Monday, May 28, 2012


The new blog that will fill this space, Write of Passage, will start here this Friday, and run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Meanwhile, for our regular CSC readers who weren't able to drop in last Friday, just scroll down to see the news. Thanks so much.

I hope to see you here again in a few days!

~ Linda

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Power of Transformation

Transformation is a deeply personal topic for the Critique Sisters this week. We met at a writing conference in Hawaii in August of 2009 and have been fast friends and co-bloggers ever since (well, the blog started a bit later, but not much). Having each other to bounce ideas off and strategize with has been fabulous, and writing this blog together has been a dream, but like all good dreams, it is coming to an end. The blog as it was, that is. The friendship and idea sharing go on! New dreams are being born for each of us, and that includes a new blog in this space, which I'll get to in a minute.

Karlene and Heather are each devoting themselves to tours with their books and fantastic business ventures, and are still blogging at their individual blogs that you already know so well:  Karlene at Flight to Success , and Heather at Heather's Odyssey.  When we talked about the transformation we were all going through and, in particular about CSC, they both suggested that I (Linda) inherit the blog space we've inhabited together up to now, and that they will come back and guest post often. I couldn't ask for two more generous or thoughtful friends.

I'm excited to tell you all that I'll be blogging in this space with a new writers' resource blog called Write of Passage. It will bring in the sensibilities of Critique Sisters Corner and will focus on the ideas, tools, processes, people, industry activity, and especially the fun of writing. Come back and check it out next week! Same space, same url. And before I sign off for the last time as one of the Critique Sisters (that kind of made me tear up), Heather and Karlene have a few words to share with you:

"Thank you Linda. I am so grateful to have had this opportunity to blog with you and Heather, and I couldn't be more happy to pass our pen to you. The Write of Passage couldn't be a better name. To all our readers... we are not going away. Heather, Linda, and I, will continue to be the critique sisters. We will just be sisters behind the scenes. I know there will be many writers retreats in our future, in addition to guest appearances on Write of Passage. I am looking forward to Linda's new blog. I know you will too." Karlene

"Karlene said it so well that she didn't leave me much to say. I would say that I will miss all of you, but I won't because I'm not really leaving, just handing over the reins to Linda. As Karlene said, she and I will be back monthly to guest post, and like any good friend, we'll visit every day. It's Linda's time to shine and I hope you'll all remain dedicated readers and followers and embrace her on this journey. To help get her off to a good start we'll be doing a fantastic giveaway that you won't want to miss." ~Heather

~ Heather, Karlene, and Linda

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Location, Location, Location

You've heard it time and again; it's all about location. But have you ever thought about how that plays into your writing? No, well perhaps it's time you did. It's no mistake that my first novel, The Secret Of Spruce Knoll, takes place in a tiny town in Colorado. I chose carefully based on the history of the area being colonized, and on the needs of my story and characters.

A truly good story uses setting as a sort of character. It becomes so much a part of the story that you feel as though you know the place, have been there, can feel it's weather, breath in its scents, and taste its native foods. If the location is well done in a novel, chances are you want to go back to it. This is the kind of experience we want to give our readers.

In To Ride A Puca, I worked hard to make the location of ancient Ireland take on a life of its own. From the damp mists that seem ever-present, to the towering trees (ancient Ireland remember) and rolling green fields, it is a place with a life of its own. A place I hope my readers will fall in love with as much as I did.

I can't help but think of location as I lounge upon the beach this week while on vacation in one of my favorite places on Earth. Oh yes, finally, I'm on vacation! I hope each of you get to take a vacation this year and use the experience to enrich your writing.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Launch Tour for TO RIDE A PUCA by Heather McCorkle!! (Champagne! Balloons! Whoo Hoo!!)


Hi Linda and friends, thanks for having me over. Today I’m dropping by to celebrate the release of my young adult historical fantasy about the last of the druids in ancient Ireland, To Ride A Puca. Though parts of it were heartbreaking to write, this one was a labor of love that will always hold a special place in my heart. Here is a bit about it:

Invaders are coming to take what isn't theirs, again.

Neala wants to stand and fight for her homeland, but as one of the last druids, she may be standing alone.

Persecuted, hunted down, forced to live in obscurity, the druids have all but given up. Can the determination of a girl who has barely come into her power bring them together? Or, just when she finally finds her place among her kind, will they end up losing a homeland their very magic is tied to?

Disclaimer: This novel contains some violence and difficult subject matter. It is recommended for mature YA and up.

I’ll be giving away great prizes, a new one to a new winner, every week for the next four weeks. This week I’m giving away an eBook of BECOME by Ali Cross, a twist on a Norse tale that will leave you breathless, and RUNNING WIDE OPEN by Lisa Nowak, an adrenalin pumping ride with a hot tempered teen who loves car racing. Stop by this link to enter to win. The contest will be open until May 27th, the winner to be announced on the 28th.

Linda: Thanks so much for sharing your launch of TO RIDE A PUCA with us, Heather.
I've had the opportunity to read this book and can tell you all that it is wonderful! The writing is crisp, the characters will draw you right into the story, and the story itself is as heartbreaking as it is riveting and filled with hope. If you are interested in history, Ireland, Viking invasions and/or druids (and their magic and the magical creatures who inhabit their world with them), you will love PUCA. And if you didn't know you were interested in all those things, you will enjoy a wonderful world of discovery with this book. (Plus the prizes! Wow.) Enjoy! 

~ Linda

Friday, May 18, 2012

Author Celebration: Paul Dalzell

 Paul Dalzell

2009, August. Honolulu Hawaii. A group of eight were huddled around a desk with William Bernhardt. I was in the midst of fabulous authors fine tuning their skills. Reflecting on that time, I smile. Green comes to mind as my experience, and ability, compared to this group's trailed in comparison. But that's why I attended... to learn. This is where I met Linda and Heather, and we've stayed connected.

The memory of that conference lingers on, as do the stories that the other members of our group were writing. Last Dream Before you Die is one of those stories, and the author is Paul Dalzell.

Paul is a fabulous story teller, and a talented author. But more than that, he is one of the nicest people you would ever hope to meet. I hope you will all join me in supporting this author's success with his novel, The Last Dream Before You Die

The Last Dream Before You Die by Paul Dalzell

Jack Bone is a detective, and nothing gets in the way of solving a case—not even the recent death of his partner. Still reeling from loss, Bone accepts an assignment in Wolfston, investigating the profitability of England’s last woolen mill. There’s something strange about the staff at the mill, though—especially the night shift, who seem to have a lot of secrets. The employees at the Wolfston mill are vampires, and they don’t like Bone snooping around.

He escapes unscathed, but that isn’t the end of his troubles. Bone’s busy caseload also includes the suspected smuggling of illegal aliens into England in trucks owned by Astra Clothing. Nearby, in Leeds, he encounters the Russian gangsters who are running the show. In a curious twist, he finds safety with the Wolfston vampires, who agree to help him with his case while keeping him safe.

Bone is right on the gangsters’ tail when they produce their own powerful vampire, threatening the lives of Bone’s close friends and family. Fearing further loss, he vows to bring the Russians to justice before it’s too late, but how can he fight an immortal foe? This might be Bone’s last case, but he won’t go down without a fight.

Available now from Abbott Press, and Amazon

Paul, best of luck and success with your novel. I'm looking forward to reading it. I'm sure it will be waiting for me at home when I arrive.

Everyone else, please join me in wishing Paul the best of luck with his novel! 

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Cause And Effect

For every action there is a cause and effect. This is vital to remember both as people and as writers. Something causes us or our characters to act in a particular way or to take a specific action. That action has an effect. To fully develop and understand that effect think of a pebble dropped into a pond. We as writers need to look not just at where the pebble dropped, but at the affect it's action had on the entire pond. If you are patient, sit long enough, and look hard enough, you'll see the ripples reach all the way over to the other side of the pond. Sure the ripple effect is reduced drastically by that time, so much so that it may be hard to see, but make no mistake, it is felt.

When you get stuck in a particular part of your story or want to add depth to a character or scene, think back on this pond. Imagine your character's action is like the pebble dropping into the pond, or your story. What effect does this action have on the entire manuscript as a whole?

Sometimes a boulder is dropped into the pond (or our story) and all seems completely hopeless for the character. No matter how much water is displaced, it will find it's way back into the pond, it will be filtered, enriched, and changed, but it will return. This holds true in life just as it does in our writing. That which seems irrevocably altered may in fact be, but what we end up with is just as amazing if not more than what we started with.


Author of The Secret Of Spruce KnollBorn Of FireChanneler's Choice, and To Ride A Puca. A short story of Heather's is also available in the free In His Eyes eBook anthology. 

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Monday, May 14, 2012

What's Your New Beginning Process?

Yesterday I attended a literacy fundraiser brunch put on by The Seattle Seven writers, and had the chance to hear several well-published authors answer questions about their writing process. Guess what. They were all over the place. A lot depended on what part of the book they were in, but a lot also depended on their individual proclivities.

This was particularly interesting to me, because I'm beginning a new book. This will be the fifth book I've begun, and hopefully the third that I will finish. (One of the two that I didn't finish took six years out of my life and I thought it might kill me, but in spite of the distress that came with that, what the song says is true: whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.) My two finished books are mystery/suspense, a genre I love. This new one, honest to God, I just don't know. All I know is I'm going to write it.

This not-knowing leaves me with one thing to hang on to (besides just letting the ideas flow): process. Establishing a habit to make sure something happens on the page, not just in my head.

So this morning, what I want to ask you is, what is your writing process when you are starting a new novel? Is it highly structured and thought out ahead of time? Is it the opposite?

To start us off, here's mine:

  • each morning I meditate for 15-30 minutes: an active form of meditation in which I ask questions and get answers (often unexpected, out of the blue answers)—for my story. So far, I have had shocking glimpses into my protagonist's character and her backstory; insights into secondary and tertiary characters who I didn't even have on my radar screen, let alone in my sights; and a few plot developments that add grounding and twists and give me some direction as to how this story might develop. 
  • I scramble into the kitchen where I have my pad and pen on the island and furiously write these ideas down longhand, and then have a much-needed cup of coffee—which I hold in my left hand because I have writer's cramp in my right one. 
  • then back to the living room and play the piano (badly) for 20-30 minutes. Something about that gives me unmatchable pleasure and completes the process for that morning 
What is the start-up of a new book like for you? Do you follow the same process each time, or no?

~ Linda

Friday, May 11, 2012

Heather's story, The Secret Of Spruce Knoll is enchanting readers. But where did the inspiration for this story come from?

We write for many reasons. Inspiration comes in many ways. And I think it's fun to know where our famous stories come from. Who thinks this stuff up, and why?

For those of you who know Heather, she is very connected to the earth. Her heart cries for the loss of life as animals become extinct. Most people sit around and complain. Not Heather. She takes action.
This is the story, behind the story. 


This story was born when I was watching a special on the shrinking habitat for polar bears. There was a commercial with a teen girl talking about saving endangered species and Eren’s character sprung up from that. The story of Spruce Knoll and it's inhabitants is the story of our world and what's happening to it.

I've always been inspired to do something about the increasing rate of extinction of many of our animals. When I became an author I found my way to do that. A portion of the proceeds of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll (from every copy sold, in every format) will go toward saving endangered species. My goal is to raise $10,000 by 12-12-2012, but that is a lot of books  and I realize I may not reach it. I figured, why not try though?! If by some miracle I do raise that much then I will continue to donate a portion of the proceeds of Spruce Knoll for another year.

Due to legal reasons I can’t say who the charity is that I donate to, but I can tell you that they are one of the top charities in the world that specializing in protecting endangered species. They’ve made great strides in preserving habitat, stopping poachers, and even helping to bring species back from the brink. But I can tell you that there are wonderful sites all over the internet but two of my favorites are the World Wildlife Fund and the National Wildlife Federation.

The situation for many endangered species is terribly sad. Tigers will be extinct in the wild in less than ten years. And unfortunately, they are only one on a long list of creatures that will be gone before this decade is over. Together we can make a difference though and that's exactly what I intend to do, and what you'll be doing whenever you buy a copy of The Secret Of Spruce Knoll. You can help by purchasing a copy for yourself, a friend, or a loved one, or by giving directly to one of the many amazing charities that help endangered species

Heather is the author of The Secret Of Spruce KnollBorn Of Fire,Channeler's Choice, and coming in May of 2012, the historical YA fantasy, To Ride A Puca. A short story of Heather's is also available in the free In His Eyes eBook anthology.

Thank you Heather! You're amazing and we all support your continued success! 

XOX Karlene

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What's In A Name?

First I want to send out a big welcome to our new followers! I look forward to checking out each of your blogs. Now to today's topic: Choosing a book title can be a daunty and frustrating task for some writers. During a past #WritersRoad chat, we discussed book titles. It made me think long and hard on what is in a name and what a title is supposed to do.

Titles aren't typically something I stress over. If it doesn't come to me at the beginning of the novel then it usually hits me somewhere before the end. However, the last book I wrote was different. I couldn't think of anything so I settled on a temporary title. Now I fear I may be stuck with it and I don't like it. The fabulous people participating in the #WritersRoad chat gave me some excellent ideas on brainstorming titles though. Write your query letter or your one-sentence hook before the book is done~or even started if you like~it will help you get to the heart of the novel. In the heart of the novel usually lies the best title. That's my typical method.

One friend on #WritersRoad suggested reading through the dialogue of your novel. This sounds like a very refreshing idea to me. I've got to try it! Another suggested thinking about the emotions the novel elicites the strongest. Another suggested brainstorming several titles just in case the publisher decides to change it. Others suggested the title asking a question, making the reader curious, a play on words, the list went on. When in doubt I think I'm going to try them all! For great discussions on writing related topics, join us on Monday nights at 6pm PT at this link.


Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?

Some of us struggle to keep up with the tumble of ideas that assaults us, each idea demanding we write a book about it because it's so great. Some of us are on the other end of the spectrum— searching, searching, for that one idea that will best express what we think we have to say.

I find myself pulled the first direction when I'm thinking about writing suspense novels with international intrigue. For example, a visit to Prague, Czech Republic, last week filled my head with images and intrigues in ancient winding cobblestoned streets. It's the perfect setup, especially if you place the story in the late eighties when communism was about to be defeated by the election of Vaclav Havel, and the world-famous Velvet Revolution happened. (I got the inside scoop on some of Havel's personal life peculiarities from a tour guide who was more than a little disenchanted by what the Czech government had been able to do for her and her countrymen and women lately.) The inherent conflict within the Czech people, especially those old enough to have been raised with communist structures who are now parents of people born into the new world of democracy, is a writer's dream.

On the other hand, I feel such a strong pull toward writing that literary novel that's been lurking deep in my heart for a while now, that I can't think of anything else, even though I don't know yet what it's bone structure looks like. My inclination in my search for that structure, counterintuitive as it may seem, is to turn to poetry, where truths seem to sprout from ancient roots.

Where do you get your inspiration for your book ideas? Do you dream them, live them, meditate them, sit down and deliberately doodle them, or just look and listen to what's going on around you and extrapolate? We can all grow from thinking about what works for others to shape ideas. No one approaches this exactly the same way, I'm convinced, even if the inspiration is the same, and it is fascinating to contemplate that. Where did your idea for your latest project come from? How did it take shape in your head?

~ Linda

Friday, May 4, 2012

Marketing 101

"Never Pass By an Opportunity 
to Sell Your Book!"

Please join me for 
My 50th Birthday Party Today! 

Virtual Party going on at Flight To Success

Enjoy the Journey!
XOXO Karlene

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Avoiding Basic Writing Blunders

The most basic of mistakes can cause an agent to reject your manuscript before they make it past the first page (or a reader to stop reading). Some of them are mistakes even seasoned writers make. There is one easy, simple rule and it is this: By the end of the first page the reader must want to turn it. You have to pique their curiosity, their interest, and make them want to know more. If you annoy them with basic blunders though they won't want to keep going.

While most people love a bit of prose no one wants to drown in it. If you spend paragraphs describing something just be sure the tension is building, a question is forming in the reader's mind, or something interesting is happening. Also, do not pile information or back-story on the reader in the first few pages. Push yourself to see how many pages you can last without putting any back-story in at all. A prologue is different because it usually isn't an information dump, it's usually happening now. Try to avoid flashbacks if you can. They have their place in some manuscripts but certainly don't belong in every manuscript and are most powerful when used few and far between.

Avoid clique beginnings at all costs. Agents rarely make it past the first paragraph of a clique beginning. Some examples are; weather, answering the phone, and the morning routine. Strive for originality, not something you read in another book or saw on TV. Respect your reader's intelligence. You don't have to explain every little detail, either in description or conversation. If the typical person would know something you can leave it out. Happy writing!


Author of The Secret Of Spruce KnollBorn Of FireChanneler's Choice, and coming in May of 2012, To Ride A Puca. A short story of Heather's is also available in the free In His Eyes eBook anthology. 

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