YA MYSTERY WITH A SPLASH OF ROMANCE? ARE YOU IN?

On July 1, I’m releasing my young adult novel, THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.

Check it out.

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

It looks pretty cool. right?

The lead character in this is Dude Goodfeather. Her real name is Jess. Her dad calls her Dude and that means everyone else does, too. I’m so into her. I hope you will be too.

Blurb:

They aren’t the most popular. They aren’t the prettiest. They aren’t the wealthiest, but they are the smartest and as the kids in the ‘gifted’ program move through their senior year, they have their lives all ahead of them.

Until they don’t . . .

Quirky and psychology-obsessed high school senior Jessica “Dude” Goodfeather isn’t having her best time senior year after her best friend and boyfriend both dump her, but when she finds the dead and mutilated body of Lucas Landry? Things get a whole lot worse.

Is someone she knows the killer?

Someone is picking off Dude’s classmates, one by one. And she’s pretty sure that she’s next.

Join New York Times and internationally bestselling author Carrie Jones in the first book of the Dude Mystery Series as it combines the excitement of a thriller with the first-hand immediacy and quirky heroines that Jones is known for.

The next Book comes out in September and it’s called INCH WORMS.

To find out more about the series, click here.

But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂 Sort of?


Chapter One

Paranoia

An intense feeling of fear or anxiety that usually has to do with personal persecution or belief in threats and conspiracies

Everything people say about me is true. I’m neurotic and obsessed with psychology terms because of my own sad toddler years. I always expect the worst case scenario for myself but never for other people. Pathetic, I know. It’s like I’m always expecting something bad to happen, and I’m terrified of being caught off guard and not being prepared for when it does.

This morning, when my cat Misfit wakes me up, I know something is wrong right away. It’s like a gut feeling. It’s like all my worries have become reality.

“You’re worst-case scenario. You have to believe in yourself, in the power of your own brain,” Dad told me last night when I was stressed about potentially not getting into any colleges. He was making vegan gumbo and waved his wooden spoon at our cat who was passed out belly-up in the kitchen sink. “Seriously, you’ve got to chill-ax. Look at Misfit. Be like Misfit.”

Be like Misfit?

            Because right now Misfit’s mewling the way cats do when they are freaking out about something terribly important in the kitty world like whether or not there is exactly .75 cups of cat food in their dish that is spaced exactly one inch out from the northeast corner of the bathroom wall. 

The mewling? That’s the first clue.

            “What is it, buddy?” I mutter, blinking hard against the morning light as Misfit moves across the bed covers and up to my face. She headbutts my chin with her nose.

            I’d been dreaming about Alexis and me when we were little and still best friends. We had been jumping off the dock into the river, giggling, and then the dream shifted so that Alexis was drowning in the water, blood coming out of her belly button. This did not happen in real life. Alexis is alive and well and now best friends with Samantha, and not me. I’m a little bitter about this honestly. Bitter and lonely.

Misfit refuses to let me go back to the dream and pushes against my face again. Cat fur tickles my lips and nose.

Sneezing, I say, “Buddy. Dad can feed you.”

            Then I remember that Dad doesn’t ever feed her because he’s one of the most forgetful humans of all time, and then I remember that he’s not even home. He left at midnight, off for a three-day trip to a con in Boston, a science fiction con, because he has this little side job where he self-publishes his own graphic novels.

            “Crud,” I mumble as Misfit thumps off the bed, thudding to the ground, right by a dead mouse. A tiny spot of blood mars the brown fur of its tiny stomach.

            Misfit purrs and sort of nudges it a little closer to my bed.

            I wish, occasionally, my gut would be wrong. 

            Moving backward toward my headboard, I grab for my phone by my pillow, but it’s not there. It’s always there, but instead there’s just my charger, flapping around. I’m positive that I connected it last night.

            This is the second clue.

            The third clue is that my door is shut. I’m not sure how Misfit even got in the room with her mouse, and that’s not the point. The point is that the door is shut.

            My door is never shut because ever since I was little having a shut door has completely freaked me out. That’s because I always used to imagine monsters lurking behind the doorknob. Everyone judges me about that.

But Misfit could have shut it maybe? Batted it closed with her immense kitty paws.

She leaps up onto my bed, thankfully leaving the mouse on the floor, and I grab her to my chest. She purrs again. It’s comforting.

            “I freak myself out too much,” I murmur. “You bringing dead mice as presents doesn’t help, buddy. No offense.”

            She starts kneading at my lap, and I sigh. I’m not sure why I forgot to plug in my cellphone last night, but I use it to tell the time and set the alarm to wake me up and now I have no idea if I’m late for school or not. I blink hard. I was positive that I set the alarm last night because I was thinking about how Dad wasn’t going to be here today.

Fourth clue?

The weirdness of it all hits me as I lift Misfit up a bit so that I can set her down next to me on the covers. She protests and puts her claws into the quilt, but I still manage to move her. Resisting the urge to close my eyes and ignore the mouse, I lean over the bed, hoping my phone just fell somewhere.

            Nothing. It’s just a dead mouse, schoolbooks, art supplies, and socks.

            “Great.”

            The only other thing I can think is that maybe I took my phone with me in the middle of the night when I went to the bathroom. Sure, I don’t actually remember going to the bathroom, but the cellphone is pretty awesome because it has a flashlight. I use that app all the time.

            Vaulting off the bed so that I land nowhere near the mouse, I head toward the bedroom door, yank it open and gasp.

            There’s someone standing there right outside my door.

            I slam my door back closed and lock it.

            My mouth drops wide open.

            I don’t need any more clues.

            That’s because the someone lurking outside my room is not my dad or my former best friend Alexis or my current best friend Rebecca. That someone is not a ghost or a figment of my imagination.

            It’s a human being. And it’s wearing a ski mask.

            Reflexively, I shove my dresser against the door, which opens inward. It opens inward, so that means that the person out there can’t come in if the dresser is blocking the way. Right? Panic starts.

There is someone outside.

            I repeat this fact over and over again in my head.

            Someone is outside my door.

            Someone should not be there.

            I can’t let them in.

            Searching for my phone again, I survey the room, but the phone is missing, which means that I can’t call for help. My laptop! I put it in my bag last night after I was done cruising through posts about college application essays. Running, I grab my bag even though it’s super close to the mouse.

            My laptop is gone.

            I can’t email anyone for help.

            I can’t Skype the police or whatever.

            I’m trapped and there’s only one thing to do to escape. I yank open the window by my bed. I’m on the second floor, but it doesn’t matter. There’s an overhanging roof over the downstairs master bathroom, which connects to the porch. It’s mossy, but it’s a way out.

            “Misfit!” I mutter and snap my fingers. She actually springs out the window onto the roof. She springs to the ground, making it look easy, like hopping ten feet to the grass is not a big deal at all. I scoot as quickly as I can down the angled roof and jump. The ground thuds beneath my feet, and adrenalin pops me right back into standing position. I scoop Misfit up in my arms and run through the woods.

            Don’t follow me. Don’t follow me. Don’t follow me.

            I’m not sure if I’m saying this aloud or not. I’m not sure if the sentence is a command or a prayer or a mantra. The pine needles sting my naked feet. Stones and roots scratch at me. I trip and Misfit bounds out of my arms as I fall down. One second down and I’m up again, running for our neighbor’s house. The houses here on the Union River aren’t close, which I normally like because nobody wants to hear their neighbors’ music or yelling or whatever, but right now I’d give anything to live in a crowded subdivision.

            Misfit veers off toward the river, but I run forward to the Saunders’ house. I pound on the door. Nobody comes. There’s noise behind me. And I see them—him—her —whatever—the person running through the woods toward me.

            I pound again.

            No answer.

            There’s no time.

            The Saunders have a dock and a kayak, just like we do. Praying that they don’t have a lock on the kayak, I rush to my right, downhill toward the river, tumbling and screaming. The dock is about fifty feet of wood planks out toward the water. The tide is lowish and the kayak is tied up at the end. I run as fast as I can toward it. The dock bounces with every footfall. Misfit is nowhere in sight, but the intruder? He’s halfway down the hill. He’ll be here soon and then … and then …

            The yellow cord attaching the kayak to the dock is just a half-hitch and I yank it off with my shaking hands. Two seconds later, I’m unhooking the rudder, dropping it into the water. Two seconds more and I’m hopping into the kayak’s cockpit. It rocks, but doesn’t turn over. There is no paddle. No paddle. I tuck the rope up between the lines on the front of the cockpit to get it out of the river. Water sloshes onto my pajama shorts. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is getting away. How do I get away without a paddle?

            Using my hands, I push off the dock sideways as hard as I can. The river mud waits in front of me. The person is on the dock, running toward me. The ski mask obscures the hair, the face. Whoever it is isn’t big. That’s all I get. They are not big.

            The tide takes the kayak. It’s coming in, away from the ocean, and toward town. I hit the foot pedal hard to steer the kayak, make it face the right way, and then the river does its work, pushing us out and into the middle, pulling the kayak and me away from the person on the dock. I look back. I’m so afraid they have a gun. I’m so afraid they’ll go unlock our kayaks from our dock, somehow, like they’ll know enough to know where Dad puts the keys.

            But they don’t.

            The intruder stands at the end of the dock and watches for a second. Then they lift their hand like they’re going to wave. Instead, they give me the finger.

            I face forward and start hyperventilating, but I don’t cry. I never cry. Not since my mom left at least. And that was a long time ago.


Upcoming Books!

See I’m committed! One book a month for the rest of the year.

And it’s so scary!

June – THE PEOPLE WHO KILLAdult mystery. Second in the Bar Harbor Rose Series

July –THOSE WHO SURVIVED – YA murder mystery. First in the DUDE SERIES!

August – SAINT, YA paranormal

September – INCH WORMS! Second in the DUDE SERIES!

October – THE TREASURES WE HIDE. Third in the Bar Harbor Rose Series.

November – ALMOST DEAD, an adult paranormal

December – NECROMANCER, YA paranormal – This title might change. 🙂

PODCASTS

Oh! And check out our podcasts when you get a chance. There are writing tips and life tips on DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE and just a freer flow of weirdness on our very live LOVING THE STRANGE. It’s live on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube at 7 p.m. EST, on Fridays.

BE A PART OF OUR MISSION!

Hey! We’re all about inspiring each other to be weird, to be ourselves and to be brave and we’re starting to collect stories about each other’s bravery. Those brave moments can be HUGE or small, but we want you to share them with us so we can share them with the world. You can be anonymous if you aren’t brave enough to use your name. It’s totally chill.

Want to be part of the team? Send us a quick (or long) email and we’ll read it here and on our YouTube channel.

LET’S HANG OUT!

HEY! DO YOU WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME TOGETHER?

MAYBE TAKE A COURSE, CHILL ON SOCIAL MEDIA, BUY ART OR A BOOK, OR LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST?

JUST CLICK ON THIS LINK AND FIND OUT HOW WE CAN INTERACT MORE.


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 and our new LOVING THE STRANGE podcast.

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!

Thanks so much for being one of the 261,000 downloads if you’ve given us a listen!

One of our newest LOVING THE STRANGE podcasts is about the strange and adorably weird things people say?

And one of our newest DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE episode is about fear setting and how being swallowed by a whale is bad ass.


And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

best thrillers The People Who Kill
The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

TO TELL US YOUR BRAVE STORY JUST EMAIL BELOW.

THE PEOPLE WHO KILL

Hey, everyone! I realized that I never do book excerpts on here. I know! I know, right? What kind of author am I? Apparently, I am an author who fails to market.

But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂

The People Who Kill

He had thought things would be easier further south, closer to the ocean. Not that Downeast Maine was exactly south. But at 44.3858 degrees north and 68.2094 west, it sure felt more south than snow-blown Fort Kent (47.2586 degrees north, 68.5894 west). Even with all the hell breaking lose in his job and his personal life, Fort Kent and its barely there year-round population of four-thousand souls didn’t have much to offer unless you were into dog sledding, Canadian biathlons, rooting for the basketball teams of Valley Rivers Middle School and Fort Kent High School.

            He was not into any of that.

            He’d expected better things when he left his job as an officer on the Fort Kent police force and headed to the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. That county had drunk tourists in the summer and heroin busts in the winter, but on his first day he crashed the cruiser. His second day, a deer hit another cruiser. On his third day, he made out with the shortest dispatcher in the bathroom behind the booking room. On this fourth day, he did the same with the tallest dispatcher, made a running date with the night-shift girl who just had a baby, and a sushi date with another cop.

            It didn’t earn him any friends in the department that was for sure. He switched jobs again becoming an officer in Bar Harbor, a tourist town on a big Maine island. Cruising right now, on the mean streets of the town, he knew he hadn’t made any friends there, either. And he’d been on the island what? Nine months? The length of a pregnancy. Lord if he knew where he could go next. Out of state maybe? But who would hire him when the longest he ever stayed was eighteen months and everywhere he left behind had tally sheets and personnel records and stories.

            Did you hear about Ernie? Yep. Caught a wild turkey taking a crap on the cruiser and shot it.

            Did you hear about Ernie? Ran right into a dumpster looking at a girl’s legs.

            Did you hear about Ernie? Heard he puts more product in his hair than Walgreens has in stock. Had to back order American Crew Defining Paste Medium Hold with Low Shine just for him.

            Did you hear about Ernie? Got the town manager’s daughter pregnant two months before his own wedding.

            Yeah.

            Did you hear about Ernie? Responded to a call about the same town manager pissing all over the side of his Subaru parked at the library afterhours and let him go even though it smelled like alcohol. Why? Cause he was too intimidated! What kind of cop is that?

            A bad cop. That’s what kind. He knew it. He was scared of the town manager, scared of arresting him, scared of his chief, scarred of pretty much everything.

            And the Mount Desert cops ended up arresting the town manager thirty minutes later, the moment he crossed the town line. Good times. Not.

            And here he was cruising down the Eagle Lake Road, still employed, thankfully, still married—maybe thankfully—and still miserable and the laughing stock of an entire community. During the appeal of his firing, the manager announced that he and Ernie had “hard feelings” because the newly married Ernie was having an affair with his daughter.  The newspaper reported it. At least that was all the administrator had said, because that wasn’t even half of it. Ernie exhaled, longing for some gum. He would stop by the Circle K later and pick some up. Most of the guys still chewed tobacco, which he thought was nasty, mostly because it turned teeth yellow and then brown. He had his teeth bleached, his fiancé insisted, and he had to admit he looked better than ever. A new break. A new start. That’s what he needed.

            Maine was a godforsaken state full of nasty people swilling coffee brandy by the gallon, chewing tobacco and spitting it into Pepsi cans. In 1838, there had been an ‘international incident’ up in the county where he came from when the boundary of New Brunswick, Canada was in dispute. Militias were formed on both sides with each side alternately capturing the captain of the other side, declaring captives “political prisoners,” and basically bullshitting about for a year. It was called the Pork and Beans War. Ernie’s great-great grandfather was in the militia. All that back and forth, political bullshit reminded him of Bar Harbor and the whole scandal about the town manager. People talked, took sides, switched sides, and nothing much happened except that the manager lost his job—for now. Lord knows, he was fighting to get it back. It didn’t matter that he was a drunken, carousing, womanizer – so adulterous that it made Ernie look like Mother Teresa by comparison. Ernie’s cheek twitched. He checked the rearview mirror. Nothing coming eastbound. Nothing coming westbound. It was such a boring night. It felt like the whole island was deserted, kind of like some sort of zombie apocalypse had just happened. The other officers were always talking about apocalypse scenarios and even had go-bags, rations. They lived in fear, stupid and paranoid. Ernie refused to be like them. A bitter cough escaped his mouth. Look where that refusal had gotten him. He was the laughing stock of the universe basically.

            The dispatcher’s voice broke the silence in the cruiser’s cabin. “Base to 412.”

            He keyed the radio. “412.”

            “Northeast Harbor Alarm reports an activated sensor alarm at 12 Bayberry, interior motion. 10-3.” The dispatcher, this dispatcher, always sounded scared on the radio like she was going to mess up majorly, but that had already happened, hadn’t it? It happened the day she changed the call for service on the town manager’s incident, trying to cover for Ernie. Jasmine was good shit. He’d had a thing with her too in the evidence room. He could hardly help it. She was always talking about cooking naked and her new husband that didn’t love her.

            Ernie sighed and turned the car around in a perfect U-turn, missing two deer that were staring at him from the side of the road. No points for that, huh? Nobody ever cares when you do things right. It’s only when you do things wrong that . . .

            “10-4,” he said into the radio. “Enroute.” 

            The wind whipped around the trees tonight and whenever that happened the super sensitive sensors at the ultra-rich’s summer homes always went off. This was his what? Fourth alarm this shift. Always a pain in the ass. You had to do a perimeter check of the property, search for unsecured windows and doors and then wait for the key holder (usually a caretaker who lived off island) to come and reset the alarm system. Fun. Fun.

            Maybe they could just move back to Fort Kent.

            Maybe they could move out of state. He heard about George West, this game warden who allegedly had an affair with Jasmine, too. Anyway, he and his wife (totally insane – made Morgan look normal) got back together after a year and he just took a sweet job working security at SeaWorld in Florida.

            A smile transformed Ernie’s face. Warm all year long. No snow ever. Tank tops. Short shorts. Bright teeth.

            He would bring it up as an idea. Morgan wouldn’t like being so far from family, but they were four hours away already. A quick plane ride for visiting. There was probably even a direct flight from Bangor to Orlando? There used to be.

            “Brilliant question,” he muttered as he pulled through downtown Bar Harbor. Half the shops were still boarded up, closed for winter, but it was mid-March and things would start opening up soon. Every year it was as if the town belched out all its visitors, closed its doors and hibernated, an introvert that couldn’t handle the influx of a million hiking, biking, driving, cranky families meant to enjoy the views of Acadia National Park.  

            Turning the cruiser off Main, past Mount Desert Island Hospital, he passed the boarded-up Mt. Desert Island Ice Cream shop where President Obama stopped and had a cone one summer. Or maybe it was a dish. He couldn’t remember. He was not a detail man. He was a big picture kind of guy. He turned left onto Livingston, past the wrought iron gates of the Faltin house. They were benefactors of the hospital’s in-patient care center, heirs to the Yummy Moore fortune and former “friends” of the manager. They had deserted him after he was put on leave. Most people had. John King was a bitter, angry, powerful alcoholic who liked to gamble and make people crumble with a perfect barb or insult. Imagine Sherlock with one eighth as much brains and even more of a sociopath, add in sexual addiction, and that was the town manager. Even now people were too scared of him to not support him and his cowboy ways.

            Even though it was just off of the town proper, one block deep towards the ocean and Livingston Road quickly became tree lined. At its end and to the right, was the gate to the Faltin property, manned by a gate house. On the left was Bayberry Lane.  The private driveways meandered from the right of the main road down towards the oceanfront property. Twelve Bayberry Road was just like the other three houses that lined the ocean’s rocky shore—huge, shingle-style, with the porches tucked under the footprint of the main structure. Even the porches get cold here, Ernie thought. The mansions seem to match the craggy coast—flinty, rugged, masculine.

            “I hate this f-ing place,” he muttered as he passed the concrete pillars marking the entrance of the drive, which circled to the front of the house. He could never remember if you were supposed to drive in clockwise or counterclockwise, but one way would always get you stuck. He chose counter clockwise and called in his location to Jasmine. “Yeah, I’ll be off at 12 Bayberry. Nothing currently showing at this time. I can hear the alarm. “

            “10-4.”

            Ernie stayed in the car another minute, hesitant to go out in the cold. March was way too damn cold this year. He wished people would stop calling the weather changes global warming and call it climate change. He wanted his own damn climate change. That was for sure. He keyed the microphone. “You made any contact with the key holder?”

            Jasmine had an unfortunate tendency to forget to call the key holders and another unfortunate tendency to forget to inform the officers that the key holders had been called. But this time she said, “Affirmative. Ted White is in route. Estimated time fifteen minutes.”

            “10-4.” Ernie rolled his eyes even though nobody was there to see it. Saying ‘affirmative’ didn’t make her a better dispatcher. It just made her sound like she was trying to show off. It made her feel special or something, he guessed.  He didn’t begrudge her that. Everyone wanted to feel special. Even him. Especially him. Isn’t that why he fell for Jessica King in the first place. It wasn’t just because she was hot. There were a ton of hot girls out there. Well, there were a lot in the summer. He liked her because she made him feel special and on fire, sexy, not like a pretty boy but a man. It didn’t matter now. What mattered now was moving on. He undid his seatbelt and keyed the mic again.  “I’ll be out of the car on portable.”

            The mountains wreaked havoc on the portables’ signals. It was always good to remind the less intelligent dispatchers about this. Plus, it was policy.

            “10-4,” Jasmine replied in a super sultry way.

            He was not attracted to Jasmine. She was skinny and everything, but she looked like she spent a lot of time making duck-lipped selfies where she always looked so much better than in real life. Still couldn’t hide her crazy eyes though. That had been a mistake. So many mistakes.

            He opened the driver’s side door and stood up, only thinking about turning on his blues at the last second. Ted White was a firefighter, so he decided to. He didn’t want Ted to complain. His personnel file was large enough as it was. One quick reach back inside and the lights were on, illuminating the driveway, the hard, frozen ground devoid of snow. There would be no obvious footprints. Not like there was a real burglar anyway. These things were always false alarms. Always. And with the way the wind was blowing there was no chance it could be real.  All Ernie could think about was the cold as he grabbed the edge of the cruiser door to shut it. He would definitely talk to Morgan about Florida. Getting away from all this cold, all this gossip, was probably exactly what they needed.

            He took two steps towards the house before the pain came, smashing against the back of his head. His perfectly white teeth hit the hard ground, one chipped, another broke in half from the impact. It didn’t matter. Another blow smashed against the side of his face. Then another. Then another. He never had a chance to draw his weapon or open his eyes. Never had a chance to see who killed him and then who walked the stone steps to the main building, smashed a window, then turned and walked away, never looking back to make sure that he was gone.

            He was.

What I’m Working On Right Now – Bit of a Book Excerpt – THE HISTORY OF HATE

I realized that I pretty much never post about bookish things on here, which is very bad in terms of marketing and things like that.

Grover: Cawwie, people will not buy books if they forget you’re a writer, you doofus. You can’t just post dog photos ALL THE TIME.

But before I am a writing coach and editor and even a podcaster, I’m a writer. I’ve been writing my whole life. It may have been poems or magazine pieces about cancer drugs or horses or newspaper articles about sports teams or land use ordinances and columns. It may have been YA or picture books or middle grade or even adult things.

Always. Always, I’ve been a writer. And even if I’m never published again (gasp) that won’t stop.


So, I’m going to remind myself about that a bit, and hopefully remind you, too!

A Baby Novella

I have a short novella coming out on Amazon really soon. I’ll tell you more about that at the end of the week, but for today? Here’s an excerpt of something I’m working on, so we can all remember I’m a writer. 🙂

The History of Hate


Colton

December of his and Anna’s Senior Year

Anna,

I don’t know where you are, or how to reach you, but I’m still writing you these letters. If you ever actually get them, the first thing you’ll probably wonder is why I’m writing you. The thing is, I don’t think I have a choice. I think I have to explain all this to you, whether you want to know or not, whether you want to hear it or not, whether you want to touch this, touch me, have me touch you. Or not.

            I just have to explain and then maybe?

            Maybe? I don’t know.

Love,

Colton


THE BEGINNING

Anna

February, Junior Year

What’s it take to rock an election?  

            It takes a good tagline.

            It takes an asshole opponent, excuse my French.

            It takes a narcissist, a cult leader, a come-to-Jesus moment. It takes that damn feeling of hope or vengeance.

It takes random people like me helping you and believing in you somehow even though we’ve been hurt by so many others we’ve believed in before.

Every four years all the presidential hopefuls come to Manchester, New Hampshire, the former mill-yard city next to my suburban town and they hope for magic to happen, for the New Hampshire hills and frost to lead them down a lucky road to an election win. The journalists and volunteers follow the candidates around, creating a surge in restaurant sales, filling up hotel rooms and parking lots. News vans with their little satellite dishes take up the parking spaces on the downtown streets. Sometimes candidates and even sitting-presidents come speak at my high school. They prance through the mall, shaking hands, while entourages stroll behind them looking like clumps of suits. Our more politically-motivated parents host parties and fundraisers. Cocktails are made. Hands are shaken. Position papers are recycled.

            I always volunteer for some candidate, usually someone that doesn’t have a chance in hell of winning. It’s been like this since kindergarten. I get addicted to helping, to holding signs, sending out campaign mailers, making phone calls to those people who still actually answer their phones.

            Dad says I’m a do-gooder.

            Mom says I have a savior complex.

            I don’t know if either of them are right, really. I just want to make a difference, you know? To believe in something bigger than romance and good grades and getting into college. And it’s exciting to be part of it. This year is no different. I can’t vote yet, which is ridiculous because most of the people I call from the phone bank have no clue about anything other than celebrity gossip, Fox News, let alone read an actual position paper. I meet campaign workers, make friends that I’ll only keep up with on social media and never see again.

            But this year is super different because I meet him. Colton Hardy. And I’m so afraid of losing people, more people, that I don’t know how to actually deal with gaining one, you know? It’s like I’m afraid to make friends or fall in love because it’s just one more person I could possibly lose. I’m tired of grief.

            But I’m standing on the corner of Elm and Maple streets, a totally prime spot because of downtown traffic and the wide safe sidewalks. I’m not holding an actual sign because I’ve put one on my dog Freya, which says Barkin’ for Larkin. She looks adorable. She’s large, white, furry and fluffy and the sign is on both sides of her. Despite her 120 pounds, she’s chill. People laugh, honk and wave. She wags at them and smiles.

            “Brilliant,” says one of the guys standing with me. Art is nerdy and always wears J. Crew mixed with L.L. Bean. He normally goes to NYU but he took the semester off to campaign. “You’re made for this. I can’t believe you’re just a junior.”

            “I don’t know what to say.” I dip my boot in the tiny snowbank at the edge of the sidewalk. The snow’s gone from happy and fluffy whiteness to crusty and gray.

            “Thank you?” he suggests, using his free hand to pull his hat down over his ears. It’s cold out here. The other hand holds a campaign sign.

            “Thank you.”

            “Perfect.” He laughs.

            I think he’s flirting but trying not to flirt because he’s in college and I’m still in high school and that’s a decidedly weird age dynamic, but I’m not into him anyways. I’m way more intrigued by the guy standing on the opposite street corner trying to hawk some posters that he’s obviously made himself. He’s young, too, like me—or at least he isn’t older-guy creepy and he has this weird, tall-confident vibe and a southern drawl that I can occasionally catch while he’s selling his merchandise. He’s so charismatic that people actually buy his posters and hug him afterwards.

            The thing is that this guy also keeps looking at us and when there’s a lull in traffic he strides across the four lanes of Elm Street and right up to me.

            “Hey.” His blue eyes are warm.

            “Hi.”

            “I’m Colton Hardy.” He reaches out a hand to shake. I take it. Ignoring everyone else, he bends down to pet Freya. She wags her tail. “Your dog is beautiful.”

            “Thanks.”

            “I’m selling posters,” he says.  “Obviously.”

            “I’m so sorry, but I don’t have any money.”

            His mouth drops open and he stands up straight again, towering over me. “No! No. I was going to give you one for free, but … I? Well, I don’t think our political beliefs align.”

            His whole body shivers for a second, poor guy. The tops of his ears are bright red. His voice is made of a silk that seems bordered with coffee and the pattern of his sounds are composed of fluid shapes, each containing this promise that seems to inspire trust, but despite all the cliched butterflies in my stomach, I am not a person who trusts because when you look closely at people you notice that they are made of pain and anger and garish wants, like bad TikTok posts that hit you over the head with their need to be seen, to be noticed, to be important.

            “Our political beliefs don’t align? That doesn’t matter. That’s so nice of you. Free. Thank you.” I take the poster which is all about ways liberals and conservatives can come together, making fun of both sides. “You look cold. Do you even have a hat?”

            “I’m from Alabama,” he says like that explains everything, which I guess it does and it doesn’t.

            One of the women I’m with groans. This campaign has not been the best for human rights or America, honestly. One of the leading candidates says sexist, racist things constantly. The South is becoming a hotbed for liberals like me to hate on, which I get because of the confederate flag and the Jefferson Davis monuments and everything, but racists aren’t just in the South, sexists aren’t just running for president, homophobes aren’t just in one region of the country. They’re everywhere and I hate thinking that I’m going to generalize about an entire state or region the way that I don’t want others to hold bigoted notions about women or sexuality or religion or race or ability.

            So, I do something stupid and when he asks me if I want to go out and get some food this weekend, I say yes.

            We exchange numbers and he trots back to his corner, smiling. Freya gives him a bark goodbye and everyone I’m with starts muttering about how that was a stupid move.

            “He’s harmless,” I say, trying to ignore that magic buzz of butterflies in my stomach, flapping their colorful wings into patterns of hope.

            College Guy Art goes, all knowingly, “No man is harmless.”

            “You’re a man,” I tell him and he crumples, laughing, because it’s like he forgot.

            We all laugh with him as the first text from Colton comes in. It says, I can’t wait.

            I close my eyes, try to see if the butterflies in my stomach are good or not and I almost imagine I can hear my dead niece’s voice whisper, “Oh, Anna. Not again. Seriously?”


There you go! Tell me what you think if you’ve read it! I hope you’re all doing well. There is so info behind the jump about ways you can support me. xo – Carrie

Continue reading “What I’m Working On Right Now – Bit of a Book Excerpt – THE HISTORY OF HATE”

The Places We Hide – an Excerpt

Hey, everyone! I realized that I never do book excerpts on here. I know! I know, right? What kind of author am I? Apparently, I am an author who fails to market.

But here’s an excerpt. I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it! That’s me marketing. 🙂

The Places We Hide

Chapter One

Hiding women are so similar; most of us are pretending that we aren’t hiding at all and we all seem to do it – the hiding – right out in the open. 

The sky looms over the tops of the little colonials and Victorian houses that line lower Ledgelawn Avenue. The air breathes across the neighborhood like some sort of cold soldier, waiting for things to happen. 

I haul in a bag of pellets off the front porch and into our living room and call for Lilly to hurry up before I open the heavy drapes by the loveseat window. I’m trying to make the room a tiny bit brighter, which is a losing battle, especially given the deep, gray color of the coastal Maine sky. 

            Winter will be fine this year. 

            I tell myself these sort of lies all the time. I tell myself that it is totally healthy to binge on Doritos after a meeting or that other mothers also hate quinoa. I tell myself that our lives are safe and good now. Safe and good. I tell myself that we won’t be found.

            If I was a drinking kind of person, I would be tempted to pour myself some wine, but instead, I just settle into the couch and wait for Lilly to come downstairs. There’s a copy of Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine on the round, farmhouse-industrial coffee table in front of me. It was on sale. Everything I buy is on sale. 

            It’s been over a year though; we’re safe. 

            When I pick up the book, the first page mentions rape. I put the book down and stare at it. Then I turn it over so I don’t have to see the blue cover and the woman’s face up in the sky or the words ‘triumphant national bestseller,’ even though I know those words probably mean that it has a happy ending. Right? 

            Books tend to be liars. 

            No. No, that doesn’t have to be true. For months, I’ve been trying to convince myself that I don’t need to worry about things anymore. Lilly and I have made a life for ourselves. The threat of snowflakes doesn’t change that, doesn’t take away the safety and life that I’ve built. Still, the memories of another winter, a specific winter day, come blizzarding back to me. The screams that I didn’t realize were my own. Lilly in my arms, gasping for breath. Escaping out the window onto the porch roof. Convincing Lilly to jump into a neighbor’s arms. The house on fire behind us. 

            I pick up the book again. Winter will be over eventually. It’s only just starting. Obviously, I need to get used to it – to the short days and cold, the way the memories keep flooding back no matter how hard I try to push them down. 

            “Mommy! I’m ready!” 

            The happy noise of Lilly’s feet tap lightly down the dark-stained tops of the wooden stairs that we just re-stained last week. We painted the baseboards white, hiding the scuff marks of past owners. Moving on, starting over, everyone does it, just not quite so dramatically as we did.

            “Hey there, cutie face,” I say as she rockets over to the couch wearing a glittery rainbow ballerina tutu over her unicorn leggings. She has her favorite pink wool giraffe sweater on and layered over that are the gold fairy wings that I bought her for her Halloween costume. She was a ballerina-fairy-kitty, a Lilly original. Today though, she’s topped her ensemble with a cowboy hat. “You look stylish.”

            She beams. “Do I have to wear a coat?”

            “Yes.”

            “But my fairy wings.” She points at them sticking out behind her. 

            “Need to come off in the car anyways.” I’m bringing her to a play date even though I still worry about not being with her 100 percent of the time. I push the unhealthy anxiety into my shoulder muscles.

            Batting her eyelids, she leans forward. “Mommy. . .”

            “They’ll be crushed. No self-respecting cowboy-ballerina-fairy wants crushed wings, right?”

            “True that,” she says with the fierceness of a fashionista and slings off the wings. She pulls a piece of toast out from the folds of her costume. “My bread is boring.” 

            “Did you put butter on it?” I ask. 

            “No. That would stain my costume.”

            “Not if you don’t put your snack in your costume, silly,” I say, standing up and tweaking her nose. 

Taking her bread, I head to the kitchen and apply some butter pretty liberally. I know that the good mom handbook is against fat in children’s diets and also against excess sugar, but I’m sure that I’ve been not following the handbook for a while now. Relocating your daughter, giving yourself a new name and identity, probably doesn’t fit in with the perceptions of good mom either. 

            “Baby, come in here and eat your bread at the counter,” I call. 

She skips into the kitchen and comes up to the little island/counter that separates the kitchen from our small dining area, which barely fits the table and bookcase that I’d put in it. The table came from Goodwill and had a million marks and scuffs on the wood, but I’d bought some ModPodge, fancy paper, and sponge applicators and made it prettier. It was good enough for us for now. And that is all that matters. Us. 

            Sighing, I head to the addition where the door to the basement, bathroom, and laundry are. I check the door to the little back deck and stare out at the fenced-in yard overlooking a short border of trees and then the town’s ballfield. Everything is secure. I let myself exhale for a second and lean against the big window, putting my forehead against the cold windowpane. I try so hard not to live in fear, to not be paranoid, and I usually think I’m successful, but then it’s habits like these that make me realize that I’m just fooling myself and that underneath the surface of everything is a constant fear made real by routines like this – double checking doors, first-floor windows, always knowing two escape routes from every room that we’re in. 

            Lilly comes in and grabs my hand. “You ready, Mommy?”

            I am. I have to go take photos for the paper and she’s heading to her favorite friend’s house. The beautiful thing about Bar Harbor, Maine compared to Colorado is how quickly the families accepted us and took care of us. Everyone is constantly having playdates and book clubs and gatherings. Allegedly, it’s because in the summer everyone is so overwhelmed by the tourists and then in the winter everyone is so overwhelmed by the nothingness and white grays of winter that they have to gather together in warm places to remind themselves that there is light in the grayness and cold that is the winter world. 

            When we head back to the kitchen, it’s obvious that Lilly has devoured almost all of her bread and has half demolished an apple. 

“You thirsty?” I ask, opening the refrigerator.

            “No.”

            “Want some milk?” I wave the jug in front of her face. It’s one of our running gags because she hates it so much and I always pretend to forget that she hates it so much. 

            She makes a barfing noise while I mock surprise and gulp some milk out of the jug myself. 

            “That’s rude, Mommy.” She crosses her arms over her chest.

            “I am a terrible, terrible human being and should go to prison right this second for such a serious offense.”

            She just sticks her tongue out at me. I put the lid back on the milk and pull out an apple, which I toss to her. She catches it in one hand. 

            “Just in case you get hungry later.” I put the milk back in the refrigerator, inhale through my nose, which is supposed to help with anxiety and fear of it away. I’ve got to tell you though; it’s hard to fear anxiety when it lives inside you like a constant friend. You get used to it hanging around.

            “They always feed me at Michelle’s,” Lilly says, studying the apple. 

            I hug her. “It’s just me trying to take care of you.”

            “You’re such a mommy.” She hugs me back. 

We put on winter jackets, hats, mittens and I resist the urge to recheck the back door and we go. I grab my camera bag and lock the front door behind us. Lilly skips down the sidewalk chanting, “Snow day. Snow day. Snow day.”

            She scurries into our MINI Cooper the moment I hit the fob that unlocks the car. The afternoon air is brisk. We’ve survived many Colorado mountain winters so I doubt a winter on Maine’s coast is going to be a big deal. The ocean makes the island we live on warmer. The snow doesn’t get too deep – not compared to where we were before. 

            Walter Hildebrand, one of those cops that are more a stereotype than they should be thanks to his massive girth and love of donuts, honks the horn at us. It’s a cheerful honk and not what you expect from a patrol car. 

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” he yells out his window, which he’s already rolling up again before we can respond.

            It’s getting closer to Christmas. I’m secretly excited about our first Christmas alone, but also worried because the gifts aren’t going to be nearly as fancy or expensive as the gifts Lilly is used to. She wants a certain doll that costs so much money that I’ve complained about it to everyone I meet. The other big thing she wants is a Lego set that is legitimately the same amount as one week of my small reporter’s salary. And a dog. I grew up poor, lower middle class, but until now Lilly has grown up rich – scared, but rich. Things are drastically different.

            “Buckle up, baby,” I say as she straps herself in. 

            “You don’t have to remind me, Mommy.” She cocks her head in a sort of arrogant way. “I’m a big girl.” 

            “I know.”

            “And I’m very responsible.”

            “I know.”

            I scruff her hair. She smiles at me. And looking over my shoulder, I back out of the driveway onto Ledgelawn. There’s a massive tree in between my house and the neighbor’s house and it makes me nervous whenever I leave. Down the street, Sarah Lowell is walking her big old pittie, heading in the opposite direction from us. Directly across the street, Karol Baker, lifts up his hand in a wave. I toot the horn in reply and Lilly waves enthusiastically at Karol. She loves him because he has a yellow lab that he always lets her pet. 

            “I like this town,” she announces as we drive to her play date. 

Continue reading “The Places We Hide – an Excerpt”