Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good
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Okay, recently I’ve been working on a lot of people’s stories that are fantastic except for one thing—one easily fixable thing—they have semicolons everywhere.

The semicolon is that little bit of punctuation that looks like there’s a comma on the bottom and a period topping it. And judging from people’s use of it? It’s an addictive, sexy beast.

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Here’s the thing, a semicolon is a divider. It’s like a comma and a period that way, but it’s not. It creates a different length of the pause for the reader between the words that it divides.

Yes! There are different levels of pause.

Here check it out. We’ll do it with three sentences.

The first is a comma, but it will be a minimal pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things, but Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is that same sentiment but with a medium-weight pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things; Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is the same sentiment with the pause heavyweight fighter, the period.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things. Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Your punctuation choice controls the pacing of your paragraph and sentence and if you put 18 of them in one paragraph? You’re going to slow down the pace of your story and also make readers get crinkly noses and hate you.

So how do you use semicolons?

There are three major ways to use this sexy beast.

One. To connect a certain kind of thing.

Semicolons connect two independent clauses. You know something is an independent clause if it can stand alone as it’s very own sentence.

It’s like using the conjunction and between two independent clauses to show they are really related.

Shaun is wearing big boy pants; he has been for forty-five years.

Two. To separate things in a list (sometimes).

If you’ve got a weird list with lots of internal punctuation, then you can start that list off with a semicolon. Here’s an example.

My wife had a list of things that she wanted me to accomplish that day and it included taking out the trash; going into the basement to look at the copper pipes which, by the way, are boring to look at and are not linking; and singing—I’m a horrible singer, by the way—a whole mess of show tunes and not the ones from Hamilton for some reason.

Three. Conjunctive adjective moments

These are tricky beasts, but mostly happen with these words when they join two independent clauses.

The words are:

  • moreover,
  • nevertheless,
  • however,
  • otherwise,
  • therefore,
  • then,
  • finally,
  • likewise, 
  • consequently. 

Here’s a quick example.

Shaun had been told that he should definitely not fart in the bed at night; however, Shaun decided that this household rule was absolutely unfair.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

So there you go. Don’t put semicolons everywhere because that’s a flag to agents, editors or readers. Use them when you need to because they can really help for clarity in lists, but remember too much of a good thing is a bad thing in writing.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Embrace the semicolon. You can change direction in your life, lean into the pause, but not into the end.

Check out Project Semicolon and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

RANDOM THOUGHTS

In our random thoughts section at the beginning of the podcast, we talk about the people in South Carolina filming their procreation acts everywhere and wonder why there is no Maine Man when there are so many Florida Men.


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 loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.


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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

Don’t Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Be So Wordy, Punk, plus Stabbings and Vampires
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A lot of us humans and writers spend a lot of time trying to impress people by being extra wordy.

And it seems like we’re all trying to avoid the word “because.”

This is extremely cruel to the word “because,” which probably gets hurt feelings, but it’s also super cruel to your readers and/or listeners who deserve clarity.

They need to understand what you’re putting down.

So, when it comes to “because,” we do not need to say:

  • The reason is because (that’s redundant).
  • Due to the fact that
  • On the grounds that
  • On account of


If you sound like a lawyer in a bad tv procedural?

You’re trying too hard.

HERE IS CONTRARY ADVICE….

“BECAUSE” OR “SINCE” CAN SOMETIMES FORCE YOU TO BE WORDY.

With the words ‘because’ and ‘since,’ you can almost always use either one. They are interchangeable BFFs.

Here are some examples.

  • Because I hate you, I decided to date.
  • Since I hate you, I decided to date.

They both mean “because” here because they are synonyms.

But sometimes “since” means “from the time’ instead of ‘because.’

Since we went to Disney, I’ve been crushing on Pluto.

That means “ever since the time they went to Disney” not “because.”

But you might not know that, right?

So, instead you might want to be wordy.

You don’t want to be ambiguous and have people wondering if you mean “because” or “ever since the time they went to Disney.”

The whole point in writing and talking is for people to understand you, so don’t be a schmuck. Be clear.


WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Don’t be wordy and know what your words mean and what they’re conveying to the reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Listen more than you speak. Look for clues in your environment and people’s actions so you can really understand them.

RANDOM THOUGHT

To hear about punks, stabbings and vampires, you have to listen to the podcast file. Sorry! We only put the advice part in the notes.


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 loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

almost dead book by carrie jones
almost dead book by carrie jones

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On one of my Patreon sites I read and print chapters of unpublished YA novels. THE LAST GODS and SAINT and now ALMOST DEAD. This is a monthly membership site (Hear the book chapters – $1/month, read them $3-month, plus goodies!). Sometimes I send people art! Art is fun.

On this, my second site, WRITE BETTER NOW, you can do a one-time purchase of a writing class or get two of my books in eBook form or just support our podcast or the dogs. It’s all part of the WRITING CLASS OF AWESOME.

It’s a super fun place to hang out, learn, read, and see my weirdness in its true form.

And I’m starting up a brand new, adult paranormal set at a Maine campground. You can read the first chapter here.

Don’t Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That’s Sexy.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Don't Dabble Writers, Commit. We Know What a Hyphen Is and That's Sexy.
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Jared Leto is a somewhat polarizing guy for who-knows-what reason. He’s model-pretty, a vegan, an award-winning actor and a musician. And there’s this quote I (Carrie) read that struck a chord. 

“When you commit to something that’s seemingly impossible,” he says, referring to ascents both metaphorical and literal, “and you’re pushing through things that are seemingly hostile, and then you’re like, ‘Oh, wow, we did that,’ that’s a great feeling. And a little bit of pain isn’t a bad thing.”

Jared Leto to Rolling Stone’s Brian Hiatt

A lot of us writers whine a lot about writing. I’m not sure why that is. Is it because we’re plumbing the deep emotional recesses in our brain? Is it because we are creating an entire pretend world? 

I used to get super cranky about this because compared to being a firefighter or an emergency dispatcher or juggling eighteen jobs as a single parent, it felt to me like everyone was a little bit whiny. 

Then I realized that It’s because being committed to something, to a craft, to something when you are never going to be perfect, where you’ll always have room to grow? It can play a bit of havoc on your emotional wellbeing. But that’s okay. It’s like Leto says, you want to commit to that impossible thing to get the payoff. You want to be all in. Not a dabbler in writing or in life. 

How to Commit

Emalie Jacobs has some nice hints on her blog about how to do that, to be committed. They are basically: 

  • Plan to write every day.
  • Stay committed. 
  • Aim for a word count.
  • Plan early. 
  • Find your people.

And all of this is so much of what the Write! Submit! Support! class that I teach at the Writing Barn is all about. 

Back to Leto. Leto doesn’t dabble. He’s a method actor, a method singer, method artist and probably a method human. He commits wholeheartedly or he doesn’t commit at all. That’s true when he’s on stage singing or when he’s on the screen acting. He becomes. 

Becomes. 

Dabbling is the opposite of commitment. It’s an exploration. That can be good. But you don’t want to get so caught up in the explorations that you never focus. 

“I don’t dabble,” he said in that Rolling Stone interview. “I dive in. 1,000 percent.” 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t dabble. Commit fully to living the writing life. Don’t let other things take priority over your dreams.

Dog Tip for Life

Proofread your poop. 

Random ThoughtS

In our random thought portion of the podcast this week, we talk about:

  1. Carrie giving up dabbling
  2. Emcee duties at the MDI YWCA’s Women of Distinction event
  3. Hyphens. Semicolons. Politicians of all sides failing to have copyeditors.
  4. How do we trust reporters and politicians with big decisions when they can’t proofread things.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Aw, Ah, Aah, Awe, or Ah is that Underwear?
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None of us are perfect with the grammar, especially not us native-English speakers. We’ve got all these words that mean totally different things but sound EXACTLY THE SAME! 

And today, we here on Dogs are Smarter Than People are going to do things.

  1. Prove that dogs are smarter than people because they don’t have to spell.
  2. Help you all out about a five-some of evil. Yes, I’m talking about Aah, ah, ahh, aw, and awe. 

I know you’ve all seen it on Facebook. Someone you love writes, “Awe (a-w-e) that’s so cutie.”

And you’re like, “No! Agh. I don’t want to be evil and tell them but they are using the wrong spelling here.” 

Let’s get started. 

Aah! Is an interjection. It’s like a giant mosquito as big as a velociraptor is hovering in front of your nose. You are afraid. Aah is what we use for those moments. 

It has a super close relative – Ah! 

Ah is an interjection, too. But this time you aren’t expressing fear; this time you are expressing love, surprise, pleasure, a realization. 

“Ah! I now understand that was not a mosquito but was actually an Amazon delivery drone.” 

And then we have their lovely relative, Ahh.

Ahh is when you get something or you accept something. 

Ahh, I do love you and your way with drones. 

Ahh, this is how the world works, you act like a narcissist on social media and you suddenly have a million followers. 

Let’s move on.

Aw is what most people are meaning when they write ‘awe.’

Aw is when something is super cutie or adorbs. 

Sometimes we use it to show we’re disappointed. Aw! English! You make no sense. 

So, it’s like this: 

Aw, you are the bestest, cutiest Rotary club president ever. 

Aw, your puppy is adorable! 

Aw, that manatee lingere is the best underwear ever! 

Aw, I probably should have realized that I have no chill prior to taking a leadership role and now I’m just sub-tweeting everyone and whining about their underwear. 

And then we have the all-mighty awe. 

Cue God music.

Feeling like you are full of admiration, fear, reverence because of something super big-time like God or manatees swimming nearby or some really amazing underwear? 

This is awe. 

She raised her hands to the sky, overwhelmed with awe as the flying manatee in purple plaid underwear approached. 

At the edge of the Grand Canyon, he grasped her sleeve in awe of the magnificence below them. 

Writer Tip of the Pod

Dictionaries are our friends. Words have meanings. Don’t stress out if you mess up. We all mess up, but try to do the best you can. We’ll be in awe of your mad wordsmithing skills. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s easy to spell ‘bark.’ Don’t sweat the small stuff. We make mistakes. If you don’t hurt anyone, yourself or end up in jail, it’s probably all good 

Shout Out

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


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

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

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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


A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar.
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Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly.

“Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it’s perfect,” is a pretty big industry standard. 

  • Be perfect.
  • Write perfectly.
  • Have perfect grammar. 
  • Have a perfect plot.
  • Spell everything perfectly.

Here’s the thing: Your story won’t ever be perfect especially if you’re working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever.

So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart. 

It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they’re trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings.

How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, “Good job with your paragraphs!” Or, “Well done with your spelling!”

Random Thoughts

Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, “I’m not exciting today.” 

And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels super vulnerable about the second one, because it shows her totally tipsy because of her social anxiety and Shaun mixing WAY TOO STRONG a drink. 

The point though, is that much like our podcast, our thoughts aren’t canned or perfect. We are real people, not polished, but pretty awesome anyways. 

Writing Tips:

Don’t forget about the heart of your story, the resonance. Forget about the mechanics for a bit. What is this story actually about? What is its heart?

People like to call it a theme, but that sounds too much like grade school to us. The heart of the story is the big, essential inside part of the story’s hero. Her catalyst. Her life’s question and realization. To find it, ask what your character’s heart wants and needs. To find it, think about the lie about the world (or herself) that your character believes. That’s how you find the heart.

Dog Tips

Dogs don’t care about mechanics of things. They care about the heart of things. Be a dog.

Writing and Other News

Art.

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

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Time Stoppers!

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

People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Timestoppers3_005

Moe Berg 

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!