NANOWRIMO, or National Novel Writing Month is a competition in which you are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel all in the month of November. It’s a great contest. You are on the honor system to record your daily word count, and at the end to upload your document for confirmation. Should you upload a 50,000 word document you WIN! Meaning you have the satisfaction of working your butt off for 30 straight days. It truly is on the honor system because you could type, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” repeatedly until you reach your goal, and no one would know, or care.

I’ve entered this competition four times. The first time was a bunch of years ago, before I wrote all that well, when I’d not yet published anything. Not surprisingly, the book was terrible, unpublishable. But I finished.

75X2Years later, I wrote Restitution. A year later I went back, edited it, and it was published by Shadowridge Press. It’s actually a great and tight little thriller. Sometimes, NANOWRIMO works really well.

The summary is: 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.

All in all, I’m very proud of this book.

get-attachment.aspxThe next year, I started another novel called, My Name is Marnie. I didn’t know where to begin so I made the brainstorming sheet (picture). The problem with NANO is that there’s no time to outline or edit. You write in a fury and don’t worry about plot holes or inconsistencies. About 10,000 words into it, I met my boyfriend and abandoned the project because I spent all my free time chatting on the phone with him. So the next year, I picked it back up. Sure, I had the whole year to go back and work on it, to outline to plan. But I didn’t.

I jumped in and finished the book at about 45,000 words. I didn’t reach the 50,000 but the book was done so I stopped. Here’s the thing. Because I rushed and had no outline, and because this is a mystery, I’ve spent a year rewriting and changing, and fixing this book. And just when I think it’s okay, I see something I missed, or rather someone in my critique group does.

I am in the process of printing it out one last time to reread it start to finish. I’ve run it through Grammarly, my editing software. My group has red penned it ad nauseum. My beta readers are looking at it. My publisher has read half and will I’m sure finish once I really, really complete it.

I write all this because I’ve discovered outlines are really important, especially in mysteries or thrillers. Some people can write without them, but it’s become clear that I can’t.

proteus_cover_KINDLE_03-28-13When F. Paul Wilson and I wrote The Proteus Cure we did not try to rush to write it in a month, and we had an outline. Before the outline we had a timeline, then a spreadsheet/Word table sort of thing. Then an outline that we rehashed long before we got to the fun part of writing the actual book.

The fun part is writing. NANOWRIMO is a blast but I think going forward, I won’t jump to the fun part without first writing the outline. Maybe next year, I’ll have OCTOUTWRIMO-October Outline Writing Month.

Stop by HERE to check out all the books and stories I’ve got for sale.


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.

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.

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.

Restitution-Where Did the Ideas Come From?

Restitution is now available on Kindle after months of working and editing to get it together. CLICK HERE to get your copy in advance of the formal release at AnthoCon.

It’s an intense thriller about a sociopathic author who has the good fortune to be assigned a cell phone number which used to belong to a murderer. Tucker is thrilled and uses this idea for a topic for his novel.  He proceeds to contact all the people who are leaving messages for that murderer to help his plot line along. But the people aren’t just characters, they’re humans with complicated circumstances he never could have  imagined.

So that is the setting for my novel but where on earth did I get the idea? My non-writer friends are horrified, wondering where such darkness comes from. My writer things see this as a day in the life, nothing out of the ordinary. It is just fiction after all.

The genesis for this plot is loosely based on real events. Very loosely. A couple of years ago we all got new Blackberries at work. When I set up my voicemail I received several messages clearly meant for the previous owner of the number. One that struck me most was from his daughter. She said something about, thanks for the birthday money, how have you been, sorry I haven’t seen you in a while…He also got texts from some folks asking to meet him at the bar, or at local music events.

At the time I was two days from starting the annual NANOWRIMO competition, where you are challenged to write 50,000 words in a month. I needed an idea badly. I was pounding my head against the wall, trying to come up with something. Anything. My phone rang. “Is Derek there?” His name isn’t really Derek of course. I said no, this wasn’t his phone  number (which I am still doing two years later though the calls have died down). And just like that, I had my plot.

What if a sociopathic writer looking for a story idea contacted all the people who kept calling? What if he pieced together information from all the calls and acted as a puppeteer to align their lives with his characters? And what if he was delusional and hadn’t taken his meds in a long time? I couldn’t get the words down fast enough.

But who was the main character? What would he be like? Well, I stole him. About 10 years ago I wrote a horrible thriller novel that I am grateful never sold or saw the light of day. I made all the mistakes new writers do. Not just in punctuation and word flow and overly adverbing it but, well, trust me, it was stupid. But I loved the character of Tucker Millis. I liked his look, his personality, his quirks. Since he wasn’t working (he was only a fictional character after all waiting for his story to be told) I yanked him out and offered him this story instead. This happened much the way you’d call an actor whose pilot never aired and ask him if he was up for a similar role in a much better story.

He accepted (of course he did. I made him up). The combination of Tucker (who way back when I spent a lot of time creating) and this storyline makes for a fun, grisly and tight little suspense novel.

I hope you give it a shot. I’ll be signing hard copies at AnthoCon in mid November and will set up book signings in the New England area throughout the winter. Please check my APPEARANCES page for details.

Restitution-It’s Almost Here

Proofs have been reviewed for Restitution. The pdf looks great. The wraparound cover looks great. It’s come out so much better than I thought it would. This is Shadowridge Press’ first book and the editor had to learn a lot of new skills to get this off the ground in time for AnthoCon in November 2012. It’s been a lot of late nights for both of us (in our respective states). He used his old Photo Shop skills and also had to learn InDesign. I argued that uploading to Word would be just as good and not to stress out. But now that I see the final product, it really looks professional. Well worth his stress.

I’m not sure we’d get the same quality from a Microsoft Word upload. I had to do some extra editing at the end to insert the Prologue and first chapter of Hope House, a mainstream thriller coming out in the summer. I haven’t read this one in a while so there were tabs and adverbs and other items I know not to use anymore. I also reached out to get some new quotes and blurbs, sent the new version of Restitution out, and propositioned someone about doing an audiobook.

But now it’s nearly done. I cannot wait to promote this when it’s actually for sale, which will be REALLY SOON. Once we approve the printed ARC we’re good to go.

In the meantime, I finally made a QR code to link to my website. Next week I’ll get one for the book. It’s been a busy productive week which also included finishing my Financial Analysis class and completing week 5 of 6 of my Project Literary class (to teach English via tutoring students one on one). Next week I will get the information about my student. It’s a relief to have my Accounting class done,Literacy Class almost complete and for this book to be turned in.

I’m going to take a much-needed break until November 1st when I will be starting the NANOWRIMO program: 30 days and nights of writing to crank out 50,000 words in 30 days.

Stay tuned for news about the book.




Countdown to Restitution

My first mainstream adult novel will be formally released at this year’s Anthology Conference the weekend of November 9-11, 2012. It’s called Restitution and I am excited this book is coming to fruition.

This is a novel I wrote for the NANOWRIMO competition two years ago. It was written in a whirl of creativity and sleeplessness with the help of a full bottle of Black Bush and my trusty Mac computer. 30 solid days of writing. By the end my hands were sore, my eyes were blood-red and I had an overwritten story that I forced to 50,000 words to finish.

Almost two years later I opened it up, read and thought, WOW! Except for those last 5,000 words that turned to story into a miasma of crap. Easy fix. Deleted the words I didn’t need-which should always be a major step. I rewrote, renamed some characters and then edited it about four more times. Then some folks read it so I edited it again. And again. And then one fine day, it was done. Well except for that very last edit.

Throughout the month I will be posting more information but for tonight a quote and the synopsis.

A blurb from one of  my early readers, Kristi Petersen Schoonover: 

“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

So what’s it all about? Here’s the synopsis:

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.

In upcoming posts I’ll reveal my inspiration for the book, the writing process, and how it is to work with my new publisher.

Can’t wait till the book comes out to read my fiction? Check out some short stories to hold you over. CLICK HERE.

-Thanks and happy writing