How to Conquer Writer’s Block in the Time of CoVid-19

How to Conquer Writer’s Block in the Time of CoVid-19

 
 
00:00 / 00:19:02
 
1X
 

So normally Carrie writes the podcast part of the podcast and this week she had no idea what to write. Should she write about Covid-19 and try to help people with things to do during their lock downs and times of social distancing? Should she totally ignore that and we go the other route with a happy, fun, dorky and totally non-informative episode? Should she cry? 

It turns out that Carrie was thinking too much and giving herself writer’s block. Writer’s block is something Carrie never gets. So, she had to overcome it, right?

So here are some quick steps to overcoming writer’s block in the time of Covid-19.

  1. Go for a walk if you can go for a walk without coming into contact with anyone else going for a walk.
  2. Eliminate distractions. If there are other kids in the house or cats, lock them out of the room so you can focus. 
  3. Read a book.
  4. Write something that isn’t what you’re pressured to write. 
  5. Set a timer and tell yourself that you only have 15 minutes to write so you better hurry up. 
  6. Disconnect your Wi-Fi. 
  7. Close your eyes and listen to a song that you’ve never listened to before. Then open your eyes and write. 
  8. Do a Graham Greene (old British author) and keep a dream journal. Every morning write what you’ve dreamt. This will come in handy some day and it counts as writing. 
  9. Visualize scenes in your story without writing. Just sit and try to daydream. Can you do it? 
  10. Allow yourself to make mistakes, jump around to scenes you can see. Writing does not have to be linear when you draft. 

Back in 2016, Maria Konnikova wrote “How to Beat Writer’s Block” for the New Yorker, which touches on the research into writer’s block and it’s pretty interesting.

And way back in the 1950s, a man named Bergler wrote “Does Writer’s Block Exist?,” which was published in American Imago. Bergler said a writer “unconsciously tries to solve his inner problems via the sublimatory medium of writing.” A writer wasn’t lazy or bored. They hadn’t used up their muse and ideas. They just needed therapy. Later psychiatrists learned through studies that most writers blocked for three months or more were indeed unhappy. Was this correlative and how did the causation factors work?

I can’t find that, but what they did determine was that these unhappy writers seemed to be one of four blocked groups: 

  1. Anxious and Stressed Out Authors – Writing no longer gave joy because of emotional distress. They’re are the ‘nothing is good enough’ authors. 
  2. Irritate AF Authors  – They were lashing out at others. These are the ‘I don’t want to be compared to others’ authors.’ 
  3. Whatever Authors – Apathy rules and they figure there is no point. These are the no daydreams, rules are mean and constricts my creativity’ authors. 
  4. I Am So Freaking Mad Authors – They aren’t sad. They’re really sick of it all and they are so angry and hostile. These are the ‘I am getting no attention’ authors.

I (Carrie) just was teaching an online class to some writers and admitted that I don’t daydream anymore, which is a big deal for me because I used to daydream all the time. A lack of daydreaming is a symptom of a writer who is blocked. 

            Other symptoms Of Writer’s Block: 

  1. Less able to form images in their brains
  2. Images they do form are more vague than in the past
  3. Less ambition
  4. Less joy
  5. Less creativity

So work on creatively visualizing different things in your book and your life. Imagine what your character eats, what’s happening at the grocery story right now, the best kiss ever. Reawaken your creativity in ways that don’t involve judgement – yours or anyone else’s. 

Writing Tip of the Pod: 

Turn the wi-fi back on and look up some creative visualizations for authors. Check out the steps we mentioned earlier. You’ve got this. 

Dog Tip for Life:

Go with the flow, man. 

Writing Tip for the Week:

Imagine your main character is in a Nashville bar the night before the world ends. What music is playing? What does it smell like? How is your character reacting?

WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

This week’s episode’s link.

Last week’s episode’s link.

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.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

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How to Make Your Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Two

I am still chugging along trying to get my draft done so that I can get to the fun stuff:

No, not drowning my sorrows in Sanka.

No, not learning the fine art of belly dancing.

I’m talking about revisions. Yes! I think that’s the fun stuff! I know! I know! Wild!

Check your scenes

Sometimes we have scenes that don’t fit.  And those scenes have to go.

Yes, you may want to have an especially poignant scene in your sci-fi thriller where Douglas, the hamster, gets out of his cage and is trapped in the minivan beneath the cushions. But does it really fit in a futuristic fable? 

“A scene should reveal something about the character, advance the plot in a significant way, provide insight into the ‘theme,’ or, as Eurdora Welty suggested, do all three,”   James Plath says. 

Too little? Your story feels like a writing exercise.


Too many? Your story is lost in a lot of moments and more moments and all the oomph of your story is gone. 

Think About How the Story is Framed.

This is the set-up. Think about THE COLOR PURPLE or Jay Asher’s 13 REASONS WHY. Brilliantly done. 

Don’t Forget That We Have More Than Eyes


Readers can smell and feel and taste, too. Make them do that in your story. Make your story a world that isn’t just visual. 

Think about Place


We’ve had a lot of posts about place here at the Tollbooth. 

Plath says, “Many stories exist in a vacuum, where lines are spoken without any description of an interior or exterior settling. That’s like going to the theater and having the house lights never come on …..”

These revision tips this week are all originally from James Plath’s article “Twenty-one Tweaks to a Better Tale,” which was published in THE COMPLETE BOOK OF NOVEL WRITING, Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinatti, Ohio, Edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the Editors of Writer’s Digest.

Part One of these Tips is Here!


WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

How to Make a Good Book Better

I am currently being whipped down into one of Dante’s lower circles of hell due to:

  • 1. My deadline crunch on a million things.
  • 2. My dog who has decided that something evil is in the lot behind our house and she must press her body into mine at all times in order to keep me safe. She simultaneously barks while doing this. It is making writing a little – um – difficult? Have I mentioned that she’s a large dog? 
I love my people. I protect them with my furry charm and big bark.

Here are some things I (should) think about when I’m revising. Hopefully, they’ll help you out, too.


I’ve taken them from James Plath’s article “Twenty-One Tweaks to a Better Tale.” 

1. Does the beginning need to be an ending?



Sometimes our beginnings stink. 

Beginnings need to be:
powerful
witty
stunning

This could be a powerful piece of dialogue, a witty description or a stunning scene. 

Sometimes we writers have to amp up, sort of rev our engines before we start the race of the story. 

My engine is revving. Shh…..


Side note: Some of us never get started.

It’s okay to cross entire paragraphs or a chapter out. 

2. Check Out How It Ends



Just like a beginning needs to be powerful or witty or stunning to draw us in like a really good appetizer, the ending has to linger (not in the way heartburn lingers). The ending has to resonate.

Is there a way to echo earlier images or words or a phrase so that it has that extra kick, making the reader realize that there are deeper things going on, that there is a deeper meaning, that this story or poem somehow touches on the truth that is life. 


3. Make Love to the Image

Have an image that resonates throughout the story. In the movie, Brokeback Mountain, it’s when one guy is hugging the other guy from behind him or it’s when he says, “I wish I knew how to quit you.” 

Think about a book like Carolyn Coman’s MANY STONES or THE HOBBIT or CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS. There are central images in there. Do that. Use an image. A strong image will keep your story in readers’ memories. 

4. Is the right person telling the tale?


I mean, I have often written gothic murder love stories from the point of view of Barney the Dinosaur, but it never seems to work. Have you had this problem too? 

Do not be afraid to switch that tale teller to Baby Bop.

I giggle! I am Baby Bop! 

5. Is your narrator talking to him/herself too much?


My former teacher and amazing writer-man Tim Wynne Jones once yelled at me (via email and in a lovely way) because I stopped a fight scene to have the narrator look at her Snoopy shoes. 

Dude. That is just not cool. 


Don’t have the character talk too much internally, but don’t have them not talk at ALL internally because then they are just robotic or perhaps a little shallow.

Nobody wants to read a whole novel from Barney’s point-of -view. It is not super-dee-duper. 


So get some internal monologue in there. 

Everything is super-dee-duper, writers! If a purple dino can dance and have his own tv show then you can revise! 

6. Do you have enough people in your story? Too many? 


I once wrote a story with three characters in it. It even actually won an award, which had actual money attached to it, but it did not get published.

Of course, my agent hasn’t submitted it, but that’s probably because it’s soooooooooo thin. A story with too few characters is like going out to dinner and only getting a cracker. It is not satisfying usually unless it’s a really big, yummy, super-cool cracker.

It’s the same thing with too many characters. I am one of those people who are easily confused. If there are twenty character names in the first two paragraphs I pretty much give up on the book.

Get rid of those unnecessary characters. 

It’s all about me! And my core group of friends! Sometimes you have to trim those expendables. That’s why they call them expendable. They are totally expendable. 

WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.


I HAVE A NEW BOOK! 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Don’t Be a Punk. Coronavirus and People Being Liars

Don’t Be a Punk. Coronavirus and People Being Liars

 
 
00:00 / 00:19:01
 
1X
 

If you’re going to write or communicate, it’s really cool to know what you’re writing or talking about.

What? I know, right? Mind blown.

It should be self-evident, but sadly it seems that this is not self evident.

Here’s the thing. You think that you know everything until you realize that you don’t half as much as you thought you did. We live in a time period where everyone is yelling, ‘fake facts,’ and ‘false news’ and ‘liar.’ We live in a time period that’s amazing because so many of us have things like indoor plumbing, internet access, prescriptions, food. But we also live in a time where people think they are omniscient.

None of us are omniscient. We all see things from our own perspectives built upon by our culture and our experiences. Yet, some people think that they know everything and lay down these edicts about what the right way to vote, to write, to think, to create, to live is.

But these same people don’t know the difference between unfazed and unphased. Don’t be one of those people.

When you write, when you live, when you troll people on social media? Check your words and your facts. It makes your argument and your story and your opinion so much stronger when you can spell things correctly or when you have stats to back up your arguments.

And there is nothing bad about realizing that you’re wrong, about growing as a human in your thoughts. Evolving is a good thing. We promise.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

It’s okay to break the rules, but know the rules you’re breaking. Study your craft before you start telling people there is only one right way to do things.

Dog Tip for Life:

Know what you’re barking at, man. Don’t call a blowing bag a squirrel.

Free Write for Your Story:

Write about a character who thinks that he/she/they know everything about something but they are terribly wrong.

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.

This week’s episode’s link.

Note: We hunt for ghosts and talk about douchebags in our random thoughts, which are not transcribed here. 


WHERE TO FIND US

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.

This week’s episode link. 

NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.


WRITING NEWS!

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.

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 


As writers, how do we give kids hope?

As I struggle to finish the first draft of my new novel before my April 1 deadline, I can’t stop thinking about hope and suffering and how it relates to children’s novels and us as writers. 

Because, seriously, as writers how do we determine how much suffering children can bear to see. Do we want them to see it? 

This is me back when I was a little kid. I hadn’t read THE LORD OF THE RINGS yet. I think you can tell. Please ignore the vest. *cringe* Also, please ignore the uneven bangs. We couldn’t afford hairdressers.

A mother I know had three teens. She thought her youngest, a high school freshman, didn’t know that rape exists. She asked me for books to recommend to her daughter but wanted them to be pure and good. Only pure and good.

I know this kid. Believe me, she knew that rape existed when she was eleven. She knew that sex (in lots of forms) existed. She’d talked about it when she slept over my house and hung out with my daughter. 

But her mom wanted to protect her, keep her from suffering, keep her innocent. 

 This is the Emster. At this point in her life, she has read LORD OF THE RINGS and ANIMAL FARM here, but she hasn’t read SPEAK yet. Can you tell? 

Sometimes a parent will tell me that there are no hate crimes in high schools; yet in a 2007 GLSEN survey 86.2 % of LGBT students reported they were verbally harrassed, 44.1% said they were physically harassed and 22.1 % said they were assaulted. 

This was at school.
This was because of their sexual orientation.

This is Joe, my high school boyfriend and me after the prom. We dated for three years. Everyone thought we would get married. It was that kind of thing. Joe was gay. He is gay. He never told anyone until college. He couldn’t tell and survive. Not then. Even now it’s hard. But back then there were no books for him or for me (the girlfriend of a gay guy). There were no stories of our suffering, no written words that paralleled our lives and would help make us strong.

And those statistics I quoted up there? That’s just suffering kids endure because of sexual orientation. I’m not talking about gender or race or religion or disabilities or even political views. 

And my question is;  As writers, how do we give kids hope?
And my question is:  As writers, how do we show the hellmouth of the world, what Nietzsche called the “innumerable shouts of pleasure and woe” without pushing teens and children into despair? 
And my question is: How can our characters’ suffering give readers hope? 
And my question is: How can we make sure that kids like Joe or me or Em’s friend have the stories that they need to survive?

Because our books are the books they read first; the books that inform them; the books that show through story how they will survive the next 70-80-90 (hopefully) years of the joy and suffering we call life. 

Is it our responsibility as purveyors of craft to think about these things? Or is it just about writing a story? Hopefully, getting said story published and then hopefully seeing that story get five-star reviews and lots of face-out shelf time at the book store. 

E.B. White said, “All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open.” 

So, what is it we want to reveal to the kids who read our books? What is it that we want to reveal to ourselves? 

Man, is it any wonder I’m having a hard time getting this draft done?  Sigh.


WRITING AND PODCAST NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.


I have a new book!

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

Continue reading “As writers, how do we give kids hope?”

The Inspiration Behind My Book & What I Learned About Myself Publishing It

I learned a lot about who I was when I wrote this book. I’m not talking about who people think I am, but the actual me.

That’s because I did this book all by myself. I never do things all by myself especially not books. I write them. I have a team at publishing houses who tweak and market and create covers.

Not this time. This time I didn’t even show the story to anyone else. Not my agent. Not an editor. It was all me on my own.

And I learned that this is scary because there is nobody else to take responsibility if things go wrong.

And I learned I liked that.

What Inspired Me To Write It?

I wanted to step outside my own walls and do something that felt scary and vulnerable. This book felt scary and vulnerable. Why? Well, here is why.

Bad Guys Built on Real People

You know how sometimes people seem to be super nice and friendly and lovely. But then you see the mask drop? All of a sudden something shifts in their eyes and you think, “Holy crud muffins. This person could be a serial killer!”

There is a person in my town like that.

Actually, there are a couple of people in my town like that. When their mask drops and you see their true self, it makes you gasp.

The bad guys in this story are some of those people significantly tweaked and mashed-up together to create characters that are real, vibrant, and creepy.

Wanting to Mix Genres

When I wrote THE PLACES WE HIDE, I wanted to have some of the standard conventions of romance and thrillers, but give it that first-person-raw feel.

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

Wanting to Write Good Women Based On Real People

I also based a lot of the women in my story on women like me and my friends – quirky, struggling, real, persistent.

I wanted Rosie and her friends to feel like the moms you actually meet in coastal Maine.

Romance NEEDS

I like love. I like it when people find each other. What can I say?

I wanted to write a story like that.

High Stakes

I can’t help myself. If I’m not writing literary fiction, I tend to write about alien invasions and pixie apocalypses. I wanted to challenge myself to write a realistic story with truly high stakes.

What I Learned

I love writing kids books, but this was so much fun. And it was also really fun to step outside of traditional publishing, which I also love, and do it all myself. It helps me understand what my clients and author-friends who choose self-publishing go through. There’s so much responsibility and control that happens. It’s really a great adventure.

I learned that self-publishing is hard, but freeing. You don’t have to listen to other people helping you make your story better. You don’t have the safety net of the publisher. It’s just you out there – raw and vulnerable.

I learned that self-publishing is addictive. My aunt Athalie died this November. She was really glamorous and lived in California (We were in N.H.) and she was married to a celebrity dentist and then an Oscar-winning art director. She was an artist and believed in reincarnation. All of this was a very big deal to three-year-old Carrie.

She stared at me once as I was doing laps around our living room buck naked and announced loudly, “Carrie is an exhibitionist. Look at all that energy just flow right out of her. Wow.”

Nobody in my family has ever thought I was an exhibitionist. I was (and am) the person who sits on floors instead of chairs so that I can watch everyone else. I hide behind the camera and take pictures of others. I am a writer, for Pete’s sake.

Here’s the thing: Athalie was right.

Self-publishing pushes me towards that exhibitionist side. By marketing everything myself, by having the book be just my voice and my story, I show more of who I am to the world. And I’m okay with that. It’s scary, but all the good things are.

Truth Bomb

It’s really scary sometimes to put your work out there, or to just be who you are – the real you – unpolished sometimes, dorky, self-righteous, befuddled, passionate, fangirly, angry, sad, anxious you.

But it’s so much easier than living a life of pretending and of lies.

Authenticity is brave and vulnerable, yes, but it’s also pretty damn empowering to just exhibit who the heck you truly are to the world and let the world deal with it.

I hope you’ll be an exhibitionist with me. Exhibit who you are. Be who you are.


THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

WHERE TO FIND US

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.

This week’s episode link. Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them.

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!

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

THE CASE AGAINST LAZINESS AND DOUCHEBAGS.

THE CASE AGAINST LAZINESS AND DOUCHEBAGS.

 
 
00:00 / 00:22:34
 
1X
 

Okay. I know the title of our podcast this week sounds mean, but it’s truth. You want to be a good writer or good liver, right?

Digression: Not a liver like an organ, but a liver like someone who is alive. 

Anyway, digression over. 

You want to be good. So that means what? You guessed it. It means that you can’t be lazy. 

What’s a lazy writer? 

It’s someone who babbles and has a lot of words that really say nothing.  So here are hot tips about that. 

PROBLEM #1: USING WAY TOO MANY TO-BE VERBS.

TIP #1: Don’t.

A to-be verb is: is, are, was, were, has been, had been,

A to-be verb hides the real importance of your sentence in a layer of whatever. 

How about an example? 

Lazy to-be sentence: 

Being thrilled to be snowboarding is such a real feeling.

So the subject up there is so dull. It’s being thrilled.

How about we switch it up to having a real concrete subject: 

The yeti is thrilled to be snowboarding today. 

Whoa, way better, right? We now know the yeti is thrilled and that’s more concrete, but we still have that ‘to be’ verb with ‘is.’

One more try: 

The yeti snowboards, pumping his hairy fist in the air, screaming, “Yee-haw!” 

We now have a much better image of the yeti and his joy. Also we just all have an image of a yeti, which is always a bonus. 

PROBLEM #2: WRITING LIKE YOU’RE TRYING TO HIT A TEACHER-INSPIRED WORD COUNT ON A U.S. HISTORY PAPER ABOUT THE ANTEBELLUM AND YOU ARE JUST PUTTING IN WORDS TO FILL UP SPACE. 


TIP #2: Don’t babble. 

You know what we mean, right? 

We’re talking about the never-ending sentence. Something like this: 

If this economic crisis is able to be adjudicated with both the president and Congress’s  approval, there will likely be an increased number of regulatory-relief provisions that will also be passed, which should make a resulting impact on the home-owner’s monetary status. 

And all you hear is blah-blah-blah-BLAH-blah. 

Don’t do that in your fiction. 


Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t babble. Don’t pad your thoughts down with meaningless words



Dog Tip for Life

Meandering with purpose is the best. Don’t bark for no reason because then people won’t listen to your important growls. 


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.

This week’s episode’s link.

Note: We hunt for ghosts and talk about douchebags in our random thoughts, which are not transcribed here.


WHERE TO FIND US

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.

This week’s episode link.

Continue reading “THE CASE AGAINST LAZINESS AND DOUCHEBAGS.”

How to Become Confident (if you want to)

I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not. That’s a form of lying to me. I’d rather be honest and raw than polished and fake. I prefer honey over white sugar.

Because I have social anxiety and I’m super open about my fears and vulnerabilities, a lot people think I’m not confident and tell me to not sell-myself-short of be self-deprecating. I know that they’re only trying to be kind, but their mindset about authenticity and confidence is not the same as mine, which seems to be something I have to explain a lot. 

I actually once had an editor who told me, “Carrie, you are the weirdest mix of incredibly confident and secure and insecure that I’ve ever met.” 

I took that as a compliment. 

And other people have told me, “You are amazing. Don’t present as insecure! Know your power! You are hurting yourself by showing the world who you are.” 

Which is kind of them because I know they’re trying to be helpful, but the thing is that I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not. That’s a form of lying to me. I’d rather be honest and raw than polished and fake. I prefer honey over white sugar.

Being Open About Insecurities is Cool

I’m lucky. I’m secure enough to be open about being insecure. Weird, right? It shouldn’t be. I know I’m flawed – so flawed – but I’m okay with it because people are supposed to be flawed. We’re supposed to grow and mess up and make mistakes and ask forgiveness and forgive. We’re supposed to put the silverware in the dishwasher the wrong way and accidentally put our shirts on backwards. 

So I embrace my lacks and goofs and imperfections. With my slurred s’s and my total lack of depth perception, I’ve never had a chance to present myself to the world as perfect. I’m too busy walking into doors and people and walls. 

I know! This is not a culture that likes imperfections. We bully people for their difference. We call them names on social media and in real life. We all present the nicest, most filtered photos of ourselves doing the nicest, most acceptable things. 

Embracing your failures and your lacks can seem like a fool’s journey, but here’s the thing: the fools have the most fun. I hope you’ll be a fool with me. 

People Pretend

People pretend. A lot of us pretend we’re secure. And usually it’s the loudest, most seemingly confident people who are the least secure. 

They boast. They tend to guffaw. They have loud voices. They hide themselves behind fancy toys and clothes and cars. It’s their costumes to get through life. And that’s so sad because I don’t want anyone to have a costume. The fool’s journey, my journey, is so much more fun. Laughing at your mistakes is a lot happier than dealing with the constant pressure to be perfect, to be constantly awesome. 

Truly confident people? They don’t need the costumes and the accessories. They can have them of course, but they don’t need them and that’s a big difference. They embrace their fool. They fangirl and fanboy over all sorts of random things. They collect toenail clippers or memes about dolphins or whatever. They allow their feelings to be real and their dreams to be known. They wear whatever they want to wear – what feels like them.

Clothes Don’t Make the Person

All my life, I’ve been teased for my clothes and I don’t care, but I use those moments to understand other people and their insecurities. 

I went on a date with a man once. I thought we were just having lunch. I didn’t realize that we were on an actual date date because I am clueless about things like that. It was way below freezing. I had to walk to get to the restaurant. Imagine walking in 18-degree weather and there is a sea wind gusting down an almost abandoned street. Even the clams were hiding. I was layered. So layered. 

I got there and the man, a banker, looked at me and said, “You look homeless.” 

Nice way to create a hierarchy of worth, right? But he didn’t care that I looked a bit over-layered. He still liked me. What he cared about that he was with someone who wasn’t looking snazzy. I was insulted. I felt badly for him because that’s a whole lot of insecure. 

Let’s just say that we were not meant to be. 

Clothes Don’t Make a Person

Once when I was a first-year college student I visited my boyfriend’s family in Manhatten for New Year’s. His mom immediately tried to buy me new clothes. She was terrified that I wouldn’t fit in. I didn’t. I was an absolute bumpkin from New Hampshire who wore pastels from K-Mart in a world of black designer clothes. We went to one of my boyfriend’s fancy friend’s house for a New Year’s Eve party and her dad, a famous food critic and writer, looked at me in my pink cashmere sweater and said, “Oh, honey. Where are you even from?” 

I stared into the sea of black cocktail dresses and sports jackets and said, “New Hampshire?”

He nodded. “Makes sense.” 

I went in there, everyone gawped at me. I smiled and eventually everyone was too drunk to notice that I was pastel in a sea of mourning. It was a good time.

Random Movie Quote

In the movie American Gangster  Denzel Washington’s character says to his really well-dressed kid brother, 

“That. What you got on. That’s a very, very, very nice suit? That’s a clown suit. That’s a costume. With a big sign on it that says, ‘Arrest Me.’ You understand? You’re too loud. You’re making too much noise. Look at me: The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room.”

American Gangster

That’s true about standing out to cops, but it’s also true about confidence.

Anecdote About My Hobbit Dad

My sweet little hobbit dad was a truck driver and spent his whole life thinking he was dumb because he didn’t get past second grade. Dyslexic, he was the smartest man I knew. With his pants falling off his bum, and his low-key attitude, would talk to presidential nominees, poets, scientists, servers, cabbies, the greeter at Wal-Mart. He talked to everyone and anyone, asking them insightful, poignant questions that went right to the heart of who they were. 

Despite his insecurities, he was confident in who he was – that essential part of his nature and soul – and he gave off the vibe of being authentic and real and confident because he didn’t know how to be anything else. He approached everyone as if they were a potential friend, but more than that . . . he approached everyone like they were a quality human being. 

To be confident you have to do a few things and practice doing them: 

  1. Embrace your anxieties, your perceived flaws. Know that everyone else you see has them too. 
  2. Practice being confident. How do you do that? Practice being okay with who you are. 
  3. Embrace the fool in you and abolish the perfectionist. Practice this, too. Do things that you’re afraid to do. 
  4. Approach the world with an outlook of potential instead of paranoia. 

All of that boils down to one tip:

Be real. Be who you really are.

I hope you’ll go on this fool’s journey with me, being more fully okay with who you are, showing the world your spirit and personality, perceived flaws and all. 

I just released a book on Amazon and it’s an adult mystery and I’m in love with it. You should read it. It’s an adventure. 


Gabby The Dog, Wisdom for Monday

Hundreds of beings can smell one rose bush.

The roses keep on creating scent. Love is like that. So is contentment.

Sharing your joy & kindness never lessens it. And you deserve to share in its smells. Smells are good. Dogs know.

Gabby the Dog

Random Dog Thoughts are posted every weekday over on my Twitter and Facebook accounts.


NEWS

Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow!

This week’s episode’s link.


WHERE TO FIND US

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 PODCAST” then like and subscribe.

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

What I’m Up To

So, I’ve recently paid $27 to learn that I’m absolutely failing at what authors are supposed to do on social media and their blogs.

And my $27 has taught me that I’m supposed to post a monthly book update to keep readers excited about my books.

Oops. You can imagine me grimacing here. I’ve been writing for ten years and I have absolutely failed at this.

So, here’s a quick update.

I just released a book on Amazon and it’s an adult mystery and I’m in love with it. You should read it. It’s an adventure.

This is what it’s about

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

What’s Next

I’m finishing up my book, THE LAST GODS, on Patreon and starting to think about what to do on there next.

I’m editing a ton of people and being a writing coach. You can find more on my website about that. And I’m still teaching an awesome class at the Writing Barn. And I’m thinking of creating a more cohesive business surrounding all of that because it turns out that I really love helping people with their books and writing craft.

I’m starting the sequel to THE PLACES WE HIDE and it’s a doozy. A doozy, I tell you! Full of murder and small-town realism and romance.

I’m revising a young adult fantasy that my agent will be shopping around.

I’m thinking about writing something nonfiction and big and it’s scary. So, I’ll talk more about that soon.

I’m trying to be better about YouTube. I’m sort of failing. But you can check my videos out. They are goofy and informative, which is pretty much me.

WHAT’S STILL HAPPENING

Well, we’re chugging along with our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, which has had over 169,000 downloads. We talk about life tips from our dogs and writing tips from ourselves and are all around goofy.

I’m still painting, writing dog and quote inspirational quotes on my Facebook and Twitter, and dealing with kittens.

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST

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. Let us know if you’d like to be a sponsor. We’ve had some great ones.

Ride Hard. Seven Tips for Aspiring Writers

Remember all stories have a beginning, a middle and an end where people (or hamsters or whatever) ride hard for something and there are obstacles blocking their way to get that something.

Ride Hard. Seven Tips for Aspiring Writers

 
 
00:00 / 00:14:10
 
1X
 

Tips for Aspiring Writers? Everyone gives them. But these are the essentials that were inspired by a hot-wings induced stupor. Shaun doesn’t believe you can get drunk off hot sauce, but I’m here to tell you that I (Carrie) can.

Seven Tips for Aspiring Writers

  1. Write your ideas down anywhere and everywhere. Don’t think that you’ll remember the amazing ideas you got while in a half-drunken stupor from too many Buffalo wings. Have a notebook or notes file on your phone. Write that stuff down. 
  2. Ride hard for books. Not just your own books but other people’s too. 
  3. Wait. That’s not good enough. Ride hard for words. Fall in love with them. 
  4. Remember all stories have a beginning, a middle and an end where people (or hamsters or whatever) ride hard for something and there are obstacles blocking their way to get that something. 
  5. Remember all stories have characters who have external wants (a good hot wing) and internal desire (to be admired for devouring that damn hot wing without doing a Will Ferrell and crying). 
  6. Study people. Write people. Not card-board cut-outs. Don’t make your story an Instagram filter. Show people the quirks, the dirt, the torn hems on your skirt. 
  7. Write. You aspire to write? Do it, my friend. Don’t just aspire. Do. 

Writing Tip of the Pod: 

If you want to write books, study people, study books, and experience as much as you can experience so you can use everything you do, see, and feel to communicate that to others. 

Dog Tip for Life: `

Channel your inner Yoda. There is no try. Just do. 

Or channel your inner Nike ad. Just do it. 

Don’t aspire. 

Work towards it. You’ve got it. 

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.

This week’s episode’s link.


WHERE TO FIND US

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.

Big News!

I just published a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. Please, please, order it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


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!

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

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.