How to Be a Fearless Writer… I Mean Cat… I Mean Writer…

Mentors and protectors are there to make sure the dogs don’t eat your face. Notice how your mentors live and survive those dogs. Take what lessons you can from them. Be you, but use other people’s strategies to push away that fear and protect yourself from it.

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Marsie the Cat lives pretty fearlessly despite the fact that she is the smallest mammal in a house full of big mammals with really good jaw strength.

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Despite the fact that the big, white dog is really protective of her doggy toys, Marsie continues to claim her space and live fearlessly even in her sleep. Here’s proof:

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Yes, that is Marsie the Cat sleeping on the dog bed. And not only is she sleeping on the dog bed, she’s actually sleeping on the big, white dog’s favorite dog toy. Does Marsie care? No. She knows what she wants and she asserts her cat self and takes it.

Those of us who are sometimes overwhelmed by fear can learn a lot from the Mars Bars. Here are some things you can do.

  1. Find a cozy place if you can and claim it. Seek support if you have to. If your safe space is also the dog’s safe place, make sure that you have humans to back you up. That might be a coach, a counselor, or a really wise friend. Don’t let your fear keep you from going after what you really want.
  2. Be who you are and find people who will love you and protect you. Mentors and protectors are there to make sure the dogs don’t eat your face. Notice how your mentors live and survive those dogs. Take what lessons you can from them. Be you, but use other people’s strategies to push away that fear and protect yourself from it.
  3. Write – the best way to combat your fear of writing or being a failed, sucky writer is to actually write. Make a bargain with yourself and set a tiny goal if you’re feeling trapped by fear. Write 100 words if 1,000 seems daunting. Eventually it won’t.

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Why Are We Afraid

  1. We’re afraid of other people’s judgement. We’re afraid they’ll think less of us and judge us for not being perfect. Big hint: Those people (and dogs) aren’t worth it. Big secret: If they judge you for trying hard? They are basically a troll and so not worthy of your time. Ignore them. Come hang out with me.
  2. We’re afraid of failing because we think failure is a big deal. It isn’t. It’s super freaking normal.  But we get embarrassed about it. It’s okay. That embarrassment will pass. My skirt once fell off in front of a ritzy hotel in NYC. People saw my underwear. My underwear had hearts on it. The event was horrifying, but I totally survived and it didn’t go viral.
  3. Fear feels bad. For most of us, fear isn’t pleasant. It’s panic. It’s heart racing, sweaty, and just… it’s uncomfortable so we avoid it. Sometimes, we have to embrace it, to break through the terror and do what we are meant to do – write, live, create, connect. You can do this.

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We believe in you!

Writing Prompt:

Are you afraid of failing? Write 500 words about that.

Life Prompt:

How can you be brave this week. Try it out. Let me know.

Random website link is herewww.carriejonesbooks.com 

Where the podcast will be is here! 

dogs

Full disclosure: I have never been afraid of anything as much as I am afraid of this podcast.

Writing Coach: I’m a writing coach sometimes. I am also teaching at the Writing Barn. It’s a lot of fun.

My next book, The Spy Who Played Baseball is coming out with Kar-Ben soon. Preorder Link   

The Spy Who Played Baseball

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Three Ways To Create Characters W/ Epilepsy and Not Make Them Stereotypes

Don’t let one attribute define the character. An author can’t make a character’s one attribute be that she has seizures any more than the author can make that character’s one attribute be that she is only her race or only cranky or gay or hearing-impaired or short or really into ping-pong, so into ping-pong that she only refers to it as table tennis.

What did the nurse do when she saw that her patient was having a seizure in the bathtub?

She threw in the laundry.          

  -Common epilepsy joke on the Internet

Lovely, right?  Dehumanizing. Who cares if the patient drowns. The laundry is more important.

 

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Me being more than someone with epilepsy

 

  1. Don’t Let One Attribute Define an Entire Character

 It’s the same as creating any character. Don’t let one attribute define the character. An author can’t make a character’s one attribute be that she has seizures any more than the author can make that character’s one attribute be that she is only her race or only cranky or gay or hearing-impaired or short or really into ping-pong, so into ping-pong that she only refers to it as table tennis.

Some authors use sketches to create a full character, asking themselves questions such as: What does my character want? How old was she when she crawled? What was the worst thing that ever happened to her in kindergarten? Does she like hot dogs and if not, why?   

     

 Characters always need to be well rounded, whether they have epilepsy or not.

“A helpful concept to remember when developing characters for a story is that, as in real life, they should exhibit a mosaic of overlapping, sometimes contradictory traits.” (Epstein 56)

I was at my in-laws house and several teenage cousins were sitting in the living room watching television. Someone was dancing poorly on the sitcom they were watching.   

“Oh my God,” one of the girls said. “It’s like she’s having a freaking seizure… look at her.”   

“What a spaz,” another girl said.

She snorted.   

“Freaky.”   

“Super freak.”

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Me. The person they call freak. 

2. Be Aware of the Stereotypes

Writers can and should incorporate characters with epilepsy and disabilities into children’s fiction and they can do it without perpetuating negative biases against people with disabilities. To do so, authors must be aware of the stereotypes, write against the stereotypes, and create well-rounded characters.

Yeah, I’d like it if tv writers did it as well. But, right now, I’ll take what I can get.

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Em hugging a dog. She does that well. 

My daughter Emily snuggles into her bed. She stares at me, smiles, pulls me down into a hug and says, “Mommy, I wish you didn’t ever have seizures.”           

“Yeah, me too,” I say and smell her hair, which reminds me of bananas.           

“It’s not a big thing, though, right?”            

Her eyes are teddy bear sweet and her fingers twirl a piece of my hair.            

“Nope,” I say. “Not a big thing at all.”  

Do a web search on fictional children’s books dealing with epilepsy and you don’t come up with much. Even epilepsy foundations have meager resources for picture book fans. Epilepsy.com lists just eight books that deal with epilepsy in a fictional narrative. Yet, at least 300,000-plus American children with epilepsy have friends and schoolmates. Not many of those children connect with books that deal with the subject.            

A majority of books that do exist for children have their characters whose development comes from growing beyond a negative stereotype of someone with epilepsy.

What I’m wondering is why?

In her paper, “Portrayal of People with Disabilities in Children’s Literature: 1940s to 1980s” Maeleah Carlisle wrote, “Children’s literature often reflects the current society’s values and attitudes.” (1)           

That is true today.

It is no wonder that many authors use negative epileptic stereotypes for their protagonists. Most people have slight understanding of the disorder. Is this true about other conditions? Other disabilities?

In a paper about epilepsy and stigma printed in the Journal of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology, the scientist’s conclusion was, “Stigma not only coexists with lack of information, but also with inappropriate behaviors .” (Fernandes 213)

Children’s authors have been unintentionally perpetuating those stigmas. But the lack of literature itself is also perpetuating the silence around conditions and disorders.  This is troubling because “Children’s literature can inform and influence children’s images of people with disabilities.” (Carlisle 5)

 Colin Barnes and researchers Biklen and Bogdan illustrated multiple ways in which literature and the media stereotypes people with disabilities. Those stereotypes also exist in children’s literature .

Those stereotypes include: 

  1. Person with disabilities is pitiable.
  2. Person with disabilitiesis the helpless victim of violence.
  3. Person with disabilities is evil.
  4. Person with disabilities is saintly, godly, a superhero. Some sort of extraordinary trait occurs to make the reader love the epileptic champion/hero.
  5. Person with disabilities is worthy of ridicule.
  6. Person with disabilities is “own worst enemy.” They could get better if they would just take their medicine, not drink, etc…
  7. Person with disabilities is a burden. They are a drain on their parents’ emotions, money, time.
  8. Person with disabilitiescan’t live a regular life with normal activities. (Biklen and Bogdan 6-9; Barnes 2-7)

 In examining the existing children’s literature, I found that in most books the protagonists’ character development hinged on breaking free of the stereotypes of epilepsy. This is also somewhat true of other disabilities, but not always. It’s the “not always” that gives me hope.

While at Vermont College in January 2006, I told fellow students my thesis topic.            

“Wow,” they said.

Then they’d usually nod and something would shift behind their eyes. They would pause, maybe bite their lips, maybe look to the side and then almost every single one of them asked. “Why are you so interested in epilepsy?”          

 “Because I have seizures,” I said.           

“Oh,” said one.           

“Really,” said another.           

My favorite person? She just nodded and said, “That’s cool.” 

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Me hiding behind a gnome. 

3. Do Whatever You Can To Understand Epilepsy

If you are writing about an experience outside of yourself and that experience is often used to ‘other’ people in a really bad way, you need to put in the work so that you don’t reduce your characters, so you can get your head into a space that is close to empathy and understanding.

What’s it like having seizures? It’s not really like anything for me. It just is. But my experience with epilepsy isn’t everyone’s experience with epilepsy and that’s important to remember. There’s no one way to have epilepsy or autism or diabetes or anything. There is no one way to be.

I sort of hate referencing my own life and books when I post about things, because it always seems so self-serving, but when I wrote TIPS and the sequel, LOVE AND OTHER USES FOR DUCT TAPE, I wrote them because I wanted to have REAL characters with complicated problems and complicated thoughts and complicated personalities. My daughter, Em, was begging for this. But something inside of me was begging for this too. I wanted to write a book where someone had seizures, but it wasn’t the end of the world, it wasn’t what defined them, it was just something about them, just like it was something about me.

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Author Rick Riordan said in our correspondence, “As far as why is it important to have characters with differences, again I had a very personal reason. I wanted my son to relate to the hero and feel better about the learning problems that were causing him trouble in school. It’s also real life to have lots of different kinds of people, and it can make for richer writing.”

That’s so important.  It’s something we’re still learning in so many ways. All of us.

Sources: 

Barnes, Colin. “Disabling imagery and the media.” <www.ncpedp.org/comm/commresrch.htm>.  January 17, 2006

Biklen, D. and R. Bogdan. “Media portrayals of disabled people: a study in stereotypes.” Interracial Books for Children Bulletin. 8: 1977, 4-9.

Carlisle, Maeleah. “Portrayal of People with Disabilities in Children’s Literature; 1940s to 1980s.” Beta Phi Mu — Chi Chapter. 1997. Indiana State University. 24 Jan. 2006 1987

Fernandes, Paula. “Stigma Scale of Epilepsy:Conceptual Issues.” Journal of Epilepsy and Clinical Neurophysiology 3 Dec 2004. 21 Jan 2006 <http://www.epilepsia.org.br/epi2002/JEp213-218.pdf.

Jacoby, Ann. “Public Knowledge, Private Grief: A Study of Public Attitudes to Epilepsy in the United Kingdom and Implications for Stigma.” Epilepsia Nov 2004. 21 Jan 2006 <http://www.epilepsia.org.br/epi2002/JEp21http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.

Martin, Jenna. “Teens with Epilepsy: Living with Stigma.” Epilepsy.com. Epilepsy Therapy Development  Project.. 20 Jan. 2006 <http://www.epilepsy.com/articles/ar_1089388403.html>.

Mellon, C.A. “Evaluating the portrayal of disabled characters in juvenile fiction.” Journal of Youth Services in Libraries. 2(2): 1989, 143-150

 

Writing Prompt: 

What is it about you that you don’t feel like people don’t understand? That they make into a stereotype?

Life Prompt:

How can you show someone that you see them? What can you do to see them better?

 

Random Other Writing and Work News:

The pub date for THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID, is March? You can preorder it here or anywhere. It’s an anthology that I have a piece in.

9781942186342-THINGS HAVENT SAID-cover

 

I’m starting a podcast. The landing page will be here and also on my website and in all those typical podcast places, hopefully. It will be raw. It will be quirky because seriously… look at me… I don’t know how to be normal.

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I am incredibly terrified about this podcast. So, please leave a review once you check it out.

Also, on my website are the stories of how my books like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS came into being, how I paint to get more into my stories, or more info about me and all that stuff that’s supposed to be on websites.

welcometomagic

 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who was a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And there you go, Friday’s blog post. Please let me know here if you can (and not just on Facebook) if you’ve checked it out. I hope you have an amazing, wonderful weekend where you shout out who you are to the world and the world loves you for it.

CARRIE JONES DECIDES TO FINALLY ACT LIKE AN AUTHOR AND GIVE UP

31 January, Issue 1, Vol 1.

ELLSWORTH, MAINE –– Sitting at her Powerbook with the missing “Y” key and staring at the blank Word document on the screen, a young adult novelist gave it all up today and decided to act like a real novelist.  Surrounded by her agent, her editors and her dogs, she admitted that she might as well become one with the Hemingway.

“I always knew I was failing at being a writer,” she said while gulping down some boxed wine (red variety), “but I never understood what it was that I was missing. Now I know: it was misery. I was missing the whole misery element. But lately, I’ve been feeling really depressed and consequentially I feel like more of a writer. That rocks!”

“You are a rock star baby,” her agent agreed. “But you’ve got a little of that wine on your chin. Ew. So gross.”

img_1604 Right here? On my chin?

Her agent then whisked out her ancient Blackberry and texted the international rights agent about the philosophy of the Britney Spears and remembered fondly when this book sold to so many countries.

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After apologizing for using adverbs in her above quote, Jones explained that she’d always been a happy and productive writer and she used to shake her head at other writers who would moan a lot about missing muses and being blocked.

“I thought they were just being pretentious,” she admitted. “I mean… seriously… muses? Like in that old movie Xanadu or something? It seemed so hoity-toity.”

Now she understands.

Devastated by the thing people call winter, (“All those cold dark days,” she murmured), plus a cold that would not quit (“A woman can sniff in only so much before the snot affects the brain,” she added, sniffing in), Jones has decided that despite the fact that she writes children’s books she is no longer going to skip and happy dance in her kitchen, she is instead — going to embrace the misery.

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“I will wrap my arms around it and pull it to my heaving bosom,” she said and then added, “Oh. Was that too melodramatic? It was… It was… wasn’t it? Damn, can I do nothing right?”

Her editors pet her on the shoulder and offered more box wine (it’s cheaper) or at least green tea admonishing her to buck up and hit her deadline for the third book in the TIME STOPPERS series.

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“Her friends have already noticed a change. They have kindly inundated her with well meaning emails asking what is wrong,” said one editor who frantically pointed at the keyboard. “But that’s just making her procrastinate more.”

“But they’re writers,” Jones said sniffing some ModPodge because it usually makes her happy. “How do I know they aren’t just trying to get some sort of material for their own novels?”

Nobody responded to this question.

“Plus, the blogging. Why are all our YA and middle grade authors all about the blogging?” Jones wailed. “And the tweets. And they all seem to be friends with each other and promote each other’s books will living terribly exciting lives in coffee shops and Scotland. Everyone is always in Scotland!”

Jones added that her agent has called her multiple times for no reason in the last week.

“It’s my job to check in,” her agent said. “The well-being of my writers is very important to me.”

Her agent then started texting again. This time it was an appeal to add a certain someone’s name to the list of HOTTEST AGENTS IN CHILDREN”S LITERATURE.

“That John Green is always winning,” her agent mumbled. Then she turned her attention back to her client. “You know I love you, baby.”

“She’s just worried I won’t finish the third book,” Jones sighed. “Although… it is nice hearing a human voice occasionally. You know she is human. And when she calls I remember how dialogue is supposed to go. Plus,  I’m tired of talking to my computer.”

Jones then ate an entire carton of Edy’s Ice Cream Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough while the editors looked on and added, “Did I ever tell you that Steve Wedel said I was like a puppy? Or that Cynthia Leitich Smith said I was like a kitten? Yeah? Well, whatever, I’m telling you again. People used to pet my head and tell me what a good writer I was… Now… Now…”

She then started sobbing. “None of this would have happened if I had a writing group.”

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Writing Tip – Write a fake news story about yourself or your character. Look up there! It’s super easy. If you can’t think of a subject, write about Sparty the Dog wearing a tinfoil hat.

Do Good Wednesday – 

I’ve been talking a lot about big volunteer organizations and apps on Wednesdays, but you can also intentionally do good in smaller ways and that’s powerful.

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Small can be powerful!

So here are a couple ideas, but I bet you can make some of your own! 

  1. Write a thank you on paper and give it to somebody.
  2. Encourage someone that you don’t always remember to encourage.
  3. Thank three people for things in one day.
  4. Be patient.
  5. Think about the person you don’t like, that really super annoying horrible person of evil? Think of one good thing about them.
  6. Say ‘hi’ to someone.
  7. Give someone who never treats his/herself a treat. 

Random Marketing Thing – My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who became a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And the podcast, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE, is getting closer and closer to real. I’m terrified.

Marsie the Cat and the Evil Necklace of Tangles

So much joy comes from just exploration, of touching the shiny things, of creating something bizarre like an ice carousel, of doing what you’ve never done before.

 Marsie the Cat: Human, you aren’t going to post about me getting my claw tangled in your Evil Necklace of Tangles are you?

Me: 

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Marsie: Seriously?

Me: Yeah, but it’s good, I promise!

Marsie: Do I come off like an idiot? Will the dogs make fun of me after I read it?

Me: You’re worried about the judgement of creatures that try to eat your poop, Marsie. Think about that.

Marsie: You’re so right, human. Blog away! But make me look awesome.

 

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So, yesterday Marsie saw a necklace that I’d just untangled and left on the table. Marsie thought something like, “Oh, bright! I must touch it.”

Her claw got snared in the necklace.

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There was about 30 seconds of cat panic and then both Marsie and the necklace fell on the floor. Marsie was TOTALLY okay. The necklace managed to re-tangle itself because that’s necklaces do.

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The dogs watched the whole thing and Marsie did the Cat-Blow-Off-Thing where you could tell she was super embarrassed and was trying to pretend nothing happened at all, but I was like, “Marsie, you are so cool!”

And the reason I though that – other than ALL cats are cool – was that she saw something shiny and she just went for it. She was brave.

This weekend, my friends made an ice carousel on a pond. They hauled out a hammock, a fire pit, a whole bunch of stuff, and had a party. Kids skated. Adults skated. People laughed and connected and there was community going on – this beautiful sharing of story and emotion and also crazy fun.

There’s a lot of risk involved in this.

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  1. It’s a party and there is always a risk that nobody will show.
  2. They used chainsaws and cut the ice.
  3. It’s ICE! You can fall through that and die. This little cutie fell in the crack, but luckily his human was right there and snatched him out like a hero human. He is absolutely okay. Don’t worry!

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4. It’s ICE! You can slip and break things.

But it was amazing and fun and joyous and nobody got hurt. See Thom and Nicole? They look joyous and unhurt!

IMG_0043And all of this, plus Marsie’s interaction with the NECKLACE OF EVIL TANGLES, made me realize that so much joy comes from just exploration, of touching the shiny things, of creating something bizarre like an ice carousel, of doing what you’ve never done before.

I hope that you all get the chance to do something amazing and new this week.

Writing Prompt: 

Write about something you’re character is afraid to try.

Life Prompt:

How can you do something new this week?

Random website link is herewww.carriejonesbooks.com 

Where the podcast will be is here! 

The Spy Who Played Baseball Preorder Link   

 

 

I am Afraid To Be Seen – Friday Writing Life

There are certain things you are supposed to be afraid of when you’re little – normal things, right?

            Spiders.

            Dead people.

            Spiders coming out of dead people.

            Dead people coming out of spiders.

           

But I was afraid of being – just being – being alive – being noticed. Being.

 

I first started hiding in my bedroom closet when I was four, I think.

It wasn’t my first hiding attempt. That began when I started to see. When I was born they thought I was completely blind. It wasn’t for months before they realized that I could sort of see, just in a blurry way in which there were four copies of everything, four versions of the same truth, I guess.

Before my eye operation, I’d push myself against walls, crawl behind the couch or toddle there, feeling the scratchy fabric behind my hands. It happened at night too. I’d get in my bed after Mom kissed me goodnight and I’d pile all my stuffed animals around me and then pull the covers tightly up over my head.

“I am a nothing girl,” I would whisper. “I am nothing. Nobody can find me. Nobody can find me.”

I thought that this was a genius hiding space when I was four, and that makes sense because I was young and stupid, but what doesn’t make sense is how I sometimes still hide there, sometimes.

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When I was four and murmuring

In the closet

Because it was darker than the bed

And safer

With walls around me.

 

My mother’s voice

Rattled through the house

Hysterical

Hysterical

Calling my name

 

Screaming it eventually

Panicked beyond belief

And I sat there behind the clothes

Dangling down

Hand me downs

Of other kids’ better lives.

 

She found me

Of course

I made a noise or something

Giving myself away

And she found me there

Huddled up and crying

 

“Why are you crying, honey,”

she screamed, no she sang, no

she whispered. “Why are you crying?”

 

“I’m a nothing girl,” I whispered,

no shouted, no spoke, no screamed.

“I’m a nothing.”

 

And she bundled

me into her

arms and said, “No,

no you’re not,”

which of course

was exactly the wrong

thing to say.

 

There are certain things you are supposed to be afraid of when you’re little – normal things, right?

Spiders.

Dead people.

Spiders coming out of dead people.

Dead people coming out of spiders.

 

But I was afraid of being – just being – being alive – being noticed. Being.

Jamie, one of the main characters in the TIME STOPPERS series is a lot like this, too. Albeit for different reasons – his fake family are trolls.

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I think a lot of us have to deal with trolls in one way or another. It can make us hide.

Almost every Wednesday, I go to my Rotary club’s meeting and then that night, I head to one of my friends’ houses where people gather to hang out. Some people play poker. Some people knit. Some people run around with their kids. Everyone eats.

This Wednesday, I wore a big orange necklace on top of my typical L.L. Bean navy crew sweater. Everyone mentioned it. And I decided to be honest and say, “Look. I realize that I like to blend in. I sit on the floor sometimes. I wear all dark clothes. I hide behind a camera and take pictures. This is my first step in trying to be brave. This necklace. I’m trying not to hide.”

And everyone was “cool.” Because if you’re even going to notice something like that, you’re probably going to be supportive.

There’s this weird thing about writers, we communicate through our stories, but we also can hide behind those stories. We put the words out there, hope someone notices because writing is a lot of effort and it is horrible when you create something, try to communicate something, and nobody responds.

But at the same time, you can’t control other people’s reactions to you, to your story. And I’ve spent my whole life so afraid of people’s reactions, of them hurting me, that I hide.

I’m pretty sure that’s got to stop one necklace, one blog post, one podcast at a time.

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This picture is a big deal for me because I’m actually not wearing a sweater. I have worn sweaters in Mexico in July. I wore a sweater while having a baby. Seriously. Issues here, people. 🙂

Writing Prompt: 

What do you try to hide?

Life Prompt:

How can you show someone that you see them? What can you do?

 

Random Other Writing and Work News:

Due to a glitch in distribution, I think – I honestly can’t remember – the pub date for THINGS WE HAVEN’T SAID, has been moved back to March? You can preorder it here or anywhere. It’s an anthology that I have a piece in.

9781942186342-THINGS HAVENT SAID-cover

 

I’m starting a podcast. The landing page will be here and also on my website and in all those typical podcast places, hopefully. It will be raw. It will be quirky because seriously… look at me… I don’t know how to be normal.

13501976_10154349897204073_460166726311376845_n

What do you like about podcasts? What do you hate? I’ll try not to do the hate things.

Also, on my website are the stories of how my books like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS came into being, how I paint to get more into my stories, or more info about me and all that stuff that’s supposed to be on websites.

welcometomagic

 

My nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg, the pro ball player who was a spy,  is still coming out March 1 and I’m super psyched about it. You can preorder it. 

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And there you go, Friday’s blog post, which runs counter to be impulse to be invisible. Please let me know if you’ve checked it out. I hope you have an amazing, wonderful weekend where you shout out who you are to the world and the world loves you for it.

Imposter Syndrome – You Kick Butt. Believe It.

My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

So, for my Wednesday Writing Wisdom post, I’m going to partially reblog something from 2016 with some new content because I still deal with this monster all the time.

What is this monster?

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Not Marsie the Cat.

 

It’s Imposter Syndrome

 

How I Battle Imposter Syndrome

 

So, recently I was having a big period called, “I Suck At Everything.” It’s pretty much a variant of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.

 

What is imposter syndrome? It’s when you feel like everyone is suddenly going to realize that you are:

 

  1. A big fraud.
  2. You suck
  3. Basically a big, sucky fraud that’s about to get called out by the YOU TRULY SUCK YOU LYING FRAUD PATROL WHO HAVE EXPRESSIONS LIKE THIS

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And lots of amazing people have Imposter Syndrome. What kind of amazing people? People like Maya Angelo who has said,

 

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

 

So, yeah, Maya Angelou, THE Maya Angelou has it, which kind of only makes mine worse because I think, “Um… I’m not that cool. I’m not even worthy of having imposter syndrome.”

 

This is even though I logically know that I’ve been on the NYT bestseller list, some of my books were bestselling books in other languages and I’ve even received awards for writing and I get happy reader email. And even though I just looked up “Carrie Jones Quotes” and found all these things I said that someone put to pictures/photos.

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(Yes, I did just google myself). My mom always used to google me, but she’s dead so I can’t rely on her to tell me things about myself – or all the other Carrie Joneses in the world – any more.

 

Anyways, here is the thing:

 

Logic does not matter when you have imposter syndrome.

 

Some people think imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re more important than you actually are. This might be true for others, but – ohmyfreakingword – seriously? I barely think I am doing anything halfway good enough to make this world a tiny bit better. This is so not my problem. It’s totally okay if it’s part of yours though.

 

My personal imposter syndrome is linked to my I DO NOT DO ENOUGH syndrome. For instance if I don’t make a TO DO LIST and strike things off each day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing all day. If I accomplish nothing all day, I hate myself, feel guilty, and go to bed depressed. So, I always try to make to do lists like this:

 

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This visual representation, PLUS the advice of a friend on Facebook (Yes, they do exist), made me realize that I had to do the same thing with my imposter syndrome. I had to start collecting visual evidence to convince myself that I don’t completely suck.

 

I remind myself that I have been called out before and I have survived. As someone connected to our local, mostly volunteer fire department, I witness our community come together a lot. It is a beautiful and glorious thing to see firefighters leave their families, dinners, jobs and go out and help other people. I blogged about this. A large, pedantic man caught me off guard less than a week later and berated me for writing schmaltz. That schmaltz was my heart.

 

I was devastated. I was irate. I survived.

 

I try to remind myself of all the things I have survived, sleeping in a car, witnessing a terror attack, sleeping with the enemy, massive amounts of seizures, assault, in order to realize that people thinking I’m a fraud? Calling me out for sucking? It will hurt. It does hurt. But it can be overcome. Other people have overcome so much more.

 

Reminding myself of the bad things that I’ve survived isn’t something I like to do, because I don’t want those things to define me. I don’t let them define me. But sometimes, it’s good to realize that being a survivor is something I can be proud of.

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Some people have imposter syndrome that comes from comparisons. They see someone else doing awesomely (In the book world, a prize, a list, an invitation to a conference) and think, “I suck because that is not me.”

 

Mine doesn’t work that way.

 

Mine is about fear not about envy. Mine is about the fear that I will be ridiculed for who I am and how I think. Mine is about the fear that my abilities are not enough. (Honestly, I can barely tie my shoes because my mechanical skills are so awful.) Mine is about being so poor that you don’t know how you’ll survive, about pain from being betrayed, about being hurt physically,  about public ridicule because of your political views or decisions, about cognitive degeneration, about not fitting in because you grew up outside of what society’s norms are. My fear is about things that have already happened to me and I don’t want to happen again.

 

My imposter syndrome is about exposure even when I have already been exposed, which is why I am doing a podcast, “Dogs are Smarter Than People.” I am facing that fear.

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My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.

 

My imposter syndrome is about fear.

 

That’s all it is.

 

Fear.

 

So I remind myself with my notebook that I have had  joys, that I have had tiny, kind interactions, where I have touched other people’s stories and gotten to glimpse at their truths and their lives and how amazing is that? It is amazing.

 

My notebook is to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, I have had those moments, been blessed by them, and lucky. It’s to remind me that you can’t be an imposter when all you are doing is being yourself. Your self.

Go be yourself, people.

Go write your stories! The world needs to hear them.

The Spy Who Played Baseball

Do Good Wednesday – 

My Rotary Club and the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival are co-sponsoring this Story Trail in Bar Harbor that we hope to get up and running this year. It’s a lot of building and planning. I’m a little freaked out about it, honestly, because I think I’m in charge.

It’s 16 story stations spread out around our town. Each station has a two-page picture book spread. You follow a map and read a book, which promotes literacy, being outside, and getting some exercise. Plus, it’s for kids, which is super cool. It requires a lot of planning, building, and consensus-building, but it’ll be worth it, right?

Tell this introvert that it’ll be worth it.

You should check out Rotary though.

We’re doing this project thanks to our club’s money from fundraising and a district grant, but what Rotary does is get community leaders from all around the world (1.2 million) together to take action and make positive change in the world and their local communities. This can be in big ways or small ways. All ways matter. This Wednesday maybe we can all think of tiny things we can do to help someone else or promote something awesome.

Marsie’s Monday Motivation – Be Vulnerable and Ignore the Dogs

Marsie the Cat: Let’s talk about fear, human.

Me: Again?

Marsie: Yes. Again.

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Me: I’m just afraid of so much stuff.

Marsie: You’re afraid of failing, of being vulnerable, of exposing yourself to the world, am I write? Or worse – What if nobody even notices you?

Me: 

Marsie: 

Me: How do you know so much?

Marsie: I am a cat. Therefore, I know all things. Plus, I know about fear. But I don’t care. I live my life. Look at this photo. I am on the dog bed and right there – it is the evidence that the dogs destroy things! That was a perfectly good owl toy and it is dead now. That dog has jaws of steel and could eat me in a second for daring to be on her bed. But do I care? No! I still claim the dog bed. You, human, need to claim the dog bed.

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Marsie doesn’t understand that sometimes it’s hard to claim the dog bed. I wrote about this on Instagram yesterday because I was thinking about my grandmother.

She wrote so many poems and made so many paintings that she never let anyone see.

She couldn’t handle the scorn. But she couldn’t NOT create things.
She was afraid of the ocean, thought it was this massive, beautiful deadly force.

Men can be like that too sometimes, she told me. I don’t know why we are expected to be so strong. Why must we be so strong and vulnerable?

I was like ten when she asked me that so I didn’t have an answer.

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This painting is inspired by one of her paintings that she left unfinished. I don’t know if she had copied the original or if it was her own, but the woman walking across a realistic earth, approaching the sea all huddled and afraid and then reaching out for the unreal sky makes me think of her. Afraid but reaching out.

I am not an artist. I have absolutely no training at all except for a high school art class, but all I want to do is paint.

I am not a great philosopher, but still I’m compelled to share what I think.

I sound like a muppet and slur my s’s, but still I’m making a podcast and I’m in charge of a really intensive online writing class that forces me to talk on video to 12 people every month. And the whole time I think – I am so afraid to do this. People will hear my voice and laugh (not in a good way).

All these things scare me so much.

And every time I write a book, I think: 

What if nobody reads it?

What if nobody likes it?

But life and creating is all about vulnerability. It’s about saying yes to experiences even though it’s so scary. Yes, just writing a blog post is scary to me because it’s vulnerable.

What is it that makes you vulnerable? 

What is it that makes you scared to say ‘yes’ to things? 

Because here’s the thing: You are enough. You are good enough and real enough and authentic. Your story matters. And if other people don’t see it? Their loss. What matters is that YOU see it.

I’m totally trying to work on this right now. Seriously, all my tweets are about it. The podcast that’s premiering in February is about it.

I hope you’ll work on it with me.

Random website link is here – www.carriejonesbooks.com

Things We Haven’t Said – Things I Haven’t Said Either

There are a lot of things I haven’t said in my life.

That’s true for almost everyone, I think.

I’ve been tweeting a lot of pictures of my animals and trying to be motivating and uplifting and let people tell their stories. All stories matter. Yours matters. If there is anything I could do in this weird world, I wish I could convince everyone that their stories matter, that other people matter, that we all matter.

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YOU MATTER! 

I’m in a new anthology that’s coming out and it was hard for me to write the piece that I donated.  I’m not used to writing being hard. I’m used to writing being easy, being an escape from the bad things, a place where I can make my own world and control what happens in that world in a way that I can’t control what happens in my own.

But sometimes you have to write the hard things even when you don’t want to.

This was one of those times.

All net proceeds from Things We Haven’t Said will be donated to support survivor services.

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“This book will save hearts.
This book will save minds.
This book will save lives.”
–A.S. King, author of Still Life with Tornado and I Crawl Through It

“Powerful, important and timely, this is a collection of voices that tell, in their own words, what it means to be a survivor–a message of hope and healing that belongs on every young person’s bookshelf.”
–Amber Smith, New York Times bestselling author of The Way I Used to Be and The Last to Let Go

“Challenging, heartbreaking and ultimately healing…a beautiful firsthand account from rape survivors about the impact of sexual assault on their lives.”
–Christa Desir, author of Fault Line, Bleed Like Me, and Other Broken Things

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This is me before the thing that I hadn’t said happened. This was my boyfriend, Joe. He’s a good human.  Remember how I blogged about when I got epilepsy. This is how I got epilepsy. 

Silence is a powerful thing. And breaking silence, around heavily stigmatized issues such as sexual violence, can sometimes seem impossible, especially for those who find themselves on the inside. This is particularly true for young people. Things We Haven’t Said: Sexual Violence Survivors Speak Out  features a lot of talented contributors,  and is literally giving voice to those who need help speaking up and getting help. The book — made up of essays, poems, letters, vignettes, interviews, and concrete information — breaks the silence and verbalizes the experiences of these victims and, in doing so, creates a chorus of hope for children and young adults who have experienced similar abuse.

The book comes out Feb. 6. You can preorder it here or anywhere.

Writing Prompt: 

What haven’t you said? What are you afraid to say?

Random Other Writing and Work News:

I handed back my first three packets to my students at the Writing Barn today and I am so amazed by them and how awesome they are. They are gifts to this world.

I’m starting a podcast. The landing page will be on my website. What do you like about podcasts? What do you hate? I’ll try not to do the hate things.

Also, on my website are the stories of how my books like the NEED series or TIME STOPPERS came into being, how I paint to get more into my stories, or more info about me and all that stuff that’s supposed to be on websites.

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RAINN is an organization that helps survivors of sexual violence if you need help and you want to start looking for resources.

Weird Men in the Library – Wednesday Writing Wisdom?

I went to a library in another town so that I could write without being interrupted by the dog, cat or phone.

IMG-2278Marsie, if you don’t know, insists on me petting her whenever she eats. She eats a lot. It isn’t productive for the novels.

Anyway, it was really fun being in a different library, sort of like this spiritual experience, so I wandered around looking at people taking out books, which was awesome.

I meandered through the children’s section, which was much bigger than ours. Then I sat down in the room with all the magazines and the comfy chairs. There were way more comfortable chair there than in my library, too, no offense to my library.

I tried to make myself as unfriendly as possible because the goal here was to work.

I moved a big chair away from where it faced four other chairs, turned it around so that it was one foot away from a big window. I sat with my legs crossed, turned on my notebook, plugged in my headphones and started writing.

One hour later he came… a little, old man brandishing a newspaper.

He motioned to me. “Miss?”

I took out my headphones and smiled.

He showed me the paper, stabbed his finger at a headline.

“I think a young person like you should hear this,” he started and then went into a BIG BIG speech about how bad this person is. How he (the old man) is a former military person. He then listed crimes and talked for about eight million hours about how bad the person he was pointing at is.

I nodded.

I am not a fan of the person he was pointing at. So, I got it.

BUT THEN… the nice, angry, little old man, hiked up his khaki pants so that I could also get a good glimpse of his white socks and he announced in the loudest voice possible, “I don’t know why the Hell someone hasn’t assassinated him already.”

Someone across the refrence room snarfed. I looked for help. Everyone looked away, everyone, that is, except the little old man.

He then went on about it’s so darn hard to assassinate someone.

I was about to tell the angry, little, old man that calling for assassination and murders for hire wasn’t really the best idea in a library, but he decided his monologue was over and stomped off.

First though he yelled back, “I just thought a young person like yourself should think about these things.”

I smiled then, because, hey, he may be a ninety-year-old assassin wanna-be, but he thinks I’m young person who doesn’t think about anything! Me! If only. . . I don’t know how NOT to think about things.

I enjoy it when people size me up and fail. But then it makes me wonder about how many times I think I ‘get’ people and I don’t, about how we’re all the heroes in our own story, but in other people’s stories? We’re the bad guy. We’re the sidekick. We’re Person #3 in the coffee shop.

The thing is that this wild man gave me a gift. Now I can use him for a story. I can think about how he smelled and talked and gesticulated. I can think about those white socks and make them mine.

So, my Wednesday Writing Wisdom is use everything you can for story. File it away. Remember the details, the emotion, everything you can and make the rest up.

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Now for… DO GOOD WEDNESDAY! 

Do Good Wednesday isn’t about advocating for people’s death or staring at their socks. It’s about finding ways to help others.

There are a couple of apps that can help you locate a cool place to volunteer in your community.

One way is GOLDEN, which is meant to help people find ways to volunteer and have those “golden moments” in their lives.  You can find places to volunteer and help the world, but you can also search for volunteers to help your nonprofit with its projects.

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And you can also list your volunteer needs for your nonprofit on Eventbrite, which has a Charities and Causes section. Click on the Search icon (bottom of screen or in the search bar near the top of the screen). Charities and Causes will be a category. That’s pretty cool. You can find awesome ways to support awesome things. This is what I saw when I searched for my town:

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So, go out there. Do good in big and little ways. Write your heart out. Turn uncomfortable people into characters. You’ve got this.

Marsie’s Monday Motivation – Cat Loves Dog, TLF

Marsie: It’s Monday.

Me: Yes.

Marsie: 

Me: 

Marsie: Aren’t you going to whine about it?

Me: No.

Marsie: 

Me: Aren’t you going to ask why I’m not going to whine about it?

Marsie: I’m a cat. I stopped caring. I’ll care about in like – 32 hours or if you bring out some cat nip or kitty snacks. Then I’ll be your best friend again for like… hm… 45 seconds.

Me: 

Marsie: Just giving you the truth, human.

Me: I’m happy because today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I’m happy because I like the fact that you and Sparty the Dog kiss each other and snuggle.

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Marsie: He’s warm.

Me: 

Marsie: Fine, I love him.

Me: That’s why I’m okay this Monday. Even though things can suck and people can suck, there are these tiny little glimmers of hope that we might learn a thing or two from other people or from cats and dogs about love.

Marsie:

Me: What I’m trying to say is you inspire me, Marsie, because despite all your tough talk and kitty glares and cat face, you’re really just about the love.

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Marsie: Human! Don’t tell! The other cats will mock me!

Me: Sorry, baby, they already know. Sometimes, they just choose not to remember.

 

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Writing News:

I’m super excited because I’m going to be at Book Expo America signing copies of my nonfiction picture book about Moe Berg!

The Spy Who Played Baseball

And I’m super excited because I started teaching the online Writing Barn class and despite the fact that Sparty the Dog expelled gas out his rectum (REALLY LOUDLY) none of the students heard it. And I don’t think anyone noticed my gagging face either.

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Sparty: Oops.

Finally, I’m moving forward with the podcast. I had to order a microphone, which was sort of terrifying because I know nothing about microphones. And honestly, I sound like a Muppet, so the whole thought of my voice just being out there? That sort of brings up childhood fears of bullying and one of my old teachers telling me that I’d never succeed at anything because of my s’s. I talk about that in Dear Bully. I’m still going to try though because I am done with fear keeping me from trying things, right? I’m going to channel my inner cat. I hope you do, too!

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