70 episodes

Join an internationally bestselling children's book author and her down-home husband and their dogs as they try to live a happy, better life by being happier, better people . You can use those skills in writing and vice versa. But we’re not perfect, just like our podcast. We’re cool with that.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation Carrie Jones and Shaun Farrar

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 8 Ratings

Join an internationally bestselling children's book author and her down-home husband and their dogs as they try to live a happy, better life by being happier, better people . You can use those skills in writing and vice versa. But we’re not perfect, just like our podcast. We’re cool with that.

    Why it is okay to read books you've already read and sometimes there's an alligator in your kitchen

    Why it is okay to read books you've already read and sometimes there's an alligator in your kitchen

    Here's our main premise this week: it's okay to read books you've already read.



    Not only is it okay. It's helpful.



    This is true for both writers and normal humans.



    Rereading books gives you:




    New ideas



    Reminds you of ideas you'd forgotten about



    Let's you notice new things because you aren't the same you who read that book the last time.








    DONALD LATUMAHINA writes for LifeOptimizer, "'"Research shows that in just 24 hours people would forget most of what they’ve read. You might get a lot of good ideas from a book, but it’s easy to forget most of them. Rereading a book helps you refresh those ideas in your mind."



    But what I like the most about what he is says is this, rereading . . .



    "It helps you apply the ideas



    "This, in my opinion, is the most important reason of all. Why? Because the primary value of reading is the application and not the reading itself. Mere reading could expand your knowledge but application could change your life. By rereading a book, you can see which parts of it you have applied and which parts haven’t. You can then focus your effort on the parts that need more work."



    For authors, Victoria Grefger says all the way back in 2016,



    "YOU REALIZE JUST HOW MUCH THE READER MAKES THE READING EXPERIENCE WHAT IT IS. This is important for authors, and since the majority of my readers here are authors, I thought this worth mentioning. By comparing what you thought of the book the first time around and what you think of it now, and what stood out to you then and what stands out now, you realize just how dependent a novel is upon its reader. This can remove some of the pressure that we feel as writers as we learn we can’t control the interpretative process of our work and don’t need to. That’s a load off, for sure!"



    So go forth and read those books again! It's all good. The experts say so.



    DOG TIP FOR LIFE









    Murphy, the grand-dog, says that each redo makes you stronger. There's a much longer and more interesting version of this in the podcast.



    RANDOM THOUGHTS



    Our random thoughts come from here.



    PLACE TO SUBMIT



     AGNI



    AGNI, Boston University’s literary magazine, accepts a wide variety of works for their online and print publications. The publication accepts poems, short stories, think pieces, essays, reviews and memoirs from writers all around the world. 




    Submission dates: September 1 to December 15; February 14 to May 31



    Payment: $20 per page for prose; $40 per page for poetry (to a maximum of $300)




    FUN WRITING EXERCISE



    Over on the TED blog, there are 20 creative writing prompts from 642 Tiny Things to Write About:



    Maybe try this one?



    "Write the passenger safety instructions card for a time-travel machine."







    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.



    WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAPPY OVER HERE! It's pretty awesome.



    We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and YouTube on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook. But she also has extra cool content focused on writing tips here.



    Carrie is reading one of her raw poems every once in awhile on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That's a lot!







    Subscribe

    • 28 min
    The Spiral of Ick and Quiet Winners: You Don't Have to Flaunt Yourself to Succeed

    The Spiral of Ick and Quiet Winners: You Don't Have to Flaunt Yourself to Succeed

    Recently, I read an interview with an author who talked about how much children loved her book and how they tell her this.



    It annoyed me. It may have been good marketing, but it sure didn't feel like good human-ing, you know?



    When you're interviewed by a reporter or when you do a school visit, as a children's book author, you have the ability to toot your own horn or you have the ability to toot someone else's.



    This interview I read sort of sent me into a spiral of ick.



    So, lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to get more of my very long work day to not feel like work and how to make consistently enough money writing things to keep the family afloat.



    Monday, on the blog, we talked about the Zone of Genius, a phrase I kind of hate and also the Flow State, which I’m much more into. This is just about places where work feels good, where it feels right.



    What doesn't feel right to me is tooting my own horn.



    And here on the podcast, I thought about how all this is really overcomplicating things. I am a fan of over complications, right, Shaun?



    But life and happiness is really all about doing what you love. It’s about going for that and seeing what happens if you put the time in. Not about shouting "LOOK AT ME! I AM SUCCESSFUL!" Unless that's what give you joy.



    It’s about doing what you love but also taking the steps to learn more and more about what you love, about listening to other people, about helping other people and also helping yourself by learning.



    The best writers see outside themselves and into the lives and emotions, the yearnings, the obstructions, the needs and conflicts of others. The best storytellers know that stories aren't about just them.



    Writers can do this. You’ve got to put in the time and go after your dream. You’ve got to stop worrying about the market and your niche and do the things that put you in that flow state, the things that give you joy.



    You just have to start.



    If you love writing, write. Share it. That’s it. But please don’t be an egotistical ass about it. It’s okay to communicate and focus on people who aren’t yourself, even if you’re an artist. Make it a habit to write and make it a habit to share what you write. And ask people to follow you wherever you are (substack, word press, x, medium, whatever). It’s okay to ask. Don’t constantly ask. Don’t only ask, but it’s okay to write and make money at it.



    Recently, I've been on a bit of a Tim Denning kick, he's a writer and blogger. And he has an interesting bit about the habits of quiet winners. He writes about how they don't do media, don't flaunt their success, make fun of themselves, give credit to others. It's pretty interesting to me because it's how I was raised and it's also like that Lori McKenna song Tim McGraw sang, "Humble and Kind."



    But one of the coolest bits in his blog is this: "Doing their work is what they like doing, not being noticed for doing their work. The meaning from their work cuts so deep that if a loud human being understood it they would give up their life and start again."



    Our random thought came from here.





    DOG TIP FOR LIFE











    PLACES TO SUBMIT



    The Paris Review. Genres: Poetry. Payment: Not specified. Deadline: Opens April 1, 2024, and closes when they reach capacity.



    Verve Poetry Press. Genre: Full-length poetry manuscripts. Payment: Royalties. Deadline: April 30, 2024.



    Cast of Wonders. Genre: YA Speculative fiction. Podcast. See theme. Payment: $.08/word for original fiction up to 6,000 words. For reprints, a $100 flat rate for Short Fiction, and a $20 flat rate for Flash Fiction. Deadline: April 30, 2024.





    COOL EXERCISE



    This can be a lot of fun to do. Sometimes. It's from Dabble Writer, which has a ton of ideas for exercises about character development and story starters.



    "Imagine someone who would be the polar opposite of your character. Describe them: how they look, what the

    • 26 min
    Shaun went off the rails, but this was supposed to be about how do you sustain a career as an author

    Shaun went off the rails, but this was supposed to be about how do you sustain a career as an author

    This is obviously not the full transcript. You have to listen to hear the full weirdness, but . . . here's the core.



    How Do You Sustain a Career as an Author?



    It's a really good question, right? One, all of us authors are trying to figure out.



    Rise With Drew writes,



    "Creative careers are slippery. One-hit wonders abound, but fewer are enduring superstars,” Steven writes. “And this level of commitment requires not just originality but rather that ultimate expression of originality: the consistent reinvention of self. Again and again. 



    “Long-haul creativity isn’t about a first act or a second act. It’s a third and fourth and fifth act. It’s that ultimate impossible, the infinite game, where the goal is simply to keep on playing.”



    There's a woman over on the Creative Penn who gives a pretty long interview about author sustainability, pimping out her book--which may be one of the keys of of sustainability--who has been writing since 2014. Claire Thomas is her name.



    She's written books about this and uses a personality test (enneagram) to explain to writers their blocks. In the podcast she says,

    "In our industry, we have a crisis of people being stuck and trapped because they've limited their options. Their subconscious mind has limited their options because of the patterns that it's functioning in as a default.



    "So they can't always see an aligned path forward when the industry undergoes swift changes, which it does very frequently. So I can give you an example.



    "If you're an author who's what we call a type three, this is the achiever, then your core fear is lacking value or being worthless, and pretty much everything you do is to avoid confronting this fear or feeling like you lack value or are worthless, if you're three.



    "A pattern that almost always arises from this is the belief that they earn value through accomplishments and achievements. This can look like how many books they have in their catalog, how high their books rank after launch, and how many subscribers they have on their email list."



    So, when you look at your personality type, you can see what might be holding you back. What the old scripts are running through your head, how your complacency or peacekeeping tendencies might keep you from talking about your triumphs for marketing, or how your love for isolating research might keep you from actually putting words down. More on that in the audio.



    DOG TIP FOR LIFE





    Work through your blocks to advance and evolve. Channel your inner cat. Or inner duck.



    COOL EXERCISE



    Go figure out your Enneagram. See if it's blocking you. Do it for one of your characters that you're struggling with.



    PLACE TO SUBMIT



    Heron Tree



    Deadline: May 1, 2024



    We are accepting found poetry submissions for Heron Tree Volume 11. There is no fee to submit. Please see our submission guidelines at herontree.com/how/.



    Creative Cosmos: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Art



    Deadline: April 30, 2024



    New monthly digital magazine, Creative Cosmos, seeking submissions of short fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and original artwork. Creative Cosmos challenges mainstream narratives and champions the power of intuition, creativity, and high sensitivity as essential forces for self-understanding and positive change. First issue June 2024. Please visit our website for details: creativecosmosmagazine.com/call-for-submissions/. Be sure to note the deadline for submissions.







    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.



    WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAPPY OVER HERE! It's pretty awesome.



    We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream biweekly live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitte

    • 30 min
    The Info Dump from Hell and How to Avoid Them

    The Info Dump from Hell and How to Avoid Them

    Talking about show vs tell at the scene level is a little bit harder than talking about it at the paragraph and scene levels.



    But it’s also a tiny bit easier.



    When you’re looking for telling at this level of the story, what you’re looking for is a couple of things:




    A butt ton of backstory.



    A butt ton of info dumps



    A lot of flashback.




    You can have bits of these things in your stories. Where us authors get into trouble is when we have a lot of it and we have a lot of it in telling language.



    So, that really happens when we do this:




    Bud Godzilla looked down on his sweet friend turned zombie. They’d been friends forever, so this hurt. Three page description of how they met – info dump or backstory




    Or:




    Bud Godzilla looked down on his sweet friend turned zombie. They’d been friends forever, so this hurt. Three page scene of how they met – flashback.




    You usually want to limit these places and instead sprinkle in action/dialogue/details throughout to help the readers understand that the characters have history or the world exists before the book begins.



    There’s a balance between telling too much and too little. You want the reader to anticipate that something cool is going to happen or has happened, but you don’t want to leave them confused or knowing way too much.



    You know how sometimes you’ll be on the plane and the person will not stop talking for six hours about their boil, their aunts’ piano obsessions, their dinner plans while you just want to finish watching the inflight movie? That’s what happens with those paragraphs of backstory, flashbacks and info dumping.



    Everything is paused. The stakes are gone. And when that happens? You risk losing your reader completely.



    DOG TIP FOR LIFE





    Pogie says keep your eyes on the prize, my friend, and laugh.



    COOL WRITING EXERCISE TO MAX OUT YOUR SKILLS



    This comes from the Writing Cooperative and it's really about how to spot your info dump, which is an exercise.




    "Once you spot an info-dump, ask yourself the following questions:




    "How much of this information is it essential for the reader to know right now? Most of the information will not be essential. Be ruthless. Cut it out.



    "Of the information left — if any — how can I get the protagonist to do something which shows or implies the information? This may involve minor or major rewriting, but you do no-one any good by avoiding it. Rework or add scenes which convey the information through present situations and your protagonist’s actions.



    "If the information is necessary, how can I use it to enhance the emotional effect of the scene? Key in on the emotional impact of the scene and if you must retain information that can’t be shown or implied, look for ways to add it in a way that will have an emotional impact. ;But the woman you saw can’t have been my mom, Angie. Mom died when I was a kid.'"





    PLACE TO SUBMIT





    The Blue Mountain Review launched from Athens, Georgia in 2015 with the mantra, “We’re all south of somewhere.” As a journal of culture, the BMR strives to represent all life through its stories. Stories are vital to our survival. What we sing saves the soul. Our goal is to preserve and promote lives told well through prose, poetry, music, and the visual arts. We’ve published work from and interviews with Jericho Brown, Kelli Russell Agodon, Robert Pinsky, Rising Appalachia, Turkuaz, Michel Stone, Michael Flohr, Lee Herrick, Chen Chen, Michael Cudlitz, Pat Metheny, Melissa Studdard, Lyrics Born, Terry Kay, and Christopher Moore. bluemountainreview.submittable.com/submit







    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.



    WE HAVE EXTRA CONTENT ALL ABOUT LIVING HAP

    • 19 min
    Control Your Tells, Don't Give In To the Passive

    Control Your Tells, Don't Give In To the Passive

    Babe,



    I know you don’t want to talk about showing vs telling any longer, our massive series, but it’s really really important. It’s sunk many a cool book idea, stopped others in its tracks. It is a chaos agent in the life of many a good writer. And there are so many damn facets to it. I could fill a year of podcasts talking about it.



    Don’t worry, I won’t.



    But I would be remiss—no, we would be remiss—if we didn’t give people a couple more hints about how to locate told prose in their own text.



    Here’s the thing. Told prose happens at three major levels:




    The sentence.



    The paragraph.



    The entire scene.




    And there’s different ways of hunting it out for each type.



    Let’s talk about the sentence level. At this level, telling language is usually explaining language. The question most writers have is how to find it. Janice Hardy wrote Understanding Show Don’t Tell and she has a lovely breakdown of this at the sentence level.



    Motivational tells



    Explains why a character is motivated to do something.



    Words to look for: to, when, because



    Example: Bud Godzilla ran over to Hammy the Hamster because he loved Hammy so much and wanted to hug him.



    How to revise it: “I love you!” Bud Godzilla screamed, running to Hammy. “Let’s hug!”



    Emotional tells



    Explains that a feeling is happening, usually by saying the feeling itself.



    Words to look for: Any emotion words; felt



    Example: Bud Godzilla felt pretty darn happy to see Hammy.



    How to revise it:  Bud Godzilla’s heart pitter pattered. Hammy was here! Right here! With him!



    Mental tells



    Explains thoughts without being immersed in the thought itself.



    Words to look for: realized, believed, hoped, wondered, thought



    Example: Bud Godzilla believed that if he could just hug Hammy gently enough and maybe give him some pizza, Hammy would love him, too.



    How to revise it:  He’d hug Hammy gently. Maybe give him some pizza. Then, Hammy would love him, too.



    Stage direction tells



    Explains stuff before it happens or is just a little too detailed about what’s happening.



    Words to look for: by, since, before, after, when.



    Example #1: Before Bud Godzilla could hug Hammy, Hammy coughed up phlegm all over the floor.



    How to revise it:  Hammy’s body heaved, shaking. “Bud! Don’t come closer!”



    Bud stepped forward, arms open. “But, what’s—”



    Phlegm spewed out of Hammy’s mouth. “Told you. Zombie bit me. Two hours ago.”



    Example #2: Bud Godzilla sat in the car while Hammy got out of it. Hammy shut the door behind him, walked around the front of the car, hit the key fob to unlock Godzilla’s door, then reached out his hand and pressed the door handle, pulling it up and also pulling the door toward him so that it would open and Godzilla could get out.



    How to revise it:  Hammy and Bud got out of the damn car. I have no idea how Godzilla fit in it or how Hammy touched the wheel but whatever.



    Descriptive tells



    Explains what’s about to be sensed. I usually call this distancing language.



    Words to look for: saw, heard, felt, smelled, watched, seemed, looked, ah, so many!



    Example: Godzilla could see that Hammy had turned into a zombie. Godzilla felt sad.



    How to revise it:  Hammy’s mouth gawped open. “Brains. Need more brains.” 



    Passive tells



    Live in passive sentences. What’s that? It’s when the subject of the sentence isn’t doing the important work of the sentence.



    Words to look for: was + verb; is being + verb, by (sometimes)



    Example: Hammy was pushed into the roadway by the radioactive pepperoni pizza breath of Godzilla.



    How to revise it:  Godzilla’s radioactive pepperoni pizza breath pushed Hammy into the roadway.



    Whew! That was a lot. Carrie will be talking about this more on her substack, LIVING HAPPY AND WRITE BETTER NOW tomorrow.



    DOG TIP FOR LIFE





    Dogs are all about showing, basically because they can’t

    • 20 min
    Author to Author. Carrie Jones and Chris Lynch Talk Walkin the Dog

    Author to Author. Carrie Jones and Chris Lynch Talk Walkin the Dog

    Award-winning author of YA novels? Check.



    Printz honor author, ALA Best Book winner, National Book Award finalist? Check.



    Has a middle grade coming out March 11 that's about to rock the world? Definitely.



    Was so cool that Carrie was afraid to talk to him back in 2005 or 2006 or something? You know it.



    Chris Lynch, award winning human and ridiculously gracious interviewee, graced Dogs are Smarter Than People with an author-to-author interview with Carrie Jones this week. He ignored Carrie's frazzled face, vaguely sweaty hair, and minor emergency to be one of the kindest, loveliest interviews ever.



    Chris is the author of middle grade novel Walkin’ the Dog. He holds an MA from the writing program at Emerson College. He teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Lesley University. He lives in Boston and in Scotland.



    And his book? It's amazing. You need to get it.





    To find out more about Walkin' the Dog, click here.



    More about Chris here.

    • 30 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
8 Ratings

8 Ratings

Sara Crawford ,

Lots of fun

These two crack me up. Carrie offers a lot of great writing advice as well!

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