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.

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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

 

No Stress Vegetarian Quesadillas

So, I’ve been super stressed out lately – not in an anxiety way, but more of a “Oh My Freaking Word I have no time” way.

Which is never fun. So I needed a really fast vegetarian recipe that didn’t have:

  1. Spinach
  2. Avocado
  3. Tomatoes

Why? Because Mr. Meat Lover hates those things. Me? I love them, but whatever.

So… I decided to make corn and black bean quesadillas. It’s quick.

The end.

 

Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas of No Stress

For the stressed-out writer with no time

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 TBSP onion (diced)
  • 1 can black beans (15 oz or so, drained)
  • 1 can whole corn (drain this bad boy, too)
  • 1 TBSP brown sugar (yum)
  • .25 cup salsa (pretend salsa isn't made from tomatoes)
  • 2 TBSP butter (split in half)
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 1.5 cup shredded cheese (cheddar, jack or a mix)
  1. Writer, you have no time. I get it. Big breath. Get read to cook

  2. Get saucepan. Do not drop it because of nerves. It is okay. 

    Put burner on medium.

    Pour oil into saucepan.

    Step back.  

  3. You can do this. You have deadlines. You have kids. You have pets. You have yourself and life is moving too fast but it is totally okay, writer.

    Stir in onion.

    It takes about 2 minutes to soften.

    No. Two minutes is NOT too much time.

    Calm down.

  4. See? Two minutes have passed. 

    Stir in corn.

    Stir in beans.

    Stir in sugar, salsa, and pepper flakes if you feel like them. Like 1/4 tsp.

    Curse me out for not putting that in the directions.

    Cook for 3 minutes, which is how long it takes to heat.

    THREE MINUTES IS NOT TOO MUCH TIME! AUTHOR! CALM DOWN!

  5. Yes,  you’re write. Yelling at you doesn’t help. You have frayed nerves. You have emotion. You have deadlines. 

    Repeat after me, “It will all be okay. It will all be okay.”

    Get a big skillet. Put on medium heat. Melt a little of the butter in there. 

  6. Put a tortilla in the skillet.

    Sprinkle cheese over it.

    Top with bean mix from other pan.

    Put tortilla on top.

    Cook until it’s a nice gold, like a medal you will win for your writing. It is even round like a medallion! Wow quesadillas are awesome.

    Once it is gold on one side, flip it, cook until it is GOLD on both sides.

    Do this for all the tortillas. You may need more butter.

    But you did it, writer, no stress! 

 

Man Verdict: I love this. Salsa does not count as tomatoes

Dog Verdict: Yum

Carrie Verdict: Salsa is MADE of tomatoes usually.

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!

There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.

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.

Look. Lying is Bad for Your Health and Authors Stink At It, No Matter What “Experts” Say

Seriously.

I know people lie all the time. I know these people get powerful, get fame, get money, get whatever… I know that their lies are there to shelter them, protect them, because they are afraid that their past mistakes or inadequacies  will make people love them. Or just because they are ashamed of what they’ve done and who they are.

I know that we all do it.

That we all lie.

Sometimes.

I’m not talking about the white lies where you tell someone their butt looks good when it doesn’t.

I’m talking about the lies we create to try to dig ourselves out of humiliating experiences. You know what I mean right? When you mess up on your job. When you mess up in your book. When you mess up in your relationship.

Those kinds of lies.

Lying makes you sick. It makes your heart sick. It makes your body sick. I don’t want you to be sick.

I knew a man who was in an insufferable marriage. Before you judge, just know it was bad. He had an affair and then he had eczema, terrible eczema. He finally divorced his wife and the eczema was gone. Yes, correlation doesn’t always equal causation. I get that. But I also get that lying messes us up.

According to an article in the Atlantic, people lie about 11 times every week. It’s no wonder we as a society have forgotten what truth is, right? We lie an average of 572 times a year. And sometimes, telling the truth is seen as the act of the unsophisticated.

Yeah. I am not cool with that. I’m not cool with lying to get ahead or lying to get out of trouble or lying so that your public persona seems better than it is. Because I know that lying hurts your insides. I want your insides to feel good, darn it.

In Gunderman’s story for the Atlantic, he writes:

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame followed 110 people over a period of ten weeks. Half of the participants were asked to stop lying over this period of time, and the other half were not. Both groups took weekly polygraph tests to determine how many times they had lied in the previous week. Those who were able to reduce by three the number of lies they told had four fewer mental health complaints (such as feeling tense) and three fewer physical health complaints (such as headaches) than those who did not.

So how do you not lie?

  1. Sign an ethics agreement with yourself.
  2. Avoid conflicts of interest
  3. Realize that if you lose your job, or mess up big-time, people can and still love you. They’ll relate to you because it’s happened to them, too. And if they can’t? If your act of imperfection is unforgivable to them, then move on honestly. It will be better for you in the long run.
  4. For some people writing down the Ten Commandments or similar articles of behavior is a reminder to be honest and helps prevent dishonesty.
  5. Don’t pick a job or a lifestyle or a relationship that rewards dishonesty and encourages it. Here’s an old story about that with Wells Fargo.

Lying and Writing

The perception is that all writers are liars. We construct these fictional worlds that aren’t truth. Therefore we must be lying, right? We must be suffering from the same health effects that liars-in-real-life do.

Yeah. No.

Writers create entire worlds. Yes. We fabricate details. Yes. We make people up. Yes.

But we aren’t experts in lying. We’re experts in truth.

“Wait… What…?” you’re probably saying.

But here’s the thing. Writers create worlds. But we create worlds out of truths. We put in key details. We focus on being believable. But what we’re doing is using art to tell the truths of our own stories, of the world’s stories, which is the truth of people’s stories and existence.

The best writers are the best truth tellers because their story matters to them. The depth of what they’re writing about (grief, racism, oppression, love, justice) is the truth that needs to come out of their soul. That’s the opposite of lying.

So, go write. If you’re writing your inner truth? That’s only going to lift you up.

Do Good Wednesday

Make a pact with yourself to tell the truth as much as you can. It’s that simple.

 

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 Podcast – First Drafts Suck, But It’s Okay

Hard writer truth time:

First drafts suck.

Almost everything stinks the first time you do it. That’s because it’s THE FIRST time you do it. But, we tend to expect to have our writing be perfect somehow.

Why?

Guitarists don’t expect to be Mark Knopffler the moment they pick up a guitar. Singers don’t expect to be Norah Jones the first time they sing. Sculptors don’t expect to be Michelangelo.

Here’s the Thing:

Being good takes practice.

And even if you’ve written 100 novels already? There is a high likelihood that your first draft of your next novel? It’s going to suck.

But it’s not the end of the world. The end of the world is when you give up.

So, how do you make your sucky first draft better?

Think about it.

 

How to Get Past Your crappy first draft. Three secret ways to write better
You can do it

WRITER TIP OF THE POD

You want to make that first draft a better second draft? Think of these three things to start off right.

  1. Think about what your character wants more than anything in the world. Make sure you have that in your story.
  2. Think about what your character would never do – not ever. Revise your story so that this becomes a high moment of tension, of possibility.
  3. Add tension to every page. EVERY PAGE!

DOG TIP FOR LIFE!

Sometimes, it’s hard to catch the ball in your mouth, especially the first time. Try again anyways. Once you do it right, you get the ball… in your mouth! Score!

Dog Tip for Life
Dog Tip for Life

 

Dogs Are Smarter Than People Podcast – First Drafts Suck, But It’s Okay

 
 
00:00 / 00:14:56
 
1X
 

It’s okay to wander in life.

At the Abbe Museum Indian Market yesterday, it was about artists and bringing attention to the Wabanaki heritage and culture.

That’s what the Abbe Museum is all about.

The event though? It also created connections as people exchanged snippets of their lives and stories with each other.

One artist showed a old photo in a book to a guest. “It’s this picture. She’s right here.”

“Yes! It’s my grandmother’s niece.”

There was a moment of nodding, smiling and the artist asked the man on the other side of the table, “Are you a writer?”

“Nah, just a regular person wandering around today,” he said.

“Oh, that’s what we all always are, isn’t it?”

His smile grew bigger and they shared a silence.

Sometimes when you hear real truths? There are no other words.

I hope that your Monday and your week is full of truths and big realizations of wandering around and being regular and being real.

Here are some photos I took:

Molly Neptune
Molly Neptune
Geo Neptune
Geo Neptune
JJ
Molly

What does it mean to be a regular wandering person? What does it mean to find your own truths? It means you aren’t defining yourself by your job, your labels, other people’s expectations.

It means you are being and existing and observing without definitions.

It means that you are drawing in experiences to use later if you’re a writer or an artist or a person who interacts with others.

When we live our biggest lives, when we wander and experience? We learn, not just about other people but also about ourselves.

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

Gabby the Dog is so into that and I am, too.

 

As writers, we try to create emotional truths in our readers. We try to make them feel and understand life and story through our characters.

Here are a couple things to remember when you’re writing fiction:

  1. Thoughts lead to feelings.
  2. Saying “I am so sad,” doesn’t really make us readers feel sad. But showing us how a woman feels the cold side of the bed. A name comes into her head. She reaches out her hand. The bed is still cold. She hugs a pillow, clutching it to her. . . . That can show us more than ‘sad,’ it can show us ‘sad-lonely.”
  3. Emotional truths in our story are the truths that resonate with us. They are the things that hurt us deeply, lift us up. Things we are passionate about. Remember your passion, your beliefs, when you write. It will help inform those truths.

 

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!

There is a quick webinar (free) on Tuesday about the Write! Submit! Support! class that was created at the Writing Barn in Austin. You can sign up for that here.

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.

Make Your Setting Kick Butt

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of writing where setting is just… Well, it’s missing.

You begin a chapter and there are just these talking heads and you’re not quite sure where they actually are.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

 

And the reader is like, “Cool. They have Coke. They are upset. But where are they? Are they floating in the ether? Are they in Newark? I just don’t know.”

So the first rule of creating a kick butt setting for chapters or scenes in your book is:

Actually have a setting.

I know! I know! This seems obvious.

It is not obvious.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John had in his dorm room.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Make the Setting Somewhere Cool if you can

A lot of stories have scenes around a dining room table.

There are places in the world that aren’t dining room tables. It’s okay to have a domestic scene in a bathroom, a bedroom, a basement. It’s okay to make the dining room cool. It’s okay to make the dining room a couch.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Think about Theme and Mood

If your book is about misery make your settings reflect that. If your book is about displacement, do that, too.

 

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper. It was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

Remember Detail

Depth and intricacy aren’t swear words. The Belles, a newish YA novel does such a fantastic job of having setting become part of and enhance the story. J.K. Rowling? Same thing. Give yourself a moment to really breathe and live in the place that your characters are breathing and living in.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper. It was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said, shutting the door. There were stickers all over it, declaring, “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK” or “FREE TIBET,” or “HEGEMONY NOW.” Some of the stickers were peeling off at the edges, like they were trying to escape the actual refrigerator door, but they couldn’t. They were stuck.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.”

“Seriously.”

 

Study Old Books

The Charles Dickens’ and Brontes of this world were masters at making you live inside the settings. Don’t copy them, but pull out one of those old books where time was spent creating the stage. Roots was a book that always felt real to me. Color Purple, too. The Bluest Eye.

Find a book where you feel like you live in the place and study a paragraph or two and try to determine how the authors make you see that world.

 

Use Your Senses and Your Symbols

Setting isn’t just visual. It’s smell. It’s the feel of the air on your skin. It’s a million things all combined. The symbols and objects that create your place also reflect the story. Think how Twilight was rainy and dark, foreboding with its trees as opposed to Bella’s original sunny south.

Chapter One of Book Of Pretend

I grabbed a Coke out of the mini fridge that John kept in the back of his MINI Cooper and shut it fast. Broccoli smelled rolled into the air, sickening and heavy.

The mini fridge was crammed into the backseat somehow. I have no idea how he even kept it charged. Nothing made sense about it being there, but then again, nothing about John ever made sense.

“I am so upset with you,” I said, shutting the door. There were stickers all over it, declaring, “MEAN PEOPLE SUCK” or “FREE TIBET,” or “HEGEMONY NOW.” Some of the stickers were peeling off at the edges, like they were trying to escape the actual refrigerator door, but they couldn’t. They were stuck.

“I’m more upset,” he said.

“No way in heck.” I popped the top of the Coke. The click and fizz of it satisfied me more than this conversation ever could.

“Seriously.” John swallowed hard.

I met his eyes.

He looked away and slammed the door of the MINI shut before leaning across the top of it, hiding his head in his arms.

The rotten broccoli smell somehow got worse. Gagging, I took a swig of the Coke, forcing it down.

Now, go back up and read the first pretend excerpt again. It’s a totally different story, isn’t it? It’s weird because I’m weird, but it’s better.

My Post-40WRITING NEWS

I’ll be at Book Expo America on June 1 at the Lerner booth from 11:30-12.

There’s a free information and inspiration session from  Write! Submit! Support!, a six-month intensive program through the Writing Barn.

It’s a one-day only thing just to hang out and learn about the program. I swear! No weirdness involved at all. More info is here.

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.

51YDGwoXfXL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Time Stoppers Book Two! Out in paperback this August! 

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.

Cooking With a Writer – RAH! MAN! Ramen with Miso and Roasted Vegetables

Sometimes, I have days when I want to scream, “RAH!!!” Today is like that.

This is for a bunch of reasons including someone saying, “Wow. You look tired.”

Me:

Me: Thanks? I am?

Anyway, as you know, I’m trying to convince the household to eat less meat. The household is stubborn.

Me: Hey! We’re having Ramen tonight.

The Man: RAH! MAN! RAH! I MAN! I EAT RAMEN!

Me: 

Dogs run off.

Man beats chest.

Me: Who even are you?

Man: I ate ramen forever. I was raised on ramen. I love ramen. Where are the spice packs?

Me: No! No! We aren’t using the spice packs. Those have animal byproducts.

Man: Why must you ruin all that is holy?

Ramen

I was sad when I was making this recipe. You can tell.

  • 3 TBSP vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 whole onion (any color, but yellow is best here)
  • 1 big leek
  • 5 cloves garlic (chopped or minced)
  • 1 3-inch ginger (peeled, chopped)
  • 1 oz dried mushrooms (preferably shiitake)
  • 1 lb sweet potato (peeled, chopped)
  • 1 whole head garlic (NO VAMPIRES HERE, BABY)
  • 1 lb shitake mushroom (cleaned, sliced)
  • soy or tamari sauce (to taste)
  • 1.5 lb ramen noodles (fresh if possible)
  • .25 cup miso (white or yellow kind)
  • 5 green onions (chopped to look pretty)
  1. Find a large saucepan, empty it of your tears and put it on medium-high heat.

  2. Put 2 tablespoons of oil in that saucepan. Get it so it isn’t cold, like the heart of villain.

  3. Realize it’s really your heart that’s cold. 

  4. Add the onions. Put some salt on top. DO NOT TOUCH THE ONIONS. Leave them there for 5 minutes until they are brown.

  5. Realize the onions are the book that you’ve been working on for 27 years and still doesn’t feel done. Realize that tweaking your book is like stirring the onions. You can’t resist. Wait for five minutes to pass.

  6. YOU CAN STIR THINGS NOW! Add leek, garlic, dried mushrooms, ginger, 6 cups of water. This will deglaze the pan if you stir and scrape up the bits. Do that. 

  7. Turn the heat down. It’s too intense here, just like your plot. 

    Put the heat on medium-low. 

    Realize you feel medium low. 

    Partially cover the pan and let it be for an hour. A WHOLE HOUR! 

  8. Procrastinate for an hour. 

  9. Don’t do any real work or revision or anything else. 

    Really.

  10. Preheat oven to 400 F. 

  11. Put sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle oil on them. Toss them so the oil is distributed. 

    Find a head of garlic. Cut off the top of its head. Imagine he’s a writing expert telling you to kill your darlings. Drizzle oil on it and wrap it up in foil. Put it on the pan.

    Put the pan in the oven and close the door. Stir it once in awhile. Cook until it’s tender. 

  12. BACK TO THE STOVE! An hour has passed! You’ve got this.

    Strain the broth through a sieve and get rid of all the solid bits. KEEP THE BROTH! 

    Realize this is like ‘killing your darlings’ like all those writing experts always say. Wonder if writing experts know that they are annoying.

  13. Find a blender. Free it of left over smoothie. Instead squeeze the garlic cloves into that bad boy.

    Add 1/3 cup of sweet potatoes.

    Add 1/2 cup broth that you saved.

    Puree until it’s smooth.

    Add it to the big bunch of broth.

  14. Find a saucepan and put it on medium heat. 

    Add oil that’s left.

    Add mushrooms. Cook them for about five minutes or until tender.

    Add broth.

    Season to your liking.

    Add tamari or soy sauce.

    Simmer.

    Reduce to low.

    Cover partially and cook until it’s warm.

  15. Is it warm?

    Are you warm?

    Whisk in that miso of awesome.

  16. Take your noodles (cooked if dry!) Put them in bowls. Put the broth over it. 

    Top it with sweet potatoes. 

    Sprinkle with green onions.

    Breathe. 

    Marvel at your creation. 

    It wasn’t that bad, was it? 

This is derived from a recipe from Cooking Light. 

Dog Verdict: WHERE IS THE BACON? We like sweet potato okay though. But… it’s not… you know… bacon.

Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly, or at least the spice packs full of MSG and other goodness.

Carrie Verdict: Writers need love. Ramen is love.

 

*P.S. My writer brain was too tired to do the actual math to count the calories for this. I am so sorry.

WRITING NEWS

I’ll be at Book Expo America on June 1 at the Lerner booth from 11:30-12.

There’s a free information and inspiration session from  Write! Submit! Support!, a six-month intensive program through the Writing Barn.

It’s a one-day only thing just to hang out and learn about the program. I swear! No weirdness involved at all. More info is here.

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.

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