The Battle For Word Count

 I am having a hard time writing today.

John Wayne in My Head: Understatement of the year, right there, Little Lady.

Thanks Mr. Wayne, dead movie star, and inner Carrie Jones critic aka internal editor aka mean voice in my head. Nice of you to show up. Your eyes look VERY blue in that picture.

JW: Well, I was alive then.

True. Anyway. I’m having some issues. What kind of issues? I’m worried about female stereotypes in the middle grade I’m writing. All of a sudden on word 20,667 I’m thinking, “Is Lily strong enough? She likes math. How do I keep her from being a stereotype of a girl who likes math?”

Oh no, am I oppressing my co-women? Crud. 

JW: You’re just supposed to write. It’s your first draft. Don’t make me have to threaten ya.

I know! I am, but it’s hard. I have issues.
JW: Issues don’t bring home the bacon.

Do you mean, bread, Mr. Wayne?
JW: No, I mean bacon.

Why do I think you mean bread?
JW: Because your brain is on strike because you aren’t writing. Now get a move on.

Fine. Fine. It’s all going to be garbage.
JW: True, but it’ll be your garbage.

In a stereotypical heterosexual American relationship, the man takes out the garbage, you know. That’s your role.

JW: What do you think I’m doing right now?
Talking to me?

JW: No, I’m trying to take out the garbage also known as self-doubt in your little writer brain.
Oh! Oh. That’s so nice of you. Stereotypical, but nice.

JW: Little Lady, I aim to please.

For all of you doing, National Novel Writing Month right now, good luck! You’ve got this! Battle for that word count and stomp down the stereotypes and that self doubt. They don’t get to control you, right? You control you.

Cough. Off to listen to my own advice.




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Creators, Dirty Feet, and Archetypes

Creators, Dirty Feet, and Archetypes

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For the past few weeks, we’ve been talking about writing archetypes for our characters and how they also apply to the real life humans we used to meet and interact with before Covid-19.

There are lists out there all over the place about this. Most have slight variations on the number of archetypes or the names of the archetypes. 

Oh! If you haven’t heard in our past episodes, an archetype is according to MasterClass:  

An archetype is an emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, allowing an audience member to relate to an event or character without having to necessarily ponder why they relate. Thanks to our instincts and life experiences, we’re able to recognize archetypes without any need for explanation.

MasterClass People

Last week we talked about the seducers, the week before we talked about the misfits and mavericks. This week, we’re going easy on you with the creator. 

According to MasterClass, the creator is, “A motivated visionary who creates art or structures during the narrative.”

They make things! Like writers! They usually have willpower. They are sometimes self-involved. Or they suck at practical things. 

Over on, it says (all bold their emphasis), 

“Also known as the artist, innovator, inventor, architect, musician, and dreamer, the Creator is solely focused on examining the boundaries or our reality and perception. As a character, they often take the position of the well-meaning scientist, or savant artist.

The Creator carries an inexhaustible imagination, often excelling at their chosen vocation. When presenting as a mortal character in a reality-based world, he is often portrayed as a man ahead of his time. There are often better examples of this archetype in the real world (Galileo, Einstein, Mozart, Steve Jobs) than in fiction!

Mediocrity is the Creator’s worst fear. Whether this result comes from concept or execution doesn’t matter. The creator wishes to be an authentic voice in a world of white noise. They gain rivals easily, answering those challenges with innovation in their work, and their personal outlook.”


Zeus. Dr. Frankenstein. Iron Man. All creators. 

Phoebe in Friends. Jo in Little Women. Creators. 

The Issue

All of these characters are white. When researching this, we were overwhelmed by the lack of examples of BIPOC. It’s another glaring example of a lack of diversity in books and movies. And it’s super frustrating. 

Over on the Character Therapist, they list the creator’s goals and fears:


To create things of enduring value
To see a vision realized 
To hone artistic control and skill
To create culture through self-expression  


To have a mediocre vision 
To only execute a vision half-way
To believe all is an illusion
To remain unchanged/unmoved by beauty 

Writing Tip of the Pod

We need all types of stories. When you create, think about who your archetypes are. If you are creating and expressing yourself, are you doing so in a way that is beautiful, clear, and fair to the rest of the world? 

Dog Tip for Life

Single minded obsession is never good unless it’s about making bacon. 


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


Every weekday, our dogs have inspirational or motivating tweets on Carrie’s Twitter. Go check it out and be her Twitter friend.

The kittens felt left out.


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

Join the 239,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Another episode about archetypes and if your sex life was a hashtag. Cough.

Last week’s episode about archetypes and falling out of cars. 

A bonus episode with Vivian Garcia Rodriguez about cosplay, book boyfriends, and being brave enough to get rid of people who hurt you. 

A bonus episode about being a cop’s daughter in Maine and a dance mom in Pennsylvania with Alyson Pelletier Seegmueller.

And this week’s episode link if you’re reading this via email.


I coach, have a class, and edit things. Find out more here. 


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

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.

April Book and Life Update!

It’s an April update!

So, I bought an author marketing program for $27 and found out that you’re supposed to write a status about your writing progress and book progress every month! 

Who knew? 

Not this author. 

So, here’s what I’m up to. 

I’m starting a super cheap, super new, super cool writing course. You can check it out here and you can still join although it’s getting pretty full, which is awesome since I only announced it this weekend. But if you want to learn more, check it out here. I call it the WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME because I am original like that.

What else? 

I’m still revising ANOTHER NOW, which is a big time travel story. It is killing me. 

Here’s a tiny excerpt: 

Chapter One

“The Ghost Inside”

The Broken Bells

Dear Dad, 

I know you’ll never read this and you’ll probably think I’m weird for even writing it since you didn’t care enough to hang around when I was born. Now, your first impression of me (if this letter IS your first impression) will be, “Wow. My daughter is old-school emo with a lot of retro drama writing me a letter longhand and not on the actual computer like a normal person.”

I don’t care. 

That’s a lie. I probably do care what you think of me because I am needy like that, but I don’t care enough so that it makes me stop writing this letter.

Even though it’s super one-sided communication since you’ll probably never read it.

Even though I do feel a little drama over writing it this way. 

Even though I shouldn’t care about communicating with you.

You made your choice a long time ago and that choice was not me and Mom. 

And that hurts. 

Mina (Your daughter)

The goal is to throw the stone out the farthest: 

Watch it drop into the waves.

Breathe out as it disappears into the cold Atlantic. 

Try again to beat your last throw. 

That’s it. I never seem to beat my last throw even though Abby always beats hers. 

I’m a person without a father and whenever she feels too badly for me, my newish best friend, Abby Shriver, makes us head to the boulders and rocks that line the ocean’s edge of the Shore Path, this mile-long gravel path that abuts some of the fancier houses in Bar Harbor. She thinks that will make it better. The ocean, she says, is fatherless too and according to ancient Greeks, the ocean was the father of everything. The ocean doesn’t take sides in all the wars of man and gods. It just is. 

            But that’s old myth. 

            And the Atlantic Ocean off our Maine coast is so real. 

Today, we’re quiet when we walk. It’s barely a half of a mile down a one-way road, another small road, and then a dirt path to the ocean where we can throw our stones into the ever-moving abyss. 

When we get there, the wind keeps lifting up Abby’s hair, mixing the smell of honey with that of clam flats. Her hair keeps striking me in the face until she binds it in one of those utilitarian black elastics that most people keep on their wrists. Abby only keeps bracelets on her wrist – silver ones that jangle when she moves. 

“They remind me of fairy bells,” she says when I try to get her to stop talking about my lack of a father and randomly try to shift the topic to her. 

I take a rock and throw it, but the wind’s strength works against me and it barely makes it past the shore. 

And finally, my new Patreon story

And over on Patreon, I’m starting a new story this week! It’s a chapter a month if you want to check it out. It basically costs $1 a month to listen to my story and $3 a month to read it. There’s a new chapter every week. It’s super fun; I promise.

Chapter 1

The birds tap at the kitchen window with tiny beaks. They hover there above the azalea bush and the still-to-bloom tiger lilies, wings wide open, eyes staring inside at where Mom and I bustle around the kitchen. They smack and caw and coo. There are seagulls, pigeons, crows, a couple of hummingbirds, a few owls, robins, blue jays, finches, doves and a random eagle tonight. All of them coexisting in some sort of peaceful bird truce. All of them watching us.

            “Hey guys.” I give them an air first bump that I hope is cheerful. “Everything is okay.”

So, yeah, things are a bit bizarre around here, and Mom’s worried that I may not be able to handle it. This isn’t just because I have a tendency to levitate. And it isn’t because a news reporter has noticed that I exist, and it isn’t even that I seem to have ridiculously randy feelings about my best friend, Nora. My mother, thank God, does not know about that last part. No, she worries because of the door upstairs and the birds that are appearing absolutely everywhere all the time now.

            “I am so tired of those darn things and their – and their – and their defecation.” She puts the stress on the last word of the sentence, wrinkling up her long nose.  “It’s impossible to get it off the deck. And the chirping and squawking.”

            She crosses herself. 

writing podcast
Carrie Jones

Here’s our latest podcast! We’re adding extra interview episodes starting this Thursday!


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

Last week’s episode link. 

This week’s episode link.

How to Make a Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Three

So, these past three Mondays, I’ve been giving revision tips to help with people’s stories. And this is the last in the series! I know! I know! The horror!

Get ready writers and put your revision hats on. As I write this, we’re in lockdown because of CoVid-19 aka the coronavirus, and I know you all just want to draft and eat, but get dressed and do the hard stuff, too. Revising makes your book so much stronger.


Do not have your hamster kill your cat without a motivation. The cat’s tormenting? That’s a reason. The cat’s snoring? That’s a motivation. 

Every character has to have a want and a motivation, a reason for doing what they do.

In other words: Your characters need to make sense.


Should your story be an hour in the protagonist’s life? A day? A year? Does it really need to end with the prom? Plath says to think of the story as “an image stamped in Silly Putty, until it became distorted and possibly more interesting?” 

Pull out that image. Think about how long your story is in the character’s life.


Think about figurative language. Think about symbols and allusions and metaphors. Use the tools of literature and the sounds of poetry to make your story resonate.

But, um, don’t put a simile in every paragraph.


Narrators who are reliable are sometimes narrators who are boring. What would happen if yours went to the dark side? 


We want to hear what matters to the character and what trivial parts of his/her existence make him/her real. If she’s a bus driver. Let us know how that impacts her thinking. Let us see her job.



These revision tips this week are all originally from James Plath’s article “Twenty-one Tweaks to a Better Tale,” which was published in THE COMPLETE BOOK OF NOVEL WRITING, Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinatti, Ohio, Edited by Meg Leder, Jack Heffron, and the Editors of Writer’s Digest.


Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them. There will be a new episode tomorrow! 

Last week’s episode’s link.

This week’s episode’s link.

Continue reading “How to Make a Good Book Better – Revision Tips of Awesome – Part Three”



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Okay. I know the title of our podcast this week sounds mean, but it’s truth. You want to be a good writer or good liver, right?

Digression: Not a liver like an organ, but a liver like someone who is alive. 

Anyway, digression over. 

You want to be good. So that means what? You guessed it. It means that you can’t be lazy. 

What’s a lazy writer? 

It’s someone who babbles and has a lot of words that really say nothing.  So here are hot tips about that. 


TIP #1: Don’t.

A to-be verb is: is, are, was, were, has been, had been,

A to-be verb hides the real importance of your sentence in a layer of whatever. 

How about an example? 

Lazy to-be sentence: 

Being thrilled to be snowboarding is such a real feeling.

So the subject up there is so dull. It’s being thrilled.

How about we switch it up to having a real concrete subject: 

The yeti is thrilled to be snowboarding today. 

Whoa, way better, right? We now know the yeti is thrilled and that’s more concrete, but we still have that ‘to be’ verb with ‘is.’

One more try: 

The yeti snowboards, pumping his hairy fist in the air, screaming, “Yee-haw!” 

We now have a much better image of the yeti and his joy. Also we just all have an image of a yeti, which is always a bonus. 


TIP #2: Don’t babble. 

You know what we mean, right? 

We’re talking about the never-ending sentence. Something like this: 

If this economic crisis is able to be adjudicated with both the president and Congress’s  approval, there will likely be an increased number of regulatory-relief provisions that will also be passed, which should make a resulting impact on the home-owner’s monetary status. 

And all you hear is blah-blah-blah-BLAH-blah. 

Don’t do that in your fiction. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t babble. Don’t pad your thoughts down with meaningless words

Dog Tip for Life

Meandering with purpose is the best. Don’t bark for no reason because then people won’t listen to your important growls. 


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

This week’s episode’s link.

Note: We hunt for ghosts and talk about douchebags in our random thoughts, which are not transcribed here.


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

This week’s episode link.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My mother was afraid of a feather.

A feather.

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

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

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

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

You can beat your fears.

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

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

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

Latest podcast is here!

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


There are certain things in the editor/author relationship that you just are not supposed to do.

I have consistently screwed that up.

Fortunately, I have a very, very tolerant editor.

I am only telling you so that you don’t do this too. And I’m putting it in tips form because it’s easier for me to deal with the nasty truth of it, that way …


  1. Do not answer the phone while you are in the shower. No. Really. Even if you think it’s your little girl calling from school to say she forgot her lunch. Even if you think it’s a neighbor calling because they found your dog humping their light-up reindeer in their front yard. Do not answer the phone.
  2. Remember the person on the other end may be your editor.
  3. Remember you do not want your editor to realize that you are naked. Because the truth is, people take showers naked. You do NOT want people imagining you naked. 

4. If, for some insane, inane reason you do answer the phone, do not, DO NOT, bring the phone in the shower with you.

5. Do not do this even if you still have conditioner in your hair.

6. Do not do this even if you have to be somewhere in 20 minutes.

7. Just don’t do this. The shower makes a lot of noise, and it’s probably dangerous to have the cordless phone in the shower with you, like you could electrocute yourself or something. 

8. If you do, do this, which you shouldn’t, please make sure to rinse the conditioner out of both sides of your hair, keep your head tilted and the phone OUT OF THE RUNNING WATER.

9. Remember it is hard to have an intelligent conversation with your editor while getting conditioner out of your hair and worrying about being late and worrying about being electrocuted and worrying about whether he knows you are in the shower or not.

10. Shut off the water. Ignore your editor when he says, “Oh. I can suddenly hear you better.” 

11. Act all innocent. Say, “Really?”

12. Dry off. Comb hair. Be thankful Mr. Editor Guy does not have a camera phone.

13. Hang-up.

14. Spend the entire day with crunchy hair, because you forgot to rinse the conditioner off the top of your hair, just the sides.

15. Realize that crunchy hair is not worth it and VOW never to answer the phone while in the shower again.

16. Forget the vow the next day and try to say in a nice non-panicked voice when you answer the phone and the warm water is streaming down, “Oh. Hi, Mr. Nice Editor Guy. It’s you.”

Sparty’s Wednesday Wisdom

Notice everything, humans.

Usually the things we see, the stories we hear and don’t hear? There’s deeper stuff going on there.

Notice the deeper stuff. Then roll around in the grass, sniff weird objects and ask for snacks. That all makes a good Wednesday.

Sparty Dog

Big News!

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

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

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

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

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

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast

This week’s episode is here and it’s all about how to tell a good story (aloud or on paper).


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


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

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

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


My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!


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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods



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