Writing Weirdly – When You aren’t exactly a plotser or a pantser

While I was at Vermont College my first semester, one of the teachers, Alison McGhee, mentioned off-handedly that when she wrote one of her many brilliant, amazing books she wrote it all in a rush, just page after page. She didn’t write it with an eye for structure. She didn’t write it with a specific linear plot in mind. She wrote it looking for emotion and heart and depth.

I told my then-editor at Flux, Andrew Karre (who is super cool), about this and he dubbed it: THE ALISON MCGHEE METHOD. He also dubbed it: SEXY.

Sexy?

Since all my life I have secretly (okay… not so secretly wanted to be less cuddly and more sexy) I immediately told him that this was how I wrote LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE.

He squeed in a masculine way.

I had suddenly become sexy. Finally. After how many years?

So Many Years

Anyway, on her website, Alison McGhee writes, “As a writer, what I like best is to sit by myself in a room, spinning out words and sentences and paragraphs and stories. No music. No telephone. Nothing but the silent light coming through the window and the people taking shape in my noisy mind. Writing is my only church.”

That’s an interesting quote when you think about the method.

The method is writing. Just writing at first. Writing and writing and writing some more. And while you are writing, you are not worrying about plot as a device to keep you moving, but instead worrying about going into the soul of your character, going deep into that absolute place where your character’s identity is, and rushing inside it, holding it up and becoming one with it.

The thing is you don’t have to be a plotter or a pantser. You just have to be a writer.

That method is not how I always write, but it’s really how I wrote my first two published books: TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND and LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE.


How is it different?

It instinctively adds more layers of image and emotion to your work.

 
Things like theme resonate a lot.


Consistency errors pop up like crazy and you need people with super sharp eyes to catch them.


It makes the tension of the story (the compulsion to keep reading) not something that’s in the plot but something that’s in the character.



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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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. ImageImage

31702754 copy
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Weird Things About Us

This week we’re pretty low-key chill with an off-format podcast about the weird things about us

Basically, we answer some of our listener’s questions.

We forgot the hardest one, which is:

HOW DOES CARRIE GET EVERYTHING DONE?

That one took too much time, so we’ll share it next week.

We love you all and thank you so much for your awesome questions.

Dogs are Smarter Than People podcast
Why do you choose to live this way, humans?

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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. Image

31702754 copy

When You Don’t Have to Say Anything – The Magic of Step Dads and Living From Love Not Fear

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard.

There was blizzard on the same day as my 11thbirthday party. 

            My mom was packing back and forth across our cramped kitchen’s linoleum floors as one mother after another called to cancel because of the road conditions, the wind, the snow billowing down. The cabinets were old pine, so knotty that I’d use my fingers to draw faces in between the dark circles, connecting the blackness into eyes, a nose, a mouth, something less scary. I would have used a black magic marker to make those faces real if I could, but I wasn’t the type of kid who did that sort of thing. I was the type of kid who followed the rules, who hugged their friends, who cared about everyone’s feelings more than her own, trying desperately to fit in to a town that had exploded with wealth. 

Everyone was rich except us. You get used to that after awhile, but that doesn’t mean you’re ever cool with it. 

My mom wasn’t cool with it either and she always felt excluded and looked-down on. My dad built our ranch house sixteen years before I was born and back then our town was little and all lower working class people. Tractor salesmen were a big deal. Truckers like him were the norm. All the men volunteered at the fire department and everyone knew the three cops by name. My mom was the town clerk back then. But there was a bit of a tech bubble and all these people moved up from Massachusetts, building subdivisions filled with McMansions and wearing clothes that weren’t from K-Mart. We weren’t the norm anymore. We were below.

            And when my parents divorced, we became poor even after my mom and stepdad married because although he was a contractor, he’d moved all the way from California to marry her and he’d had to build up his business from scratch.  When he died was when my Nana would get government cheese for us. Mom would take the giant blocks with a grimace and Nana would say, “But you love cheese. You work hard.”

But this isn’t about my nana. This is about my bonus dad.

           On the blizzard day of my birthday party, his little green Toyota truck trundled up the hill towards the house, a Kermit-The-Frog colored beacon in the snow. Mom joined me at the picture window, arms crossed over her chest, staring out at him trying to make it up the hill, failing as the truck slid backwards a bit, trying again. 

 “I’m sorry, baby,” she whispered. 

“It’s okay,” I told her, but she knew I was lying. 

 Daddy parked the truck and started walking up the hill. She left me to meet him in the kitchen. I leaned my head against the cold pane of the window, listening. He stomped his boots free of the snow and then the whisperings started. I didn’t need to listen. I knew she was telling him about the cancellations, how I actually cried, which I was horrified about. There was the gross sound of lips smacking against each other. Kissing. Muffled noises of secret conversations sounded just below my hearing capabilities.

Daddy came into the living room. His socks were stained from where snow leaked into his boots. The snow line on his pants went up almost to his knees. He held his arms open and I ran into them. 

 “Hey, Miss America, you doing okay?” He had a gruff voice from decades of cigarettes, and it was soft spoken. Old people had to lean in sometimes when he talked, which wasn’t much. He never talked much.

“I’m okay.” I lied again. It was my favorite lie. 

 He kissed the top of my head. 

 “Your mom told me what’s going on.”

“Nobody can come.”

 “I know, I heard.” He bent down and pulled the sock off one foot, exposing dark skin, wiggling toes. Then he moved to the other. “She’s going to make some phone calls and we’re going to see if those scaredy-cat moms will let me go get their girls and bring them here.”

“Really?” I squealed.

 He handed me his wet socks and moved over to the couch. “Really. You get me some new socks, put those on the sink to dry and we have a deal okay?”

 “Deal!” 

 About 15 minutes later, only one mother refused to let my dad pick up her daughter. Mom kissed his cheek, I gave him a great big hug and he ventured out into the storm, picking up five girls. They smooshed together in his truck and later he told me that they all chattered the entire time.

“I didn’t have to say anything.” He tucked me in the next night, after all the sleeping bags were rolled up, the presents tucked away, and the last of my yellow cake with chocolate frosting was being digested in a rumbling stomach. 

The thing is he usually didn’t have to say anything. His love showed in everything he did. There’s a certain magic in that, in acting with love and confidence.

When we have time to choose and make decisions, we often have a moment to think about our intent. Are we acting with love or because of fear?

Here’s a really interesting article about how our intentions and our fear often close us down to opportunity and happiness. We might be afraid to get hurt by loved ones or afraid of losing control over a work situation so we keep information to ourselves, refuse to delegate, are guarded.

But if we let the fear control us then we become that fear. We lose our ability to expand, to share our stories, to pick up little girls during a blizzard.

In a post on Psychology Today’s website, Nancy Collier speaks about ‘operating from love.’

I like this Quote. It is Wise.

Operating from love is to set our own ego aside long enough to listen to the experience of the other, to be courageous enough to be willing to try and understand what the other person is experiencing, no matter how radically different it is from what we intended to happen, think happened, or believe was the cause of what happened. It is to have the strength of heart to understand and open our heart to what the pain is that the other is skillfully or unskillfully trying to express. A response (not reaction) that comes from love is listening to the other’s upset as if we were just ears hearing, ears alone, not ears attached to a head, attached to an ego, attached to an identity, attached to a person intent on remaining intact and unchanged. 

Collier, LCSW, Rev

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard. He didn’t because he acted out of love. In small and big ways, we have choices every day where we can listen to our intentions and understand why we do what we do.

So What Does It Mean to Live From Love?

To live from love not fear, on a practical level, is to shift from a goal of protecting our ego, being right, winning the argument, being not to blame, and move into actually being kind, being loving—in our actions. It is to be willing to stop proving that we’re a good person and actually be that good person—to be courageous enough to open our heart and be love even when our ego is screaming in fear.   

Collier again

It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I hope we all can start moving forward in this journey with that intent.


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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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! Here are our last two episodes!


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.

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

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

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. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

How to Start Writing a Book

People ask me all the time about how to start writing a book, and I think I’m getting more emails about this than I normally do, which means – a lot of emails. 

So, I’m going to resurrect this blog about it. 

There are basically three components to writing a book or a novel, or anything honestly.

The first part is you have to write

You have to put words to the page and/or computer screen. A lot of people get stuck on this part. There’s no one right way to do it. You can outline the heck out of a book and/or a novel. Or… you can hear a sentence in your head and just go from there and see where the journey takes you. The secret is to not get hung up on how to do the writing or outlining, but to do the writing, which leads me to the second component.

Do not stop writing.

 You have to keep writing even when you think your story sucks, even when you think it is pointless. You have to expect self-doubt and write right through it. Stopping because of self doubt is the number one enemy of writers. It is what keeps me from blogging, which to me is much more terrifying than writing a book. 

End the Bad Boy.

In order for you to have a book out in the world, you have to write all the way through it to the ending. There are a million books out there and even more ‘almost written’ books. Don’t be an almost. Be a writer. 

Here are some more hints.

1. Write

Write as much as you can. I wrote my first book, TIME STOPPERS (13th published one) in the car on my way to newspaper assignments. I’d make the story up aloud and tell it to my daughter and then write the pages at home when I got a chance. If you write just one page a day, you end up with a draft that’s 356 pages at the end of the year. You know what that is? It’s a book.

2. Keep Track of Your Progress 

A lot of the time, I feel like I haven’t written anything or achieved any writing during the day. My mind is evil like that. So to help me keep track, I post a word count at the beginning of the day and the end of the day, too. That way I can see how many words I wrote. When I’m revising, I do it by chapter. I revise a chapter a day and mark it off in my notebook or computer file.  It’s good to see that you’ve accomplished things. It’s motivating.

3. Work Every Day 

Some writers don’t do this. I do. But I’m trying to take the weekends off. Some writers go on a retreat and work for 24 hours straight, sipping green tea and eating Saltines. I am not one of those writers, but you can be. If you aren’t the binge-type writer, though, make sure you are diligent. Write every day. Think about when you will write. Schedule time to write. Do it. For my first book, I was writing everywhere, on napkins, the back of envelopes, computer files, and I would be in the car waiting to pick up my daughter, at a swim meet (DO NOT JUDGE. SWIM MEETS ARE LONG), waiting for a meeting to start. All those moments of waiting became moments of writing. 

4. Give Yourself Goals 

I have daily goals, weekly goals and yearly goals. This sounds quite organized. It isn’t, really. I just say things like, “I want to write 5,000 words this week,” or I want to have the necromancer story done by November 1, this revision of a picture book done by December, and so on. Your goals can be big or little, but keep visiting them, remind yourself of them. And be psyched when you achieve them. I give this advice, but I totally fail at the celebration part of writing. When my last book came out, I was training members of Rotary International about public image. I absolutely failed to even have a cupcake to celebrate. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. Give yourself goals and party when you achieve them. You deserve it. 

5. Be Okay with Sucking 

I am so far from perfect. My writing is far from perfect. The truth is that even the writers that you think are heroic, brilliant, awesome, amazing mess up. They have editors, second editors, agents, friends who help them make their stories the best they can be. The secret is to let others help you. The other secret is to not let your fear of failure freeze you into not making story. We writers are often our own worst enemy and few of us have healthy egos that are okay with criticism, that don’t have self doubt. The thing is to preserve, keep writing. 

6. Write More 

Once you have your story, revise your story. Revise it again. Study the books you like. Revise again. Study the books you don’t like. Revise again. And write something new. Don’t stop writing. Writing is a craft and the more you do it, the better you become. This is just like all the other arts and crafts. The more you practice piano, the better a pianist you are. The more you sculpt, the better the sculptor. Writers are artisans. Our materials are words. Words are the symbols we put together to create story. 

7. Start a blog and find a community 

Writing can be lonely. You are in your house or coffee shop or (if you are me) car, writing. If you blog, you can connect to other writers and readers. If you connect, you can find support when you are feeling like throwing your laptop through the window. You can feel less alone. 

8. Get Inspired 

When I talk to kids about writing, I tell them that to live the biggest lives they can, experience things that are legal and won’t get you thrown in prison or hurt or kicked out of school, have adventures, make friends, listen to people’s conversations. The stories writers tell are about interactions, cause and effect, about things happen. Be a witness. Be a story teller. Live. 


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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

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 and our bonus podcast below.

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

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. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

A Little Bit of Wisdom from a Writing For Children and Young Adults MFA Grad

Ten years ago, I was at Vermont College doing the graduate assistant thing. Everywhere people were engaging in intelligent discourse about craft and me?

Um….

I began the residency by spilling an entire glass of apple juice on the cafeteria table on first semester student, possibly scarring her for life.

To her credit she kept talking about picture books as we mopped up the mess with massive amounts of napkins expounding about the Derridian aspect of Mo Willem’s canon. Yet… 

While they were being articulate I, the graduate assistant from the Land of the Socially Awkward (AKA MAINE),  was pondering other mysteries of life such as this:

When I left my dorm room Grover and Teddy were hanging out on my bed like this.

But when I returned, they looked like this:

I decided not to care. Instead, I started to lurk around Julie and Shelley, two of the teacher-professor-mentors, in the hopes of trying to gather some of their brilliance.

These ladies? These ladies are hot. They weren’t hot JUST because they were cuties.   They were hot because they’ve got brilliance and passion and brains. It’s kind of intimidating. 

Me: Hm… Perhaps I will lurk behind them in the lunch line and some of the brain waves will come over to me. 

Julie: Shelley? Do you feel someone trying to suck out our brain cells?

Shelley: Yes, I do… Through the power of my amazing brain I can detect that.

Julie (Turning around and pointing): You! What are you doing with that giant suction cup.

Me (hiding suction cup in lentil goulash): Me? Nothing? Nothing! 

Me (mumbling to self): Man, foiled again. No extra brain cells. No increased IQ. Darn….

Anyway, Shelley Tanaka’s lecture was called:  Mastering the Short Critical Essay: A Closer Look at This Essential Component of the MFA Program


My favorite hints Shelley gave were actually:

1    If you are writing an essay about a book you should read the damn book first

2.      Don’t make the thesis statement too big like “All books by Roald Dahl have to do with children.”

She also made some great points about how we must devote ourselves to intellectual thought so that we can make our creative work better. 

Julie Larios’ lecture was entitled: How Poetry Works and How It Doesn’t, According to Me


Just the title cracked me up. 


Julie said that, “Poetry’s greatest weapon is indirection.”

She even lectured poetically, full of sound and beauty.

Listen to these sentences she said, “The eyes are hearing. The hands are hearing. The soles of the feet are hearing. The heart and the head and the soul and the gut are hearing.”

Julie Larios

My favorite part of her talk was when she discussed how everyone thinks that anyone can write a book and how it is so easy.  People perceive of all the different arts as requiring years of practice. Except writing.

“They don’t recognize language as an instrument that you learn to play,” she said. “You have to learn to play the instrument of language.”

 
You can learn that language by yourself or you can learn it in a super-cool amazing MFA program like Vermont’s College of Fine Arts or the Writing Barn (hint/hint), but you still have to learn it. 

I am still learning it even as I teach it. That’s remarkably wonderful.

Julie also recommended we ask these questions about our poetry, but I think we should ask it about ALL our writing.

Here are her questions:

Are you invested primarily in the emotion of the piece?

Are you invested in the information of the piece? 

Are you invested only in the sound of the piece?


Favorite Quote Of the Residency (as said by maintenance man upon seeing the third-floor lounge at Dewey:
 Well, I guess there was a party up here. Man…

I ending up keeping a close eye on Grover and Teddy.

Oh… And let me tell you. My radiator? Totally haunted. It sounded like there is a poodle stuck in there. I think it had something to do with the Grover and Teddy escapades, too.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

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!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

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

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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!

Presidents Don’t All Sound Alike and Neither Should Your Characters – Writing Tip Wednesday

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and this week, I’m actually going to give a little writing tip. I know!

We all pause for a moment of stunned silence.

Have you ever read a story and every line of dialogue for every character sounds exactly the same no matter what the characters’ backgrounds are?

Like this:

“I love you a lot,” Character #1 said. “A wicked amount.”

“You’re an awesome lady,” Character #2 said.

“You are the wicked awesomest lady ever,” Character #1 said.

“Will you two awesome ladies please move along? I’m in a wicked hurry?” called out Police Officer #1. “No offense.”

Random pretend dialogue from a bad book that I just made up in my head

See what I mean?


So there’s a reason that flat feeling is happening. There’s a reason that all the characters sound the same when those characters aren’t the same in the writer’s head. The reason is because the author isn’t thinking about words.

Someone once said (maybe Rita Mae Brown?) that “Language is the road map of culture. It tells you where a people are from and where they are going.”

For every word we write (or speak) there are connections we have in our brains. We make associations with each word and those associations are formed by our own lives, our cultures, our media consumption. Everything. They are keys to who we are, what we do, what we’ve done, where we’re from, what we’ve been exposed to and how we think.

Don’t be afraid to play around with individual words and think about how substituting one similar word for another really makes a difference.

Let me tell you a tale vs. Let me tell you a story.

I find her account truthful vs. I find her account veracious.

or

The woman is honest vs. The lady is honest.

I have no citation for this because I’m making it up again.

Don’t be afraid to play around with words, to tweak them – especially in your dialogue. Our differences in background and thought is often truly evident in our speech patterns and word choices. People aren’t the same in real life. They don’t talk the same in real life. We should try to make sure that we don’t seem the same in our stories.

Here’s an example Of PEople’s differences in speech patterns and word choice:

Think about past and current presidents and this difference in language is even more obvious. Presidents are all similar in that they are politicians who have attained a great amount of power, English is their first language, all are male, but even so… their speech patterns are profoundly different.

I’ve used the most current tweets (as of this writing) to show the difference in word choice and sentence structure and communication style of four of the last five presidents.

Congratulations to a truly great football team, the Clemson Tigers, on an incredible win last night against a powerful Alabama team. A big win also for the Great State of South Carolina. Look forward to seeing the team, and their brilliant coach, for the second time at the W.H.

A president

In 2018 people stepped up and showed up like never before. Keep it up in 2019. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’ll be right there with you. Happy New Year, everybody!

Another president

.@SenatorCollins — political courage and class. I salute my wonderful friend and her principled leadership.

Yet another president

Senator John Culver was a smart, principled, progressive, and tough public servant who represented his constituents with honor for 16 years. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and the people of Iowa.

Our final president example

I think it’s pretty easy to pick out President Clinton and Trump and Obama, not just because of what they’re talking about, but because of their word choices and sentence structure.

So, think about your stories, your life and the people you communicate with. That’s my writing tip – word choice is telling. Make sure that everyone doesn’t sound the same. And if you aren’t a writer, this applies in your own life to – sound the way you want to sound.

A Really Cool Blog Post (not by me) that you should check out.

One of my friends/acquaintances, Carla Tanguay, has a really great blog post about how to use music for self care. It’s right here. You should check it out.

Carla is a “nationally board-certified music therapist with over 15 years of experience in clinical music therapy and healthcare management. She holds a Master’s degree in music therapy from St. Mary-of-the-Woods College and has trained over 30 music therapy interns.”

But she’s also a great, clear writer and one of the kindest smart people that I know.

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!


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.

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

ART.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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!

Writers Make No Money and That Sucks But YOU Don’t Suck So Carry On

A recent study by the Authors Guild basically says that if you want to be a writer, prepare to be poor.

In 2017, full-time writers made a median salary of around $20k. That’s full-time writers. In the last ten years, writers’ earnings have decreased by 42 percent.

The article talks about causes and how this impacts authors’ writings and our society. But it doesn’t talk a lot about mental health, about how a lack of pay impacts creativity.

The study’s press release quotes T.J. Stiles as saying, “Poverty is a form of censorship. That’s because creation costs. Writing requires resources, and it imposes opportunity costs. Limiting writing to the financially independent and the sinecured punishes authors based on their lack of wealth and income.”

So all that basically sucks, but still we write. And there are a ton of YOU CAN MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS ON YOUR FIRST BOOK people out there. Those people? They are people who are trying to make their own million dollars – off of you with their vague ‘info-videos’ and ‘seminars’ and downloadable assets that basically tell you to write, read, write more, submit, make a blog site. There we gave the same advice for you right now for free.

This week the Golden Globes were on and there were a bunch of winners, but way more losers. And while we were reading about it, the same lesson kept ringing out at us.

You and the work you do contributes to a bigger purpose.

Your actions make a difference to people.

Your presence, your existence, is important.

You don’t have to be Hollywood to be important. You don’t need a million followers. You don’t need to win a golden globe.You just need to be. Do you. Realize that your work matters and you matter more than the outside metrics of awards and money. You don’t need other people to tell you that you’re a success. You are one by being here.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Be okay with not making a ton of money and having to do some side hustles – of the legal kind. Write the best stories you can, focus on craft, read a ton and you’ll stand out from the rest.

Dog Tip for Life

Joy is more important than money but money buys bacon.


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.

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

ART.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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!

Writers Make No Money and That Sucks But YOU Don’t Suck So Carry On

A recent study by the Authors Guild basically says that if you want to be a writer, prepare to be poor.

In 2017, full-time writers made a median salary of around $20k. That’s full-time writers. In the last ten years, writers’ earnings have decreased by 42 percent.

The article talks about causes and how this impacts authors’ writings and our society. But it doesn’t talk a lot about mental health, about how a lack of pay impacts creativity.

The study’s press release quotes T.J. Stiles as saying, “Poverty is a form of censorship. That’s because creation costs. Writing requires resources, and it imposes opportunity costs. Limiting writing to the financially independent and the sinecured punishes authors based on their lack of wealth and income.”

So all that basically sucks, but still we write. And there are a ton of YOU CAN MAKE A MILLION DOLLARS ON YOUR FIRST BOOK people out there. Those people? They are people who are trying to make their own million dollars – off of you with their vague ‘info-videos’ and ‘seminars’ and downloadable assets that basically tell you to write, read, write more, submit, make a blog site. There we gave the same advice for you right now for free.

This week the Golden Globes were on and there were a bunch of winners, but way more losers. And while we were reading about it, the same lesson kept ringing out at us.

You and the work you do contributes to a bigger purpose.

Your actions make a difference to people.

Your presence, your existence, is important.

You don’t have to be Hollywood to be important. You don’t need a million followers. You don’t need to win a golden globe.You just need to be. Do you. Realize that your work matters and you matter more than the outside metrics of awards and money. You don’t need other people to tell you that you’re a success. You are one by being here.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Be okay with not making a ton of money and having to do some side hustles – of the legal kind. Write the best stories you can, focus on craft, read a ton and you’ll stand out from the rest.

Dog Tip for Life

Joy is more important than money but money buys bacon.


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.

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

ART.

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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!

Writers Make No Money and That Sucks But YOU Don’t Suck So Carry On

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:25
 
1X
 

What? Your Childhood Wasn’t Awesome? Welcome to the World of Writers

A lot of us writers had childhoods that were less than the spectacular childhoods written about with nostalgia like The Christmas Story. And you know, what? That’s okay. If your childhood was hellish, I’m so sorry for you and I hope that you’re okay and recovering now. If your childhood had angst and worries and hormones and mistakes? Well…

Welcome to the world of humans. 

And welcome to the world of writers. 

As writers, we often get to mine the experiences of our childhood to make better, more emotionally resonating, stories. But also as writers, the fear of failure – of not being good enough to write – also often stems from this same time in our lives.

Do you have a Fear of Taking Chances, of Stigma, of Failure?

Look back on your youth.

As kids we had a lot of things happen. Memories were made. Some of them are amazing. Some? Some are horrifying. A good way of going deeper in your writing and to address your fear of failure is too kindly delve into those times. 

TIPS ON How to Think Back On Your first failures and Use them 

  • Think back about being a kid. Do you remember failing?
  • Think of a time where you knew you messed up somehow, when you understood that you failed.
  • Write down your thoughts about that.  Now, look at the next set of questions and write about those, too.
  • Who was there when you failed? 
  • How did they respond to your failure? 
  • Did their response become internalized? Did they judge you? Did you internalize that? 
  • Did their response become more important than your own response? 

What you just wrote down, what you remembered, is part of your personal associations with failure from just that one memory. When we’re aware of these associations it helps empower us to make choices that are stronger, deeper, and more reflective of our true wants and dreams. 

Often, our associations with failure is a big part of what holds us back from our successes. 

For me, the act of writing holds a lot of positive feedback and feels like success. That’s partly because of the early childhood associations that I have with it.  I was put into the gifted program at school because of a second-grade haiku. People thought I was cool in fifth grade because I kept winning the Author of the Month contest with a funny story about a girl in the Army who falls in love with a dog named Abba. A high school teacher told me I was a ‘keeper’ because of my writing and that I’d be a bestseller someday.

All those people gave me really positive associations with writing. They helped shape me into being someone who believed I could do this, that I was meant to write. 

But when I look back on childhood, there are two other moments when I can see that other people’s judgements really held me back from what I love doing. 

One, I’ve talked about before, and that’s my mom declaring that “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body” after watching me draw Sunday after Sunday, hour after hour.

Disclaimer: My mom was actually awesome. She just doesn’t sound awesome here. 

I never pursued art because I was positive that I was genetically incapable of it. Now, one of the hardest things I make myself do is share on my Facebook  timeline paintings that I’ve made. I’ve been doing it every Friday.  It’s so hard, but I know it’s necessary for me to face that stigma and fear and just be. 

Another thing that happened to me as a kid was I loved singing. My grandpa was a professional jazz drummer and people in my family love music. I think I was in fourth or sixth grade and I tried out for something at school. We had to sing “America the Beautiful” and I just got back from being out for two weeks with bronchitis. I was terrible. So terrible! Seriously. It was so bad.

I had no breath control. I was hoarse. I coughed. No… I hacked up a lung in the middle. The music teacher made me stop.

I’ll always remember the music teacher’s cringing face and all the other kids’ looks – pity, anguish, horror. And though I ended up singing in a professional troupe eventually, I’m horrified still at the thought of auditioning or singing in front of other people. So horrified. I love singing as much as I love writing, taking photos, painting and hugging dogs, but I don’t even like singing “Happy Birthday” at Rotary meetings. So obviously,  I still need to work on that bad boy.

But the thing is…. It isn’t that fear of my failures in the past that’s keeping me down. That’s already happened. It’s my fears of failing in the future – of the looks, the stigma, the gossip behind my back. 

And that’s ridiculous. Because I can’t do anything without potentially failing. There is a chance of failure in every big thing we do, new thing we try.

The thought of potentially failing can cause us to freeze, to ignore our dreams and our loves. That’s not cool. We have to fight it. 

So, look back in your own life. See what happened. See how you internalized that. And if you’re a writer? Use those memories and emotions for your characters, let them come out in your story. When your characters suffer failures or stigma or setbacks, remember your own and use that to make fuller, richer characters who leap off the page. 

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

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.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

31702754 copy
Flying

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!


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!