hunkered down, each in his or her way. Pounding out 1,667 words a day if we're doing NaNoWriMo, or, if we're not doing NaNo, polishing our manuscript for querying, or getting up the nerve to start something new, or any other number of writerly things (including my favorite: lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling until the urge to run away fades). We love it. We love it all. Except when we hate it.

NaNoWriMo is the stuff of people's fantasies (our fantasies) of what it's like to be a writer. And because it's here, it's raising the big questions: Can I be a successful writer? Is it worth all the sacrifices? Am I totally, like, narcissistic and delusional to think I can do this? Am I letting the people I love down by focusing on my own needs? You know the rest.

Whether you've got a crazy schedule and kids to take care of, or simply sometimes ponder the sanity of your choice to be a writer, you need to believe in yourself and your choice. I went looking for answers from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver, and found the following beautiful poem. I hope it speaks to you, as it does to me, with love and reassurance. (And don't worry, your kids and spouse will still love you when you resurface and share yourself with them, even more, because you'll be more you.)

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

                                                One day you finally knew
                                                what you had to do, and began,
                                                though the voices around you
                                                kept shouting
                                                their bad advice—
                                                though the whole house
                                                began to tremble
                                                and you felt the old tug 
                                                at your ankles.
                                                "Mend my life!"
                                                each voice cried.
                                                But you didn't stop.
                                                You knew what you had to do,
                                                though the wind pried
                                                with its stiff fingers
                                                at the very foundations,
                                                though their melancholy
                                                was terrible.
                                                It was already late
                                                enough, and a wild night,
                                                and the road full of fallen
                                                branches and stones.
                                                But little by little,
                                                as you left their voices behind,
                                                the stars began to burn
                                                through the sheets of clouds,
                                                and there was a new voice
                                                which you slowly
                                                recognized as your own,
                                                that kept you company
                                                as you strode deeper and deeper
                                                into the world,
                                                determined to do
                                                the only thing you could do—
                                                determined to save
                                                the only life you could save.

Have a great journey, everyone.

~ Linda

Friday, November 4, 2011

Weeding Your MS

Question: How many times do you read your MS before it's complete? 

Answer: As many as it takes until there are no mistakes.

I've heard the answer to that question many times. But the problem is, I really didn't hear it. Because I had "thought" mine was perfect. My novel has been read numerous times by myself, as well as different people. Once again... I thought I was done. But being the perfectionist that I am, I decided that that I would do "one more" read. Lately, I've read far too many books in print with mistakes. I didn't want mine to be one of them.

What I found were better words, redundant sentences, a couple wrong words... I'm for I, an for and, etc. Incredulous little things that I thought had been previously weeded out. 

The fact remains there are some things that the eye passes over. But not all eyes. There will be someone out there who sees the error. Mine won't be one of them. 

How many times will I read my book? I will read it through the entirety until there is not one mistake found. Can we over edit our book? Perhaps. But mostly I think we can only make it better. 

Don't give up too soon. That "one more read" is the easy part in the realm of all that you've put into your work. If you can slowly read it, and not find one thing... you're done.

How many times have you read your book? 

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Three Elements Every Novel Needs

As many of you are diving into #NaNoWriMo there are a few important elements to your novel that you need to keep in mind.  If you're missing one of them, you don't have a story. Figuring them out early on will help you focus and keep your story on track. But don't worry, if you didn't do an outline for NaNo, just keeping these in mind will help. I'll share bits of one of my latest novels for an example.

Problem: Invaders are doubling their efforts to take over my main character's homeland. At the same time she is struggling to understand a power that is nothing like it should be, and is a disappointment to her parents. This shows both the inner problems she is struggling with and the exterior one she is forced to deal with going on around her.

Stakes: Invaders are not only driving her people from their land and taking over, they are wiping out her kind because they believe they are evil. If she can't figure out her errant power and discover a way to control it and use it, she may have to fear for not only her family's land, but her life. Again this shows the inner and outer stakes.

Solution: She must find a way to harness her power so she can use it to help her people fight back the invaders. In the solution the two combine, but this isn't always the case.

Once you know these three elements, you know the core of your plot. These are also the three elements that are found in a good one sentence log line. I've found that in knowing these elements, and writing my one sentence log line ahead of time, it helps me hone in on my story from page one and not lose focus on it. How do you make sure your story has the necessary elements? 

These elements are taken from my historical YA fantasy that is due out by Compass Press in early 2013.


Monday, October 31, 2011

On the Eve of NaNoWriMo: Words of Wisdom from E.B. White

I was madly searching through my old paper files a few days ago, looking for the novel concepts that I had thought up, typed out, and filed in years past. I needed to pluck one to use for NaNoWriMo. (That's right, I'm going to be playing catchup with all you serious outliners who know exactly how your 50,000 words are going to spill onto the page. I'll have the concept and the main plot points figured out by tonight, though, so I've decided to just have fun and let it rip.) Anyway, in my search I came upon a sheet of writing guidelines from E.B. White that I'd taped to the wall behind my desktop computer long ago (when I had a desktop computer). I'd titled it Style Reminders.

For anyone who is new to The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, or who hasn't glanced at it since you were required to way back in high school or college English courses, guess what? This old little book, as it was called by Professor Strunk of Cornell University, who wrote its original form around the time of World War I, still has something incredible to offer to those of us loosening up, stretching, and homing in for the challenge of NaNoWriMo. How perfect is that? Some things about writing just don't change.

Here are the style reminders, updated by Professor Strunk's student and eventual publishing partner, E.B.White. They are for writers of fiction, and especially for those who are engaged in the process of learning to be great writers.

Style Reminders
from E.B. White

1.  Place yourself in the background. Write in ways that draw the reader's attention to the sense and substance of the writing, rather than to the mood and temper of the author. 

2.  Write in a way that comes naturally.

3.  Work from a suitable design. Before beginning to compose something, gauge the nature and extent of the enterprise and work from a suitable design.

4.  Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs.

5.  Revise and rewrite. (okay, we know this one is for AFTER November)

6.  Do not overwrite.

7.  Do not overstate.

8.  Avoid the use of qualifiers (rather, very, little, pretty, seemingly).

9.  Do not affect a breezy manner.

10. Use orthodox spelling.

11. Do not explain too much. (e.g. in the use of adverbs, 'he said' is better than 'he said consolingly.' Show how he feels by his appearance, actions or words.)

12. Do not construct awkward adverbs. (e.g. tangledly or tiredly)

13. Make sure the reader knows who is speaking.

14. Avoid fancy words.

15. Do not use dialect unless your ear is good.

16. Be clear. Although there is no substitute for merit in writing, clarity comes closest to being one.

17. Do not inject opinion.

18. Use figures of speech sparingly.

19. Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity.

20. Avoid foreign languages.

21. Prefer the standard to the offbeat in language usage. As a beginner, err on the side of conservatism, on the side of established language usage. No idiom is taboo, no accent forbidden; there is simply a better chance of doing well if the writer holds a steady course, enters the stream of English quietly, and does not thrash about. 

Sound familiar? I can't promise that I'm going to follow every one of these guidelines to the letter, but I'm going to prop this list in front of me while I write. When in doubt fall back on these. If the words are flowing with clarity of style, the story will come out more clearly and easily, too. Of course, this is NaNo, so in the extreme situation of freezing up, which I've heard happens in NaNo a lot, blow something up! (I just love that piece of advice that came from quidforquill in a previous post comment) Just be sure to do it with clarity!!

Have fun everyone. See you on the trail.

~ Linda