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.

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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.

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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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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!

Wednesday Writing Tips How to Hook Readers And How Not To Bore Them

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

We like stories where we can quickly identify with the main character, or at least a character, pretty early on.

Think about all the BuzzFeed quizzes that ask, “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Buffy Character Are You?” “Who Are You In The Wire?” “What Disney Princess Are You?”

It goes on and on.

We humans like to identify with characters who are in the stories we read or the video we watch. It’s like a nice pat on the back that says we aren’t alone, and it creates community.

Don’t Do This:

  1. Start with dialogue on the first line. It’s hard to care about the person speaking if you haven’t met them yet.

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

2. Tell us stuff we don’t need to know.

So, in 1870 or something like that I had this great great aunt who allegedly stepped on a nail or something, not that it matters. Although, maybe it mattered to her, but yeah. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Neither does the reader.

3. Introduce 18 characters in the first paragraphs. It’s hard to remember who is who and who is important.

As Belinda walked inside the Timberland RV Campground in Trenton, Maine she waved hello to Lincoln, son-in-law of the owner, a retired man with a name like Jack or something, and then she waved to Debbie, Lincoln’s wife, who was riding on a golf cart with Charlene. Peggy was perched on the back with a blonde child whose name I think is Jackie…

Enough said, right?

4. And finally describe things just for the sake of describing them.

Timberland RV Campground descended into a slight hill, managing to split itself across two town lines. It was Trenton in the front and Ellsworth in the back and the back was where there were no trees surrounding the sites, just pull-in places for the giant RVs and motorhomes and campers and busses. I have no idea which is which. I’d never been in a campground before, but they had hook-ups at some of the sites for water and sewer, or just one, and electricity. There were metal fire rings and some people had fancied up their sites with flowers and decks and lobster buoys because… Maine.

 

You can find the other posts in this series by searching the hookingreaderstag.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date was yesterday, August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

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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.

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?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. That’s tonight!

She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

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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.

Prom Parties Can Make You a Writer & Teach You About Pacing

Since I have no shame what-so-ever, and since I enjoy humiliating myself I am going to post my old prom pictures here.

So, here it is:

This is me with Joe. Joe is gay. He wasn’t out yet here. He was the best boyfriend ever obviously since he went to the prom with me despite the fact that I was wearing this pink monstrosity of a dress. From now on the dress will be referred to as BERTHABELINDAGOGOS.

Check out the bottom part of BERTHABELINDAGOGOS! You could make five dresses for Beyonce out of that… that… Not that Beyonce would allow that, obviously.

Oh! What is the name for the bottom part of a dress? You can tell I am no good at dressmaking terms. Oh… yeah… hemline?

Also, please try to ignore my hair and the fact that we are holding my dog, Shelly Belly, and gazing at each other in a total Lifetime Movie sort of way and that Shelly Belly is ALSO GAZING AT JOE IN A TOTAL LIFETIME MOVIE SORT OF WAY!!! Shelly Belly! I never knew.

(Yes. Those are two different pink dresses. Yes. Joe and I went to two different proms together, two years in a row. Yes. My mother made us pose in front of the fireplace EACH TIME!!!)

Cleansing breaths, Carrie. Cleansing breaths.

 

Here are Joe and I post prom at Hampton Beach in NH, which is where everyone went if they:

1. Didn’t go to a hotel to be skanky
2. Didn’t go home to be lonely
3. Didn’t go to the post-prom party to be good kids approved of by the school administration and parents everywhere.

Although, actually we did go to the post-prom party and it was there that my German teacher (who is QUITE similar to the German teacher in TIPS) dunked me in the swimming pool repeatedly. I have not forgiven him for the repeated dunking (Water up the nose is NOT fun, Herr Wells!), which is why there is a German teacher in TIPS.

Note in the picture that  the cool U2 shirt, and Chris LaSalle passed out behind us. He is the lump in the sand.

Note that the Emster hates this picture.

Note that I am posting it anyway because my chin looks good.

Note that we went to the post-prom party because you could win things (I WON A SAVINGS BOND, WHICH PAID FOR A COMPUTER, WHICH SET ME ON THE COURSE OF BEING A WRITER) and  because there was free pizza!

Moral of the story: Always go to post-prom parties if you want to be a writer or get free pizza.

Where is the Writing Wisdom in all this, you might ask. Is this not Writing Wisdom Wednesday and also Do Good Wednesday? Yes… yes… it is.

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Writing Wisdom Time

Books are like prom experiences.

No two proms are going to be the same even if you go with the same person. Proms have different levels of thrill and different levels of boredom. Some are hell on earth. Some are fantasies out of 1980s movies complete with awesome soundtracks.

Books are like that, too.

There is no one way to be a book. But all books, and all proms have a certain pace to them. You expect for them to fall into one of the types of pacing and action:

Some will be a slower, mellow time. Think a quiet, literary novel.

Some will be all razz-ma-razz action, blowing your hair back. Think a loud movie about Marvel characters, only as a book.

What happens is you get an expectation of pace that happens from your very first page and voice and tone, or the moment your prom date shows up with a clown wig and another woman on his arm. You set up the cause and effect, the action and reaction, and the speed between those two elements.

If you think of it as plot points, then you want to have a consistent distance between plot points.

Plot Point One…. 5,000 words happen…. Plot Point Two… 5,000 words happen. 

And so on.

But then the plot speeds up right before the climax, and then it slows down right after a huge revelation or plot point to allow for emotional reaction.

Pacing is a tool you get to use to make the best story possible. How cool is that?

carriejonesbooks.blog

Do Good Wednesday

In honor of Joe and all the people I love and adore and respect, here is your Do Good Wednesday link. All you need to do is get informed. That’s it.

I once had someone look at TIPS; it was an industry professional and he lived in NYC and he’s super liberal and he said, “Carrie. This isn’t a believable premise. Hate crimes against gays don’t happen anymore.”

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He was obviously wrong then. He is still wrong now. We have only just had the first teen gay romance movie, right? We are still growing and as we grow? Sometimes hate lashes back and out harder than ever. So, just read about it, especially if you’re straight. Think about what it is to be a child of love.

 

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.

 

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.