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 Writing a First Page for Kids’ Books

These are what I once learned from the First Pages Panel at New England SCBWI Spring Conference on a Saturday when people were still able to gather in groups.

(The cool editors involved were Katie Cunningham, Alyssa Henkin Eisner, and Diane Landolf)

Eight Hot Tips (Ouch! On fire!) To Writing A Good First Page

Tip 1

It’s cool to be funny. It’s cool to be poignant, but it is awesome to be funny AND poignant. 

TIP 2

It’s good to have lovely language but not too much of it because then it’s easy to forget about character and plot. Yes, character and plot are actually important in children’s stories.

TIP 3

Every sentence should make you move towards the next sentence. Dogs eat cake. The martians have yellow hair. Journal writing is incessant.  Those are examples of sentences that do NOT move forward.

TIP 4

A good strong voice is much better than a wimpy little voice. Voices are like superheroes. We want them to have muscle. They have to save us from evil plots and menacing back story.

TIP 5

Kookiness is good as long as it is kid-friendly kookiness. 

TIP 6

Your first page shouldn’t be a character study. Your character study should be a character study. 

TIP 7

Don’t stay inside your own head too long, Author Person! We need emotion and movement to propel us readers forward.

TIP 8

Don’t sound 87 if you are supposed to be 15. Adult voice or datedness makes us not connect with the narrative.


Come Write With Me!

I coach, have a class, and edit things.


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 222,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Link to Jose’s bonus interview. Jokes, Stuffies, And Using Your Weirdness for Good, An Interview with Jose De La Roca

Link to Caitlyn’s bonus episode. Books, Law School during Covid-19 and just being Kick Butt – Using Law to Create Lasting Change – Interview with Caitlyn Vanover

This week’s episode. Money Is Not the Enemy and the Habits of the Rich

Last week’s episode link. Emotional Insecurity Is Us and Farts are Everywhere.

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!

Monday Exists and So Do You

Look at you. Working towards your goals. Dreaming big dreams. Inspiring.

Doing.
One word forward.


Another one.


Look at you go.


xo

Gabby the Dog


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 218,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Link to Jose’sbonus interview.

This week’s episode link. 


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!

What To Do When Life and Writing Sucks – Be Your Own Damn Hero

Being your own hero in the story of your writing is a big deal and it’s something we all shirk from. If we are the hero of the story, of our own life’s story, what does that exactly mean?

It means we are in charge of our story as much as we can be. It means that our actions and words and choices define what happens next in the plot of our life.

Yes, sometimes random horrors or brilliant moments happen and those things aren’t (or at least don’t directly seem) caused by us. But, those moment are still… They are part of our journey and who we are is determined by the choices we make as a reaction to those moments of random horror or beautiful brilliance.

One way to get a bit of traction in how your story goes in your literary life is to define what Todd Henry calls “The Big Three.” These aren’t exactly priorities. They aren’t exactly projects. They are the big loops happening in your creative life right now.

Here’s an example of a Big Three:

What is the problem I’m solving?

How do I add more value to the world?

How do I make what I’m doing matter?

Making your own big three is a big deal. It’s a bit like the six-month goal sheet that we make at the Writing Barn, but it’s more loose. And it’s best used when you apply it to every stimuli that you see. When you are watching a movie, think about your big three for a second. When you’re at a random meeting or a soccer game, think about your big three. How are you shaping your life and your art? How is your art shaping the world? Does it matter to you? How? How not?

What you put your energy and time into matters. The things you do, your commitments, have to not be so overwhelming that the creative part of your mind shrivels up and dies. You want to and deserve to flourish. Keep the things that matter to you, add value to you, and pluck off the rest.

And remember, so many ideas and epiphanies happen when your mind is at rest – in the shower, driving in the car (sort of at rest), at the edge of sleep, working out. There is a reason for that. It’s in the white space that ideas sprout, that innovation has the room to occur.

Writers Write

So what do you do when you can’t write? If our actions define us, then do we stop being a writer if we stop writing? It’s a good question.

Bring On The Pressure

Some of us kick butt when the pressure is on. Death. Pandemic. Job loss? For some of us those things actually make us run to the page and write and process and puke up all the words.

MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY

For some of us? Well, we can only write when we’re happy and excited and things are going in a kick-butt ways.

So What Do You Do If You Are In The Second Group?

It’s okay to take a hiatus. If you hold your breath, you don’t stop being a human. If you take a writing pause, you don’t stop being a writer.

Are you afraid that if you stop writing that you’ll never write again? If so, you need to get a support group to help you talk through that. You need people to keep you accountable.

Channel Your Inner Oprah

Be about the self care. That doesn’t mean binging Tiger King or running six miles while drinking green shakes made of kale. It’s about finding the right way to journey through your day, your week, your month and finding a balance. Find the things that make you happy and put them on your to-do list for a half hour a day. Make it a priority to make yourself happy and balanced. Don’t be all about work. Don’t be all about other people’s needs. Don’t be all about not writing. Take care of your damn self.

When people are hurt? They need to recover. Allow yourself to recover.

I am trying terribly hard to start running again. I am a person who actually has to wear knee braces when I run so my knees don’t pop out. Full disclosure: My knees pop out just sitting in a chair for three hours. And when they pop out? I can’t run for two weeks or so.

Running is my favorite thing to do.

But I have to pause every month or so and stop and let myself recover.

Writing and our brains can be like this, too. We need to give them time to revitalize, get strong. 

So how do we do that?

Create A Plan Of Action

Let’s say you’re a writer as a full-time job. You kind of have to keep writing to keep paying for your food, your house, and so on, right? What do you do if you are having a crisis of faith and brain?

  • Make a scheduled time plan and stick to it. Figure how long each tasks take and when the deadlines are and do a bit each day.
  • Remember why you are writing in the first place. 
  • Try to remember that things are almost always temporary and change is a natural state. This is how I get through almost every bad feeling and experience. I know that it can’t last forever. Sometimes I have to chant that to know it, but it works.
  • If something isn’t essential, put it at the bottom of your TO DO list. Like laundry. You don’t get to do laundry until you’ve written 300 words. That sort of thing. I do this all the time.
  • Take care of your darn self. Drink water not just tequila. Have a salad not just Doritos. Keep your body strong.
  • Check in with others. Find people who aren’t full of judgement and who are supportive. Check in with them every day. A little accountability and support go a long way in making you feel less alone. I promise.

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 213,000 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 Spellacy’s interview.

Link to Cara Sawyer (librarian of awesome) interview. 

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

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 


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. 

Continue reading “What To Do When Life and Writing Sucks – Be Your Own Damn Hero”

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”

Tips on Making Deviled Eggs and Not Killing Other Judge-y Humans

  • 1. Here’s a hint: They are called devilled eggs for a reason.
    2. And, no, it is not because of the little hint of jalepeno that gives them a kick.
    3. It’s because you have to HARD BOIL the little suckers first, and there are all these rules about boiling them. 
    Yes, rules about boiling an egg! WHY MUST THERE BE RULES ABOUT EVERYTHING!?!?!
    4. Boiling an egg should be simple.
    5. It isn’t. 
    6. It really isn’t simple if you get distracted by the fact that the 90-second rice pouch you put in the microwave just exploded.
    7. But this is about eggs, not exploding rice pouches.
    8. So, if you manage to boil the egg, you should then plunge the poor thing in cold, cold water.
  • And you must then PEEL THE EGG!
    9. Eggs are not meant to be peeled. This is why they are eggs. Not bananas.
  • 10. If you have happy, young fresh eggs they are harder to peel. The old buggers are better. 
    11. Be prepared to sacrifice many, many eggs in your egg-peeling quest for the perfect egg to devil.
    11. Once, eggs are peeled, halved, and stuffed, do not be offended when people in house say, “Holy crud. It’s like the egg has acne pits or something.”
    12. Do not be offended when people in the house say, “Um? Are you sure this is a devilled egg? Should it be all wobbly like this? And gooey? It’s kind of gooey.”
    13. Do not be offended when people in the house say, “Next time, can we just buy the premade kind in the grocery store? You know, the kind that is full of chemicals?”
    14. And do not have hurt feelings when they do not celebrate with you because you keep saying, “But look at the yolk. It isn’t green. That’s a big achievement, not to have green yolks.”
    15. Do not throw eggs at them.
    16. Breathe deeply and try to be one of those yoga-calm people who smell like lavender and sage incense and just say “Namaste” whenever they are pissed off.
    17. Honestly, just accept that you are not a gifted deviled egg maker. We can not all be gifted in all things eggy. You are a good scrambler. Be happy with this.

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.

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s interview with writer Jordan Scavone!

My newest adult novel. 

SO, HERE’S WHAT I’M UP TO. 

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! 

Questions People Ask Me About Writing and If I’m Successful or Just Weird

People ask me questions a lot because I’m a writer and I’ve had some success at it. And also because I have no filter.

Last week this student I was mentoring asked me:

Are you a successful writer?

And I said, “I’ve made NYT bestseller lists and some of my books were internationally bestsellers, so I guess so. It looks good in my obituary.”

He then cracked up and inhaled and coughed a tiny bit and I felt bad.

But truthfully, I don’t feel like a successful writer. I don’t feel like an unsuccessful writer, either. Success is what you make of it, you know. It’s about how you define it, not how your c/v or resume or obituary defines it. It’s especially not how other people define it.

You define you. That’s my mantra.

HOW ARE YOU SO PRODUCTIVE?

There’s a lot of clap back right now about not being productive and taking the pause and embracing the gaps and I’m all for that if that works for you. It does not work for me. I live in my moments, I promise, but I actually love creating things and writing things and helping other people create and write things? So, I don’t think of it as being productive. I think of it as doing. And as long as I have energy I want to be doing.

But, um, also I constantly stress a bit about running out of money, so I try to figure out new ways to survive. I should probably get therapy for that, but again – I’m cheap and therapy costs money in the U.S. So, I’ll keep making a podcast, expanding it, being a writing coach, editing, having a Patreon and writing books and making paintings. It’s all fun. It’s all good. I wouldn’t want to not create. I’d feel lost.

What Do You Do When You Get Writer’s Block?

I write something else even if it’s just, “Blah.Blah. Blah. I hate writer’s block. It is the biggest stupid evil thing ever.”

If that doesn’t work, I set a timer and clean for 15 minutes. I tell myself I will have to clean the toilet if I don’t write 500 words. That evil threat usually gets things done.

Are you writing something right now?

Always.

See above where I talk about needing therapy because I have a compulsion to be production. I am so lucky to be a writer. I don’t want to lose that. This means I am always working on something. To be fair, I don’t know how to not work on something.

Are You Short?

No. My husband is just ridiculously tall.

Are you drunk?

Nope.

On illegal drugs?

Nope. I’m just really weird. I am the person at the party that other people point at and say, “You are so wasted,” but I haven’t imbibed at all.

Is Maine Creepy?

Occasionally, but only because I live here.

What’s the Hardest Part About Writing?

Stopping. And worrying that no human will ever actually read it.

What’s the Easiest Part of Writing?

I love everything else about writing.

Weirdest thing that ever happened to you at a public event.

A bookseller bit another bookseller while they were waiting in line to get my book. Actually, one of them might have been a librarian.

Weirdest Thing that ever happened to you in Maine.

There are so many. Ghost stories? Weird noises in the woods. Seeing the Obama family in my town eating ice cream? The naked man at the door. There are a lot of stories.

Do You Get to Work in Your Pajamas?

Yes! Yes! A hundred times yes.

Are Parentheticals demons (from hell)?

Yes, and so are their first cousins, the ellipses….


Here’s the link to this week’s bonus podcast, an interview with Jordan Scavone.

Here’s the link to this week’s regular podcast, Zoombombing, Tiger King and are Your Family Members Killing You During the COVID Lockdown?

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. AND SO CHEAP. Help this neurotic writer eventually afford therapy and join the community!

WRITING NEWS! 

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. This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions and starts in April 2020 

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! 


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. 

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. 

When You Don’t Want to Be A Novelist, Turn to Haikus?

Since I no longer want to be a writer, I am procrastinating and I remembered something I used to procrastinate with. I was a haiku that made haikus out of your blog in some random fashion.

The haiku it gave me is this:

story but our stories
deserve characters who have
seizures or depression

This is quite funny because my first novel, TIPS, obviously has seizures in it. It is also quite unnerving because the WIP I no longer want to write (well, I no longer want to write anything because I am in a mood) has a character who has a form of depression.

It’s like the evil haiku gods are forcing me to to be a writer.

TO THE HAIKU GENERATOR

Leave me alone! I yell.
I am not tough enough for
the endless meanness.

Yep. I wrote that one. But not this one, which I just used another haiku generator to create.

VIRUS – A HAIKU


Distressing fountain
A live, anxious virus flies
betrayed by the shoes

That did not help my anxiety today, but it may have explained a lot about the current pandemic.

Here’s a link to a haiku generator. Let me know if you make something awesome!

I leave you with this.

Beer – A Haiku

Horny public house
A small, sloppy beer vomits
despite the pencils.

There’s just so much to unwrap there, isn’t there?

Stay safe and well and calm, my friends. It’s almost National Poetry Writing Month! We’ve got this.

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.

This week’s episode link. 

NEWS

Over 187,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them!

WRITING NEWS! 

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. 

Continue reading “When You Don’t Want to Be A Novelist, Turn to Haikus?”

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.