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