Interview with the amazing author Anne Marie Pace – Bonus Podcast Episode

Interview with the amazing author Anne Marie Pace – Bonus Podcast Episode

 
 
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Hey! Welcome to a bonus interview episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the usually quirky podcast that gives writing tips and life tips. I’m Carrie Jones and with me today is Anne Marie Pace

Anne Marie Pace!

Anne Marie is an authenticity rock star. She’s the author of Vamperina Ballerina, Pigloo, Sonny’s Tow-truck, human-parent to animals and humans. She likes to read, cook, do some fine choral singing and be an all-around great friend. Anne Marie, it is so great for you to be here. 

We talk about the inspiration for Vampirina Ballerina, a vampire who wants to take ballet lessons, cats who throw up and dogs who eat it, openness and mental health and being authentic even on social media.

I hope you’ll give it a listen and support one of the coolest writers around.

Find out more about Anne Marie at her website.

Okay, well, my website is annemariepace.com, her Twitter is AnneMariePace, and her Vampirina page is http://www.facebook.com/VampirinaBallerina


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 230,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

This week’s episode.

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Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story

Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story

 
 
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A lot of writing coaches talk about story structure and plots and inciting incidents, which is all well and good but Carrie is burnt-out this week. 


Carrie: I have worked too hard and my brain is broken. 

So, instead we are going to tell you what NOT to do. We are going to be the story police and harsh out the rules. 

Carrie: I don’t like rules or broken brains, but let’s do this. 

What Not To Do According To Conventional Wisdom Right Now

Do not start with dialogue.

This used to be super popular, but MySpace also used to be super popular. Things go out of style and it is not super popular anymore. 

Here’s an example: 

             “I like elephants.”

                        “Awesome. Me too.”

                        “No way?”

                        “Actually, I am lying.” 

EXAMPLE OF AWESOME

You’ve no clue who is talking, where they are or why they do or don’t like elephants and you probably don’t care. We want readers to care from the very beginning of the story.

An alarm clock buzzing. 

Who even has an alarm clock anymore, actually? But no alarm clocks or cell phone alarms or whatever. Waking up is dull. 

            My alarm buzzed and I groaned. 

                        “Another day, another dollar,” I said to my cat, Muffin. 

                        Muffin hit me in the nose with her paw. She’s tired of my clichés. 

Another Example of Awesome

The whole IT WAS ALL A DREAM start.

Unless this is a paranormal or fantasy where the dream is a key part of the power or the threat? Then it’s okay even if people say ‘never ever.’

Cough. You don’t want to be super invested in a story and then find out that it was all crap and not real even to the character. 

Amazing thing happens. More amazing things happen. More amazing things happen for five pages. Oops. It’s all a dream. 

Example of dreamy

Being dorky without meaning to. 

This is when you accidentally make a super silly mistake or state something obvious in the very beginning of your story. Gasp! I know! You would never do that, right?

Spoiler alert: We all do this.

She knew she had to wear a mask in a pubic place.

Try to avoid the typos.

“I love to love you,” I think to myself.

This is an example. We all think to ourselves. Cut the ‘to myself.’

All narrative all the time. 

There is no dialogue anywhere in the first ten pages of this story and instead everything is just a solid block of text in which I, the author, tells you exciting things – well at least they are exciting to me – about the story, but honestly it’s just a lot of navel gazing. Did you know that people get lint in their navels? Did you know that a lot of that lint is actually random fibers from your clothes, if you wear clothes, and dead skin, and then it gets stuck there and mixes all up together. I wonder if you care. I wonder if you care that I care. And so on.

Agh. Did you even read this example? It ruined our SEO readability score.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t start off on the wrong writer foot. 

Dog Tip for Life

It’s okay to start over.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 222,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.

This week’s episode.

Continue reading “Broken Brains and Where Shouldn’t You Start Your Story”

Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19

I am an optimist and I believe that people will be someday at writing conferences again feeling awkward and so in preparation for that, I’m giving all you all some tips. You ready?

Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19

Understand that people will hug you.

A lot. They will hug you a lot. This is cool if you like hugs (I do).

If you don’t like hugs you may want to not use your deodorant that day or wear something prickly around your neck like a porcupine. That’s about all that will dissuade children’s writers set for a hug.

Do not feel like a big loser because everyone else seems like they know everyone else and they are all best friends.

They are just pretending.

Pretend too. Go stand by people. Nod.

Realize that pretending works because they all think you are a social media friend who has an icon or avatar that is not their actual face but a giant toenail or perfected carbonized version of themselves.

If they ask you if you are another writer who is cooler than you are? Nod.

If they catch you because you did not remember that the other author has a dog named Fluffy who tends to bite school bus drivers in the elbow, just nod again and say, “I was pretending. I was doing research on a YA character who is a compulsive liar and adopts the identities of total strangers as a way to deal with weight issues.”

They are writers. They will understand.

Realize that they will possibly hug you again in solidarity over the fact that you are so into your writing that you do compulsive liar reasearch at conferences.

Open your arms. Hug them back.

Seriously though, when you are at a conference or convention, remember to embrace and include other people. Don’t talk over them. Listen to their words. Make sure everyone has a chance to speak, to interact, to be included. When you don’t? You’re oppressing them and you’re losing the possibility of meeting a new friend or at least hearing a new take on things, or a perspective from someone’s mouth that isn’t yours. That’s what writing and communication is all about. It goes both ways.

Continue reading “Tips on Attending a Writing Conference for Children’s Writers When It Isn’t the Time of Covid-19”

First Kisses and ACDC Woman

I am now going to begin a series of first kiss blogs. Is this merely a way to prove that I have indeed been kissed? 

Well, sort of…

What does this have to do with writing???

A lot. I’ve recently realized that while none of my characters are me, that I occasionally use back-story incidents( that I’ve manipulated a lot) of my life to fill out the back story of their lives. 

So, here is a story of one of my first kisses.

I was sleeping over JJ’s house. She was a Reagen Republican and I was the only fifth-grader in NH who liked Jimmy Carter. I loved Jimmy Carter, actually.

JJ’s mom was a nurse and she quilted, big crazy quilts with velvet in them and fluttery stitches, which was really cool. Everybody in JJ’s family was large and tall and rugged. Her dad was around seven feet tall. I felt like a short unhairy hobbit in their log cabin, which was kind of cool because I liked hobbits even if I didn’t like all their hair.


So, we were all hanging out upstairs, JJ, her fourth-grader brother named Eric, and me. We snuck downstairs for some apple pie and there in the middle of the living room was her big mama dancing with her huge father to a Kenny Rogers tune. I think it was “Lady.”

The one that goes, I’m your knight in shining armor and I love you…


“EW!!!” J.J. screamed and we all slammed up the stairs, totally disgusted by the thought of parents dancing.


After a long talk about how grosser than gross parents are Eric went, “I hate Kenny Rogers.”


“Me too,” I said.


“Who do you like?”


“ACDC,” I say, which was true, because all the cool kids in my grade liked ACDC because they had a song called “Big Balls.” I had no idea what that song was referring to because I was an idiot, but I liked to sing it at the top of my lungs in my bedroom while my mom was still at work because I knew it was somehow naughty.  


Eric looked at me in shock. “Cool.”


I nodded in a way that I hoped conveyed that I thought it wasn’t a big deal.


“I love ACDC,” Eric said.


JJ then called him a twerp and told him to go to bed. 


JJ and I hunkered down and read books. We had to read the Hobbit for English.

I’d read it before and was just skimming it because I was lazy. We finally shut off the lights. 


Maybe two minutes later JJ’s door slammed open and someone smashed through the pitch black room and threw his chunky boy body on top of me in the bed. He screamed in a huge, deep, scary voice, “ACDC WOMAN!!!”


And then he kissed me. Pow. Sort of on my lips, but mostly on air because my mouth was open wide and screaming.


JJ threw on the light and her brother leapt up and out of the room, throwing the words “I love you, ACDC Woman” over his shoulder.


JJ, horrified, gaped at me. “My brother kissed you.”


I nodded. “I know. I was there.”


She glared at me. “Shut up. You like Jimmy Carter.”


“You like Reagen.”


“My brother,” she declared, “should have better taste.”

How about you? Did ACDC ever get you kissed? Do you have weird first kiss stories? If you’re a writer, do bits of your past ever end up in your characters’ back stories?

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Join the 209,000 people who have downloaded episodes and marveled at our raw, weirdness. You can subscribe pretty much anywhere.


RECENT EPISODES OF AWESOME AND BONUS INTERVIEWS

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link 

Link to Sam’s interview.

A bonus interview with Dr. J.L. Delozier, Pennsylvania doctor and writer. 

bonus interview with poet and coach Fiona Mackintosh Cameron. 

Continue reading “First Kisses and ACDC Woman”

What It’s Like to See Your Book In a Store

I work with a lot of pre-published authors and one of the things they ask me is what it feels like to see your book out there in the wilds of the bookstore.

I usually say, “Weird.”

And they usually say, “Super descriptive there, Carrie.”

So, this is what happened the first time I saw my book baby in a store.

I live in a pretty rural place and I drove forty miles to the big city of Bangor Maine to check out a Borders Bookstore. Borders still existed in 2007, which is when my first book was published. I know! I am ancient!

So there it is. My book. It was brown.

Yes! It was facing out! I didn’t even do that. How amazing is that? 


But the super cool amazing event of the day was that I moseyed into the next aisle and quietly stressed about how there is no way anyone will buy my book when there are so many super amazing books out there, when a real live person under twenty went over and actually PICKED UP MY BOOK!

My book.

Because I am cool as a cucumber, I started hyperventilating, because that is what I do.


Then she opened it. She read the back. She opened to a random page. She read the first page.


I started hyperventilating more quietly so I could also chant, “PLEASE BUY IT. PLEASE BUY IT. PLEASE BUY IT.”


AND SHE DID!!!!

I then totally freaked out, ran into a picture book aisle where no children were present and skipped around in a circle, silently shouting, “YES! Yes! YES!”

Seriously, though, how random and wonderful is that? 


The best part? At least one person under twenty will read my young-adult book.

I feel completely, totally satisfied.*


The other best part?

This is going to happen to all the other writers out there in LiveJournal land and it has already happened to so many writers. 


Man, that’s just the coolest.

*It turned out that I did not stay completely, totally satisfied.

Continue reading “What It’s Like to See Your Book In a Store”

Tips on Making Deviled Eggs and Not Killing Other Judge-y Humans

  • 1. Here’s a hint: They are called devilled eggs for a reason.
    2. And, no, it is not because of the little hint of jalepeno that gives them a kick.
    3. It’s because you have to HARD BOIL the little suckers first, and there are all these rules about boiling them. 
    Yes, rules about boiling an egg! WHY MUST THERE BE RULES ABOUT EVERYTHING!?!?!
    4. Boiling an egg should be simple.
    5. It isn’t. 
    6. It really isn’t simple if you get distracted by the fact that the 90-second rice pouch you put in the microwave just exploded.
    7. But this is about eggs, not exploding rice pouches.
    8. So, if you manage to boil the egg, you should then plunge the poor thing in cold, cold water.
  • And you must then PEEL THE EGG!
    9. Eggs are not meant to be peeled. This is why they are eggs. Not bananas.
  • 10. If you have happy, young fresh eggs they are harder to peel. The old buggers are better. 
    11. Be prepared to sacrifice many, many eggs in your egg-peeling quest for the perfect egg to devil.
    11. Once, eggs are peeled, halved, and stuffed, do not be offended when people in house say, “Holy crud. It’s like the egg has acne pits or something.”
    12. Do not be offended when people in the house say, “Um? Are you sure this is a devilled egg? Should it be all wobbly like this? And gooey? It’s kind of gooey.”
    13. Do not be offended when people in the house say, “Next time, can we just buy the premade kind in the grocery store? You know, the kind that is full of chemicals?”
    14. And do not have hurt feelings when they do not celebrate with you because you keep saying, “But look at the yolk. It isn’t green. That’s a big achievement, not to have green yolks.”
    15. Do not throw eggs at them.
    16. Breathe deeply and try to be one of those yoga-calm people who smell like lavender and sage incense and just say “Namaste” whenever they are pissed off.
    17. Honestly, just accept that you are not a gifted deviled egg maker. We can not all be gifted in all things eggy. You are a good scrambler. Be happy with this.

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s interview with writer Jordan Scavone!

My newest adult novel. 

SO, HERE’S WHAT I’M UP TO. 

THE WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME

It’s our very own writing course! 

Basically, it’s set up a bit like a distance MFA program, only it costs a lot less and also has a big element of writer support built in and personalized feedback from me! This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions!

To find out more, check out this link. It’s only $125 a month, so it’s a super good deal. Come write with us! 

Pants-drunk, Geico, Stinky Beer, Government Cheese – It’s a podcast of awesome where things get weird

Pants-drunk, Geico, Stinky Beer, Government Cheese – It’s a podcast of awesome where things get weird

 
 
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When you think about people getting drunk in their underwear, you tend to think of Joe Exotic and the people on Tiger King, the hot-AF Netflix documentary, but the people who are masters at getting completely sloshed at home are the Finns. 

Yes, the Finns. 

They have a word for it and that word is kalsarikännit. That word means pantsdrunk 

They even have emojis depicted half-dressed emoji people holding a beer or a wine glass that they send each other when they are solo drinking in their undies. 

And that’s what is happening to America in the time of Covid-19. Believe me, this is such a thing that it’s a trending Instagram tag and even the Barefoot Contessa is getting involved. 

Here’s the thing. People in northern, isolated, winter-dark, sun-absent climates know all about staying at home. They know about facing the darkness and drinking in their undies. Yes, undies. Not sweatpants. Undies. Part of being pantsdrunk is stripping down. 

On Harper Collins’s website for Miska Rantanen’s book about the cultural phenomenon, it states:

“When it comes to happiness rankings, Finland always scores near the top.  Many Finnish phenomena set the bar high: the best education system, gender equality, a flourishing welfare state, sisu or bull-headed pluck.  Behind all of these accomplishments lies a Finnish ability to stay calm, healthy and content in a riptide of endless tasks and temptations.  The ability comes from the practice of “kalsarikanni” translated as pantsdrunk.”

Harper Collins’s blurb people

According to an article by Claudia Alarcon in Forbes

“Pantsdrunk is one of the cornerstones of drinking culture in Finland,” says Partanen (an actual Finnish person she quotes). “The Finns are very reserved people, which is why there are jokes in Finland about how social distancing simply means that we keep doing what we’ve always been doing: avoiding physical contact and keeping at least a meter distance from others.”

Claudia Alarcon

When you are undergoing constant stress and anxiety, it increases your risk for both physical and mental health issues. You don’t want that. We don’t want that for you. So, it’s okay to find some joys even as the horrifying happens. Build a fort. Sing in the shower. Read books. Snuggle with puppies. 

What’s this got to do with writing other than the fact that the tradition has been immortalized in a book? It’s about letting go, diving into your story and giving your anxiety a giant finger flip. It’s about tearing off your clothes and your devices and writing the raw, naked tipsy story without your internal critic or internal editor standing over your shoulder telling you to go get the seltzer water and put your clothes back on. That’s when you write cool stories. 

This time we are in now, this pandemic, this physical isolation? It can divide us or it can make us closer. We can choose to despair in our systemic issues and lack and we should recognize it, but is just as important to notice the moments of humanity, of how people still find ways to create and communicate and love. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Don’t give up. Persistence is super in life and in writing. 

Dog Tip for Life

Find your alcohol. Be naked. Live while you can.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Gabby does not approve of alcohol.

WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s episode link. 

Last week’s episode link.

Last week’s interview with writer Jordan Scavone!

SO, HERE’S WHAT I’M UP TO. 

THE WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME

It’s our very own writing course! 

Basically, it’s set up a bit like a distance MFA program, only it costs a lot less and also has a big element of writer support built in and personalized feedback from me! This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions!

To find out more, check out this link. It’s only $125 a month, so it’s a super good deal. Come write with us! 


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods

ART NEWS

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

WHAT ELSE? 

I’m still revising ANOTHER NOW, which is a big time travel story. It is killing me. 

AND FINALLY, MY NEW PATREON STORY

And over on Patreon, I’m starting a new story this week! It’s a chapter a month if you want to check it out. It basically costs $1 a month to listen to my story and $3 a month to read it. There’s a new chapter every week. It’s super fun; I promise. Here’s an excerpt.

April Book and Life Update!

It’s an April update!

So, I bought an author marketing program for $27 and found out that you’re supposed to write a status about your writing progress and book progress every month! 

Who knew? 

Not this author. 

So, here’s what I’m up to. 

I’m starting a super cheap, super new, super cool writing course. You can check it out here and you can still join although it’s getting pretty full, which is awesome since I only announced it this weekend. But if you want to learn more, check it out here. I call it the WRITING COURSE OF AWESOME because I am original like that.

What else? 

I’m still revising ANOTHER NOW, which is a big time travel story. It is killing me. 

Here’s a tiny excerpt: 

Chapter One

“The Ghost Inside”

The Broken Bells

Dear Dad, 

I know you’ll never read this and you’ll probably think I’m weird for even writing it since you didn’t care enough to hang around when I was born. Now, your first impression of me (if this letter IS your first impression) will be, “Wow. My daughter is old-school emo with a lot of retro drama writing me a letter longhand and not on the actual computer like a normal person.”

I don’t care. 

That’s a lie. I probably do care what you think of me because I am needy like that, but I don’t care enough so that it makes me stop writing this letter.

Even though it’s super one-sided communication since you’ll probably never read it.

Even though I do feel a little drama over writing it this way. 

Even though I shouldn’t care about communicating with you.

You made your choice a long time ago and that choice was not me and Mom. 

And that hurts. 

Mina (Your daughter)

The goal is to throw the stone out the farthest: 

Watch it drop into the waves.

Breathe out as it disappears into the cold Atlantic. 

Try again to beat your last throw. 

That’s it. I never seem to beat my last throw even though Abby always beats hers. 

I’m a person without a father and whenever she feels too badly for me, my newish best friend, Abby Shriver, makes us head to the boulders and rocks that line the ocean’s edge of the Shore Path, this mile-long gravel path that abuts some of the fancier houses in Bar Harbor. She thinks that will make it better. The ocean, she says, is fatherless too and according to ancient Greeks, the ocean was the father of everything. The ocean doesn’t take sides in all the wars of man and gods. It just is. 

            But that’s old myth. 

            And the Atlantic Ocean off our Maine coast is so real. 

Today, we’re quiet when we walk. It’s barely a half of a mile down a one-way road, another small road, and then a dirt path to the ocean where we can throw our stones into the ever-moving abyss. 

When we get there, the wind keeps lifting up Abby’s hair, mixing the smell of honey with that of clam flats. Her hair keeps striking me in the face until she binds it in one of those utilitarian black elastics that most people keep on their wrists. Abby only keeps bracelets on her wrist – silver ones that jangle when she moves. 

“They remind me of fairy bells,” she says when I try to get her to stop talking about my lack of a father and randomly try to shift the topic to her. 

I take a rock and throw it, but the wind’s strength works against me and it barely makes it past the shore. 

And finally, my new Patreon story

And over on Patreon, I’m starting a new story this week! It’s a chapter a month if you want to check it out. It basically costs $1 a month to listen to my story and $3 a month to read it. There’s a new chapter every week. It’s super fun; I promise.

Chapter 1

The birds tap at the kitchen window with tiny beaks. They hover there above the azalea bush and the still-to-bloom tiger lilies, wings wide open, eyes staring inside at where Mom and I bustle around the kitchen. They smack and caw and coo. There are seagulls, pigeons, crows, a couple of hummingbirds, a few owls, robins, blue jays, finches, doves and a random eagle tonight. All of them coexisting in some sort of peaceful bird truce. All of them watching us.

            “Hey guys.” I give them an air first bump that I hope is cheerful. “Everything is okay.”

So, yeah, things are a bit bizarre around here, and Mom’s worried that I may not be able to handle it. This isn’t just because I have a tendency to levitate. And it isn’t because a news reporter has noticed that I exist, and it isn’t even that I seem to have ridiculously randy feelings about my best friend, Nora. My mother, thank God, does not know about that last part. No, she worries because of the door upstairs and the birds that are appearing absolutely everywhere all the time now.

            “I am so tired of those darn things and their – and their – and their defecation.” She puts the stress on the last word of the sentence, wrinkling up her long nose.  “It’s impossible to get it off the deck. And the chirping and squawking.”

            She crosses herself. 

writing podcast
Carrie Jones

Here’s our latest podcast! We’re adding extra interview episodes starting this Thursday!

WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Last week’s episode link. 

This week’s episode link.

The Haiku That Changed My Life

NATIONAL POETRY MONTH is almost here so I am totally going to theme out this April.

Why?

Because poetry changed my life in second grade. Seriously. 

I was this kid who talked like a Muppet. Everyone made fun of me so I didn’t talk at all in first grade. I was known as THE QUIET KID WHO GIVES HER SNACKS AWAY – SO DO NOT BEAT HER UP.

The teachers couldn’t figure me out. I never said anything. Teachers tend to like kids who raise their hand and talk. 

Then, I wrote a haiku in September of second grade. I had all the syllables right. It wasn’t about Tonka trucks. It was about nature so the teacher, Mrs. Snierson, posted it in big letters on the wall and decided I was gifted. Whew. Did I fool her. 

The poem was:


Spring is fun you see
Because flowers grow with rain
And robins come home.

This is how I learned that teachers are important to writers’ egos.That one poem got me into gifted programs.


That one poem got me noticed.


That one poem put my life on a trajectory that didn’t have to do with silence.

So, yeah, I like poems. 

Poems are how I stopped being silent.

So, I’m going to write poems and talk about poems sometimes in April. I hope you’ll join me!

WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

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NEWS

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Continue reading “The Haiku That Changed My Life”

Rebel Reading the Hobbit & Talking Head Syndrome

Rebel Reading the Hobbit & Talking Head Syndrome

 
 
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A lot of time I’ll be reading scenes in books and it will be two characters talking and I’ll only have a vaguely general idea about where they are. Maybe I won’t have an idea at all. We call this evil beast the talking heads syndrome. 

Cue scary music here. 

WHAT IS TALKING HEADS SYNDROME?

No, it’s not about the iconic 1980s group. Sorry!

It’s where there’s a lot of dialogue going on but there’s no actual anchor for the characters. It’s like they are floating in space blabbing at each other. There’s no physical world placement. 

This happens a lot and it’s because some of us are writers who really hear our scenes rather than see our scenes or live in our scenes. It’s also because we sometimes forget to get those anchors in there. 

How to Imagine Yourself in a Scene

To do this exercise you have to step away from the keyboard for a second and stand up. We know! We know! Writers are all about sitting down and putting their butts in the chair and getting the work done, right? Well, give yourself five minutes and stand up in a quiet place preferably not in Starbucks or anything. 

Now close your eyes and think about your scene where there are talking heads.

SMELL

There you are with your characters. Maybe you can even imagine yourself as one of the characters. Possess them like they’re Zac Bagans and you’re filming Ghost Adventures. Inhale. What kind of smells are you smelling? Remember that. 

SOUND

You’re still there with the characters standing in the setting. What do you hear? Remember that. 

TOUCH

Your characters don’t stay completely still for the whole scene, do they? Have them move even if it’s to fidget. Let them touch things. What do those things feel like? Are they hot? Textured? Hands aren’t the only things that touch. Does their hair sweep over something? Does their foot kick against a table? Do their shoulders lean against the rough wood of the wall? 

TASTE

What does it feel like inside their mouth? Dry? Coppery? Do they need to brush their teeth? Please make them floss. Everyone should floss. 

SIGHT

This is the fallback for most writers and it can have some issues. We want to be able to visualize the setting and where things are happening, but we don’t need the buffer of the character seeing what’s happening. 

There are a lot of stories where it says, 

“Shaun looked over and saw the cat dangling from the curtain.”  

Don’t pad the details with distancing words. Don’t tell us that Shaun’s looking. Just have us see. 

Instead write, 

“The cat dangled from the curtain.”  

It’s so much more powerful. 

MOVEMENT

Have the characters move. Give them actions and objective correlatives to their emotional states. 

What are the next steps to Banishing the talking heads?

No, it’s not casting David Byrne to an isolated bunker in Nebraska. It’s also not putting him on SNL. It has nothing to do with him! I promise.

The next step is incorporating what you imagined for tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, movement into the actual scene. You have to have your characters’ perceptions of the outside world and setting incorporated into that dialogue and action. Don’t be afraid to dig deeper. 

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Don’t be full of talking heads. Write scenes that come alive. 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Be in the moment, man, and actually notice things. 

Note: In the random thoughts in bed section of our podcast we talk about Liberal cheers, famous for being losers, getting thick thanks to the Coronavirus and Shaun binging Swedish Fish, and golf balls. How’s that for random? 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Last week’s episode’s link.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s episode link. 

NEWS

Over 180,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them.

Continue reading “Rebel Reading the Hobbit & Talking Head Syndrome”