birthday memories · Life experiences · Writer · YA Author

Pierced Ears, Blue Shoes, and a Punch to the Gut

It’s Lakewater Press’s 2nd birthday, so to help celebrate my awesome publisher’s big day, we have been asked to share our favorite birthday memories.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m naked without my earrings.  And I’m not a studs girl. What’s the point of wearing something you can barely see? I’m a “the bigger the better” hoops girl.

hoop earrings

So my most memorable birthday is my 14th, the day I anticipated from the time I was little—the day I could join the throng of girls with pierced ears.  In my eyes, earrings were a symbol of maturity, beauty, and a little defiance too. Putting holes in one’s body was still considered taboo to many people, a downright sin to others. But I didn’t care what other people thought, this was my right-of-passage to endless ear fashion, and I couldn’t wait.

Lucky for me, my 14th birthday fell on a weekday, so Mom took me to the mall the weekend before to indulge in some early birthday shopping and to receive the present I had waited for my whole life. Not only was I getting my ears pierced, the coveted act was happening four days early. The anticipation I felt while I sat in the chair, waiting for “the gun”  piercing gunto shoot a piercing stud through my lobes, rivaled any Christmas morning. I was gonna rock those earrings, right along with my 80s hair and Levi’s 501, buttonfly jeans. Life was good.

Waltzing in the door to my home, I never felt prettier. I had on new blue flats, just like my older sister’s, a new outfit in a bag, and bling in my earlobes. I tucked my hair behind my ears, strode up the stairs to the upper level, and was met by a glaring sister. She took one look at my shoes and punched me in the gut.

punched in the gut

“Get those off,” she cried. “I never gave you permission to wear my shoes.”

With tears streaming down my cheeks, I clutched my stomach and yelled that these were my shoes, just bought for my birthday.

She took one look at my ears and glared. “Well that’s what you get for getting your ears pierced early.”

I don’t remember if she got into trouble, but she definitely felt justice was served. The pain was worth it. I had joined the ranks of women all over the world who donned glorious earrings. My life would forever be changed, my lobes forever decorated in metallic glory.birthday cake



Happy birthday to me! And a very special happy birthday to Lakewater Press!



Rebecca Carpenter

Author of the award winning YA, Butterfly Bones


Writer · writing, grammar, and punctuation · YA Author

Utilizing Stronger Verbs (aka: Show Don’t Tell)

Stronger verbs. Do they really matter? I’ll take a commonly used one, LOOK, and provide some examples of how a strong verb lifts up the story, while weak verbs add nothing—holding down a potentially great scene.

So, what’s the big deal with look? I mean, we all look at stuff. We look down. We look up. We look over our shoulder. We look at people. We look at everything. That’s how we take in a good portion of information to our brain—through looking. So why should we use other words to fluff up something that’s so common? Because how we look at something and why we look at something helps paint a picture, therefore creating conflict and mood for an unforgettable scene. But this can’t be accomplished with the word “looked.”

Let’s start with how we look at something. mirror

“She looked through the crack in the door” provides nothing to the scene and doesn’t create a clear picture. But replace “looked” with a stronger verb, and the sentence comes alive. “She peered through the crack in the door.” The latter gives a clearer picture of the character leaning in, her eye close to the crack, and creates tension. What’s outside the door? What’s going on that has her too scared to just poke out her head? Peered is much stronger, and shows how she looked through the crack in the door instead of just telling the reader she looked through the crack in the door.

“June looked at her mother.” This sentence tells us nothing about the scene, nothing about June’s mood or the relationship between June and her mom. But if I replace “looked” with a stronger verb, the scene comes alive. “June glared at her mother.” The reader can automatically assume June is upset with her mom, something we couldn’t have determined from the weaker verb of “looked.”

“Nicky looked through the curtains.” Again, a plain scene with nothing to hint at what’s going on. “Nicky peeked through the curtains.” This gives a clear picture of the character standing close to the curtains, but not wanting to be seen, she remains hidden behind the curtains.

The next step is to determine why we look at something. This one provides a reason to “look.”  monster

“Footfalls pounded from behind. Mike looked over his shoulder and ran.” While the footsteps set up the scene for something sinister, the word “looked” adds nothing to the tension. “Footfalls pounded from behind. Mike glanced over his shoulder and ran.” To glance at something means to make sudden, quick movements. From the definition we can conclude that whatever is behind Mike is horrible enough to make him run with only a quick sighting.

“Blood gushed from Coltin’s hand. The doctor looked at the wound and determined he needed surgery.” Again, we have a nice setup, but fall short of a vivid scene. “Blood gushed from Coltin’s hand. The doctor examined the wound and determined he needed surgery.” “Examined” offers a clearer picture of how in depth the doctor went to make the determination.

Now don’t get me wrong. It’s perfectly fine to use “looked” on occasion, but when a stronger verb can show instead of tell, that’s when I recommend changing it out.

But how do we know which words to use? To help you with this, I compiled a list of synonyms to use instead of “looked.” I also included synonyms for “looks like” and “walked” which are also commonly overused in manuscripts.

So search through those manuscripts and switch out those generic verbs that don’t add to the story. Words matter. Make each one count.

Rebecca Carpenter is a copy editor for Kate Foster Professional Editing and for Lakewater Press. Her first novel, Butterfly Bones, a young adult contemporary science fiction, came out in Nov. of 2016. The sequel, Butterfly Blood, is scheduled to be released in 2018.     043017_0006_1.jpg


Synonyms for Looked                                          



















Pore over













Synonyms for Looked Like

Resembles         Mocks

Mirrors              Betrays

Reflects             Parallels

Implies              Reverberates

Reveals             Notifies

Echoes              Proclaims

Parodies            Exposes

Pretends            Reiterates

Refers               Proposes

Feigns               Emulates

Suggests           Offers

Assumes           Commends

Poses                Signifies

Hints                 Represents

Simulates          Tells

Mentions           Broadcasts

Mimics              Communicates














Synonyms for Walked  


Ambled                                                          Parades

Foot it                                                            Scurries

Darts                                                              Loiters

Hoofs it                                                          Lumbers

Bounced                                                         Lurches

Clumps                                                          Sashays

Mince                                                            Plods

Leg it                                                            Parade

Roam                                                            Pads

Peregrinate                                                     Limps

Power Walk                                                   Gimps

Pussyfoot                                                       Flounces

Shamble                                                         Dances

Stalked                                                           Boots

Step                                                               Barges

Tiptoes                                                          Strutted

Sneaks                                                           Skipped

Marched                                                        Wandered

Strolled                                                          Rambled






















giveaway · science fiction · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

Thankful-for-Readers Giveaway #sundayblog #yalit #giveaway

Thankful-for-Readers Giveaway  turkey 1



This November, I’m again reminded of all the things I’m thankful for.

My husband. My children. My grandchildren. All my family. Friends. Home. Service Dogs. Pets. The mountains. My job. My faith. The scent of fresh rain after a storm. The satisfaction that comes from hard work. My love for writing and the written word. Books. Having a book published and another coming soon. The list goes on and on.

But today, I’m especially grateful for the readers who purchased my book, for all who left me a review on Goodreads and Amazon, and for the readers who’ve yet to meet (and hopefully fall in love with) Bethany and Jeremiah.

So to say thank you for the amazing people that you are, I’m giving away a signed copy of Butterfly Bones with swag and a $20 Amazon gift card on Thanksgiving Day.

How do you enter to win? Simply follow me on Facebook, Twitter, my blog, or Instagram, and post a GIF of a turkey, or if you already follow me, instant message me on Facebook or DM me on Twitter and tell me how Bethany spends her Thanksgiving (from the story), and I’ll enter you into a drawing for the prize.

May the best turkey win!

Gobble, gobble, gobble!                     turkey

Rebecca’s social media links and buy link for Amazon

Twitter handle: @Carpenterwrites

Also available at Barnes and Noble


Happiness · Life experiences · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

My First Year as a Traditionally Published Author

A First-Time Published Author’s Year-in-Review


November. One year ago my young adult contemporary science fiction, Butterfly Bones, was released to the world. It was one of the highlights of my life. I had worked toward the goal of becoming a traditionally published author, as well as revised and perfected my book, for five years. The rush that followed was a tidal wave of adrenaline and pure happiness. I had an amazing launch party at our local botanical gardens and butterfly house. A few days later I sat in Barnes & Noble for a book signing. The sky was the limit.

But then another book signing fell through—and then a date to speak with teens at a local school library was canceled. Nothing my fault. Just a conflict of schedules. My hopes weren’t crushed. I had many more opportunities to look into. But between my sixty-hour-a-week day job and the reality that due to state regulations I have to be in my classroom at all times, my opportunities dwindled—right along with my spirit.

That’s okay. I can move to social media. I can turn this around.

In came a wonderful publicist to help, hired by the press that signed me. The woman had wonderful, proven ideas: blog monthly; set up a newsletter for followers; interact on Face Book, Twitter, and Instagram; Look for any opportunities to swap blogs with other writers and do promotional giveaways; Enter my book into contests; Set up an Amazon author profile, as well as one on Goodreads; Interact with people on those sites; Create an author brand; The list went on and on.

At first I tried to do it all. I busted my butt as much as I possibly could, even having the publicist comment several times what a great job I was doing, but I couldn’t keep up with everything, and slowly, little by little, I gave up on everything. I was a failure. And with that failure came depression—the worst I’ve ever experienced in my life.

But that’s not the worst of it.

Not only do I work 60 hours a week, I also work part time as a copy editor and do the final edits on all books coming through the press, and I was writing my second book in the series. On top of that, I have a spouse who is in poor health and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. But that’s still not the worst of it.

In my drive to sell myself and my book, I became bitter and cold—pushing aside my husband, my children, and my beautiful grandchildren—all because I was “too busy.”

The depression settled even deeper. I found myself in a black hole, choking, sputtering for any semblance of a life—of happiness. I no longer liked who I was. Even my husband said I had changed.

And he was right.

At rock bottom, I determined the only way to find myself again was to step back from everything and reevaluate my life goals, separating the things of most value from those of least importance. It was during this process that I was slapped across the face with a “Ghandi” moment: I’m the hero of my own story. I determine my own happiness.

With this newfound outlook, I created a plot twist. I put my family where they need to be—first. I lessened the amount of copyediting jobs that I’m taking on each month, and I try not to feel guilty about turning down opportunities if they aren’t right for me and my family.  I still have a long way to go with marketing myself, but I decided in order for me to move forward without becoming “overwhelmed” again, I’m going to take one thing at a time.  And I’m not going to punish myself for what I can’t do.

The most important thing an author can do to sell more books, is write more books. So that’s my focus. The rest will fall into place.

So have I had a stellar year of book sales, and did I become a famous author? Not even close. But I did find myself along the road, tattered and beaten, and I pulled myself up, brushed myself off, and now I’m moving in the right direction. The journey might be slow, the path difficult, but it’s my journey—my story.  Baby steps. And I’m totally fine with that. #writer #writerslife #sundayblog #amwriting #yalit


science fiction · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

Music’s Influence and Bethany’s Playlist

Music. It moves me. Annoys me. Makes me want to get up and dance. Helps me to sleep.

And sometimes it speaks to me–opening the valve and unleashing a river of creativity. When writer’s block hits and I’m stuck, the right kind of music can be a muse of sorts, unlocking scenes which had previously eluded me.

Butterfly Bones was no different. To set the mood of a teenager, I turned to current music, often listening to Breaking Benjamin, Hurt, Flawed, Underwhelmed, Blue October, and a favorite from my teen years, The Cure.

Music is my friend–my co-writer.

Bethany’s “Official” Playlist for Butterfly Bones



After hashing it out, Bethany told me this was her playlist, and she didn’t want a play-by-play for the book, but rather a collection of favorites pulled together from Bethany, her father, Dr. Keatley, and of course, Jeremiah.

Starred songs are directly linked to the book. Song picks rotate in order starting with Bethany, then her dad, and last Jeremiah.

“I couldn’t begin the playlist any other way than with the song that started it all—the song that brought my character to life—CATERPILLAR.” –Bethany Keatley

*Caterpillar – THE CURE –All Mixed Up

She Blinded Me with Science – Thomas Dolby

With You – Underwhelmed

*Timber – Pit Bull and Kei$ha

Silent Lucidity – Queensryche

Curses – Bullet for My Valentine

*Broken – Seether (featuring Amy Lee)

Thunderstruck – AC/DC

Into the Nothing – Breaking Benjamin

*I’m Too Sexy – Right Said Fred

Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townsend

Staring At It – Safety Suit

*Apologize – One Republic

Missing You – John Waite

Lifeline – Papa Roach

Escape – Kongos

*Always Something There to Remind Me – Naked Eyes

Without You – Breaking Benjamin

*Best Day of My Life – American Authors

*Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd

Country Song – Seether

*Suffocate – Cold

Under Pressure – Queen

One Thing – Filter

*Lights Out – Breaking Benjamin

Forever and Always – Bullet for My Valentine

Dig – Incubus

*Rain – Breaking Benjamin

Our House – Madness

Something in Myself – Underwhelmed

*Sound of Silence – Disturbed

Start Over – No Love Lost

*Something’s Gotta Give – One Republic

*Learning to Fly – Pink Floyd

Hanging by a Moment – Lifehouse

*Dear Agony – Breaking Benjamin



*Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!

Instagram: rcarpenterauthor

Twitter: @Carpenterwrites

If you’d like to read or buy Butterfly Bones, here’s the link:








Life experiences · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

New Year’s Resolutions and Other Stupid Ideas

Everywhere I look, people are blogging and posting about their New Year’s resolutions and goals. Through some unforeseen alien force, even I was sucked into the Twitterverse and brainwashed into tweeting my 2017 writing goals. And I must admit—it looks super sparkly all typed out and pretty like that. But overall, my general feelers about making New Year’s resos are… blah, blah, blah.  Not because I think it’s stupid, but because I know me.

I make ‘em.img_4478

I break ‘em.

Every. Dang. Time.

I  have good intentions—I want to accomplish my goals—but life always gets in the way. And life can be stupid.

Whoever said being an adult is awesome should be shot.

No matter how much I juggle or rearrange responsibilities, or cut out sleep, there just isn’t enough time in the day. And in the next few weeks I’ll be adding more to my overflowing plate of responsibilities–a  college class (maybe I’m the stupid one).

So why make New Year’s resos?

Why set myself up to fail?

Because setting goals isn’t stupid, it’s a worthy investment in myself and helps me to focus on priorities. Regardless of whether or not I meet the goals—at least I’m trying. And honestly, sometimes the process is more important than the product—the journey than the destination. Because whether or not I reach that “big pot of goal” at the end of the rainbow, I’m developing habits along the way which will last a lifetime.

Maybe I won’t finish a book this year (don’t worry Butterfly Bones readers, it’s just an analogy). But If I’m writing daily, whether ten words or ten thousand,  I’m honing my skills, practicing craft, becoming a stronger writer, and I will eventually complete the story.

So will I meet all my goals for 2017?

Probably not. But I sure the heck am going to enjoy the journey.

So buckle up, 2017. Let’s go for a ride!

Butterfly Bones, available at and Barnes & Noble.

Author Page for Rebecca Carpenter


My Books

new release · science fiction · Uncategorized · Writer · YA Author · YA Book · YA contemporary science fiction · young adult · young adult novel

The Birth of a Novel: Butterfly Bones

The Birth of a Novel: Butterfly Bones


Five years ago, while listening to The Cure, a song called “Caterpillar” came on.Eating Caterpillar I’d heard this song a million times. But for some reason, this time the music and lyrics spoke to me. The title of a book emerged: THE CATERPILLAR GIRL. Before I knew it, the idea for a short story revealed itself.

The earliest version depicted a bullied teen girl with a rare bone disease getting revenge on her tormentors. Blood and gore were at the forefront. So I grabbed a notebook and jotted down my ideas. BETHANY KEATLEY, the MC, crawled from the ashes of my imagination and evolved into a 3-D character. And it wasn’t long before I molded and breathed life into JEREMIAH WRIGHT, Bethany’s best friend and love interest. Along with many other characters, the story flickered to life.

scary pics

I characterized and plotted until I knew every detail about my characters and the story I wanted to tell. Time to write the novel.


But something strange happened.


No matter how hard I tried, Bethany refused to star in a horror novel. Instead, she pushed me to pen her story—a journey through great loss, tremendous change, and the harsh reality that Mother Nature and Father Time can’t be cheated.mother nature

About a month later, I finished the short story. But Bethany still wasn’t happy. I hadn’t told her whole story—not the way she wanted me to. So I set the story aside and listened to my character.

Her wants. Her needs. Her weaknesses. Her strengths. Her story.

Soon, the short story morphed into a full novel, just over eighty thousand words. But that wasn’t the end.

After suggestions from contest mentors, I rewrote the beginning, switched the POV from third to first person, and changed the tense from past to present. The changes allowed me to see holes in the story where I hadn’t before and to make Bethany’s journey even stronger. Like my MC, my story experienced metamorphosis.butterfly1.jpg

Fast forward to signing with Lakewater Press; the editor, Kate Foster, asked me how I felt about a title change. My heart dropped and a lump formed in my throat. No way. The title had always been The Caterpillar Girl—the title had inspired the book.

But as Kate threw out ideas and BUTTERFLY BONES was born, I replayed the suggested title over and over in my head, as well as reciting it out loud—growing fonder of the change with every pass over my tongue.

And then it hit me. BUTTERFLY BONES had a double meaning.MP900444860

  1. Butterflies are fragile, yet tough as hell, and so is my MC.
  2. Since her bones are strengthened from butterfly DNA, Bethany literally has “butterfly bones.”

And that was it. I agreed to the title change and haven’t looked back.

And how does Bethany feel about the change?

She thinks it’s the shizz—freaking shizz-tastic!image