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.

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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

My Writing Goal is to be on a Doctor Who Episode. That makes total sense, right?

Writer Sara Zarr once gave a brilliant speech about how it is the process of writing that should give you the love feeling, not if you make it on a bestseller list or get a Printz Award – Because honestly, they only give one of those out a year, so the odds of getting one is pretty rare.

I was okay with that, sort of, because I LOVE THE PROCESS OF WRITING.

But, let’s face it: Even though I’m not a perfectionist, I am a goal-oriented writer and human. So, I’m going to share my top five writing goals and life goals and if you could please, please share yours in the comments? That would make me ridiculously happy.

 This is Gabby, Carrie’s dog, asking you to please do this. Carrie gives more treats when she is happy. 

Warning: My goals are weird. They aren’t the nice MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE or BE A GOOD PERSON goals cause those are sort of givens, right? Right. (I love when I answer myself).

Five WRITING GOALS (also known as “I will feel successful if this happens” goals):

1. To meet Chris Evans and not have him pepper spray me but be like, “Hey, Carrie. You would look good in a tiara. Your dogs are so cute. Let’s make your book Girl, Hero into a movie.”
2. To write a really good poem that I can actually memorize myself. This is a big deal because I can never remember my own poems but I can ramble off Anne Sexton poems like a wild woman.
3. To actually have a rock group make a song about my book that isn’t a parody. Weird Al and SNL skits do not count. It has to be cool and not satire…. Like THE ALARM did with Stephen King’s THE STAND. Do you not love their 1980s hair? Peter Gabriel also wrote a song based on an Anne Sexton poem.

The hair is awesome sauce. You know it is! 

4. To go on book tour in Europe because …. um… .EUROPE! There are croissants there. Real croissants. Not supermarket kind. Plus, I am sort of in love with all my European fans/readers.
5. To be one of those cool writer people who makes enough money to buy a second home someplace warm where you do not have to shovel snow. Or, um, just have someone update the Wikipedia entry on me so it’s accurate. It’s not currently accurate, but I feel weird going in there and fixing it myself.

FIVE CONCRETE LIFE GOALS (also known as “This isn’t a bucket list because I’m not dying soon” goals):

1. To not fall in the slushy grocery store parking lot or get hit by a car for two years in a row. Cars tend to hit me, luckily this is always at super low speeds and in parking lots.
2. To not go bankrupt because that would be poopy. But honestly? Not end of the world.
3. To sing karaoke because even though I used to get PAID to sing, I still cannot do karaoke.
4. To be able to say things like, “Yes, my books are bestsellers” and not feel like a noodle, but strong and confident.
5.  To be in a Dr. Who episode because I am a geek like that. And she is cute. Or just having a teleport would be okay.

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

So, I’ve been spending this past week amplifying the fact that the Abbe Museum’s Indian Market  is happening in my town (Bar Harbor) this week from May 18-20. It’s our first one. There will be 70 artists and performers. There will be a film festival. There will be comedians at the Criterion Theatre.

32247386_10156292690130768_1000874499777757184_o

Why have I been so incessant about this?

There are a couple of reasons.

  1. I’m super pumped about the market happening because it’s going to be amazing. It’s 70 artists and performers and it will be downtown and that’s a lovely economic driver for our town, but more importantly it’s good for the artists.
  2. Art matters.
  3. The art of people who have been oppressed matters and systemic oppression of art is still happening.  Native American Art won’t even be in the American wing of the Met in NYC until later this year. Yeah. It’s been in  The Met’s Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
  4. Amplifying artists is good. Art is good. Shouting out goodness is pretty freaking good.

So, I’m not going to talk about my own writing news in this post. Instead I’m going to share a couple pictures of some of the amazing artists coming to Bar Harbor this week.

32530723_10156534463669073_1589226268472115200_o

And if you want to do good this Wednesday, you can give a shout-out to people who deserve one and whose voices might not be amplified right now. Amplify them. Spread the love. Spread the knowledge.

Perfectionism – It’s good. It’s bad. It’s a pain for writers.

Perfectionists aren’t perfect people. They are almost always miserable people.

Seriously.

Think about it.

There’s no such thing as perfect and if you are constantly trying to achieve perfection? What happens? Misery happens. This is true for your life and for your writing. The sad news is that a lot of writers are perfectionists, which means they are miserable.

There’s this great article on the Verywell Mind that has the 10 signs that you might be a perfectionist. But here are some of the signs:

Signs of Perfectionism

All-Or-Nothing Thinking – You can only accept perfection, your goal, nothing else will do.

Critical Eye – Tiny mistakes are the kingdom of your land and you fixate on them.

“Push” vs “Pull” – According to the article, perfectionist are “pushed toward their goals by a fear of not reaching them.” But high achieving people? They are happy making steps towards the goals and not constantly worrying/stressing about not getting there yet.

Unrealistic Standards – Your goal to be God is ridiculous. That’s basically all this is. Your goal is to be the ultimate at something, something that is not possible. And you know it, but you still make that your goal.

Focusing on Only Results – You don’t care about the process of getting there.

Depressed by Unmet Goals – What is this thing called happiness? Perfectionists have a hard time knowing this thing.

Fear of Failure – It is overwhelming and it starts to taint everything perfectionists do.

Procrastination – Elizabeth Scott puts this in her article and phrases it so well, “This is because, fearing failure as they do, perfectionists will sometimes worry so much about doing something imperfectly that they become immobilized and fail to do anything at all! This leads to more feelings of failure, and a vicious cycle is thus perpetuated.”

Defensiveness – Constructive criticism is the enemy and not a tool for betterment. Constructive criticism hurts.

Low Self Esteem – Being super critical of yourself? It doesn’t help your self. Your esteem actually lessens.

Three Tips to Fight Perfectionism
So so so sad

Those are so sad, aren’t they? That’s not how you want to feel, is it? So, how do you overcome your own perfectionist mindset?

Three Steps to Overcoming Perfectionism

Recognize that you do it.

Talk realistically to yourself.

Practice looking at things from other’s points of view

Writing Tip of the Podcast
Writing Tip of the Podcast

Writing Tip of the Pod: Recognize your perfectionism and realize that it’s holding you back. Allow yourself to be happy.

Dog Tip for Life: There is no such thing as perfection, there is no one way to be. Some bacon may be crunchy. Some bacon may be soggy. All bacon is perfect. So are you.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

Carrie will be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that, she’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council.

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.

But here is the link to our podcast today about perfectionism!

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

Perfectionism – It’s good. It’s bad. It’s a pain for writers.

 
 
00:00 / 00:17:42
 
1X
 

How Do You Procrastinate and How Do You Stop?

So, when I started the first draft for the FOURTH (yes, fourth) book in the NEED series, I continued the life-long tradition of Carrie Jones Procrastination.

So, you might wonder what does a writer do to procrastinate?

Well, we do everything. All my writer friends know this.

pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən,|
noun of evil?

During the Need series,  I procrastinated by attacking the giant fur balls that my dogs Scotty and Tala left on the floor every day. Seriously, the fur was so big that it blew in the wind like tumbleweed.

Imagine that this was me (only I don’t wear khakis and I don’t have a guy butt) and the tumbleweed is white dog fur and you see my life.

Tala’s Ghost Explains: It was not a thyroid issue. I am a dog. I shed. It’s pretty! 

And in my procrastinating frenzy I became fascinated with David Hasselhoff. Seriously. Look at him….. I still need to write him into a book – procrastinating again. Yes, I know he has his OWN book, but still….

I think he has the look of an evil pixie. He would have fit right into the series. What do you think?

Well, writer friends and friends-friends, what do YOU do to procrastinate?

My top five ways to procrastinate are:
1. Pick up dog fur.
2. Check Facebook.
3. Think about Tweeting.
4. Staring out window.
5. Wondering if David Hasselhoff is human. I know he can’t be a vampire because he’s wearing a cross. But he COULD be a shifter or a pixie. He could!

Anyway, that was then during the Time of the Need Series, but I’m now in this weird other part of my writing life and I have a slightly different style of life and procrastination.

My current top five ways to procrastinate are:

  1. Picking up dog fur
  2. Thinking about things like God, existence, purpose
  3. Refreshing email on my phone.
  4. Thinking about Tweeting
  5. Scrolling through Facebook AND Instagram AND Twitter AND various newsfeed.

You will notice the Hasselhoff has dropped off the list.

And before I give procrastination a completely bad rap, let me say that there are good things about it.

Good things about procrastination:

  1. In the space where my mind isn’t actively working on a project, my brain sees other things in the world and ideas spark.
  2. My house is cleaner
  3. I see my emails sooner? Yeah… that one is a stretch.

But despite these good things, a lot of us don’t want to procrastinate quite so much, right?

So here are some ways to stop procrastinating:

 

  1. Make a deadline for yourself about whatever you are procrastinating about.
  2. Cut your project up into something manageable. Acknowledge your awesome when you hit smaller goals.
  3. Think about how awesome you will feel when you get that goal done.
  4. Don’t be afraid of failing. A lot of times we procrastinate about something because we think we won’t be able to do it well.

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.  There are young adult series, middle grade fantasy series, stand-alones for young adults and even picture book biographies.

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along! There will be a new episode every Tuesday.

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.

That Time I was in Glamour Magazine. No. Seriously. I was.

So, because I am a writer, something that I never imagined would happen, happened.

No, I did not suddenly learn how to fly.

This is Super Girl. She can fly, and rock a cape.

No, Grover did not propose.

Grover: Some day I will, Cawwie. 

Wow. I hope so, Grover, I’ve been waiting on that since first grade.

It wasn’t learning to fly or a Grover proposal.

Instead, I was in a real photo shoot with a real make-up artist and real stylist and real photo shoot coordinator and real photographer with assistant.

For Glamour Magazine.

Yes, seriously. Glamour Magazine.

And I wore make-up. And it was cold, but I still managed to not fall down or turn into an ice cube.

If you know me, you know that I am not a person who wears make-up.

cropped-My-Post-30.jpg

Look. Proof. The photo of myself that I tend to post is make-up free AND my hair is wet. That is how un-glam I am.

So… why? Why was I doing this? Why was I totally stepping outside of my comfort zone?

It was for the Dear Bully anthology that Megan Kelley Hall and I were doing with Harper Collins, so I couldn’t cop out or claim social anxiety disorder because it was for a good cause.

I am a sucker for good.

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Anyway, I was totally out of my previously-mentioned comfort zone and the whole time that I was panicking and thinking, “Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I have to wear make-up. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. People are going to see my picture. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. I have to wear clothes that do not belong to me.”

Really, it’s true. You wear clothes that are not yours at these things. So, I was kind of thinking I’d get to wear something glammy because it is GLAMOUR MAGAZINE, and it was basically my one shot to be actually glamorous.

Yeah.

That didn’t happen.

Since they did the shoot in Maine, they wanted it to reflect Maine culture and I guess holding dead lobsters in our hands and swigging Allen’s Coffee Brandy while wearing moose hats was out of the question.

So the next best thing they could think of was…

Yeah,  it was basically …. um….

LL Bean.

Someday, I swear, I’ll be glammy. Really. I will. It’s on my bucket list.

Grover: I am on a cow. That was on the bucket list of me, Grover, and I managed to do it fabulously and glamorously, don’t I? 

Yes, I know Grover. You did.

But the point here is that if you are brave and you say ‘yes’ to things that are TOTALLY OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE? Well, good things could happen. You can wear make-up and random clothes from L.L. Bean. Or you can be on the radio at WERU like I was this week. I got to talk to the amazing Brook Mining, who is a rock star librarian and radio host. The hour-long show is archived here if you feel like listening to it.

AND IF YOU EVER have to do a photo shoot with Glamour, do NOT be scared because the people are so awesome and nice and kind and patient. It’s amazing. I fell in love with all of them. They were just that cool.

To find out more about DEAR BULLY check it out here.

 

And since it’s Mother’s Day in the U.S. this weekend and I am without a mother, here’s a quick shout-out to my mom who tried so hard in a world that was always pushing her down. She was amazing. I miss her.

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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.

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

 

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

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.

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

Cooking With a Writer Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

In order to make a good book, a break-out novel, you have to have inherent conflict, opposing forces that both want something.

This is my house.

I want to not eat meat.

Everyone else wants to eat meat. I think it’s wasteful to make separate meals all the time (no-meat, meat).

So, like any good protagonist, I’m attempting to convince Shaun and the dogs to eat vegetarian meals. But, I am easily bored so I give the recipes a humorous writer-twist. And that brings us to this squishy squash soup recipe that I made this week. It was creamy and delightful and you can add things to it like cilantro!

Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.
Gabby hated it so much she resorted to eating licking the comforter.

Squash Me Up Soup Recipe

It’s squash. It’s soup. It’s creamy. It’s orange. That’s got to be good, right? 

  • 2 TBSP Unsalted butter
  • 1 Leek (all chopped up)
  • 1 Butternut Squash (3 – 4 pounds, cube it up)
  • .25 tsp nutmeg
  • .5 tsp black petter
  • 4 tbsp sherry (More if you just got rejected)
  • 3 cup vegetarian stock
  • 1 cup milk (the full-on fat kind because you are a starving writer)
  • 2 tbsp heavy cream
  • sherry vinegar (to taste)
  • salt (to taste)
  1. Find a medium stock pot and melt the butter in a medium stockpot. Turn it on medium-lowish heat. Feel like this is how your book feels – sort of mid-list, sort of squishy. Ponder with angst. 

  2. Once the butter is melted, stop staring at it and put the leeks in there.

    They have to sweat.

    So do you, right? Writing is sweat for the heart, grit for the soul, an endurance sport.

  3. Stir it once in a while. That’s how your agent responds to you, right? Once in awhile. Stir until the leeks are soft but not brown.

    This takes about 5 minutes.

    This is much quicker than anything in the publishing world. 

    Except mean tweets.  Mean tweets are fast. 

  4. This looks kind of cool. Admire the leeks. How your book is like them. Good smelling, soft yet not burnt. 

  5. Add the squash, nutmeg, pepper, and some salt.

    Stir it around once in awhile for another 5 minutes. 

  6. Add the sherry.

    For the next 2-3 minutes let the sherry hang out in there. 

    If it is not against your religion, drink sherry straight from the bottle. That’s just what happens when there is nobody helping you cook.

    Do not judge yourself. That’s what reviewers are for.

  7. Add enough stock to barely cover the vegetables. 

    This is sort of like the publicity budget for your book – just enough to cover the basics.

    Drink more sherry. Wipe it off your chin. 

  8. Okay. It’s breakout novel … I mean … soup… time. 

    Turn the heat to high. Make it boil.

    Feel satisfied. That’s success right there. 

    Now reduce the heat to a simmer. Control that simmer like you control your readers’ emotions and keep it there for 20 minutes.

    The squash should be fork tender like your readers’ hearts. 

  9. Add milk.

    Add the 2 tablespoons cream. 

  10. Blend until smooth. 

    This is scary because it is hot so be careful. If you are using a regular blender and not an immersion blender DO NOT TRY TO DO IT ALL AT ONCE! This is like a manuscript. You can’t just throw it all in there for two seconds and call it good. There are steps to blending just like there are steps to revision. 

  11. Add however much salt, pepper, sherry, and sherry vinegar you need to make it taste good.

    If it seems bland go raid the spice rack and add cumin or curry or open the fridge and squeeze some hot sauce in there – a TB or more to taste.

  12. Once it is in the bowl, put cream on top so it seems fancy. 

Dog Verdict: WHERE IS THE BACON?

Man Verdict: This would be better with bacon, honestly

Carrie Verdict: Cilantro is the new bacon!

https://carriejonesbooks.bloghttps://carriejonesbooks.blog
Cooking With a Writer

WRITING NEWS

I’m on WERU today, Thursday, at 10 a.m. EST. You can call in and ask me stuff. I’ll be talking about writing and books. The link 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

My Nana’s Funeral Was Awful – Seriously Awful

Because my family is a bit – um – all over the place, I ended up having multiple grandmothers when I was growing up. I had a Nana, a Grammy, and a Avó or Vovó. And every single one of these women was eccentric and radically different from each other.

One had the worst funeral ever. Unless you count the funeral where my aunt passed out and everyone thought she died.

I’m not counting that one.

Or the one where I had a complete #metoo moment. That was my dad’s funeral actually.

I’m not counting that one either.

Anyway, about my grandmothers.

One grandmother was the chairwoman of the Republican women’s party in our state. She believed in manners, in propriety and responsibility, and all that stiff-upper lip stuff.  She drank alcohol once every five years or so, on Christmas. She wrote one poem.

One grandmother was an artist and poet who never let the world see her art, who cried over the beauty of a ripe tomato. She believed in prohibition, probably because her husband forced her to believe in prohibition. She also believed in Julia Child.

One grandmother was a collector of all things ceramic, lover of all things Bingo, and could not care about ‘propriety’ at all. She drank.  She never wrote a poem. She lived one. Some of the lines were flawed, but it was real and raw and authentic.

These ladies didn’t interact much. They are all dead now, but the one I’m thinking about is my nana and what writing lessons I can get from the life she lived and the funeral she had.

My nana basically had the worst funeral in all of history. Or… well… she’s in the top three for my family funeral disasters.

Why?

Oh, let me count the ways. Learn from this, writers, okay? 

The setting was bad

They put all of us closer relatives in a family grieving room before the funeral started, but the room was the kindergarten room for church school and so the whole thing was filled with a giant table and church muppets. People sort of had to stand with their backs flat up against the walls like a police line-up. When new people came into the room, everyone would have to do this sideways shuffle scooch along the walls to make room.

The church muppets were all flopped on top of each other and it looked really naughty. My nana would not have approved. I made Jesus muppet hold hands with Minister muppet because they looked lonely.

It wasn’t a place or setting where emotional resonance could happen. It’s hard to comfort other people or even be super introspective when your back is to the wall and you are staring at puppets who look like they might be trying to make muppet babies.

Know Your Main Character

My nana was 100 when she died. She was a really smart woman. You’d go to her house and she’d have a newspaper clipping for you and she’d be like, “Have you seen this censorship issue that the American Library Association is lobbying against?”

Or she’d be like, “Did you know that Medicare is (Insert large word)?”

She went to this same church that her funeral was at for about 8,000 years.

But the minister’s sermon was all, “Think of the things Rena saw change in her 100 years,” which is nice, but it was like a history lesson.

A history lesson! Ugh. And I kind of wanted it to be personal, not a eulogy you can use for anyone over 98. But that’s what it was.

In a book, you have to know your main character inside and out or else their story doesn’t mean anything. That’s what happened here, too.

Instead of hearing about my nana and her life and her interactions with everyone and with the church, it was a sermon about… history? Full of random dates and events but with no actual human content. Her life as told in his sermon didn’t exist.

Our lives and our characters’ lives have purpose. We aren’t just meant to be a backdrop for a history lesson.

Random Characters Thrown In For Effect 

Part of my family looks like they belong in the Jersey Shore. Seriously, my nephew Brooks saw someone and screamed, “OMG! It’s Snooki!”

Funerals are often places where families see branches that they forgot about or have deliberately avoided for years. That’s okay in a funeral, but in a book? Characters need to have a purpose.

Lack of Emotion

Nobody sobbed. There should be sobbing at a funeral, but I guess since it was History Lesson Funeral, people just took notes, worrying about the test later or something.

People loved my nana. They missed my nana. My family is a high-drama, emotional family that sobs at anything. But here? It didn’t happen.

In life and in books, you have to be able to have the space for sorrow, you have to have an emotional aspect to a story, to understand their worries, their drives, to know that their departure would leave a gaping hole.

That doesn’t happen with bad writing or bad preaching.

The only time emotional resonance happens during a history test is when you realize you’re going to fail it, honestly.

Don’t make your life or your book a history text.

Sometimes Following The Rules Isn’t Healthy

I had to sit in the front row so the minister kept looking at me, which meant that I had to pay attention to the history lesson and nod appropriately, which would have made my nana proud I’m sure.

But following the rules and doing the proper expected thing isn’t always healthy for you. Crying can be good even if it isn’t at the ‘socially acceptable’ time.

And I guess that’s why I’m sad. I wanted my nana’s funeral to make her proud of the life she lived and of all of us people she left behind. I wanted to feel some sort of closure, but I didn’t. I just sort of felt like someone had forgotten to pick her up and give her a ride over.

My nana loved for people to give her rides. She also loved to food poison people with dairy products, talk politics, play cards, get angry at you for beating her at cards, talk on the telephone, and hang out with her friends. She was smart and lively and stubborn and an absolutely horrible cook.

When I asked her why she was so involved in politics she said, “Because I remember what it was like to not even be able to vote.”

She was ten when women got the right to vote.

“It meant something. Women are just as good as men,” she said. “If not better. Stronger. They didn’t let us use our minds.”

She was the valedictorian of her little class in Weare, New Hampshire. She wrote a poem in her yearbook. She was proud of it, but (unlike one of my other grandmothers) it was pretty much the only poem she ever wrote. She didn’t have time for that, she’d said.

When I asked her why she was so smart, why she spent so much time learning and understanding things, she’d said, “Women can’t afford not to be intelligent. Not in this world.”

And another time she said, “It’s our responsibility to learn everything we can learn, to make good decisions, informed decisions.”

A farm girl, she’d married a jazz drummer who played in big bands and toured the country. One time he didn’t come back. He remarried. She never did. I don’t think she ever even dated anyone, but she did think Ronald Reagan was a ‘looker.’

She raised her kids as a single mom back in the 1940s and 1950s. Her oldest son went on to desegregate the fraternity system at UNH and though they were desperately poor, he ended up a valedictorian at his high school, at UNH, and then went on to Harvard Law.

She was so proud of him. Why?

“Because he is a gentleman and because he can think,” she said once when we were sitting on her couch and I was trying to avoid eating any of her food because – food poisoning. And then she said it again, “He can think. So can you. Use your brain, Carrie. Use it. Don’t be afraid of it.”

My nana was pretty cool, and worth way more than a history lesson. She was an epic, a woman of resilience and persistence in a time that was hard.

“All times are hard,” she’d say.

And this, also, is true.

But all times also have beauty and good and resonance. Don’t be afraid to embrace that, too.


 This is my nana. She is 100 here. She would hate this picture. 😉

Do Good Wednesday

I have had seizures.

It started when I was in college and I had Mono. The Epstein Barr virus that causes Mono attacked my brain as well. Eventually, the virus left, the seizures lessened, but it made my brain less resistant to future seizures.

There are all kinds of seizures and all types of triggers for people and all sorts of degrees of severity. Epilepsy is the fourth most common neurological condition and in the United States, 3.4 million people have epilepsy.

That’s a lot of people and yet there is a ton of stigma about it. So, my Do Good Wednesday call is just this. Go check out this website. Learn a little about epilepsy. Don’t be afraid when someone has a seizure. If you are a parent or a loved one, don’t make it all about you if a loved one has a seizure.

That’s all.

xo

Carrie

Lessons I learned at my grandmother's awful funeral
Dance

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.

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

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’m being interviewed live on WERU radio on Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m. You can call in and ask questions and be on the air with me! The livestream for the station is here. 

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

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.

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

How To Be Happy Even if You’re a Writer – Yes, even you.

A lot of writers and artists spend a lot of time doubting and feeling unhappy. Why? That’s the question. Part of it is that we’re creative people. Creative people tend to feel big feelings. We live in feelings and interpretations and expression.

That can be hard on a heart.

My Post-25

It’s hard to believe in yourself when the industry makes it so hard for you not to believe.

Writing is hard on hearts. Rejections come fast and easily and the whole field is so subjective. Outside validation can be hard to come by.

We Expect to be Perfect

We are not perfect.

We apologize when we are normal. We apologize for being human. We apologize for who we are as if who we are is supposed to beyond human.

We see our books, our arts, our blogs as perfect, idealized, finished products and that level of perfection is hard to get to in real life. So….

We Tear Ourselves Down

For some of us, we’re so used to other people tearing us down for being weird, daydreaming, quirky, different that we try to do it before they do – that way it doesn’t seem to hurt that much? But it’s not good for us to do that.

My Post-27

So how do we get happy?

Create

Keep working and creating. There is power in persistence, in not giving up. There is happiness in losing yourself to the process.

Let Forgiveness Happen

You can call it grace if you prefer, but allow yourself to be human. Don’t be so harsh  on yourself when you fail or make a mistake. Embrace that failure because it allows you to know you are human. Not God.

Realize That You Are Absolutely Good Enough

When people praise you, let them. When people come to see you, embrace that. When they listen to you speak, read your work, buy your painting, tell you something awesome, let them. Don’t ignore the good to hold onto the bad.

When people love you or praise you? They are giving you a gift. It’s not cool to turn that away. You don’t want to be an arrogant butt face, but allow people to be kind to you if they are moved to do so.

Dog Tip for Life: Accept the treats that life brings you, man.

Writing Tip of the Cast: A really good way to be a better writer is to think outside of yourself and imagine you as your character. But a really good way to be a confident writer is to allow yourself to be human, to rejoice in the fact that your story isn’t perfect at the first try and/or draft. Forgive yourself when you use the word ‘feel’ 572 times in an 50-page story. Forgive yourself when you accidentally have everyone fall in love with the main character or you forget to have a setting. It’s okay. Acknowledge it. Fix it. Love yourself anyway.

 

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.

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

CARRIE’S APPEARANCES

I’m being interviewed live on WERU radio on Thursday, May 10 at 10 a.m. You can call in and ask questions and be on the air with me! The livestream for the station is here. 

I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1 at 11:30 – 12 at the Lerner booth signing copies of the Spy Who Played Baseball. A week before that,

I’ll also be in NYC presenting to the Jewish Book Council . Come hang out with me!

PODCAST

The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE is still chugging along!

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.

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

How To Be Happy Even if You’re a Writer – Yes, even you.

 
 
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