TIPS ON SURVIVING BANNED BOOKS WEEK

posted this back in 2006 when maybe fifteen people were reading my blog and I knew them all in person, I think. But I thought it might be good for this week, too.

The official Banned Books Week is Coming Up! Are you ready?

Sparty Dog Inspiration
Sparty Dog Approves These Tips



TIPS ON SURVIVING BANNED BOOKS WEEK


1. Remember, it’s okay to get ridiculously mad that people ban George by Alex Gino or Captain Underpants or Judy Blume’s Forever or Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club or The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas or anything by Carrie Jones (Okay. I added this last one in.)

2. Remember, it’s okay to think that it’s stupid for people to think kids (and adults) are so weak of mind that reading about a boy being a wizard will make them become Satan worshipers or that ready about potty mouths will make them about potty mouth and etc…

3. Wonder if you’ve ever met a satan worshiper. You know you’ve met a potty mouth.

4. Decide to google (YOUR STATE) Satan worshipers. Then decide not to, because it’s too freaky.

5. Go back to being angry about Banned Books.

6. Why do this? So you can be intelligent while you’re angry read: Kathi Appelt’s exceptional essay about the interplay of fear and banned books. If you can’t find it (Okay. I can’t right now), read someone else’s. 

7. Tell your friends about the essays you’ve read.

8. Argue with someone who thinks it’s okay to ban books. Try not to swear at them and to not go all potty mouthed. It may be hard. Try not to lose your temper. That may be harder.

9. Think about how my favorite line from Kathi Appelt’s essay is “Fear, of course, has a twin: hatred.” Then go all fan girl over Kathi Appelt.

10. Go check out the always the important and insightful American Library Association’s banned and challenged book news and information.

11. Read a banned book. Do better than that. Read three. Buy one. That’ll show them. Who is them? The book banners. That’s who.

How Do You Defy Expectations

When my super cool daughter Em, was in sixth or seventh grade she was in the newspaper for doing this logrolling day with Timber Tina at the Great Maine Lumberjack Show.

This place is where she studied logrolling all summer and is where she battled seven boys, trying to knock them off logs by fancy footwork and all that. Timber Tina (she was on Survivor for one show and then went back for a reunion show, too and is amaze-balls)is a professional world-class lumber jill. The log rolling day was in honor of her son Charlie, this absolutely amazing guy who died that same summer. He was really young, still in his teens.

The picture was hilarious because of the boys in the background staring after she’s knocked off one of their own.

That night the issue came out, Em plopped on her bed, nuzzled under the covers and said, “I can’t believe I’m in the paper.”

I smiled. “It’s great. You should be proud.”

She hugged her stuffed kitty (appropriately named Kitty Kitty) to her chest. “I bet I’m the only cheerleading logroller.”

“At least in Ellsworth, Maine,” I added. “And don’t forget you’re also a stunt girl.”

She as named Stunt Girl at a Stunt Camp in California. It’s this big stunt camp honor. The stunt camp was all about jumping off buildings and stuff. All of this mattered because when people looked at Em, they didn’t think Brave Girl or Logrolling Girl or Stunt Girl. They tended to think Smart Girl, Brilliant Girl, Very Polite Girl, Artistic Girl, Pretty Girl.

“Aren’t you going to tell me I defy stereotypes?” she asked that night, holding out her arms for a hug.

I hugged her back. “You already know.”

Why This Matters And Isn’t Just A Braggy Mom Post

And as I remember all this, thanks to some pretty good written records, I’m sort of struck by how brave Em has always been to defy the expectations of what people think small, brainy, artistic girls are going to be doing. She was a cheerleader and a log roller. She jumped off buildings. She got into Harvard and Dartmouth all on her own. No mommys and daddys buying buildings here folks. She was a field artillery officer in the Army. She studied Krav Maga in Israel, volunteered in Costa Rica, studied film for a tiny bit in high school in New York all by herself. All these random things. How cool is that?

It’s pretty damn cool.

Somehow Em usually never lets other people’s expectations define her.

I wish that we could all be that brave, that we could have the opportunity and empowerment to be that brave, that we could all become who we want to become, define ourselves instead of others or society defining us. How shiny the world would be then, wouldn’t it?

A LOT OF IT COMES FROM YOUR FAMILY

In my family, my sister was the good one. Another sibling was the handsome, successful one. I was the quirky smart one. Another sibling was the angry one.

Those labels are who we were expected to be.

But the thing is that my sister? She’s smart. She’s successful.

That angry sibling? He did some amazing things before he died. Things that make him stunningly successful in my eyes.

And I’m quirky, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the smartest of us.

But those are the expectations, the roles, the labels and those scripts our family’s right for us (both good and bad) can really stick.

How Do You Defy Expectations

Think of who you want to be.

Think of what you want to try.

Think of why you haven’t yet.

If it isn’t about money and resources and you can, give whatever it is a try. Do the thing that people don’t expect you to do (Try not to go to jail though. Legal things are usually a better choice.) and see how it feels. See how you feel.

Do people expect you to be quiet? To be loud? Do they expect you to be an activist? A peace-maker? Think of how you can be the opposite of expectations if you feel like those expectations are holding you back. The first step is to imagine being what it is that YOU want to be, not what your teachers, family, friends, coworkers, employees, bosses want you to be. YOU.

Is there something you always wanted to do, to be, and people scoffed. Show them how wrong they are. Blow their minds. Blow your own mind, too.

Continue reading “How Do You Defy Expectations”

Flour Tattoos and Hyperbole is the Biggest Danger in the World (That’s Hyperbole right there)

Flour Tattoos and Hyperbole is the Biggest Danger in the World (That’s Hyperbole right there)

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:43
 
1X
 

So, this woman, Aileen Weintraub on the Huffington Post, has an article that’s headline is, “I’m a Grown Woman and I Still Sleep with a Stuffed Animal.”

“George is my deep, dark secret, and I’m sharing our story now in the time of COVID-19 because many of us are quietly struggling.”

Aileen Weintraub

And the article is sweet and lovely, and poor Aileen had COVID-19 and was terribly sick and was even more stressed because George, her stuffed dog has been with her for thirty years and she didn’t know if her stuffed animal would be able to go with her if she had to come to the hospital.

And she was ashamed because stuffed animals are allegedly “transitional objects.”

She wrote,

“I love my family, but this little hound doesn’t take up much room and he doesn’t shift the sheets. I don’t have to explain myself to him. He doesn’t ask questions and he’s always there, a personal touchstone I can depend on. George doesn’t judge. He never complains and I never have to cook for him. He never rummages through the fridge and tells me there is no food in the house. He doesn’t leave towels on the floor. He doesn’t bark while I’m on a conference call. George gets me.

“When I was quarantined for 16 days as the coronavirus ravaged my body, no one in my family could touch me. I communicated with them via text or through a closed door. But George was there. He is so quiet that it would be easy to forget him. I never do.

“George is my deep dark secret, and I’m sharing our story now in the time of COVID-19 because no matter how strong, confident or successful a person may appear, the truth is that many of us are quietly struggling. When everything seems hopeless, when it looks like we will never get out of the hellfire that is 2020, perhaps it’s OK to admit to finding softness and comfort from something as simple and familiar as an old threadbare stuffy.”

Aileen Weintraub

God bless this lady because if George, the stuffed animal in her bed, is her deep dark secret? What a nice life she’s had.

What Is Hyperbole?

Hyperbole is basically defined as an exaggeration that people use to emphasize an effect. It’s extravagant. It’s bullshit. It comes from the Greek word for “excess.”

I’m not sure if this ‘deep dark secret’ is hyperbole, but it sure feels like one.

And the problem with hyperbole? Is that it’s not truth. It’s inauthentic. It’s the tool of politicians and apparently op-ed writers and we’re all freaking too used to it. We don’t examine the extravagant claims of influencers, writers. Headlines and tweets and speeches and email subject lines are full of them.

 In writing fiction especially, hyperbole can be a brilliant tool. Listen to this Monty Python bit about being completely not rich.

You were lucky. We lived for three months in a brown paper bag in a septic tank. We used to have to get up at six o’clock in the morning, clean the bag, eat a crust of stale bread, go to work down mill for 14 hours a day and when we got home, our Dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!​

Monty Python people

The Problem

Writers, you can use hyperbole but don’t use it in your nonfiction. Even Aristotle was anti-hyperbole saying it was amateur and childlike and that it was the tool of bad, angry politicians.

Why is it bad?

It’s bad because it’s used to manipulate us and our emotions. It makes normal things suddenly feel over the top, excessive, the deepest and darkest of secrets or the most terrifying moments of existence. It’s when someone yells at you for your opinion or your actions and you call it an ‘attack’ in which you are in fear of your life. It’s when you’re pushing for your agenda and twisting truth so that you can be the savior or the victim and it is dangerous AF.

And it’s normal now. We’re used to seeing the exaggeration of truths becoming lies. No, that article is not going to make you instantly a best selling book writer or super fit in three fast weeks. No, that politician isn’t going to save your country. No, that person with an opinion different than yours does not deserve to die.

Hyperbole pulls us away from the truth. In the excess and exaggeration often comes an otherness, an us versus them mentality that prevents us from finding truths, middle roads, and we become so engrossed in it that we see a story about a woman’s deepest, darkest secret being about sleeping with her stuffed animal and we believe it.

We’ve got to return to truth, to discourse, to authenticity.

And we have to do it before it’s too late before that extremism is the norm, exaggeration is the defacto position for all of us, before we forget what truth even is.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Write truth. Write things that resonate. Hyperbole is a great tool, but it shouldn’t be your go-t0 response.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t hyperbolize the simple stuff.

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.

Continue reading “Flour Tattoos and Hyperbole is the Biggest Danger in the World (That’s Hyperbole right there)”

Five Writing Quotes To Make You Feel Better About Things

Five Writing Quotes To Make You Feel Better About Things

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:43
 
1X
 

Carrie is a bit burnt out this week so we decided to take a fast look at the advice and quotes that writers give to each other.

Quote #1

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

Mr. King has strong feelings about adverbs. He has strong feelings about a lot of things. Just because a successful man has strong feelings about things doesn’t mean he’s correct.

Quote #2

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”
—Allegra Goodman

This is just here because it has the word ‘fetish’ in it, but the truth of it is pretty obvious. Don’t write because you want to be John Steinbeck or God or Toni Morrison. Write because you want to be you.

Quote #3

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

Many agents, editors, readers and critics would disagree with Doris.

Quote #4 A and B

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

“I don’t know about lying for novelists. I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.” – Maya Angelou

These are my favorite quotes about writing ever. Writing is about being understood and communicating truths that go straight inside of the reader and helps them see their truths, too, truths and connections.

Quote 5

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

― Lisa See

Like any craft, when you read other people’s stories, it helps you see how to construct your own.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Advice can be take it or leave it, but try to remember to be yourself.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You can learn a lot about your craft by seeing other dogs’ techniques. Don’t be afraid to be learned.

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.

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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 252,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode about poop, dentists, surgery, flavored alcohol and Jung. 

This week’s episode about generalizations and what men want. 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Jessica Burkhart! 

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

What Are These Terrifying Beasts Called Pass Proofs?

So, when you publish traditionally you get this thing called First Pass Proofs.

What are these diabolical little things? Well, to understand that we have to take a tiny jaunt into the copyediting and proofreading world. Grab some snacks!


A Pass

This is when you go through your story and look for all the typos and mistakes and consistency errors. and redundancies.

The Proof

It’s a verb and it’s a noun. You can say “I’m proofing this” when you are proofreading.

But also, when you get your beautiful story manuscript after the copyeditor, proofreader, regular editor, editorial assistant and King Kong have all gone through it, you have pages called a pass proof. This is what your story looks like before it goes to publication. You are to read it all and see if anyone missed anything.


The Fear

I am afraid of pass proofs. 

But they are still super cool.

Why am I afraid of them?


Well, they come after the copy edits, so even if you suddenly realize that having your main character fall in love with a bottle of ALL NATURAL SNAPPLE ICED TEA was important to the plot of the book, you can not magically make this happen now. It is too late!!!!

SnappleIs it ever really too late to make SNAPPLE an important plot choice/love interest? I doubt it. 

Yes, Snapple! It is too late. 

Why is it too late?

Well, the first pass proofs are really what the book is going to look like on the page. It’s sort of all set and ready to go. 

And that’s scary. Your book baby is ready to go off into the world of anonymous reviews and bookstore shelves, and there is nothing you can do now to toughen her up, make her street smart. She is out there on her own very very soon and you just have to pray she won’t be a train wreck and become the kind of book that the paparazzi take pictures of because she’s always forgetting to wear her underwear when she gets out of cars. 

Continue reading “What Are These Terrifying Beasts Called Pass Proofs?”

Random Thursday Things

So today is a bit of a random Thursday update. I hope you don’t mind.

I AM A GUEST ON A PODCAST THAT IS NOT MY PODCAST!

The lovely Sara Crawford has interviewed me for her podcast, Creative Expressions.

I talk about the second-grade haiku that changed my life, the importance of art, and other fun things about writing and painting and existing. Plus, Sara’s super cool so you should check it out.


NIGHTMARE!

I rarely have nightmares. I dream all the time though. 

Last night?

I had the best nightmare.

I am asleep. Something evil, something female is in the room. It is definitely not a male presence. I try to figure out how to hide on the bed if the pillows will confuse her about where my body is in case she attacks. She tugs on the covers but I’m holding them down. “I’m asleep,” I think. I decide to whisper, “This is not happening.” She whispers back, “This IS happening.” And stabs me in the chest. I scream. 

Apparently, according to Shaun, it was the most terrifying scream he’s ever heard in his whole life. 

The thing is? I know I transitioned from sleep to waking when I was screaming, but I can’t remember the sound at all. It was like I opened up, gave it all I got and nothing came out.


I AM WRITING THEATER

The amazing Penobscot Theatre Company had to suspend it’s normal season because of Covid-19 and I’ve been asked to write a creepy short story about Bucksport, Maine.

The draft is done.

It is creepy.

It gave me a nightmare last night I think or maybe that was…


PICKLES

We pickled like pickling freaks. Honest to God, I’m sure my mother is rolling over in her grave and gasping, “Who even are you, Carrie?”

But check it out!

You can see I was a bit overwhelmed by cutting 8 million onions and had to resort to hiding behind a dish towel and not stabbing my eyes out. And the dogs? They were so into it.


MY BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (TEACHING RELATED)

I’m about to offer a quick course on Teachable all about the scene. And it’s so much fun and I am so nervous/excited/stoked about it. I hope you’ll check it out in September when it’s live. It will be super cheap because I want to make it accessible. My bank account is mad about that but whatever….


MY OTHER BIG ANNOUNCEMENT (BOOK RELATED)

The follow-up to IN THE WOODS with Steve Wedel is almost done and so scary and it should be out before the end of this year!

AND… I am going to offer a little novella just on Amazon next month. It’s called FAITH.

AND… I am working on a haunted campground story and it’s super creepy and fun. Sort of like Charlaine Harris books (TRUE BLOOD) but in a campground and without Sookie.

AND…I am working on some other still-secret things. Well, they are secret unless you listen to Sara’s podcast.

Continue reading “Random Thursday Things”

Writers and Dealing With Anxiety Part Two

On Monday, I posted part one of this two-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


FIND A DOG AND A TREE

Every morning, my dog Gus and I go under the tree in the front yard for about an hour. I bring a radio and a towel for Gus and a chair for me. He crunches on dog biscuits and I work on something–maybe a short story, maybe transcribing / formatting work that’s reverted to me, maybe do some edits, maybe play with some outlining or idea generation. There’s something about it–being there with him, not checking Twitter, not doing emails, in the peace of the morning that’s really helped me lately.

Holly Schindler

Go All Nike

Just sit down and begin. Sone days it works, other days, well…

Liz Jones

Switching It Up

Writing by hand in a notebook feels less “official” to me and helps me move past some of the doubt and anxiety.

Sarah Yasutake

Brain Dump with a Side of Wonderbook

I sometimes start a new document and brain dump. If it has to do with a piece I’m working on, cool, If not that’s okay!! I have the writing book Wonderbook and it some amazing images, tips, essays from writers on their speciality and genre. It really helped me with my anxiety when I was in workshop classes at UMaine because I was so vulnerable for the first time with my writing with other writers, let them know it’s okay to be anxious and scared. That’s honestly where my best stuff comes from. I just dive in what I’m feeling and go with it and see where it takes me! But HIGHLY recommend Wonderbook, I rented it for a class but ended up buying it because I use it almost every time I write!

Callaghan Carter

The Quiet Place

Just finding a quiet space without interruption is what I find I need these days. A glass of wine or a cup of herbal tea while writing helps me as well. But like you said, just sitting down and doing it is the first step. That’s the hardest part for me.

Brittani Gallegos

There! I hope these helped a bit. I have more, too, so let me know if you’d like me to post them and make a part three. But try to remember that you don’t have to be perfect and that you have as much a right to write your story, your book, your blog, as everyone else out there does.

You’ve got this.

Continue reading “Writers and Dealing With Anxiety Part Two”

GROWING UP WITH GRIT A BONUS PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHANTAL WATTS

GROWING UP WITH GRIT A BONUS PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHANTAL WATTS

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:39
 
1X
 

Award-winning news producer, blogger, podcaster, human, Chantal Watts is a bit of a force and she joins us on the podcast today and talks about her growing up, which reminds me so much of Jared Leto, and also how to be gritty and strong.

She’s amazing and I hope you’ll check it out.

Chantal’s Links of Awesome.

Chantal’s Instagram

Full Frontal Nerdity!


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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 251,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


This week’s episode about poop, dentists, surgery, flavored alcohol and Jung.

LAST WEEK’S EPISODE about slug bait, sages and archetypes. 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Jessica Burkhart! 

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


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.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME- THE PLACES WE HIDE

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.

Imposter Syndrome and Best Night Ever. Writing a Book with Six Other Authors. A bonus podcast with Ronni Arno

Imposter Syndrome and Best Night Ever. Writing a Book with Six Other Authors. A bonus podcast with Ronni Arno

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:00
 
1X
 

Hey! Welcome to a bonus interview episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the usually quirky podcast that gives writing tips and life tips.

I’m Carrie Jones and with me today is author and Mainer Ronni Arno. 

Ronni!

Ronni is a MG and YA novelist who thinks cool and her deubt novel RUBY REINVENTED. She likes to kayak, has adorable rescue dogs, and was actually born in Brooklyn, but has somehow become an absolute New Englander. A morning person who likes fuzzy socks, help us welcome her to Dogs are Smarter Than People.

In this podcast, Ronni talks about a ton of helpful things including imposter syndrome and what it’s like to write a book with six other people.

Check out the interview, like and subscribe, but also check out Ronni’s books and super cool website and spread the love!


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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 244,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode link! It’s about dirty feet and archetypes. Sexy! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with writer Holly Schindler!

This week’s link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce

This week’s link to Ronni’s interview.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME- THE PLACES WE HIDE

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.


A NEW SESSION OF WRITE! SUBMIT! SUPPORT!


Write. Submit. Support. for Novelists with Carrie Jones ONLINE

 These six-month courses offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions. We offer support whether you’re submitting to agents or, if agented, you’re weathering submissions to editors. We discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, the feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more.
Why Write. Submit. Support.?
It’s worth the money.

 “WSS was worth the financial investment. It helped me prioritize my writing as I sought to prioritize my bank account. When I chose to skip going out to dinner etc., I would remind myself that I was in hot dream pursuit and, maybe, take that time to write. I found that the investment of money helped me get on track with my writing goals and to the next level on my professional path.” -Rebekah Manley, past WSS Attendee
Write. Submit. Support. Mission: To empower writers,  pre-published or published, as well as the instructor, to embrace the many joys and challenges of leading a literary life. Scholarship opportunities available!Read more about the history and philosophy of Write. Submit. Support!
You’ll gain a like-minded community of writers. 

 “WSS has helped me keep going when all the scary, new parts of the process to publication came about. The community of other writers going through similar or different circumstances is priceless, so is the leadership. I’ve had my many, many questions answered and incredible support as I’ve gone through WSS. It has definitely been worth the investment when you’re fully committed to your writing and where it could lead. My money couldn’t have been spent better than following the dream I’ve had since forever.” -Gloria Amescua, past WSS Attendee

Success Stories come out of the connections made in WSS.

 “I understand that not everyone has buckets of money to put toward workshops and courses, but when I think about my times in WSS I always consider the results: the fact that I received a book deal, with an actual advance, less than a year later…WOW! I understand that not everyone cares about that kind of result, but I did and I achieved it. Carrie, my WSS instructor, understood my goal and gave me a lot of practical help and advice, right down to how to format the manuscript for submission.” -Cathy Carr, now agented with Rachel Orr and 365 Days to Alaska forthcoming with Abrams  
Attend our FREE Info + Inspiration Session
Find out if WSS is right for you at this FREE WEBINAR on Thursday July 23rd, from 7-8:30pm CDT.Founder Bethany Hegedus will share an inspiring talk on the literary life and will be joined by WSS instructors/TA’s, plus past and present WSS writers who will answer all your burning questions!

This is a great opportunity to meet this session’s faculty, talk with previous students about their growth throughout the program and participate in some inspirational activities led by Bethany Hegedus. *If you cannot attend live, no need to worry! All registrants will receive a video playback of the event!
Register Now!

Half Blind, Half Seeing. Powerful and Powerless.

One of my first memories is of darkness, of feeling my way around our textured couch, and not being able to see. Of patches over my eyes and how the tape that held them there itched, but I couldn’t figure out how to get them off.

I was basically a baby and had an eye surgery. According to my mom, when I was born the doctors thought I was blind. They were wrong. And eventually I had an operation and glasses and now my right eye works pretty well. My left? That’s another story.

It seems impossible for me to remember that, being just a bit over one year old, firmly rooted in darkness and itchiness and yearning for light, and the mind is a funny thing, but I remember feeling powerless.

Another memory that came soon after that is of heroes and fire, of a boom outside, Mom screaming into the red phone on our wall and Dad rushing down our driveway’s long hill to see a truck in flames, one of his firefighter friends. He died there in the truck.

Mom and I waited, looking out the picture window at the orange and black flames leaping behind the trees that made a boundary between the road and our property. The firetrucks came. The volunteers came. And then Dad came back up the hill, much later, crying. He couldn’t save him.

Powerless.

I was maybe between three and five because my parents were still married. But my older sister was gone to be married whatever that meant. Then my older brother was gone to college and the house was quiet and dark even when my parents blazed at each other. And then my dad was gone too.

The nest of my family at my little brown house that my dad built decades before I came around had been stripped clean of everyone except Mom and me and I felt powerless to stop it.

The memories of people laughing and fighting of teenagers coming over were gone, just memory flickerings and ghost whispers.

And I grew up and along the way I realized that so often we are powerless to rumors, haters, trolls, systems meant to keep us in check and by the own negative scripts we hear in our brains about how we aren’t enough. We aren’t good enough, strong enough, woke enough yet. We aren’t awake. We aren’t talented. We aren’t… We aren’t.. We aren’t powerful.

But that’s not all we are.

The sparks of insecurity, hate, anger, jealously, rage, anxiety? We don’t have to let them turn into flames and burn ourselves down. But if we do? Then we need to rise up, rise up too, like a phoenix or whatever damn mythological creature you want to be. Sometimes it feels like just to be human is to be myth. Who are we? Do we float up after the fires, curl and moving skywards? Do we sweep our ashes up off the floor?

To be powerful is to understand that we are not all-powerful, all-knowing. To be powerful is to seek truths beyond our own. To be powerful is to watch and wonder and learn and to sometimes be quiet and to sometimes speak up. It’s to know that our place isn’t always with the burning truck. It’s to know that people leave but you can find new people. It’s to wander into your home, your dark home, and find your way around the couch safely.

Powerless.

Powerful.

Power-full.

We are all the myths that are humans, the reality of our own makings and it’s time to make those realities, those myths, those stories — all of it — into good ones.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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 241,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode link! It’s about dirty feet and archetypes. Sexy!

Last week’s bonus podcast with writer Holly Schindler!


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME- THE PLACES WE HIDE

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.