The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things

There is a fantastic blog post on Tim Ferriss’s blog about the work and thoughts of professor/writer Sam Apple. I have a link at the end of this post because you should probably read it in its entirety if the act of noticing as a writer resonates with you. Or maybe even if it doesn’t

When I mentor people and edit them, I often tell them to go specific in their details (but don’t overload those details), and in order to go specific, you have to become adept at noticing things.

Apple speaks of what it means to ‘notice as a writer.’

I like to define it as “the combination of close observation and insightfulness.” 

Sam Apple

He then explains ‘close observation.’

Close observation is easy enough to grasp. Let’s take an example: As I’m typing this sentence, I might look down and notice my hands moving over my keyboard. That’s “noticing” in the ordinary sense of the word—what you might think of as “first-order noticing.” To notice my typing hands in the way of a writer, I have to be far more specific. I might notice the rhythmic rise and fall of my knuckles or how the tendons on the back of my hand bulge and twitch with each keystroke. I might notice how some keys are almost silent while others respond to my fingertips with a pronounced—and somehow satisfying—clack.

Sam Apple

So, then we have that second aspect — insight.

Great writing typically involves more than description or a simple narration of events. Writing is also a search for meaning. Sometimes an observation or image speaks for itself. But often writers need to be able to say something about what they’ve noticed. 

Sam Apple

And that’s where I think being a great writer and a great human overlap. If we can notice the worlds and details, the feeling and aspects of other people, animals, landscapes big and small? And then if we took that extra step to let insight bubble and sprout from what we’ve noticed?

How big a deal would that be?

How deep? How growing?

Apple teaches a class on noticing at John Hopkins and in the blog writes:

For my class, I ask students to keep a “noticing journal” throughout the semester. Sometimes I ask them to notice objects or actions, as in the typing examples above. Other times, we apply the same observational and imaginative powers to our own lives and emotions. When we turn to the noticing of others, it can lead to remarkably empathetic writing. It is hard to truly hate people if you’ve spent enough time observing them and wondering about them. The celebrated fiction writer George Saunders captures this notion perfectly in this essay on “what writers really do when they write.”

Sam Apple

You don’t need to be a writer to train your noticing skills or your empathy, but both writers and those of us who don’t write, can really learn from this.

We can learn from noticing, observing and wondering. And maybe that’s one of those steps we can take to make ourselves better people and this a better world?

RESOURCES

https://sam-apple.squarespace.com/

Continue reading “The Best Kind of People (especially writers) Notice Things”

BE BRAVE FRIDAY – THE STORY OF GABBY THE RESCUED DOG

Hey! It’s BE BRAVE FRIDAY and this Friday, I’m . . .? Well, I’m not feeling it.

You know how sometimes you just are running a low on your positive charge on your internal battery, but your negative charge is kicking butt? I’ve been like that all week. Even though June is such a gorgeous month here in Maine, this happens to me a lot because June is when my mom died and my dad.

It was especially bad earlier this week where I didn’t want to post one of my animals’ daily positive tweets, something that I do every weekday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Doing that seemed beyond me. I kept thinking, “Who am I to write these things?”

But then I remembered that there are kids in a cancer treatment program that look forward to those and share them. And I remembered all the times people have sent me messages about how much those little posts and tweets meant to them or came at a right time.

That morning, I sat and stared at the computer waiting and waiting for my brain to readjust enough to post something that might be helpful to someone and I couldn’t get anything at all.

And I remembered that what I feel is transient and I remembered that these posts aren’t about me. They are really about just being a momentary vessel for hope and occasionally humor and thought. And I remembered that just one tiny bit of a spark of anything can form into a lifeline.

So, I closed my eyes and I typed.

This is what happened.

It wasn’t brilliant, but it was something. It was a forward step.

Sometimes all being brave takes is a forward step.

This week, our BE BRAVE FRIDAY video is breaking format a bit. Already? I know! I know!

But I just wanted to quickly tell the story of our dog, Gabby.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

YA MYSTERY WITH A SPLASH OF ROMANCE? ARE YOU IN?

On July 1, I’m releasing my young adult novel, THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.

Check it out.

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

It looks pretty cool. right?

The lead character in this is Dude Goodfeather. Her real name is Jess. Her dad calls her Dude and that means everyone else does, too. I’m so into her. I hope you will be too.

Blurb:

They aren’t the most popular. They aren’t the prettiest. They aren’t the wealthiest, but they are the smartest and as the kids in the ‘gifted’ program move through their senior year, they have their lives all ahead of them.

Until they don’t . . .

Quirky and psychology-obsessed high school senior Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather isn’t having her best time senior year after her best friend and boyfriend both dump her, but when she finds the dead and mutilated body of Lucas Landry? Things get a whole lot worse.

Is someone she knows the killer?

Someone is picking off Dude’s classmates, one by one. And she’s pretty sure that she’s next.

Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the first book of the Dude Mystery Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.

The next Book comes out in September and it’s called INCH WORMS.

To find out more about the series, click here.

But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂 Sort of?


Chapter One

Paranoia

An intense feeling of fear or anxiety that usually has to do with personal persecution or belief in threats and conspiracies

Everything people say about me is true. I’m neurotic and obsessed with psychology terms because of my own sad toddler years. I always expect the worst case scenario for myself but never for other people. Pathetic, I know. It’s like I’m always expecting something bad to happen, and I’m terrified of being caught off guard and not being prepared for when it does.

This morning, when my cat Misfit wakes me up, I know something is wrong right away. It’s like a gut feeling. It’s like all my worries have become reality.

“You’re worst-case scenario. You have to believe in yourself, in the power of your own brain,” Dad told me last night when I was stressed about potentially not getting into any colleges. He was making vegan gumbo and waved his wooden spoon at our cat who was passed out belly-up in the kitchen sink. “Seriously, you’ve got to chill-ax. Look at Misfit. Be like Misfit.”

Be like Misfit?

            Because right now Misfit’s mewling the way cats do when they are freaking out about something terribly important in the kitty world like whether or not there is exactly .75 cups of cat food in their dish that is spaced exactly one inch out from the northeast corner of the bathroom wall. 

The mewling? That’s the first clue.

            “What is it, buddy?” I mutter, blinking hard against the morning light as Misfit moves across the bed covers and up to my face. She headbutts my chin with her nose.

            I’d been dreaming about Alexis and me when we were little and still best friends. We had been jumping off the dock into the river, giggling, and then the dream shifted so that Alexis was drowning in the water, blood coming out of her belly button. This did not happen in real life. Alexis is alive and well and now best friends with Samantha, and not me. I’m a little bitter about this honestly. Bitter and lonely.

Misfit refuses to let me go back to the dream and pushes against my face again. Cat fur tickles my lips and nose.

Sneezing, I say, “Buddy. Dad can feed you.”

            Then I remember that Dad doesn’t ever feed her because he’s one of the most forgetful humans of all time, and then I remember that he’s not even home. He left at midnight, off for a three-day trip to a con in Boston, a science fiction con, because he has this little side job where he self-publishes his own graphic novels.

            “Crud,” I mumble as Misfit thumps off the bed, thudding to the ground, right by a dead mouse. A tiny spot of blood mars the brown fur of its tiny stomach.

            Misfit purrs and sort of nudges it a little closer to my bed.

            I wish, occasionally, my gut would be wrong. 

            Moving backward toward my headboard, I grab for my phone by my pillow, but it’s not there. It’s always there, but instead there’s just my charger, flapping around. I’m positive that I connected it last night.

            This is the second clue.

            The third clue is that my door is shut. I’m not sure how Misfit even got in the room with her mouse, and that’s not the point. The point is that the door is shut.

            My door is never shut because ever since I was little having a shut door has completely freaked me out. That’s because I always used to imagine monsters lurking behind the doorknob. Everyone judges me about that.

But Misfit could have shut it maybe? Batted it closed with her immense kitty paws.

She leaps up onto my bed, thankfully leaving the mouse on the floor, and I grab her to my chest. She purrs again. It’s comforting.

            “I freak myself out too much,” I murmur. “You bringing dead mice as presents doesn’t help, buddy. No offense.”

            She starts kneading at my lap, and I sigh. I’m not sure why I forgot to plug in my cellphone last night, but I use it to tell the time and set the alarm to wake me up and now I have no idea if I’m late for school or not. I blink hard. I was positive that I set the alarm last night because I was thinking about how Dad wasn’t going to be here today.

Fourth clue?

The weirdness of it all hits me as I lift Misfit up a bit so that I can set her down next to me on the covers. She protests and puts her claws into the quilt, but I still manage to move her. Resisting the urge to close my eyes and ignore the mouse, I lean over the bed, hoping my phone just fell somewhere.

            Nothing. It’s just a dead mouse, schoolbooks, art supplies, and socks.

            “Great.”

            The only other thing I can think is that maybe I took my phone with me in the middle of the night when I went to the bathroom. Sure, I don’t actually remember going to the bathroom, but the cellphone is pretty awesome because it has a flashlight. I use that app all the time.

            Vaulting off the bed so that I land nowhere near the mouse, I head toward the bedroom door, yank it open and gasp.

            There’s someone standing there right outside my door.

            I slam my door back closed and lock it.

            My mouth drops wide open.

            I don’t need any more clues.

            That’s because the someone lurking outside my room is not my dad or my former best friend Alexis or my current best friend Rebecca. That someone is not a ghost or a figment of my imagination.

            It’s a human being. And it’s wearing a ski mask.

            Reflexively, I shove my dresser against the door, which opens inward. It opens inward, so that means that the person out there can’t come in if the dresser is blocking the way. Right? Panic starts.

There is someone outside.

            I repeat this fact over and over again in my head.

            Someone is outside my door.

            Someone should not be there.

            I can’t let them in.

            Searching for my phone again, I survey the room, but the phone is missing, which means that I can’t call for help. My laptop! I put it in my bag last night after I was done cruising through posts about college application essays. Running, I grab my bag even though it’s super close to the mouse.

            My laptop is gone.

            I can’t email anyone for help.

            I can’t Skype the police or whatever.

            I’m trapped and there’s only one thing to do to escape. I yank open the window by my bed. I’m on the second floor, but it doesn’t matter. There’s an overhanging roof over the downstairs master bathroom, which connects to the porch. It’s mossy, but it’s a way out.

            “Misfit!” I mutter and snap my fingers. She actually springs out the window onto the roof. She springs to the ground, making it look easy, like hopping ten feet to the grass is not a big deal at all. I scoot as quickly as I can down the angled roof and jump. The ground thuds beneath my feet, and adrenalin pops me right back into standing position. I scoop Misfit up in my arms and run through the woods.

            Don’t follow me. Don’t follow me. Don’t follow me.

            I’m not sure if I’m saying this aloud or not. I’m not sure if the sentence is a command or a prayer or a mantra. The pine needles sting my naked feet. Stones and roots scratch at me. I trip and Misfit bounds out of my arms as I fall down. One second down and I’m up again, running for our neighbor’s house. The houses here on the Union River aren’t close, which I normally like because nobody wants to hear their neighbors’ music or yelling or whatever, but right now I’d give anything to live in a crowded subdivision.

            Misfit veers off toward the river, but I run forward to the Saunders’ house. I pound on the door. Nobody comes. There’s noise behind me. And I see them—him—her —whatever—the person running through the woods toward me.

            I pound again.

            No answer.

            There’s no time.

            The Saunders have a dock and a kayak, just like we do. Praying that they don’t have a lock on the kayak, I rush to my right, downhill toward the river, tumbling and screaming. The dock is about fifty feet of wood planks out toward the water. The tide is lowish and the kayak is tied up at the end. I run as fast as I can toward it. The dock bounces with every footfall. Misfit is nowhere in sight, but the intruder? He’s halfway down the hill. He’ll be here soon and then … and then …

            The yellow cord attaching the kayak to the dock is just a half-hitch and I yank it off with my shaking hands. Two seconds later, I’m unhooking the rudder, dropping it into the water. Two seconds more and I’m hopping into the kayak’s cockpit. It rocks, but doesn’t turn over. There is no paddle. No paddle. I tuck the rope up between the lines on the front of the cockpit to get it out of the river. Water sloshes onto my pajama shorts. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting away. How do I get away without a paddle?

            Using my hands, I push off the dock sideways as hard as I can. The river mud waits in front of me. The person is on the dock, running toward me. The ski mask obscures the hair, the face. Whoever it is isn’t big. That’s all I get. They are not big.

            The tide takes the kayak. It’s coming in, away from the ocean, and toward town. I hit the foot pedal hard to steer the kayak, make it face the right way, and then the river does its work, pushing us out and into the middle, pulling the kayak and me away from the person on the dock. I look back. I’m so afraid they have a gun. I’m so afraid they’ll go unlock our kayaks from our dock, somehow, like they’ll know enough to know where Dad puts the keys.

            But they don’t.

            The intruder stands at the end of the dock and watches for a second. Then they lift their hand like they’re going to wave. Instead, they give me the finger.

            I face forward and start hyperventilating, but I don’t cry. I never cry. Not since my mom left at least. And that was a long time ago.


Upcoming Books!

See I’m committed! One book a month for the rest of the year.

And it’s so scary!

June – THE PEOPLE WHO KILLAdult mystery. Second in the Bar Harbor Rose Series

July –THOSE WHO SURVIVED – YA murder mystery. First in the DUDE SERIES!

August – SAINT, YA paranormal

September – INCH WORMS! Second in the DUDE SERIES!

October – THE TREASURES WE HIDE. Third in the Bar Harbor Rose Series.

November – ALMOST DEAD, an adult paranormal

December – NECROMANCER, YA paranormal – This title might change. 🙂

PODCASTS

Oh! And check out our podcasts when you get a chance. There are writing tips and life tips on DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE and just a freer flow of weirdness on our very live LOVING THE STRANGE. It’s live on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. EST, on Fridays.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

You Lucky Duck

We are who we are and we choose how we live and how are lives work out. That is the bottom line really

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

best podcast ever
Shaun Farrar

Do you believe in luck? Do you believe in karma? Do you believe that bigfoot is really an alien being in a less than carefully chosen disguise?

Well, if you have an interest in any of these topics, you should start listening to Loving The Strange, a live podcast that Carrie and I do every Friday evening at 7 o’clock Eastern Standard Time. We love doing it and if you listen, we hope that you will love it as well!


Luck, what is it? Is it a predetermined experience that is so wonderfully timed or fortuitous that we think that it can’t possibly be natural and therefore must be attributed to some supernatural force that has blessed us in a timely fashion? Is it something that we bring about ourselves due to how we think and how we act in our daily lives? Is it sheer coincidence of an occurrence during a time when we are so down that almost anything with a positive lean seems impossible?

I don’t know the answer to those questions, and I am not going to bother researching the philosophical definitions or musings of luck. I don’t really need to for the purposes of this blog because, in my worthless opinion, we are all lucky. Luck is not a singular or a repetitive happening in our life, it is our life.

We are ALL lucky!

We are lucky to be here.

We are lucky to be who we are and exactly how we are born.

I know that some of us were born with seemingly everything against us. I also know that some of those people have made the very best of their lives and have complimented other people’s lives with abundant positivity during their life, even if it was extremely short or extremely hampered by some obstacle of physical or mental acuity. We are who we are and we choose how we live and how are lives work out. That is the bottom line really.

Tragedy of the greatest kind has befallen many and they have dealt with it and decided to turn it into a positive moment or opportunity. There really are no excuses, we are all human and we all choose to deal and spread love and kindness or we choose to wilt and die off. Choose to spread love and kindness people! Choose to be somebody else’s good luck! Choose to take a chance that any random kind act that you perform can be somebody else’s good luck for the day!

Peace people and remember to always Love Your Way through It!

Shaun

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

It not just about thinking positive; it’s about doing positive.

We’ve all heard that if we just think positively everything will be better.

We have journals and lists that we create every night or morning of how we’re blessed.

Then there’s the mantra, “Change your thoughts, change your life.”

And sometimes when I see these things I get a little ragey because it isn’t always that easy. It’s hard to always think positively when your dog has just died or you’re in a war zone or your being hurt.

We’re all allowed to be a little ragey sometimes or sad or gleeful or even covetous. That’s because we’re human, but it’s also because of something even more important that we all need to remember.

WE ARE NOT OUR THOUGHTS.

We can think, “I am Jesus” all day long but that doesn’t make us Jesus. We can think, “I am Beyonce” or “I am the president.” But it doesn’t make us so.

What makes us who we are?

The things we do.

I have a friend who does one act of kindness after another, who cares passionately about the people she loves. But people can annoy her sometimes. Injustices REALLY annoy her.

And after she has a judgement-free rant, she’ll say, “I’m so awful. I know! I know!”

But that’s the thing.

She’s not awful. She’s amazing. She’s one of the best people I know. And that’s because who she is isn’t just about her thoughts. Who she is stems from her actions, her choices, her decisions.

When she needs to persist or overcome, she doesn’t give in to her thoughts of doubt, her insecurities, or even her anger. She acts. She makes a difference.

How cool is that?

Yes, it’s important and super healthy to have a positive outlook. But it’s not always possible, and when you don’t achieve that? It doesn’t make you bad. If you think you’re bad, then you’re just going to end up in another negative thought spiral.

You’re too awesome for that.

And you can’t sit around waiting to be happy, hoping that this will be the day where you aren’t in pain, or someone isn’t a troll, or the basement doesn’t flood. You have to make the choice to be happy and take the actions that help you feel that if that’s what you want to feel.

You can think about changing all the time, but actual change come from doing the work, the actions, making the choices and going for it.

You can do that.

So, how do you do that?

DO THINGS

Acting/doing/participating in something takes you away from negative thoughts and thrusts you into the action, gives you focus. People in Asia and Europe have talked about the flow state for a long time. People in sports tend to call it being in the zone.

But it’s a place, and damn it’s beautiful.

To get there though, you have to do the action. That might be running, writing, painting, climbing, figuring out a theorem, creating a blog post, but it happens because you are doing an action. Do the things.

PUT YOUR THOUGHTS IN THEIR PLACE

Really. This isn’t new either, but it works. When you feel that negative thought spiral coming on, call it out. Say, “Yo. Negative thought. Just because I forgot to close the bedroom door before we made the sex and forgot my avo and Aunt Rose Marie were coming over does not mean ‘I am so stupid.’ It just means I was so in the moment that I forgot to close the door.”

You’ve got to try to see those negative thoughts for the bullies they are and sometimes all they need to chill out is just to be noticed.

I have wicked social anxiety. It’s like a weird kind of stage fright. And the only way for me to battle it is to just act right through it. So I get in the car and drive to the party and tell my negative thoughts that nothing horrifying will happen and my actions won’t make people go to jail. I go to the board meeting. I do the live podcast. I buckle up and stare down the negative thoughts and once I’m doing the actions? It helps tamp down the anxiety. But if I hesitate? That fear builds up and up, gaining so much power that it’s a vicious battle to tamp it back down.

And I love people. I love the joy of public speaking. I love moving people and inspiring them in person, right? So, it’s almost like my fright is excitement gone terribly wrong. It’s almost like a part of me thinks, “Who am I to get to do this? To be this happy? To have people listen to me?”

For a kid with a speech defect (and now an adult with one), that’s a pretty amazing thing. Middle-school Carrie would have never imagined it.

Pay Attention To The World Like A Tourist or a Poet Would

I know! I know! Poets and tourists don’t seem to go together, but they both search for experiences and explore their worlds.

A Roman emperior, Marcus Aurelius, would detail the world like the best of writers or artists. Ordinary things became extraordinary under his pen.

Noticing things is an action. Seeing things is a gift. Empathy and understanding can be byproducts of observation. Be present. Don’t overlook the ordinary. You’ve got this.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

 

How To Deal With WHITE ROOM SYNDROME

One quick revision note. There are still some scenes in here that could use a little bit more grounding detail so that the reader can see Emily and her friends/relatives interact with the world and setting.

So what is this again? This white room syndrome?

According to inventingrealityeditingservice.com:

Rather than fully imagine such a world, some writers instead create a quick, unformed facsimile of their own. For example, they start the story with the line, “She awoke in a white room.” The white room is the white piece of paper facing the author. This is known as white room syndrome, a term coined a few year ago at the Turkey City Workshop in Austin (a group that has included authors William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, Lewis Shiner, Rudy Rucker and Walter Jon Williams).

They officially define white room syndrome as “an authorial imagination inadequate to the situation at end, most common at the beginning of a story.” In short, because the world wasn’t fully imagined, it can’t support the story that unfolds from it.

Or as Lauren Mullen says:

The scene is coming together just as planned. Your dialogue is snappy, witty, and poignant. The action is electric, carrying your characters from one spot to the next. You can see it all unfolding to you as if it were happening on a screen…but the setting details are absent. As a result, all your character’s amazing dialogue and action happen in a blank space.

But what I really like that she says is here:

Think of when you go over to someone’s house for the first time, how they decorate and treat their home says a lot about them. Are they the type of person who cleans up when expecting guests or not? Do they keep a lot of books? Collect art? Fan memorabilia? Are there any pets? What are they? A dog owner says something different about a person than a hamster owner. You learn a lot about a person by how they decorate and treat their home, likewise this is why description and setting are so vital to good storytelling. 

When done properly, the world in which your characters inhabit can take on a life of their own. It is important to spend as much time fleshing out your setting as you would a persona. This helps the space in which your characters exist feel grounded and real. 

So, how do you keep it from happening? Or how do you fix it?

There are some good ways!

  1. First make the decision about how you want the reader to feel about the space where the scene is happening.
  2. Add details that make that happen. Is it a crowded space? A quiet café? A darkly lit jazz club? Are the tables sticky? Does the office smell like onions? Do you hear the fast clickety-clack of coworkers keyboards? Do smells come from another cubicle? From the coffee shop’s kitchen?
  3. Think about how you learn about people from the first time you walk into their homes? Give that feeling to the reader. Is it well lit? Shadowy? Are the salt and pepper shakers shaped like manatees or plastic? That sort of thing.
  4. Allow yourself to set the scene as a stage where the details you choose reflect the emotional struggle of the character and/or the plot.
  5. Use the five senses (sight, sound, touch, smell, taste) and try to use three of them in each scene. Oh! And don’t have the three you use be the same for every single scene.
  6. Don’t overdo those senses, but do use them a bit.

Why is this important again?

It’s important because:

  1. It keeps your characters from just being talking heads.
  2. Setting is a tool that you can use to create ambience, tone, reality.
  3. Readers like to know where the characters 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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

  1. It allows your reader to be fully in the experience of the character of the book.
  2. It’s a tool. The setting can be a metaphor for your character’s internal struggle. If your character is having an anxiety attack and stuck in her job and life, making her hide in a bathroom stall is perfect as metaphor.
  3. It can be a character in your story. The city of Chicago or New Orleans can influence the plot and character a lot. The city can grow too as the character grows.
  4. It helps create tone and conflict. If you’re writing a novel about an apocalypse, the details you choose in your scene’s setting help show that.
  5. It shows class and divisions in society, too.

BE BRAVE FRIDAY – RINGING THE BELL AND CHANGING MEDICATION FOR DEPRESSION

So, today is our first BE BRAVE FRIDAY featuring the stories of people who are not Carrie.

Why are we doing this?

We’re doing this because in a world where everything can feel like crap and overwhelming sometimes, it’s good to celebrate and lift each other up.

We don’t censor these letters and stories. We read them verbatim. You can be anonymous or like Dee and Tez, you can tell your name.

Let us celebrate you. Let’s inspire each other, okay?

I hope you’ll take a second to listen to Dee and Tez’s story.

Trigger warnings: Mental health, cancer, ill parent.

Awesome warnings: Braveness. Persistence. Facing your fears.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Don’t Forget to Stir Your Soup Because It’s All About the Base

Does it not seem that it is often the case that it is much easier to remember negative events in our lives? Our miraculous vessels of life and the brains that control them are and probably always will be a bit of a mystery to us.

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification.

I believe that to enjoy soup to the fullest, you must regularly stir it while eating, this way you can prevent all of the tasty bits from constantly sitting on the bottom waiting until the end.

Some of you may argue with me and say that you enjoy those tasty bits sitting and waiting, and that the last few bites are therefore always the best. I can see your point and often times actually agree!

However, for this blog post, soup is but a simple analogy and if you hear me out maybe you will see my point.

Last night while Carrie and I were taking an evening stroll and enjoying our unseasonably warm weather, she started to ask me questions about how I recall things. This of course led to a full blown discussion about recall and memory and how people do that in different ways. Some people can vividly picture an object in their mind, some people can picture an object in their mind with less detail and apparently, some people cannot visualize objects at all. Very interesting, I thought!

This morning I was pontificating upon that subject matter further and I began to wonder how the human brain works. I mean, a memory must be built upon all of the different sensory inputs that we possess, right? What makes the brain decide which ones to discard, which ones to keep vaguely and which ones to keep for a very long time, if not forever?

Think about some of your earliest memories for a moment. I would wager that some of them make perfect sense that you can still remember them because they are attached to something special. It could be a hyper-negative situation or an extremely special one in a positive way.

However, I would also wager that some of them are just run of the mill memories and you cannot attach any significance to them that would make you understand why you can still remember them. These are the memories that have put me into a quandary.

I could type forever and actually research this subject and learn not only myself but maybe some of you on this topic, but alas, I am too lazy for that and I don’t feel it necessary. I will say one more thing on the subject, however, just to throw in some more confusion for myself. Does it not seem that it is often the case that it is much easier to remember negative events in our lives? Our miraculous vessels of life and the brains that control them are and probably always will be a bit of a mystery to us.

So, back to the soup analogy. While it is true that the tastiest bits often times sink to the bottom, and therefore need to be stirred up, the real essence of the soup is in the broth! The mundane. The day to day. The memories that come and go so fast that nobody could have an accurate visual recall in their head. The flavor and the all of the components that could possibly make this soup we call life better, are in the broth. Just like all of the flavor and components that make you who you are are in the minutiae of the broth that makes up your being.

Point? Always work on making the broth the best that it can be! Remember to stir up the tasty bits of memory regularly! One without the other is merely chunks of meat or veggies or glorified dishwater, but together they make a very tasty dish!

And most importantly, remember to always LOVE YOUR WAY THROUGH IT!

Shaun

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Self-Doubt is an Evil Demon, Banish It, Now, Writer Babies!

Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.

That evil inner voice? The butt-face that says you aren’t good enough, that you don’t deserve good things, that you can’t do it?

That little monster is Self-doubt. It hangs out a lot with its big sister, Anxiety. And you don’t have to have them over to play in your head anymore.

Just this week, we posted our podcast and a guy (editor/writer) on Twitter didn’t like it but posted a link to his own blog and said, “COUNTER POINT.”

His blog was all about not wanting to give out writing advice or talking about his own life/anxiety/whatever issues.

All of that is so fine and good for him for telling the world why he is the way his beautiful self is, but this little bit of me was like:

What? Counterpoint? Counterpoint to saying life is deeper than write what you know?

Counterpoint to what?

And why the hell did you post under my tweet your own link without even having the grace to like mine?

If my blog post (if you even read it) inspired you enough to ‘counterpoint’ why not like it?

And then I had a lot of work to do helping writers and writing my own stories and I let it go.

It was a bit of a win for me, honestly. Because all I want to do is be a better human and one step towards that? For me? It’s banishing Self-doubt.

It’s almost like the universe gave me a present right there.

But this isn’t just about me. It’s also about you and how you can do that too, right?

Here’s how to kick Self-Doubt and Anxiety out of your house.

  1. Tell them to get out. Seriously, once they start whispering their disparaging believes about your worth, tell them, “Get out. I hear you. I don’t need you. Bugger off. You’re ruining the party.”
  2. Remember good things. If Self-doubt is a bully who won’t leave, you sometimes have to call in the reinforcements. Those reinforcements are the good time, the good memories. The times you were proactive and kicked butt.
  3. Phone a friend or text or Facetime. Sometimes your own memories aren’t strong enough and you have to talk to someone about your self-doubt. Telling another person about your doubts sometimes helps you realize how dorky they are and how they are like the OOPS page on a Rotten Tomatoes movie listing. The congnative dissonance because obvious when you say things aloud.
  4. Make a Journal of Awesome. At one point in my life, I had to print out people’s positive emails and reviews so that I could remember that I had helped people, that my stories connected to people before. I even put in fan mail and fan art and blog posts about positive interactions. Yes, I really was that depressed. Self-doubt had set up home.
  5. Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
  6. Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.
  7. Remember you aren’t the center of the universe. I know! I know! You ARE the center of your own universe probably, but we all have to push away our inner narcissist and remember that most people aren’t noticing what you’re doing. Yes, there are trolls out there, but they most likely won’t find you. And if they do? They’re trolls and you’re awesome and you will deal with it. Don’t let your fear of ridicule keep you from living your dreams.

That one is a big one for me, really, which was why ‘counterpoint’ was a bit of a setback.

I’m still working on it and it’s the main reason I still blog, do podcasts, and YouTube. All those things force me out of my comfort zone and into past trauma places about my voice and weirdness. The more I do it? The stronger I get about it.

Oh! And the last one is so important that it’s getting pulled from the list.

What other people think about you doesn’t get to determine who you are.

That’s right. I have a sibling who thinks I’m lying about my DNA. His belief that I’m a liar? It doesn’t make me a liar. I have DNA tests to back me up. Yes, I’ve got the receipts.

But even if you don’t have the receipts, don’t let anyone else make you the villain or the victim of your own story. Only YOU get to decide that. No matter what other people do to you, think of you, say about you, only YOU get to determine if you love yourself and if you have worth.

Here’s the final secret: You do.

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 INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

“When the ceiling caves in on you, you no longer assume structural stability. You have to learn to live along fault lines.”

— Suleika Jaouad (@suleikajaouad) author of memoir Between Two Kingdoms.

You don’t have to be perfect to be awesome.

 Look.

You don’t have to be perfect.

Here’s the harsh truth:

You’re not going to ever be perfect to everyone.

 That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to evolve, to care, to succeed, to be awesome, it just means that you can let your quest for perfectionism pull you down into despair.

When I was a little kid, I would sometimes be afraid to draw things because I would have to erase the mistakes every time I made Snoopy’s head a little wobbly.  That only happened when one of my older siblings laughed at my drawing, told me it looked like crap, and to go put my head back in a book.

Now, I don’t care too much about drawing Snoopy perfectly. I just explore with form and e texture and color and those positive and negative spaces.

Here’s another not so harsh truth:

Every day is an opportunity to live.

That’s right. Each day we get is a day we probably have to work and deal with people, but it’s also another day to just get out there and live, to live each moment and think, “Holy poop. What’s going to happen next.”

When we worry too much about how we look in our bathing suit, we lose the opportunity to jump in a Maine lake with our friends.

When we worry too much that our book’s copyediting won’t be perfect, we lose the opportunity to share our story.

Our perfectionism about our work, our body, our minds, our selves keeps us from playing, from joy, from wonder, from living in the damn moment and living beyond that moment.

When your life goes a bit out of control? That’s when your perfectionism really does you in. You have to cultivate the playfulness inside of you that allows you to spend each day as an opportunity that you can approach with curiousity and wonder and maybe even joy.

I know! I know! What kind of wildness is this? Joy?

Yes, joy.

When you feel stressed because you feel like you aren’t good enough, try approaching yourself and the problem differently. Applaud yourself for every little victory you have the way we applaud toddlers for taking their first wobbly steps, first full word, first full sentence, or even first time they make it to the potty.

Allowing ourselves to approach ourselves with wonder and acceptance is really an amazingly strong and brave thing.