Things I’m Up To – Books and Poems and Podcasts and Interviews, Oh My?

I realized that I tend to never give update blogs — or at least I don’t in the way that marketers would want me to.

This is because I’m bad at talking about myself and my work.

But that changes for a hot second right now, my friends, and this is what I’m up to.

Feeling short is the #1 thing I’m up to
Still feeling short (but in a TARDIS).

WRITING BOOKS

I still have some books that will be coming out this fall/winter. And that’s a frantic/frenetic frenzy (look at that alliteration) of work.

What books?

Well, thanks for asking! Just kidding. I’m only pretending you’re asking.

October

THE THINGS WE SEEK

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.

November

ALMOST DEAD

This is an adult paranormal about a young woman who sees people’s deaths

Be ready to resurrect your love of the paranormal in the first novel in the Alisa Thea series—the books that give new meaning to quirky paranormal.

Alisa Thea is barely scraping by as a landscaper in small-town Bar Harbor. She can’t touch people with her bare skin without seeing their deaths and passing out, which limits her job and friendship opportunities. It also doesn’t give much of a possibility for a love life, nor does her overbearing stepfather, the town’s sheriff. Then along comes an opportunity at a local campground where she thinks her need for a home and job are finally solved . . .

But the campground and its quirky residents have secrets of their own: the upper level is full of paranormals. And when some horrifying murders hit the campground—along with a potential boyfriend from her past who may be involved—Alisa starts to wonder if living in a campground of paranormals will end up in her own death.

Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the first book of the Alisa Thea Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.

December

WHEN YOU BRING THEM BACK

This is a YA paranormal about a secret necromancer dealing with a family

Some secrets should stay buried.

Self-trained necromancer Snow secretly sells her services to raise the dead so that she can someday raise enough money to get out of her dead-end Maine island and away from her dead-head mom and her assortment of criminal friends.

But when she’s out raising Colonial Buck, Silas, the sexy golden boy of her high school tries to save her and is killed by a demon contained to cemeteries and who is collecting souls for his return to the world of the living. Distraught, Snow mourns Silas only to find him reanimated and trying to figure out how he could possibly be . . . dead?

A family curse.

An angry ex-girlfriend.

And Snow’s increasing desire for Silas complicates finding Silas his answers and stopping the demon.

If they can’t stop the demon from killing more people, it won’t be just their hearts that are broken, but the barrier between the living and the dead . . . forever.

January

THE PEOPLE WHO LEAVE

Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather’s mother walked off and left her and her kind stoner dad when she was just a little girl, but after a mysterious email leads to some serious questions, Dude and her friends realize that her mother might not have willingly abandoned them after all.

The third book in Carrie Jones’s exciting Maine mystery series forces Dude to grapple with the ghosts of her family’s past so that she can finally head towards a hopefully brighter future.

POEMS

My writing life started off as a poet. Yes! I know! Weird, right?

But poetry is what I first published and poems are where I express my anger and wonder and where I witness this world and try to find little, resonating truths.

So for August I started what I call a “fun project” with no expectations and started posting poems on Medium every day. It turned out to be terrifying and so much fun.

Getting poems back in my life earned me a whopping $5 on Medium, lol, but it gave me new friends and a new focus and outlet that I’ve missed so much.

If you want to go check them out, please do. I’m right (or write) here!

PODCASTS

And talking about MEDIUM, one of my new friends there is Martin Vidal and he’s going to be starting off our returning bonus podcast interviews for DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE this week! I’m so excited to introduce him and his marvelous mind and writing to you.

Martin’s going to be kicking off a series of new and established writers (of a bunch of genres) interviews. I hope you’ll check them out and give the authors some love.

Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Throwing Poop on Your Landlord, Demon Texts, and Making Happy Endings
/

Carrie reads a lot of novels in progress and helps writers make those novels better and one of the big things that happen that keep a book from being super star status is an unsatisfying ending.

Yes. Yes, that is about books, not sex, Shaun. But some of the same principles apply to both.

You want your ending to be satisfying even if it’s an unhappy ending.

So, how do you make your ending satisfying?

Ah, just like the copulation, it’s all about fulfilling your promises to the reader in the lead-up to that ending, right?

Your reader has been hanging out with you for 50,000 words at least (usually) and that means that you owe them what you’ve promised them–a complete story with a damn fine ending.

Here are the things to know:

The character at the end of the book should have changed enough to react to the events in a way that they wouldn’t have reacted on page 10.

Most books that are satisfying have a main character that changes. They evolve (positive change arc) or devolve (negative change arc). Their situation is different at the end of the book and you, the author, want to recognize that and show us readers — WOW! Look at how Sparty the Dog is so much stronger now. He’s dealing with that squirrel in a way he never would have on page 10.

All the events that have happened prior to the climax and the ending have made Sparty the dog that’s able to handle his arch nemesis like a boss.

There needs to be emotional growth (or regression) in your main character at the end of this story.

And this growth at the ending has to be shown in the gorgeous story in between the beginning and the ending.

If we imagine the story as three acts, then the ending is where we see how Act One (the set-up, who the character used to be, their original want) and Act Two (where the character’s world changes and they proactively go after their wants, messing up, succeeding, learning and evolving) makes the character who they are now.

Do they get the girl? Save the world? Defeat the evil demon? Throw poop on their landlord?

Do they come to terms with grief?

The ending matters because of everything in the story that the hero has gone through to get there.

They have to earn that ending and when they do? Oh, boy, is it satisfying.

The Ending Doesn’t Matter Much if You Don’t Make It Matter

You want to give your readers the answers to the questions that exist in your story. No loose ends. No mysteries that just end with a ‘to be continued’ because you’ve hit 70,000 words.

It is all about satisfying the reader. If you promise the reader a sexy romance and there’s no sex and the significant other slinks off on the last page to go wrestle guinea pigs in Ireland with someone else? You’re breaking that promise to the reader and totally not satisfying. You are being a bad lover. I mean writer.

Nobody wants that.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Think about what your reader wants. Aim to please your lover/reader.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Sparty says it’s more satisfying to earn your treat rather than just be given the treat. The journey makes the ending more satisfying.

LINKS MENTIONED

https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/priest-demons-figured-text-messages-24898111

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2020/12/28/23-of-the-strangest-things-that-happened-in-florida-in-2020/

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.

Writing With Dogs Who Slobber: The Three Secrets to Awesome Characters

So, you’re probably looking at the blog post title up there and thinking, “What?”

Stay with me a second; I’ll explain, I swear. I’m going to boil down the basic elements of crafting a good story by using my rescue dog, Gabby.

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Gabby is the sort of dog who people love or hate.

Gabby is the sort of dog that lets children climb all over her and hug her and kiss her nose.

Gabby is also the sort of dog who judges people by smell.  

If you have alcohol on your breath, she will sneeze and then bark at you. If you are male and have ever had a serious time taking cocaine and you are in my house? She’ll bark incessantly at you and never stop even if your cocaine use was over a decade ago.

So, why am I mentioning this?

Gabby is a conflicted character. You want a character like Gabby in your story.

IMG-1613

A conflicted character is a dog or person with a goal. There is a motivation for that goal and a conflict.

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Gabby’s goal is to keep me safe. She is super focused on making sure nothing happens to me or her dog brother Sparty or her cat sisters, Marsie, Cloud and Koko.

Her motivation? Probably because I feed her or because she’s a Great Pyrenees, and that breed’s instinct and training is to keep her charges happy and safe. We are basically her sheep.

IMG_9899Marsie insists she is nobody’s sheep, but I have seen Gabby carry her around the house. She is totally a sheep. 

And it might be because Gabby was abused as a puppy and spent her first year chained to a tree, always chained to a tree, never off a tree. She came to us small, terrified, malformed and malnourished. This is her backstory. All characters have backstories, the what happened before we meet them, the what happened that made them who they are when the story begins.

When Em and I picked up Gabby in Cambridge, Gabby was beyond terrified.

Every car was about to run her down. Every person was about to hit her. I sunk to her level and she pushed herself against me. Her ears were infected and full of pain. Everything about her was pain. But there was something else there. It was fear and want and need. She wanted to be loved so badly. She wanted to love back.1930658_10154095751489073_788625899982421964_n

The entire time we were in Cambridge she didn’t bark once.

The entire car ride back and the whole first week? She never barked.

“I have a miracle dog. It is a silent Great Pyrenees,” I told everyone.

The vet laughed.

The rescue organization people laughed.

I was so wrong.

Gabby started being able to sleep with both eyes closed. Gabby’s ears got better. We got her surgery on her knee. She took walks without being afraid that trees were going to fall on her, without thinking that every car held a monster inside of it that would hurt her.

She ate, but she would never fill out.

And she barked.

She barked at everyone who reminded her of where she used to be. She barked at dogs she didn’t know. She barked and jumped and tried to be as threatening looking as possible when she is easily the dog least likely to ever bite a human and most likely to snuggle. You know when experts say dogs hate hugs? Gabby would let you hug her all day.

Actually, Gabby’s dream day would just to be constantly hugged. 

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So, she’s got a lot of back story there?

What’s the conflict for Gabby or for your characters?

The conflict is the struggle. The conflict is how the reader engages with the character. It’s why the reader keeps reading. It’s how empathy is built. It’s how story is built.

So every character has this trifecta of things: 

Goal

Motivation

Conflict

As a writer, if you muck this up? You’re story will be flat.

As a dog friend/owner, if you don’t realize that your dog’s goal might conflict with a happy silence that comes with a life without barking? You’re going to have an unhappy dog.

So, Gabby’s trifecta of character is:

Wants to stop threats by barking (goal) because she wants to keep her happy home and the creatures within it safe (motivation we all understand), but everyone gets a headache when she thinks squirrels are threats and barks too much at them (conflict).

Meg’s in A Wrinkle in Time is:

Wants to get her dad back (goal) because who doesn’t want to get someone awesome back (motivation that is pretty understandable if your dad rocks), but dude, she has to travel through time and deal with this great darkness, basically like all the evil in the universe because why not (conflict).

But what makes a character conflicted?

Basically anything that stands in the way of her goal.

This can be herself (Gabby wonders if barking is her true calling and doubts herself – an internal conflict).

This can be others (The neighbors call the police because of Gabby’s barking – an external conflict).

This can be the environment (Gabby is in space and cannot bark because there is no sound. Horror! – a conflict caused by setting).

19059937_10155503940174073_8046077922293186764_n

 

Writing Tip

Make sure your  main character has that trifecta of conflict, motivation, goal.

Writing Prompts- 

Write about wanting to sing when you have to be quiet.

Write about wanting to tell a secret.

Write about being a zombie who is allergic to meat.

Do Good MONday – 

So, I wrote a lot about Gabby being a rescue dog. All my dogs have been. If you have the money, consider donating to a dog rescue. If you have the time and space and need and love, consider adopting. If you have the time, find a rescue near you and be a volunteer. I’ve done home visits and photos for rescues. If you don’t have any of these things, but have social media, share a rescue’s site or a post about a dog (or cat or gecko). You could be the step that helps bring a dog like Gabby to her forever home. Even the smallest things help.

Here are the rescues where I got Sparty the Dog and Gabby the Dog.

New England Lab Rescue

National Great Pyrenees Rescue

And this rescue is possibly my favorite one.

Big Fluffy Dog

 

Random Marketing Things

 

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Interplanetary Love, Massive Bathtub Ducks, and Sexy Subtext

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Interplanetary Love, Massive Bathtub Ducks, and Sexy Subtext
/

Let’s talk about subtext. And to talk about it, we’ve got to define that baby. So here goes.

Masterclass defines subtext as:

“In day-to-day life, there are often wide gaps between what people say and what they are thinking. These gaps can collectively be referred to as subtext—and they are valuable territory for fiction writers. Ernest Hemingway, who relied on subtext in his minimalistic approach to writing, even coined a term for it: the Iceberg Theory. He believed deeper meanings of character and plot should live below the surface of the text, just as the bulk of an iceberg floats beneath the surface of the water.”

And Merriam-Webster says:

A literary text often has more than one meaning: the literal meaning of the words on the page, and their hidden meaning, what exists “between the lines”—the subtext. Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, for example, is about the Salem witchcraft trials of the 17th century, but its subtext is the comparison of those trials with the “witch hunts” of the 1950s, when many people were unfairly accused of being communists. Even a social conversation between a man and a woman may have a subtext, but you may have to listen very closely to figure out what it is. Don’t confuse subtext with subplot, a less important plot that moves along in parallel with the main plot.

And there are different types as defined by literary.net

Privilege Subtext

Privilege subtext is subtext in which the audience has certain privileges over the characters in a narrative. In other words, the audience is aware of something the characters are not aware of. For example, imagine a character who has three missed calls from her mother. We as readers cringe as we know she is about to find out her sister has been in a car crash which we have seen but she is not yet aware of.

Revelation Subtext

Revelation subtext is subtext that reveals a certain truth over time throughout a story, leading up to a revelation. For example, imagine a boy who has been trying to figure out what he wants to do when he grows up. He considers firefighting, being a policeman, or even being an actor. Throughout his childhood, though, he enjoys drawing, painting, and sculpting for fun. The revelation subtext here is that his hobby has been his calling all along: he will become an artist.

Subtext through Promise

Subtext through Promise is subtext in which an audience expects certain promises to be kept by the author. In other words, the audience expects the story to run as stories usually do: the audience expects a plot that makes sense and is weaved together, characters who have revelations and change meaningfully, and symbols and motifs which make sense and suit the story. When an author fails to please the audience in this way, the story is considered poorly written or disappointing due to the subtext.

Subtext through Questions

Subtext through Questions is subtext created when readers and audiences have questions about a story, such as how a plot is developing or what a character will do. Naturally, such questions arise in a well-written story as a form of unwritten subtext.

Wow. Right? And of course, we do this all the time in real life too. We argue with our spouses about the proper way to put dishes in the dishwasher, but what we’re really arguing about is how one of us called the other one a dork or something. In a lot of our lives, we have to infer the meaning of things underneath the words that people say or the actions that they do.

Why do we want subtext in our stories?

It’s a bit like showing versus telling. Subtext allows the reader to make connections and learn about the characters and their yearnings and motivations and wants without yelling, “HEY! MY NAME IS SHAUN AND WHAT I WANT IS THE SEX.”

Cough.

Subtext is actually very sexy. It’s the driving force behind some parts of your story, the blank space where readers get to have an a-ha moment! It’s the epiphany your reader gets to have rather than you saying, “DOH! READER, HE IS LONGING HERE!”

It’s almost like a continuum.

Show is better than tell.

And subtext might be greater than showing.

Subtext is invisible, but real, kind of like the air. You need it to survive. Why? Because it makes the reader participate in the scene rather than just read it. Their brains are turned on. How cool is that? They get to interpret things.

You can build it into your story by:

  1. Understanding their characters and what they really want and are motivated by.
  2. Thinking about ways that characters can talk around what it is they want. If Shaun wants sex and says, “I want sex,” then there is no subtext. If he never mentions sex while trying to get it? Then you’ve got subtext.
  3. Show the characters’ wants and the subtext through emotion rather than explicit dialogue. If Shaun stares longingly at two people canoodling in a car? That shows his want in the subtext.
  4. Double meanings and evasions. When people are talking and there’s more one way to interpret something? That can be subtext. When they refuse to talk about something? Or when they turn away every time a certain someone comes in a room? That can be subtext.

In order to have subtext you need to:

  1. Give your characters things they want. They might not even realize they want whatever it is they want, but you, the all-knowing writer, do.

Thinking about that means that:

  • Give your character something they don’t want other people to know right then (if they know themselves that they have a want).

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Subtext is sexy

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

It’s okay to be subtle sometimes.

LINKS

https://allthatsinteresting.com/abbie-bela

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.

Sea Snakes Humping and Three Principles of Good Writing

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Sea Snakes Humping and Three Principles of Good Writing
/

When I started being a reporter, one of my editors took me aside and gave me some candy and two books. One was the AP Style Guide, which is the manual for all the punctuation rules our newspaper followed.

The other was a book by E.B. White and William Strunk Jr., called The Elements of Style. My editor had met E.B. White who had a farm on the same peninsula that he did.

“This,” he told me, “is all you need to know.”

In that small book was a section called “The Elementary Principles of Composition,” and I’m not sure if it was all I needed to know as a writer, but I am positive that it was a pretty big deal.

So we thought we’d share three of those principles during this podcast. The first one is:

Make the paragraph the unit of composition: one paragraph to each topic.”

Writers blow this off all the time, but we shouldn’t. We especially blow it off with dialogue and that’s a big no-no.

Why is it a no-no?

Our brains are wired to think of paragraphs as a single idea or an action or a bit of dialogue. You don’t want to clump it all together because it gets confusing.

Sally smiled. “I love her,” Jane said. They each took a bite of calzone and gazed upon the manatee. Sally said, “Dogs are fun.”

You’ve got no idea what’s going on here really.

Sally smiled.

“I love her,” Jane said.

They each took a bite of calzone and gazed upon the manatee.

Sally said, “Dogs are fun.”

Now you do. Each new speaker always gets a new paragraph for dialogue.

Here’s another principle.

“As a rule, begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning.”

They go a bit on and on about this actually.

And our third one for today is once again back to the passive voice.

“Use the active voice. The active voice is usually more direct and vigorous than the passive:”

They then give these examples.

“I shall always remember my first visit to Boston.”

This is much better than

“My first visit to Boston will always be remembered by me.

The latter sentence is less direct, less bold, and less concise. If the writer tries to make it more concise by omitting “by me,”

“My first visit to Boston will always be remembered,”

it becomes indefinite: is it the writer, or some person undisclosed, or the world at large, that will always remember this visit?”

S and W

We talk about passive and active voice a lot in another podcast episode. And we’ll be sharing more of these tips in our three week series, Strunk and Whiting It. No, that’s not really the name.  We have no name for it.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Allow yourself to take advice from the masters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE.

Don’t be a schmuck.

RESOURCES AND ARTICLES MENTIONED

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/sexually-frustrated-sea-snakes-mistaking-24811140

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/weird-news/man-claims-hotel-needs-ghost-24809705

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.

Being True to Your Authorial Voice

This week we’ve been talking about dialogue and voice, but we haven’t really talked about the most important part–being true to your own voice.When I edit other writers’ works, I always get worried about editing out their voice, their style, who they are in the world and on the page.

You must promise me that you won’t ever let an editor do that to you.


When my first book came out in 2007, one reviewer talked about how authentic the voice was because I was such a young writer straight out of high school.

Spoiler: I wasn’t. I had a twelve-year-old.

When I got an award for that same book, the governor’s wife presented it and said, “Carrie! How lovely! What high school do you go to?”

Do I go to? Present tense go to?

That was—um—an awkward ceremony where I’m pretty sure what I blurted, “What—um—no? I’m old. I’m old!”

But my voice? It isn’t. And my characters’ voices? They usually aren’t either.

They often come from my New England poor (with fancy relatives) background. I grab things from my Portuguese family and my widowed mother who was brilliant and one of my dad’s Staten Island Jewish background. That’s all part of what formed me and what formed my writing style and my speaking style, too.

That isn’t always cool—especially in the world of poetry in the 1990s and early 2000s. It works great for sports reporting though.

Sometimes though, I heard that my voice wasn’t quite sophisticated enough. That’s usually code for classism or some other kind of -ism.

It’s hard to talk about writing about dialogue and character voice and authorial voice without talking about hostility.

If you are from a “disadvantaged” class or systematically oppressed group, and you write in your own language and your own way there are always going to be people who either:

  1. Won’t read you.
  2. Be scathing about how your voice is not rich enough or lyrical enough or something enough.

You have to make some choices. You can either care. Or not. You can either push down that authentic voice and conform or not.

I hope you’ll choose the not even though that’s harder and tougher.

But your voice, your sentence structure, your word choice and your style don’t need to be fancy or one ethnic/racial/class/religion/sexuality/gender to deserve to be heard.

You deserve to be heard. And your characters do, too.

There is great strength in diverse stories and diversity in voice and experience. It’s something that enriches all of us, pulls us closer to empathy and heart, resonates with its truth. I’m betting that’s the kind of writer you want to be and those are the stories that you want to write. And I’m absolutely rooting for you.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Losing my Rings and my Balance

Friday night I took my rings off during the podcast because they were making noises—small noises—against my wooden desk.

Noises like that can be annoying.

I wear three rings, the typical wedding band duo and a clear ring from ETSY that has tiny flowers in them. You can’t really see the flowers unless I take the rings off because they match my skin. You can just see the glint of the gold paint that the artist used to make the flowers’ centers stand out. The glint reminds me of pixie dust, which reminds me of my NEED series, which is how my relatives will get to write “New York Times” and “international” bestseller on my obituary.

This morning, I woke up and went to my desk. The wedding ring duo sat there right by my hot pink sticky note of all the things I had to do this Saturday to keep my family sheltered and in food, but the clear ring was gone.

“The cats must have taken it,” Shaun the Spouse said. “We’ll never see that again.”

“Don’t say that!”

He shrugged.

The ring isn’t like my other rings. It’s barely there, unobtrustive, a memory of something that was a big deal once. When I got it for Mother’s Day, I almost cried. It made nose against my skin somehow. The heavy thickness of it created a weight that seemed to ground me in remembering that I had a right hand too, not just a left and that it was okay to have balance in both hands, both sides of your life—that balance was possible even when it felt like a far-off impossible thing.

Up here in Maine, on an island that’s so large some people (usually tourists) forget it’s not attached to land, almost to the Canadian border, I have a hard time fitting in even though this island is pretty forgiving about weirdness, about wearing fleece, wearing pearls, about never wearing make-up, about believing in God or not, Hell or not, people or not, politicians or not, love or not.

There aren’t a lot of jobs here unless you want to work in restaurants or retail in the summer. Nonprofit workers move from one small place to another. Scientists work at one of two labs. People take care of the wealthy people’s summer estates and a dwindling few lobster or work construction.

And me? I write, alone, at my desk. I edit other writers, staring at their pages, living their stories. I make a podcast. I coach writers. My life is at a computer. And I love it. But there’s no balance. No outside. Even when I paint I do it inside in the basement. Without my ring I’m reminded of that.

So, today, this Saturday that the ring was gone, I stepped away from the computer, swept all the floors looking for it. Nothing. I gave up, made blueberry muffins from Covid-19 inspired sourdough starter that a bookstore owner gave to me a year ago. Nothing. I walked on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Painted for fifteen. Nothing. No balance no ring. I went outside, pulled tomatoes and cucumbers that I barely remembered planting, came back inside to work, stared at the blank page and then—my ring, my glinty ring, right there on my finger.

I texted my husband.

“No way,” he texted back. “Did you just not notice before?”

Maybe.

I told one of my favorite writers students via email this weekend, “ I’m trying to re-remember who I am. I know that sounds weird. But I used to be married to a hospital CEO from old money and I realized I lost a lot of my ‘adventure in the woods,’ write poetry and nonfiction self. And it’s been ages but I’m finally getting it back, I think.”

And they said, “Carrie I fully believe and support you in this journey but I must also remind you that at least one if not several summers that I have known you, you have lived at a campground. While I know this has not been the case during the pandemic, it is still indicative of the core nature you have described.”

I gasped. I love them so much.

Sometimes, I think, we become so focused on things like not fitting in or not having a work-life balance that we don’t realize that maybe we do. Maybe we do fit in. Maybe we do have some balance. That our right hand is there along with our left. All my life, I’ve been afraid of not getting enough done, and that’s not going to change, but I can maybe realize that what I do get done can be fun. That’s balance. But more than that? That’s good.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

We are TOO Angry to Podcast Plus So Many Ways to Plot Your Story

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
We are TOO Angry to Podcast Plus So Many Ways to Plot Your Story
/

I (Carrie) was at a conference one time and hanging out with a bunch of celebrity young adult authors. One author said he wrote everything down in an outline form first.

Another author said that she wrote expressly to the Save the Cat beatsheet.

And I said, “I just kind of write.”

They gasped. I ordered a drink with actual alcohol in it and another writer saved me by saying, “I, like Carrie, just write after doing decades of research in a dark and lonely hole in my basement drinking only Post-um mixed with grape Fanta and crying the tears of salty mirth while trying to contact Dickens on my Ouija board.”

I kid! I kid! Nobody tried to save me. They just gasped.

So, here’s the thing: some writers just write. They don’t plot first. They just write and hope for the best.

I, Carrie, am oft. en one of those writers. We vomit it all out on the page and watch the structure form. And sometimes? Sometimes we have to revise a lot because of this.

And some writers can’t start until they’ve got the whole story nicely plotted out in intricate details.

And some writers are somewhere in between.

You might not even write the same way every time. Some books you might plot out completely. Some books you might not plot at all. Some books you might get to 40,000 words and scream and yank out the beat sheet from Save the Cat and drink whiskey straight and roll around on your floor amongst the tumbleweeds of dog fur and cry.

Cough.

No personal experience there or anything. But when you do get stuck, it’s good think of how to work out your plot. Here are a couple ways.

OLD SCHOOL BABY.

You make an outline. You use Roman numerals. You write it all down. Act 1, 2, 3. Chapters. Scenes. You feel proud that you remember things from when you were in grade school. You are proud of your beautiful ability to be linear.

OLD SCHOOL BACKWARDS

You do the outline but you do it backwards because you know the ending but you just don’t know how to get there.

THE GENERALIST

You write the beginning, the middle, the end. Maybe you write down the big horrifying moment where everything sucks for your character. There. You’re good.

BEATING IT

This is intricate man. This is the way you tell each beat in each scene. It’s going to be a lot of pages. You’re basically writing the book without the dialogue or a lot of setting.

CHARACTER ARCING IT

You’re just writing about your characters and what happens to them. How do they evolve and transform.

IT IS ALL IN THE MIND.

You make adorable bubbles and connect words to ideas. It’s adorable like you.

IT IS ALL TALK

You say to your character, “Hey, tell me what happens.” Then you write the dialogue of the characters telling you what happens.

PINTEREST IT

Some of us like images and pictures to help us plot. We might cut things out of magazines if we actually still have magazines or we might use Pinterest.

WHITE BOARDS AND INDEX CARDS AND SPREADSHEETS

These sexy beast are like binders. They organize your thoughts and then allow you to reorganize your thoughts again and again.

I HAVE A TEMPLATE AND I KNOW HOW TO USE IT!

Some writers find these super restrictive and some writers want to give them a massive smooch and cuddle with them on the couch in front of a warm fire. Save the Cat, Joseph Campell, the Six-Act Structure are all adorable and sexy templates you can use when you want to get your story to work.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Usually we plot so that we have a way to go, a roadmap. Some of us just like to drive. It doesn’t matter. There’s no one damn way to write your novel.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

You get to live your life according to your rules, your wants and thoughts and needs.

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.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

The Dreaded -Ing

When I was a baby newspaper reporter, one of my editors, Grady Holloway, used to call me over to his desk. A lot.

I loved Grady. He had this great, grizzly beard before it was cool, wore a dirty hat, had been married to an ambassador’s daughter, rode horses, drove cab in Colorado when all the beat poets and journalists were out there, and like noir mysteries.

But whenever he pulled me over to his big metal desk in the newsroom, I knew that I was about to get advice.

“Cici,” he’d say with this perfect, gruff whiskey voice, “you’re a great writer, but have you ever thought about . . .”

And then he’d tell me something I hadn’t thought about.

Passive verbs.

Starting sentences strong with the important stuff first.

The dreaded -ing

-Ings are addictive like all sexy grammatical elements are. They might not be as addictive as the debonair em-dash (—) or the lovely ellipses (…) or the goddess we know as the parenthetical ( ), but they are pretty close.

When you put -ing at the end of a verb that verb becomes progressive. You feel like the verb is happening right now in the present even if your tense is the past.

Like this . . .

She was running, breathing hard and fast, shallow breaths that couldn’t quite make it all the way into her lungs. Running so that he wouldn’t catch up. And the ground was breaking beneath her, dead people’s hands reaching through the woods’ surface, fingers trying to clutch her sneakers, her ankles, even the laces. Anything.

Scary, right? Or, um . . . kind of?

Now let’s see that without the -ings on there.

She ran, her breath hard and fast, shallow breaths that couldn’t quite make it all the way into her lungs. She ran so that he wouldn’t catch up. And the ground broke beneath her. Dead people’s hands reached through the woods’ surface. Fingers tried to clutch her sneakers, her ankles, even the laces. Anything.

Wait. They both kind of work, don’t they? Absolutely. Sometimes you want to use those -ings for impact. But just like the em-dash, ellipses, and parenthical statements, there can be too much of a good thing.

Crying because of the creepy man racing after for her terrifying minutes, Carrie raced through the woods trying to get away and breathing out heavily even as horrifying zombie hands reached through the dirt and pine needles, hoping to grasp her shoes and bringing her down beneath the surface with them.

You can see the difference now right? We have present participles, adjectives, progressive verbs and even a gerund. Those -ings are doing a lot of work here and there’s just too darn many of them.

And what happens in that passage? The reader starts to get bored. It doesn’t feel fluid. The mind sort of numbs from all those -ings. And the bleed into each other, blending.

Yes, yes, I know! Blending has an -ing.

Now, let me try to do it without -ings.

She cried. She ran through the woods, each breath a prayer, an intake of hope as her feet raced across the pine needles. He was close. Too close. The thud of his footsteps pounded after her. The dirt trembled but not from her. Hands. Dead, decayed hands somehow broke through the hard ground. One poked up just as her sneaker hit the ground. It reached for her. Missed. Another tried. Another.

Different again, right? Same scene. No -ings.

It’s pretty cool when you can see the difference of tone and feel that happen just by playing with one tiny element of the language. Give it a try! Go find your -ings and play with them.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Everyone Wants a Piece of You – Including Us Writers

We live, if we ever let ourselves to really live, to hope, to fear, to elegies of beauty and pain, terror and hate.

A woman on the street, a tourist, shepherding her family past the t-shirt shops and towards the ice cream shop said in a loud enough voice for everyone around to hear. “You can’t be too careful in this world. Everyone wants a piece of you.”

Maybe.

Or do we all want a piece of everyone?

I live in farmhouse in the middle of town across the back dirt lot of our local YMCA and in between a house under construction for about ten years and another that seems to be part of a magical landscape, blending in with boulders and spruce and grass. It’s a good place to hermit without seeming like a hermit because this world doesn’t want hermits, does it? It wants people to explode onto scenes, to reach tall and high like seedlings in the summer garden, hoping to capture the sun.

People tend to think of that want—the discovery, the authenticity, the soul-brightness—as something to hermit away from and we tend to shy down our true selves to fit in.

When the woman on the street wrapped an arm around one of her sons, he had the face of adolescent horror, eyes wide and moving back and forth to see if anyone had heard, still hoping that his connection with his mother wasn’t quite so obvious, maybe? He ducked under her arm.

I have no idea if that’s what he was thinking or if that was what his mother was thinking. But he ducked under arm and without a beat, she grabbed the hand of the other child and tugged him forward. His stride quickened, little legs trying to keep up.

The boy’s glance hit mine. I smiled. He didn’t smile back. I wanted to tell him that he was safe from me, that I didn’t want a piece of him, but here I am now, days later, writing about him, which makes me wonder, maybe I do?

Why do we notice the things we notice? Why can I remember the brown, horrified eyes of that boy?

Another kid was sitting on a bench near us with his parents watching it all. His parents were on their phones. He just sat there doing nothing for at least twenty minutes, but when he saw that other kid, he smiled like a tiny bit of encouragement and this time, that original boy smiled back.

Van Gogh allegedly once said, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Sometimes that love blossoms from a smile, a recognition, a seeing, a noticing.

Artists, writers, lovers want pieces of understanding and from that understanding (or even from the lack of it) love comes.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

How beautiful is it that writers and artists and people allow their souls to crawl out from hiding, to sprawl and lift images on canvasses and pages and in offerings of expression and sympathy as they give the world a piece of them freely. That’s a big kind of love and a big kind of trust. And it happens over and over again.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.