Memorial Day

My step-dad never talked about his service in World War II. He was a quiet man with an easy laugh. He was the kind of man who always could do anything. That’s how it seemed to me. He hardly ever cried, hardly ever got mad. He liked fishing and building. He liked coffee and cigarettes and steamers. He loved his family and his friends and his boat.

He wasn’t the kind of man who cried.

I saw him do it twice. The first time was when his brother, Freddie, died. The second time was on Memorial Day.

We were at a parade. The veterans were marching. He never marched with them. I don’t know why. A high school band was playing the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I was holding my dad’s hand and all of a sudden he let go. My hand dangled empty. He turned away, took three steps back from the crowd of the road, and faced the buildings.

“Daddy?”

He pressed his fingers into his eyelids. He nodded once. “What sweetie?”

“Are you okay?”

He wiped his eyes just once with the back of his hand. “Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Are you sad?”

He half-shrugged. “A little bit.”

I’d only just really learned what the Memorial Day parade was about. From school I knew it was about soldiers who died in war. I knew my dad had been in a war, a big war. I made the connection.

“Did you have soldier friends who died?” I asked.

“A lot, baby. A lot.”

Our fingers found each other. We walked back to the crowd.

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“Me too.”

Memorial Day Is about more

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of the summer vacation season. It’s more than a day off of work and school. Memorial Day is about the friends, husbands, wives, lovers, children, brothers and sisters who didn’t make it home.

We all know that.

We need to know that for more than just today.

A Man From Otis

I met a great guy from Otis back in 2008. He had a cane. He had a dog. I am a sucker for dogs. We talked about how on the Otis Town Report there are pictures of soldiers from Otis who are currently serving. His son served. He’s an Air Force recruiter now and his dad, the man I talked to, the nice man with the sweet smile, the can, and the beautiful dog, he served in Vietnam.

“It’s better for the soldiers coming home now,” he said. “I think people are finally getting it.”

I’m glad for that. I’m really glad but should it have taken 30 years for people to get it?

Men and women have died in service to our country. Men and women continue to die in service to our country. Those deaths mean more than a parade, more than a work-free/school-free day. Those deaths mean a lot. Not all those soldiers were perfect or saints, but all of them gave their lives for something bigger. All of them sacrificed.

Throwing the Wreath

For years I’ve watched the veterans throw a wreath off of the bridge in downtown Ellsworth. When I was a reporter, I even took pictures of it. The wreath? It floats away, down the Union River. It makes me remember the parade with my step-dad and how suddenly my dad let go. There I was, fingers dangling, hand empty, wondering.

But that wreath floating down the river is not really gone. None of those soldiers are gone. My dad, who died of a heart attack when I was in sixth grade, isn’t gone either, nor are his friends. Every one of them has touched our lives somehow. Every sacrifice has to keep being remembered. There are so many heroes from Hancock County, Maine, and from all over this country.

There are more and more all the time.

It’s important to notice the bad that happens, the evil that people do, but it’s just as important to celebrate the good that people are capable, the sacrifices (small and large) that we are also capable of. The empathy. The love. The selflessness.

Military Mom

When you are a military mom, like I am, Memorial Day becomes even more poignant. It’s a day where Americans are meant to remember military members that we lost in war, the people who sacrificed their lives for the ideals and Constitution of this country.

At Emily’s basic training graduation at Fort Jackson two years ago, the speaker, talked about how that made a difference, how in the United States the military isn’t about serving the leader of the country, but about the Constitution of the country and the people of the country.

And for me, Memorial Day, is a reminder of those we’ve lost, those we might soon lose, but also about the ability of people to put others above their own selves, to come together as a country, and to serve the ideals of that country, so incredibly selflessly.

WRITING NEWS

IN THE WOODS – READ AN EXCERPT, PREORDER NOW!

My next book, IN THE WOODS, appears in July 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! 

You can preorder 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?

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HEAR MY BOOK BABY (AND MORE) ON PATREON

On February first, I launched my Patreon site where I’m reading chapters (in order) of a never-published teen fantasy novel, releasing deleted scenes and art from some of my more popular books. And so much more. Come hang out with me! Get cool things! 

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WHAT IS PATREON? 

A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you. 

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HELP US AND DO AN AWESOME GOOD DEED

Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast 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. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!

Quick Writing Tip. Ignore my face!

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The Book Baby I Never Thought Would Get Published and the Human Baby I Never Thought Would be in the Army

 

Um… I got the third TIME STOPPERS book in the mail – the one that’s coming out super soon.

In sad news, I didn’t actually get to open the box of books, which is the ultimate writer happy moment because someone else did.

I know! I know! This means: 

  1. No unboxing video
  2. No glorious moment when I sob at the fact that I gave birth to a book baby

 

This makes me superstitious like: Why? Why didn’t I get to open my own box of books? Is this an omen? Does the universe hate me?

But here is the adorable book (Photo taken by the person who accidentally opened the book box and sent me the photo via cell phone).

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It’s super cute, isn’t it?

And I am now an anxious ball of freaking-out author, honestly because:

 

  1. I want people to notice that my book baby exists so that they can read it but also so that I can continue to have a writing career. Spoiler: You have to actually sell books to have a writing career. Sad, sad truth, I know.
  2. I am bad at self promotion.

 

And this book isn’t my normal book. It’s middle grade, not young adult. It’s the book that’s closest to my heart because it’s the book I wrote for Em when she was a kid. It’s the book that made me quit my job as a newspaper editor and get a MFA at Vermont College and become a writer in the first place.

 

Carrie Jones Dear Bully 70 Authors tell their stories
Em of Awesome

 

And last week, Em (who is no longer little) left after being home on leave and went back to Fort Benning. Her special task force has been deployed to Afghanistan already and I’m not sure if she’s going to be going, too.

Someone in her task force has already died.

I know you’re supposed to accept that possibility. I’m not good at accepting that possibility. And my heart breaks when I think about that soldier’s family.

Recently, a friend told me about a conversation that they overheard about Emily. It was basically….

“There’s this local girl. Her parents are pretty liberal. She went to Harvard. She’s beautiful. She joined the Army. By choice. By choice!”

“What?”

“Yeah, I know right? And she’s a field artillery officer now.”

And that conversation is basically about people’s preconceived notions about who joins the United States’ military and why. Here’s the thing: There is no one type of person who joins and they all don’t join for the same reasons. Some of the people in there are Republicans, some are Democrats. There are all races and religions and genders and IQs.

There is no one way to be.

Which is part of what this country is supposed to be about – the freedom to speak, to think, to assemble, to worship, a freedom of the press.

Freedoms.

And that’s what my Time Stoppers series has been about, too. Only in a kids’ book because that’s what I write.

Anyway, I dropped Em off at the airport that’s a couple hours away from where we lived and cried all the way home. I know! I know! I’m supposed to be all tough and brave and Army mom.

But I am not tough or brave or Army mom.

I have a hard time even asking for people to like and review my book on places like Amazon. But I do know that when people try to define an entire group/category as one thing or one thought or one demographic? I’m going to bristle.

It’s our differences that make us amazing. It’s our diversity that makes us stronger and pushes us towards progress. And I am so proud of Em for being brave and strong and putting herself out there in a world that currently doesn’t always value that. And I am so proud of the kids in this book series that I initially wrote for her. Because they do the same thing.

I hope you’ll read it.

I hope you’ll review it somewhere.

And I hope you’ll spread the world.

We all depend on each other, my friends. That’s the biggest truth out there. We all have roles (which can change) but together? We’re a pretty awesome team.

 

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s almost out! You can pre-order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere. The official release date is August 7! 

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People call it a cross between Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but it’s set in Maine. It’s full of adventure, quirkiness and heart.

Moe Berg

The Spy Who Played Baseball is a picture book biography about Moe Berg. And… there’s a movie out now about Moe Berg, a major league baseball player who became a spy. How cool is that?

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

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.

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Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Ebook on Sale for July – and July is almost over! 

And finally, for the month of July, my book FLYING is on sale in ebook version on multiple platforms, which means not just Amazon. It’s a cheap way to have an awesome read in a book that’s basically Men in Black meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer but with chocolate-covered pretzels.

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Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

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