Carol Callicotte


Update on First Times and Second Chances March 9, 2018

Filed under: Books,Writing,Young Adult — A French American Life @ 3:30 pm
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Major reconstruction: completed.

First Times and Second Chances began as a novel about a fifteen–year-old girl who goes to a summer camp. I first wrote it when I was 14 or 15. It was, in some ways, my fantasy of a summer of freedom and a gorgeous boy who found me irresistible. The camp I created was devoid of structure or adult supervision and was completely unrealistic. Still the bones were good.

About nine years ago I began rewriting it as an adventure camp for teens: more structure, more realistic – but still, it didn’t work. The setting was too … blah. The execution too… pedestrian.

Seven years ago I had an epiphany: I love France. I know France. I speak French. I have a unique skill set and the experience of attending not one but two French immersion programs in France. Why not change the setting? Et voila, I decided to send Jenni to Antibes.

Thus began a third major overhaul of this book. One that involved killing so many darlings. Beloved characters – excised. Plot developments, dialogue exchanges, and scenes I once was once married to ending in divorce. I tore apart my book. Scene by scene. Paragraph by paragraph. Word by word. The essence and the main plot line remained, but everything else was reborn as something new.

I’ve been buried in my latest draft since September, when I committed to writing at least an hour each day. I threw myself, heart and soul, into finding Jenni’s story. I needed it, too. These last few years, I’ve desperately needed an escape; a beach read that allowed me to escape reality.

I wrote. I rewrote. I analyzed on a macro-level: Does each scene move the plot forward? Does my main character change? Does she have a goal in each scene? Does the tension rise? Does it all make sense? I analyzed on a micro-level: searching for words and phrases I tend to use as crutches or that might be my own idiosyncrasies that would annoy my readers.

And now – I have a book. A book I’m excited about. A book an agent might be (fingers and toes crossed) excited about.

Next steps: Probably another revision – hopefully not a huge one. Then – let the agent search begin!



To NaNoWriMo or to not NaNoWriMo October 29, 2013

Filed under: Goals,Projects — A French American Life @ 11:41 am
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Should I or shouldn’t I? I’m balking at the idea, I’m excited about the idea. I’ve managed to carve out one evening a week that I dedicate to writing, and it’s been a fabulous evening. I’ve struggled for so long to find this time – two new additions to the family (Thing One and Thing Two), a move from California to Colorado, a new blog, and my fiction has been moved to a far back burner. It’s simmering there, I can smell it, almost taste it, yet I can’t seem to find the time to give it the attention it deserves.

My once a week sessions have focused mainly on revising my YA novel, which I still have high hopes for and am enjoying working on. But there’s this other IDEA that’s been banging around in my head for a few years now, and I haven’t had a chance to open up that IDEA and let it flow onto the page. Could NaNoWriMo be the answer? I’ve never attempted National November Writing Month before, and I think I might be  crazy to try it now, a few weeks after a move, in addition to caring for my two little ones while my husband puts in lots of extra hours at his new job. Or maybe I should grab the opportunity while I’m feeling motivated to really step up my writing.

I have two days to decide.




Still at it… trying… April 25, 2013

Filed under: For Writers,Goals,Projects,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 1:32 pm
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All writers, at one time or another, go through a slump. I’m in one of those with my fiction. It’s partly due to the challenge of finding time to write while caring for two young kids. It’s partly that I feel disheartened. It’s partly that I’ve got other irons in the fire, too. But I am still writing. Sometimes it’s only a page a week. But that counts, too. This too shall pass, I tell myself. I will find my passion for writing again. For now, I read, I blog on my other site, I try. Mostly, I try to not flog myself for not having accomplished more with my writing. This last one is my biggest challenge.


Goal Setting December 29, 2011

Filed under: For Writers,Goals,Projects,Writing,Writing World — A French American Life @ 10:29 am
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Tis the season… for goal setting! I know there are people out there who find goal setting to be a repression of creativity blah blah blah. I’m not one of those people. I need direction in order to tap into my creative soul.

I’ve written before about the importance of goals yet somehow I’ve gotten away from setting them for myself in my writing. I’ve felt the effect: lack of direction, lack of motivation, frustration, even depression over where I am in my writing career. Of course, my main objective remains the same: write a novel that can be published. But somehow, over the last few months, I forgot to set smaller, attainable goals.

I’m realizing that, in order to keep things fresh, my goals have to change shape. After all, my life has changed dramatically, so shouldn’t my writing goals reflect that? I’ve gone from being single and working two jobs to make ends meet to being married, having a child, and working part time while trying to write during nap times. Late nights and long writing marathons are no longer an option – I’m too busy and tired! I used to think the only way to tap into my creativity was via long, uninterrupted blocks of time. Luckily, this isn’t true.

This time, I’m setting page number goals. If I’ve done that before, it’s been a long time. Given my life as it is today, I think this should work.

Happy New Year to everyone!


Speed Bumps November 30, 2011

Serious obstacles in my way these days. Rewriting this novel is turning out to be a much bigger project than I anticipated. I keep encountering speed bumps. I’ll be rolling along just fine then suddenly, something is in the way, I slow down to a crawl, try to ease my way forward, feel it out, but then I get stuck, sometimes even bottoming out, and it is taking me forever plus a sizable self-induced kick in the rear to get going again. Ugh. So frustrating.

I’ll take a cue from a classic I’ve been reading to my daughter: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…


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.