Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.
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Our house is styled a bit like a farmhouse even though it’s in the middle of Bar Harbor, across the street from the YMCA’s back, dirt, and (until recently) unused parking lot, secure behind a row of tall ,cedar bushes that hide our porch, our windows, our selves.

There is a deep urge in me sometimes to just hermit myself and just do the work, to write, to cook, to paint, to help others make stories, and I’ll occasionally freeze in terror when someone knocks on the door or calls on the phone, or whenever anyone shocks me out of the realization that I am not alone. 

“You are a bit elusive,” one of my friends told me when we were walking through town together, past the storefronts full of t-shirts and mugs, the ice cream shops and restaurants, the big mailbox full of free masks.

I said, “Oh. I don’t mean to be elusive. I’m just scared.”

The day was scented with salty ocean air and all the houses and stores that we passed had lights on and the hum of music and videos and laughter.

“Scared of what?” she asked.

I didn’t know.

But I did know that I didn’t want to be controlled by those fears, that I wanted to sit out on the front porch and talk to people as they passed by rather than hunkering in my backyard.

In our backyard, we have a couple of bird feeders that Shaun (my husband) put up and is in charge of. My parents divorced when I was three or so, and my mom was horribly afraid of birds—all birds, even cartoon birds. So, we never had bird feeders. And the crows cawing in the trees, the jays making the feeders rock with their weight, the graceful hovering of hummingbirds, and the tiny steps of finches thrill me like they are magic, forbidden magic.  

My mother would not be able to go in our backyard.

All my life, I’ve wanted to have a bird land on my hand. I’m not sure where that urge came from. A passing romanticism? A proof that my soul was good enough for a bird to trust? A way to convince myself that I was linked to something bigger and more profound than I was?

Sometimes when I go out into our backyard, the birds startle and rush into flight and I coo to them, “No. I’m not a threat. I’m not a threat. I’m just here. . . .  Um, we gave you the food in the bird feeders. Friendsies?”

The pigeons are usually the boldest and they’ll just watch me from the eaves of our house and sometimes they’ll coo back. A tiny trickle of adrenaline will rush through me and I’ll whisper, “Yes.”

Sometimes, I think that the backyard birds are elusive, but they probably just want to be safe like I do. But sometimes in that urge for safety we miss opportunities. We are stuck wondering: What is it to be whole?

It’s so much easier to answer: What is it to be broken?

When I was little, after my stepfather died, I would go out into the woods and flop in the tall ferns, smell the New Hampshire soil above the hard granite and stay absolutely still.

Waiting.

If I was still enough, I hoped, a bird would think I was just part of nature, that my cords were dirt and my K-Mart shirts were flowers or stones. If I was still enough, I was sure, a bird would come and land on me. We’d be—connected.

The world would go on all around me. Squirrels would hop from pine tree to spruce to oak to maple. Chipmunks would scurry along the ground. Birds would alight and gather. Deer would tiptoe by.

And I’d be waiting. Hoping a bird would come along, land in my small, upturned palm and claim me as part of it all—connected.

But I already was. I just didn’t realize it. A deer smelled my hair. A chipmunk scurried across my stomach. A squirrel would drop acorns near my feet. My spine rested against the ferns, the moss, the soil and for hours would feel the rustlings of a world beneath me, rooting. Connected.

Sometimes, my mom would come and find me and yell, “What are you doing out here? You’re going to make yourself sick.” She’d hurry me back home, complaining of the dirt on my legs, the flicks of moss, the ferns that had somehow twined themselves into my hair. “Look at your fingernails, Carrie! What am I going to do with you?”

I’d be ordered into the bath or shower, to clean my nails, wash my hair, and be just myself again.

To be whole is to be afraid, to long for safety, but also to stretch beyond it. To be an artist or a writer or even a person is to remember that we are not just individuals, scared all by ourselves, acting all elusive even when our hearts pine for connections. Mortality is terrifying sometimes. Pain? Not so fun. Fear and rejection and ridicule sucks.

Like the birds often fear us for our predatory natures, we can really fear each other, fear exposure to trolls, to negative-nellies, to grumpy people in restaurants, shops, or even our own Facebook, Twitter or TikTok pages and of bigger villains who do unspeakable things.

When we try to connect, we can be admonished by people who love us and look after us, people like my sweet, fearful mom who worried about the dirt I was collecting, the potential bugs, ants, ticks, predators.

But we’re bigger than those fears. We’re more than our resentments, our pain. We’re more than our flaws and egos. We are part of something huge and connected and divine, connections so massive that it’s hard to comprehend sometimes.

A bird can’t land on our hands unless we show them our palms.

We can’t heal or help or love other people unless they step outside.

This weekend, I went on the hammock in the backyard to read a book for work and less than a minute after I flopped down there, a sparrow alighted on my shoulder. She was barely on me for five seconds and her wings fluttered and beat the whole time.

But she was there.

It’s okay to be elusive sometimes, even fearful sometimes; it can help protect us, but we don’t want our fear to become our prison. We are bigger than that, our whole nature is bigger than that. We just have to reach out our hand and let the bird land in it and settle for and rejoice in a shoulder, and we have to be the bird and not always fly off or hide away, building our nests bigger and bigger until we can’t find the way out.

There is a way out if we want. We have to want it.

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

Self-Doubt is an Evil Demon, Banish It, Now, Writer Babies!

Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.

That evil inner voice? The butt-face that says you aren’t good enough, that you don’t deserve good things, that you can’t do it?

That little monster is Self-doubt. It hangs out a lot with its big sister, Anxiety. And you don’t have to have them over to play in your head anymore.

Just this week, we posted our podcast and a guy (editor/writer) on Twitter didn’t like it but posted a link to his own blog and said, “COUNTER POINT.”

His blog was all about not wanting to give out writing advice or talking about his own life/anxiety/whatever issues.

All of that is so fine and good for him for telling the world why he is the way his beautiful self is, but this little bit of me was like:

What? Counterpoint? Counterpoint to saying life is deeper than write what you know?

Counterpoint to what?

And why the hell did you post under my tweet your own link without even having the grace to like mine?

If my blog post (if you even read it) inspired you enough to ‘counterpoint’ why not like it?

And then I had a lot of work to do helping writers and writing my own stories and I let it go.

It was a bit of a win for me, honestly. Because all I want to do is be a better human and one step towards that? For me? It’s banishing Self-doubt.

It’s almost like the universe gave me a present right there.

But this isn’t just about me. It’s also about you and how you can do that too, right?

Here’s how to kick Self-Doubt and Anxiety out of your house.

  1. Tell them to get out. Seriously, once they start whispering their disparaging believes about your worth, tell them, “Get out. I hear you. I don’t need you. Bugger off. You’re ruining the party.”
  2. Remember good things. If Self-doubt is a bully who won’t leave, you sometimes have to call in the reinforcements. Those reinforcements are the good time, the good memories. The times you were proactive and kicked butt.
  3. Phone a friend or text or Facetime. Sometimes your own memories aren’t strong enough and you have to talk to someone about your self-doubt. Telling another person about your doubts sometimes helps you realize how dorky they are and how they are like the OOPS page on a Rotten Tomatoes movie listing. The congnative dissonance because obvious when you say things aloud.
  4. Make a Journal of Awesome. At one point in my life, I had to print out people’s positive emails and reviews so that I could remember that I had helped people, that my stories connected to people before. I even put in fan mail and fan art and blog posts about positive interactions. Yes, I really was that depressed. Self-doubt had set up home.
  5. Failing one time? It doesn’t make you a failure.
  6. Failing 1,000 times? Still doesn’t make you a failure. You’re only a failure if you decide to be.
  7. Remember you aren’t the center of the universe. I know! I know! You ARE the center of your own universe probably, but we all have to push away our inner narcissist and remember that most people aren’t noticing what you’re doing. Yes, there are trolls out there, but they most likely won’t find you. And if they do? They’re trolls and you’re awesome and you will deal with it. Don’t let your fear of ridicule keep you from living your dreams.

That one is a big one for me, really, which was why ‘counterpoint’ was a bit of a setback.

I’m still working on it and it’s the main reason I still blog, do podcasts, and YouTube. All those things force me out of my comfort zone and into past trauma places about my voice and weirdness. The more I do it? The stronger I get about it.

Oh! And the last one is so important that it’s getting pulled from the list.

What other people think about you doesn’t get to determine who you are.

That’s right. I have a sibling who thinks I’m lying about my DNA. His belief that I’m a liar? It doesn’t make me a liar. I have DNA tests to back me up. Yes, I’ve got the receipts.

But even if you don’t have the receipts, don’t let anyone else make you the villain or the victim of your own story. Only YOU get to decide that. No matter what other people do to you, think of you, say about you, only YOU get to determine if you love yourself and if you have worth.

Here’s the final secret: You do.

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

“When the ceiling caves in on you, you no longer assume structural stability. You have to learn to live along fault lines.”

— Suleika Jaouad (@suleikajaouad) author of memoir Between Two Kingdoms.

The Sixth Step of Revision? Writing Killer Scenes

Ready for step six in my Revision Series of Awesome?

Spoiler: I’m not sure how awesome it truly is. I kind of just made up that name.

For summary or recap. Imagine a montage like they do before an episode of your fave series. Imagine really big crescendos and music too, okay?

The first step was taking a breather.

The second step was doing the read-through.

The third step is really making decisions.

Step FourDeciding if your changes are huge or tiny? Start with the huge ones that impact the whole book. Fix those things.

Step Five is reading through it all again after you’ve made the changes and tweaking some thing. What? I know! I know! What a beast!

WE ARE ON STEP SIX!!! We’re so close, my friends!

Okay, now we’re onto my absolute favorite part – the scene. I love scenes SO MUCH that I’m actually teaching a course about them at the Writing Barn next fall!

So in this revision step, we look at the scene and we remember some really core and important things.

  1. Does the scene move the plot forward? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  2. Does the scene more the character forward? Are they evolving here? No? You might have to cut that baby.
  3. Does that scene have people who matter to your plot? No? Maybe cut the baby.
  4. Does it have the right point of view? No? Revise it so it does.
  5. Does it have silly, boring dialogue? Cut it.

What is silly dialogue?

It’s this.

Carrie: Hi.

Writer: Hi.

Carrie: The weather is nice.

Writer: Yep.

Carrie: I like manatees.

Writer: Yeah, okay.

Bad Dialogue by Carrie 🙂

Let’s go back to our list. Let’s make a new one!

  1. Does your scene use all the senses? Can you feel where they are? Make sure you can!
  2. Are there talking heads in the scene? Give your character tics, habits, things to do. Have them interact with the world?
  3. Is it a big info dump? Yes? Fix it! Any time that you see the word ‘dump,’ it’s usually not a good thing.
  4. Does everyone sound the same? Fix that!
  5. Does your scene have a beginning, middle, and end? It should!
  6. Does it seem like the characters only just start living the moment that you start the scene? It shouldn’t!

WHEW! I swear! I swear! You’ve got this! Your book is going to be so shiny!

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

LOVING THE STRANGE – The strange, adorable things people do.

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
LOVING THE STRANGE - The strange, adorable things people do.
/

Hey! Welcome to episode 16 of LOVING THE STRANGE where we talk about the strange, adorable things people do.

Thank you all so much for listening! This wouldn’t be fun if you weren’t here.

Let me have a moment of bravery and tell you something I (Carrie) do.

I hold my breath.

I hold my breath when I put pants on.

I hold my breath when I put my bra on.

I hold my breath when I walk up stairs.

I speed up my pace when I’m running if other people are around.

I also used to

Eat burgers by layer.

Other things we talked about.

People who put their long, long hair over the seat back in the airplane row in front of you. – This is not something Shaun can handle.

Forgetting to put water in microwave noodles.

Pretending you’re on the Voice or in a dance battle.

Assuming people are laughing at you when they’re just laughing near you.

Sending an email and then being like, oh crap, I should read that before I hit send and immediately reading it.

PRETENDING TO BE INTERVIEWED and acting it out with facial expressions.

PRETENDING ZOMBIES OR BIG FOOT OR BAD GUYS ARE RUNNING AFTER YOU when you are running.

“Throwing away the box from your microwave meal and then immediately having to fish it out to find out how long to cook it.”

The extra shout-outs go to our high level patrons who also read Carrie’s books in progress and get some art in the mail sometimes.

Autumn Gin

Claire De Brey

Jenn Duffield

Pam Leffler

Joan Stradling

Nancy Stone

Sam Spellacy

Toni Floback

Shay Altair

Rachael Azbill

For more resources and laughs about how we are all adorably strange, check out these links!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ariannarebolini/weird-things-other-people-totally-do-too

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

Revision Tips! The Sexy Read-Through

Checklists are sexy.

This week, I’m posting a bit about revision! Yay! I also talked about it with my student-writers in The Writing Course of Awesome.

Theater people know all about read-throughs. It’s when the whole cast sits down and reads the script. They get a cool feel of it and the characters and the plot.

Well, a read-through is actually also an important second step in revising your novel.

What’s the first step? It’s putting it aside for a while and ghosting it like a bad friend at a party.

Spoiler: I am that bad friend.

So, the read-through is a really big second step (or first step).

You want to read your story carefully and look for problems. I know! I know! It’s a beloved baby as adorable as Yoda or a puppy, but let me tell you, it will probably still have problems.

Here are the sub-steps of that second big step.

  • Read
  • As you read create a new document and put down all the problems that you notice. You don’t want to be doing things about sentence structure and semicolon nitpicking here. You want to look at the big picture.
  • Write down those problems with your plot or with your character.
  • Write down those problems with your image system (or lack of one).
  • Write down where your attention drifts.
  • Check to see if your beginning makes sense. Write it down. Does it make you want to read on.
  • Check to see if your ending makes sense. Write it down. Does it feel satisfying? Are all the questions answered?
  • Check to see if your characters make sense. Do they do what they do for a reason? Write it down.
  • Think of your logline.
  • Look for giant info dumps.
  • Look for cliches .
  • Check that pace again.
  • Cut the crap. Yep! I said my stepdad’s favorite phrase. But really. You don’t need all those scenes you wrote, I bet. If they don’t serve a purpose? You need to cut them.
  • Now figure out the global problems and the smaller problems.
  • Now figure out the solutions!

What Next?

Now you have a document that will give you a roadmap to figuring out how to fix everything.

What Do You Do With That Document?

You use it to make a checklist. Checklists are sexy.

And you know what’s even sexier? An author checking things off their checklist.

Then do it and feel totally boss and sexy throughout the whole thing. Because this, my friends, is what writers do. We revise like the awesome beasts we are, trying to make the best possible stories. How amazing is that?

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

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!

How Do You Make Your Story Thrilling and Sunbathing Your Testicles?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
How Do You Make Your Story Thrilling and Sunbathing Your Testicles?
/

You’ve all read a story or heard a story that just bores you to tears, right?

You don’t want to write that story UNLESS boring people is your goal. That’s a fine goal! You get to have that if you want it. Don’t let anyone take your goal away from you.

But if that’s not your goal? Let’s talk.

To not bore your reader, at the most basic level, you have to do three things. And these three things are the basic elements. Bare bones here, okay?

  • Keeping your damn word.

Just like in a relationship, when you write a book for someone or tell them a story, you set up an expectation in them that there is going to be a payoff there.

There is always an expectation the reader will have.

Will they catch the murderer?

Will James get out of the giant peach? Will the rich family get out of the town?

Will Lassie save whoever Lassie needs to save?

Your book is full of these promises and questions that you the author set out for the reader and that you have to answer. If you don’t? You’re a promise breaker! And you’ve ruined your relationship with your reader.

  • Making your damn character interesting (This has to do with plot too, actually.).

Your character has a journey. They make choices. The bigger the story and the scarier? The bigger the choices. The character in a thrilling story has to be the hero, the brave one, the choice-maker. Those choices lead you to a thrilling and amazing finale.

  • Making time matter

If you have your whole life to hunt down the monster that’s killing everyone in town, there’s not as much tension there.

If the bomb is going to explode in 10,000 years? Same thing. But the pressure of a villain who is killing people, the pressure of the bomb about to explode, the pressure of a destiny that might not happen if you don’t hurry up?

That’s a big deal. It’s a trope. Who cares? Use it.

There’s some other things that make a good thriller, too.

  1. There needs to be high stakes. Time limits. Multiple problems increases those stakes.
  2. There needs to be an actual threat to the characters or society.
  3. There needs to be some things that you don’t expect to happen, happen.
  4. The characters need to be multiple dimensions, not flat little cardboard figures or game pieces. But interesting.
  5. There needs to be some cool action going on. That might be mind games. Mind games count. Car chases do too.

Bonus Element:

  1. Cool locations. Your reader wants to explore the world from the safety of their bed/couch/porch/subway seat. Your book lets them do that. Use details. Make those locations real.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Think about your damn audience not just yourself.

Dog Tip for Life

Make your own excitement like Gabby. Every moment can be thrilling.

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.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Resources for Random Thoughts

https://apnews.com/hub/oddities

https://www.mynbc5.com/article/video-shows-1-000-dolphin-stampede-off-california-coast/36017470#

https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19539973/i-put-a-giant-red-light-on-my-balls-to-triple-my-testosterone-levels/

Make Your Setting Sexy

In my work as a writing coach and an editor, I read a lot of stories that don’t feel real. That might be because there are no senses involved. But the other big culprit is setting.

Every story takes place somewhere.

That’s right. Let me say it again.

Every story takes place somewhere.

And our job as a writer is to show the specific details of that setting, to give setting a presence in the story just as much as we give the plot and characters a presence in the story.

I’ve written before:

Setting has lovers and haters. It can be quite the polarizing part of the writer world.

The haters think of setting and the thing of description. Or they think of massive amounts of description that continues on forever and ever. The think setting equals boring.

The setting lovers think setting is the best thing in the whole universe. Their stories start with paragraph after paragraph after paragraph of mood and setting.

But no matter what camp you’re in, setting isn’t something that should be tacked onto a story. Setting is more than describing the living room. It creates the feeling of a story and its time, where it happens, its bit of the world. Poets and novelists of the past often make the landscape a character in their poem or their narrative. The claustrophobia of a small town like in Peyton Place or even Twilight’s moody darkness is part of the story and is an important aspect to the main characters’ moods and choices.

Writers who can visualize the setting and put that on the page are writers who transport their readers.

How do you make your settings amazing and sexy?

Make it surprising. Make how your characters interact with it matter.

We all expect someone to be moved at a sunrise or sunset’s beauty. What if your character is afraid of it?

Let your readers know what’s going on.

Keep them oriented in the scene. Don’t have the characters just floating out there in talking heads dialogue with no details or just all internal dialogue. Characters need to interact with the space.

Make your character interact with the setting on a big and small level.

Has your character been in their town their whole life and feels like it’s crushing her soul? Show that. That’s big-picture-interaction.

Does your character keep trying to scrub the dog drool off her wood floor? Show that. That’s small-picture-interaction.

Use All the Senses

I wrote about this earlier. It’s easy. Humans smell, feel, see, touch, hear and taste. Your characters should too. What they smell, feel, see, touch, hear and taste? That’s part of the setting.

Make it interesting

Every place is unique. Every setting has an aspect of difference. Bring those unique details out and have them matter to the story.

What Are The Three Types of Setting?

Wait what? Yep. You read that correctly. There are three types of setting.

Temporal – the era that the story is happening in.

Environmental – The geographical area

Individual – specific place in that area

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

Signs of Writers Burnout

Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”

Earlier this week, I talked about writing burnout and we did a monster podcast about it yesterday and we quickly spoke about the symptoms.

I just wanted to devote a bit more time to that here because if I look at the #writingcommunity on Twitter, it seems like either:

  1. Every writer is burnout
  2. Every writer hates writing.

That’s not a cool way to live.

And I know! I know! Sometimes it seems more cool to whine or hate on things, but you know what’s really cool?

  1. Enjoying your damn life.
  2. Enjoying writing if it’s your hobby, outlet, or job.

Herbert Freudenberger wrote Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement. Back then he defined it as “the extinction of motivation or incentive, especially where one’s devotion to a cause or relationship fails to produce the desired results.”

So here are some questions to ask yourself if you are burnt out.

  • Are you super cynical about writing?
  • Are you super critical of your own writing?
  • Of everyone else’s?
  • Are you spending more time hating than even being apathetic? God forbid, loving?
  • Are you so totally apathetic about writing?
  • Is it really hard to start writing? Not in a writing block way, but in a consistent and longterm way?
  • Are you cranky with everyone?
  • Are you so worn out that you can’t even imagine lifting up your fingers, curling them over the keyboard and typing?
  • When you look at the blank page do you look away?
  • Can you not concentrate?
  • When good things happen in your writing world are you like, “Yeah. Whatever. Cool. Fine. Sure. NYT bestseller list. Okay. Whatevs.”
  • Do you think, “There is not a single damn good thing in the entire writing community? Or is it single good damn thing? Ugh! Whatever.”
  • Are you sleeping a lot all of a sudden?
  • Are you sleeping never all of a sudden?
  • Instead of writing are you drinking or eating or getting high? Um, in a way that’s different than before?

A key risk of job burnout is when you really identify with your work, when you get your identity from it and that? Well, that’s pretty hard for writers not to do.

We’re writing because we want to communicate. We’re writing because we want to change the world. We’re writing because we want to tell our stories.

It’s hard not to identify with your work when you are exposing your soul on the page, right?

Yesterday on the podcast we talked a bit about what you can do to deal with burnout. The thing is that burnout? It doesn’t have to last forever.

There’s an old article in Psychology Today that has great ideas about overcoming burnout. I hope you’ll check it out! And take care of yourself. You’ve got to love yourself through it and you’re worthy of love, okay?

What if it’s more than burnout?

Then you need to really take care of yourself. This world needs you and your stories in it.

Untreated burnout can lead to serious depression. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 is a place you can call (in the U.S.) for help from a trained counselor.

If the danger is immediate you can call 911. 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

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.

Spicing Up Your Life

A refrigerator is like life. It is full of culinary experiences which we often take for granted and for many of us, are often the same week after week.

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s.

An adorable Florida man who moved to Maine

Hi folks!

I hope that you have had a wonderful week since I last wrote my Thursday blog post. One of my favorite things to do as of late is the new podcast that Carrie and I have been doing live on Friday evenings at 7 p.m. eastern time.

It is called Loving the Strange and usually we speak on topics such as ghosts, Bigfoot, lucid dreaming and anything not ordinary. However, this week we are going to be doing a hot chicken wing eating episode and are inviting our viewers to ask us questions during the podcast, similar to the show Hot Ones.

I Swear This Isn’t An Ad

I know that first paragraph sounded like a big advertisement for our podcast, and it was sort of, but in actuality I was giving some background for the rest of this blog.

Before I sat down and started typing I was starting to prepare for tomorrow night’s podcast. It is way too soon to start frying delicious chicken wings (Carrie is eating fake vegan wings, blech!), but I thought that I would start inventorying our hot sauce and picking out the ones for us to use, with Carrie’s input of course.

Note from Carrie: I have so far had no input.

We will start with the more mild sauces and work our way up to the hottest sauce that we have. Considering that we have 22 different bottles of hot sauce in our refrigerator, we will be skipping many of them because we will each only be eating six wings on the podcast. I am getting off track again, sorry!

My real point is that when I opened the refrigerator and thought about our hot sauces and how they change or enhance the taste of food I realized that a refrigerator is like life. It is full of culinary experiences which we often take for granted and for many of us, are often the same week after week.

How many of us just go through the motions of life and never spice it up with a dash of heat?

Making life more interesting and less mundane can be as simple as opening a “bottle” of hot life sauce and letting some fly. It is exciting, exhilarating, and oh so much better than just leading the same old bland existence all of the time!

Try it please!

Take a moment at the beginning of each day and say to yourself, “Self, how can I spice up my day today?”

You can choose a mild life spice or an insanely hot life spice depending on your mood. Just remember that the hotter and more adventurous the life spice you choose is, to use a corresponding amount less. It’s the same as food spice. If you use too much life spice, it can totally ruin the experience.

If you can’t bring yourself to add any life spice right now, you should at least watch our podcast on Friday. I guarantee that we will be feeling the effects of the hot sauces by the end and as long as Carrie can keep her fingers out of hers eyes it should be humorous.

Till then, start with some mild life spice and Love Your Way Through It!

Peace,

Shaun

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.

Three Quick Tips to Try to Show Instead of Tell

So all this week, I’ve been talking about how to show and not tell in your writing.

You can find those past post, by clicking on SHOW DON’T TELL in the tags.

We defined it.

Showing is what it sounds like. You are showing what’s happening in the scene or with the character.


Telling is also what it sounds like. You are blunt and direct and are just stating things. Sometimes you’re stating and summarizing.

WE GAVE A QUICK EXAMPLE:

Telling:

Shaun was cranky.

Showing:

Gabby the dog barked for hours at the dogs trotting by the house that morning and after a quick pause for a drink from her red water bowl in the kitchen, she’d pranced back to the living room sliding glass door and started again.

Shaun tensed. He slammed his fist against his desk and roared, “Will you just shut up already?”

And Now I’m Going To Give Three Quicks on How to Show Not Tell

  1. Use dialogue.

We learn a lot about people by how they talk to other people. Do they use big words? Little words? Dramatic words? Do they just grunt?

“I am terribly disappointed in your behavior.”

“You suck. I can’t believe you freaking did that.”

“Wow. Buttface.”

Those are all about the same thing, but three very different responses, right? Those responses tell us about the characters.

  • Describe the action rather than state the action.

Telling:

She loved Spring. It gave her joy.

Showing:

She spiraled around, arms out in the air as she waited for the light to change. The moment it did, she started across.

“You’re skipping,” the lady next to her said.

She smiled back at her, weaving around the school children crossing against them. A dog wagged his tail, sniffing some daffodils in the medium. “It’s Spring. Spring is the best.”

  • Use the setting and make your character actually interact with the setting.

Telling:

I stepped on the porch. It was hot.

Showing:

The rotting wooden boards of the porch popped under my weight as I sniffed my pits. Before I knocked on the red door with its peeling paint and bright orange STAY OUT sign, I pulled at my t-shirt fabric. The humidity made it cling.

HERE IS THE THING: SOMETIMES YOU CAN TELL.

You just want to not always tell. You can tell a little bit as a story begins. You just don’t want to only tell.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU ARE TELLING TOO MUCH?

You’re using a lot of distancing words like “knew, look, saw, heard, supposed, watched, stared, told.”

      Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock and knew that someone was going to be entering the room.

You are using the word obviously, of course, clearly a lot.

      Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock, obviously someone had unlocked it and would be entering the room. Would they die from the smell, clearly it was horrifyingly bad, of course it was. It was the bathroom.

You are making a lot of fluffy language and filler language.

      A flurry of worry flooded his brain as Shaun heard the bathroom door unlock.

And there you go! I hope it helps! Have fun writing!

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?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


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 263,000 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 new books 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.