Girls on the Back Stairs, How Nils Lofgren Made Me a Pain

It’s the 1980s in Manchester, New Hampshire, and I was hanging out with my best friend, J, who had a terrific crush on Bruce Springsteen. While some people loved The Boss, J- was… she was a researcher. She knew random facts, not-so-random facts, stats, stories, everything.

She was an expert in all things Bruce.

And that was why we were hanging out on the back stairs of this run-down club in the bad part of Manchester. To be fair, this was not the only bad part of Manchester back then. It was sort of hard to find a good part of Manchester back then.

Inside the club was Nils Lofgren who was part of the E. Street Band and therefore super important to J.  He was touring to support his solo album, Flip, I think, but honestly I don’t know. I was more into bands like The Alarm, The Waterboys, artists like Tracy Chapman and Kate Bush and the Q-Tips and Tuck and Patti.

Me = Always weird.

J really wanted to listen to Nils Lofgren play.  Nils was a guy, way older than us. He was a guy with a guitar who sang gritty songs. He was a guy with a guitar who sang gritty guitars in grimy clubs and that was all that mattered to J. I went along for the ride because that’s what friends do.

The problem?

J’s mom wasn’t the kind of mom to let her hang out at a club that was 18 and up. Plus, we had no fake IDs. And if we had fake IDs, they still wouldn’t have worked because we looked like babies.

We were babies.

But we were super focused on hearing Nils play. If we could hear him, that would almost be like seeing him, right?

So, J. lied to her mom and said we were going to the high school football game. My mom dropped us off somewhere. J’s brother (who really was at the high school football game) saw us take-off and called his mom.

We didn’t know that though. We were too busy being ‘bad girls,’ sneaking up those back stairs and listening to Nils and his band.

“He knows Bruce,” J whispered.

“I know.”

“He’s so good. He’s so talented. Isn’t he?”

“Totally.”

She half fainted on the stairs. We could hear everything. Every hard drum beat, every guitar lick, every vocal, every bass line. It was … It was pretty freaking awesome, honestly.

And then the door opened and the owner of the club saw us. “What are you girls doing?”

“Listening.”

Listening.

Listening didn’t really encompass all we thought we were doing. We thought we were being rebels, live wires, Calamity’s children, free and crazy and suddenly cool because we were there – right there – where we weren’t supposed to be. But how do you tell that to a random club owner who is staring at you.

There was a break in the music and then we heard people talking.

What is it? 

It’s girls.

What are they doing?

Listening?

They’re babies.

Let them be, man. Let them be. 

These voices came to us like these mighty Greek gods, deciding our fate.

“Can we stay?” I asked finally brave.

“You can stay.”

I swear, J. almost fainted again. But the best part? The best part was that the club people propped open the door so we could hear better. And the other best part was when Nils proclaimed, “This one is for the girls on the back stairs.”

It was the 1980s in Manchester, New Hampshire and neither of us were cool, but we knew what good music sounded like and we were dimly aware that there was greatness in the walls of that grimy club that night, that the music world was amazing and eye-opening and bigger than us and for a second we got to be a part of it. We got to be the girls on the back stairs.

I always get in trouble with my handlers at book signings or after speaking events for Rotary and other things because I’m not fast at signing books or answering questions. Nils Lofgren is the reason for that. What was a throw-away moment for him resonated in my kid self forever. We were seen. We got to stay.

And that’s a big deal. When someone else listens and notices you? It’s huge. So, I hate rushing through signings or after events because I want to see people I’m interacting with, really see them for the time I get with them. That’s a gift, you know? And it’s a gift Nils Lofgren gave us.

And, yes, we got in trouble.

 

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our 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 Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“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 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

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Cooking With a Writer – Tipsy Grilled Pineapples

So, yeah.

I’ve been hanging out in the camper for weeks and weeks now and I’ve got to admit… I’m getting a little punchy. I sort of miss floor.

So, be warned, this recipe? It’s a little punchy, too. Punchy enough to make the rest of the family vegetarians?

No.

But, pretty punchy.

Tipsy Grilled Pineapple

This recipe is adapted from cookingcanuck.com, which is an awesome place to go hang out. 

  • .25 cup butter (unsalted is better for you)
  • .66 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour (regular kind)
  • 1 cup half and half stuff (my mom used to love this)
  • 3 tbsp dark rum (my mom refused to touch this)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • .25 tsp vanilla extract (try not to sniff it too much)
  • a bit canola oil or vegetable oil (to brush the grill)
  • 1 big pineapple (cut into 8 rings that are about ¾ inch thick)
  1. Okay. You are cooking with rum. Try to control yourself. 

    Put your heat source on medium. Then melt the butter in a big skillet or regular saucepan.

    Envy the butter. It changes shapes so easily while you have to work so hard to change shape. Realize part of the reason why you have to work so hard is because…. butter. 

    *PREHEAT THE GRILL TO MEDIUM*

  2. Resent the butter.

    Whisk in flour and brown sugar. To be fair, they don’t help you change shape (for the better) either. Take it out on them by  whisking constantly.

    Do this for two minutes.

    Feel spent.

  3. Regret your feelings. Butter, sugar, and flour can’t help it if you can’t resist them, can they? 

    No. 

    No.

    This is on you.

  4. Add the half-and-half. 

    Keep whisking.

    But whisk with love.

    Love them all for five minutes. The sauce will thicken.

  5. Take it off the heat. Murmur loving things. 

    Add the rum, fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract. 

    Try not to sniff the vanilla extract too long because I swear that stuff is like ModPodge or glue and it can make you a bit… Well, it does what rum does. 

    Put the sauce on low. Really low. Keep whisking until you use it. 

    HOW DO YOU DO THIS WHILE GRILLING THE PINEAPPLES? CALL YOUR FRIEND AND COOKING PARTNER OR RUN BACK AND FORTH SUPER FAST.

  6. You ready? It’s time to get these pineapples primed so they can get tipsy.

    Brush grill with canola oil. It’s like a happy tanning bed back in the 1970s. Didn’t people brush their skin with butter back then? 

    Flop the pineapple rings on the grill.

    Those pineapples are ready to party. Turn them over at 2.5 minutes in. They don’t want to be unevenly tanned. Cook them a total of 5 minutes. 

    Those babies are beautiful and ready to be tipsy! 

  7. Put ice cream on top.

    Pour sauce all over them. 

    Wow. 

Gabby the Dog: ALCOHOL IS EVIL AND YOU ARE TRYING TO KILL ME.

Sparty the Dog: I like this.

The Man: This isn’t actually a meal.

Me: Hiccup.

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews on QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROW

“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 on TIME STOPPERS
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Writing Tips Wednesday: Romance, Structure, and the Meet Cute

So, for the last few weeks, I talked about hooking your readers, but now I’m moving on a bit to story structure and romantic elements of your story.

The Meet Cute

Full disclosure: I am not the best at writing the meet cute scenes in romance stories. This is because lately, I’ve been writing stories where the characters have already met. They’ve grown up together and their relationship shifts from friendship to loveship.

I just made that word up.

But the meet cute happens usually after we’ve met the two romantic partners. The meet cute (despite its name) doesn’t even have to be cute. It has to be sizzling. It has to be flames. It has to have something that resonates inside each partner that makes us readers think – Oh, yeah. This is going to happen.

So, in the typical romance structure we have:

 

Meet Partner 1

Meet Partner 2

Partner 1 and Partner 2 Meet. Sizzles!

 

But in order for that sizzle to happen, we have to really understand Partner 1 and Partner 2 already. What is it that makes them tick? What do they want? How are they flawed? Make us remember them in those first scenes before the meet cute.

 

Are they awesome at something? Are they funny? Are they suffering? Have they done something super kind and selfless? Do they love something in a big way? Those key elements need to be there inside the character before the meet cute happens.

 

And what is it that they want? Make it something external and internal. An external goal might be easy or hard – it could be to get an ice cream cone. It could be to get a promotion or save the world from rabid hamsters. An internal goal could be something like – to be loved, to believe in myself. The character might not know her/his/their internal goal. But the author should. And also a flaw – that’s important. Nobody is perfect. And also add in something deep – what is it that your character never ever wants the world to know about them. That makes the character resonate.

 

Got it?

 

So before the meet cute, you want:

 

  1. To set up both characters if possible (Sometimes it isn’t when it’s first person).
  2. To include in that character set-up:
    1. External want
    2. Internal want
    3. Flaw
    4. Deep hidden secret
    5. Something that makes us like them and root for them.

 

So, easy, right? You’ve got this.

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“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 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Don’t Let Things (Like Fear, Other People,Your Own Self) Hold You Back

Writing isn’t always easy. It isn’t always this beautiful, muse-induced utopia. Sometimes it’s grueling; it can make your nerves shatter. But the thing is that it’s not always THE WRITING that’s doing that. It’s you that’s doing that.

Writing is hardest when you let other people’s doubts sink into your soul. Writing is hardest when you let other people’s criticism become part of your essence.

It shouldn’t be your essence.

And sometimes writing is just hard all on its own because it’s drawing on your own pain, on your empathy for other people’s pain, because it’s showing you all that’s wrong in the world and making you gush out words in the page because that is the only way – the only way – that you can figure out how to maybe fix those wrongs.

That’s what writing is.

It’s all things. Just like people are. Just like you are.

The journey of the story is meant to make you into something different. It’s meant to mark you, your heart, your readers’ hearts, even your body sometimes. That’s what story is about. It’s what life is about, too.

Hopefully, sometimes you get to have something beautiful. Hopefully, you can find the beauty inside that journey, even the ones full of pain. Hopefully, you get to leave a piece of yourself behind. That’s what it’s about. That’s story and life and you.

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews on QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROW

“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 on TIME STOPPERS
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Cooking With a Writer – Avocados Getting All Smoky in the Fajitas

So, still trying to be a vegetarian family out in the camping world… and still sort of failing.

But this week, I made something I TOTALLY loved even if avocados basically cost 8 million dollars in New England and they use up a lot of resources shipping them here.

Sigh.

Now, I can’t eat avocados. BUT YOU CAN!

Here’s the recipe.

Cooking With a Writer Avocados Get Smoky and Fajita Like

Sometimes you just have to avocado it. 

  • .25 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • .75 package (1 oz) fajita seasoning (I use more but I need a lot of seasoning. More can make it sort of salty)
  • 1.5 whole avocado (sliced use the rest to taunt your husband with)
  • 1.5 green pepper (sliced)
  • .5 whole onion (cut into rings; separate the rings)
  • 4 whole tortilla (the six-inchers)
  1. YOU MUST PLAN AHEAD HERE! I am so sorry.

    First, whisk water, oil and seasoning together in a bowl. Then pour it into a big enough bag.

    Add vegetables and make all that marinade stick to them. 

    Marvel at your work.

    Push all the air out of the bag and seal it. This is to keep the avocados from getting that gross color that avocados get. 

    Write a picture book draft about avocados not wanting to get oxidized. Realize this is a bad idea. Browning avocados is just like white people trying to get tan. Maybe those avocados do want to be oxidized, darn it. 

    Confuse yourself thinking about the societal implications of this picture book. 

    Decide to drink wine instead. 

  2. Turn the grill on medium. Oil the grate. 

    Drain all the liquid off the veggies. This seems like a waste of water. Think about writing a picture book about wasting water. 

    Think about the societal implications of wasting water! 

    Dude. This is not good. 

    Go ahead and separate the onions and peppers from the avocados. Sure they were all friends in the tight airless bag, but now… now… they don’t associate with each other anymore, do they? 

    Realize this totally could be a picture book, somehow, but there are so many plot threads. 

    Feel badly for separating the vegetables but then shout, “YOU ARE ALL GOING TO BURN SOON ANYWAY!” 

    There. All is good. 

  3. Burn the onions and peppers first. DON’T REALLY BURN THEM. I’m being silly.

    Using tongs, put then in one layer. Cook until tender. This might be five minutes. It might be 11 minutes. Turn them a couple of times while grilling. 

    Once you’re done, put them in a pan, cover them up and keep them cozy and warm. 

  4. Now, it’s time for the poor lonely avocados. Do the same thing. Turn them. This will take about 5 minutes. 

  5. Take some tortillas. Put all the veggies in there. They are together again! Celebrate by eating them. 

Dog Verdict: No.

Man Verdict: Are these avocados? ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME OR TURN ME HIPSTER?

Carrie Verdict: I am enjoying this fajita immensely.

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.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

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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.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseballis 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 my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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.

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.

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

Writing is a Place for Misfits and So is My Town aka Bar Harbor, Maine

One of my friends likes to say that everyone who stays in Bar Harbor is running away from something else.

I always argue and say, “No. They are here because it’s beautiful. They’re here because there’s something so lovely about the national park and it’s baby mountains and the carraige roads and the sea. It’s magical.”

“There are other bigger national parks with even more magic,” he’ll say. “Believe me. This is a town of runaways.”

He’s right, but maybe only partially.

Where I live is sort of a haven for beautiful misfits, for people who maybe didn’t make it somewhere else, who maybe weren’t embraced somewhere else. And the people here?  We usually love that about each other.  There was a postmaster who dressed like Elvis until he retired. There’s an artist who dresses up like a 5-4 Bat Man and dances around downtown with a boombox perched on his shoulder. He’s a good dancer.

But it isn’t really that they are misfits. It’s more that our town – on the whole – lets you embrace your own quirkiness.

And a lot of us are running away from families or hometowns where didn’t fit in. It’s like a refuge for those of us who weren’t loved enough or were maybe loved too much. We even have our own language.

If someone asks you, “How are you doing?” and you answer, “It’s August,” that means you are surviving, but only barely, but hey, at least you’re making money off the tourists.

We make our own family here with weekly five-dollar-stakes poker games, wood cutting parties. We dress up and dress down and collect our friends’ stories and support each other’s nonprofits and brew beer and have yard sales where we buy each other’s castoffs. We go to the grocery store more than we need to go, just to say hello to each other.

Evening Meeting! -5

Since we live in a tourist town, and in the summer the narrow streets are crammed with parked cars and people who can’t drive, you’d think that we would explode at each other, or at least the tourists. But that doesn’t really happen. We know that we’re neighbors. We know that in winter, we’re going to have to make due with those of us who stay instead of running off to Florida or Arizona or Mexico. We will see each other in the handful of restaurants that stay open in the winter. We will recognize our family despite the layers of fleece and flannel and wool, topped off with parkas.

And we know each other’s flaws. We know who is the narcissist. We know who drinks too much, who loves too little. We know who has anger issues and who lives in fear. We know who has social anxiety, why they’ve lost their job, why they’ve lost their husband, and how many husbands that’s been. But the thing is?

We love each other anyways because that’s what misfits do. That’s wha realt family is. Especially the kind of family that you make yourself.

Family is about authentic connections more than blood.

Family is about acceptance and caring and rooting for each other even in the biggest moments of suck.

The kids book writing community is a lot like my little town. It bands together and makes community within itself. The people in it usually support each other. Friends are made. Loves are had. We see each other’s flaws (Bad tweeting, poor plots, silly dialogue) and still care and support and lift each other.

I wish that the world could be more like these two communities I get to enjoy. I wish that everyone could have a Bar Harbor or a kid lit world. And sometimes I really think that we can. We just have to be brave enough to be authentic, to love others despite their flaws and quirks, and to work at it.

It’s worth working at.

It really is.

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.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

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?

You should totally buy my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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.

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.

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

The Secret to Writing Good Stories

Interesting people and interesting stories don’t happen without a little worry and some pain. It’s about living through emotion, through the tear-soaked nights where you’re sweating over your existence. It’s about fear of being alone, or unloved, or unliked – and risking it anyways, just embracing who you are and your lack of chill and going after your passion.

Writing and living are about joy and they are about pain. And the most interesting people are the explorers.

This is something I try to remind myself when I’m freaking out inside. I remind myself to face my fears, to be an explorer, to not run away from the interesting.

But I know that the secret to writing good stories is understanding yourself, and your relationship to other people. It’s about living despite fear and trying to understand people and their own inner worlds, the ones that suck them dry and make them proud, the things that make them sweat instead of sleeping, their dreams, the broken dreams and the ones that they still might fulfill.

And to do that? You’ve got to do two things:

  1. Listen.
  2. Be brave.

Last week, I went into a bar in Portland, Maine. It was this dive-bar type place where you could get two beers for $7, which in Portland is super cheap because normally one beer costs about $700… or something.

But that’s not the point of the story.

When I went into the bar, I sort of wanted to turn around and leave.

True admission time: I’m not a bar person. Like even in college, I only went to a bar twice. Both times were disasters. One involved me hitting on a narc officer, which was the first and only time I’ve ever hit on someone. THAT IS HOW BADLY IT WENT! The other bar visit involved me hiding under a table for… Well, for a really long time.

Secret: It is pretty beer-floor sticky and old gum disgusting under bar tables.

So, me wanting to leave a bar is not a new thing. But this Portland bar? This was the bar of short stories in the New Yorker, Hemingway, and Raymond Carver.  There were no hipsters. The place had a pool table, scarred from fights and bad hits. The only other decoration was a giant mirrored Miller Lite sign on the wall.  It had a really skinny, old man bartending who wobbled a bit while he poured and repositioned his man parts with his hand before he put a straw in the owner’s glass.

When I came in, three guys at the far end of the bar were talking to each other about women and um… making babies…? I’m not sure how to phrase that delicately. But it wasn’t about delicately making babies; that’s for sure.

They stopped talking when I came into sight because I am not full of testosterone. Anyways, it was a weird scene. But at the end of my one beer, the bartender was talking and offered a piece of his recent history.

On the back of his head was a huge scar, just congealed and thick and rough looking.

“I fell down Tuesday. I was getting a smoke and I stepped off the curb and wham… Stepped wrong. I had some booze in me, too, but my legs aren’t so good anymore and I wobble,” he said. He showed me his scar. “It bled all over the place. My daughter’s studying to be a lawyer and she’s so mad at me because I wouldn’t go to the hospital. The EMT guys when they came? They were like, ‘You have to stop smoking so we can work on you,’ and I was like pointing at the blood pouring down my face and I was, ‘Hey, man, I went through a lot to get this cigarette lit. Can I have two drags?’ And they said that I could.”

My Post-4

He smiled. He shrugged. He pointed at the massive scar on the back of his head again and laughed at himself.

Here’s a guy who listens to other people’s stories all day, stuck in the stifling, hot building, prowling behind a bar as the Portland tourists pretty much snub their noses, peeking in and gasping, heading for trendier places. Portland was just named best restaurant city in the U.S. by Bon Appetit or some magazine like that. There are a lot of trendier places.

But he told me his story that day. He told me about his medic son. His daughter. The way he can’t stand so well anymore. The way that sometimes he just longs to step outside the bar and have a cigarette so sometimes he does.

“But I wobble,” he said.

“We all wobble,” I offered and he looked at me. He really looked for a second, and then another.

“You get it,” he said. “You get it.”

I can only hope.

There is this beautiful weirdness that happens when you step out of your comfort zone in life and in writing.  There is nothing cooler than the delightful quirky connections that happen when you actually talk to people about themselves, the bartenders, the house cleaners, the guy who hoses out a restaurant’s grease pit, the woman who grooms dogs, the lady at the campground with what seems like 18 kids and a breast cancer plate on her truck. There is this great connection that happens in the noise and clutter of life when we just take a second to listen.

And that’s what I want when I write and when I live: I want to listen.

Writing News or Buy My Stuff, Please

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.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

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?

You should totally buy my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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.

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.

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

RANDOM DIATRIBE ON A SUNDAY – WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A WRITER? Or WHY DO I SUCK SO MUCH?

What does it mean to be a writer?

I don’t know.

This year, I accidentally saw a family deal with the murder of their daughter. And their pain was raw and poignant. I wrote about it. I’m used to writing about things I don’t understand, things that make the world seem wrong. When I wrote it,  I wanted to extol our community, to be kind to them during their pain. I wanted to get reporters to step back while they grieved.

It was the wrong thing to do.

And I cried for hours when I realized it.

I made a mistake.

I make mistakes all the time.

Creative nonfiction is hard because it is so incredibly real and every time you write a story (as a reporter or blogger or public image person or whatever) you create ripples that you can’t control, which is why I give a lot of leeway to the press and what they try to do.

I try hard to find the humanity in horror. When the Boston Marathon bombing happened. I wrote about it. When I found a dead body. I wrote about it. When I was hurt by other people, I wrote about it… eventually.

I write to find a way through pain and I think… I think a lot of writers do that.

But people don’t always want us to. I used to think I was a good person, particularly because I kind of love almost everyone I meet. Even if they suck. Even if they hurt me. I still love them.

My ex-husband said to me once, “I don’t understand why you are still kind to me.”

I said, “Why wouldn’t I be?”

But sometimes. Sometimes? In my quest for understanding through writing, I think I might fail to be kind because I don’t think of all the potential repercussions. I go after life like some sort of weird no-chill terror, especially when I don’t understand why people are being violent or cruel. When I wrote about one of the best guys I know, a drug-addict, a felon, a guy who risked his life by going into a house on fire to save other people? I knew that other people had different opinions of him and would deride me. It didn’t matter. When I wrote about volunteer firefighters in my town, I knew that some people would deride me and say that what I was writing was schmaltz. That didn’t matter either.

I still wrote.

I don’t know how not to celebrate other people’s bravery, success, heroism. That doesn’t make them perfect. It makes what they did in that moment – exceptional.

And I have a really hard time asking for things in return. Or accepting praise.

“You should be a public speaker like a motivational speaker,” people keep telling me.

And what do I say back?

I say, “Oh gosh. That’s so nice. But have you heard my s’s? I sound like a Muppet.”

That’s self-sabotage right there. DO NOT DO THIS! Do not be like me.

Recently, one of my books was released, and I watched as all these beautiful people that I didn’t know at all (except through social media) retweet and share this, but my actual real-life friends? Only three of them shared my news and that… it hurt.

I had to dig deep and figure out why it hurt and I realized it’s because I try really hard to share people’s triumphs and companies and need and nonprofits and fundraisers. And  none of those people shared mine. And I have a hard time asking them to share, to review, to subscribe, to like.

Why is it that I think that they deserve it, but I have such a hard time asking for the same things myself?

That’s the question.

But that doesn’t mean that good has to be reciprocated. It doesn’t mean that they have to care about me, too. I get that.

But in this weird social media world where I have to sell books to stay an author, it kind of makes me panic. How do I get people to buy and read and review my books?

I don’t know.

I’m an internationally and NYT-bestselling author. I know I’m a great writing coach and mentor. I know that as an author I’m getting better all the time.

It isn’t enough.

And all of us writers? We live on this weird edge, this precipice that we’re afraid to fall off. Will we sell enough books? Will anyone notice us? Will they only notice us enough to angry tweet at us?  How the hell do we even tweet? Will people even know we exist?

And our amazing readers eat our stories rare; they fill them with their own love (or not), their own care (or not). Writing a book is this weird two-way communication where us authors aren’t sure that anyone is hearing what we’re saying. But they do. In quiet rooms, in libraries, on subways, on kindles, in real-life books… they read us.

That’s scary AF.

I don’t know if it’s enough to survive financially. That’s scary AF, too.

Erotic novels, romance, pain, they sell like crazy. We writers thicken our plots with so many sauces like apocalypse, and dystopian, and love. We hurl around our websites and tweets and hope that they stick.

But do they?

I don’t know.

This world of writing is so intimidating. But I know – I am positive, that even if nobody reads my stories, I will keep writing.

 

Cooking With a Writer – Grilled Miso Vegetables of Awesome

So, we are currently hanging out in a camper and renting out our house because you make big money renting out your house for the summer when you live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

And this means….

That we’re cooking outside a lot and the man is winning in his quest to be Captain Carnivore and I am losing in my quest to make us a happy vegetarian household… or is it camper-hold?

And to make it worse, Captain Carnivore is not into vegetables, thus his name. He won’t touch cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini or anything actually good.

But I made this anyway because sometimes I want to make something I like. And I like this… I like it a lot.

Miso Grilled Vegetables of Awesome

This recipe owes everything to Cooking Light and Naomi Duguid. All poorly thought out deviations are my fault. 

  • 2.5 tbsp miso – white
  • 1.5 tbsp water (or enough to make it right)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (plus a bit more if needed for consistency)
  • 1 lb zuchinni (cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick)
  • .5 lb eggplant (cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick)
  • 2 whole peppers (red and orange and yellow are the coolest. Sorry. Green. Cut each into six pieces)
  • 1 whole red onion (cut into wedges)
  • 1 big spray cooking spray
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 whole lime (optional)
  1. Use the cooking spray to coat your grill rack. Not the outside of the grill. Then turn the grill on to high heat. 

    Think about how some writers write under the influence of illegal drugs. Wonder how they keep track of their plot. 

  2. Put miso and water together. Wonder if they like each other or are eyeing each other warily, wondering what will happen next. 

    Shout, “IT’S A PARTY,” and  slowly add oil. Stir them all up with a whisk and sing your favorite party song. Are there writer party songs? There should be. 

    Put the vegetables EXCEPT THE ONION in a pan, say, “Now it’s really a party, babies!”

    Add about 5 tablespoons of the miso party mixture. 

    Toss it up.

    Think about parties from your younger days.  

    Feel badly for the onion, out on its own with no miso mix, unable to be tossed around because it’s too fragile and will break apart.

    Feel like the onion.

    Brush onion with what’s left of the miso marinade, and whisper, “It’s okay… You can party, too. You’re okay. You’re loved and included.”

  3. Put everyone on the rack on the grill, even the onion.

    Zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper can only party for about 4 minutes on each side. 

    They don’t have the onion’s stamina. Be proud of the onion and grill it for 6 minutes on either side.

    Basically, grill the veggies until they are tender veggies.

    Put some mint on them and serve them with lime wedges. Because they are done. 

Shaun Verdict: You are trying to kill me.

Dog Verdict: Rub some dirt on it, we’ll call it good.

Carrie Verdict: THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

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. The official release date was August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

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.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. She is not sure where it is in Maine. She thinks… Augusta?

 

Wednesday Writing Tips How to Hook Readers And How Not To Bore Them

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

We like stories where we can quickly identify with the main character, or at least a character, pretty early on.

Think about all the BuzzFeed quizzes that ask, “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Buffy Character Are You?” “Who Are You In The Wire?” “What Disney Princess Are You?”

It goes on and on.

We humans like to identify with characters who are in the stories we read or the video we watch. It’s like a nice pat on the back that says we aren’t alone, and it creates community.

Don’t Do This:

  1. Start with dialogue on the first line. It’s hard to care about the person speaking if you haven’t met them yet.

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

2. Tell us stuff we don’t need to know.

So, in 1870 or something like that I had this great great aunt who allegedly stepped on a nail or something, not that it matters. Although, maybe it mattered to her, but yeah. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Neither does the reader.

3. Introduce 18 characters in the first paragraphs. It’s hard to remember who is who and who is important.

As Belinda walked inside the Timberland RV Campground in Trenton, Maine she waved hello to Lincoln, son-in-law of the owner, a retired man with a name like Jack or something, and then she waved to Debbie, Lincoln’s wife, who was riding on a golf cart with Charlene. Peggy was perched on the back with a blonde child whose name I think is Jackie…

Enough said, right?

4. And finally describe things just for the sake of describing them.

Timberland RV Campground descended into a slight hill, managing to split itself across two town lines. It was Trenton in the front and Ellsworth in the back and the back was where there were no trees surrounding the sites, just pull-in places for the giant RVs and motorhomes and campers and busses. I have no idea which is which. I’d never been in a campground before, but they had hook-ups at some of the sites for water and sewer, or just one, and electricity. There were metal fire rings and some people had fancied up their sites with flowers and decks and lobster buoys because… Maine.

 

You can find the other posts in this series by searching the hookingreaderstag.

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. The official release date was yesterday, August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

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?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. 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.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. That’s tonight!

She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

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