Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Florida Man and the semicolon is too sexy for its own good
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Okay, recently I’ve been working on a lot of people’s stories that are fantastic except for one thing—one easily fixable thing—they have semicolons everywhere.

The semicolon is that little bit of punctuation that looks like there’s a comma on the bottom and a period topping it. And judging from people’s use of it? It’s an addictive, sexy beast.

Most people think they understand the semicolon. It’s a period topping a comma, right? You use it to do something or um … yeah …?

Here’s the thing, a semicolon is a divider. It’s like a comma and a period that way, but it’s not. It creates a different length of the pause for the reader between the words that it divides.

Yes! There are different levels of pause.

Here check it out. We’ll do it with three sentences.

The first is a comma, but it will be a minimal pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things, but Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is that same sentiment but with a medium-weight pause.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things; Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Here is the same sentiment with the pause heavyweight fighter, the period.

Shaun wanted to talk about naughty things. Carrie was not going to let him do that today.

Your punctuation choice controls the pacing of your paragraph and sentence and if you put 18 of them in one paragraph? You’re going to slow down the pace of your story and also make readers get crinkly noses and hate you.

So how do you use semicolons?

There are three major ways to use this sexy beast.

One. To connect a certain kind of thing.

Semicolons connect two independent clauses. You know something is an independent clause if it can stand alone as it’s very own sentence.

It’s like using the conjunction and between two independent clauses to show they are really related.

Shaun is wearing big boy pants; he has been for forty-five years.

Two. To separate things in a list (sometimes).

If you’ve got a weird list with lots of internal punctuation, then you can start that list off with a semicolon. Here’s an example.

My wife had a list of things that she wanted me to accomplish that day and it included taking out the trash; going into the basement to look at the copper pipes which, by the way, are boring to look at and are not linking; and singing—I’m a horrible singer, by the way—a whole mess of show tunes and not the ones from Hamilton for some reason.

Three. Conjunctive adjective moments

These are tricky beasts, but mostly happen with these words when they join two independent clauses.

The words are:

  • moreover,
  • nevertheless,
  • however,
  • otherwise,
  • therefore,
  • then,
  • finally,
  • likewise, 
  • consequently. 

Here’s a quick example.

Shaun had been told that he should definitely not fart in the bed at night; however, Shaun decided that this household rule was absolutely unfair.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

So there you go. Don’t put semicolons everywhere because that’s a flag to agents, editors or readers. Use them when you need to because they can really help for clarity in lists, but remember too much of a good thing is a bad thing in writing.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Embrace the semicolon. You can change direction in your life, lean into the pause, but not into the end.

Check out Project Semicolon and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255).

RANDOM THOUGHTS

In our random thoughts section at the beginning of the podcast, we talk about the people in South Carolina filming their procreation acts everywhere and wonder why there is no Maine Man when there are so many Florida Men.


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. This week’s podcast is all about loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.


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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

If you like what you read, please heart it below or share it, it means the world to this writer. x0- Carrie

How To Become a Successful Writer The Key Writing Advice to Keep In Your Brain

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
How To Become a Successful Writer The Key Writing Advice to Keep In Your Brain
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If you are the kind of writer who wants clicks and readers, this is the podcast for you. Yes! A helpful podcast from us weirdos. I know, right?

Here’s the first one.

Get Rid of The Crap

Seriously. Get rid of the words, the repetition, the flowery language that exists JUST to be flowery but has nothing to do with your message, your character or your plot.

Don’t have people nod and say yes at the same time. One is enough.

Don’t have people think to themselves. We know they are thinking to themselves.

Unnecessary words are blah. Nobody wants to be blah. Nobody wants to read blah either except maybe that one fourth grade teacher and maybe your honors freshman English teacher, the one who yelled about James Joyce a lot.

Let Your Title Be a Promise and a Gift.

That’s right. Give your readers something. Your title is a promise and a gift.

Think to yourself: Why would anyone care about reading this?

For this podcast, the answer to that would be that people care because they want the tools to be a better writer. Figure out why you’re writing what you’re writing and give that to the reader.

This goes for books too. Even if your answer is just – I want to provide readers an escape. It works.

Actually Write Your Story

Don’t just talk about writing. Write.

Don’t stare at the blank page. Write.

You can always revise. Revision is good. But you can’t revise a blank document or a page full of nothing.

I once had a reporter who was THE BEST guy. He was my best friend. I loved him with all my heart, but he would have writer’s block all the way up to deadline. I’m a chill human. I hate being demanding, but I would have to go into his office every deadline and implore him to write.

“My lede isn’t perfect,” he’d say.

“Done matters. Perfect doesn’t matter.”

I would write ten stories to his one story, over and over again. And the thing was? People liked my stories better. That quest for perfection makes us crazy. But it also keeps us from getting things done.

Don’t Try To Be Someone Else

You should write like you. Not like Anne Lamont or the million other lovelies out there. Not like T-Nehisi Cotes who is brilliant.

You have a unique experience and voice. Use that in your stories. Be brave. Be absolutely who you are. Don’t be shy about it, shout your voice into the world.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Write. Be yourself. Don’t write extra words just to be extra or fill up your word count. And your title is a promise to your reader/listener. Don’t break the promise.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Focus on your wants. Don’t add fluff. Don’t be fluff.

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. This week’s podcast is all about loving places and feeling called to them when you have never been there before.


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.

And to hear our podcast latest episode for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE about cats on Tinder and other bad advice click here.

Our first episode of LOVING THE STRANGE is here. It’s about loving places for no logical reasons.

The visuals for our podcasts are all on Carrie’s YouTube channel. You can like and subscribe there, too!

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 256,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

Five Writing Quotes To Make You Feel Better About Things

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Five Writing Quotes To Make You Feel Better About Things
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Carrie is a bit burnt out this week so we decided to take a fast look at the advice and quotes that writers give to each other.

Quote #1

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

Mr. King has strong feelings about adverbs. He has strong feelings about a lot of things. Just because a successful man has strong feelings about things doesn’t mean he’s correct.

Quote #2

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”
—Allegra Goodman

This is just here because it has the word ‘fetish’ in it, but the truth of it is pretty obvious. Don’t write because you want to be John Steinbeck or God or Toni Morrison. Write because you want to be you.

Quote #3

“There are no laws for the novel. There never have been, nor can there ever be.”
—Doris Lessing

Many agents, editors, readers and critics would disagree with Doris.

Quote #4 A and B

“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.”

“I don’t know about lying for novelists. I look at some of the great novelists, and I think the reason they are great is that they’re telling the truth. The fact is they’re using made-up names, made-up people, made-up places, and made-up times, but they’re telling the truth about the human being—what we are capable of, what makes us lose, laugh, weep, fall down, and gnash our teeth and wring our hands and kill each other and love each other.” – Maya Angelou

These are my favorite quotes about writing ever. Writing is about being understood and communicating truths that go straight inside of the reader and helps them see their truths, too, truths and connections.

Quote 5

“Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”

― Lisa See

Like any craft, when you read other people’s stories, it helps you see how to construct your own.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Advice can be take it or leave it, but try to remember to be yourself.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You can learn a lot about your craft by seeing other dogs’ techniques. Don’t be afraid to be learned.

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.

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


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

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

Join the 252,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


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

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

Last week’s bonus podcast with Jessica Burkhart! 

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

Dark Tourism and When You Lack in the Sexy Department or Do You

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dark Tourism and When You Lack in the Sexy Department or Do You
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Karen Nimmo in “On the Couch” wrote that the The Most Unsexy, Under-rated Secret of Success is consistency. 

Yep. And she’s calling that unsexy. 

“I know, you’re rolling your eyes: I’ve seen my clients do it. “Consistency” as a concept lacks verve; even the word is boring. (And no-one rates consistency in a partner until they’ve been messed up by an inconsistent one!)”

“But the truth is consistency rules — in your job, your art, your relationships, your friendships, your health habits, your knowledge, your interests.”

“And the danger in a volatile world is that we’re destabilised, that we lose our good habits, that we lose faith in what we know is good and true.”

Karen Nimmo

So, she’s right. The whole reason I’m successful at writing is that I’m consistent as hell. I work every single day usually. I work on other people’s stories and my own. Our podcast has had over 250,000 downloads and that’s not because it’s any good. It’s because we do it every single week. We’re still married because Shaun unloads the dishwasher every morning. 

I know tons of brilliant minds, brilliant writers who haven’t published yet (and want to) because they haven’t been consistent and finished their stories and done the work to get there. There’s no one way to be a writer, but one thing that really helps is actually consistently writing.

So, Nimms who is a communication genius and a lovely writer has some helpful hints about how to be consistent. That we’re going to share with you. 

First she says: 

“Just Aim to ‘Get Good.’”

That’s pretty easy right? Don’t try to be Lance Armstrong, but if you want to be a bicyclist, ride your bike all the time. Don’t try to be Homer, but if you want to write an epic poem about the gods, write as much as you can. 

Her second bit of advice is a bit harder.

“Show Up Even When You Don’t Want To.”

That’s the whole ‘butt in chair’ adage that all writing teachers tell all writers. In order to write the story, you have to sit down and actually write the story. This helpful hint is a lot like the first helpful hint, isn’t it? Practice makes you better. You don’t get results if you don’t do the work. 

Her other hints are also lovely, but my favorite is this one: 

“Tuck your feelings on a high shelf.”

“‘Just being there is ninety-nine percent of what matters when your world falls apart.’― Holly Goldberg Sloan

 Holly Goldberg Sloan as quoted by Karen

“Our moods and feelings are valid, especially now, but we can’t afford to let them govern everything. Especially when we’re struggling with motivation. So don’t ask yourself how you’re feeling before taking action. Just schedule it and follow through.”

Karen Nimmo

She tells us not to quit even when everything sucks and there’s a pandemic and not to compare yourself to all those brilliant other people who have been consistent and are already successful. She says that you’re allowed to think, “Damn, I don’t want to be a writer anymore.” You can do something different, go after something else. 

The link to her full article is here


Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be consistent even if it isn’t sexy and even if it is. 

Dog Tip for Life: 

Sparty the Dog says that you might feel unsexy when you are reliable, but it gets you treats. Be reliable. Do the work. Sit on command. 


SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


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

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

Join the 250,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


LAST WEEK’S EPISODE about slug bait, sages and archetypes. 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Jessica Burkhart! 

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

COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME- THE PLACES WE HIDE

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.


NEW SESSION OF WRITE! SUBMIT! SUPPORT! 

Write. Submit. Support. for Novelists with Carrie Jones ONLINE

These six-month courses offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions. We offer support whether you’re submitting to agents or, if agented, you’re weathering submissions to editors. We discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, the feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more.

Find out if WSS is right for you at this FREE WEBINAR on Thursday July 23rd, from 7-8:30pm CDT.Founder Bethany Hegedus will share an inspiring talk on the literary life and will be joined by WSS instructors/TA’s, plus past and present WSS writers who will answer all your burning questions!

This is a great opportunity to meet this session’s faculty, talk with previous students about their growth throughout the program and participate in some inspirational activities led by Bethany Hegedus. *If you cannot attend live, no need to worry! All registrants will receive a video playback of the event!
Register Now for the Free Info Session!

Torturing Barbie: Archetype, Stereotype, or Cliché?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Torturing Barbie: Archetype, Stereotype, or Cliché?
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In the past month, we’ve been talking a lot about archetypes and someone asked us what the difference is between an archetype and a stereotype. 

So here you go, listeners! 

First up, archetypes!

According to masterclass.com when it comes to writing an archetype is, 

“An emotion, character type, or event that is notably recurrent across the human experience. In the arts, an archetype creates an immediate sense of familiarity, allowing an audience member to relate to an event or character without having to necessarily ponder why they relate. Thanks to our instincts and life experiences, we’re able to recognize archetypes without any need for explanation.”

Masterclass

So, what’s a stereotype?

It can be positive. It can be negative. But it’s freaking simplistic. 

And even positive stereotypes can be negative like if you say, “Women are good mothers,” it can be harmful because all women don’t want to be mothers and women aren’t unhappy if they aren’t mothers and some women’s biology doesn’t work for mothering and that doesn’t mean they are unhappy either.  If you go one step further, it equates a woman’s value and role to that biological use. It also makes the assumption that all women are more nurturing and have those motherly positive attributes which means that men don’t. 

And what’s a cliché? 

It’s something you see so many times in tv, stories, life, that it becomes ultra banal, ultra boring and ultra predictable. 

The mad scientist.

The nerdy, but secretly sexy librarian.

The rich old cranky lady.

The egotistical warrior.

How do you stay away from clichés or stereotypes? You can parody them. You can deconstruct them. You can think about how to subvert them into something unexpected. Can the old rich lady actually be kind and not wear high heels and have a small dog? Can the egotistical warrior not be egotistical and self-effacing and neurotic? Can the nerdy librarian not be secretly sexy but actually overtly sexy in a glam way? 


Writing Type of the Pod

Think about your main character and the other major ones in your story. Are they normal? Typical? How can you tweak that and surprise the reader? 

Dog Type for Life

How are you a cliché? Are you fulfilling society’s expectations? How can you step out of your role and people’s expectations? 


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

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

Join the 245,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Last week’s episode link! It’s about dirty feet and archetypes. Sexy! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with writer Holly Schindler!

This week’s link to our podcast about fatal errors, scenes, and ghost reaper sauce

This week’s link to Ronni’s interview.


SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


COME WRITE WITH ME! 

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


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME- THE PLACES WE HIDE

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.


New Session of Write! Submit! Support!

Write. Submit. Support. for Novelists with Carrie Jones ONLINE

These six-month courses offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions. We offer support whether you’re submitting to agents or, if agented, you’re weathering submissions to editors. We discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, the feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more.

Find out if WSS is right for you at this FREE WEBINAR on Thursday July 23rd, from 7-8:30pm CDT.Founder Bethany Hegedus will share an inspiring talk on the literary life and will be joined by WSS instructors/TA’s, plus past and present WSS writers who will answer all your burning questions!

This is a great opportunity to meet this session’s faculty, talk with previous students about their growth throughout the program and participate in some inspirational activities led by Bethany Hegedus. *If you cannot attend live, no need to worry! All registrants will receive a video playback of the event!
Register Now for the Free Info Session!

Are You a Misfit? What’s Your Archetype, Baby?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Are You a Misfit? What's Your Archetype, Baby?
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The Misfits and the Mavericks

A lot of writers use archetypes in their stories. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re doing it, actually.

There’s something really compelling about the heroes that don’t quite fit in especially the mavericks. The Huck Finns and Han Solos of the world and/or universe. 

For whatever reason, the mavericks have turned away from civilization. Maybe it’s to find out what happened to their missing mom. Maybe it’s because their own elite family oppressed them and their quirks. Maybe it’s because they are doing a Thoreau and they wanted to see what it was like to be Spartan and nonconformist in a society that stresses conformity above all else.

Literary critic, Northrop Frye wrote about mavericks as heroes in novels in the U.S. and said,

“Placed outside the structure of civilization and therefore represents the force of physical nature, amoral or ruthless, yet with a sense of power, and often leadership, that society has impoverished itself by rejecting.” 

Northrop Frye

To conform or to not conform has often been the question. Apologies to Shakespeare. And it’s been a question both in American society and in its books, right? 

How the main character fits into mainstream society is often the subject of some really good and compelling books like Gone With the Wind or To Kill a Mockingbird. They reject conforming. They strike out on their own. 

The maverick is a character archtype. 

Here’s the definition of an archetype from studiobinder.com

“An archetype is a consistent and typical version of a particular thing. It can be human, an object, or a particular set of behaviors, but the point is that it fits into a time-tested mold that embodies a pure form.”

studiobinder.com

Anyways, though that site is about scriptwriting, I think it has a lot of great information about writing characters.

It asks: 

“Why do character archetypes exist?

“Human beings tend to find their place within a group dynamic based around their strongest personality traits.

“You may have a group of friends with similar interests…

“But often one will be the “social butterfly” while another will be the “homebody.”

“Your friends will begin to identify each other by these consistent traits.  

“You’ve now defined yourself by a character archetype.”

studiobinder.com again.

The maverick archetype is obviously one of many, but what of their key motivations is the act of self-preservation. They break the rules to get their goals. Brave. Competent. Sometimes a bit snippy. Their temper is a bit fiery. 

That pull between convention and autonomy has the possibility of making a story truly stick out as something extraordinarily special. Don’t be afraid to lean into it. 

I (Carrie) am not a fan of Gone With The Wind because I couldn’t stand Scarlett and the racial tones that happen throughout, but the characters are iconic and are a good reference point for us writers when we think about maverick characters. 

Are you a maverick? Do you write them?  What’s your archetype? We’ll be looking at different ones the next few months. It’s fun.


Writing Tip of the Pod: 

Don’t make all your characters mavericks, but don’t avoid them either. Have you mixed up the archetypes in your story? 

Dog Tip For Life: 

It’s okay to cultivate your own inner maverick. 

Dog Tweets of Love
Dog Tweets of Love: Gabby and Sparty. Sparty is food focused. We’re sure you can’t tell.

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

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

Join the 230,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.

This week’s episode link if you can’t see it above.


SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Dog Inspiration

Every weekday, our dogs have inspirational or motivating tweets on Carrie’s Twitter. Go check it out and be her Twitter friend.


COME WRITE WITH Carrie! 

I coach, have a class, and edit things for you. It’s super fun. I promise.

Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Finding Strength in Words: How to Write Strong Sentences
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As we do this podcast, the United States is full of protests and pain, Covid-19 is still happening, people are being hurt, people are dying. So, it’s a lot to take in and a lot to process and worry about so for this podcast we’re going to focus on a simple writing tip. 

Ready?

Story is made up of sentences. You want your sentences to be strong. Strong sentences stem from their beginnings. When the beginning sucks, the whole foundation can suck. 

It sounds like a metaphor for a government, doesn’t it? 

Anyways, in English, you want the strongest words on the left-hand side of the sentence. 

Strength comes from the beginning of the sentences and the rest of the words branch out from there. So what are the strongest words you want to put on the left side? 

Nouns and verbs. They are our friends, our battle weapons. Nouns and verbs ignite the fires of imagination. 

Here’s an example of a sentence that’s pretty long, but strong because it begins with solid words: 

Reporters collapsed after cops in riot gear shot rubber pellets directly at their cameraman and on-scene correspondent last night in Louisville, making them understand a little bit more the systemic violence and dehumanization that can happen when power is in the hands of few elements of society. White people weren’t used to that especially not reporters used to watching as others lose their rights, are crushed beneath knees and vehicle wheels and arrested without cause. 

Random nonpolitical sentence.

Sentences don’t always have to branch. Sentences pack powerful punches even when shortened if they begin with a subject-verb one-two punch.

When we put a lot of distance between the subject and verb, we can confuse the reader. 

When we hide the subject underneath layers of clauses? We show the reader how unimportant the subject is to us. The subject of the sentence is important and should matter. 

I feel like that’s a not too heavily cloaked way of saying people matter. Rage happens when injustices never stop. Rage happens when the punishments don’t fit the crime and when nobody hears your voice. 

We hope your voice is heard. We hope you get to be the subject of a lot of sentences and not buried under purple prose and wordage. Make your sentences strong, but make other people’s sentences strong too.   

Writing Tip of the Pod

Look at your writing. Where are your verbs? Where are your nouns/subjects? Are they in powerful places together? Put them there, damn it. 

Dog Tip for Life

Remember the structures that make your life, your community, your family. Are your subjects next to the verbs? How can you make them stronger?


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

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

Join the 230,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

Last week’s episode.


SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story
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A lot of writing coaches talk about story structure and plots and inciting incidents, which is all well and good but Carrie is burnt-out this week. 


Carrie: I have worked too hard and my brain is broken. 

So, instead we are going to tell you what NOT to do. We are going to be the story police and harsh out the rules. 

Carrie: I don’t like rules or broken brains, but let’s do this. 

What Not To Do According To Conventional Wisdom Right Now

Do not start with dialogue.

This used to be super popular, but MySpace also used to be super popular. Things go out of style and it is not super popular anymore. 

Here’s an example: 

             “I like elephants.”

                        “Awesome. Me too.”

                        “No way?”

                        “Actually, I am lying.” 

EXAMPLE OF AWESOME

You’ve no clue who is talking, where they are or why they do or don’t like elephants and you probably don’t care. We want readers to care from the very beginning of the story.

An alarm clock buzzing. 

Who even has an alarm clock anymore, actually? But no alarm clocks or cell phone alarms or whatever. Waking up is dull. 

            My alarm buzzed and I groaned. 

                        “Another day, another dollar,” I said to my cat, Muffin. 

                        Muffin hit me in the nose with her paw. She’s tired of my clichés. 

Another Example of Awesome

The whole IT WAS ALL A DREAM start.

Unless this is a paranormal or fantasy where the dream is a key part of the power or the threat? Then it’s okay even if people say ‘never ever.’

Cough. You don’t want to be super invested in a story and then find out that it was all crap and not real even to the character. 

Amazing thing happens. More amazing things happen. More amazing things happen for five pages. Oops. It’s all a dream. 

Example of dreamy

Being dorky without meaning to. 

This is when you accidentally make a super silly mistake or state something obvious in the very beginning of your story. Gasp! I know! You would never do that, right?

Spoiler alert: We all do this.

She knew she had to wear a mask in a pubic place.

Try to avoid the typos.

“I love to love you,” I think to myself.

This is an example. We all think to ourselves. Cut the ‘to myself.’

All narrative all the time. 

There is no dialogue anywhere in the first ten pages of this story and instead everything is just a solid block of text in which I, the author, tells you exciting things – well at least they are exciting to me – about the story, but honestly it’s just a lot of navel gazing. Did you know that people get lint in their navels? Did you know that a lot of that lint is actually random fibers from your clothes, if you wear clothes, and dead skin, and then it gets stuck there and mixes all up together. I wonder if you care. I wonder if you care that I care. And so on.

Agh. Did you even read this example? It ruined our SEO readability score.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t start off on the wrong writer foot. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s okay to start over.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


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

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

Join the 222,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

This week’s episode.

Continue reading “Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story”

We dogs smell poop the way sommeliers smell wine. It’s about nuance.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
We dogs smell poop the way sommeliers smell wine. It's about nuance.
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RANDOM THINGS YOU LEARN ABOUT EACH OTHER DURING LOCKDOWN

So, in this house we’ve learned a few random things that we didn’t know before we had to isolate ourselves because of the Covid-19 pandemic and these things include some things that were mentioned on Buzzfeed and some that weren’t including: 

  • Treasure Hunting For Gray Hair In Other People’s Hair Is Fun.
  • People Hook Up on the Scrabble app and Words With Friends. 
  • Sometimes Your Relatives Don’t Close Cabinets.
  • How Much Noise Your Fellow Family Members Including Dogs Make. 
  • Your Husband Is More Southern Than You Thought.

So, while we were checking that out we also saw that Buzzfeed had this other article called, “17 Delicious Cookout Recipes That Will Impress Your Southern Friends” and the first thing we thought was, “Do I have southern friends?” And then we remembered we have an entire Southern family and then we were ashamed. 

But the article was not all that Southern and it confused us.

Did the writer think Northern people don’t have BBQ pulled pork, buttermilk fried chicken, BBQ baby back ribs, corn on the cob, fried fish, burgers, baked mac and cheese normally? And why would Southern people be more impressed by that than Northerners? 

Like where did this regionally specific food divide even come from? The only southern thing that was on there that Carrie (from the North) didn’t grow up with were collard greens. She even had peach ice tea. Albeit, it was the Snapple kind.

They had baked beans on there. Dudes, they are called Boston Baked Beans for a reason. They had potato salad on there! It made no sense!  

And someone in the comments actually wrote: “This post should probably be changed to the perfect SOUTHERN cookout. Most of these things aren’t gonna fly at a cookout in Maine!”

And Carrie lost her chill.

All you all, don’t talk about Maine if you’ve never been here. Similarly, give shout-outs to the origins and history of the foods that you’re blogging about because erasure isn’t a cool thing and that goes for socio-economic erasure and ethnic erasure. The foods of different cultures sustain us, build us, bind us, and also reflect our histories–the good and horrible parts. 

What does this have to do with writing?

When you write about regions, think about it from more than your perspective. When you want to add some authenticity into your stories, think about the strange things you learn about your own house and family during lockdowns. Those details and nuance? That’s what makes a story authentic, not a bullshit blog post about how to impress your Southern friends at a cookout or a food post about Kimchi that never mentions it’s a Korean food. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Be smart. Be detailed. Be full of empathy, but don’t be so full of yourself that you forget the backs and lives and hearts of the people who came before you. That goes not just for writers, but for regular humans, too. 

Dog Tip for Life

Dogs are all about origins and details. According to Sparrty, our dog, “We dogs smell poop the way sommeliers smell wine.” 

It’s all about the nuance. Be about the nuance not the generalization. That’s true about writing and thinking. Smell the bouquet, appreciate the differences. 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Come Write With Me!

I coach, have a class, and edit things.


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

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

Join the 222,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


Link to Jose’s bonus interview. Jokes, Stuffies, And Using Your Weirdness for Good, An Interview with Jose De La Roca

Link to Caitlyn’s bonus episode. Books, Law School during Covid-19 and just being Kick Butt – Using Law to Create Lasting Change – Interview with Caitlyn Vanover

Link to this week’s episode of awesome.

Last week’s episode. Money Is Not the Enemy and the Habits of the Rich

NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

And if you click through to this link, you can read the first chapter! 

And click here to learn about the book’s inspiration and what I learned about myself when I was writing it.


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!

 

 

Emotional Immaturity is Us Farts are Everywhere

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Emotional Immaturity is Us Farts are Everywhere
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So, um, as you can tell, during the self-isolation, stay-at-home orders of our pandemic, we have descended into the land of the immature. 

Carrie had high hopes of using this time to build up our intellectual skills and read the NYT and Rousseau and Descartes by the light of the pellet stove. But instead we watched Tiger King and What We Do in the Shadows obsessively. 

Which brings us to the topic of our episode.

Farts? 

No. Not farts again. But a Medium article by Niklas Goke entitled

“15 Signs You’re Emotionally Mature- How you know you handle life like an adult”

(The link is in the podcast notes.)

So, Niklas has a bunch of assertions about how we know if we are emotionally mature, which seems a pretty big construct in itself, right? Like how do we as a society define maturity if we as a society can’t even define what is truth? But whatever, we’re just going to go with it because it’s not farts. 

Niklas says that you have to train yourself to be emotionally mature and build the characteristics. He’s got fifteen characteristics because he’s apparently an overachieving guy. But he actually took his questions from The School of Life’s 25 suggestions about emotional maturity. So, it’s all derivative, baby. 

We’re joining in. And we’re condensing them into five.

It’s Not All About You All the Damn Time 

If someone tells you to stop farting in their face, maybe stop farting in their face? It’s good to remember the world isn’t just about you and the immediate release of your gastric discomfort. That’s mature. 

Not All People are Psychics

You might want to think about what your actions and facial expressions are telling the people who are stuck in the room with you. Nikos says we don’t all have a lovely Sims icon over our heads telling people our feelings. When people don’t realize you’re hungry or sad? That’s not always on them. It’s sometimes because you aren’t giving them the clues. Express how you feel so everyone doesn’t have to guess all the damn time. That’s mature. 

You Are Cool In Your Lack of Coolness

You aren’t perfect. You can be annoying. The people who matter will love you anyway. We have so many bad scripts and biases running in our heads. Don’t waste a lot of time or energy trying to pretend to be perfect.  It’s best to admit when you muck up or that you have weaknesses and be open about your boo-boos. It means your strong. That’s mature and also sexy. 

Try To Be Chill About the Dorks

Realize a lot of time when other people suck, it’s because they are lonely or upset or feeling super vulnerable. Try to respond with kindness unless they are really hurting you or a threat. Then respond with a restraining order. You have to protect you, too. That’s mature. 

It’s Cool To Celebrate Things  

It’s okay to realize that there’s no reason to be angry, to compromise, to love others even though they are flawed and appreciate those flaws, those compromises, your own ‘failures.’ Celebrate being alive every day and having enough money to get coffee, to be able to hug your friends, to go through life without a mask on. Those things we take for granted? They are big things even though they might seem small. Appreciation? That’s mature. And also sexy. 

Writing tip of the Pod:

It’s okay to have a mature character once in awhile.

Dog Tip for Life:

It’s okay to be the mature character once in awhile. It’s also okay to fart. 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

RECENT EPISODES OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

Link to Sam’s interview.

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 

NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

Continue reading “Emotional Immaturity is Us Farts are Everywhere”