Resist The Silence

My dad was a dark-skinned man, ethnically Portuguese, but in the New Hampshire in the summer nobody knew exactly what he was and they all wanted to define him.

“What are you? Italian? Mexican?” People would ask.

He built a jewelry store for members of a mafia family. They insisted he was Italian. He’d shrug when my mom got annoyed about this.

“You work like a Mexican. You’re Mexican, right?” Some guy said to him once.

“You? What are you? Native? You a Cherokee or something?” People would ask because all First Nation people are somehow Cherokee even in New Hampshire.

Decades before I was born, he gave up trying to explain who he was. People had already labeled him.  And relabeled him. And labeled him again.

One time, we were out fishing and some young white guys came up and freaked out because I was pretty pale compared to my dad and they decided that he’d abducted me. Or something.

They called him the n-word. They threatened him. He just took it and took it and took it silently.  I eventually yelled for them to leave my daddy alone. I was pretty young and scared. All I really understood was that they were mean and that they were mean because they were being racist.

When we were driving back home, I asked him why he didn’t tell them that he wasn’t black. I asked him why he didn’t fight back. And I’m sure there were a lot of reasons he didn’t articulate and some that he probably did, but the one that I remember is this:

“I am lucky enough to be born a white man. What we had to deal with out there, I’m sorry that you had to see it, baby, but what black men and women deal with all the time? It’s so much worse.”

For my dad that was a long speech.

What was special about him was that he noticed other people’s situations, the things that they had to deal with. He never prioritized his experienced because he was “one piece of humanity.” Not all of it.

 

IN ORDER TO BE UNIFIED YOU HAVE TO NOTICE OTHERS; YOU CAN’T HELP OTHERS IF YOU EXIST IN YOUR OWN BUBBLE

Last Monday I talked about women’s anger and this week, I’m talking about unity. Sort of.

Audre Lorde wrote in Eye to Eye, “Sometimes exploring our differences feels like marching out into war.”

But sometimes just noticing each other seems almost impossible. You would think in the world of social media that we would come into more contact with difference, but that’s not always the case.

Divides are not new. The divide between parties or political ideologies, between races or genders or class or religion or ways of loving, is old and it morphs. Us humans seem to like ‘sides’ and ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and teams. There are some really interesting studies by the Pew Research Center that talk about political polarization.

But the divide doesn’t have to be all that happens. Unity doesn’t mean that we all have to think/be/do the same things. Unity doesn’t have to be forced homogeneity. Neither does love.

But that can’t happen if we only live in polarities.

And it can’t happen if we only know about people who fit our own demographics and psychographics. It can’t happen when we only know what’s going on with people who look/think/live like us.

We have to notice and respect other people’s experiences.

THE FACEBOOK POST

Yesterday, a post went around Facebook asking women to black out their photos for a specific reason.

Tomorrow, female blackout from 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Its a movement to show what the world might be like without women. Your profile photo should just be a black square so that men wonder where the women are. Pass it only to women … It’s for a project against domestic abuse. It is no joke. Share it

My Post-16

Typos are not mine for a change. 🙂

The originators wanted everyone to be silent and to make their profile pictures a black box, like the one above. According to Forbes, the chain message actually began in 2017. It’s surfaced a few times and picked up steam last weekend.  Since yesterday, I’ve seen a lot of my friends shift their profile picture to a square and then switch back. I’ve seen blog posts and status updates about how this is actually silencing us as women and silencing our voices and how we should be roaring instead of silent.

I appreciate that.

But there was a bit more going on yesterday, too.

MARCHES FOR BLACK WOMEN

Yesterday was also part of a weekend full of Marches for Black Women. Here’s a post about it from Bustle. According to the website, “The physical, financial, and social enrichment of the nation-state at the expense of Black bodies and at the expense of Black lives is too old a strategy, and Black women will not allow for it.

These marches  are happening on an important date in U.S. history. It’s the anniversary of the Elaine Massacres where it’s estimated that over 200 were killed as a response to unionizing, which white landowners found threatening.

And the thing is that I know that my white friends who were upset about domestic violence and I know that my liberal friends who are upset about the Kavanaugh hearings wouldn’t want to be complicit in not amplifying black voices let alone ignoring them. But I don’t think they knew about the marches this weekend. I bet many of us don’t know about the Elaine Massacres.  Our ignorance might not be intentional, but it’s there. And what message does it give to WOC when we’re saying, “Hey, let’s all be quiet on this day that you chose to march, to shout out your needs, to put yourself front and center.”

It sends a really strong message even when it’s unintentional.

LOOKING OUTSIDE OUR BUBBLES

And we need to do better. We need to educate ourselves and look outside our bubbles. We need to be outraged not just about white women, but about the treatment of all women. We need to hear voices that come from backgrounds that are not our own and from needs that are not our own. Even when it’s hard.

“Mainstream Communication does not want women, particularly white women, responding to racism. It wants racism to be accepted as an immutable given in the fabric of your existence, living evening time or the common cold.”—Audre Lorde. “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” Sister Outsider. Crossing Press Berkley. 1984. Originally published as the keynote presentation at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference, Storrs, Connecticut, June 1981

Racism should not be a given, not in our culture, not in our own selves.

 

My dad was right about a lot of things, but especially about being an ally and recognizing that your experience isn’t everyone else’s.

In this age of social media, it’s so important to remember that, and to be aware that there are other voices out there, many ways to be disenfranchised, and caring about those other voices doesn’t mean you aren’t taking care of yourself. It means we raise each other up as we all attempt to rise up to greater heights and understandings and a better world for everyone.

But don’t be silent or call for silence. Because it doesn’t make us stronger. It makes us unheard.

 

tumblr_o6ufn9aEi41rzzhceo1_500

Obviously, there is a time for silence – when you are listening to other people, to the disenfranchised and not pushing your words and agenda into their space. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about choosing group silence as the disenfranchised/oppressed group while those in power still talk, write, and are heard.

Some Resources

Some really good stories about America’s First Black Women’s Club are here

If you are interested in reading more kid lit with Black voices, check out the Brown Bookshelf.

If you’d like to read some really good speeches, check out here (Mary Church Terrell). 

And finally, for more about Audre Lorde, check out the Audre Lorde Project.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought will be up tomorrow. Check it out, like and subscribe!

Five Ways to Write Happy
Five Ways to Write Happy

 

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Things I Have Already Said, And Will Probably Have to Say Again

I have written about what happened to me my senior summer in multiple ways, the most recent time was in the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID, which was released this year.

 

It was a party. I was not drunk. I didn’t drink in high school. I liked to brag that I was “weird enough without drinking.”

This is a weird thing to brag about, honestly.

 

The young man who assaulted me had mono. As I started college, I came down with mono. The Epstein-Barr virus that causes mono attacked my brain and gave me seizures and some cognitive degradation. That’s how I have epilepsy. Every time I have a seizure, I know that it’s a horrible, tangible legacy that my assailant left me for the rest of my life.

 

Also, yes, I used to be smarter. It’s hard not being as smart as I once was. It’s impacted my confidence and belief in my abilities.

 

And as the country listens to Professor Christine Blassey Ford’s testimony about her high school assault, I realize how incredibly lucky I was in the years after my own assault.

 

Yes, I lost IQ points.

 

Yes, I still occasionally have seizures.

 

No. I didn’t tell my family.

 

No. I didn’t tell most of my high school friends.

 

But I had people who believed me.

 

But I did tell the people in college that I trusted. Some of them were wonderful. Some? Not so much.  One guy insisted that we should have sex so I wouldn’t ever find sex scary. His drunken insistence was pretty overwhelming and not helpful at all. One guy eventually wrote about my assault in his memoir, not using my name, and making it into a bonding moment with his adopted brother who offered (I guess) to go beat my assailant up.

 

A couple years later, my boyfriend insisted that we help inform other woman about date rape. So, we enlisted real Maine judges, real Maine lawyers, classmates to play the roles of the rapist, witnesses, and had a trial in front of an auditorium full of students and people from Lewiston, Maine. It made the news.

 

I played the victim. He thought it would be empowering.

 

We didn’t have scripts. We had a set of facts and we had to present them according to our characters’ point of view.

 

And telling a story that was basically my own, but not my own, so that the process of the legal system could be shown and explained to other women and men who might someday need to report their own rapes? It was so hard. And I was hiding behind the façade that I was acting.

 

So, every tweak and twist of Professor Ford’s voice, every tremor and pause, both breaks my heart, and makes me ill with compassion, but also – it also makes me so amazed by how brave she’s being as she says things that she remembers, things like “indelible in the hippocampus is the laughter, the uproarious laughter between the two.”

 

“You’ve never forgotten the laughter? You’ve never forgotten them laughing at you,” Senator Patrick Leahy said.

You don’t forget things like that.

I can’t forget Anita Hill’s testimony about sexual harassment from (now) Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. I saw how she was treated.

I remember.

Patrick Leahy was on the committee when Anita Hill testified back in 1991. He is on the committee now. Senators Hatch and Grassley were also on both committees.

Speaking truth matters. Surviving matters. Taking care of each other matters.

 

I’m in an organization that has a membership of about 35 women. Of those women, I know at least seven of them have been molested or sexually assaulted. These are leaders of the community. These are kind women who devote their lives to their community and family. And I know of seven of them who have openly stated that they’ve been hurt.

There are probably more.

 

And here’s the thing: What could they have become, what could they be doing, if they didn’t have to deal with that baggage?

 

What would this country be, this world be, if the borders of women’s bodies were respected? If they weren’t hurt by sexual assaults and have to deal with the trauma of that for so long? And it obviously isn’t just straight women, it’s non-binary people, it’s gay people, it’s men. What would we all be if we didn’t have to be derailed by violence? What would we all be if we didn’t have other people constantly doubt and deny our pain?

 

Spoiler alert: We’d be even more awesome.

 

That’s what our country needs to work towards. We need to work towards kindness, respect. We need to work towards caring about each other.

 

 

 

 

Talk to Me, Baby! Dialogue Help on Writing Tip Wednesday

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and today we’re talking about talking.

What’s that mean?

Dialogue, baby. It’s that magic place where the characters get to speak for themselves.

So, the number one tip is super obvious, but yet… so many of us don’t do it.

SAY YOUR DIALOGUE

Out loud.

 

That’s easy enough, right? But actually listen to how the words sound. Is it awkward? Too perfect? Is someone saying an 895-word sentence?

Think about the breath units.

Wait. Breath units? What’s that?

A breath unit is how many syllables are read in one breath. You breathe at periods and commas and punctuation marks, right?

So, if your dialogue sentences have more than 20 syllables? It’s going to be cruddy. If it’s all five or less? It’s going to sound cruddy too.

Poets use this writing tool and think about this all the time. Fiction writers should too because the cadence of your words and your writing matters AND because you should have as many tools in your tool box as possible.

Once you know the tools, you can break the rules for dramatic effect. Stephen King often writes a 100-word sentence full of long breath units and follows it with a one-breath-unit sentence-slash- paragraph for a dramatic punch.

Genius.

And I sort of did that up there.

See? This sentence is super long (40 syllables):

Stephen King often writes a 100-word sentence full of long breath units and follows it with a one-breath-unit sentence-slash- paragraph for a dramatic punch.

And followed it with this (2 syllables):

Genius.

That’s not dialogue, but it helps make it understandable, right?

And to be fair, not all people and all cultures have that typical upper middle class white person in the United States breath unit. Think of Eminem or Busta Rhymes or Tech N9ne for a second and all the words each of those men can say in one breath. Chopper-style rap has this awesome, intense emphasis on speed and pronunciation, which throws the rules of breath units out the window. Here’s a link to some fast rap examples courtesy of Red Bull.

Warning: There is profanity.

And those differences are important. It’s good to remember where the ‘rules’ come from and who they come from and also to give yourself the liberty to play with them or against them.

So, do that. Say your dialogue aloud. Play around with the breath. Think about the things your character is feeling underneath the words she’s saying.

If a cop or a werewolf is chasing your Scooby gang, they aren’t going to be eloquent and have long beat units. If they’re on drugs, giving a speech, or borderline hysterical? Those beats are going to show that.

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Freeport, Maine on Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

I’ll be hanging with a lot of other cool authors in Freeport.

Copy of A Nerdy evening with authors and illustrators (3)

 

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

 

 

Mansplaining Buttfaces and Women’s Anger

The other week a man that I once trained gave me a piece of paper citing exactly what I once trained him about. He presented it to me like it was brand new information.

He handed this piece of paper across a table where I was surrounded by my colleagues who all know that I had explained to him what he was now preaching to me and he did it as if I’ve never heard any of it before.

I stared at that piece of paper one moment too long.

He then proceeded to mansplain something to me that I trained him about less than a year ago.

And I said, “Yes. We’ve made a conscious decision not to do that here for multiple reasons. Would you like to hear them?”

And everyone at the table sort of flinched. But nobody said anything. Nobody usually does. Except the mansplainer who didn’t want me to say our reasons. He just jumped to a different topic instead of taking that moment to maybe learn something, which is sad. It’s sad for him.

Afterwards, someone said, “You had your voice. That voice you get. The angry voice”

And someone else said, “I was ready for you to go crazy.”

But I didn’t. Because in that second I was too tired to care. Instead I thought, “Hey, at least he listened the first time when I taught him about the exact same thing he’s shoving in my face today.”

I regret that now.

In a New York Times article, Leslie Jamison wrote, “For years, I described myself as someone who wasn’t prone to anger. ‘I don’t get angry,’ I said. ‘I get sad.'”

Women and girls? Sometimes we have a hard time realizing that what we’re feeling isn’t sadness, but anger.

And Jamison goes into that a bit in her article writing, “If an angry woman makes people uneasy, then her more palatable counterpart, the sad woman, summons sympathy more readily. She often looks beautiful in her suffering: ennobled, transfigured, elegant. Angry women are messier. Their pain threatens to cause more collateral damage. It’s as if the prospect of a woman’s anger harming other people threatens to rob her of the social capital she has gained by being wronged. We are most comfortable with female anger when it promises to regulate itself, to refrain from recklessness, to stay civilized.”

After I gave a training last week, a disruptive, older man told me afterwards that I would get paid for talking if “You weren’t nervous.”

“I wasn’t nervous,” I said, pretty calmly. “I’m high energy.”

“You were nervous,” he insisted, stepping closer. “That’s why you move around a lot.”

“No. I move around a lot because I have a lot of energy. I like my trainings to be inclusive, to involve the people and engage them instead of me standing up there and preaching,” I insisted.

Another man, same demographic, came over and said, “Carrie’s authentic. She’s passionate. That’s what you’re supposed to be.”

“Maybe you should sit down,” the first man said to me, inching even closer, “that would contain your energy.”

“No,” I said, literally standing my ground. “I’m not as good a speaker when I sit down.”

And the man with us (Nice Man) said, “Carrie’s a great speaker. You wouldn’t want to change anything she does. Everyone was rapt. You were enraptured. There’s magic in what she does.”

I can not tell you how much I appreciated Nice Man aka Second Man. I jaunted off and first man actually yelled after me, “You could get paid for this if you weren’t nervous.”

I basically had enough. I whirled around and shouted from the doorway of the room, “I wasn’t nervous. Think of it this way. I’m like Janis Joplin. You can’t help but watch me because you’re constantly worried I’m going to fall of the stage. Okay?”

I did a speed walk sort of thing down the hallway and this other facilitator told me she was going to buy me a beer. She did. I deserved a keg honestly, but I got something better:

  1. A nice man who knew exactly what to say and when
  2. A female friend who has had similar things happen to her
  3. Self respect because despite my conflict-averse nature I stood up for myself over and over again even as a rich white man, older, in a position of power, wouldn’t back down.

Over that beer, the same woman told me how she walked out of a training once because the man in charge of the event didn’t want her to use a projector because when she walked in front of it, the lights flashed on her breasts.

Seriously.

When she told me that story, I was so proud of her because she didn’t back down. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about anger lately and how so many women relate anger to powerlessness and how men relate anger to power and how our society consists of so many of these binaries.

Author and activist Soraya Chemaly talks about this in her just released, “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger.” There’s an excellent interview with her here at WBUR.

But my favorite thing that she says is this, “When we shut down somebody’s anger we are literally silencing the knowledge they have and saying it’s not valuable to us as a social resource.”

I did that to myself during that first exchange with the mansplaining. I could have taught him more, but I shut down my assertiveness before it got ‘out of control,’ and I silenced the knowledge I had and didn’t share it. Not that he deserved it, but the other people at the table did.

That’s a big deal. It’s so hard not to let others shut down our anger as women.

Anger has meaning. There are reasons people are angry. And when we shut down their anger, we also shut down their voices. This is so important when we’re talking about bias and oppression. By shutting down angry voices, we shut down the opportunity to make ourselves better as people and as a country.

Anger isn’t this one-size-fit-all thing. Anger is used to stereotype an entire race of women into a trope. Think about all the pejoratives used for black women in America.

Anger and sex combined is used to defame people implying their emotions are out of control, ie calling Kamala Harris and Corey Booker “hysterical women” during the Kavanaugh hearings or Serena Williams “hysterical” when she was arguing with the tennis judge. But it’s also the all-encompassing term that doesn’t cover the nuances.

There are so many nuances. Me speaking about human trafficking isn’t the same as a man raging at his wife because she texted another man. Me getting annoyed at someone teaching me what I’ve taught them isn’t the same as someone screaming at their colleagues because of a newspaper article. Me being annoyed at a man cornering me and insisting that I was ‘nervous’ isn’t anywhere near the same as a woman’s anger and frustration when she’s been systemically oppressed because of both her race and her sex, and possibly also her sexuality or religion or economic class.

All anger isn’t the same. Anger has degrees and nuances.

When one of my friends was talking about me getting “that voice,” that voice isn’t me actually angry. It’s me assertive. It’s honestly just me not being simpering. And whenever I use that voice? People listen and they bristle and some of them rub their hands together because they expect a fight and unlike me – they like fights.

But why does that assertive voice equate to being angry? Why is me being passionate and assertive the same thing as me being enraged?

I’ll give you a hint. It’s because I’m a woman.

I talk about this with my male friends and family all the time, how if my tone isn’t absolutely loving and placating people get offended or think I’m being angry. And how their every-day tones are so much harsher that the one I have which sets people off.

I’ll give you another hint. I’m not actually angry when I talk that way. It just means I care.  It means I want to be heard. And that’s the scary thing. Why is being heard threatening? Why is it so scary to see women, to listen to women, and to hear them? And when we do listen to them, and hear them in a place like a training, why do we feel compelled to tell them to change?

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Freeport, Maine on Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

 

ENHANCED and  FLYING are here! And they’re out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

Writing Tip Wednesday: Objective Correlatives. Show me. Don’t tell me, baby.

How do you write emotions without showing?

It’s hard not to just write:

Her heart sped up.

She felt scared. 

Her stomach clenched.

Because that’s a pretty easy and simple way to do it, right? And you are a writer, trying to hold an entire world together, why not occasionally let yourself be simple?

Well, because you want to be the best writer you can be. That’s why.

One of the tools authors like us can use is the magical Objective Correlative, which is a super fancy name, honestly. So just using it at a writer’s conference is going to give you pretentious writer points. Score!

But what actually is it?

It’s “a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.”

That’s according to Washington Allston, who along with T.S. Eliot gets most of the credit for the term. If you can somehow splice that into your conversation, you’ll get even more pretentious points, I kid you not.

So, the object or the event shows the characters’ feelings to the reader. Instead of the character herself announcing loudly to the world, “I feel like poop.”

There are four main ways that you can use the objective correlative.

1. It’s an actual object.

You’re watching the Glass Menagerie and you’re like – “Oh. That represents something to the main character and her psychological state.”

In  To The Lighthouse, it’s the lighthouse.

Here’s an example I just made up: 

I perch on the edge of the picnic table by the camper, staring at the dirt splashed up against the cooler from the last rain storm, marring the blue plastic with a big, brown splatter. I can’t stare at it without remembering Tala. Somebody’s big black diesel truck rumbles by on the gravel campground road, not faster than 5 mph because those are the rules. It takes so long for anyone to get anywhere at all.

2. It’s a metaphor.

Martine Leavitt used the forest in Keturah and Lord Death to show Keturah’s feelings and psychological state.

3. It’s a description of the world that shows your character’s mood.

That’s pretty self explanatory, right? Here’s an example from a story that I haven’t published yet.

The birds tap at the kitchen window with tiny beaks. They hover there above the azalea bush and the still-to-bloom tiger lilies, wings wide open, eyes staring inside at where my mom and I bustle around the kitchen. They smack and caw and coo. There are seagulls, pigeons, crows, a couple of hummingbirds, a few owls, robins, blue jays, finches, doves and a random eagle tonight. All of them coexisting in some sort of peaceful bird truce. All of them watching us.

4. It’s a whole chain of events that set the feelings of the characters without actually saying the feelings of the character.

This one is a bit harder to explain. Here’s an example from one of my unpublished stories (yet).

The ocean is a little choppy, the dark blue of it capped by white waves that rush to shore like trains determined to get to a destination no matter what is in their way. The clouds sparkle above the water, puffy promises of happy things, but under the surface?

I lean forward, staring at those white caps, and for a second it almost seems as if I can see bodies just beneath the surface, hands reaching up and out of the water for help. There’s a man. There’s…It looks like me.

So, I don’t say how she’s feeling during this sequence of events and observations, but by the end of it,  it’s pretty obvious that she’s a bit freaked out.

WRITING NEWS

I’m in Montreal this week and then, Freeport, Maine Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

 

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYINGis here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOKis out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast: What Makes a Story Memorable?

Here’s our biggest tip for beginning writers.

Ask yourself this question:

WHAT MAKES A STORY MEMORABLE?

It’s change. It’s how the hero of the story enters that story with something broken inside them. All the things that have happened before your story starts – the back story – has set up the hero needing to achieve something or needing to change something inside of themselves.

ET was a movie about an alien, but the reason it was so amazing was because it was a movie about a family in pain, a family that needed to believe in magic and love again. ET gave them that.

So, when you’re writing your book, think about the backstory of your character, what it is that put her/him/them in this place and what they need to do to change themselves or their world.

That’s what the heart of a story is.

That’s what makes it memorable. The internal change.

 

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t be afraid to evolve. New places, new experiences, new life paths, are all ways to become something and someone better.

 

WRITING TIPS OF THE POD

  1. Have Fun – Don’t write unless you love it or can’t live without it
  2. Remember That Your Characters and Their Journeys Matter
  3. Cut out Extra Scenes
  4. Don’t Try to Write Like Anyone Else
  5. Edit Like A God – Cast out all that doesn’t belong
  6. Don’t Worry About Being Successful – Worry about the story.

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.

THE PODCAST LINK IS HERE. 

Please like, subscribe, share it on iTunes, Stitcher, anywhere. <3

We all appreciate it.

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Montreal this week and the Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

And I’ll be in Freeport, Maine September 28 as part of a Nerdy Evening of Kidlit writers!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

HOW TO GET SIGNED COPIES: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

ART STUFF

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

I’ll Stay With You

One of my many grandmothers liked to tell stories. It’s the catholic one, Portuguese, Avó. And her stories never really had cohesion. They were basically family facts and remembrances wrapped up in anecdotes with a heady dose of moralizing and tradition. And I freaking loved it.

Let me set the scene.

It is the 1980s and to me she seems impossibly old. She has always been poor, though some of her nine children are now rich and she has filled her small apartment with ceramic knick-knacks, rosaries. Pictures of the Blessed Virgin Mary share precious wall space with her children.

“There is not enough wall,” she laments, sitting down with a sizable sigh because it’s hard to move her body around.

There is not enough room anywhere in her apartment. It’s stuffed with afghans, crocheted table coverings. Hot sauce and ketchup and condiments stack the counters of the kitchen. And then there are the ceramics, some made by my aunt in a kiln in a shed behind her trailer. They are mostly angels, madonnas and carousels. Girls in hard flouncy dresses that resemble Southern belles from another time. Their skin is porcelain and pale and perfectly white and the opposite of my grandmother’s. Their bodies are tiny. Limbs stretch out in ballerina poses, ready to break off at any moment, precariously attached to their bodies by some kind of magic.

There are no men here other than Jesus. He’s a picture on the wall. He’s pretty pale, too.

I am in love with a swan that is on the table next to the thread-bare, plaid couch that is about two decades too old to ever find a home away from my Avó.

I’m checking out the swan as she hands me a hot chocolate that’s been topped with Marshmallow Fluff.

“Chemicals are good for you,” she says with a wink. “No matter what that Dustin Hoffman says.”

It is July and she’s feeding me hot chocolate from a package and has heaped the gelatinous white of fluff on top of it to sweeten it even more. And in that moment, she is absolutely my favorite of all my grandmothers despite all her scandals, the time she ran away from her own children, leaving them to raise each other, the time she refused to give her eldest son his birth certificate when he wanted to join the Navy because the certificate said a name of a father he’d never known existed.  If he saw that birth certificate then he’d know his last name was Gonçalves, a totally different name that he’d been living with for the first 16 years of his life.

At the time, it seemed very important that he not know, she says with a shrug.

“Turned out? Didn’t matter.” She smiles. She has a fluff mustache. “It’s always what we think matters, that doesn’t, and then the things that do us in? They come out of nowhere.” She crosses herself and I do, too, because I want more fluff, because I want her to love me, because I want to not be something that slams her out of nowhere.

I pick up the swan, my favorite swan. There is a brown line across the gentle curve of her neck.

“Your cousin broke her, but the thing is? Ceramics? You can glue them back together. People? Not so much. Not so perfectly. Our breaks show if you squint too hard at them.”

 

I'll Stay With You-4

Not too long ago, my grandmother was spat on for being dark but beautiful, for being a woman and beautiful, for being catholic, for knowing a language other than English, for being impossibly, assuredly herself.

And she ran away from a life of poverty once.

And she ran away again. And again.

“But I could never run from God,” she tells me. “Not once. And let me tell you, he forgives better than your children will.”

This is true and not true. This grandmother sits in a lounge chair, holding court over the summer family reunions and pool parties, munching on Pringles straight from the can, commenting on the food people bring to her on plates because her legs have swollen too much from heart disease and other things to hold her up too well, grilled tomatoes and bread and sardines. She seems to like the Pringles best, but she eats it all and never says thank you.

It drives my mother crazy, but she’s busy gossiping with the aunts so it doesn’t matter. It’s just my Avó and me.

And she tells me, “You’re different because you don’t fit in.”

And my little girl heart chips into pieces, a broken ceramic swan on the floor. I stare at the ground, at my naked feet my Aunt Mary Jean’s backyard grass.

A Pringle comes into my sightline and wiggles. An offering.

She says, “That’s not bad. When you don’t fit in, it’s hard, but you can touch people, you can touch people’s souls. Your otherness makes you strong. It made me strong.”

“Thank you.”

“It’s my job to give you advice.”

“No. Thank you for the Pringles.” I pause. “You’re supposed to say thank you when people give you stuff.”

“You mean me?”

“Yes. I mean you.”

She laughs. Her whole body shakes with it.

“What I like about you is that you don’t try to make me like you,” she says once she stops laughing. “I am going to tell you something. When I was little we had the Feast of the Holy Ghost and we would offer up sweet bread to the church, right? And I would look for the candy vendor.” She sighs and watches the cousins, all older than me, dark hair and skin, brown eyed and greens. “When my John, your father, was young, people would call him the N-word. He was so dark in the summer. Back then you were white or not white according to the whites, and you were only white if you weren’t like us.”

“So different.”

“Yes.”

“Mom says difference makes you strong? You said otherness.” I ask this because I am kid who pays attention.

“It made me me, whatever you want to call it,” she says, which is probably the only true answer there can be about things like this, things that form you and shape you. How do you know if something made you stronger if you never had the privilege of not suffering through it? How do you know that you wouldn’t be stronger if you didn’t have to endure hate, or oppression, or a million other traumas that a person can undergo in so many ways?

“You want to go in the pool? Play with the cousins?” she asks me, taking my hand even though it is salty from Pringles.

I look over there at the older cousins, confident, laughing, football stars and beauty queens, confident and free and wild. I sat there with her, both of us a little round, both of us a little awkward, and I squeezed her hand.

“No,” I tell her. “I think I’ll stay with you.”

 

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Montreal this week and then, Freeport, Sept. 28 and then Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

 

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYINGis here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOKis out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

Veggie Nachos, Baby

Why, hello. Yes, it is me, Carrie, a carb-loving writer on a quest to make her household (gasp) vegetarians.

Because I felt guilty about the kale and the tomatoes that I’ve been throwing at the man lately (Only after he threw them at me first), I’ve adopted a recipe that I think will not incite any sort of unhappy incidents.

Why?

Because they are nachos and nachos, my friend, are awesome.

Veggie Nachos, Baby

I like nachos. Nachos have carbs. I don’t care. The end.

This recipe is taken and adapted (and also adopted) from the amazing blog, Cookie and Kate. The link to the true recipe is here: https://cookieandkate.com/2018/loaded-veggie-nachos-recipe/

  • 8 oz tortilla chips (rugged ones)
  • 1 can pinto bans
  • 4 oz cheddar (shredded like it was at a really good book launch)
  • 4 oz pepper jack (shredded and hot like it was at a really good book launch somewhere warm (Hint; Not Chicago. I always get sent to Chicago. I like Chicago. Chicago is not warm))
  • 1 whole pepper (green, red, orange – just dice it up )
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (because I live in Maine and we have no cool Mexican cheese)
  • 1/3 cup onions (green or regular, diced)
  • 2 tbsp cilantro (You can blow this off if you hate poor Cilantro)
  • some or whatever guacamole or avocado (if you're into it)
  • some or whatever salsa (pre-made, homemade, it's up to youPreheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place handfuls of chips on the baking sheet and distribute evenly, minimizing the gaps between chips. Set aside.)
  1. Find your oven. It should be in the kitchen. It was there last time you looked and I don’t think you’re living in a T.C. Boyle or Vonnegut novel so it should still be there. Okay. Found it? Put it on 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  2. Find a baking sheet. Line it with parchment paper. DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT EATING NACHOS! 

    If you are a writer who solely makes money from writing ignore the parchment paper and just spray the sheet. It’s cheaper. 

    Put the chips all across the sheet. Try not to have gaps because stuff will leak through. NO LEAKING ALLOWED! 

  3. Okay. You have a nice bottom layer. It is the supporting structure of your nachos just like you have to have a supporting structure of your new story: A LOVE STORY: ONE WRITER AND HER QUEST FOR CONSTANT CARBS. 

    On top of that layer you want to put the beans. Spread them out nicely. Do the same with the cheeses, pepper, feta and any spicy things. 

  4. Put that party in the oven. Love it. Admire it. Obsess over it. The carbs. The cheese. The beauty. Bake until the cheese melts.

    This should be somewhere around 10 minutes. 

  5. Take it out of the oven. 

    I know you want to gobble it all up but refrain, my carb-loving friends, refrain. 

  6. Why, refrain? Because it isn’t over yet, my friends. Wave bye to ketosis and dollop on the guacamole. Then sprinkle onions and cilantro on there.  

  7. And there. Eat it! Call it good. Forget about ketosis and whole-day-diet stuff of 30 things or whatever the heck they call it. Gobble up those nachos. It’s one life, baby. Let’s live it. 

 

Man Verdict: Thank God. You don’t hate me.

Doggy Verdict: Why must tortilla chips have salt? We can’t have these, can we? Why do you hate us, human?

My Verdict: Nachos have totally supplanted potatoes as my comfort food.

 

 

Flying

 

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

 

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

 

Writing Tip Wednesday – Every Chapter Needs to Have a Purpose, Darn it.

It’s Writing Tip Wednesday and here is my big advice.

Ready?

Every chapter in your story matters. Write every single chapter like it’s the first chapter.

Wait. What does that even mean?

It means that every chapter needs to be an important part of the story. It needs to be there. If you can take a chapter out of the story and the story still makes sense? That means that you didn’t make that chapter matter.

When you reread your story for the 100th time and you sort of subconsciously skip five paragraphs of backstory or description or even dialogue? There’s a reason you’re doing that. Delete those paragraphs. Just cut and paste them into a new document if you have attachment issues. Then reread things.

Does the chapter still work? Does the rest of the book still work without those paragraphs? That means you have to let them go.

If they are boring you the writer enough that you skim through them? That means that they are going to bore the reader, too.

Writing is about story. Yes, sentences matter because they are how we communicate story. Yes, chapters and structure matters, too, because – again – it’s how we communicate story.

But above all else – we are telling a story and every tool we use is about conveying that story. That’s what matters. And no matter how pretty the sentence or adorable the secondary character, if they don’t help create that story? You have to get rid of them. Especially in a thriller.

Flying

 

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA

“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

 

Our podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLEis still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book!

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?

What People are Saying About The Books:

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” – Kirkus Reviews 

“An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” – School Library Journal 

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

 

Remembering the Heroes on September 11th. One story.

This is what I post around Sept. 11 of every year. I am so sorry if you’ve read it before. A lot of things have changed in my life in 15 years. I went from being a newspaper reporter and city councilor to a newspaper editor to unemployed to a New York Times (and internationally) bestselling novelist. But how I feel about heroes will never change.

Ben died in 2016, after years and years of being a hero to the people of Shelter Island, New York, years and years of being a paramedic (one of the oldest in the country) and not only just saving people, but being the last one to comfort and touch the living.

The picture here is the one that ran with his obituary. I am not sure who took it and if you did and you want me to take it down, I will! Just let me know. It’s a great photo.

++++ +++++++ ++++++++ ++++++++

It’s hard not to think about September 11 without thinking about loss.

That’s how it should be. But I do know that so many heroes that we never hear about worked hard on that day. It’s important to remember them too, because they are, I think, what it truly means to be an ideal American and an ideal person.

My uncle, Charlie, who lives in Maplewood, NJ was just across the shore when he saw the plane go into one of the tall towers in New York City. He was over 80 and a doctor. He was in World War II. He hates war.

He told me when he saw that plane full of people go into that tower full of people he said, “Jesus Christ… Jesus Christ…”

He mumbled it for a second, a prayer, a plea, a name, a hope. He said his heart sank right into the bottom of his feet as he stood there watching. He said like he felt like he stood there on the shore forever. He didn’t. He moved after a second. He went right over towards the towers, towards the death and the hurt and the terror and the screaming, and the whole time in his head he kept repeating those words, that name…. Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ.

He started to help people. He was over 80 breathing in all kinds of horrible things into lungs that were already tired and aged, but that didn’t stop him. He’d helped people all his life. He had served his country all his life. Nobody would have thought anything if he had turned around, walked away, got in his car and drove back to Maplewood.

But Charlie would have thought something though if he did that.
He could have never done that.

My former father-in-law, Ben, also over 80, is an EMT. He became one when he was 65. After years of being an executive, he wanted to feel like he did something good in his life, something helpful. He was part of the Red Cross disaster team. He went over to the site too, got grit out of people’s eyes, helped them breathe, helped them cope.
You ask him what it was like and he shakes his head slowly and says in his deep/hoarse voice, “God, that was an awful scene. Just an awful scene.”

Charlie and Ben weren’t firemen on duty or police officers like so many heroes that day were. They weren’t official first responders.

What I love about them is that they made the choice. They chose to go. They chose to help and they didn’t give a poop about how old they were, about how many people they’d already helped. They didn’t care about the ache in their bones or the fact that both their hearts were starting to fail. They cared about something else. They cared about people. So they went.

They will always be my heroes. They are just two of many, many stories that happened on that day and on other days. People can do awful things. We can hurt our loves, bomb each other, scream words of hate, glorify ignorance with bats and cars, ignore a smile of a cashier, be too busy to pay attention to a child.

But we can do beautiful things, too. We can love, and heal; we can put others first, rush to a scene of mayhem, put ourselves in peril on the off chance that we might be able to save a life, get grit out of an eye, give comfort, give a hug. And that… that is what makes people worth it. That is what makes people magic. That is what makes people heroes over and over again.

So, I will remember Ben and Charlie and so many others today. I won’t ignore the hate and pain and sorrow that happens on Sept. 11 or on any day of war or violence, but I choose to remember the good, too. I choose to remember the heroes.