Check This Out: Charlotte Cuts It Out

Yes, today is the day that I reveal the winners of The Lost Celt. (Click here, if you’re totally confused by that sentence.) But first, please help me greet the still fabulous Kelly Barson, who is back on the blog to talk about her latest contemporary young adult novel, Charlotte Cuts It Out. This book was published by Viking this past April. If you are a regular follower of this blog, you might remember Kelly from this interview a few years ago when her first novel debuted.

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Kelly is represented by Sara Crowe. Click here to read a synopsis of Charlotte Cuts It Out. We’ll wait till you return. You’re back? Just in time to hear some good news. One of you will win a copy of this book. Now, let’s talk to Kelly.

El Space: Four quick facts about yourself?
Kelly: 1. I’m a grandmother.
2. I—well, my family really—collect antique steam tractors.
3. I’m left-handed and can write in mirror image, like Leonardo Da Vinci.

4. I’m an INFJ who married an ESTP six months and one day after our first date.

El Space: I don’t think I’ve seen a book recently where a teen pursues a vocation. Very refreshing! So, what inspired you to write Charlotte Cuts It Out? I couldn’t help thinking of someone I know who participated in the cosmetology program of her high school. She’s out of high school now and working at a salon in my area.
Kelly: My daughter was a high school cos student. She’s now working as a stylist. Out of my four kids, only one went to college. The other three work in the trades, and each of them got their training while still in high school. Trades are viable career options, and they’re often misrepresented, if presented at all.


El Space: What were the challenges and joys of creating a character like Charlotte, who really seems to know her own mind?
Kelly: Charlotte was both fun and challenging to write. Her sass was fun to write, but the annoying parts of her often mirror my own nature, so that was weird/interesting. The hard part was allowing her to be herself while still trying to present her as somewhat likeable, so readers care. Was I successful? That depends on the reader, I guess. My critical thesis at VCFA was on unlikeable protagonists, but that didn’t make writing one any easier.

El Space: If Charlotte had to create a style palate for Michelle Obama, what would she do first and why?
Kelly: This is hard because Michelle Obama doesn’t really need style help. She is already fierce and awesome. Charlotte (and I) would love to see her hair in its natural curl. She typically has it straightened with a flat iron, and it always looks fabulous, but she could mix it up a bit by going natural now and then. As for colors, she looks amazing in bright jewel tones. She and Barack are a stunning couple who can light up a room. No need to hide that. Her makeup is usually understated and accentuates her beautiful features, which is perfect for her. Oh, man, I’m going to miss her in the White House!


El Space: If you had a chance to name a nail polish color, what name would you choose?
Kelly: This is easy. I did this in Charlotte: Iridescent Iris!

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El Space: What’s the best writing tip you’ve heard recently?
Kelly: This tip is from the prolific Cori McCarthy (AKA Cori McAwesome): Plot, but then don’t be beholden to it. Cori plots out her books, but isn’t afraid to let the story evolve how it needs to and change the outline as needed. She is fearless.

El Space: What are you working on next?
Kelly: I have several works-in-progress. One is another YA project about a girl and her sister who live with their hoarding grandmother. Another is a dual-POV story that takes place in 1976 and explores affirmative action. I worked on this at VCFA with Rita [Williams-Garcia]. I’m also working on a MG Christmas story. Then there are the stories that are still marinating in my brain space.

Good to have you as my guest, Kelly!

You can find Kelly at her website, Twitter, and Facebook. Charlotte Cuts It Out can be found here:

Barnes and Noble

Do you know someone who pursued a trade, rather than attending a liberal arts college? Comment below to be entered in a drawing to win a copy of Charlotte Cuts It Out. (Please comment, even if you don’t know someone.)

Now let’s get to the winners of The Lost Celt by A. E. Conran.

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Those winners are

Andy of City Jackdaw

and . . .

and . . .

and . . .

Penny of Life on the Cutoff!

Congrats to the winners. Please comment below to confirm. The winner of Charlotte Cuts It Out will be announced on June 13.

Author photo by Hal Folk. Book covers from Goodreads. Michelle Obama photo from Iris image from Nail polish photo from Pinterest. Da Vinci mirror writing image from Cosmetology student photo from

51 thoughts on “Check This Out: Charlotte Cuts It Out

  1. My daughter loves ‘Iridescent Iris’ and wants to know where she can get some from!
    Yay The Lost Celt! Great news to come home to (been to Wales with the kids for a few days). Celtic country!

  2. Congratulations, Kelly! I’m looking forward to reading your new book! And excellent advice as always from Cori. I once outlined a book so carefully that I felt as though I’d already written it. Needless to say, it never got written.

    • The only time a book I heavily plotted worked was when I had three protagonists. I really needed to keep a tight grip on where everyone was, plot-wise. But I heavily plotted my current book, and am having to almost totally rewrite due to agent feedback.

  3. Love that advice about plot. I remember a lot of the authors I went to school with would refuse to budge from the original plan. Made things clunky and unnatural. This is probably a phase we all go through until we finally surrender to the muse.

    • I can understand the desire to stick to the plan. When I don’t feel like rewriting, I might stick like glue to what I’ve plotted. But I generally find that eventually the plan, like so many things in life, needs to be revised.

  4. Congrats to Kelly on her new book! I enjoyed the interview. Being able to write in mirror image is amazing. I completely agree with Cori’s advice on plotting. The story needs room to evolve and go where it needs to go. Love that iridescent iris!

  5. Not entering the giveaway, L Marie, ‘cos a) Scotland and b) too many books! But I just had to say how refreshing to hear of a book written about someone who hasn’t followed the college route for a change. There’s a big push over here to try to convince kids that trades are just as important and rewarding as more academic kinds of job.

    • Okay. I understand. Your TBR list is quite amazing.
      I agree about the trades. Students already have a leg up on the job market. The former cos kid is usually pretty booked in the hair salon.

  6. Here’s to going with the flow . . . whether we’re writing / revising the plot or just deciding how best to live life!

    It’s great when we feel free to be who we want to be ~> rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, indian chief, cosmologist, astrologist, astronomist, astronaut, physicist, taoist, buddhist, manicurist, plumber, mechanic, etc.

    Thanks for another fun interview and giveaway, Linda.

    • Glad to do it, Nancy. And I agree that we need to be free to be who we are, especially if doing so means you’re living up to your potential. 🙂

  7. Wow! I’m delighted to be the recipient of “The Lost Celt”. Thank you, and forgive me for taking so long to get to your post, L. Marie. Busy times here. Since I have just be a winner, please omit my name for another win – I want to give someone else a chance.

    What an interesting interview with Kelly and learning about “Charlotte Cuts It Out”. Thank you for writing about choices other than college, and yes, I know quite a few folks who did not attend college, went into a trade, and are or have done very well. My own hairstylist and her best friend became hair stylists/cosmetologists as soon as they graduated high school. They bought a shop right after they graduated, borrowing money and having support from family, they have prospered.
    A young man I know decided to go to culinary school and he is now a chef.

    Kelly, I have a good friend who can also write in mirror image. It’s always fascinated me.

  8. “Plot, but then don’t be beholden to it.” Very sensible advice.

    With the protagonist I’m working on now, I find myself jumping back and forth between worrying that she isn’t likable enough and worrying that she doesn’t have enough faults and problems. Oh, well. I shouldn’t overthink it.

    • I know what you mean, Nicki. I have a similar dilemma. The best advice someone gave is to make the secondary characters work for you in that regard. They can help bring out that character’s faults or strengths.
      But I know what you mean. Sometimes, I overthink things.

    • I’m glad to do it, ReGi. A four-year liberal arts degree isn’t always a viable option for some. I love that high schools offer this type of program.

  9. Pingback: It’s the Journey | El Space–The Blog of L. Marie

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