Oils by Tracy

It’s been a long time since my days of trying to find and agent or publisher, when I’d spend a fortune going from one writers’ conference to another, flying or driving around the country hoping readers would buy my existing books, or a publisher or agent would take me and my idea on board. It was hard, demoralizing at times. Ultimately, I chose Shadowridge Press as my publisher because they do beautiful work and spend a lot of time on design. I was mostly responsible for my own marketing and since I hate that sort of thing, I have a lot of books in boxes at home, and a lot of stuff on Amazon that doesn’t move. It’s my own fault for not making an effort but in my defense, I spent YEARS trying to sell, and schmoozing, and spending money on marketing. In the words of Bartleby, “I would prefer not to” continue to do that.

But painting is something else entirely. I don’t feel a need to sell, sell, sell. I’m not looking for my big break, one painting that’ll set me for life and pay off my house. I paint because I like it, because when I do a pet portrait, I smile when I’m painting, and the people I paint for smile when they see the final product.

Recently my future son-in-law started making beautiful, high-end cutting boards. Instagram @travwoodworks

He discovered a Makers’ Market in town and signed up for a table. I did as well, figuring since I’ve got a couple of dozen paintings, and am creating more all the time, I ought to try to sell some. I have my originals, prints, and have a shingle out to take commissions for pet portraits. The vibe when I’m doing this for pleasure instead of to support myself is very different. Yes, I want to get paid for work I do, but I also like the events and talking to people, getting to know others, and hearing from passersby that my pups and the paintings are cute.

All the pictures I’ve posted in the past were photos of paintings. To give a better idea of the quality, here are some high-resolution scans.

I’ll be working on the new kids’ book and will hopefully have it for sale at the Maker’s Market in the next couple of months. Keep an eye out for new paintings and shows.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stay creative!

Tracy

Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Book II

The book is just about done, Meaning the rough draft at least. All painting are complete, except one. Once I finish that one I’ll do one more run through for final brush strokes. The narrative parts of the story are also nearly done. I decided to tell the story in poem form since it’s for kids. Here’s a picture of most of the paintings in various stages, plus the “Very formal” outline of the book with notes.

In the next part of the book, where I left off in the last post, Anna tells Granola that it’s time for her to go, for good. She says Granola is ready. Granola is saddened by this so runs away from home, has a good cry on a rainy day, and is finally brought home by her parents. She gets a warm bath and lots of hugs.

Later, Mom sits Granola and Scruffy down and tells them some big news.

In the end, time passes. Granola turns two! She doesn’t see Anna anymore but says she knows Anna still watches over them all. Except she says this in kid-friendly terms, in rhyme.

I’m still working on the cover but here it is, still in progress.

My next post about this book will be when it’s done and ready to read. Until then I’ll be focusing on some of the other paintings and my new foray into Makers’ Markets and selling my work.

Happy Creativity! Thanks for reading.

Tracy

Writing and Illustrating a Children’s Book

Though I’ve sworn off writing fiction and instead have thrown myself into oil painting, I’ve realized recently that maybe there’s a way to do both.

The day after Christmas, my old Schnauzer Anna passed away from complications of dementia and heart disease. My dog Granola was very close to her old doggy sister, though she also adores her middle- aged buddy Scruffy. One day I noticed Granola looking in a mirror, so I photographed her as I often do. I decided instantly to paint it but then got the idea to add Anna in, but only on one side.

From there I became completely pulled into the idea of writing a book about loss for children. I planned out the book on index cards, just like old times. Though this time there weren’t as many cards as an 80,000 word novel needs a bit more planning.

I decided to start the story when Granola was little. These paintings still need a little touching up but they’re a good sneak preview.

Over time, Anna’s age started to get the best of her. One day she got sick and Granola and Scruffy waited and waited. But she didn’t come home… Note my masterful sketches I use as a guide.

After that day, the pups were very sad…

Soon after, in the book, Granola sees Ghost Anna in the mirror, where it all started. She is very excited until she jumps right through her. She runs and hides but eventually comes out again, tentatively. Again, not to worry, these paintings are drafts. I’d never post drafts of writing online but with paintings I think it’s fun to see the process. I’m grateful my dogs are so good about picture time.

After that, when Granola saw Anna’s ghost wasn’t going to hurt her, it made her happy. Anna stuck around for a while. They hung out and played games together, though Scruffy couldn’t see her and thought it was her imagination. Why I got the idea of puzzles I’ll never know but I thought it would be fun to paint.

That’s plenty of teaser for now. I’ve got a lot more paintings done and only ONE PICTURE left to paint. Then I have to work out the narrative part. I know what I want to say but any good writer will tell you, it’s how you say it. And that, I don’t have figured out yet.

I’ll share more soon but didn’t want you all to think I was being lazy or binge watching TV with my “free” time. Okay, I am also binge watching TV, from behind my easel. I highly recommend Offspring and Wilfred. I’ve recently started watching LOST which I haven’t seen since it aired. And of course the perfect shows whose seasons end all too quickly, This Is Us and Call the Midwife.

Until next time, happy painting!

Tracy

Oil Paintings- A Continuing Journey

Since my last post, I’ve had twinges of longing to write again. I’ve sat down at my laptop and “scribbled” down some badly written starts. In the past I’d persevere until the bad scribbles turned into something good. But with my long hiatus from writing, it’s still difficult to bring myself to write much more than blogs. In the meantime, I’ve been exploring my newfound love of painting.

When I was very young I loved to draw. I wanted to be an artist when I grew up but wasn’t good at it. This was back in the 70s and we didn’t have much money so art lessons in person weren’t even thought of. When we were kids, we played outside a lot and followed our creative pursuits and let our schools lead the way. There was no Internet or YouTube, no online lessons. Maybe there were art books in the library but writing stories came a lot more naturally to me. So that’s what I did. In sixth grade, I still really liked drawing and art class but because of budget cuts (Prop 2 I think it was called) only the tops kids got to pursue art in seventh and eighth grade in a class they called Super Art. I wasn’t chosen, not by a long shot, so that was that with art except for occasional cartoons I’d draw for myself or others.

When I took an oil painting class months ago it was a random happenstance, and I didn’t expect much. I couldn’t draw so I wouldn’t be able to paint. I’ve learned in the last several months that they don’t have to be interrelated. When I paint now, I’ve got the same excitement and enthusiasm I had when I was a child.

Since the last post here are the paintings I’ve finished. I’m throwing fewer in the trash and more are being hung on my wall or sent to people who want them hanging in their homes. This is a wonderful feeling, seeing my work on someone else’s wall. Each day something I created brings them joy. There’s nothing better than that.

Without further ado, here’s my newest stuff.

We’ll see what 2022 brings but for now as long as I’m doing something creative, I think I’ll be just fine.

Here’s to a creative and happy 2022.

-Tracy

Oil Painting- Dog Portraits

I’ve been painting like a madwoman because whenever I start a new hobby I go full force. I started painting dogs for practice and feel like I’m getting pretty good at it, enough to start selling them one of these days. Maybe it wouldn’t be as much fun if I had to do it but I may explore this and put any money earned toward my credit card debt. And if I don’t go that route, I’ll paint a bunch more and hang them to add fun and whimsy to my living room wall.

Here are the ones I’ve completed to date. The black and white ones are all of my Granola. The Australian Shepherd is my friend’s dog, Jasper. The terrier-type dog is my stepfather’s buddy Scooter.

This weekend I did the two below. The little brown dog, Maysie, belongs to my husband’s coworker. The poodle is my father-in-law’s dog, Bridget.

I’ve got two more to paint that someone requested and then I’m seriously going to consider opening an Etsy shop or at least advertising locally. I’m a little intimidated with trying to paint humans but I should give that a shot too.

Painting is so relaxing. The materials are a bit expensive but once I have the paints they last a while, except for black and white which I use up pretty quickly. I use Winsor and Newton Paints, Artist’s line, linseed oil and Dammar Varnish. I’ve been using the Winsor Winton Titanium White from Amazon because I use so much. It’s a little thicker but the oil thins is nicely.

I’ve got shelves full of tile and need to get back to mosaics one of these days. The only reason I’ve slowed down, okay two reasons, are the mosquitos that are STILL HERE even though it’s October 31st. Happy Halloween by the way. And second, I used up all the wall I can easily get to that’s not obstructed by plants. Any new work I do will need to be on the hill and it’s a lot harder to tile, lugging up heavy tile, water, and grout.

I hope you enjoy the paintings and feel a bit inspired.

-Tracy

Vellum for e-book Publishing

vellum-1200-icon.jpgI just used Vellum for the first time to prepare files to upload on KDP, Amazon’s e-book platform. I’ve dragged my feet on doing this for over a year. Instead I’ve resorted to my past, lazy use of uploading Word files.

Author Christiana Miller mentioned Vellum to me last year. “It’s easy,” she said. “Even for people who aren’t Tech geeks. It’s intuitive. It allows you to add flair and fanciness to an otherwise plain looking manscript.” I’m paraphrasing.

But like a lot of people, and a lot of writers, I was intimidated by the process. It would be hard, I thought.  I’d become overwhelmed and do something wrong and it would look lousy. And anyway, uploading from a Word doc was fine so why mess with it?

Well, one reason is a table of contents. I released a short story collection last month and there isn’t a table contents. In the print version I have one, because Shadowridge Press is good with print layout. But not in my digital version that I’m responsible for.

Today finally, when I’d put off  uploading my Word doc long enough for The Rainbox, I decided to give Vellum a shot. OMG, it’s AWESOME!!!!! Why did I wait so long?

This is how I felt when I finally started eating avocados, or using floss picks, or doing Yoga.

Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 2.37.07 PM.pngFor one thing, it’s free until you actually need to upload your book to Kindle or any of the other platforms. For another, you can VERY EASILY do neat things like restyle your section breaks instead of using the manual ***  I had before. You can select to have the first letter in each chapter be a big pretty CAPITAL letter…And there’s a table of contents, and it puts everything where it’s supposed to go. And organizes things like Acknowledgements. You can use their headings or make your own.

I am not a Tech person but it was a breeze. The only issue I had when I dragged and dropped my Word doc into the program (that was easy) was that there were about 50 chapters. In real life there are 9. I quickly figured out how to merge chapters (highlighted the ones I needed with CTRL+Shift and clicked “merge chapters.”) Then I read through and added in the section breaks which the program had mistaken for chapter breaks.

Scrolling through and viewing the document in the program allowed me to see a couple of typos I had missed before as well. This made me very happy.

imagesTo purchase the document which gives you five different file types for different platforms that you can edit anytime, forever, is just $29.99. If you pay $99.99 you can do 10 books. Unlimited is $199.99. I don’t have that many books so I opted for the bundle of 10.

I highly recommend this software for anyone who wants a better looking e-book and wants to have fun setting it up. Currently this is only available on Mac computers, not PCs.

Soon I’ll be updating all my books on Kindle with my snazzy new software!

-Tracy

To see more of Tracy’s thoughts on writing, life, cooking, and home repairs, please visit her WEBSITE HERE. Also, please visit and follow her on Amazon for updates on upcoming titles and author appearances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Name is Marnie-in print at last

MarnieAvailable in print and Kindle, at long last I bring you, My Name is Marnie.

After the brutal, senseless murder of her husband, Marnie Clifford tries to pull the threads of her out-of-control life back together. She flees from her painful past and looks to start a new life in a small, ramshackle but affordable cottage in a remote idyllic New England town, in hopes of finishing out her pregnancy in peace. But something isn’t quite right with her new home- not with the cottage itself and its vague familiarity; not with her new neighbor, a disheveled wild-eyed man with a limp and questionable motives; and certainly not with her unsettling visitor…a silent, restless, and very dead little girl. As the spectre’s visits become more and more frequent, Marnie begins to unearth the horrible secret of the cottage. A secret better left buried deep… 

 

And here is what author Kealan Patrick Burke had to say about it: “As enthralling a spectral mystery as anything written by Jennifer McMahon, with My Name is Marnie not only has Tracy Carbone risen to the top of my writers-to-watch list, she has also ensured I will never look at dolls or apples the same way again. This one quite literally had me double-checking the doors and windows before bed, and I’m still not quite recovered. A well-written and unsettling piece of work that gets my highest recommendation.”

– Kealan Patrick Burke, Bram Stoker Award-winning
author of The Turtle Boy, Kin, and Jack & Jill.

Cover art by Elder Lemon Design

Published by Shadowridge Press

 

 

 

Drabble-Voodoo Doll and Evening Stroll

voodoll

Two more hundred word stories. Enjoy!

The Voodoo Doll

I stick sharp pins into the soft flesh and will the figure’s body to suffer. Again and again, piercing the skin. Into the heart to cause sadness. Careful jabs and slices on the leg to force the figure to feel. To feel pain. To feel anything at all.

Damn you, feel something!

A carefully placed needle into a hand, into a finger. But the doll does not react.

Rows and rows of pins embedded now, sad soldiers marching into an unwinnable battle.

Now the doll bleeds! People will notice. They will rescue the doll.

They will stop me from cutting.

 

DownloadedFileEvening Stroll

She feels his presence before she spins around and catches him leering. Buckled brown teeth and an uneven gait. A mind riddled with evil. “Spare a dollar,” he says. How long before he kidnaps a child? Before he tortures her? Before the courts fail to prove his guilt and release him to act again? She approaches with feigned kindness, and drives her expensive pen into his left eye, then his throat. The face of her remembered attacker transforms to that of an innocent homeless man. She hides the pen in her purse, shrugs, and resumes her walk to yoga class.

For more fiction by Tracy, please visit her AMAZON PAGE.

 

 

The Collection-a Great Review

This week I am highlighting The Collection and Other Dark Tales. I received a wonderful review that I want to share here. 

“Tracy Carbone has accomplished something that I was beginning to think would never be done. That is to say, her book “The Collection and other dark tales” rivals the short works of Roald Dahl, in my opinion. I’d read a collection of Dahl’s short stories many years ago and have never found another author whose work seemed to have the same undefinable magic as that which he infused into his stories. Then *BOOM*, along comes Tracy L Carbone who pulled it off… in spades. I devoured it like a slobbering ravenous pig, thoroughly masticating every tasty morsel and then I licked the plate. It was utterly delicious and I’m ready to see what she’s served up for desert.”

After those kindly words, there’s not much more I can add. Buy your copy now and see if you agree.

Collection cover 3

The NECon Line

neconWhen my daughter was born, one of the first things I did was draw a line on the wall to measure her height. Later we moved and I put another higher line in a new place. She was six when I bought that house. A year later I went to my first NECon. It was 2003.

Over the years, a lot has changed in my life. As she grew, I’d make her line higher. Some years she’d grow an inch or two, some years not at all. And with each year I attended NECon, my career grew a little. Some years the leap would be big, sometimes small.

When I attended my first NECon, brought by John McIlveen, I was terrified. I hated being away from home. The idea of meeting 200 strangers scared the hell out of me. But he brought me just the same. I roomed with him and his four daughters (this was back before the newest Mac, who is now 9). I’d never spent any time on a college campus before. Not one where I slept and ate in the cafeteria. I’ve been going to night school forever at Northeastern but this was different. I felt like this was my new home. That first night I spent the most time with Stan Waiter, Dallas Mayr, and then F. Paul Wilson. I think we played cards in John’s suite. I don’t know when I went to bed but it was really late. By the end of that weekend, I had so many new friends. When I arrived I had never published a single story, much less a book, though I’d been writing my whole life.

Another year rolled around, and another. My daughter’s lines on the wall got higher. Still no sales for me but I was meeting people, learning how to write better. I was randomly assigned to room with Rhodi Hawk, Lori Perkins, and later Jan Kozlowski who have become dear friends. Plus all the ones I friended all on my own. The list is too big. Paul Wilson and I started working on a project (The Proteus Cure) and that led me to Thrillerfest. And Thrillerfest led to me other Cons and friendships, like with Heather Graham (who made her way to us). I had more confidence suddenly. Enough to leave the bad relationship/short marriage I was in.

So I took my kid and left, sad that the marker lines on the wall were gone to me. We started new lines at this place when she was 11 and still pretty short. The week I left “him”, I sold my first story, then another (Doorways and All Hallows). I couldn’t wait to go to NECon and tell people. Back then Shocklines was our only outlet. I had a MySpace but could never warm up to it. But NECon was where all the real people were. 200 hugs. People who had met there, people you looked forward to meeting that you knew from Shocklines.

Over the years, I had a few relationships I’d rather forget. I published a kid’s book I’d rather forget. I’m sure many of us regret watching Headers that time in the auditorium. And there was that time we had to spend at Salve and I lost my car in the middle of the night because the campus was too big and confusing. There has been a lot of uncertainty in my life, a lot of change. But one of the biggest constants, one of the only constants, has been NECon. Year after year I’d show up, embarrassed that I was no longer with X (in the true algebraic sense, X is a variable). But it was okay. Lots of my old pals showed up with new wives or husbands.

This month was my 10th NECon (okay my ninth but it was 10 years ago I started). I’ve published 3 novels, a short story collection, a whole bunch of short stories in anthologies and magazines. Almost all my friends are writers. All the negative hurtful people in my life have been replaced by cool people who, one way or another, I can trace back to NECon. They say you can do it with Kevin Bacon but I’m willing to bet that everyone is probably just a few contacts removed from NECon. It has changed that many lives.

My daughter is 17 now and her height line is as high as it will go. She’s full grown. But I still go to NECon and each year there is growth. Emotional, professional. They say “Don’t forget where you came from.” NECon 33 reminded everyone of that.

We have all changed in the last ten years. People have married and divorced, babies have been born, our loved ones have passed. Careers have taken off. We’ve gone gray, and our legs have grown weary. And if you look at pictures from all the NECons, you can watch us all grow up. It’s like the line on the wall. A marker, a reminder of where we were before.

There is no way to say thank you enough, except maybe to make a toast, just like at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. Thank you Bob Booth for providing a place for us to come alive. To the richest man in town.

toast