Monthly Archives: February 2011

Pear Flavored

I don’t have an e-reader and I thought I’d never want one but then at my husband’s work Christmas party they were handing out random gifts. I got lotion, the lady next to me got an e-reader. I almost fell out of my chair. Really? Really?

I have wanted one ever since. A free one. Not pear flavored.

Speaking of pear flavor, I don’t have a lot to say today. I am sort of in limbo on a few projects and I’m trying to get myself back into full writing mode. I had a big big big push over the holidays for the main novel I’ve been working on and now, as I wait for the next phase of that process, I am struggling to motivate myself to work on something else.

It’s weird how every single part of writing has its challenges: picking which idea to pursue, deciding if that was the wise choice, wondering if you are going the right direction in the draft, second-guessing the plot decisions or characters, finally getting a draft done after forcing yourself to write write write write (the hardest part of writing in my opinion) and then there’s revision . . . having others read your stuff, the agony of knowing the pain and sweat you’ve put into something is now sort of out in the world and you don’t know if you are excited or embarrassed or sick or why am I doing this again? And then you get feedback. Wonderful feedback.



Starting over. Not really but sort of. Because revision is just that re  vision. Not being afraid to tear the whole thing apart and rework it. Knocking things down, taking out characters, re-seeing the layout. There is so much.

Every part of it.

The thing that makes it all worth it is when you realize, holy crap, it’s really getting better. And better. And maybe worse. But then better. Like the lump of clay and you’ve been sculpting and adding to and taking away from and adding and so many hours and then you start over and it’s a lump again but you know where the lump is supposed to go and exhilarating when you finally know that. When you start to see something amazing emerge and the excitement of oh, okay, so this is a story. a story that I didn’t know but that I’m supposed to tell. Not what I thought in the beginning when I started, but even better.

The key is the patience. The patience to let the process evolve, take time, wear you down. I think writing a novel is also a lesson in learning to trust yourself.

Do I trust myself?

Can I do this?

Do I have the stamina to see it through to the beautiful beautiful end even if it takes me x amount of time?

Can I do this?

and we can.

We can.

I can.

Every book a new struggle. a new journey. a new whyohwhyamidoingthistomyself?

and it’s always worth it, don’t you think?


Filed under Uncategorized

Books and More Books

I’ve been thinking-ish.


Sweet Cheryl came to the house and brought her Kindle (or was it a Nook?). She thrust it at me. “You’ll love it, Carol,” she said. “Just try it. Just one toke. You’ll be addicted. I was.”

Okay–it wasn’t quite like that.

Holding the device didn’t make a believer out of me.


So–Here’s what I’ve been thinking-ish.


When I was a kid we had a googillion books.

Mom wanted to be a writer.

She taught English and creative writing.

There were books everywhere. Bookshelves FILLED with all kinds of literature.

While I remember lying on the floor in front of the heater with a Dick and Jane reader hating how I struggled over it (probably because of my mean first grade teacher), I also remember when I was finally a non-struggling reader and how I loved having all those books at my fingertips. So very physical. So tactile. Right there. Let me pull this out and hold the weight and see the beauty of the word on the page. Let me smell it, maybe flick a bug out of the pages, carry it to another room and pretend that I’m a witch and this is my spell book.

I started Tom Sawyer over about ten times and never finished. I did memorize the first few lines, however. And I loved Huckleberry Finn. Those were the only book for a younger reader in our house. Well, and The Marvelous Wizard of Oz. But there was plenty of Hemingway and Faulkner and Steinbeck and O’Connor and Shakespeare, if I wanted to just peek in and look things over. And I did.


Once while on my LDS mission I broke the reading rules (okay, I did it twice). I had a pretty awful companion (for five long rotten horrible terrible months) who drove me crazy. And I happened to find a book called Charlie written and pubbed for Latter-day Saints. We lived in a monstrous house (that was later invested with fleas, but not because of us) and whenever I had even one moment alone (which was hardly ever), I read Charlie while hidden in a closet.

There was something daring listening to my companion wander around that mansion calling and calling for me. And I sat in a small closet that she never thought to look in and read that book. I didn’t think it was great writing. But I did think that there was something awfully comforting holding that book in my hands. She never caught me, BTW, and I was able to heal a bit with that novel.


When I got back from my first semester at Vermont College I made an announcement. “I have to read for my homework.”

What a thrill! I could read all I wanted and it was legit.

I went to the library. I brought home about fifty or so books. Any that were for the middle grade audience and up, I read to  myself. All the rest I read out loud to my girls–those who would gather around me. I know at least Cait and Carolina were there. Can’t remember if Kyra sat in the room, too. The books were stacked everywhere. According to subject, and sometimes, size. We went through the titles, reading them all, savoring the pictures of the non-fiction and picture books, sharing the books between us, especially those non-fictions with life-size drawings of prehistoric life in them that have pages that fold out huge. By the time my school experience had come to a close, I read nearly 800 books. It should have been over 800. That was my goal. But it turns out I read a few books more than once and didn’t know it. And also one teacher asked me to read only ten books during one packet season and she wouldn’t let me count Twilight for more than one though, with the pain I felt reading it, she should have.

Wouldn’t that be cool to see  those novels, picture books, mid grade, early readers, massive goth books with too many words, books on science and etc all around me and the girls? Tons of books. Not as easy to carry as a Kindle. But, cool, to have them so close. To smell them, run our hands over the words. Try to copy the drawings or flip back to a favorite page to read something over.

(Tree Killer!)


When I was little Mom would sometimes drive us past the library in Sanford, Florida. Mom was not an avid library goer though she took us occasionally. I’m not sure why she didn’t visit the library more often. Maybe she was worried about fines. (Oh, we could talk about library fines!) Or maybe it’s because she didn’t have time and was putting herself through school.

“I smell books,” I would tell her as we drove past the red, brick building, the smell of the river in the air. And the smell of imagined books, too.

Once, she left me in the car with a novel. It was a Wizard of Oz sequel. I can’t remember the title. I was nine. I do remember that there was I was in the back of the station wagon, lying on a mattress to keep someone from stealing it. The back door on the car was down and I was on my stomach, holding that book, my long blond hair falling forward. My ankles were crossed. I remember this all because a newspaper reporter snapped a picture. The caption beneath the photo was wrong. It said I was waiting for my dad to come home from military service. By this time in my life I hadn’t seen my dad in years and I would see him only once when I was 12 and not again until I was 25. When asked, I left out the part about keeping the mattress from being stolen. I was just enjoying a book. I was so involved I hadn’t even heard the camera snap.

Have you been there?


My story of books starts early and goes right till this very second. I could talk about Mrs. Emery who loved stories and always told them to my fourth grade class. I could talk about the nun that screamed at me because I was so engrossed in reading about Helen Keller that I didn’t hear her tell me reading time was over. I could talk about Nana, who drove me to the library every time I wanted to go and let me check out the maximum number of books every time I visited her.

I won’t.

But I could.


There’s this really cool moment as a writer that I’m always surprised by. It’s when my own books are in the process of being printed. There are these fun steps that make the waiting for the final book not as hard. My editor will eventually send a cover so I can see what the book will look like. But the truth is, I am always working on another novel when that last book is completed. I’m not waiting around but pushing forward on the next novel to be written. I do have at least a year with it, after all, and I need to get going.

Then I get a package in the mail and I never expect it. The girls always gather around and I never let them open the package because I  love my mail but it is so cool when I pull my newest book from that envelope and the girls grab at it and I hold it up high and say, “Wait, wait, let me see first!” and then they take it and we hold my very own novel. My words! There in my hands! And the cover is so smooth and it’s cool to see the font and run our fingertips over the pages and look at the binding with the cover off.

It’s a heavy sign of satisfaction. And a lot of grinning. It is.


I’m okay with only being able to hold a few books at a time.  While I want 1500 books in my library (okay–I have way, way, way more than that) I don’t need to carry them around with me.


I may change my mind about electronic books. But the mind-changing is a long way off.

For me, there is too much that’s sexy in the actual book itself and a little hand-held computer thingie doesn’t have that appeal.

Yes, I’m old. I know it. But I am okay with this part of aging.



Filed under Uncategorized

Guest Blogger: Lucinda Felix

I remember a long while back Ann Dee saying something about Carol being scary.  Whatever, I thought.  Carol’s not scary.  I loves her.  She’s kind and generous (and focusing on this part) and someone I tell way too much personal information to.

Then at last June’s Conference I said something to her and she LOOKED at me.  I mean, ripped my skin off with her eyeballs and said, “Lucinda, you are not a good liar.”  Holy Secondary Swearing I wanted to run away and cry in a corner.  And this is also the first time she’s hearing this story.  Ha ha… eh… hmm.

So I’ve been writing.  Cuz apparently that’s the only way to get a daggum book finished.  But every time I read through the beginning I wanted to go in and ask the Dr. for heavier prescriptions.  (Your name has to be Carol for me to divulge which prescriptions.  See first paragraph.)  It was the whole antiquated beat my head against the wall, see the forest through the trees and if a tree falls and you’re underneath it…

Send those pages to Carol, I thought.  And also did.  Great idea.  Such a good idea.  She’ll help me. This is the best idea ever.  Aww, all is right in the world.  Except crap.  Oh crap.  I just hit send.  They’re on their way.  Those pathetic pages.  She’s going to read them.  And they suck.  Suck like if a Hoover vacuum was the size of Hoover Dam, suck.  My life is over.  She’ll hate it.  Who’s stupid idea was this?

Then the email came back.  I wanted to open it as much as I wanted to contract asbestos related mesothelioma.  Besides feeling like my guts were kicked sideways, it wasn’t so bad.  Actually, I love being critiqued.  But it was a hard week, okay?  I was feeling a little vulnerable.  Lay off already.

It basically said this, “Slow down.”

What?  You mean if I’m writing emotional angst that I don’t have to have the pacing of The Hunger Games?

But here’s the thing.  It’s EXACTLY what I needed to hear.  John Bennion, whom A.E. Cannon refers to as, The Lone Man in Eden, recently wrote a lovely piece about voice.  Pacing is a big part of our voice.  My strengths were there in those nasty ugly disjointed pages.  But I had crowded out my poetic soul.  I lost my character in my push to move.

Once I allowed myself to breathe and feel the moment, the changes felt natural.  I released the tightly wound editorial voices in my head and stepped back into my characters skin.  And now I have a 6 figure contract.  Okay, not that part, but writing feels good again.  And having that second email come back from Carol with the word, “Excellent” attached to it is worth more than anything I can count in my pocket book.

There is a lot of information out there on how to be a better writer.  I say, stay open, listen, let your guts get kicked sideways, because someone or something is going to speak to you when you’re ready.  We all have a voice.  We write because we have the audacity to think we have something worth saying.  And we do.  And there are people like me waiting for you to say something in the only way that can reach me.


Filed under Uncategorized

Today is NOT Thursday

I’ve been having the hardest time remembering the days.

Thought yesterday was Tuesday.


Went to bed thinking I had one more day to grade mid-terms.

Forgot to put out the garbage.


But today IS writing exercise day. So here you go:

Take three  characters from your novel. Write about each of them–something that may NOT even go in your book–by having them (ah, you know what I mean) each complete this beginning,

“I remember . . . ”

What we want you to remember (not sure if the day is important for you or not) is to include sense of place, something of a plot, and perhaps find out a few things about your characters and why they are the way they are.


Sound good?

Have fun.



Filed under Uncategorized