Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

There’s this Buzzfeed article , or Listicle, that gives moments where people were kind to strangers. Gasp! I know, right? Kind to actual strangers?  And we talk about this in our podcast, but it’s also kind of a silly concept as if there are only “21 moments” where this happens, or as if it isn’t sometimes easier to be kind to strangers rather than to the people who torture you daily aka your family.

Just kidding! Just kidding!

So, what do these beautiful moments of kindness have to do with writing?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Remember that kindness, that telling moment of giving or empathy? T. hat makes the characters you write so much more likable. You root for characters who take care out of others.

Search the world and your life for those random moments. Use them in your writing.

Be the flamingo of change. Don’t be afraid to be innovative, to be quirky, to be kind. We all tend to resist personal change, remember that when you’re writing your characters.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

I bet you know where we’re going here.

Be kind. Be the stranger who helps. Don’t guard your bones, man. Don’t growl away your opportunities to be kind.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

WRITING NEWS

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And the books are out of this world. Please buy them and support a writer.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it because it’s empowering and about friendship and bias and magic. Plus, dragons and elves.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me and each other. I hope you have an amazing day.

A new episode of Dogs are Smarter Than People, the quirky podcast with writing tips, life tips and a random thought will be up tomorrow. Check it out, like and subscribe!

Five Ways to Write Happy
Five Ways to Write Happy

 

Be the Flamingo of Change, Writers. Kindness Matters.

 
 
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What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

Here’s our biggest tip for beginning writers. Ask yourself this question:

What makes a story memorable?

It’s change. It’s how the hero of the story enters that story with something broken inside them. All the things that have happened before your story starts – the back story – has set up the hero needing to achieve something or needing to change something inside of themselves.

ET was a movie about an alien, but the reason it was so amazing was because it was a movie about a family in pain, a family that needed to believe in magic and love again. ET gave them that.

So, when you’re writing your book, think about the backstory of your character, what it is that put her/him/them in this place and what they need to do to change themselves or their world.

That’s what the heart of a story is.

That’s what makes it memorable. The internal change.

 

Dog Tip for Life

Don’t be afraid to evolve. New places, new experiences, new life paths, are all ways to become something and someone better.

 

Writing Tips of the Pod

  1. Have Fun – Don’t write unless you love it or can’t live without it
  2. Remember That Your Characters and Their Journeys Matter
  3. Cut out Extra Scenes
  4. Don’t Try to Write Like Anyone Else
  5. Edit Like A God – Cast out all that doesn’t belong
  6. Don’t Worry About Being Successful – Worry about the story.

SHOUT OUT

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website.Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Night Owl” by Broke For Free.

 

WRITING NEWS

I’m heading to Montreal this week and the Houston and Virginia Beach pretty soon to promote my picture book biography of Moe Berg. It’s called The Spy Who Played Baseball. 

My Post copy 6

And I’ll be in Freeport, Maine September 28 as part of a Nerdy Evening of Kidlit writers!

ENHANCED, the follow-up to FLYING is here! And it’s out of this world.

 

The last TIME STOPPERS BOOK is out and I love it. You should buy it.

Timestoppers3_005

How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.comand let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Art Stuff

You can buy prints of my art here. Thank you so much for supporting my books and me. I hope you have an amazing day.

What Makes A Story Memorable; Tips for Beginning Writers.

 
 
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Writing Tips Wednesday: Romance, Structure, and the Meet Cute

So, for the last few weeks, I talked about hooking your readers, but now I’m moving on a bit to story structure and romantic elements of your story.

The Meet Cute

Full disclosure: I am not the best at writing the meet cute scenes in romance stories. This is because lately, I’ve been writing stories where the characters have already met. They’ve grown up together and their relationship shifts from friendship to loveship.

I just made that word up.

But the meet cute happens usually after we’ve met the two romantic partners. The meet cute (despite its name) doesn’t even have to be cute. It has to be sizzling. It has to be flames. It has to have something that resonates inside each partner that makes us readers think – Oh, yeah. This is going to happen.

So, in the typical romance structure we have:

 

Meet Partner 1

Meet Partner 2

Partner 1 and Partner 2 Meet. Sizzles!

 

But in order for that sizzle to happen, we have to really understand Partner 1 and Partner 2 already. What is it that makes them tick? What do they want? How are they flawed? Make us remember them in those first scenes before the meet cute.

 

Are they awesome at something? Are they funny? Are they suffering? Have they done something super kind and selfless? Do they love something in a big way? Those key elements need to be there inside the character before the meet cute happens.

 

And what is it that they want? Make it something external and internal. An external goal might be easy or hard – it could be to get an ice cream cone. It could be to get a promotion or save the world from rabid hamsters. An internal goal could be something like – to be loved, to believe in myself. The character might not know her/his/their internal goal. But the author should. And also a flaw – that’s important. Nobody is perfect. And also add in something deep – what is it that your character never ever wants the world to know about them. That makes the character resonate.

 

Got it?

 

So before the meet cute, you want:

 

  1. To set up both characters if possible (Sometimes it isn’t when it’s first person).
  2. To include in that character set-up:
    1. External want
    2. Internal want
    3. Flaw
    4. Deep hidden secret
    5. Something that makes us like them and root for them.

 

So, easy, right? You’ve got this.

I made a video about copy editing my next book, co-written with Steve Wedel. It’s called IN THE WOODS and its scary self arrives in 2019. BUT HERE IS THE GOOFY VIDEO!

Writing News

31702754 copy

ENHANCED PAPERBACK RELEASE!

This is the book that I forgot was coming out. I am so sorry, little book!

Carrie Jones, the New York Times bestselling author of Flying, presents another science fiction adventure of cheerleader-turned-alien-hunter Mana in Enhanced.

Seventeen-year-old Mana has found and rescued her mother, but her work isn’t done yet. Her mother may be out of alien hands, but she’s in a coma, unable to tell anyone what she knows.

Mana is ready to take action. The only problem? Nobody will let her. Lyle, her best friend and almost-boyfriend (for a minute there, anyway), seems to want nothing to do with hunting aliens, despite his love of Doctor Who. Bestie Seppie is so desperate to stay out of it, she’s actually leaving town. And her mom’s hot but arrogant alien-hunting partner, China, is ignoring Mana’s texts, cutting her out of the mission entirely.

They all know the alien threat won’t stay quiet for long. It’s up to Mana to fight her way back in.

“Witty dialogue and flawless action.”—VOYA
“YA readers, you’re in for a treat this week. Hilarious and action-packed, this novel is sure to be the perfect summer read.”—Bookish 

“Funny and playful, with a diverse cast of characters and a bit of romance and adventure, Flying is the perfect light summer read.”—BookPage

Order Your Copy:

amazon bn booksamillion  indiebound

Cough. That was pretty self-promotional, wasn’t it?

The Final Time Stoppers Book

What is it? It’s the third TIME STOPPERS book! It’s also one of the reasons that I forgot about ENHANCED’s release.

Time Stopper Annie’s newfound home, the enchanted town Aurora, is in danger. The vicious Raiff will stop at nothing to steal the town’s magic, and Annie is the only one who can defeat him–even though it’s prophesied that she’ll “fall with evil.”

Alongside her loyal band of friends Eva, Bloom, SalGoud, and Jamie, who still isn’t quite sure whether he’s a troll or not, Annie journeys deep into the Raiff’s realm, the Badlands. The group will face everything from ruthless monsters to their own deepest fears. Can Annie find the courage to confront the Raiff and save everyone, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice?
What People are Saying About The Books:
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
“The characters show welcome kindness and poignant insecurity, and the text sprinkles in humor . . . and an abundance of magical creatures.” Kirkus Reviews 

“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 
How to Get Signed Copies: 

If you would like to purchase signed copies of my books, you can do so through the awesome Sherman’s Book Store in Bar Harbor, Maine or the amazing Briar Patch. The books are also available online at places like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

For signed copies – email barharbor@shermans.com for Sherman’s or email info@briarpatchbooks.com and let them know the titles in which you are interested. There’s sometimes a waiting list, but they are the best option. Plus, you’re supporting an adorable local bookstore run by some really wonderful humans. But here’s the Amazon link, too!

Don’t Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

So, when you read a book, and you remember a book, a lot of the time it isn’t the plot that you’re remembering. It’s the character that has held you enthralled.

Plots are super important, but it’s the character that things are happening to that really hold the plot together.

A lot of stories fail because their main character is… Well, he’s boring. She’s a bit blah. There’s nothing about them that stands out.

We remember the people who are larger the life. I know we’ve talked about it before, but it’s so important. Make your characters outrageous. Make them wild. We all love Captain America, but he’s not quite as memorable as The Hulk or Iron Man.

Dogs are Smarter Than People Podcast
How to hook readers with kick-butt memorable characters

Elements that Can Make a Character Larger than Life

Strength and Inner Struggle –

The Hulk is memorable because he has this intense inner struggle against his own rage and helplessness, but he also morphs into this huge beast with great strength.

Wit –

Funny characters are hard to write, but they are so memorable. Iron Man, Deadpool, whoever it is Chris Pratt plays in Guardian of the Galaxies – those guys are funny. We remember them more than Hawkeye (in the movies) because they are so funny. Plus, they’ve had stand-alone movies. Poor Hawkeye.

Self-Sacrifice –

The savior is memorable. That ultimate self-sacrificing hero like Captain America ends up being memorable even though his inner struggle isn’t all that. Why? Because he’s a higher form of hero. He’s good. He’s so good.

Sigh.

Dog Tip For Life: Don’t be the stereotype. Be authentic.

Writing Tip of the Pod: Don’t be afraid to build the biggest, coolest character you can build.

Shout Out – The music clips in this podcast are available thanks to Podington Bear’s generosity. The track is “Azzmash Reflash.”

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

It’s out! You can order my middle grade fantasy novel Time Stoppers Escape From the Badlands here or anywhere.

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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 my book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun.

My Post copy 6

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.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

I offer solo writing coach services. For more about my individual coaching, click here.

Appearances

I’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8. It is in Augusta, Maine.

Don’t Be the Stereotype. How to Hook Your Readers With Memorable Characters

 
 
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Wednesday Writing Tips How to Hook Readers And How Not To Bore Them

The main element when we write a book is that we want our readers to keep reading. So,  I think I’m going to start what I like to call (Drumroll please) the Wednesday Writing Series About Hooking Your Reader.

I’ll be giving two hints a blog post. Let’s keep going!

TWO QUICK HINTS TO KEEP YOUR READER HOOKED ON YOUR BOOK

Let the reader identify with someone.

We like stories where we can quickly identify with the main character, or at least a character, pretty early on.

Think about all the BuzzFeed quizzes that ask, “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” “Which Buffy Character Are You?” “Who Are You In The Wire?” “What Disney Princess Are You?”

It goes on and on.

We humans like to identify with characters who are in the stories we read or the video we watch. It’s like a nice pat on the back that says we aren’t alone, and it creates community.

Don’t Do This:

  1. Start with dialogue on the first line. It’s hard to care about the person speaking if you haven’t met them yet.

“Wow,” he said. “That is really it.”

Huh, the reader said.

2. Tell us stuff we don’t need to know.

So, in 1870 or something like that I had this great great aunt who allegedly stepped on a nail or something, not that it matters. Although, maybe it mattered to her, but yeah. I don’t know why I’m telling you this.

Neither does the reader.

3. Introduce 18 characters in the first paragraphs. It’s hard to remember who is who and who is important.

As Belinda walked inside the Timberland RV Campground in Trenton, Maine she waved hello to Lincoln, son-in-law of the owner, a retired man with a name like Jack or something, and then she waved to Debbie, Lincoln’s wife, who was riding on a golf cart with Charlene. Peggy was perched on the back with a blonde child whose name I think is Jackie…

Enough said, right?

4. And finally describe things just for the sake of describing them.

Timberland RV Campground descended into a slight hill, managing to split itself across two town lines. It was Trenton in the front and Ellsworth in the back and the back was where there were no trees surrounding the sites, just pull-in places for the giant RVs and motorhomes and campers and busses. I have no idea which is which. I’d never been in a campground before, but they had hook-ups at some of the sites for water and sewer, or just one, and electricity. There were metal fire rings and some people had fancied up their sites with flowers and decks and lobster buoys because… Maine.

 

You can find the other posts in this series by searching the hookingreaderstag.

Writing News

Next and Last Time Stoppers Book

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

Please buy it so I can keep buying food for the dogs… and stuff…

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

Writing Coach

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

Appearances

Carrie will be at The Books-A-Million in South Portland, Maine on August 8. That’s tonight!

She’ll be at the Maine Literacy Volunteers Festival on September 8.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

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).

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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! 

37584945_10156714893329073_1974569355584733184_n

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.

dogs are smarter than people carrie after dark being relentless to get published

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.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

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.

DiLAZJkXkAAHOHC

Is That Even A Joke? It’s All About the Subtext

So, um, a lot of the time during the podcast Shaun will say something that makes Carrie have these huge pauses because she’s reading the subtext underneath what he’s saying.

Honesty moment: Shaun’s subtext is usually naughty, which is totally okay because they are married, but Carrie has these brain hiccups when that happens because:

  1. She is from New England and grew up where people pretended intercourse didn’t happen and people made babies by sitting on unclean toilet seats.
  2. She is a children’s book writer, but not the cool cutting-edge kind that writes about intercourse and she’s worried about her branding. Just kidding! Sort of…

Anyway, Alicia Rasley said that in writing: “Subtext is like a gift to the astute reader—an additional layer of meaning implied by the text but not accessible without a bit of thinking. … Experienced readers aren’t confined to the text—what’s printed on the page—they interact with the text, fully participating with the writer in the making of meaning in the story.”

Sort of how Carrie interacts with Shaun during the podcast.

Writing Tip of the Cast: Not everything has to be super obvious. Trust your readers. Remember your book, like a podcast, is a conversation, not just a monologue.

Dog Tip for Life: Don’t be afraid of the subtext. Notice people’s nuance, the meaning under what they’re saying.

SHOUT-OUT

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

Writing News

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.

You should totally buy Carrie’s book about Moe. It’s awesome and quirky and fun. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

And finally, for the month of July, Carrie’s 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.

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 3.37.18 PM

Proof of the sale-nature of July.

 

Thanks so much for reading my blog! Please comment or say ‘hi!’ if you feel like it!

 

xo

Carrie and Shaun

Is That Even A Joke? It’s All About the Subtext

 
 
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Nena Has Seen Horrors

 

ANTIAGO, PANAMA — Nena has seen horrors. The wife of a member of a Santiago Rotary Club has seen it all and somehow the knowledge of human frailty and evil doesn’t diminish the light in her brilliant eyes or the passion in her advocacy.

When we enter a Santiago hospital and I ask her if she works here, she laughs.

“No,” she tells me. “I volunteer here. I volunteer everywhere. My husband. The man with the cane? He works here.”

Nena is from Mexico originally. She knows Spanish, English, Italian and Japanese. She is a Rotarian from birth, she says. Her father was a Rotarian. Her husband is a Rotarian. She is not an official part of the Santiago Rotary Club, which is about 26 members strong. Only one of those members is a woman.  She is still a Rotarian.

“There used to be five women.” She shrugs like this change in the membership dynamics is not much of a big deal.

She spends the day showing us the projects that the Santiago Rotarian men have accomplished, but also the projects that are propelled by the wives of the club, women who spend their times unofficially helping people while not being official Rotarians.

 One of those places she brings us is a home for children who are malnourished. Another is a home for children whose mothers are having difficulties. Some of them are orphans. Some of them are not officially orphans, but currently without parents. There are sisters whose father is their grandfather. There is Kimberly, 11, whose mother tried to kill her last year. Kimberly is sweet, perching on a coach, a desk, while the younger children frolic around her. She picks a multi-colored Beanie Baby bear and cradles it in her hands. She watches the Rotarians crowd in to meet her and the other children and hear how Rotary has helped them. She smiles shyly but quickly. I am instantly in love with her as she laughs as a Rotarian with spotty Spanish tries to figure out her age.

 “Her mother is in prison forever,” Nena says, voice quaking with anger. She tells us the story of another girl, eight years old, who she met in a hospital. “I saw her, saw the line on her belly and said, ‘This girl is pregnant.’”

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People scoffed.

But Nena persisted. “They said, ‘She hasn’t even had her first period yet.’ But I said, ‘She is.’”

They tested her and she was more than halfway through her pregnancy. Her mother couldn’t understand. It turned out that her grandfather watched her while her mother worked. Her grandfather had been raping her. He also sold her to his friends. He is in jail now.

“As far as I am concerned they should have cut off his balls,” Nena says.

Nena enters a home for children with troubles, children like Kimberly, those sisters, a little boy named Jesus, and Nena pauses to scoop up a baby, cradling him in her arms, cooing. She is justice and kindness. She is anger and action. She is love and grace and a million things all wrapped up in a small package of a woman that wears multiple pieces of jewelry at once.

The Bar Harbor and Ellsworth Maine Rotary Clubs and Nena visit schools and water towers that the Santiago Rotary Club has sponsored. We meet Jesus who folds his Ellsworth Blueberry Pancake Breakfast t-shirt into a precise rectangle, smiling at his colored pencils and coloring book. We meet school children who will have physical education class again simply because we have brought a few soccer balls. We meet Kimberly who smiles with love despite what her mother tried to do.

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 Ellsworth President David Wells hands out toys and t-shirts. Ellsworth High School student Josh Callnan inflates soccer balls with a pump that Dave Wheaton and Annette Higgins thought to bring. Retired professor, Sallie Boggs, is greeted by an eight-kindergartener simultaneous hug. Shaun Farrar is surrounded by children at each school he visits. The students gaze up and up at his 6 foot 6 inch frame with wonder, giggling as he asks their names.

“They think he is a giant,” one Santiago Rotarian laughs. “He is, actually.”

In a place where malnourishment is often an issue, growing so tall is rare. The Santiago Rotarians have made combatting malnourishment a priority creating five or six sites at schools where they hatch and raise chickens for six weeks, three times a year. The students then eat the chickens for lunch. Their parents take turns cooking, rotating throughout the year. The chickens that are not eaten are sold to buy more at an earlier stage in their life cycle.

Nourishment helps children have stronger minds and bodies. Rotarians, including former Santiago Club President Edwin Munoz, dispersed 10,000 dictionaries throughout Panama to give students access to words that will give them broader, stronger futures. `

Clean water is also important. Working with a Rotarian from Texas, the club has provided multiple water tanks to both residential areas and schools. The Texas Rotarian’s wife had died. When they were visiting Panama she had been saddened by the lack of running water in schools. School would have to be closed in the middle of the day so children could wash and get water off site.

“It was disruptive,” says their principal. “This is so much better.”

The Santiago Rotarians have even provided sewing machines to the local hospital so that workers could make hospital gowns and surgery garments for doctors and patients.

Hospital Director Doctor Rafael Andrade addressed the Rotarians and speaking both about the sewing machines and the wheelchairs that the Ellsworth and Bar Harbor Rotarians brought over said, “There is no word for this because it is something that comes from you’re heart. I hope that this visit is not your last time here.”

As the Rotarians visited the bowels of the hospital to see the industrial sewing machines, Nena said, “They have needs. The hospital – everyone – they have many needs. They want wheelchairs, too.”

 Rotary and Nena and the women like her keep picking away at those needs. When the home for malnourished children needed a physical therapy room, Rotarians from Panama and the United States stepped up.

“They needed a wall for the room. We built a wall. They needed another wall for a room. They built another wall. Piece by piece is how these things happen,” Nena says.

 And she’s right. It is piece by piece, volunteer by volunteer, wheelchair by wheelchair, water tower by water tower that change happens, that lives become a little bit better, that hope because reality. Change and hope, service and volunteerism are powerful things. It doesn’t matter if it’s little steps. All that matters is that it’s steps in the right direction. That direction is forward. That direction is to a better life. That direction is towards hope.

 

DO GOOD WEDNESDAY

Rotary International Makes a Massive Difference One Person at a Time

The problems that Rotary International members tackle in the world and the local communities can seem massive and overwhelming, until you realize that Rotary has 1.2 million members fighting for good, piece by piece, moment by moment, person by person.

I was lucky enough to be a part of a few wheelchair projects. This is a piece about one of those projects. To find out more about Rotary, check out www.mdirotary.org or www.rotary.org

Writing News

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. She’s heading to Houston, North Carolina, and Virgnia soon, just to talk about it. How cool is that?

My Post copy 6

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! (WSS) six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

WSS-Testimonial-Mountains-1-300x300

Writers, Go With Your Gut and Bring Out the Big Emotion

A lot of the times that Carrie works with writers, she notices that they are pulling back from the emotion that is happening in the story. Instead of allowing the reader to feel the terror of being kidnapped or the anxiety of moving to a new place or the desperate sorrow of losing a loved one, the writer skims over these emotional times with a simple moment of telling like, “John was sad that his dog died.” Or worse. “The dog died. John went to school.”

These are lost opportunities. They are also places where the story goes flat or in writer speak, “fails to resonate.”

A lot of writers, especially children’s book writers, are kind people and by default they don’t want to hurt their characters or dwell in any negative emotions. They are trying to protect their characters and the readers.

But those good intentions don’t actually help anyone.

The real world has pain. Our stories have pain, too.

We have to learn to deal with hardships. Our characters do, too.

And the emotion of stories, the ups and downs, are the ride that our readers are signing up for. They want to feel with us, be transported into others’ lives.

For example, Harry Potter had hardship after hardship and so did his friends. J.K. Rowling didn’t shy away from the hard emotions and hard times. She’d add in beats, moments of dwelling in those big moments of joy and sorrow. What Harry felt, the reader felt.

The premise of your story needs to do this, too. It has to have an emotional hook that makes you wonder and care right away. Again, think of Harry Potter – the story of the boy who lived, a lonely orphan who must overcome the evil wizard who killed his parents. Just thinking about the premise fills you with thoughts and wonder and worry and so many questions. The emotional stakes are so high.

Dog Tip For Life

Embrace your emotions. Think about what makes you snarl, yelp, wag your tail. Go after the ball. Go after the moments that make you feel good.

Writing Tip of the Pod

Um… again… embrace your emotions. Don’t be afraid to express real emotion. It feels safer to hide your emotion, but passion makes better life and better stories. Be passionate about what you’re writing and about how your living.

Dogs are Smarter Than People

Writing News

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.

Writing Coach

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.

Shout-Out

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

Writers, Go With Your Gut and Bring Out the Big Emotion

 
 
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Worst Case Scenarios are Bad For Your Heart and Good For Your Writing

Shaun used to call me, “WC,” because he is evil.

No. Really. He called me that because I’m always thinking up the worst case scenario for every situation and planning for that, which is not a particularly healthy way to live.

But. . . it’s a pretty good way to write. The ‘what if’ element of any situation in real life can be expanded into a story. Throw a ‘what if’ coupled with a ‘worst case scenario’ into your story idea and you have really high stakes.

For the full podcast episode, check out here. 

In the podcast, we talk about William Shatner in a hot tub, pauses, and all the stuff you’re reading right now – but better.

But let’s talk about inserting WORST CASE SCENARIOS INTO STORY.

Like when Carrie wrote the Need series, she thought, “What is the worst thing that can happen to this girl forced to move to Maine from Charleston? Oh. How about her biological father is a pixie king who is kidnapping people to feed off them because he can’t control his hunger and need. Ah. That’s not bad enough. How about we throw in an impending apocalypse and she has to turn pixie to stop it?”

Story ideas can come from anywhere. Your own life. The news. Random stories of friends. Country music videos. But the story ideas that are heart-stopping are the ones where there’s a worst case scenario involved. Take a situation in your life and think, “Whoah, what if those people were cannibals?” or “Whoah, what if that cat was a secret Russian agent?”

Those ‘what if’ stories are the stories that make high stakes and high action.

Don’t be afraid of the worst case scenarios.

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. 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. Moe Berg 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. Writing Coach Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she's also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie's individual coaching, click here.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Expecting horrible things to happen isn’t healthy. Enough said. Eat bacon instead.

NO, SERIOUSLY, ASK YOURSELF THIS:

What do I need to change in order to get what I want? What do I have to change to make myself a better person? A more successful person? A person I want to be?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Making horrible things happen in your story is TOTALLY happy. Enough said. Extra tip: Bacon is not good for you nor is it good for pigs.

The music in this podcast is “Check Them In” by Ema Grace and her site is here. We’re able to use this amazing music, thanks to Ema’s kindness and the Creative Commons.

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.

Timestoppers3_005

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.

WRITING COACH

Carrie offers solo writing coach services, but she’s also teaching a Write! Submit! Support! six-month class online via the Writing Barn in Austin. For details about that class, check out this link. For more about Carrie’s individual coaching, click here.