People Laugh At Me. All the time. Writing and Structure and MINI Coopers and Big Packages

Sometimes you have to be flexible.

All my adult life I had wanted a MINI Cooper and I totally got one in 2009, which was awesome and amazing. The MINI itself was cute and small and huggable. Yes, my car was huggable. I hugged it a lot. Do not judge.

However, one day at the post office right around this time of year, I realized that there are certain issues that come with buying a MINI Cooper. I got my mail out of my po box and found a yellow slip that said I had a package.

I thought, “YAY PACKAGE!”

Okay, I actually said, “Yay package!” 

And some guy near me murmured, “That’s what she said.” 

Then he laughed and laughed and laughed. 

Moving on.

I was hoping that it was some sort of present for me, because I am like that. I like presents. A lot. Kind of like the kids in CHRISTMAS STORY. I am like that. Out of all the famous fictional characters out there, I am ashamed to admit that I am the most like Ralphie.  

Anyway, I went to the counter and the post office lady who was super nice said, “Oh, Carrie. You have a huge package. Can you come to the side door?”

So I squeed and people laughed and I went to the side door. And there was a package that was as big as me. 

“What is it?” I asked, thinking it was maybe a leg lamp or something. 

“It’s from Amazon,” she said. “Do you think you can carry it?”

And then I said, “Um….”

And then I said it again, “Um…”

And then she said to another nice post office lady who was pretty strapping looking, “Why don’t you bring it to door 4?”


This was the point where I realized:

  •  That it wasn’t a present for me. Inside the package were presents for this family that I heard about on the radio who needed help this winter. So, it was a couple comforters (Transformers and Disney) and dolls and Wow Wee Cubs, and an electric razor.
  •  That it definitely wasn’t a leg lamp.
  •  That it wasn’t food from Harry and David, which nobody sends me anymore. Sadness.
  • That it wasn’t going to be easy fitting it into my MINI.

So, I hopped out of the post office, into my MINI, drove the MINI to the back cargo door. The lady at the door started laughing.

“Oh man…” She grabbed her stomach. “Oh man… How are you going to fit that? Oh man…”

And the thing is… I already had the gear of my daughter Em and her best friend Belle who were both on the swim team crammed in the backseat and I had groceries in the trunk.

“Don’t laugh,” I ordered Laughing Post office Lady. People in the parking lot had now joined her. 

“No,” I begged, “Seriously…”

“It’s so ridiculous. Oh my gosh, honey. Hahahahaha,” she said.

Everyone just kept laughing, which was nice because they were happy, but it wasn’t really helping me out. 

And then I said, “Hey? Does anyone have a knife?”

At this point everyone stopped laughing because you can’t talk about weapons in public, but some wild-eyed, knife-owning man gave me his knife. I did not turn it on the laughers, I swear. Instead, I slit open the box, took out all the contents and crammed them into my back seat, earning semi-respectful glances from the laughers.

Problem Solved. 

This is why if someone wants to send me a leg lamp, it would be much better to send it to my home address.

Tying it all together. 

So that story reminded me of us writers drafting our stories. We think we’ve got it all figured out, that we have all the scenes ready and the plot perfect and then we realize that it doesn’t all fit. That we have to rethink things, jam them around, squish them together in different ways and sometimes dismantle things. 

Dismantling things can be scary, but sometimes it’s the only way to get everything to fit, right? Don’t be afraid to dismantle, to build something stronger. 


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

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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.

This book looks really large. 

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?

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It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

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

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

WRITING COACH

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

WRITING BARN

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

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

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

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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

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APPLY NOW!

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Writing Tip Wednesday – Step Outlines and Structuring Your Story

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

 

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

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

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

Some writers use a magical tool called a Step Outline.

What’s a Step Outline?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Writing and Other News

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

Art.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

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

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

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

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

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

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

Apply Now!

 

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!