Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – First Drafts Suck, But It’s Okay

Hard writer truth time:

First drafts suck.

Almost everything stinks the first time you do it. That’s because it’s THE FIRST time you do it. But, we tend to expect to have our writing be perfect somehow.

Why?

Guitarists don’t expect to be Mark Knopffler the moment they pick up a guitar. Singers don’t expect to be Norah Jones the first time they sing. Sculptors don’t expect to be Michelangelo.

Here’s the Thing:

Being good takes practice.

And even if you’ve written 100 novels already? There is a high likelihood that your first draft of your next novel? It’s going to suck.

But it’s not the end of the world. The end of the world is when you give up.

So, how do you make your sucky first draft better?

Think about it.

 

How to Get Past Your crappy first draft. Three secret ways to write better
You can do it

WRITER TIP OF THE POD

You want to make that first draft a better second draft? Think of these three things to start off right.

  1. Think about what your character wants more than anything in the world. Make sure you have that in your story.
  2. Think about what your character would never do – not ever. Revise your story so that this becomes a high moment of tension, of possibility.
  3. Add tension to every page. EVERY PAGE!

DOG TIP FOR LIFE!

Sometimes, it’s hard to catch the ball in your mouth, especially the first time. Try again anyways. Once you do it right, you get the ball… in your mouth! Score!

Dog Tip for Life
Dog Tip for Life

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – First Drafts Suck, But It’s Okay

 
 
00:00 / 00:14:56
 
1X
 
Advertisements

The Space Where Our Power is At

“Between stimulus and response there is a space.

In that space is our power to choose our response.

In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

Victor Frankl

Heidegger said that “being” is always in relation to something else. Human life is “da sein,” which is often translated into “being in the world.”

That’s a pretty cool phrase – being in the world.

How we experience our nows is part of what is necessary to live fully and presently as possible. Experience is part of being. (Gendlin, 1996).

But the thing is that so many of us forget to experience our existence, our being, our space in this world. Why should we do this?

It helps center us.

Focusing on our experience helps make us remember who we are in the moment and it makes us feel better.

Where is the space that our power is at? It’s in that focus, that attention to experience.

A pretty mellow exercise to do this is as follows:

  1. Pay attention to your body.
  2. How does it feel?
  3. Are your feet on the floor? Does it feel right to be touching the ground?
  4. Move on to your legs. How are you standing, walking, sitting in this world?
  5. You have a back. It’s supporting you. How is it doing that?
  6. Your arms, your hands, your fingers. Your fingers are pretty magical. They are sense magicians, bringing information from the outside into your brain. How cool is that?
  7. How does the light or darkness feel against your skin? Do you smell things? Is there wind?
  8. Now think about you in this space and say, “I am.”
  9. You are.
  10. I am.
  11. Did you see anything? Feel anything? Release anything?
  12. Now say, “I am here.”

You are. You are in this world.

Creating resonance and cohesion in your life and your story. Tips on how to make life better.
Resonate

Dog Tip for Life: Dogs are always in this world, vitally connected to it. They know that their existence is part of everything. I am here pretty much oozes off a dog’s every moment.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Just like we have to fully feel our own existence, we have to feel our characters’ existence, what is like to be them, interacting with the world we’ve created for them. Imagine yourself as your character. Imagine yourself as your character doing that exercise. Now write down a paragraph as them, first person.

Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
This is a happy dog

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

The Podcast

Dogs are Smarter Than People, the podcast
Look, Mom! It’s a podcast.

And please subscribe to and like our podcast if you listen and spread the word. It’s kind of you and it makes us feel happy. The RSS feed is here.

The Space Where Our Power is At

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:44
 
1X
 

The Worst Things My Dogs Did

I love dogs.

I love my dogs. I mean look at them. I’ve had a great line of awesome rescue dogs that have blessed my life.

But sometimes? Sometimes horrible things happen. Things that seem like they should not happen in real life. Things that seem like they should only happen in horror movies.

One of those things? Well, once the dog, the big dog, the big dog with the massive bladder let loose the contents of her bladder on hardwood floor of the upstairs hallway.

We discovered this because there was a puddle on the downstairs floor.

“What is that?” the man asked.

“Um… pee?”

“That’s not pee.”

“It smells like pee.”

“It can’t be pee. It’s dripping from the ceiling.”

And I foolishly said, “It really smells like pee.”

The man then unleashed a massive stream of cursing that really belonged in record books. He vaulted up the stairs and cursed more.

“The BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORDING BAD WORD dog BAD WORDED AND BAD WORDED up here.”

“It will be okay,” I said.

“It is so not okay,” the man said.

I grabbed paper towels and bleach spray and bleach wipes and headed up the stairs.

The man grabbed a mop and bucket and continued to swear.

“Urine is literally dripping from our ceiling. OUR CEILING!”

The dog went out on the porch, which would have been a much better place for her to unleash the contents of her doggy bladder of Olympian size.

This whole event happened immediately after we came upstairs because the basement had  flooded. Our basement had never flooded before. There had been two inches of rain and I guess it inspired basement flooding and doggy bladders?

Yeah. I’m reaching there.

Anyway, this all happened during a day in which nothing went right, but I totally held it together anyways. This happened during a day where the one thing I was looking forward to for AN ENTIRE YEAR got cancelled because a projector at a movie theater broke.

It happened.

The dog had a massive accident. The accident found a knot in the wood and dripped through it onto the kitchen floor.

It was messy and disgusting and swear worthy.

And we survived. Right?

I love dogs and people and humanity, but man… if we don’t mess things up beautifully sometimes.

But what matters is loving through it, surviving through it, continuing through it.

And also bleach wipes.

Bleach wipes are important.

 

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/

One time when I was a emergency dispatcher, I came home and Tala and Scotty, my then-dogs, greeted me at the door, all doggy happy. Scotty, was my new dog and he was a rescue dog from Alabama who was in a kill shelter and for a long time we had thought that he was perhaps a grandpa who likes crawfish and BudLite a lot and was somehow caught in a dog’s body – like he was a shapeshifter who got stuck.  He had a puncture wound in his neck when he got here, two small holes. So, I think a vampire is to blame.

He’d also been shot.

His tongue had also been flayed and had healed, but one side didn’t work.

You know I’m a grandpa in real life – a human grandpa who likes BudLite.

Before that night, I had already witnessed him:

1. Get ice out of the refrigerator.
2. Use his paw on a door handle to open a door.

And now, he did this….

Do you see that? It’s a drawer that was COMPLETELY shut when I left the house. This means he grabbed it with his mouth and got it open at least a little bit and then he either wedged his nose in or something and opened it more.

Why would he do that? Oh, he was probably sick of dog food and bored because I was gone. Which is bored doggy behaviour, I know, but I present more evidence….

This was just part of the mess the dogs made. Notice the bottle of corn syrup was still standing up? Would a dog do that?

“No! A dog would not do that,” said Tala. “A dog would do this! Look at all that powdered sugar mixed with shoe! Yummy! I give it 5 stars!!!”

Side note: Dog saliva combined with powdered sugar on a wood floor creates a glue-like paste that is impossible to vacuum or mop up. It must be attacked with Clorox bleach wipes. I swear. I did not know this that night.

And finally, though they ate peanut butter chips and brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and Crisco shortening and Shepard’s Pix mix and Italian seasoning mix, they did NOT eat this….

Do you know what that is? It is chocolate!!! Chocolate KILLS dogs. And they left it, only tearing open the end. I sort of imagine Scotty holding Tala back and saying, “Baby. It smells good, but it’s poison. It will kill us. Let’s go lick up the sugar.”

See? I swear he was human!

You know it, baby. Now go get me a beer while I lick the sugar off this here rug.

I miss Tala and Scotty and all the dogs I’ve had before. I miss them even though they weren’t perfect. I miss them even though they had flaws. That’s the thing, if the living creatures we love are flawed? That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of love. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of our love.

Nobody’s perfect. Not even a dog. But that’s okay. It just means that they are real.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

I’ll be at Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor on April 28 from 1-2.

To find out more about my books, there are links in the header. And if you buy one? Thank you so much. Let me know if you want me to send you a bookplate.

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along with over 3,000 listens.

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.

 

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome six-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money. We’ll be having a Zoom class to learn more about it and I’ll share the details as soon as they are official.

Write Submit Support

Make Your Life and Your Writing Resonate

The best kind of work is the kind that makes you messy (even if you’re a Virgo) inside and out.

And for a lot of writers, especially writers for kids, our job isn’t just about making story; it’s about making a difference somehow in at least one kid’s life. That is a messy business because in order to make a difference, you have to dig deep, to go through a lot of dirt and mud and rock to get to what it is that matters to you and to your story and to your reader and/or life partners.

When I go to schools, I always tell the kids that one of the important steps to becoming the best writers you can be is to live the biggest life you can live. To not risk life or jail time, but to have adventures, to do things that you would never expect yourself doing.

YOUR LIFE IS YOUR STORY. MAKE IT A BIG ONE.

Big stories have conflict, and none of us are really into conflict in our lives, but it’s the conflict that allows our stories to have meaning and resonance.

Big stories have awkward moments and worries. Our characters and our selves feel overwhelmed. We feel like we can’t make it sometimes. That’s part of what makes surviving such a sweet triumph.

Being a writer is about more than craft. It’s about the story of how to be a writer, your story. It’s part of the bigger story of your life.

Being a writer is about more than craft. It's about life and resonance and cohesion.
Writing is life.

 

EVERY LESSON ABOUT WRITING CRAFT IS ACTUALLY A LESSON ABOUT LIFE.

Talking about paying attention to detail in your scene? It’s the same as paying attention to the details in your real life.

Talking about traits of your character and how to make them heroes (or not)? It’s the same as talking about the traits that make you the you that you so beautifully are.

Talking about resolution to your story is the same as talking about resolution to your relationships, to your current conflict, to your own life and death.

I know, right? Mind blown.

In every story we write there needs to be some logic and there needs to be some spirit or resonance.

What makes the logic of the story?

That comes from plot, pacing, character, and theme. You start your story with a vision and then the other elements are honed and refined to express that vision.

The logic is the structure of the story, how it all works together. It’s how your plot isn’t just action, but a movement forward towards an end point – and how that movement forward makes sense and works together with the character, the theme, the pacing.

Events that happen must make the character react and act.

Creating resonance and cohesion in your life and your story. Tips on how to make life better.
Resonate

AND RESONANCE?  WHAT’S RESONANCE?

It’s the story’s value. It’s the universal nature of the story. It’s what makes the reader’s heart and mind go, “A-ha!”

It’s what makes you remember the story. We’ve all met people, read books, watched movies or shows or heard songs and forgotten them, but the ones that resonate? Those are the ones we remember.

Think Hamilton.  Hamilton resonates across so many demographics partially because it’s the story about immigration and triumph and death, about idealism and it’s then set to something that feels more new in musical theater – the style of music, which is juxtaposed to the historical setting. It resonates.

Think about the Nas song War (Birth of a Nation). This song connects Nat Turner to the protests of today and about fighting to make a better U.S. It resonates.

It’s about theme and heart. It’s about authenticity and humanity. That’s what resonates.

SO HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR STORY RESONATE?

Think about what your story is really about on the deepest level.

HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR LIFE RESONATE?

Same thing. Think about what your life is really about on the deepest level.

dogs-are-smarter-than-people_std.original-1

Dog Tip for Life

Get dirty as much as you can. Dirt means you’re living. Dirt is real. Dirt is life.

Getting Messy makes you a better writer. carriejonesbooks.blog
dog tip for life

Writing Tip of the Pod – When you’re writing, don’t be afraid to have messy, uncomfortable things happen to your characters. A story with no conflict is not a story.

Advice about adding resonance and cohesion to your story
Bob? Yuri? Scary?

Random Bonus Picture from Random Thought Time

This is Bob. Or maybe Yuri? He is in our house. Shaun mentions him in the podcast. Bob/Yuri frightens me even though he has no arms.

Here’s a direct link to the podcast feed.

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

Writing News – Carrie’s

img_1604

Book Expo America

Carrie will be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball at Book Expo America on June 1 at 11:30 a.m.

WSSTypeWriter-300x300

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

“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.”

People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

Sparty knows all about that. More info about that series and all of Carrie’s books is here.

 

The Dog Takes Over the Blog Because Carrie Has Writer Waiting Syndrome

Everyone, Carrie is not paying attention to anything because she’s in Writer Waiting Mode.

So, I, Gabby the Dog have taken over the blog when I’m not busy barking at nothing. Spoiler Alert: I am almost always busy barking at nothing.

Carrie Jones Books
Gabby’s normal expression when she’s not barking

Let’s talk about Carrie though. She’s in the place called Writer Waiting Mode, which is what happens to writers when they are done typing on the flat thing and wait for someone to respond. That someone might be an agent, an editor, a teacher, a critique partner, or Chris Evans. Who knows? Writers make no sense.

But Carrie’s got the sickness full on.

How to take care of your pathetic writer - some dog tips
Owls are cute

Writer Waiting Mode symptoms include:


1. Panic eyes.
2. Failure to eat or increased appetite. It depends on the writer.
3. Pacing, which leads to callused feet.
4 Constant barely coherent murmuring, “Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it.”

So basically this doggy needs some love as does my author. But let’s talk about me.

I would like to announce that normally I look like this:

Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
This is a happy dog

But lately I’ve been looking like this:

Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
I look a little bit like I’ve been doing naughty things, don’t I?

See the difference? My eyes are narrow and I’m hazy and the whole scene is tinted brown? THAT IS BECAUSE CARRIE IS SO OUT OF IT!

There are certain proper care and maintenance steps that you must do to ensure your writer survives this waiting game. They follow below:

  1. Bark at them until they take you outside. Writers need air and exercise. Make sure to put the leash in their hand so you don’t lose them. Writers in this head space tend to wander.
  2. Bark at the refrigerator so that they remember to feed you and themselves.
  3. Bark at the bed so they don’t stay in it all the time.
  4. Bark at them so they remember they are alive.
  5. Cuddle with them. Writers need a lot of love.

So, wish her luck. Wish me luck! I’m going off to go bark at her now.

NYT bestselling kids book Carrie Jones gives writing and life tips.
Dogs work so hard for us

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Reviewsays:  A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast,DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Look, they made a pull quote!
Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones Time Stoppers, Book 2, Quest for the Golden Arrow, middle grade fantasy based in Maine
Look! They made another pull quote.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

There are Storms in My Brain

BRAINSTORMING?

Even the word sounds a little creepy. Like there is a storm inside your brain. It sounds… It sounds sort of violent and hazardous and windy. In this podcast, we talk about the storms inside our brain and how those storms can become story ideas.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Five Ways to Brainstorm Story Ideas

Five Ways To Get Story Ideas

Some authors have a really hard time just getting an idea for a new story. They burn out. They can’t find anything that they think is ‘good enough.’ They just don’t know where to start and that lack of a start makes them blocked.

This is so sad! There are ways to fight it.

ONE WAY TO STORM IS BY ADMIRING OTHER’S WORK

Think about ways that other people’s stories influence you. If you’re an Outlander fan, think about why. If you were to write your own kind of time travel story would it be like that? With a lot of spanking and stuff? Or something totally different. How would it be different?

ANOTHER WAY TO INCITE A HAILSTORM OF QUESTIONS

Ask your self questions. It’s all about ‘What if?’ What if Trump wasn’t president in 2018? What if everyone had blue hair? What if the earth had two moons? What if dogs were really space aliens?

16602300_10155094071004073_6742572453417595577_o

Sparty the Dog: Wait. You mean they aren’t?

Carrie the Human: No, buddy… I mean… I don’t think so?

 

THIRD WAY WHERE THE WIND IS SO STRONG IT PUSHES IMAGES INTO YOU

Some of my best ideas have come on a treadmill watching the country music network or MTV or some random YouTube channel with the sound off and just seeing images. Eventually, an image will hit me so hard that I have to write a story about it. The happened with my story, Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape).

FOURTH WAY OF ICY UNDERSTANDING

Figuring things out. This is sort of like Another Way, but instead of deliberately asking yourself off-the-wall questions, ask questions about things that matter to you. A lot of my stories are because I don’t understand something. Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend was because i couldn’t understand a hate crime that had happened. I mean, you can never understand that kind of hate, but this one incident was so bizarre that they only way I could deal with it was to write my way through it.

FIFTH WAY – AN EMOTIONAL BLIZZARD

Get emotional. What is it that always makes you laugh, cry with joy, weep with anger? What are the situations that pull at your heartstrings. Think about that as story. Write.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Inspiration is just attention. Notice what’s around you. Then ideas will come.

Dog Tip for Life
Dog Tip for Life

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Once you have your seed of information and your brain has successfully stormed, don’t second guess your idea. Write it down. If you are a plot-first writer, think up the questions to flesh out your idea – who is the protagonist. What is she up against? What’s her goal? How is she going to get it? Write it down. Do it. Don’t block yourself.

Writing Tip of the Podcast
Writing Tip of the Podcast

All the podcasts are linked to this page right here. You can find out more about us and the podcast there.

Dogs in Wigs.

I saw a dog with fake hair on the Cute-internet today, and I have to say that it’s terribly depressing that dogs are wearing people wigs.

I mean, dogs have fur! They have fur! But they are covering up their beautiful natural fur-i-tude with fake people hair. Isn’t there something wrong about this? I mean, yes, she is cute….

but seriously. Shouldn’t she be happy with who she is as a dog? Shouldn’t she embrace her fine doggy self instead of walking over to the side of salon visits, guava conditioners, and dolphin-decal manicures?

And sometimes… sometimes… the wig goes horribly wrong…

My Post-6 copy 2

Okay. Human readers you can stop listening now. We have a message from Gabby the Dog

ATTENTION ALL CANINES!!!!

It is okay to embrace your doggy self. If that means running around in mud flats and drooling. It’s okay.

Rolling around in dead skunk? Okay.

Eating split pea soup and then kissing everyone? Okay

And, yes, if it means wearing a wig, even a Hannah Montana wig, that’s okay, too, but remember the cats are watching, and they are snickering.

(What me snicker? I am a cat. I blog about it…. and only then I snicker.)

So, your Marise the Cat Monday motivation is this people: 

Live big. Wear wigs. Don’t wear wigs. Embrace your inner dog or your inner weird. Don’t let other people trample down your quirky with their disdain. Disdain? Judgement? Raised eyebrow looks at your awesome bewigged dogs?

That’s what’s boring.

Cats know.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I Need To Make Money to Survive

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that will come out Tuesday. That’s tomorrow! If you subscribe, you will never ever miss one.

To be fair, Shaun and I are more like um… these guys… that pro podcast people. Just keeping it real because it’s impossible for us not to.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

If you feel like buying it, that would be so amazing? And if you review it? Even better! Well, maybe not better, but also super kind of you. No pressure though!

 

The Dog Guide of Five Easy Ways To Make Your Humans Act Less Like Potatoes And Get Moving

This is Gabby, the dog, with an important message.

Fellow dogs, let’s face it, our humans are moving less and less. They stare at the square things that makes noise and takes photos. They snore louder than us. Our walk time is getting significantly low.

22089979_10155867045509073_3828046520746204844_n
Gabby: This is me, acting like a human, flopped on a bed like a human, unable to move like a human.

 

This is terrifying. Not just for their bodies, but for ours. Yes, I’m looking at you, Sparty Dog. You’re starting to resemble a dark bratwurst.

IMG_9975
Sparty: Bratwurst is delicious!

HUMANS AND SPARTY DOGS GET STUCK IN THEIR BAD HABITS

Look, I know how hard it is to motivate a human and teach her or him a new way of being. But the training is worth the hard work. 

Here are five easy ways to break the human’s habits and get her/him moving around again.

MODEL GOOD BEHAVIOR

Yeah, that’s right. Run around the couch a few times yourself. Bark at the door. Bring your ball to the door and hit the door incessantly with your paw. Eventually, the human will move off the couch and even the writer-job human will step away from their laptop. This is especially true if you can act like you have to go to the bathroom.

MAKE MOVING FUN

Humans respond well to positive reinforcement and affection. When they move, wag your tail. When they stand up, bark encouragingly and smile. This support goes a long way. Play the “take away the remote” game. This is basically ‘fetch’ for humans. You take their shoe, remote, sock, car keys and run away with them. They must fetch them back.  For your writing-job humans this is especially effective if you can get their entire laptop and/or power cord in your jowls and then run.

SCREEN TIME IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM SO STOP IT

I have known Chihuahuas to sit on phones and remotes for days in a heroic attempt to keep their human from watching endless loops of people gluing matches together or brides falling into swimming pools. This is brave and hard on your bottom. I hope it doesn’t come to that for you and your human. If all else fails, enlist the cat to take turns. Writers tend to forgive the cats more for sitting on things.

17991197_10155327097054073_3251369290759113015_n
Marsie the Cat: They forgive us for our indiscretions because we are godlike rather than doglike. 

But seriously, the more time the human watches other humans doing things, the less time your own human moves.  Also, if a writer says she is writing, but her fingers aren’t moving on the keyboard? She’s lying.

WALK YOUR HUMAN

I know you hate them, all dogs do, but leashing up your human to you almost always means that you can get them off the couch for at least five minutes. Humans are much easier to control when they are tethered to you, so bring them a leash. My favorite is rainbow. Sparty is partial to the sailboat leash even though he hates water. Weirdest Lab mix ever – but that’s another story.

IMG_0009
Sparty: You’re hurting my feelings, Gabby. Water is scary, okay?

According to the American Heart Association if you can get your human walking 30 minutes a day it helps your human’s heart. A lot. Human hearts are suffering lately, so we need to do everything we can to help.

MAKE THEM STAND

I know it’s hard to hide their cellphones, remotes, and laptops under your butt forever (unless you are Marsie), so when they do talk on it (instead of texting), try to get them to stand. Even that little motion and movement helps. So spill your dog food on the floor, drink your water pretty quickly. Do anything to motivate them to stand and move while they talk.

FINAL THOUGHTS

You can do this, dogs! Our humans need physical activity to keep their hearts healthy. Hearts keep them alive. We need them alive because they make bacon.

16426121_10155070666704073_3105547545269219495_n
Gabby: Bacon is important to happiness.

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

Kirkus Review says:  Jones gives readers the sketchy details of Berg’s life and exploits in carefully selected anecdotes, employing accessible, straightforward syntax.

And also says: A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

Booklist says it’s: An appealing picture-book biography. . . Written in concise sentences, the narrative moves along at a steady pace.  

This is lovely of them to say.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is real. I’m terrified.

There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.

We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog.

Here is a video about it. Sort of.

My Post-2 copy

Ten Writing Prompts for the Weird

I know that everyone in the entire writing universe loves writing prompts.

I do not love writing prompts. I know! Big admission there. Way to bring on the trolls.

The theory is that writing prompts help authors suffering from the dreaded writing block. I do not ever suffer from the dreaded writing block. I know! I’m hiding now.

Full disclosure: I don’t suffer from writer’s block because I have no internal censor, and also because I accept the fact that my first drafts will be terrible. It’s also because I come from the world of newspapers and poetry. In those worlds, you have big work ethics and are used to making no money at all. So, I refuse to have writer’s block because I am too busy realizing how freaking blessed I am to get to do this at all. So lucky. And I don’t want to be a newspaper reporter again.

I want you to be lucky, too. I want you to be a rockstar of writing, but a cool one without ego issues or substance abuse problems.

My Post-2

But back to writing prompts.  They help people and people get unblocked.

I look at them, and I get… I get bored.  So, I decided to jazz up some really common ones with a weird twist. I live on an island in Maine, according to my friends that makes it okay for me to be this weird. My friends are liars.

The Ten PROMPTS OF WEIRDNESS

Outside the Window: What’s the monster outside your window doing right now? If that’s not inspiring, what’s the monster in your coffee mug? Oh, yeah. You know it’s there.

The Bloodfeud: Write about the conflict that has torn your family apart for generations. Bonus points for the use of the undead.

The Shuffle: You hear a shuffling noise. Is that from outside or in?

Food: Write a poem about the last time you were served for dinner.

Hamsters in Love: Two hamsters. One love. Separate cages. 

Enemies: Write about the person in real life or pretend life or undead life that you can’t stand. Make them your teacher or your parent. What would that be like?

Unicorn Time: There’s a unicorn. What’s she doing?

Done with You: Write a poem where the first line is “Done with you.”

The Found Poem: Find a blog. Print it out. Circle words. Make a poem out of those words.

The Cat: Write about what’s going on in this cat’s mind.

 

IMG_3208

 

 

 

 

 

There! Easy and weird. I hope they help!

 

Adobe Spark-6

PODCAST AND BOOK NEWS!

In my big writing news, the podcast is live!

LIVE!

Please go leave a comment, or a review, and pretend to listen, because I’ve been freaking out about this so hard. It’s on iTunes and Stitcher and Castos at the moment and the RSS feed is also here. The feed has bonus material and free things. It’ll be on GooglePlay if I can ever get the screen to validate to not be just a big webpage of blankness.

 

I am so freaked out this that I actually made a video! And I will probably eventually make a contest or something.

But no matter what, it’s quirky and real, and so much random fun.

I think I’m so worried because it’s so authentic and because I was bullied mercilessly about my Muppet voice when I was a kid. So, yeah…. big vulnerability issues there, which is also why I had to do it. I had to face my fears. Right?

Someone say, “right.”

Please….?

Pausing To Try To Be Chill. Failing. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

16426121_10155070666704073_3105547545269219495_n

Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this? Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

IMG-1613

A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

22089979_10155867045509073_3828046520746204844_n

Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sister Marsie. Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, she was terrified. Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her hip. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

10330383_10152503624899073_8162270629052191571_n

So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is: Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg in Wrinkle in Time is: Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted? Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

19059937_10155503940174073_8046077922293186764_n

 

Writing Tip – Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified. Here is a video about it. Sort of.