There Is Nothing Better than a Sexy Setting

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
There Is Nothing Better than a Sexy Setting
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Lately, Carrie has been talking to a lot of writers that she coaches and edits about settings.

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

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

“Yep,” Shaun says.

“Cool.”

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

“Okay?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It doesn’t matter. Nothing matters.

“Cool.” That’s all I say.

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

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

“Okay,” I whisper. “Okay.”

Totally different, right?

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

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

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

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

“Yep,” Shaun says.

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

I say, “Cool.”

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

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

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

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

Tips About Setting

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

Sprinkle it into the dialogue and action like salt.

Let us reiterate: Don’t overdo it.

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

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

Use setting to add subtext.

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

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

Be weird. Be quirky. Don’t be normal.

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

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

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

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

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

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

NEW BOOK ALERT!

What would you do to make a difference?

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

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

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

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

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

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

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

RESOURCES

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

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

Naughty Transitions are A Writer’s Best Friend

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Naughty Transitions are A Writer's Best Friend
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There are certain traps us writers fall into.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be afraid to mix it up.

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

A week later (or whenever)

At the same time

Afterwards

For two weeks/days/minutes

Meanwhile

At night

The next day

The next night

For a month, I cried into the phone

In the morning

When the sun rose

When the sun set

The following Monday/night/morning

Months passed

Weeks passed

When we got back to the office

When they got back home

As the neared the date site

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

They boarded the train

Down the street

Up on the third floor of the office

Over by the water cooler

Back in my living room

The motorcycle was situated

She ran fast through the dark alley

In the hall of the hospital

Outside on my front lawn

And so on.

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

It would be a sentence like:

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

Or:

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

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

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

Places like the bad examples are not really needed because:

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

You really only want things in your story that:

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

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

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

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

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be boring in life either.

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

LINKS WE MENTION IN OUR RANDOM THOUGHTS

Angel shots.

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

Nudist cruise.

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

Weird image on the CCTV.

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

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

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

Drug your readers. Five ways to get readers to want to lick your character like they’re the Bowling Ball Guy

You don’t want to flood your stories with flashbacks. You don’t want to be Captain Info-dump, but you do want the reader to know that there is something that has made your character the angsty mess that they are and that something haunting stems from the past.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Drug your readers. Five ways to get readers to want to lick your character like they're the Bowling Ball Guy
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You’re writing a book. Yay! You send it out to people to read. That’s so brave! Look at you, you rockstar.

It feels awesome, right?

And then you hear from those readers: I don’t like your character. I don’t—I don’t know—connect with them?

When this happens, you are not allowed to:

  1. Yell at those readers.
  2. Threaten those readers.
  3. Give up on that story.

Well, you could but you might go to jail and all your work on that novel will be for nothing.

So, it’s totally okay to:

  1. Whine/cry for a second.
  2. Be a little depressed about it.
  3. Not give up on that story.

And what you want to do is figure out how to make readers like and connect with your main character super quickly.

So here goes. Five quick ways.

  1. Gossip – Your readers want to know what makes your character tick, what makes them vulnerable. They want the deets, the gossip, right? They want to know something about your character that nobody else knows.
  2. Goodness – Even if your character sucks a bit, you want to show the reader that they are someone that the reader wants to spend time with. Show that human worth, the fundamental goodness that’s somewhere in there. Make them actively do something good even if they are the devil.
  3. Going all Angsty – The reason stories work is that the characters want something but they are conflicted about things inside. There’s got to be a bit of inner struggle. There has to be an outer struggle too. That struggle creates tension. Will they be okay? Will they get what they are searching for? What is holding them back?
  4. Going into the Reasons – You don’t want to flood your stories with flashbacks. You don’t want to be Captain Info-dump, but you do want the reader to know that there is something that has made your character the angsty mess that they are and that something haunting stems from the past. The time before the story.
  5. Goal!!! – I’ve already hinted at this, but your poor little character needs a goal, something they are striving for. The push towards that goal creates the tension.

Writer Chuck Wendig has said,

“You are the dealer; the character is the drug. The audience will do anything to spend time with a great character. We’re junkies for it. We’ll gnaw our own arms off to read just one more page with a killer character. It’s why sequels and series are so popular—we want to see where the character’s going. If you give us a great character, it becomes our only desire to lick him like he’s a hallucinogenic toad and take a crazy trip-ass ride where he has to go.”  

Writing Tip of the Pod

Make your characters irresistible any way possible. Memorable characters are addictive.

Dog Tip for Life

Vulnerability is okay. It connects us. If nobody was vulnerable then nobody could be brave.

Links We Talk About In Random Thoughts

https://www.npr.org/2021/07/15/1016300636/new-jersey-man-mistakenly-cleans-the-wrong-house

https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/man-finds-160-bowling-balls-under-michigan-home

https://www.facebook.com/groups/242562694098557/

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.

Writers are Like Dust Mites Five Important Things Writers Need To Know

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Writers are Like Dust Mites Five Important Things Writers Need To Know
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So, here on the podcast we try to be helpful sometimes.

I know! I know! It’s hard to believe, but we thought this week, we’d give you a little insight about the writing life and writers. And lay down some truths.

WE WRITERS ARE EVERYWHERE LIKE DUST MITES

There are a butt ton of posts on what writers need to know. And you know why that is? Because there are a lot of us.

Chuck Wendig wrote, “The internet is 55 percent porn and 45 percent writers.”

And that means we aren’t alone.

But it also means that we should freaking support each other. Don’t have your whole Twitter feed be “buy my book, buy my book, sweet mother of all things holy buy my book.” Writing is communication that’s actually two-way. We write. Others read. Sometimes they write back.

It’s good to remember that writing isn’t a solo gig.

NO TWO WRITERS MAKE IT THE SAME WAY

Well, they might. But everyone’s journey is different.

I got a publishing contract one year after entering my MFA program at Vermont College and 18 months after quitting my newspaper editor job. I was lucky. But I was also working on my skills.

I have clients and friends who worked for ten years before breaking into traditional publishing. They are great authors. It just took them a bit longer to get there. But they might stay publishing longer than I do. Or not. Who knows?

That’s the thing. We all take different times and routes to get our books out there and get readers.

Similarly, in the world of independent publishing, there are people whose books are absolutely awful making $10,000 a month and some whose amazing and brilliant books are making $5 a month if that.

The takeaway here? The writing world is weird as hell.

PEOPLE CAN BE MEAN TO YOU

Writers (much like superstars like Chris Evans or Beyonce) have lovers and haters. Sadly, we don’t have quite the support team to boost up our egos after someone has trashed us or our book or rejected it before we’re published.

You’ve got to believe in yourself enough to put on your own Band-aids. You don’t want to be a hardened butt face and lose the beautiful empathy that makes you a good writer and person, but you do want to be able to survive.

IT’S A FREE-RANGE LIFE

As a full-time writer, you often don’t get a steady paycheck.

If you self-publish, your earnings depend on finding readers. In a traditionally published world, you get paid an advance on your royalties and then after, you get checks (usually twice a year) if you earn out that advance.

That’s a little harrowing for some of us who grow up thinking that steady paychecks and 401k investment plans are the thing.

YOU HONESTLY SHOULD LOVE WHAT YOU DO

I see so many writers complaining about writing and I want to hug them up and give them some ramen or maybe an ice cream sundae. Look. If you hate writing, don’t write. Your life is too short to shove yourself in front of a computer and pound keys. You want your life to be happy. Do things that make you happy. And it’s okay if writing isn’t one of those things right now, you know? You can find a different way to connect, to tell stories, and influence the world, okay?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

All combined, what we’re saying is this: Support the other dust mites, don’t be a dust mite unless you love it and be okay with being in charge of your life despite the harrowing finances of being a dust mite and that insecurity. Do what you love.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Your journey is your own. You might be a dog who walks a straight line or you might be a dog who meanders around telephone poles and trees. Don’t worry about how the other dogs live. Just be you.

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

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

Resources From This Episode

https://news.sky.com/story/fathers-day-thousands-of-funny-fathers-submitted-their-best-dad-joke-this-was-the-winner-12336765

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/07/08/serval-captured-Atlanta-Georgia-Kristine-Frank/5981625770896/

Don’t Write Like the Undead

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Write Like the Undead
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Sometimes you’ll read a book and you’ll think—um, did a vampire write this?

That’s not because it’s sexy and sparkling like the Twilight vampires or sexy and bloody with a rocking 1980s soundtrack like the Lost Boys vampires or sexy and in New Orleans like the Anne Rice vampires, but because the language in the story is so flowerly, so overwrought, so full of clauses that you think, “Only someone over two-hundred years old could have written this.”

Yes, you could argue that M.T. Anderson successfully did this with Octavian Nothing, which won a butt-ton of rewards, but you are not Tobin Anderson.

And that’s part of the point. A lot of us authors look to the classics, to the past and think, “Yo, Charles Dickens, man. Peeps are still talking about him. I should copy his style.”

No.

Also, don’t try to sound hip when you aren’t hip like we just did up there.

If you’re writing historical fiction and like Tobin or Paul Kingsnorth or Dorothy Dunnett, and you think you have a really good handle on the syntax and speech patterns of the time, go for it.

But if you’re writing a contemporary novel about a woman in Maine living with a tall man and two dogs and three cats and one kid and figuring out if writing is worth it? No.

Honestly, even most historical fiction is written in modern language and style.

Why?

Well, that’s because the novel is a communication. It’s you writing for the reader. It’s not just you writing. And you usually want the reader to feel comfortable in that novel, all snuggled in for a cool journey into the character’s world aka your book.

Write like you’re communicating with an audience that’s living right now if you want most readers to enjoy it and keep turning the page.

Here’s an example or what we’re talking about.

While, she stood, one foot upon the ancient sleeping device, and then seemed askance at what stance she had partaken, inhaled a breath so great that it moved her bosom in a terrifying rapturous way, pivoting and climactically inhaling without any scant emotion.

Rather than:

She stood with her foot on the bed. Her face flushed and some sort of scandalous thought crossed her mind. She turned away, sighing so deeply her whole body moved with it.

Okay. Neither are awesome. But one’s a lot easier to understand, right? That’s because it is in the style that’s today’s speaking/writing style, not the style of undead cats and vampires.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Remember that writing is communication. Make it understandable for the people who are alive now.

Dog Tip for Life

Be obvious about your wants. If you want to hang out with the undead, let them know.

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.

LINKS FROM RANDOM THOUGHTS

Be Brave Friday: Don’t Small Down Your Self or Your World

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Be Brave Friday: Don't Small Down Your Self or Your World
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On BE BRAVE FRIDAYS, we share other people’s stories (unedited) to build a community of bravery and inspiration.

Please let us know if you want to share your story with us and we’ll read it here and post it on our social media and website.

This life is too short to not be brave. We can do this together.


This week’s Be Brave Story is from the wonderful Sheri Boggs!

Sheri, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

You are so brave and so wonderful.

xo Shaun and Carrie


I have a story of bravery to share. It isn’t big, bold physical bravery but rather small, mild bravery in which my foe WAS MY OWN MIND. 

I took violin for a few years as a kid and started taking adult violin lessons in my late 40s. I was not great and probably would have given up a long time ago if not for my teacher, (let’s call her Ms.X), who is hilarious and reminds me of Candace Bergen. Half the time my lessons consisted of us ranting about politics or her telling me some marvelously gossipy story about when she played with our local symphony.

A few months before the pandemic we decided I was ready to join the New Horizons Orchestra. New Horizons is an international organization with orchestras in cities all over the United States. Anyone is welcome, regardless of experience or skill, and their motto is “Your Best Is Good Enough.” My first time there, however, I realized I would need significantly more than my best. Everyone seemed to be a music teacher, a retired symphony member, or someone who practices for three hours a day. I stared in bewilderment at the sheet music (a medley of tunes from Chicago) and struggled to keep up. My bow was barely able to land on the right string much less hit the right note. 

Needless to say, when everything shut down I was relieved not to have to go back and be so noticeably behind everyone else. I also quit taking violin lessons, falling into a Covid-related funk and reasoning that Ms. X would only want to deal with Zoom for her most promising, high school and college-aged students. I didn’t touch my violin for a full 15 months. 

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Ms.X emailed me to see how I was doing and to let me know New Horizons was starting up again. I wrote back that everyone had been super nice but I’d felt embarrassed the few times I went, I never had time to practice, and I wasn’t planning to go back. She wrote back that she would “entreat me to reconsider,” claiming that, “some of those people have no talent whatsoever and I would know because I taught some of them.”  She assured me that New Horizons is about the joy of playing and that I was already way ahead of some of them, even if it didn’t feel like it.

So, much to my own surprise, I went to my first practice this week! I was again completely lost in the sheet music and unsure what key we were even playing in but it felt good to be there. Everyone was so welcoming and if anyone heard me scratching away at the wrong string with my bow, they didn’t say anything. I came home, practiced, figured out the key, watched videos of other people playing the pieces, and practiced some more. I plan to go back next week. 

The takeaway for me is how, when I’m anxious, I try to make my world smaller and talk myself out of things where I have to experience being awful at something, but what actually helps me is to keep pushing outside of my comfort zone, and letting my world get bigger. I had fun, seeing a few familiar faces and occasionally hearing my violin blend in with the violins all around me. 

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.

Dude, don’t nod. Four major writing mistakes that are easy to avoid

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dude, don't nod. Four major writing mistakes that are easy to avoid
/

Here in the Land of Writing Advice, we try not to lay down too many edicts because edicts are prickly things, but we’re going to put out four quick bits of writing advice that make you look a little more cool.

Let’s get started.

Nodding in acknowledgement.

If you’re a writer and you write:

Carrie nodded in acknowledgement. “Yes,” she said. “I do want to someday ride a manatee.”

The reader/editor is going to think, “What the what?”

A lot of writers worry that the reader isn’t going to get it. They want to be helpful. But in that example up there, we have three ways the writer is telling us that Carrie is agreeing.

Carrie nodded.

In acknowledgement.

“Yes,” she said. “I do want …”

Trust your writing. Trust yourself, okay? And trust your reader.

HE THOUGHT TO HIMSELF

The same kind of thing is happening here.

Shaun thought to himself, “Self, I am a pretty sweet man.”

Unless your book is about telepathy or has telepathic characters (hopefully manatees), you’re always going to be thinking to yourself.

So just write:

Shaun thought, “I am a pretty sweet man.”

It’s versus its

Okay, whenever you have an apostrophe in the middle of a word it means one of two things:

There’s a letter missing and you’re smooshing two words together.

It’s showing possession.

It’s with the apostrophe means it is. It always means it is.

Its without the apostrophe means belonging to it.

So:

The werewolf ripped its tank top during the change and cried.

That one? No apostrophe in its.

The werewolf said it’s going down to J Crew to get a new tank.

That one? Apostrophe.

We’re versus were

Continuing on the apostrophe train, we’re and were.

We’re has an apostrophe that’s showing you that it really means we are. The apostrophe is standing in for the a in are. Oh, that sounds weird.

The were (w-e-r-e) is second person past tense singular, past tense plural, and past subjunctive of the verb “be”

So we wouldn’t say:

Hey. The werewolves we’re changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.

We’d say.

Hey. The werewolves were changing in J.Crew because they were raging out over the lack of pink tanks with tassels.

Similarly, we’d say:

We’re werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?

Not

Were werewolves, man, and we demand tanks with tassels. Got it?

Writing Tip of the Pod

Um. Everything we just said.

Dog Tip for Life

Live in your current paragraph.

Resources -Links we talk about!

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/06/28/australia-Nude-Aussie-sunbathers-who-fled-deer-fined-after-rescue-from-woods/1071624916281/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/06/24/britain-RSPCA-king-cobra-plastic-toy-Workington-England/1231624552603/

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.

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.

Getting High With Dolphins and Making Meaning

We have to take back our own power and decide what success is to us, not society, not our parents, not our children, us. What gives us meaning? What gives us joy?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Getting High With Dolphins and Making Meaning
/

How do you make meaning in your life? That’s a big questions we’ve been struggling with here.

Success is defined for us:

  • It’s having a kid who graduates high school.
  • It’s having your own home, your own car.
  • It’s looking like a Kardasian.
  • It’s being strong like the Rock.

But when you were a little kid was that what you thought?

Let’s say you’re two. Success is going on the potty, honestly, and not the floor. Success is not wearing a diaper.

Success and happiness came from immediate things. It was a piggyback ride on your sister’s shoulders. It was twirling around in circles until you fell down dizzy. It was an ice cream cone that made it into your mouth and not the sidewalk.

It wasn’t a million-dollar book contract or celebrity endorsements. Or a McMansion. It wasn’t 8,000 likes on your TikTok video.

It was what made you happy inside. You. Not anyone else. And somehow along the way, a lot of us have forgotten what makes us happy. Us. Not society. Not Twitter. Not TikTok. Or YouTube or politicians or gurus who charge $390 for a class. Us.

When we’re little, we often don’t get to see people from all different demographics exploring, explaining, existing. We live in pretty big bubbles sometimes. But witnessing diversity in thought and life and experience especially from a young age allow us to grow and not fall into the traps of strict notions of “what it means to be successful.”

We could give a crap about what John Patrick Dorsey or Mark Zuckerberg or our senators or presidents define as ‘successful.’ And when we chase other people’s definitions? That’s when we lose meaning in our lives. We have to define words like “success” and “happiness” for ourselves. Sometimes that means forgetting what we’ve been taught and remembering who we are.

We have to take back our own power and decide what success is to us, not society, not our parents, not our children, us. What gives us meaning? What gives us joy?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think about what you want from your writing. Is it to be a NYT bestseller? To make $600,000 a year. Or is it something simpler?

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

It’s okay to find meaning in things other people scorn. To heck with them. You do you.

REFERENCES FOR RANDOM THOUGHTS

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/woman-moves-house-someone-died-24347158

https://shepherdexpress.com/puzzles/news-of-the-weird/news-of-the-weird-june-17-2021/

https://apnews.com/article/nh-state-wire-lifestyle-af56567aee135df951f4fc7f9b3c9d61

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.

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.

What Makes A Sexy Beginning and Emergency Poop?

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
What Makes A Sexy Beginning and Emergency Poop?
/

Every writer and storyteller wants their beginning of their story to be enticing, sexy, something that someone can’t put down.

A story is like a hot fudge sundae. You want the reader to gobble the whole thing down and that’s not going to happen if the first few bites suck.

Luckily, there are a few components that absolutely help us writers make the beginnings of our stories sexy.

Hook – This is the first sentence or first paragraph. You want it to clutch the reader in its hands and never let go.

What makes a sexy hook? A mystery. A question. A strong voice. Urgency.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop.

Disruption – This is the tension. This is the suspense. Will there be trouble in the beginning? Can you sense it like a good phone psychic in the quivering resonance of the sentences and word choice? Are there big stakes?

I was not going to make it.

Backstory – I know! I know! It’s a naughty beast and we must be wary of it before it takes over our entire lawn like some sort of invasive weed. But you do want to sprinkle a little bit of it here and there.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool.

Emotion – There needs to be some emotion on the page and that emotion needs to be detailed and sexy and all about the showing and not the telling. Don’t say, “Shaun was sexy.” Say, “Shaun rubbed that ice cream sundae all over his bulging pecs and he didn’t fart at all. He was the perfect husband.”

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. My eyes watered as I grabbed the steering wheel.

A Want and a Must Have – Your character needs to want things. Those things need to be surface level (an ice cream sundae or a toilet) and a bigger yearning (to finally feel loved or not be made fun of). They need to be on the page throughout the whole book and inform the entire book.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. And now? Right before my first interview with Santa Claus? Seriously?

Things that Suck – Similarly, most books involve the transformation of a character on their journey. To have a positive transformation, there needs to be things wrong in your character’s life. Those things need to be there in the beginning.

I was not going to make it to the house. Not with this kind of poop. It had almost happened before in first grade in the pool. They called me Poop Pants Patty forever after that. And now? Right before my first interview with Santa Claus? Seriously?

Some day I’d know not to eat Flaming Hot Doritos sprinkled with Da Bomb hot sauce. Some day I’d be able to control my anxiety and my colon. Some day I wouldn’t self monologue in the car on the way to my super-important interview with Santa. But today was not that day.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Make your beginning (and your ending) sexy.

Dog Tip for Life

Make everything sexy

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.

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.

I’m Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen

Always take a piece of meat with you.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
I'm Farting Carrots. Oh, the Mondegreen
/

We’ve all done it. We’ve misheard song lyrics or actual words. We’ve argued about whether someone was saying Laurel or Yanni.

But there is an actual term for that.

According to Merriam Webster Dictionary, a mondegreen is “a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung.”

I had a whole character in my first book that did this all the time.

Sylvia Wright made up the word in 1954 when she wrote an article about it for The Atlantic or possibly Harpers (these are the two most common citings), “The Death of Lady Mondegreen.”

She’d loved this Scottish song or poem that went

They hae slain the Earl Amurray
And laid him on the green.

That last line sounded like Lady Mondegreen to her.

According to an article in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova,

Hearing is a two-step process. First, there is the auditory perception itself: the physics of sound waves making their way through your ear and into the auditory cortex of your brain. And then there is the meaning-making: the part where your brain takes the noise and imbues it with significance. That was a car alarm. That’s a bird. Mondegreens occur when, somewhere between the sound and the meaning, communication breaks down. You hear the same acoustic information as everyone else, but your brain doesn’t interpret it the same way. What’s less immediately clear is why, precisely, that happens.

The article goes on to say,

A common cause of mondegreens, in particular, is the oronym: word strings in which the sounds can be logically divided multiple ways. One version that Pinker describes goes like this: Eugene O’Neill won a Pullet Surprise. 

Other times, the culprit is the perception of the sound itself: some letters and letter combinations sound remarkably alike, and we need further cues, whether visual or contextual, to help us out. In their absence, one sound can be mistaken for the other. For instance, in a phenomenon known as the McGurk effect, people can be made to hear one consonant when a similar one is being spoken. “There’s a bathroom on the right” standing in for “there’s a bad moon on the rise” is a succession of such similarities adding up to two equally coherent alternatives. 

NME’s site has an article on the top forty misheard song lyrics and it’s hysterical.

It’s a British site and you should check it out, but their top three are:

Number One – Dire Straits’s “Money For Nothing.”

Wrong lyric: “Money for nothin’ and chips for free.”

Correct lyric: “Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free”

Number 2 Wrong Lyric – Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away.”

Wrong Lyric: “Every time you go away, you take a piece of meat with you.”

Correct lyric: “Every time you go away take a piece of me with you.”

Number 4 Wrong Lyric (Yes, we skipped three) – Starship’s ‘We Built This City.’

Wrong lyric: “We built this city on sausage rolls.”

Correct lyric: “We built this city on rock ‘n’ roll.”

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s fun to play with words, to think about sounds.

Dog Tip for Life

Always take a piece of meat with you.

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.

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.

LINKS OF STRANGE NEWS MENTIONED

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/06/britain-Leaf-cafe-Liverpool-England-1913-menu-ceiling/6881620329800/

https://www.upi.com/Odd_News/2021/05/04/Guinness-World-Records-marshamallow-mouth-catch-distance-Dallas-Anderson-Jon-Paleka/7501620145182/