TIPS ON NOT MAKING YOUR EDITOR THINK YOU ARE A LITTLE TOO WEIRD

There are certain things in the editor/author relationship that you just are not supposed to do.

I have consistently screwed that up.

Fortunately, I have a very, very tolerant editor.

I am only telling you so that you don’t do this too. And I’m putting it in tips form because it’s easier for me to deal with the nasty truth of it, that way …

TIPS ON NOT MAKING YOUR EDITOR THINK YOU ARE A LITTLE TOO WEIRD

  1. Do not answer the phone while you are in the shower. No. Really. Even if you think it’s your little girl calling from school to say she forgot her lunch. Even if you think it’s a neighbor calling because they found your dog humping their light-up reindeer in their front yard. Do not answer the phone.
  2. Remember the person on the other end may be your editor.
  3. Remember you do not want your editor to realize that you are naked. Because the truth is, people take showers naked. You do NOT want people imagining you naked. 

4. If, for some insane, inane reason you do answer the phone, do not, DO NOT, bring the phone in the shower with you.

5. Do not do this even if you still have conditioner in your hair.

6. Do not do this even if you have to be somewhere in 20 minutes.

7. Just don’t do this. The shower makes a lot of noise, and it’s probably dangerous to have the cordless phone in the shower with you, like you could electrocute yourself or something. 

8. If you do, do this, which you shouldn’t, please make sure to rinse the conditioner out of both sides of your hair, keep your head tilted and the phone OUT OF THE RUNNING WATER.

9. Remember it is hard to have an intelligent conversation with your editor while getting conditioner out of your hair and worrying about being late and worrying about being electrocuted and worrying about whether he knows you are in the shower or not.

10. Shut off the water. Ignore your editor when he says, “Oh. I can suddenly hear you better.” 

11. Act all innocent. Say, “Really?”

12. Dry off. Comb hair. Be thankful Mr. Editor Guy does not have a camera phone.

13. Hang-up.

14. Spend the entire day with crunchy hair, because you forgot to rinse the conditioner off the top of your hair, just the sides.

15. Realize that crunchy hair is not worth it and VOW never to answer the phone while in the shower again.

16. Forget the vow the next day and try to say in a nice non-panicked voice when you answer the phone and the warm water is streaming down, “Oh. Hi, Mr. Nice Editor Guy. It’s you.”

Sparty’s Wednesday Wisdom

Notice everything, humans.


Usually the things we see, the stories we hear and don’t hear? There’s deeper stuff going on there.


Notice the deeper stuff. Then roll around in the grass, sniff weird objects and ask for snacks. That all makes a good Wednesday.

Sparty 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. 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast

This week’s episode is here and it’s all about how to tell a good story (aloud or on paper).

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.

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. 

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Waiting in the Army hospital

I’m waiting in an army hospital in Georgia somewhere for my soldier-daughter the puppy-ballerina-princess-girl who could never decide on just one thing to be for Halloween. 

She’s having surgery on her eye. It’s not super major, allegedly, but it’s a big enough deal that I had to take planes down from Maine to be here for her. 

I’m waiting for hours, which is fine because people wait in this hospital for hours for much worse things. I see them walk by. Most of them wear dark clothes. Most of them wear sadness over their skin like make-up. No. It’s more like moisturizer. It’s sunk in. 

These men and women wear uniforms and camouflage that sticks out in beige, fluorescent lit halls. One soldier walks by, jaunty, singing. I want to follow him around, spread his light. 

I’m at a table in a room where two hallways meet. A man walks by with his arm in a black sling. A civilian worker in a green shirt jingles as he walks behind him. The table I sit at is small, square wood on a metal pole. Casters are on the bottom. It’s unbalanced and tilts if I lean too hard on it. 

When I grew up half of my family said the point of family is to lean on each other. The other half of my family insisted that the leaning? It makes you weak. They are almost all dead now so I lean mostly on air, on walls, on tables. 

It’s hard not to worry when you can’t control anything like surgeries or politicians or people with guns and hate-hearts. It’s hard to move beyond that worry and live. It’s hard to feel like you’re not always waiting for something to happen instead of actively making things happen. Good things. I want to make good things. 

Making anything is scary and vulnerable and real. I think I want most to be real, to matter somehow. 

I am waiting in an army hospital and they call a code red, which probably means something horrible, but I’m clueless, just a clueless civilian. Lately, I’ve been feeling like we’re all clueless about this world, this universe, even ourselves. How do we work? How does anything work? Relationships. Data. The internet? Lights. The stove. It’s all connections and collections and movement. Maybe.

People walk by me, mostly soldiers, some families. I only catch pieces of conversations and never the full thing. 

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

“’Hey Joe. Hey Joe. What’s up?’ He doesn’t even say, ‘What’s up.’”

“He talks to us.”

“He talks to me like I was cavalry.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means he talks to me like God.”

The other guy laughs and they are lost down the hall. I will never know what’s up with Joe who when he talks, ends up talking to the laughing soldiers like they are God. 

I am waiting in the army hospital and I will have no nice conclusions, no Marvel-style resolution to these stories. But mostly what I hear is people thanking each other, wishing each other a good day. I hear, “God bless.” I hear children whining, bored out of their minds. I hear a woman yell, “I got you.” 

I got you. 

I am waiting in an Army hospital. The hospital is everywhere. 


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.

This week’s podcast!

A Book Is Coming! A Book is Coming!

I am about to release a book.

Yep. Me.

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.

It’s an adult book. And I’m scared that:

  1. It will suck.
  2. Nobody will read it.
  3. People will think that because it’s self-published my career is over and I’ve failed.

I know! I know! I’m not supposed to write that because I risk:

  1. Alienating self published writers
  2. Putting ideas in people’s heads that I’ve failed.

But I care more about honesty despite all my fears.

This is why I’m self publishing a book.

It’s an adventure.

I’ve never done it before and I want to see what it’s like. I am all about new experiences and believe me – this is a totally different experience than traditional publishing.

Also, I’ve learned that I hate formatting things. So I’m learning?

It’s scary.

Being responsible for all your own words and edits and marketing is terrifying. I’m used to the world of traditional publishing where you have a whole team backing you up. Multiple people edit your book. These people are brilliant and skilled.

And it’s easy for us traditionally published authors to get big heads especially when our books do well. We get fan mail. People bite each other in line to get our book (True story). People cry when they meet us sometimes.

But we are not the only ones who make these books happen. There are agents, assistant agents, editors, assistant editors, proofreaders, copy editors, marketing teams, beta readers, publicists, booksellers, marketers.

So many people.

It’s scary to do it alone. I lean into the scary.

I’m impatient and I write too much.

Coming from the newspaper world, I write fast. I write a lot. I have so many manuscripts in so many genres on my laptop that my agent can’t keep up.

I’m impatient and I write too much and it’s a different genre.

This book is an adult book. It’s a bit like if you crossed Charlaine Harris’s less vampire-style books with Murder She Wrote. It’s not something my agent has read. I normally write children’s books and I love them, but I’m someone who started as a poet, became a reporter, won awards for nonfiction, became a kids book author and have written picture books, literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction and contemporary fiction. Which leads me to…

I don’t like boxes and labels.

I’m all about breaking expectations. It breaks expectations for a New York Times and internationally bestselling author to self publish and hopefully it breaks down the stigma about self publishing a bit more.

Why does that matter?

Because the point isn’t about being the best. Story is about communication and empathy. The world of books is a world where you build understanding, escape, go on adventures, but also become a better person. All the stories that people write? They are the stories that need to be told and the hierarchy of which stories deserve to get traditionally published is a bit subjective.

I’ve been so lucky. Andrew Karre pulled my first novel off the slush pile and published it. It won awards. I had a series that sold all over the world and hit lists. But not everyone is lucky and there are great authors out there who aren’t traditionally published.

They are authors, too.

Their books matter too.


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.

This week’s writing podcast.

Em Update

A lot of people have messaged me about my daughter, Em. She is not stationed in Iraq or deployed currently. Thank you all for remembering she’s an Army lieutenant and for worrying about her. It’s so kind of you.

New Year’s Gifts and Open Hearts

Open Hearts at Grocery Store

Two years ago, on the last day of 2017 (the no-good, terrible year), I was in the grocery store line and the cashier said something nice about me making a good meal for my man and how cute we are together and then she said, “You’re best buddies. Best buddies forever. Me and my — ” Her voice caught on grief. “We were like that.”

And my heart broke right there.

And I said, “C–, you’re breaking my heart and you’re working and I can’t get over there on the other side of the grocery belt thingy and hug you because you’re working.”

The bagger girl at the end of the lane looked away. I don’t think she’s good with emotion.

But C– just smiled at me and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I have a new man in my life and he’s so sweet to me and he showed up just when I needed him and my J–, I think he sent him to me.”

Her J — is her long-time, forever buddy, her husband who died.

So, I basically emoted all over the place while she rung up my crackers and I was like, “C–! You are killing me. I’m crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I’m happy for you. I’m crying because you’re so beautiful. And this is all… it’s all so… It’s poignant.”

She laughed.

The bagger kept looking away.

And when I walked out of the grocery store, this person I don’t know, he touched my elbow to make me stop my mad-fast hustle to the car. It was -2 out. It was cold.

The guy who was all bundled up and wearing some Carhartt’s said, “You know. When you have a heart as open as yours, it’s going to hurt sometimes.”

And I said, brilliantly, “Oh.”

“It’s worth it,” he said. “Do good out there, Carrie. Do good.”

I was a little freaked out, but I thanked him, got to my car and sat there, and I just stared at this cold, Maine, parking lot and the people rushing through the grayness that seems to sometimes overwhelm everything during winter and my heart got so full that I started emoting everywhere again because that random Carhartt-wearing man took time out of his day to talk to me. He stopped in the cold to talk to me.

This guy knew my name somehow, but bigger than that? This guy knows about hearts.


Gifts Out There

So, here’s the thing – there are gifts out there (big gifts and little ones) and they can come from the weirdest places. They’re connections. They’re motivations. They are these tiny times where you get to see inside other people’s minds and hearts.

Savor them this year. Try to dwell on those good things as much as we all dwell on the bad.

And let both the good and the bad inspire you to make a difference in your own life and maybe even other people’s lives (big ways and little ways).

cat, cat wisdom, catandkitten, kitten, Maine cat, maine
cat, cat wisdom, catandkitten, kitten, Maine cat, maine

Thank You

Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me this year. You’ve listened to me worry about things like suddenly being a full-time mom again.  You’ve celebrated with me about book stuff and podcast stuff. You’ve mourned with me when Charlene died.

You haven’t mocked me too hard because Grover (the muppet) is my internal cheerleader and John Wayne (dead cowboy movie star) is my internal editor. You’ve been brave with me on Be Brave Fridays when I shared my art, which is still scary by the way.

Some of you have bought my books and become my patrons. On social media, so many of you have been so kind over and over. And you haven’t unsubscribed to my newsletter. That’s such a big deal to me.

Thank you.

I really appreciate how kind and giving you’ve all been and if I write any more I’ll start crying. And there’s no random stranger guy here to make me feel better.


But there is Gabby….

Gabby’s New Year Wisdom

Love is being right in the moment. It’s about enjoying everything around you. And really feeling it, being open to it.


This includes the couch.

It even includes squirrels.


It’s not giving or taking, but who you are in relationship to all else (especially the couch) at that moment.


Love.

Gabby Dog


Last week’s podcast

This week’s podcast link.

Continue reading “New Year’s Gifts and Open Hearts”

Grocery Carts are Evil; Happy Holidays

Upcoming Blog Break

Hi, everyone! I’m going to be taking a holiday blog break except for the weekday dog-inspiration posts next week starting today.

That’s because it’s the holidays here and they are holidays that I celebrate.

So in the spirit of the holidays let me tell you that:

I HATE grocery carts.

No offense to you if you are reading this and you are, in fact, a grocery cart. 

Why? Why do I hate them?

Well, because you have to drive them. 

This is bad because:

  • 1. I’m not a good driver.
  • 2. There’s no horn on the grocery cart and sometimes you really REALLY need a horn like when the woman with the kid singing the Baby Shark song blocks THE ENTIRE PRODUCE AISLE because she’s parked her ginormous grocery cart sideways. SIDEWAYS!!! What is she thinking?
  • 3. I can’t steer.
  • 4. I really can’t steer grocery carts when one of the four dinky wheels goes all Tar-rat-rat-rah-rat because it’s off balance.
  • 5. I tend to knock things over.
  • 6. I’m a floater not a driver.
  • 7. Did I mention I’m not a good driver? 

So, today I buy MASSIVE amounts of food for the holidays and go absolutely in debt for the rest of my life. 

Side note #1: Why do crackers cost $4.99? 

Side note #2: And I haven’t bought sliced meat for a long, long time because I am anti-sliced meat. NO OFFENSE TO YOU IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND YOU ARE A PIECE OF SALAMI.  I bought it to wrap asparagus in and it costs like a MILLION TRILLION dollars.

But I did it. Right? I did it. I even pushed the grocery cart through the icy parking lot, put it in the holding cell where all naughty shopping carts go. If we let them loose they’ll take over the parking lot. Seriously. I’ve seen it happen.

I make it all the way home even though I swear all the drivers in front of me are all channeling

and then I realize. I’ve forgotten drinks! I’ve forgotten protein! 

AND I HAVE TO GO BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Please come save me. I’ll be the tired looking writer pinned by the monster grocery cart in the juice aisle.


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. 

Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?

When I was growing up in Bedford, New Hampshire, humor was something that was somehow cultivated in our school system and in my family. To put it into context, Bedford is where Sarah and Laura Silverman, Josh and Seth Myers all grew up. Adam Sandler spent a few formative years in Manchester, the big city next door. New Hampshire, the state where the motto is “Live free or die” was somehow a funny place. 

Who knew? 

Maybe it has to be funny with a motto like that? Where hard granite peeks out beneath the soil almost anywhere you go? 

I grew up thinking women laughing and women making jokes was absolutely normal. In my family, we laughed at anything and everything even when we were desperately poor, even when one of us is dying in the ICU. We laugh. 

Glamorous Moments Gone Wrong

One of my favorite stories that I tell about myself is when I got a prestigious award for my first young adult novel. I received the award, preening, went back to my seat thinking “I have finally made it! I’m not a goofball anymore. I got an award! Look at me! I’m a serious writer now.”

Two seconds into my glorious preening, the emcee for the event (the governor’s wife) yelled into the microphone, “Carrie! Carrie! I forgot to ask you. What high school do you go to?”

There were titters in the crowd. Someone gasped. Someone other than me actually. My heart stopped. Did this woman who just gave me an award think that I was actually in high school? 

I blurted, “What? Me? I don’t go to high school. I’m old!” 

Apparently, she thought the genre of young adult could only be written by young adults? Or maybe she was drunk. I don’t know. I do know that I turned bright red and people laughed really hard. 

Things People Say

Recently someone said to me, “You laugh a lot during your podcast.”

And I said (brilliantly), “Yeah?”

“You laugh really loud.” 

“I always laugh loud,” I said. “I commit.”

“Oh,” she said. “It’s just really loud for a woman.” 

For a woman?

According to an article by Jennifer Crusie, “Happily Ever Laughter: Writing Romantic Comedy for Women,” there’s a political element to comments like that one. 

“The biggest barrier to writing women’s humor is the intrinsic belief that Good Girls don’t laugh. Ever hear a woman laugh out loud – really loud – in public? Chances are your first reaction was, ‘She’s no lady.’” 

She’s No Lady

Oops. Apparently every single time I find things funny or joyous or ridiculous I’m losing my lady status. Judging by the amount of times that I laugh, I probably lost that when I was five. I’m cool with that. 

Crusie continues, writing, “A woman’s laugher not only tells the world she knows, it also communicates strength and confidence. A woman must be very sure of herself to make the joke, to tell the story and to laugh out loud knowing people will stare. She must be proud, strong and confident.” 

To laugh is to defy the norm, the social constructs that tell us in this culture how ladies are meant to behave. 


Crusie extols writers to write funny women, women who make the readers laugh with them, women who laugh with rather than laughing down. 

So how do you do that? 

Crusie suggests the following: 

  1. Base your humor on common experiences, things other women can relate to.
  2. Laugh with not at
  3. Let your protagonist use humor when she feels scared. Let her use it like a shield
  4. Give your protagonist friends to be funny with. 

People who write humor are like poets. I know! I know? What am I talking about. Funny writers and poets only succeed because they are truth seekers and truth-sayers. They take the mundane, the detailed, the ridiculous and turn it into something universal. They notice things and then they stop to reflect on it. 

So be funny. Be brave enough to laugh out loud in your books and in your life. Let the people stare. 


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.”

Continue reading “Women Are Allowed To Laugh, Aren’t We?”

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”

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. 

Word Count Troubles

I am having a hard time writing today.

Understatement of the year, right there, Little Lady.

Thanks Mr. Wayne, dead movie star, and inner Carrie Jones critic. Nice of you to show up. Your eyes look VERY blue in that picture.

Well, I was alive then.

True. Anyway. I’m having some issues. What kind of issues? I’m worried about female stereotypes in the young adult supernatural I’m writing. All of a sudden on word 20,667 I’m thinking, “Is Isabelle strong enough? She likes math. How do I keep her from being a stereotype of a girl who likes math?”

You’re just supposed to write. It’s your first draft. Don’t make me have to threaten ya.

I know! I am, but it’s hard. I have issues. 
Issues don’t bring home the bacon.

Do you mean, bread, Mr. Wayne?


No, I mean bacon.
Why do I think you mean bread?


Because your brain is on strike because you aren’t writing. Now get a move on.
Fine. Fine. It’s all going to be garbage.


True, but it’ll be your garbage. 
In a stereotypical American relationship, the man takes out the garbage, you know. That’s your role.


What do you think I’m doing right now?
Talking to me?


No, I’m trying to take out the garbage also known as self-doubt in your little writer brain.
Oh! Oh. That’s so nice of you. Stereotypical, but nice.


Little Lady, I aim to please.

Good luck fellow NaNoWriMo writers! I hope your inner critics and word counts aren’t kicking your butt today. Feel free to add me as a friend on there. I’m pixiewritermaine

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. 

This week’s podcast link.

Why Manuscript Critiques are Like First Dates and What Exactly is an Editorial Letter

I am a firm believer that humans should help other humans. A couple of people have asked me about manuscript critiques.

So, I’m going to take a quick moment and explain about manuscript critiques and how it relates to dating.

BIG QUESTION NUMBER ONE: 

What tip can you give to best approach another writer’s manuscript in critique?

Here’s the thing: Critiques are like mini-relationships. 

If you go in there and look at that piece of work (be it a person or a manuscript) with an insecure attitude, you are going to do harm even if you don’t mean to do harm. 

I’ve broken up with critique groups because members would make one published (former bestselling) author cry every single time they met. It wasn’t because she was the one who was insecure. It was because they attacked her writing over and over again.

Yes, I yelled at them before I quit. Yes, I was a little drama queen about it. I was a new author back then and like now, I get a bit self-righteous.

2. Since critiques are like mini-relationships, try to present your best self as a critiquer. Do not go in there with an attitude. Do not go in there insecure and hoping to cut someone down in the guise of helping. So not cool.

If you’re on a first-date do you really want to be snarky? Do you really want to spend the whole time showing off how smart you are about narrative arcs or quotation mark punctuation? 

I hope not. If so? You and me? Not dating. 

I think the best dates and the best critiquers talk about specifics (good and bad) but also listen to intention. It isn’t about them showing off. It isn’t about them being jealous about how hot their date (or their date’s manuscript) is. Instead, it’s a connection. It’s a communication. It’s about making the real world or the writing world (in the form of the manuscript) a slightly better place. 

3. If you’re in a critique group or a workshop, beware of the group mind mentality. This goes for dates too.

Have you ever gone on a date and felt like the person you were talking to wasn’t just presenting his/her opinion but the opinion of:


a. Mom.
b. Best friend.
c. Stephen King.
d. Everyone they went to high school with.
e. A president (past or present).

Sometimes group critiques can be like this with everyone’s individual opinions melding into the opinion of OH GREAT ONE.

OH GREAT ONE can be:


a. The tenured professor
b. The alpha female 
c. The alpha male
d. The super-published author
e. A muppet with a butcher knife

If this starts to happen, please PLEASE please do not be a lemming. It’s sometimes so hard, but remember your opinion is just as worthy as the alpha’s opinion, and the award winners and presidents.

And the person who is being critiqued NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR OPINION, too. Don’t be afraid to have a different opinion. It’s totally allowed and needs to be heard. 

BIG QUESTION NUMBER TWO: 

What’s an editorial letter like?  


For all you non-writers out there or my friend, William, an editorial letter is what you get after the miracle happens.


The miracle is called: MY BOOK HAS BEEN ACCEPTED BY A PUBLISHER CAN WE HAPPY DANCE IN THE KITCHEN FOREVER?

The editorial letter is typically suggestions from the editor about how to make your book made of awesome.

Let me give you a quick run-down of some of my editors.


Editor #1 has not given me any editorial letter. He is a very mysterious man. He simply told my agent, “I don’t think we need to do anything.”


This makes me nervous.

Editor #2 has given me multiple editorial letters on a single work, which is NEED!

Anyway this editor who may or may not be Michelle Nagler? She mails them. They are full of suggestions like, “Carrie, you have said the word ‘hands,’ 5,342 times in this manuscript. Would you mind changing that?” 

Or, “Um … the entire middle is a bit … It sags. It needs a tummy tuck. Can we speed up the pace?”

Her letters were amazing because they were so detailed and structure oriented.  I loved them because they gave me ideas about revision. Occasionally, I would read a comment and have a panic attack, but then within 20 minutes I was always ready to fix things. 

Editor #3 gave me editorial letters on the phone. They weren’t letters. This editor who may or may not be Andrew Karre? He would talk, reading off his notes about the book. I would take my own notes while he talked. They were often about theme and character and he would say things like, “I think it’s about longing.” Or sometimes he’d say, “You know. There are no details about the physical world. How would those details show where the heck she is and longing?” 

Then I would get 1,004 amazing ideas and be all jazzed up to write. 

This would happen a couple times during the process for some books. In one book it only happened once. 

Once, my editorial letter (on the phone) was: Carrie! You changed EVERYONE’S name. Is there a… Is there a reason for this?

I also know that this editor does not always work that way. He emails letters. He snail mails letters. He’ll do anything his author needs.

Here’s the thing: Just like dating, critiquing is a relationship and there’s a lot of trust involved whether the critiques is another writer or a reader or an editor. All good relationships? Well, they are about respect and communication. The intentions should always be about making the strongest book ever and encouraging the author to do just that.

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!

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. 

LAST WEEK’S PODCAST! 

THIS WEEK’S PODCAST LINK!