What I’m Up To – Art, Books, Editing, Coaching, Posting on Patreon and Medium and the Bar Harbor Story

So, here’s a quick summary of what I’m up to right now because I realized that I tend to fail to forget to do that. And if I don’t talk about it then you all won’t know about it.

The problem is that I was raised where you don’t talk about what you’re doing because that was considered gauche. Now we consider it marketing.

MEDIUM

I’ve started blogging once a week on MEDIUM because:

  1. I’m all about communication.
  2. My first-ever post got curated and positive feedback makes me happy.
  3. I’m all about the creative nonfiction and communication.

Here’s my first one. It’s all about picking up the gauntlet and family. If you clap for it? That would be amazing. There are a lot of cool articles and posts over there, actually.

TWITTER

Over on Twitter, I post doggy or kitten motivation (with photos) every weekday morning (EST). It is cheery and motivating. My dogs are the best.

You will see lovely posts like this:

Let no one, even someone with good intentions, tell you who you ought to be or how you should present yourself to the world.

You can only be who you are & only you can determine if you want to change that. Our freedoms come from thought, reading, & ourselves.

Be you.

Gabby

Writing Coach

I am an independent writing coach, teach a six-month online class at the Writing Barn in Austin and also edit books on Reedsy. There are testimonials here and on the Reedsy site.

Helping other writers is one of my favorite things ever actually. Here’s a testimonial if you’re feeling too lazy to click over.

I was in the Write. Submit. Support class from The Writing Barn that was led by Carrie, and it was exactly what I needed.

I’ve worked with a lot of different writing teachers and mentors in college classes, my MFA program, a playwriting apprenticeship, and various workshops and residencies, and Carrie was by far one of the best.

Her feedback on my writing was extremely helpful but also encouraging and uplifting. She gave us a lot of thought-provoking and beneficial information in the monthly classes that helped me to see my writing from a different perspective.

Every month, after our classes or after I received notes from her, I was inspired not only to write and improve my craft but to create in general–to write fiction, to write songs, to write plays, and to write content that would help other creative people and artists. 

I also love how supportive Carrie is. She takes the time to really listen to you, encourage you, and support you, no matter where you are in your writing career or what your goals are. I also appreciate that she understands that everyone’s publishing path is different, and I was so grateful that I could turn to her for advice and support as I had to make some difficult decisions about my own career.

For anyone looking for a writing mentor/teacher/coach, I can’t recommend Carrie enough.

Sara Crawford

Dogs are Smarter Than People

This podcast is all about trying to live a happy, better life and being happier, better people and how you can use those skills in writing and vice versa. But we’re not perfect, just like our podcast. We’re cool with that. And even though 107,844 (Not that we’re counting) people have downloaded it, we still feel like newbies because we are.

You can like, listen, subscribe, share. It’s all good. You can find us here and all these places:

Apple

Castos

Stitcher

Spotify

Bar Harbor Story

I have a baby website called Bar Harbor Story, which is about where I live.

Bar Harbor Story isn’t a newspaper, but it’s not fiction. It’s about the story of Bar Harbor and MDI, its people, its players, even its introverts. It’s about a different way of telling our story that doesn’t worry about advertisers, subscriber rates, press awards for being normal or making ourselves more money.

It’s just about story and people and community.

How cool is that?

A picture I took of where I live.

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. I will mail you signed prints if you want. Just email me.

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. 


Rotary

I am still the public image coordinator for part of the United States and Eastern Canada for Rotary International. This is a volunteer gig for the 1.2-million strong global organization that’s all about people coming together, taking action, creating ideas to make their local community and global community a better place. You should check it out.

Ending Polio? That’s just one of Rotary’s gigs.

Officially?

Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders, and take action to create lasting change.

Rotary.org

ShelterBox

And talking about volunteer gigs. I’m also a ShelterBox ambassador for Maine and Quebec. What’s ShelterBox?

Right now, around 85 million people around the world have been made homeless by natural disaster and conflict. We’re working to change this. 

By providing emergency shelter and tools for families robbed of their homes by disaster, we’re transforming despair into hope.

We want to see a world where no family is left without shelter after disaster. Find out more about us.

ShelterBox.org

And that’s it. I’m over on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. I blog here where you’re reading this.

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Carrie and the Campaign Pot House

I’ve decided to spend the next few days or so reposting blogs from my past because what better way to celebrate a new year (insert sarcasm here) and this one is about what it was like to run for office.

A lot of you know that I was once a city councilor and then I had a failing bid for the Maine State House of Representatives.

I was a horrible politician. I felt intrusive knocking on doors. I was not efficient when listening to people’s stories. I’d stay too long and not get to other doors.

The other party said I was too soft to deal with the mean realities of politics. (Not the other candidate. His party) and so on.

So, in my effort to spread a little enlightenment on what it is to be me, Carrie, when I was a failed politician in a state race I bring you this….

As those of you who read CARRIE AND THE CAMPAIGN PENIS and CARRIE AND THE CAMPAIGN PSYCHO might remember, part of being a candidate for political office involves knocking on doors.

A couple weeks ago, Joe Pat (we gave him a hillbilly name because his dad is a doctor) is driving me around in his old Saab. The first house we go to is a modifed trailer, slightly off this dirt road called Pioneer Farm Way.

I go up to the door. I knock.
A roundish kind of guy opens the door. 
I say who I am.

He’s all, “Hey… Cool. I don’t live here. I’m just Joe’s caretaker…I mean… dude… Caregiver.”

And I’m all, “Cool. Can you give this to him and tell him to call me if he — “

From this back hall comes a froggish voice, “Let her in.”

Caretaker/caregiver guy gets panic look. “Um…”

“Dude,” the phantom voice says, “Let her in.”

This guy who is soooooo tan that he’s like beef jerky rolls his wheelchair into the front part of the trailer. He’s only wearing tiny khaki shorts.

He winks at me and says, “Come on back.”

I do.

I follow him down this long, long hallway.

Everything starts smelling pretty interesting, but I’m not really registering it because there are all these sounds of people scurrying around. It’s like I’m in the Boogie Nights movie or something. There is fake wood paneling everywhere and that smell… That smell that I can’t quite place.

Half-naked guy wheels himself to the head of this big table. There’s a teen sitting there. Caretaker/giver sits down.

Half-naked khaki guy goes, “Sit down. You mind if I smoke?”

“Sure. It’s your house.” I look right in his eyes because he is half-naked and I am repressed and from New Hampshire. He smiles and picks up a cigarette. I realize it is not the regular kind of cigarette. It is pot. I look next to me and there is this gigantic box (like 3 x 3) full of special cigarettes. There’s got to be like 500 in there. Then I look on the other side of him and realize that the ginormous bag of plant matter is not cat nip. It is weed. I have never seen so much weed, not even when I was reporting on drug busts.

Half-naked guy inhales. He inhales a lot. He tells me that he has MS, so it’s legal for him to grow. 

Half-naked guy adds, “I’m on disability and disability doesn’t pay much, you know.”

“I know.”

People scurry in back rooms. Someone giggles.

Half-naked guy says, “So, you know that it doesn’t pay enough to survive on. It’s legal for me to grow ’cause of the MS.”

I stare at his eyes. They are red, but happy.

Half-naked guy says, “I’ve got a lot of friends who stop by, you know. They stop by…”

Me (finally getting it), “OH!”

Half-naked guy smiles really big and says, “You can stop by if you want. You don’t have to partake but I can tell, you and me, we’re on the same wavelength you know.”

This is possibly true because I am one of those people that drunk and high people insist is drunk and high when I am in fact completely sober. My brain is just wired that way.

Half-naked guy then tells me a massive list of reporters, cops, teachers, etc, who come by and ‘visit’ him. 

He tells me names!!!! People’s names! They could be summonsed or arrested or something (back then because it was totally illegal) and he tells me their names and I know all of them. All. Of. Them. If I was an evil politician, I could blackmail people. I am not an evil politician. This is possibly why I was so bad at being a politician, actually.

Anyways, it takes him a long, long time to say a sentence. All this time pot smell is sticking to my hair and clothes. The caretaker/giver guy and teen boy keep getting up and leaving and coming back. Half-naked man keeps smoking and rolling, smoking and rolling.

And me? I am suddenly getting the munchies and I have the urge to say, “Dude… Man… I just love you, dude. And your MS totally sucks, but man… I love you.”

I manage to resist the urge, but just barely.

So, my chaperone and keeper, Joe Pat realizes that I’ve been gone awhile and he comes in. They bring him back to me. Joe Pat looks like he is in Heaven. He can’t stop smiling.

Half-naked guy looks up at Joe Pat and says, “You want a toke?”

Joe Pat blushes and goes, “No. No, man. I’m good.”

I get ready to leave and half-naked pot man makes a fist for me. We touch fists. And he goes, I am dead serious, he goes, “Pot for Peace, Carrie. Pot for Peace.”

Joe Pat and I get back into his Saab and Joe Pat is grabbing the steering wheel, not really saying words but just sort of all manic energy before he finally says, “Holy sh–t! That was amazing. Did you see all that? I’ve never seen so much pot in my life. And I’m a drummer.” 

I start cracking up. I can’t stop. 

Joe Pat backs out of the driveway and says, “You have a contact high, Carrie, don’t you? Oh, crap. *Will is going to kill me. Do you still want to do doors?”

I hold out my hair. “Does my hair smell?”

He sniffs in. “Hell yeah.”

I nod, think (which takes a long time) and say, “Yeah, I better do doors. I’ll just tell people I went to a pot house.”

So that’s what I do. Overall, it was one of the most mellow doors night I’ve had, but no, I wasn’t very efficient and possibly talked way too much about the pot house, healthcare, and why my hair smelled.

Yes. Another reason why I didn’t win.

*Will was my campaign manager.

Be a Part of the Podcast!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into our podcast, “Dogs are Smarter than People,” record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

You can also support the podcast monetarily (cough) via this link . Your support helps us justify doing this and also buys dog treats.

Blog Break – Sort Of

It’s a big holiday week here and so Carrie is going to be taking a bit of a blog break for the next two weeks. There will be a new podcast next Tuesday, but other than that? It’s a little time for Carrie’s brain to recharge and rest. So, she’ll be posting random blogs from her past. Thank you for understanding!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

Flying

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

WRITING COACH

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

WRITING BARN

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!

Tell Our Stories (The Ghost Version)

So, I think it’s seventh grade, I’m trying to be a theater kid, but I’m not actually talented enough to be a theater kid. My dad died last year. My mom’s working like a crazy woman and I’m living in Bedford, New Hampshire where it seems like everyone else in the world is rich except for us.

 

I manage to go to theater camp at school for the summer. I’m not sure who is actually paying for this. I’m guessing my nana maybe?

 

Anyways, I’ve got a tiny bit of a reputation for being sort of weird. This is because:

 

  1. I am weird.
  2. People tend to die on the highway outside my house.
  3. I sometimes know things I shouldn’t know.
  4. The whole automatic writing thing.

 

My Post-18

Back in fourth grade, I read this book that talked about automatic writing. So, I tried it. Grabbed a pen and my notebook and didn’t pay attention to the words that were coming out while my stepdad and I watched a Chargers game on tv in the family room. Our family room used to be a garage. Then it was my brother’s bedroom and then my stepsister’s bedroom, but she was long gone by the time I hit fourth grade.

 

During a commercial break, I decided to read the five pages in my notebook. It was first person narrative of a girl who came over on a boat and lived where my house used to be. She was hurt and scared and hated it there. Then her house caught fire and she died.

 

I was little. The story scared me, mostly because it was actually a story written in cursive in a handwriting that didn’t look much like mine and because at the end it said, “Tell my story.”

 

“Daddy?” I asked. “Was there ever another house here?”

 

“I don’t think so, honey.”

 

It wasn’t a good enough answer. I ripped the papers out of my notebook and threw them in the woodstove and Mom called us to dinner.

 

I tried again. “Mom? Was there ever another house here?”

 

“Yes. A long time ago. If you look in the book we have about our town you can see in one of the old maps that there used to be a house here. Your father found pieces of the foundation when he built our house,” she said this all like it was the most normal thing in the world.

 

“What kind of people lived here?” I asked, remembering the story.

 

“Oh, I’m sure they were nice.”

 

“What happened to the house?” I asked.

 

“No idea.”

 

Two seconds later, I saw a weird orange glow on the snow outside the picture window. My mom asked me what I was staring at. I told her and my dad jumped up from the table, running outside and shouting back, “Betty! Call the fire department. Our roof is on fire.”

 

They put out the fire. It could have totally been a coincidence. But when my mom researched what had happened to the last house, it really did burn down.

 

It was the sort of place where the piano would play by itself, where you walked by the windows and were certain that someone was outside in the dark staring in at you. When I told people where I lived they’d say, “The creepy brown house? You live there?”

 

Yep. I lived there. I loved it there, actually, because of the woods and the big hill to sled down and the giant boulder in the background that I used to pretend was an island.

My Post-19

 

In seventh grade, we decided to have a séance. A bunch of the theater kids from camp went to my house. My mom was working. We did automatic writing in that same family room. The drapes across the living room closed by themselves. A pencil caught fire. One of the boys acted possessed. I’m not sure if he was really possessed, because… theater kid.

 

It was terrifying.

 

One of the things that was written down was, Tell our stories.

My Post-20

 

It’s years later and I try so hard to be normal, but obviously constantly fail.

 

My high schoolwriting teacher, Mr. Sullivan, has this laugh where his tongue darts out between his lips and his mouth hangs wide open and I swear, his tongue looks like a freaking lizard tongue. It’s creepy and hysterical all at once and everyone in class points and starts laughing at him whenever he laughs this way. He doesn’t even care. He just laughs harder.

But this day? He just stops abruptly, right in the middle of a laugh.

So, Mr. Sullivan? He looks at me and says, “Carrie Barnard. What is going through your head right now?”

And my mouth opens and no sound comes out. No words. Not even adverbs.

He cocks an eyebrow, which is white and gray and black with old-man extra hairs squiggling out everywhere. “Well….? I would have called your look inquisitive.”

“I was just staring at your tongue when you laugh.”

Everyone in class starts cackling as I say this.

“Because…” Mr. Sullivan prompts, leaning back against his desk. Papers crumple under the edge of his butt.

“Because you look like a lizard when you laugh?” I offer and instantly feel bad about saying this.

“A lizard?” He stares at me for a second. Another second passes. “I look like a lizard when I laugh?”

I shrug, which will hopefully end this conversation and keep doodling, not looking down at my notebook. “Pretty much. But… um not in a bad way?”

This just makes him laugh more.

One of my friends announces, “Carrie thinks lizards are cute.”

“Which is why she liked you, right?” another friend says.

Everyone just cackles more and my first friend bows. “Perfect setup. I gave you the perfect setup.”

 

And that’s when I start thinking that maybe people aren’t just people. Maybe we all have angels and demons stuck inside of us and the reason that good doesn’t last and good people die is because the angel people are being wiped out by the demon people in some sort of eternal, perpetual war. But then I just realize that these are symbols that I’m making up to distract myself from the fact that people suck so badly.

I’m not going to tell Mr. Sullivan all that. If there is one thing I know about this life, it’s that when people ask you what you’re thinking, they only want to know the top surface level of it, not the muck and mud and layers, not the way your thoughts spiral out in a million directions. People only want the tiny truths, not the complexities, which basically means they want nothing at all.

 

I shouldn’t write basically because Mr. Sullivan hates adverbs. He insists they are weak ways of writing, but I think they have purpose, right? Because people are weak. People created adverbs specifically because we are weak and have a hard time expressing ourselves in strong enough verbs all the damn time.

Words fail.

Words fail constantly. . . all the time… a lot. So, you have to grab the best ones you’ve got, right? But sometimes… sometimes… there are no words at all and the big ass pit inside of you stays huge and horrible and threatens to swallow you whole, which is not an original image, but whatever.

 

 

“Write!” Mr. Sullivan tells us as he gesticulates wildly with Sharpie-smudged hands and frayed-cuff khakis. He paces the front of the room like a baseball coach. “Free write! Tell us about lizard-tongue people. Tell us what the brilliant Carrie Barnard observed.”

But I have already told him and I have nothing else to say.

I just stare at the ceiling and then this whisper comes into my right ear – just the right one and it says, “Tell our stories.”

I jerk so hard that my chair legs scrape against the floor.

“What?” I look around.

Mr. Sullivan sits at his desk now. He meets my eyes. I can’t tell what his eyes are thinking.

Nobody else is even looking up. They are all being good students, worker bees.

“Barnard? Are you all set?” Mr. Sullivan’s voice isn’t mean. It’s just a question.

“Yes,” I lie, yanking my hair back into a ponytail, gathering it up into a cheap, black elastic. It must look as wild as Mr. Sullivan’s. “Yes, I’m fine.”

I  look down at my notebook, full of doodles, but it’s not full of doodles. There’s just one sentence, written over and over again, in every font ever – obscure and weird and traditional, messy and neat, capitalized and not.

Tell our stories.

            Tell our stories.

            Tell our stories.

Tell our stories.

            Tell our stories.

            Tell our stories.

Ghost Stories! -2

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

Mommy Fears (in Honor of the Emster)

In honor of the Emster being home on leave this week, I’ve conjured up this old blog post about my mommy fears and her innate Emster capabilities.

What I find interesting about this is: 

  1. How openly neurotic I have always been.

  2. How she has always been kick-butt.

 

Here you go: 

Okay. You know how when you’re a mom you have these certain levels of fear when it comes to your kid? Well, most moms do. Sorry to all you people who are not moms or aren’t neurotic. You will probably be bored with this blog post.

 So there’s the deepest level of Mom Fear, which is that:

1. Your child will be kidnapped on an airplane like in that Jodi Foster movie where she ends up blowing up the airplane in a feat of total mom awesomeness.
2. Your child will be assaulted or violated.
3. Your child will be murdered/seriously injured or threatened to be like in that Denzel Washington movie where he’s the bodyguard but he might as well be the dad because he is so amazing to Pita and she even names her teddy bear after him.
4. Your child will marry a ghoul:

Mommy Fears-2
Please do not marry him, Em, at least not when he’s like this.

But then I have what I call the Secondary Level of Mom Fear, which includes:

My child will starve because I have no income.

My child will become a heroin addict because I suck, etc…

My child will become a monster full of hate.

But also on this Mom fear level is this one:

My child will get on the wrong airplane at the airport.

And yep… It happened.

So the Emster was done with this super cool Fresh Film Program in New York City (thanks to amazing author and human Saundra Mitchell) and she was flying home to Maine. Em did everything right:

1. She got a car and had money to pay it. She got in the car at 8 a.m.
2. She told the driver she wanted to go to US Airways at Laguardia Airport.
3. She buckled her seat belt. Gold star, Em! Gold star!

But then things went wrong. There was an accident. Traffic stalled. She was stuck there for about an hour. But finally they move again. The driver drops her off at the airport, but wait — He drops her off at the United terminal. Em realizes this once she gets inside. She asks for help. Twice. She runs to the shuttle for the other terminal. The shuttle bus doors have just closed. She looks hopeless.

Em is the one smiling with teeth. 😉

Hopeless doesn’t work. So, instead she goes into Looking Cute mode. The shuttle bus doors magically open.  She asks the driver for help. He tells her to hop on. She does. There are a MILLION stops. They get to the terminal. She goes to the kiosk to get her boarding pass but she doesn’t have a credit card and can’t pay the $20 for her luggage. Someone else helps. She gives them cash. They don’t even make her weigh her suitcase. Score! (Note: Shoes are heavy. Em likes shoes).

She finds the Security Screening. She goes through. She finds her gate. It is 9:30. Her plane is supposed to leave at 10. There is nobody milling around like normal. Em being the astute little camper that she is, goes to the woman at the little podium/counter thing and asks if this is the gate for the Bangor, Maine flight.

Woman: That flight is closed.

Em: !!!!!

She decides to look cute again.

 Em is still the same one.

Woman (speaks into walkie-talkie): MUMBLE MUMBLE.

Em: ?????!!!!

Woman (to Em):
Okay. You can go out. The plane is on the tarmac.

They let her through the doors. She rushes to the airplane, climbs up the stairs, gets on, looks at her ticket and then says to the flight attendant:
Is this the plane to Bangor, Maine?
Flight attendant person: No. This is the plane to Buffalo.

Em:

Flight attendant person:
The Bangor plane is behind us, I think.

Em runs down the stairs, across the tarmac and towards a plane that was completely obscured by the Buffalo plane. She drops things on the tarmac. She picks things up. She runs. She scrambles up the flight of stairs and says, “Is this the plane to Bangor?”

It is.

But wait!

Her seat is gone. They have given it away because she is late.

“NO!!!!!!!!” Em screams.

But they let her sit in the exit row all by herself. She buckles up and makes it. Nobody kidnaps her. She does not fly to Buffalo. She flies home.

She is amazing.

And cute.

And resourceful as heck.

Me: You will write about this some day.

Em: I have already lived it once; I do not want to live it again.

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

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

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Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie

Friday Writing Life – Save Yourself Today

“The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself,” said E.E. Cummings. 

Unlearn who you are. It’s a tall order because it means rewriting all the false scripts in your brain telling you what you aren’t capable of; it’s silencing the internal editor critiquing your choices.

That’s hard.

It’s also worth it.

Sherwood Anderson said, “The object of art is not to make salable pictures. It is to save yourself.”

Save yourself today.

Make art.

Care about others.

Care.

Be kind.

Don’t put up with lies.

Listen to other people’s stories.

Make your own.

 

Writing News

I have a hard time writing about writing news on Do Good Wednesdays, but the third book in my middle grade TIME STOPPERS series comes out this August. It’s a really big adventure epic about kids fighting evil because apparently that’s what kids have to do. Actually, it’s what we all have to do.

Timestoppers3_005

And for more info about me, my books and podcast, check out my blog and website.

Writing Advice – Down on My Shins, Baby

Writing advice.

Everyone has it even if it’s as simple as, “Don’t listen to advice.”

But there is no one way to write the same way there’s no one way to live.

On my trip to the Indigo/Chapters Teen Choice Awards awhile ago, the first leg of my trip ends in the flight from Bangor to Philadelphia. I’m really psyched because:

1. I like Philadelphia even if it is just the airport.
2. I was in the first row of the plane so I was like the third one off. SCORE! That never happens.
3. I am easily psyched.

 

This t-shirt would be appropriate for me to wear all the time. You know, if I wore this kind of t-shirt.

It turns out that I have to get to another terminal in order to catch my next flight to Toronto. To get there you have to walk through one terminal and go to a place where it says SHUTTLE TO TERMINAL F.  To get to this magical shuttle place you have to go down an escalator. This should be nice and easy, except the space at the bottom of the escalator is not big enough to hold the bajillion people who want to go on the shuttle, so everyone has to turn immediately right and form a line that runs parallel to the escalator. This also should be easy, right? We are smart people who fly on airplanes, forming a line is easy-peasey.

But, apparently not all of us:


1. Like to form lines.
2. Understand how to form lines.
3. Like to follow the directions of the men yelling, “Go to the right! Form a line, people! Go to the right!”

When I come down the escalator there’s a flight attendant behind me and I figure that:


1. She is in a hurry.
2. She is a bit frustrated by people who fail to form lines.
3. She is moving on flight-attendant warp speed.

 

So, when I step off the escalator, she steps off right behind me. I wait for a second to see if the man in front of me understands the whole MOVE TO THE RIGHT AND FORM A LINE THING.

He doesn’t.

Flight attendant lady wants none of this, so she scoots around me, but when she does her luggage (on rollers) hits the back of both my knees — one, two — in this perfect way that makes me fall right down to the floor on my shins, so it looks like I am praying to the shuttle gods or something. Not that there are shuttle gods, obviously.

So you must picture me on the floor surrounded by people who can not form a line to the right.

And you must picture all those people staring at me with their mouths wide open.

And you must picture me laughing hysterically because (seriously) how funny is it that I got taken down by a flight attendant’s luggage.

And you must picture everyone thinking I’m a weirdo.

And then I bounce right back up and got in line, because that’s the way this writer rolls. 😉

Is there a point to this story?

Yes and no.

Every story we create out of our lives (or out of fiction) has underlying truths inside of it. I could have chosen to cry and sue the flight attendant, which would have made me wealthier, probably. I could have chosen not to tell this story about me falling down, which would make me seem cooler, probably.

Writing experts, blog experts, life experts, marketing experts, expert experts would probably have told me that my vulnerable story of darkness isn’t going to sell any books, which is what I’m supposed to do because it’s how I earn my living and buy dog food. They’d tell me to write not quite so conversationally. They’d tell me to make sure my SEO has words like ‘tips and hints’ in it to drive blog traffic.

But here’s the thing? For me, I’m going to form a line when I’m supposed to if it’s helping the greater good. And I’m usually going to laugh if I get knocked down because it’s better than crying – usually.

And I am going to explore the wonderings and the questions that are inside of me about life and writing and people’s love and people’s cruelty, their selfishness and selflessness in every way that I know how. And I am going to find meaning in little things and big things.

 

My only writing advice, my truest writing advice is this:

Expect that you are going to be stupid sometimes.

Expect that you will fall.

Expect that writing a story, just like a life, is a big adventure that you can’t always control.

Our job as humans and as writers isn’t to dictate belief sets to other people, but to give them possibilities, questions to bounce off of and explore, moments of ‘huh’ and ‘what ifs,’ seconds of laughter and failure and poignancy that they can use as a launch pad for their own explorations.

What are your ‘huh’ moments? When do you think, ‘what if?’

Writing News

I’m super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in a secret, magical town in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids being awesome.

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

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go buy the first two books now. 🙂

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

My Post Copy-2

 

 

Dealing With Failure – Part One

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

This week I failed at something in a business way and …. Well, it shook me.

To be fair, I am pretty raw and frayed right this second and my resilience isn’t at its peak. But for whatever reason, it shook me a lot.

I cried.

I didn’t wallow, but wow. I really wanted to wallow.

Instead, I posted on Facebook and asked people what they do when they feel like they’ve failed, when they are shook, when they are sad. How do they work their way out of it?

Note: My post wasn’t asking about depression, but a lot of people answered as if it was and those answers? They helped other people reading the post. That’s a big deal. And I am thankful for it.

People are giving. People want to help

I love that people were so incredibly willing to share their strategies for when they feel pointless, when failure seems too large. And I’m going to have a series of posts where I share these strategies because that’s the cool thing.

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

People want to help other people feel better, get through it. Remembering that matters, especially when you feel like you’re being annoying by not being perfectly happy. Nobody is always perfectly happy.

My friends’ and readers’ advice was beautifully varied, which only made it better because you could see the similarities and trends and differences in people’s coping mechanisms.

Some of those coping mechanisms involved apps.

“I’ve been there too this week if it makes you feel any better. My tips are to be gentle with yourself. Maybe take a long walk. I’ve downloaded a meditation app to my phone called Mind Space, and that helps me. A hot shower, some comfy pajamas and a cozy book. I like Rosemund Pilcher because she’s sort of soothing.” – Shannon Hitchcock, author

And another app was really popular. It’s called Calm.

“I use the app called Calm. It’s amazing and helps me with my insomnia and my anxiety. It’s got music and stories that help me relax and not stress out as much. It’s so awesome.” – Lindsey Schultz, photographer

 

And there with other people who deliberately moved their brains’ focus via distractions that were sound-based (like an app, but not), which was super interesting to me.

“I’m prone to having that feel like a failure reaction you describe. I turn on the tv or something that shuts my brain down for a couple of hours. That helps and It sounds ridiculous but I’ve noticed listening to people laughing on tv helps even if I’m not paying attention.” – Trish Madell, author

This sort of distraction and laughter is actually a thing that is often used to help with anxiety and depression. Yes! Yes! I know the trite saying that “laughter is the medicine” but there is truth behind that.

Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins battle stress and make our immune systems tougher. Laughter connects us with others and makes us feel less alone. Laughter uses your brain’s whole cortex.

And for us creative people, humor actually makes us more innovative, we’re more apt to improv and make leaps in our thinking. How cool is that?

Do something that makes you laugh. For whatever reason, I always laugh at America’s funniest home videos. This seems stupid, and it’s a little embarrassing to even admit, but no matter how shitty I’m feeling, if I watch enough of them, I’ll laugh and pull myself out of the heaviness of the feeling of failure. On the other hand, I’ve learned to grieve some of my failures. Losing a book contract, for me, felt like such a failure. I tried so hard not to grieve it–to push through–but sometimes we need to grieve the loss and acknowledge the sadness. I’ve even had a friend send me a sympathy card for a book loss because it’s a valid loss, something worth crying about. Not every failure is, but sometimes I think we are too quick to assume we don’t deserve to feel bad.- Jody Sparks, author

So, for my first post in this series, here are the tips that came from my brilliant friends and readers

  1. Find a good app that makes you calm. Use it.
  2. Find the funny. Watch tv. Listen to laugher.

But what both of these things do is that they create a feeling of control.

When you turn on that app and use it to feel better? You are making the choice to feel better.

When you decide to watch something funny to feel better? You are making the choice again. You feel like you are in control, which is so incredibly different than feeling like a failure, isn’t it?

Writing News

I am super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.  And honestly, if you want to help me feel less stressed about failure and the writing world, leaving a review for the books and buying them? That is the best thing you can do for me.

Anyway…

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

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

 

“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” –  BCCB

 

“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” –  Booklist

 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

 

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

 

 

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

writing tips life tips carrie jones books
carrie jones books

The Time Security Got on my Airplane and I Accidentally Exit The Plane

So, the traveling to Toronto saga continues here. I’m so sorry it’s taking so long to tell! I am actually at Book Expo America in New York today and not in Toronto at all.

I miss Toronto.

 

 

 Grover says: Carrie is very long winded! 

Thanks, Grover. Nice. So, on the airplane from Philadelphia to Toronto I once again score a Row 1 seat! Yay! The flight attendant guy is made of awesome. He’s really nice and funny and kind of cute. His name was Ahmad, I think. Anyways Ahmad is totally rocking the flight and we’re almost there when I notice Ahmad seems a bit – how do I say this – stressed?

 Grover: This is what I look like when I am stressed.

Fortunately, he doesn’t look like that, Grover. He was still cute and in control. I want to ask him if he’s okay, but I don’t get the chance and so I do what any self-respecting writer would do. I watch him as he watches a very specific part of the airplane as we land. I watch him once we land and he picks up the phone and talks to the airport terminal.

And I hear snippets of the conversation because I am super snoopy…..

It was in her seatback.
She said it wasn’t hers.
She also wouldn’t put her seat back in the upright position. I asked multiple times. She refused.
7A

The guy next to me and I give each other big eyes. The guy next to me is nice. He also looks like he’d be good in a brawl. I suddenly like him very much and decide that nice man next to me is an asset on this flight.

So, then Ahmad says on the loudspeaker. “I am so sorry to inconvenience all of you, but we’re going to have to wait to disembark until Security comes on the plan to deal with one passenger.”

Some people moan. I think I may squee because I know something that most people don’t realize: The special TSA/Security airport guys are incredible hot. And Toronto seems to have the hottest of them all.  And I know this is a totally immature response because we could have been in trouble or something, but the lady probably was smuggling some pot or something, and you have to understand the hot-i-tude factor. Plus, I know Ahmed has things under control and he has nice-guy-next-to-me for back-up in case the Security/Whatever-TSA-is-called-in-Canada has issues.

 Grover: Were they as hot as I am when I dress up like a doctor and put on these glasses? 

Almost, Grover. Almost.

So, because of my PRIME SEAT in 1D, I get to stare at the Security guys and they smile at me! Swoon! And then they decide to let us disembark, but horrible 7A lady gets upset so I am the only one who actually gets to follow directions and scoot out of the plane, propelled forward by the hand of one of the hot Security guys. I scoot under his arm pit and head up the ramp all by myself! I was the only one who got off right away! How cool is that?

I am ridiculously lucky because:
1. I actually got off a plane first and that never happens
2. Hot man touched me
3. I got a whole story about it.

Yay!

The only thing that would be better was if she hadn’t had anything illegal and she got in so much trouble JUST FOR NOT PUTTING HER SEAT BACK INTO THE UPRIGHT POSITION. Seriously? How awesome would that be? Because I swear, every time I’m on an airplane, the person in front of me does that.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

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

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

 

So, you want to be a bad writer, come sit down.

Bad writers, gather around. I see that you’re already glaring at each other and/or looking at your phone in an attempt to avoid human contact.

Beautiful.

You’re off to such a terrific start.

Welcome to the five-stop HOW TO BE A BAD WRITER program. Yes, we have placed you in your natural environment, a coffee shop, because we couldn’t all fit on a bed or couch. I’m sorry if you aren’t comfy enough. Ready?

Let’s begin.

Easy Ways To Be A Bad Writer

Care Only About You

That’s right. Your readers don’t matter. Writing isn’t actual communication between the writer and reader. It’s just you. You are all that matters.

No empathy allowed.

Assume Everyone Thinks The Same Way You Do and Has The Same Experiences

That’s right. Every single character in your book and in the world in an ISTP on the Myers-Briggs personality scale just like you are. They react to things the same way you do. Mm-hm. So, if you reference a dooryard, they are just going to get it. If you never get harassed by the police because you are a white, wealthy guy, that’s how it always is. Mm…

Do not have empathy, bad writers! Again. No empathy allowed.

Expect Everyone to Give You Everything You Want.

The first time anyone reads your rough draft that you finished last night, they are going to give you:

  1. A book contract
  2. A movie contract
  3. A hug
  4. Unlimited praise and fan-mail
  5. A jet
  6. A fully paid worldwide publicity tour.

Bad writer, you deserve this. You shouldn’t have to revise. Revising is for wimps and good writers and people with empathy. To hell with that and them.

Rant at Every Opportunity.

Someone gives you a bad review? Who is this cretin? Does he not recognize genius? Immediately rant and escalate the situation and call your minions down upon he who dared to suggest your ending was not resonating enough and that you should learn the difference between your and you’re.

Unleash the Kraken. The Kraken has no empathy and no chill, either.

Blow Everyone Off

Social media is communication? Whatever. Not for you. Social media is just where you blast everyone with your book promotions and self-indulgent I AM AWESOME posts. Never say thank you. Never communicate back. You’re an author not a communicator, right?

Right.

Secret Superheroes

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

 

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

 

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

More about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

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

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

 

Make Your Setting Kick Butt

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of writing where setting is just… Well, it’s missing.

You begin a chapter and there are just these talking heads and you’re not quite sure where they actually are.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

 

And the reader is like, “Cool. They have Coke. They are upset. But where are they? Are they floating in the ether? Are they in Newark? I just don’t know.”

So the first rule of creating a kick butt setting for chapters or scenes in your book is:

Actually have a setting.

I know! I know! This seems obvious.

It is not obvious.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John had in his dorm room.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Make the Setting Somewhere Cool if you can

A lot of stories have scenes around a dining room table.

There are places in the world that aren’t dining room tables. It’s okay to have a domestic scene in a bathroom, a bedroom, a basement. It’s okay to make the dining room cool. It’s okay to make the dining room a couch.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Think about Theme and Mood

If your book is about misery make your settings reflect that. If your book is about displacement, do that, too.

 

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper. It was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Remember Detail

Depth and intricacy aren’t swear words. The Belles, a newish YA novel does such a fantastic job of having setting become part of and enhance the story. J.K. Rowling? Same thing. Give yourself a moment to really breathe and live in the place that your characters are breathing and living in.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper. It was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said, shutting the door. There were stickers all over it, declaring, “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK” or “FREE TIBET,” or “HEGEMONY NOW.” Some of the stickers were peeling off at the edges, like they were trying to escape the actual refrigerator door, but they couldn’t. They were stuck.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

 

Study Old Books

The Charles Dickens’ and Brontes of this world were masters at making you live inside the settings. Don’t copy them, but pull out one of those old books where time was spent creating the stage. Roots was a book that always felt real to me. Color Purple, too. The Bluest Eye.

Find a book where you feel like you live in the place and study a paragraph or two and try to determine how the authors make you see that world.

 

Use Your Senses and Your Symbols

Setting isn’t just visual. It’s smell. It’s the feel of the air on your skin. It’s a million things all combined. The symbols and objects that create your place also reflect the story. Think how Twilight was rainy and dark, foreboding with its trees as opposed to Bella’s original sunny south.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper and shut it fast. Broccoli smelled rolled into the air, sickening and heavy.

The mini fridge was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said, shutting the door. There were stickers all over it, declaring, “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK” or “FREE TIBET,” or “HEGEMONY NOW.” Some of the stickers were peeling off at the edges, like they were trying to escape the actual refrigerator door, but they couldn’t. They were stuck.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.” I popped the top of the Coke. The click and fizz of it satisfied me more than this conversation ever could.

“Seriously.” John swallowed hard.

I met his eyes.

He looked away and slammed the door of the MINI shut before leaning across the top of it, hiding his head in his arms.

The rotten broccoli smell somehow got worse. Gagging, I took a swig of the Coke, forcing it down.

Now, go back up and read the first pretend excerpt again. It’s a totally different story, isn’t it? It’s weird because I’m weird, but it’s better.

My Post-40WRITING NEWS

I’ll be at Book Expo America on June 1 at the Lerner booth from 11:30-12.

There’s a free information and inspiration session from  Write! Submit! Support!, a six-month intensive program through the Writing Barn.

It’s a one-day only thing just to hang out and learn about the program. I swear! No weirdness involved at all. More info is here.

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

51YDGwoXfXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Time Stoppers Book Two! Out in paperback this August! 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

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