People Laugh At Me. All the time. Writing and Structure and MINI Coopers and Big Packages

Sometimes you have to be flexible.

All my adult life I had wanted a MINI Cooper and I totally got one in 2009, which was awesome and amazing. The MINI itself was cute and small and huggable. Yes, my car was huggable. I hugged it a lot. Do not judge.

However, one day at the post office right around this time of year, I realized that there are certain issues that come with buying a MINI Cooper. I got my mail out of my po box and found a yellow slip that said I had a package.

I thought, “YAY PACKAGE!”

Okay, I actually said, “Yay package!” 

And some guy near me murmured, “That’s what she said.” 

Then he laughed and laughed and laughed. 

Moving on.

I was hoping that it was some sort of present for me, because I am like that. I like presents. A lot. Kind of like the kids in CHRISTMAS STORY. I am like that. Out of all the famous fictional characters out there, I am ashamed to admit that I am the most like Ralphie.  

Anyway, I went to the counter and the post office lady who was super nice said, “Oh, Carrie. You have a huge package. Can you come to the side door?”

So I squeed and people laughed and I went to the side door. And there was a package that was as big as me. 

“What is it?” I asked, thinking it was maybe a leg lamp or something. 

“It’s from Amazon,” she said. “Do you think you can carry it?”

And then I said, “Um….”

And then I said it again, “Um…”

And then she said to another nice post office lady who was pretty strapping looking, “Why don’t you bring it to door 4?”


This was the point where I realized:

  •  That it wasn’t a present for me. Inside the package were presents for this family that I heard about on the radio who needed help this winter. So, it was a couple comforters (Transformers and Disney) and dolls and Wow Wee Cubs, and an electric razor.
  •  That it definitely wasn’t a leg lamp.
  •  That it wasn’t food from Harry and David, which nobody sends me anymore. Sadness.
  • That it wasn’t going to be easy fitting it into my MINI.

So, I hopped out of the post office, into my MINI, drove the MINI to the back cargo door. The lady at the door started laughing.

“Oh man…” She grabbed her stomach. “Oh man… How are you going to fit that? Oh man…”

And the thing is… I already had the gear of my daughter Em and her best friend Belle who were both on the swim team crammed in the backseat and I had groceries in the trunk.

“Don’t laugh,” I ordered Laughing Post office Lady. People in the parking lot had now joined her. 

“No,” I begged, “Seriously…”

“It’s so ridiculous. Oh my gosh, honey. Hahahahaha,” she said.

Everyone just kept laughing, which was nice because they were happy, but it wasn’t really helping me out. 

And then I said, “Hey? Does anyone have a knife?”

At this point everyone stopped laughing because you can’t talk about weapons in public, but some wild-eyed, knife-owning man gave me his knife. I did not turn it on the laughers, I swear. Instead, I slit open the box, took out all the contents and crammed them into my back seat, earning semi-respectful glances from the laughers.

Problem Solved. 

This is why if someone wants to send me a leg lamp, it would be much better to send it to my home address.

Tying it all together. 

So that story reminded me of us writers drafting our stories. We think we’ve got it all figured out, that we have all the scenes ready and the plot perfect and then we realize that it doesn’t all fit. That we have to rethink things, jam them around, squish them together in different ways and sometimes dismantle things. 

Dismantling things can be scary, but sometimes it’s the only way to get everything to fit, right? Don’t be afraid to dismantle, to build something stronger. 


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

This book looks really large. 

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?

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It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

WRITING BARN

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

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Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

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A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar. Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast.

Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly.

“Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it’s perfect,” is a pretty big industry standard. 

  • Be perfect.
  • Write perfectly.
  • Have perfect grammar. 
  • Have a perfect plot.
  • Spell everything perfectly.

Here’s the thing: Your story won’t ever be perfect especially if you’re working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever.

So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart. 

It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they’re trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings.

How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, “Good job with your paragraphs!” Or, “Well done with your spelling!”

Random Thoughts

Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, “I’m not exciting today.” 

And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels super vulnerable about the second one, because it shows her totally tipsy because of her social anxiety and Shaun mixing WAY TOO STRONG a drink. 

The point though, is that much like our podcast, our thoughts aren’t canned or perfect. We are real people, not polished, but pretty awesome anyways. 

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.

Writing Tips:

Don’t forget about the heart of your story, the resonance. Forget about the mechanics for a bit. What is this story actually about? What is its heart?

People like to call it a theme, but that sounds too much like grade school to us. The heart of the story is the big, essential inside part of the story’s hero. Her catalyst. Her life’s question and realization. To find it, ask what your character’s heart wants and needs. To find it, think about the lie about the world (or herself) that your character believes. That’s how you find the heart.

Dog Tips

Dogs don’t care about mechanics of things. They care about the heart of things. Be a dog.

Writing and Other News

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar.

Too often we really focus only on the mechanics of story. Writers and student-writers are told to make perfect sentences, understand the use of the semi-colon, and to spell words correctly.

“Do not turn in a manuscript to an agent or editor unless it’s perfect,” is a pretty big industry standard. 

  • Be perfect.
  • Write perfectly.
  • Have perfect grammar. 
  • Have a perfect plot.
  • Spell everything perfectly.

Here’s the thing: Your story won’t ever be perfect especially if you’re working on it all by yourself. Do the best that you can. Spell all the words. But do not fret about it forever.

So much of our writing life is spent making sure the mechanics of our stories are perfect, that we sometimes forget about the psychological aspects of our stories, the heart. 

It happens to us from the very beginning in grade school. Our teachers focus on the paragraphs, the spelling, the grammar because they’re trying to teach us to effectively communicate with the written word, but they sometimes forget to talk about our imagination, our cleverness, how our stories show our deeper selves and feelings.

How many of us worked super hard on a fourth-grade story that we thought was the most amazing story ever only to receive it with a note like, “Good job with your paragraphs!” Or, “Well done with your spelling!”

Random Thoughts

Our random thoughts this week both focus on imperfection. Shaun says in the first one, “I’m not exciting today.” 

And the second one? Ho boy. Carrie feels super vulnerable about the second one, because it shows her totally tipsy because of her social anxiety and Shaun mixing WAY TOO STRONG a drink. 

The point though, is that much like our podcast, our thoughts aren’t canned or perfect. We are real people, not polished, but pretty awesome anyways. 

Writing Tips:

Don’t forget about the heart of your story, the resonance. Forget about the mechanics for a bit. What is this story actually about? What is its heart?

People like to call it a theme, but that sounds too much like grade school to us. The heart of the story is the big, essential inside part of the story’s hero. Her catalyst. Her life’s question and realization. To find it, ask what your character’s heart wants and needs. To find it, think about the lie about the world (or herself) that your character believes. That’s how you find the heart.

Dog Tips

Dogs don’t care about mechanics of things. They care about the heart of things. Be a dog.

Writing and Other News

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

A Story Is About More than Mechanics and Grammar.

 
 
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1X
 

Being Evil is a Waste of Time

I was talking to my daughter Em recently about how she was at a Wal-Mart in Georgia and a woman dropped some stuff and how Em helped the woman pick up her things.

Em wasn’t looking for praise and good-person-pats-on-the-back, she was confused by how other people chose not to help that lady.

For Em, her instinct was to help and to be kind.

But it wasn’t that way for the other people who were there.

At the grocery store in Maine that same day, Shaun (my husband) was in line and a lady had pushed her cart right within an inch of his legs. He backed up an inch to get a better angle to get something out of our cart, hit her cart and immediately apologized. His instinct was to apologize for something that wasn’t his fault.

I have trained him well.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

But the woman acted like it was his fault that her cart was in his space. And then… his instinctive kindness fluttered right away.

When I looked at the lines in the store, I was amazed by how many people seemed so sad or angry, frustrated or anxious. Few people smiled. Most people actively frowned. A lot complained.  They were miserable and sure, some of them probably had reasons to be, but all of them?

So many of us are so lucky. We get to have electricity and phones and indoor plumbing. We have problems, too, obviously. People get sick. People have depression or anxiety. Our friends die. Our kids get in trouble. But we also have so much.

We focus so much on the evil though, just slip into that mindset of ‘everything sucks’ that we sometimes forget the good.

That world of evil and misery is not the world I want to live in and it’s not the world I want everyone else to live in either.

Finding Meaning

There’s a theory out there that a lot of us are unhappy, anxious, uneasy, depressed because we want to find meaning in life and finding meaning? That can be pretty damn hard.

We find religion and go to therapy and the gym in the hopes of finding salvation – emotional, spiritual, phsycial. We convert to different ways of thinking, believing, acting in the hopes that… that what? That we get meaning. That we feel better. That we live better.

Even the stories we write, we’re told by editors and agents and teachers, “Let’s see how that character changes and grows. Or how that character digresses. Bring that character to a new place of self awareness, to a new self.”

It’s all so tremendously linear. The growth of a person or book character is condensed to simple steps, actions forward.

But are people like that? Do we work like that?

That’s where some of the disconnect comes in. When we do evolve, we don’t always evolve in a straight line. When we look for meaning, it isn’t always found after a simple pattern of forward steps.

The people who intrigue me are the people who just live. They live kindly, help others, and are just… they are beautiful.  Their instinct is to be kind and they don’t even lose it after it’s met with anger or fear. They actually cultivate the kindness.

Kind Kids

There were some teens like this where I was on Saturday.

My local YWCA has a holiday bazaar where kids go around with volunteers to buy presents for their family. Volunteers act as store keepers at “stores” where items go for .25 to $5 (or so). Every kid has an escort that takes them around to these store tables loaded down with donated items. The escort is usually a volunteer from the local high school. More volunteers wrap the presents.

It’s pretty adorable.

IMG_8566

The best part is watching the high school kids interact with the younger kids. All these kids are obviously awesome because they are sacrificing their Saturday morning to volunteer, but there was this one kid who totally stood out to me and this wasn’t just because he was wearing a sleeveless Celtics t-shirt jersey when it was 9-degrees-Farenheit.

Nah, Mike impressed me because he broke my stereotypes about bros in sleeveless jerseys. He was on the younger side of high school volunteers, but he was so amazingly wise or patient.

“Would your gram like this?” he’d ask the boy he was assigned to, picking up a set of bird mugs.

The boy would stare at the mugs for about one minute, absolutely blankly. Then, he’d turn away. Mike didn’t even flinch. His tone and demeanor didn’t change.

They’d move on to another item.

Then another item.

Then another.

Mike never groaned. Mike never rolled his eyes. Mike was just… He was patient and awesome and kind, so kind.

IMG_8565

“I love him,” said one of the adult volunteers who’d walked through the frigid weather to the Y so that she could volunteer this morning.

“I would like to marry him,” another lady said, “you know if I was 70 years younger.”

Mike wasn’t the only one who was awesome. There were students volunteering who were wiping phlegm of their temporary wards off their hands, and doing it so discreetly so they wouldn’t hurt the kids’ feelings. There were students carrying more than their weight in presents as the followed their charges scrambling through a maze of volunteers and tables laden with gifts all donated by local people and merchants.

And right then, I realized that I wanted kindness to be my religion just like the Dalai Lama said. I wanted that to be the default choice in my life: the choice of kindness.

my-religion-is-very-simple-my-religion-is-kindness-35

For that kid, for Em, for Shaun – their initial choice is to be kindness. Humanity might crush that kindness away sometimes, but that’s their instinct, their true natures. Of course, they’re going to mess up. They’re human. I’m going to mess up. I’m human. But I’m going to actively choose kindness even as I fight against the things that I think are evil.

Kindness might not be a direct shot to meaning and decreased anxiety, but I really think that they are linked. The more times you can be kind, that you can give, that you can lift people up instead of smashing them down – helps.

There is meaning in goodness.

There is meaning in us.

IMG_8574
Gabby and her frog. She loves and protects him and sometimes even gives him the bed and sleeps on the floor. Why? Because she’s kind. 

 

Writing and Other News

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

Writing Tip Wednesday – Step Outlines and Structuring Your Story

The structure of a story is sort of a pain in the butt for a lot of writers.  In a story, the structure sort of goes like this:

 

  1. Something happens.
  2. Which causes something else to happen.
  3. Which makes something else happen.

And the evil part of being a writer is that you have to hack out all the things that aren’t part of those steps. You have to keep that something happens-makes something else happen-causes something else to happen movement in all the scenes in your story.

What are the scenes? They are the places where things happen.

Some writers use a magical tool called a Step Outline.

What’s a Step Outline?

It’s something I just made into a proper noun. A step outline (no longer a proper noun) is where you show the way your story develops by outlining the scenes.

So, for an example, the story I’m working on right now goes: 

  1. A girl and her friend sends in the girl’s DNA test to figure out who her father is.
  2. She freaks out about this and her friend comforts her by the ocean but she has a horrible feeling.
  3. At work that horrible feeling continues and she gets an ambulance call that a girl’s been hit by a car.
  4. She rushes to the scene and is the first one there. The area is crowded with tourists and the little girl dies. Something magical is emitted from our hero’s hands and the little girl comes back to life.
  5. The video of the rescue goes viral and two strangers come to her work, discussing her healing the girl and the lack of a man’s name on her birth certificate.

As I write that down, I realize it isn’t perfect. How does scene two truly bleed into scene three in the manuscript? Now, I know that I have to go back and make that connection a bit stronger. Step outlines are magic that way.  By breaking the scenes down, we see the connections but also the gaps, the places where we need to make it stronger.

You can also break down those steps and bigger scenes into smaller scenes. Every beat of action doesn’t deserve a step, but every little scene (a page or so) does.

Step outlines are a pretty basic tool, but they are pretty brilliant ways of understanding the cause and effect and pacing of our stories. Try it out and tell me what you think!

 

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

First Tip on How to Make Your Life and Writing Life Better – Dogs are Smarter than People Podcast.

Shaun: So, Carrie’s not the best in the mornings and too much noise, clutter, extra to-do items pretty much throws her completely off her game.

Carrie: One of the reasons that the dogs and I do daily motivating thoughts on my Facebook and Twitter accounts is because it helps ground me and make me feel less cranky and stressed…. Usually. Shaun, however, is a morning person who craves noise and tropical music while I’m a Pachibel’s Cannon morning person.

Shaun: True.

Carrie: So, this week’s podcast is the first in a series of podcasts about how to make your life and your writing life better and our first tip is….

DOG TIP OF THE CAST: Just say no to the stuff you don’t want to do. You don’t have to say yes to invitations or the extra responsibilities. You don’t have to respond to every single text and/or email. You get to be in charge of these ancillary parts of your life. If you don’t want to email/text/talk to someone, there might be a really good reason why. In this life, we have a limited amount of time to expend. Expend it well. Do it on your terms. Dogs get this.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD: Yep. Same point. Write the stories that you want to, that resonate with you. Say no to the stories you think other people want you to write.  When you get rid of the baggage, the things you don’t want or need to do, you free up your mind of clutter and give it space to create.

Listen to the full podcast to hear Shaun’s random thought all about marketing – KaPerPi. It’s knowledge, awareness, public relations and public image. It’s pretty cool.

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.

Writing and Other News

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

 

Don’t Make Your Setting A Stereotype; Writing Tip Wednesday

A lot of people love where they live or where they visit, but that doesn’t mean that they can write well about that place or include that town/city/cruiseship in an authentic way in the setting of their story.

I’ll use where I live as an example.

Tons of people claim that their piece of the earth is the most beautiful, and those of us who live here on Mount Desert Island are no exception, tiny mountains lift up the center of the island creating granite vistas in deep pine woods. The coast is full of dramatic cliffs where the sides plunge into the cold, gray Atlantic Ocean.

It’s so beautiful that a million people travel all the way up the coast of Maine to visit it this summer. If you google image Bar Harbor or Acadia National Park you’ll see photo after photo of distance shots of the town or photo after photo of Sand Beach and these two mountains called the Bubbles.

The same distant landscape shots appear over and over again. But when you live here, that’s not the town, that’s not the setting. It isn’t something felt or viewed at a distance. It’s up close. It’s details. It isn’t a static image but a movie full of depth and emotion and change.

And I can tell right away when someone writes about here but they’ve either:

  1. Never visited
  2. Never talked to anyone local
  3. Spent a mere day

They’ll have the locals pronounce the town, “Bah-hah-bah.” They’ll stick in a ‘telling detail’ about the tiny town square or the carriage roads of Acadia. They’ll use a last name like “Higgins.” They will present a one-dimensional portrait of a small town that’s always beautiful.

But MDI  isn’t always beautiful, no place is, not to everyone. When we’re writing about place and including setting in a story, it’s good to remember that no matter how beautiful a place is – that’s not all there is to it. Or that your one moment there, doesn’t mean you get the whole of it, understand the big picture and nuance of the place.

Just like a character needs to have multiple dimensions, so does the setting of the story.

Mount Desert Island is a place where people write stories of fantasy and of survival, where people come to hike and bike the carriage roads and then decide to stay, choosing to live with the lobsters and deer and wild turkeys.  The main industry here is tourism and then there are two scientific laboratories, a small college, a wee hospital, and boat building places. People still lobster. People still fight fires and get arrested and work at one of the tiny grocery stores. It’s a place where churches have game night, breweries have trivia night, and there seems to be one nonprofit agency for every five year-round residents.

Every winter a lot of the town vanishes. Shops and restaurants close. Snowbirds fly south. Restaurant workers go to Florida to make money before returning again in May.

It becomes an entirely different place than it was just six months earlier when it was brimming with tourists, crowding the sidewalks, bickering over where to eat, hauling bags of t-shirts around. A century ago, Bar Harbor was the town of the Rockefellers and Pulitzers, the elite white people of the United States. A century before that, it had Wabanaki camps along the bay.

Place, like people, has dimension. Place has a past beyond our present. To be the best writers and people that we can be, it’s good to remember that, to breathe in the nuance and the dimension.

*all photos by me.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

Art.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

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Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Apply Now!

 

Hug Those Cows – Cow Hugging, Wellness and the Weirdness of this World – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Everyone, We are so sorry it sounds like we’re on drugs. We aren’t. This just ended up being a super weird podcast. But – um – It’s authentically ‘us,’ Right?

 

So, we asked people for topics for our podcast. And people on Carrie’s Facebook were completely helpful.

Jon Hill wanted to know why there weren’t more palomino unicorns.

It’s an important question.

And some other people wanted us to talk about cow hugging. Matt Baya suggested we discuss this trend that started getting some big press in May 2018. Wellness is a 3.7 billion dollar industry that focuses on your spiritual, physical and mental health and wellbeing.

And now – cows can be a part of that.

Cows are warm and cozy and according to one farm in upstate New York, terribly relaxing. They make you feel good.

Listen to the full podcast to understand how Shaun feels about this – if you dare. Because we also talk about Okay Cupid, Friendsgiving, methane, and Rural Legends.

Dog Tip for Life: Dude. Do you. If you’re into paying people to cuddle with cows. Go for it.

 

Writing Tip of the Cast.Look. Do you research. Cow tipping allegedly is an urban legend. Don’t include urban legends as fact. Fake news. Fake facts? Calling them fake is the nice way of going about it. It’s lies. Writers are better than that.

Writing and Other News

I’ll be hanging out at Virginia Beach this weekend for an awesome book festival.

MY Art THAT YOU CAN BUY AND HELP ME FEED THE DOGS

I do art stuff. You can find it and boy a print here. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

 

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Writing Barn

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

 

“Least Threatening Woman in the World” Self perception and writing

I am the least threatening woman in the world.

When I sat down to write about something, that’s the sentence that flew off my fingertips:

I am the least threatening woman in the world. 

And then I thought about what it means.

I

That one is sort of obvious.

Least

the smallest extent

Threatening

There’s a lot of definitions for this one, but I think that the one my brain was going for is “causing someone to feel vulnerable or at risk”

In the world

Wicked hyperbole because I’m an author and we’re into hyperbole.

But seriously, I am the sort of woman that even the most insecure people don’t care if their spouse texts. This is essentially true in all things work and life related.

Or am I? My perception of myself is pretty unthreatening, but one of my friends recently told me I have no chill and I could totally throw-down. He meant it as a compliment. Another friend told me, “You are so super mellow and chill. What was he talking about?”

Different people perceive us in vastly different ways, but even how we perceive ourselves can be all over the place.

So, when I think, “I am the least threatening person in the world,” am I actually just falling into a writer stereotype of self-loathing? Am I really saying, “I’m ugly and boring and nobody is intimidated by me because I’m basically nothing?” Or is it something else?

And why do so many of us writers (and comics, and artists, and bankers, and humans) do this? When this negative self definition is obviously not a helpful tool.

Writers and Self Loathing

Back in 2015, the New York Times asked two writers on their thoughts about writers and self loathing. 

Thomas Mallon wrote, “The aggrieved writer’s immortal longings represent, finally, a loathing not of the self but of the human condition, a desire to thwart the tragic fact of death. Writing has always offered a particularly good means of doing that.”

I read that to a friend and he rolled his eyes. “You aren’t self-loathing. You’re self deprecating. There’s a big difference. You’re afraid to claim your success. I think it might be a woman thing or a New England thing or something.”

“Are you telling me that I’m afraid of being successful because I’m a woman? Or because I’m from New Hampshire?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Hm,” I said because honestly? That’s a pretty big assertion that takes a lot to unpack.

Or maybe the self deprecation is because of my New England-ness and me being a woman and told not to ‘toot my own horn’ because it’s “tacky.” But maybe it’s also a thinking thing. Writers think a lot. We think about humans and society and our place within it. We think about character growth and motivation and that means that we sometimes think a lot about our own selves.

Anna Holmes wrote in that same Times piece, “Although I don’t buy the idea that self-loathing is a requirement for writers — I know too many writers, particularly men, who hold themselves in perhaps higher esteem than they should — I do think that writing demands a certain amount of self-awareness, and that self-awareness and self-loathing can be two sides of the same coin.”

Being judgmental about who we are, knowing our own flaws and faults, it can be hard. It’s hard to face our lack of personal perfection – not just for writers, but for all of us. And while we often give our friends and family space for errors or ‘flaws’ or screw-ups and forgive and love them anyway? That’s not always so hard to do with ourselves. To be self aware means to know we are imperfect. But our imperfections aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.

Making Ourselves a Trope

And the thing is that when we write about writers? We are making ourselves a trope and often continuing that cycle of negativity. I remember a couple of years ago when I had a five-second meltdown about how I could never watch another movie or television show about a writer.

“It makes me depressed,” I sputtered. “They are all just — they are either super wealthy or alcoholics or creepy.”

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has thought this. In 2017, Ben Blatt published a survey of some literature called “Writers are Self-Loathing: 50 Writers on Writers, In Fiction.”

Okay. It’s fiction, not movies, but it’s all about our culture and how we define ourselves.

Blatt wrote, “Writers don’t have the best reputation and they have no one to blame but themselves. Instead of writing stories where writers are attractive, heroic, and strong, they describe the writers within their own works as eccentric, depressed, reclusive, broke, and egotistical.”

Blatt gives example after example of writers putting writers down, defining them in not a very positive light.

Here are some excerpts that I took from his Signature article.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

I’m going to beg the rest of you out there, don’t define yourself as miserable, as nothing, as non-threatening, as invisible. Don’t believe yourself to be the trope. And maybe think about why that trope is there? Negative self awareness and self loathing and self deprecation. It’s like an evil trinity that holds us back, keeps us down. We don’t need it.

Writing News

Time Stoppers!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

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?

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Make Sucky Friends (in life and books) – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

This week, we couldn’t think of what to talk about in our podcast and we went to Carrie’s Facebook page and had an ask for ideas.

Public Safety Dispatcher Marie Overlock and Firefighter Amelie Bacon, both suggested, ‘friendship,’ so it won out and we’ll save Matt Baya’s suggestion of cow hugging for a later date. Because… cow hugging!

Friendship and children’s books are a pretty natural combination. Carrie’s own books are big on friends even when they are full of romance.

Friends matter. And there are so many beautiful examples of friendships in children’s books, but let’s go with this Maine classic from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.

Wilbur blushed. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig.”

“You’re terrific as far as I’m concerned,” replied Charlotte, sweetly, “and that’s what counts. You’re my best friend, and I think you’re sensational. Now stop arguing and go get some sleep!”

In our life, Carrie is Wilbur and Shaun is Charlotte. Just so you know.

DOG TIPS FOR FRIENDSHIP AND LIFE

1. You do not have to be everyone’s friend. Choose wisely. Pick the people who don’t bring you down. That’s the base for the friendship that you get to build on.

2. Don’t pretend to be who you aren’t. Don’t be Captain Boasts a Lot. Don’t Be Mrs. One Up or even Madame Fixes Everyone Else’s Problem.

3. Listen to your friends.

4. Realize you and your friends don’t have to agree on every damn thing in the world to be friends.

5. Be honest. Don’t pretend to agree on everything in the world.

6. Don’t be talking about your friend behind their back. That’s not cool.

WRITING TIP OF THE CAST

 As writers, we have to make friendships seem real in our books, right? So to do that we have to know what makes a friendship real. 

WE think there are four basic elements to friendships.

  1. You have to be able to initiate things – conversations, communications, texts. And you also have to actually respond when your friends initiate these same things.
  2. You have to have Friendship Situational Awareness – what does that mean? It means you can understand the social scene, your friend’s attitude, needs, issues, and strengths and you can love them despite their occasional annoying mouth breathing moments. Be aware of what the appropriate responses are to your friend’s needs. Don’t tell them they are beautiful when they just want a hug. Don’t mow their lawn when they are looking for kimchi.
  3. Interact in a nice way. Seriously. If I’m reading a book and the friends are total schmucks to each other and don’t exhibit any caring or generosity? I don’t believe that friendship. I don’t believe it in real life either.
  4. Listen to your friends and focus on what they are saying. Don’t be staring at your phone or out the window when they’re talking to you.

Bonus Tip: Don’t put your friend’s head in your mouth and slobber on it.

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.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

I’m WRITING BARN FACULTY AND THERE’S A COURSE YOU CAN TAKE!

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

 

Apply Now!

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?

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

 

Don’t Make Sucky Friends (in life and books) – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

 
 

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