Wednesday Writing Hints – It is TOTALLY okay if you hate critique groups. Seriously. To Heck With Them!

Writing is lonely. I get it. And some writers are actually – gasp! – extroverts who want feedback in a group setting with other writers where they can drink coffee or brews or have snacks and dip and discuss how to make their writing better.

That is lovely.

That is not everyone.

And it is okay if it is not you.

I was talking to one of my favorite writers that I’ve mentored last week. And she said, “You don’t have a reader, do you?”

And I was like, “No. I trust no humans.”

She laughed.

This is only partially true. I trust my agent of awesome. I trust my editors. But I’ve had some wicked bad times with critique groups. Here’s why:

Ways Critique Groups Can Go Wrong

Group Think

Sometimes your group will have an alpha writer. She is the goddess of the group and once she says something? All the other writers will grovel and try to get her to love and mimic everything she says.

If she says, “It needs more emotional resonance during this paragraph where you are describing the city.”

Then, they will say, “Yeah. I’m not feeling this paragraph.”

And they will also say, “Whoa. Yeah. This paragraph has no heart.”

And these will be the same people who told you before group how much they loved the exact same paragraph. I have seen this happen over and over again. I’m not a fan of it.

Not All Readers are the Same or Want the Same Thing.

Not all readers like the same thing. So, I’m not a fan of Fifty Shades of Gray. If I were in that author’s writing group, I’d have TOTALLY screwed up her book if she listened to me.

And that would have impacted our economy and a lot of people’s sex lives.

A lot of critique groups have different genres represented, which is awesome, but a lot of times they skew to the literary genre of adult contemporary. I once witnessed a woman with one literary fiction novel absolutely skewer and make cry another woman who had published multiple romance novels that were bestsellers.

We all have different tastes.

I lost my chill and left that group, which leads me to this…

Sometimes We Have No Chill

While writing is communication between the writer and the reader and therefore relies on others, it is also an art. And when you create something, something that you feel strongly about and work really hard over it? Well, sometimes when people criticize it, even constructively, it hurts your soul and if you have no chill? Yeah. Critique groups can suck.

It’s not good to have an assault charge on your record if you write picture books, just saying.

Critique Groups Often Only Get Small Chunks of Big Stories at a Time

So, unlike beta readers, they can’t really focus on the structure and pace of the story. That makes it really hard to figure out what might be structurally wrong with the story or its pacing or its emotional through lines.

Plus, it’s also really frustrating when the story is super good and you want to know what happens next.

Sometimes the People in Your Writing Group Aren’t the Best Writers Themselves

So, unlike the alpha-mentor situation, sometimes a writing group will be made up of a bunch of really crappy writers all trying to help each other, but not really knowing how to, but still being super confident about giving writing advice.

This usually doesn’t end well.

Unexpected Nudity

I have been in two different critique groups where someone’s husband has wandered into the room totally naked. And it was just… If you aren’t expecting a naked man in the room when you’re talking about plots and subplots and believable dialogue…? Well, it makes it a little weird. Not in a good way.

What is my point?

My point is that critique groups can sometimes suck and hurt you, and hurt your story. So, if you’re in one and it starts feeling toxic? It’s okay to leave. Writing well is about learning how to hear your voice, the voice of the story, and then crafting that in such a way that others get it too. Yes! Sometimes critique groups can help with that and that is awesome. But don’t be afraid or be hard on yourself if it doesn’t work for you.

You are still awesome.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness 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.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for October! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book NEED is on sale in ebook version on Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically about human-sized pixies trying to start an apocalypse.

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Writers! We are thrilled to announce that The Writing Barn’s 2019 Write. Submit. Support. faculty will be Picture Book writer & illustrator Jessixa Bagley and YA author Carrie Jones. 

Are you looking for a group to support you in your writing process and help set achievable goals? Are you looking for the feedback and connections that could potentially lead you to that book deal you’ve been working towards?

Our Write. Submit. Support. (WSS) six-month ONLINE course offers structure and support not only to your writing lives and the manuscripts at hand, but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors.

Past Write. Submit. Support. students have gone on to receive representation from literary agents across the country. View one of our most recent success stories here

Learn more below about this year’s faculty…

Apply Now!

WSS Picture Book Faculty

Jessixa Bagley’s artistic career has been a mix of comics, fine art, and illustration. She’s worked with publications such as: The Chicago Reader, The Seattle Weekly, The Stranger, Nickelodeon Magazine, and Highlights.

Her debut picture book, Boats for Papa (June 2015) has earned many accolades and awards including a Fall 2015 Junior Library Guild Selection, the SCBWI 2016 Golden Kite Award for Best Picture Book Text as well a the 2016 Washington State Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award. Her picture book, Laundry Day, was not only a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2016 but it also received a 2018 Ezra Jack Keats Honor Award for Writing. Her most recent picture book, Vincent Comes Home,  is a collaboration with her husband, Aaron Bagley. All of her picture books are with Neal Porter for Roaring Brook Press.

Currently, she lives in Seattle, Washington in a castle in the sky with her wonderful husband, painfully adorable son, and a slew of houseplants that all have names. She still loves hamburgers, drawing, and anthropomorphic food. She is represented by Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow Literary. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter!

WSS Fiction (MG,YA, Adult) Faculty

Carrie Jones is the The New York Times bestseller author of the Need series, Time Stoppers series, Flying series, GirlHeroTips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend, and Love (and other uses for duct tape). She is also the coauthor, with Steve Wedel, of After Obsession and the upcoming In the Woods. She also co-edited Dear Bully. She also writes picture books about unconventional spies. Her books have been published all around the world, been bestsellers in France (thank you, France), and have received numerous awards.

Carrie lives in Bar Harbor, Maine and launched the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival, and is active in Rotary International as the Public Image Coordinator for much of Canada and a lot of the United States. She’s also part of the Rotary Campaign against Human Trafficking.

A former newspaper reporter, poetry and news editor, city councilor, gymnastics coach, and volunteer firefighter, Carrie has won numerous press awards for newspaper writing and photography. She is a big fan of rescue animals and currently has three, Spartacus, Gabby, and Marsie.

 

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Don’t Let Them Make You Sit Down

A long time ago, our daughter Em was taking karate, which was the only martial art available then in our town.

She was eight years old and tiny.

The instructor was Shaun size – sort of – and bald, super intimidating. He had all the little ones line up and kick rectangular strike pads. Em’s kick was so unexpected and powerful that the adult holding the pad fell over.

Did they tell her, “Good job?”

Nope.

They made her sit down.

“What did I do wrong, Mommy?” Em asked.

“Nothing, buddy. Nothing.”

And a mom next to us whispered, “You were too strong. They don’t know what to do with women who are too strong.”

Em got called back up and got to join the group again. This time the kids were kicking the instructor’s shin. It was Em’s turn. She wound up and executed the kick perfectly. The instructor lurched backwards, held his shin, and told her to sit down.

Again.

Em was smaller than the rest of those kids in there, but she was powerful and they didn’t know what to do with that. They couldn’t even understand it. How could this perfectly behaved, tiny child be so strong?

And sometimes that happens with us throughout our lives and our writing. Our power surprises even us. We’ll wonder where it came from? We’ll wonder what it means. And sometimes other people will not know what to do with it. Those people might be our mentors, or our families, or strangers on the internet.

But here’s the thing.

Don’t let them make you sit down or sit out. If you surprise them with your power? That’s on them. It’s not on you.

WRITING TIP OF THE POD:

Don’t be afraid to dig deep to get your power.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE:

Don’t let the other dogs out-alpha you. Pick your battles. But win. Don’t give away your shot.

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.

 

The links below get you to the podcast episode that goes with these words! During it, I (Carrie) blow out my knee. Plus, we tell the story of Alexander the Great’s horse. Awesome stuff. 🙂

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

HOW TO GET SIGNED COPIES: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

ART STUFF

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes every Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

The Politics of Hope and Despair and Anger

This weekend one of my tweets was put in a Twitter Moment, which are ‘curated stories’ that someone puts together almost like a slideshow. And it was a little strange because while there were suddenly thousands of likes, there were also some random people saying that I made the tweet/interaction up.

And part of me was like, “Wow. They think I’m that clever! That’s so nice.”

And another part of me was like, “Wow. Humanity is pretty sad if people are grumpy about my tweet.”

And then there was a whole other aspect when a couple of people used my tweet to expose their hate about lesbians.

“Don’t look,” my friends told me. “Just don’t even read the comments. There’s nothing you can do.”

 

Hope and despair and anger.

In politics they can be collective movements, ways to band together. And right now many of my friends are full of despair and longing for hope. And a couple of my friends are full of hope. And some are full of anger. And I am full of all of those emotions and more.

And I worry for all of us.

“All we need is… all we need is hope and for that we have each other,” Andra Day sings in her song ‘Rise Up,’ which you should absolutely go listen to whenever possible because it’s a brilliant song by a talented woman.

Pluralism

Back in 1993, John Rawls talked about how in a pluralistic society with multiple points of views and desired outcomes, there can be no final consensus amongst us, its citizens.

My tweet was a little bit of evidence about that, but Rawls is talking more about government and political outcomes.

He argued that governments can’t make all citizens happy, so all we can expect is for the government to go after those main causes that almost everyone agrees on – human rights, to not discriminate, to make decisions in a democratic and rational way. Anything bigger than that? It’s impossible to achieve.

And this is sort of amusing now (in a bad way) because it seems that even those main causes are no longer agreed upon. I mean, I’ve been trolled for writing about sexual trafficking and human trafficking. It seems like ending human slavery would be one of those main causes that everyone agrees on. And yet…?

Self Respect

Decades before this, back in the 1970s, Rawls noted that the self respect is integral. A citizen of a society can only have self respect when she/he/they know that their country is committed to justice and fair treatment for them.

And that expectation – that they matter, that they won’t be discriminated against, that the laws are fair – is currently being dismantled for a lot of Americans and for many Americans, that expectation has been pretty fragile for awhile now because of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, and class.  For some of the disenfranchised that expectation has barely existed ever. Yet, there needs to be hope that that expectation will exist and will be met, that we will all be heard, treated with dignity, be free and safe to worship, marry, vote, learn, and live without threat of bodily harm.

So how do you find hope?

Remember these things:

  1. Younger generations are smart and charged up.
  2. More diverse people are running for office
  3. The more extreme people get, the more there becomes a call for the middle – and leaders for that middle. Consensus builders. We need consensus builders in a world of polarities.
  4. The stripping away of belief in institutions and in our selves actually leads us towards a collective orientation towards hope again, towards something we can (or most of us can) work towards. Because all the good guys want rights, want respect, want others to be respected, too.

As Sam Dresser writes, “When political movements seek to rekindle hope, they are not acting on the assumption that individual people no longer hope for things – they are building on the idea that hope does not currently shape our collective orientation toward the future. The promise of a ‘politics of hope’ is thus the promise that hope for social justice will become part of the sphere of collective action, of politics itself.”

Hope and despair and anger? They can co-exist. They can lead to action. They aren’t definitive states. I despair that some people are evil and I’m angry at injustices, but I hope that I can take action and change things and that we can collectively rise about those things, and that I personally can become a better human. I hope you’ll do that, too.

My despair and anger can lead to hope and action and change. The emotions can overlap and coexist just like people do. But to do that, we have to ‘have each other,’ as Andra Day sings.

So, let’s do that. Let’s have each other instead of having at each other.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!

My Post-2 copy

I can’t deal with life right now or it’s time for Banana Peanut Butter Toast

Sometimes, life seems like too much.

Sometimes, you’ve been trying to get your household to become vegetarians and you fail and you fail and you fail.

Sometimes, you want to quit all your volunteer organizations and maybe move so that you have a reason to quit that doesn’t make you seem like a quitter.

And so you make this.

I CAN'T DEAL WITH LIFE. WE ARE HAVING PEANUT BUTTER TOAST RECIPE

This recipe is adapted from the much saner version at https://www.wellplated.com/peanut-butter-banana-toast-granola-honey/


Course Breakfast, Dessert, dinner
Cuisine American
Keyword toast
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 4 minutes
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 4 humans

Ingredients

  • 4 slices thickish bread make it hearty, who knows when you will eat again
  • 4 tbsp peanut butter
  • 3 tbsp honey It costs so much money. Try not to think about that. Just be psyched it isn't sugar and feel virtuous
  • 2 big bananas
  • 1 oz granola if you have it.

Instructions

  1. Look. Sometimes life is really hard to deal with. 

  2. And sometimes a writer just can't deal. 

    Because... life.

  3. So get out a knife that is barely sharp enough to cut a banana and slice the bananas.

    There! Good job! 

  4. At the same time, toast your bread.

    To do this you need a toaster. 

    If you do not have a toaster or it is so full of crumbs that it's a fire hazard, you can toast the bread in a skillet over medium low-heat on an oven.


  5. Admire toast. Toast is beautiful. 

    YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, WRITER PERSON. You might be having a cruddy day, but you are still amazing. Really. 

  6. Put the peanut butter on the toast and spread it out. 

    Boom. Beautiful!

  7. Put those banana slices on top of the peanut butter.

    Also, put the knife safely away, turn off stove if you used it. Unplug the toaster if you used it. We want safe, healthy writers here. 


  8.  Drizzle that honey on top. 

    Sprinkle granola if you are totally wealthy. 

    Eat! Eat! Writers, need nutrition and calories! 

MAN VERDICT

This makes me happy. What else are we eating?

DOGS’ VERDICT

PEANUT BUTTER IS THE BEST BUTTER!

Gabby the Dog Cooking with a Writer Recipes - Peanut Butter is Awesome
Peanut Butter is Awesome!

CARRIE VERDICT

I feel like I’m seven. I like that.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM
LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy
ENHANCED YA SCIENCE FICTION BY CARRIE JONES

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – Subplot me up, baby

Subplots, it sounds sort of — lesser, doesn’t it? It’s not the real plot; it’s the plot beneath. It’s not the master plot. It’s the plot below.

Subplots are actually made of awesome. They make your story richer, denser, more expansive.

What do subplots do for your story?

  1. They keep it interesting by adding detail, action, and character relations.
  2. Make things more complicated.
  3. Give the main theme and plot some backup.

Sub means ‘at a lower level of position,’ but the truth is that if you’re going to use a subplot in your story, you still have to pay attention to the evil thing and make sure that it has the same elements as your regular plot.

To have a successful subplot:

  1. They have to influence the main plot eventually.
  2. They have to connect to the characters in the main plot.
  3. They have to show a variety of experience.

Write Naked-3

And there are three main kinds of subplots:

  • Conflict – Ouch. In Star Wars the fact that Obiwan and Anakin had a whole big history before he became Darth makes their conflict tastier. Same thing with Kylo and Han and everybody else.
  • Expository – The stuff that’s making your plot happen. Oops. Made some hamsters with super predatory DNA that also enlarges them to the size of elephants at HAMSTER WORLD? Yep. There’s a subplot. Some evil guys want to use those hamsters for weapons because one of them was once had a beloved hamster killed by a raging cat? There you go.
  • Romantic – If you’re worried about your main characters getting together or maybe some secondary characters having that big sexy moment? You’ve got a romantic subplot.

Elizabeth Sims writes, “Think of subplots as simply strands of stories that support or drive the main plot.”

In a Writers Digest article, she details ways to add subplots.

The Seven Ways to Add Subplots are Basically:

1. The Isolated Chunk – a side trip

2. The Parallel Line 

3. The Swallowtail  

4. The In-and-Out 

5. The Bookend

6. The Bridge Character

7. The Clue

 

There you go – a subplot primer. Run with it, writers! Master those subs!

 

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM
LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – Stupid Writing Tips are Stupid

Everyone gives advice in life and in writing and you know that they are usually intending to be helpful and all that, but sometimes you just want to scream at them to shut up.

I know! I know! That sounds harsh. But the truth is harsh.

Sometimes it’s hard to listen to people giving you advice when you know that they’re cheating on their wife or are a pathological liar or are just a really bad writer. Yet, these people almost always are still super assured of their RIGHTNESS, in their own brilliant advice, and their confidence and sometimes condescension makes you want to give them the finger.

You know we’re right. You know these people.

And sometimes these people are just repeating these edicts or mandates because they’ve heard them forever and they don’t think about them anymore, they just accept them as truths.

They aren’t truths.

So, here is a piece of writing advice that drives Carrie crazy.

DON’T USE ADJECTIVES OR ADVERBS. EVER.

Writing Tip of the Pod:

Use adjectives, adverbs, made-up-words. Use whatever you please, but make sure it sounds good.

Adjectives and adverbs are not the antichrist and there are places when they come in handy and make things beautiful. Like here:

“Below the knee, the hairiness came to a halt, and his legs narrowed into tough, bony, almost fleshless calves, terminating into shiny, cloven hooves, such as one might find on any billygoat.” – Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses

That sounds pretty damn good, doesn’t it?

But in a excerpt like this next one? Not so much.

His icky hair stopped right under his ugly knees. His narrow, bony calves ended in shiny hooves.

The point is to know what you’re doing. Find your style. Define it. Command it.

Dog Tip for Life:

You get to define you. Not others. Advice? Take it or leave it. Whenever something is presented to you as an absolute truth, take a moment and think about it. Question it. Question everything.

Here’s the Podcast! YOU CAN LISTEN HERE!

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

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, will come out next Tuesday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Bears Like Me

One night a long while ago, due to a top secret mission (that involved NOTHING illegal or alcohol, I swear) I came home at 4:30 a.m.  When I stepped out of the MINI, I was sort of weirded out.

There was a noise in the woods.

Hm, I thought, pixies?

No, I thought. Pixies are just in my NEED books. They aren’t actually in the woods.

This thought did not help since the things in my books tend to happen to me in real life after I write them. So being a calm and normal writer, I freaked out and ran inside. Tala, the Super Dog (who is no longer with us) was waiting at the door.

She leapt on me, kissed me, and then Tala the Super Dog reminded me that she is Tala the Super Pee Dog. She made her needs very clear by running around in circles by the door and giving me puppy dog sad eyes.

Tala: Seriously? It’s a long night when you can’t use a toilet.

So, I snapped on the leash and brought her outside. She immediately went into SOMETHING IS WRONG mode and started smelling in circles and growling and sniffing, hauling me up the driveway with her leash fully extended and totally ignoring all my please to sit, stay, slow down, and just-stop-for-the-love-of-God-just stop.

She was a Pyr. They don’t listen when they think they know better than you do. This is so true that there are memes and gifs about it.

Unknown

So, I held on and prayed.

And that is when there was a noise in the big long grass by the side of the driveway.
And that is when I stopped walking.
And that is when I started murmuring, Please don’t let evil pixies be real.
And that is when Tala freaked out completely.

It was not ‘freaking out,’ human. It was DOGGY DEFENSE MODE! Geesh.

She lunged and growled and then got very still. I wrapped the leash around my wrists and held on with both hands. All of Tala’s doggy hairs stood up straight. So, um, did mine.

And that is when the bear came out of the underbrush.
And that is when the bear got all bristly.

And that is when Tala got macho and all, YOU ARE SO NOT COMING ANY CLOSER BEAR.
And that is when the bear got all, OH YEAH . YOU THINK YOU CAN TAKE ME?

And that is when I thought, ALL THE OTHER BLACK BEARS I’VE EVER MET WERE SHY.
And that is when I thought, OH MAN!!! OH MAN!!! IT’S GOING TO KILL MY SUPER DOG.

And that is when I got super human strength and somehow yanked Tala back and ran in reverse into the garage, dragging her the whole way.

Tala: Let me just say, I let it her drag me back. Carrie is a pacifist. She couldn’t have handled the gore. Plus, I didn’t want to humiliate that bear. Bears have such egos.

Anyway, I have seen a lot of bears in the woods and I have never been scared of them, not ever, but that morning? Totally different story.

And it kind of reminds me of my life right now. All these normal things like writing and revising and blogging and living, walking dogs, hugging friends, things I love, have all become a tiny bit scary. And even when other people try to protect me, it’s really up to me to hang on and do the right thing and haul butt into the garage and regroup.

Is your life ever like that?

If it is, I’m sending you a Tala. If it is, I want you to have hope. If it is, I want you to know that you are important and beautiful and you matter.

But even though they are a tiny bit scary, I still love these things, even people. Yes, even the scary people. I hope you can find love and hope, too.

Here’s the only thing I know: It’s worth it to go up the driveway and face the bears.

WRITING NEWS

NEED is on sale for Kindle sales on Amazon for a mere $1,99 this month. Snatch it up! :

Screen Shot 2018-10-01 at 3.56.50 PM
LINK TO BUYING THIS BAD BOY

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought comes out tomorrow! Check it out, like and subscribe!

The Guy Who Spat on Me & Why We Should Think

Today, I wrote on a friend’s Facebook page:  I am so sad.

And a man, who considers himself an ally wrote: I’m not sad. I’m angry.

Honestly? It made me so angry. His comment just basically pushed me to the edge because no matter what his intent, it was like he was one-upping my sorrow by expressing his man anger.

Yes, he is a liberal man. I tend to be liberal too, especially about social issues. And that’s part of what bothered me. I prefer it when people who think they are on my side don’t negate my sorrow with their anger. But I also prefer it when people think and speak in context and with empathy.

I’m editing this to add here that he didn’t intend to do this. I respect him a lot for saying that and appreciate it and his apology an incredible amount. So often results aren’t the same as intentions. Believe me. I know this personally and none of us are always perfect in how and when we state things or how and when we receive them. And when we mess up and hurt someone unintentionally? If you’re a good person, it hurts us so much, too. So much.

The times when I’ve hurt the most in my life have been when I’ve unintentionally hurt other people, but I always want to know when I’ve done that because that’s what helps me grow and hopefully not make that same mistake again.

Anyway, that seemingly small moment? It made me remember when I last ran for office and why I will never run for office again and the truth of it is this – People don’t think like I do. And even though I’m cool with that, it’s frustrating. Because I don’t believe in negating other people’s emotions in favor of my own. I don’t believe in creating a hierarchy of emotions or ‘correct responses.’ That’s not exactly what he did but as a survivor of violence, it’s what it felt like. He was trying to express solidarity, I think, but instead it made my voice/emotion feel unheard with that simple phrasing of “I’m not (what you are). I am this more powerful emotion.”

It is such a small thing. I know that.

Still, I am often voiceless and I felt like that again. It made me think of this:

Here’s a story about what happened to me back in 2008 when I was foolishly running for office.  I feel pretty naive about what I wrote then, but I’m posting it anyways. Because I feel foolishly naive today too, especially when I look at my Facebook feed and see community members screaming at each other in ALL CAPS and berating each other’s views.

Today I went to a house and the man put down his chainsaw ( I kid you not) and I gave him my material and said who I was and that I was running.

He looked at the card and said, “What party are you?”

I said, “My husband has always been a Republican and I’m a Democrat and we tend — ”

He stepped up to where he was three inches away from my face and shouted, “Get out of my NAUGHTY WORD driveway you NAUGHTY WORD democrat. You’ve NAUGHTY WORDED everything up.”

He was really close. His fists were clenched. His face was red. He looked like he was about to hit me.

Then he spat in my face. It went in my nostril. Seriously. I now have the worst case of cooties ever.

Plus, you know, the shakes.

Oh, he also threw my brochure at me. It hit me in the head. I used it to wipe away the spittle.

But mostly I was amazed by the hate. I truly believe that not all Democrats are the same, that not all Republicans or Greens or Libertarians are the same. I also truly believe that to assume all members of a political party have the exact same beliefs with the exact same intentions and the exact same nuances is a bigotry. There’s a lot of bigotry out there. I think this is one, too.

Mostly, though, I’m stunned that a man in my city (pop: 6,000) thinks it’s okay to swear at someone and spit at them just because of their political party.

Plus, one of my biggest wants is for their to be more bipartisanship and cooperation in our state legislature. You know… We all have the same goal, don’t we? To have a strong state, strong communities, good economies and good lives?

There is a lot of talk about what teen culture was like in the 1980s compared to now. There is a lot of talk about how hate is given free reign now. But the thing is? The hate has always been there. It was obviously there in 2008.

It was also there in 1992 when Pat Buchanan was running for the Republican nomination for president. At one of his rallies in Manchester, N.H., the men were tallying how many men each women in attendance would have to have sex with in order for every man to get laid. His campaign workers drove down the main drag of Manchester with bull horns and chanted, “We are the gay bashers. We bash gays.”

A date had brought me to the rally so I could “see what his candidate was like.” The same guy told me I’d be a good breeder because my skin is fair and my eyes are blue, but he was concerned by the narrowness of my hips.

I called my mom and she brought me home.

And the hate and the degragation of women and the disenfranchised continues now, obviously. It continues and continues and continues.

I’ve read a lot of comments about ‘boys will be boys’ and how the ‘culture of the 1980s’ was different, but I was talking to one of my favorite straight male friends yesterday and he said, “Yeah. No.”

“What do you mean? ‘Yeah. No?'”

And he said, “Look, I partied pretty hard right after high school and it was the 80s. This high school girl hung around with us for awhile and would get really drunk.”

I didn’t want to hear his story. I admit it. But I didn’t stop him. I listened.

And he told me that one night the girl was so drunk that she basically couldn’t stand up. He and his best friend carried her into a bedroom. She tried to get naked. She made passes at each of them. They wouldn’t touch her sexually. Instead, one of them slept on one side of the bed on the floor. The other one slept on the floor at the bottom of the bed.

“Why’d you do that?” I asked.

“Because we wanted to be good men. We wanted her to be safe, But we… we wanted to be good.”

Two white guys. The 1980s.

“I know everyone’s talking about ‘Sixteen Candles’ and using that scene as some sort of evidence that it was totally fine to rape your friends if they were drunk. It wasn’t,” he said. He sighed. “It’s ridiculous. There are scenes like that now in movies and books, comedy specials. But the thing is that if you are a good person, you know what’s right or what’s wrong. That’s always going to be wrong.”

I’ve just heard a similar story about a woman and two guys in their 20s. It happened just this summer. They were all wasted but they didn’t touch her and she didn’t touch them.

Why?

Because that’s what it is to be good.

No. We can’t all be perfect all the time, but there are some things, some important things, that we have to realize as a society aren’t right.

We don’t deserve to be spat on.

We don’t deserve to be told that our emotions don’t matter or to be one-upped on emotional responses.

We all deserve to be safe, to have rights, to be treated with kindness, to be with our loved ones whenever we can, to be respected for the things we do.

We all deserve to have the opportunity to try to be good.

None of us deserve to be afraid of cops, of men, of going to school or our religious institutions, or our own home. But to get there? We have to march into where we are different, where we don’t all think alike or act alike. We have to explore our own wounds and listen to others when they tell their stories.

Being sad, crying, feeling emotions isn’t a weakness. It’s a gift and a strength. And we’ve got to use it to embrace others and to look into the corners of ourselves where we can grow and evolve. All of us.

Sadness is just as valid an emotion as anger and vice versa. But you know what my favorite emotion is? It’s love. And hope? It’s first runner-up. Let’s all try to remember those things to even as we feel our sorrow and anger and pain.

 

COOKING WITH A WRITER – Black Bean Soup of the Soul

So, I am a bit down lately, mostly because:

  1. I am a writer
  2. I live in the U.S.
  3. Politics

I gave up and am giving you all this – the Black Bean Soup that Reflects the State of My Inner Soul Right This Second Because I am DIRE.

Yeah.

 

Black Bean Soup Because The World Sucks

Sometimes the world sucks and you need a dark soup to match your feelings. Am I right? 

This is a new version of a black bean soup I wrote about before. You can never have enough black bean soup recipes. Can you?

Course dinner
Cuisine soup, tex-mex, vegetarian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 souls
Calories 350 kcal

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 whole onions chopped
  • 6 whole garlic cloves chopped/pressed
  • 3 ribs celery chopped
  • 1 whole carrot chopped
  • 5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes or hot sauce to taste really
  • 60 oz black beans canned, drained
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • .5 cup cilantro optional, to taste
  • 4 cups broth!

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in soup pot over medium heat. 

    Stare at it until it shimmers. 

    Remember when you used to shimmer.

    Sigh dramatically.

    Throw in the onions, celery and carrot.

    Sigh again because honestly? What is the point.

    Put in salt, blood pressure be damned.  

  2. Stir once in awhile. Eventually the vegetable will get soft.

    "Eventually" is 10 to 15 minutes. This is a much shorter 'eventually' than when waiting for your editor to return your email. But whatever. 

  3. Add in the smelly things -  garlic, cumin and red pepper flakes.

    Wonder if you're a smelly thing? When did you last bathe? Was it before 2018? Join the club.

    Cook until things smell more than you do  - 30 seconds. 

  4. It's time for the dark soul part of this soup. You are miserable, aren't you? Yes, writer you are. 

    Add beans. Add broth.

    Put the heat on medium high and watch it simmer. Reduce it so it only simmers gently. If only YOU were simmering gently, but honestly? The state of the world makes you SIMMER INTO ROARING, doesn't it? Yes. Yes. It does.

    Soup is not you though. So simmer GENTLY for 30 minutes, or else it will boil over and stick to the pot and believe me, you do not have the emotional reserves to deal with that mess. 

  5. Put about 4 cups into a blender (make sure not to overload your blender because it is hot and you will get burned and you probably don't have the medical insurance to deal with that if you are an American writer). 

    Blend carefully.

    You can also use a hot-pink immersion blender if you are tired of the darkness of this soup, your soul, and this world. 

    JUST BE CAREFUL! 

  6. Put the blended stuff back in the soup pot. Mix. Add in  cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper.

    Sigh.

    Eat it.

    Sigh more. 

Man Verdict – It tastes sad.

Dog Verdict – Isn’t this not good for dogs? 

My Verdict – Yep. Uh-huh. 

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!

Wednesday Writing Hints – Get Naked?

Call it what you will – nude, buff, starkers, exposed, unclothed, au naturel, in the altogether, buck naked.

I prefer to say, “in the bare scud.”

Why am I writing about this? Well, apparently some classic authors had a tendency to get naked in order to write.

CREATIVITY IN THE BARE SCUD?

In a 2012 article in the Guardian, Robert McCrum writes of singers who access creativity by being naked and talks of all the different ways us writers do the nasty.

“Do the nasty” means write, just in case you were thinking something else.

Writing naked is actually something a bunch of authors have allegedly done before.

D. H. Lawrence climbed up trees naked all the time because why not?

James Whitcomb Riley would write naked because you can’t go to a bar naked, therefore being nude increased his productivity.

This probably should be a rule about the internet too. Because we’d all be way more productive if we could just be like, “I SHALL TAKE OFF MY CLOTHES AND THEREFORE NOT BE ABLE TO GO ON THE INTERWEBS.”

Agatha Christie would hang out in her bathtub to think up writing ideas. That counts.

An old Galley Cat post by Maryann Yin states that, “Victor Hugo, Ernest Hemingway, D.H. Lawrence, James Whitcomb Riley, Edmond Rostand, Benjamin Franklin, and Agatha Christie” all wrote naked. That’s a whole lot of naked writers.

Being naked isn’t an easy thing for many of us. It’s vulnerable and fragile. It’s our body’s raw state, natural state and yet…

It feels a little weird in the American society, right? But if we think about it a little more deeply, it becomes a cool metaphor.

To write naked might mean to write clearly, cleanly so you can see every word, line, paragraph and theme.

To write naked might mean to write truth, to expose your self and your society to the eyes of your readers.

So, you can totally write naked with your clothes on. You don’t have to do a Victor Hugo. Just expose yourself to your readers (in a legal non-creepy way) by exposing the inner truths and passions of your characters and theme.

The best stories are the stories were the authors are passionate about saying something, communicating something. And yes, that really requires us to be a bit emotionally naked.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

31702754 copy

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought came out yesterday! Check it out, like and subscribe!