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

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

Um….

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

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

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

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

But when I returned, they looked like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My favorite hints Shelley gave were actually:

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

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

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

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


Just the title cracked me up. 


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

She even lectured poetically, full of sound and beauty.

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

Julie Larios

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

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

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

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

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

Here are her questions:

Are you invested primarily in the emotion of the piece?

Are you invested in the information of the piece? 

Are you invested only in the sound of the piece?


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

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

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

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

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

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

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TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

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

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

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

So are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

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Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!

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First Tip on How to Make Your Life and Writing Life Better – Dogs are Smarter than People Podcast.

Shaun: So, Carrie’s not the best in the mornings and too much noise, clutter, extra to-do items pretty much throws her completely off her game.

Carrie: One of the reasons that the dogs and I do daily motivating thoughts on my Facebook and Twitter accounts is because it helps ground me and make me feel less cranky and stressed…. Usually. Shaun, however, is a morning person who craves noise and tropical music while I’m a Pachibel’s Cannon morning person.

Shaun: True.

Carrie: So, this week’s podcast is the first in a series of podcasts about how to make your life and your writing life better and our first tip is….

DOG TIP OF THE CAST: Just say no to the stuff you don’t want to do. You don’t have to say yes to invitations or the extra responsibilities. You don’t have to respond to every single text and/or email. You get to be in charge of these ancillary parts of your life. If you don’t want to email/text/talk to someone, there might be a really good reason why. In this life, we have a limited amount of time to expend. Expend it well. Do it on your terms. Dogs get this.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD: Yep. Same point. Write the stories that you want to, that resonate with you. Say no to the stories you think other people want you to write.  When you get rid of the baggage, the things you don’t want or need to do, you free up your mind of clutter and give it space to create.

Listen to the full podcast to hear Shaun’s random thought all about marketing – KaPerPi. It’s knowledge, awareness, public relations and public image. It’s pretty cool.

SHOUT OUT

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

Writing and Other News

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Art.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

 

Don’t Make Your Setting A Stereotype; Writing Tip Wednesday

A lot of people love where they live or where they visit, but that doesn’t mean that they can write well about that place or include that town/city/cruiseship in an authentic way in the setting of their story.

I’ll use where I live as an example.

Tons of people claim that their piece of the earth is the most beautiful, and those of us who live here on Mount Desert Island are no exception, tiny mountains lift up the center of the island creating granite vistas in deep pine woods. The coast is full of dramatic cliffs where the sides plunge into the cold, gray Atlantic Ocean.

It’s so beautiful that a million people travel all the way up the coast of Maine to visit it this summer. If you google image Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park you’ll see photo after photo of distance shots of the town or photo after photo of Sand Beach and these two mountains called the Bubbles.

The same distant landscape shots appear over and over again. But when you live here, that’s not the town, that’s not the setting. It isn’t something felt or viewed at a distance. It’s up close. It’s details. It isn’t a static image but a movie full of depth and emotion and change.

And I can tell right away when someone writes about here but they’ve either:

  1. Never visited
  2. Never talked to anyone local
  3. Spent a mere day

They’ll have the locals pronounce the town, “Bah-hah-bah.” They’ll stick in a ‘telling detail’ about the tiny town square or the carriage roads of Acadia. They’ll use a last name like “Higgins.” They will present a one-dimensional portrait of a small town that’s always beautiful.

But MDI  isn’t always beautiful, no place is, not to everyone. When we’re writing about place and including setting in a story, it’s good to remember that no matter how beautiful a place is – that’s not all there is to it. Or that your one moment there, doesn’t mean you get the whole of it, understand the big picture and nuance of the place.

Just like a character needs to have multiple dimensions, so does the setting of the story.

Mount Desert Island is a place where people write stories of fantasy and of survival, where people come to hike and bike the carriage roads and then decide to stay, choosing to live with the lobsters and deer and wild turkeys.  The main industry here is tourism and then there are two scientific laboratories, a small college, a wee hospital, and boat building places. People still lobster. People still fight fires and get arrested and work at one of the tiny grocery stores. It’s a place where churches have game night, breweries have trivia night, and there seems to be one nonprofit agency for every five year-round residents.

Every winter a lot of the town vanishes. Shops and restaurants close. Snowbirds fly south. Restaurant workers go to Florida to make money before returning again in May.

It becomes an entirely different place than it was just six months earlier when it was brimming with tourists, crowding the sidewalks, bickering over where to eat, hauling bags of t-shirts around. A century ago, Bar Harbor was the town of the Rockefellers and Pulitzers, the elite white people of the United States. A century before that, it had Wabanaki camps along the bay.

Place, like people, has dimension. Place has a past beyond our present. To be the best writers and people that we can be, it’s good to remember that, to breathe in the nuance and the dimension.

*all photos by me.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

Art.

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

Hug Those Cows – Cow Hugging, Wellness and the Weirdness of this World – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Everyone, We are so sorry it sounds like we’re on drugs. We aren’t. This just ended up being a super weird podcast. But – um – It’s authentically ‘us,’ Right?

So, we asked people for topics for our podcast. And people on Carrie’s Facebook were completely helpful.

Jon Hill wanted to know why there weren’t more palomino unicorns.

It’s an important question.

And some other people wanted us to talk about cow hugging. Matt Baya suggested we discuss this trend that started getting some big press in May 2018. Wellness is a 3.7 billion dollar industry that focuses on your spiritual, physical and mental health and wellbeing.

And now – cows can be a part of that.

Cows are warm and cozy and according to one farm in upstate New York, terribly relaxing. They make you feel good.

Listen to the full podcast to understand how Shaun feels about this – if you dare. Because we also talk about Okay Cupid, Friendsgiving, methane, and Rural Legends.

Dog Tip for Life: Dude. Do you. If you’re into paying people to cuddle with cows. Go for it.

 

Writing Tip of the Cast.Look. Do you research. Cow tipping allegedly is an urban legend. Don’t include urban legends as fact. Fake news. Fake facts? Calling them fake is the nice way of going about it. It’s lies. Writers are better than that.

SHOUT OUT

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

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

MY Art THAT YOU CAN BUY AND HELP ME FEED THE DOGS

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

 

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

Hug Those Cows – Cow Hugging, Wellness and the Weirdness of this World – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

 
 

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Facing Your Fear

This past weekend was sort of scary.

Carrie’s worst case scenario of presenting happened. She was scheduled to give a four-hour seminar on public image, but when she arrived the place wasn’t unlocked, there was no water, but worse- there was no A/V. It was not pretty.

And then…

We went to a party, a SNL-themed party, and because our friends are good at peer pressure and we were dressed as Spartan cheerleaders, we stunted and Carrie had to jump on Shaun’s back in a short skirt (with modesty shorts!) and she was so nervous that she actually got sweaty.

So, it turns out that Carrie was totally afraid to do a cheering stunt.

Carrie: This is because I am old and have broken knees.

spartans costume
spartans costume – photo by Raney Bench

And Shaun had to face his fear by actually performing the cheer.

Writing (like living) can be full of fear.

Over on The Write Practice, Jeff Elkins tells of “Three Tricks to Overcome Your Fear of Writing.”

How does he deal with the fear?

His three tips for overcoming that fear of writing are:

  1. He names it.
  2. He leans into it.
  3. Meditates through it.

And he also has this awesome idea for desensitizing yourself from fear, which is our …..

WRITING TIP OF THE POD!

Take fifteen minutes to write something that scares you. Maybe it’s a scene you’ve been avoiding in your work in progress, maybe it’s a story you’ve been nervous to start, or maybe it’s a letter you’re scared to write. As you work, if fear raises its head, try one of the techniques above to work through it. – Jeff Elkins

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
SNL party, selfie by Thom Willey

Dog TIP FOR LIFE:

Dogs have all kinds of fears just like people do. When dogs have fears, we use treats to encourage them for brave behavior, we don’t force them out of their safe places, and we don’t shove their fear in their face and shout “GET OVER IT, BUDDY.”

Because that’s not cool.

We deserve to give ourselves the same respect. Reward yourself for being brave, don’t insist on pushing yourself into your fear too hard and too fast.

Dogs are Smarter than People the writing podcast
Don’t push yourself, man.

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

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.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg

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

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

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

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEEDis 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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

PastWrite. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

 

 

Facing Your Fear

 
 

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1X

 

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

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

She was eight years old and tiny.

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

Did they tell her, “Good job?”

Nope.

They made her sit down.

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

“Nothing, buddy. Nothing.”

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

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

Again.

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

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

But here’s the thing.

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

Writing Tip of the Pod:

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

Dog Tip for Life:

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

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

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

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

31702754 copy

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

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

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

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

Art Stuff

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

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

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

 
 

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What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

Here’s our biggest tip for beginning writers. Ask yourself this question:

What makes a story memorable?

It’s change. It’s how the hero of the story enters that story with something broken inside them. All the things that have happened before your story starts – the back story – has set up the hero needing to achieve something or needing to change something inside of themselves.

ET was a movie about an alien, but the reason it was so amazing was because it was a movie about a family in pain, a family that needed to believe in magic and love again. ET gave them that.

So, when you’re writing your book, think about the backstory of your character, what it is that put her/him/them in this place and what they need to do to change themselves or their world.

That’s what the heart of a story is.

That’s what makes it memorable. The internal change.

 

Dog Tip for Life

Don’t be afraid to evolve. New places, new experiences, new life paths, are all ways to become something and someone better.

 

Writing Tips of the Pod

  1. Have Fun – Don’t write unless you love it or can’t live without it
  2. Remember That Your Characters and Their Journeys Matter
  3. Cut out Extra Scenes
  4. Don’t Try to Write Like Anyone Else
  5. Edit Like A God – Cast out all that doesn’t belong
  6. Don’t Worry About Being Successful – Worry about the story.

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

I’m heading to Montreal this week and the Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

And I’ll be in Freeport, Maine September 28 as part of a Nerdy Evening of Kidlit writers!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it.

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. I hope you have an amazing day.

What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

 
 

00:00 / 00:23:56
 

1X

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – Every Chapter Needs to Have a Purpose, Darn it.

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and here is my big advice.

Ready?

Every chapter in your story matters. Write every single chapter like it’s the first chapter.

Wait. What does that even mean?

It means that every chapter needs to be an important part of the story. It needs to be there. If you can take a chapter out of the story and the story still makes sense? That means that you didn’t make that chapter matter.

When you reread your story for the 100th time and you sort of subconsciously skip five paragraphs of backstory or description or even dialogue? There’s a reason you’re doing that. Delete those paragraphs. Just cut and paste them into a new document if you have attachment issues. Then reread things.

Does the chapter still work? Does the rest of the book still work without those paragraphs? That means you have to let them go.

If they are boring you the writer enough that you skim through them? That means that they are going to bore the reader, too.

Writing is about story. Yes, sentences matter because they are how we communicate story. Yes, chapters and structure matters, too, because – again – it’s how we communicate story.

But above all else – we are telling a story and every tool we use is about conveying that story. That’s what matters. And no matter how pretty the sentence or adorable the secondary character, if they don’t help create that story? You have to get rid of them. Especially in a thriller.

Flying

 

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

 

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.

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!

 

Swipe Right: Writing is All About Relationships – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

Writing is all about relationships, right? The reader relates to the characters that the writer creates. The characters relate to each other.

Relationships are tricky things. They are expansive and minute all at once. They can completely surround you, dwarf you, push against you until all you think about is them. Relationships untended to can also be forgotten – just become nothing things.  I have had relationships become nothing things. And I think when there are huge life transistions are happening, it’s a lot easier for a relationship to become exactly that – nothing, a place of indifference instead of a place of promise and growth.

Sometimes we ignore the things we take for granted.

Sometimes we don’t.

And it’s never healthy to ignore relationships in books or in real life.

 

WRITING TIP OF THE CAST –

Think of your characters like profiles on Tinder, the dating app. What would make your reader swipe right, and commit to knowing more about the character and the book? What would make you do that? Incorporate that. If you wouldn’t swipe right to learn more about your character, someone else isn’t going to either. First impressions matter.

 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE –

Speaking of first impressions mattering, dogs are a perfect example of this. Dogs are all about that first scent, the first size up. Readers are like that. People are like that too. Too often we ignore our first instincts about people and … Well, we shouldn’t.

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.

SECOND SHOUT OUT

It’s the Man’s birthday today and it’s a big one! Happy Birthday, Shaun! We hope you are living happy and large, man.

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:

mazon n ooksamillion http://torteenblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/ibooks.png ndiebound

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.

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!

Swipe Right: Writing is All About Relationships – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

 
 

00:00 / 00:24:56
 

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!