Writing Tips Wednesday: What’s Love Got to Do With It? Romance.

One of the biggest complaints editors and agents give writers is that they don’t believe the romance.

Gasp!

I know, right?

How can they not believe that our two heroes are fated for each other, the modern equivalent of Achilles and Patroklos?

What is wrong with them?

Well, usually, they don’t believe in the romance because of these five things. Are you ready? Here we go:

 

It’s insta-love.

Love and relationships aren’t usually quick-time things. It’s not like you can make a relationship in the time it takes to microwave your tea. You want to give the readers and your characters a bit of time to know each other. Think boil the water in the tea kettle versus heat up a mug of water in the microwave.

Love takes time, usually. You have to work for it.

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The love interest is too perfect.

Is there such a thing as too perfect in real-life romance? Only if that perfection is hiding a sociopath. Try to remember that the love interest needs to be three-dimensional, too. A perfect person doesn’t really exist. Flaws are interesting. Flaws are also believable. Make your love interest flawed.

Peter_Perfect

Actually, everyone is too perfect.

Here’s the thing: everyone in the world isn’t a constant Instagram post full of soft lighting, best chins forward and romantic settings. People have scars. People have flaws. Those people? They deserve love too and it’s powerful when they get it. Make your characters have issues, crusts, cracked edges. Make them real so that us real folk can believe that we’re worthy of love, too.

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The world is too easy and so is their love.

Romance needs to have plot. Plot needs to have conflict. The world your lovers are in needs to be… Well, it needs to not be too easy for our little lovebirds. How do you make it not easy?

  1. Make them want things that don’t work well together. One wants to be a Twitter Influencer. One wants to hermit. That sort of thing.
  2. They are far apart, separated by distance somehow.
  3. Jerks abound. Yeah, just like in real-life there can be human obstacles to their love.

All that tension makes their romance so much more worth it at the end.

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The Cliché

Avoid the characters that are just – well, stereotypes and tropes. How many strong women stories end up with them suddenly being helpless and having to be rescued by a man? How many strong men stories end up with them having to open up to love and stop their drifter ways.

Same goes for setting. Oh, look, it’s a remote but beautiful Vermont town on a snowy winter’s night. Oh, look, they are trapped there. Oh, look, it’s a sexy beach full of wealthy people doing wealthy people things.

Try to think outside the box. Hey! That’s one right there!

Make your characters and settings better than tropes. Make them real.

That’s truly the secret: make your characters as real as possible.

What-is-cliche-Oxford-definition

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

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

 

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

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

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

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

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Let in the Good and Make Your Writing Career Grow – Dogs Are Smarter Than People, the Writing Podcast

The author Gwen Hawes has a book that’s all about writing a romance, but I think a lot of her elements really apply to more genres than that.

One of those elements is what she calls, “whole-hearted.” It’s when the lovers are at the end of the book and you think, “Wow. Have they grown or what? Look at how big their hearts are now. Look at how different their lives are. Those are some whole-hearted people right there.”

And that’s what story (with a positive ending) is all about. It’s about making those characters whole-hearted, and allowing us readers to see their journey.

There’s a line in this song from Hamilton that always resonates with Carrie and it goes:

Look at where we are

Look at where we started

The fact that you’re alive is a miracle.

Just stay alive. That would be enough.

These lyrics get her because they are so true. Life is a process. We start at one point. We move on to another. And when we look back and take stock? That’s where those wow moments happen.

That needs to happen in books too.

And a really good way to bang that difference home is to set up a mirror image at this whole-hearted point of the book that reflects something that started happened at the beginning of the book.

What exactly are we talking about? It’s like this:

Beginning of a series: Wizard gets on a train and goes to magical school.

End of series: Wizard sends his son off on that same train to that same magical school.

Beginning of a book: A girl rides in her grandmother’s car on her way into the remote Maine woods and sees a man pointing at her.

End of a book: A girl drives her own car through those same woods and a man waves goodbye.

See what we mean?

But the thing is that this isn’t just true for our characters. It’s also true for us. A lot of times we believe lies about ourselves. We think that the opinion from a random critique or of a single publisher or reader means more than our process, our art, our our own understanding of self worth.

This is about letting a rejection or a criticism change our whole entire identity.

We stop believing in our creative purpose or our skill and in ourselves. Right? Instead of trying to improve our craft, we give up and internalize the criticism from “Hey, Arthur Levine didn’t like my story,” to “I am a failure. I suck. I should never write again.”

That’s not whole hearted. That’s not where your journey should be. Look at how much better you are now than when you were five, ten, 15, 20-years-old. Be proud of how much you’ve grown and accomplished and learned. Even if that’s just knowing that a lot is two words and not one. That’s growth, baby. Hold onto it.

Shaun is proud that he no longer spells quite – quiet.

 

Dog Hint For Life: Rejoice in where you are now. Luxuriate in it. Gabby and Sparty were both rescue dogs. Gabby was malnourished, constantly chained to a tree for the first year of her life. Sparty was roaming the streets of the South scavenging for food. Now they live on the coast of Maine and they get to frolic and feed. And be loved. They enjoy that every single day.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Write change. Write mirrors. Look at where your story started and have it journey somewhere else.

And when you do those things? That’s usually when your writing career starts to grow. By understanding the journey of your characters, you get to make your own journey even better! How cool is that?

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

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please like, share and subscribe!

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

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

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

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

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

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

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

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

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

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

The Final Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews on QUEST FOR THE GOLDEN ARROW

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal on TIME STOPPERS

How to Get Signed Copies of Any of Carrie’s Books: 

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!

Let in the Good and Make Your Writing Career Grow – Dogs Are Smarter Than People, the Writing Podcast

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

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

The Meet Cute

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

I just made that word up.

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

So, in the typical romance structure we have:

 

Meet Partner 1

Meet Partner 2

Partner 1 and Partner 2 Meet. Sizzles!

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Got it?

 

So before the meet cute, you want:

 

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

 

So, easy, right? You’ve got this.

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

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

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

The Final Time Stoppers Book

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

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

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

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

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