Putting Down Roots

This one is taken from my Carly blog.

I was at work the other day  talking to a coworker about my future relocation to California. She asked the valid question, “What if you move and it doesn’t work out? You’ll be stuck out there.” She’s not the first person to ask it. In other situations, that same thought would be crossing my mind on a daily basis.

I replied simply that, “Nothing will happen.” But even if  it did, like if Ryan died which I can see as the only thing that would prevent a long future together, California is eventually going to be my new home.

When I was in high school, I’d readied myself to go to Salem State College. I’d planned and dreamed and breathed in the ocean air, mentally preparing myself for this new life. I ended up not going last minute (something I regret to this day) and stayed in my home town. Eventually I met my first husband and we moved around quite a bit, all within a 30 mile radius. Each new town I made my own, the best I could. I loved Middleboro. It was by far the cutest IMG_0046town I’ve ever lived in. I lived there for about five years. I never got to know any of my neighbors well, and didn’t socialize much, but that town … I walked to the Boston bus for years, in front of the town hall. The church was there, and Ivy’s kindergarten. Each summer I’d walk down the street to the local fair and watch fireworks. If it weren’t for the life troubles at the time, it would have been Heaven. In some ways I guess it still was. I loved the cranberry bogs and flat land and the undeniable charm around every corner.

After the divorce I moved ninety miles north to where I live now, on the New Hamphire border. It was for a man and I knew nothing about the town except that he lived there. It was scary and hard, but I was excited for the adventure. The relationship didn’t work out, and now we are strangers, but this hasDownloadedFilebecome my town, as if I was born here. The hills, and winding roads without streets signs, and the ski lodge, and the river that runs through all the local towns have become my mental backdrop to life.

So when I think of Simi Valley, I am mixed with fear of moving to a new place, but excitement over settling in to another life, one that will eventually become my own, as if I was born there. This time it’s different because I feel truly connected to many people here, relatives and friends, and even just the sights in the town. And sometimes I worry that I’ll never see another town that looks like this one again. But one time Ryan drove me to Ojai and that was a darn cute little village. I wouldn’t live there (too far from work) but it’s drivable.

IMG_2448As much as I’ve grown to love the duck pond near my house, both shining in the spring, reflecting leaves in the fall, or frozen over in winter, I will learn to love the orange groves, staffed with migrant farm workers. I’ll learn to love the palm trees the way I love the pines. And the mountains, well they are already a part of Ventura County that take my breath away.

I know this blog doesn’t touch much upon my love for Ryan. That’s evident by now. But this is more about the other side of relocation. Forging a connection, nesting in the new place, while missing the other one. I’ll miss the sound of plows overnight, and dog prints in the snow, but I won’t miss the cold, or spending all my nights and weekends alone. And trust me, there is something intoxicating about standing outside in shorts and a tank top at 8 am and feeling warmth on my skin, and finding lizards in the closet.

For now, I visit as much as I can, and I’ve sent a few things on ahead, moving in a handful items on a time. I’ve sent a jar of rain and some acorns, some fall leaves. With my next box I’ll send pinecones and (melted) snow. Little by little I’ll make it my home. Ivy will be in college, hopefully not too far away, DownloadedFilein San Diego. Part of me thinks this is just like when she was six and we moved north, where I drove us toward a new life, car filled with our things and pets, toward an adventure. I guess it’s somewhat the same (though she’ll be eighteen and a half), pulling us both from what we know to start fresh. College and adulthood and a world so different from what we’ve known.

It’s all still a ways off, another eighteen months or so, but it’s on my mind, as Ivy grows older, SATs loom in the near future, and time rushes faster than I can track it. Each time I drive down the street I capture images in my head. Each time I meet with local friends or take the subway, I’m logging it all in.

Nothing will happen, and California is my future. But New England will always run in my blood.

-Carly G.

Checking for Messages

mailboxWay back when, a long time ago when we all used mail, I spent a lot of time checking the mailbox. I’d print (I know, who does THAT anymore?) and mail out my manuscript, or the first three chapters, or a short story, with a SASE (for the young folks out there that’s a Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). Then I’d wait. I’d add in three days to mail it to the market, then three days for its return trip. The days in between were guesswork but after a week or two I’d start checking the mail. I’d rush home from work and check the mail. Empty. Then I’d check later, in case the mailman was delayed.

On weekends, I’d watch out the window and when the mailman came-ZIP out the door I went. Usually (because this was a long time ago and I wrote like crap) I’d get my same package back. I’d read the form rejection letter. Then I’d check the manuscript for markings and send it to the next one on the list because I took the “no simultaneous submissions” very seriously.

Now in the age of email, this process if SO much more painful. At least the mailman only comes once a day. With email, it’s a freefall. Anytime of day or night, I might get an acceptance. There are two markets in particular that I am awaiting with bated breath. I admit I’ve become a little obsessive.

I leave my email open and keep refreshing, you know, just in case something arrived in the last 45 seconds. I know, I should get a smartphone then I would be notified. I have a quasi smartphone now. I can check email but it doesn’t always show up and it stopped notifying me about a year ago. If I had that option though, then every time Kohl’s or SmileyCookie or Amazon wrote, my heart would flutter. I’d click my phone and-nothing.

So I check my phone a lot, and I check my computer a lot, in case the phone missed something. It’s painful.

One would think that after all the years of writing, an acceptance or rejection wouldn’t matter so much. But it does. It’s still a thrill or disappointment.

Need to go now and check my messages. Who knows? Maybe I got some good news.


Shrunken Apple Head Dolls

get-attachment.aspx_2The main characters in my newest mystery novel, My Name is Marnie, make shrunken apple head dolls and sell them at craft fairs and online. That’s not the plot, just a creepy backdrop. As I was writing the book it occurred to me that I had no idea how to make these dolls. I couldn’t describe the process, didn’t know the texture of the apples after they’d dried, or how to affix the heads to the bodies. So I decided to research the craft and make some. I learned  a lot, mainly that they’re fun and easy. Through trial and error I picked up some tips on what to do and what not to attempt.

I can’t sew so their bodies look like something a kindergartener would make, but I think they’re cute just the same

Step one, pick up Granny Smith apples. They’re the big green ones. For my first failed batch I  used a different type. They were get-attachment.aspxsmaller and I broke four of them when I tried to core them (with a knife). This time I bought Granny Smith. They’re very large and round, perfect for heads. I also picked up a good apple corer at William Sonoma. It was $10 and really well made.

I cored and peeled four apples. Squeeze lemon juice (I used one of those plastic lemons from the produce section) and a little salt into a bowl. Next I carved deep eyes into them, mouths, and cut around noses. I made ears too but their hair ended up covering them up. Once you finish an apple, soak it in the juice for about 30 seconds. Make sure all surfaces get a good wash from the lemon. get-attachment.aspxThis keeps them from getting overly brown or rotted. Here’s a picture of the four of them next to two leftover from the failed batch two weeks prior. This shows how much they will shrink and gives some carving examples. Cut deep and wide as they shrivel quite a bit and shallow cuts will get lost.

VERY IMPORTANT-Once the apple dry, it’s very difficult to change the features so put whole cloves in the eyes when the apples are first carved. I saw a few websites that suggested popping rice into the mouths for teeth. I thought that was a great idea but it was hard. Two of my apples had closed mouths. On the two that were open I managed to get a few pieces of rice into one but the grains were hard to work with. If you do this, use tweezers and  poke a hole in the apple with a toothpick first. Speaking of toothpicks, for the other apple, I shoved broken toothpicks in to see how that looked. It didn’t look good a week later. I’d suggest no teeth or make the effort to use rice.

I set them on a cooling rack on the counter. A few times I set them in the oven on 170 for an hour or so and that sped get-attachment.aspxthem along. If they lean forward, cut the apple until the face is upturned. Otherwise when they dry, they’ll fall forward. With the oven to help, they took a week to dry. They make shrink a little still but I think they’re mostly done now.

get-attachment.aspxNone of the sites I found explained in detail how to make the bodies. I used some thick foam from the craft store and a gingerbread man cookie cutter. I cut the head (in the foam) to wedge into the dried apple head hole, where the core was. It’s a nice snug fit. If the apple shrinks more, it will form around the foam.get-attachment.aspx

From here, I sewed some felt around the forms and stuffed cotton balls underneath to give them depth. I adorned them with buttons and belts, added some felt hands and boots.

Note, on one of the heads not shown, I brushed a little blush/tanning powder to see how it looked with color. I didn’t like it. I also used a light pink marker on the lips. This also looked bad. I recommend keeping them with their natural color. Finally, I glued some cotton balls to their heads.

I think they look just adorable. My characters will do a better job and sew more skillfully, and use matching thread, or maybe made soft rag doll bodies. But this experience was enough to expose me to the craft.

Now that I know what I’m doing here, I’ve got some editing to do. Happy writing and happy crafting!

Good luck with your dolls!


Check out Tracy’s writing on AMAZON.

The Fictional Town of Bradfield

snow2_tracy_SplaterEven though I’ve spent almost my whole life in Massachusetts, except for a stint in Rhode Island from five to nine years old, I have always searched for a place to call home. There have been a few towns I’ve been fond of, where I planned to spend my life. But then things changed, and I moved. I’ve been in Bradford MA for over ten years. It’s a charming locale but I suspected several years ago that life would change again and eventually I may have to say goodbye to the town. Sometimes I feel like the  character of Caroline in Chocolat.

I knew I needed to memorialize Bradford so it could always be my special place. To that end, I’ve made a point of setting almost all my stories and novels in the fictional town of Bradfield, Massachusetts. Several authors have made a practice of this but until I did it myself, I never understood why.

When you write a story, screenplay or book, you usually start with fresh characters and settings. You may or may not know at the outset what will happen to them, or where or how they will end up. But one thing is a constant. Your characters become a part of you. Their stories change your life. Their locales and experiences become your memories and vice versa.

I’m a homebody and crave security, and have always had this fantasy where I was born and raised in a small New England town. Birth to death all in one place. A town where over the course of my life I would come to know all the residents and hear their stories. There was a terrific dark book by Jonathan Carroll called, Land of Laughs, in which a character/writer created an entire living town of his characters. Silly as it sounds, it was a book that altered my life a bit, at least from a literary standpoint. It made me want to live in a town where I knew all the characters.

And so I created the town of Bradfield. To date, ten of my stories (maybe more) and four novels have been set there. I’ve featured Bradfield Books, Bradfield Antiques, Bradfield Elementary School and probably local spots I’ve forgotten. My town has children and adults and pets. Murderers and magic, ghosts and revenge and kidnappings. Snow angels, a cutting edge cancer enter, attics filled with spirits, and one time had a raging flood which altered the landscape for years. I can picture the fictional downtown, have walked its streets, know which meals are good in the diner and which to avoid. With each story and novel, I meet more of the residents, and Bradfield becomes slightly more real.

I hope you read my stories and novels someday so you can talk a walk through Bradfield and experience the magic it offers.

Happy writing!


Check out Tracy’s writing on AMAZON.

Stepping Down as Co-Chair of NEHW

logo_nehw_185The other day, I made the decision that it was time for me to step down as the Co-Chair of the New England Horror Writers /NEHW formerly known as HWA-NE.

I’m not sure when I joined the Board exactly. I think it’s been about four years. I remember though the first time I ever attended an NEHW event. It was called HWA-New England back then and was an offshoot of the HWA. It was in 2003. It was a a pub in New Hampshire. I don’t recall all the players but do know Rick Hautula and Holly Newstein were there as well as John McIlveen, Lauran Soares, Mike Arruda, John Harvey and Jack Haringa. I’d only just met everyone a few months before at my first NECon (my first conference at all for that matter).

Over dinner, where we discussed horror movies and the correct way to use commas,  good and bad writers and paying markets, Rick Hautala told me about a message board called Shocklines.  “Everyone you need to meet is there. You should sign up.” I did.  Almost all the friends I have now I met at NECon, on Shocklines or as spinoffs from one of those places. I’m grateful to the Booth family, namely Bob Booth for creating NECon, a haven for writers who arrive as strangers and leave as kindred spirits. To Matt Schwartz who created Shocklines which kept me in touch with so many, and granted me new friendships. And to whoever actually started the HWA-NE/NEHW. I think it was Mike Arruda and John Harvey and hopefully they will confirm.

After several years of attending sporadic NEHW meetings, someone asked me to join as the Events Coordinator. I agreed. Back then we only met a handful of times a year so it was an easy post.

When Lauran Soares opted to step down as Co-Chair (serving with Dan Keohone). Dan asked me if I wanted to be Co-Chair. I agreed. The Board then consisted of Tim Deal (Shroud Magazine), TJ May, Dan, Michael Todd and me. Small group. We often talked about doing an anthology but it was hard to get it off the ground.

It seems within a matter of months or so though, everything changed. Michael Todd, our newsletter guy, left and we asked Jason Harris to step in. Then I saw Danny Evarts at Writers’ Event. Till then I only knew him online but he was so filled with energy and exuberance I asked him on the spot to join. We soon after voted him in.

We had our first meeting with all the new staff in the basement of a pub in Portsmouth, NH. Stacey Longo Harris tagged along with Jason, and suggested someone take notes so I said, “Hey, want to be our secretary?” We had a quorum so boom, she was voted in.

To say the time that followed was dizzying and intense would be an understatement. We suddenly had a group of folks who were really high energy. At that meeting, in March 2011 we decided we were going to publish an anthology to release at AnthoCon’s debut on 11-11-11. It was a crazy time. We had no money or bank account or plan. But we were going to do it.

As you know, we succeeded. We opened a bank account, assigned a treasurer, Dan Keohane. He changed positions and so we voted Stacey as my Co-Chair. We sold t-shirts to raise money, and held raffles. We got a new website, published the book, Epitaphs, in time, paid our authors, got a Stoker nomination for it and came out ahead financially. Not way ahead but we had a bank balance.

There’s been some Board member turnaround since then, as it’s damn hard to maintain that level of energy. Some great people have left but new ones have joined.

Jason has graduated us from a once a month newsletter, to adding almost daily updates on the NEHW blog.  We’ve got a busy Facebook NEHW page with over 200 members, and a Twitter Account. The NEHW members are up to over 300. We have group signing/selling events almost monthly, and now started the process for our next anthology. And we just released the new t-shirt designed by Jesse Young.

And so now it’s time for me to step down and take a much needed break. I’ve paid my dues and leave the smoothly running NEHW in very good hands.

Kudos to the Board for all their past and future hard work. I know the new anthology will be spectacular!



Restitution, a few reviews


75X2My thriller novel, Restitution,  has been out since November and I’m happy to report that the feedback is great! It’s my first published thriller and is setting the pace for my upcoming novels. Though I generally write horror short stories, my novels tend toward supernatural suspense or at the very least-dark psychological. I thought it would be fun to list out my reviews all in one places so you can see what you’ve been missing. Just $2.99 on Kindle, $11.99 in print, and free with Kindle Prime.


Book Description: Destiny intervenes for Tucker Millis, a delusional writer who needs a purpose in life and a plot for his new novel. When he discovers his new phone number once belonged to a man on the verge of turning himself in for a twenty-five year old murder, it’s a dream come true. Tucker uses the messages and calls intended for the murderer to manipulate lives and to craft his story. But he’s propelled back to reality when he can no longer escape the full horror and dire consequences of the world he’s created.

Below are the reviews I’ve received for the novel. To date, I’ve received ten 5 star reviews on Amazon and some great other reviews that haven’t been posted there yet.

  • “A clever thriller whose characters will keep your heart racing till the end. A dark and tremendously fun read.”- Heather Graham-author of The Unholy
  • Restitution is a tension-filled ride…a fast-paced twister of a mystery that will fill readers with dark glee and leave them breathless.”- Kristi Petersen Schoonover, author of Bad Apple and Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales from Haunted Disney World
  • “Restitution is Tracy Carbone’s devilish answer to the question: How do writers get their ideas? Twists and turns and pitch perfect characterization abound in this page-turner of a novel. A superb dark mystery! Restitution will keep you guessing all the way until the final reveal.” – David North-Martino
  • “I really enjoyed Restitution. Tracy Carbone did a wonderful job in creating a suspenseful, eerie story, with interesting characters. I not only recommend it, but will be purchasing more of her work.”- Julie Milo-Macge
  • “I’ve read some of Tracy L Carbone’s short fiction and was immediately impressed with the subject and the characters in them. The stories grabbed you from page one and continued strong until the end, which is the problem with many writers that start with a promising beginning only to fall flat halfway through, where you eventually lose interest. This is not the case with Carbone, who cuts to the bone with solid characters and dialogue that moves the story quickly. With Restitution, Carbone uses the same technique and gifted story telling that leaves the reader guessing until the shocking end. Restitution will leave you satisfied, yet hungry for more from Carbone.” Highly recommended.-Tammy Jo LaCroix
  • “And I loved that. As an avid reader, too often, I can predict where the storyline is headed next. Tracy Carbone kept surprising me and I had to finish this book ASAP. Not knowing and waiting to find out was too much suspense for me. I can’t wait to read her next book; the preview at the end of this book sounds like another winner!”-Amazon review
  • “A great book that kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire time. I could not put it down once I began reading it. I am looking forward to many more great books from this wonderful author!!!” Eddie Lindsey
  • “This mystery novel was a great quick read, which is perfect when your lifestyle doesn’t allow a lot of time to unwind. I loved that the story kept moving and the characters were realistic. Well done, Ms. Carbone!”-Diana Lansleen, Actress
  • -“I found this book grabbed me right from the beginning. Creepy and frightening in a way that everyone can relate to and is extremely well written. The imagery Ms. Carbone uses is quite effective in guiding the reader through madness and terror. An excellent read and I am now a big fan of Ms. Carbone’s story telling abilities. Will be checking out her other novels.” Karen Dent, Author
  • “Lots of twists and turns in this neat thriller. The people are vividly drawn and credible, and you’ll find yourself liking the delusional Mr Millis all while you watch in horror at the…well, read it yourself to find out!!!” Pulp Fan-Amazon review
  • “Tucker Millis gets dumped by his girlfriend and she tells him to get a life. So he does. When he gets a new cell phone and starts getting someone else’s messages, he eagerly dives into a mystery that involves several people’s lives. A mystery that he is sure only he can unravel (and turn into that book he always wanted to write). Oh yeah, and Tucker is kind of a psychopath. RESTITUTION is one of those riveting page-turners that will have you eagerly moving forward to see what the lead character is going to do next. As it approaches the end, it goes to some dark places, but you’ll be amazed how entertaining it is getting there. Tracy L. Carbone has created a truly memorable character.”
  • – – L. L. Soares, author of Life Rage and Rock ‘n’ Roll

In case you missed it up above:


Our Books as Children

get-attachment.aspxIn looking over my last bunch of blog entries, I realized all I’ve done lately  is share recipes, complain about the post office, or add happy romance reflections.  I suppose that’s because my fiction uses up my “writing” time, and so when it’s time to blog, I’m typed out. When I’m not writing fiction, I bake or do life stuff I can’t write about because it’s private. Too bad because those would make for GREAT posts.

But in 2013 I’m going to focus on blogging about fiction, writing, promotions, cons…all things related to creating characters and their lives.

Just like every child or pet is different, so is every work of fiction. Some stories are prompted by a call for submissions. Some are born of anguish or celebration.

Restitution_Cover_for_Kindle NEWMy last novel, Restitution, published by Shadowridge Press was a blast to write. It was fun and intense and a true pleasure beginning to end. My fingers could barely keep up with my thoughts. It was like a first child whose every smile lights up the room, whose each new step a miracle. And you fill a whole baby book with images of its progression.

The new one, My Name is Marnie, has been difficult to write. Sometimes it flows, other times not. Though the rough draft is done, I’m not looking forward to going back and rereading it. It still needs work. This is a second child in a way. It’s dark and brooding, and sad. And I try to make it like the last one but can’t because it is what it is. It was born that way. I know when I go back and look with a mother’s/writer’s love  that I’ll see it has worth. And I can transform it until the world agrees. But right now, I don’t have the patience for it.

That’s not to say I’ve just got those two books. There’s The Soul Collector-my foster kid who has been bounced from coverpublishing house to house and hopes to find a permanent home with Shadowridge. Right now we’re finalizing the “adoption” papers. This was written a long time ago, when I was in a different place and this book is always an afterthought.

get-attachment.aspxHope House is my favorite (next to Restitution which is a different literary animal: short, intense, fun). Hose House is novel length, about 90,000 words. It’s a solid story with several sub stories within. Characters with entire lives behind them fighting to the death for the futures they want. It’s about genetics and child loss and adoption and the mafia and a backdrop in the jungles of Haiti. It’s  a well researched thriller that took as long to research as it did to write. This one will be out in June 2013 from Shadowridge Press and I’m really looking forward to promoting it. Hope House is my adult child in medical school who is impressive and worldly and surprises me everyday when I remember that  I created it.

My short stories are close to my heart. They’re my nieces and nephews. Wonderful flashes brilliance or darkness, or both, who come into my life for a short time then leave me, with only their recorded memory as proof they were ever there at all.

My short story collection aptly named The Collection and Other Tales of Horror will be out late February 2013, or earlier if I can finish a couple more before then. There are some old tales and some brand-new.  This will be a fun collection and I’m thrilled to have them all in one place like a family reunion photo.

As the months pass, I’ll share some of my writing life and processes, successes, and failures with you.

Happy writing and Happy New Year!


Please visit Tracy’s AMAZON Page to see all her works for sale.