Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Tag Archives: Humor

Touche, permanent-pen-wielding grafittist hiking on the Great Ocean Walk in Australia


P1180193And here’s some more graffiti art fun from the land of Oz, cuz we all need a little more Chuck Norris in our lives.


My English friend just took the piss out of the NFL so hilariously I can’t even….



(I’m blue text bubbles, he’s gray)

So my husband and I have been teaching our English friend the ways of NFL Fantasy Football, which is apparently is much more complicated than like English Premiere League Fantasy Football. He’s come a long way since he auto-drafted, after which I sat him down and said, “Friend, you don’t need four defenses and two kickers.” That Englishman is 3-0! I should really stop helping him, especially since I’m 0-3 :(….


I feel like a disgrace to America. And the Packers lost last week, so it was a rough, rough week for SJC in the world of football. But my good, good English friend sent me this to cheer me up, which really does help a lot (though I hope it wasn’t a serious injury, I am a nice person, I swear).

JadedNaiveAndeancockoftherockSo anyway, this Facebook message exchange was prompted by my reminder to check his line-up since regular season Bye weeks start this week. Please excuse my ignorance about the actual reason for Bye weeks, lol, I googled it and apparently it’s done to extend the regular season. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

It was just so hilarious, I had to share. It’s so fun teaching our friend the very, very complicated ways of the NFL.

On Being the Token Yank: Fantasy Football Fail


nflSo being the Token Yank has made me more excited about my American heritage, which is why I’m in not one, but two, NFL fantasy football leagues. And to spread the joy, I’ve recruited one of my British friends into one, which should be fun. I’ve been a Packers fan since I was born (my Dad’s from Green Bay) and this is my third year doing fantasy football. Now let me be real with you, I am no expert at football or fantasy football. I don’t research players before the draft and pretty much just pick the top-ranked players each round (starting with QB, RB, and WR) and people I’ve actually heard of. I DO remember to check my line-up every week and occasionally do more than swap players who have injuries or bye weeks.

Yesterday was my second draft. Tragedy struck. Really, I blame the time difference. So Singapore time, the draft was at 6 a.m. and I didn’t quite wake up by then lol, so auto-draft FTW…or not quite. I believe the graphic above explains the outcome and directly below how I feel.

disappointed-oMy QB is Aaron Rodgers and one of my WR is Jordy Nelson, so that’s awesome. Maybe someone in my league will trade me a good WR for Russell Wilson… Though perhaps all of this just fits well with my team name:

lowered expectationsWhoever plays me in Week 9, consider this your birthday present.

One of the many, many (did I say many?) lessons I’ve learned by writing a lot: Over-explanation and KISS


kissbandNo, not that KISS…

I pretty much never post on the craft of writing. I’m no expert by any means, but over the past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of critiques for fellow writers on #writeoncon and #pitchwars. I’ve noticed a trend: over-explanation. Now I’m not referring to a J.R.R. Tolkien-esque, two-page description of setting, because obviously there are plenty of places for that, like Lord of the Rings or probably Game of Thrones (which I couldn’t get my YA brain to read, not going to lie).

lotrI’m talking about explaining something in several sentences, in slightly different ways, when really the point could be made with one example and one sentence. I think this is usually done to drive an important point home, but over-explanation just waters down.

I’ve picked a terrifying example from my first attempt at writing a novel. I started it at 17 and worked on it for a decade before I finally just set it aside. You must promise PROMISE not to judge. Check out this nugget of gold from my very first page…


Ari walked across the small, cramped room that was the Douglas-Mac­Clan­nough family living space, her Companion tucked under her arm. She joined the rest of her family at the table for breakfast and set Max on her lap; she couldn’t forget to bring it to school again or her instruction autom might fry her. Her father glanced up from rocking her baby brother, Ryan, his eyebrows furrowed in feigned annoyance,

“We’ve been waiting for you for five minutes now,” he stated, doing his best to sound stern as he tenderly cradled Ryan in his arms.

“Sorry,” she muttered distantly as she stared drearily at the cold silvery tabletop her stomach weighed down with leaden worry. “I didn’t sleep well last night. Besides, breakfast isn’t here yet anyway.” She shrugged flatly. It was a lame excuse on her part, but it was true. After all, it was kind of hard for a girl to sleep knowing that it was her last night in her own bed with her family only a few feet away—when in a mere twenty-three Earth hours, she would be on a journey that would take her nearly four hundred million miles away. Her eyes fell to her lap, to her white-knuckled, clenched fists. Fear rumbled around in her stomach again, making her whole body feel weak and numb. Butterflies were what most people would call them, and Ari would too—if she had known what they were, that was. Ari swallowed, trying to force the burning sensation in her throat to go away. She wasn’t ready to leave her mom and dad! To leave the only place she’d ever known….

Her older brother David, being his stupid and immature self as usual, snickered. “True dat! I think we best be filin’ a complaint to the administrator’s office ‘bout how the food management and distribution units always be late when they deliver, the food’s always cold, and man, the taste! Whew! What’s this stuff jeebin’ on? I mean, I know it ain’t organic, but can’t they at least make an effort to make it taste real, or taste like anything at all for that matter? It’s crap!” He ranted, throwing in an English word to spice it up. At least his whining would get their dad off her case. “What is—”



THE-MORTIFIED-PUNTER1OH MY GOD!!! Could you even get through all that? I bet you skimmed 😛  I had to force myself to actually read it. So many adverbs!!! So much body-part directing. And an exclamation point in narration? Not only did I over-explain, my over-explanation interrupted dialogue. That explains why that document has…wait for it…227,000 words!!!scared1My analogy: it’s like writing with a dull pencil versus a sharp (COPYRIGHT). You can read what was written by a dull pencil, but it’s not as clear or as neat. Sharp pencil is better; it’s clean and to the point. No need to say: Her eyes fell to her lap, to her white-knuckled, clenched fists. Fear rumbled around in her stomach again, making her whole body feel weak and numb. Butterflies were what most people would call them, and Ari would too—if she had known what they were, that was. Just say: her stomach churned or something. Pick the one sentence or example that expresses it best and use that. KISS: Keep It Simple Silly (I’ll never call my writer friends stupid). Not only does it make it more clear, it can make what you’re trying to say more powerful. It’ll jump off the page.

Here is my quick and dirty re-write:


Ari joined her family at the table. She set Max, her Companion on her lap. If she forgot it again, the instructor autom might fry her.

“We’ve been waiting for you for five minutes,” Dad said as he rocked baby Ryan, forced sternness in his voice.

“Sorry,” Ari muttered as she stared at the dent in the metal tabletop. “Breakfast hasn’t been delivered yet anyway.”

“Do you have butterflies again?” Mom asked.

Ari rolled her eyes. What were butterflies anyway? “I’m fine,” she lied.

It was hard to sleep knowing that, in a mere twenty-three Earth hours, she’d be on a ship headed four hundred million kilometers from home.

“I think we should file a complaint with Colony Admin,” David, her older brother, snorted. “Food Dist is always late, the food’s cold, and they don’t even try to make it taste real. It’s crap!” He threw in an English word to spice it up.


This re-write gets all the jobs done of the original: reveals genre, introduces the characters, establishes they live in a colony that doesn’t have butterflies, shows English isn’t the main language, and hints at Ari’s inciting incident and how she feels about it. I also think the fact that she doesn’t know what butterflies are/is going millions of miles away strikes the reader more because those sentences aren’t buried in crap. When you throw in the English thing, the reader can piece together that she’s a human but not living on Earth. I don’t come out and TELL the reader that on purpose, I SHOW them with clues and let them reach that conclusion on their own while leaving them curious as to why and where she does live so they’ll keep reading.

So that rough re-write: 153 words. Original: 385 words. If that’s a representative sample for the rest of my novel, I could easily half if and get it to a still-not-reasonable length. Pop over to my last post to see what helped me get to where I am today with my writing.

That was actually pretty fun to do. Maybe I’ll go back to that story someday.

Anyway… Sharpen those pencils and KISS, writer friends!

To read my most recent, much, much better (I swear!) work, click here.

What’s one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about the craft of writing since you wrote that first page of your first novel?

On being the token Yank: You sound more American…



Hi everyone, so it’s been awhile since my last “On being the token Yank” post. Guess I haven’t been feeling all that token-y of late, but recently I had an amusing one.

So two of my best friends from Wisconsin are here visiting and I’ve been working hard to show them a good time in Singapore. I invited my British friends to get satay (meat on a stick basically) with us. So I was talking to my British friends and my Wisconsin friends and one of my British friends said, “Sarah you sound more American!”

Hahahaaaaaaaa not exactly sure why. Perhaps my accent was more pronounced? Maybe I was talking louder? But then again, I’m always loud. I blame it on coming from a huge family where it was Hunger Games for attention 😛 t’s not like I made the mistake of calling trousers pants or anything like that…. 😛 I also didn’t call a water fountain a bubbler.  Anyway, who knows, but it was pretty funny lol. Perhaps it was just more surprising for her to hear me because I was promoted to “practically British” several months ago.

Anyway, accents are fascinating….  Here’s a breakdown of US general accents for anyone who’s interested.


(retrieved from


(Also fascinating–Bubbler…Part of Wisconsin and Connecticut??? Sorry, you have to click on it to really see it)

By the way, totally Upper Midwest. A hint of the movie/show Fargo but nowhere near that pronounced lol.

Aaaanyway, I didn’t get a chance to ask how I sounded more American. My guess, I was saying my vowels more Midwestern-y than usual.

Please share any funny accent stories!

….and as a fun afterthought: