Man, That’s a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Man, That's a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel
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Just like hanging out with a friend, or listening to an instructor drone on and on about the beauty of a mullet, the keys to controlling your novel’s pacing are language and conflict and scene sequence and stakes. We’re going to talk about those today.

What’s pacing?

It’s how fast or slow the story goes for the reader.

LANGUAGE IS A BIG WAY TO IMPACT PACE

Let’s start with word choice. The words you choose can speed up the reader or slow them down. The way the words are grouped on the page? Same thing.

  • Dialogue.
  • Short paragraphs.
  • Short sentences.
  • Action.

Those four things speed things up.

And these things below? They slow that story down.

  • Descriptive passages.
  • Long paragraphs.
  • Long sentences.
  • Abstract language.
  • A lot of talk about feelings.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Information dumps.

Special Help: If all your sentences are the same length and are constantly parallel in construction, you lull the reader to sleep. No sleeping readers, okay? You fall asleep, you run the risk of getting a mullet.

CONFLICT AND STAKES IS ANOTHER WAY TO IMPACT PACING

In the scenes you choose, there needs to be some stakes and some conflict.

Stakes happen when your reader cares about the character and is worried about what might happen to them if they don’t reach their goals. In every scene that stays in your book, there needs to be a stake and a goal.

You can’t just have your character chilling with her bestie if there’s no point in that chillin. You need obstacles and tension and the reader needs to think, “Yikes! What happens if they fail?”

It’s really one of the biggest things about pacing. Because not having conflict and stakes and tension? It makes the reader stop reading.

Scene Sequence Also Impacts Pace

And here it is. The big one. In your story, just like in your life, there will be action moments and turning points and then moments where you think about those big action moments.

Dwight Swain called these moments in a book scenes (the action moments) and sequels (the reflective moments).

Or as I like to call them, LOUD scenes and QUIET scenes. And you want these scenes to be balanced so that the reader doesn’t get bored or the opposite, scream “THIS IS TOO MUCH!!! AH! ANXIETY!”

Randy Ingermanson of the Snowflake method gives three components to each:

Active Loud Scene

  • Goal
  • Conflict
  • Disaster

Quieter Sequel Scene

  • Reaction
  • Dilemma
  • Decision

Pretty cool, right?

So, how do you put all this together?

  1. You want to look at the structure of your story and break it down. Make scenes and chapter cards or just a list.
  2. Look at where the story ramps up and slows down.
  3. Use those sentences and paragraphs and chapters and scene lengths to manipulate that pace.
  4. Think about if your characters are too introspective.
  5. Think about if your writing lacks any detail or does it have too much? Do you wax poetic about the mullet on your main character for 12 pages?
  6. Think about each of your scenes. Do they show character or plot development? Are there obstacles going on? Does your main character want something in the scene?
  7. Have people read it and ask if the story felt rushed or too slow and where?
  8. Remember we need slow paced scenes, too! Not just fast ones!

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Control your pacing; control your story.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Humans are always go-go-go. Life is too fast paced. Slow your roll so you can enjoy your belly rubs, walks, and treats.

LINKS MENTIONED

https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2021/10/10/pasco-4th-grader-in-the-running-for-america-s-best-mullet?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axioslocal_tampa&stream=top

https://mulletchamp.com/

https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/kid-mullet-champion-named-meet-allan-baltz-2021s-winner/I47UA62EZJAINHKCMEW2PJEN3Y/

https://www.dazeddigital.com/beauty/head/article/44884/1/mullet-subculture-hair-history

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching You?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching You?
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There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to figure out story structure.

There’s Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, the Five-Act, the Four-Act, the Six-Act.

But sometimes all of those complicated methods bog some of our writer brains down.

So today we’re going to give you a super quick guide to story structure for your novel. You ready?

Step One:

Name it. This does not have to be its forever name, just a way for you to find the computer file. It can be THE EVIL NOVEL THAT HAS NO NAME RIGHT NOW. That’s fine.

Step Two:

Find a hero. Name them. Put them in a jam or a bad place. Maybe they suck at making commitments? Maybe they need a promotion. Maybe they live under the stairs. Give them a problem.

Step Three:

Think about what has to occur in order for them to ovary up enough to try to deal with that problem.

Step Four:

Now decide what is going to change once that hero gets proactive and tries to deal with that problem or once they take action.

Step Five:

Are things different for our little hero now? How?

Step Six

Okay. Something else needs to happen so that the story takes a turn or a veer to the right or left. What makes it go in another direction?

Step Seven

Make things worse for our poor hero. How are they worse?

Step Eight

Okay. If this is a positive change arc where the hero ends up in a better place, what is it that inspires them to make a big effort and go for that win?

Step Nine

What is the big win (positive change arc) or the big loss (negative change arc)

There you go, how to figure out your novel’s basic structure in nine easy steps? Do you feel heroic, writer? You should.

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s okay to make it simple when it comes to story structure. It really is.

Dog Tip for Life

When your people turn your head and look at you and you realize you’ve been caught, it’s time to stop because then they just think you’re a creeper.

Resources

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/26/1040779728/pokemon-oreo-cookies-ebay-pikachu-mew

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Big Foot Fights and Trailer Sauce and No Flat Writing
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A lot of writers will worry that their stories seem flat. There’s a reason that they are worrying about that and it’s one of the core elements of good writing.

Ready?

You want to vary your sentence structure.

Take a bit of writing that you’ve done that feels flat—or maybe even one that doesn’t. Count the words in your sentences for two or three paragraphs.

Are they all five words? Twelve? Twenty-seven?

That robotic sameness in sentence length is one of the main reasons that writing can feel flat.

It’s like those ancient Dick and Jane books.

See Dick run.

See Jane skip.

See Dick wave.

The other big bugger is when all of your sentences are simple and declarative.

I walk to the forest. The trees are gracious, tall. I inhale the pine scent.

There is actually a whole, entire world of different sentence styles that writers can use and when you use them? That’s when you make your writing shiny and sexy and all the good things.

The names for these structures are pretty boring, honestly, but we’ll try to look beyond that, right?

Simple – You have one main clause.

Carrie is the best wife.

Compound – You have more than one independent clause. You probably use a conjunction.

            Carrie wants to get another dog, but Shaun keeps saying no.

Complex – Oh, the sentence that probably has to pay for a therapist or is reading Foucault obviously in the park. This sentence has an independent clause and a subordinate clause. It’st the BDSM of sentences.

            When hell freezes over, we will allegedly get another dog.

Compound-Complex – It sounds like a place with a cult, right? But it’s just a sentence with at least two independent clauses and one subordinate clause.

Carrie really needs a new dog to love, so Shaun said that they would get one when hell freezes over, so Carrie immediately got some dry ice and sent some down to Lucifer.

Refresher moments:

What’s a clause? A bunch of words chilling out together and one of those words in the group is a verb and another is a noun. Fancy people call the verb, the predicate, but we aren’t fancy here.

What’s an independent clause? It is a bunch of words that has a subject and a predicate. It is grammatically complete all by itself and doesn’t need anyone. Not any other words to stand alone! Darn it.

What’s a subordinate or dependent clause? A bunch of words that needs other words to be a sentence. This poor beautiful baby cannot stand alone and be complete, kind of like a  protagonist in a Hallmark romance.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Vary your sentence structures and don’t be flat.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Variety is good. Don’t eat the same Milkbones all the time. Mix it up.

Be fluffy.

Resources Mentioned in the podcast:

https://nypost.com/2021/09/17/teen-gets-usb-cable-stuck-in-penis-in-attempt-to-measure-length/

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/weird/article251950768.html#storylink=mainstage_card

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

You Should Start Your Own Publishing Company – Be Brave Friday

what if you started your own publishing imprint? You’ve already got a great platform, a well-developed brand and access to a ton of talented writers, many of whom, like me, are struggling to launch their stories into the world.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
You Should Start Your Own Publishing Company - Be Brave Friday
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IT’S BE BRAVE FRIDAY WHERE SHAUN OR I (FROM DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE AND LOVING THE STRANGE AND JUST BEING AN AUTHOR IN MAINE) SHARE PEOPLE’S UNEDITED, UNFILTERED STORIES, SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE THE BIG AND LITTLE BRAVE THINGS WE DO ALL THE TIME.

SOMETIMES WE DON’T EVEN REALIZE WE’RE BEING BRAVE.

I’ve been reading your stuff on Patreon and Medium and loving it, as always. I keep having this crazy idea pop up in my head, so I’m finally going to go out on a limb–it’s Be Brave Friday, right?–and ask you about it.

You’ve likely already thought about doing this. Also, it’s probably not realistic. Then again, maybe it would be amazing!

So here goes:  what if you started your own publishing imprint? You’ve already got a great platform, a well-developed brand and access to a ton of talented writers, many of whom, like me, are struggling to launch their stories into the world.

I’m so tired of reading excellent work by wonderful humans, but knowing it has little chance of reaching readers. Most authors barely have time to write, much less launch their own platforms, etc., even if they choose to self-publish. An imprint like yours could lend legitimacy to a whole swath of quirky life-affirming stories and help those stories reach the readers who need to hear them. 

I know that you’re already working 24/7 to create your own content and run your own business. And I imagine the benefits to you would be quite small, though ultimately something like this would likely give you some marginal financial returns and increase your visibility, too.

That being said, I’m looking for a cause to devote myself to, so I’d be more than willing to write up a mission statement/business proposal and contribute my time, talents and even some limited financial resources on an ongoing basis. I’m guessing a whole lot of gifted writers, editors and designers would be willing to do the same. I know, I know: this is a giant, wild and probably foolish idea, but it wouldn’t stop nagging me.

I love and admire you. I want your stories and stories like yours to reach everyone. I want good humans to flourish. And now I feel scared and silly for saying all of this aloud. But I said it anyway, and that’s a win, right? 

Sending you all kinds of love,


BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Full-time Writer and Thinker – Martin Vidal QuarterLife Crises Led to Full-time Writing Career

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Full-time Writer and Thinker - Martin Vidal QuarterLife Crises Led to Full-time Writing Career
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I was lucky enough to interview author and writer, Martin Vidal, and pick his brain. I hope you’ll check out the video or podcast and give this man some props.

I hope you’ll listen to one of my favorite interviews yet with one of my new favorite people.

Here are some highlights to entice you to listen.

On Martin’s website he says that he loves to write and figure things out, which really struck a chord with me because that’s what I do, too.

Martin’s Ambition Handbook is all about self-examination and self-transformation. And it’s a bit more of a holistic look at how to find success rather than a listicle.

Decision making, the choices we each take, that seems to really matter to Martin and he speaks a bit to that and so much little

On our own podcast, we have a thing we do on Fridays called BE BRAVE FRIDAYS where we try to share other people’s bravery stories, stories where they stepped out of their comfort zone or the box they’d been put in. It can be little. It can be small. It can be huge.

Martin talks about one of the events in his life that he looks back on and thinks, “Whoa. I was really brave there.”

Spoiler: It’s that quarter-life existential crisis.

Martin’s other book, THE FLOWER GARDEN, is releasing soon and I got a bit of a peek and it’s just this lovely sauntering through the moments of humanity. He touches on narcissism, grief, love, so many things that matter. And in the podcast he tells us about how he moved from THE AMBITION HANDBOOK to THE FLOWER GARDEN?

We also talk about a great memory in his piece “Social Anxiety Made Me Who I Am” that I think a lot of us writers can relate to.

I remember at 9 years old when I did my first creative writing assignment. The teacher told us to write a paragraph or two starting with “I found an egg in the yard…” We had 30 minutes, if I recall correctly. I wrote three pages and would’ve gladly continued writing more. Whereas my anxiety had muzzled me, the written word flowed out in a torrent. The teacher loved my writing so much she insisted on reading it aloud. Once again, I went to hide in the bathroom while she did.

He wrote in that same piece:

But there’s something malfunctioning inside of me. I’m not afraid of people, but my body is. It tightens up; I lose my ability to focus, to be still — to be me. I can’t think of anything but to get away.

Maybe one of the big reasons I adore Martin is that he really embodies the Nelson Mandela quote

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Where to find Martin:

Why Your Writing Might Be Too Good to Be Popular

https://martinvidal.co/social-anxiety

Website:

www.martinvidal.co

Books:

The Ambition Handbook

Flower Garden

On Medium:

https://martinvidal.medium.com/

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

I’ve got a new book baby because Seamus and Rosie are back!

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

So yeah . . .

I have a new book coming out in the beginning of October! It’s the fourth book in the Bar Harbor Rose series and . . . well . . .

Rosie has been getting in trouble again.

And I’m super excited about it and hope you’ll check it out!

Here’s what people are saying about the series

THE PLACES WE HIDE combines the best of two worlds: Carrie Jones and suspense. The characters are fun, the storyline is interesting and it kept me engaged til the end. It’s rare that I don’t guess who did it, so I appreciate that wasn’t the case here. Highly recommended. – moi

Thoroughly enjoyed this mystery with plenty of twists and a strong sense of atmosphere. Would love to read another mystery starring Rosie! – 417writer

This is a great tale of suspense set in Downeast Maine. It’s full of great characters that you’ll wish you had as your own friends – mix in the excitement and nervousness of new love and perhaps a killer on the loose and it makes for a super read! – Laurie E. Flood

I’d intended to draw reading “Places We Hide” out because Carrie Jones is always a fantastic read, but sadly, I could not put this one down. Well-written, engrossing story line, and the characters are immediately relatable. Carrie Jones has a talent for really drawing you into her universe and by the end of the book, you can’t help but care about her characters even after the story is over. I’m hoping we’ll get to hear more about Rosie, Seamus, and the rest of their crew in the future. – countessdekay

You can order/preorder here.

And here’s an excerpt! I hope you’ll check it out!

As with all my work, this novel’s story and characters are fictitious. Certain long-standing institutions, towns, states, species, agencies, and public offices are mentioned, but the characters involved are wholly imaginary.

Chapter One

A bonding experience, Seamus calls it, the fun of going on a treasure hunt created from a small book that you can download off the internet.

            The whole island has been buzzing about it honestly: the possibility of finding a tiny treasure going off eight pages of pdf-clues that legitimately make absolutely no sense. Illogical rhymes, random words, and a couple of drawings on one page with arrows connecting different parts of images.

            Seamus, Lilly, and I are scouring the foundation of the old Dorr mansion up in Cromwell Cove, also known as Compass Harbor. People around here seem to use the words and labels interchangeably, so I’m not sure what is the proper proper noun for this little peninsula run by Acadia National Park where there are trails and an ancient foundation and floor of one of the old summer mansions of one of the park’s founders.

            George Dorr has another title, Father of Acadia National Park, and he’s one of the reasons the park actually exists.

            As I stick my hand into a hole in the brick foundation of his home, I wonder if I would have another title if I was famous and if it would be Reporter Who Attracts Danger.

            “Mommy! Find any treasure?” Lilly yells over. She’s covered in dirt. Mud has soaked through her leggings. She wipes her fingers on her face and scampers over to me, holding out her hand. “I found the most perfect stone ever!”

            “Wow.” I stand up from my squat and admire the tiny pebble in her palm. “Look at how smooth it is.”

            “I think it’s a beach stone.” She turns from me and yells to giant man we love. “Seamus! Is this a beach stone?”

            Seamus strides over. There’s no dirt on him anywhere somehow. His dark gray fleece is immaculate. His jeans don’t even have a wayward pine needle stuck to the denim.

            When I think about the bad men of my past—and the bad women—I always wonder if there was some sort of hint or clue that I initially missed about them, a warning or inkling that should have tipped me off that they were capable of massive evil and hurt. Do I gloss over the signs?

            Seamus is good, I remind myself. People can be good.

            “It’s a beautiful stone. It’s lucky.” Seamus taps Lilly on the end of her nose with his giant finger and she giggles. “Just like you.” He redirects his gaze to me. “My two beautiful, lucky ladies. Actually, no–I’m the lucky one.”

            “Yeah, you’re messing up your compliment, silly.” Lilly arches one of her eyebrows, a new trick that she’s mastered and doing constantly. She wipes her messy hand across her cheek, smudging even more dirt on her skin and in her other hand she keeps the stone. Her palm is flat and the stone stays in the center, almost like an offering to the sky or the trees or the world.

            “You can keep it,” I whisper.

            “That’s breaking rules! You can’t take anything from the park.” Lilly’s eyebrow falls down.

            “Yes,” I say, “but this is a special stone. A fairy stone. They brought it here for you as a gift.”

            An eyebrow raises, but her voice quivers and suddenly she’s so young again, a girl without all the evil in her life, no killers, no bad dads, no broken moms, just her and her goodness. “Really?”

            “Really.” Seamus closes her fingers around her fist. “I promise I won’t arrest you. The fairies wouldn’t take too kindly to that.” He pauses and winks at me over Lilly’s head. “Your mom wouldn’t take too kindly to that either.”

            I snag Lilly in a big hug, “Nope. Nope. No arresting my baby girl, Sergeant.”

            “Never.” He winks. “Unless she does something horribly illegal like snagging the last samosa and not sharing.”

            “What? Me never.”

            “You just did it with a corndog.”
            “You ate five of them!”

            “I’m a big man. It takes a lot of corndogs to fuel me.”

            I let go of both of them. “Wait. You fed her corndogs?”

            Seamus pivots Lilly around so her back is to him and she’s facing me. She’s smiling in a huge way that takes up her whole adorable face. His hands stay on her shoulders.

“She fed them to me,” he says. “Tell her, Lilly. How you insisted. How you told me that you’d never let me marry your mom if I did not give you the scrumptious, decadent sausage on a stick.”

“Breaded and fried,” Lilly adds. “So bad for us.”

“A fine, gourmet highlight of American cuisine,” Seamus adds. He gives her a fake false shake and continues in a ridiculously over-the-top imploring tone, “Tell her, please! Admit to this treacherous act of gluttony.”

Lilly does a thumb point backwards. “Totally him.”

“I am betrayed!” Seamus says reeling backwards dramatically, arms flailing and plopping on one of the different brick walls that made up the foundation of the estate. “All is lost!”

“You are such a dork,” Lilly says, hands on her hips as she stares at him. She turns back to me. “Mommy, you are marrying a dork.”

“I know,” I tell her, reaching a hand out to Seamus to help him up. It’s my good arm. The one that hasn’t been shot and doesn’t ever ache or remind me of bad things. “That means your bonus dad is going to be a dork too.”

She does the eyebrow wave and spirals off. “I’m going to go check this wall over here!”

Seamus pulls me down to his level on the mossy brick floor. For a few moments we just sit there, happy beneath the sunrays coming through the canopy of oak and ash leaves. I try not to think about ticks and spiders and about how we’ll have to change clothes when we get back home and inspect each other for ticks, try not to think about how too many corndogs could hurt Seamus’s cholesterol levels and heart health. I think the rule is something like every hotdog you eat takes thirty-five minutes off your life expectancy. How much would corndogs take?

“You’re worrying again, aren’t you?” he asks as he tucks me into his side.

I lean my head against the front of his shoulder. “Maybe.”

“About what?”

“Unseen threats. Mainly ticks and cholesterol.”

He pulls away a bit. “You aren’t going to lose us, honey.”

“But I’ve come so close to—”

“And we’re still here.”

“True.” I let his words comfort me for a minute and we yell back when Lilly yells about things like how she’s totally going to find the treasure or says ‘ick’ really loudly. It’s all lovely and calm and it does—it feels safe.

After a minute and out of nowhere, Seamus starts talking about George Dorr again.

“The thing people don’t know is that Dorr died without any personal fortune left and nearly blind,” he tells me. “He spent almost all his money making sure that this park was preserved. He kept buying more and more land, adding it to the park.”

            “That’s sort of sad,” I say.

            “I think he was okay with it. He got his wish. He made an entire park, preserved all this land.” He pauses. His hand strokes the top of my arm and the good kind of goosebumps rush through me. “Do you know that he swam in the water every single day of the year to prove to Congress that it was not too cold in Maine to have a national park?”

            “I did! Lilly wrote a paper on that!”

            “A paper?”

            “It was more of a project,” I admit. “Because you know—grade school.”

            He laughs. “Well, did you know that he didn’t really swim every day? Instead, sometimes in winter, he just dipped in his toe. So he just told them ‘I go in the water every single day of the year.’”

            “That’s sneaky!”

            “So sneaky,” he admits. “But that’s part of what life is, right? Reality is manipulated. We believe what we want to believe.”

He takes a moment and grabs my hand in his. This is when I know Seamus is being all serious. It usually terrifies me. But I swallow down anything I want to say and try not to imagine worst case scenarios like his divorce didn’t actually go through, he’s fallen in love with the gross firefighter who always talks about being naked; he’s leaving me; he has a terminal disease; he’s decided I’m not worth it.

            There are so many possibilities . . . horrible possibilities.

            “Baby?” His voice is a strong whisper. “What are you thinking?”

            “Nothing. What were you going to say?”

            “You’re a horrible liar.”

            “I know.”

            He smiles. “It’s a good trait.”

            “Harrumph.” My harrumph sounds like my long-dead nana, all frustrated and annoyed even though I’m not. I’m just feeling too studied, too known.

            And then to make it even worse he says, “I know you’re having nightmares. I know you’re still scared.”

            “I’m working through it.”

            “You don’t have to expect the worst all the time, Rosie. You can depend on people. Michelle, me, Gunner, Hannah, Summer. We have your back, you know?” He pauses. “You can quit your job at the paper. I know you hate it.”

            “I like it.”

            “You’re lying again.”

            “I kind of like it?” I offer. “I like learning new things and meeting new people. I just don’t like taking pictures of accidents and stuff. And I don’t like that people think I’m biased because of you and because I dispatched.”

            “People will always think things. You can’t care about that. You just have to be you.” He pulls me into a hug even though I’m dirty and he’s not very pro-dirt. “That’s not what I wanted to say. I just want to say that Gunner thinks you might need to get a little help with the nightmares.”

            “Therapy.” I sigh. “I’ve gone to therapy.”

            “Medication?”

            “I am fully functional!” I object, pulling away, but managing to resist the urge to stomp off. “My brain is just working through things.”

            “I’d lift an eyebrow at you if I was capable.”

            I grab onto his belt loop and pull myself back towards him, trying to be sexy. “I think you’re capable of a lot of things, Sgt. Kelley.”

            He kisses the top of my head and murmurs, “Just you wait and see.”

Want to read more? Just want to support a random author? Here’s the link to the ebook and you’ll be able to order paperback and hard cover too.

Alligator Romance with Darth Gator and the grammar behind the words in to vs into

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Alligator Romance with Darth Gator and the grammar behind the words in to vs into
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So, now that we’re into the helpful part of the podcast and no longer talking about women in love with the alligators that attacked them or dogs and cats breaking records together, we thought we’d take a quick look at a big grammar mistake.

And that’s when INTO is one word or two.

Is it . . .

Dude, I am so into you.

Or is it . . .

Dude, I am so in to you.

Here’s how it works.

INTO all as one word is a preposition, which means it’s showing MOVEMENT of one thing to another thing.

But IN TO (two words) has two grammatical bits going on right there. The IN is an adverb and the TO is the preposition. And they aren’t like snuggled up in bed like a cohabitating couple, they just tend to show up in the sentence next to each other.

Here are some examples:

INTO as one word:

Baby, I made it into the office today, but only just barely because… cough… you know.

Lordie, look what Santa put into your stocking.

That alligator went into that woman’s head, man, like took total control.

INTO usually tells you WHERE something is happening.

IN TO as two words

Look, I am standing in to make a statement to our senator.

Santa came in to say a hearty hello.

The dog and cat rode in to break that record on that damn scooter.

IN TO usually can be substituted with IN ORDER TO.

Easy, right? Consider yourself grammatical.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Two words are different than one.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sometimes taking chances pays off (like when you jump on a scooter with a cat) and sometimes it doesn’t (like when you bite your handler’s hand). Choose your risks wisely. And that goes for copyediting too. Unless you’re super sure you know all the grammar, don’t copyedit your own story.

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

LINKS WE MENTION IN THE RANDOM THOUGHTS PORTION OF THE PODCAST

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/09/16/canada-Guinness-World-Records-dog-cat-scooter-Lollipop-Sashimi-Melissa-Millett/5691631809102/

https://news.sky.com/story/woman-attacked-by-alligator-says-i-love-him-and-it-shouldnt-face-any-consequences-12385890

It Isn’t Too Late to Be There For Your Kids Our Most Personal Be Brave Friday Ever

So all of us need to reach up, reach out, be responsible. Inaction is often just as horrible as bad actions, but we can always climb our way out of the hole we’ve dug by making those good choices, those kind choices (even when they are so damn hard).

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
It Isn't Too Late to Be There For Your Kids Our Most Personal Be Brave Friday Ever
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It’s Be Brave Friday where Shaun or I (from Dogs are Smarter than People and Loving the Strange and just being an author in Maine) share people’s stories, but this week, I’m sharing ours. It’s the first time I’ve talked publicly about this and it’s kind of hard.

Trigger Warning for parent issues (not us).

We have an adorable kid who has autism and ODD and ADD. And here’s the thing. They are funny and creative and have big emotions about their world.

That isn’t the easiest thing to handle for some people.

And we get judged about them all the time. Their ADD manifests in wanting to do a project all night long when they’re really into it. Their ODD manifests in not dealing well when we tell them they need some sleep. Their psychiatrist has said on multiple occasions, “This is not the bridge worth dying on.”

They’re right.

But people don’t get that.

And they judge. A lot.

And whatever. I’m fine with that because though I’m self-deprecating to the point that I tend to drive other feminists crazy, I’m confident that I’m a parent who is full of love and appreciation for her kids. The judging doesn’t matter because what matters is the human who is growing and learning and becoming.

That’s not what this post is about though. This post is about our kid’s other mother. The one who gave up on them two years ago. The one who has to get texts from the kid in order to even think to visit with them. The one who is trained as a teacher but didn’t even send a text to their own child to ask them how their first day of school in a new school system went. And two weeks later, still hasn’t.

This post is about anger, honestly, because I am so angry on behalf of our kid. And I not usually brave enough to talk about this or my anger. I’m a pretty conflict averse human except when it’s about things that hurt others.

But this post is also about hope. We all have moments every single day to do the right thing. To reverse the path that we’re on and actually be responsible and good, to reach out with kindness and with love.

That’s hard sometimes when you’ve sucked for two years. But it’s going to be a lot harder after you’ve sucked for twenty.

So all of us need to reach up, reach out, be responsible. Inaction is often just as horrible as bad actions, but we can always climb our way out of the hole we’ve dug by making those good choices, those kind choices (even when they are so damn hard).

We can all do this. Every single one of us. In order to make our families, our communities, our nation and our world better? We have to.  

Here’s the video where I don’t stick entirely on script because I suck at that, honestly.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings
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Carrie reads a lot of novels in progress and helps writers make those novels better and one of the big things that happen that keep a book from being super star status is an unsatisfying ending.

Yes. Yes, that is about books, not sex, Shaun. But some of the same principles apply to both.

You want your ending to be satisfying even if it’s an unhappy ending.

So, how do you make your ending satisfying?

Ah, just like the copulation, it’s all about fulfilling your promises to the reader in the lead-up to that ending, right?

Your reader has been hanging out with you for 50,000 words at least (usually) and that means that you owe them what you’ve promised them–a complete story with a damn fine ending.

Here are the things to know:

The character at the end of the book should have changed enough to react to the events in a way that they wouldn’t have reacted on page 10.

Most books that are satisfying have a main character that changes. They evolve (positive change arc) or devolve (negative change arc). Their situation is different at the end of the book and you, the author, want to recognize that and show us readers — WOW! Look at how Sparty the Dog is so much stronger now. He’s dealing with that squirrel in a way he never would have on page 10.

All the events that have happened prior to the climax and the ending have made Sparty the dog that’s able to handle his arch nemesis like a boss.

There needs to be emotional growth (or regression) in your main character at the end of this story.

And this growth at the ending has to be shown in the gorgeous story in between the beginning and the ending.

If we imagine the story as three acts, then the ending is where we see how Act One (the set-up, who the character used to be, their original want) and Act Two (where the character’s world changes and they proactively go after their wants, messing up, succeeding, learning and evolving) makes the character who they are now.

Do they get the girl? Save the world? Defeat the evil demon? Throw poop on their landlord?

Do they come to terms with grief?

The ending matters because of everything in the story that the hero has gone through to get there.

They have to earn that ending and when they do? Oh, boy, is it satisfying.

The Ending Doesn’t Matter Much if You Don’t Make It Matter

You want to give your readers the answers to the questions that exist in your story. No loose ends. No mysteries that just end with a ‘to be continued’ because you’ve hit 70,000 words.

It is all about satisfying the reader. If you promise the reader a sexy romance and there’s no sex and the significant other slinks off on the last page to go wrestle guinea pigs in Ireland with someone else? You’re breaking that promise to the reader and totally not satisfying. You are being a bad lover. I mean writer.

Nobody wants that.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think about what your reader wants. Aim to please your lover/reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty says it’s more satisfying to earn your treat rather than just be given the treat. The journey makes the ending more satisfying.

LINKS MENTIONED

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/priest-demons-figured-text-messages-24898111

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/12/28/23-of-the-strangest-things-that-happened-in-florida-in-2020/

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

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Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  

If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this?

Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

IMG-1613

A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

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Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sisters, Marsie, Cloud and Koko.

Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Gabby was beyond terrified.

Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her knee. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

Actually, Gabby’s dream day would just to be constantly hugged. 

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So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is:

Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg’s in A Wrinkle in Time is:

Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted?

Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

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Writing Tip

Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good MONday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things

 

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.