Everyone Wants a Piece of You – Including Us Writers

We live, if we ever let ourselves to really live, to hope, to fear, to elegies of beauty and pain, terror and hate.

A woman on the street, a tourist, shepherding her family past the t-shirt shops and towards the ice cream shop said in a loud enough voice for everyone around to hear. “You can’t be too careful in this world. Everyone wants a piece of you.”

Maybe.

Or do we all want a piece of everyone?

I live in farmhouse in the middle of town across the back dirt lot of our local YMCA and in between a house under construction for about ten years and another that seems to be part of a magical landscape, blending in with boulders and spruce and grass. It’s a good place to hermit without seeming like a hermit because this world doesn’t want hermits, does it? It wants people to explode onto scenes, to reach tall and high like seedlings in the summer garden, hoping to capture the sun.

People tend to think of that want—the discovery, the authenticity, the soul-brightness—as something to hermit away from and we tend to shy down our true selves to fit in.

When the woman on the street wrapped an arm around one of her sons, he had the face of adolescent horror, eyes wide and moving back and forth to see if anyone had heard, still hoping that his connection with his mother wasn’t quite so obvious, maybe? He ducked under her arm.

I have no idea if that’s what he was thinking or if that was what his mother was thinking. But he ducked under arm and without a beat, she grabbed the hand of the other child and tugged him forward. His stride quickened, little legs trying to keep up.

The boy’s glance hit mine. I smiled. He didn’t smile back. I wanted to tell him that he was safe from me, that I didn’t want a piece of him, but here I am now, days later, writing about him, which makes me wonder, maybe I do?

Why do we notice the things we notice? Why can I remember the brown, horrified eyes of that boy?

Another kid was sitting on a bench near us with his parents watching it all. His parents were on their phones. He just sat there doing nothing for at least twenty minutes, but when he saw that other kid, he smiled like a tiny bit of encouragement and this time, that original boy smiled back.

Van Gogh allegedly once said, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Sometimes that love blossoms from a smile, a recognition, a seeing, a noticing.

Artists, writers, lovers want pieces of understanding and from that understanding (or even from the lack of it) love comes.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

How beautiful is it that writers and artists and people allow their souls to crawl out from hiding, to sprawl and lift images on canvasses and pages and in offerings of expression and sympathy as they give the world a piece of them freely. That’s a big kind of love and a big kind of trust. And it happens over and over again.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

What would you do to make a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

There Is Nothing Better than a Sexy Setting

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
There Is Nothing Better than a Sexy Setting
/

Lately, Carrie has been talking to a lot of writers that she coaches and edits about settings.

That’s because a lot of writers are blowing them off. So, she’ll read a lot of passages like this:

“Hey,” I sit at my desk, “you coming over later?”

“Yep,” Shaun says.

“Cool.”

“I thought maybe we could have some hanky-panky.”

“Okay?”

So, we know that Shaun wants to have some hanky-panky and the “I” of the story is sitting at their desk. But we don’t know what kind of desk, where that desk is, if there are other people around, or even how she or he or they are reacting to Shaun’s request for hanky-panky, right?

Setting is obviously the place where things happen, but it’s more than that, right?

Setting makes your characters real. It grounds them. It shows the reader what’s going on without saying, “Yo, reader. This is what’s going on.”

What do we mean? Well, here, let’s play with the setting of that excerpt above.

“Hey,” I sit at my desk, flipping through some tentacle porn, “you coming over later?”

The dirt-streaked wall of my cubby gives a bit with the pressure of his hand, holding him up as he leans over my shoulder. “Yep.”

Betty is just on the other side of that cubby wall and beyond her is my boss, the other workers, everyone typing on their computers, pretending to be busy reading emails, analyzing data, reading contract clauses. Liars all. The air smells of old coffee and pot, broken things, broken people.

It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.

“Cool.” That’s all I say.

Shaun clears his throat, moves lower, closer to me, my hard metal desk, standard issue. His giant elbow brushing against the wall again. His voice is a low whisper. “I thought maybe we could have some hanky-panky.”

Someone coughs. That someone is Betty. I flip the page. A tentacle is exploring places on an elf that should probably not be explored. Shaun doesn’t smell like old coffee. He smells of sandalwood and pine, like man.

“Okay,” I whisper. “Okay.”

Totally different, right?

Now we have a lot more context even if we don’t know all the details of her office, the chair, the desk. The characters aren’t floating in a void.

Here, one more example before we move on. Same dialogue again. But different setting and different feelings.

“Hey.” Holding my phone in my hand, I sit at my broad, metal work desk, give up and stand on it, pushing the papers and books about writing and being a freelance human off with my heel. They flutter to the floor. From up here, I can see everyone. Janice with the pink hair. Bob with the coffee stained shirt and no hair. Countless nameless coworkers. I raise my voice into a yell that echoes across the vast space of the office. “You coming over later?”

Bob stares up at me. His mouth gaping open. I can see his fillings. He puts a finger over his lips. I give him a finger of my own. Lights flicker overhead.

“Yep,” Shaun says.

Janice gives me a thumbs up. Beyond her, other coworkers are watching and/or pretending not to watch. The fans above them, hanging from the drop ceiling, spin around and around. My manager opens the door from his office, starts angry striding towards me.

I say, “Cool.”

Across the office, all the way in a prestigious cubby by the dirt-grimed windows, Shaun stands on his own desk and shouts, “I thought maybe we could have some hanky-panky.”

Someone giggles. The world smells of promise, lemon bleach those cleaners use. The manager stops, his bald head turning from Shaun to me to Shaun.

I hang up the phone and yell across everyone. “Okay?”

Setting can reinforce what we’re doing, add context and even tension, right? It can transform an exchange into a story. You don’t want to blow it off. You really want to make it as sexy as possible.

Tips About Setting

Don’t glob it all down in paragraph after paragraph.

Sprinkle it into the dialogue and action like salt.

Let us reiterate: Don’t overdo it.

Seriously. See that first tip up there. It’s like art in your house. You don’t put all the paintings in one room. Spread it out.

Make sure that the details you add are the ones that are important to the reader.

Use setting to add subtext.

You can say “there is a fan in the office” or you can say, “The fans above them, hanging from the drop ceiling, spin around and around.”

Boom! Now you know that they feel trapped and like they are going in circles. Cool, right?

Be weird. Be quirky. Don’t be normal.

Our readers are aware of what a desk is, right? What an office is? But it’s the weird and different things that make a scene and setting matter. Let them see the escaped gerbil running across the floor. Let them hear the sound of a coworker sucking air through their teeth nonstop. Show them the broken blind, twisted and lopsided on the window.

Show the setting as your main character sees it. The readers shouldn’t see the office until the point-of-view character sees the office. Let the setting be discovered by them simultaneously. 

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Settings make a book real. They add dimension and character. Layers. Don’t blow them off.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

A sexy setting is so important in your life. Surround yourself with dog toys and cozy blankets, twirl around around before flopping down so that you feel perfect.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

What would you do to make a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

RESOURCES

https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/news/a39179/five-real-life-horror-stories/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/07/30/canada-loose-llama-Arkell-Puslinch-Ontario/4701627667041/

Cheating On Yourself

I was once on a panel at a writing convention in Oklahoma and made fast enemies with the agent (now an editor) on the panel.

Why?

Because I disagreed.

I’m a pretty mellow human most of the time, but if you say something that I think might not allow people to ascend, to be themselves, or something full of hate? I’m terrible at being silent about that.

I mean, I’m not cable-news tv forceful, but I speak my mind.

What had the agent said?

It wasn’t anything scandalous, honestly.

She just said, “You should only write in your genre. No author is successful if they write in multiple genres. You can’t jump genres.”

And I objected and listed authors who did write successfully in multiple genres. M.T. Anderson. Anne Rice. Elizabeth Gilbert. At that moment, I had just jumped from literary young adult to genre young adult with a book that made me an international bestseller.

She wasn’t cool about me disagreeing.

I disagreed anyway. The reason that I did that is yes, it’s easier to brand and market your art or your writing and generally make more money if you only write one thing. But it’s also limiting.

If you are a person who writes erotic werewolf novels who wants to write a picture book about happy hamsters? You should do it.

Limiting our selves and our art to one specific genre or story or way of being? One specific process? One specific type of heroine or character or fight scene?

We don’t have to do that. We can cheat on our norms and even on our own (and our readers/reviewers) expectations if we want to do that.

Trying new things, cheating on your writing, your art? It can transform you. It can expand you. It can make you bigger and better and stronger and more powerful even if it’s a fail, even if nobody likes it or reads it, but you.

When we push beyond the boxes and labels that surround us (whether we give it to ourselves or others give it to us), we become interesting.

Interesting is so much more fun than dull.

Interesting is being alive, being quirky, being an explorer, being curious, being a doer.

And sometimes being interesting means being on a panel and disagreeing with a hot-shot agent and having her glare at you.

No. I’ll never work with that editor because of that interaction. Do I care? Nope. Because that editor is safe. That editor isn’t interesting. And that editor would hold me back even though people think she’s a genius. She probably is. She’s just not my kind of genius.

We all have people like her in our lives, people who keep us from being brave, trying new things. You don’t have to be a writer to know this.

However, we also do it to ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We are afraid to try. We follow other people’s paths and edicts and hope that we will be successful like them instead of forging our own way.

Here’s the thing: You will fail sometimes.

You will get rejected or hurt and it will suck. But it is worth it. Because failing means that you took a damn chance on something, on yourself, on another person. Failing means that you were brave and that you are growing and that you are exploring and it means that you’re interesting.

The interesting people are the innovators. The interesting people who go after their dreams and desires? They change the world. They move the world. They inspire the world.

So go out there. Cheat on yourself. Move on. Do you art in different ways. Do your work in different ways. Do your life in different ways. Try all the things. Be interesting. You’ve got this.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

What would you do to make a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Naughty Transitions are A Writer’s Best Friend

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Naughty Transitions are A Writer's Best Friend
/

There are certain traps us writers fall into.

  • We generalize.
  • We are too abstract.
  • We summarize.
  • We fail at transitions.

And a lot of those negative tendencies can quite easily be fixed when you think about them a bit more and learn to recognize them.

Scenes are a bit like connected shots in a movie. I think everyone from Blake Snyder to Robert Olen Butler has said this, but they’re right.

The scene is the basic element of your story. You want to stay in one point of view. Think of it like the camera lens zooming in.

In film, the shot is similar, right? You stay in one uninterrupted image for a shot. Right? Then you hook those shots together. A lot of filmmakers, like novelists, use transitions. They move us from one place to the other.

Butler defines a scene as “unified actions occurring in a single time or place.” Shots becomes scenes become sequences. There is a beginning, middle, and end to all of these. And then you can have long-shots, close-ups, super close-ups, etc.

What we want to do as writers is to use those tools as well (even in first person). We want the extreme close-up of deep POV, but then also to pull back sometimes and see the world and big-picture setting, and then to see that middle distance scene where the character is interacting.

When I write YA and adult genre, my first drafts are almost all deep POV and I have to go back in and add those wider shots, sensory details, setting.

When I write middle grade, my first drafts are almost all middle shots and long shots, and I have to go back and do those extreme close-ups and close ups and that’s okay.

What you want to do as a writer is to know where you tend to lean. Are you a big-picture, abstract, distancer? Are you she-who-is-only-into-close-ups? He who does no transitions and only black-out cuts?

And you want to layer in those elements that you don’t have for effect.

When you don’t do this, you risk one of two things. If you’re a big picture writer with that long-distance point of view, you risk never showing intimacy or immediacy.

If you’re an extreme close-up writer, you risk never showing the reader that bigger world or big picture and sometimes your story can lack setting so it’s all just talking heads and interior monologue.

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

And don’t be afraid to mix up those transitions, those movements between scenes. Sometimes they can be big cuts and scene breaks and chapter breaks, but sometimes they can be softer and gentler transitional words like –

A week later (or whenever)

At the same time

Afterwards

For two weeks/days/minutes

Meanwhile

At night

The next day

The next night

For a month, I cried into the phone

In the morning

When the sun rose

When the sun set

The following Monday/night/morning

Months passed

Weeks passed

When we got back to the office

When they got back home

As the neared the date site

Then there are the phrases that show us a change in location:

They boarded the train

Down the street

Up on the third floor of the office

Over by the water cooler

Back in my living room

The motorcycle was situated

She ran fast through the dark alley

In the hall of the hospital

Outside on my front lawn

And so on.

Sometimes though, us writers tell our readers TOO much and it ends up sounding like script or stage directions. Those are things that slow the narrative down and just read a bit awkward or stilted.

It would be a sentence like:

When I arrived at the elevator to go up to the office on the fourth floor, I pushed the button to close the door and rode it to the floor.

Or:

            They drove to the restaurant and waited in line for their table and she hummed a little bit.

Instead you just want the transition to get us there into the juicy part of the scene:

Twenty minutes later, they were sitting at their table, playing footsie under the fancy white linen tablecloth when the giant hedgehog with a man bun stormed through the wooden doors.

Places like the bad examples are not really needed because:

  1. It doesn’t really add to the story.
  2. It doesn’t really add to the character.
  3. It’s unnecessary information.

You really only want things in your story that:

  1. Show your character’s inner state/characterization/choices
  2. Move the plot forward.
  3. Set the reader in the moment

The key here is this: Don’t use the same transition every time. Don’t even use the same transition technique every time.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Mix it up. Good story is about variety. Do long shots. Close-ups. Location transitions, big cuts, fade-outs, scene transitions.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be boring in life either.

Carrie had the epiphany that she’s tried to fit in with other writers for far too long, clinging to the idea that she can’t be as weird and dorky as she is. No more, my friends. Her witch cackle is coming out.

LINKS WE MENTION IN OUR RANDOM THOUGHTS

Angel shots.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/bartender-explains-what-angel-shot-24605557

Nudist cruise.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/couples-anniversary-dinner-interrupted-nudist-24612029

Weird image on the CCTV.

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/mum-calls-priest-bless-home-24611677

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

Here’s the link. This week’s podcast is all about strange things people do for luck.

The Sixth Step of Revision? Writing Killer Scenes

Ready for step six in my Revision Series of Awesome?

Spoiler: I’m not sure how awesome it truly is. I kind of just made up that name.

For summary or recap. Imagine a montage like they do before an episode of your fave series. Imagine really big crescendos and music too, okay?

The first step was taking a breather.

The second step was doing the read-through.

The third step is really making decisions.

Step FourDeciding if your changes are huge or tiny? Start with the huge ones that impact the whole book. Fix those things.

Step Five is reading through it all again after you’ve made the changes and tweaking some thing. What? I know! I know! What a beast!

WE ARE ON STEP SIX!!! We’re so close, my friends!

Okay, now we’re onto my absolute favorite part – the scene. I love scenes SO MUCH that I’m actually teaching a course about them at the Writing Barn next fall!

So in this revision step, we look at the scene and we remember some really core and important things.

  1. Does the scene move the plot forward? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  2. Does the scene more the character forward? Are they evolving here? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  3. Does that scene have people who matter to your plot? No? Maybe cut the baby.
  4. Does it have the right point of view? No? Revise it so it does.
  5. Does it have silly, boring dialogue? Cut it.

What is silly dialogue?

It’s this.

Carrie: Hi.

Writer: Hi.

Carrie: The weather is nice.

Writer: Yep.

Carrie: I like manatees.

Writer: Yeah, okay.

Bad Dialogue by Carrie 🙂

Let’s go back to our list. Let’s make a new one!

  1. Does your scene use all the senses? Can you feel where they are? Make sure you can!
  2. Are there talking heads in the scene? Give your character tics, habits, things to do. Have them interact with the world?
  3. Is it a big info dump? Yes? Fix it! Any time that you see the word ‘dump,’ it’s usually not a good thing.
  4. Does everyone sound the same? Fix that!
  5. Does your scene have a beginning, middle, and end? It should!
  6. Does it seem like the characters only just start living the moment that you start the scene? It shouldn’t!

WHEW! I swear! I swear! You’ve got this! Your book is going to be so shiny!

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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


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

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

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

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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


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

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Do You Have To Find Your Bliss?

A woman named Maggie S. had a great post about why she sets goals on the same week that Meg Cabot had this great post about putting on your big girl panties and dealing with things.


Another writer friend, Lisa, had this post of awesome about how you should follow your bliss.

And articles about goals and finding your bliss are constantly all over Medium.

Which made me think.

Note: Me thinking is somewhat dangerous.

But it made me think about what I want out of life and I realized that I have no idea what my bliss is or how to follow it.

Yes, I am blissless!

I mean, I am not like Eeyore and looking sad and finding negatives everywhere.

Eeyore: I can’t believe you used me as an example.
Me: Sorry Eeyore.

I am a pretty happy person actually, but I have never consciously thought to myself: SET GOALS. FOLLOW YOUR BLISS. PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL UNDERWEAR.

Does anyone else not like the word ‘panties?’

I really don’t like that word. Especially when men over 72 say it.

Anyway, I just sort of live and not worry about bliss and it’s worked for me.

But now I want to have some bliss to follow. Not a Tiger Woods kind of bliss where I eschew all responsibility and just sort of follow my libido to the land of porn stars and cocktail waiters because… um… EW!

Not a politically motivated bliss where I ignore all opinions and facts outside my own bubble because also … ew.

But some sort of nice, legal, personal, without-negative ramifications bliss.

And I have to wonder… Am I the only one out there who doesn’t know exactly what her bliss is?

I sort of just find bliss all the time, in random things like Gabby my dog rolling in the snow…

Gabby: Hey! This isn’t a snow picture.
Me: You blend in with the snow in all the snow pictures.
Gabby: True. I will give you that one and add that my bliss is basically these things: squirrels, cats, squirrels, Sparty Boy (my doggy boyfriend), Cloud Kitty (my cat girlfriend), when chicken falls on the floor, car rides, belly rubs, squirrels
and the Fed Ex man with the beard, the one who gives me treats.

Sorry for the Gabby digression.

But I find my little bliss moments with her or Sparty Dog or the cats humiliating themselves by jumping on the counter and missing

best ya authors

Koko the Cat: I am going to go to sleep and pretend you did not mention that event, which should never not be mentioned, Human!

Or getting to touch a copy of DAD WITHOUT A DAD, which came in the mail.

He made this! Isn’t he talented?!?!?!

Or getting this amazing ornament from one of my other friends, Alyson.

SHE MADE IT! Isn’t she talented?!?!

Or just getting some awesome Christmas cards from amazing people like Cheryl and Akiko.

But maybe finding little bliss all the time isn’t how I should be. Maybe I should working for a big bliss, a followable bliss.


Do you all have a bliss?

Is it silly even to ponder this?


Should I just put on my big girl underwear and move on?

Or should I just be psyched that I have some amazing pets and friends and tiny blisses all around me? I think I know the answer, but what about you?


LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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


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

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Stop Giving The F-Word and Just Succeed

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Stop Giving The F-Word and Just Succeed
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The other night Shaun and I imbibed some alcohol and I declared that to not have a who-gives-a-swear-word attitude is to be compliant.

This made Shaun really happy.

I said it because I was talking about authors and politics and being afraid to say what you think because you are afraid of backlash. I’ve been listening to a lot of entrepreneurs and marketers who all preach putting your authentic self out there so that your group of supporters are supporting the real you, not some fake, shadow version that’s trying to appeal to everyone.

Shaun said “Google authors who struggled and said, ‘F-it, did a 360, and found success.”

This was hard to do, actually. There was no nice search results for that. But one thing it brought up was the infamous book called, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*&k.”

In the article of the same name (Link is in the podcast notes), Mark Manson wrote,

“Chances are you know somebody in your life who, at one time or another, did not give a f- and went on to accomplish amazing feats. Perhaps there was a time in your life where you simply did not give a f- and excelled to some extraordinary heights. I know for myself, quitting my day job in finance after only six weeks and telling my boss that I was going to start selling dating advice online ranks pretty high up there in my own “didn’t give a f-” hall of fame. Same with deciding to sell most of my possessions and move to South America. F-s given? None. Just went and did it.”

There’s a lot of stupid minutiae that we go around giving too many f’s about daily, isn’t there? And that? It drains are energy for the things that are important to care about.

Manson goes on and says, “Indeed, the ability to reserve our f-s for only the most f-worthy of situations would surely make life a hell of a lot easier. Failure would be less terrifying. Rejection less painful. Unpleasant necessities more pleasant and the unsavory s-word sandwiches a little bit more savory. I mean, if we could only give a few less f-s, or a few more consciously-directed f-s, then life would feel pretty f-ing easy.”

There are a lot of super famous authors who struggled for a bit before hitting success. Toni Morrison. Stephen King. Raymond Chandler. Margaret Atwood. Frank McCourt. Madeleine L’Engle, a much lauded children’s book author, almost stopped writing after getting a rejection on her fortieth birthday.

She is quoted as saying, “I had to write … If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing,” she claimed.

Her book, A Wrinkle in Time was rejected twenty-six times and then was a smash hit, winning the John Newbury Medal.

She stopped giving a f about it being a waste of time, feeling guilty that she wasn’t financially contributing, and did it.

Or think of someone who isn’t a writer-writer. Jay-Z tried to get a record deal from everyone in 1995. No company would sign him. He didn’t let their lack of vision or support define him. No. Instead, he didn’t give a f- about what they said and made his own record company. Then the same thing happened as he tried to make a distribution deal. He also allegedly stabbed someone at a record release party, so that might be taking the not giving a f a little too far, but seriously? The guy has done so much and become such an influence.

Still though, no stabbing.

So, how about you? What’s holding you back? What are you wasting your energy on?

Writing Tip of the Pod

What would you write if you did not give a f- about whatever is holding you back?

Dog Tip for Life

Embrace who you are and don’t give a f- about what other dogs think of you. They don’t know your story. You get to be you.


SHOUT OUT

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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


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

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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

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


And Carrie has a new book out! Yay!

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


HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.

Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

My Scary Story Is About To Be Theater!

Very soon a little ghost story that I wrote will be performed and available via the magic of the InterHell (I mean internet) via the Penobscot Theater and I’ll post about that as soon as it happens because I’m super excited about it!

But it made me think of all the random ghost stories that have happened in my life that I tend to be pretty chill about. I’ve mentioned some here, but not a ton because I don’t want to be known as CARRIE JONES, THE AUTHOR WHO HAS TOO MANY GHOST STORIES.

Anyway, the quick one I want to talk about was when Em and I were in the living room gathering up her stuff for school and the TV just switched on all by itself. Seriously. Both the remotes were in full view. Nobody was anywhere near the TV or the remotes. No cats. No dog. No humans. 

And it flipped onto this video of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley all in black and white singing a duet . I’ve embedded it here. But to make it even freakier these were the lyrics they were on:

FOR MY DARLING, I LOVE YOU AND I ALWAYS WILL. 

Writing Talk Wednesday: The Scene

The Scene

It’s this element of structure for the story. We all write them, but sometimes it seems like this overlooked aspect of our stories. I’m not sure why this is. It’s not as elemental as the word or punctuation. It’s not as long and sexy as a chapter. It’s not as easily diagramed as a sentence, right?

But it’s so important.

There’s an old book by Raymond Obstfeld called Crafting Scenes and in its first pages he has a chapter called “What a Scene Is and Isn’t.” In it, he quotes the actress Rosalind Russell who was asked what made a movie great.

She answered, “Moments.”

And Obstfeld compared that thought about movies to our thoughts about scenes. He wrote, “The more ‘moments’ a work has, the more powerful it is. Think of each memorable scene as an inner tube designed to keep the larger work afloat.”

And then there is the corollary, “The fewer memorable scenes there are, the quicker that work sinks to the depths of mediocrity.”

So What’s A Scene and How Do You Make It Memorable?

That’s the obvious question, right? A scene is usually action that happens in one setting. But it’s not always. It’s about focus. It can be ten pages or one.

Obstfeld says that a scene does the following:

            Gives reader plot-forwarding information

            Reveals character conflict

            Highlights a character by showing action or a trait

            Creates suspense.

And a memorable scene? What is that?

It’s unexpected.

What does a scene have to have?

A beginning, a middle, and an end.

And the beginning? It’s like a blind date, he says. You have to tell the reader what’s going on and not just expect her to know. It has to hook the reader in, pulling her into its clutches so she wants to keep reading.

So, authors, look at those scenes. Are you hooking people in? Do they want to keep on that journey with you?

And people, look at the scene you’re at in your life. Are you into it? Is it at a beginning place? Are you still hooked into what you’re doing, who you are? Do you want to stay this way? Are you good?

I hope you’re good, but if you aren’t? Be brave. Make changes. Think about who you want to be and what you want the scenes in your life to be like. You can do this.

Brave Thing I’m Doing

Pretty soon, I’m going to have a Teachable class all about the scene. It’s going to be pretty cheap and hopefully you’ll sign up and like it.

Continue reading “Writing Talk Wednesday: The Scene”

Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three

It’s the last of the anxiety posts and … um… I might be feeling anxious about that.

Last Monday, I posted part one of this two-part (now three-part) post which is all because one of my writing students asked: 

“Seems like a lot of us writers struggle with anxiety and low self-esteem. All I can do, apparently, is grind out a page here and there during my more lucid moments. I don’t suppose you’ve got the magic key to overcoming emotional struggles so that the writing gets done?”

Writer who I’m not going to out here because that would be horrible

I have my own way of dealing with this, but my way? It’s not everyone’s way and it’s not that writer’s way so I looked to my Facebook friends for help. 

A lot of people were super kind and gave recommendations. I’m going to share some of more of them.


Start With A Word

What I do is I take a single word, whether it’s an emotion, a description, or anything else, just the first word that comes to mind. Then I build on it. I describe the word. Find synonyms, antonyms, I write what I think that word looks like as an image. Sometimes, I might even attempt to draw it (but I don’t draw well so I usually just laugh at myself for that one). Then I’ll write associations to that word. What does it remind me of? Who does it make me think of? When did I experience it last? 

Then, if I’m still feeling blocked or stuck after this, I’ll do it with another word. And another word. There have been days where I literally only write about words like this.

Allyna Rae Storms

Make It Work for you

I put my anxiety into my work. Writing or creating (painting or making jewelry) I use my extra emotions in my work. I write my fears into my characters, or I let it out into my art work. Some of my best pieces have been created when I have been frustrated, angry, or upset. Music also helps some times. 

Jenn Duffield

Look Beyond

It’s not about you, the writer. Look beyond yourself and just tell the story.

John Scherber

The Five Minute Rule

 I give my students and myself smaller assignments. Write for Five minutes. Revise one page. Then we celebrate these small accomplishments.

Ann Angel

Don’t Let Your Head Kick Your Ass

 I got this way a few times when I wrote the first draft of a short novel not too long ago. When the head kicked my ass a bit too much and my focus went to zero, that’s when I did an outline and wrote up a big picture idea of what would be happening next in my story. Then when I felt more focused, I was able to see the trees in the forest and was able to go back and flesh out my outline. This took all the pressure off me of having to think of the details and just have fun with the overall story ideas. I’m pretty certain that without this approach, that novel would never have gotten finished and I’d still be staring at blank pages.

Rick Hipson

Acceptance

I think acceptance helps a lot with all of this. “I’m feeling anxious today. I’m going to try to write for half an hour anyway.” “I think everything I write is crap. It probably is, but I’m going to keep working on this chapter anyway.” Half an hour here, half an hour there, they add up. I use my timer a lot. “I just have to do this for half an hour and then I can be done.” Whether it’s paying bills, sweeping floors, sorting through old clothes–that method helps me get stuff done. It’s a simple method but it does the trick.

Cathy Carr

Medical Cannabis

Medical cannabis is the answer for me. Helps with the anxiety and to fall asleep at night.

Stacey O’Neale
Continue reading “Anxiety Is Us: How Can Writers Deal, Part Three”