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.

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

Moe Berg

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

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

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

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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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!

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!

Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

There’s this Buzzfeed article , or Listicle, that gives moments where people were kind to strangers. Gasp! I know, right? Kind to actual strangers?  And we talk about this in our podcast, but it’s also kind of a silly concept as if there are only “21 moments” where this happens, or as if it isn’t sometimes easier to be kind to strangers rather than to the people who torture you daily aka your family.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

So, what do these beautiful moments of kindness have to do with writing?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Remember that kindness, that telling moment of giving or empathy? T. hat makes the characters you write so much more likable. You root for characters who take care out of others.

Search the world and your life for those random moments. Use them in your writing.

Be the flamingo of change. Don’t be afraid to be innovative, to be quirky, to be kind. We all tend to resist personal change, remember that when you’re writing your characters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

I bet you know where we’re going here.

Be kind. Be the stranger who helps. Don’t guard your bones, man. Don’t growl away your opportunities to be kind.

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

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

 

Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

 
 
00:00 / 00:20:41
 
1X
 

Tips For Making a Thriller

Tips for Making a Thriller

 

It’s writing tip Wednesday and I’m going to have some fast tips this week and next about making thrillers. Yes, you know those stories that make your heart pound with anxiety, where you aren’t sure what will happen next, where you are secretly saying, “Who comes up with this?”

Here are the pointers!

Structure Matters

 

First, structure. Thrillers have pretty dynamic structures that escalate throughout the story. And there have been a million people who have written about this well and even created diagrams.

 

Blake Snyder wrote “Save the Cat” and talks all about beats for a story, breaking the structure down into sweet, tangible bites. You should check it out.  https://timstout.wordpress.com/story-structure/blake-snyders-beat-sheet/

Make it matter for your hero/protagonist person

 

Seriously. The stakes have to be high for the hero to jump through all the hoops she has to jump through to make things right. Her stakes should be personal and high.

Make the clock tick

 

If you only have 23 hours to save your puppy, things are going to be even more charged up.

Do a Raymond Chandler

 

Raymond Chandler said, “When things slow down, bring in a man with a gun.”

 

It doesn’t have to be a gun. It doesn’t have to be a man. Just have something super exciting happen that’s somewhat shocking.

 

A wolf leaps into the room.

A robot hand breaks through the wall.

A woman screams.

Cardi B shows up at your character’s doorstep.

Big Foot serenades your character from outside the window.

Let the Bad Guy Make Sense (to himself)

 

When you are good, evil doesn’t make much sense, but that’s because we are seldom the villains in our own stories, right? The bad guy’s actions need to make sense to him. Plus, it will make your readers think, “Oh… I have a little sympathy going on. What’s that mean?”

 

Just like any major character, it makes sense to really understand who your villain is. It keeps him from being two-dimensional. Nobody wants a flat character.

 

Writing News

 

Appearance

I’m going to be hanging out at the Augusta Civic Center (Maine) on Saturday, Sept. 8 as part of a Maine Literacy event. It’s open to the public and cool. It’s from 10-2.

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.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!

Writing Tips Wednesday: What’s Love Got to Do With It? Romance.

One of the biggest complaints editors and agents give writers is that they don’t believe the romance.

Gasp!

I know, right?

How can they not believe that our two heroes are fated for each other, the modern equivalent of Achilles and Patroklos?

What is wrong with them?

Well, usually, they don’t believe in the romance because of these five things. Are you ready? Here we go:

 

It’s insta-love.

Love and relationships aren’t usually quick-time things. It’s not like you can make a relationship in the time it takes to microwave your tea. You want to give the readers and your characters a bit of time to know each other. Think boil the water in the tea kettle versus heat up a mug of water in the microwave.

Love takes time, usually. You have to work for it.

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The love interest is too perfect.

Is there such a thing as too perfect in real-life romance? Only if that perfection is hiding a sociopath. Try to remember that the love interest needs to be three-dimensional, too. A perfect person doesn’t really exist. Flaws are interesting. Flaws are also believable. Make your love interest flawed.

Peter_Perfect

Actually, everyone is too perfect.

Here’s the thing: everyone in the world isn’t a constant Instagram post full of soft lighting, best chins forward and romantic settings. People have scars. People have flaws. Those people? They deserve love too and it’s powerful when they get it. Make your characters have issues, crusts, cracked edges. Make them real so that us real folk can believe that we’re worthy of love, too.

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The world is too easy and so is their love.

Romance needs to have plot. Plot needs to have conflict. The world your lovers are in needs to be… Well, it needs to not be too easy for our little lovebirds. How do you make it not easy?

  1. Make them want things that don’t work well together. One wants to be a Twitter Influencer. One wants to hermit. That sort of thing.
  2. They are far apart, separated by distance somehow.
  3. Jerks abound. Yeah, just like in real-life there can be human obstacles to their love.

All that tension makes their romance so much more worth it at the end.

landscape-1498059396-new-ken-dolls

The Cliché

Avoid the characters that are just – well, stereotypes and tropes. How many strong women stories end up with them suddenly being helpless and having to be rescued by a man? How many strong men stories end up with them having to open up to love and stop their drifter ways.

Same goes for setting. Oh, look, it’s a remote but beautiful Vermont town on a snowy winter’s night. Oh, look, they are trapped there. Oh, look, it’s a sexy beach full of wealthy people doing wealthy people things.

Try to think outside the box. Hey! That’s one right there!

Make your characters and settings better than tropes. Make them real.

That’s truly the secret: make your characters as real as possible.

What-is-cliche-Oxford-definition

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

 

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Writing Prompts For the Weird

Carrie’s brain is not the sort of brain that needs writing prompts.

Carrie: I’m just weird. My brain needs constraints. Like when I wrote poetry, I loved forms like sonnets and sestinas and villanelles because they put limits and structure on my somewhat all-over-the-place brain. 

But other people – thankfully – aren’t like that and they look for writing prompts to free up their muse and their selves. There’s something really cool about the way a writing prompt can spark your creativity off into a different direction.

And honestly, the weirder the writing prompt the better. Here are some examples:

CAMPSITE: You are in an old abandoned campsite. Describe it.

GOOGLE IMAGE YOUR FIRST NAME: Write about what you see.

ODE TO A HAMSTER: Write an ode to a rodent.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Be weird. Being normal makes normal stories. Anyone can write a story about a woman who cheats on her husband and her kid gets kidnapped because that’s a cliche, but can anyone write a story about a hamster that cheats on her husband and the hamster wheel goes missing and the people of their house gets kidnapped? I think not.

Dog Tip for Life: The best way to get a writing prompt is to get a dog (preferably a rescue) and they will provide you with nonstop writing prompts.

Shout Out – The music clips in this podcast are available thanks to Podington Bear’s generosity. The track is “Azzmash Reflash.”

Random ExtraThe video clip of Gabby acting weird while we were podcasting is right here!

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.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!

Writing Prompts For the Weird

 
 
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Don’t Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

So, when you read a book, and you remember a book, a lot of the time it isn’t the plot that you’re remembering. It’s the character that has held you enthralled.

Plots are super important, but it’s the character that things are happening to that really hold the plot together.

A lot of stories fail because their main character is… Well, he’s boring. She’s a bit blah. There’s nothing about them that stands out.

We remember the people who are larger the life. I know we’ve talked about it before, but it’s so important. Make your characters outrageous. Make them wild. We all love Captain America, but he’s not quite as memorable as The Hulk or Iron Man.

Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast
How to hook readers with kick-butt memorable characters

Elements that Can Make a Character Larger than Life

Strength and Inner Struggle –

The Hulk is memorable because he has this intense inner struggle against his own rage and helplessness, but he also morphs into this huge beast with great strength.

Wit –

Funny characters are hard to write, but they are so memorable. Iron Man, Deadpool, whoever it is Chris Pratt plays in Guardian of the Galaxies – those guys are funny. We remember them more than Hawkeye (in the movies) because they are so funny. Plus, they’ve had stand-alone movies. Poor Hawkeye.

Self-Sacrifice –

The savior is memorable. That ultimate self-sacrificing hero like Captain America ends up being memorable even though his inner struggle isn’t all that. Why? Because he’s a higher form of hero. He’s good. He’s so good.

Sigh.

Dog Tip For Life: Don’t be the stereotype. Be authentic.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Don’t be afraid to build the biggest, coolest character you can build.

Shout Out – The music clips in this podcast are available thanks to Podington Bear’s generosity. The track is “Azzmash Reflash.”

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

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 my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

My Post copy 6

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

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

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

Don’t Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

 
 
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The Secret to Writing Good Stories

Interesting people and interesting stories don’t happen without a little worry and some pain. It’s about living through emotion, through the tear-soaked nights where you’re sweating over your existence. It’s about fear of being alone, or unloved, or unliked – and risking it anyways, just embracing who you are and your lack of chill and going after your passion.

Writing and living are about joy and they are about pain. And the most interesting people are the explorers.

This is something I try to remind myself when I’m freaking out inside. I remind myself to face my fears, to be an explorer, to not run away from the interesting.

But I know that the secret to writing good stories is understanding yourself, and your relationship to other people. It’s about living despite fear and trying to understand people and their own inner worlds, the ones that suck them dry and make them proud, the things that make them sweat instead of sleeping, their dreams, the broken dreams and the ones that they still might fulfill.

And to do that? You’ve got to do two things:

  1. Listen.
  2. Be brave.

Last week, I went into a bar in Portland, Maine. It was this dive-bar type place where you could get two beers for $7, which in Portland is super cheap because normally one beer costs about $700… or something.

But that’s not the point of the story.

When I went into the bar, I sort of wanted to turn around and leave.

True admission time: I’m not a bar person. Like even in college, I only went to a bar twice. Both times were disasters. One involved me hitting on a narc officer, which was the first and only time I’ve ever hit on someone. THAT IS HOW BADLY IT WENT! The other bar visit involved me hiding under a table for… Well, for a really long time.

Secret: It is pretty beer-floor sticky and old gum disgusting under bar tables.

So, me wanting to leave a bar is not a new thing. But this Portland bar? This was the bar of short stories in the New Yorker, Hemingway, and Raymond Carver.  There were no hipsters. The place had a pool table, scarred from fights and bad hits. The only other decoration was a giant mirrored Miller Lite sign on the wall.  It had a really skinny, old man bartending who wobbled a bit while he poured and repositioned his man parts with his hand before he put a straw in the owner’s glass.

When I came in, three guys at the far end of the bar were talking to each other about women and um… making babies…? I’m not sure how to phrase that delicately. But it wasn’t about delicately making babies; that’s for sure.

They stopped talking when I came into sight because I am not full of testosterone. Anyways, it was a weird scene. But at the end of my one beer, the bartender was talking and offered a piece of his recent history.

On the back of his head was a huge scar, just congealed and thick and rough looking.

“I fell down Tuesday. I was getting a smoke and I stepped off the curb and wham… Stepped wrong. I had some booze in me, too, but my legs aren’t so good anymore and I wobble,” he said. He showed me his scar. “It bled all over the place. My daughter’s studying to be a lawyer and she’s so mad at me because I wouldn’t go to the hospital. The EMT guys when they came? They were like, ‘You have to stop smoking so we can work on you,’ and I was like pointing at the blood pouring down my face and I was, ‘Hey, man, I went through a lot to get this cigarette lit. Can I have two drags?’ And they said that I could.”

My Post-4

He smiled. He shrugged. He pointed at the massive scar on the back of his head again and laughed at himself.

Here’s a guy who listens to other people’s stories all day, stuck in the stifling, hot building, prowling behind a bar as the Portland tourists pretty much snub their noses, peeking in and gasping, heading for trendier places. Portland was just named best restaurant city in the U.S. by Bon Appetit or some magazine like that. There are a lot of trendier places.

But he told me his story that day. He told me about his medic son. His daughter. The way he can’t stand so well anymore. The way that sometimes he just longs to step outside the bar and have a cigarette so sometimes he does.

“But I wobble,” he said.

“We all wobble,” I offered and he looked at me. He really looked for a second, and then another.

“You get it,” he said. “You get it.”

I can only hope.

There is this beautiful weirdness that happens when you step out of your comfort zone in life and in writing.  There is nothing cooler than the delightful quirky connections that happen when you actually talk to people about themselves, the bartenders, the house cleaners, the guy who hoses out a restaurant’s grease pit, the woman who grooms dogs, the lady at the campground with what seems like 18 kids and a breast cancer plate on her truck. There is this great connection that happens in the noise and clutter of life when we just take a second to listen.

And that’s what I want when I write and when I live: I want to listen.

Writing News or Buy My Stuff, Please

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

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 my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

My Post copy 6

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

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

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

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

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

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

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

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

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

It goes on and on.

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

Don’t Do This:

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

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

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

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

Neither does the reader.

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

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

Enough said, right?

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

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

 

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

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

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

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.

Appearances

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

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

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