Become an Explorer in Your Life. Just Say Yes!

When you say yes to a possibility you get to grow, you get to move beyond the labels that define you

There’s a great improv maxim, just say yes, which is really about when you’re on stage with another improv player, you don’t want to say no to all their ideas because then your scene sucks and nothing happens.

If you keep saying no, nothing happens.

It’s pretty basic, right?

Writing and life are like that, too.

I’ve done some absolutely weird things in my life–things that you would never imagine me doing because they aren’t very ‘me’ things. I’ve been a volunteer firefighter, done stats for a college football team, dressed up like a lobster and danced for a mile, spoken to hundreds of people, been a gymnastics coach, rock climbed, been a church secretary, poetry editor, regular newspaper editor, swam with sharks.

I can’t tell you how many times people laughed at me when I was a sports reporter and they said, “You? You’re a sports reporter?”

Apparently, I don’t present as a sports reporter.

Anyway, I did all those things because when you say yes to a possibility you get to grow, you get to move beyond the labels that define you. You get to say something other than no.

The best things that I’ve said yes to are the things that scare me just a little or the things that make other people laugh when I suggest that I might do it.

“Ha! You’re going to be an emergency dispatcher. Yeah. Right.”

“Ha! You’re going rock climber? Whatever. You’ll die.”

“What? You’re going to run? You always twist your ankles. Ten miles. Ha! No. You’ll die.”

And it’s the same thing with our stories, too. Not only am I a big advocate for living the biggest, weirdest life you can, but I’m a big advocate for writing all the different kinds of stories you want to write. Try new genres. Try short works. Try long works. Try it all.

A year or so ago, I went into a bookstore and the woman who has worked there said, “You used to be so scared, so timid. I like seeing you not so scared anymore. You’d hide behind the stacks.”

Here’s the secret: I still get scared, but I have too much living to do to let that fear hold me back.

Say yes.

Say yes to things that make you a tiny bit afraid.

Say yes to things people don’t expect you to do or be or care about.

Say yes to making new friends and exploring new places.

Say yes to pushing yourself a little or a lot beyond your expectations.

Don’t let anyone else define you. Only you get to define you, okay?

So define yourself as someone who explores, who lives, who says yes.

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.

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

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JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-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’s coming out June 1! Boo-yah!

HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/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 260,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the weird, dumb, strange things people eat. And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the the how to make your story thrilling and Carrie learning that people sunbathe their testicles. We’re classy like that.


And Carrie has a new book coming out! In June! You can pre-order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

Marriage is Gross and Just Say Yes!

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Marriage is Gross and Just Say Yes!
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Carrie has talked about this in her blog before, but we decided that it’s time to talk about it in the podcast thanks to an inspiring presentation writer Sami Main made for the Writing Barn last week.

It’s about one of the basic tenents of improv comedy and how you can use that for your writing and/or your life.

Do both! Overachieve.

Anyway, it’s amazing how Patricia Ryan Madson’s Improv Maxims, apply to writing and life and love and all that sexy stuff.

Her first maxim in Improv Wisdom (New York: Belltower, 2005) is basically, “Say Yes.”

In improv, when two characters are doing a scene, both characters have to be positive, to say yes to each other’s suggestions.

If one guy stands up there and says, “Let’s go party.” And then the other guy says, “No way.” Well… the scene falls on its face and everyone goes home saying they hate improv and the improvers think they suck and everything is just BAD, BAD, BAD.

So, writing is like that too.

When our characters want to take us to new unexpected places in the plot, we just have to go with it. If we don’t, our story stagnates.

We have to be willing to say “yes,” to take risks with our characters and our plots and our language.

According to Madson, “Saying ‘yes’ is an act of courage and optimism; it allows you to share control. It is a way to make your partner happy. Yes expands your world.”

I could go on about this forever. Like, how we get in ruts. Such as, my characters always have a love interest. And it’s always a boy. How cool would it be if the love interest were a cat? Or a hamster? Or a fig tree?

Okay. I know. Banned book.

Or, how we get into habits with our writing just like we get into habits with our lives. How cool would it be to break a writing habit and make a better writing habit? To get out of the safety of routine, change our process and expand? To just say yes?

Writing Tip of the Pod

Say yes to new ideas. Don’t be in a writing rut or hold to your preconceived notions of what your story or writing life should beDog

DOG Tip for Life

Try new things. Eat food off the floor. Go for it, humans!

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.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


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

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

Join the 251,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode about poop, dentists, surgery, flavored alcohol and Jung. 

This week’s episode about generalizations and what men want. 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Jessica Burkhart! 

A link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce

Writers are just Actors Playing all the Roles

I come from a theater background – sort of.

One of my distant relatives was a super famous comedian for his time. An uncle was an Oscar-winning art director. When I was little his wife stared at me running around the living room buck naked singing and twirling and showing off and said, “That girl is going into theater.”

This was before I turned shy. And because I turned SO SHY, it became a family story about how wrong that aunt was.

Aunts are not always right? Who knew?

Still, I spent a lot of my time singing and dancing and acting (badly) when I was growing up and then in college I spent a lot of my time directing and acting (badly) while I was getting my political science degree.

I’ve always talked about how using the basics of improv helps writers get over things like writer’s block, etc., and at Vermont College, I focused my graduation presentation on using those tools to help kids write. 

Authors and Acting and Improv

Lately though, I’ve been thinking more about how authors are really using all the roles of theater when they create novels. We have to be actors because we have to live inside the characters and make them three-dimensional representations of people. We have to be directors because we put the story together and tell the characters where to go, and determine the viewpoint that we’re seeing the character. We have to be set designers as we create setting. We’re stage crew bringing props in and out. We’re producers because we’re putting the whole production together. We’re writers because… Well, we’re writing. 

But right now, I just want to focus on how authors are really actors playing every single role in the story. That’s a lot of effort, honestly. 

Method Authors 

Method acting is when you immerse yourself in the role; you become someone other than yourself. Do writers do this? Sometimes, but not often. Usually we spend a lot of time researching things our characters like but not becoming the characters and/or pretending to be them. I wonder why.

Living In Another World

Actors live in the world of the moment, of the world that they are acting in. Novelists need to do this too. We have to immerse ourselves in the world that we’ve created, to envision the details, see the events, feel the feels. The best novels use concrete details to show character and place. To find concrete details, we have to see concrete details. We have to build worlds piece by piece and symbol by symbol until they are believable. 

Back Story 

When I was training in theater with Paul Kuritz and Pope,L, and Marty Andrecki, they all focused on the back story of the roles we played.

To understand the character in the moment, we had to understand the moments that came before, what brought our character to this place to react this specific way in the play.

And we didn’t need to know just the history of the character, but the history of the world and the cultural implications that influenced that character. Authors sometimes do this, too, but I think some of us could do it more. 

Study Real People 

To understand nuance and tics and behavior, actors often study real people and model a character on that person, or at least model a behavior of a character on that person. Writers often do that, too. 

Acting and writing require empathy. You have to move outside yourself and envision how someone else will react, feel, think, instigate. That’s important when trying to create a world of civility and positive change. 

Random Exercise That’s Supposed To Be Helpful

A lot of the time at school visits, I talk about the weirdest places I’ve gotten ideas and how some of those ideas are so bizarre that a sane human would just thrust them out of their mind. I talk about how you have to ‘say yes’ to your ideas no matter how weird they are, no matter how much we doubt them. 

I talk about how the idea for the NEED series came from seeing a strange smelling man on my way into a fair. He had a tail wrapped in fabric. He had silver eyes. Enough said, right? While other people might have thought he was a random guy doing cosplay, my brain jumped to “human-sized pixie about to cause an apocalypse.” Since, I didn’t reject that idea and wrote about it, I ended up getting a book series that was an international bestselling. 

So, what I do is have kids stand up with me and one of them has to say ‘no,’ to everything we throw out. So it goes like, 

“Hey, let’s write a story about human-sized pixies?”

“No.”

“And they have to save the world?”

“No.”

“Gerbils who fall in love?”

“No.”

“People who climb a mountain and find a rainbow unicorn?”

“No.”

And it goes on like this for a minute and when I stop them, I ask, “So what happened?”

Usually, everyone says, “Nothing. Nothing happened.”

I ask if we got a story. And the answer is always, “No. We laughed, but we did not get a story.”

Writers do this to ourselves all the time. Actually, people do this all the time. We reject ideas for being too weird, too overdone, too normal, too abnormal, too anything. The secret is to go with the idea, to say yes and see what happens. That’s how stories are made. 


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?

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

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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. 

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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 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!

ART

Image

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You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Finding Direction. Facing Failure.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Finding Direction. Facing Failure.







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Editor Cheryl Klein talked about reading writer Dave Eggers’ interview in Harper Magazine. She talked about it during a time in her life where she felt like she was in a fog and had no direction. It was right after college. For those of us in the kid book world, it’s super hard to imagine someone as amazing as Cheryl lacking focus and direction. She graciously sent me her commencement speech where she details this and it was – It was eye opening. And comforting.

In the article Klein referenced, Eggers basically said he just said yes to possibilities and opportunities. According to Klein, he said, “There is only saying yes to opportunities whenever they come—Trying whatever makes your world larger, your experience greater, your life better— Sometimes just for the pleasure of trying new things, of saying yes.”

This is something Carrie tells kids at almost every single school visit that she does.

She talks about improv and tells them to just say yes to ideas and adventures. She is always asked for advice on how to be a writer and she always says, “Gulp up experiences. Live the biggest life you can live.”

The center of attention in your life? What is it?

What is it that you want to do? To be? It’s easy to feel superfluous, but you are not superfluous and when you understand your life’s work? That helps.

A lot of people tell you to find and/or refine your purpose  by making a sentence:

YOUR NAME + WHAT YOU DO + WHO YOU DO IT FOR +WHY YOU DO IT

So, Carrie’s would be:

I’m Carrie Jones and I write stories about kindness and bravery and connection for kids because they deserve those sort of stories to become the best humans they can be. and to feel less alone

Or that’s what she thought it would be until last week when she had a little bit of a crisis.

And her life’s mission statement became sort of –

I am Carrie Jones and I write things for somebody because I don’t know how not to write and I’m sort of expected to so yeah. Wow. This sucks. 

On Carrie’s Facebook page last week, she asked people what they do when they’ve had a fail moment and can’t quite get over it, how do they find their way again?

One wonderful person, Rhonda Parrish, said this, “I got a tattoo. Right on my hand where I can see it all the time. It says, “Fail Better.”  Because I have often felt like a failure in the past, and I know I’ll feel that way in the future as well — but I don’t want fear of that feeling to stop me from doing things. The tattoo is there to remind me that not succeeding at something is not failure, but not trying it in the first place might be. And also that failing once doesn’t always equal failure. I can always try again. And again. And again. It helps. It puts my neurosis right there on my hand for everyone in the world to see LOL But it helps.”

And then she used this quote:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

When you know that there are possibilities, when you remember one moment doesn’t forever define you, when you say yes to adventure, when you tattoo reminders? All of that… Every bit of it… It can help.

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

Dog Tip for Life

You don’t need to look at yourself. You need to look for yourself – for revelation rather than reassurance.

Writer Tip of the Pod

Be yourself when you write. Don’t try to be John Green or J.K. Rowling. Be you. Write like you.

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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.

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