When Novels Choose You

glassesI recently finished writing a new novel. I wrote the whole thing, all nine drafts, since May of 2015, the same time it takes to make a child. It was a relief to complete the book and I planned to take at least a few weeks off to rest, to recover from my late nights and sleepless days. Someone said recently that writing a book is like running a marathon. It’s nonstop adrenaline until you’re done. And when you are done, you’re left still energized, still revved up. Crossing the finish line does not convince your body to instantly change gears. It takes a little time to slow yourself down, get your heartbeat back to normal. Get used to walking again, or in my case, get used to living a regular day where characters are not running lines in my head 24/7.

So I looked forward to a month or so of peace. And even then I’d planned to compile a short story collection, not a novel. Maybe I’d wait six months to start a novel because I need downtime in between them.

Image015Last week though I took a trip to Fillmore, California. It’s a small (14,000 residents) town, with an old downtown area, a one screen movie theater, and an adorable train station. The whole town is only a few miles across. The houses are mostly old, mostly worn. It’s there that I had my first case of homesickness for New England. To me, it was any old town in Massachusetts, being Taunton where I grew up, or Easton where I spent several years, Middleboro, where I bought my quaint brick home, or Bradford, where I ended up before relocating to sunny Southern California. Here everything is bright and shiny and clean. Often I feel like I’m in Disneyland.

Abby_1_fnlIt’s an understatement to say I overreacted emotionally to Fillmore. I literally cried on the way home, something I rarely if ever do. I HAD to live there. We HAD to buy a house there. I didn’t care about my boyfriend’s long commute or the low property values, or the fact is was wicked far from Burbank and Glendale and the places I visit all the time, or Santa Monica where I work when I’m in the office. I HAD to live there. I threw quite a little tantrum.

In a day or two I calmed down but not before writing an extensive brainstorming sheet and outline about a new novel called Homesick that I would set in Fillmore, or a fictional version of it. No sooner did I write the outline, and start envisioning characters and events that were filling my brain faster than I could write them down, that I started feeling panic, exhaustion. It’s too soon! I thought. I can’t already be writing another book. I’m not ready. I need to sleep. I need to spend some time as Tracy, not immersed in all these people that will invade my house and thoughts and life for the next nine months like unwelcome bossy relatives.

imaginationNow that I’ve had a few days to absorb it though, I’m okay. Writers do not always choose their next book or topic. Sometimes it is chosen for them, by the characters, by the emotions they feel, by events that are surely laid out before them by a God who wants them to tell a story. I took out six research books from the library last week and tomorrow I will spend the day in Fillmore, walking down the streets, visiting the Town Hall, eating lunch in one of the little restaurants. I’ll take pictures for my book file and imagine my characters in this location or that. I’ll overhear their conversations and watch them as they live the lives I’m destined to record.

Welcome to the next book, I say as I prepare to give over my life to the new characters.

Happy writing!




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: