Fast Writing Tip Wednesday: Let’s Talk About Tags

I’m not talking about tagging a friend or a celebrity on social media. I’m talking about dialogue tags, those helpful little buggers that show you who is speaking.

Like here:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

The dialogue tag is SHE SAID.

Here’s my First DIALOGUE Hint:

Every single dialogue line does not need a dialogue tag. Those babies can survive without them!

So, don’t do this:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think,” she said.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

All tags

That reads like a second grade book that you didn’t quite enjoy, right? Not even in second grade.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think.”

“Does it think for you? Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

Less tags

If you have two people talking you don’t ALWAYS have to tell us who said what. The paragraph indents give us that clue.

Here is my Second DIALOGUE Hint

If you add in the character action instead of the dialogue tag, it can make things zing and change meaning.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” She held the potato above her head, thrusting it towards the sky.

He took one step backwards, eyeing the spud. Someone had stuck plastic appendages and even eyes and lips into it. “What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'”

“The fruit helps you think.” She brought the potato back down to her level and kissed its bright, red lips.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong. Also, potatoes aren’t fruit.”

“We must all think for ourselves.”

Add in some action

That’s it! Two fast tips about dialogue tags. Fastest writing tips ever, right?


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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




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Be the Writer Dog You Want to Be – Gabby the Dog’s Story

I was going to write about ellipses today, but I decided to tell you Gabby the Dog’s story instead even though it’s not the most practical writing tip for Writing Wednesday.

Gabby’s Story

Imagine spending the first year of your life chained to a tree in Alabama, pretty much never getting any food, standing there, crouching there, hiding there in winter, in rain, in heat, in storms. Imagine people throwing things at you. Imagine hoping that you’d be fed.

          That was Gabby’s life.

            She grew broken, malnourished. Her hips didn’t work. Her knees needed help. She had no muscles to brace her tendons and ligaments and joints. 

            When she was rescued, the Great Pyrenees Rescue Organization that Carrie volunteers for, took her in and wondered if she’d last very long.

I was looking for aN Old dog to love

            “I was looking for an old dog that nobody wants,” I said when I told the rescue organization I wanted a dog. “So, it has a nice place to die and it can feel safe and loved.”

            “We have a two-year-old dog,” they said.

            “That’s not old.”

            “She has a lot of issues,” they said.

            I’m used to issues. “Send her over.”

            They did. I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Massachusetts, right by Harvard. Gabby was terrified. The handlers passed her off. She shook with fear. She stared at the cars and trucks and students and cowered, a tiny, 55-lb skeleton of a dog.

            “She is afraid of the color white,” they said. “She flinches if you raise your hand up, but even if you’re just wearing a white shirt or a white hat? She flinches. She is a dog with problems. She’s not very loving.”

           I took Gabby for a walk around Harvard before the handlers left. Gabby flinched. She almost constantly flinched.

Gabby the Dog Cooking with a Writer Recipes - Peanut Butter is Awesome
Peanut Butter is Awesome!

            When Gabby and I got in the car for the four-and-a-half-hour ride back to Maine, Gabby put her head in my lap. She didn’t flinch. She gently licked my hand. She stayed that way the entire ride.

            And since then all Gabby has been is the one thing everyone said she wasn’t – loving. Very loving. 

            She decided to be the dog she wanted to be, a dog who loves, a dog who plays and bounds around like a bunny. A dog who protects her family. A dog who loves.

This is totally another reason why dogs are smarter than people.

Writers

Writers, we can do this, too. We can become the people we want to be, work at our craft, be persistent and make stories. People will doubt you can do this. You will doubt yourself. But the secret is to not flinch. The secret is to love what you do. The secret is to become what you love.

It’s easy to give up, to choose doubt. But love? Unflinching love? That’s a choice we have to make again and again. Don’t give up.


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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


The Worst Writing Advice that Takes Down Even the Best Writers

Carrie got really confused this week because she went on YouTube and looked up “Writing Advice” and there was a really popular vlogger who gives a ton of writing advice, but she’s not published things.

She is, however, really definite on her views on how to be a good writer, which is lovely. It’s lovely to be so confident.

But it made us think about what the worst writing advice ever is.

It’s not:

Write every day.

It’s not even:

Write what you know.

It’s not:

Write for you and if you like it, that’s all that matters.

It’s not any of those one-size fits all tidbits.

Here’s what it is:

Don’t write. It’s a waste of time.

I don’t care who is giving you this advice. It might be your mom, teacher, bff, your life-partner, kid, an evil bastard who lives next door, a published writer. Or worse, it could be your own inner-critic, which lurks like a demon of self doubt in your frontal lobe.

That advice? It’s crap. It’s jealousy or stupidity or self-doubt. If you want to write? Write.

Don’t believe me that everyone deals with this? Or almost everyone? Here is a quote from the man, himself.

The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them.


The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now, they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome—something my wife Amanda christened the Fraud Police.


In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t get to make things up anymore.


—Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech at the University of the Arts Class of 2012

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Author Matthew Kesselhas some pretty cool advice about what he does when he’s overwhelmed by self doubt.

He writes through the doubt.

He reminds himself of all the good things he’s done as a writer.

Incorporates that doubt into more emotionally resonate characters.

Talks through it with other writer people who know how it is.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Dude. Be who you are. Embrace it. Don’t question it. Go with the flow, man. Don’t let others label you or diminish you, but most importantly YOU don’t diminish you.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

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


Writers, These Words That Should Be Dead To You

Some words are overused.

And no, I’m not talking about bae or bro or even awesome.

I’m talking about the words that just aren’t doing anything for writers and that writers are being lazy about using. I think of these words as placeholders, they hold a place for us when we’re drafting so that when we revise we can go back and make things better.

Top Five Dead Words

Good

Ex: She looked good, man.

Seriously? What does that mean? What kind of word is this? Good is a placeholder. To what degree is she looking good? How good is she looking?

Bad

Ex: He was a bad man.

Um, aren’t we all bad man, deep inside? What is it that makes him bad? What kind of bad is he? Creepy? Nasty? Wicked?

Stuff

You, know man, stuff was happening.

What? No, I don’t know! What kind of stuff? Don’t be a lazy writer.

Got

In dialogue this word works, but in your narrative? Not so much.

Ex: I got up and got the dog.

Do you mean you woke up? And then you picked up the dog? Or something? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WRITER?

Very

I swear, my high school English teacher would scream if any of us students wrote ‘very’ in a story. He would circle it 8,000 times in red pen and would say, “If you get nothing else from this class, understand this. VERY should not exist. Excommunicate it from your writing.”

Why did he despise the word so much?

It’s an intensifier meant to make the word following behind it even more powerful, but he believed that if the word needed ‘very,’ then it wasn’t a powerful enough word on its own.

Or as Florence King said, “‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2-963x1024.jpeg

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


Writing Your Darn Story, The Easiest Plot Structure Ever

Are you ready? Because I’m writing this while I have a fever, which means it might be a weird, wild ride.

A lot of the writers I teach get really freaked out about structure. They go on multiple craft book journeys trying to find the structure that resonates with them, the one that gives them that beautiful a-ha moment.

Who can blame them?

Don’t we all want that beautiful a-ha moment?

Here is the simplest structure choice. Ready?

You have a character.

Your character has a problem.

How will she solve it?

Make her try to solve it.

Make her fail.

Make her try to solve it again.

Make her fail again.

Do this until near the end (¾’s in) and make everything seem absolutely hopeless.

Let her solve the damn problem.

Let her rejoice.

How many times should she try?

In our Western culture, we like the number three for some reason. I’m personally more of a fan of the number four. But we authors tend to give the main character three big attempts to solve her issue before we let her succeed. We’re mean like that.

Make it tougher

We call this the rising action, but basically it means that each time she tries to fix things, it should be harder, there should be more at risk, she should be more desperate and emotionally invested.

When the attempt fails, the tension gets a bit mellower until it rises again even higher for the second and third attempts. It becomes a pattern.

That’s It – The Simplest Plot Structure Ever

Really. It’s a pretty simple plot structure but it works. No, I didn’t mention inciting incidents and midpoints and other things, because this is the simple plot structure.

But, don’t forget that even with the simplest of plot structures, the point of the story is to have it make sense. When your character does something, let there be consequences that logically move us to the next part of the story. Remember cause and effect? That’s important to us writers.

This post was brought to you by Carrie’s fevered brain.

Writing News

From April 23-27 NEED and TIME STOPPERS ebooks are on sale on Nook. Please go buy one. They’re only $1.99 and $.99, which is so cheap that even I can afford them.

Time Stoppers Middle Grade Fantasy Series by Carrie Jones
Time Stoppers Front and Back Covers – US versions

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

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

Seven Cool Things About Being A Writer

Okay. There’s like a trillion million things but here’s a short list OF WHy it’s cool to be a writer.

I am making this list a non-serious post, because I had TWO serious posts on Monday and I need some lightness, you know?

Okay. Here goes for real. Cool Things About Being A Writer



1. You do NOT have to get up early in the morning to go to work. Score! 

2. You get to go to the bookstore and look at books in your genre and stay stuff like, “Gwenda Bond. I went to school with her. Tiffany Trent. I slept with her. John Green. He is so nice. Tim Wynne-Jones. I have seen him dance. Varian Johnson. I love Varian. Etc….”

3. You get invited to high schools and they expect you to just talk about yourself and writing. Instant therapy anyone? Plus, sometimes you get to flirt with the librarians. I LOVE flirting with librarians. 

4. You get to know awesome writers and sometimes read their stuff before they are even published. God, how cool is that?

5. You get fan mail. Seriously? How many professions get actual fan mail? Okay. You also get the occasional review that’s made of evil but whatever… Honestly every time I get a piece of fan mail I freak out like, “What the heck? This is to me? Because of my book?” It is really the best feeling and if you are about to be a published author get ready BECAUSE THIS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU!!!!!

6. Did I mention the whole not-having-to-get-up-early to go to work thing? 

7. When cool stuff happens to your author friends and/or mentors or Twitter friends or whatever you want to scream and happy dance all around your kitchen AND YOU CAN because nobody expects writers to act sane. Score!

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

Art

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

Why Blogging is Good for Writers (okay, for me) and, no, it has nothing to do with marketing

Why Blogging is Good for Writers (okay, for me):

1. Complaining is Easier On the Blog

When you complain about how scared you are that your book will be toilet worthy, you can’t see other people roll their eyes at you. They also don’t get too angry at you or call you a stupid head when you don’t go to the ER after gashing your arm. Cough. Not like I did that.

Cough.

2. People Get It and Don’t Always Judge

People understand sometimes because they are also scared that your book will be toilet worthy, and they know how hard it is to plunge out a book from the toilet. And they might even understand because they too have refused to go to the ER. Or can relate because they are scared that their own book is toilet worthy

3. You Learn

You can learn a lot about people’s personalities from how they write. You know it’s true. Why do I feel like certain authors are the kindest, nicest humans ever?

Because of how they blog.

Why do I feel like some authors are narcissistic liars who only care about themselves? And are really creepy?

Because of how they blog.

4. You Become a Better Writer

Seeing how people blog helps me to better understand people and hopefully better understand my characters. And all writers need to do that.

The more we learn, the more we learn about our own craft AND the more we learn about other people. Seeing how people react to our blogs, helps us understand how readers will react to our stories.

Because writing is about communication. We send our words out into the world and when people read them? Not only is that the best, but that’s communication and sharing.

It’s amazing.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


TIPS ON CREATING A WEB PRESENCE BEFORE YOU’VE ACTUALLY SOLD A BOOK OR AFTER…

Normally, I give writing tips on Wednesday, but instead, I’m looking at two websites that totally rock by two novelists who make me all weak-kneed. Seriously, I don’t know them. I wish I know them, but I feel like I do.

Why is this?

Because of their made-of-awesome websites. 

Both Meg Cabot and Chuck Wendig have websites that make you feel like you know them; like they’re your friend. Sure, Meg’s home page is full of links to buy the books and things like that, but it’s her personality and energy that comes through everywhere. 

You look at her website and think she’s saying:

 Hi, I’m Meg Cabot! I am beautiful, brilliant, and fun to hang out with. Don’t I look like someone you want to go to a football game with and complain about the cold while simultaneously scoping the world for hotties? 

Meg Cabot stolen from her Twitter page



On Meg’s site she’s clean lines everywhere. She gossips. She’s had contests. She talks about her kitties. I am emotionally invested in her kitties. This is sad, but it’s true.

She updates her blog monthly. She (or some web guru person) updates her site. AND IT ALL WORKS!

Why does it work? 

Because she’s got the Meg Cabot brand going down: Funny, Kind, Kitty-loving, Occasionally Snarky in a Best Friend Whispering at a Slumber Party Kind of Way. She rocks it. 

And I think a lot of it has to do with her blog. 

Chuck Wendig? Same thing, only it’s not about cats. It’s about snark and writing advice given in a snarky way.

Chuck Wendig’s photo from his website.


 It makes you think:

This man is a terrible mind (the name of his blog), but he’s pretty damn unafraid and it would be cool to be that unafraid.

Chuck’s blog changes often and gives funny glimpses into his life and often has really powerful discussion about the writing craft and industry. His wit and intelligence and passion always come through. That’s the Chuck Wendig brand, plus occasional swearing.

So, what does this mean for the rest of us? It means that we need to think about our blogs and our websites and how we brand ourselves to the people out there.

Tips on Creating a Web Presence Before You’ve Actually Sold a Book or After… 🙂

1.      Write a blog.

2.      Do not tell your mother about your blog so that you can actually blog about fun things. My mother reads my blog. This is not good. 

3.      Do not think that blog is a good place to talk about your marriage failing or your medical problems unless you can do that in a way that is really poignant or really funny. 

4.      Do not talk about your mother on your blog if she reads your blog. Have I said this already? It’s an important point. Believe me.

5.      To build a community you should comment on other people’s blogs and say NICE things, Do not say, “You are a stupid idiot and nobody cares about your toe nails. STOP WHINING ALREADY.” This does not win friends and fans.

6.      Create a website.

7.      Have that website be MORE than just your bio and a list of your books. Update it often. Create the public persona you want to create. Do you want to be M.T. Anderson brilliant? Neurotic like me, Carrie Jones? Sexy? Witty? Sweet? 

8.      Have your blog be part of your website so that the information is constantly changing. 

9.      Be kind to the people reading your things especially if they email you or comment. Unless you  are super famous and can’t keep up, do NOT ignore people’s emails and comments. 

10.  Be honest and stick to the web persona you are. If you are always snarky people expect snarky. If you are always funny people will expect funny. Do not suddenly talk about Dafur if you usually only talk about toenails and Supernatural. You can do both, but you want to be a little consistent even in your inconsistencies. 

11.  It’s okay to celebrate good book news but don’t be a big bragger head. I absolutely ignore one of my friend’s blogs because she does this ALL THE TIME. And that is all she does. She’s great in person but on the net she drives me nuts.

12.  Remember you are a writer and you are also a person. Use the best parts of you as both writer and person to create your blog and your websites.

13.  Don’t be afraid to be a dork

14. Tweet or Gram or Facebook post and remember the rules apply there, too. Be mutual and reciprocate people’s kindness.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, 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. Our latest episode is above. It’s also on YouTube here.

What Makes a Story Awesome

I posted this back in June and I’m vaguely burnt out this week, plus I think it’s good advice, so I’m reposting it. Spoiler: I’m not vaguely burnt out. I’m pretty dragging.

It needs emotion.

Emotional tug and resonance. That’s a big key about what makes a story awesome, but there are a couple more important ingredients that you need to make your story shine bright like a diamond. Thanks Rihanna.

Your character has to have emotions and emotional reactions so that your reader has emotional reactions to what’s going on.

It needs conflict.

There needs to be a want and obstacles to the want.

It needs to be fresh.

When I wrote Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, I was trying to understand a hate crime that I’d heard about, but I also was trying to write not from the point-of-view of the evil bully or the gay man. I decided to write from the point of view of the ex-girlfriend. It was a different angle. And it was picked up off the slush pile out of thousands of novels and published because it was fresh. And it won a IPPY award because of the same reason.

It needs to be believable.

It may end up being a story about a boy wizard, but it needs to start somewhere real, like ‘What if there were magical people and one of them was evil and killed the parents of a boy. But what if he didn’t die because his mother’s love was the greatest, strongest magic of all? And what if he survived to fight that wizard, eventually?” The what-ifs are a writer’s best weapon. But the premise needs to be based in something we all understand (or want to), which in that case was love.

Do Good Wednesday

So, since I have a tendency to come on people in stress and duress and since it’s my stepdad’s death-i-versary and he died of a heart attack, here is my do good Wednesday idea.

Take a CPR class.

It’s important. It helps. It can buy people time until an ambulance arrives or a defibrillator is there.

This link takes you to CPR classes run by the Red Cross, but there are so many places you can take them.



WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

Don’t Hate the People You Write For, Writing Tip Wednesday

It seems pretty simple, doesn’t it?

You write books for readers. You shouldn’t hate your readers or think you’re better than them and yet…?

This is one of those blog entries you regret later, but I don’t care. I’ll erase it tomorrow morning if I get terribly regretful.

On a forum for Children’s book writers, a long time ago, a fellow student wrote, “Kids are morons.”

I had a really hard time with that.

Why?

Because that statement is just so wrong on so many levels.

1. It’s bigoted. Why do people think it’s okay to write bigoted statements about kids? Why is this somehow more acceptable than writing a bigoted statement about gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, class. I know. I know. People do say bigoted statements about all of those things, too. But it seems like no one at all notices when the bigotry is against kids.

2. This person who said that “kids are morons” is a children’s book writer. HOW WRONG IS THIS? YES! I AM SHOUTING! Talk about a total disrespect for your client. How condescending. How not to market yourself. Can you imagine if a congressman openly said, “All voters are morons.” Or if a singer said, “Everyone who listens to my songs is an idiot.” They’d be getting a lot of votes and downloads.

3. It’s also wrong because it’s a blanket statement. It’s the classic bigotry set-up. Show difference (Kids are not adults). Make differences bad (Kids have less life experience than adults). Make the other group lesser (Kids are morons). 

It’s bigger than kids

This is obviously bigger than just a kids book writer hating on kids. It’s about generalizations and not realizing that you can’t make a blanket statement of any category of people because of their demographics. All 15-year-old kids from Maine are not the same. All 47-year-old men from Seattle are not the same.

When we make blanket statements that are full of derision we hurt ourselves and others. We miss out on how cool other people are, but we also add to the amount of stupidity and hate in the world.

As writers, we’re supposed to understand difference, character, choices and actions. We’re supposed to be able to create stories that resonate with multiple truths, not just our own. It’s suppose to be about empathy, responsibility and story. Not judgement and derision.

I’m wandering off to grumble now.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, 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. Our latest episode is below. It’s also on YouTube here.