Monday, January 30, 2012

Endings and Beginnings

I was all set to write the last of the Fool's Journey Tarot posts today, when life, and death, got in the way. Got a call yesterday from a very close friend, who's husband has been ill for almost a year. He had died. Needless to say, the past twenty-four hours have been a bit of a blur, and that's just for me and other friends and family of my friend and her husband. For her, they've been beyond what the rest of us can comprehend on an emotional level.

So I hope and know that you'll understand why business as planned is not happening on my blog post today, and I thank you.

Before I sign off today, though, I do want to share that as I get older I learn each day that everything is experience, and that we can be fulfilled by being open to all of it, the bad with the good, if we respect it and ourselves. I saw true grace in my friend yesterday, who laughed and cried and told stories and listened to stories as we sat with her for hours. We ate and drank a little, but mostly we talked, and I saw a woman who accepted devastating reality with dignity and humility and found a way to still feel love, and even humor, in her life. Stay open to life, and life will stay open for you. A message for us all.

Next week, I'll be back here with Tarot's Fool. Come back then, and we'll find our where his journey has taken him. Thanks.

~ Linda

Friday, January 27, 2012

Manipulation of Time

“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.”
- William Penn

I don’t have time. I wish I had the time. I’ll do it tomorrow. If only I had time. Someday I’ll go back to school. Someday I’ll take flying lessons. Someday I’ll go visit my friend. Someday I’ll write a book.

I learned a long time ago, a flight to someday lands at an airport called nowhere. This is a place where tomorrow never comes. You wake up, and tomorrow is always a day away. Talk about baggage fees. Carry your baggage on this flight, and you’ll be paying for the rest of your life.

Baggage—your stories of why you don’t have time. The fact is, you don’t have time because you haven’t put whatever it is that you think you want, on the top of your priority list.

Have you ever wondered why some people create phenomenal success, while others blame the lack of time on their inability to achieve their dreams? I’ve heard every excuse in the book, but the reality is, time is the only thing that we all have in common. Everyone has exactly 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day, sixty minutes in an hour, and sixty seconds in a minute.
It’s not the lack of, but how you use it that counts.

The only way to achieve the success you desire is to put whatever you want on the top your priority list and make it a must.

Tony Robbins told me years ago, that the only way to success is to “turn my shoulds into musts.” When something is a must, you do it. Why does it take someone hitting rock bottom before they quit drinking? Hitting that bottom, life has becomes so painful that they must change, or they die.  When we live comfortable lives, it’s hard to stir them up creating a mess of exhaustion. While the end result sounds really good, the effort is too painful. So we lie to ourselves and make stories as to why we “don’t have time.”

You fulfilling your dreams is about shaking up your life, and saying, “I must do this!” I will get more pleasure if I complete it, than if I don’t.

When I started writing many people said, “One day I’ll write a book, but right now I just don’t have the time.” Of course they have time. But until writing that book becomes a top priority they won’t create the time, they’ll just blame the lack of. Ask yourself why you haven’t accomplished my goals? What is really stopping you? It’s not the lack of time it’s your misappropriation of thw funds called time.

Time is a commodity—one of the most valuable commodities there is. How much would you spend for more of it? More importantly, with the time you have, how would you choose to spend it if you knew there was nothing that you couldn’t accomplish?

Imagine being given $24 a day—$1 for every hour. The catch is, if you don’t use it you lose it. What would you do with your $24? How far can you stretch your dollar?

I really want to write a book so I am spending $5 a day on working on my writing five hours per day until it’s done. I love to read and exercise—I read while exercising, so I can do two things for a $1. You mean it’s going to cost me $10 to sleep for 10 hours? Hmmm… I’m thinking I would rather spend two hours writing my blog, an hour playing scrabble with my husband, and sleeping 7 hours. Honestly, I’d give up another hour of sleep for more reading time in the bathtub. The point being, you have 24 hours a day, how will you spend them if you turned your wishes into musts?

Where do you waste time?

I challenge you to take notes on how much time you spend telling people all you have to do. Pay attention to how many times you’re standing in line, waiting at the school to pick up your kids, or sitting in an office somewhere, and that book you’ve always wanted to read (someday) is at home. How often do you sit on the couch for five minutes, that turn into an hour that you could have been sleeping if you’d just gone to bed? My favorite form of time wasting is procrastination by spending an hour (or more) making a to-do list for the next day. Better yet, ever call a friend and tell them how busy you are and proceed to give them the itinerary? We’ve all been there. There is time to be had. It’s up to you to find it.

The question of why some people create phenomenal success, while others blame the lack of time for their lack of success, is because they decide to take action on their dreams. They’ve decided that the value of what they will gain far exceeds the value of what they’re giving up to do it.

Unlocking the mystery of the lack of time syndrome falls into making your dreams a must, then managing those hours you have. Be honest with yourself and decide how you want to spend each moment of your life. Where do you waste time? Why haven’t you made “you” a priority on that daily list of to-dos?

You own 24 hours a day, what will you do with them? A secret to success is finding, making, and creating time. You have the power, and the time to achieve your dreams.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Power Of A Critique

For some of you this post may look familiar. But for those who didn't follow the Critique Sisters in our prior incarnation, I felt this post was important enough to post here. 

Depending upon how it's worded, a critique can lift an author up and show them a better way or it can destroy their confidence and make them question their ability. If you've ever been part of a critique group you've probably experienced one or the other, maybe even both. To improve you must be able to take criticism but there is good criticism and there is bad. You need to be able to identify which kind of criticism you're receiving so you know how to process it.

Destructive criticism is that which points out the problem in a manner that demeans or dismisses the work or author. You can still learn from this type of criticism but it's difficult. Destructive criticism makes a writer feel defensive. If you're faced with this type say very little and take notes so you can look back over them later when you aren't under fire. Clarifying questions are fine but don't defend your work, you don't need to. You have nothing to prove to this person and you might feel different after you cool down and read what they said.

Good criticism isn't a contradiction of terms no matter how much it sounds like it, it is constructive criticism. Think of it this way. If you see a problem and just point it out that isn't very constructive. But if you see a problem, point it out, and offer a solution that is constructive. However, this can still come across as harsh. It's all in the delivery. The best way to start with any criticism is to point out what you liked, or what does work. Once you've done this the writer is more open to receiving criticism because they aren't on the defensive. Then you can point out what didn't work or make sense and suggest a solution that might help.

Destroy, or empower, which will you do?


Monday, January 23, 2012

Are You Growing as a Writer? Week 20 with Tarot's Fool

If you're not finding at least one of the following: new ideas, improved approaches to your craft, different ways of looking at character development or scene development or story itself, you're not experiencing growth as a writer. If you're not experiencing growth, you're in danger of getting trapped in stasis, which can be a comfortable and even a profitable place to be for a while, but inevitably leads to death of the imagination and of the career if you don't break out of it. Sounds extreme, doesn't it? And not very user friendly, either. But that's the reality of life in any creative, dynamic field, and that's what the Fool has been showing us all these weeks and months. This is the way to the golden fleece.

Remember when the Fool looked like this? Ah, youth! It's beautiful in its naiveté. And it's also exactly where we want to be when we start our quest, because we need the energy and belief and excitement that comes with beginnings. Since the beginning of his quest, the Fool has matured tremendously, and at times has dealt with blows and challenges so severe that he's looked more like a wizened old man when he's emerged than like the champion of truth, honor, love, and joy that he is. But he's persevered, and as we saw last week, it's finally beginning to pay off big time for him (The Sun: Week 19). Not only has he developed wisdom and strength of character, but he's been given his own authentic voice back, which he'd lost for a while along the way. It's the voice that propelled him on his journey in the first place, but he, himself, is so changed now that his current challenge is to figure out how best to use this precious gift to fulfill his new and fuller promise.

It's not easy, even now. All the old tapes are playing in loops in his head, because there's assurance in familiarity. Every time he puts out a foot to finalize his journey, his feet want to take him onto familiar ground, to the places he's been before. Fire-breathing dragon? Unsheathe your sword! (the crowd cheers) Maiden in distress? Rush to defend her! (the audience hangs on every move). But if he's learned anything in the first nineteen weeks of this journey, it's that life is almost never black and white. Sure, some dragons are evil and must be slain, but there are others that look just as scary but bring wisdom and glory with their fire. (Week 15: The Devil) That maiden in distress? When he got to her he saw that she was doing just fine. In fact she was taming a ferocious lion to her will (Week 8: Strength). Now the Fool has reached a point, he instinctively understands, where he needs to incorporate this evolved knowledge into his steps. His hero status is not in question any more, and he has a chance to experience the power beneath the surface.

He suddenly feels himself being swept aloft, like a feather picked up by an updraft and sent spiraling, to land who-knows-where? And then he sees her, a fiery angel, beautiful and terrible.

This is Judgement. "You are right," she says to the Fool, reading his thoughts. "You have only one last step on your journey. But you cannot take that step until you lay your past to rest."

What?? The Fool doesn't say it out loud, because the angel is pretty intimidating, but what the heck, this can't be right! "But," he says to her, "I've left it behind me—all of it."

"There's no way to do that," she says. "Remember, each step you've taken wore down your shoe, just a bit, which shaped the next step you took, and so on. Your past is always under your feet. You can never put it behind you."

"Then how can I put my past to rest?" the Fool asks, humbled.

"Call it up. Come to terms with it. Are you willing to do that?" She holds out a small trumpet for him to take.

The Fool looks with despair at the trumpet. He's already been through so much. But he gets hold of himself and thinks. He didn't brave that river of no return two weeks ago for nothing (Week 18: The Moon). That was a pivotal experience, one that taught him that when he's faced with a personal crisis of this magnitude he must let go and trust himself to the universe. This is a final decision, either to go forward, or stay where he is. He lets go of all expectations, reaches out, and takes the trumpet.

He blows the trumpet and the air and trees and sky around him, the very Earth, seem to crack open. Memories rise from beneath his feet. Images of his whole journey up to now pass before him—his innocent youth, challenges, loves, failures, losses, success, disillusionment and wisdom. For the first time, he doesn't try to forget them or put them in a tidy place behind him, he simply accepts them. They hold no fear for him any more, and he realizes they are gone to everyone but him. He alone carries them into the present. The moment he realizes this, they vanish. They remain in his mind, but he is free of them. He is fully in the present.

When you live in a world of ideas, as we writers do, what does this mean? It might be as simple as letting go of an idea that wasn't working for us. It might be as monumental as embracing change at such a basic level that our writing can't help but reflect a profound disruption to our previous style. In either case, or anywhere in between, our reward is that we can now harvest the newfound fruits of our mind. Are these newfound fruits—these realities of the present— actually "correct?" Will they lead us to our golden fleece? The only way to find out is to use them and allow them to help us. When they become second nature to us and we no longer identify with an ideal or a model, but with them, our insight will unfold. The result? Open sesame. The curtain is rising on your next Act.

The Fool will find out what that means for him next week. He'll have a hint or two for us, too.

~ 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 Tower17—The Star18—The Moon; 19—The Sun

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, January 20, 2012

Shameless Marketing

My book will be available next week, but I started my marketing campaign by... telling everyone I meet that I wrote a book, and a little about it. But I didn't realize the power of how much marketing can happen during your everyday life. I made really cool business cards with my book on one side. My info on the other.

  • This week I rented a car for my daughter at Enterprise, and gave a  card to the young lady checking us in, after I'd told her about the story. 
  • I walked to Subway by the airport with my husband, and in line I realized that everyone was an airline employee on lunch break. I gave each of them a card and told them about my book while waiting in line. 
  • While making a deposit at Fidelity, I told the young man about my book and gave him a card. 
But today... I was shameless!

I marketed my book while paying bills.

  • I called Fidelity to ask questions about selling stock. I pitched my book to the agent. He's really excited to read it.
  • I called to pay my husband's hospital bill and spoke to a person back in the midwest. One thing lead to another, and she asked me what I did to enable me to stay home and work. I pitched my book. She's buying it!
  • I called the my credit card company to ask how much, and when, my next payment was due. Guess what? I told the agent about my book. Yep... more excitement. 
Marketing opportunities are everywhere. 

What is the most creative way you've marketed your book?

By the way... Did I tell you my book will be available next week?

Enjoy the Journey!
XOX Karlene

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Writer's Overload

It happens to us all, no matter how hard we try to fight it; writer's overload. In fact, trying to fight it often brings it on faster. With the new year comes new hopes, expectations, and the dreaded resolutions. While I haven't made any resolutions this year I have been working my tail off with deadlines.

I used to dream of the day when my book released, how I'd be able to relax, write at my leisure, and have all the time in the world. My perspective of what it would be like couldn't have been more skewed. Once The Secret Of Spruce Knoll hit shelves I had to start marketing my tail off (you would think at this point I no longer have one, yet there it is, persistent as writer's block). Publishers expect authors to take a very active role in their own marketing today so be sure that's something you're prepared for. I thought I was, but it took me by surprise just how much there is to it.

It didn't stop with marketing either. Once you've got one book out they want more. Which is great, but that means you have to write it, edit it, and get it in on time. Enter Channeler's Choice releasing the end of February. Then there's this new trend publishers (and readers) are embracing; putting out a novella between novels. Love it, great idea, but at this point you start to feel like Atlas with the world on your shoulders. Enter Born Of Fire, my channeler novella.

The moral of the story is write, write, write. Don't wait between books while you're submitting to agents or are on submission to publishers. Get that next novel done, then the next, and keep going because when you do get that break, chances are they'll ask, "what else have you got? And how quick can you get it to us?"


Monday, January 16, 2012

Here Comes the Sun: Week 19 with Tarot's Fool

The Fool has turned a corner in his journey. A good one! It's about time, I'd say, wouldn't you? True, it has been an amazing journey so far, a fantastic journey. In spite of tremendous challenges (or because of them), he's grown in profound and unexpected ways. 

He's had glimpses of the world's overwhelming power in its secrets and forces and possibilities (exciting and scary); accepted that he's not only made a few mistakes in his quest, but been guilty of and blindsided by self deception (humbling); understood instinctively that although he has faced defeat after defeat, partly because he needed to learn these lessons before he could succeed, what he's doing is important, it's great, and he must never give up (exhausting!); learned how to grow from each experience, good or bad (wow); embraced true humility (no easy feat, double wow), and learned to trust himself to the universe (very difficult, in fact not possible until he learned true humility). He's definitely due for a good turn.

Last time we were with the Fool, he'd taken a leap of faith as the full moon shone down on him and he found himself in a world of genius and madness (Week 18: The Moon). His choice was to either go mad, or trust the powerful river he stood in to help him find himself. He chose the river. He managed to climb into a boat with no oars or rudder before the river's strong current swept him away. At least the boat would take him somewhere, and he wouldn't drown. Exhausted, the Fool passes out in the boat as it carries him toward his destiny.

He wakes up at dawn to find himself still in the boat, but the river has come to an end. He's floating in a tranquil pond, surrounded by a walled garden filled with roses and lilies and gorgeous giant sunflowers. As he gets out of the boat and takes a few steps into the garden on shaky legs, he hears a child laughing somewhere nearby. The sun is rising, huge and golden, and the source of the laughter, a small boy, rides into the garden on a white horse.

The little boy leaps off the horse and runs over to the Fool. "Come see!" he says, taking the Fool's hand. He proceeds to show the Fool all the amazing wonders of the garden: the dewdrops on the rich green blades of grass, the seeds at the center of the sunflowers, the light as it sparkles on the pond. And then he starts asking questions of the Fool, like why is the grass green, why is the air sparkling, why is it so fun to smile?

As if his lips have a will of their own, the Fool discovers himself smiling, and the smile keeps growing, brighter than it has been for a long time. He has been tested and tried, confused and scared, dismayed and amazed since he started this journey, and now he is amazed all over again in a new way. This is the first time, he realizes, that he has been simply happy. He looks at the child who has given him this gift, who has invited him to share in his generosity and open spirit, and he knows that he now sees himself and the world in a fresh, golden light. "Who are you?" he asks the child.

The child smiles at the question and, as the Fool watches, he begins to shine, then grows brighter and brighter until he turns into pure sunlight. "I'm you," the Fool hears him say in a voice that comes from everywhere in the garden. "The new you." The Fool has just met his own inner light.

Now the Fool will move forward renewed, ready to face the final hurdle in his quest. He is filled with strength that comes from all he's been through and from the gifts of the child. There is nothing he can't do.

Renewal. It doesn't come easy. There's a special kind of exhaustion that comes from putting everything we've got into our quest and then having to let it go, trust ourselves to the universe. The alternative is to hold on tightly to our process from fear of losing control, but most of us know from experience that never works out very well. So the best we can do, once we've given the quest all we've got, is climb into our rudderless boat and let the river sweep us to our destiny. Scary. Tarot tells us, though, that if we do that, we will find our inner child once again, the spirit of our voice, and that can lead straight to renewal. Scary morphs into joy. It's not quite the golden fleece, not yet, but it does hold that promise. This particular journey is coming close to completion.

~ 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 Tower17—The Star; 18—The Moon 

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, January 13, 2012

The Power of a Cover

The cover is the gift wrapped package...

Will the front cover draw them to the book? Do the colors instill feelings of the genre? Does your name pop out? Does your title pop out? When this cover is on line (shrunk down), can someone still read it and see the images? When they turn it over, is the back part of the they belong together? Will the words on the back make them want to read it? When they open the book, does the mini-synopsis entice them? What about the information about the author. Does your bio make someone want to know you? Read your book? Buy more?  There is so much going into the cover. Of course it's the content that will keep them reading and make them come back. But the cover is what will entice them to pick up the book.

TEXT on the BACK

Flight For Control is a fascinating debut and a truly terrifying insider's take on the airline industry by an author who knows what she's talking about.  You will not want to get on an airplane after reading Petitt's book.    
Mike Lawson—Author of The Political Thriller of the Year
House Divided, House Secrets and House Justice

“A strong debut with a complex plot that keeps the reader guessing until the very end.”    

Robert Dugoni—Lawyer and New York Times Bestselling Author of fiction
The Jury Master, Cyanide Canary, and Damage Control

“Flight for Control is a powerhouse debut novel.  Karlene Petitt combines her insider knowledge of the airline industry with her impressive writing skills to create a spellbinding thriller.  Why did Flight 39 crash?  Could there be more to these air disasters than meets the eye?  And what can Kathryn do about it? I was hooked on the first page and never stopped reading till it was over.”  

William Bernhardt—Over 10 million novels sold. Bestselling Author of
Capital Betrayal, Nemesis, and Hate Crime

This is my cover... Thoughts?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Different Kind of Literary Gathering

This past week, Seattle hosted the annual MLA (Modern Languages Association) Convention, which is a gathering of thousands of university-level academics who study or teach language or literature. The city was crawling with them, all humbly spouting literary theories and criticisms of literary precepts, practices and presumptions. Very entertaining! It was definitely fun to hang out in restaurants and eavesdrop on people gossiping animatedly about things like what the hell the editors could have been thinking in the last issue of the Shakespeare Quarterly.

But aside from the voyeuristic opportunities the convention offered to regular folk like me, there were some sessions open to the public, where the discussions were less analytical, and more about public appeal and commerce. I was lucky enough to attend two of them. One was on Pinter in Seattle, organized by the Harold Pinter Society and focused on a local resurgence of interest in producing Pinter's plays here. It offered wonderful insights about the man from people who knew and worked with him and loved him.

I came away from that session thinking I want to delve into Pinter's plays again, even though I remember his work (from reading and attending one play long ago) as disturbingly experimental. I've grown as a reader since then and am more open to less formulaic stories than I used to be, but the main thing that drew me to be interested again was a statement made by one of the speakers (Harry Burton, a British actor and Pinter insider). He made it clear that Pinter's humor was based in vaudeville, and that his inspiration, in all he did, was love. Love of humankind and of higher human values. How can you not want to explore the work of a Nobel Prize winning playwright with those interests?

The other session I attended had a different kind of message. It was more about what it's like to be a highly creative writer. It was called A Creative Conversation with Richard Van Camp: Writing, Language and Indigenous Expression. Okay, the title is pure academese. But believe me, Richard Van Camp is not. A rising star in native writings, and self-proclaimed channeler, Van Camp writes about the Tlicho people of the Northwest Territory, his people. He is from a very small town there and has experienced many of the extreme difficulties we know about in Native American cultures from writers like Sherman Alexie. But Van Camp, while devoted to addressing all the most difficult issues of his culture, seems to do everything from a totally positive point of view. That was palpable in the room, as his enthusiasm and energy demanded we all sit up and not only listen but participate in the joy and beauty that literature can bring. Mind you, his favorite topics are often the forbidden or dark ones like sexuality and substance abuse and violence, but his voice is amazingly upbeat. This was interesting, a window into a voice that compels with insight and vitality about darkness. In terms of form, Van Camp writes everything from children's books to graphic novels to short stories.

The session opened with a 17-minute film that has been made of one of his stories, in which many voices (six or seven actors) express an identical experience, riveting and confusing, of observing and interacting with someone known as "The Quiet One" at a community gathering. One will start a sentence, another will repeat or pick up from there, and so on; all are puzzled by what they've observed, and deeply affected by it. Bizarre and surrealistic things happen in this story. It is mystical and haunting and profound, but has no satisfying explanation or denouement. It only raises questions and awareness of consciousness.

Cut from the end of the film to us, sitting in the session room with Van Camp, who is forty and looks like he might be twenty-two. He talks with speed and confidence, telling us that this was a true story, that everything in it actually happened. A bit later he repeats that it was a true story, one that he dreamed. He has not one single doubt that the mystical experiences in his life are real, and he is so enthusiastic and smart and grounded that you don't really doubt him. At the very least you respect that these experiences, along with more everyday types of events, make his writing real.

Van Camp told a couple of other stories, then talked about his writing process: he knows what he's working on, gets up around five or five-thirty in the morning, writes (channels) for about an hour and a half, then has the rest of his day to be out in the world and devote himself to helping improve things. I'm thinking that it is the living he does later in the day that provides the seeds of the stories he tells through his channeling process. He also talked about rewriting being the real writing, and said that he spends a huge amount of time reworking his stories, "like pulling a comb through tangled hair." So it's not all channeling.

Mainly, I came away from this session pondering what Van Camp's message meant for me, because I knew it meant something personal, even though his process is not mine. A day later it occurred to me that in listening to Richard Van Camp I had experienced the medium being the message. He was the medium, and the message was clear: enthusiasm. Celebrate the beauty and power of storytelling and don't even think about second guessing yourself. You've got the power. Enjoy it. Use it for good.

The message might have been different for others in that room, but for writers, I think that, or some version of that, was it. What a great mantra for our 2012 writing!

~ Linda

Friday, January 6, 2012

Writer's Courage

Last week I enjoyed reading Julie Musil's:

I won't go into a review of her review, but I recommend everyone should read it. Critical understanding creates better writing. Julie has it figured out.

Rarely do I see the movie before reading the book. But my daughter has my book, and I had the opportunity to see the movie first, so I did. As we all know, the book is always better... so I'm looking forward to reading this novel as I loved the movie.

What I loved most about the movie was the message to writers:

Do not run in fear of what you write. 

For me this was a huge message. If Kathryn Stockett, and the women she interviewed, were willing to break the law and face potential death... then who am I to fear of losing my job? Integrity and being willing to stand up to what is wrong is worth the risk. If writers don't do this, who will? How will people know when change is needed?

What are you afraid of? 

As writers we have an obligation to face the fear and write the truth.  
Why do we write? Sometimes it's to entertain, but often it's to inform.

Writing takes courage, among other things. Quite honestly, I feel that writing has taken over my life. More than a passion... an obsession. I love it. Perhaps it's time to give my life to it, too. 

Go forward without fear. If something needs to be changed, write about it. Kathryn Stockett did. She made a difference with her writing. Will you?

Enjoy the Journey!

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What Not To Do At A Conference

It's nearly conference season again and I thought I'd share some of what I've learned about them with you. First let me put your mind at ease. Agents and editors expect you to be nervous and they don't mind. Take a deep breath and remember they are people too. They want to like your book. Now to the good stuff.

1) Come prepared. If you know you'll clam up and forget what to say bring notes or a copy of your query letter. Don't read straight from it if you can avoid it. Agents want to interact with you. Bring a copy of your first ten pages just in case, but do NOT push it on them unless they ask for it. Typically agents don't like business cards. They say they get lost or end up as scratch paper. It may not be the rule, but it is the consensus of the majority of agents I've talked to.

2) Don't bring gifts, gimmicks, or props. You don't want to know what I've heard agents say about this. Let's just say most of them see it as a cover for the fact that your writing may be lacking and you may be trying to make up for it. They want your work to stand out on it's own.

3) Don't lie, ever, about anything. It isn't worth it, it won't get you a deal or an agent, and they will find out.

4) Be polite and respectful. People in this industry talk, a lot, and you don't want to burn any bridges because they all connect. Agents aren't at a conference because they need to be, they're there because you need them to be. They have authors they already represent, manuscripts to critique or read, and editors to call or meet. It is a kindness that they take the time out of their busy schedules to attend.

Now relax and have fun. We write because we love it, remember that above all else. I'd love to hear any other great tips or tidbits of information anyone has on conferences!


Monday, January 2, 2012

Publishing Growing Pains Continue

Happy New Year!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful end-of-2011 celebration and are raring to go in 2012. I do feel it's good to have the past year behind us. It was tough and complicated in many ways, from wars to tsunamis to the elephant in the room—the economy, not to mention the effects of all that on mere mortals trying to get books published. 

While we take several lungfulls of fresh 2012 air, hitch up our britches and step into the Breach once again, we continue to face an ever-changing publishing environment. Self publishing is going gangbusters, but no one knows quite where it is that it's going for most of those intrepid previously unknowns who've taken the plunge; Amazon and Barnes&Noble are (as predicted by many) the only behemoths left standing that are in a position to take full advantage of the emerging self-publishing vector as well as offer traditionally published books, and therefore control what and how people read; the traditional publishing industry is showing signs of fighting back and getting a grip on the realities of its changing world, but is still lagging in many ways that have to do with speed and payout; and small publishers with good track records continue to emerge as the gems that gleam brightest for writers who want a little advance money and a bit of marketing and publicity support. 

There are so many question marks still on the page that 2012 promises to be a year of (painful) continued growth and change. I'm guessing that it will be a pivotal year for publishers and authors alike, but hardly the one in which these issues are resolved.

On that ambiguous note, here are a couple of articles on the subject of self vs. traditional publishing that have come out recently:

The US Justice Department is investigating e-book pricing and the agency model.

A leaked document from Hachette Book Publishing that responds to criticism from supporters of self-publishing (don't forget to click on Joe Konrath's response to the Hachette document).

And finally, one more example of the type of commentary that we can expect a lot more of (this one on the other side from Seth Godin and Joe Konrath) from mega-author Richard Russo.

It's going to be a fun year!

~ Linda