Blissed Out Monday

IMG-5852Sparty the Dog: Human, I worry about you.

Me: Why now, Sparty?

Sparty the Dog: Not you specifically, but all humans, really.

Me: 

Sparty the Dog: 

Me: Okay. Ready.

Sparty: You live too much in your mind and not enough in your heart.  You live too much in your teams and not enough as a whole. You think differences are scary and surround yourself with the similar.

Me: 

Sparty: I broke your brain, didn’t I?

Me: Pretty much.

 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

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

Moe Berg

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Carrie is the writing coach I always dreamed of having. She has such a great balance in her feedback between singing your praises at what is working and giving you honest criticism at what still needs development. Carrie goes above and beyond in her editorial letters, giving very clear and detailed feedback, and her eagerness to answer any questions makes the whole experience of critique—which can be a very vulnerable experience—make you feel like you’re with a trusted friend that you’ve known for years (even though you just met). 
 – Jason Gallagher, author of WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

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Be a Freaking Hero, Writers. Be One. Make One! You’ve Got This.

In this podcast’s Random Thought of the Pod, we tell the story of Gabby the Dog who has an aversion to people who have dabbled with cocaine and also talk about Carrie’s quest to be alpha.

But the writing tips are here: 

Heroes have to do a lot in your story. Not only do they have to save the damn day, they also have to make you care about them while they do it.

I know. I know! Saving the day should honestly be enough, but it isn’t.

We readers want our heroes to be human so that we can relate to them, which is why we writers try to give them a moment of humanity near the beginning of the book.

What is this moment? It is the moment that the reader falls in love with the hero.

Caring moments

Goofy  moments

Quirky AF moments

Universal moments that we can all relate to.

Writing Tip of the Cast

You have to be alpha in your own book. Make your characters work. Be firm in your decisions and choices.

Dog Tip For Life

There’s no one right way to be. Embrace who you are, who you want to be. And if you want everyone to fall in love with you? That’s how you do it. Be authentic. Don’t pretend to be a cat. Embrace your dogness

Writing News

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

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

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Be a Freaking Hero, Writers. Be One. Make One! You’ve Got This.

 
 
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The Worst Things My Dogs Did

I love dogs.

I love my dogs. I mean look at them. I’ve had a great line of awesome rescue dogs that have blessed my life.

But sometimes? Sometimes horrible things happen. Things that seem like they should not happen in real life. Things that seem like they should only happen in horror movies.

One of those things? Well, once the dog, the big dog, the big dog with the massive bladder let loose the contents of her bladder on hardwood floor of the upstairs hallway.

We discovered this because there was a puddle on the downstairs floor.

“What is that?” the man asked.

“Um… pee?”

“That’s not pee.”

“It smells like pee.”

“It can’t be pee. It’s dripping from the ceiling.”

And I foolishly said, “It really smells like pee.”

The man then unleashed a massive stream of cursing that really belonged in record books. He vaulted up the stairs and cursed more.

“The BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORDING BAD WORD dog BAD WORDED AND BAD WORDED up here.”

“It will be okay,” I said.

“It is so not okay,” the man said.

I grabbed paper towels and bleach spray and bleach wipes and headed up the stairs.

The man grabbed a mop and bucket and continued to swear.

“Urine is literally dripping from our ceiling. OUR CEILING!”

The dog went out on the porch, which would have been a much better place for her to unleash the contents of her doggy bladder of Olympian size.

This whole event happened immediately after we came upstairs because the basement had  flooded. Our basement had never flooded before. There had been two inches of rain and I guess it inspired basement flooding and doggy bladders?

Yeah. I’m reaching there.

Anyway, this all happened during a day in which nothing went right, but I totally held it together anyways. This happened during a day where the one thing I was looking forward to for AN ENTIRE YEAR got cancelled because a projector at a movie theater broke.

It happened.

The dog had a massive accident. The accident found a knot in the wood and dripped through it onto the kitchen floor.

It was messy and disgusting and swear worthy.

And we survived. Right?

I love dogs and people and humanity, but man… if we don’t mess things up beautifully sometimes.

But what matters is loving through it, surviving through it, continuing through it.

And also bleach wipes.

Bleach wipes are important.

 

https://carriejonesbooks.blog/dogs-are-smarter-than-people-the-podcast/

One time when I was a emergency dispatcher, I came home and Tala and Scotty, my then-dogs, greeted me at the door, all doggy happy. Scotty, was my new dog and he was a rescue dog from Alabama who was in a kill shelter and for a long time we had thought that he was perhaps a grandpa who likes crawfish and BudLite a lot and was somehow caught in a dog’s body – like he was a shapeshifter who got stuck.  He had a puncture wound in his neck when he got here, two small holes. So, I think a vampire is to blame.

He’d also been shot.

His tongue had also been flayed and had healed, but one side didn’t work.

You know I’m a grandpa in real life – a human grandpa who likes BudLite.

Before that night, I had already witnessed him:

1. Get ice out of the refrigerator.
2. Use his paw on a door handle to open a door.

And now, he did this….

Do you see that? It’s a drawer that was COMPLETELY shut when I left the house. This means he grabbed it with his mouth and got it open at least a little bit and then he either wedged his nose in or something and opened it more.

Why would he do that? Oh, he was probably sick of dog food and bored because I was gone. Which is bored doggy behaviour, I know, but I present more evidence….

This was just part of the mess the dogs made. Notice the bottle of corn syrup was still standing up? Would a dog do that?

“No! A dog would not do that,” said Tala. “A dog would do this! Look at all that powdered sugar mixed with shoe! Yummy! I give it 5 stars!!!”

Side note: Dog saliva combined with powdered sugar on a wood floor creates a glue-like paste that is impossible to vacuum or mop up. It must be attacked with Clorox bleach wipes. I swear. I did not know this that night.

And finally, though they ate peanut butter chips and brown sugar and confectioner’s sugar and Crisco shortening and Shepard’s Pix mix and Italian seasoning mix, they did NOT eat this….

Do you know what that is? It is chocolate!!! Chocolate KILLS dogs. And they left it, only tearing open the end. I sort of imagine Scotty holding Tala back and saying, “Baby. It smells good, but it’s poison. It will kill us. Let’s go lick up the sugar.”

See? I swear he was human!

You know it, baby. Now go get me a beer while I lick the sugar off this here rug.

I miss Tala and Scotty and all the dogs I’ve had before. I miss them even though they weren’t perfect. I miss them even though they had flaws. That’s the thing, if the living creatures we love are flawed? That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of love. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worthy of our love.

Nobody’s perfect. Not even a dog. But that’s okay. It just means that they are real.

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.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

I’ll be at Sherman’s Bookstore in Bar Harbor on April 28 from 1-2.

To find out more about my books, there are links in the header. And if you buy one? Thank you so much. Let me know if you want me to send you a bookplate.

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along with over 3,000 listens.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

 

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome six-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money. We’ll be having a Zoom class to learn more about it and I’ll share the details as soon as they are official.

Write Submit Support

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

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Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this? Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

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A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

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Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sister Marsie. Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, she was terrified. Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her hip. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

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So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is: Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg in Wrinkle in Time is: Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted? Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

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Writing Tip – Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified. Here is a video about it. Sort of.