Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast: What Makes a Story Memorable?

Here’s our biggest tip for beginning writers.

Ask yourself this question:

WHAT MAKES A STORY MEMORABLE?

It’s change. It’s how the hero of the story enters that story with something broken inside them. All the things that have happened before your story starts – the back story – has set up the hero needing to achieve something or needing to change something inside of themselves.

ET was a movie about an alien, but the reason it was so amazing was because it was a movie about a family in pain, a family that needed to believe in magic and love again. ET gave them that.

So, when you’re writing your book, think about the backstory of your character, what it is that put her/him/them in this place and what they need to do to change themselves or their world.

That’s what the heart of a story is.

That’s what makes it memorable. The internal change.

 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be afraid to evolve. New places, new experiences, new life paths, are all ways to become something and someone better.

 

WRITING TIPS OF THE POD

  1. Have Fun – Don’t write unless you love it or can’t live without it
  2. Remember That Your Characters and Their Journeys Matter
  3. Cut out Extra Scenes
  4. Don’t Try to Write Like Anyone Else
  5. Edit Like A God – Cast out all that doesn’t belong
  6. Don’t Worry About Being Successful – Worry about the story.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website.Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

THE PODCAST LINK IS HERE. 

Please like, subscribe, share it on iTunes, Stitcher, anywhere. <3

We all appreciate it.

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Montreal this week and the Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

And I’ll be in Freeport, Maine September 28 as part of a Nerdy Evening of Kidlit writers!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

HOW TO GET SIGNED COPIES: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

ART STUFF

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

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I’ll Stay With You

One of my many grandmothers liked to tell stories. It’s the catholic one, Portuguese, Avó. And her stories never really had cohesion. They were basically family facts and remembrances wrapped up in anecdotes with a heady dose of moralizing and tradition. And I freaking loved it.

Let me set the scene.

It is the 1980s and to me she seems impossibly old. She has always been poor, though some of her nine children are now rich and she has filled her small apartment with ceramic knick-knacks, rosaries. Pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary share precious wall space with her children.

“There is not enough wall,” she laments, sitting down with a sizable sigh because it’s hard to move her body around.

There is not enough room anywhere in her apartment. It’s stuffed with afghans, crocheted table coverings. Hot sauce and ketchup and condiments stack the counters of the kitchen. And then there are the ceramics, some made by my aunt in a kiln in a shed behind her trailer. They are mostly angels, madonnas and carousels. Girls in hard flouncy dresses that resemble Southern belles from another time. Their skin is porcelain and pale and perfectly white and the opposite of my grandmother’s. Their bodies are tiny. Limbs stretch out in ballerina poses, ready to break off at any moment, precariously attached to their bodies by some kind of magic.

There are no men here other than Jesus. He’s a picture on the wall. He’s pretty pale, too.

I am in love with a swan that is on the table next to the thread-bare, plaid couch that is about two decades too old to ever find a home away from my Avó.

I’m checking out the swan as she hands me a hot chocolate that’s been topped with Marshmallow Fluff.

“Chemicals are good for you,” she says with a wink. “No matter what that Dustin Hoffman says.”

It is July and she’s feeding me hot chocolate from a package and has heaped the gelatinous white of fluff on top of it to sweeten it even more. And in that moment, she is absolutely my favorite of all my grandmothers despite all her scandals, the time she ran away from her own children, leaving them to raise each other, the time she refused to give her eldest son his birth certificate when he wanted to join the Navy because the certificate said a name of a father he’d never known existed.  If he saw that birth certificate then he’d know his last name was Gonçalves, a totally different name that he’d been living with for the first 16 years of his life.

At the time, it seemed very important that he not know, she says with a shrug.

“Turned out? Didn’t matter.” She smiles. She has a fluff mustache. “It’s always what we think matters, that doesn’t, and then the things that do us in? They come out of nowhere.” She crosses herself and I do, too, because I want more fluff, because I want her to love me, because I want to not be something that slams her out of nowhere.

I pick up the swan, my favorite swan. There is a brown line across the gentle curve of her neck.

“Your cousin broke her, but the thing is? Ceramics? You can glue them back together. People? Not so much. Not so perfectly. Our breaks show if you squint too hard at them.”

 

I'll Stay With You-4

Not too long ago, my grandmother was spat on for being dark but beautiful, for being a woman and beautiful, for being catholic, for knowing a language other than English, for being impossibly, assuredly herself.

And she ran away from a life of poverty once.

And she ran away again. And again.

“But I could never run from God,” she tells me. “Not once. And let me tell you, he forgives better than your children will.”

This is true and not true. This grandmother sits in a lounge chair, holding court over the summer family reunions and pool parties, munching on Pringles straight from the can, commenting on the food people bring to her on plates because her legs have swollen too much from heart disease and other things to hold her up too well, grilled tomatoes and bread and sardines. She seems to like the Pringles best, but she eats it all and never says thank you.

It drives my mother crazy, but she’s busy gossiping with the aunts so it doesn’t matter. It’s just my Avó and me.

And she tells me, “You’re different because you don’t fit in.”

And my little girl heart chips into pieces, a broken ceramic swan on the floor. I stare at the ground, at my naked feet my Aunt Mary Jean’s backyard grass.

A Pringle comes into my sightline and wiggles. An offering.

She says, “That’s not bad. When you don’t fit in, it’s hard, but you can touch people, you can touch people’s souls. Your otherness makes you strong. It made me strong.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s my job to give you advice.”

“No. Thank you for the Pringles.” I pause. “You’re supposed to say thank you when people give you stuff.”

“You mean me?”

“Yes. I mean you.”

She laughs. Her whole body shakes with it.

“What I like about you is that you don’t try to make me like you,” she says once she stops laughing. “I am going to tell you something. When I was little we had the Feast of the Holy Ghost and we would offer up sweet bread to the church, right? And I would look for the candy vendor.” She sighs and watches the cousins, all older than me, dark hair and skin, brown eyed and greens. “When my John, your father, was young, people would call him the N-word. He was so dark in the summer. Back then you were white or not white according to the whites, and you were only white if you weren’t like us.”

“So different.”

“Yes.”

“Mom says difference makes you strong? You said otherness.” I ask this because I am kid who pays attention.

“It made me me, whatever you want to call it,” she says, which is probably the only true answer there can be about things like this, things that form you and shape you. How do you know if something made you stronger if you never had the privilege of not suffering through it? How do you know that you wouldn’t be stronger if you didn’t have to endure hate, or oppression, or a million other traumas that a person can undergo in so many ways?

“You want to go in the pool? Play with the cousins?” she asks me, taking my hand even though it is salty from Pringles.

I look over there at the older cousins, confident, laughing, football stars and beauty queens, confident and free and wild. I sat there with her, both of us a little round, both of us a little awkward, and I squeezed her hand.

“No,” I tell her. “I think I’ll stay with you.”

 

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Montreal this week and then, Freeport, Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

 

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYINGis here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOKis out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

Veggie Nachos, Baby

Why, hello. Yes, it is me, Carrie, a carb-loving writer on a quest to make her household (gasp) vegetarians.

Because I felt guilty about the kale and the tomatoes that I’ve been throwing at the man lately (Only after he threw them at me first), I’ve adopted a recipe that I think will not incite any sort of unhappy incidents.

Why?

Because they are nachos and nachos, my friend, are awesome.

Veggie Nachos, Baby

I like nachos. Nachos have carbs. I don't care. The end.

This recipe is taken and adapted (and also adopted) from the amazing blog, Cookie and Kate. The link to the true recipe is here: https://cookieandkate.com/2018/loaded-veggie-nachos-recipe/

Course dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American, tex-mex
Keyword nacho
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 normal humans who aren't obsessed with nachos
Calories 530 kcal

Ingredients

  • 8 oz tortilla chips rugged ones
  • 1 can pinto bans
  • 4 oz cheddar shredded like it was at a really good book launch
  • 4 oz pepper jack shredded and hot like it was at a really good book launch somewhere warm (Hint; Not Chicago. I always get sent to Chicago. I like Chicago. Chicago is not warm)
  • 1 whole pepper green, red, orange - just dice it up
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese because I live in Maine and we have no cool Mexican cheese
  • 1/3 cup onions green or regular, diced
  • 2 tbsp cilantro You can blow this off if you hate poor Cilantro
  • some or whatever guacamole or avocado if you're into it
  • some or whatever salsa pre-made, homemade, it's up to youPreheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place handfuls of chips on the baking sheet and distribute evenly, minimizing the gaps between chips. Set aside.

Instructions

  1. Find your oven. It should be in the kitchen. It was there last time you looked and I don't think you're living in a T.C. Boyle or Vonnegut novel so it should still be there. Okay. Found it? Put it on 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Find a baking sheet. Line it with parchment paper. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT EATING NACHOS! 

    If you are a writer who solely makes money from writing ignore the parchment paper and just spray the sheet. It's cheaper. 

    Put the chips all across the sheet. Try not to have gaps because stuff will leak through. NO LEAKING ALLOWED! 

  3. Okay. You have a nice bottom layer. It is the supporting structure of your nachos just like you have to have a supporting structure of your new story: A LOVE STORY: ONE WRITER AND HER QUEST FOR CONSTANT CARBS. 

    On top of that layer you want to put the beans. Spread them out nicely. Do the same with the cheeses, pepper, feta and any spicy things. 

  4. Put that party in the oven. Love it. Admire it. Obsess over it. The carbs. The cheese. The beauty. Bake until the cheese melts.

    This should be somewhere around 10 minutes. 

  5. Take it out of the oven. 

    I know you want to gobble it all up but refrain, my carb-loving friends, refrain. 


  6. Why, refrain? Because it isn't over yet, my friends. Wave bye to ketosis and dollop on the guacamole. Then sprinkle onions and cilantro on there.  

  7. And there. Eat it! Call it good. Forget about ketosis and whole-day-diet stuff of 30 things or whatever the heck they call it. Gobble up those nachos. It's one life, baby. Let's live it. 

 

Man Verdict: Thank God. You don’t hate me.

Doggy Verdict: Why must tortilla chips have salt? We can’t have these, can we? Why do you hate us, human?

My Verdict: Nachos have totally supplanted potatoes as my comfort food.

 

 

Flying

 

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

 

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – Every Chapter Needs to Have a Purpose, Darn it.

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and here is my big advice.

Ready?

Every chapter in your story matters. Write every single chapter like it’s the first chapter.

Wait. What does that even mean?

It means that every chapter needs to be an important part of the story. It needs to be there. If you can take a chapter out of the story and the story still makes sense? That means that you didn’t make that chapter matter.

When you reread your story for the 100th time and you sort of subconsciously skip five paragraphs of backstory or description or even dialogue? There’s a reason you’re doing that. Delete those paragraphs. Just cut and paste them into a new document if you have attachment issues. Then reread things.

Does the chapter still work? Does the rest of the book still work without those paragraphs? That means you have to let them go.

If they are boring you the writer enough that you skim through them? That means that they are going to bore the reader, too.

Writing is about story. Yes, sentences matter because they are how we communicate story. Yes, chapters and structure matters, too, because – again – it’s how we communicate story.

But above all else – we are telling a story and every tool we use is about conveying that story. That’s what matters. And no matter how pretty the sentence or adorable the secondary character, if they don’t help create that story? You have to get rid of them. Especially in a thriller.

Flying

 

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

 

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

 

Remembering the Heroes on September 11th. One story.

This is what I post around Sept. 11 of every year. I am so sorry if you’ve read it before. A lot of things have changed in my life in 15 years. I went from being a newspaper reporter and city councilor to a newspaper editor to unemployed to a New York Times (and internationally) bestselling novelist. But how I feel about heroes will never change.

Ben died in 2016, after years and years of being a hero to the people of Shelter Island, New York, years and years of being a paramedic (one of the oldest in the country) and not only just saving people, but being the last one to comfort and touch the living.

The picture here is the one that ran with his obituary. I am not sure who took it and if you did and you want me to take it down, I will! Just let me know. It’s a great photo.

++++ +++++++ ++++++++ ++++++++

It’s hard not to think about September 11 without thinking about loss.

That’s how it should be. But I do know that so many heroes that we never hear about worked hard on that day. It’s important to remember them too, because they are, I think, what it truly means to be an ideal American and an ideal person.

My uncle, Charlie, who lives in Maplewood, NJ was just across the shore when he saw the plane go into one of the tall towers in New York City. He was over 80 and a doctor. He was in World War II. He hates war.

He told me when he saw that plane full of people go into that tower full of people he said, “Jesus Christ… Jesus Christ…”

He mumbled it for a second, a prayer, a plea, a name, a hope. He said his heart sank right into the bottom of his feet as he stood there watching. He said like he felt like he stood there on the shore forever. He didn’t. He moved after a second. He went right over towards the towers, towards the death and the hurt and the terror and the screaming, and the whole time in his head he kept repeating those words, that name…. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.

He started to help people. He was over 80 breathing in all kinds of horrible things into lungs that were already tired and aged, but that didn’t stop him. He’d helped people all his life. He had served his country all his life. Nobody would have thought anything if he had turned around, walked away, got in his car and drove back to Maplewood.

But Charlie would have thought something though if he did that.
He could have never done that.

My former father-in-law, Ben, also over 80, is an EMT. He became one when he was 65. After years of being an executive, he wanted to feel like he did something good in his life, something helpful. He was part of the Red Cross disaster team. He went over to the site too, got grit out of people’s eyes, helped them breathe, helped them cope.
You ask him what it was like and he shakes his head slowly and says in his deep/hoarse voice, “God, that was an awful scene. Just an awful scene.”

Charlie and Ben weren’t firemen on duty or police officers like so many heroes that day were. They weren’t official first responders.

What I love about them is that they made the choice. They chose to go. They chose to help and they didn’t give a poop about how old they were, about how many people they’d already helped. They didn’t care about the ache in their bones or the fact that both their hearts were starting to fail. They cared about something else. They cared about people. So they went.

They will always be my heroes. They are just two of many, many stories that happened on that day and on other days. People can do awful things. We can hurt our loves, bomb each other, scream words of hate, glorify ignorance with bats and cars, ignore a smile of a cashier, be too busy to pay attention to a child.

But we can do beautiful things, too. We can love, and heal; we can put others first, rush to a scene of mayhem, put ourselves in peril on the off chance that we might be able to save a life, get grit out of an eye, give comfort, give a hug. And that… that is what makes people worth it. That is what makes people magic. That is what makes people heroes over and over again.

So, I will remember Ben and Charlie and so many others today. I won’t ignore the hate and pain and sorrow that happens on Sept. 11 or on any day of war or violence, but I choose to remember the good, too. I choose to remember the heroes.

Hugging Strangers is Possibly the Best Way to be Human

She had stayed at our camper site for nine years, not continuously, but for a couple weeks at a time each summer while her husband came to Maine  to abandon the Alabama summer heat. She’d had to stay home and work those summers, visiting him twice. They thought they’d spend a lot more time here soon.

 

But this year, she walks across the campground road (Road 4) towards me, in a black summer dress, loosely draped across her body. She is half slow, half purposeful, which means that she’s trying to do something that’s hard to do. I stand up from the picnic table where I’m working and meet her.

Her arms open wide. Her hands shake and she says, “This… this used to be our campsite.”

 

And I instantly know who she is.

 

“Oh,” I say. “I’m so sorry.”

 

I have no words.

 

I open my arms and she steps right into them, this stranger who is not a stranger. This stranger who is human like me.

 

It’s our first of three hugs.

 

Her husband died last year, in between summers, and she sold the fifth-wheel that they stayed in. Someone is possibly using it for transient agricultural workers up in the Machias area. She’s not sure.

 

“Our shed was right here. There was a deck, a huge deck right here. They took all of it.” She shakes her head.

 

Her husband built the deck. He had her antique music box in the shed and the music would play out into the road. All their friends were here, a group of 60 to 70-year-olds, mostly, and they would gather every night, talking, laughing. Her husband kept one man from drinking for the six weeks they were together here. He built a deck with a baby gate (for free) for a wormer and his wife because they had an 18-month-old baby and the wife was always alone with the baby, always watching it, always exhausted and trapped.

 

“He’d spell her for a half hour or an hour each day. She couldn’t believe how kind that was,” the woman tells me and she breaks down again.

“Everything is so different. Our shed,” she repeats. “It was right there where your fire pit was. We couldn’t have a fire pit. The smells and sound. It reminded him of Vietnam.”

 

We hugged again.

 

I don’t know her first name. It doesn’t matter, honestly, because I know parts of her – the raw, authentic parts, the love and the grief that came flowing out when she saw us at her campsite, which is now, our campsite. And I’m so honored.

 

She had been a woman in love and she still is – and here was the place where she and her husband would play Wii Bowling, and serenade the campground road with jaunty music that echoed out of the music box they kept in the shed. They’d hike up the steep hill into a scattering of spruce and pines, neighbors’ campfires trying to erase his bad memories and recreate the good, squirrels and chipmunks racing from tree trunk to branches. And all of this was a home.

 

And it isn’t hers any more. Just like some day it won’t be mine.

 

“I’m… I have food in the microwave,” she says.

 

We’ve turned off the grill where dinner was cooking so I could talk to her, but I don’t tell her that. It’s not my job to tell her things. It’s my job to listen.

 

“I… I might come back next year.”

 

“If we’re here,” I tell her, “I hope you stop by and say ‘hi.’”

 

“I will. I will,” she says and she nods bravely but her lip loses its firmness and she starts to crumple. I hug her one last time and try to hold her up. We all need to be held up sometimes. Strangers. Friends. Family. Ghosts.

 

We often imagine that our experience is the real experience. We forget the others who have come before – who have belonged in our campsites, our house lots, our countries and lives. The lives that come before and after us often seem so unreal. We claim things as our own, but are they ever really ours? Only for tiny fractions of time.

 

And that’s okay. Lives and experiences can pass astonishingly quickly; some of us can barely remember moments in our own lives, let alone the lives of the people and peoples before us. But they were there. They are there. Sometimes they walk across a tiny road and open their arms to us. Sometimes they are scents we can barely catch at night, little mewings and whispers of pasts and futures we won’t get to be a part of.

 

And that’s okay, too, because we get to be a part of our moments, live them, listen to them, and experience them ourselves. And we can try to be stewards, prepare for other futures and remember others’ pasts. That would be best, I think, if we could act with kindness for those who have suffered losses and for those who have to bear the future burdens. That’s what humanity should be about, not just the cold shivers, but the hugs, the wishes, the hopes and the stories.

 

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

 

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

 

 

 

 

Push It – Kale Pesto Recipe – Cooking With a Writer

As we all know by now, on Thursdays I try to post a vegetarian recipe that I’m trying in an attempt to seduce the man away from his flesh-eating ways.

 

Wow. I just made him sound like a super bacteria resistant to penicillin. He is not! I promise.

 

Hold on, I keep imaging that’s what he is and I’m laughing too hard to type.

 

This week I attempted a kale and hemp seed pesto because:

 

  1. He sort of likes pesto.
  2. Basil is expensive and I TOTALLY love pesto. It’s still my favorite.
  3. Hemp seeds are cheaper than pine nuts and walnuts, usually. And I am cheap.
  4. He hates kale.

 

 

I know! My logic is twisted. He does like kale chips though, so I figured this was sort of safe.

 

Push It – Kale Pesto Schoop Whatta Man

Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Keyword kale, pesto
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 13 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 440 kcal

Ingredients

  • .75 cup hemp seeds or walnuts or pecans
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 cups kale packed
  • 2 tbsps lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • .25 tsp ground pepper
  • red pepper flakes
  • .25 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • one third cup parmesan cheese grated

Instructions

  1. • I don’t have a food processor. Okay. Actually, I have one, but I am the least mechanical human ever so I don’t know how to make it work. This is also true for my sewing machine. You can use a food processor or blender for the next step. Guess which I use.  

  2. • Mince the garlic cloves (peeled). 

  3. • Add everything else except the poor oil.

  4. • Give the oil a pep talk. It’s not because you’re oily, tell it. It’s because you’re so important that you deserve extra attention. You’re special that way. 

  5. • Put the oil on top and watch. Coo to the oil that it’s special. Blend until you like the way it looks. Remind the oil that it’s because of her that you can make this pesto any consistency you want. Remind her how beautiful she is. 

  6. • Taste it. Add more lemon if you want. Add more salt and pepper. Start singing old Salt-N-Pepa songs from the 1990s. Think about Vlogging this. Decide that would be detrimental. 

  7. • If you want to put your pesto on pasta (LOOK AT THE ALLITERATION!) make your pasta according to directions on the box/bag. Cook it. Think about how Salt-N-Pepa was a trio and not a trio, think about how happy Olive Oil would be if the hip-hop trio had been named Salt-N-Pepa-N-Olive Oil. Realize you are a dork. 

  8. • Wait a minute after pasta is done before mixing in the pesto. Remember to drain the pasta first. 

Man Verdict: This is not kale.

Dogs’ Verdict: It’s green, like interesting smelling poop can we try.

My Verdict: YAY!

Tips For Making a Thriller

Tips for Making a Thriller

 

It’s writing tip Wednesday and I’m going to have some fast tips this week and next about making thrillers. Yes, you know those stories that make your heart pound with anxiety, where you aren’t sure what will happen next, where you are secretly saying, “Who comes up with this?”

Here are the pointers!

Structure Matters

 

First, structure. Thrillers have pretty dynamic structures that escalate throughout the story. And there have been a million people who have written about this well and even created diagrams.

 

Blake Snyder wrote “Save the Cat” and talks all about beats for a story, breaking the structure down into sweet, tangible bites. You should check it out.  https://timstout.wordpress.com/story-structure/blake-snyders-beat-sheet/

Make it matter for your hero/protagonist person

 

Seriously. The stakes have to be high for the hero to jump through all the hoops she has to jump through to make things right. Her stakes should be personal and high.

Make the clock tick

 

If you only have 23 hours to save your puppy, things are going to be even more charged up.

Do a Raymond Chandler

 

Raymond Chandler said, “When things slow down, bring in a man with a gun.”

 

It doesn’t have to be a gun. It doesn’t have to be a man. Just have something super exciting happen that’s somewhat shocking.

 

A wolf leaps into the room.

A robot hand breaks through the wall.

A woman screams.

Cardi B shows up at your character’s doorstep.

Big Foot serenades your character from outside the window.

Let the Bad Guy Make Sense (to himself)

 

When you are good, evil doesn’t make much sense, but that’s because we are seldom the villains in our own stories, right? The bad guy’s actions need to make sense to him. Plus, it will make your readers think, “Oh… I have a little sympathy going on. What’s that mean?”

 

Just like any major character, it makes sense to really understand who your villain is. It keeps him from being two-dimensional. Nobody wants a flat character.

 

Writing News

 

Appearance

I’m going to be hanging out at the Augusta Civic Center (Maine) on Saturday, Sept. 8 as part of a Maine Literacy event. It’s open to the public and cool. It’s from 10-2.

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Hello Darkness, Writers’ Friend!

There is a new podcast episode up because it’s Tuesday. In it, I get real about how hard it is for me to write about my own life and also we post a random thought from the kitchen while we’re making instant stuffing.

You know all our secrets now. 🙂

I hope you like it and if you do, please subscribe, share and tell people. It’s a super cool kind thing to do.  Here is where you can check it out.

Dogs are Smarter than People Writing Podcast Hello Darkness My Old Friend
Dogs are Smarter than People Writing Podcast Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Maine and People aren’t miserable and tough. We’re beautiful and a whole lot more.

I’m staying at a campground in Maine and the people in the campsite next to me aren’t super talkative, but when they do talk, their voices are loud. So loud. The woman is from Chicago. The man is from Arksansas. They are young, married and living in this tent hooked up to a home-built sleeping trailer.

 

They are not into Maine.

 

I try not to hold that against them because you can’t really hold people accountable for their lack of taste, right? Although, the way the internet rages about pumpkin-spice-flavored anything, maybe you can?

 

For the record: I don’t like pumpkin spice, but I am totally cool with it if you do.

 

But yesterday the guy yelled, “Winters here are miserable and tough.”

 

And I whispered, “And beautiful. So beautiful.”

 

He doesn’t know that because he’s never experienced it, obviously. I think there’s a lot of value in actually experiencing things for yourself. The chance to throw yourself into a situation, to adapt, to feel the weather, talk to the people, live the lifestyle, not in a disdainful way like this Southern camping guy, but in a real way where you share experiences? That’s cool.

 

I can imagine them going on to their next stop and saying, “Maine. The winters are miserable and tough there” like they’ve lived it.

 

They might even believe it’s truth. But if it is, it’s only a piece of truth. It’s not the truth that talks about the coziness that happens in our communities when tourists leave. It’s not the truth that talks about the breath-taking blue of the sky, the quiet of the tall spruce and pines when blanketed by snow, or the magic that happens when a great meadow turns into a natural skating rink.

 

They don’t know it. There are so many things we don’t know, that we don’t get to experience. So many truths that we only get to be the tiniest part of. There are secrets behind our perceptions and those secrets that hang out behind the stereotypes and facades? That’s where the magic happens over and over again.

 

That’s true when it comes to people, to politics, and even to places.

 

A horrible thing happened to a dog in our county this past week and people have been going wild with anger, pain, outrage. They’ve made threats. They talk about ‘island justice’ taking care of these two men for the alleged things that they did to their friend’s dog, kidnapping it, torturing it, killing it.

 

And suddenly all you see around here is everyone darker urges, the desire for retribution and justice, the need for an eye-for-an-eye. Some people that I love are posting things like that and I know me writing this is probably going to tweak them. And in this world where moods cascade into violence, that’s scary to me. I know it’s almost all talk, but that talk is coming from hearts. And the thing is? It’s honest and it’s real.

 

But the other thing is that what happened to that poor dog? It happens to women, to children, to men every day in this world. Every damn day. But it’s usually quiet. It’s usually insidious. Or we don’t notice. We don’t notice the pain.

 

We need to notice the pain.

 

But not only the pain. We need to notice the beauty too. We need to know that we can’t declare the winters in a state “miserable and tough” if we’ve never actually experienced them. We need to remember that our truths aren’t everyone’s and our reactions to the same incident or atrocity doesn’t have to always be the same. It can’t be. Because we aren’t all the same. There is strength in that and beauty there, too.

Writing News

 

Appearance

I’m going to be hanging out at the Augusta Civic Center (Maine) on Saturday, Sept. 8 as part of a Maine Literacy event. It’s open to the public and cool. It’s from 10-2.

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!