CHASING GRACE — Until It Caught Me

Chasing Grace just won 1st Place for Popular Fiction in the 2011 eLit Awards!

Do you have a book inside you that is the dream of your heart? This novel is mine.

I had wanted to write a novel ever since the rainy afternoon back in grade school when I finished Black Beauty and burst into tears.  A couple years ago, I passed a mirror and noticed that I was no longer twenty—or even thirty or forty! I put everything else on hold, lived off savings, and wrote Chasing Grace: A Novel of Odd Redemption.

It was heaven. It was agonizing and confusing. It was worth tens of thousands of dollars in therapy.

UPSIDE DOWN IN THE ZONE
I came at that book up, down, around, and through. I began by reading a book about the dramatic “arc” and structure–and realized that everything I’d written was all wrong. I lined my living room walls with butcher paper and created a color-coded post-it for each scene. I nearly went blind. My brain started to scramble. One night my kitties discovered their colorful new toy and had their way with the post-its. I tore it all down and relied solely on instinct, simply writing the next bit I would want to read if I weren’t the author.

Gradually, I found the Zone and the writing began to flow. It felt as if I were watching a movie and just transcribing what I saw on the screen. I settled into a rhythm, a writing Zone that contained elements of everything I’d learned but was unique to me and to Chasing Grace. I let the book take over and be what it wanted to be.

LESSONS LEARNED
Writing Chasing Grace taught me many things, including:

  • It was invaluable to work with a buddy, someone with whom I exchanged writing every Sunday morning. Thank you, M!
  • I had to go through the phases of being overly organized, underly organized, systematic, and inspired—and I couldn’t push or control how that unfolded.
  • I followed Anne Lamott’s advice in Bird by Bird about writing “shitty first drafts.”

HEAVEN ON A PAGE
Publishing Chasing Grace changed my center of gravity in life. When people tell me they read it in one sitting, or that they loved it so much they wrote their first Amazon review, something happens inside me that is different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I realize that I’ve done something that was mine to do, and that feels very good.

I think we all have something that is ours to do. It’s the thing we dream about, the thing we keep wanting year after year, the thing that may seem just out of reach. My wish for everyone is to step up, begin now, hold your seat through the discomfort and the thrills, and keep going until you hold that book in your hand.

CHASING GRACE IS ABOUT…
This novel is a raw, humorous look at spiritual coming of age, at unconventional ways to heal deep emotional wounds, and at finding greater purpose in surprising places despite desperate odds.

Cathy Callahan runs away at age ten to escape her mother’s abuse and find God, whom she first met at a Chicago public park when she was six. The next thirty years are a series of funny, brutal, and uplifting adventures that pit her humor and strength against the rage and confusion that make her reckless, desperate, and blind to gray areas.

Cathy searches for love, healing, and wholeness in all the wrong places from Chicago’s North Side, to Montana, to Reno, to San Francisco. In the Catholic Church’s byzantine system of salvation and ruler-wielding nuns. In a bakery/brothel run by Mollie, the brassy older woman who “adopts” her. In a good-looking, half-naked guru hawking “I AM Oneness.” With Spirit in the High Rockies and marriage to a sexy, dangerous cowboy. In too much Scotch.

She finally stops running and retraces her steps to Chicago, where she faces her demons and finds unexpected grace in the last place she thinks to look.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT CHASING GRACE
“Fine writing, eclectic characters and a gutsy, funny narrator make this fast-paced spiritual coming of age novel a joy to read. This is a page-turner, and proves you don’t need years of therapy or a Himalayan cave to find grace and happiness–even when you are up against huge challenges. A special treat for Catholics–both recovering and practicing.”   –Adair Lara, Naked, Drunk, and Writing, writing coach

“Carol Costello’s acclaimed writing skills emerge razor-sharp in this gripping story of a young woman’s struggle with good and evil. Cathy’s journey is peppered with vivid, oddball characters, leavened with biting humor, and driven by courage and spunk that overcome abuse, alcoholism, bad luck, and flat out evil.”    –Ruth Chambers, The Chinaberry Album and other novels

Chasing Grace is quality fiction that grabs you with its humor and its gritty little narrator. Cathy will do anything to find the one thing she wants in life–a connection with the divine that makes her feel whole, healed, happy, and ‘real.’ She chases grace for 30 years and 2,000 miles until finally it catches her.”   –Carolyn Ingram, Ed.D., PCC, Licensed psychologist, author and poet

 

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