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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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Writer on the Verge

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

By Kate Carlisle

That’s me, on the verge. But really…on the verge of what? Stardom? Publication? A nervous breakdown??

Hey, and what is a verge, anyway? Like some kind of cliff, I think. The edge. The brink. The limit. Land’s end. Ah, it might be fun to just relax and jump.

But wait! It might hurt! Maybe I need to be talked off the ledge. Help!

Yeah, good luck with that. I’m here to tell you, you can try begging for help off the ledge, but your friends, the real friends, the people who nag you and worry for you and laugh and talk and share your pain are yelling “jump!”

What’s up with that?

It’s scary here on the verge! You just want to step away, maybe go take a nap. But they won’t let you! No, they want you to enter another contest, query another agent, stop screwing around and get serious about your work.

And if you try to sneak away? Ha, they band together and refuse to let you pass. They operate in packs, they form tag teams, they nudge you closer to the verge, whisper sweet words of encouragement, coax and coo and smile and cajole you into believing that you’ll be happier if you jump. They insist the plunge itself only lasts a few seconds and you’ll suddenly find yourself in a new and better place. A lovely place that finds you closer to a contest win, the end of your book, your dream agent, your first sale, the bestseller list.

And then? Well, then you’re on the verge of something else! Yeah, somewhere along the road you realize that with every step you take, you find yourself at the edge of another cliff.

So what do you do? Take a nap? No, those people, those friends, they won’t let you! Really, they are a bunch of nags! Nope, there’s only one thing you can do when you find yourself on the verge.


Kate Carlisle is a Golden Heart winner and American Title finalist who writes romance, mystery and Young Adult fiction.

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