Mushy Dialogue Sucks

There. I said it.

Mushy dialogue sucks. It’s nothing space in your story and sometimes it’s nothing space in your life. You know what I’m talking about, right? You meet some cool human at a coffee house and talk to them and it goes like this:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“How’s it shaking?”

“It’s shaking well, thank you.”

“Yeah. Weather is nice, right?”

“It’s quite sunny.”

“Cool.”

“Yes, it’s lovely.”

Random bad dialogue that I just made up

One of my writers in the Writing Barn class that I’m teaching for the next six months, directed me to a blog post about the Five Biggest Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them and one of those mistakes according to James Scott Bell is marshmallow dialogue.

Bell believes that dialogue is one of the best ways to make a story better or make it absolute trash. He advocates fast-paced dialogue full of tension. Blah dialogue he says is ‘puffy,’ and ‘overly sweet,’ and everyone sounds the same no matter who is speaking.

Bell kindly gives hints about how to make characters sound different from one another.

Those include:

  • Making documents written solely in one character’s voice.
  • Keep working on it until every character sounds different and you can distinguish them at a glance (I added that)
  • Make sure there is tension going on. What do people want? Why are they talking? Do they want the same thing?
  • Make your dialogue simpler. Get rid of extra words. You can cut and copy dialogue into another document and then hack away at it.

He uses the following example of compressed dialogue.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”

“Oh but I do, I do. And you can see it in my face, can’t you?”

The alternative:

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“Damn straight,” Mary said.

“You got no reason to be!”

Mary felt her hands curling into fists.

Bell’s example

I’m annoying and I send my apologies to Mr. Bell, but that example is wonderful at compressing dialogue, but those people? They still sound the same to me. In the first example, they both sound like middle class people who are having a hard time expressing their feelings. In the second example, they sound like people who are expressing their feelings in exactly the same way and are probably are still the same social/economic/education background.

Look at what happens if you keep one character’s original lines and one character’s new lines.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.
“Damn straight,” Mary said.
“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”
Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Or….

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You have absolutely no reason to be?”


Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Revision

I’d argue that’s even better. For more about how language and dialogue changes with the speakers, check out our Dogs are Smarter than People podcast from last year. And good luck with your dialogue!

Links that go with the podcast (the important words are here and here.




HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

31702754 copy
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Boxers or Briefs or the Commando – Living the Literary Life

Boxers or Briefs or the Commando – Living the Literary Life

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:25
 
1X
 

Carrie has been working on the Write Submit Support Class that she’s doing with the Writing Barn and the whole class is about creating a writing community and supporting each other, right?

One of the first classes talks about “Living the Literary Life,” which is a phrase that she’s honestly not super into because she spends a lot of her time just trying to convince people to live their own life let alone a life with a qualifier in it like ‘literary.’

Some people think living the literary life is about relationships. Carrie thinks it’s about that, but it’s also about intention. It’s about giving yourself the space to notice things, people, conversations, poems, beer. It doesn’t matter what you’re noticing, but it’s also about then making those connections into story.

It’s about reading and noticing and writing.

It’s about valuing yourself enough to live the life you want to live.

That means it’s about the yearning that exists in you to live a life where you find meaning, and about the yearning that exists in stories where characters yearn, too.

So what does that have to do with boxers or briefs or the p-word, which was the original title of our post until Carrie realized that the p-word stood for words that aren’t ‘panties,’ which was the p-word she was talking about.

Spoiler Tangent: Carrie hates the p-word, the panties one.

It means that there’s no one way to live the literary life just like there’s no one type of undergarment that is the best for everyone. You life is yours. There’s no one way to live it. The phrase ‘literary life’ is pretty vague, but that’s good because you can take that phrase and put your stamp on it, just like your mom used to put your name in your underwear, right?

CHARLES DEBUSSEY SAID THERE IS NO THEORY, JUST TO LISTEN and that’s pretty cool if you think about it. Listen to your heart, to what resonates to you. That’s how to live your life – literary or not.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Think about your goals as a writer. What are your intentions? What would make you feel like you’re living a literary life? Is it about reading, writing, noticing?

Dog Tip for Life

There’s no one right way to do the simplest thing and that includes pooping.

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.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Ghosts by the wall bar harbor art
Ghosts by the wall

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Boxers or Briefs or Commando, Living the Literary Life

Carrie has been working on the Write Submit Support Class that she’s doing with the Writing Barn and the whole class is about creating a writing community and supporting each other, right?

And one of the first classes talks about “Living the Literary Life,” which is a phrase that she’s honestly not super into because she spends a lot of her time just trying to convince people to live their own life let alone a life with a qualifier in it like ‘literary.’

Some people think living the literary life is about relationships. Carrie thinks it’s about that, but it’s also about intention. It’s about giving yourself the space to notice things, people, conversations, poems, beer. It doesn’t matter. And then making those connections into story. The literary life is about reading and noticing and writing.

It’s about valuing yourself enough to live the life you want to live.

It’s about the yearning that exists in you to live a life where you find meaning, and about the yearning that exists in stories where characters yearn, too.

So what does that have to do with boxers or briefs or the p-word, which was the original title of our post until Carrie realized that the p-word stood for words that aren’t ‘panties,’ which was the p-word she was talking about.

Spoiler Tangent: Carrie hates the p-word, the panties one. Honestly, she hates a lot of p-words.

Back to the topic

Our title refers to the fact that there’s no one way to live the literary life just like there’s no one type of undergarment that is the best for everyone. You life is yours. There’s no one way to live it. The phrase ‘literary life’ is pretty vague, but that’s good because you can take that phrase and put your stamp on it, just like your mom used to put your name in your underwear, right?

CHARLES DEBUSSEY SAID THERE IS NO THEORY, JUST TO LISTEN and that’s pretty cool if you think about it. Listen to your heart, to what resonates to you. That’s how to live your life – literary or not.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Think about your goals as a writer. What are your intentions? What would make you feel like you’re living a literary life? Is it about reading, writing, noticing?

Dog Tip for Life

There’s no one right way to do the simplest thing and that includes pooping.

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.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Ghosts by the wall bar harbor art
Ghosts by the wall

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Martin Luther King Jr and Why We Should Try Even Though We Aren’t Perfect

When I was a kid in NH, the state refused to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  I was so embarrassed. I begged my mom to move because I did not want to live in a state that wouldn’t celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

She refused. 

I thought she was ridiculous and terribly mean. I pretty much had a tantrum in my bedroom, threw my pillow around, packed my duffel bag and sleeping bag, and walked down the driveway, sputtering about how horrible she was. And she could find a job in another state. And it wasn’t such a big deal to sell a house.

Then I thought about what Dr. King said. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

And it’s hard to drive out darkness when you run away.

It’s hard to not feel powerless in fighting injustice when you can’t even vote, but you can. You really can. You can join organizations that fight against injustices. You can speak out when you see someone being bullied. You can make yourself into a beacon of light, and try to do as much as you can to promote kindness and love and grace.

You will screw up.

Screwing up is normal.

But to not screw up? To do nothing? That’s the kind of thing that will eat away your insides. As Dr. King said: 

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

During his life and since his death, a lot of people have tried to cast Dr. King in a negative light. People do that kind of thing to heroes and to people who create change . They are trying to discredit his message by picking apart his life. But that doesn’t work. No man, no woman, no person, is perfect.

But the things we believe in can be perfect, bigger than us.

The things we believe in can be truths that resonate.

Dr. King’s message and truths are like that. I am so glad he was here, so glad he was brave, and so glad that we chose to applaud that. He said:

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

I am going to try harder to walk in the light of creative altruism. I will probably screw up a ton, but it’s worth it.


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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

31702754 copy

Beer Fest is Not the Question. Beer Fest is the Answer. Dogs are Smarter Than People Bonus Podcast where we get a little tipsy to support local brewers.

So, Shaun and I made a bonus podcast at yesterday’s Fourth Annual Bar Harbor Winter Beer Fest.

Yes, you heard that right.

We basically battled ridiculously cold temperatures the day before a giant storm in order to hang out with a bunch of Maine beer drinkers and we made new friends, talked to men in kilts, brewers, and a really cool guy making a film about kids doing really cool things.

Yes, we make less sense as we go on.

Yes, part of the podcast was created in a port-a-potty.

You should listen to it anyway.

Here are links to Thom’s amazing project with the students trying to save whales. A newspaper article is here. An Instagram account is here. Thom’s film projects Facebook page is here.

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.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Beer Fest is Not a Question. It is the Answer. Dogs are Smarter Than People Bonus Podcast where we get a little tipsy to support local brewers.

Beer Fest is Not a Question. It is the Answer. Dogs are Smarter Than People Bonus Podcast where we get a little tipsy to support local brewers.

 
 
00:00 / 00:27:53
 
1X
 

So, Shaun and I made a bonus podcast at yesterday’s Fourth Annual Bar Harbor Winter Beer Fest.

Yes, you heard that right.

We basically battled ridiculously cold temperatures to hang out with a bunch of other Maine beer drinkers and made new friends, talked to men in kilts, brewers, and a really cool guy making a film about kids doing really cool things.

Yes, we make less sense as we go on.

Yes, part of the podcast was created in a port-a-potty.

You should listen to it anyway.

Here are links to Thom’s amazing project with the students trying to save whales. A newspaper article is here. An Instagram account is here. Thom’s film projects Facebook page is here.

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.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Miso Mushroom Soup of Magic

Print Recipe
Miso Mushroom Soup of Happiness
This is delicious. #theend
Magic Miso Mushroom Soup Recipe
Course Main Dish, soup
Cuisine vegetarian
Keyword miso
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 0 minutes
Servings
normal people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, soup
Cuisine vegetarian
Keyword miso
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Passive Time 0 minutes
Servings
normal people
Ingredients
Magic Miso Mushroom Soup Recipe
Instructions
  1. Put that broth in a saucepan and boil it.
  2. Realize you call it saucepain instead of sauce pan. There are deep reasons for this, aren't there? I mean YOU BOIL THINGS IN THERE! That seems violent. So does chopping things. Why is cooking so violent? When will the broth boil so you can stop thinking and start doing? AGHHHHH!!!!
  3. Once the broth boils, stop thinking and start doing! Feel relieved and add the mushrooms. Turn it to low. Thank the mushrooms for their service and sacrifice.
  4. Simmer four minutes. Try not to think about books, plots, reviews, agents who don't email back, other writers, or anything.
  5. Do not cry because the mushrooms gave their life to be your soup. Do not make this into a picture book or a poem. Just cook.
  6. Stir miso paste and soy sauce together so it's mixed and then add it to the sauce of pain. Add the tofu too. Cook one more minute
  7. You are done! What? THAT WAS SO FAST! Celebrate by pouring the soup into something you eat out of. Add the green onions.

I found this recipe on All Recipes by someone mysteriously known only as Claudia. I owe a lot to the mysterious Claudia because this is my new favorite recipe.

Man Verdict: I thought this was going to be disgusting, but this is one of my favorite soups ever.

My Verdict: Me too!

Dog Verdict: WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO EAT THIS! LIFE IS SO UNFAIR! PLEASE PASS THE DOG BISCUITS, STAT!

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

A Little Bit of Wisdom from a Writing For Children and Young Adults MFA Grad

Ten years ago, I was at Vermont College doing the graduate assistant thing. Everywhere people were engaging in intelligent discourse about craft and me?

Um….

I began the residency by spilling an entire glass of apple juice on the cafeteria table on first semester student, possibly scarring her for life.

To her credit she kept talking about picture books as we mopped up the mess with massive amounts of napkins expounding about the Derridian aspect of Mo Willem’s canon. Yet… 

While they were being articulate I, the graduate assistant from the Land of the Socially Awkward (AKA MAINE),  was pondering other mysteries of life such as this:

When I left my dorm room Grover and Teddy were hanging out on my bed like this.

But when I returned, they looked like this:

I decided not to care. Instead, I started to lurk around Julie and Shelley, two of the teacher-professor-mentors, in the hopes of trying to gather some of their brilliance.

These ladies? These ladies are hot. They weren’t hot JUST because they were cuties.   They were hot because they’ve got brilliance and passion and brains. It’s kind of intimidating. 

Me: Hm… Perhaps I will lurk behind them in the lunch line and some of the brain waves will come over to me. 

Julie: Shelley? Do you feel someone trying to suck out our brain cells?

Shelley: Yes, I do… Through the power of my amazing brain I can detect that.

Julie (Turning around and pointing): You! What are you doing with that giant suction cup.

Me (hiding suction cup in lentil goulash): Me? Nothing? Nothing! 

Me (mumbling to self): Man, foiled again. No extra brain cells. No increased IQ. Darn….

Anyway, Shelley Tanaka’s lecture was called:  Mastering the Short Critical Essay: A Closer Look at This Essential Component of the MFA Program


My favorite hints Shelley gave were actually:

1    If you are writing an essay about a book you should read the damn book first

2.      Don’t make the thesis statement too big like “All books by Roald Dahl have to do with children.”

She also made some great points about how we must devote ourselves to intellectual thought so that we can make our creative work better. 

Julie Larios’ lecture was entitled: How Poetry Works and How It Doesn’t, According to Me


Just the title cracked me up. 


Julie said that, “Poetry’s greatest weapon is indirection.”

She even lectured poetically, full of sound and beauty.

Listen to these sentences she said, “The eyes are hearing. The hands are hearing. The soles of the feet are hearing. The heart and the head and the soul and the gut are hearing.”

Julie Larios

My favorite part of her talk was when she discussed how everyone thinks that anyone can write a book and how it is so easy.  People perceive of all the different arts as requiring years of practice. Except writing.

“They don’t recognize language as an instrument that you learn to play,” she said. “You have to learn to play the instrument of language.”

 
You can learn that language by yourself or you can learn it in a super-cool amazing MFA program like Vermont’s College of Fine Arts or the Writing Barn (hint/hint), but you still have to learn it. 

I am still learning it even as I teach it. That’s remarkably wonderful.

Julie also recommended we ask these questions about our poetry, but I think we should ask it about ALL our writing.

Here are her questions:

Are you invested primarily in the emotion of the piece?

Are you invested in the information of the piece? 

Are you invested only in the sound of the piece?


Favorite Quote Of the Residency (as said by maintenance man upon seeing the third-floor lounge at Dewey:
 Well, I guess there was a party up here. Man…

I ending up keeping a close eye on Grover and Teddy.

Oh… And let me tell you. My radiator? Totally haunted. It sounded like there is a poodle stuck in there. I think it had something to do with the Grover and Teddy escapades, too.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!

How to Be Happier Writers, Dogs, and People and A Little Talk about Cat Butts

Humans are pattern seekers, but sometimes those patterns aren’t helpful ones.

How can we make our organizations and ourselves happy? 

We talk about this ALL THE TIME in our house. To be fair we also talk about expelling gas out the rectum and cookie recipes, but happiness gets mentioned a lot.

We like to think of this, which Will Durant wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Humans are pattern seekers, but sometimes those patterns aren’t helpful ones. We fall into our default patterns; they become like well-used highways, constantly-used routes to our thinking. Our brains are like mechanical devices, wired for efficiency and for those learned patterns. 

How many of us get up, make coffee, go out and exercise, come back drink our coffee, go to work via the same road, every day – or some pattern like that. We’re wired for efficiency. We’ve learned the pattern.

But the cool thing about our brains is that we can rewire them. 

The currency of the media, social media, blog posts makes it that news is attention. And negative news gets a lot of attention. Threats get attention more than positive stories and inspiration. Or do they? 

The more entrenched in our lives and our organizations and our networks that we become, the less we see the need for new patterns.

But we need are inspired evangelists.  What we need is growth and change in our lives and in our writing.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Go write somewhere new. Seriously. If you are able-bodied, get up and go write somewhere besides your normal desk or coffee house or library. Switch it up.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Routines are important for dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get bored. Let your dog stop to sniff an interesting bush. Let yourself stop to notice an interesting tree. Add in 15 minutes to your schedule to allow yourself some room to discover and roam.

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.

Warning

Shaun was painting the walls in a super small room right before recording the podcast. You can tell.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!

How to Be Happier Writers, Dogs, and People and A Little Talk about Cat Butts

How to Be Happier Writers, Dogs, and People and A Little Talk about Cat Butts

 
 
00:00 / 00:20:35
 
1X
 

How can we make our organizations and ourselves happy? 

We talk about this ALL THE TIME in our house. To be fair we also talk about expelling gas out the rectum and cookie recipes, but happiness gets mentioned a lot.

We like to think of this, which Will Durant wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Humans are pattern seekers, but sometimes those patterns aren’t helpful ones. We fall into our default patterns; they become like well-used highways, constantly-used routes to our thinking. Our brains are like mechanical devices, wired for efficiency and for those learned patterns. 

How many of us get up, make coffee, go out and exercise, come back drink our coffee, go to work via the same road, every day – or some pattern like that. We’re wired for efficiency. We’ve learned the pattern.

But the cool thing about our brains is that we can rewire them. 

The currency of the media, social media, blog posts makes it that news is attention. And negative news gets a lot of attention. Threats get attention more than positive stories and inspiration. Or do they? 

The more entrenched in our lives and our organizations and our networks that we become, the less we see the need for new patterns.

But we need are inspired evangelists.  What we need is growth and change in our lives and in our writing.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Go write somewhere new. Seriously. If you are able-bodied, get up and go write somewhere besides your normal desk or coffee house or library. Switch it up.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Routines are important for dogs, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get bored. Let your dog stop to sniff an interesting bush. Let yourself stop to notice an interesting tree. Add in 15 minutes to your schedule to allow yourself some room to discover and roam.

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.

Warning

Shaun was painting the walls in a super small room right before recording the podcast. You can tell.

Help Us and Do An Awesome Good Deed

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

MOE BERG 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

APPLY NOW!