Carol Callicotte

Author

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!

 

Conferencing March 16, 2010

I’ve been to two conferences in the last couple months: The San Diego State University Writer’s Conference, and then my fourth (!) year at the Southern California Writer’s Conference here in San Diego. I guess this makes me a conference junkie.

Going to conferences is great, regardless of where you are as a writer. Contemplating exercising that right brain in this particular creative endeavor? There’s plenty of inspiration for newbies. A draft or partial draft in and unsure what on earth you’ve gotten yourself into? Seminars on every aspect of story creation or editing can be found at most any conference. Curious about the business side? Plenty of information to be found. Have a clean, edited final manuscript? Here’s a great place to connect with agents and editors.

The thing I’ve loved most, however, about going to conferences is the people I meet and the inspiration I take away. I always leave with a few new friends (and potential critique partners) and with a renewed sense of purpose. This year was no different.

I haven’t ventured out of San Diego yet for a conference; any suggestions out there on good ones you’ve been to?

CURRENTLY READING: THE LITTLE BOOK by Selden Edwards

Confession: I hate time travel stories. I get stuck every time on the whole grandfather clause thing; plus the butterfly effect. But two things have snuck in under my radar. The TV show Lost. I loved it from the get go, and then they started the whole time travel storyline, but I was already hooked. And then, this not so little book. I knew it was time travel and hesitated to buy it, but I heard the author speak at the SCWC and he was so charming that I had to give his book a try. SO GLAD I did – I’m loving it so far. A caveat: both of these time travel stories contend that whatever happened, happened, so the outcomes can’t be changed. That’s time travel I can live with.

 

Leaving a Book Unfinished June 26, 2009

Filed under: Books,fantasy,Reading — A French American Life @ 3:08 pm
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It’s been a good week. It’s amazing what I can accomplish when I cut myself off from the internet. But here’s what I want to talk about: putting books down. Do you do it? Up until now, I haven’t been able to. Once I start a book, I can’t not finish it. It’s a compulsive habit, I know. And more than once I’ve dragged my feet through a novel just in order to finish it. I don’t know why – part of me wonders what I might miss out on, I suppose, and part of me doesn’t want to leave something unfinished, loose threads and all. But I’ve come to the enlightened conclusion that there are far too many great books out there for me to waste my precious time with the ones that just aren’t speaking to me.

So I have a new rule. It’s a 100 page rule – which is still quite generous, I think. If, after 100 pages, I still don’t care about the characters, or the writing grates on me, or (choose your demon), I will put that book down and leave it unfinished.

I’ve tried it once already, and wow, was it liberating!

How about you? What do you do when you don’t like a book? Finish it anyway? Throw it across the room? Use it for kindling? Toilet paper?

GoodOmens-Hard-2006 Currently Reading: I’ve actually nearly finished GOOD OMENS, which is absolutely not a book I would throw across the room or sacrifice to any vile purpose. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett together, writing about the apocalypse – what more could a girl ask for?

 

Five Questions You Must Ask Yourself May 2, 2009

Filed under: Books,For Writers,Reading,Writing — A French American Life @ 10:46 am
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Writer’s Digest puts out an online magazine that I get via email. A recent magazine had an article that listed five questions you, as a writer, must answer in order to succeed:

1. Who are your favorite authors and why?

2. What do they do that grabs your attention and keeps you turning pages?

3. What keeps you coming back to your favorite genres?

4. What compels you to write fiction/ memoir/ poetry?

5. How will you make sure that your own work grabs and keeps your readers’ attention every bit as well as your own favorites capture you?

At first glance, it seems easy enough. Any time reading or writing comes up in conversation, I light up and babble away. Storytelling and stories are easily my favorite subjects. But now I’ve found myself really pondering these questions; trying to dig deeper. The article emphasizes that we writers should answer these questions with relish and in great detail. So, writers, have at it.

 

I Can’t Believe I Didn’t March 6, 2009

Filed under: Funny stuff,Reading,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 3:52 pm
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I just went to a bookstore and get this: I did not buy a book for myself. That almost never happens. My focus was to buy some baby books for my girlfriend’s shower gift – I’m a writer, so gifts from me tend to be books. They don’t get the ahhing and cooing that tiny little socks and onesies do, but to me – they are the best, most important gift I can give. Anyway, I actually bought only what I went in there to buy! I suppose the fact that: 1. I have a huge backlog of books piled in my room and I’m trying not to buy more books until I read through those stacks and 2. I really had to pee and there was no restroom in sight, might have been why I didn’t spend more time under the extreme temptation of shelves stocked with stories and then eventually succumb to the need to know what a particular cover holds inside, but really, folks, this is a historic (an historic) event. Carol Callicotte browsed through a bookstore without buying herself a book.

Currently Reading: Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. I’ve never read a graphic novel before, but my husband insisted I read this one before we see the movie. All I can say is – wow. It’s good.

 

Biohazard, Coming Through! February 23, 2009

Filed under: Crap,Funny stuff,Reading,Self deprecating humor — A French American Life @ 11:42 am
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I’ve been on a book buying binge – I can’t seem to walk into a bookstore or browse Amazon without ordering a book or two (or three…). Hence, my pile of now 50+ books that I am determined to read this year. I tend to buy them new – I like to make sure the author gets their deserved percentage. But I have another reason as well – I’m a bit of a germaphobe. Recently, I decided to order a used paperback, just to save some money (it was one I’d already bought, read, and donated to the library, and when I couldn’t find it at the library, I hated to pay full price again). The book arrived this weekend looking… weathered. And my first thought was – did someone read this while they were sitting on the toilet?

Am I the only one with this phobia? Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where George is in the bookstore and decides to take a book into the bathroom with him? Where has this paperback been, I wonder? Having a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, I know that any microbial life forms that got on there would be dead by now, but still. I just look at that poor little paperback and think…eww.

 

Southern California Writers’ Conference February 12, 2009

It’s this weekend! I’m very excited – it looks like there will be some good seminars offered. And, I get to see my online writing buddies again! This will be my third time at the conference, and I’m hoping for the same sort of inspiring, light-a-fire-under-my-arse sort of motivation that I’ve gotten from the first two. What better way to spend a weekend than studying the craft I love, and being with people who share my passion?

Currently Reading: SON OF A WITCH by Gregory Maguire. I really love this author. He creates richly textured worlds, and his characters are all flawed, complicated, and intriguing.

 

Best Books I’ve Read This Year – So Far November 21, 2008

Filed under: Books,Reading — A French American Life @ 4:12 pm
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I may have a huge stack of books in my to-read pile, but it’s not because I haven’t been reading.  Oh, wow, do I love to read – typically a book or two a week. It’s amazing what one can accomplish without cable.  I’ve picked three favorites. They are quite different in genre and tone, but all of them kept me up late at night, made me ignore the phone, and had me walking around the house while reading, addicted to the pages and dying to know what would happen next. I’m not going to do a book review on each of them because, well, it’s Friday. But here they are, in no particular order. I highly recommend each of them, and if you do read them, come back and let me know what you think!

book-thief-photo1

I loved this book.  An original twist on WWII – narrated from the perspective of Death.  The characters are strongly drawn, their relationships and interactions rang true, and the setting was intense and believable. I was immediately swept up by the story.  It’s a book I hated to finish.

rachels-holiday-photo

I don’t read much chick lit, but I will definitely read more from Marian Keyes.  She handles the obviously touchy subject of addiction with humor and poignancy, allowing us to see the world through an addict’s eyes.  It was a tad long – too many scenes that seemed to cover the same basics, but I still could not put the book down.

anansi-boys-photo

LOVED this book. Fat Charlie, Spider, and Mr. Nancy take us on a wild ride through a world where gods walk among us, and may very well be singing on a karyoke stage somewhere nearby. The story works on themes similar to those in AMERICAN GODS, but with a more playful tone. Neil Gaiman has quickly become one of my favorites. He’s absolutely brilliant.

 

My To Read Stacks November 19, 2008

Filed under: Reading — A French American Life @ 11:05 am
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Whenever someone finds out that I’m a writer and an avid reader, they inevitably recommend a book that I “must” read, or start loaning me books they’ve enjoyed. Add to that my own tendency to go on book buying binges, and you get this:

to-read-pile

There are about thirty books piled on my dresser, and another thirty at least on the bookshelves in our house, all waiting patiently for me to cozy up with them. I’m not complaining, really. I’m just hoping to make a dent in the pile before Christmas, if only so I can actually dust my dresser one of these days.

Here’s a brief sampling of what awaits me:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield This one looked so cool.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Yeah, I still haven’t read it.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay by Michael Chabon I bought this two years ago and still haven’t read it, even though I have a feeling I’m going to love it.

Harry Potter et la Chambre des Secrets by J.K. Rowling Working my way through the french version of this one – it’s helping my french, but I really get thrown off by the French translations for “wand”, “spell”, etc. As an aside, Hogwarts is “Poudlard.”

AA Gill is Away by AA Gill I’ve read the intro to this and am very excited about it – this guy’s writing is sharp. This one is on loan – so it’s been pushed to the top of the pile.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon Another one that looked like a good read.

Truman by David McCullough So I can appear more intelligent.

 

Banned Books Week September 30, 2008

Filed under: Censorship,Reading — A French American Life @ 3:45 pm
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Time Magazine posted an article on the top 10 banned books of all time, here.

Very interesting. I’ve only read 4 of the 10, and 2 of the others are sitting on my dresser in my to-be-read pile. I’ve got some work to do. I’m halfway through Bridge to Terabithia, which did not make Time’s list, but is a frequently challenged book. As I mentioned before, I loved this story as a child and have wanted to reread it for years. I’ve been swept away by the evocative language and strongly drawn characters.

So far, I’ve found nothing objectionable about the book. But whether or not a reader finds something offensive is not the issue. The issue here is censorship and first amendment rights, not whether or not something prods our horrified-gasp reflex. Please, offend me, challenge me, force me to think, but for the love of liberty and individuality, don’t ever expect me to stand by quietly while a government decides what I should be exposed to, what I have a right to read, hear, or say.

And why are more people not outraged at the prospect of having a Vice President who does not understand this fundamental building block of the United States of America?