Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation

We like to think that our lives have a point and that they matter. I think they do, but we’re not here to get all esoteric on you. We’re here to help you be better writers and humans and one of the biggest things we need to tell you is this. 

You need to ban the ‘whatever.’ 

If you want your life to have a point then you need to give it a point. 

If you want your story to have a point? Same thing. 

Your life and your story should never be about ‘whatever.’ 

In life, you fix things when they break. You create goals. You move forward to solve things. In your story? Well it needs to happen that way too. We have to lean into the guiding force that creates every moment and scene in our stories. 

We focus so much on our feelings and our emotions, but here’s the thing – emotions change, feelings are flighty. What matters is our point or our purpose and that matters both overall and in the moment. 

Remembering your point or purpose works really well when you’re arguing with your partner because they failed to hear you when you said, “Can you put the onions in the pot, right now?” Instead of being super cranky and resentful that they didn’t put the onions in the pot for two minutes, you can think, “Wait. What is my purpose of being with this person?”

Chances are your purpose isn’t about getting onions quickly into a pot or having someone to boss around. Usually your purpose about being someone is something like, “To build a happy, safe, collaborative life together.” 

So, how do you find your life’s purpose? That’s a bit question that Carrie’s always struggling with.

A good first step is to ask yourself these five questions: 

  1. What happens because I am here? 
  2. What wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t here? 
  3. What am I good at and think is pretty easy? 
  4. What do I love doing when I do it? 
  5. What do I actually look forward to? 

Ask yourself these questions over and over again and if you’re blocked on them, if you think you don’t make a difference in anyone’s life? Ask again. Keep asking. Wonder for a second if it’s easier to believe that you don’t matter than accept that you do.

Because you do. 

You have a point. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Just like our lives, our characters in stories need to have a point and a purpose and so do our stories. Ask yourself what each characters’ points are. Ask yourself what the story’s point is? Is it a treatise about government corrupt? A call to love? 

Dog Tip for Life

Dog’s don’t ask what they should be doing. They ask, what their purpose is? A protector dog protects. A hunter hunts. A lap dog laps. A lab eats. Their purpose propels their choices and gives them a point to existence. 

So, think about it. What is your purpose right now in this second? 


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.


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.

Gabby’s Dog Tip for Today

Look at you showing your best self to this world even when other people are being not so best.

Look at you leading by example, making your story, making community, lifting others up, reaching for them, noticing. Make room for the beauty you are.

Gabby 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. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


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. 

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.


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:


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

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.


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.


Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
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Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

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