Writing Tip Wednesday – Step Outlines and Structuring Your Story

The structure of a story is sort of a pain in the butt for a lot of writers.  In a story, the structure sort of goes like this:

 

  1. Something happens.
  2. Which causes something else to happen.
  3. Which makes something else happen.

And the evil part of being a writer is that you have to hack out all the things that aren’t part of those steps. You have to keep that something happens-makes something else happen-causes something else to happen movement in all the scenes in your story.

What are the scenes? They are the places where things happen.

Some writers use a magical tool called a Step Outline.

What’s a Step Outline?

It’s something I just made into a proper noun. A step outline (no longer a proper noun) is where you show the way your story develops by outlining the scenes.

So, for an example, the story I’m working on right now goes: 

  1. A girl and her friend sends in the girl’s DNA test to figure out who her father is.
  2. She freaks out about this and her friend comforts her by the ocean but she has a horrible feeling.
  3. At work that horrible feeling continues and she gets an ambulance call that a girl’s been hit by a car.
  4. She rushes to the scene and is the first one there. The area is crowded with tourists and the little girl dies. Something magical is emitted from our hero’s hands and the little girl comes back to life.
  5. The video of the rescue goes viral and two strangers come to her work, discussing her healing the girl and the lack of a man’s name on her birth certificate.

As I write that down, I realize it isn’t perfect. How does scene two truly bleed into scene three in the manuscript? Now, I know that I have to go back and make that connection a bit stronger. Step outlines are magic that way.  By breaking the scenes down, we see the connections but also the gaps, the places where we need to make it stronger.

You can also break down those steps and bigger scenes into smaller scenes. Every beat of action doesn’t deserve a step, but every little scene (a page or so) does.

Step outlines are a pretty basic tool, but they are pretty brilliant ways of understanding the cause and effect and pacing of our stories. Try it out and tell me what you think!

 

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

Art.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

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

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

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

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

Apply Now!

 

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Don’t Make Your Setting A Stereotype; Writing Tip Wednesday

A lot of people love where they live or where they visit, but that doesn’t mean that they can write well about that place or include that town/city/cruiseship in an authentic way in the setting of their story.

I’ll use where I live as an example.

Tons of people claim that their piece of the earth is the most beautiful, and those of us who live here on Mount Desert Island are no exception, tiny mountains lift up the center of the island creating granite vistas in deep pine woods. The coast is full of dramatic cliffs where the sides plunge into the cold, gray Atlantic Ocean.

It’s so beautiful that a million people travel all the way up the coast of Maine to visit it this summer. If you google image Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park you’ll see photo after photo of distance shots of the town or photo after photo of Sand Beach and these two mountains called the Bubbles.

The same distant landscape shots appear over and over again. But when you live here, that’s not the town, that’s not the setting. It isn’t something felt or viewed at a distance. It’s up close. It’s details. It isn’t a static image but a movie full of depth and emotion and change.

And I can tell right away when someone writes about here but they’ve either:

  1. Never visited
  2. Never talked to anyone local
  3. Spent a mere day

They’ll have the locals pronounce the town, “Bah-hah-bah.” They’ll stick in a ‘telling detail’ about the tiny town square or the carriage roads of Acadia. They’ll use a last name like “Higgins.” They will present a one-dimensional portrait of a small town that’s always beautiful.

But MDI  isn’t always beautiful, no place is, not to everyone. When we’re writing about place and including setting in a story, it’s good to remember that no matter how beautiful a place is – that’s not all there is to it. Or that your one moment there, doesn’t mean you get the whole of it, understand the big picture and nuance of the place.

Just like a character needs to have multiple dimensions, so does the setting of the story.

Mount Desert Island is a place where people write stories of fantasy and of survival, where people come to hike and bike the carriage roads and then decide to stay, choosing to live with the lobsters and deer and wild turkeys.  The main industry here is tourism and then there are two scientific laboratories, a small college, a wee hospital, and boat building places. People still lobster. People still fight fires and get arrested and work at one of the tiny grocery stores. It’s a place where churches have game night, breweries have trivia night, and there seems to be one nonprofit agency for every five year-round residents.

Every winter a lot of the town vanishes. Shops and restaurants close. Snowbirds fly south. Restaurant workers go to Florida to make money before returning again in May.

It becomes an entirely different place than it was just six months earlier when it was brimming with tourists, crowding the sidewalks, bickering over where to eat, hauling bags of t-shirts around. A century ago, Bar Harbor was the town of the Rockefellers and Pulitzers, the elite white people of the United States. A century before that, it had Wabanaki camps along the bay.

Place, like people, has dimension. Place has a past beyond our present. To be the best writers and people that we can be, it’s good to remember that, to breathe in the nuance and the dimension.

*all photos by me.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

Art.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

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

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

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

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

Apply Now!

 

Stream of Consciousness Writing, Baby, Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Shaun: Two weeks ago we were hanging out at a friend’s house and Carrie met a woman who was talking about writing, and how it helped her through some tough times and how she loved writing, but didn’t think she could ever be one.

“It’s all stream of consciousness,” she said as if it was a bad thing.

This of course broke Carrie’s heart.

Carrie: To be fair, my heart is easily broken. Like last week, when one of our friends said that Shaun is the best part of the podcast because he’s funny and I’m trying to be informative. Heart broken for me. Happy for the Shaun.

Anyway, since I’m informative, stream of consciousness is a term that William James created a little over a century ago and it means

“… it is nothing joined; it flows. A ‘river’ or a ‘stream’ is the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let’s call it the stream of thought, consciousness, or subjectivelife.”

That’s taken from Literary Devices Net,which was quoting Mr. James.

Toni Morrison, Jose Saramago, Beckett, Joyce all use stream-of-consciousness as a narrative construct in their stories.

Shaun:Honestly, our entire podcast is pretty much a stream-of-consciousness narrative.  Tomorrow on Carrie’s regular blog, she’ll have some writing tips about using stream of consciousness.

Dog Tip for Life:

Live in your moment, go with your river of thought.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

Don’t let anyone ever tell you that your literary constructs or devices or voice isn’t cool. You do 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.

WHERE IS THE PODCAST? WHERE WE HEAR ABOUT THE LADY WHO JUST TOLD CARRIE TO DUMP SHAUN AND HOW PSYCHED SHAUN IS TO GO FISHING?

It’s right here. 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Apply Now!

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – WRITING IMMORTALS

Immortals.

A lot of us writers who dabble or write full-out fantasy or science fiction deal with these little devils. But what does it mean to be immortal? And what does it take to write them?

Marguerite Duras Wrote:

It’s while it’s being lived that life is immortal, while it’s still alive. Immortality is not a matter of more or less time, it’s not really a question of immortality but of something else that remains unknown. It’s as untrue to say it’s without beginning or end as to say it begins and ends with the life of the spirit, since it partakes both of the spirit and of the pursuit of the void.

And BEN FRANKLIN WROTE:

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.

Us, writers, are pretty obsessed with immortality and mortality, not just as a conceit for our own lives, but also in our work. But immortality is a messy beast in writing.

Why?

Immortality lowers the stakes. In our culture, we tend to think of death as the worst possible outcome. It’s the big evil that we often use to justify our own evil deeds. We usually try to avoid it at all costs and it makes the stakes in our writing really high (and therefore the reader really interested) if we put one of our character’s life at risk.

It’s hard to get the reader worried about a character that is immortal.

There are some interesting thoughts on how to deal with immortal characters in fiction here and here and especially here where CLEVER GIRL HELPS breaks down types and degrees of immortality.

Once you’ve read those hints, let’s talk about the big question, which is:

WHY DO WE WRITE IMMORTALS?

So, if immortality is so difficult to write, why do we keep writing immortal characters?

In an interview with Salon’s Sophie Roell, author Stephen Cave says of our obsession with immortality,

It’s a human universal. Among all of the animals, we probably uniquely are aware that we’re going to die. We try to avoid the worst, to keep going one way or another, yet we must live in the knowledge that it is futile – that ultimately, the worst thing that can possibly happen will happen. That all our projects and all our dreams — everything we’re striving for — one day it will all be over. And this is terrifying. So we are very keen to hear any story that can allay this fear and say death isn’t what it seems, and we can just keep on going indefinitely.

Longing for immortality and grappling with our mortality is pretty close to a human universal. It’s something all writers (who are humans) can relate to and therefore are compelled to write about.

So, we do.

And we try to do it well, but it’s hard. When the highest stake of death (of the immortal) isn’t possible, what is the second highest stake you can put in place of that?

  1. Death of the immortal’s loved one?
  2. Eternal entrapment?
  3. Forced to eat uncooked lima beans?
  4. Success of another immortal that there is past history with?
  5. Living with your own moral failures like in Doctor Who?

It’s up to you and your character to decide. Decide well!  It’s a cool thing to think about for you, your life, and your story. What is the highest stake in your own life? If you say death, what’s the second highest? Sometimes it’s good to put our own brains through the same questions that we launch on our characters.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Ebook on Sale for October! 

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

 

Apply Now!

 

 

 

Three Hot Tips on Facing Your Fears When Things Get Scary

This past weekend was sort of scary.

TO HEAR THE ACTUAL PODCAST, CHECK OUT THIS LINK

Why was it scary? Carrie’s worst case scenario of presenting happened. She was scheduled to give a four-hour seminar on public image, but when she arrived the place wasn’t unlocked, there was no water, but worse- there was no A/V. It was not pretty.

And then…

We went to a party, a SNL-themed party, and because our friends are good at peer pressure and we were dressed as Spartan cheerleaders, we stunted and Carrie had to jump on Shaun’s back in a short skirt (with modesty shorts!) and she was so nervous that she actually got sweaty.

So, it turns out that Carrie was totally afraid to do a cheering stunt.

Carrie:This is because I am old and have broken knees.

spartans costume
spartans costume – photo by Raney Bench

And Shaun had to face his fear by actually performing the cheer.

Writing (like living) can be full of fear.

Over on The Write Practice, Jeff Elkinstells of “Three Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Writing.”

How does he deal with the fear?

His three tips for overcoming that fear of writing are:

  1. He names it.
  2. He leans into it.
  3. Meditates through it.

And he also has this awesome idea for desensitizing yourself from fear, which is our …..

WRITING TIP OF THE POD!

Take fifteen minutesto write something that scares you. Maybe it’s a scene you’ve been avoiding in your work in progress, maybe it’s a story you’ve been nervous to start, or maybe it’s a letter you’re scared to write. As you work, if fear raises its head, try one of the techniques above to work through it. – Jeff Elkins

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
SNL party, selfie by Thom Willey

DOG TIP FOR LIFE:

Dogs have all kinds of fears just like people do. When dogs have fears, we use treats to encourage them for brave behavior, we don’t force them out of their safe places, and we don’t shove their fear in their face and shout “GET OVER IT, BUDDY.”

Because that’s not cool.

We deserve to give ourselves the same respect. Reward yourself for being brave, don’t insist on pushing yourself into your fear too hard and too fast.

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
Don’t push yourself, man.

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.

TO HEAR THE ACTUAL PODCAST, CHECK OUT THIS LINK

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Ebook on Sale for October! 

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

 

Apply Now!

 

Facing Your Fear

This past weekend was sort of scary.

Carrie’s worst case scenario of presenting happened. She was scheduled to give a four-hour seminar on public image, but when she arrived the place wasn’t unlocked, there was no water, but worse- there was no A/V. It was not pretty.

And then…

We went to a party, a SNL-themed party, and because our friends are good at peer pressure and we were dressed as Spartan cheerleaders, we stunted and Carrie had to jump on Shaun’s back in a short skirt (with modesty shorts!) and she was so nervous that she actually got sweaty.

So, it turns out that Carrie was totally afraid to do a cheering stunt.

Carrie: This is because I am old and have broken knees.

spartans costume
spartans costume – photo by Raney Bench

And Shaun had to face his fear by actually performing the cheer.

Writing (like living) can be full of fear.

Over on The Write Practice, Jeff Elkins tells of “Three Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Writing.”

How does he deal with the fear?

His three tips for overcoming that fear of writing are:

  1. He names it.
  2. He leans into it.
  3. Meditates through it.

And he also has this awesome idea for desensitizing yourself from fear, which is our …..

WRITING TIP OF THE POD!

Take fifteen minutes to write something that scares you. Maybe it’s a scene you’ve been avoiding in your work in progress, maybe it’s a story you’ve been nervous to start, or maybe it’s a letter you’re scared to write. As you work, if fear raises its head, try one of the techniques above to work through it. – Jeff Elkins

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
SNL party, selfie by Thom Willey

Dog TIP FOR LIFE:

Dogs have all kinds of fears just like people do. When dogs have fears, we use treats to encourage them for brave behavior, we don’t force them out of their safe places, and we don’t shove their fear in their face and shout “GET OVER IT, BUDDY.”

Because that’s not cool.

We deserve to give ourselves the same respect. Reward yourself for being brave, don’t insist on pushing yourself into your fear too hard and too fast.

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
Don’t push yourself, man.

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

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Ebook on Sale for October! 

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

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

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

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

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

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

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

 

Apply Now!

 

 

 

Facing Your Fear

 
 
00:00 / 00:18:32
 
1X
 

Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

There’s this Buzzfeed article , or Listicle, that gives moments where people were kind to strangers. Gasp! I know, right? Kind to actual strangers?  And we talk about this in our podcast, but it’s also kind of a silly concept as if there are only “21 moments” where this happens, or as if it isn’t sometimes easier to be kind to strangers rather than to the people who torture you daily aka your family.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

So, what do these beautiful moments of kindness have to do with writing?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Remember that kindness, that telling moment of giving or empathy? T. hat makes the characters you write so much more likable. You root for characters who take care out of others.

Search the world and your life for those random moments. Use them in your writing.

Be the flamingo of change. Don’t be afraid to be innovative, to be quirky, to be kind. We all tend to resist personal change, remember that when you’re writing your characters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

I bet you know where we’re going here.

Be kind. Be the stranger who helps. Don’t guard your bones, man. Don’t growl away your opportunities to be kind.

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

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought will be up tomorrow. Check it out, like and subscribe!

Five Ways to Write Happy
Five Ways to Write Happy

 

Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

 
 
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What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

Here’s our biggest tip for beginning writers. Ask yourself this question:

What makes a story memorable?

It’s change. It’s how the hero of the story enters that story with something broken inside them. All the things that have happened before your story starts – the back story – has set up the hero needing to achieve something or needing to change something inside of themselves.

ET was a movie about an alien, but the reason it was so amazing was because it was a movie about a family in pain, a family that needed to believe in magic and love again. ET gave them that.

So, when you’re writing your book, think about the backstory of your character, what it is that put her/him/them in this place and what they need to do to change themselves or their world.

That’s what the heart of a story is.

That’s what makes it memorable. The internal change.

 

Dog Tip for Life

Don’t be afraid to evolve. New places, new experiences, new life paths, are all ways to become something and someone better.

 

Writing Tips of the Pod

  1. Have Fun – Don’t write unless you love it or can’t live without it
  2. Remember That Your Characters and Their Journeys Matter
  3. Cut out Extra Scenes
  4. Don’t Try to Write Like Anyone Else
  5. Edit Like A God – Cast out all that doesn’t belong
  6. Don’t Worry About Being Successful – Worry about the story.

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

I’m heading to Montreal this week and the Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

And I’ll be in Freeport, Maine September 28 as part of a Nerdy Evening of Kidlit writers!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

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!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

 
 
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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

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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 Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

So, when you read a book, and you remember a book, a lot of the time it isn’t the plot that you’re remembering. It’s the character that has held you enthralled.

Plots are super important, but it’s the character that things are happening to that really hold the plot together.

A lot of stories fail because their main character is… Well, he’s boring. She’s a bit blah. There’s nothing about them that stands out.

We remember the people who are larger the life. I know we’ve talked about it before, but it’s so important. Make your characters outrageous. Make them wild. We all love Captain America, but he’s not quite as memorable as The Hulk or Iron Man.

Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast
How to hook readers with kick-butt memorable characters

Elements that Can Make a Character Larger than Life

Strength and Inner Struggle –

The Hulk is memorable because he has this intense inner struggle against his own rage and helplessness, but he also morphs into this huge beast with great strength.

Wit –

Funny characters are hard to write, but they are so memorable. Iron Man, Deadpool, whoever it is Chris Pratt plays in Guardian of the Galaxies – those guys are funny. We remember them more than Hawkeye (in the movies) because they are so funny. Plus, they’ve had stand-alone movies. Poor Hawkeye.

Self-Sacrifice –

The savior is memorable. That ultimate self-sacrificing hero like Captain America ends up being memorable even though his inner struggle isn’t all that. Why? Because he’s a higher form of hero. He’s good. He’s so good.

Sigh.

Dog Tip For Life: Don’t be the stereotype. Be authentic.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Don’t be afraid to build the biggest, coolest character you can build.

Shout Out – The music clips in this podcast are available thanks to Podington Bear’s generosity. The track is “Azzmash Reflash.”

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 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.

Don’t Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

 
 
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