Grover and John, Writers’ Inner Cheerleaders and Inner Critics

For those of you who don’t know me, or know that I’m crazy, let me explain about Grover and John.

Sometimes when you are a writer you become paralyzed by fear. 

Come on my dear. Write! Just 1,000 words. You can do it. 

No! No! I couldn’t possibly!

You think you suck. You worry about tiny two-word phrases in reviews that could possibly be negative. You wonder if you are totally unoriginal, if you have anything to say, and even if you do have something to say, why say it?

I CAN’T DO THIS!! is often our writing mantra.

This attitude basically leads to sitting in front of the computer staring, or sometimes throwing yourself on the couch and having a good cry.

To combat this, I’ve enlisted Grover and John Wayne.

Grover is the nice one. He disco celebrates with me. 

Let’s dance, Cawwie!

He occasionally deposits raunchy sexual hints.

Oh, Cawwie. You can do it. Do you want to pet my kitty? 

He makes me feel better and when all else fails we just get totally tanked together and talk about the good times.

I am trying to find a source for this image. If it is yours, please let me know.

Do you remember when your books were on the New York Times bestsellers’ list, Cawwie? That can happen again.

God love you for a liar, Grover.

And then there is John, the Inner Critic.


John is the task masker, the enforcer. He gets out that big gun (Do not say anything sexual, Grover) and gets me to work. 

I mean it kid, I am sick to death of all this whining. 

He tells me not to feel sorry for myself or wimp out. 

Do you really want to deal with this, little woman, huh? You want to have a piece of this? 


Today is a John day. Blah.

Take a look at this, Carrie. It’ll make you feel better. I’m a cookie jar.


Yeah, great John.

But anyway, we all have inner cheerleaders and inner critics, but we tend to pay much more attention to those inner critics, those storylines telling us we suck, we’ll fail, that there’s no point. Those critics? They need to be banished. We need to cultivate and listen to our inner cheerleaders instead.

Why?

Because there is enough negative forces out there in this world that we navigate bashing against us. We don’t need to join them. We don’t need to bash ourselves, too. Often the first step to success in our lives and the first to making lasting positive change in this world, is to embrace the good, the positive, to cultivate it, to grow it in ourselves and others. Spread that. Be your own damn cheerleader and cheer on others, too.

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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Risking being bruised and misunderstood. Audre Lord and writing

I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.

Audre Lord wrote that in a paper she delivered at Modern Language Association’s “Lesbian and Literature Panel,” Chicago, Illinois, December 28, 1977. It was first published in Sinister Wisdom 6 (1978) and The Cancer Journals (Spinsters, Ink, San Francisco, 1980). It also appeared in Lord’s book, Sister Outsider (  Freedom, California: Crossing Press, 1984 ).  


I wonder how often writers self-censor for fear of being ‘bruised or misunderstood.’ I’m thinking not just of books and thinking of how scary it is for me to read random reviews. Even though they are almost all great reviews, there’s still that wound that comes sometimes.

But I’m also thinking about how the best books resonate with an author’s truths. The best books have something underneath the surface and that something is what an author believes.

So, basically, this has also made me think about what is most important to me.


There’s so many things that are important to me, but I think one of them is what Lord calls “barriers to loving.” She calls racism, sexism, heterosexism and homophobia types of human blindness. Human blindness is the “inability to recognize the notion of difference as a dynamic human force, one which is enriching rather than threatening to the defined self.” **

I love that quote. I mean, I really, really love it. 

I’m sure she’d include classism in that mix as well. But how about the differences in political thought? In abstinence education? In forgiveness theories? There are so many kinds of differences. There are so many different belief systems, not just within our country or in the world, but just in our county, just in our town. I’m not sure if I’m always as upfront as I could be about what I believe, and it’s got to be fear that holds me back sometimes. 


What about you? 

What do you believe?

Do you write your truths? If you aren’t a writer, do you live your truths? Speak them? Or are you afraid?

** First published in The Black Scholar, vol. 9, no. 7 (1978) and later in Sister Outsider

WRITING NEWS

THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman. 

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best. 

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Let’s Write a Best Seller

There are a lot of different ways to write a best seller, but the three of the most common features are these:

THREE MAIN HINTS TO MAKE A BEST SELLER

  1. You have to engage the reader.
  2. You have to keep them hooked.
  3. Make them loyal.

Easier said than done, right?

Maybe not.

Think of what your story is about. Can you pitch the idea in less than fifty words? Less than twenty-five? Can you gel its essence down into a quick pitch? That’s the high concept.

High Concept is a Really a big Question

What’s your big dramatic question?

Will the kid survive the evil wizard?

Will the young reporter fall in love with Mr. Bondage?

Will a resourceful young adult survive a pixie apocalypse?

Let the reader know from the very beginning what your story is about. Will Harry Potter survive the dark wizard Voldemort? Will Eleanor and Park fall in love? Who will die in this John Green novel?

Keeping the reader hooked

This is where the obstacles and complications come in.

How do we keep our heroine challenged? What is in his or her way? Will her big dramatic question change into a new dramatic question.

MAKING EMOTION

The other element is that we have to have a character who responds to things emotionally. That’s what makes the story resonate. Our character already has a want. There are complications to the want. But more than that, the hero has to have intense emotions and reactions to those complications.

When Harry Potter has to dig deep and be brave, when he has to look in the Mirror of Desire and confront his deepest longings, when he has to face the wizard, know his friends might die (and on and on), he reacts emotionally and intensely and the stakes of his decisions have emotional consequences that elevate the reader and incite empathy.

Because we feel so connected to that character, we become loyal to that character. When we have that connection and loyalty? That book? It becomes something magical.

Writing Tip of the Pod

The best books hook the readers early, elevate the stakes, and make us connected to the character.

Dog Tip for Life.

Do not stay still. Go after your dreams.

Random Thought Rundown

If you listen to the podcast, you’ll hear:

  • Carrie scream in the car and take the Lord’s name in vain as she sees bear cubs run across the road.
  • Shaun cranky about border patrol agents
  • Big foot talk
  • More beautiful weirdness.

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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Let’s Write a Best Seller

 
 
00:00 / 00:27:35
 
1X
 

There is a Hole in My Mouth and It’s Not My Esophagus.

All week long, I share posts of my dogs and now cats on Twitter and Facebook and occasionally Instagram.

Those thoughts are about being positive, being vulnerable, being strong, making it through the week and trying to make your story the best it can be.

Here’s today’s.

Your spirit can stir the world.

Your love can create so many chapters in so many people’s (& dogs’) stories.

Let’s fill this world with stories, disperse them like treats, reward the good behaviors.

Let’s train.

You deserve goodness & love. We’ve got this.

xo Gabby Dog

I do this because it’s important to me to share love and to be kind in big and little ways. And it’s important for me to be vulnerable and remind myself about strength and motivation.

So I’m about to share something I TOTALLY DO NOT WANT TO SHARE.

I’m about to have super costly medical expenses this year thanks to a tooth that was once hurt by someone doing evil.

Yep.

I just went there. There is the place I swore I would never go. But being a writer doesn’t provide dental insurance and I’m freaking out about this because I’m pretty sure that this afternoon I’m going to learn that I need to spend about $4,000 to get the hole that has reappeared in my face fixed.

Yep.

I have a hole in my face! AGHK! I thought I’d never go there either. 🙂 Because that hole is not the one that’s supposed to be there. And it makes me feel like I’m the most repulsive human on the earth.

But more than that? It’s like this reminder of bad things, bad times that I thought I was done being reminded of. It’s like those ripples and memories are some evil monster in a 1980s horror movie that keeps coming back to life to stab the hero again. The undead just won’t stay dead.

And I’m a bit tired of that.

So, I’m psyched to hopefully get this new hole fixed, but none too happy about having to spend the money to do it. 🙂

And here’s to the bad times and bad memories staying dead.

WRITING NEWS

The Netherlands is AwesomE

Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman.

Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Never Give Up Hope. How I Got Published Even When I Did Everything Wrong

I was trying to think of something cool and pithy to write here today, but I can’t think of anything.

Yesterday, I was interviewed by a reporter who is writing an article about me for our paper and she reminded me of how I did absolutely everything wrong when I was submitting my first book. So, I thought that maybe if I shared that story with you all, it would ease up some of the pressure you put on yourselves and your writing to be perfect. 

how did carrie get published?

It begins as all good things do with an email announcing the creation of Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn. Flux was accepting YA novels. Hhm? I thought to myself. I just wrote a YA novel. Sure, I hadn’t shown it to my advisor at Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. Sure, I hadn’t let ANYONE read it. Sure, I only just wrote it in the last month and it was rough, rough, rough. But I sent it in. I chugged out a cover letter. I found some stamps. I mailed it.

Here is what followed, taken from my Livejournal entries.

Sweet Editor Man called me within a week of me mailing the manuscript. Seriously. It was wild.

the 30th, 2006

Okay. Here’s the big question of the day: Why am I so stupid?

I will work on the self esteem exercises tomorrow… but today! Today! Today I am allowed to realize the full extent of my idiotness.

Here’s why.

I sent out some manuscript queries on Thursday.

I get a phone call this morning, from a real live editor who says, “Um, is this C.C. Jones?”

“Yes,” I say while pouring out cat food on the table.

He then proceeds to tell me he got my query, wants to see more of my manuscript, but his email requesting it bounced back.

“Really?” I say. “That’s weird.”

“Let me tell you the address,” he says. “cjonese at…”

“Oh,” I say. “Oh. Oh. Oh.”

“What?” he says.

“There’s no e on the end of Jones.”

“I didn’t think so,” he says.

I then apologize and berate myself for not even being able to spell my own last name! What an idiot. He gives me an email address. I send him the rest of the manuscript.

Yeah, that baby’s going somewhere. Not.

Although, he was kind and he did say, “It’s the manuscript I care about, not your inability to spell your own name.”

What a nice man. Even when he rejects the manuscript. He’s still a darn nice guy.

This means now that MY BOOK has been requested. The JOHN WAYNE LETTERS has been requested (by agent and house). And another book, which was crucified at workshop, has been requested. Will anyone actually buy anything? No…. And if they did, will they be able to contact me? Not unless I can remember to get my email address right. Geesh.

the 31st, 2006

So, despite the fact that I can’t spell, the nice editor man called me back yesterday and talked to me for 40 minutes and told me all the good stuff about my book and what he thinks could get better. It was like talking to a Vermont College mentor. It was really cool. He was brilliant and really, really nice.

And he’s starting the book through the acquisitions process at his imprint, which is really cool… But, I’m not getting my hopes up about it, until papers are signed.

Still, he had the best insight on the piece and I am so excited about working on it. So, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to go work on it. He only wants another 10,000 words. Geesh. Piece of cake. Ha.

the 4th, 2006

Well, here’s a quick update on the sweet editor man. He sent me an email, which I can not quote verbatim, because it’s somehow infringing on copyright. HOWEVER, he said that he wanted to let me know what’s going on, that the piece is heading to the acquisitions committee on Thursday and he’ll call me when they’re done.

That is so sweet of him.

But now I’m going to be a nervous wreck until Friday and I’m already hyper and neurotic enough as it is. I think everyone in my family will soon disown me.

On a positive note, I wrote 15,000 more words on it this week and I’m really happy with it. It’s done the Sarah A. rubbing thing, where the characters work off each other. I’ve put more setting in, which is good because I’m weak with setting. I’ve also changed the ending and added a couple of conflict scenes. Oh, and sweet editor man said he hopes I’d have a great weekend. Is he crazy? As I told Emily Wing Smith, no matter what happens I’ve made the piece better already, so I can’t complain when he dumps my butt. So, yeah… Now, back to revising my critical thesis.

the 9th, 2006

Um, okay… Sweet Editor man called and he continues to be Sweet Editor Man.

He talked to the acquisitions committee today and wanted to call me about it before he battled the snowstorm and drove home. He said they were all “very enthusiastic about it.” They liked the writing, especially the details and he said even the people who don’t like YA were hooked.

YIPPPEEEE!!!!

So, he’s calling me in the morning to give me contract details, etc… which is great except I know absolutely nothing about contracts because I never thought I’d get offered one. Oh, the stupidity of me continues….

the 3rd, 2006

Well, today was a happy fine day because today the JOHN WAYNE LETTERS (title soon to be changed I am sure) passed an acquisitions committee and is now officially wanted with an offer on the table.

Yippee!!!

What karma gods did I appease? Was it when I helped the little old lady at the grocery store heft her 20-lb bag of kitty litter on to the checkout thing? Was it when I agreed to help run the middle school civil rights team or the drama club?

Was it simply when I refused to succumb to road rage when the guy in the Subaru refused to yield and almost t-boned me? Instead of succumbing to road rage, I thought, ‘Oh, perhaps I’ll get a new car out of this. I hope there’s no major injuries involved.’

I don’t know why. I’m just happy. That’s two YA books now. Now I need to find someone who’ll like my middle grade.

AND my birthday was good despite the fact that I am now old, old, old because I am the same age my mother was when she had me. That is just horrifying. Sigh.

No, wait. I am happy, happy, happy. So happy, in fact, that I’ll even spell check this.

I am not an officially published author yet, because no contracts have been signed but I AM SO CLOSE!

Now in 2019

That book was published here and in Canada (French and English). Some bookstores did not carry it because it had the word ‘gay’ in the title. It won a Maine Literary award. It won an Independent Book Publishers award, but it also made me a writer and started me off on the weird journey that I’m on. 

All that happened despite the absolute lack of perfection.

So have hope. No matter what your dreams. You can do this even if you can’t spell your own last name.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That’s Sexy.

Jared Leto is a somewhat polarizing guy for who-knows-what reason. He’s model-pretty, a vegan, an award-winning actor and a musician. And there’s this quote I (Carrie) read that struck a chord. 

“When you commit to something that’s seemingly impossible,” he says, referring to ascents both metaphorical and literal, “and you’re pushing through things that are seemingly hostile, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, we did that,’ that’s a great feeling. And a little bit of pain isn’t a bad thing.”

Jared Leto to Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt

A lot of us writers whine a lot about writing. I’m not sure why that is. Is it because we’re plumbing the deep emotional recesses in our brain? Is it because we are creating an entire pretend world? 

I used to get super cranky about this because compared to being a firefighter or an emergency dispatcher or juggling eighteen jobs as a single parent, it felt to me like everyone was a little bit whiny. 

Then I realized that It’s because being committed to something, to a craft, to something when you are never going to be perfect, where you’ll always have room to grow? It can play a bit of havoc on your emotional wellbeing. But that’s okay. It’s like Leto says, you want to commit to that impossible thing to get the payoff. You want to be all in. Not a dabbler in writing or in life. 

How to Commit

Emalie Jacobs has some nice hints on her blog about how to do that, to be committed. They are basically: 

  • Plan to write every day.
  • Stay committed. 
  • Aim for a word count.
  • Plan early. 
  • Find your people.

And all of this is so much of what the Write! Submit! Support! class that I teach at the Writing Barn is all about. 

Back to Leto. Leto doesn’t dabble. He’s a method actor, a method singer, method artist and probably a method human. He commits wholeheartedly or he doesn’t commit at all. That’s true when he’s on stage singing or when he’s on the screen acting. He becomes. 

Becomes. 

Dabbling is the opposite of commitment. It’s an exploration. That can be good. But you don’t want to get so caught up in the explorations that you never focus. 

“I don’t dabble,” he said in that Rolling Stone interview. “I dive in. 1,000 percent.” 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t dabble. Commit fully to living the writing life. Don’t let other things take priority over your dreams.

Dog Tip for Life

Proofread your poop. 

Random ThoughtS

In our random thought portion of the podcast this week, we talk about:

  1. Carrie giving up dabbling
  2. Emcee duties at the MDI YWCA’s Women of Distinction event
  3. Hyphens. Semicolons. Politicians of all sides failing to have copyeditors.
  4. How do we trust reporters and politicians with big decisions when they can’t proofread things.

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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That’s Sexy.

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:54
 
1X
 

Let’s Talk About Setting

Setting is where your story happens. It’s the time period. It’s the physical place. You can have more than one setting.

There. That’s the definition. We’re all good, right?

Wrong.

Let’s really talk about setting.

What Setting Does

Setting is the foundation of your story. It is the ModPodge that has an addictive smell (Cough. Not addicted to ModPodge. Look away.) and glues all the story together.

What Happens Without Setting

Your characters float around in nothingness.

Your plot makes no sense. You can’t have hamsters taking over the world if there is no world.

You have no theme. You can’t care about the kindness of strangers if there is no reason for the strangers to need to be kind.

You have no atmosphere. Atmosphere is sexy. It’s the feeling of the story. The ambience.

How Do You Make Setting?

Go in slow. Don’t overwhelm us with details about the Hamster World of Ham-Ham-Ster and its 87 leaders of the Teddy Bear Nation. Establish it. Move on and sprinkle in important details as you go. Be sparing. Only add to overall story.

Figure out what pieces of the setting matter the most. Is it the claustrophobic trees? The swarms of tourists disembarking cruiseships. The smell of blood coming from the old, wooden floorboards? Use those details. Not the kind of coffee your heroine puts in her Keurig.

Make it active. The setting matters as the characters see it, move through it, react to it. Whatever is weird about that place and how your characters interact with it? Focus on that.

Don’t be afraid to go places, to use Google maps, the internet. Do everything you can to get fully into that place.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Don’t Do the Living Alone

While most people know me as a young adult author thanks to the NEED series, I wrote  TIME STOPPERS, a middle-grade series published with Bloomsbury and before my time at Vermont College of Fine Art’s MFA program, I was a newspaper columnist, editor, and poet.

Write Across Genres

I think it is super cool how writers can write across platforms and how their work can change as the world changes, their understandings change, and their own needs change.

The take away here is:  don’t be hemmed in by just writing one thing! Write what you want. 

More info on all the different things I’ve written, plus writing tips are on my website.

This is a photo of me after receiving VCFA’s distinguished alum award. You can tell I acting in a super distinguished manner right after that. Kekla Magoon also received one. She was way more poised. 

So, to harken back to that era of writing, here’s a column that was in a paper a few years ago. It ran alongside an article about drug use in Maine and the lack of care for transients with alcohol and/or drug dependencies. 

Dying Alone

It wasn’t until well into the afternoon that we found him, dead beneath a shed on Water Street. Then he was only spotted because an oil spill into the Union River brought firefighters and reporters close by.

We noticed his naked feet first. Then we saw him stretched out between car tires and a garage door.

 The Bangor Daily News reporter I was with told the firefighters who were still down by the river trying to mop up oil.

“Guys, there’s a body up here,” he said. His voice was quiet, still, a nothing voice and the words fell out into the world and for a moment nobody moved.

 “A body?”

But Kenneth Butler was more than a body. He was a man.

According to Ellsworth police, Kenny Butler had a long history of medical problems, including heart trouble. No one’s quite sure where he was living before he died by abandoned car tires last week.

On a normal day, people go missing. Sometimes that gets noticed. Sometimes it doesn’t. On a normal day, people die. Sometimes that gets noticed. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I noticed Kenny Butler’s death. So did that Bangor Daily News reporter. So did his family.

Kenny Butler drank a lot. He did drugs. He couldn’t go to our county’s only shelter on cold winter days because they don’t allow people who are using drugs or who are drunk. Sometimes when people detox, they have seizures. Sometimes, they get violent. So, Kenny crawled beneath the basement of a shed, wedged himself between an old door and some tires. Then he died, in the cold, alone.

The police came, put on their purple latex gloves, strung up yellow tape to cordon off the area. As they took over, I thought about who Kenny Butler might be. I thought too about people who go missing from our lives by inches every day. The phone calls we fail to return. The smiles we are sometimes afraid to give.

I didn’t work anymore that Friday. My little girl, Em, stood close by all afternoon. She tugged on my sleeve.

 “I don’t want to die alone,” she said.

Her eyes filled and just underneath that edge of sadness, awakening floated.

“I don’t want you to die alone either,” she added.

The wind whipping up off the Union River grew even colder that Friday afternoon. I knew what she meant. She looked up at a treehouse we were working on. It’s high among four trees. We could have stood on the platform, but there weren’t any walls yet, only tree trunks and branches separating us from falling, sheltering us from the sky.

“It’s the living you don’t want to do alone,” I told her. “That’s more important than the dying.”

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Shaun Reveals Why People Divorce. Plus, Hippies and Rotarians.

  00:00 / 00:23:561X

Shaun Reveals Why People Divorce. Plus, Hippies and Rotarians.

This week’s podcast is not our normal format. We drove 27 hours or so this week. Our brains became a bit unglued – Okay. Even more unglued. 

But we talk about:

  1. Writing
  2. Divorce
  3. Why People Get Divorced
  4. How By Using Those Metrics We Will Probably Get Divorced
  5. Paying Attention to Other People’s Stories
  6. Rotarians
  7. The Common Ground Fair

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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Shaun Reveals Why People Divorce. Plus, Hippies and Rotarians.

 
 
00:00 / 00:23:56
 
1X
 

Diversity and Inclusion Aren’t Just the Right Things to Do, They are the Smart Things to Do

“Most people are sardines and they want to survive. They want to do what the powerful people are doing. We (Rotary) are the salmon. We’re going upstream. We’re pushing against the world that was given to us.”

I was so impressed by Todd “Bowtie” Jenkins that I’m double posting today. It’s so important to highlight the people who are choosing to do good in this world. I hope you’ll check him out. This post is also on my Facebook page.

NIAGARA, CANADA – Dynamic motivational speaker and inclusion expert, Rotarian Todd “Bowtie” Jenkins addressed the final day of Rotary International leaders from Canada, the United States, Bermuda, India, and Germany on Saturday. 

The Rotarians spent their last few days of leadership training creating ways to grow their 1.2-million strong global service organization, which focuses on leaders taking action to make their local and global communities healthier, more peaceful, and stronger. 

Leaders stressed that this might seem like a massive task, and it is, but for the organization that has led the charge towards almost completely eradicated polio across the world, nothing is beyond what it can do. 

Rotary is a global organization with clubs across multiple continents connecting the world and innovators. Rotarians like Jenkins want to increase membership and inclusion to make it even stronger. His talk with Rotarians on Saturday morning focused on the power of diversity and inclusion in Rotary. 

The Same Sized Shoe Doesn’t Fit Everyone

“There is a difference in inclusion when you talk about equity and equality,” Jenkins said. To explain inclusion and equity, he used the example of giving everyone a size 10.5 shoe, which would fit him, but wouldn’t fit everyone in the conference room of over 200 Rotarians. If he gave some people that shoe, it would be too small. For some, it would be too big. 

“Equity is giving everyone a shoe that fits them,” Jenkins said, rather than just everybody the same size shoe or Rotary club experience. To do that you have to interact and ask what they need, what kind of shoe they like, or what size they wear.

In an organization like Rotary, Jenkins said, if you give everyone the same shoe or experience or duties, it might not fit them and they might show up to every experience club event or meeting uncomfortable. 

He said, “Everyone does not show up to our clubs with the same access to social capital that we have.” 

Diversity and Inclusion are More Than Just the Right Things To Do

After his keynote speech, Rotarians had the opportunity to engage in facilitated break-out sessions where they brainstormed ways to bring diversity and inclusion into the realms of membership, service projects, and public image. 

“Diversity and inclusion is bigger than the right thing to do. It’s a business case. If we build a stronger and more innovative experience for the global world,” Jenkins said, “everyone wins. If we get this right, we will all win. So many people hear ‘diversity’ and they think of everyone but them.” 

Diversity, he said, includes all demographics.

“A key is to have a dialogue together. Inclusion is everyone. It’s about how to leverage those differences to create equity and do our mission for Rotary,” he said. Jenkins’ own life experience as one of thirteen kids was broadened by Rotary International’s New Generations Exchange, which sent him to Brazil during his young adult years. 

Hope for the Hopeless

Jenkins said, “There is hope for the hopeless because of volunteers like you.” 

Rotary International has a new directive, which is that “each club shall endeavor to build a well-balanced membership that celebrates diversity.” The board of Rotary International wants to have 30 percent of Rotarians be women and for those women to be leaders by 2023. 

“To understand where we’re going, we have to understand where we’re at,” Jenkins said. “We have to be reflective of the people we’re serving.” 

Innovation is what happens when you have inclusion, he stressed. Inclusion begins with the individual Rotarians. 

“We receive every 11 million bits of information every moment. We can only consciously process 40. Our unconsciousness drives our behaviors every day. Sometimes we don’t know when we’re biased because it’s unconscious bias. It’s implicit,” Jenkins said. 

Mindsets are the hardest things to change. People might not know your background. They see how you behave. “It’s not easy to change.”

Being the Salmon

Jenkins said, “Most people are sardines and they want to survive. They want to do what the powerful people are doing. We (Rotary) are the salmon. We’re going upstream. We’re pushing against the world that was given to us.” 

“You have to have an open mind and open heart. You have to have care and compassion. You might not always have empathy, but you can have compassion,” Jenkins said. 

“We have the power to make change,” Tracey Vavarek, a Rotary district governor said. “It starts with me. Make the pledge. We are the salmon.”

Where to Find Todd

Email: bowtietoddspeaks@gmail.com

Facebook: @bowtietoddjenkins

Instagram: dr.bowtietodd

Twitter: bowtietodd

Where to Find More About Rotary and your closest club

Rotary is all over social media, but the best place to find out more is its website.

Where to find out more about me?

Right here, but also here and more about my nonfiction stories here.