Cooking With a Writer: Black Bean Soup Recipe That is Allegedly Spicy But is It?

There are certain really important questions in this world.

Why does asparagus have to smell soooo rotten when it cooks?

And why does my asparagus have cool googly eyes?

Black bean soup recipe
And a hat

Why does my dog Gabby have to lick my fingers every time I sit down and type?

Cooking with a Writer Black Bean Soup Recipe
Fingers are yummy!

No, Gabby, “fingers are yummy” is not a good answer. 

And why does Gabby think the UPS man is evil incarnated?

Gabby: No, that prom dress is evil incarnate. What were you thinking?

*sobs

One of my major questions of all time is why is black bean soup not so tasty?

Like I love refried black beans. I love black beans in a regular way. Why not the soup?

I tried a recipe to find out.

Black Bean Soup – Allegedly Spicy

It’s soup. It’s made from canned black beans.

  • 2 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat the pot's bottom)
  • 2 onions (chopped, diced, cut)
  • 2 celery stalky things – ribs? Ribs sounds creepy (chopped)
  • 5 garlic cloves or 7 TBS (Totally up to you, but mince it)
  • 5 tsp cumin
  • .5 tsp red pepper flakes (This was not spicy enough for me)
  • 4 cans black beans (rinse. drain. )
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 2 tsp lime juice
  • salt and pepper (as much as feels good to you)

You can garnish. It will impact the calorie count, obviously, but it's way more fun – cilantro, avocado, cheese, tortilla chips

    1. Find a pot. Study the pot. Is it big enough? 

    2. Put the olive oil in the pot. Turn the burner onto medium. Watch the oil get warm. Ponder life. 

    3. Wonder why you’re writer.

    4. When the oil is shimmering like a vampire in a successful young adult novel/movie franchise, add the onions, celery, carrot and maybe salt if you are into that. Cook 10 minutes or until the veggies are soft and mushy. 

    5. Think about how you changed those veggies from hard things into soft things. Feel powerful. Wish you could elicit that same kind of change in your main character and her story arc.

    6. Add garlic. Think about vampires. Wonder if world is ready for another vampire franchise. Add cumin and red pepper. Cook 30 seconds. HURRY! 

    7. 30 seconds pass so quickly when you aren’t waiting for an agent to call. You have no time to ponder this. Instead, add all the beans and the broth. Turn the heat up enough to get a simmer.

    8. Lower the heat so that it’s a gentle simmer and keep it that way for 30 minutes.

    9. Cry. Because the world really isn’t ready for another vampire franchise yet even though you, personally, have written 374,012 words about vampires and love and garlic. 

    10. Stare at the social media outlet of your choice for 30 minutes while your soup is simmering. Pretend like you’re going to use this time to write. 

    11. Don’t write. 

    12. Go back to the kitchen. Really super carefully get 4 cups of the soup (more if you like your soup thick like your prose and plot and descriptions). Blend/puree that soup in a blender. Be careful of steam. 

    13. Return blended up soupy stuff into the pot. Stir it all up. Add the cilantro if you want, lime, salt, and pepper. Taste it. 

    14. Eat that soup. It should be dark like the night that your story’s vampires emerge from, dark like your villain’s heart. 

    Black bean soup recipe
    Black bean soup recipe

    Gabby the Dog and Spartacus the Dog’s Verdict:  They won’t let us taste this. It’s all ‘black beans and dogs don’t mix’ and ‘You’re name is Spartacus not Fartacus.’ Humans….

    Man Verdict: This is delicious and filling. But I’m going to go have a third bowl anyways because I don’t believe in moderation.

    Me: I think it needs more cumin and spice and salt and cumin and lime and cumin.

    Man: There is no pleasing you.

    Me: I’m a writer. All I want to do is improve things. It’s how I am made.

    https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

    WRITING NEWS AND APPEARANCE AND STUFF:

    THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

    The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

    PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

    “Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

    FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

    Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

    This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

    TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

    And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

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

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    Wednesday Bullying Post

    So Monday I posted about my own bullying experiences and mentioned DEAR BULLY, an anthology that I co-edited. That book happened because Megan Kelley Hall and I felt so powerless after hearing the stories of two girls. One was Phoebe Prince. Phoebe killed herself after being bullied over and over again. The other girl was a kindergarten student, Jasmin Lovin, who survived her bullying, but was having a horrible time with nightmares and fear.

    Carrie Jones Dear Bully 70 Authors tell their stories
    Dear Bully

    But the book was about more than just those two girls. Bullying is bigger than that and any identity factor or trait (real or perceived) can be used as a reason to deride and torment others.

    I felt so powerless to help these kids all over our country. So as an author, I did the only thing I could think of doing; I asked for stories from other authors, so kids who had the opportunity to read the book could realize that they weren’t alone.

    They weren’t. They aren’t.

    As I told the International Literacy Worldwide Association during an interview, “It (a person’s bullying story) was about kids who were bullied about their sexual orientation, their size, their parents; kids were bullied about anything.”

    The hope was that if we all shared how we had been bullied, kids could find hope in our survival, hope in the fact that some super cool authors like Z Brewer or Alyson Noel or R. L. Stine had survived and that they could too.

    I was absolutely blown away by everyone’s support and everyone’s stories. And it made me incredibly sad that so many of you have bullying stories and that so many of you are still affected by bullying or are being affected right now.

    I keep saying it breaks my heart but honestly my heart is shattering over and over again every time I hear a new story.

    But I’m also really happy and proud of everyone for sharing and wanting to help and wanting to make change. You are awesome.

    And now I’m going to tell some bullying stories from one person’s life. It’s not about me. It’s about my daughter, Em of Awesome, and she’s given me permission, I swear. Em would never categorize herself as either a bullied kid or a hero. I think that’s important somehow.

     

    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    Little hiker buddy
    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    A love of sweaters runs deep in this family

    BULLYING STORY 1

    So, when Em was four she went to a Waldorf nursery school. I took her there so she could know how to hang with other kids and also because I love the whole Waldorf philosophy which is, “the human being is fundamentally a spiritual being and that all human beings deserve respect as the embodiment of their spiritual nature.”

    So, Em had gone there for about a month when I came to pick her up. Her little cotton dress was all ripped and her face was splotched because she’d been crying. The teachers were all consoling and talking to another little girl, Hannah.

    Em launched herself into my arms and I said, “What happened, baby?” because that is what mommies ask.

    And she said, “Hannah threw me down and told me she was a lion and was going to eat me up and she ripped my dress and wouldn’t let me up.”

    And I hugged her and asked her what the teachers did and she said, “They are talking to Hannah.”

    And I said, “Did they talk to you?”

    And she said, “No.”

    So, I went and talked to the teachers (who are all lovely by the way) and I asked them what happened and they said the same thing as Em. And then they told me that Hannah had been jealous of Em who was somehow really good at sewing and reading (and basically everything – such is the curse of being Em) so Hannah was acting out her rage.

    And I asked if Hannah was told that it wasn’t cool to rip another girl’s dress, threaten to kill her, and tackle her. And they told me that they hadn’t because Hannah was merely expressing herself. This was the escalation of her being angry and jealous for awhile.

    And then I asked if anyone had comforted Em.

    And they said, “No. We were focusing on Hannah.”

    This is when I took Em out of the school forever because I honestly thought the spiritual growth and support of the bullied, beaten-up kid was just as important as the spiritual growth and worth of the kid who bullied.

    And also because I often have no chill.

    Carrie Jones Dear Bully 70 Authors tell their stories
    Em of Awesome
    Life Lesson here:

    If you feel your kid is in a situation that isn’t healthy for them and you have the means to take them out of that situation? Take them out.

    Random note: This same girl who lion attacked Em laughed at me for telling  over a decade later for telling her I needed more information before signing a petition about an issue in our town.

    Dear Bully. Bullying stories for survival
    The Emster in snow

    Bullying Story #2

    Em has been bullied again, but never to a horrible extreme, and she’s lucky. And she’s also turned into one of those kids/young adults who stands up for other people who are being bullied.

    One time a boy in third grade was tormenting a girl in the lunch line because of her eye shape. The girl was Aleutian. Em (who has always had wicked verbal skills) went up one side of him and down the other and announced to everyone, “M- has the most beautiful eyes ever.”

    M said, “You think so?”

    Em said, “Um… yeah. You are so pretty, especially your eyes.”

    And the girl told Em that the boy had been bullying her about her looks for forever. Em was the first one who heard and said something.

    Life Lesson Here:

    Standing up for others in the moment when they can’t manage it themselves, is okay. Another lesson, if you love someone. If you think the are beautiful, let them know.

    Bullying stories and life lessons learned
    Graduation

    Bullying Story #3

    Another time Em battled an Ed Tech who told one of her friends during PE that she threw the ball “like she was r-word.”

    (Sorry. I hate that word. I couldn’t write it.)

    Yes, the Ed Tech said the actual word.

    Yes, the Ed Tech worked with what the school district labels as ‘special needs’ kids.

    Yes, the Ed Tech saw nothing wrong with what she said.

    Yes, Em’s friend cried and cried about it. She had issues with reading back then. The Ed Tech knew that. She bullied her right into a sobbing mess on the gym floor.

    Life Lesson Here:

    Bullies can be grown-ups. We’ve all learned that, right? We just call them trolls when they are on social media.

    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    Dog kissing helps


    Bullying Story #4

    We were at a big conference in LA full of children’s book writers and the key note speaker was hanging out talking by the pool. Em waited her turn and told him how much she loved his books. She was pretty small so he looked kind of shocked that she had read them. Anyways, he was super nice and they were talking when three women who wanted to be children’s writers came over and shoved her out of the way to talk to him.

    Seriously, they just pushed her.

    Keynote Author Man got this shocked/stunned looked and asked if Em was okay.

    The ladies? Didn’t even blink.

    Em wasn’t a person to them, and I think a lot of the time that’s what happens. Bullies forget that they are bullying people with feelings and coolness and quirks and emotions. Or maybe they don’t forget? Maybe they just don’t care.

    Life Lesson Here:

    Rudeness can happen in places where you least expect it. Adults ignoring, berating, tormenting, discounting kids? That’s something that makes an impact. Yes, those ladies were just rude once, so it’s not technically ‘bullying,’ but having the gatekeepers, the movers, the shakers, the people in positions of power and authority ignore you over and over again? That makes an impact.

    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    She is embarrassed about this shirt. I am embarrassed about my hat.

    Em was a quiet kid, but she was fierce, and she was so lucky that she has had the opportunity to be so  fierce and strong and what kills me is that so many of us don’t. So many of us don’t have the tools to keep dealing with bullies over and over again. So many of us don’t know that other people have had to deal with it, too. So many of us don’t realize that we aren’t alone, that we aren’t the only one with our dress ripped, or called names, or physically attacked or pushed aside by women who want to write stories for us, but more than that, they want to talk to the semi-famous man.

    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    Dogs make you stronger

    That’s why we all have to do whatever small thing we can. That might be standing up like Em; it might be joining a Facebook page; it might be telling our stories; it might just be giving someone a hug. It might be changing ourselves so that when someone calls us out on bad behavior we don’t get defensive and stubborn but we actually listen and care about their feelings more than our own just for a moment at least.

    I know. I know… It seems so little. But it’s something.

    Life lessons learned from bullying stories
    Em as Black Widow for Halloween

    WHAT I’VE TRIED TO DO

    So, I can’t save anyone, really. All I can do is listen, give out smelly stickers, and share my own stories. Sometimes those stories are super fun and inspiring, like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS or THE SPY WHO PLAYED BASEBALL. 

    Sometimes those stories? They are full of pain.

    I’ve recently contributed to the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and Megan Kelley Hall and I co-edited another anthology, DEAR BULLY, which was an effort of writers, readers, bloggers and people to raise awareness about bullying. The money we raise from Dear Bully’s royalties continues each year to support programs meant to raise awareness about bulling and support those who have suffered. I am so grateful for that opportunity.

    But it doesn’t feel like enough, you know? Nothing ever feels like enough.

    DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

    Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
    Do Good Wednesday!

    If you’re a survivor of bullying, please know that you aren’t alone. Check out this website for some resources. And if you are a person who bullies? Try to get some help too. Your life can be so much better than it is now.  Let’s change our culture into something better.

     

    Adobe Spark-3 copy

    Writing News

    The Class at the Writing Barn

    The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

    WSSTypeWriter-300x300

    Praise for Carrie Jones and Write. Submit. Support:

    “Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

    “Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

    “Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

    People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.

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

    The Podcast

    The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE has a new episode about life tips, dog tips and writing advice that just came out yesterday.

     

     

    Flying and Enhanced – the Young Adult Science Fiction Series

    Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

    This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action – School Library Journal

    22310265_10155015429843008_7077529214549352143_n

    Sparty knows all about that. More info about FLYING is here and the rest of my books? Right here.

     

    Make Your Life and Your Writing Resonate

    The best kind of work is the kind that makes you messy (even if you’re a Virgo) inside and out.

    And for a lot of writers, especially writers for kids, our job isn’t just about making story; it’s about making a difference somehow in at least one kid’s life. That is a messy business because in order to make a difference, you have to dig deep, to go through a lot of dirt and mud and rock to get to what it is that matters to you and to your story and to your reader and/or life partners.

    When I go to schools, I always tell the kids that one of the important steps to becoming the best writers you can be is to live the biggest life you can live. To not risk life or jail time, but to have adventures, to do things that you would never expect yourself doing.

    YOUR LIFE IS YOUR STORY. MAKE IT A BIG ONE.

    Big stories have conflict, and none of us are really into conflict in our lives, but it’s the conflict that allows our stories to have meaning and resonance.

    Big stories have awkward moments and worries. Our characters and our selves feel overwhelmed. We feel like we can’t make it sometimes. That’s part of what makes surviving such a sweet triumph.

    Being a writer is about more than craft. It’s about the story of how to be a writer, your story. It’s part of the bigger story of your life.

    Being a writer is about more than craft. It's about life and resonance and cohesion.
    Writing is life.

     

    EVERY LESSON ABOUT WRITING CRAFT IS ACTUALLY A LESSON ABOUT LIFE.

    Talking about paying attention to detail in your scene? It’s the same as paying attention to the details in your real life.

    Talking about traits of your character and how to make them heroes (or not)? It’s the same as talking about the traits that make you the you that you so beautifully are.

    Talking about resolution to your story is the same as talking about resolution to your relationships, to your current conflict, to your own life and death.

    I know, right? Mind blown.

    In every story we write there needs to be some logic and there needs to be some spirit or resonance.

    What makes the logic of the story?

    That comes from plot, pacing, character, and theme. You start your story with a vision and then the other elements are honed and refined to express that vision.

    The logic is the structure of the story, how it all works together. It’s how your plot isn’t just action, but a movement forward towards an end point – and how that movement forward makes sense and works together with the character, the theme, the pacing.

    Events that happen must make the character react and act.

    Creating resonance and cohesion in your life and your story. Tips on how to make life better.
    Resonate

    AND RESONANCE?  WHAT’S RESONANCE?

    It’s the story’s value. It’s the universal nature of the story. It’s what makes the reader’s heart and mind go, “A-ha!”

    It’s what makes you remember the story. We’ve all met people, read books, watched movies or shows or heard songs and forgotten them, but the ones that resonate? Those are the ones we remember.

    Think Hamilton.  Hamilton resonates across so many demographics partially because it’s the story about immigration and triumph and death, about idealism and it’s then set to something that feels more new in musical theater – the style of music, which is juxtaposed to the historical setting. It resonates.

    Think about the Nas song War (Birth of a Nation). This song connects Nat Turner to the protests of today and about fighting to make a better U.S. It resonates.

    It’s about theme and heart. It’s about authenticity and humanity. That’s what resonates.

    SO HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR STORY RESONATE?

    Think about what your story is really about on the deepest level.

    HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR LIFE RESONATE?

    Same thing. Think about what your life is really about on the deepest level.

    dogs-are-smarter-than-people_std.original-1

    Dog Tip for Life

    Get dirty as much as you can. Dirt means you’re living. Dirt is real. Dirt is life.

    Getting Messy makes you a better writer. carriejonesbooks.blog
    dog tip for life

    Writing Tip of the Pod – When you’re writing, don’t be afraid to have messy, uncomfortable things happen to your characters. A story with no conflict is not a story.

    Advice about adding resonance and cohesion to your story
    Bob? Yuri? Scary?

    Random Bonus Picture from Random Thought Time

    This is Bob. Or maybe Yuri? He is in our house. Shaun mentions him in the podcast. Bob/Yuri frightens me even though he has no arms.

    Here’s a direct link to the podcast feed.

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

    Writing News – Carrie’s

    img_1604

    Book Expo America

    Carrie will be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball at Book Expo America on June 1 at 11:30 a.m.

    WSSTypeWriter-300x300

    THE CLASS AT THE WRITING BARN

    The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support!is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

    PRAISE FOR CARRIE JONES AND WRITE. SUBMIT. SUPPORT:

    “Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

    “Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

    “Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

    People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.

    FLYING AND ENHANCED – THE YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION SERIES

    Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

    This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking actionSchool Library Journal

    Sparty knows all about that. More info about that series and all of Carrie’s books is here.

     

    Monday Motivation – How I Survived My Bullies and Tips So Maybe You Can, Too

    When I was a little kid I talked funny. If you’ve heard me in person or listened to the podcast, you can tell that I still do, but it was way worse then. I slurred my s sounds. It wasn’t a lisp. It was more of a slur – like my tongue was kind of lazy and just didn’t want to do all the work.

    How I survived bullying
    The tongue – my mortal enemy

     

    So, in first grade for the whole first week, Jay Jamison (almost his real name) made fun of me. I’d raise my hand and answer and he’d lean over his desk and repeat whatever I said only super exaggerating the bad ‘s’ sounds.

    So, if the answer was Sunday, I’d raise my hand and say, “Sunday.”
    And then he’d lean over and go, “Ssssssshunday.”

    And something inside me would tighten up. And something inside of me would want to cry, so I’d have to press my lips together really hard. And something inside of me would die a little bit.

    Then, things got worse. Jay got his friends to mock me too at recess. They’d stand around me and say ‘s’ words, copying my voice, making their voices really high, laughing. They made fun of my last name, which was Barnard, and call me, “Carrie St. Bernard.”

    It was pretty bad. Sometimes they’d pull at my jacket or my hair. Sometimes they’d monster hug me, which meant they’d try to squish me. The entire time they’d make fun of my voice, my s’s, me.

    So, I stopped talking. I stopped raising my hand. I stopped answering questions.

    I’d talk to my best friend Kathy Albertson and that was pretty much it. They had silenced me.

    And I also tried to be invisible because I figured if they didn’t notice me then they couldn’t hurt me. I wanted more than anything to have invisibility be my super power. I would pray for it every night.

    How I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's books
    This is what I’d say

    Pretty much all of first grade I didn’t talk. It was too scary to talk. I didn’t ever raise my hand even though I always knew the answers. And when I did talk I would try really hard to find words without ‘s’ sounds. (David Sedaris has a great essay about this. He did it, too). And the teacher thought there might be something wrong with me in a developmentally divergent and/or emotionally challenged way. And she told my mom. And I promised my mom I would talk more in second grade.

    I spent the whole summer trying to learn how to talk better. I was home alone most of the time so I needed a model. You couldn’t hear people when you read books so I turned to the television.

    We were super poor and we only got two channels – sometimes three.

    One channel was soap operas and kissing, which was grosser than gross.

    The other channel was mostly game shows, which was so tense. I had issues watching people almost win things and then not win things.

    I was the least tough kid ever, basically.

    This left one channel – PBS.

    PBS is full of kids show, and back then it was also full of Muppets.

    Yes, like the brilliant kid I was, I watched Sesame Street over and over to learn how to talk, so yes, I modeled my voice after Muppets, which pretty much explains my voice now.

    Helpful Hint: It is not the best idea to model your voice after Elmo and Big Bird and Grover if you’re trying to fit in and not be bullied.

     Yes, I taught Carrie how to talk.

    Obviously, Sesame Street did not fix my s’s, but it did tweak my accent AND make me sound like a Muppet, which means that in second grade people still made fun of my voice, but my teacher, Mrs. Snierson gave us a haiku assignment that I totally aced and she realized I was smart, and pretty much protected me all that year.

    Say what?

    Say “writing changed my life” is what.

    How I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's booksHow I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's booksHow I survived bullying Carrie Jones Books, NYT bestselling kid lit author of children's books

    I also learned that if you give your snacks away to the kids who never had enough money for snacks they would protect you, too.

    And I also learned that if you asked people what was wrong when they cried, they’d protect you, too, once they were done crying.

    And I also learned that Timmy Bourassa also liked smelly stickers, so I gave him some and then he protected me, too.

    It was weird, but it was how I dealt. I coped by taking care of other people. I coped by buying protection with food and stickers.

    The price of my protection?

    1. Empathy

    2. No lunches for me

    3. Smelly stickers

    And things got better for a long time. People stood up for me when Jay was mean. Jay eventually became a kid named Chris. Both of them gave up when other people stepped in for me.

    No.

    I never stepped in for myself.

    I didn’t know how.

    Things were better though because my caring about other kids returned as they cared about me. ,

    But then in seventh grade after years of speech classes that didn’t help my s sounds at all, one of my teachers made me stay during recess and said, “Carrie. You are never going to succeed because of your s’s. You’re a smart girl, but you’ll always be a loser if your voice sounds like that. “

    He told me I had no hope.
    He told me that there was no point in me trying or going to college or even finishing high school if I didn’t get those ‘s’ sounds fixed.
    He told me I would never succeed.

    I cried a lot in the hall and another teacher asked what happened. I still remember how red that other teacher’s face got when I told him.

    I remember him hugging me while I sobbed.

    I remember him storming into the first teacher’s room and yelling so loudly the whole school heard.

    That teacher saved me. My mom saved me too.

    She went to the school and complained. Nothing happened to the first teacher, but I knew my mom cared and that was important. But no matter what either my mom or my nice teacher, or any of my friends said, that first teacher’s words echoed in my head and in my soul for a super long time. They still echo there sometimes and I hear those words in that teacher’s voice, and Jay’s voice, and those recess boys’ voices, and sometimes I hear them in my voice and that’s when it hurts the most. It hurts the most when I, myself, am thinking:

    I have no hope.
    There is no point in me trying.
    I will never succeed.
    I am a loser. 

    My books have made  New York Times bestseller lists and bestseller lists in France and I’m published in a bunch of countries and I get fan mail, but I still can hear those bullying words sometimes – not all the time – but sometimes.

    And I realize I cringe every time someone makes fun of speech impediments on tv or movies or books.

    And I realize that I still do what I did in second grade – I surround myself with people who protect me by making me feel better. If I’m really hurt, I’ll friends-lock blog about it and people are always so kind. That’s how I cope. But other people? They aren’t so lucky for a bunch of reasons.

    Sometimes you are too hurt to help other people.

    Sometimes sharing a lunch or a smelly sticker isn’t enough.

    Sometimes the pain inside of you becomes so big that there is no way for you to help other people because your own heart has fractured so much.

    Life advice, writing advice, dogs. Carrie Jones talks about bullying and how she survived it
    Need series

    So, thanks to all of you who have ever helped me through a bully experience. I hope you know how awesome you are.

    WHAT I’VE TRIED TO DO

    So, I can’t save anyone, really. All I can do is listen, give out smelly stickers, and share my own stories. Sometimes those stories are super fun and inspiring, like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS or THE SPY WHO PLAYED BASEBALL. 

    Sometimes those stories? They are full of pain.

    I’ve recently contributed to the anthology THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID and Megan Kelley Hall and I co-edited another anthology, DEAR BULLY, which was an effort of writers, readers, bloggers and people to raise awareness about bullying. The money we raise from Dear Bully’s royalties continues each year to support programs meant to raise awareness about bullying and support those who have suffered. I am so grateful for that opportunity.

    But it doesn’t feel like enough, you know? Nothing ever feels like enough.

    If you’re a survivor of bullying, please know that you aren’t alone. Check out this website for some resources. And if you are a person who bullies? Try to get some help too. Your life can be so much better than it is now.  Let’s change our culture into something better.

     

    carriejonesbooks.blog Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones

    Writing News

    The Class at the Writing Barn

    The awesome 6-month-long Writing Barn class that they’ve let me be in charge of!? It’s happening again in July. Write! Submit! Support! is a pretty awesome class. It’s a bit like a mini MFA but way more supportive and way less money.

    WSSTypeWriter-300x300

    Praise for Carrie Jones and Write. Submit. Support:

    “Carrie has the fantastic gift as a mentor to give you honest feedback on what needs work in your manuscript without making you question your ability as a writer. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of your submissions with thought, care and encouragement.”

    “Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”

    “Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”

    People are saying super nice things about me, which is so kind of them because helping people on their writing journeys and their craft and supporting them? That’s pretty boss, honestly.

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

    The Podcast

    The podcast DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE has a new episode about life tips, dog tips and writing advice tomorrow.

     

     

    Book Expo America 

    I’ll be at Book Expo America in NYC on June 1. From 11:30 to 12, I’ll be signing copies of The Spy Who Played Baseball. If you’re going to be there, come hang out.

    Moe Berg The Spy Who Played Baseball
    Moe Berg

    Flying and Enhanced – the Young Adult Science Fiction Series

    Cross Buffy with Men in Black and you get… you get a friends-powered action adventure based in the real world, but with a science fiction twist. More about it is here. But these are fun, fast books that are about identity, being a hero, and saying to heck with being defined by other people’s expectations.

    This quick, lighthearted romp is a perfect choice for readers who like their romance served with a side of alien butt-kicking action School Library Journal

    Sparty knows all about that. More info about FLYING is here and the rest of my books? Right here.

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    The Dog Takes Over the Blog Because Carrie Has Writer Waiting Syndrome

    Everyone, Carrie is not paying attention to anything because she’s in Writer Waiting Mode.

    So, I, Gabby the Dog have taken over the blog when I’m not busy barking at nothing. Spoiler Alert: I am almost always busy barking at nothing.

    Carrie Jones Books
    Gabby’s normal expression when she’s not barking

    Let’s talk about Carrie though. She’s in the place called Writer Waiting Mode, which is what happens to writers when they are done typing on the flat thing and wait for someone to respond. That someone might be an agent, an editor, a teacher, a critique partner, or Chris Evans. Who knows? Writers make no sense.

    But Carrie’s got the sickness full on.

    How to take care of your pathetic writer - some dog tips
    Owls are cute

    Writer Waiting Mode symptoms include:


    1. Panic eyes.
    2. Failure to eat or increased appetite. It depends on the writer.
    3. Pacing, which leads to callused feet.
    4 Constant barely coherent murmuring, “Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it. Please let the editor like it.”

    So basically this doggy needs some love as does my author. But let’s talk about me.

    I would like to announce that normally I look like this:

    Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
    This is a happy dog

    But lately I’ve been looking like this:

    Carrie Jones Books NYT bestselling author's writing tips and life tips. Plus, dogs.
    I look a little bit like I’ve been doing naughty things, don’t I?

    See the difference? My eyes are narrow and I’m hazy and the whole scene is tinted brown? THAT IS BECAUSE CARRIE IS SO OUT OF IT!

    There are certain proper care and maintenance steps that you must do to ensure your writer survives this waiting game. They follow below:

    1. Bark at them until they take you outside. Writers need air and exercise. Make sure to put the leash in their hand so you don’t lose them. Writers in this head space tend to wander.
    2. Bark at the refrigerator so that they remember to feed you and themselves.
    3. Bark at the bed so they don’t stay in it all the time.
    4. Bark at them so they remember they are alive.
    5. Cuddle with them. Writers need a lot of love.

    So, wish her luck. Wish me luck! I’m going off to go bark at her now.

    NYT bestselling kids book Carrie Jones gives writing and life tips.
    Dogs work so hard for us

    Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

    I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

    My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

    Kirkus Reviewsays:  A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

    The Spy Who Played Baseball

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    The podcast,DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

    This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

    And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

    Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
    Look, they made a pull quote!
    Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones Time Stoppers, Book 2, Quest for the Golden Arrow, middle grade fantasy based in Maine
    Look! They made another pull quote.

    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.

    Cooking With A Writer – Dude, There’s a Burrito in my Spaghetti Squash

    I convinced The Man and The Dogs to let me try another vegetarian recipe.

    “It’s for the blog,” I said.

    “Does the blog earn us any money?” The Man asked.

    “Does this vegetarian recipe have bacon bits?” The Dogs asked. “Bacon bits do not count as meat.

    “No,” I said. “And no. And yes… chopping meat into tiny bites and bits does not take away the qualities of meat.”

    The Dogs decided to sleep through the recipe, which I understand. They’d had a hard day of barking at UPS drivers and squirrels, drooling on windows, and longing for meat products.

    The Man did not sleep through the cooking.  He had questions, sort of like a copy editor or something… So many questions about every little detail.

    “Does this mean you’re finally going to get rid of the gigantic spaghetti squash that’s been in our bread box for months?’ The Man asked. “Because then I am good with this recipe as long as we can go get pizza later.”

    I have a lot to put up with here. Obviously.

    carriejonesbooks.blog

    This bad boy recipe is really loosely adapted from a much grander recipe from Cookie and Kate. You should check them out and applaud the beauty that is their website.

    For background if you are new to this part of my blog:

    Everyone always talks about writing being like cooking.

    Clarification: By everyone, I mean writers. Writers like to talk about themselves.

    Anyways, there are a million blogs about how writing is like cooking, but not really anything about cooking like a writer. So, our new Thursday segment is now COOKING LIKE A WRITER.

    https://carriejonesbooks.blog

    What does this mean?

    It means I’m going to share one recipe with you each Thursday and it’s not going to be shiny and pretty and slick. It’s going to be real, people, because writers of kidlit are authentic AF.

    Here is your Thursday recipe. The hardest part is cutting the damn squash, honestly. It was so hard! I had to get help.

    Burrito Bowl inside a Spaghetti Squash! Say What the What?

    Writers! YOU CAN DO THIS! You can make a thought into a story. Of course you can make a squash into a burrito! 

    Also, the calories are on the upper end of the scale because I’m imagining you’re using a lot of toppings because writers are like that if we have other jobs. If you don’t have another job, you probably won’t use cheese, right? Because cheese is expensive! And maybe not as many beans? Then your count is going to be in the 250 range. 

    THESE ARE THE ROASTED SQUASH INGREDIENTS – ACT ONE

    • 2 squash – medium, take out its innards and seedy things.
    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • salt – dash
    • pepper – a few dashes

    THESE ARE THE SLAW INGREDIENTS – ACT TWO

    • 1 package cole slaw mexican salad mix OR two cups of green cabbage shredded
    • 1 can black beans, drain it because it's icky if you don't
    • 1 red pepper, chopped
    • 1/2 cup green onion – all parts white and green, we love all parts here
    • 1/3 cup cilantro
    • 3 TBSP lime juice

    THESE ARE THE SALSA SAUCE INGREDIENTS – ACT THREE

    • 3/4 cup salsa verde
    • 1 avocado – make it ripe, dice it up
    • 1 TBSP lime juice – yes, again with the lime juice
    • 1/4 tsp salt – yes, again with the salt
    • 1/3 cup cilantro, you've got it, again with the cilantro
    • 1 clove garlic

    Random garnishes if you are into that – cheese, more cilantro because we're trying to increase the livelihood of those who produce cilantro, I guess?

      1. I am so sorry. But you have to cut the squash in half. I know! I know! This is hard. This requires muscles. Writers’ only muscles are in our fingers. This is not enough to chop spaghetti squash in half. 

      2. Recruit help to cut the squash in half. This is like a beta reader. It’s okay for a writer/cook to have back-up. Just make sure they are strong. 

      3. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit because that’s important. You can do this. This just requires finger muscles to set the degrees. You’ve got this, writer! 

      4. Spread the olive oil on the squash. Pretend it is the tears that have coalesced after rejection letters. Look at you! You’re tears are making something delicious. 

        Add salt and pepper because why not, honestly? 

      5. Flip the squash over so that the inside parts are now down against the baking sheet. Think about how this is like your own inside parts, hidden inside your story. This is you, this squash! This is your heart and soul hidden from the reader but turning into something beautiful. 

      6. Put the pan in the oven! THIS IS IMPORTANT! Use those writing muscles and eat the time for 40 minutes, but it might take an hour. Squash like stories don’t really follow perfect schedules and some take a little longer. It’s done when a fork can pierce through the flesh.

      7. DO NOT MAKE THE SQUASH YOUR OBJECTIVE CORRELATIVE! I promise. It is not you. It is not your writer soul. You do not need to be pierced easily with a fork. You must remain intact. Take a moment to breathe. You’ve got this. 

      8. Okay. Are you okay? Make sure you’re okay. Don’t think about rejections or bad reviews. Take the slaw mix. Add black beans, the red pepper, the cilantro, the lime juice, the olive oil, the salt, the tears. Toss it around. Let it marinate. This is just like writing a book, isn’t it? Leave it alone for a bit. Do not check it out. It’s good. It’s parts are mixing up and complimenting each other like plot and setting and action and voice and dialogue. Actually, maybe walk away from the kitchen and post an Instagram poem about squash and flesh and forks and marinating slaw. 

      9. Okay. It’s salsa time! Do you feel happier? Did you write a poem? Did anyone like it? Find a blender. Borrow a blender if you don’t have one. It’s like borrowing a plot – totally not a big deal. Cough. Okay. So in the blender put the avocado, the salsa verde, the cilantro and lime juice. Add the garlic because this is not a YA novel set in Seattle. No sparkly vampires here, baby. 

      10. Writer. Um… I forgot to tell you to plug in the blender. Put the top on. Press BLEND. Watch things blend. Blend it till smooth. Marvel at how all these random bits come together to make something yummy. These bits are like your thoughts! Wow…. That’s deep! 

      11. Dude. You are amazing. You have made three parts of something! IT IS LIKE THE OLD BORING THREE-ACT STRUCTURE OF A STORY! Whoah… Mind blown. Do a happy dance. You’re amazing.

      12. Assemble it! Fluff the squash innards up. Put slaw into the hollowed out squash places. Put the salsa verde mix on top. Dang. Look at that. Garnish if you want. Eat your masterpiece! You did this, writer! You! 

      https://carriejonesbooks.blog Recipes with a Writer. Cooking With a Writer

      Man’s Verdict: That was surprisingly good actually and hearty. Probably because like you know the beans and the spaghetti squash has some density to it. The slaw is like a binder. Through some hot sauce in there.

      Dog’s Verdict: Why do you hate us?

      Carrie’s Verdict: This was pretty yummy, but cutting a spaghetti squash is so super hard. There must be an easier way to do that. Wait! I should check the internet for ways to do that.

      Squash cutting
      Squash cutting is serious, people

      The ways are here, thanks to Trial and Eater.

      Also, my middle grade fantasy series, TIME STOPPERS, is totally out there in the world thanks to the wonderful people at Bloomsbury.  It’s about two kids finding love and acceptance and friendship even though their lives have been super horrible. One of them was raised by trolls pretending to be people. Apparently, there are a lot of trolls out there.

      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
      Look, they made a pull quote!

      It’s sort of Harry Potter crossed with Percy Jackson crossed with Inkheart, but set in Bar Harbor and Northeast Harbor, Maine and it’s full of magic and adventure, but mostly it’s full of friendship. Because friends? Friends matter.

      To find out more about it, you can go here. I hope you all have an amazing day and eat yummy food and nobody torments you too much. Watch out for trolls.

       

       

      Revising a Book Is Sort of Like Hell, Basically, So Take Care of Yourself

      Back in 2009, I had just finished the revision of CAPTIVATE (sequel to NEED), and after I happy danced, I pretty much passed out.

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      The revision of that book was the hardest revision I ever had to do, basically because during that revision I had to work my brain really hard and I was still pretty new to writing novels.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      DURING THAT REVISION:

      1. I cut about 40,000 words in two-revision passes.
      2. I added about 20,000 more words.
      3. I lost all word retrieval skills.
      4. I  called everyone I saw BABY  because that was the only word I could retrieve.

      5. I lost one friend who didn’t like that I called him BABY and failed to call him back 8,0000 times.
      6. I gained three more friends who were into the whole BABY thing.
      7. I wondered why I was a writer 74 times (a day).

      My whole life went on hold I made lists like this:

      Tomorrow I will have to:

      1. Call my father who thinks I don’t love him anymore and doesn’t understand that I can’t talk to him in the middle of work when he always talks for at least an hour and it totally ruins my ability to think.

      2. Email my mother who is much more understanding.

      3. Do push-ups.

      4. Pass out again.

      5. Reply to blog comments.

      Yes, that’s how bad it was. I put ‘pass out’ on my list of things to do.

      Revision can be tough especially when there’s a whole lot of pressure on you. To be the best writer and person you can be, you have to take care of yourself, not just your book.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      So here are some tips on how to stay healthy while revising

      Get Some Sleep

      I know! I know! Writers are supposed to write until they are slumped over their desk and drooling on their keyboard, but this is not actually healthy!

      Your brain becomes less efficient the more it needs sleep. So no all-nighters, writing friends.

      Have Healthy Snacks, Not Sugary Ones.

      Sugar makes you fluctuate between big highs and lows. Nobody wants that.

      Stand Up A Lot

      Sitting at the desk forever isn’t good for you. Stand up and work whenever you can or at least take breaks from the sitting.

      Get Exercise

      This is right there with not sitting at your desk all the time, but I made it two separate points. If you take the time to work out before you do your actual writing work, it helps keep you focused and awake.

      Drink Water

      Dehydrated writers are writers who faint. Fainting is romantic in books, but in real life it leads to concussions. Concussions lead to missed deadlines. Nobody wants that.

      Do Good Wednesday

      Be a kindness ambassador. I know! I know! It sounds corny, but I’m so super serious. Leave a note, a present, anonymously somewhere in your town or school for someone specific or anyone at all.

      Need a specific idea on how to do this? There used to be a blog called Secret Agent L (I think) where the person in charge of the blog went around their town doing this sort of thing. It was cool.

      The link is here.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

      I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

      My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

      Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

      The Spy Who Played Baseball

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

      This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

      And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

      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.

      There are Storms in My Brain

      BRAINSTORMING?

      Even the word sounds a little creepy. Like there is a storm inside your brain. It sounds… It sounds sort of violent and hazardous and windy. In this podcast, we talk about the storms inside our brain and how those storms can become story ideas.

      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
      Five Ways to Brainstorm Story Ideas

      Five Ways To Get Story Ideas

      Some authors have a really hard time just getting an idea for a new story. They burn out. They can’t find anything that they think is ‘good enough.’ They just don’t know where to start and that lack of a start makes them blocked.

      This is so sad! There are ways to fight it.

      ONE WAY TO STORM IS BY ADMIRING OTHER’S WORK

      Think about ways that other people’s stories influence you. If you’re an Outlander fan, think about why. If you were to write your own kind of time travel story would it be like that? With a lot of spanking and stuff? Or something totally different. How would it be different?

      ANOTHER WAY TO INCITE A HAILSTORM OF QUESTIONS

      Ask your self questions. It’s all about ‘What if?’ What if Trump wasn’t president in 2018? What if everyone had blue hair? What if the earth had two moons? What if dogs were really space aliens?

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      Sparty the Dog: Wait. You mean they aren’t?

      Carrie the Human: No, buddy… I mean… I don’t think so?

       

      THIRD WAY WHERE THE WIND IS SO STRONG IT PUSHES IMAGES INTO YOU

      Some of my best ideas have come on a treadmill watching the country music network or MTV or some random YouTube channel with the sound off and just seeing images. Eventually, an image will hit me so hard that I have to write a story about it. The happened with my story, Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape).

      FOURTH WAY OF ICY UNDERSTANDING

      Figuring things out. This is sort of like Another Way, but instead of deliberately asking yourself off-the-wall questions, ask questions about things that matter to you. A lot of my stories are because I don’t understand something. Tips on Having a Gay (Ex) Boyfriend was because i couldn’t understand a hate crime that had happened. I mean, you can never understand that kind of hate, but this one incident was so bizarre that they only way I could deal with it was to write my way through it.

      FIFTH WAY – AN EMOTIONAL BLIZZARD

      Get emotional. What is it that always makes you laugh, cry with joy, weep with anger? What are the situations that pull at your heartstrings. Think about that as story. Write.

      DOG TIP FOR LIFE

      Inspiration is just attention. Notice what’s around you. Then ideas will come.

      Dog Tip for Life
      Dog Tip for Life

      WRITING TIP OF THE POD

      Once you have your seed of information and your brain has successfully stormed, don’t second guess your idea. Write it down. If you are a plot-first writer, think up the questions to flesh out your idea – who is the protagonist. What is she up against? What’s her goal? How is she going to get it? Write it down. Do it. Don’t block yourself.

      Writing Tip of the Podcast
      Writing Tip of the Podcast

      All the podcasts are linked to this page right here. You can find out more about us and the podcast there.

      How To Survive When Your Skirt Falls Off In Front of the World

      All of my friends know this story, but I think… Well, I want  you all to learn from my mistakes, so I’m telling it again.

      Ready?

      I am going to give a little word of advice to all writers going to Book Expo America (BEA) for the first time:

      Ready?

      Are you really ready?

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      Here is my big sentence of wisdom: WEAR A SKIRT THAT FITS!

      Seriously. That is the take-away from this.

      That isn’t just a word of advice for writers, but for everyone except nudists, really. If you’re going to a big, important event, make sure your skirt fits.

      I know this from experience because when I first went to BEA my skirt fell off (YES! PAST MY KNEES!) when I got out of the taxi in front of a bunch of people queuing in a line for the taxi. I was feeling all cool and jaunty. I was in New York City and not Maine. There were people everywhere. I was there as an author. A real live author person and my publisher was actually spending money to have me be there.  I felt sort of posh.

      I was so psyched.

      I must never be so psyched.

      Because I am not posh. I am not all cool nor am I jaunty. I am a woman who dresses up like a lobster in the Fourth of July parade.

      Bar Harbor Fourth of july lobster parade
      I have practice being embarrassed.

      Also, I should never be let out of Maine because people in the real world of cities do things like: 

      1. Look posh
      2. Wear make-up on their face
      3. Actually purchase make-up
      4. Wear matching socks
      5. Do not have skirts that fall down

      Yeah. Never let me out of the state because I do not fit in a the world where flannel and fleece and lobster costumes aren’t the go-to clothing choices.

       

      Carrie Jones books Writing Tips
      Stay focused!

      Anyways, back to the story! I’m a writer! I should stay focused.

      NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
      So focused

      Book Expo America is this HUGE industry event that authors really get psyched to have their editors/publishers/marketing team send them to. It’s this super big deal.

      And this is where I had my skirt malfunction. There. At the super big deal place. The place full of people who are posh, make-up wearing, with clothes that fit. The place full of people who could make or break my career.

      I stepped out of the cab. The cab driver was super nice because he wanted a tip. I talked to him a lot because he kept asking me questions about the memoir he was writing because all cab drivers are writing memoirs.

      I stepped out of the cab.

      That was a mistake.

      My skirt abandoned me like a filthy butt-head. Or maybe she was shy? Maybe NYC was too much for her and she’d just given up? Who knows. All I know is she fell. She fell all the way down to my ankles.

      My ankles!

      Spoiler alert: I was not wearing tights.

      Fortunately, there was no paparrazzi, and nobody pulled out their cells so my shame did not go viral. Instead, the people who totally noticed were my cab driver (His eyes got really big and he stopped asking me questions about how to get published) and a father with his eight-year-old son (WHO WILL NEVER BE THE SAME!). The boy totally saw the whole thing. His mouth dropped open. He saw my underwear, seriously saw it. He was like five feet away. My bottom and his head were on the same level.

      The same level!

      *Hides head in shame*

      This experience made me realize that I should not be let out of Maine. Obviously the people at Bloomsbury (my publisher) agreed with this since they did not send me to B.E.A. the next year.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      So, anyway there I stood outside the taxi right in Broadway, right in front of the hotel trying to yank my skirt up while

      a. Paying the taxi driver guy
      b. Not falling down dead from mortification
      c. Juggling three massive bags full of ARCS (That stands for advanced reader copies, non-writer people)
      d. Realizing that hotel security cameras probably totally caught the skirt fall action.
      e. Thanking God that I am not famous and therefore not worthy enough to have the skirt DISASTER image blasted all over the internet.

      I bet you didn’t know that BEA stood for Behind Exposed to America.

      NYT kids bestselling book author carrie jones gives writing tips, survival tips, cooking and dog advice in her blog
      My life is embarrassing. It’s okay. The first step is awareness.

      Well, when you are me it does.

      So, please, authors, remember that if you will be carrying free books, that it may cause you to lose a few pounds, so wear a belt! Please…

      But where is the motivation in all this, you might wonder? This is supposed to be a Monday Motivation post.

      It’s this – I survived.

      Seriously.

      Yes, I may have scarred that poor child and the taxi driver, but I went on and survived and nothing went viral and people still bought my books. And I got a story that I can laugh at a lot when – you know – I’m not crying.

      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
      Totally judging you, human.

      That’s what matters. Cats know that. They fall off the counter? They bounce back up, shake it off, and glare at anyone who dares laugh at them. Cats are resilient. We should be more like that.

      But also, we should make sure our skirts don’t fall down.

       

      Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

      I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

      My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

      Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

      The Spy Who Played Baseball

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday. All the episodes links are on this page.

      This podcast is weird, quirky, and totally authentic. I mean, you can tell we are goofy people just trying to share some writing tips and life tips and we are not sitting in the NPR studio. I mean look at us. We’re total dorks.

      And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones
      Look, they made a pull quote!
      Writing tips and help from NYT bestselling author Carrie Jones Time Stoppers, Book 2, Quest for the Golden Arrow, middle grade fantasy based in Maine
      Look! They made another pull quote.

      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.

      My Mom is Dead, But It’s Her Birthday

      It’s my mom’s birthday today, but she’s dead.

      And that’s weird.

      It’s been a few years now, and I’ve got to admit. It’s still weird.

      A lot of time we talk about the writing life as if it’s this entity that exists out of regular life. So many of my students spend a lot of time apologizing for not writing for a week because they were out living, having a vacation, dealing with a hurt or sick loved one, or just visiting people they care about.

      There are some writers who can only write if everything in their life is amazing.

      There are some writers who write because everything else in their life is miserable.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      There’s no one way to be a writer just like there is no one way to be a human. We just live. That’s the best we can do.

       

      For years and years I’ve wanted to tell the story of my mom’s complicated, passionate, messy life and I’m finally writing a fictionalized version of it. And it’s hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

      This is my mom surrounded by her brothers. She has another half brother and some half sisters because my family is complicated like that. My mom was 5-1 so we are short people.

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      This was my mom’s eulogy that I gave at her funeral. 

      Our mom, Betty, was propped up in a hospital bed in Manchester, NH just about a week ago today, and if she saw herself then she would have had a fit. Believe me. She didn’t like to be out of the house if her hair wasn’t combed or her lipstick wasn’t perfectly applied. I can not begin to tell you how many times I sat in her car, waiting to go to the grocery store, the library, a birthday party, or even the dump, and counted the seconds while she reapplied her lipstick in that painstaking way that mothers have.  Let’s just say that she took her time, and I was a very impatient kid. But there was a reason she wanted to put that lipstick on: She wanted to make sure she looked beautiful.

      She always did though. She always looked beautiful.

      And in the hospital last week, ravaged from illness, with her heart trying so hard to beat, with her lungs trying so hard to breathe, my mother wouldn’t have thought she was beautiful.

      But she was.

      She sat up in that hospital bed and my brother and sister used a plastic spoon to feed her some chocolate and vanilla ice cream from a tiny Styrofoam cup. The moment that first spoonful of ice cream hit her lips, our mother, with her eyes closed and her heart failing, broke into a smile that lit up her entire face with a joy so sheer and absolute that it brought tears to everyone’s eyes.

      She was beautiful.

      She was always beautiful, but that beauty didn’t come from her lipstick, or even from her smile. That beauty came from her soul. That beauty came from her love.

      Our mother was an expert in love.

      carriejonesbooks.blog

      “I love you with every ounce of my being,” she would write on birthday cards, Easter cards, those little tags that go on Christmas presents and emails.

      And proud? She was brilliant at proud. Every grandchild was a trophy to her – shiny and gleaming full of light and importance. She polished them with her love and words and pride in their deeds. Keith, her firefighting hero boy, her handy man, the first of her grandbabies. Kevin, the one she thought looked the most like her – so smart and now a hero boy police officer who helped bring her the great grandbabies that she thought were so beautiful. Kayla. She would tell me sooo many soccer stories about Kayla but her favorite story was how when Kayla was in first grade she learned sign language because a little girl in her grade didn’t have anyone to talk to. She was so proud of Kayla’s kindness and intelligence. Brooks, the grandson who made her laugh with his quick wit and indomitable spirit and zest for life that matched her own. She was always hugging on him when he was a baby, and when he was a toddler, and talking about how neat he was. And Emily, the youngest of them, who she saw the moment she was born and declared, “She’s so smart. Look at her eyes. She’s taking everything in. Oh… she’s so beautiful. She looks like a Morse.”  Nana was so proud of you, Em, proud of the love you gave her, your goofiness, and your accomplishments.

      My mom’s pride didn’t just extend to her grandchildren. She was so proud of her children and friends as well. I remember one day after one of the 80,000 holiday or birthday parties that my sister Debbie hosted so effortlessly, I got in the car with my mom and she started to tear up. She was always tearing up. Deb and Bruce take after her. We are weepy sort of people given to strong love, strong sorrow, and strong joy.

      Anyways, I asked her why she was crying. I was probably impatient about it again, but she said, “I am just so proud of my Debbie. She works so hard. She is so good. She is such a good mother.” It was her highest praise. And then she wiped away her tears and reapplied her lipstick.

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      She recognized the beauty in Debbie and rejoiced in it so much it made her cry like she’d just read a Hallmark card with the word love in it.

      One time we were at a wedding and my brother Bruce was in the wedding party and these women in the pew behind us were gossiping about the gorgeous usher with the dimples and my mom turned around and proudly announced to those women, “That’s my son! He has my dimples.”

      “He’s so handsome,” the girls said.

      “He has a kind heart,” my mom said. “He has a beautiful heart. And beautiful dimples.”

      My mom loved deeply and without reservation. She loved her friends, so many of them are here today. Thank you for being here Mel and Steve and Marie and Clem. Two of you both claim to be my mom’s first boyfriend. I’ll let you fight that out amongst yourselves.

      My mom also loved her husbands. Her first love and her second husband was my stepdad John, and their love was a beautiful forever thing. Her funeral is exactly 29 years after his on the same date. There’s a symmetry in that, and a beauty to their love. But what really shows how remarkable she is was her relationship with my dad, Lew. They chatted and gossiped pretty much daily; even though they were divorced for decades and decades, they were supporting each other constantly even until the very last days of her life. Once, they came to visit me in Maine and people compared them to the Costanzas on Seinfeld. They talked simultaneously, teasing each other constantly, voices getting louder and louder. When I said they were divorced, people wouldn’t believe me because the link between them was so strong. Their friendship was a forever thing.

      My mom was born 77 years ago to a brilliant woman and a talented jazz drummer, grew up with two brothers that she loved and was proud to call siblings. She was a wife, a homemaker, an office manager, a Welcome Wagon Lady, a town employee, a real estate broker, and then worked for the Bedford school system. But those are just titles, just occupations. Those aren’t about her soul. She could slam doors with great passion for her small frame. She could laugh hysterically over things as silly as saying ‘in bed’ after you read a fortune cookie. When she got mad she would yell, ‘sugar diabetes,’ the disease that would eventually take her body. She would gossip with her friends about the results on Dancing with the Stars and The Voice and argue her political opinions without reservation. She was a firecracker and a charmer, spunky and sweet, funny and intelligent, and always, always interested in people’s stories.

      It is hard to watch someone dying and in the time that Emily and I spent with my mom I noticed something interesting in her murmurings. She called a lot for her brother Richard who she adored. She often said with her eyes closed, “I see you Richard. Richard. Richard, is it okay?”

      I imagine he told her that it was okay. I imagine that he took her hand and then gave her a hug, the way she would have hugged anyone at anytime. My mother was the kind of person who hugged her children and grandchildren for ages. We would call it entering the hug-off with Nana and joke that she never let go first.  My mother didn’t let go of people, not of her dear friends, not of her family members. No matter what we did, she held on to us, was proud of us, listened to our stories of joy and pain and goofiness. She hugged you as long as she could physically, and when she couldn’t hug you with her arms any more, she hugged you with her head, loving you no matter how many miles were between you and her.

      Her hugs lasted forever. Her love was that way, too.

      But one of the other things my mother yelled when she was dying was a little bit different. She yelled for toast. Honestly, she hollered for toast like it was a long lost love. “TOAST! TOAST! TOAST!” And when she got it and took a bite she whispered to me, “So good. Do you want some?”

      And it is such a goofy thing, and so sweet, and in a way encapsulates a major aspect of her personality. She liked to feed people toast and roast chicken and chocolate chip cookies and Boston Cream Pie. She liked to give sustenance. She liked to give.  Whether it was food or love or hugs or an ear, my mother was a giver.

      We can all learn from a life like that, a life where one woman created a web of love that connects very different people and friends across space and time. It was a life where love trumped all, a life where helping friends and family ruled, where it was important to  listen to the stories of children as they went into a dance studio or teachers calling on the phone asking for subs,  where it was natural for her to smile at nurses and doctors no matter how much pain she was in, a life where she wanted so badly to know everything that went on in the lives of her loved ones because she cared so very much.

      And we care about you Mom. And we were proud of you. And you were and are very loved.

      So off you go Mom, off you go, holding the hands of the people you have loved you, with those of us who still love you, waving goodbye, singing you songs, telling you stories, making more stories for you to enjoy from your perch in Heaven and eating lots of toast and Boston Cream Pie and chocolate chip cookies in your honor. May the wings of the angels wrap you up as one of their own and may we all live our lives as you did – with love and pride and beauty.

      * I totally stole the ‘off you go’ line from Kevin Costner. Hopefully, he doesn’t mind.

      Random Life Tip: Hug like my mother, damn it. Also, don’t worry about how many times you’ve been married. Worry about how big you’ve loved.

      Random Marketing and Book Things Since I am an Author and Need To Make Money.

      I KNOW! I’M NOT SUPPOSED TO ADMIT IT. 

      My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy was all official on March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can order it!

      Kirkus Review says:   A captivating true story of a spy, secret hero, and baseball player too.

      The Spy Who Played Baseball

       

       

       

       

       

       

       

      The podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, has a new podcast that came out Tuesday.

      And finally, I made a little video for my TIME STOPPERS books.

      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.