Wednesday Writing Tips How to Hook Readers And How Not To Bore Them

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

We like stories where we can quickly identify with the main character, or at least a character, pretty early on.

Think about all the BuzzFeed quizzes that ask, “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Buffy Character Are You?” “Who Are You In The Wire?” “What Disney Princess Are You?”

It goes on and on.

We humans like to identify with characters who are in the stories we read or the video we watch. It’s like a nice pat on the back that says we aren’t alone, and it creates community.

Don’t Do This:

  1. Start with dialogue on the first line. It’s hard to care about the person speaking if you haven’t met them yet.

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

2. Tell us stuff we don’t need to know.

So, in 1870 or something like that I had this great great aunt who allegedly stepped on a nail or something, not that it matters. Although, maybe it mattered to her, but yeah. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Neither does the reader.

3. Introduce 18 characters in the first paragraphs. It’s hard to remember who is who and who is important.

As Belinda walked inside the Timberland RV Campground in Trenton, Maine she waved hello to Lincoln, son-in-law of the owner, a retired man with a name like Jack or something, and then she waved to Debbie, Lincoln’s wife, who was riding on a golf cart with Charlene. Peggy was perched on the back with a blonde child whose name I think is Jackie…

Enough said, right?

4. And finally describe things just for the sake of describing them.

Timberland RV Campground descended into a slight hill, managing to split itself across two town lines. It was Trenton in the front and Ellsworth in the back and the back was where there were no trees surrounding the sites, just pull-in places for the giant RVs and motorhomes and campers and busses. I have no idea which is which. I’d never been in a campground before, but they had hook-ups at some of the sites for water and sewer, or just one, and electricity. There were metal fire rings and some people had fancied up their sites with flowers and decks and lobster buoys because… Maine.

 

You can find the other posts in this series by searching the hookingreaderstag.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date was yesterday, August 7!

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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

Moe Berg

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. That’s tonight!

She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

Advertisements

How To Make People Keep Reading Part Two

Last week, I talked about how I was going to be diving into revisions and sharing the path I’m taking via hints.

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Make People Wonder

Not knowing what is going to happen is a big deal when someone is reading the story. Make them wonder what might happen.

One method to do this is to not tell them everything right off. Give some elements of what is happening, but not all.

So, in the NEED series, I have the main character see a man in the woods at the side of the road and also pointing at her plane as it takes off. The reader thinks: Wait. Who the heck is that man?

In Harr Potter, J.K. Rowling, introduces the Bo Who Lived, but what did he live through and how? The reader wonders and reads to find out…

Make them freaking worried

The reader needs to care about the character. We want Mr. Potter and Ron and Hermione to survive because those kids are lovable, but we also are worried that survival might not be an option. The stakes are high and those magical? These babies aren’t superheroes. Death is possible. Near death happens all the time. We obsess that the trio might not survive.

That’s a hook.

That high stakes conflict coupled with imperfect heroes who tr so hard? That’s the ke

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for July

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Appearance

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

 

 

 

Mommy Fears (in Honor of the Emster)

In honor of the Emster being home on leave this week, I’ve conjured up this old blog post about my mommy fears and her innate Emster capabilities.

What I find interesting about this is: 

  1. How openly neurotic I have always been.

  2. How she has always been kick-butt.

 

Here you go: 

Okay. You know how when you’re a mom you have these certain levels of fear when it comes to your kid? Well, most moms do. Sorry to all you people who are not moms or aren’t neurotic. You will probably be bored with this blog post.

 So there’s the deepest level of Mom Fear, which is that:

1. Your child will be kidnapped on an airplane like in that Jodi Foster movie where she ends up blowing up the airplane in a feat of total mom awesomeness.
2. Your child will be assaulted or violated.
3. Your child will be murdered/seriously injured or threatened to be like in that Denzel Washington movie where he’s the bodyguard but he might as well be the dad because he is so amazing to Pita and she even names her teddy bear after him.
4. Your child will marry a ghoul:

Mommy Fears-2
Please do not marry him, Em, at least not when he’s like this.

But then I have what I call the Secondary Level of Mom Fear, which includes:

My child will starve because I have no income.

My child will become a heroin addict because I suck, etc…

My child will become a monster full of hate.

But also on this Mom fear level is this one:

My child will get on the wrong airplane at the airport.

And yep… It happened.

So the Emster was done with this super cool Fresh Film Program in New York City (thanks to amazing author and human Saundra Mitchell) and she was flying home to Maine. Em did everything right:

1. She got a car and had money to pay it. She got in the car at 8 a.m.
2. She told the driver she wanted to go to US Airways at Laguardia Airport.
3. She buckled her seat belt. Gold star, Em! Gold star!

But then things went wrong. There was an accident. Traffic stalled. She was stuck there for about an hour. But finally they move again. The driver drops her off at the airport, but wait — He drops her off at the United terminal. Em realizes this once she gets inside. She asks for help. Twice. She runs to the shuttle for the other terminal. The shuttle bus doors have just closed. She looks hopeless.

Em is the one smiling with teeth. 😉

Hopeless doesn’t work. So, instead she goes into Looking Cute mode. The shuttle bus doors magically open.  She asks the driver for help. He tells her to hop on. She does. There are a MILLION stops. They get to the terminal. She goes to the kiosk to get her boarding pass but she doesn’t have a credit card and can’t pay the $20 for her luggage. Someone else helps. She gives them cash. They don’t even make her weigh her suitcase. Score! (Note: Shoes are heavy. Em likes shoes).

She finds the Security Screening. She goes through. She finds her gate. It is 9:30. Her plane is supposed to leave at 10. There is nobody milling around like normal. Em being the astute little camper that she is, goes to the woman at the little podium/counter thing and asks if this is the gate for the Bangor, Maine flight.

Woman: That flight is closed.

Em: !!!!!

She decides to look cute again.

 Em is still the same one.

Woman (speaks into walkie-talkie): MUMBLE MUMBLE.

Em: ?????!!!!

Woman (to Em):
Okay. You can go out. The plane is on the tarmac.

They let her through the doors. She rushes to the airplane, climbs up the stairs, gets on, looks at her ticket and then says to the flight attendant:
Is this the plane to Bangor, Maine?
Flight attendant person: No. This is the plane to Buffalo.

Em:

Flight attendant person:
The Bangor plane is behind us, I think.

Em runs down the stairs, across the tarmac and towards a plane that was completely obscured by the Buffalo plane. She drops things on the tarmac. She picks things up. She runs. She scrambles up the flight of stairs and says, “Is this the plane to Bangor?”

It is.

But wait!

Her seat is gone. They have given it away because she is late.

“NO!!!!!!!!” Em screams.

But they let her sit in the exit row all by herself. She buckles up and makes it. Nobody kidnaps her. She does not fly to Buffalo. She flies home.

She is amazing.

And cute.

And resourceful as heck.

Me: You will write about this some day.

Em: I have already lived it once; I do not want to live it again.

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie

Writers, Go With Your Gut and Bring Out the Big Emotion

A lot of the times that Carrie works with writers, she notices that they are pulling back from the emotion that is happening in the story. Instead of allowing the reader to feel the terror of being kidnapped or the anxiety of moving to a new place or the desperate sorrow of losing a loved one, the writer skims over these emotional times with a simple moment of telling like, “John was sad that his dog died.” Or worse. “The dog died. John went to school.”

These are lost opportunities. They are also places where the story goes flat or in writer speak, “fails to resonate.”

A lot of writers, especially children’s book writers, are kind people and by default they don’t want to hurt their characters or dwell in any negative emotions. They are trying to protect their characters and the readers.

But those good intentions don’t actually help anyone.

The real world has pain. Our stories have pain, too.

We have to learn to deal with hardships. Our characters do, too.

And the emotion of stories, the ups and downs, are the ride that our readers are signing up for. They want to feel with us, be transported into others’ lives.

For example, Harry Potter had hardship after hardship and so did his friends. J.K. Rowling didn’t shy away from the hard emotions and hard times. She’d add in beats, moments of dwelling in those big moments of joy and sorrow. What Harry felt, the reader felt.

The premise of your story needs to do this, too. It has to have an emotional hook that makes you wonder and care right away. Again, think of Harry Potter – the story of the boy who lived, a lonely orphan who must overcome the evil wizard who killed his parents. Just thinking about the premise fills you with thoughts and wonder and worry and so many questions. The emotional stakes are so high.

Dog Tip For Life

Embrace your emotions. Think about what makes you snarl, yelp, wag your tail. Go after the ball. Go after the moments that make you feel good.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Um… again… embrace your emotions. Don’t be afraid to express real emotion. It feels safer to hide your emotion, but passion makes better life and better stories. Be passionate about what you’re writing and about how your living.

Dogs are Smarter Than People

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Shout-Out

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

Writers, Go With Your Gut and Bring Out the Big Emotion

 
 
00:00 / 00:24:27
 
1X
 

What’s Awesome? You’re Awesome & So Is Your Premise!

The week has begun and that means… that often means that we’re feeling a little rundown and overwhelmed by the thought of …. Monday. But you know what? You’ve got this. I believe in you. You can take this Monday and make a difference. You can.

And if you are a writer, you can take this Monday and make a difference in your story by doing one thing:

My Post-61

 

Thinking about what your story’s premise.

What’s a premise?

It’s what your story is about. It’s the powerful building block that all your choices and all your characters’ choices are propelled from.

Agent and author Donald Maas suggests that to figure out what you want your story to be about, think about your favorite three books. The ones that you remember lines from. The ones that you fell in love with. The ones that you didn’t just read, but you experienced.

For me, those favorite books are (NO JUDGING):

Illusions, by Richard Bach

A Ring of Endless Light, by Madeline L’Engle

She had Some Horses, by Joy Harjo

 

What do these books have in common is the first question you should ask.

For me?

I read all of these books when I was little (under 12) and they all had spiritual aspects.

Those books became part of who I am, part of the make-up of me, my belief systems, my loves.

Your favorite books are like that for you, too.

What’s super interesting to me is that these novels (and probably your own top picks) all have something in common – the author is trying to make us understand, believe, or feel. Bach was trying to tell us that we all have potential to be messiahs. L’Engle tells us about significance and the significance of the universe and Harjo who wrote in her introduction, “It’s not about what the poem means. It’s ‘how’ the poem means.”

How do you mean?

How do you understand?

How does your story?

 

When you write your story, you will do this, too.

 

Think about what you’re passionate about. How does that relate to the story that you’re working on? How does that relate to the life you’re working on? How are you passionate? How are you living that passion?

We write our truths out into the world and it’s important for us to live those truths as well. So, find your premise. What is your story about? What is your life about?  But even more importantly – how is your life about?

 

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

 

Dealing With Failures, Quick Tips, Part Three

About 10 days ago, I posted on Facebook (Yes. I am still on Facebook. Don’t judge) about feeling like a failure.

It wasn’t a big depression or anything clinical, although a lot of people thought it was. It was more like a transitory moment caused by a career thing.

I actually bounce back pretty quickly from this stuff (the tiny glitches in life), but I know that everyone doesn’t and when I feel badly – Whew. I do feeling badly really well.

IMG_4811

Sparty Dog is my objective correlative here. 

One of the ways I deal with my own suckitude and my own sadness is that I try to figure out how to use my experience to help other people. I think my theory is, “If you are going to feel bad, do it for the better good.”

So, I posted about it. And I asked for tips about how people deal with those moments in their own lives, when they feel like they suck, like they are on the wrong path, when they are down.

So many people helped. So many people were beautifully willing to offer advice, and moments of their own lives.

It was awe inspiring honestly because they were just doing that because they wanted to help.

That’s a big deal.

They wanted to help.

They took the time to think and type and respond.

We are constantly barraged by bad news, by evil deeds, by acts that lack humanity and civility, and knowing about these things, these flaws in our society is important. But it’s also important to remember that so many people commit acts of kindness every day.

Always,  I’ve posted some of their advice here and here.

I’ve also posted it on our podcast and here.

But here are some more tidbits and advice and tips on how to feel better when you are having some down moments.

Just put one foot in front of the other and keep on keeping on. Help somebody else to.get out of your own smog. Pray. Ask for help and accept it gratefully. Reciprocate when you can. Don’t but telemarketed travel packages. (Trust me on this one.) Jeanne Bracken

My company uses the terms “fail forward” that I really enjoy. It’s essentially saying it’s okay to fail. We all do it. But you should try to fail forward and learn from your mistakes. Move past it by addressing it, resolving it and growing as an individual. – Michelle Ivall

And Matt Baya shared this fantastic infographic that he found on line.

35050982_10156569606754874_9162867252008058880_n

Failing is hard. We try to remember that it’s about the journey, about the joy of doing and existing and not about outside metrics of what it is to have ‘success,’ but sometimes even the most balanced of us falter. That’s okay. You’re okay.

 

Writing News

I’m super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

Timestoppers3_005

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out her website.

And if you just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball
Moe Berg

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There will be a new episode tomorrow! Yay!

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Professors I Have Hated and Loved

I only hated two professors in college. One because he was misogynist buttface who only liked guys and was openly derisive about women being incapable of creating art because we were busy “focusing on making babies.” I walked out of his class after yelling at him for a good three minutes.

Most people think I am mellow. I am not mellow. Sometimes, I have no chill. This was one of those times.

I was the only woman in that class. My boyfriend was in that class. Two other guys were in that class.  Nobody else walked out. Just me.

The other professor taught poetry and liked to tell students that they weren’t real enough or raw enough. She wanted pain. She wanted authenticity. She wanted confessional poetry and most of us just sort of wanted to write about white baseball caps, rainbows, and dolphins.

In retrospect, I sort of feel badly for her because I probably would have gotten frustrated about all those poems about white baseball caps, rainbows, and dolphins, too.

But still. It was what we were right then, a lot of us – baseball caps, rainbows, dolphins.

And the rest of the professors? They were amazing. I had really great professors in theater and poetry even though I was a political science major.

Here’s a letter I wrote to one of them recently when he retired from teaching. I was thinking about this a lot after I reposted my Seamus Heaney blog. 

Dear Professor Farnsworth,

I don’t think you will remember me, but I will always remember you because you, your class, and poetry helped save me in a time of my life when salvation seemed highly unlikely.

I spent most of my time at college sick with seizures caused by an Epstein Barr virus that had attacked my brain. I spent most of my time wondering who I was, how I could fit in, and what my voice could possibly be when my broken brain was no longer my own.

You helped me reclaim my voice, but more than that? You helped me expand it.

I was not much of a poet.

I am still not much of a poet.

And you?

You had such a voice.

Resonant, understanding, persistent, encouraging.

You read my poems, all our poems – even the ones about vampires, and taught us that even if we didn’t know our voice right then, our voice would find us if we gave it space and attention.

Space and attention.

Space and attention and intention.

Those very same things that you gave to us.

You are one of the best teachers we could ever know.

You taught us to build up ourselves and our poems, to construct our stories and our voice, piece by piece, word by word, symbol by beautiful symbol. You taught us to craft our poems and our lives with patience and love and strength.

Patience.

Love.

Strength.

Add insight? And that is what you, Robert Farnsworth, represent to me. Patience. Love. Strength. Insight.

Your legacy?

Your legacy is huge and important and ripples into so many other lives? So many lives…

You have helped us to become.

Thank you. May your next stanza of becoming be as beautiful as this one has been.

Timestoppers3_005

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life. Send it.

WRITING NEWS

 I am super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.  And honestly, if you want to help me feel less stressed about failure and the writing world, leaving a review for the books and buying them? That is the best thing you can do for me.

Anyway…

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

 

“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” –  BCCB

 

“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” –  Booklist

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

writing tips life tips carrie jones books

Finding Direction. Facing Failure.

Editor Cheryl Klein talked about reading writer Dave Eggers’ interview in Harper Magazine. She talked about it during a time in her life where she felt like she was in a fog and had no direction. It was right after college. For those of us in the kid book world, it’s super hard to imagine someone as amazing as Cheryl lacking focus and direction. She graciously sent me her commencement speech where she details this and it was – It was eye opening. And comforting.

In the article Klein referenced, Eggers basically said he just said yes to possibilities and opportunities. According to Klein, he said, “There is only saying yes to opportunities whenever they come—Trying whatever makes your world larger, your experience greater, your life better— Sometimes just for the pleasure of trying new things, of saying yes.”

This is something Carrie tells kids at almost every single school visit that she does.

She talks about improv and tells them to just say yes to ideas and adventures. She is always asked for advice on how to be a writer and she always says, “Gulp up experiences. Live the biggest life you can live.”

The center of attention in your life? What is it?

What is it that you want to do? To be? It’s easy to feel superfluous, but you are not superfluous and when you understand your life’s work? That helps.

A lot of people tell you to find and/or refine your purpose  by making a sentence:

YOUR NAME + WHAT YOU DO + WHO YOU DO IT FOR +WHY YOU DO IT

So, Carrie’s would be:

I’m Carrie Jones and I write stories about kindness and bravery and connection for kids because they deserve those sort of stories to become the best humans they can be. and to feel less alone

Or that’s what she thought it would be until last week when she had a little bit of a crisis.

And her life’s mission statement became sort of –

I am Carrie Jones and I write things for somebody because I don’t know how not to write and I’m sort of expected to so yeah. Wow. This sucks. 

On Carrie’s Facebook page last week, she asked people what they do when they’ve had a fail moment and can’t quite get over it, how do they find their way again?

One wonderful person, Rhonda Parrish, said this, “I got a tattoo. Right on my hand where I can see it all the time. It says, “Fail Better.”  Because I have often felt like a failure in the past, and I know I’ll feel that way in the future as well — but I don’t want fear of that feeling to stop me from doing things. The tattoo is there to remind me that not succeeding at something is not failure, but not trying it in the first place might be. And also that failing once doesn’t always equal failure. I can always try again. And again. And again. It helps. It puts my neurosis right there on my hand for everyone in the world to see LOL But it helps.”

And then she used this quote:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

When you know that there are possibilities, when you remember one moment doesn’t forever define you, when you say yes to adventure, when you tattoo reminders? All of that… Every bit of it… It can help.

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

Dog Tip for Life

You don’t need to look at yourself. You need to look for yourself – for revelation rather than reassurance.

Writer Tip of the Pod

Be yourself when you write. Don’t try to be John Green or J.K. Rowling. Be you. Write like you.

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

writing tips life tips carrie jones books

Finding Direction. Facing Failure.

 
 
00:00 / 00:23:00
 
1X
 

Dealing With Failure – Part One

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

This week I failed at something in a business way and …. Well, it shook me.

To be fair, I am pretty raw and frayed right this second and my resilience isn’t at its peak. But for whatever reason, it shook me a lot.

I cried.

I didn’t wallow, but wow. I really wanted to wallow.

Instead, I posted on Facebook and asked people what they do when they feel like they’ve failed, when they are shook, when they are sad. How do they work their way out of it?

Note: My post wasn’t asking about depression, but a lot of people answered as if it was and those answers? They helped other people reading the post. That’s a big deal. And I am thankful for it.

People are giving. People want to help

I love that people were so incredibly willing to share their strategies for when they feel pointless, when failure seems too large. And I’m going to have a series of posts where I share these strategies because that’s the cool thing.

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

People want to help other people feel better, get through it. Remembering that matters, especially when you feel like you’re being annoying by not being perfectly happy. Nobody is always perfectly happy.

My friends’ and readers’ advice was beautifully varied, which only made it better because you could see the similarities and trends and differences in people’s coping mechanisms.

Some of those coping mechanisms involved apps.

“I’ve been there too this week if it makes you feel any better. My tips are to be gentle with yourself. Maybe take a long walk. I’ve downloaded a meditation app to my phone called Mind Space, and that helps me. A hot shower, some comfy pajamas and a cozy book. I like Rosemund Pilcher because she’s sort of soothing.” – Shannon Hitchcock, author

And another app was really popular. It’s called Calm.

“I use the app called Calm. It’s amazing and helps me with my insomnia and my anxiety. It’s got music and stories that help me relax and not stress out as much. It’s so awesome.” – Lindsey Schultz, photographer

 

And there with other people who deliberately moved their brains’ focus via distractions that were sound-based (like an app, but not), which was super interesting to me.

“I’m prone to having that feel like a failure reaction you describe. I turn on the tv or something that shuts my brain down for a couple of hours. That helps and It sounds ridiculous but I’ve noticed listening to people laughing on tv helps even if I’m not paying attention.” – Trish Madell, author

This sort of distraction and laughter is actually a thing that is often used to help with anxiety and depression. Yes! Yes! I know the trite saying that “laughter is the medicine” but there is truth behind that.

Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins battle stress and make our immune systems tougher. Laughter connects us with others and makes us feel less alone. Laughter uses your brain’s whole cortex.

And for us creative people, humor actually makes us more innovative, we’re more apt to improv and make leaps in our thinking. How cool is that?

Do something that makes you laugh. For whatever reason, I always laugh at America’s funniest home videos. This seems stupid, and it’s a little embarrassing to even admit, but no matter how shitty I’m feeling, if I watch enough of them, I’ll laugh and pull myself out of the heaviness of the feeling of failure. On the other hand, I’ve learned to grieve some of my failures. Losing a book contract, for me, felt like such a failure. I tried so hard not to grieve it–to push through–but sometimes we need to grieve the loss and acknowledge the sadness. I’ve even had a friend send me a sympathy card for a book loss because it’s a valid loss, something worth crying about. Not every failure is, but sometimes I think we are too quick to assume we don’t deserve to feel bad.- Jody Sparks, author

So, for my first post in this series, here are the tips that came from my brilliant friends and readers

  1. Find a good app that makes you calm. Use it.
  2. Find the funny. Watch tv. Listen to laugher.

But what both of these things do is that they create a feeling of control.

When you turn on that app and use it to feel better? You are making the choice to feel better.

When you decide to watch something funny to feel better? You are making the choice again. You feel like you are in control, which is so incredibly different than feeling like a failure, isn’t it?

Writing News

I am super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.  And honestly, if you want to help me feel less stressed about failure and the writing world, leaving a review for the books and buying them? That is the best thing you can do for me.

Anyway…

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

 

“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” –  BCCB

 

“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” –  Booklist

 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

 

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

 

 

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

writing tips life tips carrie jones books
carrie jones books

Writing Heroes That Don’t Suck – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Who do you root for?

In your own life, this question is easy. We root for ourselves. A lot of the time we root for our friends, our family. We almost always root for the dog. I mean, even in Cujo, the horror-novel by Stephen King where the dog is killing everyone? A lot of us still root for the dog.

But when we write books?

We want to root for the hero. The hero is who we like. The hero is who we admire.

Sometimes though, that’s sort of hard.

There are moments in Harry Potter where we’re rooting for Hermione more than Harry because Harry’s being a butt face, stubborn, sulky and insolent.

But Harry’s a better hero because of that. We can relate to him and find hope in our own hero potential because he is imperfect. If imperfect people can be heroes, so can we.

So can we.

Here’s the truth.

Heroes aren’t perfect. Not in real life. Not in books. And a lot of the time people don’t identify with heroes that are too perfect like Captain America or Superman because their goodness seems so impossible. They’ll prefer Iron Man or Batman because they are flawed and moody or temperamental and snarky. It’s easier to relate to that lack of perfection.

This is not true for Carrie obviously. She’s all Cap all the time because she can relate to being imperfect because of her own self righteousness and savior complexes more than being imperfect because she’s moody, sulky snark. It’s kind of a problem, honestly.

But back to the point. Your hero probably shouldn’t be perfect. Perfection is kind of annoying.

HOW DO YOU WRITE A  HERO WHO ISN’T TYPICAL OR BASICALLY DOESN’T SUCK?

The same way you write everyone else.

Listen

Listen to people other than yourself, how they talk, how they think. Use your empathy to understand their character and then steal some of those traits and motivations for your own hero.

Tweak

Tweak the trope. Sure you have archetypes of messiahs/warriors/matriarchs/mystics, but go beyond the trope when you’re making your hero. She might be like Xena the Warrior Princess, but she can have a goofy Whose That Girl side like Jess. Give your ‘mystic’ trope a ‘matriarch’ profession like a lawyer or judge.

 

Think

Think about your own heroes – the ones in real life. What do they do that isn’t all that heroic? Talk with their mouth full? Wipe their boogers on the edge of the seat of the car? Use that.

carrie-jones-you-know-life-fractures-us-all-into-quote-on-storemypic-5c727

Dog Tip For Life

When you let go of your need to be the perfect puppy all the time, you get to chill out a little bit more. Chilling out is good for your heart.

Writing Tip of the Cast

We all want to be perfect. We aren’t. Our heroes shouldn’t be either.

Here’s the link to this week’s podcast all about this! And more…

 

 

WRITING NEWS

Carrie’s back from Book Expo America and super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

xo

Shaun and Carrie, Sparty, Gabby and Marsie (the honorary cat-dog)

Dogs are Smarter Than People the podcast
Gabby is not a perfect dog

We love her any way.