Being Nice: Who Do You Think You Are?

I spend almost all my time trying to be a nice person. It’s always been like this; I kid you not. Like in fifth grade I was voted MOST COURTEOUS like that was some kind of damn honor or something, right?

Carrie is polite.

Carrie is courteous.

Carrie is word-of-the day worthy.

That’s not who I thought I was.

“Most Courteous” wasn’t what I wanted to be, you know, right? Like I wanted to be “Smartest” or “Prettiest” or “Class Clown” or “Most Athletic” even though “Most Athletic” is something I could never be since I have zero hand-eye coordination. This is because I don’t use my left eye to see. They thought I was blind when I was born. I had an operation. I had glasses when I was one year old and kept them all the way until fifth grade when I prayed to God every night to not have to have glasses in middle school.

There was this stupid Dorothy Parker quote that says, “Boys don’t make passes at girls who wear glasses,” and that quote was like the word of God to me. I knew I would always be most courteous and not real superlative worthy unless I actually got rid of those damn glasses.

So I prayed.

At the doctor’s office, I sat in the chair and stared at the eye chart. It was all on my right eye, I knew. It had to perform at 100 % to get rid of those damn glasses.

The doctor was all, “Can you read this line?”

And I was all, “E.”

And he was all, “Can you read this line?”

And I was all, “T.O.Z.”

He made an interesting noise, like he was impressed. “Go down as low as you can. Just keep reading each line. Start at the top. How about that?”

“Okay.” I took a deep breath and started from the top. “E F P T P Z L P E D.”

I went on and on. I could see them all.

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Sadly, the magical return of my eyesight didn’t make me magically popular as one boy reminded me at a sixth-grade dance at St Joseph’s the one Catholic church in our town. We had one Catholic church, which was where some of the Irish and French Canadian kids went. We had Protestant church, which was Presbyterian. That’s it.

I wanted to be one of those church kids so badly. But one of my dads was an atheist. Another dad was a lapsed Catholic who believed that hell was where we were living right now, on Earth. And my mom gave up her Methodist Church in Manchester because she caught the minister cheating at bowling and called him out on it.

“He lied to my face, that man,” Mom would self-righteously retell us for decades. “Right. To. My. Face. And this man was supposed to be in charge of my spiritual growth? I’ll show him spiritual growth. He was always looking at my cleavage, too. Creep.”

Bowling mattered a lot to my mom. But I was just annoyed because her cleavage and insistence that you aren’t supposed to cheat in bowling meant I couldn’t go to church.

And I wanted to.

I wanted to belong, you know?

plot pacing and proms writing tips

So, when S. slow danced with me three times in a row at the CCD dance, I felt like I might actually belong.

But then he pulled away from me and said, “Carrie, let’s face it. Neither of us are lookers. So we might as well make do with each other.”

I stepped out of his arms and I said one word, “What?”

“I’m saying… I’m saying… We’re not tens so we might as well make do.”

I cried and I ran away and hid in the bathroom. I didn’t come out even when his mom, a freaking chaperone, came in to check on me. I didn’t come out until there wasn’t any music playing at all.

Only then did I run out to my mom’s old Chevy Monte Carlo, which was waiting in the parking lot. I wrenched open the door and slammed myself inside the car.

“What is it?” Her smile went into the anger place where her lips were just straight lines. This was how she looked when she talked about her little Methodist minister friend.

I blurted out what S. said. With my mother, there was no pretending something bad hadn’t happened. There were no secrets, unless they were hers.

“That bastard,” she said.

“I’m ugly.” I sobbed that out somehow.

“You aren’t ugly. That boy is ugly. His heart is ugly. He was working some line. He thinks he’s some actor. Some comedian. He’s a punk.”

But I knew in my heart that my mom was lying. I was ugly. I had to be.

I suddenly became someone I didn’t think I was.

And the thing is, no matter how many times I’ve heard people tell me I’m not, heard boys and girls call me cute or beautiful or lovely or pretty, I’ve never believed them. It’s S.S’s words that I hear in my head, over and over again.

Neither of us are lookers.

            We’re not tens.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Prom dog

I have this other friend who photographs well. She is the opposite of me because I photograph like poop.

She says to me sometimes, “I don’t know how so many guys like you. You and me? We’re alright looking, but we’re not beautiful like OTHER GIRL.”

And I smiled at her.

OTHER GIRL is skinny and blonde and full of acne scars and holes of anxiety that threaten to eat her insides away. And I worry for her all the time.

And I am?

Alright looking, I guess. I became who she said I was.

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Her words shouldn’t matter.

It freaking matters.

 

Other people’s words have echoed and echoed and shaped me until I don’t even want to be in a photograph anymore. I’m too afraid that the image of me that I see will be even worse than I imagine.

I had delusions of insignificance. Every time I felt badly about who I was it was because someone else had put me in a comparison situation.

You know how that is right?

Ah, I’m not as successful as Rick Riordan.

Ah, I’m not as beautiful as all these famous actresses and models or even that random police dispatcher in my town. 

Ah, I’m not as smart as…

Ah, I’m not as good a runner as…

But the thing is? That’s crap. You are magical as you. You don’t need to be compared to anyone else or compare yourself to others. Superlatives are bull. We are all superlative at being ourselves.

Your life is your message to this world.

And what is that message? The truth of you? The truth of me? It sure isn’t how we look. It’s how we are on the inside. For me that’s word-of-the-day Carrie, Courteous Carrie, Writer Carrie, Photographer Carrie, Hug Your Dogs All the Time Carrie.

That’s the truth of you, too.

And looking into mirrors? It’s about more than seeing what’s on the outside, about more than being defined and labeled by what’s on that same outside. It’s about the inner you. The real you and seeing it – really seeing it – and knowing how freaking magic you are just by being you, authentically and truly you.

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That’s not saying you don’t have flaws, that you won’t mess up. We all mess up. We mess up constantly.

Some people are afraid of the #metoo movement, of making their own mistakes when it comes to racial issues, religious issues, sexuality, identity, ability.

That fear? It’s good. It makes us better. We are all heading straight into truth; burning it out of ourselves, all the ugly things that we don’t want to see. We can’t let our fear slow us down. We can’t let other people’s visions of us control us. We can’t be afraid to look into the mirrors that see deep inside of us.

Social media brings out trolls. That’s so true, but it also gives us a voice, a hope. We have a new template for telling our stories, for making our lives and for sharing them in a world where our voices often didn’t matter. We can share our magic in so many ways.

And it’s intoxicating and terrifying. People are interested in other people. People are sharing with other people. People are even interested in us. In us.

And that’s power.

And that’s magic.

Use it wisely. I know I will try to. I know I make mistakes. I know that I am human. But the thing is? I love being human. I love growing and evolving and changing. I hope you do, too.

Writing News

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of my 16-or-so books, check out my website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

The next book coming out with Bloomsbury in August is this one! More on the series here.

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OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE – New episode tomorrow!

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

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.

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Memorial Day

 

My step-dad never talked about his service in World War II. He was a quiet man with an easy laugh. He was the kind of man who always could do anything. That’s how it seemed to me. He hardly ever cried, hardly ever got mad. He liked fishing and building. He liked coffee and cigarettes and steamers. He loved his family and his friends and his boat.

He wasn’t the kind of man who cried.

I saw him do it twice. The first time was when his brother died. The second time was on Memorial Day.

We were at a parade. The veterans were marching. He never marched with them. I don’t know why. A high school band was playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was holding my dad’s hand and all of a sudden he let go. My hand dangled empty. He turned away, took three steps back from the crowd of the road, and faced the buildings.

“Daddy?”

He pressed his fingers into his eyelids. He nodded once. “What sweetie?”

“Are you okay?”

He wiped his eyes just once with the back of his hand. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Are you sad?”

He half-shrugged. “A little bit.”

I’d only just really learned what the Memorial Day parade was about. From school I knew it was about soldiers who died in war. I knew my dad had been in a war, a big war. I made the connection.

“Did you have soldier friends who died?” I asked.

“A lot, baby. A lot.”

Our fingers found each other. We walked back to the crowd.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Me too.”

 

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of the summer vacation season. It’s more than a day off of work and school. Memorial Day is about the friends, husbands, wives, lovers, children, brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home.

We all know that.

We need to know that for more than just today.

I met a great guy from Otis back in 2008. He had a cane. He had a dog. I am a sucker for dogs. We talked about how on the Otis Town Report there are pictures of soldiers from Otis who are currently serving. His son served. He’s an Air Force recruiter now and his dad, the man I talked to, the nice man with the sweet smile, the can, and the beautiful dog, he served in Vietnam.

“It’s better for the soldiers coming home now,” he said. “I think people are finally getting it.”

I’m glad for that. I’m really glad but should it have taken 30 years for people to get it?

Men and women have died in service to our country. Men and women continue to die in service to our country. Those deaths mean more than a parade, more than a work-free/school-free day. Those deaths mean a lot. Not all those soldiers were perfect or saints, but all of them gave their lives for something bigger. All of them sacrificed.

For years I’ve watched the veterans throw a wreath off of the bridge in downtown Ellsworth. When I was a reporter, I even took pictures of it. The wreath? It floats away, down the Union River. It makes me remember the parade with my step-dad and how suddenly my dad let go. There I was, fingers dangling, hand empty, wondering.

But that wreath floating down the river is not really gone. None of those soldiers are gone. My dad, who died of a heart attack when I was in sixth grade, isn’t gone either, nor are his friends. Every one of them has touched our lives somehow. Every sacrifice has to keep being remembered. There are so many heroes from Hancock County, Maine, and from all over this country.

There are more and more all the time.

It’s important to notice the bad that happens, the evil that people do, but it’s just as important to celebrate the good that people are capable, the sacrifices (small and large) that we are also capable of. The empathy. The love. The selflessness.

When you are a military mom, like I am, Memorial Day becomes even more poignant. It’s a day where Americans are meant to remember military members that we lost in war, the people who sacrificed their lives for the ideals and Constitution of this country.

At Emily’s basic training graduation at Fort Jackson last year, the speaker, talked about how that made a difference, how in the United States the military isn’t about serving the leader of the country, but about the Constitution of the country and the people of the country. And for me, Memorial Day, is a reminder of those we’ve lost, those we might soon lose, but also about the ability of people to put others above their own selves, to come together as a country, and to serve the ideals of that country, so incredibly selflessly.

Book Expo America is Coming and I have Nothing to Wear

So, I have to go to Book Expo America at the end of this week. If you are not some official publishing person you’re probably like, “What is Book Expo America?” It’s this big huge massive (insert another large-sounding adjective here) industry thing where there are:

1. Publishers
2. Authors
3. Book sellers
4. Publicists

And almost all of them are well dressed.

There is the issue! I am from Maine…. Okay, I live in Northern Maine. How northern? When people from Glamour Magazine came up here to do a photo shoot with Megan Kelley Hall and myself (for our Dear Bully anthology) they made us DRESS IN LL BEAN CLOTHES!!!!!

Yes, even Glamour knew that it is not glamorous up here.

Sigh.

Megan still looked good. Me? The hair stylist/make-up person kept complaining about my hair, and how my nose turned red in the cold, and I felt so badly for her because she was used to super models or My Little Pony (really – she was the stylist for My Little Pony) and then she got stuck with me.

Anyway, I was thinking about BEA and authors who are always beautiful and poised and funny and lovely. And I have decided I need to somehow magically channel these authors at BEA so I don’t look like a hick from Maine or like, you know, I’ve never actually interacted with other actual human beings before.

But pretty much everything in my wardrobe has paint stains on it, holes, or long white dog fur.

She always blames me. There are lint rollers out there for a reason. Geesh.

I basically come across as either an eccentric old-money professor or homeless.

You may think I have no reason to be panicky, but I’m going to repost what happened to me the last time I went to BEA, and maybe you’ll understand.

ONCE AGAIN FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT BEFORE – HERE IS THE HORRIBLE INCIDENT OF ME AT BEA LAST TIME (Taken from the original blog post of horror):

So, yep, I had my skirt fall off (YES! PAST MY KNEES!) when I got out of the taxi today!  Oh, Britney…oh Lindsey…oh Paris… I so feel your pain. Fortunately, there were no paparrazzi, just my cab driver (His eyes got really big) and a father with his eight-year-old son (WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!). They were standing right there, waiting for the taxi. The little boy gasped! GASPED!!!! I have marred him for life.

I then realized I should not be let out of Maine.

So I started yanking my skirt up with my hand while trying to:
a. Pay taxi driver guy
b. not die
c. juggle three massive bags full of ARCS
d. not worry about that little boy’s therapy bills.

It was then that I realized that hotel security cameras probably totally caught the skirt fall action.

I thanked God (and pretty much every potential deity in existence) that I am not famous and therefore not worthy enough to have the skirt DISASTER image blasted all over the internet.

I then hid in the hotel room, vowing never to come out again.

So, yeah. I don’t want that to happen again.

If you would like to see me in unsuitable clothes, check out the Lerner Booth on Friday, June 1 from 11:30 to noon.  I’ll be there with a spy who was also a catcher. 🙂

My Post copy 6

 

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

“It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn “

And more about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are Smarter Than People, the podcast
Look, Mom! It’s a podcast.

It’s okay to wander in life.

At the Abbe Museum Indian Market yesterday, it was about artists and bringing attention to the Wabanaki heritage and culture.

That’s what the Abbe Museum is all about.

The event though? It also created connections as people exchanged snippets of their lives and stories with each other.

One artist showed a old photo in a book to a guest. “It’s this picture. She’s right here.”

“Yes! It’s my grandmother’s niece.”

There was a moment of nodding, smiling and the artist asked the man on the other side of the table, “Are you a writer?”

“Nah, just a regular person wandering around today,” he said.

“Oh, that’s what we all always are, isn’t it?”

His smile grew bigger and they shared a silence.

Sometimes when you hear real truths? There are no other words.

I hope that your Monday and your week is full of truths and big realizations of wandering around and being regular and being real.

Here are some photos I took:

Molly Neptune
Molly Neptune
Geo Neptune
Geo Neptune
JJ
Molly

What does it mean to be a regular wandering person? What does it mean to find your own truths? It means you aren’t defining yourself by your job, your labels, other people’s expectations.

It means you are being and existing and observing without definitions.

It means that you are drawing in experiences to use later if you’re a writer or an artist or a person who interacts with others.

When we live our biggest lives, when we wander and experience? We learn, not just about other people but also about ourselves.

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

Gabby the Dog is so into that and I am, too.

 

As writers, we try to create emotional truths in our readers. We try to make them feel and understand life and story through our characters.

Here are a couple things to remember when you’re writing fiction:

  1. Thoughts lead to feelings.
  2. Saying “I am so sad,” doesn’t really make us readers feel sad. But showing us how a woman feels the cold side of the bed. A name comes into her head. She reaches out her hand. The bed is still cold. She hugs a pillow, clutching it to her. . . . That can show us more than ‘sad,’ it can show us ‘sad-lonely.”
  3. Emotional truths in our story are the truths that resonate with us. They are the things that hurt us deeply, lift us up. Things we are passionate about. Remember your passion, your beliefs, when you write. It will help inform those truths.

 

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

And more about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

How Do You Procrastinate and How Do You Stop?

So, when I started the first draft for the FOURTH (yes, fourth) book in the NEED series, I continued the life-long tradition of Carrie Jones Procrastination.

So, you might wonder what does a writer do to procrastinate?

Well, we do everything. All my writer friends know this.

pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən,|
noun of evil?

During the Need series,  I procrastinated by attacking the giant fur balls that my dogs Scotty and Tala left on the floor every day. Seriously, the fur was so big that it blew in the wind like tumbleweed.

Imagine that this was me (only I don’t wear khakis and I don’t have a guy butt) and the tumbleweed is white dog fur and you see my life.

Tala’s Ghost Explains: It was not a thyroid issue. I am a dog. I shed. It’s pretty! 

And in my procrastinating frenzy I became fascinated with David Hasselhoff. Seriously. Look at him….. I still need to write him into a book – procrastinating again. Yes, I know he has his OWN book, but still….

I think he has the look of an evil pixie. He would have fit right into the series. What do you think?

Well, writer friends and friends-friends, what do YOU do to procrastinate?

My top five ways to procrastinate are:
1. Pick up dog fur.
2. Check Facebook.
3. Think about Tweeting.
4. Staring out window.
5. Wondering if David Hasselhoff is human. I know he can’t be a vampire because he’s wearing a cross. But he COULD be a shifter or a pixie. He could!

Anyway, that was then during the Time of the Need Series, but I’m now in this weird other part of my writing life and I have a slightly different style of life and procrastination.

My current top five ways to procrastinate are:

  1. Picking up dog fur
  2. Thinking about things like God, existence, purpose
  3. Refreshing email on my phone.
  4. Thinking about Tweeting
  5. Scrolling through Facebook AND Instagram AND Twitter AND various newsfeed.

You will notice the Hasselhoff has dropped off the list.

And before I give procrastination a completely bad rap, let me say that there are good things about it.

Good things about procrastination:

  1. In the space where my mind isn’t actively working on a project, my brain sees other things in the world and ideas spark.
  2. My house is cleaner
  3. I see my emails sooner? Yeah… that one is a stretch.

But despite these good things, a lot of us don’t want to procrastinate quite so much, right?

So here are some ways to stop procrastinating:

 

  1. Make a deadline for yourself about whatever you are procrastinating about.
  2. Cut your project up into something manageable. Acknowledge your awesome when you hit smaller goals.
  3. Think about how awesome you will feel when you get that goal done.
  4. Don’t be afraid of failing. A lot of times we procrastinate about something because we think we won’t be able to do it well.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along! There will be a new episode every Tuesday.

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.

Monday Motivation and Writing Process; Being Weird? It’s totally okay.

Life isn’t usually a nice ascent where you get to your end goal and never get knocked down or have a set back.

But the point is to keep moving forward, to keep striving and loving and fighting for what you believe in.

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For a long time, Marsie the Cat was super afraid to go outside into the big world. She was only okay with it if you put her on a leash like a dog. She liked being tethered to her humans, which is good news for birds, honestly, since cats kill so many songbirds.

But anyway, Marsie worked her way up to facing her fears. She took one step outside. Then another. Then another. She explored the world.

Marsie the Cat: Are you going to tell the humans that they should be like me and be brave?

Me: Basically.

Marsie: Humans should always emulate cats.

Me: 

Marsie: Fine. Go on with the blog. Also, please don’t tell them that I’ve never killed anything. The other cats would mock my pacifist ways.

Me: 

Marsie: They all heard that, huh?

Me: Pretty much.

In my own life, there are a TON of things that I’m hesitant to do because it feels too vulnerable or like it’s just… Well, like people will laugh at me, honestly. But then I think – Dude, people laugh at you all the time. Those people are just haters and at least you are giving them a moment of joy at your expense or… yeah… I don’t know there’s got to be a way to spin this positively.

Anyways, one of the weirder and more vulnerable parts of my writing process is painting. A lot of times when I get stuck, I paint something that expresses the moment of the story that I’m working on.

Sharing that makes me feel a bit jittery-vulnerable. But I’m sharing it because:

  1. Marsie wants me to. She thinks it’s motivating.
  2. This is my year of doing things that are hard for me like the podcast and being in THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and stuff and rebooting a blog and having an occasional newsletter

BACK TO PROCESS

So, lots of other authors make notebook mosaics of images when they write a book. They’ll cut out pictures from magazines and glue them into a notebook or a big piece of cardboard paper and stare at these images to represent their characters.

Me?

Yeah, that would be far too logical a way for me to approach getting into the ‘essence’ and ‘imagery’ of my story.

Instead, I paint things. I do this despite the facts that:

1. I have NO IDEA how to paint.
2. I only took Art 101 in high school and it did not cover painting. It was all about drawing still life. I failed at it.
3. Did I mention the whole lack of artistic talent thing?

Oh! And also every Sunday morning I would draw cartoons when I was a kid and every Sunday morning my mom would declare, “Nobody in our family is an artist.”

And I would say, “Grammy paints.”

And she would say, “My side of the family.”

But because I am:

1. illogical
2. stubborn

I do not let this lack of training or talent or my mother’s genes stop me.

Art is way harder for me to share than:

1. Stories about my skirt falling down
2. Family tragedies
3. My writing (even poems).

I’m not sure why that is. I guess it’s almost like posting current diary entries or something, but here goes:

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So, this dark and dreary one (with the lens flash included for special coolness) is from the story AFTER OBSESSION that I co-wrote with Steve Wedel.  I had to get into the scary part of the story. And the sense of isolation and the creepy guy.

And this smoochy-smoochy one is for ENTICE (a NEED book), and yes, the people are kind of ugly…. I told you I couldn’t paint!  And yes, Zara’s hair is blonde. I ran out of black paint.  A real artist would have gone out and bought more black paint, but I’m a writer so….

*hyperventilates*

Excuse me. I have to go hide in shame.

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Okay, I’m back.
And yes, the guy has the weird beginnings of a beard, but that’s because I messed up. 😉

 

And you’d think after years of bad painting that I would eventually stop with this.IMG_0828
Spoiler: I haven’t stopped with this. There’s a whole bunch more on my art page.
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But the one I’m working on right now is for ANOTHER NOW, which is a time travel story that I’m working on. It’s YA and the first part takes part on Mount Desert Island in Maine. And I was thinking about how we add on paint and add on paint, but scratching it off? That’s also pretty cool and it reminds me of revising a book.
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Because when we revise, we scratch things out. We accentuate other things. It’s all about trying to make people feel and think. It’s all about communicating story as best as we can, right?
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And life is sort of like that. We add on and add on with our experiences, but we also can scratch out the parts of us we don’t like. We can quit boards and remove ourselves from bad places. We can work to bring more joy and meaning into our life and work to reduce our own negative qualities.
Revision isn’t just about adding on. It’s also about scratching out.
That’s pretty cool.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

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.

How Do You Become? Meeting Secret Superheroes

I used to sleep in a car.

That’s not as big a deal as you would think it was. Yes, it was Maine, but I had a really furry dog who was warm and cuddly.

Nobody knew I did this. Not my friends. Not the people I worked with. Not even my own family.

And I realized one morning as I was rolling up my sleeping bag and hiding the evidence, “Do I want to define myself as the woman who sleeps in a car with her dog?”

And the answer was no. Beds are warmer and cozier and they don’t give you a crick in your back.

Yesterday, I was at a Rotary International District Conference in Cornwall, Ontario, Canada. There were these beautiful people all around me. Every one of them volunteers, defining themselves as people of action, people who make change in their community and all around the world.

While they were voting on their budgets, the man next to me gave me a save-the-date card. He was unassuming, thin and over 60, I think.

But this man? This man was a secret superhero. volunteering countless hours to help his community and the world. And then I realized – everyone in this room was the same – they were all changing the world, saving the world, pretty quietly, one teaspoon at a time.

Secret Superheroes

The card the secret superhero man gave me was for a Rotary conference. I have seen a million Rotary International cards, but this one was different.

It had a hashtag on top, which is such a big deal for Rotarians because they aren’t hashtag people. But it was the content of the hashtag that mattered to me:

#whatmightwebe.

“Oh,” I think I may have made a sharp inhale.

“Look at the back. There are quotes on the back.”

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“I love this,” I told him.

He smiled.

As writers and humans we cling to our definitions of who we are.

The first questions people usually ask me when we meet (and it’s not on book tour) is what I do and where I am from as if my job and location define me. It’s  kind of them to ask. I do the same thing.  But who we are isn’t our location and our occupation. It’s so much more. It’s what we decide it to be.

So become what you want to become. Let go of the things that define you. Easier said than done, right?

But you have to try. Let go of the labels that keep you in place and grab the ones you want to own, the ones that will expand you (not in a gassy way, but a uplifting way).

The first step?

Find your passion.

The second step?

Go after it.

When I started writing novels, I was a full-time editor for a small local newspaper sleeping in my car a lot. I wrote on notecards in my car while I waited to pick my daughter up from school. I wrote on the backs of state high school basketball programs during halftime when I was taking photos of a game. I wrote on a laptop balanced on my knee as I covered a planning board meeting. I wrote everywhere. That first story became this.

I just got the first pass proof pages this week for the last book in the series. Many thanks to Bloomsbury for publishing it.

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When I was writing these books back in 2006, I realized that I loved making up stories. So I thought, how can I do this well enough to do this for a living?

I sent a piece of that story and applied to Vermont College of Fine Arts. I got in. I freaked out. I worked ridiculously hard, producing three times the normal amount of work the other students produced.

Why?

Because I felt so lucky to be there, I didn’t want to screw it up.

Here’s the key though: I wanted to do it so much that my fear of failing? It wasn’t as strong as my want. I was willing to work tirelessly and becoming something.

That something wasn’t necessarily being a writer.

That something was becoming better.

I wanted to evolve, to become, to learn, to grow, to be better.

So, that’s the first step, defining your want, your passion, your need and going for it.

So, I’m asking you: What do you want to become?

It’s okay to take a moment to think about that. Sometimes we get so busy fulfilling our obligations and helping family and friends and just surviving, that we forget what we’re surviving for, what we’re aiming to become. And we even feel guilty for taking three extra minutes to actually think about our own selves and who we are.

It’s okay to spend a minute to think. You’ve got this.

WRITING NEWS AND STUFF

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,  I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

To find out more about my books, there are links in the header. And if you buy one? Thank you so much. Let me know if you want me to send you a bookplate.

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. If you want to help us out, please subscribe to it, share it, or tell us that you like it.

COOKING WITH A WRITER

I’ve started a tongue-in-spoon subgroup in my blog all about cooking vegetarian recipes as a writer. It is silly. The recipes still work though. Check it out here.

Black Bean Soup Recipe. Cooking with a Writer
There are white beans in this image. Try to pretend they aren’t there, okay?

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn classthat they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

 

Write Submit Support
Look. A typewriter.

 

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

Remembering the Boston Marathon

I first posted this on the night of the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013, and the post was picked up by our local newspaper, the Huffington Post and a couple magazines. People asked me to be interviewed. I denied those requests. I did that because I don’t think this is my story any more than anyone else’s story. I did that because I didn’t want any 10-seconds of fame because of what I witnessed and wrote about.

I never wrote about everything I witnessed.
I never posted all the photos I took.
I never will.

And I am glad of that.

But I will post this almost every year to make sure that I remember. I apologize for the double post today.

I used to be a newspaper reporter and an editor. And there is something cold and limiting in putting down the facts of a story. The facts (when we can discern them) are important, but the truth of stories? That truth is embedded somewhere else. It is in the details, the feelings, the hearts of those involved. I sometimes think that poems and songs come closer to the truth of people and even of terror incidents than a news story ever will.

But still, there has been a verdict. I am glad of that. I am glad that at least one chapter of the many stories that began when brothers bombed a marathon has ended.

Today, people ran the marathon again and I am so glad of that. So glad.

Since that marathon, my friend, Lori, has run it again, still passionately trying to raise money for Dana Farber Cancer research. Another friend, Erin Dionne has written about being in the jury selection pool. Their stories continue, as do so many others. And some have ended.

Here is my original post that I wrote the day of the marathon:

So, I was at the Boston Marathon today to take pictures of my friend, Lori, running and then crossing the finish line. Before the marathon, I had lunch with my daughter Em. She was nervous.

“I have a bad feeling,” she said. “You need to be careful.”

“You have no faith in me. I am a perfectly capable person,” I said.

“I just am worried.”

“I will be fine,” I told her.

But I did several things that I don’t normally do. I didn’t take the T. I chose to walk from Cambridge to mile 25.5 of the race route. I figured out the T route and everything, but I just didn’t want to go on it. Walking was healthier, I figured. I was going to watch a marathon.

So, 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. It was close. 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 two closest 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. There were cops and medics everywhere. Their shiny, reflective yellow vests were like pieces of good and brave in a smoky land of pain. I wanted to tell each of them how heroic they were. There was no time for that. They were busy saving people.

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 could someone kill runners and spectators? How could humans ever think it’s okay to hurt each other? How could anyone commit violence in big acts with bombs or small acts with fists.

How could we? How could humanity?

“How?” she kept saying. “How?”

And then the police moved the runners out, detouring them down another street. And then 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, moving forward because we didn’t know what else to do.

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. It worked. We kept walking.

I made sure that Lori’s husband and daughter were okay even though they’d been waiting right across the street from where the bomb exploded. They were. I knew Lori was okay already because I had been tracking her route. I’d never been so happy that she was running hurt and that was making her slower than normal. 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 patted 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 lessoned. But the sirens? The sirens grew louder and more continuous. They were forever sirens. They did not stop.

And so many people will not be able to walk ever again. And at least three people are dead. And so many people have had their hearts and bodies broken at this marathon that should be a celebration of human endurance and spirit and will.

And so many people helped others, making tourniquets out of yarn, carrying the injured, soothing the shocked, giving away their clothes to keep runners warm. And so many people have hearts of goodness. We can’t forget that. Not ever. Not today. Not in Boston. Not ever. Because that is exactly what the Boston Marathon is about: It’s about not giving up, not giving in to pain. It’s about that celebration of surviving and enduring against all odds, against everything. It’s about humanity. No bomber can take that away. Not ever.

Five Things That Make Me Go “Ick” – My Biggest Book Turnoffs and People Turnoffs

So one day I was driving Em to school and Bob and Sheri, this talk show, was on the radio and the hosts were having callers tell them about what was a huge turn-off. You know, what is it that happens when you are on a date that makes a great big red light flash in your head and you go: WHOA! THIS DUDE/DUDETTE IS NOT FOR ME!

I’ve had a lot of these moments. *Cough. Cough* However, I’ve decided to make a top five list. Yes, I am limiting myself to five.

TOP FIVE THINGS POTENTIAL LOVE INTERESTS HAVE DONE OR SAID TO ME THAT MADE ME GO ICK!

*Note: All of these have actually happened to me before.

1. A CRIMINALLY Abusive Past

Finding a restraining order under the front seat of his car on your first date when he is out of the car pumping gas.

Actually, my dog found this and I had to take it out of his doggy mouth. Let’s just say protection orders are never good to find under the seat on a first date.

He ended up stalking me for awhile.

2. General Freakyness

He has an apartment with absolutely no pictures on the walls, no knickknacks, no litter, no nothing.

Nothing says serial killer like this. Honestly, I was looking for big, blue tarps and duct tape.

3. MESSY and/or Loud Eating

They possess the inability to get food in their mouth and instead gets it in their hair, my hair, their chin, the table, the floor, etc….

It’s just gross. Plus, it’s a waste of food.

4.Putting on the Passive-Aggressive Compliments.

Telling me I look like a bag lady. Not charming. Even if you add in ‘cute,” as in…. Hey, you look like a bag lady if bag ladies were cute.

To be fair, though, I was wearing a lot of clothes. Seriously. Maine is cold in winter. Sometimes you have to layer. A lot.


5. Being A Horrible Human Being

Telling me that I look like a good breeder because even though I don’t have hips, I’m pale and I have blue eyes? Sorry. Racists and guys who think of women as ‘breeders’ are not a turn on. Ever. Also, you don’t know what is hanging out in my DNA and heritage.

Hint: I’m not as white as I present, but man? Do I present as really white? I truly do. Is that my race? Yes, it is. Unless, you’re a eugenist and then… no.

So what about you? Have you ever been on a date where you were like: Nope. Nuh-uh. Never again.

Five things that make me go "ick" about books and life partners. Things that are super turnoffs
ICK!

And as I was thinking about this, I realized that there are ways books do this to me, too. Everyone’s turn-offs are different, but here are my current top five.

The love interest is abusive and it’s supposed to be a romance. 

Yeah. No. Enough said.

Everyone is white and straight and rich and able bodied. 

Because… well, I don’t like books that are that kind of creepy.

Really, really bad grammar AND SPELLING.

Stuff like:

‘Your a villain’, he sayid.

‘No freakin’g, way, in a million years” ! she said,

Characters that don’t sound like people.

You know what I mean, right? There’s a super famous, multi-million dollar book that became a movie that’s a first person narrative and I swear the main character sounds like a pretentious 50-year-old man who wears a lot of tweed and only drinks craft scotch while sculling. To be fair, I think I’m the only person who feels this way because all my friends adore this book.

Or the books without contractions and everyone sounds like a computer-generated scam call. I’m totally not into that unless it’s on purpose for a specific character and they get called out on it.

Incest

Yeah. No. Again. It’s not something I can handle.

GIRLS WHO LOOK IN THE MIRROR RIGHT AWAY

I don’t care about what the character looks like enough to read a paragraph about her looking in the mirror and talking about what she looks like AS IF SHE HAS NEVER SEEN HERSELF BEFORE!

I can about what the character does, thinks, says, feels, but her looks? His looks? Not so much.

Marsie only cares about whether or not people will feed her. And also if they pet her. Not how they look.

How about you? What are you biggest people turn-offs? Your biggest book turn-offs? Teach us all what not to do! And how does this have to do with my Monday Motivation theme? Knowing what we don’t like? It helps us to go after and experience what we love.

If you enjoyed this post, I’d be so super grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest. Thank you! I know it’s a super small thing, but it means so much to me.

carriejonesbooks.blog Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones

WRITING NEWS AND STUFF

Okay. I hope you don’t mind me sharing this, but I earned out my picture book biography of Sara Emma Edmonds!!!!

This is such a huge thing for me that I can’t begin to tell you how cool it feels especially since it’s with this picture book. Sara was this cool woman who dressed like a man so she could fight in the U.S. Civil War, but then her superiors asked her to dress like a woman and spy on the other side. So, she was a woman dressed like a man dressed like a woman and taking names the entire time. So amazing. Thank you so much to everyone who bought it!

Unknown

 

THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn classthat they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

I swear, I did not pay anyone to say that. I didn’t even ask them to say it. The Writing Barn just told me that the feedback had intensely kind things like that.

FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

These books are out there in the world thanks to Tor.

What books? Well, cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

Monday Motivation – How I Survived My Bullies and Tips So Maybe You Can, Too

When I was a little kid I talked funny. If you’ve heard me in person or listened to the podcast, you can tell that I still do, but it was way worse then. I slurred my s sounds. It wasn’t a lisp. It was more of a slur – like my tongue was kind of lazy and just didn’t want to do all the work.

How I survived bullying
The tongue – my mortal enemy

 

So, in first grade for the whole first week, Jay Jamison (almost his real name) made fun of me. I’d raise my hand and answer and he’d lean over his desk and repeat whatever I said only super exaggerating the bad ‘s’ sounds.

So, if the answer was Sunday, I’d raise my hand and say, “Sunday.”
And then he’d lean over and go, “Ssssssshunday.”

And something inside me would tighten up. And something inside of me would want to cry, so I’d have to press my lips together really hard. And something inside of me would die a little bit.

Then, things got worse. Jay got his friends to mock me too at recess. They’d stand around me and say ‘s’ words, copying my voice, making their voices really high, laughing. They made fun of my last name, which was Barnard, and call me, “Carrie St. Bernard.”

It was pretty bad. Sometimes they’d pull at my jacket or my hair. Sometimes they’d monster hug me, which meant they’d try to squish me. The entire time they’d make fun of my voice, my s’s, me.

So, I stopped talking. I stopped raising my hand. I stopped answering questions.

I’d talk to my best friend Kathy Albertson and that was pretty much it. They had silenced me.

And I also tried to be invisible because I figured if they didn’t notice me then they couldn’t hurt me. I wanted more than anything to have invisibility be my super power. I would pray for it every night.

How I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's books
This is what I’d say

Pretty much all of first grade I didn’t talk. It was too scary to talk. I didn’t ever raise my hand even though I always knew the answers. And when I did talk I would try really hard to find words without ‘s’ sounds. (David Sedaris has a great essay about this. He did it, too). And the teacher thought there might be something wrong with me in a developmentally divergent and/or emotionally challenged way. And she told my mom. And I promised my mom I would talk more in second grade.

I spent the whole summer trying to learn how to talk better. I was home alone most of the time so I needed a model. You couldn’t hear people when you read books so I turned to the television.

We were super poor and we only got two channels – sometimes three.

One channel was soap operas and kissing, which was grosser than gross.

The other channel was mostly game shows, which was so tense. I had issues watching people almost win things and then not win things.

I was the least tough kid ever, basically.

This left one channel – PBS.

PBS is full of kids show, and back then it was also full of Muppets.

Yes, like the brilliant kid I was, I watched Sesame Street over and over to learn how to talk, so yes, I modeled my voice after Muppets, which pretty much explains my voice now.

Helpful Hint: It is not the best idea to model your voice after Elmo and Big Bird and Grover if you’re trying to fit in and not be bullied.

 Yes, I taught Carrie how to talk.

Obviously, Sesame Street did not fix my s’s, but it did tweak my accent AND make me sound like a Muppet, which means that in second grade people still made fun of my voice, but my teacher, Mrs. Snierson gave us a haiku assignment that I totally aced and she realized I was smart, and pretty much protected me all that year.

Say what?

Say “writing changed my life” is what.

How I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's booksHow I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's booksHow I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's books

I also learned that if you give your snacks away to the kids who never had enough money for snacks they would protect you, too.

And I also learned that if you asked people what was wrong when they cried, they’d protect you, too, once they were done crying.

And I also learned that Timmy Bourassa also liked smelly stickers, so I gave him some and then he protected me, too.

It was weird, but it was how I dealt. I coped by taking care of other people. I coped by buying protection with food and stickers.

The price of my protection?

  1. Empathy

  2. No lunches for me

  3. Smelly stickers

And things got better for a long time. People stood up for me when Jay was mean. Jay eventually became a kid named Chris. Both of them gave up when other people stepped in for me.

No.

I never stepped in for myself.

I didn’t know how.

Things were better though because my caring about other kids returned as they cared about me. ,

But then in seventh grade after years of speech classes that didn’t help my s sounds at all, one of my teachers made me stay during recess and said, “Carrie. You are never going to succeed because of your s’s. You’re a smart girl, but you’ll always be a loser if your voice sounds like that. “

He told me I had no hope.
He told me that there was no point in me trying or going to college or even finishing high school if I didn’t get those ‘s’ sounds fixed.
He told me I would never succeed.

I cried a lot in the hall and another teacher asked what happened. I still remember how red that other teacher’s face got when I told him.

I remember him hugging me while I sobbed.

I remember him storming into the first teacher’s room and yelling so loudly the whole school heard.

That teacher saved me. My mom saved me too.

She went to the school and complained. Nothing happened to the first teacher, but I knew my mom cared and that was important. But no matter what either my mom or my nice teacher, or any of my friends said, that first teacher’s words echoed in my head and in my soul for a super long time. They still echo there sometimes and I hear those words in that teacher’s voice, and Jay’s voice, and those recess boys’ voices, and sometimes I hear them in my voice and that’s when it hurts the most. It hurts the most when I, myself, am thinking:

I have no hope.
There is no point in me trying.
I will never succeed.
I am a loser. 

My books have made  New York Times bestseller lists and bestseller lists in France and I’m published in a bunch of countries and I get fan mail, but I still can hear those bullying words sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes.

And I realize I cringe every time someone makes fun of speech impediments on tv or movies or books.

And I realize that I still do what I did in second grade – I surround myself with people who protect me by making me feel better. If I’m really hurt, I’ll friends-lock blog about it and people are always so kind. That’s how I cope. But other people? They aren’t so lucky for a bunch of reasons.

Sometimes you are too hurt to help other people.

Sometimes sharing a lunch or a smelly sticker isn’t enough.

Sometimes the pain inside of you becomes so big that there is no way for you to help other people because your own heart has fractured so much.

Life advice, writing advice, dogs. Carrie Jones talks about bullying and how she survived it
Need series

So, thanks to all of you who have ever helped me through a bully experience. I hope you know how awesome you are.

WHAT I’VE TRIED TO DO

So, I can’t save anyone, really. All I can do is listen, give out smelly stickers, and share my own stories. Sometimes those stories are super fun and inspiring, like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS or THE SPY WHO PLAYED BASEBALL. 

Sometimes those stories? They are full of pain.

I’ve recently contributed to the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and Megan Kelley Hall and I co-edited another anthology, DEAR BULLY, which was an effort of writers, readers, bloggers and people to raise awareness about bullying. The money we raise from Dear Bully’s royalties continues each year to support programs meant to raise awareness about bullying and support those who have suffered. I am so grateful for that opportunity.

But it doesn’t feel like enough, you know? Nothing ever feels like enough.

If you’re a survivor of bullying, please know that you aren’t alone. Check out this website for some resources. And if you are a person who bullies? Try to get some help too. Your life can be so much better than it is now.  Let’s change our culture into something better.

 

carriejonesbooks.blog Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones

Writing News

The Class at the Writing Barn

The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

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Praise for Carrie Jones and Write. Submit. Support:

“Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

The Podcast

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE has a new episode about life tips, dog tips and writing advice tomorrow.

 

 

Book Expo America 

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1. From 11:30 to 12, I’ll be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball. If you’re going to be there, come hang out.

Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball
Moe Berg

Flying and Enhanced – the Young Adult Science Fiction Series

Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action School Library Journal

Sparty knows all about that. More info about FLYING is here and the rest of my books? Right here.

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