Knowing When To Be A Writer Show-OFF

I ended up talking to some of my writers about this, this past weekend, so I thought I’d share it with everyone. It’s pretty fun stuff and a helpful thing to know.

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it,” said novelist Elmore Leonard.

Sometimes writers fall in love with words, and that seems like a lovely thing, right? Words are writers’ commodity. Writers are word merchants. They deal in words, flinging around and ordering about on the page in the hopes of creating an army of sentences that become a story.

But sometimes writers (like everyone else) show off.

And that showing off makes readers go, “Blech.”

Readers who go ‘blech’ are readers who probably aren’t going to keep reading. No writer wants that because then their words and stories don’t have a chance to motivate or distract or move the reader. Plus, crap reviews.

In his book, Writing Tools, Roy Peter Clark writes:

“Most writers have at least two modes. One says, “Pay no attention the writer behind the curtain. Look only at the world.” The other says, without inhibition, “Watch me dance. Aren’t I clever fellow?”

He likens these to understatement (the first mode) and overstatement or hyperbole (the second mode).

You don’t want your readers to be noticing all your writing adroitness and flourishes and showing off.

You also don’t want to be so underwhelming during really important moments that the reader shrugs and says, “Should I care that the universe imploded and Lassie died?”

Clark creates a little rule that he says works for him.

“The more serious or dramatic the subject, the more the writer backs off, creating the effect that the story tells itself. The more playful or inconsequential the topic, the more the writer can show off. Back off or show off.”

Here are a couple of examples where I’m writing about the same thing.

So, I was at the Boston Marathon today to take pictures of my friend, Lori, running and then crossing the finish line. Before the marathon I had lunch with my daughter Em. She was nervous.

“I have a bad feeling,” she said. “You need to be careful.”

“You have no faith in me. I am a perfectly capable person.”

“I just am worried.”

“I will be fine,” I told her. I insisted it, actually.

But I did several things that I don’t normally do. I didn’t take the T. I chose to walk from Cambridge to mile 25.5 or so of the race route. I figured out the T route and everything, but I just didn’t want to go on it. Walking was healthier, I figured. I was going to watch a marathon.

Pretty understated, right?

Here’s me writing that flamboyantly.

It is the kind of day where people blossom into heroes in Boston and become a part of a legend, a story bigger than themselves, the day of the marathon, a day of heaving chests, heartbreak hills, strangers cheering them on for just moving forward, step by step, mile by mile, until the make it (or don’t) to the finish line. My friend Lori was one of those people—the hopefuls, the push-your-way-through-its, the runners.

While she was on mile eighteen or so, my daughter and I were having lunch in Cambridge before I’d leave her to the doldrums of college and head out to the race route, somewhere around mile 25.5.

Before I left, my daughter hugged me. She smelled of hummus and coconut shampoo, her windblown hair flinging itself into my cheek as she said, “I have a bad feeling.”

You see the difference, right?

How do you work on this in your own writing?

Look at other people’s writing. Newspapers are great examples of this. What stories are on page one because of how they are written versus how newsy they actually are.

Take one of your own scenes and rewrite it like it’s spare bones. Then rewrite it like you’re trying for a very flowery Pulitzer.

Read humor. Great humorists have really mastered the difference between hyperbole and understatement and use it so well.

I took this when I was running this week. It’s so beautiful here.

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.

Stopping Doomsday Thinking

A lot of great clients and students that I’ve worked with have what I like to call Doomsday Thinking. I’m pretty sure I didn’t coin that phrase.

What is doomsday thinking?

It’s basically catastrophic thinking.

In Psychology Today, Toni Bernhard J.D. writes, “The term refers to our irrational and exaggerated thoughts: thoughts that have no basis in fact, but which we believe anyway.”

Those thoughts become so big and so distorted that we get anxious.

I am a pro at doomsday thinking

I basically had these kinds of thoughts until last year.

Those negative, spiraling thoughts can become so big, so huge, that it’s almost impossible to be happy about who we are, what we’ve done, what we will do, or our life.

We forget there can be good outcomes too.

Instead, we think about all the bad potentials and build them up like super stores, giving them so much space in our thoughts that they take over.

The why is it always me syndrome.

One of my most brilliant and adorable relatives does this all the time. She gets stuck on a highway coming home from work because of a traffic jam and thinks, “Why does this always happen to me? The universe hates me.”

When in reality, she’s not alone in that traffic jam, right? It’s almost self-absorbed to think that the frustrating things are out to get you and only you.

Or, we get rejected when we send our book to an agent and think, “This is impossible. I will never get published. I am doomed to suck forever. I give up.”

When in reality, you don’t suck at all. Writing is subjective and that particular agent just wasn’t for you.

Change happens.

In doomsday thinking whenever something bad happens, we assume that this is the way it will always be. It isn’t.

The world is chaos and full of change.

I just was texting with one of my friends the other night and I wrote, “I bet Five-years-ago Steve would never have imagined this.”

The this was good stuff happening in his life. And he hadn’t. He hadn’t predicted any of it.

We’re all like that. I didn’t imagine I’d be where I am five years ago. That’s because change happens. Even the bad doesn’t stay always bad. We can’t predict the outcomes and all the variables even when we think we can.

Here’s the good thing about change

Since things change, it means that you don’t need to stay stuck forever. And you don’t need to stay in those negative thought patterns forever either.

Why not? It’s pretty easy to lean into your internal critic, right? But you don’t have to. You can stay calm. You can take chances and make choices and shut them up.

We all have inner critics, but we also need inner cheerleaders

I used to imagine my inner critic as John Wayne (the dead movie star/cowboy). He was so harsh on me. Always telling me to work. So, I created an inner cheerleader who turned out to be the Muppet, Grover. Yes, from Sesame Street. My brain is a weird place.

John Wayne and Grover would duel it out for supremacy in my head.

Weird! Weird! I know. But by giving an identity to that negative voice/inner critic, it helped me to recognize that doomsday thinking and shut it down so that I could take chances and risks and do things.

Allow yourself to treat challenges and projects like you’re playing

Another thing that helps is giving myself a chance to play and fail. You can do this, too.

Find something you’ve wanted to do. Start a blog? Make a video? Learn to paint? Ride your bike every morning? Make it something that excites you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give yourself a time frame. I have 30 days to do this! That sort of short timeframe.
  2. Schedule time into your day/week to do it.
  3. It helps if you have an end project. So, tell yourself what your end product will be.
  4. Do it.

By giving ourselves a product and a timeframe, we give ourselves a chance to try things. It doesn’t seem like a forever-worry that way and it usually shuts up our doomsday thinking and John Waynes a tiny bit.

You’ve got this. I believe in you. You need to believe in you, too.

xo

Carrie

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.

Loving the Strange – Let’s talk about ghosts

“I talk to her all the time.” Shaun about his ghost doll friend.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Loving the Strange - Let's talk about ghosts
/

It’s our second podcast and you can hear how:

  1. Shaun has a haunted doll friend.
  2. A ghost felt Carrie’s thigh.
  3. The seance where the pencil caught on fire.
  4. Carrie’s grandmother’s ghost.
  5. And Shaun swear and be slightly naughty because he’s Shaun.
  6. How Maine is the most haunted state and Mainers don’t really seem to care.

This podcast isn’t about writing. It isn’t about life tips. It’s really inspired by how Shaun and I are such opposites about so many things and yet we still love each other. There’s got to be a lesson somewhere in there, right?

It’s unscripted and fun and just meant to make you feel like you’re hanging out with two weird people talking about strange things.

Please like and share and subscribe, it totally helps us out!


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!

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.

Facing the Facts About Wedgies, Soccer Coaches, and Elections

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Facing the Facts About Wedgies, Soccer Coaches, and Elections
/

Once, one of our kiddos had two soccer coaches.

And one time at the game, her jv coach yelled at her. She cried the entire way home. She refused to cry on the bench because she’s stoic like that.

Carrie talked to the varsity coach the next morning and he said, “Yeah. I had to do damage control on four or five players after that game. He had them all crying.”

It is hard for us to handle my kid crying about soccer.

One because in the big scheme of things it’s not important. But also, having someone yell at you is like having them give you a wedgie. It’s embarrassing, you feel the opposite of awesome and it can hurt.

That’s the thing reality hurts.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who wrote, FINDING FLOW, says, “To achieve excellence, we must first understand the reality of the everyday, with all its demands and potential frustrations.”

Crying because of soccer coaches counts as the reality of the everyday moments. 

So does not putting the filter in the coffee maker right so that eight cups of water and coffee grinds spill all over the counter and the floor. 

So does getting a wedgie or trolled on Facebook by your Great Aunt Mary’s best friend who thinks wearing masks is a conspiracy sent by aliens from the planet GoodSpa.

So does realizing your WIP is in need of serious help.

Part of improvisational comedy and improvisational life is facing the facts even when those facts suck.

That’s Patricia Ryan Madson’s seventh maxim in her book IMPROV WISDOM is about facing fact.

Carrie really hates facing the facts, sometimes. But she likes the facts (even when they aren’t in her favor) because the facts aren’t lies.


We have to go with what truths we have and sometimes what we have is a middle school jv soccer coach who makes people cry. Or a politician or a family member who does the same thing

Sometimes the truth is a ton of coffee-stained water on the floor or a dog who peed when she woke up and somehow that pee created a big puddle under your king-sized bed.

Sometimes the truth is a WIP that needs serious help. Sometimes it’s a relationship that needs that, a country, a community.

And today, the day, we’re releasing the podcast is election day in the United States and it’s not an understatement to say that the U.S. is having a difficult year and a lot of us are really worried about today.

But worries and wishes? That’s not where it’s at.

As this brilliant woman says,

Wishing things were different simply wastes time. The improviser can’t afford unrealistic thinking. Instead, she builds bridges over rocky terrain and turns lemons into lemonade. She works with what is actually in front of her, setting aside the temptation to dwell on what is not.”

Patricia Madson

She is so smart.

Now is not the time for just worrying and wishing. It’s a time for action. Write your books. Protest. Vote for your candidates. Create the community and laws and system that seem fair and equitable to you.

But do it. No matter what

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Wishing your story into existence doesn’t make your story exist. Dig in. Write it. Write it now.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t laze around on the couch and let all the other dogs do the work. Bark. Guard things that are important to you. You can’t complain that you don’t get any treats if you never make an effort.

SHOUT OUT

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.


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.

Cool Book I Wrote

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

Let’s Hang Out!

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.


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

Quarantine Karaoke and Top Three Stupid Writing Tips

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Quarantine Karaoke and Top Three Stupid Writing Tips
/

Yeah, I know we give writing tips and life tips on the podcast, but some writing tips are just stupid. And they annoy Carrie a lot and she goes all angry monster about it unless we let her vent. 

Here’s a big one that everyone says. 

WRITE EVERY DAY

You don’t have to. You can. But you don’t have to. Writing is not breathing. You don’t have to constantly do it. This is especially true if it’s your damn job. You don’t tell someone to doctor every damn day. You’re allowed to have a break. 

STAY FOCUSED. DON’T GET DISTRACTED

Distractions are where inspirations happen. Your brain is allowed to wander, to dream and make connections. Whoever thinks differently is a sadistic MF. 

DON’T WORRY ABOUT GRAMMAR

Yeah. You should worry about grammar. Writing is about communication. It’s like talking. You don’t want people to strain to hear you. You don’t want to mumble. Grammar makes it so you don’t mumble or meander like a president on qualudes. If you are in the U.S. and writing fiction use Chicago Manual of Style. Newspapers and journals? AP. But for Gods sake, know what a sentence is.


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

It’s like Quarantine Karaoke, you want to be sort of decent or at least find joy in what you’re doing. You may not be a contestant on the Voice or in BTS or whatever, but you can still have fun. Do what makes you happy. Ignore all the rules that say there is only one way to do something. That’s a marketer talking, not an artist.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You do not have to howl well to howl good.


SHOUT OUT

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

Gabby the dog, the co-host that pants a lot.

RECENT EPISODES OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer.

A bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron.

That’s right! Carrie’s doing bonus interviews every Thursday. And they are so much fun.

Continue reading “Quarantine Karaoke and Top Three Stupid Writing Tips”

When You are Terrified Nobody Will Buy Your Book and All Hope Is Gone Butternut Squash Recipe

So, sometimes you might have a new book coming out and you might freak out that nobody will read it and that is when you make this soup and try to breathe through your nose and cry. Not like I know this personally or anything. Not like I’ve been doing it all week.

Print Recipe
When You are Terrified Nobody Will Buy Your Book and All Hope Is Gone Butternut Squash Recipe
When You are Terrified Nobody Will Buy Your Book and All Hope Is Gone Butternut Squash Recipe
Cuisine american, vegetarian
Keyword soup
Servings
Ingredients
Cuisine american, vegetarian
Keyword soup
Servings
Ingredients
When You are Terrified Nobody Will Buy Your Book and All Hope Is Gone Butternut Squash Recipe
Instructions
  1. Look at that squash. It's so bright. It's like a writer's hope in finding a million readers. Put that hope in a soup pot and water it down with some water or writing statistics. Whatever.
  2. Bring it to a boil. Feel despondent. Will more than five people read your book? If you could resurrect your Mom from the dead, she'd read it. That would be six. Cry then lower heat.
  3. Cover and cook till that hope/squash is so tender and soft, which will be about 25 min or the time it takes to Google 'uplifting writer quotes.'
  4. Stop googling and instead heat oil in frying pan. Sauté the onions like you're a fancy author and not a starving one. Sauté the thyme with it until it's all nice and lightly browned.
  5. Add the onion to the squash.
  6. Puree the mix in a blender until all hope is unrecognizable. There are no chunks left really. It is smooth and deceptive. How could hope once have been in there? Just 30 minutes ago, you were so hopeful.
  7. Try to leave a few chunks. Pray to them. Pray to hope squash. Pray to anything that will get you more readers, honestly. Feel guilty about this and realize that if you are Christian it is probably a sin to pray to your soup.
  8. Find the frying pan again. Put the heat on low and melt the butter.
  9. Add flour.
  10. Stir butter and flower about 1 - 2 minutes. It should be vaguely brown and well mixed.
  11. Add half and half.
  12. Stir so it is all blended well and add to the soup.
  13. Heat the soup back up to a simmer.
  14. Add ginger, soy sauce and black pepper.
  15. Simmer 15 minutes uncovered.
  16. Garnish if you are feeling fancy, but how can you feel fancy when YOU ARE SO WORRIED NOBODY WILL BUY YOUR BOOK?

Man Verdict: This tastes like hope.

Carrie Verdict: Exactly

Dogs’ Verdict: Please spill some on the floor.

Big News!

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. Please, please, order it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

This week’s podcast is up and excited to be there! Join 154,000 downloads and see how weird yet helpful we are.

Dog Poop and Shame

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dog Poop and Shame
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When people look at our dog Gabby, they almost always say, “Oh, she’s so beautiful.”

Gabby, however, isn’t beautiful by breed standards. She’s actually a mess. Her muzzle isn’t boxy enough. Her back sloops. Her hips splay. She’s about twenty pounds too skinny.

And that’s mostly all because she was abused and starved her first year of life, tied by a chain to a tree in the Alabama fields. 

But Gabby isn’t about shame. Gabby is about being – being joyous, loving, and keeping her flock of kittens and people and one other dog safe. Gabby doesn’t have shame about her imperfections. 

“She’s the prettiest puppy ever,” people coo to her when we take walks. 

“Who’s the beautiful baby?” 

Or sometimes it’s just a simple, “Oh, what a beautiful dog.” 

Gabby has no shame about her broken body that doesn’t meet AKC standards. She has joy even when she’s broken, hurt, limping along or having a bad fur day. We can learn a lot from Gabby.

On the entry “shame v. guilt” on her blog, Dr. Bréne Brown writes,

“I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection. I  don’t believe shame is helpful or productive. In fact, I think shame is much more likely to be the source of destructive, hurtful behavior than the solution or cure. I think the fear of disconnection can make us dangerous.”

Dr. Bréne Brown

For many women and men, shame has a lot to do with not looking pretty enough, perfect enough, sexy enough, good enough. We stare at our eyes and worry about their shape, our lack of lips, our lack of butt, our lack of symmetry. Lacks. It’s always about lacks. 

Gabby has no shame about how she looks because she’s a dog. People have no judgement about her lacks because they aren’t constantly fed how she’s supposed to look as a Great Pyr. They just see her dog soul shining through, her kind eyes and her fluffy, white fur. 

We can’t quickly erase all the beauty programming that the media, our relatives, and even our friends and lovers have fed us, but we can know what triggers our shame and call it out. 

Shaun says things like, “You are so beautiful.”

And I cringe. 

I cringe and ask, “What about the scar on my stomach?”

And he’ll say, “Still beautiful.”

And I’ll keep cringing and say, “I think I’m losing my lips.”

“Still beautiful.”

“I have no eyebrows.” 

“Still beautiful.” 

What Shaun has is a great ability to pull me out of my shame spiral, but also empathy. It’s why he was a fantastic cop when he was a cop.

Brown writes this in the Semantic Scholar

Wiseman identifies four defining attributes of empathy: (a) to be able to see the world as others see it; (b) to be nonjudgmental; (c) to understand another person’s feelings; and (d) to communicate your understanding of that person’s feelings (1996). Empathy is almost an opposite to shame.

Brown again

Empathy allows Shaun to be kind and patient when I’m being a dork about how I look when he’s giving me a compliment.

This is true about self publishing. I was teaching a workshop about publishing on Friday and some of the students were like, “There is such a stigma to self publishing still.”

And another guy was like, “That’s because some of those books suck.”

And that’s true, but some are brilliant. I said that.

I also said, “There are some traditionally published books that suck, too.”

We have to figure out to not worry about other people determining the worth of our work. Taste is subjective. Some people love Drake. Some people can’t stand him. That doesn’t devalue Drake. Same thing for Adele or Stephen King or Jayson Reynolds. 

Yes, some self published books haven’t been copy edited or might not be structurally sound, but those books don’t determine the worth of your book.

Your book is yours. Its value isn’t about all the other self published books in the world. Its value is determined by your ability to communicate your story. Its value is determined by the joy and sense of accomplishment that it gave you when you wrote it. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t go into the shame spiral. Be proud of who you are and what you’ve created.

Dog Tip for Life

Poop is nothing to be ashamed about. 

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.

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

Resources

Wiseman, T. (1996). A concept analysis of empathy. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 23, 1162–1167. 

Looking for help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for theSAMHSA National Helpline.

Looking for help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_9486.jpg

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

This week’s podcast link if you can’t see it below!

Yo! We’re High Concept.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Yo! We're High Concept.
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So there’s a quick and easy way to figure out who you are and who you want to be, but also figure out what your book is and what it wants to be. 

It’s called the high concept. It’s the dramatic question. It’s the way you describe in a quick captivating phrase all the energy inside your novel. 

You can also do this for your life: 

Like mine would be: Latchkey kid overwhelmed by family secrets sets out to find out who she is in a world that really couldn’t give a crap. 

Sorry! Sorry! That’s so negative. 

How about: Stuck in small-town New Hampshire, a weird psychic kid manages to survive thanks to her intellect until a rapist gives her a disease that attacks her brain. She survives anyways. 

There are sort of standard questions for every genre of story and movies. Will they fall in love? Will the killer be caught? Will our hero survive the zombie gerbils? Will the events of our youth make us into fractured adults? 

Don’t be shy about what your story is about. Will ET make it home? Will the Skywalkers go to the dark side – all of them? Will the Avengers defeat Thanos? Will Hugh Grant fall in love with someone in a fulfilling way? Even ghost ‘reality’ shows on tv have a dramatic question – Will they catch evidence – real evidence of the ghosts? Will they get possessed? Will they survive the night in the haunted castle? 

An awesome dramatic question isn’t enough to make something a bestseller, but it’s an important start. Go get one. For your life and your story. 

Next add in the obstacles. What’s making it complicated for ET to get home? For the ghost hunters to find evidence? Add those obstacles up so that we doubt that dramatic question is going to have a good answer. 

Finally, make sure that your hero is someone with some damn strong convictions. ET knows he has to get home, right? Scarlett O’Hara is positive she has to marry that Ashley guy. Harry Potter/Iron Man/Captain America/Black Widow must defeat Voldemort/Thanos/Whatever Big Bad you want to insert. 

That character’s super strong convictions are what makes us root for them. We feel that conviction. The stakes resonate. 

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Make a dramatic question.

Add obstacles.

Make your character have convictions.

Dog Tip For Life

Make a dramatic question.

Realize you have obstacles.

Make yourself have the convictions to bash through those obstacles.

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.

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_9486.jpg

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

THE WEEK BEFORE LAST WEEK’S PODCAST! 

LASt WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

Big Foot and Me and Being Afraid of Success

I wanted to find him.


Every day, I’d rush through my homework, gobble up left-over stuffing and head to the woods in my backyard.

Then I’d be incredibly quiet.

I was hunting. I didn’t have a gun. I was one of those kids who read Charlotte’s Web and became a vegetarian because well, how could you eat Wilbur? My vegetarianism was strict, and I knew when my mom tried to pass off Ragu’s meat sauce as the green pepper and onion variety. 

“You need protein!” She’d throw up her hands in disgust. “Protein!”

I scoffed at protein. I was Super Carrie, Vegetarian Girl. No mere mortal, was I. I ate no meat, propelled by 10-year-old righteous indignation, moral outrage, and a love for all pigs and cows and various other barnyard animals, like my Uncle Kilton. 

My vegetarianism was only lifted for my daily nibble of Stove Top Stuffing. You know the slogan, It’s better than potatoes. It was. It was! Sure, it had chicken flavoring in it, but I reasoned that the chicken flavoring couldn’t possibly come from real chickens.

Right?

Fortified by stuffing, I’d head to the woods, trying to walk with quiet, rolling my feet inwards as I stepped in a straight line like a fox. The wind whipped my hair. The maple leaves fell down. The cars on the highway zipped by. I ignored them all. I was on a quest.

I was hunting Big Foot. 

Yes, Big Foot, the man-beast of the Washington woods, solitary hirsute Sasquatch. I, Carrie Barnard, would find him in my backyard in Bedford, N.H. I would find him and … and … and… 

Then what? I wondered.

Then, we would be friends. 

Coming back from Pioneer Girls at the Calvary Baptist Church with Katie Henderson and her mom one Friday night, we turned into my driveway, just as something big and covered with fur slipped into the woods by the garage.


“Did you see that?” I whispered to Katie.


“What?” She sat upright, pigtails whipping her face. “Was it Jesus?”

Katie always hoped to spot Jesus. She wanted the second coming to come already. She was tired of homework and was positive there was no homework in Heaven.


I wasn’t that optimistic. If Jesus did come down would it get me out of my book report on Witch of Blackbird Pond? God would probably make me do that book report, and a character study for added fun. 


“No,” I hissed. “It wasn’t Jesus. I think I saw Big Foot.”

Katie rolled her eyes, and scratched at her hand. “Yeah, right.”

“No. Really. He jumped in the woods.”

Mrs. Henderson parked. 

“Yeah, you saw Big Foot. Just like you saw that U.F.O,” Katie snickered. 

Pow! She struck low, Katie did. 

I shuddered and thought, Oh, not the U.F.O. mention!

One tiny mistake and I was forever known as the Girl Who Thinks Airplanes With Light Up Banners Advertising Radio Stations Are U.F.O.’s. 

“This wasn’t an airplane,” I said, opening the station wagon door.

“It was probably your stepfather,” Katie said.

“He’s not that hairy.”

Mrs. Henderson rolled down her window and I thanked her for the ride. 

“Remember to pray tonight, and that’s all the thanks I need,” she said.

She tooted the horn. I steamed. How dare that woman? She was scaring my Big Foot. 

I will prove them Wrong!

Determined to prove Katie wrong, I searched daily. I prowled secret short-cuts, climbed trees for better views, searched for tracks. I’d creep, hoping to sneak up on him. I’d sprint, leaping over dead falls, slopping through muck, hoping to startle him out. Mud slopped on the bottom of my corduroys. Water seeped into my Adidas sneakers. 

Far ahead of me in the murky forest, trees beckoned, taunting me. The teasing fee-bee-bee-bee of the Eastern Phoebe broke the air. Then …a snuffling noise, a lower growl. Something primal rumbled in front of me. It was not the noise of a hoppity rabbit, or a sweet deer who’d lost his mother.

It was not the noise of a Disney movie.

Another growl broke the air and I did what every fearless explorer does when faced with the possible object of pursuit. I ran.

I will forever regret this decision.

I was so close to potentially seeing Big Foot or at least a black bear, but what did I do? I ran away. And I think I’ve (cough) done this with multiple things in my life.

Sometimes we run away from success and there’s a reason why that is. Success means change. Failure means more of the same. Change is the unknown. It is the growl in the woods. It can be scary not knowing what will happen in our lives.

When we succeed we influence more people. There’s a responsibility that goes along with that.

When we succeed there are new pressures to deal with. Some are societal. Some might be financial. Some might just be how our personalities shift to deal with this new situation. That can be scary.

But the thing is? If Big Foot is out there, we have to step forward to meet her/him.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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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 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’s a new episode every Tuesday!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Cooking With a Writer – Grilled Miso Vegetables of Awesome

So, we are currently hanging out in a camper and renting out our house because you make big money renting out your house for the summer when you live in Bar Harbor, Maine.

And this means….

That we’re cooking outside a lot and the man is winning in his quest to be Captain Carnivore and I am losing in my quest to make us a happy vegetarian household… or is it camper-hold?

And to make it worse, Captain Carnivore is not into vegetables, thus his name. He won’t touch cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini or anything actually good.

But I made this anyway because sometimes I want to make something I like. And I like this… I like it a lot.

Miso Grilled Vegetables of Awesome

This recipe owes everything to Cooking Light and Naomi Duguid. All poorly thought out deviations are my fault. 

  • 2.5 tbsp miso – white
  • 1.5 tbsp water (or enough to make it right)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil (plus a bit more if needed for consistency)
  • 1 lb zuchinni (cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick)
  • .5 lb eggplant (cut into slices about ⅓-inch thick)
  • 2 whole peppers (red and orange and yellow are the coolest. Sorry. Green. Cut each into six pieces)
  • 1 whole red onion (cut into wedges)
  • 1 big spray cooking spray
  • 2 sprigs mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 whole lime (optional)
  1. Use the cooking spray to coat your grill rack. Not the outside of the grill. Then turn the grill on to high heat. 

    Think about how some writers write under the influence of illegal drugs. Wonder how they keep track of their plot. 

  2. Put miso and water together. Wonder if they like each other or are eyeing each other warily, wondering what will happen next. 

    Shout, “IT’S A PARTY,” and  slowly add oil. Stir them all up with a whisk and sing your favorite party song. Are there writer party songs? There should be. 

    Put the vegetables EXCEPT THE ONION in a pan, say, “Now it’s really a party, babies!”

    Add about 5 tablespoons of the miso party mixture. 

    Toss it up.

    Think about parties from your younger days.  

    Feel badly for the onion, out on its own with no miso mix, unable to be tossed around because it’s too fragile and will break apart.

    Feel like the onion.

    Brush onion with what’s left of the miso marinade, and whisper, “It’s okay… You can party, too. You’re okay. You’re loved and included.”

  3. Put everyone on the rack on the grill, even the onion.

    Zucchini, eggplant, and bell pepper can only party for about 4 minutes on each side. 

    They don’t have the onion’s stamina. Be proud of the onion and grill it for 6 minutes on either side.

    Basically, grill the veggies until they are tender veggies.

    Put some mint on them and serve them with lime wedges. Because they are done. 

Shaun Verdict: You are trying to kill me.

Dog Verdict: Rub some dirt on it, we’ll call it good.

Carrie Verdict: THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER!

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 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?

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 Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. She is not sure where it is in Maine. She thinks… Augusta?