When my first books went under contract, another debut writer interviewed me and asked me:
Now that you’re under contract, does your family better appreciate your writing?Interviewer person
This was a hard question because I was always the weird, youngest child by fourteen years, the one who didn’t fit in, the self-righteous weirdo with Snoopy shoes. My brain didn’t think like the rest of my family and it was always, really obvious.
“Aliens dropped her off,” one of my siblings would say as I wrote 274-page long Star Trek fan fiction in my notebooks or hunted for Big Foot in our woods or re-enacted all of the movie E.T. with myself playing every single role or when I started donating money to the New Hampshire-Central American Network and tried to start an Amnesty International chapter with my fifth-grade friend.
Does your family appreciate you? Do they Better Appreciate you now?
And it would be a hard question now because my immediate family of two daughters and husband? They love my writing always. It doesn’t matter to them if I get published or not. What matters to them is that I get to write and create stories.
Which is so cool, honestly.
Also, they prefer it when I’m not cranky and writing makes me not cranky.
If there was no such thing as “make money to pay for health care and shelter and food” I would never have any worries about writing at all.
But, thirteen years ago when I first got published, my parents were still alive and this is how I answered that question:
Now that you’re under contract, does your family better appreciate your writing?
This is what my dad said.
“Someone bought your book? That’s great. What’s it called?”
“Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend.“
My dad began laughing, “Ho boy. Ho … boy. Wait till I tell your Aunt Athelee that one. Tell me that again…. Gay what?”
“Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend.“
My father then laughed some more. “Let me write that down. That’s really the title? Ho … boy.”
Then today, about six months later, I was talking to my dad on the phone while simultaneously trying to make vegan shepard’s pie and he said, “How many books have you sold?”
I told him that I had three books under contract.
“Three? Three! In less than a year?”
“Yep,” I said, dicing onions, which always makes me cry.
He was really quiet and then he said, “Your grandfather was a really literate man. He was a great reader, you know. And my mother … she loved poems.”
“I know that, Dad,” I said, wiping my eyes with a paper towel that smelled like onions and only made things worse.
Then he swallowed so loudly I could hear it and he said, “I’m dyslexic you know. I don’t read very well.”
“I know, Dad. You’re super smart though,” I said this because sometimes my dad forgets that he is super smart.
The silence settled in and he finally said, “I’m just really proud of you. You know that, right? I’m really, really proud of you.”
So, even if no lovely people ever buy my books, at least I know that I did something that made my dad proud.
When I sold my first book, my mother said, the way my mother always says, “Oh, sweetie. That’s so wonderful. I knew you could do it. I am so proud of you. My daughter, the writer.”
To be fair to my sweet mother and to be honest, this is what my mother says about everything I do. Like the first time I made an angel food cake she said, “Oh, sweetie. That’s so wonderful. I knew you could do it. I am so proud of you. My daughter, the angel food cake maker.”
The rest of my family, I think, are appreciative of the fact that I sold a couple of books. It makes me more legit to them somehow. Which is strange but typical I guess. In our culture it often seems that the process of learning and creating is often only considered worthy if a tangible product comes from it and if that tangible product has market value.
But to me … the big value is that I made my dad think about his parents and think about books and think about me and made him proud.
Here’s the thing. We have to embrace our differences, our weirdness, even when other people scoff or demean us. This isn’t easy when the dynamics of oppression are built in, but it’s worth it. Trust me, it’s so worth it.
Dogs are Smarter Than People
This week’s podcast is up and excited to be there! Join 154,000 downloads and see how weird yet helpful we are.
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!
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?
Buy limited-edition prints and learn more about my art here on my site.