To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question

If you spend any time with me, you’ll notice that I’m super annoying because I don’t think there is one right way to do things and this is especially true about writing stories. 

Authors, however, like to think there’s a right way, a guide that is perfect for everyone that has all the happy little writing, revising and marketing steps. The hope is that if you follow those steps you become the next writing superstar or at least get a full request from an agent. 

The rules that we love, the guidelines and the steps? They don’t work for everyone or even one person all the time. And this is true about outlining too. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. Some of us are apathetic. Some of us love it for one book and hate it for the next. 

That’s all okay.

But here are some things about outlining. 

  1. It doesn’t need to be all formal with bullet points.
  2. It can actually be fun for some people. 
  3. It can force inspiration sometimes. 
  4. It is usually big picture and is the big details and allows you to be creative in the execution and focus more (sometimes) on sentence structure and word choice.
  5. It helps keep you from writing 120,000 words before you realize you have no plot. 
  6. You can get a good idea of your plot structure and you can fix that before you write 123,000 words. 
  7. Helps with that big-picture pacing.
  8. Let’s you know where you’re at when you’re writing that first draft and can help you not pull out your hair when you’re freaking out that you’re nowhere near done when you’re actually pretty close.

If you all are into this, I can post about how to start an outline. Just let me know, okay?

Continue reading “To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question”

Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?

Forced Rhyme Moments

I was recently helping a poet/author who was worried about forced rhyme moments and then she realized she wasn’t absolutely sure what ‘forced rhyme’ even met.

So, here’s a bit of rundown on ways we can all force our rhymes. 

Weird Phrasing.

The most common way picture book editors balk at forced rhymes is when the author rearranges the phrase or sentence so that the rhyme comes at the end but the whole thing sounds unnatural. Like this: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            With you, I like the sun. 

Look at me! I’m unnatural.

Normally, it would be in natural conversational U.S. English: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            I like the sun.

The ‘with you’ wouldn’t even be there because of the ‘we.’ We just shove that on to make it rhyme, which is why we call it forced. J I love imagining all of us poet-people brandishing our mugs of tea and pens and screaming, “Rhyme, damn it! I force you!” 

Random bits

The other big thing that happens in picture books is we stick random information into the story just to make a rhyme. 

I like manatees. I think they’re great. 

My aunt got sick from a tomato she ate. 

This is pretty cute, actually.

So, if the rest of the book was about manatees, then that line about the aunt wouldn’t make sense, right? That’s another example of a forced rhyme. 

Making a Big Long Line

I did this so much when I was young and I still have to hold my typing hands back because it’s what I ALWAYS WANT TO DO. I would make a really big line to get a rhyme in. 

            I was working over at the Dairy Joy,

            Just minding my own business, scooping the scoops, when I finally scoped out this boy. 

Most of my grade-school poems were about being in love with random imaginary humans

Anyway, if the rest of the couplets are short, then this looks silly and forced. 

Almost But Not Quite

Another big thing people do is the almost but not quite there rhyme. They call this a slant rhyme or a half rhyme. Poets actually use this on purpose all the time. Here’s an example that I pasted from the web. It’s a poem called “To My Wife” by George Wolff 

If love is like a bridge
or maybe like a grudge,
and time is like a river
that kills us with a shiver,
then what have all these mornings meant
but aging into love?
What now is straight must have been bent;
what now is whole must have been rent.
My hand is now your glove.”

George Wolff

Wrenched rhymes

This happens when the words rhyme, but different syllables are stressed like here where the stress goes on the first syllable of laughing so on the laugh and not on the ing: 

I was laughing

            On the swing.

Random pretend poem

So, there you go. A tiny little lesson (Lesson? It sounds so formal!) about forced rhymes. Remember force is not cool. Talk to your poems, chill with them, let them decide to hang out with you.

Continue reading “Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?”

So You Want to Be Part of a Writing Community?

So, starting in August, I’m teaching another six-month Write! Submit! Support class at the fantastic Writing Barn.

If you click on the link, you get to the direct info about the program.

Write. Submit. Support. for Novelists with Carrie Jones ONLINE

This six-month course offers structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions. We offer support whether you’re submitting to agents or, if agented, you’re weathering submissions to editors. We discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, the feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more.

Write. Submit. Support. Mission: To empower writers,  pre-published or published, as well as the instructor, to embrace the many joys and challenges of leading a literary life. Scholarship opportunities available! Read more about the history and philosophy of Write. Submit. Support!

Success Stories come out of the connections made in WSS.

“I understand that not everyone has buckets of money to put toward workshops and courses, but when I think about my times in WSS I always consider the results: the fact that I received a book deal, with an actual advance, less than a year later…WOW! I understand that not everyone cares about that kind of result, but I did and I achieved it. Carrie, my WSS instructor, understood my goal and gave me a lot of practical help and advice, right down to how to format the manuscript for submission.” -Cathy Carr, now agented with Rachel Orr and 365 Days to Alaska forthcoming with Abrams  

I promise, I did not pay her to say that.

Find out if WSS is right for you at this FREE WEBINAR on Thursday July 23rd, from 7-8:30pm CDT.Founder Bethany Hegedus will share an inspiring talk on the literary life and will be joined by WSS instructors/TA’s, plus past and present WSS writers who will answer all your burning questions!

This is a great opportunity to meet this session’s faculty, talk with previous students about their growth throughout the program and participate in some inspirational activities led by Bethany Hegedus. *If you cannot attend live, no need to worry! All registrants will receive a video playback of the event!
Register Now!

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 244,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode link! It’s about dirty feet and archetypes. Sexy! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with writer Holly Schindler!

This week’s link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce

This week’s link to Ronni’s interview.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things outside of the Writing Barn. Find out more here. 

Writing Tip Wednesday: Finding Your Big Wonder

The Big Wonder

So, stories tend to need that internal motivator/quest/motivation to keep their plot chugging forward and to keep the reader engaged. As you know, I talk about desire lines way too much, which are all about the emotional through-line for the characters in our stories, but another way to think about the internal motivation is to think of it as the Big Wonder or Big Question. 

Tom French calls this the engine of the story. And it’s these questions that make the readers keep reading.

In a mystery, it’s obvious: Who did it?

In a thriller, it’s usually: Will they survive?

In a romance, it’s often: Will they bang and will they bang forever?

Or it can be a how question. How will Captain America stop Hydra because you know he will.

How will the people in those 50 Shades books hook up now because you know they will. 

Those essential plot questions keep us reading and going because humans like answers. We like winners and losers and to know things in definite ways. That’s why sports are so popular. Almost always, one team loses or one person wins. 

But back to stories. 

When you are writing, not only do you have the big plot, you oftten have subplots and their questions, which are like the baby engines that keep the story edging forward. They are like back-up generators, I guess. I’m not the best with mechanical allusions, honestly. Sorry! 

In each subplot, there has to be something important at stake. If you have a book, divided by two narrators of equal importance, they each need to have a question that happens in their story and a stake. 

So, a good thing to do is to look at your story that you’re working on and ask yourself: 

Is there a big question going on right here? 

Is the answer super obvious? 

If the answer is super obvious, will the how of what happens be a wee bit less super obvious? 

If you have subplots, do those have questions, too? 

Good luck writing, writers! 

And if you think about your life, does it have those big wonders? Are you moving towards the things that motivate you? Do you already hold them in your hands? Do they shine through everything you do? You’re the hero of your own story so make sure that you’re going towards those big wonders, too.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 233,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.

Last week’s bonus episode with Anne Marie Pace, author of Vampirina Ballerina.

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things. 


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.

Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences

Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences

 
 
00:00 / 00:18:59
 
1X
 

As we do this podcast, the United States is full of protests and pain, Covid-19 is still happening, people are being hurt, people are dying. So, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to process and worry about so for this podcast we’re going to focus on a simple writing tip. 

Ready?

Story is made up of sentences. You want your sentences to be strong. Strong sentences stem from their beginnings. When the beginning sucks, the whole foundation can suck. 

It sounds like a metaphor for a government, doesn’t it? 

Anyways, in English, you want the strongest words on the left-hand side of the sentence. 

Strength comes from the beginning of the sentences and the rest of the words branch out from there. So what are the strongest words you want to put on the left side? 

Nouns and verbs. They are our friends, our battle weapons. Nouns and verbs ignite the fires of imagination. 

Here’s an example of a sentence that’s pretty long, but strong because it begins with solid words: 

Reporters collapsed after cops in riot gear shot rubber pellets directly at their cameraman and on-scene correspondent last night in Louisville, making them understand a little bit more the systemic violence and dehumanization that can happen when power is in the hands of few elements of society. White people weren’t used to that especially not reporters used to watching as others lose their rights, are crushed beneath knees and vehicle wheels and arrested without cause. 

Random nonpolitical sentence.

Sentences don’t always have to branch. Sentences pack powerful punches even when shortened if they begin with a subject-verb one-two punch.

When we put a lot of distance between the subject and verb, we can confuse the reader. 

When we hide the subject underneath layers of clauses? We show the reader how unimportant the subject is to us. The subject of the sentence is important and should matter. 

I feel like that’s a not too heavily cloaked way of saying people matter. Rage happens when injustices never stop. Rage happens when the punishments don’t fit the crime and when nobody hears your voice. 

We hope your voice is heard. We hope you get to be the subject of a lot of sentences and not buried under purple prose and wordage. Make your sentences strong, but make other people’s sentences strong too.   

Writing Tip of the Pod

Look at your writing. Where are your verbs? Where are your nouns/subjects? Are they in powerful places together? Put them there, damn it. 

Dog Tip for Life

Remember the structures that make your life, your community, your family. Are your subjects next to the verbs? How can you make them stronger?


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 230,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.


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.

How to Make a Good Book Better

I am currently being whipped down into one of Dante’s lower circles of hell due to:

  • 1. My deadline crunch on a million things.
  • 2. My dog who has decided that something evil is in the lot behind our house and she must press her body into mine at all times in order to keep me safe. She simultaneously barks while doing this. It is making writing a little – um – difficult? Have I mentioned that she’s a large dog? 
I love my people. I protect them with my furry charm and big bark.

Here are some things I (should) think about when I’m revising. Hopefully, they’ll help you out, too.


I’ve taken them from James Plath’s article “Twenty-One Tweaks to a Better Tale.” 

1. Does the beginning need to be an ending?



Sometimes our beginnings stink. 

Beginnings need to be:
powerful
witty
stunning

This could be a powerful piece of dialogue, a witty description or a stunning scene. 

Sometimes we writers have to amp up, sort of rev our engines before we start the race of the story. 

My engine is revving. Shh…..


Side note: Some of us never get started.

It’s okay to cross entire paragraphs or a chapter out. 

2. Check Out How It Ends



Just like a beginning needs to be powerful or witty or stunning to draw us in like a really good appetizer, the ending has to linger (not in the way heartburn lingers). The ending has to resonate.

Is there a way to echo earlier images or words or a phrase so that it has that extra kick, making the reader realize that there are deeper things going on, that there is a deeper meaning, that this story or poem somehow touches on the truth that is life. 


3. Make Love to the Image

Have an image that resonates throughout the story. In the movie, Brokeback Mountain, it’s when one guy is hugging the other guy from behind him or it’s when he says, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” 

Think about a book like Carolyn Coman’s MANY STONES or THE HOBBIT or CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. There are central images in there. Do that. Use an image. A strong image will keep your story in readers’ memories. 

4. Is the right person telling the tale?


I mean, I have often written gothic murder love stories from the point of view of Barney the Dinosaur, but it never seems to work. Have you had this problem too? 

Do not be afraid to switch that tale teller to Baby Bop.

I giggle! I am Baby Bop! 

5. Is your narrator talking to him/herself too much?


My former teacher and amazing writer-man Tim Wynne Jones once yelled at me (via email and in a lovely way) because I stopped a fight scene to have the narrator look at her Snoopy shoes. 

Dude. That is just not cool. 


Don’t have the character talk too much internally, but don’t have them not talk at ALL internally because then they are just robotic or perhaps a little shallow.

Nobody wants to read a whole novel from Barney’s point-of -view. It is not super-dee-duper. 


So get some internal monologue in there. 

Everything is super-dee-duper, writers! If a purple dino can dance and have his own tv show then you can revise! 

6. Do you have enough people in your story? Too many? 


I once wrote a story with three characters in it. It even actually won an award, which had actual money attached to it, but it did not get published.

Of course, my agent hasn’t submitted it, but that’s probably because it’s soooooooooo thin. A story with too few characters is like going out to dinner and only getting a cracker. It is not satisfying usually unless it’s a really big, yummy, super-cool cracker.

It’s the same thing with too many characters. I am one of those people who are easily confused. If there are twenty character names in the first two paragraphs I pretty much give up on the book.

Get rid of those unnecessary characters. 

It’s all about me! And my core group of friends! Sometimes you have to trim those expendables. That’s why they call them expendable. They are totally expendable. 

WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods

ART NEWS

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead

It all began with my mom freaking out about a feather.

My mom has always been afraid of birds. That fear started long before I existed and was made worse by a visit to a science museum in Boston where an owl swooped near her head and glared at her. Apparently, that powerful owl glare was enough to push her over the edge.

I wasn’t allowed to have bird feeders or stuffed animal birds. If there were robins outside on our lawn, Mom would avert her eyes and draw the shades in the windows.

My mother’s fear of birds grew so big that she screeched when I was four years old and proudly brought a peacock feather home from a nursery school field trip to a wild animal farm. I was so psyched about this feather, which I won by answering a bunch of animal questions correctly.

The feather made me feel super smart for the first time in my little life. It was my prize and my reward and I was the only one in the whole nursery school who received one. It was like a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer in my four-year-old head. It was such a super big deal and I knew — I just was absolutely positive — that my mom would be psyched and put it on the wall and maybe frame it or something while she announced to all her friends, “My youngest daughter, Carrie? She is so smart. So smart, I tell you! See this feather? It proves it.”

When I presented the coveted prize to my mom, she screamed and made me throw the feather outside.

“Get it out! Get that dirty thing out of our house!” she yelled. Actually, she screeched.

I remember pivoting in our heavily wooded, dark kitchen, running out to the screened-in porch, and into our yard. I took the peacock feather to a giant boulder where I played deserted island and Wizard of Oz and all my lonely made-up games, and I climbed up to the top of the rock.

Once there, I kissed the feather, the dirty thing, goodbye. I cried because it was so beautiful and I won it and then I had to let it go.

I let that beautiful feather go. I didn’t hold onto it the way we tend to hold onto our fears. It is just so hard to let go of our fears. That’s especially true for my poor mom who wouldn’t go to friends’ houses if they had birds in cages. She hated the beach because birds were at the beach. Every year black birds would hang out on our front lawn during their migration. There would be hundreds of them. She’d call in sick to work. Her fear held her back over and over again.

Years after the peacock incident, my mom ran screaming from a park where we were having a picnic with my daughter who was then two. A seagull had come too close. Too close was about a football field away.

When I caught up with my mom, she was standing in the doorway of a local restaurant, shaking.

“Don’t judge me!” she said. She was reapplying her lipstick with a shaking hand.

I grabbed her hand in mine because the lipstick application was not going well.

“I’m not judging you,” I told her, “but I don’t want Em to grow up afraid.”

That’s when I realized that my mom missed out on so much of life even though she was the liveliest, absolutely most alive person I knew. She missed out because she listened to her fear.

My daughter grew up to study Krav Maga in Israel, to apply and get in to Harvard, to become a field artillery officer in the Army. She’s jumped off roofs at stunt camp, log rolled, rock climbed, was the flyer of her cheerleading squad. She is known for picking up birds that she finds in parking lots, shopping centers, and bringing them to safety.

She is bold and unafraid most of the times. She’s not a fan of spiders, but she deals with them. Even when she is afraid, she faces her fears, snarls at them, and tells them to stand down.

She made my poor mom’s heart race and palpitate more than once.

Even for those of us who don’t have phobias like my Mom, the biggest fears that we have are often the ones about not being enough, not smart enough, not loved enough, just not enough. Of failure. Of being imperfect. Of being alone. There are so many fears we punish ourselves with. But we don’t have to listen to those fears. We can face the fears, see them for what they are and ignore the fears’ advice to cower, to yell, to blame, to run away.

My mother was afraid of a feather.

A feather.

And our fears? The ones we hold inside of us? The ‘not good enough’ moments that feel so dam real? They are even less substantial than that feather.

That’s right. Those fears are not even as heavy as a feather, nowhere near as substantial. Still, we let them hurt us and hold us back.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to let them hold you back.

Here’s the other thing: You can’t ignore your fear and you can’t give in to it. You have to jump headlong into the scariness and embrace the fear and snarl at it and know what it is. What is it? Fear is that voice that rings so loudly in your brain telling you what to do or what not to do. When you refuse to listen to it? That’s when you win.

You can beat your fears.

What are you afraid of? What makes you shake and cower? Not your phobias. But your fears. Are you afraid of failing so much that you don’t try to succeed? Bankruptcy? Not being loved? Commitment? Being evil? Being good? Being taken advantage of? Taking advantage of others? Face them head on because those fears are keeping you from being your best self.

I’m trying to be my best self. I fail a lot! So much! But I hope you’ll grab my hand even when it’s shaking and try with me. I think we can do this. Together.

Email or comment if you want to say hi and talk about it, okay?

Latest podcast is here!


Continue reading “Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead”

Don’t Vomit in the Taxi and How to Tell a Good Story in Three Quick Steps

Don’t Vomit in the Taxi and How to Tell a Good Story in Three Quick Steps

 
 
00:00 / 00:19:52
 
1X
 

This week Carrie was in Georgia hanging out with her daughter who had just had an operation. Her daughter is fine! Anyways, on the way to the airport at 4 a.m., the taxi driver told her story after story, mostly about the drunk people from Fort Benning who had ridden in his cab. 

He was an amazing story teller and I realized that sometimes writing is just like telling a big anecdote. And you don’t want to be boring. We all know the people who have super boring anecdotes that just go on and on, right? You don’t want to be that person! 

The Three Quick and Simple Steps For Telling a Good Anecdote or writing a Good Story

Hook them in

This is the attention grabber. 

Tell an actual story

Tell a real story, not just a bunch of random details. Let it have a beginning, a middle and an end. 

Give a Moment to Let the Message Sink In

Your story has a point, right? Let us understand what that point is. Don’t rush the ending. Show how your anecdote or your novel or your story reflects a bigger piece of life. Let it resonate. 


Writing Tip of the Pod

Give your story a point. 

Dog Tip for Life

Do whatever you can to get their attention. Hook them in. 

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.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.


Big News!

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods

ART NEWS

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Cloud the Kitten in a Bucket’s Thursday Inspiration and Some Links to Things

Cloud in a bucket

Good morning!

Today is a good day to explore, jump in a bucket, hang out there like a cat boss, and jump out when you’re ready.

It’s a good day to love, and to be love.

It’s a good day to be you.

You is pretty awesome.

You’ve got this.

xo

Cloud the Kitten

COOKING WITH AN AUTHOR

This week’s Cooking With an Author – vegetarian recipes with a quirky, author twist is here. It’s all about hangover burritos. You do not have to be hungover or to ever have had alcohol to enjoy them.

Burritos
Writer recipes

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

Last week’s podcast

This week’s podcast link.


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

Continue reading “Cloud the Kitten in a Bucket’s Thursday Inspiration and Some Links to Things”

Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?

When I was growing up in Bedford, New Hampshire, humor was something that was somehow cultivated in our school system and in my family. To put it into context, Bedford is where Sarah and Laura Silverman, Josh and Seth Myers all grew up. Adam Sandler spent a few formative years in Manchester, the big city next door. New Hampshire, the state where the motto is “Live free or die” was somehow a funny place. 

Who knew? 

Maybe it has to be funny with a motto like that? Where hard granite peeks out beneath the soil almost anywhere you go? 

I grew up thinking women laughing and women making jokes was absolutely normal. In my family, we laughed at anything and everything even when we were desperately poor, even when one of us is dying in the ICU. We laugh. 

Glamorous Moments Gone Wrong

One of my favorite stories that I tell about myself is when I got a prestigious award for my first young adult novel. I received the award, preening, went back to my seat thinking “I have finally made it! I’m not a goofball anymore. I got an award! Look at me! I’m a serious writer now.”

Two seconds into my glorious preening, the emcee for the event (the governor’s wife) yelled into the microphone, “Carrie! Carrie! I forgot to ask you. What high school do you go to?”

There were titters in the crowd. Someone gasped. Someone other than me actually. My heart stopped. Did this woman who just gave me an award think that I was actually in high school? 

I blurted, “What? Me? I don’t go to high school. I’m old!” 

Apparently, she thought the genre of young adult could only be written by young adults? Or maybe she was drunk. I don’t know. I do know that I turned bright red and people laughed really hard. 

Things People Say

Recently someone said to me, “You laugh a lot during your podcast.”

And I said (brilliantly), “Yeah?”

“You laugh really loud.” 

“I always laugh loud,” I said. “I commit.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s just really loud for a woman.” 

For a woman?

According to an article by Jennifer Crusie, “Happily Ever Laughter: Writing Romantic Comedy for Women,” there’s a political element to comments like that one. 

“The biggest barrier to writing women’s humor is the intrinsic belief that Good Girls don’t laugh. Ever hear a woman laugh out loud – really loud – in public? Chances are your first reaction was, ‘She’s no lady.’” 

She’s No Lady

Oops. Apparently every single time I find things funny or joyous or ridiculous I’m losing my lady status. Judging by the amount of times that I laugh, I probably lost that when I was five. I’m cool with that. 

Crusie continues, writing, “A woman’s laugher not only tells the world she knows, it also communicates strength and confidence. A woman must be very sure of herself to make the joke, to tell the story and to laugh out loud knowing people will stare. She must be proud, strong and confident.” 

To laugh is to defy the norm, the social constructs that tell us in this culture how ladies are meant to behave. 


Crusie extols writers to write funny women, women who make the readers laugh with them, women who laugh with rather than laughing down. 

So how do you do that? 

Crusie suggests the following: 

  1. Base your humor on common experiences, things other women can relate to.
  2. Laugh with not at
  3. Let your protagonist use humor when she feels scared. Let her use it like a shield
  4. Give your protagonist friends to be funny with. 

People who write humor are like poets. I know! I know? What am I talking about. Funny writers and poets only succeed because they are truth seekers and truth-sayers. They take the mundane, the detailed, the ridiculous and turn it into something universal. They notice things and then they stop to reflect on it. 

So be funny. Be brave enough to laugh out loud in your books and in your life. Let the people stare. 


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

Continue reading “Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?”