Book Jacket


rank 904
word count 18944
date submitted 04.06.2010
date updated 20.07.2014
genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Popular Cultu...
classification: moderate

Fossil Farm

Joanna Carter

My nostrils filled with the smells of age and disinfectant and overboiled cabbage, and I knew that I had truly discovered the meaning of fear.


Everything in Seth's life is a disaster. His plan to get closer to the girl of his dreams has gone horrendously wrong, school couldn't get much worse and his father is threatening to chain him to a factory floor.
His plan to win over the fair Harmony results in having to serve time at the Happy Hours Rest Home, aka Fossil Farm. Here he meets Ellen, who has secrets locked deep in her past, and Billie, who goes to his school but may as well live on a different planet. She's stroppy, smart-mouthed and annoying - plus, she's a friend of his brainiac sister Rachel.
Things start to look up when Ellen agrees to help him make a documentary about her life as a teenager for his history assignment, but in Seth's world nothing good seems to last for long - in standing up for Billie he makes a dangerous enemy, and his dream date with Harmony turns out nothing like he could have imagined. In helping Ellen tell the story of her life, while attempting to survive the chaos of his own, Seth learns about love, loss, friendship and the right way to handle mice.

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, aging, coming of age, friendship, humour, love, rest homes, romance, sibling rivalry, young adult

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Raymond Terry wrote 1475 days ago

I know...I saw the incomplete tag when I started and I have only myself to blame that I am now at the end of chapter 10 and there is nothing more to read...

I will say though that in those few chapters you have managed to capture a moment perfectly. Strange that you seem to know so much about teenage boys since your name leads me to believe that you are a woman but you do. I can say that with some authority having once been a fifteen year old boy and in many ways, like so many grown men still am. We all see ourselves just as the old man in the wheelchair does and that is not altogether a bad thing.

Seth is likable and I want nothing so much as to reach through the screen and tell him, 'There will always be bullies, there will always be girls you cannot get and girls that you should be getting to know better. Families are families and we all have idiosyncrasies, faults, hopes and desires that we cannot ever adequately express.Just be yourself...' but Seth seems to be discovering that self as I leave him here.

I think that your writing is very good. I enjoyed your story and your characters and if I have one regret let it be that I never did learn here just how to handle mice. RT

JohnnyVee wrote 1462 days ago

What a voice! Rare to see a narrative so finely tuned to its intended audience. Story comes through vividly, in fact, it leaps from the page. From word choice to sentence structure, to rhythm and flow, to paragraph and scene structure, to tension stretch and release, to dialogue, to carefully chosen observations - the end product is an absolute joy to read - truly captivating. You simply have it all. Well done!

MikeAlexander wrote 1466 days ago

I've just had a very enjoyable afternoon reading all ten chapters. This is one of the most original pieces I've read on the site: humorous - The disappointment of Mr & Mrs Hitler (Snr); and very touching - "That is me." The writing flows, the storyline is compelling and engaging from the outset.

Tiny threads give a glimpse into the lives of other characters, but is always interesting and never in a way which confuses or detracts from the plot. Really, really, great stuff.

Bocri wrote 1514 days ago

09 June 2010
The enigmatic opening line ensnared me immediately and I found the remainder of the passage deliciously witty - smoothly underplayed humour revealing the author's undoubted ability to write Thurberesque prose. And to name the rest home 'Fossil Farm' is nothing short of hilarious and impudent but is indicative of the creative comedic talent behind this work. The narrator's natural exhuberance and youth comes through clearly together with his aptitude for devising unsuccessful projects. Loved it. BACKED. Robert Davidson. The Tuzla Run.

Anthony Brady wrote 1503 days ago


Joanna - Do I like your book? No! I love it! Did I skim it briefly? No! I read every word of the 10 Chapters posted and experienced the whole gamut of emotions - not from A-B - but all the way from A-Z. To echo the poet Philip Larkin: "On me your voice falls like they say love should - with an enormous YES!" Seth is an enthralling character and my interest in following him was magnetic. In him you combine pathos, poignancy, sentiment, humour, teenage angst and growing sexual awareness in a compelling blend of the best possible sort of characterisation that anyone in the target readership will rave about. I would willingly overdose on its hypnotic power to fascinate and amuse. Your eye for background detail is acute and your character's reflective episodes are revelatory and resonate with the truth of their inner life. The interplay between youth and age in the Rest Home is balanced most sensitively between respect for the residents and ridicule of the authoritarian and patronising approach. There is a tenderness in your portrayal of Ellen invoking gentle undertones of Sunset Boulevard.. If I could adequately combine all the possible superlatives in one word to rate your book within its genre, I would plump for UNPARALLELED. Backed and Re-Watchlisted.

Tony Brady - SCENES FROM AN EXAMINED LIFE - Books 1,2 & 3.

Su Dan wrote 30 days ago

this is well written, well paced piece. narrative is very engaging to make us read on...

celticwriter wrote 70 days ago

Thank you for backing LONDON! Liking your read as well. Have just started the journey.

Nelly Harper wrote 86 days ago

I am loving the story - only intended to read a couple of chapters at first but got through 6.
The characters are strong and instantly believable and I am constantly reminded of my years as a naughty school girl, always in trouble. I cant wait to read more

bmlg wrote 926 days ago

Finally getting around to an actual review. Fossil Farm is excellent. Seth's voice comes across clearly, and strikes a good balance between the teenage confusion and letting the reader in on what's going on (even when he himself doesn't get it). While the subject matter could easily become preachy, you've avoided this so far by making a virtue of his initial cluelessness, and you've got enough plot-threads moving in his life to keep the pace brisk.
No useful advice to add, except the extremely minor point that when someone speaks for more than one paragraph (Ellen's reminiscences) I believe the standard practice is to add a quote mark to the beginning of each paragraph, but at the end of only the last. I think one was missing.

Malcolm Judge wrote 1153 days ago

I enjoyed reading the start of this. It's on the bookshelf so that I can keep going.

Kari2010 wrote 1159 days ago

Fossil Farm:

First off this story starts off very well. I always think the first sentence and paragraph are key. I thought this started off strong. "I knew it would be bad."

Then the next thing that struck me was the way you were able to describe Mr Harris' facial expressions. I could see his bushy eyebrows and his frown through that wonderful barometric description.
Oh I feel for Seth, no good deed goes unpunished -- trying to impress Harmony by freeing the mice only to have them pop out and roam inside her desk.

**Seth says: When you were young, they hadn't figured out how to cure leather ... lol. what wit. I'd have been killed by my dad if I talked to him that way. lol.

Chapter two:
**while the tea developed a nasty looking skin. (such an original way to describe cream forming. I am a tea drinker and absolutely hate it when cream forms so that was quite a vivid visual for me).

**keep your mouth shut or I might decide to experience life as an only child ... I really love Seth's wit.

lol ... chapter four of Stolen Kisses, swelling manhoods and trembling bossoms ... and her battery was malfunctioning so he has to read real loud ... oh my, I can only imagine the trauma Seth having to read this out loud. so funny.

Aww my heart just went out to the old man who's been waiting for his son Stephen to visit.

The narrative voice is really strong. The story is well thought out and I found it an easy read that hooked me from the start. I wish I had suggestions for you but I really liked it as is and believe this is quite polished already. I wish you all the very best with this.

PCreturned wrote 1169 days ago

Hi Joanna,

I just spotted your book for the 1st time, so I had to come peek and leave a comment. I write a bit of YA on the side myself, so I’m curious. :)

I tend to comment as I read. I find that the easiest way to keep track. I hope that’s OK.

Chapter 1:

Great start. I find myself dreading at once what more “constructive” thing will be done. Sounds like Seth’s in real trouble. And I love the way you inject a teen’s voice into the writing straight away. I can see your writing style really drawing your audience into the story.

As I read on, Seth’s character comes through v well. He’s got real attitude and is obviously a seething pot of hormones. That’s v clear from his reaction to Harmony ;). I almost laughed out loud at how badly wrong his mousey plan went. Poor Harmony. ;)

Oh and I actually just did laugh aloud when I learned Fossil Farm’s a rest home. Cruel, but funny ;).

Hmmm I was a bit surprised Rachel does his homework if she’s so clever. I thought she’d disapprove of something like that. Maybe I’m just thinking of her as Lisa Simpson, though. I guess there’s no reason Rachel has to be of the highest integrity just because she’s smart ;). I blinked when I read a mention of the Simpsons shortly after in your text lol. Eerie.

Oh I’ve 1 tiny suggestion. I wouldn’t use forms of begin/start where they can be avoided as verbs don’t start. They just happen. eg I think instead of “…I started walking towards the building.” Something like “…I walked towards the building.” Would work better.

I thought the scene in the rest home was pretty tragic. I’d hate to end up in that sort of state. Poor sods. I can really feel Seth’s horror. I guess in his mind, it’s like he’s surrounded by zombies. ;)

Chapter 2:

Hmmm mysterious. What dread sound stops Seth dead, I wonder? Ah there’s a girl there too. That must have been what worried him so much. ;)

I liked “the mouse man”. Looks like the incident’s made Seth famous. Hmmm purple and black. Nose stud. I’m getting a goth vibe from billie.

Aha I see it was singing that stopped him dead. I blinked at the news Billie’s a classical singer. She doesn’t have the squeaky clean image I’d expect to go with that. Why shouldn’t a gothy type sing that sort of stuff, though? :)

lol I love the idea of Seth getting v embarrassed reading the explicit book to the randy old lady. I can just picture his face getting redder and redder.

Nice little scene with his sister at home. She really is mercenary, isn’t she? I’m liking the way you don’t just stick to lazy stereotypes. You make your characters real.

I enjoyed the bit when he had to read the porny book even louder due to the dead batteries and got overheard by Billie. He really doesn’t have much luck, does he?

Good to see the human, caring side from Seth with his kindness to the old man. Seth’s not a bad sort. I think he can just be a pit of a pillock. ;)

Ominous chapter end, forming a great hook. What trouble is Seth in now? …

OK I better stop with this lengthy commenting, I think. I don’t want to annoy you. :)

I enjoyed your book a lot. I thought the voice was great, perfect for your audience. And the story’s a lot of fun, with regular intervals that made me want to laugh. Seth makes a great main character, v real and interesting. I can see your readers rooting for him and wanting to follow his (mis)adventures. ;)

I’m going to give this 6 stars as soon as I post this comment. I think teenagers will enjoy this, and I do hope you manage to get it published. :)

Best of luck,

Pete x

ps on 2nd thoughts, I'll back this as well. I might not be able to back it for as long as I want right now, as I'm tied up in the last stage of the race to the desk. But I'd like to give your book a bit of a boost + some visibility. :)

Wilma1 wrote 1312 days ago

This has great premise. Its well writen with excellent characteristion Seths growth as a person is so well crafted into the narative. A great book for the YA auience but having said that I skipped through six chapters without a blink. Hapy to revisit and reback.
Knowing Liam Riley

RonParker wrote 1328 days ago

Hi Joanna,

I only have one complaint about this story - I didn't wtite it!

It's definitely one of the best YA stories I've read for a long time.

I didn't find any major errors though there are a few scene changes where there are no line breaks - I realise that might be the system's formatting process rather than your own.

The only other issue is that Sally is on the scene well before we are told her name. Try to find a way to include her name as soon as she is introduced.

If this story isn't published soon it should be. Good luck with it.


scargirl wrote 1348 days ago

this is such a fun read, i am backing it again. enjoy the journey...

SaffinaD wrote 1374 days ago


SaffinaD wrote 1374 days ago


M.A. Anderson wrote 1377 days ago

Seth's voice is strong and clear in this story. Your characters are three dimensional, interact realistically and true to life. This is a captivating story that will appeal to the YA audience, without doubt. An enjoyable read. BACKED.

M. A. Anderson

M.A. Anderson wrote 1378 days ago

Hi Joanna, thank you so much for backing Dark Legacy. I've added 'Fossil Farm' to my watchlist and will read very soon. I have a couple of others on my list to read first. Good luck with your story.

Narwhon wrote 1394 days ago

Very natural writing pitched ideally for the YA. I liked it and I haven't been in that category for a while. Nice rhythm and tempo - just glided through the prose like sailing in front of a pleasant breeze. Backed.
Cheers, B. Cameron Lee (Diary of a Serial Killer).

Paul_aucuparius wrote 1395 days ago

I have read your first chapter, I like your easy style and find it the story very amusing.
if you have time perhaps you will have a look at Freddie Bill and Irving - written in the same genre

Best wishes


Stark Silvercoin wrote 1398 days ago

Fossil Farm is a novel that is sure to enthrall the young adult crowd. I’ve read a lot of YA novels and they all seem to have a few things in common: believable characters, good dialog and a plot that keeps us moving along. Author Joanna Carter knows that a YA novel does not need to have a dumbed-down plot, it just needs to speak with and relate to the young people who will be reading it. My only disappointment is that only ten chapters are posted. This funny, sentimental and rollicking tale deserves to continue.

LN wrote 1403 days ago


This is an extremely enjoyable read.
Backed with pleasure.

N.Lalit ( Siren )

ccb1 wrote 1408 days ago

Backed Fossil Farm. Delightful! Your story flows well, and has kept us interested. We laughed hysterically when Seth had to read smut to an 83 year old woman with hearing loss! We are happy to back your work.
CC Brown
Dark Side

BenGalley wrote 1408 days ago

Great narrative, enjoyable story, quirky plot. Loving it so far, and can't wait for the next few chapters!

Ben Galley
The Written

briantodd wrote 1415 days ago

Dear Joanna

Top pitch and your stream of consciousness narration style is brilliantly done.Seths voice is very consistent and believable. The simplicity of the structure of your story is very appealing and I always want to know what happens next. I dont think you need the odd underlined word. Your writing is so accomplished that the required emphasis is plain in the text. This interrelationships between the various characters is what generates your humour and the story is warm and lif affirming. A coming of age story that would appeal to all ages. It certainly made me smile.



Green H wrote 1416 days ago

ill confess that i have only read page one...
a very good start and i enjoyed the read very much....
backed with pleasure
green h

Francene Stanley wrote 1418 days ago

Great first chapter. I love your voice. This is well written and the reader can really get inside the MC's brain. She sounds a bit of a drop out, but the reader's hoping she might have some unknown quality that will be worth following.

Only thing is: you give us no idea what she wants with all her heart and mind. And what she will lose if she doesn't get it.

Thanks for backing Still Rock Water. Returned on the strength of your writing.

Katarina66 wrote 1418 days ago

I'll back your book on the pitch alone. Sounds very captivating! Will look forward to coming back to read more later. well done!

corichaffee wrote 1419 days ago


I have backed your book with pleasure. As I said earlier, I love your voice in this book-- fresh and intriguing. Sucked me in from the get-go.


SPW wrote 1421 days ago

I will be watching this and seeing how it develops, a great start so far. the narrative is warm, natural and often hilarious.
The best of luck with this!
Yuko Zen is Somewhere Else.

Huseyin Angay wrote 1421 days ago

Well written, polished prose. Funny.

I found the main characters' repartee just a bit on the wrong side of smartarsery, which can start to grate after a while, but that may be my age showing. Real young people may well appreciate this style of dialogue.

Backed for the quality of the writing.

Best wishes.
All Things Noble

corichaffee wrote 1422 days ago

I love your voice in this book! I feel as though I am sitting in that school, listening to the annoying principal or walking into the Happy Hours Rest Home. I am WL'ing this so that I can read the rest of what you have when I get a spare moment.

If you get a chance, please take a look at my book, Princess. I would welcome any input you have and/or backing. :)

Thank you for posting your work-- you are a gifted storyteller.

Warm regards,

Nuts2 wrote 1422 days ago

Totally real and gripping characters and dialogue, told by a sarky, engaging narrator. And the terrible irony of the incident with the mice. Always admire anyone who can take an episode or event that might seem small or petty and blow it up, until the entire universe circles around it, which is what you've accomplished with Seth's grab-bag of problems. Backed and looking forward to reading on.

Butler's Girl wrote 1422 days ago

This is a quirky tale, humourous, light hearted and well written.
Alison Butler

Muggins100 wrote 1426 days ago

Thanks for the backing and coming from such a good writer this one actually means something, I kept looking for faults in the writing, the plot and the pace and seriously could find none. Good punchy start and believable dialogue. I know this bear-pit of a site can seem self-serving mot of the time but please believe me when I say I wish you the best of luck .. this is publishable material no question. Good luck.

Peter Wild wrote 1427 days ago

Joanna, this is The Business - funny, polished, fluent and the only YA story I ever enjoyed. Well done and good luck!
Peter Wild
Double Action

Emma Morgan wrote 1429 days ago

Aside from the odd bit of more-adult vocab – like ‘noticeable’, say – I think you’ve created a very credible voice for Seth, Joanna, which is no mean feat. This moves along really well, I was up to chapter three without stopping, and when you use humour it feels very natural, not forced. A very pleasing, competent read – well done.

Suzalex wrote 1431 days ago

Loved the pitch. First chapter was great. You have great style. A very talented tale spinner.


AnneWright wrote 1431 days ago

This is a wonderful story and you've really gotten into the head of your main character. Backed!

Closeted Courage

greeneyes1660 wrote 1432 days ago

Joanna, I read all 10 chapters and this is fabulous. I love everything about it. The storyline, the characters and your narrative voice of Seth is wonderful. Perfect balance and pace, the voices of teenagers are natural and believable.

I think you capture the voices, challenges and perceptions of your teenagers impeccable. Having two brothers I began having flashbacks. Being close to my gram, who was 95 when she passed, I had heard many familiar stories you shared through Ellen.

You capture human behavior very well and this book leaves you feeling an array of emotions; which in my opinion is the best kind of book...Backed with a certainty Patricia aka Columbia Layers of the Heart

greeneyes1660 wrote 1432 days ago

Joanna, I read all 10 chapters and this is fabulous. I love everything about it. The storyline, the characters and your narrative voice of Seth is wonderful. Perfect balance and pace, the voices of teenagers are natural and believable.

I think you capture the voices, challenges and perceptions of your teenagers impeccable. Having two brothers I began having flashbacks. Being close to my gram, who was 95 when she passed, I had heard many familiar stories you shared through Ellen.

You capture human behavior very well and this book leaves you feeling an array of emotions; which in my opinion is the best kind of book...Backed with a certainty Patricia aka Columbia Layers of the Heart

TMNAGARAJAN wrote 1432 days ago

From the pitch, I knew it would be good. Backed

Alecia Stone wrote 1432 days ago

Hi Joanna,

Great starting sentence. It roused my curiosity and made me want to read on. Authentic narrative voice and good characterisation. The dialogue was also very believable. This is a page turner. I found myself wanting to read on. Good pacing. It was a fascinating read. Nicely written.

Shinzy :)

Paul T. wrote 1433 days ago

I thought this was quite good when I started reading. By the time I got to chapter 7, I thought it was excellent! Original idea, and the writing was smooth and amusing - but the more I got into it, the more depth I discovered! Very good writing! On my shelf.

medallio wrote 1436 days ago

Joanna, its a great read. I loved the synopsis, it made me smile. Keep up the work.


sjwilling wrote 1436 days ago

I've only read the first chapter and already I love it. Personable, lively lovable characters and situations which are so unreal they just have to happen :)


Jasmin Star wrote 1436 days ago

Through the first chapter so far and enjoying it. The conversations are natural, and all the characters life-like, making the interesting plot flow excellently. Loved the intro. Backed with pleasure!

Best regards,
The Seasons, or, The Adventures of GREEM and Company

NuWorldMan wrote 1436 days ago

I've just read the first chapter of your book and must tell you, it's a delight. The writing is crisp and clever with excellent descriptions and similes. I usually pick at sentence structure or wordiness, but I have no negative comments for you at all. The prose is polished and professional. I've no doubt you'll land an agent and find success, as this type of book is popular these days. It's a pleasure to back your book.


Thomas Albert-Seeing Stone

Eunice Attwood wrote 1436 days ago

Hi Joanna,
I too live in Kiwi land. I loved the characters at the Fossil farm. I have had to spend much time in such a place over the last 10 years or so, as my poor father was an 'inmate.' I think I know most of your cnaracters personally - the stories sound the same.
A great concept which you have brought to life superbly. Backed for sure.
Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

S.C. Thompson wrote 1437 days ago

What an enjoyable read this is! Placing a youthful Sad Sack - full of teen-age hormones, angst, and mischief - in the midst of a setting that exposes the sad decline of youthful vitality we all must face is brilliant. What a set-up! And you mine the vein for all it is worth . . . Kudos!

hikey wrote 1437 days ago

What a great imagination and talent for engaging the reader with humour,good dialogue and originality.
I hope this does well.

Strayer wrote 1437 days ago

This is so good. Young Adults will read it over and over. Set, Rachel, Ellen and Billie are easy characters to follow.
I hope you keep writing.

cat5149 wrote 1437 days ago

I loved your book--except for the mice. Yuk! Anyway it's a well written story with some great dialogue and description. I'm happy I decided to back this.


Diane60 wrote 1438 days ago

OMG what a wonderful book you have here! Have raced through all 10 beautiful chapters. It is bright breezy snappy peppy and REAL.
A joy to read. Thanks for inviting me