Invisible Disability Requires A Different Kind of Bravery for One Author

Because my bravery is the opposite of heroes that step up to a moment of decisive action.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Invisible Disability Requires A Different Kind of Bravery for One Author
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IT’S BE BRAVE FRIDAY WHERE SHAUN OR I (FROM DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE AND LOVING THE STRANGE AND JUST BEING AN AUTHOR IN MAINE) SHARE PEOPLE’S UNEDITED, UNFILTERED STORIES, SO WE CAN ALL CELEBRATE THE BIG AND LITTLE BRAVE THINGS WE DO ALL THE TIME.

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

This Be Brave Friday story is from the wonderful and brave and cool and talented Lenka Vodicka who writes the Forest Fairy Craft books, which you should check out!


Here’s Lenka’s story.


I was a mellow baby that slept a lot. Then I was a clumsy child that fell a lot. Then I was diagnosed with a genetic disease called Charcot (pronounced shar-co) Marie Tooth (CMT) which has nothing to do with teeth. It’s named after the three doctors that discovered it. CMT is also called hereditary neuropathy. CMT is a glitch in the genetic code that causes nerve damage, muscle weakness, balance issues, and fatigue. It’s degenerative, meaning it worsens over time. There is no treatment, other than bracing and corrective surgery that may or may not work. And there is no cure. I have CMT for life.

CMT symptoms can vary widely, even within a family. Some people have mild symptoms that are barely noticeable into their 80s, while others have multiple surgeries and use wheelchairs as children. My case was in the mild category for a long time. I couldn’t wear flip-flops, or scramble up rock climbing walls, but most people had no idea that I dealt with any disease at all. I could be normal. My challenges were usually invisible. Situations like mine, where challenges are not easily seen, may be called invisible disabilities. 

Then, one day, that changed too. My feet hurt. Every day. Every hour of the day. Every minute of the hour. They ached like someone dropped a book on them. And they didn’t stop hurting. Fingers went numb. I never considered myself disabled before. The word was serious and full of baggage from sad movies. Facing the reality of my situation required a leap of bravery in itself. I wanted to run towards “normal” as fast as possible. Slowing down, facing my limits, and then asking, “How can I help myself? How can I make my life easier in this moment?” was big work.

I changed jobs and got a disabled placard for my car. Then the real bravery began. Because having an invisible disability means that every single time I ask for accommodations, I have to call on my inner brave self. Because my bravery is the opposite of heroes that step up to a moment of decisive action. It’s the opposite of heroines volunteering for a mighty quest. It’s the opposite of saying, “I think I can, I think I can. I believe in myself.”

My bravery is “No.” My bravery is approaching random staff person at a concert or event to ask if there is an alternative line or somewhere to sit that doesn’t involve steep stairs. Sometimes the information is online, but that doesn’t always translate to the location. And I’ve even had staff say, “I don’t know why the website says that.”

And because my disability is invisible, not apparent on first glance, I never know how they will react. Some staff say they have no idea. They need to radio another person that’s not answering the walkie-talkie. Or I give a museum feedback that more benches would be great, to hear, “Well, we want people to keep moving.” Trust me, I’d love to keep moving. I’ve heard many times that, “if we accommodate you, then everyone would want that too.” Again, trust me, they don’t want CMT. I’ve had a few meltdowns when a staff member insists that everyone must follow the same rules. I’ve missed events and left venues because the walk or the line wasn’t worth the pain that I would manage for days afterwards.

So why be brave? Why bother standing up to the hassle of disrupting the day for my friends, and the potentially embarrassing conversation, for nothing? Because, other times, bravery makes all the difference. Amusement parks became fun again. My niece said, “We need to come with auntie every time,” because we could stand to the side and enter though the exit instead of standing in winding lines for hours. I got to sit at concerts on a balcony where I could actually see the show instead of sitting in a sea of dancers. I’ve been able to drive to locations accessible only by trail unless you required disabled access. We avoid crowds and steep stairs. We park closer to the entrances or exits.

Asking for support makes adventures attainable again. 

Bravery can be saying, “not today, thank you.” Bravery can be found in little moments. In the decision to tell your friends that the hike is too steep. In researching accessibility options before booking a room or campsite. In holding your deep truth. And asking for what you need. Bravery is accepting your limits, then finding ways to help yourself thrive. Now, I am a unique mom that loves adventures. And I look forward to many, many more.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

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

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

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


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

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

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

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

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

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

How gorgeous is this cover?

Here’s the blurb:

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

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

And the link for the paperback is here!

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

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

It’s a powerful combination.

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

What was the first book that made you cry?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What does writing success look like to you?

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

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

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

Your soul is so beautiful, Tim. I promise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AND IT IS AMAZING.

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

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

What was the hardest scene for you to write?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a bit more about Tim!

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

Shaun Saved a Dog Hit By a Car and Talks about How Sometimes Going Out of Your Way is Just the Right Thing to Do

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

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

best podcast ever
Shaun Farrar

Yesterday did not start off great for me. It was a stressful morning in a routine sort of way, nothing especially bad, but enough to put me in a bad mood for the majority of the morning.

Of course, I am a firm believer in setting your own mood and allowing yourself to not be negative if you have that choice. Yesterday was just one of those days where it was a bit harder to shake off the gloom of negativity.

And it only got worse.

While I was at a customer’s house working, I heard a noise that was obviously a dog in distress. There are no dogs near this house, routinely, so it struck me as odd. I was on the second floor and looked out of a window that overlooks the road.

I could see a dog lying on the edge of the road directly in front of the house where I was working.

I said, “Oh, shit!” and ran downstairs.

By the time I got downstairs, the poor pooch was gone, but I quickly located it at the house next door. It was a medium-sized mixed breed that was standing on its own and being held by the neighbor’s landscaper. I asked her if the dog belonged there and she responded that it did not.

The dog had no apparent broken bones and was very calm and friendly but was obviously injured because it was sneezing a lot and every time it sneezed, it sprayed blood everywhere. I was pretty sure that the landscaper was pretty much tapped out just holding onto the dog, so I asked her if she would be okay holding onto the dog long enough for me to go back to my truck and get something to use as a leash. She said she was fine.

After securing the pup and bringing it back to my truck, I took a picture of it and asked Carrie if she could post it on Facebook and try to find out who owns it. There are not a lot of houses in the immediate vicinity of where I was and not living there, I was not familiar with the residents and their pets.

Long story short, the owner was not identified in a timely manner and as soon as I was able to secure what I had been doing at the house, I loaded the dog up in my truck and headed for the vet. Carrie called ahead to our local vet and was told that they didn’t have an actual vet on duty that day. So, I had to drive the 45 minutes to the vet a couple towns over.

It was a fine ride and the dog and I enjoyed each other’s company. Or, at least I did!

We only had to wait a few minutes until the vet could exam her and it turned out that she had a significant facial injury that is very common in cases where dogs come into contact with a moving motor vehicle.

After saying my goodbyes, I left my new friend in the very capable hands of the vet, who just so happens to be our vet as well. Okay, we have two vets because we’re overachievers, but he is one of them and he is the type of vet you can trust when it comes to trauma.

Later in the afternoon, I received a call from the owner, and he was very frazzled and understandably it was not the best conversation in the history of conversations.

I didn’t care. Not everyone can maintain a normal level of courtesy under times of stress. It’s human nature.

Then he called me back this morning and it was a totally different experience! He was very apologetic, very thankful, and even offered to call me back and give me an update after his dog had undergone the necessary surgery.

And that my friends is why I took the time to disregard my plans for the remainder of yesterday and bring that beautiful animal to the vet. I wasn’t trying to be a hero. I don’t need any praise from anyone. But I do need people to feel good and I know that if you, yes you, the reader, everyone, doesn’t take the time to be compassionate and kind, even when it is putting you out, the world as we know it will literally implode!

They say that everyone is someone’s daughter, son, wife, or husband. The same can be said for animals. In fact, sometimes I think that there are people who love animals more than humans and that is okay. Wouldn’t you want a stranger to aid your loved one, be it human or animal, if they needed assistance?

Yes, you would!

So, next time you get the opportunity to do the same for someone else, friend, foe or stranger, you should jump on that opportunity to keep the world on its axis and keep the love flowing.

Remember to always Love Your Way Through It!

Peace,

Shaun


This is Carrie again. Shaun never thinks he’s a hero. He’ll save a drowning child in the hotel pool and never tell anyone about it. Where other people will trumpet saving a turtle in the middle of the road, Shaun will just do it.

Shaun’s pretty awesome. We need more Shauns.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

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

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

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


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

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

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Dear Bully, Ten Years Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

HEY YOU! AUTHORS! I AM PROUD OF YOU!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

BULLYING ON MEDIUM?

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

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

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

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

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

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

James Rodemeyer 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Can You Do?

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

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

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

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

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

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

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


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

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

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching You?

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Simple Story Structure, Pokemon Oreos and Do You Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching You?
/

There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to figure out story structure.

There’s Save the Cat, the Snowflake Method, the Five-Act, the Four-Act, the Six-Act.

But sometimes all of those complicated methods bog some of our writer brains down.

So today we’re going to give you a super quick guide to story structure for your novel. You ready?

Step One:

Name it. This does not have to be its forever name, just a way for you to find the computer file. It can be THE EVIL NOVEL THAT HAS NO NAME RIGHT NOW. That’s fine.

Step Two:

Find a hero. Name them. Put them in a jam or a bad place. Maybe they suck at making commitments? Maybe they need a promotion. Maybe they live under the stairs. Give them a problem.

Step Three:

Think about what has to occur in order for them to ovary up enough to try to deal with that problem.

Step Four:

Now decide what is going to change once that hero gets proactive and tries to deal with that problem or once they take action.

Step Five:

Are things different for our little hero now? How?

Step Six

Okay. Something else needs to happen so that the story takes a turn or a veer to the right or left. What makes it go in another direction?

Step Seven

Make things worse for our poor hero. How are they worse?

Step Eight

Okay. If this is a positive change arc where the hero ends up in a better place, what is it that inspires them to make a big effort and go for that win?

Step Nine

What is the big win (positive change arc) or the big loss (negative change arc)

There you go, how to figure out your novel’s basic structure in nine easy steps? Do you feel heroic, writer? You should.

Writing Tip of the Pod

It’s okay to make it simple when it comes to story structure. It really is.

Dog Tip for Life

When your people turn your head and look at you and you realize you’ve been caught, it’s time to stop because then they just think you’re a creeper.

Resources

https://www.npr.org/2021/09/26/1040779728/pokemon-oreo-cookies-ebay-pikachu-mew

SHOUT OUT!

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

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

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

Here’s the link.

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

The man in my driveway and yes, I’ve lost two best friends

Recently one of my friends asked about the past best friends in my life and I told her how two of my last closest friends had died. She had a hard time with that.

One of those friends grew old enough for his big, ancient wool sweaters to hang off his scarecrow shoulders when I took him to doctor’s appointments. One died cooking breakfast for visitors at an inn, his gorgeous heart taking him away.

And this past Friday, another friend fell to the floor and never regained consciousness. She had done so much for me when we were Rotary International zone coordinators together and it still seems impossible that she’s gone.

I miss my friends all the time, but I always feel so lucky that I had them in my life. My friend cried about this. I didn’t. When I told my daughter about it she just said, “You’re resilient, Mommy. That’s okay.”

“I am?”

I’m not sure if she’s right, but I know those men, Grady and Don, are stories that I’ve pulled into my own heart, stories that I can pull out when I need them, remember, and bask in the warmth. Karen will be like that, too. But not all stories are quite like that. Not all of them have known endings.

About ten years ago for about a month, every night when I walked my dogs, there was this guy standing in front of my driveway. 

This would be okay, but he never spoke.

Seriously.

Like Scotty the dog would run right towards him and the guy just stood there….

And I would say, “Oh! Sorry! My dog likes people. Too much.”

The man? He just still stood there….

Then I’d say, “Yeah … Sorry! Have a good night.”

The man? He just kept standing there.

I tried to figure out if he was doing normal standing there outside man things such as:

1. Talking on his cell phone.
2. Smoking a cigarette.
3. Mumbling to himself about the zombie apocalypse.
4. Debating whether or not Dancing With The Stars or The Voice is fixed. 

But he wasn’t.

At all.

He was just standing there. He always turned and faced me too when I came out, but because it was so dark where I lived, I could never actually make out much of his face.

And then I blogged about him (on LiveJournal, it was awhile ago) and he never came back.

He became an unsolved mystery, a constant presence that just–poof!–disappeared.

There is more than logic at work at times like this. Our brains know the possibilities, the complexity of reasons why a man might be randomly standing at the end of a stranger’s driveway, might shirk away when she tries to communicate–how big, how far apart–realities can be. But there is also a beautiful kind of magic in the possibilities–the whispers of potential communication, the stages of a life, the stories of it.

I’ll never know. For some reason, a man stood at the end of my driveway every night, always when I walked my dogs, even when I varied the times. For some reason, my two best friends are not here, breathing, on this earth anymore. For some reason, I am resilient.

Night in rural Maine is dark and it’s hard to see people’s faces, but when tourists visit and they remember to look up, they see skies full of beauty, stars shining out, tiny bits of past lights, so many potential stories. You remember how little you can be and also how big, how the world can make you feel so isolated and also so connected. All at once.

Maybe everyone has a random man at the end of the driveway. If we notice him, maybe he notices us, too. If we see the outline of him and he doesn’t wave back, it doesn’t matter because he was there before he was gone. Just like we are. A story we might not never know the end of, but still a story that we can try to make big and beautiful.


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

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

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

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

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

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

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

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

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

WHY WON’T ANYONE BUY MY BOOK ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

WHY WON’T ANYONE BUY MY BOOK ROASTED CHERRY TOMATO SAUCE

Recipe by CarrieCourse: Uncategorized
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Calories

300

kcal

Stuff That Goes In It

  • 2–3 lbs cherry tomatoes, stems removed just like how traditional publishing has removed your heart through their constant rejections.

  • 1/4 cup best-quality olive oil you can afford, and a bit more for roasting, so basically whatever brand is cheapest at WalMart because YOU HAVE NOT SOLD YOUR BOOK YET!

  • 1 large yellow onion, diced up. Be careful with the knife, okay?

  • 1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced. Seriously. Be careful. Knives and round things don’t always go together, much like your book and Harper Collins apparently.

  • Fancy herbs! A small bunch of fresh basil leaves;
    3–4 sprigs, fresh thyme, stems removed;
    kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste;
    steak seasoning if you can’t find any herbs–you can improvise here just like you improvised the use of a semicolon 7,777 times in you 50,000-word novel. Just kidding! Just kidding!

How to Make It

  • Find the oven and turn it on. No not that way! Power it on and set the temperature to 400 Fahrenheit or 204 Celsius.

    Feel good about that positive action step towards your goal.

    Think of other positive action steps towards your goal of traditional publishing.

    Possibly cry by the sink as you clean your cherry tomatoes. Wash your tears down the sink. Add this to your novel and then come back to the kitchen.
  • Take your beautiful little baby tomatoes and use just enough of that expensive olive oil to lightly coat them. You might want to toss them around.

    Do not take out your frustrations on the tomatoes. Realize you and your books are the tomatoes, totally at the whim of a subjective industry.

  • Spread your tomatoes out on a baking pan or sheet. Something rimmed. You don’t want them to tumble off into the abyss of the stove.

    Realize that thought/image really makes your heart hurt. Definitely get a rimmed sheet.

  • Cook for about 25-30 minutes. Roast until they’ve bursted or started to shrivel.

    Oh, salty unicorns! This metaphor hurts!


  • Take them out of the oven.

    Put all that olive oil into a sauce pan or pot that has a heavy bottom. Ponder your own heavy bottom because you followed the experts’ advice and kept your butt in chair to write your novel. AND FOR WHAT? A heavy bottom.
  • Cry into the sink again as you heat that oil on medium and wait for it to shimmer in a way that your writing career isn’t, damn it.
  • Put onions into the pot so you have an excuse to cry. Stir them a bit for around 4-5 minutes.
  • Add garlic. Realize you should have put freaking vampires in your book to get it to sell. Vow to do that.
  • Put those shriveled tomatoes and their cooking liquid (aka tears) and herbs in with the garlic and onion. Add salt and pepper. Add a handful of sugar if you’re feeling naughty.

    Put the heat on low. Put a lid on the pot, but turn the heat down to low.

    Make it so the cover isn’t on tightly, but has a one-inch gap.
  • You can simmer it for 25 minutes to one hour.

    Use that time to add a vampire to your novel.
  • Take the pot off the stovetop. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes.

    Use that time to add a love triangle to your novel. And maybe a zombie?

  • Being super careful, transfer the cooled mixture into a blender. Blend.


Notes

Haunted Bunkbeds and Other Spooky Objects

Loving the Strange
Loving the Strange
Haunted Bunkbeds and Other Spooky Objects
/

On this week’s LOVING THE STRANGE, we’re talking about the spookiest objects to start of a month of spooky.

Possessed bunkbeds? We’ve got them.

Possessed dolls? Yawn. Obviously.

Plantation mirrors. Check.

RESOURCES

https://the-line-up.com/haunted-objects

https://www.ranker.com/list/tallman-house-haunting/erin-wisti

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/10/07/metro/maine-citys-series-strange-events-are-giving-off-some-serious-stephen-king-vibes/

And dummies.com, which refuses to connect.

What Does It Mean to Be Brave

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
What Does It Mean to Be Brave
/

No video today! Sorry!

This week things got a bit hectic. Apologies. But we wanted to quickly talk about what it means to be brave and of course, ask you to send in your Be Brave stories. Because we are still on a mission to share these stories and sing your praises with the world.

The Oxford Dictionary defines bravery as:

Ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.

And that’s pretty interesting because there are three components going on there:

You’re ready.

You’re going to endure something.

You’re showing courage.

The ability to endure is really about the ability to persevere, to face our fears and/or our circumstances and still be ready.

Ready for what?

Ready for whatever is heading towards us, the good, the terrifying, the empowering, all of it.

A lot of us spend a lot of our lives worried about worst case scenarios, rejections, falling down, and all of that energy we spend worrying? We can spend it actively moving towards our own moral and/or creative evolution and our goals.

Imagine: How cool would it be if you spent all the time you currently spend worrying about failing and instead use that time towards actively going after the things you want, the life you want to have, the person you want to be.

That’s what enduring is about. It’s about overcoming. And sometimes it’s about persisting. And almost all the time it’s about dealing with the fear that’s holding us back.

So much of the time the fear that’s holding us back? It comes from us.

Being brave means living in the moment, speaking with compassion.

Being brave means standing up for what you believe is right even when nobody else thinks the same thing.

Sometimes being brave is something as simple as responding to a Facebook post, or being compassionate, or reacting with empathy instead of anger.

Sometimes being brave is reaching out to someone else and saying, “This guy is a creep.”

Sometimes being brave is looking at yourself and know when you’re holding yourself back.

Being brave is truly defined by you and what you think it takes to persevere, to endure, to be ready and to shine.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

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

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

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

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

Email us at carriejonesbooks@gmail.com


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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

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


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

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

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

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


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

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

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

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

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

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

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

How one ex-cop has mellowed out

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

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

Shaun squinting.

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

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

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

So, here is the thing.

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

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

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

We must take a quick commercial break for some backstory.

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

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

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

What a waste of a lot years that was!

Now we return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I did my part.

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

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

Remember to always Love Your Way Through It!

Peace,

Shaun

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

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

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

great new mystery
romantic suspense set in Bar Harbor Maine

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

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

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

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

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