Three Hot Tips to Make Your Writing and Life Way More Intense in a Good Way – Dogs are Smarter Than People Writing Podcast

It’s Writing Tip Time and we’re going to give you three fast and dirty writing tips today that’s going to make your writing more intense. Ready? 

Think about your tense 

What’s that mean? It means don’t be writing like things are happening now and then shift over to writing like things were happening in the past. If you want the most immediate writing experience, write in the present tense.

Here’s a quick example: 

I lost feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run on Friday. I thought I might be having a stroke. 

That’s in the past tense, right? We read this, notice it’s in the first person and figure that the narrator has survived because she’s telling us about this after-the-fact. 

Try it out in the present tense: 

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke. 

It’s more intense, right? 

Let’s make it more intense.

Intense dog look from Sparty

Take out the distancing words. 

In first person especially, it’s really hard to get away from a lot of lookingand knowingand words that pull us out of the moment and the immediacy of the character’s experience.

Distancing language tends to be the words like ‘seem,’ and ‘look,’ and ‘heard,’ and ‘know.’ When I revise, I think of these words as placeholders for where I can go back and dig in more deeply in certain places. 

So, let’s take that sentence again and make it more immediate. 

I lose feeling on my entire left side of my body during our long run. I think I might be having a stroke. 

Change that up and it looks like: 

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot numbs first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts going numb, I gasp. I might be having a stroke. 

You’re in there a bit more with that character now right. Is she having a stroke? What the heck is she running for? SHE IS BROKEN! 

Try not to use the same word too many times too closely together. 

In the example above I deliberately use the word ‘numb’ and ‘my left’ over and over again. I’m cool with the repetition of ‘my left,’ but not so much with the numb. There are better, cooler words to mix in there and grab the reader’s attention. Let’s try. 

My entire left side of my body starts going numb during our long run. My left foot disappears first. Then my left hand and arm. When the left side of my mouth starts to tingle, I gasp. I might be having a stroke. 

There you go! 

We’ve learned three fast tips to making your writing more intense. 

Random Thoughts: 

In our random thought time, we go to Denny’s and Dunkin’ Donuts and talk about dog poop as well as this article. You should listen and rejoice in our weirdness. 

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be in the present (tense). Don’t be distant. Mix up your words, man.

Dog Tip for Life:

Live in the present. Don’t be distant to people or to the experience. Mix up your routine, man. 

Nobody wants to do the same thing all the time, do they? Don’t go numb.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

Three Hot Tips to Make Your Writing and Life Way More Intense in a Good Way – Dogs are Smarter Than People Writing Podcast

 
 
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Passive Aggressive Much? And How to Become More Awesome in Just 30 Minutes a Day

Over on the random thought part of the podcast, we hear about Carrie being passive-aggressive at the campground bathroom, Shaun sing, and random people at Smokey’s Barbecue and Lobster.

But here is the more intellectual stuff. Um. Slightly more intellectual stuff?

This guy Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book Outliers and in it he outlines his belief that if you practice something for 10,000 hours and do that in a deliberate way, then you’ll become a top performer.

Who are the outliers? They are the best and the brightest. 

We don’t want you to freak out over that 10,000 hours bit because that’s like saying, “Hey Shaun, I know you can’t run more than 60 seconds right now, but this Friday you’re going to run for 93 minutes.”

Spoiler alert: Shaun ran for 93-minutes straight on Friday. Carrie did too.

Anyway, this guy named Danny Forest who writes on Medium breaks it down to something that feels a bit more doable. He says that he can learn soft skills in about eight hours and breaks it into working 30 minutes each day on those skills. 

That seems a lot better than 10,000 hours, right?

There’s a difference between competence and brilliance, but that half-hour concentrated focus is how so many of us build our skills. Even dogs. 

So, inspired by Mr. Forest, the Farrar has three things he wants to learn: 

  • Make movies on Adobe Premiere
  • Spanish
  • Stained glass stuff
  • How to be a better parent

And Carrie also made a list:

  • Make movies on Adobe Premiere
  • Make felted paintings
  • How to self publish
  • How to draw
  • How to write travel stories
  • How to be Anthony Boudrain
  • Spanish
  • How to cook in the French style, but also to make kick-butt saltanas and samosas and all things in pockets, basically.

What do you want to learn? To do?

For writing, focusing on writing or reading about writing for a half hour a day is really an essential tip to becoming a better storyteller. You see that advice everywhere and you see other people countering that advice saying to ‘ignore all advice,’ which is also actually advice. 

Yes, do your own thing and do what works for you. That should be obvious. But don’t forget that you can’t become a brilliant guitar player if you’ve never picked up a guitar. You have to put in the time. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Practice what you want to be good at. Do it in small bites. You’ve got this.

Dog Tip for Life

Dogs are good at sleeping and practicing that. Be like a dog.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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


Imaginary Land and the Parallel Zone

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

Confession Time

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


And she’d go, “What way?”

And I’d say, “You know that way.”

The Bruce she was talking about was him:

I, however, liked this guy:

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

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

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

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

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

GLOSSARY OF IMPORTANT LITERARY TERMS, WHICH I WOULD FIND IN A CRAFT BOOK IF I COULD BRING MYSELF TO READ ONE

Let me just say this up front: I don’t like craft books.

Yep. You read it, right. 

I don’t like craft books. 

I’m sure there’s a deep-seated reason for this, which probably requires years of counseling; however, I am a writer who has holes in her clothes and I can’t afford years of counseling. So, unless someone decides to cough up the money to take care of my soul, it seems the roots of my craft book dislike may never be discovered. 

So because I have some sort of death wish (Please do NOT kill me fellow toll writers, especially writers of craft books), I am going to create my own, special GLOSSARY OF IMPORTANT LITERARY TERMS, WHICH I WOULD (MAYBE) FIND IN A CRAFT BOOK IF I COULD BRING MYSELF TO READ ONE AGAIN, WHICH I CAN NOT, SO NO TRYING TO FORCE ME! I AM NO LONGER IN A MFA PROGRAM, SO JUST STOP IT RIGHT NOW. IT’S MY OWN LIFE DAMNIT:

Let’s Begin

A is for

Active Verbs

These are the verbs that everyone wants. These verbs take no prisoners and aren’t all namby-pamby passive like everyone’s complaining Bella in the Twilight series is. These are the Rambo of verbs, the Natural Born Killers of verbs, the Stephen Colbert of verbs. 

Interestingly enough, in the sentence, I WILL LICK YOUR FEET, MR. PRESIDENT, lick is an active verb, not a passive verb. 

See? It makes no sense.

Amazonaddictionitis

The horrifying addiction (not described in most craft books) that happens to authors after their book debuts. Symptoms include:

  1. Obsessive checking of book stats, namely Amazon.com Sales Rank
  2.  Screaming
  3. Massive Depression
  4. Constant murmuring of “It’s #831,051 in books, how can this be? How? CAN? THIS? BE?”
  5. Frantic calls to editor/agent
  6. Consumption of a lot of cosmopolitans (if you write chick lit) and/or rum and Cokes (if you write werewolf horror novels)

B is for

Book contract

This is the ultimate of all goals for most writers, unless of course, you are Stephanie Meyers, J.K. Rowling, or God, then your goal is media domination or at least a multi-book, seven-figure contract.

Here. Let me use it in a paragraph: 

The author claimed to have a book contract, but actually it was a book contact. It’s true. She touched a book. Once.

C is for

Comma 

Oh, the comma. It is the evilest of the punctuation marks. It once made a Kirkus reviewer very mad at me. Who would think that this ,,,, could be so evil? Oh. Right. The Kirkus reviewer.

Comma Curse

This is what happens to writers who do not memorize Diane Hacker’s RULES FOR THE WRITER ( Memorize that fifth edition – it’s the best!!!) and they fail to remember not to “use a comma between compound elements that are not independent clauses.”

You can never be free of the comma curse once you have it. Trust me, you don’t want it. It causes embarrassing itching in between the typing fingers.

D is for

dénouement (IPA:/deˈnuːmɑ̃/)

The hoity-toity word for all the stuff that happens after the climax. The climax in the book. Geesh…

E is for

Evolution. 

According to Evolution 101 at Berkley this is “descent with modification. This definition encompasses small-scale evolution (changes in gene frequency in a population from one generation to the next) and large-scale evolution (the descent of different species from a common ancestor over many generations). Evolution helps us to understand the history of life.”

Try not to write about this. It may make your book banned.

F is for

Foreward

This is what happens when you get super famous and dead and other people (teachers) force students to read your work in high school or college and they (the forward writers) have to explain before the actual text how important you and your writing is to the entire universe or at least to post-colonial New England, specifically Amherst, Massachusetts. It also shows up in those BEST OF AMERICAN SHORT STORY collections. 

Hint: If you have a foreward in your book, you may be dead.

### I will continue with this next week if I don’t get kicked out of the Writers Club of Writerness


Now, I’m going to Revision Land and when I get to page 300 I’m going to reward myself and never think about tan people rubbing basil on their bodies again.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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




Dead Butt Syndrome

People, you have got to get your butts out of the chair, or the bed, or whatever. Seriously.

Your butt is breaking! Sorry Dying. Your butt is dying!

According to a Huffington Post article by Nicole Pajer, “Americans are sitting so long that their butts are literally falling asleep. “Dead butt syndrome,” or gluteal amnesia, is a condition that occurs when your gluteus medius gets inflamed and forgets to function normally.”

Pajer’s article, ‘Dead Butt Syndrome’ Is A Real Thing. Here’s How To Tell If You Have It” was a big deal back in 2018, but I swear, we are not listening and our bottoms and our entire bodies are paying the price.

Yes, writers, I know that you’re thinking, “Isn’t the whole point of being a writer about making up imaginary worlds, sitting all day, and putting your butt in the chair?”

Spoiler:

There are a lot of writer quotes expressly about how you have to put your ‘butt in the chair’ to get your writing done.

Tangent:

Writers, there are actual books call “BUTT IN CHAIR!”

Second tangent:

Putting your butt in the chair, doesn’t make you an awesome writer. It just means you’ve put in some time with your bottom in a chair, typing. Writing is about craft, understanding humans, understanding language, and story.

Back to Butts

An article by Anthea Levi, entitled “Dead Butt Syndrome Is One More Reason You Shouldn’t Sit All Day” stresses that sitting all day isn’t good for anyone’s butt, not even a writer’s.

Sitting all day is not good for your bottom.

She quote says chiropractor Andrew Bang, who works at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

Dead butt syndrome has to do with reciprocal inhibition—the process that describes the give-and-take relationship between muscles on either side of a joint. “In general, when one muscle contracts, a nerve signal is sent to its opposing muscle to relax,” says Bang. 

Levi

Give-and-take relationships aren’t just the talk of couples therapy for writers who are having a hard time. It’s also about the body and the self. Our muscles work together but sometimes, they don’t.

When we sit down too long, our butts get out of shape. The main muscles do a lot of beneficial things and when it’s dead or not strong? Our pelvis isn’t as stable. We can get pain in our back and hips. Our knees and ankles act up.

It all can go bad.

Levi’s article talks all about the health dynamics and causes of that and you should check it out. Pajer’s article talks about the signs of dead butt syndrome.

Writer’s Tip OF THE POD

Sitting in your chair all day is putting in the time, but crafting great writing is about more than that. It’s about understanding people, story, life. It’s about living. It’s hard to live in one place, sitting down.

Keep your butt healthy, your heart healthy and your writing healthy.

Dog Tip for Life

Moving is good.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

Dead Butt Syndrome

 
 
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1X
 

Gauntlets, Last Books, and Being Poor Doesn’t Leave You

My book comes out tomorrow. It’s the last book I have under contract and I’m never sure if I’ll sell another one.

That’s a hard truth for me. But I’ve had a pretty amazing run and hopefully it will continue.

Last night I had all these anxiety dreams about picking the wrong test option at school and not being able to find the page that I’m supposed to be on.

It reminded me of this post that I had a couple of years ago about growing up poor, expectations, and helping others.

I grew up poor. 

There’s no getting around that. 

My mom tried really hard to pretend we weren’t poor. She tried to hide it from everyone, including my much older brother and sister who grew up 15 years earlier than me in a much nicer working class reality. But when I came around we were poor. 

My nana stood in food lines to get us commodity cheese because my mom wouldn’t do it herself because she was too ashamed. Credit card companies and collection agencies would call constantly. I was taught early on to lie on the phone when I answered it and say my mom wasn’t home if it wasn’t my sister or one of my aunts calling. 

We didn’t have things our neighbors had

We had a type writer, not a word processor, not a computer. Every time I had to get clothes, I’d feel full of guilt. It didn’t help when one of my older siblings taunted me for my quirky style. Goodwill sometimes makes you have a quirky style. 

In a New York Times article, David Brooks wrote of class structure and how the upper middle class is consciously and subconsciously prevents others from upward economic mobility, writing, 

“Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

American upper-middle-class culture (where the opportunities are) is now laced with cultural signifiers that are completely illegible unless you happen to have grown up in this class. They play on the normal human fear of humiliation and exclusion. Their chief message is, “You are not welcome here.”

David Brooks

There are class barriers that aren’t just about goods you own and how you show them off, but also certain ways of doing things.

Have you ever had the chance to learn to play golf? Do you listen to NPR? The right podcasts? Which food truck do you frequent? Do you have the middle-class prescribed ‘right attitude’ about things?

Who I am

As a child, we would go to my wealthy uncle and aunt’s house for gatherings with their friends. Their friends were senators and doctors, people who worked for the World Health Organization, people who helped create the measles vaccine, documentary filmmakers who headed AIDS awareness efforts. I remember looking at their fancy clothes and listening to them and being both inspired and terrified. They placed napkins in their laps. They kissed people on both cheeks. They made eye contact when they talked, and they used different forks for different parts of their dinner.

They were all kind to me. That wasn’t it. But I knew that I didn’t know how to play by their rules. 

Learning the rules

I went to a window seat that looked out on Lake Winnipesaukee. There was a bookshelf at the end of the seat and in that bookshelf was an etiquette book full of how to eat at the table, what manners were, how to write ‘thank you cards,’ exchange greetings, and so on.

It was a beautiful summer day. All the other kids were swimming and playing tag. I was reading and memorizing and trying to learn how to be like the others. 

Eventually my Aunt Maxine noticed that I was sitting there, reading. 

“Carrie. What are you doing? Go out and play, Carrie,” she said. She liked to use people’s names a lot. She also was sort of bossy in a nice way. 

I was afraid of bossy, but I also loved my aunt so I said as bravely as possible, “I’m reading.”

“Don’t you want to go swim with the other children? They’re all outside getting sun, having fun.” 

They were. They were splashing around in the water, doing cannonballs off the dock, or perfect dives. They had perfect bathing suits from L.L. Bean and every single one of them seemed to know how to play tennis and were learning golf.

She took the book from me and read the title. After a second, she sat down on the bench next to me. “What are you reading this for, Carrie?” 

And I said, “Because I want to be better.”

“Be better! That’s ridiculous. You’re wonderful as who you are.”

“I want… I want to fit in.” I looked her right in the eyes and she got it. I knew she got it. She understood all the things that I couldn’t figure out how to say. 

She handed me back the book. “I will make a deal with you. You read this for another half hour and I’ll set the kitchen timer. When it goes off, you go play with the other children and get some exercise.” 

Nodding, I thought this was okay. “But I might not finish the book.”

“You can finish it after dinner and games.” She pet me on the top of the head. “I’ll bring you the timer.” 

I was five. 

That book changed my life and so did my aunt and uncle. 

They realized that there was a social code and a way of being that wasn’t easily accessible for me no matter how hard my mom tried. I was a poor kid in a wealthy town. I was a latchkey kid who was awkward and driven and terrified of failure. Paying for acting lessons, to play on the soccer team, to play piano were huge stretches for us. Sometimes they happened. Sometimes they didn’t. 

My aunt and uncle understood my situation and my want because my uncle was the same way. He was the oldest son of a single mom. He pushed himself hard to succeed, to learn the social code of success and wealth. He went to UNH because it was the only place he could afford and he was valedictorian there, desegregating the fraternity system while he was class president. He eventually went to Harvard Law, married Maxine who had so much intellectual stock and prowess, it was just ridiculous. He ended up being the head of an international law association, head of a law firm, chairman of the board of trustees at UNH and so many other things.

Cracking the code With books

My little five-year-old self was trying to do the same things as he did. Somehow. I took the first and only step I could think of taking – reading that book, trying to crack the social codes of behavior that made his friends and him so different from my mom and me. 

I was in college when Uncle Dick was dying. 

We had all gathered for one last Thanksgiving. There were tons of people there, the same kind of brilliant, world-changing people that were there when I was five and when I was ten and when I was 15. My mother and my nana were barely able to sit still because they were so overwhelmed with Dick’s impending death. They’d have to leave the room every time someone mentioned his name. 

During dinner, Maxine called them into his bedroom with her. They stayed for about two minutes and left sobbing. 

“He’s too tired,” Maxine said at the threshold of the hallway that led to those bedrooms. “He needed them to go.”

But then, a minute later, she called for me. “Dick wants to see you, Carrie.”

I remember pointing at my chest. “Me?”

“Yes.”

“He’s not too tired?”

“No,” she said. “Not for you.” 

Not for you

There was a bit of a murmur at the table because Uncle Dick wasn’t really calling for anyone to come see him. He was barely holding on. 

She ushered me into a back bedroom that wasn’t their normal place to sleep. The wooden walls were dark because the shades were drawn. There was only one bedside light on. My uncle was thin and his breathing was so heavy. It seemed like there were a million blankets layered on top of him. 

He met my eyes as I came to his bed and sat on the edge of it, ignoring the chair.

“Everyone sits in the chair,” he rasped out.

“I wanted to be close to you.” I grabbed his hand.

“Nobody wants to be close to death.” 

“You aren’t death. You’re my uncle.” 

We were quiet.

The weight of his hand in mine seemed like nothing and everything all at once. I think he might have fallen asleep, but I sat there thinking about how beautiful he was, how elegant, how he changed systems of injustice one at a time, as best he could, how he taught himself Japanese, how to play the organ, how to be wealthy, how to fit in with an entire class of successful people that he wasn’t born into, and how he and Maxine both tried to lift other people up into that class with them. 

He opened his eyes. “Carrie, I’m throwing down the gauntlet. Will you pick it up?” 

There was only one answer. 

“Yes,” I told him. “Yes.” 

It was the last thing he said to me. He fell asleep again. We left for home. I left for college. And since then, I have spent years trying to figure out how to make my words to my uncle not be a lie. How to meet the challenge of his life so well lived.

And I know I’m not doing enough. This David Brooks article reminds me of that. It’s hard to motivate other people. Sometimes it’s hard to even motivate myself. 

I have a friend who recently said to me, “You do so much volunteering. I don’t. I can’t. I’m a selfish person. I want to make money.” 

And I didn’t know what to say. 

I still don’t. 

What is the gauntlet? It’s inclusion

I have only succeeded as much as I have because people were willing to let me read a book, to be examples of goodness, to give me the opportunity to interact with senators, opera singers, doctors who have saved thousands of lives.

Humiliation and exclusion are not what we should aspire to. Inclusion and praise are not things to be afraid of giving to other people. Enjoying other people’s successes and happiness doesn’t make you any less likely to succeed. 

The gauntlet is about being unafraid and allowing other people into your life, your heart, your communities.

Aunt Maxine and Uncle Dick told me throughout my childhood that intelligence was a privilege I was born with. It could be cultivated and expanded on, but what was the most important thing was finding a way (or many ways) of using that privilege (intelligence, class, race, gender, being physically fit, and so on) and using it to better other people’s lives, your own life, the world, not in a way that makes you a hero but in a way that makes you a friend. 

No more bubbles

Yes, we need to take care of ourselves (thus being selfish), but we also need to not live in bubbles – to see where our language and our rules, our so-called ‘cultural norms’ can be a code that even five-year-olds realize doesn’t include them. 

I don’t know how to fix this, but I know we all have to try. I was so lucky to have an Uncle Dick and Aunt Maxine. Not everyone is. And when you feel excluded because of economic, racial, gender, religious codes? How can you not hurt? 

Rotary International and the Gauntlet

I’ve tried to pick up the gauntlet by being friends, writing books, and I’ve even tried to be a politician. I’ve tried by how I raised my daughter. It doesn’t feel like enough.

Part of why I’m in Rotary International, and even why I decided to be the volunteer Public Image Chair for a huge part of Canada and the United States is because this organization of 1.2 million people is picking up the gauntlet, over and over again. From helping to eradicate polio (one vaccine and one fundraiser at a time) to building a local playground or a creating a book festival, Rotary grabs that gauntlet. The only difference is, they do it together. 

How are you picking up the gauntlet? How do you feel excluded? Included? I’d love to know. 

Being Afraid

Part of why I am so freaked out about this book that comes out tomorrow is because I’m afraid nobody will like it, that nobody will understand the lower middle-class place I write from, that nobody cares about gauntlets. And also because I’m afraid that nobody will buy it and I’ll have to find a new way to earn a living.

Because just like when I was little, I still need to deal with money and economics and how to survive as a writer/artist person in a world where that isn’t the easiest thing.

But also I’m afraid that I won’t ever do enough, that I’m not trying hard enough. Or that it’s like the nightmare I had last night and I picked the wrong test. And I’m running out of time and it’s too late to start over.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

A girl from New York. A farm boy. They’ll come together in this supernatural mystery, connected by whatever’s hiding in the woods. As townsfolk start disappearing and the attacks get ever closer, they must discover the truth before they become targets themselves. Preorder your copy of IN THE WOODS by Maine author Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel today. Preordered copies will be signed by Carrie Jones

bit.ly/jonesinthewoods

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

Paragraph

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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



My Last Rotary Club Meeting is Today

It’s my last meeting as the Bar Harbor (MDI) Rotary Club president and I’m pretty psyched and sad all at once. 

There’s nothing sweeter than being part of something bigger than yourself. Rotary gives all of us that whether we’re presidents or not. Rotary clubs transform lives for good. That’s a big mission that happens in small and large ways throughout our local community and in the world. 

One Little Club

Last week, our club donated $1,000 to the Trenton Elementary School in honor of its amazing librarian-advocate-volunteer-local to help get new books to kids next year. Books had been mostly cut out of the school budget. Books, as all Rotarians and writers and librarians know, make a huge difference in kids lives. 

When I was sad and scared and lonely, when I thought I might not survive the sorrow in my little life, when I thought I had no hope? It was stories of other girls becoming that gave me hope. Books saved me. 

Trenton’s librarian broke down when we gave her that check because she knew the money made a huge difference to the kids in her rural school. 

Making a difference

This year our club members raised money to fight polio, travelled to different countries to fit wheelchairs. We gave out scholarships, supported local nonprofits, helped fire victims in California, wrote letters and sent care packages to struggling soldiers and veterans, created an anti-bullying resource (still waiting on the video) after an amazing pro-empathy workshop led by one of our own. We made blankets for rescued shelter animals. We helped displaced families find temporary homes. We started Little Free Libraries 

And that barely scratches the surface of what one little club in rural Maine has done.  

Rotary is also about building peace. When we make friends, when we work together to solve problems, when we think about more than just ourselves, we’re actively part of the peace-building process even when we don’t realize it. We’re transforming our connections and our lives, meeting neighbors we never knew before, solidifying acquaintances into friends. 

I’ve loved being able to watch that happen this year. I can’t wait to see it happen next year under Susy Del Cid Papadopoli’s turn as our president. 

mdi marathon
mdi marathon

It’s bigger than Rotary

What you do in Rotary, how you’re involved, your passion is like what you do in life. That’s up to you, but let me remind you that If you’ve missed a bunch of meetings? We still love you and want to thank you. If you’ve had a hard year? We still love you and appreciate you. If you’ve had a love-hate relationship with the club or its members or me or the board? We still love you. 

Being in Rotary, being human, caring, promoting Rotary and talking about the good it does gives hope to people who might not have hope. It shows people that the only stories aren’t the bad ones, that there are people out there in the world, giving time, giving money, trying to do good. 

I’m so glad that Rotary International continues to exist and can create more and more good stories in a world that often feels like it’s too full of bad epics. Your kindness, your action, makes a difference whether you’re in Rotary or not. 

That’s made me a really lucky Rotary club president. I’ve gone to places I never thought I’d get to go to, visited countries, helped locally, made so many friends, built a playground, been hugged a lot.

All of those stories and experiences make my writing better, but they also make my life better. Rotary does that. It makes your life better (with your help) so that you can not only create better stories for others, but become one yourself.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

The Horror Writer’s Peanut Butter and Jelly on Fire

We are in the camper in Maine in a campground in Maine and there is a creepy man in a pop-up tent nearby and it is Maine.

Maine is where Stephen King gets inspired.

Maine is also where writers rent out their houses to make money. Cough.

So, scary thoughts are happening, people. Thoughts that can only be cured by peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are warm. Yes! WARM!

MAN VERDICT

This is not vegetarian! It’s me peanut butter.

MY VERDICT

What?!?!

DOG’S VERDICT

Peanut butter should be a condiment.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? Paragraph

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

Print Recipe
The Horror Writer's Peanut Butter and Jelly on Fire
You haven't seen scary until you grill a PBJ.
The Horror Writer's Peanut Butter and Jelly on Fire
Cuisine american
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes plus eternity in hell and stuff. No big.
Servings
undead
Ingredients
Cuisine american
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes plus eternity in hell and stuff. No big.
Servings
undead
Ingredients
The Horror Writer's Peanut Butter and Jelly on Fire
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet or griddle to 350-degrees Fahrenheit. Don't use a grill even if you're camping. Really. DO NOT USE A GRILL!
  2. Take bread. Put butter on one slide of each slice. Butter is a kind of lard, isn't it? Does this remind you of SILENCE OF THE LAMBS? Don't let it remind you.
  3. On the side the butter isn't on, spread the peanut butter. On the other slice's naked side, put the jelly. If your jelly is red, do not let that remind you of human blood. Don't let it make you even hungrier if you think of this. BE HUMAN! YOU ARE HUMAN, right?
  4. Promise this writer that you are using a griddle or a skillet because I am imagining terrifying things with peanut butter and jelly dripping on open flames. If you can promise this then go ahead and put a buttered slice on the skillet. Put the other slice on top.
  5. Look, humans. The peanut butter and jelly should be in the middle of the bread slices. Okay? NO MISTAKES HERE!
  6. Cook for about four minutes and flip that bad boy over, spank it with the spatula, and cook it four more minutes.

Guys, I’m giving up today. Here’s a video.

I was super sad last night because I felt like a failure at pretty much all aspects of life. And I felt lonely. And I felt hopeless. And I am still not completely out of this funk despite the fact that I have a lot of lovely things in my life like:

  1. People who love me
  2. Dogs
  3. A cat who tolerates me
  4. Healthy health stuff

But I was still feeling sad and like a big fail.

So, I’m trying to blog despite all this. This is my feeble attempt, a bad video of me talking. Yes, my hair is wet. Yes, I have no make-up on. Yes, I am in a camper.

That’s me.


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? Paragraph

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


LOST STORIES

So, I was cruising through some files and found an old YA story that I wrote in 2012. I’m going to post the first pages below because I’m trying to decide if I should go back and work on it or not.

Other writers out there? Do you ever stumble back on 50,000-words of forgotten stories? Or is that just me?

It makes me wonder about these lost stories, the discarded computer files, abandoned for other stories and sometimes forever forgotten.

Terrifying Things

It’s hard to share full, done books and I’m getting super freaked out about IN THE WOODS’ release in July. July is so soon!

So, this book baby in all its raw form is even scarier. Here you go, never before seen by human eyes other than mine. I hope this makes you all feel better about your drafts!

RUNNING

TODAY

“Miss?” the woman says. “You need to pay.”

            I pull some money out of the embroidered elephant wallet that I’ve had since I was five and try to make my hand not tremble. The ache behind my eyes seems to dull the store’s fluorescent lighting and make the world blurrier. “Oh. Sorry.”

            The cashier takes my money. The bills are crumpled and dog-eared. Less than twenty-four hours ago those bills were lined up in the top drawer of my dad’s bureau right next to his gun. I took that, too, even though I already had one stolen gun tucked into my belt. 

            “Thanks,” I say as the cashier hands me my change. I’ve loaded the case of water, the people food, the batteries, dog food and bedding into the cart already. It’s just the notebook and pens that are left, which seems both appropriate and symbolic somehow. 

            “Bit cold for camping,” the cashier says. She meets my eyes. She’d been avoiding them. 

            I fake smile. “Yeah. I’m hardy though.”

            “What?” Her eyes fully focus on mine now. 

            “Hardy…. I’m hardy though. You know? Tough.”

            She shakes her head and chuckles even as she starts ringing through the next person in line’s stuff. Diapers. Pepto Bismol. “I thought you said, ‘I’m Artie though.’ And I was all, ‘That’s a funny name for a girl.’ You have a good day, sweetie. Stay warm.” 

            I sort of stand there awkwardly for a second, just staring at the plastic bags of stuff in the shopping cart. I feel guilty for having to use plastic instead of canvas bags from home. I feel guilty for taking the money and the gun. I feel guilty for what I’m about to do, but I have no choice. All the moments in the last few days have ensured that I have no other choice. 

            The guy behind me clears his throat, and I apologize again for being in the way. Pushing the shopping cart, I turn it, and start heading down past the other check-out lanes towards the doors, keeping my head low so that the security cameras will only see my hat, not my face. 

            And the whole time, I’m mumbling, “Don’t remember me. Don’t remember me. Don’t me remember me.” It’s like this little mantra will make words become truth.

            And the whole time, the cart is making this funky screeching noise because one of the wheels is a little bit off its track and is scraping against the metal of the cart. 

            And the whole time, I’m praying that I am not making the worst decision in my life.  But no, I have already done that, haven’t I? Or maybe it was the best? 

            I stop the shopping cart right by the door greeter and check the closest plastic bag. The notebooks are there. That’s important. It’s more important than the batteries or the food or the water. 

            I will write it all down, old-school style, just like someone did for me. No computers, not even the ones at the public library, because then they can log your IP address. I will write it all down in the notebooks and then send it to my mom or dad and then they can decide what to do with it. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll send it to someone I don’t love so much. 

            When Mom gets home today, she’ll know that something has happened. Maybe not right away because I didn’t leave a note. Maybe she’ll call my name and head up to my bedroom looking for me and see all the clothes missing from my closet. Maybe she’ll notice when Sparty doesn’t come to the door to greet her. Maybe she’ll still be at work and she’ll get an email from the high school about my unexplained and unexcused all-day absence. Maybe she’ll just know the way moms sometimes just know things. She’ll call my dad. He will freak out because he is horrible in any sort of crisis. One of them will probably call the police and I will become a missing teenager in an official way. My face will be in newspapers and the news feeds of social networking sites. People will be upset and then most of them will forget. 

            And in a couple more days, the notebooks will come. She’ll get the mail, or maybe my dad will, and she’ll be excited because she’ll think the notebooks mean hope, that they mean that I’m still alive, and she won’t realize that what they really mean is that I am gone from them forever or at least for a good, long while. 

            The store’s automatic doors open and I push the cart out into the parking lot. November wind blows the edges of the plastic. I get to the Subaru. Caleb is there. Waiting. The same way I was waiting for him, for so long. 

            He opens the hatch in the back of the car and starts putting things inside. Sparty sits in the back seat, patiently watching the entire thing. The end of his tail wags just the smallest of bits. 

            Caleb stops loading for a second, grabs my hand in his and says, “Are you sure about this? You don’t have – ”

            I interrupt him because I don’t want to hear him say it aloud. “I’m sure. I go with you.”

            I want to fall over onto the pavement, slump against the car and weep. I want to curl my hands into fists and punch the tires, punch the bumper, punch the world for being so wrong and so unfair, but most of all I want to hug Caleb, to hold him in my arms and tell him that I will never let go. 

            So, that is what I do. 

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

I’ll be at CoeSpace in Bangor on June 7 as an artist! I know! I know! I’m hyperventilating about it already.

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale