The Poop And The Magician, Archetypes and You

The Poop And The Magician, Archetypes and You

 
 
00:00 / 00:16:11
 
1X
 

Over the past couple of months, we’ve been talking a lot about archetypes and how you can use them in writing and life, but we’ve failed to discuss where all this talk stems from. 

It’s all from Carl Jung who is an old, dead, psychology pioneer who didn’t agree with another old dead guy, Sigmund Freud. 

Jung was about the ‘collective unconsciousness.’ And he thought that in humanity’s collective unconsciousness there were basically twelve archetypes of character. We define this in our last podcast and this week, we’re finishing up with those twelve archetypes as they relate to finding poop in your driveway because we’re weird like that. 

THE REMAINING ARCHETYPES!

7. The Magician

It’s all about growing and evolving but the crankier magicians are not revolutionaries who lift up others. Instead, they are cranky buttfaces who turn positives into negatives and their attitude is contagious. A magician will see poop in the driveway and potentially think of a way to make it an energy source that will reduce carbon emissions. Or they might just tweet, “Poop in driveway. Angst. Everything completely sucks. What is the point? 

8. The Hero

Ah. Power. The hero likes it. The hero is vital and all about battling for honor or power. They do not like to lose. They do not give up. They find that poop and loft it at the doghouse of the enemy. They tweet a photo of poop smeared, “I protect my own. Consider yourself warned.” 

They then make a neighborhood watch for pooping dogs, create some HOA rules, call the police, and try to control the situation with some outdoor spy cameras. Remember. They do not lose. They like to control situations. They can sometimes be a little too controlling and ambitious. 

9. The Rebel

There is poop in the rebel’s driveway. They probably put it there. They don’t care if people have opinions about this poop. They should all mind their own business and stop pressuring the rebel. 

The rebel does not use social media because social media is all about other people’s opinions and the rebel could care less. Poop is definitely in their driveway and the rebel does not care. 

10. The Lover

Poop? Poop is in the lover’s driveway? But the lover is all about love and loving others and feeling loved and this? This poop is not pleasing. It is not about love. It is a blob of yuck. 

The lover cries and tweets and asks for uplifting sayings and photos. People send memes and photos of their kittens. One comes and takes care of the poop for them. The lover feels #blessed. 

11. The Jester

POOP! OMG! Poop is in the driveway! Hahahahaha! The jester gets the joke. And the joke isn’t just poop. It’s life. Crap happens. You might as well make it funny. 

The jester tweets something terribly lewd about the poop. They get Twitter banned for a day. The next day they do it again and start a 120-day spree of poop tweets. It goes viral. They get a podcast. 

12. The Orphan

Our last one is so sad. It is the orphan. The orphan is already a sad little human who feels like they are basically a walking wound. And here? Here is someone putting poop on their wound. Well, really on their driveway, but it’s kind of the same thing, isn’t it? It’s all about disappointment and betrayal and hurt and pain.

The orphan quickly manipulates all of Twitter into a GoFundMe to help them survive the trauma of the dog poop. They ask someone else to set up and be in charge of this Twitter so they can maintain their innocent brand. 

Since this is the 564th GoFundMe they’ve been a part of in the last four months, they only raise four dollars. The innocent is disappointed that nobody is helping or taking charge of their life. They go out and poop on their driveway themselves again. Maybe this time it will work? The orphan hopes so. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Be original in your writing. Hook into those archetypes, but don’t have your characters just be an archetype.

Dog Tip For Life

Don’t stop moving. Live your life now while you have one.

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.

Continue reading “The Poop And The Magician, Archetypes and You”
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GROWING UP WITH GRIT A BONUS PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHANTAL WATTS

GROWING UP WITH GRIT A BONUS PODCAST INTERVIEW WITH CHANTAL WATTS

 
 
00:00 / 00:21:39
 
1X
 

Award-winning news producer, blogger, podcaster, human, Chantal Watts is a bit of a force and she joins us on the podcast today and talks about her growing up, which reminds me so much of Jared Leto, and also how to be gritty and strong.

She’s amazing and I hope you’ll check it out.

Chantal’s Links of Awesome.

Chantal’s Instagram

Full Frontal Nerdity!


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 251,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


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

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


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.

The Dog Peed on My Bridesmaid Dress

Sometimes things happen that you can’t control. We call this chaos, usually. But chaos is a part of our lives and our societies and sometimes? It comes in the form of a small dog.

The set-uP

  • I was in seventh grade.
  • My stepfather had just died. It was my brother’s wedding. 
  • I was totally in love with Tim, my much older (22) step-cousin. He had nice hair. It was silver. Plus, he always tried to make sure I didn’t fall off boats. You’ve got to respect that.

The dress

  • Was two sizes too big. That’s because I lost a lot of weight because my dad died. 
  • Was this Pepto-Bismol pink
  • Required a hoop skirt.
  • Had fake flowers for shoulder straps.
  • Was tiered like a wedding cake.

What happened


Right before the wedding, at the house of the parents of the bride, I put on my horrible gown.

This mauve gown sagged everywhere including where my breasts were (still are, actually. My breasts have not. I repeat: HAVE NOT moved) and the head maid of honor lady was trying to duct tape the sides in because you could see right down it.

The attempt to keep my dress from gaping didn’t really work and the tape was scratching. I was super paranoid that everyone was going to be looking down my dress and my mental state? It was like super anxiety blow-out.

Then when we were heading out to the car, I picked up the bride’s family’s dog, Midge. It turns out you are not supposed to pick up Midge. Why?

Midge pees when you pick her up. Apparently, Midge also had anxiety.

I did not know this.

Midge peed all over my dress. Yes, this happened while I was wearing it. There was this dark stain, going down the mauve. It hit the duct tape. It hit everything.

Hell Breaks Loose

Cue: Mother of the bride swearing.


Cue: Maid of Honor yelling, “CARRIE!!! YOU PICKED UP MIDGE! JESUS! JESUS! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?”

They rushed me inside, dabbed at me with a face cloth, and then dried me with a hair dryer. 

Me: I smell like pee.
Bride: YOU. SMELL. FINE.
Father of the Bride: She smells like piss. 

Cue: Maid of Honor spraying lilac perfume all over me. I associate lilacs with pee now.

So, I went to the wedding smelling like lilac and pee. My super cute cousin asked me to a pity dance. I was in Heaven. He leaned in. I was in super Heaven. I was ready to die of bliss. 

Super Cute Cousin: Does it smell like urine?

Me:

Super Cute Cousin:

Me: Lilacs. I smell lilacs.

So smooth.


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 251,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


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

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.

You Are More Than The Things That Have Happened To You

So, a long time ago, I was driving the very unhappy cat Lyra to the kitty spa so that she could not be one massive, walking clump of kitty fur, I was listening to the radio and Bob and Sheri, these syndicated talk-show people.

They were talking about what your purpose is in life.

This made Lyra howl even louder, because a ‘life purpose’ talk is pretty heavy stuff for a cat at 7:55 a.m. especially when you’re in a kitty carrier.

Lyra’s Ghost: That is not while I was howling. I was howling because I was in a small, dark place; the radio was on much too loud and existential questions are dull. Your purpose in life was to feed me, that was all.

And Sheri said that her purpose in life is to make people realize that they are more than the things that have happened to them.

You Are More Than The Things That Have Happened To You.

This was way too big a wow moment for me at 7:55 a.m.

This was a big wow moment for two reasons:

1. My old book GIRL, HERO is all about this. It’s all about Liliana defining herself and taking control of who she is instead of having the horrible things that have happened to her define her. Yeah, she figures this out while writing letters to John Wayne, a dead movie star with some major issues of his own, but whatever.

2. I think that making people realize that they are more than the events in their life is really the purpose of all writing even when we (the writers) don’t realize it. 

I mean, isn’t it?

On that ancient tv show Lost, the people stranded on the island realize that they are more than survivors of a plane crash. One by one, they face demons, encounter fate and destiny, make choices that determine who their character is.

Lost Cast: Our purpose is to look sexy while running from smoke monsters and falling out of helicopters and being shot and being locked in cages meant for panda bears and standing fully dressed in water. Isn’t yours? 

Or even on, um…. The Princess Diaries. Do you all remember The Princess Diaries?

Isn’t Mia more than someone who drives a convertible in the rain and gets really wet, and totally messes up the car’s interior and everything? Isn’t she more than someone who stinks at math? Isn’t she more than someone who learns how to shoot an arrow while a really cute boy watches?

Anyway…. Yes. She is. She is more than just the events that happen to her. She is more than the bad things. She is more than the good things. 

I think we all are. Aren’t we?

I hope so, because I’d like to think that I’m not defined just by that one time my skirt fell down when I was getting out of a taxi in New York. Or that time the man in the grocery store parking lot gave me the finger. Or that time…. You get the picture, right?

And when we write stories, we want our characters to be so full and rich that they sing off the page, so we can feel them.

Lyra’s Ghost: Carrie, sometimes I am so embarrassed that you are my human. But I still love you and haunt you from the kitty grave.

Yes, she really does. Haunt me. I’m not sure about the love part. 🙂


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 podcast about sexiness and consistency! 

Last week’s bonus podcast with Lindsay Schultz, the queen of misfit toys and parenthetical hipster.

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.

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

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

 
 
00:00 / 00:24:50
 
1X
 

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!

So, Your Prose Is A Little Purple?

Every once in awhile a reviewer, a reader, an agent, a random great aunt will tell you that your beautiful and amazing story is purple prose.

Most of the time they are wrong.

A lot of the time, your prose is just lyrical and some people don’t know what to do with that.

What Even Is Purple Prose?

First off, lyrical prose is NOT the same as purple prose, which is defined by Wikipedia (I know! I know! Not a good source) as “text that is so extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw excessive attention to itself.

The key there is ‘excessive.’

And excessive? That’s a subjective word. But a good way to think about it is that lyrical writing is done with a light hand, not a heavy one. It mixes regular sentences and dialogue with moments that sing off the page. 

Not every line should be a metaphor. Not every line should be a description. 

How Do You Deal When It’s TOO Lyrical?

A good way to deal with that is to have that lyrical moment and then follow it up with two moments that are not so lyrical. 

In Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi she does this well. 

“His eyes reminded her of old apothecary bottles, deep brown, when the sunlight hit them and turned them almost amber. Dimple loved vintage things. She followed a bunch of vintage photography accounts on Instagram, and old apothecary bottles were a favorite subject.”

Sandhya Menon

So she has the balance between lyrical moments of transcendent words and time with the more concise, forward-moving sentence. 

You want your descriptions that are lyrical to keep us in the story and to also transcend the story. You want them to be vivid but also somewhat concise. To avoid overuse you want to make sure that the description is accomplishing something such as giving us insight in our character or making the atmosphere/tone seem amazing. 

The problem is that sometimes elevated craft brings out naysayers, especially anti-intellectual naysayers and they call it purple prose. 

LET’S LOOK AT REAL PURPLE PROSE

A Reedsy blog has an example of purple prose as this: 

The mahogany-haired adolescent girl glanced fleetingly at her rugged paramour, a crystalline sparkle in her eyes as she gazed happily upon his countenance. It was filled with an expression as enigmatic as shadows in the night. She pondered thoughtfully whether it would behoove her to request that she continue to follow him on his noble mission…

Reedsy example of purple-ness

According to Reedsy (and a million other places), you want to stay away from purple prose because: 

  • 1. The writing draws attention to itself and away from the narrative or thesis.
  • 2. It’s too convoluted to read smoothly and can disrupt the pacing of your story.

The Reedsy blog goes on to say: 

“So why, despite its many drawbacks, do some writers continue to use such unnecessarily ornate language? The answer, ironically, is simple: to try and appear more “literary.”

“Think of purple prose as a cardboard cutout of a celebrity. From a distance it looks convincing, even impressive — but as you draw closer, you realize there’s nothing behind it. Purple prose is like that: beautiful from afar, with very little substance to it.”

Reedsy again.

And more importantly, that same damn Reedsy blog says this about what purple prose isn’t: 

“To clarify, the term “purple prose” doesn’t just automatically apply to any kind of dense or elaborate language. This is a common misconception, perpetuated by diehard fans of minimalism and Ernest Hemingway. Purple prose specifically refers to overblown description that fails to add to the text, or may even detract from it.”

“Purple prose” is often used as an insult for highly lyrical or complex language that some readers dislike. But don’t be fooled — actual purple prose lacks the elegance and cohesion of these examples, and distracts from the text rather than enhancing it.”

Still Reedsy

Sean Penn’s novel is a good example of purple prose. No offense to him: 

“There is pride to be had where the prejudicial is practiced with precision in the trenchant triage of tactile terminations. This came to him via the crucible-forged fact that all humans are themselves animal, and that rifle-ready human hunters of alternately-species prey should best beware the raging ricochet that soon will come their way.”

Sean Penn

So, how do you avoid PURPLE PROSE?

Write in your own voice if you’re worried about it. 

Also? If you’re worried about it, focus a bit more on your plot. 

Do This: 

Imagine you’re the reader. Would you get what’s going on right there in those words (the potentially purple words) if you were just reading this? Are those words the easiest path to understanding and to be submersed in the story? After they’ve read it are they going to put it down and say, “Why did the author spend forty-five pages talking about her underwear? Does it have anything to do with anything?” 

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!

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 249,000 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 sages, archetypes and Bud Lite

My Dog Is A Skunk Killer AND I Had No Clue!

See this face?

It’s a cute face, right? It is an innocent, adorable, sweet face. This is the dog who lets us hug her for hours and actually leans into it. This is the dog who refuses to take food out of your hand unless you assure her that you really don’t want it. This is a dog that allows kittens to climb through her fur and hitch rides on her back.

But also, apparently, Gabby the Dog has been hiding an entire other side of herself and she is a killer. Not just a hornet killer. She’s really good at swallowing hornets and wasps whole.

No.

She is a skunk killer.

The Scene

We let her and Sparty Dog (our non killer, not even hornets) outside to the backyard before bed. The yard is fenced. She rushed out, running full-tilt, which is hard for her because:

  1. She is old.
  2. She was abused and starved as a puppy and her muscular system and skeletal structure didn’t form correctly do to lack of nutrition and also being tied to a tree in Alabama all day, every day.

But according to He Who Let Her Out, she sprinted, silently to the back corner of the yard where the fence meets the shed.

A Smell Happens

I was at my desk making my to-do list for the next day when I smelled burning.

I jumped up and flipped my laptop over because I’m super paranoid about laptops catching on fire.

It was not my laptop.

“Do you smell burning?” I yelled to Shaun aka the bodyguard aka Person Who Let The Dogs Into The Yard.

“No. I don’t smell any–“

“SKUNK!” I screamed, slamming shut the windows. “Dear God, did you let the dogs out there? Oh no! Oh no!”

Gabby has had a skunk encounter before. She chased it out of the yard and it slid under the gate but first shot its odoriferous defense system straight into her muzzle. It took a lot to make her smell good after that. I did not want a repeat of that event.

But instead, instead…

The Scene Evolves INTO POOPY BUSINESS

We ran to the back mudroom door, flung it open. In the middle of the yard was Sparty the Non Killing Dog doing his poopy business. He was walking across the yard while he did this, head down, doggy posture looking ashamed/horrified and definitely not making any eye contact with us or Gabby the Dog in the back corner.

“Sparty! In here now!” I yelled.

Sparty is a perfect dog and scampered in. I shut us in the mud room. Smelled him. He was good to go.

“You are the best dog ever,” I told him.

He agreed and went into the living room to jump on the couch and wait out the drama.

WHO EVEN IS THIS KILLER?

Meanwhile, Shaun was still out on the back stoop staring into the darkness that is our yard. I could just barely see the white form of Gabby in the corner. She was doing that dog thing she does with her toys where she flails her head rapidly back and forth. Something was in her mouth. That something was not her favorite froggy toy.

“Sweet mother of all things holy,” I whispered. “Is she playing with the skunk?”

“No,” Shaun said. “No, she has killed the skunk and is apparently making sure it’s really dead.”

I gasped. “My baby’s not a killer.”

Shaun said, “Honey, your baby is definitely a killer.”

He had to turn on the hose to get her to drop it. Gabby is a Pyr, not a retriever, not a hunter. And though she knows the command “Drop it,” her stubborn Pyr genes were in full effect.

The Horror

I brought her in the mudroom expecting to see blood and skunk bits. And I cleaned her. There was no blood and she somehow only had skunk smell in her mouth and on her right paw.

“Who even are you?” I asked.

She wagged her tail and breathed skunk smell on me. I managed to not die, too.

What Does This All Mean?

But that’s not why I’m writing about this whole horrific event. I’m writing about it because Gabby reminded me that we never know exactly what other people (or dogs) are capable of. We never know exactly what we are capable of either.

We think we know how we’d react in certain situations, often imagine ourselves the hero of our own stories and other people’s stories, but we have different sides, instincts that sometimes turn into actions and words that we never thought we’d do or save. And that holds true for the people and dogs we love, too.

Gabby reminded me that while I might think of her as a skunk killer now, she thinks she was protecting Sparty and our house. She reminded me that we don’t all have the same motivations and intentions and no matter how much we think we understand people and dogs and ourselves? Well, sometimes surprises happen.

And that’s okay.

my hands smell like dogs
Cutie Dog and Skunk Killer.
Continue reading “My Dog Is A Skunk Killer AND I Had No Clue!”

To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question

If you spend any time with me, you’ll notice that I’m super annoying because I don’t think there is one right way to do things and this is especially true about writing stories. 

Authors, however, like to think there’s a right way, a guide that is perfect for everyone that has all the happy little writing, revising and marketing steps. The hope is that if you follow those steps you become the next writing superstar or at least get a full request from an agent. 

The rules that we love, the guidelines and the steps? They don’t work for everyone or even one person all the time. And this is true about outlining too. Some of us love it. Some of us hate it. Some of us are apathetic. Some of us love it for one book and hate it for the next. 

That’s all okay.

But here are some things about outlining. 

  1. It doesn’t need to be all formal with bullet points.
  2. It can actually be fun for some people. 
  3. It can force inspiration sometimes. 
  4. It is usually big picture and is the big details and allows you to be creative in the execution and focus more (sometimes) on sentence structure and word choice.
  5. It helps keep you from writing 120,000 words before you realize you have no plot. 
  6. You can get a good idea of your plot structure and you can fix that before you write 123,000 words. 
  7. Helps with that big-picture pacing.
  8. Let’s you know where you’re at when you’re writing that first draft and can help you not pull out your hair when you’re freaking out that you’re nowhere near done when you’re actually pretty close.

If you all are into this, I can post about how to start an outline. Just let me know, okay?

Continue reading “To Outline or Not To Outline? That Might Be The Question”

Be Brave Friday

While I was working a little, white kid on the sidewalk outside yelled, “I’m going to run you over. Right now!”

A little white girl hurried out of his way, skittering, almost tripping over her feet.

Their daycare provider then announced, looking at my house, “If that was my house, I’d tear down those trees.”

In less than ten seconds, I heard a threat, saw fear, and then judgement and an apparent disregard for our little baby ecosystem in the cedars.

It made me think about my reaction to things and how important it is to not be a Judgy-Pants especially about other people’s property, but also to not always hurry out of the way when someone threatens you and wants to be where you are.

Usually on Be Brave Friday I share art that I’m working on, but I’m not working on any right now. This whole week I haven’t picked up a paint brush. But I have clacked away on my keyboard, so this is the best I have to offer you today.

It’s a random poem I wrote. If you know anything, you’ll know that poems are almost as hard for me to share as art.

I feel my tooth now that it’s gone,

A hole inside my mouth, stuck

Between the survivors, a gap and fuzzy pain

Reminding me of things.

I said I wouldn’t 

Cry. Damn it all to hell. 

I am not a person who sobs. 

Not over a tooth.

I stared at the surgeon as he sewed me up.

I stared at the white light above him, thinking

About out-of-body experiences and how

The people who return always talk about

The white light. I can’t keep staring at it. 

I try not to think about things.

I try to not remember how I’ve become the person I am. 

“Don’t present as insecure,” other women tell me. “You’re strong

And talented.” And I just want to say, “Bitch, those are not mutually exclusive.”

I don’t care about followers.

I don’t care about how I present 

I don’t care about well-natured advice telling me not to be me. I touch

The letters of my soul like they are traps, but they are magical, offerings of 

Hazelnut charms, nine letters encircling themselves meant to be placed on a door

To keep the evil out. If only it were that simple, right? 

I feel my tooth now that it’s gone. 

December is the month of birthdays of the dead I knew. 

Father. Brother. Jesus. Me.

Try not to skitter. Try not to threaten. Try not to judge. We can all share, okay? And leave the damn trees alone.

Continue reading “Be Brave Friday”

Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?

Forced Rhyme Moments

I was recently helping a poet/author who was worried about forced rhyme moments and then she realized she wasn’t absolutely sure what ‘forced rhyme’ even met.

So, here’s a bit of rundown on ways we can all force our rhymes. 

Weird Phrasing.

The most common way picture book editors balk at forced rhymes is when the author rearranges the phrase or sentence so that the rhyme comes at the end but the whole thing sounds unnatural. Like this: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            With you, I like the sun. 

Look at me! I’m unnatural.

Normally, it would be in natural conversational U.S. English: 

            Whenever we go out for a run, 

            I like the sun.

The ‘with you’ wouldn’t even be there because of the ‘we.’ We just shove that on to make it rhyme, which is why we call it forced. J I love imagining all of us poet-people brandishing our mugs of tea and pens and screaming, “Rhyme, damn it! I force you!” 

Random bits

The other big thing that happens in picture books is we stick random information into the story just to make a rhyme. 

I like manatees. I think they’re great. 

My aunt got sick from a tomato she ate. 

This is pretty cute, actually.

So, if the rest of the book was about manatees, then that line about the aunt wouldn’t make sense, right? That’s another example of a forced rhyme. 

Making a Big Long Line

I did this so much when I was young and I still have to hold my typing hands back because it’s what I ALWAYS WANT TO DO. I would make a really big line to get a rhyme in. 

            I was working over at the Dairy Joy,

            Just minding my own business, scooping the scoops, when I finally scoped out this boy. 

Most of my grade-school poems were about being in love with random imaginary humans

Anyway, if the rest of the couplets are short, then this looks silly and forced. 

Almost But Not Quite

Another big thing people do is the almost but not quite there rhyme. They call this a slant rhyme or a half rhyme. Poets actually use this on purpose all the time. Here’s an example that I pasted from the web. It’s a poem called “To My Wife” by George Wolff 

If love is like a bridge
or maybe like a grudge,
and time is like a river
that kills us with a shiver,
then what have all these mornings meant
but aging into love?
What now is straight must have been bent;
what now is whole must have been rent.
My hand is now your glove.”

George Wolff

Wrenched rhymes

This happens when the words rhyme, but different syllables are stressed like here where the stress goes on the first syllable of laughing so on the laugh and not on the ing: 

I was laughing

            On the swing.

Random pretend poem

So, there you go. A tiny little lesson (Lesson? It sounds so formal!) about forced rhymes. Remember force is not cool. Talk to your poems, chill with them, let them decide to hang out with you.

Continue reading “Don’t Force that Rhyme. What exactly even is a forced rhyme?”