Writing Without Labels

I was just doing a visiting residency at a great school in Vermont and a seventh grader said to his teacher, “Okay, Boomer.”

Full disclosure: The teacher was thirty-six years old.

Second important detail: The teacher gasped and said, “How old do you think I am?”

The teacher gave me panicked eyes.

The next day the teacher told me that the principal had decided that “Okay, Boomer” was hate speech and that it would be treated as such with swift and severe penalties.

I’m not going to talk about that because it’s Monday morning and I have not woken up yet because … Thanksgiving.

But when I asked that kid later why he called his teacher a Boomer, he said, “He’s just all about his way. He’s old. He thinks he knows who we are.”

We all think we know who each other is. We don’t.

What is a Boomer?

Boomers is a broad category that focuses on one demographic, which is the date you were born. Boomers are part of the generation of births between 1946 to 1964.

I am not a Boomer.

When I visit schools (They ask me. I come. I don’t recruit these visits. Silly people.), I tend to tell kids that your demographics (age, poverty level, religion, gender, sex, race, religion) aren’t what defines you any more than it defines your characters in your stories.

You are who you are because of the things you say, your reactions, your actions, what you do. This is just like the characters in your stories.

Actions Define Us

If you say, “She’s a white woman in her 30s.” You might think of a white woman named Karen who loves Starbucks and Taylor Swift and tends to ask for the manager over the slightest perceived injustice (to her).

But that white woman in her 30s might actually be named Wren and coffee gives her seizures and she is more of a Ani DiFranco fan that a T-Swift person and she would never ask for the manager because she’s got complex social anxiety and conflict aversion.

It’s our actions that define who we are more than our labels. Other people use labels to define who we are. Those other people don’t get to define us. We define us.

Define yourself as someone amazing. You deserve it.

WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Bar harbor arts
Carrie Jones Art

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

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. 

Last week’s podcast.

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Public Humiliation and Us

To be a writer and a human you often have to be courageous. Writers put their books out there for other people to see. Humans put their selves out there (sometimes in places like Tinder) for people to see.

And that’s scary AF, honestly.

With us writer people we’re putting our inner thoughts on a page, we’re exposing our insides and that can be so hard and when we do that? It hurts when we get rejected or judged or told that our insides suck?

And sometimes when we want to protect ourselves from that hurt we develop writers block.

Spoiler alert: Writers block is bad for writers because we don’t write.

But the thing is that writers aren’t the only ones who get writers block, right? People get it, too. People get so afraid of doing the wrong thing, of being judged, of being publicly humiliated that we forget to live. We hunker down and have a shell of a life instead of trying something new.

Carrie: For me, the things that I get afraid about are my voice and being filmed. That’s because I was bullied for my voice when I was little and because I’m kind of a dork when I get filmed and I think I’m too ugly.

Cough.

Real moment right there.

We really want to do video, but Carrie’s pretty phobic about it because it feels like a place to be humiliated, for all that bullying as a child to bubble back to the surface and even though she’s an adult now? It feels so vulnerable and raw.

Humiliation is traumatic and often hushed up, whereas embarrassment, given enough time, can be sublimed into a humorous anecdote. More fundamentally, humiliation involves abasement of pride and dignity, and with it loss of status and standing. The Latin root of ‘humiliation’ is ‘humus’, which translates as ‘earth’ or ‘dirt’. We all make certain status claims, however modest they may be, for instance, ‘I am a competent teacher’, ‘I am a good mother’, or ‘I am a beloved spouse’. When we are merely embarrassed, our status claims are not undermined—or if they are, they are easily recovered. But when we are humiliated, our status claims cannot so easily be recovered because, in this case, our very authority to make status claims has been called into question.

Neel Bierton, MD for Psychology Today

I think the point is to think about the worst thing that can happen from being humiliated. Lose your job? Your reputation? That sucks, but if you’re still alive? That’s what matters because if you can continue on, you can rise back up, right?

So here’s what you do:

Deal with the humiliation. Manage it. Do the right thing, not just the defensive thing.

Do better.

Work harder.

And go out and be brave again. Or just be brave the first time.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Fear holds you back, but it can propel your characters forward. Humiliation of a character raises the stakes and also moves the plot, but it gives the readers something to relate to and someone to cheer for. Don’t humiliate people in real life, but go for it in your books.

Dog Tip for Life

Dogs move on.

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 AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction.

31702754 copy

My YA Fantasy – THE LAST GODS

I’m Carrie Jones, quirky Maine Author, and I want to bring more of my stories out into the world. Most of you who read my blog know that.

That’s what I want. That’s who I am. Making stories and the art to go with them is my favorite thing ever. Even though I’ve been a New York Times-bestselling and internationally bestselling author, the publishing world is slow. The self-publishing world is scary and what I crave is to get to work with my friends and readers in a more constant, interactive way. 

Creating stories and reading them via podcasts and sharing them, my writing wisdom, and my art is a dream. I love doing it. With your help, I can bring stories into the world more often AND pay my health insurance, which is a big deal to me because I have epilepsy. 

The Last Gods is only available on Patreon

The Last Gods

Ericha’s spent her entire high school career taking care of her sick mom, their horses, and making sure that she’s interesting and perfect enough to get out of their small Maine town and into Harvard. 

She risks it all to save an injured deer outside her high school – a major break in the school’s rules – and starts a chain of events that puts her and her friends on the radar of some old gods, ready to battle last time and make the world their own, for good.

Read it only on Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/carriejones 

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 HEREthat 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. 

What I’ll Use the Money For

Hosting for the podcast and the website. I need a decent hosting plan to support the podcast and blog so it doesn’t crash when it gets busy. This is horrifying when it happens.
MailChimp. The service I use to email posts out to the subscription list. This fee grows as the email list grows. 

Adobe suite.This costs a ridiculous amount of money every year, but it has great tools for creators and so… I pay for it.

Supplies. Art costs money. WHY? It is one of the great wrongs of the universe that a tube of oil paint costs so darn much. Weird fact about me (One of many): I’m a writer who needs to paint in order to write. 

Me. I really need health insurance. I am living in a terrified state that I’ll have a seizure someday and bash something or break something, plus I need to continue to eat food, I guess, and feed the dogs and the cat and the gecko. 

Better Podcast Equipment. We need one of those windscreens for the microphone and a pop filter because our b’s and p’s are popping. Also, we’d like to expand into video and for that we need a drone.

The Levels Available – SO MANY CHOICES!

HEAR MY BOOK BABY

$1 or more per month 

What is this magical tier? For it, you’ll hear me reading the podcast of my unpublished books, one chapter a week as well as patron-only posts. 

Yes, you have to listen to my goofy voice reading the book, but you get to be a part of it. You’ll get some downloads of adorable dogs being motivational and be a part of the community. And it’s a community where your voice is just as important as someone who donates more than $1 a month. 

So, we’ll send you a link and if you want to you can be part of the ‘inner confidant’ email list of awesome people who I email when I need help or suggestions. Or you can just let us know when I’m  being too naughty or talking about dogs too much.  

And you’ll get a special, magical, ad-free podcast every month where I talk about writing things and life things and be a dork. 

So, for $1 you get to support a NYT-bestselling dork and hear a cool story that the rest of the world doesn’t get to hear. JOIN $1 TIER

READ MY BOOK BABY

$3 or more per month 

Every month, I’ll email you a pdf of all the chapters that I’ve read on the podcast so far.  Yep, words written down into story chapters. How cool is that? 

Honestly, you are an angel and this might make me get all verklempt and cry. But here, you get to be a part of the patron-only feed. We hang there. 

(Plus all previous rewards)JOIN $3 TIER

HOLD ON! SO MANY BOOK BABIES

$5 or more per month 

RANDOM SURPRISE IN SNAILMAIL, 

EARLY PODCASTS, and an AWESOME BOOK RAFFLE 

What the what? 

We’re talking serious money here and you are basically sacrificing a cup of monthly store-bought coffee and that’s a big deal to me. Thank you so much. 

This means you’ll get a random surprise (probably art) in the regular mail (if you’re cool with giving me your mailing address) and be entered into the monthly FREE ALREADY PUBLISHED BOOK RAFFLE where you get a signed book. 

So, here you’ll also get every episode of the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE (my other podcast)  podcast a day early and with no poopy ads. 

Plus all previous rewards, obviously. 🙂 JOIN $5 TIER

REAL BOOK IN THE MAIL, BABY

$10 or more per month 

THANK YOU’S EVERWHERE AND RANDOM MAILED SUPRISES AND A BOOK (In real-printed form)

Wait. This is a really big deal. This makes a huge difference to me and my life and I want to tell you how big a deal it is. 

It is a big (insert strong adjective of your choice) deal. 

So, you obviously get all previous rewards, plus, you’re named in the back of my next traditionally-published bookafter IN THE WOODS (as a thank you for helping me survive); your name in the thank you section of all podcasts after you start supporting, random occasional surprises in the mail. 

And if you support me at this level for 12 months, I’ll send you a free, signed book (of mine) in the mail. JOIN $10 TIER

MONTHLY HANG-OUT, BABY and ORIGINAL ART

$25 or more per month

Are you an investment banker? Heiress? Wow. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Here, you’re invited to a monthly ZOOM hangout where you get to hang out with me (or us) and we’ll chat about whatever you all want and maybe give you a random tour about some aspect of our life. You know you want to see the basement where I make art. The lawn where the dogs poop? 

And you after two months, you can also opt-in to receive a piece of art (the physical kind) that I’ll mail to you.  Plus, all the previous rewards, obviously. JOIN $25 TIER

Virtual Coaching

$100 or more per month 

Cough. This is serious money here. Every episode you get a shout-out and written credit at my website. You have saved my family. We will drink apple cider in your honor! Okay, Shaun will drink Bud Lite. 

You get a half hour of monthly feedback on a private video chat every month (or written feedback if you are shy) if you send me 20 pages of your writing. I’m actually a kick-butt writing mentor. Who knew? You can check out the testimonials on my website. Plus, all the other rewards, obviously. 

And finally, at the end of every podcast, we’ll read your personal sponsorship or dedication message. 

Plus all the previous benefits! JOIN $100 TIER


Mushy Dialogue Sucks

There. I said it.

Mushy dialogue sucks. It’s nothing space in your story and sometimes it’s nothing space in your life. You know what I’m talking about, right? You meet some cool human at a coffee house and talk to them and it goes like this:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“How’s it shaking?”

“It’s shaking well, thank you.”

“Yeah. Weather is nice, right?”

“It’s quite sunny.”

“Cool.”

“Yes, it’s lovely.”

Random bad dialogue that I just made up

One of my writers in the Writing Barn class that I’m teaching for the next six months, directed me to a blog post about the Five Biggest Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them and one of those mistakes according to James Scott Bell is marshmallow dialogue.

Bell believes that dialogue is one of the best ways to make a story better or make it absolute trash. He advocates fast-paced dialogue full of tension. Blah dialogue he says is ‘puffy,’ and ‘overly sweet,’ and everyone sounds the same no matter who is speaking.

Bell kindly gives hints about how to make characters sound different from one another.

Those include:

  • Making documents written solely in one character’s voice.
  • Keep working on it until every character sounds different and you can distinguish them at a glance (I added that)
  • Make sure there is tension going on. What do people want? Why are they talking? Do they want the same thing?
  • Make your dialogue simpler. Get rid of extra words. You can cut and copy dialogue into another document and then hack away at it.

He uses the following example of compressed dialogue.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”

“Oh but I do, I do. And you can see it in my face, can’t you?”

The alternative:

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“Damn straight,” Mary said.

“You got no reason to be!”

Mary felt her hands curling into fists.

Bell’s example

I’m annoying and I send my apologies to Mr. Bell, but that example is wonderful at compressing dialogue, but those people? They still sound the same to me. In the first example, they both sound like middle class people who are having a hard time expressing their feelings. In the second example, they sound like people who are expressing their feelings in exactly the same way and are probably are still the same social/economic/education background.

Look at what happens if you keep one character’s original lines and one character’s new lines.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.
“Damn straight,” Mary said.
“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”
Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Or….

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You have absolutely no reason to be?”


Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Revision

I’d argue that’s even better. For more about how language and dialogue changes with the speakers, check out our Dogs are Smarter than People podcast from last year. And good luck with your dialogue!

Links that go with the podcast (the important words are here and here.




HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

Worst Case Scenarios are Bad For Your Heart and Good For Your Writing

Shaun used to call me, “WC,” because he is evil.

No. Really. He called me that because I’m always thinking up the worst case scenario for every situation and planning for that, which is not a particularly healthy way to live.

But. . . it’s a pretty good way to write. The ‘what if’ element of any situation in real life can be expanded into a story. Throw a ‘what if’ coupled with a ‘worst case scenario’ into your story idea and you have really high stakes.

For the full podcast episode, check out here. 

In the podcast, we talk about William Shatner in a hot tub, pauses, and all the stuff you’re reading right now – but better.

But let’s talk about inserting WORST CASE SCENARIOS INTO STORY.

Like when Carrie wrote the Need series, she thought, “What is the worst thing that can happen to this girl forced to move to Maine from Charleston? Oh. How about her biological father is a pixie king who is kidnapping people to feed off them because he can’t control his hunger and need. Ah. That’s not bad enough. How about we throw in an impending apocalypse and she has to turn pixie to stop it?”

Story ideas can come from anywhere. Your own life. The news. Random stories of friends. Country music videos. But the story ideas that are heart-stopping are the ones where there’s a worst case scenario involved. Take a situation in your life and think, “Whoah, what if those people were cannibals?” or “Whoah, what if that cat was a secret Russian agent?”

Those ‘what if’ stories are the stories that make high stakes and high action.

Don’t be afraid of the worst case scenarios.

Writing News Carrie's  super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August. This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it's all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town. CARRIE’S BOOKS For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically. Moe Berg 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. Writing Coach Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she's also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie's individual coaching, click here.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Expecting horrible things to happen isn’t healthy. Enough said. Eat bacon instead.

NO, SERIOUSLY, ASK YOURSELF THIS:

What do I need to change in order to get what I want? What do I have to change to make myself a better person? A more successful person? A person I want to be?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Making horrible things happen in your story is TOTALLY happy. Enough said. Extra tip: Bacon is not good for you nor is it good for pigs.

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

WRITING NEWS

Carrie’s  super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

Timestoppers3_005

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

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.

WRITING COACH

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Easy First Steps to Marketing Your Books from Marvel and Me

It’s hard for a lot of traditionally-published writers to think of writing as a business.  Like self-published writers, we think of writing as craft. We’re compelled to create it, to tell stories, and then we’re inspired to share those stories. But the thing is that we sometimes forget that we need to make money to do things like have food, shelter, coffee products, and to pay medical bills.

This can be a problem.

We avoid marketing because marketing seems? Anti-craft somehow? I’m not sure. But it isn’t. Marketing is really just about getting people to read the books we’ve created. We write stories as communication. Marketing is making sure there is just someone out there to communicate with, right?

Easy first steps to marketing your books Author Carrie Jones writing tips blog
big mountain!

I tell this story a lot because it really struck me. I was a speaker at a Rotary International training. There were a ton of wealthy, successful men in suits. I started to introduce myself and I cringed when I said, “I’m a NYT and internationally bestselling author. That always feels weird to say like I’m bragging.”

And this older gentlemen said, “There is no money in modesty, Carrie. Be proud of that.”

And I paused.

And my brain hiccuped.

Because that line is sort of antithetical to who I am. I don’t go out into the world trying to horde money like Smaug or raise massive amounts of money like certain politicians, but I am super psyched to sell books and be able to buy dinner and feed the dogs fake bacon.

But what really matters from that guy’s sentence is that I use my modesty and self-deprecation to my own detriment. Instead of allowing my story to be out there, I sort of hide from the moments of my success. Why is that? That’s the real question. Because it doesn’t just hold back me. It holds back my books and my ability to buy ice-cream cones for the dogs.

Here’s the thing: 

It’s okay to be glad to not be sleeping in a car. It’s okay to own your success. It’s even better when you use that success as a tool to help other people get there, too? Right? Modesty is lovely. I have big issues with braggarts. But it’s okay to know that you, yourself, have done some cool things. That doesn’t mean that you can’t do better or more or that other people can’t too.

Marketing is about one thing. It’s about caring.

cutie face Easy first steps to marketing your books Author Carrie Jones writing tips blog
cutie face

 

So, Here are the First Three Tips on How to Successfully Market Your Book.

Spoiler alert: They have nothing to do with marketing.

 

Make the Best Product

That’s right. Your book is a product. It’s what you’re selling and/or your publisher is selling so you want to make the best book that you can. This is easier said than done.

You have to be willing to put in the work and not be inpatient to get it out there.

 

Let Trust-Worthy, Skilled People Help You

For some people that means editors at a publishing house, agents, critique groups. For some people that means teachers at MFA programs or places like The Writing Barn. But the key is trust – you have to trust their advice and you have to trust yourself to know when that advice isn’t all that.

 

Know What Has Worked in the Past, but Also Move Forward

There’s this weird trend in publishing called the “Writer, You’ve Done That Before” rejection, that as a business person? I can’t get my head around. If you’ve written a similar book, but your readers want more of that? Why not give it to them?

Marvel has this down, man. They have movie after movie about the same superheroes, expanding their universes, connecting them, but following a really similar pattern. One of the keys to the company’s success is that they know what their audience reacts to in their stories:

  1. Humor – deadpan, often flippant
  2. Big Fight Scenes
  3. Some emotional resonance
  4. High stakes
  5. Relatable protagonists.

So, know what your audience reacts to in your stories. Don’t be a big trope, but know what they like.

Easy first steps to marketing your books Author Carrie Jones writing tips blog
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In an interview with Nina Pipkin of Entrepreneur Marvel’s director of content and character development, Sana Amanat says, “When you want to make content that is meaningful, I think you have to try to not look at the big statement, but try to go as small as possible. Try to go down to the nitty gritty of who that singular character is — what they want, what they’re afraid of and what their challenges are. What are the elements that really make them a human being? What are the elements that make them relatable? Or even, what are those elements that make the audience angry with them? You really need to make the audience connect with that character.”

The best marketing comes from writing the best stories and characters that you can.

The next steps for marketing your books?

Have a website. 

Pick a couple social media platforms and post on them.

Don’t just post READ MY BOOK/BUY MY BOOK. Post about whatever interests you other than your book.

  1. Do occasionally post READ MY BOOK/BUY MY BOOK. I totally forget to do this, honestly. I’m too busy posting about other people accidentally spitting into my mouth and my skirt falling down.
  2. Be visual.
  3. Do video if you can.

    Care about the people who communicate with you

    1. People don’t want to be ignored. If someone reaches out to you in an email, on social media, communicate back. Not only is it the nice thing to do, it helps you make friends. Readers are real people. Treat them like it.
    2. Seriously.
    3. Remember you aren’t God. You are a human with emotions and flaws and so are the people taking time out of their day to talk to you. Honor that. Honor them.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

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.

Revising a Book Is Sort of Like Hell, Basically, So Take Care of Yourself

Back in 2009, I had just finished the revision of CAPTIVATE (sequel to NEED), and after I happy danced, I pretty much passed out.

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The revision of that book was the hardest revision I ever had to do, basically because during that revision I had to work my brain really hard and I was still pretty new to writing novels.

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DURING THAT REVISION:

1. I cut about 40,000 words in two-revision passes.
2. I added about 20,000 more words.
3. I lost all word retrieval skills.
4. I  called everyone I saw BABY  because that was the only word I could retrieve.

5. I lost one friend who didn’t like that I called him BABY and failed to call him back 8,0000 times.
6. I gained three more friends who were into the whole BABY thing.
7. I wondered why I was a writer 74 times (a day).

My whole life went on hold I made lists like this:

Tomorrow I will have to:

1. Call my father who thinks I don’t love him anymore and doesn’t understand that I can’t talk to him in the middle of work when he always talks for at least an hour and it totally ruins my ability to think.

2. Email my mother who is much more understanding.

3. Do push-ups.

4. Pass out again.

5. Reply to blog comments.

Yes, that’s how bad it was. I put ‘pass out’ on my list of things to do.

Revision can be tough especially when there’s a whole lot of pressure on you. To be the best writer and person you can be, you have to take care of yourself, not just your book.

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So here are some tips on how to stay healthy while revising

Get Some Sleep

I know! I know! Writers are supposed to write until they are slumped over their desk and drooling on their keyboard, but this is not actually healthy!

Your brain becomes less efficient the more it needs sleep. So no all-nighters, writing friends.

Have Healthy Snacks, Not Sugary Ones.

Sugar makes you fluctuate between big highs and lows. Nobody wants that.

Stand Up A Lot

Sitting at the desk forever isn’t good for you. Stand up and work whenever you can or at least take breaks from the sitting.

Get Exercise

This is right there with not sitting at your desk all the time, but I made it two separate points. If you take the time to work out before you do your actual writing work, it helps keep you focused and awake.

Drink Water

Dehydrated writers are writers who faint. Fainting is romantic in books, but in real life it leads to concussions. Concussions lead to missed deadlines. Nobody wants that.

Do Good Wednesday

Be a kindness ambassador. I know! I know! It sounds corny, but I’m so super serious. Leave a note, a present, anonymously somewhere in your town or school for someone specific or anyone at all.

Need a specific idea on how to do this? There used to be a blog called Secret Agent L (I think) where the person in charge of the blog went around their town doing this sort of thing. It was cool.

The link is here.

carriejonesbooks.blog

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Writing Is Sometimes Not So Glam, Even When You Win an Award.

Welcome Back to the Glam World of Children’s Book Writing! Not! 

Many of you have heard about the time my skirt fell down to the ground in New  York City during a major book event.

Many of you have heard about the time a reader bit someone else in line trying to grab After Obsession, my  book I wrote with Steve Wedel.

Many of you have heard about the 5 million times I said the wrong thing.

But that’s not all of it.

My Post-6


So I won a few awards for Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend, my debut novel. Sometimes these awards ceremonies were hard to survive.

Yes, I did just write survive.

One of these times was when I won a Maine Literary Award.

The people at the awards ceremony were incredibly nice and kind. Grape-eating abounded. Brie-eating abounded. There was wine. But more importantly there was sparkling cider. The awards were held in a dark room on the seventh floor of a library. Yes, there are buildings with over three floors in Maine, thank you very much.

But I expected to be like this:
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Instead, I was like this:
(image from the Times)
Why?

Well, a woman who is very nice read pieces of the award winners and then presented them with the award. There were awards for poetry, published fiction, published non-fiction, published children’s book (THIS IS WHAT I WON!) and then there were awards for teen writers, which is super ultra-cool, because let me tell you that winning an award looks SOOOOOOOO good on college applications.
(Dakota Fanning right here knows that she is going to get into every college she wants.)

Anyway, I went up. I received my award. I smiled. I hugged. I went back to my seat while people applauded. I did not fall down. My skirt did not fall down. I did not say any swear words or call anyone by the wrong name.

I thought I had made it through.

I thought I was safe.

I thought wrong.

Then an ultra-cute teen went up and received her award. She went back to her seat, then the host called the teen’s name into the darkness and asked what high school the ultra-cute, ultra-good-writer teen went to.

“Scarborough,” the teen replied. Her voice flitted through the darkness.

Then the host said INTO THE MICROPHONE (!), “Carrie. What high school do you go to?”

Me:

Everyone in the audience turned their heads to stare at me.

Me:

Super cool administrator of the program started saying, “No! Carrie — Carrie — wrote –“

Me (finally capable of speech): No! I’m —  I’m old.

People began laughing.

People began laughing somewhat hysterically, snorting wine out their noses.

People could not stop laughing.

Emily, my super lovable kid, pet my back, and said, “It’s okay, Mommy. They won’t remember.”

Sigh.

I remember.

And this is why I remind myself that I’m not a writer for the potential glory. I’m a writer because I love story, I love writing, and I write for kids because kids and teens are awesome.

Kate DiCamillo said, “Stories are light. And light is precious in a world so dark.”

That light makes the embarrassment worth it.

My Post-5 copy

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, had a new episode Tuesday. It’s about dialogue. It’s pretty funny. Actually, it’s super funny. Check it out.

My Post-2 copy

I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image
 

 

Bonus Podcast – Embrace Your Weird

Carrie is sadly solo in this podcast where she discusses how one of the weirdest book ideas ever came from Maine’s Common Ground Fair and a man who had a tail.

He also smelled like dead mice, but who is judging?

The book series made the New York Times bestseller’s list and was a best seller abroad, so weird ideas? Those are good ideas.

Bonus Podcast – Embrace Your Weird

 
 

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Rescuing People and the Writing Barn Scholarship

My dog Scotty had the unique ability called UNLOCKING THE DOOR WITH HIS MOUTH AND THEN TURNING THE KNOB OF THE DOOR AND THEN PUSHING IT OPEN SO HE CAN FROLIC OUTSIDE.

In the dog world this made him a superhero.

But, it could be occasionally unnerving to his human (Hint: His human is me) in that I got all stressed out and frazzled about book edits and would suddenly hear him barking…. FROM OUTSIDE! Which is what happened one December.

Dogs here in Maine aren’t supposed to randomly roam around outside, plus it was hunting season, plus Scotty thought one neighbor of ours was the antichrist and he thought the only way to stop this apocalypse involved him running in front of her Toyota truck and barking at her.

So, I would worry about him.

He thought my worrying about him was silly.  He thought his job was to worry about me. He was wrong.

Anyway, this one December day, a couple of years ago, I heard him do the end-the-apocalypse bark, and I threw on some ballet flats and jumped in the MINI, zipped up my driveway hill and there was Scotty barking and protecting the driveway from a car that was not the Toyota. It was a car that had fallen into a ditch and there was a man trying to shovel the car out.

I jumped out of my MINI, put Scotty in the car and said, “Can I help?”

The man was Joe, an older guy who has some major health issues and lived down the street. He was like, “Oh yeah.”

A white-haired lady inside the car looked at me and said, “Please.”

It was a front-wheel drive car. It had no super cool, studded tires like the MINI. And the driver had tried to get up the snow-covered monster hill that is my road and the car then slid all the way down. Her car was tilted at this funky angle.

It was pretty bad.

Joe and I got behind it and pushed. We pushed some more. My ballet flat went in the snow. I fell down. Joe fell down. The car didn’t move. We tried again. We tried again. And again. I lost feeling in my butt because it was so cold. And yeah,  I didn’t put a jacket on or anything and my hair was wet from  the shower.

This whole time that Joe and I were fighting against the wicked machine that was Mrs. Austen’s unbudging car, I was thinking about helping people and books and writing and even politics because let’s face it… you get bored pushing cars that don’t move. It’s sort of like a story that refuses to be revised well.

What I thought…

So a lot of the time when people start to criticize books they get really… um… agitated… if they think the female character gets rescued too much.  And people are sort of SUPER sensitized to it so much that they flip out if anyone helps out the female character ever.

And I get that.
I get that female readers need to know that they can rescue themselves, that they don’t need a boy to do it, and that if girls think that then it makes them dependent. I mean, I think about that all the time when I wrote the NEED books. And Zara (my main character) thought about that all the time. I thought about it when I wrote FLYING and TIME STOPPERS and pretty much everything.

But it also makes me worried. Because the truth is that we all need rescuing constantly. We all need help. Boys need help. Girls need help. Authors who are neurotic about their next book coming out need help. And I want a balance in books and in movies. I want different genders and ages to help each other, to respect help, to be able to receive help. It’s about balance and intention.

And the thing is that in real life? You just do it. You just help (hopefully, unless you’re in a reality show or something and think it’s all about you). I wasn’t about to ignore that older woman in her car because she was:
1. Older
2. Female

I didn’t think, “Hm…. Perhaps, I shouldn’t help her because she should get that car out of the ditch all by herself even though she does have a cane and a fake hip that hasn’t fully healed yet. If I help her I am actually oppressing her.”

And Joe who almost died last year from a heart issue didn’t think that either, I bet.

So, I guess that’s my point. Go help somebody today! And thank somebody who has helped you.

Here are my thank you’s:

Thank you to everyone who has rescued me from writer insecurity this year, who have saved me from sad when Scotty died, when Emily went away. Thank you to the people who have made me laugh. Thank you to the people who reminded me that there are people of hope, people who dream, people who are good. You have totally been my rescuers in a year that should be struck from the canon of years and I owe you! YAY YOU!!! xoxxo

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Writing Barn Class

There is an awesome scholarship being offered at the Writing Barn for Write! Submit! Support! an awesome online class that I’m teaching in 2018. The class is for novelists of all genres, but the scholarship is for middle grade authors. Also, the deadline to sign up is super soon. SO SIGN UP! Give yourself a present for the new year!

DETAILS ABOUT THE AWESOME SCHOLARSHIP

Katherine Applegate, Newbery winning and NYT bestselling author, and good friend of The Writing Barn has created the Mary Carolyn Davies/Wishtree MG Write. Submit. Support. Scholarship to be awarded to:

 

  • either (1) MG writer for the full amount of a Write. Submit. Support. registration ($1800)

OR

  • to be shared by (2) MG writers for half the amount of a Write. Submit. Support. registration ($900)

 

This scholarship honors poet, novelist and playwright Mary Carolyn Davies.