If I Am Dressed, I Consider It A Miracle and Other Important Writer Answers to Questions

 I have been tagged a couple times now so here goes:

Rules: Answer the questions, add one of your own if you want, then tag five of your friends. (I am skipping that part because I hate tagging. You can tag yourself and say I tagged you if you want).

1. How old were you when the craft of writing called you to perform?

I wouldn’t say I was ever ‘called’ because that makes me think of being a priest and the thought of me being a priest is just so scary that I can’t handle it. 

Although, it would be fun to wear the collar and maybe guest star in Evil.

The first thing I remember writing is a haiku in second grade for Mrs. Joyce Snearson. Her son now writes for Entertainment Weekly.

My haiku was posted on the wall because:

1. I understood what syllables were.
2. I wrote in just one sentence like she asked.
3. It did not involve Tonka trucks, Barbies or hunting.

I thought writing might be okay if you always got praise like that.

My haiku (for the record)

Spring is fun you see
Because flowers grow with rain
and robins come home.

My next big writing excursion was a Star Trek story for my brother. It did not go so well.

2. What’s your favorite writing outfit? 

If I am dressed, I consider it a miracle.

3. What computer program do you use for your writing?

Microsoft Word

4. What’s the name of your most difficult character to write?

You know the random guy in the restaurant? The one who doesn’t do anything? He’s just background noise. And then sometimes he’s in the hall at the high school, or maybe at the gas station while stuff is going on?


5. When is your favorite time of day to write? 

When I am fully awake. This sometimes never happens.

6. What’s your favorite genre?

Oh, I am a genre lover and I’ll do anything with a genre. Wait, you don’t even have to pay me, so that means……

I’m just easy.

7. What writers have inspired you the most in your career and why?

My teachers at Vermont College: TIm Wynne-Jones, Sharon Darrow, Kathi Appelt and Rita Williams-Garcia because they are:

1. Awesome writers
2. Pretty fine dancers
3. Unafraid to give generously to others
4. Cute

8. Do you think you’re smarter than a fifth grader? 

I think that depends on the fifth grader, but in general – no.

9. What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re stuck on a scene?

Walk the dogs outside and call it exercise when it’s really just standing around watching them smell things, pee on things and smell things again. All of that tugging on leashes makes me get back into that writer flow.

10. If you could give one piece of advice to your fellow writers, what would it be?

Ignore advice.

Fine. I won’t be snarky. Um….

How about:

Write the way you want to write. Write about what you want to write. Write like you, not like John Green or E. Lockhart or Angie Thomas or Miguel Syjuco or M.T. Anderson or Rita Williams Garcia or Jason Reynolds. Write like you.


I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.


On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter 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.


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 290,000 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.


I coach, have a class, and edit things. 


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.

%d bloggers like this: