Memorial Day

My step-dad never talked about his service in World War II. He was a quiet man with an easy laugh. He was the kind of man who always could do anything. That’s how it seemed to me. He hardly ever cried, hardly ever got mad. He liked fishing and building. He liked coffee and cigarettes and steamers. He loved his family and his friends and his boat.

He wasn’t the kind of man who cried.

I saw him do it twice. The first time was when his brother, Freddie, died. The second time was on Memorial Day.

We were at a parade. The veterans were marching. He never marched with them. I don’t know why. A high school band was playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was holding my dad’s hand and all of a sudden he let go. My hand dangled empty. He turned away, took three steps back from the crowd of the road, and faced the buildings.

“Daddy?”

He pressed his fingers into his eyelids. He nodded once. “What sweetie?”

“Are you okay?”

He wiped his eyes just once with the back of his hand. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Are you sad?”

He half-shrugged. “A little bit.”

I’d only just really learned what the Memorial Day parade was about. From school I knew it was about soldiers who died in war. I knew my dad had been in a war, a big war. I made the connection.

“Did you have soldier friends who died?” I asked.

“A lot, baby. A lot.”

Our fingers found each other. We walked back to the crowd.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Me too.”

Memorial Day Is about more

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of the summer vacation season. It’s more than a day off of work and school. Memorial Day is about the friends, husbands, wives, lovers, children, brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home.

We all know that.

We need to know that for more than just today.

A Man From Otis

I met a great guy from Otis back in 2008. He had a cane. He had a dog. I am a sucker for dogs. We talked about how on the Otis Town Report there are pictures of soldiers from Otis who are currently serving. His son served. He’s an Air Force recruiter now and his dad, the man I talked to, the nice man with the sweet smile, the can, and the beautiful dog, he served in Vietnam.

“It’s better for the soldiers coming home now,” he said. “I think people are finally getting it.”

I’m glad for that. I’m really glad but should it have taken 30 years for people to get it?

Men and women have died in service to our country. Men and women continue to die in service to our country. Those deaths mean more than a parade, more than a work-free/school-free day. Those deaths mean a lot. Not all those soldiers were perfect or saints, but all of them gave their lives for something bigger. All of them sacrificed.

Throwing the Wreath

For years I’ve watched the veterans throw a wreath off of the bridge in downtown Ellsworth. When I was a reporter, I even took pictures of it. The wreath? It floats away, down the Union River. It makes me remember the parade with my step-dad and how suddenly my dad let go. There I was, fingers dangling, hand empty, wondering.

But that wreath floating down the river is not really gone. None of those soldiers are gone. My dad, who died of a heart attack when I was in sixth grade, isn’t gone either, nor are his friends. Every one of them has touched our lives somehow. Every sacrifice has to keep being remembered. There are so many heroes from Hancock County, Maine, and from all over this country.

There are more and more all the time.

It’s important to notice the bad that happens, the evil that people do, but it’s just as important to celebrate the good that people are capable, the sacrifices (small and large) that we are also capable of. The empathy. The love. The selflessness.

Military Mom

When you are a military mom, like I am, Memorial Day becomes even more poignant. It’s a day where Americans are meant to remember military members that we lost in war, the people who sacrificed their lives for the ideals and Constitution of this country.

At Emily’s basic training graduation at Fort Jackson two years ago, the speaker, talked about how that made a difference, how in the United States the military isn’t about serving the leader of the country, but about the Constitution of the country and the people of the country.

And for me, Memorial Day, is a reminder of those we’ve lost, those we might soon lose, but also about the ability of people to put others above their own selves, to come together as a country, and to serve the ideals of that country, so incredibly selflessly.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

Quick Writing Tip. Ignore my face!

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COOKING WITH A WRITER – Black Bean Soup of the Soul

It’s a cooking blog redone. Why? Because I’ve been working for over 12 hours and I’m not done.

Yes, folks. I’m dialing it in. My apologies!

 

So, I am a bit down lately, mostly because:

  1. I am a writer
  2. I live in the U.S.
  3. Politics

I gave up and am giving you all this – the Black Bean Soup that Reflects the State of My Inner Soul Right This Second Because I am DIRE.

Yeah.

 

Black Bean Soup Because The World Sucks

 

Sometimes the world sucks and you need a dark soup to match your feelings. Am I right? 

This is a new version of a black bean soup I wrote about before. You can never have enough black bean soup recipes. Can you?

 

  • 3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 whole onions (chopped)
  • 6 whole garlic cloves (chopped/pressed)
  • 3 ribs celery (chopped)
  • 1 whole carrot (chopped)
  • 5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes or hot sauce (to taste really)
  • 60 oz black beans (canned, drained)
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • .5 cup cilantro (optional, to taste)
  1. Heatolive oil in soup pot over medium heat. 

    Stare at it until it shimmers. 

    Remember when you used to shimmer.

    Sigh dramatically.

    Throw in the onions, celery and carrot.

    Sigh again because honestly? What is the point.

    Put in salt, blood pressure be damned.  

  2. Stir once in awhile. Eventually the vegetable will get soft.

    “Eventually” is 10 to 15 minutes. This is a much shorter ‘eventually’ than when waiting for your editor to return your email. But whatever. 

  3. Add in the smelly things –  garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes.

    Wonder if you’re a smelly thing? When did you last bathe? Was it before 2018? Join the club.

    Cook until things smell more than you do  – 30 seconds. 

  4. It’s time for the dark soul part of this soup. You are miserable, aren’t you? Yes, writer you are. 

    Add beans. Add broth.

    Put the heat on medium high and watch it simmer. Reduce it so it only simmers gently. If only YOU were simmering gently, but honestly? The state of the world makes you SIMMER INTO ROARING, doesn’t it? Yes. Yes. It does.

    Soup is not you though. So simmer GENTLY for 30 minutes, or else it will boil over and stick to the pot and believe me, you do not have the emotional reserves to deal with that mess. 

  5. Put about 4 cups into a blender (make sure not to overload your blender because it is hot and you will get burned and you probably don’t have the medical insurance to deal with that if you are an American writer). 

    Blend carefully.

    You can also use a hot-pink immersion blender if you are tired of the darkness of this soup, your soul, and this world. 

    JUST BE CAREFUL! 

  6. Put the blended stuff back in the soup pot. Mix. Add in  cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

    Sigh.

    Eat it.

    Sigh more. 

 

Man Verdict – It tastes sad.

Dog Verdict – Isn’t this not good for dogs? 

My Verdict – Yep. Uh-huh. 

 

 

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.

31702754 copy

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 came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Writing Tip Wednesday: Defying Jerks’ Expectations and Going After Your Dreams

A long time ago there was a woman on one of those singing competition shows and she was not what society would call good looking.

Because of her looks and age, people expected her to suck. This was also because she did some weird thing with her hips before she sang. Prior to her tryout, she said she’d always wanted to be a professional singer, to sing in front of a super big audience. People snickered.

They truly snickered.

I’m sure she could hear them.

But then she sang.

She did not suck.

People cried instead of snickering.

And I totally wanted to be her. I wanted to be the one singing and making people gasp and cry and stand on their knees all because of my voice and my talent. I wanted to be the one who defied their expectations.

Singing like that woman? That’s not a dream I’ll ever get. 

First off, I was never even in show choir. And I have never auditioned for a televised talent competition. I haven’t even done karaoke because I get super social anxiety about those things. Plus, stage fright.  

But I was in this cheesy song and dance company once.

IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING

But let me say: I was paid.

So, I think this counts as being a professional singer, right?  *clears throat* Of course, we played places like Chuck E’ Cheeses or the Masonic temple in Manchester, NH.  

I am happy to say no pizza was thrown on me during the Chuck E’ Cheese performance.

Sarah Silverman was also in the group. So was Bridget Walsh, the third national-touring ANNIE! I was totally out classed. I never had one of those big show-stopping solos. 

I also never got to perform with a dog like Bridget did in ANNIE. ;(

I don’t think I ever will perform with a dog or have a show-stopping solo.

I kind of gave up on that dream.

Other Dreams

When I was little, I dreamt that I’d find Bigfoot. I dreamt that I’d write books, change the world for better, would have art in museums.

One of my teachers told me that I’d never get any dreams because my voice was so hideous that people would never take me seriously.

My own sweet mom told me that people in our family are incapable of making art, let alone museum-worthy art.

Society told me (and keeps telling me) that you can’t make the world better.

So many dreams…

I never gave up on my dream of writing.

I am still working on that one. Someday, I want to write in a way that people sing. I want people to gasp and feel and laugh and be on that journey with me, because of my words. Even though I’ve been a New York Times bestseller, there are moments when I feel like that dream is impossible. I keep plugging along though, trying to ignore that teacher’s voice in my ear, telling me that my very essence, my voice, will make people never pay attention, take me seriously, make them snicker instead of applaud.

A lot of times I work with other writers who are so close to giving up on their dreams even though they are so talented, and have great stories and craft and it makes me so worried and it makes my heart hurt to think of them giving up.

Dreams matter. Hard work matters. Persistence matters. Your story matters.

Do you have dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you feeling unmotivated? If so think about the lady who people snickered at and how her talent made them cry. If so, you can even think about me.

I promise, I’ll be thinking about you.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

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

Quick Writing Tip

Writers are just Actors Playing all the Roles

I come from a theater background – sort of.

One of my distant relatives was a super famous comedian for his time. An uncle was an Oscar-winning art director. When I was little his wife stared at me running around the living room buck naked singing and twirling and showing off and said, “That girl is going into theater.”

This was before I turned shy. And because I turned SO SHY, it became a family story about how wrong that aunt was.

Aunts are not always right? Who knew?

Still, I spent a lot of my time singing and dancing and acting (badly) when I was growing up and then in college I spent a lot of my time directing and acting (badly) while I was getting my political science degree.

I’ve always talked about how using the basics of improv helps writers get over things like writer’s block, etc., and at Vermont College, I focused my graduation presentation on using those tools to help kids write. 

Authors and Acting and Improv

Lately though, I’ve been thinking more about how authors are really using all the roles of theater when they create novels. We have to be actors because we have to live inside the characters and make them three-dimensional representations of people. We have to be directors because we put the story together and tell the characters where to go, and determine the viewpoint that we’re seeing the character. We have to be set designers as we create setting. We’re stage crew bringing props in and out. We’re producers because we’re putting the whole production together. We’re writers because… Well, we’re writing. 

But right now, I just want to focus on how authors are really actors playing every single role in the story. That’s a lot of effort, honestly. 

Method Authors 

Method acting is when you immerse yourself in the role; you become someone other than yourself. Do writers do this? Sometimes, but not often. Usually we spend a lot of time researching things our characters like but not becoming the characters and/or pretending to be them. I wonder why.

Living In Another World

Actors live in the world of the moment, of the world that they are acting in. Novelists need to do this too. We have to immerse ourselves in the world that we’ve created, to envision the details, see the events, feel the feels. The best novels use concrete details to show character and place. To find concrete details, we have to see concrete details. We have to build worlds piece by piece and symbol by symbol until they are believable. 

Back Story 

When I was training in theater with Paul Kuritz and Pope,L, and Marty Andrecki, they all focused on the back story of the roles we played.

To understand the character in the moment, we had to understand the moments that came before, what brought our character to this place to react this specific way in the play.

And we didn’t need to know just the history of the character, but the history of the world and the cultural implications that influenced that character. Authors sometimes do this, too, but I think some of us could do it more. 

Study Real People 

To understand nuance and tics and behavior, actors often study real people and model a character on that person, or at least model a behavior of a character on that person. Writers often do that, too. 

Acting and writing require empathy. You have to move outside yourself and envision how someone else will react, feel, think, instigate. That’s important when trying to create a world of civility and positive change. 

Random Exercise That’s Supposed To Be Helpful

A lot of the time at school visits, I talk about the weirdest places I’ve gotten ideas and how some of those ideas are so bizarre that a sane human would just thrust them out of their mind. I talk about how you have to ‘say yes’ to your ideas no matter how weird they are, no matter how much we doubt them. 

I talk about how the idea for the NEED series came from seeing a strange smelling man on my way into a fair. He had a tail wrapped in fabric. He had silver eyes. Enough said, right? While other people might have thought he was a random guy doing cosplay, my brain jumped to “human-sized pixie about to cause an apocalypse.” Since, I didn’t reject that idea and wrote about it, I ended up getting a book series that was an international bestselling. 

So, what I do is have kids stand up with me and one of them has to say ‘no,’ to everything we throw out. So it goes like, 

“Hey, let’s write a story about human-sized pixies?”

“No.”

“And they have to save the world?”

“No.”

“Gerbils who fall in love?”

“No.”

“People who climb a mountain and find a rainbow unicorn?”

“No.”

And it goes on like this for a minute and when I stop them, I ask, “So what happened?”

Usually, everyone says, “Nothing. Nothing happened.”

I ask if we got a story. And the answer is always, “No. We laughed, but we did not get a story.”

Writers do this to ourselves all the time. Actually, people do this all the time. We reject ideas for being too weird, too overdone, too normal, too abnormal, too anything. The secret is to go with the idea, to say yes and see what happens. That’s how stories are made. 


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg
You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Spinach Miso Noodles of Desperation Recipe

Print Recipe
I Just Can't Any More Spinach Miso Noodles
This is adapted from a GH recipe.
Spinach Miso Noodles of Desperation
Cuisine american, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people who don't eat a lot
Ingredients
Cuisine american, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people who don't eat a lot
Ingredients
Spinach Miso Noodles of Desperation
Instructions
  1. Let's say you're earning some extra money on REEDSY, but the STRIPE account isn't working because the STRIPE people don't think you're real or something? That's the kind of recipe this is.
  2. And let's say you're supposed to get money on Monday, and then no, it's Wednesday, nope forget it - Friday now - because they have to keep 'verifying' your account. That's the kind of recipe this is.
  3. This is the recipe of desperation, writers.
  4. So get a big saucepan and put water in it. Water is almost free, right? You can still afford that.
  5. Put it on a burner. Put the burner on medium.
  6. Find a bowl. Whisk ½ cup boiling water in with the miso paste. Try not to cackle Try not to cry. Try not to think about how much miso paste costs.
  7. Put rice boodles in the pot. Follow their directions and get them tender, tender like your bank account, tender like your little writer heart.
  8. Stir.
  9. Add tofu, spinach, oil, miso stuff.
  10. Stir until that spinach looks wilted and sad like your bank account.
  11. Serve with eggs if you're playing like that.

It’s been a bit of a week, honestly.

Man Verdict: Wilted baby spinach is like greens. I may be Southern, but I don’t like greens.

My Verdict: I like all things green, especially Kermit.

Dogs’ Verdict: Please drop noodles on the floor.


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg
You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Fast Writing Tip Wednesday: Let’s Talk About Tags

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

Like here:

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

The dialogue tag is SHE SAID.

Here’s my First DIALOGUE Hint:

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

So, don’t do this:

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

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

“The fruit helps you think,” she said.

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

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

All tags

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

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

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

“The fruit helps you think.”

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

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

Less tags

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

Here is my Second DIALOGUE Hint

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

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

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

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

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

“We must all think for ourselves.”

Add in some action

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


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

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

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




Own Your Own Stupid, Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast for Writers and Humans

In this podcast episode you get to:

  1. Listen to Shaun lose his cool about trolls
  2. Listen to Carrie end a voice memo because Shaun swears when he loses his cool about trolls.
  3. Learn writing things. Sort of.

OWNING YOUR OWN STUPID

There’s a BuzzFeed article about 23 Dogs Who are Too Adorably Stupid for Their Own Good.

Which is amazing.

But it made us think about why dogs get to be stupid and called adorable, but when humans are stupid, we’re called stupid and it’s derisive, you know?

There’s this constant pressure to be perfect, intelligent. You misspell too as two and 180 Twitter people are on your case. We all put so much pressure on each other to be free of mistakes, perfect princesses and princes.

But dogs? They fall in the pool? They’re adorable.

Dogs? They sit on a kid’s face and it’s amazing and funny.

Dogs? They sometimes think stuffed animals are real and we’re all, “Aw…. adorable!”

We’re so kind to dogs for their mistakes, but it’s more than that. We love and celebrate their mistakes. Their mistakes become viral sensations of cuteness. But when it’s our own selves?

We get mad. We judge ourselves. We are not quick to forgive. We expect to be perfect and when we aren’t? It’s like the end of the world.

It doesn’t have to be like that. We can own our own stupid, love our goofs, our mess-ups, not judge ourselves and just live and grow and create.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

This is especially true for writers. We are all about having perfect stories and sentences in our first drafts, but that’s not going to happen. We have to take breaths and forgive ourselves for using the word “KNEW” 89 times in a 300-word picture book.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

We’re adorable. We’re sometimes stupid. Be like us.

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


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

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

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




IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

Red Curry Rice of 197,000-Word Picture Books

This week, we enter a place called revision, which is many authors’ vision of real-life hell. Since I was told to rot in hell earlier this week, it seems an appropriate place to venture.

Print Recipe
Red Curry Rice of Revision Hell
This recipe is adapted from the fantastic Cookie and Kate
Cuisine vegetarian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Cuisine vegetarian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook that jasmine rice. Worry that it isn't the right rice. Worry you aren't the right writer to cook it. Boil it in a pot of water for 30 minutes. Don't let it overflow like your 197,000-word picture book about anarchy.
  2. Drain. Put it back in the pot. Let it rest for 10 minutes or more. Fluff it up when it's time. All works need a good fluffer.
  3. Wonder how you can possibly chop 196,000 words out of your brilliant picture book so that it's the appropriate publishing-industry 'approved' length. Sob as you put a big skillet on medium heat.
  4. When it's hot, add the oil. Wonder if you can even judge this if you can't manage to cut a mere five words out of your picture book, the ABC's of ANARCHY.
  5. Throw in the onion, some salt. Stir a lot. Stir for 5 minutes. Cry. Why do no publishers understand that children under three are indeed ready for your picture book and can read things that long and sustain attention.
  6. Add garlic, ginger, cook 30 seconds. Continue stirring.
  7. All you do is stir.
  8. The man is making you stir, isn't he? He also created those picture book rules.
  9. To heck with the man. You'll self publish it. You don't need to cut or revise. You don't need the man.
  10. Put the peppers and carrots in. Cook for 5 minutes. Add curry past. Cook for two minutes
  11. Feel happy that you don't have to revise.
  12. Keep adding on words. I mean ingredients. Add kale, water, coconut milk, sugar. Keep stirring. Make it simmer and then lower that heat to keep it gentle but not too harsh. Just like the voice in your picture book. This should take between 5-10 minutes. You get to decide when it's ready. LOOK AT THAT POWER! Feel powerful. You are in charge of your destiny!
  13. Take it off the stove. Add soy sauce and juice. Add salt. If it's too mellow add more soy sauce. Serve it with that fluffy rice and rejoice!

Man Verdict

Love it.

Dog Verdict

Curry and dogs do not mix. May we please have bones?

Carrie Verdict

Curry paste makes me happy to be in hell.


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

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

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




Red Curry Rice of Revision Hell


Print Recipe


Red Curry Rice of Revision Hell

This recipe is adapted from the fantastic Cookie and Kate

Cuisine vegetarian

Servings
people


Ingredients

Cuisine vegetarian

Servings
people


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Cook that jasmine rice. Worry that it isn't the right rice. Worry you aren't the right writer to cook it. Boil it in a pot of water for 30 minutes. Don't let it overflow like your 197,000-word picture book about anarchy.

  2. Drain. Put it back in the pot. Let it rest for 10 minutes or more. Fluff it up when it's time. All works need a good fluffer.

  3. Wonder how you can possibly chop 196,000 words out of your brilliant picture book so that it's the appropriate publishing-industry 'approved' length. Sob as you put a big skillet on medium heat.

  4. When it's hot, add the oil.

    Wonder if you can even judge this if you can't manage to cut a mere five words out of your picture book, the ABC's of ANARCHY.

  5. Throw in the onion, some salt. Stir a lot. Stir for 5 minutes. Cry. Why do no publishers understand that children under three are indeed ready for your picture book and can read things that long and sustain attention.

  6. Add garlic, ginger, cook 30 seconds. Continue stirring.

  7. All you do is stir.

  8. The man is making you stir, isn't he? He also created those picture book rules.

  9. To heck with the man. You'll self publish it. You don't need to cut or revise. You don't need the man.

  10. Put the peppers and carrots in. Cook for 5 minutes. Add curry past. Cook for two minutes

  11. Feel happy that you don't have to revise.

  12. Keep adding on words. I mean ingredients. Add kale, water, coconut milk, sugar.

    Keep stirring.

    Make it simmer and then lower that heat to keep it gentle but not too harsh. Just like the voice in your picture book. This should take between 5-10 minutes. You get to decide when it's ready. LOOK AT THAT POWER! Feel powerful. You are in charge of your destiny!

  13. Take it off the stove. Add soy sauce and juice. Add salt. If it's too mellow add more soy sauce. Serve it with that fluffy rice and rejoice!

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

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

Gabby’s Story

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

          That was Gabby’s life.

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

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

I was looking for aN Old dog to love

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

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

            “That’s not old.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writers

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

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


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

ART

Image

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

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