The Next Big Thing-Carbone Style

A week ago I got a request from Jan Kozlowski, a long time friend and old NECon roommate, asking me to participate in The Next Big Thing, a revolving blog.  In short, you answer some interview questions and at the end, tag five other writers who will write their blog the next week, and so on. I’m not sure how many revolutions it’s made but it’s been hard to find five people who haven’t been tagged. It showed me how small our community is. I have three to promote formally who will blog next week. Hopefully they can find five for their assignment and post on Dec 5th.

1) What is the title of your next book/work? My working title is My Name is Marnie, but that could change.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work? I started this for last year’s NANOWRIMO competition. I didn’t get very far into it so continued this year. I didn’t have an idea in mind so made a brainstorming sheet and dug out my Writer’s Toolbox to spark some sensory images.

3) What genre does your book/work fall under? Paranormal mystery.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?  Claire Danes would make a great lead for Marnie, who spends most of the book hauntingly confused.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A young pregnant widow flees to a cottage in an unfamiliar town to clear her head, only to be greeted by the spirit of a sad little girl who pulls her into a tragic forgotten past.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Neither. It will be published by a new small publisher out of California, Shadowridge Press.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?It’s still in process but should be done in a few days. Including last year’s failed attempt, all told it will be about 45 days start to finish for the VERY rough first draft.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? A Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie is the closest one that come to mind.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? I can’t think of a specific event. There were just a lot of ideas in my head that came together for this story. I didn’t have a true outline, though halfway through I made a Word Table to help me figure out the mystery. Even as I roll into the end though, I’m not sure what will happen. I didn’t write this book, the characters did.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest? It’s a haunting tale of a widow on the edge of madness, in a small cottage in winter, but it’s also a story about recovery and working through a horrific and forgotten childhood. It’s about sisterhood, facing demons, and learning to be strong.

And now for my three tagged friends: 

ROB WATTS  is an author and custom stainless steel designer. His recent book and soundtrack CD “CRABAPPLES” (Ocean View Press) was released in November of 2012 and is volume two in a four-volume suspense series called “The Crooked Roads through Cedar Grove.” He currently works and resides in Boston, MA.

JOHN GROVER is a fiction author specializing in horror, fantasy and sci-fi residing in Massachusetts. He completed a creative writing course at Boston’s Fisher College and is a member of the New England Horror Writers Association. He is also an amateur photograph, cook, gardener, music lover, animal lover and blogger. He is endlessly curious, loves learning new things and is always looking for the occasional haunted house to investigate.
 Some of his more recent credits include stories in Best New Werewolf Tales Vol 1 by Books of the Dead Press, The Epitaphs Anthology by The New England Horror Writers, The Northern Haunts Anthology by Shroud Publishing, and The Zombology Series by Library of the Living Dead Press.
He is the author the new fantasy series Song of the Ancestors and the recently released Frozen Stiff: A Zombie Novella for Amazon Kindle as well as various chapbooks, anthologies, and more.

 LOIS GRESH is the New York Times Best-Selling Author (6 times), Publishers Weekly Best-Selling Paperback Author, Publishers Weekly Best-Selling Paperback Children’s Author, and editor of 27 books and 50 short stories. Her books have been published in approximately 20 languages. Current books are dark short story collection ELDRITCH EVOLUTIONS, DARK FUSIONS (editor), and THE HUNGER GAMES COMPANION. Lois has received Bram Stoker Award, Nebula Award, Theodore Sturgeon Award, and International Horror Guild Award nominations for her work.

Apologizing to the Little Fat Kid Inside

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, but today I woke up with a new perspective on my eating and life habits. I suddenly thought of the unhealthy side of me as a separate person. As a little fat kid who wants to be healthy but I just won’t let her.

Some typical conversations came to mind:

Chubby Me: Please can we go out for a walk? You promised when the warm weather came we’d walk. My legs are getting yucky and flubbery.

Bad Me: Not now, here let’s sit on the couch and write. I made cookies for us.

Chubby Me: Can we have a salad? When we were on the Atkins kick and ate only veggies and meat, I felt great. My confidence came back and I had a lot of energy.

Bad Me: I’m too tired to make all that stuff. Let’s just eat Ramen noodles or a potato chip sandwich. Here’s an espresso. That will give you energy.

Chubby Me: Can we go to the gym? Last year I was starting to feel good about myself but then you said we couldn’t go anymore.

Bad Me: No. Now I’m too self-conscious to go there. We’ll just go for long walks. It’s just as good.

Chubby Me: When? We never go anywhere and I’m getting fatter. I want to be pretty again, like that girl in the picture from before.

Bad Me: Let’s just sit on the couch and write. Tomorrow we’ll go for a walk and exercise and eat healthy. Come on, let’s make brownies. It’ll stave off the insecurity and loneliness.

Chubby Me: Okay. But really tomorrow, you have to take me out. My heart is beating funny and I’m of breath. My clothes hurt my tummy.

And that’s when I look at Chubby Me and realize how much I’ve neglected and disappointed her. Why do I keep her chained up, under-exercised and overfed when clearly she doesn’t like being that way? She’s got confidence and wants to breathe fresh air and hike and listen to her iPod while she exercises. She insists that if we keep doing this, we really could hurt our bodies and reach a point where there’s no going back. She’s right.

I’m not going to launch into another promise to eat healthy and exercise but I really ought to, for her. For Chubby Me. For  Pretty Me who is hiding underneath, trapped there against her will.

Sorry Body. I promise to start treating you better.

Visit Tracy’s AMAZON PAGE  to see her fiction.

Thanksgiving 2012-A Day of Reflection

Maybe this post would be better suited for New Year’s but when I think back on the last year, there is so much I’m thankful for.

First and foremost, my friends and family, without whom life would be lonely and sad.

Robert, who fits into the above category but gets extra thanks for being virtually by my  side through the good and the bad.

Abby, who has grown into a kind young woman and is the center of my world.

This year had been the hardest one I can remember.  In Job-like fashion I’ve been hit with a lot, things that have at some points crippled me emotionally. In the end, it all worked out. There was medical diagnosis in the family that pulled the rug out from under me for a while, a long while. But thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket medical bills later, we’re told it’s not as bad as it could be, and for that I am utterly thankful. No guarantee that couldn’t change but for now, for this year, I  have a semblance of peace again. Robert was there through all of it, virtually holding my hand and telling me it’s okay, we’d get through it together, as a family.

This has also been the best year I’ve ever had. I’ve sold six new short stories, and put a bunch of old ones up on Kindle. My mystery novel was published in November and is getting good reviews. I went back to school for Accounting to get my degree. I signed up as a literacy volunteer and was assigned a wonderful person who I’m glad I got to know. Being in the program and meeting him reminded me how truly small the world is, and how in many ways we’re all connected. I’ve also started the long uphill battle of knocking down my mountain of debt, one dollar at a time.  For those things and my newfound motivation,  I’m thankful.

I am thankful for my strength this year. I’ve always been pretty emotionally strong but this year that was tested, repeatedly. I had to walk away from some unhealthy friendships. And in turn, some people walked away from me as well. It was sad  on all counts. I look back at a year ago and who  I hung around with and who filled my days. Many of them are gone.

I’ve gotten meaner this year. Not all out bitter but my threshold for BS is very low. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I should have been more assertive all along. I never would have gotten myself into that second marriage  or the subsequent missteps afterward. I’m sure some people don’t find my new assertion pleasant all. I can come across as a jerk, I know. I’m working on a happy medium. For the people still in my life who have been there all along and who have tolerated me, thanks.

I’m thankful for the quiet in my life. Because of the friend purge last winter, the fact my boyfriend lives far away, and one of my best friends moved to California, it’s pretty lonely here. Abby is around and I’m grateful for her but she’s a teen and has friends and activities. For the first time in more than twenty years I’m alone a lot of the time. It took some getting used to but it’s actually pretty nice. I suppose the alone time is responsible for the increase in writing. I can make up friends and activities and keep myself very busy and entertained without ever getting off the couch.

Finally, I’m thankful for all my pets. I’m never truly alone because someone is always vying for a spot on my lap.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Visit Tracy’s AMAZON PAGE  to see her fiction.

Why AnthoCon is the Next Big Con

Maybe the best thing about AnthoCon is that it’s not a big conference. This is the second year that Shroud Publishing and the Four Horsemen: Tim Deal, Mark Wholley, Danny Evarts and Johnny Morse have hosted this event in Portsmouth, NH and it was wonderful. I don’t know the final tally of attendees but I’d guess about a 100.

I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the years: NECon, Thrillerfest, ReaderCon, World Fantasy, World Horror, CrimeBake, Love is Murder, and probably some others I’m not thinking of. They each have their great and bad points and most are genre specific.

 The first year Thrillerfest ran, they hosted it in Arizona and it was amazing. It was reasonably priced, they had great panels and guests, workshops for writers, the rooms were inexpensive and luxurious. There were a lot of attendees but it was small enough so people could get to know each other.

But the next year they moved it to NYC which drove up the room cost, and food cost for nonsponsored meals. In addition they split off the Con to add CraftFest, for writers, from ThrillerFest-supposedly a reader/fan conference. So you had to pick one or the other or spend an insane amount of money and 6-7 days. And many of the “big guests” were sequestered behind tables. They signed books but did not hang out after hours. It was a fancy, dress up con and if you were an aspiring writer you’d make great connections. But it was expensive and exhausting, for me at least, to be that dressed up and to schmooze for four days. It has its merits, as there’s a lot of talent all under one roof, including pitch sessions with agents and publishers. But in all the years I went, I never once could relax.

On the flip side there’s NECon which I will always hold dear in my heart. It’s a small con, capped at 200 people.  One low price and everything is included for the weekend: room, board, panels, games.You don’t go to NECon to make connections or pitch ideas; you go to hang out and meet people like yourself. You make lasting friends. And somewhere in the midst of that you make “connections” but it’s not about finding a publisher. It’s the place award-winning published writers can go and not be hounded by fans, and a place where new writers can meet them as people, not as icons. You don’t dress up. You just get to escape and relax for four days.

What AnthoCon has done, and I love them for it, is to make an autumn-weekend-in-New England Con with multi-genres, that is a perfect mix of other cons. It was informal yet also had a business aspect with pitch sessions and people breaking off in groups to talk to publishers and make deals. Last year the sponsor was a man from the Lucid Absinthe company. This year is was Sam Adams. Very cool.

Someone referred to AnthoCon as NECon-lite and they were correct. Many of the local New England Horror writers attended, but there were also dozens who write in different genres from all over the world. I can say “world” because Richard Wright comes all the way from India for this. AnthoCon has brought us all together.

This year marked their first anthology, stories and poems selected from last year’s members and called Anthology. It has a stunning cover and a brilliant and touching collection of works.  There will be another Anthology  next year which is also incentive for new people to join. You can’t submit if you haven’t attended.

The con will no doubt grow as word spreads about all they have to offer: low admission price and vendor table cost, cheap but classy hotel, easily accessible location, concurrent and well-thought out panels, art and book dealer rooms, and a large amount of really cool but humble people. As this conference increases its numbers, I have a sense the mood and comfy intimacy level will stay the same.

I eagerly look forward to AnthoCon 2013. Hope to see you there.

Check out my new thriller, Restitution on Amazon, which made its debut this year at AnthoCon.