Be Brave Friday – Sometimes It’s Hard to Spread Love – Do It Anyway

Every week day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, I post something from my dogs (Gabby and Sparty) or my cats (Marsie, Cloud, and Koko).

I often wonder if there’s a point or if I’m just annoying everyone I know (and don’t) who follow me on social media.


I often think about how I give my thoughts and words to my dogs and cats because it’s the only way I can feel brave enough to say how I feel.


Every once in a while someone will get cranky with me about them, send me a private message and deride me because I still believe in love and goodness and hope.

“Who are you,” they’ll ask, “to believe such things. To share them with the world like you’re so smart or some sort of goody-goody.”


But every once in a while, someone will give me the most beautiful gift, an act of grace, a surprise, and I will cry because I am so stunned and lucky and grateful and relieved that there are so many good people out there.

Those reminders are so important especially when everything seems to be falling apart or actually is falling apart.


In just this past month, Cheryl Rainfield and Richard Small gave me those moments. And I felt so lucky.

This time it was Nora MacFarland who sent me this.

I cried when I saw it. I cried when I opened her cards. I cried when I sent her a thank you message.

I have cried a lot lately and if you’re the type of person who cries, I bet you have, too.


Last year we became full-time parents to a little person with oppositional defiance disorder and she always says after one of her big moments, “Why are people so nice to you?”

And I say, “I’m not sure, but I think it’s because I love people so much so I try to be kind to them.”

“Even people you don’t know?” she says, pretty skeptically honestly because this is hard for her to wrap her head around.

“Even people I don’t know and especially people I do know. Sometimes those people can actually be the hardest.”


I have been so lucky in this life because I do get to know people who go out of their way to give; people like Cheryl and Richard and Nora and so many more. People who offer pea soup because they know I love it. People who tell me I can rant when I need to. People who just read my books and support me on Patreon. People who I get to be a part of their literary and book journeys.

I know how lucky I am. I want you all to be lucky too. 

Nora was so brave to send her amazing art to me, to make this, to share her genius. I hope you can be brave too. I know you can.

Loving your way through tough times, through big cultural hard times and personal horrors can feel almost impossible. But you can. And love and anger aren’t dichotomies that exist in separate spaces. It’s possible to rage and love and cry and hope all at once.
But I hope that as you go through these days, you turn as often as you can to love.


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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

Shaun Takes Over and Talks About Character

            Hi! I know this is Carrie’s blog and you all look forward so much to hearing from her, but today I have commandeered it and I may do that once in a while because she is such an incredible woman and I don’t want her to be so overworked that her magnificence dulls.

An adorable Florida man who moved to Maine
Look! It’s Shaun!

By the way, this is Carrie’s husband. Actually, it should be Carrie’s Husband because that is the actual title I have come to be known by to a good portion of our friends. My birthname is Shaun though, if you didn’t already know, and I am okay with being Carrie’s Husband, because she is that crazy awesome!

            But I digress. I am not an author by any means and Carrie asked me to talk about something to do with writing, maybe a prompt. Ugh, my brain hurts already! So, I took a few minutes to mull over what I would have a hard time doing if I was trying to write a book (I have tried and many accolades to you writer folks.) and I came up with so many ideas it is embarrassing. But I got stuck on one and that is, character traits and/or development. Heck, maybe these are two totally different subjects to you, but as I said, writing is not my bailiwick.

            I thought, “I have no idea how to give words on a page human traits and make them feel real to people. How would I do that?”

Well, I decided that I would sit down and just think and reminisce about the people in my life who influenced me as a young person and who helped make me who I am today.

            My mother and father divorced when I was two years old and I never saw him again until I was nine years old when he came back into my life bearing my two-year-old half-sister. He and my mother eventually got married again, my mother adopted my half-sister. They had another child, my younger brother, and eventually got divorced again when I was in my early  twenties.

I never really liked my father nor did I mesh with his viewpoints on life, although as we both matured, we grew into a polite relationship of acceptance. In reality I just gave up on arguing with him and trying to make him see anybody’s point of view other than his own. Within this paragraph, there are hundreds of story possibilities, but I am only telling you this so that I can say that I was raised and influenced mainly by my mother and my grandfather. There were times when my mother and I lived on our own, with roommates (friends of my mother’s), and also with my grandparents.

Thinking about my mother, father and grandfather brings back so many memories, both good and bad, and to replicate their personality traits would be relatively easy because even as my memories seem to fade, memories of them are still strong and vibrant. 

           So, to make that supremely realistic character I am going to ask you to not think about those people in your life that are so easily remembered, but go beyond them and dig deeper. Think about someone whom you may have forgotten, someone who may not have been in your life long perhaps, but still left an impression, good or bad. We do need both kinds of characters after all.

Just writing this is causing me to remember people that I have forgotten. People who I didn’t otherwise know, but for a brief, chance meeting, but who still left an indelible mark upon me. Such an experience, possibly long forgotten by you, can help you create a character of difference or help you get out of a rut where you feel your characters are not deep enough or possibly seem to similar. 

            I don’t know if anything that I have written will be useable advice to you, but I can say that I have been thinking about this off and on for about four hours now and I have had a great time. Regardless of whether or not I have helped, I would recommend taking this thought journey! I am not one into yoga or meditation but just sitting quietly and pondering this I have basically run the full gamut of emotions and rejuvenated many memories that had faded from the forefront. Truth be known, my eyes are watery ,but that is just part of the process and sometimes I can be an emotional wimp. If there were no emotions involved, it doesn’t seem like a worthwhile experience whether you are trying to create a better character or you are just reminiscing.

            Carrie and I have spoken about character building, in many ways, on our podcast Dogs Are Smarter Than People and I would invite you to listen if you haven’t yet made that journey. There’s a link below.

            Thank you taking the time to read my ramblings and may you have a happy and safe 2021!

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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!



LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

I Don’t Understand Lipstick Tubes

Back before COVID-19, I went to a board meeting on a Monday night for a local non-profit.

The people sitting around the table are passing around a tube of lipstick. Full disclosure: I don’t wear lipstick. Ever. The last time I wore lipstick it was for a play. And someone else put it on me.

Anyways, there’s this piece of paper inside where the lipstick would go and it has the nonprofit’s helpline number and info on it.

The point is that a guy wouldn’t see it hidden in the lipstick, wouldn’t think to look for this kind of info in a woman’s lipstick if he were ransacking her things.

He might not be able to even get the lipstick open, they explained.

I’m not sure that’s terribly accurate in these times, but that was the point. The point was that a woman in danger would know what to do with that lipstick tube and a man wouldn’t.

So the faux lipstick gets to me and I can’t get the paper out. I turn it upside down. I stick in my finger and try to pull it out. Nothing works. Then I realize everyone is staring at me.

The woman next to me takes it:
 Here, Carrie let me try.

She then twists the bottom, which is what you are supposed to do with lip stick!!!!!

I make this total OMG face and then cover my eyes.

People laugh.

She gets all apologetic and hands me the lipstick: Here.

Me:

Me (Hiding):

Me:
 Thank you.

People continue to laugh.

Then finally the one man in the room goes: I wouldn’t have known to do that either.

Me: Yes, but I’m a woman.

Sigh.

You can tell I’m more of a lip gloss girl.

But also, the point is that gender roles don’t always apply. And that’s okay. It’s okay if you’re a man who can figure out how to work a lipstick tube and that I’m a woman who can’t.

We make assumptions about people according to our demographics (race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, height, bodies, you name it) all the time.

But those assumptions aren’t always going to be right and they shouldn’t be. Our ability to comply (or not) to assumptions and culturally imposed norms doesn’t make us any more or less of who we are–cool human beings. That’s part of the beauty of difference and diversity and individualism.

I hope you find a lot of beauty today in these horrific times.

I hope you get to be the person you are.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!


Check out our latest episode about writing platforms here.

Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms
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In our random thought of the podcast, which is not transcribed here, Shaun gets a bit mad at political things. If you’re not into that, you might want to skip to the eight-minute mark.

Okay, first things first. What is a writing platform?

An author’s platform is basically just the author’s presence on the web. Your website. Your TikTok, your Facebook, your Twitter, your Instagram, your podcast, your blog.

Unlike Coke or Spanx, your platform isn’t faceless. It’s all about you, the writer. As the foundation of your brand, you have to figure out what it is that you want to do and achieve.

Most writers want to tell stories.

That’s their goal.

So as an author your platform is going to be about how to tell your stories and how you tell your story, especially the story of you, the writer.

I’ve failed at this a lot because I’ve historically not been into talking about writing. I prefer to just write, but that put me in a weird little vacuum, a void.

A lot of writers worrying about their platform get started with a mission statement.


WHAT IS A MISSION STATEMENT.

According to Tim Berry (link on the podcast notes),

“A mission statement is a simple statement that explains your company’s goals. It’s a summary of what your company does for its customers, employees, and owners. It explains how you do what you do. And, it focuses on why your company does what it does. Some of the best mission statements also extend themselves to include fourth and fifth dimensions: what the company does for its community, and for the world.”

And Blake Stockton wrote:

“A mission statement is a short, meaningful sentence (or several sentences) that summarizes the purpose that drives your business. A good mission statement says why you do what you do.” 

It’s kind of a weird existential thing on some level because you’re basically asking WHO AM I and WHY DO I EXIST?

There are also people who absolutely believe that a mission statement should be one short sentence without a lot of fluff.

Here are some examples taken from Blake’s blog, which is linked in the notes:

Once you have a mission statement, you think about how you can push your presence out there and what you actually want to do, Berry’s fourth and fifth steps.

To push your presence out there you need to do the following things:

To do that you need to register a site.

Then you need to build a website.

Then you have to connect whatever social media you’re into. Pick two or three and try to find ones that don’t make you cringe.

Post on your blog or social media an appropriate amount of times so that you have actual content there.

Each time you post a blog or an update, think:

How is this connected to my mission?

Will anyone actually see this?

Does anyone actually want to read this?

And there you go, a tiny MBA class in twenty minutes.

RESOURCES:

https://fitsmallbusiness.com/mission-statement-examples/

https://articles.bplans.com/writing-a-mission-statement/

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.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Ways to Battle Writer’s Block

Back in 2008, I had a big writer’s block and I wrote this on my LiveJournal blog And I think Some of you All might relate.


I know. I know!

I am the queen of WRITE NO MATTER WHAT.

I am the princess of WRITE EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO.

But I can’t write. I write two sentences and then I lose it.  

I think I’m one of those people who can only write when they are happy. And I’m not happy. I am so far from happy.  I know I always seem happy, but right now I’m really REALLY unhappy.

Writer people out there do you have advice?

I need advice.


Please?


I initially friends locked this entry back in 2008 because:


1. I liked to pretend I’m not neurotic in case I ever run for office again.
2. I didn’t want my mom to call and ask me what’s wrong.

But, I think maybe it’s better for people to see how all writers can be insecure or have bad days and how some of us can be open about it (not that it’s better to be open about it… it’s fine to be whatever way you are), but more importantly how freaking amazing the Livejournal community was at giving .id

Look at how nice people were. You guys were all so amazing. Crud. Now I’m crying. Bad Carrie, bad.


LiveJournal isn’t a space I hang out anymore, but I still have things archived and it showed me all this great advice and empathy that was out there and that? That makes me happy and have faith even when the world tries to take faith away from me.


Advice #1

 I think today calls for a warm blanket, a comfy couch, and a really good book.

Hoping you feel better soon…..

This counts as “advice I give, and really should take myself, but usually don’t”:

Advice #2


Maybe you can give yourself a set amount of time–15 minutes, half an hour, nothing drastic–and set some kind of timer, and tell yourself that for that time you will write, no matter how awful it comes out. And then at the end of that time, if you still feel awful and it isn’t working, you get to stop for the day and do something comforting. Probably you’ll end up stopping, but maybe you’ll get something you can use in that short time. And if you don’t want to stop, if it’s starting to work, then keep going. The one thing you’re not allowed to do is to beat yourself up over whatever you do or don’t get done, because that won’t help at all.

I know it’s weird, but I have to make those kinds of bargains with myself all the time!

Advice #3

Get away from your computer? Just sit and visualize your story for a while–could be several hours. Take notes if you have to, but don’t hold the pen or notebook in your hand when you’re not HAVING to scribble?

Tea? Chocolate? Play with the animals?

Good luck–it’ll come!

Advice #4

My advice is to wallow.

I mean it.

Wallow.

Write about why life sucks right now…then delete it.

Be home alone and rant and rave.

Throw a tantrum–kicking legs and all.

Bawl.

Bawl some more.

Let the writing sit.

Seven months went by for me, and look. You are still here, LJ Land is still here, my stories are still here, my agent (bless her!) is still here… My friends are all still here. Now, I’m not saying you should take a break from LJ Land, no way! I’d miss you too much! I’m just saying, it’s okay. It’s okay to not feel like writing.

Relax. Let yourself ‘not write’.

It’ll be there tomorrow and the next day and the next….

HUGS!!!!

*hugs* and *chocolate*

Advice #5



Go watch some TV – an episode of something/a film you love, sad, funny whatever, it doesn’t matter. Give yourself and your brain a break. Then do the fool-your-brain thing – say you’re only going to write 100 words [or 50] and that will be it. Then pat yourself on the back for a good job done, and if you want to go for bonus wordage, then do the next 100. And tell yourself that it can be about anything.

And more *hugs*

Advice #6

This may cause your daughter to hate me forever and plot vengeance.

You need to dance. Put on the happiest song, (kudos if it’s a geeky, embaressing song) and dance in the living room. Revel in your geekiness and the groans of humiliation from others.

Don’t write. Read. Soak in hot, fragrant water. Drink/eat lots of chocolate. Visit your friends…the writing will be waiting for you when you come back. Till then, tons of HUGS and good thoughts, Carrie!!

Advice #7

Having emotions means you are not one of the sheeple.

If that doesn’t make yo smile, consider this: “The good writing of any age has always been the product of someone’s neurosis, and we’d have a mighty dull literature if all the writers that came along were a bunch of happy chuckleheads.” ~William Styron, interview, Writers at Work, 1958

If that doesn’t help, I suppose I could call and do the choo-choo thing and sing songs. But that’s really an emergency procedure.

Advice #8

Aw, Carrie! {hugs}

I’m a big believer in WRITE NO MATTER WHAT…unless you can’t. 🙂 I think there are times when I weasel my way out of writing because I’m being a slacker – that’s not cool. But there are other times that I take a break because I can feel inside that no matter how long I sit there stabbing keys, nothing worthwhile is going to appear on the page and in the meantime I’m feeling darker and darker inside (and not the good kind of dark, if that makes any sense).

Take a break (like everyone else suggested) – whether it’s for a day or a week or whatever. Be gentle with yourself. You’ll feel the whatever-it-is ease inside you when you’re able to sit at the keyboard again. Just make sure you’re paying attention and not coddling yourself *too* much. 😉

Last Thoughts

I hope one of those writers’ advice helps you if you’re here because of writers’ block. No one way will work for everyone. No one way will even always work for ourselves. Be gentle with yourself the same way you would be for the ones you love.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

Be Brave Friday! Three Steps to Being Brave

Anaïs Nin wrote, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Being brave isn’t something that you always are. We aren’t all Captain America. We aren’t all always cowards either.

We fluctuate.

That’s what it is to be human. We are brave sometimes, maybe even all the times, but sometimes? Sometimes things feel too much, too big, too impossible and we get scared.

And in these very difficult times it can make a lot of sense to be scared.

How do you be less scared?

1.Know who you are

When you know your values, when you know who it is and what you stand for? It helps when you have things bashing against you.

I’ve always been ridiculously self-righteous about certain things and I know it can be a terrible trait, but it really helps when it comes to being brave. That surety in what I believe and my values allows me stand by those values.

2. Realize Fear Doesn’t Always Go Away

And that’s okay. Fear doesn’t have to always be conquered. It can be dealt with instead.

Understanding what makes you scared, helps you deal with that fear.

I’m terrified of putting my paintings out there because I still hear the negative scripts of my mom from when I was a kid. “Nobody in our family has a lick of artistic talent.”

She’d throw away my drawings and keep my stories. Is it any wonder I’m a writer?

So, I know that my fear about painting is about being rejected. That knowledge helps me do this every Friday. It helped when I was part of an art walk and people perused and scrutinized my work. But damn, I’m still always scared.

One of my lovely writer friends asked, “How can you be so scared when people are so nice about your art all the time?”

Let me tell you. I am scared all the time-scared of rejection, meanness, trolls, bad reviews, confrontations, not achieving, not being good enough according to some random standard that isn’t even my own.

But being scared all the time? That means I get to be brave all the time.

I get to practice being courageous every day.

The same thing goes for my Muppet voice. I know I am still afraid to talk, to podcast, to present because I was told how my voice would keep me from achieving, that nobody would ever love me because I sound so silly and nobody would ever take me seriously and I’d never have a job.

That’s why we do our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

I practice being brave.

I’m still afraid when I do the podcast. Every time. I’m still afraid when I lead a class of writers or speak to a room of 1,000 people. Every time.

But I do it anyway because I don’t want my fear to keep me from opportunities, to keep me from being the best person I can be.

I hope you can do that too. It’s hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it.

Know why the fear is there. Practice living with it.

3. Give Yourself Some Slack

When it comes to being brave, it’s not always going to be awesome. You will sometimes not want to run on a treadmill, present at a meeting, try out for a show. That’s normal.

Be as kind to yourself as you are to your kids, your dog, your best friend. You don’t need to be mean to yourself. Random trolls will do that for you.

The more you give yourself kindness, the easier it is to be brave. You’ve got to be your own cheerleader, not just your own critic.

That’s it. Know who you are and what you stand for, give yourself some of the empathy and kindness you deserve and know that being brave isn’t an all or nothing thing all the time.

Earlier today, our county sheriff told me on Facebook that I was tough. I almost cried (which doesn’t seem very tough) because nobody ever thinks of me that way. But he saw me and that? It meant everything and he was brave enough to tell me what he saw.

Do that for yourself. Do that for others. Being brave isn’t just about helping yourself, it’s about helping other people, too.


Here’s my random painting that I made this week on a plank of wood in five-minute increments during breaks in my work.



LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

Dear Me In 2031

Dear Me In 2031,

It’s January 7. Things kind of suck right now.

I hope that you’re still alive. I hope that the country still exists and it moves towards something better, something kinder, something more equitable.

I hope you do, too.

Pay attention.

Every single time someone doesn’t think you’re brilliantly awesome? It’s not the end of the world. Every single time you don’t get a client or a podcast ad or an amazing book contract is not the end of the world.

You know what the end of the world is? The actual end of the world.

Let’s move on.

The person you are is a much bigger deal than what you think you know. You will never know enough. There is always more to learn if you’re cool with learning.

Be cool with learning.

If you want to change the world, if you want to help people, if you even want to do something as simple as keep writing books? It’s important to have the knowledge to do that, to grow your knowledge, to LOVE getting that knowledge.

Yeah, sometimes realizing you’re wrong will suck. That suck is worth it. Why?

The suck is better than not ever realizing that you’re wrong, better than perpetuating idiocy or stereotypes or bad advice.

But you also need to remember that you are not the suck. You are courageous because you are here existing, learning, being, forcing yourself to be brave and thinking, “What can I do more? What can I do to make things better? To make myself better?”

But again…

Being imperfect? It doesn’t mean you’re unworthy or unloveable. It only means you are human. Perfectly human.

And that’s okay.

You’re okay.

But you know what? You’re more than okay because you are trying. You are still here thriving and living and doing. And haters on whatever social media exists in 2031 will still randomly tell you you’re wrong or you’re vague or that you’re stupid because of some damn demographic about yourself, be it your race, gender, sex, religion, class, religion, political views, job, or just that you slur your damn s’s.

And that doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you care. What matters is that you put yourself out there, vulnerable and beautiful. What matters is that you are who you are and that you’re not trying to be anyone else. What matters is how beautiful your soul is, how it sparkles with light. What matters is that you share that light with others (or try to) in every interaction.

Damn it.

You.

You are okay being you. You are important just being you.

You get to define yourself. You are not disposable, not a statistic, not an anecdote and not defined by being a consumer or by social media or other media.

You are.

That’s all you need to be.

But it helps if you try to learn. It always helps.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.

Love Me! Love My Character! Writing Tips.

It’s the last of our posts about making characters (or at least the last one of r a bit). Check out the tags to see the others.

Orson Scott Card (citation down below) has a list of ‘devices’ that he says makes readers love characters. I’m going to run them down here, because I’m running out of time in my week! 

First off: Physical Attractiveness. 

  •  The hot factor.: If other characters are attracted to them, we will be too, he says. 
  •   Sometimes this can make your readers hate the character so be careful.  She/he shouldn’t be annoyingly attractive. That’s dull. 

You think I’m dull? 
No, Harry, never you. You eat have oat milk in your fridge, bananas in your freezer, speak English, Cantonese, and Spanish and are an amazing dancer? How could that be dull? 

Altruistic Awesomeness.

  •    – We root for the victim.  We also can eventually show how the victim is no longer a victim in our awesome story arch. 
  •   – We root for the savior. We want Petunia to rescue the dog/cat/alien/hamster/boy.  
  •   – We root for the sacrificer. It’s hard not to love someone who suffers to make the world better. 

I totally have the altruistic awesomeness down pat. 

The Doers

We root for the character who wants something, who goes after a dream. The bigger the want/dream the more we tend to root

The Bravehearts

We like the character who is brave, who takes risks to do what needs to be done (if those risks are morally cool). 

Those Who Have ‘Tude

How a character feels about herself or others impacts how we feel about the character. 

The Rest

We also tend to like characters who are clever, who volunteer, who are dependable.

And we also like characters with a little quirk – that imperfection or tic that makes them an individual.

Think about Ron in Harry Potter. He’s loyal as all heck. He takes risks to do what’s right (steals parents’ car, goes in off-limit places).

He is brave but he freaks about spiders.

He is smart in certain ways (outwits the magic chess board), but he is flawed too. He’s a bit jealous. He’s a bit insecure. He’s a bit lazy when it comes to studying.

Yet we love him. His flaws and quirks and reactions and choices make him adorable and one of the most loved characters in one of the most popular children’s books ever. 

Yes, it is I, Ron Weasley

Card also gives a quick run-down on what we don’t like in characters: 

  • Hurting another character on purpose, especially if the character likes causing pain
  • Killing someone for selfish reasons
  • Being self serving
  • Breaking promises
  • Super big words/formal speech in dialogue (We usually give this to the bad guys. I actually give it to a good guy, cause I’m a rule breaker like that)
  • Being totally psycho in a bad way
  • Attitude – whining too much, complaining too much, lack of humor, etc….

Resource

Card, Orson Scott. CHARACTERS AND VIEWPOINTS. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books

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Picking the Writer Wedgie and Transitions

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Picking the Writer Wedgie and Transitions
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In life and in story, you have these things called transitions. Places were things change.

You go from one place to another, one scene to another, one chapter to another, one husband to another, one president to another.

A really good transition is really just a bridge that helps the reader go logically from one section, scene, chapter to another without it being awkward like a bad date or making their brain hitch where they say things like “We were just in space and now we’re at Wal-Mart? What the heck?”

Some people are amazing at transitions.

Some people have awkward transitions.

Some refuse to acknowledge there even is a transition.

But in the writing world, you want them to be smooth and there are a bunch of transitional phrases and words that authors fall back on to help them do that like:

  • A week later (or whenever)
  • At the same time
  • Afterwards
  • For two weeks/days/minutes
  • Meanwhile
  • At night
  • The next day
  • The next night
  • For a month, I cried into the phone
  • In the morning
  • When the sun rose
  • When the sun set
  • The following Monday/night/morning
  • Months passed
  • Weeks passed
  • When we got back to the office
  • When they got back home
  • As the neared the date site

Then there are the phrases that show us a change in location:

  • They boarded the train
  • Down the street
  • Up on the third floor of the office
  • Over by the water cooler
  • Back in my living room
  • The motorcycle was situated
  • She ran fast through the dark alley
  • In the hall of the hospital
  • Outside on my front lawn

And so on. There are a lot more examples of both of these, but we just wanted to give you a quick look at them.

Sometimes though, us writers tell our readers TOO much and it ends up sounding like script or stage directions. Those are things that slow the narrative down and just read a bit awkward or stilted.

It would be a sentence like:

When I arrived at the elevator to go up to the office on the fourth floor, I pushed the button to close the door and rode it to the floor.

Or

            They drove to the restaurant and waited in line for their table and she hummed a little bit.

Instead you just want the transition to get us there into the juicy part of the scene:

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting at their table, playing footsie under the fancy white linen tablecloth when the giant hedgehog with a man bun stormed through the wooden doors.

Places like the bad examples are not really needed because:

  1. It doesn’t really add to the story.
  2. It doesn’t really add to the character.
  3. It’s unnecessary information.

You really only want things in your story that:

  1. Show your character’s inner state/characterization/choices
  2. Move the plot forward.
  3. Set the reader in the moment.

Story is all about characters making choices, being proactive and moving things forward and showing us who they are by those choices and their dialogue. So, you want to focus on getting the reader to those scenes where people interact and the character has to make a choice that either goes towards or against their main wants. Effective transitions help get us there but also ground the reader in the moment and time of the story in a logical, cool way.


DOG TIP FOR LIFE

If you never, get off the couch, you never have a chance for treats from the pantry. If you snap every single time someone strartles you awake, you get less love. Embrace the transitions. They are opportunities for growth, to evolve, to learn new stuff, and potentially get some veggie bacon.


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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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LIKE YOUR DAMN CHARACTER

So, we’re still talking about characters here and I’m going to go out on a limb here and say:

It’s important for people to like your main character.

Obviously, this isn’t always true. There are exceptions, but just in general, okay? You all can debate about it in the comments if you like. It might be fun. 

A big key to the reader liking your character is:

YOU LIKING YOUR CHARACTER.

It’s hard to write 75,000 words or even a picture book if you despise your main character. It’ll come through to the reader. 


Another big key to character likability is: THE FIRST IMPRESSION. 



That’s the big moment when the reader first meets the character.

So think about your reader and whether or not they are going to like a character that they first see picking their nose (some will/some won’t) or rescuing a bird (some will/some won’t) or jumping off a swing or telling off a teacher or moping in their room or playing in a sandbox.

This first impression is shallow.

It isn’t deep and it’s not enough to sustain the reader throughout the book, but it’s the first link the reader has to understanding the character. It’s important. It’s just as important as a lead sentence. I swear it. 

And it’s also important to remember that if that first impression is unpleasant (say you are writing a romance novel geared towards straight women and the male romantic figure is expelling gas out his rectum while studying ear wax when we first meet him (Note: This is gross not quirky.), it is really hard sometimes to overcome that first impression. You, as the writer, have to work super hard.

 Even if he looks like me? 
Yes, Fabio, even if he looks like you. Maybe even more so.

Finally, readers usually want to feel sympathetic to the main character. They want to relate to him or her or it. But they also want to be curious about that main character. The main character shouldn’t be EXACTLY like the reader, is what I’m saying. 

For the rest of these posts on character, check out the tags CHARACTERS, MAKING CHARACTERS or WRITING CHARACTERS. For other writing tips, just check out WRITING TIPS.


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

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

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, all about Making Sexy Mission Statements and Writing Platforms, click here.


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 254,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!