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?

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 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

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

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?

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 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

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?

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 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Three Quick Tips to Show Instead of Tell

As writers, showing allows us more control over what we’re trying to communicate to the reader. Pretty cool, right?

This week, I’m talking a bit about showing versus telling.

There will be more about this in our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

As I say there, a lot of writers get the note that they need to show more and tell less and then they are stuck thinking a lot of swear words and end up screaming into their pillow, “HOW DO I EVEN DO THAT?”

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.

Showing Example:

Carrie was hungry.

Telling Example:

Her stomach grumbled as Carrie opened the refrigerator. Nothing. Just shelves of sourdough starter and orange-vanilla soda water and left-over crumbs of pizza crust. Pressing her face against the dirty shelf, she tried to lap them up with her tongue. The world wobbled.

“Food,” she whispered. “Please, just a little food.”

Those seem like two totally different stories, right? But they are both just about me being hungry.

When you tell people, they are left filling in the gaps. If you heard, “Carrie was hungry,” I bet you didn’t fill in those gaps quite the way I just did.

As writers, showing allows us more control over what we’re trying to communicate to the reader. Pretty cool, right?

Three Quick Tips to Try to Show Instead of Tell

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.

There you go! Like I said, I’ll be talking about this in this week’s podcast, but also in my Wednesday post. Just click on the tab for SHOWDON’T TELL to see all the posts about this topic.

Hm. That seemed a little telling, didn’t it? 🙂

Spontaneous Combustion and Poop Styles

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Spontaneous Combustion and Poop Styles
/

This week on our live podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, we talked about human spontaneous combustion and poop styles.

We hope you’ll check it out.

And get your strange on, my friends.

The video version is here, too.

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 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.

Realistic Dialogue and Halloween Parties for Fourteen Year Olds

One of my favorite criticisms is when people say to writers, “Your dialogue is not realistic.”

The reason this cracks me up is because have you ever really listened to most people’s realistic dialogue? It’s pretty funny and makes a pretty bizarre book.

I took this verbatim from a Halloween sleep over at my house in pre-COVID-19 times.

Here’s the scene:

There are six 14-year-olds. They are making cheesy ghosts with olive faces. This is the dialogue. It is verbatim.

And this, my friends, is why us writers don’t have perfectly accurate dialogue in our stories. Are you ready?

The Words They Said:

Didn’t H– make show choir?

She didn’t make it. She tried it again in the spring and she emailed Mrs. Wright and asked her what to work on but she used all these big words so then H–  didn’t try out because she was mad.

Oh no… Big words

She told her she needed to work on her voice and stuff.

No offense but she does

(Abby keeps singing.)

Guys do not be mean.

I don’t want to be mean.

Did you hear her solo?

It was good but she got mad after awhile.

She got sick of it after awhile because Ben told her to do something on her solo.

Is Ben the guy who runs the band thing with the saxophones.

No he does the drama.

I’m so mad.

Can we do it?

Guys we would be amazing.

I would do the choreography. I’m so tough.

The three of us. No the four of us.

What about me. You guys hate me!

No… You don’t do musical stuff.

No! All of us can do it.

Oh! I’m so foolish…

I don’t know how to shape the ghost.

You have a hard butt.

Look! It has a belly button.

I got bored so I put more olives on it.

All of my cheese fell-off.Abby keeps singing.

Abby will you shut up!

(Mallory joins Abby in singing.)

Oh my God, you guys. Emily’s ghost looks like a Pac-Man.

It is a Pac-Man.

Oh.

I decided to announce my geekiness to the world.

This is the dialogue, I swear.


 As a former reporter, I know how messy it is listening to people talk.

Realistic dialogue isn’t always the point. The point is that you want the dialogue to make sense, to advance your plot, to show character, to make your story sing. People will always ding writers on dialogue because they’ll expect the dialogue to reflect the people in their own world.

But the thing is that we all don’t talk the same. Donald Trump doesn’t sound like Barack Obama who doesn’t sound like Joe Biden who doesn’t sound like Mike Pence who doesn’t sound like Kamala Harris.

That’s okay. Just try to hear your own characters’ voices, but more than that, listen to the voices that don’t sound like you and don’t think that they don’t sound ‘realistic,’ instead rejoice in that difference. It’s pretty beautiful.


Let’s Hang Out!

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 259,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcast is about urban legends. And our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about the B Story and goat voyeurs.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.

There’s a bit more about it here.


Carrie Jones Books is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


CARRIE’S TEACHABLE CLASS!

I have a quick, pre-recorded Teachable class designed to make you a killer scene writer in just one day. It’s fun. It’s fast. And you get to become a better writer for just $25, which is an amazing deal.

TIPS ON NOT MAKING YOUR EDITOR THINK YOU ARE A LITTLE TOO WEIRD

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

I have consistently screwed that up.

Fortunately, I have a very, very tolerant editor.

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

TIPS ON NOT MAKING YOUR EDITOR THINK YOU ARE A LITTLE TOO WEIRD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Act all innocent. Say, “Really?”

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

13. Hang-up.

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

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

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

Sparty’s Wednesday Wisdom

Notice everything, humans.


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


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

Sparty Dog

Big News!

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

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

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

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

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

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast

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

WHERE TO FIND US

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.

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

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.”


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!

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

Becoming

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

Look. Lying is Bad for Your Health and Authors Stink At It, No Matter What “Experts” Say

Seriously.

I know people lie all the time. I know these people get powerful, get fame, get money, get whatever… I know that their lies are there to shelter them, protect them, because they are afraid that their past mistakes or inadequacies  will make people love them. Or just because they are ashamed of what they’ve done and who they are.

I know that we all do it.

That we all lie.

Sometimes.

I’m not talking about the white lies where you tell someone their butt looks good when it doesn’t.

I’m talking about the lies we create to try to dig ourselves out of humiliating experiences. You know what I mean right? When you mess up on your job. When you mess up in your book. When you mess up in your relationship.

Those kinds of lies.

Lying makes you sick. It makes your heart sick. It makes your body sick. I don’t want you to be sick.

I knew a man who was in an insufferable marriage. Before you judge, just know it was bad. He had an affair and then he had eczema, terrible eczema. He finally divorced his wife and the eczema was gone. Yes, correlation doesn’t always equal causation. I get that. But I also get that lying messes us up.

According to an article in the Atlantic, people lie about 11 times every week. It’s no wonder we as a society have forgotten what truth is, right? We lie an average of 572 times a year. And sometimes, telling the truth is seen as the act of the unsophisticated.

Yeah. I am not cool with that. I’m not cool with lying to get ahead or lying to get out of trouble or lying so that your public persona seems better than it is. Because I know that lying hurts your insides. I want your insides to feel good, darn it.

In Gunderman’s story for the Atlantic, he writes:

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame followed 110 people over a period of ten weeks. Half of the participants were asked to stop lying over this period of time, and the other half were not. Both groups took weekly polygraph tests to determine how many times they had lied in the previous week. Those who were able to reduce by three the number of lies they told had four fewer mental health complaints (such as feeling tense) and three fewer physical health complaints (such as headaches) than those who did not.

So how do you not lie?

  1. Sign an ethics agreement with yourself.
  2. Avoid conflicts of interest
  3. Realize that if you lose your job, or mess up big-time, people can and still love you. They’ll relate to you because it’s happened to them, too. And if they can’t? If your act of imperfection is unforgivable to them, then move on honestly. It will be better for you in the long run.
  4. For some people writing down the Ten Commandments or similar articles of behavior is a reminder to be honest and helps prevent dishonesty.
  5. Don’t pick a job or a lifestyle or a relationship that rewards dishonesty and encourages it. Here’s an old story about that with Wells Fargo.

Lying and Writing

The perception is that all writers are liars. We construct these fictional worlds that aren’t truth. Therefore we must be lying, right? We must be suffering from the same health effects that liars-in-real-life do.

Yeah. No.

Writers create entire worlds. Yes. We fabricate details. Yes. We make people up. Yes.

But we aren’t experts in lying. We’re experts in truth.

“Wait… What…?” you’re probably saying.

But here’s the thing. Writers create worlds. But we create worlds out of truths. We put in key details. We focus on being believable. But what we’re doing is using art to tell the truths of our own stories, of the world’s stories, which is the truth of people’s stories and existence.

The best writers are the best truth tellers because their story matters to them. The depth of what they’re writing about (grief, racism, oppression, love, justice) is the truth that needs to come out of their soul. That’s the opposite of lying.

So, go write. If you’re writing your inner truth? That’s only going to lift you up.

Do Good Wednesday

Make a pact with yourself to tell the truth as much as you can. It’s that simple.

 

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

 

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

More about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.