Imaginary Land and the Parallel Zone

The awesome Megan Crew once posted about this imaginary world she created with her friend in fifth grade. It involved unicorns and stuff. It made me wonder how many of us do this?

Confession Time

When my best friend Jackie and I were in seventh and eighth and (a-hem) ninth grades, we created two entirely imaginary worlds and the very complicated love stories that went with them. We would expand on these on the telephone every night and I’d be all, “And then Bruce looked at you in that way.”


And she’d go, “What way?”

And I’d say, “You know that way.”

The Bruce she was talking about was him:

I, however, liked this guy:

How embarrassing is that? I mean, seriously, I liked a guy with striped pants and a cucumber on his lapel. Actually, Jackie and I were so embarrassed by our secret addiction to IL and PZ (we added to the story EVERY single day) that we swore we would never EVER tell anyone we did this. 

Yep. I told. She did too though, really! 

Did you do this? Do you do it now? Did you create entire imaginary worlds with your friends?

Is this a writer thing or a people thing, do you think? 

Did yours involve going through metal detectors at Logan Airport at the EXACT same time as Bruce Springsteen and Peter Davidson (the man up there) and therefore being zapped into a parallel universe where they totally loved you and thought you were hot? 

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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First Kisses

I was thinking about first kisses. And one of my first kisses was so traumatic… Like, um, really traumatic… So, traumatic I had to put it in the third person, but here it is ….

The Story

They bumble around a bit on the boat. Their parents party a dozen slips away. They kiss long, slow, the best fifth grade kiss ever and he says, “Let’s go to the back berth and lay down like we’re married. 
 
His thumb runs over a Band-Aid on her hand. Beneath it is a gash from a fish hook that stuck there this morning when she tried to cast. 

“I don’t know what I’m doing,” she said as her dad took the hook out. 

The cut is still there, lying beneath.

 He moves his finger from the Band-Aid.

“Let’s go to the back berth.” He squeezes her hand like he did the first time they met and he’d built a sand castle and said, “I’ll be the knight and you’re the princess and I’m protecting you.”

 “Okay,” she’d said then.

 Now he wants to be the husband and she the wife in the back berth.
It seems a natural progression.

“Okay,” she says.

They get up, hand in hand. She nods at their shoes. Her mom worries about staining the maroon, velour upholstery that covers the boats back berth. Her mom worries about dirt on the carpet too and  she’d forgotten that and their shoes are still on.

“Sorry, my mom.”

“Yeah, right.”

He bends in half and unties her sneakers first like her mom used to when she was little. Back then she’d stomp her feet if it took too long. He takes too long. She doesn’t stomp. His fingers shake. Her fingers touch the top pf his blonde feathered hair.

She decides to marry him, as soon as they are of legal age

Which is what in New Hampshire? It’s thirteen with parental consent. That isn’t too long to wait.

 
He yanks off his own shoes, pulls her into the berth and they flatten themselves, stare at the fiberglass ceiling. His foot hooks around hers. His fingers sweat next to hers. They are just like grown ups, next to each other, next to each other in the night, just the same.
 

She smiles. He moves closer. Then … boom … plops his body on top of hers, weighing her down. His tongue pushes between her smiling teeth. She softens beneath him, heart pushing her on, a boy’s tongue in her mouth

Just like grown-ups.

Her hand reaches towards his hair, but the Band-Aid catches on his watch and rips off, reveals her unhealed cut, her wound.

Her knight, her husband, he doesn’t notice, just slides against he r… and then … and then …

He leaps away… groans. She’s alone on the berth in the night with her shoes off and he runs,

Hands rush to his zipper. He turns frantic, pulls on the zipper as she sits up, watching, mouth open and alone.

 He slams into the head and she creeps out of the back birth, creeps out and looks down on the floor by their shoes at the spiral of white wetness,

A spiral of something that came from him. What? Pee?

She wipes her closed lips with her fingers, steps back, stares at the closed door to the head.

A moan comes from behind it.

The cut on her hand begins to bleed and she wonders, wonders about things, what’s happened, why she’s alone, what’s on the floor, what’s happened. She wonders and wonders … just like grownups.


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, was born yesterday!

YESTERDAY!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

Grandmother’s Poems

They are words fading, written in bright blue pen. Ball point.


They are words scrawling across the page, the closer in time they are to me, the messier they become.


They are words about being new, about birds flying across the Ontario sky, the pain and guilt of losing a cat to winter and the streets of Staten Island.


They are words singing upside down and across the paper. 


My father keeps them in his roll top desk and hands them to me in the kitchen where her china sat in shelves on the wall. His hands shake as he passes another journal of words over. I take their case, brown, cracked leather. I open the binding and peer inside at their mystery.


“Your grandmother was a poet,” he says. 


I hold her words in my hands. “I never knew.”


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary. It’s a bit paranormal. It’s a bit romantic. And it’s one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019.

There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

Paragraph

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

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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




What the Hell is a Copyeditor? Um, just the sexiest person in publishing.

The sexiest person in publishing is your copyeditor. Seriously.

Okay. First things first: 

What the hell is a copyeditor? 

That’s a hard question because honestly copyeditors can’t even agree on how to spell copyeditor or copyediting. 

Grammar nerds use style guides for consistency and those guides could be Chicago (most books), AP (most newspapers), MLA (other stuff like college) and they all have slightly different rules that copyeditors and publishers follow.

Those differences are really obvious when you just look at how to spell copyeditor.

Chicago Manual makes it all one word – copyeditor.

AP makes it two words – copy editor.

WIT uses – copy-edit or copyedit 

Agh! 

But basically what copyeditors do is broken down like this: 

1. Make it conform to a style that the publishing house uses.

2. Makes sure the cross references are cool, checks things like footnotes, tables, endnotes, illustration, caption, content, etc. 

3. Edits the language, grammar, etc. 

4. Tells us writers if there is something super inconsistent in the story

5. Reminds the author that they need permission to use poems or song lyrics, etc. 

6. Sometimes checks the chapter numbers, subtitles, headings,

They are the organizational, picky geniuses of the publishing world. They are people who look for errors, remind you of the rules, the hall monitors of publishing. 

It’s hard to make that sound sexy, but damn, it’s sexy. These unsung heroes make your book look good, you look intelligent, and what’s sexier than that? 

Writing Tip of the Cast

Being sexy isn’t about having your hair down. Listen to our random thought for more on that. Being sexy is about taking all the steps to make what you create as good as it can be. What you create might be a marriage, a book, a painting, a baby. Whatever. Invest the time in it. Invest care in it. That’s damn sexy. 

Dog Tip For Life

Pay attention to people who help you better. Blow off the people who hurt you in the guise of helping. Go with your gut instead.

SHOUT OUT

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


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Patreon of Awesome

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

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

What the Hell is a Copyeditor? Um, just the sexiest person in publishing.

 
 
00:00 / 00:28:27
 
1X
 

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

Normally we talk about writing somehow, right? Because we’re a writing podcast.

But we aren’t this week.

This week, we’re talking about fashion advice for men because Carrie saw a post on The Art of Manliness that was “101 Style Tips for Men.”

First off, let’s just give a shout out that there’s a website called The Art of Manliness. That is a brilliant name.

Carrie’s favorite tip was this one:

27. Always dress like you might decide to drop by a restaurant or nightclub with a dress code.

Because you might. And even if you don’t, you might as well look like a guy who’s got plans.

The Art of Manliness

All the advice reminded us of those old 1980s, 1990s talk shows where the women would get their husbands make-overs in a super hetero-normative way and these guys would come out with this total, “Oh my gosh, I’m hot” saunter.” Or else they’d try to hide.

But it also makes us think about our fixation on fashion and appearance and buying things. If you look at that list it requires buying a lot of things. That requires money. And that’s a little frustrating.

How about “101 Feel Good Tips for Men” that are about being good people or something? How about if we spend a little more time our souls and our attitudes and our civics instead of worrying about never wearing graphic t-shirts?

Oh, wait. You can’t make money off that can you?

Dog Tip for Life

Wag your tail. That’s all the style you need.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Style isn’t something you want to copy. Style in writing is voice. And your voice? It shouldn’t be determined by a list of 101 tips on what to think and how to write and who to be. It shouldn’t be about copying other people. It should be all you. Your voice.

Just like you shouldn’t go around trying to pretend to be Tom Cruise or Bieber or Idris Elba or Russell Wong and dressing like them, you shouldn’t go around writing like J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or Naomi Shihab Nye.

Be you.

Be your own style.

And if that puts you on a How Not to Dress or How Not to Write list? Who cares.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

 
 
00:00 / 00:31:21
 
1X
 

Facing Your Fears

I make a big deal about being brave. That’s because I have a lot of anxiety about certain things:

LIST OF BIG THINGS I HAVE MAJOR ANXIETY ABOUT

  1. My voice
  2. Being in videos
  3. Showing art
  4. Dead clowns reanimating.
  5. People I love dying.

Anyway, I’m pretty open about the things that make me nervous and over on Facebook, I’ve been having Be Brave Fridays where I do something that I am uncomfortable about and encourage others to be brave, too.

So, what I’m really uncomfortable about is showing my art. That’s because of a couple things:

  1. It’s really personal
  2. I’m not trained
  3. My mother.

As I told a lovely woman that I met on Friday night, “My mom was amazing, but she had really defined notions of what our family could and couldn’t do.”

The lady said, “Oh, I get this. My mother is the same way. I get this.”

According to my Mother, If we were going to create things, it was supposed to be:

  1. Meat-based meals
  2. Babies.
  3. Writing
  4. Music.

She said to me on multiple occasions when I was little, “Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.”

But I really wanted to draw straight lines and make comics and paintings. I knew there was no point though.

None of us can draw a straight line.

I spent years and years wishing I could draw or paint. I spent years and years wishing I could make images without words.

Not an artistic bone.

When I was divorcing, I gave in and bought paint. I would stay up late into the night, painting. I had no idea what I was doing, but it was the only way I could think to get my emotions out into the world so that they wouldn’t fester inside of me.

It didn’t matter that they sucked because nobody would see them. I would paint over canvasses because I didn’t have enough money to buy more canvas. I would paint on newspaper pages (not a good idea), on the backs of old-fashioned notebooks, on anything.

Not an artistic bone in my body?

It seemed pretty true.

I became a writer and I wrote novels, but sometimes I would still get these images in my head. I would need to get them out.

So, I’d trudge down into the basement and paint.

It’s cold in the basement. The kitty litter box is in the basement. It’s easy to hide down in that basement. I hid.

Sometimes when I get stuck in a story, or can’t work out its theme, I paint.

Sometimes when I get lost inside my emotions, I paint.

A woman said to me on Friday, “You wrote all these books, too? I have never met anyone who is good at both before.”

And I laughed and was all self-disparaging and said, “You still haven’t.”

She gave me a look and said, “Oh, honey. Yes, I have.”

Oh, honey. Yes, I have.

Even writing that now? It makes me get all teary-eyed.

Painting is the places inside of me where I can’t make words work, where I can’t get things to express themselves via writing, so I have to go deeper.

There are places that are deeper than words.

It’s hard to show that to the world especially when:

  1. You haven’t been trained
  2. Nobody in your family can draw a straight line
  3. There’s not an artistic bone in your body.
  4. You live in a world where being vulnerable and authentic is often derided and scorned.

I started Be Brave Fridays because I was tired of hiding. I posted paintings even though I was positive not one single person would be kind. But people were kind and one person, Aymie Walsh (co-owner of CoeSpace in Bangor) sent me a message and asked me if I wanted to be in an Art Walk.

An Art Walk is a thing where people go from site to site and check out different artists. It all takes place during a set time period in a location like a city or downtown.

When Aymie sent me that message? I thought she might be punking me. I texted my daughter and she said, “Do it! Do it! Do it!”

My daughter is the bravest human I know. She’s faced all her fears now. She’s a field artillery officer. She went to Harvard. She’s jumped off buildings. She’s survived me being her mother.

Yes, there is a dog hanging out in the corner.

So, I said yes.

I said yes even though I kept hearing those phrases, wrapping themselves around my heart, over and over again.

Nobody in this family has an artistic bone in their body. None of us can draw a straight line.

I was an anxious wreck all last Friday. I had one of those existential life crisis moments where I didn’t know why I bothered to exist at all. I was a punk all day. I had so many fears.

So many.

Then we put up all my paintings on the beautiful white walls of CoeSpace. And something inside me shattered.

This could not be real.

I expected nobody to come. I expected people to mock me to my face. I expected to hear those same sentences only slightly twisted around.

You don’ t have an artistic bone in your body. You can’t even draw a straight line.

What are you trying to do?

Here’s the thing though. Nobody said those words to me.

But here’s the bigger thing. Even if they had said those words? They don’t get to make those words real. Only I get to make those words real. Only I get to have that power over who I am and what I want to be.

That’s something I have to learn over and over again in my life. That’s something that I have to remember and paint through because that realization? It’s a heart realization. It’s a soul realization. And it’s too big for words.

There are much better things to tell ourselves, to sing into our stories, and to bind our hearts with.

Oh, honey. Yes, you have.

Those words.

Those words made me braver. Aymie made me braver. My poor, sweet family that dealt with me all day? They made me braver.

I want you to be brave, too. Go after the person you want to be, okay? Sing out your story in the melodies that you want to hear. Become.

Become.

You can. You have. You will.

Over and over again.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Writing Tip Wednesday: Defying Jerks’ Expectations and Going After Your Dreams

A long time ago there was a woman on one of those singing competition shows and she was not what society would call good looking.

Because of her looks and age, people expected her to suck. This was also because she did some weird thing with her hips before she sang. Prior to her tryout, she said she’d always wanted to be a professional singer, to sing in front of a super big audience. People snickered.

They truly snickered.

I’m sure she could hear them.

But then she sang.

She did not suck.

People cried instead of snickering.

And I totally wanted to be her. I wanted to be the one singing and making people gasp and cry and stand on their knees all because of my voice and my talent. I wanted to be the one who defied their expectations.

Singing like that woman? That’s not a dream I’ll ever get. 

First off, I was never even in show choir. And I have never auditioned for a televised talent competition. I haven’t even done karaoke because I get super social anxiety about those things. Plus, stage fright.  

But I was in this cheesy song and dance company once.

IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING

But let me say: I was paid.

So, I think this counts as being a professional singer, right?  *clears throat* Of course, we played places like Chuck E’ Cheeses or the Masonic temple in Manchester, NH.  

I am happy to say no pizza was thrown on me during the Chuck E’ Cheese performance.

Sarah Silverman was also in the group. So was Bridget Walsh, the third national-touring ANNIE! I was totally out classed. I never had one of those big show-stopping solos. 

I also never got to perform with a dog like Bridget did in ANNIE. ;(

I don’t think I ever will perform with a dog or have a show-stopping solo.

I kind of gave up on that dream.

Other Dreams

When I was little, I dreamt that I’d find Bigfoot. I dreamt that I’d write books, change the world for better, would have art in museums.

One of my teachers told me that I’d never get any dreams because my voice was so hideous that people would never take me seriously.

My own sweet mom told me that people in our family are incapable of making art, let alone museum-worthy art.

Society told me (and keeps telling me) that you can’t make the world better.

So many dreams…

I never gave up on my dream of writing.

I am still working on that one. Someday, I want to write in a way that people sing. I want people to gasp and feel and laugh and be on that journey with me, because of my words. Even though I’ve been a New York Times bestseller, there are moments when I feel like that dream is impossible. I keep plugging along though, trying to ignore that teacher’s voice in my ear, telling me that my very essence, my voice, will make people never pay attention, take me seriously, make them snicker instead of applaud.

A lot of times I work with other writers who are so close to giving up on their dreams even though they are so talented, and have great stories and craft and it makes me so worried and it makes my heart hurt to think of them giving up.

Dreams matter. Hard work matters. Persistence matters. Your story matters.

Do you have dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you feeling unmotivated? If so think about the lady who people snickered at and how her talent made them cry. If so, you can even think about me.

I promise, I’ll be thinking about you.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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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!

ART

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You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Quick Writing Tip

Fast Writing Tip Wednesday: Let’s Talk About Tags

I’m not talking about tagging a friend or a celebrity on social media. I’m talking about dialogue tags, those helpful little buggers that show you who is speaking.

Like here:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

The dialogue tag is SHE SAID.

Here’s my First DIALOGUE Hint:

Every single dialogue line does not need a dialogue tag. Those babies can survive without them!

So, don’t do this:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think,” she said.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

All tags

That reads like a second grade book that you didn’t quite enjoy, right? Not even in second grade.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think.”

“Does it think for you? Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

Less tags

If you have two people talking you don’t ALWAYS have to tell us who said what. The paragraph indents give us that clue.

Here is my Second DIALOGUE Hint

If you add in the character action instead of the dialogue tag, it can make things zing and change meaning.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” She held the potato above her head, thrusting it towards the sky.

He took one step backwards, eyeing the spud. Someone had stuck plastic appendages and even eyes and lips into it. “What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'”

“The fruit helps you think.” She brought the potato back down to her level and kissed its bright, red lips.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong. Also, potatoes aren’t fruit.”

“We must all think for ourselves.”

Add in some action

That’s it! Two fast tips about dialogue tags. Fastest writing tips ever, right?


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


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!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 




Banish Your Inner Cop

BAR HARBOR – “I think we need to have this party on a cruise ship,” says Kae Cooney, eyes large as she lean towards a young, blonde boy. She’s a grown-up from Brewer.

Yes, and we need to invite the ghost of Elvis Presley,” says Corbin Bailey, who has just come back from his first baseball practice of the season and is bouncing on his toes, full of energy..

Yes, and we need to have peanut butter and banana sandwiches because that’s his favorite,” Amy Roeder says, nodding. She’s a grown-up, too.

Three seconds later, Roeder starts laughing. Others join in. A person walks down a hallway, peers in and smiles.

The scene inside the MDI YWCA gym isn’t an exercise in fantasy party creation for kids and adults, but a workshop to build anti-bullying and pro-listening and communication skills called, “Yes, and…”

Yes, and . . .

“We’re all working together in ‘Yes, And’ exercise to make a beautiful, fun story,” Roeder says and to do that they need to listen and respect each other’s ideas. 

For the first two minutes of shyness before the workshop starts, students and parents lurk in the corner of the gym. But Roeder and Cooney are not just workshop leaders, they’re also comedians, improv professionals who quickly meld the group together. Two minutes later the gym is full of laughter as participants share stories as they sit in a circle on the shiny, wooden floor. 

Improvisation and anti-bullying workshops might not seem like a natural fit, but for Roeder and Cooney it’s a perfect match. The women know all about dealing with difficult situations both on stage and in person and the skills of theater are perfect for helping confidence in the face of bullying. The theater techniques of improv help participants take their own confidence and power. 

Respect, Listening and Improv

Respect and listening are two of the core components of active listening and civility. Saying, ‘yes, and’ can help people learn to protect their boundaries, but also allow others to feel heard.

Respect.

Listening.

Being Heard.

They are words of civility, kindness and empathy. They are the opposite of being a bully.

Locally, the Ellsworth American’s Kate Cough reported that two parents of Ellsworth Middle School students told the school board just this March that “you have a bullying problem in your schools.” In another unrelated incident, an Ellsworth student was arrested on charges of solicitation to commit murder, a charge which was in relation to another student’s suicide. MDI High School has also had issues with civility last year.

According to a study from Yale University, those who have been bullied are somewhere between 2 to 9 times more likely to think about killing themselves than those who are not bullied. Internalizing other people’s negative thoughts about you has incredible negative conseuqeunces. One method to deal with that is to internalize kindness, empathy, and love for your self and your integrity.

 “It is my firm belief that we all as humans can do this naturally but we talk ourselves out of it,” Roeder said. 

Banish the Inner Cop

But it’s the inner critic or cop that makes us doubt who we are and also lets others bullying voices into our minds.

“We all walk around in our society with a cop in our head,” Roeder said. “You know who we’re not really good at being kind to? Ourselves.”

To be kind to ourselves, we have to allow ourselves to make mistakes, allow ourselves to have feelings, imperfections, to find the goofy in the occasional flaw, but to also listen and respect and love ourselves the way we want others to behave as well.

The problems with bullying and civility aren’t just in Ellsworth, they are across the country. Building peace and kindness, is part of Rotary International’s mission on both the local and international level.

Improvisation helps people get rid of a lot of those negative feelings and things that they waste a lot of time and energy on, Roeder explained. 

The Saturday workshops were held by the Bar Harbor (MDI) Rotary Club, thanks to support from the Rotary District 7790, Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival, and a grant from Rotary District 7790. The goal is to promote civility, active listening skills, and empathy in both adults and children. 

Resources for parents, kids, and adults who are looking to know more about bullying, listening skills and other things, can visit the Bar Harbor Rotary website and find those resources as well as a video about the event.  All of which will be uploaded soon.


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


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!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 




Writers, These Words That Should Be Dead To You

Some words are overused.

And no, I’m not talking about bae or bro or even awesome.

I’m talking about the words that just aren’t doing anything for writers and that writers are being lazy about using. I think of these words as placeholders, they hold a place for us when we’re drafting so that when we revise we can go back and make things better.

Top Five Dead Words

Good

Ex: She looked good, man.

Seriously? What does that mean? What kind of word is this? Good is a placeholder. To what degree is she looking good? How good is she looking?

Bad

Ex: He was a bad man.

Um, aren’t we all bad man, deep inside? What is it that makes him bad? What kind of bad is he? Creepy? Nasty? Wicked?

Stuff

You, know man, stuff was happening.

What? No, I don’t know! What kind of stuff? Don’t be a lazy writer.

Got

In dialogue this word works, but in your narrative? Not so much.

Ex: I got up and got the dog.

Do you mean you woke up? And then you picked up the dog? Or something? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WRITER?

Very

I swear, my high school English teacher would scream if any of us students wrote ‘very’ in a story. He would circle it 8,000 times in red pen and would say, “If you get nothing else from this class, understand this. VERY should not exist. Excommunicate it from your writing.”

Why did he despise the word so much?

It’s an intensifier meant to make the word following behind it even more powerful, but he believed that if the word needed ‘very,’ then it wasn’t a powerful enough word on its own.

Or as Florence King said, “‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.”

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


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!

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2-963x1024.jpeg

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here.