I Don’t Remember The Devil’s Church

The other week on our podcast, one of my high school friends mentioned in the chat that we had once gone to the Devil’s Church in Manchester, New Hampshire when we were teens.

I absolutely didn’t remember it.

They were stunned.

And I was stunned that I went to this great allegedly haunted, urban legend place of my childhood and couldn’t remember it.

“It was deep in the woods. It was terrifying,” she explained.

Still nothing.

Other people had made sacrifices there. Bones are found in the woods of animals. Symbols of hate were painted onto the hard walls; gaping holes made floors treacherous.

Still nothing.

And a lot of my high school was like that. And kind of a lot of my life. I have chosen apparently to move on and forget those bits of my life.

Anne Lamont said, “I am all the ages I have ever been,” which is probably true even if you can’t remember those ages.

There’s a layer inside all of us that is the sum of all our actions and interactions, experiences and thoughts, but there’s also a thing called living in the moment. And to live in the moment, we have to acknowledge who we were in the past, but also exult in who we are in the now. We have to take the power of our choices.

We have to seek for what is gorgeous and powerful and good in ourselves and our society. We have to evolve both upwards and outwards and keep creating who we are and what we want our world to be.

We write our own stories of our lives and we star in them. The other stories people write about us where they make us the villain or the hero or the sidekick or the bystander? They don’t matter as much as the awareness that we write our own stories. We get to decide what experiences we remember and matter, and we get to choose who we want to be in our own story.

Kind?

Ambitious?

Quirky as all get out?

Aesthetics believe that who we are can change and change quickly. The activist and political theorist Michael Foucault, it can be argued, believed that your actions create your character. Your character creates your lifestyle.  If you are aware, you can self-create who you want to be.

How do you want to shape your life? Your art? Who do you want to be?

Foucault said, “From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art.”

Let’s create ourselves into something amazing, okay?


Want to support my writer self and keep the dogs in bacon? Please think about buying a book or being a Patron or even just listening to our free podcast.

The books are great, I promise!

And thank you for being so lovely!

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!

Toxic People at the Grocery Store

This post is about choices.

I just walked to the grocery store to get three things.

And all the lines were incredibly long, which was not the grocery store’s fault. It’s a small place and we have a ton of tourists.

In happy news, the line moved quickly and I was almost out of the aisle 12 with all the toilet paper and about to get one of the self-check-out machines when I turned to say something to the man behind me apologizing for my false starts. I kept thinking one of the men at a kiosk was leaving when he wasn’t.

The very tall man behind me in his polo shirt looked all the way down at me, didn’t respond to what I said and instead questioned, “You haven’t been here. Did you step in front of me?”

“Of course not. I’ve been standing in front of you all the way down that aisle.”

I’m pretty sure I smiled and even said, “I’ve been here.”

He looked down his nose even harder, saw my mere three items in my arms and said, “I’ll let you go.”

He’ll let me go?

How absolutely lovely of him.

I’m a conflict-averse person except for when I’m defending other people (and then I’m all in) and so I deflected and tried to joke because that is how the people in my family deal with conflict and I said, “I’m kind of short, but I was here. Maybe you just didn’t see me.”

He harrumphed. This man exuded that stereotypical wealthy white man vibe. I would cast him as an older investment broker who plays golf and tennis a lot, but doesn’t make quite enough money as he should be making. In a Law and Order-style show, he’d die early on and people would shrug.

I get to my kiosk. His wife joins him and he is now at the kiosk right next to me. She’d been off collecting items while he held their place in line. She bumps me while at the kiosk and apologizes.

I say nicely, “Oh, that’s okay. I’m invisible today.”

Because apparently I am?

But then, as I’m leaving the store, another local woman recognizes me and says, “Carrie. I saw that man. I had your back. I was about to say something. But I had your back.”

And that makes it all better. She has my back. I didn’t even know she was there, but she had it. How cool is that?

Even when some people demean us, make us invisible, accuse us of things that we haven’t done, if we’re lucky there can be someone who sees us, who is ready to jump in.

While we are talking, the man and his wife leave the store, turning a sharp left into the parking lot. He lifts his arm super high in the air and gives me the finger.

Me? I laugh. Because it must be amazing to be so clueless, so full of yourself, and so unable to see the people standing right in front of you for a good seven minutes.

And I laughed because this man’s anger means that I get to bond with another woman who probably feels invisible sometimes even though she’s so amazing and kind and talented.

I laughed because people like him are truly missing out. He could have spent time laughing with me in that line. But instead? Instead he chose to be angry. To wrongly feel slighted.

We all can choose to go out into this world looking for enemies, but life is SO much happier when we go out looking for friends.

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!

Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.

I’m releasing a book today and if you could buy it? That would be great.

But that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about memory and fear and being unapologetic in your joy and your fear.

It begins with fear and memory.

Sometimes, other people seem to remember my life better than I do. I’m not talking about Facebook posts here either—those tiny little moments that are forever embossed in the narrative of a social media life, tiny moments that strung together help define me even if I don’t always remember them.

But they do help me remember.

I see the images on ‘memories’ on social media and think, “Look, I was fitting people into wheelchairs in Belize, in Panama. Look, here is where my marriage almost broke apart but didn’t. Look, here is when I stopped. Just stopped. Oh, a pretty sunset. I must have started again or pretended to.”

But there are other kinds of memories that often don’t make it onto social media.

There are things I deliberately don’t remember—usually bad things—those painful moments that I push into the back of my head so that they aren’t they main things defining me and I only bring out to help other people (hopefully).

Robin Williams has said, “The things we fear the most have already happened to us.”

Which doesn’t quite explain my mom’s phobia of birds, but does explain so many other things and choices that we make as people.

But the Williams’ quote does make me wonder why we are so afraid, especially us writers.

Failing just means nothing changes.

Success? That’s where the unknown happens.

We become so used to shrouding ourselves in doubt and fear that we don’t realize that we can shed those things, but also? We don’t realize that we can put on new clothes, new positive emotions.

We don’t have to bond with each other in collectives of despair and mutual fear, but we can reach out and up, and lift ourselves and others into something good, something brave, something that isn’t full of fear and doubt, but bravery.

How cool would that be?

I grew up in a family full of fear. My mom was afraid of birds, swimming, bridges, closed in spaces, big open spaces, bugs, dead animals, storms, miscarriages, eventually cats, so many things—too many things. One of our big family stories was how when my sister was a toddler she was terrified of grass. She’s worked her way through that, thankfully. And my mom worked her way through moments that she didn’t want to remember. They were both brave even when fear seemed overwhelming.

But what was cool about my family—especially my extended family full of steps and halves and diversity—is that when something awesome happened? Almost everyone celebrated. There was no jealousy, just joy. There was hardly any “that should be me,” only “look at you go!”

So often our insecurities make us want to tear down the joys of others, even the tiniest of happiness. And that? That’s what matters. That’s what drowns us and our own creativity and propensity for joy.

We all know someone who is a bully even as a grownup, always looking for angles to pull others down. And no, I’m not just talking about people on Twitter, but people who elate in other’s miseries. Usually? Those people are bullies, blowhards and buttheads (I wanted to use the swear word there) because they are so insecure and riddled by fear that they last out.

That doesn’t make it hurt any less when they lash out at you, but you don’t want to be like them, you know? Don’t let your fear make you into a monster.

We need to spend less time pulling people into our own fear and insecurities and more time lifting people up into bravery and light.

One of my acquaintances was having a miscarriage once and was trying to get to the hospital, walking, because it happened during a walk around town. Panicked, she called another of our mutual friends who was out of town. And then they called me.

I have lost babies. Not many people know that.

I was on massive bedrest for five months for Emily (the baby who made it) to try to keep her inside me long enough to increase her chances. Pregnancy is a scary place (and joyful one) for me.

When I drove my acquaintance to our local hospital, cars were blocking intersections, tourists were yelling at locals and vice versa and in my car the unthinkable, the harrowing, was happening. It was terrifying. The fear was all over her beautiful face, in the shake of her voice, and there we were moving through all these happy families, all this joy and chaos and in my little car something very big was happening very quietly.

I was grateful and lucky to be there for her as she endured those horrible moments with such grace, and I am grateful and lucky to be there for anyone’s tragedy and celebration because it means that I was there. That I am there.

That’s what we have to be.

There.

Despite the fear.

Despite the worry.

Despite everything.

And when we are there in the moments of our lives and others’ lives, we can choose to react with fear or with compassion, with jealousy or with joy. We get to define that in our choices over and over again, and we damn sure aren’t going to be perfect each time, but what we can do? Is try.

Try to be unapologetic in your joy, in your success.

Try to take off that shroud of fear.

Try to stand with people as they fight for things that matter.

Try to be unapologetic in your moments, in other moments, to be there, to truly be there.

Try to live bravely, to create bravely, to love and mourn and sing bravely.

We can do this. Our past sorrows and fears are there, they can be remembered when we feel strong, but we get to choose how and if they define us in the moments that we are living now. That’s pretty powerful stuff. You are pretty powerful stuff!

NEW BOOK ALERT!

INCHWORMS, the second book in the DUDE GOODFEATHER series is coming out September 1!

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.

You can buy it here!

Losing my Rings and my Balance

Friday night I took my rings off during the podcast because they were making noises—small noises—against my wooden desk.

Noises like that can be annoying.

I wear three rings, the typical wedding band duo and a clear ring from ETSY that has tiny flowers in them. You can’t really see the flowers unless I take the rings off because they match my skin. You can just see the glint of the gold paint that the artist used to make the flowers’ centers stand out. The glint reminds me of pixie dust, which reminds me of my NEED series, which is how my relatives will get to write “New York Times” and “international” bestseller on my obituary.

This morning, I woke up and went to my desk. The wedding ring duo sat there right by my hot pink sticky note of all the things I had to do this Saturday to keep my family sheltered and in food, but the clear ring was gone.

“The cats must have taken it,” Shaun the Spouse said. “We’ll never see that again.”

“Don’t say that!”

He shrugged.

The ring isn’t like my other rings. It’s barely there, unobtrustive, a memory of something that was a big deal once. When I got it for Mother’s Day, I almost cried. It made nose against my skin somehow. The heavy thickness of it created a weight that seemed to ground me in remembering that I had a right hand too, not just a left and that it was okay to have balance in both hands, both sides of your life—that balance was possible even when it felt like a far-off impossible thing.

Up here in Maine, on an island that’s so large some people (usually tourists) forget it’s not attached to land, almost to the Canadian border, I have a hard time fitting in even though this island is pretty forgiving about weirdness, about wearing fleece, wearing pearls, about never wearing make-up, about believing in God or not, Hell or not, people or not, politicians or not, love or not.

There aren’t a lot of jobs here unless you want to work in restaurants or retail in the summer. Nonprofit workers move from one small place to another. Scientists work at one of two labs. People take care of the wealthy people’s summer estates and a dwindling few lobster or work construction.

And me? I write, alone, at my desk. I edit other writers, staring at their pages, living their stories. I make a podcast. I coach writers. My life is at a computer. And I love it. But there’s no balance. No outside. Even when I paint I do it inside in the basement. Without my ring I’m reminded of that.

So, today, this Saturday that the ring was gone, I stepped away from the computer, swept all the floors looking for it. Nothing. I gave up, made blueberry muffins from Covid-19 inspired sourdough starter that a bookstore owner gave to me a year ago. Nothing. I walked on the treadmill for twenty minutes. Painted for fifteen. Nothing. No balance no ring. I went outside, pulled tomatoes and cucumbers that I barely remembered planting, came back inside to work, stared at the blank page and then—my ring, my glinty ring, right there on my finger.

I texted my husband.

“No way,” he texted back. “Did you just not notice before?”

Maybe.

I told one of my favorite writers students via email this weekend, “ I’m trying to re-remember who I am. I know that sounds weird. But I used to be married to a hospital CEO from old money and I realized I lost a lot of my ‘adventure in the woods,’ write poetry and nonfiction self. And it’s been ages but I’m finally getting it back, I think.”

And they said, “Carrie I fully believe and support you in this journey but I must also remind you that at least one if not several summers that I have known you, you have lived at a campground. While I know this has not been the case during the pandemic, it is still indicative of the core nature you have described.”

I gasped. I love them so much.

Sometimes, I think, we become so focused on things like not fitting in or not having a work-life balance that we don’t realize that maybe we do. Maybe we do fit in. Maybe we do have some balance. That our right hand is there along with our left. All my life, I’ve been afraid of not getting enough done, and that’s not going to change, but I can maybe realize that what I do get done can be fun. That’s balance. But more than that? That’s good.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Everyone Wants a Piece of You – Including Us Writers

We live, if we ever let ourselves to really live, to hope, to fear, to elegies of beauty and pain, terror and hate.

A woman on the street, a tourist, shepherding her family past the t-shirt shops and towards the ice cream shop said in a loud enough voice for everyone around to hear. “You can’t be too careful in this world. Everyone wants a piece of you.”

Maybe.

Or do we all want a piece of everyone?

I live in farmhouse in the middle of town across the back dirt lot of our local YMCA and in between a house under construction for about ten years and another that seems to be part of a magical landscape, blending in with boulders and spruce and grass. It’s a good place to hermit without seeming like a hermit because this world doesn’t want hermits, does it? It wants people to explode onto scenes, to reach tall and high like seedlings in the summer garden, hoping to capture the sun.

People tend to think of that want—the discovery, the authenticity, the soul-brightness—as something to hermit away from and we tend to shy down our true selves to fit in.

When the woman on the street wrapped an arm around one of her sons, he had the face of adolescent horror, eyes wide and moving back and forth to see if anyone had heard, still hoping that his connection with his mother wasn’t quite so obvious, maybe? He ducked under her arm.

I have no idea if that’s what he was thinking or if that was what his mother was thinking. But he ducked under arm and without a beat, she grabbed the hand of the other child and tugged him forward. His stride quickened, little legs trying to keep up.

The boy’s glance hit mine. I smiled. He didn’t smile back. I wanted to tell him that he was safe from me, that I didn’t want a piece of him, but here I am now, days later, writing about him, which makes me wonder, maybe I do?

Why do we notice the things we notice? Why can I remember the brown, horrified eyes of that boy?

Another kid was sitting on a bench near us with his parents watching it all. His parents were on their phones. He just sat there doing nothing for at least twenty minutes, but when he saw that other kid, he smiled like a tiny bit of encouragement and this time, that original boy smiled back.

Van Gogh allegedly once said, “I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

Sometimes that love blossoms from a smile, a recognition, a seeing, a noticing.

Artists, writers, lovers want pieces of understanding and from that understanding (or even from the lack of it) love comes.

Zora Neale Hurston wrote, “Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.”

How beautiful is it that writers and artists and people allow their souls to crawl out from hiding, to sprawl and lift images on canvasses and pages and in offerings of expression and sympathy as they give the world a piece of them freely. That’s a big kind of love and a big kind of trust. And it happens over and over again.

NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Cheating On Yourself

I was once on a panel at a writing convention in Oklahoma and made fast enemies with the agent (now an editor) on the panel.

Why?

Because I disagreed.

I’m a pretty mellow human most of the time, but if you say something that I think might not allow people to ascend, to be themselves, or something full of hate? I’m terrible at being silent about that.

I mean, I’m not cable-news tv forceful, but I speak my mind.

What had the agent said?

It wasn’t anything scandalous, honestly.

She just said, “You should only write in your genre. No author is successful if they write in multiple genres. You can’t jump genres.”

And I objected and listed authors who did write successfully in multiple genres. M.T. Anderson. Anne Rice. Elizabeth Gilbert. At that moment, I had just jumped from literary young adult to genre young adult with a book that made me an international bestseller.

She wasn’t cool about me disagreeing.

I disagreed anyway. The reason that I did that is yes, it’s easier to brand and market your art or your writing and generally make more money if you only write one thing. But it’s also limiting.

If you are a person who writes erotic werewolf novels who wants to write a picture book about happy hamsters? You should do it.

Limiting our selves and our art to one specific genre or story or way of being? One specific process? One specific type of heroine or character or fight scene?

We don’t have to do that. We can cheat on our norms and even on our own (and our readers/reviewers) expectations if we want to do that.

Trying new things, cheating on your writing, your art? It can transform you. It can expand you. It can make you bigger and better and stronger and more powerful even if it’s a fail, even if nobody likes it or reads it, but you.

When we push beyond the boxes and labels that surround us (whether we give it to ourselves or others give it to us), we become interesting.

Interesting is so much more fun than dull.

Interesting is being alive, being quirky, being an explorer, being curious, being a doer.

And sometimes being interesting means being on a panel and disagreeing with a hot-shot agent and having her glare at you.

No. I’ll never work with that editor because of that interaction. Do I care? Nope. Because that editor is safe. That editor isn’t interesting. And that editor would hold me back even though people think she’s a genius. She probably is. She’s just not my kind of genius.

We all have people like her in our lives, people who keep us from being brave, trying new things. You don’t have to be a writer to know this.

However, we also do it to ourselves. We hold ourselves back. We are afraid to try. We follow other people’s paths and edicts and hope that we will be successful like them instead of forging our own way.

Here’s the thing: You will fail sometimes.

You will get rejected or hurt and it will suck. But it is worth it. Because failing means that you took a damn chance on something, on yourself, on another person. Failing means that you were brave and that you are growing and that you are exploring and it means that you’re interesting.

The interesting people are the innovators. The interesting people who go after their dreams and desires? They change the world. They move the world. They inspire the world.

So go out there. Cheat on yourself. Move on. Do you art in different ways. Do your work in different ways. Do your life in different ways. Try all the things. Be interesting. You’ve got this.


NEW BOOK ALERT!

I just want to let everyone know that INCHWORMS (The Dude Series Book 2) is out and having a good time as Dude competes for a full scholarship at a prestigious Southern college and getting into a bit of trouble.

Here’s what it’s about:

A fascinating must-read suspense from New York Times bestseller Carrie Jones.

A new chance visiting a small Southern college.
A potential love interest for a broken girl obsessed with psychology.
A damaged group of co-eds.
A drowning that’s no accident.
A threat that seems to have no end.

And just like that Jessica Goodfeather aka Dude’s trip away from her claustrophobic life in Maine to try to get an amazing scholarship to her dream school has suddenly turned deadly. Again.


What would you do to make a difference?

After his best friend Norah was almost abducted, Cole Nicholaus has spent most of his childhood homeschooled, lonely and pining for Norah to move from best friend to girl friend status. When birds follow him around or he levitates the dishes, he thinks nothing of it—until a reporter appears and pushes him into making a choice: stay safe at home or help save a kidnapped kid.

Cole and Norah quickly end up trying to not just save a kid, but an entire town from a curse that has devastating roots and implications for how exactly Cole came to be the saint that he is.

Can Cole stop evil from hurting him and Norah again? And maybe even get together? Only the saints know.

From the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of the NEED seriesSaint is a book about dealing with the consequences that make us who we are and being brave enough to admit who we love and what we need.

BUY NOW! 🙂 I made a smiley face there so you don’t feel like I’m too desperate.

The cover. Creepy, right?

You can read an excerpt right here.

Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Elusive or Scared? When a Bird Lands on Your Shoulder.
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Our house is styled a bit like a farmhouse even though it’s in the middle of Bar Harbor, across the street from the YMCA’s back, dirt, and (until recently) unused parking lot, secure behind a row of tall ,cedar bushes that hide our porch, our windows, our selves.

There is a deep urge in me sometimes to just hermit myself and just do the work, to write, to cook, to paint, to help others make stories, and I’ll occasionally freeze in terror when someone knocks on the door or calls on the phone, or whenever anyone shocks me out of the realization that I am not alone. 

“You are a bit elusive,” one of my friends told me when we were walking through town together, past the storefronts full of t-shirts and mugs, the ice cream shops and restaurants, the big mailbox full of free masks.

I said, “Oh. I don’t mean to be elusive. I’m just scared.”

The day was scented with salty ocean air and all the houses and stores that we passed had lights on and the hum of music and videos and laughter.

“Scared of what?” she asked.

I didn’t know.

But I did know that I didn’t want to be controlled by those fears, that I wanted to sit out on the front porch and talk to people as they passed by rather than hunkering in my backyard.

In our backyard, we have a couple of bird feeders that Shaun (my husband) put up and is in charge of. My parents divorced when I was three or so, and my mom was horribly afraid of birds—all birds, even cartoon birds. So, we never had bird feeders. And the crows cawing in the trees, the jays making the feeders rock with their weight, the graceful hovering of hummingbirds, and the tiny steps of finches thrill me like they are magic, forbidden magic.  

My mother would not be able to go in our backyard.

All my life, I’ve wanted to have a bird land on my hand. I’m not sure where that urge came from. A passing romanticism? A proof that my soul was good enough for a bird to trust? A way to convince myself that I was linked to something bigger and more profound than I was?

Sometimes when I go out into our backyard, the birds startle and rush into flight and I coo to them, “No. I’m not a threat. I’m not a threat. I’m just here. . . .  Um, we gave you the food in the bird feeders. Friendsies?”

The pigeons are usually the boldest and they’ll just watch me from the eaves of our house and sometimes they’ll coo back. A tiny trickle of adrenaline will rush through me and I’ll whisper, “Yes.”

Sometimes, I think that the backyard birds are elusive, but they probably just want to be safe like I do. But sometimes in that urge for safety we miss opportunities. We are stuck wondering: What is it to be whole?

It’s so much easier to answer: What is it to be broken?

When I was little, after my stepfather died, I would go out into the woods and flop in the tall ferns, smell the New Hampshire soil above the hard granite and stay absolutely still.

Waiting.

If I was still enough, I hoped, a bird would think I was just part of nature, that my cords were dirt and my K-Mart shirts were flowers or stones. If I was still enough, I was sure, a bird would come and land on me. We’d be—connected.

The world would go on all around me. Squirrels would hop from pine tree to spruce to oak to maple. Chipmunks would scurry along the ground. Birds would alight and gather. Deer would tiptoe by.

And I’d be waiting. Hoping a bird would come along, land in my small, upturned palm and claim me as part of it all—connected.

But I already was. I just didn’t realize it. A deer smelled my hair. A chipmunk scurried across my stomach. A squirrel would drop acorns near my feet. My spine rested against the ferns, the moss, the soil and for hours would feel the rustlings of a world beneath me, rooting. Connected.

Sometimes, my mom would come and find me and yell, “What are you doing out here? You’re going to make yourself sick.” She’d hurry me back home, complaining of the dirt on my legs, the flicks of moss, the ferns that had somehow twined themselves into my hair. “Look at your fingernails, Carrie! What am I going to do with you?”

I’d be ordered into the bath or shower, to clean my nails, wash my hair, and be just myself again.

To be whole is to be afraid, to long for safety, but also to stretch beyond it. To be an artist or a writer or even a person is to remember that we are not just individuals, scared all by ourselves, acting all elusive even when our hearts pine for connections. Mortality is terrifying sometimes. Pain? Not so fun. Fear and rejection and ridicule sucks.

Like the birds often fear us for our predatory natures, we can really fear each other, fear exposure to trolls, to negative-nellies, to grumpy people in restaurants, shops, or even our own Facebook, Twitter or TikTok pages and of bigger villains who do unspeakable things.

When we try to connect, we can be admonished by people who love us and look after us, people like my sweet, fearful mom who worried about the dirt I was collecting, the potential bugs, ants, ticks, predators.

But we’re bigger than those fears. We’re more than our resentments, our pain. We’re more than our flaws and egos. We are part of something huge and connected and divine, connections so massive that it’s hard to comprehend sometimes.

A bird can’t land on our hands unless we show them our palms.

We can’t heal or help or love other people unless they step outside.

This weekend, I went on the hammock in the backyard to read a book for work and less than a minute after I flopped down there, a sparrow alighted on my shoulder. She was barely on me for five seconds and her wings fluttered and beat the whole time.

But she was there.

It’s okay to be elusive sometimes, even fearful sometimes; it can help protect us, but we don’t want our fear to become our prison. We are bigger than that, our whole nature is bigger than that. We just have to reach out our hand and let the bird land in it and settle for and rejoice in a shoulder, and we have to be the bird and not always fly off or hide away, building our nests bigger and bigger until we can’t find the way out.

There is a way out if we want. We have to want it.

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.

Finding My Religion and My Story

Last week during our podcast about the strange things parents do, a lot of the people listening mentioned growing up very religious as Jehovah Witnesses or Pentecostals or Baptists. My husband grew up this way off and on, too.

But me?

Not so much.

My family wasn’t very religious

My mom caught her Methodist minister cheating at bowling. He refused to admit it. She never went back. She expected her spiritual guides to not be cheaters.

My little hobbit dad came from a family of very staunch agnostics and atheists.

My bonus dad came from a family of Catholics but he firmly believed that we were already in hell, right now, here on Earth. He also firmly believed that you might as well make the best of it.

But me?

I wanted a church so badly that I went out trying to find one myself. Imagine a six-year-old going to Calvary Baptist Pioneer Girls every Friday night. Imagine that same kid begging people to take her to temple in Manchester, to CCD classes at the little Catholic church sort of by the highway, to Sunday school at the white Presbyterian church on the hill that dominated the town with its austere beauty.

In college I stopped two priests walking across the quad between the giant trees and asked if they could help me be Catholic and they said, “Oh, no, child. Our religion is not for you.”

And I thought, “I have been rejected by priests. Priests! I thought they let anyone in!”

My longing for religion meant that I even applied to seminary and was accepted. I didn’t have the money to go and we ended up here on coastal Maine.

Before that, when I was pregnant, I was a church secretary for a very liberal Unitarian Universalist church that I think took me in just because I was pregnant and needed a job. I rarely had anything to do. My baby girl ended up being baby Jesus at their Christmas pageant that year.

Even though they were so kind, I never found my place. A place where I would fit in.

When I was little, church communities seemed absolutely magical to me like they were communities of good. Rabbis, ministers, priests would stand up and speak of fellowship and of good, of grace and faith and doing what is just and merciful, of pilgrimage, of service. People hugged and shook hands and the kids did crafts. How could I not want to be a part of that?

Plus, a lot of time there were cookies and sugary drinks in Dixie cups.

Mostly I just wanted someone to help me find my way and to belong somewhere because I never really belonged in my sweet family.

I didn’t get that sense of fitting with the group. I was always the outsider, looking in, being welcomed, but not belonging, not part of the group.

That’s okay.

Religious Undertones or Overtones?

One of my books about to be released is a contemporary paranormal slight romance called SAINT and it has a lot of religious undertones going on.

When I started publishing, all I ever heard was that your book can be violent but it can’t be religious. So, I’m breaking that rule a bit because the lead character, Nick Cole, is very much someone who was raised in the Catholic church.

And though it has religious bits, there is some swearing and there is definitely a boy lusting for his bestie.

So, that book won’t fit in either, won’t belong, but that’s okay because it might make a connection with a random person. And that’s all I can ask for really. Well, that and dependable health care.

Touching People You’ve Never Seen

The amazing French artist, Christian Liberte Boltanksi died last week. In 2017 he told the New York Times, “I hope that when I shall be dead, somebody that I don’t know in Australia is going to be sad for two minutes. It would be something marvelous because it means you’ve touched people you’ve never seen, and that is something incredible.”

What a goal to have—to touch people you’ve never seen. And that’s a bit what both writing and religion is about. Touching people’s hearts and souls. Can there be anything better than that?

Yes, it would be nice to win awards again.

Yes, it would be awesome to have a solid income.

But somehow making people remember you or your art or your heart or even your tweet? What a magical, beautiful thing.

Looking for Formulas and Perfection

A lot of writers that I teach look for magical outlines or formulas to get their books to fit into the expectations of readers and publishers and stress out about hitting those bench marks (the inciting incident at 10 % in, the midpoint at the actual midpoint) rather than enjoying the process of growing and exploring organically.

Their story, they think, has to be perfect and that perfection? It’s determined by an outside source—a reader, an agent, an editor, a mentor.

And I want to hug them all just like I want to hug past Carrie who was aching so badly to fit in, to find a spiritual community, a home, a family.

Here’s the thing: your story is yours.

And that can be the story of how you find good or spirituality or religion or how you find your story. There is no one path to completion. There is no one way to perfection. There is no one way to be perfect.

But how wonderful would it be if you could sit back and know that somehow, somewhere along the way, your story, your journey, your words, your spirit touched someone.

I bet it has. I bet it will.

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.


Stopping Doomsday Thinking

A lot of great clients and students that I’ve worked with have what I like to call Doomsday Thinking. I’m pretty sure I didn’t coin that phrase.

What is doomsday thinking?

It’s basically catastrophic thinking.

In Psychology Today, Toni Bernhard J.D. writes, “The term refers to our irrational and exaggerated thoughts: thoughts that have no basis in fact, but which we believe anyway.”

Those thoughts become so big and so distorted that we get anxious.

I am a pro at doomsday thinking

I basically had these kinds of thoughts until last year.

Those negative, spiraling thoughts can become so big, so huge, that it’s almost impossible to be happy about who we are, what we’ve done, what we will do, or our life.

We forget there can be good outcomes too.

Instead, we think about all the bad potentials and build them up like super stores, giving them so much space in our thoughts that they take over.

The why is it always me syndrome.

One of my most brilliant and adorable relatives does this all the time. She gets stuck on a highway coming home from work because of a traffic jam and thinks, “Why does this always happen to me? The universe hates me.”

When in reality, she’s not alone in that traffic jam, right? It’s almost self-absorbed to think that the frustrating things are out to get you and only you.

Or, we get rejected when we send our book to an agent and think, “This is impossible. I will never get published. I am doomed to suck forever. I give up.”

When in reality, you don’t suck at all. Writing is subjective and that particular agent just wasn’t for you.

Change happens.

In doomsday thinking whenever something bad happens, we assume that this is the way it will always be. It isn’t.

The world is chaos and full of change.

I just was texting with one of my friends the other night and I wrote, “I bet Five-years-ago Steve would never have imagined this.”

The this was good stuff happening in his life. And he hadn’t. He hadn’t predicted any of it.

We’re all like that. I didn’t imagine I’d be where I am five years ago. That’s because change happens. Even the bad doesn’t stay always bad. We can’t predict the outcomes and all the variables even when we think we can.

Here’s the good thing about change

Since things change, it means that you don’t need to stay stuck forever. And you don’t need to stay in those negative thought patterns forever either.

Why not? It’s pretty easy to lean into your internal critic, right? But you don’t have to. You can stay calm. You can take chances and make choices and shut them up.

We all have inner critics, but we also need inner cheerleaders

I used to imagine my inner critic as John Wayne (the dead movie star/cowboy). He was so harsh on me. Always telling me to work. So, I created an inner cheerleader who turned out to be the Muppet, Grover. Yes, from Sesame Street. My brain is a weird place.

John Wayne and Grover would duel it out for supremacy in my head.

Weird! Weird! I know. But by giving an identity to that negative voice/inner critic, it helped me to recognize that doomsday thinking and shut it down so that I could take chances and risks and do things.

Allow yourself to treat challenges and projects like you’re playing

Another thing that helps is giving myself a chance to play and fail. You can do this, too.

Find something you’ve wanted to do. Start a blog? Make a video? Learn to paint? Ride your bike every morning? Make it something that excites you.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Give yourself a time frame. I have 30 days to do this! That sort of short timeframe.
  2. Schedule time into your day/week to do it.
  3. It helps if you have an end project. So, tell yourself what your end product will be.
  4. Do it.

By giving ourselves a product and a timeframe, we give ourselves a chance to try things. It doesn’t seem like a forever-worry that way and it usually shuts up our doomsday thinking and John Waynes a tiny bit.

You’ve got this. I believe in you. You need to believe in you, too.

xo

Carrie

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.

There’s No Power In Being a Negative Nelly. Rock Your Expectations and Goals

When we want things that we don’t expect to get, it makes us feel pretty bad inside and it also keeps us from having positive progress towards our goals.

What happens when we make our expectations negative? Usually it isn’t good stuff. For me it often starts a big downward spiral. But people (like me) keep doing it all the time.

I’ll never find love.

I’ll never get published.

I’ll never make a difference.

Those expectations and fears can be come prophesy because they take up so much space in your brain that you can’t break free from them to create good outcomes.

So what do you do to break free from negative expectations?

When you find that negative expectation taking hold of you, you can ask yourself, “What would I rather have happen?”

It seems like a simple step. It is. Here, let me repeat it and make it a header just to be cool.

Ask yourself, “What would I rather have happen?”

Got it?

Now you have to do that next step—you have to take the steps to make that positive result happen. You can focus completely on what might go wrong, but all that time you spend thinking about what might go wrong is time where you don’t get to think about where you can make it go right.

Yes. It’s simple.

But it’s true.

“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.”

Robert Schuller

We waste a lot of time thinking and expecting only about what might go wrong, and that gives up all our manpower and energy and intellect away from dreaming and acting on the good, positive, awesome possibilities of our wants.

This example might help explain it.

I have a client that I worked with. He’s an older gentleman living in another country and getting a bit worries about his wonderful books, which he had previously self-published. He wanted me to read two of them and just tell him if they were any good. Not edit them. Not give an editorial assessment letter. And he wanted me to charge him $35 an hour to read the stories.

“It’s a great deal,” he basically said. “You love reading. You’re being paid to read.”

And I do. I do love reading. And I love stories. But what the problem was here is that he wanted me to take six hours for each book and pay me $35 an hour. There are limited hours in my day (like everyone else’s) and I tend to get paid between $75 and $100 an hour.

So I had to choose between helping this man out and taking a loss of $240 (at least). Or the loss of six hours I could spend writing my own books, painting, cleaning the house, being with my family. Because I’m not monetarily motivated, I did it. But he didn’t understand that choice.

We have to choose what to do with our time.

Do we want to spend it helping people out? Do we want to spend it thinking negative things about ourselves? Do we want to maximize it? Do we want to minimize it?

We only have so many hours in a day. We can spend that time focusing on negative expectations and our fears or we can spend it focusing on our wants and positive expectations. The choice and power is ours.

“All stress begins with a negative thought. One thought that went unchecked, and then more thoughts came and more, until stress manifested. The effect is stress, but the cause was negative thinking, and it all began with one little negative thought.

No matter what you might have manifested, you can change it ….with one small positive thought and then another.”

~ Rhonda Byrne

Changing your expectations makes your life better. There are actually studies about this. Your brain leads your way. Make it lead the way to somewhere good. Those negative expectations limit you and your future. But those positive expectations? That’s where the power is.

Your power.


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.