Zoombombing, Tiger King, Kittens in Heat – Is Your Family Driving You Mad During Lockdown? This might be why

Zoombombing, Tiger King, Kittens in Heat – Is Your Family Driving You Mad During Lockdown? This might be why

 
 
00:00 / 00:28:44
 
1X
 

Now that we’re all home and living with our significant others because of CoVid-19 aka the coronavirus from Hell, it’s making some of go a little… Well, a little crazy. Why is this? Here we are housebound with the people we love with all our hearts and suddenly just listening to them breathe is making us want to throw knives when we really should just be so thankful that we’re not sick.

Are you feeling this way and freaking out about it? 

Well, you are not alone. Not only is Covid messing with our anxieties, our livelihoods, our health and sending some of us into spirals of depression and grief, it’s also changing our routines and schedules and patterns and that can make us feel kind of vulnerable and off kilter. 

This is where attachment styles come in. In her essay “Coping With an Insecure Attachment Style” on VeryWellMind on carriejonesbooks.blog, Marni Feuerman talks about how our attachment styles can be either secure or insecure and how they arise from our childhood. 

She writes,

“A secure style comes from consistency, reliability, and safety in one’s childhood. As an adult, those with a secure attachment style can reflect back on their childhood and see both the good and the bad that occurred, but in the proper perspective. Overall, they generally feel that someone reliable was always available to them in their formative years. In adulthood, they enjoy close, intimate relationships and do not fear taking risks in love.”

Feuerman

Who are these magical, well-balanced people? They are the ones who are chill and not freaking out about how their significant other is loading the dishwasher, that’s who they are. 

The rest of us have three insecure attachment patterns, she explains, and those are avoidant, ambivalent, and disorganized.

THE THREE INSECURE ATTACHMENT PATTERNS

“Avoidant: Avoidant people have a dismissive attitude. They shun intimacy and have many difficulties reaching for others in times of need.

Ambivalent: Those with an ambivalent pattern are often anxious and preoccupied. These people may be viewed as “clingy” or “needy,” often requiring much validation and reassurance.

Disorganized: The disorganized pattern is often the product of trauma or extreme inconsistency in one’s childhood. Disorganized attachment is not a mixture of avoidant and ambivalent attachments—it is a far more serious state where a person has no real coping strategies and is unable to deal with the world.”

Feuerman again

I am ambivalent AF.  Gabby, our dog, is also ambivalent.

What do attachment styles have to do with writing?

Well, when you’re writing about relationships in a dystopian novel or apocalypse, you want to account for those different types of personalities and levels of attachment.

Is your character secure or insecure? What type of insecure?

Knowing that and their background can help you flesh them out and make each character not a carbon copy of you or of your other characters. 

What does this have to do with life?

Well, I think you all know. It’s time to buck up and do the work while we’re social distancing to make sure that we can evolve to the best people we can be and not scream at our loved ones and not repeat bad behaviors. We can’t all afford psychotherapy and we can’t even go see a therapist right now, but a good thing to keep in mind is what Feuerman says,

“To earn security, you have to develop a coherent narrative about what happened to you as a child. You also need to explore the impact it has had on the decisions you may unconsciously have made about how to survive in the world. You have to think critically about how your upbringing affected your attachment style, and work on breaking those patterns.”

Feuerman

That’s hard work, but it’s worth it. Nobody wants a criminal record or to go to jail during a pandemic. You’ve got this. Don’t have Joe Exotic be your end story.

Writing Tip of the Pod 

Think about your main character. Are they secure? Insecure? Why? 

Dog Tip for Life

You’ve got to create a narrative that will help you be the best dog owner you can be. Dogs do this all the time. We’re hurt, abandoned, rescued and we create whole new joyous lives. You can too. Bacon helps. 

Writing Exercise of the Pod

Think about your best friend’s mom. Think about your best friend. What is their narrative? Write it. 

In our random thought (which you hear in the podcast) we talk about:

  1. Tiger King
  2. Zoombombing
  3. Kittens in heat

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

Last week’s episode’s link.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Last week’s episode link. 

This week’s episode link.

NEWS

Over 180,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them.

NEW PODCAST INTERVIEW EPISODES!

Starting this Thursday we’re sharing bonus interview podcasts with cool people who exist. Check it out and critique Carrie’s interviewing skills.


WRITING NEWS! 

The Writing Course of Awesome

It’s our very own writing course! 

Basically, it’s set up a bit like a distance MFA program, only it costs a lot less and also has a big element of writer support built in. This program costs $125 a month and runs for four-month sessions and starts in April 2020 

To find out more, check out this link. It’s only $125 a month, so it’s a super good deal. Come write with us!


NEW BOOK OF AWESOME

I have a new book out!!!!!! It’s an adult mystery set in the town where we live, which is Bar Harbor, Maine. You can order it here. And you totally should. 

THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

Continue reading “Zoombombing, Tiger King, Kittens in Heat – Is Your Family Driving You Mad During Lockdown? This might be why”
Advertisements

The Places We Hide – an Excerpt

Hey, everyone! I realized that I never do book excerpts on here. I know! I know, right? What kind of author am I? Apparently, I am an author who fails to market.

But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂

The Places We Hide

Chapter One

Hiding women are so similar; most of us are pretending that we aren’t hiding at all and we all seem to do it – the hiding – right out in the open. 

The sky looms over the tops of the little colonials and Victorian houses that line lower Ledgelawn Avenue. The air breathes across the neighborhood like some sort of cold soldier, waiting for things to happen. 

I haul in a bag of pellets off the front porch and into our living room and call for Lilly to hurry up before I open the heavy drapes by the loveseat window. I’m trying to make the room a tiny bit brighter, which is a losing battle, especially given the deep, gray color of the coastal Maine sky. 

            Winter will be fine this year. 

            I tell myself these sort of lies all the time. I tell myself that it is totally healthy to binge on Doritos after a meeting or that other mothers also hate quinoa. I tell myself that our lives are safe and good now. Safe and good. I tell myself that we won’t be found.

            If I was a drinking kind of person, I would be tempted to pour myself some wine, but instead, I just settle into the couch and wait for Lilly to come downstairs. There’s a copy of Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine on the round, farmhouse-industrial coffee table in front of me. It was on sale. Everything I buy is on sale. 

            It’s been over a year though; we’re safe. 

            When I pick up the book, the first page mentions rape. I put the book down and stare at it. Then I turn it over so I don’t have to see the blue cover and the woman’s face up in the sky or the words ‘triumphant national bestseller,’ even though I know those words probably mean that it has a happy ending. Right? 

            Books tend to be liars. 

            No. No, that doesn’t have to be true. For months, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t need to worry about things anymore. Lilly and I have made a life for ourselves. The threat of snowflakes doesn’t change that, doesn’t take away the safety and life that I’ve built. Still, the memories of another winter, a specific winter day, come blizzarding back to me. The screams that I didn’t realize were my own. Lilly in my arms, gasping for breath. Escaping out the window onto the porch roof. Convincing Lilly to jump into a neighbor’s arms. The house on fire behind us. 

            I pick up the book again. Winter will be over eventually. It’s only just starting. Obviously, I need to get used to it – to the short days and cold, the way the memories keep flooding back no matter how hard I try to push them down. 

            “Mommy! I’m ready!” 

            The happy noise of Lilly’s feet tap lightly down the dark-stained tops of the wooden stairs that we just re-stained last week. We painted the baseboards white, hiding the scuff marks of past owners. Moving on, starting over, everyone does it, just not quite so dramatically as we did.

            “Hey there, cutie face,” I say as she rockets over to the couch wearing a glittery rainbow ballerina tutu over her unicorn leggings. She has her favorite pink wool giraffe sweater on and layered over that are the gold fairy wings that I bought her for her Halloween costume. She was a ballerina-fairy-kitty, a Lilly original. Today though, she’s topped her ensemble with a cowboy hat. “You look stylish.”

            She beams. “Do I have to wear a coat?”

            “Yes.”

            “But my fairy wings.” She points at them sticking out behind her. 

            “Need to come off in the car anyways.” I’m bringing her to a play date even though I still worry about not being with her 100 percent of the time. I push the unhealthy anxiety into my shoulder muscles.

            Batting her eyelids, she leans forward. “Mommy. . .”

            “They’ll be crushed. No self-respecting cowboy-ballerina-fairy wants crushed wings, right?”

            “True that,” she says with the fierceness of a fashionista and slings off the wings. She pulls a piece of toast out from the folds of her costume. “My bread is boring.” 

            “Did you put butter on it?” I ask. 

            “No. That would stain my costume.”

            “Not if you don’t put your snack in your costume, silly,” I say, standing up and tweaking her nose. 

Taking her bread, I head to the kitchen and apply some butter pretty liberally. I know that the good mom handbook is against fat in children’s diets and also against excess sugar, but I’m sure that I’ve been not following the handbook for a while now. Relocating your daughter, giving yourself a new name and identity, probably doesn’t fit in with the perceptions of good mom either. 

            “Baby, come in here and eat your bread at the counter,” I call. 

She skips into the kitchen and comes up to the little island/counter that separates the kitchen from our small dining area, which barely fits the table and bookcase that I’d put in it. The table came from Goodwill and had a million marks and scuffs on the wood, but I’d bought some ModPodge, fancy paper, and sponge applicators and made it prettier. It was good enough for us for now. And that is all that matters. Us. 

            Sighing, I head to the addition where the door to the basement, bathroom, and laundry are. I check the door to the little back deck and stare out at the fenced-in yard overlooking a short border of trees and then the town’s ballfield. Everything is secure. I let myself exhale for a second and lean against the big window, putting my forehead against the cold windowpane. I try so hard not to live in fear, to not be paranoid, and I usually think I’m successful, but then it’s habits like these that make me realize that I’m just fooling myself and that underneath the surface of everything is a constant fear made real by routines like this – double checking doors, first-floor windows, always knowing two escape routes from every room that we’re in. 

            Lilly comes in and grabs my hand. “You ready, Mommy?”

            I am. I have to go take photos for the paper and she’s heading to her favorite friend’s house. The beautiful thing about Bar Harbor, Maine compared to Colorado is how quickly the families accepted us and took care of us. Everyone is constantly having playdates and book clubs and gatherings. Allegedly, it’s because in the summer everyone is so overwhelmed by the tourists and then in the winter everyone is so overwhelmed by the nothingness and white grays of winter that they have to gather together in warm places to remind themselves that there is light in the grayness and cold that is the winter world. 

            When we head back to the kitchen, it’s obvious that Lilly has devoured almost all of her bread and has half demolished an apple. 

“You thirsty?” I ask, opening the refrigerator.

            “No.”

            “Want some milk?” I wave the jug in front of her face. It’s one of our running gags because she hates it so much and I always pretend to forget that she hates it so much. 

            She makes a barfing noise while I mock surprise and gulp some milk out of the jug myself. 

            “That’s rude, Mommy.” She crosses her arms over her chest.

            “I am a terrible, terrible human being and should go to prison right this second for such a serious offense.”

            She just sticks her tongue out at me. I put the lid back on the milk and pull out an apple, which I toss to her. She catches it in one hand. 

            “Just in case you get hungry later.” I put the milk back in the refrigerator, inhale through my nose, which is supposed to help with anxiety and fear of it away. I’ve got to tell you though; it’s hard to fear anxiety when it lives inside you like a constant friend. You get used to it hanging around.

            “They always feed me at Michelle’s,” Lilly says, studying the apple. 

            I hug her. “It’s just me trying to take care of you.”

            “You’re such a mommy.” She hugs me back. 

We put on winter jackets, hats, mittens and I resist the urge to recheck the back door and we go. I grab my camera bag and lock the front door behind us. Lilly skips down the sidewalk chanting, “Snow day. Snow day. Snow day.”

            She scurries into our MINI Cooper the moment I hit the fob that unlocks the car. The afternoon air is brisk. We’ve survived many Colorado mountain winters so I doubt a winter on Maine’s coast is going to be a big deal. The ocean makes the island we live on warmer. The snow doesn’t get too deep – not compared to where we were before. 

            Walter Hildebrand, one of those cops that are more a stereotype than they should be thanks to his massive girth and love of donuts, honks the horn at us. It’s a cheerful honk and not what you expect from a patrol car. 

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” he yells out his window, which he’s already rolling up again before we can respond.

            It’s getting closer to Christmas. I’m secretly excited about our first Christmas alone, but also worried because the gifts aren’t going to be nearly as fancy or expensive as the gifts Lilly is used to. She wants a certain doll that costs so much money that I’ve complained about it to everyone I meet. The other big thing she wants is a Lego set that is legitimately the same amount as one week of my small reporter’s salary. And a dog. I grew up poor, lower middle class, but until now Lilly has grown up rich – scared, but rich. Things are drastically different.

            “Buckle up, baby,” I say as she straps herself in. 

            “You don’t have to remind me, Mommy.” She cocks her head in a sort of arrogant way. “I’m a big girl.” 

            “I know.”

            “And I’m very responsible.”

            “I know.”

            I scruff her hair. She smiles at me. And looking over my shoulder, I back out of the driveway onto Ledgelawn. There’s a massive tree in between my house and the neighbor’s house and it makes me nervous whenever I leave. Down the street, Sarah Lowell is walking her big old pittie, heading in the opposite direction from us. Directly across the street, Karol Baker, lifts up his hand in a wave. I toot the horn in reply and Lilly waves enthusiastically at Karol. She loves him because he has a yellow lab that he always lets her pet. 

            “I like this town,” she announces as we drive to her play date. 

Continue reading “The Places We Hide – an Excerpt”

Writing and bias and viruses and you

I am white. 

I am actually pretty damn white like so white that you don’t want to look at me in the winter because — well, all that pale — it hurts your eyes. Like snow in sunlight or sparkly vampires.

When I was little, I lived in NH. NH’s big cultural diversity at the time was:

1. Some Greek people
2. Some Portuguese people
3. French-speaking people originally from Canada
4. A handful of Jewish people.

One of the big insults someone once spat at me that didn’t have to do with my sloshy s-sounds was that I had “Jewish hair.”  I’m still trying to figure that one out. Our school had constant diversity and tolerance trainings despite the fact that it was so incredibly white. It was a public school because I was poor, but it was really into anti-bullying, pro-diversity education.

But that doesn’t mean that I never saw racism. That doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. 

When I was a little kid I would go everywhere with one of my dads who I loved more than anyone in the entire universe. He was Portuguese. He normally had dark skin but he worked outside and he tanned so deeply that sometimes people thought he was African American. How do I know this? 

I know this because one time we went fishing at one of the many N.H. fishing streams. We were always fishing. I put ham and cheese on my hook because I couldn’t handle piercing the worms. I was kind of a wimp, but my dad didn’t mind. He was made of awesome. He didn’t mind that I never caught anything either. Or that I sometimes cried when he did because I felt so bad for the fish.

We were standing there, happy and quiet. No dead fish involved yet. The sun was making golden shadow-light on the water. I could smell the good-good smell of my dad – old spice, coffee with sugar, fried potatoes. Then some other men came. They saw my dad. They saw me. They saw the difference in our skin. 

And they said something. 

And they used the n-word. 

And they said a white girl like me shouldn’t be standing there with a dirty n-word like my dad. 

And they stood tall. 
And they made fists.
And we left.

And I cried in the truck and I couldn’t understand why people could be so mean. 

And I was so upset for my dad. And one of the things I said when I was sobbing was that he wasn’t black.

And he grabbed my chin and made me look in his eyes. And he said, “Carrie, that’s not what matters. What I am or am not is not what matters. What matters is the hate and the ignorance.”

And he was right. 

I’d like to say that was the only time something like that happened but it wasn’t. While he was alive, it happened a lot.

I will never be mistaken for anything but a white woman of mostly Anglo-Saxon descent. I do have ancestors who are not, but that’s it.  I present and was raised as a white girl. That’s part of my identity. I will never know what it’s like for someone to make a massive litany of negative assumptions about me because of the darker color of my skin. Some day I hope that will be true for every damn person in this country and this hemisphere and this world.

The one thing I know is that racism (or sexism or classism or religious bias) does not get eradicated by:


1. Pretending it doesn’t exist
2. Telling other people to shut up about it

That’s how it’s perpetuated. Yeah, the talk may not be comfortable. But the talk HAS to happen. When President Obama won the election someone hung black effigies in trees in Bar Harbor, Maine. Bar Harbor is very white and very liberal. It’s full of scientists and professors and lobstermen and health-care workers and born-again hippies.

But it still happened. 

It happened here.

And it keeps happening in other places. It’s happening a lot because of CoVid-19 right now. It happens in our story lines. It happens in our lives and we have a responsibility to talk about it, to face our own actions, to face our friends’ actions. We have a responsibility to SPEAK and to READ and to WRITE about it even when there are trolls out there who tell us not to, even when we’re afraid of our responsibility.

God, how can we not? 

And also in times of pandemics, scapegoating races or countries or people isn’t the way to go. When you think back on this time, don’t you want to think of how you acted with grace and not ignorance. Don’t horde your biases like toilet paper. We can all become better together. I know I have a long way to go, but I’m going to keep on trying. I hope you will, too.


WRITING TIP FOR THE WEEK: 

Imagine your main character is in a Nashville bar the night before the world ends. What music is playing? What does it smell like? How is your character reacting? 

Continue reading “Writing and bias and viruses and you”

The Inspiration Behind My Book & What I Learned About Myself Publishing It

I learned a lot about who I was when I wrote this book. I’m not talking about who people think I am, but the actual me.

That’s because I did this book all by myself. I never do things all by myself especially not books. I write them. I have a team at publishing houses who tweak and market and create covers.

Not this time. This time I didn’t even show the story to anyone else. Not my agent. Not an editor. It was all me on my own.

And I learned that this is scary because there is nobody else to take responsibility if things go wrong.

And I learned I liked that.

What Inspired Me To Write It?

I wanted to step outside my own walls and do something that felt scary and vulnerable. This book felt scary and vulnerable. Why? Well, here is why.

Bad Guys Built on Real People

You know how sometimes people seem to be super nice and friendly and lovely. But then you see the mask drop? All of a sudden something shifts in their eyes and you think, “Holy crud muffins. This person could be a serial killer!”

There is a person in my town like that.

Actually, there are a couple of people in my town like that. When their mask drops and you see their true self, it makes you gasp.

The bad guys in this story are some of those people significantly tweaked and mashed-up together to create characters that are real, vibrant, and creepy.

Wanting to Mix Genres

When I wrote THE PLACES WE HIDE, I wanted to have some of the standard conventions of romance and thrillers, but give it that first-person-raw feel.

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

Wanting to Write Good Women Based On Real People

I also based a lot of the women in my story on women like me and my friends – quirky, struggling, real, persistent.

I wanted Rosie and her friends to feel like the moms you actually meet in coastal Maine.

Romance NEEDS

I like love. I like it when people find each other. What can I say?

I wanted to write a story like that.

High Stakes

I can’t help myself. If I’m not writing literary fiction, I tend to write about alien invasions and pixie apocalypses. I wanted to challenge myself to write a realistic story with truly high stakes.

What I Learned

I love writing kids books, but this was so much fun. And it was also really fun to step outside of traditional publishing, which I also love, and do it all myself. It helps me understand what my clients and author-friends who choose self-publishing go through. There’s so much responsibility and control that happens. It’s really a great adventure.

I learned that self-publishing is hard, but freeing. You don’t have to listen to other people helping you make your story better. You don’t have the safety net of the publisher. It’s just you out there – raw and vulnerable.

I learned that self-publishing is addictive. My aunt Athalie died this November. She was really glamorous and lived in California (We were in N.H.) and she was married to a celebrity dentist and then an Oscar-winning art director. She was an artist and believed in reincarnation. All of this was a very big deal to three-year-old Carrie.

She stared at me once as I was doing laps around our living room buck naked and announced loudly, “Carrie is an exhibitionist. Look at all that energy just flow right out of her. Wow.”

Nobody in my family has ever thought I was an exhibitionist. I was (and am) the person who sits on floors instead of chairs so that I can watch everyone else. I hide behind the camera and take pictures of others. I am a writer, for Pete’s sake.

Here’s the thing: Athalie was right.

Self-publishing pushes me towards that exhibitionist side. By marketing everything myself, by having the book be just my voice and my story, I show more of who I am to the world. And I’m okay with that. It’s scary, but all the good things are.

Truth Bomb

It’s really scary sometimes to put your work out there, or to just be who you are – the real you – unpolished sometimes, dorky, self-righteous, befuddled, passionate, fangirly, angry, sad, anxious you.

But it’s so much easier than living a life of pretending and of lies.

Authenticity is brave and vulnerable, yes, but it’s also pretty damn empowering to just exhibit who the heck you truly are to the world and let the world deal with it.

I hope you’ll be an exhibitionist with me. Exhibit who you are. Be who you are.


THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE PODCAST

WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s episode link. Over 170,000 people have downloaded episodes of our podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, you should join them.

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods

DUDE, DON’T WHATEVER ME

DUDE, DON’T WHATEVER ME

 
 
00:00 / 00:14:13
 
1X
 

We like to think that our lives have a point and that they matter. I think they do, but we’re not here to get all esoteric on you. We’re here to help you be better writers and humans and one of the biggest things we need to tell you is this. 

You need to ban the ‘whatever.’ 

If you want your life to have a point then you need to give it a point. 

If you want your story to have a point? Same thing. 

Your life and your story should never be about ‘whatever.’ 

In life, you fix things when they break. You create goals. You move forward to solve things. In your story? Well it needs to happen that way too. We have to lean into the guiding force that creates every moment and scene in our stories. 

We focus so much on our feelings and our emotions, but here’s the thing – emotions change, feelings are flighty. What matters is our point or our purpose and that matters both overall and in the moment. 

Remembering your point or purpose works really well when you’re arguing with your partner because they failed to hear you when you said, “Can you put the onions in the pot, right now?” Instead of being super cranky and resentful that they didn’t put the onions in the pot for two minutes, you can think, “Wait. What is my purpose of being with this person?”

Chances are your purpose isn’t about getting onions quickly into a pot or having someone to boss around. Usually your purpose about being someone is something like, “To build a happy, safe, collaborative life together.” 

So, how do you find your life’s purpose? That’s a bit question that Carrie’s always struggling with.

A good first step is to ask yourself these five questions: 

  1. What happens because I am here? 
  2. What wouldn’t happen if I wasn’t here? 
  3. What am I good at and think is pretty easy? 
  4. What do I love doing when I do it? 
  5. What do I actually look forward to? 

Ask yourself these questions over and over again and if you’re blocked on them, if you think you don’t make a difference in anyone’s life? Ask again. Keep asking. Wonder for a second if it’s easier to believe that you don’t matter than accept that you do.

Because you do. 

You have a point. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

Just like our lives, our characters in stories need to have a point and a purpose and so do our stories. Ask yourself what each characters’ points are. Ask yourself what the story’s point is? Is it a treatise about government corrupt? A call to love? 

Dog Tip for Life

Dog’s don’t ask what they should be doing. They ask, what their purpose is? A protector dog protects. A hunter hunts. A lap dog laps. A lab eats. Their purpose propels their choices and gives them a point to existence. 

So, think about it. What is your purpose right now in this second? 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

Gabby’s Dog Tip for Today

Hello!
Look at you showing your best self to this world even when other people are being not so best.

Look at you leading by example, making your story, making community, lifting others up, reaching for them, noticing. Make room for the beauty you are.

xo
Gabby Dog

Big News!

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up?

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.


LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“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.”


IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods

ART NEWS

Becoming

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

How to Be A HAPPY writer, Big Foot, Statues that Pee

How to Be A HAPPY writer, Big Foot, Statues that Pee

 
 
00:00 / 00:18:40
 
1X
 

This week’s podcast is about something really important. It’s about remembering to have fun. For a lot of us, life has a ton of stressors and responsibilities. We have to make enough money to survive. We have to take care of our family and ourselves. We have to deal with a world and not succumb to constant catastrophic thinking about the state of the world. 

It’s easy to forget to have fun. 

Or to feel guilty about having fun. 

Or to feel guilty about having hobbies. 

And here’s the thing. It’s great to be a professional writer and make money at something you love to do, but you don’t have to make money at it. A lack of financial rewards for your efforts doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you aren’t getting money. 

And money, my friends, is not everything. 

What is everything? Having fun. Growing. Enjoying your damn self in this short amount of time you have on this world, making yourself wiser and stronger and embracing your moments of joy. Everyone who sings in the shower isn’t expected to make money at singing in the shower. That should go for those of us who write too. 

Here’s the truth: You can write solely for the joy of writing. 

Don’t let other people’s opinions or standards give you or your writing validation. Don’t let the pressure for external measures of success (publication, an agent, an award, 100,000 social media followers) ruin your joy in creating stories. 

Here are Five Quick Steps to Reclaiming That Joy

  1. Rest when you need to. Take care of your body. Eat food. Drink water. The simple things that all us living organisms should be doing.
  2. Don’t have buttheads for friends. Be with people who make you happy and support you and inspire you. Ditch the others. 
  3. Go outside. Seriously. Go out of the building. Feel the air. You are part of this earth. Remember this and take care of it, too. Study a flower, a rock, a tree. It’ll make you a better writer, too. Notice the whole. 
  4. Be grateful for the good stuff that happens. What do you have? You’re reading this, or listening. That means you have enough that allows you to do that. Pretty cool, right? 
  5. Open your mind and your heart. Try not to be so super judgmental. Be generous and chill when you can. 

Writing Tip of the Pod

If writing isn’t your profession and isn’t feeding you and your family. It’s okay to stop if it’s not giving you joy. Wait until it gives you joy and go back to it. Also, remember that y-o-u-r  (your) means belonging to you and y-o-u-r-apostrophe-e(you’re) means you are.

Dog Tip for Life

It’s good to have a pack of humans to clean up after you. That way you can enjoy life and be messy when you slobber on the windows barking enthusiastically at the Fed Ex guy. Try to find a good pack of humans to be your clean-up crew. 

Sponsor

This podcast was sponsored by BookNotes and this link sets you up for a free seven-day trail. 

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


WHERE TO FIND US

The podcast link if you don’t see it above. Plus, it’s everywhere like Apple Music, iTunesStitcherSpotify, and more. Just google, “DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE” then like and subscribe.

This week’s podcast link.

Last week’s podcast.

BIG NEWS! 

I’m about to publish a super cool adult novel. Gasp! I know! Adult! That’s so …. grown-up? 

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

I have a new book coming out!

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it. 

So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.

Charlene Churchill

Photo Courtesy of the Rotary Club of Ellsworth

A week ago from Sunday, my friend Charlene died of pancreatic cancer. 

That’s a hard sentence to write. 

It’s even harder when I think of hanging out with Charlene this summer. A retired librarian, she worked at the campground we were staying at while we rented our house. Charlene made my introverted self feel safe and happy even when surrounded by camping extroverts. Whenever I saw her, I would smile. Charlene was like that. She calmed me. 

One day we whispered over the counter in the campground office about my new neighbor’s shenanigans of the porn-rated kind, which weren’t a big deal except the noise. I wasn’t super excited about having to explain to the ten-year-old what the noises coming from the next tent over were about. 

“They’re gone tomorrow,” Charlene assured me. “I promise. You can make it one more day, right?”

One more day. 

Photo via Jack Frost via Ellsworth Rotary Club

“Whenever I’m having a hard time,” she added, “I tell myself, ‘Look at this beautiful sunrise. Look at this person I get to talk to. I’m lucky. I can do anything for one more day.” 

When Charlene told me about her diagnosis the summer was over and we were all out of the campground and I wasn’t getting my almost daily dose of Charlene. All my internal organs seemed to drop six inches as I read her message. There was this hole inside of me that was sudden and huge and real.

It was October and she wrote, 

Thanks for your faith in me but I’m afraid I’ve been handed one that may be too tough for me. I have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and the tumor seems to be growing quickly. I think I’m not beating this one. That’s ok too. Trying to stay ahead of the pain is hard.

I told her that she was amazing and strong and brilliant and how much I love her and she wrote: 

I sure don’t feel strong right now. 

And I thought, “Crap. Neither do I.”

But I wrote, “You are soul strong.”

That was true.

No matter what happened, Charlene was always soul strong. 

Photo courtesy of Charlene’s Facebook via Timberland Acres

This past summer at the campground, Charlene wanted me to share a story I wrote about death and a camper’s wife, and how the campground is this beautiful place that inspires community no matter what, how it endures even as ownership, staff and campers change, about how the connections we create matter. I didn’t want to share the story too widely because I didn’t want to exploit the woman’s pain. Charlene respected that. Charlene respected a lot of things.

Charlene was special because she understood that the needs of individual people are greater than the needs of a company or of marketing. She was special because she believed in empathy, in story, and in the power of goodness. 

She knew all about the power of goodness because my detail-oriented friend spent her life devoted to doing good. 

Charlene was part of Rotary International and was constantly giving back to her community (local and international) by volunteering. Charlene was a champion of books and writers. She made me feel special even as I started to write. I believed in myself partly because Charlene believed in me. I started being a writer when Charlene was the director of the Ellsworth Public Library. She took this scared, socially anxious writer under her wing and held me close, celebrating every thing I did like she was the mom I never had. 

My dog Sparty is a great judge of character and he would get so excited if Charlene drove by in the campground golf cart. He’d hop into the cart and try to ride around with her. He looked proud to know her. 

I know how that felt. 

This summer we talked about how neither of us have any depth perception because we don’t see out of our left eyes. We had no idea that we shared this issue and laughed about parking cars, driving, bumping into door frames, being miserable at any sport where things fly at you (tennis, softball, volleyball).

“This must be one of the zillion reasons I love you,” I said as we stood under a blue-blue sky beneath the boughs of pines as squirrels chittered away above us, talking too. 

“That’s a reason why you love me?” She laughed. “I hope the other reasons are better.”

They were. 

Charlene told me about a long-lost love that she reconnected with. She went completely out of her comfort zone to do that, to even tell me about it, but she looked so proud of being vulnerable and being brave. 

“Life is too short to be afraid. I’m done being afraid,” she said. 

“I am so in awe of you,” I told her. 

“Ha!” She laughed. “I’m in awe of you.”

Campground lady friends picked her up. They all wore white slacks and nice shirts and were heading out on one of their weekly adventures, which was usually to shop or to go to a restaurant for lunch.

They looked so happy, so in-the-moment, so alive. 

And I vowed that next summer at the campground that I would make a massive effort to visit with Charlene every single day she worked and I’d bring my dogs that she loved so much and learn as much as I could about this woman, this magnificent Rotarian, librarian, human and white-slacks-wearing friend. 

She died five months later. It was right before Christmas. This summer never happened. But other summers have and I am so lucky. We are all so lucky. 

She had travelled to Houston for special treatment, but her body was already breaking and instead she had emergency surgeries, increasing bills, and a lot of pain. Her local Rotary club had a fundraiser and I made a basket for an auction (for my Rotary club), but couldn’t go because I was teaching a three-hour class that day at the same time.

Even though Charlene was still in Texas, I felt like the worst friend because I couldn’t be at that fundraiser because I had responsibilities. Charlene, a Rotary secretary, a library director, understood about responsibilities though. She understood about so many things.

I am in awe of Charlene, but I am also in awe of you – all my friends who read this, who I get to connect to, and I am in awe of all you do and how hard you try and how much you hope and work for good. Let’s lift each other up and do this together, okay? In honor of Charlene and all we’ve lost. 

Continue reading “Charlene Churchill”

Losing Brilliance to AIDS

I posted this twelve years ago on WORLD AIDS DAY. It was WORLD AIDS DAY again on Sunday. So I am posting it again.

Back when I was in college someone I adored died of AIDS. He died in December.

This man was brilliant and cool and kind and he made me believe that I was:


1. Smart.
2. Had a responsibility to make the world better.

Believe me, those weren’t easy things for me to believe, and sometimes I have a hard time believing them still.

But this man? This beautiful, brilliant man who died of AIDS complications? He was my example of how you can do it. He grew up really poor with just a mom running the household. He was his class valedictorian in high school and college. He desegregated a fraternity system when that was unheard of. He made the world better. He went to Harvard Law even though nobody else in his close family had even gone to college. His whole life he volunteered and worked and made the world better. He was a lovely father. He was the best kind of friend. He was elegant and passionate and logical.

I miss him terribly.

December 1 is WORLD AIDS DAY. 

Back when he died, I really thought there would be a cure by now. I really thought that the world would ban together and completely fix this. 

AIDS is still a problem. It’s a huge problem. One of many.

Find out more here.

Or here.

There’s a lot of things you can do to make a difference but I guess I’d like to add that the first step is to care.

That’s right.

Just care.

A lot of people died of AIDS. A lot of people still die from preventable diseases. A lot of people die from violence, poverty, hate. I think that we owe it to them to lift up their memories, to live our lives respecting their beauty and their light. I know that I’ll keep trying. I hope you might too.



THIS WEEK’S PODCAST


WRITING NEWS

Continue reading “Losing Brilliance to AIDS”

Florida Man and the Queen of Kittens

Florida Man and the Queen of Kittens

 
 
00:00 / 00:18:03
 
1X
 

Stories are about people having emotions. Writers who write from their heads (outlining like crazy, etc,) are often missing out on the emotion because they are analyzing how to show emotion. 

But it’s desire and yearning that makes stories stand out and makes writers into artists and truth tellers. 

Robert Olen Butler says that yearning creates a dynamic of desire and that dynamic of desire creates plot and story. The need, the yearning, the want, is something that needs to bleed out into the page and it does. It does. 

Good stories have two epiphanies in them that use this yearning. The first epiphany shows up early in the story where all the details culminate to show the reader what it is that the main character wants. The reader gets it, responds, relates, understands and yearns for it too – yearns for it enough to turn the page and keep reading. 

The second epiphany is basically the climax or the story’s crisis. The main character is fully committed to her desire and she is at that make-or-break point and we’re there with her. 

The difference between regular books and books that rock your soul is that they are about wants, not about yearnings. Yearnings are bigger than wants. They are the desire of the inside. The foe blocks that desire, that attempt to fulfill yearnings. The character responds. And that is plot. 

Writers Tip of the Pod

Make your characters yearn.

Dog Tip For Life

Go after what you yearn for. 

Random Thoughts

In our random thoughts this week you get to hear:

  • Shaun fail to see his beer advent calendar
  • The Queen of Kittens talk about BTX
  • Florida Men and the things you do
  • Christmas Tree success.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.


This Week’s Podcast


WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“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.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Bar harbor arts
Carrie Jones Art

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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

Last week’s podcast.

Sometimes People Suck, Yes Even Parents and Writers

Being a writer is cool and weird. I’m trying to explain this to the students I’m visiting in Vermont this week, and mostly I’ve been talking about:

  1. How cool/weird it is to make up entire worlds and characters in your head and other people read them.
  2. How cool/weird it is to have people fight over your books in line or cry when they meet you.
  3. How cool/weird it is to get emails from people you don’t know.

But sometimes the weird way outweighs the cool when it comes to random emails from people you don’t know.

And no, I’m not talking about the emails that:

  1. Tell you that you are beautiful
  2. Tell you that your nephew has been kidnapped and you must wire money right now.
  3. Tell you that you won a foreign lottery.

I’m talking about emails like this one:

You sound like a very curious, interesting, clever girl. I was hoping to find something that would give these kids a leg to stand on morally and spiritually.
So far I’m not seeing anything with any direction except sucky things happening to young girls.
Hmmmmm OK I’ll withhold further comments until I read one of your books.
But fix it.

Random Mother in Maine Who Likes to Email Imperatives to Authors she Doesn’t Know

And that mother makes me so sad because she’s in charge of a kid right now and she doesn’t realize that sucky things do happen to girls (young and old) and people (young and old) all the time. Those things happen. And books are out there because books reflect life and expand on it and help you empathize about it and be a part of it.

“But fix it,” she said.

I went to that presentation in Maine. I drove three hours. I shook when I saw that parent in the back of the classroom, glaring. “She’s difficult,” the school told me. “Very very difficult. But we don’t think she’ll harm you.”

That was a tiny worry, but my bigger worry is her kid and was her kid.

“But fix it,” she said.

No, ma’am, you fix yourself. And hopefully once you do that, you and me and a whole bunch of other people can spread kindness in this world instead of perpetual suck. Deal?

It’s easy to succumb to the suck of other people. When authors get criticized they can lash out. Everyone can lash out. They don’t have a special course in Author School where they teach you to deal with criticism, stalkers, how to do a school visit, how to be kind. They just expect us to know. We don’t always know.

That makes me sad, obviously, because I want writers to be good role models. But some of us weren’t taught that either. Fixing it, fixing ourselves, making the choices that are right isn’t a constant thing. But I know I want to be better. I want everyone, even that angry mom who wrote that email and glared at me, to be better.

I think we can.

WRITING NEWS

LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!

The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here! 

“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.”

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

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

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

In the Woods
In the Woods


ART NEWS

Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site. 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is IMG_9486.jpg

PATREON OF AWESOME

Get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps). 

Check it out here. 

WHAT IS PATREON? 

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