Man, That’s a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Man, That's a Beautiful Mullet and How To Pace Your Novel
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Just like hanging out with a friend, or listening to an instructor drone on and on about the beauty of a mullet, the keys to controlling your novel’s pacing are language and conflict and scene sequence and stakes. We’re going to talk about those today.

What’s pacing?

It’s how fast or slow the story goes for the reader.

LANGUAGE IS A BIG WAY TO IMPACT PACE

Let’s start with word choice. The words you choose can speed up the reader or slow them down. The way the words are grouped on the page? Same thing.

  • Dialogue.
  • Short paragraphs.
  • Short sentences.
  • Action.

Those four things speed things up.

And these things below? They slow that story down.

  • Descriptive passages.
  • Long paragraphs.
  • Long sentences.
  • Abstract language.
  • A lot of talk about feelings.
  • Flashbacks.
  • Information dumps.

Special Help: If all your sentences are the same length and are constantly parallel in construction, you lull the reader to sleep. No sleeping readers, okay? You fall asleep, you run the risk of getting a mullet.

CONFLICT AND STAKES IS ANOTHER WAY TO IMPACT PACING

In the scenes you choose, there needs to be some stakes and some conflict.

Stakes happen when your reader cares about the character and is worried about what might happen to them if they don’t reach their goals. In every scene that stays in your book, there needs to be a stake and a goal.

You can’t just have your character chilling with her bestie if there’s no point in that chillin. You need obstacles and tension and the reader needs to think, “Yikes! What happens if they fail?”

It’s really one of the biggest things about pacing. Because not having conflict and stakes and tension? It makes the reader stop reading.

Scene Sequence Also Impacts Pace

And here it is. The big one. In your story, just like in your life, there will be action moments and turning points and then moments where you think about those big action moments.

Dwight Swain called these moments in a book scenes (the action moments) and sequels (the reflective moments).

Or as I like to call them, LOUD scenes and QUIET scenes. And you want these scenes to be balanced so that the reader doesn’t get bored or the opposite, scream “THIS IS TOO MUCH!!! AH! ANXIETY!”

Randy Ingermanson of the Snowflake method gives three components to each:

Active Loud Scene

  • Goal
  • Conflict
  • Disaster

Quieter Sequel Scene

  • Reaction
  • Dilemma
  • Decision

Pretty cool, right?

So, how do you put all this together?

  1. You want to look at the structure of your story and break it down. Make scenes and chapter cards or just a list.
  2. Look at where the story ramps up and slows down.
  3. Use those sentences and paragraphs and chapters and scene lengths to manipulate that pace.
  4. Think about if your characters are too introspective.
  5. Think about if your writing lacks any detail or does it have too much? Do you wax poetic about the mullet on your main character for 12 pages?
  6. Think about each of your scenes. Do they show character or plot development? Are there obstacles going on? Does your main character want something in the scene?
  7. Have people read it and ask if the story felt rushed or too slow and where?
  8. Remember we need slow paced scenes, too! Not just fast ones!

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Control your pacing; control your story.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Humans are always go-go-go. Life is too fast paced. Slow your roll so you can enjoy your belly rubs, walks, and treats.

LINKS MENTIONED

https://www.baynews9.com/fl/tampa/news/2021/10/10/pasco-4th-grader-in-the-running-for-america-s-best-mullet?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axioslocal_tampa&stream=top

https://mulletchamp.com/

https://www.kiro7.com/news/trending/kid-mullet-champion-named-meet-allan-baltz-2021s-winner/I47UA62EZJAINHKCMEW2PJEN3Y/

https://www.dazeddigital.com/beauty/head/article/44884/1/mullet-subculture-hair-history

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
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loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Adriatic Ravioli of Clichés

Sometimes, you may get feedback that you don’t agree with and maybe that feedback is that your story is full of clichés . Those poops. This is the comforting recipe for you in that time of need. Avoid those naysayers like the plague! 🙂

Adriatic Ravioli of Clichés

Recipe by Carrie
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

Stuff That Goes In It

  • 1 lb asparagus — fresh

  • 1 lb cheese ravioli — small, frozen

  • 5 TB butter or margarine

  • 1 lg red bell pepper — cut into skinny, 2-inch-long strips

  • ½ lb mushrooms — thinly sliced

  • 4 lg garlic cloves — peeled and minced

  • 3 TB unbleached white flour

  • 2½ c milk

  • ¼ ts salt

  • 1 ts paprika — plus more if you like to bling out your food

  • 1 TB Dijon mustard

  • ¼ c fresh basil — chopped

  • ½ c Romano cheese — (2 ounces), finely grated

  • Pepper

  • Finely grated Parmesan for serving (more bling)

How to Make It

  • Find a large pot. Think about how that pot is as old as the hills.
  • Put water in the pot.
  • Put that pot on a burner and make that water boil, but don’t watch it! A watched pot never boils. Actually, DO watch it because you don’t want it to boil over.
  • Meanwhile, go find your asparagus and snap off and trash the tough ends. Imagine that you are snapping and discarding the beta reader who said you had too many cliches in your story. That jerk.
  • Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces.
  • Steam your asparagus for about 6 to 8 minutes, until it is barely tender and cute as a button.
  • Set it somewhere. Think about why your beta reader and agent hate cliches. You’d thought they were the salt of the earth. Were you wrong?
  • Cook the ravioli. Stir it once in awhile. Begin cooking the ravioli, stirring occasionally. Look at it. It’s in hot water.
  • Find a skillet. Put it on medium heat and melt 1 TB of butter in it. It’s a baptism of fire for that pour butter.
  • Saute the mushrooms, pepper and garlic about three minutes.
  • Take those tender veggies away from the harsh heat.
  • Get the rest of the butter and a big saucepan. Put them on medium heat.
  • Find the flour and whisk it into the butter and do that for about two minutes before slowly pouring in the milk. Do not spill the milk that way you don’t have to cry over it.
  • Keep whisking. It is what it is.
  • Whisk for forever, which is basically 3 to 5 minutes when whisking. Finish in the nick of time, right before your wrist falls off.
  • Add the salt, paprika, mustard, basil, Romano cheese, and pepper and let the good times roll!
  • Stir until the cheese melts. Only time will tell how long that will take.
  • Put the heat on super low and stir in the vegetables. Keep your chin up and ignore those naysayers.
  • Once the ravioli is floating, drain it, put it in a bowl.
  • Put a ring on it. I mean, put the sauce on it.
  • Toss.
  • And last but not least, bling it out with paprika and parmesan.

Notes

  • This awesome recipe is from Ginny Callan’s, Beyond The Moon Cookbook. The vegetarian bible of my youth.

Super Cool Debut Author Timothy Stone has a Middle Grade Novel You Won’t Want to Miss

Sometimes, I have an author interview where the author is a bit shy about being recorded for a podcast (so understandable because I’m actually like that too), but the author is just so wonderful, that I have to interview them anyway.

That’s the case with Timothy Stone and his debut novel.

How gorgeous is this cover?

Here’s the blurb:

Emily Lau is a normal girl with a normal life. She goes to school, has a best friend, argues with her parents, and daydreams about being a hero. When her aunt shows up with a gift, Emily’s life will never be the same. Her family has a secret, and it’s everything she’s ever dreamed of.

Magic is real. Not only that, Emily is descended from a long line of warriors. Her aunt starts teaching her the family martial arts, and Emily thinks she’s going to be just like the heroes in all her favorite stories. But if heroes are real, then so are monsters. Her family has enemies, and they’re coming for Emily. She was just getting used to her new life. Will she get to keep it?

And the link for the paperback is here!

Here’s me saying kind things that don’t even begin to express my excitement.

It’s his debut middle grade and it’s just? I am absolutely in love with it, the twists of adventure, Emily, her amazing family and BFF, and Timothy’s writing.

It’s a powerful combination.

Here’s my interview with Tim and another link to his fantastic book!

What was the first book that made you cry?

This was the first question on the list, but probably one of the last ones I answered. To be honest I don’t remember the very first book that made me cry. The first book that comes to mind is A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness/inspired by Siobhan Dowd. I remember that one destroyed me. I read it once years ago and I just read it again a couple of days ago. It left me in tears again.

When you write does it make you tired or does it make you energized?

The best answer I can give to this question is, yes. It really depends. Some days I get super energized while I write and I just want to keep going and I write a ridiculous amount. Other days it feels like I’m forcing words out. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I force myself to write when I don’t feel like writing and eventually I settle into a rhythm without realizing it. Sometimes I feel tired after I do this though. When I’m energized I feel like I can keep going. When I force the words out it feels like my brain needs a break at the end of the session.

What is your best tip for avoiding writer’s block? Do you believe in writer’s block?

I’m going to be confusing with this answer. I do believe in writer’s block. And I don’t think it’s something you can avoid. I don’t think writer’s block is strictly a thing only writer’s experience. I think anyone can get a block when they’re trying to do something. And I mean creatively, in sports, anything. I think the trick is to not believe the block. This is where it gets confusing. Yes I think blocks exist, but the way to avoid it is to not believe them.

It’s like the answer to the question about writing while tired. You just keep working until you do it. There’s this anime called “Haikyu!!” that I watch. In the latest season one of the characters is asked for advice on how to do something. He responds “Just keep trying until you can!” I feel like that really resonates with writers block and any time you feel like you can’t do something. At least it does for me.

I watched someone who played college volleyball react to one of the episodes and she talked about something called a “fixed mindset.” It’s when someone feels like they are at the limit of their abilities and nothing they can do can change the situation. She goes on to say that a fixed mindset isn’t helpful for anyone. She says what you need is a “growth mindset.” This is when you view challenge and failure as an opportunity to grow and learn. That if you put the work in you can get better.

That being said, I’m terrible at following my own advice/listening to myself.

What does writing success look like to you?

I’m not answering these questions in order. This is probably the third question I answered but it was the first one I read where I felt like I knew the answer immediately. I think I’ve known the answer to this for a long time. I don’t know if I’m going to explain this very well. I’ve had this picture in my head of me in a setting. Sometimes it’s an airport, sometimes it’s a coffee shop, or a book shop. I’m just minding my business and then I see someone sitting reading my book. I don’t know why but it puts a smile on my face.

How scary is it to have your first book ready to go out into the world?

WAY SCARIER THAN I THOUGHT IT WAS GOING TO BE. I thought there was going to be this magic moment where I just knew that it was ready, but there hasn’t been one yet. I feel like I’m running around in circles with no idea what’s going on. I’m sure you can tell how nervous I am about it, Carrie. Every time I send my book to someone to read I get anxious about it. It’s like I’m giving them part of my soul and I’m just sitting here hoping they’ll like what they see.

Your soul is so beautiful, Tim. I promise.

Have you always wanted to be a writer or are you stunned that this magical thing has happened and you’ve written a book?

I have always loved stories, but it took me a bit to realize I wanted to write them. The first time I remember wanting to be something was in third grade. I wanted to play for the Lakers. I was not a good basketball player. I’m still not. Then in middle school I wanted to be a lawyer. It wasn’t until high school that I started to get into creative writing. It was just something I did for fun though, I never thought about writing a book. At least not seriously. Eventually I graduated and started college. I got a job working in athletics and decided definitively that I wanted to work in athletics. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a sports agent or an athletic director or what. I think college is really when the idea of being a writer took hold of me.

I remember being really bored in a history class about Thomas Jefferson. So, I decided to start writing something that had been in my head. Before I knew it I had a chapter done. Two days later I was in the same class and it was just as boring so I started writing again and suddenly I had two chapters. I didn’t think about it too much until my cousins found out and asked to read it. I sent it to them and they loved it. Then it hit me. Could I be a writer?

I’ve worked other jobs since college, but the whole time I was trying to find the answer to that question. And I think I have.

I’ve put this in here again just because it’s so beautiful.

Your book has amazing magical elements. Did those come naturally? And have you always been interested in magic?

If I’m being honest, probably not. I like to think I’m being unique, or as unique as possible, but I love stories in pretty much every form of media. Books, comics, manga, TV, movies, anime, games, etc. I think I’ve become a sponge of everything I’ve ever seen or read.

And I have always been obsessed with magic. Not just magic though I guess. Magic, superpowers, science fiction, all of it. I would say 90% of everything I read or write has some sort of fantastical element to it.

Some of my magic elements I’ve had in mind for a long time and I finally got to use them. Others were born of convenience. I needed a way for something to happen, or a place to exist, and the easiest way to explain it was “magic.” That feels a little lazy but also genuine.

What was the best part of the writing process for this book? The worst?

The best part for me was when I suddenly got a random idea for my story that made me excited to sit down and write. I mean those moments when you’re doing nothing related to writing whatsoever, or when you’re stuck and then suddenly you get the perfect solution to the problem. Then everything just works.

Also, when I finished my first draft for the first time. It was like a weight lifted off my shoulders. I remember when I finished it, I just started laughing to myself for no reason. Then I ran around the house for a little bit and told my closest friends.

The worst part was rereading it after I finished. The first time was great, but then I read it so many times that I got tired of it. Don’t get me wrong, I loved going back and reading it to make it better. I just hit a point where I got burnt out reading my own book. I started questioning if I could read at some point.

Your book is so lovely and inventive. It’s got a great family story, a buddy story, and a huge adventure.

Without giving too much away, can you tell us who Meihua is and where you got the idea for her from?

This is probably one of the more difficult questions for me to answer because I feel like anything I say about who she is might be a spoiler.

Meihua is a guardian. She protects the people that she cares about. She’s that friend that everyone would love to have, but would be terrified to anger.

The idea for her was really random. I was talking to my friends one day about our favorite childhood movies and I mentioned The Iron Giant. I had seen a tweet at some point where someone said The Iron Giant was the best Superman movie. I tried looking it up to link it, but I couldn’t find it. I did find interviews though where Brad Bird said that the movie was based on the premise “What if a gun had a soul?”

What was the most surprising thing you discovered while writing Emily’s story?

Probably how much it changed. I recently looked back at my notes and conversations with a friend and the story is very different from what it used to be. Emily and Meihua’s origins. Everything. I’m not the most organized person with my notes so I’m not sure where it all came together and I got to the where I am today, but I am so glad that it happened. The story I have now is so much better than what it was when I started.

Also how easy it was? Don’t get me wrong it was difficult. There were days I absolutely had to force words out. But there were a lot of days where things just flowed and felt easy. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to write the story. The ideas just kind of came to mind while I was writing this book and suddenly I had a grand plan.

Can you talk a little bit about Emily and her cultural identity and family and how that’s interwoven into your narrative?

So, Emily is Asian American, like me. Specifically she’s Chinese American. When I set out to write this I didn’t plan on writing the Asian American experience. I was struggling at the time to write something that felt “true” or that I was really proud of. I finally decided to follow the “write what you know” advice and started writing an Asian American character in a setting I knew. I wrote Emily with the experiences I had growing up. She doesn’t speak Chinese because I never spoke Chinese. The food she eats is what I ate growing up. And even the family dynamic is similar to mine. The glaring difference being that I have siblings and she doesn’t.

And when I first started planning it things were very different than how they turned out now. But I remember my friend had recommended I read some wuxia novels. Wuxia I believe translates/means “martial heroes.” It’s kind of fantasy fiction about martial artists in Ancient China. Around the same time Jin Yong’s Legend of the Condor Heroes series was being translated into English. So I picked up the first book and enjoyed it and then I wanted to watch martial arts movies. I watched Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero, and The Assassin. Eventually I thought “what if I mixed martial arts and magic.” That’s kind of how this story came along. It’s more a “traditional” fantasy story with some martial arts elements to it.

AND IT IS AMAZING.

Okay, If you didn’t write books, do you think you’d have to find a way to channel your creativity?

Honestly, after having written one, I’m not sure I can imagine doing anything else. I have all these stories in my head and I feel like I have to tell them. I’ve always had stories popping in and out of my head, even when I was working full time or when I was in school. Something would just come up and I would start writing it at school or when I got a free moment at work. I’d like to think I would find a way to channel my creativity but I feel like I only think in stories. Everything I want to do is story driven. If I didn’t write books I think I would like to write the story for a video game. Which I hope I get the chance to do someday.

What was the hardest scene for you to write?

There were a few. One of the most difficult for me to write was the first chapter I think. The very beginning. I knew how I wanted it to end. I knew all the big and little things that were going to happen along the way. But I didn’t know how to start it.

I guess I wasn’t sure how to finish it either. I had an ending in mind, and you saw it, but it wasn’t that fulfilling. You helped me fix that!

I think training scenes were hard for me to write too. I felt like I really had to get into the nitty gritty of it and explain things as best as I could without making it too constricting. At the same time I didn’t want to pretend to be an expert on wuxia elements because I’m not. I’ve only read a few books. Most of my knowledge comes from the little I’ve read and the movies I’ve seen. I didn’t want to do a disservice to an amazing genre of fiction with my lack of knowledge. So I put in things I wanted to have in the story without getting too technical.

There are others but I want the readers to be able to experience them first.

Do you have a website or social media so that readers can find out more?

I do! The website is timmstone.com and I only have a Twitter so far but that is @BooksByTStone

Here’s a bit more about Tim!

Timothy Stone was born in Southern California to an American father and a Chinese mother. He writes fantasy and Emily Lau and the Plum Blossom Sword is his first novel. It took him a while to put pen to paper, or keystrokes really, but he got there eventually. He attended university and graduated with a degree in history from Cal State Fullerton, but part of him has always wanted to tell stories

Dear Bully, Ten Years Later

So, Megan Kelley Hall and I released DEAR BULLY, the anthology of authors telling their stories of being bullied, or standing by, or being bullies ten years ago last month. We were co-editors.

My involvement in the project was mostly inspired by two girls. One was a five-year-old, Jazmin Lovings who was relentlessly tormented by some other kids in her Brooklyn, NY kindergarten class. The kids even cut her hair without her permission.

Her story absolutely broke me. And I know (and knew) that I didn’t have enough power to change the world, but I had to at least try to do something, some small part.

Megan and a lot of the other contributors (and me) were also incensed and motivated by the story of Phoebe Prince, a young woman who had been bullied by schoolmates and who committed suicide.

We did a lot of interviews, but this one on NPR is lovely because it talks to a lot of us about being bullied AND being a bully and the lasting impact.

And I am still so proud of all the authors in there. 

HEY YOU! AUTHORS! I AM PROUD OF YOU!

For a lot of those authors, it was a big act of bravery to tell their stories. For a lot of them, it was a big act of bravery just to survive. For some of them, the bullying was so destructive it made them want to be invisible, to want to not exist.

And there are resonating truths in every one of their stories. Those truths are that pain is real, that actions and words can shatter us, that it’s hard to remember how awesome you are when people are telling you that you aren’t. 

Just in case you want a definition (and because I get all excited about sources), Bullying is defined by the American Psychological Association as:

Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.

Though all the authors’ stories in DEAR BULLY involve bullying (stunning!) there are differences in the stories too.

Some authors hurt more and more often. Some used the experience to advocate for good. Some couldn’t recover.

For every one of us in there, the story is our own, and it is different. But one of the biggest, and greatest truths in those stories is that each and every one of us survived. We all lived to tell our stories.

And if you are reading this right now, you have lived too. You have to keep on living and fighting and trying to remember that you are awesome. 

People hating you doesn’t change that you have worth.


People being violent towards you, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve respect, and tolerance and love.


People ignoring you on purpose, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to exist.

BULLYING ON MEDIUM?

It’s a decade later and there is still bullying everywhere. Obviously on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook and YouTube and TikTok, but it’s also even on writing platforms like Medium. On Medium editors of publications often rail against new writers and their lack of professional grammar skills.

Here’s the thing: Your expertise doesn’t give you the right to pull other people down, to rail against them, to crush their dreams.

We all do a lot better as humans and as a society when we applaud each other for trying and working and evolving.

I’m not sure why people don’t get that.

Here’s Robert’s story about what’s happened to him over there.

Robert was lucky because he was massively supported by other writers, but sometimes? Sometimes even when other people support you against your bullies, the angry, mean voices are the ones that continue to take up space in your head.

James Rodemeyer 

Right when Dear Bully came out. James Rodemeyer couldn’t take it any more. He was in a IT GETS BETTER PSA. He was 14, tormented with anti-gay taunts like this: 

“JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY,” it said in one post. “HE MUST DIE!”

And before he died, after a year of constant cyberbullying, he wrote on his blog in 2011, “I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens. What do I have to do so people will listen to me?”

We have to tell our stories, but we also have to be strong enough and empathetic enough to listen to other people’s stories.

And we have to stop hating. We have to stop thinking it is okay to post anonymous hate. We have to stop thinking that kindness doesn’t matter. Kindness matters. So much.

The world lost Jamie. It’s lost so many beautiful people. But it hasn’t lost Robert; it hasn’t lost those 70 authors in Dear Bully; it hasn’t lost me and it hasn’t lost you.

To read more about Jamey and the Cyberbully Census launched after his death and inspired by him, check out here and here.

What Can You Do?

You can think about whether or not you might be bullying people?

Do you tease a family member mercilessly even when they ask you to stop and say it’s just joking? Do you help people when they are being bullied? Do you know what you should do to help?

There are some great resources here and here and here. I hope you’ll check them out.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

How one ex-cop has mellowed out

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

Shaun squinting.

I recently read a Facebook post by someone who lives in my community about not letting love and kindness die in today’s confrontational world. This post struck me as important and also something that I have recently adopted. Actually, reinvigorated may be a better word for how I am approaching the “random acts of kindness” way of thinking.

Let me just say that I am not writing this as any type of ego-boosting or self-congratulatory dribble!

Every decent thought or act that passes through my brain and body is solely due to other people who have influenced my life. Most recently, and perhaps most greatly, that person would be my amazing wife, Carrie Jones. Before her there were others, my mother, my grandmother, and especially my grandfather, but all of the credit belongs to them, not really me.

So, here is the thing.

All of us, or at least most of us, seem to always be in a rush. Rushing here, rushing there, thinking only of ourselves and our own perceived priorities. I am almost always that person. I am the human who hates waiting in traffic or getting stuck talking to someone who wasn’t a previously planned contact.

These kind of events make get me perturbed, angry even, and it happens quickly, or at least it used to.

You can ask Carrie and she will tell you how I act when I am driving and other drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists don’t act or react in the way that I think is most efficient. It isn’t pretty!

We must take a quick commercial break for some backstory.

When I was in my early twenties, somebody once said that I was the most calm person they ever met. I was.

I was like a stoner who didn’t smoke weed. I rarely showed anger. I rarely cussed. I rarely ever let anyone see an emotional reaction that wasn’t calm.

Then I became a cop. Then I had a dysfunctional marriage (not with Carrie!). Then I became a high context person who didn’t even try to contain any negative emotion or reaction. If I was not in a good mood, everyone in the room would know it when I walked in without me even saying a word.

What a waste of a lot years that was!

Now we return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

It has taken me five years to shed that shell. But, I am super glad that I have.

Now Carrie may argue this point a bit … but there is a difference between public persona and intimate knowledge of a person . I will readily admit that I am still high context at home but hopefully, as I like to believe, it is not such a negative high context.

I am definitely enjoying being more mellow about life and all of the things that make us humans feel rushed all of the time. I don’t get mind-blowing, swear-word-inducing mad when traffic isn’t flowing at a constant ten miles per hour over the speed limit. I  am happy to stop and let someone pull out in front of me or cross the road in front of me. Even if they didn’t bother to walk the extra ten feet to actually get into the crosswalk!

I am trying not to mumble under my breath or dance in place with anger because the person at the self-checkout kiosk doesn’t have their crap together.

I am holding the door open for people again, even though we are still basically in a COVID crisis and half of the people I hold doors from have apparently not heard of masking.

And most importantly I am enjoying the reactions that I get from people who I stop for or hold a door for or even just say hello to in a nice voice. I like to believe that a “thank you” or a smile means that I have made someone’s life a little bit better. I don’t care if it makes them more happy for the rest of the day or for two minutes until they have to face their next crisis.

I did my part.

Just think what would happen, what a better place the world would be if we ALL did our part! Amazing!

So, give it a try. Mellow out and throw out some kindness and love, randomly! See how you feel after and pretend that the recipient feels one miniscule amount better because of it.

Remember to always Love Your Way Through It!

Peace,

Shaun

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

Play Projects for Writers – Find Joy in 30 Days

The process feels completely counter-intuitive at first because it requires that you stop fretting about your ideal work or how you could ever get paid – and start doing something.

Last month I decided that I was going to write a poem a day and post them on Medium.

This was a big deal for me because:

  1. My first published writing was poems even before I went into the newspaper world.
  2. I really wanted to be a poet when I grew up.
  3. I am super vulnerable when it comes to sharing my poems (even more than my art, actually).
  4. I have a lot of hang-ups about being a poet. Poets have a voice. I didn’t think I had one for a long time. I was too poor, too raw, too lacking in a million ways.

But I called it a play project and I did it. And it was so much fun. It was fun to take a break from novels and editing and coaching and just play at something totally different, something with no expectations.

A lot of writers I work with forget to play with their writing. They spend a lot of time fixated on one project or one purpose/goal—to get published, to get to 80,000 words, to get an agent.

That’s all lovely.

Until it isn’t.

Sometimes, our hyper-fixation on goals (when it comes to art or writing) and our desire to make a living at it, keeps us from playing and exploring and growing.

Some of us don’t want to grow or play and that’s fine, too! There’s no one way to be a writer and no one reason to and a lot of us only do it to make a living.

This post is probably not for those writers though. Sorry!

So what is this play project thing?

I first saw the idea in Marianne Catwell’s book, but it emerged at least a decade ago.

According to John Williams (from his website, Screw Work, Let’s Play):

The core of the programme is getting the participants to launch a play project – a 4 week project that will be fun to do and explores an area of work or creativity they feel drawn to. 

He continues by saying:

The process feels completely counter-intuitive at first because it requires that you stop fretting about your ideal work or how you could ever get paid – and start doing something. If you are stuck on that very first question “What would I enjoy?” you will benefit hugely from this. At a later stage, you can create further play projects to move you towards getting paid.

Here’s why Play Projects are the bomb-diggity:

You get into action at last so you don’t feel powerless over your life any more

You find out what you enjoy, what you don’t, what you’re good at, what you’re not so good at – all extremely useful information for your future work direction

It’s fun – you get your creative juices going again – and this is a much better state in which to make career decisions and make them happen. As one participant on our programme said “This has affected every area of my life – people are commenting that I haven’t looked this good in ages!”

Once you’re out in the world on the move, you meet a lot more interesting people and opportunities – sometimes you even land some paid work without really trying to!

What are the rules?

According to Marianne Cantwell and Williams:

  1. Pick a project that gets you excited.
  2. Make it something you can complete in 30 days.
  3. Have a tangible product at the end — Like three blog posts, 20 poems, 3 picture books.
  4. Make time for it. Put in 30 minutes a day or just three days a week. Be all Nike ad and “just do it.”
  5. Start

The key is to give yourself the freedom of thinking of these as mini projects, as play, but focused play. And then as you do it, it’s cool to ask yourself questions like:

Is this fun?

Why am I avoiding doing this?

Holy crud, do I hate this?

And for me? I found out that I loved writing poems every day.

Actually, I love it so much that I am still doing it (with weekends off) and I’m having the best time making new friends on MEDIUM (where I’m posting those poems) and exploring new groups of writers and poets and myself.

So, how about you? What’s your play project going to be?

You Should Start Your Own Publishing Company – Be Brave Friday

what if you started your own publishing imprint? You’ve already got a great platform, a well-developed brand and access to a ton of talented writers, many of whom, like me, are struggling to launch their stories into the world.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
You Should Start Your Own Publishing Company - Be Brave Friday
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IT’S BE BRAVE FRIDAY WHERE SHAUN OR I (FROM DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE AND LOVING THE STRANGE AND JUST BEING AN AUTHOR IN MAINE) SHARE PEOPLE’S UNEDITED, UNFILTERED STORIES, SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE THE BIG AND LITTLE BRAVE THINGS WE DO ALL THE TIME.

SOMETIMES WE DON’T EVEN REALIZE WE’RE BEING BRAVE.

I’ve been reading your stuff on Patreon and Medium and loving it, as always. I keep having this crazy idea pop up in my head, so I’m finally going to go out on a limb–it’s Be Brave Friday, right?–and ask you about it.

You’ve likely already thought about doing this. Also, it’s probably not realistic. Then again, maybe it would be amazing!

So here goes:  what if you started your own publishing imprint? You’ve already got a great platform, a well-developed brand and access to a ton of talented writers, many of whom, like me, are struggling to launch their stories into the world.

I’m so tired of reading excellent work by wonderful humans, but knowing it has little chance of reaching readers. Most authors barely have time to write, much less launch their own platforms, etc., even if they choose to self-publish. An imprint like yours could lend legitimacy to a whole swath of quirky life-affirming stories and help those stories reach the readers who need to hear them. 

I know that you’re already working 24/7 to create your own content and run your own business. And I imagine the benefits to you would be quite small, though ultimately something like this would likely give you some marginal financial returns and increase your visibility, too.

That being said, I’m looking for a cause to devote myself to, so I’d be more than willing to write up a mission statement/business proposal and contribute my time, talents and even some limited financial resources on an ongoing basis. I’m guessing a whole lot of gifted writers, editors and designers would be willing to do the same. I know, I know: this is a giant, wild and probably foolish idea, but it wouldn’t stop nagging me.

I love and admire you. I want your stories and stories like yours to reach everyone. I want good humans to flourish. And now I feel scared and silly for saying all of this aloud. But I said it anyway, and that’s a win, right? 

Sending you all kinds of love,


BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

The Game of WTF

On Thursday, my co-podcaster, Shaun, and husband guy, takes over the blog.

He’s adorable. I hope you’ll read what he says even if he does occasionally sound like a surfer dude from the 1990s or Captain Pontification. And no, we don’t always agree. 🙂

Today is one of those days where I can’t really think of anything to write! I was however, thinking of a game that would involve me thinking of a substantial number of thoughts that fit a certain rough description.

This rough description is WTF? It’s a game, only I have to think of all of the statements and/or questions. But, that’s alright, I am up to the challenge! Maybe. Where the “game” part come sin, I have no idea. Maybe I will figure it out, maybe I won’t.

Here we go.

You have a sore throat, a cough, maybe a fever and definitely a runny nose. You go to get a COVID test. You swab one nostril and pull it out. You make the huge mistake of looking at said swab and you are like, “You expect me to put that in my other nostril? WTF?”

You are doing a load of laundry. Something that you have been doing since you were thirteen when your mother told you that if you didn’t do your own laundry from now on you would not have clean clothes and after the seventh, and consecutive, item of clothing that you have had to turn right side out, you are like, “WTF?”

You look at your significant other when they don’t know you are looking at them so that you can really stare and study and you think to yourself, “How did I even get to this place? How on earth could I ever get so lucky? WTF?”

You are hanging with your just barely a teenager and they tell you that they have secretly known about the mechanics of sex for a few years now and you turn your head and silently mouth, “Holy crap, they are normal! WTF?”

Just so you know, I was strongly shut down on the birds and the bees talk a couple years ago. Now I know why.

I don’t know really. I find so many things about life, both huge and miniscule,  amazing. It’s even amazingly confusing!

Sometimes the bad seems good and sometimes the good seems bad. Sometimes the bad seems amazingly bad and sometimes the good seems amazingly good.

Sometimes it is good to realize that you are very lucky just to be here, living life, and able to tell the good from the bad!

Able to turn bad to good and able to make good better!

Able to make the best of the bad and the very bestest out of the good!

Cause I will tell you one thing people, you can’t help the hand that you were dealt, but you sure as hell can take a chance to make that hand better!

Remember to ALWAYS – LOVE YOUR WAY THROUGH IT!

Peace,

Shaun

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones (That’s me. If you click the image, it will bring you to the Amazon page!)

The third book in Rosie and Seamus’s story of adventure, mystery, and death is here!

I hope you’ll support me, have a good read, and check it out!

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

Sometimes the treasure is not worth the hunt . . . .

When a little boy goes missing on a large Maine island, the community is horrified especially almost-lovers Rosie Jones and Sergeant Seamus Kelley. The duo’s dealt with two gruesome serial killers during their short time together and are finally ready to focus on their romance despite their past history of murders and torment.

Things seem like they’ve gone terribly wrong. Again. Rosie wakes up in the middle of the woods. Is she sleepwalking or is something more sinister going on?

What at first seems like a fun treasure hunt soon turns into something much more terrifying . . . and they learn that things are not yet safe on their island or in their world. If they want to keep more people from going missing, Rosie and Seamus have to crack the puzzle before it’s too late.

To buy it, click here, and let me know! I might send you something!

He Built a Guitar Out of His Uncle’s Skeleton And Over-explaining Makes Bad Writing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
He Built a Guitar Out of His Uncle's Skeleton And Over-explaining Makes Bad Writing
/

Authors, let’s just admit it. We’re insecure.

Writing is communication and we want to make sure that our readers are getting what we’re putting down (Translation: Understanding what we’re saying).

So, what do we do?

We over-explain.

And that over-explaining slows down our pacing and makes our reader not want to read anymore.

There are lots of bigger ways of overexplaining.

And what is overexplaining? It’s when you just keep adding things on to make your reader get what you’re saying.

Like this:

Shaun punched the wall. He was so angry he could spit. His hands clenched into tight fists. “What kind of butthead are you?” he roared.

So, all four of those sentences tell us the same thing.

Shaun is angry.

You can cut down that to one or two and the reader is still going to get it. Trust the reader’s brains. Trust yourself.

Here’s a rewrite.

Shaun punched the wall. “What kind of butthead are you?”

But it’s not just in long passages that us writer people do this. We do it in short bits too.

Here are some big ones.

            She shrugged her shoulders. (She shrugged)

            He nodded his head in agreement. (He nodded) or (He agreed)

            They shook their head no. (They shook their head)

            He looked at his watch to check the time. (He checked the time)

Other things we do is

            Tell something that we just showed. (Shaun punched the wall. He was so angry.)

            Add in a dialogue tag that we don’t need, (the she said/they asked) when we don’t need it.

            Add in silly adverbs that we don’t need.

            Add in a bunch of statements all saying the same thing. (See that original example).

Acting like the reader is stupid. (Of course we know the person is nodding their head. We don’t think they are nodding their butt.)

            Info dumps

When you do this over-explaining thing you:

  1.  Slow down the pace
  2. Ruin the subtext.
  3. Break my heart.
  4. Make the scenes dull. Over-explaining takes out the pizzazz.
  5. It takes away the immediacy and the forward motion of the plot and scene.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Be all one and done, people. Trust the reader to get it. Trust your skills to communicate well.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE.

If you want a treat, sit in front of the pantry and drool on the floor.

LINKS WE TALK ABOUT IN THE PODCAST

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article254523322.html

https://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/article254523322.html

SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

And we have a new podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Here’s the link.

best positive podcast - Be brave friday
Send your Be Brave Friday stories to us here! Just hit the contact form or message us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com
best podcast ever
loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird

Full-time Writer and Thinker – Martin Vidal QuarterLife Crises Led to Full-time Writing Career

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Full-time Writer and Thinker - Martin Vidal QuarterLife Crises Led to Full-time Writing Career
/

I was lucky enough to interview author and writer, Martin Vidal, and pick his brain. I hope you’ll check out the video or podcast and give this man some props.

I hope you’ll listen to one of my favorite interviews yet with one of my new favorite people.

Here are some highlights to entice you to listen.

On Martin’s website he says that he loves to write and figure things out, which really struck a chord with me because that’s what I do, too.

Martin’s Ambition Handbook is all about self-examination and self-transformation. And it’s a bit more of a holistic look at how to find success rather than a listicle.

Decision making, the choices we each take, that seems to really matter to Martin and he speaks a bit to that and so much little

On our own podcast, we have a thing we do on Fridays called BE BRAVE FRIDAYS where we try to share other people’s bravery stories, stories where they stepped out of their comfort zone or the box they’d been put in. It can be little. It can be small. It can be huge.

Martin talks about one of the events in his life that he looks back on and thinks, “Whoa. I was really brave there.”

Spoiler: It’s that quarter-life existential crisis.

Martin’s other book, THE FLOWER GARDEN, is releasing soon and I got a bit of a peek and it’s just this lovely sauntering through the moments of humanity. He touches on narcissism, grief, love, so many things that matter. And in the podcast he tells us about how he moved from THE AMBITION HANDBOOK to THE FLOWER GARDEN?

We also talk about a great memory in his piece “Social Anxiety Made Me Who I Am” that I think a lot of us writers can relate to.

I remember at 9 years old when I did my first creative writing assignment. The teacher told us to write a paragraph or two starting with “I found an egg in the yard…” We had 30 minutes, if I recall correctly. I wrote three pages and would’ve gladly continued writing more. Whereas my anxiety had muzzled me, the written word flowed out in a torrent. The teacher loved my writing so much she insisted on reading it aloud. Once again, I went to hide in the bathroom while she did.

He wrote in that same piece:

But there’s something malfunctioning inside of me. I’m not afraid of people, but my body is. It tightens up; I lose my ability to focus, to be still — to be me. I can’t think of anything but to get away.

Maybe one of the big reasons I adore Martin is that he really embodies the Nelson Mandela quote

“Courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Where to find Martin:

Why Your Writing Might Be Too Good to Be Popular

https://martinvidal.co/social-anxiety

Website:

www.martinvidal.co

Books:

The Ambition Handbook

Flower Garden

On Medium:

https://martinvidal.medium.com/

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. 


Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Thanks so much for being one of the 263,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.