When You Don’t Have to Say Anything – The Magic of Step Dads and Living From Love Not Fear

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard.

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There was blizzard on the same day as my 11thbirthday party. 

            My mom was packing back and forth across our cramped kitchen’s linoleum floors as one mother after another called to cancel because of the road conditions, the wind, the snow billowing down. The cabinets were old pine, so knotty that I’d use my fingers to draw faces in between the dark circles, connecting the blackness into eyes, a nose, a mouth, something less scary. I would have used a black magic marker to make those faces real if I could, but I wasn’t the type of kid who did that sort of thing. I was the type of kid who followed the rules, who hugged their friends, who cared about everyone’s feelings more than her own, trying desperately to fit in to a town that had exploded with wealth. 

Everyone was rich except us. You get used to that after awhile, but that doesn’t mean you’re ever cool with it. 

My mom wasn’t cool with it either and she always felt excluded and looked-down on. My dad built our ranch house sixteen years before I was born and back then our town was little and all lower working class people. Tractor salesmen were a big deal. Truckers like him were the norm. All the men volunteered at the fire department and everyone knew the three cops by name. My mom was the town clerk back then. But there was a bit of a tech bubble and all these people moved up from Massachusetts, building subdivisions filled with McMansions and wearing clothes that weren’t from K-Mart. We weren’t the norm anymore. We were below.

            And when my parents divorced, we became poor even after my mom and stepdad married because although he was a contractor, he’d moved all the way from California to marry her and he’d had to build up his business from scratch.  When he died was when my Nana would get government cheese for us. Mom would take the giant blocks with a grimace and Nana would say, “But you love cheese. You work hard.”

But this isn’t about my nana. This is about my bonus dad.

           On the blizzard day of my birthday party, his little green Toyota truck trundled up the hill towards the house, a Kermit-The-Frog colored beacon in the snow. Mom joined me at the picture window, arms crossed over her chest, staring out at him trying to make it up the hill, failing as the truck slid backwards a bit, trying again. 

 “I’m sorry, baby,” she whispered. 

“It’s okay,” I told her, but she knew I was lying. 

 Daddy parked the truck and started walking up the hill. She left me to meet him in the kitchen. I leaned my head against the cold pane of the window, listening. He stomped his boots free of the snow and then the whisperings started. I didn’t need to listen. I knew she was telling him about the cancellations, how I actually cried, which I was horrified about. There was the gross sound of lips smacking against each other. Kissing. Muffled noises of secret conversations sounded just below my hearing capabilities.

Daddy came into the living room. His socks were stained from where snow leaked into his boots. The snow line on his pants went up almost to his knees. He held his arms open and I ran into them. 

 “Hey, Miss America, you doing okay?” He had a gruff voice from decades of cigarettes, and it was soft spoken. Old people had to lean in sometimes when he talked, which wasn’t much. He never talked much.

“I’m okay.” I lied again. It was my favorite lie. 

 He kissed the top of my head. 

 “Your mom told me what’s going on.”

“Nobody can come.”

 “I know, I heard.” He bent down and pulled the sock off one foot, exposing dark skin, wiggling toes. Then he moved to the other. “She’s going to make some phone calls and we’re going to see if those scaredy-cat moms will let me go get their girls and bring them here.”

“Really?” I squealed.

 He handed me his wet socks and moved over to the couch. “Really. You get me some new socks, put those on the sink to dry and we have a deal okay?”

 “Deal!” 

 About 15 minutes later, only one mother refused to let my dad pick up her daughter. Mom kissed his cheek, I gave him a great big hug and he ventured out into the storm, picking up five girls. They smooshed together in his truck and later he told me that they all chattered the entire time.

“I didn’t have to say anything.” He tucked me in the next night, after all the sleeping bags were rolled up, the presents tucked away, and the last of my yellow cake with chocolate frosting was being digested in a rumbling stomach. 

The thing is he usually didn’t have to say anything. His love showed in everything he did. There’s a certain magic in that, in acting with love and confidence.

When we have time to choose and make decisions, we often have a moment to think about our intent. Are we acting with love or because of fear?

Here’s a really interesting article about how our intentions and our fear often close us down to opportunity and happiness. We might be afraid to get hurt by loved ones or afraid of losing control over a work situation so we keep information to ourselves, refuse to delegate, are guarded.

But if we let the fear control us then we become that fear. We lose our ability to expand, to share our stories, to pick up little girls during a blizzard.

In a post on Psychology Today’s website, Nancy Collier speaks about ‘operating from love.’

I like this Quote. It is Wise.

Operating from love is to set our own ego aside long enough to listen to the experience of the other, to be courageous enough to be willing to try and understand what the other person is experiencing, no matter how radically different it is from what we intended to happen, think happened, or believe was the cause of what happened. It is to have the strength of heart to understand and open our heart to what the pain is that the other is skillfully or unskillfully trying to express. A response (not reaction) that comes from love is listening to the other’s upset as if we were just ears hearing, ears alone, not ears attached to a head, attached to an ego, attached to an identity, attached to a person intent on remaining intact and unchanged. 

Collier, LCSW, Rev

It would have been so much easier for my tired dad to leave those girls at their homes, for me not to have a birthday party. He had an out. There was a blizzard. He didn’t because he acted out of love. In small and big ways, we have choices every day where we can listen to our intentions and understand why we do what we do.

So What Does It Mean to Live From Love?

To live from love not fear, on a practical level, is to shift from a goal of protecting our ego, being right, winning the argument, being not to blame, and move into actually being kind, being loving—in our actions. It is to be willing to stop proving that we’re a good person and actually be that good person—to be courageous enough to open our heart and be love even when our ego is screaming in fear.   

Collier again

It sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I hope we all can start moving forward in this journey with that intent.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy
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How To Deal With Rejection

I’ve been thinking a lot about rejection lately because I’m teaching some amazingly brilliant writers at the Writing Barn who haven’t been published yet. And they are talent. Their stories should be published.

And I found one of my earliest blog posts when I wrote about a story getting rejected. It’s below.

Well, the fat cat sits with her bum on my manuscript again, which can only mean good things because according to writer myths, “A cat sitting on your manuscript means that the manuscript will become a book.”

And the big, white dog is soaked because it rained during our walk today. She has a “poopie heinie” somehow too. Yuck. I wish there was some good writing superstition about this… If your long-haired dog gets fecal matter stuck in their pure white hair means a starred review…

On a weirdly positive note, I just received the BEST rejection letter ever. Yes, I know. It makes no sense. But i sent out a novella to Penguin. They responded that it was “Beautifully, written, incredibly moving” and it’s clear that I “have a great deal of talent.”

So why did they reject it? Just to make me sad?
Probably, but they said it was a bit too specialized and scary for the middle grade market.

Hhmmm…

What does this mean?

Does this mean it’s YA or adult even though I imagined it as middle grade? I am not smart enough to figure out who to send this to now. If only my magic cat and her great sitting abilities could tell me. 

On another positive note Penguin said they’d be happy to consider future work, wished me great luck and “strongly encourage” me to submit the piece elsewhere.
Where? Where? Where?
Acckkkk!!!

It may have been a lovely rejection letter, but it’s a bit frustrating too. 
I am going to go pet the cat.

Me back in 2006

Rejection Is Not Always bad

Sometimes rejection is good in life and in books. If the creepy homicidal dude rejects you then that’s awesome and you live to see another day and all those cliches. But the thing is, when he’s rejecting you? You don’t know that he’s a creepy homicidal dude. So you mourn without realizing that him rejecting your offer to go split a pizza is the best thing ever.

It can be like this with your books, too.

Sometimes you and an agent or editor aren’t going to click. Sometimes your rejection is saving you from a really bad business relationship.

That doesn’t feel easy to take in though, does it? Or really make it better. So here are so more tips.

Babe, they just don’t get you.

Some people don’t get your sense of humor, your style, your witty comebacks, your endless Doctor Who references and you don’t get their live for American Pickers. You are rejected because you’re a bad match.

Sometimes they know you better than you know you.

They might have some good criticism about the fact that your 500,000 word manuscript has 450,000 words that start with the letter- r. Their criticism is going to help you make a stronger book with less alliteration. Boom! Score!

Remember that You Write Because You Love It

In all seriousness, I see a lot of people on Twitter and Facebook posting about how much writing sucks and how hard it is and how much they hate it. If this is you, I want you to think about why you’re writing. Don’t do this to yourself. You deserve to be happy. If writing makes you miserable almost all the time that you do it, don’t write. Tell your story to the world in a way that makes sense to you, that gives you joy, that you look forward to doing. Life is too short to spend it miserable when you don’t have to be miserable.

I will be sad that your stories aren’t out there, but I will be so happy that you are out there doing things you love.

Tell Your Inner Critic To Shut Up

The hardest part of rejection for a lot of us is that we internalize it. Some random editor or agent somewhere has rejected this one manuscript and we think that this means an inditement on our worth and our character. We think, “I suck.” We think, “I am a loser.” Our inner critic hyperbolizes the rejections into a massive litany of all our failures.

That inner critic needs to shut up.

Here’s the thing, the more we do, the more we try, the more we create, the better we get, but we also fail more that then people who never try, never do and never create.

“I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.”

Sylvia Plath

Remember When Dealing With Rejection

  • It’s okay to feel sad about it. That’s normal and human. It’s not okay to feel forever sad about it or make you feel bad about yourself.
  • Don’t be a butthead to the person or company that rejected you. That doesn’t get you published. It gets you the reputation of being a butthead. Nobody wants to work with buttheads.
  • Find friends who will lift you up. Check out the hashtag #writercommunity. Commiserate with others.
  • Write again. Try again. Shout and sing your stories and never give up. You deserve to be heard.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Happy Anniversary or How are We Still Married?

Someone just told me (Carrie) that we weren’t really having a wedding anniversary because:

  1. We are celebrating it a few days late.
  2. We both forgot about it until the Thursday before the Sunday of the anniversary.
  3. Apparently, we didn’t talk about it on Facebook.

Gasp! Who knew those were the criteria to keep your anniversary legit?

Here’s our bonus podcast about it.

Spoiler Alert: This is not a poignant bonus podcast.



HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

Big Foot and Me and Being Afraid of Success

I wanted to find him.


Every day, I’d rush through my homework, gobble up left-over stuffing and head to the woods in my backyard.

Then I’d be incredibly quiet.

I was hunting. I didn’t have a gun. I was one of those kids who read Charlotte’s Web and became a vegetarian because well, how could you eat Wilbur? My vegetarianism was strict, and I knew when my mom tried to pass off Ragu’s meat sauce as the green pepper and onion variety. 

“You need protein!” She’d throw up her hands in disgust. “Protein!”

I scoffed at protein. I was Super Carrie, Vegetarian Girl. No mere mortal, was I. I ate no meat, propelled by 10-year-old righteous indignation, moral outrage, and a love for all pigs and cows and various other barnyard animals, like my Uncle Kilton. 

My vegetarianism was only lifted for my daily nibble of Stove Top Stuffing. You know the slogan, It’s better than potatoes. It was. It was! Sure, it had chicken flavoring in it, but I reasoned that the chicken flavoring couldn’t possibly come from real chickens.

Right?

Fortified by stuffing, I’d head to the woods, trying to walk with quiet, rolling my feet inwards as I stepped in a straight line like a fox. The wind whipped my hair. The maple leaves fell down. The cars on the highway zipped by. I ignored them all. I was on a quest.

I was hunting Big Foot. 

Yes, Big Foot, the man-beast of the Washington woods, solitary hirsute Sasquatch. I, Carrie Barnard, would find him in my backyard in Bedford, N.H. I would find him and … and … and… 

Then what? I wondered.

Then, we would be friends. 

Coming back from Pioneer Girls at the Calvary Baptist Church with Katie Henderson and her mom one Friday night, we turned into my driveway, just as something big and covered with fur slipped into the woods by the garage.


“Did you see that?” I whispered to Katie.


“What?” She sat upright, pigtails whipping her face. “Was it Jesus?”

Katie always hoped to spot Jesus. She wanted the second coming to come already. She was tired of homework and was positive there was no homework in Heaven.


I wasn’t that optimistic. If Jesus did come down would it get me out of my book report on Witch of Blackbird Pond? God would probably make me do that book report, and a character study for added fun. 


“No,” I hissed. “It wasn’t Jesus. I think I saw Big Foot.”

Katie rolled her eyes, and scratched at her hand. “Yeah, right.”

“No. Really. He jumped in the woods.”

Mrs. Henderson parked. 

“Yeah, you saw Big Foot. Just like you saw that U.F.O,” Katie snickered. 

Pow! She struck low, Katie did. 

I shuddered and thought, Oh, not the U.F.O. mention!

One tiny mistake and I was forever known as the Girl Who Thinks Airplanes With Light Up Banners Advertising Radio Stations Are U.F.O.’s. 

“This wasn’t an airplane,” I said, opening the station wagon door.

“It was probably your stepfather,” Katie said.

“He’s not that hairy.”

Mrs. Henderson rolled down her window and I thanked her for the ride. 

“Remember to pray tonight, and that’s all the thanks I need,” she said.

She tooted the horn. I steamed. How dare that woman? She was scaring my Big Foot. 

I will prove them Wrong!

Determined to prove Katie wrong, I searched daily. I prowled secret short-cuts, climbed trees for better views, searched for tracks. I’d creep, hoping to sneak up on him. I’d sprint, leaping over dead falls, slopping through muck, hoping to startle him out. Mud slopped on the bottom of my corduroys. Water seeped into my Adidas sneakers. 

Far ahead of me in the murky forest, trees beckoned, taunting me. The teasing fee-bee-bee-bee of the Eastern Phoebe broke the air. Then …a snuffling noise, a lower growl. Something primal rumbled in front of me. It was not the noise of a hoppity rabbit, or a sweet deer who’d lost his mother.

It was not the noise of a Disney movie.

Another growl broke the air and I did what every fearless explorer does when faced with the possible object of pursuit. I ran.

I will forever regret this decision.

I was so close to potentially seeing Big Foot or at least a black bear, but what did I do? I ran away. And I think I’ve (cough) done this with multiple things in my life.

Sometimes we run away from success and there’s a reason why that is. Success means change. Failure means more of the same. Change is the unknown. It is the growl in the woods. It can be scary not knowing what will happen in our lives.

When we succeed we influence more people. There’s a responsibility that goes along with that.

When we succeed there are new pressures to deal with. Some are societal. Some might be financial. Some might just be how our personalities shift to deal with this new situation. That can be scary.

But the thing is? If Big Foot is out there, we have to step forward to meet her/him.


WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

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

HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

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

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic
Bar Harbor Art Carrie Jones Welcome to Magic

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Five Things You Don’t Know About Me

People remind me that I’m female. Sometimes those reminders aren’t nice.

A long time ago (I’m talking years) I was tagged by Varian Johnson 

This is the ALA version where I say, I did not win any awards today, but I did win an Independent Book Publisher’s Award once! Then I put google eyes on it. This is probably not the most respectable thing to do.

My IPPY Award. I call them, Ippy. Totally original, I know.

Congratulations to all the authors who won awards today and to all the authors who have created books and stories and beauty. You matter. You make a difference.

The rules for the MEME: Each participant shares five little-known facts about themselves. Those tagged are asked to do the same as well as reiterate this guideline. All select five folks to be tagged and list their names. (Leave a comment letting them know that you’ve tagged them and that they may see your blog as an example.) I am not tagging people because I am shy.

Here we go.

Five Little Known Facts About Me

(Since I am “little known” MYSELF, it feels as if all facts are indeed little known, but whatever…):



1. I was once a city councilor. 

I was the youngest ever in my city, and one of a handful of women who have ever made it to the big, plush chairs. Sometimes, I would doodle things on my memos like: I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. Very mature. But I did hate it. I resigned when the newspaper chain I worked for made me the editor of the city’s newspaper, which gave me an obvious conflict of interest, but really just a ridiculous advantage over the other local paper.

Yes, I have ethics.

2. I am female 

and that’s about the only label that I’m 100% sure of, but even then I don’t think, “I am female.” I tend to think, “I exist.” Or, “I am human.” People remind me that I’m female. Sometimes those reminders aren’t nice.

3. I get massive crushes on comedians, but not in a sexual way.

It started off with Robin Williams when he was on Mork and Mindy. Oh boy, do not wear rainbow suspenders around me…. I will trail you around waiting to see how your mind works and how you make funny things.

4. And animals. 

My first crush was on Ben, the grizzly in the old Grizzly Adams TV show, and then there was Scooby of Scooby Doo and Boo Boo on this Yogi Bear cartoon. Again, not in a sexual way. I just wanted to fall in love and cuddle.



5. I am terrified that no one will read my books AND I WILL GO BANKRUPT. 

Oh, that’s just so obvious that I’ll add another one…

6. I was in a song and dance company from seventh grade through high schooL

Shut up! Do not laugh! We got paid.


Anyway, we started out performing at Chuck E Cheese (on the stage) and at the Masonic temple and eventually beaches and other places. We’d sing songs from FAME! for one of our shows. Another was all about American Pop or something embarrassing like that.

The actress/comedian, Sarah Silverman , was in it too. Her mom and my mom used to worry about it staining us and making us into bad girls who did drugs. Sarah had Mork and Mindy suspenders and I was SO JEALOUS! I think my lack of those suspenders is why I ended up a writer and not a comedian. Plus, um, lack of talent. 🙂

Bridget Walsh, who was the first Annie to tour the country was in our song and dance company, too. She swore a lot and ended up being on this MTV dance show. Go figure.

Sarah ended up being Sarah.

And I ended up being me, Writer of Books, Terrified of Nobody Reading Those Books.

Do you want to play? I would love it if you did, but no pressure!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

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

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

Hear My Book Baby (and More) On Patreon

On February first, I’m going to launch my Patreon site where I’ll be reading a chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes from some of my more popular books. And so much more.

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app and our bonus podcast below.

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere. It’s fun, accessible science fiction. Who knew there was such a thing?

31702754 copy

Martin Luther King Jr and Why We Should Try Even Though We Aren’t Perfect

When I was a kid in NH, the state refused to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.  I was so embarrassed. I begged my mom to move because I did not want to live in a state that wouldn’t celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day

She refused. 

I thought she was ridiculous and terribly mean. I pretty much had a tantrum in my bedroom, threw my pillow around, packed my duffel bag and sleeping bag, and walked down the driveway, sputtering about how horrible she was. And she could find a job in another state. And it wasn’t such a big deal to sell a house.

Then I thought about what Dr. King said. 

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

And it’s hard to drive out darkness when you run away.

It’s hard to not feel powerless in fighting injustice when you can’t even vote, but you can. You really can. You can join organizations that fight against injustices. You can speak out when you see someone being bullied. You can make yourself into a beacon of light, and try to do as much as you can to promote kindness and love and grace.

You will screw up.

Screwing up is normal.

But to not screw up? To do nothing? That’s the kind of thing that will eat away your insides. As Dr. King said: 

He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.

During his life and since his death, a lot of people have tried to cast Dr. King in a negative light. People do that kind of thing to heroes and to people who create change . They are trying to discredit his message by picking apart his life. But that doesn’t work. No man, no woman, no person, is perfect.

But the things we believe in can be perfect, bigger than us.

The things we believe in can be truths that resonate.

Dr. King’s message and truths are like that. I am so glad he was here, so glad he was brave, and so glad that we chose to applaud that. He said:

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

I am going to try harder to walk in the light of creative altruism. I will probably screw up a ton, but it’s worth it.


HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

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


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

Bar Harbor Painting Schooner
Bar Harbor Painting Schooner

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them here or anywhere.

31702754 copy

Changing the World. You can do it, too. How Rotary and Writers Make Stories for Good

What does it mean to find story? And what are the key elements to success as a writer and Rotarian?

This is the speech I give to Rotarians when they ask me for an inspiring speech versus straight-up public image training. 

I’m sharing it here because:

  1. I think more than Rotarians should hear it.
  2. I don’t know how often I’ll get to give it.
  3. It’s important to me.

Since 2007, I’ve traditionally published about 15 books, including an anti-bullying anthology, an internationally and NYT bestselling series, and medal-winners. I’ve learned a few things about story since then and I’ve learned a lot of things about people. One of the things I’ve learned is that:

Rotary and Writing Kids Books Have a Lot in Common. 

Why?

Because we are both telling stories and we are both using those stories to make a better world, to build connection and community

So how did I get published? How does anyone get published? That’s a big question people always ask. I quit my job as the editor of the Ellsworth Weekly, went to VCFA to get a master’s degree, a year later submitted my first book to an editor I knew nothing about other than he seemed super cool, and got lucky. 

But it’s about more than that.

It’s about content, craft and contacts

Content is what you want to say

Craft is how well you say it

Contacts are the final step of getting it out there in the world. And everyone is hyper focused on that step, but it’s the least important one. What matters is Character, Plot, Theme, Process, Beginnings, Middles and Ends. 

And that’s pretty much it. Have something to say. Work on saying it well. Send it out into the world. Cross your fingers. 

But writing is truly bigger than that, and deeper than that and it reminds me a lot of Rotary. 

The purpose of writing is to tell a story for motivation and engagement. It’s your purpose as a Rotarian

You look into this world, the one we are living in now,

Beyond our walls, beyond our borders

Within our walls, within our borders

And you know that the incredible exists

Incredible hate

Incredible love.

Incredible need.

And we sit here, the creations of this world of love, this world of pain and hate, of guns and bombs, of poets and artists and Rotarians

And our hearts scream for goodness

And our brains long for logic

And ours and others bodies break and mend and break again.

We are the creation of the world of stories around us, a world of the incredible.

And our children are too.

And This leads to more questions and wonderings about both the people we work with and About ourselves

What does it mean to find story when you are the one who is oppressed?

What does it mean to find story when you are the one who is barely surviving in your own life?

When your mother cries to sleep every night because she can’t find a job, pay bills, fix the furnace. 

What does it mean to find a story full of magic when you are dying for magic in your own life?

When your body doesn’t work the way other kids’ bodies work? When your body gets used in ways it is not supposed to be used? 

When people make fun of your clothes, your sex, your gender, the way you say your s’s, the shade of your skin, the curl in your hair, your last name, your first name, the way you see letters backwards, the way you see or don’t see at all, the way you learn, the way you love?

What does it mean when there are these stories out there – these magical truths – these enchanted people and places when you are just barely managing to survive? 

It means there are tiny life lines. 

It means there are little pieces of help. 

That’s what Rotary’s story is and that is what children’s books are about. 

Story is powerful. We’ve know that for forever.

Books are burned and banned because people fear them. 

Books are powerful because they are (as Ben Howard sings) information wrapped up in empathy, they are reflections of our world as it is, how it was and how it should be.

And people fear that. 

The world of fantasy is a world within books and without and the evil creatures that kids meet in these books? 

The only difference for some of them? 

The only difference is one is on the page and one is in their house. 

The only difference is one is in a book and one is in their street, their church, their classroom, their playground.

Monsters and heroes are everywhere. Fantasy novels just make those monsters and heroes bigger, the stakes seem higher when you are fighting a dark wizard or the god of war. 

Books and Rotary offers hope. They show us that there are other ways of living. There are lives and worlds greater than our own and if these lives can imagined, what does it mean about our own lives? It means we can reimagine our lives, too. 

My father was the truck driving son of a communist stock broker.

As a toddler, my father stood on the streets of Staten Island passing out political pamphlets that he couldn’t read. People spat on him for views he could not even read. They threw his pamphlets in puddles, in horse excrement in his face.

He never made it past fourth grade.

He was the smartest man I ever knew. 

He could read people’s souls, understand their stories, their sorrows and explain to you about quantum mechanics.

But he thought he was dumb.

All his life.

Because he couldn’t read. 

Sometimes, I get so sad because I think of all the things he could have become if he could read a bit better.

Knowledge Empowers Us to Want to Help

That knowledge only makes me want to work harder for all the kids I write for. I want them to have the ability and story that my dad didn’t get to enjoy

And that knowledge, I know, does the same to you. 

The thing about Rotarians and writers is that we can’t be “contained.”

We have to sing out our stories, sing out our advocacy, give voice to the powerless, because our hearts… our hearts won’t let us be quiet.

We are the people who protect the enchanted, until they can protect themselves. 

We are the ones who say – You are the girl in the story who will one day save this world. We say –  you are the boy who will rid us of the monster beneath the bed. 

It’s our responsibility. We must lift as we climb. We must lift as we teach. We must lift as we write and as we live and as we flip pancakes.

It doesn’t always happen that way

I was in the 7th grade, when a teacher told me,

“Carrie, you will never become anything with those s’s. Nobody will ever take you seriously because of those s’s. Nobody will ever hire. Nor love a girl who sounds like you.”

He made me afraid of my own voice.

He took away my heart. He took away my story.

A writer’s job is to build worlds for children that reflect possibility and magic. We are to make the best worlds we possibly can, piece by piece, word by word, symbol by symbol.

We are to put our souls in them. So that the kids can grab on and soar. If the boy wizard can survive. So can I. If the girl can stop time. So can I. 

So can I. 

Kids need to know that there is darkness around them, that this world is incredible, but that they are enchanted. That they can overcome what they need to overcome. That they can not only survive, but that they can light up the world with their magic. 

So can I.

So can they.

So can you.

Stories create potential outcomes. 

We have to expand worlds, not shrink them. We have to include and empower. We have to open our mind and our hearts as writers and teachers so that there are possibilities and hope. 

Let me tell you why I am a writer. I write because I want to make connections. I write to try to understand the world and help kids or adults understand it too. 

The Marathon

I went to the Boston Marathon to cheer on my friend Lori who was running to raise money to fight cancer the year of the bomb. I walked and set up for taking pictures. I didn’t expect to see Lori for an hour, so I hung out with some people from New Jersey, talked to some cops. I took some pictures and kept wondering if I should walk the rest of the route to get ready for when Lori crossed the finish line. Logically, I knew I should, but my gut kept me back. One of my friends called, and as we talked the first explosion went off.

“What was that?” he said.

“That was bad,” I answered. “It was an explosion. It was absolutely an explosion.”

Then the second explosion happened. And I hung up. And I looked at the cops. And the cops both lifted up their portable radios to their ears. That was not a good sign. Then they began to run towards the finish line along a parallel road. That was a worse sign, especially since one of the cops looked like he never ran. Ever.  

I followed them. It smelled of smoke. It smelled of fear and confusion. Cops and medics and volunteers swarmed the area. Blood pooled on clothing and the ground. Debris was everywhere. People were crying and hysterical. The police turned me around.

So, I turned around. I regret that now. I don’t know how I could have helped. I am not a trained emergency medical technician. I regret that, too.

So, I went back to where I had been taking pictures. Runners were wandering around still, confused, cold. They had a combination of runner’s fatigue and shock. Shivering and stunned, they were desperately trying to contact family members. Some walked in circles because they didn’t know how not to keep moving, but they also didn’t know where to go. They had spent 25 miles moving forward, towards this one destination called the finish line and now they were stuck, aimless. Their ultimate goal was suddenly gone, devastated by two bombs. Those of us who were there to watch, gave them our cell phones so they could call family members who were waiting for them. They were waiting for them right by the bombs. We gave the runners money so they could get on the T when it worked again. We gave them our coats.

“How will I give it back to you?” one runner asked as she shrugged on a dark green fleece.

“You don’t need to. You never need to,” a man next to me told her.

“I have to,” she murmured. “I have to.”

I gave away my coat. I passed around my phone.

One woman said, “Please tell me it wasn’t the subway. My kids are on the subway.”

“It wasn’t the subway,” I tell her. “It was the finish line.”

She cocked her head. “What? No? How?”

That was the question: How? We knew by then that it was probably a bomb, and the hows of making a bomb are easy, but the ‘how could you” is a harder question. 

“How?” she kept saying. “How?”

And then the police moved the runners out, they told us, the watchers, to go. So, we left, a massive exodus towards the bridge and Massachusetts Avenue. People were still sobbing. A man on a corner was reading from Boston.com on his iPhone trying to find out exactly what happened. People stood around him, strangers listening to him say the words, “explosions… injuries…”

Three girls were crying, young and scared and broken inside.

“They are so hurt. They hurt them. They are so hurt,” one girl kept repeating. We kept walking.

As I walked across the bridge, a woman on the phone sobbed to her friend, “It was so big. The explosion was so big. I dropped everything in my hands. I dropped my lens cap. I dropped my purse. I dropped it all. I called my sister. I called my friend. I called everyone. I just need to talk to someone. I feel so alone. It was awful. People were missing their legs. It was awful.”

And then she saw me, this talking woman, and I nodded at her and I grabbed her hand and squeezed it. She squeezed back. We kept walking.

A leather-jacket guy next to me was telling another guy in plaid that he had no way home. I gave him my cell. We kept walking.

As I was feeling thankful, a man in front of me went down on his knees on the sidewalk. It looked like he was praying, but he was really sobbing. We all stopped walking. People pat his back. People murmured things. He stood up and we kept walking again. We walked and walked and gradually the crowd thinned, and gradually the sobs lessened.

Life is about connections. 

As writers, we know that we have to connect with our readers. We have to make them care about the characters’ stories. 

And Rotary was built on that need for connection and the need to do good together. 

But the question is, how do we make those connections, those positive connections? Talking about Polio isn’t going to work for everyone.

We make connections by embracing and protecting the enchanted.  We do it by taking chances, by caring, by looking into the eyes of our readers or the people we’re giving wheelchairs to and seeing that spark, that magic, that hope that is there despite this world of the incredible.

We do it by giving ourselves to other Rotarians, readers, people we’re helping, over and over again and expecting nothing in return. 

But we always get something in return – We get connections.

It’s because of those connections and hope that I’m a Rotarian and why I am a writer. It is the only reason that I don’t quit either of those things. 

Content is what you want to say. What does Rotary want to say? What do the clubs want to say?

Craft is how well you say it. How do we help them to say these things? In Toronto, it’s about billboards. In small town Maine? Not so much. It’s about local people and friends inspiring others locally and doing good. 

Contacts are the final step of getting it out there in the world and here we can improve too. But not via email streams and unmotivating newsletters. Not if we want millennials. Not if we want young professionals. 

Our job is to tell the stories, make the stories, protect the Enchanted and realize that the Enchanted our sometimes ourselves.

We can’t give up. Why? Because the world needs good stories when all it hears is bad.


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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


BE A PART OF THE PODCAST!

Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app.

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn

THERE ARE ONLY TWO SPOTS LEFT AND SIGN-UP ENDS JANUARY 18TH.

So 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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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

APPLY NOW!

My Dad Used To Forget Me

When I was a little kid, my dad would sometimes to pick me up on Sundays, which was the day he was supposed to see me according to court papers. 

Back then I was one of a handful of kids in my school whose parents were divorced and we’d sort of cluster together. It was Bedford, New Hampshire, and there was this massive influx of McMansions filled with parents where there were two parents and quilts on the bed and Swedish meatballs on the stove.

I wanted that.

And it felt like everyone else had that and us ‘latchkey’ kids were not the norm. This was made super obvious during an assembly in seventh grade where the counselor made all of us kids with divorced parents raise our hands in front of everyone else.

“There is nothing to be ashamed of,” she told us while everyone else stared.

It was the first time I felt ashamed of my parents being divorced. A kid named Erik was raising his hand next to me and muttered the f-word under his breath. This made him ridiculously cool, but also made me feel better because he thought it was ridiculous, too.

“They’re singling us out,” I whispered.

Another one of us, Jen, looked like she was crying.

“Let’s stand up,” Erik said.

I think it was our seventh-grade version of claiming it.

Erik stood up.

I stood up.

Erik bowed a bow with a million theater-kid flourishes. I bowed too. So did Jen.

“You don’t have to stand up,” the counselor lady said.

We stood up. Because if you’re going to get called out for being different, you might as well own it. And for a second, I felt okay about it. I had Erik. I had Jen. I had a couple other people.

But even compared to Erik and Jen, I knew I stood out, because everyone else went to their dad’s for the whole weekend and their dad’s never actually forgot about them. Not like my dad.

I’d stare out the bedroom window at the long driveway. He was always supposed to pick me up at 10. He rarely picked me up at 10. Sometimes Mom would have to call to remind him. 

“He’s a forgetful man,” she’d say.

He was. He rarely knew the day of the week or people’s phone numbers. But their stories? He would remember those perfectly. 

I’d climb into his beige Ford Escort, horrified that my rich friends might see me in such an uncool car and he’d hand me the check for my mom and apologize for being late. 

“I didn’t forget you,” he’d say, tearing up. “I’m so sorry. Time got away from me.”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I forgot it was Sunday!”

Or sometimes it was, “I didn’t forget you. I got to talking to your uncle, Kilton.”

My almost-always response was, “Mm. Hm.”

“I don’t want you to feel forgotten.” He always said this and I knew he meant it, but I did feel forgotten a lot of the time, my poor dad. 

It’s pretty normal to feel forgotten or looked over sometimes.  And it’s hard to deal with when that happens in your own family or friends groups.

Quick Tips for When You Feel Forgettable

Expand Your Social Circle

If your friends fail to invite you to things enough to feel forgotten. Find new ones. They are missing out on your fabulousness.

You can do this with family, too.

Honestly, my poor dad, when this kept happening to me when I was little I found about 800 father figures to fill in.

Surround yourself with people who remember you.

Tell People You Miss Them WHEN YOU MISS THEM

Seriously, if you’re missing your friends, tell them. They might be clueless like my dad.

Or, they might miss you, too.

Realize That You’re Important in This World

Yep. You are. You matter to your dog, to your cat, to your ferret. You matter to the kids you teach, the people you study with, the people you work with and it’s good to remember that, but sometimes it’s so hard.

And when it’s hard, I want you to think about these questions.

What do you do to make a difference in this world?

Do you volunteer?

Help your parents?

Help your kids?

I bet there are more ways that you matter than you realize and when you remember those ways? It’s easier to not feel so forgotten.

Our Latest Podcast

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is mockup-8408a5d6.jpg

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is My-Post-copy-6.jpg

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

31702754 copy

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

WRITING BARN

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 786d9806-f7ed-494b-83a4-a5c0d4d0ddee.jpg

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

APPLY NOW!

What? You Hate Your Job? Here are Tips on How to Make it Better.

When I was a teenager, my first job was with the League of Conservation Voters and I canvassed neighborhoods asking people to sign petitions and give the organization money.

I was 14.

I sucked. I couldn’t even knock on people’s doors with confidence. And when I asked them for money? I apologized in the middle of the ask. My hand would shake holding the petition.

Let’s just say that I’m not a natural salesperson. Most people donated out of pity. That’s how sad I was.

That job was hell for me. Work wasn’t joyful. Though I believed in the cause, it wasn’t meaningful. All of it was pure stress. Constant stress.

Tangent: I moved on to be the salad girl at Wendy’s for a weekend before I got in a fight with the management over whether the old lettuce should be shoved to the bottom of the bin on the buffet or the new lettuce should.  I ended up being the pretzel girl at the Mall of New Hampshire.

I went from horrible canvasser to argumentative employee to Pretzel Girl.

Pretzel Girl.

People actually started calling me that.

As adults especially, work makes up so much of our lives and our identities. When we hate what we do at work, that hate and stress often leaks over to other things, including our self-esteem and self-image.

For some of us though, work is part of how we want to be, how we want to express ourselves in this world and we love it. We get as excited about going to work as we do about meeting our friends, or getting to pet a dog, or exploring a new book or show.

Is that you? Do you love work? Do you hate work? Do you bounce between those emotional peaks?

Not all of us can quit our jobs like I did when I was 14.

But what we can do is look at the associations we have with work. When I say, “work,” what do you think of? Write the words down if you have a second, or just kind of hold them in your mind.

A lot of people think:

  • Stress.
  • Hell.
  • Necessary.
  • Money.
  • Health Insurance.
  • Adulting

And so on. If those negative words are your associations with work, that’s because you’ve had negative experiences that you associate with work and they’ve become a part of the internalized story of your life, part of you. A lot of those associations start in your childhood.

  • How did you parents talk and think about work?
  • Can you remember your first job?
  • Did you like your first job?
  • Were people proud of their jobs in your family?
  • Did they run away to their jobs?

Last week we talked on the podcast and blog about stakeholders who shape your feelings of success and failure. That’s true about work, too.

Tips on How to Free Yourself of Negative Associations

Be Aware.

That’s the first thing. When you aren’t aware of how your experiences have shaped your associations, those associations become truths to you.

Realize That How You Associate With Work Doesn’t Have to Be Truth.

When you start deconstructing and challenging the truths in your brain, you start to take power over those stories.

Avoid Confirmation Bias.

When you believe really hard in a way of thinking such as “Writing is so hard and to do it one must be miserable,” every little moment becomes twisted into a moment that supports (confirms) that belief. Every rejection. Every time you have to figure out a plot twist. Every millisecond of writer’s block becomes not an opportunity to grow and make your work even better (rejections), an opportunity to use the logical fun puzzling part of your brain (plot twists), or an opportunity to pause and dream and think (writer’s block), but instead part of the construct that your brain has created that writing is miserable and hard.

Challenge Your Story.

When you realize that your negative associations with work are a self-fulfilling prophecy, you can start to change the narrative that you live by. What are the constructs and mental models that you’ve always thought about work? Do you think it is joyous and fulfilling? Do you think it is hard and evil and stressful? Why?

Think About Polarities.

A lot of us think that you can’t have fun and be productive. Are you one of those people? Why do you think that? I’m the president of my local Rotary club this year and all I hear is that it’s a huge investment of time and energy and how hard it must be. It isn’t. It isn’t hard at all. Club members make constant jokes about how glad I’ll be when my year is over because it’s so tough. I tell them over and over that it isn’t hard. It’s easy. But they refuse to believe that narrative. It’s a useful position, a needed position, so therefore it can’t possibly be fun. And it can’t be for them because that’s the narrative they’ve created. According to them, fun and productive can’t be in the same action.

Blog Break

It’s a big holiday week here and so I’m going to be taking a bit of a blog break for the next two weeks. There will be a podcast tomorrow and next Tuesday, but other than that? It’s a little time for my brain to recharge and rest. Thank you for understanding and I hope you found this post helpful!

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

31702754 copy
Flying

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

WRITING BARN

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

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

APPLY NOW!


How To Make Your Own Success. Step One: Define It

One time at a huge book-industry event, Book Expo America, my editor brought me to my signing booth and the line for people was the longest it had ever been (back then) for a Bloomsbury author. 

“This is amazing,” she said. “Look at this. This is for you. All these people.”

And I said, “Oh man… It’s not just for me though. It’s for you, too. You’re my editor; you’re just as big a part of this. You just don’t get the fanfare, which isn’t cool. You deserve fanfare.”

She brushed all that aside, and then I realized that her idea of success wasn’t the same as mine. She didn’t need the same things. And I also realized something else.

 “Oh, gosh. This is it, isn’t it? This is the pinnacle for me. This is my writing peak and it’s all downhill from here, isn’t it?” I asked.

She gave me a look.

That look said, “Meh, maybe.”

Her look scared me, but the bigger problem was that even, even with so many people lined up for my autograph and to get my book, even with people crying when they met me (weirdest thing ever, but so lovely and I’m wicked honored and thankful), even then I didn’t feel successful. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about success and how despite the fact that someone can write in my obituary, “New York Times and internationally bestselling novelist,” I still don’t feel successful. Once someone bit someone else to get an advanced copy of my book. People sometimes cry when I meet them. And I am so lucky. SO LUCKY! But I still don’t feel… successful.

 And that’s pretty weird because by outside metrics of success, that pretty much cuts it for a writer.

The problem is that outside metrics don’t matter when it comes to us defining our own success. We hear other people rant about what success is, what the right way to do things is, and on and on.

But those other people don’t matter.

What we define success as is what matters for ourselves. 

When it comes to our careers, success is only felt when our careers are shaped by our personal values. When our careers reflect our values, we become far more satisfied and fulfilled by what we’re doing. 

So, the first step in becoming successful is to actually define what is important to you. And apparently for me success isn’t about people biting each other, long lines at signings or bestseller list. All this things are super nice though. Um…. Except for the biting. People should never bite each other – not even for books.

So to figure out how to feel successful you have determine what are your values? And sometimes those values…? They’re hard to determine and define for yourself. I’m not talking about the values your family told you were important, or your Instagram friends say are important. I’m talking about the values that you – YOU (INSERT YOUR OWN NAME HERE, OKAY) – think are important.

Three Quick Steps to Help You Figure Out Your Values

  • Think about your perfect world and community. What is it like? 
  • Think about your death bed. You’re about to die and you reflect back on your life and have a super huge regret. What is it that hurts you inside because you didn’t do it? 
  • That’s such a downer. So think about your death bed again, but this time you feel peaceful and accomplished. What is it that makes you feel that way?

A lot of times, we don’t realize that the outside metrics of our success: 

  • Be a bestseller
  • Win a Nobel Prize
  • Earn 5 million dollars (in a month)
  • Have people bite each other for your books

Are often the internalized wishes and definitions of society or our parents or our agents or our peers. But they often don’t align with our personal values. So, figure out your personal values. Looking at those three questions and really thinking about them is the first step.

Think about your answers to those three questions I just asked you and refine what your core values are. It might be super easy and the answers just pop out at you, but you might be blocked, which is normal and okay. If you are, check out this list and then define your five top personal values. Do they coincide with what you’re doing at work? In life? In your creative life? Can you make them align better?

In the podcast tomorrow, Shaun and I are going to be talking about stakeholders, which is another key component to feeling (or not feeling successful). The podcast is called Dogs are Smarter Than People. I hope you’ll check it out AND I hope that you found this helpful.

Be the success you want to be.

Define yourself.

You deserve to sing the song you want to sing, the story you want to be. 

WRITING AND OTHER NEWS

ART.

I do art stuff. You can find it and buy a print here. 

TIME STOPPERS!

You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

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.

Time Stoppers Carrie Jones Middle grade fantasy

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?

It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED

Men in Black meet Buffy the Vampire Slayer? You know it. You can buy them hereor anywhere.

OUR PODCAST – DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

31702754 copy
Flying

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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

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

WRITING COACH

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

WRITING BARN

I am super psyched to be teaching the six-month long Write. Submit. Support. class at the Writing Barn!

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

APPLY NOW!