Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

Join an internationally bestselling children's book author and her down-home husband and their dogs as they try to live a happy, better life by being happier, better people . You can use those skills in ...more

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October 19, 2021 00:23:16
Man, That's a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel

Man, That's a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel

Just like hanging out with a friend, or listening to an instructor drone on and on about the beauty of a mullet, the keys to controlling your novel’s pacing are language and conflict and scene sequence and stakes. We’re going to talk about those today. What’s pacing?It’s how fast or slow the story goes for the reader. LANGUAGE IS A BIG WAY TO IMPACT PACE Let’s start with word choice. The words you choose can speed up the reader or slow them down. The way the words are grouped on the page? Same thing. Dialogue.Short paragraphs.Short sentences.Action. Those four things speed things up. And these things below? They slow that story down. Descriptive passages.Long paragraphs.Long sentences.Abstract language.A lot of talk about feelings.Flashbacks.Information dumps. Special Help: If all your sentences are the same length and are constantly parallel in construction, you lull the reader to sleep. No sleeping readers, okay? You fall asleep, you run the risk of getting a mullet. CONFLICT AND STAKES IS ANOTHER WAY TO IMPACT PACING In the scenes you choose, there needs to be some stakes and some conflict. Stakes happen when your reader cares about the character and is worried about what might happen to them if they don’t reach their goals. In every scene that stays in your book, there needs to be a stake and a goal. You can’t just have your character chilling with her bestie if there’s no point in that chillin. You need obstacles and tension and the reader needs to think, “Yikes! What happens if they fail?” It’s really one of the biggest things about pacing. Because not having conflict and stakes and tension? It makes the reader stop reading. Scene Sequence Also Impacts Pace And here it is. The ...

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October 15, 2021 00:07:28
Invisible Disability Requires A Different Kind of Bravery for One Author

Invisible Disability Requires A Different Kind of Bravery for One Author

IT’S BE BRAVE FRIDAY WHERE SHAUN OR I (FROM DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE AND LOVING THE STRANGE AND JUST BEING AN AUTHOR IN MAINE) SHARE PEOPLE’S UNEDITED, UNFILTERED STORIES, SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE THE BIG AND LITTLE BRAVE THINGS WE DO ALL THE TIME. SOMETIMES WE DON’T EVEN REALIZE WE’RE BEING BRAVE. This Be Brave Friday story is from the wonderful and brave and cool and talented Lenka Vodicka who writes the Forest Fairy Craft books, which you should check out! Here’s Lenka’s story. I was a mellow baby that slept a lot. Then I was a clumsy child that fell a lot. Then I was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Charcot (pronounced shar-co) Marie Tooth (CMT) which has nothing to do with teeth. It’s named after the three doctors that discovered it. CMT is also called hereditary neuropathy. CMT is a glitch in the genetic code that causes nerve damage, muscle weakness, balance issues, and fatigue. It’s degenerative, meaning it worsens over time. There is no treatment, other than bracing and corrective surgery that may or may not work. And there is no cure. I have CMT for life. CMT symptoms can vary widely, even within a family. Some people have mild symptoms that are barely noticeable into their 80s, while others have multiple surgeries and use wheelchairs as children. My case was in the mild category for a long time. I couldn’t wear flip-flops, or scramble up rock climbing walls, but most people had no idea that I dealt with any disease at all. I could be normal. My challenges were usually invisible. Situations like mine, where challenges are not easily seen, may be called invisible ...

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October 12, 2021 00:23:17
Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching You?

Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching You?

There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to figure out story structure. There’s Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, the Five-Act, the Four-Act, the Six-Act. But sometimes all of those complicated methods bog some of our writer brains down. So today we’re going to give you a super quick guide to story structure for your novel. You ready? Step One: Name it. This does not have to be its forever name, just a way for you to find the computer file. It can be THE EVIL NOVEL THAT HAS NO NAME RIGHT NOW. That’s fine. Step Two: Find a hero. Name them. Put them in a jam or a bad place. Maybe they suck at making commitments? Maybe they need a promotion. Maybe they live under the stairs. Give them a problem. Step Three: Think about what has to occur in order for them to ovary up enough to try to deal with that problem. Step Four: Now decide what is going to change once that hero gets proactive and tries to deal with that problem or once they take action. Step Five: Are things different for our little hero now? How? Step Six Okay. Something else needs to happen so that the story takes a turn or a veer to the right or left. What makes it go in another direction? Step Seven Make things worse for our poor hero. How are they worse? Step Eight Okay. If this is a positive change arc where the hero ends up in a better place, what is it that inspires them to make a big effort and go for that win? Step Nine What is the big win (positive change arc) or the big loss (negative change arc) There you go, how to figure out your novel’s basic structure in ...

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October 08, 2021 00:03:59
What Does It Mean to Be Brave

What Does It Mean to Be Brave

No video today! Sorry! This week things got a bit hectic. Apologies. But we wanted to quickly talk about what it means to be brave and of course, ask you to send in your Be Brave stories. Because we are still on a mission to share these stories and sing your praises with the world. The Oxford Dictionary defines bravery as: Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage. And that’s pretty interesting because there are three components going on there: You’re ready. You’re going to endure something. You’re showing courage. The ability to endure is really about the ability to persevere, to face our fears and/or our circumstances and still be ready. Ready for what? Ready for whatever is heading towards us, the good, the terrifying, the empowering, all of it. A lot of us spend a lot of our lives worried about worst case scenarios, rejections, falling down, and all of that energy we spend worrying? We can spend it actively moving towards our own moral and/or creative evolution and our goals. Imagine: How cool would it be if you spent all the time you currently spend worrying about failing and instead use that time towards actively going after the things you want, the life you want to have, the person you want to be. That’s what enduring is about. It’s about overcoming. And sometimes it’s about persisting. And almost all the time it’s about dealing with the fear that’s holding us back. So much of the time the fear that’s holding us back? It comes from us. Being brave means living in the moment, speaking with compassion. Being brave means standing up for what you ...

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October 07, 2021 00:34:52
WORD! AWARD-WINNING ELLEN BOORAEM TALKS WRITING TIPS AND HOW SHAME KEEPS HER FROM GIVING IN TO PROCRASTINATION

WORD! AWARD-WINNING ELLEN BOORAEM TALKS WRITING TIPS AND HOW SHAME KEEPS HER FROM GIVING IN TO PROCRASTINATION

The amazing writer and human, Ellen Booraem, spent nineteen years as a small-town journalist before quitting her day job to write four award-winning fantasies for readers ten and older (The Unnameables, Small Persons with Wings, Texting the Underworld and River Magic. In this bonus podcast, we talked about Ellen’s writing tips to deal with writing blocks, the big leaps she took to start a fiction career at 52, and the incredibly cool WORD festival (the annual Blue Hill Maine literary arts festival) that’s coming up this October (which you should all check out). We also touch on how working at a newspaper made us visual writers and trained us for fiction.   Ellen volunteers as a writing coach for students in her local middle school and is a founding organizer for Word, the annual Blue Hill (Maine) literary arts festival. Having ventured from her early time as Alton Hall Blackington’s next door neighbor in coastal Massachusetts, she now lives in coastal Maine with her partner, painter Robert Shillady. Publisher’s Weekly called Ellen’s latest novel, “A dense emotional core, resonant voice, and themes of grief, shifting friendships, and family enliven Booraem’s contemporary fantasy, reminding readers that ‘hope is everywhere.’” To find out more about Ellen and her books, check out Ellen’s website: https://www.ellenbooraem.com/ To find out more about WORD (which is online this year), check out its website: https://www.wordfestival.org/ And Word’s full schedule including workshops, art, and readings is here: ...

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October 05, 2021 00:21:32
Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing

Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing

A lot of writers will worry that their stories seem flat. There’s a reason that they are worrying about that and it’s one of the core elements of good writing. Ready? You want to vary your sentence structure. Take a bit of writing that you’ve done that feels flat—or maybe even one that doesn’t. Count the words in your sentences for two or three paragraphs. Are they all five words? Twelve? Twenty-seven? That robotic sameness in sentence length is one of the main reasons that writing can feel flat. It’s like those ancient Dick and Jane books. See Dick run. See Jane skip. See Dick wave. The other big bugger is when all of your sentences are simple and declarative. I walk to the forest. The trees are gracious, tall. I inhale the pine scent. There is actually a whole, entire world of different sentence styles that writers can use and when you use them? That’s when you make your writing shiny and sexy and all the good things. The names for these structures are pretty boring, honestly, but we’ll try to look beyond that, right? Simple – You have one main clause. Carrie is the best wife. Compound – You have more than one independent clause. You probably use a conjunction.             Carrie wants to get another dog, but Shaun keeps saying no. Complex – Oh, the sentence that probably has to pay for a therapist or is reading Foucault obviously in the park. This sentence has an independent clause and a subordinate clause. It’st the BDSM of sentences.             When hell freezes over, we will allegedly get another dog. Compound-Complex – It sounds like a place with a cult, right? But it’s just a sentence with at least two independent clauses and one subordinate clause. Carrie really ...

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