Ghosties, Ghoulies, and Things That Go Bump in the Night

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Ghosties, Ghoulies, and Things That Go Bump in the Night
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On this week’s LOVING THE STRANGE, we talk about:

  1. Shaun’s criminal past as a Florida man
  2. A ghost in Bar Harbor
  3. How you should check your facts before printing your ghost story
  4. How you can use ghosts to your advantage to scare the children
  5. How jump scares keep you alive.
  6. A haunted Elsa doll.

RESOURCES AND WORKS CITED

https://www.yourtango.com/2015276237/8-weird-reasons-weirdos-are-the-best-people-to-love

https://q1065.fm/have-you-seen-acadias-ghost-cat/

https://www.ranker.com/list/maine-creepy-stories-legends/isadora-teich

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Claw Your Way Out

Success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

You ever have one of those days where you wake up, claw your way out of bed to start your day and after five minutes the only thing you really want to do is go right back to bed?

As I write this I have been awake for approximately one hour and fifty minutes and returning to the sleeping realm still seems to be the only thing my brain can concentrate on.

But, I have work to do, work outside of and away from the house and my beloved wife, Carrie, is counting on me completing my Thursday assignment of authoring a blog post.

I never want to let Carrie down, so regardless of what my brain is telling me I have sat down in front of my computer and started to type. Why would I torment myself this way, you may ask.

The answer is simple.

We all have responsibilities, usually to many people who are counting on us to get one or more things accomplished and usually within a certain frame of time.

The only way to get anything done is, simply put, just start doing it!

If you never start, it will never get completed.

Not only do you need to start, you need to persevere, come back to it if you have to take a break, but never stop doing it or it will always go unfinished.

That includes writing.

Maybe you don’t feel like writing on a given day, maybe you are experiencing writer’s block or maybe you have a long ago forgotten unfinished work.

Whatever it is, you need to sit down and just start!

Just put words on paper or screen and let them flow forth from you. They don’t have to be perfect, nothing is the first time around, but pretty soon you will have a much increased word count.

As you write you may even have an epiphany, a new idea or path for your story to take. Some of the best ideas come from just letting whatever thoughts and words ooze out of your noggin.

After you have logged a few paragraphs or pages, you can go back, reread your beautiful work, do a little editing (because you were just going with the flow the first time around) and most times you will find that there is something within that dribble that you can really use. It may require a little tightening up, a little changing around, but it’s there, a story, or at least the bones of one.

As you complete this sequence, hopefully you will find yourself getting into the process more, your body feeling more awake and excited about the drudgery that you had no interest in even beginning a short while ago.

Now, I realize that we have all read or heard this advice before. I am simply reminding you of it.

Sometimes we need reminders about the tiniest and most simplistic of ways to fool ourselves into doing something we don’t want to. We all forget and we all make excuses, but success doesn’t ride on the coattails of forgetfulness or excuses. It rides on doing and getting things done!

YOU can do it, just start, go grab your dreams and don’t forget to love your way through it!

Shaun

Shaun clawing his way into a hat.

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Literary Agents Behaving Badly

We aren’t going to call out agents here because that’s not what we’re about, but here are myths about agents that new authors really need to understand:

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Literary Agents Behaving Badly
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So, there’s a lot of scuttlebutt in the children’s book world about agents behaving badly, which sounds like a Spring Fling Road Trip kind of thing, honestly.

But it’s more about agents being dicks and unprofessional. One recent superstar agent has been outed for allegedly “no longer agenting ethically” and not telling clients about their foreign rights, submissions, and speaking badly about authors to other industry professionals or being sexually harassing, bigoted, racists schmucks.

There’s a weird power dynamic that happens between traditionally published authors and their agents. The agents are really gatekeepers to the industry even if they don’t want to be, and it’s good for writers to remember that they can expect to not be treated like crap.

Things you don’t want your agent to:

  1. Ghost you.
  2. Be such a tool that most editors don’t want to work with them.
  3. Give you hives.
  4. Not telling who your book is being submitted to.
  5. Sexual harass you, be racist, be too burnt out or wigged out on drugs or alcohol that they don’t represent you well.
  6. Be too busy that they don’t represent you well.

We aren’t going to call out agents here because that’s not what we’re about, but here are myths about agents that new authors really need to understand:

  1. They work for you. You don’t work for them.
  2. They are human not gods. Be gentle with them, but expect them to be professional.
  3. Though it’s awesome when they are, it’s not their job to be your bestie.
  4. They may not be your agent for life.

So what is their job?

  1. Get book contracts for you.
  2. Negotiate those contracts for you.
  3. Submit your manuscripts to get those contracts.
  4. Protect your interests.

Doing all this they should always:

  1. Respond in a timely fashion to your inquiries. But don’t be a punk and spam them.
  2. Tell you where they are submitting your stories.
  3. Tell you when your stories are rejected or accepted and relay feedback.

When you look for an agent, you want to:

  1. Research the hell out of everyone and find your top ten. Make sure they actually represent the kind of book you’re writing.
  2. Check to make sure they aren’t villains.
  3. Check the proper way to submit to them.
  4. Query them in a professional way.

Writers Beware is an awesome site for understanding what agents should or shouldn’t do. The link is here and in our podcast notes. You should check it out.

Writing Tip of The Pod

Don’t be a schmuck. Don’t let your agent be a schumck.

Dog Tip for Life

 When you look for treats, make sure to give them to everyone.

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 loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Why Do You Write?

A few years ago in our Vermont College MFA blog, someone wrote about why they write when they know they’ll never get enough money to pay bills, etc….

Her reasons were interesting and somewhat inspiring, but had nothing to do with why I write.

Making Sense

I write to make sense of things, because I want to believe that lives are part of a bigger picture, a bigger connection, and because it’s the only way I can dig deep into the meaning of the stuff that goes on.

I guess I think of all writing like a poem, a way to get to the universal through the specific.

That same time as the Vermont College blog, two people I knew and liked died. One was a little, old lady named Mrs. Blanche Clark who used to live next door to me.

On 9/11 she and her husband and all the neighborhood families gathered outside with candles. She had a lung disease and couldn’t be near the candles and she kept moving so she could be down wind. She wanted so badly to be there and she was. She was beautiful.

The other person, was a boy really, Benny . He was in his early 20s. He used to be a high school star athlete, got addicted to heroin, then recovered, straightened out and got engaged, got religion, got a lot of things really.

He was a spark plug boy, always lighting up rooms. His dad works at an assisted living center on the third shift. Benny was keeping him company until 2 a.m. and then headed home.

He hadn’t put his seatbelt on yet, just turned out of the center onto the main road when a lady with a super high blood alcohol content smashed into him. His body was in the backseat when the firefighters came and cut him out. I hate that. I hate the thought that his body went backwards when Benny had finally gotten his life to go forwards.

Sometimes Things Don’t Make Sense

I can’t make super sense of it all. But that’s why I write. Because I’m trying to, I guess. Although, then I write such stupid things occasionally like Children’s Author Picture Book Porn Collaborative Workshop, that maybe that isn’t the reason I write at all.

Why do you guys write?


Fun? Spite? Boredom? Love? Because you are chained to your laptop? Because someone once told you that you were a good writer (and I am sure you are)?

Why?


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

Keep Your Cat Out Of Tinder and Other Sucky Advice

Generalizations can be so inspiring and they can have truth in them for some people and sometimes even for most people, but they’re never going to work for everyone.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Keep Your Cat Out Of Tinder and Other Sucky Advice
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In our Random Thought section of the podcast (Notes not transcribed), we talk about how straight men aren’t supposed to let the world know they like/have cats on social media. Shaun has thoughts.


The rest of the podcast follows.

Every weekday Carrie posts on her personal Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Linkedin, inspiring quotes from our dogs and cats.

Sometimes they are just about bacon and naps because bacon and naps can be inspiring.

But it made us think of famous writing quotes and whether or not they are kind of b.s. And how very privileged some quotes are.

Like Marianne Williamson, who we are sure is an incredibly lovely person wrote this:

“Nothing binds you except your thoughts, nothing limits you except your fear; and nothing controls you except your beliefs.”

Which is lovely and partially true, but it comes from the perspective of a really lucky person who is white, who is good looking, who had a lot of advantages as a white American, right? It’s hard to say nothing binds you except your thoughts to a political prisoner who is legit in chains, to a Black man or woman in the U.S. who is jail for pot, for someone who has paralyzing fear because of trauma that’s happened to her or him or them, right?

Generalizations can be so inspiring and they can have truth in them for some people and sometimes even for most people, but it’s never going to work for everyone.

Writing advice and quotes are like that, too.

Like even the most amazing Ray Bradbury wrote

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”

That’s a good quote, right? Us writers are easily destroyed. But being drunk on anything all the time usually means for most of us that we’re not helping create a solution to problems. Instead, we’re being drunk, putting lampshades on our head and saying, “Nah. Nah. Nah. I can’t hear you.”

It’s not the best look, really.

But sometimes the advice is pretty cool.

“Be strategic and resilient in the pursuit of your dreams. That sounds like a cheesy quote, right? But nah, I’m serious. Resilience is one hell of a quality to master and not many have the skin for it.” —Tiffany D. Jackson

“People are going to judge you all the time no matter what you do. . . . Don’t worry about other people. Worry about you.” —Jacqueline Woodson

 “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” — Henry David Thoreau

“Write what should not be forgotten.” — Isabel Allende

“Healing begins where the wound was made.” -Alice Walker (The Way Forward Is with a Broken Heart)

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Blow off the b.s. And realize where it’s coming from. Sometimes it’s coming from people whose lives and brains are nothing like yours and sometimes it’s just coming from people who want to make a butt ton of money selling their advice to you.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Cats are okay. They’re good to snuggle with, too.

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 loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.

best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

What Makes Someone Great? Sometimes It’s Just Love

hat’s the way love should be. It should be something that solids you up, that makes you throw your arms open, makes your eyes sparkle, something that spreads and spreads and stays in the present tense.

 

I’ve been lucky enough to be a fill in dog walker for someone who has A.L.S. this week and it made me think of my friend, Jerry Kauffman, who died of A.L.S. in February 2008.

I still think of Jerry in the present tense even though it’s been years, but I still adore him and that is the sort of thing that doesn’t go from present tense to past tense because of something like death.

            That’s what Jerry Kaufman taught me. He taught me that the good things – love, adoration – they endure.

            Jerry was not a perfect man. He could be almost too loud sometimes. He could be brash some other times. That was part of his enthusiasm, his style. He always knew what he believed and sometimes what he believed struck people in a bad way. That’s not why I adore him, but it’s part of why I admire him. It takes an immense amount of courage to always loudly and bravely state what you believe and what you think is right even when no other person agrees with you. And then to sometimes change your opinion after you’ve done that.

It’s something I wish more people could do, could feel safe to do, that their egos could allow them to do.

            But the reason that I adore Jerry is because he adores his wife, Jacqui.

            Jerry’s adoration of Jacqui stays in the present tense, too. Something like death never changes that.

            The first time I met them I was doing an article for WERU’s newspaper/bulletin. I drove down to their house in Surry. I was in my twenties.

I was really, really shy.

I parked my Subaru, listened to the sounds of dogs yipping and stared through the darkness at a house lit up from inside with absolutely golden light, trying to brave myself up enough to go inside.

            Then Jerry flung open the door.

            The first thing I noticed was his hair. There was all this hair, wild, dark, curly, like a lion’s mane. 

            I may have stepped back.

            But Jerry wasn’t good about letting people step back. He stepped forward bellowing, “Hello! Hello!” and pulled me into a hug.

            Then I noticed Jacqui, his wife. She too had amazing hair, amazing in a beautiful way. But the best thing was her eyes.

            Writers always talk about people’s eyes sparkling, but Jacqui’s really did. They sparkled brilliantly reminding me of the warm golden lights of their house. Then I looked at Jerry’s eyes. They were sparkling too.

            “The great love of my life,” he said, gesturing towards her.

            I knew right then, absolutely, without a doubt, that what they were sparkling about was each other. They loved each other more than any couple I have ever met. It made me sigh with happiness. It made me smile. It made me want to be just like them.

            It’s about twenty years later and now I am a lot closer.

            It’s about twenty years later and now I love a man more than I could ever imagine. It’s the kind of love that Jerry and Jacqui have.

            It’s about twenty years later and Jerry has died so many years ago already.

            I know, I know absolutely without a doubt that a lot of people think Jerry is a hero for dealing with A.L.S., for making himself into Stem Cell Man (his adopted superhero name) and approaching illness with a vitality and humor that most people never show when they are healthy.

            But for me, Jerry and Jacqui Kaufmann are heroes for loving. It’s rare that you find people so willing to put all of their hearts, all of their souls, out there for the world to see. Every time Jerry saw my little girl, which was about once a year, he would throw his arms open, wrap her in a hug and tell her how beautiful and brilliant she was. That’s the way love should be. It should be something that solids you up, that makes you throw your arms open, makes your eyes sparkle, something that spreads and spreads and stays in the present tense.

            That’s why I adore Jerry Kaufman.

            That’s why I will always adore Jerry Kaufman, because no matter what else he did or what else he was, no matter what fights he faced or opinions he carried, he is someone who taught me all about that kind of love and how that kind of love is truly the essence, the joyous essence of a beautiful, beautiful soul.You can find out more about Jerry at his website. It has a lot of information about A.L.S., a place to donate, and a bit about Jerry and it was made out of love, not just for Jerry, but for the world.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

Why You Should Write Right Now

After another one of my books was published, a teen wrote me that they’d felt desperate and alone and said, “I finally feel like I’ve been seen. It helped so much. So much.”

I’ve been copyediting an anthology about self-love and it’s an interesting concept in the middle of our second pandemic winter when everything feels a bit impossible for some of us as we deal with the losses of friends, family, and income.

It makes me think a lot about how do we take care of ourselves when so many of our outlets aren’t there any longer.

How do we remember to take care of ourselves when we worry so much about things beyond our control, about a world that seems to need more and more from us while we’re sometimes barely hanging on?

That’s an especially big question for writers. I’ve had so many students and writers this year tell me that it doesn’t feel like they should be writing now because there’s so much pain and loss in the world.

But the thing is?

That’s exactly when you should. Our stories, even when they are fiction, even when they go unpublished, become a document for our time, they are our outlets and our bits of showing the future what it was like for us.

And the thing is? You want all the stories to be out there. Not just stories written by one demographic. All stories. Your story is part of that too. You get to write your own stories and to hell with people who tell you that you shouldn’t.

Silent.

No outlet.

No voice.

Is that what you want to be? During this pandemic stories are even more important. During the times when we confront inequities in our society, stories are even more important.

Your story.

It’s worth being out there.

During times of great distress, many people turn to storytelling or art or creating because that’s how they get through it, process it, and also how they end up influencing the world towards good.

A couple years ago I wrote a book and I got an email where someone told me that my book had saved their life. That’s hard to get my head around. It wasn’t a big, deep book. It was adventurous.

After another one of my books was published, a teen wrote me that they’d felt desperate and alone and said, “I finally feel like I’ve been seen. It helped so much. So much.”

That wasn’t my intention, but oh my gosh what a gift that kid gave me there

You can’t make a difference unless you give yourself permission to act.

You’ve got this. Go write. Go art. Go sing. Go create. The world needs more beauty and more thought in it. You can be a part of that. Channel your fear into passion. Channel your silence into a pursuit. Be true. Be real. And you’ll end up saving someone.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

What Happens to Your Mom When You Hit the NYT Bestsellers List

So, I thought I should tell this story about what happened with my mom when my books debuted on the NYT Bestseller Kids Lists. This was back when my mom was alive and everything.

First off, I should probably say for the five years or so before this my mom had been super sick with diabetes and all these horrible complications from it. She’d almost died a couple times. She’d been in the hospital a ton. And basically, that stunk.

The point is that she’d been through a lot.  

And when she called me after hearing the news about the whole New York Times thing she screamed into the phone, “Oh my gosh. Ohmygosh. Oh God, Carrie. I’m hyper. I’m hyperventilating. I’m hyperventilating I’m so excited. Oh my gosh, I’m hyperventilating. I am so proud of you. Oh, I am so very very proud of you.”

Which pretty much cracked me up because it was cute!

Anyway, she had to get infusions or transfusions or something that same week.

She talked to the lab tech/nurse lady one day (the day before the NYT thing) and then the lady called back the next day after my mom had learned.

The woman who was super nice said, “Betty? What’s going on? Something happened. Your voice is different.”

At this point my mother had her prou- mom moment and told her. The woman was all excited for her. It was hard not to be excited for my mother. 

My mother’s appointment was the next day and when she walked into the waiting room the receptionist said in a frantic tone, “She’s here! Betty’s here.” 

Then everyone who worked at the lab came out and started applauding as my mom walked to the check-in desk.

One of them, she said, yelled, “It’s the mother of the New York Times bestselling author.”

So, I have to say three things:

1. I think the best moment in all of this totally belongs to my mom and I am so happy about that.


2. I hope all of you who are trying to be writers or have other awesome goals get a moment like that where you achieve something with someone’s support, and they get to celebrate too. 

3. Even before COVID-19 healthcare workers, grocery store workers, farmers, first responders, teachers? They were making impacts. They were making a difference. They were making people like my mom feel so special. We should make them feel special too.


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.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

We can make a difference together even if it’s one person at a time

We all want to be seen and cared for. We all want to know that we have a team rooting us on–even when that team is full of strangers, it matters.

About three years before my mom officially died, she took a downward turn and I blogged about it on LiveJournal. I was on LiveJournal back then. I know! I know! It’s like admitting you were on MySpace.

Anyway, this is what I wrote:

My mom went into the hospital yesterday. She was bleeding a lot (in a gross way) and her hemoglobin was really low. Last night she threw up blood. They’re giving her an endoscopy to try to locate the bleeding source. She’s diabetic. Her diabetes gave her anemia. Her anemia gave her a heart attack awhile ago. Her diabetes also gave her (a non-drinker pretty much – like 3 drinks a year) liver disease.

She’s in ICU. Any positive energy would be great. Thanks.

And all these people posted and sent love.

The next day, I printed out all those comments and brought them into the ICU and showed my mom and I wrote about that, too:


I saw my mom yesterday and right before she went completely lost it, I showed her all of your comments (I hope you don’t mind) and she started crying and said, “All those people? They’re thinking about me?”

And I said, “Yes.”

And then she sort of clutched the paper print-outs and sniffed.

About a half hour later she seriously lost it. The hospital nurse asked me to help restrain her because they were short on orderlies. Let me tell you my little mother is one strong person when she’s lost it. Let me also tell you that my mother is not usually someone who acts like that.

It’s because she now has Hepatic Encephalopathy.

Which is seriously bad news.

When she finally (after hours of wild anger and thrashing and swearing) fell asleep she looked so sweet. I got to leave then and eat. We hadn’t eaten that day. I forgot about the whole food concept. But while I was gone, she woke up again and got worse and started punching and biting people.

They had to put big-time restraints on her.
She is refusing to take medicine to help get the ammonia levels in her (This is what’s making her act like this) back down. My brother has power of attorney and nobody could reach him. I got him finally. He’s flying in.
If her levels don’t go down, she could have a stroke. She could also die.

I really don’t want my mom to die.
I really don’t want her to be miserable.
I really don’t want her to be so sick.
And I really don’t want my last memories of her to be like yesterday.

I also think that hospital orderlies are the super unsung heroes of the universe. Nurses, too.
I also think that all of you guys are unsung heroes. Commenting and thinking about my mom meant a lot to her yesterday and it will always-always-ALWAYS mean a lot to me.

I firmly believe that my mom seeing that all those people cared about what happened to her made a difference and helped make her strong when everything went wrong. She got to hold onto those papers and that memory and love.

We all want to be seen and cared for. We all want to know that we have a team rooting us on–even when that team is full of strangers, it matters. Sometimes it might matter more knowing that out there are other people who are capable of rooting for you and that even when you feel horribly alone and terrified, you aren’t alone, not in spirit.

I didn’t post for a week because I suck at posting when terrible things are happening in my real life. But I did again.

Okay. I am trying to figure out how to thank everyone for all their cool thoughts/energy/calmness and comments and emails and phone calls and text messages last week when my mom was almost dying.

But I can’t.

Because the kindness that everyone did is soooooo big that I just can’t thank anyone the right way. I’m not a good enough writer.

Just know that you are all beyond awesome and totally rock.

And I really think because of you (and because my mom is so damn feisty) she did not die last week even though the doctor gave the YOU NEED TO THINK ABOUT HARD DECISIONS speech and she was totally demented (sorry, Mom, you were) for a while.  She opened her eyes Thursday. On Friday she was once again capable of rational thought. Yay!

She’s still in the hospital but not in the scary ICU part.

Thank you for helping her and for helping me. I am really blessed to have such amazing friends (on-line and off).

I’m not a person who has a lot of family anymore. Since I was one of those kids who came fourteen to thirty years after the other kids of my generation, my parents and grandparents (all of them) are dead as are most of my aunts and uncles. And my family situation is complicated.

But sometimes I think about how lucky I am because I get to have two families, one online and one that raised me. I had a bunch of different cultural experiences as a kid because of the aunts and uncles I had and I know they expanded who I was and what I knew about the world.

When people online come together to do something good, to comfort, to make someone’s life better or make the country or their community better? It’s a big deal. It gives me faith and hope in empathy and love. It’s easy to focus on the horror that happens, and it’s good to acknowledge that horror so that you can fix it. But it’s not all that is. Life is bigger than that. People are better than that. We can be.

I’ve seen it over and over again. We don’t have to be perfect, but we really should try to spread good things, too.

It’s so easy to close yourself off because you’re afraid of people being mean to you, of internet trolls, or maybe the negativity from your own family. When you close off your heart, when you are afraid of being vulnerable, it’s almost impossible to love your way through things. Instead, you hunker down in fear.

And if you hunker too long, your knees start to hurt.


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.

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie


Transform Your Character and Make Your Story Rock

Stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity.

You hear a lot that emotion matters in your novel and that you want to make the reader feel things. There’s even scientific proof that people do this. Paul J. Zak wrote  How Stories Change the Brain and said that character-driven stories with emotional content caused oxytocin synthesis. He backed it up with science.

According to Pamela B. Rutledge in Psychology Today,

“Stories are authentic human experiences. Stories leap-frog the technology and bring us to the core of the experience, as any good storyteller (transmedia or otherwise) knows. There are several psychological reasons why stories are so powerful.”

According to her those reasons are:

  • Stories “connect us to a larger self and universal truths.”
  • Stories connect us and sometimes they are collaborative. “Through stories, we share passions, sadness, hardships, and joys. We share meaning and purpose.
  • Stories are the common ground that allows people to communicate, overcoming our defenses and our differences. Stories allow us to understand ourselves better and to find our commonality with others.”

She also says that stories help shape how we think and make decisions, provide order via narrative structures that are familiar. There is comfort in that familiarity. We know the story will be resolved and that makes us feel safe. And she believes that our brains are wired for them because they engage parts of our brain and spark our own imaginations.

So, we know that stories are meant to move us, but as writers how do we do that?

For a story to be good it needs to create emotion in the reader.

To do that, stories almost always have:

  1. Character (who your story is about. It can be about a condom as long as that condom is a character.
  2. A Big Want. Something that your character wants more than anything else, something that compels your character to action in order to get that big want.
  3. Conflict. Something that keeps the character from getting that want right away (or possibly ever).

That’s super simplistic, right? But those three elements are essential to story. Readers want to cheer on characters and sob with them. They want to feel the character’s transformation as they/he/she meets obstacles as they try to achieve those damn goals.

The best stories (especially in the YA genre) involve a change in the character, a metamorphosis, a transformation.

Who the character is at the beginning of the story often shouldn’t be who they are at the end of the story. There are two main different levels of transformation.

  1. The outside world changes. They have a car or a house now. The villain is gone and they are safe. This is the easy transformation.
  • Their personality changes. They are no longer reactive, but proactive, not a wall flower but an exhibitionist. They are brave now. They are a coward now. This is true for Bilbo Baggins or Harry Potter or Anakin Skywalker. They realize that they were wrong about something (a big lie that ruins their personality/life) and then they transform because of the truth. Sometimes that transformation is negative (Anakin, we’re looking at you!) and sometimes it’s positive.

There are other possibilities for smaller transformation. The character might grow but not change like Nick Carraway in the Great Gatsby. This is called a growth arc usually. They have grown and learned some shit, but they are still their essential selves.

And there are also the no-transformation arc. Sherlock Holmes, Indiana Jones, every sitcom character experience life, but they don’t really transform because of the experience.

RESOURCES

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201101/the-psychological-power-storytelling

(Paul J. Zak. “How Stories Change the Brain.” Greater Good. 27 July 2016).


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

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.