Dealing With Failure – Part One

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

This week I failed at something in a business way and …. Well, it shook me.

To be fair, I am pretty raw and frayed right this second and my resilience isn’t at its peak. But for whatever reason, it shook me a lot.

I cried.

I didn’t wallow, but wow. I really wanted to wallow.

Instead, I posted on Facebook and asked people what they do when they feel like they’ve failed, when they are shook, when they are sad. How do they work their way out of it?

Note: My post wasn’t asking about depression, but a lot of people answered as if it was and those answers? They helped other people reading the post. That’s a big deal. And I am thankful for it.

People are giving. People want to help

I love that people were so incredibly willing to share their strategies for when they feel pointless, when failure seems too large. And I’m going to have a series of posts where I share these strategies because that’s the cool thing.

We talk so much about the lack of civility in current culture, but there is also this great thirst to help, to care, to make a difference. And that matters. It matters.

People want to help other people feel better, get through it. Remembering that matters, especially when you feel like you’re being annoying by not being perfectly happy. Nobody is always perfectly happy.

My friends’ and readers’ advice was beautifully varied, which only made it better because you could see the similarities and trends and differences in people’s coping mechanisms.

Some of those coping mechanisms involved apps.

“I’ve been there too this week if it makes you feel any better. My tips are to be gentle with yourself. Maybe take a long walk. I’ve downloaded a meditation app to my phone called Mind Space, and that helps me. A hot shower, some comfy pajamas and a cozy book. I like Rosemund Pilcher because she’s sort of soothing.” – Shannon Hitchcock, author

And another app was really popular. It’s called Calm.

“I use the app called Calm. It’s amazing and helps me with my insomnia and my anxiety. It’s got music and stories that help me relax and not stress out as much. It’s so awesome.” – Lindsey Schultz, photographer

 

And there with other people who deliberately moved their brains’ focus via distractions that were sound-based (like an app, but not), which was super interesting to me.

“I’m prone to having that feel like a failure reaction you describe. I turn on the tv or something that shuts my brain down for a couple of hours. That helps and It sounds ridiculous but I’ve noticed listening to people laughing on tv helps even if I’m not paying attention.” – Trish Madell, author

This sort of distraction and laughter is actually a thing that is often used to help with anxiety and depression. Yes! Yes! I know the trite saying that “laughter is the medicine” but there is truth behind that.

Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins battle stress and make our immune systems tougher. Laughter connects us with others and makes us feel less alone. Laughter uses your brain’s whole cortex.

And for us creative people, humor actually makes us more innovative, we’re more apt to improv and make leaps in our thinking. How cool is that?

Do something that makes you laugh. For whatever reason, I always laugh at America’s funniest home videos. This seems stupid, and it’s a little embarrassing to even admit, but no matter how shitty I’m feeling, if I watch enough of them, I’ll laugh and pull myself out of the heaviness of the feeling of failure. On the other hand, I’ve learned to grieve some of my failures. Losing a book contract, for me, felt like such a failure. I tried so hard not to grieve it–to push through–but sometimes we need to grieve the loss and acknowledge the sadness. I’ve even had a friend send me a sympathy card for a book loss because it’s a valid loss, something worth crying about. Not every failure is, but sometimes I think we are too quick to assume we don’t deserve to feel bad.- Jody Sparks, author

So, for my first post in this series, here are the tips that came from my brilliant friends and readers

  1. Find a good app that makes you calm. Use it.
  2. Find the funny. Watch tv. Listen to laugher.

But what both of these things do is that they create a feeling of control.

When you turn on that app and use it to feel better? You are making the choice to feel better.

When you decide to watch something funny to feel better? You are making the choice again. You feel like you are in control, which is so incredibly different than feeling like a failure, isn’t it?

Writing News

I am super excited about the upcoming TIME STOPPERS book coming out this August.  And honestly, if you want to help me feel less stressed about failure and the writing world, leaving a review for the books and buying them? That is the best thing you can do for me.

Anyway…

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

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

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

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

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

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

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Rabanadas (Portuguese Fried Toast Recipe) and Open Table MDI

On a Facebook post yesterday, I was basically begging people for advice, to tell me what they do when they are sad, when they feel like they’ve failed. So many people poured out their advice, this beautiful act of generosity and kindness that renewed my faith in people and good.

On Thursdays, I usually write a quippy, sort-of-satiric Cooking With a Writer recipe. It’s always vegetarian because I’m trying to convince the meat eaters in my life to eat less meat. I then share the results.

Spoiler alert: I haven’t convinced them.

Visual aid: This is them.

 

Anyway, on my post one of my friends said, “We don’t have anything to prove-just live, cook good food and be nice.”

And that really resonated with me.

Live.

Cook good food.

Be nice.

Last Tuesday, we went to Open Table MDI at the Bar Harbor Congregational Church and all three of these things happened. The weekly community supper was something we’d never been to, but I braved myself up to go and I’m so glad I did.

Why?

It was all vegetarian food. Seriously. So much vegetarian food. It was brilliant. The dogs didn’t go, but the meat-loving man in my life was so impressed that he wanted to go back to the volunteers in the kitchen.

He said to our friend, Z, “Do you think it’s okay if I go back and tell them how good it is?”

Z said, “Yeah. Oh definitely. When I’ve volunteered we loved that.”

So, the man went back to the kitchen and thanked the cooks, shaking their hands and saying things like, “This food was amazing. This … I could eat like this all the time.”

Yep.

He could eat like this all the time.

In one half hour, these amazing volunteers made way more progress in the conversion of the man than I ever could. I think it’s because the food was super good, yes, but I also think it’s because these people are making all this good food for the community. Why?

Because they are kind.

Because they are nice.

Because they are motivated to do good.

Open Table MDI is this beautiful, free, weekly supper and according to its website, “was born out of the desire to inspire a strong and inclusive community through sharing a meal and connecting people to real food. Our community dinner program provides healthy and delicious meals produced from organic and local sources when possible. This program is FREE and OPEN TO ALL.”

That’s pretty beautiful. That’s full of hope. And it reminded me of one of my grandmothers and how she would comfort me when I was small and sad. She would make me this.

I hope you find comfort when you are feeling small and sad and even when you don’t.

Fried Toast

My avó used to make these rabanadas, which is basically Portuguese French Toast, but not French, because… Portuguese. 

Also, the calorie count might be a bit off. 

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 TBSP Cinnamon
  • 4 whole eggs
  • 2 cups milk – 2% (You can actually use red wine for this or port. )
  • 1 loaf bread (better if it's stale – make 16 slices)
  • some oil – to fry it in
  1. Mix the sugar and cinnamon until blended. Smell it. It smells like home. Start writing a poem about home. Spill the sugar on the counter. Resist the urge to lick it. You are not a dog. You are a writer. But wow… yeah… sugar.

  2. So, in something shallow like a pie plate, whisk the eggs and milk together. Realize you have no desire to lick this. Wonder why you didn’t use wine instead. Hemingway would be so disappointed in you. Damn it, so would your avó. Wonder if you should start over. Realize that would be wasting milk and eggs. You have not sold enough books to waste milk and eggs. Why can’t you actually be Hemingway? He would not mess up like this.

    Cry.

  3. Dip the bread in the milk (or port or wine) and egg mixture. Soak it lightly. 

  4. Find a skillet. Heat an inch of oil. Yes, an inch. I know! I know! Get it to about 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 

  5. Take bread slice out of wet mixture. Shake off the extra liquid. 

  6. Fry bread about 2 minutes on each side, maybe 3. It should be golden brown. Now dip it in the sugar/cinnamon. Be careful, the bread will be super hot. USE UTENSILS LIKE TONGS! Do not try to be stupid-tough like a nature writer or a Hemingway. Writers burn.

  7. Repeat with all your slices.

  8. There are variations here. 

    You can have the milk/wine/port and egg mixtures as separate dips and not mixed together. People in my family are just sort of lazy, honestly. If you do it this way, then soak it in milk and then dip in the egg. Again, try to get rid of the excess back in the bowl.

    You can make a sugar-syrup type mix and drizzle or coat the toast with that. To do this take honey or maple syrup and the same amount of water. Heat it up. Then dip the bread into the hot syrup.  

There are variations to this recipe. Probably as many variations as there are grandmothers. So, please don’t get all angry if this is the one you didn’t grow up with. I only know my own family. BUT I would love to hear about yours, and their variations! 

Writing News

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

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

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

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

OUR PODCAST DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.

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

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

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

The Poet Who Saw Me – Wednesday Writing Wisdom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They still do.

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

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

And I met Seamus Heaney in real life.

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

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

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

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

“So?”

“Seamus Heaney!”

“So?”

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

Heaney wrote things like:

“A hunger-striker’s father

stands in the graveyard dumb.

The police widow in veils

faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope

on this side of the grave.

But then, once in a lifetime

the longed for tidal wave

of justice can rise up,

and hope and history rhyme.”

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

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

And I said, “No.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The main thing is to write

for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust

that imagines its haven like your hands at night

dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.

You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.

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

 

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

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

 

Do Good Wednesday

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 8.19.41 AM

Screen Shot 2018-06-06 at 8.19.48 AM

Scary, right?

People are fixing it.

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

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

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

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

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

 

Writing News

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

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

An imaginative blend of fantasy, whimsy, and suspense, with a charming cast of underdog characters . . . This new fantasy series will entice younger fans of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.” –  School Library Journal

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

CARRIE’S BOOKS

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

OUR PODCAST

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

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

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

Dogs are Smarter than People
Love

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

Who do you root for?

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

But when we write books?

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

Sometimes though, that’s sort of hard.

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

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

So can we.

Here’s the truth.

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

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

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

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

The same way you write everyone else.

Listen

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

Tweak

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

 

Think

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

carrie-jones-you-know-life-fractures-us-all-into-quote-on-storemypic-5c727

Dog Tip For Life

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

Writing Tip of the Cast

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

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

 

 

WRITING NEWS

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

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

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

CARRIE’S BOOKS

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

OUR PODCAST

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

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

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

xo

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

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

We love her any way.

Writing Heroes Who Don’t Suck

Writing Heroes Who Don’t Suck

 
 
00:00 / 00:23:01
 
1X
 

Who do you root for?

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

But when we write books?

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

Sometimes though, that’s sort of hard.

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

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

So can we.

Here’s the truth.

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

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

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

How Do You Write a  Hero Who Isn’t Typical or Basically Doesn’t Suck?

The same way you write everyone else.

  1. Listen to people other than yourself, how they talk, how they think. Use your empathy to understand their character and then steal some of those traits and motivations for your own hero.
  2. Tweak the trope. Sure you have archetypes of messiahs/warriors/matriarchs/mystics, but go beyond the trope when you’re making your hero. She might be like Xena the Warrior Princess, but she can have a goofy Whose That Girl side like Jess. Give your ‘mystic’ trope a ‘matriarch’ profession like a lawyer or judge.
  3. Think about your own heroes – the ones in real life. What do they do that isn’t all that heroic? Talk with their mouth full? Wipe their boogers on the edge of the seat of the car? Use that.

Dog Tip For Life 

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

Writing Tip of the Cast

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

WRITING NEWS

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

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

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

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.

CARRIE’S BOOKS

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

OUR PODCAST

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

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

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

xo

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

Dogs are Smarter Than People the podcast
Gabby is not a perfect dog. We love her any way.

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

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

I miss Toronto.

 

 

 Grover says: Carrie is very long winded! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almost, Grover. Almost.

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

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

Yay!

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

WRITING NEWS

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

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

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

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

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

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

 

Positive Salsa – Cooking With A Writer

The man looked at the avocado.

“You are trying to kill me,” he said.

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

He glared.

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

He harrumphed.

Salsa – Avocado Style

This is adapted from the Moosewood Restaurant Recipe

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

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

    Stir it.

  3. Leave it alone for 10 minutes. 

  4. Eat it. 

Man Verdict: Carrie hates me.

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

Carrie Verdict: This is the best food. Ever.

Book Expo America

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

TIME STOPPERS THE MIDDLE GRADE SERIES OF AWESOME

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

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DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

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

Why I Need A Bodyguard

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I wish everywhere was like that.

I wish everyone was like those TSA guys.

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

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

WRITING NEWS

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

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

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

DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE

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

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

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

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

WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO

1. Call your elected representatives.

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

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

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

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

We’ve all heard the statistics:

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

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

Life isn’t that simple.

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

You write the story you want to write.

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

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

That’s it.

That’s how you become published.

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

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

That you can battle.

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

Writers. Loneliness. Tips to make a writing group

Writing Tip of the Pod

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

 

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

Dog Tip for life

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

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

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

xo

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

Writers, Be Simple

Writers, Be Simple

 
 
00:00 / 00:14:54
 
1X
 

We’ve all heard the statistics:

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

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

Life isn’t that simple.

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

You write the story you want to write.

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

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

That’s it.

That’s how you become published.

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

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

That you can battle.

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

Writers. Loneliness. Tips to make a writing group

Writing Tip of the Pod

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

 

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

Dog Tip for life

It’s okay to want a pack to roam with, to howl with.