How To Invest In The Most Important Thing In Your Writing Career

How To Invest In The Most Important Thing In Your Writing Career

 
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Here’s the spoiler:

The Most Important Thing You Have In Your Writing Career Is You

We know! We know! You were probably hoping for a cool app, or the perfect book about plot beats, but nope. It’s you.

You can’t write if you don’t exist. You write best when you’re doing pretty fine.

So here are the ways to actually invest in yourself.

Stay healthy for your brain

It’s pretty hard to write when you feel like crap because when your brain is all broken. As Harvard Healthbeat says, “First it is important to remember that you need a healthy body to have a healthy brain.”

How do you do that? According to Harvard:

Step 1: Eat a plant-based diet

Step 2: Exercise regularly

Step 3: Get enough sleep

Step 4: Manage your stress

Step 5: Nurture social contacts

Step 6: Continue to challenge your brain

Stay happy or at least okay. Relationships matter.

Your relationships with other people are really important. They help you evolve. There’s a thing called the dependency paradox.

As Kyle Benson writes,

“Our partners powerfully affect our ability to thrive in life. They influence how we feel about ourselves, what we believe we are capable of, and they ultimately impact our attempts to achieve our dreams.

“Even Mr. Self-Actualization (Abraham Maslow) himself argued that without bonds of love and affection with others, we cannot go on to achieve our full potential as human beings.

“Once we choose a partner, there is no question about whether dependency exists or not. It always does. 

“Countless studies show that once we become intimately attached to another human being, the two of us form one physiological being.

“Our partner regulates our blood pressure, our heart rate, our breathing, and the level of hormones in our blood. The emphasis of independence in adult relationships does not hold water from a biological perspective.”

Kyle Benson

There’s a link to Kyle’s post in our notes and it’s just so good, but the part that really rings true for writers and other creatives is this:

“When a partner is supportive, we are more willing to explore and our self-esteem and confidence gets a boost, which allows us to go after our deepest desires. This not only improves the quality of our lives, but it also deepens and enhances our satisfaction within the relationship and our physical health.

“But as many of us know, sometimes our exploration leads to failure, rejection, and painful experiences. When these bad events happen, our biological programming creates anxiety that leads us to seek proximity (physically and/or psychologically) with the person we love.

“If they are supportive during this stage, our stress will go down and we cope with our problems faster, which ultimately leads us to overcome the problem and continue to go after our deepest desires.”

Kyle Benson again

So find those supportive partners and get rid of the rest!

Get some skills!

Carrie resisted the urge to put a z on the end of the word skills in our podcast notes, but here’s the thing: The more you learn, the less you settle. The more you learn, the more capable you become.

Learning and skills come from classes, from reading, and from experience. Mix it up. Learn in different ways.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

There you go. You write best when your brain works, when you’re happy, when you have skills and are learning about how to make the best stories possible. So invest in yourself, people. Take care of your health, your relationships and learn.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You can go through your life just barking at thing, but you want to expand your brain and your repertoire and really immerse yourself in what makes you and your body happy.

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.


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Resources


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Cause and Effect Is a Powerful Thing – How to Make Awesome First Lines

I started writing about first lines last week and I promised I’d write a bit more about it.

And here’s the thing: the first line of your novel starts the cause and effect that becomes your book.

That’s a big deal thing.

Look at this first line. You know things are weird. You know that something is about to happen on this bright, cold April day.

Every Step Of Your Story Is Important

In her book, What’s Your Story: A Young Person’s Guide to Writing Fiction, Marion Dane Bauer writes, “Every part of your story should be an essential step along the way to the outcome.” (p.53)

Just like in books, we create the story that is our life. We interact. We make decisions. We decide to do one thing and that thing makes something else happen. 

This Is True In Real Life Too

There’s a girl in my life who doesn’t understand this concept. She does things – often naughty things – and doesn’t think through to the next step, poor kid.

We’re always talking about consequences for behavior. We’re always talking about how you have to think through what you’re doing and go on to the next step.

“When you ran away from the teacher and hid under the stairs, what did you think is going to happen?” we ask.

And the answer is always, “I didn’t really think about it.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson with the quotable quote win here.

Authors Don’t Get to Be Human

As authors creating plot, we don’t have that opportunity. We always have to think through to the next step and the step after that. The cool thing about this is that it builds our understanding of not just the world of our stories, but the whole world around us.

Authors aren’t likely to become politicians talking about pushing nuclear buttons. 

There’s a reason for that. 

It’s because as creators of story, we understand all the possibilities of that story – the good and the bad. We know if we hide from the teacher, there is going to be hell to pay. We  know if we threaten other world leaders on Twitter, things might go down that we can’t control. 

Most humans who aren’t writers understand cause and effect, too.

Like in my house, in the case of Marsie the Cat, her humans know that smoothing back her ears so she looks like an adorable owl means that she is going to hate us for an hour, hop off our lap, and ignore us. 

It’s hard to be Marsie the Cat.

See up there? That’s Marsie about to hate us. Fortunately, we also know that we can win back her love with the illegal drug called catnip.

Back to Cause and Effect and Plots

Sorry! Back to writing and the brilliant Marion Dane Bauer.

“You must always be aware of what your main character is thinking, feeling, wanting. You must also know how the world looks, smells, sounds, tastes and feels to the touch. Good writing uses all the sense, all of them. Good fiction uses them from inside your main character.” (p. 93)

Marion Dane Bauer

When we read, magic happens. We move inside other characters, embody them, become their experience. That’s part of the reason why we need so many stories out there. The more stories, the more experiences, the more magic.

But also, when we write? Magic happens. We move inside other characters, embody them, become them. That’s part of the reason why writers need to be diligent and build their worlds, piece-by-piece, symbol-by-symbol and word-by-word.

That’s especially true when we’re writing for kids and young adults. Kids are smart. They deserve stories built with empathy, precision, and love. But so do the rest of us humans.

Back to First Lines

The first line of your novel, short story, blog, essay? That line sets the tone for the book, hooks the reader in, and begins the cause and effect that starts your story. It’s important. Make it a good one.

Gabby the Dog’s Writing Exercise of Awesome.

Gabby is adorable.

Write a letter to your friend or the president or somebody. The letter is all about what happens in your story. You’ve got this! Go! 

Once you’ve got it done, give yourself a treat. Gabby’s favorite reward-snack is Milk-Bones. She’s a traditionalist. 

And now go back. Look at that first line. Did it hook the reader in?


FIRST LINE ADVICE

Make your first line surprising like Orwell’s or mysterious

“First the colors.
Then the humans. 
That’s usually how I see things.
Or at least, how I try.”

The Book Thief, Markus Zusak


Make it shocking or funny.


You Can Make It About Character, But Give It a Twist

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis 

Humor, shock, drama, emotional high stakes, mysteries? These are the elements that almost always keep the readers make it to the end of that first line and then the first paragraph. But the key is that it also has to fit with the rest of the story.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

slow cooker cheesy garlic herb mashed potatoes of first line anxiety

Things might not be going all that well here at the Jones-Farrar household. Between NaNoWriMo, remote schooling, COVID, being trapped with each other and not travelling for ten months?

I’ve got some writers block and a need for starch. Keto be damned. It’s almost Thanksgiving in the U.S.

How about you?

Print Recipe
slow cooker cheesy garlic herb mashed potatoes of first lines
Cooking With a Writer
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Servings
Ingredients
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Servings
Ingredients
Cooking With a Writer
Instructions
  1. Look writer, you need to get things started. It is almost Thanksgiving in the U.S. and you signed up for National Novel Writing Month, which means you have to write 50,000 words.
  2. You have written none.
  3. That’s because you can’t think of a first line.
  4. You are having first line anxiety. This is normal. This is very writer of you.
  5. So, be even more of a writer about this and procrastinate by cooking potatoes in a slow cooker.
  6. Put the potatoes, parmesan rind (if you have something that fancy) heavy cream, milk, garlic, and sage into the slow cooker.
  7. Um. Plug it in, honey. It needs electricity.
  8. Okay, now put the cover on and press the numbers for either high (4-5 hours) or low (6-8 hours).
  9. Stare at your computer’s blank document for all that time, trying to be all Hemingway and create the perfect sentence.
  10. Give up and check on the potatoes.
  11. Are they fork tender?
  12. If yes? Coolio. Turn the heat to warm. If not? Cook more and check again.
  13. Drain potatoes. Do not burn yourself. Do not drain the cream.
  14. Throw out the herbs and rind. Like adverbs, they have served their purpose in this first draft and you are CUT CUT CUTTING them out.
  15. Put the potatoes through a ricer or mash them.
  16. Put them back in the pot. If you go the mashing route, you can do this in the pot to make less dishes. Less dishes equals happier writers.
  17. Add that 1.5 cups of cream you didn’t toss. Add the butter.
  18. Does it not look right? Add more cream until it does. The potatoes are like a first sentence. You’ve got to revise it until it’s snazzy.
  19. Add salt and pepper to snaz it up.
  20. Now, enter the world of best sellers and add cheese. Look at you, you rock star! Stir it up. Put the cover on. Cook for 15 minutes. The cheese should be melted.
  21. They can stay this way for four hours.
  22. Eat them.
Recipe Notes

This recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cooking sites in the universe. The Half Baked Harvest. Head over there to see the recipe in non-writer (sane human) form and the variations for insta pot and stove.

Making Powerful First Lines

Everyone talks about first lines and how important they are for establishing voice, setting the tone, hooking your reader and never letting go.

It’s intriguing to see how first lines change or don’t. I checked out some of my first and last lines from my books and they are below and we’ll be talking about first lines for a few posts. This is just the first one.

But before we do, let me ask:

Do you have any favorites from books?

What was it that grabbed you?

Do you do that in your own books?

How Do You Make A Powerful First Line? What are the Traits?

  • You make it mysterious.
  • You make it have a strong voice.
  • You make it surprising.
  • You make it goofy or funny.
  • You make it understandable.
  • You make it authentic.

Here are Some Examples From My Books

Mostly they show how my first lines changed or didn’t. And how they met those above qualities or didn’t. Just like all of you, I’ve learned and evolved or devolved during these years.

Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend

Original:
He wants to know why it happens.

Final:
He wants to know why it happens.


Love (and other uses for duct tape)

Original:

You think you know people and then it turns out you don’t.

Final:

You think you know people and then it turns out you don’t.


Girl, Hero

Original:
Dear, Mr. Wayne, My mother’s got a man coming to see her.

Final:
Dear, Mr. Wayne, My mother’s got a man coming to see her.

Need (2009):

Original: My parents drove me to the airport with the air conditioner on full blast.

Current: Everybody has fears, right?

TIME STOPPERS

Original: The dog raced through the Maine woods, keeping up with the little car speeding down the rural road.

Revision For a Long Time: “Remember, you’re not special, Annie,” Mrs. Betsey said.

Final: “Remember , you’re not special, Annie,” Mrs. Betsey told the small girl next to her as they stood on the rickety wooden step of the trailer.



Weird (not published yet, YA paranormal)


Original: Blake and I lie naked on the grass in my backyard, looking up at the sky and we’re all lazy feeling, because, yes, we had sex, and no, having sex is not a big deal.

Current: Blake and I lie naked on the grass in my backyard, looking up at the sky and we’re all lazy feeling, because, yes, we had sex, and no, having sex is not a big deal.

Flying:


Original: I wake up scared.
Current: I wake up scared

The Fae (not published yet, MG fantasy)

Original: The first cat shuddered and stalked through the yard to sit under the biggest maple tree. 


Current: Somebody had locked him in.


How about you? Have you ever gone back and looked at your first lines then and now. It’s kind of scary. Seriously. Do you want to share?


Sharing is good.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Make Your Books Like Wedgies and Commitment is Not a Dirty Word or Is It?

Make Your Books Like Wedgies and Commitment is Not a Dirty Word or Is It?

 
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Seriously. The best books are like wedgies. You can’t ignore them. They get right up inside you and into places they aren’t supposed to go.

And sometimes it’s hard to get them out.

This week Carrie talked to a lot of her writers about how if you don’t long to write your scenes, your readers probably aren’t going to long to read those scenes either.

And recently the New York Times talked to Steve Martin (actor, writer, comedian) about books. He’s allegedly addicted to audiobooks, which is cool.

He said, “I’m also a sucker for the magic of opening paragraphs. I’ll never understand what the sorcery is in literature and movies that engages you immediately and makes it impossible to look away.”

A wedgie engages you immediately.

And a book can do that too, sometimes. But sometimes it’s not like a wedgie; it’s more like a bad 8-hour Zoom meeting about land use ordinances and setback requirements in a town you’ll never visit.

So how do you keep your book from being boring?

You wedgify it. Yes, we made up that word.

HOW DO YOU WEDGIFY A BOOK?

  1. You go all in. Make the conflict as big as possible.
  2. You have dynamic scenes where things happen. Not just the character’s meandering thoughts about Zoom meetings.
  3. You make us care. Wedgies matter because your bum matters.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Go all in with your stories. Make the conflict (internal or external) huge, presidential huge. But more than that, make us care about who the conflict is happening to.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Commitment is not a dirty word.

We talk about this in our random thought and how David Brooks (the writer) has some issues regarding privilege and class as we all do, but here is something interesting that he wrote in his book, which uses two mountains as a metaphor for our journey and aspirations in life.

Moral formation is not individual; it is relational. Character is not something you build sitting in a room thinking about the difference between right and wrong and about your own willpower. Character emerges from our commitments. If you want to inculcate character in someone else, teach them how to form commitments — temporary ones in childhood, provisional ones in youth, permanent ones in adulthood. Commitments are the school for moral formation. When your life is defined by fervent commitments, you are on the second mountain.

David Brooks

That second mountain? It’s not just happiness. It’s joy. It’s as David Schools paraphrases it, “a journey to a moral life.”

And what are those commitments? It’s not just marriage so do not panic! It’s also family, vocation, faith/philosophy, and community.

Schools says:

“Full exploration of material, experiential, and intellectual aims leave you hungry for more, restless from comparison, and lonely in your deepest substrate. It’s exhausting. The self is unable to remain in a state of permanent satisfaction.

“This is what Brooks came to find in his own journey. What then is left? You decide to “settle” for that dirty word. Commitment. Only commitments matter. Paradoxically, they are actually what make you feel most alive and here’s why:

“You love what you sacrifice for. When you give yourself away to someone or something, you find a sense of purpose that isn’t focused on the rat wheels of personal development or self-improvement. Instead, you find an exhilarating freedom that connects with other people on a deeper level.”

David Schools

That’s a pretty big dog tip for life right there. And for you writers listening out there, it is the commitments we have to our book and that our characters have to each other that make the meaningful wedgies.

SHOUT OUT!

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.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!

Thanks so much for being one of the 253,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

RESOURCES AND LINKS MENTIONED IN THE PODCAST EPISODE

https://entrepreneurshandbook.co/millennials-loathe-this-one-word-but-its-exactly-what-they-re-looking-for-6f7dee52f6b9

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My haiku was posted on the wall because:


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

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

My haiku (for the record)

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

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

2. What’s your favorite writing outfit? 

If I am dressed, I consider it a miracle.

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

Microsoft Word

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

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

Him.

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

When I am fully awake. This sometimes never happens.

6. What’s your favorite genre?

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

I’m just easy.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Ignore advice.

Fine. I won’t be snarky. Um….

How about:

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


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

My Patreon site I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD.

I also share some writing tips that are also going to be on Teachable as the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME and send people art.

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

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

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Be Brave Friday.



I’ve been staring at this post for a good long time because I’m not feeling super brave right now, which is fine.

Bravery comes. It goes. It’s not a constant state. Nothing is a constant state, right?

I was going to talk about how this is the first year where being an author wasn’t my main source of income.

I know, right? Weird.

I actually have made more this year teaching other adults writing, editing novels, and being a writing coach and podcaster.

That’s a weird shift.

I love all those things, too.

I love seeing people find their voice, their stories’ truths, making themselves and craft stronger.

So that’s all good, but it means I’m not just or mainly a writer anymore.It’s so weird and kind of dumb (sorry) to think how in our country who we are is so linked to our main source of income. But I’m no less a writer this year than any other.

We are what we do, how we act, what we stand for, what we stand against. We are how we listen, how we evolve, how we challenge ourselves, how we connect and commit to others. We aren’t just our profession, the number of hours we work or our income.

And here’s my very much a work-in-progress painting, which represents the very much work-in-progress that is me and my country. It’s rough and dorky like me. 🙂

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

EAT THE MASHED TURNIP IT IS DESPERATE TIMES, AUTHOR – COOKING WITH A WRITER

I am a potato fan. But all our potatoes lately have been – gasp – green. It’s desperate times, my friend, so I’m trying to convince the carnivores in the family that mashed turnips is an okay substitute.

EAT THE MASHED TURNIP IT IS DESPERATE TIMES, AUTHOR - COOKING WITH A WRITER

If you are trying to do this in your own home story, do not let the other cast of characters see the actual turnip before you mash the bugger.

Also, um, buy my books. 🙂

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Print Recipe
EAT THE MASHED TURNIP IT IS DESPERATE TIMES, AUTHOR
This is adapted from THE SPRUCE EATS, one of my favorite recipe sites. https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-delicious-mashed-turnips-2217302
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people who aren't annoying about turnips
Ingredients
Course side dish
Cuisine american
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people who aren't annoying about turnips
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Find turnips out there somewhere. Do not judge them by their looks. Admire their looks. It's like an ombre.
  2. Give the turnips a bath like they were at Burning Man for weeks.
  3. Peel the turnips. Think about peeling back the layers of character motivation.
  4. Cut turnips into big pieces. Make those pieces the same size.
  5. Wonder why things must be the same size to cook evenly. It seems unfair. Try not to feel too much empathy for this cut up, peeled, and cleaned turnip pieces.
  6. Cry because you really wanted potatoes and you can't do this any longer.
  7. Why must everything be so hard?
  8. Cry more and go write a sonnet about hard times and turnips.
  9. Put turnips in a pot.
  10. Drown them with cold water.
  11. Recite your Turnip Sonnet Eulogy. Make sure to mention muses and potatoes and feeling like you're never good enough, darn it. Never!
  12. Cry and bring to a boil.
  13. Put salt in the water.
  14. Don't let the water boil over because that will be a starchy mess like your tear-stained face and sonnet.
  15. Cook those babies until fork tender. This takes around 10 to 15 minutes post boiling.
  16. Find another pan.
  17. Heat the milk in it over low heat.
  18. Add the butter. Let the butter melt into the milk. Take it off the heat. Convince yourself nobody will notice these are turnips and not potatoes just like nobody noticed that your erotic novel was a christian allegory.
  19. Drain the turnips.
  20. Put the turnips back in their pot.
  21. Shake it a lot for three minutes while singing that Taylor Swift song about shaking things off. Wonder if you can incorporate that into your turnip sonnet. Shake things for 2-3 minutes. Things mean turnips, pots, your bum.
  22. Mash the turnips.
  23. Add via stirring the milk and butter mix.
  24. Add salt. Salt is good. Salt should be in the sonnet.
Recipe Notes

Again, this comes from Molly Watson at The Spruce Eats and the link is here. 

Seven Otis Men And My Own Little Soldier On Veteran’s Day

It’s Veterans Day and I’d like to thank my dad and Em, and all my current friends and relatives who have served or are serving.

I’ve pasted in a piece I wrote back in May or June a few years ago about soldiers from Otis, Maine. Some of you may have already read it. So no worries. It just seemed like the right day to post it again and the right day for me to remember.

When I wrote this, I never imagined that my daughter would graduate Harvard and enlist becoming a field artillery officer, but she did. The pictures here are of her.

Seven Handsome Otis Men

There aren’t a lot of people at the Otis town meeting, but you can tell that they are a patriotic bunch. They file into the Beech Hill School, Saturday morning, sit in the folding chairs and wait for the meeting to start. There are a few flag lapel pins. There’s a gentle hum in the air, but I’m having a hard time focusing.

Why?

It’s not because I have one minute to address the residents and to tell them why I’m running for the state house of representatives.

It’s not because I’m sitting right next to Brian Langley, the other person running for the House District #38 seat. I like Brian. It’s fun to sit next to him.

It’s not because one of the women in charge announced that she doesn’t like politicians and since I’m running for the state house, I am now officially a politician not a writer or a mom or a wife. My identity has become another label. I am suddenly a politician and therefore suspect. That’s not it though.

I’m having a hard time focusing because on the front of the Otis Annual Report are the pictures of seven handsome men.

Some of them are smiling at the camera.

Some of them look serious.

But these sons of Otis have a couple things in common:

All of them look proud.

All of them are in uniform.

I stare at the pictures of Michael Manheim, Justin Smith, Steven Wiesner, William Dunn, Ike King, Joseph Cammack and Jason Fishburn. Michael and Steven are in the Navy. Justin, and Joseph are in the Army. Jason is a Marine. William is in the Air National Guard and Ike is in the US Air Force.

Just seeing their picture makes my eyes tear up a little bit. Just seeing their pictures makes me think about how they made the stories of their lives about service, about putting everything on the line for us, all of us, even the politicians.

The Otis Annual Report reads, “Let’s Honor Our Local Soldiers. On the fifth anniversary of the War in Iraq, no matter where you are serving, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

They are.

MORE THAN SPEECHES

And that’s why I’m having a hard time focusing. These seven men from Otis are more important than whatever I can possibly say in my one-minute “I’m running for office” speech.

People sometimes tell me that I’m courageous because I’m running for office. I was spat on. I was trapped in a house. I was made fun of. None of that mattered. ever.

I never know how to explain to them that I’m far from courageous; that running for office is a privilege that Americans have. It’s part of what makes our country truly special. We wouldn’t have that though if it weren’t for men like Michael, Justin, Steven, William, Ike, Joseph and Jason. Without them (and the men and women before them) risking their lives, leaving their families, working 24-7 in dangerous places, I might not be able to run for office.

These men are heroes, real heroes. If they get deployed and if they don’t.


And on Saturday morning I see their faces and realize how my story, and the story of Otis, would be different if it wasn’t for men and women like them.

I know Em’s story by heart because that soldier is my daughter. I know all the bits of her life that make her something much bigger than a demographic or a statistic. Not all soldiers are alike. Not all are in my family or my friends group, but all of them were and are willing to stand for a constitution and way of life that they believe in so much that they’ll battle for it.

The least we can do is fight for it in our own way too, make it better, preserve its best parts and build it up together.

I don’t know how I can ever say thank you to all our veterans for being heroes, but I know that I have to try now and keep trying, possibly for the rest of my life.

So, thank you Michael, Justin, Steven, William, Ike, Joseph, and Jason.

And Em.

Thank you to all the men and women whose names I do not know and those whose names I do know. Thank you.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

Is Passion a Bad Choice? A Job A Career or a Calling

Is Passion a Bad Choice? A Job A Career or a Calling

 
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This week during the blitz of U.S. election news, there was an article gaining some traction called “Seven Life Lessons Everyone Should Learn Sooner Rather Than Later” by Nicholas Cole who Carrie wants to call Nicholas Cage because she is old like that.

Carrie has a tendency to hate these kind of articles because she thinks they are trite and insipid.

But his first point hit home. It was, “If you want to ‘do what you love,’ you have to work three times as hard as everyone else.”

“Most people do not get to spend their lives doing whatever it is they love. Instead, they do what they are told they should do or what their parents or town or friends or peers suggest that they do. Or they simply pursue nothing close to their heart at all.”

N.Cole

Is this you?

Do you love something?

Do you do it?

He said, “But if you want to do what you love, you need to see that as a privilege, not an expectation.”

Which is interesting. What does that mean, right?

Carrie does what she loves. But to be fair, Carrie loves everything she does whether it’s being a YMCA gymnastics coach, a church secretary, a student, a newspaper editor.

“I love all the things,” Carrie says.

Cole never says anything about his assertion that you have to work three times harder to do what you love. And we’re not sure where that comes from because he doesn’t source anything. It might just be a generalization, but we wanted to make sure.

WORST CAREER ADVICE EVER?

Despite an exhaustive internet search of five minutes, we couldn’t find anything that backed Cole’s assertion, but we did find an article by Jeff Haden, which said the worst career advice is to do what you love.

He quotes Cal Newport, Georgetown University professor and author of So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Search For Work You Love.

“Telling someone to follow their passion–from an entrepreneur’s point of view–is disastrous. That advice has probably resulted in more failed businesses than all the recessions combined… because that’s not how the vast majority of people end up owning successful businesses.

“Passion is not something you follow,” he adds. “Passion is something that will follow you as you put in the hard work to become valuable to the world.”

Cal Newport

According to Haden, passions are a bad choice because:

  1. They take time to cultivate.
  2. It’s rare to actually have a career passion.
  3. Passion is a side effect of mastery at something.
  4. Working hard and improving your skills is more important than finding the perfect job.

“Roughly speaking, work can be broken down into a job, a career, or a calling. A job pays the bills; a career is a path towards increasingly better work; a calling is work that is an important part of your life and a vital part of your identity. (Clearly most people want their work to be a calling.)

“According to research, what is the strongest predictor of a person seeing her work as a calling?

“The number of years spent on the job. The more experience you have the more likely you are to love your work.

“Why? The more experience you have the better your skills and the greater your satisfaction in having those skills. The more experience you have the more you can see how your work has benefited others. And you’ve had more time to develop strong professional and even personal relationships with some of your employees, vendors, and customers.”

Haden

So, yeah? So, no? What do you think? You can hear what we think in the audio of our podcast and hear the random thoughts from our daily lives, too.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

To be the best writer you can be, write. But more than that, figure out why you want to write? Is it a job? You’re doing it for some cash, hopefully. Is it a career? Or is it a calling?


DOG TIP FOR LIFE:

Don’t let random people subvert your passion. Just because they wrote it on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true. That goes for us, too.

SHOUT OUT

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.

LINK TO HADEN’S ARTICLE:

https://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/worst-career-advice-do-what-you-love.html


LET’S HANG OUT!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!

Thanks so much for being one of the 253,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com