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

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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!

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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.

WSSTypeWriter-300x300

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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How To Survive When Your Skirt Falls Off In Front of the World

All of my friends know this story, but I think… Well, I want  you all to learn from my mistakes, so I’m telling it again.

Ready?

I am going to give a little word of advice to all writers going to Book Expo America (BEA) for the first time:

Ready?

Are you really ready?

carriejonesbooks.blog

Here is my big sentence of wisdom: WEAR A SKIRT THAT FITS!

Seriously. That is the take-away from this.

That isn’t just a word of advice for writers, but for everyone except nudists, really. If you’re going to a big, important event, make sure your skirt fits.

I know this from experience because when I first went to BEA my skirt fell off (YES! PAST MY KNEES!) when I got out of the taxi in front of a bunch of people queuing in a line for the taxi. I was feeling all cool and jaunty. I was in New York City and not Maine. There were people everywhere. I was there as an author. A real live author person and my publisher was actually spending money to have me be there.  I felt sort of posh.

I was so psyched.

I must never be so psyched.

Because I am not posh. I am not all cool nor am I jaunty. I am a woman who dresses up like a lobster in the Fourth of July parade.

Bar Harbor Fourth of july lobster parade
I have practice being embarrassed.

Also, I should never be let out of Maine because people in the real world of cities do things like: 

  1. Look posh
  2. Wear make-up on their face
  3. Actually purchase make-up
  4. Wear matching socks
  5. Do not have skirts that fall down

Yeah. Never let me out of the state because I do not fit in a the world where flannel and fleece and lobster costumes aren’t the go-to clothing choices.

 

Carrie Jones books Writing Tips
Stay focused!

Anyways, back to the story! I’m a writer! I should stay focused.

NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
So focused

Book Expo America is this HUGE industry event that authors really get psyched to have their editors/publishers/marketing team send them to. It’s this super big deal.

And this is where I had my skirt malfunction. There. At the super big deal place. The place full of people who are posh, make-up wearing, with clothes that fit. The place full of people who could make or break my career.

I stepped out of the cab. The cab driver was super nice because he wanted a tip. I talked to him a lot because he kept asking me questions about the memoir he was writing because all cab drivers are writing memoirs.

I stepped out of the cab.

That was a mistake.

My skirt abandoned me like a filthy butt-head. Or maybe she was shy? Maybe NYC was too much for her and she’d just given up? Who knows. All I know is she fell. She fell all the way down to my ankles.

My ankles!

Spoiler alert: I was not wearing tights.

Fortunately, there was no paparrazzi, and nobody pulled out their cells so my shame did not go viral. Instead, the people who totally noticed were my cab driver (His eyes got really big and he stopped asking me questions about how to get published) and a father with his eight-year-old son (WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!). The boy totally saw the whole thing. His mouth dropped open. He saw my underwear, seriously saw it. He was like five feet away. My bottom and his head were on the same level.

The same level!

*Hides head in shame*

This experience made me realize that I should not be let out of Maine. Obviously the people at Bloomsbury (my publisher) agreed with this since they did not send me to B.E.A. the next year.

carriejonesbooks.blog

So, anyway there I stood outside the taxi right in Broadway, right in front of the hotel trying to yank my skirt up while

a. Paying the taxi driver guy
b. Not falling down dead from mortification
c. Juggling three massive bags full of ARCS (That stands for advanced reader copies, non-writer people)
d. Realizing that hotel security cameras probably totally caught the skirt fall action.
e. Thanking God that I am not famous and therefore not worthy enough to have the skirt DISASTER image blasted all over the internet.

I bet you didn’t know that BEA stood for Behind Exposed to America.

NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
My life is embarrassing. It’s okay. The first step is awareness.

Well, when you are me it does.

So, please, authors, remember that if you will be carrying free books, that it may cause you to lose a few pounds, so wear a belt! Please…

But where is the motivation in all this, you might wonder? This is supposed to be a Monday Motivation post.

It’s this – I survived.

Seriously.

Yes, I may have scarred that poor child and the taxi driver, but I went on and survived and nothing went viral and people still bought my books. And I got a story that I can laugh at a lot when – you know – I’m not crying.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Totally judging you, human.

That’s what matters. Cats know that. They fall off the counter? They bounce back up, shake it off, and glare at anyone who dares laugh at them. Cats are resilient. We should be more like that.

But also, we should make sure our skirts don’t fall down.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
Look, they made a pull quote!
Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones Time Stoppers, Book 2, Quest for the Golden Arrow, middle grade fantasy based in Maine
Look! They made another pull quote.

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.

Dogs in Wigs.

I saw a dog with fake hair on the Cute-internet today, and I have to say that it’s terribly depressing that dogs are wearing people wigs.

I mean, dogs have fur! They have fur! But they are covering up their beautiful natural fur-i-tude with fake people hair. Isn’t there something wrong about this? I mean, yes, she is cute….

but seriously. Shouldn’t she be happy with who she is as a dog? Shouldn’t she embrace her fine doggy self instead of walking over to the side of salon visits, guava conditioners, and dolphin-decal manicures?

And sometimes… sometimes… the wig goes horribly wrong…

My Post-6 copy 2

Okay. Human readers you can stop listening now. We have a message from Gabby the Dog

ATTENTION ALL CANINES!!!!

It is okay to embrace your doggy self. If that means running around in mud flats and drooling. It’s okay.

Rolling around in dead skunk? Okay.

Eating split pea soup and then kissing everyone? Okay

And, yes, if it means wearing a wig, even a Hannah Montana wig, that’s okay, too, but remember the cats are watching, and they are snickering.

(What me snicker? I am a cat. I blog about it…. and only then I snicker.)

So, your Marise the Cat Monday motivation is this people: 

Live big. Wear wigs. Don’t wear wigs. Embrace your inner dog or your inner weird. Don’t let other people trample down your quirky with their disdain. Disdain? Judgement? Raised eyebrow looks at your awesome bewigged dogs?

That’s what’s boring.

Cats know.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things Since I Need To Make Money to Survive

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that will come out Tuesday. That’s tomorrow! If you subscribe, you will never ever miss one.

To be fair, Shaun and I are more like um… these guys… that pro podcast people. Just keeping it real because it’s impossible for us not to.

And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

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.

If you feel like buying it, that would be so amazing? And if you review it? Even better! Well, maybe not better, but also super kind of you. No pressure though!

 

Going After Your Dreams

Do you all remember when Susan Boyle, 47, British, showed up on that television show, which I think is like American Idol, sort of. I’m not sure. Britain’s Got Talent? Maybe that was it? She sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical Les Mis.

Anyway, people expected her to suck, mostly because she did some unexpected movement with her hips before she sang and because she was not super model beautiful. She said she’s always wanted to be a professional singer, to sing in front of a super big audience. People snickered.

Then she sang.

She did not suck.

People cried.

And I totally wanted to be her. I wanted to be the one singing and making people gasp and cry and stand on their knees all because of my voice.

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Marsie the Cat: Humans, you all doubt yourself too much or else you are ridiculously arrogant. Why is there no middle ground? Let me claw your leg into submission.

Singing like Susan? That’s not a dream I’ll ever get.

First off, I was never even in show choir. And I have never auditioned for The Voice or American Idol.

But I was in this song and dance company.

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We wore costumes like this. *hides head in shame*

But let me say: I was paid.

So, I think this counts as being a professional singer, right?  *clears throat* Of course, we played places like Chuck E’ Cheeses or the Masonic temple in Manchester, NH.

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I am happy to say no pizza was thrown on me during the Chuck E’ Cheese performance.

Sarah Silverman, actress, comic, was also in the group. So was Bridget Walsh, the third national-touring ANNIE! I was totally out classed. I never had one of those big show-stopping solos.

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I also never got to perform with a dog. ;(

I don’t think I ever will. I kind of gave up on that dream. But I never gave up on the dream of writing. I am still working on that one.

I want to write in a way that people sing. I want people to gasp and feel and laugh and be on that journey with me, because of my words. And yes, even though some of my books have been bestsellers, I live in constant fear of never being traditionally published again. I live in constant fear that I’m not good enough.

And my other dream? I’d like to somehow feel like I’ve made a difference in the world. I’m not sure it’s possible for me to even feel that way when humanity has so much pain and needs so much. Anything I do is never going to feel like it’s enough.

Lots of times I feel like my dreams impossible. I keep plugging along though. Because if there is one thing I know? It’s that my dream is definitely impossible if I don’t try.

Do you have dreams? Are you still going for them? Are you feeling unmotivated? If so check out that old video because Susan didn’t give up on her dream and for a few minutes her voice was all that mattered.

Remember, your voice matters, too.

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new episode tomorrow, Tuesday. Check it out.

My Post-2 copy

This is my middle grade series, TIME STOPPERS. I love this series. Allegedly it’s like HARRY POTTER meets PERCY JACKSON but with even more heart? Weird, but I’ll take it. It’s the story I wrote a long time ago. It’s the story that I submitted when I applied to Vermont College.  More about it is here.
I owe it.
I owe it a lot.
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Surviving a MFA Program? You can do it even if you’re a scared wimp like me. I swear.

If you guys don’t know there is a smattering of master’s program specifically for writing for children. This is a very cool thing. I went to Vermont College of Fine Arts. V.C.F.A offers a master’s in writing for children and young adults.

What was it like?

Um…. It was great. No plots were stolen.

My Post-5 copy 3

But when I first got there it was a little scary.

You know how when you go into the cafeteria and realize that you know absolutely nobody. No, seriously, and everyone else looks like they know everybody else and so you just stand there with your tray… wondering how you can go into the kitchen and eat with the cooks because they seem really nice… the cooks. Not the students.

That’s what it was like.

And then you meet all the other people in your class and it feels like everyone is SOOOOOOOOO much cooler than you are and they all sort of have roles and personas already.

There’s HE WHO WRITES SEX SCENES and SHE OF THE PEACEFUL POETRY and MAGICAL URBAN FANTASY WOMAN and PICTURE BOOK GURU and I AM FLUFFY and then of course, THE ONE OTHER MAN WHO MIGHT BE CREEPY. This is a children’s writer’s program after all. So, most of the amazing writers will be women.

Anyway, I felt like I didn’t fit in because everyone else was so cool, and here I was a newspaper editor, a woman with a voice like a muppet, a girl from poor, a person who had been sleeping in her car two years ago, a person who had seizures and cognitive degeneration from those seizures.

And I was supposed to hang out with these brilliant people?

And basically I almost had the biggest case of imposter syndrome ever and a complete  breakdown the first residency until Lisa Jahn Clough talked me down and said, “Carrie, writers never feel like they fit in. That’s why we’re writers.”

And I said, “But I’m from Maine. I’m not used to all these people talking everywhere about writing. Actually, I’m not used to people, which is part of why I wear a parka inside buildings at all times.”


And she said, “I know. I’m from Maine too, but it’s good. Really. It’s sometimes overwhelming, but it’s good. And parkas are fine.”

“How about cardigans? And sweaters?” I asked. “I gave birth to my daughter during a July heatwave and I wore a sweater.”

“Carrie, you can wear anything or nothing and still be a writer,” she said.

And it turned out she was right.

www.carriejonesbooks.blog
Marsie: None of us could believe it either.

I stuck it out and after a year a story I wrote during National Novel Writing Month was picked up off an editor’s slush pile. More on that is here.

The thing is: Everyone in my class at Vermont helped each other and HE WHO WRITES SEX SCENES eventually WROTE PEACEFUL POETRY occasionally, and MAGICAL URBAN FANTASY WOMAN wrote an occasional picture book, and everyone in my class just basically loved each other, creating a happy ending much better than any 1980s teen movie and we eventually all crunched up together and looked all emotional and dramatic but right together.

And I kind of miss it because as Molly Ringwald (1980s actress always wearing pink or black) said in the movie, Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, “Us loners got to stick together.”

And you know, writers wrote that line. And they also wrote that movie. Which is why we all need to support each other because sometimes… well… we writers stink.

We do not have to support each other when we are creepy, however, or when we are being cruel to other groups (bloggers, librarians, races, religions, genders, identities, different physical and mental abilities), but it’s nice to support each other when we feel sad or bad or when we feel like we can’t be a writer at all.

Anyway, I really miss learning about craft and becoming an exponentially better writer because of amazing writer/teachers/fellow students.

And I really miss throwing cookies at people in the cafeteria and then looking all happy-faced.

Us loners got to stick together, baby, and that counts for writers and readers both, and writing programs give us writers a place to do it. So congratulations to all my friends who are starting programs, and to all my friends who aren’t. Because, basically, we all have our own paths and they are all cool.

Well, almost all of them are cool.

Remember opening spaces for people who might not have entrance into those spaces historically is the coolest thing of all.

So, let that be your motivation! In life and in writing you don’t have to be the culturally created ‘norm’ to be awesome. You go out there and tell your story and live your truth no matter how much you don’t feel like you fit in or how much you feel like you do fit in.

That doesn’t matter.

You.

You are what matters.

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new episode Tuesday. Check it out.

My Post-2 copy

I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image
 
And finally, this is my middle grade series, TIME STOPPERS. I love this series. Allegedly it’s like HARRY POTTER meets PERCY JACKSON but with even more heart? Weird, but I’ll take it. It’s the story I wrote a long time ago. It’s the story that I submitted when I applied to Vermont College.  More about it is here.
I owe it.
I owe it a lot.

 

Local Author Gets Kicked Out of Coffee Shop

RANDOM PLACE, MAINE — Local author Carrie Jones was kicked out of the town’s one and only coffee shop today when she ordered a decaffeinated tea rather than a super mocha ultra caffinated coffee thingy.

“Can you believe it?” asked shop owner, Leslie LongIhavewrittenstoryaboutloveandsexinthesuburbs. “Everyone knows you can NOT be an author without coffee. It’s like being a Disney star without having big bright shiny teeth and an occasional sordid scandal. I mean, come on. . . Hello? Green tea?”

Ms. Jones was promptly booted to the street. She took her laptop with her and was seen hunkering down in a bush near a window of the establishment.

“I can still get wi-fi here.” She sniffed. “Thank God.”

Her agent then called on her cell phone and told her not to comment. In a written statement from her agency, Ms. Jones’ agent expressed her assuredness that Ms. Jones can indeed be an author who does not drink coffee.

“No, she is not a Mormon,” she said. “And she’s not all straight-edged. Or pregnant. She can’t have much caffeine because it gives her seizures. Yes, I swear, she is still an author. Really. An author. ”

The one-star-reviewer IHATECARRIEJONES on Good Reads obviously disagreed.

“Real authors are caffeinated. Or at least drunk,” he wrote. “She is dead to me.”

Leslie also disagreed. “She’s a poser. I don’t care how many books she’s published. Her last book was a picture book biography. That doesn’t even count.”

Jones vowed never to leave the house again.

“Or, I’m going to pretend to drink coffee. I’ll like get coffee scented tea or something. There’s got to be a way to fight this,” she said, pretending that she wasn’t crying, you’re crying, while wiping tears from her face.

www.carriejonesbooks.blog

Marsie the Cat’s Monday Motivation

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Look. Be you. Don’t let any haters tell you that you stink. You don’t. They do. People who yank each other down aren’t worth your time. Any cat knows that. You need to know it, too.

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image
 

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is still real. I’m still terrified.

My Post-2 copy

There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.

We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog.

 

Five Things To Do When You Are Stuck As A Writer

 

A long time ago, I had to write the NEED sequel, CAPTIVATE, on deadline and I was pretty terrified the entire time. I knew I had to get it done but I was full of doubts the entire time. So much doubt.

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And when I finally turned it in, I was still terrified and stuck.

Is there a phobia name for FEAR YOUR EDITOR WILL SCREAM THAT YOU STINK AND RETROACTIVELY PULL ALL YOUR BOOKS FROM THE SHELVES BECAUSE YOUR SEQUEL IS REALLY JUST THAT BAD?

There should be.

Maybe we should just make a list of writer phobias. But anyway, that time really made me think a lot about what makes me feel stuck and how I will possibly do anything in the world to avoid that feeling. This is what I’ve learned.

So here is my:

Five Things To Do When You Are Stuck As A Writer

KILL YOUR INTERNAL EDITOR

With my students, I talk a lot about how there are these internal critics or editors inside our heads, and this critic basically tells us everything that we could do wrong, all the ways we can fail, all the ways we might suck.

And it tells it to us with authority. A lot of authority.

Mine basically is John Wayne. He’s always squinting at me and telling me how much I fail. This voice? It’s a strong voice, but it’s full of lies. And when we listen to it too much, we get stuck. We can’t write our story. We can’t live our life, because that voice is so strong in our head telling us how much we fail.

So how do you fight that?

I imagine an internal cheerleader. Mine is – cough – Grover, the Muppet from Sesame Street. Every time my inner critic derides me, Grover counterbalances it.

My Post-4 copy

Like today, inner critic said, “The circulation librarian can never remember your last name even though you live in a tiny town and she hates you because you are stupid.”

And Grover was like, “You aren’t stupid, Carrie! Your IQ is actually high. Remember you got it tested?”

It’s good to fight your inner critic with facts when you have them.

With writing, it’s more like:

Inner Critic John Wayne, “Dear god, little missy. Why would you possibly try to write a time travel story? Stick to your little pixie books.”

Grover the Awesome Inner Cheerleader would say, “Do not listen to him, Cawwie. He thought writing about pixies was a terrible idea, too! He thinks everything is terrible.”

Don’t let your doubt stop you from writing. Just bundle up and do it.

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THINK ABOUT WHY YOU ARE WRITING THE STORY YOU ARE WRITING

If you are writing a nonfiction book about the history of guinea pigs in North America and you don’t actually care about guinea pigs in North America? Well, yeah, you’re going to probably get stuck.

Ask yourself:

What books do you love? 

What stories make you happy?

Write that kind of story. To heck with the guinea pigs. 

My Post-3

DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE

Sometimes, when writers are stuck, it’s because we’ve been sitting too long and focused on our story. Our mind is giving us a hint that we actually are not cats and we need to move.

So, I clean something when I am vaguely stuck. I think of it as a sign that my subconscious is giving me that if I sit at the laptop any longer, I will turn to salt.

When you step away, you give yourself space to grow and move. When you step away, you give yourself some space and your story some space to percolate.

LOOK AT WHAT YOU HAVE DONE AND TAKE STOCK OF YOUR GOALS

Sometimes (cough – all the time) I feel like I’m not getting anything accomplished or a lot of my students feel like writing an entire novel is too huge a goal.

So, what I do is I set small incremental goals. If a story feels stuck, I tell myself to write 250 words four times a day to make a 1,000 word-count for the day. I also write the starting number of my word count and mark it off in 250-word increments as I go along. This helps make me realize that:

  1. I am writing
  2. I am not really as stuck as I thought.
  3. Makes the writing feel really manageable.
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This is seriously what I do. It helps. 250-word increments on top. Day totals on bottom.

TRY WRITING SOMETHING DIFFERENT

I know! I know! All the writing advice people tell you to stick to your story. Don’t ever give up on your story. They say, “you will never get a book done if you don’t do the following things:”

  1. Write one book at a time.
  2. Write one book until it’s done.

That’s crap, honestly. Sorry for my language, but it’s just not true. Yes, there are people who will hop from project to project and in 20 years never finish a story. But whatever. Those people are rare. They are even more rare when it comes to people who want to be published. Everyone knows that to get a novel published, you have to write an entire story. That ‘write one book until it’s done’ edict irritates me. A lot.

My Post-4 copy 2

Here’s the truth: 

  1. You can work on as many projects as your brain can handle.
  2. You can put down a story that you are working on and finish it years later when you are ready.

But the biggest truth is this: 

There is no one way to be a writer. There is no one process that will always work for you or for everyone. Part of the adventure is finding things that work, triumphing in the moments when you stop being stuck.

Let’s say you’re reading this and you aren’t an author. How does this work for you as a non writing person who feels stuck in their life?

It’s like this: 

  1. There is no one way to succeed, no one path. If you feel stuck, try something else.
  2. If you hate everything in your life, try to remember something you once loved. Do that again.
  3. Be proud of the things you’ve done and make small goals. Reward yourself for forward motion – any forward motion.
  4. Simplify and organize your life. Press pause with intention. If you feel stuck, organize your thoughts, your desk, your kitchen, your closet. Getting rid of the clutter can help you understand what you need to do to move forward.
  5. Don’t fill yourself with negative thoughts if you can help it. Sometimes we can’t, honestly. But every time that inner critic berates you, consciously work to counter it with something positive.

When my dog Scotty couldn’t open the door by hitting the bottom of it over and over again with his paw, he didn’t give up. He came and got me to open the door for him. When that didn’t work because I was kneading dough and didn’t want to stop, you know what he did? He grabbed the doorknob in his mouth and turned. I’ve never seen anything like it. But the thing isn’t how awesome he was. The thing is that he found a way to succeed. He tried a new way.

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When Sparty feels sad because it’s raining too hard to take a walk, he will go cuddle up with a stuffed animal. He finds something else he loves to make him feel less stuck.

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We can learn a lot from dogs.

 

Random Marketing and Book Things

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m still super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

Kirkus Review says:  Jones gives readers the sketchy details of Berg’s life and exploits in carefully selected anecdotes, employing accessible, straightforward syntax.

And also says: A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

Booklist says it’s: An appealing picture-book biography. . . Written in concise sentences, the narrative moves along at a steady pace.  

This is lovely of them to say.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll be in Exeter, New Hampshire, on a panel for the release of THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID.

Thursday, March 15, 2018 – 7:00pm
 
Water Street Bookstore
125 Water Street
Exeter, NH 03833
Things We Haven't Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out Cover Image

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is still real. I’m still terrified.

My Post-2 copy

There are new podcasts every Tuesday and our handle on the tech gets better as you go along. I promise.

We talk about love, marriage, living in Maine with dogs and also give writing and life tips with linked content back on the blog. It’s um – cough – different.