The Poet Who Saw Me – Wednesday Writing Wisdom

When I was a kid at Bates College, I spent a lot of my time feeling like less. My family had been kind of poor after my step-father died. My nana would stand in line to get us big orange blocks of commodity cheese for the week to supplement our $30 grocery budget Every  week my mom would yell at her that we didn’t need that. She always took it.

My mom didn’t answer the phone because she was so afraid of credit card companies calling.  She’d make me do it and lie that she wasn’t there.

I still hate answering the phone, even the cell phone, even when it has caller ID.

Anyway, when I went to college I wanted to forget all that. I wanted to be an intellectual like everyone else. I wanted to have gone to private school in Manhattan or Conneticut, have a summer home in the Hamptons and clothes that weren’t from K-Mart, which was sort of the WalMart equivalent back then, but worse.

I got over all that because I knew it was pretty shallow. What I had a harder time getting over was class issues that had less to do with materialism and more to do with hatred and intellectual history.

In one of my directing classes, one of the sexier straight guys actually announced about Beckett, “People who are not wealthy don’t care about this. A truck driver doesn’t watch public television or listen to NPR. They don’t care, they’re too busy humping and eating and drinking.”

My dad was a truck driver. He watched public television. He listened to NPR. I didn’t want to think about him humping. He ate food. He didn’t drink. His parents had been prohibitionists.

In one of my playwrighting classes the professor announced, “The working people of this country don’t give a shit about nuclear power. They don’t give a shit about a man of color.”

When I was in elementary school my dad would bring him with him to protest the same nuclear power plant that my step dad was helping to build. He helped me try to get New Hampshire to recognize Martin Luther King Day and do a hundred other civil rights things. He cared.

And one of my college friends would love to say, “Carrie is too poor to be pro intellectual.”

He’s a minister now. That still doesn’t make what he said right.

And one of my female poetry teachers told me over and over again, her voice trilling up with her patrician accent, “Carrie, you have the potential to be a poet, but your voice is too raw, not refined, not artistic enough.”

My voice was poor. My cadence was public school. I was not from rich. Every sentence I spoke showed that.

They still do.

Those are just four of the incidents that made me both angry and intimidated and focused, but in the back of my head it just inflamed my self doubt. I could never be a poet because I wasn’t wealthy, private-school educated, my parents weren’t intellectuals. I could never move people with words because my words were too stark and my sentences too short. I would never fit in because I didn’t have the background that most of the other students had.

And then two things happened. I read Sherman Alexie, a not-wealthy Spokane and Coeur d’Alene who despite his issues with women, impacted me positively. Maybe because I never met him.

And I met Seamus Heaney in real life.

Seamus Heaney came to our college at the invitation of Robert Farnsworth, who was an awesome poet and professor. He met with students, he gave a reading and we all got to hang out with him at a reception.

“I can’t go,” I told my boyfriend at the time.

He bit into his pizza. He was always eating pizza. “Why not?”

“Because it’s Seamus Heaney,” I answered staring at the little bits of sausage on the pizza before I plucked them off.

“So?”

“Seamus Heaney!”

“So?”

I didn’t know how to explain. Seamus Heaney was THE poet, the Nobel Prize winner. He was Irish for God’s sake. Those people were gifted with words. They had so many amazing poets… Heaney, Yeats, Wilde, Clarke, Moore. I was from New Hampshire. We had Robert Frost but pretty much every New England state tried to claim him.

Heaney wrote things like:

“A hunger-striker’s father

stands in the graveyard dumb.

The police widow in veils

faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope

on this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

the longed for tidal wave

of justice can rise up,

and hope and history rhyme.”

You will regret it if you don’t go,” my boyfriend said. “I’m going to just be playing Leisure Suit Larry anyway.”

So, I went, as anxious as if I was going on stage myself. Heaney transfixed me with his amazing baritone and bear-like presence. And his words… Of course his words… And when I met him afterwards, I was terrified until he grabbed my hand in his and said, “So you are a poet?”

And I said, “No.”

And all he did was nod and say, “Oh, yes you are.”

But in his eyes was this knowing, this connection, and maybe it wasn’t really there. Maybe I just saw it because I wanted him to understand me, because I wanted someone to get who I was and who I wanted to be. Or maybe not?

I don’t know, but one second later my professor said, “Oh, yes she is. I told you about her. She is like you.”

And then one of them said something about growing up not wealthy and I can’t remember the exact words, but what I do remember is that I finally felt understood. Later, I looked up Seamus Heaney’s past, about how his dad was a farmer and neither of his parents were big on words really, not in the intellectual way that everyone in college seemed to be. I found out that he was like me a little bit not because he was a poet and I was trying so desperately hard to write just one decent poem, but because we were both human, that we both came from humble places, that we both looked in people’s eyes when we said hello.

And that was enough for me. That was enough for me to believe in myself.

Seamus Heaney performed a miracle when I met him. He made me believe that I could be whatever the hell I wanted to be and that it didn’t matter how hard I had to fight or work or not fit in. What mattered was that I wanted the miracle of being a writer, of metamorphosis from Carrie the poor neurotic kid from Bedford, New Hampshire into Carrie Jones, the neurotic best-selling author who lives on the coast of Maine.

He gave hope and miracles in his poems and in his person and I am so thankful for his existence and so sorry for the world’s loss.

“The main thing is to write

for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust

that imagines its haven like your hands at night

dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.

You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.

Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest.”

 

I wrote this post back in 2013 when Seamus Heaney died, but in one of my student packet’s this week, I referenced Heaney and then yesterday I saw this Liam Neeson video (randomly) where he was talking about Heaney, so… there you go. I’ve reposted it.

Here’s Seamus Heaney reading his own poem, “Blackberry Picking.”

 

Do Good Wednesday

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Scary, right?

People are fixing it.

You can help with poetry and kids. These images are from Get Lit’s website and Get Lit is making a difference.

“Get Lit was founded in 2006 after Diane Luby Lane created a one-woman show about the power of words and toured colleges with iconic Chicano poet Jimmy Santiago Baca. After the show closed, she couldn’t bear the thought of cutting off the work completely. She started teaching classic and spoken word poetry in two high schools, Fairfax and Walt Whitman. When the semester ended… the students wouldn’t leave. They insisted on meeting after school. The rest is history. Today, the curriculum has expanded to almost 100 schools, and the Get Lit Players are the most watched poets on the internet. Curriculum requests flow in from Mexico to New Zealand.”

Get Lit “uses poetry to increase literacy, empower youth, and inspire communities.”

Get Lit works – 98% of Get Lit Players go to college, and 70% get scholarships!

Here are Get Lit’s specific needs and how you can get involved.

 

Writing News

Carrie’s  super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

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

 

“Sticks the landing . . . The world building is engaging . . . between the decidedly wonderful residents and the terrifying monsters who plague them.” –  BCCB

 

“Amid the magic, spells, adventure, and weirdness of this fantasy are embedded not-so-subtle life lessons about kindness, friendship, and cooperation.” –  Booklist

 

“A wild and fresh take on fantasy with an intriguing cast of characters. Dangerous and scary and fun all rolled into one. In the words of Eva the dwarf, I freaking loved it!” –  Lisa McMann, New York Times bestselling author of The Unwanteds series

 

“Effervescent, funny, and genuine.” –  Kirkus Reviews

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

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Writing Heroes That Don’t Suck – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast

Who do you root for?

In your own life, this question is easy. We root for ourselves. A lot of the time we root for our friends, our family. We almost always root for the dog. I mean, even in Cujo, the horror-novel by Stephen King where the dog is killing everyone? A lot of us still root for the dog.

But when we write books?

We want to root for the hero. The hero is who we like. The hero is who we admire.

Sometimes though, that’s sort of hard.

There are moments in Harry Potter where we’re rooting for Hermione more than Harry because Harry’s being a butt face, stubborn, sulky and insolent.

But Harry’s a better hero because of that. We can relate to him and find hope in our own hero potential because he is imperfect. If imperfect people can be heroes, so can we.

So can we.

Here’s the truth.

Heroes aren’t perfect. Not in real life. Not in books. And a lot of the time people don’t identify with heroes that are too perfect like Captain America or Superman because their goodness seems so impossible. They’ll prefer Iron Man or Batman because they are flawed and moody or temperamental and snarky. It’s easier to relate to that lack of perfection.

This is not true for Carrie obviously. She’s all Cap all the time because she can relate to being imperfect because of her own self righteousness and savior complexes more than being imperfect because she’s moody, sulky snark. It’s kind of a problem, honestly.

But back to the point. Your hero probably shouldn’t be perfect. Perfection is kind of annoying.

HOW DO YOU WRITE A  HERO WHO ISN’T TYPICAL OR BASICALLY DOESN’T SUCK?

The same way you write everyone else.

Listen

Listen to people other than yourself, how they talk, how they think. Use your empathy to understand their character and then steal some of those traits and motivations for your own hero.

Tweak

Tweak the trope. Sure you have archetypes of messiahs/warriors/matriarchs/mystics, but go beyond the trope when you’re making your hero. She might be like Xena the Warrior Princess, but she can have a goofy Whose That Girl side like Jess. Give your ‘mystic’ trope a ‘matriarch’ profession like a lawyer or judge.

 

Think

Think about your own heroes – the ones in real life. What do they do that isn’t all that heroic? Talk with their mouth full? Wipe their boogers on the edge of the seat of the car? Use that.

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Dog Tip For Life

When you let go of your need to be the perfect puppy all the time, you get to chill out a little bit more. Chilling out is good for your heart.

Writing Tip of the Cast

We all want to be perfect. We aren’t. Our heroes shouldn’t be either.

Here’s the link to this week’s podcast all about this! And more…

 

 

WRITING NEWS

Carrie’s back from Book Expo America and super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.

This middle grade fantasy series happens in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine and it’s all about friendship and magic and kids saving their magical town.

It’s quirky. It’s awesome. It’s full of heart. You should go by the first two books now. 🙂

CARRIE’S BOOKS

For a complete round-up of Carrie’s 16-or-so books, check out her website. And if you like us, or our podcast, or just want to support a writer, please buy one of those books, or leave a review on a site like Amazon. Those reviews help. It’s all some weird marketing algorhthym from hell, basically.

OUR PODCAST

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips.

We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can.

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

xo

Shaun and Carrie, Sparty, Gabby and Marsie (the honorary cat-dog)

Dogs are Smarter Than People the podcast
Gabby is not a perfect dog

We love her any way.

The Time Security Got on my Airplane and I Accidentally Exit The Plane

So, the traveling to Toronto saga continues here. I’m so sorry it’s taking so long to tell! I am actually at Book Expo America in New York today and not in Toronto at all.

I miss Toronto.

 

 

 Grover says: Carrie is very long winded! 

Thanks, Grover. Nice. So, on the airplane from Philadelphia to Toronto I once again score a Row 1 seat! Yay! The flight attendant guy is made of awesome. He’s really nice and funny and kind of cute. His name was Ahmad, I think. Anyways Ahmad is totally rocking the flight and we’re almost there when I notice Ahmad seems a bit – how do I say this – stressed?

 Grover: This is what I look like when I am stressed.

Fortunately, he doesn’t look like that, Grover. He was still cute and in control. I want to ask him if he’s okay, but I don’t get the chance and so I do what any self-respecting writer would do. I watch him as he watches a very specific part of the airplane as we land. I watch him once we land and he picks up the phone and talks to the airport terminal.

And I hear snippets of the conversation because I am super snoopy…..

It was in her seatback.
She said it wasn’t hers.
She also wouldn’t put her seat back in the upright position. I asked multiple times. She refused.
7A

The guy next to me and I give each other big eyes. The guy next to me is nice. He also looks like he’d be good in a brawl. I suddenly like him very much and decide that nice man next to me is an asset on this flight.

So, then Ahmad says on the loudspeaker. “I am so sorry to inconvenience all of you, but we’re going to have to wait to disembark until Security comes on the plan to deal with one passenger.”

Some people moan. I think I may squee because I know something that most people don’t realize: The special TSA/Security airport guys are incredible hot. And Toronto seems to have the hottest of them all.  And I know this is a totally immature response because we could have been in trouble or something, but the lady probably was smuggling some pot or something, and you have to understand the hot-i-tude factor. Plus, I know Ahmed has things under control and he has nice-guy-next-to-me for back-up in case the Security/Whatever-TSA-is-called-in-Canada has issues.

 Grover: Were they as hot as I am when I dress up like a doctor and put on these glasses? 

Almost, Grover. Almost.

So, because of my PRIME SEAT in 1D, I get to stare at the Security guys and they smile at me! Swoon! And then they decide to let us disembark, but horrible 7A lady gets upset so I am the only one who actually gets to follow directions and scoot out of the plane, propelled forward by the hand of one of the hot Security guys. I scoot under his arm pit and head up the ramp all by myself! I was the only one who got off right away! How cool is that?

I am ridiculously lucky because:
1. I actually got off a plane first and that never happens
2. Hot man touched me
3. I got a whole story about it.

Yay!

The only thing that would be better was if she hadn’t had anything illegal and she got in so much trouble JUST FOR NOT PUTTING HER SEAT BACK INTO THE UPRIGHT POSITION. Seriously? How awesome would that be? Because I swear, every time I’m on an airplane, the person in front of me does that.

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

 

Positive Salsa – Cooking With A Writer

The man looked at the avocado.

“You are trying to kill me,” he said.

“You’re not allergic to avocado. That’s your brother,” I said.

He glared.

“Avocados aren’t going to kill you,” I said. “This is positive salsa. Did you know that if you think positively, you will feel better about this salsa?”

He harrumphed.

Salsa – Avocado Style

This is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Recipe

  • 3 whole avocados (If using Maine avocados, which are tiny, you honestly might want to use 4)
  • 1 cup tomatoes (diced)
  • .5 cup onions (diced)
  • .5 cup cucumbers (diced)
  • .5 cup red peppers (diced)
  • .25 cup lime juice
  • .25 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp cilantro
  • .5 tsp cayenne pepper
  1. Look. Dicing is hard. You’ve diced it all up, right? Good.

  2. Combine every single thing in that list in the bowl. DO NOT SECOND GUESS YOURSELF! YOU HAVE THIS. 

    Stir it.

  3. Leave it alone for 10 minutes. 

  4. Eat it. 

Man Verdict: Carrie hates me.

Dog Verdict: YOU CAN EAT THIS WITH TORTILLA CHIPS! WE LOVE TORTILLA CHIPS!

Carrie Verdict: This is the best food. Ever.

Book Expo America

I will be at BEA tomorrow, Friday, from 11:30 to noon at the Lerner Booth. I will look like I am from Maine. Come hang out!

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

Time Stoppers’s third book comes out this summer. It’s been called a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but with heart. It takes place in Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. I need to think of awesome ways to promote it because this little book series is the book series of my own middle grade heart. Plus, I wrote it for the Emster. Plus, it is fun.

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DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Why I Need A Bodyguard

So a couple of years ago, I went to Toronto to the INDIGO TEEN READS AWARDS, which were beyond awesome.

And I am traveling again to Book Expo America this week, so I’m rehashing how bad I am about these things.

FIRST PART OF CRAZINESS BEGINS NOW IN PRESENT TENSE EVEN THOUGH IT WAS AGES AGO

So I drive through the dark and fog to the Bangor, Maine airport. Thanks to the super MINI COOPER of AWESOME, I make it there alive despite all this crazy road construction and the fact that I’m technically still asleep because it’s before 6 a.m.  Anyone who knows me understands that I am technically asleep at any time before noon. I may talk to you. I may drive a car. I may get on an airplane, but I am still asleep.

Bangor is the home of Stephen King.
 This is his house of awesome creepy gateness.

Bangor is also really cute and the airport is adorable. One guy flying into it said in this great Southern accent, “Good Lord, the airport is a double wide!”
The whole plane laughed.
But that was later.

For right now you have to imagine a sleep-zombie Carrie shuffling and smiling through the airport.

NOTE: I am genetically wired to smile all the time. I swear, it is a sickness.

So anyways, I shuffle in and go through TSA and their xray machines. I take out my laptop. I take off my shoes. I smile. I grab my stuff and I go.

I decide to go to the restroom so I can comb my hair because it’s all tangled and still kind of wet.  Three minutes of trying to focus at the mirror and then I’m done. I shuffle outside. A TSA guy is coming round the corner.

He actually bounces up on his feet and points at me. “You!”

I stagger backwards and point at my heart. “Me?”

Another three guys come around corners and I think, “Oh my gosh! Am I some sort of high-powered terrorist and I didn’t even know? Is there a Carrie Jones out there who is on the no-fly list or something! Or maybe they actually noticed that my hair is still all wet and tangled and they don’t allow sleep zombies on the plane! Horror! Horror!”

But then I notice that one of the guys is holding my laptop like it’s a sacred object. He presents it to me saying, “You forgot this.”

And that is why the Bangor Airport is made of awesome. It’s awesome because the people in it are kind when you forget the only tool of your trade. It’s awesome because it’s not so massive and big that people forget you are human. It’s awesome because people know that being in an airport and out of your own comfort zone is a little scary sometimes and confusing sometimes and they don’t judge you for that; they almost love you for that.

I wish everywhere was like that.

I wish everyone was like those TSA guys.

I wish everyone had the privilege that I get because I am a really unthreatening white woman with a Muppet voice and whose default face is to smile at everyone.

But, yeah, I basically need a bodyguard so that she/he could:
  1. Tell me when I’m about to forget my computer.
  2. Tell me that the TSA agents are not coming after me because I’m getting in trouble.
  3. Help me untangle my hair, honestly.
If you would like to see me in unsuitable clothes, check out Book Expo America on Friday, June 1 from 11:30 to noon.  I’ll be there with a spy who was also a catcher. 🙂

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. There was a new episode yesterday all about weirdness, writing, living, and laughing too much while podcasting.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

This website talks about state-level advocacy on immigration issues. You can get in touch with your state organizations and find out what you can do to help create the country you want.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

1. Call your elected representatives.

2. Learn more about the actual law at  the Informed Immigrant website

3. Support ActBlue Charities initiative to Support Kids at the Border or Support The Young Center for Immigrant and Children’s RightsUnited We Dream, KIND: Kids in Need of Defense, Lutheran Immigration Services

4.Donate to the ACLU  and/or sign its petition to Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and US Border Protection.

Writers, Be Simple – Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast, Episode 18

We’ve all heard the statistics:

  1. Writers take ten years to get their first novel published, on average
  2. The average children’s book writer makes 5k a year, if she’s lucky.
  3. If you are a writer for a living, you will starve.

Some writers will sell you their books about how you can be a thriving artist versus a starving artist as if there is this dichotomy between the two, an either or situation.

Life isn’t that simple.

Here are the Three First Steps To Being A Writer, MADE AS SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE

You write the story you want to write.

You hone it and craft it until it’s the best story you can make it.

You send it to agents and editors or self publish it.

That’s it.

That’s how you become published.

You might make a ton of money. You might not. One book might make $500. One book might make $100,000.

It’s not the easiest thing to control, but what you can control is whether or not you’re lonely.

That you can battle.

You can create an in-person writing group or an online group, but if you are lonely in your writing life, YOU CAN ABSOLUTELY make friends, form a pack.

Writers. Loneliness. Tips to make a writing group

Writing Tip of the Pod

How do you form a writing group?
Here’s four easy steps:

 

  1. Decide the goal of your writing group – Support? Accountability? Critique
  2. Figure out when, where, and how often you want to meet.
  3. Invite a few people. Three to five is a good starting number.
  4. Find a way to communicate in between meetings that works for everyone. Facebook? Email? You get to decide.

Dog Tip for life

It’s okay to want a pack to roam with, to howl with. It can even include cats.

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The link to the podcast file is here! Or here on iTunes!

Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow.

xo

Shaun and Carrie, Sparty, Gabby and Marsie (the honorary cat-dog)

Memorial Day

 

My step-dad never talked about his service in World War II. He was a quiet man with an easy laugh. He was the kind of man who always could do anything. That’s how it seemed to me. He hardly ever cried, hardly ever got mad. He liked fishing and building. He liked coffee and cigarettes and steamers. He loved his family and his friends and his boat.

He wasn’t the kind of man who cried.

I saw him do it twice. The first time was when his brother died. The second time was on Memorial Day.

We were at a parade. The veterans were marching. He never marched with them. I don’t know why. A high school band was playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was holding my dad’s hand and all of a sudden he let go. My hand dangled empty. He turned away, took three steps back from the crowd of the road, and faced the buildings.

“Daddy?”

He pressed his fingers into his eyelids. He nodded once. “What sweetie?”

“Are you okay?”

He wiped his eyes just once with the back of his hand. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Are you sad?”

He half-shrugged. “A little bit.”

I’d only just really learned what the Memorial Day parade was about. From school I knew it was about soldiers who died in war. I knew my dad had been in a war, a big war. I made the connection.

“Did you have soldier friends who died?” I asked.

“A lot, baby. A lot.”

Our fingers found each other. We walked back to the crowd.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Me too.”

 

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of the summer vacation season. It’s more than a day off of work and school. Memorial Day is about the friends, husbands, wives, lovers, children, brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home.

We all know that.

We need to know that for more than just today.

I met a great guy from Otis back in 2008. He had a cane. He had a dog. I am a sucker for dogs. We talked about how on the Otis Town Report there are pictures of soldiers from Otis who are currently serving. His son served. He’s an Air Force recruiter now and his dad, the man I talked to, the nice man with the sweet smile, the can, and the beautiful dog, he served in Vietnam.

“It’s better for the soldiers coming home now,” he said. “I think people are finally getting it.”

I’m glad for that. I’m really glad but should it have taken 30 years for people to get it?

Men and women have died in service to our country. Men and women continue to die in service to our country. Those deaths mean more than a parade, more than a work-free/school-free day. Those deaths mean a lot. Not all those soldiers were perfect or saints, but all of them gave their lives for something bigger. All of them sacrificed.

For years I’ve watched the veterans throw a wreath off of the bridge in downtown Ellsworth. When I was a reporter, I even took pictures of it. The wreath? It floats away, down the Union River. It makes me remember the parade with my step-dad and how suddenly my dad let go. There I was, fingers dangling, hand empty, wondering.

But that wreath floating down the river is not really gone. None of those soldiers are gone. My dad, who died of a heart attack when I was in sixth grade, isn’t gone either, nor are his friends. Every one of them has touched our lives somehow. Every sacrifice has to keep being remembered. There are so many heroes from Hancock County, Maine, and from all over this country.

There are more and more all the time.

It’s important to notice the bad that happens, the evil that people do, but it’s just as important to celebrate the good that people are capable, the sacrifices (small and large) that we are also capable of. The empathy. The love. The selflessness.

When you are a military mom, like I am, Memorial Day becomes even more poignant. It’s a day where Americans are meant to remember military members that we lost in war, the people who sacrificed their lives for the ideals and Constitution of this country.

At Emily’s basic training graduation at Fort Jackson last year, the speaker, talked about how that made a difference, how in the United States the military isn’t about serving the leader of the country, but about the Constitution of the country and the people of the country. And for me, Memorial Day, is a reminder of those we’ve lost, those we might soon lose, but also about the ability of people to put others above their own selves, to come together as a country, and to serve the ideals of that country, so incredibly selflessly.

Book Expo America is Coming and I have Nothing to Wear

So, I have to go to Book Expo America at the end of this week. If you are not some official publishing person you’re probably like, “What is Book Expo America?” It’s this big huge massive (insert another large-sounding adjective here) industry thing where there are:

1. Publishers
2. Authors
3. Book sellers
4. Publicists

And almost all of them are well dressed.

There is the issue! I am from Maine…. Okay, I live in Northern Maine. How northern? When people from Glamour Magazine came up here to do a photo shoot with Megan Kelley Hall and myself (for our Dear Bully anthology) they made us DRESS IN LL BEAN CLOTHES!!!!!

Yes, even Glamour knew that it is not glamorous up here.

Sigh.

Megan still looked good. Me? The hair stylist/make-up person kept complaining about my hair, and how my nose turned red in the cold, and I felt so badly for her because she was used to super models or My Little Pony (really – she was the stylist for My Little Pony) and then she got stuck with me.

Anyway, I was thinking about BEA and authors who are always beautiful and poised and funny and lovely. And I have decided I need to somehow magically channel these authors at BEA so I don’t look like a hick from Maine or like, you know, I’ve never actually interacted with other actual human beings before.

But pretty much everything in my wardrobe has paint stains on it, holes, or long white dog fur.

She always blames me. There are lint rollers out there for a reason. Geesh.

I basically come across as either an eccentric old-money professor or homeless.

You may think I have no reason to be panicky, but I’m going to repost what happened to me the last time I went to BEA, and maybe you’ll understand.

ONCE AGAIN FOR THOSE WHO MISSED IT BEFORE – HERE IS THE HORRIBLE INCIDENT OF ME AT BEA LAST TIME (Taken from the original blog post of horror):

So, yep, I had my skirt fall off (YES! PAST MY KNEES!) when I got out of the taxi today!  Oh, Britney…oh Lindsey…oh Paris… I so feel your pain. Fortunately, there were no paparrazzi, just my cab driver (His eyes got really big) and a father with his eight-year-old son (WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!). They were standing right there, waiting for the taxi. The little boy gasped! GASPED!!!! I have marred him for life.

I then realized I should not be let out of Maine.

So I started yanking my skirt up with my hand while trying to:
a. Pay taxi driver guy
b. not die
c. juggle three massive bags full of ARCS
d. not worry about that little boy’s therapy bills.

It was then that I realized that hotel security cameras probably totally caught the skirt fall action.

I thanked God (and pretty much every potential deity in existence) that I am not famous and therefore not worthy enough to have the skirt DISASTER image blasted all over the internet.

I then hid in the hotel room, vowing never to come out again.

So, yeah. I don’t want that to happen again.

If you would like to see me in unsuitable clothes, check out the Lerner Booth on Friday, June 1 from 11:30 to noon.  I’ll be there with a spy who was also a catcher. 🙂

My Post copy 6

 

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog .  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

“It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn “

And more about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are Smarter Than People, the podcast
Look, Mom! It’s a podcast.

Children Shouldn’t Be Lost

I am currently involved with this quote and I’m trying to think about how Zara (the main character in my NEED series) would react to it.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Teddy Roosevelt, former U.S. President.

While I have very mixed feelings about Mr. Roosevelt, I am obsessed with this quote and it obviously can apply to any venture, writing, acting, working, relationships.

And it applies to our own lives, the ones we live every singe day.

And then I think about all the people in parts of the world, about all the people in my own country, the people who are often unseen, and the ones who are invisible, and how for some the act of living, the act of surviving,  is the biggest arena and triumph of all.

But maybe our biggest triumph of all? It would be to help them, to see them, to know what’s happening.

When I was a kid learning about the Holocaust, the scenes and stories that always broke my soul where the ones where kids were wrenched apart from their parents, their mothers, the fathers. The ache of that? The sudden shock of that? It was too much for my heart to handle just reading it. How does a heart handle it in real life.

And this is happening now in other places in the world.

And this is happening now in the U.S. with kids whose parents have immigrated here illegally.

There are links here and here.

Both those links are about children being abused by U.S. Border Agents. Here is one about the almost 1,500 missing children, lost by our government.

Yes, you can argue that in the United States when you break a law you don’t get to live with your kids anymore, that everyone in prison is separated from their family and children.

And I would argue that those children weren’t usually sent to strangers. And I would argue that those children don’t usually go missing because the individual states handle their cases.

And you might say ‘the law is the law.” And I would say that Hitler said that, too. The law is the law. But sometimes? Laws are unjust. And sometimes? Laws need to be changed. And sometimes we need to remember what it is to be human, to have hearts, and to care.

We are not perfect people, but we can’t afford to just criticize policy and behavior. We have to act valiantly, to promote our beliefs, and our ideals, and our morals. Doing good, caring, that is valiant.

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY ON A SATURDAY.

I was originally going to publish this on Wednesday, but I decided it can’t wait. I’ll repost it then, too. 

This website talks about state-level advocacy on immigration issues. You can get in touch with your state organizations and find out what you can do to help create the country you want.

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

1. Call your elected representatives.

2. Learn more about the actual law at  the Informed Immigrant website

3. Support ActBlue Charities initiative to Support Kids at the Border or Support The Young Center for Immigrant and Children’s RightsUnited We Dream, KIND: Kids in Need of Defense, Lutheran Immigration Services

4.Donate to the ACLU  and/or sign its petition to Kevin McAleenan, the commissioner of Customs and US Border Protection.

 

So, you want to be a bad writer, come sit down.

Bad writers, gather around. I see that you’re already glaring at each other and/or looking at your phone in an attempt to avoid human contact.

Beautiful.

You’re off to such a terrific start.

Welcome to the five-stop HOW TO BE A BAD WRITER program. Yes, we have placed you in your natural environment, a coffee shop, because we couldn’t all fit on a bed or couch. I’m sorry if you aren’t comfy enough. Ready?

Let’s begin.

Easy Ways To Be A Bad Writer

Care Only About You

That’s right. Your readers don’t matter. Writing isn’t actual communication between the writer and reader. It’s just you. You are all that matters.

No empathy allowed.

Assume Everyone Thinks The Same Way You Do and Has The Same Experiences

That’s right. Every single character in your book and in the world in an ISTP on the Myers-Briggs personality scale just like you are. They react to things the same way you do. Mm-hm. So, if you reference a dooryard, they are just going to get it. If you never get harassed by the police because you are a white, wealthy guy, that’s how it always is. Mm…

Do not have empathy, bad writers! Again. No empathy allowed.

Expect Everyone to Give You Everything You Want.

The first time anyone reads your rough draft that you finished last night, they are going to give you:

  1. A book contract
  2. A movie contract
  3. A hug
  4. Unlimited praise and fan-mail
  5. A jet
  6. A fully paid worldwide publicity tour.

Bad writer, you deserve this. You shouldn’t have to revise. Revising is for wimps and good writers and people with empathy. To hell with that and them.

Rant at Every Opportunity.

Someone gives you a bad review? Who is this cretin? Does he not recognize genius? Immediately rant and escalate the situation and call your minions down upon he who dared to suggest your ending was not resonating enough and that you should learn the difference between your and you’re.

Unleash the Kraken. The Kraken has no empathy and no chill, either.

Blow Everyone Off

Social media is communication? Whatever. Not for you. Social media is just where you blast everyone with your book promotions and self-indulgent I AM AWESOME posts. Never say thank you. Never communicate back. You’re an author not a communicator, right?

Right.

Secret Superheroes

WRITING NEWS

Yep, it’s the part of the blog where I talk about my books and projects because I am a writer for a living, which means I need people to review and buy my books or at least spread the word about them.

I’m super good at public image and marketing for nonprofits but I have a much harder time with marketing myself.

So, please buy one of my books. 🙂 The links about them are all up there in the header on top of the page on my website carriejonesbooks.blog.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

 

Write! Submit! Support! Begins Again in July!

 

It’s not easy to create a thriving writing career in the children’s industry, but what if you didn’t have to do it alone? Write. Submit. Support is a six-month program designed by author and Writing Barn Founder Bethany Hegedus. Classes are led by top creatives in the children’s industry field; they’ll give you the tips and tools you need to take both your manuscripts and your developing career to the next level. Think of it as an MFA in craft with a certificate in discovering (or recovering) your writer joy! – Writing Barn 

More about the class I specifically teach? It is right here.

Here is what current students are saying:

Carrie is all strengths. Seriously. She’s compassionate, funny, zesty, zany, insightful, honest, nurturing, sharp, and…Wow, that’s a lot of adjectives. But really, I couldn’t praise Carrie enough as a mentor. I’ve long respected her writing, but being talented at something doesn’t automatically mean you will be a great mentor. Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching. Aside from the specific feedback she offers, she also writes letters in response to the process letter and analyses. These letters have been so impactful for me as I writer that I plan to print them and hang them up. Creepy? Maybe. But they are so inspiring. And that, in the most long-winded way possible, is how I would summarize Carrie as a mentor—inspiring.

Dogs Are Smarter Than People

And finally, the podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along. Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of.

Dogs are smarter than people - the podcast, writing tips, life tips, quirky humans, awesome dogs
The podcast of awesome