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Writer on the Verge

October 18, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as

by Kate Carlisle
Will it ever ring? Will they ever call? They never call. Sigh.

I think I’ve been waiting for “The Call” since … well, probably since I had a phone that looks like this one.

Fifty years? Okay, maybe not that long. Maybe only twenty years.

But the waiting is over, my friends.


And oh, it was a sweet moment. And at the risk of sounding really silly–like that’s ever stopped me!–I’ve got to tell you, everything in my world changed in that single moment, when my agents told me that a senior editor at a top publishing company had enough confidence in my writing that she was willing to buy three–THREE!–as-yet unwritten manuscripts from me.

Oh yes, everything changed.

It shouldn’t be that way, should it? A word from one person and suddenly you’re more important or special or different than you were a minute ago? Validation shouldn’t have to come from outside. I should have confidence in my own work. And I do. I know I have writing talent. I work with the most fabulous agents in New York City. I’ve won writing contests and received requests for my manuscripts and studied writing craft and I usually know what I’m doing when I sit down to start a new manuscript.

But something is still missing.

And like magic, when The Call comes, everything changes and all the years of hard work and rejections and hitting your head against the wall and stumbling and picking yourself up and starting over again — all that background story suddenly hits an incredible turning point and spins and twists and explodes in an amazing climax. And whew, everything is different. And it’s fantastic.

Don’t believe me? Just wait. It happened just like that for me and it’ll happen to you, too, if you just remember three little words. Maureen Child used them yesterday and I’m repeating them today because they just may be the key to getting what you want.

Three little words …

Never Give Up!!!

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Writer on the Verge

August 14, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as ,

Research – What Came First, the Plot or the Vacation?

by Kate Carlisle

One of my manuscripts stuck on a shelf deep inside the bedroom closet, never to see the light of day, involves a heroine who must travel from her home in San Francisco to the West Coast of Scotland in order to unravel an ancient mystery. Along the way, of course, she meets a really cute Interpol agent and falls in love with him and settles in the Highlands.

It’s got everything — romance, mystery, a touch of paranormal, and location, location, location.

This is how I like to plot my books—and plan my vacations. My husband has learned to live with it. If I need to see Etruscan pottery at the British Museum, then he’ll need to see the selection of bitters on tap at the Museum Tavern across the street. If I’ve got to pop into the London Transport Museum to look at carriages, I’ll find him later in one of the Covent Garden pubs, researching single malt scotch. It works for us.

My next book will involve a killing in a wine bar on the Ile St. Louis. Our intrepid heroine will track the killer—and the wine shipment—all the way to Castellina in Chianti. She’ll stay in a 17th century stone house overlooking the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany. She’ll dine on wild boar and mushroom risotto served with a fine Brunello di Montalcino, and finally trap the killer in an ancient wine cellar. No bottles will be broken, no alcohol spilled, in the pursuit of justice.

Hey, it’s my process!

What’s your process? What comes first? The plot or the characters—or the vacation plans?

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Writer on the Verge

May 11, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as

The Seven Deadly Sins, Part One: Envy

Don’t you just hate those stories about some new author who sold her book on a two-sentence pitch and she did it within, like, two days of signing with a fabulous agent, and she got some amazingly huge advance?


Okay, maybe you don’t hate those stories, but seriously, don’t you hate those people? Come on, tell the truth, you hate them! They suck!! They just got lucky and it should’ve been you!!

Okay, maybe you don’t hate them, exactly. Oh wait, of course you don’t hate them, because uh-oh, that very thing happened to your best friend. Oops. Which means you’re really, really happy for her, right? Of course you are! She’s your best friend and she’s worked really hard and she’s really talented and you love her and only want the very best for her! Right?


Just admit it. There’s an eensy little part of you that’s pouting and stomping your foot, right? Right? Come on, admit it!

Because it’s so not fair! You’ve been working your butt off for years and your work is really good, so why didn’t it happen to you? Come on, say it with me: Why do good things happen to everyone else but me?????

Jeez, don’t you feel whiny?

And don’t you love that I’m talking about you and not me? Well, yeah, because I would never feel that way. Ever! But if I did—which I never would, but if I did—hmm, what would I do? What would you do?

Well, lucky for you, I’ve actually thought about this—in theoretical terms only, of course. So how do you deal with that horrible envy you feel when good things happen to other people? It’s not easy but here are two suggestions.

1. Fake it. “Act as if” you’re happy for them. Slap a smile on your face and wish your lucky friend well, and try to mean it, and eventually that uncomfortable twinge of happiness will sink in and grow and stay. If it doesn’t, if you’re determined to play the victim, or the angry writer, or the bitter pain in the butt every time you’re around your more fortunate friend, then you need more help than this perky little blog entry can provide. Seek professional help.

2. Get ready for it to happen to you. Write every day. Show up. Be a good friend to other writers. Learn about the publishing business. Read. Take every opportunity to get your work in front of the right people. Take risks with your writing. And truly enjoy your friends’ successes. Hey, maybe they’ll bring you in on their next best-selling anthology. It could happen! And suddenly that person everyone else envies will be you!

Kate Carlisle is a Golden Heart Winner and American Title III finalist who writes Romance, Mystery, and Young Adult fiction.

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Writer on the Verge

April 13, 2007 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as

What’s Wrong With Me?

By Kate Carlisle

As I write this, I am temporarily blind in my left eye from a migraine headache.

Naturally, I’m wondering why I didn’t simply shoot a quick email to let everyone know I wouldn’t be able to blog today. But that seemed like the wimp’s way out. I mean, I’ve been getting migraine headaches since I was a teenager, so if I’d cancelled every little thing over a stupid headache, I would’ve missed out on a lot of my life. So I pop a migraine pill and keep going.

But right now the pain is forcing me to take a good, long look at myself—which I really hate to do most of the time, but this weakened state forces me to endure that tiny part of myself that occasionally insists on self-reflection. So I go ahead and ask myself, am I so tied to my image of being a writer that I can’t pass up one opportunity to blog (i.e., blather about ME) in favor of taking better care of myself?

The short answer is clearly NO.

My need to show up for the Blog probably stems from that same part in me that is willing to persist in a business that does its best to reject me at every turn. It’s the same part that keeps me going year after year, the part that shrugs off the “R’ word, the part that gets excited about a new idea, a new contest, a new literary agency, a new trend. It’s the part that studies Publishers Marketplace every day to see what’s hot, what’s new, who’s sold, and it’s the part that keeps me sending my work out and keeps me at my desk, writing and re-writing and brainstorming and yes, blogging.

And I’m not the only one.

So why do we do it? Persistence? Patience? Insanity? All of the above?

It hurts to think about it too deeply right now, but whatever you call it, it’s that thing that keeps us going, keeps us writing, submitting and yes, blogging. Through headaches and rejections, we just keep going…and going…and going…

Hey, my headache’s gone!

Kate Carlisle is a Golden Heart Winner and American Title finalist who writes Romance, Mystery, and Young Adult fiction.

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Message from Mindy Neff

March 18, 2007 by in category From Our Archives, Spotlight, Writing, Writing Conferences tagged as , , ,

July is the time of year that most of us are beginning to get excited, or nervous, about going to the National RWA conference. Some of us are hoping to meet with an editor or agent, some are desperately longing to start a career, others perhaps wanting to change their careers.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the stories we tell ourselves. Not the stories we tell in our books. I’m talking about the stories that are deeply embedded in our subconscience. The voices that whisper that we’re not good enough, or smart enough, or that we have to be perfect, that we can’t look or act foolish, or human, or that we’re shy, that we don’t do well speaking in public, that we became a writer because we’re introverts, and having to pretend to be an extrovert for four whole days is going to shred our insides to bits.

Our stories also tell us that we should never admit to these failings, that we’re the only ones who feel so out of control, or so inadequate, or so inept. According to the book, Becoming Real, Defeating the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back, by Gail Saltz, M.D., every one of these stories is a lie. But until we learn to recognize them and rewrite them we will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. These stories will hold us back by making us afraid to reach out, by convincing us that we’re not deserving, or good enough, or popular enough, or by reminding us that we’re shy and scared out of our minds that someone is going to judge us and find us lacking.

I want each and every one of you to know that you do deserve to have your heart’s desire. You are worthy. You matter. And you are not alone. Do not listen to those self-defeating stories!

It’s easy to get overwhelmed at functions as large as the RWA National Conference. That’s one of the reason’s our OCC conference volunteers, Michelle Thorne and Lana Krevis, have worked so hard to make sure there will be an OCC suite available in Reno where everyone can come to see a familiar face, network, attend parties, or simply retreat to catch your breath.

To kick off the conference in style, we’ll be playing a game of Reno Bingo at the Wednesday night literacy signing. Be sure to pick up a bingo card at the door, then stop and speak to each of our OCC authors and get your bingo card stamped . You shouldn’t have any trouble finding us ,we’ll be the ones with the really cool flower pots and “orange girl” signs in front of us.

After the literacy signing, we’ll be throwing a pizza party in the OCC suite and inviting all of our authors to bring their editors and agents. Everyone is welcome. Come and mingle with friends or make new ones. There will be prize drawings, giveaways, and a really good time! Then, of course, we will be having our Saturday night RITA bash to honor all of our RITA and Golden Heart finalists and winners. Lots of food, drinks and fun. So, whether you want to attend a really cool party, or you just need some down time–or you find yourself at loose ends and don’t want to sit in your room by yourself or cruise the bars looking for your pals, the OCC suite is there for you. Come and help out, or just come and hang out. It’s going to be a blast!


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