How Not to Write Your Novel

It’s a lot like life honestly.

Here’s the number one hint.

Wait forever to start writing.

Don’t wait to start. Don’t expect lightening to strike or a muse to come down from the heavens.

Just write. Call it practice if ‘writing a novel’ seems too big a task. Trick your mind into being chill about it. If you want to do something, you have to do it. Don’t wait for permission. Just do it.

As long as it’s legal and doesn’t hurt other people. Obviously that sentence up there about not waiting for permission doesn’t apply to all things.

But it does freaking apply to art and writing and joy and fun.

Again, as long as your fun doesn’t hurt other creatures.

Back to the point. We wait all our lives for inspiration, for a prince or warrior-queen to come sweep us off our feet, for the muse to bless us with the perfect novel or poem or family or painting or child. But we have to put in the work. We have to be brave and actively go after what it is we want.

We might write a ton of sucky sentences. We might forget how to use a comma. We might fail and get rejected a million times.

That’s what makes the quest good though. That’s what makes the goal worth it.

So if you want to write a novel? Write it. Just get started.

If you don’t want to write a novel? Don’t.

Study craft. Push yourself. Think about who your story is about and how they relate to the world. Just write down the words you hear in your brain, the visions you see. Start it.

You’ve got this.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Everything up there, man.

Dog Tip for Life

Dude. Hang out in the truck.


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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 


How Not to Write Your Novel

 
 
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Dead Butt Syndrome

People, you have got to get your butts out of the chair, or the bed, or whatever. Seriously.

Your butt is breaking! Sorry Dying. Your butt is dying!

According to a Huffington Post article by Nicole Pajer, “Americans are sitting so long that their butts are literally falling asleep. “Dead butt syndrome,” or gluteal amnesia, is a condition that occurs when your gluteus medius gets inflamed and forgets to function normally.”

Pajer’s article, ‘Dead Butt Syndrome’ Is A Real Thing. Here’s How To Tell If You Have It” was a big deal back in 2018, but I swear, we are not listening and our bottoms and our entire bodies are paying the price.

Yes, writers, I know that you’re thinking, “Isn’t the whole point of being a writer about making up imaginary worlds, sitting all day, and putting your butt in the chair?”

Spoiler:

There are a lot of writer quotes expressly about how you have to put your ‘butt in the chair’ to get your writing done.

Tangent:

Writers, there are actual books call “BUTT IN CHAIR!”

Second tangent:

Putting your butt in the chair, doesn’t make you an awesome writer. It just means you’ve put in some time with your bottom in a chair, typing. Writing is about craft, understanding humans, understanding language, and story.

Back to Butts

An article by Anthea Levi, entitled “Dead Butt Syndrome Is One More Reason You Shouldn’t Sit All Day” stresses that sitting all day isn’t good for anyone’s butt, not even a writer’s.

Sitting all day is not good for your bottom.

She quote says chiropractor Andrew Bang, who works at Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute.

Dead butt syndrome has to do with reciprocal inhibition—the process that describes the give-and-take relationship between muscles on either side of a joint. “In general, when one muscle contracts, a nerve signal is sent to its opposing muscle to relax,” says Bang. 

Levi

Give-and-take relationships aren’t just the talk of couples therapy for writers who are having a hard time. It’s also about the body and the self. Our muscles work together but sometimes, they don’t.

When we sit down too long, our butts get out of shape. The main muscles do a lot of beneficial things and when it’s dead or not strong? Our pelvis isn’t as stable. We can get pain in our back and hips. Our knees and ankles act up.

It all can go bad.

Levi’s article talks all about the health dynamics and causes of that and you should check it out. Pajer’s article talks about the signs of dead butt syndrome.

Writer’s Tip OF THE POD

Sitting in your chair all day is putting in the time, but crafting great writing is about more than that. It’s about understanding people, story, life. It’s about living. It’s hard to live in one place, sitting down.

Keep your butt healthy, your heart healthy and your writing healthy.

Dog Tip for Life

Moving is good.

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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Dead Butt Syndrome

 
 
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Actions Create Who You Are

Jean-Paul Satre believed that people are the only objects that create who they are by their actions. A plant is a plant. It doesn’t choose to be a lilac. If he’s poison ivy, he’s poison ivy.

But a person becomes a truck driver because his actions prove him to be a truck driver. A person becomes a lounge singer because he’s singing in a lounge.

It’s all about the actions.

This is something I need to remember while I’m writing, especially when I’m writing middle grade for some reason. Our characters become something by their actions. 

Harry Potter becomes a hero because he does heroic stuff, not because he tells ushe does heroic stuff, or because he wants to doheroic stuff. We believe he’s a hero because we read his actions of being a hero.

Life is like this, too. A person becomes an artist by creating art. A person becomes a hero by doing something heroic, not by claiming to do something heroic or thinking about it. A person embodies the traits of their office, position or religion by actually embodying those traits, not just talking about it. 

In life like in writing, it’s about showing not telling. It’s about actions not lip-service. 

Okay. I’m going to go revise now.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp! 

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

Being Extra

So, sometimes Carrie is a little extra.

Carrie: I was looking at people who liked me in college – all the ones that I didn’t like back – and they were all so stable and mellow even in college when it was all about putting dissected sharks on the floor and jello shots. Now they are all grown up and they are stable and mellow and have these beautiful upscale lives. They’re doctors, lawyers, engineers.

Shaun: But you have me.

Carrie: Exactly! And I love you. I love that you are unexpected and funny and occasionally dangerous.

What does this have to do with writing?

Carrie has a new book coming out. It’s called IN THE WOODS. She’s being a little extra about it. She is a little extra about everything.

What exactly is extra? Performingfartist says, “Doing the absolute damn most. For no reason.”

Writing is supposed to be extra. It’s supposed to be big and important even for the quiet books, even for the books nobody notices. It’s all about pouring your heart into it. It’s all about this damn quote right here:

Life is very short and what we have to do must be done in the now.

Audre Lorde

Also, we should add that “extra” like a lot of great words and terms originated in AAVE.

When people call you extra, it’s mocking a bit, but it’s also loving a bit. You’re living large. Extra was a super popular term in 2015 and inspired a lot of memes, but it hasn’t gone away yet.

Salt Bae is a perfect example of the beauty of being extra.

I hope the term never goes away. Because being extra means you’re all in. You aren’t mellow. You aren’t boring. You take risks. You embrace your loves and who you are and what you do.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Be extra! Shouldn’t you want to be as big as possible, as enthusiastic as possible, as all-in as possible when you create.

Dog Tip for Life :

Go all in. Be authentic. Being extra might involve a fake limp to get some love? Whatever. Be authentic in your need if not your limp.


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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary. It’s a bit paranormal. It’s a bit romantic. And it’s one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019.

There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

PATREON OF AWESOME

Paragraph

You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps).

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 




Being Extra

 
 
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I am a distinguished alumna! No… Seriously!

A few years ago (in June) there was a Vermont College of Fine Arts party at American Library Association’s conference that I was completely stressed about? It was at Tami Lewis Brown’s House. Katherine Paterson was there and I had no idea what I was supposed to say if I actually met Katherine Paterson.

I mean, what do you say to someone who wrote THE BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA?

1. You made me cry
2. You made me make my own fantasy world in the woods in my backyard.
3. No, really you made me sob.
4. Can I have 1/100th of your talent?
5. Gasp! Chortle! Squee!

Well, I did NOT make a fool of myself about Katherine Patterson. And I didn’t avoid the author M. T. Anderson even though he’s so tall I find it intimidating.

And I ended up having to wear my cardigan the whole time because my dress was way too cleavage-y.

How do I know this? I know this because the doorman at the hotel  stared at it and asked if I wanted to hang out. Really. And I am a children’s book author! I am supposed to be not the type of person the doorman thinks he can ask out.

I think part of the problem was I told him I loved him when he ran after the shuttle bus for me. Bad Carrie! Bad! 

Side note: Don’t tell random people you love them even when you do love them in that moment.

Anyway, I went to the party and my hair was flat and I had a cardigan on even though it was 98 degree.

And then… and then…

Katherine and Tami made speeches about the awesomeness of Vermont College. I think Tobin may have too.

And then… And then…

They gave Kekla Magoon of awesome an award for being a distinguished alumna and she cried and was beautiful and I pet her on the back and tried to comfort her while thinking how awesome she is and then….

And then…

I GOT ONE TOO!

Seriously! I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was awarded a plaque and everything and I almost died because I kept thinking, “People are going to take pictures and I am wearing my dumpy cardigan to hide my cleavage AND my hair is flat. Crud. Crud. Crud. Why did nobody tell me?”

But it was amazing.

The whole time I kept thinking that I wouldn’t even be a writer if not for the people at Vermont College and how there are so many amazing graduates who deserved that award, and I kept looking out there in the crowd and seeing those amazing writers, and it was so completely humbling. 

But then I also thought about how terrified I was when I first started at Vermont. Some people were already published. I had barely written one book. I felt – no, I knew – that I didn’t belong and I almost quit that first week because I knew there was no way I could possibly belong there with all those people who had been writing for forever and who knew all the terms like objective correlative and who all the publishing houses, and I knew nothing.

I didn’t believe in myself at all.

Lisa Jahn Clough and Emily Wing Smith and Ed Briant (who said something awesome at a reading to me) then Tim Wynne Jones were the reasons I toughed it out that first semester. I am so very glad I did because Vermont didn’t just make me into a writer it gave me a community of fellowship, of learning and of people who I adore (even if they are tall). 

I am still trying to make it so I can deserve that award. I really am. 

More than that though, I want to make it so everyone can get that kind of dumpy cardigan moment, to get loved and recognized. It might be for running after a shuttle bus. It might be for making a children’s book, but we get to choose who we are, how we interact with the world, who we can be.

I want so badly for everyone to choose empathy, to choose their own power, to choose to make the right choices. I want everyone to feel that love and recognition that I was lucky enough to feel that June.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

You can buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Some Men Aren’t Meant to Wear Scarves, So Be Your Own Style and Don’t Pretend to Be Tom Cruise Or Bieber

How to Survive Stupid Writing Advice

This week I got an Instagram message from a man selling his copyediting services and there were five incredibly obvious typos in his pitch. I’m talking about two words combined, misspelled words. Double punctuation at the end of a sentence.

It was sad.

So, there’s another guy on the internet who makes a ton of money helping other people be writers and I’m sure he’s lovely, but I find him incredibly frustrating.

Why?

He has a page all about writing advice and in that advice he has bullet points to make things simple because apparently people who want to be writers need things simple? Who knows.

But in those ten bullet points he has contradictory advice. In one bullet point he says,

Don’t be lazy. Don’t sound stupid.

In another he says,

Don’t worry about being good. Just write.

Hm.

In yet another he says,

Don’t be a perfectionist.

Yeah.

Look. I’m sure he’s helped a ton of people and his bullet points must have deeper meaning and insight, but here’s the thing. Writing isn’t about bullet points. Writing is about soul and depth. Writing is about communication and building worlds through words that create image and resonance.

How To Survive Stupid Writing Advice

1. Sort the good from the bad

Remember a lot of people are just trying to make money off you. Sad, but true. And some of these people are amazing and professionals and some aren’t. You have to sort the good from the bad.

2. One Size Does Not Fit All

Does your brain work exactly like your BFF’s? Your mom’s? You’re dog’s? No. It doesn’t. All advice doesn’t work for everyone. It’s okay to be the writer who works in spurts, who doesn’t outline, who writes every day. There’s no one right way to write anymore than there is one right way to human.

3. Believe in Yourself

When you get really crap advice at your writing critique group, or workshop or from your mentor or even your agent? And it just feels wrong?

That probably means it is. Don’t let group think or even an expert sway you from the truth of your story.

4. Try not to compare

Here’s the thing. If one writer publishes 100,00 copies? That doesn’t make them a better writer than the one who publishes 10. There’s a lot of stuff called marketing that goes on behind the scenes that makes one author have high sales. If one author always gets invited to conferences and you don’t? It doesn’t mean you suck. It might be that other author is good at schmoozing. Be proud of who you are and be who you are. Don’t try to emulate the people who you think are successful. Emulate yourself.

5. Blow it off And dig deep

Seriously. Blow off the comparisons, the advice that doesn’t work. Study the craft, the books YOU love, notice sentence structure, discover why you like the stories you like and then think about why YOU want to write your story, dig deep into why it matters to you.

Writing Tip of the Pod

If you’re going to pay people to help you, please do it with someone reputable. Please do it with someone who can spell. And please do it with someone who gives you consistent advice that resonates.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Some people suck and just want to use you for money or cute Instagram pictures. Avoid those people.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed! 

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!

ART

You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 


How to Survive Stupid Writing Advice

 
 
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Weird Things About Us

This week we’re pretty low-key chill with an off-format podcast about the weird things about us

Basically, we answer some of our listener’s questions.

We forgot the hardest one, which is:

HOW DOES CARRIE GET EVERYTHING DONE?

That one took too much time, so we’ll share it next week.

We love you all and thank you so much for your awesome questions.

Dogs are Smarter Than People podcast
Why do you choose to live this way, humans?

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

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is b5314ed645a47991655395d180f52f5c.jpg

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is The-Last-Gods-3.jpg

WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Superheroes-7-1.jpg


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

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

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Image

31702754 copy

How to Start Writing a Book

People ask me all the time about how to start writing a book, and I think I’m getting more emails about this than I normally do, which means – a lot of emails. 

So, I’m going to resurrect this blog about it. 

There are basically three components to writing a book or a novel, or anything honestly.

The first part is you have to write

You have to put words to the page and/or computer screen. A lot of people get stuck on this part. There’s no one right way to do it. You can outline the heck out of a book and/or a novel. Or… you can hear a sentence in your head and just go from there and see where the journey takes you. The secret is to not get hung up on how to do the writing or outlining, but to do the writing, which leads me to the second component.

Do not stop writing.

 You have to keep writing even when you think your story sucks, even when you think it is pointless. You have to expect self-doubt and write right through it. Stopping because of self doubt is the number one enemy of writers. It is what keeps me from blogging, which to me is much more terrifying than writing a book. 

End the Bad Boy.

In order for you to have a book out in the world, you have to write all the way through it to the ending. There are a million books out there and even more ‘almost written’ books. Don’t be an almost. Be a writer. 

Here are some more hints.

1. Write

Write as much as you can. I wrote my first book, TIME STOPPERS (13th published one) in the car on my way to newspaper assignments. I’d make the story up aloud and tell it to my daughter and then write the pages at home when I got a chance. If you write just one page a day, you end up with a draft that’s 356 pages at the end of the year. You know what that is? It’s a book.

2. Keep Track of Your Progress 

A lot of the time, I feel like I haven’t written anything or achieved any writing during the day. My mind is evil like that. So to help me keep track, I post a word count at the beginning of the day and the end of the day, too. That way I can see how many words I wrote. When I’m revising, I do it by chapter. I revise a chapter a day and mark it off in my notebook or computer file.  It’s good to see that you’ve accomplished things. It’s motivating.

3. Work Every Day 

Some writers don’t do this. I do. But I’m trying to take the weekends off. Some writers go on a retreat and work for 24 hours straight, sipping green tea and eating Saltines. I am not one of those writers, but you can be. If you aren’t the binge-type writer, though, make sure you are diligent. Write every day. Think about when you will write. Schedule time to write. Do it. For my first book, I was writing everywhere, on napkins, the back of envelopes, computer files, and I would be in the car waiting to pick up my daughter, at a swim meet (DO NOT JUDGE. SWIM MEETS ARE LONG), waiting for a meeting to start. All those moments of waiting became moments of writing. 

4. Give Yourself Goals 

I have daily goals, weekly goals and yearly goals. This sounds quite organized. It isn’t, really. I just say things like, “I want to write 5,000 words this week,” or I want to have the necromancer story done by November 1, this revision of a picture book done by December, and so on. Your goals can be big or little, but keep visiting them, remind yourself of them. And be psyched when you achieve them. I give this advice, but I totally fail at the celebration part of writing. When my last book came out, I was training members of Rotary International about public image. I absolutely failed to even have a cupcake to celebrate. DO NOT BE LIKE ME. Give yourself goals and party when you achieve them. You deserve it. 

5. Be Okay with Sucking 

I am so far from perfect. My writing is far from perfect. The truth is that even the writers that you think are heroic, brilliant, awesome, amazing mess up. They have editors, second editors, agents, friends who help them make their stories the best they can be. The secret is to let others help you. The other secret is to not let your fear of failure freeze you into not making story. We writers are often our own worst enemy and few of us have healthy egos that are okay with criticism, that don’t have self doubt. The thing is to preserve, keep writing. 

6. Write More 

Once you have your story, revise your story. Revise it again. Study the books you like. Revise again. Study the books you don’t like. Revise again. And write something new. Don’t stop writing. Writing is a craft and the more you do it, the better you become. This is just like all the other arts and crafts. The more you practice piano, the better a pianist you are. The more you sculpt, the better the sculptor. Writers are artisans. Our materials are words. Words are the symbols we put together to create story. 

7. Start a blog and find a community 

Writing can be lonely. You are in your house or coffee shop or (if you are me) car, writing. If you blog, you can connect to other writers and readers. If you connect, you can find support when you are feeling like throwing your laptop through the window. You can feel less alone. 

8. Get Inspired 

When I talk to kids about writing, I tell them that to live the biggest lives they can, experience things that are legal and won’t get you thrown in prison or hurt or kicked out of school, have adventures, make friends, listen to people’s conversations. The stories writers tell are about interactions, cause and effect, about things happen. Be a witness. Be a story teller. Live. 


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

You can preorder this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

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.

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FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Mushy Dialogue Sucks

There. I said it.

Mushy dialogue sucks. It’s nothing space in your story and sometimes it’s nothing space in your life. You know what I’m talking about, right? You meet some cool human at a coffee house and talk to them and it goes like this:

“Hey.”

“Hey.”

“How’s it shaking?”

“It’s shaking well, thank you.”

“Yeah. Weather is nice, right?”

“It’s quite sunny.”

“Cool.”

“Yes, it’s lovely.”

Random bad dialogue that I just made up

One of my writers in the Writing Barn class that I’m teaching for the next six months, directed me to a blog post about the Five Biggest Writing Mistakes and How to Fix Them and one of those mistakes according to James Scott Bell is marshmallow dialogue.

Bell believes that dialogue is one of the best ways to make a story better or make it absolute trash. He advocates fast-paced dialogue full of tension. Blah dialogue he says is ‘puffy,’ and ‘overly sweet,’ and everyone sounds the same no matter who is speaking.

Bell kindly gives hints about how to make characters sound different from one another.

Those include:

  • Making documents written solely in one character’s voice.
  • Keep working on it until every character sounds different and you can distinguish them at a glance (I added that)
  • Make sure there is tension going on. What do people want? Why are they talking? Do they want the same thing?
  • Make your dialogue simpler. Get rid of extra words. You can cut and copy dialogue into another document and then hack away at it.

He uses the following example of compressed dialogue.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”

“Oh but I do, I do. And you can see it in my face, can’t you?”

The alternative:

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“Damn straight,” Mary said.

“You got no reason to be!”

Mary felt her hands curling into fists.

Bell’s example

I’m annoying and I send my apologies to Mr. Bell, but that example is wonderful at compressing dialogue, but those people? They still sound the same to me. In the first example, they both sound like middle class people who are having a hard time expressing their feelings. In the second example, they sound like people who are expressing their feelings in exactly the same way and are probably are still the same social/economic/education background.

Look at what happens if you keep one character’s original lines and one character’s new lines.

“Mary, are you angry with me?” John asked.
“Damn straight,” Mary said.
“But why? You’ve got absolutely no reason to be!”
Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Or….

“You angry with me?” John asked.

“You’re damn straight I’m mad at you,” Mary said.

“But why? You have absolutely no reason to be?”


Mary’s hands curled into fists.

Revision

I’d argue that’s even better. For more about how language and dialogue changes with the speakers, check out our Dogs are Smarter than People podcast from last year. And good luck with your dialogue!

Links that go with the podcast (the important words are here and here.




HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

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

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

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

31702754 copy

Avoiding the New Year’s Suck – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Okay. Okay. I know we always try to be positive because we are positive people. Cough. But New Years? It’s a little frustrating.

That’s because it’s all about goals and new starts. And you know, every day should be about that, right? And then you’re like, “Crap, I failed in my goals. Crap, I need new goals. Crap, why is this party boring? Crap, should my new goal to be to never attend a party?”

And so on.

But that pressure? To be Instagram-worthy, to be super achiever goal person, to be extra? That’s what makes New Years suck. At this house, we like to just celebrate that we’re still alive, not bankrupt, and not in jail. It’s way better that way because there’s not as much pressure.

A long time ago – back in the 1980s – this guy Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying happiness. He gave people pagers. Remember this was in the 1980s. Then he and his research assistants would send the people messages at random times and ask how they were doing, feeling, what they were doing, etc. It sounds a bit like when your mom texts you, honestly.

And he discovered flow. People were happy when they were super engaged in the task they were doing. People weren’t happy when they were doing nothing. They were happy when they were involved in something.

Minds were blown.

When people were in the ‘flow,’ they forgot about time, space, all the other detritus in their lives. They were focused on the now, on what they were doing. What they were doing might be writing, sports, hanging out with other humans, art, and so on… But for them the involvement was so intense that they became engaged and absorbed into it and were happy.

Writing should do that for you.

Writing Tip of the Pod

If you aren’t in the flow, why are you writing? Give yourself ten minutes. Set a timer. If it isn’t working, get up and go back later. Life is too short to be unhappy. Make that your new year mantra.

Dog Tip for Life

Fun and work aren’t mutually exclusive. Having fun and being useful aren’t either, man. Pull out your inner dog and go with the flow this year. Look for the flow.

Be a Part of the Podcast!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

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

ART.

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

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.

31702754 copy

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.