About Carol

Being in the Zone, in that sparkling state of focused flow, makes both our writing and our lives better.

I have made my living as a freelance writer for 40 years as an investigative reporter, marketing copywriter, acquisitions and developmental editor, ghostwriter of 30 books including 2 bestsellers, and author of The Soul of Selling, Chasing Grace: A Novel of Odd Redemption, Creativity on Demand: Write in the Zone, and Sell Yourself Without Feeling Pushy, Creepy, or WEIRD!

For me, there has been no more valuable skill than knowing how to call forth the Zone and write from that place at will. Mastering the Zone has made me a happy, productive writer and allowed me to support myself doing what I love.

Everybody can find easy, natural ways to write. I believe that the more of us who are out there writing in the Zone, and the more that people become interested in writing in the Zone, and the better we all write. My hope is that this site and my blog, WRITE IN THE ZONE, become a hub for Zone-y writers.

I have another site that reflects my experience with selling in a way that guarantees top results, serves people, and feeds your soul. Please check it out at www.soulofselling.com.

I live in San Francisco across the street from the ocean with Frankie and Flynnie, two of the biggest, smoochiest orange tabby kitties west of the Mississippi. I feel blessed to have traveled the world and studied meditation and the Vedanta since 1980.

Last year, I published my first novel, Chasing Grace: A Novel of Odd Redemption. Life changed at that point. Some struggle lifted. I felt a deeper, stronger flow of grace and appreciation. All my life, I had wanted to write a novel—and then I did. That’s an experience I want for anyone who has ever dreamed of writing a book.

Thanks for stopping by. Be well, write on, and keep flowing in the Zone!

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

“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