Wednesday Writing Hints – It is TOTALLY okay if you hate critique groups. Seriously. To Heck With Them!

Writing is lonely. I get it. And some writers are actually – gasp! – extroverts who want feedback in a group setting with other writers where they can drink coffee or brews or have snacks and dip and discuss how to make their writing better.

That is lovely.

That is not everyone.

And it is okay if it is not you.

I was talking to one of my favorite writers that I’ve mentored last week. And she said, “You don’t have a reader, do you?”

And I was like, “No. I trust no humans.”

She laughed.

This is only partially true. I trust my agent of awesome. I trust my editors. But I’ve had some wicked bad times with critique groups. Here’s why:

Ways Critique Groups Can Go Wrong

Group Think

Sometimes your group will have an alpha writer. She is the goddess of the group and once she says something? All the other writers will grovel and try to get her to love and mimic everything she says.

If she says, “It needs more emotional resonance during this paragraph where you are describing the city.”

Then, they will say, “Yeah. I’m not feeling this paragraph.”

And they will also say, “Whoa. Yeah. This paragraph has no heart.”

And these will be the same people who told you before group how much they loved the exact same paragraph. I have seen this happen over and over again. I’m not a fan of it.

Not All Readers are the Same or Want the Same Thing.

Not all readers like the same thing. So, I’m not a fan of Fifty Shades of Gray. If I were in that author’s writing group, I’d have TOTALLY screwed up her book if she listened to me.

And that would have impacted our economy and a lot of people’s sex lives.

A lot of critique groups have different genres represented, which is awesome, but a lot of times they skew to the literary genre of adult contemporary. I once witnessed a woman with one literary fiction novel absolutely skewer and make cry another woman who had published multiple romance novels that were bestsellers.

We all have different tastes.

I lost my chill and left that group, which leads me to this…

Sometimes We Have No Chill

While writing is communication between the writer and the reader and therefore relies on others, it is also an art. And when you create something, something that you feel strongly about and work really hard over it? Well, sometimes when people criticize it, even constructively, it hurts your soul and if you have no chill? Yeah. Critique groups can suck.

It’s not good to have an assault charge on your record if you write picture books, just saying.

Critique Groups Often Only Get Small Chunks of Big Stories at a Time

So, unlike beta readers, they can’t really focus on the structure and pace of the story. That makes it really hard to figure out what might be structurally wrong with the story or its pacing or its emotional through lines.

Plus, it’s also really frustrating when the story is super good and you want to know what happens next.

Sometimes the People in Your Writing Group Aren’t the Best Writers Themselves

So, unlike the alpha-mentor situation, sometimes a writing group will be made up of a bunch of really crappy writers all trying to help each other, but not really knowing how to, but still being super confident about giving writing advice.

This usually doesn’t end well.

Unexpected Nudity

I have been in two different critique groups where someone’s husband has wandered into the room totally naked. And it was just… If you aren’t expecting a naked man in the room when you’re talking about plots and subplots and believable dialogue…? Well, it makes it a little weird. Not in a good way.

What is my point?

My point is that critique groups can sometimes suck and hurt you, and hurt your story. So, if you’re in one and it starts feeling toxic? It’s okay to leave. Writing well is about learning how to hear your voice, the voice of the story, and then crafting that in such a way that others get it too. Yes! Sometimes critique groups can help with that and that is awesome. But don’t be afraid or be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work for you.

You are still awesome.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEED is on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

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Writers! We are thrilled to announce that The Writing Barn’s 2019 Write. Submit. Support. faculty will be Picture Book writer & illustrator Jessixa Bagley and YA author Carrie Jones. 

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

Learn more below about this year’s faculty…

Apply Now!

WSS Picture Book Faculty

Jessixa Bagley’s artistic career has been a mix of comics, fine art, and illustration. She’s worked with publications such as: The Chicago Reader, The Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Highlights.

Her debut picture book, Boats for Papa (June 2015) has earned many accolades and awards including a Fall 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection, the SCBWI 2016 Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book Text as well a the 2016 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award. Her picture book, Laundry Day, was not only a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2016 but it also received a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Award for Writing. Her most recent picture book, Vincent Comes Home,  is a collaboration with her husband, Aaron Bagley. All of her picture books are with Neal Porter for Roaring Brook Press.

Currently, she lives in Seattle, Washington in a castle in the sky with her wonderful husband, painfully adorable son, and a slew of houseplants that all have names. She still loves hamburgers, drawing, and anthropomorphic food. She is represented by Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow Literary. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter!

WSS Fiction (MG,YA, Adult) Faculty

Carrie Jones is the The New York Times bestseller author of the Need series, Time Stoppers series, Flying series, GirlHeroTips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, and Love (and other uses for duct tape). She is also the coauthor, with Steve Wedel, of After Obsession and the upcoming In the Woods. She also co-edited Dear Bully. She also writes picture books about unconventional spies. Her books have been published all around the world, been bestsellers in France (thank you, France), and have received numerous awards.

Carrie lives in Bar Harbor, Maine and launched the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival, and is active in Rotary International as the Public Image Coordinator for much of Canada and a lot of the United States. She’s also part of the Rotary Campaign against Human Trafficking.

A former newspaper reporter, poetry and news editor, city councilor, gymnastics coach, and volunteer firefighter, Carrie has won numerous press awards for newspaper writing and photography. She is a big fan of rescue animals and currently has three, Spartacus, Gabby, and Marsie.

 

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Don’t Let Them Make You Sit Down

A long time ago, our daughter Em was taking karate, which was the only martial art available then in our town.

She was eight years old and tiny.

The instructor was Shaun size – sort of – and bald, super intimidating. He had all the little ones line up and kick rectangular strike pads. Em’s kick was so unexpected and powerful that the adult holding the pad fell over.

Did they tell her, “Good job?”

Nope.

They made her sit down.

“What did I do wrong, Mommy?” Em asked.

“Nothing, buddy. Nothing.”

And a mom next to us whispered, “You were too strong. They don’t know what to do with women who are too strong.”

Em got called back up and got to join the group again. This time the kids were kicking the instructor’s shin. It was Em’s turn. She wound up and executed the kick perfectly. The instructor lurched backwards, held his shin, and told her to sit down.

Again.

Em was smaller than the rest of those kids in there, but she was powerful and they didn’t know what to do with that. They couldn’t even understand it. How could this perfectly behaved, tiny child be so strong?

And sometimes that happens with us throughout our lives and our writing. Our power surprises even us. We’ll wonder where it came from? We’ll wonder what it means. And sometimes other people will not know what to do with it. Those people might be our mentors, or our families, or strangers on the internet.

But here’s the thing.

Don’t let them make you sit down or sit out. If you surprise them with your power? That’s on them. It’s not on you.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

Don’t be afraid to dig deep to get your power.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE:

Don’t let the other dogs out-alpha you. Pick your battles. But win. Don’t give away your shot.

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.

 

The links below get you to the podcast episode that goes with these words! During it, I (Carrie) blow out my knee. Plus, we tell the story of Alexander the Great’s horse. Awesome stuff. 🙂

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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!

ART STUFF

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes every Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Don’t Give Away Your Shot. Kick to Win.

A long time ago, our daughter Em was taking karate, which was the only martial art available then in our town.

She was eight years old and tiny.

The instructor was Shaun size – sort of – and bald, super intimidating. He had all the little ones line up and kick rectangular strike pads. Em’s kick was so unexpected and powerful that the adult holding the pad fell over.

Did they tell her, “Good job?”

Nope.

They made her sit down.

“What did I do wrong, Mommy?” Em asked.

“Nothing, buddy. Nothing.”

And a mom next to us whispered, “You were too strong. They don’t know what to do with women who are too strong.”

Em got called back up and got to join the group again. This time the kids were kicking the instructor’s shin. It was Em’s turn. She wound up and executed the kick perfectly. The instructor lurched backwards, held his shin, and told her to sit down.

Again.

Em was smaller than the rest of those kids in there, but she was powerful and they didn’t know what to do with that. They couldn’t even understand it. How could this perfectly behaved, tiny child be so strong?

And sometimes that happens with us throughout our lives and our writing. Our power surprises even us. We’ll wonder where it came from? We’ll wonder what it means. And sometimes other people will not know what to do with it. Those people might be our mentors, or our families, or strangers on the internet.

But here’s the thing.

Don’t let them make you sit down or sit out. If you surprise them with your power? That’s on them. It’s not on you.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Don’t be afraid to dig deep to get your power.

Dog Tip for Life:

Don’t let the other dogs out-alpha you. Pick your battles. But win. Don’t give away your shot.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes every Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Don’t Give Away Your Shot. Kick to Win.

 
 
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I can’t deal with life right now or it’s time for Banana Peanut Butter Toast

Sometimes, life seems like too much.

Sometimes, you’ve been trying to get your household to become vegetarians and you fail and you fail and you fail.

Sometimes, you want to quit all your volunteer organizations and maybe move so that you have a reason to quit that doesn’t make you seem like a quitter.

And so you make this.

I CAN'T DEAL WITH LIFE. WE ARE HAVING PEANUT BUTTER TOAST RECIPE

This recipe is adapted from the much saner version at https://www.wellplated.com/peanut-butter-banana-toast-granola-honey/


Course Breakfast, Dessert, dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword toast
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 4 humans

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thickish bread make it hearty, who knows when you will eat again
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp honey It costs so much money. Try not to think about that. Just be psyched it isn't sugar and feel virtuous
  • 2 big bananas
  • 1 oz granola if you have it.

Instructions

  1. Look. Sometimes life is really hard to deal with. 

  2. And sometimes a writer just can't deal. 

    Because... life.

  3. So get out a knife that is barely sharp enough to cut a banana and slice the bananas.

    There! Good job! 

  4. At the same time, toast your bread.

    To do this you need a toaster. 

    If you do not have a toaster or it is so full of crumbs that it's a fire hazard, you can toast the bread in a skillet over medium low-heat on an oven.


  5. Admire toast. Toast is beautiful. 

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, WRITER PERSON. You might be having a cruddy day, but you are still amazing. Really. 

  6. Put the peanut butter on the toast and spread it out. 

    Boom. Beautiful!

  7. Put those banana slices on top of the peanut butter.

    Also, put the knife safely away, turn off stove if you used it. Unplug the toaster if you used it. We want safe, healthy writers here. 


  8.  Drizzle that honey on top. 

    Sprinkle granola if you are totally wealthy. 

    Eat! Eat! Writers, need nutrition and calories! 

MAN VERDICT

This makes me happy. What else are we eating?

DOGS’ VERDICT

PEANUT BUTTER IS THE BEST BUTTER!

Gabby the Dog Cooking with a Writer Recipes - Peanut Butter is Awesome
Peanut Butter is Awesome!

CARRIE VERDICT

I feel like I’m seven. I like that.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM
LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy
ENHANCED YA SCIENCE FICTION BY CARRIE JONES

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – Subplot me up, baby

Subplots, it sounds sort of — lesser, doesn’t it? It’s not the real plot; it’s the plot beneath. It’s not the master plot. It’s the plot below.

Subplots are actually made of awesome. They make your story richer, denser, more expansive.

What do subplots do for your story?

  1. They keep it interesting by adding detail, action, and character relations.
  2. Make things more complicated.
  3. Give the main theme and plot some backup.

Sub means ‘at a lower level of position,’ but the truth is that if you’re going to use a subplot in your story, you still have to pay attention to the evil thing and make sure that it has the same elements as your regular plot.

To have a successful subplot:

  1. They have to influence the main plot eventually.
  2. They have to connect to the characters in the main plot.
  3. They have to show a variety of experience.

Write Naked-3

And there are three main kinds of subplots:

  • Conflict – Ouch. In Star Wars the fact that Obiwan and Anakin had a whole big history before he became Darth makes their conflict tastier. Same thing with Kylo and Han and everybody else.
  • Expository – The stuff that’s making your plot happen. Oops. Made some hamsters with super predatory DNA that also enlarges them to the size of elephants at HAMSTER WORLD? Yep. There’s a subplot. Some evil guys want to use those hamsters for weapons because one of them was once had a beloved hamster killed by a raging cat? There you go.
  • Romantic – If you’re worried about your main characters getting together or maybe some secondary characters having that big sexy moment? You’ve got a romantic subplot.

Elizabeth Sims writes, “Think of subplots as simply strands of stories that support or drive the main plot.”

In a Writers Digest article, she details ways to add subplots.

The Seven Ways to Add Subplots are Basically:

1. The Isolated Chunk – a side trip

2. The Parallel Line 

3. The Swallowtail  

4. The In-and-Out 

5. The Bookend

6. The Bridge Character

7. The Clue

 

There you go – a subplot primer. Run with it, writers! Master those subs!

 

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM
LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – Stupid Writing Tips are Stupid

Everyone gives advice in life and in writing and you know that they are usually intending to be helpful and all that, but sometimes you just want to scream at them to shut up.

I know! I know! That sounds harsh. But the truth is harsh.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen to people giving you advice when you know that they’re cheating on their wife or are a pathological liar or are just a really bad writer. Yet, these people almost always are still super assured of their RIGHTNESS, in their own brilliant advice, and their confidence and sometimes condescension makes you want to give them the finger.

You know we’re right. You know these people.

And sometimes these people are just repeating these edicts or mandates because they’ve heard them forever and they don’t think about them anymore, they just accept them as truths.

They aren’t truths.

So, here is a piece of writing advice that drives Carrie crazy.

DON’T USE ADJECTIVES OR ADVERBS. EVER.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Use adjectives, adverbs, made-up-words. Use whatever you please, but make sure it sounds good.

Adjectives and adverbs are not the antichrist and there are places when they come in handy and make things beautiful. Like here:

“Below the knee, the hairiness came to a halt, and his legs narrowed into tough, bony, almost fleshless calves, terminating into shiny, cloven hooves, such as one might find on any billygoat.” – Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses

That sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it?

But in a excerpt like this next one? Not so much.

His icky hair stopped right under his ugly knees. His narrow, bony calves ended in shiny hooves.

The point is to know what you’re doing. Find your style. Define it. Command it.

Dog Tip for Life:

You get to define you. Not others. Advice? Take it or leave it. Whenever something is presented to you as an absolute truth, take a moment and think about it. Question it. Question everything.

Here’s the Podcast! YOU CAN LISTEN HERE!

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, will come out next Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Stupid Writing Advice

Everyone gives advice in life and in writing and you know that they are usually intending to be helpful and all that, but sometimes you just want to scream at them to shut up.

I know! I know! That sounds harsh. But the truth is harsh.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen to people giving you advice when you know that they’re cheating on their wife or are a pathological liar or are just a really bad writer. Yet, these people almost always are still super assured of their RIGHTNESS, in their own brilliant advice, and their confidence and sometimes condescension makes you want to give them the finger.

You know we’re right. You know these people.

And sometimes these people are just repeating these edicts or mandates because they’ve heard them forever and they don’t think about them anymore, they just accept them as truths.

They aren’t truths.

So, here is a piece of writing advice that drives Carrie crazy.

DON’T USE ADJECTIVES OR ADVERBS. EVER.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Use adjectives, adverbs, made-up-words. Use whatever you please, but make sure it sounds good.

Adjectives and adverbs are not the antichrist and there are places when they come in handy and make things beautiful. Like here:

“Below the knee, the hairiness came to a halt, and his legs narrowed into tough, bony, almost fleshless calves, terminating into shiny, cloven hooves, such as one might find on any billygoat.” – Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses

That sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it?

But in a excerpt like this next one? Not so much.

His icky hair stopped right under his ugly knees. His narrow, bony calves ended in shiny hooves.

The point is to know what you’re doing. Find your style. Define it. Command it.

Dog Tip for Life:

You get to define you. Not others. Advice? Take it or leave it. Whenever something is presented to you as an absolute truth, take a moment and think about it. Question it. Question everything.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Stupid Writing Advice

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:26
 
1X
 

Wednesday Writing Hints – Get Naked?

Call it what you will – nude, buff, starkers, exposed, unclothed, au naturel, in the altogether, buck naked.

I prefer to say, “in the bare scud.”

Why am I writing about this? Well, apparently some classic authors had a tendency to get naked in order to write.

CREATIVITY IN THE BARE SCUD?

In a 2012 article in the Guardian, Robert McCrum writes of singers who access creativity by being naked and talks of all the different ways us writers do the nasty.

“Do the nasty” means write, just in case you were thinking something else.

Writing naked is actually something a bunch of authors have allegedly done before.

D. H. Lawrence climbed up trees naked all the time because why not?

James Whitcomb Riley would write naked because you can’t go to a bar naked, therefore being nude increased his productivity.

This probably should be a rule about the internet too. Because we’d all be way more productive if we could just be like, “I SHALL TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES AND THEREFORE NOT BE ABLE TO GO ON THE INTERWEBS.”

Agatha Christie would hang out in her bathtub to think up writing ideas. That counts.

An old Galley Cat post by Maryann Yin states that, “Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, James Whitcomb Riley, Edmond Rostand, Benjamin Franklin, and Agatha Christie” all wrote naked. That’s a whole lot of naked writers.

Being naked isn’t an easy thing for many of us. It’s vulnerable and fragile. It’s our body’s raw state, natural state and yet…

It feels a little weird in the American society, right? But if we think about it a little more deeply, it becomes a cool metaphor.

To write naked might mean to write clearly, cleanly so you can see every word, line, paragraph and theme.

To write naked might mean to write truth, to expose your self and your society to the eyes of your readers.

So, you can totally write naked with your clothes on. You don’t have to do a Victor Hugo. Just expose yourself to your readers (in a legal non-creepy way) by exposing the inner truths and passions of your characters and theme.

The best stories are the stories were the authors are passionate about saying something, communicating something. And yes, that really requires us to be a bit emotionally naked.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Resist The Silence

My dad was a dark-skinned man, ethnically Portuguese, but in the New Hampshire in the summer nobody knew exactly what he was and they all wanted to define him.

“What are you? Italian? Mexican?” People would ask.

He built a jewelry store for members of a mafia family. They insisted he was Italian. He’d shrug when my mom got annoyed about this.

“You work like a Mexican. You’re Mexican, right?” Some guy said to him once.

“You? What are you? Native? You a Cherokee or something?” People would ask because all First Nation people are somehow Cherokee even in New Hampshire.

Decades before I was born, he gave up trying to explain who he was. People had already labeled him.  And relabeled him. And labeled him again.

One time, we were out fishing and some young white guys came up and freaked out because I was pretty pale compared to my dad and they decided that he’d abducted me. Or something.

They called him the n-word. They threatened him. He just took it and took it and took it silently.  I eventually yelled for them to leave my daddy alone. I was pretty young and scared. All I really understood was that they were mean and that they were mean because they were being racist.

When we were driving back home, I asked him why he didn’t tell them that he wasn’t black. I asked him why he didn’t fight back. And I’m sure there were a lot of reasons he didn’t articulate and some that he probably did, but the one that I remember is this:

“I am lucky enough to be born a white man. What we had to deal with out there, I’m sorry that you had to see it, baby, but what black men and women deal with all the time? It’s so much worse.”

For my dad that was a long speech.

What was special about him was that he noticed other people’s situations, the things that they had to deal with. He never prioritized his experienced because he was “one piece of humanity.” Not all of it.

 

IN ORDER TO BE UNIFIED YOU HAVE TO NOTICE OTHERS; YOU CAN’T HELP OTHERS IF YOU EXIST IN YOUR OWN BUBBLE

Last Monday I talked about women’s anger and this week, I’m talking about unity. Sort of.

Audre Lorde wrote in Eye to Eye, “Sometimes exploring our differences feels like marching out into war.”

But sometimes just noticing each other seems almost impossible. You would think in the world of social media that we would come into more contact with difference, but that’s not always the case.

Divides are not new. The divide between parties or political ideologies, between races or genders or class or religion or ways of loving, is old and it morphs. Us humans seem to like ‘sides’ and ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and teams. There are some really interesting studies by the Pew Research Center that talk about political polarization.

But the divide doesn’t have to be all that happens. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to think/be/do the same things. Unity doesn’t have to be forced homogeneity. Neither does love.

But that can’t happen if we only live in polarities.

And it can’t happen if we only know about people who fit our own demographics and psychographics. It can’t happen when we only know what’s going on with people who look/think/live like us.

We have to notice and respect other people’s experiences.

THE FACEBOOK POST

Yesterday, a post went around Facebook asking women to black out their photos for a specific reason.

Tomorrow, female blackout from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Its a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women … It’s for a project against domestic abuse. It is no joke. Share it

My Post-16

Typos are not mine for a change. 🙂

The originators wanted everyone to be silent and to make their profile pictures a black box, like the one above. According to Forbes, the chain message actually began in 2017. It’s surfaced a few times and picked up steam last weekend.  Since yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of my friends shift their profile picture to a square and then switch back. I’ve seen blog posts and status updates about how this is actually silencing us as women and silencing our voices and how we should be roaring instead of silent.

I appreciate that.

But there was a bit more going on yesterday, too.

MARCHES FOR BLACK WOMEN

Yesterday was also part of a weekend full of Marches for Black Women. Here’s a post about it from Bustle. According to the website, “The physical, financial, and social enrichment of the nation-state at the expense of Black bodies and at the expense of Black lives is too old a strategy, and Black women will not allow for it.

These marches  are happening on an important date in U.S. history. It’s the anniversary of the Elaine Massacres where it’s estimated that over 200 were killed as a response to unionizing, which white landowners found threatening.

And the thing is that I know that my white friends who were upset about domestic violence and I know that my liberal friends who are upset about the Kavanaugh hearings wouldn’t want to be complicit in not amplifying black voices let alone ignoring them. But I don’t think they knew about the marches this weekend. I bet many of us don’t know about the Elaine Massacres.  Our ignorance might not be intentional, but it’s there. And what message does it give to WOC when we’re saying, “Hey, let’s all be quiet on this day that you chose to march, to shout out your needs, to put yourself front and center.”

It sends a really strong message even when it’s unintentional.

LOOKING OUTSIDE OUR BUBBLES

And we need to do better. We need to educate ourselves and look outside our bubbles. We need to be outraged not just about white women, but about the treatment of all women. We need to hear voices that come from backgrounds that are not our own and from needs that are not our own. Even when it’s hard.

“Mainstream Communication does not want women, particularly white women, responding to racism. It wants racism to be accepted as an immutable given in the fabric of your existence, living evening time or the common cold.”—Audre Lorde. “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” Sister Outsider. Crossing Press Berkley. 1984. Originally published as the keynote presentation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Storrs, Connecticut, June 1981

Racism should not be a given, not in our culture, not in our own selves.

 

My dad was right about a lot of things, but especially about being an ally and recognizing that your experience isn’t everyone else’s.

In this age of social media, it’s so important to remember that, and to be aware that there are other voices out there, many ways to be disenfranchised, and caring about those other voices doesn’t mean you aren’t taking care of yourself. It means we raise each other up as we all attempt to rise up to greater heights and understandings and a better world for everyone.

But don’t be silent or call for silence. Because it doesn’t make us stronger. It makes us unheard.

 

tumblr_o6ufn9aEi41rzzhceo1_500

Obviously, there is a time for silence – when you are listening to other people, to the disenfranchised and not pushing your words and agenda into their space. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about choosing group silence as the disenfranchised/oppressed group while those in power still talk, write, and are heard.

Some Resources

Some really good stories about America’s First Black Women’s Club are here

If you are interested in reading more kid lit with Black voices, check out the Brown Bookshelf.

If you’d like to read some really good speeches, check out here (Mary Church Terrell). 

And finally, for more about Audre Lorde, check out the Audre Lorde Project.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought will be up tomorrow. Check it out, like and subscribe!

Five Ways to Write Happy
Five Ways to Write Happy

 

Talk to Me, Baby! Dialogue Help on Writing Tip Wednesday

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and today we’re talking about talking.

What’s that mean?

Dialogue, baby. It’s that magic place where the characters get to speak for themselves.

So, the number one tip is super obvious, but yet… so many of us don’t do it.

SAY YOUR DIALOGUE

Out loud.

 

That’s easy enough, right? But actually listen to how the words sound. Is it awkward? Too perfect? Is someone saying an 895-word sentence?

Think about the breath units.

Wait. Breath units? What’s that?

A breath unit is how many syllables are read in one breath. You breathe at periods and commas and punctuation marks, right?

So, if your dialogue sentences have more than 20 syllables? It’s going to be cruddy. If it’s all five or less? It’s going to sound cruddy too.

Poets use this writing tool and think about this all the time. Fiction writers should too because the cadence of your words and your writing matters AND because you should have as many tools in your tool box as possible.

Once you know the tools, you can break the rules for dramatic effect. Stephen King often writes a 100-word sentence full of long breath units and follows it with a one-breath-unit sentence-slash- paragraph for a dramatic punch.

Genius.

And I sort of did that up there.

See? This sentence is super long (40 syllables):

Stephen King often writes a 100-word sentence full of long breath units and follows it with a one-breath-unit sentence-slash- paragraph for a dramatic punch.

And followed it with this (2 syllables):

Genius.

That’s not dialogue, but it helps make it understandable, right?

And to be fair, not all people and all cultures have that typical upper middle class white person in the United States breath unit. Think of Eminem or Busta Rhymes or Tech N9ne for a second and all the words each of those men can say in one breath. Chopper-style rap has this awesome, intense emphasis on speed and pronunciation, which throws the rules of breath units out the window. Here’s a link to some fast rap examples courtesy of Red Bull.

Warning: There is profanity.

And those differences are important. It’s good to remember where the ‘rules’ come from and who they come from and also to give yourself the liberty to play with them or against them.

So, do that. Say your dialogue aloud. Play around with the breath. Think about the things your character is feeling underneath the words she’s saying.

If a cop or a werewolf is chasing your Scooby gang, they aren’t going to be eloquent and have long beat units. If they’re on drugs, giving a speech, or borderline hysterical? Those beats are going to show that.

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Freeport, Maine on Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

I’ll be hanging with a lot of other cool authors in Freeport.

Copy of A Nerdy evening with authors and illustrators (3)

 

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

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.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.