Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Featured Author: Colleen McCarty

CLP Blog Tours brings Colleen McCarty here today with a guest post inspiration for writing and an excerpt from her book, Mounting the Whale.

About the book:

"Cartel got me, tell mom."

The siblings, drowning in their own problems, are forced to focus on the task at hand: a half-cocked rescue mission that involves a borrowed yacht, a favor from a notorious drug kingpin, and a shocking reunion none of them expected.

When the family decides to sneak into Mexico, mother Cybil is forced to deal with a rival CEO whom she's developed feelings for in secret. Her only son, Tom, is willing to risk bodily harm to save Janine while his other sisters, Carlyle and Valerie, suspect that the kidnapping is less than legitimate.

The long sea voyage tests the limits of the family's already frail bonds. Dark secrets of infertility, drugs, gambling and extreme taxidermy begin to float to the surface. But nothing compares to what they begin to learn about their missing sister. 

If they're going to make it out alive, they have to recognize they're fighting the same battles and facing life's greatest challenges: love, loneliness, and the struggle to find a place in the world.

Amidst all the chaos, the Pierce family is brought face-to-face with the ugliness of Janine's addictions, the truth about their mother's fortune and the most terrifying question of all: Can you really save someone who doesn't want to be saved?

Guest Post by Colleen McCarty

Did Someone Else Write This? On Muses and Ghosts

I can't tell you how many times I've sat down at the computer, ready to continue my hot streak, when something catches my eye. I scroll up and begin to read what I'd written mere hours--at most, a few days--before.

What is this? I think to myself. I read on. Pieces of it begin to sound familiar, and yet entire paragraphs are wholly unrecognizable. I know I'm the only one who's used this computer. I know no one else sat down here since the last time I was here. And yet--it's strange.

Sometimes the unrecognized passages are terrific. Sometimes not so much. And I have to wonder--did someone else write this? The answer is yes and no.

The phenomenon I am referring to is known by many names. Some writers call it "the muse." Others, "inspiration."  Someone once asked Somerset Maughham if he wrote on a schedule or only when inspiration struck. "I write only when inspiration strikes," he replied. "Fortunately it strikes every morning at nine o'clock sharp.”

I call this mystery my subconscious, because that is, in fact, what it is. The subconscious is a weird, wild place. It's where your dreams, your creativity, your real motivations lie. Ever wake from a dream and think, "wow, I am one twisted weirdo!" Well, you're not alone and your subconscious is the culprit.

I believe we are all great artists. Great art exists in your subconscious. Carl Jung believed that humans have a shared consciousness--a collection of shared stories and memories that we are all inherently born with. When we tap into the subconscious, we are speaking to those memories. In turn, those memories can speak to our readers on a deeper level.

But we cannot live our lives in our subconscious. We we would be ruled by emotions--lust, rage, unending sorrow--we would be unable to escape them. We would have no inhibitions. It would be chaos. Thus, your conscious mind serves a very important role. But for many writers, your conscious mind can be your undoing. Our conscious minds are where doubt lives. Our internal editors, our critics, our self-hatred...all the things that speak to you when you're staring down the blank page. The things that keep you from tapping into your greatness.

Let's use an analogy. It's like drilling for oil (I'm from Oklahoma, so this is familiar territory. Bear with me...) -- in some places in the earth, you have to drill very deep--past the crust, the mud, the rocks, the air pockets-- before you reach the oil. In other places, you just have to drill a few feet before you strike the vein. People are like this too. Some of us have to drill through quite a bit of mud before we get to the oil. Others of us wear it quite close to the surface. It depends on your personality, your temperament, what you've been through, and how in touch with your emotions you are.

My hope is that when you sit down, and you read what you've written, you catch a glimpse of the ghost of yourself. If you don't, chances are you're not tapping your true potential as a writer. If you painstakingly choose every word so that it's burned into your memory, you're not doing it right. Some passages will be painstaking, but the majority of your writing should be fluid, transitional, easy.

We are all great writers, underneath all that mud.

Excerpt from Mounting the Whale

Carlyle felt the phone buzzing at her side, but her gaze was focused on the digital image inside the framed box on the back of the large panning camera. Even though Cybil was standing on the stage only fifteen feet away, Carlyle was more concerned with how her image was being displayed than with what was actually occurring in front of her.

“The most important thing to remember is that you’ve got to go all in,” Cybil was saying. “When I was sitting at the table at the World Series of Poker, I suddenly saw how all the parts of the game relate to business. If you’re on the fence about starting your own company, or you’re on the fence about hiring people, or even if you’re on the fence about falling in love, remember these three words: Go. All. In.” Good one, Mom, Carlyle thought. Her mother certainly knew just when to insert emphatic pauses so the audience hung on her every word.

Cybil was trim and professional and her voice was sure. She had been on stage for years promoting Naturebar, so she was a pro at public speaking. When she decided to launch her personal brand of entrepreneurial self-help, she used her platform as a successful female CEO to springboard herself into the market. Though there had been repeated national marketing efforts, her books really only took off in and around Omaha, where a healthy hometown hero complex made her feel as if her success was global.

The same old catchphrases were being thrown around—“You are your own shareholder” and “Don’t lose sight of the end goal—soulful sales!”—peppered with snippets from the new book: “If you don’t believe you have a winning hand, you’ve already lost” and “Your poker face is only as good as your bluff.”

The crowd erupted in applause as the host of the show, a bubbly woman with hair the texture of cotton candy, beamed a smile back at them.

The set gleamed with staged precision. The green screen read, “Good Morning, Omaha.”

“Isn’t she wonderful? We’re so lucky to have the CEO of Naturebar right here in our little nook of the world. We’re going to take a break now, but when we come back we’ll find out what wonderful surprises Cybil has in store for our studio audience!”

The cameraman counted down and the image on his screen revealed the now overly-ordinary looking couch in front of a green screen. Carlyle looked down at her phone for the first time. What felt like a balloon inflating in her stomach was what she vaguely recognized as hope. She had hoped that the gentle buzzing was Ethan, and said hope was blooming rapidly.

Her little hope-balloon popped violently when she saw the message.

Cartel got me. Tell Mom.

About the author:

Colleen McCarty is a graduate of the University of Tulsa and an entrepreneur. She and her husband own Tulsa restaurant Mod's Coffee and Crepes. She's been featured on Entrepreneur.com, and in the Wall Street Journal. This is her first novel. Though Colleen has ghostwritten books for CEOs and New York Times Bestsellers, this is her first foray into publishing her own work. Colleen lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, daughter and two large dogs. Follow her writing at colleen-mccarty.com.

Connect with Colleen:
Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads| Book trailer

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