Carol Callicotte

Author

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes! October 4, 2011

I’m ripping up my YA novel and starting over. Well, not completely. The main characters and the main story line (a first love story) will remain intact. At least, that’s the plan for now. The setting, however, is getting a makeover, French Riviera style.

That’s right. France!

The original form of FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES spilled from my pen when I was thirteen. I spent a couple years working on the story, typing it up on my Grandmother’s word processor and printing it out on her dot matrix printer (yikes – that makes me feel old!). It took place at a summer camp, and I’ve never changed that setting.

Over the past couple years, I’ve reworked this story several times, keeping the bones (which were surprisingly good, I have to say) but updating and maturing the story, adding more plot, more tension, more character development. I kept the original setting because it seemed to work – I needed a place where a bunch of teens who didn’t know each other would be together all hours of the day and night for a stretch of time. Still, the summer camp setting never sat well with me. It targets a younger audience; 15 and 16 year olds just don’t tend to go to summer camp. As much as I love the story, I finally had to admit to myself: the setting is getting in the way of selling this book.

Then, it hit me. I love France. I’ve spent a ton of time there. I’ve enrolled in two language immersion programs. The one I did in Antibes had: (ta da!) a program for teens! Teens, spending the summer together with a bunch of strangers, living together in youth hostels, having activities organized for them, and taking French classes together! THIS IS IT! This works! I know this. I can write this. I can have a fantastic time with this.

So Jenni, grab your French/English dictionary, your bikini, and get a passport. You are going to Antibes, France, on the Cote d’Azur, and we’re going to have some fun!

 

 

Progress Update June 12, 2011

Filed under: Books,Projects,Writing,Writing World,Young Adult — A French American Life @ 10:18 am
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I am SO CLOSE to being ready to send my YA novel out on submission! I’ve learned the hard way not to query too early, so it’s possible I’m being overly cautious now. I’m getting excited though. I feel so differently about this book compared to how I felt about my last novel. I enjoyed CHEATER; I love the idea, the characters were so fun to write, and I had a fabulous time creating that world. Yet with CHEATER, as much affection as I still have for it, there was always a nagging doubt in my mind. I thought it was good, but not great. So about a year ago, I put it away. I hope to revisit it someday; maybe then I’ll know how to fix it.

I don’t regret the time I spent on CHEATER one bit. I learned so much about writing, crafting a novel, the publishing world. It gave me the confidence and skill to try again. I tried something completely different (CHEATER was an urban fantasy) and began a love affair with YA. I discovered Jenni, the main character in FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES, and I feel like I could write about her forever. I love being in her head, in her world. And this book has something crucial that CHEATER was missing: Voice. A voice I’m proud of. A character who drives the novel. I’ve found my stride with this book, and I feel like my writing is on the right track.

I’ve updated the Bookshelf page with a synopsis of FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES. Fingers and toes are crossed!

 

 Latest Read:  UNBROKEN by Laura Hillenbrand

Just finished this book. One of the best books I’ve ever read. Ever.

 

Name Change April 27, 2011

I spent yesterday morning writing – a 4 hour block, yay! Thank you, my dear babysitter. I’m working on final edits for my YA novel. I use the word “final” loosely – I imagine there will be more edits in the future. I’m just so excited to be nearly ready to send this out! It’s been far too long. The book required more edits than I’d intended – I saw some areas for improvement and it took much more work than I’d originally anticipated. Plus, morning sickness and having a baby have not been conducive to writing. I’m not complaining, I’m just making excuses for why I’m a year behind on completing this book.

Here was a kicker, though. I decided to Google my main character’s name to make sure there wasn’t a prostitute or serial killer with the same name – something we did before naming our daughter. Well, no one notorious had the same name, but a well known woman out there does share it. Probably not a big deal, but it’s not someone I want my character to share a name with. My character’s prenom, Virginia, actually plays an important role in the story, so I can’t change that. Luckily, though, I wasn’t married to her last name. It’s an easy fix. I love the internet for stuff like this! In fifteen minutes, I realized I needed to change the name, found a website with a number of options for last names, chose one that worked well, and fixed it with a find and replace in my manuscript.

Naming characters is no easy task – which is apparent from the number of books and articles on the topic. With this character, she has always been Virginia, ever since she debuted on the page as a self-conscious, sweet, sometimes snarky teen. I never troubled over her name. Not true for other characters. I name them, rename them, research names, try them on for a while, until I find the right fit.

On that note, naming my daughter was one of the most intimidating and important responsibilities I’ve ever had. Someone told me the other day that the name we chose fits my daughter perfectly. I hope she thinks so.

I also renamed my book. The title is now: FIRST TIMES AND SECOND CHANCES.

 

Finding Time to Write April 1, 2011

Filed under: Books,For Writers,Projects,Reading,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 2:14 pm
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Holy Long Hiatus! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I blogged. I have a good excuse, though. I had a baby.

The good thing (besides my baby) is this: I have been writing.

“If you want something done, give it to a busy (wo)man.” Not sure who said this originally, and I suppose I could google it to find out, but I’m too busy. The point is, this statement is so true: it’s amazing how efficient I’ve become now that I don’t have nearly the time on my hands that I once did. It’s all about making choices: Do I want to zone out on Facebook or do I want to write? Do I want to have a sparkling clean house or do I want to write? Do I want to remove the fungus from between my toes or do I want to write? Okay, maybe that last one is a tougher decision.

I’ve reclaimed an enormous amount of time since cutting myself off (mostly) from the internet; from surfing, checking email, checking Facebook….The truth is, I really don’t care about how Jack Jones’ (the guy I haven’t seen, talked to, or thought about since high school) daughter made honor roll this week, or that Anna Adams is currently getting her nails done. Yet somehow I feel compelled to read about it. And then to look at the photos of Anna’s nails, and wonder how she typed her status update while the aesthetician was painting them.

Seriously. Was there ever a bigger time suck?

The other thing I rarely do? Watch TV. That’s a habit established long ago, when I walked into my then-boyfriend-now-husband’s apartment for the first time and made the shocking discovery that he didn’t own a TV. At first I couldn’t comprehend such a life, then I realized it was pretty interesting. Sexy even.

So now, while my little one naps, I write. Those naps didn’t happen right away, let me tell you. Whoever said newborns sleep for 16 to 20 hours a day was smoking crack and ignoring wails. But now, she’s older, this Type A mom/writer has her on a schedule, and the glorious news is: I’m back!

CURRENTLY READING: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I had the opportunity to meet this talented debutante writer. What a lovely woman. Thank you, Eleanor, for inspiring me to renew my focus on my writing. Thank you, too, for writing such a fantastic book!

 

Word Count Blues August 19, 2010

Filed under: Books,For Writers,Projects,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 9:42 am
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I write long. Too long. My word counts tend to end up on the high end, or overshoot, the genre I’m writing for. Then I struggle to cut scenes and kill my darlings. Ugh.

I’m all for economy and for avoiding repetition, believe it or not. I love a tightly written short story or book. But not too spare. I like an occasional deviation or aside. After all – some of literature’s greatest insights come from these.

After walking away for a short bit, I’m able to return and see more clearly what could be cut, or scenes that could be combined and shortened. It’s a weight off my shoulders to see the path towards tightening my story, and inevitably it makes my book better. But it’s not without pain that it must be done!

And now, before I blather more words on this topic, back to my book!

 

Writing For Young Adults November 16, 2009

Filed under: For Writers,Projects,Writing,Young Adult — A French American Life @ 10:53 am
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I’m still plugging away at my Y.A. novel. The working title is SECOND CHANCE. I began this story when I was about 13 years old, and while that version is a far cry from publishable, the bones of the story still work. My favorite part is the voice – it is without a doubt a teenage girl. I’ve found it frighteningly easy to plunge back into that voice and that world. It obviously helps that I’ve kept a journal since I was 8 years old, and that I started version 1 of SECOND CHANCE when I was 13.

One of the great things about Y.A. is that everything is fresh and new. There are so many firsts: first love, first handholding, first kiss, first rebellion, first betrayal, and so on. Teenagers are filled with such passion, be it angst or excitement, and with such hope at the possibilities their lives contain. What an exciting time to be able to write about! And an intense time, too. Teenagers love to shrug and say “whatever” but the truth is – there’s no such thing as “whatever” for a teenager (even if this “whatever” comes in reaction to a parent’s aggravation – don’t be fooled, in all likelihood, that teen does care). Everything really does matter. Be it the smile from the object of a crush, or the D on the history exam, it all matters.

SECOND CHANCE is light years away from CHEATER, but I’m loving it. Telling Jenni (don’t you dare call her Virginia) Thomas’s story of her first time away from home and her first love is a wonderful escape. And I, like the teenager I’m writing about, am filled with hope that others will love Jenni as much as I do!

 

Making My Way Back October 9, 2009

Filed under: Completely Off Topic,Crap,Projects,Travel,Writing — A French American Life @ 3:29 pm
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September was a busy month. We took a fabulous trip: Paris for a few days, then Greece, including a week-long sailboat trip through some of the Greek isles (read: not a cruise, but actual sailing. Two very different things!). As always happens when I return from vacation, I came back charged and ready to launch back into my writing projects. My vacation high didn’t last long; I returned to find that things at my PT clinic have been completely turned upside down, with the unfortunate result of my job becoming a hell of a lot harder. Ugh – insta-downer. And insta-buzz kill for my writing, too.

PT has been a struggle for me ever since I started in the field. There are many things about it that I do enjoy, but lots of things I don’t. Off and on over the years I’ve explored other possibilities, always with a bit of desperation to get out of the PT field. The recent changes plunged me right back into that place of questioning what on earth do I want to do with my life? The one thing that I keep coming back to is that PT gives me the opportunity to work part time so that I have time to write. And this is invaluable to me. Because while other passions and interests may ignite and slowly die for me, writing is a constant. No matter what else I may do, writing is essential to my existence.

Since this bombshell dropped at work, I’ve found that the only moments of peace have been when I’m writing; delving into the worlds I create. Well that, and eating chocolate with my amazing husband, who, no matter how freaked out about things I get, is always holding my hand and telling me he’ll support me no matter what I decide to do. And encouraging me to get writing, because he thinks I’m good at it. Which reminds me how lucky I am. So, today, I’m back to throwing myself heart and soul into my latest book. It feels good to be back. And it helps me cope with the struggles at my job, and even has me optimistic enough to admit that sometimes, change can be good. But one thing won’t change: I am, have been, and always will be, a writer.