Why Manuscript Critiques are Like First Dates and What Exactly is an Editorial Letter

I am a firm believer that humans should help other humans. A couple of people have asked me about manuscript critiques.

So, I’m going to take a quick moment and explain about manuscript critiques and how it relates to dating.

BIG QUESTION NUMBER ONE: 

What tip can you give to best approach another writer’s manuscript in critique?

Here’s the thing: Critiques are like mini-relationships. 

If you go in there and look at that piece of work (be it a person or a manuscript) with an insecure attitude, you are going to do harm even if you don’t mean to do harm. 

I’ve broken up with critique groups because members would make one published (former bestselling) author cry every single time they met. It wasn’t because she was the one who was insecure. It was because they attacked her writing over and over again.

Yes, I yelled at them before I quit. Yes, I was a little drama queen about it. I was a new author back then and like now, I get a bit self-righteous.

2. Since critiques are like mini-relationships, try to present your best self as a critiquer. Do not go in there with an attitude. Do not go in there insecure and hoping to cut someone down in the guise of helping. So not cool.

If you’re on a first-date do you really want to be snarky? Do you really want to spend the whole time showing off how smart you are about narrative arcs or quotation mark punctuation? 

I hope not. If so? You and me? Not dating. 

I think the best dates and the best critiquers talk about specifics (good and bad) but also listen to intention. It isn’t about them showing off. It isn’t about them being jealous about how hot their date (or their date’s manuscript) is. Instead, it’s a connection. It’s a communication. It’s about making the real world or the writing world (in the form of the manuscript) a slightly better place. 

3. If you’re in a critique group or a workshop, beware of the group mind mentality. This goes for dates too.

Have you ever gone on a date and felt like the person you were talking to wasn’t just presenting his/her opinion but the opinion of:


a. Mom.
b. Best friend.
c. Stephen King.
d. Everyone they went to high school with.
e. A president (past or present).

Sometimes group critiques can be like this with everyone’s individual opinions melding into the opinion of OH GREAT ONE.

OH GREAT ONE can be:


a. The tenured professor
b. The alpha female 
c. The alpha male
d. The super-published author
e. A muppet with a butcher knife

If this starts to happen, please PLEASE please do not be a lemming. It’s sometimes so hard, but remember your opinion is just as worthy as the alpha’s opinion, and the award winners and presidents.

And the person who is being critiqued NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR OPINION, too. Don’t be afraid to have a different opinion. It’s totally allowed and needs to be heard. 

BIG QUESTION NUMBER TWO: 

What’s an editorial letter like?  


For all you non-writers out there or my friend, William, an editorial letter is what you get after the miracle happens.


The miracle is called: MY BOOK HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BY A PUBLISHER CAN WE HAPPY DANCE IN THE KITCHEN FOREVER?

The editorial letter is typically suggestions from the editor about how to make your book made of awesome.

Let me give you a quick run-down of some of my editors.


Editor #1 has not given me any editorial letter. He is a very mysterious man. He simply told my agent, “I don’t think we need to do anything.”


This makes me nervous.

Editor #2 has given me multiple editorial letters on a single work, which is NEED!

Anyway this editor who may or may not be Michelle Nagler? She mails them. They are full of suggestions like, “Carrie, you have said the word ‘hands,’ 5,342 times in this manuscript. Would you mind changing that?” 

Or, “Um … the entire middle is a bit … It sags. It needs a tummy tuck. Can we speed up the pace?”

Her letters were amazing because they were so detailed and structure oriented.  I loved them because they gave me ideas about revision. Occasionally, I would read a comment and have a panic attack, but then within 20 minutes I was always ready to fix things. 

Editor #3 gave me editorial letters on the phone. They weren’t letters. This editor who may or may not be Andrew Karre? He would talk, reading off his notes about the book. I would take my own notes while he talked. They were often about theme and character and he would say things like, “I think it’s about longing.” Or sometimes he’d say, “You know. There are no details about the physical world. How would those details show where the heck she is and longing?” 

Then I would get 1,004 amazing ideas and be all jazzed up to write. 

This would happen a couple times during the process for some books. In one book it only happened once. 

Once, my editorial letter (on the phone) was: Carrie! You changed EVERYONE’S name. Is there a… Is there a reason for this?

I also know that this editor does not always work that way. He emails letters. He snail mails letters. He’ll do anything his author needs.

Here’s the thing: Just like dating, critiquing is a relationship and there’s a lot of trust involved whether the critiques is another writer or a reader or an editor. All good relationships? Well, they are about respect and communication. The intentions should always be about making the strongest book ever and encouraging the author to do just that.

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_9486.jpg

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST! 

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

Advertisements

TOTAL Writer NaNoWriMo Breakdown

It is I, the lovable monster Grover, and I have taken over the blog because … How do I say this? Carrie is not doing well. Oh no, she is not doing well at all.

She is doing NaNoWriMo again.

National Novel Writing Month is where writers try to draft out 50,000 words of a first draft of a novel in a month, which amounts to 1,667 words a day. Carrie’s very first published novel was drafted like this all the way back in 2005 or something. Carrie and I (Grover) are not good at dates.

I am Carrie’s internal cheerleader, which is what she uses to combat her internal critic, but I must tell you that I, the furry, blue, superhero of a Muppet that I am? Well, I am at a loss.

Carrie is pretty much at the point of Writer TOTAL Breakdown. Have you not heard of this? I, Grover, will explain. 

Writer Nervous Breakdown is where writer (in this case Carrie) screams and cries and then folds into a tiny little ball and cries some more. At some point she gets up and gets tissues because her face is all snotty. At another point she rocks back and forth mumbling, “Plot structure… Plot structure… Plot structure.” She will then most likely decide to quit being a writer. 

I am her official cheerleader but I am at a loss people. I think she is beyond all hope. 

She has named the story LETTERS TO KARDASHIANS, but she can’t remember how to spell Kardashian. Things are dire!

If you’d like to friend her on NaNoWriMo, she is pixiewritermaine. She will send you all her support because writers? They are people, too, and they need support.

She likes friends and also care packages, five-star reviews, libraries, puppies, kittens, and Grovers.

And carbs. She really likes carbs.

Writing News

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST!

Hello, I’m Super Medicated and Writer Flow

I’m currently super medicated thanks to surgery, and my inability to metabolically react to even simple drugs well. So, I decided rather than try to be coherent or babble incessantly about how I hurt, I would share this podcast from January.

Why?

  1. I don’t trust my medicated self
  2. One of my writing students needs to hear it.
  3. Although this is from New Years, a lot of us think of New Years as fall, or we’re about to start National Novel Writing Month and it still pertains.
  4. Did I mention that medicated thing?

So here goes.

Sometimes it’s hard to be super positive when you’re starting s project or thinking about new beginnings and a new year.

That’s because it’s all about goals and new starts. And you know, every day should be about that, right? And then you’re like, “Crap, I failed in my goals. Crap, I need new goals. Crap, why is this New Year’s party boring? Crap, should my new goal to be to never attend a party?”

And so on.

But that pressure? To be Instagram-worthy, to be super achiever goal person, to be extra? That’s what makes New Years suck. At this house, we like to just celebrate that we’re still alive, not bankrupt, and not in jail. It’s way better that way because there’s not as much pressure.

A long time ago – back in the 1980s – this guy Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying happiness. He gave people pagers. Remember this was in the 1980s. Then he and his research assistants would send the people messages at random times and ask how they were doing, feeling, what they were doing, etc. It sounds a bit like when your mom texts you, honestly.

And he discovered flow. People were happy when they were super engaged in the task they were doing. People weren’t happy when they were doing nothing. They were happy when they were involved in something. 

Minds were blown.

When people were in the ‘flow,’ they forgot about time, space, all the other detritus in their lives. They were focused on the now, on what they were doing. What they were doing might be writing, sports, hanging out with other humans, art, and so on… But for them the involvement was so intense that they became engaged and absorbed into it and were happy.

Writing should do that for you.

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN! 

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Yesterday’s podcast

A.S. King is Awesome – Throwback Interview

I love A. S. King. She is brilliant, raw, authentic, and an all-around bad ass when it comes to championing people and moments and writing. I found an interview I had with her back in 2010! That makes me so old, right? But she is too brilliant-adorable for me not to repost it.

Here Goes.

You are now Entering a Time Machine Where A.S. King‘s Second Novel is Coming Out and Hasn’t Yet Become a 2011 Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book and an Edgar Allan Poe Award nominee for “Best Young Adult Novel.”

Today I am hosting my super awesome friend/writer A.S. King. Here she is in all her awesome pizza-knowledge glory!!! YAY!! I am in BOLD. Amy is not.

Ding dong. Pizza delivery. I’ve got a mushroom, onion and black olive here ...

First, I want to thank you, Carrie Jones (CARRIE JONES!!) for kicking off this blog tour with me. Thank you! It’s hard to think up fun stuff when promoting a book, but Please Ignore Vera Dietz, which comes out TOMORROW, gave me this great idea because Vera Dietz delivers pizzas in the book and I was once a pizza delivery technician too, and so, I’ve decided to go back to my former life for a few months and deliver some cool people some [metaphorical] pizzas.  

Could you please post an embarrassing picture of yourself and explain. it. Please tell me Amy is this picture of embarrassingness typical for you?

I know this looks like a picture of a filthy little boy. But really, this is a picture of me after my first two-week session at summer camp. I can pretty much guarantee you that I hadn’t really bathed in fourteen days, or if I did, I didn’t do a very good job of it. I believe this was the same year as the t-shirt I loved so much I wore it every single day. Also, the year I had a half-eaten apple in my trunk so that when I got home and my mom unpacked it, there were ants EVERYWHERE.

I know I was supposed to post an embarrassing picture, and in ways this is embarrassing, but it’s also kinda cool. Because I loved summer camp and this picture captures what I loved about it. Getting dirty. Soot. Minimal attention to hygiene.


To answer your question–actually, yes. For a little while there on the farm in Ireland, in the months before we got a bathtub or shower, this was pretty typical for me.

You look brilliant and adorable and way cooler than I ever was. So here is question #2: Has anyone ever come to the door dressed in bubble wrap when you delivered a pizza?

No bubble wrap. But I have been greeted by half-naked people, people too drunk to count money, a guy in a Grim Reaper Halloween costume and my favorite, the guy with the gunóno. He wasn’t robbing me. He was just cleaning it, I think. Freaked me out completely. (I was actually robbed at gunpoint a few years later and I think this episode probably had something to do with how I didn’t really take that really-robbing-me guy seriously until he got right up to me and pointed it at my head.) (Don’t worry. I was fine. He got away with about $40. He was wearing nice green slacks. I moved to Ireland where guns are illegal. All worked out.)

3. AMY!!!!! That is so not cool. I’m glad about Ireland though, but that is so not cool! Let’s ask something mellow: What is your least favorite color crayon and why?

Wow. I never thought about this. I mean, I can tell you my #1 favorite color crayon. Periwinkle blue. But least favorite? Hmm. Let me have a look.


[Three weeks pass as Amy goes on a valiant quest to find her least favorite color crayon. During this time she is amazed at how many crayon colors she really loves. Like silver. How cool is silver? Or those cool neon ones they have now? Not a huge fan of the sparkly ones, but the neon ones totally make up for that.] 

Answer: Tumbleweed, hands down. First off, it’s the color of dog poop. Or that dull flesh-colored spandex they use in circus costumes to give the illusion of nudity. Or a beige bra if washed with a load of darks. Sorry Tumbleweed. Nothing personal. You’re just not my thing, man.

Thank you so much for being here and answering three dorky questions, Amy. You’re the best. And your book is, too.

Before I go, I should really tell you a little about my book, shouldnít I?

Cough. Yes! Cough.

PLEASE IGNORE VERA DIETZ is a Junior Library Guild selection for Fall 2010!!

18-year-old Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything. So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone. Will she emerge and clear his name? Does she even want to? 
  

“Brilliant. Funny. Really special.” –Ellen Hopkins, author of NYT bestselling Crank, Glass and Tricks 

Thank you so much Carrie, for having me over to you blog! I hope you enjoy your pizza and the book! You rock! 

Nope. Amy. You rock. Always have. Always will. Especially when covered with 14-days worth of dirt.

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

Learn With Me at the Writing Barn!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Never Give Up Hope. How I Got Published Even When I Did Everything Wrong

I was trying to think of something cool and pithy to write here today, but I can’t think of anything.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a reporter who is writing an article about me for our paper and she reminded me of how I did absolutely everything wrong when I was submitting my first book. So, I thought that maybe if I shared that story with you all, it would ease up some of the pressure you put on yourselves and your writing to be perfect. 

how did carrie get published?

It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my Livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

the 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food on the table.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.

Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”

What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.

This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.

the 31st, 2006

So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.

And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.

Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.

the 4th, 2006

Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.

That is so sweet of him.

But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.

On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.

the 9th, 2006

Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.

He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.

YIPPPEEEE!!!!

So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….

the 3rd, 2006

Well, today was a happy fine day because today the JOHN WAYNE LETTERS (title soon to be changed I am sure) passed an acquisitions committee and is now officially wanted with an offer on the table.

Yippee!!!

What karma gods did I appease? Was it when I helped the little old lady at the grocery store heft her 20-lb bag of kitty litter on to the checkout thing? Was it when I agreed to help run the middle school civil rights team or the drama club?

Was it simply when I refused to succumb to road rage when the guy in the Subaru refused to yield and almost t-boned me? Instead of succumbing to road rage, I thought, ‘Oh, perhaps I’ll get a new car out of this. I hope there’s no major injuries involved.’

I don’t know why. I’m just happy. That’s two YA books now. Now I need to find someone who’ll like my middle grade.

AND my birthday was good despite the fact that I am now old, old, old because I am the same age my mother was when she had me. That is just horrifying. Sigh.

No, wait. I am happy, happy, happy. So happy, in fact, that I’ll even spell check this.

I am not an officially published author yet, because no contracts have been signed but I AM SO CLOSE!

Now in 2019

That book was published here and in Canada (French and English). Some bookstores did not carry it because it had the word ‘gay’ in the title. It won a Maine Literary award. It won an Independent Book Publishers award, but it also made me a writer and started me off on the weird journey that I’m on. 

All that happened despite the absolute lack of perfection.

So have hope. No matter what your dreams. You can do this even if you can’t spell your own last name.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Do the Living Alone

While most people know me as a young adult author thanks to the NEED series, I wrote  TIME STOPPERS, a middle-grade series published with Bloomsbury and before my time at Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA program, I was a newspaper columnist, editor, and poet.

Write Across Genres

I think it is super cool how writers can write across platforms and how their work can change as the world changes, their understandings change, and their own needs change.

The take away here is:  don’t be hemmed in by just writing one thing! Write what you want. 

More info on all the different things I’ve written, plus writing tips are on my website.

This is a photo of me after receiving VCFA’s distinguished alum award. You can tell I acting in a super distinguished manner right after that. Kekla Magoon also received one. She was way more poised. 

So, to harken back to that era of writing, here’s a column that was in a paper a few years ago. It ran alongside an article about drug use in Maine and the lack of care for transients with alcohol and/or drug dependencies. 

Dying Alone

It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that we found him, dead beneath a shed on Water Street. Then he was only spotted because an oil spill into the Union River brought firefighters and reporters close by.

We noticed his naked feet first. Then we saw him stretched out between car tires and a garage door.

 The Bangor Daily News reporter I was with told the firefighters who were still down by the river trying to mop up oil.

“Guys, there’s a body up here,” he said. His voice was quiet, still, a nothing voice and the words fell out into the world and for a moment nobody moved.

 “A body?”

But Kenneth Butler was more than a body. He was a man.

According to Ellsworth police, Kenny Butler had a long history of medical problems, including heart trouble. No one’s quite sure where he was living before he died by abandoned car tires last week.

On a normal day, people go missing. Sometimes that gets noticed. Sometimes it doesn’t. On a normal day, people die. Sometimes that gets noticed. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I noticed Kenny Butler’s death. So did that Bangor Daily News reporter. So did his family.

Kenny Butler drank a lot. He did drugs. He couldn’t go to our county’s only shelter on cold winter days because they don’t allow people who are using drugs or who are drunk. Sometimes when people detox, they have seizures. Sometimes, they get violent. So, Kenny crawled beneath the basement of a shed, wedged himself between an old door and some tires. Then he died, in the cold, alone.

The police came, put on their purple latex gloves, strung up yellow tape to cordon off the area. As they took over, I thought about who Kenny Butler might be. I thought too about people who go missing from our lives by inches every day. The phone calls we fail to return. The smiles we are sometimes afraid to give.

I didn’t work anymore that Friday. My little girl, Em, stood close by all afternoon. She tugged on my sleeve.

 “I don’t want to die alone,” she said.

Her eyes filled and just underneath that edge of sadness, awakening floated.

“I don’t want you to die alone either,” she added.

The wind whipping up off the Union River grew even colder that Friday afternoon. I knew what she meant. She looked up at a treehouse we were working on. It’s high among four trees. We could have stood on the platform, but there weren’t any walls yet, only tree trunks and branches separating us from falling, sheltering us from the sky.

“It’s the living you don’t want to do alone,” I told her. “That’s more important than the dying.”

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Shaun Reveals Why People Divorce. Plus, Hippies and Rotarians.

  00:00 / 00:23:561X

Cat Butt Sabotage

All those fitness-trainer-guru people talk about the perils of your family ruining your quest for fitness.

I never realized my family was like that until this morning. I was doing push-up sets.

In between sets, I sat up because honestly my floor was sooooo dirty it was kind of grossing me out and making my nose all twitchy from the dust. This is when it all went wrong, because the moment I sat up who should appear?

No! Not Santa! But look even Santa is running and getting all health-i-fied now! It must be because of all that Bill Maher fat-shaming stuff.

But, no, it wasn’t Santa. It was actually my cat.

Marsie, the cat

“Marsie, baby,” I told her as she settled in and took up ALL my push-up space. “You need to move. I need to build up my upper body strength.

Marsie:

“Honey, could you move? My minute has passed. I need to do my last set.”

Marsie:

So, knowing I was defeated, I moved backwards and started my next set. What did she do? She got up too and walked over to me and then showed me her kitty bottom! Okay. She didn’t show me. She SHOVED it in my face! 

Sigh. 

I’m going to have to do my push-ups in the bedroom and lock the door from now on.

Marsie: Lock the door? Don’t make me laugh! Locks do not stop me! Not with these monster kitty claws. These monster kitty claws can knock down a door. You don’t KNOW what these monster kitty claws are capable of. 

Marsie the cat

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Remembering the Good Even on September 11th

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 eighteen 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. My baby girl grew up into a butt-kicking, brilliant Harvard graduate and field artillery officer in the army.

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 the photo 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 former 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 eighty, is an EMT. He became one when he was sixty-five. 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. And it’s their names that I will say over and over again. Ben Jones. Charles Crandall. Ben. Charlie. And so many others.

Writers are just Actors Playing all the Roles

I come from a theater background – sort of.

One of my distant relatives was a super famous comedian for his time. An uncle was an Oscar-winning art director. When I was little his wife stared at me running around the living room buck naked singing and twirling and showing off and said, “That girl is going into theater.”

This was before I turned shy. And because I turned SO SHY, it became a family story about how wrong that aunt was.

Aunts are not always right? Who knew?

Still, I spent a lot of my time singing and dancing and acting (badly) when I was growing up and then in college I spent a lot of my time directing and acting (badly) while I was getting my political science degree.

I’ve always talked about how using the basics of improv helps writers get over things like writer’s block, etc., and at Vermont College, I focused my graduation presentation on using those tools to help kids write. 

Authors and Acting and Improv

Lately though, I’ve been thinking more about how authors are really using all the roles of theater when they create novels. We have to be actors because we have to live inside the characters and make them three-dimensional representations of people. We have to be directors because we put the story together and tell the characters where to go, and determine the viewpoint that we’re seeing the character. We have to be set designers as we create setting. We’re stage crew bringing props in and out. We’re producers because we’re putting the whole production together. We’re writers because… Well, we’re writing. 

But right now, I just want to focus on how authors are really actors playing every single role in the story. That’s a lot of effort, honestly. 

Method Authors 

Method acting is when you immerse yourself in the role; you become someone other than yourself. Do writers do this? Sometimes, but not often. Usually we spend a lot of time researching things our characters like but not becoming the characters and/or pretending to be them. I wonder why.

Living In Another World

Actors live in the world of the moment, of the world that they are acting in. Novelists need to do this too. We have to immerse ourselves in the world that we’ve created, to envision the details, see the events, feel the feels. The best novels use concrete details to show character and place. To find concrete details, we have to see concrete details. We have to build worlds piece by piece and symbol by symbol until they are believable. 

Back Story 

When I was training in theater with Paul Kuritz and Pope,L, and Marty Andrecki, they all focused on the back story of the roles we played.

To understand the character in the moment, we had to understand the moments that came before, what brought our character to this place to react this specific way in the play.

And we didn’t need to know just the history of the character, but the history of the world and the cultural implications that influenced that character. Authors sometimes do this, too, but I think some of us could do it more. 

Study Real People 

To understand nuance and tics and behavior, actors often study real people and model a character on that person, or at least model a behavior of a character on that person. Writers often do that, too. 

Acting and writing require empathy. You have to move outside yourself and envision how someone else will react, feel, think, instigate. That’s important when trying to create a world of civility and positive change. 

Random Exercise That’s Supposed To Be Helpful

A lot of the time at school visits, I talk about the weirdest places I’ve gotten ideas and how some of those ideas are so bizarre that a sane human would just thrust them out of their mind. I talk about how you have to ‘say yes’ to your ideas no matter how weird they are, no matter how much we doubt them. 

I talk about how the idea for the NEED series came from seeing a strange smelling man on my way into a fair. He had a tail wrapped in fabric. He had silver eyes. Enough said, right? While other people might have thought he was a random guy doing cosplay, my brain jumped to “human-sized pixie about to cause an apocalypse.” Since, I didn’t reject that idea and wrote about it, I ended up getting a book series that was an international bestselling. 

So, what I do is have kids stand up with me and one of them has to say ‘no,’ to everything we throw out. So it goes like, 

“Hey, let’s write a story about human-sized pixies?”

“No.”

“And they have to save the world?”

“No.”

“Gerbils who fall in love?”

“No.”

“People who climb a mountain and find a rainbow unicorn?”

“No.”

And it goes on like this for a minute and when I stop them, I ask, “So what happened?”

Usually, everyone says, “Nothing. Nothing happened.”

I ask if we got a story. And the answer is always, “No. We laughed, but we did not get a story.”

Writers do this to ourselves all the time. Actually, people do this all the time. We reject ideas for being too weird, too overdone, too normal, too abnormal, too anything. The secret is to go with the idea, to say yes and see what happens. That’s how stories are made. 


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg
You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

The Good That Happens Even In the Middle of Evil: The Boston Marathon

It’s been six years since the Boston Marathon. This is what I posted that day. It’s about what I saw and heard and felt.

So, I was at the Boston Marathon today to take pictures of my friend, Lori, running and then crossing the finish line. Before the marathon I had lunch with my daughter Em. She was nervous.

“I have a bad feeling,” she said. “You need to be careful.”

“You have no faith in me. I am a perfectly capable person.”

“I just am worried.”

“I will be fine,” I told her. I insisted it, actually.

But I did several things that I don’t normally do. I didn’t take the T. I chose to walk from Cambridge to mile 25.5 or so of the race route. I figured out the T route and everything, but I just didn’t want to go on it. Walking was healthier, I figured. I was going to watch a marathon.

So, I walked and set up for taking pictures. I didn’t expect to see Lori for an hour, so I hung out with some people from New Jersey, talked to some cops. I took some pictures and kept wondering if I should walk the rest of the route to get ready for when Lori crossed the finish line. Logically, I knew I should, but my gut kept me back. I moved up a bit, but not as much as I should have. One of my friends called, and as we talked the first explosion went off.

About 15 seconds after the explosion, .25 mile away or so.

“What was that?” he said.

“That was bad,” I answered. “It was an explosion. It was absolutely an explosion.”

The Second Detonation

Then the second explosion happened. And I hung up. And I looked at the cops. And the cops both lifted up their portable radios to their ears. That was not a good sign. Then they began to run towards the finish line along a parallel road. That was a worse sign, especially since one of the cops looked like he never ran. Ever.  

I followed them. It smelled of smoke. It smelled of fear and confusion. Cops and medics and volunteers swarmed the area. Blood pooled on clothing and the ground. Debris was everywhere. People were crying and hysterical.

The police turned me around. So, I turned around. I regret that now. I don’t know how I could have helped. I am not a trained emergency medical technician. I regret that, too. There were cops and medics everywhere. Their shiny, reflective yellow vests were like pieces of good and brave in a smoky land of pain. I wanted to tell each of them how heroic they were. There was no time for that. They were busy saving people.

The timing of these runners put them right about the finish line when the explosions happened.

Runners

So, I went back to where I had been taking pictures. Runners were wandering around still, confused, cold. They had a combination of runner’s fatigue and shock. Shivering and stunned, they were desperately trying to contact family members. Some walked in circles because they didn’t know how not to keep moving, but they also didn’t know where to go. They had spent 25 miles moving forward, towards this one destination called the finish line and now they were stuck, aimless. Their ultimate goal was suddenly gone, devastated by two bombs. Those of us who were there to watch, gave them our cell phones so they could call family members who were waiting for them. They were waiting for them right by the bombs. We gave the runners money so they could get on the T when it worked again. We gave them our coats.

“How will I give it back to you?” one runner asked as she shrugged on a dark green fleece.

“You don’t need to. You never need to,” a man next to me told her.

“I have to,” she murmured. “I have to.”

I gave away my coat. I passed around my phone. The service was in and out.

One woman said, “Please tell me it wasn’t the subway. My kids are on the subway.”

“It wasn’t the subway,” I tell her. “It was the finish line.”

She cocked her head. “What? No? How?”

How?

That was the question: How? We knew by then that it was probably a bomb, and the hows of making a bomb are easy, but the ‘how could you” is a harder question. How could someone kill runners and spectators? How could humans ever think it’s okay to hurt each other? How could anyone commit violence in big acts with bombs or small acts with fists.

How could we? How could humanity?

“How?” she kept saying. “How?”

And then the police moved the runners out, detouring them down another street. And then they told us, the watchers, to go. So, we left, a massive exodus towards the bridge and Massachusetts Avenue. People were still sobbing. A man on a corner was reading from Boston.com on his iPhone trying to find out exactly what happened. People stood around him, strangers listening to him say the words, “explosions… injuries…”

Three girls were crying, young and scared and broken inside.

“They are so hurt. They hurt them. They are so hurt,” one girl kept repeating. We kept walking.

Connections

As I walked across the bridge, a woman on the phone sobbed to her friend, “It was so big. The explosion was so big. I dropped everything in my hands. I dropped my lens cap. I dropped my purse. I dropped it all. I called my sister. I called my friend. I called everyone. I just need to talk to someone. I feel so alone. It was awful. People were missing their legs. It was awful.”

And then she saw me, this talking woman, and I nodded at her and I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back. We kept walking.

A leather-jacket guy next to me was telling another guy in plaid that he had no way home. I gave him my cell. We kept walking.

I made sure that Lori’s husband and daughter were okay even though they’d been waiting right across the street from where the bomb exploded. They were. I knew Lori was okay already because I’d been tracking her route. I’d never been so happy that she was running hurt and that was making her slower than normal.

The Sobbing Man

As I was feeling thankful, a man in front of me went down on his knees on the sidewalk. It looked like he was praying, but he was really sobbing. We all stopped walking. People pat his back. People murmured things. He stood up and we kept walking again. We walked and walked and gradually the crowd thinned, and gradually the sobs lessoned. But the sirens? The sirens grew louder and more continuous. They were forever sirens. They did not stop.

And so many people will not be able to walk ever again. And at least three people are dead. And so many people have had their hearts and bodies broken at this marathon that should be a celebration of human endurance and spirit and will.

And so many people helped others, making tourniquets out of yarn, carrying the injured, soothing the shocked, giving away their clothes to keep runners warm. And so many people have hearts of goodness. We can’t forget that. Not ever. Not today. Not in Boston. Not ever. Because that is exactly what the Boston Marathon is about: It’s about not giving up, not giving in to pain. It’s about that celebration of surviving and enduring against all odds, against everything. It’s about humanity. No bomber can take that away. Not ever.

After the Marathon

That same night, I was sitting in a restaurant in Cambridge with my daughter and we learned that my dad (a volunteer firefighter) had tumors surrounding his lungs. He died 13 days later.

That week, I was besieged by internet trolls who insisted that my daughter’s gut feeling meant that she was part of a giant conspiracy or that I was part of the same giant conspiracy about an event that ‘totally didn’t happen.’

It happened.

I’ll post this thread, this memory, to make sure that I never forget that it happened.

Sometimes, we spend too much time forgetting, not letting the good and the horrific inspire and motivate us to make change in ourselves, our community, our world.

Violence kills people every day. In big ways that make the news. In quieter ways that we rarely hear about.

And good happens, too. In big ways that make the news. In quieter ways that we rarely hear about.

Three Years Later

I became a volunteer firefighter for our town. I was terrible at it and it’s not my way to help save the world. But I helped our town a little bit for a little while. I did it because I was tired of not being able to help, to respond. I did it because I wanted to pay tribute somehow to the people who were hurt at the marathon and my dad, my little hobbit dad, who spent his whole life trying in big and little ways to try to make this world a better place.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

READ MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Art

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here.