Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Ondine: The Summer Of Shambles Winners

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the contest and who helped support Ebony McKenna. Your kindness has not gone unnoticed by this fantastic author. She was so touched by your response that she agreed to throw in two more copies of her book to bring out total amount of winners up to three! We'd like to welcome all of our new followers and we hope you'll stick around. We have big plans for next month with some fabulous debut authors that you won't want to miss. The winners of Ondine: Summer Of Shambles are:

Hannah Mariska  (Paperback)
Aik (Ebook)

Hannah and Aik have been notified via email, Sophia if you could leave a comment on Heather's Odyssey with your email address, she'll contact you and get your mailing address. Her blog comments are monitored so they aren't published automatically (ours are though so don't leave it here!). That way she can get your info and just delete the comment without publishing it. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Sometimes You Just Get Lucky: Week 10 with Tarot's Fool

It's time for The Fool to come out of hiding, back to the world he left behind last week when he found a tiny cabin in the deep woods and holed up. There, he became The Hermit and rested and thought by day, then wandered the land by night, shining his lantern into the darkness to search for knowledge, meaning, and self. (Post 8, The Hermit. Previous posts in this series are listed at the bottom of this entry.)

He comes into the sunlight now as if being pulled up from the dark, from a low point on a wheel. He squints and shields his eyes from the bright sun. With his newfound knowledge he knows better than to expect anything, but he still has the Hermit's staff, and with that in hand he walks bravely, if slowly, back into the world. (He's thinking about some of those nice things some agents said to him about his writing, even though they rejected his novel a couple of weeks ago.) He steps back onto his path, then feels a pull to look back to see where he just came from. There, standing in the muddied forest, is a great wheel, turning clockwise and festooned with figures and beasts that rise and fall with its rotations. He realizes with a start and with wonder that the wheel did, in fact, just deposit him back on his path.

This is The Wheel of Fortune. Strangely, as The Fool continues on his path throughout the day, good things begin to happen. When he goes past a water wheel, a young woman standing there hands him a drink of water in a golden chalice, then urges him to keep the chalice because she likes him. (He goes to a workshop and gets excellent constructive feedback on his opening chapters, and two of the people there who he likes best ask him if he'd like to be part of a critique group with them!)

Then he sees a young man standing near a windmill, swinging a sword. He stops to watch him, cheered by the sight, sharing in the joy of the young man's energy and skill. "Here," the young man says, handing him the sword. "You take it. I can see you're ready for it." (Encouraged by his writing friends, he polishes those first chapters, and sends off a small batch of queries.) 

Finally, as he treks along carrying his sword and chalice, he sees a rich merchant in a wagon on the side of the path. The merchant is sitting directly over one of the wagon's wheels. "You look like a fine seeker," the merchant says as The Fool nears him. He reaches down to the wagon bed and pulls out a bag of money, which he holds out to The Fool.

"What is this?" The Fool asks, afraid to reach for the bag and wondering who this odd man can be.

The merchant smiles, a genuine smile of good will, and explains that he likes to give away money. "Today, you're the lucky recipient." (Two of the agents he queried asked for partials, and another one, a great one, asked for the full!)

Sometimes you just get lucky, The Fool realizes. (He personally knows other writers who queried the same agents, and he knows that their work is wonderful. But none of them got a positive response. Only he did!) He didn't spend all that time wandering in the dark as The Hermit without learning to look beneath the surface, though. And he realizes that the way he walked toward the merchant on the path, with a bounce in his step, and the profound pleasure in his heart showing, was exactly what the merchant was waiting for. (His queries were polished and professional, and those agents who asked for more recognized not only quality in writing, but a story they could sell. One they've been looking for.) 

He moves on down the path, then pauses to consider where he is in his journey. He has come far, he realizes, and has far to go. As he hoists the pack on his back to a more comfortable position, he reflects on the fact that today he has received the gifts of chalice, sword, and money, and that he brought The Hermit's staff back into the world with him. These items are exactly the same as the belongings in his pack that were revealed to him at the beginning of his journey by The Magician (Week 2, see link below). Chalice (cup); sword (sword); money (discs, pentacles); staff (wand). He thought he'd used them up and his luck had gone, until today. They are all he needs to be whoever he wants and achieve his most cherished goals.

Luck, fate? He knows it's a different journey than he expected. Yup, sometimes you just get lucky.


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

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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

First Page Contest at Shelley Watters' Blog: My Entry

Hey, all, today's the day everyone participating in Shelley Watters' first page contest needs to post their entry. If you write YA, Middle Grade, memoir, pop-culture non-fiction, or women's commercial fiction you can participate. Post your first 250 words on your blog, hop around to other participants' blogs and offer critiques on their work today and tomorrow (25th and 26th), then post your final version of your first page on Shelley's blog on Monday, the 27th. Winner gets a full manuscript request from literary agent Victoria Marini. Check out Shelley's blog for all the rules and info.

Good luck to everyone.

Here's my entry:


GENRE: Commercial women's fiction/women's suspense

WORD COUNT: 83,000


A shadow breezed past my left elbow in the form of a dark suit. The way it moved was familiar. Blood-chilling. I'd seen it flicker behind me as I explored London the past three days. I was in a Mediterranean restaurant in Shepherd Market, shoes kicked off under the table, sipping a glass of sharp red wine and perusing a city map. The edge of the suit jacket brushed against my arm as the man wearing it strode fluidly toward an alcove seating area ahead, his back to me all the way.

Whatever that inner sensor of danger is that we have, mine started screaming. What seemed like subtle menace yesterday expanded into certainty in an instant. I fumbled for cash in my purse, thrust my feet into their shoes and slid out from behind the table. I tossed a ten pound note onto the white linen cloth, dropped the London map over it, and was out the door, gone before the man had a chance to sit down and miss me.

For a few seconds, standing there on the sidewalk, I couldn't think or get my bearings. Dusk was settling in and everything looked different. I prayed he'd think I'd gone to the Ladies as he gazed across the room at my map keeping a lonely vigil next to a half-empty wine glass. Then it clicked. A couple of blocks away was a main thoroughfare. The kind that the big red doubledeckers ran on. If I could get there and jump on a bus before he spotted me, he'd never find me.

p.s. just scroll down to find CSC's regular Friday blog post by Karlene

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow Your Dreams

Midnight in Paris
                                      The movie

There are some days when I don’t get any writing done, and Wednesday was one of those days when my husband was off work and we took in an afternoon movie: Midnight in Paris

When goofing off with your spouse a movie is the best place to go. Structure. Character. Setting. Dialogue. Story. I always learn something from every movie I see. It’s amazing how the format of the script follows that of writing. And this Woody Allen film was definitely written for authors, or anyone wanting to be an author. It also held a deeper meaning...

Follow your dreams and don’t sell out for easy because it’s profitable. As the author of Midnight in Paris (I feel safe to say) Woody Allen believes that writing a novel is far more difficult than script writing. Woody Allen's heart spoke volumes in this fun and insightful movie. I also believe his dream had always been to write a novel.

Then the humor, that all writers can appreciate, is embedded throughout—Owen Wilson asks Hemmingway if would read his novel. Hemmingway’s reply: “No. I won’t read it because I’ll hate it. I’ll either hate it because the writing is bad, or I’ll hate it because it’s good and I’ll be jealous. Writers can never critique another writer’s work because we’re all in competition.” 

Times have certainly changed from the 1920’s to today. But the art of story has not, or the dream of writers to runaway to Paris and write.

If you met Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, or T.S. Eliot, what would you ask them? Better yet, how would they respond to that question?

Enjoy the Journey.

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Giving Your Manuscript That Edge

Whether you want to polish your manuscript to a high sheen before submission, or want to raise it to another level before self-publishing, a freelance editor can make the difference between failure and success. The market is more competitive than it has ever been and to stand out your work has to be the very best it can be.

When I decided to go with Abbott Press instead of a traditional publisher I knew I wanted to use a freelance editor to give my manuscript that edge. It isn't cheep but if you want to make a career out of writing rather than just throw your work out there to see if it sticks, then it's a good idea. Even if you have an English degree it can't hurt to have that extra set of professional eyes on your work. We are too close to our work to be the sole editor of it.

But with all the options out there where do you turn? It seems like everyone and their cat are offering editing services now days. While my cat has pretty discerning tastes, she should not be editing anyone's work. The best advice I can give you on choosing an editor is to do your research and get recommendations. Different editors will take on different projects, charge different rates, and take differing amounts of time to complete the work. Ask a lot of questions, and don't be afraid to ask for a small sample of their editing.

I won't let you go without a few recommendations. The first is the Second Draft service through Writer's Digest. They offer many different services and levels of editing. The next is one of my blogging friends, agent intern and freelance editor Cassandra (C.A.) Marshall. Who wouldn't want an agent intern editing their work right?! And Cassandra is a sweet person who also does cover design. So if you need a cover be sure to check her out for that too. The last is my good friend, and co-moderator of the #WritersRoad Twitter chat, Tee (TS) Tate. Tee received a Master of Arts in English and is an amazing writer to boot.
 There are a lot more great freelance editors out there. All you have to do is ask around. 

Recommended by friends of mine: Sarah Billington does both fiction and non-fiction, and Christine Hollingsworth who is both a pilot and a freelance editor. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Do You Trust Your Instincts? Week 9 with Tarot's Fool

The Fool has been resting since his startling meeting with Strength, a young and innocent maiden who showed him the importance of using his will power for higher purposes. (Week 8 post. Links to previous posts in this series are at the end of this entry.) Will power, yes. He knew that, but every fiber in his body was calling for using that will power not for higher purposes, but for bold action against enemies and obstacles. (He wanted to attack, to somehow overcome agents' infuriating unwillingness to see the wonderfulness of his novel. He's revised, he's carefully picked agents who say they're interested in his genre—although he's seriously doubting their honesty at this point—and still he's getting rejections. True, the rejections aren't the form ones any more; agents are actually asking for partials and writing to him with specific issues, and even some praise. But that's not good enough!)  Nothing he's done so far has worked to get him a foothold with the gatekeepers to his goal (a good agent to sign him), and he's exhausted.

Trying to get a handle on that whole 'higher purpose' thing is depressing him, too, even though he thought he could do it when he was in Strength's presence. There's no question that he's a good person (and a good writer!). He really is. But there is seemingly no end to obstacles. And now instead of fighting back he's supposed to elevate his emotions to higher purpose?

This is how he feels. Like he's in a sarcophagus with his own image on top, his sword stuck to the side of the coffin, and three more swords hanging over him, pointing at him! 

The picture is misleading, though. The Fool realizes this when he notices that he's starting to feel better. He isn't entombed; he is being given the gift of deep rest that supports an active deep mind.

The Fool relaxes, and lets his deep mind do its work on the vital subject Strength suggested to him: how to use his energy for higher purposes. How to dig deep within himself and make his true mettle manifest, not just for all to see, but for him to embrace as his own.

Talk about a challenge! To achieve higher purpose requires not only giving up youthful, superficial ambitions, but engaging in introspection, searching, and solitude, as well as seeking guidance. (With a painful loosening of his grip, The Fool lets go of his lust for recognition, approval, and material success, and turns his heart to the quest for true greatness through humility and understanding of loss, love, joy, pain, hope. This, in turn, will allow him to write a beautiful novel.)  For this he must transform himself into The Hermit.

In a cabin deep in the woods The Hermit (previously known as The Fool) hides. He reads, cleans, organizes and just plain rests. (There are brilliant books he's never taken the time to read before. And the writing! It's incredible. He slashes his own manuscript's extraneous prose and spends weeks crafting succinct, deft phrasing. He cuts his word count from 110,000 to 85,000. Whew!) But that's all during the day.

At night, every night, he ventures out into the dark, and walks for miles and miles, carrying only a staff and a lantern. He's searching, and he's finding the things he's missed. Things about himself and the world. He's thinking deeply about these things. Whenever he stumbles, his staff rights him. (It's not just about strong plot lines and deft phrasing, it's about knowing who you are; it's about the love and pain from within, and the strength to know and express that.)  Whenever he feels lost, he holds the lantern up in front of him and trusts it to light the way. (He goes still and quiet and waits for illumination, which he knows will come.) The staff is his strength. The lantern is his instinct, the pilot light of his soul. It will not guide him wrong.

Although he will soon step back into the world again as The Fool, he will never again display the trappings of youthful naiveté. The light from the lantern has allowed him to see and deal with the contradictions that surround him. No longer will irresponsibility, dependency, incompetence, or even innocence be acceptable to The Fool as part of his own behavior. At the same time he will not shun love and joy; he will not be cynical. He has become a person who solves the problem in front of him (he's honest with himself about those agent comments, and figures out how to discern the good ones and make his story stronger through their guidance). He has become someone who finishes the task without sweeping anything under the rug, no matter what the task is. This is huge—far greater than he realizes at this moment.

He's about to get a taste of what it means to let go of need, and in return be given abundance. Come back next week to find out what happens when The Fool comes upon The Wheel of Fortune.


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 Chariot; 8—Strength 

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, June 17, 2011

Exciting Writing News!

Congratulations to the 2011 PNWA Literary Contest Finalists!

What an incredible honor this is— and the Critique Sisters would like to congratulate all finalists. If you recognize a name on the list below, please let them know we are honoring their great achievement.

Winners will be announced at the summer conference in Seattle Washington, August 4-7, 2011.

I am honored to be among these finalists with my Aviation Thriller, Flight For Control. I’ve had incredible support along the way, and I'm now knocking on the door to publication. Thank you all for your help, and encouragement.

More exciting news: 

Yesterday I pushed the send button, and Flight For Control is on its way to Loretta Barrett, of  Loretta Barrett Books Inc Literary Agency

Loretta has been waiting patiently for my rewrite. She said, “Take your time, we both want it perfect.” And perfect it is thanks to hiring Christine Hollingsworth to do my final edit. We all know that it’s impossible to see your own mistakes—we’re just too close. Christine, The Novel Mechanic, has the tools that found and fixed all my mistakes and she provided great insight and suggestions ... at an affordable price! 

I’m excited to be on this road to publication, since I spend most of the time in the sky. Seriously, I think it takes a team to publish a novel. 

Thank You Everyone! 
Congratulations Finalists!

Mainstream              Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror          Poetry        

Michael Moore          Charis Himeda                        Marjorie Manwaring
Marina Osipova         Ruth Godwin                          Cynthia Monroe        
Jim Satterfield           Bill McLaughlin                      Crystal Liston        
Jim McMaster           Alan Philipson                         James E. Lalonde
Brian Bek                  Jarlath Hume                           Betty Shafer
Art Edwards              Kate Swenson                          Sharron Singleton
Steve Jaquith             Jennifer Gallion                       Kellie Purce Barseth
Mark Figlozzi            Ethan Johnson                         Gerald Carlin
                                   Sherry Brummel

Historical                     Young Adult                           Short Story

Brian Overland              Cynthia Monroe                     Phyllis Hollenbeck
Mark Figlozzi                Marcy McKay                        Sharon Goldberg
Leanne Farrell                Karen McHegg                      Kara Pomeroy
Jim Satterfield                Donna Matney                       Rebecca Olmstead
Kathleen Wolgemuth     Suzanne Kaufman Kalb         Gail Kretchmer
Mildred J. Hardy            Jodine Turner                         Kellie Purce Braseth
David J. Hardy               Stephanie Tatalias                  Elizabeth De Matteo
Britton Steel                   Dawn Simon                           Rebecca Macintyre
David Jessup                  Christine Myers
Jim Beirne

Romance                          Nonfiction/Memoir       Children’s/Middle Grade

Nina Gettler                      Janiece Hopper                 Heather Harris-Brady
Jocelyn Adams                  David Gardner                 Phyllis Hollenbeck
Marni Donnelly-Folsom    Teri Fink                          Paul Greci
Celeste Deveney                Robin Dake                      Kimberly Dana
Jacki Delecki                     Elaine G. Jordan               Mary Koch
Tara Sheets                        Constance Hanstedt          Lynne Walker
Tamsen Shcultz                 T.J. Bennett                       Kara Pomeroy
Naomi Baltuck                  Robert Grant Byington      Gina Ochsner
Kathleen Cherry

Mystery/Thriller               Screenwriting                       Adult Short Topics

Nicholas J. Delmedico       Matt Gavin & Lynn Piper       Lori Heagler
Devin Morton                     Randy R. LaBarge                  Erika R. Giles
Daniel J. Waters                  Christopher King                    Kathy Krause
Karlene Petitt                      Gail L. Jenner                         Susan Szafir
Christina Patchell                Anthony Seed                         Kathryn L. Schipper
Michael Munro                    John O’Riley                          Mark Nassutti
Guy Bergstrom                    Peter Bacho                             Karen Veit Murphy
C.M. Busse                          John Bengel                            Claire Carey

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Great Read Giveaway: Ondine by Ebony McKenna

Every now and then you come across a book that makes you laugh out loud, cheer for the characters, and wish there were more pages long after you turn the last one. Ondine: The Summer Of Shambles was one of those special novels. If you enjoyed The Princess Bride or Ella Enchanted then this book is one you have to read. I was drawn in from the very first page and each page after that only drew me in deeper. It is one of the best novels I read in 2010. What makes this book even more special is the fabulous, supportive lady who wrote it. Ebony McKenna is one of those authors who reaches out to others and makes everyone around her smile. Here is a bit about Ondine:

Ondine de Groot is a normal fifteen-year-old who lives with her family in the European country of Brugel. She has a pet ferret called Shambles. But Shambles is no ordinary ferret... He's Hamish McPhee, a boy cursed by a witch. A witch who happens to be related to Ondine.

We love this book and this author so much that we're going to giveaway a copy to one of you! All you have to do is be a follower and leave a comment on this post. Here is what you can do to gain extra entries:

+1 for being a follower and commenting
+2 for entering here and on Heather's Odyssey where Heather is giving away a copy of Ondine: The Autumn Palace (Book 2).  (see her post tomorrow)
+3 for tweeting or blogging about the giveaway.
+4 for placing a link on the sidebar of your blog about the giveaway.

That's a possible total of 10 entries! Be sure to provide links to the places you tweeted or blogged about the giveaway and total up your points in your comment. You have until June 28th. The winner will be announced here on June 29th! Best of luck to all of you! Ebony has decided to sweeten the deal and will be giving away two ebook copies of Ondine: The Summer Of Shambles here and two ebook copies of Ondine: The Autumn Palace on Heather's Odyssey. That makes a total of six winners! Be sure to let us know if you have an ereader or not so we know whether to enter you for both the paperback and the ebook.

Monday, June 13, 2011

First Page Contest: Agent-Judged Blogfest

This week I'm skipping The Fool's Journey (it's okay, he's kind of tired from all that trekking and can use a little break, but he'll be back soon to take up where he left off). Instead, I want to share a fantastic opportunity with you—one that my wonderful Critique Sister, Heather, told me about.

Shelley Watters is generously hosting a first-page contest blogfest to celebrate her birthday on her blog. It looks terrific. Associate literary agent Victoria Marini, at the Gelfman Schneider Literary Agency, will read everyone's entries and select a winner who will get a full manuscript request from her, plus she will choose runners-up (she doesn't say how many) who will receive requests for partials.

To enter you must write in one of these genres:  YA, Middle Grade, memoir, pop-culture nonfiction, or women's commercial fiction. Details are all in Shelley's blog post.

But to give you a sneak peek, here's what Shelley says about the way to enter:

  1. Sign up on the link (on her June 7 blog post).
  2. On June 25th, post your title, genre, word count and the first 250 words on your blog for critique.
  3. From June 25th through June 26th, hop around to the other contestant's blogs and critique their first 250 words.
  4. On June 27th, come back to my blog and post your final entry on my dedicated contest entry blog post. Be sure to include:
    1. Your email address
    2. Title, genre, wordcount
    3. Your polished first page (250 words) Don't stop in the middle of a sentence.
    4. Where you follow me
    5. Where you spread the word
Thank you for doing this, Shelley. Glad to meet you, and I look forward getting to know your blog well. (And thank YOU, Heather, for telling me about this fun opportunity.)

I'm excited to take part in this contest. I love reading and critiquing first pages, and I love getting impressive feedback on my work, which, I've discovered to my delight, happens regularly in this blogging community. Hop on over to Shelley's blog and sign up! See you at the fest!

One last note:  We have some exciting news coming up on Friday here at Critique Sisters Corner. I'm not allowed to say more, but be sure to check back then! 


Friday, June 10, 2011

Have an idea? Brainstorm it into reality~

I've spent the previous two days flying across the Atlantic discussing writing. Numerous people have told me they wanted to write, but didn't know where to start. One pilot said, "I have an idea, but I don't know how to develop it."

He knew what he wanted to write about, but he didn't know about the inciting incident, plot points or character arcs. So I said, "Tell me about your story."

Not to give his story away, he said, "There is a woman... her son... and this is why the boy is special and how he got that way and why he dies."

Wow! What a great idea. We proceeded to brain storm how to develop this story. He gave me the basics, I gave him an inciting incident. We built on that and developed plot point one, then two. He also had world governments as the antagonist... but I learned early on that you need to have the villain be a person, not a group. We discovered who that individual would be. I'm seeing his woman grow internally and externally and we found her cause. We found her point of ultimate commitment. We discussed the final line of the book.

Much later after we had landed, were on the bus going to the hotel and he said, "I'm thinking the boy is going to..." He was thinking. He also didn't join us for dinner. I'm hoping he was busy putting his thoughts on paper.

This discussion gave me the idea of how anyone can write a book. Learn structure. Understand the inciting incident, plot points, and character arcs... then get a group of writers and brainstorm! I had so much fun helping him develop his story... I'm thinking I would love to help someone else.

If anyone would like to brainstorm a story idea, and you are coming to the PNWA's writer's conference in August, leave me a message. I, and depending upon the schedule of my critique sisters, will give one person a free brainstorming session to help move their idea toward becoming a novel.

What are your ideas for developing a story?

Enjoy the journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Difference Between Traditional Publishing & Self-Publishing

Years ago my answer to this would have been, "Quality." I was one of those people who thought those who self-published were those who couldn't make it in the traditional market. Go ahead and throw things, I deserve it. Hang on, let me wipe the rotten vegetables and fruit from my screen… Back then I would have never considered going that route, especially with a small publisher interested in my work. But I was naïve about the true differences between the two.

It's true, anyone can self-publish which means there is a lot of sub-par work out there. However, there is a lot of sub-par work in traditional publishing too. Out of all the traditionally published books I've read in the last two years there are only a handful of them that I really liked. Seriously. And you know what? I've read some outstanding self-published novels (Anne Riley's The Clearing, Kristie Cook's Promise, Purpose, Krissi Dallas's soon to be traditionally published Phantom Island: Wind). There is good work on both sides of the fence.

If you haven't heard about Abbott Press then you will soon. They are the self-publishing press I decided to go with instead of a small publisher who was interested in my novel. (By the way, I just wanted to reiterate that I love small presses and fully support them and their novels. It just wasn't the right choice for me and my book.) Your novel has to pass content evaluation for Abbott Press and then there is an editorial review in which you can potentially gain the Writer's Digest mark of quality if your novel is up to their quality standards.

The introduction of this mark of quality has the potential to change the answer to that question about the difference between traditional and self-publishing. In the near future the answer will no longer be "quality" but instead, "author royalties, author control, and retention of rights". The future looks brighter every day. For an in depth look at my process with Abbott Press so far check out my post on it here.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Do You Have the Inner Strength to Succeed? Week 8 With Tarot's Fool

Well, it's been a hard day's night (to borrow a phrase) for The Fool. While he slept on the barren plain he dreamed of victory, and voilà! The Charioteer appeared and gave him the strategy he needs to get to those beautiful trees of abundance that were in sight but out of reach at the edge of the flatlands. (Week 7 post. Links to previous posts in this series are at the end of this entry.) So now, he's angling in on a diagonal, skirting around the fissures in the plain that would swallow him whole (checking and double-checking submission guidelines before hitting the send button; revising his protag's character arc to reflect a deeper and pithier understanding of the power of the character's wound in everyday actions—no more superficiality or essential inconsistency in the writing!)

Near the tree line now, the scent of water intoxicates The Fool's senses and he steps up his pace. Yes! No question he's back on the right path at last. With every step he feels stronger. Once inside the cool caress of the forest, he finds a mountain-fed stream, clear water burbling over a bed of time-smoothed rocks. He kneels and drinks deeply, then splashes icy water over his face, and sits back for a moment to savor his renewal. (His revisions are finished; he has a new understanding of how to approach agents and editors based on THEIR needs; he thinks he knows how to work the angles.) Still, part of his new and improved understanding includes an awareness that there will be more obstacles, and some of them are total mysteries—they will reveal themselves at unknown times. This is daunting. But what's his choice? Go forward, or give up. He's not going to give up.

In fact he's feeling righteous and powerful now that he's in the forest. He's feeling proud, victorious. Obstacles? Enemies? He's renewed, he's equipped to handle anything! The more he thinks about it, the more he wants a confrontation. He can be a hero and prove himself!

And here's his chance. Ahead on the path is a maiden struggling with a lion. OMG! He runs toward her, thinking fast about how he can distract the lion, maybe get it to chase him, maybe throw himself bodily onto it or lift it with Herculean strength and toss it over a cliff! But just as he arrives at the spot he sees the maiden gently but firmly shut the lion's mouth!  This is Strength.

"How did you do that?" The Fool asks, his eyes wide with awe.

The maiden glances at him and smiles, then returns her attention to the lion. "Will power," she says, as she rests one hand on the lion's mane. A low rumble comes from the beast, and The Fool realizes with a start that the lion is purring.

"Will power?" he whispers.

"Any beast will back down before a superior will," the maiden says simply. She looks up, directly into The Fool's eyes, and he sees that although she's young and pure, she possesses knowledge and power.  He stands before her and waits, and she goes on. "We are human, not beast, but we, too, have wild and unworthy impulses sometimes. It's natural. But as humans, we can control them with our will rather than let them control us." She takes her hand from the lion and it curls on the ground at her feet.

"But what of our righteous rage?" The Fool asks.

"It is a great source of energy," she says. "Have courage. Use the energy for higher purposes."

The Fool nods and thanks the maiden. He is enlightened. He steps back onto his path, knowing the lion wasn't the only one tamed by the maiden's pure and innocent strength.

He's not foolish enough any more to shout "Bring 'em on!" to his unknown obstacles. So he treads his path with clarity and determination, and careful discernment. His eyes and heart are wide open to possibilities, and if he meets danger, he won't run from it, but he won't run at it, either. He will do all he can to prove his mettle. He will use his energy for higher purposes. (He is becoming someone with the courage and depth to know who he is, to take risks, and to write a book worth sharing with the world.)

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 Chariot  
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, June 3, 2011

Social Media and Corporate Conflict

As writers we create that much needed platform by blogging. We write about our stories, the process of writing and our lives. But what happens when our personal life of writing crosses over the boundaries of our company. 

We want exposure, but at what price?

This week I posted a commentary about an airline accident on Flight To Success. This accident could have been a scene in my aviation thriller, Flight For Control. We had quite the forum discussing “what” happened and “why” this plane fell out of the sky. Then I received "the" call.

My Chief Pilot made me remove this discussion because he said that it went high up in the company and I was “violating" their social media policy. Apparently a newspaper may publish it, and in our policy we’re not allowed to talk to the media. But I never gave them permission! I didn’t speak to any reporters! Do newspapers have the right to take and print our written words off our blogs?

My airline has been reading my blog and enabling me to continue to write. They like the support and positive community image I’m creating for them. But then I found a skeleton under the ocean, and was sent a gag order. I pulled that post after it circled the globe from blog to blog, and now I’m contemplating this social media world and the rights of our employers. Actually our rights. Beyond our rights, our responsibilities to the safety of an industry if we should find a snag.

We write for many reasons. To entertain, inform, educate, and communicate. This situation has made me think— what if you discovered something that was going on in your industry, that happens to be within your genre, and could potentially lead to multiple deaths and you hold the key to informing, educating and communicating. And it fits so nicely on your blog… of course this is what you write about. Wouldn't you? But writing about it leaves you open to losing your job and your career.

What are the boundaries, and perhaps ethics, of the “gag” order? As writers, should we risk the repercussions and write about it anyway? How much of our personal life should be ours and not owned by the corporate world? What happens when my novel gets published and they don’t like what they read?

Sometimes truth is scarier than fiction.

How do you deal with the ethical conflict between social media, your life and that of your day job? The boundaries are fuzzy lines.  

Enjoy the Journey!

~ Karlene

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Breaking Into Publishing

The days when opportunity came knocking at your door are all but gone. Now, one must seek out opportunity's door and knock on it. It doesn't hurt to come armed with a lock-pick kit and a sledgehammer as back up. The publishing world is changing, not only because times are hard but because of the electronic revolution. It's pretty safe to say it has never been harder to break into publishing. Unfortunately just writing a great novel isn't enough any more. A lot of factors come into play when you're trying to land an agent and sell your novel. The timing and material has to be right. If you wrote an outstanding novel that involves a trend that's on it's way out, agents and publishers will probably pass you by. So they're looking for the next big thing then right? Yes and no.

They're looking for something that has the potential to be outstanding, is fresh and innovative, but that people can relate to. Now you're totally confused aren't you? Don't feel bad, I'm right there with you. Not only does timing have to be right but there is a huge amount of luck that comes into play when you're introducing a new idea or one that's trendy. Voice and style are also a large part of it. You can write a book about a trendy idea but have a completely fresh voice or style that makes it something new.

So what can you do to increase your chances of succeeding in this increasingly discerning and competitive market? Perfect your craft. Take classes, go to retreats or workshops, or read books on the subject, that's your lock-pick kit. While my young adult paranormal series was on submission I've completed another stand alone novel in a different genre. There's the sledgehammer, a positive enduring attitude that won't give up. If you keep writing you increase you chances of success. It's important to keep improving your craft as well. If you can't attend writer's retreats or workshops in person then do so online. If that still isn't an option then pick up books on writing to help you improve.

A vital thing you need to realize is that agents and editors can't define your success if you don't let them. Don't stop improving, don't stop writing, and most important, don't give up. In the end, know your options and weigh them all.