Carol Callicotte

Author

I Finished My Book! July 23, 2018

Filed under: Books,Goals,Projects,Writing,Young Adult — A French American Life @ 6:57 pm
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Yep. I really did.

Well, as finished as it can be for now.

Turns out the “butt in the chair” method actually works. Writing an hour (at least) every day. Making it a priority. Duh. I knew that, but I wasn’t doing that. Until this last year.

And I finished my book. I lost count of the number of drafts between major and minor revisions and slashing 25,000 words. Yes, that many. Apparently I’m wordy.

It’s the second book I’ve completed. The umpteenth I’ve began.

The best part: I’m really proud of it. Really, really proud. I had a great time writing it and I’m excited to share it with people. The feedback I’ve gotten, and not just from my mom, is really encouraging.

So I’m on to the next step: Querying agents. It’s a daunting process full of rejection, but I’m trying.

And I’m starting a new book, too. Totally different one, but same genre: Young Adult.

Fingers crossed.

 

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.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

Update February 4, 2009

Filed under: Goals,Projects,Writing — A French American Life @ 11:16 am
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I’m nearing completion of the rough draft of my YA novel, tentatively titled ANNA AND WILLIAM. It’s Rough with a capital “R.” When I look back over what I’ve written, I realize most of it is not as bad as I think it is, and some of it is much worse. It’s a far cry from what I envision it being one day. That’s why it’s a rough draft, I suppose. (See my previous entry titled “A Writer’s Prayer.” I’m saying it right now.)

I wrote this one, so far, straight through, which is new for me. I tend to write several sequential scenes, then realize something before needs to be fixed or changed, so I go back and do that, then move forward a bit, go back and repave some things, move forward, then eventually I’ll start jumping around when an out of sequence scene pops into my head. I didn’t let myself go back and rewrite this time, nor jump forward. Instead I left myself notes when thoughts or ideas came up.

I don’t know that I’ll use this approach again. It pushed me toward a completed rough draft, but I fear it may have stifled my creativity somewhat when a scene popped into my head and I only outlined it instead of fleshing it out. But, this is a year of experimentation and trying to find what works best for me.

I anticipate being finished with this rough draft by the end of next week or so. I’ll then let it sit and work on a new project. I’ve got a few potentials, and I’m excited about 2 or 3 of them, and ready for something different! Placing myself in the mind of a teenager these last few months has resulted in teenage angst creeping into my dreams and has drawn me back into the world of high school drama. Didn’t anticipate reliving that!

 

Productive Days August 19, 2008

Filed under: Projects,Writing — A French American Life @ 4:52 pm
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I am flying along with my current work-in-progress, averaging about six pages a day (around 1500 words).  It’s a “skeleton” – a very rough draft – but I’m thrilled with the progress.  It’s been a while since I’ve felt this inspired.  Though writing YA has a consequence I did not expect – all this thinking about high school has brought on night after night of dreams that I’m back in my teenage years, walking those dimly lit high school halls, suffering through thousands of long forgotten insecurities, and often forgetting to do my homework (the latter was not part of my real high school experience!  I was a good little girl).

Writing regularly again has been like Draino for my creative process.  The pipes are now unclogged, and I’m being bombarded by cool ideas that I want to pursue.  One that I’m particularly excited about is another urban fantasy/paranormal sort of theme.  And lots of others are just fun to think about.

 

Young Love August 8, 2008

Filed under: Projects,Writing — A French American Life @ 1:13 pm
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I’ve started work on a new story that I’m pretty excited about.  My mind and pen have been wandering aimlessly for a while now – I’ve spent months mulling over ideas and then rejecting them because they don’t feel “right.”  This new one is something that was actually inspired by a dream.  It’s not an urban fantasy/paranormal – like CHEATER or a few of the short stories I’ve done lately.  But, we’ve had the most AMAZING week getting to know each other, and, I’ll admit it, I’ve fallen in love.  (See my previous post where there is a link to another writer’s blog on how writing a book is like falling in love.)  It’s a YA story, a romance.  So a warning to my young friends out there (and your parents) – I may need some test readers in the next few months!