New Year’s Gifts and Open Hearts

Open Hearts at Grocery Store

Two years ago, on the last day of 2017 (the no-good, terrible year), I was in the grocery store line and the cashier said something nice about me making a good meal for my man and how cute we are together and then she said, “You’re best buddies. Best buddies forever. Me and my — ” Her voice caught on grief. “We were like that.”

And my heart broke right there.

And I said, “C–, you’re breaking my heart and you’re working and I can’t get over there on the other side of the grocery belt thingy and hug you because you’re working.”

The bagger girl at the end of the lane looked away. I don’t think she’s good with emotion.

But C– just smiled at me and said, “It’s okay. It’s okay. I have a new man in my life and he’s so sweet to me and he showed up just when I needed him and my J–, I think he sent him to me.”

Her J — is her long-time, forever buddy, her husband who died.

So, I basically emoted all over the place while she rung up my crackers and I was like, “C–! You are killing me. I’m crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because I’m happy for you. I’m crying because you’re so beautiful. And this is all… it’s all so… It’s poignant.”

She laughed.

The bagger kept looking away.

And when I walked out of the grocery store, this person I don’t know, he touched my elbow to make me stop my mad-fast hustle to the car. It was -2 out. It was cold.

The guy who was all bundled up and wearing some Carhartt’s said, “You know. When you have a heart as open as yours, it’s going to hurt sometimes.”

And I said, brilliantly, “Oh.”

“It’s worth it,” he said. “Do good out there, Carrie. Do good.”

I was a little freaked out, but I thanked him, got to my car and sat there, and I just stared at this cold, Maine, parking lot and the people rushing through the grayness that seems to sometimes overwhelm everything during winter and my heart got so full that I started emoting everywhere again because that random Carhartt-wearing man took time out of his day to talk to me. He stopped in the cold to talk to me.

This guy knew my name somehow, but bigger than that? This guy knows about hearts.

Gifts Out There

So, here’s the thing – there are gifts out there (big gifts and little ones) and they can come from the weirdest places. They’re connections. They’re motivations. They are these tiny times where you get to see inside other people’s minds and hearts.

Savor them this year. Try to dwell on those good things as much as we all dwell on the bad.

And let both the good and the bad inspire you to make a difference in your own life and maybe even other people’s lives (big ways and little ways).

cat, cat wisdom, catandkitten, kitten, Maine cat, maine
cat, cat wisdom, catandkitten, kitten, Maine cat, maine

Thank You

Thank you all for everything you’ve done for me this year. You’ve listened to me worry about things like suddenly being a full-time mom again.  You’ve celebrated with me about book stuff and podcast stuff. You’ve mourned with me when Charlene died.

You haven’t mocked me too hard because Grover (the muppet) is my internal cheerleader and John Wayne (dead cowboy movie star) is my internal editor. You’ve been brave with me on Be Brave Fridays when I shared my art, which is still scary by the way.

Some of you have bought my books and become my patrons. On social media, so many of you have been so kind over and over. And you haven’t unsubscribed to my newsletter. That’s such a big deal to me.

Thank you.

I really appreciate how kind and giving you’ve all been and if I write any more I’ll start crying. And there’s no random stranger guy here to make me feel better.

But there is Gabby….

Gabby’s New Year Wisdom

Love is being right in the moment. It’s about enjoying everything around you. And really feeling it, being open to it.

This includes the couch.

It even includes squirrels.

It’s not giving or taking, but who you are in relationship to all else (especially the couch) at that moment.


Gabby Dog

Last week’s podcast

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Continue reading “New Year’s Gifts and Open Hearts”

Boys Who Broke My Heart

I once saw a blog all about BOYS WHO BROKE MY HEART.

I, of course, had to write my own list.  Here’s the thing, I never was actually physically attracted to any of these boys, but I had romantic attachments to some of them. They broke my heart in different ways.


Carl of the brown cords. He lived next to Debbie Muir. During one of our huge group tag games, he tackled me. I think he attempted to pinch my non-existent fifth-grade butt, which was also encased in cords (blue). He then flashed a slow smile, yelled “Gotcha!” and ran off. I was tagged.

Obviously, this was the ultimate in romance. Not. But I was stupid back then.

The next day at our school’s annual Fun Fair he won me a cake in the cake walk. It was angel food. Yum. 

Then he faded away because his best friend Paul liked me. He just stopped talking to me. Oh, Carl… What cute corded babies we would have had together.


Jed of the jeans. Blonde hair. Blue eyes. Seventh grade. Never looked at me. Not once. Not even the day when I had the flu and threwup all over my social studies notebook in front of everyone. Oh, Jed…What apathetic children we would have had.


Steven of the pleated Chinos.. Uck. No, I didn’t love him, but he did say to me at the CCD Dance, “Let’s face it Carrie, neither of us are lookers so we might as well make do with each other.”

Did I have a snappy come-back?


I cried in the bathroom of the Roman Catholic Church and hit the stall with my fist, which I thought was appropriately melodramatic. Have I used this in a story? Yep. Girl, Hero. Oh, Steve…What insecure, neurotic children we would have had.

NOTE TO ALL BOYS: Do not wear pleated chinos!!!


Chris of the Bruce Springsteen-style jeans. He was our freshman high school quarterback or something. At the time we had the worst football team in all the nation. It was featured on ESPN.

He could not understand anything about me, but he held my hand at the movies and kissed me! I looked past his feathered hair and right at his bottom. It was an aesthetically-pleasing bottom that all my friends approved of.

He called me up on the phone and said, “Listen.”

Then he held the phone to his speaker and played Madonna’s Crazy for You. I hated Madonna! I was a U2, The Waterboys, The Alarm, Marvin Gaye kind-of-girl. I had to listen to the entire song because I didn’t want to be rude.

I should have been rude.

He called me up a week later and had his seven-year-old sister dump me. Sigh. Oh, Chris…what poor musical taste our children would have had, but, oh, their heinies would have been f-f-fine.


Joe of the nicely tailored pants. Joe was my high school boyfriend for three years and we broke up when I started college. We remained best friends. He was Harvest King. I was Harvest Queen. I loved him horribly true. Then one time I came home from college and he told me he was gay. Sigh. He is one of my favorite people in existence. He is an astonishingly good singer. Oh, Joe… what great pipes are children would have had if you had been the type of guy who wanted to have children with a woman.

Oh, this has become way too long. But what a good way to get character stuff. Excuse me while I go incorporate all this stuff into my WIP and sob over my broken, broken heart.

Stayed tuned for All the Girls Who Broke My Heart. 🙂



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

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

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

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

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Thanks to all of you who keep listening to our weirdness on the DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE podcast as we talk about random thoughts, writing advice and life tips. We’re sorry we laugh so much… sort of. Please share it and subscribe if you can. Please rate and like us if you are feeling kind, because it matters somehow. There’s a new episode every Tuesday!


Hey! If you download the Anchor application, you can call into the podcast, record a question, or just say ‘hi,’ and we’ll answer. You can be heard on our podcast! Sa-sweet!

No question is too wild. But just like Shaun does, try not to swear, okay?

Here is the link to the mobile app. Our latest episode is below. It’s also on YouTube here.

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