Why Do Politicians Hug Me and Other Weird Facts & Questions

I’ve been working super hard creating things and helping other people create things and I’ve been ridiculously stressed worrying about people’s health and systemic inequalities in our health care system and even about my income because of Covid-19 and I don’t have it in me for a serious blog post today. I hope that’s cool with everyone. Instead, I’m going to give you random tidbits about me.

  1. My debut novel TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND has the word gay in it, which made some people squeamish.

2. That makes me lose my chill, but in a chill-inspiring way my ex-boyfriend from high school has a really lovely, very religious, very Catholic mom who BOUGHT IT. Yes, her son is gay. She proudly showed the book off to all her friends and that? Well, that made my heart sing. I’m so glad he has her for a mom.

3. I used to be the youngest female city councilor ever elected in my city and I never EVER dated any other city councilors, or politicians although ex presidential candidate Gary Hart once winked at me and I’ve been hugged by Jesse Jackson and Jerry Brown and George W. Bush and Mike Michaud and Paul Lepage and Susan Collins and John Glenn and too many NYC mayors to list. Politicians apparently hug across parties. Also, I’ve been hugged by a lot more male politicians than women. This does not seem fair.

4. I have one ex-boyfriend who is now a writer. He published before he was 30 and wrote for the NYT and Village Voice. I try not to hate him. Just kidding! I don’t try. No! No! I don’t actually hate him at all. I’m super happy for him actually.

5. I have one ex-boyfriend who was in TIGER BEAT MAGAZINE because he was on a Nickelodean TV show before college.  And I find this hysterical.

6. I have one ex boyfriend from fifth grade whose name was Bertram, but he wanted to change it to Steve. He was so sad about his name. He also wanted to be a knight. I hope he at least got to change his name.

7. I have one ex boyfriend who chewed tobacco and spit it into a Pepsi can and thought nobody knew. EVERYBODY knew.

8. I just realized I will never have another new ex-boyfriend, which is weird, just weird…And I also realized that because of Covid-19 politicians won’t be hugging people as much this year, which has a lot of weird ramifications, too.

How about you? Do you have random facts that you never share? It feels weirdly good to remember and share them.

Continue reading “Why Do Politicians Hug Me and Other Weird Facts & Questions”
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Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19

I am an optimist and I believe that people will be someday at writing conferences again feeling awkward and so in preparation for that, I’m giving all you all some tips. You ready?

Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19

Understand that people will hug you.

A lot. They will hug you a lot. This is cool if you like hugs (I do).

If you don’t like hugs you may want to not use your deodorant that day or wear something prickly around your neck like a porcupine. That’s about all that will dissuade children’s writers set for a hug.

Do not feel like a big loser because everyone else seems like they know everyone else and they are all best friends.

They are just pretending.

Pretend too. Go stand by people. Nod.

Realize that pretending works because they all think you are a social media friend who has an icon or avatar that is not their actual face but a giant toenail or perfected carbonized version of themselves.

If they ask you if you are another writer who is cooler than you are? Nod.

If they catch you because you did not remember that the other author has a dog named Fluffy who tends to bite school bus drivers in the elbow, just nod again and say, “I was pretending. I was doing research on a YA character who is a compulsive liar and adopts the identities of total strangers as a way to deal with weight issues.”

They are writers. They will understand.

Realize that they will possibly hug you again in solidarity over the fact that you are so into your writing that you do compulsive liar reasearch at conferences.

Open your arms. Hug them back.

Seriously though, when you are at a conference or convention, remember to embrace and include other people. Don’t talk over them. Listen to their words. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak, to interact, to be included. When you don’t? You’re oppressing them and you’re losing the possibility of meeting a new friend or at least hearing a new take on things, or a perspective from someone’s mouth that isn’t yours. That’s what writing and communication is all about. It goes both ways.

Continue reading “Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19”

PUSHUP CHALLENGE AND SUPER SNEAK PEEK OF MY SECRET PROJECT

Okay. Lately, I’ve been feeling kind of wimpy and like I totally don’t have any control over anything in my life, and let’s face it folks — I like to have a least a tiny bit of control occasionally. 

So, I remembered the 100 pushup challenge back from like 2009 or something ancient like that.

So I’m doing a 100 push-up challenge and looking for people to join in. I’m using this program and the whole point is that even if you TOTALLY stink at pushups you will be able to do 100 after six weeks.

And believe me, I totally stink at pushups.

Do you know what this means?
1. We could have totally hottie arms in six weeks.
2. We could be sooo much stronger in six weeks.
3. We could have a goal and accomplish it! Doesn’t that rock? Oh, yes it does….

 I’m not actually going for this look. 

So, I’m doing it and Kim’s doing it. And I know you want to do it, too. Oh, yes, you do… It’s cool to be strong. 

Super Secret Project

So, I am part of a super secret project that someone else started and I am SO EXCITED about it because it’s going to be amazing and the only hint I can give is my temporary tattoo which is ALSO totally part of the super secret project.

I am not the best at temporary tattoo application as you can see.

RECENT EPISODES OF OUR PODCAST OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS from DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

Join the 219,000 downloads with your own! Like and subscribe and be weird with us everywhere you find podcasts.

Last week’s episode link. 

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 

A bonus interview with Jose De La Roca, podcaster, writer, comedian, actor, dad. Link to Jose’s interview.


CARRIE’S NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.


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!

ART NEWS

Becoming

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

WHAT ELSE? 

I’m still revising ANOTHER NOW, which is a big time travel story. It is killing me. 

AND FINALLY, MY NEW PATREON STORY

And over on Patreon, I’m starting a new story this week! It’s a chapter a month if you want to check it out. It basically costs $1 a month to listen to my story and $3 a month to read it. There’s a new chapter every week. It’s super fun; I promise. Here’s an excerpt. 

First Kisses and ACDC Woman

I am now going to begin a series of first kiss blogs. Is this merely a way to prove that I have indeed been kissed? 

Well, sort of…

What does this have to do with writing???

A lot. I’ve recently realized that while none of my characters are me, that I occasionally use back-story incidents( that I’ve manipulated a lot) of my life to fill out the back story of their lives. 

So, here is a story of one of my first kisses.

I was sleeping over JJ’s house. She was a Reagen Republican and I was the only fifth-grader in NH who liked Jimmy Carter. I loved Jimmy Carter, actually.

JJ’s mom was a nurse and she quilted, big crazy quilts with velvet in them and fluttery stitches, which was really cool. Everybody in JJ’s family was large and tall and rugged. Her dad was around seven feet tall. I felt like a short unhairy hobbit in their log cabin, which was kind of cool because I liked hobbits even if I didn’t like all their hair.


So, we were all hanging out upstairs, JJ, her fourth-grader brother named Eric, and me. We snuck downstairs for some apple pie and there in the middle of the living room was her big mama dancing with her huge father to a Kenny Rogers tune. I think it was “Lady.”

The one that goes, I’m your knight in shining armor and I love you…


“EW!!!” J.J. screamed and we all slammed up the stairs, totally disgusted by the thought of parents dancing.


After a long talk about how grosser than gross parents are Eric went, “I hate Kenny Rogers.”


“Me too,” I said.


“Who do you like?”


“ACDC,” I say, which was true, because all the cool kids in my grade liked ACDC because they had a song called “Big Balls.” I had no idea what that song was referring to because I was an idiot, but I liked to sing it at the top of my lungs in my bedroom while my mom was still at work because I knew it was somehow naughty.  


Eric looked at me in shock. “Cool.”


I nodded in a way that I hoped conveyed that I thought it wasn’t a big deal.


“I love ACDC,” Eric said.


JJ then called him a twerp and told him to go to bed. 


JJ and I hunkered down and read books. We had to read the Hobbit for English.

I’d read it before and was just skimming it because I was lazy. We finally shut off the lights. 


Maybe two minutes later JJ’s door slammed open and someone smashed through the pitch black room and threw his chunky boy body on top of me in the bed. He screamed in a huge, deep, scary voice, “ACDC WOMAN!!!”


And then he kissed me. Pow. Sort of on my lips, but mostly on air because my mouth was open wide and screaming.


JJ threw on the light and her brother leapt up and out of the room, throwing the words “I love you, ACDC Woman” over his shoulder.


JJ, horrified, gaped at me. “My brother kissed you.”


I nodded. “I know. I was there.”


She glared at me. “Shut up. You like Jimmy Carter.”


“You like Reagen.”


“My brother,” she declared, “should have better taste.”

How about you? Did ACDC ever get you kissed? Do you have weird first kiss stories? If you’re a writer, do bits of your past ever end up in your characters’ back stories?

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 209,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw, weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


RECENT EPISODES OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

Link to Sam’s interview.

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 

Continue reading “First Kisses and ACDC Woman”

The First Time I Won An Award As A Grown Up (in age not mentality)

Actually, the title of this blog is wrong. This is about the first time I won a writing award that wasn’t for newspapers.

I won a lot of awards for newspapers.

This award was the Maine Literary Award for creative nonfiction and it was a big enough deal that I had to think about what to wear.

Here’s my excerpt about it. I wasn’t – cough – terribly mature so not much has changed.

I won an award!

Let me first say, that I am stunned by the inability of Maine writers to guzzle down free booze. There was all this wine at the award banquet and NOBODY drank it. Everyone kept sipping Poland Spring water, which is nice because it’s all healthy and everything, but really….

I am not much of a boozer or a winer but I did have a glass. A lady checked it off on a piece of paper. She was keeping a tally. I felt naughty.

The award ceremony for the Maine Literary Awards was nice and I stressed about what to wear for absolutely no reason. There were a few LET US WEAR ALL BLACK AND BE ARTY people there. There were a few LET US WEAR CONTRASTING PRIMARY COLORS AND BE ARTY people there. There were no ball gowns nor nudists nor pinstriped suits, so we Maine writers seemed to lack any real eccentric dressers or at least we did at this awards ceremony. 

As an aside, all those grown-up writers are not so good at hiding the whole jealousy bit, and they don’t hug (or obviously openly drink) as much as children’s writers, which is just a darn shame.

Are children’s writers lushes? Possibly.

Are they fantastic huggers? Most definitely.

I wore a long skirt that wasn’t too flowy or too librarian looking. No offense to librarians. And a black lacy top. I would’ve liked to have down the leather pants thing, but I don’t own any. I would have liked to dress like Ed Briant because he is the ultimate cool boy, but I’m an uncool girl and I had no extra-wide brown and orange striped tie.

There was no pantyhose on my legs either. I just couldn’t do it. Blech.  I would have felt like my mother.

They read excerpts from the pieces, which was embarrassing, but overall it was pretty good. I guess I have to process it a little more.

And it turns out lots of people entered my category (nonfiction), which was a huge surprise but cool. I met the judge who was incredibly nice and upset that I’m not a big nonfiction person, which was also a huge surprise but cool.

I had to tell him I wrote children’s fiction. I think he wanted to take the award away but I clutched it my lacy top and hissed, “Mine. My precious. Mine.”

THE NEXT DAY

And this is what happened the day after that award. . . .

Something funky is going on. That’s for sure. Why? Because I just won a fellowship that goes to “promising Maine writers.”

What am I promising? I don’t know. I promise that my promise is not naughty, is not reality-show worthy, nor Congressionally scandalous in nature.

But this fellowship is cool, because I get $700. 


My income is slowly inching up to poverty level from its abysmal low of nothing. Yee-hawwww.

The dog and I are very excited and have danced around the kitchen, much to the displeasure of the cat.

How About You?

Do you remember the first time an outside source gave you kudos for your work? Did it feel good? Did you feel validated? Stunned? Were you like, “Um. Duh. I am awesome?”

I hope you win all the awards and randomly get $700. I am rooting for you.


My Book Is Out

You can order it here.  (ebook or paperback) 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it. 


RECENT EPISODES OF OUR AWESOME DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 

Link to Sam’s interview. Sam is my friend and is awesome.

That’s right! Carrie’s (me) doing bonus interviews every Thursday. And they are so much fun.


THE WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME

It’s our very own writing course! 

Basically, it’s set up a bit like a distance MFA program, only it costs a lot less and also has a big element of writer support built in and personalized feedback from me! This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions!

To find out more, check out this link. It’s only $125 a month, so it’s a super good deal. Come write with us! 

The Story Behind My Scar

If you ever meet me, you will instantly know that I am not a supermodel. Actually, you just need to see a photo to get that.

And that’s a good thing (except I’d be much wealthier) because if I was a model I’d worry about all my random scars.

My best scar is on my right forearm.

Ignore my hair follicles, please.


So, we had this massive ceramic planter thing. It was huge. And we did not take it into the garage one winter because we were lazy and it was heavy. So it cracked. There was this big hole in it. 


But I am cheap.

How cheap?

I thought, I will just use the old dirt and put it in smaller pots. It’s still good dirt.


So, I reached in the hole in the pot and scooped out dirt. This went well for an hour. But then, there’s this thing called structural integrity. It is a concept that my brain doesn’t understand. My brain was still frozen and cracked from winter, too.


So, the planter broke more while I was scooping dirt out of the hole in the side.
This part fell on my arm.

I stared for awhile.

I thought, Hhmm…. that’s a deep, long jagged cut that’s almost down to the bone, when is it going to bleed?


Then it bled.


Then I thought, Hhmmm…. shock is such a cool thing, because this doesn’t hurt. Wow. I love shock. I’d better go inside and clean all the dirt out and stop the bleeding.

So, I stood up and went inside. Blood dripped all over the garage floor. I left a trail of blood!

This is like a murder scene, I thought. I bet I can use this for a book. Wow. Look at all that blood.


So my ex-husband looked up from the tractor thing he had for some unknown reason and he was doing something on it. He and his tractor friend were way up on the hill, and he ran down the hill. He was obviously psychic.  He burst into the kitchen. He did not pass out. He cringed. He applied pressure. He swayed and turned pale. He didn’t like blood.

Then my daughter, Em, went into her I should be an ER doctor but they don’t make enough money mode and cleaned the wound. It required a lot of cleaning because of this….

I  refused to go to the ER even though my ex-husband was a hospital administrator. Let’s say we weren’t always perfectly compatible. We pulled the wound together with Band-Aids. How cool was that? 

Going to the Doctor


On Monday, the ex forced me to go to the doctor’s and get a tetanus shot. He actually followed me there because he didn’t trust me to actually go. And once we got there he showed everyone his copy of TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (EX) BOYFRIEND, my first book.

The office manager yelled across the waiting room to me, “Have you had many of those?”


Everyone in the waiting room looked up from their out-dated copies of GOOD HOUSEKEEPING.


“Yep,” I said.


“Me too!” she laughed. “I mean, well, I think he was…”


Then everyone started talking about gay ex boyfriend or girlfriend stories, except for this cool lady who talked about how her ex-girlfriend said she was gay, but on the continuum was really more straight. It was actually pretty fun. Except for the part where I had to explain that I was injured by a pot. 

And then it turns out thatI had a reaction to the Band-Aids. I blistered all over from the Band-Aids. How can you live so long and have a reaction to Band-Aids and not realize this?


Sometimes I really wonder about myself. 


But I wonder about the doctor more because he said, “Yeah, you should’ve gone to the ER, but once when my twins were two, one threw a rock and it smacked his brother right in the skull. Blood was everywhere. We didn’t go to the ER either. I took his hair, all around the wound, and I tied it together in knots to pull the wound together. It worked pretty good, too.”

Stories are Everywhere

You have to love it here in Maine. You just have to. Because we all have our stories and we all have our scars. And that authenticity and lack of plastic? That’s what connections are about. That’s what friendship is about.

Be who you are. Tell your stories. The good ones. The bad ones. Pretending to be things you aren’t only hurts your soul. That lack of perfection? It makes you perfect.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Direct Link to Fiona’s Interview! on DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE. She’s a poet, coach, and awesome human.

Last week’s interview with J.L. Delozier, a Pennsylvania doctor and writer who is on the CoVid-19 frontlines and her debut novel was about a virus killing half the planet. 

This week’s regular episode – The Two Second Relationship Rule

More About My Books and Writing Course Below the READ MORE cut

Continue reading “The Story Behind My Scar”

The Haiku That Changed My Life

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH is almost here so I am totally going to theme out this April.

Why?

Because poetry changed my life in second grade. Seriously. 

I was this kid who talked like a Muppet. Everyone made fun of me so I didn’t talk at all in first grade. I was known as THE QUIET KID WHO GIVES HER SNACKS AWAY – SO DO NOT BEAT HER UP.

The teachers couldn’t figure me out. I never said anything. Teachers tend to like kids who raise their hand and talk. 

Then, I wrote a haiku in September of second grade. I had all the syllables right. It wasn’t about Tonka trucks. It was about nature so the teacher, Mrs. Snierson, posted it in big letters on the wall and decided I was gifted. Whew. Did I fool her. 

The poem was:


Spring is fun you see
Because flowers grow with rain
And robins come home.

This is how I learned that teachers are important to writers’ egos.That one poem got me into gifted programs.


That one poem got me noticed.


That one poem put my life on a trajectory that didn’t have to do with silence.

So, yeah, I like poems. 

Poems are how I stopped being silent.

So, I’m going to write poems and talk about poems sometimes in April. I hope you’ll join me!

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s episode link. 

NEWS

Over 180,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them.

Continue reading “The Haiku That Changed My Life”

How to Make a Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Three

So, these past three Mondays, I’ve been giving revision tips to help with people’s stories. And this is the last in the series! I know! I know! The horror!

Get ready writers and put your revision hats on. As I write this, we’re in lockdown because of CoVid-19 aka the coronavirus, and I know you all just want to draft and eat, but get dressed and do the hard stuff, too. Revising makes your book so much stronger.

11.  GIVE YOUR CHARACTERS A REASON

Do not have your hamster kill your cat without a motivation. The cat’s tormenting? That’s a reason. The cat’s snoring? That’s a motivation. 

Every character has to have a want and a motivation, a reason for doing what they do.

In other words: Your characters need to make sense.

12. THINK ABOUT TIME FRAME

Should your story be an hour in the protagonist’s life? A day? A year? Does it really need to end with the prom? Plath says to think of the story as “an image stamped in Silly Putty, until it became distorted and possibly more interesting?” 

Pull out that image. Think about how long your story is in the character’s life.

13. ADD SOME TEXTURE

Think about figurative language. Think about symbols and allusions and metaphors. Use the tools of literature and the sounds of poetry to make your story resonate.

But, um, don’t put a simile in every paragraph.

14. MAYBE YOU SHOULD GO UNRELIABLE

Narrators who are reliable are sometimes narrators who are boring. What would happen if yours went to the dark side? 

15. BE TRIVIAL. BE DEEP

We want to hear what matters to the character and what trivial parts of his/her existence make him/her real. If she’s a bus driver. Let us know how that impacts her thinking. Let us see her job.

PART ONE OF THESE TIPS IS HERE!

PART TWO OF THESE TIPS IS HERE!


These revision tips this week are all originally from James Plath’s article “Twenty-one Tweaks to a Better Tale,” which was published in THE COMPLETE BOOK OF NOVEL WRITING, Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinatti, Ohio, Edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the Editors of Writer’s Digest.


WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


Continue reading “How to Make a Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Three”

How to Make Your Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Two

I am still chugging along trying to get my draft done so that I can get to the fun stuff:

No, not drowning my sorrows in Sanka.

No, not learning the fine art of belly dancing.

I’m talking about revisions. Yes! I think that’s the fun stuff! I know! I know! Wild!

Check your scenes

Sometimes we have scenes that don’t fit.  And those scenes have to go.

Yes, you may want to have an especially poignant scene in your sci-fi thriller where Douglas, the hamster, gets out of his cage and is trapped in the minivan beneath the cushions. But does it really fit in a futuristic fable? 

“A scene should reveal something about the character, advance the plot in a significant way, provide insight into the ‘theme,’ or, as Eurdora Welty suggested, do all three,”   James Plath says. 

Too little? Your story feels like a writing exercise.


Too many? Your story is lost in a lot of moments and more moments and all the oomph of your story is gone. 

Think About How the Story is Framed.

This is the set-up. Think about THE COLOR PURPLE or Jay Asher’s 13 REASONS WHY. Brilliantly done. 

Don’t Forget That We Have More Than Eyes


Readers can smell and feel and taste, too. Make them do that in your story. Make your story a world that isn’t just visual. 

Think about Place


We’ve had a lot of posts about place here at the Tollbooth. 

Plath says, “Many stories exist in a vacuum, where lines are spoken without any description of an interior or exterior settling. That’s like going to the theater and having the house lights never come on …..”

These revision tips this week are all originally from James Plath’s article “Twenty-one Tweaks to a Better Tale,” which was published in THE COMPLETE BOOK OF NOVEL WRITING, Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinatti, Ohio, Edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the Editors of Writer’s Digest.

Part One of these Tips is Here!


WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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

Becoming

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

How to Make a Good Book Better

I am currently being whipped down into one of Dante’s lower circles of hell due to:

  • 1. My deadline crunch on a million things.
  • 2. My dog who has decided that something evil is in the lot behind our house and she must press her body into mine at all times in order to keep me safe. She simultaneously barks while doing this. It is making writing a little – um – difficult? Have I mentioned that she’s a large dog? 
I love my people. I protect them with my furry charm and big bark.

Here are some things I (should) think about when I’m revising. Hopefully, they’ll help you out, too.


I’ve taken them from James Plath’s article “Twenty-One Tweaks to a Better Tale.” 

1. Does the beginning need to be an ending?



Sometimes our beginnings stink. 

Beginnings need to be:
powerful
witty
stunning

This could be a powerful piece of dialogue, a witty description or a stunning scene. 

Sometimes we writers have to amp up, sort of rev our engines before we start the race of the story. 

My engine is revving. Shh…..


Side note: Some of us never get started.

It’s okay to cross entire paragraphs or a chapter out. 

2. Check Out How It Ends



Just like a beginning needs to be powerful or witty or stunning to draw us in like a really good appetizer, the ending has to linger (not in the way heartburn lingers). The ending has to resonate.

Is there a way to echo earlier images or words or a phrase so that it has that extra kick, making the reader realize that there are deeper things going on, that there is a deeper meaning, that this story or poem somehow touches on the truth that is life. 


3. Make Love to the Image

Have an image that resonates throughout the story. In the movie, Brokeback Mountain, it’s when one guy is hugging the other guy from behind him or it’s when he says, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” 

Think about a book like Carolyn Coman’s MANY STONES or THE HOBBIT or CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. There are central images in there. Do that. Use an image. A strong image will keep your story in readers’ memories. 

4. Is the right person telling the tale?


I mean, I have often written gothic murder love stories from the point of view of Barney the Dinosaur, but it never seems to work. Have you had this problem too? 

Do not be afraid to switch that tale teller to Baby Bop.

I giggle! I am Baby Bop! 

5. Is your narrator talking to him/herself too much?


My former teacher and amazing writer-man Tim Wynne Jones once yelled at me (via email and in a lovely way) because I stopped a fight scene to have the narrator look at her Snoopy shoes. 

Dude. That is just not cool. 


Don’t have the character talk too much internally, but don’t have them not talk at ALL internally because then they are just robotic or perhaps a little shallow.

Nobody wants to read a whole novel from Barney’s point-of -view. It is not super-dee-duper. 


So get some internal monologue in there. 

Everything is super-dee-duper, writers! If a purple dino can dance and have his own tv show then you can revise! 

6. Do you have enough people in your story? Too many? 


I once wrote a story with three characters in it. It even actually won an award, which had actual money attached to it, but it did not get published.

Of course, my agent hasn’t submitted it, but that’s probably because it’s soooooooooo thin. A story with too few characters is like going out to dinner and only getting a cracker. It is not satisfying usually unless it’s a really big, yummy, super-cool cracker.

It’s the same thing with too many characters. I am one of those people who are easily confused. If there are twenty character names in the first two paragraphs I pretty much give up on the book.

Get rid of those unnecessary characters. 

It’s all about me! And my core group of friends! Sometimes you have to trim those expendables. That’s why they call them expendable. They are totally expendable. 

WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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

Becoming

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