The Paqui One Chip Challenge or Shaun Kills His Tastebuds Live and Other Stupid Things People Do

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
The Paqui One Chip Challenge or Shaun Kills His Tastebuds Live and Other Stupid Things People Do
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We thought he wouldn’t survive and he sort of didn’t? Join us for the podcast where Carrie absolutely doesn’t endorse the actions of her co-host as he kills his tastebuds, dries out his mouth, and looks like a zombie because he foolishly does the Paqui One Chip Challenge

Be warned: Shaun says the f-bomb a lot.

BE BRAVE FRIDAY

This week I reached out to another woman even though I was afraid to. If you don’t know, I’m actually technically an introvert. Reaching out is hard for me.

But it wasn’t about me being an introvert.

I was afraid to reach out to her because I’ve started a local news newsletter/blog and this person is someone who shows up in the news. At a meeting, I watched someone else try to vilify her and another person call her an adjective that is often used as a derogatory qualifier for women who have hope in positive outcomes.

People have called me that adjective a lot especially when it comes to political issues or politics in general or even when it comes to my faith that humanity can be better, that as individuals we can make the right choices.

If I reached out, I wondered, would she scoff? Would she think I was ridiculous? I decided that I didn’t care because it mattered more that she knew that someone saw and recognized what she dealt with—even if that someone was just me.

At the meeting, I didn’t speak up because I don’t think that a reporter’s role is to shape the tenor of a meeting, but it was incredibly hard for me not to speak up because what happened pulled at two of my core beliefs: trying to be an impartial reporter of the news to the best of my abilities AND standing up for people who are being maligned. I beat myself up about my choice for a while.

But the next morning, I ended up emailing her, telling her that I saw what happened and that though I wasn’t her mom or her friend I was really proud of her for being brave.

Why was she brave? Honestly, I think that anyone in local politics who puts themselves out there in the hopes of trying to make a better community, to create compromise, and to try to do that in a vulnerable and kind way? That’s pretty damn boss. I definitely don’t agree with every local politician’s political decisions, but for the ones who go into that political arena with good intentions? It’s so hard.

So, I guess my point on this be brave Friday is that if you see someone else being brave? Give them some props. Let them know that you see them. Actually, maybe it doesn’t even have to happen when people are being brave. Maybe we can just all actively work on letting people know, no matter what they are doing, “I see you.”

I see you.

I hope you all have the best weekend. Shaun is doing something super ridiculous on our live podcast tonight, LOVING THE STRANGE. And there is an art sale this weekend of my things. Also, our latest episode of our true crime podcast, DUDE, NO is here and it’s all about a Maine man who was shot by deputies, mummified accidentally and toured the country after he died.

Oh Baby, Look at that Backstory and Goals

Without knowing the backstory, we wouldn’t know the emotional goals of the character, the why for their tangible goals. Instead we’d be reading and thinking, yeah, he wants this. So what?

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Oh Baby, Look at that Backstory and Goals
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Last week on the podcast and over on our substack, we talked about creating amazing characters and the role of backstory.

I’m going to talk a little bit more about that today.


Again, backstory is the events that happened to your character before the actual main story starts.

So backstory, once you have it, allows you to give your character goals in the beginning of the novel and throughout the novel because it allows you the writer (and reader) to know what forces and history make that character who they are today and drive them.

The Two Goals (Thanks to Backstory) Which Gives Your Character Dimension

One goal is usually physical or tangible. They want something. Let’s say they want to drive a car. They are 15 and want to learn how to drive. That’s a tangible goal. The author wants to get her novel done. The puppy wants a bacon treat.

The other goal is usually emotional. This goal has to do with yearning. This goal is the reason for the tangible goal.

They want to learn how to drive (tangible) because they yearn to get out of their claustrophobic home (emotional).

She wants to get her novel done (tangible) because her brother always said she couldn’t get anything done because she’s lazy and she yearns to prove him wrong (emotional).

The puppy wants a bacon treat (tangible) because he yearns for bacon because that’s what he used to get in his first house before he got lost (emotional).

Without knowing the backstory, we wouldn’t know the emotional goals of the character, the why for their tangible goals. Instead we’d be reading and thinking, yeah, he wants to finish the novel. So what?

Tomorrow over on LIVING HAPPY, I’ll dive in a tiny bit more into this.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Warped Brains For The Win

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Warped Brains For The Win
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Join us as we talk about calling a new born baby an aunt and cognitive distortions.

Cognitive distortions are basically when you notice something that happens outside of yourself and you distort the hell out of it and create this super exaggerated, super negative view of yourself or another person.

There are at least six of these bastards.

The first is called Catastrophizing. I’m a master at this, but let’s go through all of them according to Esther Perel, a therapist and author.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty Dog says to only worry about the now, baby. Eat your treats, scratch your fur, snore, and call it good.

Contemplating scratching

LINKS

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/how-to-recognize-and-tame-your-cognitive-distortions-202205042738

https://www.masterclass.com/classes/esther-perel-teaches-relational-intelligence/chapters/developing-self-awareness

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/family/older-dads-weird-demand-to-family-over-babys-name-baffles-internet/ar-AA122iLR

Our Puppy Ate A Lot of Tampons

This is Pogie getting ready to be sick.

Yesterday, I was in a bit of a panic because Pogie the puppy wasn’t acting like a puppy. She wasn’t jumping around; there was no begging for treats, no questing for cats, no scampering.

And she wanted to just flop on the bed upstairs away from everyone. Pogie the puppy is not that kind of puppy. She’s the kind of puppy who wants to be right in the action, preferably touching Sparty (the dog) a cat or a human even when she’s asleep.

More typical Pogie behavior, staring at cats like she wants to marry them.

Pogie vomited. It was pretty chill at first, just breakfast. She pooped, but it was normal. She did not drool. She did not foam. Her head did not spin around like she was a canine cast member of The Exorcist.

My head, however? It came pretty close.

I obsessed about bowel obstructions and poisons and we made promises that if she still seemed sick tomorrow we’d call the vet.

I also obsessively googled things. And then Pogie threw up a gallon of liquid and it looked like there was a bit of a feminine hygiene product in it.

“What’s that?” Shaun said.

“That is a piece of tampon!” I shouted. “OUR DOG ATE A TAMPON!”

I got a paper towel, picked it up and actually peered at it really intensely. I never knew that I would grow up to be a person who would stare at a vomit slathered piece of used tampon, but apparently I am.

Shaun and I shared a look. Three days ago, Xane didn’t leave their bathroom door closed and Pogie went in the trash. There was trash all over the floor that I picked up. I never realized that there could be trash in Pogie’s belly, and yes, she is a puppy and I should have realized that PUPPIES EAT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING!

Now you can imagine me obsessively googling “dogs+tampons.” And it turns out that tampons are really bad for dogs to swallow. They can cause bowels instructions. They can die.

Pogie actually sleeping. Spoiler: This is a bad sign.

According to Emergency Vet USA,

“Unfortunately for our furry friends, eating a tampon can be extremely dangerous. The main purpose of the tampon is what makes it so dangerous when consumed by a dog.

“Tampons are designed to remain intact when in the body for long periods of time, as well as swelling to absorb fluids.

“This results in tampons not being easily digested by the gut, as well as the potential for the tampon to expand in the stomach or intestines.”

Now that we knew what the actual problem was, it was now way past the time of our vet being open. Shaun said, “I bet she’ll feel better now.”

We watched.

We laid down with her.

We listened to her belly.

She didn’t seem quite better. Then Shaun carried her outside with Sparty and she did her business. She did her business for a long, long time and created a long, long business. Imagine two feet long, all attached, one tampon after another after another, strings hitching into each other. Our tiny puppy had eaten at least five tampons. Her poop was longer than her body.

LONGER THAN HER BODY!

And let me tell you, Pogie’s tummy did not digest those tampons.


IMPORTANT STUFF

When a dog eats a tampon (or many tampons like Pogie, the overachieving puppy) they can irritate their GI tract, scrape it, irritate it, and the tampon can expand and irritate it and make the dog hurt. They can have bloody poop. Pogie did not. We checked obviously. You can imagine us gloved up, nostrils flaring, studying that poop.

Tampon consumption can cause choking because of the string and the cotton.

According to National Canine Research Association of America,

“Blockages in the digestive tract can prevent fluid, foods, and gas from being able to move normally through your dog’s body.

“This can be both painful and life-threatening, as it can restrict blood flow to the intestines, stomach, or esophagus.

“If the blockage isn’t treated quickly enough, necrosis can set in, causing tissue death and even more complications.”

Tampon consumption can also obstruct the dog’s bowel. It can get stuck so nothing else can get through.

Sometimes, like Pogie, a dog will be able to get rid of the tampon themselves. Usually, this depends on how many tampons they ate and how big their intestines are. This is supposed to be pretty dangerous. You shouldn’t wait like we did. You should call the vet. And according to Emergency Vet USA it takes about 72 hours for bowel obstruction symptoms. Our bathroom event was on Saturday. Pogie’s big event was on Tuesday.

We were super lucky. I hope that you’ll be lucky, too.


I AM RISKING IT ALL WRITING YOU THIS.

“You can’t write about this,” one of the kiddos said. They are fourteen. Fourteen is a hard age to have a bonus parent like me.

“I have to!” I said. “Dogs could die. People must know!”

“But it’s ridiculous.”

“That is exactly why.”

“People will judge you.”

“People judge me anyway,” I said because damn if that’s not true. “I’d rather they know.”

They then stomped off because (I think) it was their tampons.

Writing Exceptional Characters Part One Backstory

Write Better Now
Write Better Now
Writing Exceptional Characters Part One Backstory
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Hey! Join us this week as we talk about writing exceptional characters starting with backstory! It’s quick. It’ll make you a better author. It’s free. 🙂

My poor rescue dogs have pretty rough backstories.

In between starting a new business, a new true-crime podcast, and local news blog, and editing other people’s stories, I’ve actually started my own new book that I’m pretty excited about, but when I was rereading my first chapter, I realized that so far I’d been failing terribly when it came to making my main character.

I-the -writer loved her, but the me that’s an editor? Yeah. I knew we had some work to do.

Thankfully there is a lot of good ideas and advice out there about how to make a character that’s a rock star, a character that people remember and want to hang out with for 50,000 to 100,000 words.

And my character’s big issue?

She had no past. I was so focused on the adventures she was about to have that I didn’t mention that she’d ever existed beyond that first paragraph of the story.

Backstory is a tricky thing because we don’t want it to weigh down the forward motion of the present narrative, right? But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t sprinkle it in and give readers (and ourselves) an understanding of how the character is the way they are now in the book.

The best kind of backstory is one that allows readers to worry or care about them. Think about Harry Potter. He’s abused, unloved, neglected, but still pretty kind. A good majority of the horrors that have happened to him at the hands of his relative happened before the main thrust of the story.

It doesn’t need to be that drastic or dramatic. You do not have to put your characters in cupboards.

In my story’s first pages, the dad and daughter are about to head to Iceland for her senior year because he allegedly has a new job there. The character wants to be a cook. She has a boyfriend. It’s her senior year. That’s all quickly established in my revision as she’s packing their car and sees something nefarious lurking at the edge of the woods. Then her dad gives a little bit of a kicker when he says to her, “You’ve never liked change.”

It hints at the backstory. Obviously there has been a time before where something changed and it didn’t go well.

It also hints at the theme: Change happens. Nothing is forever.

And it also hints at her big lie that she believes about the world: Change is bad.

All those things happen in one tiny bit of dialogue, but also, that one tiny bit of dialogue lets us know that the characters have a shared past. Pretty cool, right?

There’ll be more on my LIVING HAPPY blog tomorrow about this, but if you don’t go check that out, please just remember that you don’t want EVERY SINGLE THING THAT EVER HAPPENED EVER to be revealed in the first ten pages. That bogs the story down. Sprinkle it in like your story is stew that needs just a touch of salt. You’ve got this.


Hey, thanks for listening to Write Better Now.

These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in us, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Mr.ruiz and the track is Arctic Air and the album is Winter Haze Summer Daze.

For exclusive paid content, check out Carrie’s substack, LIVING HAPPY and WRITE BETTER NOW. It’s basically like a blog, but better. There’s a free option too without the bonus content but all the regular stuff is there.

Is Fear Keeping Us Dumb and Dip Your Balls in Coffee

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Is Fear Keeping Us Dumb and Dip Your Balls in Coffee
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W. Edwards wrote “Drive out fear so that everyone may work effectively for the company.”

Paul Zak says, “When learners are psychologically safe, they acquire new information easily because they have the cognitive and emotional bandwidth to concentrate on course material. Anxiety takes significant metabolic energy and inhibits learning.”

Join us as we talk a little bit about coffee balls, how anxiety makes it hard to learn and dog tips for life.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE FROM SPARTACUS THE DOG

Don’t worry about anything. Just get your treats and snack and sleep whenever you can.


SOURCES

https://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-science-of-fear-ainissa-ramirez

Paul Zak, Immersion (releases today!)

https://apnews.com/article/switzerland-climate-and-environment-83cc3ee9959e48301b98d68d15693b64


Our brand-new-amazing-creepy podcast is DUDE NO! It’s true crime with an occasional foray into the paranormal and macabre and it’s awesome.

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 “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAPPY OVER HERE! It’s pretty awesome.

AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Mid-Life Crisis or Breaking Out of Our Comfort Zones? You Decide.

As I started down the cobblestone path towards the cruise ship tender line, pushing a bright blue book cart, one of my friends sat in an Acadia Gem, these cool rentable cars. We aren’t close friends, but I’ll call her that anyway because I wish we were closer because she’s funny and smart and real.

“You guys with the band?” she teased, nodding at Shaun who was carrying boxes and me, pushing a bright blue cart with boxes on it.

“Um . . . no? I wish? Party all the time, all night every night?” I offered like the dork I am. I think I possibly did a band hand sign for love or something because that’s my level of social awkward.

Shaun, being Shaun said with his I-used-to-be-a-cop voice, “We’re starting a store.”

And he kept on walking.

I, however, stayed to explain a little bit about our really really small retail space, and she looked at me and wisely said, “Are you having a mid-life crisis? You’ve started a news blog. You’re selling your art. A new podcast and now a store?”

I did not tell her that we have two other ventures we’ll be starting this year, too. Instead, I stared at her and offered, “Maybe?”

The view from the back of our little shack

Maybe?

Maybe my need to make sure I don’t go bankrupt and always have an income is just a mid-life crisis that I’ve been having since I was fifteen?

I explained that in four years, Xane (our kiddo) will probably be out of high school (if they get to go to high school), and Shaun and I will be free to wander, and we really want to wander, to explore the world, the way she and her husband did for a couple years. I told her how seeing their travels and posts made us realize how much we wanted to do that too. That she and her husband were an inspiration.

That might be a mid-life crisis or it might be the American way, trying to find something—anything—a little more stable that allows you to be a little more free, to find that work-life balance before life is gone.

Last Friday I had a vague mopey post and so many of you were super kind about it even though I didn’t explain. It was because one of my relatives died (not a super close one, there’s more about it on LIVING HAPPY, my blog), but it shook me. This life is so short. So short even when it’s long.

So, yes, it’s time to take risks even though they stress me out and scare me. We’ve got to live with kindness and purpose. We have to believe in other people and ourselves even when it’s terrifying. And hope.

We always have to hope.

And we also always have to remember that even in something like a Facebook post, we might be inspiring someone else to make chances, to do things, to live. ❤

The actual back of our little shack

We’re also just launched a new podcast called DUDE NO. It’s true crime. It comes out on Tuesdays. This last episode is about a case Shaun helped solve a few years ago, about a man whose life and identity was stolen from him because of greed.

And we have LIVING HAPPY, a a newsletter/blog for people who want to know how we manage to live happy despite all the crap that is happening in our lives. A good place to start there is this one: “No More Hiding Who We Are.”

So, I’m teaching another cool six-month class at the Writing Barn in Austin. It’s a pretty fantastic place. And the class is super fun. I’ve had a ton of students get unblocked and get published and get awards and things. It’s a lovely community. You should check it out or just come hang out with me as your writing coach. I offer a ton of different options.

The Wise Man From the Cruise Ship

“Whoa, that fell right in,” he said.

We both peered into the sewer grate, me and a nice older man who was off a cruise ship. There near the edge, submerged in the water, was the padlock.

“It made a perfect arch when it fell off the cart,” I said.

“What’s the lock for?” he asked, his back a bit crooked, shoulders a bit slumped, face a little sweaty like he’d had a hard day exploring our little national park.

“We’re starting a new business. Down here.” I motioned at the cruise ship tender line, the series of small out buildings that people like me had staked a claim in for a rental fee, trying to make a business, to become something different or become something more.

“Let’s see if we can get the grate off,” he said, bending and grabbing the heavy metal bars. He tugged. “Nope.”

We tugged together. It didn’t move even an inch.

“That’s so nice of you to try,” I said. “We can buy another.”

“It flew off perfectly,” he said, laughing.

“I wish someone had videotaped it. It was a beautiful fall.”

He kept laughing. “It just went perfectly in.”

We stopped staring at each other’s laughing faces and back down at the lock in the murky water.

“It’s not a bad omen,” he said. “It’s a good one.”

“How is that?”

“Because you’re laughing. If you can laugh? You can get through anything.”

“Even failures?” I asked.

I think I might have made him pause for a second, maybe taken him aback, but then he smiled again, standing up really straight. “Failures especially.” He winked. “But you won’t fail.”

Shaun goes fishing



Shaun’s pretty amazing, honestly. Just like that cruise ship guy.


We have a lot of new things that I’m afraid of failing at and it would be awesome if you checked them out.

First there’s a new LIVING HAPPY blog where we talk about our journey toward happiness despite all the chaos that is our life. We delve into a bit of psychology, too. Also, all the writing tips are over there.

And I have a local news blog.

Finally, we have a super cool new true crime podcast, DUDE NO! I hope you’ll check it out. Our second episode comes out tomorrow. It’s always on Tuesdays.

Grammy Barnard Poem Melancholy

Carrie Does Poems
Carrie Does Poems
Grammy Barnard Poem Melancholy
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One of my grandmothers painted and wrote poems when she wasn’t busy raising her three children.

This is one of her poems.


Grammy Barnard Poem #3

Melancholy, May 19, 1927

Cold and dark desolation’s arms

            Embrace my heart and sound alarms

Of fearful, loveless days to be endured

            To which my heart of late has become inured.

Where may I flee from these haunting visions

            And from my constant indecisions?

Go I shall, and in my misery hide

            In a lonely forgotten place where I’ll reside,

I’ll think of all the vows men make

            And how quickly too they can forsake.


Hey, thanks for listening to Carrie Does Poems. These podcasts and more writing tips are at Carrie’s website, carriejonesbooks.blog. There’s also a donation button there. Even a dollar inspires a happy dance in Carrie, so thank you for your support.

The music you hear is made available through the creative commons and it’s a bit of a shortened track from the fantastic Eric Van der Westen and the track is called “A Feather” and off the album The Crown Lobster Trilogy.

https://freemusicarchive.org/music/eric-van-der-westen/the-crown-lobster-trilogy-selection

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