Friday, March 30, 2012

When Your Story Comes True...

One of my greatest concerns as being a new writer was putting something on paper that belongs in a thriller, and someone reads it and thinks it sounds like a good idea.

What if we write something that comes true? 

Many years ago I plotted a novel that consisted of planes flying into the White House. Not until September 11, did I realize the impact of this. Now that my novel Flight For Control has been released, numerous situations have been brought to my attention that came directly from the theme of my novel.
While nothing is as bad as what manifests in Flight For Control, yet, ... the reasons for the behavior are the same. Pilots, and employees, are being pushed too far and nobody is monitoring their mental health.

While at the Hawaii Writer's Conference I had asked William Bernhardt this question and he said, "There is nothing that anyone has not thought of doing, that you could write about." Those were comforting words. But the serendipity feeling of my book coming to life is frightening. And yet... it's not. Because I know what is happening, and unfortunately this future is easy to see.

Please take the time to read Flight For Control and let me know what you think. Also, for everyone who purchases a copy of Flight For Control in the next two weeks, will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a book signing for you and your friends. I'll come to your town, anywhere in the world, with five books.

Also....remember to listen live on March 31st~
I will be the guest speaker.

Buy Now by clicking HERE
Join me: Saturday 31st,
06:00-07:00A.M. EST
with Marc Medley
WP88.7 FM
Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Monday, March 26, 2012

When to Hire an Editor

When do you hire a line editor? A copy editor? A developmental editor? Any of these? And what are these?
  • Line editing means making changes in the language at the sentence level.
  • Copy editing is about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Also flow and whether the flow makes sense.
  • Developmental editing is the term often used these days for an edit that covers structure, style, overall assessment of consistency and flow and whether the story works or not and how to fix it if it doesn't.
At both ends of the spectrum there are additional options. Proofreading on one end, for example, or manuscript development at the other.

If you are talented enough and lucky enough to be picked up by a good agent, and you then get a book deal with a good publisher, you don't need to hire an editor—the publisher will provide one. But if you are among the as-yet-unpublished writers who have either chosen to self-publish or have not yet gotten that agent and publisher, then it's a good idea to consider hiring an editor.

But when?

The biggest mistake we writers seem to make is to hire an editor too soon. You don't want the editor until your book is polished to the point that you know you cannot improve it any more on your own or through beta readers or workshops. That is a higher standard than it may sound at first. It means you've spent a tremendous amount of time and energy learning the craft, and you've done everything you can to make your book as good as you can make it (including working with those betas and workshops). This usually takes a year or two of work, and probably more. If you've done all this, but you still haven't had success getting an agent, or you want to self-publish, it's time for an editor.

So, are you at that point? If the answer is yes, and you're interested in finding an editor, then look for a really good one. There are lots of freelance editors out there. Luckily for us, many of them have years of industry experience with good publishers. These are the people you want to find, particularly if your interest is at the developmental level where you want experienced professional input on whether the book works overall and if not, why not, and what is needed to fix it.

Go to editor websites and check out their histories and client lists (if they don't have one, that's a red flag). Ask professional writing associations (like the Pacific Northwest Writers Association) if they know of anyone they would recommend.

The personal recommendation can be great whether it's from a professional association or a personal acquaintance, if you know and trust the recommender. Sometimes it's enough on its own. I think it is sufficient (without the editor having years of experience with good publishers) if the editing you seek is copyediting, for example. There are writers who also edit, who are often known to other writers whom you might know—perfect for asking about a recommendation. Those who've got degrees in English or a related field tend to be excellent in the spelling and grammar categories.

So how much does it cost? It can be from a couple of hundred dollars to several thousand. If your manuscript is pretty clean and you are interested in a copy edit, you might spend $200-$400 or a bit more. (The length of your ms. makes a difference, of course.) If you want a developmental edit, it can easily cost $1,000 or $2,000 (if the story is in good but not excellent shape) to $4,000 or more (for more extensive editing recommendations). You obviously want someone with excellent credentials with whom you feel you will work well.

These are not small numbers, but we are making an investment in our writing careers. Times have changed. Agents are overwhelmed with so many of us wanting to be published. Many of them recommend that the writer hire an editor for a project they might want to consider. The tumultuous status of the publishing industry has had other painful results, too, including the loss of many editors in house and therefore an unwillingness to take on a project that needs much editing. And if you're self-publishing, you cannot afford not to spend on good editing if you want to achieve your best work.

I've read quite a few blogs on editing lately, and this post reflects some of the opinions from them as well as my own. Everyone has different experiences, though. What have yours been? Maybe you believe it's a waste of $ to hire an editor? Do you have some ideas to share?

~ Linda

Friday, March 23, 2012

Women With Wings

What is Women with Wings?

Lauren Crom and Katie McConville, two students from Aviation High School (AHS), will be presenting their Girls Solo Flight Project. These two spectacular women have designed a program called Women With Wings, based on a previous Senior’s project, to encourage and inspire the next generation of women to obtain their private pilot's license. With the number of women in the aviation industry being strongly overpowered by men—only 6% of licensed pilots are women—they hope to open the skies to women in this exciting field of piloting. The women in WWW will show the world that with hard work and a positive attitude, anything is possible.

In Support of Women With Wings…
Make me Write a $2000 Check!

I am bringing 400 soft-back copies of Flight For Control to the Fly It Forward Event and will donate $5 for every book sold at this event, to the Women With Wings.

I would love to write a check to Women with Wings for $2000 to go toward their program giving a girl the wings to fly.

We hope to see you at BEFA on Saturday March 24, from 10 to 3.
840 West Perimeter Road / Renton, Washington 98057-5346 

Please spread the word! 

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Character Development Worksheet

This is something I've posted on another site and a friend asked me for a copy of it and suggested I post it here to help all of you out. Filling out a fun questionairre on your characters can be a great way to get to know them better. It's one of my essential tools when I'm brainstorming a story.

Character Development Questions

1) What is your full name? What name do you go by and why?
2) What do you look like? What are your best and worst features?
3) What is your birth date? Do you celebrate or avoid it and why?
4) How do you prefer to dress? Do you wear any jewelry?
5) What are your parents and siblings names? How old are your siblings? Do you get along?
6) What type of people do you fit in best with?
7) Who are your friends? Enemies?
8) Who is your role model or idol?
9) Do you have any hobbies? Sports? Interests? Talents?
10) What do/did you want to be when you grow up?
11) What kind of music do you like? Movies? Books?
12) Do you have any bad habits? What habits in others can't you stand?
13) What do you do to relax? What do you do to have fun?
14) What is your favorite food? Drink?
15) Does anything in particular embarrass you?
16) Are you agreeable or do you argue your point?
17) Do you have a temper?
18) Who is the most important person in the world to you?
19) Is there anything you're afraid of?
20) Do you have any secrets?
21) What is your most prized possession?
22) Which of the five senses is strongest~or do you notice most? Sight, taste, touch, smell, or hearing?
23) What is your most powerful memory? Or do you not have one?
24) What quality do you most respect in others?
25) What is your best quality? Honesty, integrity, loyalty, honor?

Just add lines to write your answers on and you've got a great way to get to know your character. What are some of the tricks you use to develop your characters?


Monday, March 19, 2012

What If . . . Readers Could Discover Your Book by Pie Chart?

I know, that sounds crazy!! But I just read an article in Publishers Weekly on a speech given by Nancy Pearl—legendary Seattle librarian and regular National Public Radio contributor—that suggests just that. (We are not talking blueberry, coconut cream, or anything Marie Callender here.)

Ms. Pearl's idea is based on her lifelong focus of not only finding the next great book that she'd like to read, but helping others do the same thing. She has a lot of experience helping readers find books, and an organized mind that understands the value of classification (like the Dewey Decimal System). She believes what is 'great' for one reader may be quite different for another, and that the only opinion that matters on the subject is our own when it comes to our reading preferences.

Her main point: it is not genre that drives what readers love and want in their next book, it is a focus on one or more of four factors:

  • story
  • character
  • setting
  • language

What if readers were asked to identify what percentage each of these factors played in books they've read? Then if fifty readers were asked about Gone With the Wind, for example, their responses could be averaged into a pie chart format: maybe 25% story (page turner), 40% character, 25% setting, and 10% language (usage, style). That's how I would rate these factors for this book, but actually, I think I chose a really tough example here because ALL of the four factors are so strong in Margaret Mitchell's classic. Okay, so how about The Hunger Games? I'm guessing 50% story, 20% character, 20% setting, and 10% language. But I haven't read The Hunger Games, and I'm not likely to based on what I know of the book. But if there were a pie chart rating system like Nancy Pearl suggests, that indicated it is strong in the factors that are most important to me in choosing what to read (character first, then story—setting and language are important to me, but more like frosting on the cake—or whipped cream on the pie), then I might change my mind. I'd definitely read the cover blurb to find out more. I would not skip over this book because it's not in my usual reading genres of more literary mystery/suspense or straight literary.

What if booksellers all adopted a system like this to help us choose, instead of suggesting what other books we might like based on our last purchases by genre? I'd love it! Genre of interest does provide some value, but is imprecise as a guide because so many books could fit into more than one genre, and so many genre writers have different strengths among the factors identified by Pearl. The Rule of Four system would provide me much more opportunity to read widely the types of books that I will not only enjoy as a reader, but that I can use to help me develop the strengths I value most as a writer.

What if we could promote our own books by saying, "if you love great character development in a page turner, the Rule of Four readers rating system shows you'll want to check this one out." How cool would that be?

What do you think? Here's the PW article on Nancy Pearl's idea. She explains it with clarity. Highly recommended!

~ Linda
p.s. I'd love a little add-on to the Rule of Four that would tag whether humor is used in the writing. That is always a big draw for me, no matter how subtle the humor is, if it's done well. Do you have a sub-factor that you'd add on for your perfect system of choosing what to read?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Traditional Publishing... A New Paradigm

Monday,  Linda wrote a compelling article on what is happening in the publishing industry. If you haven't read it yet, I recommend you take a moment to read U.S. Justice Department May Sue Apple, Amazon Continues to Press Its Advantage, and then come back for more discussion on how to fix this industry.
New to the publishing business, this is what I heard about our current market:
  • Your work has to be perfect before an agent will take it. 
  • Editors aren't editing anymore. They want a finished product. 
  • Publishers take 90% and own your rights, and they don't pay for marketing.
Then I looked into the past:
  • Agents would accept unfinished work.
  • Editors and agents worked with authors to help craft their books. 
  • Publishers were taking pretty much publishing any author, and helping market their books.
We are in the battle of cutting out the middle-man, and threatening the brick and mortar stores, with traditional publishers. As Linda points out in her article, Amazon states: "The only two essential parties in the reading experience are the reader and the author." And then she asks, "What about editors, marketers and distributors?"

What a profound question. What about them? I have to ask these questions: 

"If your work has to be perfect before anyone will touch it, then why do you need an agent and editor? And if you can bring it to market with Amazon, why do you need a publisher?" 
From what I've witnessed in this exciting industry is that agents have a preponderance of queries. Thousands weekly. They don't have time to help, assist, and mold talent. Perhaps that was never their job. Perhaps in the old days there weren't as many authors so they had to find the talent and develop it. 
Editors are now freelancing. Those of us who hoped to be published one day are paying large sums of money to make our work perfect.

And if we have made our work perfect to be accepted into the "club" then why would we want to pay 90% to a publisher, and sell our rights? If the advancements only go to those who are famous, then what do they have to offer mere mortals like ourselves? 

What I see happening in this industry is by cutting the middle-men out, quality may eventually degrade. Then the cycle will start up again. Agents and editors will step in to help authors, and become part of their success, and will be paid for performance. 

How many times have I gone to my local Barnes and Noble and looked for a book, and they didn't have it? Three times last year. They said, "we can order it for you." I finally gave up taking that drive. It's not worth my time, when I can stay home and order it on line. And yet does it make good business sense to print books and have them sitting in a backroom in inventory? POD makes sound financial sense. I can't blame B&N into not having the books I want on their shelf. 

But the crime of all crimes within the publishing industry is the traditional publishers crying about self-publishing and how POD is putting them out of business... and yet they are the first to take a self-published author who has created a success for themselves.  That's like the war against drugs. I hate it, I don't support it, but when I can make a profit off it... sign me up. Either you are against... or you are for it. You can't fight it and then support it because you're going profit. Can you?

I brought Flight For Control to market myself. The comments I've had when people hold my book in their hands include, "You published this yourself? Wow!" "How many did you have to buy to publish this?" My favorite is, "This looks like a real book."  I have to thank Nathan Everett for that.

Where the industry has really shifted is with the Ebook. 

I just checked my sales and the results this month are:  Kindle: 107 Nook: 5  Hardback and Paperback: 45. Amazing, but people are shifting to electronics. I didn't take into account those copies I've been mailing and shipping from home because you just can't autograph a kindle. But for sales on-line,  electronics are wining. How can the traditional publishing industry manage this shift? 

Seriously I'm torn. I love holding, touching, smelling and reading a real book. Their presence on my bookshelf gives me inspiration and reminds me daily of the content. But I also know economically we can't sustain print books long-term. What is the answer?

The industry has shifted. The future...
  • Chain bookstores shrinking.  
  • Independent bookstores prospering and catering to their communities. 
  • Agents accepting potential talent and working with them. 
  • Traditional publishers partnering with authors and reducing commissions, and allowing authors to own their rights. 
What are you thoughts? Where do you see this industry in ten years? Can traditional publishers find their way with a paradigm shift? Have you converted to Kindle and Nook?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Freestyling Vs. Outlining

A while back, I had the pleasure of hearing bestelling author Andre Dubus~The House of Sand and Fog~speak about freestyle writing. Many of you know I'm a huge believer in outlining but Andre had some excellent points. Andre is the opposite from me. He believes you must not limit yourself, the story must flow freely from you or else you may end up ruining it. In his eyes the process seemed like a wonderful, almost mystical sort of journey that the writer takes, not knowing where the road may lead, if or when it will ever end. I imagine this was how War and Peace was written. *clears throat* He quoted a few outstanding authors who write this way, most of them in the literary genre.

Andre said to write what you don't know you know. That was an interesting twist that I'd never heard before! It intrigued me. He went on to describe how a writer who uses this style was sitting in a room staring at a blank wall, trying to describe the wall. Eventually the writer moved on to the ceiling, then to the outside of the house, then to a couple walking down the street. What he ended up writing was Rag Time.

Freestyling does come with a few drawbacks that Andre pointed out. It took him four years to write The House of Sand and Fog. My jaw metaphorically hit the floor when he said that. One's first book often takes a lot longer~several years even~to write, but that was not Andre's first book. A book can also take a bit longer to write if you have a lot of research to do but freestylers aren't often big researchers.

I can write a book that I'm absolutely in love with and feel very strongly is a good, solid book in six months, sometimes less, but a year tops. With my first book I did not outline and it took me a lot longer because I kept screwing up by not knowing where the story or character is going.

Andre also said he's been late on his deadlines, several times. Late by years, not months. That made me cringe. Sure if your book has been selected by Oprah and you've hit the bestseller list many times, you're publisher might not mind too much. But I can guarantee they don't like it. And from an up an coming or debut author, they simply wouldn't accept such practice.

I truly beleive outlining is part of the creative process, rather than against the creative process. So has Andre convinced me? No, but like I said, he had some interesting points. Perhaps freestyling is a literary thing ;-)

Tell me, which side do you stand on, freestyling or outlining?


Monday, March 12, 2012

U.S. Justice Department May Sue Apple, Amazon Continues to Press Its Advantage

A month ago I noted that Amazon was under scrutiny for alleged predatory pricing practices, and this month it looks like they're not the only ones being investigated regarding e-book pricing. According to an article in last Friday's New York Times, the Justice Department is not only investigating Apple for alleged pricing collusion with e-book publishers, but antitrust officials are pressuring Penguin, Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan to reach a settlement as they threatened to sue them for working together to raise the price of e-books.

As if that's not enough to chew on, here are a couple of other developments with regard to the ever-expanding domination of Amazon:

A veteran publisher and author, James Atlas, goes to Amazon as an editor (and will no longer be accepting new publishing projects). Read about it here.

And, Amazon is flexing its muscles some more. You might remember the news at the end of last month that Amazon pulled over 4,000 titles from Chicago-based Independent Book Publisher Group when I.P.G. refused to lower its prices enough to suit Amazon. As one person interviewed for the article points out: “This should be a matter of concern and a cautionary tale for the smaller presses whose licenses will come up for renewal,” said Andy Ross, an agent and a former bookseller. “They are being offered a Hobson’s choice of accepting Amazon’s terms, which are unsustainable, or losing the ability to sell Kindle editions of their books, the format that constitutes about 60 percent of all e-books.” 
At the heart of this dispute is the issue of the relationship between the writer and the reader. Amazon executives are known for making the following statement:  "The only two essential parties in the reading experience are the reader and the author."

Really??? What about editors, marketers and distributors? Anyway, it continues to be a fascinating world of change with regard to e-publishing. Here's some of the inside scoop from that article.

What are your thoughts on the e-book pricing issue? It would be great to start compiling writers' opinions on these topics, wouldn't it? Chime in and let us know what you think.

~ Linda
p.s. no matter what I do I can't get Blogger to normalize the font size on the bottom part of this post. Oh, no—maybe I'm disappearing, like independent publishers who don't play ball with Amazon. . . 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Channeler's Choice!

Releasing (officially) February 27th in hardback and eBook, Channeler's Choice, the sequel to Heather McCorkle's earth-conscious urban fantasy...The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. 

To celebrate she's doing a blog tour from February 27th through March 15th along with a giveaway. Here are the prizes:

Winner #1:
An eBook of Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper
An eBook of Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak
An eBook of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll (if you don’t have a copy yet)
A paperback of Born Of Fire & Dies Irae (novella combination by Heather McCorkle and Christine Fonseca released through Compass Press)
And of course, Channeler’s Choice swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.)

Winner #2
An eBook of Beautiful Demons & Inner Demons by Sarra Cannon
An eBook of Bound by C.K. Bryant
An eBook of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll (if you don’t have a copy yet)
A paperback of Born Of Fire & Dies Irae (novella combination by Heather McCorkle and Christine Fonseca released through Compass Press)
And of course, Channeler’s Choice swag (bookmarks, postcards, etc.)

If you don’t have an eReader then you’ll definitely want to stay tuned on Heather’s blog for a HUGE giveaway taking place at the end of the Channeler’s Choice tour.

To enter stop by her blog for official details.  

Here is a bit about Channeler's Choice:

With her parents’ murderer’s dead, Eren can finally concentrate on fitting in at Spruce Knoll High, not to mention figuring out what it means to be a channeler. If only it were that easy. It turns out she isn’t normal even among channelers - she may be a legendary warrior meant to protect the earth in a last great battle. 

But Mayan prophecies are the least of her worries as she involuntarily starts to gather her own Society, another girl moves in on Aiden, her powers rage out of control, and worst of all, someone is stalking her. To top it all off, Eren discovers she doesn’t have to be a channeler after all - she has a choice. 

As an old threat closes in and she risks ending up like her parents, she is forced to decide. Be a normal teenager and leave the legendary warrior stuff to someone else, or embrace a dark destiny?

Channelers Choice 

Congratulations Heather! We love you!

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Making Your Own Querying Luck

Sorry I'm late! I was celebrating the cover reveal (which I designed!) of my friend's book, A SPY LIKE ME by Laura Pauling. I can hardly wait to read it! On to today's post...

If you've had a novel out on submission for a while and haven't got any bites then it's probably time to take a closer look at it and re-evaluate it. Chances are it could just be a matter of timing and there may be nothing wrong with it. But it doesn't hurt to make sure. Here are a few tips that might help.

Polish: There are many reasons agents may not be warming up to your novel. Have you polished it as much as possible? Agents get thousands of submissions every month so your novel must shine in every way it can. They may not be willing to take on an author who's work is full of grammar issues.

Originality: Is the main theme of your novel a trending one? Does it contain an element that is currently clogging bookshelves? Though it makes sense that consumers will buy more of what they like, agents and editors are always looking to the future, not the present. If you've written a novel that is about vampires for example, it has to be very original and outstanding to get anyone's attention. It isn't enough to just write a good novel any more.

Intrigue: A certain level of mystery must be present to keep the reader turning pages. That's not to say you have to write a mystery, not at all. But you do have to keep the reader wanting to know what is going to happen next. If your plot is too predictable they won't care. Throw in those plot twists and surprises to keep them guessing and keep their interest piqued.

Pacing: How is your pacing? Does it rise and fall in a manner that keeps the reader interested and yet doesn't overwhelm them? Pacing is vital!

Querying: What is your querying process like? Do you send out dozens and dozens of queries that are almost identical and scarcely personalized? This is called blanket querying. Don't do it. If you want to have any chance in the query wars you have to educate yourself and approach the process with the caution and respect it deserves.

It's true that luck plays a huge part in landing an agent and getting a book deal. But if you follow these tips then you can make a bit of your own luck and hopefully tip the scales in your favor.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

FLIGHT FOR CONTROL by Karlene Petitt

This is a big day on CSC for Critique Sister Karlene's FLIGHT FOR CONTROL. Not only is Heather announcing the winner of  her giveaway of this terrific debut novel (see below), but this post is dedicated to telling you a bit about the story, and Karlene's story, too.

Karlene, as any of you who've followed this blog or her flight blog, Flight to Success (, already know, is an experienced international commercial airline pilot who travels the world on a regular basis. What you may not know is that she decided to take the plunge to become a novelist only a few years ago. She and Heather and I met at the Hawaii Writers Conference in 2009, where we were in the same pre-conference week-long workshop, taught by best-selling thriller author Bill Bernhardt. Bill was fantastic; everyone in the group learned and grew and got inspired; and Karlene, Heather and I bonded and became writing colleagues and great friends. Karlene was beginning this novel then.

FLIGHT FOR CONTROL has gone through several revisions, as any good book does, and I've been privy to them. It's been wonderful to watch the evolution to the final product. I firmly believe that Karlene's open, embracing spirit, along with some serious writing talent, made it possible. She takes on all challenges as opportunities to achieve, and achieve she has. This book is a great read! It's an aviation thriller that will keep you turning pages as fast as you can read them, and it's loaded with insider insights into the aviation industry. I love that kind of information, and I also love the storyline of a woman who has to reach deep into herself and her important friendships to figure out how to prevent an aviation disaster and survive.

Congratulations, Karlene. Wishing you TONS of success with this debut novel (and I am so looking forward to the Darby novels to come!).

And now, for Heather's announcement of the lucky winner of her giveaway of a copy of FLIGHT FOR CONTROL . . . who is it, Heather??? It is Rachel of Rachels Book Reviews! Congratulations Rachel! I hope you enjoy Flight For Control as much as I did. If you haven't got a hold of one of us yet, please leave us a comment with a way to contact you and which version your prefer Flight For Control in, Nook or Kindle.

~ Linda

Friday, March 2, 2012

Finding Your Voice

"I don't think it is possible to give tips for finding one's voice; it's one of those things for which there aren't really any tricks or shortcuts, or even any advice that necessarily translates from writer to writer. All I can tell you is to write as much as possible."
Poppy Z. Brite
How do you find a unique and fresh voice? How will you know when you have it? This is the one thing agents, editors, and readers alike are looking for in their reading. Is it possible to give a tip? If so... what is yours?

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene