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Melissa DeCarlo      

Author, "The Art of Crash Landing"

Melissa DeCarlo was born and raised in Oklahoma City. Growing up she wanted to be a writer, an artist, and actress, and one of those people wearing bright yellow helmets who get to climb telephone poles. Then one day she looked around and discovered that she was all grown-up with a degree in computer science and working in an office where she had to wear panty hose every day.

"The Art of Crash Landing" tells the story of Mattie Wallace. Broke and knocked up, she's got all her worldly possessions crammed into six giant trash bags, and nowhere to go. Try as she might, Mattie can no longer deny that she really is turning into her mother, a broken alcoholic who never met a bad choice she didn't make. When Mattie gets news of a possible inheritance left by a grandmother she's never met, she jumps at this one last chance to turn things around. Leaving the Florida Panhandle, she drives 800 miles to her mother's birthplace -- the tiny town of Gandy, Oklahoma. There, she soon learns that her mother remains a local mystery -- a happy, talented teenager who inexplicably skipped town thirty-five years ago with nothing but the clothes on her back. But the girl they describe bears little resemblance to the damaged woman Mattie knew, and before long it becomes clear that something terrible happened to her mother, and it happened here. The harder Mattie digs for answers, the more obstacles she encounters. Giving up, however, isn't an option. Uncovering what started her mother's downward spiral might be the only way to stop her own.

Sometimes in life, as in the best stories, do-overs are possible. DeCarlo now lives in East Texas with her husband and a motley crew of rescue animals. She learned how to paint and sculpt and has worked as a freelance writer, grant writer and graphic designer. She's even done a little acting in community theater.

A few of DeCarlo's favorite things are: reading, writing, making art, hanging out with her husband and their awesome grown-up kids, and watching that YouTube video of the goat that sings like Usher. "The Art of Crash Landing" is her first novel, but some of her short fiction and essays have appeared in print and online literary magazines.

After she managed to break her foot climbing a flight of stairs, she decided that climbing telephone poles was probably a bad idea. She no longer even owns a pair of panty hose.


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Speech Topics

What Studying Visual Art Taught Me About Writing

Reading About Writing: A Discussion of Some of My Favorite Writing How-To-Books

She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not: The Joys and Pitfalls of Unreliable and Occasionally Unlikable Narrators

Singing in the Lifeboats: Writing the Funny-Serious Story

Confessions of a Late Bloomer: Being a Debut Novelist at Fifty-Something

Truth In Fiction: Do We Write What We Know, or Who We Are?

Story Structure: How Scenes Are Like Legos Except It Hurts Less If You Step On One

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