Author Archives: Carla Norton

Defeating the Pink Gremlin

At a recent writers’ retreat, we were challenged to identify our “pink gremlins,” meaning those private obstacles to achieving our writing goals. Each person wrote silently for 20 minutes and then shared the results. (If you’ve never tried a timed writing exercise, it can be enlightening. Set the clock and write!) Each individual’s pink gremlin was distinct: fear, wordiness, etc. This was mine: “The trouble with trouble is that it starts out like fun.” Remember this the next time you set aside your manuscript and Continue reading →

Writing 101: The Mountain as Metaphor

Not many of us wake in the morning and think: “I’m going to climb Mt. Everest.” Ascending a twenty-nine-thousand-foot peak requires a skillset hardened by years of dedication and training. The same holds true for writing a book. It’s not done on a whim. You don’t cast a glance at the Toni Morrison novels on your bookshelf and think, “A Nobel Prize in Literature? Sure, I can do that.” Now, this metaphor might be a bit of a stretch, but I was thinking about it while Continue reading →

Awful Inspiration: War on the Page

The first war novel that truly moved me was Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. It’s a wrenching story, set in World War I, and I read it in my teens. Nonstop. Spellbound and aghast. How did Trumbo write such a powerful novel that it has stuck with me for all these years? Trumbo’s antiwar novel is set in motion by a sound, a ringing phone, a small detail that draws the reader into the story. Instead of launching into exposition, instead of describing the global Continue reading →

Wading into the Debate

It’s controversial, and some of you are going to be mad, but at the risk of offending sensibilities I feel compelled to take a stand on that age-old debate: dogs or cats? Now, I love them both—don’t get me wrong—but when it comes to storytelling, dogs make worthier subjects. Forgive me cat lovers. This isn’t to say that cats aren’t fascinating in real life. Cats are softer, and I might even argue that kittens are cuter than puppies. But on the page, dogs rule. Readers, Continue reading →