Literary Terms? Who Wants them? Who Needs them?

As you may remember last week we began Carrie’s Anti-Craft Book of Literary Terms, which is also called:


Today we start with the Letter L.

(Note: the rest of the summer my posts will be much more intelligently done, I promise. Sort of? I sort of promise.) 


This must be pronounced LIT-er- AHHHHHH-ture with either a wealthy Bostonian or Philadelphian accent (Although if you can become fake British for a moment, please do it. Everything sounds better when you sound like the Queen) or else it doesn’t count as literature and you obviously aren’t writing it. 

There’s been some debate over literature writing vs. genre writing and which is better or if there’s even a difference. 

There are differences.

People who claim to write Literature always say the word with that special accent and they remember to make the word capitalized. It’s that important. And gosh, darn it, so are they.

People who write in specific genres tend to be able to afford to eat dinner, lunch, and breakfast, and occasionally even have snacks. 

(Note: This entry is not written so as to offend the literature writers. It’s just that if there is a penultimate smack-down between the two, I have to side with the genre writers because:

  1. I get hungry when I don’t eat and they can feed me. Angry Irish poets usually only have Guinness available and maybe tea.
  2. Steve Wedel writes genre officially and well, I don’t want to go up against a guy who writes good werewolf horror, you know? Plus, he makes me laugh and he co-wrote the book down there. Do not make your cowriters cranky!

I, of course, would like to wave the flag of happiness and peace and beg both sides to love each other, and say: C’mon, dudes. The two things are not mutually exclusive. Do not tell me that OCTAVIAN NOTHING is not both Literature and genre. It is! All Young Adult novels count as genre. 



This is something many writers never actually see.  Although, sometimes if you read your poems loudly enough on a street corner and put a hat out, people will throw their hot dog wrappers into that hat, which is almost like money.

Note: Licking the ketchup off used hotdog wrappers and occasionally catching a tiny piece of onion is enough to nourish a starving writer for 10 hours.

Melodrama (this entry is provided by the brilliant fabulousfrock)

Melodrama is something many writers add to spice up their conflicts.   

Beware!  Melodrama is like pepper.  If you must pick up the melodrama grinder, you only want to twist it once or twice!

Melodramatic characters tend to have tragic pasts.  They are often orphans because their parents died, and they did not die of heart disease or cancer, they died in a house fire, car wreck, or, best of all, were murdered in front of the protagonist’s eyes so the protagonist can weep over their dead bodies and slip the wedding ring from their mother’s finger and carry it as a keepsake.  (Not that I  ever wrote a scene like this.  Ahem.)

Watch out if your character description looks anything like this:

“Azadriel is a fallen angel vampire who was cursed to be an assassin by the Dark God Lazmortius.  His parents died when he was six when they were murdered by a demon ghost.  Also, he is missing an eye and wears  an cool-looking eyepatch and he has some awesome scars.  Now he wanders the earth assassinating people…but secretly yearning for the love that will end his curse!”



Become familiar with this word! You will hear it often from your agent/editor/copy editor/publicist/writing group/critique partners/readers.

Examples of the word ‘no’ used in a sentence are as follows:

No, writing about condoms is not a good idea for a picture book.

No, writing about rainbows who fall in love is not a good idea for a young adult horror novel.

No, you did not earn out your advance.

No, you may not sleep over again tonight.

No, I am serious, there is no narrative arch in your book. 


Objective Case

According to THE TONGUE UNTIED, “Using the objective case indicates that the pronoun is acting as an object. The object pronouns are: me, you, him, her, them, us, whom and it.”

  • A pronoun is direct object
    • My agent likes me wayyyyyyyyy too much. Wink.
      • Me is the object. Of course, I am. 
    • If you aren’t too busy clipping your toe nails, would you mind telling her to stop stalking me.
      • HER is the direct object.
  • As an indirect object
    • My agent handed me the review from Kirkus.
      • ME is the indirect object.
    • When I opened it up, my agent gave me a hug because I was about to collapse from fear.
      • ME is the indirect object.
    • I wondered whom I could complain to since the reviewers are anonymous.
      •  WHOM is the indirect object.
  • As an object of a preposition
    • For her, no other choice seems reasonable. She must send out a blog post complaining about Kirkus
      • HER is the object 
  • As an object of a verbal 
    • Reprimanding Kirkus and her does little good.
      • HER equals object 
    • I want to murder them.
      • Them is the object.
    • Murdering them over a review, the author tried to get more publicity for her book.
      • THEM is the object.

Opening Sentence

Almost all craft books will tell you that the opening sentence MUST catch the reader’s attention. It must be beyond brilliant. The opening sentence must have hands as strong as the Incredible Hulk so that it can grab the reader by the throat and the reader can not get free, not ever, not even if she/he wanted to, because that opening sentence’s grip is so strong. 

Opening sentence! Opening sentence! Loosen up. The reader needs to breathe. Vessels are popping the reader’s eyes, you’re holding on so tightly.


Okay. Reader? Reader? Can you breathe?


Example of a good opening sentence:


(I know you think this is cheating, but come on. It’s hard to lose a reader’s attention with just one word.)

Example of a bad opening sentence: 

While ornithology may be the study of birds and some people may enjoy studying things with feathers those same people have been know to extol the charms of beaks that are of the yellowish-tint as opposed to the orange-tint of others, which has come to be a major issue in the field causing ornithologists to occasionally have full-throttle pillow fights, the likes of which only rival the throw-downs between writers of the literary vs genre factions.


Page Count

What some authors get obsessed about. Others get obsessed about word counts.

Author 1: I only wrote 10 pages today. I am such a slacker.

Author 2: Dude. I only wrote 24,000 words.

Author 1: Oh my God. Why am I so slow?

Author 2: Dude. You think you’re slow. I should’ve at least written 28,000 words today, but I started looking at Facebook.

Author 1: (bangs head on computer keyboard) I can’t believe I suck so bad.

Author 2: Dude ….

Author 1: (screaming)

Author 2: (points at blank screen) Dude, I think you erased your file when you hit your head on the computer.

Author 1: (passes out)


I refuse to talk about this because if I do the comma splices will hear. They hear everything. And then they will come, to get me, I can feel it, oh no, they, are already here.

Periodic Tables

The sexiest of all the table. Seriously. Look at them.



My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!


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! 

You can 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


You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale


You can 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. 


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. 

Top Signs of Author Sell-Out also known as Desperation

It happens to so many writers we know and love. Holidays. Birthdays. The amount of money in their checking account has decreased exponentially and they suddenly realize that they need to make more money, quickly, somehow.

The situation becomes desperate.

Here are the signs. Know them so you can support your own sweet author family and friends.

  1. You’ve started having all your characters drink Coke while posting on Instagram in every scene in hopes of a sponsorship.

“Mmm, this Coke is yummy,” Chloe said, quenching her thirst and then staring at Brad as the realization sunk in. She quickly took a selfie to capture the moment. “What do you mean, my dad is a koala?”

“He’s a koala, I swear. I saw him drinking a Coke with Principal Johnson,” Brad said, sipping his own Coke. “They were using bananas for straws.”

“Liar!” Chloe threw her Coke at Brad. Precious Coke spilled over the floor. Cola, the dog, quickly lapped it up. Chloe snapped another shot and posted. 

The Book That Sucks

2. You’ve started signing all your picture book query letters to agents, “OBAMA” or “BRENE BROWN” or “MADONNA” or even “THE BEIBS” in the hopes that someone will read it.

Note: This is likely to be more successful if you also dress up like Madonna and send a photo of yourself in that pointy bra thing she used to wear in the 1980s. This works for both men and women.

Hint: Try not to send Audio Files of yourself singing “Material Girl.” Only your mom finds that cute. Really. This is also true for both men and women.

3. You agree to put full page ads for diet pills in your tween novel about girls in cliques who like hair products and spas. Just for the heck of it, you put in hair product advertising spreads on pages 229 and 123-124.

4. You post a mantra on your computer: IT’S NOT SELLING OUT. IT’S JUST  ENSURING FISCAL SUCCESS.

5. You sit at the coffee shope, sobbing, holding a placard that says, “WILL NAME CHARACTERS AFTER YOU FOR MONEY” and another one that reads, “WILL KILL OFF YOUR EX-BOYFRIENDS IN MY BOOK IN A HORRIBLE WAY (Death by dinosaur? Hamster suffocation? Bombing by fireside? Your choice..) FOR A LATTE.”

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.

You can also support the podcast monetarily (cough) via this link . Your support helps us justify doing this and also buys dog treats.

Blog Break – Sort Of

It’s a big holiday week here and so Carrie is going to be taking a bit of a blog break for the next two weeks. There will be a new podcast next Tuesday, but other than that? It’s a little time for Carrie’s brain to recharge and rest. So, she’ll be posting random blogs from her past. Thank you for understanding!



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


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


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.


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

31702754 copy


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

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


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


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

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

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

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


How To Write Sucky YA Novels

So, you want to write a young adult novel and you want it to be bad? I hear you. You’re tired of trying to write good novels for kids. Writing something awful? Well, it’s freeing and everyone cares too much about kids anyway, right?

My Post-19

Here are my tips for writing the worst YA novel you can.

Write like an 88-year old man from a wealthy neighborhood in Connecticut. 

You once had a teenager perspective inside you back a few decades ago. That’s over now. You’re a full-fledged curmudgeon. Write like it.

Make sure that the whole book is written like you’re observing things from an ancient, judgmental difference.

Like a total fool, Brandon failed to put money in his IRA or notice that his skin’s taut nature. I laughed at him. 


Make sure there is no emotional truth in anything.

You don’t want the readers to identify with any of your characters. What better way to do that than to make sure that they can’t. How do you do that? Make everything bland. Make everything completely lack intensity. Imagine Spock from Star Trek when he’s not in love with Kirk. Channel that.

I fell in love. No metaphors. It happened. Maybe it was gas. I had burritos for breakfast that morning, which always impacts my digestion.

Avoid any real teenagers. Wait. You can yell at them to get off your lawn, but that’s it.

You want a sucky book, right? Make sure you have no current pop references, write in a bubble and have no clue what teenagers care about or even look like. They’re all blue, right?

I wanted to be one of those people who are just there but not. I liked the smell of Metamucil. When Grampa visited I thought, “Cool.” Same thing as I thought when the love of my life showed up. Intensity is overrated. 

Use a lot of slang!

Nothing makes an awful book like using slang from the 1940s in a present-day time period. Put in as many as possible.

Good ones include:

Armored heifer – Canned milk

Bust your chops – Yell at someone for being a dork

What’s buzzin’ cousin? – How are you doing?

He had high-tailed it out of there, and I did not have moxie to flap my gums to him about how she was a bearcat or not to take any wooden nickels from the other one, who was such a cancelled stamp.

Have No Plot

Seriously. Just have everything be stagnant. Have there be no immediacy. Have it be like a town planning board meeting discussing the land use ordinance’s shoreline setback for 5.7 hours.

We sat there. The others talked. Time passed. We sat some more. I stared at the ceiling fan. It seemed bored, too. We sat some more. 

Have No Hope

Life is dark. Life has no hope. Why not teach the kids that right now, right? They will one day have to sit in a town planning board meeting so they might as well get used to life with no light at the end of the tunnel where someone busts their chops all day and they have to drink armored heifers.

Make them hate their existence as much as possible.

Everything sucked, but not in an intense way. Just a mellow suck – sort of a droning on of suckitude for years. Then I died after 80 years of almost-but-not-quite existential worries and moments. The end.


Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Do Good Wednesday!

A lot of abuse happens at home. Know the signs of abuse and help your friends or yourself. Nobody deserves pain.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

National Sexual Assault Hotline


The National Domestic Violence Hotline asks these questions to help you understand if something is abuse.

Does it….Does he/she/they…?

  • Insult, demean or embarrass you with put-downs?
  • Control what you do, who you talk to or where you go?
  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
  • Push you, slap you, choke you or hit you?
  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
  • Control the money in the relationship? Take your money or Social Security check, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money?
  • Make all of the decisions without your input or consideration of your needs?
  • Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away your children?
  • Prevent you from working or attending school?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, deny the abuse or tell you it’s your own fault?
  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?
  • Attempt to force you to drop criminal charges?
  • Threaten to commit suicide, or threaten to kill you?


You can volunteer for organizations locally and nationally. A good place to start is here.

Every time you do something good, you make an impact. It might not seem like a lot but moment after moment, tiny bits of help after tiny bits of help add up to change.


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.


Carrie Jones Books blog, NYT bestselling children's book author and podcaster and teacher
This is what I look like. Well, with wet hair.


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!

The Podcast

Dogs are Smarter Than People, the podcast
Look, Mom! It’s a podcast.

And please subscribe to and like our podcast if you listen and spread the word. It’s kind of you and it makes us feel happy. The RSS feed is here.

Local Author Gets Kicked Out of Coffee Shop

RANDOM PLACE, MAINE — Local author Carrie Jones was kicked out of the town’s one and only coffee shop today when she ordered a decaffeinated tea rather than a super mocha ultra caffinated coffee thingy.

“Can you believe it?” asked shop owner, Leslie LongIhavewrittenstoryaboutloveandsexinthesuburbs. “Everyone knows you can NOT be an author without coffee. It’s like being a Disney star without having big bright shiny teeth and an occasional sordid scandal. I mean, come on. . . Hello? Green tea?”

Ms. Jones was promptly booted to the street. She took her laptop with her and was seen hunkering down in a bush near a window of the establishment.

“I can still get wi-fi here.” She sniffed. “Thank God.”

Her agent then called on her cell phone and told her not to comment. In a written statement from her agency, Ms. Jones’ agent expressed her assuredness that Ms. Jones can indeed be an author who does not drink coffee.

“No, she is not a Mormon,” she said. “And she’s not all straight-edged. Or pregnant. She can’t have much caffeine because it gives her seizures. Yes, I swear, she is still an author. Really. An author. ”

The one-star-reviewer IHATECARRIEJONES on Good Reads obviously disagreed.

“Real authors are caffeinated. Or at least drunk,” he wrote. “She is dead to me.”

Leslie also disagreed. “She’s a poser. I don’t care how many books she’s published. Her last book was a picture book biography. That doesn’t even count.”

Jones vowed never to leave the house again.

“Or, I’m going to pretend to drink coffee. I’ll like get coffee scented tea or something. There’s got to be a way to fight this,” she said, pretending that she wasn’t crying, you’re crying, while wiping tears from her face.

Marsie the Cat’s Monday Motivation


Look. Be you. Don’t let any haters tell you that you stink. You don’t. They do. People who yank each other down aren’t worth your time. Any cat knows that. You need to know it, too.

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








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

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is still real. I’m still terrified.

My Post-2 copy

There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.

We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog.



31 January, Issue 1, Vol 1.

ELLSWORTH, MAINE –– Sitting at her Powerbook with the missing “Y” key and staring at the blank Word document on the screen, a young adult novelist gave it all up today and decided to act like a real novelist.  Surrounded by her agent, her editors and her dogs, she admitted that she might as well become one with the Hemingway.

“I always knew I was failing at being a writer,” she said while gulping down some boxed wine (red variety), “but I never understood what it was that I was missing. Now I know: it was misery. I was missing the whole misery element. But lately, I’ve been feeling really depressed and consequentially I feel like more of a writer. That rocks!”

“You are a rock star baby,” her agent agreed. “But you’ve got a little of that wine on your chin. Ew. So gross.”

img_1604 Right here? On my chin?

Her agent then whisked out her ancient Blackberry and texted the international rights agent about the philosophy of the Britney Spears and remembered fondly when this book sold to so many countries.


After apologizing for using adverbs in her above quote, Jones explained that she’d always been a happy and productive writer and she used to shake her head at other writers who would moan a lot about missing muses and being blocked.

“I thought they were just being pretentious,” she admitted. “I mean… seriously… muses? Like in that old movie Xanadu or something? It seemed so hoity-toity.”

Now she understands.

Devastated by the thing people call winter, (“All those cold dark days,” she murmured), plus a cold that would not quit (“A woman can sniff in only so much before the snot affects the brain,” she added, sniffing in), Jones has decided that despite the fact that she writes children’s books she is no longer going to skip and happy dance in her kitchen, she is instead — going to embrace the misery.

“I will wrap my arms around it and pull it to my heaving bosom,” she said and then added, “Oh. Was that too melodramatic? It was… It was… wasn’t it? Damn, can I do nothing right?”

Her editors pet her on the shoulder and offered more box wine (it’s cheaper) or at least green tea admonishing her to buck up and hit her deadline for the third book in the TIME STOPPERS series.


“Her friends have already noticed a change. They have kindly inundated her with well meaning emails asking what is wrong,” said one editor who frantically pointed at the keyboard. “But that’s just making her procrastinate more.”

“But they’re writers,” Jones said sniffing some ModPodge because it usually makes her happy. “How do I know they aren’t just trying to get some sort of material for their own novels?”

Nobody responded to this question.

“Plus, the blogging. Why are all our YA and middle grade authors all about the blogging?” Jones wailed. “And the tweets. And they all seem to be friends with each other and promote each other’s books will living terribly exciting lives in coffee shops and Scotland. Everyone is always in Scotland!”

Jones added that her agent has called her multiple times for no reason in the last week.

“It’s my job to check in,” her agent said. “The well-being of my writers is very important to me.”

Her agent then started texting again. This time it was an appeal to add a certain someone’s name to the list of HOTTEST AGENTS IN CHILDREN”S LITERATURE.

“That John Green is always winning,” her agent mumbled. Then she turned her attention back to her client. “You know I love you, baby.”

“She’s just worried I won’t finish the third book,” Jones sighed. “Although… it is nice hearing a human voice occasionally. You know she is human. And when she calls I remember how dialogue is supposed to go. Plus,  I’m tired of talking to my computer.”

Jones then ate an entire carton of Edy’s Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough while the editors looked on and added, “Did I ever tell you that Steve Wedel said I was like a puppy? Or that Cynthia Leitich Smith said I was like a kitten? Yeah? Well, whatever, I’m telling you again. People used to pet my head and tell me what a good writer I was… Now… Now…”

She then started sobbing. “None of this would have happened if I had a writing group.”


Writing Tip – Write a fake news story about yourself or your character. Look up there! It’s super easy. If you can’t think of a subject, write about Sparty the Dog wearing a tinfoil hat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

I’ve been talking a lot about big volunteer organizations and apps on Wednesdays, but you can also intentionally do good in smaller ways and that’s powerful.


Small can be powerful!

So here are a couple ideas, but I bet you can make some of your own! 

  1. Write a thank you on paper and give it to somebody.
  2. Encourage someone that you don’t always remember to encourage.
  3. Thank three people for things in one day.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Think about the person you don’t like, that really super annoying horrible person of evil? Think of one good thing about them.
  6. Say ‘hi’ to someone.
  7. Give someone who never treats his/herself a treat. 

Random Marketing Thing – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified.

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