The Secret to Writing Good Stories

Interesting people and interesting stories don’t happen without a little worry and some pain. It’s about living through emotion, through the tear-soaked nights where you’re sweating over your existence. It’s about fear of being alone, or unloved, or unliked – and risking it anyways, just embracing who you are and your lack of chill and going after your passion.

Writing and living are about joy and they are about pain. And the most interesting people are the explorers.

This is something I try to remind myself when I’m freaking out inside. I remind myself to face my fears, to be an explorer, to not run away from the interesting.

But I know that the secret to writing good stories is understanding yourself, and your relationship to other people. It’s about living despite fear and trying to understand people and their own inner worlds, the ones that suck them dry and make them proud, the things that make them sweat instead of sleeping, their dreams, the broken dreams and the ones that they still might fulfill.

And to do that? You’ve got to do two things:

  1. Listen.
  2. Be brave.

Last week, I went into a bar in Portland, Maine. It was this dive-bar type place where you could get two beers for $7, which in Portland is super cheap because normally one beer costs about $700… or something.

But that’s not the point of the story.

When I went into the bar, I sort of wanted to turn around and leave.

True admission time: I’m not a bar person. Like even in college, I only went to a bar twice. Both times were disasters. One involved me hitting on a narc officer, which was the first and only time I’ve ever hit on someone. THAT IS HOW BADLY IT WENT! The other bar visit involved me hiding under a table for… Well, for a really long time.

Secret: It is pretty beer-floor sticky and old gum disgusting under bar tables.

So, me wanting to leave a bar is not a new thing. But this Portland bar? This was the bar of short stories in the New Yorker, Hemingway, and Raymond Carver.  There were no hipsters. The place had a pool table, scarred from fights and bad hits. The only other decoration was a giant mirrored Miller Lite sign on the wall.  It had a really skinny, old man bartending who wobbled a bit while he poured and repositioned his man parts with his hand before he put a straw in the owner’s glass.

When I came in, three guys at the far end of the bar were talking to each other about women and um… making babies…? I’m not sure how to phrase that delicately. But it wasn’t about delicately making babies; that’s for sure.

They stopped talking when I came into sight because I am not full of testosterone. Anyways, it was a weird scene. But at the end of my one beer, the bartender was talking and offered a piece of his recent history.

On the back of his head was a huge scar, just congealed and thick and rough looking.

“I fell down Tuesday. I was getting a smoke and I stepped off the curb and wham… Stepped wrong. I had some booze in me, too, but my legs aren’t so good anymore and I wobble,” he said. He showed me his scar. “It bled all over the place. My daughter’s studying to be a lawyer and she’s so mad at me because I wouldn’t go to the hospital. The EMT guys when they came? They were like, ‘You have to stop smoking so we can work on you,’ and I was like pointing at the blood pouring down my face and I was, ‘Hey, man, I went through a lot to get this cigarette lit. Can I have two drags?’ And they said that I could.”

My Post-4

He smiled. He shrugged. He pointed at the massive scar on the back of his head again and laughed at himself.

Here’s a guy who listens to other people’s stories all day, stuck in the stifling, hot building, prowling behind a bar as the Portland tourists pretty much snub their noses, peeking in and gasping, heading for trendier places. Portland was just named best restaurant city in the U.S. by Bon Appetit or some magazine like that. There are a lot of trendier places.

But he told me his story that day. He told me about his medic son. His daughter. The way he can’t stand so well anymore. The way that sometimes he just longs to step outside the bar and have a cigarette so sometimes he does.

“But I wobble,” he said.

“We all wobble,” I offered and he looked at me. He really looked for a second, and then another.

“You get it,” he said. “You get it.”

I can only hope.

There is this beautiful weirdness that happens when you step out of your comfort zone in life and in writing.  There is nothing cooler than the delightful quirky connections that happen when you actually talk to people about themselves, the bartenders, the house cleaners, the guy who hoses out a restaurant’s grease pit, the woman who grooms dogs, the lady at the campground with what seems like 18 kids and a breast cancer plate on her truck. There is this great connection that happens in the noise and clutter of life when we just take a second to listen.

And that’s what I want when I write and when I live: I want to listen.

Writing News or Buy My Stuff, Please

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

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RANDOM DIATRIBE ON A SUNDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WRITER? Or WHY DO I SUCK SO MUCH?

What does it mean to be a writer?

I don’t know.

This year, I accidentally saw a family deal with the murder of their daughter. And their pain was raw and poignant. I wrote about it. I’m used to writing about things I don’t understand, things that make the world seem wrong. When I wrote it,  I wanted to extol our community, to be kind to them during their pain. I wanted to get reporters to step back while they grieved.

It was the wrong thing to do.

And I cried for hours when I realized it.

I made a mistake.

I make mistakes all the time.

Creative nonfiction is hard because it is so incredibly real and every time you write a story (as a reporter or blogger or public image person or whatever) you create ripples that you can’t control, which is why I give a lot of leeway to the press and what they try to do.

I try hard to find the humanity in horror. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened. I wrote about it. When I found a dead body. I wrote about it. When I was hurt by other people, I wrote about it… eventually.

I write to find a way through pain and I think… I think a lot of writers do that.

But people don’t always want us to. I used to think I was a good person, particularly because I kind of love almost everyone I meet. Even if they suck. Even if they hurt me. I still love them.

My ex-husband said to me once, “I don’t understand why you are still kind to me.”

I said, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

But sometimes. Sometimes? In my quest for understanding through writing, I think I might fail to be kind because I don’t think of all the potential repercussions. I go after life like some sort of weird no-chill terror, especially when I don’t understand why people are being violent or cruel. When I wrote about one of the best guys I know, a drug-addict, a felon, a guy who risked his life by going into a house on fire to save other people? I knew that other people had different opinions of him and would deride me. It didn’t matter. When I wrote about volunteer firefighters in my town, I knew that some people would deride me and say that what I was writing was schmaltz. That didn’t matter either.

I still wrote.

I don’t know how not to celebrate other people’s bravery, success, heroism. That doesn’t make them perfect. It makes what they did in that moment – exceptional.

And I have a really hard time asking for things in return. Or accepting praise.

“You should be a public speaker like a motivational speaker,” people keep telling me.

And what do I say back?

I say, “Oh gosh. That’s so nice. But have you heard my s’s? I sound like a Muppet.”

That’s self-sabotage right there. DO NOT DO THIS! Do not be like me.

Recently, one of my books was released, and I watched as all these beautiful people that I didn’t know at all (except through social media) retweet and share this, but my actual real-life friends? Only three of them shared my news and that… it hurt.

I had to dig deep and figure out why it hurt and I realized it’s because I try really hard to share people’s triumphs and companies and need and nonprofits and fundraisers. And  none of those people shared mine. And I have a hard time asking them to share, to review, to subscribe, to like.

Why is it that I think that they deserve it, but I have such a hard time asking for the same things myself?

That’s the question.

But that doesn’t mean that good has to be reciprocated. It doesn’t mean that they have to care about me, too. I get that.

But in this weird social media world where I have to sell books to stay an author, it kind of makes me panic. How do I get people to buy and read and review my books?

I don’t know.

I’m an internationally and NYT-bestselling author. I know I’m a great writing coach and mentor. I know that as an author I’m getting better all the time.

It isn’t enough.

And all of us writers? We live on this weird edge, this precipice that we’re afraid to fall off. Will we sell enough books? Will anyone notice us? Will they only notice us enough to angry tweet at us?  How the hell do we even tweet? Will people even know we exist?

And our amazing readers eat our stories rare; they fill them with their own love (or not), their own care (or not). Writing a book is this weird two-way communication where us authors aren’t sure that anyone is hearing what we’re saying. But they do. In quiet rooms, in libraries, on subways, on kindles, in real-life books… they read us.

That’s scary AF.

I don’t know if it’s enough to survive financially. That’s scary AF, too.

Erotic novels, romance, pain, they sell like crazy. We writers thicken our plots with so many sauces like apocalypse, and dystopian, and love. We hurl around our websites and tweets and hope that they stick.

But do they?

I don’t know.

This world of writing is so intimidating. But I know – I am positive, that even if nobody reads my stories, I will keep writing.

 

Cooking With a Writer – Grilled Miso Vegetables of Awesome

So, we are currently hanging out in a camper and renting out our house because you make big money renting out your house for the summer when you live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

And this means….

That we’re cooking outside a lot and the man is winning in his quest to be Captain Carnivore and I am losing in my quest to make us a happy vegetarian household… or is it camper-hold?

And to make it worse, Captain Carnivore is not into vegetables, thus his name. He won’t touch cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini or anything actually good.

But I made this anyway because sometimes I want to make something I like. And I like this… I like it a lot.

Miso Grilled Vegetables of Awesome

This recipe owes everything to Cooking Light and Naomi Duguid. All poorly thought out deviations are my fault. 

Course dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine American, grill, outdoor
Keyword miso, vegetables
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 Shaun sized people
Calories 180 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2.5 tbsp miso - white
  • 1.5 tbsp water or enough to make it right
  • 3 tbsp olive oil plus a bit more if needed for consistency
  • 1 lb zuchinni cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick
  • .5 lb eggplant cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick
  • 2 whole peppers red and orange and yellow are the coolest. Sorry. Green. Cut each into six pieces
  • 1 whole red onion cut into wedges
  • 1 big spray cooking spray
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves optional
  • 1 whole lime optional

Instructions

  1. Use the cooking spray to coat your grill rack. Not the outside of the grill. Then turn the grill on to high heat. 

    Think about how some writers write under the influence of illegal drugs. Wonder how they keep track of their plot. 

  2. Put miso and water together. Wonder if they like each other or are eyeing each other warily, wondering what will happen next. 


    Shout, "IT'S A PARTY," and  slowly add oil. Stir them all up with a whisk and sing your favorite party song. Are there writer party songs? There should be. 

    Put the vegetables EXCEPT THE ONION in a pan, say, "Now it's really a party, babies!"

    Add about 5 tablespoons of the miso party mixture. 

    Toss it up.

    Think about parties from your younger days.  

    Feel badly for the onion, out on its own with no miso mix, unable to be tossed around because it's too fragile and will break apart.

    Feel like the onion.

    Brush onion with what's left of the miso marinade, and whisper, "It's okay... You can party, too. You're okay. You're loved and included."

  3. Put everyone on the rack on the grill, even the onion.

    Zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper can only party for about 4 minutes on each side. 

    They don't have the onion's stamina. Be proud of the onion and grill it for 6 minutes on either side.

    Basically, grill the veggies until they are tender veggies.

    Put some mint on them and serve them with lime wedges. Because they are done. 

Shaun Verdict: You are trying to kill me.

Dog Verdict: Rub some dirt on it, we’ll call it good.

Carrie Verdict: THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date was August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. She is not sure where it is in Maine. She thinks… Augusta?

 

Wednesday Writing Tips How to Hook Readers And How Not To Bore Them

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

We like stories where we can quickly identify with the main character, or at least a character, pretty early on.

Think about all the BuzzFeed quizzes that ask, “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Buffy Character Are You?” “Who Are You In The Wire?” “What Disney Princess Are You?”

It goes on and on.

We humans like to identify with characters who are in the stories we read or the video we watch. It’s like a nice pat on the back that says we aren’t alone, and it creates community.

Don’t Do This:

  1. Start with dialogue on the first line. It’s hard to care about the person speaking if you haven’t met them yet.

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

2. Tell us stuff we don’t need to know.

So, in 1870 or something like that I had this great great aunt who allegedly stepped on a nail or something, not that it matters. Although, maybe it mattered to her, but yeah. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Neither does the reader.

3. Introduce 18 characters in the first paragraphs. It’s hard to remember who is who and who is important.

As Belinda walked inside the Timberland RV Campground in Trenton, Maine she waved hello to Lincoln, son-in-law of the owner, a retired man with a name like Jack or something, and then she waved to Debbie, Lincoln’s wife, who was riding on a golf cart with Charlene. Peggy was perched on the back with a blonde child whose name I think is Jackie…

Enough said, right?

4. And finally describe things just for the sake of describing them.

Timberland RV Campground descended into a slight hill, managing to split itself across two town lines. It was Trenton in the front and Ellsworth in the back and the back was where there were no trees surrounding the sites, just pull-in places for the giant RVs and motorhomes and campers and busses. I have no idea which is which. I’d never been in a campground before, but they had hook-ups at some of the sites for water and sewer, or just one, and electricity. There were metal fire rings and some people had fancied up their sites with flowers and decks and lobster buoys because… Maine.

 

You can find the other posts in this series by searching the hookingreaderstag.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date was yesterday, August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. That’s tonight!

She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

The Why? Also HOLY CRUD, my book is coming out tomorrow and I am legit freaking out and having a total existential crisis post.

Maybe since I have a book coming out tomorrow, I’ve been thinking a lot about success and happiness because I think too much, honestly, but I recently found a TedTalk by a guy who was thinking about things in a way that I was.

To be fair, he was talking about what makes a good leader and not specifically about personal success and/or happiness.

But to me, that’s all part of the same thing.

We all have to be leaders in our own life, the protagonists of our story, right? So our success and happiness comes from how we lead and live our lives.

And this guy, Simon Sinek, talks about the “why.” Great leaders know the why of their brand or their company or their cause, he says. They communicate and motivate from the inside out.

In his Ted Talk, he says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

And he cites a whole bunch of examples to back his theory up. So, you should check it out, but before you do, I’m hoping you’ll think about yourself. What do you believe?

Why do you do what you do?

Why do you write books? Why do you sing songs? Why do you caretake houses? Why do you watch the shows you watch or geek out over the things you geek out about?

IMG-5852

Sparty the Dog: How about you, Carrie?

Oh, Sparty. Seriously? You’re going to ask me this right now.

Sparty: Of course. That is the point of dog. Our ‘why’ is to make humans happy, think deeply, and also to make them feel loved and score some bacon out of the deal.

Okay. I write books because I believe in kids and the power of empathy. I write books because I believe that we have to escape into goodness and magic for awhile. I write books because I want to be heard and to inspire others about friendship and love and goodness.

Dogs are Smarter Than People
Hmm… Let me think about that.

Sparty: What about that Rotary thing you’re always volunteering for? You’re always running off places to run meetings and train people about public image and let me tell you, those times do not involve bacon for me. So, I kind of resent them.

I am so sorry, buddy! But bacon is not everything in life.

Sparty: Yes, it is.

Cough. Okay, I’m in Rotary because I believe that people can make a difference in other people’s lives, that we can make communities stronger, that we can change things – eradicate the bad and lift up the good. Rotary is a global network of leaders who commit to making a difference and creating good in their community and the world.

When I was talking to a friend last week about all the kids Rotary has immunized against Polio, he couldn’t believe it.

“That’s not possible,” he said. “2.5 billion kids isn’t possible.”

But it is. It’s true. It’s possible. Why do that? Because why wouldn’t you save a kids’ life? That’s why.

And books (maybe not mine) can save kids lives too. They make possibilities, places to escape to when you’re world is too bad to deal with. They are information wrapped up in empathy and we as a world? We need that.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! THAT IS TOMORROW!!! ACK!!!! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

This is the link to my blooper reel where I’m trying to read a chapter of my book like a normal, non-weird, non-dorky writer would. Be warned. It is horrifying. Legit horrifying.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

 

Cooking With a Writer

So, in an effort to make life healthier, I’ve been posting and trying vegetarian recipes.

This week’s efforts were thwarted by some anger I had at Adobe Support, who kept me waiting in the tech support chat room for an hour and never supported me.

So, um…. It gets ugly.

Caldo Verde Without the Meat

I know! It's pretty much sacrilegious

Course entree
Cuisine portuguese, soup, vegetarian
Keyword calo verde
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6 people who are not Shaun and eat normal sized portions
Calories 250 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs potatoes - gold peeled, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 whole onion chopped
  • .5 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch kale or collard greens
  • 8 cups veggie broth
  • .5 whatever salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the greens into super thin strips while waiting for Adobe Support to answer your chat message. 

  2. Get a pot. Check to see if Adobe has answered yet. Realize they hate you

  3. In the pot put potatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil and broth.

  4. Read the Adobe  support message thanking you for your patience. Realize that they have now resent that message 11 times. 

    That's a lot of thanking.

    Bring pot ingredients to a boil while contemplating how to get Adobe Support to notice you. Wonder if you should angry Tweet. 

  5. Lower heat to medium. Cook 20 minutes. Check that support chat. Realize they really are never going to answer you.

  6. Realize how dependent you are on Adobe for your podcast, newsletter, website, and pretty much whole life. 

    Cry bitterly

  7. Remove potatoes from pot. Mash them. Return to pot. 

    Have violent, mashing thoughts about Adobe support but then remember you are a peace-loving pacifist writer of picture books. Suppress the urge. 

  8. Find or borrow a hand blender. Blend soup until it is smooth. 


  9. Add greens. 

    Cook for 15 more minutes.

    Realize Adobe is indeed never going to respond to you.

    Angry tweet. 

  10. Add salt and pepper, maybe some extra olive oil. 

    Eat. 

    Do not share it with Adobe Support

 

 

Man Verdict: It needs sausage. What’s that Portuguese sausage?

Dogs Verdict: Or bacon.

Carrie Verdict: You all aren’t getting the point of this.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-ordermy middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

Wednesday Writing Hints – How To Keep Readers Reading, Part Four

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

CONFLICT

Here’s the thing. People want to read books where stuff happens. Where there is a push and pull between two wants or needs. Readers are evil in a good way and writers are, too.

Conflict keeps us involved in the story. We want to see who wins and who loses. Conflict keeps the story moving forward. Conflict is the best.

How does conflict happen?

Your hero makes a mistake. Your hero lies. Your hero is in love with a lying liar who lies. Your hero has to save the world from baddies. Your hero wants something that isn’t good for her.

But it’s really all about consequences. Choices make things happen. Those things that happen? Those are the consequences. Conflict often ramps up those consequences.

ADD A MEANIE HEAD

In more elegant speech, add an antagonist, that jerk who is pushing your hero’s buttons, who wants the hero to fail, who are real (not Kim Possible antagonists here, people) but who oppose the hero.

They are the opposition. The Yankees to the Red Sox. The Voldemort to the Harry Potter. They don’t have to be a villain, but they have to be the force that makes conflict happen.

And that force? It not just forces your hero into action and thought and decision? It also forces your reader to keep reading.

 

Army Mom CopyWriting News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseballis a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

Blissed Out Monday

IMG-5852Sparty the Dog: Human, I worry about you.

Me: Why now, Sparty?

Sparty the Dog: Not you specifically, but all humans, really.

Me: 

Sparty the Dog: 

Me: Okay. Ready.

Sparty: You live too much in your mind and not enough in your heart.  You live too much in your teams and not enough as a whole. You think differences are scary and surround yourself with the similar.

Me: 

Sparty: I broke your brain, didn’t I?

Me: Pretty much.

 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Carrie is the writing coach I always dreamed of having. She has such a great balance in her feedback between singing your praises at what is working and giving you honest criticism at what still needs development. Carrie goes above and beyond in her editorial letters, giving very clear and detailed feedback, and her eagerness to answer any questions makes the whole experience of critique—which can be a very vulnerable experience—make you feel like you’re with a trusted friend that you’ve known for years (even though you just met). 
 – Jason Gallagher, author of WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

Cooking With A Writer – It’s spaghetti. It’s risotto. It’s spaghetti risotto?

Sorry for the break last week. I was having some major life issues that involved weeping.

Hint: Major Life Issue = Bringing daughter to the airport to head back to the Army.

But I’m back now and no longer crying, so I can give you this recipe, which is a take on a lot of broken spaghetti recipes I’ve been seeing last week.

Carrie’s internal thoughts: Am I seeing all these broken spaghetti recipes because I feel broken inside? Is this a sign from the universe?

Please ignore my internal thoughts.

Anyway, a lot of us authors have an occasional identity crisis. We want to be a middle grade author and then we realize we’re better at pictures books. We want to write erotica, but then… Apparently, hamster erotica is not a thing and so we write books about psychology instead.

 

This recipe is sort of like that.

 

It’s spaghetti, but it’s not really. It’s more risotto. And that’s cool, actually. Nobody needs to make spaghetti be relegated to clam sauce, pesto and tomato sauce. Let spaghetti live and explore its identity, I say!

So, here you go:

Spaghetti Risotto

Yep. It's weird. Just like me.

Course dinner
Cuisine American, vegetarian
Keyword risotto, spaghetti
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 399 kcal

Ingredients

  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 3 tsp herbes de provence say it like you're French even if you aren't
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 8 oz spaghetti break it all up
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes or to taste or not at all
  • .25 tsp black pepper and salt to taste
  • 1 cup mushrooms, orange peppers, peas chopped - you can pick the veggies you prefer. Beware that mushrooms give off some water

Instructions

  1. Find a big pan. Put pan on medium-high burner. Throw in the garlic and olive oil and some veggie broth (a tablespoon – maybe two).

  2. Add the vegetables to the pan and saute them for 2-3 minutes. Make them soft. 

  3. Break your spaghetti. Imagine it is all the editors and agents who ever rejected you. Cackle with joy and revenge. 

  4. Add the spaghetti. It is broken. But you, my little writer friend, are not broken. You are triumphant! You will write on! Stir it all around. Think about cackling again. Stir and cackle for two more minutes until it is a new color. That color should be light brown. 

  5. Add a half of a cup of veggie broth at a time. Keep stirring. DO NOT STOP STIRRING. Do this until the pasta is all the way cooked. 

  6. Add hot pepper flakes. Add parsley. Add black pepper and salt. 

Man Verdict: I can eat all of this.

Dogs Verdict: We can, too!

Carrie Verdict: Yep. It’s a go.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-ordermy middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseballis a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

How to Make People Keep Reading, Part Three

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Make it Weird

 

If possible, make your situation not quite so run-of-the-mill. You have a love story. It’s set in Paris. Okay, great. Can it be set in a tattoo parlor in Paris?

 

Readers like both the familiar and the unexpected, so take something typical like a love story and add in a little weirdness – a love story between a human and an aquatic being.

 

Emotion isn’t constant

 

Nobody wants to read a story where the main character is always angry or always happy or always passionate or always mellow. There are ups and downs to people’s emotions. There should be ups and downs in your character’s emotions, too.

 

Some writing coaches/teachers/whatever-word-you’d-like-to-use advocate changes emotions in every scene in big ways. I think this works sometimes and sometimes it sort of lulls the reader into expecting those shifts and therefore that makes those shifts less authentic.

 

Authentic emotion = good

Changing emotion = good

Forced emotion = bad

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC