Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story

Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story

 
 
00:00 / 00:24:45
 
1X
 

A lot of writing coaches talk about story structure and plots and inciting incidents, which is all well and good but Carrie is burnt-out this week. 


Carrie: I have worked too hard and my brain is broken. 

So, instead we are going to tell you what NOT to do. We are going to be the story police and harsh out the rules. 

Carrie: I don’t like rules or broken brains, but let’s do this. 

What Not To Do According To Conventional Wisdom Right Now

Do not start with dialogue.

This used to be super popular, but MySpace also used to be super popular. Things go out of style and it is not super popular anymore. 

Here’s an example: 

             “I like elephants.”

                        “Awesome. Me too.”

                        “No way?”

                        “Actually, I am lying.” 

EXAMPLE OF AWESOME

You’ve no clue who is talking, where they are or why they do or don’t like elephants and you probably don’t care. We want readers to care from the very beginning of the story.

An alarm clock buzzing. 

Who even has an alarm clock anymore, actually? But no alarm clocks or cell phone alarms or whatever. Waking up is dull. 

            My alarm buzzed and I groaned. 

                        “Another day, another dollar,” I said to my cat, Muffin. 

                        Muffin hit me in the nose with her paw. She’s tired of my clichés. 

Another Example of Awesome

The whole IT WAS ALL A DREAM start.

Unless this is a paranormal or fantasy where the dream is a key part of the power or the threat? Then it’s okay even if people say ‘never ever.’

Cough. You don’t want to be super invested in a story and then find out that it was all crap and not real even to the character. 

Amazing thing happens. More amazing things happen. More amazing things happen for five pages. Oops. It’s all a dream. 

Example of dreamy

Being dorky without meaning to. 

This is when you accidentally make a super silly mistake or state something obvious in the very beginning of your story. Gasp! I know! You would never do that, right?

Spoiler alert: We all do this.

She knew she had to wear a mask in a pubic place.

Try to avoid the typos.

“I love to love you,” I think to myself.

This is an example. We all think to ourselves. Cut the ‘to myself.’

All narrative all the time. 

There is no dialogue anywhere in the first ten pages of this story and instead everything is just a solid block of text in which I, the author, tells you exciting things – well at least they are exciting to me – about the story, but honestly it’s just a lot of navel gazing. Did you know that people get lint in their navels? Did you know that a lot of that lint is actually random fibers from your clothes, if you wear clothes, and dead skin, and then it gets stuck there and mixes all up together. I wonder if you care. I wonder if you care that I care. And so on.

Agh. Did you even read this example? It ruined our SEO readability score.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t start off on the wrong writer foot. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s okay to start over.

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.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 222,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

This week’s episode.

Continue reading “Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story”
Advertisements

Why Do Politicians Hug Me and Other Weird Facts & Questions

I’ve been working super hard creating things and helping other people create things and I’ve been ridiculously stressed worrying about people’s health and systemic inequalities in our health care system and even about my income because of Covid-19 and I don’t have it in me for a serious blog post today. I hope that’s cool with everyone. Instead, I’m going to give you random tidbits about me.

  1. My debut novel TIPS ON HAVING A GAY (ex) BOYFRIEND has the word gay in it, which made some people squeamish.

2. That makes me lose my chill, but in a chill-inspiring way my ex-boyfriend from high school has a really lovely, very religious, very Catholic mom who BOUGHT IT. Yes, her son is gay. She proudly showed the book off to all her friends and that? Well, that made my heart sing. I’m so glad he has her for a mom.

3. I used to be the youngest female city councilor ever elected in my city and I never EVER dated any other city councilors, or politicians although ex presidential candidate Gary Hart once winked at me and I’ve been hugged by Jesse Jackson and Jerry Brown and George W. Bush and Mike Michaud and Paul Lepage and Susan Collins and John Glenn and too many NYC mayors to list. Politicians apparently hug across parties. Also, I’ve been hugged by a lot more male politicians than women. This does not seem fair.

4. I have one ex-boyfriend who is now a writer. He published before he was 30 and wrote for the NYT and Village Voice. I try not to hate him. Just kidding! I don’t try. No! No! I don’t actually hate him at all. I’m super happy for him actually.

5. I have one ex-boyfriend who was in TIGER BEAT MAGAZINE because he was on a Nickelodean TV show before college.  And I find this hysterical.

6. I have one ex boyfriend from fifth grade whose name was Bertram, but he wanted to change it to Steve. He was so sad about his name. He also wanted to be a knight. I hope he at least got to change his name.

7. I have one ex boyfriend who chewed tobacco and spit it into a Pepsi can and thought nobody knew. EVERYBODY knew.

8. I just realized I will never have another new ex-boyfriend, which is weird, just weird…And I also realized that because of Covid-19 politicians won’t be hugging people as much this year, which has a lot of weird ramifications, too.

How about you? Do you have random facts that you never share? It feels weirdly good to remember and share them.

Continue reading “Why Do Politicians Hug Me and Other Weird Facts & Questions”

What To Do When Life and Writing Sucks – Be Your Own Damn Hero

Being your own hero in the story of your writing is a big deal and it’s something we all shirk from. If we are the hero of the story, of our own life’s story, what does that exactly mean?

It means we are in charge of our story as much as we can be. It means that our actions and words and choices define what happens next in the plot of our life.

Yes, sometimes random horrors or brilliant moments happen and those things aren’t (or at least don’t directly seem) caused by us. But, those moment are still… They are part of our journey and who we are is determined by the choices we make as a reaction to those moments of random horror or beautiful brilliance.

One way to get a bit of traction in how your story goes in your literary life is to define what Todd Henry calls “The Big Three.” These aren’t exactly priorities. They aren’t exactly projects. They are the big loops happening in your creative life right now.

Here’s an example of a Big Three:

What is the problem I’m solving?

How do I add more value to the world?

How do I make what I’m doing matter?

Making your own big three is a big deal. It’s a bit like the six-month goal sheet that we make at the Writing Barn, but it’s more loose. And it’s best used when you apply it to every stimuli that you see. When you are watching a movie, think about your big three for a second. When you’re at a random meeting or a soccer game, think about your big three. How are you shaping your life and your art? How is your art shaping the world? Does it matter to you? How? How not?

What you put your energy and time into matters. The things you do, your commitments, have to not be so overwhelming that the creative part of your mind shrivels up and dies. You want to and deserve to flourish. Keep the things that matter to you, add value to you, and pluck off the rest.

And remember, so many ideas and epiphanies happen when your mind is at rest – in the shower, driving in the car (sort of at rest), at the edge of sleep, working out. There is a reason for that. It’s in the white space that ideas sprout, that innovation has the room to occur.

Writers Write

So what do you do when you can’t write? If our actions define us, then do we stop being a writer if we stop writing? It’s a good question.

Bring On The Pressure

Some of us kick butt when the pressure is on. Death. Pandemic. Job loss? For some of us those things actually make us run to the page and write and process and puke up all the words.

MAKE IT ALL GO AWAY

For some of us? Well, we can only write when we’re happy and excited and things are going in a kick-butt ways.

So What Do You Do If You Are In The Second Group?

It’s okay to take a hiatus. If you hold your breath, you don’t stop being a human. If you take a writing pause, you don’t stop being a writer.

Are you afraid that if you stop writing that you’ll never write again? If so, you need to get a support group to help you talk through that. You need people to keep you accountable.

Channel Your Inner Oprah

Be about the self care. That doesn’t mean binging Tiger King or running six miles while drinking green shakes made of kale. It’s about finding the right way to journey through your day, your week, your month and finding a balance. Find the things that make you happy and put them on your to-do list for a half hour a day. Make it a priority to make yourself happy and balanced. Don’t be all about work. Don’t be all about other people’s needs. Don’t be all about not writing. Take care of your damn self.

When people are hurt? They need to recover. Allow yourself to recover.

I am trying terribly hard to start running again. I am a person who actually has to wear knee braces when I run so my knees don’t pop out. Full disclosure: My knees pop out just sitting in a chair for three hours. And when they pop out? I can’t run for two weeks or so.

Running is my favorite thing to do.

But I have to pause every month or so and stop and let myself recover.

Writing and our brains can be like this, too. We need to give them time to revitalize, get strong. 

So how do we do that?

Create A Plan Of Action

Let’s say you’re a writer as a full-time job. You kind of have to keep writing to keep paying for your food, your house, and so on, right? What do you do if you are having a crisis of faith and brain?

  • Make a scheduled time plan and stick to it. Figure how long each tasks take and when the deadlines are and do a bit each day.
  • Remember why you are writing in the first place. 
  • Try to remember that things are almost always temporary and change is a natural state. This is how I get through almost every bad feeling and experience. I know that it can’t last forever. Sometimes I have to chant that to know it, but it works.
  • If something isn’t essential, put it at the bottom of your TO DO list. Like laundry. You don’t get to do laundry until you’ve written 300 words. That sort of thing. I do this all the time.
  • Take care of your darn self. Drink water not just tequila. Have a salad not just Doritos. Keep your body strong.
  • Check in with others. Find people who aren’t full of judgement and who are supportive. Check in with them every day. A little accountability and support go a long way in making you feel less alone. I promise.

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 213,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw, weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

RECENT EPISODES OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

Link to Sam Spellacy’s interview.

Link to Cara Sawyer (librarian of awesome) interview. 

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

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

Continue reading “What To Do When Life and Writing Sucks – Be Your Own Damn Hero”

Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead

It all began with my mom freaking out about a feather.

My mom has always been afraid of birds. That fear started long before I existed and was made worse by a visit to a science museum in Boston where an owl swooped near her head and glared at her. Apparently, that powerful owl glare was enough to push her over the edge.

I wasn’t allowed to have bird feeders or stuffed animal birds. If there were robins outside on our lawn, Mom would avert her eyes and draw the shades in the windows.

My mother’s fear of birds grew so big that she screeched when I was four years old and proudly brought a peacock feather home from a nursery school field trip to a wild animal farm. I was so psyched about this feather, which I won by answering a bunch of animal questions correctly.

The feather made me feel super smart for the first time in my little life. It was my prize and my reward and I was the only one in the whole nursery school who received one. It was like a Nobel Prize or a Pulitzer in my four-year-old head. It was such a super big deal and I knew — I just was absolutely positive — that my mom would be psyched and put it on the wall and maybe frame it or something while she announced to all her friends, “My youngest daughter, Carrie? She is so smart. So smart, I tell you! See this feather? It proves it.”

When I presented the coveted prize to my mom, she screamed and made me throw the feather outside.

“Get it out! Get that dirty thing out of our house!” she yelled. Actually, she screeched.

I remember pivoting in our heavily wooded, dark kitchen, running out to the screened-in porch, and into our yard. I took the peacock feather to a giant boulder where I played deserted island and Wizard of Oz and all my lonely made-up games, and I climbed up to the top of the rock.

Once there, I kissed the feather, the dirty thing, goodbye. I cried because it was so beautiful and I won it and then I had to let it go.

I let that beautiful feather go. I didn’t hold onto it the way we tend to hold onto our fears. It is just so hard to let go of our fears. That’s especially true for my poor mom who wouldn’t go to friends’ houses if they had birds in cages. She hated the beach because birds were at the beach. Every year black birds would hang out on our front lawn during their migration. There would be hundreds of them. She’d call in sick to work. Her fear held her back over and over again.

Years after the peacock incident, my mom ran screaming from a park where we were having a picnic with my daughter who was then two. A seagull had come too close. Too close was about a football field away.

When I caught up with my mom, she was standing in the doorway of a local restaurant, shaking.

“Don’t judge me!” she said. She was reapplying her lipstick with a shaking hand.

I grabbed her hand in mine because the lipstick application was not going well.

“I’m not judging you,” I told her, “but I don’t want Em to grow up afraid.”

That’s when I realized that my mom missed out on so much of life even though she was the liveliest, absolutely most alive person I knew. She missed out because she listened to her fear.

My daughter grew up to study Krav Maga in Israel, to apply and get in to Harvard, to become a field artillery officer in the Army. She’s jumped off roofs at stunt camp, log rolled, rock climbed, was the flyer of her cheerleading squad. She is known for picking up birds that she finds in parking lots, shopping centers, and bringing them to safety.

She is bold and unafraid most of the times. She’s not a fan of spiders, but she deals with them. Even when she is afraid, she faces her fears, snarls at them, and tells them to stand down.

She made my poor mom’s heart race and palpitate more than once.

Even for those of us who don’t have phobias like my Mom, the biggest fears that we have are often the ones about not being enough, not smart enough, not loved enough, just not enough. Of failure. Of being imperfect. Of being alone. There are so many fears we punish ourselves with. But we don’t have to listen to those fears. We can face the fears, see them for what they are and ignore the fears’ advice to cower, to yell, to blame, to run away.

My mother was afraid of a feather.

A feather.

And our fears? The ones we hold inside of us? The ‘not good enough’ moments that feel so dam real? They are even less substantial than that feather.

That’s right. Those fears are not even as heavy as a feather, nowhere near as substantial. Still, we let them hurt us and hold us back.

Here’s the thing: You don’t have to let them hold you back.

Here’s the other thing: You can’t ignore your fear and you can’t give in to it. You have to jump headlong into the scariness and embrace the fear and snarl at it and know what it is. What is it? Fear is that voice that rings so loudly in your brain telling you what to do or what not to do. When you refuse to listen to it? That’s when you win.

You can beat your fears.

What are you afraid of? What makes you shake and cower? Not your phobias. But your fears. Are you afraid of failing so much that you don’t try to succeed? Bankruptcy? Not being loved? Commitment? Being evil? Being good? Being taken advantage of? Taking advantage of others? Face them head on because those fears are keeping you from being your best self.

I’m trying to be my best self. I fail a lot! So much! But I hope you’ll grab my hand even when it’s shaking and try with me. I think we can do this. Together.

Email or comment if you want to say hi and talk about it, okay?

Latest podcast is here!


Continue reading “Don’t Be Like My Mom. You Can’t Run From Fear; You’ve Got to Snarl at It Instead”

Tips on Being A Debut Novelist

I wrote this back on LiveJournal (I feel so old) when my first traditionally published novel debuted. And… Well, I thought I might share it with you all.


Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend is good to go…
And yet… 
And yet….

I am really scared, which means I must create (you guessed it) a list.

TIPS ON BEING A DEBUT NOVELIST

1. Try not to pass out when you recieve proofs in the mail.

2. If you do pass out, try not to pass out on top of the dog. Vet bills are enormous.

3. Try not to rewrite the entire book when you see your proofs. This will be a temptation. Resist the temptation.

4. Once you mail back your proofs, stop thinking about them. Do not wonder if you should have written the dog instead of a dog. THE ARTICLE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE! HOLY CRUD! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE? It is over now, let it go.

5. Realize it is not truly over. Your book is going to be out there in three months. THREE MONTHS!!!!!

6. Oh my God.

7. Pass out again.

8. Thank the man standing near you for catching you. Decide he’s cute. Vow to use him in your next book.

9. Realize that the world might not notice your little book. Sure you called it I had Stephen Colbert’s Love Child. Still …

10. Rethink your title. It would have been so much better if it was I HAD STEPHEN COLBERT’S LOVE CHILD IN MY PANTS. Call editor in attempt to change it. When he refuses curse author Maureen Johnson for making you doubt all titles that do not have the tag, In My Pants. 

AND HERE THE LIST GETS EVEN WEIRDER ….

11. Wonder how other authors get on CNN. Wonder how authors get awards. Wonder how authors stay sane. Wonder if they do? Any of them?

12. Then do the worst thing of all: Wonder if anyone will buy your book other than your mother and your high school creative writing teacher. 

 13. Panic

14. Hit your head against the refrigerator door and knock of the cat bottom magnets that you bought in a moment of weakness.

15.  Realize that you bought kitty butt magnets, and you are still being published. How can this be? 

16. Cry.

17.  Pass out again. Refuse to wake up this time. Shout, NO. NO! I’M DEAD. REVIVE ME IN 6.2 MONTHS WHEN MY BOOK IS BACKLISTED.

18. Decide to be a dentist.

19. Wonder if you’re smart enough to be a dentist if you can’t even get the numbering of a list quite right.

20. Decide yes.



Big News!

I just published 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 preorder it here. Please, please, preorder 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.


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

Becoming

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


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST- DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

This link to our last episode, Are You Beige and Do You Think in Words?

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

BALLSY SPONSORED THIS EPISODE! 

We’re super psyched because this episode is sponsored by Ballsy. 

Best sponsorship ever. 

And why is that? 

Because Ballsy is for fun couples like us who are not into lame gifts for Valentine’s Day and they have a cool gift set just for Valentine’s Day and people like us. 

You want this, don’t you?

There’s an I’m Nuts About You gift set and the You’re Incrediballs heart box set. 

They are running a promo right now for LOVE DAY and all days, really. The retail price is $less than $50, and the coupon code is for 20% off.

Here is your code for you, our cool listener: DOGS20 

It has the word DOG in the code. That’s so cool. Just like you’ll be cool if you give this to your special man for Valentine’s. So go check Ballsy out at ballwash.com

Epilepsy, Writing, and Choices

One day I was hanging out in the hallway of the middle school with some other mommies, waiting for all the sports practices to be over so we could shuttle our kids home.

These two other moms standing next to me were talking about diets and diabetes. They were both on Weight Watchers. One mom had lost tons of weight. The moms talk about the effect of weight on piercing private places and all this incredibly personal stuff.

And I am completely uptight so I basically listened with my mouth hanging open while backing up a step whenever I thought that they wouldn’t notice me backing up a step.

Then they started talking about sugar and sugar substitutes (Splenda and Aspartame).

One mom said, “That Aspartame. I stay away from that stuff. It makes the back of my throat feel funny. I think it does something to rats.”

So I said to the ladies who were just thirty seconds earlier talking about private part piercings, “Aspartame gives me seizures.”

I swear both their mouths dropped open and they both actually stopped talking, which was a big deal, because they NEVER stop talking.

And I learned: You can talk about your diabetes, your husband’s joy stick, your own special piercings, your kids’ bed wetting, but you can’t talk about epilepsy.

And, this? This just totally sucks. 

Because, I’m someone who is really, really lucky. I know what makes me have seizures so I avoid those things, but other people aren’t lucky at all. 
About one person in every 50 will have epilepsy at some point in his/her life. And they don’t always have the choice of disclosure, and they just have the stigma. 

So? What does this have to do with writing?

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the choices I’ve made in the books I’ve written. With Belle, the protagonist of Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, I made her a member of Amnesty International for really important reasons. I also gave her seizures, the same kind of seizures I have, caused by the same thing.

Her epilepsy is not a part of the plot. It’s not a part of the character development. But it’s there.

And, no matter how bad my book is, or how good, or that it won awards or made me a traditionally published writer, I am really, really glad I made that choice for Belle. 

Gabby’s Monday Motivation

Good Morning!

The world? It can be scary.

But put on your best warrior face.

Go surprise them with your kindness & how fine you are.

Look at you!

You’re so shiny.

Let the world see that. Let the world see you. Face that scary with beauty. You’ve got this.

xo

Gabby Dog

Big News!

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up? I’ll be sending out more news about this soon!


COOKING WITH AN AUTHOR

This week’s Cooking With an Author – vegetarian recipes with a quirky, author twist is here. It’s all about hangover burritos. You do not have to be hungover or to ever have had alcohol to enjoy them. 

Burritos
Writer recipes

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

Last week’s podcast

This week’s podcast link.

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.”

Continue reading “Epilepsy, Writing, and Choices”

Losing Brilliance to AIDS

I posted this twelve years ago on WORLD AIDS DAY. It was WORLD AIDS DAY again on Sunday. So I am posting it again.

Back when I was in college someone I adored died of AIDS. He died in December.

This man was brilliant and cool and kind and he made me believe that I was:


1. Smart.
2. Had a responsibility to make the world better.

Believe me, those weren’t easy things for me to believe, and sometimes I have a hard time believing them still.

But this man? This beautiful, brilliant man who died of AIDS complications? He was my example of how you can do it. He grew up really poor with just a mom running the household. He was his class valedictorian in high school and college. He desegregated a fraternity system when that was unheard of. He made the world better. He went to Harvard Law even though nobody else in his close family had even gone to college. His whole life he volunteered and worked and made the world better. He was a lovely father. He was the best kind of friend. He was elegant and passionate and logical.

I miss him terribly.

December 1 is WORLD AIDS DAY. 

Back when he died, I really thought there would be a cure by now. I really thought that the world would ban together and completely fix this. 

AIDS is still a problem. It’s a huge problem. One of many.

Find out more here.

Or here.

There’s a lot of things you can do to make a difference but I guess I’d like to add that the first step is to care.

That’s right.

Just care.

A lot of people died of AIDS. A lot of people still die from preventable diseases. A lot of people die from violence, poverty, hate. I think that we owe it to them to lift up their memories, to live our lives respecting their beauty and their light. I know that I’ll keep trying. I hope you might too.



THIS WEEK’S PODCAST


WRITING NEWS

Continue reading “Losing Brilliance to AIDS”

Florida Man and the Queen of Kittens

Florida Man and the Queen of Kittens

 
 
00:00 / 00:18:03
 
1X
 

Stories are about people having emotions. Writers who write from their heads (outlining like crazy, etc,) are often missing out on the emotion because they are analyzing how to show emotion. 

But it’s desire and yearning that makes stories stand out and makes writers into artists and truth tellers. 

Robert Olen Butler says that yearning creates a dynamic of desire and that dynamic of desire creates plot and story. The need, the yearning, the want, is something that needs to bleed out into the page and it does. It does. 

Good stories have two epiphanies in them that use this yearning. The first epiphany shows up early in the story where all the details culminate to show the reader what it is that the main character wants. The reader gets it, responds, relates, understands and yearns for it too – yearns for it enough to turn the page and keep reading. 

The second epiphany is basically the climax or the story’s crisis. The main character is fully committed to her desire and she is at that make-or-break point and we’re there with her. 

The difference between regular books and books that rock your soul is that they are about wants, not about yearnings. Yearnings are bigger than wants. They are the desire of the inside. The foe blocks that desire, that attempt to fulfill yearnings. The character responds. And that is plot. 

Writers Tip of the Pod

Make your characters yearn.

Dog Tip For Life

Go after what you yearn for. 

Random Thoughts

In our random thoughts this week you get to hear:

  • Shaun fail to see his beer advent calendar
  • The Queen of Kittens talk about BTX
  • Florida Men and the things you do
  • Christmas Tree success.

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.


This Week’s Podcast


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

Bar harbor arts
Carrie Jones Art

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

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.

Facing Your Fears

This past week, I travelled six hours to Vermont to do four days of writer residencies at a cool small school in Orange, which is the best name for a New England town other than Banana. I then drove eighteen hours (Thanks traffic!) to High Point, North Carolina for a funeral.

And during this time I had a lot of anxiety because:

  1. I want to do a good job when I hang out with students.
  2. I am a terrible driver who doesn’t see out her left eye.
  3. I get nervous about meeting people.

To be fair, once I actually meet people then all bets are off and I become ridiculously extroverted and happy. I just have stage fright about real life.

This all made me think about my first book series, NEED, which came out in 2008 because the main character, Zara, was obsessed with fears. While other people are focusing on photos of themselves at the beginning of this decade (2009) and now (2019), I thought it would be cool to see if I’m not older (obviously) and have less eyebrows (also, yep), but if my fears have changed.

Back in 2008, I actually did a fear meme, which I’ve posted below.

Fear Questions

The first bracket is 2008. The second is now.

[ ] the dark
[ ] staying single forever
[ ] being a parent
[ ] giving birth
[ ] being myself in front of others
[ ] open spaces
[} closed spaces
[ ] heights
[  ] dogs
[ ] birds
[ ] fish
[ ] spiders
[ ] flowers or other plants

Total so far:0, still 0

[ ] being touched
[ ] fire  
[ ] deep water
[ ] snakes
[ ] silk
[ ] the ocean
[ ] failure
[ ] success
[ ] thunder/lightning
[ ] frogs/toads
[ ] my boyfriends/girlfriend’s dad
[ ] boyfriends/girlfriend’s mom
[ ] rats
[ ] jumping from high places
[ ] snow

Total so far: 0 and 0

[ ] rain
[ ] wind
[ ] crossing hanging bridges
[ ] death
[ ] heaven
[ ] being robbed
[ ] falling
[ ] clowns
[ ] dolls
[ ] large crowds of people
[ ] men
[ ] women
[ ] having great responsibilities
[x ] doctors, including dentists – I am no longer afraid of them.
[ ] tornadoes 

Total so far: 1 and now 0

[ ] hurricanes 
[ ] incurable diseases
[ ] sharks
[ ] Friday the 13th
[ ] ghosts
[ ] poverty – I am now afraid of this. This is a problem.
[ ] Halloween
[ ] school
[ ] trains
[ ] odd numbers
[ ] even numbers
[ ] being alone
[ ] becoming blind
[ ] becoming deaf
[ ] growing up

Total so far: 0 and now 1

[ x] creepy noises in the night – Nope. Not any longer.
[ ] bee stings
[ ] not accomplishing my dreams/goals
[ ] needles
[ ] blood
[ ] dinosaurs
[ ] the welcome mat
[ ] high speed
[ ] throwing up
[ ] falling in love
[ ] super secrets

Final Total: It was 2. It is now a big 1

The original poster wrote:

If you get more than 30, I strongly recommend some counseling.
If you get more than 20, you’re paranoid.
If you get 10-20, you are normal.
If you get 10 or less, you’re fearless.
People who don’t have any are liars.

So, apparently I am fearless.

But I’m ot.

Actually my true phobia is downhill skiing! I know! I know! How ridiculous. The other one? Being afraid of poverty? It limits me and keeps me from taking chances so I really have to work on it.

I feel like I should do a shameless, want to help me not face poverty? Buy art. Buy a book. Be a patron. That’s shameless though. Or is it just good marketing? Hm….

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. 

Sometimes People Suck, Yes Even Parents and Writers

Being a writer is cool and weird. I’m trying to explain this to the students I’m visiting in Vermont this week, and mostly I’ve been talking about:

  1. How cool/weird it is to make up entire worlds and characters in your head and other people read them.
  2. How cool/weird it is to have people fight over your books in line or cry when they meet you.
  3. How cool/weird it is to get emails from people you don’t know.

But sometimes the weird way outweighs the cool when it comes to random emails from people you don’t know.

And no, I’m not talking about the emails that:

  1. Tell you that you are beautiful
  2. Tell you that your nephew has been kidnapped and you must wire money right now.
  3. Tell you that you won a foreign lottery.

I’m talking about emails like this one:

You sound like a very curious, interesting, clever girl. I was hoping to find something that would give these kids a leg to stand on morally and spiritually.
So far I’m not seeing anything with any direction except sucky things happening to young girls.
Hmmmmm OK I’ll withhold further comments until I read one of your books.
But fix it.

Random Mother in Maine Who Likes to Email Imperatives to Authors she Doesn’t Know

And that mother makes me so sad because she’s in charge of a kid right now and she doesn’t realize that sucky things do happen to girls (young and old) and people (young and old) all the time. Those things happen. And books are out there because books reflect life and expand on it and help you empathize about it and be a part of it.

“But fix it,” she said.

I went to that presentation in Maine. I drove three hours. I shook when I saw that parent in the back of the classroom, glaring. “She’s difficult,” the school told me. “Very very difficult. But we don’t think she’ll harm you.”

That was a tiny worry, but my bigger worry is her kid and was her kid.

“But fix it,” she said.

No, ma’am, you fix yourself. And hopefully once you do that, you and me and a whole bunch of other people can spread kindness in this world instead of perpetual suck. Deal?

It’s easy to succumb to the suck of other people. When authors get criticized they can lash out. Everyone can lash out. They don’t have a special course in Author School where they teach you to deal with criticism, stalkers, how to do a school visit, how to be kind. They just expect us to know. We don’t always know.

That makes me sad, obviously, because I want writers to be good role models. But some of us weren’t taught that either. Fixing it, fixing ourselves, making the choices that are right isn’t a constant thing. But I know I want to be better. I want everyone, even that angry mom who wrote that email and glared at me, to be better.

I think we can.

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.