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

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

 
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Here’s the spoiler:

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

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

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

So here are the ways to actually invest in yourself.

Stay healthy for your brain

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

How do you do that? According to Harvard:

Step 1: Eat a plant-based diet

Step 2: Exercise regularly

Step 3: Get enough sleep

Step 4: Manage your stress

Step 5: Nurture social contacts

Step 6: Continue to challenge your brain

Stay happy or at least okay. Relationships matter.

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

As Kyle Benson writes,

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Benson

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

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

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

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

Kyle Benson again

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

Get some skills!

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

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

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

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

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

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

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


FREE BOOK? YES! I AM SERIOUS.

Click here to subscribe to my weekly newsletter and get a free pdf of my book!


Resources


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

N.Cole

Is this you?

Do you love something?

Do you do it?

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

Which is interesting. What does that mean, right?

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

“I love all the things,” Carrie says.

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

WORST CAREER ADVICE EVER?

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

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

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

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

Cal Newport

According to Haden, passions are a bad choice because:

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

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

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

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

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

Haden

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

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

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


DOG TIP FOR LIFE:

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

SHOUT OUT

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

LINK TO HADEN’S ARTICLE:

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


LET’S HANG OUT!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

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

FOOTBALL, HOCKEY, YOUNG ADULT LIT AN UPSTATE NEW YORKER IN DETROIT – BONUS INTERVIEW WITH KIM SHOWALTER

FOOTBALL, HOCKEY, YOUNG ADULT LIT AN UPSTATE NEW YORKER IN DETROIT – BONUS INTERVIEW WITH KIM SHOWALTER

 
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This week’s bonus podcast features the amazing Kim Showalter, a native upstate New Yorker who moved to Detroit.

It’s a homage to moms, books, football, hockey, and the Bills. I hope you’ll give Kim some love and have a listen!

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Shout Out!

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

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

Gabby the Dog’s Advice About Voting

I know a lot of you in the U.S. are a bit stressed out about the election, but I Gabby, the dog, am not stressed.

Can I tell you why I am not stressed?

It isn’t about Carrie hugs, though those always help.

I am not stressed because DOGS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE IN THIS COUNTRY!

Yes. It is stunning, but true.

I personally think that all dogs SHOULD be allowed to vote because we are great judges of character.

We can tell if a politician is lying by his or her smell.

If he/she/they are lying, then they smell like canola oil.

We can tell if a politician has been doing naughty things by his or her smell.

We can tell if a politician has cancer just by his or her smell. Seriously. We can.

I personally can identify all people as threats or non-threats JUST BY HOW THEY SMELL!

Note: If he smells like graveyards and old eggs and lilacs, which equals SUPER HUGE THREAT. DO NOT EVER VOTE FOR HIM. Go figure. They might look nice enough, but it’s really about the smell.

Still, despite my super ability to discern character, I do not get to vote. Sigh.

But you do! I urge you to vote and elect leaders who understand the importance of smell and the importance of dogs. It’s important. It’s not an issue they talk about a lot, but IT SHOULD BE!

And don’t give up even if your candidates do not/did not win this go round.

Dogs never give up.

We dogs do not get to vote about the economy or health care. We do not get to vote about wars or climate change or human rights. We do not get to vote about bank bail-outs. And all of these things affect us dogs, just like they affect you. I can’t tell you how many dogs I know who have had to go from Iams to Shaw’s generic brand dog food because of the economy or how many dogs have watched their owners suffer because they couldn’t afford health care. Please, do not make me tell you about the dogs who have sadly wasted away on their porches because their owners have gone to war.

It isn’t fair.

And, finally, you should always vote even if you don’t like the choices for president or for senator or for judge of probate. You should vote because people fought for you to vote. People died to protect your right to vote. You should vote because it is still a struggle for some people to vote. You should vote because you are lucky enough to have the legal right to vote, to make a choice.

You should vote so that you have a voice, a bark, a howl.

And you should also send dog treats. Just saying.


HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

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

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

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

NEW BOOK ALERT!

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

There’s a bit more about it here.

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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


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

Facing the Facts About Wedgies, Soccer Coaches, and Elections

Facing the Facts About Wedgies, Soccer Coaches, and Elections

 
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Once, one of our kiddos had two soccer coaches.

And one time at the game, her jv coach yelled at her. She cried the entire way home. She refused to cry on the bench because she’s stoic like that.

Carrie talked to the varsity coach the next morning and he said, “Yeah. I had to do damage control on four or five players after that game. He had them all crying.”

It is hard for us to handle my kid crying about soccer.

One because in the big scheme of things it’s not important. But also, having someone yell at you is like having them give you a wedgie. It’s embarrassing, you feel the opposite of awesome and it can hurt.

That’s the thing reality hurts.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote, FINDING FLOW, says, “To achieve excellence, we must first understand the reality of the everyday, with all its demands and potential frustrations.”

Crying because of soccer coaches counts as the reality of the everyday moments. 

So does not putting the filter in the coffee maker right so that eight cups of water and coffee grinds spill all over the counter and the floor. 

So does getting a wedgie or trolled on Facebook by your Great Aunt Mary’s best friend who thinks wearing masks is a conspiracy sent by aliens from the planet GoodSpa.

So does realizing your WIP is in need of serious help.

Part of improvisational comedy and improvisational life is facing the facts even when those facts suck.

That’s Patricia Ryan Madson’s seventh maxim in her book IMPROV WISDOM is about facing fact.

Carrie really hates facing the facts, sometimes. But she likes the facts (even when they aren’t in her favor) because the facts aren’t lies.


We have to go with what truths we have and sometimes what we have is a middle school jv soccer coach who makes people cry. Or a politician or a family member who does the same thing

Sometimes the truth is a ton of coffee-stained water on the floor or a dog who peed when she woke up and somehow that pee created a big puddle under your king-sized bed.

Sometimes the truth is a WIP that needs serious help. Sometimes it’s a relationship that needs that, a country, a community.

And today, the day, we’re releasing the podcast is election day in the United States and it’s not an understatement to say that the U.S. is having a difficult year and a lot of us are really worried about today.

But worries and wishes? That’s not where it’s at.

As this brilliant woman says,

Wishing things were different simply wastes time. The improviser can’t afford unrealistic thinking. Instead, she builds bridges over rocky terrain and turns lemons into lemonade. She works with what is actually in front of her, setting aside the temptation to dwell on what is not.”

Patricia Madson

She is so smart.

Now is not the time for just worrying and wishing. It’s a time for action. Write your books. Protest. Vote for your candidates. Create the community and laws and system that seem fair and equitable to you.

But do it. No matter what

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Wishing your story into existence doesn’t make your story exist. Dig in. Write it. Write it now.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t laze around on the couch and let all the other dogs do the work. Bark. Guard things that are important to you. You can’t complain that you don’t get any treats if you never make an effort.

SHOUT OUT

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

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

There’s a bit more about it here.

Cool Book I Wrote

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

Let’s Hang Out!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

Show Us Don’t Tell Us, Baby.

Show Us Don’t Tell Us, Baby.

 
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So in writing one of the biggest tips that you start hearing starts in around third grade and it’s “SHOW DON’T TELL.”

And it’s sound writing advice, but it’s pretty sound life advice, too.

How many of us have heard the words, “I love you,” but never seen the actions that give proof to the words. You can tell someone you love them incessantly for hours, but if you don’t show them it too, it’s pretty likely that the words aren’t going to rock that person’s world.

Telling is like this:

Shaun was a hotty.

Showing is like this:

Carrying four grocery bags and a kitten, biceps bulging, Shaun walked through the parking lot, approaching a couple of older men. The smaller man gawped at Shaun, staring at his chest, the kitten, the bags, the biceps.

“Wow,” the man said, pivoting as Shaun strode by. “Just wow.”

The man licked his lips. His partner hit him in the back of the head lightly and said, “I am right here.”

What Does This Mean?

Both examples illustrate that Shaun is a hotty, but one states it as fact (telling) and one elucidates with examples (description, reaction, action).

Here’s One More Quick Example

Telling

The lawyer liked to use big words to impress people.

Showing

Carpenter stuck his thumbs into the waist of his pants, lowered his voice and said, “Pontification is one of the more mirthful and blithe aspects of the juridical system.”

IN REAL LIFE IT MATTERS TOO.

In life, you want to show too, not just tell all the time.

You can say, “I love you.”

You can also grab someone’s hand and say, “I love you.”

You can also scoff and turn away and step on an ant and say, “I love you.”


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

The actions matter. Showing matters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Showing and telling simultaneously in life (not writing) works to get treats.


Shout Out

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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


Let’s Hang!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Rules for Writers and Money (and everyone else too)

Rules for Writers and Money (and everyone else too)

 
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You will find a lot of popular content all about how to make money. There are a lot of random blog articles about HOW I MADE 8 TRILLION DOLLARS IN PASSIVE INCOME A MONTH or 22 AWESOME PASSIVE INCOME IDEAS.

Which is lovely. But a lot of us writers are thinking, “What are these even talking about?”

What Is Passive Income?

Passive income is money that happens and builds from things that already exist. They can be from investments (like you rent a room in your house or an entire house or you open a savings account or CDs). It can also come from the investment of effort and time in something you build. This could be a YouTube channel or your eBook once it’s up and running. It could be affiliate marketing or selling prints of your art.

What is Active Income?

Active income is money that someone pays you when you do something for them that’s a service. It can be your salary at the grocery store. It could be an hourly wage at a bookstore. It could be a commission. It could be a tip.

So what’s all this have to do with writing?

According to a study by the Authors Guild, the average full-time writer’s median pay was $20,300 in 2017. That’s full-time. For most of us that’s not a big ton of money. There’s no real standardization of pay and that number doesn’t account for pay discrepencies for sex and race.

On Publishers Lunch, Erin Somers, looks at average earnings instead and wrote,

“For the 63 percent of authors who reported receiving book related income in 2017, the average total income was $43,247, which paints a very different picture . Over 2,000 authors had average publisher royalties of almost $32,000; close to 1,700 self-published authors reported royalties of just over $31,000, and a smaller group of about 700 authors also had average ebook subscription service earnings of over $13,000.”

Somers

But that’s only the writers who actually survived and didn’t give up. About a quarter of the authors that the guild surveyed received no money at all from book activity that year.

So, yes, most of us writers have to have other sources of income outside of writing. And that my friends, is why we’re writing this blog.

Being constantly terrified of not making money makes me, Carrie, a stressed-out writer who sometimes worries more about money and profitability than the actual craft. And a stressed-out Carrie equals a cranky Carrie. Nobody wants a cranky author.

So here are some examples of passive income investments when you have money to spend

  • Buy an investment property and rent it.
  • Invest in a high-yield savings account.
  • Check out crowdfunded real estate with REITs. Sites like Fundrise are a great place to start.
  • Peer-to-peer lending like on the Lending Club where you can loan money to others and get a return.

Examples of passive income investments that are more initial work than initial money.

  • Affiliate marketing on your blog. When people click through an ad that’s on your blog, you get a commission when they buy something that’s affiliated with that link.
  • YouTube – if you get a big enough following you can monetize your YouTube channel and have ads during your content.
  • Create an Online Course – Teachable and Udemy are great places to show off your skills.
  • Sell your art prints or your photos. Shutterstock Is a great resource for photographers.
  • Make an eBook – Seriously, especially if it’s nonfiction.
  • Rent out some storage space or your car or a room in your house.
  • Sell your clothes. Thredup and Poshmark will often give you cash or credit on their site. And it’s good for the environment, or at least better for the environment.

OTHER WAYS TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR MONEY SITUATION.

Those are ways to make extra income, but it’s also about not spending too much money and saving, right?

Live Like A Student

Mark Cuban (the guy from Shark Tank) is a big cheerleader for living beneath your means. Don’t buy all the things. Pretend you have less money than you have.

His yacht is anchored outside our town a lot and his yacht is HUGE so I’m not sure that Mr. Cuban is doing this? But I guess maybe he could have an even bigger yacht? It’s good advice for the rest of us though.

Step Away From the Credit Card

My dad was always murmur-screaming, DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS! THEY ARE EVIL DEMONS FROM HELL! And he was right. Don’t use them if you don’t have to. Use your debit card.

The interest rates on these babies are horrific. You end up owing these companies so much money. Try to pay off or pay down your bill every single month. And then step away. Lock them in a gun safe or something. Seriously. Try not to use them.

Gather Information

Reading blogs and books (much more in depth usually) can give you the information you need and generate the ideas necessary to move your life or your business or your writing to the next level. A $25 investment with a potentially thousand-dollar return? That’s kind of a no-brainer.

Be as informed as you can be so you can make the best possible decisions.

Don’t Be Afraid

Because I grew up poor and because I heard a TON of stories about the depression and the stock market crash of the 1920s (my grandfather was a stockbroker allegedly and watched one of his friends die), I became a bit terrified about stocks and things.

There are three rules that help me deal with this and invest my money.

  1. I ignore everything that’s happening in the stock market when it comes to my portfolio. I pretend that once that money is invested, it’s just gone. This lowers my anxiety even as I plug in $25 a week automatically to a random Edward Jones account.
  2. If you want to invest in something scary, only invest 5-10 percent of your total investments in that scary possibility.
  3. Standard & Poor’s mutual funds are good places to put a bit of money into. But go for the cheapest ones possible.
WRITING TIP OF THE POD

It’s okay to talk about money and to be smart about it.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Do not gobble all your box of dog treats (or writing advance) in one big gulp.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

HANG OUT WITH US!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

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

Writing In The Tension Into Your Story Interview with Author Mark Del Franco

I talked to Mark Del Franco about how he builds tension and suspense.  According to his website, “Mark Del Franco spent several years in the publishing field in editorial and administrative roles and in the institutional finance field as a proposal writer. He currently is pursuing a freelance career in both these fields.”

SONY DSC

“Mark Del Franco lives with his partner, Jack, in Boston, Massachusetts, where the orchids tremble in fear since he killed Jack’s palm plants.”

What his website bio doesn’t say is that Mark is an amazing guy and masterful at first-person suspense.

So, Mark, what do you do to build tension in a scene?

I find tension one of the harder aspects of writing because I know what’s going to happen.  Sometimes the execution surprises me—the  scene I envision does not always result in the scene that gets written—but the bottom-line is that it’s not tense for me in the same way it is for a reader.  So what do I do?  I try and be a reader as I write.  The crucial point of tension is something has to be at stake that the reader cares about or at least believes the characters care about.  For me, that means setting a scene first–the visuals and why it’s important.  Then I layer in the idea of the success or failure being equally important—it’s not tension if the result is not in doubt.  Last, the pay-off has to work credibly–if something resolves successfully, the reader must feel that I haven’t cheated to get there (for example, “Poof! she waved her magic scepter”) and if something resolves tragically, the reader must not feel I stacked the odds to an impossible height to make a plot point (for example, “everyone died,  but now he had a reason for revenge”).  These three things overlap, but they do happen for me in roughly this order.

Is it a “big bang shock” sort of technique for you or you more fond of the “take the reader down the dark and sinister hallway” approach?

I like both!  Both techniques have their uses and achieve different goals.  I think the big bang is an after-effect technique.  The Bad Thing happens, and the tension derives from how characters have to deal with it.  The dark hallway is more front-loaded—we know something is coming, so the goal is to face it and the tension derives from whether
the characters can prevent the Bad Thing.  Both techniques, I think, are a test of character (in both senses of the word) that should make a reader care about what happens.

Do you think that it\’s easier to build tension in first or third person? And either way, as a reader (not as a writer) which do you prefer?

As a writer, I’ve been focusing on first person to date so I’m more comfortable with first (though a new novel I’m working on is in third). With first person, I have an easier time slipping behind my protagonists eyes and trying to imagine what would make things tense for me, then translating that to the page.  I think this gives the reader a certain
immediacy to the tension, too.  Third person is a broader kind of tension in that I’m trying to make things tense for the reader and the character in slightly different ways while telling one narrative.  Right now, as I learn my way through third person writing (and every novel is a new learning experience), I’m feeling that third person makes a higher
demand for ensuring the setting tension is strong because the viewpoint is broader.  As a reader, I respond more to first person tension.  With third person tension, for some reason I tend to notice more the way scenes are crafted to create tension, but that may be due to the fact that third person has not been my main writing point of view so far.

If you think of suspense coming in different sizes (small, medium, super-ultra large) do you think it\’s best to alternate these or are you into the steady diet of massive (or tiny) suspenses in your book.

In a way, this is a broader issue of pacing and making decisions as a writer as to the type of book you want to write.  My Connor Grey series tends to medium hits of tension that grow larger over the course of the novel until I hit the big one.  That’s the pay off for myself and the reader—laying out a series of events that become more and more
perilous until Connor must make the big decision on how to act.  With my new novel set in the Convergent World, I’m looking to create a faster pace–I want my main character, Laura, to be put through her paces and prove she’s as good as everyone thinks she is.  So, I end up throwing a lot at her.  That increases the pacing and the way to do that is those
steady hits of tension.

When you write do you think the nature of  your suspense comes from your characters or from the plot?

As an urban fantasy writer that has focused on mystery, I hope the tension is in the plot!  At the same time, I think (and hope) that there’s a level of character tension too since my main character learned he has feet of clay and is struggling to overcome that.  How he becomes a better person–making mistakes along the way.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

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

There’s a bit more about it here.


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Writing Pet Peeves

Writing Pet Peeves

 
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Carrie’s number one writing pet peeve is when authors write,

I thought to myself.

Seriously. You are always thinking to yourself, sweet writer, unless you’re telepathically communicating to a zombie hamster and then all bets are off.

But the thing is that I, Carrie, get why authors like myself do this. It’s because:

  1. We’re worried that the reader isn’t going to get what we’re saying.
  2. We’re padding our daily word count totals for NaNoWriMo, national novel writing month where you try to write a 50,000-word novel in November.

But here’s the thing. Your readers are smart or smart enough to know that when your characters are thinking, they are doing that to themselves and not anyone else.

Cut those words, sweeties. Trust the readers. Trust your writing.

If you say, “I think” or “I thought,” everyone knows it’s to yourself… unless, you know, telepathic zombie hamsters.

So how about you? What are your writing pet peeves?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Trust your readers. Don’t write down to them. Believe in your words.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You don’t need to be insecure. Be proud of what you’re doing, who you are and what you’re putting down for the world to hear.

SHOUT OUT!

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

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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!

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NEW BOOK ALERT!

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

There’s a bit more about it here.

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

Where Does All That Writing Tension Come From?

This week, I’ve been talking about story tension which basically comes down to this question:

Where does all that tension and all that suspense comes from?

That makes it sound like this is a blog post about dealing with rejection and deadlines and cranky editors. It isn’t.

All of us have tension in our lives. We worry about our loved ones, our jobs, our selves, our country. The tension comes from multiple sources.

That’s how it works in writing, too.

Suspense can come from:

  1. Plot
  2. Characters
  3. Place

Suspense from Plot

 In his Essay “Killing Them in Suspense” William Reynolds writes, “The most obvious source of suspense is plot – indeed, in genre fiction especially, it’s nearly impossible to separate the two.”

 He cites the movie North by Northwest (one of editor Andrew Karre’s favorites about ten years ago).

Poor Cary Grant is besieged by nasty guys who are 100 % positive that Dashing Cary is someone they’ve been trying to capture for a long, long time. Dashing Cary Grant dashes around so he doesn’t get caught. We root for him. We worry for him. We want to know what will happen and there’s a real danger that the bad guys will catch him and Dashing Cary will dash no more.

Suspense from Characters

 What your characters do also creates suspense. Their actions, their reactions will increase the tension. This is why your characters have to be flawed. Their flaws up the stakes. In the Harry Potter books, Harry’s stubborn streak makes him vulnerable. When he chooses to dash off — ala Cary Grant —  and save the world alone we worry for him, but that’s his character choice to do that.

 We don’t know if Harry will survive Voldemort, the evil wizard. We don’t know if Harry will even survive his Tri-Wizard Level tests and we care because we care about Harry. We worry about him.           

Suspense from Place

It’s the “unpredictable nature” of certain places, which also create suspense Reynolds believes.  In Buffy the Vampire Slayer universe, Sunnydale is a Hellmouth and all sorts of demons can come on through. The demons play by different rules. The place creates suspense. Lots of science fiction and fantasy novels do this.

In many literary novels the unpredictable weather creates suspense.

Stephen King uses the rural landscape of Maine, the isolation of homes and people to create suspense. Stephenie Meyers does the same thing in her Twilight series.

Reynolds uses his own first line in his novel, Things Invisible, to show how it’s done. What’s the first line?

            “Days like this remind you that you’re going to die.”


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NEW BOOK ALERT!

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

There’s a bit more about it here.

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