The Inspiration Behind My Book & What I Learned About Myself Publishing It

I learned a lot about who I was when I wrote this book. I’m not talking about who people think I am, but the actual me.

That’s because I did this book all by myself. I never do things all by myself especially not books. I write them. I have a team at publishing houses who tweak and market and create covers.

Not this time. This time I didn’t even show the story to anyone else. Not my agent. Not an editor. It was all me on my own.

And I learned that this is scary because there is nobody else to take responsibility if things go wrong.

And I learned I liked that.

What Inspired Me To Write It?

I wanted to step outside my own walls and do something that felt scary and vulnerable. This book felt scary and vulnerable. Why? Well, here is why.

Bad Guys Built on Real People

You know how sometimes people seem to be super nice and friendly and lovely. But then you see the mask drop? All of a sudden something shifts in their eyes and you think, “Holy crud muffins. This person could be a serial killer!”

There is a person in my town like that.

Actually, there are a couple of people in my town like that. When their mask drops and you see their true self, it makes you gasp.

The bad guys in this story are some of those people significantly tweaked and mashed-up together to create characters that are real, vibrant, and creepy.

Wanting to Mix Genres

When I wrote THE PLACES WE HIDE, I wanted to have some of the standard conventions of romance and thrillers, but give it that first-person-raw feel.

The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones
The Places We Hide by Carrie Jones

Wanting to Write Good Women Based On Real People

I also based a lot of the women in my story on women like me and my friends – quirky, struggling, real, persistent.

I wanted Rosie and her friends to feel like the moms you actually meet in coastal Maine.

Romance NEEDS

I like love. I like it when people find each other. What can I say?

I wanted to write a story like that.

High Stakes

I can’t help myself. If I’m not writing literary fiction, I tend to write about alien invasions and pixie apocalypses. I wanted to challenge myself to write a realistic story with truly high stakes.

What I Learned

I love writing kids books, but this was so much fun. And it was also really fun to step outside of traditional publishing, which I also love, and do it all myself. It helps me understand what my clients and author-friends who choose self-publishing go through. There’s so much responsibility and control that happens. It’s really a great adventure.

I learned that self-publishing is hard, but freeing. You don’t have to listen to other people helping you make your story better. You don’t have the safety net of the publisher. It’s just you out there – raw and vulnerable.

I learned that self-publishing is addictive. My aunt Athalie died this November. She was really glamorous and lived in California (We were in N.H.) and she was married to a celebrity dentist and then an Oscar-winning art director. She was an artist and believed in reincarnation. All of this was a very big deal to three-year-old Carrie.

She stared at me once as I was doing laps around our living room buck naked and announced loudly, “Carrie is an exhibitionist. Look at all that energy just flow right out of her. Wow.”

Nobody in my family has ever thought I was an exhibitionist. I was (and am) the person who sits on floors instead of chairs so that I can watch everyone else. I hide behind the camera and take pictures of others. I am a writer, for Pete’s sake.

Here’s the thing: Athalie was right.

Self-publishing pushes me towards that exhibitionist side. By marketing everything myself, by having the book be just my voice and my story, I show more of who I am to the world. And I’m okay with that. It’s scary, but all the good things are.

Truth Bomb

It’s really scary sometimes to put your work out there, or to just be who you are – the real you – unpolished sometimes, dorky, self-righteous, befuddled, passionate, fangirly, angry, sad, anxious you.

But it’s so much easier than living a life of pretending and of lies.

Authenticity is brave and vulnerable, yes, but it’s also pretty damn empowering to just exhibit who the heck you truly are to the world and let the world deal with it.

I hope you’ll be an exhibitionist with me. Exhibit who you are. Be who you are.


THIS IS WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can order it here. 

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IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, ORDER NOW!

My new book, IN THE WOODS, is out!

Gasp!

It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!

Order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?

In the Woods
In the Woods
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A Book Is Coming! A Book is Coming!

I am about to release a book.

Yep. Me.

Rosie Jones, small town reporter and single mom, is looking forward to her first quiet Maine winter with her young daughter, Lily. After a disastrous first marriage, she’s made a whole new life and new identities for her and her little girl. Rosie is more than ready for a winter of cookies, sledding, stories about planning board meetings, and trying not to fall in like with the local police sergeant, Seamus Kelley.

But after her car is tampered with and crashes into Sgt. Kelley’s cruiser during a blizzard, her quiet new world spirals out of control and back into the danger she thought she’d left behind. One of her new friends is murdered. She herself has been poisoned and she finds a list of anagrams on her dead friend’s floor. 

As the killer strikes again, it’s obvious that the women of Bar Harbor aren’t safe. Despite the blizzard and her struggle to keep her new identity a secret, Rosie sets out to make sure no more women die. With the help of the handsome but injured Sgt. Kelley and the town’s firefighters, it’s up to Rosie to stop the murderer before he strikes again.

You can preorder it here. Please, please, preorder it.

It’s an adult book. And I’m scared that:

  1. It will suck.
  2. Nobody will read it.
  3. People will think that because it’s self-published my career is over and I’ve failed.

I know! I know! I’m not supposed to write that because I risk:

  1. Alienating self published writers
  2. Putting ideas in people’s heads that I’ve failed.

But I care more about honesty despite all my fears.

This is why I’m self publishing a book.

It’s an adventure.

I’ve never done it before and I want to see what it’s like. I am all about new experiences and believe me – this is a totally different experience than traditional publishing.

Also, I’ve learned that I hate formatting things. So I’m learning?

It’s scary.

Being responsible for all your own words and edits and marketing is terrifying. I’m used to the world of traditional publishing where you have a whole team backing you up. Multiple people edit your book. These people are brilliant and skilled.

And it’s easy for us traditionally published authors to get big heads especially when our books do well. We get fan mail. People bite each other in line to get our book (True story). People cry when they meet us sometimes.

But we are not the only ones who make these books happen. There are agents, assistant agents, editors, assistant editors, proofreaders, copy editors, marketing teams, beta readers, publicists, booksellers, marketers.

So many people.

It’s scary to do it alone. I lean into the scary.

I’m impatient and I write too much.

Coming from the newspaper world, I write fast. I write a lot. I have so many manuscripts in so many genres on my laptop that my agent can’t keep up.

I’m impatient and I write too much and it’s a different genre.

This book is an adult book. It’s a bit like if you crossed Charlaine Harris’s less vampire-style books with Murder She Wrote. It’s not something my agent has read. I normally write children’s books and I love them, but I’m someone who started as a poet, became a reporter, won awards for nonfiction, became a kids book author and have written picture books, literary fiction, fantasy, science fiction and contemporary fiction. Which leads me to…

I don’t like boxes and labels.

I’m all about breaking expectations. It breaks expectations for a New York Times and internationally bestselling author to self publish and hopefully it breaks down the stigma about self publishing a bit more.

Why does that matter?

Because the point isn’t about being the best. Story is about communication and empathy. The world of books is a world where you build understanding, escape, go on adventures, but also become a better person. All the stories that people write? They are the stories that need to be told and the hierarchy of which stories deserve to get traditionally published is a bit subjective.

I’ve been so lucky. Andrew Karre pulled my first novel off the slush pile and published it. It won awards. I had a series that sold all over the world and hit lists. But not everyone is lucky and there are great authors out there who aren’t traditionally published.

They are authors, too.

Their books matter too.


So, um, please go buy it. I am being brave, but that means that despite all my reasons for doing this, I’m still terrified that nobody will buy it and I really, really love this book. A lot.

This week’s writing podcast.

Em Update

A lot of people have messaged me about my daughter, Em. She is not stationed in Iraq or deployed currently. Thank you all for remembering she’s an Army lieutenant and for worrying about her. It’s so kind of you.