Don’t Look At Yourself Naked After You’ve Had a Burrito: Writer Insecurity Syndrome

Awhile ago, I had this nasty bad cold and when I was almost better, I tried to write and realized that everything I was writing was absolutely horrible and would always be awful and what was the point.

This is called Writer Insecurity Syndrome. It usually happens when you’re sick, when you feel like you’ll never get 50,000 readers, or when someone trolls you on Twitter.

“What am I doing?” I whined to S. who pulled the laptop off my lap and gave me tea.

He smiled at me and shook his head.

“You’re not suppose to look at your work when you’re sick,” he said. “No matter what you do or how good it is, when you’re sick it always looks hopeless and pointless and it seems like you stink.”

I said, quite intelligently like the woman of words that I am, “Oh.”

“It’s like eating a bean burrito,” he said.


“You never want to go look at yourself naked in the mirror after you’ve eaten three or four bean burritos,” he said. “It’s like that with doing your job or thinking about your life when you’re sick.”

It makes sense.

Sort of.

“You can eat three or four bean burritos?” I asked.

“Yep,” he said, all proud.

“And you’ve actually looked at yourself naked afterwards?”

He quietly left the room.

When things are bad, it’s easy to spiral down. Try to lift out of it. Most of the time, our feelings and circumstances change. Hang onto that and believe in yourself even after you’ve eaten four bean burritos.

Hey! I hung out over at Dad Without a Dad’s podcast this week. Check it out here.


My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is coming out October 1 and if you pre-order it now, you can get the Ebook for .99 before the price goes up to $2,99. 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


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.


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 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Make Your Story Tense plus Editor Andrew Karre

This week I’m talking about tension and suspense in our writing and I am happy to announce that awhile ago I interviewed the super cool Mark Del Franco (author), Steven Wedel (author) and Andrew Karre (editor). They’ll all be appearing in posts throughout the week.


Carol Davis Luce gives examples of how to write scenes that are full of tension.

The first is THE BIG BANG

It’s like this
: A writer is happily working away on her new manuscript when suddenly BANG! Her editor calls. He’s leaving the publishing house. He will no longer be her editor anymore. Her whole world is suddenly tilted upside down. It is disaster. Disaster, I tell you!

Wait. No, that’s what happened to me a few years ago. (Sorry, Andrew.)

Anyway, this type of scene seems peaceful. There are no warnings that something big is going to happen. There’s no build-up to the horrible event. The event just happens.

Luce says, “This type of scene lacks genuine suspense, which is best built slowly. It is, however, extremely effective when used sparingly.”

Basically, if you use it too much readers will get annoyed at you. They won’t be stunned. They’ll be groaning, or as Luce says, they’ll feel ‘cheated.’

The second example is THE JACK-IN-THE-BOX TECHNIQUE

This is when the reader knows, absolutely knows, something big is going to happen. She experiences the moments that build up to the big event. She is scared. She cares. Then it happens.

It’s like this: We see the editor hasn’t sent the writer that many emails lately. He isn’t posting as much on his blog. The writer remembers him telling her how much he’d like to pursue middle grade fiction, however his imprint is only young adult fiction. She checks his blog for news. Nothing. The teapot on the stove boils. The phone rings. The caller id shows the editor’s name. He tells her the news.

According to Luce when writing a suspense-filled book, you want to use this kind of scene. You want to vary the pace of the scene, too.


William J. Reynolds says that you should vary the size of the suspense within your novel. Not all scenes should be huge murder scenes where the suspense is large. Some should be small. He calls these the “I WONDER WHAT” moments.

Add a little physical danger and I WONDER WHAT moments become more medium sized.

Add a lot of danger and some more ambiguity and those moments become large I’VE GOT TO KNOW moments.

Examples using the book Twilight:

Small suspense moment: I wonder why that guy Belle thinks is hot is acting like such a meanie.

Medium suspense moment: I wonder how that guy that Belle thinks is hot saved her from the car that was about to crush her.

Large suspense moment: Oh, my gosh. I wonder how that guy that Belle thinks is hot isn’t going to give in and suck her blood and kill her because she is so tempting and her blood smells so good and he is a vampire after all.

Extra large suspense moment: OH!!!! NO!!! Bella is so not going to turn into a vampire on purpose, is she? What kind of crazy is that, girl?

I talked about suspense to Andrew Karre, an editor at Penguin now who has been my editor in the past.

Andrew quoted Hitchcock and said, “There is no terror in a bang, only in the anticipation of it.”

It’s that anticipation that leads up to those jack-in-the-box moments.

Luce mentions a ‘peril detector,’ which she describes as “Something (a gut feeling, perhaps) tells her she is in danger.”

In my book, NEED, I knew I needed a peril detector. I thought of my own peril detector in real life. Whenever something bad is going to happen (Say, my editor decides to leave the publishing house) the center of my hand starts to hurt, just ache. So, for Zara, I needed something creepier, so whenever the pixie king is nearby, it feels like spiders are running all over her skin.

“I don’t have any sure-fire techniques for building suspense. It seems like suspense should come from the plot, and I’m sure it does to a degree, but the degree and impact of that suspense comes in the manner of the telling and that’s character. I find a steady barrage of big shocks will inevitably dull the reader’s senses.”

Andrew Karre

This is why it’s important to vary the pace and kind of suspense. It shouldn’t be one big shock after another. It’s important to remember about character. Steve Wedel discusses that too in one of our upcoming posts.


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 252,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!



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

Random Plea For You To Vote For Local People, Too.

Seriously. I know that we all care so much about the national election (Well, except for those of us who have thrown up our hands and started glutting ourselves on strudel because we can’t take it any more.) but local races? They matter.


1. It’s the local races that often start the candidate pool that leads up to the big races. Not always obviously. Our current president didn’t do this, but most politicians do.


Sheep: Dude? Why do we all look the same? We are not all the same!

2. Local issues matter. No. Really. They do.

Gabby the Dog says: The only issue I care about is tongue length and cookies for all canines? Will you vote with me? 

No matter what your political leanings are, it’s easy to get all huffy and upset over what presidents do, but local issues matter too.

It’s stuff like school funding, energy programs, how high your property taxes are, what kind of development goes into your town, whether you have a playground or not, whether or not you can put a sign on your business that doesn’t have to be pre-approved, fire and police budgets, if you can put a fence in your backyard.

It sounds silly, but the consequences of local decisions (for example sprawl due to lack of regional planning leading to higher childhood obesity rates leading to higher costs of health care) are really far reaching.

Sparty the Dog: The only issue I care about is One Dog = Eighteen Daily Walks. Is that local enough?

I’ve met a couple people when I’ve knocked on doors who have told me that they probably aren’t going to vote because they don’t like either of the main parties’ presidential candidates.

That kills me. Seriously. I can understand not liking any presidential candidates. It has happened to me almost every four years, but there are other races. There are U.S. senators and city councils and people going onto library boards who might want to ban books. Honestly… a woman in Texas once got to be constable because she was the only one who showed up?!? That kills me, too.

3. You Have A Responsibility

People fought and protested to get the right to vote in this country. We didn’t all just magically have it the moment the country started. People risked their health, their lives to be able to participate in the decisions that impact them and their lives. People still do.

Imagine if someone told you that you couldn’t vote because of your gender, your race, your economic status, your sexuality, your level of physical ability, because you were too poor? That’s what used to happen. Do you know how you keep that from happening again? You vote.

Here’s a handy site that tells you where to do that in your state or district.

And sometimes people still don’t get to vote. If you can do it, please do.

Insert Begging Here.

VOTE!!! Vote for all parts of the ticket not just president. It’s so much cooler than not voting at all.


It’s a little book baby and it’s out October 1. It’s sparse and stark and makes me cry. I hope you’ll preorder it for .99. So cheap! So cheap for tears. After Oct.1, the cost goes up to $2.99.

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

Monday Cat Inspiration

Humans, keep your heads up, go after your dreams especially if your dreams involve staring at birds all day.

What? Not your dream? That’s okay. I don’t judge yours. You don’t judge mine. Deal?

Only we get to determine our own dreams. Let’s make them fantastic.

Koko Cat

Why I Stopped Getting Google Alerts Way Back in 2007

I stopped getting Google Alerts.
Google Alerts are these wild things that tell you (sort of) when your book’s name or your name comes up on the web.

That can be a good thing.
That can be a very bad thing.

But in 2007 for me, it became a really, really bad thing.

 Tell us why Carrie.

Okay, Grover. Just because you are so darn cute and blue and furry, I will.

In 2007 Google Alerts coming to my email about my book TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND had been coming through saying a line of a review and a website. I clicked. The website took me to… I don’t know, Grover. Should I really tell?

Yes, Carrie, do tell.

Okay. It was taking me to porn sites.

Do not worry, Carrie! I, Super Grover, and I, Scary Flasher Grover, will save you from this horrible thing.

I know, Grover, I wish you would! And it was not taking me to just any porn sites, and it was not even taking me to gay porn sites which would seem more appropriate, but it sent me to really hardcore horrible places. Do not worry, I clicked off my computer right away.

But, I guess, my points are:

1. I felt kind of violated. There was nothing to indicate that these sites were naughty. And they were really, really naughty.

2. That made me worried about other people somehow getting there from reviews of my book?

3. My poor editor guy, Andrew, gets Google Alerts for his authors’ books and it happened to him, too.

4. I still feel like that Dateline NBC man is going to come to my computer and say, “You were on an Internet porn site for 1.2 seconds before you screamed, shut it off and sprayed yourself with an entire bottle of Lysol Disinfectant spray. Why did you go there? Why? And don’t give me that Google Alerts line. We’ve heard it before.

5. I can’t help but wonder what sweet Grover would think if he knew what I accidentally saw. Please forgive me, Grover. I knew not what I did.

Oh, Carrie. Do you really think I, Grover, have a problem with this? Really… C’mon. Do you?


Pretty soon, I’m going to have a Teachable class all about the scene. It’s going to be pretty cheap and hopefully you’ll sign up and like it. You can also get access if you sign up for the $5 level for my Patreon. That link is behind the jump.

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

Continue reading “Why I Stopped Getting Google Alerts Way Back in 2007”

Am I Klutzy? No? Yes? What Are The Truths About Ourselves, Really?

A long time ago, my now-dead mom called and the first thing she said on the phone was not:

1. Hello.

2. Hi. This is Mom.

3. Yo.

4. Pant. Pant. Pant.

No, the first thing she said was:

“Well, now I guess I know where my klutzy daughter got it from.”

my mom

I had no idea who she was talking about. My brain just blanked. It was kind of like when you’re going through an internet wormhole and a page has a hard time loading and you get that page where it says there’s a server problem and the site can’t be viewed. Or you get that little sand glass thing to indicate the program is thinking, thinking, thinking but there’s a good possibility it just won’t connect and it’ll probably freeze.

Finally, I thought,

“Klutzy? Me? I’m the klutzy daughter? Not Debbie?”

Carrie the confused.

I asked everyone else I knew, who know the Carrie Jones I am now, and they all said, “What?”

With genuine shock.

Which was cool because I like to think of myself as a graceful queen of the house,home and kayak.

But what’s really got me going is how different people can have totally different perceptions of who we are? And who is right? Are we who we perceive ourselves to be? Or are we who the consensus thinks we are? Both? None?

Apparently, C.S. Lewis tackles this in his book, Till We Have Faces, which I have not read because I’m not really a big Lewis fan. Gasp! I know!

But it all intrigues me so much.

When I was a little kid, there was a girl who thought she was a fantastic singer and had perfect pitch. She was not. People cringed when she sang and she sang a lot. But it didn’t matter to her. She believed that she was amazing.

I was always so afraid that I was like her. That I would believe something about myself that was the opposite of the truth.

There are people out there who believe they are the epitome of good and there are people who think those same people who are the epitome of evil.

One of my daughters has a dad who thinks she is clumsy while I think she is the least clumsy person I’ve ever met.

And I guess it’s perspective. And I guess figuring it all calls for a definition of truth. But those things — perspective, truth — those are big things that are somehow no longer all that easy to define.

Continue reading “Am I Klutzy? No? Yes? What Are The Truths About Ourselves, Really?”

Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three

It’s the last of the anxiety posts and … um… I might be feeling anxious about that.

Last Monday, I posted part one of this two-part (now three-part) post which is all because one of my writing students asked: 

“Seems like a lot of us writers struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. All I can do, apparently, is grind out a page here and there during my more lucid moments. I don’t suppose you’ve got the magic key to overcoming emotional struggles so that the writing gets done?”

Writer who I’m not going to out here because that would be horrible

I have my own way of dealing with this, but my way? It’s not everyone’s way and it’s not that writer’s way so I looked to my Facebook friends for help. 

A lot of people were super kind and gave recommendations. I’m going to share some of more of them.

Start With A Word

What I do is I take a single word, whether it’s an emotion, a description, or anything else, just the first word that comes to mind. Then I build on it. I describe the word. Find synonyms, antonyms, I write what I think that word looks like as an image. Sometimes, I might even attempt to draw it (but I don’t draw well so I usually just laugh at myself for that one). Then I’ll write associations to that word. What does it remind me of? Who does it make me think of? When did I experience it last? 

Then, if I’m still feeling blocked or stuck after this, I’ll do it with another word. And another word. There have been days where I literally only write about words like this.

Allyna Rae Storms

Make It Work for you

I put my anxiety into my work. Writing or creating (painting or making jewelry) I use my extra emotions in my work. I write my fears into my characters, or I let it out into my art work. Some of my best pieces have been created when I have been frustrated, angry, or upset. Music also helps some times. 

Jenn Duffield

Look Beyond

It’s not about you, the writer. Look beyond yourself and just tell the story.

John Scherber

The Five Minute Rule

 I give my students and myself smaller assignments. Write for Five minutes. Revise one page. Then we celebrate these small accomplishments.

Ann Angel

Don’t Let Your Head Kick Your Ass

 I got this way a few times when I wrote the first draft of a short novel not too long ago. When the head kicked my ass a bit too much and my focus went to zero, that’s when I did an outline and wrote up a big picture idea of what would be happening next in my story. Then when I felt more focused, I was able to see the trees in the forest and was able to go back and flesh out my outline. This took all the pressure off me of having to think of the details and just have fun with the overall story ideas. I’m pretty certain that without this approach, that novel would never have gotten finished and I’d still be staring at blank pages.

Rick Hipson


I think acceptance helps a lot with all of this. “I’m feeling anxious today. I’m going to try to write for half an hour anyway.” “I think everything I write is crap. It probably is, but I’m going to keep working on this chapter anyway.” Half an hour here, half an hour there, they add up. I use my timer a lot. “I just have to do this for half an hour and then I can be done.” Whether it’s paying bills, sweeping floors, sorting through old clothes–that method helps me get stuff done. It’s a simple method but it does the trick.

Cathy Carr

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is the answer for me. Helps with the anxiety and to fall asleep at night.

Stacey O’Neale
Continue reading “Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three”

Writers And Anxiety And Self-Esteem

One of my writing students asked this last week and over on my Facebook page, I asked people if they any ideas for them.

“Seems like a lot of us writers struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. All I can do, apparently, is grind out a page here and there during my more lucid moments. I don’t suppose you’ve got the magic key to overcoming emotional struggles so that the writing gets done?”

Writer who I’m not going to out here because that would be horrible

A lot of people were super kind and gave recommendations. I’m going to share some of them here.

I have my own way of working through things (which is by working actually, just forcing myself to stare at the word on the page). Writing through my anxiety helps me eliminate my anxiety. By doing the work and being persistent, I usually pretty quickly remember the joy of the process and worry less about the outcome or other people’s approval or even my own self-recrimination or criticism.


That doesn’t work for everyone and I’m not quite self-centered enough to think my way is the only way. I know! I know! Shocker. 🙂

Here’s what some other people said:


Low self-esteem isn’t something I’ve struggled with since I started writing, but anxiety? Yeah, I’ve got it in spades.

For me, when my anxiety and what I call “stress brain” try to get in my way, I open a new or previous project (just something different) and throw myself into a scene that is very personal to me. It has to be something that I can completely immerse myself in, even if it means tears don’t stop flowing.

Actually? Especially then.

It clears my mind to vent off some of my personal frustrations and tell the world what I’m going through in a fictional way. It’s sort of soothing.

I’m sure some psych professionals would have a lot to say about my approach, but it works and that’s what counts, right? 😅

Jenica Saren


I’m a completionist. I get satisfaction from crossing things off my to-do list. So I started adding self care/ image tasks to it. Sometimes it will be “take half an hour and paint your nails really nicely” and sometimes it will be “smile awkwardly at yourself in a mirror for at least five minutes.” Either way, it forces me to really start to rewire my brain, and I get to cross something off my list so it’s an added bonus that creates some endorphins lol. I try to put those tasks towards to top of the list so I can’t just say “oh I’ll do that tomorrow” until I put it off forever

Autumn Gin

Top Down Development

Thoughts from a retired engineer: what the heck would I know, right? I wonder if my approach is applicable across domains. We apply “Top Down Development” to our projects. We start with a summary, expand that to steps which can be thought of as an outline, and then expand each step of the outline as we have done already. Eventually we are at a level where we are writing code, but it is going into a fully developed framework.

Does this apply to creative or non-fiction writing? Does it support or detract from the creative process?

Brett Binns

The Artist’s Way

When I sit down at the easel I will often time stare at the always scary white canvas/panel. I have found that pushing all fine drawing implements aside (pencils, pens, etc) and picking up a bold brush and start making marks does the trick. I “dabble” in writing and when that blank page is in front of me I resort to what Julia Cameron in her book “The Artists Way” suggests, grabbing a notebook and filling a couple pages with mindless streams of words that automatically come to mind which for me helps.

Richard Small

Celebrate What You’ve Done and More

What I do at the worst moments (so not general day to day but what i call ‘crashes’)

1. I write down all the things I’ve done over a period of time. No negative words on the page, only what I’ve done. This isn’t just writing or art but ALL the things because we are all many things.

2. Sometimes I will literally write a page or two of positive things about me over and over. ‘I am working hard enough’ or ‘My writing has value’. whatever it is that works for you. This helps alleviate the pressure gauge in my head.

3. I grab a friend to help recalibrate me–just to check my brain space. ‘Is this valid or is it just brain weavels?’

4. I let myself have a break–or try to

Sara Fox

The Five W’s and H

Find an interesting photo or art and write about that. Do the 5 Ws and H. Just do a quick write. Set a timer for 30 seconds and look at the picture. Study it. Form a plan. Then write 3 minutes nonstop. Write as many words as you can. It’s about word count. It doesn’t matter what you say. Just write like you’re in a race. Count the words. Do this 3 times. I find I write more each time. It gets you warmed up. You might even like I and can use it somewhere. I’ve found stories by doing this. 🤩

Here’s a link to millions of photos:

Angel Morgan

My Facebook friends are pretty amazing, right? It’s why I still have Facebook. I’ll be posting part two about this on Wednesday, but feel free to share you ideas and thoughts, too! We all should help each other when we can.

Continue reading “Writers And Anxiety And Self-Esteem”

When Children’s Book Writers Are Supposed To Dance Things Might Not Be Pretty

Back before COVID-19, I went to my first big writing conference (as a speaker) in L.A. (California) and I learned that there was a big gala thing and all of us children’s book writers (published and prepublished) were supposed to dance and schmooze there.

Despite the fact that my aunt owned a dance studio and I started dancing when I was two and despite the fact that author/poet/musician/playwright Ozzie Jones once gave me the best compliment about my dancing ever at a Bates College party and despite the fact that I’ve been in far too many musical theater productions, I get uptight about dancing.


This is awkward to admit.

And I was supposed to hang out in a group of 900 children’s book writers who were going to be dancing? It was already super obvious who the extraverts are in the children’s book world and let me tell you? It’s the dancers. It’s the schmoozes. It’s the people who introduce themselves to you and aren’t awkward about it.

It is not me.

I thought children’s book writers were my people. Apparently, I was wrong. The whole situation was a lot more like a middle school dance than I thought it would be.

What I learned

1. Some writers can actually dance. I mean, they bend backwards. They throw off shoes. They are not me.

Get your boogie on and shuck off those ukeleles, authors!

2. Author John Green blushes and sort of crumples in half when kids tell them they’ve read Looking for Alaska‘s scene that involves a penis.

I am not spoiling here, but… I’m sure you can guess the scene. The truth is that scene has a bit of the Judy Blume phenom going for it. Kids I knew flipped to it, shared it with friends, even before or after they’ve read the whole book and I could go on for awhile about this and how it’s a very okay thing, but that would be a much longer post for later in the week. 

Also, despite a lot of lady writers asking him to dance, John Green managed to not dance. I envied him.

See, John. This is almost as steamy as your scene, and Raintree County is ancient, although steamy. 

3. It is hard to find people you know in a crowd of 900 and sometimes you just have to give it all up and hang with people you barely know. When doing this, try not to talk about the positive beauty of fleece TOO much. They will run away. 

4. Holding a beer makes dancing easier. I did not do this, but I should have. Thanks for the tip, Lisa Yee!

5. Once you tell people that you’re running off to get someone else to come dance it is REALLY REALLY hard to find those people again. Try not to worry that they think you were blowing them off and you are an evil mean girl or something.

I’m so sorry I lost you! I was busy dying inside from social anxiety.

6. Author Lisa Yee tells amazing stories. Many include peeps. Some include pee. Does there seem to be a connection?

I found this photo on Pinterest. Thank you, Pinterest!

Rock on, Little Peep. Rock on!

7. It’s okay to stand in the big grass circle by the taco makings instead of dancing because there will be other people there who aren’t drunk enough to dance either. These are some of your fellow introverts. Embrace them. Ask first though because not everyone likes embracing.

8. Even when there’s lots of room to spread out people will clump up to dance. I am not sure if this is because it is fun getting elbowed in the head or just for the hiding-your-dance-skills in a bunch of other people factor. Or maybe it’s just the hope for getting lucky is greater the closer you are to other bodies. Does anyone know? Is this an extrovert thing or an introvert thing?

9. Sometimes people can do amazing things with aluminum foil. Sometimes people can’t. This can be dangerous when the foil is used to make clothing. No. I am not posting a picture of this here. But also foil-clothing and dancing can lead to some NSFW photos of writers. Don’t enthusiastically dance if you’re only wearing aluminum-foil clothing unless you’re okay with other writers seeing body parts that are usually covered up and stuff.

10. Writer Cecil C (BEIGE) can hold while dancing:
    1. Plate of food.
    2. Eating utensil
    3. Massive funky-cool bag/purse
    4. Video camera
    All at the same time with a still-healing wrist, which obviously qualifies her for this status

 Yes, she is the dynamic force of both Wonderwoman and Superman combined! That’s super power.

And there you go. Helpful hints for when you go to a conference and there are a bunch of children’s book writers dancing.

Continue reading “When Children’s Book Writers Are Supposed To Dance Things Might Not Be Pretty”

You Are More Than The Things That Have Happened To You

So, a long time ago, I was driving the very unhappy cat Lyra to the kitty spa so that she could not be one massive, walking clump of kitty fur, I was listening to the radio and Bob and Sheri, these syndicated talk-show people.

They were talking about what your purpose is in life.

This made Lyra howl even louder, because a ‘life purpose’ talk is pretty heavy stuff for a cat at 7:55 a.m. especially when you’re in a kitty carrier.

Lyra’s Ghost: That is not while I was howling. I was howling because I was in a small, dark place; the radio was on much too loud and existential questions are dull. Your purpose in life was to feed me, that was all.

And Sheri said that her purpose in life is to make people realize that they are more than the things that have happened to them.

You Are More Than The Things That Have Happened To You.

This was way too big a wow moment for me at 7:55 a.m.

This was a big wow moment for two reasons:

1. My old book GIRL, HERO is all about this. It’s all about Liliana defining herself and taking control of who she is instead of having the horrible things that have happened to her define her. Yeah, she figures this out while writing letters to John Wayne, a dead movie star with some major issues of his own, but whatever.

2. I think that making people realize that they are more than the events in their life is really the purpose of all writing even when we (the writers) don’t realize it. 

I mean, isn’t it?

On that ancient tv show Lost, the people stranded on the island realize that they are more than survivors of a plane crash. One by one, they face demons, encounter fate and destiny, make choices that determine who their character is.

Lost Cast: Our purpose is to look sexy while running from smoke monsters and falling out of helicopters and being shot and being locked in cages meant for panda bears and standing fully dressed in water. Isn’t yours? 

Or even on, um…. The Princess Diaries. Do you all remember The Princess Diaries?

Isn’t Mia more than someone who drives a convertible in the rain and gets really wet, and totally messes up the car’s interior and everything? Isn’t she more than someone who stinks at math? Isn’t she more than someone who learns how to shoot an arrow while a really cute boy watches?

Anyway…. Yes. She is. She is more than just the events that happen to her. She is more than the bad things. She is more than the good things. 

I think we all are. Aren’t we?

I hope so, because I’d like to think that I’m not defined just by that one time my skirt fell down when I was getting out of a taxi in New York. Or that time the man in the grocery store parking lot gave me the finger. Or that time…. You get the picture, right?

And when we write stories, we want our characters to be so full and rich that they sing off the page, so we can feel them.

Lyra’s Ghost: Carrie, sometimes I am so embarrassed that you are my human. But I still love you and haunt you from the kitty grave.

Yes, she really does. Haunt me. I’m not sure about the love part. 🙂


The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 250,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s podcast about sexiness and consistency! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Lindsay Schultz, the queen of misfit toys and parenthetical hipster.

A link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce


I coach, have a class, and edit things. Find out more here. 


I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.