Camper Wisdom and Dialogue Hints

So, I’m back in the camper for the summer because we rent out our hosts to tourists every year. Well, it’s the second year, that almost makes it every year, right?

To put this in perspective, we have two dogs, one obese cat, two humans (occasionally three) in this tiny camper from the 1980s. We painted it white so it wasn’t as depressing, but let me tell you, painting things white doesn’t make anything actually bigger.

Anyways, I was trying to quickly make a camper video about dialogue and I failed completely. Here it is below. Don’t judge too harshly.

If you don’t want to die from secondhand embarrassment let me sum it up for you. The takeaway from this video is meant to be people react to different things in different ways. People speak in different ways. Show this in your dialogue. Think of how your mom talks, your bestie, your avo, the lady at the bar, your rabbi. Not everyone talks the same. Think of how they all react to one simple situation like a rat popping out of the garbage bin in the kitchen. It wouldn’t all be the same, right? Respect and embrace that difference and show it in your story.


WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

Patreon of Awesome

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

Check it out here.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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I am a distinguished alumna! No… Seriously!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then… and then…

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

And then… And then…

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

And then…

I GOT ONE TOO!

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

But it was amazing.

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

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

I didn’t believe in myself at all.

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

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

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

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

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

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

Normally we talk about writing somehow, right? Because we’re a writing podcast.

But we aren’t this week.

This week, we’re talking about fashion advice for men because Carrie saw a post on The Art of Manliness that was “101 Style Tips for Men.”

First off, let’s just give a shout out that there’s a website called The Art of Manliness. That is a brilliant name.

Carrie’s favorite tip was this one:

27. Always dress like you might decide to drop by a restaurant or nightclub with a dress code.

Because you might. And even if you don’t, you might as well look like a guy who’s got plans.

The Art of Manliness

All the advice reminded us of those old 1980s, 1990s talk shows where the women would get their husbands make-overs in a super hetero-normative way and these guys would come out with this total, “Oh my gosh, I’m hot” saunter.” Or else they’d try to hide.

But it also makes us think about our fixation on fashion and appearance and buying things. If you look at that list it requires buying a lot of things. That requires money. And that’s a little frustrating.

How about “101 Feel Good Tips for Men” that are about being good people or something? How about if we spend a little more time our souls and our attitudes and our civics instead of worrying about never wearing graphic t-shirts?

Oh, wait. You can’t make money off that can you?

Dog Tip for Life

Wag your tail. That’s all the style you need.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Style isn’t something you want to copy. Style in writing is voice. And your voice? It shouldn’t be determined by a list of 101 tips on what to think and how to write and who to be. It shouldn’t be about copying other people. It should be all you. Your voice.

Just like you shouldn’t go around trying to pretend to be Tom Cruise or Bieber or Idris Elba or Russell Wong and dressing like them, you shouldn’t go around writing like J.K. Rowling or James Patterson or Naomi Shihab Nye.

Be you.

Be your own style.

And if that puts you on a How Not to Dress or How Not to Write list? Who cares.

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


Art News

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale

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

 
 
00:00 / 00:31:21
 
1X
 

Writing is NOT Terrible – a Rant, Men Disrobing in the Meat Department

Carrie’s having a bit of a rant this episode. Let’s blame it on her going to a Lynryd Skynrd concert last night.

Here’s the rant:

There’s a lovely funny author who recently gave a speech saying that writing is terrible and that it is 100 % okay to complain about it incessantly and completely professional to do so.

Everyone is all, “Yes! And preach it!”

Except me.

I don’t care what’s professional or not. Obviously, I never have. And I know this will not be a popular podcast. 

But what I do care about is people being miserable. If you are miserable writing, if you hate writing, please think about that for a second. If you hate writing, why are you doing it? We have this one tiny life (allegedly) to create things in, to communicate, to live and experience. Why are you choosing something to do that you feel is terrible? 

And what is it telling kids when all the writers out there, those of us who actually do it for a living say, “Ack. Writing is terrible. It’s so hard.” Do you think that’s encouraging literacy? A love of reading? A love of writing and the written word? 

Here’s a big secret:

You don’t have to suffer. You don’t even have to suffer for your art. That’s something wealthy people in power spoon feed us. You’re allowed to rejoice as you create. It’s okay if you enjoy living and being. Find ways to do that. 

Sure, sometimes things you love might feel terrible. But not all the time. Don’t let it be all the time. You deserve to have joy, too. You deserve to create in a state of wonderment and exploration and passion. You’re allowed to craft your stories while you’re happy or excited and enjoy the excitement. 

Outside forces can make our lives terrible without any of our help. Don’t help them. 

You deserve better than that. 

Writing Tip for Life

Like a person’s life, a writing life has highs and lows. Whenever possible choose highs. Whenever possible choose things and adventures that will make you happy, but more than that, give yourself the space and permission to allow yourself to be happy. 

Dog Tip of the Pod

Enjoy the smells, man. Smell that smell. 

SHOUT OUT

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

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods

How Does Writing Change Your Life?

Let’s start with the simple things.

  1. Writing allows you to create.
  2. Writing makes you better at communicating.
  3. Writing helps you inspire other people
  4. Writing gives you power. The more you write, the more you understand. The more you share your writing? The more others hear your voice. That’s powerful.

I grew up pretty poor. But there was a time in my more-recent adult life where despite everyone thinking I was totally fine, I was sleeping in the car with my dog, hiding, and trying not to get hurt.

That time feels like forever ago.

But it wasn’t really.

It also feels like a blink-of-an-eye ago.

It wasn’t that, either.

Writing Helps You Survive

The reason I survived was because I could write. I could write newspaper articles quickly and accurately. Those articles honed my ear for dialogue and facts and connections, but also helped me try to understand the truths of the people underneath the statistics and facts.

The reason I survived was because I eventually could write poems and novels where I could talk about loss and fear and persistence because I knew what it was like to be afraid, to lose so many people and things, but also to lose my self.

And survive.

I spent a lot of nights in Maine freezing in the car hugging my dog to stay warm. I thought of stories. I thought of plans. I wrote them down on scraps of paper, margins of meeting agendas, anywhere and everywhere.

I vowed to myself that I would keep trying, keep writing, find a way to make more money, stay warm.

And the more I wrote, the better I became. Even when I was rejected, I kept trying. My life and future depended on it and so did my heart.

There were stories I wanted to tell and stories I wanted to understand. The only way I knew how to do that was with words.

Writing helped me find my self and my words.

Writing gave me the practical skills to succeed in employment and publishing, but also the emotional skills to succeed in life, to feel okay, to understand.

That’s a gift I want everyone to have. There’s a great power that comes from being able to effectively communicate your truths and ideas. Some people are afraid of that. They don’t want voices that don’t match their own. That’s even more reason to write, to speak, to tell your story.

Tell your stories.

It could change your world. It could make your life better because it will make you more honest about who you are, give you skills to escape, skills to survive, and skills to succeed.

I want that for you.

Other posts about poverty or persistence are here:

Finding Hope Despite Everything

Rejection Doesn’t Have to Be the End

WRITING NEWS

Art News

I’ll be at CoeSpace in Bangor on June 7 as an artist! I know! I know! I’m hyperventilating about it already.

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

Carrie Jones Art for Sale
The Last Gods

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

QUICK WRITING TIP. IGNORE MY FACE!

Writing Tip Wednesday: Defying Jerks’ Expectations and Going After Your Dreams

A long time ago there was a woman on one of those singing competition shows and she was not what society would call good looking.

Because of her looks and age, people expected her to suck. This was also because she did some weird thing with her hips before she sang. Prior to her tryout, she said she’d always wanted to be a professional singer, to sing in front of a super big audience. People snickered.

They truly snickered.

I’m sure she could hear them.

But then she sang.

She did not suck.

People cried instead of snickering.

And I totally wanted to be her. I wanted to be the one singing and making people gasp and cry and stand on their knees all because of my voice and my talent. I wanted to be the one who defied their expectations.

Singing like that woman? That’s not a dream I’ll ever get. 

First off, I was never even in show choir. And I have never auditioned for a televised talent competition. I haven’t even done karaoke because I get super social anxiety about those things. Plus, stage fright.  

But I was in this cheesy song and dance company once.

IT WAS SO EMBARRASSING

But let me say: I was paid.

So, I think this counts as being a professional singer, right?  *clears throat* Of course, we played places like Chuck E’ Cheeses or the Masonic temple in Manchester, NH.  

I am happy to say no pizza was thrown on me during the Chuck E’ Cheese performance.

Sarah Silverman was also in the group. So was Bridget Walsh, the third national-touring ANNIE! I was totally out classed. I never had one of those big show-stopping solos. 

I also never got to perform with a dog like Bridget did in ANNIE. ;(

I don’t think I ever will perform with a dog or have a show-stopping solo.

I kind of gave up on that dream.

Other Dreams

When I was little, I dreamt that I’d find Bigfoot. I dreamt that I’d write books, change the world for better, would have art in museums.

One of my teachers told me that I’d never get any dreams because my voice was so hideous that people would never take me seriously.

My own sweet mom told me that people in our family are incapable of making art, let alone museum-worthy art.

Society told me (and keeps telling me) that you can’t make the world better.

So many dreams…

I never gave up on my dream of writing.

I am still working on that one. Someday, I want to write in a way that people sing. I want people to gasp and feel and laugh and be on that journey with me, because of my words. Even though I’ve been a New York Times bestseller, there are moments when I feel like that dream is impossible. I keep plugging along though, trying to ignore that teacher’s voice in my ear, telling me that my very essence, my voice, will make people never pay attention, take me seriously, make them snicker instead of applaud.

A lot of times I work with other writers who are so close to giving up on their dreams even though they are so talented, and have great stories and craft and it makes me so worried and it makes my heart hurt to think of them giving up.

Dreams matter. Hard work matters. Persistence matters. Your story matters.

Do you have dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you feeling unmotivated? If so think about the lady who people snickered at and how her talent made them cry. If so, you can even think about me.

I promise, I’ll be thinking about you.

Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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

Quick Writing Tip

Flirt Your Eyelashes Off Writers, Dogs are Smarter than People Podcast

A quick web search for the words ‘flirting’ and ‘dangerous’ gets a lot of hits.

To be fair, so does a quick web search for the words ‘flirting’ and ‘fun.’

But we’re not here to tell you about the perils and delights of flirting. We’re here to talk about writing, life, and dogs. Actually, flirting is part of most people’s lives. But we’re FOCUSING on the writing aspect.

Flirting is showing someone that you are attracted to them.

Hall, Carter, Cody, and Albright, (2010).

If you’ve listened to the random thought portion of the podcast, it’s obvious that Carrie fails at flirting and in knowing when other people are flirting with her.

Side note from Carrie: This is because it’s really extremely rare for me to be attracted to people in that way.

So, when it comes to writing about flirting, she has to do a lot of research about how people flirt, how people react to flirting, what the common aspects of flirting are.

All of us, as writers and humans, have blind spots or flaws. These places can be viewed as writing weaknesses or human weaknesses, but they honestly just make us real.

Second side note from Carrie: Not being attracted to people that way isn’t a flaw, it’s just something that’s different than what our society considers the ‘norm.’

When we’re writing, we have to look for those places where we’re not as strong. It could be setting. It could be showing our character’s emotions. It could be plot. It could be making a character realistically flirt. It could be making dialogue real. The secret to becoming a better writer is to dive into those places where you’re not as strong, and focus on them.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Be courageous. Go right to where your weaknesses are and excavate them. If you can’t write a fight scene. Go write fight scenes. Read them. Watch them. Go into the places where your weaknesses are.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Flirting is not the same as being friendly. It’s about intent.


SHOUT OUT

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


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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




Writers are just Actors Playing all the Roles

I come from a theater background – sort of.

One of my distant relatives was a super famous comedian for his time. An uncle was an Oscar-winning art director. When I was little his wife stared at me running around the living room buck naked singing and twirling and showing off and said, “That girl is going into theater.”

This was before I turned shy. And because I turned SO SHY, it became a family story about how wrong that aunt was.

Aunts are not always right? Who knew?

Still, I spent a lot of my time singing and dancing and acting (badly) when I was growing up and then in college I spent a lot of my time directing and acting (badly) while I was getting my political science degree.

I’ve always talked about how using the basics of improv helps writers get over things like writer’s block, etc., and at Vermont College, I focused my graduation presentation on using those tools to help kids write. 

Authors and Acting and Improv

Lately though, I’ve been thinking more about how authors are really using all the roles of theater when they create novels. We have to be actors because we have to live inside the characters and make them three-dimensional representations of people. We have to be directors because we put the story together and tell the characters where to go, and determine the viewpoint that we’re seeing the character. We have to be set designers as we create setting. We’re stage crew bringing props in and out. We’re producers because we’re putting the whole production together. We’re writers because… Well, we’re writing. 

But right now, I just want to focus on how authors are really actors playing every single role in the story. That’s a lot of effort, honestly. 

Method Authors 

Method acting is when you immerse yourself in the role; you become someone other than yourself. Do writers do this? Sometimes, but not often. Usually we spend a lot of time researching things our characters like but not becoming the characters and/or pretending to be them. I wonder why.

Living In Another World

Actors live in the world of the moment, of the world that they are acting in. Novelists need to do this too. We have to immerse ourselves in the world that we’ve created, to envision the details, see the events, feel the feels. The best novels use concrete details to show character and place. To find concrete details, we have to see concrete details. We have to build worlds piece by piece and symbol by symbol until they are believable. 

Back Story 

When I was training in theater with Paul Kuritz and Pope,L, and Marty Andrecki, they all focused on the back story of the roles we played.

To understand the character in the moment, we had to understand the moments that came before, what brought our character to this place to react this specific way in the play.

And we didn’t need to know just the history of the character, but the history of the world and the cultural implications that influenced that character. Authors sometimes do this, too, but I think some of us could do it more. 

Study Real People 

To understand nuance and tics and behavior, actors often study real people and model a character on that person, or at least model a behavior of a character on that person. Writers often do that, too. 

Acting and writing require empathy. You have to move outside yourself and envision how someone else will react, feel, think, instigate. That’s important when trying to create a world of civility and positive change. 

Random Exercise That’s Supposed To Be Helpful

A lot of the time at school visits, I talk about the weirdest places I’ve gotten ideas and how some of those ideas are so bizarre that a sane human would just thrust them out of their mind. I talk about how you have to ‘say yes’ to your ideas no matter how weird they are, no matter how much we doubt them. 

I talk about how the idea for the NEED series came from seeing a strange smelling man on my way into a fair. He had a tail wrapped in fabric. He had silver eyes. Enough said, right? While other people might have thought he was a random guy doing cosplay, my brain jumped to “human-sized pixie about to cause an apocalypse.” Since, I didn’t reject that idea and wrote about it, I ended up getting a book series that was an international bestselling. 

So, what I do is have kids stand up with me and one of them has to say ‘no,’ to everything we throw out. So it goes like, 

“Hey, let’s write a story about human-sized pixies?”

“No.”

“And they have to save the world?”

“No.”

“Gerbils who fall in love?”

“No.”

“People who climb a mountain and find a rainbow unicorn?”

“No.”

And it goes on like this for a minute and when I stop them, I ask, “So what happened?”

Usually, everyone says, “Nothing. Nothing happened.”

I ask if we got a story. And the answer is always, “No. We laughed, but we did not get a story.”

Writers do this to ourselves all the time. Actually, people do this all the time. We reject ideas for being too weird, too overdone, too normal, too abnormal, too anything. The secret is to go with the idea, to say yes and see what happens. That’s how stories are made. 


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg
You can buy some of my art. I paint to help inform my stories and some of the prints are available now. There will be more soon. You can check it out here. 

Fast Writing Tip Wednesday: Let’s Talk About Tags

I’m not talking about tagging a friend or a celebrity on social media. I’m talking about dialogue tags, those helpful little buggers that show you who is speaking.

Like here:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

The dialogue tag is SHE SAID.

Here’s my First DIALOGUE Hint:

Every single dialogue line does not need a dialogue tag. Those babies can survive without them!

So, don’t do this:

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think,” she said.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

All tags

That reads like a second grade book that you didn’t quite enjoy, right? Not even in second grade.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” she said.

“What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'” he asked.

“The fruit helps you think.”

“Does it think for you? Because that seems wrong.”

“We must all think for ourselves,” she agreed.

Less tags

If you have two people talking you don’t ALWAYS have to tell us who said what. The paragraph indents give us that clue.

Here is my Second DIALOGUE Hint

If you add in the character action instead of the dialogue tag, it can make things zing and change meaning.

“How about you try this ancient thinking fruit?” She held the potato above her head, thrusting it towards the sky.

He took one step backwards, eyeing the spud. Someone had stuck plastic appendages and even eyes and lips into it. “What do you mean, ‘thinking fruit?'”

“The fruit helps you think.” She brought the potato back down to her level and kissed its bright, red lips.

“Does it think for you?” he asked. “Because that seems wrong. Also, potatoes aren’t fruit.”

“We must all think for ourselves.”

Add in some action

That’s it! Two fast tips about dialogue tags. Fastest writing tips ever, right?


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

Image

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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




Own Your Own Stupid

There’s a BuzzFeed article about 23 Dogs Who are Too Adorably Stupid for Their Own Good.

Which is amazing.

But it made us think about why dogs get to be stupid and called adorable, but when humans are stupid, we’re called stupid and it’s derisive, you know?

There’s this constant pressure to be perfect, intelligent. You misspell too as two and 180 Twitter people are on your case. We all put so much pressure on each other to be free of mistakes, perfect princesses and princes.

But dogs? They fall in the pool? They’re adorable.

Dogs? They sit on a kid’s face and it’s amazing and funny.

Dogs? They sometimes think stuffed animals are real and we’re all, “Aw…. adorable!”

We’re so kind to dogs for their mistakes, but it’s more than that. We love and celebrate their mistakes. Their mistakes become viral sensations of cuteness. But when it’s our own selves?

We get mad. We judge ourselves. We are not quick to forgive. We expect to be perfect and when we aren’t? It’s like the end of the world.

It doesn’t have to be like that. We can own our own stupid, love our goofs, our mess-ups, not judge ourselves and just live and grow and create.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

This is especially true for writers. We are all about having perfect stories and sentences in our first drafts, but that’s not going to happen. We have to take breaths and forgive ourselves for using the word “KNEW” 89 times in a 300-word picture book.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

We’re adorable. We’re sometimes stupid. Be like us.

SHOUT OUT

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


Writing News

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

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

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

ART

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_0393-2.jpeg

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


Own Your Own Stupid

 
 
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